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

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

Don’t think that you can avoid California tax enforcement action just because we are in a pandemic.  California is unique in the structure of its tax system. Most States operate under a single tax agency. The Federal government uses a single tax agency called the IRS. But California has three tax agencies! They are the Franchise Tax Board (“FTB”), California Department Of Tax And Fee Administration (“CDTFA”) and the Employment Development Department (“EDD”).

What does FTB cover?

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

What does CDTFA cover?

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

What does EDD cover?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

2020 Taxes For California Cannabis – What You Need To Know

We previously reported in our blog that the Trump Administration organized a committee of federal agencies from across the government to combat public support for marijuana and cast state legalization measures in a negative light while attempting to portray the drug as a national threat. The IRS appears to be following the agenda of the Trump Administration when it comes to Cannabis and has formed special audit groups that are tasked with conducting cannabis tax audits on medical and recreational cannabis businesses.

Yes – Cannabis Businesses Have to Report Income To IRS And Pay Taxes!

While the sale of cannabis is legal in California as well as in a growing number of states, cannabis remains a Schedule 1 narcotic under Federal law, the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) 21 U.S.C. § 812. As such businesses in the cannabis industry are not treated like ordinary businesses. Despite state laws allowing cannabis, it remains illegal on a federal level but cannabis businesses are obligated to pay federal income tax on income because I.R.C. §61(a) does not differentiate between income derived from legal sources and income derived from illegal sources.

Deductibility Of Expenses By Cannabis Businesses

Generally, businesses can deduct ordinary and necessary business expenses under I.R.C. §162. This includes wages, rent, supplies, etc. However, in 1982 Congress added I.R.C. §280E. Under I.R.C. §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. Cannabis, including medical marijuana, is a controlled substance. What this means is that dispensaries and other businesses trafficking in cannabis 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.

For taxable years starting on or after January 1, 2019, California law provides that I.R.C. §280E shall not apply to the carrying on of any trade or business that is commercial cannabis activity by a licensee. The full text of Assembly Bill 37 can be viewed here. What this means is that under the California Tax Code, cannabis businesses can deduct their operating expenses to arrive at California State taxable income. It still does not change the manner that the IRS taxes cannabis businesses.

IRS Guidance On Cannabis.

The IRS issued a memo to provide guidance to its agents on conducting audits of cannabis businesses addressing whether an IRS agent can require a taxpayer trafficking in a Schedule 1 controlled substance to change its tax accounting to conform to I.R.C. §280E.

Not surprisingly that the IRS ruled that IRS agents have the authority to change a cannabis business’ method of accounting so that pursuant to I.R.C. §280E costs which should not be included in inventory are not included in Costs Of Goods Sold (“COGS”) and remain non-deductible for income tax purposes.

Cannabis Tax Audits & Litigation.

It is no surprise that cannabis businesses are proliferating as more States legalize cannabis and make available licenses to grow, manufacture, distribute and sell cannabis. The IRS recognizes this and it is making these cannabis businesses face Federal income tax audits. IRC §280E is at the forefront of all IRS cannabis tax audits and enforcement of §280E could result in unbearable tax liabilities.

Proving deductions to the IRS is a two-step process:

  • First, you must substantiate that you actually paid the expense you are claiming.
    • Second, you must prove that an expense is actually tax deductible.

Step One: Incurred And Paid The Expense.

For example, if you claim a $5,000 purchase expense from a cannabis distributor, offering a copy of a bill or an invoice from the distributor (if one is even provided) is not enough. It only proves that you owe the money, not that you actually made good on paying the bill. The IRS accepts canceled checks, bank statements and credit card statements as proof of payment. But when such bills are paid in cash as it typical in a cannabis business, you would not have any of these supporting documents but the IRS may accept the equivalent in electronic form.

Step Two: Deductibility Of The Expense.

Next you must prove that an expense is actually tax deductible. For cannabis businesses this is challenging because of the I.R.C. §280E limitation. Recall that under I.R.C. §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. What this means is that dispensaries and other businesses trafficking in cannabis 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 can still deduct its Cost Of Goods Sold (“COGS”). Cost of goods sold are the direct costs attributable to the production of goods. For a cannabis reseller this includes the cost of cannabis itself and transportation used in acquiring cannabis. To the extent greater costs of doing business can be legitimately included in COGS that will that result in lower taxable income. You can be sure the IRS agents in audits will be looking closely at what is included in COGS. Working with a cannabis tax attorney can ensure that you receive the proper treatment of COGS versus ordinary and necessary expenses resulting in the lowest possible income tax liability.

In addition to IRS audits, state cannabis audits are also complex and thorough and generally include all taxes specific and nonspecific to the cannabis business. Potentially at risk is the cannabis license that enables the business to operate. State audits will focus on records regarding sales and use tax, excise taxes, and seed-to-sale tracking records.

Now if your cannabis IRS tax audit is not resolved, the results may be challenged and litigated in the U.S. Tax Court or Federal District Court. The U.S. Tax Court has jurisdiction to hear disputes over federal income taxes before final assessment and collections while the Federal District Court generally requires taxpayers to first pay the liability then seek repayment through a refund request.

Tips For Cannabis Tax Return Preparation

Here are some tips for cannabis businesses to follow in the preparation of their 2019 tax returns.

  • Reconcile Your Books Before Closing Your Books. Incomplete books can cause delays and add unnecessary complexities.
  • Utilize A Cannabis Tax Professional. Engage a tax professional who has experience in the cannabis industry. Such a professional would be familiar with the intricacies of IRC Sec. 280E and relevant cases to make the proper presentation on the tax return in a manner that would support the smaller tax liability possible.
  • Justify Your Numbers As If An IRS Audit Is A Certainty. Don’t wait to receive a notice from IRS that the tax return is selected for examination.  That can be one or two years away.  Instead make it a point to put together the backup to you numbers now while everything is fresh.

What Should You Do?

Ultimately it is the tax risk with IRS that could put any cannabis business “out of business” so you need to protect yourself and your investment. 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 (Ontario and Palm Springs) and other California locations. We can come up with tax solutions and strategies and protect you and your business and to maximize your net profits.  Also, if you are involved in crypto-currency, check out what a Bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

5 Moves To Make Before Year End That Can Save You A Lot of Money on Your 2020 Taxes

5 Moves To Make Before Year End That Can Save You A Lot of Money on Your 2020 Taxes

On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law the 2017 Tax Cuts And Jobs Act. It’s been a good 30 years since the last time the Internal Revenue Code received such a major update.

Major Changes From The New Law Include:

Compressed And Lower Income Tax Rates For Individuals.

Increased Standard Deduction For Individuals

Elimination Of Personal Exemptions

Limitations of Deductibility Of Itemized Deductions including Mortgage Interest and State & Local Taxes.

Lower Corporation Tax Rates.

The Big Picture:

With many itemized deductions having disappeared by the 2017 Tax Cuts And Jobs Act and the higher standard deduction, less taxpayers will be itemizing deductions in 2020 but there is still significant tax planning you can do.  Under these circumstances the key here is to accelerate deductions in 2020 and defer income into 2021.

Following are five year-end tax moves to make before this New Year’s Day:

  1. Give more to charity in 2020.

In addition to the usual dollar donations to charities, religious institutions and educational institutions, consider clearing your home of those unwanted household goods and clothing to give to charities. Many groups will accept these items even vehicles, with some even making arrangements to pick up them up from your home. You may also consider to donate stock or mutual funds that you’ve held for more than a year but that no longer fit your investment goals. The charity gets the asset to hold or sell, and your portfolio re-balancing nets you a deduction for the asset’s value at the time of gifting. Even better, you do not have to worry about capital gains taxes on the appreciation of your gift. Remember that if you take the standard deduction in 2020, you won’t get any tax savings from your charitable contributions made in 2020.

  1. Make the most of your home – mortgage interest.

Home-ownership provides a variety of tax breaks, some of which you can use by year-end to reduce your current year’s tax bill. Make your January mortgage payment by December 31st and deduct the mortgage interest on your 2020 tax return.

  1. Make the most of your home – property taxes.

Like prepaying mortgage interest, the same tactic will apply for property taxes; however, keep in mind that property taxes along with other state and local taxes will be deductible only up to $10,000.

  1. Pay your self-employed business expenses

If you are self-employed, you should accelerate payment of your business expenses in 2020. Recognizing these expenses in 2020 will provide you with a tax savings for 2020.

  1. Defer your income into 2021.

If you are a small business owner, consider delaying income until January 2021. So if you are chasing up some customers or clients to pay the bill you sent them a while ago, you might want to wait until January to get aggressive on collecting. Consider delaying the delivery of invoices for year-end jobs until January 2021.  Small business owners should make sure they are benefiting from the deduction of 20% of their business income. If you are an employee, ask your boss to hold your bonus until January. Individuals should also consider putting more money into a tax-deferred workplace retirement plan in 2020 and hold off on selling assets that will produce a capital gain until 2021.

What Should You Do?

With not much time left in 2020 you will need to act quickly on those tax moves that are easy to accomplish to reduce your tax bill.

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

More Guidance From IRS On PPP Loans: Deductibility of Expenses Where a Business Received a PPP Loan

More Guidance From IRS On PPP Loans: Deductibility of Expenses Where a Business Received a PPP Loan

On March 27, 2020 President Trump signed the $2 trillion Stimulus Bill formally known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security [CARES] Act (the “CARES Act”) to provide assistance to workplaces and employees. The CARES Act provides many benefits intended to deliver cash into the hands of individuals and businesses, as well as many other tax provisions.  One of the most publicized provisions is the access of funds through banks to qualifying businesses and self-employed taxpayers to pay for payroll, insurance premiums and mortgage, rent and utility payments.  This is known as the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).

Under this program administered by the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses with 500 or fewer employees including not-for-profits, veterans’ organizations, tribal concerns, self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships, and independent contractors are eligible for loans to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs including benefits as well as other costs.

Eligible loan recipients are eligible for forgiveness of indebtedness for all or a portion of the stated principal amount of a covered PPP loan if certain conditions are satisfied, and the forgiven amount is excluded from the borrower’s gross income.

How To Report Forgiven PPP Loans?

IRC §6050P generally requires a lender that discharges at least $600 of a borrower’s indebtedness to file a Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, with the IRS and to furnish a payee statement to the borrower.  Concerned that the filing of such information returns could result in the issuance of under-reporter notices (IRS Letter CP2000) to eligible recipients, on September 22, 2020, the IRS announced that lenders in the PPP should not file cancellation-of-debt information returns or furnish payee statements under IRC §6050P to report the amount of qualifying forgiveness with respect to covered loans made under PPP.

Can You Deduct Expenses Paid With PPP Loan Proceeds That Are Forgiven?

On November 18, 2020, the IRS announced that since businesses are not taxed on the proceeds of a forgiven PPP loan, the expenses are not deductible. Now it is interesting to note that the CARES Act did not specifically address whether the expenses used to achieve the loan forgiveness would continue to be deductible.  The IRS came up with this announcement on the basis laid out in Revenue Ruling 83-3 which states that where tax-exempt income is earmarked for a specific purpose, and deductions are incurred in carrying out that purpose, IRC §265(a) applies in disallowing the deductibility of those expenses because such deductions are allocable to the tax-exempt income.

What can PPP funds be used to pay?

PPP funds can be used to pay payroll costs including benefits (with salaries being under $100,000 per employee), interest on mortgages, rent payments, and utility bills; however, no more than 40% of the funds can be used for non-payroll costs.

What counts as payroll costs?

  • Salary, wages, commissions, or tips (capped at $100,000 on an annualized basisfor each employee);
  • Employee benefits including costs for vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave; allowance for separation or dismissal; payments required for the provisions of group health care benefits including insurance premiums; and payment of any retirement benefit;
  • State and local taxes assessed on compensation; and
  • For a sole proprietor or independent contractor: wages, commissions, income, or net earnings from self-employment, capped at $100,000 on an annualized basisfor each employee.

What counts as non-payroll costs?

  • Intereston mortgage obligations, incurred before February 15, 2020;
  • Rent, under lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020; and
  • Utilities, for which service began before February 15, 2020.

Under what circumstances do I have to repay these PPP funds received?

The loan of the PPP funds will be forgiven if you maintain your pre-existing employees at their pre-existing salary levels.  Also, that you do not pay out more than 40% of the PPP funds for non-payroll costs specifically limited to: interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.

What if I do not spend all the funds or make non-qualifying expenditures?

The amount of loan forgiveness will be reduced including if full-time headcount declines or if salaries and wages decrease.  Also, if you use the loan amount for anything other than payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities payments over the 24 weeks after getting the loan.

How can I request loan forgiveness?

You can submit a request to the lender that is servicing the loan by completing the SBA application. The request will include documents that verify the number of full-time equivalent employees and pay rates, as well as the payments on eligible mortgage, lease, and utility obligations. You must certify that the documents are true and that you used the forgiveness amount to keep employees and make eligible mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments. The lender must make a decision on the forgiveness within 60 days.

What Should You Do?

Your year-end tax planning should consider if your PPP loan will be forgiven in the future as the loan forgiveness is tied to deductibility of the expenses which impact how much tax a business could owe.  Let the 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 assist you maximizing your tax deductions.  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 Taxpayers Involved In Offshore Accounts, Crypto Currency Or Cannabis Should Be Filing An Extension For Their 2019 Income Tax Returns

Why Taxpayers Involved In Offshore Accounts, Crypto Currency Or Cannabis Should Be Filing An Extension For Their 2019 Income Tax Returns

If you did not report your offshore accounts, crypto currency income or cannabis income earned before 2019, you should hold off on filing your 2019 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 2019 individual income tax returns or request an extension of time to file the tax return is Wednesday, July 15, 2020 (normally would have been April 15th but extended due to COVID-19).  A timely filed extension will extend the filing deadline to Thursday, October 15, 2020 thus giving you an extra three months to meet with tax counsel and determine how to address your pre-2019 tax reporting delinquencies and/or exposure and how to present your situation on your 2019 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.

Crypto Currency

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.

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

With the proliferation of licensed cannabis businesses sprouting in the State Of California since 2018, 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 2019.

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

5 Moves To Make Before Year End That Can Save You A Lot of Money on Your 2019 Taxes

5 Moves To Make Before Year End That Can Save You A Lot of Money on Your 2019 Taxes

On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law the 2017 Tax Cuts And Jobs Act. It’s been a good 30 years since the last time the Internal Revenue Code received such a major update.

Major Changes From The New Law Include:

Compressed And Lower Income Tax Rates For Individuals.

Increased Standard Deduction For Individuals

Elimination Of Personal Exemptions

Limitations of Deductibility Of Itemized Deductions including Mortgage Interest and State & Local Taxes.

Lower Corporation Tax Rates.

The Big Picture:

With many itemized deductions having disappeared by the 2017 Tax Cuts And Jobs Act and the higher standard deduction, less taxpayers will be itemizing deductions in 2019 but there is still significant tax planning you can do. The key here is to accelerate deductions in 2019 and defer income into 2020.

Following are five year-end tax moves to make before this New Year’s Day:

  1. Give more to charity in 2019.

In addition to the usual dollar donations to charities, religious institutions and educational institutions, consider clearing your home of those unwanted household goods and clothing to give to charities. Many groups will accept these items even vehicles, with some even making arrangements to pick up them up from your home. You may also consider to donate stock or mutual funds that you’ve held for more than a year but that no longer fit your investment goals. The charity gets the asset to hold or sell, and your portfolio re-balancing nets you a deduction for the asset’s value at the time of gifting. Even better, you do not have to worry about capital gains taxes on the appreciation of your gift. Remember that if you take the standard deduction in 2019, you won’t get any tax savings from your charitable contributions made in 2019.

  1. Make the most of your home – mortgage interest.

Home-ownership provides a variety of tax breaks, some of which you can use by year-end to reduce your current year’s tax bill. Make your January mortgage payment by December 31st and deduct the mortgage interest on your 2019 tax return.

  1. Make the most of your home – property taxes.

Like prepaying mortgage interest, the same tactic will apply for property taxes; however, keep in mind that property taxes along with other state and local taxes will be deductible only up to $10,000.

  1. Pay your self-employed business expenses now.

If you are self-employed, you should accelerate payment of your business expenses in 2019. Recognizing these expenses in 2019 will provide you with a tax savings for 2019.

  1. Defer your income into 2020.

If you are a small business owner, consider delaying income until January 2020. So if you are chasing up some customers or clients to pay the bill you sent them a while ago, you might want to wait until January to get aggressive on collecting. Consider delaying the delivery of invoices for year-end jobs until January 2020. Small business owners should make sure they are benefiting from the deduction of 20% of their business income. If you are an employee, ask your boss to hold your bonus until January. Individuals should also consider putting more money into a tax-deferred workplace retirement plan in 2019 and hold off on selling assets that will produce a capital gain until 2020.

What Should You Do?

With not much time left in 2019 you will need to act quickly on those tax moves that are easy to accomplish to reduce your tax bill.

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

What You Need To Know To Deduct Charitable Contributions On Your 2019 Income Tax Return

What You Need To Know To Deduct Charitable Contributions On Your 2019 Income Tax Return

The end of 2019 is coming and so more people are thinking how they can reduced their taxes. The more itemized deductions you can rack up on you individual income tax return, the smaller amount of taxable income you will have which now puts more money in your pocket. Taxpayers who gave money or goods to a charity should be able to claim charitable contributions which get included as an itemized deduction on their 2019 federal tax return.

Here are some important facts you need to know about claiming charitable contributions to save on taxes and withstand an IRS audit.

  1. Qualified Charity. Only donations to qualified charitable organizations are deductible. Do not merely rely on the organization’s website or what the organization may state. If you are questioning whether an organization is qualified, you can check with IRS directly through the IRS website. To check the status of a charity, use the IRS Select Check tool. Keep in mind that religious institutions including churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques are considered “de facto” charitable organizations and are eligible to receive deductible donations even if they are not on the IRS’ website. However, you can never deduct donations to political organizations and candidates. Also, you cannot deduct contributions to specific individuals no matter how deserving or sympathetic to their tragic situation.
  1. You Must Itemize. To deduct donations, you must include these donations as Itemized Deductions on Schedule A of Form 1040. If the total amount of your Itemized Deductions does not exceed the Standard Deduction already given to you by the Federal government, you won’t get any real benefit from making these donations.
  1. Deductible Portion Of Donation May Be Reduced. You can only deduct the amount of your donation that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit received. If you get something in return for your donation, you would have to reduce your deduction by the value you received. Examples of benefits include merchandise, meals and tickets to events.
  1. Property donation. If you give property instead of cash, you can normally only deduct the item’s fair market value. Fair market value is generally the price you would get for the property item on the open market. Donating property that has appreciated in value, like stock, can result in a double benefit. Not only can you deduct the fair market value of the property (so long as you have owned it for at least one year), you will avoid paying capital gains tax.
  1. Donations From Your Retirement Account. Typically, if you want to make a donation from your IRA, you’d have to withdraw those funds, pay the tax and then make the donation. However, IRA owners who are age 70½ or older can transfer up to $100,000 per year to an eligible charity tax-free and the transfer counts toward your required minimum distribution (RMD) for the year. To be an eligible transfer, funds must be transferred directly by the IRA trustee to the charity. Withdrawing the monies first and then writing the check to the charity will not qualify for the non-recognition of income.
  1. Form to File. You would file Form 8283 for all non-cash gifts totaling more than $500 for the year. Keep an itemized list of for donations of non-cash items – do not just state you gave a bag of clothes and expect to substantiate the value of what you gave. Instead be specific, noting the description and condition of the items. You can generally take a deduction for the fair market value of the item which is the price that a willing buyer would pay to a willing seller. If you contribute property worth more than $5,000, you must obtain a written appraisal of the property’s fair market value.
  1. Proof of Donation. If you donated cash or goods of $250 or more, you must have a written statement from the charity. The statement must show:
    • Amount of the donation.
    • Description of any property given.
    • Whether the donor received any goods or services in exchange for the gift.  

For cash donations under $250, you should always have substantiation of payment by a bank record such as a canceled check or credit card receipt, clearly annotated with the name of the charity or in writing from the organization. Even with a statement from the charity, it is still a good idea to retain this evidence of payment.

  1. You Can’t Deduct The Value Of Your Time. While your time is valuable, when you volunteer your time for charities, the IRS does not allow a charitable deduction for the time you spent. However, most out of pocket expenses relating to volunteering are should be deductible so long as they are not reimbursed to you or considered personal. Out of pocket charitable expenses which might be deductible include parking fees and tolls; other travel expenses; uniforms or other related clothing worn as part of your charitable service; and supplies used in the performance of your services. You will need to keep receipts evidencing payment in case you are questioned by the IRS.
  1. Timing Of Contribution. Contributions are deductible in the year the contributions are made so for the 2019 tax year that would had to been no later than December 31, 2019. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that by the 31st the cash payment had to be made out of your account. Contributions made by text message are deductible in the year you send the text message if the contribution is charged to your telephone or wireless account. Contributions made by credit card charges are deductible in the year charged so long as the charge is posted by your credit card company in that tax year. The credit charge itself does not have to be paid off by the end of the tax year it was charged. Similarly, checks which are written and mailed by the end of the year will be deductible for the year written if they are not cashed until the following year. Announcing that you intend to donate assets will not qualify for a deduction in the current tax year until the tax year you make good on the pledge.

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 Diego County (Carlsbad) and elsewhere in California are highly skilled in handling tax matters and can effectively represent at all levels with the IRS and State Tax Agencies including criminal tax investigations and attempted prosecutions, unreported crypto currency transactions, 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. If you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

Important Tax Tips To Know If You Receive Income From Uber, Lyft, Airbnb Or Other Online Platform

Important Tax Tips To Know If You Receive Income From Uber, Lyft, Airbnb Or Other Online Platform

During my last ride on Lyft, I was thinking about how the IRS is responding to the growing usage of many online platforms like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb in what is commonly referred to as the “sharing economy”.

Here are four important tips you should know about how the sharing economy might affect your taxes and to keep you out of trouble with the IRS:

1. The activity is taxable.

If you receive income from a sharing economy activity, it’s generally taxable even if you don’t receive a Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, Form 1099-K, Payment Card and Third Party Network Transactions, Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, or some other income statement. This is true even if you do it as a side job or just as a part time business and even if you are paid in cash and to minimize how much you need to pay in taxes, it is imperative that you keep track of your business expenses.

2. Some expenses are deductible. The tax code allows you to deduct certain costs of doing business from gross income. For example, a taxpayer who uses their car for business may qualify to claim the standard mileage rate, which is 58 cents per mile for 2019. Generally, you cannot deduct personal, living or family expenses. You can deduct the business part only, such as supplies, cell phones, auto expenses, food and drinks for passengers, car washes, parking fees, tolls, roadside assistance plans, taxes, and incentives associated with certain electric and hybrid vehicles.

Example: You used your car only for personal purposes during the first 6 months of the year. During the last 6 months of the year, you drove the car a total of 15,000 miles of which 12,000 miles were driven to provide transportation services through a company that provides such services through requests to its app. This gives you a business use percentage of 80% (12,000 ÷ 15,000) for that period. Your business use for the year is 40% (80% × 6/12). 

Example: You use your car both for personal purposes and to provide transportation arranged through a company that provides transportation service through its app. You must divide your personal and business expenses based on actual mileage. You can deduct the business part of these actual car expenses, which include depreciation (or lease payments), gas and oil, tires, repairs, tune-ups, insurance, and registration fees. Or, instead of figuring the business part of these actual expenses, you may be able to use the standard mileage rate to figure your deduction. Depending on the facts and circumstances, you may be providing the services either in a self-employed capacity or as an employee. If you are self-employed, you can also deduct the business part of interest on your car loan, state and local personal property tax on the car, parking fees, and tolls, whether or not you claim the standard mileage rate

3. You Could Be Subject To Self Employment Tax

The net income from your service-related activity with the sharing economy facilitator is subject to Self-Employment taxes, (Social Security and Medicare), at a 15.3% rate.  Now you will get to deduct one-half of these Self Employment taxes on your Form 1040 but if you consider that you still have income taxes to pay as well, the effective tax rate can easily exceed 30% and you will also have your state’s income tax on top of that.

So whether you are using your personal car for business or part of your residence as a home office, you will need to have good personal records of your expenses. In a situation where you are using your personal car for business you typically can deduct either “actual” costs for the percentage of business use, (though cell phone and food probably are not pertinent) or you can deduct mileage at a standard rate for business use. If you go the “simple” route and deduct mileage instead of “actual” expenses your Schedule C would consist of exactly 2 lines so it’s not very hard – but you will loose out on a lot of deductions and pay a lot more in taxes.

4. Beware Of Requirement To Make Estimated Tax Payments.

Remember you are not an “employee” of the sharing economy facilitators; you are an “independent contractor”.  As such, there is no withholding of any taxes from your checks; you are responsible for all taxes – Self Employment taxes and income taxes – on your net earnings.  The U.S. tax system is pay-as-you-go. This means that taxpayers involved in the sharing economy often need to make estimated tax payments during the year. These payments are due on April 15, June 15, September 15 and January 15 (of the next year). Taxpayers use Form 1040-ES to figure these payments.

Why The IRS Likes The Sharing Economy.

Unlike traditional transactions where two parties directly deal with each other and nothing is reported to the IRS, sharing economy facilitators who connect the two parties, collect the money from the paying party and transmit the revenue to the service provider will report the sale to IRS using Form 1099. The IRS now has a tool by which they can match up the amount of income you report on your tax return and if the Form 1099 amount is greater, you can be sure that the IRS will catch this and send you a tax bill.

What Should You Do?

As the sharing economy continues to grow, so do the associated tax problems. The IRS obviously is interested in folks who earn money using their autos as on-call car services or rent their homes to out-of-towners and being that it is summer the IRS knows this activity is even more prevalent. It’s important to keep good records. Choose a recordkeeping system suited to your business that clearly shows your income and expenses. The business you’re in affects the type of records you need to keep for federal tax purposes. Your recordkeeping system should include a summary of your business transactions. Your records must also show your gross income, as well as your deductions and credits. Federal law sets statutes of limitations that can affect how long you need to keep tax records.

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

Protect yourself. 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 Walnut Creek and San Jose) 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. And if you are involved in cannabis, check out what a cannabis tax attorney can do for you.