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Always Choose a Tax Preparer Wisely

             For those who have filed a tax extension, the time to file will arrive soon. At this point, you may be considering hiring a Tax Preparer. The Internal Revenue Service ( IRS ) wants to make sure that you hire the most qualified individual to care for your needs in this area. This is especially important considering that the taxpayer is always responsible for what is in the tax return, no matter who files it.           Not all tax preparers are the same, pick one that fits your needs. There are a few things you can look for. Make sure your preparer offers the ability to e-file . This is the preferred method of the IRS and it makes filing so much simpler. Make sure the preparer includes their Preparer Tax Identification Number . All paid tax preparers must sign and put their PTIN on every tax return they work on. Ask about fees . Make sure they are clear about their fees. Stay away from those who want to base their fees on a percentage of your tax refund. That gives ince

How to Rebuild After Disaster

           It seems that everywhere you look, disasters are taking place. Whether it’s earthquakes, fires, or floods, there are any number of circumstances that can completely change your life. However, to receive any federal assistance, make insurance claims, or write off tax losses, records will need to be provided. It might not be the first thing on your mind, but there are some simple steps that can be taken to help reach that goal.           Financial statements can be gathered from your credit card company or bank, in digital or paper form when requested. Property records can also be requested from the bank, escrow, or title company. If the property is inherited, court records can be used to estimate the value. If there is nothing else, the county assessor’s office will have records that address property value. If home improvements have been made, reach out to the contractors and get statements from them to verify the work and its cost. Written descriptions from others who saw

Taxpayer Bill of Rights #10: The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System

                 In our last few posts, we have taken the time to highlight all of the details found in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights . This is the guide for how the Internal Revenue Service ( IRS ) operates. The last point is The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System .           This certainly sounds like a very difficult thing to expect, especially with how things have been going the past few years. But the basic idea is that we can expect the tax system to consider facts and circumstances that affect the ability to pay, or provide information in a timely manner. We have seen this applied the past 2 years when the individual tax filing deadline was pushed back because of COVID-19 . It was not practical to expect people to provide their tax returns at the same time as normal.           If you meet certain conditions and cannot pay your tax debt, you can try to get a monthly payment plan with the IRS . If you cannot pay the amount in the time allowed by law to collect it, an Offer in C

Taxpayer Bill of Rights #9: The Right to Retain Representation

               The Taxpayer Bill of Rights is a fundamental document that guides how the Internal Revenue Service ( IRS ) will act in all situations. All of their employees know it, so all Taxpayers should be familiar with it as well. One of them is The Right to Retain Representation .           Every Taxpayer has the right to choose an authorized person ( not all tax preparers are the same ) represent them before the IRS . If you are having the interview with them directly, tell them you want to consult your representative and they will stop questioning you. This person must be in good professional standing and not under a suspension or disbarred. They must submit a written Power of Attorney document to be able to represent you before the IRS . If your income is below a certain level, the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic can represent you for free. They are independent from the IRS even though some of their funding comes from them.

Taxpayer Bill of Rights #8: The Right to Confidentiality

            The Taxpayer Bill of Rights describes how the Internal Revenue Service ( IRS ) interacts with all Taxpayers. We should be aware of the rights that we have. Among them is The Right to Confidentiality .           You should have the expectation that what you provide to the IRS will never be shared, unless authorized by you, or by law. Appropriate action will be taken against employees, return preparers, or others who wrongfully use this information. The IRS will only contact your bank or employer to try and get more information to adjust the tax you owe if it is necessary and they give advance notice. The tax communication you have with your Qualified Tax Professional is generally given the same protection as communication with an attorney. This protection is voided if the conversation is about criminal matters.

Taxpayer Bill of Rights #7: The Right to Privacy

                 The Taxpayer Bill of Rights is a detailed document that outlines the rights that all taxpayers have before the Internal Revenue Service ( IRS ). We all need to be aware of them because taxes are a very personal matter. This post will discuss The Right to Privacy . This involves the expectation that all IRS inquiries, examinations, and enforcements will comply with all laws (including due process rights), be no more intrusive than necessary.           If collection measures get to the point where the IRS is seizing wages, there is a portion that will be protected from a levy. The IRS cannot seize necessary personal items. A home can only be taken by court order and they must show there is no other reasonable way to collect the tax debt. The IRS should not seek any information about your lifestyle during an audit if there is no sign you have unreported income. The taxpayer has the right to have a Collection Due Process hearing before the Office of Appeals. This indep

Taxpayer Bill of Rights #6: The Right to Finality

            The Taxpayer Bill of Rights is a document that highlights the rights that all have when dealing with the Internal Revenue Service ( IRS ). Each taxpayer needs to know them. In our continuing discussion of them, we arrive at Number 6, The Right to Finality . This involves knowing the time available to challenge an IRS position and how long they have to start an audit or collect a debt.           The IRS usually has 3 years from the date a tax return is filed to assess additional taxes. However, that time frame becomes unlimited if the tax return is determined to be fraudulent. There is a 10 year limit to collect taxes, and that can only be extended as part of a payment agreement or a court order. If the IRS sends a notice that additional taxes must be paid, it will tell you the deadline for when you can file a petition in Tax Court to challenge. This is another way you can determine if a criminal is trying to scam you. Any surprise tax debt that demands immediate payme