In a significant development, the IRS has announced the resumption of collections in 2024. This marks a crucial phase in the aftermath of the global economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision has implications for taxpayers across the United States, as the IRS seeks to address the mounting financial pressures faced by the government. However, the IRS is providing penalty relief to nearly 5 million taxpayers. In this article, we’ll discuss the details of IRS collections in 2024 and tax relief options available for those with tough tax situations.
The temporary halt on IRS collections was initiated in February 2022 as a response to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. It provided relief to countless individuals and businesses struggling to meet their tax obligations. The suspension aimed to alleviate immediate financial burdens and stimulate economic recovery. Although taxpayers should note that the failure-to-pay penalty continues to accrue during nonpayment. However, as the nation slowly recovers, the IRS has deemed it necessary to reinstate collections to ensure the sustained functioning of essential government services.
Key Changes in IRS Collections
The IRS will send out collection notices again beginning in January 2024. The IRS is focusing on taxpayers with taxes bills for tax years before 2022. They will also send notices to businesses, tax-exempt organizations, trusts, and estates with tax bills from before 2023. The specific IRS notice being sent out will be IRS LT38, which is a notice of resumption. Taxpayers who receive this letter should contact the IRS about payments or other options available to them. If action is not taken, the next notice they receive will involve more serious action leading to IRS collections.
As collections resume, the IRS will also ramp up its enforcement efforts to address outstanding tax debts. This may involve increased audits, investigations, and legal actions against non-compliant taxpayers. It is crucial for individuals and businesses to ensure compliance with tax obligations to avoid potential legal consequences.
IRS Penalty Relief
To ease the new collections process, the IRS is offering penalty relief to nearly 5 million taxpayers, including businesses and tax-exempt organizations. The IRS did not send these taxpayers automated notices during the pandemic. The relief will come in the form of waivers for failure-to-pay penalties, adding up to $1 billion. Eligible taxpayers will automatically receive penalty abatement in their online accounts with no further action needed. If the taxpayer already paid their penalties for tax years 2020 and 2021, they would receive a refund. Alternatively, the IRS may credit the payment towards another tax bill. Refunds and credits will be sent out beginning in January 2024. More information can be found in IRS Notice 2024-7 on their website.
To be eligible for penalty relief, taxpayers must have a tax balance of less than $100,000 for each return and each entity. They also must have received an initial balance due notice between February 5, 2022, and December 7, 2023. The IRS will resume the failure-to-pay penalty for eligible taxpayers on April 1, 2024.
Preparing for IRS Collections Resumption
As the IRS gears up to resume collections, taxpayers are encouraged to take proactive steps to manage their tax liabilities effectively:
Review Financial Situation: Assess your current financial situation and evaluate your ability to meet tax obligations. Understanding your financial standing will help you make informed decisions and explore available options.
Explore Payment Plans: Investigate installment plans and other payment options offered by the IRS. Engage with the agency to negotiate a plan that aligns with your financial capacity.
Seek Professional Guidance: Consult with tax professionals or financial advisors to navigate the complexities of tax obligations. They can provide valuable insights into available options and help you make informed decisions.
Stay Informed: Stay updated on IRS communications and guidelines regarding the resumption of collections. The IRS website and official announcements will be valuable sources of information during this period.
More Relief Options for Taxpayers Who Owe
The IRS resuming collections in 2024 marks a pivotal moment for taxpayers in the United States. While it signifies a return to normalcy for government revenue collection, the penalty relief demonstrates a commitment to supporting individuals and businesses still recovering from the economic impact of the pandemic. By staying informed and proactively managing their tax obligations, taxpayers can navigate the challenges posed by the resumption of collections and work towards financial stability. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over a decade of experience helping taxpayers with tough tax situations.
In the dynamic landscape of the gig economy, where flexibility and independence are highly valued, many workers find themselves navigating the complex terrain of self-employment taxes. While the gig economy offers opportunities for individuals to earn income on their own terms, it also comes with a set of responsibilities, particularly when it comes to filing taxes. Here are the top five tax issues gig workers run into with their taxes and how to avoid them.
Failure to Set Aside Money for Taxes
One common pitfall for gig workers is not setting aside a portion of their earnings for taxes throughout the year. Unlike traditional employees who have taxes automatically withheld from their paychecks, gig workers are responsible for managing their own tax obligations. Failing to set aside money regularly can lead to a significant financial burden come tax season.
To avoid this mistake, gig workers should establish a dedicated savings account and consistently allocate a percentage of their income for taxes. A solid rule of thumb is to set aside 30% of your business income for taxes. Be sure you know every tax you are responsible for. For example, gig workers will need to pay self-employment taxes while regular W-2 workers do not.
Some gig workers inadvertently underreport their income, either due to a lack of understanding or an attempt to reduce their tax liability. This mistake can have serious consequences, including penalties and interest on unpaid taxes. Remember, now more than ever is a bad time to owe the IRS. Inflation has caused higher than normal IRS penalties and interest rates.
To avoid this error, gig workers should maintain accurate records of all their income, including earnings from various platforms and any cash transactions. You should receive IRS Form 1099-K from these platforms. Utilizing accounting software or hiring a professional can help ensure that all income is properly accounted for.
Overlooking Deductions and Credits
Gig workers often miss out on valuable deductions and credits that can help reduce their tax liability. Common deductible expenses for gig workers may include mileage, home office expenses, and equipment costs. Additionally, they may be eligible for the Qualified Business Income (QBI) deduction and other tax credits. Failing to take advantage of these opportunities means potentially paying more in taxes than necessary.
Gig workers should stay informed about tax laws and work with a tax professional to identify and claim all eligible deductions and credits. For example, as previously mentioned, gig workers must pay self-employment taxes. However, they may deduct half of the 15.3 percent self-employment tax during tax time. Do your research on what you can deduct but be careful not to deduct things you are not eligible for.
Neglecting Estimated Tax Payments
Unlike traditional employees, gig workers typically don’t have taxes withheld from their earnings throughout the year. Instead, they are responsible for making quarterly estimated tax payments. Neglecting these payments can result in underpayment penalties. Currently, underpayment penalties are 0.5% of the tax owed and it is due each month that the tax goes unpaid, for a maximum of 25% of the total balance.
To avoid this mistake, gig workers should calculate their estimated tax liability and make timely payments to the IRS. Keeping track of income and expenses throughout the year can help with accurate estimations. The IRS offers a helpful online estimated tax payment calculator to make this step easy for gig workers.
Misclassification of Employment Status
Gig workers must correctly classify their employment status, whether they are considered independent contractors or employees. Misclassification can lead to tax issues and potential legal consequences. Some platforms may incorrectly categorize workers, so it’s crucial for gig workers to understand the criteria used by the IRS to determine their status. If uncertain, seeking professional advice or consulting IRS guidelines can help ensure proper classification and compliance with tax regulations.
Tax Help for Gig Workers
Navigating the tax responsibilities of gig work requires diligence and proactive financial management. By avoiding these common tax issues, gig workers can ensure a smoother tax-filing process and potentially reduce their overall tax liability. Seeking professional guidance and staying informed about tax laws are crucial steps toward financial success in the gig economy. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over a decade of experience helping taxpayers with tough tax situations.
Receiving an IRS notice in the mail can be scary, but the situation can be less daunting if you know what to do. First, it’s important to note that not all IRS notices are negative as some are only informational. In any case, taxpayers should know what steps to take upon receiving an IRS notice.
Do Review Your IRS Notice
The IRS will send notices for many reasons, from notifying you of a balance dueto informing you of a delay in processing your return. From inquiring whether your return is missing a schedule or form required for processing to informing you of a potential audit. Carefully review your notice for important information. If you’re unsure of what the notice means, you can look up the CP or LTR number, located on the top or bottom right-hand corner of the notice.
It also shows the date and time the IRS expects you to respond. In the best case scenario, the IRS is pursuing a correspondence audit covering one or two items of a single year’s tax return. Correspondence audits are conducted entirely by mail and makeup 75 to 80 percent of all audits. An in-person interview audit takes place at your local IRS office. A field audit is scheduled for a particular date and time but takes place in your home or office. It is considered the most comprehensive type of audit.
Do Not Panic
Understand what auditors are seeking. While each audit is different, all audits focus on three basic questions:
Is your business truly a business – or just a hobby?
If you can answer these three questions to the satisfaction of the auditor, you stand a good chance of emerging from an audit relatively unscathed.
Do Gather Your Documentation
Once you have determined what information the IRS is seeking, it’s time to begin gathering your paperwork. If the IRS is challenging a particular deduction or tax credit that you claimed, gather whatever documentation you have to support your claim. This can include bank statements, receipts, and invoices. Provide as much information as possible concerning the inquiries the IRS has made. Also, make photocopies of everything that you intend to provide to the IRS. Never give up your original documents. If you must report in person for an office audit or prepare your home or office for a field audit, ensure that your paperwork – and your representative – will be available and ready.
Do Respondto the IRS Noticein a Timely Manner
If the information on the notice looks inaccurate, you should respond with a written dispute. Doing so in a timely manner can help minimize interest and penalty fees. Be sure to include any information and supplemental documentation to support your case. However, do not volunteer information the IRS has not specifically requested. Typically, the IRS should respond to disputes within 30 days.
Do Check for Scams
Remember that the IRS will never contact you via text message or social media. In fact, initial contact from the IRS is usually via mail. If the IRS notice does not appear credible, you can always check your online tax account on the IRS website to confirm balances due, communication preferences, and more.
The IRS will notify a taxpayer if they believe that there may be fraudulent activityoccurring on their tax return. The IRS will send a letter to you inquiring about a suspicious tax return that you may have not filed. They will request that you do not e-file your return because of the duplicate social security number that was used. Act quickly should you receive this letter from the IRS to avoid further fraudulent activity with your personal information.
Do Not Ignore the IRS Notice
Some IRS notices are purely informational and require no additional action. However, do not assume this is always the case and ignore the notice. Simple mistakes made on your return or underreporting income can result in the IRS requesting action from you. A notice can also be a notification that you owe taxes and will give instructions on how to pay the balance by the due date.
Do Not Replyto the IRS NoticeUnless Instructed To Do So
Typically, a response to an IRS notice is not needed. Once you confirm a response is not required, you can proceed with other actions. Even if the notice informs you of a balance due, there is no need to contact the IRS unless you do not agree with the information on the notice.
Do Learn from the Experience
Use the situation as an opportunity to learn more about tax regulations and ensure that your future tax filings are accurate and complete. Consider consulting with a tax professional for ongoing guidance.
Tax Help for Those Who Received an IRS Notice
Even if you prepare your own returns, having a professional from Optima Tax Relief check out your response before you return it to the IRS may save you from making a costly error. The IRS allows you to be accompanied by a representative if you have been contacted for an in-person interview audit or a field audit. Take advantage of this opportunity. You’ll likely be nervous during the procedure and may share information that might prompt the IRS agent to probe beyond the original scope of inquiry. Not only that, most IRS agents prefer dealing with a professional.
The best thing to do to avoid receiving warnings from the IRS is to always ensure that you remain compliant with tax law. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you owe the IRS, tax relief is always an option. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over $1 billion in resolved tax liabilities.
Today, Optima Tax Relief’s Lead Tax Attorney, Phil Hwang, discusses IRS online accounts, including why it’s beneficial for taxpayers to have them.
Having an IRS online account can offer several benefits to individuals and businesses. Here are some of the advantages of creating and using an IRS online account:
Convenience: Online accounts provide easy and convenient access to a wide range of IRS services, including filing tax returns, checking the status of tax refunds, making payments, and managing your tax information. You can access these services from the comfort of your own home or office, eliminating the need to call the IRS.
24/7 Accessibility: You can access your IRS online account at any time, day or night. This is particularly useful for people with busy schedules, those who prefer to handle their taxes outside of regular business hours, or individuals in different time zones.
Electronic Payment Options: You can make tax payments, such as estimated tax payments, electronically through your online account, including the option to pay by credit or debit card.
Online Account Management: Your online account allows you to update your personal information, such as your address or direct deposit details. It also provides access to your tax transcripts and IRS notices.
Tax Alerts and Notifications: The IRS can send important notifications and alerts through your online account, helping you stay informed about tax deadlines, changes in your tax status, or issues that require your attention.
Creating an IRS online account can help make your experience with taxes and the IRS much easier.
Tune in next Friday for another episode of “Ask Phil.” Next week’s topic: gift taxes!
Optima CEO David King and Lead Tax Attorney Philip Hwang are back from their trip to Washington D.C., where they met with members of Congress and the IRS’s new leadership to discuss what’s new in the tax world. Here is Phil and David’s recap of that meeting, including the IRS’s Strategic Operating Plan, 5,000 new customer service agents, the changes the agency’s new commissioner has already implemented and what you as a taxpayer can expect moving forward.