Tax Planning, Litigation & Audit
Generally speaking, tax planning is defined as analyzing a client’s past and current finances, review of prior tax returns and discussion of future goals with a tax attorney to ensure that all available advantages contained within the Internal Revenue Code are utilized to minimize tax exposure.
Tax Gain-Loss Harvesting
As a strategy, tax-loss harvesting involves selling an investment that has lost value, replacing it with a reasonably similar investment, and then using the investment sold at a loss to offset any realized gains. Tax-loss harvesting only applies to taxable investment accounts. Retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401(k) accounts grow tax-deferred so are not subject to capital gains taxes.
Tax Planning Strategies
The primary goal of any tax advice provided to clients is to either postpone or avoid the imposition of tax through creative structure. With careful planning on the timing of expenses or recognition of income, clients successfully arbitrage opportunities of tax rate differentials between tax years. Monitoring this closely will help minimize or prevent the alternative minimum tax (“AMT”).
Retirement Tax Planning
When you retire, your income usually flows from three possible sources: Social Security benefits, distributions from individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and retirement plans, and funds from savings and other investments. Depending on your income level, you may want to use certain tax strategies to minimize what taxes are paid from retirement assets. Here are a few to consider.
One of the best strategies for saving taxes on retirement income is to live in or move to a state that is tax-friendly, such as Washington and/or Nevada, which does not tax income earned from retirement assets. Another strategy involves potentially diversification of holdings into municipal bonds or stocks that pay qualified dividends, and which are taxed more favorably on disposition. Other times the discussion revolves around the deferral of RMD’s from retirement accounts. Paying attention to tax strategies for your retirement income is important, but there is no single right strategy. Each person’s personal situation is different, and we make sure to understand each client’s nuances.
Estate Tax Planning & Taxation
A bailiwick of our practice has always been providing estate-related assistance whether it is advising clients on how to avoid probate, providing for the management of your assets and affairs during incapacity, minimization of the federal estate and Oregon inheritance taxes, and designing stepped-distributions so the next generation can spread out its inheritance effectively to limit creditor interference or loss of assets in divorce. Our comprehensive estate planning is a start-to-finish process as we not only draft the documents but also assist with funding. Every one of our estate plans is customized to our client’s particular asset composition and desires.
The foundation of every estate plan is either a Last Will and Testament or a Revocable Living Trust. Additionally, we draft advance health care directives (also known as a “living will”), durable powers of attorney (for handling your affairs during your incapacity), cremation/burial directives to ensure last wishes are followed, health authorizations (“HIPAA Authorization”), property or business preservation tools (including Family Business Continuation Plans, “Estate freezing” techniques, Conservation Easements, and/or Wealth Management Services), and or family planning vehicles, such as Charitable Trusts, Family Limited Partnerships, LLC’s, IRA Distribution Planning, Foreign Trusts, Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts), and cremation and burial directives.
We also have a team that focuses on estate and trust administration matters, assisting trustees and probate representatives distribute property according to the Testator’s wishes, defend and pay creditor claims and prepare accountings.
Tax Audit & Litigation
Few things in life are more intimidating than facing a tax audit examination. A tax audit is the examination of an individual or business return to verify that all items reported are accurate and substantiated. Our tax practice focuses primarily on audit representation (in field, mail, or office audits) for individuals and small businesses, both on domestic issues and international/treaty positions
Tax Audit Defense
A tax audit can be stressful as taxpayers are asked to produce volumes of records and answer meticulous questions. This can be very time-consuming and interfere with your daily routine. Our experienced tax attorneys commonly represent individuals and small business owners facing a federal, state, or local audit involving:
A tax controversy commences at the administrative (agency) level and generally arises from a tax audit (also known as a tax examination) or taxes owed from a filed/amended return. Our tax attorneys represent individual and corporate clients to resolve their tax controversy at all levels, including administrative, appeals, and, if necessary, US Tax Court or Oregon Tax Court. As an alternative to the time, cost, and expense of a trial, we can also assist with alternative dispute resolution, including Fast Track Mediation and/or arbitrating settlements with the IRS/Oregon Department of Revenue.
WHAT IS TAX LITIGATION?
Tax litigation encompasses the general term of resolving a tax controversy or dispute over a position on a tax return. We represent individuals and entities (businesses, non-profits, trusts, or estates) with various types of tax matters (income, estate, gift, state sale and use, property, and international/treaty analysis) at all agency and court levels (federal, state, county, city and foreign). Our practice encompasses both civil and criminal tax controversies.
Our civil audit representation commences with audits that result in an assessment and attempted collection activity by the taxing agency. We will discuss the controversy with the auditor in depth, and if unresolved favorably, we will file a brief and proceed to appeals and/or litigation, as necessary. During the course of all tax controversies, we remain focused on finding opportunities to settle or resolve components of an audit, as we are aware of the cost-benefit dynamic.
We also advise and represent clients on criminal tax matters, specifically defending against fraud, evasion, and violations of foreign bank account reporting (FBAR) in U.S. District Court.
Tax Litigation Services
While we resolve the overwhelming majority of tax disputes without trial, some issues unfortunately end up in court as certain areas of tax law are not “black and white.” At times, it is necessary to file a petition with the tax court to preserve your rights while continuing to attempt resolution through settlement. We have expertise in handling the following matters: