Author Archives: Coleman Jackson

How Do You Get Rid of an IRS Tax Lien?

By:  Coleman Jackson, Attorney, Certified Public Accountant
January 29, 2020

How Do You Get Rid of an IRS Tax Lien

When the Internal Revenue Service sends you a tax bill and you do not pay it, a federal tax lien is created by operation of law whether the IRS files the lien in the public property records in your state or not.  A tax lien is merely an enforceable claim that attaches to your property and right to property.  If the IRS files the lien in the public property records, they must under the law inform you of this action.  This is done by a Notice of Federal Tax Lien.

 

IRS levy property

A federal tax lien does not authorize the IRS is take your property.  For this, the IRS must levy your property.  A levy is a lawful process by which the taxing authority can take your property or right to property without the necessity to obtain a court order. Don’t get confused between a lien (notice of tax debt) and a levy (taking of your property).  Taxpayers have a right to appeal both actions in the Office of Appeals and possibly to the U.S. Tax Court if their challenge is timely.For now, the question in this blog is how do you get rid of an IRS tax lien?

 

Taxpayers can get rid of an IRS tax lien

Taxpayers can get rid of an IRS tax lien!  If the tax debt has paid in full, the taxpayer can get rid of the tax lien by seeking a release of the lien.  This is typically an automatic process; but if it’s not, request a release of the lien.  Taxpayers can seek exemption of certain property from the lien.  This is typically done to facilitate the sale or financing of real property or business property with an attached federal tax lien.  Taxpayers can post a bond and ask that the lien be released.  Taxpayers can get rid of a tax lien by filing a challenge in the Office of Appeals as to procedural issues since the IRS must comply with exacting legal rules with respect to filing federal tax liens.  Perfecting an IRS tax lien like any lien is a matter of state law which varies from state to state.   In Texas property law varies from county to county.  This simply means that the IRS must comply with each counties law when filing liens in the county property records.  There are 254 counties in Texas.  In addition to any procedural issues,taxpayers can also get rid of a federal lien by challenging it on substantive legal grounds.  Finally, taxpayers can get rid of an IRS tax lien if the ten-year collections statute has expired unless the collection statute has been extended or suspended by bankruptcy proceedings or for other reasons.  The release of the tax lien is automatic on the expiry of the ten-year collection statute.  This is merely a summary of how to get rid of a tax lien; in law, there are a lot of twist and turns depending upon all the facts and circumstances.

 

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432

Federal Taxation and Cutting Horses:  It’s Not Just About The Horses

By:  Coleman Jackson, Attorney, Certified Public Accountant
December 16, 2019

Federal Taxation and Cutting Horses: It’s Not Just About The Horses

Recently I came across a United States Tax Court memorandum decision dated November 25, 2019 involving a South Dakota farmer with a cutting horse and seed business.  The issues in the case that struck me were (1) whether the taxpayer’s cutting horse activity was an activity “not engaged in for profit” within the meaning of Section 183 of the Internal Revenue Code, and (2) whether the taxpayer should be required to pay the accuracy-related penalties under Section 6662(a) of the Internal Revenue Code.  The case was Lowell G. Den Besten, Petitioner v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Respondent, T.C. Memo 2019-154 (November 25, 2019).  Note that Tax Court Memo decisions cannot be used as precedent by other taxpayers.  So this blogs aim is to pull general observations from the Besten case because federal taxation and cutting horses is not just about the horses.

 

The significant thing for other individuals and businesses who find themselves tangled in a spirited horse race with the IRS is not whether they are in the cutting horse business or whether or not they are in the seed business

The taxpayer won on two of the three issues argued before the U.S. Tax Court.  The significant thing for other individuals and businesses who find themselves tangled in a spirited horse race with the IRS is not whether they are in the cutting horse business or whether or not they are in the seed business.  The significant points of this case are (a) the IRS holds a presumptive correctness in all tax deficiency matters, and (2) the taxpayer always bears the burden to prove that; more likely than not, they are entitled to the deductions claimed on their tax returns.  That means that the taxpayer must always maintain and produce credible substantiation of all items recorded on their tax returns.  This has been operative tax law governing IRS deficiency cases ever since the United States Supreme Court ruled on these two points in a pair of federal tax cases known as Welch v Helvering, 290 U.S. 111, 115 (1933) and New Colonial Ice Co., v. Helvering, 292 U.S. 435, 440 (1934).   Guy Tressillain Helvering, a Democrat from Kansas was the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue of the Bureau of Internal Revenue from 1933 to 1943.  This is the legacy agency of the Internal Revenue Service.  Today, typically tax cases are styled “Taxpayer v. Comm’r”.  Anyway, locks on doors are preparatory.  Folks put locks on their doors to prepare for when the thief comes.  The same way, taxpayer’s must collect, summarize, and maintain substantiation for all deductions claimed on their tax returns in the event the IRS examiner visits.  In the 2019 Besten case, we see the U.S. Tax Court applying the rules established in the 1930s.  In tax law and in law in general, predictability matters; there is little benefit of surprise, duplicity and uncertainty in law.  Taxpayers can prepare and comply with the law if they know the applicable law because federal tax law is not just about the horses.

 

Internal Revenue Code Section 6662 permits the IRS to assess a 20% accuracy penalty on tax deficiencies

Internal Revenue Code Section 6662 permits the IRS to assess a 20% accuracy penalty on tax deficiencies.  The accuracy-related penalties can be imposed by the IRS when tax deficiencies are due to the taxpayer’s negligence, recklessness or willful violations of the federal tax laws. In the Besten case, the taxpayer avoided paying the accuracy-related penalty because he was able to adequately convince the U.S. Tax Court that he acted reasonably and acted in good faith by relying on the professional advice of his tax professional.  This is often a viable defense for the taxpayer who can meet the burden that they (a) relied on the advice of their tax professional, (b) their tax professional was competent and experienced, and (c) they gave their tax professional accurate and complete information and documentation regarding the tax issue. So this particular reasonable cause defense (reliance of the tax professional’s advice and guidance), like the other reasonable cause defenses that might be applicable, depends on all the facts and circumstances because federal taxation and cutting horses is not just about the horses.  Reasonable cause defenses are not automatic relief; but like cutting horses, every reasonable defense should be explored when confronting additional taxes, penalties and interest, because cutting cost is another way of saving money.

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432

What’s up with the Taxpayer First Act

By Coleman Jackson, Attorney & Certified Public Accountant
November 20, 2019

Taxpayer First Act - TFA

During this past summer, the Taxpayer First Act (“TFA”) became U.S. tax law.  The U.S. Congress’ stated purpose of implementing the Taxpayer First Act was to modernize and improve the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.  From a bird’s eye view, the following are three tax law changes that are among the more significant changes made to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 by the Taxpayer First Act:

 

Form 1040 Taxpayer

  1. The TFA established within the Internal Revenue Service an office known as the ‘Internal Revenue Service Independent Office of Appeals’ to be headed by a Chief of Appeals completely independent and reporting directly to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The Office of Appeals is designed to give taxpayers a path to resolution of their disputes with the IRS in the administrative process without the need for costly tax litigation.  Any taxpayer in receipt of a notice of deficiency authorized under Internal Revenue Code section 6212 may request referral to the Internal Revenue Service Independent Office of Appeals.  Individuals and businesses in tax disputes with the IRS can request and obtain their IRS case files in advance of their appearing at an office of appeals conference in defense of their position.  This would permit the taxpayers to school themselves on the applicable law and marshal the facts in support of their tax return position.  Moreover taxpayers will have the right to have their tax cases heard by an independent decision maker and the right to protest adverse IRS decisions against them, including but not limited to, the IRS rejection of their request to go to the Independent Office of Appeals.  The taxpayer will have certain due process rights in the conduct of the Office of Appeals and the dispute resolution procedures.  Finally, the TFA provides that the IRS Independent Office of Appeals process will enjoy increased Congressional Oversight since the IRS Commissioner must submit annual reports to Congress under the TFA.

 

2.	The TFA modifies Internal Revenue Code Section 6015 with respect to Equitable Relief from Joint Liability

  1. The TFA modifies Internal Revenue Code Section 6015 with respect to Equitable Relief from Joint Liability, such as, the joint and severable liability associated with taxpayers signing a tax return with a spouse. The U.S. Tax Court now have the right to review de novo the administrative record established at the time of the IRS determination on the taxpayers innocent spouse relief or other equitable relief claim.  Under the TFA the Tax Court also can consider any additional newly discovered or previously unavailable evidence.  Equitable Relief cases are to be decided based on all the facts and circumstances.  Federal tax law governing equitable relief has always established certain limitations both in fact and time that are not removed or modified by the TFA.  The TFA changes impacting equitable relief claims apply to pending cases filed before this summer and all future equitable relief cases.

 

3.	The TFA modifies Internal Revenue Code Section 6503 with respect to IRS Issuance of Designated Summons

  1. The TFA modifies Internal Revenue Code Section 6503 with respect to IRS Issuance of Designated Summons. First the issuance of such summons must now be preceded by a review and written approval by the Commissioner of the relevant operating division of the Internal Revenue Service and Chief Counsel.  Moreover the burden is on the IRS to establish in the court proceeding that reasonable requests were made for the information forming the basis of the summons.  Taxpayers defending summons in court have due process rights to present counter argument and evidence to the contrary.

These are only three of the changes to tax law pursuant to the Taxpayer First Act (“TFA”); there are other significant changes as well.  Watch our future blog posts which could deal with the IRS implementation of the TFA; Internal Revenue Service Independent Office of Appeals developments under the TFA; and the federal court’s interpretations of the TFA.

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432

Changes to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Coming on November 21, 2019

By:  Coleman Jackson, Attorney, Certified Public Accountant
October 11, 2019

Changes to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Coming on November 21, 2019

The United States Congress first established the EB-5 immigrant visa classification in 1990 by enacting Public Law 101-649, 104 Stat. 4978.  The stated purpose of the law was to encourage foreign investors to make capital investments in the United States to grow the economy and employ Americans and others authorized to work in the United States.  In return the foreign investor could apply to become a Lawful Permanent Resident of the United States.  The basic fundamentals of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program have not materially changed since its inception; until now!

 

EB-5 Immigrant Investor program

On Wednesday, July 24, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security published rules that will materially change the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program.  The changes go into effect on November 21, 2019.  Department of Homeland Security’s stated reasons for implementing the changes to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program:  the rule changes “amends the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations governing the employment based fifth preference (EB-5) immigrant investor classification and associated regional centers to reflect statutory changes and modernize the EB-5 program.”  The overall goal of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is the same as they were in 1990; the Final Rule states;

“In general, under the EB-5 program, individuals are eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence in the United States if they make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and create or, in certain circumstances, preserve 10 full-time jobs for qualified United States workers.”

 

EB-5 Immigrant Investor program

Some of the more significant changes to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program are as follows:

  • An EB-5 immigrant petitioner can use the priority date of an approved and unrevoked prior petition in the same classification for which the investor qualifies.
  • The standard minimum investment is raised to $1.8 million from the $1.0 million set in 1990.
  • The minimum investment is raised to $900,000 from the $500,000 set in 1990 for TEA (rural areas or areas with unemployment of at least 150% of the national average).
  • TEA areas are no longer to be defined by the States; and DHS is taking a more active role in the methodology in TEA designations.

These are a summary of the major changes to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program that will take effect on November 21, 2019.

 

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business. 

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432

Remote Sellers Must Register in Texas before October 1, 2019

By Coleman Jackson, Attorney, Certified Public Accountant
September 16, 2019

 

Remote Sellers Must Register in Texas before October 1, 2019

Texas imposes a 6.25 percent state sales tax and use tax on all retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods and some services that are either sold in Texas or used in Texas.  Cities, Counties and Transit Authorities can charge up to 2% sales tax on taxable goods and services.  This local sales tax varies from city to city, county to county and transit authority to transit authority throughout the state of Texas.   The maximum sales and use tax in Texas is 8.25 percent.

 

online retail sales

Remote sellers are required to begin sales and use tax collection on October 1, 2019 on their Texas sales.    The remote seller must collect the correct tax by using the Sales Tax Rate Locator.  For example if a remote seller sales a chest of imported cigars to a person residing in Dallas, Texas; they must collect 8.25 percent tax on the gross sale at the time of the sale.  If this same sale is made in another city of Texas the total collected tax could be lower.  It would not be higher because 8.25% is the maximum sales and use tax in Texas.  However, other types of tax obligations could be implicated in this hypothetical, such as, tobacco taxes and fees. Remote sellers doing business in Texas must register with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts before October 1, 2019 to fulfill their Texas tax responsibilities.  First, remote sellers must apply for a Sales Tax Permit pursuant to the Texas Tax Code.

 

remote seller

Once the remote seller is properly registered with the Texas Comptroller of Public Account and receive their sales tax permit, they will be advised by the Texas Comptroller as to whether they must report their taxable sales and use taxes on a monthly basis, quarterly basis or annual basis.  Monthly sales and use tax reports are due on the 20th day of each month following the reporting month.  Quarterly filers must file their sales and use tax reports on April 20th, July 20th October 20th and January 20th.  Annual filers must report taxable Texas sales and use taxes on January 20th for the previous year.

Out of State sellers or remote sellers are required to begin collecting sales and use tax from their Texas customers on October 1, 2019.  If the remote seller fails to register and report Texas Sales and Use Tax they will be subjected to the penalties, administrative actions, and judicial options available under the Texas Tax Code in enforcing the tax laws.  The TTC provides for civil and criminal sanctions against businesses doing business in Texas and not in compliance with their tax responsibilities.

 

Businesses out of Texas

Businesses, who run afoul of the Texas Tax Code and desire to comply with Texas tax laws, whether they are in Texas or someplace else in the world, could possibly qualify to voluntarily disclose under the Texas Voluntary Disclosure Agreement Process (VDA).  A company representative must initiate the process on behalf of an anonymous client who meets the threshold requirements by contacting the Business Activity Research Team (BART) in writing.  If the business has already been contacted by the Texas Comptroller regarding non-compliance with Texas Tax laws, the business cannot voluntarily disclose.  It should be noted that the VDA process is available for all types of taxes administered by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.  Some of the types of taxes that the Texas Comptroller is responsible for administering under the Texas Tax Code are as follows:

  • Sales and Use Tax
  • Hotel Tax
  • Franchise Tax
  • Tobacco Taxes and Fees
  • Battery Sales Fees
  • Cement Production
  • Boat and Boat Motor Taxes
  • Insurance Taxes
  • Manufactured Housing
  • Controlled Substances

 

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432

The Earned Income Tax Credit Two Year Band

By Coleman Jackson, Attorney, Certified Public Accountant
September 10, 2019

 

The Earned Income Tax Credit

The Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC is designed to assist working class families with children by putting money in their pockets.  The EITC is a tax credit, not, a tax deduction.  The difference is huge!   A tax credit is a dollar for dollar reduction in the taxes owed.  Tax credits generally will result in refunds and money in the taxpayers’ pockets. EITC often results in refunds to the taxpayer; although the IRS cannot issue refund checks for the Earned Income Tax Credit before mid-February.

 

The Earned Income Tax Credit

 

The rules for qualifying and claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit are complicated.  An excerpt from IRS Publication 596 reads as follows:

 

Table 1. Earned Income Credit in a Nutshell:  First, you must meet all the rules in this column.
Chapter 1. Rules for Everyone
1. Your adjusted gross income (AGI) must be less than: • $49,194 ($54,884 for married filing jointly) if you have three or more qualifying children, • $45,802 ($51,492 for married filing jointly) if you have two qualifying children, • $40,320 ($46,010 for married filing jointly) if you have one qualifying child, or • $15,270 ($20,950 for married filing jointly) if you don’t have a qualifying child. 2. You must have a valid social security number by the due date of your 2018 return (including extensions).

3.Your filing status can’t be married filing separately.

4. You must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien all year.

5. You can’t file Form 2555 or Form 2555-EZ (relating to foreign earned income).

6. Your investment income must be $3,500 or less. 7.You must have earned income.

Second, you must meet all the rules in one of these columns, whichever applies.
Chapter 2. Rules If You Have a Qualifying Child Chapter 3. Rules If You Do Not Have a Qualifying Child
8. Your child must meet the relationship, age, residency, and joint return tests.

9. Your qualifying child can’t be used by more than one person to claim the EIC.

10. You can’t be a qualifying child of another person.

11. You must be at least age 25 but under age 65.

12. You can’t be the dependent of another person.

13. You can’t be a qualifying child of another person.

14. You must have lived in the United States more than half of the year.

Third, you must meet the rule in this column.
Chapter 4.Figuring and Claiming the EIC
15. Your earned income must be less than: • $49,194 ($54,884 for married filing jointly) if you have three or more qualifying children, • $45,802 ($51,492 for married filing jointly) if you have two qualifying children, • $40,320 ($46,010 for married filing jointly) if you have one qualifying child, or • $15,270 ($20,950 for married filing jointly) if you don’t have a qualifying child.

 

If a taxpayer claims the Earned Income Tax Credit, the IRS may send a letter to them asking that they send the IRS information to verify the EITC claim.  An appropriate and timely response to the request for substantiation of the EITC is very important because failure to do so could prohibit the taxpayer from claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for subsequent tax periods.  The EITC substantiation may be in the form of the child’s birth certificate, health records, school records and other evidence in substantiation that the taxpayers’ meet all of the qualifications listed above to claim the EITC.  In the event the taxpayers improperly claim the EITC, the taxpayer is banded for two years from claiming the credit.  Internal Revenue Code Section 32(k)(1) permits the IRS to enforce the rules regulating the Earned Income Tax Credit by banding violators from claiming the EITC up to two years.  Recently the IRS Office of Chief Counsel issued an advisement that essentially states that where a taxpayer improperly claim (or fail to substantiate) their EITC claim for one child and continues to claim the EITC in subsequent years for that child, the taxpayers are prohibited from claiming the EITC for that child and all other children even though they may qualify for the EITC in subsequent years.  Claiming the child tax credit when under the two year band for any child has grave consequences.

 

Taxpayers can use the EITC Assistant on the IRS website to see if they qualify for the EITC.  Again claiming the EITC improperly has grave financial consequences.  Working people with low to moderate incomes must follow all the EITC rules so that they don’t run afoul of them and be stopped from claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit even when they otherwise qualify for this working family tax benefit.

 

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432

Taxpayers with Significant Tax Debts Can Lose Their U.S. Passports

By Coleman Jackson, Attorney, Certified Public Accountant
August 21, 2019

 

Taxpayers with Significant Tax Debts Can Lose Their U.S. Passports

 

Ever heard of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015?  Well, under FAST the IRS has the authority to notify the State Department of taxpayers certified as owing the federal government.  A significant tax debt is currently defined as a delinquent tax bill of $52,000 or moreThe FAST requires the State Department to revoke the delinquent taxpayer’s U.S. passport and limit the taxpayer’s ability to travel outside the United States.

 

Taxpayer’s who intend to travel outside the United States must negotiate with the IRS to get the delinquent tax certification lifted

 

Taxpayer’s who intend to travel outside the United States must negotiate with the IRS to get the delinquent tax certification lifted.  Until that happens the taxpayer could become stranded outside of the U.S. with a revoked passport, or be blocked receiving a passport for the first time or on renewal leaving them unable to travel out of the country for any reason.

 

taxpayers who have to travel abroad must responsibility deal with their federal tax obligations long before they need to travel; because other than option one, above (paying the tax debt in full), the suggested options take months and some of them even take years to resolve in negotiations with the IRS

 

The IRS has identified several ways taxpayers can avoid having the IRS notify the State Department of their seriously delinquent tax debt as follows:

  1. Paying the tax debt in full;
  2. Paying the tax debt timely under an approved installment agreement;
  3. Paying the tax debt timely under an accepted offer in compromise;
  4. Paying the tax debt timely under the terms of a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice;
  5. Having a pending collection due process appeal with a levy; or
  6. Having collection suspended because a taxpayer has made an innocent spouse election or requested innocent spouse relief.

The practical tiptaxpayers who have to travel abroad must responsibility deal with their federal tax obligations long before they need to travel;  because other than option one, above (paying the tax debt in full),  the suggested options take months and some of them even take years to resolve in negotiations with the IRS.

The following types of taxpayers have been exempted from the delinquent taxpayer certification requirements under FAST:

  • Taxpayers in bankruptcy proceedings;
  • Identity Theft Victims;
  • Taxpayers whom the IRS has deemed non-collectible;
  • Taxpayers located within a federal declared disaster area;
  • Taxpayers with pending Installment Agreement request;
  • Taxpayers with pending Offer in Compromise with the IRS; or
  • Taxpayers with an IRS accepted adjustment that will satisfy the debt in full; and
  • Taxpayer’s serving in a combat zone is not exempt from the certification rules, but the certification is postponed while they do their tour of duty in the combat zone.

 

Taxpayers with plans to travel abroad simply need to be aware of the fact that their plans can be totally upended if they owe the federal government more$52,000 or more in back taxes.

 

Taxpayers with plans to travel abroad simply need to be aware of the fact that their plans can be totally upended if they owe the federal government $52,000 or more in back taxes.  The $52,000 could be owed on personal income taxes or business taxes where the individual taxpayer has been found be to be a responsible party, such as in payroll taxes with respect to the trust fund penalty that usually applies to delinquent taxpayer who owns the business or even employees of the business responsible for deciding what vendors and suppliers get paid and when.  Also the $52,000 certification threshold can be reached for a single tax period or multiple tax periods combined.  Example No 1, the taxpayer owes the IRS $2,000 for 2009, $14, 000 for 2015, and $40,000 for 2018.  In this example the taxpayer is seriously delinquent and the IRS under FAST can certify them as seriously delinquent to the U.S. State Department.  Example No. 2, the taxpayer owns a windmill manufacturing company with twenty employees; their business slowed to a whisper in the third quarter 2019 and the business owner decided to pay office rent, utilities, employees and suppliers and not the IRS payroll taxes.  The IRS learns of this decision and finds the owner the responsible party under the germane tax section and access a $52,000 trust fund penalty on the owner.  In this case, the owner/taxpayer could be certified by the IRS as a seriously delinquent taxpayer under FAST.  The owner’s passport could be revoked or their passport renewal could be denied by the U.S. State Department.

 

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432

FBAR

By:  Coleman Jackson, Attorney, Certified Public Accountant
July 16, 2019

FBAR - foreign bank accounts

 

The 1970 Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act, which is otherwise known as the Bank Secrecy Act requires U.S. residents, citizens and businesses with foreign bank accounts and certain other overseas assets to report those interest to the Financial Crimes Network annually on Form 114 by April 15th of the following year. Form 114 is the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts or (FBAR). The Bank Secrecy Act has a number of reporting requirements that are placed on financial institutions as well as those placed persons with foreign asset interests.  The record keeping and reporting requirements placed on  foreign account holders  are set out in detail in 31 U.S.C. Sec. 5414Form 114, the FBAR must be filed electronically through the Bank Secrecy Act E-Filing Network website.  The Financial Crimes Network is an agency of the United States Treasury but it is not the Internal Revenue Service.  These are two separate agencies under the U.S. Department of Treasury.

 

The Bank Secrecy Act at 31 U.S.C. Sec. 5414 also requires taxpayers with foreign bank accounts to disclose those accounts on their annual federal tax returns.

 

The Bank Secrecy Act at 31 U.S.C. Sec. 5414 also requires taxpayers with foreign bank accounts to disclose those accounts on their annual federal tax returns.  IRS Form 1040 at line 7a of Schedule B specifically asks whether the taxpayer has an interest or signatory authority over a foreign bank account.  A ‘yes ‘answer to this question on Schedule B requires the taxpayer to identify the country of the account and certain other details.  A taxpayer’s failure to check the box ‘yes’ when they have foreign bank interest or signatory authority over a foreign asset seriously increases their legal jeopardy because courts have said that failure to ‘check the box’  constitutes a willful violation of the  Bank Secrecy Act.  Failure to read the return has been held to be insufficient to avoid liability under the Act.  Avoiding knowledge of the Acts requirements has not been a successful plan.   Federal courts all over the country have addressed these various defenses and found them lacking weight.

 

IRS Form 1040 at line 7a of Schedule B specifically asks whether the taxpayer has an interest or signatory authority over a foreign bank account.

 

When a violation of the Bank Secrecy Act is not willful, the FBAR penalty for failure to disclose financial interest in foreign bank accounts, securities or other financial assets is capped at $10,000.  This cap only applies to non-willful violations of the FBAR statute.  Failure to check the box correctly and failure to disclose to a tax return preparer the existence of foreign bank accounts or other assets overseas is extremely likely to be found to be a willful violation of the Act.  The penalty permitted under the Bank Secrecy Act for a willful violation is equal to the greater of $100,000 or 50% of the highest balance in the account at the time of the violation.  There are also criminal penalties for violation of the Bank Secrecy Act if a taxpayer is tried and convicted under the Act.  Under the law, the Internal Revenue Service has 6 years from the date of the violation to assess the FBAR penalty and they can sue the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s estate to the collect the penalties.  Note that assessed FBAR penalties do not go away with the death of the taxpayer.

 

If the IRS assess FBAR penalties and the taxpayer refuses to pay them, the U.S. government can seek to collect the penalties in federal court pursuant to 31 U.S.C. Sec. 5321(b)(1).

 

Again, If the IRS assess FBAR penalties and the taxpayer refuses to pay them, the U.S. government can seek to collect the penalties in federal court pursuant to 31 U.S.C. Sec. 5321(b)(1).   The government must demonstrate in court by a preponderance of the evidence that (a) the taxpayer is a U.S. resident, citizen or business entity subject to the Bank Secrecy Act, (b) the taxpayer had a reporting obligation under the Bank Secrecy Act and failed to satisfy that reporting obligation, and (c) the nature of the taxpayer’s violation in terms of non-willful or willful violation of the statute, and (d) the taxpayer has failed to timely pay the assessed penalty.  The taxpayer must plead and prove any statute of limitations defects in the government’s case.  FBAR cases, as a general matter, are fact based cases.  Taxpayers win some and loose some.

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432