IRS Audit Lawyers

High Income Non-Filer IRS Compliance Campaign Update: Notice CP-59 With International Tax Compliance Focus

On February 29, 2024, the IRS announced a major update to one of its compliance campaigns that focuses on high income non-filer taxpayers.  Let’s discuss this major update to the High Income Non-filer IRS Campaign in more detail.

High Income Non-Filer IRS Campaign: Background Information

As part of its extensive tax enforcement planning in the mid-2010s, the IRS decided to restructure LB&I in a way that would focus the division on issue-based examinations and compliance campaign processes. The idea was to let LB&I itself decide which compliance issues presented the most risk and required a response in the form of one or multiple treatment streams to achieve compliance objectives. The IRS came to the conclusion that this was the most efficient approach that assured the best use of IRS knowledge and appropriately deployed the right resources to address specific noncompliance issues.

The first thirteen campaigns were announced by LB&I on January 13, 2017. Since then, there have been numerous campaigns announced by the IRS with a focus on various priority topics. The most recent wave (during the years 2023 and 2024) of the IRS campaigns is due to the additional funding that the Congress allocated to the IRS as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.

This very much applies to High Income Non-Filer Campaign. Without adequate resources, the IRS non-filer program has only run sporadically since 2016 due to severe budget and staff limitations that did not allow to properly work on these cases. With the new Inflation Reduction Act funding available, the IRS has now upgraded and essentially re-launched this campaign.

High Income Non-Filer IRS Campaign: Focus on US international Tax Compliance

Even if you did not read the description of the IRS campaign, the very fact that the Director of the Withholding & International Individual Compliance Practice Area is in charge of this campaign gives away the focus on US international tax compliance.  Moreover, the emphasis is on individuals with potentially high income, not businesses.   

Indeed, High Income Non-Filer IRS Campaign focuses on individuals who have not filed their US tax returns even though they have received high (including foreign-source) income in the past. The very first phrase of the campaign’s description states: “U.S. citizens and resident aliens are subject to tax on worldwide income”.  The campaign, however, applies to all high-income non-filers, not just those who did not report their foreign income.

High Income Non-Filer IRS Campaign: IRS Targets 125,000 Noncompliant Taxpayers

It is very interesting to note that this campaign begins with direct targeting of known individuals — the IRS already identified 125,000 taxpayers that the agency wishes to contact.  In other words, this is a well-planned campaign with the IRS already knowing who it wants to target.

Where did the IRS get the information about these taxpayers? Mostly, IRS has received third-party information – such as through Forms W-2 and 1099s – indicating these people received high income. Additional information the IRS received from foreign banks and other sources.

High Income Non-Filer IRS Campaign: CP-59 Notice

The IRS has launched the new compliance effort with the IRS CP-59 Notice letters.  The letters already started to go out focusing on taxpayers who have not filed their tax returns since 2017. The mailings include more than 25,000 notices to taxpayers with more than $1 million in income and over 100,000 notices to taxpayers with incomes between $400,000 and $1 million between tax years 2017 and 2021.

Not all letters will go out at the same time. The IRS plans to mail anywhere between 20,000 to 40,000 letters each week, beginning with the filers in the highest-income categories. The IRS noted that some of these non-filers have multiple years included in the case count so the number of taxpayers receiving letters will be smaller than the actual number of notices going out.

High Income Non-Filer IRS Campaign: FBAR Noncompliance Is Also Targeted

This campaign has one very unpleasant side-effect.  In many cases, behind income tax noncompliance, there are likely unreported foreign accounts that needed to be disclosed on FBARs and perhaps even Form 8938. This circumstance can turn the case into something a lot more serious beyond just income tax noncompliance.

High Income Non-Filer IRS Campaign: What to Do If You Receive CP-59 Notice

The first thing to do is not to panic and not to procrastinate. You should take the next step very fast in order to avoid follow-up notices and a full audit with potentially severe consequences.

The second step is to contact immediately Sherayzen Law Office for professional help, especially if your noncompliance involves large amounts of income and US international information returns, such as FBAR or Form 8938. We will analyze the facts of your case, estimate your potential IRS penalty exposure and advise on the way to move forward to deal with the situation.

High Income Non-Filer IRS Campaign: IRS Actions Escalate If Tax Returns Are Not Filed

Taxpayers who fail to respond to the IRS notices will first receive additional notices.  If still no response, the IRS enforcement efforts will escalate to an audit, filing of an unfavorable Substitute for Return (SFR) (without any proper deductions or exemptions), collection actions, a petition to Tax Court and even potentially criminal prosecution.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office if Your Receive Notice CP-59 Concerning Unfiled Returns

If you are a taxpayer who has not filed his tax returns and you receive an IRS Notice CP-59, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help.  We have helped high-net-worth individuals with their US domestic and US international tax compliance as well as audits of their US tax returns. We can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

IRS Corporate Jet Audits Campaign | MN IRS Audit Tax Lawyer

On February 21, 2024, the IRS announced that it will begin dozens of audits of business aircraft usage as part of a new tax enforcement campaign. In this short article, I will discuss these new IRS corporate jet audits in more detail.

IRS Corporate Jet Audits: Focus on Personal Use of High-Net Individuals

The IRS announced that it will be auditing the usage of corporate aircraft for personal purposes.  The chief revenue agency of the United States was blunt in identifying who it is targeting — high-net individuals. The audits will focus on aircraft usage by large corporations, large partnerships and high-income taxpayers and whether, for tax purposes, the use of jets is being properly allocated between business and personal reasons.

Officers, executives, other employees, shareholders and partners often use business aircraft for both business and personal reasons. In general, the Internal Revenue Code allows a business deduction for expenses of maintaining an asset, such as a corporate jet, as long as the company uses the asset for a business purpose. However, the company must allocate use of a company aircraft between business use and personal use. This is a complex area of tax law, and record-keeping can be challenging.

Hence, for someone such as an executive using the company jet for personal travel, the amount of personal usage impacts eligibility for certain business deductions. Use of the company jet for personal travel typically results in income inclusion by the individual using the jet for personal travel and could also impact the business’ eligibility to deduct costs related to the personal travel.

The number of audits related to aircraft usage could increase in the future following initial results and as the IRS continues hiring additional examiners.

IRS Corporate Jet Audits: Funding and Strategies

The IRS was quick to identify  the Inflation Reduction Act as the source of funding of this new IRS campaign. The IRS will be using advanced analytics and resources from the Inflation Reduction Act to more closely examine this area. At the same time, the agency complained that, in the past, it did not have the resources to properly audit this area due to low resources.

“During tax season, millions of people are doing the right thing by filing and paying their taxes, and they should have confidence that everyone is also following the law,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “Personal use of corporate jets and other aircraft by executives and others have tax implications, and it’s a complex area where IRS work has been stretched thin. With expanded resources, IRS work in this area will take off. These aircraft audits will help ensure high-income groups aren’t flying under the radar with their tax responsibilities.”

The examination of corporate jet usage is part of the IRS Large Business and International division’s “campaign” program. Campaigns apply different compliance streams to help address areas with a high risk of non-compliance. These efforts include issue-focused examinations, taxpayer outreach and education, tax form changes and focusing on particular issues that present a high risk of noncompliance.

IRS Corporate Jet Audits: Implications for Broader IRS Tax Enforcement

The IRS corporate jet audits are just part of a larger effort of the IRS to step up tax enforcement worldwide. Prior to the Inflation Reduction Act, more than a decade of budget cuts prevented the IRS from keeping pace with the increasingly complicated set of tools that the wealthiest taxpayers use to avoid taxes. The IRS is now taking swift and aggressive action to close this gap with the focus on high-net-worth individuals.

“The IRS continues to increase scrutiny on high-income taxpayers as we work to reverse the historic low audit rates and limited focus that the wealthiest individuals and organizations faced in the years that predated the Inflation Reduction Act,” Werfel said. “We are adding staff and technology to ensure that the taxpayers with the highest income, including partnerships, large corporations and millionaires and billionaires, pay what is legally owed under federal law. The IRS will have more announcements to make in this important area.”

Of course, one of the most important areas of the increased IRS tax enforcement is US international tax compliance. This involves compliance with foreign income reporting, FBARs and various other information returns (Forms 3520, 3520-A, 5471, 8865, 8938, et cetera).

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for IRS Audits of Your US International Tax Compliance

If the IRS is auditing your US international tax compliance, including foreign income and foreign asset reporting, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help as soon as possible. We have helped taxpayers around the world with the IRS international tax audits. We can help you!

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

TAS Significant Hardship Definition | International Tax Lawyer & Attorney

Sometimes, a taxpayer may find himself in a situation where his problem cannot be resolved through normal IRS channels. In this case, one of the options is to secure the help of the Taxpayer Advocate Service (“TAS”). TAS can issue a Taxpayer Assistance Order (TAO) to require the IRS to desist from a certain action that causes the taxpayer to suffer or about to suffer a significant hardship. At this point a logical question arises: what does “significant hardship” mean in this context? In this article, I will try to answer this question and introduce the readers to the Significant Hardship definition.

Significant Hardship Definition: Background Information

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization within the IRS, led by the National Taxpayer Advocate (“NTA”). Each state has at least one Local Taxpayer Advocate (“LTA”), who is independent of the local IRS office and reports directly to the NTA.

 TAS helps individual and business taxpayers resolve problems with the IRS by:

  • • Ensuring that taxpayer problems not resolved through normal IRS channels are promptly and impartially handled;
  • • Assisting taxpayers who are facing hardships; identifying issues that impact taxpayer rights, increase taxpayer burden or otherwise create problems for taxpayers, and bringing these issues to the attention of IRS management; and
  • • Recommending administrative and legislative changes through the National Taxpayer Advocate’s Annual Report to Congress.

Pursuant to §7811(a)7803(c); Reg. §301.7811-1(a)(1), NTA has the authority to issue TAO when the taxpayer is suffering or is about to suffer a significant hardship as a result of the manner in the administration of tax laws, including action or inaction on the part of the IRS. TAO may have broad implications, including obligating the IRS to release a levy, stop a collection action and even stop an audit.

Significant Hardship Definition: General Definition

Treas. Reg. §301.7811-1(a)(4)(ii) defines “significant hardship” as “a serious privation caused or about to be caused to the taxpayer as the result of the particular manner in which the revenue laws are being administered by the IRS.”  Significant hardship includes situations in which “a system or procedure fails to operate as intended or fails to resolve the taxpayer’s problem or dispute with the IRS”.

The regulations state a non-exclusive list of four situations that the IRS classifies as significant hardship:

“(A) An immediate threat of adverse action; (B) A delay of more than 30 days in resolving taxpayer account problems; (C) The incurring by the taxpayer of significant costs (including fees for professional representation) if relief is not granted; or (D) Irreparable injury to, or a long-term adverse impact on, the taxpayer if relief is not granted.” Id.

It should be pointed out that even if the taxpayer’s situation falls within any of these four situations (or a similar situation that the NTA agrees that it constitutes significant hardship), it does not mean that NTA will automatically issue TAO.  Rather, NTA must still determine whether the facts and the law support such a dramatic relief for the taxpayer.

Let’s go over each of the four categories of significant hardship one by one.

Significant Hardship Definition: Immediate Threat of Adverse Action

The Treasury Regulations do not detail the definition of this category except to provide the following example of what “immediate threat of adverse action” means:

“The IRS serves a levy on A’s bank account. A needs the bank funds to pay for a medically necessary surgical procedure that is scheduled to take place in one week. If the levy is not released, A will lack the funds necessary to have the procedure. A is experiencing an immediate threat of adverse action.”

Significant Hardship Definition: Delay of More Than 30 Days

There are two situations when a delay of more than 30 days may result in significant hardship. First, “when a taxpayer does not receive a response by the date promised by the IRS.” Treas. Reg. §301.7811-1(a)(4)(iii). Second, “when the IRS has established a normal processing time for taking an action and the taxpayer experiences a delay of more than 30 days beyond the normal processing time.” Id.

The regulations give the following example of a delay causing significant hardship: “B files a Form 4506, ‘Request for a Copy of Tax Return.’ B does not receive the photocopy of the tax return after waiting more than 30 days beyond the normal time for processing.”

Significant Hardship Definition: Significant Costs

The Treasury Regulations again do not detail the definition of this category except to provide the following example of what “significant costs” means:

“The IRS sends XYZ, Inc. a notice requesting payment of the outstanding employment taxes and penalties owed by XYZ, Inc. The notice indicates that XYZ, Inc. has small employment tax balances with respect to 12 employment tax quarters totaling $10x. XYZ, Inc. provides documentation to the IRS that it contends shows that if all payments were applied to each quarter correctly, there would be no balance due. The IRS requests additional records and documentation. Because there are 12 quarters involved, to comply with this request XYZ, Inc. asserts that it will need to hire an accountant, who estimates he will charge at least $5x to organize all the records and provide a detailed analysis of how to apply the deposits and payments. XYZ, Inc. is facing significant costs.”  Treas. Reg. §301.7811-1(a)(4)(iv).

Significant Hardship Definition: Irreparable Injury

The IRS again fails to detail the definition of this category beyond providing an example of an “irreparable injury”:

“D has arranged with a bank to refinance his mortgage to lower his monthly payment. D is unable to make the current monthly payment. Unless the monthly payment amount is lowered, D will lose his residence to foreclosure. The IRS refuses to subordinate the Federal tax lien, as permitted by section 6325(d), or discharge the property subject to the lien, as permitted by section 6325(b). As a result, the bank will not allow D to refinance. D is facing an irreparable injury if relief is not granted.” Id.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with IRS Audits

If the IRS has informed you that your federal tax returns are subject to an audit and you have foreign assets/foreign income, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional help.  We are a team of dedicated tax professionals, headed by an international tax attorney Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, with extensive experience in IRS audits of US taxpayers with foreign assets. We can help you!

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Internal Revenue Manual: Introduction | IRS Audit Lawyer St Paul

Internal Revenue Manual:  Description & Purpose

Internal Revenue Manual (“IRM”) is the primary, official source of IRS instructions to staff that relate to the administration and operation of the IRS. The rules set in the IRM are meant to provide guidance to the IRS employees (including managers) in their daily work life. The IRM is available on the IRS’ website

From time to time, the IRS also issues interim guidance regarding policy or procedure changes; eventually the IRS would modify IRM to reflect these changes.

Internal Revenue Manual:  Difference Between IRM, IRS Policy Statements and Delegation Orders

One should not confuse IRM with two other types of documents, IRS Policy Statements and Delegation Orders.  While the IRS publishes IRS Policy Statements and Delegation Orders in IRM 1.2.1, et. seq., they are not the same things.

The IRS Policy Statements are basically IRS policies that govern and guide IRS employees in the administration of the IRS itself. The Policy Statements do not contain IRS interpretation of substantive tax provisions or directors to the taxpayers; these are policies just for the IRS staff. Later, the IRS officials would use the Policy Statements to prepare procedures and instructions as part of IRM.

The IRS publishes Delegation Orders in  IRM.12.2, et. seq.. Delegation Orders specify which IRS officials have the authority to approve policies, procedures, documents and actions.

Internal Revenue Manual: Use of IRM

The key issue for US taxpayers is whether they can rely on IRM to invalidate an action of an IRS employee? In other words, if an IRS employee fails to comply with IRS in what otherwise looks like a valid course of action, can the taxpayer challenge the action itself in court?

Generally, the answer is “no”. IRM contains the procedures that govern the internal affairs of the IRS, but these procedures do not have the force of law.  In other words, IRM is suggestive, not mandatory. There is a large array of cases to support this conclusion.  For example, Ward v. Commissioner, 784 F.2d 1424 (9th Cir. 1986) and  Einhorn v. DeWitt, 618 F.2d 347 (5th Cir. 1980) both stated that the IRS’ failure to follow the IRM procedural rules does not invalidate IRS regulations.

In other words, IRM is not binding on the IRS. Its primary use is to be a source of information for the IRS staff and US taxpayers to understand the IRS procedures and and guidelines.  Of course, while nonbinding, the taxpayers can still use IRM to support their arguments and convince an IRS agent to change his position.  This is true not only for US domestic law, but also for US international tax law.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional International Tax Help

Sherayzen Law Office is a leader in US international tax compliance, including dealing with the IRS as part of IRS audits.  We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world to bring their tax affairs in full compliance with US tax law, and we can help you!  

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

2024 SDOP Audit | Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures Lawyer

An increasing number of submissions under the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (SDOP) has been subject to an IRS audit; this trend will undoubtedly continue in 2024. In this article, I will explain what an 2024 SDOP Audit is and what a taxpayer should expect during the Audit.

2024 SDOP Audit: Background Information on Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures

Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures is a voluntary disclosure option offered by the IRS since June of 2014 to noncompliant US taxpayers to settle their past tax noncompliance concerning foreign assets and foreign income at a reduced penalty rate. In order to participate in SDOP, a taxpayer must meet various eligibility requirements. The most important of these eligibility requirements is non-willfulness of prior noncompliance.

SDOP is likely to be the most convenient and the least expensive voluntary disclosure option for taxpayers who are not eligible for Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures and whose prior tax noncompliance was non-willful. 

2024 SDOP Audit: Why SDOP Disclosures Are Subject to IRS Audits

SDOP audits originate within the very nature of SDOP.  SDOP voluntary disclosures have certain eligibility requirements.  Once the disclosures are submitted, the IRS does not immediately subject them to an immediate comprehensive review of whether all eligibility requirements are met.  There is a review process, but initially it focuses on whether the formalities of the SDOP were met.

This is very different from the immediate comprehensive audit-like review of all items as part of the voluntary disclosure process that form part of some other programs, such as prior OVDPs (Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program) or even current IRS Voluntary Disclosure Practice (VDP). These voluntary disclosure options usually also require the signing of Form 906, the Closing Agreement. SDOP does not have that final stage of signing Form 906.

This means that, if a suspicion arises concerning whether a taxpayer met the SDOP eligibility requirements, the only way for the IRS to resolve it is to audit the entire disclosure, particularly on the issue of non-willfulness. As part of the SDOP process, the IRS reserves the right to audit any SDOP submission at any point within three years after the submission of the original SDOP voluntary disclosure package.

2024 SDOP Audit: Process

The exact process of a Streamlined Submission Audit varies from case to case, but all of such audits have a similar format: initial letter with request for a meeting, meeting with an interview, review of submitted documents and (very likely) additional requests for information, interview of other involved individuals (such as a tax preparer) and, finally, the results of an audit are provided by the IRS to taxpayer(s) and/or the representative indicated on Form 2848.

In other words, your 2024 SDOP Audit would commence in a way very similar to a regular IRS audit: a letter is sent to taxpayers and (if there is a Form 2848 on file) to their representative. The letter explains that the IRS decided to examine certain tax returns (usually all three years of amended tax returns) and asks for submission of all documentation and work papers that were used to prepare the amended returns. Additionally, the letter requests that the taxpayers’ representative (or taxpayers if not represented) contact the IRS agent in charge of the audit to schedule the initial meeting.

During the initial meeting, the IRS agent will review (at least to make sure he or she has what is needed) the documents supplied. In larger cases, the IRS will need a lot more time to later examine all of the submitted documents and see if additional documents are needed. If a case is very small, it is possible for an agent to cover everything in the first meeting, but it is very rare.

Also, during an initial meeting, there is going to be an interview of the taxpayer(s). I will discuss the interview separately in a different article.

Once the review of the initial package of documents is concluded, it is very likely that the IRS agent will have questions and additional document requests. The questions may be answered by the taxpayers’ attorney during a separate meeting with the agent; smaller questions may be settled over the phone.

If additional documentation is needed, an IRS agent will send out an additional request to taxpayers and/or their attorney. The answer will most likely need to be provided in writing (and it is actually better to state your position for the record).

Once the IRS completes its interview of other involved parties and reviews all evidence, it will make its decision and submit the results of the audit to the taxpayers and their tax attorney in writing. The taxpayers’ attorney will need to build a strategy with respect to the taxpayers’ response to the audit results depending on whether the taxpayers agree or disagree with the results of the audit.

Differences Between Your 2024 SDOP Audit and Regular IRS Audit

At first, it may seem that there are no big differences between a regular IRS audit and an SDOP audit. While procedurally this may be correct, substantively it is not.

The greatest difference between the two types of IRS audits is the subject-matter involved. While a regular IRS audit will concentrate on the tax returns only, a Streamlined Submission Audit will involve everything: amended tax returnsFBARs, other information returns and, most importantly, Non-Willfulness Certification. In other words, a Streamlined Submission Audit will focus not only on whether the tax forms are correct, but also on whether the taxpayer was actually non-willful with respect to his prior tax noncompliance.

This difference in the subject-matter examination will carry over to other aspects of a Streamlined Submission Audit: the taxpayers’ interview will focus on their non-willfulness arguments, third-party interviews of original tax preparers become a regular feature (this is very different from a regular IRS audit when tax preparers may never be interviewed), and the final IRS results must necessarily make a decision on whether to challenge the taxpayers’ non-willfulness arguments.

Failure by a taxpayer to sustain his non-willfulness arguments may result in a disaster for the taxpayer with a potential referral to the Tax Division of the US Department of Justice for a criminal investigation.

This is why it is so important for a taxpayer subject to an SDOP Audit to retain the services of an experienced international tax lawyer to handle the audit professionally.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Your 2024 SDOP Audit 

If your submission under the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures is being audited by the IRS, contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Our international tax law firm is highly experienced in offshore voluntary disclosures (SDOP, SFOP, “noisy disclosures”, “quiet disclosures”, et cetera) and the IRS audits of voluntary disclosures, including the audits of SDOP submissions.

 We can Help You during Your IRS Audit!  Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!