IRS Continues To Expand Tax Relief From COVID

On February 9, 2022 the IRS announced additional relief for taxpayers suspending the mailing of certain enforcement letters.

IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief

The IRS has established a special section focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus and as information becomes available, the IRS will be updating this special page on its website.

The executive branch of the Federal government declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency. Therefore, under Sec. 7508A, the declaration of an emergency under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, P.L. 100-707, the IRS is allowed to delay certain tax filing and payment deadlines.  While the IRS has not delayed the filing deadlines for 2021 tax returns, as part of ongoing efforts to provide additional help for people during this period the IRS is suspending more than a dozen additional letters, including the mailing of automated collection notices normally issued when a taxpayer owes additional tax, and the IRS has no record of a taxpayer filing a tax return.

Suspended IRS Notices

The IRS entered this filing season with several million original and amended returns filed by individuals and businesses that have not been processed due to challenges of the COVID pandemic.  With the IRS facing a huge backlog, it had to take this step to help avoid confusion for taxpayers and tax professionals.

The suspended notices include:

Individual Taxpayer Notices
Notice/Letter Number Title Description
CP80 Unfiled Tax Return This notice is generally sent when the IRS credited payments and/or other credits to a taxpayer’s account for the tax period shown on the notice, but the IRS hasn’t received a tax return for that tax period.
CP59 and CP 759 (Spanish) Unfiled Tax Return(s) – 1st Notice IRS sends this notice when there is no record of a prior year return being filed.
CP516 and CP616 (Spanish) Unfiled Tax Returns – 2nd Notice Request for information on a delinquent return as there is no record of a return filed.
CP518 and CP618 (Spanish) Final Notice – Return Delinquency This is a final reminder notice when there is no record of a prior year(s) return filed.
CP501 Balance Due – 1st Notice This notice is a reminder that there is an outstanding balance on a taxpayer’s accounts.
CP503 Balance Due – 2nd Notice This notice is the second reminder that a there is an outstanding balance on a taxpayer’s accounts.
CP504 Final Balance Due Notice – 3rd Notice, Intent to Levy The IRS sends this notice when a payment has not been received for an unpaid balance. This notice is a Notice of Intent to Levy (Internal Revenue Code Section 6331 (d)).
2802C Withholding Compliance letter This letter is mailed to taxpayers who have been identified as having under-withholding of Federal tax from their wages. This letter provides instructions to the taxpayer on how to properly correct their tax withholding.
Business Notices
CP259 and CP959 (Spanish) Return Delinquency IRS sends this notice when there is no record of a prior year return being filed.
CP518 and CP618 (Spanish) Final Notice – Return Delinquency This is a final reminder notice that we still have no record of a prior year tax return(s).

These automatic notices have been temporarily stopped until the backlog is worked through. The IRS says it will continue to assess the inventory of prior year returns to determine the appropriate time to resume the notices.

While the suspension of these notices started February 9th, some taxpayers may still receive these notices during the next few weeks as they were in the works of being sent or generated prior to today. Also, keep in mind that this suspension does not cover all IRS notices as many are legally required to be issued within a certain timeframe.

An Opportunity For Taxpayers Who Owe The IRS

Do not think that if you owe the IRS your tax problem will disappear because of the measures being considered by the government. Instead you should be utilizing this valuable time to get yourself prepared so that when activity in this nation regains momentum, you are ready to make the best offer or proposal to take control of your outstanding tax debts.

As a prerequisite to any proposal to the IRS, you must be in current compliance. That means if you have any outstanding income tax returns, they must be completed and submitted to IRS.

Also, if you are required to make estimated tax payments, you must be current in making those payments. Fortunately, as we are now in 2022, taxpayers who expect to owe for 2021 should have their 2021 income tax returns done now so that the 2021 liability can be rolled over into any proposal and the requirement to make estimated tax payments will now start for 2021.

Remember that COVID does not alter the tax laws, so all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations as normal. Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making payments and deposits with the IRS, as they are required to do.

Also, the IRS will continue to take steps where necessary to protect all applicable statutes of limitations. In instances where statute expirations might be jeopardized during this period and a taxpayer is not agreeing to extend such, the IRS will issue Notices of Deficiency and pursue other similar actions to protect the interests of the government in preserving such statute.

The take away from this – use the Federal government’s downtime to your advantage to prepare for the future.

What Should You Do?

You know that at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. we are always thinking of ways that our clients can save on taxes. If you are selected for an audit, stand up to the IRS by getting representation. Tax problems are usually a serious matter and must be handled appropriately so it’s important to that you’ve hired the best lawyer for your particular situation. The tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Los Angeles (including Long Beach and Ontario) and elsewhere in California are highly skilled in handling tax matters and can effectively represent at all levels with the IRS and State Tax Agencies including criminal tax investigations and attempted prosecutions, undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other foreign assets, and unreported foreign income. Also if you are involved in cannabis, check out what a cannabis tax attorney can do for you.  And if you are involved in cryptocurrency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

 

Getting Ready For Tax Season 2022 – What You Need To Know About Reporting Cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency / Bitcoin – Is this the 21st century answer to hiding assets in Swiss bank accounts? 

The IRS thinks this is the case which is why the IRS has stepped up its investigation efforts to uncover non-compliant taxpayers just like the IRS successfully did in its investigation of the Swiss banks leading Congress to enact the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”).  FATCA forces foreign banks to disclose information on U.S. account holders which the IRS receives and matches the information reported by U.S. taxpayers.  No longer can taxpayers avoid reporting income on their foreign bank accounts.  No longer can taxpayers avoid disclosing their foreign bank accounts.

With more businesses willing to accept and transact in cryptocurrencies, the absence of specific rules related to the reporting of business income from cryptocurrency transactions has created a “tax gap” that the IRS intends to close.

How To Report Cryptocurrency On Your 2021 Income Tax Return.

The IRS treats cryptocurrencies like property, meaning that anytime you spend, exchange, or sell your cryptocurrency, you create a taxable event. So just like stocks, you would look at how much you paid for your cryptocurrency, which is the cost basis, and the market value at the time you spent it or sales price when you sold it. That difference if disposed at a gain is subject to tax.  If disposed at a loss, that loss can offset your capital gains.  You would report these transactions on Form 8949, Sales And Other Dispositions Of Capital Assets.

In determining the cost basis of the cryptocurrency disposed, you get to pick and choose which cryptocurrency acquisition was the source of the disposition.  To show the smallest gain (or largest loss), you should pick the most expensive acquisition of that cryptocurrency later disposed.  This accounting method is known as “HIFO” accounting.  HIFO stands for “highest in, first out”.   By keeping detailed records of your cryptocurrency transactions and cost basis to employ this method of accounting, a taxpayer should be able to save on taxes.

How IRS Targets Cryptocurrency.

The IRS has one of the most extensive data collections in the world. Traditionally its power to enforce has come through the matching of data. For example, you received a W-2 Form from your employer showing how much you earned. That same form is submitted by your employer to the IRS. Now the IRS can match your return to that form to make sure you are reporting the income. The same thing goes for 1099 forms showing your earnings from miscellaneous income, gambling winnings, interest and dividend income, sales of assets, deductions, and so on.

But with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, there is no such third-party reporting.  Digital exchanges are not broker-regulated by the IRS. Exchanges do not issue a 1099 form, nor do they calculate gains or cost basis for the trader.

On May 20, 2021, U.S. Department Of Treasury released a report that included a set of proposed tax compliance initiatives with the goal of closing the gap between taxes owed and taxes actually paid. These measures are encompassed in the American Families Plan, which establishes rules for the proper reporting of cryptocurrency including a new rule that would require businesses to file a current transaction report when they receive cryptocurrency worth more than $10,000, just as most businesses are required to report cash payments in these amounts.

On August 10, 2021, H.R. 3684, known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, was passed by the Senate.  Although this bill has yet to be considered by the House of Representatives, it includes a provision that would require broker reporting of crypto-asset transfers. Section 80603 of the bill imposes new crypto-assets information reporting requirements on brokers. The Sec. 6045(c)(1) definition of “broker” is expanded to include anyone who for consideration effectuates “transfers of digital assets on behalf of another person”.  For these purposes, “digital asset” is defined as “any digital representation of value which is recorded on a cryptographically secured distributed ledger or any similar technology.”  Furthermore, the bill would amend Sec. 6045A to require brokers to provide information returns reporting any transfers of digital assets to accounts that are not maintained by a broker.

But the IRS does not stop there …

Chainalysis Reactor Software

The IRS and other federal agencies want to catch up on, and make sense of, the worldwide web of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.  Chainalysis is a company that created a cryptocurrency-tracing software dubbed “Reactor” which is being used by at least 10 federal agencies including the IRS.  The IRS Cyber Crimes Unit (CCU), a five-year-old division of its larger Criminal Investigation (CI) wing and the leader in the IRS’ cryptocurrency crimes investigations, uses this software as a tool to help identify taxpayers who could be non-compliant in the tax laws or involved in criminal activity.

Virtual currency is an ongoing focus area for IRS Criminal Investigation.

In 2018 the IRS announced a Virtual Currency Compliance Campaign to address tax noncompliance related to the use of virtual currency through outreach and examinations of taxpayers. The IRS will remain actively engaged in addressing non-compliance related to virtual currency transactions through a variety of efforts, ranging from taxpayer education to audits to criminal investigations.

IRS Access To Cryptocurrency Transactions.

A John Doe Summons issued by IRS was ruled enforceable by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley in November 2017 (United States v. Coinbase, Inc., United States District Court, Northern District Of California, Case No.17-cv-01431).  Coinbase located in San Francisco is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States.  Under the order, Coinbase will be required to turn over the names, addresses and tax identification numbers on 14,355 account holders. The Court has ordered Coinbase to produce the following customer information: (1) taxpayer ID number, (2) name, (3) birth date, (4) address, (5) records of account activity, including transaction logs or other records identifying the date, amount, and type of transaction (purchase/sale/exchange), the post transaction balance, and the names of counterparties to the transaction, and (6) all periodic statements of account or invoices (or the equivalent).

ON MARCH 16, 2018 COINBASE COMPLIED WITH THIS SUMMONS AND TURNED OVER DATA OF 14,355 ACCOUNT HOLDERS TO IRS.

Now while this net may not pick up taxpayers whose accounts have less than $20,000 in any one transaction type (buy, sell, send, or receive) in any one year from 2013 to 2015, it should be clear that this is the first step for the IRS to crush non-compliance for all taxpayers involved with cryptocurrency just like the IRS was successful in battling taxpayers having undisclosed foreign bank accounts.

10,000 Cryptocurrency Owners Receiving Warning Letters From The IRS

After years of analyzing data from third parties involved in the cryptocurrency exchanges, the IRS announced in a press release on July 26, 2019 that it has started sending letters to cryptocurrency owners advising them to report their cryptocurrency transactions and pay their taxes. More than 10,000 taxpayers have been identified by IRS as being involved in cryptocurrency transactions but who the IRS believes may not have been compliant in reporting these transactions on their tax returns.

Taxpayers who do not properly report the income tax consequences of virtual currency transactions are, when appropriate, liable for tax, penalties and interest. In some cases, taxpayers could be subject to criminal prosecution.

Notices Being Sent To Taxpayers Are The First Step In IRS Enforcement Action

The IRS is using three types of notices to send to more than 10,000 taxpayers by the end of August 2019 – notices 61736174 or 6174-A. All three notices indicate the IRS has information that the taxpayer receiving the notice currently has or has had virtual currency. However, it is Letter 6173 that is most serious as it requires a signature from the recipient under perjury that they are compliant with the U.S. tax code or requiring taxpayers to respond to the IRS and either file delinquent returns for tax years 2013 through 2017 or amend previously filed returns and include the applicable forms or schedules reporting cryptocurrency transactions. If you receive a Letter 6173, it should be a virtual certainty that you will be selected for examination.

If you receive Letter 6173, you should consult with a tax attorney as the submission of a statement signed under penalties of perjury that is false can result in serious consequences including criminal prosecution.

Form 1040 Makes It Harder For U.S. Taxpayers To Avoid Non-compliance Or Claim Ignorance.

Since 2019, Form 1040 includes the following checkbox question:

At any time during the year, did you receive, sell, send, exchange or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency?   ◊ Yes            ◊ No

Taxpayers will now be required to check the appropriate box to answer the virtual currency question. This requirement is similar to how the IRS includes questions on Schedule B inquiring whether a taxpayer has foreign bank accounts.

Taxpayers who answer “no” and for who the IRS later determines should have answered “yes” could face civil or criminal penalties and it could affect their success in having penalties abated for reasonable cause.

Penalties For Filing A False Income Tax Return Or Under-reporting Income

Failure to report all the money you make is a main reason folks end up facing an IRS auditor. Carelessness on your tax return might get you whacked with a 20% penalty. But that’s nothing compared to the 75% civil penalty for willful tax fraud and possibly facing criminal charges of tax evasion that if convicted could land you in jail.

Criminal Fraud – The law defines that any person who willfully attempts in any manner to evade or defeat any tax under the Internal Revenue Code or the payment thereof is, in addition to other penalties provided by law, guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, can be fined not more than $100,000 ($500,000 in the case of a corporation), or imprisoned not more than five years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution (Code Sec. 7201).

The term “willfully” has been interpreted to require a specific intent to violate the law (U.S. v. Pomponio, 429 U.S. 10 (1976)). The term “willfulness” is defined as the voluntary, intentional violation of a known legal duty (Cheek v. U.S., 498 U.S. 192 (1991)).

And even if the IRS is not looking to put you in jail, they will be looking to hit you with a big tax bill with hefty penalties.

Civil Fraud – Normally the IRS will impose a negligence penalty of 20% of the underpayment of tax (Code Sec. 6662(b)(1) and 6662(b)(2)) but violations of the Internal Revenue Code with the intent to evade income taxes may result in a civil fraud penalty. In lieu of the 20% negligence penalty, the civil fraud penalty is 75% of the underpayment of tax (Code Sec. 6663). The imposition of the Civil Fraud Penalty essentially doubles your liability to the IRS! And this is why the IRS is first sending Letter 6173 requiring a signature from the recipient under perjury that the taxpayer is compliant with the U.S. tax code BEFORE the IRS then decides to audit the taxpayer.

Voluntary Disclosure – The Way To Avoid Criminal Fines & Punishment

The IRS has not yet announced a specific tax amnesty for people who failed to report their gains and income from Bitcoin and other virtual currencies but under the existing Voluntary Disclosure Program, non-compliant taxpayers can come forward to avoid criminal prosecution and negotiate lower penalties.

What Should You Do?

With only several hundred people reporting their crypto gains each year since bitcoin’s launch, the IRS suspects that many crypto users have been evading taxes by not reporting crypto transactions on their tax returns.  And now that like-exchange treatment is prohibited on transactions that occur after 2017, now is the ideal time to be proactive and come forward with voluntary disclosure to lock in your deferred gains through 2017, eliminate your risk for criminal prosecution, and minimize your civil penalties.  Don’t delay because once the IRS has targeted you for investigation – even it’s is a routine random audit – it will be too late voluntarily come forward.

Take control of this risk and engage a bitcoin tax attorney at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), the Bay Area (San Francisco, San Jose and Walnut Creek) and other California locations.  We can come up with solutions and strategies to these risks and protect you and your business to mitigate criminal prosecution, seek abatement of penalties, and minimize your tax liability.  Also, if you are involved in cannabis, check out what our cannabis tax attorney can do for you.

How COVID-19 And Underfunding Impacts IRS Operations And Causes Refund Delays For Taxpayers.

As required by law, once a year the Taxpayer Advocate’s Office (an independent Federal government department that monitors the Internal Revenue Service) must send a report to Congress describing challenges the IRS is facing, problems experienced by taxpayers in dealing with the IRS and recommendations to resolve these problems.

On January 12, 2022, National Taxpayer Advocate Chief Erin M. Collins released her 2021 Annual Report to Congress focusing on the unprecedented challenges taxpayers faced in filing their tax returns and receiving refunds and stimulus payments during a year consumed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically noting that tens of millions of taxpayers experienced delays in the processing of their returns and with 77% of individual taxpayers receiving refunds “processing delays translated directly into refund delays”. The report also finds that the underfunding of the IRS over the last decade has resulted in the IRS still using antiquated technology and inadequate staffing levels to meet taxpayers’ needs.

Advocate Chief Collins also released the 2022 edition of the National Taxpayer Advocate’s “Purple Book” which presents 68 legislative recommendations designed to strengthen taxpayer rights and improve tax administration.

Impact of COVID-19 on tax administration

Advocate Chief Collins cited in her report that: “There is no way to sugarcoat the year 2021 in tax administration. The year 2021 provided no shortage of taxpayer problems. While my report focuses primarily on the problems of 2021, I am deeply concerned about the upcoming filing season”.

  • Unprocessed Returns: As of late December 2021, the IRS indicated there were still 6 million unprocessed individual returns and 2.3 million unprocessed business returns, more than 2 million unprocessed employer’s quarterly tax returns (Forms 941 and 941-X), and about 5 million pieces of taxpayer correspondence – with some of these submissions dating back at least to April 2021 and many taxpayers still waiting for their refunds nine months later.
  • Missing Or Inaccurate Economic Impact Payments (“EIP”) and Recovery Rebate Credits (“RRC”): The most common discrepancy involved RRC claims by taxpayers who did not receive some or all of their stimulus payments as EIPs the prior year. These returns had to be manually reviewed, and the IRS issued more than 11 million math error notices to taxpayers over RRC discrepancies with IRS records. When a taxpayer disagreed with a math error notice and submitted a response, the taxpayer’s response went into the IRS’s paper processing backlog, further delaying the refund.
  • Delayed Responses: The IRS received 6.2 million taxpayer responses to proposed adjustments and took an average of 199 days to process them – up from 74 days in the 2019 fiscal year, the most recent pre-pandemic year.

An Opportunity For Taxpayers Who Owe The IRS.

Do not think that if you owe the IRS your tax problem will disappear because the IRS is under challenges from COVID-19 or from underfunding.  Instead you should be utilizing this valuable time to get yourself prepared so that when IRS is resuming action against you, you are ready to make the best offer or proposal to take control of your outstanding tax debts.

As a prerequisite to any proposal to the IRS, you must be in current compliance.  That means if you have any outstanding income tax returns, they must be completed and submitted to IRS.  Also, if you are required to make estimated tax payments, you must be current in making those payments.  Fortunately, as we are now in 2022, taxpayers who expect to owe for 2021 should have their 2021 income tax returns done now so that the 2020 liability can be rolled over into any proposal and the requirement to make estimated tax payments will now start for 2022.

Remember that COVID-19 does not terminate the tax laws, so all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations as normal. Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making payments and deposits with the IRS, as they are required to do by law.

The take away from this – use the Federal government’s downtime to your advantage to prepare for the future.

What Should You Do?

You know that at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. we are always thinking of ways that our clients can save on taxes. If you are selected for an audit, stand up to the IRS by getting representation. Tax problems are usually a serious matter and must be handled appropriately so it’s important to that you’ve hired the best lawyer for your particular situation. The tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Metropolitan Los Angeles (Long Beach and Ontario) and elsewhere in California are highly skilled in handling tax matters and can effectively represent at all levels with the IRS and State Tax Agencies including criminal tax investigations and attempted prosecutions, undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other foreign assets, and unreported foreign income.  Also if you are involved in cannabis, check out what our cannabis tax attorneys can do for you.  And if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

Tax Planning In The Era Of COVID-19 – What You Need To Know About Business Meals And Advertising And Marketing Costs

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, Pub. L. No. 116- 260, 134 Stat. 1182 (December 27, 2020) amended §274 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) providing a temporary 100-percent deduction for expenses that are paid or incurred after December 31, 2020, and before January 1, 2023, for food or beverages provided by a restaurant.

On April 8, 2021 the IRS released Notice 2021-25 which provides guidance regarding the temporary 100-percent deduction for expenses that are paid or incurred in 2021 and 2022, for food or beverages provided by a restaurant.  In particular, the notice explains when the temporary 100-percent deduction applies and when the 50-percent limitation continues to apply for purposes of § 274 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Historical Treatment Of Deductions Relating to Meal And Entertainment Expenses

Under prior law, a taxpayer generally can deduct business-related meal and entertainment expenses paid or incurred in entertaining a client, customer, or employee. The taxpayer had to show that the item was directly related to (or, in certain cases, associated with) the active conduct of the taxpayer’s trade or business.  In such case, a deduction is allowed, although it is generally limited to 50% of the expense amount.

Starting with 2018 more stringent rules apply with respect to a deduction for meal and entertainment expenses paid after 2017.  The Tax Cuts And Jobs Act Of 2017 (“TCJA”) TCJA signed into law by President Trump on December 22, 2017, repeals the deduction for most entertainment expenses, effective for amounts incurred after 2017. There was no exception for amount incurred that are directly related to, or associated with, the active conduct of the taxpayer’s trade or business. This repeal would extend to the cost of tickets to sporting events, stadium license fees, private boxes at sporting events, theater tickets, golf club dues, etc.

However, it is still possible that some amounts may still be deductible if they meet the exceptions in IRC § 274(e), a provision that was not touched by the TCJA.

The main exceptions in IRC § 274(e) allowing deductibility are:

  1. Expenses for food and beverages (and facilities used in connection therewith) furnished on the business premises of the taxpayer primarily for the taxpayer’s employees.
  2. Expenses for recreational, social, or similar activities (and facilities used in connection therewith) primarily for the benefit of employees, other than highly-compensated employees.
  3. Expenses incurred by a taxpayer which are directly related to business meetings of the taxpayer’s employees, stockholders, agents, or directors.
  4. Expenses directly related and necessary to attendance at a business meeting or convention of any certain organizations such as business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, and boards of trade.
  5. Expenses for goods, services and facilities made available by the taxpayer to the general public.

This lack of clarity by the TCJA created a lot of confusion in the business community which the IRS was looking to address.

IRS Guidance Issued 2018

On October 3, 2018 the IRS issued guidance, Notice 2018-76, clarifying that taxpayers may generally continue to deduct 50% of the food and beverage expenses associated with operating their trade or business, despite changes to the meal and entertainment expense deduction by the TCJA.    Taxpayers can rely on the guidance in the notice until the IRS issues proposed regulations.

Under the interim guidance, taxpayers may deduct 50% of an otherwise allowable business meal expense if:

  1. The expense is an ordinary and necessary business expense under IRC § 162(a) paid or incurred during the tax year when carrying on any trade or business;
  2. The expense is not lavish or extravagant under the circumstances;
  3. The taxpayer, or an employee of the taxpayer, is present when the food or beverages are furnished;
  4. The food and beverages are provided to a current or potential business customer, client, consultant, or similar business contact; and
  5. For food and beverages provided during or at an entertainment activity, they are purchased separately from the entertainment, or the cost of the food and beverages is stated separately from the cost of the entertainment on one or more bills, invoices, or receipts.

The interim guidance includes three examples illustrating how the IRS would apply these rules. All three examples involve attending a sporting event with a business client and having food and drink while attending the event.

Living In The Era Of COVID-19 – Impact Of New Law And New Guidance

Most taxpayers consider business meals to be part of entertainment and promotion which is an area that IRS targets in examinations of income tax returns as the IRS believes that there is abuse of this provision and/or a higher level of errors made by taxpayers in trying the comply with the law’s limitations.  So the issuance by IRS of Notice 2021-25 is extremely timely.

To summarize –

  1. The 100% deduction of business meals is available when the business meal from a restaurant. The term “restaurant” means a business that prepares and sells food or beverages to retail customers for immediate consumption, regardless of whether the food or beverages are consumed on the business’s premises. However, a restaurant does not include a business that primarily sells pre-packaged food or beverages not for immediate consumption, such as a grocery store; specialty food store; beer, wine, or liquor store; drug store; convenience store; newsstand; or a vending machine or kiosk.  In addition, an employer may not treat as a restaurant for purposes of this provision: (a) any eating facility located on the business premises of the employer and used in furnishing meals excluded from an employee’s gross income, or (b) any employer-operated eating facility treated as a de minimis fringe even if such eating facility is operated by a third party under contract with the employer as described. Additionally, the 5 points listed above would still apply.
  2. Ineligible business meals described above should still qualify to be 50% deductible but again the 5 points listed above would still apply.

In all cases, only the food and beverage portion are deductible.  Entertainment continues to be non-deductible.  The 100% deduction enhancement that started January 1, 2021 expires January 1, 2023.

Advertising And Marketing Costs

The tax law allows businesses to deduct expenses that help them bring in new customers and keep existing ones. These costs may include expenses for advertising and marketing. Here are some details about this valuable tax deduction that can help small businesses save money on their taxes.

Advertising and marketing costs must be ordinary and necessary to be tax deductible.

  • An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in the industry.
  • A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for the trade or business. An expense does not have to be indispensable to be considered necessary.

Here are a few advertising expenses that are usually deductible:

  • Reasonable advertising expenses that are directly related to the business activities.
  • An expense for the cost of institutional or goodwill advertising to keep the business name before the public if it relates to a reasonable expectation to gain business in the future.  An example provided by IRS is the cost of advertising that encourages people to contribute to the Red Cross or to participate in similar causes is usually deductible.
  • The cost of providing meals, entertainment, or recreational facilities to the public as a means of advertising or promoting goodwill in the community.

Generally, small businesses cannot deduct amounts they pay to influence legislation, which includes advertising in a convention program of a political party, or in any other publication if any of the proceeds from the publication are for, or intended for, the use of a political party or candidate.

What Should You Do?

Like with any expense you are looking to deduct it is important to make sure that the tax law would support a deduction and that you have the required backup documentation in case you are audited by the IRS. Also, be mindful that in any audit by IRS, an agent will be making sure that taxpayers are not inflating the amount charged for food and beverages in order to circumvent the disallowance of entertainment.

You know that at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. we are always thinking of ways that our clients can save on taxes. If you are selected for an audit, stand up to the IRS by getting representation. Tax problems are usually a serious matter and must be handled appropriately so it’s important to that you’ve hired the best lawyer for your particular situation. The tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), San Francisco Bay Area (including San Jose and Walnut Creek) and elsewhere in California are highly skilled in handling tax matters and can effectively represent at all levels with the IRS and State Tax Agencies including criminal tax investigations and attempted prosecutions, undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other foreign assets, and unreported foreign income.  Additionally, if you are involved in the cannabis industry, check out Cannabis Tax Attorney.  Also, if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a Bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

More COVID-19 Tax Relief: IRS extends additional tax deadlines for individuals to May 17 and affirms deductibility of PPE

The IRS announced that individuals have until May 17, 2021 to meet certain deadlines that would normally fall on April 15th, such as making IRA contributions and filing certain claims for refund.  Additionally, the IRS announced that the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of coronavirus are deductible medical expenses.

This follows a previous announcement from the IRS on March 17, 2021, that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year was extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021.  Notice 2021-21 provides details on the additional tax deadlines which have been postponed until May 17th.

Time to make contributions to IRAs and health savings accounts extended to May 17th

In extending the deadline to file Form 1040 series returns to May 17th, the IRS is automatically postponing to the same date the time for individuals to make 2020 contributions to their individual retirement arrangements (IRAs and Roth IRAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), Archer Medical Savings Accounts (Archer MSAs), and Coverdell education savings accounts (Coverdell ESAs).  This postponement also automatically postpones to May 17, 2021, the time for reporting and payment of the 10% additional tax on amounts includible in gross income from 2020 distributions from IRAs or workplace-based retirement plans.  The IRS is also postponing the due date for Form 5498 series returns related to these accounts to June 30, 2021.

2017 unclaimed refunds – deadline extended to May 17th

For tax year 2017 Federal income tax returns, the normal April 15th deadline to claim a refund has also been extended to May 17, 2021. The law provides a three-year window of opportunity to claim a refund.  If taxpayers do not file a return within three years, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury. The law requires taxpayers to properly address, mail and ensure the tax return is postmarked by the May 17, 2021, date.

Additionally, foreign trusts and estates with federal income tax filing or payment obligations, who file Form 1040-NR, now have until May 17, 2021.

2021 AFSP deadline postponed to May 17th

Tax preparers interested in voluntarily participating in the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) for calendar-year 2021 now have until May 17, 2021 to file their application with the Internal Revenue Service. The normal due date is April 15th.

First Quarter 2021 estimated tax payment remains due April 15th

IRS’ announcement does not alter the April 15, 2021 deadline for estimated tax payments.  These payments are still due on April 15th. Taxes must be paid as taxpayers earn or receive income during the year, either through withholding or estimated tax payments. In general, estimated tax payments are made quarterly to the IRS by people whose income isn’t subject to income tax withholding, including self-employment income, interest, dividends, alimony or rental income. Most taxpayers automatically have their taxes withheld from their paychecks and submitted to the IRS by their employer.

Deductibility of PPE

Expenses for masks, hand sanitizers, sanitizing wipes and other personal protective equipment (PPE) used primarily to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be treated as amounts paid for medical care under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) §213(d).  These expenses are included in Medical Expenses on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, and the amount in excess of 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income is deductible.

Alternatively, the amounts paid for PPE are also eligible to be paid or reimbursed under health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs), Archer medical savings accounts (Archer MSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), or health savings accounts (HSAs).

An Opportunity For Taxpayers Who Owe The IRS

As a prerequisite to any proposal to the IRS, you must be in current compliance. That means if you have any outstanding income tax returns, they must be completed and submitted to IRS.

Also, if you are required to make estimated tax payments, you must be current in making those payments. Fortunately, as we are now in 2021, taxpayers who expect to owe for 2020 should have their 2020 income tax returns done now so that the 2020 liability can be rolled over into any proposal and the requirement to make estimated tax payments will now start for 2021.

Remember that COVID-19 does not alter the tax laws, so all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations as normal. Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making payments and deposits with the IRS, as they are required to do.

The take away from this – use the Federal government’s extension to your advantage to prepare for the future.

What Should You Do?

You know that at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. we are always thinking of ways that our clients can save on taxes. If you are selected for an audit, stand up to the IRS by getting representation. Tax problems are usually a serious matter and must be handled appropriately so it’s important to that you’ve hired the best lawyer for your particular situation. The tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Northern California (Sacramento and San Francisco Bay Area) and elsewhere in California are highly skilled in handling tax matters and can effectively represent at all levels with the IRS and State Tax Agencies including criminal tax investigations and attempted prosecutions, undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other foreign assets, and unreported foreign income. Also if you are involved in cannabis, check out what a cannabis tax attorney can do for you.  And if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

Tax Relief During COVID-19: How taxpayers struggling with tax debts can benefit.

If you are struggling financially because of the pandemic you should tap into the IRS’ newest program – the “Taxpayer Relief Initiative” – with its expanded taxpayer options for making payments and alternatives to resolve balances owed.

On November 2, 2020 The Internal Revenue Service announced a number of changes designed to help struggling taxpayers impacted by COVID-19 more easily settle their tax debts with the IRS by establishing a new program called the “Taxpayer Relief Initiative”.  This program follows what was previously established by the IRS earlier in 2020, specifically the “People First Initiative”.

Taxpayers who owe always had options to seek help through payment plans and other tools from the IRS, but the new IRS Taxpayer Relief Initiative is expanding on those existing tools even more.

The revised COVID-related collection procedures will be helpful to taxpayers, especially those who have a record of filing their returns and paying their taxes on time.

Among the highlights of the Taxpayer Relief Initiative:

  • Taxpayers who qualify for a short-term payment plan option may now have up to 180 days to resolve their tax liabilities instead of 120 days.
  • The IRS is offering flexibility for some taxpayers who are temporarily unable to meet the payment terms of an accepted Offer in Compromise.
  • The IRS will automatically add certain new tax balances to existing Installment Agreements, for individual and out of business taxpayers. This taxpayer-friendly approach will occur instead of defaulting the agreement, which can complicate matters for those trying to pay their taxes.
  • To reduce burden, certain qualified individual taxpayers who owe less than $250,000 may set up Installment Agreements without providing a financial statement or substantiation if their monthly payment proposal is sufficient.
  • Some individual taxpayers who only owe for the 2019 tax year and who owe less than $250,000 may qualify to set up an Installment Agreement without a notice of federal tax lien filed by the IRS.
  • Additionally, qualified taxpayers with existing Direct Debit Installment Agreements may now be able to use the Online Payment Agreement system to propose lower monthly payment amounts and change their payment due dates.

Additional details on the Taxpayer Relief Initiative

The IRS offers options for short-term and long-term payment plans, including Installment Agreements via the Online Payment Agreement (OPA) system. In general, this service is available to individuals who owe $50,000 or less in combined income tax, penalties and interest or businesses that owe $25,000 or less combined that have filed all tax returns. The short-term payment plans are now able to be extended from 120 to 180 days for certain taxpayers.

Installment Agreement options are available for taxpayers who cannot full pay their balance but can pay their balance over time. The IRS expanded Installment Agreement options to remove the requirement for financial statements and substantiation in more circumstances for balances owed up to $250,000 if the monthly payment proposal is sufficient. The IRS also modified Installment Agreement procedures to further limit requirements for Federal Tax Lien determinations for some taxpayers who only owe for tax year 2019.

In addition to payment plans and Installment Agreements, other solutions for taxpayers who owe taxes include Temporarily Delaying Collection Actions, applying for an Offer in Compromise and Relief from Penalties through penalty abatement.

An Opportunity For Taxpayers Who Owe The IRS

Do not think that if you owe the IRS your tax problem will disappear because of the measures being considered by the government. Instead you should be utilizing this valuable time to get yourself prepared so that when activity in this nation regains momentum, you are ready to make the best offer or proposal to take control of your outstanding tax debts.

As a prerequisite to any proposal to the IRS, you must be in current compliance. That means if you have any outstanding income tax returns, they must be completed and submitted to IRS.

Also, if you are required to make estimated tax payments, you must be current in making those payments. Fortunately, as we are now at the end of 2020, taxpayers who expect to owe for 2020 should have their 2020 income tax returns done as early as possible in 2021 so that the 2020 liability can be rolled over into any proposal and the requirement to make estimated tax payments will start for 2021.

Remember that COVID-19 does not alter the tax laws, so all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations as normal. Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making payments and deposits with the IRS, as they are required to do.

Also, the IRS will continue to take steps where necessary to protect all applicable statutes of limitations. In instances where statute expirations might be jeopardized during this period and a taxpayer is not agreeing to extend such, the IRS will issue Notices of Deficiency and pursue other similar actions to protect the interests of the government in preserving such statute.

If you are having a tax issue, don’t go silent. Don’t ignore the notice arriving in your mailbox. Tax problems don’t get better with time.

Click here for the KahnTaxLaw Coronavirus Resource Center for more information on COVID-19 tax relief.

What Should You Do?

You know that at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. we are always thinking of ways that our clients can save on taxes. If you are selected for an audit, stand up to the IRS by getting representation. Tax problems are usually a serious matter and must be handled appropriately so it’s important to that you’ve hired the best lawyer for your particular situation. The tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), San Diego County (Carlsbad) and elsewhere in California are highly skilled in handling tax matters and can effectively represent at all levels with the IRS and State Tax Agencies including criminal tax investigations and attempted prosecutions, undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other foreign assets, and unreported foreign income. Also if you are involved in cannabis, check out what a cannabis tax attorney can do for you.  And if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

Where Is My IRS Second Economic Impact Payment?

Starting December 29, 2020 the IRS begins delivering the second round of Economic Impact Payments

On December 27, 2020 President Trump signed the $900 million Stimulus Bill formally known as the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (the “CARES Act II”) to provide assistance to workplaces and employees. The CARES Act II provides many benefits intended to deliver cash into the hands of individuals and businesses, as well as many other tax provisions.  One of the most publicized provisions is the immediate cash payments by the Federal government to qualifying taxpayers.

Who is eligible for the economic impact payment?

To get cash assistance promptly delivered to individual taxpayers, qualifying taxpayers will receive one-time cash payments of $600 for individual taxpayers or if married, $1,200 for married couples.  An additional $600 may be paid for each qualifying child.

These amounts are subject to reduction if the individual’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) exceeds $75,000 for an individual taxpayer; $112,500 for head of household; or $150,000 for a married couple. Nonresident alien individuals and dependents who are 17 and older are ineligible to receive the payment.

For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible.

How will the IRS know where to send my payment?

The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible.

The cash payments will be based on the most recent tax information available to the IRS looking at a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return filed and if it has not yet been filed, then the taxpayer’s 2018 tax return filed.

The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the return filed.

If you haven’t filed taxes yet for one of those years, you should still consider having them completed and filed with the IRS so that if further legislation is passed in 2021 extending additional relief, the IRS will have your information to direct deposit any future payments.

The IRS does not have my direct deposit information. What can I do?

If the IRS does not have your bank account information, your check will be mailed to you at your last known address.  NO ONE FROM THE IRS WILL CALL YOU FOR THIS INFORMATION.  Checks should be delivered sometime in January 2021.

I am not typically required to file a tax return. Can I still receive my payment?

The IRS developed a web-based portal for individuals to provide their income information and banking information to receive an economic impact payment. The web-based portal requires you to enter: your personal information, marital status, dependents, bank account information and other information to verify your identity. If you did this already for the first economic impact payment, the IRS should be using this same information for delivering funds for the second economic impact payment.  NO ONE FROM THE IRS WILL CALL YOU FOR THIS INFORMATION.

Low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities who are otherwise not required to file a tax return will not owe tax.

I have not filed my tax return for 2018 or 2019. Can I still receive an economic impact payment?

Yes. Anyone with a tax filing obligation who has not yet filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 to file as soon as they can to receive an economic impact payment. Taxpayers should include direct deposit banking information on the return.

If you haven’t filed taxes yet for one of those years, you should still consider having them completed and filed with the IRS so that if further legislation is passed in 2021 extending additional relief, the IRS will have your information to direct deposit any future payments.

The IRS developed a web-based portal for individuals to provide their income information and banking information to receive an economic impact payment. The web-based portal requires you to enter: your personal information, marital status, dependents, bank account information and other information to verify your identity. If you did this already for the first economic impact payment, the IRS should be using this same information for delivering funds for the second economic impact payment.  NO ONE FROM THE IRS WILL CALL YOU FOR THIS INFORMATION.

When should I expect to receive my second economic impact payment?

The Treasury Department announced that the initial direct deposit payments may begin arriving as early as December 29th for some and will continue into next week. Paper checks will begin to be mailed, Wednesday, December 30th.  Some taxpayers may see the direct deposit payments as pending or as provisional payments in their accounts before the official payment date of January 4, 2021. As with the first round of payments under the CARES Act, most taxpayers will receive these payments by direct deposit. For Social Security and other beneficiaries who received the first round of payments via Direct Express, they will receive this second payment the same way.  Anyone who received the first round of payments earlier this year but doesn’t receive a payment via direct deposit will generally receive a check or, in some instances, a debit card. For those in this category, the payments will conclude in January 2021.

What happens when I file a 2020 tax return next year?

Keep in mind that if your 2020 tax return will reflect an AGI higher than the above applicable threshold, you should expect to pay back at least some or perhaps all of the cash payments you received under the CARES Act.  Also, eligible individuals who did not receive an Economic Impact Payment this year – either the first or the second payment – will be able to claim it when they file their 2020 taxes in 2021.

Beware Of New IRS Scam!

You get a call from someone claiming to be working for the IRS claiming:

 “We need your personal information in order for you to claim the coronavirus stimulus money.”

This appears to be an identity theft scheme to obtain recipients’ personal and financial information so the scammers can provide the IRS with their banking information to get your economic impact payment deposited into their account.  In reality, the IRS WILL NOT CALL YOU! Federal aid will either be deposited via account information the IRS already has from your tax filings or they will send you a check.

Where can I get more information?

The IRS has established a special section focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus and as information becomes available, the IRS will be updating this special page on its website.  You can also check out the KahnTaxLaw Coronavirus Resource Center.

An Opportunity For Taxpayers Who Owe The IRS

Do not think that if you owe the IRS your tax problem will disappear because of the measures being considered by the government. Instead you should be utilizing this valuable time to get yourself prepared so that when activity in this nation regains momentum, you are ready to make the best offer or proposal to take control of your outstanding tax debts.

As a prerequisite to any proposal to the IRS, you must be in current compliance. That means if you have any outstanding income tax returns, they must be completed and submitted to IRS.

Also, if you are required to make estimated tax payments, you must be current in making those payments. Fortunately, as we are now at the end of 2020, taxpayers who expect to owe for 2020 should have their 2020 income tax returns done as early as possible in 2021 so that the 2020 liability can be rolled over into any proposal and the requirement to make estimated tax payments will start for 2021.

Remember that COVID-19 does not alter the tax laws, so all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations as normal. Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making payments and deposits with the IRS, as they are required to do.

Also, the IRS will continue to take steps where necessary to protect all applicable statutes of limitations. In instances where statute expirations might be jeopardized during this period and a taxpayer is not agreeing to extend such, the IRS will issue Notices of Deficiency and pursue other similar actions to protect the interests of the government in preserving such statute.

What Should You Do?

You know that at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. we are always thinking of ways that our clients can save on taxes. If you are selected for an audit, stand up to the IRS by getting representation. Tax problems are usually a serious matter and must be handled appropriately so it’s important to that you’ve hired the best lawyer for your particular situation. The tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Los Angeles (including Long Beach and Ontario) and elsewhere in California are highly skilled in handling tax matters and can effectively represent at all levels with the IRS and State Tax Agencies including criminal tax investigations and attempted prosecutions, undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other foreign assets, and unreported foreign income. Also if you are involved in cannabis, check out what a cannabis tax attorney can do for you.  And if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

Beware That Soon IRS Will Be Unleashed And Fully Operational

Relief Under “The IRS People First Initiative” Expires July 15, 2020. 

IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief 

President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency. Therefore, under Sec. 7508A, the declaration of an emergency under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, P.L. 100-707, the IRS is allowed to delay certain tax filing and payment deadlines.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig’s Announcement Of “The IRS People First Initiative”

On March 25, 2020 the IRS issued a press release  announcing a sweeping series of steps to assist taxpayers by providing relief on a variety of issues ranging from easing payment guidelines to postponing compliance actions in what it calls “The IRS People First Initiative”.

These new changes include issues ranging from postponing certain payments related to Installment Agreements and Offers in Compromise to collection and limiting certain enforcement actions. The IRS will be temporarily modifying the following activities as soon as possible; the projected start date will be April 1, 2020 and the effort will initially run through July 15, 2020. During this period, to the maximum extent possible, the IRS will avoid in-person contacts.

Highlights of the key actions in the IRS People First Initiative include:

Relief For Existing Installment Agreements –For taxpayers under an existing Installment Agreement, payments due between April 1, 2020 and July 15, 2020 are suspended. Taxpayers who are currently unable to comply with the terms of an Installment Payment Agreement, including a Direct Deposit Installment Agreement, may suspend payments during this period if they prefer. Furthermore, the IRS will not default any Installment Agreements during this period. By law, interest will continue to accrue on any unpaid balances.

Preservation Of Offers in Compromise (OIC) – The IRS is taking several steps to assist taxpayers in various stages of the OIC process:

  • Pending OIC applications– The IRS will allow taxpayers until July 15, 2020 to provide requested additional information to support a pending OIC. In addition, the IRS will not close any pending OIC request before July 15, 2020, without the taxpayer’s consent.
  • OIC Payments– Taxpayers have the option of suspending all payments on accepted OICs until July 15, 2020, although by law interest will continue to accrue on any unpaid balances.
  • Delinquent Return Filings– The IRS will not default an OIC for those taxpayers who are delinquent in filing their tax return for tax year  However, taxpayers should file any delinquent 2018 return (and their 2019 return) on or before July 15, 2020.

Limited Suspension Of Field Collection Activities – Liens and levies (including any seizures of a personal residence) initiated by field revenue officers will be suspended through July 15, 2020. However, field revenue officers will continue to pursue high-income non-filers and perform other similar activities where warranted.

Suspension Of New Automated Liens and Levies – New automatic, systemic liens and levies will be suspended during through July 15, 2020.

Suspension Of Passport Certifications to the State Department – IRS will suspend new certifications to the Department of State for taxpayers who are “seriously delinquent” through July 15, 2020.  Certification prevents taxpayers from receiving or renewing passports.

Suspension Of Forwarding New Accounts To Private Debt Collection – New delinquent accounts will not be forwarded by the IRS to private collection agencies to work through July 15, 2020.

Limited Suspension Of New Field, Office and Correspondence Audits – Through July 15, 2020, the IRS will generally not start new field, office and correspondence examinations. We will continue to work refund claims where possible, without in-person contact. However, the IRS may start new examinations where deemed necessary to protect the government’s interest in preserving the applicable statute of limitations.

Suspension Of In-Person Meetings  In-person meetings regarding current field, office and correspondence examinations will be suspended through July 15, 2020; however, these examinations can continue remotely, where possible.

Earned Income Tax Credit and Wage Verification Reviews – Taxpayers have until July 15, 2020, to respond to the IRS to verify that they qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit or to verify their income. Until July 15, 2020, the IRS will not deny these credits for a failure to provide requested information.

Independent Office of Appeals – Appeals employees will continue to work their cases. Although Appeals is not currently holding in-person conferences with taxpayers, conferences may be held over the telephone or by video-conference.

Opportunity For Taxpayers Who Owe The IRS

Do not think that if you owe the IRS your tax problem will disappear because of the measures being considered by the government. Instead you should be utilizing this valuable time to get yourself prepared so that when IRS enforcement activity regains momentum after July 15, 2020, you are ready to make the best offer or proposal to take control of your outstanding tax debts.

As a prerequisite to any proposal to the IRS, you must be in current compliance. That means if you have any outstanding income tax returns, they must be completed and submitted to IRS.

Also, if you are required to make estimated tax payments, you must be current in making those payments. Fortunately, as we are now in 2020, taxpayers who expect to owe for 2019 should have their 2019 income tax returns done now so that the 2019 liability can be rolled over into any proposal and the requirement to make estimated tax payments will now start for 2020.

Remember that COVID-19 does not alter the tax laws, so all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations as normal. Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making payments and deposits with the IRS, as they are required to do.

Also, the IRS will continue to take steps where necessary to protect all applicable statutes of limitations. In instances where statute expirations might be jeopardized during this period and a taxpayer is not agreeing to extend such, the IRS will issue Notices of Deficiency and pursue other similar actions to protect the interests of the government in preserving such statute.

What Should You Do?

You know that at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. we are always thinking of ways that our clients can save on taxes. If you are selected for an audit, stand up to the IRS by getting representation. Tax problems are usually a serious matter and must be handled appropriately so it’s important to that you’ve hired the best lawyer for your particular situation. The tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Los Angeles (including Long Beach and Ontario) and elsewhere in California are highly skilled in handling tax matters and can effectively represent at all levels with the IRS and State Tax Agencies including criminal tax investigations and attempted prosecutions, undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other foreign assets, and unreported foreign income. Also if you are involved in cannabis, check out what a cannabis tax attorney can do for you.  And if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

Paycheck Protection Program Changes Are Here!

On March 27, 2020 President Trump signed the $2 trillion Stimulus Bill formally known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security [CARES] Act (the “CARES Act”) to provide assistance to workplaces and employees. The CARES Act provides many benefits intended to deliver cash into the hands of individuals and businesses, as well as many other tax provisions.  One of the most publicized provisions is the access of funds through banks to qualifying businesses and self-employed taxpayers to pay for payroll, insurance premiums and mortgage, rent and utility payments.  This is known as the “Paycheck Protection Program” (PPP).

Under this program, small businesses with 500 or fewer employees including not-for-profits, veterans’ organizations, tribal concerns, self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships, and independent contractors are eligible for loans to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs including benefits as well as other costs. The PPP launched in early April with $349 billion in funding that was exhausted in less than two weeks. Congress then provided an additional $310 billion in funding.

However, there has been criticism of this program as many businesses have been subject to continued lockdown orders preventing them to achieve loan forgiveness within the original 8-week timeframe, and businesses located in metropolitan areas with higher-than-average rent expenses who would have greater difficulty achieving loan forgiveness within the pre-existing terms of PPPP.  So on June 5, 2020 President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act which makes it easier for businesses to secure the full benefits provided in this program.

What can PPP funds be used to pay?

PPP funds can be used to pay payroll costs including benefits (with salaries being under $100,000 per employee), interest on mortgages, rent payments, and utility bills; however, no more than 40% (was previously 25%) of the funds can be used for non-payroll costs.

What counts as payroll costs?

  • Salary, wages, commissions, or tips (capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee);
  • Employee benefits including costs for vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave; allowance for separation or dismissal; payments required for the provisions of group health care benefits including insurance premiums; and payment of any retirement benefit;
  • State and local taxes assessed on compensation; and
  • For a sole proprietor or independent contractor: wages, commissions, income, or net earnings from self-employment, capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee.

What counts as non-payroll costs?

  • Interest on mortgage obligations, incurred before February 15, 2020;
  • Rent, under lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020; and
  • Utilities, for which service began before February 15, 2020.

Under what circumstances do I have to repay these PPP funds received?

The loan of the PPP funds will be forgiven if you maintain your pre-existing employees at their pre-existing salary levels.  Also, that you do not pay out more than 40% (was previously 25%) of the PPP funds for non-payroll costs specifically limited to: interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.

How soon can one apply?

Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships affected by the coronavirus pandemic can apply for loans under the PPP.  Independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply starting April 10, 2020.  The application period ends June 30, 2020.

Where do I apply?

The application can be found here on the United States Treasury website, along with details for borrowers and lenders.  After completing the application, you would then go to any existing SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating. Visit www.sba.gov for a list of SBA lenders.

How large can my loan be?

Loans can be for up to two months of your average monthly payroll costs from the last year plus an additional 25% of that amount. That amount is subject to a $10 million cap. If you are a seasonal or new business, you will use different applicable time periods for your calculation. Payroll costs will be capped at $100,000 annualized for each employee.

How many loans can I take out under PPP?

Only one.

Are there any charges or requirements for collateral or personal guarantees?

No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.

What if I do not spend all the funds or make non-qualifying expenditures?

The amount of loan forgiveness will be reduced including if full-time headcount declines or if salaries and wages decrease.  Also, if you use the loan amount for anything other than payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities payments over the 24 weeks (was previously 8 weeks) after getting the loan.  Current PPP borrowers who applied before June 5, 2020 can keep the original eight-week period if they choose not to extend the period to 24 weeks.

Do I need to restore workforce levels and wages to pre-pandemic levels?

Yes, but borrowers can use the 24-week period to restore their workforce levels and wages to the pre-pandemic levels in order to apply for full forgiveness. This must be done by December 31, 2020 (was previously June 30th).

Are there any exceptions to secure loan forgiveness if not fully restoring workforce levels?

Yes, there are two new exceptions allowing borrowers to achieve full PPP loan forgiveness even if they don’t fully restore their workforce.

  1. Previous guidance already allowed borrowers to exclude from those calculations employees who turned down good faith offers to be rehired at the same hours and wages as before the pandemic.
  2. The new law allows borrowers to adjust because they could not find qualified employees or were unable to restore business operations to February 15, 2020, levels due to COVID-19 related operating restrictions.

How can I request loan forgiveness?

You can submit a request to the lender that is servicing the loan. The request will include documents that verify the number of full-time equivalent employees and pay rates, as well as the payments on eligible mortgage, lease, and utility obligations. You must certify that the documents are true and that you used the forgiveness amount to keep employees and make eligible mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments.

Can I appeal a decision by the lender denying loan forgiveness?

Yes.

What is my interest rate?

1% fixed rate.

When do I need to start paying interest on my loan?

Unless the loan is forgiven, all payments are deferred for 10 months (was previously 6 months) after the end of the covered period; however, interest will continue to accrue over this period.

When is my loan due?

In 5 years (was previously 2 years). Current PPP borrowers who applied before June 5, 2020 can keep the original 2-year period if they choose not to extend the period to 5 years.

Can I pay my loan earlier than 5 years?

Yes. There are no prepayment penalties or fees.

Can I delay payment of payroll taxes as provided under the CARES Act?

Yes (was previously no).  The CARES Act provides for a deferral of the employer’s share of payroll taxes for the period beginning on March 27, 2020 to January 1, 2021.

What Should You Do?

Let the attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Los Angeles (including Long Beach and Ontario) and elsewhere in California assist you in securing the maximum amount of financing allowed and to maximize the amount of loan forgiveness.  Also if you are involved in cannabis, check out what a cannabis tax attorney can do for you.  And if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

U.S. Attorney’s Office Files Charges In Rhode Island Against Two Borrowers Alleging Fraud In Seeking Paycheck Protection Loans

This is the first case in the nation to be charged with fraudulently seeking CARES Act SBA Paycheck Protection Loans.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District Of Rhode Island announced on May 5, 2020 in a press release that two businessmen have been charged with allegedly filing bank loan applications fraudulently seeking more than a half-million dollars in forgivable loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Charges Filed By The U.S. Attorney’s Office

David A. Staveley, aka Kurt D. Sanborn, 52, of Andover, Massachusetts, and David Butziger, 51, of Warwick, Rhode Island, are charged with conspiring to seek forgivable loans guaranteed by the SBA, claiming to have dozens of employees earning wages at four different business entities when, as alleged by prosecutors, there were no employees working for any of the businesses.

Staveley and Butziger are charged by way of a federal criminal complaint with conspiracy to make false statement to influence the SBA and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Additionally, Staveley is charged with aggravated identity theft. Butziger is charged with bank fraud.

According to court documents unsealed in U.S. District Court in Providence, Rhode Island, the fraudulent loan requests were to pay employees of businesses that were not operating prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and had no salaried employees, or, as in one instance, to pay employees at a business the loan applicant did not own.

Allegedly, Staveley and Butziger discussed via email the creation of fraudulent loan applications and supporting documentations to seek loans guaranteed by the SBA for COVID-19 relief through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). It is alleged that Staveley posed as his brother in real estate transactions.

It is alleged that Staveley claimed in loan applications requesting more than $438,500 that he had dozens of employees at three restaurants he owned, two in Warwick, Rhode Island, and one in Berlin, Massachusetts. An investigation determined that one of the Rhode Island restaurants, the former Remington House, and the Massachusetts restaurant, On The Trax, were not open for business prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, at the time the loan applications were submitted, or at any time thereafter. Moreover, Staveley did not own or have any role in the second Rhode Island restaurant, Top of the Bay, for which he was seeking financial relief.

According to court documents, Staveley’s Massachusetts restaurant was closed by March 10, 2020, when the town of Berlin revoked the business’ liquor license for numerous reasons, including that “Sanborn” allegedly misrepresented that his brother owned the restaurant. Investigators obtained information that Staveley/Sanborn allegedly used his brother’s personal identifying information in other real estate transactions as well.

According to court documents, it is alleged that on April 6, 2020, Butziger filed an application seeking a $105,381 SBA loan under the PPP as owner of an unincorporated entity named Dock Wireless.  Butziger claimed in documentation filed with the bank and in a telephone call with an FBI undercover agent posing as a bank compliance officer that he had seven full-time employees on Dock Wireless’ payroll, including himself. Butziger falsely represented to the agent that he brought the employees on full-time on January 1, 2020, and laid them off at the end of March. Butziger claimed the employees continued to work without being paid through April 2020, and that he would use SBA PPP funds to pay them.

The Rhode Island State Department of Revenue provided information to the IRS of having no records of employee wages having been paid in 2020 by Butziger or Dock Wireless. Agents interviewed several of the supposed Dock Wireless employees who reported that they never worked for Butziger or Dock Wireless.

Keep in mind that the filing of charges in a federal criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The CARES Act

The CARES Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  One source of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses, through the PPP.  In April 2020, Congress authorized over $300 billion in additional PPP funding.

The PPP allows qualifying small-businesses and other organizations to receive loans with a maturity of two years and an interest rate of 1%.  PPP loan proceeds must be used by businesses on payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.  The PPP allows the interest and principal to be forgiven if businesses spend the proceeds on these expenses within eight weeks of receipt and use at least 75% of the forgiven amount for payroll.

On April 23, 2020, the SBA issued guidance in the form of an additional FAQ. The guidance, outlined in FAQ 31, reminds borrowers that they “should review carefully the required certification that “[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.”

More specifically, FAQ 31 provides:

Question: Do businesses owned by large companies with adequate sources of liquidity to support the business’s ongoing operations qualify for a PPP loan?

Answer: In addition to reviewing applicable affiliation rules to determine eligibility, all borrowers must assess their economic need for a PPP loan under the standard established by the CARES Act and the PPP regulations at the time of the loan application. Although the CARES Act suspends the ordinary requirement that borrowers must be unable to obtain credit elsewhere (as defined in section 3(h) of the Small Business Act), borrowers still must certify in good faith that their PPP loan request is necessary. Specifically, before submitting a PPP application, all borrowers should review carefully the required certification that “[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.” Borrowers must make this certification in good faith, taking into account their current business activity and their ability to access other sources of liquidity sufficient to support their ongoing operations in a manner that is not significantly detrimental to the business.

Ramifications for Certifications Not Made in Good Faith

Borrowers that fail to make their certifications in good faith may be subject to civil and criminal penalties. Any borrower who knowingly makes a false statement to obtain forgiveness of an SBA-guaranteed loan is punishable under the law, including 18 USC §§1001 and 3571 by imprisonment of not more than five years and/or a fine of up to $250,000; under 15 USC §645 by imprisonment of not more than two years and/or a fine of not more than $5,000; and, if submitted to a Federally insured institution, under 18 USC §1014 by imprisonment of not more than thirty years and/or a fine of not more than $1,000,000.  The Federal District Courts could expect to see more of these cases as the SBA and U.S. Treasury audits any borrower that has received over $2 million in PPP loan proceeds and conducts spot checks for smaller loans.

What Should You Do?

Whether you are looking to legally optimize the disbursement of your PPP Loan proceeds to assure loan forgiveness or defending charges of certification not made in good faith, it is important that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible to preserve your rights and/or mitigate your losses.  The tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), San Francisco Bay Area (including San Jose and Walnut Creek) and elsewhere in California know exactly what to say and how to handle issues with Federal agencies including the SBA, U.S. Treasury and the IRS.  Our experience and expertise not only level the playing field but also puts you in the driver’s seat as we take full control of resolving your tax problems. Also, if you are involved in cannabis, check out what our cannabis tax attorney can do for you.  Additionally, if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.