Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses

Start a case in the Tax Court

You must file a petition to begin a case in the Tax Court. A party who files a petition in response to an IRS notice of deficiency or notice of determination is called the petitioner. The Commissioner of Internal Revenue is referred to as the respondent in Tax Court cases.

Anyone can file a petition who has received:

  1. A notice of deficiency, or
  2. A notice of determination.

You can also file a petition (in certain circumstances) if you filed a claim with the IRS for relief from joint and several liability (innocent spouse relief), six months have passed, and the IRS has not issued you a determination letter.

You may file a petition with the Tax Court even if you do not have a representative. You may also present your case to a Judge without being represented. This guide is provided to help you in that process. If you decide to file a petition and to proceed to trial without a representative, you must pay close attention to all the Tax Court orders and notices you receive and all the instructions provided. A petitioner who is not represented is still required to abide by the Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure (Rules). If you have difficulty reading, writing, or understanding written instructions, you should seek help.

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New Voluntary Worker Classification Settlement Program

The Internal Revenue Service launched a new program that will enable many employers to resolve past worker classification issues and achieve certainty under the tax law at a low cost by voluntarily reclassifying their workers.

This new program will allow employers the opportunity to get into compliance by making a minimal payment covering past payroll tax obligations rather than waiting for an IRS audit.

This is part of a larger “Fresh Start” initiative at the IRS to help taxpayers and businesses address their tax responsibilities.

“This settlement program provides certainty and relief to employers in an important area,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “This is part of a wider effort to help taxpayers and businesses to help give them a fresh start with their tax obligations.”

The new Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) is designed to increase tax compliance and reduce burden for employers by providing greater certainty for employers, workers and the government. Under the program, eligible employers can obtain substantial relief from federal payroll taxes they may have owed for the past, if they prospectively treat workers as employees. The VCSP is available to many businesses, tax-exempt organizations and government entities that currently erroneously treat their workers or a class or group of workers as nonemployees or independent contractors, and now want to correctly treat these workers as employees.

To be eligible, an applicant must:

  • Consistently have treated the workers in the past as nonemployees,
  • Have filed all required Forms 1099 for the workers for the previous three years
  • Not currently be under audit by the IRS, the Department of Labor or a state agency concerning the classification of these workers

Interested employers can apply for the program by filing Form 8952, Application for Voluntary Classification Settlement Program, at least 60 days before they want to begin treating the workers as employees.

Employers accepted into the program will pay an amount effectively equaling just over one percent of the wages paid to the reclassified workers for the past year. No interest or penalties will be due, and the employers will not be audited on payroll taxes related to these workers for prior years. Participating employers will, for the first three years under the program, be subject to a special six-year statute of limitations, rather than the usual three years that generally applies to payroll taxes.

 

Announcement 2011-64

 

More on  IRS website

Guidance to Further Implement Return Preparer Oversight

The IRS released Notice 2011-80, which provides that PTINs must now be renewed on a calendar year basis. All PTIN holders must renew their numbers using the online PTIN application or paper Form W-12 and pay the required fee ($64.25 for 2012) after Oct. 15 and before Jan. 1 annually.

The return preparer initiative requires anyone who is paid to prepare all or substantially all of any federal tax return or claim for refund to register with the IRS and obtain a PTIN. Certain preparers also must pass a competency examination, undergo a suitability check and complete continuing education courses annually. The IRS will designate individuals who meet these requirements as a Registered Tax Return Preparer.

Individuals designated as a Registered Tax Return Preparer will be authorized to prepare federal tax returns and claims for refunds and to represent their clients during an IRS examination of a tax return or claim for refund that the individual signed as the paid tax return preparer.

The IRS has been issuing provisional PTINs to individuals who are not attorneys, certified public accountants, or enrolled agents to enable them to prepare tax returns prior to meeting competency testing and suitability requirements because the programs have not begun. The IRS will continue issuing provisional PTINs at least through April 18, 2012. Once the IRS stops issuing provisional PTINs, tax return preparers who are required to complete the competency test or suitability requirements must complete these requirements successfully prior to obtaining a PTIN.

The notice also provides that the 15-hour continuing education requirement for certain tax return preparers will take effect starting in 2012. Registered Tax Return Preparers and individuals required to pass the Registered Tax Return Preparer competency examination before Dec. 31, 2013, must complete the 15-hour requirement prior to renewing their PTINs for 2013 and subsequent years.

The notice also explains that certain tax return preparers who must pass a suitability check will have to provide their fingerprints so that a Federal Bureau of Investigation database search can be conducted. Generally, the fingerprint requirement will affect those preparers who currently have provisional PTINs.

Under the current proposed regulations any participant in the PTIN, acceptance agent, or authorized e-file provider programs who resides and is employed outside of the United States will not have to be fingerprinted to participate in these programs. Such persons, however, must comply with all other elements of the suitability check. In addition, the Treasury Department and the IRS continue to study what additional requirements should apply to such persons. Any additional requirements would be set forth in future guidance.

Attorneys, certified public accountants, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agent and enrolled actuaries also are expected to be exempt from the fingerprinting requirement at this time.  However, these individuals also must answer all the suitability questions asked on the PTIN application, such as whether they have been convicted of a felony in the previous 10 years.

Individuals participating in the PTIN, acceptance agent, or authorized e-file provider programs also are required to meet any other requirements of the programs in which they are participating.

The IRS is working with third-party vendors who will collect and process the fingerprints.

The IRS also published proposed regulations (REG-116284-11) that would establish user fees for fingerprinting and taking the competency examination. As proposed, the IRS portion of the fingerprinting fee would be $33, and the IRS portion of the testing fee would be $27. These user fees are in addition to any fees charged by the third-party vendors administering the programs. The fees to be charged by third-party vendors are not being announced at this time, but the total fees, including the IRS user fees, are expected to be between $60 and $90 for fingerprinting and $100 and $125 for testing.

Read more on IRS website

The Internal Revenue Service issued guidance designed to clarify the tax treatment of employer-provided cell phones.

The guidance relates to a provision in the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, enacted last fall, that removed cell phones from the definition of listed property, a category under tax law that normally requires additional recordkeeping by taxpayers.

The Notice issued today provides guidance on the treatment of employer- provided cell phones as an excludible fringe benefit. The Notice provides that when an employer provides an employee with a cell phone primarily for noncompensatory business reasons, the business and personal use of the cell phone is generally nontaxable to the employee. The IRS will not require recordkeeping of business use in order to receive this tax-free treatment.

Simultaneously with the Notice, the IRS announced in a memo to its examiners a similar administrative approach that applies with respect to arrangements common to small businesses that provide cash allowances and reimbursements for work-related use of personally-owned cell phones. Under this approach, employers that require employees, primarily for noncompensatory business reasons, to use their personal cell phones for business purposes may treat reimbursements of the employees’ expenses for reasonable cell phone coverage as nontaxable. This treatment does not apply to reimbursements of unusual or excessive expenses or to reimbursements made as a substitute for a portion of the employee’s regular wages.

Under the guidance issued today, where employers provide cell phones to their employees or where employers reimburse employees for business use of their personal cell phones, tax-free treatment is available without burdensome recordkeeping requirements. The guidance does not apply to the provision of cell phones or reimbursement for cell-phone use that is not primarily business related, as such arrangements are generally taxable.

Details are in the memo and in Notice 2011-72

TIN Matching – Taxpayer Identification Number Matching

TIN Matching allows  authorized payers to match 1099 payee information against IRS records prior to filing information returns. An authorized payer is one who has filed information returns with the IRS in at least one of the two past tax years.  Interactive TIN Matching will accept up to 25 payee TIN/Name combinations on-screen while Bulk TIN Matching will allow up to 100,000 payee TIN/Name combinations to be matched via a text file submission. This e-service match the payee with W-9 name and TIN with IRS records, decrease backup withholding and penalty notices and reduce the error rate in TIN validation.

E-services

 

Guidelines and Instructions for the Interactive and Bulk On-Line Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Matching Programs
These guidelines provide procedures for the Internal Revenue Service’s Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Matching Program. The program is established for payers of Form 1099 income subject to the backup withholding provisions of  ection 3406(a)(1)(A) and (B) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Prior to filing an information return, a Program participant may check the TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number) furnished by the payee against the name/TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number) combination contained in the Internal  evenue Service database maintained for the Program.
The IRS will maintain a separate name/TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number) database specifically for the program and will inform the payor whether or not the name/TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number) combination furnished by the payee matches a name/TIN (taxpayer Identification Number) combination in the database.
The matching details provided to participating payors, and their authorized agents, will help avoid TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number) errors and reduce the number of backup withholding notice required under Section 3406(a)(1)(B) of  the Internal Revenue Code.
The Interactive and Bulk TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number) Matching Programs are established under the authority of Revenue Procedure 2003-9. Revenue Procedure 2003-9 and IRC Section 6050W expand the IRS authority provided under Revenue Procedure 97-31, to allow the on-line matching of taxpayer identifying information as provided by payers of income reported on Forms 1099 B, DIV, INT, K, MISC, OID and PATR.

Where’s My Refund

Here is  Where’s My Refund? online tool

Read frequent questions about IRS Where’s My Refund

Refund information for the most current tax year that you filed will generally be available 72 hours after we acknowledge receipt of your e-filed return, or three to four weeks after you mail your paper return

What information is Not Available on Where’s My Refund?

  • Amended Tax Return (Form 1040X) Information
    Where’s My Refund? does not track refunds that are claimed on amended tax returns.
    Amended/corrected returns may take 8 to 12 weeks, or longer, to process.

If it’s been more than 8 weeks since you filed your amended return and you haven’t received your refund, please contact a customer service representative by calling 800-829-1040. From outside the U.S., call 267-941-1000. TTY/TDD: 800-829-4059.

  • Business Tax Return Information
    If you need refund information on federal tax returns other than U.S. Individual Income Tax (Forms 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ) please call us, toll free, at 800-829-4933. From outside the U.S., call 267-941-1000. TTY/TDD: 800-829-4059.
  • Prior Year Refund Information
    Information on Where’s My Refund? will be for the latest tax year that we have on file for you.

Example: You filed your 2009 tax return on January 1, 2010 and then filed your 2008 tax return on February 1, 2010. The information available on Where’s My Refund will be for the 2009 tax return even though you filed your 2008 return after your 2009 return.

How Long Will My Refund Information be Available?

  • For U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns filed before July 1:
    Your refund information will remain available on Where’s My Refund? until around the second or third week in December.

If your refund check was returned to us as undeliverable by the U.S. Post Office, your refund information will remain available on Where’s My Refund? throughout the following year until you file tax return for a more current tax year.

  • For  U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns filed on or after July 1:
    Your refund information will remain available throughout the following year until you file a tax return for a more current tax year.

Can I change my mailing address online?

If your refund was returned to us by the U.S. Postal Service you may be able to change the address we have on file for you, online. Where’s My Refund? will offer this service to you if you’re eligible.

What if my refund was lost, stolen, or destroyed?

Generally, you can file an online claim for a replacement check if it’s been more than 28 days from the date that we mailed your refund. Where’s My Refund? will give you detailed information about filing a claim if this situation applies to you.

2011 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative – Submission Requirements

  1. Copies of previously filed original (and, if applicable, previously filed amended) federal income tax returns for tax years covered by the voluntary disclosure.
  2. Complete and accurate amended federal income tax returns (for individuals, Form 1040X, or original Form 1040 if delinquent) for all tax years covered by the voluntary disclosure, with applicable schedules detailing the amount and type of previously unreported income from the account or entity (e.g., Schedule B for interest and dividends, Schedule D for capital gains and losses, Schedule E for income from partnerships, S corporations, estates or trusts).
  3. Copy of your completed and signed Offshore Voluntary Disclosures Letter.

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