3 Steps for Finding the Right Tax Lawyer for Your California Business

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Every year, businesses in San Diego come face to face with tax disputes from the IRS. And when it comes to taxes, there is very rarely such thing as an open-and-shut case. When your business is faced with anything from an audit to a battle with the IRS, it is essential to find a well-qualified lawyer to take on your case. Regardless of whether the case is minor or requires extensive documentation and work, having a well-versed California attorney on your side will ease the burden on your business to do extra tax law research, and let you get back to what you do best, which is run your company.

But as a business owner, you may be wondering where to start. Finding the right lawyer could mean the difference between a win and a loss against the IRS, so it is perhaps the most important piece of the tax case puzzle. Here are three things to look for when finding the right San Diego tax lawyer:

  • Narrow the focus – Depending on whether your case has to do with state or national taxes, you need a lawyer who is well educated in the right type of tax law. If possible, focus the search even closer and drill down to the attorney with the greatest amount of experience dealing with cases similar or nearly identical to your own. By understanding his or her qualifications and past experiences, you can ensure you are selecting the right lawyer for your case.
  • Don’t jump at the first lawyer you speak to – It is OK to interview a few lawyers before settling on the one who will fight your battle with you. Comparing law firms and abilities will help you make the right decision for your case, and keep you confident throughout the process that you chose the right law firm to take on your fight. With such an important decision to the success of your case, it is a good idea to go the extra mile and interview more than one firm.
  • Research your prospects – Once you have a few names picked out, take an extra step and do your own research on their backgrounds. Talk to the bar association or past clients to find out how easy the firm was to work with and what you can expect from it during your own case. Search the Internet for various forms of information, too. There may be some extra info not provided by the lawyer that is available online about his or her reputation and abilities.

Start your search by narrowing the focus down to which lawyers will be well suited to manage your case with the IRS. Then, be sure to interview more than one prospect and do your own research on the side to find the perfect fit for your specific needs.

Becky loves to write. Her favorite subject to write about is finances. If you’d like more information regarding San Diego tax lawyer, please visit http://www.allenbarron.com/

When Are Taxes Due? And Other Answers to Your Tax Questions

When Are 2011 Taxes Due? And Other Answers to Your Tax Questions

Whether you file your taxes on your own or with the help of a tax professional, the entire process can leave you with questions. From trying to figure out the tax code changes between this year and the last to trying to make sense of the various deductions you can take, filing taxes is rarely ever straightforward.

Here are the answers to some of the most common questions regarding taxes:

1. When are 2011 taxes due?

While April 15 is the classic due date, you must have your taxes filed by April 17 in 2012. Because the 15th falls on a Sunday and the 16th is a holiday in the District of Columbia, you get an extra couple of days to get those tax papers to the IRS.

2. Where should I mail my tax return in 2012?

The addresses for the IRS facilities to which you mail a paper return have changed. Be sure to look over your form instructions to find the proper mailing address. Not doing so could lead to penalties for late filing due to returned mail.

3. What amount do I claim for standard deductions and exemptions?

Good news! The amount for both of these categories has actually increased this year. If you do not itemize your deductions, then your standard deduction is higher. Also, instead of only being able to deduct $50 per exemption, you will be able to deduct $3,700 for each one on 2011 taxes.

4. Can I still claim the first-time home buyers tax credit on my return?

This credit is not available anymore. However, if you are a member of the military or if you work in the intelligence sector, you may still be able to claim it.

5. Can I still claim the alternative motor vehicle credit?

New fuel cell motor vehicles are still eligible for the credit in 2011.

6. What is the limit on age for claiming a dependent?

If you are claiming your child as a dependent, you can only claim them if they are under the age of 19, under the age of 24 and a full-time student for at least five months of the tax year, or completely disabled at any age. You can also claim certain qualifying relatives if they meet the proper criteria.

7. Can I direct deposit my IRS refund into multiple accounts?

Yes, you may split your refund however you like and deposit it into up to three different accounts.

8. How do you claim head of household status for tax purposes?

If you were unmarried and the primary caregiver of a child that lived with you for over six months of the year, you can file as Head of Household. To qualify, you don’t need to claim the child as a dependent.

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Tax code and rules change from year to year. If you ever have any doubts about any section of your tax forms, you should contact a tax consultant or the IRS to clarify. Making mistakes on your taxes can result in audits and fines.

Citations:
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RG Brenner wants to remind you that filing your taxes properly and claiming deductions you qualify for are important for minimizing your taxes. If you still have questions about the 2011 taxes or if you need assistance in filing your taxes, visit www.rgbrenner.com.

Finding A CPA Who Knows Real Estate Tax Laws

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Finding a Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, who knows real estate tax laws is essential, whether you are a big investor or a small time homeowner. Why is it so important to seek out a qualified CPA? For starters, look at the U.S. Tax Code. This monstrosity spans millions of pages, and is a construct of the early 20th Century. Over the years it has grown and grown and grown, till the point that it is unstoppable, sort of like in that old horror movie “The Blob.” And many ordinary Americans are equally terrified of it. They are, because they hear scary stories all the time about the Internal Revenue Administration and the harsh punishments for tax evasion. They are afraid that if they do not know the millions of pages, they will be punished in a severe financial or even legal way.

Who can blame them? If you gave one tax return to 10 different CPAs, they would probably come up with 10 different final numbers. (Maybe 11.) How is the ordinary American supposed to make sense of all this and fulfill the requirements as set forth by law? The best way is to actually find that quality CPA and put him to work for you. There are countless benefits that a CPA can bring to the table:

1. Screw-ups do not have to be blamed on the client.

If something goes wrong, it is not necessarily your fault. All you really have to do is bring all tax related documents, and you have the ammunition that you need to get things done. If there is an error of entry, then you have a record to protect you.

2. Good CPAs give you peace of mind.

You could go on worrying about those CPA mixups, but the truth of the matter is they don’t happen that often. Most of the time, CPAs know how to work within the confines of the tax code better than you would be able to.

3. Good CPAs will make you more money than they cost you.

This one is very true. While you may be able to do your taxes yourself, it will cost you much in time, and you will likely still not find all the things out there that can be used to your advantage. While a CPA will charge you for the work they do, they are relieving you of the mental burden and usually finding higher amounts of money for a return, so that you still come out ahead.

With all the reasons to try a qualified CPA, why wouldn’t you want to? The tax code is too complicated to go it alone, and you have too much to lose otherwise.

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Bringing Down the Burden of Tax Debt – Offers in Compromise

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People all over the world are struggling with debt in the current global financial climate. For most people these debts will be to do with credit cards and loans, or having over-extended on a mortgage. For a small number of people however, it will be large tax debts owing that are causing them trouble. And often these debts can be just as stressful and just as crippling, with the belief that there is nothing you can do when you face going under, simply because you are dealing with the IRS. To a certain extent this is true – the IRS expects its taxes to be paid. But it is worth bearing in mind that in some cases it is possible for a certain amount of leeway to be given, or even an exception to be made, and that tax debt can be reduced through something called an Offer in Compromise.

Such a deal is rare, but comes about when the IRS either thinks there will be little or no chance of you paying the full tax debt owed, or it is in dispute with you about your total tax liability and whether you owe what they think you owe. In certain of these cases the IRS is permitted, at its own discretion, to look at, consider and then accept your submission of what is known as an Offer in Compromise. The Offer in Compromise is essentially an offer that you will make to the IRS that suggests a figure you think you can pay that is less than the figure they are asking for. Unbelievable as it may sound, they will often be willing to accept such an offer because they will look on it in such a way that they are at least going to recoup a portion of the debt you owe. Without that Offer in Compromise you may go bankrupt or not be able to pay them any of the outstanding debts.

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Can You Discharge Your Tax Debts In Bankruptcy Court

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There are many debts that you can discharge through bankruptcy. Is tax debt eligible for discharge through bankruptcy? In some circumstances, a taxpayer can go to bankruptcy court and have an old tax debt discharged. There are criteria that have to be met for that to happen.

The Debt Was From A Tax Year At Least Three Years Ago

A petitioner facing a judge in bankruptcy court today would only be eligible for relief from taxes filed before 2009. Any other tax debt would be ineligible for discharge in bankruptcy court. The 36 month period starts on the day that your tax debt was due. Any extension of your due date will extend the amount of time you have to wait before that debt becomes eligible for discharge.

The Tax Return Was Filed At Least Two Years Ago

Taxes that were filed after 2010 would not be eligible for discharge at the current time. Any recent tax debt would not be eligible for tax relief until 24 months after filing. The 24 month time period begins on the day that you actually file your tax return. Tax returns that were not filed will not qualify for discharge no matter how old that debt may be.

Your Tax Debt Must Be At Least 240 Days Old

The tax debt must be assessed at least 240 days before you can ask for the debt to be discharged. It does not matter in what manner the tax was assessed against you. However, it might be easier to get the debt discharged if the tax assessment was a result of self-reporting of taxable income.

The Return Was Filed In Good Faith

A judge is not going to discharge any tax debt based on a falsified tax return. Attempting to evade taxes is not an acceptable basis to have your debts discharged. The IRS will help to determine whether the returns were filed in good faith or not.

Your Creditors Will See Your Returns

It is important that the borrower files their taxes on time each year. The bankruptcy court is going to ask for your last four tax returns. Your creditors are going to have access to any tax information that you hand over to the court. Furthermore, you would have needed to have your tax return filed before you first met with any debt relief services. You may not be able to reach a tax debt settlement if you did not file your taxes before seeking relief.

It is possible that your tax debt could be discharged. However, you have to make sure that you were actually filing your tax returns in an honest manner. Tax debt may not be eligible for discharge if you are simply trying to evade payment of taxes. Do plenty of research before you seek any relief from past tax debt. The courts will not be likely to discharge your debt if you do not follow all of the rules. Ignorance of the law is never a defense.

What are Our Income Taxes Used For?

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No one likes to pay taxes. In fact, you may even wonder where your hard earned money goes. It’s especially upsetting to hear that government money was used to fund some insane research, like whether or not mice like cheese. Regardless, you have to pay them. Still, it helps to know where that money goes. This April, maybe you’ll be a bit more at ease knowing that your tax dollars are actually be used for some pretty amazing things.

How Are Federal Income Taxes Used?

It may surprise you, because our military gets paid so little, but over 50% of our federal tax dollars in 2009 went towards our current military members, veterans and the current wars that we’re fighting. This includes the costs of weapons, housing, etc. The rest of our tax dollars are spent on human resources (education, medical), general government (government officials’ salaries) and physical resources (agriculture). The government includes Social Security in their figures. However, many point out that Social Security is collected separately from federal income taxes and is thus a trust fund. When we think of what the government does individually with our income tax dollars, defense and wages for government employees eat up a large chunk of our income taxes, but it’s important to remember that our taxes cover the costs of thousands of expenses. While our government does spend money on unwise decisions, it also spends money on Pell grants for college students, food for needy families and other important expenses.

How Are State Income Taxes Used?

State income taxes may be used differently in different states. However, many states use state income taxes to pay for education, government officials’ salaries, police forces, EMTs, health and social services and even public transportation. What a state uses it’s money on will depend on what the state’s government determines needs the most help. However, not all states have state income taxes. States like Tennessee only charge federal income taxes, but have a much steeper sales tax than states that do have an income tax.

While paying federal and state income taxes may not be ideal, chances are these taxes have paid for something in your life. It may have been the schools you attended or the roads you drive on. Either way, income taxes are a necessary evil. After all, if we were given the chance to pay for these items, instead of being forced to, chances are many people wouldn’t shell out their own money willingly.

About the Author: Manuel Phyfe is a volunteer with an organization that helps senior citizens find free tax support. He finds that many are angry at tax time not because they have to file a return, but because they don’t understand where their money has gone.