California Tax Law Blog

Better Pay Online! Paper Payments to FTB Significantly Delayed in June

The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) recently issued a news blast that many payments sent by mail to the state tax agency in June were delayed significantly due to post office issues. When the mail finally caught up on June 9th, the FTB received some 115,000 payments for estimated taxes and other purposes. The agency is working to process all the backlogged payments now and will post them with a timely date of June 15, 2019. However, this should serve as a reminder to try to issue online payments to tax agencies whenever possible!

California Offers Relief for Qualifying Out-of-State Retailers Selling Through Fulfillment Centers

The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) recently announced it is offering relief to certain out-of-state retailers (referred to as "marketplace sellers") who are considered to be engaged in business in the state of California based solely on their use of in-state fulfillment centers to store inventory. Qualifying retailers may be entitled to reduced tax liabilities, penalties, and interest, effective June 27, 2019.

U.S. Supreme Court Decides in Favor of Out-of-State Trusts in Tax Case

The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued a unanimous decision in North Carolina Dept. of Revenue v. The Kimberley Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust, ruling that residence in a state is not a sufficient reason to tax an out-of-state trust's undistributed income. Justice Sonia Sotomayer delivered the opinion, explaining the Court's two-step analysis of the case in regards to the 14th Amendment on due process. The judges considered that there must be "some definite link, some minimum connection, between a state and the person, property or transaction it seeks to tax" and that the "income attributed to the State for tax purposes must be rationally related to 'values connected with the taxing State.'" In this instance, "the presence of in-state beneficiaries alone does not empower a State to tax trust income that has not been distributed to the beneficiaries where the beneficiaries have no right to demand that income and are uncertain ever to receive it."

FTB Update on 2019 Tax Filing Season

The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) recently released some initial data on the 2019 tax filing season. As of June 1st, the FTB had processed 17.4 million personal income tax returns, a vast majority (88%) of which were e-filed. A total of $11.7 billion in personal income tax refunds were issued to 12 million individual taxpayers, 98% of whom received their refunds within 30 days of filing. The FTB also received 1.1 million business entity returns and issued 92,000 refunds to business taxpayers, totaling $553 million. To read the full update, click here.

DOJ and IRS Announce Increased Enforcement Against Cryptocurrency Tax Crimes

In a recent tax controversy forum hosted by New York University, the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General to the Department of Justice Tax Division (DOJ-Tax), Richard Zuckerman, said that his team is increasing its focus on individuals attempting to use bitcoin and other digital assets to evade taxes. DOJ-Tax is currently prosecuting several criminal cryptocurrency cases, and Zuckerman noted that others are already in process.

Nina Olson Releases Final Report to Congress as National Taxpayer Advocate

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, who will retire on July 31, 2019, recently released her final report to Congress, summarizing the 2019 filing season and identifying objectives for FY 2020. Top on her list of goals is the improvement of services to taxpayers, with a move towards a "taxpayer-centric strategy" designed to reduce anxiety and increase trust in our federal tax system.

IRS Issues Final Regulations Capping SALT Deductions

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently finalized the federal government's answer on the charitable contribution work-around certain states have attempted to implement to reduce the effect of the cap on state and local tax deductions for federal filing purposes. Citing Internal Revenue Code section 170, the IRS determined that contributions made by taxpayers to a fund or entity designed as an alternative to paying property taxes, for example, is not a charitable contribution, because the donation is not made with a charitable intent, and the taxpayer receives a privilege or benefit in exchange for the donation.

TIGTA's Newest Semiannual Report to Congress Identifies Room for IRS Improvements

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released its Semiannual Report to Congress for the period October 1, 2018 through March 31, 2019. During this period, TIGTA completed 20 audits and 1,068 investigations concerning taxpayer data security, identity theft and impersonation fraud, tax compliance, and IRS efficiency. Of particular concern for this report and future monitoring was the effect of the lapse of appropriations for the IRS just before the start of the first tax season to incorporate changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA).

IRS Accuracy-Related Penalties Often Don't Stick to Large Businesses, TIGTA Finds

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released a report finding that accuracy-related penalties are not often proposed in audits of large businesses, and the penalties are generally not sustained on appeal. Between FY 2015 and FY 2017, TIGTA found that of the $773 million in proposed penalties that went to the Office of Appeals, there was a reduction of those penalties totaling $765 million. Of some 4,600 business return exams studied, which resulted in additional tax assessments of $14 billion, only 6 percent had accuracy-related penalties assessed.

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