IRS Looking For Taxpayers To Report Gig Economy Income, Virtual Currency Transactions, And Foreign Source Income And Assets

Chances are you are involved in one of these areas –

  1. Income from the Gig Economy,
  2. Dealing with Virtual Currency, or
  3. Having Foreign Source Income And Assets.

If so, pay particular attention to what the IRS will be looking for on your 2021 income tax return.

Gig economy earnings are taxable

Generally, income earned from the gig economy is taxable and must be reported to the IRS. The gig economy is activity where people earn income providing on-demand work, services or goods. Often, it’s through a digital platform like an app or website. Taxpayers must report income earned from the gig economy on a tax return, even if the income is:

  • From part-time, temporary or side work,
  • Not reported on an information return form – like a Form 1099-K, 1099-MISC, W-2 or other income statement or
  • Paid in any form, including cash, property, goods or virtual currency.

TAX TIP – If you incurred expenses to produce this income, those expenses should be reported on your tax return so you do not pay more in tax than what the law requires.

Virtual currency reporting and tax requirements

Again for 2021, there is a question at the top of Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR asking about virtual currency transactions. All taxpayers filing these forms must check the box indicating either “yes” or “no.” A transaction involving virtual currency includes, but is not limited to:

  • The receipt of virtual currency as payment for goods or services provided;
  • The receipt or transfer of virtual currency for free (without providing any consideration) that does not qualify as a bona fide gift;
  • The receipt of new virtual currency as a result of mining and staking activities;
  • The receipt of virtual currency as a result of a hard fork;
  • An exchange of virtual currency for property, goods or services;
  • An exchange/trade of virtual currency for another virtual currency;
  • A sale of virtual currency; and
  • Any other disposition of a financial interest in virtual currency.

If an individual disposed of any virtual currency that was held as a capital asset through a sale, exchange or transfer, they should check “Yes” and use Form 8949 to figure their capital gain or loss and report it on Schedule D (Form 1040).

If they received any virtual currency as compensation for services or disposed of any virtual currency they held for sale to customers in a trade or business, they must report the income as they would report other income of the same type (for example, W-2 wages on Form 1040 or 1040-SR, line 1, or inventory or services from Schedule C on Schedule 1).

TAX TIP – Make sure to report the basis of any virtual currency disposed of which will reduce your gain so you do not pay more in tax than what the law requires.

Reporting Foreign Source Income

A U.S. citizen or resident alien’s worldwide income is generally subject to U.S. income tax, regardless of where they live. They’re also subject to the same income tax filing requirements that apply to U.S. citizens or resident aliens living in the United States.

U.S. citizens and resident aliens must report unearned income, such as interest, dividends, and pensions, from sources outside the United States unless exempt by law or a tax treaty. They must also report earned income, such as wages and tips, from sources outside the United States. An income tax filing requirement generally applies even if a taxpayer qualifies for tax benefits, such as the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion or the Foreign Tax Credit, which substantially reduce or eliminate U.S. tax liability. These tax benefits are only available if an eligible taxpayer files a U.S. income tax return.

TAX TIP – Make sure you file a tax return on a timely basis to claim these benefits. If both your tax home and abode are outside the United States and Puerto Rico, you have until June 15, 2022 to file your tax return or file an extension (to October 15, 2022).  Those serving in the military outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico on the regular due date of their tax return also have until June 15, 2022 to file your tax return or file an extension (to October 15, 2022).

Reporting required for foreign accounts and assets

Federal law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report their worldwide income, including income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and other financial accounts. In most cases, affected taxpayers need to complete and attach Schedule B to their tax return. Part III of Schedule B asks about the existence of foreign accounts, such as bank and securities accounts, and usually requires U.S. citizens to report the country in which each account is located.

In addition, certain taxpayers may also have to complete and attach to their return Form 8938, Statement of Foreign Financial Assets. Generally, U.S. citizens, resident aliens and certain nonresident aliens must report specified foreign financial assets on this form if the aggregate value of those assets exceeds certain thresholds. See the instructions for this form for details.

Further, separate from reporting specified foreign financial assets on their tax return, taxpayers with an interest in, or signature or other authority over foreign financial accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during 2020, must file electronically with the Treasury Department a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). Because of this threshold, the IRS encourages taxpayers with foreign assets, even relatively small ones, to check if this filing requirement applies to them. The form is only available through the BSA E-filing System website.

TAX TIP – The deadline for filing the annual Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) is the same as that of Form 1040. FinCEN grants filers who missed the original deadline an automatic extension until October 15, 2022, to file the FBAR. There is no need to request this extension.

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?

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.

Tips On Holding Cryptocurrency In An IRA To Defer Taxation

Cryptocurrency was not well known and confusing for the general public to get comfortable with but with innovations in the industry starting in 2017, cryptocurrency is becoming more widely known and accepted as a means to do business. One of those innovations increasing the popularity of cryptocurrency is the introduction of a multi-currency wallet that holds Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Core in a non-custodial fashion. The wallet known as the “Bitcoin.com Wallet” allows users to store their private keys themselves which avoids the funds to be held by any third party. Since this wallet which became available in August 2017, it is believed that there are now over 81 million wallet users in 2022.

Taxation Of Cryptocurrency

Although both the general public and the crypto community refer to bitcoin, altcoin, etc. as “virtual currencies”, the IRS in 2014 issued Notice 2014-21 stating that it treats them as property for tax purposes. Therefore, selling, spending and even exchanging crypto for other tokens all likely have capital gain implications. Likewise, receiving it as compensation or by other means will be ordinary income.

Some would think that if bitcoin is property, trades should be tax deferred under the like-kind changes rues of IRC section 1031. Under that theory someone who owned Bitcoin could diversify their holdings into Ethereum or Litecoin, and plausibly tell the IRS it created no tax obligations. Unfortunately, the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 does away with that loophole making it clear that “like kind exchanges” which lets people swap an asset for a similar one without triggering a tax obligation are not available for non-real estate assets.

While bitcoin receives most of the attention these days, it is only one of hundreds of cryptocurrencies. Everything discussed with regard to bitcoin taxation applies to all cryptocurrencies.

Here are the basic tax rules on specific cryptocurrency transactions:

  • Trading cryptocurrencies produces capital gains or losses, with the latter being able to offset gains and reduce tax.
  • Exchanging one token for another — for example, using Ethereum to purchase an altcoin — creates a taxable event. The token is treated as being sold, thus generating capital gains or losses.
  • Receiving payments in cryptocurrency in exchange for products or services or as salary is treated as ordinary income at the fair market value of the coin at the time of receipt.
  • Spending cryptocurrency is a tax event and may generate capital gains or losses, which can be short-term or long-term. For example, say you bought one coin for $500. If that coin was then worth $700 and you bought a $700 gift card, there is a $200 taxable gain. Depending on the holding period, it could be a short- or long-term capital gain subject to different rates.
  • Converting a cryptocurrency to U.S. dollars or another currency at a gain is a taxable event, as it is treated as being sold, thus generating capital gains.
  • Air drops are considered ordinary income on the day of the air drop. That value will become the basis of the coin. When it’s sold, exchanged, etc., there will be a capital gain.
  • Mining coins is considered ordinary income equal to the fair market value of the coin the day it was successfully mined.
  • Initial coin offerings do not fall under the IRS’s tax-free treatment for raising capital. Thus, they produce ordinary income to individuals and businesses alike.

So How Do The Rules Apply When Holding Cryptocurrency In An IRA?

IRC section 408(m) generally prohibits the investment of assets of an IRA (and any self-directed qualified plan account) in certain “collectibles” including precious metals; however, there are exceptions for certain coins and bullion.

The U.S. Tax Court reaffirmed the physical possession rule in, McNulty v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, No. 1377-19 (U.S.T.C. Nov. 18, 2021), and this ruling could have a big impact on some cryptocurrency account holders.

In McNulty, the taxpayers (husband and wife) established a self-directed individual retirement account (IRA) under IRC section 408 and directed assets held in the IRA to invest in a single-member limited liability company (LLC). Mr. McNulty was the manager of the LLC that her IRA invested in. She directed the LLC to purchase American Eagle (AE) coins and took physical possession of the coins. IRS contended that the year she received physical custody of the AE coins resulted in a taxable distribution equal to the cost of the AE coins. The Tax Court agreed with IRS.

The Tax Court stated:

“Independent oversight by a third-party fiduciary to track and monitor investment activities is one of the key aspects of the statutory scheme. When coins or bullion are in the physical possession of the IRA owner (in whatever capacity the owner may be acting), there is no independent oversight that could prevent the owner from invading her retirement funds. This lack of oversight is clearly inconsistent with the statutory scheme. Personal control over the IRA assets by the IRA owner is against the very nature of an IRA.”

The Tax Court’s focus on the “taxpayer’s control” of an IRA asset can have far reaching implications for self-directed IRA’s beyond bullion coins.  In the case of cryptocurrency, holding cryptocurrency in a cold wallet that is controlled by the IRA owner would provide the IRA owner with “unfettered control”.  A cold wallet can be detached from the internet. Hardware wallets and paper wallets are both cold wallet options. Hardware wallets use a physical medium — typically in the shape of a USB stick — to store the wallet’s private keys, making them de facto unreachable to hackers or other malicious parties.

So if you are looking to invest in cryptocurrency through a self-directed IRA, it is best to hold your cryptocurrency on a licensed and insured crypto exchange in the name of the IRA to avoid the impact of the physical possession rule of IRC section 408(m).

IRS Suspicion Of Noncompliant Taxpayers In Cryptocurrency

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.

The IRS suspects that many cryptocurrency users have been evading taxes by not reporting crypto transactions on their tax returns given the millions of wallets already issued.

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?

Especially now that like-exchange treatment is prohibited on non-real estate 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. Let a bitcoin tax attorney at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), San Francisco Bay Area (including San Jose and Walnut Creek) and elsewhere in California get you qualified into a voluntary disclosure program to avoid criminal prosecution, seek abatement of penalties, and minimize your tax liability.  Also, if you are involved in cannabis, check out what a cannabis tax attorney can do for you.

IRS Making It Easier For Taxpayers To Come Into The Voluntary Disclosure Program

A tax crime is complete on the day the false return was filed.

It is a federal crime for anyone to knowingly and willfully file an income tax return that he or she knows to be false in some material way. 26 U.S.C. § 7207 provides:

Any person who willfully delivers or discloses to the Secretary any list, return, account, statement, or other document, known by him to be fraudulent or to be false as to any material matter, shall be fined not more than $10,000 ($50,000 in the case of a corporation), or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both. Any person required pursuant to section 6047 (b), section 6104(d), or subsection (i) or (j) of section 527 to furnish any information to the Secretary or any other person who willfully furnishes to the Secretary or such other person any information known by him to be fraudulent or to be false as to any material matter shall be fined not more than $10,000 ($50,000 in the case of a corporation), or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.

In filing false tax return cases, the Government does not need to prove that it has been deprived of any tax by reason of such filing of the false return; even if it is shown that additional taxes may be due, the person can still be held accountable because they willfully filed a false tax return.

Avoiding Criminal Prosecution By Submitting To Voluntary Disclosure

The Voluntary Disclosure Practice is a longstanding practice of IRS Criminal Investigation of taking timely, accurate, and complete voluntary disclosures into account in deciding whether to recommend to the Department of Justice that a taxpayer be criminally prosecuted.  It enables noncompliant taxpayers to resolve their tax liabilities and minimize their chances of criminal prosecution.  When a taxpayer truthfully, timely, and completely complies with all provisions of the voluntary disclosure practice, the IRS will not recommend criminal prosecution to the Department of Justice.  However, if the IRS has initiated a civil examination, regardless of whether it relates to undisclosed foreign accounts or undisclosed foreign entities, the taxpayer will not be eligible to come in under the IRS’s Voluntary Disclosure Practice.

Required Elements Of A Qualified Disclosure

IRS administrative practice recognizes that a taxpayer may still avoid prosecution by voluntarily disclosing a tax violation, provided that there is a qualifying disclosure that is (1) timely and (2) voluntary. A disclosure within the meaning of the practice means a communication that is truthful and complete, and the taxpayer cooperates with IRS personnel in determining the correct tax liability. Cooperation also includes making good faith arrangements to pay the unpaid tax and penalties “to the extent of the taxpayer’s actual ability to pay”.

Timely.

A disclosure is timely if it is received before the IRS has begun an inquiry that is (1) “likely to lead to the taxpayer” and (2) the taxpayer is reasonably thought to be aware” of that inquiry; or the disclosure is received before some triggering or prompting event has occurred (1) that is known by the taxpayer and (2) that triggering event is likely to cause an audit into the taxpayer’s liabilities.

Voluntary.

Voluntari­ness is tested by the following factors: (1) how far the IRS has gone in determin­ing the tax investigation potential of the taxpayer; (2) the extent of the taxpayer’s knowledge or awareness of the Service’s interest; and (3) what part the triggering event played in prompting the disclosure (where the disclosure is prompted by fear of a triggering event, it is not truly a voluntary disclosure).

No voluntary disclosure can be made by a taxpayer if an investigation by the Service has already begun. Therefore, once a taxpayer has been contacted by any Service function (whether it be the Service center, office examiner, revenue agent, or a special agent), the taxpayer cannot make a qualifying voluntary dis­closure under IRS practice.

A voluntary disclosure can be made even if the taxpayer does not know that the Service has selected the return for examination or investigation may be too restrictive. Consequently, if there is no indi­cation that the Service has started an examination or investigation, Tax Counsel may send a letter to the Service stating that tax returns of the taxpayer have been found to be incorrect and that amended returns will be filed as soon as they can be accurately and correctly prepared. This approach has the advantage of putting the taxpayer on record as making a voluntary dis­closure at a time when no known investigation is pending. However, neither the taxpayer nor the lawyer can be completely certain that the volun­tary disclosure will prevent the recommendation of criminal prosecution.

Form 14457, Voluntary Disclosure Practice Preclearance Request and Application

Form 14457 has been revised by IRS permitting taxpayers who may face criminal prosecution for willful violation of tax law to voluntarily disclose information to the IRS that they failed to previously disclose.

Updates and additions to this form include:

  • IRS Criminal Investigation now accepts photocopies, facsimiles and scans of taxpayer signatures. Previously, Part II of Form 14457 had to be mailed.
  • An expanded section for reporting virtual currency.
  • A penalty structure for employment tax and estate and gift issues.
  • A check-box for inability to pay in full.

Doug O’Donnell, Deputy Commissioner Services and Enforcement stated “This is an important form and process for people who recognize it’s better to step forward and address their tax situations head-on, before facing IRS enforcement action.  The revised form includes a number of updates, and we encourage people to review the guidelines and consult a trusted tax professional.”

“Quiet Disclosure”

Where no IRS examination or investigation is pending a taxpayer’s alternative is the preparation and filing of delinquent or amended returns. Such action is called a “Quiet Disclosure”.  The advantage of filing delinquent or amended returns without a communication drawing attention to them is that the returns may not even be examined after being received at the Service Center. In such an event, the taxpayer not only will have made a voluntary disclosure but will have avoided an examination as well. The disadvantage is that during the time the returns are being prepared, the taxpayer may be contacted by the Service and a voluntary disclosure prevented.  Another disadvantage is that the IRS could use the filed amended income tax returns to constitute an admission that the correct income and tax were willfully not reported and institute criminal prosecution.

What Should You Do?

There is no set formula as to whether a taxpayer should pursue a Voluntary Disclosure or Quiet Disclosure.  It really depends on a case by case basis which is why you are best served by consulting with a criminal tax attorney expert in evaluating these matters.  Your financial well being, as well as your personal freedom may depend on the right answers. If you or your accountant even suspects that you might be subject to a criminal or civil tax fraud penalty, 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 can determine how to respond to these inquiries and formulate an effective strategy.  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.Top of Form

 

IRS To Consolidate Processing Centers Despite Huge Backlog Of Unanswered Taxpayer Inquiries

On February 7, 2022 the Treasury Inspector General For Tax Administration (“TIGTA”) issued a report evaluating the IRS’s efforts to close the Fresno California Tax Processing Center and its continued planned closure of the Austin Texas Tax Processing Center.

The IRS entered this filing season with several million original and amended returns filed by individuals and businesses that have not been processed due to challenges of the COVID pandemic.  Yet despite the IRS facing a huge backlog, it continues with its September 2016 plan to consolidate Tax Processing Centers to two end-state sites (Kansas City, Missouri, and Ogden, Utah).

The IRS says that this consolidation is warranted because tax return projections show that electronic filing will continue to increase, resulting in decreased paper processing operations at the Tax Processing Centers. As a result, the IRS continues its Tax Processing Center consolidations and will end its Submission Processing operations in Fresno, California, by September 2021 and Austin, Texas, by September 2024. At the end of this consolidation process, two Tax Processing Center locations, Kansas City and Ogden, will remain.

What TIGTA Found –

As of August 2021, TIGTA estimates that the IRS is facing a total staffing deficiency in its Submission Processing function of around 2,598 employees. Although the IRS has several initiatives underway to help address its hiring shortages, to date these approaches have not been successful. Further, the hiring shortfalls have been exacerbated since the COVID pandemic and are resulting in millions of tax returns not being timely processed, refunds not being timely issued, and taxpayers not timely receiving assistance with their tax account issues.

In addition, the transfer of work not directly related to the processing of tax returns further hampers the Submission Processing function’s ability to deliver its core mission of processing tax returns and addressing tax accounts. For example, the Fresno Tax Processing Center transferred work related to three specialty programs to the Kansas City and Ogden Tax Processing Centers, each of which had and continue to have millions of returns not processed and other account work remaining unworked. This specialty program work requires resources which could otherwise be directed to process the backlogged work.

Finally, outdated mail processing equipment is contributing to the loss of millions of dollars in revenue and the inefficient use of limited resources. This places its operations at risk for inefficient and untimely execution of tax return processing. For example, this outdated equipment cannot properly detect remittances. In Calendar Year 2021 alone, the IRS reports $56 million in lost opportunity costs due to untimely check deposits. Yet the cost to replace or rebuild the current equipment is only a fraction of those lost costs, ranging from $360,000 to $650,000.

TIGTA’s Recommendations to IRS

TIGTA made six recommendations for improvements, including that the IRS postpone the closure of the Austin Tax Processing Center until hiring and backlog shortages are addressed.

Here are the recommendations and IRS’ responses …

# TIGTA Recommendation IRS Response
1 Allocate adequate funding to support Submission Processing function transition of its clerical staff to the new, higher graded position descriptions.

 

The IRS agreed with this recommendation and has submitted a request for approximately $39 million under the Fiscal Year 2024 budget formulation process to provide a permanent increase in annual funding levels that will support the cost of upgrading the positions and maintaining them at the higher level. IRS management is also evaluating options and the associated trade-offs involved to upgrade the position descriptions from existing appropriations. Additionally, management stated that the recent 2.2% increase to the General Schedule Base Pay Scale, plus the adjustment for locality pay, raised a portion of the affected employees above the $15 per hour rate, which should alleviate some of the pressure of competing with outside employers for workers.

 

2 Postpone any further steps for closing the Austin Tax Processing Center until hiring shortages and backlogs of work at end-state sites are adequately addressed.

 

The IRS disagreed with this recommendation. IRS management stated that the Submission Processing Center Consolidation revalidation is ongoing and a decision on the Austin consolidation will be made once the revalidation is completed. This decision will then be communicated to all Submission Processing employees.

 

3 Identify and implement interim solutions that will address the resource constraints currently being placed on the Submission Processing function due its backlog.

 

The IRS agreed with this recommendation and plans to continue meeting with stakeholders on a regular basis to identify interim solutions that accommodate resource needs. IRS management also plans to continue pursuing potential opportunities for automation of data entry into the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network web portal throughout Fiscal Year 2022.

 

4 Ensure that timely advancements are made to the digital platform of Forms 3949-A, Information Referral To Report Suspected Tax Law Violations By A Person Or A Business, to develop automatic routing of the forms directly to the business units to alleviate the Submission Processing workload.

 

The IRS agreed with this recommendation and plans to identify those capabilities required to support the implementation of automatic routing of Forms 3949-A directly to business units.

 

5 Evaluate the placement of USDA transcript work if the IRS does not meet its automation targets or the inventories do not continue to decline as anticipated.

 

The IRS agreed with this recommendation. IRS management shares weekly updates with executive leadership to inform them of the program’s status and confirm proper placement of the USDA transcript program. As of September 20, 2021, automation for the USDA program is shown to be fully paperless, and 3,078 counties have suspended mailing Form CCC-941, Commodity Credit Corporation Average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) Certification and Consent to Disclosure of Tax Information, requests to the IRS. IRS management has also suspended mailing reject notices to the USDA in lieu of electronic delivery. As anticipated, the inventories declined to the point that all electronic USDA inventory is current and timely.

 

6 Ensure that efforts to evaluate and purchase updated or new mail opening/sorting technology are timely executed.

 

The IRS agreed with this recommendation and plans to take the actions necessary for the evaluation and purchase of a replacement for the equipment used for opening and sorting mail and ensure that those necessary actions are carried out timely. Because this procurement action is dependent on funding and is subject to competing priorities, IRS management will reevaluate continuing actions if implementation is not successful within three years.

 

An Opportunity For Taxpayers Who Owe The IRS

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Should You Do?

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

IRS Continues To Expand Tax Relief From COVID

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

IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief

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

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

Suspended IRS Notices

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

The suspended notices include:

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

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

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

An Opportunity For Taxpayers Who Owe The IRS

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Should You Do?

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

 

Justice Department Shuts Down Three Tax Return Preparation Businesses

Recently in three separate cases, the U.S. Justice Department (“DOJ”) successfully secured injunctions from U.S Federal District Courts barring certain tax return preparation businesses from preparing tax returns and in some cases ordering the tax return preparers to disgorge the fees they obtained by preparing false and fraudulent tax returns.

Terance Price – Mississippi

On January 28, 2022, DOJ announced that a federal court in the Southern District of Mississippi has permanently barred Terance Price, a Mississippi tax return preparer, from owning or operating a tax return preparation business and preparing tax returns for others.

The permanent injunction is against Terance Price, both individually and doing business as Superior Taxes. The court entered the injunction after Price failed to respond to the complaint the government served on him.

The complaint alleged that Price, who began operating his tax preparation business in 2015, knowingly took unreasonable positions on returns he prepared that understated the tax his customers owed, overstated the refunds owed to his clients, or both. In particular, the complaint alleged that Price prepared returns that falsely claimed residential energy credits, fuel tax credits and unreimbursed employee business expenses.

The government further alleged in the complaint that Price has filed hundreds of tax returns since 2015, and that he has filed tax returns using other tax preparers’ personal identifying information. According to the complaint, the IRS assessed penalties against Price for failing to make reasonable inquiries to ensure that his customers were legitimately entitled to various tax credits, and Price has not paid those penalties.

Karla Welch – Florida

On February 2, 2022, DOJ announced that it filed a civil injunction suit to bar Karla Welch and her businesses from owning or operating a tax preparation business and preparing tax returns. The complaint also requests that the court require the defendants to disgorge the fees they obtained by preparing false and fraudulent tax returns.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, alleges that Welch, through Karla R. Welch LLC and Kwik Services LLC, owns and operates a tax preparation business with as many as 12 stores in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. According to the complaint, Welch and her businesses prepare and file tax returns to falsely increase their customers’ refunds, and profit through high and often undisclosed preparation fees at the expense of their customers and the Treasury. The complaint alleges that the defendants prepared returns for customers that:

  • Falsely claim the Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Report fabricated businesses and related business income and expenses
  • Report fabricated deductions, including for purported job-related expenses
  • Claim false education credits.

Wendell Devallon and Berald Dominique – Florida

On February 4, 2022, DOJ announced that a federal court in the Southern District of Florida permanently as of February 3, 2022 barred Wendell Devallon and Berald Dominique, co-owners of Tax Time Group Inc., from preparing federal income tax returns or operating any tax return preparation business in the future. The court also ordered the tax preparers to pay $353,000 in disgorgement to the United States.

The civil complaint filed in the case alleged that Wendell Devallon and Berald Dominique, co-owners of Tax Time Group Inc., prepared tax returns for customers that claimed fraudulent self-employment expenses, fictitious education credits, false fuel tax credits and fake charitable contributions, among other schemes. The complaint also alleged that Devallon and Dominique acted as “ghost” preparers, meaning that they acted as paid tax return preparers but did not sign the returns they prepared, as required by law.

In a June 2021 order, the court found the defendants in contempt for violating a preliminary injunction that restricted their tax preparation activities while this case was pending. Devallon, Dominique and Tax Time Group consented to entry of the court’s contempt order and admitted that sufficient evidence existed to show that they had violated the preliminary injunction. In August 2021, the court entered an order requiring the defendants to pay $211,000 in sanctions for their violations of the preliminary injunction.

The February 3rd permanent injunction, to which Devallon, Dominique and Tax Time Group consented, forever bars them from any involvement in the preparation of federal tax returns. They must immediately close and cease all operations at any Tax Time Group office location, including the company’s North Lauderdale offices located at 995 Rock Island Road and 1675 S State Rd 7. They must also pay an additional $142,000 to the United States for their fraudulent return preparation activities that pre-dated the complaint. The permanent injunction requires Devallon and Dominique to give up their ownership of the “Tax Time Group” brand. If they sell the business, all proceeds will be applied to the $353,000 they must pay the United States. If Devallon, Dominique or Tax Time Group is found to have prepared another return, they must pay the United States $2,000 plus any fees they received for preparing the return.

Actions by DOJ help support IRS’ campaigns to fight refund fraud and identity theft. 

“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”.

The Office of the Chief of IRS Criminal Investigation (“CI”) has previously stated that “Millions of taxpayers put their trust in tax professionals to prepare accurate and lawful returns. Unfortunately, a few bad apples take advantage of that trust for their own greed and profit. CI’s special agents are highly skilled at unraveling fraudulent schemes. With our partners in other agencies and the private sector, we are dismantling these crooked enterprises and enforcing our tax laws.”

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), 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 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 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.Top of Form

Getting Ready For Tax Season 2022 – Did You Receive Your Third Round of Economic Impact Payments from IRS?

The IRS announced that as of February 26, 2022 all third-round Economic Impact Payments (EIP) have been issued and reminds people how to claim any remaining stimulus payment they’re entitled to on their 2021 income tax return as part of the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit.

The third round of EIP is authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 which expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for tax year 2021 only. Generally, this credit will increase the amount of your tax refund or decrease the amount of the tax you owe.

For tax year 2021, the Child Tax Credit is increased from $2,000 per qualifying child to:

  • $3,600 for children ages 5 and under at the end of 2021; and
  • $3,000 for children ages 6 through 17 at the end of 2021.

Parents of a child born in 2021 – or parents and guardians who added a new child to their family in 2021 – did not receive a third-round Economic Impact Payment for that child and may be eligible to receive up to $1,400 for the child by claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit.

Who can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit?

Eligible individuals who did not receive the full amount of EIP may claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2021 Form 1040 or 1040-SR. To determine whether you are an eligible individual or the amount of your Recovery Rebate Credit, complete the Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet in the Instructions for Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR.

Generally, you are eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit if you were a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien in 2021, cannot be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer for tax year 2021, and have a Social Security number valid for employment that is issued before the due date of your 2021 tax return (including extensions).

You must file Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit even if you are normally not required to file a tax return.

Be On The Look0Out For ATC Letter From IRS

To help taxpayers reconcile and receive all of the Child Tax Credits to which they are entitled, the IRS will send Letter 6419, 2021 advance CTC, starting late December, 2021 and continuing into January 2022. The letter will include the total amount of advance Child Tax Credit payments taxpayers received in 2021 and the number of qualifying children used to calculate the advance payments. Taxpayers should provide this letter to their tax preparer along with their 2021 tax documents.

Families who received advance payments will need to file a 2021 tax return and compare the advance Child Tax Credit payments they received in 2021 with the amount of the Child Tax Credit they can properly claim on their 2021 tax return.

Eligible families who did not receive any advance Child Tax Credit payments can claim the full amount of the Child Tax Credit on their 2021 federal tax return, filed in 2022. This includes families who don’t normally need to file a tax return.

Your Recovery Rebate Credit amount will be phased out if your adjusted gross income for 2021 exceeds:

$150,000 if you are married filing a joint return or filing as a qualifying widow or widower,

$112,500 if you are using the head of household filing status, or

$75,000 if you are using any other filing status.

What If I Received More Than What I Was Entitled To?

If you received more than you were entitled to, the IRS does not require you to pay the money back nor is any such ineligible amount added on to your 2021 taxes.  Taxpayers whose incomes increased in 2021 compared with their earlier tax returns which the IRS relied on to determine whether they qualified for the payments, may be in this situation.

Will I owe taxes on the stimulus checks?

No, because the stimulus checks are not considered income by the IRS but instead are prepaid tax credits for your 2021 tax return, authorized by the ARPA of 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. With the passing of 2021, taxpayers who expect to owe for 2021 should have their 2021 income tax returns done as early as possible in 2022 so that the 2021 liability can be rolled over into any proposal and the requirement to make estimated tax payments will start for 2022.

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.

 

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

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

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

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

How To Report Cryptocurrency On Your 2021 Income Tax Return.

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

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

How IRS Targets Cryptocurrency.

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

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

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

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

But the IRS does not stop there …

Chainalysis Reactor Software

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

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

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

IRS Access To Cryptocurrency Transactions.

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

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

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

10,000 Cryptocurrency Owners Receiving Warning Letters From The IRS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Since 2019, Form 1040 includes the following checkbox question:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voluntary Disclosure – The Way To Avoid Criminal Fines & Punishment

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

What Should You Do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Impact of COVID-19 on tax administration

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

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

An Opportunity For Taxpayers Who Owe The IRS.

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

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

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

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

What Should You Do?

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

Getting Ready For The 2022 Tax Filing Season

This year taxpayers get at least 3 extra days to file!

On January 10, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that it will process 2022 tax returns beginning January 24, 2022 (last year the opening date was February 12, 2021).

The IRS states that the January 24th start date for individual tax return filers allows the IRS time to perform programming and testing that is critical to ensuring IRS systems run smoothly. Updated programming helps ensure that eligible people can claim the proper amount of the Child Tax Credit after comparing their 2021 advance credits and claim any remaining stimulus money as a Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2021 tax return.

April 18th Filing Deadline.

The filing deadline to submit 2021 tax returns or an extension to file and pay tax owed is Monday, April 18, 2022.  By law, Washington D.C., holidays impact tax deadlines for everyone in the same way federal holidays do. The due date is April 18th, instead of April 15th because of the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia for everyone except taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts. Taxpayers in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 19, 2022, to file their returns due to the Patriots’ Day holiday in those states. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Monday, October 17, 2022, to file.

Since the IRS will begin processing tax returns on January 24th there is no advantage to filing tax returns on paper before then as no processing of those returns will start.  However, tax returns that are e-filed starting on January 24th will be processed immediately.  Nevertheless, it makes sense to start organizing your information early and so when the IRS filing systems open on January 24th, you are ready to submit your tax return right away.

Refunds in 2022.

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 mid-February 2022. 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.

Watch for IRS letters about advance Child Tax Credit payments and third Economic Impact Payments.

The IRS started sending Letter 6419, 2021 advance Child Tax Credit, in late December 2021 and continues to do so into January. The letter contains important information that can help ensure the return is accurate. People who received the advance CTC payments can also check the amount of the payments they received by using the CTC Update Portal available on IRS.gov.

Eligible taxpayers who received advance Child Tax Credit payments should file a 2021 tax return to receive the second half of the credit. Eligible taxpayers who did not receive advance Child Tax Credit payments can claim the full credit by filing a tax return.

The IRS will begin issuing Letter 6475, Your Third Economic Impact Payment, to individuals who received a third payment in 2021 in late January. While most eligible people already received their stimulus payments, this letter will help individuals determine if they are eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit for missing stimulus payments. If so, they must file a 2021 tax return to claim their remaining stimulus amount. People can also use IRS online account to view their Economic Impact Payment amounts.

Both letters include important information that can help people file an accurate 2021 tax return. If the return includes errors or is incomplete, it may require further review while the IRS corrects the error, which may slow the tax refund. Using this information when preparing a tax return electronically can reduce errors and avoid delays in processing.

The fastest way for eligible individuals to get their 2021 tax refund that will include their allowable Child Tax Credit and Recovery Rebate Credit is by filing electronically and choosing direct deposit.

Time Limits For Keeping Your Tax Records

Even though your 2021 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.