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STRATEGIC TAX LAWYERS:  TAX BLOG

How Do You Choose a Qualified Tax Preparer?

Thursday, March 12, 2015
Since it is tax season, we at the Strategic Tax Lawyers want to advise about tax preparers.  We are a firm with experienced business tax attorneys and we have seen our share of audit cases primarily due to tax preparer mistakes.  Today, most taxpayers will pay to have their tax returns prepared.   We want to give you tips about how to cautiously choose a preparer to do your taxes.  By law, you, as the taxpayer, will be held responsible for what is listed in the tax return.  It does not matter if a paid tax preparer was responsible for the return, if you sign it, you are responsible. 

 

We advise you to do your research.  Don’t just choose anyone you find through a Google search.  You should review the qualifications of the tax preparer.  You can identify a tax preparer using their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) which is legally required by tax preparers.  You may want to visit the IRS website since they will soon publish a searchable online directory that will identify tax preparers with certain qualifications and credentials. We recommend this as a helpful tool to identify a paid tax preparer using criteria based on your preferences.  The online information is in the works, but it will include search criteria such as the preparer name, location (city, state) among other search options.  You will be able to search for experienced tax attorneys, certified public accountants (CPA), agents, actuaries, and retirement plan agents.

 

Once you find a tax preparer that you would want to hire, make sure to check their work history with the Better Business Bureau.  This will help you identify if they had any issues with their business practice.  You can review for any disciplinary actions from the State Bar Association (for tax attorneys) or from the State Board of Accountancy (for CPAs).

 

We also recommend asking about service fees upfront to avoid any confusion.  There are preparers who will charge based on a percentage of your tax refund, so stay away from these preparers.  Unless you want to pay more if you get a large refund.  As a note, do not let the preparer deposit you refund into their bank account; you should have the money deposited directly into yours.  We also recommend using an online e-file program, so make sure your tax preparer has those capabilities.  Most likely they will use e-file if they file ten or more tax returns.  Also, do not sign a blank tax return, as this is not professional practice.  Review and double check all the information on the tax return before you sign.  This is critical since one mistake can trigger a red flag for an audit. 

 

One of the most important pieces of advice we can give is to document all your tax records so that you can provide these to you preparer.  A professional tax preparer will want to have access to your tax documents and receipts.

 

Do you have IRS issues due to a paid tax preparer?  You may need to hire experienced business tax attorneys.  The Strategic Tax Lawyers, LLP are experienced tax attorneys with years of documented successes dealing with the IRS and tax-related issues.  Contact the Strategic Tax Lawyers for a free case consultation at (800) 669-4775.

 

 

 



IRS Fresh Start Advice from tax lawyers in california

Thursday, March 5, 2015
The Strategic tax lawyers are IRS Fresh Start Initiatives specialists and have helped clients who are struggling financially to resolve their pending tax liabilities.  In 2009, in order to promote tax compliance, the IRS introduced the Fresh Start program to assist people are struggling to pay their delinquent taxes to have the chance for a “fresh start”.  This gives them a break from the taxes they owe to the Internal Revenue Service.  Originally, the goal was to offer assistance for taxpayers which would ultimately result in boosting the economy.  IRS Fresh Start has assisted thousands of individuals and businesses by cutting their past tax debt.  The Strategic Tax Lawyers are IRS Fresh Start Initiatives specialists help their clients with the process to resolve their financial hardships.   

The Fresh Start Initiatives include Offers in Compromise (OIC) as well as Notices of Federal Tax Lien (NFTL).  With the initiative, there was a 60% decrease in the number of NFTLs that were filed.  There were other benefits for taxpayers who used OIC.  Also, there were no penalties assessed for individuals and businesses requesting a late filing extension. With the good, however, comes the bad.  There are problems with the program that was determined during an audit meant to examine how successful the initiative is.   There are recommendations for the IRS to focus on certain aspects, such as neglecting to file new NFTLs when some taxpayers who owed over $10 million defaulted on their NFTL agreement.  Also, the IRS has yet to assess how impactful the revenue has been with the decrease of NFTLs.  The audit has resulted in the IRS starting to file new NFTLs for those who had their original NFTL’s withdrawn as well initiate measures that would certify that new NFTLs will be filed if taxpayers default on their agreements.

If you are a taxpayer who is interested in reducing you tax debt because you are financially burdened, you should apply to the IRS in order to qualify and take advantage of the IRS Fresh Start Initiative installment agreement for tax penalty relief, if your debt is $50,000 or less.  The Strategic Tax Lawyers are IRS Fresh Start Initiatives specialists who can assist you with this process.  If you owe over $50,000 in taxes, then you do not qualify for the Fresh Start penalty relief.  The Strategic Tax Lawyers may still be able to assist you since there are options for payment installation agreements that could relieve some financial stress.   

The Strategic Tax Lawyers, LLP are IRS Fresh Start Initiatives specialists. Contact the offices of the Strategic Tax Lawyers to speak with an experienced IRS Fresh Start specialist and receive a free consultation. Call us at (800) 669-4775.


What are Excessive Claims for Fuel Tax Credits?

Thursday, March 5, 2015
We are the Strategic Tax Lawyers, specialized tax law attorneys in the Los Angeles area with expertise in the tax law.  The latest news from the IRS regarding tax law and the tax code is related to the tax scams that are increasingly occurring to innocent taxpayers.  We are here to warn taxpayers about improper claims on tax returns, specifically for fuel tax credit claims.  Claims for fuel tax credits has become one of the scams that has been a problem for the 2015 tax filing season.

The IRS is diligently working to put an end to fake claims for the fuel tax credit and will do what it takes to catch the scammers who are promoting the fuel tax credits.   There has also been a concern at IRS regarding identity thieves attempting to include the fuel tax credit in order to increase their falsified claims for to get a refund.   As specialized tax law attorneys in the Los Angeles area, we have seen some of the repercussions of tax scams that taxpayers have been encountering, which are more common now during the tax filing season since paid tax professionals and taxpayers are getting ready to prepare their tax returns.  

The IRS has been seeing increased fraud with the fuel tax credit which will result in getting a severe penalty of $5,000 for a false claim.  There are other penalties, including interest charges and the possibility of prison time and criminal prosecution for filing fake claims. The IRS is constantly investigating scammers in order to eliminate scams and has been prosecuting the scammers who are behind the scams.

The proper use for the fuel tax credit is for those whose business uses off-highway fuel usage or farming fuel usage.  There are some commercial fuel uses that are nontaxable which can be claimed using Form 4135 for fuel credits. In general, most tax payers will not qualify for this credit.  However, the there are many taxpayers who inaccurately claim the fuel credit in order to increase their refunds.  Improper fuel credit claims occur when a taxpayer or business wrongfully claim the credit mistakenly on their tax return or by a tax scammer who claims the credit as tax fraud.

The IRS has initiated filters in order to prevent and eliminate the processing of mistaken fuel tax credit claims from being processed.  The filters will improve the way the IRS processes fuel tax credit claims that are questionable which could eliminate millions of dollars in unnecessary credit claims.  In 2013, there was approximately $33 million issued for questionable fuel tax credits.

Do you need assistance with tax-related issues?  You may need to hire a specialized tax law attorneys in the Los Angeles area. The Strategic Tax Lawyers, LLP have years of tax-related experience.  They are here to help you with any tax issues you may have.  For a free consultation to assist you with your tax-related issues contact the Strategic Tax Lawyers at (800) 669-4775.


The Strategic Tax Lawyers Advise About Hiding Money in Offshore Accounts

Thursday, March 5, 2015
We are the Strategic Tax Lawyers, expert taxation attorneys in the Los Angeles area.  We want to provide some information about offshore accounts and how the Internal Revenue Service designates these as tax scams of the upcoming tax filing season.  In general, we want our clients to avoid hiding income and assets in offshore bank accounts.  The IRS is on the lookout for taxpayers who avoid paying taxes by using offshore accounts. .  The IRS identifies individuals as conducting tax evasion if they hide their income or other assets in offshore banks or brokerage accounts and use a credit or debit card to access those funds. The IRS is always pursuing taxpayers who have undeclared accounts in addition to the banks and bankers who assist their clients with tax evasion.

The IRS has taken actions against taxpayers who are hiding income and assets in offshore accounts, including the banking organizations and bankers who assist them to hide their money.  We, as expert taxation attorneys in the Los Angeles area, advise that all taxpayers should disclose all their income and assets in an honest way and file the taxes in the way that the law requires.  

Since 2009, the IRS has an Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) in which over 50,000 disclosures were identified and over $7 billion was collected by the IRS from taxpayers who hide money in offshore accounts.  This is due to the IRS conducting offshore audits to collect the millions of dollars that was owed to the U.S. government.  In addition, these taxpayers now face criminal charges and fines.  As always, the IRS will make combatting offshore bank accounts a top priority to eliminate tax evasion.  The IRS will track these cases all over the world.

We have seen that taxpayers with offshore accounts get lured into scams and schemes which the IRS is monitoring.  These scams are illegal and usually lead to penalties including interest charges as well as criminal fines or prison time.  
We suggest that if you have offshore accounts and want to avoid any penalties due to illegal use of these offshore accounts, then you should report all income and assets as required on your tax forms. If you choose not to comply with the federal reporting requirements than you are in violation of the law.  The IRS will prosecute and impose penalties and fines.

We have seen many taxpayers voluntarily come forth to reveal their offshore bank accounts in order to avoid any penalties and fines.  The IRS are also offers opportunities for taxpayers who comply to settle their tax obligations.
Are you concerned about the legal matters associated with tax evasion and offshore bank accounts?  Are you looking to hire taxation attorneys in the Los Angeles area?  Consider contacting the Strategic Tax Lawyers, LLP who have years of tax-related experience and successful outcomes.  For a free consultation to assist you with your tax-related issues contact the Strategic Tax Lawyers at (800) 669-4775.


Tax Attorneys in Los Angeles Provide Advice to Taxpayers

Thursday, March 5, 2015
We are the Strategic Tax Lawyers and as tax attorneys in Los Angeles we are specialists in tax law and the tax code. We want to let you know more about the legal aspects of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) since there can be some confusion about it.  Lately, we have written about taxpayers falsely claiming elevated incomes in order to qualify for tax credits.  Tax credits are meant for taxpayers who earn low or moderate income by providing them a tax break each year. Eighty percent of taxpayers will claim an Earned Income Tax Credit, but we encourage all income earners who are eligible to claim this valuable credit.  We would like to share the following tips about EITC:

• First, you should review your eligibility for the tax credit if you earned less than $52,427.  Also, in case your financial situation is different than previous years, it would be a good idea to review the EITC eligibility rules.  You could qualify for the tax credit now but not in previous years.  If you do qualify, then you need to claim the credit when you file your income taxes.   The best advice we can give you is to use the EITC assistant tool on the Internal Revenue Service website in order to determine you EITC eligibility.  Don’t just assume one way or another.  This credit is too valuable to just rule out. The IRS tool can assist you with determining your qualifications for EITC as well as the amount you would qualify for.

• Get familiar with the rules of EITC. If you are going to claim the tax credit, you should understand what you are applying for to make sure you will qualify.   Some important factors include (1) you can’t file Married Filing Separately; (2) you need a valid Social Security number for yourself and your spouse (if you are married) as well as any children you claim: (3) you need to have earned income from being self-employed or from an employer; (4) you could be married or single to qualify; (5) members of the U.S. Armed Forces have special rules that apply.

• In general, the EITC can reduces the amount of tax you owe resulting in a tax refund which could be worth up to $6,143.  Last year, the credit averaged to $2,400.

• If you prepare your own taxes, use free services and free software to file your tax return and tax claims.

Are you concerned about the legal matters associated with the Earned Income Tax Credit?  Are you looking to hire taxation attorneys in Los Angeles?  Consider contacting the Strategic Tax Lawyers, LLP who have years of tax-related experience and successful outcomes.  For a free consultation to assist you with your tax-related issues contact the Strategic Tax Lawyers at (800) 669-4775.


Taxation attorneys in Los Angeles - The IRS Is Serious About Falsifying Income

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
If you are even thinking about providing fake information about tax credits on your income taxes, beware.  The Internal Revenue Service will have you and others on their radar.  We are here, as taxation attorneys in Los Angeles.  The IRS has seen scams peak during each tax filing season, and this year one of the top issues is falsely claiming tax credits.  Accordingly, the IRS has officially included falsifying income for tax credits as one of its “Dirty Dozen” scams for this year’s tax season.  The IRS has seen many ploys to wrongly claim tax credits and they are on the lookout for these scam artists. The IRS is warning that they are professionals who know what they are doing and they will convince taxpayers to dishonestly inflate income on their tax returns in order to claim tax credits which they are not entitled to collect upon.  That’s why we, as taxation attorneys in Los Angeles are advising taxpayers to be very accurate on their tax returns and not inflate any amounts, as it is illegal.   

Be prepared to face interest charges as well as significant penalties for these types of scams.  In addition, there could be criminal prosecution leading to prison time.  The IRS is diligently working to put an end to these and other types of scams.  They are prepared to prosecute those who are causing the problems and put them behind bars.

Basically, what we are telling our clients is to avoid creating false income or any other fake information in order to falsely qualify for a tax credit.  Don’t falsely increase the amount of your income that you report to the IRS.  This means don’t inflate or add income on your return if you did not legitimately earn it, which includes wages or income from self-employment to maximize any refundable credits.  This is similar to claiming false deductions and expenses that you did not pay in order to receive a larger tax refund or tax credits.  This will have serious repercussions if the IRS catches on to your actions.  You will have to repay the refunds, in addition to interest and face other penalties.

Also, make sure that your paid tax preparer is credible and has a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) that is required by the IRS and other professional credentials.  Be wary of paid tax preparers who will charge a fee based on your tax refund amount.  There should be a flat fee for tax preparation.  Your paid tax preparer should file your return electronically, as it is required by the IRS and it is the most secure way to file.  As a general rule, keep all your tax documents and receipts and give them to your tax preparer.

Do you need assistance because you filed false tax documents?  Are you looking to hire taxation attorneys in California?  Consider contacting the Strategic Tax Lawyers, LLP who have years of tax-related experience and successful outcomes.  For a free consultation to assist you with your tax-related issues contact the Strategic Tax Lawyers at (800) 669-4775.


The Strategic Tax Lawyers Warn Not to File False Documents to Hide Income

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
We are tax attorneys at the Strategic Tax Lawyers Firm in Los Angeles, California and we are advising taxpayers this tax season on ways to avoid sending red flags to the Internal Revenue Service.  One of the ways we’ve seen taxpayers and former clients get audited is by filing fake documents to hide income.  This year the IRS is looking out for this tax scam.

If you decide to file fake documents in order to hide taxable income, using falsified Form 1099s and various other false forms, then the IRS may get on to you.  More and more taxpayers are filing fake forms as a way to decrease their tax debt or increase their tax refund, so the IRS is very aware of this type of scam.  You may have encountered a paid tax return preparer that has offered to falsify tax documents, but this is a no-no in the tax world.  Taxpayers need to be aware of this type of scam if you are getting your taxes prepared by a professional.  The IRS has seen this type of scam increase during tax filing season since tax preparers are hired to file their taxes.  We are advising to think twice since falsifying documents to hide income results in significant penalties and amplified interest added to what you will owe.  Also, don’t forget the possibility of federal prison due to criminal prosecution.  The IRS takes this very seriously and investigates each case closely.  The IRS also works with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to eliminate scams and to also get those people behind bars.

If you decide to file a tax return with falsified tax information, you are reporting to the IRS an illegal lower income amount, which will lower the amount of taxes that you would potentially owe.  Some people even send the IRS fake forms that indicate their taxable income is nothing or zero.  We advise taxpayers to think twice about this action.  The IRS has seen this scam before so you may not want to participate in this type of scheme.  You don’t want to be one of these clients that we will need to represent for filing this type of return.  We have seen fines for filing this type of return equaling a penalty of $5,000.
 
It is too good to be true. Don’t believe tax preparers or others who encourage you to claim credits or deductions that you are not allowed to.  Protect your information so others do not file fake tax returns in your name.  If you do allow such a thing, you could have liability and be charged penalties and also face prison time.

Do you need assistance because you filed false tax documents?  You may need to hire a tax attorney.  This can be a stressful time, but the Strategic Tax Lawyers, LLP are tax attorneys with years of tax-related experience.  They are here to help you with any tax issues you may have.  For a free consultation to assist you with your tax-related issues contact the Strategic Tax Lawyers at (800) 669-4775.


Looking For an Intent to Levy Attorney?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Have you received a Final Notice of Intent to Levy via certified from the Internal Revenue Service.  We are attorneys who specialize in assisting our clients with these types of IRS issues.

Receiving one of these notices is not good news since you have probably ignored many of the previous notices from the IRS which requested payment.  Now, with a final notice of intent to levy, the government is serious and they are planning on taking what they believe is owed to them and you don’t have much of a say anymore?  So what should you do? That’s what we are here for.  We are experts in tax law and we can help you with the next steps that will include a hearing before the IRS will garnish any of your belongings or freeze your accounts.  The hearing information will be provided with the notice of levy and is your way to exercise your rights for your case to be heard before the government takes over your personal bank accounts and any assets.  You will need to hire a qualified tax attorney with experience in this field.

Technically, you have 30 days from when you received the Notice of Intent to Levy to request a hearing.  The government is not allowed to confiscate your belongings if this form is submitted on time. On the other hand, if you don’t submit the form within 30 days, then you won’t be able to request a hearing and the levy action will not be stopped.  It gets complicated after the 30 day window because you can still request another type of hearing, but the IRS will not stop the levy action.  We, as attorneys who specialize in intent to levy, can try to negotiate with the IRS to put a hold on the levy for 120 days with good reason. Some of our clients have been given an extension and were given a payment plan to pay off their tax debt.

You also have the option of letting the IRS now that you are unable to pay the full amount of tax debt now and you want apply for an Offer in Compromise (OIC) or an Installment Agreement.  With an Offer in Compromise, we assist our clients with negotiating with the IRS to offer an amount less than the full extent of the tax debt.  If you notify the IRS within the 30 day time period you could have an opportunity to have this type of discussion with the IRS to try to reduce the debt.

It is important that you act quickly when you receive a Final Notice of Intent to Levy because time is not on your side.  If you need an attorney for Final Notice of Intent to Levy that you received, contact the Strategic Tax Lawyers, PC for a free consultation to assist you. Call the Strategic Tax Lawyers at (800) 669-4775.  We have experience stopping levies, but we need to act quickly.


Tax Attorneys Advise About Improvements Needed For Search and Seizure Warrants

Wednesday, February 18, 2015
The latest news coming from the IRS is about search and seizure warrants not being properly documented or evidence not being secured adequately.  The Internal Revenue Service has been investigated and the results have showed that the IRS is not following procedures as they should in order to certify that they are storing and controlling their evidence accurately and by the books.   As tax attorneys in Los Angeles at the Strategic Tax Lawyers, LLP, we have seen many warrants being improperly documented and secured.  

In general, the IRS has a special department that maintains the ability to conduct searches as well as issue search and seizure warrants to the public.  The IRS was audited by its regulatory agency, to find out if this department has processed search and seizure warrants in a correct manner by following the procedure to collect evidence and maintain it.  Evidence was gathered from 152 IRS warrant.  From the cases that were used in the report, which were only 61 cases that were able to be evaluated for logistic and legal reasons. As tax attorneys in Los Angeles, we were interested to find out the results which found that 14 (23%) cases had documentation that was missing.  This was important documentation that had signed affidavits that were missing and also had major errors on their search and seizure warrants.  That plays a huge role in our cases, especially since the IRS has been found to not always follow the procedures to seize and store evidence in a proper and controlled manner. As tax attorneys in Los Angeles, it is imperative that our clients be protected from these kinds of problems.  If the proper documents are not maintained and if procedures are not followed strictly, this causes the evidence to be tampered with, lost, or stolen, which affects the cases that we work on.

The investigation has triggered the IRS to be held accountable by ensuring that they capture all required documentation for all search and seizure warrants and that it will be maintained properly in files.  This will include signed copies of the affidavits.  The Internal Revenue Service is in agreement with the recommendations from the investigation results and will take corrective actions.   

If you need a tax attorney in Los Angeles, contact the Strategic Tax Lawyers, LLP for a free consultation to assist you with your IRS and tax-related issues. Call the Strategic Tax Lawyers at (800) 669-4775.



Professional Tax Attorneys Warn of Fake IRS Phone Calls

Wednesday, February 18, 2015
“Watch out for scammers!” warn professional tax attorneys of the Strategic Tax Lawyers Firm.  “Make sure to hang up if you get a phone call from an IRS agent who demands that you pay immediately.”  Under no circumstances will the Internal Revenue Service operate in that manner.   The professional tax attorneys also say that tax scams are more popular than ever and they are surging again as tax season begins.  There have been approximately 290,000 calls about phone scam since October 2013 and approximately 3,000 victims have been paid out over $14 million.  One of the biggest problems the IRS is continually dealing with is scam phone calls that results in identity theft.  The IRS has warned that the scammers will call using a caller ID number that makes it appear that they are calling from an IRS phone number.  Then the scammers will threaten innocent taxpayers, including the elderly and immigrants, with threats of deportation, arrest, or the loss of certain privileges like driver's license unless they pay the scammer immediately. A warning sign is a message saying it is urgent that you return a phone call or if they mention they are working with the IRS Criminal Division office.  “What is tricky”, say the professional tax attorneys, is that they may have your Social Security number to use as an identifier.  “These scammers are professional and you will be fooled by them, if you don’t pay attention to the obvious,” warn the professional tax attorneys.

The tax scammers do their homework and are very convincing.  Once the phone call is made, they may also make a follow-up phone call by disguising using a number that appears that they are phoning from the local police department or the DMV to make their fake case more convincing.  There have also been cases of scammers calling to tell you that you are owed a refund check in order to ask for your personal information.  The scammers are professionals at manipulating innocent people, so don’t fall prey to this scam.

The Internal Revenue Service will never call a taxpayer about taxes without first contacting by regular mail.  The IRS will also never ask for immediate payment via the phone or by credit card. And most certainly the IRS will not threaten anyone with deportation or arrest.  The IRS will also not ask for any financial information via email, so that should be a red flag if you are asked to provide this type of information.  In the case that you do receive a threating phone scam call, the professional tax attorneys recommend reporting it immediately to the authorities and to the IRS directly.

If you have been a victim of identity theft or tax fraud, you may need to hire a tax attorney.  This can be a stressful time, but the Strategic Tax Lawyers, LLP are professional tax attorneys with years of experience in tax-related and IRS issues.  They are here to help you with any tax issues you may have.  For a free consultation to assist you with your tax-related issues contact the Strategic Tax Lawyers at (800) 669-4775.