Maryland Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty To Conspiring To Defraud the IRS

The U.S. Department Of Justice announced on March 5, 2021 in a press release that Anita Fortune, age 56, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, who provided return preparation services under multiple business names, including Tax Terminatorz Inc., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and aiding in the preparation of a false tax return.

Guilty Plea.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Ms. Fortune prepared and filed returns using co-conspirators’ electronic filing identification numbers and identifiers, which they provided in exchange for fees and office space.  For the tax years 2011 to 2018, Ms. Fortune and her associates fraudulently reduced their clients’ tax liabilities and increased their refunds by adding fictitious or inflated itemized deductions and business losses to the clients’ returns.  In total, Ms. Fortune caused a tax loss to the IRS of $189,748.

Ms. Fortune is scheduled to be sentenced on June 4, 2021, and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy count and three years for the preparing a false return count.  Ms. Fortune also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.  A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

IRS announces arrests and indictments after two-week campaign to fight refund fraud and identity theft. 

The Federal District Courts should expect to see more of these cases as the IRS announced on March 20, 2019 the results of a national two-week enforcement and education campaign to combat refund crimes and identity theft that resulted in numerous legal actions against suspected criminals and businesses committing these crimes.

“Identity theft is a pervasive crime and stopping it remains a top priority of the IRS,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “The IRS, with the help of our Security Summit partners, continues to make progress in this area, but we need to continue our significant efforts to protect taxpayers and assist those who have been a victim of identity theft. We are fighting this problem with enhanced systems, smarter technology and the efforts of our dedicated workforce, including Criminal Investigation. We will retain our relentless, vigorous pursuit of those who prey upon others in this arena”.

Working with the Department of Justice Tax Division and U.S. Attorneys around the nation, IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) made 11 arrests, indicted 15 individuals and saw five other individuals or businesses sentenced who perpetrated some type of refund fraud or identity theft scheme.

What Should You Do?

Whether you are a victim of identity theft or the perpetrator of identity theft, 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), Los Angeles and elsewhere in California know exactly what to say and how to handle issues with the IRS as well as State Tax Agencies.  Our experience and expertise not only levels 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 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.

 

First It Was Coinbase, Now It Is Poloniex – Court Authorizes Service of John Doe Summons Seeking Identities of U.S. Taxpayers Who Have Used 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 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.

Following the success of the results of a John Doe Summons issued to Coinbase, Inc. as I previously reported, on April 1, 2021 the U.S. Department Of Justice announced that a federal court in the District of Massachusetts entered an order today authorizing the IRS to serve a John Doe summons on Circle Internet Financial Inc., or its predecessors, subsidiaries, divisions, and affiliates, including Poloniex LLC (collectively “Circle”), seeking information about U.S. taxpayers who conducted at least the equivalent of $20,000 in transactions in cryptocurrency during the years 2016 to 2020. The IRS is seeking the records of Americans who engaged in business with or through Circle, a digital currency exchanger headquartered in Boston.

Under the order, Circle will be required to turn over the names, addresses and tax identification numbers on its account holders. The Court has ordered Circle 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).

“Those who transact with cryptocurrency must meet their tax obligations like any other taxpayer,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. Hubbert of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with the IRS to ensure that cryptocurrency owners are paying their fair share of taxes.”

“Tools like the John Doe summons authorized today send the clear message to U.S. taxpayers that the IRS is working to ensure that they are fully compliant in their use of virtual currency,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “The John Doe summons is a step to enable the IRS to uncover those who are failing to properly report their virtual currency transactions. We will enforce the law where we find systemic noncompliance or fraud.”

Cryptocurrency, as generally defined, is a digital representation of value. Because transactions in cryptocurrencies can be difficult to trace and have an inherently pseudo-anonymous aspect, taxpayers may be using them to hide taxable income from the IRS. In the court’s order, U.S. Judge Richard G. Stearns found that there is a reasonable basis for believing that cryptocurrency users may have failed to comply with federal tax laws.

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

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

At any time during [the calendar year], 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!

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), San Francisco Bay Area (including Walnut Creek and San Jose) 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.

IRS Provides Tax Relief For Victims Of Texas Winter Storms

The IRS announced on February 22, 2021 that victims of this month’s winter storms in Texas will have until June 15, 2021, to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments.

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.

The tax relief for Texas taxpayers postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on February 11, 2021. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until June 15, 2021, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. This includes 2020 individual and business returns normally due on April 15, 2021, as well as various 2020 business returns due on March 15, 2021. Among other things, this also means that affected taxpayers will have until June 15, 2021 to make 2020 IRA contributions.

The June 15, 2021 deadline also applies to quarterly estimated income tax payments due on April 15, 2021 and the quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on April 30, 2021. It also applies to tax-exempt organizations, operating on a calendar-year basis, that have a 2020 return due on May 17, 2021.

In addition, penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after February 11, 2021 and before February 26, 2021 will be abated as long as the deposits are made by February 26, 2021.

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), 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.

How Is The IRS Jumping On Board The Age Of Improving Customer Experience?

Earlier in January 2021, the IRS delivered to Congress the Taxpayer First Act Report as a response to legislation passed in July 2019.  The report includes recommendations to improve IRS operations.

As part of a larger effort related to the Taxpayer First Act Report, the IRS announced on January 26, 2021 the creation of a new Chief Taxpayer Experience Officer position to help unify and expand efforts across the IRS to serve taxpayers. Ken Corbin, currently the IRS Wage and Investment commissioner, will take on this new role while also continuing to serve in his position overseeing the Service’s largest operating division.

The Taxpayer Experience Office, led by the Chief Taxpayer Experience Officer, reporting directly to the Commissioner, is one of the new roles envisioned in the multi-year plan.  The position will work with business units and offices across the IRS, including Chief Counsel, the Independent Office of Appeals and the National Taxpayer Advocate. The role is envisioned as working in coordination with the National Taxpayer Advocate, which is an independent organization inside the agency that helps taxpayers with issues that can’t be resolved with the IRS.

An Opportunity For Taxpayers Who Owe The IRS.

Now while this announcement may be the catalyst to promote more efficient operation of the IRS, do not think that a more efficient IRS will make your tax problem disappear.  If anything, future changes will make it easier for the IRS to enforce the tax laws using less manpower and resources.  That is why you should be utilizing this valuable time to get yourself prepared so that when IRS is ready to start or resume 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 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 the tax laws remain the same regardless of whether the IRS makes changes to its operations, 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 lag time 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.

Getting Ready For The 2021 Tax Filing Season

On January 15, 2021, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that it will process 2020 tax returns beginning February 12, 2021.

Last year the opening date was January 27, 2020; however, for the 2021 tax filing season this had to be extended to allow the IRS time to do additional programming and testing of IRS systems following the December 27, 2020 tax law changes that provided a second round of Economic Impact Payments and other benefits.

April 15th Filing Deadline.

The filing deadline to submit 2020 tax returns is Thursday, April 15, 2021.

Since the IRS will begin processing tax returns on February 12th there is no advantage to filing tax returns on paper in January instead of waiting for the IRS to begin accepting e-filed returns.  Nevertheless, it makes sense to start organizing your information early and so when the IRS filing systems open on February 12th, you are ready to submit your tax return right away.

Refunds in 2021.

Choosing e-file and direct deposit for refunds remains the fastest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund.  The IRS still anticipates issuing at least 90%of tax refunds in less than 21 days, but there are some important factors to keep in mind for taxpayers that could cause delay.  Under the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, the IRS is required to hold refunds for tax returns which include a claim of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until the first week of March 2021. Also consider that it would still take several days for these refunds to be released and processed through financial institutions, and factoring in weekends, and the President’s Day holiday, taxpayers claiming these credits may not have actual access to their refunds until the first week of March.

The status of your tax refund can be checked directly with IRS by using the Where’s My Refund? ‎on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go phone app.

Time Limits For Keeping Your Tax Records

Even though your 2020 income tax return is processed by the IRS and a refund is issued, that does not mean the IRS can later question or audit the tax return,  In fact the Statute Of Limitations allows the IRS three years to go back and audit your tax return.  That is why it’s a good idea to keep copies of your prior-year tax returns and supporting backup documentation for at least three years.

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), 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. 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.

5 Moves To Make Before Year End That Can Save You A Lot of Money on Your 2020 Taxes

On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law the 2017 Tax Cuts And Jobs Act. It’s been a good 30 years since the last time the Internal Revenue Code received such a major update.

Major Changes From The New Law Include:

Compressed And Lower Income Tax Rates For Individuals.

Increased Standard Deduction For Individuals

Elimination Of Personal Exemptions

Limitations of Deductibility Of Itemized Deductions including Mortgage Interest and State & Local Taxes.

Lower Corporation Tax Rates.

The Big Picture:

With many itemized deductions having disappeared by the 2017 Tax Cuts And Jobs Act and the higher standard deduction, less taxpayers will be itemizing deductions in 2020 but there is still significant tax planning you can do.  Under these circumstances the key here is to accelerate deductions in 2020 and defer income into 2021.

Following are five year-end tax moves to make before this New Year’s Day:

  1. Give more to charity in 2020.

In addition to the usual dollar donations to charities, religious institutions and educational institutions, consider clearing your home of those unwanted household goods and clothing to give to charities. Many groups will accept these items even vehicles, with some even making arrangements to pick up them up from your home. You may also consider to donate stock or mutual funds that you’ve held for more than a year but that no longer fit your investment goals. The charity gets the asset to hold or sell, and your portfolio re-balancing nets you a deduction for the asset’s value at the time of gifting. Even better, you do not have to worry about capital gains taxes on the appreciation of your gift. Remember that if you take the standard deduction in 2020, you won’t get any tax savings from your charitable contributions made in 2020.

  1. Make the most of your home – mortgage interest.

Home-ownership provides a variety of tax breaks, some of which you can use by year-end to reduce your current year’s tax bill. Make your January mortgage payment by December 31st and deduct the mortgage interest on your 2020 tax return.

  1. Make the most of your home – property taxes.

Like prepaying mortgage interest, the same tactic will apply for property taxes; however, keep in mind that property taxes along with other state and local taxes will be deductible only up to $10,000.

  1. Pay your self-employed business expenses

If you are self-employed, you should accelerate payment of your business expenses in 2020. Recognizing these expenses in 2020 will provide you with a tax savings for 2020.

  1. Defer your income into 2021.

If you are a small business owner, consider delaying income until January 2021. So if you are chasing up some customers or clients to pay the bill you sent them a while ago, you might want to wait until January to get aggressive on collecting. Consider delaying the delivery of invoices for year-end jobs until January 2021.  Small business owners should make sure they are benefiting from the deduction of 20% of their business income. If you are an employee, ask your boss to hold your bonus until January. Individuals should also consider putting more money into a tax-deferred workplace retirement plan in 2020 and hold off on selling assets that will produce a capital gain until 2021.

What Should You Do?

With not much time left in 2020 you will need to act quickly on those tax moves that are easy to accomplish to reduce your tax bill.

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 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 attorney can do for you. Additionally, if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

IRS Criminal Investigation Division Releases Its 2020 Annual Report

On November 16, 2020 the IRS released the Criminal Investigation Division’s (CI) annual report, highlighting significant successes and criminal enforcement actions taken in fiscal year ending September 30, 2020.  The IRS noted that a key achievement was the identification of over $10 billion in tax fraud and other financial crimes.

In issuing this report IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig stated: “The special agents and professional staff who make up Criminal Investigation continue to perform at an incredibly high-level year after year.  Even in the face of a global pandemic, the CI workforce initiated nearly 1,600 investigations and identified $2.3 billion in tax fraud schemes. This is no small feat during a challenging year, and their work is critical to protecting taxpayers and the integrity of our tax system.”

According to the report, CI initiated 1,598 cases in fiscal year 2020, applying approximately 73% of its time to tax related investigations. CI is the only federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over federal tax crimes achieving a conviction rate of 90.4% in fiscal year 2020.

The Special Agent’s Role In The IRS Criminal Investigation Division

An IRS Special Agent works for the CI. Special Agents are duly sworn law enforcement officers who are trained to “follow the money”. They investigate potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code, and related financial crimes. Unless they are working undercover they will identify themselves with credentials which include a gold badge. The same gold badge appears on their business cards. Generally, IRS Special Agents travel in pairs if they are going to interview someone. One to conduct the interview, and the other to take notes, and act as a witness if necessary.

If you are contacted by an IRS Special Agent it is because he or she is conducting a CRIMINAL investigation. It is possible that the Special Agent is only interested in you as a witness against the target of the IRS investigation. However, it is a bad idea to speak to Special Agent without a criminal tax attorney present. IRS Special Agents are highly trained financial investigators. If you are the target or subject of an IRS criminal investigation you are not going to talk your way out of it, by “cooperating”; instead you may be giving the IRS more evidence to use against you.

Even if the IRS Special Agent tells you that you are only a witness you should still consult with an experienced criminal tax attorney BEFORE speaking with an IRS agent. If you make misstatements that you think put you in a better light you could change your role from a witness into a target. The best tactic is to simply tell the Special Agent that you are uncomfortable talking to him until you have had a chance to speak with your attorney. Then ask him for his business card. In this way your tax attorney can contact the Special Agent directly, and determine the best course of action.

There are a number of statutes in the Internal Revenue Code that authorize the federal government to prosecute individuals, including those dealing with tax evasion, fraud and false statements, failure to file returns, failure to pay tax, etc. Some, like the tax evasion statute, are worded in particularly broad terms and may ensnare the unwary or careless taxpayers.

If CI recommends prosecution, it will give its evidence to the Justice Department to decide the special charges. Individuals are typically charged with one or more of three crimes: tax evasion, filing a false return, or not filing a tax return. All of which are tax fraud.

Two Special Programs Run By CI

With the avalanche of billions of data flowing to IRS, CI has been running two special programs: the International Tax Enforcement Group (ITEG), and the Nationally Coordinated Investigations Unit (NCIU). Both focus on increasing the rate of taxpayer compliance with income reporting requirements contained in the Internal Revenue Code – particularly those pertaining to the disclosure of foreign financial accounts, reporting of virtual currency transactions, and reporting transactions involving cannabis.

What Should You Do?

Very quickly a criminal investigation can turn to the worst for a targeted taxpayer so you should promptly seek tax counsel who can act proactively before the IRS does. 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) protect you from excessive fines and possible jail time. Also, if you are involved in cannabis, check out how a cannabis tax attorney can help you. And if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

 

IRS Gearing Up To Resume Home Visits – What High Income Taxpayers Should Know About Filing Late Tax Returns

Every year, about 9 million taxpayers miss tax deadline or fail to file their tax returns according to data from the Internal Revenue Service.

How To Handle Late Tax Returns?

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration on May 29, 2020 issued a report finding that about 880,000 high-income nonfilers in tax years 2014 through 2016 had an estimated $45.7 billion in unpaid taxes.

The IRS has since announced that as part of a larger effort to ensure compliance and fairness, the IRS will step up efforts to visit high-income taxpayers making at least $100,000 who in prior years have failed to timely file one or more of their tax returns.

Following the recent and ongoing hiring of additional enforcement personnel and in anticipation of a COVID-19 pandemic being more manageable due to mitigation efforts and vaccinations, IRS Revenue Officers across the country will increase face-to-face visits with high-income taxpayers who haven’t filed tax returns in 2019 or previous years.

Failure to File vs. Failure to Pay

The IRS red flags taxpayers as “tax cheats” whether they are stop-filers, non-filers and under-filers.

“Stop Filer” is a term applied to taxpayers that consistently comply with tax filing requirements and then suddenly stop filing their returns. If your employer or client reports your income to the IRS on a 1099 or a W-2, the IRS will flag your information as a non-filer because they have access to tax forms that cannot be matched to tax returns. Understating your income, consciously or unintentionally, could result in a lower tax liability but make you liable for IRS penalties.

Failure to file means not filing the returns within the given time frame while failure to pay means filing the required paperwork but not turning in the full amount of tax obligation by the tax filing deadline. To force compliance with tax laws, the IRS is allowed to prepare a “substitute return” on behalf of those who failed to file, using data that was submitted by employers and applying customary exemptions and deductions. Substitute returns will always show a much higher liability than actual returns you have prepared and filed because substitute returns which are prepared by the IRS will not take into account your business expensesbasis in assets sold, itemized deductions, proper marital status, dependents and many tax credits.

Essentially, filing federal taxes late is better than not filing even if you cannot pay the tax dues at the time of submission. Penalties will still accrue for all unpaid tax obligations effective on the day after it is due until fully paid but by filing your tax return timely you avoid a late-filing penalty.

Why Taxpayers Should File Late Returns Now

There are important reasons why you should file your returns even if it is long past due. For one, penalties will continue to add up on any payments due. Also, if you are owed a refund due to exemptionsdeductions and tax withheld, you only have three years from the original due date to claim the refund (and in certain cases this limitation is two years). When this period expires, you forfeit your refund to the IRS. Additionally, you would not be able to claim tax refunds for later years unless returns for the missing years are filed.

Loan applications, lease qualifications, scholarship applications and similar events require submission of tax returns from the previous years. Failure to present these documents that are used as proof of income may disqualify your application from moving forward. For self-employed taxpayers, filing a tax return is the only way that your credits for Social Security benefits can be reported and tracked. If you don’t comply with tax filing requirements, you would not build up enough retirement or disability credits.

Failure to respond and comply with an IRS tax bill will trigger the collection process, which may include tactics such as wage garnishment, an asset freeze or a federal tax lien.

IRS Penalties for Late Filing

The IRS assesses two different penalties for filing federal taxes late. The failure to file penalty is assessed at 5% for each month that the returns are late and is capped at 25%.

Assessments for failure to pay are 0.5% monthly for a maximum of 25%. If both penalties apply, the total amount is capped at 5% per month for a late tax return. If you qualify for a refund during the tax year in question, and you have not forfeited the refund, you may not be charged with penalties for taxes owed on a delinquent tax return.

Extending The Deadline To File

Starting with your 2020 tax return, if you will be unable to prepare your tax returns within the original deadline, file for an extension using the Form 4868, application for automatic extension of time to file U.S. individual income tax return on or before the deadline to file your Form 1040. Where an extension is timely filed, penalties for failure to file will not apply, but penalties will still be assessed on the balance due. With Form 4868, the revised deadline will be extended by six months for taxpayers in the U.S.

Additional IRS Civil Penalties For Non-compliance With Tax Laws

Criminal fraud refers to outright tax evasion. Penalties for tax evaders include hefty fines, imprisonment or both. Civil fraud charges applies to underpayment without intent to completely evade making tax payments. The penalty imposed may be as much as 75% of the portion of the underpayment. Negligence refers to inadvertent underpayment, and the penalty is 20% of the underpayment that is due to negligence. A frivolous return is one that intentionally excludes information that is crucial to processing the returns, and the penalty is $500 for each frivolous return.

What Should You Do?

Filing federal taxes late is a complicated matter. 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) protect you from excessive fines and possible jail time. Also, if you are involved in cannabis, check out how a cannabis tax attorney can help you. And if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

Mississippi Tax Preparer Sentenced to Prison for False IRS Returns

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi announced on November 5, 2020 in a press release that Talvesha Glaude who owned and operated a tax return preparation business was sentenced to 22 months in prison for preparing false income tax returns and ordered to serve one year of supervised release and to pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $183,360.

The Details

Talvesha Glaude of Moss Point, Mississippi owned and operated a tax return preparation business under multiple names, including TMG Tax Service and Regional Tax Service. From 2013 through 2019, Ms. Glaude prepared tax returns for clients seeking from the IRS inflated refunds based on fraudulent dependents, federal income tax withholdings, and education credits. In addition to preparing false returns for her clients, Ms. Glaude also filed false returns for herself for the tax years 2014 through 2018.

The conviction culminated what started from a comprehensive investigation conducted by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division which was then referred to the Tax Division of the U.S. Department Of Justice for prosecution.

Tax Preparer Penalties

Even with the possibility that a tax preparer can be subject to criminal prosecution, tax preparers face substantial civil penalties for failing to meet standards to their clients and what is imposed under the Internal Revenue Code.  Internal Revenue Code § 6694(a) imposes the standards that tax preparers must follow. Prior to the 2007 amendment to this Section, tax return preparer penalties applied to a person who prepared for compensation, a federal income tax return or claim for refund. The penalties did not apply to any other types of returns such as employment or estate tax returns. The former Section also included a $250 penalty for an income tax return preparer who knew or reasonably should have known, of the position that caused the understatement due to a frivolous position or an undisclosed position for which there was not at least a realistic possibility of being sustained on the merits. An income tax preparer engaging in willful or reckless conduct with respect to preparing an income tax return under the former Section was subject to a penalty of $1,000.

New Code §6694(a) as amended by the Small Business And Work Opportunity Tax Act of 2007 (the “Act”) extends to all types of federal tax returns, including estate and gift tax returns, employment tax returns, excise tax returns and returns of exempt organizations.

The Act now requires that the preparer have a reasonable belief that the tax treatment of the position is “more likely than not” the proper treatment. The penalty which can be imposed on the preparer is the greater of $1,000.00 or 50% of the income derived (or to be derived) by the preparer. For willful or reckless conduct, the penalty which can be imposed on the preparer is the greater of $5,000.00 or 50% of the income derived (or to be derived) by the preparer.

Other civil penalties that can be imposed against income tax returns preparers include:

  • Failure by an income tax preparer to sign a required return. IRC § 6695(b).
  • Failure by an income tax return preparer to furnish a required taxpayer identification number. IRC § 6695(c).
  • Failure by an income tax return preparer to furnish a copy of the tax return to the taxpayer. IRC § 6695(a).
  • Failure by an income tax return preparer to retain a completed copy of the return or a record of the taxpayer’s name, identification number, taxable year, and type of return prepared. IRC § 6695(d).
  • Failure by an income tax return preparer to comply with the due diligence requirements with respect to determining a taxpayer’s eligibility for, or amount of, the earned income credit. IRC § 6695(g).
  • Aiding and aiding and abetting the understatement of a tax liability. IRC § 6701.
  • Disclosing or using any tax return information other than to prepare or assist in preparing the taxpayer’s return. IRC § 6713(a).

Even without bringing a criminal prosecution the IRS may seek to enjoin an income tax return preparer engaging in specific abusive practices or from acting as an income tax return preparer. IRC § 7407(a). An injunction may be issued if a court determines that the preparer has (1) engaged in conduct subject to a preparer penalty under §6694 or §6695, (2) engaged in conduct subject to a criminal penalty under the Internal Revenue Code, (3) misrepresented his eligibility to practice before the IRS, (4) misrepresented his experience or education as a preparer, (5) guaranteed the payment of any tax refund or the allowance of any tax credit, or (6) engaged in any other fraudulent or deceptive conduct that substantially interferes with the proper administration of the tax law; and that injunctive relief is appropriate to prevent the recurrence of such conduct.

What Should You Do?

If the IRS is considering a penalty against you as a professional you should seek immediate assistance from a qualified tax attorney at this earliest possible time.  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 the IRS as well as State Tax Agencies.  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.  And if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.