Author Archive for Jeffrey B. Kahn, Esq. - Principal Attorney

Why Are Tax Inversions Suddenly So Popular?

The United States is one of the few large countries that taxes citizens, permanent residents and corporations on income earned anywhere in the world.

U.S. corporations have a nifty way to avoid tax on their foreign income and reduce their U.S. tax without really leaving home. It’s called tax inversion, and due to some recent high profile deals it’s becoming all the rage.

In the past year alone, at least 14 U.S. companies have announced inversion deals with foreign (mostly Irish and British) companies. Left unchecked, these deals will continue to erode the corporate tax base, leaving others like you and me to pick up the slack.

What is tax inversion?

A U.S. company reincorporates overseas by getting acquired by a smaller company in a country where the corporate tax rate is much lower than the top U.S. rate of 35%. Generally, the U.S. firm’s management and operations remain in the United States, but it is no longer taxed on income earned outside the United States. The firm will still pay taxes on income earned inside the U.S., but it gets easier to minimize that tax. For example, the U.S. subsidiary can borrow money from its foreign parent, then deduct the interest it pays on that debt, which reduces its U.S. income and taxes.

An inversion also gives companies ways to avoid U.S. tax on profits that have been piling up overseas, largely in tax havens such as Bermuda. It is estimated that U.S. companies have about $1 trillion sitting in foreign subsidiaries. They would love to bring it home and use it to pay dividends or buy back shares, which would increase their stock price. But they would have to pay U.S. tax on it.

However, if the U.S. company gets acquired by an Irish company, for example, the Irish company can borrow that cash from the Bermuda company. The Irish company can use it to buy back shares or pay dividends without paying U.S. tax. The shareholders of the former U.S. company benefit because they own most of the Irish company.

If the big corporations can do this to avoid U.S. taxes, could you or your little corporation do the same thing?

As an individual you would have to not only leave the country but also renounce your U.S. citizenship – meaning that you now must be a citizen of some other foreign country and you will never be able to attain U.S. citizenship again. You will also need to pay an “exit tax” 15% of the value of all your assets.

For your little corporation, you will not be able to accomplish the tax inversion due to special rules that the IRS has in place. These rules would classify the new foreign corporation as a Controlled Foreign Corporation (“CFC”) because you individually as a U.S. person for tax purposes would be the sole shareholder for the foreign corporation. These rules provide that regardless of whether any distributions are made by the CFC to you, you are required to report on your individual income tax return the income that the CFC earned. Big corporations would not be classified as a CFC because their stock is widely held and not concentrated to one or a few shareholders.

Does it make any sense for the taxes to be based on where the corporate “hub” is anyway? Shouldn’t it be based on WHERE they made the money?

Actually the big corporations still have to pay U.S. taxes despite accomplishing a tax inversion. Profits earned in the U.S. would still be subject to U.S. taxes; however, the U.S. federal income tax bill on repatriated profits is reduced by the amount of income taxes paid to foreign governments on the same U.S. profit reported to IRS. So, profits earned outside the U.S. would not be subject to U.S. income taxes until those profits are repatriated back to the U.S. at which time they are subject to the full U.S. statutory corporate income tax rate of 35% upon repatriation.

So as an individual or little corporation, how do you fight back?

You would be surprised of the many tax saving opportunities that are available to U.S. persons and U.S. businesses without the need to go offshore. The tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and elsewhere in California are highly skilled in making sure that you are getting all the tax saving benefits that are legally possible.

Description: Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. evaluate your tax exposure and legally minimize the amount you need to pay.

Jeffrey B. Kahn, Esq. Discusses IRS And Big Data On ESPN – September 11, 2014 Show

Topics Covered:

1. The IRS And Big Data.

2. Four Ways That Returns Are Selected for Examination

3. How the IRS is matching Big Data to your tax return and selecting you for audit.

4. Questions from our listeners:

a. Is It True That Taxpayers with Legal Counsel are Treated Better By The IRS?

b. But Will An IRS Agent Get Upset With You For Hiring A Tax Attorney?

Transcript

Good afternoon!

It’s time for the Mr. Credit Show where we attempt to make you smarter than everyone else.

This is Jeffrey Kahn, Board Certified Tax Attorney from the kahntaxlaw team. We have a lot to cover today in the world of taxes and helping me out today will be my associate attorney Amy Spivey who will be calling in later in today’s show.

The IRS And Big Data.

With another tax filing and estimated tax payment deadline coming up, you may have spent the last few days thinking hard about your taxes, but the IRS has been doing so for years – positioning itself as a leader in using big data.

Each year, April 15th is a memorable date for those of us in the United States – this is the deadline to file our taxes or to file an extension to delay filing a tax return to October 15th.

It is clear that the IRS is the dominant government agency in the United States. After all if there are no taxes, there can be no government. Politicians know this and over the decades have ensured that the IRS has all the powers it needs to raise federal taxes from the citizens, residents, and even tourists who stay long enough in the United States.

U.S. citizens cannot even escape U.S taxation by leaving the country because the tax law requires U.S. citizens who currently earn more than $9,750 to file even if they don’t live in the country. Even if you renounce your citizenship, as 3,805 did in 2011, you still have to pay an exit tax of 15% on all your assets including investments, homes, and even your personal possessions.

Extensive data collection

To keep track of this, 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 the IRS is not stopping here. The IRS has signed a $650 million ten-year contract with Unisys to further develop Big Transaction Processing Data whereby the IRS is using Unisys ClearPath Dorado Servers running at an estimated 1,200 MIPS to process tax returns.

For those of you who are not techie’s, MIPS is a measure of a computer’s central processing unit performance and its stands for “Million Instructions Per Second”. These servers will reside selected IRS Data Centers alongside several IBM z/196 mainframes, capable of running at an estimated 8,000 MIPS. Along with all this processing power are extensive data storage capabilities which will be managed in the IRS’ private cloud. It is estimated that IRS has 7.5 Petabytes of data. By the way just one Petabyte is equivalent to 1 quadrillion bytes.

Data from social media

But the IRS is not just stopping with Big Data Transactions, the IRS is now pursuing Big Data Social Media Analytics just like Google.

But unlike the normal corporate big data analytics, the IRS has one big advantage: It knows everyone’s social security numbers, as well as all the tax information from the firms we as taxpayers interact with, and as such the IRS can join the dots between Google, EBay, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, and perhaps your PayPal and credit card accounts along with your emails to overseas bankers.

The IRS has access to every social media posting going back to 2008 so deleting your posts does not make them go away.  The IRS has bragged that their computer can make DNA blueprint of each of our behaviors. Amazingly, the IRS’ supercomputer can read all 200 million e-Filed returns in just ten hours.

All this will allow the IRS to refine its algorithms to more effectively identity those taxpayers to be selected for audit or investigation.

So while none of us enjoys doing or paying our taxes we as taxpayers can be comforted by knowing that the government is at the forefront of the big data revolution. And despite the use of these new technology skills to make the government itself more efficient, there are two certain things in life – death and taxes!

Well it’s time for a break but stay tuned because we are going to tell how the IRS selects returns for examination.

You are listening to Jeffrey Kahn the principal tax attorney of the kahntaxlaw team on the Mr. Credit show.

BREAK

Welcome back. You are listening to Jeffrey Kahn the principal tax attorney of the kahntaxlaw team.

Calling into the studio from our San Francisco Office is my associate attorney, Amy Spivey.

Jeff states: Before I continue with Amy, I must say that the overwhelming majority of taxpayers file returns and make tax payments timely and accurately. As such taxpayers have a right to expect fair and efficient tax administration from the IRS, including verification that taxes are correctly reported and paid with enforcement actions against those who fail to comply voluntarily.

Jeff says: And so if your tax returns are selected for examination you should contact the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn. We will provide you with a Tax Resolution Plan which is a $500.00 value for free as long as you mention Mr. Credit when you call to make an appointment. The number to call is 866.494.6829. That is 866.494.6829.

Four Ways That Returns Are Selected for Examination

So Amy, I understand that there are four main ways that the IRS selects returns for examination. I will read off each one and let you tell our audience more.

1. Potential participants in abusive tax avoidance transactions — Some returns are selected based on information obtained by the IRS through efforts to identify promoters and participants of abusive tax avoidance transactions. Examples include information received from “John Doe” summonses issued to foreign and domestic banks, credit card companies, businesses and participant lists from promoters ordered by the courts to be turned over to the IRS.

2. Computer Scoring — Some returns are selected for examination on the basis of computer scoring.  Computer programs give each return numeric “scores”. The Discriminant Function System (DIF) score rates the potential for change, based on past IRS experience with similar returns. The Unreported Income DIF (UIDIF) score rates the return for the potential of unreported income. IRS personnel screen the highest-scoring returns, selecting some for audit and identifying the items on these returns that are most likely to need review.

3. Information Matching — Some returns are examined because payer reports, such as Forms W-2 from employers or Form 1099 interest statements from banks, do not match the income reported on the tax return.

4. Related Examinations — Returns may be selected for audit when they involve issues or transactions with other taxpayers, such as business partners or investors, whose returns were selected for examination.

Now Amy, how does one find out if the IRS does select your tax return for examination?

Amy states: This is where one must be careful because there are scammers out there who are calling people saying they are the IRS and threatening them with arrest and deportation unless they pay right away. If you are selected for an audit by the IRS, the initial contact will always be in the form of a letter sent by the assigned agent under official IRS letterhead.

Jeff asks: And what do these letters typically say?

Amy states: First it will give you the contact information of the agent and what IRS office the agent reports to.

Second it will tell you how the examination is to be conducted – this can be by mail, or through an in-person interview and review of the taxpayer’s records at the agent’s office or outside the agent’s office such as the taxpayer’s business.

Third it will tell you which years are being audited and what records will be needed. Taxpayers may act on their own behalf or have a tax professional represent or accompany them.

Jeff says: And that is where we come in. We highly recommend that you do not go into the IRS on your own. The Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn will provide you with a Tax Resolution Plan which is a $500.00 value for free as long as you mention Mr. Credit when you call to make an appointment. The number to call is 866.494.6829. That is 866.494.6829.

 

Stay tuned because after the break we are going to tell more about how the IRS is matching Big Data to your tax return and selecting you for audit.

You are listening to Jeffrey Kahn the principal tax attorney of the kahntaxlaw team on the Mr. Credit show.

BREAK

Welcome back! You are listening to Jeffrey Kahn the principal tax attorney of the kahntaxlaw team.

An on the phone from our San Francisco office I have my associate attorney, Amy Spivey.

How the IRS is matching Big Data to your tax return and selecting you for audit.

Jeff states: According to IRS estimates, in a calendar year employers, businesses, financial institutions, credit card companies and other third party payers will file 2.3 billion information statements. These information statements report income and financial transactions, and can help individuals and businesses prepare accurate tax returns. Using information-matching programs, the IRS compares third-party information statements with taxpayer data, and sends a notice to taxpayers when IRS systems detect inconsistencies.

Amy, please tell us how several of these programs work.

Individual Automated Underreporter (AUR) program

This matching program is better known by its primary notice: CP2000, Notice of Proposed Adjustment for Underpayment/Overpayment. IRS systems automatically send this notice when items reported on Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, don’t match information reported to the IRS by employers and other payers. The first round of these notices arrives just after Thanksgiving, and the second round arrives toward the end of the next year’s filing season.

The CP2000 notice has been a mainstay of IRS information reporting for decades. In 2012, the IRS issued more than 4.5 million CP2000 notices, with an average of $1,572 in additional taxes owed.

So Amy, what other matching programs has the IRS employed?

Form 1099-K merchant card transaction matching program

In 2012, the IRS started receiving from credit card companies, Forms 1099-K, Payment Card and Third Party Network Transactions. With merchant card transactions now being reported to IRS, the IRS quickly began using this information to match against business returns. However, because businesses do not specifically report merchant card transactions as separate line items on business tax returns, the IRS can only infer potential underreporting.

Jeff asks: Amy could you clarify for our listeners what this means?

Amy states: For example, if a business has a disproportionate amount of cash to credit/debit card sales, based on its line of business, the IRS may look closer. These kinds of mismatches have led the IRS to develop compliance initiatives, including “soft” notices requesting explanation and mail audits requesting documentation.

The IRS is developing a Form 1099-K matching initiative that will make the IRS more efficient in identifying problem tax returns. But for now many initial notices indicate that the IRS is focusing on underreporting cases in which merchant card payments appear to make up the majority or even exceed the total business receipts reported on the return. In these cases, the IRS perceives that the business is underreporting cash sales due to the disproportionate share of merchant card payments. Accrual-basis taxpayers and e-commerce businesses whose receipts do not neatly match merchant card transactions are likely early targets in this program and we have had our share of this cases where that is what happened.

Jeff says: So if you receive one of these notices it is important that you don’t ignore it. We have a special offer for our Mr. Credit listeners. The Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn will provide you with a Tax Resolution Plan which is a $500.00 value for free as long as you mention Mr. Credit when you call to make an appointment. Call our office to make an appointment to meet with me, Jeffrey Kahn, right here in downtown San Diego. The number to call is 866.494.6829. That is 866.494.6829.

Jeff asks: Amy what type of matching does the IRS do where a tax return does not get filed?

Amy replies:

Automated Substitute for Return program

When a taxpayer does not file and the IRS has information statements indicating a filing requirement, the IRS uses the data to file a return on behalf of the taxpayer if there is a projected balance owed. In 2012, the IRS used information statements to file 803,000 returns for taxpayers, totaling $6.7 billion in additional taxes owed. And the sad thing about this is in just about every case, the amount actually owed when a tax return is filed by the taxpayer is much lower than what the IRS says a non-filer taxpayer owes. We have cases where the IRS ended up owing our clients money.

Jeff asks: Amy, where in the future is the IRS going with their use of Big Data?

Amy replies: The IRS has been getting a lot of help from Congress where Congress has expanded the IRS’ reach to access more information to enforce compliance and implement new legislation.

Jeff asks: And I bet that you have some examples of new powers enacted by Congress that have been bestowed on the IRS.

Amy replies:

1. FATCA – Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

This legislation became law in 2010. Starting in 2014, the IRS will have the ability to match taxpayers’ returns against the information it receives on U.S. taxpayers with accounts at foreign financial institutions. The IRS will likely scrutinize taxpayers who have not filed the required Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, or FinCen Form 114, Report Of Foreign Bank Account (commonly known as “FBAR”). Our office has a lot of cases representing taxpayers with undisclosed foreign bank accounts – it is a hot issue with IRS.

2. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obama Care”)

As this Act is implemented in the next several years, the IRS will start using information statements for individual and employer compliance with the Act’s mandates. Starting in 2012, employers reported the value of employer-provided health insurance on Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, to inform taxpayers of the value of their health insurance coverage. In 2015, the IRS will also receive information from health insurance companies on employee coverage, including the name and identifying information of the employer. The IRS can use the information to identify and penalize individuals and employers for noncompliance with Obama Care mandates.

Jeff states: A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office study showed that the IRS spends $267 million on underreporter matching programs, compared with the $4.2 billion it spends on audits. But automated information-matching programs return almost six times more revenue than audits. You can see why with fewer IRS agents and reduced budgets, the IRS will increasingly rely on technology-driven matching programs to bring in more tax dollars.

Jeff says: And so we have a special offer for our Mr. Credit listeners. The Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn will provide you with a Tax Resolution Plan which is a $500.00 value for free as long as you mention Mr. Credit when you call to make an appointment. Call our office to make an appointment to meet Jeffrey Kahn right here in downtown San Diego. The number to call is 866.494.6829. That is 866.494.6829.

Stay tuned as we will be taking some of your questions. You are listening to Jeffrey Kahn the principal tax attorney of the kahntaxlaw team.

BREAK

Welcome back. You are listening to Jeffrey Kahn the principal tax attorney of the kahntaxlaw team along with my associate attorney, Amy Spivey.

OK Amy, what questions have you pulled from the Mr. Credit and kahntaxlaw inboxes for me to answer?

Is It True That Taxpayers with Legal Counsel are Treated Better By The IRS?

It’s unfair, even illegal, but it’s also human nature. IRS agents are flesh and blood and if they can get away with bullying someone into their interpretation of the law, they probably will. A tax lawyer can ensure the IRS is playing by the rules and treating you fairly. IRS investigators are much more careful about asking inappropriate questions or wasting your time with unnecessary requirements, if they know they are dealing with a tax attorney.

But Will An IRS Agent Get Upset With You For Hiring A Tax Attorney?

The good ones prefer dealing with tax professionals because they don’t have to waste their time and patience explaining you the ABCs of a tax audit or the basic IRS guidelines for a criminal investigation. In fact, hiring an experienced tax attorney is generally seen as a sign of good faith to resolve your tax issues and the IRS’s own Declaration of Taxpayer Rights encourages taxpayers to hire tax counsel.

Remember, the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn will provide you with a Tax Resolution Plan which is a $500.00 value for free as long as you mention Mr. Credit when you call to make an appointment. The number to call is 866.494.6829. You will then be meeting with me, your Board Certified Tax Attorney, right here in downtown San Diego. Again the number is 866.494.6829.

Thanks Amy for calling into the show. Amy says Thanks for having me.

Well we are reaching the end of our show.

Keep sending us your questions. Please let Mr. Credit know how you liked the show by going to the Mr. Credit website or our website at www.kahntaxlaw.com. That’s k-a-h-n tax law.com.

Have a great day filled with smart decisions!

 

The IRS And Big Data.

With another tax filing and estimated tax payment deadline coming up, you may have spent the last few days thinking hard about your taxes, but the IRS has been doing so for years – positioning itself as a leader in using Big Data.

Each year, April 15th is a memorable date for those of us in the United States – this is the deadline to file our taxes or to file an extension to delay filing a tax return to October 15th.

It is clear that the IRS is the dominant government agency in the United States. After all if there are no taxes, there can be no government. Politicians know this and over the decades have ensured that the IRS has all the powers it needs to raise federal taxes from the citizens, residents, and even tourists who stay long enough in the United States.

U.S. citizens cannot even escape U.S taxation by leaving the country because the tax law requires U.S. citizens who currently earn more than $9,750 to file even if they don’t live in the country. Even if you renounce your citizenship, as 3,805 did in 2011, you still have to pay an exit tax of 15% on all your assets including investments, homes, and even your personal possessions.

Extensive data collection

To keep track of this, 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 the IRS is not stopping here. The IRS has signed a $650 million ten-year contract with Unisys to further develop Big Transaction Processing Data whereby the IRS is using Unisys ClearPath Dorado Servers running at an estimated 1,200 MIPS to process tax returns.

For those of you who are not techies, “MIPS” is a measure of a computer’s central processing unit performance and its stands for “Million Instructions Per Second”. These servers will reside selected IRS Data Centers alongside several IBM z/196 mainframes, capable of running at an estimated 8,000 MIPS. Along with all this processing power are extensive data storage capabilities which will be managed in the IRS’ private cloud. It is estimated that IRS has 7.5 Petabytes of data. By the way just one Petabyte is equivalent to 1 quadrillion bytes.

Data from social media

But the IRS is not just stopping with Big Data Transactions, the IRS is now pursuing Big Data Social Media Analytics just like Google.

But unlike the normal corporate big data analytics, the IRS has one big advantage: It knows everyone’s social security numbers, as well as all the tax information from the firms we as taxpayers interact with, and as such the IRS can join the dots between Google, EBay, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, and perhaps your PayPal and credit card accounts along with your emails to overseas bankers.

The IRS has access to every social media posting going back to 2008 so deleting your posts does not make them go away.  The IRS has bragged that their computer can make DNA blueprint of each of our behaviors. Amazingly, the IRS’ supercomputer can read all 200 million e-Filed returns in just ten hours!

All this will allow the IRS to refine its algorithms to more effectively identity those taxpayers to be selected for audit or investigation.

So while none of us enjoys doing or paying our taxes we as taxpayers can be comforted by knowing that the government is at the forefront of the big data revolution. And despite the use of these new technology skills to make the government itself more efficient, there are still two certain things in life – death and taxes!

Protect yourself from excessive fines and possible jail time. Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and elsewhere in California defend you from the IRS.

Description: Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. resolve your IRS tax problems and minimize the chance of any criminal investigation or imposition of civil penalties.

How The IRS Selects Returns For Examination.

I must say that the overwhelming majority of taxpayers file returns and make tax payments timely and accurately. As such taxpayers have a right to expect fair and efficient tax administration from the IRS, including verification that taxes are correctly reported and paid with enforcement actions against those who fail to comply voluntarily.

Four Ways That Returns Are Selected for Examination

1. Potential participants in abusive tax avoidance transactions — Some returns are selected based on information obtained by the IRS through efforts to identify promoters and participants of abusive tax avoidance transactions. Examples include information received from “John Doe” summonses issued to foreign and domestic banks, credit card companies, businesses and participant lists from promoters ordered by the courts to be turned over to the IRS.

2. Computer Scoring — Some returns are selected for examination on the basis of computer scoring.  Computer programs give each return numeric “scores”. The Discriminant Function System (DIF) score rates the potential for change, based on past IRS experience with similar returns. The Unreported Income DIF (UIDIF) score rates the return for the potential of unreported income. IRS personnel screen the highest-scoring returns, selecting some for audit and identifying the items on these returns that are most likely to need review.

3. Information Matching — Some returns are examined because payer reports, such as Forms W-2 from employers or Form 1099 interest statements from banks, do not match the income reported on the tax return.

4. Related Examinations — Returns may be selected for audit when they involve issues or transactions with other taxpayers, such as business partners or investors, whose returns were selected for examination.

How Does One Find Out If The IRS Does Select Your Tax Return For Examination?

This is where one must be careful because there are scammers out there who are calling people saying they are the IRS and threatening them with arrest and deportation unless they pay right away. If you are selected for an audit by the IRS, the initial contact will always be in the form of a letter sent by the assigned agent under official IRS letterhead.

Look for the following in the IRS Notice:

First, it will give you the contact information of the agent and what IRS office the agent reports to.

Second, it will tell you how the examination is to be conducted – this can be by mail, or through an in-person interview and review of the taxpayer’s records at the agent’s office or outside the agent’s office such as the taxpayer’s business.

Third, it will tell you which years are being audited and what records will be needed. Taxpayers may act on their own behalf or have a tax professional represent or accompany them. 

And that is where we come in. We highly recommend that you do not go into the IRS on your own. Protect yourself from excessive fines and possible jail time. Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and elsewhere in California defend you from the IRS.

Description: Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. resolve your IRS tax problems and minimize the chance of any criminal investigation or imposition of civil penalties.

How The IRS Is Matching Big Data To Your Tax Return And Selecting You For Audit.

According to IRS estimates, in a calendar year employers, businesses, financial institutions, credit card companies and other third party payers will file 2.3 billion information statements. These information statements report income and financial transactions, and can help individuals and businesses prepare accurate tax returns. Using information-matching programs, the IRS compares third-party information statements with taxpayer data, and sends a notice to taxpayers when IRS systems detect inconsistencies.

Here are some of the programs IRS has in place to help select tax returns for audit:

Individual Automated Underreporter (AUR) program

This matching program is better known by its primary notice: CP2000, Notice of Proposed Adjustment for Underpayment/Overpayment. IRS systems automatically send this notice when items reported on Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, don’t match information reported to the IRS by employers and other payers. The first round of these notices arrives just after Thanksgiving, and the second round arrives toward the end of the next year’s filing season.

The CP2000 notice has been a mainstay of IRS information reporting for decades. In 2012, the IRS issued more than 4.5 million CP2000 notices, with an average of $1,572 in additional taxes owed.

Form 1099-K merchant card transaction matching program

In 2012, the IRS started receiving from credit card companies, Forms 1099-K, Payment Card and Third Party Network Transactions. With merchant card transactions now being reported to IRS, the IRS quickly began using this information to match against business returns. However, because businesses do not specifically report merchant card transactions as separate line items on business tax returns, the IRS can only infer potential underreporting. For example, if a business has a disproportionate amount of cash to credit/debit card sales, based on its line of business, the IRS may look closer. These kinds of mismatches have led the IRS to develop compliance initiatives, including “soft” notices requesting explanation and mail audits requesting documentation.

The IRS is developing a Form 1099-K matching initiative that will make the IRS more efficient in identifying problem tax returns. But for now many initial notices indicate that the IRS is focusing on underreporting cases in which merchant card payments appear to make up the majority or even exceed the total business receipts reported on the return. In these cases, the IRS perceives that the business is underreporting cash sales due to the disproportionate share of merchant card payments. Accrual-basis taxpayers and e-commerce businesses whose receipts do not neatly match merchant card transactions are likely early targets in this program and we have had our share of this cases where that is what happened.

Automated Substitute for Return program

When a taxpayer does not file and the IRS has information statements indicating a filing requirement, the IRS uses the data to file a return on behalf of the taxpayer if there is a projected balance owed. In 2012, the IRS used information statements to file 803,000 returns for taxpayers, totaling $6.7 billion in additional taxes owed. And the sad thing about this is in just about every case, the amount actually owed when a tax return is filed by the taxpayer is much lower than what the IRS says a non-filer taxpayer owes. We even had cases where the IRS ended up owing our clients money.

Where in the future is the IRS going with their use of Big Data?

The IRS has been getting a lot of help from Congress where Congress has expanded the IRS’ reach to access more information to enforce compliance and implement new legislation.

1. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”)

This legislation became law in 2010. Starting in 2014, the IRS will have the ability to match taxpayers’ returns against the information it receives on U.S. taxpayers with accounts at foreign financial institutions. The IRS will likely scrutinize taxpayers who have not filed the required Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, or FinCEN Form 114, Report Of Foreign Bank Account (commonly known as “FBAR”). Our office has a lot of cases representing taxpayers with undisclosed foreign bank accounts – it is a hot issue with IRS.

2. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obama Care”)

As this Act is implemented in the next several years, the IRS will start using information statements for individual and employer compliance with the Act’s mandates. Starting in 2012, employers reported the value of employer-provided health insurance on Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, to inform taxpayers of the value of their health insurance coverage. In 2015, the IRS will also receive information from health insurance companies on employee coverage, including the name and identifying information of the employer. The IRS can use the information to identify and penalize individuals and employers for noncompliance with Obama Care mandates.

The Stakes Are High!

A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office study showed that the IRS spends $267 million on underreporter matching programs, compared with the $4.2 billion it spends on audits. But automated information-matching programs return almost six times more revenue than audits. You can see why with fewer IRS agents and reduced budgets, the IRS will increasingly rely on technology-driven matching programs to bring in more tax dollars.

So if you receive one of these audit notices it is important that you don’t ignore it. Protect yourself from excessive fines and possible jail time. Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and elsewhere in California defend you from the IRS.

Description: Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. resolve your IRS tax problems and minimize the chance of any criminal investigation or imposition of civil penalties.

Beware Of The Dark Side – Protecting Yourself From The IRS

A Gallup Poll released in April 2014 found that two-thirds of Americans believe that the Internal Revenue Service abuses its power. Yet few people realize exactly how much arbitrary power the IRS has through the Courts and the Laws of the United States.

Remember that the IRS like any government agency has a purpose to enforce the laws and like other government agencies the IRS will use all means available to achieve this purpose. For one thing the IRS will conduct undercover operations sometimes even masquerade as professionals to entice other citizens to violate tax laws.

The most common and for many people most cartographic use of power by the IRS is levying bank accounts, paychecks and other sources of income. Unlike a typical creditor, the IRS is able to do this without having to hire an attorney and for the most part does not even require a person to initiate this action. Instead it is the IRS computers that scour taxpayers’ accounts and when seeing that there is an outstanding balance sending out those dreaded Notices of Levy. What is even more tragic is that many times the amount that the IRS is seeking to collect is more than what the taxpayer should actually owe.

Take, for example, the case of Melvin Powers. In 1983 the IRS decided to investigate Mr. Powers’ 1978 and 1979 tax returns. Mr. Powers was a Houston builder and owner of five office buildings; he had only an eighth-grade education. The IRS had made no effort to examine Mr. Powers’ tax returns during the three years of the statute of limitations. Six weeks before the statute was to expire, an IRS agent asked Mr. Powers to sign a waiver of his statute of limitations, allowing the IRS to investigate him for another three years. Mr. Powers willingly agreed. In 1986, the IRS disallowed almost all of Mr. Powers’ business deductions for 1978 and 1979 and demanded $7,145,266.71 in back taxes, interest and penalties.

Shortly after the IRS’s assessment, a bankruptcy court trustee seized all of Mr. Powers’ operations, caused Mr. Powers to vacate his office premises, and took possession of his books and records for all years. Then, in early 1991, the IRS reversed itself and conceded that Mr. Powers actually had legitimate losses for the years under scrutiny and thus owed no taxes for those years. After IRS officials canceled the $7 million tax bill, Mr. Powers successfully sued the IRS to cover his legal costs for the case but it was already way too late as the IRS had devastated his life.

Another amazing position that the IRS maintains is that the IRS is entitled to impose penalties or seize property for overdue taxes even after the agency admits sending tax deficiency notices to the wrong address.

Take for example the case of Clayton and Darlene Powell. In late 1987 the Powell’s moved from Adelphi, MD, to Mitchellville, MD, and filed a tax return with their new address in early 1988. A few weeks after the IRS received the Powell’s’ new address, the agency sent a notice of deficiency for their 1984 tax return to their old address. The local post office — though it had the forwarding address — returned the notice to the IRS. Though the three-year statute of limitations had expired on the Powell’s 1984 return, on Dec. 28, 1988, the IRS sent a tax bill to their new address giving the couple 10 days to pay $6,864 in back taxes, interest and penalties or have their property seized. The Powell’s paid and then sued the IRS to get a refund.

The Federal Appeals Court ruled that “the Powell’s are entirely innocent” and ordered the IRS to issue a refund. The IRS then appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, contending that as long as the IRS mailed a tax deficiency notice to a taxpayer’s “last known address”, the taxpayer must be presumed to have received the notice — even when it is indisputable that he did not receive it.

The Justice Department, in its brief on this case, noted that the IRS “issues more than 2 million notices of deficiency each year and approximately 240,000 of those notices were returned undelivered during the past year.” The Justice Department whined that requiring the IRS to actually notify citizens of tax assessments before final seizure notices would impose “unmanageable detective burdens” on the IRS. The government went on to say that “This case threatens to create a ‘window of time’ during which the Internal Revenue Service may be helpless to protect its rights in pursuing delinquent taxpayers”.

The Supreme Court denied the government’s request to re-examine the Powell case. Yet even though the IRS lost in Federal Appeals Court on this issue and paid back the Powell’s, the agency has formally chosen to disregard that court’s verdict — to follow a policy of “nonacquiescence,” in legal terms. The IRS believes the court made a mistake and thus that the agency has no obligation to respect its decision.

So what is one to do when it is the IRS’ perspective that the citizen has an unlimited obligation to comply with its demands — even when the IRS fails to inform the citizen of its demands? You need to hire an experienced and local tax attorney who is accountable to you and will act in your best interest to defend you from the IRS and get an acceptable resolution. Having experienced tax counsel will level the playing field and take the IRS out of the driver’s seat.

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 Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco 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.

Description: Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. resolve your IRS tax problems to allow you to have a fresh start.

Time Is Ticking – After August 3, 2014 OVDP Penalty Set To Increase To 50% For Certain U.S. Taxpayers.

IRS Sends Signal Out That It Is Ready To Enforce The Tax Disclosure Laws For Foreign Accounts And Foreign Income Of U.S. Taxpayers With Swiss Bank Accounts.

If you have non-declared bank accounts with Swiss banks, or if you acted as signatory on such accounts, you should start to qualify for the 2014 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) as soon as possible, otherwise you risk that your own Swiss bank will report you to the IRS before you can file your own self-­declaration with the IRS. It can be too late to benefit from OVDP if you remain passive.

The 2014 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) is a voluntary disclosure program specifically designed for taxpayers with exposure to potential criminal liability and/or substantial civil penalties due to a willful failure to report foreign financial assets and pay all tax due in respect of those assets.  OVDP is designed to provide to taxpayers with such exposure (1) protection from criminal liability and (2) terms for resolving their civil tax and penalty obligations.

OVDP requires that taxpayers:

  • File 8 years of back tax returns reflecting unreported foreign source income;

  • File 8 years of back FBAR’s reporting the foreign financial accounts;

  • Calculate interest each year on unpaid tax;

  • Apply a 20% accuracy-related penalty under Code Sec. 6662 or a 25% delinquency penalty under Code Sec. 6651; and

  • Apply up to a 27.5% penalty based upon the highest balance of the account in the past eight years. This is referred to as the “OVDP Penalty”.

In return for entering the offshore voluntary disclosure program, the IRS has agreed not to pursue:

  • Charges of criminal tax evasion which would have resulted in jail time or a felony on your record; and

  • Other fraud and filing penalties including IRC Sec. 6663 fraud penalties (75% of the unpaid tax) and failure to file a TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report, (FBAR) (the greater of $100,000 or 50% of the foreign account balance).

Important Change to Offshore Program Announced By IRS on June 18, 2014 setting Important deadline of August 3, 2014.

Beware of the August 3rd deadline, if your undisclosed foreign bank account is with any of the following institutions:

1. UBS AG

2. Credit Suisse AG, Credit Suisse Fides, and Clariden Leu Ltd.

3. Wegelin & Co.

4. Liechtensteinische Landesbank AG

5. Zurcher Kantonalbank

6. Swisspartners Investment Network AG, Swisspartners Wealth Management AG, Swisspartners Insurance Company SPC Ltd., and Swisspartners Versicherung AG

7. CIBC First Caribbean International Bank Limited, its predecessors, subsidiaries, and affiliates

8. Stanford International Bank, Ltd., Stanford Group Company, and Stanford Trust Company, Ltd.

9. The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited in India (HSBC India)

10. The Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Limited (also known as Butterfield Bank and Bank of Butterfield), its predecessors, subsidiaries, and affiliates

These institutions are under investigation by the IRS or Department of Justice and therefore on the IRS’ “Bank And Promoter List”. For anyone who submits OVDP pre-clearance request after August 3, 2014, the OVDP penalty for their case shall be increased from 27.5% to 50%. It is key that to avoid this increase you must submit your OVDP pre-clearance request no later than August 3, 2014.

Of course, the IRS may add names to that list at any time, and whole groups of taxpayers will then be cut-off from OVDP without prior notice. The same goes for taxpayers who worked with a “facilitator” who helped the taxpayer establish or maintain an offshore arrangement if the facilitator has been publicly identified as being under investigation or as cooperating with a government investigation.

Important Signal From IRS That Enforcement Is Imminent.

The IRS has been receiving information from these institutions that go beyond just the names of U.S. taxpayers and their account information but also what communications occurred between these taxpayers and officials at these institutions. These communications could likely support the IRS taking a position that non-compliant taxpayers it catches acted willfully and should now be subject to the maximum civil penalties and perhaps referred for criminal prosecution. If the IRS was not in this position, they would have never announced on June 18, 2014 of an increase in the OVDP penalty rate to 50% for all new OVDP submissions made after August 3, 2014 that involve the banks listed above.

What Should You Do?

In case you are a U.S. person and you have such an account you should contact your Swiss bank and clarify what the Swiss bank plans are. Some Swiss banks are freezing bank accounts in order to have enough assets from their clients to cover and compensate a hard financial punishment from the IRS. This is illegal but the Swiss banks know that a U.S. client having undisclosed funds will never initiate a legal procedure against his bank if that U.S. client is to remain non-compliant with the IRS. That U.S. client knows the risk to be discovered in case of a claim before court is simply too high.

If you want to qualify for OVDP it is in your best interest to speed up the procedure and disclose the account to the IRS before the Swiss bank will report your account to the IRS. If you are slow to act, you risk notbeing accepted for OVDP. In such a situation you cannot benefit anymore from the advantage of having disclosed yourself to the IRS. You risk a criminal prosecution and by then, it will be too late to avoid the new higher penalties under OVDP of 50% percent – nearly double the regular maximum rate of 27.5%.

Recent closure and liquidation of foreign accounts will not remove your exposure for non-disclosure as the IRS will be securing bank information for the last eight years. Additionally, as a result of the account closure and distribution of funds being reported in normal banking channels, this will elevate your chances of being selected for investigation by the IRS. For those taxpayers who have submitted delinquent FBAR’s and amended tax returns without applying for amnesty (referred to as a “quiet disclosure”), the IRS has blocked the processing of these returns and flagged these taxpayers for further investigation. You should also expect that the IRS will use such conduct to show willfulness by the taxpayer to justify the maximum punishment.

Don’t let another deadline slip by! If you have never reported your foreign investments on your U.S. Tax Returns or even if you have already quietly disclosed or in 2012 OVDI, you should seriously consider participating in the IRS’s 2014 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”). Once the IRS contacts you, you cannot get into this program and would be subject to the maximum penalties (civil and criminal) under the tax law. 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.

Protect yourself from excessive fines and possible jail time. Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and elsewhere in California qualify you for OVDP.

Description: Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. 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.

Have An Undisclosed Foreign Bank Account? You May Owe The IRS $10,000!

Do you have any money or assets outside the U.S.? Seems like a pretty straightforward question, doesn’t it? Well, a lot of people are surprised to learn that they do have offshore funds. And if they don’t file a certain form with the U.S. Treasury Department by June 30, the minimum late fee is $10,000.

The form in question is known as the FBAR – Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. Starting in 2014, there is a new, mandatory online version of the form – FinCEN Form 114. It is filed directly through a website maintained by the U.S. Treasury. The 2013 Form was due June 30, 2014.  The purpose of this reporting document is to give the U.S. Treasury Department specific information about all financial accounts that Americans control, worldwide. The idea is to ensure that people are not hiding money offshore and thus not reporting it on their U.S. income tax returns.

Who needs to file this form?

United States persons who have a financial interest in or signature authority over at least one financial account located outside of the United States; and

People for whom the aggregate value of all foreign financial accounts exceeded $10,000 at any time during the calendar year to be reported.

There are two more conditions that go with this form.

At the bottom of your Form 1040 Schedule B (where you report dividends and interest), there are two checkboxes. You must check YES, if you are required to file the FBAR. Checking NO can result in that $10,000 fine.

You must report the earnings on all those overseas accounts – however small the earnings are.

This seems pretty clear, right? So what’s the problem? Where’s the confusion? It all stems from the Federal government’s requirement that you have a “financial interest in or signature authority” over a foreign bank account.

This is what gets innocent people caught in the penalty trap.

In fact, did you know that there’s a second form you may have to file if you have assets or accounts overseas? It is Form 8938 which under the Foreign Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is included with your Form 1040 for tax years starting 2011. You file this if your overseas accounts and/or assets exceed certain limits – $50,000 on the last day of the tax year or $75,000 at any time during the tax year (higher threshold amounts apply to married individuals filing jointly and individuals living abroad).

Common Situations That Will Trigger The $10,000.00 Penalty

Your elderly parents in India set you up with the authority to sign on their bank account(s) in case of illness. You meet both definitions (above) – even if you never use the account and don’t think of it as yours and forgot you ever got this power from your parent(s). Result: IRS will assert a $10,000 penalty.

There’s an inheritance from your aunt in the U.K. The estate attorney controls it all until the details are worked out. But the assets and funds are in trust for you. You didn’t include the earnings on your tax return and you didn’t file the FBAR.  Result: IRS will assert a $10,000 penalty.

Your family members in the Philippines set up a bank account in your daughter’s name the day she was born. Your parents and other relatives have been adding to it ever since. By age 16, there’s over $100,000 in it. You forgot about it and didn’t know how much money was in the account. You haven’t picked up the income as kiddie-tax on your return and you didn’t file the FBAR. Result: Minimum $10,000 penalty and since the balance in the account is over $100,000, the penalty could rise to 50% of the account value per year after the reporting is caught up.

You have pension accounts in Germany that you won’t be touching until you retire; they might include Social Security-like accounts you didn’t realize were not taxable or foreign-issued life insurance policies with a cash value.  If the aggregate value of the accounts at any time during the calendar year exceeded $10,000 and you did not file the FBAR, the IRS will be asserting a penalty of $10,000 per undisclosed account!

What Should You Do?

We encourage taxpayers who are concerned about their undisclosed offshore accounts to come in voluntarily before learning that the U.S. is investigating the bank or banks where they hold accounts. By then, it will be too late to avoid the new higher penalties under the OVDP of 50% percent – nearly double the regular maximum rate of 27.5%.

Don’t let another deadline slip by. If you have never reported your foreign investments on your U.S. Tax Returns or even if you have already quietly disclosed or you are in the 2012 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (“OVDI”), you should seriously consider participating in the IRS’s 2014 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”). Once the IRS contacts you, you cannot get into this program and would be subject to the maximum penalties (civil and criminal) under the tax law. 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.

Protect yourself from excessive fines and possible jail time. Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and elsewhere in California qualify you for OVDP.

Description: Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. 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.