California Issues Mandatory E-Pay Penalty Waiver

The California Franchise Tax Board has issued the following information for taxpayers who were unable to pay amounts with their tax returns, extensions, or estimated tax payments electronically due to problems with their website on April 15, 2013.

Due to the problems encountered by mandatory e-pay taxpayers with our website on April 15, we will waive the mandatory e-pay penalty for taxpayers that paid their tax, extension, or estimated tax payment by check.

Taxpayers may request a waiver of the mandatory e-pay penalty for the 04.15.2013 payment by:

Phone (Preferred Method):
• Tax Practitioner Hotline 916.845.7057
• Taxpayers 800.852.5711

Fax:
Complete FTB 4107, Mandatory e-Pay Election to Discontinue or Waiver Request. In Part 1, check the second box and enter 04.15.2013 Website Problem.
• Fax your request to 916.843.0468

Mail:
Complete FTB 4107, Mandatory e-Pay Election to Discontinue or Waiver Request. In Part 1, check the second box and enter 04.15.2013 Website Problem. In red, write 04.15.2013 Website Problem. Mail your request:

STATE OF CALIFORNIA
FRANCHSIE TAX BOARD
PO BOX 942840
SACRAMENTO, CA 94240-0040

Important:This is a one-time waiver of the mandatory e-pay penalty; your clients are still required to make future payments electronically unless they are granted a waiver. See FTB 4107 for more information or go to our website and search for mandatory e-pay.

 

US Mismanages Monetary Assets and Natural Resources – Indian Tribes Win $1 Billion Settlement

Very interesting read – US Government and Indian Tribal Trust Cases – reprinted here Notice 2012-60

Per Capita Payments from Proceeds of Settlements of Indian Tribal Trust Cases

PURPOSE

This notice provides guidance concerning the federal income tax treatment of per capita payments that members of Indian tribes receive from proceeds of certain settlements of tribal trust cases between the United States and those Indian tribes.

BACKGROUND

The United States has entered into settlement agreements with the federally recognized Indian tribes listed in the Appendix to this notice, settling litigation in which the tribes allege that the Department of the Interior and the Department of the Treasury mismanaged monetary assets and natural resources the United States holds in trust for the benefit of the tribes (“Tribal Trust cases”). Upon receiving the settlement proceeds, the tribes will dismiss their claims with prejudice. See Press Release, U.S. Department of Justice, Attorney General Holder and Secretary Salazar Announce $1 Billion Settlement of Tribal Trust Accounting and Management Lawsuits Filed by More Than 40 Tribes (April 11, 2012) at http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/April/12-ag-460.html. The United States foresees the possibility of future substantially similar settlements of substantially similar claims brought by other federally recognized Indian tribes.

Most of the Indian tribes that have reached Tribal Trust case settlements with the United States have directed that the settlement proceeds be transferred to accounts at private banks or other third-party institutions, where the proceeds will be invested until the tribes use the funds for various purposes, which may include making per capita payments to their members. Other Indian tribes have directed that all or part of the settlement proceeds be paid into a trust account established or maintained by the Secretary of the Interior, through the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians, for the benefit of the tribes, until the tribes provide instructions for the disposition of the funds, which may include making per capita payments to their members.

Although agreeing to settlements, the United States admits no liability in the Tribal Trust case settlements and the government has no fiduciary responsibilities over the Tribal Trust case settlement proceeds that the tribes receive and that are deposited into accounts at private banks or other third-party institutions.

CONSULTATION

Several tribes and other affiliated organizations requested direct consultation on the income tax treatment of per capita payments from the Tribal Trust case settlements. In response to these requests and in the spirit of Executive Order 13175, direct consultation and communication occurred. These consultations and conversations were extremely useful in preparing this notice.

APPLICABLE PROVISIONS OF LAW

Section 61(a) of the Internal Revenue Code provides that, except as otherwise provided by law, gross income means all income from whatever source derived. Under § 61, Congress intends to tax all gains and undeniable accessions to wealth, clearly realized, over which taxpayers have complete dominion. Commissioner v. Glenshaw Glass Co., 348 U.S. 426 (1955), 1955-1 C.B. 207. Indians are citizens subject to the payment of income taxes. Squire v. Capoeman, 351 U.S. 1, 6 (1956), 1956-1 C.B. 605.

The Per Capita Act, Pub. L. No. 98-64, 97 Stat. 365, 25 U.S.C. §§ 117a through 117c, provides authority to Indian tribes to make per capita payments to Indians out of tribal trust revenue. Under 25 U.S.C. § 117a, funds held in trust by the Secretary of the Interior for an Indian tribe that are to be distributed per capita to members of that tribe may be distributed by either the Secretary of the Interior or, at the request of the governing body of the tribe and subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, the tribe.

The Indian Tribal Judgment Funds Use or Distribution Act, 25 U.S.C. §§ 1401 through 1408, concerns the distribution of certain judgment funds to Indian tribes. Under 25 U.S.C. § 117b(a), funds distributed under 25 U.S.C. § 117a are subject to the provisions of 25 U.S.C. § 1407. Under 25 U.S.C. § 1407, the funds described in that section, and all interest and investment income accrued on the funds while held in trust, are not subject to federal income taxes. See also H.R. Rep. No. 98-230 at 3 (1983), which provides that per capita distributions of tribal trust revenue “shall be subject to the provisions of [25 U.S.C. § 1407] with respect to tax exemptions.”

To determine the federal income tax treatment of per capita payments from Tribal Trust case settlement proceeds, “the test is not whether the action was one in tort or contract, but rather the question to be asked is ‘In lieu of what were the damages awarded?’” See Raytheon Production Corp. v. Commissioner, 144 F.2d 110, 113 (1st Cir. 1944), aff’g 1 T.C. 952 (1943). The fact that a suit ends in a compromise settlement does not change the nature of the recovery; the determining factor is the nature of the underlying claim. Raytheon Production Corp. at 114. Therefore, although the United States admits no liability in the Tribal Trust cases, Raytheon Production Corp. requires an examination of the underlying claims asserted by the tribes. The Tribal Trust case settlements described in this notice resolve claims, in relevant part, that the Department of the Interior and the Department of the Treasury mismanaged trust accounts, lands, and natural resources. The tribes assert that, absent this mismanagement of their trust funds and resources, their government-administered trust fund accounts would have substantially larger balances. See 25 C.F.R. §§ 115.002 and 115.702 (which define the trust fund accounts maintained and held by the Secretary of the Interior for federally recognized tribes and the types of payments that must be accepted into the trust account, which include those resulting from use of trust lands or restricted fee lands or trust resources when paid directly to the Secretary of the Interior on behalf of the tribal account holder). The settlement proceeds from the Tribal Trust cases must be viewed as being in lieu of amounts that would have been held in a trust fund account for the tribe that is maintained by the Secretary of the Interior. Consequently, for federal income tax purposes, per capita payments that an Indian tribe makes from the tribe’s Tribal Trust case settlement proceeds are treated the same as per capita payments from funds held in trust by the Secretary of the Interior under 25 U.S.C. § 117a. See Raytheon Production Corp. at 113-114; see also 25 U.S.C. § 1407 and H.R. Rep. No. 98-230 at 3 (1983).

FEDERAL INCOME TAX TREATMENT

Under 25 U.S.C. § 117b(a), per capita payments made from the proceeds of an agreement between the United States and an Indian tribe settling the tribe’s claims that the United States mismanaged monetary assets and natural resources held in trust for the benefit of the tribe by the Secretary of the Interior are excluded from the gross income of the members of the tribe receiving the per capita payments. Per capita payments that exceed the amount of the Tribal Trust case settlement proceeds and that are made from an Indian tribe’s private bank account in which the tribe has deposited the settlement proceeds are included in the gross income of the members of the tribe receiving the per capita payments under § 61. For example, if an Indian tribe receives proceeds under a settlement agreement, invests the proceeds in a private bank account that earns interest, and subsequently distributes the entire amount of the bank account as per capita payments, then a member of the tribe excludes from gross income that portion of the member’s per capita payment attributable to the settlement proceeds and must include the remaining portion of the per capita payment in gross income.

LIMITATION

This notice applies only to per capita payments from proceeds of the Tribal Trust case settlements that are described in this notice and that the United States has entered into with the Indian tribes listed in the Appendix to this notice or to proceeds of Tribal Trust case settlements that are subsequently identified as being subject to this notice on the Indian Tribal Governments page on the Internal Revenue Service website, http://www.irs.gov. The federal income tax treatment of other per capita payments made by the Secretary of the Interior or Indian tribes to members of Indian tribes is outside the scope of this notice and may be addressed in future guidance.

DRAFTING INFORMATION

The principal author of this notice is Sheldon Iskow of the Office of Associate Chief Counsel (Income Tax & Accounting). For further information, please contact Mr. Iskow at (202) 622-4920 (not a toll-free call).

Appendix

Tribes That Have Entered into Settlement Agreements of Tribal Trust Cases

1. Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation
2. Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
3. Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation
4. Bois Forte Band of Chippewa
5. Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians of the Colusa Rancheria
6. Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation
7. Coeur d’Alene Tribe
8. Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
9. Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians
10. Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
11. Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation
12. Crow Creek Sioux Tribe
13. Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma
14. Hualapai Indian Tribe
15. Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska
16. Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians of Arizona
17. Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas
18. Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
19. Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
20. Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
21. Lower Brule Sioux Tribe
22. Makah Indian Tribe of the Makah Reservation
23. Mescalero Apache Tribe
24. Minnesota Chippewa Tribe
25. Nez Perce Tribe
26. Nooksack Indian Tribe
27. Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Indians
28. Omaha Tribe o Nebraska
29. Passamaquoddy Tribe of Maine
30. Pawnee Nation
31. Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation
32. Pueblo of Zia
33. Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Reservation
34. Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
35. Rincon Luiseño Band of Indians
36. Rosebud Sioux Tribe
37. Round Valley Indian Tribes
38. Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
39. Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska
40. Sault Ste. Marie Tribe
41. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation
42. Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians
43. Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation
44. Spokane Tribe of Indians
45. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
46. Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians
47. Summit Lake Paiute Tribe
48. Swinomish Indian Tribal Community
49. Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians
50. Tohono O’odham Nation
51. Tulalip Tribes
52. Tule River Indian Tribe
53. Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation
54. Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
55. Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska

From the IRS Summer Series – Tips on Gambling Income and Losses

IRS-Whether you roll the dice, bet on the ponies, play cards or enjoy slot machines, you should know that as a casual gambler, your gambling winnings are fully taxable and must be reported on your income tax return. You can also deduct your gambling losses…but only up to the extent of your winnings.

Here are five important tips about gambling and taxes:

1. Gambling income includes, but is not limited to, winnings from lotteries, raffles, horse races, and casinos. It includes cash winnings and the fair market value of prizes such as cars and trips.

2. If you receive a certain amount of gambling winnings or if you have any winnings that are subject to federal tax withholding, the payer is required to issue you a Form W-2G, Certain Gambling Winnings. The payer must give you a W-2G if you receive:

$1,200 or more in gambling winnings from bingo or slot machines;
$1,500 or more in proceeds (the amount of winnings minus the amount of the wager) from keno;
More than $5,000 in winnings (reduced by the wager or buy-in) from a poker tournament;
$600 or more in gambling winnings (except winnings from bingo, keno, slot machines, and poker tournaments) and the payout is at least 300 times the amount of the wager; or
Any other gambling winnings subject to federal income tax withholding.
3. Generally, you report all gambling winnings on the “Other income” line of Form 1040, U.S. Federal Income Tax Return.

4. You can claim your gambling losses up to the amount of your winnings on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, under ‘Other Miscellaneous Deductions.’ You must report the full amount of your winnings as income and claim your allowable losses separately. You cannot reduce your gambling winnings by your gambling losses and report the difference. Your records should also show your winnings separately from your losses.

5. Keep accurate records. If you are going to deduct gambling losses, you must have receipts, tickets, statements and documentation such as a diary or similar record of your losses and winnings. Refer to IRS Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions, for more details about the type of information you should write in your diary and what kinds of proof you should retain in your records.

For more information on gambling income and losses, see IRS Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions, or Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income, both available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Links:

Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income
Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions
Tax Topic 419, Gambling Income and Expenses
Form W-2G, Certain Gambling Winnings
YouTube Videos:

Miscellaneous Income – English | Spanish | ASL
Record Keeping – English | Spanish | ASL

Can’t Pay Your Tax Bill?

Check Writing

Paying Your Tax

If you owe money to the IRS there are many ways to pay, including paying over time.  Here is some helpful info from the IRS tax tips:

  1. Tax bill payments If you get a bill this summer for late taxes, you are expected to promptly pay the tax owed including any penalties and interest.  If you are unable to pay the amount due, it is often in your best interest to get a loan to pay the bill in full rather than to make installment payments to the IRS.
  2. Additional time to pay Based on your circumstances, you may be granted a short additional time to pay your tax in full. A brief additional amount of time to pay can be requested through the Online Payment Agreement application at www.irs.gov or by calling 800-829-1040.
  3. Credit card payments You can pay your bill with a credit card. The interest rate on a credit card may be lower than the combination of interest and penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Code. To pay by credit card contact one of the following processing companies: Link2Gov at 888-PAY-1040 (or www.pay1040.com), RBS WorldPay, Inc. at 888-9PAY-TAX (or www.payUSAtax.com), or Official Payments Corporation at 888-UPAY-TAX (or www.officialpayments.com/fed).
  4. Electronic Funds Transfer You can pay the balance by electronic funds transfer, check, money order, cashier’s check or cash.  To pay using electronic funds transfer, use the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System by either calling 800-555-4477 or using the online access at www.eftps.gov.
  5. Installment Agreement You may request an installment agreement if you cannot pay the liability in full. This is an agreement between you and the IRS to pay the amount due in monthly installment payments. You must first file all required returns and be current with estimated tax payments.
  6. Online Payment Agreement If you owe $25,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest, you can request an installment agreement using the Online Payment Agreement application at www.irs.gov.
  7. Form 9465 You can complete and mail an IRS Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, along with your bill in the envelope you received from the IRS.  The IRS will inform you (usually within 30 days) whether your request is approved, denied, or if additional information is needed.
  8. Collection Information Statement You may still qualify for an installment agreement if you owe more than $25,000, but you are required to complete a Form 433F, Collection Information Statement, before the IRS will consider an installment agreement.
  9. User fees If an installment agreement is approved, a one-time user fee will be charged.  The user fee for a new agreement is $105 or $52 for agreements where payments are deducted directly from your bank account.  For eligible individuals with lower incomes, the fee can be reduced to $43.
  10. Check withholding Taxpayers who have a balance due may want to consider changing their W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, with their employer. A withholding calculator at www.irs.gov can help taxpayers determine the amount that should be withheld.

For more information about the Fresh Start initiative, installment agreements and other payment options visit www.irs.gov.  IRS Publications 594, The IRS Collection Process, and 966, Electronic Choices to Pay All Your Federal Taxes, also provide additional information regarding your payment options. These publications and Form 9465 can be obtained from www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Links:

  • Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process (PDF)
  • Publication 966, Electronic Choices to Pay All Your Federal Taxes (PDF)
  • Form 9465, Installment Agreement (PDF)

Some Good News for Innocent Spouses

By Stacie Kitts, CPA

What is innocent spouse relief?

Basically, if your spouse cheated on your jointly filed tax return – and you didn’t know about it – you can apply for relief from the taxes, penalties and interest that resulted from the misreporting.

The prior rules applied a two year limit from the time the IRS first took collection actions for the innocent spouse to file for relief.  The two year limit is now removed.

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service  announced that it will extend help to more innocent spouses by eliminating the two-year time limit that now applies to certain relief requests.

“In recent months, it became clear to me that we need to make significant changes involving innocent spouse relief,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “This change is a dramatic step to improve our process to make it fairer for an important group of taxpayers. We know these are difficult situations for people to face, and today’s change will help innocent spouses victimized in the past, present and the future.”

The IRS launched a thorough review of the equitable relief provisions of the innocent spouse program earlier this year. Policy and program changes with respect to that review will become fully operational in the fall and additional guidance will be forthcoming. However, with respect to expanding the availability of equitable relief:

  • The IRS will no longer apply the two-year limit to new equitable relief requests or requests currently being considered by the agency.
  • A taxpayer whose equitable relief request was previously denied solely due to the two-year limit may reapply using IRS Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief, if the collection statute of limitations for the tax years involved has not expired. Taxpayers with cases currently in suspense will be automatically afforded the new rule and should not reapply.
  • The IRS will not apply the two-year limit in any pending litigation involving equitable relief, and where litigation is final, the agency will suspend collection action under certain circumstances.

The change to the two-year limit is effective immediately, and details are in Notice 2011-70, posted today on IRS.gov.

Existing regulations, adopted in 2002, require that innocent spouse requests seeking equitable relief be filed within two years after the IRS first takes collection action against the requesting spouse. The time limit, adopted after a public hearing and public comment, was designed to encourage prompt resolution while evidence remained available. The IRS plans to issue regulations formally removing this time limit.

By law, the two-year election period for seeking innocent spouse relief under the other provisions of section 6015 of the Internal Revenue Code, continues to apply. The normal refund statute of limitations also continues to apply to tax years covered by any innocent spouse request.

Available only to someone who files a joint return, innocent spouse relief is designed to help a taxpayer who did not know and did not have reason to know that his or her spouse understated or underpaid an income tax liability. Publication 971, Innocent Spouse Relief, has more information about the program.

My morning drive with Rush Limbaugh – OMG His Tax Knowledge Cracks Me Up

Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Obs...

Love My Morning Drive With Rush

By Stacie Kitts, CPA

I’ve considered myself a bleeding heart liberal Democrat ever since I knew what a Democrat was, an interesting political choice for a successful business owner / Certified Public Accountant living in the OC. But an even more interesting dichotomy is how much I enjoy my morning drive listening to the lunatic ravings political commentary of Rush Limbaugh.

I can’t help myself. It’s like comedy hour really.

Now I know there are a lot of people who like Rush and that’s okay, I’m not judging. However, this morning he was so over the top that I couldn’t resist making him the subject of this blog post.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit I arrived at work before Mr. Limbaugh’s ranting commentary concluded so he may have redeemed himself later in his broadcast.

Here is what I thought I heard – no quotes here because I am recalling this from memory.

  1. Obama wants to tax the rich by increasing the 15% tax rate that many wealthier Americans enjoy on the sale of their investments. ( I have also heard this point made on several other news broadcasts)
  2. The 15% tax rate is a double taxation because wealthy Americans have already paid taxes at a 35% rate on the money they invested.

**********

First, I want to start this discussion by helping my readers to understand that different types of income are taxed at different rates. (I promise I will get to Rush’s points – I can hardly wait to tackle those) This varies from the regular tax rates that you might be familiar with.

So the basic tax rate schedule looks like this for 2011:

Tax Rate

Single

Married Filing Joint

Married Filing Separate

Head of Household

10% Up to $8,500 Up to $17,000 Up to $8,500 Up to $12,150
15% $8,501 – $34,500 $17,001 – $69,000 $8,501 – $34,500 $12,151 – $46,250
25% $34,501 – $83,600 $69,001 – $139,350 $34,501 – $69,675 $46,251 – $119,400
28% $83,601 – $174,400 $139,351 – $212,300 $69,676 – $106,150 $119,401 – $193,350
33% $174,401 – $379,150 $212,301 – $379,150 $106,151 – $189,575 $193,351 – $379,150
35% Over $379,150 Over $379,150 Over $189,575 Over $379,150

But here is what you may not know – tax law has all kinds of exceptions. In addition to the “regular” tax rates mentioned above, there is a whole host of other tax rates that might apply to your income.

Many of these “exceptions” are a decrease to the regular tax rates. For example:

  1. Qualified dividend income starting in 2003 and ending in 2012 has a maximum tax rate of 15%.
  2. Long Term Capital Gains income (selling stock you held for more than 12 months for example) is taxed at a maximum rate of 15% from years 2003-2012. The maximum rate increases to 20% in year 2013.

Income types that will increase your tax above the regular rate are:

  1. Self employment income (so if you are a business owner, you will likely pay more than the “regular” rates)
  2. Penalty taxes for early withdrawals of retirement investments (so if you pull money out of your 401K before you are eligible you will pay more than the “regular” rates)

Other exceptions to the regular tax include:

  1. Alternative minimum tax
  2. Depreciation recapture

So what is the argument?

It is simply this – working American’s, the ones who “work for a living” and are likely receiving a paycheck and Form W2 at the end of the year are paying taxes at a higher rate than individuals who make most of their income from investments. In addition, those American’s receiving a paycheck are also paying Social Security and Medicare taxes on top of the regular tax.

And why does this equate to the wealthiest Americans pay less tax? As Warren Buffett pointed out, working Americans don’t have the “extra” funds to invest. Middle America spends the money earned from their jobs on day-to-day living, not on investments that could earn income at a lower rate.

I like visual aides so here is one to help make the point:

If you are married and filing jointly and your taxable income after everything you can deduct, is $70,000 (and assuming all your income came from your paycheck) you will pay to our government in the form of Federal Taxes 25% of your income – on top of the social security taxes withheld from your check.

Married Filing Joint

Income

Total tax including social security)

Joe Tax Payer 70,000

$21,700

Warren Buffett 70,000

$10,500

Now that you know a bit more about how the tax system works – I hope – here are my answers to what Rush implied:

  1. Obama wants to tax the rich by increasing the 15% tax rate that many wealthier Americans enjoy on the sale of their investments .

Well, no Obama wants to tax income earned from investments similar to the way working Americans are taxed. Does this equate to taxing the rich more? More than what? -If most of your income is coming from investments – More than now – YES. More than the average American – well DUH NO.

  1. The 15% tax rate is a double taxation because wealthy Americans have already paid taxes at a 35% rate on the money they invested.

First, how does Rush know that wealthy Americans paid 35% on the income they invested? As we have learned, there are all kinds of ways income is taxed. And second, you only pay tax on the net profit – the increase in the value of the investment after you sell it and have control of the cash. The amount used to purchase the asset is subtracted from the profit to come up with the taxable amount and therefore is NOT taxed twice. (see post script)

Post Script: It appears Rush’s comment on the 35% rate relates to income that is taxed at the corporate level before being distributed out at dividends or capital gains.

The tax policy blog explains:

The reality is that capital gains and dividends are taxed at a lower rate at the individual level because this income has already been taxed at 35 percent at the corporate level before it was distributed to shareholders. Both Mr. Obama and his tax advisor Warren Buffett seem unaware that the U.S. has the 4th highest overall tax rate on dividend income among the largest industrialized countries in the OECD at 49.5 percent. Only Denmark (56.5 percent), France (55.9 percent) and the United Kingdom (54 percent) tax dividends at a higher rate.

So here is my take on the argument above:

If I earn money from my job (for which I pay taxes) and I take my money (lets say $1.00) to the grocery store and buy my dinner, then the grocery store takes my $1.00 and adds it to their profits (for which they pay taxes) leaving oh say $.85 – and then they buy merchandise from a vender using my $.85 and that vender adds it to their profits (for which they are taxed) and so on and so on. My dollar, or portions of my dollar were taxed over and over and over.

When a corporation makes a profit it pays taxes, just like I do. A corporation is considered a separate person distinct from its shareholders. So in the same manner as the rest of us, it takes some of the money it makes and its spends it. When it distributes its “profits” to pay investors (investors get dividends – its a perk of ownership and an incentive for them to buy the stock) those investors pay taxes on the income they receive in the same manner (all be it the investors get a tax break) as the grocery store does when I take my $1.oo profit (for which I have already been taxed) and buy my dinner.

I’m still struggling to understand why the profits that I distribute from my job to others are different than the profits distributed by the corporation.

Read This if you Need More Time to Pay Your Taxes

The Internal Revenue Service

Katherman Kitts & CO. LLP

I can’t take credit for this headline.  But it sounds like something I would write.  Someone at the IRS thinks like me – scary thought!

 

Taxpayers who owe taxes may be relieved to know that there are some options for those who owe and can’t afford to pay the full amount right away.

Here are the top 10 things the IRS wants you to know if you need more time to pay your taxes.

1.     Taxpayers who are unable to pay all taxes due are encouraged to pay as much as possible. By paying as much as possible now, the amount of interest and penalties owed will be less.

2.     Based on the circumstances, a taxpayer could qualify for an extension of time to pay, an installment agreement, temporary delay or an Offer in Compromise.

3.     If you cannot pay the full amount, taxpayers should immediately call the number or write to the address on the bill they receive.

4.     You may want to consider financing the full payment of your tax liability through a loan. The interest rate and fees charged by a bank or credit card company are usually lower than interest and penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Code.

5.     If you cannot pay in full immediately, you may qualify for a short amount of additional time, up to 120 days, to pay in full. No fee is charged for this type of payment arrangement and this option may minimize the amount of penalties and interest you incur.

6.     You may also want to consider an installment agreement. This arrangement allows you to make monthly payments after a one-time fee of $105 is paid. If you choose to pay through a Direct Debit from your bank account, the fee is reduced to $52. Lower-income taxpayers may qualify for a reduced fee of $43.

7.     To apply for an installment agreement you can use the Online Payment Agreement application available on the IRS website; file a Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request; or call the IRS at the telephone number shown on your bill.

8.     In some cases, a taxpayer may qualify for an offer in compromise, an agreement between the taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. Generally, an offer will not be accepted if the IRS believes that the liability can be paid in full as a lump sum or through a payment agreement.

9.     Even if you set up an installment agreement, the IRS may still file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien to secure the government’s interest until you make the final payment.

10.   It is important to respond to an IRS notice. If you do not pay your tax liability in full or make an alternative payment arrangement, the IRS is entitled to take collection action.

More information on the collection process is available at http://www.irs.gov.

Links:

Ten Tax Tips For Farmers at Tax Time

A dairy farm near Oxford, New York in the Unit...

Image via Wikipedia

Farmers, does your tax preparer know these 10 important tax tips?  No?  Yes?  They should….

If you are in the business of farming, there are a number of tax issues that you should consider before filing your federal tax return. The IRS has compiled a list of 10 things that farmers may want to know before filing their federal tax return.

  1. Crop Insurance Proceeds You must include in income any crop insurance proceeds you receive as the result of crop damage. You generally include them in the year you receive them.
  2. Sales Caused by Weather-Related Condition If you sell more livestock, including poultry, than you normally would in a year because of weather-related conditions, you may be able to choose to postpone reporting the gain from selling the additional animals due to the weather until the next year.
  3. Farm Income Averaging You may be able to average all or some of your current year’s farm income by allocating it to the three prior years. This may lower your current year tax if your current year income from farming is high, and your taxable income from one or more of the three prior years was low. This method does not change your prior year tax, it only uses the prior year information to determine your current year tax.
  4. Deductible Farm Expenses The ordinary and necessary costs of operating a farm for profit are deductible business expenses.  An ordinary expense is an expense that is common and accepted in the farming business. A necessary expense is one that is appropriate for the business.
  5. Employeesand hired help You can deduct reasonable wages paid for labor hired to perform your farming operations. This would include full-time employees as well as part-time workers.
  6. Items Purchased for Resale You may be able to deduct the cost of livestock and other items purchased for resale in the year of sale. This cost includes freight charges for transporting the livestock to the farm.
  7. Net Operating Losses If your deductible expenses from operating your farm are more than your other income for the year, you may have a net operating loss. If you have a net operating loss this year, you can carry it over to other years and deduct it. You may be able to get a refund of part or all of the income tax you paid for past years, or you may be able to reduce your tax in future years.
  8. Repayment of loans You cannot deduct the repayment of a loan if the loan proceeds are used for personal expenses. However, if you use the proceeds of the loan for your farming business, you can deduct the interest that you pay on the loan.
  9. Fuel and Road Use You may be eligible to claim a credit or refund of federal excise taxes on fuel used on a farm for farming purposes.
  10. Farmers Tax Guide More information about farm income and deductions can be found in IRS Publication 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide which is available at IRS.gov or by calling the IRS at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Links:

The IRS Announces: No More Paper Coupons It’s Time to Learn How To Use EFTPS

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Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

It’s time for those taxpayers who are fighting the electronic age to step it up.  The IRS today issued proposed Regs to discontinue the use of paper coupons as early as next year.  If you try to send in a paper coupon after December 31, 2010, there wont be anyone at the Treasury Department to process it.  More information about the proposed Regs is presented below:

Proposed Regulations Expand the Use of Electronic Payment System and Discontinue Paper Coupons Next Year

Consistent with a Financial Management Service initiative announced in April of this year, the IRS today issued proposed regulations to significantly increase the number of electronic transactions between taxpayers and the federal government.

The proposed regulations (REG 153340-09) would eliminate the rules for making federal tax deposits by paper coupon because the paper coupon system will no longer be maintained by the Treasury Department after Dec. 31, 2010.  The proposed regulations generally maintain existing rules for depositing federal taxes through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).

Using EFTPS to make federal tax deposits provides substantial benefits to both taxpayers and the government.  EFTPS users can make tax payments 24 hours a day, seven days a week from home or the office.

Deposits can be made online with a computer or by telephone.  EFTPS also significantly reduces payment-related errors that could result in a penalty.  The system helps taxpayers schedule dates to make payments even when they are out of town or on vacation when a payment is due.  EFTPS business users can schedule payments up to 120 days in advance of the desired payment date.

Information on EFTPS, including how to enroll, can be found at EFTPS website or by calling EFTPS Customer Service at 1-800-555-4477.

Some businesses paying a minimal amount of tax may make their payments with the related tax return, instead of using EFTPS.  More details regarding taxes required to be deposited using EFTPS, dollar thresholds and other specific requirements are in the proposed regulations.

Additional Information:

  • Publication 4132, which explains the process of enrolling and paying via the Internet
  • Publication 966, The Secure Way to Pay Your Federal Taxes for Businesses and Individuals
  • Publication 4169, Tax Professional Guide to Electronic Federal Tax Payment System
  • Publication 4320, EFTPS Toolkit, which contains PDF(s) and descriptions of EFTPS educational materials and their intended target audience, and is for use by tax professionals and financial institutions to assist in educating their clients on the benefits of EFTPS.
  • Publication 4275, Express Enrollment for New Businesses
  • Electronic Payment Options Home Page
  • Joe Schmo Didn’t Think He Needed Any Tax Planning

     By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

    Joe Schmo’s [cash based] business did exceptionally well during the year. He closed the biggest deal of his life and collected a large amount of cash. Joe was very pleased with his performance and knew he deserved a reward for all his hard work.

    Now Joe had always wanted to own a BMW. The problem being, the fully loaded price of Joe’s dream car was approximately $100,000. For the first time in his professional career, Joe felt he could indulge in his dream and buy the expensive car. So sometime in the year, Joe headed to the dealership where on behalf of his company he skillfully negotiated a pretty good price on that expensive car. And by the end of the day, Joe had written a check that paid for his dream, and substantially reduced the balance in his business bank account.

    With his wealth of cash, Joe felt he should get some other things he wanted too. So one day when the summer heat was causing him to sweat through his suit, Joe decided to purchased a new air-conditioning unit along with some other building improvements for his office – the cost $50,000.  

    Joe also learned that his computer system needed an expensive overhaul, the cost of which would be approximately $75,000. Although Joe had the system installed by December, he didn’t get around to actually writing the check until January of the following year. Pulling out his checkbook, he wrote a check making sure to back date it to December 31. With that, he had successfully spent all the remaining money in his business account. 

    But was Joe worried about the lack of funds in his account? Nope. 

    Joe remembered that in previous years his tax advisor had counseled him to determine what items he needed to purchase for his business and to make sure he bought them by the end of the year. This would reduce his taxable income, and hence no income taxes would be owed. He certainly didn’t need to pay his advisor to give him the same advice each year. Spend what you make – he had no problem doing that.  

    Poor Joe, was he in for a shock. When he met with his advisor, he learned that he owed a substantial amount of tax with no way to pay it.

    “Why,” he asked his tax advisor. “I spent all the money I made. I have nothing left. How can I owe taxes?”

    “Because,” his advisor explained. “You didn’t consult with me on what things to spend your money on.”  

    As it turns out Joe didn’t understand the tax rules and therefore made poor “tax” choices. His advisor laid it out:

    1)      Because of the tax rules, only a portion of the amount that Joe had spent for his new car, and the air-conditioning unit would be deductible on his current tax return. The balance of the cost would be deducted over a number of years based on depreciation rules – sadly, the special section 179 depreciation deduction that may have applied to other purchases, and would have allowed for a greater deduction in the current year, did not apply to his purchase of the car or the air-conditioning unit.

    2)      Because Joe didn’t deliver [or mail] the check by December 31, the amount spent on the computer system would not be deductible until the next year.   

    “You know Joe, I don’t begrudge you a new car,” the advisor told him. “But had you consulted with me first, we could have figured out a better cash plan for the purchases that you made.”

    What a gloomy outcome for Joe.  

    So how about you, did you complete some tax planning or consult with your advisor about major purchases during the year?

    If not, now is the time to contact your advisor to determine how you might pay any potential tax obligation. No need to be a Joe Schmo.

    Have You Heard About Form 1099K?

    [Stacie says: If you use Paypal or another service to process credit card payments, under these proposed regulations you may be receiving a new form 1099K which will report the amount of payments processed by the service for you. Check out the proposed regs and toss in your 2 cents.]

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service issued proposed regulations under a new statute requiring that, starting with transactions in calendar year 2011, the gross amount of payment card and third-party network transactions be reported annually to participating merchants and the IRS.

    The provision was enacted as part of the Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008 and is designed to improve voluntary tax compliance by business taxpayers and help the IRS determine whether their tax returns are correct and complete.

    “Time and time again, we have seen that better information reporting helps the tax system work better by ensuring that everyone pays what they owe,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “The new law gives us an important new tool for closing the tax gap and also provides business taxpayers better documentation to compute and report their income and expenses. The IRS will work closely with stakeholder groups to ensure a smooth implementation of this new program.”

    These proposed regulations, posted today on IRS.gov, propose rules to implement reporting of credit card, debit card and similar transactions, as well as transactions settled through third-party payment networks, such as third-party organizations that settle online transactions. The IRS also released for comment a draft version of new Form 1099K, Merchant Card and Third-Party Payments, which will be used to make these reports.

    The new law requires banks and other payment settlement entities to report payment card and third-party network transactions with their participating merchants. The IRS emphasized that individual cardholders are unaffected by this requirement, and none of the cardholder’s personal information will be shared with the IRS.

    The IRS has created Form 1099-K, which is similar to the existing Forms 1099 used to report interest, dividends and other payments. The first information return covering calendar year 2011 must be filed with the IRS and furnished to participating merchants in early 2012. Among other things, the proposed regulations describe who is required to file a return and which payment card and third-party network transactions are subject to the reporting requirement. The proposed regulations also provide numerous examples.

    The IRS welcomes comments on these proposed regulations and the draft Form 1099-K. Comments must be received by Jan. 25, 2010, and may be submitted electronically, by mail or hand delivered to the IRS. A public hearing is scheduled for Feb. 10, 2010, in Washington, D.C.
    The proposed regulations provide details on submitting comments or participating in the public hearing.

    The IRS continues to work closely with stakeholders to ensure the smooth implementation of this new information reporting program, including the mitigation of penalties in the early stages of implementation for all but particularly egregious cases.

    A Small Town and A Diabolical Marketing Strategy that Sucked Me in.

    By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

    Well, here is an epiphany – small town ‘don’t’ mean stupid…Not that I actually thought that small towns harbored unintelligent people. It’s just that sometimes a small town feels so sweet and quaint it’s easy to assume that everyone in it must be sweet and quaint too.
    You must know what I mean – picture the historical buildings, the lace curtains and the wooden board walks – all of which give off an air of – well – unsophisticated, honest, hardworking, townsfolk.
    Now as it happens, there are many such towns along US highway 395 just south of Lake Tahoe as you travel through the valley headed toward the desert. The elevation along that stretch of 395 provides for plenty of snow during the winter and lush green farmland in the summer. It really is a magnificent and beautiful drive. The way is also littered with quintessential postcard worthy small towns.

    This was exactly what I was observing when I saw the sign that sucked me in. We were driving slowly, very slowly as the speed limit was reduced to 35 mph through this particular town. And as I admired the homey almost soothing atmosphere, I spotted a sign in a cafe window framed in delicate lace curtains.

    HOMEMADE DEEP DISH PIE $4.99

    “Oh honey,” I said as I turned toward my husband clapping my hands and bouncing slightly in my seat. “Wouldn’t it be fun to stop in for some homemade pie? Can we?”

    “Of course,” he said and he immediate pulled over to search for a parking spot.

    And you know what?

    I wasn’t disappointed by the looks of the café at all. Nope – the decor was exactly how I had pictured it would be. The occasional black and white photos of days long past were hung over aging flowered wallpaper. There was a lunch counter with red stools along the back wall and wooden tables with miss-matched chairs filling the space between. Each table had a small vase holding a single daisy. It really had the perfect small town feel.

    And even though I couldn’t see into the kitchen, I knew who was back there. Yes of course – who else could it be but a sweet elderly grandmother lovingly baking her famous pie, her grey hair pulled tightly back in a bun, her flour smudged apron covering her 1950’s style dress. Sigh – I couldn’t wait for my small town – homemade – deep dish – pie experience.

    We headed toward the back and sat at the lunch counter where we found the menu tucked between the condiments. I quickly buried my nose among the greasy pages and tried to decide what type of pie sounded good, cherry, apple, peach, strawberry. I didn’t notice the waitress until she asked, “What can I get you?”

    “I think I will have a piece of cherry….,” I began as I glanced up into the face of a young woman who had several facial piercings and hair colored a very unnatural shade of red.” …Pie,” I finished.

    Okay, so fine, the waitress didn’t really fit my small town fantasy. But that didn’t mean that my homemade pie wasn’t at that very moment being placed on some dainty flowered china by the grandmother in the kitchen. Right – the sign said HOMEMADE DEEP DISH PIE you know- I mean – there were lace curtains tied back with bows for heaven’s sake.

    But when a young man in a dirty apron place in front of me a small white bowl with a spoon protruding from the side, I tried to explain. “No I ordered the homemade – deep – dish – pie.”

    “Ya, cherry, this is it.” He said as he moved away. And as I stared into the bowl unable to move, all I could think was, where’s the pie lovingly made by the little grandmother in the kitchen?

    And as my husband began to giggle, I realized the horrible truth. I had just paid $4.99 for a bowl of -of – canned pie filling?

    That’s right – my homemade deep dish pie was a bowl full of canned cherry pie filling – I was completely mortified.

    But not the hubby. He wasn’t mortified at all. In fact, he thought it was funny. Worse, he actually thought it was brilliant.

    “Brilliant? Brilliant?” I stammered once I could speak. “What do you mean? I will never come back here again, this is terrible. It’s a bowl of pie filling for crying out loud.”

    “What difference does it make?” He asked. “The locals know not to order the ‘homemade’ pie. Think about all the people who blow through here on their way to some place else. Heck most people wouldn’t even slow down if they didn’t have too. The sign in the window got us to come in and buy something. They’re not worried about repeat business from the tourists. When you think about it, it’s a brilliant marketing strategy. After tax, they probably made like a 400% profit off that bowl of pie filling. Why spend the money on actual pie?”

    Why spend the money? Why? I was so disappointed that I wasn’t going to get my homemade deep-dish pie.

    But even though disillusioned, I had to admit, it was true. If not for the sign, we would never have stopped. I glanced around the room wondering how many people had been lured in by the promise of pie only to be disappointed. And then it occurred to me, how many patrons might actually be locals slyly watching from the corner of their eye – a sad and slightly twisted form of local entertainment. Who knows, maybe a few. I mean come on, a bowl of pie filling has to piss off a least a few tourists.

    But even so, I have no doubt that tucked away in some little back office is our grandma and her old accountant complete with a hand cranked adding machine bending steadily over a desk feverishly scribbling the results of some brilliant yet simple tax strategy which allows these diabolical townsfolk a way to keep all those profits from their homemade deep dish pie.

    Guidance – Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008

    Notice 2009-85 provides guidance under section 877A, which was enacted by section 301 of the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (the “Act”) and applies to individuals who expatriate on or after June 17, 2008. Section 877A generally provides that all property of a “covered expatriate” is treated as sold on the day before the individual’s expatriation date. Gain and loss from the deemed sale must be taken into account at that time (subject to a $600,000 exclusion amount, which will be indexed for inflation – Exclusion amount for 2009 is $626,000) unless the individual elects to defer payment of the tax by providing security and waiving treaty rights that would prevent assessment or collection of the deferred tax. There are special rules for deferred compensation items, specified tax deferred accounts, and interests in nongrantor trusts.

    Notice 2009-85 will be in IRB 2009-45, dated November 9, 2009.

    2010 TAX BRAKETS, STANDARD DEDUCTIONS AND OTHER 2010 ADJUSTMENTS REV PROC 2009-50

    WASHINGTON — Tax rate brackets and various tax benefits will remain unchanged or change only slightly in 2010 due to inflation, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.

    By law, the dollar amounts for a variety of tax provisions must be revised each year to keep pace with inflation. As a result, more than three dozen tax benefits are subject to inflation adjustments each year, but because recent inflation factors have been minimal, many of these benefits will remain unchanged or change only slightly for 2010.

    Key provisions affecting 2010 returns, filed by most taxpayers in early 2011, include the following:

    The value of each personal and dependency exemption available to most taxpayers is $3,650, unchanged from 2009.

    The new standard deduction for heads of household is $8,400, up from $8,350 in 2009. For other taxpayers, the standard deduction remains unchanged at $11,400 for married couples filing a joint return and $5,700 for singles and married individuals filing separately. Nearly two out of three taxpayers take the standard deduction rather than itemizing deductions, such as mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and state and local taxes.

    various tax bracket thresholds will see minor adjustments. For example, for a married couple filing a joint return the taxable income threshold separating the 15 percent bracket from the 25 percent bracket is $68,000, up from $67,900 in 2009.

    The annual gift tax exclusion remains unchanged at $13,000.

    Details on these and other inflation adjusted items for 2010 can be found in Revenue Procedure 2009-50.

    Oh Crap You Missed the Filing Deadline

    By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

    Well, not really, today is the last day to file your extended individual tax return.

    However, if you are not going to be able to file your return today, don’t completely freak out. It happens. Here’s what to do.

    First, if you believe that you owe some income tax, in order to stop the accrual of additional penalties and interest for the unpaid amount, you should consider sending in a payment to the taxing agency. If you want to know how to calculate the penalties and interest related to a late filed return, check out Robert Flach’s post here.

    Second, you should gather any outstanding information and file your return as soon as possible.

    Here’s what to do if you are just unable to get a hold of some of your tax documents.

    If you are missing a W2 – you can complete and attach to your tax return Form 4852 Substitute Form W-2 to estimate the income you expect to have. Here is a post on what to do.

    If you are missing a K-1 – Form 8082 is used to tell the IRS that you didn’t receive your K-1. Here are the instructions to the Form.

    If your tax records have been destroyed, they will need to be reconstructed – here’s how.

    If your tax preparer is authorized to electronically file Federal income tax returns, and has applied for the IRS’s on line service, he or she can get your IRS wage and income account transcript (among other information) directly from the IRS’s website using the IRS’s e-services online products – ask your tax preparer how he or she can help you.

    If you are interested in what California has on file for you, you can check out your account history on line at My FTB Account.

    Once you have completed your return, mail it as soon as possible to the taxing agency with payment for any additional amounts that may be due.

    If you do owe with your late filed tax return, don’t be surprised when you receive a notice indicating that you owe some penalties and interest. If you are concerned that the amount the IRS is assessing is not correct or has been incorrectly applied to your situation, consider the need to contact a qualified tax professional authorized to speak with the Internal Revenue Service on your behalf to resolve the situation.

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