Author: Lee Levy

Information Regarding the IRS Stimulus Checks

We at Hornstein Law Offices want to help our clients, friends, and family in this stressful and very uncertain time. We understand some people will be getting their stimulus checks from the government via direct deposit. Those of you who have had direct deposit for your tax refunds in the past are already set up. But for those of you who are not set up for direct deposit but want to be, the IRS has released a website you can visit and safely enter your information.


Just a little information regarding these check for those who may have forgotten or were unclear.

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Changed Due Dates and Working Remotely

CHANGED DATES FOR TAX RETURNS AND PAYMENTS

“CORRECTED” CHANGED DATES FOR TAX RETURNS AND PAYMENTS

Please note this correction to a prior announcement regarding changed dates for tax returns and payments.  Tax filings, extensions, 2019 tax payments, and first quarter 2020 estimated tax payments that had been due on April 15, have all been delayed to July 15 for both federal and California.  While California changed to July 15 the due dates for both the first and second quarter estimated tax payments for 2020, the IRS changed the date to July 15 only for the first quarter estimated payment for 2020.  The 2020 federal second quarter estimated payment remains due on June 15.  Indeed, for 2020 federal estimated tax payments, the 2nd quarter payment (due June 15) is now due before the 1st quarter payment (due July 15)! 

The link to the California due dates can be found here: https://www.ftb.ca.gov/about-ftb/newsroom/news-releases/2020-3-state-postpones-tax-deadlines-until-july-15-due-to-the-covid-19-pandemic.html

The link to the federal due dates can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/faqs/estimated-tax/individuals/individuals-2

To confirm, the changed date to July 15 applies to

1) 2019 federal and California tax return filing

2) 2019 federal and California extension filing

3) payment of 2019 federal and California taxes

4) estimated payments for 2020 taxes for the first quarter only for federal, and for the first and second quarters for California.  

Note again that the federal due date for the second quarter estimated payment for 2020 taxes remains June 15. 

Tax filings, extensions, and payments that had been due on April 15, and even estimated payments that had been due on April 15 or June 15 have all been delayed to July 15 for both fed and Cal.  

To confirm, the changed date to July 15 applies to 1) tax return filing, 2) extension filing, 3) payment of 2019 taxes, and also 4) estimated payments for 2020 taxes.  For all those filings and payments to the IRS or the Franchise Tax Board that were due April 15 and June 15, they have all been extended to July 15.  

I have been asked if the extension also applies to payroll deposits to the Employment Development (EDD), and sales tax filings and payments to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA).  The California Employment Development Department (EDD) has announced that employers statewide directly affected by COVID-19 may request up to a 60-day extension of time from the EDD to file their state payroll reports and/or deposit payroll taxes without penalty or interest. A written request for an extension must be received within 60 days from the original delinquent date of the payment or return. ( Emergency and Disaster Assistance for Employers, Statewide – March 2020, California Employment Development Department, 03/01/2020 .)

As for the CDTFA, the CDTFA has posted on its website an alert in which it advises that it has been able to make it easier for such taxpayers and feepayers to request relief from the imposition of interest and penalties. They can go through the CDTFA’s normal online process for requesting relief, they can send a letter (a link to the CDTFA’s office locations and addresses is provided), or they can call the CDTFA’s call center at 1 (800) 400-7115. ( Alert, California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, 03/12/2020 .)

Things have been changing rapidly, so if there is anything that may apply to you, please check the websites of the various governmental agencies or contact our office. 

OFFICE IS WORKING REMOTELY

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, most of my office is working remotely.  We are taking precautions to keep our clients and our office safe during this unusual time.  My office has been handling office meetings via phone and Zoom video conference.  We are able to accommodate clients with urgent matters who must come to our office by having our clients in a separate conference room that is isolated from the rest of the office.  My office can communicate with our clients through the window to the conference room and via video conference from another office at our location.  The entrance to my office is Suite 203.  The entrance to the separate room is Suite 205.  The conference room has a separate entrance to accommodate urgent meetings that cannot be handled remotely.  The room, including door handles, chairs, etc… are cleaned after a clients leave the room. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office.  If our office phone number is not answered, the call will be forwarded to another number that can be answered remotely.  If the forwarded call is not answered, please leave a message and your call will be forwarded to the appropriate staff member to return your call. 

Dirty Tax Scams

With tax season come tax scams.  Lets face it.  Scam artists are after your tax refunds and they are trying to get to your money before you do.
Here are the top tax scams we have heard of over the last couple years.
Phone scams – Criminals are targeting specific groups of people, for example, retirees.  The criminals call with threats of police arrests or license revocation in order to strong-arm many elderly people into “paying their taxes.”   The IRS does not call about taxes owed without first sending you a bill in the mail.  Be wary of phone calls demanding payment for taxes.

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TIPS FOR HIRING A TAX PREPARER

If you are looking for a professional to help you prepare your taxes, let us give you some suggestions on what to look for. There are hundreds of tax preparers out there, some make grandiose promises of large tax returns and others do not follow the rules set by the IRS. These mistakes could potentially make filing your taxes incredibly difficult and expensive. Let us help you avoid problems.
We wanted to give you some tips on finding and hiring a tax professional.
It is important to check out tax preparers carefully before hiring one. Do not fall for promises of huge refunds. It really becomes a ‘consumer, beware’ world.

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Tax Breaks for Charitable Giving

Charity fund-raising reached a peak during the holiday season.  Friends and family made donations in your name, and charities appealed for help at every corner and in every day’s mail. We wanted to give you some advice to understand the complex IRS rules.  With tax season in full swing, many charitable contributions are deductible and we want to make sure you know about them.

 

  1. Beat The Clock

Donations must be made before Dec. 31st.  If you mail a check make sure you mail it a few days early so the Postal Service has time to postmark the envelope.  A donation made by credit card is deductible in the year the charge is incurred even though you may not pay the bill until the following year.

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Stress Management

Halloween is over and the holiday season is here. Family will be visiting, preparing decadent holiday meals will begin and stressful holiday shopping will come along.  Let us help ease some of the stress that you will no doubt experience. You may not be able to avoid the stress that comes with the holiday season, but you should be better prepared to control it and hopefully ease a little of it.

We all know stress is a part of life.  You cannot avoid it.  But you can try to avoid the situations that cause the stress, and you can learn how to control the stress and your response to it.

The first step is to know your own coping strategies.  What are productive ways that you cope with a stressful situation?  Let’s highlight those coping strategies and make the best of them.  A ‘Stress Journal’ may help.  You can record stressful events, your initial response to the event and stress, and how you coped with the situation.  Once you know what is causing your stress, try making changes in your life that will help you avoid stressful situations.  Here are a few ideas that may help.

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Celebrities Update Their Estate Plans Too

I’m sure everyone knows who Britney Spears is.  She is a famous pop star, has a Vegas Residency that rakes in millions of dollars?  Sound familiar??

Ms. Spears had an estate plan prepared for her a long time ago.  She probably has managers and attorneys who drafted legal docs before she ever got married or had kids.  It was recently in the news that she is making changes.  Her Will and other docs were written a while ago and now need a tune-up.  She has two boys, who will soon be teenagers.

Previously, Ms. Spear’s estate plan stated that when she passes her children would inherit everything.  That’s pretty standard in estate planning documents.

The issue with a Will or estate docs that were drafted a long time ago is that they can become outdated.  In the case of Ms. Spears her documents were drafted and didn’t include any distribution stipulations for a child’s inheritance, should she have any.  Now she has two sons, Sean and Jayden, who would inherit her entire fortune.  Ms. Spears net worth is around 200 million dollars.  Its not the wisest decision to open the vault to 18-year-olds all at once.

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