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Internal Revenue Service Archives

IRS orders information about foreign bank accounts

Massachusetts residents who possess offshore accounts would do well to follow an ongoing case in which a U.S. District Court judge most recently instructed five unidentified individuals to reveal confidential information about their finances. The judge ordered these taxpayers to divulge information about their foreign bank accounts to a grand jury to potentially use in a federal case against them.While some may argue that the judge had no authority to deprive individuals of their right to avoid self-incrimination, the judge said that individuals do not have the right to refuse disclosure of their bank records to the grand jury. The judge also argued that taxpayers cannot avoid being accountable because they used offshore accounts to try to hide assets. District courts in three other jurisdictions have also ruled that information related to a foreign bank account is not protected by the assertion of a Fifth Amendment right against self-discrimination. Furthermore, these courts have held that information pertaining to foreign bank accounts is governed by the federal government's "Required Records Doctrine."

Don't plan on getting to talk to the IRS this tax season

While the IRS is typically difficult to reach immediately after Presidents' Day because many Massachusetts residents have either filed their taxes by this time or they may be peppering the agency with questions regarding tax returns, the late start of the 2013 tax season may make this feat nearly impossible. Over the years, the IRS has become increasingly difficult to reach during tax season. According to the Taxpayer Advocate Service, more than 100 million people contacted the IRS in 2012. Out of this number of people, more than 30 percent of them were never able to reach a customer service representative. For those consumers who were able to reach an actual agent, the average wait time was 17 minutes in 2012, a nearly 50 percent increase over the average 12-minute wait in 2011. Further, the wait time in 2012 was more than three times the average wait time that consumers experienced in 2007.

Keep clean records to potentially avoid an IRS audit

Being audited may well top the list of taxpayers' worst nightmares. This process can easily consume a person's time, energy and money as it can be extremely frustrating to deal with the IRS for months on end. Fortunately, there are a few steps that one can take to potentially avoid an audit. For individuals who own a business, it is important that they keep all business and personal expenses separate. If an action was taken for both personal and business purposes, such as taking a trip or having lunch with a friend who is also a client, it is probably best to keep these expenses listed as personal ones. It is also important that one does not list a hobby as a business. Keeping well-organized records is also vital toward avoiding an audit. Before making any deduction, one should ensure that he or she has the receipt or other evidence to support it. Keep all of these documents together with each year's tax return.

IRS may gain greater access to tax documents

Recent court rulings may allow the IRS to have access to Massachusetts consumers' tax documents that were previously privileged. While the old rules allowed the IRS to access information from accountants regarding their clients, information given to attorneys was typically considered part of the attorney-client privilege. Accountants did have a loophole for keeping information confidential and out of the possession of the IRS when a tax lawyer hired an accountant, thus making this information part of the attorney-client umbrella. However, the IRS has filed several lawsuits that are changing the rules regarding these privileges. In a Ninth Circuit case, the court ruled that an appraisal could not be kept from the IRS by the taxpayer, lawyer and accountant. In another case, the court required a lawyer and accountant to disclose their discussions.

Worcester synagogue and school seized by IRS

In Worcester, Massachusetts, a Jewish Synagogue and day school has been seized by the IRS. The Internal Revenue Service took the building for nonpayment of taxes owed to the government, originating from tax obligations incurred in 2004. The synagogue owes back taxes to the federal government in the amount of $435,235 dollars. The bulk of back taxes owed are from payroll taxes. This information was obtained through the Worcester County Registry of Deeds as well as through the Internal Revenue Service. The synagogue and day school are still in business although the building has been put up for public auction with bids starting at $472,000.

Audit reveals federal agencies delinquent, IRS can't collect

Money is the topic of the year for most people, agencies, states and the federal government as the economy sluggishly recovers from the recent recession. Bills are hard to pay for everyone, and many find themselves in serious debt. In fact, one of the biggest topics of the current election is the country's outstanding debt and what should be done to fix it.

IRS passes new laws for dual citizens

The IRS recently announced new tax laws that would provide relief to dual citizens. However, the new laws have both positive and negative aspects. The new tax laws are for non-residents, including dual citizens who lived outside the United States beginning in 2009. Furthermore, the non-resident must not have filed a United States tax return for at least three years and be considered low risk by the Internal Revenue Service. If you are currently under an IRS investigation or haven't disclosed all your income in the country where you live, you are generally considered high risk. The benefit of using the new tax laws is a reduction in the possible penalties that you could wind up paying.

Is the IRS assisting tax fraud?

Many Massachusetts residents would be surprised to learn that the Internal Revenue Service has been overlooking fraud. However, this may be the case. Specifically, sources say that the process is occurring when people apply for taxpayer identification numbers. Many are alarmed that the agency has skimped on financial security.

How divorce can throw a wrench in your tax returns

The IRS has some very interesting rules when it comes to reporting the income and assets of divorcing couples. Before you check the "married" or "single" box on your tax return, keep in mind that the IRS wants to know what your marriage status was on Dec. 31. If your divorce became final on Jan. 1, you must check the married box.

Massachusetts tax revenue up over last fiscal year

The Massachusetts Revenue Department announced that tax revenue for the fiscal year that ended June 30 was up $600 million over last year. Total 2012 tax collections throughout the state were more than $21.1 billion, up 2.9 percent over 2011. Those numbers exceeded projections by about $107 million thanks to sales taxes, corporate and business taxes and motor vehicle sales taxes.

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