Have a Tax Issue With the IRS? You Could Always Take Them to Court

What would you do if the IRS makes a decision you don’t agree with? For example, let’s say you file a tax return and send it in expecting to receive a refund of $1,500. However, a few weeks later, instead of receiving your refund, you get a letter in the mail informing you that you made a mistake and you will only be receiving $1,100. You’d be upset for sure, but most people probably figure there’s nothing they can do about it.

Actually, that’s not the case. Did you know that if you disagree with the IRS on your return you could ask them to change their decision? That sounds like a futile move, right? Why would they change their mind? There is another option, though. If you really feel that you have been treated unjustly you can take the IRS to the United States tax Court. That doesn’t sound very fun, either, but it is an option.

The good news is that the U.S. Tax Court is not affiliated with the IRS. That means the IRS is in the same boat as you if your case goes to trial. There are several reasons that people decide to challenge the IRS in court, which include:

  • The IRS assess a deficiency
  • An abatement request
  • Request relief from a joint return
  • Disagreements on worker classification
  • Summons enforcement
  • Gross income
  • Accuracy-related penalty

While most people would rather not spend any more time dealing with the IRS than they have to, if you do feel you have been treated unfairly by the tax agency, then you don’t have to just sit back and take it.

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Tax Season Got You Down? Blame Obamacare

What do you hate the most about taxes? Is it the simple fact that you have to file them? Is it the fear of being chosen for an audit? Is it all the confusing changes on tax laws and policies that drive you nuts? There are a lot of reasons people hate dealing with taxes, but this year, there could be a new number one reason for aggravation. Obamacare!

Although it’s actually called the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, as most people know it, is sure to bring a lot of confusion and frustration this tax season. It will affect just about everyone in some way, but some more than others. Three aspects of your return in particular could feel the effects of Obamacare.

First and foremost, there is the individual penalty if you don’t have insurance. Here’s how the penalty works. If you don’t have insurance then you will pay the greater of the these two amounts:

  • 1 percent of your annual household income, or
  • $95 per person in the household for the entire year ($47.50 for those under 18).

Obamacare will also affect the Net Investment Income Tax, because as part of the plan there is a new 3.8 percent tax that will be added on to the capital gain rate. This 3.8 percent is applied to either the amount by which your adjusted gross income exceeds a certain tax threshold or to your net investment income; whichever is less.

Lastly, the Premium tax credit will also see the effects of Obamacare. Anyone who had health insurance via a Health Care Exchange could see the government subsidize his or her premiums.

So there you have it. Like it or not, Obamacare is probably going to affect you this year no matter what tax boat you’re in. Of course, we can help you get through the murky waters of the Affordable Health Care Act and ensure that you get the most from your return. Just call us at 1-877-CPA-2006 or click here.

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Could a Trust Be a Good Way for the Wealthy to Save on Taxes?

When you think of trusts, what comes to mind? While many people think of a financial account that is set up as part of an estate plan, there are a couple of little-known trusts that taxpayers, especially the wealthy, can use to help them save on their tax bill.

These trusts are perfectly legal and recognized by the IRS, but not a lot of taxpayers are aware of them. Both of these trusts revolve around the difference in ownership rules between estate tax/gift purposes and income tax purposes. So can these differences in ownership rules help taxpayers save money? Yes.

One of these trusts, know as the Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT), is in many cases used by wealthy people in order to lessen the blow of the gift/estate tax that family members have to pay when assets are shifted from one generation to another. Essentially, it allows parents to give a gift to their children for gift/estate tax purposes, while they can still be considered as the owners of the trust as it pertains to tax purposes. This allows their children to inherit the assets at a much lower tax rate than what would otherwise be imposed at death.

 Another trust that can help you at tax time is the Incomplete-Gift Non-Grantor (ING) Trust. It actually is designed to do the opposite of an IDGT. Essentially the transfer of funds is not considered complete as far as estate tax purposes are concerned, but it is completed as far as income tax purposes are concerned. These means that the parents are no longer considered as the assets’ owners when it comes to income tax purposes. The trust becomes an actual taxpayer and has its own residence, which is actually in a state without income tax, as long as the state allows such a trust.

 Both of these trusts can be an effective away to save on your taxes, especially for people who have high value assets and who want to gift those assets to their children. If you want to learn more about these trusts and determine if one might be right for you, then give us a call at 1-877-CPA-2006, or click here to get in touch with us online.

 

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Will Fewer Audits Lead to More Cheating?

There’s an old saying that cheaters never prosper. Of course, there are probably many people who have gotten away with cheating that would beg to differ. When it comes to taxes, however, it’s always best to avoid cheating. Surely, some people do get away with it, but if you ever get caught it could cost you dearly. So why all the talk about cheating? We certainly don’t condone cheating on your taxes at GROCO, but some people might be under the impression that this could be a good year to try.

Why is that? Well, according to recent reports from the IRS, because of budget cuts, the agency will be doing a lot fewer audits this year. That means more false or erroneous returns are likely to slip through the cracks. While fewer audits are good news for taxpayers, it could also be bad news at the same time for those who are chosen for audits. The IRS estimates it will do about 1 million audits this year, down from 1.2 million in 2014 and 1.4 million in 2012.

You might think that with fewer audits to perform the process might go a little quicker, but with a depleted staff the IRS expects that the audit process could actually take longer than normal. In any case, with fewer audits expected the IRS warns that that is not a reason for people to think they can get away with brazen cheating.

 Plus, even though you might avoid an audit this year, the IRS has three years to go back and audit a return after it has been filed. Plus, if someone bluffs on their income by 25 percent or more the tax agency has as long as six years to review his or her return. Add to that the fact that the IRS’s budget could improve in coming years, which would give them more money and staff to work with, and cheating on your taxes should seem less tempting.

 

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What Steps Lead to an Effective Estate Plan?

Do you have an estate plan? A lot of people don’t, for a lot of different reasons. Some people would rather not discuss their death under any circumstances, other people think they are too young to worry about an estate plan, while others just don’t know, or aren’t, sure where to begin. However, it’s a good idea for everyone to have an estate plan in place; and for those who already have one, it’s a good idea to review it often.

A good estate plan consists of several things, but every estate plan is a little different according to each individual’s circumstances. However, there are some aspects that are consistent with every effective estate plan. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

  • Be sure you determine who will be in charge of your estate and your affairs should become unable to do so.
  • It’s always a good idea to set things up to avoid probate both in this life and for your heirs when you die. Trusts can help you do this.
  • Make sure to take care of your children, including children from a first marriage if you have divorced and remarried.
  • Protect the assets that your heirs will inherit from lawsuits, divorces and high taxes.
  • Be sure to leave provisions and assets for any children or grandchildren with special needs.

These are just a few of the important things to keep in mind when planning your estate. If you have more questions about estate planning, especially as it pertains to your taxes, then please contact GROCO today at 1-877-CPA-2006. We can help answer your questions and get you prepared for the future. Click here to learn more.

 

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How to Avoid Tax Preparation Scams

With so much to do and so many other important things to worry about, many people will be looking for help over the coming weeks and months with their income tax returns. While some people might just choose the first name they see to file their taxes, whom you choose can actually make a big difference.

Not only can your tax preparer play a big role in how much money you get back, but also there are some preparers that are simply looking to scam you. With nearly 60 percent of all tax returns being done by paid tax professionals, that means there is a lot of risk to taxpayers if they don’t choose wisely.

Fraudulent tax preparers use many different kinds of scams to cheat people out of money. These scams vary, with some preparers filing false returns in order to collect more money and others being outright scams, wherein the preparer files unauthorized returns and then takes most or all of the refund. The real problem for you the taxpayer is that if the IRS catches these fraudulent returns, you will be held liable even if you weren’t aware of your tax preparer’s actions.

So what should you do to avoid these scams? These are just a few ideas to keep in mind:

 

  • Stay away from preparers asking for a percentage of your refund as their fee.
  • Make sure you always look at the fine print and don’t sign a blank return.
  • Never hand over financial info to a preparer unless you’ve chosen him/her to prepare your return.
  • Make sure the preparer has signed the return and has included his/her IRS Tax Preparer Identification Number (PTIN).
  • Don’t trust a preparer who doesn’t ask a lot of questions.
  • Check out what the IRS says about choosing a tax professional.

 

Don’t get scammed by a shady tax preparer, make sure you do your homework first. Of course, you can always trust GROCO to give you honest and timely service. Our goal is to help you pay as little in taxes as legally possible. Contact us today at 1-877-CPA-2006.

Are You Looking To Invest for Growth?

What kind of investor are you? There are many types of investment strategies and each person will follow the strategy that best fits his or her plan. At GROCO, we can help all kinds of investors, including those who are investing for growth. When it comes to long-term growth, the total return on your investment is what matters most.

Long-term investing is not for everyone. As the name implies long-term investing means you will need to practice patience. That means if you expect to get a valuable return then you have to be in it for the long haul. So given that you are looking for long-term investment growth, what factors do you need to keep in mind?

First, you need to determine when is the best time to purchase stocks. Many investors try to pick the perfect time according to market fluctuations, however, in actuality, the best time to get involved in investing is whenever you have the money available to invest.

You will also need to properly allocate your assets, with the right amount going into stocks and the right amount going into bonds. According to one tax expert, over the long haul, bonds have shown to have more risk than stocks when investors have held them for longer periods of time, including for more than 10 years.

To some, investing is a crapshoot, while to others it is an art form. Either way, if you have more questions regarding long-term investment growth then give GROCO a call today at 1-877-CPA-2006. You can also click here click here to learn more.

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Will Your Tax Refund Be Delayed?

It’s only January, but because the calendar has turned to 2015, that means the tax season is officially here. While most people don’t file their taxes in January, there are a few early birds who go after the first worms of the year, so-to-speak. Although it’s often a good idea to make sure the IRS, and your tax preparer, has all the new tax laws in place before you file your taxes, it sounds like filing early this year could be a good idea.

That’s because for those who want to get their refund back quickly the longer they wait to file could mean the longer they wait to get that refund. Of course, in any year most people who wait to file will have to wait longer to get their refund. The more returns the IRS has to check the longer it’s going to take, so naturally if you wait to file, chances are you’ll wait longer to see the money in your account.

However, it appears that this year the wait could be even longer than normal, that’s because according to recent reports, budget cuts at the IRS could really slow things down. While IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen assures the country that everyone’s return will indeed get processed, he also says that with the agencies limited resources this year, including employees, that the IRS will most likely not be able to provide filers with refunds as quickly as they have in the past.

However, the commissioner did not give an estimated timetable for how long people might have to wait to see their refunds, only that it could take longer. The IRS is feeling the pinch in resources after Congress cut its budget by $346 million for the coming year, which ends in September.

Whatever the case, you can contact GROCO anytime you are ready to start preparing your tax return this season. Just call us today at 1-877-CPA-2006, or click here to get in touch with us online.

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With Gas Prices Down, Could Gas Taxes Be Going Up?

Rich or poor, young or old, no one likes high gas prices – with the possible exception of oil and gas companies. In any case, the recent drop in gas prices around the country has no doubt brought some relief to just about everyone in America, including big corporations that own large fleets of vehicles.

However, just when everyone was starting to get excited by the continuing decline in the prices at the pump, some lawmakers think that now might be the perfect time to add a little more tax to price of gas. The federal gas tax currently sits at 18.4 cents a gallon and it hasn’t increased since 1993. In addition to the federal gas tax, most states also charge additional gas taxes, with the average rate per state being 23.5 cents a gallon.

Despite the fact motorists hate any type of increase in gas prices, lawmakers have seen the real value of the gas tax diminish thanks to inflation since 1993. In fact, the gas tax only generates about two-thirds the amount of real dollars it did 21 years ago. Because the real buying power of that gas tax revenue has declined that means there is now less money to repair bridges and roads.

Because America’s roads, both locally and nationally, are reportedly in such bad condition and the federal Highway Trust Fund is essentially broke, lawmakers are seriously considering raising gas prices.

However, that being said, the conversation about raising gas taxes has yet to reach the forefront of hot topics in Washington, as the government still has many other issues to settle that are more pressing.

Meantime, if you need help saving a little more on your next return or planning for this coming year’s taxes, then contact GROCO today by clicking here.

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Not Living on the Earth? You Still Have to Pay Your Taxes on Time

You gotta hand it to the IRS for being thorough. They’ll leave no stone unturned in an effort to make sure that every taxpayer files their return. That’s even true of very big stones, otherwise known as asteroids. In other words, even if an astronaut wanted to hide behind an asteroid or a moon rock, he or she would still have to file a tax return on time.

That’s right, when it comes to filing taxes, unless you go through the proper channels and file for an extension, then you must pay your taxes on time, even if you’re an astronaut in the middle of space from January 1 to April 15. So what is a space traveler to do if he or she ends up in orbit when taxes are due?

Well, like any other traveler back here on the ground can do, they need to contact a good accountant. Although this situation may not apply to a lot of people right now, as more and more people and businesses in the private sector delve into space travel it could definitely come into play more often and for more people, including the ultra-wealthy who are behind these new space travel endeavors.

Meantime, there are many other world travelers that spend many months at a time abroad. Just like astronauts, they too need to make sure they file their taxes on time. If you count yourself among the many who spend a lot of time away from home, including some of the very wealthy, then make sure you don’t overlook your tax planning and preparing duties. Contact GROCO and you can have peace of mind that your taxes will be taken care of, whether you’re in Europe, Asia, and Australia or even in space.

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