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San Jose, CA tax lawyer, virtual currency taxes, cryptocurrencies, taxable property, cryptocurrency transactionsIn recent months, the news has been filled with discussion of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ripple, or Ethereum. As these virtual currencies increase in value, many people are looking to invest in them. However, even though digital currencies can be exchanged for goods or services, or paid to employees as income, they are not the same as legal tender. This has resulted in a great deal of confusion as to how virtual currencies are treated under the United States tax laws.

Cryptocurrencies, Property, and Capital Gains

“Convertible” virtual currencies that have an equivalent value in real currency and can be exchanged into U.S. dollars are taxable as property, similar to other capital assets such as stocks or bonds. In general, capital gains taxes apply when these currencies are bought or sold, including when they are converted into cash, when one type of currency is traded for another virtual currency, or when digital currency is exchanged for other property. Any gains or losses are based on the fair market value of the currency at the time it was acquired and at the time of its sale or trade. 

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Posted on in Tax Audits

eggshell audits, San Jose civil tax audit lawyer, tax fraud, tax audit, tax liabilitiesA tax audit can be a frightening situation. The United States tax code is complex, and many taxpayers are unfamiliar with its intricacies and the potential consequences that they may face if they have committed a violation. In some cases, taxpayers may face what is known as an “eggshell audit,” which is a civil audit that may potentially result in criminal charges. While this is an informal term, it refers to the care that must be taken in these situations as taxpayers seek to minimize their tax liabilities and civil penalties while avoiding criminal prosecution.

Potential Consequences of an Eggshell Audit

Eggshell audits occur because a taxpayer filed a fraudulent tax return. The taxpayer may have underreported the income he or she earned or claimed improper deductions or credits. The end result is that the taxpayer paid less taxes than he or she would have owed if he or she had filed an accurate tax return. Moreover, a return is considered fraudulent if a taxpayer deliberately intended to evade paying the full amount of his or her taxes or if he or she willfully submitted false statements or documents.

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undisclosed foreign assets, offshore tax compliance, San Jose tax lawyer, offshore voluntary disclosure program, IRSRecently, we examined the options taxpayers have to achieve compliance when they have undisclosed foreign assets. One key method of compliance that the IRS has provided in recent years is the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). The program allows taxpayers to report their offshore assets and become compliant while minimizing their civil penalties and avoiding criminal prosecution. However, the IRS recently announced that it will be ending the OVDP on September 28, 2018.

Changing Options for Offshore Tax Compliance

The OVDP was launched in 2009, and the current version of the program has been in effect since 2014. The IRS has reported that since the OVDP was implemented, more than 56,000 taxpayers have used the program to achieve compliance—$11.1 billion in taxes, penalties, and interest have been paid. However, the number of people participating in the program has declined from a high of 18,000 people in 2011 to 600 in 2017.

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San Jose tax attorney, tax reform, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, business auto deductions, tax codeThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made seismic changes to tax law in the United States, and individual taxpayers, small businesses, and large corporations are working to determine how they will be affected by the updates that will be going into effect in the near future.

One aspect of the new law that many may not be aware of concerns vehicles purchased or leased by businesses. It is essential that business owners be aware of how these changes can impact the deductions they may claim.

Business Auto Deductions

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San Jose tax lawyer, streamlined compliance, offshore tax evasion, taxpayers, offshore assetsIn a recent blog, we discussed how U.S. taxpayers can become compliant with the IRS’s requirements for reporting foreign financial assets through the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). While the OVDP provides people with the ability to address outstanding offshore tax issues, it applies to people who have willfully failed to disclose foreign assets, and meeting its requirements can result in significant expenses but also can avoid significant penalties. For people whose failure to disclose offshore assets was non-willful, another option is available: streamlined compliance.

Eligibility for Streamlined Compliance

Streamlined compliance is available for individual U.S. taxpayers, and it consists of two programs: the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (for U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who lived outside of the United States for at least 330 days in one of the three previous years) and the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (for U.S. taxpayers who do not meet the non-residency requirement).

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