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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, CA cryptocurrency tax lawyerThe IRS pays close attention to taxpayers’ income and financial transactions, and there are a variety of reasons it may conduct tax audits. In recent years, virtual currencies such as Bitcoin have been a growing concern for the IRS, and many cryptocurrency owners have received notices regarding their requirements for reporting transactions involving these currencies. This scrutiny is likely to increase in the future as the use of virtual currencies becomes more widespread. In fact, the IRS released a draft of the 1040 tax form for 2020, and one of the first questions that is included on this form is “At any time during 2020, did you receive, sell, send, exchange, or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency?” This indicates that those who own or trade cryptocurrency may face audits if they do not meet their requirements for reporting transactions and paying applicable taxes.

Tax Issues Related to Virtual Currency

Even though cryptocurrencies may be used similarly to currency issued by the United States or other countries, they are not recognized as legal tender. Instead, virtual currencies are considered property, and taxes may apply to transactions involving these currencies. If a person receives virtual currency in exchange for performing services, either as an employee or an independent contractor, this will be considered taxable income.

When virtual currency is sold or exchanged for other property, a taxpayer will be required to report gains or losses on a federal income tax return. These gains or losses are calculated by comparing the taxpayer’s basis in the virtual currency, or the fair market value of the currency at the time it was acquired, with the amount received in exchange for the virtual currency. Capital gains taxes may apply to gains made when selling virtual currency, and a taxpayer may be able to deduct losses in these transactions.

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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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virtual currency, virtual currency taxes, tax audit, IRS Compliance Campaign, San Jose tax audit attorneyThe Large Business & International (LB&I) division of the IRS has announced several new compliance campaigns that signal where the IRS will allocate its audit resources. If you are a business owner concerned about the ramifications of a tax audit, it is advisable that you contact a qualified business tax attorney who can give you customized legal support. 

What is an IRS Compliance Campaign? 

The LB&I division of the IRS creates compliance campaigns in an effort to keep taxpayer examinations centered on issues. These campaigns, which are rolled out periodically, are meant to zero in on areas that present the greatest risk of non-compliance.

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