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Showing posts with the label taxes

Be Careful Claiming Your Charitable Deduction for 2014

The IRS loves to audit people who claim charitable deductions.  The reason is that there are very strict record-keeping rules when it comes to charitable deductions and most people are not aware of them so the IRS usually finds a way to disallow the deduction, which of course triggers increased taxes, penalties and interest.  Do not let this happen to you.

 Generally, to claim a charitable contribution deduction for gifts of $250 or more in cash or property to charity, donors must get a written acknowledgment from the charity.  This is usually not a big deal.  For donations of property, the acknowledgment must include, among other things, a description of the items contributed.  Typically the place you donate the property gives you a blank receipt.  So you need to fill it out and make sure you list all the items donate.  You also need to determine the value of the property contributed if it is not cash, which sometimes can cause problems if the amount determined is incorrect.

 The la…

Taxpayer Prevails against the Franchise Tax Board after Ex-Spouse Attempts to Destroy her Tax Relief Case

Just like the IRS, the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) also has a program to allow one spouse to be relieved of existing joint liabilities if that spouse can prove that she or he meets the requirements for "innocent spouse" relief. These types of cases whether at the IRS or FTB level can be hotly contested and the other ex-spouse can intervene and attempt to impede the determination to relieve the liability for the claimant spouse. In a recent case, McShea, California State Board of Equalization, No. 509192, April 22, 2014, released August 2014, a taxpayer demonstrated that the FTB erred in its denial of her request for innocent spouse relief from unpaid California personal income tax liabilities.

In the McShea case, the FTB initially granted the taxpayer complete equitable relief for 1993 and partial equitable relief for 1994. However, the taxpayer’s ex-husband appealed the grant of relief, arguing that they had agreed to share the tax liabilities for the tax years…

IRS Phone Scams Run Rampant - Tips to Keep Your Client Protected

The IRS has been issuing a number of alerts about telephone scams. I have personally had at least two clients who have been targeted by these phone scammers. Lucky for them I was able to warn them not to call them back and the phone scammers were unable to defraud my clients. Unfortunately, thousands and thousands of other people across the US have been the victims of these extremely slick phone scammers. They have defrauded people out of millions of dollars.

How it works is the scammers call people on their cell phone and home phones claiming to be employees of the IRS. They often demand money to pay taxes and threaten people by saying if you don't immediately pay they are going to seize their assets or have them arrested. Some may try to con you by saying that you're due a refund. The refund is a fake lure so you'll give them your banking or other private financial information. Don't be fooled by these scammers.

I have personally talked to the scammers after t…

IRS Increases the FBAR Penalty for People with Offshore Accounts

In efforts to increase offshore tax compliance, the IRS just made brand new changes to its current offshore disclosure programs.  The streamlined procedures have been expanded to accommodate a wider group of U.S. taxpayers who have unreported foreign financial accounts.  This is a very good thing because now more people can use the procedures than could have before.

The original streamlined procedures announced in 2012 were available only to non-resident, non-filers. Taxpayer submissions were subject to different degrees of review based on the amount of the tax due and the taxpayer’s response to a “risk” questionnaire.
The expanded streamlined procedures are available to a wider population of U.S. taxpayers living outside the country and, for the first time, to certain U.S. taxpayers residing in the United States. The changes include:

•Eliminating a requirement that the taxpayer have $1,500 or less of unpaid tax per year;
•Eliminating the required risk questionnaire;
•Requiring the taxpay…