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Monthly Archives: September 2017

IRS Appeals Reverts Back to Face to Face Appeals Conferences

On September 20, 2016, we posted No More Face to Face Meetings at IRS Appeals Division? where we discussed that the IRS announced that effective Oct. 1, 2016, it will rarely conduct Appeals Conferences in person.


More specifically, Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) 8.6.1.4, blandly entitled “Conference Practices,” provides that ALL conferences will be held by telephone except under certain specific enumerated circumstances.

The mission of the IRS Appeals Division is to “resolve tax controversies, without litigation, on a basis which is fair and impartial to both the Government and the taxpayer and in a manner that will enhance voluntary compliance and public confidence in the integrity and efficiency of the Service.” We then stated: "Unfortunately, This New Policy Will Not Further That Mission, and Indeed Will Impede It."

Now the IRS agrees with us and even though the IRS is still cash-strapped, the decision to reduce the number of in-person meetings it grants taxpayers during appeals may defeat the agency's goal to save resources if it is forced into litigation as a result of less effective communication by mail, telephone or videoconferencing.

Web-Based Virtual Conferences

On July 24, 2017 The Internal Revenue Service Office of Appeals issued IR 2017-122 
where they stated that the IRS will pilot a new web-based virtual conference option for taxpayers and their representatives. This virtual face-to-face option will provide an additional option for taxpayer conferences. The IRS expects it to be especially useful for taxpayers located far from an IRS Appeals office.

While a phone call works well for most taxpayers, others prefer face-to-face interaction. Appeals’ pilot program will use a secure, web-based screen-sharing platform to connect with taxpayers face-to-face from anywhere they have internet access.

Appeals started the pilot on August 1, 2017 and will assess the results, including taxpayer satisfaction with the technology.  

Optional Requested Face to Face Conferences  Now according to BNA IRS Appeals will revert to accommodating taxpayers who want in-person conferences rather than phone conferences, an IRS official said.

  1. “Step one is going to be for field cases to turn the decision back over to taxpayers,” Andy Keyso, acting deputy chief at the Internal Revenue Service Office of Appeals, said at the American Bar Association tax section meeting in Austin, Texas. “Do you want an in-person conference? If so, you’ll get it.”
  2. Step two is to include campus cases. Currently, Appeals is unable to offer in-person conferences for smaller cases that are worked out of the IRS campuses, Keyso said.

Field cases include audits by a field revenue agent or office examiner, while campus cases include correspondence exam cases, according to Keyso.  The campus buildings however, don’t have conference facilities.

“For campus cases, we have some adjustments to make internally before we can do that...” Keyso said


Long term IRS Appeals has to realign its workforce, “which is difficult to do right now.”

The IRS will issue guidance to employees about the agency’s rollback of the in-person conference issue, Keyso said. The guidance will include information on what IRS employees need to be prepared for taxpayers in field cases who want in-person conferences as well as issues with campus cases.

Still, Appeals isn’t working well for small business and individual taxpayers, Nina E. Olson, IRS national taxpayer advocate, said during the panel.

About 75 percent to 80 percent of individual taxpayer appeals are conducted by correspondence, Olson said, and no employee is assigned to any correspondence examination. Individual taxpayers should be able to get the opportunity to speak with someone from the IRS, Olson said, to understand the agency’s side of a tax dispute.   

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Read more at: Tax Times blog

IRS Provides Leave-Based Donation Relief to Victims or Hurricane Irma

The Internal Revenue Service announced on September 14, 2017 special relief designed to support leave-based donation programs to aid victims of Hurricane and Tropical Storm Irma. This parallels relief granted to Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey victims.

Under these programs, employees may forgo their vacation, sick or personal leave in exchange for cash payments the employer makes, before Jan. 1, 2019, to charitable organizations providing relief for the victims of this disaster.

Under this special relief, the donated leave will not be included in the income or wages of the employees. Employers will be permitted to deduct the cash payments as business expenses.

This relief is similar to that provided following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, and last year following Hurricane Matthew and severe flooding in Louisiana.

We here at Marini & Associates, PA, are grateful for the fact that our attorneys, staff, and their families are safely accounted for. As always, their well-being and that of our clients are our top priorities.

Our thoughts are with those still affected!

 
 
As the focus now turns to recovery, Marini & Associates, PA is prepared and ready to serve both the interests of our clients and the needs of our community. Our Office is Open & Fully Operational! 
 
Have a Tax Problem?

 


Contact the Tax Lawyers at
Marini & Associates, P.A.
 
 
 for a FREE Tax Consultation Contact US at 
or Toll Free at 888-8TaxAid (888 882-9243). 


 
 

 
 

     

    Read more at: Tax Times blog

    Marini & Associates, PA Survives Hurricane Irma!

    Here in South Florida, Hurricane Irma has flooded parts of our region and left many without power.
    However, at Marini & Associates, PA, we are grateful for the fact that our attorneys, staff, and their families are safely accounted for. As always, their well-being and that of our clients are our top priorities. Our thoughts are with those still affected!

    As the focus now turns to recovery, Marini & Associates, PA is prepared and ready to serve both the interests of our clients and the needs of our community.
    Our Office is Open & Fully Operational! 

    Marini & Associates, PA continues to be a leader in providing Tax Advice and Tax Defense Representation to clients throughout the United States and around the world.
    Based in Miami, Florida our focus is the practice of Tax Law, with an emphasis on Zealously Representing & Defending Taxpayers before the IRS and various Other Tax Authorities.
    If you have been contacted by the IRS or Other Tax Authority, regarding you or your tax liability, contact Marini & Associates, PA immediately for HELP in representing and defending you from further Governmental Actions!

    Our Team of Tax Attorneys:
    • Have > 100 years of combined experience,
    • Are highly effective,
    • Solution-oriented tax attorneys,
    • Who care about the clients we represent.
    We have successfully represented numerous taxpayers before the IRS and we are included in Martindale–Hubbell's Bar Registry of "Preeminent Lawyers" and we are also listed in "Lawyers of Distinction".

    Have a Tax Problem?
     


    Contact the Tax Lawyers at
    Marini & Associates, P.A.
     
     
     for a FREE Tax Consultation Contact US at 
    or Toll Free at 888-8TaxAid (888 882-9243). 
    

     
     

    Read more at: Tax Times blog

    How Will the IRS Know About My Foreign Account?

    Taxpayers who have financial assets outside the United States often ask the question "How will they (IRS) know about my Foreign Account?;" when they are considering how (or whether) to come clean and inform the IRS about their previously undisclosed foreign financial accounts.

    For years, there was little public knowledge of the U.S. government’s foreign financial reporting requirements, and enforcement of those rules was not always very strict.

    However, since 2008,  a string of scandals involving foreign banks and investigations by the U.S. government into various non-U.S. financial institutions has garnered international media attention and changed the way governments around the world deal with offshore financial accounts.

     

    1. FATCA. In 2010, the U.S. Congress supplemented its existing international tax treaties and information exchange agreements by passing the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”).
      • The main goal of FATCA was to make it more difficult for U.S. taxpayers to hide assets in offshore accounts and entities and therefore to increase U.S. tax revenue by ensuring income from those accounts is reported in the U.S. Government officials have estimated that the U.S. loses between $40 billion and $70 billion a year in unpaid taxes on offshore assets.
      • FATCA requires worldwide financial institutions to report to the IRS certain information about accounts that are owned by U.S. persons (whom they identify through a variety of methods, including the request of Forms W-9).
      • While FATCA has drawn intense criticism from around the world (and in the U.S.), it now appears that the law is here to stay, and other governments have made similar strides in increasing the scope of their international tax information exchange.
    2. Swiss Bank Program. The U.S. government recently ended their "Swiss Bank Program" a disclosure program that forced Swiss banks to reveal the ways in which they helped U.S. taxpayers evade taxes.
     
      • Over the three year program, the U.S. gathered information from 80 Swiss banks and collected over $1 billion in penalties from those banks.
      • The program also provided information to the IRS about other jurisdictions that may commonly hide U.S.-owned assets.

    3. Data Mining. The IRS also continues to "Data Mine" to gather information provided by the more than 54,000 taxpayers who have filed under the IRS’ Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program since 2009.

      • The U.S. will use this information to assess what other jurisdictions, foreign banks, and facilitators may be assisting U.S. clients in evading their tax obligations and to assist in future prosecutions.

    4. Panama PapersIn April 2016 over 11.5 million financial and legal records from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca where leak to the press, which underscores the risk of public disclosure of financial records related to undisclosed foreign financial accounts.

      • An anonymous source provided the information in the “Panama Papers” leak to various global news organizations that have since been reviewing the files in detail.
      •  The leak created a scandal for many high-profile politicians around the world and forced some to resign.
      • It was revealed that the firm had created over 2,800 companies in offshore havens for over 2,400 U.S. clients as well.
      • While many of these transactions are legal, U.S. taxpayers must fulfill various foreign information reporting requirements with the IRS related to non-U.S. financial accounts and entities, or they face substantial penalties for noncompliance.
      • In response to the Panama Papers, the U.S. government has also proposed and enacted new rules making it harder to conceal the identities of the true owners of companies.
      • The release of the Panama Papers is just the latest example in the ongoing movement around the world to make it harder for taxpayers to hide their assets offshore and evade taxes.
      • Nowhere has this movement been more pronounced than in the U.S., where government officials have repeatedly made clear that continuing to hide financial assets will get more and more dangerous and difficult, and that taxpayers should come forward as soon as possible to come into compliance with their U.S. tax and reporting obligations.

    Marini & Associates, PA has assisted several hundred clients with coming into U.S. tax compliance and avoiding the draconian penalties that the IRS may impose on U.S. persons with undisclosed accounts.

    Do You Have Undeclared Foreign Income?
     

      

     Want to Know if Which OVDP Program is Right for You?


     
    Contact the Tax Lawyers at 
    Marini& Associates, P.A.  
     
     

    for a FREE Tax Consultation

    Toll Free at 888-8TaxAid (888) 882-9243

    Read more at: Tax Times blog