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Sacramento Tax Law Blog

Shareholder Loans and Your California Payroll Tax Audit

Although it is common practice for corporate officers to take shareholder loans from company coffers, weak or inconsistent recordkeeping can turn this into a serious problem during California payroll tax audits - undocumented loans are often picked up by state tax agencies as unreported "wages." In order to avoid scrutiny, or a possible tax assessment for failure to report wages, businesses must make sure that their shareholder loans are defensible as bona fide loans, and not advances on payments for services rendered, i.e. wages.

Update on Rules for Internet-Based Service Providers

Businesses on the cutting edge of technology may kick off the new year with a "sharing economy" workforce approach. Businesses that use a web-based approach to offering services, including the rental of tangible personal property, may qualify for the benefits related to this relatively new classification. Be aware of the IRS' requirements and the related rules for the best business practices and for preparedness in the event of an audit.

New Tool Allows Federal Taxpayers to Access Account Information Online

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) launched a new, web-based tool to assist taxpayers with simple balance inquiries. The new feature is one part of the IRS' plans to build a wider platform for taxpayers to more quickly and securely access various aspects of their account information online. A rigorous identity authentication process is required for all new users of this tool.

IRS Advisory Council Releases 2016 Annual Report

The Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council (IRSAC) released its annual report today for 2016. Based on IRSAC's findings and discussions in 2016, the council made recommendations on topics including:

California Sales and Use Tax Rate to Decrease in 2017

The temporary statewide sales and use tax increase approved through California's Proposition 30 expires on December 31, 2016. Effective January 1, 2017, the state sales and use tax rate in California will decrease by 0.25% to the new rate of 7.25%. The California State Board of Equalization notes, however, that in many cities and counties the total tax rate will be higher due to local voter-approved district taxes.

Bitcoins and Beyond - Recommendations to the IRS to Ensure Taxation of Virtual Currency Transactions

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently issued a report on the IRS' strategy for addressing income produced through virtual currencies, such as bitcoin, litecoin, and dogecoin. Use of virtual currency has grown in recent years, due in part to service benefits such as faster turnaround and lower transaction fees, and in part due to the relative anonymity of the parties involved in such transactions.

Security Summit to Expand Efforts to Protect Taxpayers from Fraud in 2017

The IRS and its Security Summit partners finalized plans on November 3, 2016, to improve identity theft protections in 2017 after the significant success of its 2016 program (and in spite of a growing number of scams). In the first nine months of the current year, identity theft victim claims dropped 50 percent, as compared to 2015. The number of fraudulent returns stopped by the IRS' tax processing systems increased, derailing 787,000 attempts at identity theft return filing, and stopping nearly $600 million more in fraudulent refunds from being paid out to scammers as compared to the previous year.

Tax Professionals Targeted by New E-mail Scam

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued an urgent warning to tax professionals regarding yet another e-mail scam, this time involving a fake website related to the IRS' e-Services accounts.

Major Advance to End IRS Tax Scams - 61 Indicted on $50 Million Conspiracy

The Department of Justice unsealed an indictment today charging 61 individuals and entities for their alleged involvement in a call center scam that has victimized tens of thousands of U.S. citizens and resulted in losses totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Twenty individuals were arrested in the U.S. and other individuals and entities in India were charged with conspiracy to commit identity theft, false personation of an officer of the United States, wire fraud, and money laundering.

Federal Taxpayers Avoiding Billions of Dollars in Backup Withholding

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released a report that found nearly $9 billion in backup withholding tax was not withheld for 2013 information returns with missing or incorrect taxpayer identification numbers. The IRS should have received nearly $5 billion in backup withholding for payments to these unidentified payees, but payers withheld only $1 million.

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