Posts Tagged ‘tax crime’

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applications for tax-exempt status and the number of applications from similar groups that had been granted, denied, withdrawn, or were still pending.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, 3/18/16: The income tax difference between gifts and compensation, illustrated. And: twins!

Friday, March 18th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

Twins! I’m delighted to report that Abby Croll, a Roth & Company Tax Manager, delivered twins yesterday, a boy and a girl. All are well.

 

20160215-1Too darn busy to file? There are many good reasons to stay current on your tax filings. One compelling reason is that failure to file can draw unwanted attention from the IRS. Returns that aren’t there can stand out.

That seems to be how it worked for an entrepreneur in Northwest Iowa, a Ms. Fairchild. An Eighth Circuit panel yesterday upheld her 33-month sentence on tax charges. The court takes us back to the beginning of the investigation (any emphasis is mine):

In 2009, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Special Agent Daniel Wright opened an investigation on Fairchild and her husband. Agent Wright discovered that Fairchild and her husband had not filed income tax returns since 2004.

With no returns with which to start, Agent Wright did a little digging:

Agent Wright obtained records from Fairchild’s two primary bank accounts dating back to January 1, 2005. These bank records showed that a number of large cashier’s checks had been deposited into her accounts. Specifically, there were 37 deposits of checks from David Karlen totaling $1,103,647.84. Fairchild’s accounts reflected another six checks totaling $50,000 from Paul Pietz deposited into two main accounts in 2008. The bank records also showed $210,348.39 in total cash deposits from 2005 to 2008.

That was enough to pique Agent Wright’s interest. Meanwhile, Ms. Fairchild wasn’t exactly ignoring her tax issues:

In July 2010, Fairchild and her husband filed joint income tax returns for 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, apparently unaware of the ongoing IRS investigation. Fairchild, a professional adult entertainer, reported income in each of the respective years as $122,345; $120,000; $120,000; and $151,325. The total income reported of $513,670 was far less than the $1,153,647.84 that Fairchild received from Karlen and Pietz during that same time span. Additionally, the returns did not identify any of Fairchild’s cash deposits during those years as income.

Perhaps a false move, considering that Agent Wright already knew about the deposits. Before long the IRS got copies of these returns to him, and he arranged a chat with Ms. Fairchild:

Agent Wright interviewed Fairchild about her tax returns on July 13, 2011. During that interview, Fairchild explained “that she actually thought all of the money, that every single cashier’s check she received from Mr. Karlen was a gift, but that she had reported some of it to take some of the tax burden off of him.

Very thoughtful.

To determine how much income to claim, Fairchild told Agent Wright that she “ballparked” the amount. In the same interview, Fairchild also claimed that the money from Pietz was a gift and that he had told her that he reported the gift on his income tax return. Even though $30,000 of the money from Pietz was included as income on her 2008 income tax return, Fairchild maintained that it was really a gift that her accountant had mistakenly included as income.

I suppose most people don’t know that gifts don’t show up on income tax returns. Still, one may doubt that gift tax returns were filed for any of these amounts under the circumstances.

In order for a payment to be considered a “gift,” and therefore exempt from income tax, it has to be paid out of “disinterested generosity.” It appears that the benefactors had, um, interests:

According to Karlen, he met Fairchild in 2003 or 2004 while she was dancing. He tipped her money when she danced on stage and paid for private dances inside the club in a private room. Fairchild gave her phone number to Karlen and would call him to tell him when and where she would be dancing. In 2005, Karlen went to watch Fairchild dance at a club; while there, Fairchild asked Karlen if he was interested in paying for sex with her outside of the club. Karlen testified concerning the first time that he met with Fairchild for a “private meeting outside the club.”

You can read the opinion if you care for more details, but they can be condensed into this:

When asked how he “treat[ed] the money that [he] gave to [Fairchild],” Karlen replied, “[f]or her service. . . . For sex.” When asked whether the 37 payments were all for sexual services, Karlen replied, “[e]very one of those.” He later confirmed that “[t]he whole $1.1 million was for sex” and that “[e]verything was for sex.”

Generous, maybe, but not disinterested. It appears that her other benefactor had similar interests.

Ms. Fairchild had an explanation for her late filing:

Fairchild admitted that she did not file income tax returns for 2005 through 2008 until 2010, but she claimed that the delay was due to problems that she experienced during the construction of her new home.

Probably not “reasonable cause,” to IRS thinking. In fairness, it seems she was busy on other things.

20150813-1Now let’s move on to her visit with her tax preparer:

In May 2006, after filing requests with the IRS to file the income tax returns late, [preparer] Anderson met with Fairchild to determine her income. Because Fairchild had no other documentation of her income, she reviewed her bank statements with Anderson to determine which deposits were income. Anderson testified, “I went through and had Veronica [Fairchild] read off the deposits to me, and I ran a tape on my calculator of the number of deposits that she would tell me.

He ran a tape! There’s no school like the old school.

But old school or new, it was all income as far as the IRS was concerned, and it wasn’t reported. Indictment and conviction followed in due course, and yesterday the appeals court upheld a 33-month prison sentence for the underreporting. It perhaps didn’t help that while she didn’t report all of the deposits as income on her 1040, she did report it all to several banks when she applied for loans.

The moral? There are several lessons we can draw. First, file timely. She might have never attracted Agent Wright’s attentions had she filed, unless he was a strip club patron.

Next, beware the tendency to believe what you want to believe about taxable income. Just because the nice man gives you money doesn’t mean he’s doing it because he’s a nice man.

Finally, level with your preparer. The court seems to have held it against her that she didn’t.

Cite: Fairchild, CA-8, No. 14-3517

Prior coverage here.

 

KCRG.com, Iowa Businesses Spend Billions In Tax Coupling

Specifically, agriculture businesses and farms use it for high cost equipment. In 2012 through 2014, agriculture applied that tax law to around 38 percent of their investments. More than twice of any other industry.

In terms of dollars, across all small businesses in Iowa, that’s about $2.7 billion in 2012, $2.7 billion in 2013, and $2.2 billion in 2014. Of that, farm returns claimed between 54 and 66 percent over those three years.

Those numbers come from a white paper by Roger McEowen, a professor of Ag Law at Washburn University and the Midwest Tax Director of CliftonLarsonAllen in West Des Moines.

But what good is it if it never lets a politician issue an economic development press release?

 

The Critical Question: How High Are Beer Taxes in Your State? (Scott Drenkard, Tax Policy Blog). This high:

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Peter Reilly, IRS And Liquor By The Wink. Wherein a glorified bar isn’t a tax-exempt social club.

TaxGrrrl, You Can Thank Excise Taxes For Guinness Stout. That wouldn’t have occurred to me.

Jason Dinesen, Glossary: College Savings Iowa. “It’s a type of529 Plan, where money going into the plan is not tax deductible (for federal taxes) but money coming out not taxed as long as it’s used for qualifying expenses.” And it has an Iowa tax benefit.

Robert Wood, Confusing Personal With Business On Your Taxes Can Mean IRS Penalties Or Jail. Expecially when “confusing” means “pretending.”

Kay Bell, Alexander Hamilton will remain on redesigned $10 bill. Phew.

 

Picture by Dan Kristan

Picture by Dan Kristan

 

William Gale, Taxes on the Rich May Change a Lot in 2017 (TaxVox)

Alex Durante, The U.S. Tax and Transfer System is Very Progressive, New Paper Confirms (Tax Policy Blog). But it is also whimsical: “However, due to the complex system of phase outs of certain tax credits and government transfers, poor households may face marginal tax rates as high as some middle and upper-income households.

All points bulletin! Beware the Slayer of Tax Reform Fantasy (Robert Goulder, Tax Analysts Blog).

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1044

Stuart Gibson, Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back for Europe? (Tax Analysts Blog) “Unfortunately, every time it looks like Europe will unify behind certain tax policies, the member states start circling the wagons and shooting inward.”

News from the Profession. Cyber Extortion: Leprechauns vs. Accountants (Megan Lewczyk, Going Concern)

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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, 3/11/16: Iowa Sec. 179 coupling advances in both chambers. And: the cost of not filing timely.

Friday, March 11th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

IMG_1291To the floor. Identical bills coupling Iowa’s tax law to federal changes enacted in December cleared the taxwriting committees in each house of the General Assembly yesterday, the day after the bills were introduced. The bills (SSB 3171 and HSB 642) will be eligible for floor vote next week.

The sudden breakthrough clears the way for thousands of Iowans to complete their tax returns with the full $500,000 maximum Section 179 deduction. Thousands more will get to take other benefits, including the $250 above-the-line deduction for educator expenses, deductions for student loan interest, and charitable distributions by IRAs for older taxpayers.

The Governor seems to be on board, reports O. Kay Henderson:

Republican Governor Terry Branstad is praising the breakthrough.

“It certainly is a significant step in the right direction,” Branstad told reporters this morning. “…I always reserve judgment until I see it in its final form, but it appears from what I’ve heard to be something that resolves some big differences of opinion between the two houses and hopefully will make it possible to move forward with our other priorities.”

The coupling process is unfolding as I predicted February 26, after Governor Branstad reversed his anti-coupling stand. It’s too bad we couldn’t have gotten this far much earlier, without disrupting filing season. Better late than never, though. Unfortunately, the coupling is for one year only, so we can look forward to a repeat show next year.

Other Coverage:

Jason Schultz, A Victory for Iowa Taxpayers (Caffeinated Thoughts)

Des Moines RegisterLegislators reach pact on key budget issues

TheGazette.com, Iowa tax coupling to benefit ‘tens of thousands’

Me, Tax Roundup, 3/10/16: Coupling deal may trade one-year Sec. 179 coupling for reduced manufacturing sales tax exemption.

Complete Tax Update coverage.

 

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File or extend that 1120-S on time! The returns for calendar-year S corporations are due on Tuesday. If you can’t file on time, be sure you extend, because the penalties have gone up. From the IRS online Form 1120-S instructions:

Late filing of return.   A penalty may be charged if the return is filed after the due date (including extensions) or the return doesn’t show all the information required, unless each failure is due to reasonable cause…  For returns on which no tax is due, the penalty is $195 for each month or part of a month (up to 12 months) the return is late or doesn’t include the required information, multiplied by the total number of persons who were shareholders in the corporation during any part of the corporation’s tax year for which the return is due. 

You can also get in trouble for filing, but not sending the K-1:

Failure to furnish information timely.   For each failure to furnish Schedule K-1 to a shareholder when due and each failure to include on Schedule K-1 all the information required to be shown (or the inclusion of incorrect information), a $260 penalty may be imposed with respect to each Schedule K-1 for which a failure occurs. If the requirement to report correct information is intentionally disregarded, each $260 penalty is increased to $520 or, if greater, 10% of the aggregate amount of items required to be reported.

Extending your return gives you until September 15 to get that information out. A 10-person S corporation incurs a $1,950 fine for being one day late, and it increases each month. The extension, filed on Form 7004, is automatic, and can be e-filed.

Rant: I despise the use of fines like this as a government funding method. Dinging a one-day timing violation is like the red-light cameras that ding you for not quite stopping before turning right at an empty intersection. No harm, no foul, but pay up, peasant.

 

Big companies get phished: Snapchat, Seagate among companies duped in tax-fraud scam:

The scam, which involved fake emails purportedly sent by top company officials, convinced the companies involved to send out W-2 tax forms that are ideal for identity theft. For instance, W-2 data can easily be used to file bogus tax returns and claim fraudulent refunds.

The embarrassing breakdowns have prompted employers to apologize and offer free credit monitoring to employees. Such measures, however, won’t necessarily shield unwitting victims from the headaches that typically follow identity theft.

Be careful out there, kids.

 

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William Perez, Tax Planning for Clergy

Kay Bell, Ways & Means chairman promises more Congressional scrutiny of IRS security procedures

Jack Townsend, DOJ Tax Promotes Employment Tax Criminal Prosecutions. Never “borrow” withheld taxes to pay other vendors. It can get very serious in a hurry, even in Iowa.

Keith Fogg, A Different “Angle” on Recovery of Costs and Attorney’s Fees. “As we have discussed before, allowing the government to wait until the time of trial or even after trial to concede a case and thereby avoid attorney’s fees frustrates the purpose of the qualified offer provisions.”

Robert Wood, Guilty Mo’ Money Tax Preparers Could Face 8 Years. Nothing says “professional” like “Mo’ Money.”

TaxGrrrl, Does The IRS Have Your Money? Nearly $1 Billion In Old Tax Refunds Outstanding

Jim Maule, Why Not Sell Losing Lottery Tickets? “The answer is simple. The person buying those tickets and representing that they lost the face value of those tickets would be committing tax fraud.”

Dang. Tax Court Holds That Family Vacations Are Not Deductible As Book-Writing Research (Tony Nitti).

 

Richard Auxier, Is your state’s tax system punching above or below its weight? (TaxVox).

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1037

 

News from the Profession. CPA Accused of Jamming Cell Phones Just Wanted to Commute in Peace, YOU MONSTERS (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern).

 

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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, 2/18/16: Lax IRS data security exposes taxpayer info. And more news!

Thursday, February 18th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

No Walnut STMaking it easy for the thieves. An appalling story in Tax Analysts today tells how the IRS leaves e-file identification numbers vulnerable: Flawed Authentication May Have Exposed E-File PINs ($link Now ungated – thanks, Tax Analysts!). Luca Gattoni-Celli writes on how primitive verification procedures facilitated an automated attack that compromised up to 101,000 taxpayers:

Jeffrey Eisenach, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, characterized the IRS’s single-factor authentication process for the e-file PIN application as totally inadequate.

“The authentication that they are using now is something out of the 20th century,” said Eisenach, who directs AEI’s Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy. “It’s hard to believe that the U.S. government checkbook would be so poorly protected in 2016.”

When asked about the apparent authentication requirements, Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy & Technology, also said he found them disturbing.

SSNs, dates of birth, and the other required information described on the IRS Web pages “are not adequate as authenticators because they’re not secret,” Hall said. “These things are easy to discover about people,” he added, noting that stolen SSNs, which he said were created as identifiers, not security keys, are widely available on the dark Web.

Hall said the authentication process described on the IRS Web pages would have made the e-file PIN program extremely vulnerable to an automated attack of the type the IRS disclosed.

Yet the IRS insists they are ready to take on preparer certification too.

 

Flickr Image courtesy donjd2 under Creative Commons License.

Flickr Image courtesy donjd2 under Creative Commons License.

Scott Greenberg, A Proven Strategy for Boosting Investment (Tax Policy Blog):

At least within the field of tax policy, there is a simple and obvious policy solution for encouraging investments: ending the disincentive for business investment in the U.S. tax code.

Generally, U.S. businesses are allowed to deduct expenses in the year that they occur. However, when it comes to capital expenses, businesses are required to spread out the deduction over time periods ranging from 3 to 50 years. As a result, the U.S. tax code does not allow businesses to deduct the full cost of capital investments, in present value terms; in a recent paper, I estimated that, over time, corporations are only able to deduct 87.14 percent of the costs of investment.

In other words, the U.S. tax code distorts business decision-making by encouraging businesses to spend their money on salaries, ordinary expenses, and paying down debt (all of which lead to an immediate deduction) and not to spend their money on investment (which leads to a delayed and reduced deduction). If businesses were allowed to immediately deduct the full cost of their capital investments – a policy known as full expensing – this distortion would disappear.

The Section 179 deduction does this on a small scale, but Iowa’s political leadership is having none of it.

 

KIWAradio.com, Donations Dwindle For Chickadee Checkoff. “Donations to the Fish and Wildlife Fund, also known as the “Chickadee Checkoff,” go directly to research and habitat development for some of Iowa’s most vulnerable animal species. The checkoff was created by state lawmakers in 1981. At its height, Iowans donated more than $200,000 annually to the fund.”

Kay Bell, H&R Block CEO says some tax simplification necessary. But not enough to make people stay away from H&R Block!

Peter Reilly, Oxymorons In The Tax Law Can Not Be Fixed With Clever Ideas. “The clever idea that Larry and Dora Williams had was to generate some passive income to abosorb their passive losses.”

Joni Larson, Changes to the Rules of Evidence Applied in the Tax Court (Procedurally Taxing).

TaxGrrrl, Understanding Your Tax Forms 2016: 1099-DIV, Dividends And Distributions.


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David Brunori, Transfer Pricing Is All the Rage — in the States (Tax Analysts Blog). “When proving arm’s-length pricing, the side that can spend the most on good lawyers, accountants, and economists almost always wins.” That’s where kangaroo courts come in.

TaxProf,The IRS Scandal, Day 1015. Why would you think it odd that the IRS hasn’t acted on an exemption application for six years, you silly wingnuts?

Renu Zaretsky, Simple is as simple costs. Today’s TaxVox headline roundup covers the Cruz tax plan, on-line sales tax legislation, and tax finagling involved in financing the Harry Potter films.

 

Is there anything they can’t do?

Clinton Calls for Expanding Housing Tax Credits (Tax Analysts, subscriber link)

H.R. 4563 Would Provide Credit for Zika Vaccine Research (Tax Analysts, subscriber link)

 

News from the Profession. Tax Season Scares Millennials (Caleb Newquist). That just means they’re paying attention.

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Tax Roundup, 2/5/16: The IRS isn’t a bank, and a 1099 isn’t what makes income taxable. And: oil companies, money trees.

Friday, February 5th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

20151217-1Nice Try. The tax law discourages taxpayers from tapping retirement savings too early with a 10% early withdrawal tax. The tax law also allows an above-the-line deduction for penalties imposed by banks for closing out a CD or savings account before maturity.

They aren’t the same thing.

A Mr. Martin learned that lesson this week in Tax Court. He was 54 years old when he pulled out $55,976.29 from his IRA. He reported the 10% penalty tax, but then he also deducted it on line 30 of his 1040 as a “penalty on early withdrawal of savings.”

I can see the logic, as it does look like, well, a penalty on an early withdrawal of savings. But that’s not how the Tax Court sees it (my emphasis):

Martin argues that the additional tax imposed by section 72(t) is deductible under section 62(a)(9). We disagree. Section 62(a)(9) provides a deduction for an amount “forfeited to a bank, mutual savings bank, savings and loan association, building and loan association, cooperative bank or homestead association as a penalty for premature withdrawal of funds from a time savings account, certificate of deposit, or similar class of deposit.” The section 72(t) additional tax is payable to the federal government, not to a “bank” or similar institution listed in section 62(a)(9). Therefore, it is not deductible under section 62(a)(9). Further, the additional tax imposed by section 72(t) is a federal-income tax. Section 275(a)(1) disallows any deductions for “Federal income taxes” (A deduction for certain other taxes, including State income taxes and some other federal taxes, is allowed by section 164(a).).

There was one other problem with the return. He won $1,000 at a casino, an amount arguably below the threshold for which casinos most report gambling winnings on a W2-G. They reported it anyway. Again, the Tax Court:

The casino reported on an information return its $1,000 payment to Martin. Martin argues that, because he earned entries into the lottery by playing slot machines, his gambling winnings should be subject to the $1,200 reporting threshold. Thus, Martin argues, the casino should not have reported the gambling  winnings of $1,000 because the payment fell below the $1,200 reporting-requirement threshold for gambling winnings from slot machines.

Martin assumes that gambling winnings that are not reportable on information returns are not includible in gross income. At trial he said that the IRS is “trying to separate the taxation from the reporting when it is undeniably one and the same”. Martin does not see, or refuses to see, the distinction between information-reporting requirements and the imposition of income tax. Whether the casino was required to report Martin’s winnings is irrelevant to the question of whether his winnings are includible in his gross income. The Internal Revenue Code does not exclude a payment from income when the payment is not large enough to require the payor to report the payment on an information return.

A lot of people think that when something doesn’t show up on an information return, it’s tax-free. It just doesn’t work that way.

Cite: Martin, T.C. Memo. 2016-15

 

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Obama seeks oil tax, destruction of self-driving car industryCNBC reports:

President Barack Obama will propose a $10-per-barrel charge on oil to fund clean transportation projects as part of his final budget request next week, the White House said Thursday.

Oil companies would pay the fee, which would be gradually introduced over five years. The government would use the revenue to help fund high-speed railways, autonomous cars and other travel systems, aiming to reduce emissions from the nation’s transportation system.

“Oil companies would pay the fee.” Such a kidder, that President. Apparently the oil companies will pay it by planting more carbon-absorbing money trees out behind their refineries.

It’s a credit to misguided persistence that the President is still pursuing high-speed passenger rail, an idea that California is busy proving once again to be ridiculously expensive and impractical. And somehow I’d feel much safer in an autonomous car from Google or Apple than one from the the same government that brings us the IRS.

 

Scott Hodge, New IRS Data: Wealthy Paid 55 Percent of Income Taxes in 2014 (Tax Policy Blog).

distribution 2014 income

“So while many politicians may argue that the wealthy don’t pay their fair share of income taxes, the data simply does not support that opinion.”

 

Russ Fox, Maryland Suspends Processing Tax Returns from 23 Liberty Tax Service Locations:

For consumers, the advice that Maryland noted in their press release is accurate: “Taxpayers should carefully review their returns for these issues and should be suspicious if a preparer: deducts fees from the taxpayer’s refund to be deposited into the tax preparer’s account; does not sign the tax return; or fails to include the Preparer Taxpayer Identification number “PTIN” on the return.” I’ll add, if you don’t own a business and see business income on your return, there’s a problem.

Indeed.

Kay Bell, Lesson from IRS hardware failure: Be prepared for the unexpected during tax filing season. The hardware went back on line yesterday afternoon. 

TaxGrrrl, Update: IRS Website Back Online, Tax Refunds Unaffected

Peter ReillyIRS And The Tea Party – Scandal Enters A New Millennium. Peter observes The TaxProf’s Day 1000 Tea Party Scandal entry.

Keith Fogg, Discharging Late Filed Returns – A Novel but Unsuccessful Approach. “The case shows the creativity that can come into play in the face of very long odds.”

Robert Wood, Bank Julius Baer Hit With $547M Criminal Tax Evasion Penalty, Two Bankers Plead Guilty

 

Me, Tax credits for a few vs. business deductions for everyone. I take my battle against cronyism and for conforming Iowa tax law to 2015 federal changes to IowaBiz.com, the Des Moines Business Record Business Professional’s Blog.

 

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TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1,002. Another supposedly-erased hard drive sought by investigators miraculously reappears.

Megan McArdle, Obamacare’s Cadillac Tax Will Not Survive. The way pieces of the machine keep falling off, you might wonder if it wasn’t very well designed.

Renu Zaretsky, A Budget, Capital, Growth, and TransparencyToday’s TaxVox news roundup covers the Obama oil fee, last night’s Sanders-Clinton debate, and lots more.

News from the Profession. Lying About Your Financial Statements Being Audited Still Frowned Upon (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern).

 

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Tax Roundup, 2/4/16. Confirmed: Governor opposes coupling to ALL 2015 changes. And: Are hipsters really flocking downtown?

Thursday, February 4th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

coupling20160129Worst Iowa tax policy decision ever. Governor Branstad doesn’t want to conform Iowa’s tax law to any of the extender provisions passed in December for 2015. A reliable source has confirmed our earlier report that the Governor wants to skip coupling entirely for 2015, and then conform to everything except Section 179 and bonus depreciation in 2016 and beyond.

It’s bad enough that he doesn’t want to conform with the $500,000 federal Section 179 for the first time in years — imposing a big tax increase on small businesses and farmers in every county. But conforming to nothing means a whole host of separate Iowa computations for 2015 returns — and 2015 only. Without spending a lot of time, I come up with these:

Exclusion for IRA contributions to charity
Exclusion of gain from qualified small business stock
Basis adjustment for S corporation charitable contributions
Built-in gain tax five-year recognition period
Educator expense deduction
Exclusion of home mortgage debt forgiveness
Qualified tuition deduction
Conservation easement deductions
Deduction for food inventory contributions

I have asked the Department of Revenue for a complete list of affected provisions, and I will provide it if they send one.

These will have effects on thousands of taxpayers ranging from minor annoyance and more expensive tax compliance to major unexpected Iowa tax expense. To take a common example, the exclusion fo IRA contributions to charity allows taxpayers aged 70 1/2 or older to have their IRAs make contributions to charity directly. This means the contributions bypass their federal 1040s altogether. But for Iowa, the Governor would have the IRA holder include the contribution in taxable income and then, presumably, add it to their itemized deductions — if the taxpayer itemizes in the first place.

Some of these can be very costly. For example, the exclusion of gain for qualifying C corporation stock sales can apply to up to $10 million of capital gain. The exclusion benefits start-up businesses, which Iowa allegedly supports with at least four separate tax credits. Failure to couple would clobber a $10 million 2015 gain with an unexpected $898,000 tax bill.

There is bipartisan support for coupling with all federal provisions other than bonus depreciation for 2015. The Iowa House of Representatives has already passed such a bill on a bipartisan 82-14 vote. But Governor Branstad and Senate Majority Leader Gronstal have apparently reached a little bipartisan deal of their own to keep the Senate from ever voting on 2015 conformity. The Senate tax committee meeting yesterday was cancelled, which I hope means the Senate leadership is getting pressure to back off this stupid policy.

If you are affected, or if your clients are (they are), I encourage you to let your Iowa Senator know how you feel.

Related Coverage:

Iowa House passes $500,000 Section 179, but prospects bleak in Senate.

Iowa Governor reportedly opposes 2015 coupling for anything.

Branstad budget omits $500,000 Section 179 deduction for Iowa; no 2015 conformity.

 

20130218-1What do you mean, IBM doesn’t stock the vacuum tubes anymore? IRS Systems Outage Shuts Down Tax Processing (Accounting Today):

The Internal Revenue Service said Wednesday evening its tax-processing systems have suffered a hardware failure and that tax processing could be affected into Thursday.

“The IRS experienced a hardware failure this afternoon affecting a number of tax processing systems, which are currently unavailable,” said the IRS. “Several of our systems are not currently operating, including our modernized e-file system and a number of other related systems. The IRS is currently in the process of making repairs and working to restore normal operations as soon as possible. We anticipate some of the systems will remain unavailable until tomorrow.”

The IRS says it’s confident that it will have the system restored by the weekend and that any refund delays will be minor.

Related: IRS Having One of Those Days (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern); TaxGrrrl, IRS Website Hit With Hardware Failure, Some Refund & Payment Tools Unavailable.

 

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Jason Dinesen, The Iowa Trust Fund Tax Credit is $0 for 2015

Robert Wood, Perfectly Legal Tax Write-off? Lawyer Fees — Even $1,200 An Hour

Russ Fox, A Tale of Three States. “Hawaii, Indiana, and Mississippi are three states where daily fantasy sports (DFS) is being debated. The three states are representative of what is likely to occur in every state.”

Keith Fogg, Verification of Bankruptcy Action in a Collection Due Process Case (Procedurally Taxing). “Because Appeals employees often have very little knowledge of bankruptcy, this case points out the need to pay careful attention in CDP cases that follow bankruptcy actions and challenge verifications where the Appeals employee fails to acknowledge the impact of the bankruptcy case.”

Bob Vineyard, Aetna Not Pulling Plug on Obamacare …. Yet (InsureBlog). Many Iowans get coverage through Aetna’s Coventry unit. But as the company expects to lose $1 billion over two years on Exchange policies, their willingness to continue to provide ACA – compliant policies on the exchange will be sorely tried.

Jack Townsend, Another Taxpayer Guilty Plea for Offshore Account Misbehavior

Peter Reilly, Tax Dependency Exemptions For Noncustodial Parents – It Is All About Form 8332. It really is. Form 8332 provides a way for couples to continue fighting long after the divorce is final.

Jim Maule, “Can a Clone Qualify as a Qualifying Child or Qualifying Relative?”

 

Scott Greenberg, The Tax Benefits of Having an Additional Child (Tax Policy Blog). In case your decision hinges on this.

Renu Zaretsky, Debates, Energy, Credits and PrepToday’s TaxVox roundup covers tonight’s Democratic Debate, energy tax policy, and a shutdown of 26 Liberty Tax franchise operations in Maryland.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 1,001

 

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Is Hip, Cool Des Moines Really Attracting Migrants? (Lyman Stone). I haven’t seen any local media pick this up, but this is a fascinating look at migration and population patterns Downtown and across Polk County. It is inspired by the recent Politico piece on how hip and all we are (emphasis in original):

In fact, throughout the article, there’s an interesting claim made that the population of downtown Des Moines has risen from 1,000 at some unspecified time in the 1990s, to at least over 10,000 as of 2016. In fact, throughout the article, there’s an interesting claim made that the population of downtown Des Moines has risen from 1,000 at some unspecified time in the 1990s, to at least over 10,000 as of 2016.

The claim turns out to be exaggerated, but only a little:

Downtown Des Moines probably did not gain 10,000 residents from the late 1990s to 2016, nor does it seem likely that it had just 1,000 residents at any time in the last few decades. However, that doesn’t mean the essential claims of Woodard’s story are wrong. Au contraire, Des Moines has gained about 10,000 people since 2000, and has about 9,000 more people than we would expect had 1987 growth rates continued. That’s a meaningful acceleration in urban growth, and a significant number have been headed to the very center of the city.

It’s a great read with some surprising observations about how suburban and downtown growth complement each other.

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Tax Roundup, 1/26/16: Tempt not your tax pro. And: Airbnb, Buzz, and inspiring emails from the boss!

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016 by Joe Kristan

dimeIf only she had taken an IRS-approved ethics continuing education course. Accountant charged in $1M embezzlement case (Herald-Dispatch.com):

HUNTINGTON – A local accountant is charged with 953 criminal counts accusing her of embezzling more than $1 million from at least one client’s account over a five-year period, according to criminal complaints filed by the West Virginia State Police.

Kimberly Dawn Price, 57, of Huntington, was arraigned Friday on 302 counts of embezzlement, 326 counts of forgery, and 325 counts of uttering at Cabell Count Magistrate Court.

There’s so much that has gone wrong here. For example:

According to criminal complaints, Price, while employed as a staff accountant at the Huntington-based firm Hess, Stewart, and Campbell, PLLC, was directly in charge of the account of Elizabeth Caldwell, a Huntington woman who died in the fall of 2015.

That’s a lot of authority for a staff accountant. I don’t understand, though, why anybody would give their outside accountant full access to their checking accounts. Or why any accounting firm would ever want its employees to deal with that sort of temptation. To be sure, the partners may not have known she had the client checkbook.

When hiring a tax pro, you want them to do a good job of preparing your return, helping you comply with the tax law, and getting you refunds when they are due. It’s not their job to spend it for you. They don’t need your checkbook.

 

Let us operate in your town, you’ll be glad you did. Airbnb, the online facilitator of private short-term rentals, not long ago announced that it would work with states and localities to collect lodging taxes. I suspected that they would use the lure of revenue to convince reluctant municipalities to allow them to operate. Yes, there are silly municipalities, like my own West Des Moines, who prevent people from renting their homes out for, say, the Iowa Caucus crowd.

Now Airbnb seems to confirm my suspicions with their new report, AIRBNB: Generating #2 BILLION IN POTENTIAL TAX REVENUE FOR AMERICA’S CITIES.

Just the sort of argument that carries weigh in city halls everywhere.

 

buzz20150827The bees may be quiet for the winter, but Robert D. Flach is Buzzing! Today’s Buzz covers 1095-Cs, retirement savings, state anti-fraud measures, and a certain national tax prep franchise.

Russ Fox, FTB’s New MyFTB Impresses; Will the IRS Take Heed?:

If you’re a tax professional who deals with California clients or a California taxpayer, I urge you to enroll in MyFTB. I’m very impressed. I may rag on the FTB (especially in the enforcement area) but from my point of view MyFTB is a model to be emulated by the rest of the country.

California has made it easier for practitioners to get powers of attorney online.

Robert Wood, Married Filing Joint Tax Returns? IRS Helps Some Couples With Offshore Accounts. “The new rules are a welcome change. But they should still underscore the importance of deciding which disclosure program is right for you.”

Emily CaubleReforming the Non-Disavowal Doctrine (Procedurally Taxing) “I will refer to courts’ resistance to taxpayers’ attempts to invoke substance-over-form as the ‘Non-Disavowal Doctrine.'”

Jason Dinesen, Glossary: 529 Plan. “The term “529 Plan” is a generic name given to tax-advantaged savings accounts for college expenses.”

William Perez, Tips for a Tax-Efficient Divorce, Plus a List of What to Do First

Annette Nellen, Recent Tax Law Change Cautions

Kay Bell, Arizona proposal: a state tax credit for gun classes. Tax credits. Is there anything they can’t do?

 

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Scott Greenberg, How the Tax Code Discourages Investment, in One Statistic (Tax Policy Blog). “The results are disheartening: over time, U.S. corporations will only be able to deduct 87.14 percent of the cost of investments they made in 2012, in present value terms.”

Renu ZaretskyOutlooks, Deficits, Breaks and Moves. Inversions, deficits forever, and state budget battles.

TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 992

Sebastian Johnson, State Rundown 1/25: State of the States (Tax Justice Blog). “Read all about the latest tax debates in West Virginia, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. Plus a listing with links to State of the State addresses.”

 

News from the Profession. Confidential to a Certain Deloitte CEO: Millennials Don’t Need Any More Emails (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern)

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