Why You Don’t Mess With California – A Primer On California Tax Collection Actions

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

California is unique in the structure of its tax system. Most States operate under a single tax agency. The Federal government uses a single tax agency called the IRS. But California has three tax agencies! They are the Franchise Tax Board (“FTB”), California Department Of Tax And Fee Administration (“CDTFA”) and the Employment Development Department (“EDD”).

What does FTB cover?

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

What does CDTFA cover?

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

What does EDD cover?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Temporary Cannabis Tax Reduction Bill California cannabis

California Cannabis Tax Relief Coming? Check Out Assembly Bill 286 – the Temporary Cannabis Tax Reduction Bill.

A bill was just re-introduced in the California legislature that would give legal cannabis businesses a tax break to help them thrive and level the playing field with cannabis businesses that continue to operate in the grey and black markets.

Assembly Bill 286 Was First Introduced February 16, 2018

The proposed legislation, which is sponsored by state Treasurer Fiona Ma, follows California’s tax revenue for the cannabis industry coming in $101 million below projections in the first six months of 2018.

This bill which has been kicked around Sacramento for almost a year would wind up reducing the state’s excise tax from 15% to 11% for a period of three years and remove the cultivation tax on growers until 2022. The full text of the Temporary Cannabis Tax Reduction Bill can be viewed here.

Even though 31 states have legalized cannabis for medical or adult use, banks and financial institutions are hesitant to provide services to cannabis businesses because federal law still classifies cannabis as an illegal Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

Higher Federal Taxes Still Remain

While the developments listed above are favorable for California cannabis business, it still remains to be seen when favorable changes will be made to the Internal Revenue Code which treats businesses in the marijuana industry differently resulting in such business paying at least 3-times as much in taxes as ordinary businesses.

Generally, businesses can deduct ordinary and necessary business expenses under I.R.C. §162. This includes wages, rent, supplies, etc. However, in 1982 Congress added I.R.C. §280E. Under §280E, taxpayers cannot deduct any amount for a trade or business where the trade or business consists of trafficking in controlled substances…which is prohibited by Federal law. Marijuana, including medical marijuana, is a controlled substance. What this means is that dispensaries and other businesses trafficking in marijuana have to report all of their income and cannot deduct rent, wages, and other expenses, making their marginal tax rate substantially higher than most other businesses.

Federal Reporting Of Cash Payments Still Remain

The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 (“BSA”) requires financial institutions in the United States to assist U.S. government agencies to detect and prevent money laundering. Specifically, the act requires financial institutions to keep records of cash purchases of negotiable instruments, and file reports of cash purchases of these negotiable instruments of more than $10,000 (daily aggregate amount), and to report suspicious activity that might signify money laundering, tax evasion, or other criminal activities. The BSA requires any business receiving one or more related cash payments totaling more than $10,000 to file IRS Form 8300, Report of Cash Payments Over $10,000 Received in a Trade or Business.

The minimum penalty for failing to file EACH Form 8300 is $25,000 if the failure is due to an intentional or willful disregard of the cash reporting requirements. Penalties may also be imposed for causing, or attempting to cause, a trade or business to fail to file a required report; for causing, or attempting to cause, a trade or business to file a required report containing a material omission or misstatement of fact; or for structuring, or attempting to structure, transactions to avoid the reporting requirements. These violations may also be subject to criminal prosecution which, upon conviction, may result in imprisonment of up to 5 years or fines of up to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations or both.

Marijuana-related businesses operate in an environment of cash transactions as many banks remain reluctant to do business with many in the marijuana industry. Like any cash-based business the IRS scrutinizes the amount of gross receipts to report and it is harder to prove to the IRS expenses paid in cash. So it is of most importance that the proper facilities and procedures be set up to maintain an adequate system of books and records.

How Do You Know Which Cannabis Tax Attorney Is Best For You?

Given that cannabis is still illegal under existing Federal law you need to protect yourself and your marijuana business from all challenges created by the U.S. government.  While cannabis is legal in California, that is not enough to protect you.  It’s coming down that the biggest risk is TAXES.  Be proactive and engage an experienced Cannabis Tax Attorney in your area. Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County, Inland Empire (Ontario and Palm Springs) and other California locations protect you and maximize your net profits.

Why Taxpayers Involved In Offshore Accounts, Crypto Currency Or Cannabis Should Be Filing An Extension For Their 2017 Income Tax Returns

California Sets Online Sales Tax Enforcement Date

California Sets Online Sales Tax Enforcement Date

On June 21, 2018 the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its anticipated decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, No. 17-494. The case challenges South Dakota’s application of its sales tax to internet retailers who sell into South Dakota but have no property or employees in the state. At issue is the case Quill Corp. v. North Dakota from 1992, which set the property or employees standard for sales taxes using the Court’s (debated) dormant commerce clause power to restrict state taxation of interstate commerce.

The Court laid out why South Dakota’s law is no burden to interstate commerce but made clear that more complex or overreaching laws would be. This was not too surprising, as during oral argument the justices expressed such frustration with the issue that it’s easy to see why they wouldn’t want this to be just the first of many cases. Better to articulate the rule well here.

Justice Kennedy’s opinion states:

That said, South Dakota’s tax system includes several features that appear designed to prevent discrimination against or undue burdens upon interstate commerce. First, the Act applies a safe harbor to those who transact only limited business in South Dakota. Second, the Act ensures that no obligation to remit the sales tax may be applied retroactively. S. B. 106, §5. Third, South Dakota is one of more than 20 States that have adopted the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. This system standardizes taxes to reduce administrative and compliance costs: It requires a single, state-level tax administration, uniform definitions of products and services, simplified tax rate structures, and other uniform rules. It also provides sellers access to sales tax administration software paid for by the State. Sellers who choose to use such software are immune from audit liability. See App. 26–27. Any remaining claims regarding the application of the Commerce Clause in the absence of Quill and Bellas Hess may be addressed in the first instance on remand.”

State Taxation

Thirty-one states currently have laws taxing internet sales. Traditionally, sales tax nexus in the United States was based on physical presence. To increase sales tax collections despite this physical presence restriction, many states broadened their definitions of physical presence to include click-through, or affiliate, nexus. An out-of-state business establishes click-through nexus in a state when an in-state business receives a commission for referring a certain amount of sales to the out-of-state seller, as through a website link (“clicking through”). New York was the first state to create a click-through nexus law, in 2008. Since then, approximately 20 states have adopted click-through nexus including California.

In an announcement made by the California Department of Finance Tax Administration (CDTFA) on December 11, 2018, the agency has decided to require remote sellers to collect sales tax beginning April 1, 2019. CDTFA has stated that they will set the thresholds at $100,000 or 200 transactions in prior (or current) calendar year. In addition, CDTFA will require remote sellers to pay district sales tax in any district where they meet the threshold. The State of California has approximately 290 districts and 234 separate geographic areas which in and out of state businesses will have to track their sales. The announcement does not increase or create any tax but does require more out-of-state retailers to collect and remit taxes just as brick-and-mortar retailers have done for decades.

The new use tax collection requirement is not retroactive and applies only to sales made on and after April 1, 2019. Retailers who are already required to be registered to collect California use tax prior to April 1, 2019 will see no change in their registration obligations.  Retailers with a physical presence in California are still generally required to be registered with the CDTFA. Although the new requirement to collect California use tax applies only to sales on and after April 1, 2019, retailers may choose to register and collect the tax prior to April 1, 2019. Retailers can register on the CDTFA website at www.cdtfa.ca.gov.

What Should You Do?

With States getting more aggressive in enforcing sales tax laws and having the tools to identify non-compliant taxpayers, it is important that taxpayers come into compliance to avoid penalties. 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 Orange County (Irvine), the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area (including Long Beach and Ontario) and elsewhere in California help ensure that you are in compliance with federal tax laws. Also, if you are involved in cannabis, check out how our cannabis tax attorneys can help you.

April 30th Deadline Looming For Cannabis Businesses Operating Under Temporary Licenses

April 30th Deadline Looming For Cannabis Businesses Operating Under Temporary Licenses

The California Bureau Of Cannabis Control (the “BCC”) announced that temporary licenses for retailers, distributors, microbusinesses, testing laboratories and cannabis event organizers that were issued with an effective date of January 1, 2018 will expire on April 30, 2018.

Extension Available

Temporary licenses may be extended for 90-day periods if the licensee submits a complete annual license application before the expiration date.

To submit a completed annual license application, you must submit documents as requested for each component of the application. After the BCC receives your completed application, the BCC may extend your temporary license. The BCC will then perform a substantive review of the documents provided as part of the application to determine if all requirements are met. If the BCC determines that the documentation is insufficient, you will be notified by the BCC.

No extensions will be granted to temporary licensees who do not submit an annual license application prior to the expiration date on their license. If the temporary license expires, the business will be required to cease operations until an annual license has been issued, as operating a commercial cannabis business without an active state license is a violation of the law.

Live Scan Requirement

One of the requirements for the annual license application is that Live Scan fingerprinting be completed for each person who qualifies as an “owner” of the business. The ‘Request for Live Scan’ form will be sent to the applicant via email or mail once the annual application has been submitted to the BCC. The Live Scan form can be taken to any Live Scan operator to have your fingerprints submitted to Department of Justice. The below link provides a list of locations for Live Scan fingerprinting services available to the public: https://oag.ca.gov/fingerprints/locations

Accessing The Annual License Application

The annual license application is available through an online system accessible on the BCC’s website http://online.bcc.ca.gov

Each temporary application that was issued must have a separate annual application submitted to the BCC.

What Should You Do?

It is enough that cannabis businesses have to deal with the uncertainty of the Federal government in enforcing the Federal law that makes it a crime to possess and sell cannabis. Make sure that your cannabis business is in compliance with California Cannabis Licenses And Taxes by engaging the tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Inland Empire (Ontario) and other California locations. We can come up with solutions and strategies to these challenges and protect you and your business to maximize your net profits.

How California Cannabis Retailers Compute And Pay Taxes For Cannabis Acquired Before January 1, 2018 That Is Being Sold Now

New cannabis taxes have been in effect in California starting January 1, 2018. Beginning January 1, 2018, licensed distributors who supply you with cannabis or cannabis products are required to calculate and collect the 15% cannabis excise tax from you. When you sell those items at retail you are required to collect the cannabis excise tax from your customer. But what are your excise tax obligations for cannabis acquired before January 1, 2018 and sold after December 31, 2017?

The administration and enforcement of the cannabis taxes is under the authority of California Department Of Tax And Fee Administration (“CDTFA”).

For sales of cannabis from your inventory acquired prior to January 1, 2018… you are required to collect the 15% cannabis excise tax from your customer when you sell those items and then pay that amount to a licensed distributor with whom you have established a business relationship.

To collect the excise tax from your customers, apply the 15% excise tax to the “average market price”.

The average market price can be calculated as either:

  1. Your gross receipts, which is the retail selling price to your customer, or
  2. Your wholesale cost plus a markup determined by CDTFA.

The examples below illustrate the two methods to calculate the average market price and apply the 15% excise tax on your sale to your customer. Both examples assume that your retail selling price to your customer is $100 and the sales tax rate is 8% (your actual sales tax rate may be different):

Option #1 Based on your gross receipts.

Retail selling price

$100.00

15% excise tax ($100 x 15%)

$15.00

Total gross receipts ($100 + $15)

$115.00

8% sales tax ($115 x 8%)

$9.20

Total amount due ($115 + $9.20)

$124.20

You must pay the $15.00 excise tax collected from your customer to a licensed distributor with whom you have a business relationship. The sales tax is due on your total gross receipts, which includes the excise tax. You must report and pay the $9.20 in sales tax on the quarterly sales and use tax return you file with the CDTFA.

Option # 2 Based on your wholesale cost plus a markup predetermined by the CDTFA.

The markup rate percentage is currently set at 60% and is not meant to be used to determine the markup on your product that you sell to your customers. This markup rate is determined by the CDTFA every six months.

Your wholesale cost

$75.00

60% current markup ($75 x 60%)

$45.00

Average market price ($75 + $45)

$120.00

15% Excise tax due ($120 x 15%)

$18.00

You must pay the $18.00 excise tax collected from your customer to a licensed distributor with whom you have a business relationship.

The sales tax is a separate computation as follows:

Retail selling price, including excise tax ($100 + $18)

$118.00

8% sales tax ($118 x 8%)

$9.44

Total amount due

$127.44

The sales tax is due on your total gross receipts, which includes the excise tax. You must report and pay the $9.44 in sales tax on your quarterly sales and use tax return you file with the CDTFA.

Required Statement To Include When Invoicing Your Customers.

When invoicing your customer, you are required to add the following statement on the invoice or receipt to your customer: “The excise taxes are included in the total amount of this invoice”.

Payment Of The Excise Tax Must Be To A Licensed Cannabis Distributor.

Regardless of which option you choose, you must pay the excise tax you collect to a licensed cannabis distributor by the 15th day of the month following the calendar month you collected the excise tax from your customer. Make sure you receive a receipt from the licensed distributor showing the amount of excise tax you collected and paid to the licensed distributor.

What Should You Do?

It is enough that cannabis businesses have to deal with the uncertainty of the Federal government in enforcing the Federal law that makes it a crime to possess and sell cannabis. Make sure that your cannabis business is in compliance with California Cannabis Taxes by engaging the tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Inland Empire (Ontario) and other California locations. We can come up with solutions and strategies to these challenges and protect you and your business to maximize your net profits.

California office of tax appeals

California Starts Implementation Of New Tax Appeals Programs By Establishing The New “Office Of Tax Appeals”

On June 15, 2017, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 102, which transfers nearly all tax administration and appeal functions from the BOE to two new tax departments: the Department Of Tax And Fee Administration (“DTFA”) and the Office Of Tax Appeals (“OTA”).

Starting January 1, 2018, California State tax appeals will be heard by the Office Of Tax Appeals (“OTA”). Created by the Taxpayer Transparency And Fairness Act Of 2017, the OTA will replace the appellate process once handled by the State Board of Equalization (“BOE”). The BOE handles the enforcement of various types of state taxes – most notably Property Taxes and California Sales & Use Taxes. The OTA will hear and determine all appeals that involve corporate income tax, corporate franchise tax, personal income tax, sales tax, and use tax. If a taxpayer disagrees with the audit findings involving any of these taxes which are reflected on a Notice Of Action or a Notice Of Determination, the taxpayer may file an appeal with the new OTA by the “appeal date” listed on said notice. As of October 1, 2017, any such notice that gets issued will include an insert containing information about appeal rights and the OTA’s contact information. As of October 1, 2017 all appeals need to be filed with OTA, and beginning January 1, 2018, OTA’s three-member panels will hear and determine all appeals. The BOE will cease hearing these appeals after December 31, 2017.

Old System Was “Politically Connected”

The BOE was constitutionally created in 1879 with a mandate that property taxes would be fairly assessed and collected across California. Since that time, the BOE’s statutory authority has been expanded to administer the state’s sales and use tax and numerous other state taxes and fees. In addition, the Board, comprising four members elected from districts and the statewide-elected State Controller, also hears and decides tax disputes. Until the change in the law, California was the only state in the United States where administrative tax disputes were heard by elected representatives. Not only was it allowed but also it was encouraged that taxpayers (or when represented, their attorneys) contact each government official sitting on the five-member BOE panel in ex-parte communications to promote the taxpayer’s position in advance of the hearing.

Designed To Promoted Fairness

On June 15, 2017, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 102, which transfers nearly all tax administration and appeal functions from the BOE to two new tax departments: the DTFA and the OTA. The BOE still retains its constitutional duties which going back to its historical roots is the oversight of property taxes and assessment of state-assessed properties. Both the DTFA and OTA would be under the control of respective directors, each appointed by the governor and subject to confirmation by the California Senate.

The DTFA will be based in Sacramento and will administer state and local sales and use taxes, fuel and tobacco excise taxes, and a variety of other taxes and fees. The new law has no impact on State income tax audits which will still be conducted by the Franchise Tax Board (“FTB”) or employment tax audits which will still be conducted by the Employment Development Department (“EDD”). OTA would hear sales and use tax appeals from the DTFA and personal and corporate income tax appeals from the FTB.

The OTA was designed by the State Legislature to operate independent of any other State tax office and provides a venue where disagreements concerning the application of California State tax law can be resolved on a fair and impartial basis for both the taxpayer and the government. The OTA is supposed to take a fresh look at a taxpayer’s case and consider the strengths and weaknesses of the issues in the taxpayer’s case. The advantage of appealing a California State tax audit to this level provides the taxpayer with the opportunity to reach a mutually acceptable settlement without expensive and time-consuming court trials. This approach follows what the IRS and over half the State Tax Agencies have been doing for many years.

Within the OTA, there will be tax appeals panels consisting of three administrative law judges (ALJ’s). These ALJ’s must have state tax experience and each be a member of the California bar. OTA headquarters will be in Sacramento, with hearing offices in Sacramento, Fresno, and Los Angeles. The ALJ’s must issue written opinions for each appeal.

Although the OTA is not a judicial body or a tax court, it is now a step in California Tax Procedure for taxpayers to challenge tax audit decisions. Furthermore, decisions of the OTA can be appealed to California Superior Court for a “de novo review”. “De novo” is a form of appeal in which the court holds a trial as if no prior trial had been held.

Looking To Appeal A California State Tax Audit Report To The Office Of Appeals?

When taxpayers disagree with the findings of their California State tax audits, they may usually appeal to the OTA. The auditor agent will issue a Notice Of Determination to a taxpayer, which essentially provides the taxpayer with the opportunity to file a Tax Protest requesting his or her case be heard by the OTA. Hiring an experienced tax attorney should make a difference in getting the best possible result. The attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. with locations in Orange County, San Francisco and elsewhere in California know how best to communicate directly to tax appellate bodies including the OTA and build a persuasive case on your behalf because we know how to present your case with legal argument and tax authority.