Monday, November 27, 2017

How to Know if the Knock on Your Door is Actually Someone From the IRS

People can avoid taking the bait and falling victim to a scam by knowing how and when the IRS does contact a taxpayer in person. This can help someone determine whether an individual is truly an IRS employee.

Here are eight things to know about in-person contacts from the IRS.

  • The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.
  • There are special circumstances when the IRS will come to a home or business. This includes:
    • When a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill
    • When the IRS needs to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment
    • To tour a business as part of an audit
    • As part of a criminal investigation
  • Revenue officers are IRS employees who work cases that involve an amount owed by a taxpayer or a delinquent tax return. Generally, home or business visits are unannounced. 
  • IRS revenue officers carry two forms of official identification.  Both forms of ID have serial numbers. Taxpayers can ask to see both IDs.
  • The IRS can assign certain cases to private debt collectors. The IRS does this only after giving written notice to the taxpayer and any appointed representative. Private collection agencies will never visit a taxpayer at their home or business.
  • The IRS will not ask that a taxpayer makes a payment to anyone other than the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
  • IRS employees conducting audits may call taxpayers to set up appointments, but not without having first notified them by mail. Therefore, by the time the IRS visits a taxpayer at home, the taxpayer would be well aware of the audit.
  • IRS criminal investigators may visit a taxpayer’s home or business unannounced while conducting an investigation. However, these are federal law enforcement agents and they will not demand any sort of payment.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving from NFS!



From All of us here at

Northeast Financial Strategies, Inc.

WE GIVE THANKS...

... For Our Families
... For Our Friends
... Four Our Clients
... For Our Communitiy
... For You

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Marijuana and the IRS

Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia allow legal use of marijuana in some form. Several more will join in 2018, while advocates in other states are pushing to add marijuana initiatives to upcoming ballots. Marijuana sales are big business and generate needed tax revenue for the states. Although state law legalizes activities related to its production and sale, marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. As such, this activity continues to be illegal under federal law. This dichotomy of state and federal laws on the use and sale of marijuana presents unique challenges to the industry. 

Federal Taxation

As far as the IRS is concerned, all income is taxable, even illegal income. IRS publications state that “illegal activities, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, must be included in your income on Form 1040, line 21, or on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040) if from your self-employment activity.” When no other crimes could be pinned to Al Capone, the Internal Revenue Service obtained a conviction for tax evasion. As the astonished Capone left the courthouse he said, "This is preposterous. You can't tax illegal income!" But the fact is income from whatever source derived (legal or illegal) is taxable income.

State legalization often comes with heavy regulation and oversight. In addition, growers, distributors and dispensaries incur costs like any other business. They hire employees and pay overhead costs. For federal tax purposes a legitimate business is allowed to deduct all “ordinary and necessary” costs from revenue in order to compute their taxable income. This is not the case for the trafficking of controlled substances such as marijuana. Although all illegal income is taxable, not all expenses are deductible.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

2017 Year-End Tax Planning For Individuals

Year-end 2017 is shaping up as an important deadline to have tax strategies in place to take advantage of certain opportunities before they sunset along with the close of the tax year on December 31, 2017. A major challenge this year, of course, involves the uncertainty that will remain, likely into late November/early December, over pending tax reform legislation. This includes uncertainty regarding rate cuts, certain deductions, and much more. Effective strategies in response to any of these “tax reform” priorities involve close monitoring of any proposed tax bill as it moves through negotiations within the various Congressional tax committees and Trump administration officials, with year-end action steps ready to go based upon alternative legislative outcomes.

Although year-end 2017 may be unique because of possible tax reform, planning during the final weeks and months of this year involves much more –both in terms of traditional year-end strategies and strategies developed in response to developments that have taken place since last year. Here are some points to consider:

Data gathering. Year-end planning should start with data collection and a review of prior year returns. This includes information on losses or other carryovers, estimated tax installments, and items that were unusual. Conversations regarding next year should include discussions of any plans for significant purchases or dispositions, as well as any possible life cycle events.

Income tax rates. One of the most significant factors in tax planning for individuals is their tax bracket. The most direct control taxpayers have over their tax bracket rests in their ability to control the timing of income and deductible expenses. For example, taxpayers who expect to be in a lower tax bracket in 2018 should consider deferring income to 2018 and accelerating deductions into 2017. Also relevant are “tax reform” proposals that may compress tax brackets and lower tax rates. These changes could present year-end tax planning opportunities for taxpayers depending on when any proposed rate changes go into effect.