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Tax Attorney Serving San Francisco and Surrounding Areas

The tax consequences of your actions are not always straightforward. Strong planning and knowledgeable advice can help you structure your estate or business so that you do not need to pay unnecessary taxes and can protect the assets that you have accumulated. San Francisco tax lawyer Jonathan C. Lee helps clients improve their financial situation by providing thorough guidance in areas such as tax planning, tax appeals, offshore account disclosure, audit defense, and offers in compromise.

Tax Planning

We provide tax planning and wealth management services for individuals, as well as tax planning for small and growing businesses, individuals outside the United States, and foreign corporations. Taxes arise in many different situations, including the transfer of assets. Whenever you transfer an asset, you may expose yourself to liability for a gift tax, estate tax, or the generation-skipping transfer tax. This last type of tax was designed to address the issue of wealthy families creating life estates in perpetuity to avoid paying taxes on considerable estates. The 1986 Act imposes a tax equal to the highest estate tax rate on any generation-skipping transfer, with an exemption per taxpayer.

Our firm can advise you on investment strategies, charitable giving, business succession planning, and estate planning to help you minimize your tax payments. The government also taxes businesses differently based on their form. We can help you decide how to structure your business to meet your financial objectives. Our firm routinely works with foreign individuals and entities hoping to minimize tax liability while strategically investing in the United States.

Tax Appeals

If you are audited and disagree with an agent's finding, you can file a tax appeal. There are Appeals divisions within the IRS and the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) that will provide an independent partial review. You may appeal an IRS decision if you disagree with it, you received a letter from the IRS explaining your right to appeal its decision, and you are not signing the agreement form that was sent to you. In most cases, these appeals are informal telephone conferences, but it is important to retain counsel to present your case in the most persuasive way possible. People who disagree with the Appeals or Settlement Officer may appeal certain actions in civil court.

Offshore Account Disclosures

People with a financial interest in any foreign financial account, including bank accounts, trusts, or brokerage accounts, are required to file a TDF 90-22.1 Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) with the IRS. The FBAR allows the government to identify people who are putting their resources into offshore accounts in order to circumvent U.S. tax laws. The penalties for willful noncompliance include criminal sanctions and civil penalties in the amount of the highest account balance in an unreported foreign account for each account since 2006. Our firm can help you participate in the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI), which allows you to get current on your tax returns while avoiding criminal sanctions and limiting possible civil penalties.

The purpose of the OVDI is to bring into compliance taxpayers who have used undisclosed foreign accounts to avoid or evade their tax liability. An IRS criminal investigation will take a timely, accurate, and complete voluntary disclosure into account in deciding whether to recommend criminal prosecution to the Department of Justice. The stakes are high. If you willfully fail to file an FBAR, you may face a civil penalty of the greater of $100,000 or 50% of the total balance of the foreign financial account per violation. Therefore, it is important to enter the program with the assistance of an experienced attorney.

Audit Defense

Audits by the IRS, the FTB, or the California State Board of Education may be a cause for concern. They may be paper audits that result in further scrutiny of your filings and being billed more, or they may be in-person audits, in which the auditing agent goes through all of your accounts, financial information, and business books to disallow deductions and search for any misconduct or fraud. Although the IRS must follow laws set forth in the Internal Revenue Code, Treasury Regulations, and court decisions when auditing you, it may apply its interpretation of the law to your case, even if it has lost a case that involved the same issue. In some cases, close scrutiny of a taxpayer's records, information, and books may lead to further liability and penalties.

You should consult an attorney before speaking with a revenue agent. Anything incriminating that you say to an agent may be used in criminal proceedings brought against you later. If you retain our firm, we can communicate with the tax agency on your behalf and represent you in an appeal, should it be necessary.

Consult an Experienced Tax Lawyer in San Francisco or Beyond

Some people assume that there is no way to avoid paying taxes, so they may not pay attention to areas in which they can legitimately reduce their tax bill. An experienced San Francisco tax attorney can help you save significant sums of money by using sophisticated strategies, allowing you to use your hard-earned money as you see fit. At the Law Offices of Jonathan Lee, our team of attorneys and CPAs has more than 30 years of experience assisting clients in maximizing their tax savings. We also represent residents of Oakland, Fremont, Hayward, Daly City, Palo Alto, Gilroy, and other cities in San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties. We have a Hong Kong office as well. If you need an audit defense attorney or assistance with another tax matter, contact us online or call us at (415) 685-0813.

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