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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, 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 lawyer for innocent spouse relief

Married couples have the option to file a joint tax return instead of separate tax returns. There are often benefits to choosing this filing status, but there can also be drawbacks. Couples who file jointly are “jointly and severally” responsible for any tax liability, interest, or penalties due. The terms “jointly and severally” mean that each spouse is legally responsible for the entire tax debt. When one spouse does not adequately fulfill his or her tax obligations, this can leave the other spouse in serious trouble with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Fortunately, there are several ways that a spouse in this situation can be released from tax liability. One of these types of tax relief is called “innocent spouse relief.”

What Is Innocent Spouse Relief?

Imagine this scenario: your wife is a business owner who struggles to keep track of her profits and expenses. When you jointly file your tax returns, the IRS notices that there are inconsistencies with the business income, expenses, and/or deductions. You are audited. As a result, both of you now owe a significant amount of money in back taxes. In situations like this, innocent spouse relief, also called innocent spouse protection, may help a guiltless spouse avoid his or her spouse’s tax liability.

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San Jose CA tax debt lawyer for passportsFailing to pay your tax obligations can lead to major consequences. One problem you might run into is that you may not be able to obtain a U.S. passport or renew an existing passport. Carrying tax debt could also keep you from using your already issued passport. This can be detrimental for those who need to travel internationally for work or family reasons.

The IRS has prioritized the enforcement of this consequence of not paying back taxes for the past year. The law targets those with “seriously delinquent tax debts,” which is defined as a debt of $52,000 or more, including taxes, penalties, and interest.

If the IRS identifies you as being seriously delinquent, it will inform the State Department, which by law will deny a passport application or renewal. If you have in your possession a valid passport, the State Department also has the power to revoke the passport or limit your ability to leave the United States.

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delinquent tax debt, San Jose delinquent tax attorney, back taxes issues, IRS property seized, tax debtIf you have a delinquent tax debt, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), California Franchise Tax Board (FTB), or California Board of Equalization (BOE) may have the power to take your property. This power to seize, or levy, your assets is why you should seek to remedy the delinquency as soon as possible through an installment agreement or other means.

The levy process is meant to satisfy your tax debt. The IRS, FTB, or BOE may seize your property and sell it, if necessary, and apply the proceeds to your delinquent taxes. The cost of the sale may also have to be paid by the taxpayer through the levied property.

The following property is subject to seizure:

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