Getting Ready For Tax Season 2023 – What You Need To Know About Reporting Cryptocurrency

Getting Ready For Tax Season 2023 – What You Need To Know About Reporting Cryptocurrency. 

Cryptocurrency / Bitcoin – Is this the 21st century answer to hiding assets in Swiss bank accounts? 

The IRS thinks this is the case which is why the IRS has stepped up its investigation efforts to uncover non-compliant taxpayers just like the IRS successfully did in its investigation of the Swiss banks leading Congress to enact the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”).  FATCA forces foreign banks to disclose information on U.S. account holders which the IRS receives and matches the information reported by U.S. taxpayers.  No longer can taxpayers avoid reporting income on their foreign bank accounts.  No longer can taxpayers avoid disclosing their foreign bank accounts.

With more businesses willing to accept and transact in cryptocurrencies, the absence of specific rules related to the reporting of business income from cryptocurrency transactions has created a “tax gap” that the IRS intends to close.

The IRS now groups cryptocurrency, convertible virtual currency, stablecoins and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as “digital assets”.

How To Report Cryptocurrency On Your 2022 Income Tax Return. 

The IRS treats cryptocurrencies like property, meaning that anytime you spend, exchange, or sell your cryptocurrency, you create a taxable event. So just like stocks, you would look at how much you paid for your cryptocurrency, which is the cost basis, and the market value at the time you spent it or sales price when you sold it. That difference if disposed at a gain is subject to tax.  If disposed at a loss, that loss can offset your capital gains.  You would report these transactions on Form 8949, Sales And Other Dispositions Of Capital Assets.

In determining the cost basis of the cryptocurrency disposed, you get to pick and choose which cryptocurrency acquisition was the source of the disposition.  To show the smallest gain (or largest loss), you should pick the most expensive acquisition of that cryptocurrency later disposed.  This accounting method is known as “HIFO” accounting.  HIFO stands for “highest in, first out”.   By keeping detailed records of your cryptocurrency transactions and cost basis to employ this method of accounting, a taxpayer should be able to save on taxes.

How IRS Targets Cryptocurrency.

The IRS has one of the most extensive data collections in the world. Traditionally its power to enforce has come through the matching of data. For example, you received a W-2 Form from your employer showing how much you earned. That same form is submitted by your employer to the IRS. Now the IRS can match your return to that form to make sure you are reporting the income. The same thing goes for 1099 forms showing your earnings from miscellaneous income, gambling winnings, interest and dividend income, sales of assets, deductions, and so on.

But with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, there is no such third-party reporting.  Digital exchanges are not broker-regulated by the IRS. Exchanges do not issue a 1099 form, nor do they calculate gains or cost basis for the trader.

On May 20, 2021, U.S. Department Of Treasury released a report that included a set of proposed tax compliance initiatives with the goal of closing the gap between taxes owed and taxes actually paid. These measures are encompassed in the American Families Plan, which establishes rules for the proper reporting of cryptocurrency including a new rule that would require businesses to file a current transaction report when they receive cryptocurrency worth more than $10,000, just as most businesses are required to report cash payments in these amounts.

On August 10, 2021, H.R. 3684, known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, was passed by the Senate.  Although this bill has yet to be considered by the House of Representatives, it includes a provision that would require broker reporting of crypto-asset transfers. Section 80603 of the bill imposes new crypto-assets information reporting requirements on brokers. The Sec. 6045(c)(1) definition of “broker” is expanded to include anyone who for consideration effectuates “transfers of digital assets on behalf of another person”.  For these purposes, “digital asset” is defined as “any digital representation of value which is recorded on a cryptographically secured distributed ledger or any similar technology.”  Furthermore, the bill would amend Sec. 6045A to require brokers to provide information returns reporting any transfers of digital assets to accounts that are not maintained by a broker.

But the IRS does not stop there …

Chainalysis Reactor Software

The IRS and other federal agencies want to catch up on, and make sense of, the worldwide web of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.  Chainalysis is a company that created a cryptocurrency-tracing software dubbed “Reactor” which is being used by at least 10 federal agencies including the IRS.  The IRS Cyber Crimes Unit (CCU), a five-year-old division of its larger Criminal Investigation (CI) wing and the leader in the IRS’ cryptocurrency crimes investigations, uses this software as a tool to help identify taxpayers who could be non-compliant in the tax laws or involved in criminal activity.

Virtual currency is an ongoing focus area for IRS Criminal Investigation.

In 2018 the IRS announced a Virtual Currency Compliance Campaign to address tax noncompliance related to the use of virtual currency through outreach and examinations of taxpayers. The IRS will remain actively engaged in addressing non-compliance related to virtual currency transactions through a variety of efforts, ranging from taxpayer education to audits to criminal investigations.

IRS Access To Cryptocurrency Transactions.

A John Doe Summons issued by IRS was ruled enforceable by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley in November 2017 (United States v. Coinbase, Inc., United States District Court, Northern District Of California, Case No.17-cv-01431).  Coinbase located in San Francisco is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States.  Under the order, Coinbase will be required to turn over the names, addresses and tax identification numbers on 14,355 account holders. The Court has ordered Coinbase to produce the following customer information: (1) taxpayer ID number, (2) name, (3) birth date, (4) address, (5) records of account activity, including transaction logs or other records identifying the date, amount, and type of transaction (purchase/sale/exchange), the post transaction balance, and the names of counterparties to the transaction, and (6) all periodic statements of account or invoices (or the equivalent).

ON MARCH 16, 2018 COINBASE COMPLIED WITH THIS SUMMONS AND TURNED OVER DATA OF 14,355 ACCOUNT HOLDERS TO IRS.

Now while this net may not pick up taxpayers whose accounts have less than $20,000 in any one transaction type (buy, sell, send, or receive) in any one year from 2013 to 2015, it should be clear that this is the first step for the IRS to crush non-compliance for all taxpayers involved with cryptocurrency just like the IRS was successful in battling taxpayers having undisclosed foreign bank accounts.

10,000 Cryptocurrency Owners Receiving Warning Letters From The IRS

After years of analyzing data from third parties involved in the cryptocurrency exchanges, the IRS announced in a press release on July 26, 2019 that it has started sending letters to cryptocurrency owners advising them to report their cryptocurrency transactions and pay their taxes. More than 10,000 taxpayers have been identified by IRS as being involved in cryptocurrency transactions but who the IRS believes may not have been compliant in reporting these transactions on their tax returns.

Taxpayers who do not properly report the income tax consequences of virtual currency transactions are, when appropriate, liable for tax, penalties and interest. In some cases, taxpayers could be subject to criminal prosecution.

Notices Being Sent To Taxpayers Are The First Step In IRS Enforcement Action

The IRS is using three types of notices to send to more than 10,000 taxpayers by the end of August 2019 – notices 61736174 or 6174-A. All three notices indicate the IRS has information that the taxpayer receiving the notice currently has or has had virtual currency. However, it is Letter 6173 that is most serious as it requires a signature from the recipient under perjury that they are compliant with the U.S. tax code or requiring taxpayers to respond to the IRS and either file delinquent returns for tax years 2013 through 2017 or amend previously filed returns and include the applicable forms or schedules reporting cryptocurrency transactions. If you receive a Letter 6173, it should be a virtual certainty that you will be selected for examination.

If you receive Letter 6173, you should consult with a tax attorney as the submission of a statement signed under penalties of perjury that is false can result in serious consequences including criminal prosecution.

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

On the 2022 Form 1040, you are required to answer the following checkbox question:

At any time during 2022, did you: (a) receive (as a reward, award or payment for property or services); or (b) sell, exchange, gift or otherwise dispose of a digital asset (or a financial interest in a digital asset)?   ◊ Yes            ◊ No

Taxpayers will now be required to check the appropriate box to answer the virtual currency question. This question has been on individual income tax returns starting with 2019; however, the term “digital assets” has replaced “virtual currencies,” a term used in previous years.  This requirement is similar to how the IRS includes questions on Schedule B inquiring whether a taxpayer has foreign bank accounts.

Normally, a taxpayer must check the “yes” box if they:

  • Received digital assets as payment for property or services provided;
  • Transferred digital assets for free (without receiving any consideration) as a bona fide gift;
  • Received digital assets resulting from a reward or award;
  • Received new digital assets resulting from mining, staking and similar activities;
  • Received digital assets resulting from a hard fork (a branching of a cryptocurrency’s blockchain that splits a single cryptocurrency into two);
  • Disposed of digital assets in exchange for property or services;
  • Disposed of a digital asset in exchange or trade for another digital asset;
  • Sold a digital asset; or
  • Otherwise disposed of any other financial interest in a digital asset.

Normally, a taxpayer who merely owned digital assets during 2022 can check the “No” box as long as they did not engage in any transactions involving digital assets during the year. They can also check the “No” box if their activities were limited to one or more of the following:

  • Holding digital assets in a wallet or account;
  • Transferring digital assets from one wallet or account they own or control to another wallet or account they own or control; or
  • Purchasing digital assets using U.S. or other real currency, including through electronic platforms such as PayPal and Venmo.

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.

Penalties For Filing A False Income Tax Return Or Under-reporting Income

Failure to report all the money you make is a main reason folks end up facing an IRS auditor. Carelessness on your tax return might get you whacked with a 20% penalty. But that’s nothing compared to the 75% civil penalty for willful tax fraud and possibly facing criminal charges of tax evasion that if convicted could land you in jail.

Criminal Fraud – The law defines that any person who willfully attempts in any manner to evade or defeat any tax under the Internal Revenue Code or the payment thereof is, in addition to other penalties provided by law, guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, can be fined not more than $100,000 ($500,000 in the case of a corporation), or imprisoned not more than five years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution (Code Sec. 7201).

The term “willfully” has been interpreted to require a specific intent to violate the law (U.S. v. Pomponio, 429 U.S. 10 (1976)). The term “willfulness” is defined as the voluntary, intentional violation of a known legal duty (Cheek v. U.S., 498 U.S. 192 (1991)).

And even if the IRS is not looking to put you in jail, they will be looking to hit you with a big tax bill with hefty penalties.

Civil Fraud – Normally the IRS will impose a negligence penalty of 20% of the underpayment of tax (Code Sec. 6662(b)(1) and 6662(b)(2)) but violations of the Internal Revenue Code with the intent to evade income taxes may result in a civil fraud penalty. In lieu of the 20% negligence penalty, the civil fraud penalty is 75% of the underpayment of tax (Code Sec. 6663). The imposition of the Civil Fraud Penalty essentially doubles your liability to the IRS! And this is why the IRS is first sending Letter 6173 requiring a signature from the recipient under perjury that the taxpayer is compliant with the U.S. tax code BEFORE the IRS then decides to audit the taxpayer.

Voluntary Disclosure – The Way To Avoid Criminal Fines & Punishment

The IRS has not yet announced a specific tax amnesty for people who failed to report their gains and income from Bitcoin and other virtual currencies but under the existing Voluntary Disclosure Program, non-compliant taxpayers can come forward to avoid criminal prosecution and negotiate lower penalties.

What Should You Do?

With only several hundred people reporting their crypto gains each year since bitcoin’s launch, the IRS suspects that many crypto users have been evading taxes by not reporting crypto transactions on their tax returns.  And now that like-exchange treatment is prohibited on transactions that occur after 2017, now is the ideal time to be proactive and come forward with voluntary disclosure to lock in your deferred gains through 2017, eliminate your risk for criminal prosecution, and minimize your civil penalties.  Don’t delay because once the IRS has targeted you for investigation – even it’s is a routine random audit – it will be too late voluntarily come forward.

Take control of this risk and engage a bitcoin tax attorney at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), the Bay Area (San Francisco, San Jose and Walnut Creek) and other California locations.  We can come up with solutions and strategies to these risks and protect you and your business to mitigate criminal prosecution, seek abatement of penalties, and minimize your tax liability.  Also, if you are involved in cannabis, check out what our cannabis tax attorney can do for you.

 

Starting January 1, 2024 – Banks & Financial Institutions To Report Beneficial Ownership Information Of Entity Accountholders

Starting January 1, 2024 – Banks & Financial Institutions To Report Beneficial Ownership Information Of Entity Accountholders

The Federal government in its efforts to crack down on illicit finance and enhance transparency on September 29, 2022 issued a final ruling establishing a beneficial ownership information reporting requirement, pursuant to the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA). This rule will require most corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities created in or registered to do business in the United States to report information about their beneficial owners – the persons who ultimately own or control the company – to the United States Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

Designed to protect U.S. national security and strengthen the integrity and transparency of the U.S. financial system, FINCEN stated that this ruling will help to stop criminal actors, including oligarchs, kleptocrats, drug traffickers, human traffickers, and those who would use anonymous shell companies to hide their illicit proceeds.

“For too long, it has been far too easy for criminals, Russian oligarchs, and other bad actors to fund their illicit activity by hiding and moving money through anonymous shell companies and other corporate structures right here in the United States,” said Acting FinCEN Director Himamauli Das. “This final rule is a significant step forward in our efforts to support national security, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies in their work to curb illicit activities. The final rule will also play an important role in protecting American taxpayers and businesses who play by the rules, but are repeatedly hurt by criminals that use companies for illegal reasons.”

Reporting Companies

The CTA broadly defines a “reporting company” as any corporation, limited liability company, or other similar entity created by filing a document with the secretary of state or similar office in any state or territory or with a federally recognized Indian Tribe, or formed under the laws of a foreign country and registered to do business in the United States.

Entities Not Required To Be Reported

There are certain entities that are excepted from being reported: (1) entities in certain regulated industries that already are subject to beneficial ownership reporting, (2) publicly traded companies, (3) investment vehicles operated by investment advisors, nonprofits, and government entities, and (4) “qualified exempt entities”.  A “qualified exempt entity” is an entity that (a) employs more than 20 employees; (b) filed in the previous year a tax return demonstrating more than $5 million in gross receipts or sales; and (c) has an operating presence at a physical office within the United States.

Beneficial Owners and the Information to Report

The CTA defines a “beneficial owner” of an entity as any individual who, directly or indirectly, (1) exercises substantial control over the entity or (2) owns or controls not less than 25% equity in the entity. The rule expressly excludes certain individuals from the definition of beneficial ownership, including (1) a minor child (as long as the child’s parent’s or guardian’s information is reported); (2) an individual acting as an intermediary or agent on behalf of another; (3) a person whose control over a reporting company derives solely from their employment; (4) an individual whose only interest in a reporting company is through a right of inheritance; or (5) a creditor of a reporting company (unless they qualify as a “beneficial owner” through substantial control or equity ownership).

What Information Gets Reported

In each report to FinCEN, a reporting company must provide each beneficial owner’s name, date of birth, residential or business address, and a unique identifying number from an acceptable identification document (such as a state driver’s license or passport).

Effective Date Is January 1, 2024.

The rule is effective January 1, 2024. Reporting companies created or registered before January 1, 2024, will have one year (until January 1, 2025) to file their initial reports, while reporting companies created or registered after January 1, 2024, will have 30 days after creation or registration to file their initial reports. Once the initial report has been filed, both existing and new reporting companies will have to file updates within 30 days of a change in their beneficial ownership information.

The reporting rule is one of three rulemakings planned to implement the CTA. FinCEN will engage in additional rulemakings to: (1) establish rules for who may access beneficial ownership information, for what purposes, and what safeguards will be required to ensure that the information is secured and protected; and (2) revise FinCEN’s customer due diligence rule. In addition, FinCEN stated it continues to develop the infrastructure to administer these requirements, including the information technology system that will be used to store beneficial ownership information in accordance with the strict security and confidentiality requirements of the CTA.

Penalties for Violating CTA

Willfully providing false information to FinCEN or failing to report complete information to FinCEN can result in fines up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to two years.  However, the CTA contains a safe harbor from such civil and criminal liability for the submission of inaccurate information if the person who submitted the report voluntarily and promptly corrects the report within 90 days.

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

Protect yourself. You can expect the laws regarding customer due diligence requirements for financial institutions will also be updated to conform to the CTA as the CTA will be providing a new means for a financial institution to verify a customer’s “Know Your Customer” information.  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 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. 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.

What’s New And What To Consider When Filing Your 2022 Income Tax Returns

What’s New And What To Consider When Filing Your 2022 Income Tax Returns

Before you know it, April 18, 2023 (the deadline to file your 2022 Individual Income Tax Return) will be here.  We get three extra days because April 15th is a legal holiday in Washington D.C. (Emancipation Day) and the next business day is Monday, April 18th.  Here are some things you should know to be prepared.

Reporting Rules Changed For Form 1099-K.

Taxpayers should receive Form 1099-K, Payment Card and Third Party Network Transactions, by January 31, 2023, if they received third party payments in tax year 2022 for goods and services that exceeded $600.

Prior to 2022, Form 1099-K was issued for third party networks transactions only if the total number of transactions exceeded 200 for the year and the aggregate amount of these transactions exceeded $20,000. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 lowered the reporting threshold for third party networks that process payments for those doing business.  Now a single transaction exceeding $600 can require the third party platform to issue a 1099-K. Money received through third party payment networks from friends and relatives as personal gifts or reimbursements for personal expenses is not taxable.

No “above-the-line” Charitable Deductions.

During COVID, taxpayers could take up to a $600 charitable donation tax deduction on their tax returns. However, in 2022, those who take a standard deduction may not take an above-the-line deduction for charitable donations.  All charitable donations must now be included as itemized deductions.  If your standard deduction exceeds the total itemized deductions, you will want to claim the standard deduction.

Some Tax Credits Return To 2019 Levels.

This means that affected taxpayers will likely receive a significantly smaller refund compared with the previous tax year. Changes include amounts for the Child Tax Credit (CTC), Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child and Dependent Care Credit.

  • Taxpayers who got $3,600 per dependent in 2021 for the CTC will, if eligible, get $2,000 for the 2022 tax year.
  • For the EITC, eligible taxpayers with no children who received roughly $1,500 in 2021 will now get $500 in 2022.
  • The Child and Dependent Care Credit returns to a maximum of $2,100 in 2022 instead of $8,000 in 2021.

Time Limits For Keeping Your Tax Records

Even though your 2022 income tax return is processed by the IRS and a refund is issued, that does not mean the IRS can later question or audit the tax return,  In fact the Statute Of Limitations allows the IRS three years to go back and audit your tax return.  That is why it’s a good idea to keep copies of your prior-year tax returns and supporting backup documentation for at least three years.

Planning Opportunity For Taxpayers Who Owe The IRS

As a prerequisite to making 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 going into 2023, taxpayers who expect to owe for 2022 should have their 2022 income tax returns done as soon as possible in 2023 so that the 2022 liability can be rolled over into any proposal and the requirement to make estimated tax payments will not start until April 18, 2023.

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.

Can You Go To Jail For Not Filing Tax Returns? Beware this can happen to you.

Can You Go To Jail For Not Filing Tax Returns? Beware this can happen to you.

A man who did not file tax returns for 8 year in a row pleaded guilty before a Federal District Court Judge to evading his income taxes and now must serve 57 months in jail.

As reported by the Department Of Justice in a press release, from 2009 through 2016 Daryl Brown received taxable income, but did not file tax returns reporting his income or pay the taxes he owed.  To evade his taxes, Mr. Brown opened bank accounts and lines of credit in nominee names and used credit and debit cards from those accounts to pay for personal expenses.  He also bought money orders with cash, directed others to buy money orders for him, and structured his purchase of money orders–sometimes from several locations on the same day–to avoid triggering reporting requirements that would have flagged his activity to the IRS.  Court documents showed Mr. Brown’s conduct caused a tax loss of more than $250,000 to the IRS.

The Department Of Justice in a follow-up press release reported that on June 7, 2021 U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black in the Southern District of Ohio sentenced Mr. Brown to 57 months in prison for tax evasion and ordered him to serve 3 years of supervised release and pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $377,240.

An Opportunity To “Get Back Into The System” And Be Compliant.

Our tax system relies on initial voluntary compliance where taxpayers each year file a tax return; however, there are millions of Americans who fail to file a tax return and what’s worse is that these failures are not limited to just one year. Taxpayers who either have never filed a tax return or those who were once compliant but stopped filing a tax return for a period of time, face the same penalties.  Additionally, if the IRS chooses to pursue criminal prosecution and proves that the failure was willful, a taxpayer can be sentenced to prison.  So it is important to engage a tax attorney to come up with a plan to mitigate criminal exposure and establish an arrangement or settlement on the resulting tax liabilities.

An Opportunity For Taxpayers Who Owe The IRS.

As a prerequisite to any proposal (including but not limited to, an Offer In Compromise, payment plan or being put into “uncollectible status”) 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. Since we are in summer of 2022, taxpayers who expect to owe for 2021 should have their 2021 income tax returns as soon as possible so that the 2021 liability can be rolled over into any proposal.  Unfortunately, your obligation to make estimated tax payments for 2022 cannot be included in your proposal and the IRS will require as a prerequisite that you are current on these payments (1st quarter 2022 was due April 17, 2022 and 2nd quarter was due June 15, 2022).

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.

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.

New Mileage Rates Announced By IRS For Balance Of 2022

New Mileage Rates Announced By IRS For Balance Of 2022

In recognition of recent gasoline price increases, the IRS announced an increase in the optional standard mileage rate for the final 6 months of 2022.

For the final 6 months of 2022, the standard mileage rate for business travel will be 62.5 cents per mile, up 4 cents from the rate effective at the start of the year. The new rate for deductible medical or moving expenses (available for active-duty members of the military) will be 22 cents for the remainder of 2022, up 4 cents from the rate effective at the start of 2022. These new rates become effective July 1, 2022. The 14 cents per mile rate for charitable organizations remains unchanged as it is set by statute.

Taxpayers may use the optional standard mileage rates to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business and certain other purposes instead of relying on actual costs which require substantiation beyond maintaining a mileage log.

Midyear increases in the optional mileage rates are rare, the last time the IRS made such an increase was in 2011.

Limitation Of Deducting Business Mileage

Before the 2017 Tax Cuts And Jobs Act was enacted into law, many taxpayers relied on the IRS’ annual publication of the mileage rates to be used for business travel. For many taxpayers this was a significant tax deduction but the 2017 Tax Cuts And Jobs Act changes that.

Why fewer taxpayers will be itemizing in 2022:

Increase Of Standard Deduction $12,950 for single filers; $19,400 for heads of household; and $25,900 for joint filers.

Limit On Deduction For State And Local Taxes A taxpayer may claim an itemized deduction of only up to $10,000 ($5,000 for a married taxpayer filing a separate return) in (i) personal state and local property taxes, and (ii) state and local income taxes (or sales taxes in lieu of income taxes).  Taxes paid or accrued in carrying on a trade or business are not subject to this limitation.

Limit On Deduction Of Mortgage Interest For mortgages incurred after December 31, 2017, taxpayers may deduct interest on up to $750,000 of principal (mortgages existing before January 1, 2018 are still subject to the pre-existing law’s $1 million limit). But for all taxpayers there is no longer a deduction for interest paid on home equity loans.

Elimination Of Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions And Deduction For Moving Expenses A taxpayer can no longer deduct miscellaneous itemized deductions which include unreimbursed employee expenses and tax preparation costs.  Also the deduction for moving expenses is gone.

But for those who can benefit from deducting costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes, here are the rates for 2022:

2022 Tax Year Mileage Rates:

Purpose Rates 1/1 through 6/30/22 Rates 7/1 through 12/31/22
Business 58.5 62.5
Medical/Moving 18 22
Charitable 14 14

 

Time Limits For Keeping Your Tax Records

Even though your current income tax return is processed by the IRS and a refund is issued, that does not mean the IRS can later question or audit the tax return,  In fact the Statute Of Limitations allows the IRS three years to go back and audit your tax return.  That is why it’s a good idea to keep copies of your prior-year tax returns and supporting backup documentation for at least three years. In the case of backing of any deductible mileage, you will need to retain your travel log showing the distance traveled, who you visited and the purpose of the visit.

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), Metropolitan Los Angeles (Long Beach) and elsewhere in California are highly skilled in handling tax matters and can effectively represent at all levels with the IRS and State Tax Agencies including criminal tax investigations and attempted prosecutions, undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other foreign assets, and unreported foreign income.  Also if you are involved in cannabis, check out what our cannabis tax attorneys can do for you.   And if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

Advantages To Filing A 2021 Tax Return – Getting Money Due To You

Advantages To Filing A 2021 Tax Return – Getting Money Due To You

Most people with gross income of $12,550 or more must file a federal tax return. Some people with a lower income are not required to file. However, these individuals should still consider filing for a refund of federal income tax withheld. They may also be eligible for certain tax credits, like the earned income tax credit, the recovery rebate credit and others.

Generally, the 2021 Federal individual income tax return was due April 18, 2022; however, if you timely filed an extension no later than April 18th, your filing deadline is now October 17, 2022.

Here are five things to consider when determining whether to file a 2021 tax return, including possibly being eligible for an Economic Impact Payment:

  1. Tax withheld or paid
  • Did your employer withhold federal income tax from your pay in 2021?
  • Did you make estimated tax payments?
  • Did you get a refund last year, and have it applied to your 2021 tax?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be owed a refund. To receive the refund, you must file a 2021 tax return.

  1. Earned income tax credit– This is a tax credit for low- to moderate-income wage earners. It is a refundable tax credit, and the amount depends on the taxpayer’s income and number of children. The credit doesn’t just reduce the amount of tax owed but could also result in a refund. However, once again, to claim the EITC, you must file a return.
  1. Child tax credit– Taxpayers can claim this credit if they have a qualifying child under the age of 17 and meet other qualifications. The maximum amount per qualifying child is $2,000. Up to $1,400 of that amount can be refundable for each qualifying child. So, like the EITC, the Child Tax Credit can give a taxpayer a refund even if they owe no tax.

Taxpayers with dependents who don’t qualify for the child tax credit may be able to claim the credit for other dependents. The maximum credit amount is $500 for each dependent who meets certain conditions.

  1. American opportunity or lifetime earning credits – Two credits can help taxpayers paying higher education costs for themselves, a spouse or dependent. Even if the taxpayer doesn’t owe any taxes, they may still qualify. You need to complete Form 8863Education Credits and file it with the tax return.

If you do not qualify for the either of these credits, you may benefit from taking the Tuition and Fees Deduction on your tax return.

  1. Economic Impact Payment– Anyone who is eligible for an Economic Impact Payment but did not get the payments or did not get the full amount, must file a tax return to claim the recovery rebate credit even if they aren’t normally required to file.  Families and individuals in the following circumstances, among others, may not have received the full amount of their third-round Economic Impact Payment because their circumstances in 2021 were different than they were in 2020.

These families and individuals may be eligible to receive more money by claiming the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2021 income tax return:

  • Parents of a child born in 2021 who claim the child as a dependent on their 2021 income tax return may be eligible to receive a 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit of up to $1,400 for this child. All eligible parents of qualifying children born or welcomed through adoption or foster care in 2021 are also encouraged to claim the child tax credit — worth up to $3,600 per child born in 2021 — on their 2021 income tax return.
  • Families who added a dependent – such as a parent, a nephew or niece, or a grandchild – on their 2021 income tax return who was not listed as a dependent on their 2020 income tax return may be eligible to receive a 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit of up to $1,400 for this dependent.
  • Single filers who had incomes above $80,000 in 2020 but less than this amount in 2021; married couples who filed a joint return and had incomes above $160,000 in 2020 but less than this amount in 2021; and head of household filers who had incomes above $120,000 in 2020 but less than this amount in 2021 may be eligible for a 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit of up to $1,400 per person.
  • Single filers who had incomes between $75,000 and $80,000 in 2020 but had lower incomes in 2021; married couples who filed a joint return and had incomes between $150,000 and $160,000 in 2020 but had lower incomes in 2021; and head of household filers who had incomes between $112,500 and $120,000 in 2020 but had lower incomes in 2021 may be eligible for a 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit.

Individuals must claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2021 income tax return in order to get this money; the IRS will not automatically calculate the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit.

Getting Late Filing Penalties Abated

Filing timely is very important because the late-filing and late-payment penalties and interest on unpaid taxes add up quickly. However, in some cases, a taxpayer filing after the deadline may qualify for penalty relief. For those charged a penalty, they may contact the IRS by calling the number on their notice and explain why they couldn’t file and pay on time.

Taxpayers who have a history of filing and paying on time often qualify for administrative penalty relief. A taxpayer usually qualifies if they have filed and paid timely for the past three years and meet other requirements.

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 2022, taxpayers who expect to owe for 2021 should have their 2021 income tax returns done now so that the 2021 liability can be rolled over into any proposal and the requirement to make estimated tax payments will now start for 2022.

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.

The take away from this – use the Federal government’s downtime and continued uncertainty with COVID-19 to your advantage to prepare for the future.

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), 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.

What You Should Do If You Missed The April 18th Deadline For Filing Your 2021 Income Tax Return.

What You Should Do If You Missed The April 18th Deadline For Filing Your 2021 Income Tax Return.

It is still not too late to claim the Child Tax Credit for 2021. Families who don’t owe taxes to the IRS can still file their 2021 tax return and claim the Child Tax Credit for the 2021 tax year at any point until April 15, 2025, without any penalty. This year also marks the first time in history that many families with children in Puerto Rico will be eligible to claim the Child Tax Credit, which has been expanded to provide up to $3,600 per child.

Even though April 18th has passed, it is still better to file your tax return sooner rather than later.  If you are due for a refund, the IRS does not know this until you file a tax return.  If you owe (even if you did file an extension), an earlier filing can limit potential penalties and interest.  Usually anyone who owes tax and waits until April 18th to file a tax return without filing an extension will be charged a late-filing penalty of 5% per month.

Pay what you can

Interest, plus the much smaller late-payment penalty, will apply to any payments made after April 18th.  Making a payment, even a partial payment, will help limit penalty and interest charges. You should also consider other options for payment, including getting a loan to pay the amount due. In many cases, loan costs may be lower than the combination of interest and penalties the IRS must charge under federal law. Normally, the late-payment penalty is one-half-of-one percent (0.5%) per month. The interest rate, adjusted quarterly, is currently 3% per year, compounded daily.

Taxpayers Who Have Extra Time To File Without Penalties And Interest

Some taxpayers automatically qualify for extra time measured from April 18, 2022 to file and pay taxes due without penalties and interest, including:

  • Members of the military who served or are currently serving in a combat zone.They may qualify for an additional extension of at least 180 days to file and pay taxes.
  • Support personnel in combat zones or a contingency operation in support of the Armed Forces.They may also qualify for a filing and payment extension of at least 180 days.
  • Taxpayers outside the United States.S. citizens and resident aliens who live and work outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico, including military members on duty who don’t qualify for the combat zone extension, may qualify for a 2-month filing and payment extension.
  • Some disaster victims.Those who qualify have more time to file and pay what they owe.

IRS payment plans

There are two main types of payment plans that do not require the submission of financial disclosures.

They are:

  • Short-term payment plan – The payment period is 120 days or less and the total amount owed is less than $100,000 in combined tax, penalties and interest. A 180-day payment plan is also possible. However, as you are financing a liability with IRS, interest and the late-payment penalty continue to apply.
  • Long-term payment plan – The payment period is longer than the short-term payment plan. Payments are made monthly, and the amount owed must be less than $50,000 in combined tax, penalties and interest. In addition, for anyone who filed their return on time, the late-payment penalty rate is cut in half while an installment agreement is in effect. This means that the penalty accrues at the rate of one-quarter-of-one percent (0.25%) per month, instead of the usual one-half-of-one percent (0.5%) per month.

Taxpayers who do not qualify for either of these plans would be required to submit financial disclosures in order to arrange for a payment plan with IRS.

Other options to consider:

Delayed collection

If the IRS determines a taxpayer is unable to pay, it may delay collection until their financial condition improves. Sometimes this is referred to as putting a taxpayer’s account on a Currently Not Collectible (CNC) status.  Once the account is placed on a CNC status, the IRS does not pursue collection activity against the taxpayer and the statute of limitations on the tax liabilities will continue to run. Additionally, the total amount owed will still increase because penalties and interest are charged until paid in full or otherwise settled.  Generally, unless the taxpayer’s financial situation changes, the account will remain on a CNC status until the tax liabilities expire. However, if the taxpayer’s financial situation improves the account will be taken off of CNC status so that the IRS can collect the taxes through full payment or an Installment Agreement.

Penalty relief

Some taxpayers qualify to have their late-filing or late-payment penalties reduced or eliminated. This can be done on a case-by-case basis, based on “reasonable cause”. Alternatively, where a taxpayer has filed and paid on time during the past three years, the IRS can typically provide relief under the “First Time Abatement Program”.

Offer in Compromise 

Established by the Internal Revenue Service, the Offer in Compromise Program is a formal application to the IRS requesting that it accept less than full payment for what you owe in taxes, interest, and penalties.  An offer in compromise may allow you to settle back taxes or IRS liability at a substantial discount on the basis of doubt as to collectability, liability, or effective tax administration. In addition, while your offer is under consideration, the Internal Revenue Service is prohibited from instituting any levies of your assets and wages.

While an offer in compromise can help pay IRS debt for less, most people do not have the necessary skills or knowledge of the IRS collection process to make an offer in compromise that is in their best interest.  Many people fill out the forms incorrectly, overstate their assets and income, and offer too much. Government figures show that 75% of offers are returned at the beginning due to forms being filled out incorrectly, and of the 25% that are processed, approximately 50% are rejected.

What Should You Do?

Don’t let yourself fall behind in your tax filing obligations.  Especially if you owe for prior years, the IRS will require that you are current in your filings before considering any proposals for tax relief.  Let the tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Los Angeles and offices elsewhere in California get you set up with a plan that may include being qualified into a voluntary disclosure program to avoid criminal prosecution, seek abatement of penalties, and minimize your tax liability. If you are involved in cannabis, check out what else 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.

Facing A Surprise Tax Bill? Here Is Why You Should Still File Your 2021 Income Tax Return By April 18th.

Facing A Surprise Tax Bill? Here Is Why You Should Still File Your 2021 Income Tax Return By April 18th.

Why You Should Not Disregard The April 18, 2022 Filing Deadline

The most important thing everyone with a tax liability should do is file a return by the April 18th due date, even if they can’t pay in full, or request a six-month extension to avoid higher penalties for failing to file on time. Though automatic tax-filing extensions are available to anyone who wants one but keep in mind that these extensions don’t change the payment deadline. They act an extension to file and not as an extension to pay. With the extension you can include payment for what you can pay now to help reduce a potential late-payment penalty and interest charges.

Usually anyone who owes tax and waits until after that date to file will be charged a late-filing penalty of 5% per month. So, if a tax return is done, filing it by April 18th is always less costly, even if the full amount due can’t be paid on time.

Pay what you can

Interest, plus the much smaller late-payment penalty, will apply to any payments made after April 18th.  Making a payment, even a partial payment, will help limit penalty and interest charges. You should also consider other options for payment, including getting a loan to pay the amount due. In many cases, loan costs may be lower than the combination of interest and penalties the IRS must charge under federal law. Normally, the late-payment penalty is one-half-of-one percent (0.5%) per month. The interest rate, adjusted quarterly, is currently 3% per year, compounded daily.

IRS payment plans

There are two main types of payment plans that do not require the submission of financial disclosures.

They are:

  • Short-term payment plan – The payment period is 120 days or less and the total amount owed is less than $100,000 in combined tax, penalties and interest. A 180-day payment plan is also possible. However, as you are financing a liability with IRS, interest and the late-payment penalty continue to apply.
  • Long-term payment plan – The payment period is longer than the short-term payment plan. Payments are made monthly, and the amount owed must be less than $50,000 in combined tax, penalties and interest. In addition, for anyone who filed their return on time, the late-payment penalty rate is cut in half while an installment agreement is in effect. This means that the penalty accrues at the rate of one-quarter-of-one percent (0.25%) per month, instead of the usual one-half-of-one percent (0.5%) per month.

Taxpayers who do not qualify for either of these plans would be requires to submit financial disclosures in order to arrange for a payment plan with IRS.

Other options to consider:

Delayed collection

If the IRS determines a taxpayer is unable to pay, it may delay collection until their financial condition improves. Sometimes this is referred to as putting a taxpayer’s account on a Currently Not Collectible (CNC) status.  Once the account is placed on a CNC status, the IRS does not pursue collection activity against the taxpayer and the statute of limitations on the tax liabilities will continue to run. Additionally, the total amount owed will still increase because penalties and interest are charged until paid in full or otherwise settled.  Generally, unless the taxpayer’s financial situation changes, the account will remain on a CNC status until the tax liabilities expire. However, if the taxpayer’s financial situation improves the account will be taken off of CNC status so that the IRS can collect the taxes through full payment or an Installment Agreement.

Penalty relief

Some taxpayers qualify to have their late-filing or late-payment penalties reduced or eliminated. This can be done on a case-by-case basis, based on “reasonable cause”. Alternatively, where a taxpayer has filed and paid on time during the past three years, the IRS can typically provide relief under the “First Time Abatement Program”.

Offer in Compromise 

Established by the Internal Revenue Service, the Offer in Compromise Program is a formal application to the IRS requesting that it accept less than full payment for what you owe in taxes, interest, and penalties.  An offer in compromise may allow you to settle back taxes or IRS liability at a substantial discount on the basis of doubt as to collectability, liability, or effective tax administration. In addition, while your offer is under consideration, the Internal Revenue Service is prohibited from instituting any levies of your assets and wages.

While an offer in compromise can help pay IRS debt for less, most people do not have the necessary skills or knowledge of the IRS collection process to make an offer in compromise that is in their best interest.  Many people fill out the forms incorrectly, overstate their assets and income, and offer too much. Government figures show that 75% of offers are returned at the beginning due to forms being filled out incorrectly, and of the 25% that are processed, approximately 50% are rejected.

What Should You Do?

Individual taxpayers can file an extension using Form 4868. Extensions can also be filed online, which has the benefit that you’ll receive a confirmation code from the IRS notifying you that your extension was received.  Then you should promptly contact tax counsel.  Let the tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Los Angeles and offices elsewhere in California get you set up with a plan that may include being qualified into a voluntary disclosure program to avoid criminal prosecution, seek abatement of penalties, and minimize your tax liability. If you are involved in cannabis, check out what else 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.

Why Taxpayers Involved In Offshore Accounts, Cryptocurrency Or Cannabis Should Be Filing An Extension For Their 2021 Income Tax Returns.

Why Taxpayers Involved In Offshore Accounts, Cryptocurrency Or Cannabis Should Be Filing An Extension For Their 2021 Income Tax Returns.

If you did not report your offshore accounts, cryptocurrency income or cannabis income earned before 2021, you should hold off on filing your 2021 taxes and instead file an extension.

An extension is your way of asking the IRS for additional time to file your tax return. The IRS will automatically grant you an additional time to file your return. While State Tax Agencies will also provide the same extension period, you need to check with your State to see if an extension must be filed with the State as well.  For example, California does not require that a State extension be filed as long as you timely file the Federal extension AND you will not owe any money to the State.

The deadline to file your 2021 federal individual income tax returns or request an extension of time to file the tax return is Monday, April 18, 2022 (normally would have been April 15th but for the observance of the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia).  Taxpayers in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 19, 2022, to file their returns due to the observance of the Patriots’ Day holiday in those states. A timely filed extension will extend the filing deadline to Monday, October 17, 2022 thus giving you an extra six months to meet with tax counsel and determine how to address your pre-2021 tax reporting delinquencies and/or exposure and how to present your situation on your 2021 tax return.

While an extension gives you extra time to file your return, an extension does not give you extra time to pay your tax and if you do not pay what you owe with the extension, you will still be ultimately charged with late payment penalties when you file your tax return.

Offshore Accounts

Where a taxpayer does not come forward voluntarily though a Voluntary Disclosure Program and has now been targeted by IRS for failing to file the Foreign Bank Account Reports (FBAR), the IRS may now assert FBAR penalties that could be either non-willful or willful.  Both types have varying upper limits, but no floor.  The first type is the non-willful FBAR penalty.  The maximum non-willful FBAR penalty is $10,000.  The second type is the willful FBAR penalty.  The maximum willful FBAR penalty is the greater of (a) $100,000 or (b) 50% of the total balance of the foreign account.  In addition, the IRS can pursue criminal charges with the willful FBAR penalty.  The law defines that any person who willfully attempts in any manner to evade or defeat any tax under the Internal Revenue Code or the payment thereof is, in addition to other penalties provided by law, guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, can be fined not more than $100,000 ($500,000 in the case of a corporation), or imprisoned not more than five years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution (Code Sec. 7201).

For the non-willful penalty, all the IRS has to show is that an FBAR was not filed.  Whether the taxpayer knew or did not know about the filing of this form is irrelevant.  The non-willful FBAR penalty is $10,000 per account, per year and so a taxpayer with multiple accounts over multiple years can end up with a huge penalty.

Since 2009, the IRS Criminal Investigation has indicted 1,545 taxpayers on criminal violations related to international activities, of which 671 taxpayers were indicted on international criminal tax violations.

Cryptocurrency

Many taxpayers think that their crypto transactions would remain a secret forever.  Digital exchanges are not broker-regulated by the IRS. Digital exchanges are not obligated to issue a 1099 form, nor are they obligated to report to the IRS calculate gains or cost basis for the trader. But that is now all changing sooner than you think!

As of March 16, 2018, the IRS has received information from Coinbase located in San Francisco which is the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States disclosing the names, addresses and tax identification numbers on 14,355 account holders. Coinbase pursuant to a Court Order issued by a Federal Magistrate Judge (United States v. Coinbase, Inc., United States District Court, Northern District Of California, Case No.17-cv-01431) had to produce the following customer information over the period of 2013 to 2015: (1) taxpayer ID number, (2) name, (3) birth date, (4) address, (5) records of account activity, including transaction logs or other records identifying the date, amount, and type of transaction (purchase/sale/exchange), the post transaction balance, and the names of counterparties to the transaction, and (6) all periodic statements of account or invoices (or the equivalent).

Furthermore, Coinbase starting with the 2017 tax years will be issuing 1099-K tax forms for some of its U.S. clients.  The IRS will receive copies of these forms.

Following the success of the results of a John Doe Summons issued to Coinbase, Inc. as I previously reported, on April 1, 2021 the U.S. Department Of Justice announced that a federal court in the District of Massachusetts entered an order today authorizing the IRS to serve a John Doe summons on Circle Internet Financial Inc., or its predecessors, subsidiaries, divisions, and affiliates, including Poloniex LLC (collectively “Circle”), seeking information about U.S. taxpayers who conducted at least the equivalent of $20,000 in transactions in cryptocurrency during the years 2016 to 2020. The IRS is seeking the records of Americans who engaged in business with or through Circle, a digital currency exchanger headquartered in Boston.

With only several hundred people reporting their crypto gains each year, the IRS suspects that many crypto users have been evading taxes by not reporting crypto transactions on their tax returns.

Cannabis

Over 300,000 Americans now work in the legal cannabis industry – these workers were declared “essential” during the COVID emergency. In the past few weeks, three more states have legalized bringing the total number of adult-use states to 18, along with the 37 medical states and the District of Columbia.  There are also 6 tribal nations and most of the U.S. territories that have legalized cannabis.  With the proliferation of licensed cannabis businesses sprouting across the country, a continued stream of cannabis business will be filing tax returns with the IRS.  But beware, the IRS is well aware that successful cannabis businesses don’t just sprout overnight and now that your business is on the radar screen you can bet that the IRS will be inquiring how you accumulated all that cash before 2021.

Cannabis is categorized as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. While more than half of the states in the U.S. have legalized some form of medicinal marijuana, and several others have passed laws permitting recreational cannabis use, under federal drug laws the sale of cannabis remains illegal.

Despite the disparity and Federal and State law, marijuana businesses still have to pay taxes.

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.

A cannabis business that has not properly reported its income and expenses and not engaged in the planning to minimize income taxes can face a large liability proposed by IRS reflected on a Notice Of Deficiency or tax bill.  Likewise, where a taxpayer over the years has accumulated cash from cannabis sales and never reported any income to the IRS, you are looking at a serious problem.

Penalties For Filing A False Income Tax Return Or Under-reporting Income 

Failure to report all the money you make is a main reason folks end up facing an IRS auditor. Carelessness on your tax return might get you whacked with a 20% penalty. But that’s nothing compared to the 75% civil penalty for willful tax fraud and possibly facing criminal charges of tax evasion that if convicted could land you in jail.

Criminal Fraud – The law defines that any person who willfully attempts in any manner to evade or defeat any tax under the Internal Revenue Code or the payment thereof is, in addition to other penalties provided by law, guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, can be fined not more than $100,000 ($500,000 in the case of a corporation), or imprisoned not more than five years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution (Code Sec. 7201).

The term “willfully” has been interpreted to require a specific intent to violate the law (U.S. v. Pomponio, 429 U.S. 10 (1976)). The term “willfulness” is defined as the voluntary, intentional violation of a known legal duty (Cheek v. U.S., 498 U.S. 192 (1991)).

And even if the IRS is not looking to put you in jail, they will be looking to hit you with a big tax bill with hefty penalties.

Civil Fraud – Normally the IRS will impose a negligence penalty of 20% of the underpayment of tax (Code Sec. 6662(b)(1) and 6662(b)(2)) but violations of the Internal Revenue Code with the intent to evade income taxes may result in a civil fraud penalty. In lieu of the 20% negligence penalty, the civil fraud penalty is 75% of the underpayment of tax (Code Sec. 6663). The imposition of the Civil Fraud Penalty essentially doubles your liability to the IRS!

What Should You Do?

Individual taxpayers can file an extension using Form 4868. Extensions can also be filed online, which has the benefit that you’ll receive a confirmation code from the IRS notifying you that your extension was received.  Then you should promptly contact tax counsel.  Don’t delay because once the IRS has targeted you for investigation – even if it is a routine random audit – it will be too late voluntarily come forward. Let the tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Los Angeles and offices elsewhere in California get you set up with a plan that may include being qualified into a voluntary disclosure program to avoid criminal prosecution, seek abatement of penalties, and minimize your tax liability. If you are involved in cannabis, check out what else 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.

IRS Looking For Taxpayers To Report Gig Economy Income, Virtual Currency Transactions, And Foreign Source Income And Assets

IRS Looking For Taxpayers To Report Gig Economy Income, Virtual Currency Transactions, And Foreign Source Income And Assets

Chances are you are involved in one of these areas –

  1. Income from the Gig Economy,
  2. Dealing with Virtual Currency, or
  3. Having Foreign Source Income And Assets.

If so, pay particular attention to what the IRS will be looking for on your 2021 income tax return.

Gig economy earnings are taxable

Generally, income earned from the gig economy is taxable and must be reported to the IRS. The gig economy is activity where people earn income providing on-demand work, services or goods. Often, it’s through a digital platform like an app or website. Taxpayers must report income earned from the gig economy on a tax return, even if the income is:

  • From part-time, temporary or side work,
  • Not reported on an information return form – like a Form 1099-K, 1099-MISC, W-2 or other income statement or
  • Paid in any form, including cash, property, goods or virtual currency.

TAX TIP – If you incurred expenses to produce this income, those expenses should be reported on your tax return so you do not pay more in tax than what the law requires.

Virtual currency reporting and tax requirements

Again for 2021, there is a question at the top of Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR asking about virtual currency transactions. All taxpayers filing these forms must check the box indicating either “yes” or “no.” A transaction involving virtual currency includes, but is not limited to:

  • The receipt of virtual currency as payment for goods or services provided;
  • The receipt or transfer of virtual currency for free (without providing any consideration) that does not qualify as a bona fide gift;
  • The receipt of new virtual currency as a result of mining and staking activities;
  • The receipt of virtual currency as a result of a hard fork;
  • An exchange of virtual currency for property, goods or services;
  • An exchange/trade of virtual currency for another virtual currency;
  • A sale of virtual currency; and
  • Any other disposition of a financial interest in virtual currency.

If an individual disposed of any virtual currency that was held as a capital asset through a sale, exchange or transfer, they should check “Yes” and use Form 8949 to figure their capital gain or loss and report it on Schedule D (Form 1040).

If they received any virtual currency as compensation for services or disposed of any virtual currency they held for sale to customers in a trade or business, they must report the income as they would report other income of the same type (for example, W-2 wages on Form 1040 or 1040-SR, line 1, or inventory or services from Schedule C on Schedule 1).

TAX TIP – Make sure to report the basis of any virtual currency disposed of which will reduce your gain so you do not pay more in tax than what the law requires.

Reporting Foreign Source Income

A U.S. citizen or resident alien’s worldwide income is generally subject to U.S. income tax, regardless of where they live. They’re also subject to the same income tax filing requirements that apply to U.S. citizens or resident aliens living in the United States.

U.S. citizens and resident aliens must report unearned income, such as interest, dividends, and pensions, from sources outside the United States unless exempt by law or a tax treaty. They must also report earned income, such as wages and tips, from sources outside the United States. An income tax filing requirement generally applies even if a taxpayer qualifies for tax benefits, such as the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion or the Foreign Tax Credit, which substantially reduce or eliminate U.S. tax liability. These tax benefits are only available if an eligible taxpayer files a U.S. income tax return.

TAX TIP – Make sure you file a tax return on a timely basis to claim these benefits. If both your tax home and abode are outside the United States and Puerto Rico, you have until June 15, 2022 to file your tax return or file an extension (to October 15, 2022).  Those serving in the military outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico on the regular due date of their tax return also have until June 15, 2022 to file your tax return or file an extension (to October 15, 2022).

Reporting required for foreign accounts and assets

Federal law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report their worldwide income, including income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and other financial accounts. In most cases, affected taxpayers need to complete and attach Schedule B to their tax return. Part III of Schedule B asks about the existence of foreign accounts, such as bank and securities accounts, and usually requires U.S. citizens to report the country in which each account is located.

In addition, certain taxpayers may also have to complete and attach to their return Form 8938, Statement of Foreign Financial Assets. Generally, U.S. citizens, resident aliens and certain nonresident aliens must report specified foreign financial assets on this form if the aggregate value of those assets exceeds certain thresholds. See the instructions for this form for details.

Further, separate from reporting specified foreign financial assets on their tax return, taxpayers with an interest in, or signature or other authority over foreign financial accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during 2020, must file electronically with the Treasury Department a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). Because of this threshold, the IRS encourages taxpayers with foreign assets, even relatively small ones, to check if this filing requirement applies to them. The form is only available through the BSA E-filing System website.

TAX TIP – The deadline for filing the annual Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) is the same as that of Form 1040. FinCEN grants filers who missed the original deadline an automatic extension until October 15, 2022, to file the FBAR. There is no need to request this extension.

Penalties For Filing A False Income Tax Return Or Under-reporting Income

Failure to report all the money you make is a main reason folks end up facing an IRS auditor. Carelessness on your tax return might get you whacked with a 20% penalty. But that’s nothing compared to the 75% civil penalty for willful tax fraud and possibly facing criminal charges of tax evasion that if convicted could land you in jail.

Criminal Fraud – The law defines that any person who willfully attempts in any manner to evade or defeat any tax under the Internal Revenue Code or the payment thereof is, in addition to other penalties provided by law, guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, can be fined not more than $100,000 ($500,000 in the case of a corporation), or imprisoned not more than five years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution (Code Sec. 7201).

The term “willfully” has been interpreted to require a specific intent to violate the law (U.S. v. Pomponio, 429 U.S. 10 (1976)). The term “willfulness” is defined as the voluntary, intentional violation of a known legal duty (Cheek v. U.S., 498 U.S. 192 (1991)).

And even if the IRS is not looking to put you in jail, they will be looking to hit you with a big tax bill with hefty penalties.

Civil Fraud – Normally the IRS will impose a negligence penalty of 20% of the underpayment of tax (Code Sec. 6662(b)(1) and 6662(b)(2)) but violations of the Internal Revenue Code with the intent to evade income taxes may result in a civil fraud penalty. In lieu of the 20% negligence penalty, the civil fraud penalty is 75% of the underpayment of tax (Code Sec. 6663). The imposition of the Civil Fraud Penalty essentially doubles your liability to the IRS!

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.