The IRS has put together a handy list of publications that deal with significant life events that effect your tax life. Check it out here – and if you have further questions, give us a call.

February 3rd, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Recent headlines announced the “piercing” of Swiss banking secrecy laws to reveal many Americans owning huge, unreported income offshore.

But it’s not just the big guys who are subject to reporting: Any US citizen with ownership or control over an account or accounts worth more than $10,000 during the year must report them to the IRS. The purpose of these reports is to help the government identify folks who may have income from foreign sources that they are not reporting, as well as tracking money used or produced in illegal acts.

One customer of ours didn’t realize that since she and her brother had inherited an apartment building in Italy, and they had control of the bank account for the management of the building, that she was subject to the requirements even though the brother was an Italian citizen and she was only a “silent partner” in the business.

The deadline for filing the 2009 “Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts” (FBAR) is June 30th. The penalty for not reporting can be very heavy, including criminal penalties – so see a tax professional right away to determine if you need to file, and for help in correctly submitting the forms, or read more at Penalties range from a $10,000 fine to $100,000 or half the value of the account(s) and criminal penalties of up to $500,000 and 10 years in Federal prison — so make sure you are in compliance.

(originally posted at

May 10th, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

When a financial institution has money for you, and can’t find you, after a certain period of time that money has to be turned over to the state, under what are called “escheat” laws. This is true around the country.

We were recently surprised, on doing a search of some of our client’s names, to find that quite a few had unclaimed property. If you live or lived in California, you can search for yours at this web site : California State Controller.

If you find one, there’s a link on the page to print out the claim form. You can also do this for deceased individuals, if you are entitled to their claim, and a search engine is also available for businesses.

Outside of California, a good place to start is

Originally posted at

May 5th, 2010 at 10:23 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

The IRS has released an 80-page document outlining many commonly-used tax dodges. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true (like slave reparation credits) — it probably isn’t.

Anyone who tries to avoid paying taxes by claiming a slave reparation credit, or that paying taxes is voluntary or that an IRS agent’s badge was the wrong color can probably expect an unpleasant experience, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS issued an 80-page publication outlining some common tax dodges and the court cases disproving the attempts. To underscore the seriousness of the practice, the IRS said that anyone who uses such frivolous excuses and is convicted of avoiding paying their taxes will face fines of $25,000.

You can find the IRS publication THE TRUTH ABOUT FRIVOLOUS TAX ARGUMENTS here.

Originally posted at

February 6th, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Well here we go again. Rather than type in the entire list of tax deadlines, here’s a link to this year’s tax deadlines for the Federal government.

If you have any questions, or need help meeting these deadlines, be sure to give us a call!

(Originally posted at

January 14th, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Many folks don’t realize the level of training currently NOT required for tax preparers at the big chain tax preparation firms. Apparently the IRS is starting to think about what to do about the problem:

The Internal Revenue Service plans to regulate the nation’s tax-preparation firms, including H&R Block Inc., Jackson Hewitt Inc. and mom-and-pop shops.

The IRS said Monday it will require tax preparers to pay registration fees, pass an exam and complete 15 hours of education a year.

CPAs and attorneys are exempt from the rules; they already have stringent testing requirements for their licenses as well as heavy continuing education requirements — for example, CPAs must complete at least 40 hours per year in continuing education. At our firm, each CPA routinely completes at least 32 hours of coursework per year in taxation subjects.

Before you select a tax preparer, consider whether they are trained, licensed to practice before the IRS, and experienced at helping all kinds of taxpayers with the complexities of the tax code.

January 5th, 2010 at 11:57 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Staples Center has offered $20 million for the upcoming Mayweather-Pacquiao fight — but they aren’t going to get it, since that would mean the fighters paying upwards of 10.55% income taxes to the state of California. Even though this event could mean millions to the economy of Los Angeles, the negative incentives are so high that it’s likely that the fight will be held in Texas or Las Vegas — where there isn’t a personal income tax.

We really need to think about how California is funded. Driving all the rich away isn’t working very well.

Read more here.

December 15th, 2009 at 11:52 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

This just in: Received an email this morning purporting to be from the IRS. The top of the email had the IRS logo (sort of) along with the following text:

After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive 518.56$ tax refund under section 501(c) (13) of the Internal Revenue Code. Please submit the Tax Refund Request Form and allow us 3-9 days to process it.

Yours faithfully,
Sarah Hall Ingram, Commissioner

This notification has been sent by the Internal Revenue Service, a bureau of the Department of the Treasury.

Folks, this is a scam (there’s a link where I’ve bold-faced the “tax refund request form”).

The only tax refund request form I know of for an individual is Form 1040, in it’s varieties, including amended returns. The other lovely giveaway is the use of the dollar sign AFTER the amount; clearly it was written either by an idiot, or someone from outside the United States unfamiliar with common American usage.

If you take the 4 seconds to search Google for 501 c 13, the supposed code authorizing the refund, you’ll find that that code refers to cemetery companies — yet more silliness.

In case you don’t already know this, NEVER click on such a link.

The main takeaway for you, is the fact that the IRS NEVER initiates contact with a taxpayer via email. Ever. Period.

Tell your friends.

December 9th, 2009 at 10:48 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Resch [IRS spokesperson] reported that the qualifying purchase of the new car, light truck, motor home or motorcycle must have occurred between Feb. 17, 2009, and before the end of the year.

“A person can deduct the taxes paid on up to $49,500 of the (vehicle) purchase price … regardless of whether or not the taxpayer itemizes,” she said, but the deduction begins to phase down for taxpayers with an annual gross income of $125,000 for an individual and $250,000 for those filing jointly.

Many recent home buyers may be aware of the first-time home buyer federal housing tax credit on homes purchased in 2009, but fewer may be familiar with the move-up/repeat home buyer tax credit on homes purchased after Nov. 6.

First-time home buyers may qualify for a tax credit of up to $8,000 while repeat home buyers may qualify for up to $6,500 in tax credits, Resch said.

Read the full article here.

December 7th, 2009 at 11:28 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Before you think you might be off the hook for your taxes, reading that headline, know that they will eventually get around to you. In fact, with news like this, I would be surprised if the Service doesn’t request and get a fat new increase in their budget to plug this hole, especially given the current state of the Federal government’s finances.

According to the IRS, $23 billion in unpaid individual income tax debt existed in 2001, the agency’s most recent estimate. The notice phase is the first of the IRS’s three-phase process to collect unpaid debt. The IRS annually sends notices to millions of individual taxpayers for billions of dollars of unpaid tax debt. But Congress and others have questioned the effectiveness of the IRS’s collection process, the GAO noted.

Although the notice phase is a key part of the IRS’s approach and strategy for resolving billions of dollars of individuals’ unpaid tax debt, the IRS lacks certain internal controls to assure that notices to individuals are achieving the most benefits — such as debt collected or unpaid debt cases otherwise resolved — with the resources being used, according to the GAO. The IRS has no documented objectives for the notice phase and no performance measures to indicate how well the phase is performing in resolving debt cases or achieving other desired results.

Read more here

November 2nd, 2009 at 11:38 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink