TIGTA assesses how well IRS Examination function scrutinizes all open tax periods during audits [Audit Report No. 2009-30-034]:

IRS Examination function employees do not always appropriately inspect and examine prior and/or subsequent year tax returns when warranted, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) said in a new audit.

Auditors reviewed 68 statistical sample cases and found that 13 (or 21%) of the cases warranted scrutiny of additional returns but none were selected for examination. In 26 (or 38%) of the 68 cases, “there was no evidence that examiners inspected either the prior or subsequent year return to identify similar issues to the years under examination or if large, unusual, or questionable items existed that would warrant examination,” the audit said. Factors that might be considered include the comparative size of an expense, if the nature of the item is significant, the beneficial effect of the manner in which an item is reported, and missing items on the return.

Seventh Circuit classifies computer programmer as an independent contractor

Suskovich v. Anthem Health Plans of Virginia, Inc., (CA 7 1/22/2009) 103 AFTR 2d ¶2009-385

The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, affirming a district court, has concluded that a computer programmer was an independent contractor and not an employee.

IRS urged to issue pre-April 15 guidance for Madoff victims

An influential voice in politics, former New York State Governor George Pataki, has asked IRS to issue pre-Apr. 15 guidance for victims of the Ponzi scheme alleged to have been perpetrated by dealer and advisor Bernard Madoff and his firm. Separately, members of the Senate Banking Committee will ask IRS to set up a special unit for Madoff victims.

Guidance sought in three areas. In a Jan. 12, 2009, letter to Eric Solomon, Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, George E. Pataki, now a partner with Chadbourne & Parke, LLP, asked that IRS issue guidance before Apr. 15, 2009, on the following issues pertaining to Madoff victims:

While the new law tax changes in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 were the most significant developments in the final quarter of 2008, many other tax developments may affect you, your family, and your livelihood. These other key developments in the final quarter of 2008 are summarized below. Please call us for more information about any of these developments and what steps you should implement to take advantage of favorable developments and to minimize the impact of those that are unfavorable.

New law waives required minimum distributions (RMDs) for calendar year 2009. A new law enacted in late 2008 provides that retirement plan account participants, IRA owners, and their beneficiaries do not have to take RMDs for 2009. Thus, taxpayers who can take advantage of this change won’t be forced to sell stock or mutual fund shares held in retirement accounts when their value is exceptionally depressed. This change helps retired taxpayers who do not need to rely on their RMDs for living expenses. By not making the RMD for 2009 (or withdrawing less than the RMD) from their qualified plan accounts and/or IRAs, they will wind up with less taxable income for 2009, and, possibly, avoid (or mitigate the effect of) AGI-based phaseouts of tax breaks. They will also have more tax-sheltered amounts to leave to their beneficiaries. There’s no need to show that a retirement plan account or IRA is “in distress” because of stock market conditions in order to qualify for the 2009 RMD suspension. Thus, for example, the RMD suspension applies equally to IRAs invested entirely in FDIC-insured bank-CDs as well as to IRAs invested in depressed-in-value stocks or mutual funds. The suspension of RMDs for 2009 doesn’t help those older taxpayers who must make regular withdrawals (sometimes in excess of the RMD) from their retirement plan accounts and IRAs in order to get by each month.

New law requires qualified plans to offer post-2009 rollover option for nonspouse beneficiaries. A provision in late 2008 legislation requires employer sponsored qualified retirement plans to offer nonspouse beneficiaries the opportunity to roll over an inherited plan account balance to an IRA set up to receive the rollover on the nonspouse beneficiary’s behalf. This rule will become effective for plan years beginning after 2009. Until then, under current rules, qualified plans may, but are not required to, offer nonspouse beneficiaries this rollover option. The rollover option will give much-needed flexibility to those who inherit retirement plan accounts from someone other than their spouse, such as a parent, an uncle, or a same-sex partner. For a long time, nonspouse beneficiaries of IRAs have had access to a rollover-type option that IRS has sanctioned. While nonspouse beneficiaries can’t treat an inherited IRA as their own, they can make trustee-to-trustee transfers to another IRA if the ownership of the new IRA is set up in the same way as the ownership of the old IRA, that is, in the name of the decedent for the benefit of the IRA beneficiary.

IRS Speeds Lien Relief for Homeowners Trying to Refinance, or Sell their house

Contact Mike Habib, EA to release your IRS Federal Tax lien

The Internal Revenue Service announced an expedited process that will make it easier for financially distressed homeowners to avoid having a federal tax lien block refinancing of mortgages or the sale of a home.

As you can see from the article below, the IRS tax code is getting more complicated than ever. Further, the IRS‘s reach of audits has no limits.

If you have a tax problem, can not pay your tax bill or is facing an IRS tax audit contact us now.

Tax problem complicates Geithner’s confirmation process

As reported by the Los Angeles Times

Many senators want a better explanation from Obama’s would-be Treasury secretary about past underpayments. His hearing is delayed till after the inauguration.

As you start to organize your records for your 2009 tax preparation, I thought you might find this brief rundown of 2009 tax changes useful.

* ADOPTION TAX CREDIT increases to $12,150 for adoption of an eligible child.

* SECTION 179 maximum deduction decreases to $133,000. Phase-out threshold is $530,000. (It is generally expected that a stimulus law in early 2009 will increase these amounts to the 2008 levels of $250,000 and $800,000.)