Posts Tagged ‘income tax’
Friday, April 15th, 2011
The IRS issued a press release advising taxpayers of payment options when you file your income tax return. The release is IR 2011-42. I have placed it in the blog below. The most important thing for you to know is if you owe taxes but you cannot pay the full amount file your tax return and make a payment. Fill out and attach to your return Form 9465 — Installment Agreement Request. The IRS will contact you to work out a payment plan. Read the information below.
Remember, I am a tax attorney having worked in Office of Chief Counsel, IRS. If you have questions or need help with the IRS, just let me know.
Lowrance Law LLC
IRS reminds taxpayers with a balance due that there are several payment options available [IR 2011-42]: Taxpayers who have a balance due when they file their 2010 federal individual income tax returns have several payment options.
Payments can be made by electronic funds withdrawal, credit or debit card, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or check or money order. According to IRS, some taxpayers who itemize their deductions may be eligible to claim as a miscellaneous itemized deduction the convenience fee charged to pay individual income taxes by credit or debit card.
Along with a check or money order, a taxpayer must include Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher. If a return has already been submitted but additional payment is due, a check or money order should be mailed to IRS with Form 1040-V. “For members of the military and others serving in combat zones, the filing and payment deadline is normally postponed until at least 180 days after the service member leaves the combat zone,” IRS said. “If you are eligible, you get the extra time without having to ask for it,” IRS added.
The agency advises taxpayers with a balance due to pay as much as possible by April 18 to avoid penalties and interest. Those who cannot pay in full have several options to consider. The first is an installment agreement. In most cases, this can be done in several minutes by using the IRS website, the agency said. The second payment option is an Offer in Compromise, which is an agreement between a taxpayer and IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. It is subject to acceptance based on legal requirements. The news release can be viewed on the IRS website.
Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
The IRS just sent out IRS Tax Tip 2011-73. The notice gives you the IRS view of what to do if you receive a letter from the IRS. Read this over and do not panic. If you need assistance with the IRS, please contact me at 703 506 1600. I handle audits, examinations and litigation of IRS matters
Eight Things to Know If You Receive an IRS Notice
the Internal Revenue Service sends millions of letters and notices to taxpayers
for a variety of reasons. Here are eight things to know about IRS notices – just
in case one shows up in your mailbox.
Don’t panic. Many of these letters can be dealt with simply and painlessly.
There are a number of reasons why the IRS might send you a notice. Notices may request payment of taxes, notify you of changes to your account, or request additional information. The notice you receive normally covers a very specific issue about your account or tax return.
Each letter and notice offers specific instructions on what you are asked to do to satisfy the inquiry.
If you receive a correction notice, you should review the correspondence and compare it with the information on your return. If you agree with the correction to your account, then usually no reply is necessary unless a payment is due or the notice directs otherwise. If you do not agree with the correction the IRS made, it is important that you respond as requested. You should send a written explanation of why you disagree and include any documents and information you want the IRS to consider, along with the bottom tear-off portion of the notice. Mail the information to the IRS address shown in the upper left-hand corner of the notice. Allow at least 30 days for a response.
Most correspondence can be handled without calling or visiting an IRS office. However, if you have questions, call the telephone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Have a copy of your tax return and the correspondence available when you call to help us respond to your inquiry. It’s important that you keep copies of any correspondence with your records.
For more information about IRS notices and bills, see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process. Information about penalties and interest is available in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax (For Individuals). Both publications are available at the IRS website, www.irs.gov.
Thursday, March 31st, 2011
On March 22, 2011 I gave a lecture for the Fairfax Bar Association (Fairfax Bar) Tax and Family Law Section at the Fairfax County Courthouse on key issues of Divorce Taxation that supplied Continuing Legal Education Credit for all Virginia attorneys present. The event was very well attended. My presentation on divorce taxes, which may seem boring to some, was spiced up with unusual tax court opinions, anecdotes and humorous comments. I did not include a lot of Internal Revenue Code citations, though they did form the basis for my talk. Rather my goal was to explain a complex tax area in a clear, understandable manner.
The attendees left with a fresher, more accurate perspective of how to handle the realities of the divorce process in light of the client’s best tax interest. Topics included: filing status, alimony, child support, retirement benefits, the distribution of property, and other tax topics to include in a property settlement agreement such as household employer taxes, the kiddie tax, child tax exemptions and child tax credits.
Tomorrow I will upload the power point for the tax talk I gave, as well as the written foundation for the talk for your benefit. I am happy to discuss your particular divorce tax situation with you. Feel free to contact me by email, by telephone, or by mail. Please see the contact page on my website for the details.
Lowrance Law LLC
703 506 1600
Disclaimer: No legal opinion here.
Monday, June 22nd, 2009
The U.S. Treasury Department announced on June 19 (see Treasury Press Releases) that Switzerland will agree to more exchange of financial information for tax enforcement purposes. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the new accord “will increase our ability to enforce our tax laws and will help bring an end to an era of offshore accounts and investments being used for tax evasion.”
Officials said the protocol would revise the existing US-Switzerland income tax treaty to allow for the exchange of information for income tax purposes “to the full extent permitted by Article 26 of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Model Income Tax Convention.”
Article 26 of the OECD Model Income Tax Convention is the “exchange of information” clause that most countries use as their “exchange of information” paragraph in International Tax Treaties. The change in the US–Swiss Tax Treaty means that the Switzerland definition of “tax fraud” will not control the information that may be given to the US authorities under the US - Swiss Tax Treaty. In the past, Switzerland would not give information to the US under a tax treaty request unless the information led to “tax fraud” as defined by the Swiss law. “Tax fraud” under Swiss law is very narrow and does not meet the US standard of “tax evasion” that most US tax treaty requests encompass.
Article 26 of the OECD Model Income Tax Convention states:
“The competent authorities of the Contracting States shall exchange such information as is foreseeably relevant for carrying out the provisions of this Convention or to the administration or enforcement of the domestic laws concerning taxes of every kind and description imposed on behalf of the Contracting States, or of their political subdivisions or local authorities, insofar as the taxation thereunder is not contrary to the Convention.”
Now, the question will become, after the US - Swiss change, what if “foreseeably relevant” in the Switzerland’s opinion. This may be a whole new area for litigation in Switzerland and the US for the collection of financial information from Switzerland.
Hey, no tax opinon here.
Thursday, May 7th, 2009
Here are a couple of the FAQs the IRS published yesterday on its web site regarding offshore accounts:
1. Why did the IRS issue internal guidance regarding offshore activities now?
The IRS has had a voluntary disclosure practice in its Criminal Manual for many years. Once IRS Criminal Investigation has determined preliminary acceptance into the voluntary disclosure program, the case is referred to the civil side of IRS for examination and resolution of taxes and penalties. Recent IRS enforcement efforts in the offshore area have led to an increased number of voluntary disclosures. Additional taxpayers are considering making voluntary disclosures but are reportedly reluctant to come forward because of uncertainty about the amount of their liability for potentially onerous civil penalties. In order to resolve these cases in an organized, coordinated manner and to make exposure to civil penalties more predictable, the IRS has decided to centralize the civil processing of offshore voluntary disclosures and to offer a uniform penalty structure for taxpayers who voluntarily come forward. These steps were taken to ensure thattaxpayers are treated consistently and predictably.
3. Why should I make a voluntary disclosure?
Taxpayers with undisclosed foreign accounts or entities should make a voluntary disclosure because it enables them to become compliant, avoid substantial civil penalties and generally eliminate the risk of criminal prosecution. Making a voluntary disclosure also provides the opportunity to calculate, with a reasonable degree of certainty, the total cost of resolving all offshore tax issues. Taxpayers who do not submit a voluntary disclosure run the risk of detection by the IRS and the imposition of substantial penalties, including the fraud penalty and foreign information return penalties, and an increased risk of criminal prosecution.
Remember the IRS deadline for this voluntary disclosure deal is September 23, 2009.
Tuesday, January 13th, 2009
IRS issued new Publication 554 entitled “Tax Guide for Seniors.” Click Here for Pub. 554
Believe it or not, IRS has a great website, IRS Website, and many publications about tax are there for download. Just below is a quoted portion from Publication 554. There are selected topics of particular interest to older taxpayers. In addition, there are several ways that Seniors can get help preparing there income tax returns. For example, see AARP Tax Taxaide, for example. For help, the IRS says:”
Return preparation assistance: The IRS wants to make it easier for you to file your federal tax return. You may find it helpful to visit a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE), or American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Tax-Aide site near you.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly.
These programs provide free help for low-income taxpayers and taxpayers age 60 or older to fill in and file their returns. For the VITA/TCE site nearest you, contact your local IRS office.
For the location of an AARP Tax-Aide site in your community, call 1-888-227-7669. When asked, be ready to press in or speak your 5-digit ZIP code. Or, you can visit their website on the Internet at www.aarp.org/taxaide.
From Publication 554:
“The purpose of this publication is to provide a general overview of selected topics that are of interest to older taxpayers. The publication will help you determine if you need to file a return and, if so, what items to report on your return. Each topic is discussed only briefly, so you will find references to other free IRS publications that provide more detail on these topics if you need it.
While most federal income tax laws apply equally to all taxpayers, regardless of age, there are some provisions that give special treatment to older taxpayers. The following are some examples.
Higher gross income threshold for filing: You must be age 65 or older at the end of the year to get this benefit. You are considered 65 on the day before your 65th birthday. Therefore, you are considered 65 at the end of the year if your 65th birthday is on or before January 1 of the following year.
Higher standard deduction: If you do not itemize deductions, you are entitled to a higher standard deduction if you are age 65 or older at the end of the year. You are considered 65 at the end of the year if your 65th birthday is on or before January 1 of the following year.
Credit for the elderly or the disabled: If you qualify, you may benefit from the credit for the elderly or the disabled. To determine if you qualify and how to figure this credit, see Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.
PS: No legal advice here; see your own attorney or accountant for tax advice.
Sunday, January 11th, 2009
According to the NYT, the Swiss Bank UBS, the world’s largest wealth manager, is going to return about $18 billion dollars to more than 19,000 account holders most of whom are US citizens. The US citizens holding the accounts, according to the IRS and Justice Department, have evaded at least $300 million a year in taxes, and that does not count penalties and interest.
In its article, “What to Do if UBS is Outing Your Secret Account,” NYT lists possible strategies to take in dealing with the IRS – see also NYT artcle about UBS’ plan to disclose accounts. If you have held such an account, your best choice to try and avoid criminal prosecution is to voluntarily disclosure your situation to the IRS. You may not be prosecuted, the choice is up to the Justice Department and the IRS, but you will have to report all your accounts and income and pay taxes, penalties and interest. Of course, paying money is better than sitting in a prison cell.
When I worked as an attorney in the Office of Chief Counsel, IRS, I specialized in criminal and civil tax matters involving offshore tax havens and hidden money. We had to decide how to investigate cases, get the money back and determine civil or criminal steps to take. We often collected millions of dollars in unpaid taxes, penalties and interest.
If you have the offshore account that has not been reported, do not wait for the IRS to knock on your door.
Tuesday, January 6th, 2009
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) is the only government entity that conducts internal audits the IRS. Well, now you can read the most recent interesting report that covers their audit April 1, 2008 through September 30, 2008. The report is TIGTA’s semiannual report to Congress.
There are some “blockbuster” (technical tax term) statements and recommendations in the report.
TIGTA says that IRS must focus on closing the Tax Gap noting that IRS does not consistantly assess penalties or penalize taxpayers for making false statements when filing returns. TIGTA recommends that IRS expand its enforcement efforts. As I have predicted before, along with other tax experts, in the future IRS will be increasing enforcement efforts. In fact, Chief Counsel, IRS, is looking for more attorneys, see Click Here
TIGTA said: “Now, more than ever, the IRS must focus efforts to close the Tax Gap – the difference between the amount of tax that taxpayers should pay and the amount that is paid voluntarily and on time. In audits conducted over this reporting period, TIGTA found that the IRS has neglected to consistently assess penalties on non-compliant businesses and individuals. Additionally, TIGTA noted that the IRS generally does not penalize taxpayers for making false statements when filing official tax forms. The IRS must aggressively address the lack of taxpayer compliance and hold those in violation accountable for their actions.”
Read the whole report: Click Here
Monday, January 5th, 2009
Accounting Web posted a great article about famous tax cheats for 2008—sort of a looking back for tax cheaters.
The list: Wesley Snipes, Joe Francis (Girls Gone Wild), Nicholas Cage, Helio Castroneves and Paul Hogan (Crocodile) among others.
Read the whole story Click Here
Monday, January 5th, 2009
IRS has published the Form 1040 that individuals file for their 2008 tax returns. Yes, it is time to think about filing your 2008 individual income tax return. The normal due date is April 15, 2009. There a some new changes this year. IRS publishes the new Form 1040, along with instructions, every year. The instructions are, believe it or not, organized and easy to read.
Many people are talking about the economic stimulus payment, recovery rebate credit and withdrawal of your stimulus payment from a tax favored account, see my favorite tax blogger Taxgirl. You should read the IRS 1040 instructions, page 6, for some plain talk explanations. Click Here
Any stimulus payment you received is not taxable for federal income tax purposes, but it may reduce your recovery rebate credit. What? The recovery rebate credit, you ask. The credit is available if, for some reason, you did not receive a stimulus payment in 2008 and meet other requirements. In the instructions there is a full explanation and a somewhat workable “worksheet.” Also, see Recovery Rebate Credit Here
Other new items:
First time home buyer: If you bought a home after April 8, 2008, and before July 1, 2009, and did not own a main home during the prior 3 years, you may be able to take the “first time home buyer credit.” The single largest provision in the $15.1 billion package of housing tax incentives in the recently enacted Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008 (the “Housing Act”) is a measure allowing individuals buying their first home to take a tax credit of up to $7,500 of the purchase price. Qualified home buyers can subtract the credit amount from their federal income tax when they buy a home and even get a refund if the credit exceeds the tax. However, they are then required to pay the credit back over 15 years. The result is that the credit resembles an interest-free loan that must be repaid to the government.
The IRS standard mileage rate for business use of your vehicle in 2008 is 50.5 cents per business mile driven through June and 58.5 cents per business mile thereafter. The standard mileage rate for 2009 is 55 cents. You will need to allocate your automobile expenses between business and personal use based on miles driven during the year. Proper recordkeeping is crucial in the event of an IRS challenge.
If you received an economic stimulus payment last year that was directly deposited to a tax favored account and you withdrew the payment by the due date of your return (including extensions), the amount withdrawn will not be taxed. Good news, eh?
Of course, I must tell you that all of the above information is general in nature. It is not meant to tax advice or a legal opinion. Always consult a tax professional before thinking that information here is a “slam dunk” for tax advice.