Tax Transcripts and Why They Matter

Tax Transcripts and Why They Matter

I received a phone call recently from a person who was very frustrated with his tax situation. He was expecting a large refund from his 2017 federal tax return which he filed right at the October 2018 deadline.

He didn’t get all of the refund because the IRS garnished or levied part of his 2017 refund in order to pay outstanding balances for tax years 2015 and 2016.

He asked me if I could help him. I said I could but first I needed to gather some information.

The best way to find out the tax history of a client is to request transcripts of the taxpayer’s filings for the past several years after the client signs a Power of Attorney (Form 2848) giving the tax professional the right to represent him or her before the IRS.

There are five (5) different transcripts available from the IRS. The four (4) that we are going to talk about are:

  • Tax Return Transcript – An almost line by line view of the filed tax return. Available for current and three (3) prior filing years.
  • Tax Account Transcript – A history of each tax year showing filings, payments, penalties, balances due and refunds. Available for every year that the client info is on IRS Master File.
  • Wage and Income – All income reported to the IRS by third parties such as employers, banks, investment firms, mortgage companies and contractors. Available for current plus nine (9) prior years.
  • Record of Account – Combines information from the tax return transcripts and tax account transcripts onto one report.

 

WHY IS ALL OF THIS IMPORTANT?

In order to help a client who comes to you in a distressed frame of mind, you first must figure out what happened here. Is the client telling you everything? Were errors made in the original preparation of the returns? Is the IRS incorrect in their interpretation of a tax provision?

These transcripts contain a wealth of information (called transaction codes) which enable a trained tax professional (Yours Truly) to determine what happened every step of the way in the processing of the returns and the subsequent collection enforcement actions taken against the taxpayer by the IRS.

Having the training and expertise in reading these transcripts is critical to crafting a strategy to help the client resolve their tax problems.

For questions about this or any other tax topic feel free to email me at mikeo24@bythebooktaxes.net  or call me at 203-434-5626

 

10 year collection statute

10 year collection statute

Most people have heard about a “statute of limitations” in the area of criminal law. There is a period of years, after a crime has been committed, to prosecute the people that the authorities believe committed the crime. Once that time limit has passed, charges can’t be brought.

Did you know that there is a “statute of limitations” on the IRS’ ability to enforce tax collection? There is. It’s the “10 year collection statute”.

Here’s an example of how it works:

  • John and Jane Q. Public e-file their 2017 tax returns on 4/1/18.
  • The IRS processes their electronic return on 4/5/18 and if there is a balance due, “assesses” the tax due on 4/5/18.
  • The IRS has until 4/4/28 to collect that tax by statute

The key date here is when the tax is “assessed”. The statute says 10 years from assessment, not 10 years from filing date or filing due date.

 

There are several actions that can cause the 10 year statute to “toll” or stop running. They are:

  • Filing for bankruptcy
  • Requesting a Collection Due Process Hearing
  • Filing an Offer in Compromise
  • Requesting an Installment Payment Agreement

The statute will start running again once the time period to consider these alternatives has finished. In the case of a bankruptcy, an additional six months is added to the collection period once the bankruptcy is discharged.

Why is all of this important?

Before considering the various tax resolution options available to a client, the tax professional has to know what the CSED (collection statute expiration date) is for each tax year in which the client has a balance due.

By knowing this, the tax professional can employ a strategy to resolve the taxpayer’s debts at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer.

For example, if there is only a year or two left on the collection statute and the taxpayer just lost their job, got divorced or had a major medical expense that set them back, you could request a Currently Not Collectible status and hope to “run out the clock” on the collection period.

If there are many years left and the same scenario as above, you might make an Offer-in-Compromise to try to settle the debt for less than its face value.
Understanding when the 10 year collection statue expires for each year of a client’s tax debt is critical in formulating a strategy to resolve their tax debts.

For questions on this topic or any other tax topic feel free to call me at 203-434-5626, email me at mikeo24@bythebooktaxes.net

 

Tax Resolution Compliance – The Key

Tax Resolution Compliance – The Key

In prior weeks I wrote about, “The IRS Collection Process”, “IRS Collection Letters” and “The Final IRS Notice”.
This week I am writing about the first step you need to take in order to solve your tax problems, which is to get into “tax compliance”.

Before you can enter into any agreement with the IRS regarding your delinquent taxes such as an Installment Payment Agreement, Offer-in-Compromise or Currently Not Collectible Status, you must first be in “tax compliance”.

What is tax compliance? It comes in two forms, being current on the filing of your tax returns and being current in your tax payments.

For the filing of your tax returns, the IRS defines compliance as having returns filed for the last six (6) tax years. If you have unfiled returns during this period, get them filed!

For tax payments, there are three (3) measurables:

  • W-2 withholding for employees
  • Estimated payments for the self-employed and
  • Payroll tax filings and payments for businesses with employees

W-2 employees need to have at least 90% of their current year tax liability paid through withholding or 100% of last year’s liability withheld in the current year (110% of last year’s number if their income exceeds $150,000).

 

There will be no underpayment penalty if a taxpayer owes < $1,000 in federal income tax upon the filing of their current year tax return.

Self-employed taxpayers (like real estate agents and brokers) must make quarterly estimated tax payments on the 15th of April, June and September in the current year and January of the next year (2019) to be in compliance for 2018.
Businesses must file and pay payroll taxes on a quarterly basis.

The penalties are steep (like criminal) for withholding payroll taxes from employees and not filing the returns or making the payments quarterly.

If you have any questions or need help, please call me TODAY!