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Boston Tax Law Blog

The sharing economy and employment taxes, part 1: ride sharing

The rapid increase in consumer transactions delivered through social-sharing services has many far-reaching implications. Ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, for example, have begun to upend the business model for the taxi industry in Boston and other cities around the country.

In Greater Boston alone, at least 10,000 drivers have joined Uber since it entered the market here in 2011. But if you are providing rides or other services in exchange for payments that are delivered through a company that provides an electronic platform and may or may not send you a 1099, what is your tax status?

Innocent spouse relief, part 2: the role of a skilled tax attorney

Federal tax law recognizes that there are circumstances in which a taxpayer should not be held responsible for tax debt that arose during marriage. This recognition is reflected in relief from tax liability that is commonly called innocent spouse relief.

As we noted in the first part of this post, however, innocent spouse relief in its technical sense is only one of three types of relief that are potentially available to spouses or former spouses who filed joint tax returns.

What is innocent spouse relief? Part 1: the 3 types of relief

If your spouse or former spouse controlled the marital finances, it may not be fair to hold you responsible for tax liability incurred during the marriage. After all, he or she may have committed errors or engaged in fraudulent or otherwise questionable conduct that you had no reason to know about or were in no position to stop.

U.S. tax law recognizes this, and the relief from tax liability that is available is generally referred to as innocent spouse relief.

Whistleblower awards: Do you have to apply before providing information?

For years, the IRS has had a whistleblower program under which individuals who provide information to the government that leads to the collection of unpaid taxes are eligible to apply for financial awards.

But what if the individual who supplies this information does so before submitting the requisite form to request an award?

Hope for expats? Proposal calls for same-country FATCA exception

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is a serious headache for Americans living abroad. Indeed, that is probably an understatement. If FATCA is a headache, it is perhaps best characterized as a migraine, carrying significant compliance pain.

The offshore reporting requirements imposed by the sweeping law have made many banks wary of doing business with expatriates from the U.S. Meanwhile, Americans who live in another country find themselves struggling to keep up with a slew of detailed asset-reporting requirements under FATCA and other laws.

Tax liens, part 2: How do you clear up a federal tax lien?

In the first part of this post, we discussed several possible responses to a federal tax lien.

One option, as we noted, is to resolve the underlying tax debt through an offer in compromise or an installment agreement before you are hit with a tax lien. It is also possible to contest the validity of the debt itself.

Federal tax liens, part 1: responding to the notice

A tax lien doesn't take your property. Technically, a "levy" does that, not a lien.

But if you get a notice of federal tax lien (NFTL) in the mail, it's important to take action promptly in response. Otherwise, the IRS could keep you from selling your home or getting fresh financing for your business.

In this two-part post, we will discuss federal tax liens and how a skilled tax attorney can help you address them.

Time limits on audits: be aware of the exceptions

"Don't look back," famous Americans from Satchel Paige to Bob Dylan have counseled. Neither of those two men, however, worked for the IRS.

The general rule is that the IRS gets to go back only three years to audit you after you file a return. There are, however, various exceptions that allow the IRS to go back farther. In this post, we will inform you about some of these significant exceptions.

Fourth of July special: taxation and representation

The Fourth of July is a fitting occasion to put tax law in a larger picture.

After all, protests over taxation without representation played a key role in the movement toward American independence from Britain. The image of tax protesters dumping chests of tea into Boston Harbor in 1773 continues to shine out vividly in a country still trying to bring more fairness to its tax system.

Revisiting the right to appeal IRS actions

It's been awhile since we last discussed the rights that taxpayers have to challenge the IRS through appeals.

In our concluding post of last year, we noted that bringing an action in U.S. Tax Court is not the only way to appeal an IRS action. There are also numerous internal appeal procedures within the IRS. In this post, we will remind you of some of these internal options for disagreeing with the IRS.

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