Tax Evasion: Celebs under the radar of IRS?

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The end of the United States tax year has been and gone, so it is surprising to some that there are still a large number of celebrities who are believed to still owe the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) a great deal of money. But are the IRS oblivious to this? Are the celebrities in the US entirely under the radar?

Because there is a considerable amount of money still owed at such a late date by celebrities, it may seem easy to jump to the conclusion that the answer is most definitely ‘yes’. However there have been many highly publicized cases of celebrities being singled out for owing large sums of money, usually due to them not taking enough responsibility for their own tax preparation. One such example is former NFL athlete Warren Sapp, who in April of this year filed for bankruptcy due to his past failure to pay tax catching up with him. The bankruptcy documents indicate that Sapp owes $942,000 in taxes to the IRS which date back to 2006, which he is now unable to pay. Cases like this indicate that celebrities are not free to evade the tax they owe to the IRS. However it is extremely hard for celebrities such as Sapp to pay back money that they owe when they do not have any money to give – usually because they are past their heyday and no longer have a steady income.

The IRS have made it extremely clear that celebrities are far from under the radar. Back in 2007 an Issue Management Team was formed with the specific goal of retrieving unpaid income tax returns from athletes and entertainers within the United States. This has coincided with the laws regarding tax and the IRS becoming stricter and stricter. A bill currently going through the US House of Representatives will allow the federal government to revoke passports of US citizens who the IRS can prove owe them taxes. Also actions have been taken against celebrities who still have unpaid tax returns. Wesley Snipes, a well known movie star who is believed to owe the IRS a staggering $17 million in back taxes, and Rapper Ja Rule are both serving prison sentences due to unpaid taxes.

Unpaid tax returns are of high public concern due to the importance of tax money to the US treasury. Taxes provide income to all levels of government in order for them to be able to provide vital services. Examples of the services they provide are things such as highways, police and hospitals, which benefit all citizens in the US. Without this income, such public services suffer greatly. The problem with celebrities not paying tax is that there is a public perception that they have a great deal of disposable income, so by not paying tax they are portrayed in the media as immensely greedy.

However there are other reasons that celebrities may not pay their income tax, which all need to be considered. One issue is that celebrities tend to have a hard time keeping on top of their finances. This is because unlike the average American citizen who gets paid either weekly or monthly, celebrities tend to get paid in lump sums and often to have to manage this income throughout the year. Because of this issue celebrities often hire financial advisers, but if non-reputable firms or individuals are hired, the trust may not pay off and their finances may become increasingly complex. Actors Nicolas Cage and Wesley Snipes both laid the blame for their financial troubles upon the financial experts they hired.

Another issues is that unlike the average American employee, taxes are not automatically deducted from their wages. This means that the payment of income tax may be delayed, which is when the problems begin to arise. Many years of unpaid tax eventually add up to an incredibly large bill, which the celebrity may not be able to ever repay. To solve this problem, many have suggested that the IRS should put more pressure on celebrities to ensure that they file their income tax returns at the end of each tax year. Another issue of note is to ensure that celebrities hire reputable firms to deal with their finances and any ensuing legal issues, instead of  relying on people who they know without the relevant expertise.

Celebrities are far from under the radar of the IRS, but certain situations such as bankruptcy resulting from delayed payment may give this impression. Celebrities status often makes it impossible to avoid issues to do with tax due to the constant media attention which they receive. Before jumping to a hasty conclusion about celebrity greed and their tax evasion, the differences between public and celebrity taxes have to be considered and understood.

3 Ways Increasing Taxes on the Wealthy Could Affect Job Growth by David Veibl. David is a guest author for the CPA blog of WallaceAPC, a tax preparation company in Los Angeles with top quality tax consulting services.

Top Ten Most Overlooked Tax Deductions

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Each year the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reports the most common tax deductions taxpayers forget about when submitting their income tax return.  Among one of the most common mistakes taxpayers make is they forget to place their Social Security number on the form or they make a mistake when entering the information.

It is possible for some taxpayers to be overpaying so it helps to make sure you review deductions available and understand how to claim them correctly to obtain the credit.  Below is a list of the most common deductions overlooked by taxpayers:

  1. State sales tax: Taxpayers who live in a state that doesn’t impose an income tax often forget to claim this deduction.  The IRS has a table that can be used to help you figure out the amount to deduct.
  2. Charitable contributions: This includes charitable deductions from your paycheck, items purchased for a charitable event such as a fundraiser or if you drove your vehicle for charity, the IRS lets you deduct a certain amount per mile.  Save all receipts and if you make a donation of 250 or more, get written confirmation from the charity.
  3. Student loan interest: If mom or dad paid for a student loan for a child not claimed as a dependent, the interest can be claimed on your return.
  4. Moving expenses: If you moved to take a new job, the expenses related may be deductible.
  5. Child care credit: Having a credit can help reduce taxes owed.  If your expense is paid through an account at work, it is easy to overlook but if you pay several thousand for child care it helps reduce taxes owed.
  6. Earned income tax credit: While the rules to this may be complex, many taxpayers don’t claim it.  This is considered a refundable tax credit instead of a deduction.
  7. State tax paid last spring: If you paid state income taxes in quarterly payments or had them withheld, they can be deducted on your current return.
  8. Energy-saving home improvement credit: This is a credit that is 30 percent equal to the cost of energy-saving improvements.  The IRS provides details on qualifications for this credit.
  9. Jury duty payments:  If your employer required you to give them payments you receive for jury duty, you can claim the amount on your return.
  10. Refinancing points: There are points that can be deducted when you refinance your home at one time.  This depends on how many years are on your mortgage and you can deduct points that are remaining if you sell you r home after paying if off or refinance again.

Andrew writes frequently about personal finance as well as issues effecting both consumers and small businesses, covering everything from credit cards to mortgages to loans.

When you are missing your W2 Statements

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Make sure you have all your W-2 Forms before you file your 2010 tax return for this year because you will need all of them. You should have gotten a Form W-2 in the mail from each and every one of your employers for the year. The deadline for the employers to get them out to you is January 31st, so wait until then before you begin to worry.

If after that date, you do not have your Form W-2:

1. Call up your employer. Ask them if they sent out your Form W-2. If they did, make sure that they have your correct address. If they send you another W-2, wait for a reasonable space of time to receive the paper.

2. Call the IRS. If by February 14th, you still have not received the Form, then you should call the IRS toll free at 800-829-1040. When you contacting the IRS, you will need to give them information such as your Social Security number, your address, your phone number,  and of course your name, as well as:
• Your employer’s contact information (name, address, and phone)
• The dates you were employed by him or her
• An estimate of how much you earned for that year, and an estimate of the amount of money withheld for your federal income taxes, your dates of employment. These numbers can be obtained most accurately by looking at your final pay stub or consulting your a leave and earnings statement if you have it

3. File for your tax return. Yes, even without the needed Forms, you still have to file your tax return (or for an extension) before April 18th.  Just use Form 4852 instead as a replacement for the missing Form W-2. Send Form 4852 with your tax return and your most accurate income and withheld taxes information. This may delay your tax refund while they verify that your form is indeed accurate.

4. File a Form 1040X. If you do eventually receive your W-2, but you have already filed for your tax return, compare the W-2 numbers with the numbers you filed. If they do not match up, obtain a form 1040X to file a revised tax return.

The mentioned instructions and forms and instructions can be obtained from IRS.gov website or by calling 800-829-3676

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Completing your Federal Return is a … Read more at 2009 Taxes

With TurboTax Online you are guaranteed to get your biggest tax refund possible. And it’s not too late to complete and file your 2008 taxes. Start you return today with the #1 name in online tax preparation, TurboTax.

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Paying taxes is required for both citizens and...
Paying taxes is required for both citizens and non-citizens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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