Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bally Price Holdings Management about The Ultimate Money Question: What Do I Really Want to Do with My Money?

Financial planners often help people how to manage investment or to save for retirement; but rarely do they provide a more comprehensive answer to the question: What do I really want to do with my money? Which could be asking ultimately: What should I do with my money? Taking in consideration all that a person is and what he or she wants in life, the “financial life planner” (a relatively new breed of financial planners) can help find the answers.

This new financial specialty helps people explore personal values and take a life-centered approach to financial planning by allocating resources not only for the future but also for the present-day life goals. This is not an easy task, especially with small-business owners whose life revolves around their business and have to luxury of time or even the desire to discover the things that provide meaning to their life.

Justin Krane, president of Krane financial solutions in Los Angeles, CA asks such questions in order to find out what people are really planning for in the present and during their retirement. He says that “most small-business owners' net worth is invested in their business, so we need to get them to look at diversifying their assets."

The sort of questions Krane asks includes the following:

- What kind of activity makes you happy the most?
- If you were the richest person, what would you do with your money?
- If you had another five to 10 years to live and didn't know when you will die, what would you do with your life?
- What is the responsibility you would be willing to give up?

The answers to these questions help Krane determine what is important to the client and what their values are. "Until you know where you want to go, I cannot g help you get there. Financial life planning is all about how to make your life better with your money."

Most people work all their lives trying to make as much money as they could. Yet, they have never thought of when they would stop “making money” and start “enjoying” their money. Neither have they really thought what they will do with their money that will bring them the most satisfaction in relation to what they believe is important in life and to the values. Financial life planning allows people to properly transition form an active business life into one in retirement while still holding on to certain challenges that make life more enjoyable while keeping them active in body, mind and heart.

Marty Kurtz, founder of The Planning Center in Moline, conducts group discussions on financial life planning in order to help people integrate business realities with what the mind and heart see. They talk about whether they should share profits with employees or whether to purchase a yacht or re-invest the money into the business. “They're decisions of the mind and heart, made as a reflection of what we value. Money is not a destination. It's a vehicle to get to a destination," Kurtz says.

It seems that this way of looking at life and at investment will catch on among many people as we see more individuals and organizations reaching out to more people than ever before. Money is no longer just a tool for gaining personal or family success it used to be seen or valued in the past. Even in the more traditional institutions, particularly in socialist governments or in the old-moneyed families, sharing of profits or a more equitable distribution of the wealth has gradually become an important investment goal. 

Michael Kay, president of Financial Focus in Livingston, N.J., is aware that every person has a money biography that determines how they make financial decisions. It is, therefore, essential to “understand what motivates financial behaviors in order to change them, if needed.”

Kay explains farther, "If I'm working with someone who grew up during the Depression, they don't spend a dime because the Depression is in their DNA. Or they spend every dime because once they have money, they are never going to feel that way again. If you have someone who can't keep a dollar in their pocket, what are the chances that any financial plan will work unless they change their behavior?"

People who have had early traumatic experiences related to money in their lives soon realize how their present attitudes toward money and investment have been influenced by those experiences.  Talking about money in a more relaxed and objective manner allows people to discover hidden resources in their minds and hearts that will improve the way they will plan their lives from that point on.

Small-business owners are particularly at home taking business risks but not outside of work as they find it hard to give up control over matters. Showing people to understand “what money means to someone is key to successful financial planning,” Kay explains.

Financial life planning, as we see it developing in the short time we have come to know it, will provide a more balanced outlook and a clearer avenue for people wherein they can accept change and realize the potential for personal growth and for greater satisfaction in life.

Friday, August 29, 2014

BP Holdings Tax Management on Taxes and their Original Intents

Tax is designed to generate enough revenue to sustain essential public service, such as public safety, civil infrastructure for communication and transportation and basic health services. When you see a government hospital, you know your taxes support the upkeep of that institution. And when you see soldiers fighting in battlefields, you can be sure tax money went into training them and keeping them fit and equipped to preserve our national security.

As essential as tax is to our national existence, many do not know the true value of what taxes can do other than what we have mentioned above. Here are some generally unknown facts about taxes and what you need to do to make full use of their benefits:

1. Taxes should not favour one group over another

Taxes are intended to be neutral and must not cater to any one sector or group of people over another. Neither should it impose or interfere with individual decision-making.

What this signifies is that taxes, as they were originally conceived, had an altruistic purpose meant to benefit people equally without favoring any individual or any societal unit. It is a fund to provide services and public amenities for all people alike. So, whether you earn only so much or make millions, you walk or drive over the same road or bridge that taxes helped to build. We cannot discount the goodwill and welfare taxes have brought to both ancient and modern societies.

Pay your taxes so you can enjoy them

2. Taxes must be predictable

In order for a government to function well, it must have some stability in terms of its fiscal health. Without the necessary funds to run a government, chaos would ensue. And so, taxes must flow into a state’s coffers at a regular schedule and at a reasonably predictable amount or the oil will run out at a time when the engine of progress badly needs it.

Now, we understand why the state imposes and does not merely request that taxes be paid at a particular time of the year. Why April for many countries? It is the time of the year when people have probably paid off last year’s debts or recovered from the expenses of the holiday season in the previous year. It is also the time when most parents have extra cash because their children are on school vacation. Unfortunately, it is also the time when many people want to spend a vacation. So, it is either you pay your tax or spend a nice vacation during spring for most people.

3. Taxes must be simple

Assessment and computation of tax and determination should be easily understood by the average taxpayer. But this has been forgotten by tax officials in recent years. It has not only become more complex in terms of schedule as the tax calendar seems to unending nowadays, it has also become so hard to decipher through the many pages now incorporated in the tax return. The best thing to do, if you have extra cash is to let an accountant do your tax.

4. Taxes must not be forced but enforced to encourage voluntary compliance

The key is convenience. As much as possible, it is the tax officials’ duty to encourage voluntary compliance among taxpayers through creative implementation without making people feel they are being harassed or unduly burdened. Ordinary taxpayers have to go through a lot of stress figuring out forms and lining up to pay their tax. Perhaps, a more convenient way can be implemented using modern technology and the banking system. If we can pay bills in malls or online now, why cannot tax be paid in the same way?

5. Taxes earmarked for specific purposes must result in direct benefits

Certain taxes, such as gasoline tax for road maintenance, must be dedicated to the particular purpose they were intended based on a direct cost-benefit link. Today, much of the corruption in government circles arise from misappropriating taxes or diverting them from their intended purposes, thus, losing sight of the original intent of the tax.

What can the taxpayer do to prevent these things from happening? Aside from joining protest rallies or talking to your congress representative, you can actually form or join small groups that could create awareness among people through the media or Internet. This is already being done on Facebook and Twitter. How effective it is may be hard to measure; but time will come when a critical mass of concerned people will have a force of a virtual army that can change the tide of events in a society.

Inevitable as taxes may be, enjoying their ultimate benefits can be a much better motivation that spending our time looking for ways to avoid them.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

BP Holdings Tax Management about Defending the IRS

Investigations of the IRS are taking place not only in Congress but also in court. One case, which has developed slowly since it was filed in 2010, reveals much about both the long reach of the agency and the interwoven nature of the broader federal bureaucracy.

Defending IRS commissioner John Koskinen against the claims of the pro-Israel group Z Street is Andrew Strelka — and before joining the Department of Justice’s civil-trial section, Strelka worked at the IRS for Lois Lerner, who was then the agency’s head of exempt organizations. As it happens, this is the very IRS division at which the mistreatment of Z Street is alleged to have occurred — and Strelka worked there at the very time Z Street’s application for tax-exempt status was being considered.

Scott Coffina, a partner at the Washington, D.C. law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath and a former Justice Department prosecutor says Strelka’s representation could violate Washington, D.C.’s rules of professional conduct for lawyers in “several” ways, in particular the rule that prohibits a lawyer from representing a client in a matter where “The lawyer’s professional judgment on behalf of the client will be or reasonably may be adversely affected” by his personal interests. “If Mr. Strelka was involved in the targeting of conservative groups,” Coffina says, “it is hard to imagine that he can give dispassionate advice. He would have a tough time evaluating the merits of the plaintiff’s case and advising his client on strategies in the litigation. He seems to have a personal conflict of interest.”

Another rule proscribes attorneys from participating in cases in which they might be called as witnesses, though Coffina explains that to be called as a witness and Strelka’s testimony would have to be necessary to the case. “The government might be able to get around it and keep the lawyer in place in there is another IRS employee available to testify on what the lawyer might testify to himself,” he says.

Z Street founder Lori Lowenthal Marcus tells National Review Online of the situation: “Nothing surprises me.”

She filed the group’s application for tax exemption in 2009, and Z Street, whose mission is to educate people about Zionism, sued the IRS for alleged violations of its First Amendment rights the following year. According to Marcus, an IRS employee told her Z Street’s application was sent to Washington for extra scrutiny because the group was “connected with Israel” and expressed opposition to the Obama administration’s foreign policy. (An IRS agent subsequently told the House Oversight Committee that the applications of pro-Israel groups were considered “specialty cases” and routinely sent to an antiterrorism unit for extra screening.) Though the IRS has attempted since 2010 to get the case thrown out of court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson ruled in late May that it will move forward, and the agency will have to defend itself in court. Z Street has yet to receive its tax-exempt status.

While at the IRS, documents indicate, Strelka was kept abreast of the agency’s targeting practices. He is one of 14 employees who received an e-mail from agency attorney Ronald Shoemaker on March 17, 2010, instructing them to “be on the lookout for a tea party case.” Shoemaker told the group that if they received any applications “involving an exemption for an organization having to do with tea party [sic], let me know.” Status reports from July and September 2010 tracking the progress of particular applications show that Strelka was handling a case that had been designated to Group 7825, which at the time handled tea-party applications.

Strelka — who did not respond to an e-mail seeking an interview — was working at the IRS as a part of the Presidential Management Fellows Program, a two-year program that aims to groom government leaders in part by placing participants in jobs throughout the federal government. According to his LinkedIn profile, after completing his two years at the IRS, Strelka left for the Justice Department’s civil-trial section in August 2010 and was detailed in the White House Counsel’s office for seven months, from last December until June.

Friday, July 25, 2014

BP Holdings Tax Management - Balley Price Holdings : Call For Uk Taxman To Hire More It Experts

Revenue & Customs needs better in-house skills to cope when its current £7.9bn IT contract expires in 2017, the spending watchdog has said.
The National Audit Office said the tax authorities needed more expertise to challenge suppliers over their performance and value for money.
It said the Aspire contract had brought benefits but contractors had made much larger profits than envisaged.
Revenue & Customs said it had become "less dependent" on outside knowledge.
Aspire is the government's largest IT project, with expenditure of £7.9bn between July 2004 and March 2014.
Under a contract agreed by the last Labour government, French IT firm Capgemini and its subcontractors maintain and operate Revenue & Customs (HMRC) tax systems as well as providing other ICT services such as computers, telephony, printing and networking.
'Too accommodating'
In its first review of the contract for eight years, the NAO said it had helped improve the agency's operational capability, enabling more tax and VAT returns to be submitted online and reducing fraud and error.
While the contract had helped bring in higher tax yields and deliver significant cost savings, it said, the tax authorities had been "overly dependent" on the technical capability of its suppliers, limiting their ability to manage the contract and secure commercial benefits.
It suggested there was evidence that HMRC's relationship with Capgemini and other firms had become "too accommodating" and had "ceased to offer performance challenge or to create price tension".
It said Capgemini and its major subcontractors, including Fujitsu, had made £1.2bn in total profits from the contract so far, double the level that had been modelled in 2004.
The suppliers' profit margins, while not out of line with the industry average, were higher than anticipated as the contract had been extended and more work awarded, it said.
New model
While acknowledging that steps had been taken to build up HMRC's internal IT resources, such as the hiring of a new digital director, it said there were still "significant gaps" in its expertise.
Since coming to power in 2010, the coalition government has insisted that Whitehall departments work with a wide range of contractors to drive competition and innovation and that contracts were not automatically extended.
The NAO said the Aspire contract was "no longer consistent" with this model, but while HMRC and Capgemini had agreed to make changes to the contract in 2012, it warned that there had been "limited success" so far.
It said HMRC faced a "considerable challenge" in reforming the contract while also developing a successor programme from 2017 that would "modernise and digitise" tax-collection systems while also ensuring value for money and guaranteeing levels of service to the public.
"HMRC faced complex, long-term technology challenges, and Aspire provided an appropriate means of working through them and limiting risk," said Amyas Morse, the head of the NAO.
"However, there has been a lack of rigour in HMRC's commercial management of the contract. It is essential in any contract that the client retains the independent expertise to challenge the supplier."
Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the cross-party Commons Public Accounts Committee, said the handling of the IT contract had been "unacceptably poor".
"It is deeply depressing that once again a government contract has proved better value for the private companies involved than for the taxpayer," she said.
HMRC said Aspire was one of the largest outsourced contracts in the world and had helped to generate tax yields of more than £500bn to the Exchequer last year while providing a range of other services.
"The NAO recognises the progress that HMRC has made over the last two years in developing in-house technical skills, so that we are less dependent on external suppliers," a spokesman said.
"For instance, we recently opened a new digital delivery centre in Newcastle as part of our digital transformation programme.

"We will continue to improve the performance of the contract over the next three years."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BP Holdings Tax Management- Balley Price Holdings : Treasury To Lower 55% Tax On Death Benefits

The government has confirmed that it will review the tax charge on pension funds held in a drawdown product at death or uncrystallised after age 75, stating the current rate of 55 per cent may be too high when the new freedoms come into force in April 2015.
The Treasury will continue to consider the options for altering the rate and will confirm its intention as part of the Autumn Statement.
Its final rules on pension freedoms, published yesterday (21 July), state: “Discussions with a wide range of stakeholders on this issue have confirmed the view that the 55 per cent charge is too high, and needs to be changed.
“However, this is a complex area and any changes have the potential for unforeseen and unintended consequences.”
Dave Roberts, senior consultant at Towers Watson said: “The government is continuing to mull over whether, or more likely how far, to cut the 55 per cent tax that applies to income drawdown pension pots when the pension saver dies.
“Without this, terminally ill pensioners who have already accessed tax-free cash may feel they need to rush to withdraw the remaining balance from their pension so that it is only taxed at their marginal rate and not more punitively.”
Andrew Tully, pensions technical director at MGM Advantage, said: “Care needs to be taken as this won’t change until April 2015, so a tax charge of 55 per cent remains for any deaths before then where benefits have been taken.”
“Taking benefits in phases remains a tax efficient approach so speaking to a professional financial adviser will help people understand the most suitable approach for their circumstances.”
Standard Life previously called for the flat rate tax on so-called ‘death benefits’ to be moved in line with inheritance tax to make them fairer. The 55 per cent tax charge applies in two situations where a lump sum is paid out, most commonly with a self invested personal pension, according to Standard Life.
Where a person dies, aged over 75, the 55 per cent tax charge applies to the whole fund, regardless of whether the customer had taken any withdrawals from their pension yet or not.

Where a person dies before the age of 75 and had started to take withdrawals, it applies to the part of the pension which has been touched, known as ‘the crystallised fund’.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

BP Holdings Tax Management: Prosecutions against tax evaders to rise as taxman tightens fraud rules

Accountants argue changes to the way tax fraud is investigated will lead to more prosecutions against tax evaders

A rule change quietly introduced by HM Revenue & Customs has blocked people accused of tax fraud from trying to clear their names before a criminal or civil investigation is launched.

Previously taxpayers who believed they were innocent had the option to co-operate with HMRC and were invited to supply evidence to support their innocence.

But this option has been phased out. Instead individual’s have two options: either admit or deny the allegations made. Those who plead ‘not guilty’ will be investigated straight away, which could lead to a prison sentence.

During the investigation the taxman will be able to obtain information from third parties, including banks, credit card providers, employers and other government agencies such as the Land Registry.

Accountants warned the move will lead to a “significant” increase in the number of criminal prosecutions against tax evaders, which has already been rising at an alarming pace in recent years as HMRC toughens up its approach to tax collection.

A total of 165 people were jailed in 2010, but in 2013 the number had jumped to 1,165. The rise coincides with HMRC hiring an extra 200 tax investigators over the past three years, taking the total headcount above 1,600.

Andrew Watt, a partner at Watt Busfield Tax Investigations, said: “Prohibiting taxpayers from denying the suspected tax fraud and co-operating with the revenue’s enquiries will only lead to one thing – a significant rise in the number of prosecutions.

“The taxman is determined to catch the tax evaders and rightly so, but my concern is that people who believe they are innocent will be worried out of their minds as they will subjected to a criminal investigation that cannot be fought until it goes to the courts.”

Other accountants also flagged concerns that innocent taxpayers will face unnecessary stress.

James Bullock, of tax firm Pinsent Masons, said: “Those who want to deny the claims made will be unduly stressed in facing what is now a very unfair process. It is a subtle tactic but one which fits in with the new tougher regime the taxman is carrying out, which will inevitably lead to more criminal prosecutions.”

Cases that could result in a prison sentence mainly involve cases of obvious tax fraud, such as undeclared taxable income and gains in offshore accounts. Individuals who use undisclosed tax avoidance arrangements are also targeted.

A spokesman for HMRC said the rule change has been made to make the tax system easier to understand.

"Removal of the denial option does not adversely impact anyone who believes they have nothing to disclose. This is about streamlining our approach to evasion and making the tax system more transparent. It makes things simpler for those who want to bring their affairs up to date while making things harder for committed tax cheats,” the spokesman said.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

BP Holdings Tax Management, Balley Price Holdings: How I Dodged a Phony IRS Tax Scam

One morning last week when I answered the phone, a woman at the other end of the line told me she was with the IRS and that I was being investigated. My immediate reaction was panic. But as the caller started telling me why I supposedly was in trouble, I quickly realized that scammers -- not the IRS -- were targeting me.

Before I recount the conversation, let me emphasize that the best course of action to take when a scammer calls is to hang up. Period. I stayed on the line out of professional curiosity. I hoped to gain more insight into the nature of the con that I could share with Kiplinger readers -- and I did. Here's how I recognized the scam.

The woman on the phone told me that a variety of charges were being filed against me for failing to pay taxes and attempting to defraud the IRS. She asked if I had a criminal attorney to represent me. "No," I answered. Then she said I owed $4,000. None of what she was saying added up, but it was easy to see how her accusations and efforts at intimidation could rattle many an unsuspecting taxpayer.

I was fortunate because I knew that what the woman was saying sounded familiar to a scam I had written about in November 2013, IRS Warns of a New Phone Scam. The IRS had issued a warning that scammers were calling people, telling them that they owed money and threatening that they would be arrested if they didn't pay. To resolve the issue, victims typically were being told to pay the money owed to the IRS through a pre-loaded debit card or a wire transfer. But the scammer didn't get that far with me.

From past run-of-the-mill dealings with the IRS and articles I've written for Kiplinger, I knew that the IRS initiates contact with taxpayers by mail, not by phone. And I knew that if I truly were being audited, the process would have begun with a letter and that I would've been asked to supply the IRS with records. I certainly wouldn't be charged with anything before actually having an opportunity to make a case for any questionable items on a tax return.

So I asked the woman if the IRS had attempted to contact me by mail. She said it had. I followed up by asking to what address letters had been sent. She rattled off my former address. When I told her that wasn't my current address and that I had received other correspondence recently from the IRS (tax forms, not audit notifications) at my current address, she hung up.

I felt victorious but realized how easily someone without my knowledge of tax scams could have been duped. Tax fraud often tops the Federal Trade Commission's list of biggest identity-theft complaints. And the IRS sees countless scams meant to trick taxpayers into revealing personal information.

That's why it's important to be aware of tell-tale signs of IRS-related scams:

Callers claiming to be IRS agents. As I mentioned above, the IRS initiates contact with taxpayers by mail, not by phone. If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS, don't reveal any personal information or credit-card information because the IRS doesn't ask for payments over the phone. Instead, hang up and call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to see if an agent has a legitimate need to contact you.

Unsolicited e-mails from the IRS. Not only will the IRS not initiate contact with taxpayers by phone, but also it won't use e-mail, text messages or social media. So do not reply to unsolicited e-mails or messages supposedly from the IRS, open any attachments (which could contain viruses) or click on any links (which could take you to a fraudulent Web site). Forward all suspect e-mails to phishing@irs.gov.

By Cameron Huddleston

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Beware of tax refund scam

An email scam that claims you are getting a refund from Revenue Canada had callers swamping an RCMP anti-fraud hotline Thursday.

“The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is presently inundated with the Revenue Canada email scam,” said a recorded message Thursday.

The message warned to “please stay vigilant and delete this email ASAP.”

An email received by a Windsor Star reporter Thursday suggested she was eligible to receive a refund of $651.44. It had a logo with a red maple leaf that said Agence du Revenu du Canada. It gave a link to update personal information within three days.

The Canada Revenue Agency has warned that it does not request personal information of any kind from a taxpayer by email, won’t leave any personal information on an answering machine and would not give taxpayer information to another person without formal authorization from the taxpayer. It also warns that it only sends payments by direct deposit or a cheque and never by an email money transfer.

“Taxpayers may receive, either by telephone, mail or email, a communication that claims to be from the Canada Revenue Agency but it is NOT,” says a notice warning people to beware of fraudulent communications.

The scams or phishing attempts want personal information such as social insurance numbers, credit card or bank account information and passport numbers so people can supposedly receive a refund or benefit payment and the scam may link to a website that resembles Revenue Canada’s website, the agency said. Taxpayers should not respond to these “fraudulent communications.”

In a bulletin on tax scams, the anti-fraud centre said the scams either suggest you have a pending refund or you or your company owe back taxes and need to pay up through a money service businesses or prepaid debit/credit cards to avoid a fine.

The anti-fraud centre said do not take immediate action. You could call Revenue Canada to see if you have a refund or owe back taxes. Some tips to spot such scams include asking yourself why you are being asked to include information that would not be on your tax return or why the Canada Revenue Agency would ask for personal information that it would already have on file.

If you gave personal information through the link in the email, call 1-888-495-8501 or visit http://www.antifraudcentre.ca. The anti-fraud centre also suggests contacting local police for fraud related matters.

The Canada Revenue Agency has examples of fraudulent letters and emails on its website at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca and you can read more information about tax management at BP Holdings Tax Management.

Monday, July 7, 2014

BP Holdings Tax Management: Financial Tips that turn into Savings

Three top piece of financial advice — from building a college fund to protecting yourself from cybercrime

Purchases that turn into savings

Sometimes you have to spend money to make money, says Meg Favreau at U.S. News & World Report. While frugal shoppers might fret over purchases, some can actually save money in the long run. If you live in an area where it's feasible to forgo a car, buying a bike or transit pass will save thousands in car expenses each year. And with monthly cable bills averaging around $123, a one-time investment in a TV-streaming device like Apple TV, Roku, or Amazon Fire can add up to thousands in annual savings. For caffeine addicts, an espresso machine is a smart buy. While one "can cost anywhere between $100 and $1,200," the initial investment will pay off down the road. Just think: "If you buy a $4 latte 250 days of the year, that's $1, 000," and you still won't have coffee on weekends.

How to build a college fund

If you're planning to send a child to college someday, start saving now, says Dan Caplinger at Daily Finance. One of the best tools for building a college fund is a tax-advantaged 529 plan, which allows you to put away cash "on a tax-deferred basis, meaning that even if the investments you select pay interest, dividends, or other forms of income, you won't have an immediate tax bill." And if the money pays for educational expenses — tuition, fees, or housing — even the withdrawals are tax-exempt. Contribution limits vary from state to state, but most 529 plans have caps of between $235,000 and $400,000. That's enough to "give most families all the flexibility they need to save for their children's college education."

Protect yourself from cybercrime

Your PIN isn't the only number you need to keep safe, says Adam Levin at Credit.com. These days, data breaches are a "certainty in life." But credit card numbers, email addresses, and passwords aren't the only things hackers are "gunning for." Phone numbers, significant dates — like birthdays and graduation dates — Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers, and even IP addresses can all be exploited by identity thieves. The best defense is to avoid posting sensitive data online whenever possible. But as cybercrime becomes a fact of life, "the smartest thing you can do is assume the worst" and be vigilant about monitoring your accounts, bank statements, and credit reports for signs of fraud.

For more Information just visit Balley Price Holdings

Sunday, July 6, 2014

BP Holdings Tax Management: 3 Tips For Tax Attys To Avoid Jail Time

Balley Price Holdings - Although it may be too late for Paul Daugerdas, the former Jenkens & Gilchrist PC boss who was sentenced to prison on Wednesday for orchestrating the largest known tax fraud scheme in American history, other attorneys can still take precautions to ensure they don't find the same fate.

Daugerdas was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison for his role as the mastermind behind the $7 billion scheme, which certified tax law specialist Sanford Millar said was clearly designed to be illegal.

"The simple axiom is 'don't be a crook,'" he told Law360. "What we had is clearly criminal conduct on the part of Daugerdas, who is not only cheating the Internal Revenue Service but is also cheating his partners. The guy was just a bad man, so when you begin with the premise that people are willing to engage in criminal conduct, there's nothing that needs to be stated besides 'don't be a crook,' other than 'don’t get caught.'"

Prosecutors say Daugerdas created and implemented four tax shelters for wealthy clients that resulted in over $7 billion worth of fraudulent tax deductions or benefits. He personally reaped $95 million from the scheme, according to the government.

In addition to the prison time, U.S. District Judge William Pauley III also ordered Daugerdas to pay $164.7 million in forfeiture and $371 million in restitution. Prosecutors had requested a punishment of at least 20 years in prison, while Daugerdas argued he should serve no more than 30 months.

Daugerdas began his career at accounting firm Arthur Andersen LLP in 1975. He worked there as a tax partner until 1994, when he was forced to resign amid concerns that he had secretly diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to himself, prosecutors said.

Whether you're running an office like Daugerdas or just learning the ropes as a summer associate, lawyers and professors told Law360 that tax attorneys can take some simple precautions to help avoid trouble.

o   Mind Your Fee Structure

In tort cases, it is common for attorneys to bill their clients based on how much money they are able to recover. For tax help, however, the arrangement might occur a bit too often.

"There's all this talk of moving away from the hourly fee," said Robert Rosen, who teaches professional responsibility at the University of Miami School of Law. "In these arrangements, Jenkens was paid a percentage of the profits made by the client. That aligns the incentives of the client with the incentives of Jenkens."

The problem with that alignment is that it leads to a lack of independence, Rosen says, which opens the door for a potentially illegal decision.

But regardless of fee, Millar says that a lawyer with a specific tax scheme needs to find some ethical way to cover the research and development costs.

"Contingencies themselves are not inherently evil," said Millar, who practices in Los Angeles. "The question is whether they're reasonable. To state that one species of contingency fee is evil and the other isn't is an academic exercise."

o   Don't Bank on Reputation

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, tax shelters were very crude, said Brooklyn Law School professor Steven Dean, who used to practice at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. Much has changed from the days of a few doctors buying a hotel at an inflated price for the tax break.

"It was very silly in a way, very '70s. The recent tax shelters like this one, you have Nobel Prize winners and big, fancy law firms that are involved in these transactions, and they still lose," he said. "I think there was a time when people had enough degrees or had a plush enough office, they couldn't lose."

Dean said that times have changed, largely because the courts hear these cases with an increased level of skepticism. Judges no longer take a taxpayer's word for granted, so the taxpayer's lawyer shouldn't either.

"Here we have a very fancy, pedigreed taxpayers and lawyers involved in a transaction that turns out to be categorized as a tax shelter," Dean said. "The key takeaway from this recent wave of tax shelters is that pedigree is no defense."

o   Beware the Black Box

In a black box agreement, the client agrees to keep any dealings with the lawyer confidential, turning the one-way confidentiality agreement between attorney and client into a bilateral deal.

"One thing a professional should know is that any remedy where you can't describe how it works is dangerous," Rosen said. "A young attorney who sees that's what their bosses are doing, that should be a marker that something is going on. There are no secret ways to engage in tax savings except ones that are questionable, and that's what went on during this period at Jenkens."

In and of itself, a confidentiality agreement can be suggestive of a conspiracy, Millar said.

"I would counsel against those devices," he said. "They not only have the optics to be terrible, but if sought to be enforced would prove to be unenforceable and conceivably the subject of an uncovered malpractice claim, being an intentional act to engage in a conspiracy to commit a crime."

Friday, July 4, 2014

BP Holdings Tax Management, Balley Price Holdings: IRS makes it easier to get tax-deductible donations

It's hard to argue against tax simplification, but the Internal Revenue Service might have made it too easy for people and groups to set up tax-exempt charities.

On Tuesday, the IRS announced a streamlined form that small charities can begin using immediately to apply for 501(c)(3) status, which exempts them from paying taxes and lets them accept tax-deductible contributions.

The new Form 1023-EZ is three pages long, compared with 12 pages (plus individualized schedules) for the existing Form 1023. Most organizations with gross receipts of $50,000 or less and assets of $250,000 or less can use the short form. Certain types of organizations, including schools and hospitals, cannot use it. The IRS estimates that up to 70 percent of applicants will qualify to use the new form.

The long form requires charities to provide three or four years worth of detailed financial data and attach numerous documents, such as their articles of incorporation and a narrative describing their activities.

The short form requires no financial details and merely asks applicants to check boxes saying they have certain documents rather than providing them.

"It's almost like you are filling out a library card" application, said Tim Delaney, president and chief executive of the National Council of Nonprofits.

The council has been urging the IRS to review and streamline the long form. But the short form goes "too far too fast, representing radical departures from proven protocols," it said in a letter to the Office of Management and Budget.

Public trust

The group worries the short form will reduce public trust in charities by letting unqualified groups slip through the cracks.

"People who are working as telemarketers can file easy paperwork, go waltzing through this loophole, and the IRS will never know because the IRS is not requiring anyone to submit any backup paperwork," Delaney said.

Many state charity regulators also opposed the short form.

In a previous survey, state regulators "uniformly believed that collecting less information in the initial application for tax exemption on an assumption that an organization that begins small will remain small invites abuse and results in overall regulatory inefficiency," the National Association of State Charity Officials said in a letter to the budget office.

While the form "clearly needs to be redesigned and streamlined," it also serves an "important educational purpose," the letter said. It forces an organization to think deeply about its "activities, finances and management" and better understand the "comprehensive regulatory regime" it is about to enter. The association said the educational benefits "are especially important for small organizations. And we do not belive that a significantly shorter Form 1023 could provide a comparable level of these benefits."

States are also concerned that they will face an increased regulatory burden. "If the IRS is doing less screening, it will fall to the states," says Eric Gorovitz, a principal with San Francisco law firm Adler Colvin, which specializes in nonprofits.

State charity regulators, most of whom are attorneys general, are supposed to make sure that donations are used as intended.

State tax authorities also rely on the IRS. If it issues a determination letter that exempts a charity from federal taxes, the California Franchise Tax Board will exempt it from state taxes as well.

The federal exemption "used to be backed by all this review," Gorovitz said. "One concern is that (states) might lose confidence in the meaning of the federal determination letter."

Regulators and charity groups say the IRS created the new form without seeking their input. When an attorney discovered the form in a filing with the budget office and circulated it, the IRS listened to comments and agreed to make some changes. It lowered the gross receipts threshold to $50,000 from $200,000 in its original form, which reduced the number of charities eligible to use the short form.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Balley Price Holdings Management: Used to be that paying lower tax was considered commendable for it ended up reducing burden on state – Today, it’s more like an insult

Ponder this: About 80% of above 50 years of ages will get lower than £155 weekly. It was inevitable that some will win and some will lose when the fresh flat-rate weekly state pension of £155 was applied.

The Government had vowed it would not cost the nation more than that. Hence, if several individuals will end up getting much more than the present state payout of £113.10, surely the extra money would have to come from other sources.

But the announcement has been consistently clear: Anyone who has paid the amount required by the National Insurance of 35 years of contributions will receive a weekly pension of £155. However, our evaluation of the small print on the new flat-rate has shown this to be untrue.

About 80% of over-50-year-old citizens who have faithfully paid their regular National Contributions all their life will end up receiving below £155 each week.

Why? Because at a certain time they were in a final-salary program and were contracted out of the State Second Pension — a plan that permitted employees to jack-up their state retirement payout. Since they chose out of these extra payments, workers were allowed to pay a lower rate of National Insurance contributions of 10.6% and not 12%.

The justification from the present Government is that these workers should not receive or claim the new higher basic state retirement pay for having paid lower tax then. This is in spite of the fact that, in the present administration, they would have been eligible for the full amount of basic state pension.

It certainly is a frustrating development for many. How can the Government expect people to become responsible retirement planners if at this late period retirees are unsure as to how much they will actually receive?

And that does not take into account the complication that will ensue when the inflation-related increases in guaranteed minimum retirement income will be removed. For many years, the Government has covered these increases; but it has now turned around by saying that it was only a misunderstanding, not a firm commitment.

However, many official declarations have shown that this is not really the case. The latest official reports state that the Department for Work and Pensions is correcting this history — and extricating these files from the Parliamentary archives.

A rather cunning way of denying a pension vow: Pretend it never really happened. These amendments to the national pension are an unfair decision to impose upon hopeful people who will be disenfranchised of their dreams during their expected life of retirement.

So complex is the equation that even the Department for Work and Pensions is not certain what contracted-out employees will receive.

Moreover, people are being punished for a judgment they took twenty or thirty years ago — a step which, in general, was done by someone else, since many company final-salary plans involuntarily contracted workers out of the state second pension.

Looking in from the outside, it appears just to decrease the payments of those who have not contributed the entire rate of National Insurance. But this is not a case of getting something for nothing. By opting to pay the lower rate, they were surrendering their right to receive the state second pension.

It used to be that paying lower tax then was considered commendable for it ended up reducing burden on the state. Today, however, it is more like an insult. And you could end up being penalised.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Balley Price Holdings:Tips for NRIs for filing tax returns│BP Holdings Tax Management

The income earned by non-resident Indians abroad is not subject to tax in India. However, if their income in the country crosses the basic exemption limit of Rs 2 lakh, they are required to file their returns. This income could be in the form of interest on deposits, rental income on property in India, etc.

Also, if NRIs carry out transactions in securities like shares and mutual funds, the capital gains are liable to tax and, hence, the return must be filed. The due date for filing returns by NRIs is 31 July.

When to file
The returns have to be filed if the income exceeds the taxable limit, or to claim refund if the tax deducted at source is more than the tax payable, or to claim the amount set off against capital losses.

The documents to be submitted include the passport to show the number of days spent outside India to qualify as an NRI. Besides this, the NRIs need to provide the statements for the demat accounts, for the transactions and bank accounts held in India, as well as the TDS certificates received from other parties.

The NRIs can also claim exemptions available to individuals under the Income Tax Act (unless specifically not applicable to NRIs), such as Section 80C, with respect to certain investments, payment of principal on housing loan, etc. The taxable income can be reduced by availing of these exemptions.

Filing alternatives
The NRIs can file their tax returns online on the Income Tax Department e-filing portal. Alternatively, they can use other private, paid e-filing portals to do so, or even take the help of tax advisers.

Points to note
It is not necessary for an NRI to file tax returns if the total income during the relevant financial year consists only of investment income or long-term capital gains, or both, and the tax has been deducted at source from such income.

Did you know?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

BBB Warns Consumers about Pervasive Income Tax Fraud

BP Holdings Tax Management - Despite the passing of the 2013 income tax return filing deadline, Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to keep their guard up.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a strong warning on its website about a nationwide increase in the prevalence of “sophisticated and aggressive” telephone scams.

Victims may be told that they are entitled to substantial refunds or that they owe money to the IRS, and must pay immediately. The aim of the criminals is to get their victims to divulge personal information, or send money by an unsecured payment method.

According to the IRS, the scammers have been posing as IRS employees in telephone calls, and threatening potential victims with arrest, revocation of their driver’s licenses and having their utilities cut off. Immigrants have complained they were threatened with deportation.

Income tax fraud criminals also use email to defraud consumers with the goal of getting victims to click on a link to print a “shipping label.” This can download malicious software or lead to a lookalike website that requests personal information.

Hallmarks of these schemes include the spoofing of telephone numbers to appear as if the IRS is calling, the use of common names, surnames and badge numbers to identify themselves. Complicating matters, the scammers sometimes obtain the last four digits of a potential victim’s Social Security number, and use that information to lend legitimacy to their scam, and frighten victims into action.

BBB reminds consumers that government agencies and financial institutions will never ask for personal information or account numbers over the telephone or by email. If you receive such correspondence, forward it to phishing@irs.gov.

For more information on this and related income tax fraud, visit www.irs.gov, and type the word “scam” in the search box.

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Balley Price Holdings - Should You Pay Your Taxes with a Credit Card?

Balley Price Holdings: 4 things you need to do to protect your returns

BP Holdings Tax Management – This post was written by Jim O'Shaughnessy, chairman, CEO and CIO at O'Shaughnessy Asset Management and by Scott Bartone, principal and portfolio manager at O'Shaughnessy Asset Management.

Thank heaven, tax season is over for now. Time to put taxes in the back of your mind until next year, right?  Well actually, no, not if you want to reduce taxes paid on your investments next year.  There are tactics that you can start using today to help minimize your tax bill in 2015.

The Problem
Taxes can significantly erode investment returns if an individual investor or money manager is not accounting for them.  Since short-term gains are taxed at a higher rate than long-term gains or qualified dividends, it is better to avoid triggering short-term gains if you can’t offset those gains with short-term losses.  Look at the hypothetical portfolio assumptions in the table below.  In this year, 50% of the positions were sold at some point, creating taxable impact.  What the table below tells us is that while taxes can detract from returns, we can mitigate their impact by paying attention to whether we sell the positions at a gain or loss, and whether those gains or losses are short or long-term.  We believe that smart and disciplined management does add value over just holding passive ETFs, but smart tax management is a key factor in any strategy.

What You Can Do to Minimize Your Tax Bill
Rather than simply waiting until the end of the year to sell losing positions, tax management is something that should be done throughout the year and should be incorporated into your investment strategy.  By waiting until the end of the year to sell off your losers, you will likely drift away from your investment strategy.  What’s more, you’ll likely not be the only one selling off losers at year’s end, and this negative momentum could push prices down further.

The better plan is to remain invested in your strategy and review your cost basis any time you are looking to trade.  Reviewing your unrealized gains and losses throughout the year—rather than just the year’s end—will give you more “point in time” observations and more opportunities to harvest in your portfolio.  If you have a well-diversified portfolio (as you should!), there are likely stocks that are at a loss throughout the year.  Look at the S&P 500 over the past five years.  If you only review it on an annual basis you only see positive returns, making it difficult to realize offsetting losses.  However, if we look at returns on a monthly basis, we see that in 18 of 60 months, the S&P 500 had negative returns, and some of them were significant.  Even in years when the S&P 500 has strong returns, there are always inflection points when markets turn downward.  To offset gains for tax purposes, investors should take advantage of these periods to realize some losses in their portfolios.

Here's four techniques to use throughout the year:

1. Defer the realization of taxable gains until they go long term – Whenever possible, restrict the sale of a stock that is in a short-term gain position so as not to impose the higher short-term tax rate.  It is often worth delaying the sale of a winning position until you have owned it for more than a year, since the difference in tax rates is substantial.  The short-term tax rate is almost 20% higher (for top earners), so even if your investment has negative performance until it goes long term, you still may end up with more money on an after-tax basis then if you had sold it short term.

2. Target short-term losses within the portfolio to sell – Review your portfolio throughout the year and seek to strategically target sell short-term losses so you can use these as an offset.  Short-term losses can foil short-term gains that you may have earned across your other investments.  If you still have short-term losses after you have netted out your short-term gains, you can then use those losses against your long-term gains.  Finally, if there are still losses left, you can use them as a carry-forward to future tax years.  Again, doing this throughout the year rather than just at the end of the year will give you more chances to find losses in your portfolio.

3. Avoid wash sales when possible – In order to realize the tax benefit of realizing a loss, wash sale rules must be obeyed.  A wash sale occurs when a stock is sold at a loss, and within 30 days before or after sale, you also purchase the same stock.  Should a wash sale trigger, you will not be able to apply losses as an offset.

4. Gifting Securities – If you have a charity that is near and dear to you, gifting a security that has had significant gains can be a way to give to a good cause and also help your tax bill.  By gifting shares that you have held for longer than a year, you can avoid paying taxes on the gains and can also claim the full market value of the shares gifted as a charitable deduction at the end of the year.  Consult the charity of your choice to see if they have a mechanism in place to receive security gifts.

Take the time throughout the year to look at where your portfolio is positioned -  If you have generated significant gains throughout the year or think you will, look for opportunities to sell losses within your portfolio.  Taxes can be a significant drag on returns for individual investors.  You should apply the same rigor to both your investment strategy and your tax strategy to maximize your portfolio’s net performance.

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