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Here’s Why People Filing Taxes Should Be Careful When Selecting A Professional Tax Return Preparer | LEGAL THOUGHTS

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Transcript of Legal Thoughts Podcast
Published March 10, 2021.

Here’s Why People Filing Taxes Should Be Careful When Selecting A Professional Tax Return Preparer

Legal Thoughts is a podcast presentation by Coleman Jackson, P.C., a law firm based in Dallas, Texas serving individuals, businesses, and agencies from around the world in taxation, litigation and immigration legal matters.

This particular episode of Legal Thoughts is a podcast where the Attorney, Coleman Jackson is being interviewed by Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant of Coleman Jackson, P.C.   The topic of discussion is ““Here’s why people filing taxes should be careful when selecting a professional tax return preparer.” You can listen to this podcast by clicking here:

You can also listen to this episode and subscribe to Coleman Jackson, P.C.’s Legal Thoughts podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Cashbox or wherever you may listen to your podcast.

TRANSCRIPT:

ATTORNEY:  Coleman Jackson
Legal Thoughts
COLEMAN JACKSON, ATTORNEY & COUNSELOR AT LAW

ATTORNEY:  Coleman Jackson

Welcome to Tax Thoughts

  • My name is Coleman Jackson and I am an attorney at Coleman Jackson, P.C., a taxation, litigation and immigration law firm based in Dallas, Texas.
  • Our topic for today is: “Here’s why people filing taxes should be careful when selecting a professional tax return preparer.”
  • Other members of Coleman Jackson, P.C. are Yulissa Molina, Tax Legal Assistant, Leiliane Godeiro, Litigation Legal Assistant, Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant and Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate.
  • On this “Legal Thoughts” podcast our public relations associate, Mayra Torres will be asking the questions and I will be responding to her questions on this important tax topic: Here’s why people filing taxes should be careful when selecting a professional tax return preparer.”

Interviewer:  Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate

  • Good morning everyone. My name is Mayra Torres and I am the public relations associate at Coleman Jackson, P.C.  Coleman Jackson, P.C. is a law firm based right here in Dallas Texas representing clients from around the world in taxation, litigation and immigration law.
  • Attorney today we are discussing a very important tax topic because filing taxes is on folks minds these days. Many people may be filing taxes for the first time this year because of the recovery rebate credit issues involving their economic impact payments and other Covid-19 relief received during 2020.
  • In this Podcast, we will be discussing the safest, easiest and perhaps cheapest way folks can file their tax returns.

Question 1:

Attorney let’s start with the cheapest way folks can file their taxes for 2020!  What options exist for people who do not want to pay a professional tax return preparer?  I mean, can people file their tax returns for free?

Attorney Answers Question 1:

  • Good morning Mayra.
  • First people can always prepare and file their tax return themselves without hiring and paying anyone.
  • Second people can go to IRS.gov and select a number of brand-name tax software providers who will permit certain eligible taxpayers to use their software to prepare and electronically file their individual tax return for absolutely free. This particular free tax preparation option might be an excellent option for some taxpayers.  Typically, the software providers require people to meet certain income, age and state residency requirements.  The software vendors’ individual qualifying requirements can be found at IRS.gov. Most of the free vendors software is in English, but a few are in Spanish.  This free file option is certainly an option that taxpayers should explore.
  • Third people can use possibly find free tax preparer clients hosted by various accounting and legal societies throughout the community. Some churches and business and law schools also provide minimum fee tax advice and counsel.  People should contact the professional schools in their communities to inquire whether students in tax law training provide such services to the community.  When I attended SMU School of Law, I participated in their tax clinic that provided free or minimum fee tax controversy services by enrolled students under the supervision of the tax clinic professor.  People should make inquiries at professional societies, schools, and places of worship to see what’s available.
  • So to summarize; Mayra, as you can see there are a number of options available for people to get their tax returns prepared at little to no costs.

Interviewer:  Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate

That is an excellent summary of the free or low-cost tax return preparation and filing options that might be available to people this year:

  1. people can prepare and file their returns without using anyone to help them;
  2. People can go to IRS.gov and select a brand-named software provider to prepare and file their return if they meet the provider’s qualification requirements, and
  3. People can search for a free or low-cost professional tax return preparer at local places of worship, or professional accounting or law societies or local law school tax clinics and accounting schools.

Question 2:

Attorney, some people can’t qualify for one of these free or low-cost tax preparation services. Some people just think taxes are very complex; they can’t prepare these complicated tax returns themselves, and they just want to hire someone to prepare the return and file it for them.  What characteristics and qualifications should people look for when hiring a tax return preparer?

Attorney Answers Question 2:

  • Mayra, that is a very good question since people are responsible for the accuracy of their tax return regardless of whether they prepare and file it themselves or hire someone else to prepare and file their return.
  • These are some of the things that people might should consider when selecting a tax return preparer:
    1. Indicial of educational training in tax law and tax accounting. This might be evidenced by a degree from college in taxes, accounting, law, finance, or some related business degree.  Return preparer might be qualified with only certificates but with increasing complexity of the tax issues involved, should cause taxpayers to exercise more exacting screening of a tax return preparer before they hire them to work on their return.
    2. Professional Tax Identification Number (or PTIN). The PTIN is an annual credentialing issued by the Department of Treasury to professionals authorized to practice before the Internal Revenue Service as paid tax return preparers. To obtain a PTIN, a tax professional must be an attorney in good standing with a State Bar Association, a licensed Certified Public Accountant in good standing with a state CPA licensing authority, an enrolled agent in good standing with the Internal Revenue Service, or a registered tax return preparer under the defunct IRS Registered Tax Return Preparer Program. Taxpayers should look for these types of credentialing when selecting a tax return preparer. In recent years, the annual PTIN fee has been suspended due to Court challenges regarding the IRS’ attempt to regulate tax practice.  The IRS’ stated goal when instituting the PTIN program was to improve the integrity and quality of the tax preparation industry.   Some tax professionals challenged this attempt in Court.  Nevertheless, PTIN credential could be a good metric for the public to use when selecting a tax return preparer.  The bottom line is this— when the professional does not have a current PTIN Card; It is possibly a bright red alert to the taxpayer that they could be taking unnecessary risk by hiring an unqualified tax return preparer.  Taxpayers are responsible and liable for the accuracy of their tax returns regardless of who prepares or files the return for them.
    3. Experience in tax return preparation is critical factor when selecting a tax return preparer. Tax law is constantly changing from year to year, and it is very important that the tax return professional maintains competencies in tax law on an annual basis.  The more experience that the tax return preparer has with the type of return involved the better.  For example, if you have foreign accounts, you should think long and hard before hiring any return preparer who has never worked with taxpayers with foreign accounts or offshore assets.  Over the years, our law firm has seen many taxpayers who have been greatly harmed by tax return preparers who failed to properly counsel and advise them with regards to proper tax accounting for offshore assets and accounts.
    4. So to summarize: taxpayers should look for relevant tax law and accounting education, IRS Tax Professional PTIN certificate and tax experience relevant to tax issues related to their particular situation when selecting a tax return preparer.
  • It is very important to make a wise selection choosing which tax return preparer to hire because taxpayers can be subject to civil penalties and even criminal exposure for inaccuracies and materially false statements and tax positions taken on their tax returns and in their claims for refunds.

Interviewer:  Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate

  • Bright Red Alert! Before hiring anyone to do your tax return, look at the tax return professional’s educational background… like where did they go to school and where did they learn tax and accounting; look at whether they have a current IRS Tax Professional PTIN certification, and look at whether they have the right type of tax experience to prepare your tax return!
  • If any of these three things are missing; it’s a bright red alert folks! Attorney, thanks for answering my question so clearly concerning what characteristics people should look for when selecting a tax return preparer.
  • Did I get the bright red alerts right, Attorney?

Question 3:

Attorney, it sounds like taxpayers can get in very serious trouble on their taxes if they hire an unqualified, incompetent, or dishonest tax return preparer.

Is there any where a taxpayer can turn for help when they suspect that they have been harmed by their tax return preparer?

Attorney Answers Question 3:

  • The Internal Revenue Service has been given the authority by Congress to maintain the public’s confidence in the federal tax system. Under that authority the IRS maintains advisory committees who establish practices, procedures and policies of the oversight offices designed to enforce regulations governing those authorized to practice before the IRS.  The IRS is required under these regulations to maintain a list of individuals and companies who have been disbarred from practice before the IRS; list practitioners with monetary sanctions, and a list of practitioners who have otherwise been sanctioned by the IRS.
  • In addition to the IRS oversight that I have mentioned; professionals such as attorneys and certified public accountants are accountable to their respective professional licensing authorities in their states. These various professional licensing boards have specific complaint procedures where injured taxpayers can file an official complaint.
  • Finally, taxpayers harmed by tax return preparers can also turn to the courts for redress by filing a lawsuit for professional liability or other claim.
  • I should caution here that every tax position taking on a particular tax return may not rise to the level incompetence or malfeasance on the part of the tax return preparer. Judgment is an inherent part of being a tax professional.  That intangible characteristic of confidence and trust in your tax professional cannot be overstated.

Interviewer:  Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate

Question 4:

What about the people that have an approved family-sponsorship petition outside of the United States?

Attorney Answers Question 4:

  • The Internal Revenue Code imposes an entire laundry list of civil penalties and criminal penalties on Tax Return Preparers who are incompetent or engage in disreputable conduct. The names and descriptions of these various penalties can be very informative as what goals the IRS is attempting to achieve in terms of protecting the public, protecting the public’s confidence in the tax system, and maintaining the overall integrity of the U.S. federal tax system.  So that I don’t overly complicate this for our none-tax professional listeners, I am going to leave out any references to the specific Internal Revenue Code Section or Treasury Regulation where these penalties are codified.  Most of our listeners probably don’t really care to know the actual tax code section and treasury regulation reference numbers for these penalties.
  • This is a list of some of the types of penalties that the IRS can impose on Tax Return Preparers. Taxpayers should just thing about the item on the list and look beyond what is right in front of them to what the IRS is trying to accomplish by imposing these penalties on incompetent preparers or those engaged in disreputable conduct:
    1. Civil Penalties imposed on tax return preparers for failure to meet due diligence requirements for determining eligibility for certain tax benefits, such as, child tax credit, head of household, and earned income credit. Often times, taxpayers take these tax positions in error or with bad advice from tax preparers.
    2. Penalties imposed on tax return preparers for failure to sign the return and penalties for failing to supply identifying numbers such as, PTIN etc. Again, often, returns prepared by paid tax preparers appear to be self-prepared.
    3. Various penalties imposed against tax preparers for giving false or misleading information to the Department of the Treasury or any of its officers, employees, or agents.
    4. Various penalties imposed against tax preparers for aiding, advising or abetting others in violating federal tax law by suggesting or aiding in an illegal plan to evade the proper application and administration of U.S. tax laws or payment of U.S. taxes.
  • Items three and four can result in civil negligence and civil accuracy related penalties; and willful or reckless violation of U.S. Tax laws could lead to criminal referrals and prosecution of the tax return preparer and the taxpayer.
  1. Penalties imposed on tax return preparer for failure to give the taxpayer a copy of their tax return.
  2. Penalties imposed on the tax return preparer for failure to maintain a copy of the prepared tax return.
  3. Penalties imposed on the tax return preparer for failure to maintain a record of who prepared the return.
  • Items five through seven is designed to create a contemporary record and to provide a chain of responsibility. Tax return preparer operations are subject to IRS examination and investigation.
  • These are only a few of the penalties that the IRS could impose on incompetent tax return preparers and those engaged in disreputable conduct.
  • Taxpayers must be careful when tax return preparers over promise, make claims of abilities to obtain certain refund amounts or tax results, or seek to negotiate taxpayer refund checks. Sometimes dishonest preparers claim that the taxpayer has companies, farms, and factories that the taxpayer themselves never knew they had.  Remember you are responsible for the numbers and data on your tax return and the IRS will look for you first to timely pay the correct amount of taxes.  Your tax return preparer may or may not ever be held accountable.  So, a word to the wise:  be careful when you select your tax return preparer.
  • All these penalty areas that I have mentioned in this podcast should help taxpayers to exercise wisdom and discretion when selecting a tax return preparer. Look for professionals with character and experience even though it might cost you more to have your taxes done.  It may cost more in the long run if you choose an incompetent tax preparer, or one engaged in disreputable acts.

Interviewer:  Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate

  • Attorney, thanks for such a thorough response to my questions about characteristics, qualifications, and other things that people should consider when selecting a tax return preparer. Character and experience always matter!
  • That’s all the questions I have for now with respect to being wise and prudent when selecting a tax return preparer. It sounds like it’s very dangerous to select the wrong person or firm to prepare your tax return.

Attorney Comment:

  • Well, those were all excellent questions, Mayra. And I am glad we were able to discuss the importance of exercising wisdom and being prudent when selecting a tax return preparer.

Mayra Torres’s Concluding Remarks:

  • Attorneys thank you for this comprehensive and informative presentation on selecting a tax return preparer.
  • Our listeners who want to hear more podcast like this one should subscribe to our Legal Thoughts Podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify or wherever they listen to their podcast. You can follow our blogs by going to our law firm’s website at cjacksonlaw.com.  Everybody take care for now!  Come back in about two weeks, for more taxation, litigation and immigration Legal Thoughts from Coleman Jackson, P.C., which is located right here in Dallas, Texas at 6060 North Central Expressway, Suite 620, Dallas, Texas 75206.
  • English callers: 214-599-0431; Spanish callers:  214-599-0432 and Portuguese callers:  214-272-3100.

 Attorney’s Concluding Remarks:

THIS IS THE END OF “LEGAL THOUGHTS” FOR NOW

  • Thanks for giving us the opportunity to inform you about the why people filing taxes should be careful when selecting a professional tax return preparer.
  • If you want to see or hear more taxation, litigation and immigration LEGAL THOUGHTS from Coleman Jackson, P.C. Stay tune!  Watch for a new Legal Thoughts podcast in about two weeks and check our law firm’s website at www. cjacksonlaw.com to follow our blogs.  We are here in Dallas, Texas and want to inform, educate, and encourage our communities on topics dealing with taxation, litigation and immigration.  Until next time, take care.

Thinking About Taxes

By:  Coleman Jackson, Attorney & Certified Public Accountant
March 07, 2020

Thinking About Taxes

Thinking about spending that money withheld from employees’ wages to take a tour of the world, pay other business expenses or house payments?  Don’t do it before reading Internal Revenue Code Section 7702!   Hear those alarm bells ringing!  Anyone required to collect, account for, and turn over to the United States Treasury and willfully fails to carry out this duty are subject to severe civil penalties and upon being found guilty of the felony of failing to collect, account for, and turn over can be fined up to $10,000 and spend up to five years in federal prison.  Payroll tax fraud is a serious crime that is commonly investigated by the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) Division.  This unit of the IRS investigates all kinds of violations of the Internal Revenue Code.  CI along with the Financial Crimes Network investigates FBAR violations (these are U.S. persons with foreign bank accounts and other foreign assets who fail to timely and accurately disclose these holding on Form 114), money laundering (these are individuals or entities engaged in some kind of unlawful activity and endeavoring to get dirty money into the normal banking system) and other financial crimes.

 

Thinking about not filing that required income tax, gift tax or other federal tax return or providing fraudulent information the IRS?  Don’t do it before reading Internal Revenue Code Sections 7207 and 7203Hear those whistles blowing!  Anyone who intentionally gives false documents, which includes returns and any other written representation to the Internal Revenue Service and any of its employees knowing that its materially false or fraudulent is subject to civil fines and upon being found guilty of the felony of giving the Service false returns or other documents can be fined up to $10,000 (if individual) and up to $50,000 (if corporation), and spend up to one year in federal prison.  Multiples applies in that cumulative false statements, returns and documents can generate multiplication of the civil fines and additional years to the duration of the prison term.

 

Thinking about paying fewer taxes than is lawfully owed by engaging in creative accounting, leaving that or this item off the return while adding and dreaming about things that never happened? Don’t do it before reading Internal Revenue Code Section 7201Hear those gongs clanging! Anyone who intentionally attempts to evade or defeat any tax imposed under the Internal Revenue Code is subject to civil penalties up to $100,000 (if individual) and up to $500,000 (if corporation), and spend up to five years in federal prison upon conviction.

 

Thinking about taxes?  Stay away from the tumbling … lie.


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     

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

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

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

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

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

REASONABLE CAUSE AND GOOD FAITH – IRS Penalties Can Be Abated, Forgiven or Waived

By Coleman Jackson, Attorney & Certified Public Accountant
June 21, 2018

IRS Penalties Can Be Abated, Forgiven or Waived

The Internal Revenue Code is full of various kinds of penalties that the Internal Revenue Service is authorized to assess and collect from errant, indifferent, negligent, ambivalent, and indecisive or otherwise noncompliant taxpayers who fail to collect or pay their tax bill or attempt to evade the federal tax laws.  Six IRS penalties that seem to be common in recent years are as follows:

Code Sec. 6672 Penalties:  penalties assessed when taxpayers fail to timely collect, turn over withholding taxes or avoid timely payment of tax obligations;

Code Sec. 6701 Penalties:  penalties assessed against tax return preparers, such as enrolled agents, certified public accountants or others working in the tax return preparation services industry who aids and abet taxpayers in filing false or fraudulent tax returns;

Code Sec. 6676 Penalties:  penalties assessed against taxpayers and others who file tax refund claims or take tax credits without basis in reality, truth or facts.  Unsubstantiated deductions and credits on a tax return commonly give rise to Code Sec. 6676 penalties.   Filing a tax return with the IRS with a false refund request constitutes a false statement under the penalty of perjury.

IRS Penalties

Code Sec. 6697-6699 Penalties:  penalties for failure to file various types of tax returns that should be filed.  Such as failure to file a Form 1040, Form 1120, Form 1120S or Form 1165 can all be the basis for the IRS to assess a failure to file penalty.  Pass through entities, such as, partnerships and s-corporations must still file entity tax returns even though federal taxes are paid at the individual ownership level rather than the entity level.

Code Sec. 6712 Penalties:  penalties assessed against taxpayers who fail to disclose treaty based tax positions.  Immigrants, expatriates and foreigners are especially susceptible to incurring faulty tax treaty position penalties unless they hire well qualified tax consultants in preparation of their annual tax returns.

Code Sec 6662 Penalties:  penalties assessed against taxpayers who fail to report income from foreign sources, such as, foreign bank accounts, foreign businesses, and foreign asset holdings can incur very severe penalties.  U.S. citizens, resident aliens and certain nonresident aliens must report worldwide income from all sources including foreign bank accounts, foreign businesses, foreign trusts and other foreign assets.  Moreover, taxpayers with foreign holdings whose aggregate value exceeds $10,000 at any point during the calendar year must file Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) electronically with the Financial Crimes Network (FinCen’s BSA E-Filing System).  Failure to report the existence of offshore holdings is subject to civil and criminal penalties.  It is anticipated that this set of penalties and potential criminal prosecution will be on the rise in the near future because the IRS has announced that it will end the 2014 Voluntary Disclosure Program on September 28, 2018.

REASONABLE CAUSE AND GOOD FAITH

Another special set of tax rules have long been in force to forgive tax penalties due to reasonable cause and good faith.  The reasonable cause relief is set out in Code Sec. 6664.  The IRS will not impose accuracy related penalties upon a showing by the taxpayer that there was reasonable cause for the tax position and that they acted in good faith with respect to the tax position or act in question.  The reasonable cause defense under Code Sec. 6664 turns on all the facts and circumstances.  That simply means that the IRS and Courts try to determine ‘why’ the taxpayer failed to comply with the federal tax laws.  A taxpayer’s substantial knowledge of federal tax law is a significant factor that the IRS and Courts consider in determining whether a taxpayer acted in good faith and reasonable.  Immigrants or those recently immigrating to the U.S. often lack the sophistication and knowledge of U.S. tax laws.  U.S. tax laws complexity often confounds well educated Americans as well.  Taxpayers reliance on tax return preparers’ suggestions, recommendations and guidance also have been found by many Courts to meet the taxpayers burden to show that they acted reasonable and with good faith.  Taxpayers exercising ordinary business care and diligence sometimes likewise are found by the IRS and Courts as acting in good faith and reasonably.  These various examples simply show that the IRS can abate, forgive or waive federal tax penalties in a very broad spectrum of situations.  Taxpayers confronted with IRS tax penalty situations must act reasonable and be prudent in exploring with their tax attorney the potential that the penalties can be abated, forgiven or waived.  Even fraud penalties can be waived under certain circumstances and criminal charges may likewise be averted.

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