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San Jose employment tax lawyer for independent contractorsBy now, you have probably already heard about the massive changes being instituted by California Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5). The legislation codifies California Supreme Court case Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court into law. In this landmark case, the court held that the majority of California workers should be classified as employees and therefore are entitled to receive all of the benefits and protections associated with employee classification. Employers must classify all workers as employees unless the worker meets certain criteria. A number of industries have criticized the new bill, stating that the strict rules will damage businesses as well as current independent contractors’ ability to make a living. California Assembly Bill 1925, which is currently being considered by the state legislature, includes a modification of the current California Labor Code that may provide relief from the strict regulations to certain businesses.

Overview of California AB 5

In order for California workers to be classified as independent contractors, they must meet the three elements listed in the following “ABC Test:”

  • (A) The worker performs services without the hiring agency’s direct control or instruction.
  • (B)  The worker accomplishes tasks that are not within the hiring agency’s usual course of business.
  • (C) The worker is involved in a private business or form of self-employment of the same type as that involved in the work performed for the hiring agency.

Several special interest groups have filed lawsuits against AB 5, saying that these regulations are too strict and that the law is unconstitutional. The trucking industry has been especially vocal in expressing concerns about how the law will affect truck drivers currently classified as independent contractors. Drivers cannot set their own schedule if they are forced to be classified as independent contractors, and trucking groups have argued that this violates the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution. U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez has temporarily exempted trucking companies from AB 5 restrictions.  

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San Jose tax compliance attorney for form 3520 and 3520-AThe more complex a person’s assets and debts, the more complex his or her tax return will typically be. Non-U.S. trusts and trusts involving gifts from people outside the United States require especially specific tax documentation. Taxpayers who fail to file the applicable tax documents or make errors on trust-related tax forms are subject to significant penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Determining which tax forms are needed and accurately completing these forms is increasingly time-consuming and stressful for many taxpayers. Fortunately, a qualified tax attorney can help. If you are required to file tax Form 3520 or 3520-A this tax season, it is crucial that you complete this paperwork promptly and accurately.

Form 3520 and 3520-A Errors Can Cost You

When reporting transactions with non-U.S. trusts, ownership of non-U.S. trusts subject to Internal Revenue Codes 671 - 679, or receipt of gifts from non-U.S. persons or businesses, you may need to file Form 3520. If you are the trustee of a foreign grantor trust with a grantor in the United States, you will likely be required to file Form 3520-A. Form 3520 is due by April 15. However if the taxpayer lives and works outside the United States, the deadline is June 15. Form 3520-A must be filed by March 15. Time extensions may be granted for qualifying applicants who take the appropriate steps.

If you are required to submit Form 3520 and the form is incomplete, inaccurate, or is not filed before the deadline, you will be subject to a penalty. The initial penalty is typically the greater of $10,000 or 35 percent of the value of the property added to the trust, 35 percent of the distributions received by the U.S. beneficiary, or 5 percent of the value of the trust assets owned by the U.S. grantor. Taxpayers may be subject to additional penalties and other consequences if the noncompliance continues after the IRS notifies the taxpayer of the compliance issue.

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San Jose tax audit lawyer for IRS visits and tax compliancePaying taxes is an important responsibility that, if ignored, can cause a person serious financial and legal trouble. Individuals of all income levels are expected to fully and honestly fulfill their tax obligations, and the IRS is especially focused on bringing high-income individuals into compliance. The agency recently reported that agents will be increasing the number of in-person visits to taxpayers at high-income levels who have not filed tax returns or who have other compliance issues.

Commonly, a taxpayer incurs a tax liability not because they willfully refuse to pay taxes but because they have made a mistake or miscalculation and underpaid the IRS. Taxpayers may also struggle to resolve tax debt due to a job loss, major increases in expenses, unexpected medical problems, or other issues that cause financial hardship. If you have tax-related problems, do not wait for the IRS to visit you before taking action. Speak with an experienced tax law attorney and get the legal guidance you need to resolve these issues.  

What to Expect During a Face-to-Face IRS Visit 

If you know that you have not filed tax returns for previous years or have not resolved your tax debt, you may be worried that the next knock at the door could be from an IRS officer. However, IRS visits are rarely a surprise to taxpayers. The IRS will attempt to contact a taxpayer through mail several times before visiting him or her. If an officer does visit, he or she should provide two forms of credentials to prove his or her authenticity. The officer will then share information with you about your tax liability. He or she will not threaten you or demand immediate payment. Instead, he or she will explain the steps you need to take to become compliant as well as the consequences for continued noncompliance.

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San Jose, CA tax law attorney for IRS leviesPaying taxes is an important and often complicated responsibility. If a taxpayer does not adequately fulfill his or her tax obligations, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can take several actions. In some situations, the IRS may even seize some of the taxpayer’s personal wealth and property to satisfy his or her tax debt. If you have been contacted by the IRS about a tax liability-related concern, you should speak to an experienced tax attorney to get the legal guidance and help you need.  

What Is an IRS Levy?

Many people do not realize that the federal government is permitted to seize some of an individual’s assets if he or she does not pay his or her taxes. If you have an unresolved tax debt, the IRS may eventually use a levy to collect the delinquent tax. Before the IRS issues a levy, it will send you a “Notice and Demand for Payment.” If you do not respond, you will then receive a “Final Notice of Intent to Levy and Notice of Your Right to a Hearing.” If you still do not resolve the debt or make an arrangement with the IRS for settling the debt, the IRS may be permitted to take ownership of your property.

What Types of Property Can the IRS Take?

The IRS is permitted to levy any property that you personally own or property in which you have an interest. The IRS could levy your bank accounts, part of your wages, accounts receivable, dividends, income from rental properties, retirement accounts, business assets, and more. The IRS could also seize personal property such as vehicles, and if approved by a U.S. District Court Judge, even your home. The IRS cannot levy assets that you did not own or did not have an interest in at the time the levy was enforced. For example, if a relative gifts you money and you add it to your bank account after the levy was issued, these funds are not subject to the levy. The IRS will also not levy:

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San Jose tax audit attorney for offshore complianceTaxpayers often make errors on their tax returns that are due to simple miscalculations or misidentification of assets and income. These mistakes rarely lead to criminal charges, and they can typically be rectified with help from a qualified tax lawyer. However, when a taxpayer or business makes a deliberate effort to avoid tax liability, this may constitute illegal tax evasion. Tax evasion is a serious crime punishable by up to 5 years’ incarceration and fines up to $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for a corporation. In recent years, the Internal Revenue Service has dramatically increased enforcement of income compliance with regard to offshore accounts. The United States, however, is not the only country that is concerned about the increasingly common crime of offshore tax evasion. Recently, the U.S. was joined by several other countries in a “day of action” against offshore tax evasion schemes.

IRS Continues to Investigate Potential Facilitation of Tax Evasion

The Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a number of other laws dictate Americans’ tax obligations. In order to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, however, some individuals and businesses transfer assets outside the United States and into offshore tax shelters. Tax evasion is a massive problem that is estimated to have cost the U.S. federal government $458 billion per year from 2008 to 2010. Tax evasion schemes occur in developed countries around the world. 

In 2018, the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement was formed by leaders in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, and Australia to coordinate efforts to fight global tax evasion. The recent “day of action” occurred as part of an ongoing investigation into a financial institution in Central America that may be facilitating tax evasion and money laundering. The Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement have reason to believe that some taxpayers are anonymously hiding assets and laundering profits from criminal activities using this institution. Using interviews, subpoenas, search warrants, data analytics, and other intelligence, a great deal of information was uncovered about this institution and the activities taking place there. A number of civil and criminal actions are expected to result from the information gained during the investigation.

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