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STRATEGIC TAX LAWYERS:  TAX BLOG

IRS Telephone Scams

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

We are the Strategic Tax Lawyers, a firm made up of professional business tax attorneys, IRS levy attorneys, and audit tax attorneys with years of experience in tax-related and IRS issues. 

We often mention the tax scam phenomena which has been occurring more and more of late.  The tax scam involves innocent individuals receiving a call from a scam artist who persuades the victim to transfer money to those pretending to represent the IRS.  The scam artists threatens the victims and demands that they pay their taxes or a fine by putting money on prepaid debit card.  Threats include going to jail or calling immigration. The scam artists warns the victim not to hang up or call anyone and if they do, they will go to their residence to arrest them. Many people fall for this and end up putting thousands of dollars on newly purchased prepaid debit cards.  When the victim purchased the prepaid debit cards they called the scam artist to give them the numbers on the back of the prepaid card. The money is usually gone or spent by the scam artists before the victim realizes it was a scam.

Tax scams are very serious issues that leaves innocent taxpayers with major tax problems that can be frustrating, emotional and expensive to resolve.

The IRS has over 650,000 reports about telephone scams, with anywhere between 9,000 and 12,000 complaints weekly.  Since mid-August 2015, more than 4,200 people reported getting targeted by a scam artist and paying more than $21.5 million cumulatively.  According to the authorities, the average victims gets swindled out of $5,100.

One victim lost over $500,000, the most money reported for a tax scam.
The IRS never will never directly call anyone to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you about any past taxes you owe. First, you will receive a notice in the mail. In addition, the IRS will never demand payment without giving you a chance to appeal or talk to your accountant. The IRS will never require that you pay in a specific manner.

Nor will the IRS request any payment information over the phone. Also, the IRS will never threaten any taxpayer and they will not phone the police or immigration agencies. Also notice if official emails have the dot between "IRS" and "gov" since many fake emails will not.

We are the Strategic Tax Lawyers, LLP and we can assist you with your tax problems.  We are professional business tax attorneys, IRS levy attorneys, and audit tax attorneys with years of experience in tax-related and IRS issues. 

Call the Strategic Tax Lawyers at (800) 669-4775 for a free consultation to assist you with your tax-related matters.


IRS Issues Rapper T.I. With Tax Liens

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
The IRS has recently filed tax liens to 35- year old Grammy-Award winning rapper Clifford Harris, aka T.I., and his singer wife Tameka Cottle “Tiny” in the amount of $4.5 million.  As top Los Angeles tax attorneys at the Strategic Tax Lawyers firm, we have assisted our clients with federal tax liens. We can also assist you if you believe you received an IRS notice mistakenly.

Federal tax liens let the IRS collect its money from the taxpayer. This usually involves a forced money collection or a seizure of assets and/or property. The IRS seizes property and sells it to use the money to pay down the debt.

Clifford Harris and his wife owe more than $4,570,000 to the Internal Revenue Service. Rapper T.I. had one tax lien for $1,397,000 that was filed in Georgia for delinquent taxes from 2012.  Another tax lien was issued for over $3,173,000 for delinquent taxes from 2013.  T.I. has a net worth of $215 million and is considered a top paid rap performer.  T.I. is known for founding record label Grand Hustle Records. He also is an owner of restaurants and nightclubs, as well as three clothing lines.  Harris has become famous after releasing nine albums with Atlantic Records. He also makes appearances in movies and television shows.

Celebrities are required to pay their taxes, as does the average taxpayer. No income earner is exempt from paying taxes, no matter what their celebrity status is. In fact, the IRS is stricter with celebrities who earn millions since they may red flag the IRS.  Celebrities who earn big money may want to keep it all to themselves and perhaps they don’t think that they will get caught.  This time T.I. joined the likes of hip hop artists who owe millions of dollars in unpaid taxes to the IRS, from Snoop Dog to Lil Wayne to Lauren Hill to DMX.

To remove a tax lien, you need to pay the total amount off.  Tax relief attorneys, such as the Strategic Tax Lawyers, can also assist with withdrawal of a tax lien if it was filed in error or if the taxpayer qualifies for the IRS Fresh Start program.  When a tax lien is removed, it will remain on your credit for years.  

The Strategic Tax Lawyers, LLP are a firm of professional and qualified Los Angeles Tax Attorneys, Intent to Levy attorney and Los Angeles Tax Relief attorneys who specialize in all aspects of the tax code, especially federal tax liens.  Our firm has years of experience dealing with the IRS about tax-related issues.  To get a free consultation, call the Strategic Tax Lawyers at (800) 669-4775 for assistance you with your tax-related matters.



Are You Eligible for Advance Payment of Tax Credits?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
We are the Strategic Tax Lawyers and we are experts in the federal tax code. If you have any legal issues or complications regarding your taxes please contact us for a free consultation. We have assisted thousands of clients settle their tax-related cases successfully.  The IRS is currently mailing out letters to taxpayers if they received advance payments of the premium tax credit last year, even if they did not file their tax return.  However, you will need to file your taxes in order to maintain eligibility for the credit because if you don’t file then you won’t be able to claim the credit on future tax returns. The IRS is sending out Letters 5591, 5591A or 5596 to taxpayers to remind them of their tax return obligation for claiming the premium tax credit. So if you receive one of these official IRS notifications, follow the instructions to file within 30 days of the date on the letter.

If you made a mistake on your tax return, you may need to amend your tax return as soon as you can.  In general, tax professionals say it isn’t worth stressing if you forgot to claim a deduction or accidentally made a minor mistake on your income tax return.  It is a good idea to file an amended return so that you can easily resolve a mistake you make.  Some common mistakes include errors related to total income claimed, filing status, or the number of claimed dependents.  You are able to fix your tax return so that you can claim any deductions or credits that you forgot to take on your original tax return.  Luckily, for minor math errors, you won’t need to amend your tax return. Most likely, the IRS will correct any wrong calculations or send you a tax form or schedule to complete if it is missing.  If you are making any changes to a previously filed tax return, the IRS recommends using Form 1040X which will have to be mailed and cannot be e-filed.

Also, if you need to amend more tax returns, you will need to use separate 1040X Forms for each of the tax years in question. If you need to claim an additional return, you need to wait until you receive the tax refund from the original income tax return.  It could take up to 3 months to process an amended tax return. You can always track your amended return on the IRS website.  That way can be updated about the status of the amended tax return online.

If you need to amend your tax return to pay additional taxes, then you need to file the 1040X as soon as possible and submit a payment to the IRS.  There will most likely be an interest and penalty charge added to the amount you owe.

We are the Strategic Tax Lawyers, Los Angeles Tax Attorneys who specialize in the tax code and we can
Offer you legal advice on your tax-related issues with the IRS.  We are professional business tax lawyers with years of experience in tax-related and IRS issues.  Call the Strategic Tax Lawyers at (800) 669-4775 for a free legal consultation to assist you with your tax-related matters.



Information on Levies

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Did you receive a Final Notice of Intent to Levy via certified from the IRS? Were you notified before the IRS actually issued the levy?  We are attorneys who specialize in assisting our clients with these types of IRS issues.
 
Taxpayers who owe the IRS money and have a delinquent status taxes may experience the IRS seizing their assets to get their payments directly. This action is known as a “levy.” This impacts taxpayers since the law states that the IRS is required to notify taxpayers a minimum of 30 calendar before a levy is issued. The purpose is to give taxpayers the opportunity to ask for a Collection Due Process hearing to be held before the first levy.
The IRS has to comply with federal policies and requirements that notify taxpayers before they plan to issue a levy. The IRS has legal requirements that they must comply with in a timely manner that will notify taxpayers before they issue a levy.  The IRS’s main goals is to protect the rights of taxpayers especially when the tax agency issues levies that may include additional assessments. For that reason, the IRS must provide taxpayers with a minimum of 30 days before they will issue a levy.

A review of IRS issued levies determined that there were 46 taxpayers who did not receive a new notice of intent to levy after there were additional assessments made on the levy.  The IRS is working with programmers to identify the problems and resolve them.
Taxpayers have up to 30 days from when you first receive a Notice of Intent to Levy to request a hearing.  The IRS cannot levy your belongings if you submit this form on time. However, if you do not submit within the 30 day timeframe, then you will not be able to request a hearing to stop any levy action.

The Strategic Tax Lawyers specialize in intent to levy and 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.
Don’t just wait around when you receive any notifications of a levy or a Final Notice of Intent to Levy because time is of the essence.  If you need an attorney for Final Notice of Intent to Levy that you received, contact the Strategic Tax Lawyers since we have experience with levies.  Call the Strategic Tax Lawyers at (800) 669-4775 for a free consultation.
 



Tax Filing Extension October 15th Deadline

Thursday, October 15, 2015
The Internal Revenue Service is strongly urging all taxpayers who have not filed their taxes that the deadline is TODAY (October 15, 2015.)  By October 15th, taxpayers will need to file their taxes, due to a previous extension. This deadline is an automatic six month extension granted to taxpayers to allow them to file their tax returns that are delayed since the original April 15th deadline.  Each year, there are approximately three million taxpayers who get an extension to file their tax returns by October 15th.  There are still ways to be granted an extension even though October 15 is normally the last day given to file a tax return.  Usually this extension will apply to those in the military who served in combat zones.

It is important to take the deadline seriously and file by October 15th and also to check all documents and tax returns to make sure that they did not overlook or forget any tax benefits, credits, deductions, etc.  We recommend that taxpayers take advantage of credits and deductions if they honestly qualify. Don’t just think you can claim these benefits because the IRS will figure out if something is fishy.  One of the most popular tax benefits is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).  The IRS has a free EITC assistant online tool which can assist taxpayers assess if they are indeed eligible for the credit. Some other credits you may qualify for include the American Opportunity Tax Credit, Saver’s credit, as well as other education tax benefits.

This year, taxpayers will need to respond to the health care tax reporting section by simply checking a box on their return to indicate if they have health coverage for the respective tax year.

The IRS always recommends filing tax returns electronically since the method of free electronic filing via IRS e-file is accurate, easy and safe to use.  Using the e-file system makes it easy for taxpayers to make sure that they will meet the October 15 tax deadline since no postage or delivery time is necessary.  Free file is free tax software that also helps taxpayers with filing and takes the guesswork out of preparing their tax return.  Paid tax preparers also will file their clients’ returns using an electronic e-file system.  This is timely and cost-effective for the tax preparer and the taxpayer so that they can receive their refund quicker directly into their bank account (by choosing the direct deposit option).

The IRS always wants taxpayers to make sure they take advantage of credits and deductions if they qualify.  This includes the Earned Income Tax Credit.  The IRS has an Earned Income Tax Credit tool online to help taxpayers assess if they are eligible. Other credits include the American Opportunity Tax Credit as well as other education tax benefits.

The IRS has online payment options for taxpayers who are having financial hardships and are unable pay the full tax liability by October 15th. They may acquire a penalty, which is usually 5% per month. However, for financially struggling taxpayers, there are tax relief programs as well as the online payment agreement with the IRS.

If you are looking for Encino Tax Lawyers, contact the Strategic Tax Lawyers, a firm of Intent to Levy Lawyers, IRS CP504 Attorneys, and Audit Tax Attorneys who have extensive training and experience in IRS-related matters and the IRS tax code.  If you have any legal issues with the IRS related to your taxes, call the Strategic Tax Lawyers today at (800) 669-4775 for a free consultation.  You will get your issue resolved in the most efficient manner possible.



College Tax Credits

Thursday, October 15, 2015
As the school year begins, the IRS wants to remind all parents that now is the perfect time to find out if they are eligible for tax benefits in the form of two college tax credits for their 2015 federal tax returns. Taxpayers with student eligible costs may be able to qualify for the Lifetime Learning Credit (maximum credit for each return) or the American Opportunity Tax Credit (credit for each student).  Any student enrolled in an eligible educational institution (college or vocational school) can claim the tax credit and the taxpayer is able to qualify for both; however only one of the credits can be claimed for a student in that year.  In order to claim a tax credit, you will need to file your taxes and complete an Education Credit Form (8863).  There are income limits that taxpayers will have to take into consideration.

There is an interactive tool available on the IRS website that will help taxpayers determine if they are eligible for either of the tax credits.  In general, students will receive a 1098 Form in the mail from their school that will be due February 1, 2016.  There are forms and instructions that explain how to figure out your allowable benefits and will inform you about the tuition payment status.

If a student is eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit they could receive a tax credit of up to $2,500 which they can use for expenses during the entire year for up to four tax years. The expenses include fees such as tuition, books, and other expenses; however, housing is not qualified. Taxpayers can claim the credit if their income is $80,000 or under for single or $160,000 for married couples. If the earnings are above this amount then they are not eligible for a tax credit.

If an undergraduate or graduate student is eligible for the Lifetime Learning Credit, they could receive a maximum of $2,000 per tax return.  If a taxpayer does not owe taxes, they cannot earn a tax credit. The tax credit can be used for fees such as tuition. Taxpayers can claim the credit if their income is $55,000 or under for single or $110,000 for married couples.  Taxpayers who earn more than $130,000.
Good news for parents – they can receive the credit by having less taxes take out of their pay by filing a new W-4 Form in order to increase the withholding allowance.  Also, don’t forget that if you have a child who is a student, you can claim them as a dependent until age 24.

Need assistance with the Education Credit Form Los Angeles Tax Attorneys who specialize in the tax code and we can assist you with your tax-related issues with the IRS.  We are professional business tax lawyers with years of experience in tax-related and IRS issues.  Call the Strategic Tax Lawyers at (800) 669-4775 for a free consultation to assist you with your tax-related matters.




New Hacking Incident

Thursday, October 15, 2015
A new hacking incident has an additional 220,000 innocent taxpayers as victims of stolen tax information based on a report from the Internal Revenue Service.  The IRS revealed that this data breach is much worse that they thought since the con artists accessed tax data for approximately 338,000 innocent taxpayers which is three times more than the IRS actually estimated when the breach was discovered in May 2015.  The original estimates that the IRS released claimed that the cyber hackers accessed tax information for 114,000 taxpayers via the IRS an online portal called IRS “Get Transcript”.  The “Get Transcript” site allows taxpayers to access their tax returns and transcripts online from previous years.  The site was shut down after the discovery of the data breach.  After further investigation, the IRS determined that an additional 224,000 victims’ information was possibly accessed. Most likely, the cyber thieves use the data to sell it to identity thieves on the dark web. So be aware of phishing and other tactics that ask for your identifying information.

The IRS confirmed that the cyber attack allowed the hackers to attackers were able to view the tax filings for the hundreds of thousands of taxpayers since they "confirmed" their identities with stolen personal information including dates of birth, Social Security number and home addresses.  This information is sold online from one criminal to another very cheaply. The investigation leads the IRS to believe that this scheme is part of a bigger network to claim false tax refunds in the near future. 

The hundreds of thousands of victims that were compromised does not include the amount of attempts to access the information that were failed.  Back in May 2015, the IRS revealed that the hackers attempted to hack an additional 111,000 accounts but were unsuccessful.  However, this week, the IRS disclosed that there were agency 170,000 more attempts that were left unaccounted for.  Therefore the total of failed attempts is 281,000.  
The IRS it is serious about the protection of taxpayer’s information.  The IRS will notify the new taxpayers that were affected over the next few days.
We are the Strategic Tax Lawyers, LLP and we can assist you with any of your tax-related issues with the IRS.  We advise all consumers to keep an eye out on their finances and sign up for credit report monitoring for any irregular activity.  It’s not easy to stop tax fraud, but if you monitor your accounts closely, you should be able to notice suspicious activity quickly and take action

We are professional business tax lawyers with years of experience in tax-related and IRS issues.  Call the Strategic Tax Lawyers at (800) 669-4775 for a free consultation to assist you with your tax-related matters.




Billionaire Carl Pohlad Estate Resolves IRS claim

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
This week the IRS settled a claim in U.S. Tax Court of over $250 million on the Pohlad Family Estate for a small percentage of what they originally demanded. The Pohlad family are the owners of the Minnesota Twins baseball team, and have an involvement in commercial real estate, financial services, media, and car dealerships. Carl Pohlad, who passed away in 2009.  The Pohlad family ranks number 5 on Forbes richest families in America list.

The Pohlad family was involved in a lawsuit (filed by the Pohlad estate) that challenged an assessment of over $120 million in estate taxes which did not include a $48 million penalty and interest charges.
The judgement ruled for the Pohlad family to pay the IRS $36 million, $7 million of which are penalties and interest. There are no details documenting the breakdown of the settlement.

Originally, the IRS claimed that the families’ financial interest in the baseball team was over $290 million when Mr. Pohlad passed away.  However, the estate claimed that the value was closer to $24 million, ten times less than the exaggerated estimate, since ownership was transferred to his three sons before he died.  The IRS filed a “notice of deficiency” in 2013 and a hearing was held a few months later.  In September 2014, a four-day trial was held which included testimony about the estate valuation.

Currently valuation discounts is a hot topic with the IRS. This may have alerted the U.S. Treasury Department to create stricter guidelines about valuation discounts associated with estate planning.

If you want to avoid IRS issues, unexpected outcomes and future tax burdens is to have a well-thought out estate plan.  The Strategic Tax Lawyers can assist you and your loved ones avoid stress and hardship by creating an estate plan to avoid probate and other IRS-related issues.  Probate can be very expensive, draining and time consuming.  You can avoid probate and protect your assets with a surefire estate plan. We recommend that every family create an estate plan to avoid the headaches that can occur later on in life. If you have assets, that include investment, savings, retirement accounts, insurance policies, real estate and business interests, then you need to consider your financial affairs today and create an estate plan with the help of the Strategic Tax Lawyers.

We are the Strategic Tax Lawyers, a firm made up of IRS Tax Attorneys, IRS Bank Levy Attorneys, and Estate Tax Lawyers. If you need an attorney for your estate legal handlings, contact the Strategic Tax Lawyers since we have experience with leviesCall the Strategic Tax Lawyers at (800) 669-4775 for a free consultation.



Did You Get a Visit from an IRS Revenue Officer?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
There are times when a revenue officer will personally visit a taxpayer. If an official IRS Revenue Officer shows up to your doorstop or at your business, they are looking to collect money for a past tax liability that is owed to the IRS or to investigate past tax offenses.  The IRS Revenue Officer are tax authorities with expertise in accounting and finance who will make personal visits to perform collection duties and they are extremely specialized in ways to investigate for any assets a taxpayer may have. If an IRS Revenue Officer is coming to visit you, then there are some questions that will need to be answered.  They may probe you until they have answers and a way to collect their money.

Receiving a visit by an IRS Revenue Officer could mean that you owe the Internal Revenue Service a lot of money and they are coming to collect it in full, no questions asked. Typically, if an IRS Revenue Officer shows up, they are collecting sums of at least $25,000, usually more than that, from taxpayers.  

The IRS will stop at nothing to get what is rightfully theirs. They have the authority to legally initiate liens, levies, wage garnishments and confiscation of valuable assets that can reduce or eliminate the tax debt. IRS Revenue Officer’s are also capable of targeting your neighbors to snoop around about your assets or any information that can lead them to get the tax money collected.

It is highly advisable for you, as a taxpayer, to obtain legal representation immediately to deal with the personal visit, phone call or letter from an IRS Revenue Officer. This is not a matter you want to ignore or leave in your own hands. When dealing with an IRS Revenue Officer, it is best to be civil and polite and state that you have or will be getting legal representation for this matter. An experienced and reliable tax attorney can help protect your rights by controlling the ruthlessness of the Revenue Officer and by working with the Revenue Officers in order to come to an agreement that is a viable and equitable solution for both parties. If a taxpayer receives any letter or summons from the IRS, you should contact your tax attorney immediately.

Strategic Tax Lawyers LLP are experienced IRS tax lawyers, estate planning attorneys and will & trust attorneys who have counseled clients about the protection of their assets from creditors.  These IRS tax lawyers can help you plan how to remove guesswork to prevent any issues.  The Strategic Tax Lawyers offer free and confidential consultations about estate planning, estate tax exemption, will & trusts and tax-related issues. Call today at (800) 669-4775 if you need assistance.



New Tax Scam Tricks

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Tax scams happen all year long, not just during tax season.  We are professional business tax attorneys, IRS levy attorneys, and audit tax attorneys with years of experience in tax-related and IRS issues.  We are passing along the information from the IRS to advise you to be aware of the new scams that cyber criminals are initiating. The criminals make attempts to scam you out of your money and/or personal information. These criminals try to scam the elderly, immigrants and individuals who speak English as a second language. Scam artists will do anything to swindle anyone out of money.  The IRS takes this very seriously.

Below are some tips to avoid being a victim of these tax scams.
Tax scams have become very sophisticated and hard-hitting in an attempt to instill fear so victims will comply with the scam.  This usually involves a false payment that goes directly into the hands of the con artist.  Con artists use phone scams to threaten and intimidate innocent people so they will get money in any way they can. Very often, the con artists threaten the elderly and immigrants with deportation, arrest or the revocation of their driver’s license if they refuse to pay. 

In addition, you may be harassed with phone calls, callback requests, and automated calls that repeat the same information. In certain instances you may receive an email with a fake IRS notification that asks you to reply to a fake phone number or an email address masked to look like an official IRS contact.  This is done by manipulating the caller ID as to make it look like the IRS is trying to reach you. 

The con artists continue by changing their names, using fake IRS job titles and forged badge numbers in order to appear legitimate.  Attempts are made to retrieve your personal information, such as your full name, home address, as well as other various information to sound official.
There are also tax scams that use email and mail in which what looks like official IRS letterhead is forged to imitate IRS correspondence.  The innocent victims are sent the letter or email and are expected to send money to an actual IRS address that the con artists sets up in order to make the scheme look official.

These types of scams are costly and end up costing victims more than $20 million. Since October 2013, approximately 600,000 scams occurred with 4,000 innocent victims reporting that they had financial losses of over $20 million.
We are here to remind you that the IRS will never phone you request immediate payment for delinquent taxes. In fact, the IRS will first send a bill in the mail.

By chance, if you believe that you owe taxes to the IRS, then call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040 to determine if you have any payments that are delinquent.

We are the Strategic Tax Lawyers, LLP and we can assist you with your tax problems.  We are professional business tax attorneys, IRS levy attorneys, and audit tax attorneys with years of experience in tax-related and IRS issues.  Call the Strategic Tax Lawyers at (800) 669-4775 for a free consultation to assist you with your tax-related matters.