Tag Archives: Tax

What’s wrong with paying business expenses in cash?

By Coleman Jackson, Attorney, CPA
October 15, 2018

What’s wrong with paying business expenses in cash?

 

Pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 162, a business can deduct an expense incurred in the business if it is an ordinary and necessary expense.  An ordinary expense is customary to the taxpayer’s industry, trade or profession.   Business expenses must be necessary, useful or helpful in the carrying on of the business purpose, or conducting of the taxpayer’s business enterprise.  Part and parcel of the term “ordinary and necessary” is the reality that an expense must be reasonable.  Whether an expense is ordinary, necessary and reasonable depends upon all the facts and circumstances.

 

 

Taxpayer’s must prove expenses are deductible on their tax returns!  In order to deduct an ordinary, necessary and reasonable expense, a taxpayer must substantiate or prove the expense.  Substantiation simply means that the taxpayer must maintain documentation that shows the date, the amount, and the business purpose of the transaction.  The taxpayer should also substantiate the manner and method of payment for the transaction.  What’s wrong with paying business expenses in cash?  Cash is fungible, which means that, generally, it leaves no trace of where it is going or where it is coming from.  Therefore, if a taxpayer must transact business in cash, the taxpayer must create and maintain a contemporary record documenting the date, the amount, the parties, and the business purpose of the transaction.  A cash receipt could be a convenient way of documenting cash transactions.  Likewise, a contemporary diary could be a useful tool to use to document cash transactions.

 

 

Best business practices are to never conduct business in cash because large or frequent cash transactions could be indicative of tax fraud or other nefarious business dealings.  Undocumented cash transactions cannot be substantiated, and might be difficult to trace.  Taxpayer’s always must, upon request by the Internal Revenue Service, produce credible substantiation for all business expenses.  Unsubstantiated expenses do not satisfy the requirements of Internal Revenue Code Section 162.  Remember!  Business expenses are only deductible on the federal tax return if they are ordinary, necessary and reasonable.  Unsubstantiated cash payments spell super bad news— potentially huge tax bills and possible criminal prosecution for federal tax evasion.

 

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

Offshore Accounts? The Train Is Leaving the Station! IRS To End Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) on September 28, 2018

By:  Coleman Jackson, Attorney and Certified Public Accountant
September 22, 2018

The IRS is closing down the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program on September 28, 2018.  This voluntary international tax compliance program was designed to help people, organizations and business entities hiding money, accounts and assets overseas to get current and come into compliance with U.S. tax laws voluntarily under a reduced civil penalty structure and leniency with respect to potential criminal prosecution.  This program that has been in effect since about 2009  and extended in 2012 and again in 2014 is ending in about 7 days.

Non-compliant taxpayers with offshore accounts and assets have seven days to request permission to enter into the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.  Entry into the program begins with submission to the IRS Criminal Division a request for preliminary consideration for disclosure under the OVDP program.  If the prelim request is granted, the disclosure, review, approval and closing process takes about 12 to 18 months.  Taxpayers who may have committed criminal international tax evasion or are holding undisclosed offshore accounts risk being reported by their offshore banking or financial institution since these overseas institutions are required to either directly or indirectly report United States Citizens and/or Green Card Holders with accounts in their financial institutions to the Internal Revenue Service.

Once the OVDP expires on September 28, 2018, the IRS might implement a replacement program or some procedure or method for non- compliant taxpayers to come into international tax compliance, but as of yet, the IRS has not announced any offshore accounts leniency programs or procedures that will replace the expiring OVDP.  Word to the wise— apply for the OVDP before it expires on September 28, 2018.

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

EXPANSION OF PAID TAX RETURN PREPARER DUE DILIGENCE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

By Coleman Jackson, Attorney and Certified Public Accountant
August 10, 2018

EXPANSION OF PAID TAX RETURN PREPARER DUE DILIGENCE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Paid Tax return preparers must exercise due diligence when preparing and assisting taxpayers in complying with federal tax laws.  Internal Revenue Code Sec. 6695 (g) imposes a civil penalty on paid tax return preparers who fail to comply with due diligence eligibility requirements under the tax statute.  Originally, IRC Section 6695(g) only applied to determinations of a taxpayer’s eligibility for the earned income credit (EIC).  But the U.S. Congress has gradually amended IRC Sec. 6695 (g) to impose these due diligence eligibility requirements in more and more tax areas.  By the 2016 tax filing season, Congress had expanded IRC Sec. 6695(g) due diligence requirements to cover not only earned income tax credit eligibility determinations but also child tax credit eligibility determinations, additional child tax credit eligibility determinations and American opportunity tax credit eligibility determinations.  And in late December 2017, Congress expanded IRC Sec. 6695 (g) to cover head of household eligibility determinations.  There are civil penalties imposed on paid tax return preparers who violate IRC Sec. 6695 (g).

Under the mandatory paid tax return preparer due diligence requirements of Internal Revenue Code Sec 6695(g),  all paid tax return preparers must timely perform the following eligibility due diligence procedures when advising or assisting taxpayers in taking the American opportunity tax credit, earned income credit, child tax credit, additional child tax credit; and for returns filed in 2018, head of household status on any federal tax return:

Prepare and submit to the IRS with the underlying tax return a due diligence checklist

  1. Prepare and submit to the IRS with the underlying tax return a due diligence checklist (e.g. Form 8867 or some equivalent eligibility checklist), and keep the checklist for three years.  There is a separate penalty under IRC Sec. 6695(g) for failing to prepare the checklist (Form 8867), or for failing to submit the checklist (Form 8867) to the IRS or for failing to keep the checklist (Form 8867) at the tax return preparer’s business establishment for three years.

Return preparers must have actual knowledge of the taxpayer’s eligibility to qualify for the earned income credit

  1. Return preparers must have actual knowledge of the taxpayer’s eligibility to qualify for the earned income credit, child tax credit, additional child tax credit, American opportunity tax credit; and for tax returns filed in 2018, head of household filing status. Actual knowledge of the tax return preparer must be based on credible information obtained from the taxpayer or reasonably obtained by the return preparer from some other credible source; such as, information obtained from an educational institution, financial institution or governmental agency.  Moreover the actual amount or computation of the applicable credit must be derived from completion of appropriate tax worksheets and be consistent with all applicable guidelines, regulations and rulings of the Internal Revenue Service relating to each credit type, return or refund application rules.  There is a separate penalty under IRC Sec. 6695(g) for each and every credit claimed where the tax return preparer lacks or failed to obtain credible knowledge of the facts and circumstances governing a particular taxpayer’s eligibility for a particular credit or head of household filing status.  There are also civil penalties associated with failing to complete the computation worksheets or failing to maintain them.

Tax return preparers cannot ignore obvious facts or turn a blind eye to facts that are reasonably available to them in determining whether a taxpayer is eligible for the applicable credit or tax filing status

  1. Tax return preparers cannot ignore obvious facts or turn a blind eye to facts that are reasonably available to them in determining whether a taxpayer is eligible for the applicable credit or tax filing status. Due diligence requires the tax return preparer to ask reasonable questions, look around the trees and not get lost in the forest to make sure tax returns are prepared based on accurate information, complete information and congruent information while accurately applying applicable tax laws pursuant to Treas. Reg. Sec. 1.6695-2T(b)(3).    Tax return preparers, must under the Treasury Regulations, establish the identities of the parties (children and parents, for example); the return preparers must establish the relationships between the parties (children and parents, for example); return preparers must establish the taxpayers eligibility for the tax position (head of household, for example); and tax return preparers must determine the correct quantum allowed under the regulations. Paid tax return preparers satisfying these due diligence eligibility requirements are merely acting as an informed reasonable tax return preparer would under like circumstances.  There are separate penalties under IRS Sec. 6695 (g) if tax return preparers fail to meet ‘the reasonable and well informed tax return preparer knowledgeable in tax law’ standard of behavior.

maintain documentation identifying the source of the information used to establish the eligibility of the taxpayer to claim head of household

  1. Treasury Regulations implementing IRC Sec. 6695(g) require that the tax return preparer (a) maintain for three years all checklists (Form 8867, for example), (b) maintain all computation worksheets calculating the tax credits, and (c) maintain documentation identifying the source of the information used to establish the eligibility of the taxpayer to claim head of household, the earned income credit, the American opportunity tax credit, the child tax credit, and the additional child tax credit.  The tax regulations require that this due diligence documentation be maintain in good form and made available to IRS examiners’ in event of an IRS compliance review of the tax return preparer’s business facilities.

 

Accumulated IRC Sec. 6695(g) penalties can become substantial monetary burdens for any tax return preparer that lacks and understanding of preparer obligations and responsibilities under U.S. federal tax law; or ignores the rules or otherwise find themselves falling short of expectations under IRC Sec. 6695(g).   In recent years, it appears that the U.S. Congress is placing more-and-more responsibilities on paid tax return preparers to improve the quality of overall tax compliance.  As this blog points out more and more tax positions are being placed under the Internal Revenue Code Section 6695(g) tax return preparer due diligence umbrella.  There is potential criminal exposure to tax return preparer’s under the Internal Revenue Code as well; but, our intent is not to cover criminal violations of the tax code in this particular blog.  Watch our blogs for further discussions, like this one.  For now we will simply end this blog with our discussion of the civil penalty waiver.

As with other civil penalties under the tax code, penalties assessed under IRC Sec. 6695 can be waived if the tax return preparer can make a credible showing that their tax practice has implemented reasonable procedures to comply with tax rules; that those procedures are consistently and routinely followed and that these current violations of IRC 6695(g) are inadvertent, unintentional and isolated.  The basic rules and professional care exercised when documenting, marshaling and presenting any typical reasonable cause defense must be followed when making a credible argument to the agency or courts for waiver of the tax return preparer due diligence penalties under Internal Revenue Code Sec. 6695.

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

IRS to End the 2014 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program on September 28, 2018

By:  Coleman Jackson, Attorney, CPA
March 27, 2018

IRS to End the 2014 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program - OVDP on September 28, 2018

Have you heard the news!  On Monday, March 13, 2018 the IRS announced that it will end the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program on September 28, 2018.

It is likely already too late for all those people who are taking their chances and have not already made steps to enter the OVDP.  Practitioners from all over the country have experienced extreme delays in getting taxpayers pre-cleared into the 2014 OVDP for months.  Pre-clearance requests are taking more than 6 months these days.  IRS representatives have stated that the preclearance processing unit of the IRS has long backlogs in even logging in new OVDP preclearance requests.  The unit has about a 9 to 12 month back log in pre-clearance requests… so we have been told.

Taxpayers who have not taken advantage of the 2014 OVDP must act quickly.

Taxpayers who have not taken advantage of the 2014 OVDP must act quickly.  Repeat it is possible that it is now too late to act.  The U.S. Treasury has been receiving directly or indirectly information from foreign financial institutions concerning U.S. persons with foreign bank accounts for about two years now.   They probably already know those U.S. persons who hold foreign bank accounts.  The chances of being detected with respect to foreign bank holdings are probably extremely high.  In fact it might be impossible to hide from detection; and, possible federal prosecution of violators could rise.

Violators of FBAR rules by failing to timely report offshore bank accounts are subject to civil fines and criminal prosecution.  Foreign Bank Accounts are reported annually on April 15th by filing Form 114 with the Financial Crimes Network.  Delinquent FBARs put taxpayers in legal jeopardy.  There may also be federal income tax issues involved also if the taxpayer has under-reported its income or unfiled federal tax returns.   Tax fraud and delinquent FBARs are serious crimes which can result in violators spending years in federal prison upon conviction.

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