Articles Posted in Audits

The IRS appeals function has the mission of attempting to resolve tax disputes between taxpayers and the IRS by negotiated settlement discussions rather than litigation. Since tax litigation is very expensive, the IRS appeals process is a very useful tool to help resolve tax disputes. Today, in our society, using means other than litigation has caught on in the form of mediation and arbitration.

The ability to utilize the IRS appeals function, as demonstrated by Facebook’s failed attempt to gain access to the appeals group and ended up going to court just to have the right to go to IRS appeals, can sometimes be a tricky process. I have used the IRS appeals process many times to try to avoid tax liens, for collection and exam issues, and penalty abatement cases. If you desire, the appeal can be heard in person, or over the phone.

a8-300x301-299x300Fast Track Mediation is geared mostly to the small business and self employed taxpayers that are disputing tax assessments as a result of an income tax audit, the imposition of a trust fund recovery penalty (for unpaid payroll taxes), offers in compromise settlements, or IRS collection actions where a Revenue Officer is involved. The trained mediator (who does not force either party to accept his or her decision), listens to both sides to understand the tax issues involved and try’s to formulate a solution that both parties can accept. This process is usually complete in about 30 to 40 days. The mediation process is started when the IRS and the taxpayer both sign a Form 13369, for the case to transferred to the mediation group. With the form, you also provide a written explanation of your position, with legal support (tax law, court cases), that supports your position. The mediator reviews all the evidence, speaks to each party, and then renders a decision.

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If you disagree with how much the IRS says you owe as a result of an tax audit, there is a process to correct the problem. The procedure is known as an audit reconsideration and is allowed when:

  1. You or your representative did not appear at the audit to provide your information that would support the items on your income tax return. This could be the result of you moving, and you did not get notice that an income tax audit was occurring. This is also the case, if you simply decided that you would not attend the audit (for instance, you were scared or intimidated)
  2. You have additional documentation that was not available when the “original” audit was conducted. This often happens since gathering the items needed for an audit (bank records, receipts, etc), takes time to gather and organize, and perhaps that was not done in time for the audit meeting

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Many new clients call us in a panic when they receive a letter from the IRS that their income tax return has been selected for an audit. In most cases the client knows that they overstated their tax deductions, or less likely did not report all of their income. In either case,  being caught is not a pleasant result. When the IRS audits an income tax return for deductions, it focuses on whether you have a receipt. From the basic perspective, the IRS is looking for a stack of receipts that add up to the tax deduction taken on the income tax return.

A lot of clients think that a bank statement or credit card statement is a receipt. This is not correct, since a bank statement or credit card bill only shows that the expense was paid, but not the details of the item purchased in order to verify it is a business deduction. Therefore, its important to save the actual receipts to get the tax deduction you are entitled to.

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We are all human and therefore prone to making the occasional mistake or two. This includes financial errors concerning one’s personal or business expenditures as well as tax-related faux pas. This is something that even the Internal Revenue Service acknowledges and seems to understand. However, depending on the type of mistake, the agency’s response may not seem very forgiving.

The IRS lists the following tax-related mistakes as being among the most commonly made by taxpayers.

  • Failing to provide or making errors when entering Social Security numbers

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Each year, countless Americans are duped by so-called tax preparers who commit identity theft or fraud, or at the very least, file incomplete or inaccurate returns. Possibly contributing to this problem is the fact that the IRS lost the ability to regulate the licensing of tax preparers who are not attorneys or CPAs last year following a Supreme Court ruling.

However, a new bipartisan bill that has been proposed in Congress would give the Department of the Treasury and the IRS the authority to regulate tax preparers once more. As a recent Forbes article reported, the bill would allow the two agencies to oversee “all aspects of Federal tax practice, including paid tax return preparers.”

Ultimately, this would mean people who prepare taxes for profit will once again have to pass exams, fulfill continuing legal education requirements and maintain a valid preparer tax identification number in order to be licensed to prepare taxes.

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For many who reside in the state of New York, one of their biggest fears is to be audited by the Internal Revenue Service. People who are concerned about this occurring probably believe that three years after a return is filed, they are in the clear. While it is true the statute of limitations for tax returns is generally three years, under certain circumstances it is possible that period could extend to six years. In some cases it could go even longer.

The audit period could extend from three to six years in situations where in completing the tax return, the tax player substantially understated his or her income. But just what does that mean? This situation arises when the taxpayer fails to account for more than a quarter of his or her income. The statute of limitations will start to run on either the date the filing is due or the date in which it is filed—whichever is later.

The IRS could also extend the audit period to six years in situations where the taxpayer has omitted more than $5,000 in foreign income. This might arise in situations where the taxpayer has accrued this income as a result of interest on an account that is overseas.

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Are you one of the unlikely New Yorkers who have been tagged for audits by the IRS this year? If so, take a deep breath because we are here to provide you with the information you need to get through this.

What does it mean to be audited?

A tax audit means that the IRS is going to look at your income tax returns a little more closely in order to make sure that you paid the correct amount of taxes. This includes looking at your income and deduction to make sure that they are accurate.

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Being audited is a big fear for many New Yorkers, especially around this time of year. It can not only be a long and burdensome process, it can also be quite scary because of the potential penalties involved.

Unfortunately, if you are an on-demand worker, such as a driver for Uber, Sidecar or Lyft, it is almost inevitable that you will be audited at some point in the near future, according to aForbes.com article.

As the article pointed out, these businesses don’t operate like typical big-name companies because many of the people who work for them are independent contractors, not employees, which creates some unique tax issues.

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As we discussed in an article on our website, most people don’t think of contacting a tax lawyer until they are facing some kind of problem such as being accused of not paying taxes or being audited. However, it’s best to work with a tax lawyer before that happens in order to avoid these problems in the first place.

For example, one time New York residents may run into tax issues is after receiving an inheritance. Typically, receiving an inheritance is not a taxable event, but there can be tax controversies that arise and greatly complicate the inheritance for the beneficiary or the executor of the estate.

In order to avoid this, it’s best to consult a tax attorney who can work with the estate planning lawyer to make sure that all potential tax issues are resolved.

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Tax time comes and goes every year, and residents in New York may wonder if filing taxes on foreign accounts on-time is always the best thing to do. Typically, the answer to that question is yes, but those with a first time FBAR, or Foreign Bank Account Report, may benefit from waiting to avoid tax issues. As the deadline for FBAR filings just recently passed, account holders — particularly those who are new to foreign accounts — may wonder how filing now will affect them.

To avoid tax issues, such as the need to amend a return shortly after filing, it is always beneficial to have all necessary information and documents in place. Sometimes, the required information needed to file simply isn’t available in time. While submitting a tax filing after deadline may result in penalties, the cost would be far less than not filing at all.

Some may worry that filing a FBAR is akin to admitting to committing a crime, but that is not the case. While there are those who try to use offshore accounts to hide money — the IRS has collected billions of dollars from these accounts — those that are honest in their transactions should have nothing to worry about. Certain legal protections can be taken to protect these funds from undue tax issues such as fines and audits.

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