The Five Ways That IRS Selects Tax Returns For Examination

The Five Ways That IRS Selects Tax Returns For Examination

I have yet to meet anyone who looks forward to having their tax return be selected for an audit by IRS so you should know the five main ways that the IRS selects returns 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  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. 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. In examinations that include undisclosed foreign bank accounts, the IRS will look for family relatives who may have the same involvement in foreign accounts and also failed to make the proper disclosures.
  4. Information Matching— Some returns are examined because payer reports, such as Forms W-2 from employers or Form 1099 interest statements from banks or Form 1099-K statements from credit card companies, do not match the income reported on the tax return. Even foreign banks who have U.S. account holders are reporting information to the IRS which the IRS is matching to tax returns.
  5. Targeted Industries – When the IRS believes that a specific industry has a high expectation of non-compliance with the tax laws, returns for businesses in that industry may be selected for audit. The cannabis industry seems to be in the center of this as this industry is subject to very unfavorable tax law that denies the deduction of many expenses and is widely known to deal in cash which could lead to unreported income.

Information Matching Most Common Reason Why A Return Is Selected For Audit

When a tax return’s information does not match data reported to the Internal Revenue Service by employers, banks and other third parties, the IRS will send a letter to the taxpayer. The letter is called an IRS Notice CP2000, and it gives detailed information about issues the IRS identified and provides steps taxpayers should take to resolve those issues.

This is not a formal audit notification, but a notice to see if the taxpayer agrees or disagrees with the proposed tax changes. Because this verification process and notice generation is done by IRS computers without the need for an agent to actually work the case, these IRS notices are quite common.

Taxpayers should respond to the CP2000, usually within 30 days from the date printed on the notice.

Consequences Of Failing To Respond To IRS Or If Your Response Is Inadequate

If a timely response to the CP2000 is not made or if the IRS cannot accept the additional information provided, a second IRS notice is generated. That follow-up notice is called an IRS Notice CP3219A or “Statutory Notice of Deficiency”. This notice gives detailed information about why the IRS proposes a tax change and how the agency determined the change. The notice tells taxpayers about their right to challenge the decision in Tax Court by filing a Petition with the Tax Court no later than 90 days from the date of the Statutory Notice of Deficiency.

If a taxpayer timely files a Petition, the additional liability remains “proposed” and cannot be sent to collection enforcement by IRS. Instead the taxpayer will have the opportunity to show that the proposed changes are wrong and if agreement is not reached, it will be the Tax Court judge that will have the ultimate say in this matter.

If a taxpayer does not file a Petition, then the proposed changes become final, a tax bill will be generated by the IRS and the IRS can proceed with collection enforcement.

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.

An official letter from the IRS will give you the contact information of the agent and what IRS office the agent reports to. The letter will also 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. Finally, the letter 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.

What Should You Do?

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

U.S. Attorney’s Office Files Charges In Rhode Island Against Two Borrowers Alleging Fraud In Seeking Paycheck Protection Loans

U.S. Attorney’s Office Files Charges In Rhode Island Against Two Borrowers Alleging Fraud In Seeking Paycheck Protection Loans

This is the first case in the nation to be charged with fraudulently seeking CARES Act SBA Paycheck Protection Loans.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District Of Rhode Island announced on May 5, 2020 in a press release that two businessmen have been charged with allegedly filing bank loan applications fraudulently seeking more than a half-million dollars in forgivable loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Charges Filed By The U.S. Attorney’s Office

David A. Staveley, aka Kurt D. Sanborn, 52, of Andover, Massachusetts, and David Butziger, 51, of Warwick, Rhode Island, are charged with conspiring to seek forgivable loans guaranteed by the SBA, claiming to have dozens of employees earning wages at four different business entities when, as alleged by prosecutors, there were no employees working for any of the businesses.

Staveley and Butziger are charged by way of a federal criminal complaint with conspiracy to make false statement to influence the SBA and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Additionally, Staveley is charged with aggravated identity theft. Butziger is charged with bank fraud.

According to court documents unsealed in U.S. District Court in Providence, Rhode Island, the fraudulent loan requests were to pay employees of businesses that were not operating prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and had no salaried employees, or, as in one instance, to pay employees at a business the loan applicant did not own.

Allegedly, Staveley and Butziger discussed via email the creation of fraudulent loan applications and supporting documentations to seek loans guaranteed by the SBA for COVID-19 relief through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). It is alleged that Staveley posed as his brother in real estate transactions.

It is alleged that Staveley claimed in loan applications requesting more than $438,500 that he had dozens of employees at three restaurants he owned, two in Warwick, Rhode Island, and one in Berlin, Massachusetts. An investigation determined that one of the Rhode Island restaurants, the former Remington House, and the Massachusetts restaurant, On The Trax, were not open for business prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, at the time the loan applications were submitted, or at any time thereafter. Moreover, Staveley did not own or have any role in the second Rhode Island restaurant, Top of the Bay, for which he was seeking financial relief.

According to court documents, Staveley’s Massachusetts restaurant was closed by March 10, 2020, when the town of Berlin revoked the business’ liquor license for numerous reasons, including that “Sanborn” allegedly misrepresented that his brother owned the restaurant. Investigators obtained information that Staveley/Sanborn allegedly used his brother’s personal identifying information in other real estate transactions as well.

According to court documents, it is alleged that on April 6, 2020, Butziger filed an application seeking a $105,381 SBA loan under the PPP as owner of an unincorporated entity named Dock Wireless.  Butziger claimed in documentation filed with the bank and in a telephone call with an FBI undercover agent posing as a bank compliance officer that he had seven full-time employees on Dock Wireless’ payroll, including himself. Butziger falsely represented to the agent that he brought the employees on full-time on January 1, 2020, and laid them off at the end of March. Butziger claimed the employees continued to work without being paid through April 2020, and that he would use SBA PPP funds to pay them.

The Rhode Island State Department of Revenue provided information to the IRS of having no records of employee wages having been paid in 2020 by Butziger or Dock Wireless. Agents interviewed several of the supposed Dock Wireless employees who reported that they never worked for Butziger or Dock Wireless.

Keep in mind that the filing of charges in a federal criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The CARES Act

The CARES Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  One source of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses, through the PPP.  In April 2020, Congress authorized over $300 billion in additional PPP funding.

The PPP allows qualifying small-businesses and other organizations to receive loans with a maturity of two years and an interest rate of 1%.  PPP loan proceeds must be used by businesses on payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.  The PPP allows the interest and principal to be forgiven if businesses spend the proceeds on these expenses within eight weeks of receipt and use at least 75% of the forgiven amount for payroll.

On April 23, 2020, the SBA issued guidance in the form of an additional FAQ. The guidance, outlined in FAQ 31, reminds borrowers that they “should review carefully the required certification that “[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.”

More specifically, FAQ 31 provides:

Question: Do businesses owned by large companies with adequate sources of liquidity to support the business’s ongoing operations qualify for a PPP loan?

Answer: In addition to reviewing applicable affiliation rules to determine eligibility, all borrowers must assess their economic need for a PPP loan under the standard established by the CARES Act and the PPP regulations at the time of the loan application. Although the CARES Act suspends the ordinary requirement that borrowers must be unable to obtain credit elsewhere (as defined in section 3(h) of the Small Business Act), borrowers still must certify in good faith that their PPP loan request is necessary. Specifically, before submitting a PPP application, all borrowers should review carefully the required certification that “[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.” Borrowers must make this certification in good faith, taking into account their current business activity and their ability to access other sources of liquidity sufficient to support their ongoing operations in a manner that is not significantly detrimental to the business.

Ramifications for Certifications Not Made in Good Faith

Borrowers that fail to make their certifications in good faith may be subject to civil and criminal penalties. Any borrower who knowingly makes a false statement to obtain forgiveness of an SBA-guaranteed loan is punishable under the law, including 18 USC §§1001 and 3571 by imprisonment of not more than five years and/or a fine of up to $250,000; under 15 USC §645 by imprisonment of not more than two years and/or a fine of not more than $5,000; and, if submitted to a Federally insured institution, under 18 USC §1014 by imprisonment of not more than thirty years and/or a fine of not more than $1,000,000.  The Federal District Courts could expect to see more of these cases as the SBA and U.S. Treasury audits any borrower that has received over $2 million in PPP loan proceeds and conducts spot checks for smaller loans.

What Should You Do?

Whether you are looking to legally optimize the disbursement of your PPP Loan proceeds to assure loan forgiveness or defending charges of certification not made in good faith, it is important that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible to preserve your rights and/or mitigate your losses.  The tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), San Francisco Bay Area (including San Jose and Walnut Creek) and elsewhere in California know exactly what to say and how to handle issues with Federal agencies including the SBA, U.S. Treasury and the IRS.  Our experience and expertise not only level the playing field but also puts you in the driver’s seat as we take full control of resolving your tax problems. Also, if you are involved in cannabis, check out what our cannabis tax attorney can do for you.  Additionally, if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

California Keeping Cannabis Taxes Steady In 2020

The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) which oversees the reporting and collection of taxes for the California cannabis industry under Emergency Regulation 3700 established a new category and tax rate for the cannabis cultivation tax that took effect January 1, 2018, along with the other existing cultivation tax rates. Every six months the CDTFA re-determines the cannabis markup rate. An analysis of statewide market data was used to determine the average mark-up rate between the wholesale cost and the retail selling price of cannabis and cannabis products. The CDTFA set the mark-up rate at 80% starting, January 1, 2020, and the CDTFA announced on May 13, 2020 that the mark-up rate for the last six months of 2020 shall remain unchanged at 80%.

Cannabis Excise Tax

The 15% cannabis excise tax is based on the average market price of the cannabis or cannabis products sold in a retail sale. The mark-up rate is used when calculating the average market price to determine the cannabis excise tax due in an arm’s length transaction. In an arm’s length transaction, the average market price is the retailer’s wholesale cost of the cannabis or cannabis products plus, the mark-up rate determined by the CDTFA. In a non-arm’s length transaction, the average market price is the cannabis retailer’s gross receipts from the retail sale of the cannabis or cannabis products.

Cannabis Cultivation Tax

As required by the Cannabis Tax Law, effective January 1, 2020, the cultivation tax rates reflect an adjustment for inflation. The adjusted rates for each category shown below will be reflected on the monthly and quarterly cannabis tax returns beginning January 1, 2020.

Cannabis Category 2019 Rate 2020 Rate
Flower per dry-weight ounce $9.25 $9.65
Leaves per dry-weight ounce $2.75 $2.87
Fresh cannabis plant per ounce $1.29 $1.35
  • The 2020 rates apply to cannabis that a cultivator sells or transfers to a manufacturer or distributor on or after January 1, 2020.
  • Cultivator cannabis sales or transfers made prior to January 1, 2020, will use the 2019 rates listed above.
  • All fresh cannabis plants must be weighed within two hours of harvesting.

If you are a cannabis retailer, you are required to collect the cannabis excise tax from your customers on each retail sale of cannabis or cannabis products starting January 1, 2018, and pay the excise tax to a distributor. Distributors are liable for paying the cannabis taxes to the CDTFA.

Invoice Requirements

Retailers are required to provide purchasers with a receipt or other similar document that includes the following statement – “The cannabis excise taxes are included in the total amount of this invoice.”

Recordkeeping

Every sale or transport of cannabis or cannabis products must be recorded on an invoice or receipt. Cannabis licensees are required to keep invoices for a minimum of seven years.

Distributors (or in some cases manufacturers) are responsible for collecting the cannabis cultivation and excise taxes, and the invoices they provide must include, among other specified requirements, the amount of tax collected.

Retailers, cultivators, and manufacturers must keep these invoices as verification that the appropriate tax was paid.

How This Impacts The Black Market

Many believe that the CDTFA’s decision not to decrease taxes on compliant cannabis operators while still mandating compliance with State and local regulations will widen the price disparity gap between cannabis products sold in the black market vs. cannabis products sold in the legal market. But with the State stepping up its enforcement efforts to uncover and prosecute illegal cannabis operators, the State is hoping to eliminate this discrepancy by eradicating non-compliant operators.

What Should You Do?

Start your marijuana business on the right track.  Protect yourself and your investment by engaging the cannabis tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Los Angeles County and other California locations. We can come up with tax solutions and strategies and protect you and your business and to maximize your net profits. Also, if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

https://cannabistaxattorney.com/how-some-cbd-companies-are-getting-millions-in-federal-aid-through-a-loophole-in-the-cares-act/

On March 27, 2020 President Trump signed the $2 trillion Stimulus Bill formally known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security [CARES] Act (the “CARES Act”) to provide assistance to workplaces and employees. The CARES Act provides many benefits intended to deliver cash into the hands of individuals and businesses, as well as many other tax provisions … but if you are in the cannabis business, you need to look elsewhere for relief. 

CARES Act Relief For Businesses 

The CARES Act offers the following two major “stimulus” provisions for businesses: the Employee Retention Credit and the Paycheck Participation Program. 

Employee Retention Credit 

Eligible employers are allowed a credit against employment taxes for each calendar quarter equal to 50% of qualified wage (including health benefits) paid to employees.  This amount is limited to $10,000 of wages paid to an employee for all calendar quarters.

An eligible employer is one which is in a trade or business:

  1. Whose operation is fully or partially suspended due to orders from an appropriate governmental authority limiting commerce, travel or group meetings due to COVID-19; or
  2. Who has a “significant decline” in gross receipts (i.e., there is a decrease to less than 50% of the gross receipts for the same quarter in the prior year).

 

Different rules apply as to the covered wages depending upon the number of employees the employer had in 2019. Tax exempt entities are also able to take advantage of this credit.  However, this credit is not available to employers receiving a Small Business Interruption Loan under section 1102 of the Act or if a Work Opportunity Tax Credit is allowed for the employee.

Unfortunately, this credit is not be available for state-licensed cannabis businesses as cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance under Federal law. 

Paycheck Participation Program (“PPP”)

Under this program, small businesses with 500 or fewer employees including not-for-profits, veterans’ organizations, tribal concerns, self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships, and independent contractors are eligible for loans to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs including benefits as well as other costs.

 

PPP funds can be used to pay payroll costs including benefits (with salaries being under $100,000 per employee), interest on mortgages, rent payments, and utility bills; however, no more than 25% of the funds can be used for non-payroll costs.

 

The loan of the PPP funds will be forgiven if you maintain your pre-existing employees at their pre-existing salary levels.  Also, that you do not pay out more than 25% of the PPP funds for non-payroll costs specifically limited to: interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.

 

The application can be found here on the United States Treasury website, along with details for borrowers and lenders.  After completing the application you would then go to any existing SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating. Visit www.sba.gov for a list of Small Business Administration (SBA) lenders.

 

Unfortunately, the SBA is prohibited from administering any loans to cannabis businesses as cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance under Federal law (Controlled Substances Act 21 U.S.C. 801). 

But What About The Hemp And CBD Products Market? 

Well because of the Federal government’s enactment into law of the 2018 Farm Bill which removed cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC from the list of controlled substances, hemp and CBD companies qualify for SBA’s relief programs.

According to VICE News who reviewed SEC filings of CBD products companies, they found three CBD companies that successfully secured funds under the PPP, specifically:

 

 

Together these three large online CBD products retailers have received more than $4 million in PPP money and it is very likely that many other smaller CBD products companies and Hemp companies also were successful in getting PPP funds.  Thus, leaving state-legal medical and recreational cannabis businesses to fend for themselves.

Given That COVID-19 Tax Relief is not available for state-licensed cannabis businesses, U.S. Senators Are Urging Change. 

A coalition of U.S. Senators are urging leadership to permit licensed cannabis operators to qualify for loans and other forms economic assistance available from the SBA.  In a March 26, 2020 letter addressed to the Chairman and Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the senators urge “the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government to include language in … forthcoming legislation to help extend SBA loan programs to legal cannabis businesses.”

Senators Michael Bennett (), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeffrey Merkley (D-OR), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) signed on to the letter.

Emergency Cannabis Small Business Health and Safety Act Introduced April 23, 2020

On April 23, 2020, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced the Emergency Cannabis Small Business Health and Safety Act in the House of Representatives. This legislation would allow legal cannabis businesses to be eligible for the SBA services provided in the CARES Act. Query if this even passes whether cannabis businesses will receive any benefit in the PPP as a vast majority of the funds administered by the SBA have already been allocated to qualified businesses.

But until Federal law changes, the cannabis industry will still have to bear the followings risks and challenges: 

Higher Taxes Still Remain

While the developments listed above are favorable for 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.

 

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.  So it is best to be proactive and engage an experienced cannabis tax attorney in your area who is highly skilled in the different legal and tax issues that cannabis businesses face.  Let the cannabis tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), the Inland Empire (Ontario and Palm Springs) and other California locations protect you and maximize your net profits.  Also, if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a Bitcoin Tax Attorney can do for you.

 

FBAR Penalties Survive Taxpayer’s Death – What You Must Know About IRS FBAR Penalty Negotiations

FBAR Penalties Survive Taxpayer’s Death – What You Must Know About IRS FBAR Penalty Negotiations

In recent years the IRS has made the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) penalty enforcement a top priority and this is alarming the taxpayers worldwide. Even in the course of every routine domestic IRS audit, IRS agents are looking for undisclosed foreign bank accounts.

Death Of A Taxpayer Does Not Terminate FBAR Penalties 

A Federal district court held that the IRS could recover unpaid financial penalties imposed on a taxpayer, who subsequently died, for willfully failing to timely file accurate FAR’s (formerly Forms TDF 90-22.1, now FinCEN Form 114) for years 2010 and 2011. U.S. v. Green, 2020 PTC 137 (S.D. Fla. 2020).  The court rejected arguments by the taxpayer’s children that the FBAR penalties abated upon the taxpayer’s death and stated that granting a windfall to estates of violators of the FBAR requirements because the violator suffered the paradoxical fortune and misfortune of passing away after the violation occurred and before the government filed suit against him for FBAR violations contradicts the remedial purpose of the FBAR filing requirements.

What You Must Know About IRS FBAR Penalty Negotiations:

  1. The penalties for noncompliance in FBAR enforcement are staggering.

FBAR penalties can be unfair as the penalties are based on the account size and not on how much tax you avoided. This is a stark contrast to other IRS penalties which are based on how much additional tax is owed.  Given this difference you will always have a bigger risk and more to lose when dealing with FBAR penalties.

  1. The two types of FBAR penalties.

The “get off gently FBAR penalty” – If the IRS feels that you made an innocent mistake and “not willfully” ignored to file your FBAR, your “get off gently penalty” will be $10,000 per overseas account per year not reported. To illustrate, if you have five foreign accounts that you failed to report on your FBAR in each of five years, the IRS can penalize you $250,000 regardless of whether you even have that amount sitting in your foreign accounts.

The “disastrous FBAR penalty” – If the IRS can show that you “intentionally” avoided filing your FBAR’s, your minimum “disastrous FBAR penalty” will be 50% of your account value.   Additionally, the IRS may also press for criminal charges and if convicted of a willful violation, this can also lead to jail time. The “disastrous FBAR penalty” can also be assessed multiple times thus wiping out your entire savings. 

  1. The taxpayer’s burden of proving “reasonable cause”

You are obligated to pay the penalty the IRS deems necessary. The IRS can assume the “disastrous FBAR penalty” and they are not required to prove willfulness. It will be the taxpayer that bears the heavy burden of proving that the taxpayer’s failure to comply was due to reasonable cause and not from “willful neglect”. 

  1. Your appeal option.

Having exhausted all administrative remedies within the IRS first, you can then appeal the proposed FBAR penalties to a Federal District Court but for that court to have jurisdiction you must pay the assessments in full and then sue the IRS in a district court for refund. Since coming up with the money may be impossible for most taxpayers, consider hiring an experienced tax attorney to make the most of the IRS appeals process and perhaps avoid the need for litigation.  Keep in mind that in the appeals process, you do not have to pay any FBAR penalty until the end. Second, you can be successful if IRS remedies itself thus making court filings unnecessary. And third, even if the administrative remedies do not yield you success, your tax attorney can attempt to negotiate with the IRS to lower your FBAR penalties without going for a trial. 

  1. The Voluntary Disclosure Route.

The streamlined filing compliance procedures are available to taxpayers certifying that their failure to report foreign financial assets and pay all tax due in respect of those assets did not result from willful conduct on their part. The streamlined procedures are designed to provide to taxpayers in such situations (1) a streamlined procedure for filing amended or delinquent returns and (2) terms for resolving their tax and penalty obligations.

Taxpayers will be required to certify that the failure to report all income, pay all tax, and submit all required information returns, including FBARs (FinCEN Form 114, previously Form TD F 90-22.1), was due to non-willful conduct.

If the IRS has initiated a civil examination of a taxpayer’s returns for any taxable year, regardless of whether the examination relates to undisclosed foreign financial assets, the taxpayer will not be eligible to use the streamlined procedures. Similarly, a taxpayer under criminal investigation by IRS Criminal Investigation is also ineligible to use the streamlined procedures.

Taxpayers eligible to use the streamlined procedures who have previously filed delinquent or amended returns in an attempt to address U.S. tax and information reporting obligations with respect to foreign financial assets (so-called “quiet disclosures”) may still use the streamlined procedures.

What Should You Do?

If you have never reported your foreign investments on your U.S. Tax Returns, you should seriously consider making a voluntary disclosure to the IRS. 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. The tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), San Diego County (Carlsbad) and elsewhere in California are highly skilled in handling tax matters and can effectively represent at all levels with the IRS and State Tax Agencies including criminal tax investigations and attempted prosecutions, undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other foreign assets, and unreported foreign income. Also if you are involved in cannabis, check out what a cannabis tax attorney can do for you.  And if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

What To Do If Your Economic Impact Payment Is Wrong

I think the amount of my Economic Impact Payment is incorrect.  What can I do?

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

Who is eligible for the economic impact payment?

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

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

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

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

So if your economic impact payment is too low, how do you claim the missing funds?

The Treasury Department has reported that over 130 million Americans have received their economic impact payment.  While many have received the correct payment amount, some have reported receiving payments that were too low. One of the most common cases appears to be parents who did not receive $500 payments for each qualifying dependent child, despite filing a 2018 or 2019 tax return claiming children.

So if your economic impact payment was too low, how do you claim the missing funds?  Question #19 of the Frequently Asked Questions section on the IRS website provides the following answer:

“If you did not receive the full amount to which you believe you are entitled, you will be able to claim the additional amount when you file your 2020 tax return.  This is particularly important for individuals who may be entitled to the additional $500 per qualifying child dependent payments.”

In short, you’ll have to wait until at least the end of January 2021 to claim the missing amount as a tax credit, when you file your 2020 taxes.

An Opportunity For Taxpayers Who Owe The IRS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Should You Do?

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

FDA Warns Companies Illegally Selling CBD Products to Treat Medical Conditions, Opioid Addiction

FDA Warns Companies Illegally Selling CBD Products to Treat Medical Conditions, Opioid Addiction

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on April 23, 2020 that it has sent warning letters to two companies for illegally selling unapproved products containing cannabidiol (CBD) in ways that violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). This action is a continuation of the FDA’s efforts to pursue companies that illegally market CBD products with claims that they can treat medical conditions, including opioid addiction or as an alternative to opioids. The two warning letters were issued to BIOTA Biosciences, LLC and Homero Corp DBA Natures CBD Oil Distribution.

Under the FD&C Act, any product intended to treat a disease or otherwise have a therapeutic or medical use, and any product (other than a food) that is intended to affect the structure or function of the body of humans or animals, is a drug. The FDA has not approved any CBD products other than one prescription human drug product (Epidiolex) to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy which we reported in a previous blog.

In another previous blog we stated that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and FDA sent warning letters to companies allegedly selling unapproved products that may violate federal law by making deceptive or scientifically unsupported claims about their ability to treat or cure coronavirus (COVID-19).

As of yet no substantiated clinical data supporting either the prophylactic or therapeutic use of cannabis products in the treatment of COVID-19.

DEA Taking Action To Improve Access To Cannabis Research

The Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) announced on August 26, 2019 that it is moving forward to facilitate and expand scientific and medical research for marijuana in the United States. The DEA is providing notice of pending applications from entities applying to be registered to manufacture marijuana for researchers.

DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon stated: “the DEA is making progress in the program to register additional marijuana growers for federally authorized research, and will work with other relevant federal agencies to expedite the necessary next steps. We support additional research into marijuana and its components, and we believe registering more growers will result in researchers having access to a wider variety for study.”

Since 1968, only the University of Mississippi has been allowed to cultivate and provide cannabis to medical researchers across the country. The DEA anticipates that registering additional qualified marijuana growers will increase the variety of marijuana available for these purposes.

DEA’s Position Runs Against The General Anti-Federal U.S. Climate

The Federal Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) 21 U.S.C. § 812 classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance with a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment, and lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. Although you can still face federal criminal charges for using, growing, or selling weed in a manner that is completely lawful under California law, the federal authorities in the past have pulled back from targeting individuals and businesses engaged in medical marijuana activities. This pull back came from Department of Justice (“DOJ”) Safe Harbor Guidelines issued in 2013 under what is known as the “Cole Memo”.

The Cole Memo included eight factors for prosecutors to look at in deciding whether to charge a medical marijuana business with violating the Federal law:

• Does the business allow minors to gain access to marijuana?
• Is revenue from the business funding criminal activities or gangs?
• Is the marijuana being diverted to other states?
• Is the legitimate medical marijuana business being used as a cover or pretext for the traffic of other drugs or other criminal enterprises?
• Are violence or firearms being used in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana?
• Does the business contribute to drugged driving or other adverse public health issues?
• Is marijuana being grown on public lands or in a way that jeopardizes the environment or public safety?
• Is marijuana being used on federal property?

Since 2013, these guidelines provided a level of certainty to the marijuana industry as to what point could you be crossing the line with the Federal government. But on January 4, 2018, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked the Cole Memo. Now U.S. Attorneys in the local offices throughout the country retain broad prosecutorial discretion as to whether to prosecute cannabis businesses under federal law even though the state that these businesses operate in have legalized some form of marijuana.

House Appropriations Bill Amendment

The Blumenauer McClintock Amendment sponsored by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Tom McClintock (R-CA) that was included in the appropriations bill to fund parts of the federal government for Fiscal Year 2020, states that:

“None of the funds made available under this House Appropriations Bill to the Department of Justice may be used to prevent to any State, territory or D.C. from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana.”

In the past such amendment (starting in 2014) was limited to medical marijuana state-licensed business but this expansion is huge given that nearly one in four Americans reside in a jurisdiction where the adult use of cannabis is legal under state statute.

Medical marijuana is legal in 33 states.

The medical use of cannabis is legal (with a doctor’s recommendation) in 33 states and Washington DC. Those 33 states being Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. The medical use of cannabis is also legal in the territories of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico.

Recreational marijuana is legal in 11 states.

Eleven states and Washington DC, have legalized marijuana for recreational use — no doctor’s letter required — for adults over the age of 21. Those ten states being Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington and the territory of Guam.
Building on the DOJ’s issuance of the Cole Memo, in 2014 the House passed an amendment to the yearly federal appropriations bill that effectively shields medical marijuana businesses from federal prosecution. Proposed by Representatives Rohrabacher and Farr, the amendment forbids federal agencies to spend money on investigating and prosecuting medical marijuana-related activities in states where such activities are legal.

This action by the House is not impacted by former Attorney General Sessions’ change of position with the DOJ. This means that the DOJ is precluded from spending funds to circumvent any of the foregoing states from implementing their medical cannabis laws.

Clearly, to avail yourself of the historical protections of the amendment, you must be on the medical cannabis side and you must be in complete compliance with your State’s medical cannabis laws and regulations. You may not be covered under the amendment if you are involved in the recreational cannabis side even if legal in the State you are operating.

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 (Irvine), Metropolitan Los Angeles (including Long Beach and Ontario) and other California locations protect you and maximize your net profits. By the way – if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

Still Waiting For Your IRS Economic Impact Payment?

Still Waiting For Your IRS Economic Impact Payment?

As the IRS closed its web-based portal for non-filers and taxpayers for whom the IRS does not have your Direct Deposit Information, taxpayers with a filing requirement must file a tax return to get an Economic Impact Payment.

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

Who is eligible for the economic impact payment?

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

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

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

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

How will the IRS know where to send my payment?

The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible.

The cash payments will be based on the most recent tax information available to the IRS looking at a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return filed and if it has not yet been filed, then the taxpayer’s 2018 tax return filed.

The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the return filed.

So if you haven’t filed taxes yet for one of those years, now is a good time.

I need to file a tax return. How long are the economic impact payments available?

For those concerned about visiting a tax professional in person to get help with a tax return, these economic impact payments will be available throughout the rest of 2020.

What happens when I file a 2020 tax return next year? 

Keep in mind that if your 2020 tax return will reflect an AGI higher than the above applicable threshold, you should expect to pay back at least some or perhaps all of the cash payments you received under the CARES Act.

Beware Of New IRS Scam!

You get a call from someone claiming to be working for the IRS claiming:

“We need your personal information in order for you to claim the coronavirus stimulus money.”

This appears to be an identity theft scheme to obtain recipients’ personal and financial information so the scammers can provide the IRS with their banking information to get your economic impact payment deposited into their account.

In reality, the IRS WILL NOT CALL YOU! Federal aid will either be deposited via account information the IRS already has from your tax filings or they will send you a check.

Where can I get more information?

The IRS has established a special section focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus and as information becomes available, the IRS will be updating this special page on its website.  You can also check out the KahnTaxLaw Coronavirus Resource Center.

An Opportunity For Taxpayers Who Owe The IRS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Should You Do?

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

Emergency Cannabis Small Business Health and Safety Act Introduced In Congress – If You Can’t Beat Them, Then Join Them!

Emergency Cannabis Small Business Health and Safety Act Introduced In Congress – If You Can’t Beat Them, Then Join Them!

On March 27, 2020 President Trump signed the $2 trillion Stimulus Bill formally known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security [CARES] Act (the “CARES Act”) to provide assistance to workplaces and employees. The CARES Act provides many benefits intended to deliver cash into the hands of individuals and businesses, as well as many other tax provisions … but if you are in the cannabis business, you need to look elsewhere for relief.

CARES Act Relief For Businesses

The CARES Act offers the following two major “stimulus” provisions for businesses: the Employee Retention Credit and the Paycheck Protection Program. 

Employee Retention Credit 

Eligible employers are allowed a credit against employment taxes for each calendar quarter equal to 50% of qualified wage (including health benefits) paid to employees.  This amount is limited to $10,000 of wages paid to an employee for all calendar quarters.

An eligible employer is one which is in a trade or business:

  1. Whose operation is fully or partially suspended due to orders from an appropriate governmental authority limiting commerce, travel or group meetings due to COVID-19; or
  2. Who has a “significant decline” in gross receipts (i.e., there is a decrease to less than 50% of the gross receipts for the same quarter in the prior year).

Different rules apply as to the covered wages depending upon the number of employees the employer had in 2019. Tax exempt entities are also able to take advantage of this credit.  However, this credit is not available to employers receiving a Small Business Interruption Loan under section 1102 of the Act or if a Work Opportunity Tax Credit is allowed for the employee.

Unfortunately, this credit is not be available for state-licensed cannabis businesses as cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance under Federal law (Controlled Substances Act 21 U.S.C. 801). 

Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”)

Under this program, small businesses with 500 or fewer employees including not-for-profits, veterans’ organizations, tribal concerns, self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships, and independent contractors are eligible for loans to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs including benefits as well as other costs.

PPP funds can be used to pay payroll costs including benefits (with salaries being under $100,000 per employee), interest on mortgages, rent payments, and utility bills; however, no more than 25% of the funds can be used for non-payroll costs.

The loan of the PPP funds will be forgiven if you maintain your pre-existing employees at their pre-existing salary levels.  Also, that you do not pay out more than 25% of the PPP funds for non-payroll costs specifically limited to: interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.

The application can be found here on the United States Treasury website, along with details for borrowers and lenders.  After completing the application you would then go to any existing SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating. Visit www.sba.gov for a list of Small Business Administration (SBA) lenders.

Unfortunately, the SBA is prohibited from administering any loans to cannabis businesses as cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance under Federal law.

How things have changed –  

Medical marijuana is legal in 33 states.

The medical use of cannabis is legal (with a doctor’s recommendation) in 33 states and Washington DC. Those 33 states being Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. The medical use of cannabis is also legal in the territories of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico.

Recreational marijuana is legal in 11 states. 

Eleven states and Washington DC, have legalized marijuana for recreational use — no doctor’s letter required — for adults over the age of 21. Those ten states being Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington and the territory of Guam. 

Department Of Justice preferring cannabis legalization. 

Attorney General William Barr stated that he would prefer that Congress enact legislation allowing states to legalize marijuana instead of continuing the current approach under which a growing number of states have ended cannabis prohibition in conflict with federal law.

Given That COVID-19 Tax Relief is not available for state-licensed cannabis businesses, U.S. Senators Are Urging Change.

A coalition of U.S. Senators are urging leadership to permit licensed cannabis operators to qualify for loans and other forms economic assistance available from the SBA.  In a March 26, 2020 letter addressed to the Chairman and Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the senators urge “the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government to include language in … forthcoming legislation to help extend SBA loan programs to legal cannabis businesses.”

Senators Michael Bennett (), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeffrey Merkley (D-OR), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) signed on to the letter.

Emergency Cannabis Small Business Health and Safety Act Introduced April 23, 2020

On April 23, 2020, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced the Emergency Cannabis Small Business Health and Safety Act in the House of Representatives. This legislation would allow legal cannabis businesses to be eligible for the SBA services provided in the CARES Act.

But until Federal law changes, the cannabis industry will still have to bear the followings risks and challenges:

Higher Taxes Still Remain

While the developments listed above are favorable for 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.

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.  So it is best to be proactive and engage an experienced cannabis tax attorney in your area who is highly skilled in the different legal and tax issues that cannabis businesses face.  Let the cannabis tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), the Inland Empire (Ontario and Palm Springs) and other California locations protect you and maximize your net profits.  Also, if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a Bitcoin Tax Attorney can do for you.

DEA Releases Its Report Card On 2019 Illegal Cannabis Eradication Activity

DEA Releases Its Report Card On 2019 Illegal Cannabis Eradication Activity

Anyone conducting business in cannabis surely knows that under Federal law (Controlled Substances Act 21 U.S.C. 801) marijuana is designated as a Schedule I controlled substance due to the historical belief that it has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment, and lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. So the risk is apparent that at any time Federal authorities could come and shut you down but don’t think that just because cannabis is legal in California and in other States, you do not have to worry about being shut down.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is aggressively striving to halt the spread of cannabis cultivation in the United States.  To accomplish this, the DEA initiated the Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program (DCE/SP), which is the only nationwide law enforcement program that exclusively targets Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) involved in cannabis cultivation.

DEA History On Cannabis Eradication

The DEA announced the funding of eradication programs in Hawaii and California in 1979.  The eradication program rapidly expanded to include eradication programs in 25 states by 1982.  By 1985, all 50 states were participating in the DCE/SP.  In 2019, the DEA continued its nation-wide cannabis eradication efforts, providing resources to support the 130 state and local law enforcement agencies that actively participate in the program.  This assistance allows the enhancement of already aggressive eradication enforcement activities throughout the nation.  In 2020, the DEA continued its nation-wide cannabis eradication efforts, providing resources to support the 127 state and local law enforcement agencies that actively participate in the program. This assistance allows the enhancement of already aggressive eradication enforcement activities throughout the nation.  In 2019, the DCE/SP was responsible for the eradication of 3,232,722 cultivated outdoor cannabis plants and 770,472 indoor plants for a total of 4,003,194 marijuana plants.  In addition, the DCE/SP accounted for 4,718 arrests and the seizure in excess of 29.0 million dollars of cultivator assets.  The program also removed 3,210 weapons from cannabis cultivators.

Here Are The 2019 Stats –

According to figures published in the 2019 Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical Report issued by the DEA, the DEA and its law enforcement partners confiscated an estimated four million marijuana plants in 2019 – up from 2.8 million in 2018.

By contrast, marijuana-related marijuana arrests compiled by the DEA fell to 4,718 in 2019 – a decrease of 16% from 2018’s totals. It was the second-lowest number of arrests reported by the DEA in the past decade. In 2011, for instance, the DEA seized over 8.7 million marijuana plants and made over 8,500 annual arrests as part of its nationwide Eradication/Suppression activities.

State Of California Commitment To Enforcement

California law mandates that you can only sell cannabis if you have obtained a license to do so. These licenses being issued by the BCC. If you don’t have a license, then selling cannabis or transporting it in order to sell it is still a crime under H&S Code §11360.

In a previous blog we wrote about Governor Gavin Newsom’s promise made in February 2019 to deploy the California National Guard against marijuana grows in California. Multijurisdictional task forces have long been deployed against marijuana grows in California as we noted in the following blogs:

  • Click here on a raid that occurred in Riverside County.
  • Click here on a raid that occurred in Kern County
  • Click here on a raid that occurred in the City of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County.
  • Click here on a raid that occurred in the City of Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County.
  • Click here on a raid that occurred in Riverside County.
  • Click here on a raid that occurred in the City of Buellton.

California Penalties For Selling Cannabis Without A License.

For most defendants, under California law the unlicensed sale or transport for sale of cannabis is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. For defendants under 18, it is an infraction. Also, giving away or transporting for sale up to 28.5 grams of cannabis without a license is an infraction.

But the sale/transport for sale of cannabis without a license to do so is a felony for the following defendants:

  1. Defendants who have a prior conviction for one of a list of particularly serious violent felonies, including murder, sexually violent offenses, sex crimes against a child under 14, or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, or a sex crime that requires them to register as a sex offender;
  2. Defendants who have two or more prior convictions for H&S Code §11360 sale/transportation of cannabis;
  3. Defendants who knowingly sold, attempted to sell, or offered to sell or furnish cannabis to someone under 18; or
  4. Defendants who imported or attempted or offered to import into California, or transported or attempted/offered to transport out of California for sale, more than 28.5 grams of cannabis or more than four grams of concentrated cannabis.

In any of these scenarios, black market sale or transportation for sale of cannabis under H&S Code §11360 is punishable anywhere from two to four years in jail.

Transporting cannabis without intent to sell it, or giving cannabis away, is not a crime in California so long as BOTH of the following are true:

  1. You transport or give away not more than 28.5 grams of cannabis or eight grams of concentrated cannabis, and
  2. Any people you give cannabis to are 21 years of age or older.

What Should You Do?

You can count on State and local governments coordinating resources with the Federal government and making comprehensive strikes on unlicensed and illegal cannabis operations for the safety of the public.

Both civil and criminal penalties will apply to unlicensed operators so it is imperative that anyone cultivating, manufacturing or distributing cannabis on a commercial basis in California seeks a local and state license for their operations immediately, if they have not already done so. Protect yourself and your investment by engaging a cannabis tax attorney at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), the Inland Empire (including Ontario and Palm Springs) and other California locations. We can come up with tax solutions and strategies and protect you and your business and to maximize your net profits. Also, if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.