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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 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, CA tax compliance attorneyMost people know that paying taxes is not optional. However, sometimes something as simple as a mistake or miscalculation on a tax return can result in a tax compliance issue. When the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) discovers a problem with an individual’s tax return, the first method for contacting the taxpayer is typically a letter through the mail. If the issue is not resolved through the mail, an IRS officer may sit down with the taxpayer in a face-to-face meeting to discuss the compliance concerns. If you have been contacted by the IRS because you have not adequately met your tax obligations, an experienced tax lawyer can help you understand your options and protect your rights.

Make Sure That it Is Actually the IRS Who Is Contacting You

In recent years, there has been an uptick in the number of scammers pretending to be IRS agents. A scammer will typically make a phone call to an unsuspecting taxpayer and impersonate an IRS agent for the purposes of gaining access to personal identifying information or stealing the individual’s money. The IRS very rarely makes phone calls regarding tax issues. If an IRS worker does call you, he or she will not demand immediate payment or ask for credit card details over the phone. According to the IRS’s official website, anyone who receives a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be with the IRS should hang up and call the IRS directly to discuss any potential compliance issues.

Know What to Expect During an IRS Meeting

The IRS recently announced that it will be increasing the number of revenue officers who make in-person visits to taxpayers. These face-to-face meetings will be focused in communities that have been especially affected by reduced IRS resources. In-person meetings only occur after the IRS makes several attempts to contact the taxpayer via mail. These meetings are typically unannounced. The IRS officer should provide two forms of credentials in order to verify that he or she is indeed an IRS worker. If he or she does not offer identification, you have the right to ask to see these credentials. The officer will then discuss your tax concerns and help you understand your options for resolving the issues.

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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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