Tax Lawyer Blog

A Blog written by the Tax Attorneys for Individuals and Businesses

Will your Name be Dragged through the Public because of Your Tax Case

As an attorney I am extremely conscientious of client secrets and confidentiality. Rest assured that one of the benefits of hiring an attorney, is that attorney-client privilege protects you and your tax case from a number of potential issues. However, more and more we are seeing government agencies expose the name, county of residence, and amounts allegedly delinquent to attempt to shame the taxpayers or use them as an example. Often it is the tax agency that may drag a client’s name into the public domain in airing tax delinquencies or convictions. For years, both the Internal Revenue Service and various State Tax Boards have used public pressure to urge taxpayers into compliance.

In the IRS’s case, not only do names of delinquent taxpayers become public after the Internal Revenue Service files a tax lien, recently we have seen an increase in press releases documenting in tax evasion convictions.

The former chief of the criminal investigation division of the Internal Revenue Service, Mark Matthews has stated, “we believe that our publicity efforts serve as a warning to those who may be tempted to cheat that there are criminal consequences for their actions.”

Some States have statutory authority to publicly “out” delinquent tax payers. For instance, California Revenue & Taxation Code Section 19195 directs the Franchise Tax Board to publish an annual list of the top 250 taxpayers with liened state income tax delinquencies greater than $100,000.

Unfortunately, once certain due process qualifications are met, the Internal Revenue Service and/or a State agency can drag your name through the public domain. As such, it is our recommendation that you contact our office immediately when you have a tax case.

It's not too late to lower your taxes for 2009

What are you doing to lower your tax bill? Now is the time to take advantage of the remainder of 2009 to make changes that can lower your tax bill now and looking towards the future to make 2010 your year be proactive with the tax code. Please contact our office to make an appointment for tax planning. Our objective is to help with the important decisions necessary to enable you to make the best use of your resources.

The tax tips below will give you a place to start when looking at your tax situation. However, the tips included herewith are by no means a substitute for proper legal counsel.

1. Review your income, expenses and potential deductions. Before you can make any adjustments, you will need to look closely at how much you are earning, spending, and savings and what you can deduct.

2. Review your portfolio: Find out how you may mitigate investment losses with a tax deduction. Max out any tax beneficial plans such as 401K, 403(b), IRA, etc.

3. Defer Income: Unless you have reason to believe that next year will bring you a higher income and move you into a higher personal income tax bracket, you may want to defer income until after the first of the year. If you are self-employed, legally defer your income into the following year.

4. Use up your flex spending plan/Healthcare: If you have a flexible spending plan, which means you have put aside tax-free earnings to cover medical and dental expenses through a plan offered by your employer, you need to use it up. For schedule A filers, medical expenses may be deductible. Make doctor appointments now and buy necessary medical supplies.

5. Mortgage Interest: Pay your January 1st mortgage payment on or before December 31st: This allows you to take an additional deduction for interest paid. Remember to add the interest amount to the amount reported by your lender when they send you a 1098 form.

6. Teachers, take a deduction from your students: You can still take up to a $250 deduction on materials purchased to make the learning experience better for your students. This deduction is also applicable for principals and others who are employed in a school. If you’re not sure if this deduction applies to you, contact our office.

7. If you are self-employed, stock up: This is the time to buy all of the business equipment and supplies you haven't yet purchased. Make sure to mark and save your receipts.

8. Prepay your state and/or local taxes: If you don't think your personal income tax bracket will be higher next year, and you're not affected by the alternative minimum tax, you may want to make state and/or local tax payments before the end of this year so you can take a deduction this year.

9. Make charitable donations: If you have extra cash or qualified property, donate money or the property to charity. Save the receipts and use the charitable donations as deductions on your tax return. These are some of the ways in which you can make appropriate changes to lessen your tax bill.

10 . Make the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) work for you:

Information for Individuals

Some of the provisions of the law primarily affect individuals.

  • Making Work Pay Tax Credit. This tax credit means more take-home pay for many Americans.
  • Homebuyer Credit. Certain homebuyers who purchase in 2009 may be eligible for a credit of up to $8,000 with no payback requirement.
  • Money Back for New Vehicle Purchases. Taxpayers who buy certain new vehicles from February 17 through December 31, 2009 may be eligible to deduct the state and local sales taxes paid.
  • Education benefits. The ARRA 2009 provides for enhanced credits/incentives for paying for higher education expenses.
  • Enhanced Earned Income and Additional Child Tax Credits for Tax Years 2009, 2010.
  • Increased Transportation Subsidy.
  • Up to $2,400 in Unemployment Benefits Tax Free in 2009.
  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Incentives.
  • Health Coverage Tax Credit. Credit increases from 65 percent to 80 percent of qualified health insurance premiums, and more people are eligible.

Information for Businesses

Some of the provisions of the law primarily affect businesses.

  • Making Work Pay Tax Credit. Businesses should use the new withholding rates for their employees.
  • Work Opportunity tax credit. This adds returning veterans and "disconnected youth" to the list of new hires covered by the credit that businesses may claim. Certification by the state work force agency is required.
  • COBRA: Health Insurance Continuation Subsidy.
  • Net Operating Loss Carryback. Small businesses can offset losses by getting refunds on taxes paid up to five years ago.