Tag Archive for ask tax questions

Portable Toilets – What’s The True Object of The Transaction?

TaxConnections Picture - Portable Toilets - square

It never ceases to amaze me, the wide variety of companies that state agencies attempt to extort money from. Most states impose a sales tax on the sale or rental of tangible personal property. But what happens when the sale is part tangible personal property, part service (“known to the sales and use tax attorney as a “mixed transaction”)? Is the entire transaction subject to tax? Many states take the incredibly helpful, “it depends” approach and look to an even more helpful “object of the transaction” test. In reality, it truly seems like state agencies and courts reach a conclusion and fill in the reasons later.

By way of brief background, since the mid-1900’s, when states enacted their first versions of a sales tax, many courts created this “object of the transaction” test. The test attempted to formulate what the customer was really buying, product vs service. If it was a service Read more

Prudence And Caution: The Antidote To The Hazards of Certifying Nonwillfulness Under The Streamlined Procedures

TaxConnections Picture - Audit in Hand 1 - square

Back on August 13, 2014, the IRS issued an update of the Internal Revenue Manual that sheds some light on what type of submissions might be ripe for audit under the streamlined procedures. For those unfamiliar with the Internal Revenue Manual, it is the “official source of instructions to IRS personnel relating to the organization, administration, and operation of the IRS.”[i] It contains instructions that IRS employees rely upon to carry out their responsibilities, such as procedures for processing and examining tax returns.

The most critical aspect of the update is an instruction that requires submissions containing five or more foreign information returns to be referred for examination.

9. To complete adjustments on Form 1040X filed under the SDO: Read more

Play Ball With The Government Or Else: Marian Morgan Learns Her Lesson The Hard Way

TaxConnections Picture - Woman Behind Bars 1 - square

Marian Morgan would not play ball with the U.S. government, and she paid dearly for that decision – a 405-month (almost 34-year) prison sentence. Her codefendants both wound up with very different fates.

Marian Morgan and her husband, John Morgan, ran a Ponzi scheme in Sarasota, Florida, called “Morgan European Holdings,” scamming people out of millions of dollars. They were indicted along with two others, but on more serious charges: one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, seven counts of wire fraud, five counts of transfer of funds taken by fraud, six counts of money laundering, and three counts of falsifying income tax returns. Read more

Damages: Deductible?


It’s a fact of life that businesses get sued. Even if they win, there are legal and related fees. What if they lose and have to pay compensatory and perhaps also punitive damages? Perhaps also some fines to the government? What is deductible for tax purposes? A recent case from the First Circuit Court dealt with an action involving the False Claims Act with total damages of just over $486 million!

I had a blog post (9/02/14) about this case a few weeks ago, noting the challenging vocabulary used by the judge and a few quotes from Shakespeare he included.

This topic also raises an important consideration for tax reform purposes. Should any of these damages be tax deductible? Arguably, compensatory damages (for making the Read more

Bonus Depreciation Allowance Legislation And The CRS Report: Labor Resource Allocation And Tax Policy Issues

TaxConnections Picture - Reports 2 - square


Controversies surrounding depreciation allowance legislation pending in the 113th Congress involve labor resource allocation control decentralization tax policy issues. The Obama administration’s current section 530 attacks, vindicated through state unemployment agencies, manifest its policy focus on the labor resource reallocation control centralization controversy. Those states that have entered into a “Memorandum of Understanding” involving worker misclassification with the IRS and Department of Labor have inherently sided with the Obama administration in favoring labor resource allocation control centralization. Such control centralization, which now turns its focus to depreciation allowances, coalesces important factors underpinning success of the Affordable Care Act. Read more

Bank Leumi Faces $300 Million Settlement Option To Close Investigation Regarding Aiding Americans To Evade Taxes

TaxConnections Picture - Banks on Spotlight 3 - square

We previously posted “IRS Continues Cracks Down on Undeclared Israeli Bank Accounts!” where we discussed our prior posts about US taxpayers with undeclared income from Israeli Bank Accounts.

Now according to’s article entitled Bank Leumi Said to Face $300 Million Demand in Tax Case, the New York’s banking regulator will ask for more than $300 million to settle an investigation into whether Bank Leumi Le-Israel (LUMI) BM helped Americans evade taxes, a person familiar with the matter said.

Benjamin Lawsky, head of the state’s Department of Financial Services, is seeking more than what the bank set aside to resolve a separate criminal investigation by the U.S. Read more

Treasury And IRS Issue Proposed Regulations On Disguised Sales And Partnership Liability Allocations

U.S.Treasury To Insure Money Market Mutual Funds

On January 30, 2014, Treasury and the IRS issued Proposed Regulations with respect to the disguised sale rules and the rules for allocating partnership liabilities (REG-119305-11). A major driving force behind these Proposed Regulations was the IRS’s victory in Canal Corporation and Subsidiaries, formerly Chesapeake Corporation and Subsidiaries v. Commissioner, 135 T.C. No. 9. (2010). In Canal, the Tax Court shot down a leveraged partnership structure by concluding that the contributing partner did not have a payment obligation with respect to the partner’s indemnity in large part because the terms of the indemnity were not commercially reasonable. Read more

Trick or Treat: The IRS Releases New Administrative Authority Governing 2015 Tax Rate and Deduction Levels

Spooky Halloween background

The Internal Revenue Service (hereinafter the “Service”) released today new administrative authority for calendar year 2015 within Revenue Procedure 2014-61 that makes adjustments to more than 40 tax provisions, including the tax rate schedules, deduction levels, and many other tax provisions. It should be duly noted that Revenue Procedure 2014-61, is scheduled to be published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin 2014-47 on Monday, November 17, 2014 and can be cited here.

The primary adjustments included within this new administrative authority include, but are certainly not limited to:

• The tax rate of 39.6% affects singles whose income exceeds $413,200 (i.e., $464,850 for Read more

How To Make Your Clothing, Uniforms and Costumes Tax Deductible

TaxConnections Picture - Halloween - Ghosts - square

Now when I think of Halloween, I look forward to seeing all of the different costumes that people wear. Some are very extravagant and I am sure pricey. And for some they would like to know how that can be deductible. Since costumes fall under the category of clothing or uniforms, you need to be aware of what the tax law requires.

The tax law requires the following three elements for clothing useful only in the business environment to be deductible:

1. The clothing is required or essential in the taxpayer’s employment;

2. The clothing is not suitable for general or personal wear; and Read more

The Unknown Tax Comic – Halloween Edition

TaxConnections Picture - The Unknown Tax Comic 5 - square

♦ It’s Halloween and when the man answers his door, there’s a well-dressed young boy there wearing a suit and matching tie, who says “Trick or treat”. The man’s a bit confused so he asks the boy what he’s dressed up as. “I’m an IRS agent”, says the boy, and with that, he snatches 40% of the candy, and leaves without saying thank you.

♦ Tax Accountant to his trick or treating child:

“If I’m going to take you all over the neighborhood begging for candy, then yes, I’m going to take half… it’s called a “Candy Tax”.

♦ Tax Payer to the Grim Reaper: Read more

Swiss Banks Unite And Fire Back At The Department of Justice

TaxConnections Picture - Swiss Bank Vault 2 - square

Neutrality is Switzerland’s unwritten motto. This devotion to conflict avoidance kept the Swiss out of two World Wars. The Swiss are known for their diplomacy, hospitality, and the ability to keep a secret. So, it came as a shock when 73 Swiss banks joined ranks to inform the U.S. Department of Justice and the IRS, politely but firmly, that they would not be signing a proposed amnesty deal under FATCA.

The Basic Facts of FATCA

In March of 2010, the Department of Justice and the IRS were given a new enforcement weapon. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) has three primary objectives regarding foreign financial institutions: Read more

What Is The Best Business Structure To Form? If Any…

businessman looking to horizont

What I love most about Colorado, more than the 300+ days of sun every year and the glorious rocky mountains, are the people. For the most Coloradans are risk taking job creators, starting new businesses from scratch out of their garages and turning passions for a hobby into a business with a profit motive.

Of course I surround myself with these people that live and play outside their comfort zone and quite often I am asked about the nuanced tax law implications of starting a new business. Specifically what might be the most appropriate business structure to form, if any, so I’ve decided to draft a post about this topic for general edification. Hopefully you find these words helpful. Read more