More Guidance From IRS On PPP Loans: Lenders Should Not File Form 1099-C for Forgiven PPP loans

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 administered by the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), 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.

Eligible loan recipients are eligible for forgiveness of indebtedness for all or a portion of the stated principal amount of a covered PPP loan if certain conditions are satisfied, and the forgiven amount is excluded from the borrower’s gross income.

How To Report Forgiven PPP Loans?

IRC §6050P generally requires a lender that discharges at least $600 of a borrower’s indebtedness to file a Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, with the IRS and to furnish a payee statement to the borrower.  Concerned that the filing of such information returns could result in the issuance of under-reporter notices (IRS Letter CP2000) to eligible recipients, on September 22, 2020, the IRS announced that lenders in the PPP should not file cancellation-of-debt information returns or furnish payee statements under IRC §6050P to report the amount of qualifying forgiveness with respect to covered loans made under PPP.

Recent Guidance Issued By The U.S. Treasury

On April 6, 2020, the U.S. Treasury and the SBA released FAQs on the PPP. The FAQs clarify certain aspects of the program which hopefully will expediate the process of the PPP funds being released to businesses.  The FAQs cover:

  • Using the gross payroll approach for both loan application and forgiveness and that the employer’s share of Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxesshould not be included.
  • The $100,000 salarylimitation does not include health care, retirement benefits, and state and local taxes.
  • Applicants that use Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) can provide payroll reports since they cannot produce individual entity payroll tax documents.
  • The time period for calculating payroll costs for the maximum loan amount.

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% 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 basisfor each employee);
  • Employeebenefits 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 taxesassessed 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 basisfor each employee.

What counts as non-payroll costs?

  • Intereston 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% of the PPP funds for non-payroll costs specifically limited to: interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.

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 after getting the loan.

How can I request loan forgiveness?

You can submit a request to the lender that is servicing the loan by completing the SBA application. 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. The lender must make a decision on the forgiveness within 60 days.

What is my interest rate?

1% fixed rate.

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

All payments are deferred for 6 months; however, interest will continue to accrue over this period.

When is my loan due?

Loans issued prior to June 5, 2020 have a maturity of 2 years. Loans issued after June 5, 2020 have a maturity of 5 years.

Can I pay my loan earlier?

Yes. There are no prepayment penalties or fees.

What Should You Do?

Now with the 24-week certification period expiring on many PPP Loans, 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 achieve full PPP 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.

Were You Affected By Hurricane Sally? IRS Is Providing You With Tax Relief And Extending Upcoming Tax Deadlines.

The IRS announced on September 24, 2020 that victims of Hurricane Sally that began on September 14, 2020 may qualify for tax relief.  This follows the August 31, 2020 announcement by IRS granting tax relief for victims of Hurricane Laura that started August 22, 2020.  Individuals who reside or have a business in Baldwin, Escambia and Mobile counties in Alabama, have until January 15, 2021, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments.  Taxpayers in localities added later to the disaster area will automatically receive the same filing and payment relief. The current list of eligible localities is available on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.

IRS Tax Relief Details

The IRS is offering this relief to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as qualifying for individual assistance. The current list of eligible localities is always available on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.

The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after September 14, 2020, are granted additional time to file through January 15, 2021. This includes 2019 individual income tax returns that have a valid extension through October 15, 2020, and the employment and excise tax returns due on November 2, 2020.  It also includes the quarterly estimated individual income tax payment due on September 15, 2020.

In addition, penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after September 14, 2020, and before September 29, 2020, will be abated as long as the deposits were made by September 29, 2020.

Importance To Preserve Records

Keep in mind that the IRS has up to three years to select a tax return for audit. The FTB has up to four years to select a tax return for audit. In some cases this period is extended to six years. When a taxpayer is selected for audit, the taxpayer has the burden of proof to show that expenses claimed are properly deductible. Having the evidence handy and organized makes meeting this burden of proof much easier.

Essential Records to Have for a Tax Audit

If you are getting ready for a tax audit, one of the most important things to do is gather and organize your tax records and receipts. There’s a good chance that you have a large amount of documents and receipts in your possession. No matter how organized you are, it can be a daunting task to collect the right pieces and make sure that you have them organized and handy for the audit conference.

We have seen many tax audits that hinge on whether or not the taxpayer can provide proper documentation for their previous tax filings. A tax lawyer in Orange County or elsewhere can make sure that the documentation is complete and proper.  By submitting this to your tax attorney in advance of the audit, your tax attorney can review your documentation and determine if there are any gaps that need to be addressed before starting the dialogue with the IRS agent.

So what are the most essential tax records to have ahead of your audit? Here are a few must-have items:

  • Any W-2 forms from the previous year. This can include documents from full-time and part-time work, large casino and lottery winnings and more.
  • Form 1098 records from your bank or lender on mortgage interest paid from the previous year.
  • Records of any miscellaneous money you earned and reported to the IRS including work done as an independent contractor or freelancer, interest from savings accounts and stock dividends.
  • Written letters from charities confirming your monetary donations from the previous year.
  • Receipts for business expenses you claimed.
  • Mileage Logs for business use of vehicle.
  • Entertainment and Travel Logs for business

Tips On Reconstructing Records

Reconstructing records after a disaster is important for several reasons including insurance reimbursement and taxes. Most importantly, records can help people prove their disaster-related losses. More accurately estimated losses can help people get more recovery assistance like loans or grants.

Whether it’s personal or business property that has been lost or destroyed, here are some steps that can help people reconstruct important records.

Tax records

Get free tax return transcripts immediately using the Get Transcript on IRS.gov or through the IRS2Go app.  Tax return transcripts show line-by-line the entries made on your Federal income tax returns.  The most three recent tax years are available.

Financial statements

People can gather past statements from their credit card company or bank. These records may be available online. People can also contact their bank to get paper copies of these statements.

Property records

  • To get documents related to property, homeowners can contact the title company, escrow company or bank that handled the purchase of their home or other property.
  • Taxpayers who made home improvements can get in touch with the contractors who did the work and ask for statements to verify the work and cost. They can also get written descriptions from friends and relatives who saw the house before and after any improvements.
  • For inherited property, taxpayers can check court records for probate values. If a trust or estate existed, taxpayers can contact the attorney who handled the trust.
  • When no other records are available, people should check the county assessor’s office for old records that might address the value of the property.
  • Car owners can research the current fair-market value for most vehicles. Resources are available online and at most libraries. These include Kelley’s Blue Book, the National Automobile Dealers Association and Edmunds.

Develop And Implement Your Backup Plan

Do not wait for the next disaster to come for then it may be too late to retrieve your important records for a tax audit or for that matter any legal or business matter. And if you do get selected for audit and do not have all the records to support what was claimed on your tax returns, you should contact an experienced tax attorney who can argue the application of your facts and circumstances to pursue the least possible changes in an audit.

The tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Northern California (Sacramento, Walnut Creek, San Francisco and San Jose) 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.  You can also check out the KahnTaxLaw Coronavirus Resource Center.  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.

9 Million Non-filers To Receive Letter From The IRS Urging Them To Claim The Economic Impact Payment

What To Do If You Have Not Received Your Economic Impact Payment.

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 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 $1,200 for individual taxpayers or if married, $2,400 for married couples.  An additional $500 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 a person who is the dependent of another 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.

By accessing taxpayers’ 2018 and 2019 tax returns along with information received from taxpayer’s using the IRS Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Tool, more than 160 million Americans have already received their Economic Impact Payments.

Non-Filers Can Still Get A Payment But Must Act By October 15th.

The IRS will start mailing letters to roughly 9 million Americans who typically don’t file federal income tax returns who may be eligible for, but have not registered to claim, an Economic Impact Payment.

The letter, officially known as IRS Notice 1444-A, is written in English and Spanish and includes information on eligibility criteria and how eligible recipients can claim an Economic Impact Payment on IRS.gov. The mailing, which will begin around September 24th, will be delivered from an IRS address.

This letter urges eligible individuals to register by October 15th for a payment by using the IRS Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Tool, available on IRS.gov. More than 7 million people have used the Non-Filers tool so far to register for a payment.

People can also wait until next year and claim it as a credit on their 2020 federal income tax return by filing in 2021; but for anyone that is required to file either a 2018 or 2019 tax return, they should file the outstanding tax return(s) instead of using the Non-Filers tool.

Affected taxpayers can check the status of their economic impact payment by using the Get My Payment Tool, available on IRS.gov.

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 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.

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

Click here for COVID-19 Tax Relief measures instituted by the IRS in “The IRS People First Initiative” that can benefit you. 

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. You can also check out the KahnTaxLaw Coronavirus Resource Center.  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.

Were You Affected By Hurricane Laura? IRS Is Providing You With Tax Relief And Extending Upcoming Tax Deadlines.

The IRS announced on August 31, 2020 that victims of Hurricane Laura starting August 22, 2020 may qualify for tax relief.  Individuals who reside or have a business in Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis and Vernon parishes in Louisiana, have until December 31, 2020, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments.  Taxpayers in localities added later to the disaster area will automatically receive the same filing and payment relief. The current list of eligible localities is available on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.

IRS Tax Relief Details

The IRS is offering this relief to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as qualifying for individual assistance. The current list of eligible localities is always available on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.

The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after August 22, 2020, are granted additional time to file through December 31, 2020. This includes 2019 individual income tax returns that have a valid extension through October 15, 2020, and the employment and excise tax returns due on November 2, 2020.  It also includes the quarterly estimated individual income tax payment due on September 15, 2020.

In addition, penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after August 22, 2020, and before September 8, 2020, will be abated as long as the deposits were made by September 8, 2020.

Importance To Preserve Records

Keep in mind that the IRS has up to three years to select a tax return for audit. The FTB has up to four years to select a tax return for audit. In some cases this period is extended to six years. When a taxpayer is selected for audit, the taxpayer has the burden of proof to show that expenses claimed are properly deductible. Having the evidence handy and organized makes meeting this burden of proof much easier.

Essential Records to Have for a Tax Audit

If you are getting ready for a tax audit, one of the most important things to do is gather and organize your tax records and receipts. There’s a good chance that you have a large amount of documents and receipts in your possession. No matter how organized you are, it can be a daunting task to collect the right pieces and make sure that you have them organized and handy for the audit conference.

We have seen many tax audits that hinge on whether or not the taxpayer can provide proper documentation for their previous tax filings. A tax lawyer in Orange County or elsewhere can make sure that the documentation is complete and proper.  By submitting this to your tax attorney in advance of the audit, your tax attorney can review your documentation and determine if there are any gaps that need to be addressed before starting the dialogue with the IRS agent.

So what are the most essential tax records to have ahead of your audit? Here are a few must-have items:

  • Any W-2 forms from the previous year. This can include documents from full-time and part-time work, large casino and lottery winnings and more.
  • Form 1098 records from your bank or lender on mortgage interest paid from the previous year.
  • Records of any miscellaneous money you earned and reported to the IRS including work done as an independent contractor or freelancer, interest from savings accounts and stock dividends.
  • Written letters from charities confirming your monetary donations from the previous year.
  • Receipts for business expenses you claimed.
  • Mileage Logs for business use of vehicle.
  • Entertainment and Travel Logs for business

Develop And Implement Your Backup Plan

Do not wait for the next disaster to come for then it may be too late to retrieve your important records for a tax audit or for that matter any legal or business matter. And if you do get selected for audit and do not have all the records to support what was claimed on your tax returns, you should contact an experienced tax attorney who can argue the application of your facts and circumstances to pursue the least possible changes in an audit.

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.  You can also check out the KahnTaxLaw Coronavirus Resource Center.  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.

“J5” Global Tax Chiefs Mark Two Years Of Cooperation To Tackle International Tax Evasion

“J5” Global Tax Chiefs Mark Two Years Of Cooperation To Tackle International Tax Evasion

Leaders from five international tax organizations are marking the two-year anniversary of the formation of the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5). The J5 was formed in 2018 after a call to arms from the OECD Taskforce on Tax Crime and has been working together to gather information, share intelligence and conduct coordinated operations, making significant progress in each country’s fight against transnational tax crime.

The J5 includes the Australian Taxation Office (ATO, the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD), Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) from the UK and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) from the US.

Taking advantage of each country’s strengths, the J5’s initial focus was on enablers of tax crime, virtual currency and platforms that enable each country to share information in a more efficient manner.  Within the framework of each country’s laws, J5 countries shared information and were able to open new cases, more completely develop existing cases, and find efficiencies to reduce the time it takes to work cases. Operational results have always been the goal of the organization and the J5 states that these results have started to materialize.

“While operational results matter, I’ve been most excited at the other benefits that this group’s existence has provided,” said Don Fort, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. “In speaking with law enforcement partners domestically and abroad as well as stakeholders in various public and private tax organizations, there is real support for this organization and tangible results we have all seen due to the cooperation and global leadership of the J5.”

“Big Data” Goes Global With The J5

It is reported that during the two years since the J5’s inception, hundreds of data exchanges between J5 partner agencies have occurred with more data being exchanged in the past year than the previous 10 years combined. The concept is that each J5 country brings different strengths and skillsets to the J5 and leveraging those skills and capabilities enhance the effectiveness and success of the J5.

Since the inception of the organization, two J5 countries have hosted events known as “Challenges” aimed at developing operational collaboration. FIOD hosted the first J5 “Challenge” in Utrecht in 2018 and brought together leading data scientists, technology experts and investigators from all J5 countries in a coordinated push to track down those who make a living out of facilitating and enabling international tax crime.  The event identified, developed, and tested tools, platforms, techniques, and methods that contribute to the mission of the J5 focusing on identifying professional enablers facilitating offshore tax fraud. The following year, the U.S. hosted a second “Challenge” in Los Angeles and brought together investigators, cryptocurrency experts and data scientists in a coordinated push to track down individuals perpetrating tax crimes around the world.  With the rise in crypto currency, the J5 has created a platform called “FCInet” which is a decentralized virtual computer network that enables tax agencies to compare, analyze and exchange data anonymously. It helps tax agencies to obtain the right information in real-time and enables agencies from different jurisdictions to work together while respecting each other’s local autonomy.  Organizations can jointly connect information, without needing to surrender data or control to a central database. FCInet doesn’t collect data, rather it connects data.

The U.S Justice Department announced that in early July 2020, a Romanian man was arrested in Germany and admitted to conspiring to engage in wire fraud and offering and selling unregistered securities in connection with his role in the BitClub Network, a cryptocurrency mining scheme worth at least $722 million. This plea was the first for a case under the J5 umbrella and stemmed from collaboration with the Netherlands during the “Challenge” in Los Angeles in 2019.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Federal tax law requires U.S. taxpayers to pay taxes on all income earned worldwide. U.S. taxpayers must also report foreign financial accounts if the total value of the accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year. Willful failure to report a foreign account can result in a fine of up to 50% of the amount in the account at the time of the violation and may even result in the IRS filing criminal charges.

Civil Fraud – If your failure to file is due to fraud, the penalty is 15% for each month or part of a month that your return is late, up to a maximum of 75%.

Criminal Fraud – 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)).

Additionally, the penalties for FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) noncompliance are stiffer than the civil tax penalties ordinarily imposed for delinquent taxes. For non-willful violations, it is $10,000 per account per year going back as far as six years. For willful violations, the penalties for noncompliance which the government may impose include a fine of not more than $500,000 and imprisonment of not more than five years, for failure to file a report, supply information, and for filing a false or fraudulent report.

Lastly, failing to file Form 8938 when required could result in a $10,000 penalty, with an additional penalty up to $50,000 for continued failure to file after IRS notification. A 40% penalty on any understatement of tax attributable to non-disclosed assets can also be imposed.

Voluntary Disclosure

Since September 28, 2018, the IRS discontinued the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP); however, on November 20, 2018 the IRS issued guidelines by which taxpayers with undisclosed foreign bank account and unreported foreign income can still come forward with a voluntary disclosure.   The voluntary disclosure program is specifically designed for taxpayers with exposure to potential criminal liability and/or substantial civil penalties due to a willful failure to report foreign financial assets or foreign in income or any unreported income whether it be domestic or foreign. In general, voluntary disclosures will include a six-year disclosure period. The disclosure period will require examinations of the most recent six tax years so taxpayers must submit all required returns and reports for the disclosure period. Click here for more information on available Voluntary Disclosure Programs.

What Should You Do?

Recent closure and liquidation of foreign accounts will not remove your exposure for non-disclosure as the IRS will be securing bank information for the last eight years. Additionally, as a result of the account closure and distribution of funds being reported in normal banking channels, this will elevate your chances of being selected for investigation by the IRS. For those taxpayers who have submitted delinquent FBAR’s and amended tax returns without applying for amnesty (referred to as a “quiet disclosure”), the IRS has blocked the processing of these returns and flagged these taxpayers for further investigation. You should also expect that the IRS will use such conduct to show willfulness by the taxpayer to justify the maximum punishment.

We encourage taxpayers who are concerned about their undisclosed offshore accounts or who have unreported crypto currency transactions to come in voluntarily before learning that the U.S. is investigating the bank or banks where they hold accounts. By then, it will be too late to avoid criminal prosecution or programs with reduced civil penalties. Protect yourself from excessive fines and possible jail time. Let 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 help ensure that you are in compliance with federal tax laws. Additionally, 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.

 

After July 15, 2020, Taxpayers Must Resume Making Payments To IRS Or Face Renewed Collection Action

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 temporarily modified its activities from April 1, 2020 through July 15, 2020. During this period, to the maximum extent possible, the IRS avoided in-person contacts.

Taxpayers who took advantage of The IRS People First Initiative tax relief and did not make previously owed tax payments between March 25, 2020 to July 15, 2020 need to restart their payments or face renew collection action by the IRS.

As the IRS continues to reopen its operations across the country, taxpayers who were in payment agreements and skipped any payments from March 25, 2020 to July 15, 2020 should start paying again to avoid penalties and possible default on their agreements.

Here’s what taxpayers should do to resume their payment agreements to the IRS, including Installment Agreements, Offers in Compromise, and Private Debt Collection program payments:

Installment Agreements

Taxpayers who suspended their installment agreement payments between April 1, 2020 and July 15, 2020, will need to resume their payments by their first monthly payment due date after July 15, 2020. Taxpayers should be aware that the IRS didn’t default their agreement, but interest did accrue, and the balance remained.

Taxpayers who had their bank suspend direct debit payments should contact the bank immediately to ensure their first monthly payment due date occurring on or after July 15, 2020 is sent to avoid penalties.

If a taxpayer can’t meet their current installment agreement terms due to a COVID related hardship, it is possible to have your agreement modified.  An experienced tax professional can see if relief is available for you.

Offer in Compromise

Pending Offers: If the IRS is currently reviewing a taxpayer’s submitted offer but hasn’t accepted it yet, the taxpayer should resume their required payments starting July 15, 2020. The IRS will amend the taxpayer’s offer to allow them to pay any skipped payments at the end of the offer period, if the offer is accepted.

Already Accepted Offers: If a taxpayer has an Offer in Compromise agreement, and the taxpayer was unable to make the payments on their accepted offer because of a COVID-19 hardship, the taxpayer should resume payments and make up the missed payments by July 15, 2020. If the taxpayer is unable to make up the missed payments, an experienced tax professional can see if relief is available for you.

Private Debt Collection

The IRS did not forward new delinquent accounts to Private Collection Agencies (PCAs) from April 1, 2020 through July 15, 2020, and PCA interaction with taxpayers was limited to inbound telephone calls unless requested by a taxpayer in a voicemail or correspondence.

Taxpayers who had their PCA payments on hold should resume payments by July 15, 2020. If a taxpayer can’t meet their current payment agreement terms due to a COVID related hardship, it is possible to have your agreement modified.  An experienced tax professional can see if relief is available for you.

Taxpayers Who Owe But Can’t Pay

Taxpayers who are experiencing a hardship or who have questions about their payments may still be able to get additional relief.  An experienced tax professional can see if relief is available for you.

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 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.

The take away from this – use the Federal government’s downtime and continued uncertainty with COVID-19 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 crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

Why Taxpayers Involved In Offshore Accounts, Crypto Currency Or Cannabis Should Be Filing An Extension For Their 2019 Income Tax Returns

If you did not report your offshore accounts, crypto currency income or cannabis income earned before 2019, you should hold off on filing your 2019 taxes and instead file an extension.

An extension is your way of asking the IRS for additional time to file your tax return. The IRS will automatically grant you an additional time to file your return. While State Tax Agencies will also provide the same extension period, you need to check with your State to see if an extension must be filed with the State as well.  For example, California does not require that a State extension be filed as long as you timely file the Federal extension AND you will not owe any money to the State.

The deadline to file your 2019 individual income tax returns or request an extension of time to file the tax return is Wednesday, July 15, 2020 (normally would have been April 15th but extended due to COVID-19).  A timely filed extension will extend the filing deadline to Thursday, October 15, 2020 thus giving you an extra three months to meet with tax counsel and determine how to address your pre-2019 tax reporting delinquencies and/or exposure and how to present your situation on your 2019 tax return.

While an extension gives you extra time to file your return, an extension does not give you extra time to pay your tax and if you do not pay what you owe with the extension, you will still be ultimately charged with late payment penalties when you file your tax return.

Offshore Accounts

Where a taxpayer does not come forward voluntarily though a Voluntary Disclosure Program and has now been targeted by IRS for failing to file the Foreign Bank Account Reports (FBAR), the IRS may now assert FBAR penalties that could be either non-willful or willful.  Both types have varying upper limits, but no floor.  The first type is the non-willful FBAR penalty.  The maximum non-willful FBAR penalty is $10,000.  The second type is the willful FBAR penalty.  The maximum willful FBAR penalty is the greater of (a) $100,000 or (b) 50% of the total balance of the foreign account.  In addition, the IRS can pursue criminal charges with the willful FBAR penalty.  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).

For the non-willful penalty, all the IRS has to show is that an FBAR was not filed.  Whether the taxpayer knew or did not know about the filing of this form is irrelevant.  The non-willful FBAR penalty is $10,000 per account, per year and so a taxpayer with multiple accounts over multiple years can end up with a huge penalty.

Since 2009, the IRS Criminal Investigation has indicted 1,545 taxpayers on criminal violations related to international activities, of which 671 taxpayers were indicted on international criminal tax violations.

Crypto Currency

Many taxpayers think that their crypto transactions would remain a secret forever.  Digital exchanges are not broker-regulated by the IRS. Digital exchanges are not obligated to issue a 1099 form, nor are they obligated to report to the IRS calculate gains or cost basis for the trader. But that is now all changing sooner than you think!

As of March 16, 2018, the IRS has received information from Coinbase located in San Francisco which is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States disclosing the names, addresses and tax identification numbers on 14,355 account holders. Coinbase pursuant to a Court Order issued by a Federal Magistrate Judge (United States v. Coinbase, Inc., United States District Court, Northern District Of California, Case No.17-cv-01431) had to produce the following customer information over the period of 2013 to 2015: (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).

Furthermore, Coinbase starting with the 2017 tax years will be issuing 1099-K tax forms for some of its U.S. clients.  The IRS will receive copies of these forms.

With only several hundred people reporting their crypto gains each year, the IRS suspects that many crypto users have been evading taxes by not reporting crypto transactions on their tax returns.

Cannabis

With the proliferation of licensed cannabis businesses sprouting in the State Of California since 2018, a continued stream of cannabis business will be filing tax returns with the IRS.  But beware, the IRS is well aware that successful cannabis businesses don’t just sprout overnight and now that your business is on the radar screen you can bet that the IRS will be inquiring how you accumulated all that cash before 2019.

Cannabis is categorized as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. While more than half of the states in the U.S. have legalized some form of medicinal marijuana, and several others have passed laws permitting recreational cannabis use, under federal drug laws the sale of cannabis remains illegal.

Despite the disparity and Federal and State law, marijuana businesses still have to pay taxes.

Generally, businesses can deduct ordinary and necessary business expenses under I.R.C. §162. This includes wages, rent, supplies, etc. However, in 1982 Congress added I.R.C. §280E. Under §280E, taxpayers cannot deduct any amount for a trade or business where the trade or business consists of trafficking in controlled substances…which is prohibited by Federal law. Marijuana, including medical marijuana, is a controlled substance. What this means is that dispensaries and other businesses trafficking in marijuana have to report all of their income and cannot deduct rent, wages, and other expenses, making their marginal tax rate substantially higher than most other businesses.

A cannabis business that has not properly reported its income and expenses and not engaged in the planning to minimize income taxes can face a large liability proposed by IRS reflected on a Notice Of Deficiency or tax bill.  Likewise, where a taxpayer over the years has accumulated cash from cannabis sales and never reported any income to the IRS, you are looking at a serious problem.

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!

What Should You Do?

Individual taxpayers can file an extension using Form 4868. Extensions can also be filed online, which has the benefit that you’ll receive a confirmation code from the IRS notifying you that your extension was received.  Then you should promptly contact tax counsel.  Don’t delay because once the IRS has targeted you for investigation – even if it is a routine random audit – it will be too late voluntarily come forward. Let 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 offices elsewhere in California get you set up with a plan that may include being qualified into a voluntary disclosure program to avoid criminal prosecution, seek abatement of penalties, and minimize your tax liability. If you are involved in cannabis, check out what else a cannabis tax attorney can do for you. Also, if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a Bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

IRS Stepping Up Investigations Of Taxpayers Involved In 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.

To keep track of this, 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 crypto-currencies, 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. But the IRS is not stopping here…

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.

IRS-CI Deputy Chief Jim Lee has signaled that his agents’ crypto-tracing resources and expertise are “in demand” even outside of the IRS and that “U.S. Attorneys want IRS-CI agents in all of their financial crime cases. The fact of the matter is, if a case involves money and it’s a crime that rises to the federal level, IRS-CI almost always has jurisdiction. There is no better example to this than in tracing cryptocurrency transactions.”

IRS-CI Chief Don Fort has been even more explicit of CI agents’ assistance to other federal agencies stating that by utilizing Chainalysis the IRS and the Department of Justice dismantled a sprawling child pornography ring in South Korea.

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.

2019 Form 1040 Makes It Harder For U.S. Taxpayers To Avoid Non-compliance Or Claim Ignorance.

The 2019 Form 1040, Schedule1, Additional Income and Adjustments to Income, now includes the following checkbox question:

At any time during 2019, did you receive, sell, send, exchange or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency?   ◊ Yes            ◊ No

Taxpayers who file Schedule 1 to report income or adjustments to income that can’t be entered directly on Form 1040 will now be required to check the appropriate box to answer the virtual currency question. Taxpayers do not need to file Schedule 1 if their answer to this question is NO and they do not have to file Schedule 1 for any other purpose. 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), Inland Empire (Ontario and Palm Springs) 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 To Make Sure You Don’t Pay More Than What You Owe To The IRS

I have not yet anyone who does not mind paying more to the IRS than they are legally obligated to.  In fact it is a basic right known enumerated in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights that taxpayers pay no more than the correct amount of tax owed. But if a taxpayer fails to file an income tax return and thus leaves it up to the IRS to determine the amount of tax owed, the IRS will almost always come up with a higher amount with a “substitute return” it created.

Why You Should File Your Past Due Return Now

Avoid IRS Creating A “Substitute Return”

If you fail to file a Federal individual income tax return, the IRS may file a substitute return for you. This return usually will not give you credit for basis in assets sold, deductions and exemptions you may be entitled to receive. Thus the tax bill you will receive will be much higher than if you had filed an income tax return you had prepared. If the IRS files a substitute return, it is still in your best interest to file your own tax return to take advantage of any exemptions, credits and deductions you are entitled to receive. The IRS will generally adjust your account to reflect the correct figures.

Whether you file a tax return or a substitute return is created, the IRS will eventually generate a tax bill, which, if unpaid, will trigger the collection process. This can include such actions as a levy on your wages or bank account or the filing of a notice of federal tax lien.

If you repeatedly do not file, you could be subject to additional enforcement measures, such as additional penalties and/or criminal prosecution.

Claim A Refund

You risk losing your refund if you don’t file your return. If you are due a refund for withholding or estimated taxes, you must file your return to claim it within two years of the return due date. The same rule applies to a right to claim tax credits such as the Earned Income Credit. The IRS will hold income tax refunds in cases where the IRS shows that one or more income tax returns are past due. The IRS will hold them until the IRS gets the past due return(s) or receives an acceptable reason for not filing a past due return.

Protect Social Security Benefits

If you are self-employed and do not file your federal income tax return, any self-employment income you earned will not be reported to the Social Security Administration and you will not receive credits toward Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

Avoid Issues Obtaining Loans

Loan approvals may be delayed if you don’t file your return. Copies of filed tax returns must be submitted to financial institutions, mortgage lenders/brokers, etc., whenever you want to buy or refinance a home, get a loan for a business, or apply for federal aid for higher education.

Avoid Loss Of Passport Renewal Or Eligibility Privileges

Under section 32101 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (“FAST Act”), signed into law in December 2015, the IRS is required to notify the State Department of taxpayers the IRS has certified as owing a seriously delinquent tax debt (currently more than $52,000 and meeting certain other requirements under Internal Revenue Code § 7345(b)). Also see Notice 2018-1. The FAST Act also requires the State Department to deny their passport application or deny renewal of their passport. In some cases, the State Department may revoke their passport.

Already Filed Your Past Due Return?

It takes approximately six weeks for IRS to process an accurately completed past due tax return so if in the interim you receive a notice from IRS inquiring on a late-filed tax return it has yet to receive, you should send to IRS a copy of the past due return to the indicated address on that notice.

Tips In Dealing With A Tax Bill Received From IRS

Make sure you really owe the money

If you owe a lot more tax than you expected, find out why. Read your completed return carefully and look for errors. It’s easy to add the same income twice, or to forget an important deduction. Maybe the IRS does not apply all your prior payments. If you expected to qualify for a deduction or credit, and your tax return doesn’t show it, make sure you answered all the questions correctly. One missed question or checkbox can cause you to miss out on tax benefits you may be entitled to.

Another way to determine if something is amiss is to compare this year’s return to your tax return from last year. If your tax situation has not changed drastically, but your tax bill has, find out why.

Just because you received a letter from the IRS that you owe money, don’t automatically assume the IRS is correct. They make mistakes, too.

Minimize penalties and interest

Large tax bills are worse when you pay penalties and interest on top of the original amount owed. You can minimize penalties and interest in three ways:

Exceptions to underpayment of tax penalties – If you underpaid your taxes this year, but you owed considerably less last year, you generally don’t pay a penalty for underpayment of tax if you paid or had withheld at least as much as you owed last year, and you pay by the due date this year. By looking at last year’s tax liability and other tax information, it can be determined if the safe harbor rule reduces your penalties and interest. You may also be able to reduce your penalties and interest using the annualized income method if you received more of your income in the latter part of the year.

Ask for an abatement of penalties – The IRS may reduce or remove penalties and interest on the penalties if a taxpayer writes a letter explaining the situation. But notice that the interest on the tax cannot be abated. In order to succeed, you must show “reasonable cause” which may be met where you had an unusual tax event, you made an honest mistake, or you or your spouse had a serious illness.

Pay as quickly as possible – If you owe tax that may be subject to penalties and interest, don’t wait until April 15th or if on extension October 15th to file your return. Send an estimated tax payment or file early and pay as much tax as you can.

See if you qualify for an Offer In Compromise or alternatively ask for an installment plan

If you can’t pay the tax by the time it is due, don’t avoid the bill. It will only get worse. The IRS must allow you to make payments on your overdue taxes if you owe $50,000 or less and you can show that you cannot pay the amount you owe now. In that situation you may qualify to pay off the tax in as long as six years. Of course, you must also agree to comply with the tax laws, and you or your spouse must not have had an installment agreement with the IRS in the past five years.

Because an installment plan does not allow for any discount of the amount owed and the balance will continue to accrue penalties and interest, serious consideration should be given to an Offer In Compromise (OIC).

What Should You Do?

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), the 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. If you are involved in cannabis, check out what our cannabis tax attorney can do for you. Also, if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

The Five Ways That IRS Selects Tax Returns For Examination

I have yet to meet anyone who looks forward to having their tax return be selected for an audit by IRS so you should know the five main ways that the IRS selects returns for examination.

  1. Potential participants in abusive tax avoidance transactions — Some returns are selected based on information obtained by the IRS through efforts to identify promoters and participants of abusive tax avoidance  Examples include information received from “John Doe” summonses issued to foreign and domestic banks, credit card companies, businesses and participant lists from promoters ordered by the courts to be turned over to the IRS.
  2. Computer Scoring— Some returns are selected for examination on the basis of computer scoring.  Computer programs give each return numeric “scores”. The Discriminant Function System (“DIF”) score rates the potential for change, based on past IRS experience with similar returns. The Unreported Income DIF (“UIDIF”) score rates the return for the potential of unreported income. IRS personnel screen the highest-scoring returns, selecting some for audit and identifying the items on these returns that are most likely to need review.
  3. Related Examinations— Returns may be selected for audit when they involve issues or transactions with other taxpayers, such as business partners or investors, whose returns were selected for examination. In examinations that include undisclosed foreign bank accounts, the IRS will look for family relatives who may have the same involvement in foreign accounts and also failed to make the proper disclosures.
  4. Information Matching— Some returns are examined because payer reports, such as Forms W-2 from employers or Form 1099 interest statements from banks or Form 1099-K statements from credit card companies, do not match the income reported on the tax return. Even foreign banks who have U.S. account holders are reporting information to the IRS which the IRS is matching to tax returns.
  5. Targeted Industries – When the IRS believes that a specific industry has a high expectation of non-compliance with the tax laws, returns for businesses in that industry may be selected for audit. The cannabis industry seems to be in the center of this as this industry is subject to very unfavorable tax law that denies the deduction of many expenses and is widely known to deal in cash which could lead to unreported income.

Information Matching Most Common Reason Why A Return Is Selected For Audit

When a tax return’s information does not match data reported to the Internal Revenue Service by employers, banks and other third parties, the IRS will send a letter to the taxpayer. The letter is called an IRS Notice CP2000, and it gives detailed information about issues the IRS identified and provides steps taxpayers should take to resolve those issues.

This is not a formal audit notification, but a notice to see if the taxpayer agrees or disagrees with the proposed tax changes. Because this verification process and notice generation is done by IRS computers without the need for an agent to actually work the case, these IRS notices are quite common.

Taxpayers should respond to the CP2000, usually within 30 days from the date printed on the notice.

Consequences Of Failing To Respond To IRS Or If Your Response Is Inadequate

If a timely response to the CP2000 is not made or if the IRS cannot accept the additional information provided, a second IRS notice is generated. That follow-up notice is called an IRS Notice CP3219A or “Statutory Notice of Deficiency”. This notice gives detailed information about why the IRS proposes a tax change and how the agency determined the change. The notice tells taxpayers about their right to challenge the decision in Tax Court by filing a Petition with the Tax Court no later than 90 days from the date of the Statutory Notice of Deficiency.

If a taxpayer timely files a Petition, the additional liability remains “proposed” and cannot be sent to collection enforcement by IRS. Instead the taxpayer will have the opportunity to show that the proposed changes are wrong and if agreement is not reached, it will be the Tax Court judge that will have the ultimate say in this matter.

If a taxpayer does not file a Petition, then the proposed changes become final, a tax bill will be generated by the IRS and the IRS can proceed with collection enforcement.

How Does One Find Out If The IRS Does Select Your Tax Return For Examination?

This is where one must be careful because there are scammers out there who are calling people saying they are the IRS and threatening them with arrest and deportation unless they pay right away. If you are selected for an audit by the IRS, the initial contact will always be in the form of a letter sent by the assigned agent under official IRS letterhead.

An official letter from the IRS will give you the contact information of the agent and what IRS office the agent reports to. The letter will also tell you how the examination is to be conducted – this can be by mail, or through an in-person interview and review of the taxpayer’s records at the agent’s office or outside the agent’s office such as the taxpayer’s business. Finally, the letter will tell you which years are being audited and what records will be needed. Taxpayers may act on their own behalf or have a tax professional represent or accompany them.

What Should You Do?

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), the Los Angeles Area (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. If you are involved in cannabis, check out what a cannabis tax attorney can do for you.  Also, if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.