tax attorneys minneapolis

Preparing Individual Tax Returns: Top Five Errors

Before filing your tax return, you should review it to make sure it is correct and complete. Here are the five most common errors on an individual tax return:

1. Incorrect or missing Social Security numbers.
2. Incorrect tax entered based on taxable income and filing status.
3. Withholding and/or estimated tax payments entered on the wrong line.
4. Math errors in addition and subtraction.
5. Computation errors in figuring out the taxable income, tax credits, standard deduction for age sixty-five or over or blind.

These are just few of the most common errors on a tax return – there are many more possible. The strong possibility of committing these errors make is imperative to review the entire tax return prior to filing it with the IRS. Remember, any errors on a tax return may result in processing delays and hold up any refund you may be entitled to.

Making Work Pay Credit

Making Work Pay Tax Credit is a refundable tax credit of available to many taxpayers in the tax year 2010.  The credit is up to $400 for individuals and up to $800 for married taxpayers filing joint returns.  Taxpayers who file Form 1040 and 1040A must use Schedule M to figure out their Making Work Pay Tax Credit (in particular, whether they have already received the full credit in their paychecks).  Taxpayers who file Form 1040-EZ should use the worksheet for Line 8 on the back of the 1040-EZ to figure their Making Work Pay Credit.

There is an income limitation on claiming the tax credit.  If a taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income is or exceeds $95,000 (for individuals) or $190,000 (if married filing jointly), then he is not eligible to take the credit.

Additional limitations also exist.  In particular, the credit is not available for a taxpayer: who is claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return, has not a valid social security number, or who is a nonresident alien.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office to discuss your case with an experienced Minneapolis tax attorney!

Eugene Sherayzen re-appointed to the Publications Committee of the MSBA

On June 30, 2010, Eugene Sherayzen, Esq., was re-appointed for the second time to the Minnesota State Bar Association Publications Committee. The Committee is responsible for overseeing the budget and publication of the most important Minnesota legal journal, “Bench & Bar”.

Fee Agreement Arrangements with Tax Lawyers in Minneapolis: 5 Most Important Issues

In this article, I will discuss five most important issues that you need to know before you sign a fee agreement with tax lawyers in Minneapolis.

1. How is the lawyer’s fee paid? There are three main models of payment that lawyers use: hourly fee, contingency fee, and flat fee. The hourly fee is the most common form of tax lawyer compensation and it is fairly simple – the tax attorney is paid only based on the time he spends on the case. If you’re paying your tax lawyer by the hour, the agreement should set out the hourly rates of the tax attorney and anyone else in this attorney’s office who might work on the case. The contingency fee arrangement, where the tax attorney takes a percentage of the amount the client wins at the end of the case, is almost never used by tax attorneys in Minneapolis. In the unlikely case that this latter type of fee arrangement is used, the most important issue to understand is whether the tax lawyer deducts the costs and expenses from the amount won before or after you pay the lawyer’s percentage. Obviously, you will pay more in attorney fees if your tax lawyer deducts the litigation costs based on the latter scenario (i.e. after you pay the lawyer’s fee). Finally, in a flat fee arrangement, you pay an agreed-upon amount of money for a project. For example, you pay $3,000 to your tax attorney to file delinquent FBARs (Reports on Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts) for the past five years. While a flat fee arrangement is possible in a small project, it is generally disliked by tax lawyers in Minneapolis because it often lacks the necessary flexibility to account for the client’s individual legal situation. Usually, some sort of an additional payment arrangement is built into such fee agreements to make sure that the balance between the client’s legal needs and the tax attorney’s fees is maintained.

Remember, usually, you will have to pay out-of-pocket expenses (e.g. long-distance calls, mailing costs, photocopying fees, lodging, etc.) and litigation costs (such as court filing fees) in addition to your tax lawyer’s fees.

2. Does the agreement include the amount of the retainer? Most tax lawyers in Minneapolis require their client to pay a retainer. Retainer can mean two different fee arrangements. First, retainer may be the amount of money a client pays to guarantee a tax attorney’s commitment to the case. Under this arrangement, the retainer is not a form of an advance payment for future work, but a non-refundable deposit to secure the lawyer’s availability. Second, a retainer is simply the amount of money a tax attorney asks his client to pay in advance. In this scenario, the lawyer usually deposits the retainer in a client trust account and withdraws money from it for the work completed according to the fee agreement. The fee agreement should specify the amount of the retainer and when the lawyer can withdraw money form the client trust account (usually, on a monthly basis).

3. How often will you be billed? Most tax attorneys in Minneapolis bill their clients on a monthly basis. Sometimes, however, when the project is not large, the fee agreement will specify that you will be billed upon completion of the case. In a flat-fee scenario, it is likely that the client will be obligated to pay either a half or even the whole amount immediately as a retainer. It is wise for a client to insist in paying some part of the fee upon completion of the case to retain a degree of control over the case completion.

4. What is the scope of the tax attorney’s representation? Most tax lawyers in Minneapolis will insist on defining their obligations in the fee agreement. The most important issue here is to state what the tax attorney is hired for without defining it either too narrowly or too broadly. Usually, a fee agreement should specify that a new contract should be signed if you decide to hire this tax lawyer to handle other legal matters.

If you are hiring a large or a mid-size law firm, beware that the partners in a law firm often delegate some or all of their obligations to their associates or even their staff. While the partners retain full responsibility for the case, there is a danger that important parts of it may be delegated to far less experienced associates. Besides the potential quality issues, there is also a concern that you would be paying a large hourly fee for a first-year associate’s work. It is important to insist that the fee agreement specifies what, if any, type of work is being delegated to the associates, the corresponding billing rate of each associate involved, and who carries the responsibility for the whole case.

5. Who controls what decisions? Whether this information should be included in the fee agreement really depends on a case and on an attorney. Generally, tax attorneys in Minneapolis let their clients make the important decisions that affect the outcome of the case (such as: acceptance or rejection of the IRS settlement offer, commencement of a lawsuit, business decisions, et cetera). All of the decisions with respect to the legal issues (such as: where to file a lawsuit, what motions should be filed, what negotiation tactics should be employed, how to structure a business transaction from a tax perspective, etc.) are usually taken by the tax lawyers. If there are any changes to this arrangement (for example, you want your lawyer to make certain decisions with the respect to the outcome of the case), you should insist that these modifications be reflected in the fee agreement.

Generally, before you sign the fee agreement, tax lawyers in Minneapolis will discuss with you many more topics than what is covered in this article. The five issues explained here, however, are crucial to your understanding of how the tax relationship with your tax attorney will work. Before you sign the fee agreement with your tax lawyer, you should ask at least these five questions and make sure that the answers are complete and to your satisfaction.

Reporting Payments to Independent Contractors: Form 1099-MISC

Reporting Payments to Independent Contractors: Form 1099-MISC

If you hire an independent contractor to do work for your business, you may have to report to the IRS your payments to him by filing Form 1099-MISC (Miscellaneous Income) if the following four conditions are met:
1. The payee is not your employee;
2. The payment was for services in the course of your trade or business (including nonprofit organizations);
3. The payment is made to an individual, partnership, estate, or in some cases, a corporation; and
4. You made payments to the payee of at least $600 during the calendar year.

In order to comply with the first requirement, it is advisable (and in many industries – required) to ask your contract attorney to draft the Independent Contractor Agreement, the Independent Contractor Certification, and the appropriate Independent Contractor Statement. The Independent Contractor should read and sign all three of these documents before he commences his services to your business.

Non-employee compensation paid to nonresident aliens should be reported on Form 1042-S, (Foreign Persons’ U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding) where some withholding may be required., Form 1042 (Annual Withholding Tax Return for U.S. Source Income of Foreign Persons) must be filed if Form 1042-S is required.