What Is A Deferred 1031 Tax Exchange Irs Obtains More Than 100 Injunctions Against Tax Scheme Promoters Highlights Of Irs List Of 2005 Tax Scams What Your Tax Dollars Do For You
A tax deferred exchange represents a simple, strategic method for selling one qualifying property and the subsequent acquisition of another qualifying property within a specific time frame.
Although the logistics of selling one property and buying another are virtually identical to any standard sale and purchase scenario, an exchange is different because the entire transaction is memorialized as an exchange and not a sale. And it is this distinction between exchanging and not simply selling and buying which ultimately allows the taxpayer to qualify for deferred gain treatment.So essentially, sales are taxable and exchanges are not.
Internal Revenue Code, Section 1031
Because exchanging represents an IRS-recognized approach to the deferral of capital gain taxes, it is important for us to appreciate the components and intent underlying such a tax deferred or tax free transaction. It is within Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code that we find the core essentials necessary for a successful exchange. Additionally, it is within the Like-Kind Exchange Regulations, previously issued by the Department of the Treasury, that we find the specific interpretation of the IRS and the generally accepted standards and rules for completing a qualifying transaction. Throughout the remainder of this booklet we will be identifying these rules and requirements, although it is important to note that the Regulations are not the law. They simply reflect the interpretation of the law (Section 1031) by the Internal Revenue Service.
Any property owner or investor who expects to acquire replacement property subsequent to the sale of his existing property should consider an exchange. To do otherwise would necessitate the payment of capital gain taxes in amounts which can exceed 20-30%, depending on the appropriate combined federal and state tax rates. In other words, when purchasing replacement property without the benefit of an exchange, your buying power is dramatically reduced and represents only 70-80% of what it did previously.
Basic exchange rules
Let us look at a basic concept, which applies to all exchanges. Utilize this concept to fully defer the capital gain taxes realized from the sale of a relinquished property:
1. The purchase price of the replacement property must be equal to or greater than the net sales price of the relinquished property, and
2. All equity received from the sale of the relinquished property must be used to acquire the replacement property.
To the extent that either of these rules is abridged, a tax liability will accrue to the Exchangor. If the replacement property purchase price is less, there will be tax. To the extent that not all equity is moved from the relinquished to the replacement property, there will be tax. This is not to say that the exchange will not qualify for these reasons; partial exchanges do in fact qualify for partial tax deferral. It simply means that the amount of any discrepancy will be taxed as boot, or non-like-kind, property.
Four common exchange misconceptions:
1. All exchanges must involve swapping or trading with other property owners. (NO)
Before delayed exchanges were codified in 1984, all simultaneous exchange transactions required the actual swapping of deeds and simultaneous closing among all parties to an exchange. Often times these exchanges were comprised of dozens of exchanging parties as well as numerous exchange properties. But today, there is no such requirement to swap your property with someone else in order to complete an exchange. The rules have been streamlined to the extent that the current process is reflective more of your qualifying intent rather than the logistics of the property closings.
2. All exchanges must close simultaneously. (NO)
Although there was a time when all exchanges had to be closed on a simultaneous basis, they are rarely completed in this format any longer. In fact, a significant majority of exchanges are now closed as delayed exchanges.
3. Like-kind means purchasing the same type of property which was sold. (NO)
The definition of like-kind has often been misinterpreted to mean the requirement of the acquisition of property to be utilized in the same form as the exchange property. In other words, apartments for apartments, hotels for hotels, farms for farms, etc. However, the true definition is again reflective more of intent than use. Accordingly, there are currently two types of property that qualify as like-kind:
– Property held for investment, and/or
– Property held for a productive use in a trade or business.
4. Exchanges must be limited to one exchange and one replacement property. (NO)
This is another exchanging myth. There are no provisions within either the Internal Revenue Code or the Treasury Regulations that restrict the amount of properties that can be involved in an exchange. Therefore, exchanging out of several properties into one replacement property or vice versa, relinquishing (selling) one property and acquiring several, are perfectly acceptable strategies.
The IRS has obtained civil injunctions against more than 100 promoters of illegal tax avoidance schemes and fraudulent return preparers in an ongoing crackdown that began in 2001. Many of the injunctions, obtained in cooperation with the Department of Justice, also order the promoters to turn over client lists and to cease preparing federal income tax returns for others.
Signaling a renewed fight against tax fraud, the federal government stepped up the use of civil power four years ago. Civil injunctions have subsequently been used to stop:
1. Abusive trusts that shift assets out of a taxpayer’s name but retain that taxpayer’s control over the assets.
2. The misuse of “Corporation sole” laws to establish phony religious organizations.
3. Frivolous “Section 861″ arguments used to evade employment taxes.
4. Claims of personal housing and living expenses as business deductions.
5. “Zero income” tax returns.
6. Abuse of the Disabled Access Credit.
7. The claim that only foreign-source income is taxable.
The IRS identifies abusive tax promoters through a variety of means, including ongoing examinations, Internet and media research or referrals from external sources such as tax professionals. If the findings of an investigation support a civil injunction, the IRS refers the case to the Department of Justice.
If the Justice Department concurs, it files suit against the promoter requesting that the court order the promoter to refrain from the fraudulent activity. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, the court may issue a temporary restraining order, a temporary injunction or a permanent injunction.
At present, the courts have issued injunctions against 99 abusive scheme promoters — 81 permanent injunctions and 18 preliminary injunctions. They have issued permanent injunctions against 17 abusive return preparers. The Justice Department has filed an additional 49 suits seeking injunction action — 28 against scheme promoters and 21 against return preparers.
The IRS is currently investigating more than 1,000 additional promoters for possible referral to the Justice Department and conducting individual examinations on thousands of tax scheme participants.
Each year, the IRS lists various scams taxpayers get caught up in. The top 2005 scams include several that manipulate laws governing charitable groups, abuse credit counseling services or rely on refuted arguments to claim tax exemptions. The agency is warning taxpayers about the growth of identity theft schemes with some particularly bold thieves even pretending to be IRS agents.
2005 Scam Highlights
1. Credit Counseling. The IRS warns taxpayers to be careful with credit counseling organizations that claim they can fix credit ratings, promote debt payment agreements or charge high fees, monthly service charges or mandatory “contributions” that may add to debt. The IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division has made auditing credit counseling organizations a priority because some of these tax-exempt organizations, which are intended to provide education to low-income customers with debt problems, are charging debtors large fees, while providing little or no counseling.
2. Identity Theft. It pays to be choosy when it comes to disclosing personal information. Identity thieves have used stolen personal data to access financial accounts, run up charges on credit cards and apply for new loans. The IRS is aware of several identity theft scams involving taxes. In one case, fraudsters sent bank customers fictitious correspondence and IRS forms in an attempt to trick them into disclosing their personal financial data. In another, abusive tax preparers used clients’ Social Security numbers and other information to file false tax returns without the clients’ knowledge. Sometimes scammers pose as the IRS itself. Last year the IRS shut down a scheme in which perpetrators used e-mail to announce to unsuspecting taxpayers that they were “under audit” and could set matters right by divulging sensitive financial information on an official-looking Web site. Taxpayers should note the IRS does not use e-mail to contact them about issues related to their accounts.
3.”Claim of Right” Doctrine. In this scheme, a taxpayer files a return and attempts to take a deduction equal to the entire amount of his or her wages. The promoter advises the taxpayer to label the deduction as “a necessary expense for the production of income” or “compensation for personal services actually rendered.” This so-called deduction is based on a misinterpretation of the Internal Revenue Code and has no basis in law.
4. “No Gain” Deduction. – Taxpayers attempt to eliminate their entire adjusted gross income (AGI) by deducting it on Schedule A. The filer lists their AGI under the Schedule A section labeled “Other Miscellaneous Deductions” and attaches a statement referring to court documents and including the words “No Gain Realized.”
5. Corporation Sole. Participants apply for incorporation under the pretext of being a “bishop” or “overseer” of a one-person, phony religious organization or society with the idea that this entitles the individual to exemption from federal income taxes as a nonprofit, religious organization. When used as intended, Corporation Sole statutes enable religious leaders to separate themselves legally from the control and ownership of church assets. But the rules have been twisted at seminars where taxpayers are charged fees of $1,000 or more and incorrectly told that Corporation Sole laws provide a “legal” way to escape paying federal income taxes, child support and other personal debts.
6. Offshore Transactions. Despite a crackdown, individuals continue to try to avoid U.S. taxes by illegally hiding income in offshore bank and brokerage accounts or using offshore credit cards, wire transfers, foreign trusts, employee leasing schemes, private annuities or life insurance to do so. The IRS continues to aggressively pursue taxpayers and promoters involved in such abusive transactions.
7. Zero Return. Promoters instruct taxpayers to enter all zeros on their federal income tax filings. In a twist on this scheme, filers enter zero income, report their withholding and then write “nunc pro tunc”– Latin for “now for then”–on the return. The IRS takes a very poor view of this tactic.
8. Employment Tax Evasion. The IRS has seen a number of illegal schemes that instruct employers not to withhold federal income tax or other employment taxes from wages paid to their employees. Such advice is based on an incorrect interpretation of Section 861 and other parts of the tax law and has been refuted in court. Recent cases have resulted in criminal convictions, and the courts have issued injunctions against more than a dozen persons ordering them to stop promoting the scheme. Employer participants can also be held responsible for back payments of employment taxes, plus penalties and interest. It is worth noting that employees who have nothing withheld from their wages are still responsible for payment of their personal taxes. The employees, however, can sue their employer for damages.
Inappropriate tax schemes come and go, so the 2005 list is fairly standard stuff with one exception. The spread of identity theft schemes is troubling, particularly when thieves pretend to act as IRS agents. The IRS does not contact people by email, so don’t fall for the scam. Be careful out there.
In this article, we will take a look at the influence the government exerts over our daily lives through our taxation, and the good and bad aspects of that influence.
Through direct spending, the U.S. government controls approximately 43-45% of the economy. Today, government spending accounts for almost as much of the economy as spending in the private sector. After the passage of the New Deal legislation, during the late 1930s, the private sector controlled almost 90% of the economy. We have experienced quite a huge change in the last 2 generations. The average American remits about 5.3 months of his or her work year in order to support government spending.
The American economy is separated into two sectors: there is one that is dependent upon federal, state, and local government spending, known as the public sector; all others known as the private sector. The private business sector is funded by tax dollars collected from Americans. What the government decides to spend and allocate is primarily funded by our tax dollars.
Government spending controls $5.4 trillion dollars of the total spending, and when you figure in the $1.4 trillion government-forced spending, the government actually controls somewhere near 58% of the economy’s national income. That is a 3.5 times increase from a hundred years ago. And the economy has been in a steady decline. The ability of private sector growth to increase has been reduced over time, thanks to the fact that the government largely governs even private sector business.
Increased government control gets a big boost from the special interest groups, and the capability of big corporate entities to lobby Congress for programs and funding, as well as changes in tax laws that benefit them alone. In addition, government-funded welfare and public assistance programs are a major contributor to the government spending programs.
The problems with government spending are not going to end anytime soon. This isn’t what our forefathers had it in mind when they broke free of oppressive British rule and penned the Declaration of Independence. Without major reforms, in the near future, we will see our children paying $25,000 each year to support an overburdened and imperious government..
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