FTB Now Monitoring License Plates

So you’re lounging around at your California vacation palace (probably during the winter, during which the golf weather is a little more hospitable there than it is here) and you receive an unwelcome nastygram from the California Revenooers – where’s your California tax return, it wonders.

Maybe that’s because the California Franchise Tax Board’s “Luxury Vehicle Discovery Program Special Programs Bureau” is looking for you – via its “nonfiler” inquiry (via California DMV info).

Seems that every year, the DMV provides FTB with vehicle registration info, which those blokes use to attempt to identify those who may have merely “forgotten” to file their California tax returns.

In many cases, however, such inquiries should be answered with nothing more than a “mind your own business” response, from folks who are merely vacationing in the Golden State, and who are legit residents of Nevada or elsewhere.  Don’t be badgered into answering these nosy California inquiries without first having thought through your response – most likely, after having consulted with your advisor.

Which reminds us – things are getting so bad in California, these days that some blokes are actually considering seceding from the darned place!

We hear that The Record Searchlight of Redding is reporting that the Siskiyou County Board of Supes recently voted 4-1 in favor of a declaration for secession!

Yes, the South (or would it be the North, in this instance) will rise again!

According to the Searchlight, residents of the majority Republican county lobbied their board in August to consider secession – because of a lack of representation in Sacramento, and worries about water rights and a rural fire prevention fee approved by the legislature.

And how about all you spouses, out there, whose “other” shoves your annual income tax return under your nose, and just tells you to “sign here.”  Some time later, the Revenooers come calling (maybe even after your “other” is long gone) informing you that there are a raft of problems with that return which you signed, and you need to get out your check book and pay up.

“What?” you say? “I didn’t know anything about what I signed – go find that scofflaw former spouse and get the dough from him or her!”

“Not so fast,” says Uncle Sam – you signed; therefore the two of you are “jointly and severally responsible” for the tax.

One way out, for you in a situation like this, might to be a claim of “innocent spouse relief,” which may apply if:

  • A joint return was filed for the tax year;
  • The return includes an understatement of tax attributable to an erroneous item of the other spouse;
  • You did not know, and had no reason to know, of the understatement when you signed the joint return;
  • Taking into account all of the facts and circumstances, it would be inequitable to hold you liable for the tax deficiency attributable to the understatement; and
  • You elect “innocent spouse relief” not later than two years after the date the IRS begins collection activities.

Complicated stuff – don’t try this on your own.

CONSULT YOUR TAX ADVISOR – This article contains general information about various tax matters.  You should consult your tax advisor concerning the implications to your own particular situation.

Jeff Quinn, the author of this article, is a shareholder in Ashley Quinn, CPAs and Consultants, Ltd., with offices in Incline Village and Reno.  He may be reached at 831-7288, welcomes comments at jquinn@ashleyquinncpas.com, and invites readers to consider his other commentary at http://blog.nolo.com/taxes

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