Monday, March 31, 2014

#IRS Announces New Tax Scams

The #IRS recently announced two scams that will impact taxpayers and the manner in which they deal with the #IRS.

The newest approach involves scammers phoning taxpayers using fake names and IRS badge numbers - brazen acts to further intimidate unsuspecting taxpayers into providing the scammers with sensitive financial data. This method is effective because the #IRS will contact you by phone and the agent will identify himself with name and badge number.

Further complicating the situation is that the scammer will threaten the taxpayer with severe consequences if the tax bill is not paid. The scammer may also have stolen an #IRS notice from the taxpayers mailbox, providing the scammer with an amount, a notice number and date, and other valuable information about the taxpayer's actual tax problem.

The scammer will make threats, may use rude tones and language, and demand action now. Unfortunately, some agents may use these same tactics, especially when attempting to collect large amounts or trust fund related taxes.

The second scam involves a "phising" attempt via email.

Taxpayers should be aware that the #IRS never uses email to collect taxes.

The first scam is troublesome because it mimics the exact approach that the #IRS takes to collect taxes.

Taxpayers should contact the #IRS via their 800 number, 800-829-1040, to verify collection status and action.

Do you have questions about your tax situation? Contact Austin tax attorney Martin Cantu with you questions. #Austin-Tax-Help #SATaxHelp

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Affordable Care Act Overview

Here is some information put out by the #IRS on the Affordable Care Act, and your duties under the Act. 

The Individual Shared Responsibility Payment – An Overview
Starting January 2014, you and your family must either have health insurance coverage throughout the year, qualify for an exemption from coverage, or make a payment when you file your 2014 federal income tax return in 2015. Many people already have qualifying health insurance coverage and do not need to do anything more than maintain that coverage in 2014.
Qualifying coverage includes coverage provided by your employer, health insurance you purchase in the Health Insurance Marketplace, most government-sponsored coverage, and coverage you purchase directly from an insurance company. However, qualifying coverage does not include coverage that may provide limited benefits, such as coverage only for vision care or dental care, workers’ compensation, or coverage that only covers a specific disease or condition.
You may be exempt from the requirement to maintain qualified coverage if you:
  • Have no affordable coverage options because the minimum amount you must pay for the annual premiums is more than eight percent of your household income,
  • Have a gap in coverage for less than three consecutive months, or
  • Qualify for an exemption for one of several other reasons, including having a hardship that prevents you from obtaining coverage, or belonging to a group explicitly exempt from the requirement.
A special hardship exemption applies to individuals who purchase their insurance through the Marketplace during the initial enrollment period for 2014 but due to the enrollment process have a coverage gap at the beginning of 2014.
For any month in 2014 that you or any of your dependents don’t maintain coverage and don’t qualify for an exemption, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment with your 2014 tax return filed in 2015.
However, if you went without coverage for less than three consecutive months during the year you may qualify for the short coverage gap exemption and will not have to make a payment for those months. If you have more than one short coverage gap during a year, the short coverage gap exemption only applies to the first.
If you (or any of your dependents) do not maintain coverage and do not qualify for an exemption, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment with your return. In general, the payment amount is either a percentage of your income or a flat dollar amount, whichever is greater. You will owe 1/12th of the annual payment for each month you (or your dependents) do not have coverage and are not exempt. The annual payment amount for 2014 is the greater of:
  • 1 percent of your household income that is above the tax return threshold for your filing status, such as Married Filing Jointly or single, or
  • Your family’s flat dollar amount, which is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, limited to a maximum of $285.
The individual shared responsibility payment is capped at the cost of the national average premium for the bronze level health plan available through the Marketplace in 2014. You will make the payment when you file your 2014 federal income tax return in 2015.
For example, a single adult under age 65 with household income less than $19,650 (but more than $10,150) would pay the $95 flat rate.  However, a single adult under age 65 with household income greater than $19,650 would pay an annual payment based on the 1 percent rate.

Have questions on your tax situation? Contact Austin Tax Attorney Martin Cantu

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

#IRSAppeals - The Saving Grace

Just when all is lost, the #IRSAppeals section comes to the rescue - sort of.

#IRSAppeals is a great tool to use, at the right time and under the right circumstance. It can provide taxpayers with a break to get their house in order and make a good faith attempt to pay off the tax debt, usually via an installment plan.

Its not quick fix pill. It takes work to muster the documents needed to support the taxpayer's position and to give the appeals officer the foundation to make the decision you want them to make.

I like because is changes the playing field, getting it off one person's desk (collections) and onto another person's desk (appeals). Maybe its a card your don't have to play, or maybe its one you save for an other day. That is where experience plays a big role.

As one collection officer told me recently, there are appeals opportunities all through the process. He was right, but the taxpayer has to get involved early to take advantage of those opportunities.

Have questions about your appeal rights? Contact #Austin-Tax-Help today for a no-cost/no-obligation phone consult. Tax Attorney Martin Cantu will answer your questions and assist you in your decision making process.