7 Deadly Tax Sins
When it comes to the IRS, some bad acts are worse than others. We have compiled below the top ones to avoid at all costs. However, if you should find yourself in the middle of one, you should certainly call tax attorneys to get you out of the bad situation (yes, it is a bad situation).
In an effort to combat offshore tax evasion, the United States and Singapore have pledged to negotiate and sign by the end of 2016 a tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) and a FATCA intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that provides for the reciprocal automatic exchange of financial account tax information.
The U.S. and Singapore governments issued a joint statement promising cooperation on tax issues affecting both nations. The intergovernmental agreement would provide for the reciprocal automatic exchange of information with respect to certain financial accounts under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). The two countries are to complete negotiations and sign the agreements by the end of 2017.
The U.S. taxes its citizens on all income, regardless of where they live and earn this income. With the impending presidential election, the notion of some citizens renouncing their citizenship and moving abroad to some place like Canada based upon the result regularly appears in mainstream and social media.
The Immigration and Nationality Act provides the details regarding U.S. citizens and their right to voluntarily renounce U.S. citizenship. But renouncing American citizenship is a serious matter as signing an oath of renunciation is an irrevocable act for anyone over the age of 18. The number of expatriates that renounced their citizenship in 2015 was eighteen times as many Americans that renounced their citizenship in 2008, which broke a record for the third year in a row.
Taxpayers that retire with unpaid tax debt seemingly face a grim retirement because of the thought that assets reserved and necessary for retirement will be taken by the IRS. Here is the first part of our blog on what retired taxpayers may expect in dealing with the IRS regarding certain assets such as retirement accounts.
While the IRS uses the mitigation provisions of I.R.C. §§ 1311-1314 to reopen a taxpayer’s closed tax year and assesses tax deficiencies, it hardly facilitates taxpayers in using these provisions in similar fashion when seeking a refund from a closed year. Nonetheless, Congress intended that the mitigation provisions ensure that if certain prerequisites are met, either the government or the taxpayer may secure appropriate relief.
The mitigation provisions of I.R.C. §§ 1311-1314 provide a form of statutory relief and apply in certain limited circumstances to claims that are otherwise barred by operation of law or any rule of law like the statute of limitations. The goal of the mitigation provisions is to place the parties in the position they would have been in if the tax item(s) had been properly treated.
In the first week of May, 2016, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced several actions to strengthen financial transparency and combat the misuse of companies to engage in illicit activities. Treasury announced a Customer Due Diligence (CDD) Final Rule, proposed Beneficial Ownership legislation, and proposed regulations related to foreign-owned, single-member limited liability companies (LLCs). Together, these efforts target key points of access to the international financial system – when companies open accounts at financial institutions, when companies are formed or when company ownership is transferred, and when foreign-owned U.S. companies seek to evade their taxes.
People typically think that the amount of their income is the biggest red flag that attracts an IRS auditor, and they would probably be right. But what are some of the other items on a tax return that may attract their attention? Some say that simple, plain returns are fairly safe and likely to avoid extended scrutiny by IRS auditors. According to the IRS, there are multiple ways a return may end up audited, here are some examples:
Do you live abroad? Do you own an asset or bank or investment account that had an accumulated value or total exceeding $10,000 at any time in 2015 (or any year)? If so, you are required to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Reports (FBAR). Thus, if an asset was valued at, or an account totaled, $10,001 for just one day, an FBAR is due and must be filed. The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) received a record high 1,163,229 FBARs in 2015. What is surprising is that FinCen data shows that FBAR filings have grown an average of 17 percent per year during the last five years. Over 90,000 taxpayers filed FBARs in 2015.
When married taxpayers file jointly, which is often done because of certain benefits available to couples filing jointly, both taxpayers are jointly and severally liable for the tax and any additions to tax, interest, or penalties that arise from the joint return, even if their marriage is later dissolved. Joint and several liability means that each taxpayer is legally responsible for the entire liability.
Thus, both spouses on a married filing jointly return are generally held responsible for all the tax due even if one spouse earned all the income or erroneously claimed deductions. This is true notwithstanding the provisions of a divorce decree regarding a former spouse’s responsibility for any taxes due on previously filed joint returns. However, in rare cases, a spouse may obtain relief from joint and several liability.
“Like moths to a flame, some people find themselves irresistibly drawn to the tax protester movement’s illusory claim that there is no legal requirement to pay federal income tax. And, like moths, these people sometimes get burned.” United States v. Sloan, 939 F.2d 499, 499-500 (7th Cir. 1991).
As long as the federal income tax has been with us, taxpayers have tried to argue that income taxes don’t legally apply to them. The reasons and bases for these arguments usually include the voluntary nature of the federal income tax system, the meaning of income, and the meaning of certain terms contained in the Interenal Revenue Code. Taxpayers hanging their hats on frivolous positions risk a variety of civil and criminal penalties for tax evasion and tax fraud . And taxpayers that adopt these frivolous positions may face more severe consequences than those who only promote them.