Posts By: Five Stone Tax

Travis County Property Tax

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Five Stone Tax Advisers Uncovers Thousands of Overtaxed Travis Co. Commercial Properties That Could be Eligible for a 7% Reduction

Austin, TX (October 14, 2014) – Five Stone Tax Advisers uncovers that thousands of commercial properties in Travis County, Texas, may be eligible for an additional 7 percent reduction in appraised value.  According to an employee of the appraisal district who wished to remain anonymous, the district erroneously used Abilene, Texas, cost multipliers to assess Travis County commercial properties.

The error resulted in an incorrect appraised property value for an unspecified number of commercial properties in Travis County.

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Audit Technique GuidesThis is an essay on Audit Technique Guides, how they are used, and how they can benefit taxpayers.

Audit Technique Guides are particularly useful to tax practitioners because they provide a strong foundation when advising clients of audit risk and they point out common areas for mistakes, provide a brief but inclusive overview about typical business practices within a market segment, and are perpetually being updated and changed. This article will discuss these reasons and also provide a quick overview of the ATG for cash intensive businesses, which is one of the most widely used ATGs.

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taxforms“Provide America’s taxpayers top-quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all.”

That’s the official mission of the IRS.

Sending out well-trained and well-versed employees is essential to the fulfillment of the above mission statement.

However, since fiscal year 2009.2, the IRS has reduced its training budget by more than 85 percent in an effort to cut agency-wide costs. In 2013, the IRS spent $250 per employee on training; in 2009, they spent $1,450 per employee.

Starbucks spends about 12 times more per person than the IRS to train its employees!

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W-21

The IRS has recognized that it would be impossible to catch every taxpayer with outstanding obligations to the IRS. Therefore, when a significant area of noncompliance is determined by the IRS, it uses Voluntary Disclosure Programs (VDP) as a way to entice taxpayers to voluntarily come forward and disclose non-compliance without the fear of criminal prosecution [1] and/or draconian penalties.

Misclassification of employees (W2) as independent contractors (1099) is a hot button issue. Between federal, state and local taxing agencies, the failure to properly classify workers amounts to billions of dollars in lost revenue[2]. Based on the recommendations of recent internal studies, the IRS has made worker classification a priority. To this point and in an effort to increase compliance, the IRS introduced the latest VDP iteration, the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP).

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The following article was originally posted on Politifact here.


 Recently Andy Brown’s claim in a mailer stopped us short: “Travis County now has the highest urban county tax rate in Texas.”

Brown, an Austin lawyer running for Travis County judge, aired his statement under an arrow suggesting county tax bills steadily escalated while his Democratic primary opponent, Sarah Eckhardt, served on the Travis County Commissioners Court.

By email, Brown’s campaign manager, Jim Wick, told us the campaign compared the 2012 total tax rate for Travis County with the rate in other counties that are home to the state’s five largest cities. Wick included a chart indicating that in this subset, the Travis County rate of $0.5001 per $100 property valuation exceeded the rates in Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and El Paso counties. El Paso County, Brown’s chart indicates, had the next-highest rate, $0.40887 per $100 valuation.

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The history of property taxes dates back at least as far as ancient Egypt.  Thousands of years later, property taxes were enacted in Texas in order to support the new republic.  The property tax system that Texans know today is vastly different from what it was even a few decades ago.  The modern Texas Property Tax Code is full of complex details, most of which have little bearing on the average homeowner.  However, there are a few key details that every property owner should know.

The Travis Central Appraisal District will be sending out Notices of Appraised Value in mid to late April.  This notice contains important information worthy of review.  Perhaps most significant is the property’s appraised value for 2014.  This figure is the appraisal district’s opinion of property value as of January 1, 2014.

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Did you know that the IRS does not currently have any guidelines for who can prepare your tax returns? That can make it a challenge for the 56% of American taxpayers who hire someone to prepare their income taxes. How can you know you’re getting the expertise you’re paying for?

Between the months of January and April, you’ll be surrounded by advertisements for numerous big-name tax preparation chains telling you how fast and easy it is to work with them and that they can get you your biggest possible refund. Seems easy enough? Not if you’re looking for expert tax advice.

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When tax season comes, you’ll probably do an online search for free tax software and more chances than not, you’ll find plenty of free or low-cost options—even the IRS offers free software for certain taxpayers.

Is it really right?
These low-cost choices look like a good deal. They’re less expensive than having a tax professional prepare your taxes and you can do them in the privacy of your own home, but not everyone has had a positive experience filing with tax software on their own. Even when you think you’ve done everything right, Uncle Sam may disagree.

Some clients have used popular online tax-filing program for years, until they got a letter from the IRS saying they owed more money or had thousands of dollars withheld from their federal return.

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You have spent countless hours in the office every other day and you cannot wait until you go home to relax. Not so fast! Uncle Sam has other plans in mind. That’s right. It’s tax season!

The IRS estimates that taxpayers spend an average of 13 hours on taxes every year. That includes everything from gathering paperwork and reading up on tax laws to completing and submitting a return.

Let’s be honest. We all know there are better ways to spend our time and taxes isn’t on top of that list. SO how can you make the most of this season without feeling like you’re paying too much?

 

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

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If you have been through an audit or know someone who has, you know it’s an experience you’d rather not go through. Out of the 160 million individual returns the IRS receives every year, 1.11% or 1.8 million of those returns get audited.

However, not all taxpayers get the same level of attention. Learn about the different types of tax audits, how to prevent and cure, and how our team of advisers can help you in case you do get audited.

Types of Audits.

The IRS conducts audits via correspondence and field audits.

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