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Tax fraud is serious business and the IRS is looking for help to crack down on it. Paying IRS whistleblowers a reward is one of the tools the government uses to find and prosecute those cheating on their taxes. And it can be a lucrative business for both the IRS and the 

whistleblowers as they helped the government recover more than $6 billion in 2020.

Becoming an IRS whistleblower

On this episode of the Taxgirl podcast, Kelly is joined by Gregory Krakower. Gregory is a former senior advisor and counselor for the New York State Attorney General’s office, as well as an adjunct professor at Cardozo Law School where he teaches whistleblower statutes and corporate fraud.

Listen to Kelly and Gregory talk about IRS whistleblowers:

  • What is a whistleblower?
  • Are whistleblowers protected and rewarded?
  • The reward for IRS whistleblowers
  • Whistleblowers don’t have to prove fraud but do need information
  • What type of information do whistleblowers need to have?
  • The motivation behind IRS whistleblowers
  • The False Claims Act / Lincoln’s Law
  • Qui tam
  • Can a whistleblower bring a lawsuit separately?
  • One of New York’s biggest whistleblower cases
  • Can you sue an accountant for helping a client avoid taxes?
  • How long do whistleblower cases take?
  • How well has the IRS whistleblower provision worked
  • What should potential whistleblowers keep in mind?

More about Kelly Phillips Erb:

Kelly is the creator and host of the new Taxgirl podcast series. Kelly is a practicing tax attorney with considerable experience and knowledge. She works with taxpayers like you every day. One of the things that she does is help folks out of tax jams, and hopefully, keep others from getting into them.

Kelly’s Website – Taxgirl

Gregory Krakower – LinkedIn

The IRS Criminal Investigation agency started a little over 100 years ago as an intelligence unit within the IRS, with nothing more than a few Post Office inspectors. Over the years, IRS-CI has become world-renowned for its ability to investigate abusive tax schemes, financial fraud, and many other crimes. With COVID-19 and PPP loans among the newest areas of focus, IRS-CI is heading into a new decade with even more to handle.

What IRS Criminal Investigation is doing in 2021

Kelly is joined by Chief Jim Lee on this episode of the Taxgirl podcast. Chief Lee is the new head of the IRS Criminal Investigation agency, taking over for Don Fort. With a new chief, IRS-CI is not only continuing the good work they’ve done but focusing on some other areas in 2021.

Listen to Kelly and Chief Jim Lee talk about IRS Criminal Investigation:

  • What’s the goal of IRS-CI?
  • Chief Jim Lee’s previous experience
  • Why Chief Lee joined IRS Criminal Investigation
  • What type of cases can IRS-CI get involved in?
  • Cryptocurrency and the IRS
  • How COVID-19 has impacted criminal investigation and enforcement
  • PPP loan fraud
  • Where IRS-CI’s funds come from
  • The areas the IRS-CI is going to be focusing on in the future
  • The previous difficulties of hiring for IRS Criminal Investigation during the pandemic

More about Kelly Phillips Erb:

Kelly is the creator and host of the new Taxgirl podcast series. Kelly is a practicing tax attorney with considerable experience and knowledge. She works with taxpayers like you every day. One of the things that she does is help folks out of tax jams, and hopefully, keep others from getting into them.

Kelly’s Website – Taxgirl

IRS-CI – Twitter

What’s the best tax deduction or tax break? That’s a question I hear all the time and I often point people to their healthcare and HSA tax deductions for the biggest benefit. While many people believe health expenses are the biggest deductions they can claim, thinking about your HSA account as a large tax deduction and even a potential retirement account can maximize your tax savings.

With HSA tax deductions, health savings accounts can be used for more than just healthcare

Megan Gorman, a senior contributor at Forbes and the founder of Chequers Financial Management, joins me on this episode of the Taxgirl podcast. We discuss why you should be using the maximum tax deductions on your healthcare savings account.

Listen to Kelly and Megan talk about HSA tax deductions:

  • The main healthcare tax breaks
  • What is an HSA?
  • Flex spending accounts
  • How you can use an HSA for retirement
  • Who an HSA works for best
  • Using an insurance broker to find the best HSA for you
  • 2021 HSA tax deduction maximums — Individual vs. family amounts
  • Where to get an HSA
  • The difference between tax dependents and healthcare dependents
  • Utilizing an HSA as a healthcare dependent
  • Can you take money out of an HSA?
  • HSA penalties
  • States where HSA tax deductions aren’t as useful

More about Kelly Phillips Erb:

Kelly is the creator and host of the new Taxgirl podcast series. Kelly is a practicing tax attorney with considerable experience and knowledge. She works with taxpayers like you every day. One of the things that she does is help folks out of tax jams, and hopefully, keep others from getting into them.

Kelly’s Website – Taxgirl

Megan Gorman – Website

Megan Gorman – Email

Most people love a little gossip and celebrities are often the best source, especially when they get into financial troubles. However, with the help of a good business manager and a little financial literacy, people can keep their names out of the newspaper, off the internet, and off the radar of auditors.

Business managers aren’t just for celebrities. You can learn from them too

Joining us on this episode of the TaxGirl podcast is Greg Zbylut, in-house counsel and tax manager with Singer Burke. Greg has represented a variety of clients, including celebrities, athletes, and Fortune 500 companies in matters like tax filing, audits, and even daily business management. He brings his expertise to the show as we discuss everything surrounding business management and some of what he’s seen over the years representing clients that might just save you.

Listen to Kelly and Greg talk about business management:

  • Business management definition
  • What a business manager does
  • Where do clients come from
  • How little celebrities, athletes, and entertainers actually make after everyone else takes out their cuts
  • The difficulty of working in the gig economy
  • The need to learn financial literacy early in life
  • Client anecdotes
  • How some clients get into financial trouble because of an expectation they’ll cover tabs for friends and family
  • Problems commonly found among second-generational wealth
  • Some of the ways movies and shows get taxes, finances, and the law wrong
  • If misinformation in entertainment is partially responsible for people’s financial problems
  • Residency audits
  • Privacy challenges when dealing with financial problems
  • The correlation between how high-profile someone is and the likelihood interviews and articles can create audits and other financial issues
  • How a firm and business manager’s reputation can have a major impact on audits and other dealings

More about Kelly Phillips Erb:

Kelly is the creator and host of the new Taxgirl podcast series. Kelly is a practicing tax attorney with considerable experience and knowledge. She works with taxpayers like you every day. One of the things that she does is help folks out of tax jams, and hopefully, keep others from getting into them.

Kelly’s Website – Taxgirl

Greg Zbylut’s website – Singer Burke

2020 is nearly done and over with. While that brings a sense of joy as the year has been difficult in so many ways, there might also be some anxiety when thinking about your year-end taxes. Whether you’re an individual concerned about how a new president and recovering economy will impact you, or you need to find some last-minute tax deductions, there’s plenty to be thinking about as the new year ticks over.

Preparing for end-of-year taxes, estate planning, and maximizing tax deductions

On this week’s episode, Kelly is joined by Lisa Colletti, a managing director in planning strategy and research at Aspiriant. Lisa and Kelly talk about the things you should be thinking about right now to help you with your 2020 taxes and what could be done now for 2021 – like creating more tax deductions, maximizing your 401K contributions, using the CARES Act to tide you over, and even what GRAT is; can all assist when figuring out your taxes.

Listen to Kelly and Lisa talk about year-end tax preparation:

  • What should people be paying special attention to for year-end taxes
  • How President-Elect Joe Biden’s proposed tax plan could impact individuals
  • Economic uncertainty and what that might mean for end-of-year planning
  • How the CARES Act can help people
  • Beginning to look at tax liability to ensure there are going to be no major surprises on your year-end taxes
  • Hitting the maximum 401k contributions to improve your tax bill
  • Bunching contributions and deductions to maximize your itemized tax deductions
  • Estate planning and gift tax benefits, both on your federal and state taxes
  • Maximizing 529 plan contributions
  • Strategic moves you can make with your family business
  • What is a GRAT (Grantor Retained Annuity Trust)? And how you can use it in your estate planning
  • Thinking about asset allocation for now and the future
  • How to find a financial planner or financial advisor

More about Kelly Phillips Erb:

Kelly is the creator and host of the new Taxgirl podcast series. Kelly is a practicing tax attorney with considerable experience and knowledge. She works with taxpayers like you every day. One of the things that she does is help folks out of tax jams, and hopefully, keep others from getting into them.

Kelly’s Website – Taxgirl

Lisa Colletti – Website

Aspiriant – Website

Everyone knows the 12 Days Of Christmas lyrics but with some pretty outlandish presents being given in the song, it’s the 12 Days Of Christmas cost that most people want to know about. The PNC Christmas Price Index measures the price of those 12 presents, pitting it against previous years to not only be a fun little anecdote but to help measure inflation. This year with the coronavirus pandemic impacting everyone and every business, the PNC Christmas Price Index looks quite a bit different.

What the PNC Christmas Price Index really means

On this week’s episode, Kelly is joined by Amanda Agati — one of the analysts/writers of the PNC Christmas Price Index — to discuss the process of creating the list and what it all means for consumers and businesses alike. Kelly and Amanda also talk about how the list has changed over the years, and how this year might bring some sweeping changes to how shopping is done and the cost of goods and services when the pandemic is over.

You can read the accompanying story here.

Listen to Kelly and Amanda talk about the PNC Christmas Price Index:

  • The PNC Christmas Price Index (CPI) is based on the 12 Days Of Christmas lyrics
  • The government’s Consumer Price Index and what it means
  • How COVID-19 impacted the CPI in 2020
  • What the CPI really tells us about the economy as a whole
  • The gifts that have seen the most inflation from last year
  • What trends have driven the change in prices
  • The price of gold vs. the price of gold rings
  • The difficulties of creating the PNC Christmas Price Index this year
  • Why the increase of e-commerce purchases this year could affect future years
  • The change from being a service-based economy to goods-based due to COVID-19 and whether it’ll change back in 2021
  • How the delivery of services and goods has changed during the pandemic and how that might alter pricing in the future
  • The economic outlook for 2021

About Kelly:

Kelly Phillips Erb created and hosts the Taxgirl podcast, your home for tax news, tax info and tax policy. In each episode, she shares conversations about taxes, money and the choices we make. Kelly is a practicing tax attorney who works with taxpayers like you every day. She helps folks out of tax jams, and hopefully, keep others from getting into them.

You can find out more about Kelly here and you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin.

Kelly’s Website – Taxgirl

PNC Christmas Price Index – Website

You likely have some type of insurance — whether that is auto, home, or health insurance. But did you know tax insurance is also available? What is insurance but a way to buy a little protection from catastrophe? Just like other types of insurance help mitigate risk, tax insurance allows companies and individuals to be protected from audits and judgments on specific stances.

Managing risks with tax insurance

On this week’s episode of the Taxgirl podcast, Kelly talks with Justin Berutich of Euclid Transactional about tax insurance. From who might need tax insurance to deductibles, tax insurance premiums, and filing a claim; Kelly and Justin take a deep dive into the world of tax insurance so you know if it’s right for you or your business.

Listen to Kelly and Justin talk about tax insurance:

  • What is insurance?
  • What tax insurance does
  • Why do people/companies need tax insurance?
  • Tax insurance premiums
  • Tax positions and what that means for insurance
  • The difference between tax insurance from other types of insurance
  • What an insurance company will want to see to quote a policy
  • Can tax insurance be short-term and/or long-term policies?
  • How filing a claim against your tax insurance works
  • When the insurance company step in on your behalf
  • Tax insurance deductibles
  • What transactions and costs best qualify for tax insurance
  • Who uses tax insurance?
  • Finding a tax insurance company
  • Does getting tax insurance make you more susceptible to audits?
  • Upcoming issues that could be eligible for tax insurance
  • Examples of how tax insurance saved deals
  • How tax insurance has grown over the last decade
  • Where the tax insurance industry is headed next

About Kelly:

Kelly Phillips Erb created and hosts the Taxgirl podcast, your home for tax news, tax info and tax policy. In each episode, she shares conversations about taxes, money and the choices we make. Kelly is a practicing tax attorney who works with taxpayers like you every day. She helps folks out of tax jams, and hopefully, keep others from getting into them.

You can find out more about Kelly here and you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin.

Kelly’s Website – Taxgirl

Justin Berutich – Email

Justin Berutich – Linked In

Euclid Transactional – Website

Student loan debt is simply a part of college life now. With college tuition skyrocketing as wages stagnate, more and more people are turning to student loans to get an education. But that doesn’t stop the bill eventually coming due, which is burying people under student loan debt for decades. Many people simply don’t understand how student loan repayment really works and what their options are when things go wrong.

Student loan repayment and debt

Joining Kelly this week is Jay Fleischman, a lawyer who has been helping people with debt problems, especially student loan repayment. Jay created the Student Loan Law Workshop, a place where attorneys can learn how to help clients with their student loan debt. Kelly and Jay talk about the impact of student loan debt, when you should seek help from a lawyer or tax professional, and what options you might have when you can’t pay your student loans.

Listen to Kelly and Jay talk about student loan repayment:

  • The percentage of people who take out student loans and their average debt
  • The total United States student loan debt
  • The difference between private student loan debt and federal student loans
  • The rising average college tuition costs
  • The common myths about college tuition and student loan debt
  • Some of the ways student loans can be confusing to understand
  • How COVID-19 impacted student loan repayment
  • What to do when you can’t pay your student loan debt
  • Student loan forbearance
  • Consequences of student loan default including wage garnishment
  • Student loan forgiveness and cancellation options
  • Defense to student loan repayment as a law
  • Statute of limitations on student loan debt
  • When should you ask for help
  • Student loan refinance and repayment scams
  • What parents should know about college tuition and student loan repayment
  • How to lower your student loan debt from the very start
  • Scholarships and tax credits to help lower student loan debt
  • How student loans impact your taxes

About Kelly:

Kelly Phillips Erb created and hosts the Taxgirl podcast, your home for tax news, tax info and tax policy. In each episode, she shares conversations about taxes, money and the choices we make. Kelly is a practicing tax attorney who works with taxpayers like you every day. She helps folks out of tax jams, and hopefully, keep others from getting into them.

You can find out more about Kelly here and you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin.

Links:

Kelly’s Website – Taxgirl

Jay Fleischman’s website – Money Wise Lawyer

Jay Fleischman – Twitter

Jay Fleischman – Facebook

Jay Fleischman – Tik Tok

Student Loan podcast

The difference between being organized or not can be thousands of dollars when it comes to your taxes and finances. This week on the Taxgirl podcast, Kelly talks to Karen R. Caccavo about organizing tips for your tax information and financials throughout the year so they’re ready to go when you actually need them.

Whether you do your taxes online, go to a certified tax professional, or even have your own accountant, being organized is an important step to keeping your finances in proper order. Karen has a wealth of organizing tips to help you de-clutter your life, office, and business so you’re better prepared.

Organizing tips for your business and life

Karen R. Caccavo joins Kelly on the Taxgirl podcast to talk about getting organized. Karen is a daily money manager and organization expert that has helped people get their business lives under control as well as assisting in managing personal finances. She has a

Listen to Kelly and Karen talk about organizing tips:

  • Getting motivated to get organized
  • Do you really need to keep all of your receipts?
  • How to be more organized when your job is in your car
  • Keeping your personal life separate from your business life
  • How to start getting organized
  • How professional organizers work
  • Finding a professional organizer?
  • Learning to let go of things
  • Cleaning up and organizing the clutter
  • Knowing your crutches and issues so you can avoid those pitfalls
  • Using a power of attorney to get things done with elderly clients
  • Utilizing informed delivery with incoming mail
  • Organizing while at home during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Managing expectations about how organized you can actually be
  • Knowing when you need outside help getting organized

About Kelly:

Kelly Phillips Erb created and hosts the Taxgirl podcast, your home for tax news, tax info and tax policy. In each episode, she shares conversations about taxes, money and the choices we make. Kelly is a practicing tax attorney who works with taxpayers like you every day. She helps folks out of tax jams, and hopefully, keep others from getting into them.

You can find out more about Kelly here and you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin.

Kelly’s Website – Taxgirl

American Association of Daily Money Managers (AADMM) 

National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals (NAPO)

Karen R. Caccavo’s website – Personal Money Manager

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