Legal Aid Society of Orange County Low Income Taxpayer Clinic

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1 Legal Aid Society of Orange County Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Presented by: Renato L. Izquieta, Esq. Legal Aid Society of Orange County Presented by: Richard Silva, Paralegal Legal Aid Society of Orange County 1

2 IRS Tax Controversy Cases-Problems with the IRS Tax Debt Audits Appeals Tax Court Back Taxes 2

3 I. IRS Extremely Large Agency Dysfunctional Different Arms of the IRS Taxpayers not fully informed of their Rights 3

4 II. How to Deal with Tax Problems Must be in Tax Compliance What does this Mean? 1. Must have complete all back tax returns 2. All Tax Years? Why do you need to complete all prior years? Economic Hardship to compete tax returns 4

5 III. Now that I m Compliance, What Next? Does the Taxpayer owe money to the IRS? If Yes, the IRS wants repayment of tax debt Possible remedies: 1. Payment Plan 2. Offer in Compromise 3. Non Collectible Status 4. Innocent Spousal Relief 5

6 A. Repayment Plan Monthly Periodic Payments When IRS believes they can collect Taxpayer has Assets and/or the ability to pay within the 10 year Statute of Limitations 6

7 B. Offer In Compromise (OIC)? Taxpayer pays a lesser sum than what is owed and IRS writes off balance Difficult Basis 1. Doubt as to Collectability 2. Effective Tax Administration 7

8 Federal Tax Liens Liens gives the IRS a legal claim to your property as security or payment for your tax debt. A Notice of Federal Tax Lien may be filed only after: The IRS assesses your liability The IRS sends you a Notice and Demand for Payment - a bill that tells you how much you owe in taxes You neglect or refuse to fully pay the debt within 10 days after the IRS notifies you about it 8

9 Federal Tax Lien The lien attaches to all your property (such as your house or car) and to all your rights to property (such as your accounts receivable, if you are a business). Once a lien is filed, your credit rating may be harmed. You may not be able to get a loan to buy a house or a car, get a new credit card, or sign a lease. Therefore it is important that you work to resolve your tax liability as quickly as possible, before lien filing becomes necessary. 9

10 Federal Tax Lien Lien Release vs. Lien Withdrawal Lien Release - No longer in effect, however the fact that the taxpayer had a lien will still be on their credit report, thus potentially impacting future purchases or acquisitions for approximately 7 to 10 years depending on when the release occurred. Lien Withdrawal - No longer in effect and the history of the lien is taken off the taxpayer s credit report as if it never happened. 10

11 C. Non-Collectable Status IRS suspends Collection Based on Financial/other Hardship Interest and Penalties Continue to Accrue Tax Debt Grows Should only be used in Limited Circumstances 11

12 D. Innocent Spousal Relief Joint Returns Filed Tax Debt Incurred Spouses Separate One Spouse can request relief on the tax debt if: 1. The spouse did not know or had reason to know of the debt. 2. No economic benefit to the spouse. 12

13 Fresh Start Program On February 24, 2011, the Internal Revenue Service Commissioner announced an initiative to help people get a fresh start with their tax liabilities. The initiative centers on changes to IRS collection practices that will lessen the negative impact on taxpayers. 13

14 Adjustment to IRS Lien Policies Significantly increasing the dollar threshold when liens are generally issued, resulting in fewer tax liens Making it easier for taxpayers to obtain lien withdrawals after paying a tax bill Withdrawing liens in most cases where a taxpayer enters into a Direct Debit Installment Agreement Fresh Start Program 14

15 Adjustment to IRS Lien Policies Increase in the lien filing threshold From $5,000 to $10,000 Requesting a lien withdrawal after the lien has been released Lien withdrawal after entering into a Direct Debit installment agreement Fresh Start Program 15

16 Eligibility Requirements for Lien Withdrawal with Direct Debit installment Agreement Current Liability must be $25k or less If more than $25k is owed Taxpayer can pay down liability to $25k and then request withdrawal Direct Debit Installment Agreement must be paid in full within 60 months, or before the Collection Statute Expires, whichever is earlier Fresh Start Program 16

17 Eligibility Requirements for Lien Withdrawal with Direct Debit installment Agreement (Cont) Must be in full compliance with filing and payments Must have made 3 consecutive direct debt payments Cannot previously received a withdrawal for the same taxes, unless previous lien was improper. Cannot have defaulted on your current, or any previous, direct debit installment agreement Fresh Start Program 17

18 Expanded Streamlined Offer in Compromise program Fewer requests for additional financial information If necessary, requests for additional information by phone, not by mail Greater flexibility when considering your ability to pay Fresh Start Program 18

19 IV. IRS-Collection Practices Garnishment of Wages Liens Levies Social Security Benefits Notice of Federal Tax Lien 19

20 V. The IRS Owes Me Money Was the Refund Claimed within 3 years? If yes, File an Audit Reconsideration Type of refunds which are problematic 1. Dependency Credits 2. Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC) 3. Small Business/Home Office 20

21 VI. Audits What is an Audit? Whenever the IRS disallows a refund or requests additional information In person vs. correspondence audits 21

22 VII. Identity Theft Immediately make a police report Immediately complete the necessary IRS Identity Theft Form Contact the Social Security 22

23 VIII. Foreclosure and Cancellation of Debt If my home is foreclosed, can there be tax liability? YES! Are there any Exceptions? YES! Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act 23

24 IX. What should I do If I cannot obtain the Necessary Relief from the IRS? File an Appeal and go through the appeal process Tax Court 24

25 X. Is the IRS looking to Get me? Yes and No Depends on the Issue How Much is Owed? What is at Stake? 25

26 XI. How Should I handle my Matter before the IRS Get informed! Be Patient Be Courteous Do not mislead or lie Contact a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic or the Taxpayer Advocate 26

27 XII. Legal Aid Society of Orange County-LITC LASOC Hotline (714)

28 XIII. IRS Taxpayer Advocate Call (949) State Tax issues: (800)

29 QUESTIONS? 29

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