Danny Werfel was sworn in as the 50th IRS Commissioner on April 4, 2023. Given the $80 billion in new funding that the IRS is receiving under the Inflation Reduction Act, one of his first tasks is to produce the IRS’s strategic operating plan on how it will spend these funds. Commissioner Werfel promised “real world improvements for every taxpayer, every tax professional, and every IRS employee.”
Democrats claim this “investment” of additional funding to the IRS will yield more than $200 billion in revenue. They are looking to the IRS to come down hard on taxpayers with Senators Schumer and Manchin stating that it is time for the agency to go into “beast mode”. The Inflation Reduction Act earmarks $45.6 billion for “enforcement,” including “litigation,” “criminal investigations,” “investigative technology,” “digital asset monitoring” and a new fleet of tax-collector cars.
Given Congress’ expectations, it should be no surprise that the Commissioner stated, “It makes sense to focus our initial Inflation Reduction Act implementation efforts exclusively on increasing our capacity to assess compliance of high-income and high-wealth individuals, complex partnerships and large corporations.”
The Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official tax scorekeeper, says that “78% to 90% of the money raised from under-reported income would likely come from those making less than $200,000 a year. Only 4% to 9% would come from those making more than $500,000.” So it makes sense that the main targets will by necessity be the middle- and upper-middle class because that’s where the government believes the money is.
It is reported that a particular audit target will be “pass throughs” including Subchapter S and LLC businesses that file under the individual tax code. With the proliferation of States legalizing cannabis, it would not be surprising for the IRS to increase audits for this industry too. Democrats keeping their promise not to raise individual tax rates, have resorted to increasing audits as a way of increasing tax revenues.
2023 IRS Strategic Operating Plan
On April 6, 2023 the IRS unveiled its Strategic Operating Plan, an ambitious effort to transform the tax agency and dramatically improve service to taxpayers and the nation during the next decade.
The 150-page report to the Secretary of the Treasury outlines the agency’s historic plans to make fundamental changes following funding from last year’s Inflation Reduction Act.
The plan makes clear that the resources to be deployed over the short and long term will be used to:
- Rebuild and strengthen IRS customer service activities, putting an end to long wait times on the phone, adding capacity to the in-person taxpayer assistance centers around the country, and providing new online tools for those who want to engage with the IRS digitally.
- Add capacity to unpack the complex filings of high-income taxpayers, large corporations and complex partnerships, addressing a growing chasm between the number of experienced compliance personnel at the IRS who audit high-income, high-wealth tax filings for compliance (about 2,600 employees) and the roughly 30,000 individuals making more than $10 million a year, 60,000 large corporations and 300,000 large partnerships and S corps.
- Update various outdated systems in IRS core operations to help ensure the agency has the most modern and robust security in technology to protect taxpayer data.
The plan is organized around five objectives:
- Dramatically improve services to help taxpayers meet their obligations and receive the tax incentives for which they are eligible.
- Quickly resolve taxpayer issues when they arise.
- Focus expanded enforcement on taxpayers with complex tax filings and high-dollar noncompliance to address the tax gap.
- Deliver cutting-edge technology, data and analytics to operate more effectively.
- Attract, retain and empower a highly skilled, diverse workforce and develop a culture that is better equipped to deliver results for taxpayers.
Each objective will be accomplished through specific initiatives outlined in the plan. The plan contains 42 initiatives designed to achieve IRS goals, each of which includes multiple key projects and milestones to measure progress. The plan covers more than 190 key projects and more than 200 specific milestones. The IRS will identify additional projects and milestones as work continues. The IRS also expects that the number of projects and milestones will grow significantly over time as the plan evolves to meet the needs of the nation and tax administration.
Importance To Preserve Records
Keep in mind that the IRS has up to three years to select a tax return for audit. For California taxpayers, the Franchise Tax Board has up to four years to select a California State Income Tax Return for audit. In some cases these 3 and 4 year periods are extended to six years. When a taxpayer is selected for audit, the taxpayer has the burden of proof to show that expenses claimed are properly deductible. Having the evidence handy and organized makes meeting this burden of proof much easier.
Essential Records to Have for a Tax Audit
If you are getting ready for a tax audit, one of the most important things to do is gather and organize your tax records and receipts. There’s a good chance that you have a large amount of documents and receipts in your possession. No matter how organized you are, it can be a daunting task to collect the right pieces and make sure that you have them organized and handy for the audit conference.
We have seen many tax audits that hinge on whether or not the taxpayer can provide proper documentation for their previous tax filings. A tax lawyer in Orange County or elsewhere can make sure that the documentation is complete and proper. By submitting this to your tax attorney in advance of the audit, your tax attorney can review your documentation and determine if there are any gaps that need to be addressed before starting the dialogue with the IRS agent.
So what are the most essential tax records to have ahead of your audit? Here are a few must-have items:
- Any W-2 forms from the previous year. This can include documents from full-time and part-time work, large casino and lottery winnings and more.
- Form 1098 records from your bank or lender on mortgage interest paid from the previous year.
- Records of any miscellaneous money you earned and reported to the IRS including work done as an independent contractor or freelancer, interest from savings accounts and stock dividends.
- Written letters from charities confirming your monetary donations from the previous year.
- Receipts for business expenses you claimed.
- Mileage Logs for business use of vehicle.
- Entertainment and Travel Logs for business
Appealing Results Of An IRS Tax Audit
Now if your IRS tax audit is not resolved, the results may be challenged. After the Revenue Agent has concluded the tax examination, the agent will issue a copy of the examination report explaining the agent’s proposed changes along with notice of your appeals rights. Pay attention to the type of letter that is included as it will dictate the appeals process available to you.
The “30-day letter”
The “30-day letter” gives you the right to challenge the proposed adjustment in the IRS Office Of Appeals. To do this, you need to file a Tax Protest within 30 days of the date of the notice. The Appeals Office is the only level of appeal within the IRS and is separate from and independent of the IRS office taking the action you disagree with. Conferences with Appeals Office personnel are held in an informal manner by correspondence, by telephone, or at a personal conference.
The “Notice Of Deficiency”
If the IRS does not adopt your position, it will send a notice proposing a tax adjustment (known as a statutory notice of deficiency). The statutory notice of deficiency gives you the right to challenge the proposed adjustment in the United States Tax Court before paying it. To do this, you need to file a petition within 90 days of the date of the notice (150 days if the notice is addressed to you outside the United States). If you filed your petition on time, the court will eventually schedule your case for trial at the designation place of trial you set forth in your petition. Prior to trial you should have the opportunity to seek a settlement with IRS Area Counsel and in certain cases, such settlement negotiations could be delegated to the IRS Office Of Appeals. If there is still disagreement and the case does go to trial, you will have the opportunity to present your case before a Tax Court judge. The judge after hearing your case and reviewing the record and any post-trial briefs will render a decision in the form of an Opinion. It could take as much as two years after trial before an Opinion issued. If the Opinion is not appealed to a Circuit Court Of Appeals, then the proposed deficiency under the Opinion is final and your account will be sent to IRS Collections.
IRS Area Counsel are experienced trial attorneys working for the IRS whose job is to litigate cases in the U.S. Tax Court and look out for the best interests of the Federal government. So to level the playing field, it would be prudent for a taxpayer to hire qualified tax counsel as soon as possible to seek a mutually acceptable resolution without the need for trial, and if that does not happen, to already have the legal expertise in place to vigorously defend you at trial.
What Should You Do?
You know that at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. we are always thinking of ways that our clients can save on taxes. If you are selected for an audit, stand up to the IRS by getting representation. Tax problems are usually a serious matter and must be handled appropriately so it’s important to that you’ve hired the best lawyer for your particular situation. The tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), the San Francisco Bay Area (including San Jose and Walnut Creek) and elsewhere in California are highly skilled in handling tax matters and can effectively represent at all levels with the IRS and State Tax Agencies including criminal tax investigations and attempted prosecutions, undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other foreign assets, and unreported foreign income. Also if you are involved in cannabis, check out what a cannabis tax attorney can do for you and if you are involved in crypto-currency, check out what a Bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.