Watch That Bank Account: FTB May Grab Your Dough
So you thought privacy laws kept your financial information a secret, and your fiscal identity beyond the reach of the Federal and state Revenooers.
Well – get real, particularly if you deal with the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB). And get familiar with “The Financial Institution Record Match (FIRM)” program, enacted in 2011, which authorizes the California FTB to match their “debtor files” with the customer records of any number of financial institutions. The purpose, of course, being that so doing makes it easier for the tax authorities to grab your dough when they think you owe it to them.
This FIRM legislation requires FTB to operate a financial institution record match system using automated data exchanges with all financial institutions doing business in California!
We hear the FIRM Program Administrator enrolled 180 financial institutions to participate in the first quarterly record match, and sent them info on 600,000 FTB delinquent debtors, 92% of whom were personal income taxpayers.
An outfit known as Informatix, Inc. has been selected as the FIRM Program Administrator, and will operate the system, including financial institution enrollment, education and outreach, quarterly data exchange, report generation and ongoing “customer” service.
Which leads us, of course, to the matter of exactly what “customer” (taxpayer) services are contemplated and how they are being handled. Find solace in the notion that FTB has created a “liaison,” who will work closely with the participating financial institutions to help them avoid becoming overwhelmed with all of the levies which FTB will be asking them to process.
Additionally, FTB is making available these “customer service opportunities” (among others) to help taxpayers avoid involuntary collection actions, and promote greater long-term compliance:
~Electronic installment agreements which are intended to help taxpayers
resolve their account problems online
~Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Installment Agreements to allow taxpayers
to initiate an installment agreement by phone
~Live Chat (how cuddly), an internet option which taxpayers can use to ask
FTB representatives general questions about personal income tax issues
And if all of this wonderful new service isn’t enough for you, Governor Brown
has provided in his budget for extending FIRM to the California Board of Equalization and the Employment Development Department, beginning as early as January, 2013.
Isn’t collaboration wonderful!
CONSULT YOUR TAX ADVISOR – This article contains general information about various tax matters. You should consult your CPA regarding 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 can be reached at 831-7288, welcomes comments at email@example.com, and invites readers to consider his other commentary at http://blog.nolo.com/taxes.