Should I Be Doing Any Special Year-End Tax Planning In Light of the Proposed Tax Legislation?

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Year-end tax planning with clients has been a staple in CPA practices for nearly as long as the tax code has been in effect.  With all the discussion of the proposed tax bills, in all their iterations and negotiations, and the seemingly endless crystal ball commentary on their effects, many have questioned whether they should be doing anything special this year, anticipating a significant change in current law.

Two significant disclaimers: first, tax planning is by its very nature highly personal and individualized, and never conducive to generalization.   For this reason, nothing in this article is meant or should be taken as general advice on actions any person should take immediately or over any given timeframe—it is merely meant to raise issues you may want to discuss with your tax advisor.  Any actions you take with the hope of receiving a particular tax benefit should only be done after careful discussion with a qualified tax advisor who has full knowledge of your individual circumstances.

Second, as of the posting of this article, nobody can tell you what the “Tax Overhaul,” if any, will actually look like after it has gone through the sausage-making process.  The House and Senate have each passed different bills, which are now being negotiated between the two.  Some top-level details of a claimed deal have been released, but as with most things, the “devil is in the details.”  And if the last six months have been any indication, what starts out as a sure thing often fails when the details come to light.  For that reason, nothing you have heard is a done deal, and you need to understand that even the best thought-out strategy may end up being moot in the end.

With that said, below you will find a non-exclusive list of issues you may want to discuss with your personal tax advisor, should you so choose:

  • Paying deductible expenses before year-end. To the extent tax planning has any axiomatic principles, one is to accelerate (pay sooner rather than later) any deductible expenses. Both bills have proposed changes to many personal itemized deductions (state and local income and property taxes, out of pocket medical expenses, mortgage interest, employee related business expenses, alimony, interest on student loans, teacher expenses, etc.).  But even under current law, most (if not all) of these deductions are subject to exceptions and limitations that vary based on your specific situation, and few (if any) result in a dollar-for-dollar tax savings.  Nevertheless, this is one area you may want to discuss in more detail with your advisors.
  • Defer income. The corollary to the above is that advisors will generally tell you to defer receipt of income whenever possible. Depending on your circumstances, this advice may be even more relevant this year.  Both bills propose a significant reduction in the corporate tax rate, as well as changes to the individual rate structure (and whether and to whom any potential benefit will accrue is still highly debated).  Therefore, to the extent that you might be entitled to a year-end bonus or other payments that can be delayed by a month or two, especially if it is business income, doing so may (but by no means is there a guarantee) be beneficial. There are, however, specific rules relating to the timing of income recognition (for instance, for cash basis taxpayers the date you receive a check, not when you deposit it, controls when you must recognize the income).  So again, a detailed conversation with your advisor not only about whether you should employ this strategy, but also how to employ it, is crucial.


  • Like kind exchanges. There have been discussions surrounding the Congressional negotiations that the like kind exchanges with respect to personal property, such as airplanes, vehicles, and equipment may be eliminated. Consequently, if you have been considering using the current like kind exchange rules to replace any item of personal property, you should discuss with your advisor potential timing issues before acting.
  • Carefully examine your estate plans. There are differences between the two bills presently being negotiated, ranging from complete repeal of the Estate tax, to an increased exemption. Therefore, if you are considering making a substantial gift (or dying), it may be advisable to hold off on doing so until the details of the any legislation (and actual passage thereof) come into clearer focus.
  • Alternative minimum tax. Under both proposed bills, the alternative minimum tax (AMT) will be eliminated. To the extent that you have items that give rise to alternative minimum taxable income, it may be advisable to wait until next year.
  • Business income & deductions. This is a mixed bag, although the proposed changes appear more advantageous than not. Under both bills, the corporate tax rates will be decreasing dramatically from a high of 35% to 20 or 21%. Likewise, it appears that pass through business owners may be given a tax break, as well. The changes in rates (to the extent they come to fruition) may create a stronger argument in favor of deferring income as much as possible.

Again, none of the above is absolute or written in stone at this stage, nor can the benefits of one strategy or another be determined without a careful examination of your individual facts and circumstances by a competent tax advisor.  So, be wary of anyone offering you advice on a “sure-fire” strategy without at least knowing all your individual details.

If you want to discuss your circumstances in more detail, call the attorneys at Anderson & Jahde, P.C. to set up an appointment.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 20th, 2017 at 11:19 am and is filed under Articles.

Mandatory Retirement Account Distributions

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

You faithfully make your annual contributions to your IRA or 401(k) accounts.  You’ve been doing this for years, maybe decades.  Can you keep your retirement funds in your account indefinitely?  Of course not.  You generally have to start taking withdrawals from your IRA, Simple IRA, SEP IRA, or other retirement plan account when you reach age 70 ½.  The following is an overview of the requirements.

The IRS requires all traditional IRA owners to withdraw at least a minimum amount from their IRAs.  The amount is referred to as a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD).  Your RMD will be included in your taxable income except for any part that was previously taxed (e.g. non-deductible IRA contributions).  Your first RMD must occur by April 1 following the year in which you reach age 70 ½.  Each year thereafter, the deadline for taking your RMD is December 31.  Thus, the first year following the year you reach age 70 ½ you will generally have two required distribution dates:  an April 1 withdrawal (for the year you turn 70 ½), and an additional withdrawal by December 31 (for the year following the year you turn 70 ½).  To avoid having both of these amounts included in your income for the same tax year, you can make your first withdrawal by December 31 of the year you turn 70 1/2 instead of waiting until April 1 of the following year.

If you miss a withdrawal or take out less than the required amount, the IRS may impose a 50% excise penalty tax on the shortfall.  For example, if your RMD for the year is calculated to be $10,000 and you do not take any distribution as required, the IRS may assess a penalty of $5,000 in addition to the requirement to withdraw the correct amount and pay any income tax due.

Roth IRAs are an exception.  They do not require mandatory withdrawals until after the death of the owner.  Also, a withdrawal from a Roth IRA cannot be used to satisfy your RMD requirement.  Another exception may apply if you work beyond age 70 ½.  You may be able to defer mandatory distributions from your current employer’s 401(k), 403(b), or other defined contribution plan, until April 1 of the year after which you retire.  Alternatively, your employer’s plan may require you to begin receiving distributions by April 1 of the year after you reach age 70 ½, even if you have not retired.  Also, if you own 5% or more of the business sponsoring the plan, then you must begin receiving distributions by April 1 of the year after the calendar year in which you reach age 70 ½.

To calculate your RMD for any year, you take the account balance of your IRA as of the end of the immediately preceding calendar year and divide by your life expectancy multiple provided in IRS Publication 590.  The life expectancy multiple is determined by your age and your spouse’s age, if applicable.  If you have more than one IRA, the minimum distribution regulations generally require you to calculate an RMD amount separately for each IRA.  You may add together the RMD amounts for all of your IRAs and withdraw the amount from any one or more of your IRAs.  However, if you have other types of retirement plans, such as a 401(k), you will need to take the RMD from each plan.  You cannot aggregate across various types of retirement plans.

RMDs continue after the account owner dies.  For the year of the account owner’s death, use the RMD the account owner would have received.  For the year following the owner’s death, the RMD will depend on the identity of the designated beneficiary.

A designated spouse has several options with respect to the account.  Spouses can treat an IRA as their own; base RMDs on their own current age; base RMDs on the decedent’s age at death, reducing the distribution period by one each year; or withdraw the entire account balance by the end of the 5th year following the account owner’s death, if the account owner died before the required beginning date.  With the latter option, a surviving spouse can wait until the owner would have turned 70 ½ to begin receiving RMDs.

Other designated beneficiaries can withdraw the entire account balance by the end of the 5th year following the account owner’s death, if the account owner died before the required beginning date, or calculate RMDs using the distribution period from the Single Life Table found in Appendix B of Publication 590-B.  RMD calculations from the Table will depend on whether the account owner died before or after the RMDs began.

These are some of the considerations to keep in mind as you approach age 70 ½ (or if you already are there), and have to start taking withdrawals from your traditional IRA or other retirement plan account.  As is often the case, understanding the requirements and tax consequences involved with required minimum distributions can be confusing.

At Anderson & Jahde, PC, we can help you navigate these waters and avoid penalties.  If you need help call Tom Hodel (303-782-0015) at Anderson & Jahde, PC.

This entry was posted on Sunday, December 10th, 2017 at 7:43 pm and is filed under Articles.

How Will an IRS Lien Affect Me?

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

If you have an outstanding balance due the IRS that remains unpaid after the IRS gives notice and demands payment, then a federal tax lien automatically arises.  The lien applies to all real and personal property of a taxpayer, including any after-acquired property.

To protect its interest in a taxpayer’s property against other creditors, the IRS may file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien (“NFTL”)—this is generally filed with the Secretary of State and the County where any real property is owned by the taxpayer.  The NFTL is publicly available information, but it will no longer show up on a taxpayer’s credit report (See If You Owe Money To The IRS, Your Credit Score May Be Going Up! posted on this website on August 1, 2017).

Once the NFTL has been filed, there are a limited number of ways a taxpayer can dispose of it.  One way is to pay the balance due in full.  If that occurs, the IRS will automatically release the NFTL within 30 days of full payment of the balances due in relation to the tax periods on the NFTL.  The IRS might also release a NFTL if the tax debt is paid through an Offer in Compromise.

Another way is to request the IRS “discharge” specific property from the NFTL.  This allows a taxpayer to transfer ownership of property to another person without the NFTL being transferred with it.  A discharge often occurs in real estate transactions.  For example, if a taxpayer is selling real property and the IRS will not be paid in full from the proceeds of the sale, then the IRS might agree to discharge (or remove) the NFTL from the real property, provided that all of the taxpayer’s equity in the home is paid to the IRS at closing. This allows the buyer to take the home free and clear of the NFTL.  A taxpayer must apply for a certificate of discharge and obtain approval from the IRS before the real property sale transaction will close.

The IRS might be willing to withdraw the NFTL, which removes it from public record altogether, either after the NFTL has been released (because the balance has been paid in full), or if a taxpayer is paying in an Installment Agreement and meets the following:

  • A Qualifying Taxpayer is an individual or operating business whose liabilities are for income taxes only (an out of business entity may qualify even though it has more than just income tax liabilities);
  • The “unpaid balance of assessments”[1] is below $25,000, which may be paid down to request the lien withdrawal;
  • The taxpayer agrees to enter a Direct Debit Installment Agreement that pays the liabilities in full in 60 months or before the statute of limitations on collection expires, whichever is earlier;
  • Must have made three consecutive monthly payments under the Direct Debit Installment Agreement;
  • Currently in compliance with all filing and payment obligations; and
  • May not have defaulted the current or any previous Installment Agreements (whether paid by Direct Debit or otherwise).

A taxpayer eligible for withdrawal can submit IRS Form 12277, Application for Withdrawal of Filed Form 668(Y), Notice of Federal Tax Lien to the IRS for consideration.  If the IRS agrees to withdraw the lien, it will record the withdrawal with the recording offices of where the Notice of Federal Tax Lien was filed and will send a copy to the taxpayer.

If you owe the IRS money, contact Anderson & Jahde for competent, professional tax help.

[1] Once a tax return is filed, the IRS will usually assess the amount of tax, plus any interest and penalties accrued to the date of assessment.  Generally, these amounts, less any payments and withholdings, comprise the “Unpaid Balance of Assessments.”  But after the initial assessment, if the balance goes unpaid, penalties and interest continue to accrue on the unpaid amount owing until it is paid in full, albeit they may not yet be “assessed.”  So, a taxpayer may owe $30,000, but the unpaid balance of assessments may still be under $25,000 for purposes of requesting a lien withdrawal.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 15th, 2017 at 9:43 pm and is filed under Articles.

Deadline To Make Late Portability Election Fast Approaching. Don’t Miss Out On this Estate Planning Opportunity—Act Before January 2, 2018.

Monday, October 30th, 2017

A “Portability” election allows a spouse to use their deceased spouse’s unused estate tax exemption by transferring the unused portion to their own estate plan. This will save death taxes from the estate when they later pass.  To utilize this benefit, a timely election is required to be made.  Taxpayers (and trustees, executors and PRs) who failed to meet the deadline for making the election now have a limited opportunity to fix the problem.  If you have a large estate (over $5,000,000) and lost your spouse sometime after December 31, 2010, the IRS has recently provided relief for you if you missed the deadline to make a portability election for your deceased spouse’s unused exemption amount.  See Revenue Procedure 2017-34.

Following the death of a spouse in a family with a large estate, many trustees and executors settling the estate do not realize that there is a requirement to file a federal estate tax return for decedent’s who are not subject to an estate tax.  They simply miss the deadline causing a costly tax mistake.  Often, this oversight is not discovered until the surviving spouse later passes away.  By then, it is too late to file for portability of any unused estate exemption amount from the first spouse’s death.  When the deadline is missed, it causes more estate tax due at the surviving spouse’s death.  Until recently, if this situation happened to you, the only avenue to correct the missed deadline was by submitting a costly request for the IRS to issue a private letter ruling allowing an extension to elect portability.

To help with this common oversight by trustees and executors—and to reduce the high volume of private letter rulings the IRS receives—the IRS first allowed retroactive portability claims under prior Revenue Procedure 2014-18.  But those rules lapsed at the end of 2014.  This year, the IRS issued a new Revenue Procedure, 2017-34, which grants a permanent automatic extension of the time to file an estate tax return, just to claim portability, beyond the original 9- month period.  To utilize this extension, the trustee or executor must file a not-otherwise-required Form 706 estate tax return within 2 years of the decedent’s date of death.

The IRS has also created an additional temporary opportunity to make a very, very late portability election for decedents who died after December 31, 2010, but you must act before January 2, 2018.  A surviving spouse (including same-sex married couples) may make a retroactive claim for portability for any spouse who passed away in 2011 or later.  In situations where the then-surviving spouse has also passed and has an estate tax due, an opportunity exists to retroactively claim portability, and then file an amended estate tax return for the second spouse who died.  Acting in this short window of relief may not only result in an estate tax savings at a surviving spouse’s death, but may even result in a refund of estate taxes already paid!

If you lost a spouse any time after 2010, or if both spouses have passed since 2010, and portability was not timely elected, there may still be time to take advantage of this IRS relief if you act before January 2, 2018.  Call us today to find out if we can help you with this estate planning tool.

This entry was posted on Monday, October 30th, 2017 at 9:42 pm and is filed under Articles.

If You Owe Money To The IRS, Your Credit Score May Be Going Up!

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

For years, the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) have been including tax liens and civil judgments on credit reports—which obviously have had negative implications on credit scores.  But recent efforts by consumer advocacy groups, citing numerous errors resulting from this practice, finally convinced these agencies to stop doing so.

As of July 1, 2017, these agencies started enforcing stricter rules on the public records they collect and report, now only reporting public records containing the person’s name, address and either Social Security Number or Date of Birth.  Since neither Social Security Numbers nor birth dates are included on Notices of Federal Tax Lien, these should no longer be included on future credit reports.  Hence, if you have had a Notice of Federal Tax Lien filed against you, you should soon see them drop from your credit report, with the consequential increase in your overall credit score.

When you will see the effect is still somewhat unknown, but it should be relatively soon.

There are, however, other ways to have Notices of Federal Tax Liens removed from the public record—specifically, lien withdrawal.  If these liens are keeping you from buying or selling an asset, or from obtaining a needed loan, call the attorneys at Anderson & Jahde, P.C. to see if you might be eligible for one of these programs.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017 at 5:25 pm and is filed under Articles.

Why Today’s Families Need Modern, Protective Estate Planning

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Blended families have become normal, with second and subsequent marriages often making up the modern American family.  They may have children from a prior marriage and children together.  Estate planning complications for these families can result in inheritance errors.   This can harm family relationships, and, in a worst-case scenario, end in costly litigation that can, and should, be avoided with careful planning up front.

If you are bringing both assets and children into a new marriage, you may want some, all, or most of your assets to go to your own children.  Or, you may choose to leave all your assets to your new spouse for care during his or her lifetime.  Perhaps you would prefer to leave assets to both your surviving spouse and their children from a prior marriage, to ensure that everyone will receive a portion of an estate.  Without a proper estate plan guiding your specific wishes, accidental disinheritances may happen.  The wrong people can get everything, and the people you love, who you wanted to inherit from you, can be left with nothing—often with no legal remedy to undo what has gone wrong.

In some situations, your surviving spouse is not legally obliged to pass along the inheritance you intended for your children.  Though it may seem unlikely now, what happens if, after you pass, your spouse and children grow apart, or they have conflicting interests down the road?  Without a protective estate plan your surviving spouse always has the option to execute a new Will or Trust and disinherit your children.  You may have a surviving spouse that is young, and may deplete most of your children’s potential inheritance, leaving little or nothing to be transferred to your children when your surviving spouse dies.  If you plan your estate carefully, you can protect the people you love, and avoid an accidental, or, intentional disinheritance by your surviving spouse—contrary to your wishes.

There are modern solutions to these now common estate planning problems.  In a modernly drafted Will or Trust, you can control your specific wishes and goals, and achieve your objectives regarding your spouse, and all your children, the way you choose.

Many blended families have used Trusts to address their estate planning objectives.  Trusts and subtrusts can be designed for the specific person who is to inherit specific assets.  The surviving spouse can receive income for their benefit throughout their life.  They can also be restricted from accessing the trust’s principal, which, ultimately, can then be transferred to your children upon the passing of your surviving spouse.  Another protection available in trust planning can prevent your surviving spouse from changing the terms of your planning.  This stops a surviving spouse from disinheriting your separate children.

Another tool for blended family planning can expressly state that, upon your death, your surviving spouse must provide specifically identified assets—money or otherwise—to your children, so your children do not have to wait until your surviving spouse dies to receive assets from you.  In this manner, your children are guaranteed to benefit from your estate.

Some families also choose to use life insurance, to designate death benefits payable to their children.  With life insurance, your children can receive a large cash sum immediately upon your death, and remaining estate assets can be left to support your surviving spouse if you wish.

Modern estate planning should address issues modern families face, and most importantly, your specific wishes.  At Anderson & Jahde, we understand and regularly help modern families with these complicated issues.  Call us when you are ready to plan for your family.   We are here to help you.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 at 2:36 pm and is filed under Articles.

How Long Can the I.R.S. Audit and Collect From Me?

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

There are two phases to a tax case: the first part is when the IRS conducts an examination to determine how much you owe (“examination”) and the second part is when the IRS tries to collect from you (“collection”).  Of course, if you filed your tax return and did not pay all that was shown as due, the IRS will seek to collect the balance even if there was no examination.

How long to examine?

The general rule is the IRS has three years from the later of the due date (including extensions to file) or the actual date you filed your return.  For example, if you filed your 2016 Form 1040 on March 11, 2017 (before it was due on April 18, 2017), the IRS has until April 18, 2020 (three years from the due date) to examine your return.  This is the later of the due date or the actual filed date.  On the other hand, had you filed your 2015 Form 1040 on that same date (basically a year late), the IRS would have until March 11, 2020 (three years from the filing date).  What this also means is that you generally only have to maintain most of your tax records for three years.

There are a host of exceptions to this basic rule.  The most onerous is that there is no statute of limitations to examine your return if it was false or fraudulent with the intent to evade tax.  Also, if no tax return has been filed, the three year statute of limitations on assessment does not begin until a return is filed.

How long to collect?

The general rule is that the IRS has ten years to collect following an assessment—an assessment is the recording of the tax debt (including penalties and interest) on the books of the IRS.  That period is extended by certain actions taken by the taxpayer, such as requesting a CDP Hearing, filing a bankruptcy, requesting an installment agreement or an offer in compromise.

Once an assessment is made, the IRS will begin the collection process by sending a series of notices demanding payment.  These notices get more and more threatening the longer you go without paying.  Taxpayers do have rights and can work with the IRS to resolve their liabilities.

In 1998, Congress added a safeguard against the over-zealous actions of the IRS and gave taxpayers the opportunity to have a hearing before the IRS can take such actions (referred to as a Collection Due Process hearing, or “CDP hearing”) in which it is possible to propose alternative methods of payment, such as an installment agreement (pay the balance over several years) or an offer in compromise (where the IRS might be willing to accept less than the full amount the taxpayer owes).  This is where good representation is essential.  Nobody wants to have the IRS levy on their property.

Near the end of the ten years, the government can go to court to extend the ten years by reducing the assessment to a judgment.  Depending on the laws of the state in which you live, collecting on the judgment can go on for many, many years.

If you owe the IRS money, contact Anderson & Jahde for competent, professional tax help.

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 11th, 2017 at 10:21 am and is filed under Articles.

Things to Consider Before Renting that Spare Bedroom

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Owning rental property used to be an endeavor of the wealthy.  But in the new sharing economy, legions of people have become mini-entrepreneurs.  Thanks to Airbnb and other sharing sites, anyone can easily offer up a couch, a spare room or the entire house for a short-term rental (usually defined as fewer than 30 days).  However, there’s more to renting out your extra space than simply pocketing the cash.  If you’re thinking of becoming a landlord in your own home, keep the following in mind.

First, you must navigate the various rules.  Start by checking with your homeowners association and neighborhood zoning laws to see if short-term rentals (STRs) are allowed and under what conditions.  Your city or county may also have restrictions and requirements.  For example, Denver requires property owners to obtain a Short-Term Rental license.  The city also requires renters to pay a 10.75% Lodger’s Tax, Occupational Privilege Tax, and any other applicable taxes or fees associated with their rentals.  Aurora recently approved legislation that requires property owners to obtain a STR license that must be renewed every two years.  Owners also must pay the city a per-guest lodging tax of about 8 percent.  Boulder allows STRs, but only for 120 days a year.  It also imposes a 7.5 percent lodging tax on STRs.  The Boulder STR tax applies to property owners only and does not detail regulations for secondary properties or long-term rentals.

Other jurisdictions in the Denver Metro area, however, have not yet updated their laws to address sharing-economy rentals.  As vacation rental websites generally take a hands-off approach to local laws, it will be up to you to determine the legalities of renting your home.  Your city council or government website will be the best place to start your research.  It is important to remember that STRs are accessory to primary residential use, meaning the overall character of your property should remain residential.

Then there are federal and state income tax consequences from STRs.  If you rent out your home for 14 or fewer days a year (e.g. when a big convention or tournament comes to town), you do not have to report the rental income.  However, if your rentals exceed 14 days a year, you’ll owe income tax on your rental income.  Report your rental income on Schedule E of your Form 1040 (your state and city will want to know about your rental income, too).

Of course, you can deduct costs related to your STR activity on Schedule E as well.  You do not have to divide expenses that pertain solely to the rental part of the property.  For example, if you paint a room that you rent and purchase new sheets and towels for that room, your entire cost is deductible.  On the other hand, if an expense is related to the whole house, such as home mortgage interest or utilities and maintenance, you must divide the expense between rental use and personal use.  You can use any reasonable method for dividing the expense.  Consult IRS Publication 527, Residential Rental Property (Including Rental of Vacation Homes), for more details.  Remember, you are treated as using your home for personal purposes each day of the year, regardless of how many days you might have rented a portion of it.  As a result, rental expenses can only reduce rental income to zero, they cannot generate a loss.

Other things to check before renting that extra space is your homeowners insurance and the applicable landlord-tenant laws.  You want to be protected if a tenant steals something, causes fire or water damage, or suffers an injury on your property and holds you liable.   Consult with your insurance agent regarding what will be covered or excluded.  Depending on how many rental days and tenants will be involved, you may have to switch policies which probably will cost more.  Also, review the Colorado Landlord-Tenant laws which may vary from county to county or city to city.  For example, you probably are not legally allowed to enter your tenant’s room without giving advance notice.  It may be your house, but the tenant is king as far as that rented room goes.  You will be responsible for complying with all laws applicable to your unique rental situation.

These are just some of the considerations to keep in mind before putting a paying guest under your roof.  The applicable local rules and statutes are numerous and can be confusing.  And as is often the case, understanding the tax consequences of renting just a portion of your home or the entire residence is not a simple matter.  At Anderson & Jahde, PC, we can help you navigate these waters and avoid penalties.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 at 3:07 pm and is filed under Articles.

Can I resolve my IRS tax debt for pennies on the dollar?

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Taxpayers are barraged by television and radio advertisers claiming they can settle IRS debts for mere pennies on the dollar. These ads leave you believing that IRS will let anyone off on their tax debts for less than what is due and owing. Not so! We have had many clients over the years that have fallen for these pitch men, only to have $5,000.00 to $10,000.00 taken from them with absolutely no resolution to their tax problems. BE VERY CAREFUL! If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

To be sure, the IRS will, in some very specific circumstances, allow taxpayers to compromise their tax debts under a program known as an “Offer in Compromise—Doubt as to Collectability” (the “Offer Program”). But this should be done by a professional with plenty of experience in this area.

Under the Offer Program, the IRS will agree to accept less than the full amount due and owing by a taxpayer, if, and only if, the IRS determines that it cannot collect the amount due from the taxpayer. To be accepted into the Offer Program, the taxpayer must prove, from their specific financial circumstances, that they do not have the ability to full pay their tax debt. In many instances, this is simply impossible.

The IRS will analyze a taxpayer’s net assets and income to see how much the IRS could collect if it were to exercise all of its collection powers—Federal Tax Liens, Levy, Seizure and Sale. Consideration will be given to: (1) the total amount of the debt, and (2) the time remaining on the 10-year statute of limitations on collection.

We have had numerous taxpayers come to us for help after they have already paid $5,000.00-$10,000.00 to one of the companies claiming that they can help them settle their tax debts for mere pennies on the dollar. In many instances, these clients were never even eligible for the Offer Program in the first instance. Yet, these alleged professionals (sometimes known as “tax resolution” firms) hire sales people to “sell” taxpayers on the idea that they will be able to accomplish a settlement with the IRS, without knowing anything about the taxpayer’s financial situation. In the end, many of these taxpayers throw away thousands of dollars they could not afford, only to get nothing accomplished with the IRS.

Taxpayers should educate themselves on the Offer Program, and the eligibility requirements, before hiring anyone to assist them. Taxpayers should be very cautious of anyone promoting the Offer Program as the solution to your tax problem. Don’t fall for a pressured sales pitch. There may be multiple solutions to your tax debt, not just the Offer Program. Often the high pressured sales companies will not know how to advocate for you if the Offer Program does not work and you will have needlessly spent thousands of dollars and still be at risk for IRS levies taking your money.

Importantly, the IRS does not “settle” tax debts the way another creditor might. People hear the word “settle” or “settlement” and they often think they can just offer to pay the IRS something, and that a back and forth negotiation with the IRS will take place. For example, a taxpayer may have $10,000.00 today and say, “I want to contact the IRS and tell it that I’ll pay the $10,000.00 today because that’s all I have, and that’s all the IRS is ever going to get from me.” But they may not qualify for any reduced settlement under the Offer Program.

Also important, before the IRS will even consider an Offer in Compromise, a taxpayer must be in compliance with their filing and payment obligations. This means filing any delinquent tax returns (generally for the last six years), making current estimated tax payments (if applicable) and making federal tax deposits if the taxpayer owns a business. If a taxpayer is not in compliance, the IRS will not even process an Offer in Compromise.

Once it has been determined that you meet the threshold requirement of being in compliance, there is an extensive financial analysis that must be completed to determine whether you fit within the Offer Program. This is done on a case-by-case basis and can be complex, depending on the taxpayer’s financial circumstances.

The bottom line: an Offer in Compromise is clearly not available for most taxpayers. The determination of whether you might qualify for the Offer Program should be determined by a competent, experienced tax controversy specialist, not a sales person simply trying to make money off of unwitting and scared taxpayers. An Offer in Compromise is not a one-size-fits-all solution to a tax problem. If the Offer Program does not work, there may be another solution to the problem that could be quicker and more cost effective for the taxpayer, including bankruptcy (for income taxes only), or disputing the taxpayer’s outstanding tax liabilities on the merits, where appropriate.

If you owe the IRS money, contact Anderson & Jahde for competent, professional tax help.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 at 10:16 am and is filed under Articles.

The Maze of Colorado’s & Denver’s Sales and Use Tax Laws

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

Small businesses are the backbone of Colorado’s economy— 98% of all businesses in the state have fewer than 100 employees. Because Colorado’s Constitution allows “Home Rule” jurisdictions to enact their own sales and use tax ordinances inconsistent from Colorado’s sales and use tax laws, businesses often have great difficulty wending their way through the variations between Colorado’s tax laws and those of a Home Rule jurisdiction such as Denver. Failure to plan for, and accurately comply with, myriad conflicting state, county, and municipal laws can jeopardize businesses just as they are getting started. (more…)

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 14th, 2017 at 10:25 pm and is filed under Articles.