Over the past decade, I have helped taxpayers collectively save hundreds of thousands of dollars, by enforcing their rights in the tax code.
SOLVING TAX PROBLEMS
Tax Audit Notices
I recommend taxpayers open all correspondence from tax authorities immediately and read notices carefully. Do not assume the notices are correct; often times they are completely wrong. One such notice was attempting to assess two hundred thousand dollars of tax liability for failure to report the sale of real estate. Once we were able to provide the cost information, the assessment was eliminated completely. Read and Respond!
The IRS assesses huge penalties if you make a mistake, pay late or don’t file timely, thought the IRS will abate penalties for reasonable cause. I have helped many Clients successfully abate penalties for late filing of tax returns and where good cause does not exist through the first-time abatement request. Don’t face those penalties alone!
State Tax Amnesty
Some jurisdictions, like the District of Columbia and New York, have tax amnesty programs, whereby non-filers can submit back tax returns. This can substantially limit taxes and penalties, so it always best to check with your state to determine if such a program exists before filing any back taxes. One Client was able to take advantage of these programs on his move from DC to NY, saving him tens of thousands.
State Tax Audits
Some states are eager to assess taxes on taxpayers they believe resided there, but do not assume these assessments are correct. Often taxpayers use an address on their federal return that is for state they don’t live in, causing great confusion if audited by that state. I have helped numerous taxpayers eliminate duplicative state tax assessments, through the use of state tax credits and by showing the filing wasn’t required altogether.
SAVVY TAX PREPARATION
Back Tax Returns
Some taxpayers neglect to file tax returns and are unsure how to proceed. One missed year can quickly snowball into several years of missed filings and refunds. Taxpayers are unsure how to proceed with catching up. Surprisingly, some taxpayers are actually due refunds though they can only go back three years for refund claims. Don’t Delay!
Amended Tax Returns
Taxpayers may discover a mistake on their tax return after it has been filed. I recommend fixing the mistake, so it doesn’t catch up with you later. Some amendments may actually be favorable and put money in your pocket. In several such cases, the taxpayers were renting property but neglecting to claim depreciation. This resulting in an overstatement of profit from the rental activity. Correcting this error was a good thing!
Taxpayers that file schedule C are subject to self-employment taxes. Ordinary and Necessary business expenses will reduce these taxes and many taxpayer are unclear what to deduct, how much to write off and what records are needed to prove the deduction if audited. Unless you constantly study tax code law, You are better off letting an experienced tax advisor handle this for you to make sure you are paying the legal minimum taxes due.
As if federal taxes weren’t complicated enough, Taxpayers may be subject to state taxes in multiple jurisdictions and unsure which to pay. Many taxpayers do not take the time to read state tax form instructions or understand the basic distinctions between domicile and residency. Additionally, most border states have reciprocity agreements that govern. I am constantly helping taxpayers claim refunds for taxes paid to wrong states, saving them thousands, before the statute of limitations expires.
TAX PLANNING ADVICE
Domicile v Residency
Many taxpayers have questions about which state is best to live or operate their business. Other taxpayers seek guidance on the necessary steps to change their domicile from one state to another. I have helped numerous clients save money, protect them on their decisions make sure they are paying taxes to the correct state.
Real Estate Transactions
Many clients have tax questions about the tax implications of buying or selling real property, including rental property. I have advised numerous clients on the timing of the exclusion on capital gains for living onsite, the decision to rent, sell or buy. Many cases involve non-citizens owning property subject to income tax and withholding on sale.
LLC S-Corp Election
Many taxpayers know it is a good idea to set up a limited liability company for their business, but often do not know which state to select. They also have questions on tax treatment and best practices for record keeping. Self-employed taxpayers who operate their business with an LLC may elect to tax their entity as a corporation. I do frequent consultations on potential tax savings as the taxpayer is not subject to self-employment taxes on owner draws not taken as salary.
Many self-employed taxpayers are not aware that they can established self-employed retirement plans, allowing for greater retirement plan contributions and thus greater savings. One Client was able to write-off his contribution for the tax year, yet fund this retirement plan after the filing of his tax return, which saved him thousands of dollars.
FOREIGN TAX ISSUES
Foreign Taxpayer Claims
Some non-resident (foreign) taxpayers are subject to 30% withholding on their investment income, particularly if they don’t provide a tax identification number (ITIN). Mistakenly, they assume this is the total taxes due, but by qualifying to file as a resident and providing an ITIN they are able to seek substantial refunds of their taxes withheld. This Client was pleased to receive tens of thousands of dollars they thought was long gone!
Some Foreign taxpayers who are selling real estate in the U.S. may be subjected to 10% withholding taxes on the contract price. Many foreign taxpayers do not know that this withholding requirement can be eliminated by calculating the estimate tax on the capital gain, if any, from the Sale. One Client was able to pocket nearly all surplus money at the Closing after the IRS accepted our tax calculation on the gain.
Many taxpayers who marry non-citizen spouses are unsure how to file their combined tax returns. Applying for a tax identification number for the non-citizen spouse enables the couple to file a joint tax return, with the more favorable joint tax rates and allowing for greater tax savings. Taxpayers can also amend for this return as well!
Foreign Tax Credits
U.S. Taxpayers working overseas may be subject to foreign income taxes in certain Countries that are greater than domestic taxes. This results in substantial foreign tax credit carryovers that can be used to shield foreign source income when taxpayers move back to the U.S. Now my Client is able to work tax free when he travels abroad…Nice!