Articles

Extending the Filing Date of Your Income Tax Return When You Are in an IRS Installment Agreement.

Monday, June 18th, 2018

When a taxpayer agrees to pay the IRS through a monthly Installment Agreement, the terms of the agreement require that the taxpayer (1) timely file all required federal tax returns and (2) timely pay all federal tax obligations for the entire duration of the Installment Agreement.  This is known as being “in compliance.”  If a taxpayer is not in compliance with all required filing and payment obligations, the IRS can (and will) terminate the Installment Agreement.

This sounds simple, but many taxpayers do not understand that extending the filing deadline of their income tax returns (personal or business) can ultimately lead to a default of the terms of their Installment Agreement.  This is because extending the filing deadline of an income tax return does not extend the payment deadline.

The filing and payment deadline for an individual income tax return is April 15 each year.  A taxpayer can properly extend the filing deadline to October 15 of that year, but the payment deadline is not extended.  That means the entire tax due needs to be paid on April 15, even if the tax return is not filed.  That requires the taxpayer to know what his or her income tax liability is on April 15 so any balance due can be full paid.  This basically requires the taxpayer to know what the completed return will be as of April 15, to ensure that no tax will be due when the return is timely filed within the extended deadline of October 15.

For example, Tom is currently paying the IRS in an Installment Agreement.  In 2016, he worked as an employee for half the year (earning wages) and for the other half of the year he worked as an independent contractor (having been issued Forms 1099).  For various reasons, Tom and his return preparer could not complete his 2016 Individual Income Tax return for filing by April 18, 2017 (the filing deadline that year).   Tom timely filed an extension to file his return in October 2017.

Tom knew he had withholding paid in to the IRS that year from his wages, but he never made any estimated tax payments in relation to the Forms 1099 he was issued as an independent contractor.[1]  When Tom filed his 2016 return on October 15, 2017, he had a balance due of $10,000 on his return, because he had not paid in enough taxes during the year.  Thus, this was a default, and the IRS terminated his Installment Agreement.

Although taxpayers in Installment Agreements can extend the filing deadline of their income tax returns, there are risks in doing so.  If the taxpayer is due a refund, or no balance is due when the income tax return is filed within the extended deadline, then the taxpayer is in compliance and within the terms of the Installment Agreement.

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


[1] Taxpayers are required to pay taxes to the IRS during the year, either through withholding or estimated tax payments.  Failing to make required estimated tax payments can also cause a default of the Installment Agreement.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 18th, 2018 at 7:25 pm and is filed under Articles.

Getting Relief From the IRS as an Innocent Spouse

Friday, May 4th, 2018

A common problem we see is where the IRS is pursuing one spouse for taxes attributable to his or her spouse, or ex-spouse. These are particularly difficult in divorce situations since not only are many divorces sufficiently traumatic in and of themselves but adding the IRS to the mix makes it explosive.

It is possible, under the right circumstances, for the innocent spouse to be relieved of IRS tax liabilities. First, relief is only available for income taxes; employment taxes are not included. Second, the IRS may only pursue one spouse’s taxes from the other spouse if they filed a joint income tax return because the liability is “joint and several,” meaning the IRS may pursue either spouse or both; if you filed returns on the basis of married filing separately, you are only responsible for your own taxes. Third, by and large, the IRS and the courts disregard the allocation of tax liability the parties may have agreed to in their divorce proceedings. Fourth, while this article is directed to federal taxes, you should always follow up with the state to make sure that whatever relief you get from the IRS, you also get from your state.

Who can elect? Either or both parties to a joint return may challenge the joint and several liability that the IRS is seeking to impose. To the extent you are successful, you will only be liable for the portion of the tax that is attributable to your income and deductions, and not your spouse or ex-spouse.

When during the process may relief be sought? The law is quite generous in allowing one seeking innocent spouse relief to request it at any time after the beginning of an IRS examination through and including at a much later date when the IRS is trying to collect the tax.

How do I make the election? A spouse requesting relief must complete IRS Form 8857 and send it to the IRS office on the Form’s instructions. Completing the form correctly and persuasively is absolutely critical to potentially getting relief. It is essential that you retain an attorney to assist you with this.

To what extent will my (ex)-spouse be informed? As a matter of due process, the IRS is obligated to notify your spouse, or ex-spouse, about your request for relief and obtain his or her position on the assertions you make. If you have been the subject of abuse, there are special procedures to protect you. If you were forced to sign the joint return and would not have done so but for the abuse, it is possible to argue that you did not intend to file a joint return, in which case you may not be liable for your spouse’s tax even in the first place.

What relief is available with respect to additional taxes the IRS believes is due? There are two bases for getting relief with respect to additional taxes resulting from an examination of the filed return. The easiest is with respect to divorced individuals. If you are now divorced or have been separated and not living together for the last 12 months, all you need to do is prove the amount of tax attributable to your income and deductions versus the amount attributable to your spouse. If you and your spouse are still together, getting relief is much harder and requires showing that you are both innocent of the mistakes on the return and that you did not significantly benefit from the tax savings.

What relief is available with respect to the balance owed on a filed tax return? This situation is also a difficult one and requires getting the IRS to be fair and apply equitable principles for relief. In essence, you must prove that you did not significantly benefit from the tax savings and that you had no reason to believe that your spouse would not pay the taxes shown on the return.

Because of the complexities of seeking innocent spouse relief, you should retain an attorney experienced in dealing with innocent spouse relief.

This entry was posted on Friday, May 4th, 2018 at 11:16 am and is filed under Articles.

IRS to End Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

On March 13, 2018, Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter announced September 28, 2018 will be the end of the IRS’s popular Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP), saying “Taxpayers have had several years to come into compliance with U.S. tax laws under this program . . . .  All along, we have been clear that we would close the program at the appropriate time, and we have reached that point.”

Originally offered in 2009, the OVDP allowed Taxpayers with previously undisclosed and untaxed foreign assets and income to come back into compliance with their U.S. Tax obligations and avoid criminal prosecution by filing amended tax returns and all necessary disclosures (FBARs, 5471s, 8938s, 3520s, etc.), and paying a set (and reduced) penalty.  Over the years, more than 45,000 Taxpayers have used the OVDP to report their previously undisclosed foreign assets, and the IRS has collected over $11.1 billion in back taxes, penalties and interest.

Since the OVDP’s inception, the Denver tax attorneys at Anderson & Jahde have assisted dozens of clients in coming back into compliance with their foreign asset disclosures and income reporting requirements through the OVDP (and related programs).  While the IRS will continue to accept disclosures through the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures if the Taxpayer can certify their prior failures were not “willful,” many Taxpayers do not neatly fit into this category.  For them, the elimination of the OVDP (open even to those who willfully failed to disclose foreign assets and income) severely limits the options available, and increases the risks of potential criminal prosecution and substantially larger fines and penalties.

If you have undisclosed foreign assets or foreign income call the attorneys at Anderson & Jahde to discuss which option is best suited to your situation before this valuable program ends.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 at 11:13 am and is filed under Articles.

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.