Tips for Finding a Qualified Tax Resolution Firm

Given how high the stakes are, it is surprising how little thought many people give to their taxes. All too often, individuals simply walk into a neighborhood storefront, hand over their most personal information and trust the person on the other side of the desk to do the right thing and prepare their taxes properly.


In many cases that trust is well placed, and the individual preparing the taxes is indeed the honest and trustworthy professional they claim to be. In other cases, however, the trust is misplaced, and the tax preparer will end up making mistakes that could cost the individual a great deal. If an audit is triggered by a deliberate misrepresentation or unintentional mistake, you will still be on the hook for any additional taxes, interest and penalties.


If you’re in tax trouble because you trusted the wrong tax preparer, then you will need a qualified tax resolution firm to help you resolve your tax problem. However, you don’t want to repeat the same mistake twice! So it is important to do your homework and know what to look for in a tax resolution firm. Here are 4 quick tips to help you find a qualified tax resolution firm.


#1 Read Their Reviews Online


By reading online reviews you can quickly see if the tax resolution firm is reputable and stands by their clients. A lot of the big national firms will have terrible reviews but they market themselves heavily, so consumers don’t think twice about their reputation.


If you owe back taxes, waiting can cost you a lot of money and if the tax resolution firm disappears on you or doesn’t return your call, that wasted time could cost you dearly. This can easily be snuffed out by seeing if they have good online reviews about their services.


#2 Make Sure the Tax Resolution Firm Has Experience and A Proven Track Record


Negotiating with the IRS to settle your tax debt is a specialized skill that not all tax attorneys or tax professionals have. It’s important to ask about their recent case settlements and success stories. A true tax resolution professional will have proof they’ve done this before and successfully helped resolve back tax problems.

#3 What Does Their Communication Look Like Once You Sign On?


A professional and experienced firm will have systems in place to make sure you’re updated regularly on your tax resolution case. The IRS moves slow and there will likely be big gaps in time in between updates from the IRS. That doesn’t mean the tax relief firm should also have gaps in communication.


Ask how long they think it’ll take to resolve your tax problem, and how you’ll be updated even if they don’t have any news from the IRS.


#4 Avoid Big National Firms With Salespeople Who Promise The Moon But Don’t Deliver


You’ve heard their ads on the radio or TV. If you call a big national firm you’ll likely get a salesperson who knows very little about taxes or how to settle your tax debt.


Not every taxpayer qualifies for all the IRS tax debt settlement programs. However, these salespeople will promise you the moon but will fail to deliver because they didn’t take the time to understand your specific situation and they’re not actually licensed tax resolution professionals.


Make sure to ask who will be responsible for your case and try to speak with them directly before signing up. A true tax resolution expert will be happy to speak with you to make sure they can understand your case and offer  you the right solution.


Need Tax Relief?

If you want an expert tax resolution specialist who knows how to navigate the IRS maze, reach out to our firm and we’ll schedule a no-obligation confidential consultation to explain your options to permanently resolve your tax problem. 

How to Turn Your Side Hustle Into a Massive Tax Deduction

How to Turn Your Side Hustle Into a Massive Tax Deduction

If you took on a side hustle last year to make ends meet and earn some extra cash, you may have found an unexpected surprise when you filed your taxes. If you did not prepare carefully, you probably ended up with a big tax bill for your troubles, possibly with penalties and interest added on.

Given the unpleasant surprises of the past, you may be resigned to a life of higher taxes, all courtesy of the very side hustle you thought would help you gain financial freedom. But before you put away your driving gloves and give up on ride-sharing and grocery delivery, you might want to take a second look at your situation.

With the right planning and preparation, your side hustle could actually lower your tax bill, giving you an even bigger reason to keep driving, door dashing, and doing whatever it takes to make ends meet. Here are some key ways to make your side hustle pay off come tax time.

Note: If you fall behind on filing your taxes or owe back taxes to the IRS, you’re not alone and we can help. Reach out to our tax resolution firm and we’ll help you file late tax returns and negotiate with the IRS if you owe back taxes.

Start By Estimating What You Expect to Earn

It can be difficult to estimate how much you might earn from your side hustle, especially if the time you devote to it and the amount you make varies week to week. Even so, it is important to estimate your income, not only to plan for your deductions but to make advance tax payments as well.

If you expect to earn more than $1,000 from your side hustle, you should strongly consider making quarterly tax payments to the IRS. If you fail to pay ahead, you could end up with a tax penalty when you file, and possibly interest and other charges as well. If you end up overpaying what you owe, you will receive a refund when you file your taxes.

You can start estimating your earnings by looking at how much you made last year. To fine-tune the figure, even more, you can look at your monthly earnings to date and annualize that figure to determine how much you could earn for the entire year.

Consider a Health Savings Account

If you have a health savings account, either through your employer or purchased on your own, you may be eligible for a health savings account, and opening one could significantly reduce your taxable income, so you can keep more of your side hustle money.

In addition to the tax savings, a health savings account can help you pay for medical expenses, both expected ones, and costs that would otherwise have drained your emergency fund. Since the money, you put into an HSA is fully tax-deductible, this simple step can lower your tax bill quite a bit.

Open a Self-Employed Retirement Plan

If you have a side hustle, even on a part-time basis, you are considered self-employed, and that means you can open a retirement plan designed for self-employed individuals. The type of account you can open, and the amount you can contribute, will be dictated by the type of business structure and your earnings, but many of these retirement plans are quite generous in their contribution limits.

If your side hustle is truly a sideline and you have a full-time job with a traditional 401(k) plan, you may be eligible for a SEP-IRA, a unique form of account designed specifically for small business owners and the self-employed. If your side hustle has gone full time, you may want to look at a solo 401(k), a retirement plan that offers high contribution limits and an enormous potential for tax savings. You will need to apply for an employer identification number (EIN) to open this type of 401(k), but you can get that number free from the IRS.

Take Advantage of Your Deductions

Having a side hustle gives you a chance to tax advantage of certain deductions, and using those deductions could significantly reduce your taxable income and boost the size of your refund.

If you run a business out of your home, for instance, you may be eligible for the home office deduction, and that will entitle you to write off part of your mortgage, utilities, and other costs. You can also take a standard home-office deduction based on the square footage of your dedicated workspace and the size of your home.

In addition to those deductions, you may be able to write off things like office supplies, the cost of internet access and phone service, and automotive expenses if you use your car as part of your side hustle or full-time business. You should always check with a tax expert before claiming these deductions, as every individual situation is unique.

Side hustles are becoming more common, and that is good news for many wallets. But when tax time rolls around, those partially self-employed individuals will need to do some serious planning to keep their bills in check, including following the steps outlined above.

Life as a freelancer or gig worker can be wonderful, but it’s not uncommon to see self-employed taxpayers land in trouble with the IRS and owing back taxes.

If you do run into tax trouble, reach out to our tax resolution firm and we’ll schedule a free, no-obligation confidential consultation to explain your options in full to permanently resolve your tax problem. 


5 Things That Can Unexpectedly Raise Your Taxes

Proper tax planning is a year-round proposition. You cannot afford to wait until April to start planning your taxes and assessing your tax liability.

Knowing which factors can raise your taxes is one of the best ways to keep more money in your pocket. These five factors can unexpectedly raise your taxes owed at the end of the year.

Note: If you owe back taxes, our firm can help negotiate with the IRS and potentially settle your tax debt. Call us today. Our tax resolution specialists can navigate the IRS maze so that you have nothing to worry about.

#1 - Cashing in Your Retirement Plan

There are many reasons not to cash in your retirement plan early, but the tax penalty is one of the biggest ones. If you take the proceeds from your 401(k) plan in cash instead of rolling it over into an IRA, you will have to pay taxes on the money you withdraw. Even worse, you will be subject to a 10 percent penalty. By the time you are done, you could lose up to half your hard-earned retirement plan to taxes and penalties.

#2 - Working as a Freelancer

Working for yourself is great, but it can trigger a tax nightmare. Freelancers and other self-employed workers are subject to the self-employment tax, which represents the combined employer and employee share of the Medicare and Social Security tax. That tax hit can be substantial, especially if you plan to fail for it and set money aside.

#3 - Failing to Take Your RMD

You cannot keep retirement funds in your account indefinitely. You are required to start pulling money from your IRA and workplace retirement plans when you turn 70. If you fail to make that required minimum distribution (RMD), you could face a hefty tax penalty. The penalty for failing to take the RMD can be substantial.

#4 - Skipping Your IRA Contribution

If you are used to making an annual IRA contribution, skipping that contribution could cost you money. Before you skip your IRA contribution, take the time to run the numbers and see how the decision will affect your tax bill.

#5 - Paying Off the Mortgage

Paying off the house can be very freeing, but it can also raise your taxes. Mortgage interest is deductible if you itemize your deductions, and losing that deduction could leave you owing more to the IRS. That may not be a reason to keep a mortgage, but it can be an important consideration.

Owe Back Taxes?

If you know you’ll have outstanding tax debt and owe more than $10k to the IRS or state but can’t pay in full, contact our firm today. We help people find tax relief and sometimes settle their tax debt for a fraction of what’s owed.

Recordkeeping Tips for Freelancers and Gig Workers So You Can Avoid Getting in Tax Trouble

Recordkeeping Tips for Freelancers and Gig Workers So You Can Avoid Getting in Tax Trouble

If you are working as a freelancer or gig worker, you are certainly not alone. Millions of men and women are earning extra income driving for ride-sharing services, designing websites for online entrepreneurs, and writing for local businesses.

Some freelancers and gig workers have even said goodbye to their traditional careers, trading the security of a steady paycheck for the freedom and flexibility of gig work and freelance clients. But whether you are freelancing full time or just for extra cash, you need to keep careful records so come tax time, you can stay out of tax trouble.

Note: If you fall behind on filing your taxes, you’re not alone and we can help. Reach out to our tax resolution firm and we’ll help you file late tax returns and negotiate with the IRS if you owe back taxes. 

Set Up a Separate Bank Account

Freelancers and gig workers play many roles but they all have one thing in common, they are also business owners.

Whether or not you have incorporated your business or formed a formal business, you do operate your own business. That means you need a separate bank account to collect your earnings and pay your expenses.

If you have not already done so, you should set up a separate bank account for your freelancing income. If you do have a formal business structure and an employer identification number (EIN), you can use that information to open the account. If not, you can simply open a second account to collect your payments and take care of any business-related expenses.

Print Reports from Payment Providers

Gig workers and freelancers are paid in many different ways, from direct payments from clients to automated clearinghouse (ACH) transfers to their bank accounts. These independent workers may also receive payment through third party apps like Paypal, Stripe and Payoneer, and keeping it all straight can be a real challenge.

Luckily many of the major payment providers make it easy to find out exactly how much their members received during a given time period. If you want to see where you stand, and how much tax you might owe, sign on and print out a payment report from every provider you receive income from.

You can fill out those reports with your own carefully kept records, including documentation of direct client payments and bank transfers. If you are unsure how much you have received via ACH, you can check with your bank or request a written report.

Signing up for a bookkeeping service or bookkeeping software can also help keep track of all your income and expenses.

Maintain Contact Information for Everyone You Have Worked For

During the course of a single year, freelancers and gig workers may work for dozens of individuals and companies, and they may receive payments from just as many sources. In a perfect world, everyone who hires those freelancers and gig workers would maintain their own records and send out 1099s for tax purposes, but that is far from guaranteed.

If you want to avoid unpleasant entanglements with the IRS, you need to keep your own records and check off each 1099 as it comes in. If you earned income from a client and do not receive a 1099, it is your responsibility to follow up and get the proper paperwork, so make your life easier and keep contact information from everyone you worked for, even if they were only a one-time client.

Keep a Running Tally with a Spreadsheet

It can be hard to track your income from freelance jobs and gig work, but a spreadsheet will make it easier. If you want to avoid underreporting your income and the tax penalties that could bring, set up a spreadsheet and record every dollar you earn from your freelancing and gig work efforts.

Keeping a running tally of your freelance and gig work income serves a number of different purposes. For one thing, it will help you determine the amount of your required quarterly income tax payments, so you do not overpay or underpay what you owe. Tallying your income as you go can also help you see how you are doing, making it easier to ramp up your freelancing and gig work efforts as you go.

Measure, Photograph and Document Your Home Office

As a freelancer or gig worker, you may be eligible for some generous income tax deductions, including a write-off for your home office. If you operate your freelancing business out of your home or find gig clients there, you may be able to deduct part of your utility bills, rent or mortgage and other applicable expenses.

Not just any space will do if you want to take the home office deduction, and proper documentation could be the difference between a valid deduction and a disallowed one. You must use your home office solely for your business, and it is important to keep careful records to avoid problems with the IRS.

That means measuring the space your home office occupies, so you can compare it to the total square footage of your home. It also means photographing the space, so you can show those images to the IRS if they question the deduction.

Scan Receipts to Make Tax Deductions Easier

You may also be eligible for additional tax deductions, including write-offs for office supplies, internet access and the like. But you will need to back up those deductions if the IRS comes calling, so make sure you have all those receipts on hand.

A shoebox full of paper receipts will not do, so make sure you scan or photograph those documents and keep them in a safe place. That could mean setting up a folder on your hard drive (with a backup plan in place), uploading the images to the cloud or a combination approach designed to safeguard records of your business-related purchases.

Life as a freelancer or gig worker can be wonderful, but keeping proper records is essential. From making tax planning easier and less stressful to saving you money, there are many advantages to keeping careful records.

If you do run into tax trouble, reach out to our tax resolution firm and we’ll schedule a free, no-obligation confidential consultation to explain your options in full to permanently resolve your tax problem.


9 Common Mistakes First Time Tax Filers Make That Can Land You In Tax Trouble

Being an adult has its perks, from being able to rent a car and book a hotel room to the chance to earn a living and rent an apartment. But life as an adult also comes with some challenges, including the burden of filing and paying taxes.

If this year is the first time you will be filing a tax return, it is important to plan ahead. Mistakes are common among first-time filers, and those blunders could delay a much-anticipated refund or even trigger an audit from the IRS.

Here are 9 of the mistakes first-time filers are likely to make - and how you can avoid them.

Note: If you or someone you know owes back taxes, our firm can help negotiate with the IRS and potentially settle your tax debt. Call us today. Our tax resolution specialists can navigate the IRS maze so that you have nothing to worry about.

1. Forgetting to file

When filing taxes is new, it is easy to forget to do it. Forgetting to file is a big risk for first-time filers, one that could have long-lasting implications for your adult life.

2. Not reporting all your income

As a first-time filer, it is easy to forget to report all your income, especially if you work a side hustle or participate in the gig economy, Failing to report all your income is a big no-no, and this mistake could trigger a visit from the IRS.

3. Not tracking the cost basis of your investments

If you invest in stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, you may owe capital gains tax when you sell, so it is important to track the cost basis as you go along. If you fail to track the cost basis, you could end up overpaying taxes on any future sales.

4. Paying for a refund anticipation loan

As a first-time filer, you are probably anxious for your refund, but paying to get it could be a big mistake. Unless you are in dire need, it is better to wait 7-10 days for your e-filed return to be processed and your direct deposit to land in your bank account.

5. Choosing the wrong filing status

If you choose the wrong filing status, your return could be delayed, or even rejected outright.

6. Not asking your parents if they are claiming you on their tax return.

If your parents are still providing support for you, they may be able to claim you as a dependent when they file their taxes. If you incorrectly claim yourself as a dependent in this situation, you could be in trouble with the IRS. Even more importantly, you could land your parents in hot water as well.

7. Failing to claim all your deductions

From student loan payments to mortgage interest, the IRS provides a wealth of deductions that can reduce taxes for first-time filers. Failing to claim those available deductions is like leaving money on the table.

8. Waiting until the last minute

Many first-time filers assume that their returns will be simple and that they can wait until the last minute to file. If you wait until April 15, you will be at the mercy of everything from closed post offices to a failed internet connection, so start early and get this chore out of the way as soon as possible.

9. Not planning for next year

When you are neck-deep in tax paperwork, it is hard to see ahead, but failing to plan for future taxes is a big first-time filer mistake. Now that your return has been filed, do some homework on additional tax deductions, including those for 401(k) and IRA contributions.

The April 15 tax filing deadline will be here before you know it, and when it is over you will have officially become a taxpayer. If you want your first foray into taxpayer status to be a successful one, avoiding the 9 mistakes listed above is a good place to start.

If you know you’ll have outstanding tax debt and owe more than $10k to the IRS or state but can’t pay in full, contact our firm today. We help people find tax relief and sometimes settle their tax debt for a fraction of what’s owed.