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.

Federal & California Governments Making It Easier For Taxpayers In The Gig Economy To Be Treated As Independent Contractors.

Why Tax Planning Is More Important If You Earn Income From The Gig Economy.

From renting spare rooms and vacation homes to car rides or using a bike…name a service or a craft & handmade item marketplace and it’s probably available through the gig economy which is proliferating through many digital platforms like Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Postmates, Instacart and Airbnb.

Trump administration finalizes independent contractor rule

The U.S. Department of Labor on January 6, 2021 announced a final rule to define whether workers are employees or independent contractors making it easier for companies to classify workers as independent contractors.

The change bases worker classification on an “economic reality test” focused primarily on whether a worker is economically dependent on an employer. Under the test, individuals are classified as employees if they are economically dependent on the employer; but if an individual is in business for themselves and not economically dependent on someone else’s business, that individual should be classified as an independent contractor.

Independent contractors are not entitled to benefits for companies they render work for and independent contractors are responsible to pay self-employment taxes on their income.

California law updated in 2020 to expand independent contractor status

California Assembly Bill (“AB”) 5 codified the California Supreme Court holding in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court and adopted the “ABC” test to determine whether independent contractors should be treated as employees with various exceptions.  Effective January 1, 2020 under the “ABC” test, workers are presumed to be employees unless they satisfy three conditions:

  1. The worker is free from the employer’s control and direction in connection with the work performed, both under the contract and in fact;
  2. The work performed is outside the usual course of the employer’s business; and
  3. The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.

Under AB 5, certain occupations were excluded from the ABC test, including doctors, lawyers, dentists, licensed insurance agents, accountants, architects and engineers, private investigators, real estate agents, and hairstylists.

Since the enactment of AB 5, the California Legislature introduced subsequent legislation (AB 257) to allow more workers to be treated as independent contractors by increasing the availability of exemptions to the ABC test as follows:

  • Translators, appraisers, home inspectors and registered foresters.
  • For the entertainment industry to include recording artists, songwriters, lyricists, composers, proofers, managers of recording artists, record producers and directors, musical engineers, musicians, vocalists, music album photographers, independent radio promoters, and certain publicists.
  • For referral agencies to include consulting, youth sports coaching, caddying, wedding and event planning, and interpreting services.

Lastly, in November 2020, California voters passed Proposition 22 which allows workers in the gig economy that serve as app-based drivers to be treated as independent contractors.

Four tips you should know about how the gig economy might affect your taxes:

  1. The activity is taxable.

If you receive income from a sharing economy activity, it’s generally taxable even if you don’t receive a Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, Form 1099-K, Payment Card and Third Party Network Transactions, Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, or some other income statement. This is true even if you do it as a side job or just as a part time business and even if you are paid in cash and to minimize how much you need to pay in taxes, it is imperative that you keep track of your business expenses.

  1. Some expenses are deductible.

The tax code allows you to deduct certain costs of doing business from gross income. For example, a taxpayer who uses their car for business may qualify to claim the standard mileage rate, which is 56 cents per mile for 2021. Generally, you cannot deduct personal, living or family expenses. You can deduct the business part only, such as supplies, cell phones, auto expenses, food and drinks for passengers, car washes, parking fees, tolls, roadside assistance plans, taxes, and incentives associated with certain electric and hybrid vehicles.

Example: You used your car only for personal purposes during the first 6 months of the year. During the last 6 months of the year, you drove the car a total of 15,000 miles of which 12,000 miles were driven to provide transportation services through a company that provides such services through requests to its app. This gives you a business use percentage of 80% (12,000 ÷ 15,000) for that period. Your business use for the year is 40% (80% × 6/12).

Example: You use your car both for personal purposes and to provide transportation arranged through a company that provides transportation service through its app. You must divide your personal and business expenses based on actual mileage. You can deduct the business part of these actual car expenses, which include depreciation (or lease payments), gas and oil, tires, repairs, tune-ups, insurance, and registration fees. Or, instead of figuring the business part of these actual expenses, you may be able to use the standard mileage rate to figure your deduction. Depending on the facts and circumstances, you may be providing the services either in a self-employed capacity or as an employee. If you are self-employed, you can also deduct the business part of interest on your car loan, state and local personal property tax on the car, parking fees, and tolls, whether or not you claim the standard mileage rate.

  1. You Could Be Subject To Self Employment Tax

The net income from your service-related activity with the sharing economy facilitator is subject to Self-Employment taxes, (Social Security and Medicare), at a 15.3% rate.  Now you will get to deduct one-half of these Self Employment taxes on your Form 1040 but if you consider that you still have income taxes to pay as well, the effective tax rate can easily exceed 30% and you will also have your state’s income tax on top of that.

So whether you are using your personal car for business or part of your residence as a home office, you will need to have good personal records of your expenses. In a situation where you are using your personal car for business you typically can deduct either “actual” costs for the percentage of business use, (though cell phone and food probably are not pertinent) or you can deduct mileage at a standard rate for business use. If you go the “simple” route and deduct mileage instead of “actual” expenses your Schedule C would consist of exactly 2 lines so it’s not very hard – but you will lose out on a lot of deductions and pay a lot more in taxes.

  1. Beware Of Requirement To Make Estimated Tax Payments.

Remember you are not an “employee” of the sharing economy facilitators; you are an “independent contractor”.  As such, there is no withholding of any taxes from your checks; you are responsible for all taxes – Self Employment taxes and income taxes – on your net earnings.  The U.S. tax system is pay-as-you-go. This means that taxpayers involved in the sharing economy often need to make estimated tax payments during the year. These payments are due on April 15, June 15, September 15 and January 15 (of the next year). Taxpayers use Form 1040-ES to figure these payments.

Why The IRS Likes The Gig Economy.

Unlike traditional transactions where two parties directly deal with each other and nothing is reported to the IRS, gig economy facilitators who connect the two parties, collect the money from the paying party and transmit the revenue to the service provider will report the sale to IRS using Form 1099. The IRS now has a tool by which they can match up the amount of income you report on your tax return and if the Form 1099 amount is greater, you can be sure that the IRS will catch this and send you a tax bill.

What Should You Do?

As the gig economy continues to grow, so do the associated tax problems. The IRS obviously is interested in folks who earn money using their autos as on-call car services or rent their homes to out-of-towners. That is why it’s important to keep good records. Choose a recordkeeping system suited to your business that clearly shows your income and expenses. The business you’re in affects the type of records you need to keep for federal tax purposes. Your recordkeeping system should include a summary of your business transactions. Your records must also show your gross income, as well as your deductions and credits. Federal law sets statutes of limitations that can affect how long you need to keep tax records.

Don’t Take The Chance And Lose Everything You Have Worked For.

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

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.

Why You Don’t Mess With California Even During A Pandemic – A Primer On California Tax Collection Actions.

Don’t think that you can avoid California tax enforcement action just because we are in a pandemic.  California is unique in the structure of its tax system. Most States operate under a single tax agency. The Federal government uses a single tax agency called the IRS. But California has three tax agencies! They are the Franchise Tax Board (“FTB”), California Department Of Tax And Fee Administration (“CDTFA”) and the Employment Development Department (“EDD”).

What does FTB cover?

The FTB administers the income tax. This tax applies not only to individuals, but also to sole proprietorships, partnerships, estates, and trusts. In addition, the income “passed through” to individuals by Subchapter S corporations and certain other entities is subject to State Personal Income Taxation. The tax is applied to all sources of income unless specifically excluded, including wages and salaries, interest, dividends, business-related income, and capital gains.

What does CDTFA cover?

The CDTFA administers the Sales and Use Tax. The tax in a specific California location has three parts: the state tax rate, the local tax rate and any district tax rate that may be in effect. Sales and Use Tax is the second largest source of tax revenue in California and is assessed at both the state and local levels.

What does EDD cover?

EDD involves payroll taxes which includes all employer paid taxes, State Income Tax Withholding of employees, State Disability Insurance (“SDI”) Taxes and Unemployment Insurance (“UI”) Taxes.

The California Tax Agencies can go way beyond liens and levies to enforce collection and put pressure on taxpayers.

The FTB publishes Top 500 Delinquent Taxpayers (one list for personal and one for corporate) twice a year in April and October. The FTB is required by law to post this information at least twice annually. California Revenue & Taxation Code § 19195.  Since the list’s inception in October 2007, FTB has collected more than $1 billion from delinquent taxpayers through the program.

The FTB will notify each taxpayer by certified mail 30 days before they post their information.

  • As cases are resolved, those taxpayers are removed from the list, reducing the total number of listings from the original 500.
  • Your occupational and professional licenses, including your driver’s license may be suspended under Business and Professions Code §494.5.
  • State agencies will not enter into contracts for the acquisition of goods and services with you under Public Contract Code §10295.4.

The CDTFA has a similar list of the state’s top sales and use tax debtors, which is updated quarterly.

The CDFTA will revoke your seller’s permit. If your seller’s permit is revoked, you cannot sell your goods. Also, as a corporate director, officer, member, manager, or other person having control or supervision of the filing of returns or payments of taxes, you may become personally liable for any unpaid sales and use taxes, interest, and penalties. Such personal liability for any unpaid taxes and interest and penalties on those taxes is triggered upon termination, dissolution, or abandonment of a corporate business or limited liability company, any officer, member, manager, or other person having control or supervision of, or who is charged with the responsibility for the filing of returns or the payment of tax, or who is under a duty to act for the corporation or limited liability company in complying with any requirement of this part. Section 6829 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.

The IRS has the Trust Fund Recovery Penalty (also known as the 100-percent penalty). The EDD has something similar referred to as “CUIC 1735”. But CUIC goes way beyond the IRS’ version. Not only does the EDD assert a full 100-percent exposure of the employees tax withholdings AND the employer’s share of payroll taxes to targeted responsible individuals but also a 10% nonabatable assessment penalty (it should be noted that the IRS version is limited only to the employee’s share of FICA and withheld federal income taxes, roughly 60% of the corporate employer’s overall liability). The two key elements of CUIC 1735 are responsibility and willfulness. The EDD must have both elements before they can make the 100% assessment stick. Any officer, major stockholder, or other person in charge of the affairs of the business can be held responsible. Before the assessment can become final, the targeted responsible person must be given notice, an opportunity for an administrative hearing, and an appeal. If the targeted individual loses his or her administrative hearing and appeal, and does not pay within 10 days after assessment, her or she will be penalized a further 10% pursuant to CUIC 1135.

 

Don’t Take The Chance And Lose Everything You Have Worked For.

 

Protect yourself. Federal and State 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.Top of Form

 

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 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.

IRS Provides Tax Relief For Victims Of September 2020 Wildfires In California.

The IRS announced on October 19, 2020 that victims of the California wildfires that began September 4th may qualify for tax relief.  Individuals who reside or have a business in Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, San Bernardino, San Diego and Siskiyou counties in California, have until January 15, 2021, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments.  Taxpayers in localities added later to the disaster area will automatically receive the same filing and payment relief. The current list of eligible localities is available on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.  This relief is separate from the announcement by the IRS on August 24, 2020 for the California wildfires that began on August 14th.

IRS Tax Relief Details

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

The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after September 7, 2020, are granted additional time to file through January 15, 2021. This includes 2019 individual income tax returns that have a valid extension through October 15, 2020, and the employment and excise tax returns due on November 2, 2020.  It also includes the quarterly estimated individual income tax payment due on September 15, 2020.  It also applies to tax-exempt organizations, operating on a calendar-year basis that had a valid extension due to run out on November 16, 2020. Businesses with extensions also have the additional time including, among others, calendar-year corporations whose 2019 extensions run out on October 15, 2020.

In addition, penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after September 4, 2020, and before September 21, 2020, will be abated as long as the deposits were made by September 21, 2020.

Importance To Preserve Records

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

Essential Records to Have for a Tax Audit

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

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

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

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

Tips On Reconstructing Records

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

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

Tax records

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

Financial statements

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

Property records

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

Develop And Implement Your Backup Plan

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

The tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), 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.

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

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

On March 27, 2020 President Trump signed the $2 trillion Stimulus Bill formally known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security [CARES] Act (the “CARES Act”) to provide assistance to workplaces and employees. The CARES Act provides many benefits intended to deliver cash into the hands of individuals and businesses, as well as many other tax provisions.  One of the most publicized provisions is the immediate cash payments by the Federal government to qualifying taxpayers.

Who is eligible for the economic impact payment?

To get cash assistance promptly delivered to individual taxpayers, qualifying taxpayers will receive one-time cash payments of $1,200 for individual taxpayers or if married, $2,400 for married couples.  An additional $500 may be paid for each qualifying child.

These amounts are subject to reduction if the individual’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) exceeds $75,000 for an individual taxpayer; $112,500 for head of household; or $150,000 for a married couple.

Nonresident alien individuals and a person who is the dependent of another are ineligible to receive the payment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Opportunity For Taxpayers Who Owe The IRS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Should You Do?

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