See the Chief Counsel Memorandum here.
This is very interesting and has implications across the country as states understandably try to ratchet up their sales, and particularly use tax enforcement.
On February 24, 2010, Colorado enacted a law subjecting out-of-state retailers to certain sales and use notification and reporting requirements. The new use tax reporting established three new obligations for most out-of-state retailers:
(1) Retailers must notify their customers that the retailers did not collect Colorado sales tax, and that the customers are obligated to self-report and pay Colorado use tax;
(2) Retailers must provide each customer with an annual report detailing the customer’s purchases in the previous calendar year, informing the customer of an obligation to report use tax and that the retailer is obligated to report the customer’s name and total amount of purchases to the Colorado Department of Revenue; and
(3) Retailers must provide to the Department an annual report describing Colorado customers’ names, billing addresses, shipping addresses and the total amount of purchases.
The Direct Marketing Association challenged the constitutionality of the reporting regime by filing a suit in federal court seeking a declaration that it was unconstitutional and seeking an injunction preventing the Department from enforcing these requirements.
On March 30, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado permanently enjoined the enforcement of Colorado’s sales and use tax notice and reporting requirements.
Issue Number: IR-2012-31 WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced a major expansion of its “Fresh Start” initiative to help struggling taxpayers by taking steps to provide new penalty relief to the unemployed and making Installment Agreements available to more people.
Under the new Fresh Start provisions, part of a broader effort started at the IRS in 2008, certain taxpayers who have been unemployed for 30 days or longer will be able to avoid failure-to-pay penalties. In addition, the IRS is doubling the dollar threshold for taxpayers eligible for Installment Agreements to help more people qualify for the program.
“We have an obligation to work with taxpayers who are struggling to make ends meet,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. ”This new approach makes sense for taxpayers and for the nation’s tax system, and it’s part of a wider effort we have underway to help struggling taxpayers.”
The IRS announced plans for new penalty relief for the unemployed on failure-to-pay penalties, which are one of the biggest factors a financially distressed taxpayer faces on a tax bill.
To assist those most in need, a six-month grace period on failure-to-pay penalties will be made available to certain wage earners and self-employed individuals. The request for an extension of time to pay will result in relief from the failure to pay penalty for tax year 2011 only if the tax, interest and any other penalties are fully paid by Oct. 15, 2012.
The penalty relief will be available to two categories of taxpayers:
- Wage earners who have been unemployed at least 30 consecutive days during 2011 or in 2012 up to the April 17 deadline for filing a federal tax return this year.
- Self-employed individuals who experienced a 25 percent or greater reduction in business income in 2011 due to the economy.
This penalty relief is subject to income limits. A taxpayer’s income must not exceed $200,000 if he or she files as married filing jointly or not exceed $100,000 if he or she files as single or head of household. This penalty relief is also restricted to taxpayers whose calendar year 2011 balance due does not exceed $50,000.
Taxpayers meeting the eligibility criteria will need to complete a new Form 1127A to seek the 2011 penalty relief. The new form is available on IRS.gov.
The failure-to-pay penalty is generally half of 1 percent per month with an upper limit of 25 percent. Under this new relief, taxpayers can avoid that penalty until Oct. 15, 2012, which is six months beyond this year’s filing deadline. However, the IRS is still legally required to charge interest on unpaid back taxes and does not have the authority to waive this charge, which is currently 3 percent on an annual basis.
Even with the new penalty relief becoming available, the IRS strongly encourages taxpayers to file their returns on time by April 17 or file for an extension. Failure-to-file penalties applied to unpaid taxes remain in effect and are generally 5 percent per month, also with a 25 percent cap.
The Fresh Start provisions also mean that more taxpayers will have the ability to use streamlined installment agreements to catch up on back taxes.
The IRS announced today that, effective immediately, the threshold for using an installment agreement without having to supply the IRS with a financial statement has been raised from $25,000 to $50,000. This is a significant reduction in taxpayer burden.
Taxpayers who owe up to $50,000 in back taxes will now be able to enter into a streamlined agreement with the IRS that stretches the payment out over a series of months or years. The maximum term for streamlined installment agreements has also been raised to 72 months from the current 60-month maximum.
Taxpayers seeking installment agreements exceeding $50,000 will still need to supply the IRS with a Collection Information Statement (Form 433-A or Form 433-F). Taxpayers may also pay down their balance due to $50,000 or less to take advantage of this payment option.
An installment agreement is an option for those who cannot pay their entire tax bills by the due date. Penalties are reduced, although interest continues to accrue on the outstanding balance. In order to qualify for the new expanded streamlined installment agreement, a taxpayer must agree to monthly direct debit payments.
Taxpayers can set up an installment agreement with the IRS by going to the On-line Payment Agreement (OPA) page on IRS.gov and following the instructions.
These changes supplement a number of efforts to help struggling taxpayers, including the “Fresh Start” program announced last year. The initiative includes a variety of changes to help individuals and businesses pay back taxes more easily and with less burden, including the issuance of fewer tax liens.
“Our goal is to help people meet their obligations and get back on their feet financially,” Shulman said.
Input from the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council and the IRS National Taxpayer Advocate’s office contributed to the formulation of Fresh Start.
Offers in Compromise
Under the first round of Fresh Start, the IRS expanded a new streamlined Offer in Compromise (OIC) program to cover a larger group of struggling taxpayers. An offer-in-compromise is an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed.
The IRS recognizes that many taxpayers are still struggling to pay their bills so the agency has been working to put in place more common-sense changes to the OIC program to more closely reflect real-world situations.
For example, the IRS has more flexibility with financial analysis for determining reasonable collection potential for distressed taxpayers.
Generally, an offer will not be accepted if the IRS believes that the liability can be paid in full as a lump sum or through a payment agreement. The IRS looks at the taxpayer’s income and assets to make a determination regarding the taxpayer’s ability to pay.
IR-2012-10, Jan. 18, 2012 WASHINGTON –– The Internal Revenue Service will host the second in a series of public meetings Wednesday, Jan. 25 to gather feedback on how to implement long-term changes to the tax system to reduce burden for taxpayers.
IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman has outlined a vision that would move the agency away from the traditional “look back” model of compliance, and instead perform substantially more “real time,” or upfront matching of tax returns when they are first filed with the IRS.
The goal of this initiative, called the Real-Time Tax System, is to improve the tax filing process by reducing burden for taxpayers and increasing overall compliance. Under such a system, the IRS could match information submitted on a tax return with third-party information at the beginning of return processing and provide the opportunity for taxpayers to fix the tax return if it contains data that does not match IRS records. Currently, the IRS conducts a significant number of compliance activities months after the tax return has been filed and processed.
At this public meeting, IRS officials will solicit feedback and input from outside stakeholders. This second meeting will feature representatives of large and small businesses, financial institutions, software providers and state revenue commissions.
In the meeting on Dec. 8, 2011, IRS officials heard comments from representatives of consumer groups, tax professionals and state and federal government representatives.
My wife recently….
Beginning with your 2012 California tax return, the reporting requirements for real estate tax deductions will change. This will include reporting your property parcel number, deductible, and nondeductible amounts. Keep a copy of your property tax bill(s) to report this information on your return.
Issue Number: IR-2011-124 WASHINGTON — Nearly 160 million workers will benefit from the extension of the reduced payroll tax rate that has been in effect for 2011. The Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 temporarily extends the two percentage point payroll tax cut for employees, continuing the reduction of their Social Security tax withholding rate from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent of wages paid through Feb. 29, 2012. This reduced Social Security withholding will have no effect on employees’ future Social Security benefits.
Employers should implement the new payroll tax rate as soon as possible in 2012 but not later than Jan. 31, 2012. For any Social Security tax over-withheld during January, employers should make an offsetting adjustment in workers’ pay as soon as possible but not later than March 31, 2012.
Employers and payroll companies will handle the withholding changes, so workers should not need to take any additional action.
Under the terms negotiated by Congress, the law also includes a new “recapture” provision, which applies only to those employees who receive more than $18,350 in wages during the two-month period (the Social Security wage base for 2012 is $110,100, and $18,350 represents two months of the full-year amount). This provision imposes an additional income tax on these higher-income employees in an amount equal to 2 percent of the amount of wages they receive during the two-month period in excess of $18,350 (and not greater than $110,100).
This additional recapture tax is an add-on to income tax liability that the employee would otherwise pay for 2012 and is not subject to reduction by credits or deductions. The recapture tax would be payable in 2013 when the employee files his or her income tax return for the 2012 tax year. With the possibility of a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut being discussed for 2012, the IRS will closely monitor the situation in case future legislation changes the recapture provision.
The IRS will issue additional guidance as needed to implement the provisions of this new two-month extension, including revised employment tax forms and instructions and information for employees who may be subject to the new “recapture” provision. For most employers, the quarterly employment tax return for the quarter ending March 31, 2012 is due April 30, 2012.
Issue Number: IR-2011-123 WASHINGTON— Taxpayers can get the most out of various recovery tax benefits and get a jump on preparing their 2011 federal income tax returns by consulting a newly revised comprehensive tax guide now available on IRS.gov.
Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, features details on taking advantage of a wide range of tax-saving opportunities, such as the American opportunity credit for parents and college students, and the child tax credit and expanded earned income tax credit for low- and moderate-income workers. This useful 303-page guide also provides more than 5,000 interactive links to help taxpayers quickly get answers to their questions.
Publication 17 has been published annually by the IRS since the 1940s and has been available on the IRS web site since 1996. As in prior years, this publication is packed with basic tax-filing information and tips on what income to report and how to report it, figuring capital gains and losses, claiming dependents, choosing the standard deduction versus itemizing deductions, and using IRAs to save for retirement.
Besides Publication 17, IRS.gov offers many other helpful resources for those doing year-end tax planning. Many 2011 forms are already posted, and updated versions of other forms, instructions and publications are being posted almost every day. Forms already available include Form 1040, short Forms 1040A and 1040EZ,Schedule A for itemizing deductions and new Form 8949 for reporting sales of stocks, bonds and other capital assets.