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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 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 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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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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