John D. Teter Law Offices

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San Jose tax lawyer for payroll tax extensionFor the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic has affected states across the country. Some states with larger populations, such as California and New York, have experienced a much larger infected population and have consequently placed restrictions on businesses and individuals in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Nonessential businesses were ordered to shut down brick-and-mortar operations and work from home, if possible. Even though not all businesses were affected equally by the pandemic, many businesses are still struggling to stay afloat during this time. In response to the struggles that many businesses are feeling, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order allowing businesses affected by COVID-19 to request an extension to file payroll reports and taxes to the state.

How Can I Receive an Extension for Filing?

Payroll taxes consist of four separate categories: unemployment insurance (UI), employment training tax (ETT), state disability insurance (SDI), and personal income tax (PIT). Normally, these taxes are filed and paid by an employer on a regular basis. SDI and PIT due dates depend on the employer’s federal deposit schedule and the amount of PIT that has been withheld. UI and ETT payments are due quarterly, or every three months.

Usually, an employer would face penalties for late filing, and the employer would be required to pay a penalty plus interest on late payments. However during a state of emergency, employers can request that the deadline for their payroll taxes be extended up to 60 days. California Governor Newsom stated in an executive order that businesses that have been directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can request this extension.

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San Jose, CA tax lawyer for offers in compromiseCOVID-19 has completely transformed most people’s day-to-day lives. You may be working from home or unable to work until the quarantine period is over. You may have been laid off from your job and now must survive with no income. Even if you are able to continue working, you may be left without childcare or other necessary services. These issues can quickly create serious financial hardship. You may struggle to pay your bills or even to put food on the table. During hard times like these, paying tax debts may simply not be possible. Fortunately, an “offer in compromise” offers many struggling taxpayers the opportunity to settle their tax liability for a reduced amount.

Addressing Outstanding Tax Debt Through an Offer in Compromise

Having an unpaid tax liability can be a very distressing burden to bear. If you currently owe the IRS money, you may be worried that you will be visited by an IRS agent or even face criminal charges for failure to pay. Fortunately, the IRS is much more interested in collecting unpaid taxes than punishing taxpayers who have an unfulfilled tax obligation. The agency offers several options that can help taxpayers who are experiencing financial struggles to fulfill their tax obligations and become compliant with the law.

An offer in compromise allows a taxpayer who cannot afford to pay his or her full tax debt to settle the debt for less than the original amount. If paying your full tax debt would create a financial hardship, an offer in compromise may be right for you. When deciding whether or not to grant an offer in compromise to a taxpayer, the IRS will consider the taxpayer’s income, assets, expenses, and overall ability to pay. In order to qualify for this program, you must file all of your required tax returns, and you cannot be in an open bankruptcy proceeding. The IRS typically charges a fee when submitting an OIC application; however, this fee may be waived if the applicant’s adjusted gross income or household’s gross monthly income is below 250 percent of the poverty guidelines issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. The IRS also typically requires a 20% “deposit” of the offered amount be made at the time of offer submission. Upon offer acceptance, this “deposit” then becomes part of the offered amount. HOWEVER, very importantly, if the offer is rejected, the deposited amount is NOT returned to the taxpayer and is logged as a payment toward the unpaid tax liability. John D. Teter will work extensively with you to ensure you are making a “good” (acceptable to the IRS) offer to maximize the likelihood of offer acceptance and get you back on the road of tax compliance with a fresh start and old tax debt resolved.

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San Jose, CA business law attorney for business interruption insuranceThe COVID-19 virus has impacted every facet of our lives. Schools across the country have been canceled and replaced by online classes, employees have been laid off from their jobs, and business owners have lost valuable income. From restaurants to doctor’s offices, business owners are suffering. If you are a small business owner, you may be extremely concerned about the effect “shelter-in-place” directives are having on your business. You may even wonder whether or not your business will survive. One option that may be beneficial is business interruption insurance.

What Is Business Interruption Insurance?

Business interruption insurance covers business losses caused by a disaster. It is an optional form of coverage that may be included in a business owners’ policy or a comprehensive multi-peril commercial policy, or it can be issued on a standalone basis. This insurance is intended to protect against losses resulting from disruptions to normal business operations. In addition to replacing lost income, business interruption insurance may also cover:

  • Estimated profits based on previous months’ profits
  • Fixed costs such as operating expenses
  • Employee wages and worker training costs  
  • Civil authority ingress/egress
  • Taxes
  • Loan payments
  • Other reasonable expenses

Will Business Interruption Coverage Cover Losses Due to COVID-19?

There has been a great deal of uncertainty and confusion regarding business insurance coverage and shutdowns caused by COVID-19. Recently, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court made a ruling in the case of Friends of Danny DeVito v. Wolf that may influence business interruption insurance claims. The plaintiff in this case was asking for the shutdown order to be set aside on the grounds that the mandated shutdown was an overreach. In the end, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the order should not be canceled, because the coronavirus is “a natural disaster and a catastrophe of massive proportion.” If other states, including California, agree with the Pennsylvania Court’s classification of the coronavirus pandemic as a natural disaster, insurers would likely be required to pay business interruption claims based on COVID-19.

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San Jose tax lawyer for IRS debt reliefThe coronavirus has dramatically impacted people’s lives in the United States and across the globe. Many individuals have been temporarily or even permanently laid off from work or have been forced to reduce their work hours significantly. The financial consequences of the virus itself and the attempts to curb the spread of the virus have left many families wondering how they will pay their bills. In a move to provide financial relief to struggling taxpayers in the United States, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has implemented a new program called the “People First Initiative.” The program provides relief for individuals and businesses through extended filing deadlines, postponed payments, and limited enforcement actions. The deadline for filing federal tax returns has been extended to July 15 and many states, including California, are also offering extensions for state tax returns.

Existing Installment Plans and Offers in Compromise

The IRS offers several options for taxpayers who cannot fulfill their tax obligations. One of these options is to pay their tax bill in installments over time through a payment plan called an installment agreement. Another option that is available in some situations is an “offer in compromise” (OIC). An OIC is an agreement between the IRS and a taxpayer with a tax debt that settles the debt for less than the original amount owed. Individuals who are paying off tax debt through an installment agreement may postpone payments until July 15 of this year. The IRS has also announced that it will not default on installment agreements during this time period. However, interest on the unpaid amount will continue to accumulate.

If you have a pending application for an offer in compromise, the IRS is increasing the amount of time you have to provide any requested documentation or information. The agency has also promised that it will not close any pending OIC requests before July 15 unless the taxpayer agrees to close the request. Those currently making OIC payments have the option to suspend payments until July 15, but interest will continue to accumulate. Furthermore, the IRS has stated that it will not default on OICs for individuals who are delinquent on their 2018 tax return during the relief period.

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San Jose, CA business law attorney for worker classificationIn 2018, the California Supreme Court made a decision that would radically change how workers are classified in California. In the groundbreaking decision regarding Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, a new “ABC test” for determining worker classification was announced. According to the test, workers are presumed to be employees unless the hiring agency can establish that the worker is free from the agency’s direct control, he or she performs work that is outside the hiring agency’s normal business, and the worker is involved in an independently established job or business of the same nature as the work he or she performs for the hiring entity. 

California Assembly Bill 5 codified these criteria into law. Now, the California legislature is considering a number of bills that are intended to modify what many people consider to be the overly strict worker classification rules set forth in AB 5. One such amendment is Senate Bill 1039, or “The Independent Worker Rights Act of 2020.”

Controversy Over AB 5 Restrictions

Although proponents of AB 5 have stated that the law is intended to defend workers and guarantee wage protection, many people believe that the worker classification criteria set forth by the bill will do more harm than good – to both employers and workers. The bill has received harsh criticism from “gig economy” companies such as Uber, Lyft, and food delivery businesses. The trucking industry has also expressed serious concern as to the law’s constitutionality as it applies to truck drivers. Trucking companies have received a temporary exemption from AB 5 worker classification rules, but it is still unknown exactly how AB 5 will apply to trucking companies and other businesses that typically hire independent contractors.

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