Tax Blog

Filing an Amended Income Tax Return

Written on: April 27th, 2017

National Tax Day has come and gone, but tax season is far from over. Now is the time when taxpayers realize they may have missed an important credit or deduction, or worse, failed to report a source of income when they originally filed their income tax return. Don’t worry. Amending a federal income tax return is more common than you may think.

In order to make changes to a tax return that has already been filed, you must file an amended return using a 1040X Form. This form is used to correct previously filed Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. An amended return must be filed within three years from the date you filed your original return or within two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.

It is not necessary to file an amended return if you forgot to attach W-2s, schedules or other tax forms. The IRS will send a letter requesting these items later. They will also correct simple math errors you may have made, so there is no need to make the corrections and file again.

The Law Office of Thomas Hogan is a tax specialist who is prepared to help in your time of need. Feel free to contact us if you are in need of help with filing an amended return or any other issues with the IRS. Call (209) 492-9335 to speak with our Modesto California Attorneys.

What Is an “Offer In Compromise”?

Written on: January 7th, 2016

If you have already spoken with an attorney and determined that bankruptcy will not discharge all of your tax debt, and an installment agreement is not a feasible way to satisfy your remaining tax debt, then you will want to try to make an Offer In Compromise to the IRS.

What Is an “Offer In Compromise”

An offer in compromise is an agreement between you (the taxpayer) and the IRS that settles a tax debt for less than the amount owed.  Like bankruptcy, it gives the eligible taxpayer a chance to satisfy their tax debt and get a “fresh start” with respect to the tax debt.

Why Would the IRS Accept Less than What Is Owed?

When a troubled taxpayer prioritizes between buying food, paying the mortgage or paying taxes – taxes often got the short shrift.   Nonetheless, that tax debt continues and continues to grow.

Three tax consequences often accompany an economic downturn and rapid changes in asset ownership and/or income, and these consequences also form the bases for the IRS accepting an offer in compromise:

  1. Doubt as to collectability
  2. Doubt as to liability
  3. Effective tax administration

Doubt as to Collectability:  If taxpayer’s assets and income are less than the full amount of the tax liability, then the IRS has doubt as to collect-ability, and is authorized to negotiate and accept an offer in.

Doubt as to Liability:  Rapid economic change comes with chaos, and tracking income and tax liability across a shifting economic landscape is not easily accomplished.  As a result, a genuine doubt as to tax liability can result.   Here again, the IRS is authorized to investigate and accept an offer in compromise when there is doubt as to liability.

Effective Tax Administration:  This last basis for accepting an offer in compromise takes more of a public policy perspective on the tax administration process, and determines whether the taxpayer would suffer “economic hardship” or whether accepting a compromise would promote effective tax administration where the taxpayer provides a “compelling public policy or equity consideration” to support such compromise.

“Economic hardship” is a legitimate basis for an offer in compromise where the taxpayer can show that although full collection of tax debt could be achieved, it would cause the taxpayer “economic hardship” as specified in the Treasury regulations.

“Compelling public policy or equity considerations” require the taxpayer to demonstrate exceptional circumstances which render the collection of the full tax liability as an act that undermines the public confidence that the tax laws are being administered in a fair and equitable manner.

These are the reasons why the IRS might accept an offer in compromise, but a taxpayer must do his or her due diligence before being eligible to submit such an offer.

Are you eligible to submit an offer in compromise?

If you wish to submit your offer in compromise, you must first:

  1. File all tax returns you are legally required to file;
  2. Make all required estimated payments for the current year; and
  3. Make all required federal tax deposits for the current quarter if you are a business owner with employees.

Note – If you are in an open bankruptcy case, then you are not eligible to submit an offer in compromise.  You must first address the pre-petition tax debt through the bankruptcy case, and thereafter address any outstanding tax debt once the bankruptcy case closes.

It is important to be aware of this partial list of concerns when submitting an offer:

  1. Penalties and interest will continue to accrue during the offer evaluation process.
  2. Besides the continuing penalties and interest, the IRS can also file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien during the Offer investigation; however, unless a jeopardy situation exists, a request for a Tax Lien will not usually be made until after the final determination has been rendered.
  3. You cannot make an offer that is only for a tax year or tax period that has not been assessed.
  4. Any tax refunds or money from a levy served prior to you submitting an offer, will be applied to the tax liability.
  5. Any payments made with an offer or during the course of the offer investigation will be applied to your tax liability, whether the offer is accepted or not.
  6. If your offer is accepted, you must continue to file and pay your future tax obligations as they become due for the next 5 years.  If you fail to do so, your offer may be defaulted and the compromised tax debts, including penalties and interest will be reinstated.

Making the Offer:

There is an application fee of $150 required when submitting your offer.  However, this fee can be waived for individuals meeting the Low Income Certification guidelines.  If the fee is not waived, it will not be returned to the taxpayer, but will be applied to the tax liability.

The Offer in Compromise can be made in a couple different ways:

  1. Lump Sum Cash:  requires that 20% of the total offer amount be paid at the same time the offer is submitted.  The remainder will be paid within 24 months in accordance with the offer terms.
  2. Periodic Payment:  requires that the taxpayer make an initial payment with the offer, and then make continuous payments on the remaining balance over a period of not more than 24 months in accordance with the proposed terms of the offer.

This is a good stopping point.  The general benefits and considerations of the Offer In Compromise have been laid out.  But making an offer in compromise is a complicated undertaking, and there are IRS forms to be completed and supporting documents to be gathered.  You should become very familiar with the IRS website or obtain the services of a tax professional when getting ready to make an offer in compromise; but be leery of fly-by-night tax outfits.  Obtaining the services of an experienced and knowledgeable attorney is a smart choice.

Personal Income Tax Debt: Can Bankruptcy Help?

Written on: December 17th, 2015

No creditor knocks quite as loudly as the Internal Revenue Service when they come to collect.  The consequences of not timely paying your personal  income tax debt can result in the seizure of your personal property, levying of your bank accounts, garnishment of your wages , and/or foreclosure of real property.

You may be considering bankruptcy as a way to discharge your personal income tax liability, but before you rely too heavily on bankruptcy to discharge that tax debt completely, you need to ask yourself some important questions to determine what portion of your tax debt can be discharged.

Rather than listing what tax debt is dischargeable, it is more efficient to identify which income tax debt is not dischargeable:

  1. Priority income tax debt is not dischargeable.  Several types of this non-dischargeable tax is identified in bankruptcy code section 507(a)(8)(A).  Priority status of tax debt often relies heavily on timing, and includes:
  • Taxes for which a return, if required, is last due, including extensions, on a date more than 3 years before the date that the bankruptcy case was filed.For example,  if Mary Smith filed bankruptcy on July 4, 2015 and she listed tax debt for tax years 2010, 2011, and 2012.  If no tax filing extensions were obtained, then the 2010 and 2011 tax debts would be dischargeable in Mary’s bankruptcy case because those tax returns were due by April 15 of the following year: i.e.  2010 tax return due by April 15, 2011 and 2011 tax return due by April 15, 2012.  Because April 15, 2012 is the latest date that either of these returns was due,  and that date is more than 3 years before the date that the bankruptcy case was filed, then the 2010 and 2011 tax debt is dischargeble.  

Now consider that Mary received an extension until October 2012 to file her 2011 tax return.  As a result of the extension, the last date the 2011 return is due is less  than 3 years from the filing date of the bankruptcy case. Consequently, the 2011 income tax debt is no longer dischargeable in the bankruptcy case.   The 2012 income tax was due by April 15, 2013 and was never eligible for discharge in a bankruptcy case filed on July 4, 2015.

  • Priority debt also includes any tax assessed within 240 days before the filing date of the bankruptcy case, exclusive of-
  • Any time during which an offer in compromise with respect to that tax was pending or in effect during that 240 day period, plus 30 days; and
  • Any time during which a stay of proceedings against collections and arising out of an earlier bankruptcy filing was in effect during that 240 day period, plus 90 days.
  • Tax debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy for tax years for which:
  • returns were never filed;

Note – late filed returns should be reviewed thoroughly with an attorney to determine the circumstances and timing, and whether that tax is likely to be deemed dischargeable.

  1. Tax debt is not dischargeable with respect to returns in which the debtor fraudulently filed a return or willfully attempted in any manner to evade or defeat such tax.

It is tempting to believe that any tax debt not described here as non-dischargeable is therefore dischargeable, but this conclusion will not always be true.  Always seek legal advice when you need greater clarity regarding your specific circumstances, and especially when the amounts at issue are large.

Wage Garnishments: What can be done?

Written on: December 10th, 2015

A wage garnishment is the most common type of garnishment. It is the process of removing money from an employee’s monetary compensation­ it can also includes a garnishment on 1099 income.

Garnishments are the result of a court order, abstract or judgment or lien for an outstanding balance to a creditor and the wage garnishment will proceed until the debt is paid in full or alternative arrangements are made to pay off debt.

Like most creditors, the IRS has the authority to garnish your wages for outstanding taxes owed. But, not to panic, there are many solutions that can take care of your wage garnishments. Below are top 3 ways to handle wage garnishments for tax debts that you owe.

  1. Setting up a payment plan to pay the taxes owed over a period of time; while writing a check in full to the IRS is most ideal, many cannot afford to pay all at once, which is understandable, making payments is much more affordable and possible and the installment agreement is based on your financial ability to pay – if you are going through a hardship, the IRS may even deem your account as noncollectable for up to a year which means your wage garnishment would stop and they would hold off on collections until your financial situation improves.
  2. If you do not show an ability to make monthly payments an OIC may be an option, known as an Offer in Compromise (OIC); we review your financial situation to determine if an OIC is possible and in your best interests.
  3. Filing for bankruptcy is also an option­ our office would review your liabilities to see if a bankruptcy filing could alleviate your tax liabilities. The bankruptcy filing would immediately stop the wage garnishment and give you breathing room in order to be able to set a payment plan after the bankruptcy case is discharged.

While a wage garnishment may seem overwhelming and impossible to overcome, there are actually many options that our office can offer to help deal with outstanding tax debts. The Law Offices of Thomas P. Hogan works with the IRS every day on behalf of our clients to resolve issues that seem overwhelming and impossible. We work hard for our clients to provide the best possible service and optimum results. Our group of lawyers and experts will make sure that your tax issues are taken care of in a timely matter in order to get you back on track and out from under the oppressive burden of back taxes.

Fresno, CA — The athletes from the United States who are participating at the 2012 London Olympic games are doing a hell of a good job winning the gold at various events. Most of these athletes are instant hometown heroes and people are excited to see them back on American soil and so does the IRS.

It is not common knowledge that athletes who perform at the Olympics and win medals receive an honorarium from the Olympic committees of their home countries. According to Forbes, European countries are pay huge bucks for people who bring home the gold. Italy provides the biggest medal bonus at more than $182,000. This is followed by Russia who is willing to give $135,000 to whomever brings home that golden bacon and even bronze winners get to take home $54,400. Ukraine also shells out the big money for gold medalists at $100,000, $75k for silver, and $50,000 for bronze. But unlike these nations that are generous in the pocket and are willing to shell out sums of money for the big winners, the United Kingdom can be considered quite the opposite. The host nation can be considered the worst when it comes to bonuses for its athletes because they do not pay any incentives.

Meanwhile, the United States has a more modest compensation for its top performers: $25k for gold, $15k for silver and $10k for bronze. But in America, honorariums are considered taxable income. These athletes will come back home, wave to the cheering crowd and a few lucky ones might even meet the president or be offered those deal of a lifetime endorsements but after the hoopla has died down, the IRS will come knocking at their door and hit them with more or less $9,000 worth of taxes.

For gold medal winners, Uncle Sam would probably charge $8,986 in taxes. These taxes will cover the value of the medal which roughly costs $620.80 (the medal is gilded with plated gold, minimum of 6 grams) and the $25,000 honorarium. But this tax liability figure is based on the notion that the taxpayer is paying a 35% tax rate which is applicable to people who are earning within the area of $388,350 per year. You may have won the gold medal but if you are not in the league of a Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte who both have lucrative endorsement contracts and compete at big money-making events, you will not be hit with that much tax.

Since it is election year, politicians have blown it out of proportion and has made it into issue for debate. But some of them do have a point, the issue of the honorariums and gold medals being taxable income is quite complicated and is still a gray area when it comes to the tax code.

Sen. Marco Rubino (R-Fla.) is proposing a bill that will abolish the federal government’s imposed tax on honorariums and gold medals earned by athletes at the Olympics. According to the senator, such taxes punish those who strive to succeed. But in order to do this a loophole has to be discovered or created in the tax code that will justify why honorariums are a unique or special form of income and should not be considered as regular income in order for it to be exempted.

But everyone is jumping in on the issue right now and giving their two-cents on the issue. It is no longer simple to just bring home the bacon because Uncle Sam also wants to stick a fork on the athletes to make sure they’re done.

San Francisco, CA — After his speech at the NAACP which received a mix of applause and boos, GOP candidate Mitt Romney is headed back to the Golden State, mainly the San Francisco Bay Area for some Fundraising Shindigs, a day ahead of Obama.  This will be quite interesting since this area is the bastion of the Democrats and the GOP campaign will be setting up 3 big events on July 22 (Sunday) to generate money for Romney’s bid for the presidency this coming November 2012.

Romney's Headed for San Francisco For Some Fundraising ShindigsThe said events will not just be some  $1000++ per plate meal; it is reported that it is going to be  by invite only to selected well-heeled donors and it will be intimate with the promise of being  able to personally be thanked by the “next president.” The events will be consisted of a lunch and a dinner and it will be one expensive dinner at $50,000 per person.

The shi shi lunch will be around 2:30pm, location is the Woodside home of billionaire Tom Siebel, founder of Siebel Systems. The big GOP supporter recently donated $500,000 to support the campaign for the anti-union November ballot measure. This measure would prohibit the use of payroll deductions for campaign contributions. The unions are big contributors to campaigns like the California Professional Firefighters Ballot Issues Committee which contributed $1 million. Of course, the unions are doing this to lobby their interests and so do the big people who cut big checks to the candidates. No meet and greet for the average Joe and Jane. It’s the money doing the talking nowadays.

The “distinguished guests” to this event are Charlotte Maillard Swig Schultz(protocol guru), George Shultz (former Secretary of State) and his wife. The hosts listed for all 3soirees are: Scott McNealy(Sun Microsystems co-founder), Meg Whitman (Hewlett Packard CEO) and her husband Griff Harsh, Howard Leach (former Ambassador to France) and his wife Gretchen and TPG Capital’s Dick Boyce. The creme de la creme who will likely benefit once Romney becomes president.

Doing the sales pitch for this money-generating event is Howard Leach. He has implored to the rich donors that this is an important election and that their contributions are crucial and much needed. Leach stated this on his letter to the donors, “Gretchen and I just returned from Paris, the new President of France has increased taxes at all levels – we can’t let this continue here with President Obama.” Implied meaning, “Rich people cannot start paying their taxes, it is unacceptable.”

After the lunch event, Mitt Romney will then head to San Francisco for a more middle class event that will cost per person $2,500-$10,000 which will be held at the Fairmont (the original location was supposed to be the Ritz Carlton) around 4:45pm. This shindig will be hosted by Ed Hearst of Sybase, Peter McGowan (former SF Giants managing general partner) and socialites Alexis and Trevor Traina.

And to cap the day, around 6:30pm, another “intimate” dinner will be held at a private home in Pacific Heights. The event is called the “Barnett Dinner” and will be hosted by Roger Barnett, CEO of Shaklee Corp., and his wife. The same $50,000 price tag per head will be charged to people attending the dinner.

Fun fact, the limit for campaign contributions is $2,500 in both the primary and general elections. But with Romney’s campaign, they are able to receive donations of $50,000 per person. Their invite is able to explain where the money will go to: $2,500-(Romney for President primary account), $2,500(Romney for President general account), $30,800(Republican National Committee), remainder will be divided between the National Republican Senatorial Campaign (NRSC) and the National Republican Congressional Campaign).

After Romney’s fundraiser, Obama will also be heading to California on a 3 day fundraising campaign which will target the East Bay and will include a visit to the Fox Theater in Oakland and money raising event to be held at a private home in Piedmont.

Despite a couple cities declaring bankruptcy, the candidates are still going to invade California and conduct their fundraising campaigns. How will they address the issues that California is facing right now? People get your wallet and checkbooks ready …

Roseville, CA – Former heavyweight and cruiserweight Undisputed World Champion Evander Holyfield may have been able to dodge and endure all those hard pounding punches, including the infamous ear-biting incident match with Mike Tyson while he was still active in boxing and still came out victorious.

Evander Holyfield – Getting Knocked Out with Debt and Tax ProblemsThe tides have changed and Holyfield is still in a battle of sorts but not inside the ring; currently he is fighting the fight of his life to remain standing and not get knocked out by all of his debts and legal problems.

Evander Holyfield’s Debt Ridden Timeline:

June 8, 2012 – Entertainment media news outlet, TMZ, reports that Holyfield’s Georgia mansion was just sold. The 54,000 sq. ft. 234 acres mansion fetched for $7.5 million. It would have been a nice chunk of change except that the sale was done on an auction block. Evander’s property was foreclosed by the bank and the bad news is, the total amount of mortgage owned on the mansion amounts to $14,000,000 and he still owes almost half of that amount after the foreclosure and auction of his property. Additional bad news is that apart from the difference of the short sale, there is also the issue of more than $2,500 worth of foreclosure fees. That is more or less the tip of the iceberg because part of the proceeds from the auction sale is going to go to the IRS since Holyfield also owes Uncle Sam $200,000 worth of back taxes.

Not fully aware on how the foreclosure system works in Georgia but in California which is known as a title theory state, the owner does not hold the title of the property unless fully paid on the mortgage, instead, a trustee holds the deed of trust. Most common type of foreclosure is the “non-judicial foreclosure” and before anyone can foreclose on your property, you must be served a Notice of Default 3 months prior to the foreclosure proceeding.

Strange that he did not petition for bankruptcy, either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. He would at least have sought the protection of bankruptcy which will impose an automatic stay against his creditors.

June 2, 2012 – Evander has been sued by the GA Department of Human Services who represent his 18-year old daughter Emani Holyfield. The DHS is petitioning the court to garnish Holyfield’s wages and jail time if he fails to cough up a whopping $372,097.40 in back child support payments.

For 18 years, he had failed to pay a single cent in child support. If he was in California, the CA Department of Child Support Services would have suspended his driver’s license and also garnished his wages.

During his active career in boxing, Holyfield was making tons of money per fight. The lowest salary he received per bout was $600,000 and on top of that, athletes usually receive additional money from endorsements. Too bad for Holyfield that he failed to invest his money wisely while he skipped on paying his taxes and child support.

The bad thing is that even if he declares bankruptcy now, he can never really skip on back taxes and back child support, they are considered priority debts. The mortgage can be discharged in bankruptcy.

The biggest mistake that celebrities make is that when they are at the top of their game, they fail to save up for a rainy day, when the offers come down to a trickle, when they are no longer physically able to do the things they did when they were younger. As for Holyfield, he might end up getting knocked out from all the debt and he goes down for the count 1, 2, 3 ….

 

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