Wage Theft and Worker Mis-classification: Part 1

Wage Theft and Worker Mis-classification: Part 1

In the last few weeks there have been 3 large scale documented cases published on how the Labor Commissioner is cracking down on companies mis-classifying employees and committing wage theft violations. Over the course of the next few blog posts, we will be discussing the cases against a Glendale construction company, a Chula Vista restaurant, and even a Jack in the Box franchise owner. These cases are excellent examples on how important it is to correctly classify your employees and be aware of minimum wage and overtime protection laws. What is Wage Theft? When an employer does not pay their employees according to the law, that is wage theft. Wage theft occurs when an employer does not pay workers overtime, pays less than minimum wage, or neglects to offer employees the opportunity to take breaks. What is Worker Misclassification? Employee misclassification happens when an employer incorrectly labels workers as independent contractors, rather than as employees, or an employee exempt from overtime because they are paid a salary. When employees are misclassified as independent contractors, they lose rights to workers’ compensation coverage, family leave, unemployment insurance, and the right to organize or join a union. They lose protection against employer retaliation and may not have access to employer-provided health insurance coverage and pension plans. Misclassified workers are not subject to California minimum wage and overtime protection laws. An employee classified as exempt is not entitled to overtime pay, but this is taken into consideration in the amount of salary they must be paid to truly be exempt. Just because an employee is classified as exempt from overtime doesn’t mean it...
Tax Court Slams the Brakes on Vehicle Deduction Claim

Tax Court Slams the Brakes on Vehicle Deduction Claim

Do you claim deductions for your vehicle? If you do, make sure to keep a detailed log of your of all your businesses trips. There are many taxpayers who have tried and failed to take advantage of these deductions, including the recent example of Katrina Taylor. Ken Berry, from Accountingweb.com, reviews the case and discusses what we can learn from this misguided taxpayer’s mistakes. Katrina Taylor et vir v. Commissioner, TC Memo 2017-99, the taxpayer committed a multitude of sins – including errors, omissions, and inflated expenses – that brought upon her downfall. Katrina Taylor’s husband operated a recycling business in West Virginia. At the same time, she operated a long-term care billing business. Taylor claimed that she sought out healthcare providers, mainly nursing homes and hospitals, and offered to review their customer accounts. Then she allegedly proposed to prospective clients that if she collected on any past-due accounts, they would pay her a percentage of the amount collected. Taylor also worked full-time at a hospital. During the tax years in question, Taylor included her business income and expenses, consisting mostly of alleged car and truck expenses, on the Schedules C for her husband’s recycling business. Those Schedules C did not indicate which income and expenses were attributable to which business. Subsequently, the IRS disallowed the couple’s deduction for car and truck expenses. So the taxpayer took her case to the Tax Court. At trial, the couple produced spreadsheets showing that Taylor made 144 distinct trips between their home and prospective client sites. Each entry had a date, a destination, beginning and ending odometer readings, total miles driven, and...
Many Charged in Worker’s Compensation Scheme

Many Charged in Worker’s Compensation Scheme

Recently I read an article in the OC Register written by Sean Emery discussing a scheme to defraud worker’s compensation insurance. 10 attorney’s and 6 others had felony fraud charges filed against them by The Orange County District Attorney’s Office. These 16 individuals had more than 33,000 patients and an estimated 300 million of insurance payouts, resulting in a massive worker’s compensation-referral scheme. DA Tony Rackauckas said the charges were the start of an investigation by his office and the California Department of Insurance, which scrutinizes the role medical providers played in an alleged fraud ring that targeted mostly Spanish-speaking communities. “This type of fraud factory drives up the prices of workers’ compensation insurance and drives businesses out of California,” Rackauckas said Monday, June 5. Prosecutors allege that at the center of the ring were businesses run by Carlos Arguello III, 35, of Tustin and Edgar Gonzalez, 50, of Anaheim. In 2005, Arguello formed an advertising company, Centro Legal Internacional, which Rackauckas accused of setting up illegal contracts with 20 to 30 attorneys who focused on workers’ compensation and personal injury. The attorneys allegedly agreed to contract with companies owned by Arguello and Gonzalez, in return for employees, known as cappers, delivering the attorneys a minimum number of clients per month. Attorneys are allowed to advertise, the district attorney explained, but the use of cappers to directly recruit for lawyers or medical providers is against the law. Prosecutors allege that the cappers distributed a variety of fliers and business cards in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods and at swap meets offering “free consultations” for those who believed they had suffered workplace...
Individual Taxpayer Identification Number Information

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number Information

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. It is a nine-digit number that always begins with the number 9. The IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA). ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both resident and nonresident aliens may have a U.S. filing or reporting requirement under the Internal Revenue Code. Individuals must have a filing requirement and file a valid federal income tax return to receive an ITIN, unless they meet an exception. What is an ITIN used for? ITINs are for federal tax reporting only, and are not intended to serve any other purpose. IRS issues ITINs to help individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws, and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for Social Security Numbers (SSNs). An ITIN does not: • Authorize work in the U.S. • Provide eligibility for Social Security benefits • Qualify a dependent for Earned Income Tax Credit Purposes Who needs an ITIN? IRS issues ITINs to foreign nationals and others who have federal tax reporting or filing requirements and do not qualify for SSNs. A non-resident alien individual not eligible for a SSN who is required to file a U.S. tax return only to claim a refund of tax under the provisions of a U.S. tax treaty needs an ITIN. Other examples of individuals who need ITINs include: • A nonresident alien required to...
IRS Offers Tips on Choosing a Tax Preparer

IRS Offers Tips on Choosing a Tax Preparer

The Internal Revenue Service is cautioning taxpayers to be on the lookout for unscrupulous return preparers, one of the most common “Dirty Dozen” tax scams seen during tax season. The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service. But there are some dishonest preparers who set up shop each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers. That’s why unscrupulous preparers who prey on unsuspecting taxpayers with outlandish promises of overly large refunds make the Dirty Dozen list every year. “Choose your tax return preparer carefully because you entrust them with your private financial information that needs to be protected,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Most preparers provide high-quality service but we run across cases each year where unscrupulous preparers steal from their clients and misfile their taxes.” It is important to choose carefully when hiring an individual or firm to prepare a tax return. Well-intentioned taxpayers can be misled by preparers who don’t understand taxes or who mislead people into taking credits or deductions they aren’t entitled to in order to increase their fee. Every year, these types of tax preparers face everything from penalties to jail time for defrauding their clients. Here are a few tips when choosing a tax preparer: Ask if the preparer has an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Paid tax return preparers are required to register with the IRS, have a PTIN and include it on tax returns. Inquire whether the tax return preparer has a professional credential (enrolled agent, certified public accountant or attorney), belongs to a professional organization or attends continuing education classes....
I-9 Deadline Approaches Quickly

I-9 Deadline Approaches Quickly

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released the new Form I-9 and all employers are required to start using the new form starting January 22, 2017. What is the I-9 process? Within three days of hiring a new employee, the employer (and employee) must complete the Form I-9 by taking the following steps: The employee completes (and signs) Section 1 of the form and returns the completed form to the employer along with documents establishing the employee’s identity and authorization to work in the United States. The employer reviews the documents the employee provided and completes (and signs) Section 2 (and Section 3, if applicable) of the form. The employer is required to keep the completed I-9 forms for all current employees for the duration of employment.  Employers are also required to keep the completed I-9 forms for all terminated employees for either one year after the employee’s termination or three years after hire (whichever is later). What are the changes with the new Form I-9? Some of the changes in the new Form I-9 include: Employers have the option to complete the form electronically Section 1 asks for “other last names used” rather than “other names used,” Certification is streamlined for certain foreign nationals. The form includes prompts to ensure information is entered correctly Multiple preparers and translators can be listed on the new form There is a dedicated area for including additional information rather than having to add it in the margins. There is a supplemental page for the preparer/translator. What happens if an employer doesn’t start using the new Form I-9 by January 21st? Failure to comply...

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