IRS Criminal Investigation Division Releases Its Top Cases Of 2021

On January 3, 2022 the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) began listing he top 10 cases for calendar year 2021 on its Twitter account which are considered to me the agency’s most prominent and high-profile investigations of 2021.

IRS-CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. IRS-CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, boasting a nearly 90% federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 11 attaché posts abroad.

In issuing this list IRS-CI Chief Jim Lee stated: “The investigative work of 2021 has all the makings of a made for TV movie – embezzlement of funds from a nonprofit, a family fraud ring that stole millions in COVID-relief funds and a $1 billion Ponzi scheme used to buy sports teams and luxury vehicles. But this is real life and I’m grateful to our IRS-CI agents for pursuing these leads and ensuring that the perpetrators were prosecuted for their crimes.”

Here are the cases of 2021 that made the top 10 of IRS-CI cases in countdown order:

  1. Albuquerque couple sentenced to federal prison in Ayudando Guardians case
    Susan Harris and William Harris were sentenced to 47 and 15 years in federal prison, respectively. They stole funds from Ayudando Guardians Inc., a nonprofit organization that provided guardianship, conservatorship and financial management to hundreds of people with special needs.
  2. Rochester man going to prison and ordered to pay millions in restitution for his role in Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of millions of dollars
    John Piccarreto Jr. was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution totaling $19,842,613.66 after he was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and filing a false tax return. He conspired with others to obtain money through an investment fraud Ponzi scheme.
  3. Orlando sisters sentenced in $25 million tax fraud scheme
    Petra Gomez and her co-conspirator, her sister, Jakeline Lumucso, were sentenced to eight and four years in federal prison, respectively. They operated a tax preparation business with five locations in central Florida that filed more than 16,000 false tax returns for clients from 2012 to 2016 with a total estimated loss to the IRS of $25 million.
  4. Russian bank founder sentenced for evading exit tax upon renouncing U.S. citizenship
    Oleg Tinkov, aka Oleg Tinkoff, was ordered to pay more than $248 million in taxes and sentenced to time-served and one year of supervised release after he renounced his U.S. citizenship in an effort to conceal large stock gains that were reportable to the IRS after the company he founded became a multibillion dollar, publicly traded company.
  5. Ontario man who ran multimillion-dollar unlicensed bitcoin exchange business sentenced to 3 years in federal prison
    Hugo Sergio Mejia was sentenced to three years in federal prison and required to forfeit all assets derived from running an unlicensed business that exchanged at least $13 million in Bitcoin and cash, and vice versa, often for drug traffickers. He charged commissions for the transactions and established separate companies to mask his true activity.
  6. Owner of bitcoin exchange sentenced to prison for money laundering
    Rossen G. Iossifov, a Bulgarian national, was sentenced to 121 months in federal prison for participating in a scheme where popular online auction and sales websites — such as Craigslist and eBay — falsely advertised high-cost goods (typically vehicles) that did not actually exist. Once victims sent payment for the goods, the conspiracy engaged in a complicated money laundering scheme where U.S.-based associates would accept victim funds, convert these funds to cryptocurrency, and transfer the cryptocurrency to foreign-based money launderers.
  7. Ex-pastor of Orange County church sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for orchestrating $33 million con that defrauded investors
    Kent R.E. Whitney, the ex-pastor of the Church of the Health Self, was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $22.66 million in restitution to victims after defrauding investors of $33 million by orchestrating a church-based investment scam. At his direction, church representatives appeared on television and at live seminars to make false and misleading claims to lure investors to invest in church entities. Victims sent more than $33 million to the church and received fabricated monthly statements reassuring them that their funds had been invested, when in reality, little to no money ever was.
  8. Prairie Village Man Sentenced to 12 Years for $7.3 Million Dollar Payday Loan Fraud, $8 Million Tax Evasion
    Joel Tucker was sentenced to 12 years and six months in federal prison and ordered to pay over $8 million in restitution to the IRS after selling false information or fictitious debts to payday loan businesses and not filing federal tax returns – for himself or his businesses – with the IRS for multiple years.
  9. DC Solar owner sentenced to 30 years in prison for billion dollar Ponzi scheme
    Jeff Carpoff, the owner of California-based DC Solar, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison and forfeited $120 million in assets to the U.S. government for victim restitution after creating a Ponzi-scheme that involved the sale of thousands of manufactured mobile solar generator units (MSGs) that didn’t exist. He committed account and lease revenue fraud and purchased a sports team, luxury vehicles, real estate and a NASCAR team with the proceeds.
  10. San Fernando Valley family members sentenced to years in prison for fraudulently obtaining tens of millions of dollars in COVID relief
    The Ayvazyan family received sentences ranging from 17.5 years in prison to 10 months of probation for crimes ranging from bank and wire fraud to aggravated identity theft. The family used stolen and fictitious identities to submit 150 fraudulent applications for COVID-relief funds based on phony payroll records and tax documents to the Small Business Administration, and then used the funds they received to purchase luxury homes, gold coins, jewelry designer handbags and more. Richard Ayvazyan and his wife Terabelian cut their ankle monitoring devices and absconded prior to their sentencing hearing; they are currently fugitives.

IRS-CI reported that the agency initiated over 2,500 cases in fiscal year 2021 (up from 1,598 in the previous fiscal year), applying approximately 72% of its time to tax related investigations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Special Programs Run By IRS-CI

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

What Should You Do?

Very quickly a criminal investigation can turn to the worst for a targeted taxpayer so you should promptly seek tax counsel who can act proactively before the IRS does. Let the tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Los Angeles and other locations within California 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.

2021 Tax Filing Season – 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 2020 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 2021 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.

New For 2022: Tax Rule Affecting People Who Use Venmo, Paypal Or Other Payment Apps.

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.

And if you use such payment apps or other third-party electronic payment networks to pay for goods and services, you should be aware of a tax reporting change that goes into effect in January 2022 which was passed as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

As a small business owner or for anyone doing business in the gig economy who gets paid from a payment app or other third-party electronic payment network, it was previously up to you to make sure you were reporting that income on your tax return.  The IRS believes that this is not being done.

Under this new tax rule, starting with the 2022 calendar year payment app providers will have to start reporting to the IRS a user’s business transactions if, in aggregate, they total $600 or more for the year. The reporting form to use is a Form 1099-K.  A business transaction is defined as payment for a good or service.  Prior to this change, app providers only had to send the IRS a Form 1099-K if an individual account had at least 200 business transactions in a year and if those transactions combined resulted in gross payments of at least $20,000.

This means you can now expect to receive a 1099-K for each calendar year staring with 2022 by January 31st of the succeeding year.  You should receive your 2022 Form 1099-K no later than January 31, 2023.  And the IRS will receive the same information.

The IRS expects to use this information to uncover unreported income and recover lost tax revenues.

Federal Government’s Independent Contractor Ruling

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.

California Putting Pressure On Delinquent Taxpayers To Pay

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 cryptocurrency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.Top of Form

Getting Ready For Tax Season 2022 – What You Need To Know About Reporting Economic Impact Payments

The third round of the Recovery Rebate Credit 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.

Who can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit?

Eligible individuals who did not receive the full amount of the Economic Impact Payments 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 CTC 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 cryptocurrency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

IRS Criminal Investigation Division Releases Its 2021 Annual Report

On November 18, 2021 the IRS released the Criminal Investigation Division’s (CI) annual report, highlighting significant successes and criminal enforcement actions taken in fiscal year ending September 30, 2021.  The IRS noted that a key achievement was the identification of over $10 billion in tax fraud and other financial crimes.

In issuing this report IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig stated:  IRS-CI agents are the only federal law enforcement officers with the authority to investigate criminal violations of the U.S. tax code. Their work reinforces the backbone of our voluntary compliance tax system — a system that funds services and benefits for our nation, including defense, infrastructure and education.”

According to the report, CI initiated over 2,500 cases in fiscal year 2021 (up from 1,598 in the previous fiscal year), applying approximately 72% of its time to tax related investigations. CI is the only federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over federal tax crimes achieving a conviction rate of over 90% in fiscal year 2021.

IRS Criminal Investigation Division Expands Its International Network

The report states that in the last fiscal year IRS-CI built upon its existing network of U.S. field offices and international attachés to combat financial crimes across the globe through the agency’s alliance with the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5) and public-private partnerships with financial institutions and the Fin-Tech industry to deter and identify criminal activity. Additionally, IRS-CI established its first cyber attaché in The Hague, Netherlands, to proactively support cyber investigative needs in coordination with Europol.

IRS-CI Chief Jim Lee stated “IRS-CI continues to lead tax and financial investigations here in the U.S. and across the globe. In fiscal year 2021, as we faced the second year of a global pandemic, our team of agents continued to overcome personal and professional challenges to target criminals who exploited the U.S. tax and financial systems for personal gain.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Special Programs Run By CI

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

What Should You Do?

Very quickly a criminal investigation can turn to the worst for a targeted taxpayer so you should promptly seek tax counsel who can act proactively before the IRS does. Let the tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Los Angeles and other locations within California 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.

Infrastructure Bill Tax Provisions Include Increased Reporting Requirements For Cryptocurrency Transactions

Section 80603 of the bill imposes new crypto-assets information reporting requirements on brokers.

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.

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 was no such third-party reporting.  Digital exchanges were not broker-regulated by the IRS. Exchanges did not issue a 1099 form, nor did they calculate gains or cost basis for the trader… until now.

New Reporting Requirements For Cryptocurrency Transactions

On August 10, 2021, H.R. 3684, known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, was passed by the Senate on August 10, 2021 and having passed the House Of Representatives on November 5, 2021 it is headed to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.  This bill 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.

 

Can You Go To Jail For Not Filing Tax Returns? Beware this can happen to you.

A man who did not file tax returns for 8 year in a row pleaded guilty before a Federal District Court Judge to evading his income taxes and now must serve 57 months in jail.

As reported by the Department Of Justice in a press release, from 2009 through 2016 Daryl Brown received taxable income, but did not file tax returns reporting his income or pay the taxes he owed.  To evade his taxes, Mr. Brown opened bank accounts and lines of credit in nominee names and used credit and debit cards from those accounts to pay for personal expenses.  He also bought money orders with cash, directed others to buy money orders for him, and structured his purchase of money orders–sometimes from several locations on the same day–to avoid triggering reporting requirements that would have flagged his activity to the IRS.  Court documents showed Mr. Brown’s conduct caused a tax loss of more than $250,000 to the IRS.

The Department Of Justice in a follow-up press release reported that on June 7, 2021 U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black in the Southern District of Ohio sentenced Mr. Brown to 57 months in prison for tax evasion and ordered him to serve 3 years of supervised release and pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $377,240.

An Opportunity To “Get Back Into The System” And Be Compliant.

The U.S. tax system relies on initial voluntary compliance where taxpayers each year file a tax return; however, there are millions of Americans who fail to file a tax return and what’s worse is that these failures are usually not limited to just one year. Taxpayers who either have never filed a tax return or those who were once compliant but stopped filing a tax return for a period of time, face the same penalties that stack up quickly.  Additionally, if the IRS chooses to pursue criminal prosecution and proves that the failure was willful, a taxpayer can be sentenced to prison.  So it is important to engage a tax attorney to come up with a plan to mitigate criminal exposure and establish an arrangement or settlement on the resulting tax liabilities.

An Opportunity For Taxpayers Who Owe The IRS.

As a prerequisite to any proposal (including but not limited to, an Offer In Compromise, payment plan or being put into “uncollectible status”) 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 towards the end of 2021, taxpayers who expect to owe for 2021 should have their 2021 income tax returns as soon 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 now 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. 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.

Another Leak Of Taxpayers Allegedly Involved In Hiding Assets Offshore – What You Need To Know About The “Pandora Papers”

A compilation based on 11.9 million financial records uncovers more than 100 billionaires, 30 world leaders and 300 public officials and their use of offshore accounts to avoid taxes or otherwise hide ownership of assets.

On October 3, 2021 the International Consortium Of Investigative Journalists released what is now dubbed the “Pandora Papers”.  The reporting is similar to the Panama Papers (2016) and the Paradise Papers (2017) which exposed cases involving celebrities and business executives who reportedly moved large chunks of their wealth into offshore tax havens.  The source of documents in the Pandora Papers came from 11.9 million financial records comprising nearly 3 terabytes of data from 14 different firms doing business in 38 jurisdictions. The information is even more extensive than that of the Panama Papers which centered on documents secured from the Panamanian law firm of Mossack Fonseca or the Paradise Papers which centered on documents connected with institutions in Bermuda including the Appleby Law Firm and the Asiaciti Trust Company.  The Pandora Papers detail more than 29,000 offshore accounts held by more than 130 Forbes-designated billionaires and 330 current and former public officials in more than 90 countries, including 14 current heads of state.

Now while it’s not necessarily illegal to distribute wealth across secret companies, which can be used by the super wealthy as legitimate forms of holding their wealth, shell companies can be used to evade taxes and disguise illegal behavior. Also just because someone is mentioned in the Pandora Papers, it doesn’t necessarily mean their business holdings are illegal or they did anything illegal. Unfortunately, when one is mixed in with a basket of bad apples, you know how people will tend to judge the whole harvest.

Nevertheless, this leak is another huge hit the offshore world has taken. The Pandora Papers included connections to Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera, Dominican President Luis Abinader, and President Milo Djukanovic of Montenegro, as well as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

So as government tax officials start reading the Pandora Papers, you can expect in the coming months that many new names will come out that the IRS will be interested in targeting.

Filing Requirements If You Have Foreign Accounts

By law, many U.S. taxpayers with foreign accounts exceeding certain thresholds must file Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, known as the “FBAR.” It is filed electronically with the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

Taxpayers with an interest in, or signature or other authority over, foreign financial accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during a calendar year must file FBARs. It is due by the due date of your Form 1040 and must be filed electronically through the BSA E-Filing System website.

Generally, U.S. citizens, resident aliens and certain non-resident aliens must report specified foreign financial assets on Form 8938 if the aggregate value of those assets exceeds certain thresholds. Reporting thresholds vary based on whether a taxpayer files a joint income tax return or lives abroad. The lowest reporting threshold for Form 8938 is $50,000 but varies by taxpayer.

By law, Americans living abroad, as well as many non-U.S. citizens, must file a U.S. income tax return. In addition, key tax benefits, such as the foreign earned income exclusion, are only available to those who file U.S. returns.

The law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report worldwide income, including income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and securities 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.

Penalties for non-compliance.

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

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

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

Additionally, the penalties for FBAR noncompliance are stiffer than the civil tax penalties ordinarily imposed for delinquent taxes. For non-willful violations it is $10,000.00 per account per year going back as far as six years. For willful violations the penalties for noncompliance which the government may impose include a fine of not more than $500,000 and imprisonment of not more than five years, for failure to file a report, supply information, and for filing a false or fraudulent report.

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

The Solution.

The IRS has special programs for taxpayers to come forward to disclose unreported foreign accounts and unreported foreign income. The main program is called the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). OVDP offers taxpayers with undisclosed income from offshore accounts an opportunity to get current with their tax returns and information reporting obligations. The program encourages taxpayers to voluntarily disclose foreign accounts now rather than risk detection by the IRS at a later date and face more severe penalties and possible criminal prosecution.

What Should You Do?

Don’t delay because if the government finds out about you first, you can be subject to criminal prosecution.  Taxpayers who hire an experienced tax attorney in Offshore Account Voluntary Disclosures should result in avoiding any pitfalls and gaining the maximum benefits conferred by this program. Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County, San Francisco and other California locations resolve your IRS tax problems, get you in compliance with your FBAR filing obligations, and minimize the chance of any criminal investigation or imposition of civil penalties. 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 Provides Expanded Tax Relief For Victims Of Hurricane Ida

The IRS announced on August 31, 2021 that victims of Hurricane Ida that began on August 26, 2021 now have until January 3, 2022 to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments.  This relief was announced with a focus on taxpayers in Louisiana but since then the IRS announced on September 8, 2021 an expanded group of victims of Hurricane Ida in parts of New York and New Jersey that also get comparable relief.

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. This includes the entire state of Louisiana.  In New York, this currently includes Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, Richmond and Westchester counties, and in New Jersey, it includes Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic and Somerset counties. Taxpayers in Ida-impacted localities designated by FEMA in other parts of New York and New Jersey and neighboring states will automatically receive the same filing and payment relief. The current list of eligible localities is always available on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.  The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area.

The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on August 26, 2021 for Louisiana victims and starting on September 1, 2021 for New York and New Jersey victims. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until January 3, 2022 to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. This means individuals who had a valid extension to file their 2020 return due to run out on October 15, 2021, will now have until January 3, 2022, to file.  However, any tax payments related to these 2020 returns that were due on May 17, 2021 are not eligible for this relief.

The January 3, 2022 deadline also applies to quarterly estimated income tax payments due on September 15, 2021, and the quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on November 1, 2021. It also applies to tax-exempt organizations, operating on a calendar-year basis that had a valid extension due to run out on November 15, 2021. Businesses with extensions also have the additional time including, among others, calendar-year corporations whose 2020 extensions run out on October 15, 2021.

In addition, for Louisiana victims penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after August 26, 2021 and before September 10, 2021 will be abated as long as the deposits were made by September 10, 2021.  For New York and New Jersey victims penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after September 1, 2021 and before September 16, 2021 will be abated as long as the deposits were made by September 16, 2021.

Tax Planning Tip

Individuals and businesses in a federally declared disaster area who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (in this instance, the 2021 return normally filed next year), or the return for the prior year (2020). Be sure to write the appropriate FEMA declaration number on any return claiming a loss.

Here are the applicable FEMA declaration numbers to use:

FEMA declaration number – 4611 − for Hurricane Ida in Louisiana

FEMA declaration number – 4614 for Hurricane Ida in New Jersey

FEMA declaration number – 4615 for Hurricane Ida in New York

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.