GET TAX HELP (800) 536-0734

Inflation Reduction Act Part IV: More Audits, More Tax Collection

inflation reduction act

We know that an increased budget for enforcement will lead to more audits. More audits mean more tax collection. The question that remains to be answered is exactly how much federal tax revenue the IRS expects to collect with the new Inflation Reduction Act

How much taxes will be collected with the Inflation Reduction Act? 

The Congressional Budget Office recently released a report that estimated the budgetary effects of the Inflation Reduction Act. They expect increased collections of about $203 billion over the next decade. This would raise federal revenue by almost $125 billion during that 10-year period after taking into account the $80 billion cost of the act.  

Why is tougher enforcement necessary? 

According to the IRS, most taxpayers pay their federal taxes willingly and on time. However, that still leaves nearly $400 billion in uncollected tax payments. They believe that tougher enforcement can help close the tax gap. In other words, stricter enforcement will help lessen the difference between the amount of taxes that is collected, and the amount taxpayers owe.  

IRS enforcement, audits in particular, has been less frequent in the last decade. In fact, audit rates have dropped for all levels of income between 2010 and 2019. In fact, a tax return was three times more likely to be audited in 2010 than in 2019. However, this is not due to the IRS becoming more lenient or forgiving. The issue centers around staffing levels and funding. The IRS is expecting the new funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to help balance staffing levels in order to be able to collect more tax revenue.  

Are you prepared for increased tax collection? 

With increased IRS tax collection approaching, it’s important to be prepared. It’s never too late to seek tax debt relief. Get protected from the stress and burdens that come with IRS tax collection. Give us a call at 800-536-0734 for a free consultation. 

Inflation Reduction Act Part III: More Auditors, More Audits

inflation reduction act

More than half of the $80 billion Inflation Reduction Act will be spent on IRS enforcement. This specifically means collecting back taxes, conducting criminal investigations, monitoring digital assets, obtaining legal support and hiring thousands of new IRS auditors. 

How many auditors will the IRS hire? 

The IRS is looking to hire nearly 87,000 employees over the next 10 years. This is a major increase from its current 80,000 employees. A majority of the new hires will help bring IRS staffing levels back up to par to maintain efficiency. As of now, it remains to be seen exactly how many of the new hires will be responsible for auditing. The IRS will determine the number of enforcement agents they hire. 

Who will be audited? 

More auditors mean more audits, so understandably taxpayers are wondering if they will be impacted. The U.S. Treasury Department has said that the low and middle-class, as well as small businesses, will not be the focus of the upcoming increased enforcement activity. The IRS is to focus its auditing efforts on high-income taxpayers and large corporations. Specifically it will focus on those that earn more than $400,000 per year. The bill itself includes language that states the goal of the Inflation Reduction Act is not to increase taxes for any individual or entity earning less than $400,000 per year.  

Are you prepared for an audit? 

All in all, with increased IRS enforcement activity approaching, it’s important to be prepared. It’s never too late to seek tax relief. Let Optima’s team of experts help you get protected from the stress and burdens that come with IRS enforcement. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over a decade of experience helping taxpayers.  

If You Need Tax Help, Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation 

What does it mean to get audited?

What does it mean to get audited?

Back in the day, the word “audit” conjured up widespread fear and loathing. With an astonishing 5.6 percent of all Americans receiving that dreaded audit notice from the Internal Revenue Service in 1963, nearly everyone knew someone who had been subjected to a tax audit. The number of IRS audits has declined sharply since then, with a 23 percent decline in the past twenty years. Nonetheless, the IRS has not completely pulled the plug on audits, although budget cuts has precipitated a shift from all-encompassing in-person audits in favor of less cumbersome, less costly audits that focus on specific tax issues.

Five Reasons for an IRS Audit

So, why would a person or business get audited? Here are some of the reasons you may be audited by the IRS.

  1. Failing to report income
  2. Claiming too much in charitable donations
  3. Claiming too many business expenses
  4. Claiming a loss for a “hobby” activity
  5. Making errors on your return

Tax Return Errors

The vast majority of audits are related to items on tax returns that trigger red flags, such as math errors, inconsistencies between W-2 and 1099 forms.

Unusual Increases or Decreases in Income

Another common red flag is a return that shows a reported income or income far out of line with earnings from previous years.

Associated Transactions

You may also be audited if your tax return reflects transactions with another taxpayer who is being audited.

Above Average Withholding

Automatic red flags such as above average withholding for your income level may also trigger an audit.

Random Audits

A certain number of audits are the result of plain bad luck – returns chosen at random.

How Do You Know If the IRS Is Auditing You? The letter informing you that you are being audited should include a notice number in the right-hand corner. This notice number will indicate the reason for the audit. You should use this notice as a guide to determine which records you should gather. Scams are unfortunately common, so it’s important to understand the process. Learn more about the audit notification process in our blog: How to Know If The IRS Is Auditing You.

The Types of Audits

The audit notification letter you receive should also indicate what type of IRS audit you have been selected for. Depending on the type of audit you are facing, your tax matters could be settled in a matter of days or linger for months. For more involved audits, obtaining the services of a tax professional is highly advisable. Consider the following types of audits to better understand what it means to get audited.

Correspondence Audit

A correspondence audit is conducted by mail. Correspondence audits usually involve tax matters that are relatively easy to resolve. In most instances the IRS is seeking copies of checks, receipts and other documentation to support deductions or credits that you have claimed, or to clarify other items on your tax return.

Office Audit

An office audit is conducted in person at your local IRS office. You should be prepared to report to the office with copies of the requested documentation. You may also have a legal representative or your tax preparer present during the audit.

Field Audit

Like an office audit, a field audit is also conducted in person. Unlike an office audit, a field audit is conducted in your place of business. You should be prepared to present copies of your documentation at the audit, and your legal representative or tax professional should also be present. You are not obliged to allow IRS personnel into your home unless the agency has obtained a court order. If you claim the home office deduction, agents may request to enter your home; if you refuse the request, your deduction will almost certainly be disallowed.

Taxpayer Compliance Measurement Program Audit

The IRS uses Taxpayer Compliance Measurement Program (TCMP) audits to update the data it uses to write it computer scoring program. This is the most extensive type of audit, which examines every aspect of your tax return. If you receive notice of a TCMP audit, you should be prepared to present exhaustive documentation, including birth and marriage certificates.

Can You Go to Jail for an IRS Audit?

While an audit may require significant effort on your part to gather the documentation required, it should not inspire panic. The unofficial threshold set by the IRS for tax fraud is at least $70,000 in unlawfully uncollected taxes and at least three years of fraudulent conduct. Therefore, while the odds are stacked against you in terms of escaping without additional tax obligations, it is extremely unlikely that as an honest taxpayer, you will face criminal charges or jail time as a result of an audit.

Learn more about tax fraud and how it happens with Optima Tax Relief. If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

IRS Tax Audit Penalties & What You Should Know

IRS Tax Audit Penalties & What You Should Know

If you have been summoned for an audit by the IRS, you should know that the odds of escaping without owing additional taxes are slim. In general, the IRS does not spend resources on conducting tax audits unless there’s a good chance for significant revenue to be gained.

What you may not be aware of is that, if you owe more, along with extra taxes, you will likely be assessed tax penalties of some type. The amount and severity of the tax penalties are directly related to the type of deficiency the audit uncovered. But you also have the opportunity to soften the blow or perhaps even qualify for a penalty abatement.

Accuracy Related Tax Penalties

If an IRS audit finds that you filed a substantially inaccurate return, you could be facing accuracy related tax penalties of 20% of the amount you underpaid. In extreme cases, the penalty charged could be doubled to a whopping 40% of your total tax underpayment. The following list indicates the types of accuracy related tax penalties that may result from an IRS tax audit. (About Money)

  • Negligence or Disregard of Regulations. Failure to make a reasonable attempt to adhere to Federal tax code rules, such as failing to file a tax return at all
  • Disregarding IRS Rules or Regulations. Positions taken on tax returns that are substantively inconsistent with IRS regulations
  • Substantially Understating Your Taxes. Understating your income by $5,000 or 10%, whichever is greater.
  • Substantially Misstating the Value of Property. Overvaluing of donated property or undervaluing of depreciating property by 200% carries a 20% penalty. Overvaluing donated property or undervaluing depreciating property by 400% carries a 40% penalty
  • Substantially Overstating Pension Liabilities. Overstatement of pension liabilities by at least 200% carries a 20% penalty; overstatement of pension liabilities by 400% carries a 40% penalty. No penalty will be applied if the overstatement is $1,000 or less
  • Substantially Understating a Gift or Estate. Erroneously stating the value of property claimed on a gift tax or estate tax return at 65% or less of its actual market value carries a 20% penalty. Erroneously stating the value of property claimed on a gift tax or estate tax return at 40% or less of its actual market value carries a 40% penalty. No penalty will result if the understatement results in a tax underpayment of $5,000 or less.
  • Understatements Related to Reportable Transactions. There’s a 20% penalty for understating tax liabilities due to a tax shelter or tax avoidance transaction that are disclosed. Inadequately disclosed tax shelters or tax avoidance shelters carry a 30% penalty.

Penalties for Failure to File Returns and Pay Taxes

If you are late in filing your tax return or paying your taxes, the penalty is 5% of the unpaid tax, charged each month, up to a maximum of 25%. A minimum penalty of $135 can be charged for returns filed more than 60 days late. Filing your return on time but paying late carries a lighter penalty of 0.5% of the tax you owe each month up to 25%. If you are charged for both tax penalties for the same month, the penalty for failure to file is reduced to 4.5%. (IRS.gov)

If you fail to pay up on taxes owed after an audit, the IRS will assess a penalty of 0.5% for each month the tax is not paid. The clock starts ticking 21 days after the IRS issues the notice. If you pay the amount owed in full within 21 days, you will not be charged an additional penalty.

To add insult to injury, if an audit results in accuracy related penalties, fraudulent failure to file a tax return or civil fraud, the IRS adds interest of 3% annually to the amount of your penalty. If the penalty is $100,000 or less, you have 21 days to pay in full before interest is added. If the penalty is more than $100,000, you only have 10 days to pay up before the IRS begins adding interest.

Civil Fraud Penalty

If an IRS audit results in a charge of civil fraud, you won’t wind up in jail. But the IRS slaps a hefty 75% penalty on any tax underpayment that resulted from fraudulent activity.

There is one sliver of a silver lining to this financially dark cloud — accuracy related penalties cannot be applied to taxes owed as a result of civil fraud. In other words, you can’t be penalized on top of a penalty.

Fraudulent Failure to File a Tax Return

If you mistakenly believe that you were not obliged to file a tax return and the IRS catches up with you through an audit, you’ll be hit with tax penalties for failure to file and failure to pay, but you won’t be charged with fraudulent failure to file a tax return.

Instead, fraudulent failure to file a tax return refers to a deliberate failure to file a return and can be either a civil or misdemeanor criminal offense, although civil charges are much more common. If criminal charges are filed, you could be sentenced to up to a year in jail plus $25,000 in fines for each year that you fail to file. The statute of limitations for criminal charges is six years; there is no statute of limitation for civil charges.

Willful Failure to Pay Estimated Taxes or Keep Records

Willful failure to pay estimated taxes or maintain tax records is considered to be a misdemeanor by the IRS. Just as with fraudulent failure to file a tax return, civil rather than criminal penalties are applied most often for this type of infraction. If the IRS brings criminal charges against you, as the result of an audit or criminal investigation, you could face up to a year in jail and $25,000 in fines for each year for which you are charged.

Filing a Fraudulent Return

Many tax protesters, including actor Wesley Snipes and singer Lauryn Hill, have found themselves on the wrong side of the law because they filed frivolous returns based on claims that income taxes are unconstitutional. Filing a fraudulent tax return is considered a felony, but less serious than tax evasion. If you are convicted of filing a fraudulent return as a result of an audit or as a result of IRS investigation, you could face up to 3 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. (IRS.gov)

Tax Evasion

Tax evasion has snared some of the most notorious figures in history, including Chicago crime syndicate boss Al Capone. The IRS defines tax evasion as the willful concealment or misrepresentation of financial resources and assets to avoid paying taxes. If an IRS audit or criminal investigation results in a tax evasion conviction, you could be facing up to 5 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.

Audit Reconsideration

If worse comes to worse and you are nailed with more taxes and penalties as the result of an audit, but you disagree with the result, you can request an audit reconsideration. You must request it before you pay any taxes, penalties, or interest that you intend to dispute, not after. If you have already paid the taxes, penalty, and interest, you must request a refund. Submit the following documentation to the same office that conducted your audit. (Journal of Accountancy)

  • Statement explaining your reasons for requesting an audit reconsideration
  • Form 1099, cancelled checks, bank statements, and similar new documentation
  • Copies of previously supplied materials
  • Copies of correspondence from the IRS

The IRS is not obligated to grant your request. But if you can demonstrate any of the following circumstances, your request for audit reconsideration should be approved.

  • You did not appear for the audit
  • You moved and did not receive proper notice for the audit
  • You submitted documentation that the IRS refused to consider that would reduce or eliminate the taxes, penalties, or interest you owe
  • You have new documentation to support your case
  • You file a return that shows the correct tax to replace a return created by the IRS because you previously failed to file a return
  • The IRS committed math or processing errors in calculating the tax you owe

The IRS should respond to your request for an audit reconsideration within 30 days, although the wait could be longer. Bear in mind that tax penalties and interest continue to accumulate during that time. If you are suffering financial hardship due to delays in processing your audit return, you can ask for your request to be expedited.

Offer in Compromise and Penalty Abatement

If your request for audit reconsideration is denied, you may still be able to ease your burden. If you cannot pay the full amount of tax that you owe, you may request an Offer in Compromise, which settles your tax obligation for a fraction of what you actually owe. Be forewarned that the IRS accepts only a small percentage of Offers in Compromise. Obtaining expert advice from the experts at Optima Tax Relief will improve your odds.

Under certain circumstances you may request a penalty abatement, which results in some or all the penalties you have been charged being waived. The IRS generally approves requests for penalty abatement based on reasonable cause or administrative waivers. To request a penalty abatement, file IRS Form 843 along with copies of any documentation you may have to support your request.

How to Know if the IRS Is Auditing You

How to Know if the IRS Is Auditing You

You may be under the impression that if you’re being audited, you’ll find out by a strong knock at your front door. Unless you’re in serious trouble, this won’t be the case.

How will you know if you’re being audited?
Short Answer: The IRS will let you know directly.

The only way you’ll know for certain if the IRS is auditing you is if the IRS tells you – either by phone or mail. If your initial contact is by email, it’s likely a scam and you should report it.

Who is most likely to be audited?
According to Bloomberg News, only 1% of all tax returns each year are audited. But there are factors that increase your chances of being targeted for an IRS audit.

  • Being rich. 12.5% of all tax returns for those who make over a million dollars a year.
  • Mistakes on your tax return. This could be anything from not reporting all of your income, your numbers not matching with your employer-provided W2s, or even math errors on your tax return. Don’t round your numbers.
  • Self-employed. The IRS will look at your deductions to see if they are the typical amount for someone in your industry. Travel/entertainment and automobile deductions are watched especially closely. While a home office is no longer an immediate reason to suspect an audit, taking the deduction needs to be backed up with detailed records.
  • Large charitable donations. If you only make $20,000 a year and yet donated a substantial amount of money, watch out.
  • Your associates. If your business partner in a firm or a close relative is being audited, you could be too.

Types of IRS Audits
There are three types of IRS audits, depending on the complexity of your return, the number of questions the IRS has and the dollar amount involved.

  • Correspondence Audit – An IRS tax audit conducted entirely by mail. The IRS likely has a short checklist of questions to ask you about your income, expenses, or itemized deductions.
  • Field Audit – The IRS will send an agent to visit you in person in your home or business. They will want to inspect the records you’ve kept.
  • Office Audit – You are requested to meet with an agent at their nearest office and bring your paperwork with you to the meeting.

If you are audited there are four things to remember:

  • Respond to their letters within the deadline given on the notice. If you need more time, you’re far more likely to get an extension if you ask for it before the deadline’s passed.
  • Gather all the documentation you need to answer their questions and provide copies to the IRS. (Never give them your original documents, they aren’t responsible if anything is lost.)
  • Bring the right representation. Not your Uncle Bill but a CPA or tax attorney. This is not the time for amateur help or to go it alone.
  • Be polite and respectful. But don’t volunteer anything. If the agent wants to expand the audit, you are entitled to more time to answer any new questions that may arise.

An IRS tax audit can be a painful experience but you will get through it with thorough preparation, and if needed, expert help from Optima Tax Relief.

Additional Tax Tips:

The IRS Criminal Investigation Process
What to do during an IRS Audit
What does the IRS look for in an audit?
IRS penalty and interest rates