California Tax Law Blog

Common sales tax traps for merchants

Sellers of retail goods have an obligation to accurately account for, and pay, the applicable sales taxes on the goods they sell. Generally speaking, this will mean collecting whatever tax is owed from one's customers and then paying it back to the state.

This process is, however, not so simple. Indeed, it is actually fairly easy for a merchant to make one of several mistakes when calculating sales tax and reporting their numbers to the state. While these mistakes are relatively common, they unfortunately can leave a business stuck with a large, and unexpected, tax bill. Additionally, penalties and interest may get enforced as a result of such errors.

Beware of New IRS Phone Scam

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued a warning about a new phone scam involving fake calls from the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS). Tax scammers are using "spoofed" TAS phone numbers to contact potential victims to obtain personal information and payments. The IRS reminds taxpayers that TAS does not typically initiate calls to taxpayers, unless the taxpayer has requested assistance first.

Deadline Approaches for 2015 Non-Filers to Claim $1.4 Billion in Federal Refunds

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimates that it has nearly $1.4 billion in unclaimed income tax refunds due to about 1.2 million taxpayers who failed to file a 2015 Form 1040. The deadline to claim these funds is this year's return filing deadline, April 15, 2019.

California Business Tax Question Put To U.S. Supreme Court

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich recently asked the U.S. Supreme Court for permission to file suit against the State of California over the $800 minimum business tax imposed on investors in certain LLCs. Brnovich contends that the California minimum tax, and California's related collection efforts when investors or businesses do not pay, is illegal because the investors have "purely passive investments in California companies." In addition, since the $800 minimum tax is deductible on Arizona tax returns, the California practice is costing Arizona more than $484,000 annually.

IRS Launches New "Dirty Dozen" List of Tax Scams for 2019

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently kicked off its annual "Dirty Dozen" awareness campaign to alert taxpayers to common tax scams. Topping the list in 2019 are new variations on phishing schemes that use "legitimate-looking emails with fake, but convincing website landing pages," social media links, and other methods to obtain taxpayers' personal information.

FTB Increases Interest Rates

The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) recently announced that interest rates for personal income tax underpayments and overpayments, corporate underpayments, and estimate penalties will increase to 6 percent for 2019.  The corporate overpayment interest rate will increase to 2 percent this year.  For more information, click here.

California Tax Attorney Confirmed as New IRS Chief Counsel

After a two-year vacancy, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a Chief Counsel again.  Michael Desmond, a California tax attorney originally nominated by President Donald Trump last year, was confirmed 83-15 today by the Senate to oversee regulation drafting and provide guidance on federal tax law matters to the agency.  Read more here.

IRS Awaits Confirmation of Chief Counsel

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote to confirm Michael Desmond as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Chief Counsel as soon as this week, and to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, confirmation would be a benefit to the tax agency.

New Hampshire Bill Aims to Protect State Businesses from Effects of Wayfair Decision

The New Hampshire Senate unanimously approved S.B. 242 last week, a bipartisan bill that aims to protect state businesses from the effects of last year's Wayfair decision, which allows states to impose sales and use tax regulations on e-retailers and other out-of-state sellers that do not have a physical presence in the state but that do meet dollar or transaction thresholds that create an economic nexus.

Gig Workers and Self-Employment Tax Compliance a New Focus for the IRS

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently reported on self-employment tax compliance in light of the growth of the gig economy. The IRS last estimated that self-employment taxes accounted for $69 billion of the annual tax gap. TIGTA reviewed Forms 1099-K for tax years 2012 through 2015 issued by the top nine payer companies participating in the gig economy. Over 260,000 instances of potentially underreported payments were identified, and the number of discrepancies increased 237 percent from 2012 to 2015. Due to the large volume of discrepancies identified, the IRS' Automated Underreporter (AUR) program declined to work on 59 percent of total cases, including over 2,800 taxpayer cases in which there was potential underreporting for all four years of Forms 1099-K reviewed. The total potential payments related to those taxpayers was $2.7 billion.

Contact the Law Office of Williams & Associates

For more information about our tax law services, or to discuss your tax matter, call our Sacramento office at (916) 488-8501 or toll free at (800) 684-7147. You may also send us an inquiry via email.

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