Back in June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. that reversed Quill's requirement for physical presence to establish sales tax nexus for out-of-state businesses. Individual states are now hurrying to decide upon economic or transactional thresholds to govern who should be collecting and paying over sales tax concerning primarily e-commerce sales.
Federal and California state tax agencies have offered relief to certain taxpayers affected by the 2018 wildfires in Northern California. The Internal Revenue Service will postpone specific deadlines, waive penalties, and provide other relief as detailed here. The California Franchise Tax Board's list of qualified disasters and instructions for claiming relief can be found at this link. The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (formerly the BOE) is also offering relief for businesses impacted by the fires, including extensions to file returns and relief from certain penalties or interest. Details on the specific CDTFA programs offering relief, and instructions for requesting relief, are available here.
A taxpayer recently found out the hard way that if something sounds too good to be true, get a second opinion. His San Francisco-based CPA helped him prepare and file tax returns that failed to report over $18 million in income between December 2007 and September 2013, which resulted in $4.7 million of unpaid tax liabilities. In this case, both the taxpayer and his CPA were indicted; the taxpayer entered into a plea agreement and the tax preparer took his chances --- he lost.
The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) recently released an update about the 2018 tax filing season. As of May 31, 2018, the FTB had processed over 17 million personal income tax (PIT) and business entity (BE) returns. Ninety-one percent of personal returns and 85 percent of business returns were e-filed. The FTB issued 10.9 million personal refunds totaling $10 billion and 76,000 business refunds totaling $363 million, averaging $917 and $4,776, respectively. Over 1.3 million California Earned Income Tax Credits were claimed, and $292 million in credits/refunds were allowed.
The long-anticipated case Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, was issued on April 30, 2018. The case dealt with whether delivery drivers classified as independent contractors were misclassified as such under California Industrial Wage Commission Wage Order No. 9-2001.
The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) recently published its updated list of California's top 500 tax debtors, comprising both individuals and businesses that now collectively owe the state more than $505 million in income tax. Since October 2007, this list is updated twice annually. Taxpayers who receive notice of the FTB's intent to include them on the list and then make arrangements to pay their tax debt are removed from the publication.
On April 18, 2018, Ana Bajo, a California resident, pleaded guilty in the Northern District of California to conspiring to file fraudulent claims for more than $9.7 million in refunds by obtaining the personal information of others and filing more than 2,300 fraudulent income tax returns with her co-conspirators. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) paid over more than $7.5 million as a result of the scheme. Bajo now faces a maximum of ten years in prison, plus supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties. Her sentencing is scheduled for September 26, 2018.
On March 5, 2018, a former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employee, Pamela Pringle, was sentenced in the Eastern District of California for "making opportunities for persons to defraud the United States and for making and subscribing false returns." While employed by the IRS, Pringle prepared and filed income tax returns for other individuals that included false deductions, and in several years she also filed fraudulent tax returns for herself, claiming deductions to which she was not entitled. Pringle entered a guilty plea in November 2017 and will spend 5 months in prison, then 36 months under supervised release, including 5 months of home confinement; she was also ordered to pay $56,857 in restitution.
The new California Office of Tax Appeals (OTA) just released its first seven opinions. All seven opinions were decided in the favor of the Franchise Tax Board (FTB); none of the taxpayer-appellants opted for representation by an attorney, although three appellants were represented by an Enrolled Agent or Certified Public Accountant. The first appeals heard by the OTA covered a variety of issues, including penalty and interest assessments, filing status, and ridesharing credits. Six of the opinions are confirmed as "nonprecedential," and one opinion is pending precedential status. To read the opinions in full, click here: https://ota.ca.gov/opinions/
Californians will be able to vote on two new legislative measures related to taxes on the June 5, 2018 Statewide Direct Primary Election ballot.