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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.

Podcast – Update on Covid-19 Relief for Individuals and Businesses pt. 3 | LEGAL THOUGHTS

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Transcript of Legal Thoughts Podcast
Published January 27, 2021.

Update on Covid-19 Relief for Individuals and Businesses

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, Tax Legal Assistant of Coleman Jackson, P.C.   The topic of discussion is “Update on Covid-19 Relief for Individuals and Businesses pt. 3” 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: “Update on Covid-19 Relief for Individuals and Businesses- Part 3.”
  • 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 immigration legal assistant, Reyna Munoz will be asking the questions and I will be responding to her questions on this important tax topic: “Update on Covid-19 Relief for Individuals and Businesses- Part 3.”

Reyna Munoz Introduces Herself to the Audience:

  • Good morning everyone. My name is Reyna Munoz and I am the immigration legal assistant at Coleman Jackson, P.C.  Coleman Jackson, P.C. is a taxation, litigation and immigration law firm based right here in Dallas, Texas.
  • Attorney we have published two prior podcast where we discussed various aspects of the tax relief offered to individuals and businesses in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. In Part One of Legal Thoughts Podcast  several weeks ago, we spent most of our time talking about stimulus checks.  Then in Part Two, we spent the bulk of our time discussing tax relief in the Act for businesses, such as the Paycheck Protection Program.  In this Part Three, we will be discussing Discharge of Indebtedness and the Paycheck Protection Program.

Question 1:

  • So, Attorney, let’s get started this morning with this question: Generally speaking, Attorney, what are the tax implications for discharge of indebtedness?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson

ANSWER 1:

  • Good morning Reyna.
  • That is an excellent place to start before we get into the Paycheck Protection Program and the special rules of forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program loans to businesses under the CARES Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.
  • Generally speaking, under Internal Revenue Code Section 61(a)(11) and Treasury Regulations Section 1.61-12(a), a taxpayer that is discharged from paying a debt by a creditor must include the gross amount discharged in gross income for federal income tax purposes.  It is gross income because the taxpayer has received an increment in wealth; it’s the same as wages, or earnings or dividends or other forms of increase in wealth realized by a taxpayer.
  • There are several exceptions to this rule however, and the one we care about in this Podcast relates to the exceptions codified into law under the CARES Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.

Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

  • That sounds interesting.

Question 2:

  • Could you explain in a nutshell when a Payroll Protection Program loan is qualified for tax-free loan forgiveness under the Covid-19 relief programs you have been discussing in these last three podcasts?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson

ANSWER 2:

  • Reyna, in a nutshell; whether a Paycheck Protection Program Loan is eligible for tax-free cancellation of debt treatment depend upon how much of the paycheck protection program loan amount was used for payment of payroll costs during a covered period.
  • Under the Original CAREs Act, paycheck protection program loan proceeds could be used to pay certain eligible business expenses, such as, payroll costs, utility payments, rent and interest on some mortgage obligations. All of this cost had to be incurred by the recipient of the loan.  Depending upon whether 75 percent or more of the loan proceeds were used on payroll cost during the covered period, some or all of the payroll protection loan was subject to forgiveness under the CARES Act.  Under the original CARES Act there were some questions as to whether the cancelation of the debt was taxable income under Internal Revenue Code Section 61.  Also, under the original CARES Act, the IRS issued rules that stated that the  business costs paid from the Paycheck Protection Act Loan Proceeds were not deductible by the business on their federal tax return.  However, Congress overruled the Internal Revenue Service in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 making all Payroll Protection Program Loans tax-free and Congress also ruled that the business expenses paid with the loan proceeds were fully deductible business expenses pursuant to normal Internal Revenue Code provisions.  These particular relief provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 relates back to and applies to Payroll Protection Program loans under the CARES Act as well as those originating under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.

Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

  • Let me make sure I understand what you just said attorney! I think you said that when a Payroll Protection Program Loan is used to pay business operating expenses, such as, payroll costs, utility payments, rent, and certain kinds of mortgage interest, the Payroll Protection Program loan can be canceled tax-free to the business?  And the business can still deduct the business expenses paid using the loan proceeds on their annual federal tax return!
  • Did I get all that right, Attorney?

Question 3:

  • Attorney is the discharge of Payroll Protection Loan under the CARES Act automatic or do an application for forgiveness have to be filed somewhere?

 Attorney: Coleman Jackson

ANSWER 3:

  • Reyna your summary of what I said is perfect. And no, the forgiveness of a Paycheck Protection Program Loan is not automatic.
  • The recipient must submit the appropriate application to the Small Business Administration through their financial institution.
  • Under the CARES Act, loan forgiveness request were filed on Form 3508 or 3508EZ depending upon the maximum amount of the loan forgiveness and certain other factors. Further all loan forgiveness applications have to be accompanied by credible business records and documents during the covered period supporting the business owners’ assertions in the debt cancellation applications.

Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Tax Legal Assistant

QUESTION 4:

  • Attorney in a nutshell, what are the eligibility requirements for cancelation of the Payroll Protection Program Loan under the Consolidated Appropriation Act, 2021? I mean, Attorney are the rules, forms and steps to take for tax-free discharge of the debt the same as under the CARES Act?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson

ANSWER 4:

  • Very well! Let me describe some of the differences or changes to the Payroll Protection Program Loan forgiveness rules, forms and procedures made by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.
  • Remember in our previous Podcast in Part 2, we explained how the eligible expenses paid from a Paycheck Protection Program Loan was expanded under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 to include expenses like, payment for business software and cloud computing services incurred due to covid-19, certain covered capital expenditures and certain covered worker safety measure expenditures; The key metric to keep in mind is this one: The Paycheck Protection Program is still essentially focused on maintenance of a business’ employees and staff.  Keep people employed– that in a nutshell is what PPP is about.  You can just go by the name of the program— that is, Paycheck Protection Program.  So, expenditure of at least 75% of the loan proceeds to maintain payroll during the covered period is still key to tax-free cancellation of the debt under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.
  • The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 made it simpler and easier for covered Paycheck Protection Program Loan requests from certain eligible recipients to be forgiven. Only a certification as follows need to be made by the loan recipient; and no substantiating documentation need to be filed with the certification:
  • An eligible recipient must submit to their lender a certification that attest that–
    1. a description of the number of employees they were able to retain because of the paycheck protection loan;
    2. Estimates of amount of the loan spent on payroll costs;
    3. Attest that they have accurately supplied items 1 and 2 and complied with Section 307, Simplified Forgiveness Application requirements of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 which requires retention of the employment records 4 years after submission of the forgiveness application and retention of all other pertinent records for a period of 3 years.
    4. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 states that the simplified loan application forgiveness form is not be any more than one page in length. These simplified PPP loan forgiveness procedures apply to Paycheck Protection Program loans in the amount of $150,000 or less.  The Section 307 Simplified Forgiveness Application provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 applies to Paycheck Protection Program loans originating under the CARES Act or the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.

Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Tax Legal Assistant

  • That sounds like a solid way many businesses can keep their employees working during this dreadful pandemic. Attorney, Paycheck Protection Program Loan forgiveness is not subject to taxation, right.  I mean we started this podcast talking about discharge of indebtedness.

Question 5:

  • Is the cancelation or forgiveness by the Small Business Administration a discharge of indebtedness where the business will owe income taxes on the amount discharged? I need this to be clear; like in a nutshell; is it taxable income to the business or to the owner of the business?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson

ANSWER 5:

  • In a nutshell, Reyna!
  • Paycheck Protection Loans forgiven by the Small Business Administration is a statutory exception to the Internal Revenue Code Section 61.
  • In a nutshell, Paycheck Protection Program Loans that are forgiving or canceled by the Small Business Administration are tax-free to the business, to its owners, shareholders or partners.
  • Let me throw in this caution however, all business who apply for and successful obtain SBA cancelation of a Paycheck Protection Program Loan should maintain the required books and records because they might have to submit such records for audit inspection and examination up to four years after the loan has been written off by the government.

Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Tax Legal Assistant

  • That last point is an important one. Paycheck Protection Program Loans are Small Business Administration Loans.  SBA loans are subject to audit examination.

Question 6:

  • Attorney, what is the extent or scope of the likely audit examination?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson

ANSWER 6:

  • Businesses should consult with their trusted advisors when seeking forgiveness of these loans. The matters that we have been discussing are laws.  That is, we are explaining recent Acts of Congress in the government’s attempt to deal with the economic fall out and devastation caused by this dreadful global pandemic.
  • In answer to your question with respect to the scope of the audit; I really don’t know exactly, but for sure the business is going to have to most likely present evidence of eligibility for the loan and eligibility for forgiveness of the loan pursuant to any subsequent rules and regulations that the Small Business Administration, United States Treasury or other governmental agency might issue in the future. Businesses should keep good books and records that properly reflect the expenditure of Paycheck Protection Program loan proceeds for at least seven years.

Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Tax Legal Assistant

  • Attorney thanks for such a detailed explanation of discharge of indebtedness and the Paycheck Protection Program.

Reyna Munoz’s Concluding Remarks

  • Attorneythank you for this cogent presentation.
  • I know we have not talked about everything concerning the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. But these are my questions for now.  Perhaps we can do another podcast on this topic as time permits and interest by our listeners is communicated to us through calls, emails or otherwise.
  • 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 END OF “LEGAL THOUGHTS” FOR NOW

  • Thanks for giving us the opportunity to inform you about the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 as it relates to Discharge of Indebtedness and the Paycheck Protection Program”. We might do future blogs or podcast dealing with the Exclusion of Entities Receiving Shuttered Venue Operator Grants under Section 7(a)(36) of the Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. 636(a)(36).
  • 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..

Federal Tax Developments Related to Covid-19

By: Coleman Jackson, Attorney & Certified Public Accountant
March 30, 2020

As you can imagine, things are changing and developing fast and furious during this Covid-19 Pandemic. Developments in taxes are no exception! Our law firm desires to keep our clients and others informed with regards to certain tax developments that might impact their businesses. In keeping with that desire, note some of the most significant recent federal tax developments:

  1. Tax Day now July 15, 2020: The U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service automatically extended from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020 the federal income tax filing due date. The IRS gives affected taxpayers until the last day of the Extension Period to file tax returns or make tax payments, including estimated tax payments, that have either an original or extended due date falling within the Period. The IRS will waive any interest and late filing and payment penalties related to these late tax returns.
  2. Small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two refundable payroll tax credits designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar of dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees.
  3. The CARES Act of 2020 enacted in response to Covid-19 provides employers with an employee retention credit in the amount of 50% of their wages impacted by closure due to Covid-19. Further the Act which became law on March 27, 2020 extends the due date for paying employer payroll taxes. Taxpayers must carefully review the law and properly compute the amount of payroll taxes that can be deferred; because it is not 100% deferral of all payroll taxes. Note: The Small Business Administration has announced that they are taking applications for disaster relief from small businesses with respect to loans up to two million dollars for monies borrowed to make payroll and pay rent during this Covid-19 Crisis. The application process and details regarding what businesses qualify and the procedures for applying can be found on the Small Business Administration website. The SBA has announced that they have relaxed some of their processing and documentation requirements to expedite the processing of these emergency loans to small businesses impacted by Covid-19. It appears that these SBA emergency loans could be converted to grants under certain condition(s). The IRS will waive the usual fees and expedite requests for copies of previously filed tax returns for affected Covid-19 taxpayers who need them to apply for benefits or to file amended tax returns claiming casualty losses. Watch our blogs as more changes may be forth coming in the area of employer relief due to Covid-19 closures. But for now, this appears to be the game plan regarding employers.
  4. “Existing Installment Agreements –For taxpayers under an existing Installment Agreement, payments due between April 1 and July 15, 2020 are suspended. Taxpayers who are currently unable to comply with the terms of an Installment Payment Agreement, including a Direct Deposit Installment Agreement, may suspend payments during this period if they prefer. Furthermore, the IRS will not default any Installment Agreements during this period. By law, interest will continue to accrue on any unpaid balances.” Source: IR-2020-59, March 25, 2020.
  5. The CARES Act eliminates the 10% early withdrawal penalty for Covid-19 related distributions from retirement accounts and make other rule changes regarding retirement account contributions.
  6. The Act relaxes certain corporate and individual charitable contributions rules and provides for an above the line deduction up to $300 for charitable contributions.
  7. Texas has been declared a Presidential Disaster Area related to Covid-19, so more specific rules and provisions could be developed by the IRS related to individuals and businesses with business operations in Texas or impacted by this particular Presidential Disaster Area Declaration.

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

Giving is good! Giving is Subject to Federal Taxation

By Coleman Jackson, Attorney and Certified Public Accountant
June 10, 2019

Giving is good!  Giving is Subject to Federal Taxation

The Holy Bible at 1 Timothy 6:17 says that God gives to us richly all things….  It is a blessing to be able to give.  Giving is an expression of gratitude and love.  It is good to give.  Every relationship should be based on the desire to give.  It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Giving in the United States creates tax obligations on the giver.  Internal Revenue Code Section 2503 defines “taxable gifts” as the “total amount of gifts made during the calendar year, less deductions provided in subchapter C (section 2522 and following).”  The federal gift tax rules applies to gifts of present interest to a donee as oppose to transfers of future interest by the donor to the donee.  Under United States federal tax laws, the donor (giver) is taxed on the fair market value of the gift.  The recipient of the gift or donee is not taxed on the gift.  But!   Special tax reporting rules imposes on the donee a duty to disclose to the IRS certain large gifts from foreign nationals.

 

Giving in the United States creates tax obligations on the giver

 

The total annual valuation of gifts given by a donor is a tally of all gifts given by the donor for the calendar year.  Such gifts are reported annually on Form 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax ReturnForm 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return is due on April 15th of the year following the year of the gift.  For example if Jose Giver gives the following gifts in 2019:

  • Stocks and bonds to Jeremiah Recipient worth $40,000 fair market value;
  • Wires $250,000 to the foreign bank account of Jennifer Recipient ; and
  • Gives $4,000 to his niece, Carolyn Recipient under 21 years of age at the date of the gift.

 

Form 709 United States Gift

Jose Giver must tally the three gifts to all recipients made in 2019 and report the gifts on April 15th 2020 on Form 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return.  The total amount of gifts for 2019 is $294,000. Internal Revenue Code Section 2503 provides an annual exclusion for gifts of present interests made to any person by a donor.  In 2018 the annual exclusion amount is $15,000 and pursuant to IRC Sec. 2523 the annual exclusion is $155,000 on gifts to spouses who are not U.S. Citizens.  For gifts given in 2019 the annual exclusion amount remains $15,000, but the annual exclusion for gifts to spouses who are not U.S. Citizens decreases to $152,000 for gift made in 2019.  Note that the annual exclusion amount is indexed to the inflation rate; therefore, it could change from year to year.

 

Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts

Other federal laws, including other tax reporting and disclosure rules could be implicated by the facts described in the above hypothetical.  For example, Jeremiah Recipient may have to report gains & losses realized on the stocks and bonds.  The $250,000 wired to Jennifer Recipient’s foreign bank account could possibly create reporting requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act which requires that U.S. persons; which includes U.S. citizens, resident aliens, trusts, estates, and domestic entities to file Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts with the Financial Crimes Network on April 15th 2020 if the foreign account balance is $10,000 or more at any time during the calendar year.  Further the $4,000 to his under aged niece implicates the Generation- Skipping Transfer tax rules. That applies when gifts skip a generation.   Giving is good!  Giving is subject to federal taxation.

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.

 

 

 

A Spouse May Be Relieved of Federal Tax Liability under Certain Circumstances

April 08, 2019
By Coleman Jackson, Attorney, Certified Public Accountant

 

Innocent Spouse Relief from Federal Tax Liability

 

Texas is a community property state, which means that income earned by either spouse during their marriage is an item of community income.  Under federal tax law, each spouse is liable for federal taxes on community income regardless of which spouse earned the item of community income.

Under Internal Revenue Code Section 66(b), the Internal Revenue Service can modify the federal tax  outcome resultant from application of community property laws and charge only one spouse with respect to an item of community income if that spouse acted as if they were solely entitled to the  item of income; that is, they used it on themselves and not the community or household benefit,  and they did not notify their spouse of the item of community income before the due date for filing the spouse’s federal tax return for the applicable tax period.

 

Relief from Federal Tax Liability

 

 

This is only one of the many situations where an innocent spouse might be relieved of federal tax liability.  There is also, sometimes equitable relief available for innocent spouses even when the couple filed a joint tax return which created joint and severable liability for both spouses for the entire amount of the tax deficiency, penalties and interest due on the joint return.

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.

Civil Action by Taxpayer in Denial or Revocation of United States Passport Cases

By Coleman Jackson, Attorney, Certified Public Accountant
January 08, 2019

 

Civil Action by Taxpayer in Denial or Revocation of United States Passport Cases

The United States Congress has authorized the denial or revocation of United States passports to taxpayers with seriously delinquent tax debt.  This authorization is codified in Internal Revenue Code Section 7345 and is pursuant to section 32101 of the FAST Act (the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act”), which became law in the United States on December 14, 2015.  Seriously delinquent tax debt means an unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax debt of an individual totaling more than $50,000 that has been assessed and for which a Notice of Federal Tax Lien has been filed and all administrative remedies under Internal Revenue Code Section 6320 has lapsed or been exhausted, or where a federal tax levy has been issued.  The IRS is required under law to issue a Notice of Intent to Levy before issuing a federal tax levy.  These notices informs taxpayers that they could be certified as seriously delinquent taxpayers; and they might be the only notices received that alert taxpayers that their U.S. passport is in danger or being denied or revoked.

 

Seriously delinquent taxpayer

Any seriously delinquent taxpayer who is liable for a tax debt, which includes taxes, penalties and interest, in excess of $50,000 and has not entered into an installment agreement or made other arrangements with the IRS to resolve the tax obligation can have their United States Passport denied or revoked.  The IRS is authorized under U.S. Tax Law to certify to the U.S. State Department that the taxpayer’s tax debt is seriously delinquent.

 

The State Department may revoke the seriously delinquent taxpayer’s current passport preventing them from traveling outside of the United States

Once the U.S. State Department receives the IRS seriously delinquent taxpayer certification, the State Department will not issue or renew a passport.  The State Department may revoke the seriously delinquent taxpayer’s current passport preventing them from traveling outside of the United States.  If the revocation occurs while the taxpayer is abroad, the taxpayer could have difficulty reentering the Unites States at the port of entry because their U.S. Passport would no longer be valid.  Obviously taxpayers certified by the IRS as seriously delinquent can have their lives turned up-side-down with little or no advance warning beyond IRS Notice CP504.

 

Seriously Delinquent Taxpayers only have a judicial remedy to challenge the IRS seriously delinquent taxpayer certification

Seriously Delinquent Taxpayers only have a judicial remedy to challenge the IRS seriously delinquent taxpayer certification.  Internal Revenue Code Section 7345(e) allows an aggrieved taxpayer to bring a civil action against the United States Government in the U.S. Tax Court or in the appropriate U.S. District Court to challenge the seriously delinquent taxpayer certification.

 

 

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