Frozen Returns: If You Made an Extension Payment on May 17th And Haven’t Received Your Refund….

January 11th, 2022

Yesterday, a client of mine called asking about her 2020 tax refund.  I assumed she was one of the unlucky individuals whose return fell out of IRS processing and is stuck waiting to be reviewed.  However, she told me that her return didn’t even show in the IRS’s “Where’s My Refund.”   I confirmed that–and that didn’t make any sense; her return was filed on September 30th and accepted that day.

I called the IRS and discovered another reason some haven’t received their refunds.  If you made an extension payment on exactly May 17, 2021 (the last day to file a 2020 extension) and are receiving a refund, your return may have been “frozen” by the IRS computer system.  (I had my second such case today.)  I don’t know how extensive this issue is, but the representative I spoke to yesterday told me that he had dealt with “many” such cases.

Hopefully, someone at the IRS is going through frozen returns to manually unfreeze the returns without taxpayers having to call the IRS.  But if you made an extension payment on May 17, 2021 and have filed your return and have not received your refund, check IRS’s “Where’s My Refund.”  If no status at all is shown (the return does not show as still being processed), you or your representative needs to call the IRS and have the return “unfrozen.”

Tax Season (For Individuals) to Begin on January 24th

January 10th, 2022

The IRS announced today that Tax Season will begin on Monday, January 24th.  That’s the first date that electronically filed returns (and extensions) for the 2021 tax year will be accepted for individuals.  (Businesses can already file their 2021 returns.)

Do note that almost every tax professional uses software, and that some forms may not be ready until after that date.  Additionally, some state forms and state returns will not be able to be processed until after January 24th.

You should not file your return until you have all your tax paperwork.  The deadline for brokerage firms to send their 1099s is February 15th (and it is routinely extended).  If you are a partner in a partnership, a shareholder in an S-Corporation, or a beneficiary of a trust, you must wait until you receive your K-1’s.  Remember, it’s better to extend than amend.

Finally, we do not expect the deadline for individual returns to be extended from April 18th.  That means you will need to file (or file an extension) by then.

As for how this year’s Tax Season will go, expect a repeat of last year.  The IRS still has not processed all 2020 returns (but they’re through April!).  Until IRS staff is fully back at their Service Centers, there’s no reason to expect anything to change.  This is not a scenario to make any IRS stakeholder–be it a tax professional, taxpayer, or Congressman–happy.  I can state for the record that I absolutely expect the same issues with delayed processing of refunds this year.  (I have a client whose 2019 return is still stuck in limbo!)

It’s Time to Generate 2021 1099s

January 4th, 2022

It’s time for businesses to send out their annual information returns. These are the Form 1099s that are sent to to vendors when required. Let’s look first at who does not have to receive 1099s:

  • Corporations (except attorneys)
  • Entities you purchased tangible goods from
  • Entities you purchased less than $600 from (except royalties; the limit there is $10)
  • Where you would normally have to send a 1099 but you made payment by a credit or debit card

Otherwise, you need to send a Form 1099 to the vendor. The best way to check whether or not you need to send a 1099 to a vendor is to know this before you pay a vendor’s invoice. I tell my clients that they should have each vendor complete a Form W-9 before they pay the vendor. You can then enter the vendor’s taxpayer identification number into your accounting software (along with whether or not the vendor is exempt from 1099 reporting) on an ongoing basis.

Form 1099-NECs have a filing deadline of January 31, 2022 (for reporting 2021 nonemployee compensation). Form 1099-MISCs are used for all other 1099 reporting except interest, dividends, capital gains, etc. Payments of rent, royalties, advertising, crop insurance proceeds, substitute payments in lieu of dividends, attorney proceeds, other income (including gambling winnings not reportable on a Form W-2G), and nonqualified deferred compensation are just some of the items reported on a Form 1099-MISC.

Remember that besides the 1099 sent to the vendor, a copy goes to the IRS. If you file by paper, you likely do not have to file Form 1099-MISC with your state tax agency (that’s definitely the case in California). However, if you file 1099s electronically with the IRS you most likely will also need to file them electronically with your state tax agency (again, that’s definitely the case in California). It’s a case where paper filing might be easier than electronic filing.

IMPORTANT: The IRS is not sending Form 1099-NECs to state tax agencies. Thus, if you have a state filing requirement for your Forms 1099-NEC, you must separately file this with your state tax agency.

If you wish to file paper 1099s, you must order the forms from the IRS. The forms cannot be downloaded off the Internet. Make sure you also order Form 1096 from the IRS. This is a cover page used when submitting information returns (such as 1099s) to the IRS.

Note also that sole proprietors fall under the same rules for sending out 1099s. Let’s say you’re a professional gambler, and you have a poker coach that you paid $650 to last year. You must send him or her a Form 1099-NEC. Poker players who “swap” shares or have backers also fall under the 1099 filing requirement (issuing form 1099-MISC).

Remember, the deadline for submitting 1099-NECs for “Nonemployee Compensation” (e.g. independent contractors) to the IRS is now at the end of January: Those 1099s must be filed by Monday, January 31st.

Here are the deadlines for 2021 information returns:

  • Monday, January 31st: Deadline for mailing most 1099s to recipients (postmark deadline);
  • Monday, January 31st: Deadline for submitting 1099-NECs for Nonemployee Compensation to IRS;
  • Monday, February 28th: Deadline for filing other paper 1099s with the IRS (postmark deadline);
  • Tuesday, March 15th: Deadline for mailing and filing Form 1042-S; and
  • Thursday, March 31st: Deadline for filing other 1099s electronically with the IRS.

Remember, if you are going to mail 1099s to the IRS send them certified mail, return receipt requested so that you have proof of the filing.

Also note that most 1099s must be mailed to recipients. Mail means the postal service, not email. The main exception to this is if the recipient has agreed in writing to receiving the 1099 electronically. I consider this the IRS’s means of trying to keep the Post Office in business.

It’s Time to Start Your 2022 Mileage Log

January 3rd, 2022

I’m going to start the new year with a couple reposts of essential information. Yes, you do need to keep a mileage log:

Monday will be the first business day of the new year for many. You may have resolved to keep good records this year (at least, we hope you have). Start with keeping an accurate, contemporaneous written mileage log (or use a smart phone app–with periodic sending of the information to yourself to prove that the log is contemporaneous).

Why, you ask? Because if you want to deduct all of your business mileage, you must do this! IRS regulations and Tax Court rulings require this. Written is defined as ink, so that means you need a paper log or must be able to prove your smart phone log is contemporaneous.

The first step is to go out to your car, and note the starting mileage for the new year. So go out to your car, and jot down that number (mine was 117,392). That should be the first entry in your mileage log. I use a small memo book for my mileage log; it conveniently fits in the center console of my car. It’s also a good idea to take a picture of the odometer and email that picture to yourself. This will give you a time-stamp showing you accurately noted your beginning mileage.

Here’s the other things you should do:

On the cover of your log, write “2022 Mileage Log for [Your Name].”

Each time you drive for business, note the date, the starting and ending mileage, where you went, and the business purpose. Let’s say you drive to meet a new client, and meet him at his business. The entry might look like:

1/4 117400-117435 Office-Acme Products (1234 Main St, Las Vegas)-Office, Discuss requirements for preparing tax return, year-end journal entries.

It takes just a few seconds to do this after each trip, and with the standard mileage rate being $0.56/mile, the 35 miles in this hypothetical trip would be worth a deduction of $20. That deduction does add up.

Some gotchas and questions:
1. Why not use a smartphone app? Actually, you can but the current regulations require you to also keep a written mileage log. You can transfer your computer app nightly to paper, and that way you can have the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, current regulations do not guarantee that a phone app will be accepted by the IRS in an audit.

That said, if you backup (or transfer) your phone app on a regular basis, and can then print out those backups, that should work. The regular backups should have identical historical information; the information can then be printed and will function as a written mileage log. I do need to point out that the Tax Court has not specifically looked at mileage logs maintained on a phone. A written mileage log (pen and paper) will be accepted; a phone app with backups should be accepted.

2. I have a second car that I use just for my business. I don’t need a mileage log. Wrong. First, IRS regulations require documentation for your business miles; an auditor will not accept that 100% of the mileage is for business–you must prove it. Second, there will always be non-business miles. When you drive your car in for service, that’s not business miles; when you fill it up with gasoline, that’s not necessarily business miles. I’ve represented taxpayers in examinations without a written mileage log; trust me, it goes far, far easier when you have one.

3. Why do I need to record the starting miles for the year?
There are two reasons. First, the IRS requires you to note the total miles driven for the year. The easiest way is to note the mileage at the beginning of the year. Second, if you want to deduct your mileage using actual expenses (rather than the standard mileage deduction), the calculation involves taking a ratio of business miles to actual miles.

4. Can I use actual expenses? Yes. You would need to record all of your expenses for your car: gas, oil, maintenance, repairs, insurance, registration, lease fees (or interest and depreciation), etc., and the deduction is figured by taking the sum of your expenses and multiplying by the percentage use of your car for business (business mileage to total mileage driven). Note that once you start using actual expenses for your car, you generally must continue with actual expenses for the life of the car. Be careful if you (or your family) have multiple vehicles. You will need to separate out your expenses by vehicle.

So start that mileage log today. And yes, your trip to the office supply store to buy a small memo pad is business miles that can be deducted.

The 2021 Tax Offender of the Year

December 31st, 2021

It’s time once more for that (not really) most prestigious of prestigious awards, the Tax Offender of the Year.  One year I’ll find that I don’t have many deserving winners (probably the year after I retire); however, there were plenty of individuals, businesses, and organizations that strove to take down the top prize.

We’ll start with the runners-up.  Dinesh Sah of Coppell, Texas saw the Paycheck Protection Plan loans as a wonderful thing.  Let’s not take out one; let’s do 15.  And let’s make up phony employees, payroll expenses, and tax returns to get $24.8 million in loans.  He pleaded guilty in March and was sentenced in July to more than 11 years at ClubFed.

Mustafa Shalash of Hilliard, Ohio didn’t commit huge fraud.  Rather, it’s the scope and what he did that is at issue.  Mr. Shalash won a Powerball jackpot in 2015 for $1 million.  He felt that the $290,000 withheld for taxes should come back to him, so he invented $1 million of gambling losses for his 2015 tax return.  Additionally, he had foreign bank accounts, and transferred $440,000 of his winnings to one in Jordan.  Yes, he ignored the FBAR (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts).  If you are lucky enough to win a prize in the lottery, your luck will likely become public information.  It would have been a lot easier for Mr. Shalash to simply have paid the additional tax.  Instead, he’ll be paying restitution of over $250,000 and could find himself at ClubFed for up to three years.

Aaron Aqueron of Clermont, Florida is a very good promoter.  He convinced numerous individuals that just by having a mortgage (or other debt) you’re entitled to a tax refund!  Sounds great.  But what he did was state that the financial institutions withheld tax when they hadn’t.  His clients filed tax returns claiming $14.6 million in refunds, and the IRS issued $7.6 million before catching on.  Yes, mortgage interest is an itemized deduction and, yes, if you have tax withheld you get to claim that on a tax return.  But the tax must actually be withheld—a minor step that was missed.  And Mr. Aqueron only charged between $10,000 and $15,000 to his soon-to-be-audited clients.  (If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.)  Mr. Aqueron pleaded guilty earlier this month and will likely be residing at ClubFed in the near future.  Mr. Aqueron’s alleged co-conspirators will be tried in January.

Our last runners-up are a rap duo out of Detroit.  Sameerah Marrel and Noelle Brown were the “Deuces Wild” rap group.  Their rap career apparently didn’t take off, so they needed a different source of income.  They allegedly turned to tax fraud, inventing a number of trusts and purportedly noting that there was tax withheld on the trusts’ returns.  This allowed the duo to ask for $13.6 million in refunds (they received $5,539.049.28) when the actual amount of withholding was $0.  They’re facing years at ClubFed if convicted.

Coming in third place this year is Gary Hunsche of Troy, Illinois.  Mr. Hunsche owned and operated two employee leasing companies called Unique Personal Consultants and Unique Risk Management.  Mr. Hunsche faced a dilemma: How would he pay for his indoor basketball court on his new home (and other improvements to his home)?  He came up with the decidedly illegal answer: he would withhold payroll taxes but not remit $9.4 million.  It’s a wonderful scheme while it’s working, but it’s the one kind of tax fraud that will always be caught.  Sooner or later one of the employees’ returns gets looked at by the IRS, and the IRS wonders where the payroll taxes are.  He was sentenced to four years at ClubFed.

I really, really wanted to put the IRS as this year’s winner but they’re in second place.  The issues with the IRS this year are legion.  Good luck calling the IRS for assistance (you have a less than 10% chance of getting through).  Or you could be like my call earlier this week: You get in the queue, and after two hours waiting on the Practitioner line you hear, “We’re having technical difficulties.  You will be transferred back to the main number….We’re sorry, but due to extremely high call volume in the topic you’ve chosen, we cannot take your call at the present time.  Goodbye.”

Each year many returns filed with the IRS ‘fall out of processing.’  Normally, that means a one to four day delay in processing.  This year, it means at least four months.  The IRS Operations Status Page shows that as of December 18th there were 6.3 million unprocessed individual returns.  Clients are complaining, and there’s nothing I (or any other tax professional) can do.

If you filed an amended return, maybe your return will be processed within twelve months, but I wouldn’t bet on that.  The IRS Operations Page was changed to note, “The current timeframe can be more than 20 weeks instead of up to 16.”  I’m quoting 18 months (average) to my clients who have to paper-file amended returns, and I think that’s realistic.  If you can electronically file your amended return, you will shave off a few months (you’re likely looking at one year).

And then there are the IRS notices.  I had two clients receive notices stating their 2018 returns hadn’t been filed (both were electronically filed and accepted).  I called the IRS and found out that for one, it was a processing issue and my client should have received a new notice this past week (it didn’t come, so another call to the IRS is needed).  The other client never received a notice that he had to call the Identity Theft Unit.  He hasn’t been able to get through yet.

Many of my clients received notices and timely responded.  Unfortunately, while there are deadlines on taxpayers, there are no deadlines on the IRS.  I had one matter that took three years for the IRS to actually respond to our communication.  (The understaffed Taxpayer Advocate Service agreed to take the case, but the next day we received a letter from the IRS resolving the issue.)  I have another matter that has now exceeded three years (the IRS keeps sending it back and forth between their Cincinnati and Ogden offices).

I have had at least ten clients file Tax Court petitions with the IRS in 2021.  (These are the clients I know about–there could be others.)  Two of the cases involve genuine disputes related to Automated Underreporting Unit (AUR) notices and were destined to get to Tax Court.  Filing the petitions is the means to get these disputes to IRS Appeals.  The other eight are matters where the IRS never read my clients’ timely filed responses.  The IRS simply issued Notices of Deficiency, so the only method available for the taxpayers to dispute the matters was filing Tax Court Petitions.  In all of these cases, had someone read the response it is likely that the matter could have been resolved.

This is just a sampling of the disastrous status of “service” within the IRS today.  I do want to point out that I am not complaining about any of the employees I have dealt with this year.  In almost every case, the IRS employees I speak with are professional, courteous, and honestly want to resolve the matters.  The problems relate to (a) IRS top management refusing to admit to all of the problems, (b) the IRS drowning in paper (partially caused by the pandemic), (c) the Biden Administration refusing to order staff back to work at IRS Service Centers, and (d) Congress not properly funding the IRS.  Unfortunately, it will take several years for the IRS to work its way out of its current hole.  It’s time for the IRS to give accurate time-frames, extend response times to taxpayers, and for Congress to fund the IRS appropriately.

Oleg Tinkov is a Russian entrepreneur.  Like me, he is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.  By any standard he’s successful.  He founded Tinkoff Credit Systems in 2006  It’s now the second largest provider of credit cards in Russia.  In 2013, the bank went through an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange; the IPO raised $1.1 billion (coincidentally, his net worth became $1.1 billion at that time).  TCS Group, the holder of Tinkoff Bank, is officially based in Limassol, Cyprus.  Mr. Tinkov earlier formed a wholesale electronics business he later sold, a food company, a brewery, and a cycling team.  His net worth is estimated by Bloomberg at $6.9 billion and by Forbes at $7 billion.

In 1996 Mr. Tinkov became a naturalized US citizen.  In 2013, three days after the IPO Mr. Tinkov relinquished his US citizenship at the US embassy in Moscow.  When you relinquish your citizenship, you must have filed all your tax returns and complete IRS Form 8854 (Initial and Annual Expatriation Statement).  If you renounce your citizenship and your net worth is more than $2 million, you owe the expatriation tax.  The fair market value is based on you hypothetically selling all your assets the day prior to your expatriation.

Mr. Tinkov was asked about his net worth by his US-based accountant, and he told him it was less than $2 million.  Rather than admitting the truth, he used $300,000 instead of the true net worth of $1.1 billion.  There is no extradition treaty between the US and Russia, so he likely felt safe.

Two things I’ve repeatedly said over the years are, “It’s always easier to simply pay what you owe,” and, “If you’re a celebrity or someone else who is a public figure, you want to make sure your tax returns are squeaky clean.”  While Mr. Tinkov isn’t a household name, Forbes annually publishes a list of billionaires and his name has been on it.  It wouldn’t take long for someone at the IRS to wonder why only 0.027% of his net worth was noted on his Form 8854.

Unbeknownst to him, an investigation was begun.  In September 2019 he was indicted.  In February 2020 he went to London; the United Kingdom does have an extradition treaty with the US.  Mr. Tinkov was arrested.  The US sought extradition; Mr. Tinkov contested on medical grounds (he was undergoing treatment for leukemia).

On October 1, 2021, Mr. Tinkov pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return.  He paid the $248,525,339 of tax he would have had to pay back in 2013.  He also paid a $100 million fraud penalty, interest, and other penalties; the total penalties and interest added $260,415,845 to his total tax bill of $508,936,184.  Yes, he didn’t have to pay his taxes for eight years but it would have been far less costly to simply have prepared the tax returns correctly in the first place.  And half a billion in tax evasion gives Mr. Tinkov the 2021 award as Tax Offender of the Year.

That’s a wrap on 2021.  May all of you have a Happy and Healthy New Year.

2022 State Business Tax Climate Index: Bring Me the Usual Suspects!

December 17th, 2021

Yesterday, the Tax Foundation released its list of the business tax climate in the 50 states.  Not much has changed, and for those in New York, New Jersey, and California wondering why businesses are moving to Florida and Nevada, you just need to look in the mirror.  The top 10 states are:

  1. Wyoming
  2. South Dakota
  3. Alaska
  4. Florida
  5. Montana
  6. New Hampshire
  7. Nevada
  8. Tennessee
  9. Indiana
  10. Utah

There’s also a bottom 10:

41. Hawaii
42. Louisiana
43. Vermont
44. Arkansas
45. Minnesota
46. Maryland
47. Connecticut
48. California
49. New York
50. New Jersey

The best states either lack a major tax or levy all the major tax types with low rates on broad bases.  Meanwhile, the worst states share, “complex, nonneutral taxes with comparatively high rates.”  My state, Nevada, ranks 7th with low individual and property taxes but high sales and unemployment insurance taxes (corporate tax is ranked in the middle, 25th).  My former state, California, ranks in the bottom four in corporate taxes, individual taxes, and sales tax, in the middle for unemployment insurance, and above average for property tax.  The worst state, New Jersey, ranks in the bottom ten in all taxes except unemployment insurance (where it ranks below average, 32nd).

Yes, taxes aren’t everything but they’re a huge reason why my business left the Golden State and moved to the Silver State.

Dear IRS: What Part of Deceased Didn’t You Understand?

December 16th, 2021

Last year, one of our clients (call him John Smith) passed away.  I had both a Power of Attorney and Tax Information Authorizations on file with the IRS for this taxpayer.  One of the rules about representation is that when a taxpayer dies, the representation also ends.  It is up to the estate/Executor/Administrator to obtain representation after death.  When this is done, the IRS requires a new authorization sent along with IRS Form 56 and a copy of the death certificate.

Mr. Smith was estranged from his spouse (call her Jane Smith), but apparently never changed his will.  When he passed, my representation passed and I was informed by his spouse that she would be using a different tax professional.  I thanked her for notifying me, informed her of the requirements to get the representation through to the IRS, and closed our file on Mr. Smith.  I never had any IRS authorizations from Mrs. Smith.  (The Smiths were Nevada residents, so there were no state tax issues.)

A week or two later we received some IRS notices for Mr. & Mrs. Smith.  I let Mrs. Smith know, and I wrote back to the IRS noting that Mr. Smith passed away (enclosing a newspaper story of his death), and that I did not represent the estate or the heirs.  I also copied the Centralized Authorization File (CAF) unit of the IRS; they are responsible within the IRS for maintaining taxpayer authorizations. I assumed that after a couple of months I wouldn’t receive any additional notices for the Smiths.

I was wrong.

Three months later I received a notice addressed to “John Deceased Smith.”  So the IRS realized Mr. Smith had passed away (presumably by this time the Social Security Administration notified the IRS, along with my letter to the CAF unit), but my representation had still not been cancelled.  I wrote yet another letter to the IRS, and really expected that to be the end of it.

I was wrong.

Yesterday I received another notice for the Smiths; this was addressed to Jane & John Smith (the actual return for the year in question has Mr. Smith as the primary taxpayer).  Yes, the IRS knows that Mr. Smith is deceased (that has to be the reason they switched Mrs. Smith to the primary taxpayer), but continues to believe that I represent the Smiths.  I wrote yet another letter to the IRS letting them know that I do not represent Mr. Smith; that he is deceased; and that I now have no means of contacting Mrs. Smith (the email address, phone number, and mailing address for her are no longer valid).  I returned the notice to the IRS as an enclosure in my letter.

Yes, this is almost certainly a dumb error at the CAF unit.  But it illustrates the current fiasco of how the IRS handles paper: Put simply, they are not handling paper well at all.  Yet many tax returns must be filed on paper.  I’m quoting to my clients eight months for processing a timely filed original paper return and twelve to sixteen months for a paper-filed amended return.  (The IRS is currently quoting 40 weeks for processing an amended return.  That does appear to be reasonable for an electronically filed amended return but not for a paper-filed return.)  In another case I’m dealing with, the IRS lost my client’s paper-filed amended return.  (He has the return receipt that it was signed for at the IRS.)  That client will be resubmitting his amended return by paper (it is not eligible for electronic filing), and if he’s lucky it will be processed before his timely filed 2022 return in 2023.  Unfortunately, that last line is not sarcasm.

What can be done about this?  First, the IRS’s budget does need to be increased.  However, instead of the IRS prioritizing auditors looking at the middle class the priority should be fixing and upgrading the technology.  To the IRS’s credit, these issues are priorities with the agency but the IRS’s budget simply hasn’t allowed much to be done in this area.  Second, the IRS needs to start telling the truth about processing times.  Lying makes the agency look foolish (which they are right now).  Third, the IRS needs to lengthen response times.  In yesterday’s mail there were two other IRS notices, one dated November 15th and one dated November 22nd.  The deadline for responding to the November 15th notice passed before I received it!  There was no insert giving more time to respond.  Will my client get a Notice of Deficiency?  Who knows, but this is ridiculous.  Finally, it appears that the CAF unit needs remedial training in the rules for a deceased taxpayer.  That (in reality) is the least important of the issues–except that it is an illustration of what taxpayers are dealing with in today’s IRS.

Nominations Due for 2021 Tax Offender of the Year!

December 14th, 2021

In just over two weeks it will be time for me to hand out the annual Tax Offender of the Year award.  I suspect that once again there are too many deserving nominees.  If you have a suggestion, feel free to email it to me at rcfox at claytontax dot com.  Our previous winners:

2020: Robert Brockman
2019: Lawrence R. Gazdick, Jr.
2018: California’s Train to Nowhere
2017: State and Local Pension Crisis
2016: Judge Diane Kroupa
2015: Kenneth Harycki
2014: Mauricio Warner
2013: U.S. Department of Justice
2012: Steven Martinez
2011: United States Congress
2010: Tony and Micaela Dutson
2009: Mark Anderson
2008: Robert Beale
2007: Gene Haas
2005: Sharon Lee Caulder

IRS Appears to Add Requirement for Individuals to Include Statement on PPP Loan Forgiveness for 2021 Personal Returns

December 6th, 2021

On Friday, the IRS released draft instructions for Form 1040.  Buried on page 23 of the instructions (page 24 of the PDF) is the following:

Forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans

The forgiveness of a PPP Loan creates tax-exempt income, so although you don’t need to report the income from the forgiveness of your PPP Loan on Form 1040 or 1040-SR, you do need to report certain information related to your PPP Loan.

Rev. Proc. 2021-48, 2021-49 I.R.B. 835, permits taxpayers to treat tax-exempt income resulting from the forgiveness of a PPP Loan as received or accrued: (1) as, and to the extent that, eligible expenses are paid or incurred; (2) when you apply for forgiveness of the PPP Loan; or (3) when forgiveness of the PPP Loan is granted. If you have tax-exempt income resulting from the forgiveness of a PPP Loan, attach a statement to your return reporting each taxable year for which you are applying Rev. Proc. 2021-48, and which section of Rev. Proc. 2021-48 you are applying—either section 3.01(1), (2), or (3). Any statement should include the following information for each PPP Loan:

1. Your name, address, and ITIN or SSN;
A statement that you are applying or applied section 3.01(1), (2), or (3) of Rev. Proc. 2021-48, and for what taxable year (2020 or 2021) as applicable;
The amount of tax-exempt income from forgiveness of the PPP Loan that you are treating as received or accrued and for what taxable year (2020 or 2021); and
Whether forgiveness of the PPP Loan has been granted as of the date you file your return.

Write “RP2021-48” at the top of your attached statement.

As I read the instructions, this applies for any PPP loan for a sole proprietorship (Schedule C business) where there is PPP loan forgiveness in either 2020 or 2021.  So this includes people who had the loan forgiven last year!

As the IRS states, “The forgiveness of a PPP Loan creates tax-exempt income, so…you don’t need to report the income from the forgiveness of your PPP Loan on Form 1040 or 1040-SR….”  While Rev. Proc. 2021-48 states, “The IRS will publish form instructions for the 2021 filing season that will detail how taxpayers can report consistently with sections 3.01 through 3.03 of this revenue procedure,” wouldn’t the easiest and simplest method be that taxpayers must retain records of their forgiveness of their PPP loans and supply them to the IRS upon request?  Instead, we get more “make work” for tax professionals (and taxpayers) for 2021 tax returns.  It adds time to return preparation without giving IMHO the IRS any real benefit. 

The IRS Can’t Figure Out Where to Apply an Electronic Payment…Where the IRS Was Told Where to Apply It

November 30th, 2021

My client received a letter from the IRS dated November 22, 2021:

Taxpayer identification number: [redacted]
Tax Period(s): Dec. 31, 2018
Form: 1040

We received a payment of $2,002.00 on Oct. 08, 2020.

We don’t have enough information to apply this payment correctly.

Attach a clear copy of both sides of the canceled check or checks.

If the $2,002.00 you paid is for a bill you received, send a copy of the bill so we can identify the tax period. An incorrect identification could result in a bill for the period you intended to pay….

My client did indeed make this payment on October 8, 2020.  The $2,002 was for an amended 2018 return so the IRS has (already) applied it to the correct tax year.  This payment was made using IRS Direct Pay.  When you use IRS Direct Pay you must specify the tax year, the reason for the payment, and the tax form.  My client correctly noted the tax year (2018), the reason (Amended Return), and the tax form (1040X) when he paid, so the letter is nonsensical.  So why did the IRS send it when they had this information?

The real reason is that my client’s amended return (which was mailed to the IRS on October 8, 2020 and was received one week later) is sitting in a bin in the Austin Service Center waiting to be reviewed.  Yes, the IRS is more than one year behind in processing paper-filed amended returns (I recently had a client who filed eighteen months ago have his amended return processed).  I spoke to the Practitioner Priority Service yesterday (PPS) seeing if I could resolve this over the phone.  The PPS representative told me that the client’s amended return does not even show up in the IRS computer system. This is typical (unfortunately) for paper-filed amended returns.  I was told (a) don’t send another copy of the amended return, (b) respond to the letter (but without sending another copy of the amended return), and (c) you may be asked to resend the amended return if the IRS can’t find it.

Why didn’t we electronically file this amended return? You cannot electronically file pre-2019 federal amended returns; they must be paper-filed.  My client did pay electronically, and he did mail the amended return using certified mail so we are certain the return was received.

This is another IRS issue caused by the IRS’s response to the pandemic.  Yes, the IRS was not at fault for the pandemic, but the ongoing response (did you know that IRS employees are still not completely back at IRS Service Centers?) is a cause of this issue (and many others).  This is costing taxpayers time and money.  It’s also costing the IRS time and money (which means taxpayers) because (a) someone must read the response I sent and (b) my client can–and will be able to–get some penalties and interest abated once this amended return is processed (given that the IRS is at fault for the slow processing time).  This episode also makes the IRS look stupid.  My client told the IRS exactly where the payment should be applied…and the IRS still couldn’t figure it out.