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.

Better Late Than Never; What High Income Taxpayers Should Know About Filing Late Tax Returns

Better Late Than Never; What High Income Taxpayers Should Know About Filing Late Tax Returns

How To Handle Late Tax Returns?

Every year, about 7 million taxpayers miss tax deadline or fail to file their tax returns according to data from the Internal Revenue Service. This figure constitutes roughly 5% of the taxpayer base in the U.S., resulting in government revenue losses of up to $28 billion annually. The IRS announced that as part of a larger effort to ensure compliance and fairness, the IRS will step up efforts to visit high-income taxpayers who in prior years have failed to timely file one or more of their tax returns.

Following the recent and ongoing hiring of additional enforcement personnel, IRS Revenue Officers across the country will increase face-to-face visits with high-income taxpayers who haven’t filed tax returns in 2018 or previous years.

Failure to File vs. Failure to Pay

The IRS red flags taxpayers as “tax cheats” whether they are stop-filers, non-filers and under-filers.

Stop Filer” is a term applied to taxpayers that consistently comply with tax filing requirements and then suddenly stop filing their returns. If your employer or client reports your income to the IRS on a 1099 or a W-2, the IRS will flag your information as a non-filer because they have access to tax forms that cannot be matched to tax returns. Understating your income, consciously or unintentionally, could result in a lower tax liability but make you liable for IRS penalties.

Failure to file means not filing the returns within the given time frame while failure to pay means filing the required paperwork but not turning in the full amount of tax obligation by the tax filing deadline. To force compliance with tax laws, the IRS is allowed to prepare a “substitute return” on behalf of those who failed to file, using data that was submitted by employers and applying customary exemptions and deductions. Substitute returns will always show a much higher liability than actual returns you have prepared and filed because substitute returns which are prepared by the IRS will not take into account your business expenses, basis in assets sold, itemized deductions, proper marital status, dependents and many tax credits.

Essentially, filing federal taxes late is better than not filing even if you cannot pay the tax dues at the time of submission. Penalties will still accrue for all unpaid tax obligations effective on the day after it is due until fully paid but by filing your tax return timely you avoid a late-filing penalty.

Why Taxpayers Should File Late Returns Now

There are important reasons why you should file your returns even if it is long past due. For one, penalties will continue to add up on any payments due. Also, if you are owed a refund due to exemptions, deductions and tax withheld, you only have three years from the original due date to claim the refund (and in certain cases this limitation is two years). When this period expires, you forfeit your refund to the IRS. Additionally, you would not be able to claim tax refunds for later years unless returns for the missing years are filed.

Loan applications, lease qualifications, scholarship applications and similar events require submission of tax returns from the previous years. Failure to present these documents that are used as proof of income may disqualify your application from moving forward. For self-employed taxpayers, filing a tax return is the only way that your credits for Social Security benefits can be reported and tracked. If you don’t comply with tax filing requirements, you would not build up enough retirement or disability credits.

Failure to respond and comply with an IRS tax bill will trigger the collection process, which may include tactics such as wage garnishment, an asset freeze or a federal tax lien.

IRS Penalties for Late Filing

The IRS assesses two different penalties for filing federal taxes late. The failure to file penalty is assessed at 5% for each month that the returns are late and is capped at 25%.

Assessments for failure to pay are 0.5% monthly for a maximum of 25%. If both penalties apply, the total amount is capped at 5% per month for a late tax return. If you qualify for a refund during the tax year in question, and you have not forfeited the refund, you may not be charged with penalties for taxes owed on a delinquent tax return.

Extending The Deadline To File

Starting with your 2019 tax return, if you will be unable to prepare your tax returns within the original deadline, file for an extension using the Form 4868, application for automatic extension of time to file U.S. individual income tax return on or before the deadline to file your Form 1040. Where an extension is timely filed, penalties for failure to file will not apply, but penalties will still be assessed on the balance due. With Form 4868, the revised deadline will be extended by six months for taxpayers in the U.S.

Additional IRS Civil Penalties For Non-compliance With Tax Laws

Criminal fraud refers to outright tax evasion. Penalties for tax evaders include hefty fines, imprisonment or both. Civil fraud charges applies to underpayment without intent to completely evade making tax payments. The penalty imposed may be as much as 75% of the portion of the underpayment. Negligence refers to inadvertent underpayment, and the penalty is 20% of the underpayment that is due to negligence. A frivolous return is one that intentionally excludes information that is crucial to processing the returns, and the penalty is $500 for each frivolous return.

What Should You Do?

Filing federal taxes late is a complicated matter. Let the tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), San Francisco Bay Area (including San Jose and Walnut Creek) protect you from excessive fines and possible jail time. Also, if you are involved in cannabis, check out how a cannabis tax attorney can help you. And if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

Don’t Let A Simpler Form 1040 Fool You – Be Prepared For An IRS Audit.

Don’t Let A Simpler Form 1040 Fool You – Be Prepared For An IRS Audit.

The Tax Cuts And Jobs Act Of 2017 (“TCJA”) was signed into law by President Trump on December 22, 2017. It has been a good 30 years since the last time the Internal Revenue Code received such a major update but for taxpayers.

Major Changes From The TCJA Include:

A Simpler Form 1040

There are major changes to the Form 1040 that started with 2018. The 2019 Form 1040 continues with the same format but with even more changes compared to previous years.

While it has not come down to being a postcard, the new Form 1040 does streamline the reporting process as follows:

  • The 2019 Form 1040 replaces Forms 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ with one Form 1040 that all taxpayers will file. 
  • Forms 1040A and 1040EZ continue to be unavailable. Taxpayers who used one of these forms sometime in the past will now have to file Form 1040.
  • The 2019 Form 1040 continues to use a “building block” approach and allows taxpayers to add only the schedules they need to their 2019 tax return.
  • The most commonly used lines on the prior year form are still on the form. Other lines are moved to new schedules and are organized by category. These categories include income, adjustments to income, nonrefundable credits, taxes, payments, and refundable credits.

Many taxpayers will only need to file Form 1040 and no schedules. Those with more complicated tax returns will need to complete one or more of the 2019 Form 1040 Schedules along with their Form 1040. These taxpayers include people claiming certain deductions or credits, or owing additional taxes.

The 2019 Form 1040 Makes It Harder For U.S. Taxpayers To Avoid Non-compliance Or Claim Ignorance.

Starting with the 2019 Form 1040, Schedule 1, Additional Income And Adjustments To Income, includes the following checkbox question:

At any time during 2019, did you receive, sell, send, exchange or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency? 

 ◊ Yes            ◊ No

Taxpayers who file Schedule 1 to report income or adjustments to income that can’t be entered directly on Form 1040 will now be required to check the appropriate box to answer the virtual currency question. Taxpayers do not need to file Schedule 1 if their answer to this question is NO and they do not have to file Schedule 1 for any other purpose. This requirement is similar to how the IRS includes questions on Schedule B inquiring whether a taxpayer has foreign bank accounts.

Taxpayers who answer “no” and for who the IRS later determines should have answered “yes” could face civil or criminal penalties and it could affect their success in having penalties abated for reasonable cause.

Importance To Preserve Records

Keep in mind that the IRS has up to three years to select a tax return for audit. For California taxpayers, the Franchise Tax Board has up to four years to select a California State Income Tax Return for audit. In some cases these 3 and 4 year periods are extended to six years. When a taxpayer is selected for audit, the taxpayer has the burden of proof to show that expenses claimed are properly deductible. Having the evidence handy and organized makes meeting this burden of proof much easier.

Essential Records to Have for a Tax Audit

If you are getting ready for a tax audit, one of the most important things to do is gather and organize your tax records and receipts. There’s a good chance that you have a large amount of documents and receipts in your possession. No matter how organized you are, it can be a daunting task to collect the right pieces and make sure that you have them organized and handy for the audit conference.

We have seen many tax audits that hinge on whether or not the taxpayer can provide proper documentation for their previous tax filings. A tax lawyer in Orange County or elsewhere can make sure that the documentation is complete and proper.  By submitting this to your tax attorney in advance of the audit, your tax attorney can review your documentation and determine if there are any gaps that need to be addressed before starting the dialogue with the IRS agent.

So what are the most essential tax records to have ahead of your audit? Here are a few must-have items:

  • Any W-2 forms from the previous year. This can include documents from full-time and part-time work, large casino and lottery winnings and more.
  • Form 1098 records from your bank or lender on mortgage interest paid from the previous year.
  • Records of any miscellaneous money you earned and reported to the IRS including work done as an independent contractor or freelancer, interest from savings accounts and stock dividends.
  • Written letters from charities confirming your monetary donations from the previous year.
  • Receipts for business expenses you claimed.
  • Mileage Logs for business use of vehicle.
  • Entertainment and Travel Logs for business activities.

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), the San Francisco Bay Area (including San Jose and Walnut Creek) 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.

Why Hire A Tax Attorney If You Are In U.S. Tax Court For IRC Sec. 280E?

Why Hire A Tax Attorney If You Are In U.S. Tax Court For IRC Sec. 280E?

IRS Tax Audits in the cannabis industry can be quite tricky. We previously wrote a blog on appealing these audits.

If you are involved in cannabis and dealing with an IRC Sec. 280E or other tax liability issue with the IRS and you are unable to reach a satisfactory resolution working with the IRS directly, then you may need to seek relief in the United States Tax Court. The U.S. Tax Court has jurisdiction over matters involving individual and business tax liability under the Internal Revenue Code, and, while individual taxpayers have the option to appear before the court pro se, most Tax Court litigants will benefit greatly from hiring a Board Certified Tax Attorney to represent them.

What Is The United States Tax Court?

The United States Tax Court is a Federal trial court. Because it is a court of record, a record is made of all its proceedings. It is an independent judicial forum. It is not controlled by or connected with the IRS. Congress pursuant to its authority under Article 3 of the U.S. Constitution created the Tax Court as an independent judicial authority for taxpayers disputing certain IRS determinations. The Tax Court’s authority to resolve these disputes is called its jurisdiction. Generally, a taxpayer may file a petition in the Tax Court in response to certain IRS determinations. A taxpayer who begins such a proceeding is known as the “petitioner”, and the Commissioner of Internal Revenue is the “respondent”.

Although the Tax Court is headquartered in Washington, D.C., its judges preside at trials in 60 U.S. cities, and its Special Trial Judges preside at trials in those cities and 15 additional cities.

How Do You Start A Case In The U.S. Tax Court?

If a taxpayer and the IRS do not agree to the findings of a tax examination, the IRS will send a notice proposing a tax adjustment (known as a “statutory notice of deficiency”). The statutory notice of deficiency gives you as the taxpayer the right to challenge the proposed adjustment in the U.S. Tax Court before paying it. To do this, you need to file a petition within 90 days of the date of the notice (150 days if the notice is addressed to you outside the United States). If you filed your petition on time, the Tax Court will eventually schedule your case for trial at the designation place of trial you set forth in your petition. Prior to trial you should have the opportunity to seek a settlement with IRS Area Counsel and in certain cases, such settlement negotiations could be delegated to the IRS Office Of Appeals.

If there is still disagreement and the case does go to trial, you will have the opportunity to present your case before a Tax Court judge. The judge after hearing your case and reviewing the record and any post-trial briefs will render a decision in the form of an Opinion. It could take as much as two years after trial before an Opinion issued. If the Opinion is not appealed to a Circuit Court Of Appeals, then the proposed deficiency under the Opinion is final and your account will be sent to IRS Collections.

IRS Area Counsel are experienced trial attorneys working for the IRS whose job is to litigate cases in the U.S. Tax Court and look out for the best interests of the Federal government. Therefore, to level the playing field, it would be prudent for a taxpayer to hire qualified tax counsel as soon as possible to seek a mutually acceptable resolution without the need for trial, and if that does not happen, to already have the legal expertise in place to vigorously defend you at trial.

Reasons To Hire A Board Certified Tax Attorney

For a professional to be good at what he/she does, training and experience are necessary. The more real work experience you get, the more skilled you will be at your job. Most people do not have the adequate legal and tax knowledge to attend hearings or go to U.S. Tax Court without a Board Certified Tax Attorney present. Here are some other benefits of working with one.

Peace of mind

Although you can represent yourself in U.S. Tax Court, you may end up regretting it, especially if the outcome is not good. Having a Board Certified Tax Attorney with you will give you peace of mind irrespective of the case you are faced with. You can be confident that your case is being handled by someone who understands your legal and tax problems better and they will handle your case with utmost professionalism. Additionally, resolving complex tax issues, especially those involving IRC Sec. 280E, requires much more than simply finding the relevant provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. A Board Certified Tax Attorney will be able to conduct the necessary legal research to build a convincing (and legally-sound) argument for the best possible result.

Avoid incriminating yourself

Seasoned tax attorneys will spend time coaching their clients on how to behave and speak while in the U.S. Tax Court. This is important because the behavior and candor of a taxpayer in the courtroom can have tremendous effects on the case. A Board Certified Tax Attorney will go out of his/her way to ensure that you do not incriminate yourself whenever you speak in the Tax Court.

Reduce risks

Getting representation from a Board Certified Tax Attorney will boost the chances of keep your case on track to reaching the best possible result. A Board Certified Tax Attorney has experience handling tax cases in the U.S. Tax Court and they will handle any emerging issues before they become major problems for your case. When things get tough, you will be sure that your tax lawyer has the expertise and specialized training to handle the problem.

Conversant with all court procedures and rules

After filing a petition in the U.S. Tax Court, there are various time, form, and other procedural requirements that apply. An attorney who regularly practices before the Tax Court will be intimately familiar with these issues and will be able to ensure that procedural miscues do not jeopardize your case. Adhering to these procedures is crucial to the outcome of your case.

During your U.S. Tax Court case, the IRS through its counsel may file various motions to try to resolve the case with a finding of liability prior to trial. A Board Certified Tax Attorney will be able to interpret the substantive and strategic intent behind these motions and file appropriate responses with the Tax Court.

In many cases, issues that require resolution in the U.S. Tax Court will have ancillary legal implications as well. A Board Certified Tax Attorney will be able to identify these issues and address them before they lead to unnecessary costs and exposure.

Saving you money

Given the costly legal fees that people pay, it is difficult to believe that a Board Certified Tax Attorney can help you save cash. Most cases filed with the U.S. Tax Court settle. Should you settle your case? If so, when? A Board Certified Tax Attorney will be able to rely on the insights gained from numerous prior U.S. Tax Court cases to help you make informed decisions regarding settling or taking your case to trial.

What Should You Do?

When faced with litigation in the U.S. Tax Court, you need a tax lawyer by your side. Level the playing field and gain the upper hand by engaging the cannabis tax attorneys 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 solutions and strategies to these risks and protect you and your business to maximize your net profits. And if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

Why Hire A Tax Attorney If You Are In U.S. Tax Court?

Why Hire A Tax Attorney If You Are In U.S. Tax Court?

If you are dealing with a tax liability issue with the IRS and you are unable to reach a satisfactory resolution working with the IRS directly, then you may need to seek relief in the United States Tax Court. The U.S. Tax Court has jurisdiction over matters involving individual and business tax liability under the Internal Revenue Code, and, while individual taxpayers have the option to appear before the court pro se, most Tax Court litigants will benefit greatly from hiring a Board Certified Tax Attorney to represent them.

What Is The United States Tax Court?

The United States Tax Court is a Federal trial court. Because it is a court of record, a record is made of all its proceedings. It is an independent judicial forum. It is not controlled by or connected with the IRS. Congress pursuant to its authority under Article 3 of the U.S. Constitution created the Tax Court as an independent judicial authority for taxpayers disputing certain IRS determinations. The Tax Court’s authority to resolve these disputes is called its jurisdiction. Generally, a taxpayer may file a petition in the Tax Court in response to certain IRS determinations. A taxpayer who begins such a proceeding is known as the “petitioner”, and the Commissioner of Internal Revenue is the “respondent”.

Although the Tax Court is headquartered in Washington, D.C., its judges preside at trials in 60 U.S. cities, and its Special Trial Judges preside at trials in those cities and 15 additional cities.

How Do You Start A Case In The U.S. Tax Court?

If a taxpayer and the IRS do not agree to the findings of a tax examination, the IRS will send a notice proposing a tax adjustment (known as a “statutory notice of deficiency”). The statutory notice of deficiency gives you as the taxpayer the right to challenge the proposed adjustment in the U.S. Tax Court before paying it. To do this, you need to file a petition within 90 days of the date of the notice (150 days if the notice is addressed to you outside the United States). If you filed your petition on time, the Tax Court will eventually schedule your case for trial at the designation place of trial you set forth in your petition. Prior to trial you should have the opportunity to seek a settlement with IRS Area Counsel and in certain cases, such settlement negotiations could be delegated to the IRS Office Of Appeals.

If there is still disagreement and the case does go to trial, you will have the opportunity to present your case before a Tax Court judge. The judge after hearing your case and reviewing the record and any post-trial briefs will render a decision in the form of an Opinion. It could take as much as two years after trial before an Opinion issued. If the Opinion is not appealed to a Circuit Court Of Appeals, then the proposed deficiency under the Opinion is final and your account will be sent to IRS Collections.

IRS Area Counsel are experienced trial attorneys working for the IRS whose job is to litigate cases in the U.S. Tax Court and look out for the best interests of the Federal government. Therefore, to level the playing field, it would be prudent for a taxpayer to hire qualified tax counsel as soon as possible to seek a mutually acceptable resolution without the need for trial, and if that does not happen, to already have the legal expertise in place to vigorously defend you at trial.

Reasons To Hire A Board Certified Tax Attorney

For a professional to be good at what he/she does, training and experience are necessary. The more real work experience you get, the more skilled you will be at your job. Most people do not have the adequate legal and tax knowledge to attend hearings or go to U.S. Tax Court without a Board Certified Tax Attorney present. Here are some other benefits of working with one.

Peace of mind

Although you can represent yourself in U.S. Tax Court, you may end up regretting it, especially if the outcome is not good. Having a Board Certified Tax Attorney with you will give you peace of mind irrespective of the case you are faced with. You can be confident that your case is being handled by someone who understands your legal and tax problems better and they will handle your case with utmost professionalism.  Additionally, resolving complex tax issues requires much more than simply finding the relevant provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. A Board Certified Tax Attorney will be able to conduct the necessary legal research to build a convincing (and legally-sound) argument for the best possible result.

Avoid incriminating yourself

Seasoned tax attorneys will spend time coaching their clients on how to behave and speak while in the U.S. Tax Court. This is important because the behavior and candor of a taxpayer in the courtroom can have tremendous effects on the case. A Board Certified Tax Attorney will go out of his/her way to ensure that you do not incriminate yourself whenever you speak in the Tax Court.

Reduce risks

Getting representation from a Board Certified Tax Attorney will boost the chances of keep your case on track to reaching the best possible result. A Board Certified Tax Attorney has experience handling tax cases in the U.S. Tax Court and they will handle any emerging issues before they become major problems for your case. When things get tough, you will be sure that your tax lawyer has the expertise and specialized training to handle the problem.

Conversant with all court procedures and rules

After filing a petition in the U.S. Tax Court, there are various time, form, and other procedural requirements that apply. An attorney who regularly practices before the Tax Court will be intimately familiar with these issues and will be able to ensure that procedural miscues do not jeopardize your case.  Adhering to these procedures is crucial to the outcome of your case.

During your U.S. Tax Court case, the IRS through its counsel may file various motions to try to resolve the case with a finding of liability prior to trial. A Board Certified Tax Attorney will be able to interpret the substantive and strategic intent behind these motions and file appropriate responses with the Tax Court.

In many cases, issues that require resolution in the U.S. Tax Court will have ancillary legal implications as well. A Board Certified Tax Attorney will be able to identify these issues and address them before they lead to unnecessary costs and exposure.

Save you money

Given the costly legal fees that people pay, it is difficult to believe that a Board Certified Tax Attorney can help you save cash. Most cases filed with the U.S. Tax Court settle. Should you settle your case? If so, when? A Board Certified Tax Attorney will be able to rely on the insights gained from numerous prior U.S. Tax Court cases to help you make informed decisions regarding settling or taking your case to trial.

What Should You Do?

When faced with litigation in the U.S. Tax Court, you need a tax lawyer by your side. Level the playing field and gain the upper hand by engaging a tax attorney at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Los Angeles and other California locations. We can come up with solutions and strategies to these risks and protect you and your business to maximize your net profits. Additionally, if you are involved in cannabis, check out what a cannabis tax attorney can do for you.  And if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

 

IRS offshore cannabis bitcoin investigation

IRS Establishes New Criminal Investigation Group Using Big Data Analytics to Crack Down on Offshore, Bitcoin and Cannabis Tax Evasion

Your Right to Challenge the IRS’ Position and Be Heard

Taxpayers have the right to challenge the IRS’s position and be heard. This is one of ten of rights listed in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which clearly outlines the fundamental rights of every taxpayer.

The IRS Says That Taxpayers Have The Right To:

  • Raise objections.
  • Provide additional documentation in response to formal or proposed IRS actions.
  • Expect the IRS to consider their objections timely.
  • Have the IRS consider any supporting documentation promptly.
  • Receive a response if the IRS does not agree with their position.

While the IRS contemplates these rights are in place to assure a fairly administered tax system, in reality that is hardly the case as many people coming to me have expressed their unresolved tax problems and how the IRS has not helped them or is treating them unfairly not giving proper credence to their situation.

When Is The Best Time to Bring In A Board Certified Tax Attorney To Resolve Your Tax Problems?

First and foremost, you need a tax lawyer if you have a dispute with the IRS or any State Tax Agency. Most tax disputes arise in the form of an audit of one or several past tax returns. If the IRS notifies you of an audit, you should hire a tax attorney immediately. Your tax lawyer can communicate with the IRS on your behalf, be present during your audit and help negotiate a settlement, if necessary. Having experienced legal counsel helps ensure that you don’t overpay as a result of your audit.

In some instances, taxpayers ignore letters and warnings from the IRS because they’re scared or don’t know how to respond. In those cases, the IRS may have no choice but to threaten you with criminal charges for tax evasion. If you learn that you’re the target of an IRS criminal investigation, you’ll want to hire a tax lawyer—and do it quickly.

Your tax lawyer can reassure the IRS that you’re taking its investigation seriously, work with the IRS in an effort to help you avoid criminal charges and represent you in court if you are charged with a tax crime.

Second, a tax lawyer’s help can also be invaluable if you’re facing a complicated legal tax situation. This might include instances where:

  • You’re starting a new company and are trying to decide between the various ways to structure your company
  • You’re the executor of an estate and need advice regarding whether and how much is owed in estate taxes
  • You want to challenge the IRS on a tax decision or appeal an audit
  • You receive a Collections Notice telling you that tax is due and/or threatening collection action
  • You want to sue the IRS
  • You think or know that you’ve committed tax fraud

Most people have tax problems because they did not plan how to do business, how to record transactions or how to account and substantiate their expenses or they have taken inappropriate or unjustified risky positions on their tax returns. Being proactive by engaging a tax lawyer to avoid having these problems in the first place would be wise to pursue. Additionally hiring tax counsel early on should assure that you do not blow any appeals or communicate something to the IRS that you later wished you never did.

Questions to Ask When Interviewing Tax Lawyer

At your initial meeting with a lawyer, you’ll want to share the specifics of your situation and then ask the lawyer about his or her experience handling similar matters. Know that lawyers are bound by strict confidentiality rules. Even if you end up hiring a different attorney, the lawyers you meet with cannot share the information they learned with the IRS or anyone else.

Some questions to consider asking your lawyer during your initial meeting:

  • How long have you been practicing law?
  • Do you just practice tax law, or do you also work in other areas of practice?
  • What are your credentials as a tax specialist (such as Board Certified Tax Law Designation, LL.M.(Tax) Degree or C.P.A. License)?
  • Have you previously handled tax situations similar to mine?
  • What’s your assessment of my situation? What works for me and against me?
  • If I hired you, what course of action would you recommend?
  • Do you charge a flat fee or hourly rate, or do you use some other billing structure?
  • Can you estimate my total legal fees?

What Should You Do?

If you have outstanding tax problems or liabilities with the IRS or any State Tax Agency, protect yourself and preserve your right to challenge the tax agency’s position and be heard. Tax problems are usually a serious matter and must be handled appropriately so it’s important to that you’ve hired the best lawyer for your particular situation. The tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), San Diego County (Carlsbad) and elsewhere in California are highly skilled in handling tax matters and can effectively represent you 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, unreported foreign income and unreported crypto-currency income.

Jeffrey B. Kahn, Esq. and Gary Sussman Discusses the Lifetime Estate Gift Annuity, the Building Blocks to Financial Security and the “Victory Tax” On ESPN Radio – Podcast

Business Consulting, 401(k) Plans and IRS Audits -What Need To Know, On ESPN Radio

Jeffrey B. Kahn, Esq. and Windus A. Fernandez Brinkkord Discusses Business Consulting, 401(k) Plans and IRS Audits -What Need To Know, On ESPN Radio – August 12, 2016 Show

Jeffrey B. Kahn, Esq. and Windus A. Fernandez Brinkkord Discusses Business Consulting, 401(k) Plans and IRS Audits -What Need To Know, On ESPN Radio – August 12, 2016 Show

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Special Guest Chuck Hunter, CEO at Multivariable Solutions
  1. 401(k) Plans
  1. IRS Tax Audits – What You Need To Know
  1. Questions:

 

  1. What exactly are the pros and cons of leaving my 401(k) with my previous employer?
  2. How accurate are the do-it-yourself type software that allow you to calculate and file your taxes after answering a few questions? Why is it more beneficial to have a tax professional prepare your taxes as oppose to said software?

 

Jeff states: Good afternoon! Yes sometimes we just have to take the money and run!

Welcome to Inside Advantage – Your Financial And Tax Radio Show.

This is Board Certified Tax Attorney, Jeffrey B. Kahn, the principal attorney of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. and head of the KahnTaxLaw team.

Windus states:

And this is Licensed Financial Planner, Windus A. Fernandez Brinkkord, Senior Vice President Of Investments at Trilogy Financial Services.

You are listening to our weekly radio show where we talk everything about finances and taxes from the ESPN 1700 AM Studio in San Diego, California.

Jeff states:

When it comes to knowing tax laws and paying taxes, let’s face it — everyone in the U.S. is either in tax trouble, on their way to tax trouble, or trying to avoid tax trouble!

Windus states:

And whether you are on the rebound or flying high, we have the information you need to make sound financial decisions and map out your strategy for success.

Jeff states:

Our show is broadcasted each Friday at 2:00PM Pacific Time and replays are available on demand by logging into the KahnTaxLaw website at www.kahntaxlaw.com.

Jeff states:

For today’s show we have coming up:

Segment 2 material: 401(k) Plans

Windus states:

Also coming up is:

Segment 3 material: IRS Tax Audits and What You Should Be Aware Of

And of course towards the end of our show, we will be answering some of your questions.

Jeff starts chit chat with Windus.

Jeff states: So for today’s special guest:

We would like to introduce Chuck Hunter! Chuck is the Founder and CEO of Multivariable Solutions, a domestic and international Business Consulting Firm located here in the Greater San Diego area.

 

  1. So Chuck, tell us a little bit about what you do?
  2. What is your goal or mission at Multivariable Solutions?
  3. What prompted you to found your own company?
  4. What would you say your niche market is? What types of companies tend to come to you the most, whether it’s based on size, growth goals, or various sectors…
  5. How long have you been with Multivariable Solutions? What had you done in your career before that prepared you to take on the role of CEO?
  6. Most companies and consultants focus on one or two variables whereas Multivariable Solutions looks across a wide spectrum. What exactly do you look for?

Jeff states: Well it’s time for a break but stay tuned because we are going to tell you all about 401(k) Plans.

You are listening to Board Certified Tax Attorney, Jeffrey B. Kahn, and Licensed Financial Planner, Windus A. Fernandez Brinkkord on Inside Advantage on ESPN.

BREAK

Welcome back.  This is Inside Advantage – Your Financial And Tax Radio Show on ESPN and you are listening to Board Certified Tax Attorney, Jeffrey B. Kahn, and Licensed Financial Planner, Windus A. Fernandez Brinkkord.

And be aware of the special offer that Windus has for you: Windus PLUG: Trilogy Financial Services will provide you with a retirement cash flow analysis which is a $600.00 value for free as long as you mention the Inside Advantage Radio Show when you call to make an appointment. Call my office to make an appointment to meet with me, Windus A. Fernandez Brinkkord.  The number to call is 858.314.5169. That is 858.314.5169. Or visit www.guideyourstory.com. NPC DOES NOT PROVIDE TAX NOR LEGAL ADVICE.

 

401(k) Plans

Some states, including California, are implementing regulation requiring companies of 5 or more people to offer retirement plans.  In California, this is called the Retirement Savings Trust Act.  The reason this is being required is:

The California State Treasurer states that based on their research fewer than 45% of California’s private workforce has access to a work sponsored retirement plan in the age group of 25-64.  This is worse than the nationwide average of 53%.  This is specifically only in the public sector.

To go a step further, in the public and private sectors, nearly ½ of all Californian’s are currently on track to retire with income below 200% of the federal poverty level of $22,000 per year for one person.  *This information is coming from Trinet, an HR retirement planning company’s site.  Trinet is one of many companies that help work on this here in San Diego.

The Secure Choice Retirement Savings is where companies that do not set up a plan of their own, will have to direct employees.  The scary part of this is that for the first three years contributions could be kept in Treasury bills, regardless of your age, until more extensive models can be built!  Better to have a large company like Fidelity or T. Rowe Price manage this then to have the treasurer put together a board that is going to take 3 years to put proper investment models in place.

*Chuck, with the work that you do, do you recommend companies start plans for their employees?  When you do, what type of plans do you typically recommend?

 

There is also a new emerging “robo” 401k platform employers can implement.  I have to say, when reading about this, a 401k plan is not the place for “robo” implementation.  I can tell you that the IRS could have a field day auditing plans that are incorrectly established and 401k plans need to be very specific to the company.

Here are some main points for plans to remember:
*Employees with plan balances of under $5,000 can be forced out of the plan
*The fund line up should be reviewed on a schedule and there should be defined parameters for which funds are brought into the plan and removed from the plan.
*401k plans are required to have a diverse line up for employees to select from.
*Target date funds are becoming more popular and are often now the QDIA
*QDIA is the Qualified Default Investment for when an employee is auto enrolled in the plan but does not go in after to elect an allocation.
*Why might an employer elect to do auto enrollment?…because they want to contribute themselves without actually matching!  J

Why a 401k plan over a SIMPLE plan.
*401k plans allow for employers to be selective about who is in the plan and match in a more creative fashion.  Sometimes in a benefit to the employee and sometimes not.  SIMPLE plans are “simpler” to maintain annually BUT they aren’t always on the best platforms for the employee and some have fees that just aren’t that transparent or favorable.  The 401k plan can be a very powerful tool and if put in place correctly, can be very inexpensive to the employee for long term retirement savings.  And in case anyone out there receives a 403 b 2 notice, THIS IS a key notice regarding the fees you pay in the 401k plan.

Top Company 401k plan issues:

  1. Not removing or encouraging x-employees to rollover their funds
    2. Too much company stock or TOO much risk options without enough conservative options for employees.
    3.  Not remitting money in a timely fashion
    4.  Being “top heavy” having to force money out of the plan for your top employees.  Being Top heavy means earning more than $120,000 in income or being more than a 5% owner in the company.

 

Windus PLUG: Trilogy Financial Services will provide you with a retirement cash flow analysis which is a $600.00 value for free as long as you mention the Inside Advantage Radio Show when you call to make an appointment. Call my office to make an appointment to meet with me, Windus A. Fernandez Brinkkord.  The number to call is 858.314.5169. That is 858.314.5169. Or visit www.guideyourstory.com. NPC DOES NOT PROVIDE TAX NOR LEGAL ADVICE.

 

Stay tuned because after the break we are going to tell you IRS Tax Auditing and What You Should Be Aware Of.

You are listening to Board Certified Tax Attorney, Jeffrey B. Kahn, and Licensed Financial Planner, Windus A. Fernandez Brinkkord on Inside Advantage on ESPN.

BREAK

Jeff states: Welcome back.  This is Inside Advantage – Your Financial And Tax Radio Show on ESPN and you are listening to Board Certified Tax Attorney, Jeffrey B. Kahn, and Licensed Financial Planner, Windus A. Fernandez Brinkkord.

Calling into the studio from my Walnut Creek Office is my associate attorney, Amy Spivey.

Chit chat with Amy

And be aware of the special Offer that I have for you: PLUG: The Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. will provide you with a Tax Resolution Plan which is a $500.00 value for free as long as you mention the Inside Advantage Radio Show when you call to make an appointment.  Call my office to make an appointment to meet with me, Jeffrey Kahn, right here in San Diego or at one of my other offices close to you. The number to call is 866.494.6829. That is 866.494.6829.

 

Jeff states: So I don’t know of anyone who enjoys being audited by the IRS.  The IRS randomly selects tax returns for audit each year.

Jeff asks: Amy can you go over the deadlines that the IRS has if looking to audit a tax return?

Amy replies: Now the IRS does have a deadline by which they must complete an audit of your tax return.  Normally that deadline is three years after the due date of the tax return.  So a 2013 income tax return that was filed by the April 15, 2014 filing deadline, the IRS would have until April 15, 2017 to audit that tax return.

Jeff states: Well here we are August 12, 2016 but do not relax so quickly.  If you filed an extension for your 2013 tax income return, then you just extended the IRS’ time to audit to October 15, 2017.

Windus asks: Could the government have an even longer time to audit a tax return?

Amy replies: The government has an even longer time of six years where you omitted more than 20% of your income on your tax return and if you never filed a tax return or you filed a fraudulent tax return, there is no deadline for the government and you can be audited any time!

Windus asks: Amy, what are the different types of audits that the IRS conducts?

[Amy responds allowing Jeff to comment before proceeding to the next.]

Correspondence Audit: This is the least severe type of audit.  It involves the IRS sending a letter in the mail requesting more information about part of a tax return. For instance, the agency may have questions regarding charitable deductions and request you send in receipts to substantiate your deduction. “It’s the lowest level of the audits.”  “If you have the receipts or information it’s generally not an issue.”  If your tax return is legitimate and you have the data to back up any claims on your return, you may want to handle the situation on your own. BUT If you don’t have the receipts or information, then you should have a tax representation professional deal with the IRS because you could face fines, penalties and interest if you end up owing money.

Office Audit: If the IRS has more questions about your return, then you’ll get a letter in the mail inviting you into an IRS office for the audit. The office audit is more serious, so you should always have a tax representation professional to come with you or turn over the audit representation to him.  A tax representation professional can gather information in advance of the meeting and make sure it is complete so that the office audit can be wrapped up with the IRS as quickly as possible.  “If the IRS still needs additional records, you’ll have time to supply the missing information.”

Field Audit: This is the most serious type of audit and involves the IRS visiting you at your home or office. “The reason the field audit is more serious is the IRS auditor will ask to see other things.”  “They don’t want to limit it to particular items.” While there are much fewer field audits than office or correspondence audits, I wouldn’t let any client go into a field audit without representation. “It’s the most serious level of audit. If they are coming out to you, they are looking for something.”

Jeff states: So everyone wants to know, what sets off alarms at the IRS? Well for one thing it pays to keep in mind these 10 “red flags” that could increase the chance you’ll be targeted for an audit.

[Windus to read off each flag followed by Amy explanation and Jeff comment.]

  1. High income. The audit rate for 2011 tax returns, which was about 1.11% overall, shot to 3.93% for taxpayers with income of $200,000 or more. That’s almost one out of every 25 returns. The IRS tends to chase the “big money,” and while that’s no reason to earn less, you should realize that higher income exposes you to a greater audit risk.
  1. Unreported income. The IRS computers match up the income listed on W-2 and 1099 forms with the income reported on individual returns. You’re likely to draw IRS scrutiny if you don’t report all of your taxable income or if you underreport the total, even if an omission is inadvertent. Check your tax forms to ensure the information is correct.
  1. Large charitable gifts. Besides providing personal satisfaction, deductions for charitable gifts can offset highly taxed income on your return. But the IRS may become suspicious if the amount you deduct is disproportionate to your income. In particular, make sure that deductions for gifts of property are legitimate and include an independent appraisal when required.
  1. Home office deductions. If you qualify, you can write off your direct costs of using part of your home as an office, plus a percentage of everyday living expenses such as property taxes, mortgage interest, utilities, phone bills, insurance, etc. But the basic rule is that you must use the office “regularly and exclusively” as your principal place of business. Simply doing work at home when your main office is elsewhere won’t cut it.
  1. Rental real estate losses. Generally, “passive activity” rules prevent investors from deducting losses on rental real estate. But a special exception allows a loss deduction of up to $25,000 for “active participants,” subject to a phase-out between $100,000 and $150,000 of adjusted gross income (AGI). Another exception applies to qualified real estate professionals. The IRS may zero in on taxpayers claiming losses under either exception. This aspect of the tax law can get very technical so you should inquire with a tax professional to see if you qualify.
  1. Travel and entertainment expenses. This is often a key audit target. IRS agents particularly look for self-employed individuals and other business owners who claim unusually large write-offs for travel and entertainment expenses and meals. Note that the tax law includes strict substantiation rules that must be followed in order to deduct any of these expenses.
  1. Business use of cars. Another area ripe for abuse by taxpayers is the use of a vehicle for business purposes. The annual amount you can claim via depreciation deductions for the vehicle, based on percentage of business use, is limited by so-called “luxury car” rules. IRS agents have been trained to ferret out taxpayer records that don’t measure up. Another red flag is a claim for 100% business use of a vehicle, especially if another vehicle isn’t available for personal use.
  1. Hobby losses. As a general rule, you can deduct expenses for a hobby only up to the amount of the income it produces. You normally can’t claim a loss for the activity, unless your involvement rises to a level of a bona fide business. Usually, an activity is presumed not to be a hobby if you show a profit in any three out of the past five years, but the IRS can refute this presumption.
  1. Foreign bank accounts. The IRS has started clamping down on taxpayers with offshore accounts in “tax havens” in which banks do not disclose account information. Failure to report foreign income can trigger steep penalties and interest. If you have foreign bank accounts, make sure you properly report the income when you file your return.
  1. Cash businesses. If you operate a small business in which you’re largely paid in cash—for example, if you own a car wash, restaurant or bar, or a hair or nail salon—the IRS is more likely to examine your return. Past history indicates that cash-heavy taxpayers may underreport their income or, in some cases, not report any income at all. Accordingly, the IRS remains on high alert.

Jeff states: These red flags don’t mean you should shy away from claiming the tax breaks you rightly deserve. But when the IRS knocks on your door you need to be prepared. Which is why …

PLUG: The Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. will provide you with a Tax Resolution Plan which is a $500.00 value for free as long as you mention the Inside Advantage Radio Show when you call to make an appointment.  Call my office to make an appointment to meet with me, Jeffrey Kahn, right here in San Diego or at one of my other offices close to you. The number to call is 866.494.6829. That is 866.494.6829.

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

Stay tuned as we will be taking some of your questions. You are listening to Board Certified Tax Attorney, Jeffrey B. Kahn, and Licensed Financial Planner, Windus A. Fernandez Brinkkord on Inside Advantage on ESPN.

BREAK

Jeff states: Welcome back.  This is Inside Advantage – Your Financial And Tax Radio Show on ESPN and you are listening to Board Certified Tax Attorney, Jeffrey B. Kahn, and Licensed Financial Planner, Windus A. Fernandez Brinkkord.

And Windus and I always pleased to make our offers to our listeners where… PLUG: The Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. will provide you with a Tax Resolution Plan which is a $500.00 value for free as long as you mention the Inside Advantage Radio Show when you call to make an appointment.  Call my office to make an appointment to meet with me, Jeffrey Kahn, right here in San Diego or at one of my other offices close to you. The number to call is 866.494.6829. That is 866.494.6829.

Windus states:  Windus PLUG: Trilogy Financial Services will provide you with a retirement cash flow analysis which is a $600.00 value for free as long as you mention the Inside Advantage Radio Show when you call to make an appointment. Call my office to make an appointment to meet with me, Windus A. Fernandez Brinkkord.  The number to call is 858.314.5169. That is 858.314.5169.  Or visit www.guideyourstory.com. NPC DOES NOT PROVIDE TAX NOR LEGAL ADVICE.

You should also know that the securities and advisory services are offered through National Planning Corporation (NPC) Member FINRA, SIPC, and a Registered Investment Advisor.  Trilogy Financial Services and NPC are separate and unrelated Entities.

Jeff states: And again I would like to thank our special guest, Chuck Hunter, CEO at Multivariable Solutions for being on the show today.  Chuck as our special guest you have the honors of drawing the questions from our listeners for us to answer.  OK Chuck, what questions have you pulled for us to answer?

Question: What exactly are the pros and cons of leaving my 401(k) with my previous employer?

Windus answers.

Question: How accurate are the do-it-yourself type software that allow you to calculate and file your taxes after answering a few questions? Why is it more beneficial to have a tax professional prepare your taxes as oppose to said software?

Jeff answers.

Jeff states: Well we are reaching the end of our show.

Windus states: Have a great day everyone!