Ignorance of the Law is a legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because he or she was unaware of its content. Every citizen is made aware of this principle from an early age. It applies to all laws including minor civil offenses to the most heinous criminal offenses as well as tax evasion and fraud laws. Read more
Archive for Barry Fowler
The Erin Andrews case has made headline news for months. As the case draws nearer to a close with double-digit million dollar settlement figures being bandied about, taxpayers can learn a few lessons about how in most litigation settlements the IRS gets the biggest cut of all. Between the attorneys’ fees and the IRS tax bill, Ms. Andrews is likely to see little financial gain for the violation of her privacy and for the humiliation she suffered. Read more
Just two weeks after the January 19th start of Tax Season, on Wednesday, February 3rd, the IRS experienced an alleged “hardware failure” that according to USAToday.com, “knocked some of the tax agency’s computers out of service.” With all the troubles the IRS is already facing, this latest snafu just adds more fuel to the overwhelming frustration most taxpayers feel with this government institution.
As of February 4th, the day the USA Today article was posted, Read more
Donald Trump has yet to release his tax returns. Though he has admitted to being audited consistently for the past 10 years or so. And according to a recent Forbes article, even the IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is weighing in on Trump’s failure to release his taxes acknowledging that it’s okay to release his returns during an audit. Read more
Tracing Excess Debt
One of the current IRS audit initiatives is checking to see if taxpayers are deducting too much home equity debt interest. Generally, taxpayers are allowed to deduct the interest on up to $1 million of home acquisition debt (includes subsequent debt incurred to make improvements, but not repairs) and the interest on up to $100,000 of home equity debt. Read more
Thieves use taxpayers’ natural fear of the IRS and other government entities to ply their scams, including e-mail and phone scams, to steal your money. They also use phishing schemes to trick you into divulging your SSN, date of birth, account numbers, passwords and other personal data that allow them to scam the IRS and others using your name and destroy your credit in the process. They are clever and are always coming up with new and unique schemes to trick you.
These scams have reached epidemic proportions, and this article will hopefully provide you with the knowledge to identify scams and avoid becoming a victim.
The very first thing you should be aware of is that the IRS never initiates contact in any other way than by U.S. mail. So if you receive an e-mail or a phone call out of the blue with no prior contact, then it is a scam. DO NOT RESPOND to the e-mail or open any links included in the e-mail. If it is a phone call, simply HANG UP.
Additionally, it is important for taxpayers to know that the IRS:
Individual Due Dates
January 4 – Time to Call For Your Tax Appointment –
January is the beginning of tax season. If you have not made an appointment to have your taxes prepared, we encourage you do so before the calendar becomes too crowded.
January 11 – Report Tips to Employer –
If you are an employee who works for tips and received more than $20 in tips during December, you are required to report them to your employer on IRS Form 4070 no later than January 11.
January 15 – Individual Estimated Tax Payment Due –
It’s time to make your fourth quarter estimated tax installment payment for the 2015 tax year.
When Benjamin Franklin said that nothing is certain but death and taxes, he managed to name two of the things that people loathe and fear the most. One of the things that makes taxes so unpleasant is obviously the fact that you have to hand over some of your hard-earned money to the government, and the other is that it can be so difficult to figure out how to fill out the forms – and which one to use.
The rule of thumb for choosing your personal income tax form is to try to go with the one that is easiest to understand, but that being said, you also need to be sure that it is the one that is correct. The government provides three forms – the 1040, the 1040A, and the 1040EZ – and all are meant to help you pay the amount that you owe. But each form has a different purpose, and if you choose the wrong one, it can end up meaning that you either pay more than you owe or end up having to pay fines for not paying enough. Read more
The tax provision that allows taxpayers to convert a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA is a great tax-planning tool when used properly, and timing is everything.
To make a conversion, you must pay income taxes on the amount of the traditional IRA converted to a Roth IRA. So why would one want to do that? Well, the answer is that Roth IRAs enjoy tax-free accumulation and distributions, whereas the earnings in and contributions made to a traditional IRA are fully taxable whenever they are withdrawn. (An exception is if the contributions to the traditional IRA were treated as non-deductible. In that case, each distribution is nontaxable or partly nontaxable if only some of the contributions had not been deducted.)
So, you might consider converting during a year in which your income is abnormally low or a year in which your Read more
As the 2015 tax season approaches, you may be getting excited about your potential tax refund.
However, that excitement may be premature if you have outstanding federal or state debts. The Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) issues federal tax refunds, and Congress authorizes BFS to reduce your refund through its Treasury Offset Program (TOP) to pay:
• Past-due child and parent support;
• Federal agency non-tax debts; Read more
When an employer withholds Social Security and income taxes from an employee, those funds are the property of the government, and the employer must hold those funds in “trust” until the funds are turned over to the government. Failure to do so could lead to the so-called trust fund penalty, which is equal to 100% of the withholding from the employees’ wages. The penalty applies to any willful failure to collect, account for and pay over Social Security and income taxes required to be withheld from employee wages.
A recent report issued by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has made recommendations to the IRS for timely assessing and collecting the responsible person penalty, and the IRS is adopting the recommendations. The government has always been very aggressive about collecting trust fund Read more
A frequent question that arises is whether legal expenses are deductible. The answer to that question can be both yes and no and can be complicated depending upon the nature of the legal expense.
The Internal Revenue Code (IRC), which is the body of tax laws written by the United States (U.S.) Congress and approved by the president in office at the time the law is created, tells us that except as otherwise expressly provided, such as itemized deductions, no deduction shall be allowed for personal, living, or family expenses. The IRC also says that, in the case of an individual, deductions are allowed for all of the ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred during the taxable year:
• For the production or collection of taxable income; Read more