Annette Nellen, CPA, CGMA, Esq., Author at Think Outside the Tax Box

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

Annette Nellen, CPA, CGMA, Esq.

Annette Nellen, CPA, CGMA, Esq., is a professor in and director of San José State University's graduate tax program (MST), teaching courses in tax research, accounting methods, property transactions, high tech tax matters, employment tax, ethics, and tax policy.

Professor Nellen served on the AICPA Tax Executive Committee for over six years (chair from October 2016 to May 2019). She is a past chair of the AICPA Individual Taxation Technical Resource Panel. Professor Nellen was the lead author of the AICPA tax policy concept statement #1, Guiding Principles of Good Tax Policy: A Framework for Evaluating Tax Proposals (2001, updated 2017), still in use today. Professor Nellen is the recipient of the 2013 Arthur J. Dixon Memorial Award given by the Tax Division of the AICPA, the highest award given by the accounting profession in the area of taxation. In fall 2013, Professor Nellen completed a three-year term on the Executive Committee of the Taxation Section of the California Bar. She was the first co-chair of the CA Bar Tax Section's Women in Tax Committee. Prof. Nellen is the recipient of the 2019 Benjamin F. Miller Award from the Taxation Section of the California Lawyers Association for achievement and contribution in the field of state and local taxation law. She is a former chair of the ABA Tax Section’s Sales, Exchanges & Basis Committee.

Professor Nellen is the author of Bloomberg BNA Tax Portfolio #533, Amortization of Intangibles. She is an editor for the four Southwestern Federal Taxation textbooks (Individual Income Tax; Corporations, Partnerships, Estates & Trusts; Comprehensive; and Essentials of Taxation). She is a regular columnist (Moving Forward?) for Tax Analysts’ State Tax Notes.

Professor Nellen maintains the 21st Century Taxation website and blog (www.21stcenturytaxation.com), as well as several websites on tax reform, state tax nexus, e-commerce taxation, worker classification, marijuana taxation and ethical issues, and virtual currency taxation.

Professor Nellen is a graduate of CSU Northridge (BS Accounting), Pepperdine (MBA), and Loyola Law School (JD). Prior to joining SJSU in 1990, Professor Nellen was with Ernst & Young and the IRS (revenue agent and lead instructor).

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Warning! Avoid the Latest “Dirty Dozen” Scams Identified By the IRS

Since at least 2001, the IRS has issued annual news releases warning taxpayers of scams they should be aware of and stay clear of. The release in 2001 included just eight scams but starting in 2002, the IRS expanded the list and dubbed these scams with the catchy moniker: the “Dirty Dozen.” In describing these lists, the IRS often warns taxpayers to “remain vigilant” against the scams, to not “fall prey” to them, and to “be on the lookout for” these dangerous activities.

While the warnings seem to be directed to individual taxpayers, the lists sometimes include warnings of scams directed at return preparers and employers. Tax practitioners certainly need to be aware of these scams to exercise appropriate due diligence to know if any client is involved in a scam such as an abusive tax shelter, and to help educate clients about the numerous and growing number of scams many of which are designed to steal their personal and financial data and resources.

This article covers the 2022 “Dirty Dozen” list. It also includes suggestions on how practitioners might use this information in tax compliance and planning and to help clients protect their identities and assets and avoid tax problems. Additional resources for dealing with the items on the list are provided.

A chart listing the “Dirty Dozen” items from the start in 2001 through 2022 is included to show trends and the reality that some scams such as identity theft, phishing, return preparer fraud and frivolous tax arguments have made the list almost every year.

Click here to continue reading.

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Top 10 Federal Tax Cases and Relevance to Practice

Every year, tax courts hear more than 600 federal tax cases, mostly by the U.S. Tax Court. The vast majority are trial court decisions, again, mostly from the U.S. Tax Court, but also district courts throughout the U.S.
Independent of the IRS, the court hears cases relating to income, estate, and gift tax and its rulings can be used as precedent for better interpreting the laws. It practically can provide a roadmap as to what the judges are looking for in defense of a taxpayer’s claim or position.

Among the Tax Court decisions, most are memorandum and summary opinions focused on figuring out facts so practitioners can apply the proper law. Annually, we might see fewer than 50 regular Tax Court decisions involving a new interpretation of the tax law. But this still leaves a lot of potentially significant cases in attempting to identify the top 10federal tax cases dating back to the start of our modern income tax in 1913.
Which are the most significant? That all depends on you and what you are trying to learn from each case. When it comes to tax planning, read on to learn about the top 10 cases of all time.

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CURRENT EDITION

How to Avoid Losing Valuable Noncash Charitable Contributions

The rules for noncash charitable contributions defy easy summary. On the other hand, they are not rocket surgery. Moving on from the humor, if you want to sum them up in a sentence you can use Reilly’s Seventh Law of Tax Planning: Read the instructions. Specifically, you want to read the instructions to Form 8283 Noncash Charitable Contributions.

There is, of course, more to it than that, but you will find a remarkable number of disallowed deductions from not following those instructions. To be fair, sometimes there are other shenanigans going on and the instruction failures are the easiest way for the IRS to attack. Nonetheless, there is nothing to say that the IRS will not use the precedents set in those cases on your client even though they are not trying to get away with anything.

To get a simplified list of what to know and implement, continue reading.

Should Your Practice Use a Client Portal?

You may know me as the “crypto guy” here at Think Outside the Tax Box. It might seem like that’s all I ever write about. But this time, I’m sneaking an article in while my editor is on vacation. Because I want to talk about using a client portal and why all tax professionals should be using one in their firms. Some firms may have dipped their toe into the digital waters out of necessity as a by-product of the pandemic. Others may have started the process long before Covid existed.

According to a completely unscientific poll I ran on Twitter, 70 percent of firms are still processing returns at least partially on paper. This can mean either receiving paper documents from a client or delivering a hard copy of the completed return to the client. As the numbers from a Twitter survey are clearly biased toward firms already comfortable with digital technology, we can safely assume more accurate numbers are significantly higher. Since TOTTB refuses to provide me with a budget to run a full, comprehensive study, we’ll just have to run with my perfunctory data as well as published data from a poll Canopy conducted in 2021.

Canopy surveyed more than a thousand small businesses and found that 63 percent admitted that their accountant did not offer any portal. More surprising, depending on whom you ask, is that more than two-thirds of respondents said they would be interested in switching to an accountant that allows them to use photos of their documents for easy sharing.

While I’m not here to debate the issues of opening a gajillion .jpg files and how that might negatively affect my practice, the impact of using technology can improve your efficiencies, communications, and improve your workflow.

To learn how, continue reading.

The Tax Lives of Performing Artists

Performing artists are everywhere. Whether you’re a fan or indifferent, they’re tough to ignore. They color our world with print, broadcast, and social media coverage. We have actors, musicians, newscasters, and podcasters performing live, streaming online, captured on film/radio/television, and just about everywhere in an expanding online universe.

We celebrate their triumphs, empathize with their trials, feel shocked at their gaffes, and grieve for and with them. We may not think we have much in common with performers, but we do have one commonality: We’re all taxpayers!

A performer’s life may seem glamorous, but it’s hard work and not always financially predictable. The tax lives of performers are complicated. They have income and expenses, but with many twists and peculiarities.

Twists and peculiarities can make it both interesting and complex when navigating the Tax Code, but performing artists need tax reduction, too. Tony Nitti said, “It has to suck to make your living as an artist.” But paying taxes as an artist doesn’t have to suck when you have a great tax plan.

To read more about the unique tax planning opportunities available to performing artists, continue reading.

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  • Avoiding Passive Loss Limitations Through Short-term and Alternative Rentals

    Short-term rentals like AirBnb are becoming increasingly popular with taxpayers who invest in real estate. For many taxpayers, the appeal of these properties is the flexibility and cash flow potential. However, there may be an overlooked third tax benefit. In many situations these short-term rentals may not qualify as a rental activity to the IRS, and that may offer a big tax break. While many rental activities generate losses, this can leave taxpayers facing the frustrations of not always getting to deduct those losses right away due to the passive activity limitations.

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    How Business Owners Can Boost Income by Avoiding the $10,000 SALT Cap

    Taxpayers have been whipsawed by confusing rules for the $10,000 limit on deducting state and local taxes (SALT), the most politically charged piece of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017. The cap has caused nearly 11 million individuals to lose an annual deduction worth $323 billion. But many owners of private businesses known as passthroughs can avert that financial pain. If you own your company and thus report your business income on your personal federal income tax return, here’s what you need to know.

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    GOFUNDME & KICKSTARTER: TAXABLE? DEDUCTIBLE?

    Millions of taxpayers in the United States are using crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter to raise money for important needs, such as paying medical bills, paying legal fees, or funding a new business venture. Both the IRS and the courts have been surprisingly silent on the tax consequences of crowdfunding platforms. The good news is that established tax law provides a clear road map for answering most tax questions created by raising money from a crowdfunding website. By knowing these rules, taxpayers can use crowdfunding to raise cash and minimize their overall tax exposure.

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    My Client Stuck with a Mistaken C Corporation Election?

    My client formed three limited liability companies (LLCs) to hold his rental properties. Without consulting me, he filed Form 8832, Entity Classification Election, to elect C corporation treatment, effective January 1, 2020, for these LLCs. I want the LLCs to be disregarded entities, which is the most tax-efficient structure for his situation. What is the best way to undo these elections?

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    Quick Guide to Claiming Work-From-Home COVID-19 Expenses to Reduce Your Tax Bill

    This information is particularly important if you are the owner/shareholder of your own corporation – C or S corp. You can set up payroll and designate tax-free reimbursements for you to be working at home – as well other tax-free money for you and for your employees. (We will discuss employees momentarily. Yes, it’s essential.) If being an employee is your main source of income – watch out! The short answer to employees claiming an office in home deduction this year is... There is no deduction!

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    Five Tax Reduction Strategies for the Casual Cryptocurrency Owner

    With so many people looking for more ways to make money outside their 9 to 5 jobs, many are turning to money making methods using technology including trading in cryptocurrency. For tax purposes, the IRS considers cryptocurrencies property, not as currency. Just like other property types, stocks, investments, or real estate, when you sell, swap, or otherwise dispose of your cryptocurrency for more or less than you acquired it for, you incur a tax reporting obligation. As an example, there would be a $1,000 capital gain if 0.1 bitcoin is bought for $2,000 in June of 2020 and then sold for $3,000 two months later. This profit must be reported on the tax return and a certain amount of tax is due on the gain, depending on the tax bracket of the taxpayer. In this example, the gain would be short term requiring the profit to be taxed at the filer’s ordinary tax rate. These rates range anywhere from 0-37%.

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    Extra Taxes on S Corporation Distribution?

    My client plans to take about $15,000 in distributions in excess of his basis from his S corporation construction business. I know this generates tax for him. He’s in the 32 percent tax bracket and single. Does he also have to pay the 3.8 percent net investment income tax and the 0.9 percent additional Medicare tax on this amount? Is there a way for him to avoid taxes on this amount?

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    Reduce Taxable Income Up to $25,000 with Passive Rental Losses

    You have likely heard that owning rental real estate provides great tax benefits. This is true for a multitude of reasons, but there’s one benefit that is arguably the best of the bunch: The Small Taxpayer Allowance for Deducting Passive Rental Losses. Based on average household income levels, more than three-quarters of taxpayers can potentially qualify for this fantastic tax benefit that offers taxable income reduction of up to $25,000.

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