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San Jose, CA tax law attorney for IRS examinations

Many people have felt the sinking feeling that accompanies receiving a letter from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). While it may be tempting to simply put the letter in a drawer and forget about it, ignoring the IRS can result in serious consequences. If you are contacted by the IRS and asked to make an office audit appointment, you should be sure to schedule the appointment, contact a tax lawyer for help if you need it, and attend the meeting. If you have already missed an audit meeting, you may wonder about the consequences you may face and what steps you can take to protect yourself.

Voluntary Appointments Versus Required Appointments

When the IRS examines a tax return and decides that the tax filer has misfiled, it may send a letter requesting an appointment. The tax filer may respond to the letter and schedule an appointment, or they may choose not to. If you have received a letter and did not schedule the appointment, the IRS has the authority to request a legal summons from a judge and demand that you attend it. If you fail to show up at an appointment that you personally scheduled, you will likely get the chance to reschedule the meeting without any major consequences. However, if you were required to be at the appointment because of a legal summons and do not show up, the consequences will be much more serious.

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San Jose tax attorney for IRS auditsIf you are the subject of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit, you likely have many questions about what the auditing process will entail. The IRS may have chosen you for an audit after comparing your tax return against “norms” for comparable returns, or you may have been selected because your tax returns involved transactions with other taxpayers who have been selected for an audit. The IRS manages audits through the mail and/or in-person interviews. As part of the auditing process, the IRS will request access to certain documents and financial information that supports the income and deductions claimed on your tax return.

Common Records Requested by the IRS

The documents and records that the IRS will want to examine during an audit can vary depending on your specific circumstances and the basis for the audit. Commonly, the IRS will request copies of:

  • Receipts: You may be asked to send the IRS receipts proving purchases you have made or money you have received for a product or service.
  • Canceled checks 
  • Bills: The IRS may request bills showing the person or entity receiving payment, the type of service received, and the dates on which you paid them.
  • Loan agreements: You may need to send copies of loan applications or agreements as well as information about how you used money that was loaned to you.
  • Travel logs and tickets: The IRS may want to examine travel plans and dates, mileage information, tickets, and expenses.
  • Theft or loss documents: If you experienced a theft or loss, the IRS will want to see insurance reports describing the loss, police reports, adjustor appraisals, and other relevant information.
  • Medical records
  • Legal documents: The IRS will likely want copies of documents related to property acquisition, tax preparation, divorce settlements, custody agreements, and any civil and criminal cases you have been involved in.

Your Rights During an IRS Audit

It is critical for anyone going through a tax audit to remember that they have certain rights as a taxpayer. In addition to professional and respectful treatment from IRS employees, you also have a right to confidentiality, the right to know why the IRS is auditing you, the right to know how the IRS will use any information gathered, and the right to know what the consequences will be if you do not provide the requested information. Most importantly, you have the right to be represented by a qualified tax lawyer. If you disagree with the IRS’s findings, you have the right to challenge or appeal the IRS auditor’s decision or file a petition with the U.S. Tax Court.

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San Jose, CA tax lawyer for innocent spouse relief

Married couples have the option to file a joint tax return instead of separate tax returns. There are often benefits to choosing this filing status, but there can also be drawbacks. Couples who file jointly are “jointly and severally” responsible for any tax liability, interest, or penalties due. The terms “jointly and severally” mean that each spouse is legally responsible for the entire tax debt. When one spouse does not adequately fulfill his or her tax obligations, this can leave the other spouse in serious trouble with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Fortunately, there are several ways that a spouse in this situation can be released from tax liability. One of these types of tax relief is called “innocent spouse relief.”

What Is Innocent Spouse Relief?

Imagine this scenario: your wife is a business owner who struggles to keep track of her profits and expenses. When you jointly file your tax returns, the IRS notices that there are inconsistencies with the business income, expenses, and/or deductions. You are audited. As a result, both of you now owe a significant amount of money in back taxes. In situations like this, innocent spouse relief, also called innocent spouse protection, may help a guiltless spouse avoid his or her spouse’s tax liability.

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San Jose business tax attorney for successor liabilityMaking the decision to purchase an existing business can be an exciting and lucrative endeavor. Owning your own business allows you to have a great deal of independence and direction over how the business is run. Being your own boss and watching a business grow and develop can be especially rewarding. Of course, buying a business is not without risk. One of these risks is successor liability for any debts owed by the business, including tax debts.

Stock Purchase Versus Asset Purchase

When you buy an existing business, you have two options: an asset purchase or a stock purchase agreement. A stock purchase allows you to buy most of the seller’s shares, or in the case of an LLC purchase, the membership units. However, assets such as equipment and inventory are still owned by the entity. If you acquire a business through a stock purchase, you will most likely assume all of that company’s liabilities.

In an asset purchase agreement, you purchase the business’s assets, and the seller retains ownership of the actual business. In most asset purchases, the assets are transferred to the new owner without liabilities, but there can be exceptions. Most people buying an existing business choose to undergo an asset purchase transaction to avoid assuming debts accumulated by the previous owner. A qualified attorney can help you decide what type of business purchase agreement is right for you.

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San Jose, CA tax law attorney for expatriates

When an individual chooses to move to another country, he or she may relinquish his or her United States citizenship. However, many of these former citizens may not know that they have unfulfilled tax obligations to the United States. Unpaid back taxes can result in additional debt due to accruing interest as well as serious penalties. Fortunately, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced the creation of several procedures through which former citizens can be relieved of their U.S. tax responsibilities.

Former Citizens Must Meet Certain Criteria for Tax Relief

If you are an expatriated person who is not currently compliant with U.S. tax laws, you may worry whether or not you can even afford to pay your back taxes. Unfulfilled tax obligations can quickly spiral out of control – especially when a person was not aware that he or she even owed back taxes. In an effort to help former citizens come into compliance with the law, the IRS is allowing qualifying individuals to be relieved of their tax obligations. These individuals must meet certain criteria in order to be eligible for tax relief. The criteria for “Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens” include:

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