Tax Relief Solutions

Tax Implications when Buying and Selling Stocks During a Market Downturn

The stock market can be extremely volatile, especially throughout the entirety of this year due to the pandemic, businesses closing down, and unemployment numbers increasing, and of course, the presidential election that just took place.

Millions of American invested in the stock market and took advantage of stock prices when they hit their lowest while millions of others chose to sell the current stock they had in order to avoid any additional losses they could face in the near future.

If you currently invest in the stock market or sold your stocks this year, you may be wondering if you will face any tax implications when it comes time to file your taxes. Here is everything you need to know about reporting your stocks on your tax return.

Taxes on Capital Gains

Shares of stock that were sold at a higher rate compared to when you purchased them means that you will be responsible for reporting and perhaps paying on any capital gains you may have created. One thing to consider when selling during a downturn is how long you’ve had your stock for. You may have a tidy gain even if it has fallen from its previous highs.

Long-term vs. Short-term Capital Gains

Taxpayers that have a gain on a sale of security they have held for over a year will receive the benefit of lower long-term capital gains tax rates depending on their income. However, if their gains come from the sale of a stock that has been held for one year or less, their stock sale will be taxed as a short term capital gain.

Offsetting Capital Gains with Capital Losses

If you’ve sold losing stock and have a capital loss, you can offset your losses with your capital gains. This is also known as tax-loss harvesting meaning investors analyze their capital losses so they can offset their capital gains.

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

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What Taxpayers need to know about Their Right to Finality

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

For taxpayers who have been working with the IRS, it is important for them to know that they have a right to finality. Specifically those who have had their tax return(s) audited by the IRS should know that there is a Taxpayer Bill of Rights in place to protect them.

For taxpayers currently in the audit process, here is what you need to know about your right to finality:

  • Taxpayers have the right to know
    • The maximum amount of time they have to challenge the IRS’s position.
    • The maximum amount of time the IRS has to audit a tax year or collect a tax debt.
    • When the IRS has finished an audit.
  • The IRS typically has three years from the date that a taxpayer files their return to review for an additional tax for the year in question.
  • There are very few exceptions when it comes to the three-year rule. An exception would be considered if a taxpayer fails to file a return or files a fraudulent return. In either case, the IRS would have an unlimited amount of time to assess tax for the tax years in question.
  • The IRS generally has 10 years from the date of assessment to collect unpaid taxes. It is important for a taxpayer to know that the 10-year period cannot be extended unless a taxpayer enters into a payment plan or the IRS obtains court judgments.
  • A 10-year collection period may be suspended when the IRS cannot collect money because a taxpayer has an ongoing bankruptcy or there’s a collection due process proceeding involving the taxpayer.
  • A taxpayer will only be subject to one audit per tax year. The IRS has the ability to reopen an audit for a previous tax year if the IRS deems it necessary.

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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How Long does it Take to be Placed on an IRS Agreement?

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

Dealing with the IRS can be a stressful ordeal, especially if you owe a tax liability. When attempting to set up an installment agreement with the IRS, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months depending on the type of agreement you’re attempting to qualify for. 

The IRS allows taxpayers to set up payment plans, such as extensions to pay and “streamlined” installment agreements. For more complicated agreements, the IRS will require that you provide financial information in order to verify whether or not you qualify.

Here are your options when attempting to get on a payment agreement with the IRS:

Request an extension. If you need more time to pay off your tax liability, the IRS allows taxpayers to request an extension for up to 120 days. The IRS will grant this extension for any tax balance amount as long as taxpayers pay their balance owed before the deadline. If the bill is not reconciled before the due date, the IRS will place the taxpayer in question back into collections. 

Set up a simple payment plan. These agreements are typically called streamline installment agreements and can be set up by a taxpayer that has a tax bill of up to $50,000. Taxpayers must pay their balance back within six years and generally the IRS does not file a tax lien. 

If you were previously set up on an agreement and defaulted, you may need to contact the IRS to set up another one and provide your current financial information.

Taxpayers that owe between $25,000 and $50,000 will be required to pay by direct debit or a payroll deduction in order to avoid a lien being filed against them. The typical time frame to set up this agreement is between 4-6 weeks.

Request a payment plan for a tax bill over $100,000 OR currently not collectible status. For those who have a tax balance over $100,000 or you’re financially strapped and unable to pay back the IRS within an 84 month period, the IRS does provide assistance. A taxpayer can request a currently not collectable status if they are in financial hardship and don’t have the ability to pay their tax liability. 

A taxpayer must submit their financials and prove that they are in a hardship in order to qualify for this agreement. The IRS typically files a tax lien for those who owe more than $10,000.

The agreement can be requested over the phone however, it can take months to complete. This is because the IRS requires a taxpayer’s most current financials as well as additional detailed information. If this agreement is requested via mail, it will typically take the IRS 1-2 months to consider your request and could even ask that a taxpayer forward more information if they deem the documentation they have on file is insufficient. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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Why You Might Owe After Filing Your Taxes

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

There are many reasons why you might owe a tax balance when it comes time to file your taxes. You may wonder how this could have happened, and you may not even be sure of what you can do to avoid the same problem next year. There are solutions to ensure you don’t accrue a liability when you file in the future; here are the five most common reasons why you might owe a tax balance and how you can prevent owing the IRS again come next tax season.

  1. You didn’t withhold enough from your pay. Double check your federal and state withholdings on your paycheck to see how much is taken out every time you get paid. The IRS offers tools for taxpayers to use when they want to adjust their withholdings but don’t know how much to take out.  
  2. Income that is not subject to withholding. If you invest in stocks, sell stocks, or even if you receive unemployment benefits, this will make your income appear to be much bigger than it actually is. This could potentially lead to you owing a tax balance when you file your taxes.
  3. Failure to make estimated tax payments. If you are self-employed/1099 earner, you typically don’t have taxes withheld from your earnings. It is up to the taxpayer to determine how much taxes they should be withholding and making these estimated tax payments to the IRS either monthly or quarterly.
  4. Filing Changes. If you’ve had big life changes within the last year such as getting married, divorced or having a dependent, it can affect your filing status and what credits/write-offs you’re eligible for.
  5. You filled out your W-4 wrong. If you just got a job or are in the middle of a job change, it’s important to carefully fill out your W-4 information. A common mistake that a taxpayer makes when filling out this form is failing to put in their correct withholding, which could lead to owing a tax balance at tax time.

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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Is a Tax Relief Company Beneficial for You?

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

If you’re unable to afford paying your taxes on time and fear that the IRS will penalize you because of it, hiring a tax relief company may be the best choice for you. So what should you look for when you are exploring which tax relief company may be the best fit for you?

Here are the tax relief options you should look out for before choosing a company:

Release of Liens and Levies: Typically a tax relief company will offer a service where they will either assist in releasing any liens or levies that have been placed against you or work towards avoiding having them ever be placed on you.  Typically they can do this in two ways, one by filing your taxes to ensure that you are fully compliant with the IRS and two, negotiating a payment plan to get you out of collections. 

Payment Plan: One of the main services you should also be on the lookout for is whether or not the tax relief service offers to negotiate a payment plan with the IRS on your behalf. Typically, they will attempt to get you the best resolution possible by providing a compilation of all necessary expenses to the IRS in order to prove you are unable to pay your tax balance in full.

You can expect a payment plan to be a monthly expense that you will take on until your liability has been paid in full. 

Offer in Compromise: If you are facing true financial hardship and don’t have the means to pay back your IRS debt, then an Offer in Compromise (OIC) might be something you could possibly qualify for. If you do qualify, you could settle with the IRS for a lot less than what you owed – or the IRS might wipe all your debt away altogether. When searching for a tax relief company, inquire if they review their clients for OIC and if they do this at an additional charge.

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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How to Find a Good Tax Lawyer

When looking for tax relief, how to find a good tax lawyer is critical.

Tax law is complicated and highly technical. In the legal world, the field of tax law is considered one of the more demanding specialties. Tax lawyers deal with a wide range of situations and the rules and laws are continually changing. Not only does a tax lawyer need to have superlative legal skills to succeed, they also need certain personality traits. Find a good tax attorney to help you with tax relief and avoid dealing with the IRS directly.

What qualities make a good attorney?

Consider these academic and professional guidelines for tax attorneys when looking for tax relief.

  • A good tax attorney has specific experience in the field of taxation. For example, are your tax issues related to a real estate transaction? Or are you running a business and need assistance with a sales tax challenge? Or with filing your income tax? A good tax lawyer will concentrate within certain fields and will be familiar with the laws and the protocols needed to address those particular areas of tax relief.
  • Being associated with an office that is exclusively focused on tax related matters is another important quality for a tax attorney.
  • Having an LLM (Masters Legal Degree in Law) in taxation is a sign that your attorney is serious about his profession and is academically qualified to work within the field of tax law.
  • A good tax lawyer has firsthand experience working with the IRS.
  • Successful tax attorneys are continually refreshing their knowledge and keeping up with the continually changing nature of tax law.
  • Tax lawyers should be in good standing with the Better Business Bureau and their local state bar.
  • Good tax attorneys keep their clients informed and up-to-date during the tax relief process.

Skills of a Good Tax Lawyer

Tax attorneys also need to have certain personal skills and abilities to succeed in the area of tax relief. Consider these skills when finding a tax lawyer.

  • A good tax lawyer has high level oral communication skills. They are the intermediary between you and the tax authorities. They need to be able to explain complicated issues and represent your case in a clear manner.
  • Above average written communication skills are another important qualification of a good tax attorney. Tax lawyers write complaints, documents and lawsuit responses.
  • Critical thinking skills are necessary when your attorney is working on a tax relief case. A good tax lawyer can take a look at a case, pick up on any weaknesses, and choose which course of action to take based on the specifics of the case.
  • Having an analytical and organized personality is highly important for a tax attorney. Tax relief cases are usually very complicated and involve numbers and specific, detailed information. A good tax attorney will be able to stay on top of all the elements of the case.
  • Good interpersonal skills are critical for a tax attorney to work effectively with a client in a tax relief case. They need to be able to communicate effectively with both the client and with the tax authorities.
  • Having a committed and persevering personality are necessary qualities for the person who will be representing your tax relief case.

Taxes are complicated and the laws are constantly changing. Your financial future is often at stake in a legal situation involving taxes. Getting appropriate representation for tax relief is very important and knowing what makes a good tax lawyer is a very important first step in getting a resolution.

Need some tax relief? Solutions start here. Learn about tax reduction strategies with Optima Tax Relief. Contact us for a tax consultation today.

Is Working with the IRS Your Only Option?

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

  • Taxpayers have the option to work with the IRS directly or hire a tax professional to help resolve their tax situation.
  • Working directly with the IRS to settle tax debt could prove to be extremely time intensive. 
  • A tax professional will work with the IRS on your behalf to get you compliant and to negotiate the best possible outcome for you.

If you just found out you owe a tax liability or you’ve known for some time that you’ve had an outstanding balance with the IRS and you have no idea how you’re going to pay them back, don’t freak out. There
are options the IRS provides for taxpayers to get compliant as well as tax professionals who can walk you through every step of how to get you on the right track with your tax debt. 

Should you choose to work directly with the IRS, they will require that you have filed all your taxes, including the current tax year. If you have some tax years that have yet to be filed, you may have to either file your own taxes or go to a tax preparer to file for you. Once this is complete, the IRS will request proof of your most recent income to review what payment agreement you qualify for. The IRS will then present you with options you have for a monthly payment plan. Although the IRS will review some of your expenses and consider them as a factor when deciding how high your payment plan should be, the process to see if you can get it reduced can be extensive and time-consuming.

If you decide to go with a tax firm, they will negotiate on your behalf so you don’t have to deal with the IRS. If you have unfiled tax years that need to be filed, a tax firm will typically assist you with all your unfiled years and make sure that you’re up to date with all your taxes. Once your returns are filed and your financials have been reviewed, a tax professional will usually go over payment plan options you may qualify for and explain to you why you qualify for those options. After your options have been discussed with you, a tax professional will begin negotiations with an IRS agent and will attempt to get you the best possible outcome.

If you have a tax balance that you’re looking to settle with the IRS, weigh your options. Research whether it is more feasible to negotiate with the IRS directly or to have a tax professional assist you throughout the process. Whichever you decide to go with, it will still be beneficial to you since both will get you out of collections and compliant with
the IRS.

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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How to Avoid Getting Scammed by a Tax Preparer

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

  • Be wary of scammers pretending to be tax preparers.
  • Look for a tax preparer that is available year-round to assist you with all your tax questions.
  • Make sure that your tax preparer has a PTIN.
  • Don’t give any personal information away to a tax preparer if you’re still shopping around.

Tax season is hard enough to get through with all the documents you have to provide and the constant worry if you’re going to owe a tax debt. For most, it never crosses their mind that their tax preparer could be the one that is committing fraud by stealing their client’s personal information, refunds, or identity. 

Here are a few things to lookout for when choosing a tax preparer:

  • Do your research. When searching for a tax preparer make sure to verify that they have a history of working with clients and have successfully filed their taxes.
  • Check their availability. It is recommended that you find a tax preparer that works year-round to answer any questions that may arise about your tax return. 
  • Ask for their PTIN. Ask your tax preparer for their Preparation Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Paid tax preparers are required to register with the IRS and must include their PTIN on tax returns they have filed. 
  • Ask about their fees. Look out for tax preparers who charge fees based on the percentage of your refund or boast that they can give you a larger refund compared to other tax preparers. 
  • Don’t be quick to give your information away. Avoid giving personal information away like your social security number to tax preparers when you are just requesting a quote. 

If you need tax help, contact us for a free consultation.

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You Received an IRS Notice, Now What?

As a taxpayer, one of the most frightening things you could receive in the mail is an IRS letter. Depending on the notice that you receive from the IRS, it can cause anxiety and fear, and you may even feel unsure about what your next move will be or what tax solutions may be available to you. The IRS does have tools available that taxpayers can utilize for IRS tax help, even if they received a notice that makes it unclear what their next steps would be. Below are some of the most common collection notices sent out to taxpayers every year. 

CP501/502

If you’ve received a CP501 notice, it means that the IRS is attempting to notify you of a past balance due. The IRS will request that you take action in order to resolve your outstanding balance. A CP502 notice also doubles as a reminder that the IRS sends about your tax balance. Typically, each notice indicates the interest and penalties that have accrued in addition to what you owe to the IRS. 

If you receive these types of notices, the IRS is letting you know of what the current balance, including interest and penalties, is owed. Once you confirm that the balance is accurate, you can either pay the balance for the tax year in question or contact the IRS to get set up on a payment plan. 

CP504

A CP504 notice is a secondary notice that the IRS will send to alert you of your tax debt if you owe a tax balance. This notice is to also notify you that they’re preparing to start collection action and to seize any tax refund you may have received. The IRS will continue their collection action against a taxpayer until their balance is paid in full. 

To avoid the IRS sending you into collections, it is important to stay compliant. You can do this by paying off your balance in full with the IRS or asking to be placed on a payment plan. It is also paramount that you continue to monitor your mail to ensure that you don’t receive any further notices from the IRS.

LT11/CP90

An LT11 is a notice to remind a taxpayer that they have an overdue payment for overdue taxes.

The IRS will send a CP90 notice if they have attempted to reach out to a taxpayer multiple times about their tax balance and have yet to receive a response. The letter states that the IRS has the intent to seize a taxpayer’s property or rights to their property if they fail to resolve their outstanding balance. 

Both these notices are a warning that the IRS will begin to take collection action against the taxpayer and it is up to the taxpayer to either continue to stay in collections with the IRS or settle their debt and get compliant. At this point in time, it is vital that you attempt to rectify the situation and get help with IRS debt by contacting them immediately to resolve your liability in addition to any interest and penalties that you have accrued.

Regardless of what notice you have received, it is important to review the notice and resolve the situation if needed. The IRS typically sends written communication to taxpayers to notify them of their tax balance and to reconcile their liability as soon as possible. If you need tax help and don’t know the first step to resolving your balance with the IRS, a tax relief company may be your best bet. A tax relief company will work with the IRS on your behalf to address your tax issues so you can be compliant moving forward.    

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

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How IRS Debt Can Ruin Your Travel Plans (and Jeopardize Your Passport)

The stress of owing the IRS can be overwhelming. The ever-present threat of having a lien placed on your assets, the fear every time you check your bank account to discover it has been levied dry, the strain of having the IRS garnish your monthly wages; these are just a few of the things that millions of Americans go through every day. Now, the IRS has made further changes to crack down on Americans who have not paid their taxes.

As of February 2018, Americans who owe the IRS more than $50,000 are at risk of having their passports revoked. If you have unpaid taxes owed to the IRS, it is important to either pay your balance in full or go on a monthly installment agreement in order to avoid having these travel restrictions placed on you. The State Department is now working alongside the IRS to not only revoke existing passports but to also deny any passport application for those with seriously delinquent tax debt.  (If you are overseas and your passport is denied, the State may issue a temporary passport that has limited validity to return to the United States.)  Essentially, until the tax debt is settled with the IRS, people will be placed on this new “No Passport” list.

There are a few exceptions to be aware of.  You won’t be at risk of being placed on the “No Passport” list if you are currently going through bankruptcy, if the IRS acknowledges you have been the victim of identity theft, or if there is a natural disaster declared on a federal level.  You may also be able to keep or renew your passport if you have a request pending for an installment agreement, have a pending offer in compromise with the IRS or if the IRS has accepted an adjustment that will satisfy your debt. And if you are placed on the “No Passport” list, the IRS will hold your application for 90 days to allow you to resolve your tax liability, pay your balance in full or enter into an installment agreement before revoking your passport.

This is yet another sign that the IRS is escalating their collection efforts against Americans who have unpaid taxes and another reasovn for you, as a taxpayer,  to stay current and compliant with their IRS filings.  If you are in the unfortunate situation of having delinquent IRS debt, it is wise to speak to a qualified tax professional who can help you evaluate your options sooner rather than later. Because when it comes to owing money to the IRS, delaying is almost always a losing strategy. For more information regarding on the IRS passport revocation and denial policy, click here!

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.