Monday, July 28, 2008

Blogs, Podcasts and the Internet: What you need to know to get started with viral marketing to further business development

Regular visitors to this blog will know that I am a big proponent of using online audio podcasts to convey information about the law to people across the Internet. To that end, on October 24, 2008, I will be speaking at the Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference on the issue of setting up and maintaining a podcast program.

In the presentation, entitled - Blogs, Podcasts and the Internet: What you need to know to get started with viral marketing to further business development, I will be speaking with Attorneys Jon Groth and Chris Moander about the value of using blogs, podcasts and the Internet to get the word out to clients about important issues that they may be facing.

You can visit the conference website to see what other presentations will be given by clicking here. The conference will be held in the Wisconsin Dells Kalahari resort from October 23rd - 25th, 2008.

And Now...Another Celebrity in Trouble

As yet another commentary on how taxes can be interesting to everyone, this post is mostly just a link to another tax law blog. The Tax Girl blog has recently posted a story about even another celebrity of sorts that is facing tax trouble. The story (which can be read by clicking here) announces that Joe Francis (founder of the Girls Gone Wild video series) has recently pleaded not guilty to two counts of tax evasion.

Enjoy the commentary and short AP video clip on the story.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Another Celebrity Charged With Tax Crimes

As the author of a tax law blog, I quite often feel that taxes are interesting. I understand that not everyone may always feel this way, but sometimes tax related stories hit the news that have broad appeal. Recently, we have had the story of Richard Hatch (winner of the first season of the reality show contest "Survivor") and Wesley Snipes (of the "Blade" movies fame). Both were convicted of tax crimes. Now there is a celebrity of yet another sort that is facing tax trouble.

On July 17, The Smoking Gun web site announced that adult film star Janine Lindemulder had been charged with a misdemeanor count of willfully failing to pay tax due in violation of Internal Revenue Code section 7203.

While a misdemeanor carries a smaller penalty than a felony charge, a misdemeanor can still mean prison (just ask Mr. Snipes who was convicted to three years in prison - one year for each misdemeanor on which he was convicted). This will certainly be an interesting case to pay attention to, however, I expect that if she is convicted, her single misdemeanor count will help her fair much better than her celebrity counterparts. I am curious however as to whether her "different" kind of celebrity will bring any benefit.

The information document that charges her with the offense was filed on June 18 and can be found on The Smoking Gun web site.

Previous posts relating to Richard Hatch and Wesley Snipes can be found by clicking here.

Friday's Tax Quote.

“Taxation, for example, is eternally lively; it concerns nine-tenths of us more directly than either smallpox or golf, and has just as much drama in it; moreover, it has been mellowed and made gay by as many gaudy, preposterous theories.”

- H.L. Mencken

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Stopping IRS Penalties and Interest by Making a Deposit

As a tax lawyer, I am often asked how a client can stop interest and penalties from growing on an overdue tax debt. To do so, a client can (1) pay the debt or (2) make a “deposit.” In this post, I discuss using a “deposit” to stop the growth of penalties and interest. This post is not about how to remove already existing penalties (although there are procedures for doing that as well).

Let’s say that you are currently going through a tax audit. Based on how the audit is going, you know that you are going to owe additional tax, but you disagree with the IRS as to how much. Because you are going to owe, you want to stop additional and unnecessary interest and penalties.

The Internal Revenue Code (in section 6603) and Revenue Procedure 2005-18, provide that a taxpayer may make a “deposit” in lieu of a payment of tax. Once a deposit is made, and if the deposit is ultimately used to pay tax, the deposit will retroactively be treated as a payment of the tax on the date that the deposit was made. This effectively cuts off any additional interest on the amount of tax ultimately due as of the deposit date.

Should a taxpayer want the deposit returned, all he/she needs to do is make a written request for a return of the monies. The IRS is required to return the money unless it determines that returning the deposit would jeopardize its ability to ultimately collect the tax.

Another benefit of making a deposit is that (provided certain requirements or a safe harbor is satisfied) interest may be earned on the deposit. To earn interest, the deposit must be attributable to a "disputable tax" for the tax period at tissue. Interest will only grow on the amount that relates to the disputable tax. A "disputable tax" must be further attributable to a "disputable item."

The determination of whether something is a disputable tax or disputable item has certain requirements and is subject to some safe harbor rules. Therefore, before making a deposit, it is essential that you make certain that the money you send in qualifies as a deposit. Just as important is clearly designating in writing that the money sent is to be used as a deposit.

If you have questions as to whether you qualify to make a “deposit” be sure to consult a professional. If you don’t follow the proper procedures, you may end up making a “payment” instead of a deposit. This is bad because it can cut off future challenges to the amount that tax the IRS says is due.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday's Tax Quote.

“Taxation, in reality, is life. If you know the position a person takes on taxes, you can tell their whole philosophy. The tax code, once you get to know it, embodies all the essence of life: greed, politics, power, goodness, charity.”

- Sheldon S. Cohen

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Legal Podcast - Business Succession Planning

Many small and midsize business owners are successful because they pay attention to the details. The owner will structure the businesses affairs so that the business is ready for changes in the market, technology and other trends. Unfortunately, often these same business owners fail to adequately plan for one inevitable change: the day that they are no longer involved in the business.

Leaving a business can mean passing the reigns (and eventual ownership) to a sibling, child or even a loyal employee. It could also mean selling the buisness to another business owner. Regardless of what the exit strategy is, it is important to have an exit strategy (i.e. a business succession plan).

Attorney Mike Berzowski has recording a podcast discussing the importance of developing a business succession plan. A successful business succession plan will provide for the effective transfer of a business to future owners and an exit strategy for the current owners. This podcast includes a discussion of the key steps in developing such a plan and can be found by clicking here.