All Articles Tagged "IRS"

Good News For Tax Day! Your Chances Of Getting Audited Are Very Slim (Unless You Make $1M)

April 14th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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We can all use a little good news with tax day on the horizon right?

One of the reasons to fear the IRS is the prospect of getting an audit. However, steep budget cuts since 2010 — $1 billion in budget cuts, to be exact — mean that the agency simply doesn’t have enough money to conduct a ton of audits. And the audits they are doing are more likely to be conducted on someone in a higher tax bracket. This might be the only time you’re happy that you’re not making a ton of cash.

One wealthy woman who isn’t happy about the IRS’ current state of affairs is Giselle Bundchen. Word is she made the Forbes list of wealthiest people for seven years in a row and ended up getting audited as a result. Named the richest supermodel in the world by raking in $42 million between June 2012 and June 2013, she says that figure is inaccurate and it brought unnecessary attention to her financial affairs. So the threat to rich people is very real. (I’m sure no one is crying crocodile tears over this.)

The only problem with this is that the budget cuts have also impacted the IRS’ ability to take your call. They’re responding to far fewer requests and call wait times have reached an average of more than 17 minutes in the last few years. If you need help (or know someone who does) and they make less than $52,000, are elderly, speak another language or have other extenuating circumstances, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) might be able to help. But be warned: There will probably be a wait on that as well.

Taxpayers Being Slammed With Fake IRS Agents Phone Scam

March 21st, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Watch who you talk to on the phone! Scam artists are calling unsuspecting folks and acting like Internal Revenue Service agents. So far, the con game has cost thousands of taxpayers more than $1 million. In fact, it’s the largest such phone scam the IRS has ever experienced, revealed the agency’s watchdog.

According to J. Russell George, Treasury inspector general for tax administration, more than 20,000 victims have been targeted by fake tax agents who tell taxpayers they owe taxes. They then demand that they pay using a prepaid debit card or via wire transfer, reports USA Today.

Victims are told they could be arrested, deported or lose their business or driver’s license if they do not pay, George said in a news release.

The IRS generally notifies taxpayers via mail first. Also real IRS agents would never demand a payment by debit card or wire transfer. Actually IRS agents don’t even ask for credit card numbers over the phone.

This scam, which has hit residents in almost every state, has been going on since last March, but will probably escalate while we’re in tax season. Sometimes the scam artists even know the last four digits of the Social Security number of the person they’re swindling. “They also use common names, fake badge numbers and follow up with official-looking e-mails,” reports USA Today.

Visit the IRS website to find out more about  tax scams and how to report them.

Tax Audit 101: What To Expect If You’re Contacted By The IRS

February 18th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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You’d be crazy not to dread a tax audit. One of the reasons for all the anxiety is IRS doesn’t let the general public know  the details of the auditing process. “For understandable reasons, the IRS insists on keeping the ins and outs of its auditing process on the murky side. How will you catch the bad guys if you give them the rule book first?” reports Yahoo! News.

The biggest myth is that only the wealthy get audited. Okay the rich do sometimes come under extra scrutiny, but low- and middle-income workers also get audited. “The agency is increasingly relying on data mining and robo-audit systems to detect errors in tax returns, which has actually made it easier to go after small-fish taxpayers,” reports Yahoo!

More than 6.5 million taxpayers who had an adjusted gross income of less than $1 million were audited last year. But the IRS audited fewer than 40,000 taxpayers with an income of $1 million or more. Actually, the IRS has reduced the rate of millionaire audits more than other income brackets. “Auditing rates for the under-$200,000 income club fell by only 0.14 percent between 2011 and 2013, compared with a 1.63 percent decrease in the rate of audits of those making $1 million or more…” reports Yahoo! Keep in mind: you can also be audited even after you get your tax refund.

Another myth is that once you get an audit notice from the IRS someone will come knocking on your door, hunting you down for financial info. Out of  6.5 million audits done in 2013, only 362,500 (or 5.5 percent), involved a visit from an IRS agent. Usually you’ll just get a letter requesting additional information.

The third major myth is that if you owe money, the IRS will demand it right away. It may take the IRS three to six years to follow up on questionable tax returns. As we recently reported, the IRS is underfunded and understaffed so they don’t have the manpower to act quickly.

Many people think that if they file for too many deductions and tax credits, they will get red flagged for an audited. This is myth #4. Not so, as long as the tax credits and deductions are justifiable. So take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit if you are eligible. As many as one-fifth do not. And be sure to take those home-office deductions. With more than 42 million Americans working as freelancers and independent contractors, the IRS expects these deductions.

If you are audited, there are various types of audits.

-Correspondence Audit: This is done  via mail and usually involves small-dollar amounts. The most common errors that will lead to a correspondence audit are: missing forms and schedules, illegible entries and mathematical errors. So make sure you have copies of all your receipts.

-Field Audit: “In a field audit, the examiner visits your home or business to verify the information on your tax return. For example, if you write off a massive amount of printer ink, a field examiner might want to know why you go through so much ink,” reports How Stuff Works.

-Office Audit: You will have to go to an IRS office. Bring all your documentation with you.

Following any type of audit, you will be given a 30-day letter  that explains the agency’s findings and an explanation of your right to appeal. You must respond within 30 days. If you appeal, it could take a year or more. After an appeal, the IRS will send you a 90-day letter, giving you that time period to request that your case go to  tax court.

Underfunded, Understaffed: The IRS’s Troubles Hurt Taxpayers

February 17th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Tried calling the IRS lately? I have. If you want a live agent, you’ll be on hold for 30 minutes and upward. Or you could get caught in a maze of automated requests.

In fact, 39 percent of people who called the IRS last year gave up before their call was answered, according to a revealing report by the IRS Taxpayer Advocate. And don’t look for the IRS to fix this anytime soon.  “Given our very limited resources, phone lines will be very busy, and there will frequently be extensive wait times,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said on the IRS’s YouTube video about the 2013 tax year.

IRS inefficiency is hurting taxpayers. Since they can’t get answers they need from the agency to do their own taxes, more people are paying  outside sources to prepare them. And for those who go it on their own, basic mistakes in filing may become fines, penalties, or liens.

The agency’s inability to meet customer demands for the past three years are due to Congressional cuts to the budget. President Obama requested $340 million due to the Affordable Care Act, but Congress has failed to come through.

The IRS Taxpayer Advocate says the agency allotted $172 million for customer service training in 2012, but now only has $22 million to train those same people. The IRS also lost 8,000 employees between 2010 and 2012, according to Edward Jenkins, tax director at accounting firm CBIZ MHM. And in the government’s fiscal year 2017, a whopping 70 percent of IRS executives and half of non-executives will be set to retire, he says.

“The online system is better than it used to be,” Koskinen says. “But you’re still going to end up with 15 to 20 million calls unanswered this year.”

The IRS is even backlogged in dealing with notices they have sent out to taxpayers. “The IRS sends you a notice about an issue on your tax return, you respond, and they send a letter saying they will respond in 45 days,” Jeffrey Porter, chairman of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ tax executive committee, tells USA Today.

Jenkins says the agency needs to update its systems so its 22 departments can communicate. Some parts of the IRS still use the antiquated DOS system.

And the agency just isn’t making money. It collects $255 for every $1 it gets in its budget. Voluntary compliance rate is around 83 percent; 17 percent of tax revenue is uncollected. In 2006, this equaled $450 billion.

With a complicated tax code that changes every year, what’s a confused taxpayer to do?

Don’t Mess With Uncle Sam’s Money: Flo Rida In Hot Water For Owing $1.2 Million In Unpaid Taxes

January 15th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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 JLN Photography/WENN.com

JLN Photography/WENN.com

Uncle Sam has Flo Rida’s head spinning “right round” with a whopping $1.2 million tax lien. The Wild Ones rapper, whose real name is Tramar Lacel Dillard, is accused of owing the IRS large sums of cash between 2009 and 2011, Radar Online reports.

The legal document, acquired by Radar, was filed on Jan. 2; the federal record states that Dillard is behind on three payments:  $343,317.03 in 2009,  $10,245.41 in 2010,  and $844,093.00 in 2011. Altogether, the Right Round musician owes the taxman $1,197,655 — and 44 cents.

“We have made a demand for payment of this liability, but it remains unpaid. Therefore there is a lien in favor of the United States on all property and rights belonging to this taxpayer for the amount of these taxes, and additional penalties, interest, and cost that may accrue,” the federal filing stated.

This isn’t the first time Flo Rida was singled out for unpaid taxes. In 2012, the rapper owed the IRS $1,040,777.45 and there was a lien against his 2.3-acre Miami estate, according to Gossip Extra.

The chart-topping artist is one of the many, in recent years, who have gotten on Uncle Sam’s bad side including Kelis, Damon Dash, Faith Evans, Fat Joe, Jurmaine Dupri, and Mary J. Blige. It’s getting a little ridiculous, isn’t it?

Take The Whole Gang Out To Dinner! Why You May No Longer Pay Gratuity On Big Group Checks

December 30th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Once upon a time, when a waiter served a large group of hungry mouths, he or she pocketed automatic gratuities, tips that are usually 18 percent of the customers’ bill. Now, the IRS no longer recognizes gratuity fees as “tips.” They are now “service charges” and are considered regular wages and subject to payroll tax withholding.

With this new law, effective January 1, servers won’t get to see their “tips” until payday. And according to TheBartendingMasters, “Restaurants have to withhold Medicare taxes, Social Security and federal income also.” As this will increase payroll taxes for the employer, you may no longer see “18 percent gratuity” on your next restaurant bill.

The IRS believes that forcing a customer to pay a specific extra payment isn’t a tip. It’s simply a service charge added by the management. A tip, in the IRS’ eyes, is as follows:

1.    The customer’s payment must be made free from compulsion;
2.    The customer must have the unrestricted right to determine the amount;
3.    The payment should not be the subject of negotiation or dictated by the employer policy;
4.    And, generally, the customer has the right to determine who receives the payment.

In plain English, customers shouldn’t feel obligated to pay a tip. They should be able to decide how much tip to pay and customers should be able to decide who should get said tip.

Some commenters under TheBartendingMasters site seemed pleased with IRS’ new ruling: “I think it is rude to tell me what I should tip, tips are based on service not expectations,” a poster named Beth said.

This person, however, isn’t on the same page:

“All too often, large tables order up a storm, and then when the bill gets there and they realize how much they’ve spent, they decide, ‘ooh, well I don’t have enough for a tip now. 10% is all I can afford,’ and the server gets the short end of the stick,” a poster named Andrew said. 

As many restaurant workers currently live on $2.13 an hour, servers often rely on customers to subsidize their income. By 2014, as gratuity fees start to disappear, waiters and waitresses may experience a greater drought in tips. While this should be incentive for all wait staff to step up their game, diners, don’t be cheap. Minimum of 15 percent, but more like 18 percent should be the rule for good service.

This new law was implemented back in June of 2012, however it was delayed until 2014 to give employers enough time to adjust to the IRS’ new ruling.

No Money, Mo’ Problems: MC Hammer Sued By The IRS For Almost $800K!

December 8th, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"MC Hammer pf"

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So Mc Hammer looks to be having money troubles again and this time, the IRS is on his back over taxes from over 15 years ago.

According to TMZ, “Uncle Sam” has filed a lawsuit against Hammer (real name Stanley Burrell) for close to $800,000 in unpaid taxes.

If you can believe it, the lawsuit is based on his unpaid taxes from 1996 and 1997. If memory serves correctly, he’d already had huge financial problems years before the mid-90s, so to be that far in debt with the IRS shows that he still hadn’t really gotten it together.

According the documents leaked to TMZ, the IRS now wants every dollar Hammer makes in order to pay the $798, 033.48 bill.  We haven’t heard much from him over the last few years; for years, he’s been trying to make different web based projects work but none have seemingly been overly successful in recent times.

We’re not quite sure what he’ll do to pay the IRS back but make no mistake, they will get their money. Perhaps his team can talk to someone who produces celebrity reality shows and he can get on there to not only make a check, but also to become visible again. Hmmm, Dancing With the Stars, anyone?

So far, no comment from Hammer.

How To Create A Nonprofit Organization

November 6th, 2013 - By Candace Smith
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Source: Shutterstock

Maybe you’re thinking that you don’t have enough capital or connections to making the world a better place for your children and grandchildren. Think again! In all worthwhile endeavors, one must start small to reap big rewards in the future. If you have ever dreamed of creating your own nonprofit charity or philanthropic foundation, read on for our nine tips to push you on your way.

MN Business Tip Of The Day: Get Started On Your Taxes Early!

October 28th, 2013 - By Candace Smith
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As we approach the month of November, you’re going to spend your days soon thinking about holiday shopping, decorations, and dinner table place cards. But, don’t forget about your taxes. In fact, it would be best to go ahead and not only start thinking about them, but to begin organizing your paperwork now for early filing.

Because of this year’s government shutdown, the IRS will not begin to process tax returns until one to two weeks after the originally planned January 21st date. If you’e expecting a return and need that money ASAP, you should act in advance. Just because the government is behind schedule does not mean that you should be. Tax season officially starts in December and you will still be able to send your tax returns at any time. Keep ahead of the game and continue to prepare on time — or early — so you’re not pulling your hair out when we’re talking about how close we are to April.

The IRS Says Michael Jackson’s Image is Worth $434 million– And They Want Their Cut

August 29th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Michael Jackson's Image

Taxing a dead man? Well, kind of. The Internal Revenue Service is trying to figure out just how much the image of  Michael Jackson is worth.

“There’s a big disparity over Jackson’s image, as well as his recording legacy. The late singer’s estate said the taxable value of his image and likeness was $2,105 — while the IRS says it’s more like $434 million. The estate’s stake in Jackson’s recording assets was valued at $469 million by the IRS, but was not even included in a 2009 estate filing,” reports CNBC.

And get this, the IRS claims the Michael Jackson estate owes $702 million in federal taxes, plus penalties, according to charges the agency brought in U.S. Tax Court.

The agency claims the estate has undervalued the late “King of Pop’s” assets, amounts they charge were not disclosed in a court challenge the estate filed in July, as a response to a bill from the IRS.

But according to Alex Raskolnikov, a professor at Columbia Law School, who specializes in tax law, there is no exact formula the IRS uses to determine the value of assets. “When there is an audit and a valuation of substantial assets (over $50,000), they will use a panel of experts,” he told NBCNews.com.

When Jackson died on June 25, 2009, he left his estate to his mother Katherine, his three children and various charities. At the time, his estate was valued at $7 million, for tax purposes. The IRS disagrees. It said that was deficient by $505.1 million, plus penalties of $196.9 million.

A spokesperson for the Jackson estate told  Reuters that the IRS figures were “based on speculative and erroneous assumptions unsupported by the facts or law.”

Thus far, the Jackson estate has covered $100 million in taxes.

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