Our Denver tax attorneys assist clients in resolving IRS debts, audits and other matters, as well as applying the tax laws to our client’s individual and business issues. If you or your business are experiencing difficulties with the IRS or any other taxing authority, or just need tax advice, contact Buckingham & McGuire law firm.

What is a 401(k) Deferral?

Contributions to a 401(k) are qualified deferrals.  This means that the amount should not be included in your income when calculating income tax.  You can check your W-2 and the amount of taxable wage should not include the 401(k) contributions.  The video below has been prepared by a tax attorney at The McGuire Law Firm to provide additional information regarding this matter.

Common Capital Contributions to a Partnership

When forming a partnership the partners will make initial capital contributions and may make additional contributions depending upon the operations of the partnership and partnership agreement.  Common capital contributions may include cash, property (vehicles, equipment, computers etc.) and sometimes services.

The video below has been prepared by a tax attorney and business attorney at The McGuire Law Firm to discuss capital contributions.

John R. McGuire is tax attorney and business attorney at The McGuire Law Firm.  The McGuire Law Firm represents and advises clients on tax matters from IRS debts and tax audits or overall tax planning and the tax implications of certain transactions.  Further, the firm represents small and medium sized business with their contract issues as well as the formation and sale of businesses or business interests.  In addition to his law degree, John holds an advanced degree in taxation known as an LL.M.  The McGuire LAw Firm provides a free consultation with a tax attorney.

Who Can Represent Me Before the IRS?

If you are under audit by the IRS, have received a notice of deficiency or the IRS is attempting to collect past due taxes, you can receive representation.  The video below has been prepared by a tax attorney at The McGuire Law Firm to provide information regarding who can represent you before the Internal Revenue Service.

John McGuire is a tax attorney in Denver, Colorado at The McGuire Law Firm.  John’s practice focuses primarily on issues before the IRS, tax planning & analysis and advising individual and business clients on the tax implications of certain transactions such as the purchase or sale of a business.

When is a Collection Due Process Hearing Available?

A taxpayer has the right to a collection due process hearing with the Internal Revenue Service Appeals Office under certain circumstances.  This hearing can be very beneficial to a taxpayer in terms of preventing enforcement action such as a bank levy or wage garnishment and by a means to establish or propose an agreement with the IRS such as an installment agreement or offer in compromise.

The video below has been prepared to provide information as to when a taxpayer may be able to request a collection due process hearing.  If you are experiencing any issues with the IRS, you can speak with a tax attorney, by contacting The McGuire Law Firm.   As a tax attorney John McGuire has assisted many individual and business taxpayers before the IRS, including via collection due process hearings with the IRS Appeals Office.

Denver IRS Tax Attorney

IRS Appeal Rights

What are my rights as a taxpayer?  What appeal rights do I have regarding IRS actions or decisions?  These are common questions a taxpayer may have when a tax liability is owed to the IRS and the taxpayer is in the collection process with the IRS.  The information below has been provided for general information purposes.  If you owe taxes to the IRS and/or the IRS is attempting to collect the tax liability, it is highly recommend you speak with a tax attorney regarding a resolution to the matter.

Many IRS collection actions can be appealed to the IRS Appeals Office.  The appeals office is a separate office from IRS collections and is supposed to make independent decisions apart from IRS collections.  You can review Revenue Procedure 2012-18, which provides more in depth information regarding the IRS appeals’ office independence from collection.

The appeals office follows two main procedures regarding appeal action.  These two procedures would be Collection Due Process (often referred to as CDP) and Collection Appeals Program (CAP).

A Collection Due Process Hearing would be available under the following circumstances:

  • The IRS Filed a Notice of Federal Tax Lien
  • The IRS Issued a Final Notice of Intent to Levy
  • The IRS Issued Notice of Jeopardy Levy
  • The IRS Issued a Notice of Levy on Your State Tax Refund
  • Post Levy you request a hearing

A Collection Appeals Program would be available under the following circumstances:

  • Before or after the IRS files a Notice of Federal Tax Lien
  • Before or after the IRS levies or seizes your property
  • Upon the termination or proposed termination of an installment agreement
  • Upon the rejection of an installment agreement
  • Upon the modification or proposed modification of an installment agreement

A Collection Appeals Program (CAP Appeal) will generally result in a quicker appeals decision and as stated above is available for somewhat of a broader set of circumstances.  However, one should not that you cannot go to court after the CAP Appeal if you disagree with the CAP decision.

Can I represent myself?  This is a common question, and yes, just like in any court matter you can represent yourself, but you may want to consider speaking with a tax attorney if you are not experienced in IRS procedure and tax law. You can also be represented by a family member, or if you are business, a full time employee can represent the business or partners and/or officers of a business can represent the business.

The above article has been prepared by John McGuire of The McGuire Law Firm.  Mr. McGuire’s practice focuses primarily in taxation, including the representation of both individual and business taxpayers before the IRS.

IRS Appeal Rights Denver Tax Attorney

 

Deducting Business Expenses

Can I deduct my meals as a business expense?  Can I deduct this flight as a business expense?  Can I deduct the cost of my clothes or uniform as a business expense?  As a tax attorney, these are common questions I am asked, and rightfully so as everyone wants to take advantage of all potential deductions allowed by the Internal Revenue Code.  Not only is the deductibility of certain business expenses a hot topic with business owners, it is a hot topic and highly litigated topic with the Internal Revenue Service.  In fact, I recall reading a recent annual report to Congress by the Taxpayer Advocate Service whereby the deductibility of trade or business expenses he been one of the top ten most litigates issues for a very long time.  Furthermore, the same report stated that the courts affirmed the position taken by the Internal Revenue Service (the dissallowance 0f the deduction) in the vast majority of cases and that the taxpayer only prevailed (in full) about two-percent (2%) of the time.  The article below is not intended to be legal advice, but rather to provide general information regarding this issue.

First and foremost, we should start with the current law regarding deductions for business expenses.  Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) Section 162 allows deductions for ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in a business or trade.  What actually constitutes ordinary and necessary may better be understood through an analysis of the case law, which is significant, surrounding the question.  Generally, the determination is made based upon a court’s full review of all facts and circumstances.

Based upon the black and white law under the Code, what constitutes a trade or business for purposes of Section 162.  Perhaps it is ironic that the term “trade or business” is so widely used in the Code, but yet, neither the Code nor the Treasury Regulations provide a definition for Trade or Business.  Personally, I think it would be quite hard to provide a definition for trade or business, especially under the auspices of income tax.  The concept of trade or business has been refined and defined by the courts more so than the Code.  The United States Supreme Court has held and stated that a trade or business is an activity conducted with continuity and regularity, and with the primary purpose of earning a profit.  Albeit broad, I would agree this definition would be sufficient for the majority of businesses I work and assist.

Now that we have an idea of what may constitute a trade or business, what is “ordinary and necessary?”  Again, the Supreme Court has helped provide definitions for these broad, but important terms.  Ordinary has been defined as customary or usual and of common or frequent occurrence in the trade or business.  Necessary has been defined as an expenses that is appropriate and helpful for the development of the business.  Further, it should be noted that some courts have also applied a level of reasonableness to each expense.

John McGuire is a tax attorney and business attorney at The McGuire Law Firm focusing his practice on issues before the IRS, tax planning & analysis and business transactions from formation to sale.

Denver Tax Attorney

Attempting to Avoid Shareholder Loan Reclassification

Many corporate shareholders may have taken a loan from their corporation.  In a prior article we discussed issues related to corporate loans and issues considered regarding the reclassification of a loan.  The article below discusses issues and actions a shareholder may consider taking to prevent the reclassification of a loan.  Please remember that this article is for informational purposes and it is recommended that you discuss any corporate loan issue directly with your tax attorney, business attorney or other advisors.

Proper recordkeeping and maintaining current promissory notes are of extreme importance regarding this issue.  The promissory notes must be kept current and reflect the payments that have actually been made by the shareholder to the corporation, the accrual of interest and other related issues in the previously executed notes.  Moreover, the approval of the loans should follow the proper approval and acceptance by the corporation’s board of directors and memorialized via the corporate minutes and other corporate memorandums.  The shareholder should also be able to verify that the interest has been paid on the note, the interest should be paid at regular intervals, and at least on an annual basis.  Contemporaneous evidence is always important when verifying loan payment and loan treatment to the Internal Revenue Service. From a tax return perspective, the corporate tax return should accurately reflect the loan on the balance sheet.

Because payment of the loan is such a vital factor, I often find it can be helpful to have multiple options or strategies for repayment.  Of course, the shareholder can make regular payments on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis, but there are also other options for repayment.  If the corporation has strong earnings and profit, the shareholder could also use a distribution to pay make payment on the loan, perhaps even a lump sum payment to expedite payment on the note.  The shareholder may also be able to provide additional services to the corporation and receive bonuses for their work.  These bonuses could be paid to the shareholder and then paid to the corporation, or at least taxed to the shareholder as compensation and then reduce the amount of the note.

In short, generally the most important issues will be recordkeeping from corporate documents such as minutes, agreements and returns to the actual promissory note and making sure the shareholder is making payments with interest on the loan.

John McGuire is a tax attorney and business attorney at The McGuire Law Firm.  John assists clients with matters before the IRS, tax planning and advice, and business matters from contracts to the sale of business assets and interests.

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Rental Losses

Many individuals hold property for rent.  Rental properties can make good investment options as they diversify an individual’s overall portfolio, the mortgage can often be satisfied by the rental payments as equity grows in the property and with the allowable deductions, including depreciation, a loss may exists that allows the individual to lower their total income and thus taxable income.  In regards to the losses, it is important that those renting property understand rental losses and when they are allowed and when the rental loss is not allowed.  The article below has been prepared to provide general information regarding rental losses.

Rental income is generally considered a passive activity and thus is subject to the passive loss allowance rules under the Internal Revenue Code.  Under the code, a passive loss would generally not be allowed unless: 1) the taxpayer had passive income (passive losses can be allowed to the extent of passive income); 2) the taxpayer actively participated in the real estate activity and qualifies for the $25,000 rental real estate loss allowance; 3) there is a qualifying disposition under the Internal Revenue Code; or 4) the taxpayer meets the criteria to be considered a real estate professional.

It is likely the most common fact or circumstance that allows a taxpayer to take the passive loss is the $25,000 rental real estate exception. This exception allows a taxpayer with certain income to take the passive loss, up to $25,000 if the taxpayer actively participated in the rental.  Further, the taxpayer should know that the rental activity cannot be an equipment leases, but rather a real estate rental, they must have actively participated and their adjusted gross income needs to be within a certain amount or the allowance can be lessened or not allowed at all.

Thus, how does a taxpayer show active participation in a rental activity?  In general, if the taxpayer participates in the management of the rental activity they are likely to be considered to actively participate.  The taxpayer does not necessarily need to work a certain number of hours, but rather show they are exercising their own independent judgment and decisions regarding the rental, and not following the requests of another individual.  There are specific taxpayers that do not meet the active participation requirement, which are: 1) A limited partner; 2) A taxpayer with less than 10% ownership; and, 3) A trust or corporation, because the $25,000 allowance is only intended for a natural person.  It should be noted that a grantor trust could be an exception to number 3 above because a grantor trust is owned by a natural person because it is not deemed a separate entity.

The above article has been prepared by John McGuire, a tax attorney and business attorney at The McGuire Law Firm.  John’s practice focuses primarily on matters before the IRS, tax planning & analysis for individuals and businesses and business transactions from business formation to business contracts and the sale of business assets and interests.

Denver Tax Attorney

Loans to S Corporation Shareholder

Often times a payment or payments to S corporation shareholders will be booked or accounted for as a loan to shareholder.  Sometimes this is purposefully, other times, it may be due to lack of options.  These loans can be advantageous with the proper planning and/or under certain circumstances, but they can also create and lead to unintended and disadvantageous tax consequences.

If a loan is not being treated as a loan (documented, repayment with interest etc.) the loan can be reclassified as a distribution to the shareholder.  If the shareholder does not have enough tax basis in their stock, taxable gain will result when the loan is reclassified as a distribution.  Further, it is important to note that if a loan is reclassified as a distribution and there are multiple shareholders, the distribution could create disproportionate distributions amongst the shareholders.  Not only could the disproportionate distribution be a violation of certain law/business acts, the Internal Revenue Service could determine that the disproportionate distributions created or indicate a second class of stock.  As an S corporation, there can only be one class of stock, and thus, a second class of stock could/would result in the termination of the S corporation election, which could have ill intended tax consequences and other business consequences.

Given the above, what can be done in an attempt to prevent payments or disbursements to a shareholder from being treated as distribution, but rather a loan to the shareholder?  Generally speaking, the key is proving intent, that the disbursements were intended to be a loan or loans.  Below is a list of the issues and factors a court would likely consider when making a determination of whether or not a shareholder loan was in fact created.

  • Was the shareholder paying interest? It is also important to note, the IRS can impute interest under the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Is the amount/loan being repaid by the shareholder?
  • Is the debt evidenced by a written instrument such as a promissory note, with stated interest, payment terms & conditions and a maturity date?
  • How has the disbursement to the shareholder been recorded and reflected within the S corporation’s books
  • If the shareholder was in arrears of any payment, did the corporation attempt to enforce or require payment
  • Did the shareholder have the financial wherewithal to repay the note when the loan was provided by the corporation

Of all the above issues & factors, perhaps the most important is whether or not the shareholder was actually repaying the loan.  Courts have determined a loan existed even without documentation and promissory notes given the shareholder was making payments.

The above article has been prepared by John McGuire of The McGuire Law Firm for informational purposes.  John focuses his practice on tax matters before the IRS, advising individual & business clients on tax planning and tax related issues and business transactions from business formation and contracts to the sale of a business or business interest.

S Corporation Loan to Shareholder

Embezzlement or Fraud Involved With 941 Taxes

Embezzlement or theft may be a more frequent issue faced by small and medium sized businesses than many people think.  Often office managers or employees will improperly take money or assets from a business.  Although, perhaps not as common as an employee misappropriating monies or assets, I have seen professionals, such as the businesses CPA embezzle or steal money, which when done is typically a much higher dollar amount and more damaging to the company.  One means by which I have witnessed a CPA or professional embezzle monies from a business is through the employment tax (941 tax) process whereby federal tax deposits are paid to the IRS on a weekly or monthly basis.  Below I have provided examples of this embezzlement or fraud scheme, which hopefully can prevent some business owners from falling victim.

One situation whereby I have witnessed a CPA or office manager involved with theft or embezzlement from a company was when the CPA or office manager was preparing the 941 employment tax returns and in charge of making the federal tax deposits.  The scheme was conducted under the following facts & circumstances.  The corporation would run payroll and net payroll checks would be paid to all employees and officers.  A payroll report was provided to the corporation stating gross payroll, net payroll and the total employment tax liabilities.  The correct amount(s) were withdrawn from the corporation’s bank account to pay the tax deposits, but the deposits were not paid to the federal government or state agencies.  The deposits went to another account, usually an account under the control of the third party responsible for the embezzlement or fraud.

Thus, when looking at the bank statements, payroll records and 941 tax returns, everything would appear ok.  The net payroll was paid to employees and the appropriate amount was being withdrawn for tax deposits.  The internal books of the business would be in line.  When preparing the 941 returns, the correct return was provided to the necessary parties or officers for review and signature, but then a zero ($0) 941 was filed or no 941 was ever filed at all.  The business owners can be personally responsible for the trust fund portion of the 941 tax!

You may be asking yourself, how does the IRS catch on, or why did the IRS not catch on?  The IRS will catch on, because in all likelihood the business must issue correct W-2s to employees so employees can file their individual returns.  Eventually, the IRS will see that the W-2s are not matching up with the 941s and the federal ta deposits, but this could easily occur 12-24 months after the fact and thus the fraud could have been ongoing for 24-36 months.  Furthermore, if the individual responsible for the fraud also receives the IRS notices and is responsible for IRS contacts, knowledge to the business owners could be further delayed.

As a business owner, what can you?

  • Making the actual federal tax deposits yourself is the safest manner to prevent this fraud or embezzlement
  • If you do not make the deposits, make sure you obtain receipts of the deposits paid through eftps.gov and check these deposits against the bank withdrawals and applicable documents
  • Make sure the 941s are accurate based upon payroll and ensure they are filed. If filed and a balance is due, you would receive a notice within 15-60 days.
  • Make sure you are receiving all IRS and tax notices.

If you or your business have been the victim of theft or fraud through a similar 941 scheme, please feel free to contact The McGuire Law Firm to discuss your options with the IRS.

CPA Theft CPA Embezzlement