IRS Tax Problem

IRS Did Not Fail to Properly Credit Checks Against Married Couple’s Tax Liability (Kovacevich, TCM)

The IRS properly credited five checks toward the outstanding tax liability of a law firm and not the individual tax liability of an attorney and his wife. For the tax year at issue, the taxpayer/husband was improperly characterized as an independent contractor rather than an employee of his law firm and the IRS determined that the couple failed to report income and improperly claimed deduction. The taxpayers requested a collection due process (CDP) hearing after the IRS sent a notice of intent to levy. Although one of the disputed checks was not presented to the Appeals Officer, the Tax Court could consider it because the Tax Court did not follow the record rule, and therefore, could consider evidence not produced at the CDP hearing as long as it was relevant. Since the IRS did not make an evidentiary objection to the check at trial, any objection for relevance was waived. Because the taxpayers received a notice of deficiency, their underlying tax liability could not be challenged in the CDP hearing. Questions about whether a particular check could be credited to a taxpayer’s account for a particular tax year, however, were not challenges to the taxpayer’s underlying tax liability. The Appeal’s officer’s determination to the contrary was a harmless error of law and not an abuse of discretion because the IRS did correctly credit the checks against liabilities other than the taxpayers’ unpaid individual tax liability for the tax year at issue. The taxpayers payments were voluntary and so their designations controlled. Designations on the checks, such as the employer identification number of the law firm that was liable for the employment taxes with respect to the taxpayer, supported a conclusion that the payments were meant to pay the law firm’s tax debt, not the taxpayers’ individual tax debt. Although one check arguably could have been for the payment of trust fund recovery penalty against the taxpayer as a responsible person for his law firm, the liability was for a tax year outside of the CDP hearing and the Tax Court lacked jurisdiction over those taxes.

The taxpayers failed to present evidence that the employment taxes were overpaid prior to the year at issue and that the overpayment should be credited toward their individual deficiency. The taxpayers presented no evidence of their income from earlier years nor stated how the amounts should be credited or how the credits reduced the deficiency. Finally, the Appeals officer did not abuse her discretion in refusing to send the Social Security Administration information about the taxpayer’s additional income. The issue was not related to an unpaid tax or levy and so was an issue that could not be raised at a CDP hearing.

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