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Many Erroneous CP14s Have Been Issued – Here’s What You Need to Know

irs notice cp14

IRS Notice CP14 is sent to taxpayers to inform them of an outstanding balance on their federal tax account. It serves as a bill for unpaid taxes. It includes details such as the amount owed, accrued interest, and any penalties incurred. While receiving this notice might not be a shock for many, some taxpayers impacted by a declared disaster area may be surprised to see a CP14 in their mailbox despite IRS promises of tax relief. If you are one of these taxpayers who mistakenly received IRS Notice CP14 despite being in a disaster area, don’t panic. Many erroneous CP14s have been issued by the IRS. Here is what you need to know. 

Which disaster areas qualify for automatic tax extensions? 

The IRS has continued to issue automatic tax extensions to those impacted by natural disasters. These areas have included impacted counties of the following 12 states: 

  • California 
  • Florida 
  • Oklahoma 
  • Indiana 
  • Tennessee 
  • Arkansas 
  • Mississippi 
  • New York 
  • Georgia 
  • Alabama 

It also includes the impacted areas of Guam and the Mariana Islands. A full list of impacted qualified disaster areas can be found at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-relief-in-disaster-situations. All taxpayers in impacted areas were automatically given an extension of time to file. They might’ve also received an extension to pay until October 16, 2023, or another form of tax relief.  

Why did I receive a CP14 if I’m in a disaster area? 

IRS Notice CP14s have been sent out because the IRS is legally required to if a balance is due. However, many Californian taxpayers living or working in disaster areas have received this notice which demands payment to the IRS within 21 days. Unfortunately for Californians impacted by disaster, this sends mixed messages. The IRS has issued guidance to let these taxpayers know that they do indeed have until October 16, 2023 to file and pay their 2022 taxes.  

What should I do if I received a CP14 if I’m in a disaster area? 

If you received IRS Notice CP14 but you have been given an automatic tax extension due to disaster relief, you do not need to worry about submitting payment within 21 days as the notice instructs. In fact, these letters should also include a specific insert stating that the payment date indicated in the letter does not apply to anyone covered by a disaster declaration, and that the disaster dates still apply. 

While it may seem counter-intuitive, affected taxpayers do not need to call the IRS for confirmation. Doing so may result in extremely long wait times. The IRS has issued an apology for the confusion this has caused. At Optima, we understand how intimidating an IRS notice can be.  

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

What is the IRS Negligence Penalty?

what is the irs negligence penalty

Failing to pay, or even underpaying, your taxes can have drastic consequences that can cost a fortune. This is because on top of your unpaid tax balance is a heap of penalties and interest. One of the most common penalties to watch out for is an accuracy-related penalty. These can include a substantial understatement of income tax penalty and a negligence penalty. While a substantial understatement of income tax penalty usually requires an individual to lie about their income, a negligence penalty can result from being careless or reckless with your tax return. Here’s a breakdown of what the IRS negligence penalty is and how to avoid it. 

Negligence or Disregard of the Rules or Regulations Penalty 

The IRS may impose the negligence penalty on taxpayers who fail to use reasonable care or who make mistakes on their tax returns. Negligence is the failure to act with the same degree of caution that a reasonably cautious person would in a similar situation. In the context of tax returns, negligence can include the failure to maintain accurate records. It can also include failure to declare all income or to confirm the validity of a tax deduction or credit. 

How Negligence is Penalized 

The negligence penalty can be up to 20% of the portion of the underpayment of tax resulting from negligence. In addition to this penalty, the IRS also charges interest on the penalty. The current quarterly interest rate for underpayment is 8%.  

Tax Negligence vs. Tax Fraud 

The difference between the negligence penalty and the IRS’s fraud penalty should be noted. The fraud penalty can be applied to taxpayers who knowingly and purposefully understate their tax liability. It is significantly more severe. Taxpayers who make errors are subject to a less severe penalty known as negligence.   

If the IRS determines that a taxpayer has been negligent when preparing their tax return, they will typically send the taxpayer a notice informing them of the penalty. The taxpayer will then have the opportunity to dispute the penalty. They will need to provide additional information or argue that they were not negligent.  

The IRS will normally issue the taxpayer a notice advising them of the penalty if they are found to have been careless when preparing their tax return. The taxpayer will then have the chance to contest the penalty by offering more substantiating details or making a case that they weren’t negligent.   

Avoiding the IRS Negligence Penalty 

It is important for taxpayers to take the necessary steps to ensure that their tax returns are accurate and complete. This involves keeping precise records, disclosing all earnings, and only claiming the deductions and credits that they qualify for. The purpose of the IRS negligence penalty is to motivate taxpayers to take the required precautions to guarantee the accuracy and completeness of their tax returns. Additionally, it ensures sure that taxpayers cannot profit from their errors or carelessness at the expense of other taxpayers. If you’ve been hit with IRS penalties, like the negligence penalty, Optima Tax Relief can help.  

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What is the IRS Fresh Start Program?

what is the irs fresh start program

A new year could mean a financial fresh start. The IRS Fresh Start program was created to help struggling taxpayers and small businesses. In 2023, taxpayers are still asking how the program works. Here are some key details about the program. 

The History of the Fresh Start Program 

The Fresh Start Initiative was established in 2011 to give first-time tax offenders leniency and the opportunity to solve their tax issues through consolidated tax bills and payment arrangements. Shortly after launching the program, the IRS made it easier to remove federal tax liens. It also allowed taxpayers to come to more favorable payment arrangements with the IRS. One year after that, the IRS gave more taxpayers access to the Offer in Compromise (OIC) program.  

Changes to Federal Tax Liens and Installment Agreements 

The IRS used to file tax liens on balances above $5,000. The Fresh Start program increased the tax balance limit to $10,000. It also gave taxpayers the chance to withdraw their lien, which then helped those taxpayers access more credit. 

Streamlined installment agreements (SLIAs) were also expanded in 2011 that allowed more favorable terms for the taxpayer and helped avoid tax liens. This allowed taxpayers with debt of up to $50,000 to be set up with a SLIA, up from the previous $25,000 cap. Further, the term length was increased from 60 months to 71 months. The simple installment agreement is preferred for most taxpayers since it does not require giving the IRS extensive documents detailing financial situations.  

Changes to the OIC Program 

The OIC program is very sought after by taxpayers with a large tax debt balance. An Offer in Compromise is essentially an agreement between the IRS and taxpayer that settles the owed tax debt for a lesser amount. However, offers are not accepted if the IRS thinks that the taxpayer is capable of paying the balance in full. In 2012, the IRS allowed greater access to the OIC program by revising how it calculates taxpayer future income, allowing taxpayers to repay student loans and past-due state and local taxes, expanding the allowable living expense amount, and reducing the offer amount for those who qualify for an OIC. It’s important to note that the IRS does not accept OICs often. In fact, the IRS only accepted about a third of OIC applications from 2010-2019.  

Tax Help for Those Who Owe 

The Fresh Start program can really help taxpayers who owe the IRS but don’t necessarily have the funds to pay their debt. Working with an experienced tax relief company can help ease the process. If you are wondering if you are eligible for the Fresh Start program, we can help. 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 

How Home Equity Loans Affect Taxes

how home equity loans affect taxes

Sometimes the idea of taking out a second mortgage is a necessity. It can be a viable solution to eliminating debt, funding home renovations, or paying off unexpected medical bills. Before taking out a home equity loan, you should know the tax implications that come with it. Here’s how home equity loans affect taxes.

What is a home equity loan? 

Also known as a second mortgage, a home equity loan is a type of consumer debt that allows homeowners to borrow against the equity in their residence. The equity that you have accumulated through mortgage payments is used as collateral. The loan is paid out to you in a lump sum. Then it’s repaid with interest at a fixed rate each month for a set number of years.  

How much can I borrow with a home equity loan? 

Typically, the max you may borrow is around 80% to 85% of your home’s appraised value less the remaining balance on your mortgage. For example, let’s say your home is valued at $500,000, your mortgage balance is $200,000, and your lender will allow you to borrow up to 80% of your home’s value. 

$500,000 x 80% = $400,000  

$400,000 – $200,000 = $200,000 maximum loan amount 

In this scenario, you may borrow up to $200,000. The principal would be repaid at a fixed rate each month for a set number of years. This is in addition to your regular mortgage payment, hence the term “second mortgage.” 

How Do Home Equity Loans Affect My Taxes? 

Like many other loans, the interest on a home equity loan can be tax deductible, but there are some limitations. If you used funds from the loan to “buy, build, or substantially improve” the home that was used to secure the loan, the interest is tax deductible. Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, you can’t deduct loan interest if it was used for another purpose. The amount of interest that may be deducted will also depend on your filing status.  

Tax Relief for Homeowners 

Deducting home equity loan interest only makes sense if your itemized deductible expenses are more than the amount of the standard deduction. If you choose to deduct home equity loan interest, youll need to use IRS Form 1098, Mortgage Interest Statement. Tax planning can be incredibly stressful and intimidating, especially when taking new actions such as deducting loan interest. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over a decade of experience helping taxpayers with tough tax situations.  

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

How to Manage Finances as a Single Individual 

how to manage finances as a single individual

As the cost of living continues to rise, it is becoming increasingly difficult for single individuals to live comfortably. Without the safety net of a second income, the need to manage finances as a single individual is more important than ever. The process comes with unique benefits and challenges, both throughout the year and during tax time.  

Budget Tips for Single Individuals 

There are countless budget strategies you can use as a single individual. Some of the most popular ones are the 50/30/20 budget and the zero-based budget. 

50/30/20 Budget 

One of the most popular methods is the 50/30/20 budget, in which you spend about half of your after-tax income on necessities. This includes bills, groceries, housing, and all the other items that are necessary to live. Thirty percent of your income should then go to your “wants”, like dinners, entertainment, and travel. The final 20% should be designated for savings and debt repayment. These percentages can be altered to fit your own specific needs. 

Zero-Based Budget 

In the zero-based budget strategy, every dollar you earn is allocated to a specific expense. A certain dollar amount goes to housing, another goes to utilities, another goes to debt, and so on until every dollar in your paycheck is assigned to one expense. At the end of the pay period, whatever is left over is sent to your savings. This strategy is especially helpful in preventing impulse spending. 

Retirement Tips for Single Individuals 

The key to retirement savings is understanding that the earlier you start, the better. Let’s say two people begin saving $100 per month. One begins at age 25 and the other begins at age 35. The one who begins saving earlier will have nearly twice as much savings by age 65. Prioritizing any portion of your income for retirement can really maximize your savings, especially if you take advantage of employer contributions.  

Automate and Maximize Your Saving 

Having an emergency fund that can cover three to six months of expenses is crucial if you don’t have a second income to rely on if you lose your job or cannot work. Automating your savings can help you reach your goals faster. You can create automatic bank account transfers or even use mobile apps that schedule money transfers from your checking account to your savings account or online account. While you’re at it, you can maximize your savings by opening a high-yield savings account that will accrue interest at a higher rate than a typical savings account. 

Tax Relief for Single Individuals 

During tax season, it’s important to know which tax bracket you’ll fall into as a single filer. The federal income tax bracket for 2023 is as follows: 

  • 10%: $0 – $11,000
  • 12%: $11,001 – $44,725 
  • 22%: $44,726 – $95,375 
  • 24%: $95,376 – $182,100
  • 32%: $182,101 – $231,250 
  • 35%: $231,251 – $578,125
  • 37%: $578,126 and up

Single filers do not qualify for deductions that many families take advantage of, so it’s also important to learn which ones you are eligible for in order to reduce your taxable income, and even your tax bracket. Remember, the tax bracket ranges above are based on taxable income, and not the actual amount of earned income you receive. In other words, the tax bracket is based on your income after deductions and credits are taken. Doing taxes on your own can be intimidating and stressful. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over $1 billion in resolved tax liabilities.  

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