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Tips for Hiring a Tax Resolution Firm

IRS issues can be complicated to solve on your own. Understandably, many people look to find a professional tax firm for help.  But some tax companies are better qualified than others. Optima CEO David King and Lead Tax Attorney Philip Hwang provide helpful tips on how to find a truly qualified tax firm and some red flags taxpayers should look out for.

Optima Newsletter – May 2021

 Unemployment Benefits

The recently passed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan allows qualifying taxpayers who received unemployment during the 2020 tax year to have the first $10,200 of those benefits exempt from their federal income taxes. 

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The IRS has Resumed its U.S. Passport Revocation Program

The IRS recently announced that they are resuming their Passport Revocation Program. Optima CEO David King and Lead Tax Attorney Philip Hwang discuss how this program can cause delinquent taxpayers to lose their passport until they become compliant with the IRS. 

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Unemployment Fraud could affect Individuals this Tax Season

Due to the ongoing pandemic, millions of Americans lost their jobs, many of whom received unemployment benefits from their state agency. As taxpayers start to file their taxes, they need to be aware of scammers looking to file fraudulent unemployment benefits and steal their personal information.

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Filing your Taxes may be much harder this year

The IRS granted taxpayers additional time to file their federal tax returns due to COVID-19 and new stimulus provisions that made the current tax filing season much more complex compared to prior years. With so many new tax law changes, taxpayers should be more cautious when filing their taxes.

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The IRS has Resumed its U.S. Passport Revocation Program

Optima CEO David King and Lead Tax Attorney Philip Hwang answer questions on how taxpayers can avoid getting their passport seized by the IRS.

As of March 14, 2021, the IRS resumed their Passport Certification program, and in doing so has notified the Department of State about taxpayers that are certified as owing a seriously delinquent tax debt. The IRS previously suspended certain collection activities, including passport certification, under the People First Initiative, which was created in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Taxpayers who are delinquent with their tax debt should expect to receive a notice informing them of their balance due. It is recommended that individuals pay off their tax liability or enter into a payment agreement with the IRS to avoid any collection action and having their passports revoked. The level of action the IRS takes against an individual is typically based on the amount owed and how long the taxpayer has been delinquent without contacting the IRS to resolve their tax balance.

The IRS is typically required by law to certify individuals to the Department of State when an individual has unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax debt over the amount of $54,000 (including interest and penalties), of which a federal lien has be filed against and all administrative remedies under Internal Revenue Code Section 6320 have lapsed or been exhausted. The IRS is also required to certify any individuals who have had a levy issued against a tax debt of that size.

If a taxpayer has a large tax debt amount, the State Department typically will not renew or issue out a new, passport after receiving certification from the IRS, and in some extreme cases, they may even revoke someone’s current passport. Taxpayers living and working overseas will have a limited validity passport issued out by the State Department that is only valid for a direct return to the United States. Before a passport renewal or new passport application is denied, the State Department will typically hold a taxpayer’s application for 90 days to allow a taxpayer to:

  • Pay any owed tax debt in full.
  • Enter into a payment arrangement with the IRS.
  • Resolve any erroneous certification issues.

Once a taxpayer has resolved their tax issue, the IRS will generally reverse the certification within 30 days of the date of resolution and provide notification to the State Department.

Resolve your tax situation

The IRS provides a variety of programs that assist taxpayers in resolving their tax obligations including payment agreements and Offers in Compromise. In some cases, if the IRS determines a taxpayer is in a financial hardship and cannot pay any of their tax debt, a temporary delay will be made to the collection process.

Taxpayers who recently filed their tax return for the current year and expect a refund should be aware that their refund amount will be applied to the total debt owed until it has been paid in full. If the refund is enough to satisfy a delinquent tax debt, the IRS will consider the account paid in full. Taxpayers are warned to not solely rely on this option and resolve their tax issues as soon as possible in order to avoid collections with the IRS.