Inflation Reduction Act Part II: IRS Spending

Between the inflation, the pandemic, and the Inflation Reduction Act, now is a scary time to owe back taxes. The bill has passed, granting the IRS $80 billion dollars in funds for their activity. We’re expecting a massive increase in the agency’s enforcement.

How will $80 billion impact the IRS?

The funds from the Inflation Reduction Act will be added on to the annual money the IRS receives from Congress, which was about $12.6 billion for 2022. The 50% increase will be paid across four departments over the next ten years.

More than half of the funds are specifically going toward enforcement activity. IRS enforcement includes collecting back taxes, conducting criminal investigations, legal support, and monitoring digital assets.The other three areas that will be supported include:

  • IRS operations- $25 billion for expenses such as rent, printing, postage, and telecommunications.
  • Customer service- $4.8 billion would be used for updating service technology. A callback service is in the talks.
  • Taxpayer assistance- $3 billion would go toward filing and account services, or other taxpayer needs.

What to expect from IRS collection activity

With a large budget provided by the Inflation Reduction Act, the IRS is expected to collect roughly $203 billion in federal tax revenue over the span of a decade. The net federal revenue would be raised by more than $124 billion.

Government officials are also expecting the tax gap to close. Meaning, the difference between the amount of taxes being collected and what taxpayers actually owe will be closer.

Are you prepared for increased collection activity?

If you haven’t started the process of tax debt relief, it’s not too late. Being prepared with a team of professionals that are already working on your compliance could spare you from more penalties, stress, and possibly help you save some money. Give Optima a call for a free consultation at 800-536-0734.

Download the Optima Tax App to analyze your IRS notice in the palm of your hand.

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Inflation Reduction Act Part I: What is it?

From a pandemic to inflation, American taxpayers haven’t been able to catch a break since 2020. To combat the current state of the economy, Senate has passed a new bill with a ten-year plan. The Inflation Reduction Act is being sent to President Biden’s desk, requesting nearly $80 billion to the IRS.

What is the purpose of the Inflation Reduction Act?

While the funding will support the IRS, this will hopefully bring in more federal tax revenue to offset the cost of lowering prescription medicine and combating climate change. There are plans in motion to accomplish these goals, but federal funding to do so is lacking.

How will the IRS use these funds?

The IRS has been waiting for additional funding for years. In the last ten years, their activities have dwindled, and the agency’s budget decreased more than 15%. While IRS Commissioner Rettig has previously stated that the backlog will be complete by the end of 2022, there are still 11 million unprocessed tax returns.

The IRS will hire more staff and have access to more resources, such as legal representation for larger cases.

Cons of the Inflation Reduction Act

Naturally, more staff and resources for the IRS means more IRS enforcement. This act could trigger more audits for middle class businesses and individuals.

Outcome of the Inflation Reduction Act

Government officials have also stated that the goal is not to go after small businesses, but rather the large corporations and high net-worth individuals with high-end noncompliance.

Senior Fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center Janet Holzblatt was quoted as saying, “The goal should not only be to increase audits, but improve the productivity of audits. You want the IRS to select the businesses and people for audits who really have not been compliant.”

How the Inflation Reduction Act affects people who owe

With more IRS enforcement on the way, it’s better to be safe and get in compliance as soon as possible. Give Optima a call today for a free consultation at 800-536-0734.

Received a notice from the IRS? Use Optima’s Tax App to analyze it instantly!

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Tax Rules for an Airbnb or Vacation Rental

Renting out your property as an Airbnb can be a good way to secure residual income. While Airbnb may send you a tax form at the end of the year, it’s important to understand your tax responsibilities to check for errors and in the event you aren’t issued a form.

Reporting your Airbnb or vacation rental as income

The IRS requires that all payment processing companies (including Venmo, PayPal, and Airbnb) report gross earnings for all users within the US. If you earn $600 or more, and/or have 200 or more transactions for the year, Airbnb will issue Form 1099-K.

If you are not a US citizen but earned money from a vacation rental in the US, you will be provided Form W-8.

Withholding taxes from Airbnb payouts

You do have the option to withhold taxes from your Airbnb earnings, which is always recommended to avoid a large tax bill at the end of the year. You can also use a tax calculator to get an estimate of your earnings to save money for taxes.

Vacation home, rental, or personal use

To determine if your vacation property is a rental residence or being used for personal gain, you must identify how often the property is rented versus how often you reside there. Renting your property to someone that pays the fair market value while using the home as their primary residence would make it a rental property.

If you do not reside in the home and rent it frequently for short-term periods, it would be considered a vacation rental.

Should you find yourself residing in the home more frequently than you rent it, then you are using the home for personal use. The IRS requires that you still pay taxes on the money you earn from renting your property for 15 days or more out of the year.

Tax debt relief and filing assistance for Airbnb hosts

As a host, you may qualify for tax debt relief. Our tax professionals will review your case to determine the best course of action for your compliance. For a free consultation, you can call Optima at 800-536-0734.

Received a notice from the IRS? Try Optima’s Tax App to analyze your notice instantly!

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Filing Taxes as Head of Household: A Guide

head of household

Do you provide over half the cost of living for your household? You may want to consider filing your taxes as head of household, which could qualify you for a higher standard deduction. Head of household filing status also provides lower tax rates than filing as single or married and filing separately.

How can you qualify as Head of Household?

There are a few qualifying criteria to meet in order to file under head of household status:

  1. You must be single, divorced, or separated by the last day of the tax year.
  2. You are responsible for over half of your household’s living expenses.
  3. You have a child or qualifying dependent.

What kind of expenses are you responsible for as the Head of Household?

Taking responsibility for living expenses includes, but is not limited to:

  • Rent or mortgage
  • Utility bills
  • Insurance
  • Property taxes
  • Groceries
  • Repairs
  • Other household bills (internet, phone, etc.)

As head of household, you are required to be responsible for the listed expenses for over half of the tax year.

If your dependent is a parent, they are not required to live in the same household as you. The stipulation is that you maintain their cost of living. It’s important to note that if you are married and living in separate households, this does not qualify you for Head of Household status. You must be unmarried.

What does the IRS mean by “unmarried?”

Unmarried means that you’re filing a separate return and your spouse didn’t live with you for the last half of the year. Two people cannot file as head of household on the same return.

If you share a child (biological, stepchild, or foster) with your former spouse, your home should be the primary residence of the child to qualify for head of household status. If you are unable to claim the child as a dependent, this could make qualifying a bit more difficult.

Pros of filing as Head of Household

This filing status offers a better standard deduction amount than most others, even with a lower tax bracket. The deduction may not be as favorable as joint filing, but it’s a considerably larger deduction than filing single by roughly 50%. The standard deduction for 2021 head of household status was $18,800.

Tax debt and filing assistance for Head of Household status

Tax debt with the weight of other financial burdens can be a stressful ordeal. As a head of household filer, you may qualify for relief. Give Optima a call for a free consultation today at 800-536-0734.

Received an IRS notice? Try out the Optima Tax App to analyze your notice in the palm of your hand.

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Trading Stocks and What it Means for Your Taxes

stocks taxes

While stocks may seem like an effortless path toward financial stability, they do affect your taxes. Understanding what’s expected when you file can keep you out of trouble with the IRS.

Brokerage Accounts and Taxes

When you sell the stock shares in a brokerage account, you may be responsible for capital gains taxes. Capital gains tax can affect you in two ways, depending on your circumstance:

Short-term Capital Gains Tax

This tax applies to profits from sold assets that were held for a year or less. The rates for short-term capital gains tax match your income tax bracket.

Long-term Capital Gains Tax

The long-term variant of this tax applies to sold assets held for longer than a year. The rates are 0%, 15%, or 20% depending on your filing status and taxable income. It’s important to note that long-term capital gains tax rates are usually lower, so it may work in your best interest to hold that stock for a little longer.

How Dividends Affect Taxes

There are two types of dividends and they’re usually considered taxable income, qualified and nonqualified. Qualified dividend rates range from 0%, 15%, or 20% (the same rule for long-term capital gains tax). Nonqualified dividends are ordinary dividends that have the same tax rate as your income bracket.

Taxpayers in higher brackets typically pay more taxes on dividends. Overall, dividend investments can drastically alter your tax bill.

How to Reduce Taxes on Stocks

Holding onto shares long enough for them to become qualified dividends can result in reducing taxes.

If possible, you should hold onto your assets for a little longer than a year. Long-term capital gains tax rates are often lower when you sell your stocks. Making a profit from stocks is all about strategy and figuring out what falls in line with your financial goals.

Tax Debt Assistance

If you find yourself in debt with the IRS due to stock investments, you may qualify for relief. Give us a call for a free consultation at (800) 536-0734.

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May 16 Filing Deadline for Tax-Exempt Organizations

tax-exempt organizations

The IRS shared a reminder for tax-exempt organizations that have a filing deadline of May 16, 2022. Filing is mandatory, so if you need more time, you should request an extension as soon as possible.

Which Form should tax-exempt organizations file?

Tax-exempt organizations would file one of four tax forms for a return:

  1. Form 990-series annual information returns (Forms 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF)
  2. Form 990-N, Electronic Notice for Tax-Exempt Organizations Not Required to File Form 990 or Form 990-EZ
  3. Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return (other than certain trusts)
  4. Form 4720 Return of Certain Excise axes Under Chapters 41 and 42 of the Internal Revenue Code

Electronic filing for tax-exempt organizations

You should e-file to save time on processing and to avoid inevitable delays that occur when filing by paper. E-filing also reports your compliance with the IRS.

However, for tax-exempt organizations filing a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF or 990-T for 2021, it’s mandatory to file electronically.

For organizations filing Form 990-N, the IRS website states, “organizations eligible to submit Form 990-N must do so electronically and can submit it through Form 990-N (e-Postcard) on IRS.gov.”

Requesting an extension for tax-exempt organizations

Should you need additional time to file, you can request a 6 month extension by filing  Form 8868, Application for Extension of Time To File an Exempt Organization Return. While this form allows you to file later, it does not push payment due dates if you owe the IRS.

Owing the IRS as a tax-exempt organization

Optima Tax Relief takes on clients with both individual and business tax debt. Give us a call for a free consultation today at (800) 536-0734.

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Optima Newsletter – April: IRS sends large tax bills for 2021 Unemployment Benefits

IRS Sends Large Tax Bills for 2021 Unemployment Benefits While some were able to return to work in 2021, approximately 25 million people received unemployment benefits and didn’t withhold taxes. The IRS is now looking to collect back taxes for the $325 billion in total benefits and mailed millions of large tax bills this season.

Does Inflation Affect Your Tax Debt? The state of the economy can be detrimental to your IRS or state tax liability. What exactly happens to your tax debt during inflationary periods? CEO David King and Lead Tax Attorney Phillip Hwang discuss the difference in interest rates, deadlines, and what to do if you find yourself in this circumstance.

IRS Backlog to Clear Up by End of 2022 Many American taxpayers have been waiting for refunds that are a year or more behind. In recent weeks, Commissioner Charles Rettig stated that the IRS backlog is due to clear up by the end of 2022.

Gas Stimulus: What You Need to Know In California, the average cost for regular gas is now up to $5.82, or $6.21 for premium. Recently, the government has decided to step in on federal and state levels to alleviate costs and provide support to the public. This has led to the creation of a new gas stimulus, which would support households that own vehicles.

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Optima Provides Free Tax Assistance to Local Community Through Partnership with VITA Program

optima vita

Optima Tax Relief has once again teamed up with the IRS to provide assistance to low-income residents and other members of their surrounding community with free tax preparation services. Over 100 members of Optima’s staff registered with the United Way of Orange County, California to participate in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which was launched by the IRS to provide free tax preparation services to those such as:

  • Persons with disabilities
  • Limited English-speaking taxpayers
  • Elderly taxpayers
  • Low to moderate-income taxpayers

The free tax help offered by the VITA program is particularly beneficial for those who are 60 years of age and older, as it specializes in questions about pensions and other retirement-related issues that are unique to seniors. Many of the community members who would qualify for the program are retired individuals associated with non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS. This year, however, we saw a wide range of ages attend for assistance. We were happy to help anyone that we could!

“It gave me the opportunity to offer assistance, to the people of our community, who may not have had the fortune to go elsewhere for tax assistance and walk away with a smile on their face for the help and guidance they received,” said Associate Director of Payments Steve Stoffel.

SVP of Accounting, Richard Hamiprodjo called volunteering for the VITA program “a rewarding experience getting involved with the community and helping those who are in need.”

By partnering with the IRS, the VITA program is able to offer reliable, trustworthy tax filing services for free. Optima’s volunteers for the VITA program helped with tax preparation, greeting guests, and some gathered the appropriate tax documents from taxpayers.

Associate VP of Human Resources Kimberly Carson was also a volunteer this year. She shared her thoughts and experience, saying, “It was great to have the opportunity to give back to our community and help people with getting their taxes completed. Not everyone has extra money to get their taxes done by professionals to ensure it is done correctly, so to be able to provide this service to the community is not only needed but fulfilling. Thank you for the opportunity!”

Our volunteers exclaimed how exciting and fulfilling it was to be part of this event. The culture within Optima is very community oriented, and it shows through the tenacity Optimians have for helping others and connecting. Martha Casillas, a Payments Coordinator at Optima said, “My participation as a VITA volunteer gave me a boost of self-confidence, and self-esteem within the company. Being new to the OTR family, it also allowed me to connect with other Optimians, as well as see some of the involvements OTR has within the surrounding communities.”

Case Manager Kateri Drewes added, “For me, being a VITA volunteer means taking the time to give back to my local community. I cherish the opportunity to help folks get the care and quality service they deserve!”

Optima looks forward to working with United Way to host our very own VITA site at our California office next year. Our goal is to serve more taxpayers with a bigger outreach in the Santa Ana community.

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How to Choose a Qualified Tax Preparer

Working with a qualified tax preparer can lessen the likelihood of delays and mistakes when you file. What makes a tax preparer qualified? Lead Tax Attorney Philip Hwang and CEO David King discuss tips for choosing your tax preparer. The Tax Show hosts cover types of tax professionals, credentials, minimum requirements, and red flags to look out for. Tune in to learn how to choose the best tax preparer for your tax situation.

Need more time to file your taxes? Download the Optima® TAX APP to file a free tax extension today.

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Court Upholds Rulings on Passport Denial for those with Major Tax Debt

passport denial tax debt

As the COVID restrictions lighten, with mask mandates ending in various regions, a lot of families are planning to travel. Trips that require a passport, however, may be postponed for Americans with tax debt. The IRS previously authorized State Departments to revoke or deny your passport if you have delinquent tax debt. Courts over the past year have uniformly rejected challenges which effectively allows the Internal Revenue Service to deny citizens the right to travel outside the country. This includes new passport applications as well as your current passport. Should you find yourself reading this while overseas, you may be issued a limited validity passport to allow direct return to the US.

Does your tax debt qualify for passport denial?

Accruing interest and penalties can drastically increase your tax debt. The IRS is looking for cases owing $55,000 or more with a federal tax lien or levy issued.

What kind of tax debt does not certify?

Not all tax debt certifies for passport revocation and denial. Liabilities due to Report of Foreign Bank Account (FBAR) penalty and child support are two examples of debt that wouldn’t certify to State Departments. The IRS also mentions the following cases will not certify:

  • Timely payments with an IRS-approved installment agreement
  • Timely payment of an accepted Offer in Compromise
  • A collection due process hearing is requested in a timely manner regarding a levy
  • Collection has been suspended due to a request for innocent spouse relief
  • If you’re in bankruptcy status
  • If you’re a victim of tax-related identity theft
  • Currently not collectible due to hardship
  • Located within a federally declared disaster area
  • Your request is pending for an IRS installment agreement
  • Your Offer in Compromise is pending with the IRS
  • You have an IRS accepted adjustment that will satisfy the debt in full
  • You’re serving in a combat zone or participating in a contingency operation (the IRS will postpone certification)

How does certification to the State work?

You can expect to receive NoticeCP508C when the IRS certifies your tax debt to the State Department. This notice will be delivered by mail to your more recent known address.

Please note that your power of attorney will not receive a copy of this letter.

You will have 90 days before your passport application is denied to resolve your certification issues. You can also make a full payment, or enter a payment agreement with the IRS.

How to reverse certification

You can reverse your certified tax debt situation under one of the following conditions:

  • Fully satisfy the tax debt or it becomes legally unenforceable
  • The tax debt is no longer seriously delinquent
  • The certification is incorrect

When the IRS reverses certification, you will receive NoticeCP508R.

How long will it take the IRS to reverse tax debt certification?

The reversal will be completed within 30 days.

Additional help and resources for passport denial due to tax debt

At Optima, we assist clients who have seriously delinquent tax debt with their relief process. Resources such as The Fresh Start Program are available to help you get the best solution possible for your case.

Give us a call for a free consultation at (800)536-0734.

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