Posts Tagged ‘Russ Fox’

Tax Roundup, 3/23/16: “Section 6103 was enacted to protect taxpayers from the IRS, not the IRS from taxpayers.” And more!

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016 by Joe Kristan

norcal logoNo Scandal here. The IRS has long history of hiding behind taxpayer confidentiality rules to avoid accountability. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals called the IRS on this yesterday in a harshly-worded opinion.

The case arose from the Tea Party scandal. NorCal Tea Party Patriots sued the IRS after the scandal emerged. The IRS has used every trick in the book to drag out the case, citing the “confidentiality” of the very taxpayers it abused. From the Sixth Circuit opinion (my emphasis):

The IRS argues that the “names and other identifying information of” organizations that apply for tax-exempt status — along with the applications themselves — are confidential “return information” under 26 U.S.C. § 6103. IRS Petition at 2, 16. The IRS argues further that the district court lacked authority to order disclosure of those names under a statutory provision for disclosure in judicial proceedings where “the treatment of an item reflected on such return is directly related to the resolution of an issue in the proceeding[.]” 26 U.S.C. § 6103(h)(4)(B). The IRS contends that the district court’s discovery orders threaten to undermine statutory protections for taxpayer privacy, and that a writ of mandamus is therefore appropriate.

A “writ of mandamus” is “an extraordinary remedy reserved to correct only the clearest abuses of power by a district court.” The Sixth Circuit wasn’t buying. They reviewed the IRS foot-dragging:

To that end, the plaintiffs sought discovery in the form of basic information relevant to class certification, including the names of IRS employees who reviewed the groups’ applications for tax-exempt status and the number of applications from similar groups that had been granted, denied, withdrawn, or were still pending. On the record before us here, the IRS’s response has been one of continuous resistance. For example, the IRS asserted that the names of IRS employees who worked on the groups’ applications were taxpayer “return information” protected from disclosure by § 6103. The IRS eventually abandoned that position, but argued instead that § 6103 barred the Department of Justice’s attorneys from even reviewing the groups’ application files to find the names of the IRS employees who worked on them. That was true, the IRS asserted, even though § 6103(h)(2) — entitled “Department of Justice” — expressly allows the Department’s attorneys to review a taxpayer’s return information to the extent the taxpayer “is or may be a party to” a judicial proceeding. See 26 U.S.C. § 6103(h)(2)(A). The IRS further objected — this, in a case where the IRS forced the lead plaintiff to produce 3,000 pages of what the Inspector General called “unnecessary information” — that “it would be unduly burdensome” for the IRS to collect the names of the employees who worked on the groups’ applications. The district court eventually intervened and declared the IRS’s objections meritless. Yet the IRS objected to still other document requests on grounds of “the deliberative process privilege[.]” That privilege, the IRS acknowledged, can be waived in cases involving “government misconduct”; but in the IRS’s reading, the IG’s report “does not include any allegation or finding of misconduct.”

Many taxpayers and preparers wish the IRS would use such a generous definition of “misconduct” when the criminal agents come calling.

The Sixth Circuit rejected all of the IRS arguments:

Section 6103 was enacted to protect taxpayers from the IRS, not the IRS from taxpayers.

Words that should be chiseled over the entrance to IRS headquarters.

Cite: United States v. NorCal Tea Party Patriots et al.; CA-6, No. 15-3793.

More coverage:

TaxProf, IRS Scandal, Day 1049:  6th Circuit Slams IRS Treatment Of Tea Party Group

Russ Fox, A Bad Day for the IRS in Court

 

Scott Drenkard,New Study on Electronic Cigarettes Released Today (Tax Policy Blog):

To some, vapor products are an exciting innovation that offers a new, less harmful alternative to traditional incinerated cigarette use. By contrast, tobacco control groups are concerned about youth use of the products.

Meanwhile, politicians are concerned about losing their sweet tobacco revenues if people stop gassing themselves with the real thing. Hence the moral panic.

This map is in the study:

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“Vapor products are generally found to have a much lower risk profile than traditional incinerated cigarettes.”

 

Paul Neiffer, Expanded Cost Basis Reporting is Here! Are you Ready? “The Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2015 (those two don’t really go together) added new tax laws that require executors to file cost basis information with the IRS.  This is required only when there is a taxable estate.”

Kay Bell, IRS releases Top 10 identity theft, tax fraud cases. 2015 only. 

Jack Townsend, IRS Publicizes Success in Prosecuting Identity Theft Refund Fraud

The IRS’s message from the selected 10 examples is that identify theft is serious and draws serious sentencings, with the principals involved receiving over 70 months (some well in excess of 100 months) incarceration (persons with lesser roles receive lesser, but still significant sentences).

That’s appropriate, but it’s not enough. Even though the thieves highlighted by the IRS report will rot for a long time, the millions they have stolen aren’t coming back. The petty grifters hightlighted in the report are probably not the type of folks who carefully weigh consequences when they can get free money right now. Nor will long sentences aren’t going to bother Russian organized crime networks, who have no intention, and little prospect, of facing U.S. justice.

Improved IRS processes that stop the crimes before they happen are what’s needed.

 

William Perez, How Much Can You Deduct by Contributing to a Traditional IRA? “Updated for 2016 contribution limits.”

Leslie Book, Filing a Day Late Can Be Timely Under Tax Court E-Filing Rules and So is Filing an Income Tax Return Ten Days Later After E-File Rejection. Good to know.

Robert Wood, Does Extending April 15 Deadline Increase Odds Of IRS Audit?. “It is worth saying it again: there is no increased audit risk to going on extension.” But there is definitely an increased risk if you mess up a return by doing it hastily, or by leaving off a late-arriving K-1.

Tony Nitti, Tax Geek Tuesday: Death Or Retirement Of A Partner In A Partnership. “Importantly, when a partner’s interest is to be liquidated by a series of distributions, the interest will not be considered liquidated until the final distribution has been made.”

 

TaxGrrrl, How To Survive Tax Season (Or Any Busy Work Day) In 10 Easy Steps.

Peter Reilly, IRS Bounty Hunters Should Not Waste Time On FBAR Penalties. In too many cases, that’s true of the IRS too.

 

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Donald Marron, Britain Builds a Better Soda Tax (TaxVox). Better at stupid is still stupid.

Annette Nellen, Taxing Candy and Snacks – That’s a Good Start. At meddling in places where the government has no business.

 

Career CornerAccounting Talent Demanding Everything Shy of the Moon, Your First Born (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern). “If I may speak for myself and many, many other people, I’d be “history” after a few days of being treated like family. The nagging questions, the guilt, the constant phone calls, the passive aggressive suggestions about marriage/kids/life direction/bad habits.”

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Tax Roundup, 3/15/16: Deadline Day, Coupling Vote Day. And: Arnold Palmer’s worst golf partner goes to Tax Court. (Updates)

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

coupling20160129Coupling day in the General Assembly. The bills to couple Iowa’s 2015 tax law with federal 2015 tax changes (HF 2433 and SF 2303) are scheduled for debate today in the Iowa House and Senate. I expect them to pass easily. The Governor is on vacation in Florida, but GlobeGazette.com reports that he “is expected to return to Iowa later this week” and sign the bill. We will update this post if and when the votes come down.

Update, 3:40 p.m.: The Senate passes the House bill without amendment, 50-0. On to the Governor.

Update, 1:09 p.m.: A glitch? The Iowa Society of CPAs twitter feed reports:

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I know nothing more, but if they approve an amended version, it has to go back to the House for a re-vote. I’ll monitor and update if I learn more.

Update, 10:26 am: coupling bill HF 2433 passes Iowa House, 78-17. On to Senate later today.

 

Deadline day! Corporation returns are due today. Also due are two key international tax forms, for trusts and withholding on interest, dividend and other non-business income paid to foreign taxpayers. Russ Fox has more on that.

e-file logoTake care to document that you are filing your returns or extensions timely. E-file is best if you can, as you have no worries about mail truck mishaps. If you file on paper, Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, is the tried-and-true way to prove you filed your returns on time.

If you don’t get to the post office on time, you can file up until midnight at the UPS Store or Fed-ex store, but be careful. Make sure you use one of the IRS-approved shipping services (for example, UPS Ground doesn’t qualify, but “Next-Day Air does). Make sure that you shipping slip has a pre-midnight time stamp. And you have to use the street addresses of the IRS service centers, rather than their P.O. boxes.

Related: William Perez, How to Mail Tax Returns to the Internal Revenue Service

 

(also see [1]). Direct image URL [2], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2199960

By U.S. Coast Guard – U.S. Coast Guard historical photo

Worst Golf Partner Ever. Arnold Palmer, the famous golfer, did less well in the auto business, thanks to a partner involved in a Tax Court case released yesterday. The companies, BOH and APAG, were funded in part by Mr. Palmer. Judge Nega sets the stage:

Petitioner began siphoning money from Arnold Palmer Motors, Inc., as early as October 1985. When one dealership ran short on cash, petitioner transferred money from another dealership to cover the shortfall. Rather than transferring funds directly between dealership accounts, petitioner routed transfers through his personal bank account. Petitioner routinely kept some of the transferred funds in his own account instead of transferring them to the appropriate dealership. Messrs. Palmer and McCormack did not authorize petitioner to take money from the dealerships.

The bad partner diversified into stealing from other S corporations funded by Mr. Palmer and others, but in which he held a 1/3 interest. After some time he was caught, and the tax man came calling.

The taxpayer took a bold tax return position. You need basis in an S corporation to take losses. Loans you make to an S corporation can create basis for taking losses. The taxpayer said that he made loans to the corporations he was stealing from, giving him basis.

The Tax Court found this improbable (my emphasis):

The record contains no evidence reliably establishing petitioners’ bases, if any, in the Arnold Palmer dealerships or their entitlement to NOLs arising therefrom. Petitioners have not provided any Forms 1120S, U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation, or Forms 1065, Schedule K-1, Partner’s Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc., for any of the Arnold Palmer dealerships in which petitioner was a one-third shareholder. They contend that he contributed “significant funds” to the dealerships but do not identify any specific dollar amounts contributed. In contrast, the record reflects that petitioners misappropriated amounts in excess of $6 million from the Arnold Palmer dealerships during the late 1980s which they did not report on their 1988 or 1989 income tax return.

As you may guess, the Tax Court ruled against the taxpayer, big time, with 75% civil fraud penalties.

I assume, dear reader, that you aren’t stealing from your employer. If you are, you should be reading another tax blog. But even non-thief readers can draw a lesson. You need basis to take an S corporation loss, and you need the records to show it. The taxpayer here was claiming losses from net operating loss carryforwards created by alleged S corporation losses. He failed to provide sufficient records from the loss years to convince the Tax Court.

The Moral? If you are claiming loss carryforwards, you need to preserve the tax records for the years in which the losses arise, and all intervening years, to document your right to the losses. That’s true even though the statute for limitations for the loss years has expired. Net operating losses carry forward for 20 years. That means you may need to maintain the records for the loss years for 23 years — and for all of the years in between — if you take 20 years to use them up.

Cite: O’Neal, Jr., T.C. Memo 2016-49.

 

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TaxGrrrl, IRS Alerts Taxpayers To New Tax Season Related Phone Scam:

Here’s how the new scam works. The scammer calls you and says that are with the IRS and have your tax return. They then say they need to verify some information to process your return. Those details generally involve asking for your personal information such as a Social Security number or personal financial information, such as bank numbers or credit cards.

To make the scam appear legitimate, scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another government agency is calling. The callers may refer to IRS titles, fake names and fake badge numbers. They may know your name, address and other personal information that they offer to make the call sound official.

Be careful, and remember: if the caller says he’s from the IRS, he’s lying.

 

Peter Reilly, Sales Tax Collection By Out Of State Vendors May End Up At Supreme Court Again. “The reporting requirements may have created a situation illustrative of Reilly’s Second Law of Tax Planning – Sometimes it’s better to just pay the taxes.”

David Vendler, Can a Receiver Take Advantage of the Claim of Right Provisions to Benefit Defrauded Consumers? (Procedurally Taxing)

Paul Neiffer, When Not To Take A Discount? “When a farmer has a taxable estate, we usually try to obtain a discount by splitting up land ownership into “fractional” ownership.”

Kay Bell, How long are you willing to wait for your tax refund? I.D. theft has forced tax agencies to slow down refunds to keep them from going to thieves.

 

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TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1041.

J.D. Tucille, Poor Americans Will Be Stuck With the Tab for Bernie Sanders’ Generous Promises (Reason.com). “At the end of the day, grandiose promises of massive government programs are cheap. But paying for them has a high price tag—and it will be shouldered by those with the fewest means to afford the cost.” In other words, the rich guy isn’t picking up the tab, because he can’t.

Kyle Pomerleau, It Was Not A Good Week For The Patent Box (Tax Policy Blog):

A patent box, or “innovation box,” is a tax policy that provides a lower tax rate on income related to intellectual property. The stated goal of a patent box is to promote research and development, encourage companies to locate intellectual property in the country with the incentive, and to make a country’s tax code more internationally competitive.

Just as the research credit is an incentive to call more of what you do “research,” the patent box would end up broadening the definition of intellectual property income. The only innovation it would generate would be on the part of the same sort of specialty companies that make their living doing research credit studies.

Renu Zaretsky, Only Thirty-three days till Tax Day! Today’s TaxVox headline roundup covers tax refund statistics so far this season and the hiring by H&R Block of a former senator as a lobbyist for increasing barriers to competition and H&R Block profits through regulation of (other) tax preparers.

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Tax Roundup, 3/9/16: A College Savings Iowa contribution today can reduce 2015 Iowa tax. And: Shoot more jaywalkers!

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

csi logoYou can still make a College Savings Iowa 2015 contribution. While Section 529 plans provide tax-free earnings for college for taxpayers in all states, Iowans can get an extra tax break for them. 2015 contributions to College Savings Iowa or Iowa Advisor Sec. 529 plans can generate a deduction on Iowa state 1040s up to $3,163 per donee.

For the first time, Iowans can make their 2015 contributions as late as the April 30, 2016 due date of their 2015 tax return. In prior years you had to make the contribution by December 31 to get the deduction.

The $3,163 limit is per donee, per donor. That means a couple with 2 children can get four full deductions for 2015 529 contributions totaling up to $12,652. For a couple at the 8.98% top Iowa rate, that’s a savings of $1,136 on their Iowa return.

This is another of our occasional series of 2016 filing season tips. Collect them all!

 

Jack Townsend, Report on Remarks of AAG Tax and Practitioner Regarding Nonwillfulness and Foreign Account Enablers:

Ciraolo and Bryan Skarlatos questioned whether foreign account holders can remain nonwillful about foreign account reporting obligations at this stage.  The article quotes from her prepared comments (linked above) as follows:

After three very well-publicized voluntary disclosure programs, nearly 200 criminal prosecutions, ongoing criminal investigations and the increasing assessment and enforcement of substantial civil penalties for failure to report foreign financial accounts, a taxpayer’s claims of ignorance or lack of willfulness in failing to comply with disclosure and reporting obligations are, quite simply, neither credible nor well-received. 

This is so wrong. Something that is a big deal in the IRS enforcement bureaucracy can be invisible to a person going about their business, maybe taking a temporary position overseas or getting a U.S. green card.

People get in IRS trouble for having an interest in a foreign account they aren’t even aware of. One practitioner I know had to deal with an immigrant from India who paid thousands of dollars in penalties for not reporting an interest in a foreign bank account that her parents back home put her name on as a joint owner without her knowledge, and without her receiving any income from it. Others find themselves in hot water after get an inheritance overseas that they don’t learn about until after the reporting deadline.

The IRS remains clueless about how many people go through their daily financial lives without pondering whether there is an obscure form lurking to ruin them for non-compliance. The system is broken, but the only answer the enforcers have is to continue the beatings until morale improves.

 

20120906-1David Brunori speaks wisely: If You Need Tax Credits, You Shouldn’t Be in Business (Tax Analysts Blog)

Here’s what got me thinking. Iowa — no paradise when it comes to good tax policy — gave 186 companies tax credits worth more than $42 million last year. Those credits were handed out as an incentive to conduct research and development. There are other credits available for businesses. Oh, and the credits are refundable because, like with poor families receiving the earned income tax credit, R&D credits provide a critical safety net. All right, I’m being facetious.

Iowa’s biggest welfare recipient was technology company Rockwell Collins Inc., which received $12 million. Rockwell is a great company, but it has $5 billion in revenue. Giving money to Rockwell isn’t quite the same as giving money to a shoestring nonprofit feeding the homeless in Des Moines.

In all, 20 companies claimed more than $500,000 in R&D credits, including DuPont Co., Deere & Co., and Monsanto Co. I ask them, where is your pride? Do you really want a government handout?

For a full-throated defense of tax credit corporate welfare, today’s IowaBiz.com blogger, Brent Willett, offers Job creation fuel: R&D policy move is important for Iowa. Not surprisingly, the cost of paying these subsidies in increased taxes on less fortunate and less influential Iowa businesses never comes up. The “job creation” part is also weakly defended.

 

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Russ Fox, Online Gambling Addresses Updated for 2016. Russ performs a valuable service in gathering street addresses of offshore online gaming websites. Online gaming accounts at these sites are “foreign financial accounts” for FBAR purposes, and you need a street address to fill out Form 114. They can be hard to find. Hat’s off to Russ.

TaxGrrrl, Tax Season Proving Confusing (Again) For Taxpayers Affected By Obamacare

Kay Bell, Have you received your Obamacare coverage forms yet? “Recipients of the B or C versions want to hang onto these forms as verification that they did have ACA required coverage, which they tell the Internal Revenue Service about by checking the appropriate box on their 1040EZ, 1040A or long form 1040.”

Michelle Drumbl, The Automated Substitute for Return Procedures (Procedurally Taxing) “The ASFR assessment process takes into account all income reported as earned by the taxpayer, but it ignores reported items that would reduce taxable income.”

Robert Wood, Erin Andrews Wins $55M Peephole Verdict But Faces Heavy IRS Tax Hit

Jim Maule, Buying and Selling Dependency Exemptions for Tax Purposes. “It’s too bad Congress cannot be indicted, convicted, and punished for making a mess of the tax system, continuing to make it worse, and refusing to clean it up.”

 

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Annette Nellen, AICPA Advocacy on IRS Funding. It’s hard to see how the IRS gets more funding when it does such an awful job with the funding it has.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1035. “The IRS doesn’t know if its data backups are deleted or not created, and doesn’t test to ensure backups can be used if information is lost, even after a “significant” December 2014 incident, according to a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report.”

Alan Cole, Tax Policy Must Be Proportionate to Spending Policy (Tax Policy Blog). “This gets to the heart of one of the principles of good tax policy: your tax policy should actually be able to fund the government you want. One way or another, Donald Trump will have to assent to this principle.”

Elaine Maag, Complicated Families: Complicated Tax Returns (TaxVox):

The law is built on the idea that a child lives in a traditional family – married parents with only biologically related siblings. The tax unit it is presumed to include the adults supporting the child.

But increasingly, children live in arrangements that belie that traditional family; children move between homes of divorced or never-married parents in formal and informal custody arrangements; children live with unmarried, cohabiting parents; children live in multigenerational households. In short, children are supported by adults in multiple tax units.

But only one tax unit gets to claim the earned income credit for each child.

 

News from the Profession. Apparently Accountants Are Terrible on the Phone (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern).

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Tax Roundup, 3/8/16: Getting robbed, and again. And: IRS allows retroactive WOTC certification for 2015.

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

walnutstreet20160308It’s not enough to get robbed; you have to time it right. A “pump-and-dump” securities fraud victim claimed a theft loss deduction. The IRS said “yep, you were robbed.” But they also said that they didn’t time their robbery deduction properly, and therefore were out of luck. And, it turns out, they were.

Court of Federal Claims Judge Sweeney explains (my emphasis, citations and footnotes omitted):

There is no dispute that plaintiffs discovered the theft loss in 2002.31 And, neither plaintiffs nor defendant disputes that in 2002, there existed “a claim for reimbursement with respect to which there [was] a reasonable prospect of recovery Plaintiffs filed their arbitration claim against Donald & Co., Mr. Stetson, Mr. Volman, and Mr. Ingrassia in February 2002, and by the end of that year, they had neither sought to adjourn the proceedings nor withdrawn their claim. Accordingly, in light of the ongoing arbitration proceedings, plaintiffs could not claim a theft loss deduction in 2002. Instead, they were required to delay their deduction until the “year in which it [could] be ascertained with reasonable certainty whether or not” they would receive reimbursement of their losses from their arbitration claim. Plaintiffs determined that the proper year to claim their theft loss was 2004, and filed amended federal income tax returns reflecting the deduction. The IRS disallowed plaintiffs’ refund claim, and takes the position in this litigation that 2004 was not the proper year for plaintiffs to claim their theft loss deduction.

The court said the victims didn’t prove that they were entitled to the deduction:

Plaintiffs claim that they sustained the loss in 2004 because by the end of that year, they had no reasonable prospect of recovering on their arbitration claim. However, under the factual circumstances presented in this case, the test is not whether plaintiffs had a reasonable prospect of recovering on their arbitration claim in 2004, but is instead whether, in 2004, plaintiffs could have ascertained with reasonable certainty that they would not recover on their arbitration claim. To satisfy their burden under the latter test, plaintiffs were required to produce objective evidence that they abandoned their arbitration claim in 2004. They failed to do so. In the absence of such evidence, plaintiffs are not entitled to a theft loss deduction for the 2004 tax year.

The opinion doesn’t say whether the victims filed protective refund claims for subsequent years to preserve their refund rights. It would be another robbery if they were unable to get their theft loss deduction because they got the year right. The statute in such cases should allow taxpayers to recover in the proper year if the IRS successfully second-guesses the timing of a theft loss.

The Moral? If you are a fraud or theft victim, the timing of the loss deduction is very important. If the IRS disputes the loss on examination, be sure to file protective refund claims for open years to protect your rights.

Cite: Adkins, Ct. Fed. Claims No. 10-851T.

 

Speaking of getting robbed twice: IRS shuts down ID-thief assistance portal. A week after The Tax Foundation pointed out that the IRS IP-PIN online portal made identity theft victims vulnerable to being victimized a second time, the IRS has temporarily shut it down:

As part of its ongoing security review, the Internal Revenue Service temporarily suspended the Identity Protection PIN tool on IRS.gov. The IRS is conducting a further review of the application that allows taxpayers to retrieve their IP PINs online and is looking at further strengthening the security features on the tool.

Nothing to see here, move along.

 

Work Opportunity Credit guidance updated for retroactive 2015 credits. Congress re-enacted the expired Work Opportunity Tax Credit retroactively for 2015. To claim the credit for hiring certain classes of hard to employ workers, employers have to get the employee eligibility verified within 28 days. As this was impossible for an expired credit, the IRS yesterday gave employers until June 29 of this year to get the certification for 2015 hires (Notice 2016-22)

 

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Russ Fox, What Part of “Permanent Injunction” Didn’t You Understand? “Mr. Herrera is being held at ClubFed until he closes his business and complies with the injunction.” That should do it.

TaxGrrrl, Understanding Your Tax Forms 2016: 1099-B, Proceeds From Broker & Barter Exchange Transactions

William Perez, How to Mail Tax Returns to the Internal Revenue Service

Keith Fogg, Making Claims and Spending Refunds in Bankruptcy. “The 9th Circuit recently affirmed the district court opinion granting summary judgment to the IRS in a case brought by Mr. Stanley Burrell aka M C Hammer seeking to equitably estop the IRS from collecting on taxes for two years which it failed to include on the proof of claim in his bankruptcy case.”

Jack Townsend, Proposed FinCEN Rulemaking for Rules on FBAR Reporting for Financial Professionals

 

Tony Nitti, Would Hillary Clinton’s Tax Plan Kill The Incentive Stock Option?. Actually, AMT has done that pretty well already.

Robert Wood, President Hillary Won’t Cut Tax Deductions To Charities Like Clinton Foundation. Of course not.

Peter Reilly, Chasm Of Class And Privilege – Clinton Tax Plan Hits Top 1% – Sanders Plan Hits Top 5%. “What I find really interesting is the way in which the proposals reflect the difference in the Sanders and Clinton constituencies.”

Kay Bell, Trump is last holdout as Kasich releases tax returns

 

Jason Dinesen, 6 Things You Might Not Know About Enrolled Agents. “2. We Don’t Work for the IRS

 

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Renu Zaretsky, Budget Chaos, Tax Breaks, Loopholes, and Incentives. Today’s TaxVox headline roundup covers EU tax investigations of multinationals, IRS tax investigations of multinationals, and scoundrels “patriotic millionaires” against carried interests.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1034

Stuart Gibson, Competition Policy and Tax Policy in The Twilight Zone (Tax Analysts Blog). “From a tax perspective in the U.S. (and probably Europe), this is simply a garden-variety case of a taxpayer negotiating a good deal with a foreign tax authority. From a European competition perspective, the answer is a bit more complicated.”

 

News from the Profession. Why Accountants Suck at Marketing (Blake Oliver, Going Concern)

 

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Tax Roundup, 3/7/16: “Only” 25,000 Iowa filers hit by not coupling Sec. 179. And more late news!

Monday, March 7th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

Note: Our web server has been having a bad day, which is why this is “late” news.


coupling2016021325,000 to 8.
The Des Moines Register covered the Section 179 coupling controversy over the weekend, but missed a big part of the story:

The debate pits two conflicting priorities against each other.

On one hand is the legislature’s
desire to support small business owners and farmers who could use any extra money from the tax break to buy more equipment, make renovations or hire more employees.

On the other hand is the concern that Iowa needs to tighten its belt financially and focus on bolstering other priorities such as school funding, rather than giving away tax revenue.

What other priorities might there be for the $95 million or so “lost” to Section 179 besides school funding? How about this:

Iowa credits fy 2017

The Register article includes this item that attempts to show that Section 179 isn’t a big deal:

Only about 25,000 Iowa taxpayers in 2014 made a Section 179 claim of more than $25,000, according to numbers from the Iowa Department of Revenue. About 12,000 were farmers.

By comparison, the state Department of Revenue processed 1.58 million individual income tax returns for 2014.

“Only” 25,000? That works out to 252 businesses in every county that are seeing a tax increase to feed that $95 million to the Iowa treasury. Meanwhile, the state pays about $42 million in actual cash subsidies through the Iowa Research Activities Credit to a handful of businesses that each claim over $500,000 in credits. Of that, about $29.5 million goes to only eight taxpayers. 25,000 is a lot more than 8.

With its focus on spending, the Register story misses a huge point: the Iowa income tax favors well-connected insiders who know how to play the tax credit game, to the detriment of the 25,000 smaller businesses that would benefit from Section 179 coupling. Rather than remedying the inherently corrupt tax credit game, the state is giving out more special interest credits left and right.

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TaxGrrrl, Understanding Your Tax Forms 2016: SSA-1099, Social Security Benefits

Peter Reilly,How Much Personal Use Of Airplane Is Too Much For Tax Free Exchange? “One of the tricky things about 1031 is the ‘trade or business or held for investment requirement’ – let’s call it the ‘held for’ requirement for short.”

Kay BellIRS ‘Future State’ plans and service, security concerns “The IRS is working on what it calls its Future State plan, an outline of agency activities in five years and beyond. One of the plan’s central components is online taxpayer accounts.”

Jim Maule, What Gets Taxed If the Goal Is Health Improvement? Trick question. The goal is moral preening and revenue-raising, not public health.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1031, 1032, 1033. Day 1032 covers the bizarre award given to awful Commissioner Koskinen: “IRS Chief John Koskinen Honored With an Award For ‘Excellence in Public Service’. Yes, That Guy. Yes, Really.”

Russ Fox, Koskinen Wins Public Service Award; Chaffetz Gets It Right:

I have to ask the NAPA: What were you thinking? Yes, Mr. Koskinen has served for many years, and he may have generosity of spirit. But as Congressman Jason Chaffetz said, “If obstructing a congressional investigation and misleading Congress merits an award, then it seems like they have the right guy. I guess I define excellent public service differently.”

In fairness, I think he’s doing exactly what the man who appointed him wants him to do.

Scott Greenberg, Four Million Taxpayers are Subject to the AMT. Who Are They? (Tax Policy Blog). “As these statistics show, the AMT basically functions as a surtax on high-income taxpayers in high-tax states with children.”

Norton Francis, The Perils of Tax Incentives for Economic Development (TaxVox). “And if every state is offering subsidies, one wonders whether they are engaged in a form of economic mutually-assured destruction, where the subsidies are pure windfalls to firms that have little effect on their decisions to move.”

News from the Profession. Let’s Review: Performance Art, Productivity, Binge-Watching (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern).

 

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Tax Roundup, 3/4/16: Discussing tomorrow’s obscure deadline today! And: Iowa think-tanker whiffs on Section 179.

Friday, March 4th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

Accounting Today Newsletter visitors, click here for “One year for you, forever for them.”

20151209-1Today is Day 64. Tomorrow is one of the more obscure deadlines in the tax law. Complex trusts have until tomorrow to make distributions to their beneficiaries that can be considered 2015 distributions under the “65-day rule” of Section 663(b).

“Complex” trusts are those that are taxed as separate entities, and which are not required to distribute all of their income at least annually. That is in contrast with the other two kinds of trusts:

“Simple” trusts, which are treated as separate taxpayers from their beneficiaries but which have to distribute their income at least annually; and

“Grantor” trusts, the earnings of which are taxed directly to the person who funded it, regardless of whether the earnings are distributed. The typical estate planning “living trust” is a grantor trust.

Complex trusts pay their own taxes under a system similar to the individual tax system, but with some important twists:

-The brackets are very compressed. Complex trusts pay the 39.6% top rate starting at $12,300 of taxable income in 2015. Single individuals don’t hit that rate until taxable income reaches $413,200, and joint filers go to $464,850.

-Trusts pay the 3.8% “net investment income tax” on “investment” income to the extent their adjusted gross income exceeds $12,300. The cutoff is $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for joint filers.

-When complex trusts make a distribution, taxable income follows the distribution. While it’s a little more complicated than this, for this discussion assume that a distribution to a beneficiary of $100 reduces trust taxable income by $100 and increases the recipient beneficiary’s taxable income by the same amount.

Together, this means complex trusts are often highly motivated to distribute their taxable income, at least to the extent that it exceeds $12,300. This is true when beneficiaries are not top bracket taxpayers, and it’s especially true if their AGIs are below the 3.8% NIIT cutoff. Shifting taxable income from the highest trust tax bracket to the lower individual brackets can save taxes overall.

The 65-day rule is a mulligan for complex trusts. It gives them some extra time after the end of the year to distribute some cash — and some of that prior year taxable income — to their beneficiaries.

Of course, some trusts will choose to take the tax hit. Some trusts exist specifically to keep income out of the hands of beneficiaries, perhaps because the person who set up the trust wants the beneficiaries to wait until they are older and wiser before they get the cash. But in many cases, the 65-day rule is a handy after-the-fact trust planning tool.

Related: Overview of Fiduciary Income Taxation (IRS, AICPA)

 

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WrongIn his post Unspoken budget choices for Iowa, Peter Fisher errs on an important fact about coupling Iowa’s Section 179 limit to the $500,000 federal amount. Mr. Fisher is an Iowa City academic with the leftish think tank Iowa Policy Project.* He says (my emphasis):

On the other hand, the bill would reward decisions already made and give those investors a break they had not expected. It’s not an incentive to do something they would not have done anyway — and it’s very costly.

They certainly did expect it. It was clear from early in 2015 that there was powerful motivation in Congress to extend the $500,000 limit for a year, and possibly permanently; the permanent extension is what happened. The $500,000 limit had been renewed year-by-year since 2009, and Iowa had adopted the $500,000 limit every year since 2010. While past performance is no guarantee of future results with politicians, all indications were for a repeat, both at the federal and state level.

There was no indication that Iowa would do anything different until Governor Branstad came out against coupling in January of this year — surprising taxpayers and practitioners all over Iowa. It is simply wrong to say $500,000 Section 179 coupling wasn’t expected. And it’s indisputable that the alternative $25,000 limit represents a year-to-year tax increase for 2015.

One thing Mr. Fisher does get right: failing to couple does represent an unspoken budget choice. He just wants to choose to spend the money on his favored projects. But failure to couple really represents a choice to favor cronies, big businesses and insiders over small businesses across Iowa who lack lobbyists and clout.

Related: Complete Tax Update coverage of coupling issue.

*Disclosure: I have been disagreeing with the Founding Director of IPP since he was an Economics professor at Cornell College and I was a coffee-guzzling history major. 

 

Tony Nitti, Taxation Of Lawsuit Awards And Settlements: Getting To The Origin Of The Claim. “Thus, when determining whether a taxpayer’s award or settlement payment is excludable under Section 104, you’ve got to get to the bottom of the original claim: what caused the taxpayer to sue in the first place?”

Russ Fox, Math Is Hard, IRS Addition. I see what you punned there!  “To my clients and anyone else who receives an IRS notice: IRS statistics show that two-thirds of IRS notices are wrong in whole or in part.”

TaxGrrrl, IRS Reports Fewer Tax Returns Received, Higher Average Refund As Tax Season Rolls. “With about six weeks to go in the 2016 tax filing season, more than a third of all taxpayers expecting to file a tax return have already submitted tax returns.”

Jason Dinesen, Do I Have to Pay Self-Employment/FICA Taxes If I Think Social Security Will Go Bankrupt? Three guesses.

 

Nicole Kaeding, State Gasoline Tax Rates in 2016 (Tax Policy Blog):

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Iowa is higher than most, but Pennsylvania is the worst.

 

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1030 “…what we explore here is more subtle, more pervasive, and hence, more invidious and threatening. It is the way in which the unexamined assumption of tax exceptionalism – the idea that tax is different – has produced a situation in which the tax law and its administrators are viewed by tax professionals, and eventually by the taxpaying public, as interpreting and enforcing tax law in ways that are not understood, are therefore misperceived, and are ultimately judged illegitimate.”

Len Burman, TPC Updates  Analysis of Ted Cruz’s Tax Proposal To Reflect a Change in His EITC Proposal. “Senator Cruz’s plan would increase all phase-in and phase-out rates of the credit by 20 percent.”

Kay Bell, Former IRS chief says Trump should release tax returns

 

Career Corner. Is Our Productivity Obsession Counterproductive? (Megan Lewczyk, Going Concern). What is this “productivity” of which you speak?

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Tax Roundup, 3/3/16: IRS sets up ID theft victims for another round. And: if you don’t have kids, there’s Craigslist!

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016 by Joe Kristan
This convicted ID thief likely was a first-day filer.

The kind of criminal mastermind ID thief that continually outwits the IRS.

There is no bottom. Every time I think that the John Koskinen’s IRS couldn’t possibly be less competent, they prove me wrong. Identity Thieves Bypass IRS Protections for Previous Victims (Tom VanAntwerp, Tax Policy Blog):

The IRS provides an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) to victims of identity theft with the goal of preventing it going forward. This IP PIN is mailed to individuals at the start of tax season, and is required to file a return. But the IRS also allows taxpayers to retrieve their IP PIN online by answering the same kinds of knowledge-based authentication questions that let thieves take advantage of the older Get Transcript website.

Computer crime reporter Brian Krebs published this account of Becky Wittrock, a previous identity theft victim whose IP PIN was compromised:

“I tried to e-file this weekend and the return was rejected,” Wittrock said. “I received the PIN since I had IRS fraud on my 2014 return. I called the IRS this morning and they stated that the fraudulent use of IP PINs is a big problem for them this year.”

Wittrock said that to verify herself to the IRS representative, she had to regurgitate a litany of static data points about herself, such as her name, address, Social Security number, birthday, how she filed the previous year (married/single/etc), whether she claimed any dependents and if so how many.

“The guy said, ‘Yes, I do see a return was filed under your name on Feb. 2, and that there was the correct IP PIN supplied’,” Wittrock recalled. “I asked him how can that be, and he said, ‘You’re not the first, we’ve had many cases of that this year.’”

Wittrock noted that the IRS representative said that they would be moving away from using the IP PIN in the near future and replacing it with a different system. No details are known about how this new system might function or if it will avoid the insecure knowledge-based approach to authentication.

Through lax IRS controls, the IRS lets a thief file a return in your name. You go through a long, exasperating process to straighten things out. Meanwhile, the IRS sits on your refund, even though it promptly wired cash to the thief. Then they give you an IP-PIN and assurance that it won’t happen again. And it happens again.

I never thought Doug Shulman would lose his crown as Worst Commissioner Ever. I wish I were right about that. And they think they should regulate preparers because we’re incompetent and out-of-control.

More coverage:

TaxProf, The IRS Is Using A System That Was Hacked To Protect Victims Of A Hack—And It Was Just Hacked

Taxable Talk, The Most Terrifying Words in the English Language Strike Again

 

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TaxGrrrl, On Dr. Seuss’ Birthday, Oh, The Taxes You’ll Pay!:

More taxes!
Whether you like it or not,
Taxes will be something
you’ll pay quite a lot.

Oh, but the IRS will take such good care of it, you’ll not mind, not one little bit!

 

Peter Reilly, Tax Losses From Genetically Engineered Deer Allowed. “The purpose of the selective breeding is to get deer with really impressive head gear.”

Kay Bell, Doing the weird and wacky tax deduction dance. Yes, deer.

Leslie Book, Follow up On Clean Hands Post: The Imposition of Penalties and How Using a Preparer Does Not Automatically Constitute Good Faith and Reasonable Cause (Procedurally Taxing). “At the end of the day, the opinion is certainly a warning that merely hiring a preparer is not enough, and proving reliance on an advisor requires perhaps a bit more focus than a taxpayer’s testimony that the accountant prepared the return.”

 

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Scott Drenkard, Philadelphia Mayor Proposes Gigantic Soda Tax (Tax Policy Blog). It’s the tax that’s gigantic, not the pop serving.

Donald Marron, Budgeting for federal lending programs is still a mess (TaxVox). A good reason to not have federal lending programs.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1029

News from the Profession. Accounting as Performance Art? Sure, Why Not? (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern)

 

You can get anything on Craigslist! Even dependents, it seems. From a Department of Justice press release:

Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that an Ozark, Mo., man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for filing false income tax returns after he advertised on Craigslist to purchase identity information for children that he could claim as dependents.

Raheem L. McClain, 37, of Ozark, was charged in a three-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo., on Feb. 23, 2016. That indictment was unsealed and made public upon McClain’s arrest and initial court appearance on Tuesday, March 1, 2016.

The federal indictment alleges that McClain caused an advertisement to be posted on Craigslist on Jan. 16, 2015, stating:

“WANTED: KIDS TO CLAIM ON INCOME TAXES – $750 (SPRINGFIELD,MO)

IF YOU HAVE SOME KIDS YOU ARENT CLAIMING, I WILL PAY YOU A $750 EACH TO CLAIM THEM ON MY INCOME TAX. IF INTERESTED,REPLY TO THIS AD.”

In a way, it makes economic sense. It would let people whose incomes are too high monetize otherwise useless dependents. But as you might have gathered from the word “indictment,” the tax law frowns on this sort of thing.

 

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Tax Roundup, 3/1/16: Iowa-only preparer regulation dies unmourned.

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016 by Joe Kristan

20151124-1Bwahahaha! Tax pros across Iowa can continue to pillage their poor unsuspecting clients, and there’s nothing you can do about it!

What? You aren’t being pillaged? You are free to hire and fire a tax preparer or consultant who is incompetent, or who charges more than you want to pay? Then maybe it’s not such a tragedy that a bill to license and regulate tax preparers in Iowa, SSB 3135, died in the Iowa legislature at the “funnel week” deadline. The bill, sponsored by the Chairperson of the Iowa Senate State Government committee, “requires the Iowa accountancy examining board to license all persons who wish to practice as tax consultants or tax preparers.” As Russ Fox and Jason Dinesen note, it would exempt attorneys and CPAs while covering enrolled agents.

The proposal has all of the bad features of the abortive federal tax practice regulation, plus the additional flaw of making tax preparation in Iowa more expensive than in other states.

Occupational licensing is a crony capitalist job killer, and observers across the spectrum, from The Des Moines Register to the Koch Brothers have figured this out. SSB 3135 dies unmourned.

 

Russ Fox, Frivolity Has a Price: $19,837.50. In case you’re wondering why your attorney won’t help you argue that you don’t have to pay taxes because the judge has gold fringe on his flag, Russ can help you.

TaxGrrrlFiguring Out Taxes, Pay And More On Leap Day: Are You Working For Free Today?

Peter Reilly, Colorado Can Force Vendors To Rat Out Residents On Use Tax. Oh, boy.

Keith Fogg, Judge Paige Marvel Will Become New Chief Judge of the Tax Court on June 1 (Procedurally Taxing).

Robert Wood, 9 IRS Audit Tips From The Trump Tax Flap. I’m not sure how universal these tips are.

Kay Bell, Cruz & Rubio release taxes, challenge Trump to do same

Jim Maule, Should Candidates Be Required to Release Tax Returns?  I think they should be required to prepare them by hand on a live webcast.

 

Scott GreenbergThe Most Popular Itemized Deductions (Tax Policy Blog):

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“Out of the 44 million households that itemize deductions, almost 43 million deduct the taxes they pay to state and local governments.”

 

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1027

David Henderson, Henderson on the Case Against a VAT (Econlog).

Greg Mankiw, Misunderstanding Marco. “The Rubio plan is essentially the X-tax designed by the late Princeton economist David Bradford.  It is a progressive consumption tax.”

Tyler Cowen, The regulatory state and the importance of a non-vindictive President. That ship sailed seven years ago, and its return isn’t on the horizon, given the polls.

Renu Zaretsky, Disputes, Development, Filing, and FuelToday’s TaxVox roundup covers ground from Google’s international tax issues to lax security protocols from IRS “free file” providers.

 

Career Corner. Crackin’ Under Pressure: Making Mistakes During Busy Season (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern). “Regardless, mistakes are always mortifying to those who make them and, regardless of what you think, EVERYONE MAKES THEM.”

 

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Tax Roundup, 2/22/16: DuPont spurns Iowa, as tax rates would predict. And: What Sec. 179 decoupling will cost Iowa farmers.

Monday, February 22nd, 2016 by Joe Kristan

20160222-1Taxes aren’t everything, but they are a thing. With the merger of DuPont and Dow, Iowa hoped the headquarters of the merged company would be in Central Iowa, home of the big DuPont Pioneer seed operation. It didn’t work out that way. It did work out the way you would think it would, though, if you looked only at tax rates.

First, O. Kay Henderson brings us up to date:

DuPont bought Iowa-based Pioneer Hi-bred International in 1999. Now, as the merger of chemical giants DuPont and Dow continues, company executives have decided the corporate headquarters will be in Wilmington, Delaware.

Iowa officials had offered the company millions if it had picked Johnston, where DuPont Pioneer has been based.

An agricultural unit of the newly-merged company will remain in Johnston. State officials are giving the company $14 million in research activities tax credits and a two million dollar forgiveable loan. It appears up to 500 people will work in the research facilities. More than 2600 people currently work at DuPont Pioneer in Johnston.

In short, the corporate headquarters will be in Delaware, but the company will continue to do seed research here, and collect taxpayer money too. That’s precisely the result one would anticipate based on The Tax Foundation’s Location Matters report on effective state taxes on different activities. The key numbers in choosing between Delaware and Iowa:

Iowa v Delaware 20160222

Iowa has one of the worst tax structures for corporate headquarters. Iowa’s 20.4% effective rate on a “mature” corporate headquarters is half-again higher than the rate in Delaware. Iowa’s highest-in-the-nation 12% corporate tax rate has something to do with that, as does its bad habit of subjecting business inputs to sales tax.

Because Iowa subsidizes research activities generously through the refundable research activities credit, its taxes on R&D facilities are significantly lower.

I don’t believe that taxes are the only thing corporations look at in location decisions, but to say they don’t matter defies basic economics and common sense. If you think taxing cigarettes and soda pop affects individual choices, it’s weird to say that taxing corporate headquarters doesn’t affect corporate choices.

20120906-1The DuPont decision is the natural consequence of Iowa’s policy of paying to lure and subsidize new companies, using high taxes from existing businesses. It’s like a guy bringing his wife’s purse to the tavern to buy drinks for the girls. The girls may take his money, but they realize he’ll do the same thing to them that he’s doing to his wife, so the smart ones aren’t going home with him. And any girls he “wins” aren’t likely to be great prizes.

Some of the politicians are figuring this out: Senate GOP Leader says DuPont Pioneer move shows need to eliminate income tax (O. Kay Henderson, again):

Bill Dix of Shell Rock, the Republican leader in the Iowa Senate, suggests this should be a wake-up call for state policymakers.

“Really shines a beacon on the fact that we are a very high-tax state,” Dix says, “one of the highest taxing states in the country.”

The State of Iowa is providing the company $14 million in research tax credits for the retention of up to 500 high-paying “R-and-D” jobs in Johnston. Dix says this corporate decision shows it’s time for a discussion of eliminating the state income tax.

“We tend to have had a policy of looking at what we can do to pick winners and losers and bring certain industries to our state and to some degree that has been successful,” Dix says. “…The states that are growing the fastest are the states that recognize that an income tax is a tax on productivity, hard-work, investment.”

Exactly. Unfortunately, the Governor and his unlikely Democratic allies in the state Senate are doubling down on their commitment to fund targeted tax breaks with high taxes on existing businesses. They are surprising Iowa businesses with a 2015 tax increase by refusing to adopt the increased Federal $500,000 Section 179 deduction and other federal tax breaks renewed in December.

Related: 

Corporate giveaways hurt Iowa (Steve Corbin). While I share his feelings about Iowa’s economic development bureaucracy, they don’t control most research credits.

Taxpayers May Lose Deductions Due to Legislative Inaction (Public News Service)

 

Paul Neiffer, How Much Will Farmers Pay to Iowa For Low Section 179:

Therefore, we would estimate that not coupling with federal Section 179 will cost Iowa Farmers between $40 and $75 million in 2015.  Since Iowa says this will be a permanent non-coupling, Iowa Farmers will face similar costs in the future (although it may get smaller each year due to increased depreciation deductions on amounts not allowed for Section 179).

I’m sure they’ll feel better about that when they think of the $14 million going to DuPont.

 

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Institute for Justice, Victory Over the IRS: IRS Returns N.C. Man’s Entire Life Savings After Seizing It Through Civil Forfeiture. Good. But why did he have to fight so hard when the IRS never said that he had cheated on his taxes?

Rose Heaphy, Internal Revenue Service scam haunts Des Moines woman (KCCI.com). If the caller says he’s from the IRS, he isn’t.

Kay Bell, Driving down your tax bill with auto-related deductions

Jason Dinesen, How is the Iowa Trust Fund Tax Credit Calculated?

Jim Maule, Yes, Damages for Emotional Distress Are Gross Income. “It is time for the distinction to be eliminated, but until and unless that happens, taxpayers are caught by it and must file their returns in compliance with what section 104 provides.”

Kenneth Weil, Will Bankruptcy Get Your Passport Back? (Procedurally Taxing).

Peter Reilly, Should enQ Get To Sell Spots In IRS Phone Queue? “Long wait times on calls to the IRS are nothing new.  But now there is something you can do about it – maybe.  Only it will cost you.  And the whole notion has me angry.” Weird and fascinating.

TaxGrrrl, Fraud Allegations At Liberty Tax Franchises Raise Questions

Russ Fox, Where I Became the “Messenger of Doom” (My Final Comments on Turf Rebates). Nice work if you can get it.

Robert WoodCrazy Sounding Tax Deductions That IRS Says Are Legit. “Cosmetic surgery costs are usually non-deductible, but an exotic dancer named Chesty Love tested this rule.”

 

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1017Day 1018Day 1019. I’m featured on Day 1016, and Peter Reilly is spotlighted on Day 1018.

Alan Cole, Which Places Benefit Most from State and Local Tax Deductions? ( Tax Policy Blog). It has a wonderful map where you can find the answer county by county:

 

Map by Tax Foundation.

Len Burman, The GOP Proposed Tax Cuts Would be Unprecedented (updated) (TaxVox)

Career Corner. Bonus Watch ’16: Underachievers. (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern). “Good news for the lion’s share of you who are unexceptional: you’re getting paid!”

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Tax Roundup, 2/17/16: Nationwide ‘unregulated’ tax practice regulated out of business. And: Where’s Roger?

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

20150921-1The Wild West of Unregulated Tax Practice. Well, not entirely: Federal Court Shuts Down Nationwide Tax Preparation Business (Department of Justice):

A federal court in Chicago has ordered Servicios Latinos Inc. to close its nationwide tax preparation business, the Justice Department announced today.  The order comes after the Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit against the business and its owners, Georgina Lopez, Pamela Miranda and Jorge A. Miranda, alleging that the defendants falsely understated their customers’ tax liabilities or overstated their customers’ entitlement to a tax refund.  The injunction also prohibits Lopez, Pamela Miranda and Jorge Miranda from acting as federal tax preparers, owning or operating tax preparation businesses and employing tax preparers.  The defendants agreed to entry of the injunction, but did not admit the allegations in the complaint.

The abortive IRS preparer program had an ethics component. I’m sure that this would never have happened if the barred preparers had attended a one-hour ethics CPE course.

They were successful, until now:

According to the complaint, Servicios Latinos operated out of approximately 84 stores in as many as 30 states, with locations including Kennet Square, Pennsylvania; Kansas City, Missouri; and Las Vegas, Nevada. 

They probably had many clients who were delighted at the big refunds that the stodgy preparers down the street were too timid to claim. The press release says the now-closed firm’s alleged stock in trade included phony child tax credits and earned income tax credits. Sometimes a big refund can turn out to be expensive. Now their satisfied clients can look forward to their “Dear Taxpayer” letters.

This shows that the government has powerful tools to shut down bad actors. Regulation would not improve the conduct of good preparers, but it would saddle them with useless expense and paperwork. It’s just another form of occupational licensing, this time to the benefit of the national tax prep franchise outfits.

 

RMceowenPaul Neiffer, Welcome Aboard Roger McEowen:

Roger just recently left the Center For Agricultural Law and Taxation (CALT) at Iowa State University and I am pleased to let everyone know that he has agreed to join CliftonLarsonAllen as a tax director for our Agribusiness and Cooperative group.  He will be based out of Des Moines and will continue to do his normal seminars around the country and provide additional advice for our clients on income and estate tax and succession planning (along with other advice).

Roger recruited me as a speaker for the CALT Farm Tax Schools for the past several years. Congratulations, Roger, on your move to the private sector!

 

186 companies get refunds under Iowa R&D tax credit (Des Moines Register):

Critics of the program have questioned why so few companies claim such a large part of the tax credits. They’ve also questioned why the state is providing companies with money when it faces tight budgets.

Supporters of the research activities tax credit, however, have said the tax credit helps the businesses decide where to locate and where to conduct their research. Providing the tax credit helps spur investment in Iowa, some have said.

People who get free money always have good reasons why it should keep coming.

Related: What Iowa considers more important than Sec. 179. 

 

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Jason Dinesen. Glossary: Form 8332. “Form 8332 is a tax form signed by a custodial parent to release their claim to a dependency exemption for a child and give it to the non-custodial parent.” It’s a wonderful way to enable parents to continue fighting long after the divorce is final.

TaxGrrrl, Understanding Your Tax Forms 2016: Form 1099-INT, Interest Income. “The ‘FATCA filing requirement’ box is ticked if the information reported on this form is required by rule or statute to comply with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). If this box is checked, you may have your own FATCA related reporting requirements, including the filing of a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).”

Russ Fox, Board of Equalization Excoriated for Ignoring the Law and Binding Precedents, “This is just another reason why the business climate in California is so dreadful.”

Kay Bell, Louisiana budget gap could shut down LSU football. The most important function of the state university system, apparently.

Jack Townsend, The Revenue Rule: Is It Relevant Any More? Should It Be? “Historically, the ‘Revenue Rule’ has been a barrier to one country seeking to collect taxes in another country.”

Keith Fogg, Why is the IRS Collecting Taxes for Denmark? ({rocedurally Taxing)

Peter Reilly, How Valid Is Tax Foundation Dynamic Scoring? It’s all modeling, which is always questionable. Still, taxes do matter. The same people who insist 70% tax rates won’t be ruinous insist soda taxes affect behavior. They’re half right that way.

Robert Wood, Kim Kardashian + Kanye West File Taxes Separately. Maybe You Should Too. If I were married to Kim Kardashian, I absolutely would.

 

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Ajay Gupta, Justice Scalia’s Tax Law Jurisprudence—Just as Acerbic and Prophetic (Tax Analysts Blog). “In cases involving the interpretation of federal tax statutes, Scalia brought to bear his general disdain of legislative history.” And he was not a friend of commerce clause challenges to state taxes.

Michael Schuyler, What Would The Administration’s $10 Oil Tax Do To The Economy And Federal Revenue? (Tax Policy Blog). It would go into, among other things, “high-speed rail.

Howard Gleckman, Cruz’s Flat Tax + VAT Would Cut Revenues By $8.6 Trillion. If only there were a candidate with a plan that would improve the tax system and not increase the deficit

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1014

Tax Justice Blog, Tax Justice Digest: Voodoo Economics — Corporate Tax Watch — Social Contract. Check out what the left side of the tax conversation is up to. Oddly, the words “social contract” don’t show up in the post. Maybe because I never signed it?

 

News from the Profession. Would an Accountant Ever Fall for a Phony IRS Call? “And if a CPA did get duped, it’s not like he or she could tell anyone about it. If they did, they’d literally die from the embarrassment.”

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