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San Jose, CA tax audit attorney for high income taxpayersThe Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regularly conducts tax audits of individual taxpayers and businesses. During an audit, it will seek to collect taxes that were underpaid due to misreported income, improper deductions, or other issues, as well as any applicable penalties. Under the administration of President Joe Biden, these efforts may increase, and the IRS will be looking to conduct more audits of individuals who earn high incomes or own significant assets, as well as large partnerships and corporations.

Increased IRS Budget and Focus on Closing the Tax Gap

President Biden recently announced the American Families Plan, a proposal that would increase infrastructure spending and provide aid to families with middle to low incomes. This proposal also included an increase in the IRS’s budget by $80 billion over 10 years. This increase would allow the IRS to conduct more audits and narrow the “tax gap,” or the difference between what U.S. taxpayers owe and what is actually collected. Experts believe that the tax gap is close to $1 trillion per year.

This proposal came on the heels of a report by the IRS and other economists which stated that taxpayers with income levels in the top 1% do not report 21% of the income they earn. This results in around $175 billion of taxes that go unpaid each year. In addition, the number of audits of taxpayers who earn at least $1 million per year has fallen by 80% over the past 10 years, making it less likely that the IRS will be able to collect the taxes owed by these taxpayers. Increased audit and collection efforts aimed at this top 1% may assist in narrowing the tax gap without additional tax increases.

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San Jose tax penalty notice attorneyTaxes are a reality that most U.S. citizens and residents need to deal with, and understanding the various tax laws that apply to a person or business can often be a complicated matter. If a taxpayer makes mistakes or oversights when filing tax returns or other tax documents, they could face penalties from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Being contacted by the IRS may cause taxpayers to worry that they will be subject to these types of penalties. However, not every piece of communication from the IRS will result in penalties, and taxpayers will want to understand the different types of notices that the IRS may send and their options for responding and addressing or correcting tax issues.

IRS Letters and Notices

Communications from the IRS can generally be grouped into one of the following categories:

  • Soft letters - In some cases, the IRS may identify potential issues that may affect certain taxpayers and send notice reminding the taxpayer of the actions they can take to ensure that they are in compliance with tax laws and avoid potential penalties. In some cases, the IRS may request that a taxpayer provide certain types of information or file amended tax returns. In recent years, the IRS has sent soft letters related to issues such as reporting virtual currency transactions or filing the proper forms related to foreign accounts or investments.

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San Jose tax compliance lawyer for foreign corporationsThe U.S. tax code is very complex, and taxpayers are required to file a wide variety of forms correctly when completing their tax returns. This is especially true for those who own foreign assets or earn income from foreign sources. Failure to meet these requirements can result in tax audits, and taxpayers may face hefty penalties for their failure to comply with their tax requirements. 

The Large Business & International (LB&I) division of the Internal Revenue Service maintains a number of “campaigns” meant to address ongoing concerns about misreporting of assets and income and noncompliance with tax obligations. One notable campaign addresses “loose filing” of Form 5471, (Information Return of U.S. Persons with Respect to Certain Foreign Corporations).

Requirements for Filing Form 5471

Form 5471 is used to evaluate the extent of a taxpayer’s foreign assets while also tracking the profits earned by a foreign corporation and any changes in a company’s structure or ownership that may affect the taxes it pays. There are several categories of filers that are required to submit Form 5471, including shareholders of specified foreign corporations (SFCs) or controlled foreign corporations (CFCs), officers or directors of foreign corporations in which a U.S. person has at least 10% ownership stake, or a U.S. person who had control (more than 50% of stock or voting power) of a foreign corporation during the relevant tax accounting period.

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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 s/he 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, CA IRS audit attorneyIf you have been informed that your tax returns will be examined, or audited, you may not know what to expect from the process. Often, taxpayers are upset about having to devote more time to their tax returns, and they may be worried about a larger tax liability or concerned that they will face penalties from the IRS.

All of these thoughts are well-founded. Hiring an attorney to look out for your best interests during the course of an examination is allowed under IRS rules and may help you keep your tax liability as low as possible.

How Is One Chosen for an Examination?

According to the IRS, there are two ways your tax return may be selected for an audit. The first way is by computer programs that find incorrect amounts on your returns when compared to documents like W-2s or 1099s. 

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