The IRS will begin accepting tax returns for the new filing season on January 20, one week from today. It's a time of year when taxpayers across the country are considering what resources they need to comply with a federal tax code that has become notorious for its complexity.
With less than two months left in the year, the coming of another tax season is already on the horizon. It's a time to take actions that may be necessary in order to avoid unpleasant encounters with the IRS down the road.
One of the most fundamental aspects of tax planning for many people is maximizing the tax-shielding features of their retirement savings. This includes pensions, 401(k)s and individual retirement arrangements (IRAs).
While many federal workers in Massachusetts and elsewhere were furloughed in the beginning of October as a result of the federal government shutdown, many federal law enforcement agents were working to crack an alleged tax fraud scheme centered in South Florida. As a result of the investigation, 45 individuals are facing charges for various tax crimes in 30 different cases.
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."
Boston, already full of historic places and American treasures, can now officially add one more to the tour; Fenway Park. The hundred-year-old ball park will forever be protected with its new designation on the National Register of Historic Places. As a thank you for all the preservation work done on the stadium the federal government will return at least $40 million in tax credits to the team.
Some Massachusetts businesses that hire independent contractors may soon find themselves in hot water with the IRS.
The Internal Revenue Service has its hands full conducting investigations into tax evasion. Until recently, any investigation into this area was made harder because many tax evaders would hide their assets overseas. Unless declarations were made of these assets, the Internal Revenue Service would not be able to track them. However, in Massachusetts and elsewhere in the United States, the Internal Revenue Service is using a more direct strategy by providing reduced penalties and no jail time for tax evaders to come clean.
It's very rare to meet a person who would welcome an audit from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In fact, the majority of people fear the idea of an audit so much, that they will do their very best to avoid such circumstances. Unfortunately, the IRS notifies a large number of people about impending tax audits every year. Recently, a Massachusetts financial columnist shared his own experience.