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San Jose business law attorneyPerhaps no other piece of California legislation has caused as much of a stir in recent years as Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). The bill was signed into law in September 2019 and went into effect on January 1, 2020. AB5, nicknamed the “gig worker bill,” significantly limits when employers can classify workers as independent contractors. Many companies that rely heavily on independent contractors are concerned about how the legislation will affect their ability to stay in business. The trucking industry has been one of the most vocal critics of the bill, and some recent developments may affect how these companies will operate going forward.

California Trucking Association’s Lawsuit Regarding AB5

Assembly Bill 5 instituted an “ABC test” for determining whether a worker can be classified as an independent contractor. According to AB5, all workers must be considered employees unless the following three criteria are met:

  1. The worker is able to carry out services free from the direct control of the company.
  2. His or her work tasks are not part of the company’s usual course of business.
  3. He or she is performing work that is of the same nature as that which he or she is ordinarily engaged in.

Many trucking industry employers and workers are especially concerned with part B of this test. Along with two owner-operators, the California Trucking Association (CTA) filed a lawsuit to fight the new restrictions regarding worker classification. The association argued that the legislation will threaten the livelihood of over 70,000 truckers who are currently classified as independent contractors. The CTA further contends that the new restrictions implemented by AB5 conflict with the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act.

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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 evasion defense lawyerIf you are being investigated for tax evasion, you may feel lost, confused, and concerned about the possible penalties you may face. The federal offense of tax evasion occurs when an individual or corporation intentionally and systematically attempts to avoid paying taxes. The offender may falsify documents, fail to report income, or use other illegal tactics to reduce his or her tax obligations. In the last decade, countries around the world have worked together to prevent individuals from concealing income in foreign banks. Tax evasion can include any procedures that allow assets, financial instruments, or revenue to go untaxed or be taxed at a lower rate. The potential penalties for tax evasion can include heavy fines and incarceration. If you are being audited by the IRS, you should know how federal laws may affect you.

Federal Law Regarding Tax Evasion

Tax evasion is a willful act. Simply making mistakes on your tax return will not result in tax evasion charges. Section 7201 of the Internal Revenue Code describes the offense of tax evasion. In order for the IRS and other authorities to prove that a party engaged in tax evasion, they must prove that:

  • The party has an unpaid tax liability.
  • The party intentionally took actions to evade or avoid taxes.
  • The party had “specific intent” to evade his or her duty to pay a certain tax.

Because tax evasion is a criminal matter, prosecutors must prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a person for tax evasion.

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San Jose, CA small business tax attorney employee classificationCalifornia Assembly Bill 5, also called AB 5, has many business owners wondering how compliance with the new law will affect their business. The bill will significantly limit employers’ ability to classify workers as independent contractors. Many workers will now need to be classified as employees of the company, and they will be entitled to the associated benefits, such as workers’ compensation, minimum wage, overtime, rest breaks and meal periods, protection from anti-discrimination and retaliation laws, and reimbursement for business expenses incurred during the course of their job. Employers will also be required to pay payroll taxes on the workers classified as employees. AB 5 takes effect on January 1, 2020, so employers only have a short period of time to make any changes necessary to stay compliant with the new law.

AB 5 Makes the California Supreme Court Decision Regarding Worker Classification State Law

In 2018, the California Supreme Court announced its decision regarding Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles. The landmark decision established a test called the “ABC test” for determining whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. Under the new rule, a worker can only be classified as an independent contractor if the hiring agency can establish each of the following criteria:

  • The worker is not under the direction and control of the hiring agency with regard to the performance of the work.
  • The worker performs duties that are outside the hiring agency’s typical course of business.
  • The worker is engaged in an independently established occupation, trade, or business of the same nature as the work he or she does for the hiring agency.

California employers are already subject to the rules established by the Supreme Court Decision. The purpose of AB 5 is to clarify exactly how the ruling should be implemented in practice and identify industries that are exempt from the new rules. Doctors, psychologists, dentists, veterinarians, insurance agents, lawyers, accountants, architects, stockbrokers, real estate agents, state-licensed engineers, and private investigators will not be forced to comply with the new worker classification law. Newspaper delivery companies must comply, but they will be given an extra year before being required to classify their paper carriers as employees.

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San Jose tax law attorney for estate taxes and TCJAWhen a large amount of money is transferred as a gift, there are certain gift taxes that apply. Similarly, funds left to heirs after an individual passes away are subject to estate taxes. Typically, a unified rate schedule is applied to an individual’s cumulative taxable gifts and/or estate in order to reach a net expected tax. The tax owed is determined after a credit contingent on an exclusion amount is applied. The basic exclusion amount (BEA) is first applied to the gift tax. Any remaining credit is then applied to the estate tax. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has instituted several major changes to the way gift tax and estate tax are calculated. If you are considering making a large gift in the next several years, read on to learn more about how these changes may affect you.

How the TCJA Changed Gift Taxes and Estate Taxes

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made far-reaching changes to United States tax law. One of these changes involves the basic exclusion amount that is applied to gift taxes and estate taxes. The TCJA temporarily doubled the BEA for the years 2018-2025. The BEA rose from $5 million to $10 million, or $11.18 million when adjusted for inflation. In 2026, the BEA is expected to return to the amount (after being adjusted for inflation) that it was before 2018. This means that you may currently leave just over $11 million to heirs without paying federal estate or gift tax. The annual gift exclusion remains $15,000.

IRS Clarifies How the Increased BEA Will Affect Taxpayers

Many taxpayers have expressed concerns about what will happen once the BEA returns to the pre-2018 amount. They worry that taking advantage of the increased BEA might negatively impact them in the future. In response, the IRS has issued a clarifying explanation. There is a special rule that allows estate tax credits to be calculated using either gifts made during a person’s life or the BEA applicable on their date of death – whichever is higher. If you want to make a large gift before 2026, you do not have to worry about losing the benefit of the increased BEA. Even if the basic exclusion amount has reverted to a lower dollar amount when a person dies than it was when s/he made a large gift, the gift tax portion of the estate tax calculation is still based on the higher BEA that previously applied.

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