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Aug

22

Withholding Checkup Urged by the IRS for All Taxpayers

By Bill

Withholding Checkup Urged by the IRS for All Taxpayers

IR-2018-168, Aug. 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service urges anyone working in the sharing economy to perform a Paycheck Checkup now to avoid an unexpected tax bill when they file their return next year.

Many people working in the sharing economy are employees, in which case their employers should be withholding taxes from their wages. Many others are not working as employees, so they need to make sure they pay their taxes either through withholding from other jobs they may have, or through estimated taxes.

Either way, because of the far-reaching tax changes taking effect this year, IRS urges taxpayers, including those in the sharing economy, to perform a Paycheck Checkup now. The easiest way for most employees to check their withholding is through the Withholding Calculator available on IRS.gov.

The U.S. tax system operates on a pay-as-you-go basis, so taxes must be paid as income is received rather than at the end of the year. This includes anyone involved in the sharing economy.

People who participate in the sharing economy but do not have an employer, usually need to make quarterly estimated tax payments to cover their tax obligation. In this case Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, and the worksheet in  Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, can help people check their withholding and figure their payments correctly. IRS Direct Pay is the fastest and easiest way to pay.

In recent years, the IRS has seen the number of taxpayers who paid the estimated tax penalty jump from 7.2 million in 2010 to 10 million in 2015, an increase of nearly 40 percent. Using the Withholding Calculator or Publication 505 and following the recommended steps can help avoid this underpayment penalty.

Jul

17

New 1040 Form

By Bill

New Form 1040

IR-2018-146, June 29, 2018

WASHINGTON – As part of a larger effort to help taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service plans to streamline the Form 1040 into a shorter, simpler form for the 2019 tax season.

The new 1040 – about half the size of the current version — would replace the current Form 1040 as well as the Form 1040A and the Form 1040EZ.  The IRS circulated a copy of the new form and will work with the tax community to finalize the streamlined Form 1040 over the summer.

This new approach will simplify the 1040 so that all 150 million taxpayers can use the same form. The new form consolidates the three versions of the 1040 into one simple form. At the same time, the IRS will still obtain the information from each taxpayer needed to determine their tax liability or refund.

The new Form 1040 uses a “building block” approach, in which the tax return is reduced to a simple form. That form can be supplemented with additional schedules if needed. Taxpayers with straightforward tax situations would only need to file this new 1040 with no additional schedules.

Since more than nine out of 10 taxpayers use software or a tax preparer, the IRS will be working with the tax community to prepare for the streamlined Form 1040. This will also help ensure a smooth transition for people familiar with software products and the interview process used to prepare tax returns.

Taxpayers who file on paper would use this new streamlined Form 1040 and supplement it with any needed schedules.

Mar

21

The Many Ways To Pay A Balance Due

By Bill

The Many Ways to Pay a Balance Due

 

IR-2018-57, March 15, 2018

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers that there are several easy options to pay taxes electronically. For those unable to pay on time, the IRS offers a variety of ways to take care of a tax liability.

This is the fifth in a series of nine IRS news releases called the Tax Time Guide, designed to help taxpayers navigate common tax issues.

This year’s tax-filing deadline is April 17. Taxpayers who owe taxes can choose among the following quick and easy electronic payment options:

  • Electronic Funds Withdrawal (EFW). This option allows taxpayers to e-file and pay from their bank account when using tax preparation software or a tax professional. EFW is only available when electronically filing a tax return.
  • Direct Pay. Available at IRS.gov/directpay, this free online tool allows taxpayers to securely pay their taxes directly from checking or savings accounts without any fees or preregistration. Taxpayers can schedule payments up to 30 days in advance. Those using the tool will receive immediate confirmation when they submit their payment. Taxpayers can opt in to receive email notifications about their payments each time they use Direct Pay.
  • Credit or Debit Card. Pay online, by phone or with a mobile device through any of the authorized debit and credit card processors. The processor charges a fee. The IRS doesn’t receive or charge any fees for payments made with a debit or credit card. Go to https://www.irs.gov/payments for authorized card processors and phone numbers.
  • IRS2Go. The IRS2Go mobile app is free and offers taxpayers the option to make a payment with Direct Pay for free or by debit or credit card through an approved payment processor for a fee. Download IRS2Go free from Google Play, the Apple App Store or the Amazon App Store.
  • Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. This free service gives taxpayers a safe and convenient way to pay individual and business taxes by phone or online. To enroll and for more information, call 800-555-4477, or visit eftps.gov. Both business and individual taxpayers can opt in to receive email notifications about their payments.
  • Cash. Taxpayers paying with cash can use the PayNearMe option. Payments are limited to $1,000 per day, and a $3.99 fee applies to each payment. The IRS urges taxpayers choosing this option to start early, because PayNearMe involves a four-step process. Initiating a payment well ahead of the tax deadline will help taxpayers avoid interest and penalty charges. The IRS offers this option in cooperation with OfficialPayments.com/fed and participating 7-Eleven stores in 34 states. Details, including answers to frequently asked questions, are at IRS.gov/paywithcash.
  • Same-Day Wire Payments. Taxpayers may be able to do a same-day wire transfer from their financial institution. Contact the financial institution for availability, cost and cut-off times. Download and complete the Same-Day Taxpayer Worksheet and take it to the desired financial institution. If paying for more than one tax form or period, complete a separate worksheet for each payment.

Taxpayers must file their 2017 tax returns by April 17, 2018, or request a six-month extension. Extensions can be requested using Free File, by filing Form 4868 or by paying all or part of  the estimated income tax due and indicating that the payment is for an extension using Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) or a credit or debit card. Taxpayers do not have to file a separate extension form and they receive a confirmation number for their records.

Taxpayers who choose to pay by check or money order should make the payment out to the “United States Treasury.” To help ensure that the payment gets credited promptly, also enclose a Form 1040-V payment voucher. Also, print on the front of the check or money order: “2017 Form 1040”; name; address; daytime phone number; and Social Security number.

Taxpayers can go to IRS.gov/account to securely access information about their federal tax account. They can view the amount they owe, pay online or set up an online payment agreement; access their tax records online; review the past 18 months of payment history; and view key tax return information for the current year as filed. Visit IRS.gov/secureaccess to review the required identity authentication process.

Taxpayers who owe, but cannot pay the balance in full, do have options. Often, they qualify for one of several relief programs, including:

Payment Plans, Installment Agreements — Most individuals can set up a payment plan, including an installment agreement, with the IRS using the Online Payment Agreement application in a matter of minutes. If you owe $50,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest you may qualify for a long-term payment plan of up to 72 months. If you owe less than $100,000 in combined tax, penalties and interest, you may qualify for a short-term payment plan of up to 120 days. With the Online Payment Agreement, no paperwork is required, there is no need to call, write or visit the IRS. Alternatively, for a long-term payment plan, taxpayers can request an installment agreement by filing Form 9465. Download the form from IRS.gov and mail it along with a tax return, IRS bill or notice.

Offer in Compromise — Some taxpayers may qualify for an offer in compromise. This is an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. To help determine eligibility, individual taxpayers may use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier, a free online tool available on IRS.gov.

Taxpayers can find answers to tax questions, tax forms and instructions and easy-to-use tools online at IRS.gov 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No appointments needed and no waiting on hold.

Feb

15

Identity Theft

By Bill

Identity Theft

IR-2018-21, Feb. 8, 2018

WASHINGTON –The Internal Revenue Service today announced steep declines in tax-related identity theft in 2017, attributing the success to the Security Summit initiatives that help safeguard the nation’s taxpayers.

Key indicators of identity theft dropped for the second year in a row in 2017. This includes a 40 percent decline in taxpayers reporting they are victims of identity theft in 2016. Since 2015, the number of tax-related identity theft victims has fallen by almost two-thirds and billions of dollars of taxpayer refunds have been protected.

“These dramatic declines reflect the continuing success of the Security Summit effort,” said Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter. “This partnership between the IRS, states and the tax community is helping protect taxpayers against identity theft. More work remains in this effort, and we look forward to continuing this collaborative effort to fight identity theft and refund fraud.”

The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry have started their third filing season working as the Security Summit, a private-public sector partnership formed in 2015 to combat identity theft. Summit partners have put in place multiple behind-the-scenes safeguards that are helping protect the nation’s taxpayers.
Because the IRS and Summit partners have stepped up efforts to stop suspected fraudulent returns from entering tax processing systems, there continues to be a substantial decline in the number of taxpayers reporting that they are victims of identity theft.

Here are key calendar-year 2017 indicators:

  • The number of taxpayers reporting to the IRS that they are victims of identity theft continued its major decline. In 2017, the IRS received 242,000 reports from taxpayers compared to 401,000 in 2016 – a 40 percent decline. This was the second year in a row this number fell, dropping from the 677,000 victim reports in 2015. Overall, the number of identity theft victims has fallen nearly 65 percent between 2015 and 2017.
  • The number of tax returns with confirmed identity theft declined to 597,000 in 2017, compared to 883,000 in 2016 – a 32 percent decline. The amount of refunds protected from those fraudulent returns was $6 billion in 2017, compared to $6.4 billion in 2016. In 2015, there were 1.4 million confirmed identity theft returns totaling $8.7 billion in refunds protected. Overall during the 2015-2017 period, the number of confirmed identity theft tax returns fell by 57 percent with more than $20 billion in taxpayer refunds being protected.
  • The financial industry is a key partner in fighting identity theft, helping the IRS recover fraudulent refunds that may have been issued. In 2017, banks recovered 144,000 refunds compared to 124,000 in 2016 – a 16 percent increase. The amount of refunds recovered was $204 million in 2017, compared to $281 million in 2016. In 2015, the financial industry recovered 249,000 refunds totaling $852 million.
  • In addition to these steep declines, the IRS also is continues reducing the year-over-year inventory backlog of taxpayers who file identity theft reports. For fiscal year 2017, the beginning inventory of identity theft reports submitted by taxpayers was approximately 34,000, under 10 percent of the fiscal year 2013 beginning inventory of 372,000 taxpayer identity theft cases.

These declines follow extensive Summit education efforts in 2017. The Summit partnership conducted awareness campaigns for tax professionals – Don’t Take the Bait – and for taxpayers – National Tax Security Awareness Week  – because everyone has a role in fighting against identity theft.

Cybercriminals Looking for New Lines of Attack

Last year, multiple data breaches from outside the tax system means cybercriminals have basic information on millions of Americans, such as names, Social Security numbers and addresses. The steps taken by the Summit partners since 2015 help protect against fraudulent tax filings that use this basic data. As the IRS and Summit partners have strengthened their defenses, identity thieves are looking to steal more detailed financial information to help provide a more detailed, realistic tax return to better impersonate legitimate taxpayers. Because they need more personal data, cyberthieves increasingly are targeting tax professionals, human resource departments, businesses and other places that have large amounts of sensitive financial information. The IRS continues to see a number of these schemes in attempts to get taxpayer W-2 information from tax professionals and employers.

Everyone must be vigilant and alert. Both taxpayers and tax professionals are encouraged to:

  • Use Security Software. Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files, such as tax records, stored on computers. Use strong, unique passwords for each account.
  • Watch out for scams. Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as banks, credit card companies and even the IRS or a tax software firm. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
  • Protect personal data. Don’t routinely carry Social Security cards and make sure tax records are secure. Shop at reputable online retailers. Treat personal information like cash; don’t leave it lying around.

For more information, see www.irs.gov/identitytheft.

Jan

11

2017 Tax Filing Season Starts January 29, 2018

By Bill

2017 Tax Filing Season Starts January 29, 2018

IR-2018-01, Jan. 04, 2018

WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service announced today that the nation’s tax season will begin Monday, Jan. 29, 2018 and reminded taxpayers claiming certain tax credits that refunds won’t be available before late February.

The IRS will begin accepting tax returns on Jan. 29, with nearly 155 million individual tax returns expected to be filed in 2018. The nation’s tax deadline will be April 17 this year – so taxpayers will have two additional days to file beyond April 15.

Many software companies and tax professionals will be accepting tax returns before Jan. 29 and then will submit the returns when IRS systems open. Although the IRS will begin accepting both electronic and paper tax returns Jan. 29, paper returns will begin processing later in mid-February as system updates continue. The IRS strongly encourages people to file their tax returns electronically for faster refunds.

The IRS set the Jan. 29 opening date to ensure the security and readiness of key tax processing systems in advance of the opening and to assess the potential impact of tax legislation on 2017 tax returns.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that, by law, the IRS cannot issue refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. While the IRS will process those returns when received, it cannot issue related refunds before mid-February. The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting on Feb. 27, 2018, if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return.

The IRS also reminds taxpayers that they should keep copies of their prior-year tax returns for at least three years. Taxpayers who are using a tax software product for the first time will need their adjusted gross income from their 2016 tax return to file electronically. Taxpayers who are using the same tax software they used last year will not need to enter prior-year information to electronically sign their 2017 tax return. Using an electronic filing PIN is no longer an option. Taxpayers can visit IRS.gov/GetReady for more tips on preparing to file their 2017 tax return.

April 17 Filing Deadline

The filing deadline to submit 2017 tax returns is Tuesday, April 17, 2018, rather than the traditional April 15 date. In 2018, April 15 falls on a Sunday, and this would usually move the filing deadline to the following Monday – April 16. However, Emancipation Day – a legal holiday in the District of Columbia – will be observed on that Monday, which pushes the nation’s filing deadline to Tuesday, April 17, 2018. Under the tax law, legal holidays in the District of Columbia affect the filing deadline across the nation.

The IRS also has been working with the tax industry and state revenue departments as part of the Security Summit initiative to continue strengthening processing systems to protect taxpayers from identity theft and refund fraud. The IRS and Summit partners continued to improve these safeguards to further protect taxpayers filing in 2018.

Dec

6

W-2 and 1099 January 31st Filing Deadline

By Bill

W-2 and 1099 January 31st Filing Deadline

IR-2017-189, Nov. 16, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded employers and other businesses of the Jan. 31 filing deadline that now applies to filing wage statements and independent contractor forms with the government.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act includes a requirement for employers to file their copies of Form W-2 and Form W-3 with the Social Security Administration by Jan. 31. The Jan. 31 deadline also applies to certain Forms 1099-MISC filed with IRS to report non-employee compensation to independent contractors. Such payments are reported in box 7 of this form.

This deadline makes it easier for the IRS to verify income that individuals report on their tax returns and helps prevent fraud. Failure to file these forms correctly and timely may result in penalties. As always, the IRS urges employers and other businesses to take advantage of the accuracy, speed and convenience of filing these forms electronically.

Hints to help filers get ready

Employers should verify employees’ information. This includes names, addresses, Social Security or individual taxpayer identification numbers. They should also ensure their company’s account information is current and active with the Social Security Administration before January. If paper Forms W-2 are needed, they should be ordered early.

An extension of time to file Forms W-2 is no longer automatic. The IRS will only grant extensions for very specific reasons. Details can be found on the instructions for Form 8809.

For more information, read the instructions for Forms W-2 & W-3 and the Information Return Penalties page at IRS.gov.

Sep

28

Tax Relief Due To Hurricane Irma

By Bill

Tax Relief Due To Hurricane Irma

Updated 9/15/17 -The IRS is now offering expanded relief to any area designated by FEMA as qualifying for either individual assistance or public assistance in the State of Florida. This represents all 67 counties of Florida.

Updated 9/15/17 – Added counties of Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy, Nassau, Suwannee and Union.

Updated 9/14/17 – Added counties of: Citrus, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Henry, Hernando, Highlands, Indian River, Lake, Marion, Martin, Okeechobee, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia.

Updated 9/13/17 – Added counties of Brevard, Orange, Pasco, Polk and St. Lucie counties.

See also the IRS Hurricane Irma Information Center.

FL-2017-04, Sept. 12, 2017

Florida — Victims of Hurricane Irma that took place beginning on Sept. 4, 2017 in parts of Florida may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service.

The President has declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Florida. Following the recent disaster declaration for individual assistance issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the IRS announced today that affected taxpayers in Florida will receive tax relief.

The IRS is now offering expanded relief to any area designated by FEMA as qualifying for either individual assistance or public assistance in the State of Florida. Individuals who reside or have a business in Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Calhoun, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, DeSoto, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Glades, Gulf, Hamilton, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Holmes, Indian River, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okaloosa, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Volusia, Wakulla, Walton, Washington counties may qualify for tax relief. This represents all 67 counties of Florida.

The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after Sept. 4, 2017 and before Jan. 31, 2018, are granted additional time to file through Jan. 31, 2018. This includes taxpayers who had a valid extension to file their 2016 return that was due to run out on Oct. 16, 2017. It also includes the quarterly estimated income tax payments originally due on Sept. 15, 2017 and Jan. 16, 2018, and the quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on Oct. 31, 2017. It also includes tax-exempt organizations that operate on a calendar-year basis and had an automatic extension due to run out on Nov. 15, 2017. In addition, penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after Sept. 4, 2017, and before Sept. 19, 2017, will be abated as long as the deposits are made by Sept. 19, 2017.

If an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date that falls within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the telephone number on the notice to have the IRS abate the penalty.

The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies automatic filing and payment relief. But affected taxpayers who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area must call the IRS disaster hotline at 866-562-5227 to request this tax relief.

Covered Disaster Area

The counties listed above constitute a covered disaster area for purposes of Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(d)(2) and are entitled to the relief detailed below.

Affected Taxpayers

Taxpayers considered to be affected taxpayers eligible for the postponement of time to file returns, pay taxes and perform other time-sensitive acts are those taxpayers listed in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(d)(1), and include individuals who live, and businesses whose principal place of business is located, in the covered disaster area. Taxpayers not in the covered disaster area, but whose records necessary to meet a deadline listed in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(c) are in the covered disaster area, are also entitled to relief. In addition, all relief workers affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization assisting in the relief activities in the covered disaster area and any individual visiting the covered disaster area who was killed or injured as a result of the disaster are entitled to relief.

Grant of Relief

Under section 7508A, the IRS gives affected taxpayers until Jan. 31, 2018, to file most tax returns (including individual, corporate, and estate and trust income tax returns; partnership returns, S corporation returns, trust returns; estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax returns; annual information returns of tax-exempt organizations; and employment and certain excise tax returns), that have either an original or extended due date occurring on or after Sept. 4, 2017, and before Jan. 31, 2018. Affected taxpayers that have an estimated income tax payment originally due on or after Sept. 4, 2017, and before Jan. 31, 2018, will not be subject to penalties for failure to pay estimated tax installments as long as such payments are paid on or before Jan. 31, 2018. The IRS also gives affected taxpayers until Jan. 31, 2018 to perform other time-sensitive actions described in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(c)(1) and Rev. Proc. 2007-56, 2007-34 I.R.B. 388 (Aug. 20, 2007), that are due to be performed on or after Sept. 4, 2017, and before Jan. 31, 2018.

This relief also includes the filing of Form 5500 series returns, (that were required to be filed on or after Sept. 4, 2017, and before Jan. 31, 2018, in the manner described in section 8 of Rev. Proc. 2007-56. The relief described in section 17 of Rev. Proc. 2007-56, pertaining to like-kind exchanges of property, also applies to certain taxpayers who are not otherwise affected taxpayers and may include acts required to be performed before or after the period above.

Unless an act is specifically listed in Rev. Proc. 2007-56, the postponement of time to file and pay does not apply to information returns in the W-2, 1094, 1095, 1097, 1098, or 1099 series; to Forms 1042-S, 3921, 3922, 8025, or 8027; or to employment and excise tax deposits.  However, penalties on deposits due on or after Sept. 4, 2017, and before Sept. 19, 2017, will be abated as long as the tax deposits are made by Sept. 19, 2017.

Casualty Losses

Affected taxpayers in a federally declared disaster area have the option of claiming disaster-related casualty losses on their federal income tax return for either the year in which the event occurred, or the prior year. See Publication 547 for details.

Individuals may deduct personal property losses that are not covered by insurance or other reimbursements. For details, see Form 4684 and its instructions.

Affected taxpayers claiming the disaster loss on a 2016 return should put the Disaster Designation, “Florida, Hurricane Irma” at the top of the form so that the IRS can expedite the processing of the refund.

Other Relief

The IRS will waive the usual fees and expedite requests for copies of previously filed tax returns for affected taxpayers. Taxpayers should put the assigned Disaster Designation “Florida, Hurricane Irma” in red ink at the top of Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, or Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, as appropriate, and submit it to the IRS.

Affected taxpayers who are contacted by the IRS on a collection or examination matter should explain how the disaster impacts them so that the IRS can provide appropriate consideration to their case. Taxpayers may download forms and publications from the official IRS website, irs.gov, or order them by calling 800-829-3676. The IRS toll-free number for general tax questions is 800-829-1040.

Aug

17

Summer Scams To Watch For

By Bill


Summer Scams to Watch For

IR-2017-112, June 26, 2017                                                                                       Español

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today issued a warning that tax-related scams continue across the nation even though the tax filing season has ended for most taxpayers. People should remain on alert to new and emerging schemes involving the tax system that continue to claim victims.

“We continue to urge people to watch out for new and evolving schemes this summer,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Many of these are variations of a theme, involving fictitious tax bills and demands to pay by purchasing and transferring information involving a gift card or iTunes card. Taxpayers can avoid these and other tricky financial scams by taking a few minutes to review the tell-tale signs of these schemes.”

EFTPS Scam

A new scam which is linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) has been reported nationwide. In this ruse, con artists call to demand immediate tax payment. The caller claims to be from the IRS and says that two certified letters mailed to the taxpayer were returned as undeliverable. The scammer then threatens arrest if a payment is not made immediately by a specific prepaid debit card. Victims are told that the debit card is linked to the EFTPS when, in reality, it is controlled entirely by the scammer. Victims are warned not to talk to their tax preparer, attorney or the local IRS office until after the payment is made.

“Robo-call” Messages

The IRS does not call and leave prerecorded, urgent messages asking for a call back. In this tactic, scammers tell victims that if they do not call back, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. Those who do respond are told they must make immediate payment either by a specific prepaid debit card or by wire transfer.

Private Debt Collection Scams

The IRS recently began sending letters to a relatively small group of taxpayers whose overdue federal tax accounts are being assigned to one of four private-sector collection agencies. Taxpayers should be on the lookout for scammers posing as private collection firms. The IRS-authorized firms will only be calling about a tax debt the person has had – and has been aware of – for years. The IRS would have previously contacted taxpayers about their tax debt.

Scams Targeting People with Limited English Proficiency

Taxpayers with limited English proficiency have been recent targets of phone scams and email phishing schemes that continue to occur across the country. Con artists often approach victims in their native language, threaten them with deportation, police arrest and license revocation among other things. They tell their victims they owe the IRS money and must pay it promptly through a preloaded debit card, gift card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls” or via a phishing email.

Tell Tale Signs of a Scam:

The IRS (and its authorized private collection agencies) will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments. The IRS will usually first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes. All tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury and checks should never be made payable to third parties.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

For anyone who doesn’t owe taxes and has no reason to think they do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the call. Use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page. Alternatively, call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

For anyone who owes tax or thinks they do:

How to Know It’s Really the IRS Calling or Knocking

The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. However, there are special circumstances in which the IRS will call or come to a home or business, such as:

  • when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill,
  • to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment, or,
  • to tour a business as part of an audit or during criminal investigations.

Even then, taxpayers will generally first receive several letters (called “notices”) from the IRS in the mail. For more information, visit “How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door” on IRS.gov.

Jul

28

Good Time To Review Your Withholding

By Bill


Taxpayers Should Review Their Withholding; Avoid Having Too Much or Too Little Federal Income Tax Withheld

IR-2017-121, July 20, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today encouraged taxpayers to consider checking their tax withholding, keeping in mind several factors that could affect potential refunds or taxes they may owe in 2018.

Reviewing the amount of taxes withheld can help taxpayers avoid having too much or too little federal income tax taken from their paychecks. Having the correct amount taken out helps to move taxpayers closer to a zero balance at the end of the year when they file their tax return, which means no taxes owed or refund due.

During the year, changes sometimes occur in a taxpayer’s life, such as in their marital status, that impacts exemptions, adjustments or credits that they will claim on their tax return. When this happens, they need to give their employer a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, to change their withholding status or number of allowances.

Employers use the form to figure the amount of federal income tax to be withheld from pay. Making these changes in the late summer or early fall can give taxpayers enough time to adjust their withholdings before the tax year ends in December.

The withholding review takes on even more importance now that federal law requires the IRS to hold refunds a few weeks for some early filers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit. In addition, the steps the IRS and state tax administrators are now taking to strengthen protections against identity theft and refund fraud mean some tax returns could face additional review time next year.

So far in 2017, the IRS has issued more than 106 million tax refunds out of the 142 million total individual tax returns processed, with the average refund well over $2,700. Historically, refund dollar amounts have increased over time.

 Making a Withholding Adjustment

In many cases, a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, is all that is needed to make an adjustment. Taxpayers submit it to their employer, and the employer uses the form to figure the amount of federal income tax to be withheld from their employee’s pay.

The IRS offers several online resources to help taxpayers bring taxes paid closer to what they owe. They are available anytime on IRS.gov. They include:

Self-employed taxpayers, including those involved in the sharing economy, can use the Form 1040-ES worksheet to correctly figure their estimated tax payments. If they also work for an employer, they can often forgo making these quarterly payments by instead having more tax taken out of their pay.

Apr

21

Is It Really the IRS At Your Door?

By Bill

IRS Provides Tips on Determining If It’s Really The IRS At Your Door

IR-2017-86, April 19, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service has created a special new page on IRS.gov to help taxpayers determine if a person visiting their home or place of business claiming to be from the IRS is legitimate or an imposter.

With continuing phone scams and in-person scams taking place across the country, the IRS reminds taxpayers that IRS employees do make official, sometimes unannounced, visits to taxpayers as part of their routine casework. Taxpayers should keep in mind the reasons these visits occur and understand how to verify if it is the IRS knocking at their door.

Visits typically fall into three categories:

IRS revenue officers will sometimes make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss taxes owed or tax returns due. Revenue officers are IRS civil enforcement employees whose role involves education, investigation, and when necessary, appropriate enforcement.

IRS revenue agents will sometimes visit a taxpayer who is being audited. That taxpayer would have first been notified by mail about the audit and set an agreed-upon appointment time with the revenue agent. Also, after mailing an initial appointment letter to a taxpayer, an auditor may call to confirm and discuss items pertaining to the scheduled audit appointment.

IRS criminal investigators may visit a taxpayer’s home or place of business unannounced while conducting an investigation. However, these are federal law enforcement agents, and they will not demand any sort of payment. Criminal investigators also carry law enforcement credentials, including a badge.

For more information, visit “How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door” on IRS.gov.

The IRS reminds people who owe taxes – or think they do – to stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more information, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.

Taxpayers have a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore these rights and the agency’s obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.