Tax Lawyers Minneapolis: Preparing for Initial Consultation I (for Individuals)

A little disclaimer first: this article is concerned only with individuals contacting Minneapolis tax lawyers for a consultation. I will discuss preparation of business owners for an initial tax consultation in another article.

There are two sides to your preparation for the initial consultation with your Minneapolis tax lawyer. First, the information you need to supply to your tax attorney. Second, the questions you want to ask your tax lawyer. This essay deals with the first part of the preparation.

It is important to understand that your Minneapolis tax attorney will initially have to rely almost exclusively on the information that you supply to him. Moreover, failure to supply the necessary information during initial consultation may lead to significant delays in your case and increase your legal expenses. This is why it is very important to come prepared to the initial interview.

Below, you will find a number of suggestions about how to prepare for the initial consultation with your Minneapolis tax attorney. These suggestions come from my personal experience when I had to advice my clients on what to bring with them to the interview in order to maximize the efficiency of the case and my ability to provide sound tax advice.

The first step is to ask your tax attorney about what you should bring with you. The most common response is that you should bring all documents that are related to your case. Usually, however, I would list specific documents which are customary in a given tax situation. Unfortunately, I have found that a lot of clients, for various reasons, are not willing to bring many of these documents but only what they think a Minneapolis tax lawyer needs. Later on, this usually leads to repetitive documentary requests by a tax attorney from his clients.

“Everything related to the case” usually includes all official documents, accounting documents, e-mails, letters, corporate tax documents, et cetera. Sometimes, this would mean divulging sensitive financial information. For example, if you have foreign bank accounts and you are retaining your attorney to help resolve an FBAR issue, then these bank accounts will need to be submitted to your tax lawyer as well.

The next step is for you to review what documents you actually have. The exact list of documents may differ depending on your particular situation; however, here is a non-exclusive list of the most usual documents you need to bring to your tax attorney:

a) Tax returns: copies of your tax returns, usually going back three tax years. Your tax attorney, however, may advise you to bring tax returns for the past six years in certain situation;
b) Supporting documentation for tax returns (including deductions and credits): usually, you do not have to provide it for the initial interview unless this is relevant to your case (for example, you are contacting a tax attorney to file a tax return);
c) Housing documents: this issue usually comes up with respect to claiming first-time homebuyer tax credit or for tax planning purposes.
d) IRS correspondence: all relevant IRS correspondence should be provided to your tax lawyer;
e) Your correspondence: letters, e-mails, faxes, et cetera if they are relevant to your case;
f) Business/Investment documentation: I discuss preparation for a business-related tax consultation in another article, but it is important to mention here that if your individual tax issue is related to your business or investment activities, then you should bring relevant business documents (incorporation documents, business structure documentation, business tax I.D. number, et cetera);
g) Any other documents relevant to your case: if there is anything else that you think is relevant to your case, then bring it with you. I once had a client who brought carton boxes with unique ID numbers on them.

The third step is to find out what information you are missing. Compare the information you obtained from the second step with the list of documents your attorney provided and what you think is relevant to the case. Identify the documents that are missing and try to obtain the missing information before meeting with your tax attorney. If this is not possible, then let your attorney know during the consultation what information you are missing and whether you will be able to find it after the meeting.

Once you go through these three steps, the first part of the your preparation for the initial tax consultation is finished. I will discuss the second part of your preparation in the next article.

Remember, Sherayzen Law Office can help you with your tax issues, whether you want to check your tax return, negotiate with the IRS, or engage in complex tax planning.

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

Tax Lawyers Minneapolis | 2011 Reduction in Social Security Payroll Taxes

One of the most important provisions of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (the “Act”), which was signed into law on December 17, 2010, deals with Social Security tax reduction for employees.

The Act reduces the employee’s share of Social Security tax from 6.2% to 4.2% for wages earned in 2011 up to $106,800. The employer’s share of Social Security tax remains at 6.2%. The Act makes no changes to the Medicare portion of payroll taxes, which remains at 1.45% for each of the employee and employer on all wage income.

Individuals who are self-employed will also benefit from the Act’s Social Security tax reduction. Self-employed individuals would pay Social Security tax at a 10.4% rate on self-employment income up to $106,800. However, self-employed individuals would continue to calculate their deduction for employment taxes without regard to the temporary rate reduction.

If you have tax questions or need tax representation, contact Sherayzen Law Office to discuss your case with an experienced Minneapolis tax lawyer.

Tax Rates on Capital Gains and Qualified Dividends through 2012

Pursuant to the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (the “Act”), which was singed into law on December 17, 2010, the tax cuts on capital gains and qualified dividends have been extended through the tax year 2012.

Generally, long-term capital gains of individuals will be taxed at a maximum rate of 15% through the tax year 2012.  The same is true for the qualified dividends received by individuals; this means that these dividends will be taxed at the same rates as long-term capital gains through the tax year 2012 (rather than being taxed as part of a taxpayer’s ordinary income at the relevant tax bracket).

Tax Lawyers Minneapolis | Tax Rates for Individual Taxpayers through 2012

The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (the “Act”) was singed into law on December 17, 2010. Prior to the Act, the previous tax cuts were scheduled to expire and the marginal federal income tax rates for individuals were scheduled to return to 15%, 28%, 31%, 36% and 39.6%.  Under the Act, however, the marginal federal income tax rates for individuals will remain at the 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33% and 35% graduated rates through the tax year 2012.

Keep in mind that the Act does not in any way alter the taxes that were enacted as part of the recent health care reform, such as 0.9% tax on wage income and 3.8% tax on investment income for higher-income individuals.  These taxes will be imposed in 2013.

IRS Interest Rates: 4th Quarter of 2010

On August 19, 2010, the IRS announced that interest rates for the calendar quarter beginning October 1, 2010, will remain the same as follows:

1. Individual underpayment and overpayment: 4%;
2. Corporate overpayment: 3%
3. Large corporate underpayment: 6%
4. Portion of corporate overpayment exceeding $10,000: 1.5%

The interest rate is determined on a quarterly basis and compounds daily. For taxpayers other than corporations, the overpayment and underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points. Generally, in the case of a corporation, the underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points and the overpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 2 percentage points. The rate for large corporate underpayments is the federal short-term rate plus 5 percentage points. The rate on the portion of a corporate overpayment of tax exceeding $10,000 for a taxable period is the federal short-term rate plus one-half of a percentage point.

Interest factors for daily compound interest for annual rates of 1.5 percent, 3 percent, 4 percent, and 6 percent are published in Tables 8, 11, 13, and 17 of Rev. Proc. 95-17, 1995-1 C.B. 556, 562, 565, 567, and 571.