Taxpayers in Southern California and Across the U.S. Can Avoid Common Tax Season Pitfalls by Consulting With a Tax Professional
Tax season is in full swing. For most American taxpayers, the federal income tax filing deadline is April 15th. Often, the United States Justice Department chooses to issue an increased number of tax crime indictments during tax season. This can add to the stress associated with accurately filling out your annual income tax forms.
Much of the nation’s criminal tax enforcement efforts are focused on undisclosed foreign accounts. Taxpayers in California and across the U.S. who have an ownership interest in or signatory authority over certain foreign financial assets totaling at least $10,000 are required to file a completed Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (“FBAR”) by June 30th of each year. According to the Internal Revenue Service, the FBAR must be filed for any overseas bank account, trust fund, brokerage account, mutual fund, or other financial asset. A taxpayer who does not timely file the FBAR may face a fine of $10,000 or up to one-half of the highest balance of the overseas account per occurrence. Significant criminal penalties may also be incurred.
Although international tax issues are a common source of concern for U.S. taxpayers, simply failing to properly report your income can also spell trouble. A willful attempt to evade paying your federal income tax obligation is a felony under 26 U.S.C. § 7203. In general, the term “willful” means acting intentionally or voluntarily. Despite this, the IRS won’t simply take a taxpayer’s word for it with regard to his or her conduct. In the U.S., intentionally remaining ignorant about your federal income tax obligation will not shield a taxpayer from criminal prosecution.
To avoid criminal and financial penalties, American taxpayers should be honest on their tax returns as the IRS has set up a number of checks and balances designed to trip up dishonest taxpayers. Although it’s tempting to try to maximize your deductions, you should never get creative with your accounting. If filing your federal income taxes seems daunting, you should hire a tax professional to help you understand your tax liabilities and strategically plan for the future. Because the tax code is complex and can be difficult to understand, hiring a tax professional who is familiar with the Internal Revenue Code may aid you in saving money and avoiding costly mistakes.
If you have questions about your federal or international tax obligations, certified tax law specialist William Hartsock can help. Mr. Hartsock has more than three decades of experience advising clients in Southern California about how to successfully comply with the nation’s federal income tax laws. To discuss your international tax questions with a knowledgeable tax attorney, give William Hartsock a call today at (858) 481-4844 or contact him through his website.
The Truth About Lying On Your Tax Return, by Robert W. Wood, Forbes
3 Simple Tips for a Stress-Free Tax Season, by Matthew Toren, Entrepreneur
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