IRS Tax News

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  • 15 Aug 2018 4:29 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service urges taxpayers who support dependents who can’t be claimed for the Child Tax Credit to do a paycheck checkup soon. The IRS Withholding Calculator can help these taxpayers make sure they have the right amount of tax taken out of their pay.

    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, enacted in December 2017, added a new tax credit – Credit for Other Dependents. It is a non-refundable credit of up to $500 per qualifying person. Taxpayers may be able to claim the new credit for dependents that these taxpayers claimed a dependency exemption for in the past.

    This change, along with others, can affect a family’s tax situation in 2018. Checking and adjusting withholding now can prevent an unexpected tax bill and even penalties next year at tax time.

    The Credit for Other Dependents is available for dependents for whom taxpayers cannot claim the newly expanded Child Tax Credit. These dependents may include dependent children who are age 17 or older at the end of 2018, or parents or other qualifying relatives supported by the taxpayer. Families with qualifying children under the age of 17 should first review their eligibility for the expanded Child Tax Credit, which is larger.

    The Credit for Other Dependents and the Child Tax Credit begin to phase out at $400,000 of modified adjusted gross income for joint filers and $200,000 for other taxpayers. For more information about these credits, visit Steps to Take Now to Get a Jump on Next Year’s Taxes on IRS.gov.

    These credits are among many changes in the new law that will affect 2018 tax returns that people will file in 2019. The IRS Withholding Calculator, available on IRS.gov, can help people with dependents – and others – apply the new law correctly.

    The IRS urges all taxpayers to complete their “paycheck checkup” as early as possible so that if a withholding amount adjustment is necessary, there’s more time for withholding to take place evenly throughout the year. Waiting means there are fewer pay periods to withhold the necessary federal tax – so more tax will have to be withheld from each remaining paycheck.

    Taxpayers who change their withholding for 2018 should recheck their withholding at the start of 2019, especially taxpayers who reduce their withholding sometime during 2018. A mid-year withholding change in 2018 may have a different full-year impact in 2019. If taxpayers don’t submit a new Form W-4 for 2019, their withholding might be higher or lower than intended.

    Using the Withholding Calculator

    To use the Withholding Calculator, taxpayers should have their 2017 tax returns and most recent paystubs available to determine their proper withholding for 2018.

    Calculator results depend on the accuracy of information entered. If a taxpayer’s personal circumstances change during the year, they should return to the calculator to check whether their withholding should be changed.

    Employees can use the results from the Withholding Calculator to determine if they should complete a new Form W-4 and, if so, what information to enter on that form.

    The Withholding Calculator does not request personally-identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, address or bank account number. The IRS does not save or record the information entered on the calculator. As always, taxpayers should watch out for tax scams, especially via email or phone and be alert to cybercriminals impersonating the IRS. The IRS does not send emails related to the Withholding Calculator or the information entered on it.

    Adjusting withholding

    The Withholding Calculator will recommend how to complete new Forms W-4. If a taxpayer is at risk of being under-withheld, the calculator will recommend an additional amount of tax withholding for each job. The taxpayer can enter these amounts on their respective Forms W-4.

    Employees who need to complete a new Form W-4 should submit it to their employers as soon as possible. Employees with a change in personal circumstances that reduce the number of withholding allowances must submit a new Form W-4 with corrected withholding allowances to their employer within 10 days of the change.

    Certain taxpayers – including those who don’t have enough income tax withheld by their employer – may have to pay estimated taxes. For additional information, refer to Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax.

    Taxpayers may also need to determine if they should make adjustments to their state or local withholding. They can contact their state's department of revenue to learn more.

    For information about steps taxpayers can take now to get a head start on next year’s taxes, including how the new tax law may affect them, visit IRS.gov/getready.

  • 14 Aug 2018 1:50 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service and the Security Summit partners warned tax professionals that savvy cybercriminals target IRS-issued identification numbers to help impersonate practitioners as well as taxpayers.

    To help protect against this threat used on the Dark Web, the IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry reminded practitioners that they must maintain, monitor and protect their Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs) as well as keep tabs on their Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) and Centralized Authorization File (CAF) numbers.

    This is the sixth in a series called "Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself: Tax Security 101." The Security Summit awareness campaign is intended to provide tax professionals with the basic information they need to better protect taxpayer data and to help prevent the filing of fraudulent tax returns.

    Although the Security Summit -- a partnership between the IRS, states and the private-sector tax community -- is making progress against tax-related identity theft, cybercriminals continue to evolve, and data theft at tax professionals’ offices is on the rise. Thieves use stolen data from tax practitioners to create fraudulent returns that are harder to detect.

    Cybercriminals sometimes post stolen EFINs, PTINs and CAF numbers on the Dark Web as a crime kit for identity thieves who can then file fraudulent tax returns. EFINs are necessary for tax professionals or their firms to file client returns electronically. PTINs are issued to those who, for a fee, prepare tax returns or claims for refund. CAF numbers are issued when tax practitioners or their firms file a request for third-party access to client files.

    These identification numbers may only be obtained directly from the IRS.

    Here’s what tax professionals can do to protect these important numbers from identity thieves:

    Maintaining EFINs

    Once a tax professional has completed the EFIN application process and received an EFIN, it is important that they keep their account up-to-date at all times. This includes:

    • Review the e-File application periodically. Tax professionals’ e-file application must be updated within 30 days of any changes such as individuals involved, addresses or telephone numbers. Failure to do so may result in the inactivation of an EFIN.
    • Ensure proper individuals are identified on the application, and update as necessary. The principal listed on the application is the individual authorized to act for the business in any legal or tax matters. Periodically access the account.
    • Add any new principals or responsible officials promptly.
    • Update any business address changes, including adding new locations.
    • EFINs are not transferable; if selling the businesses, the new principals must obtain their own EFIN.
    • There must be an EFIN application for each office location; for those expanding their business, an application is required for each location where e-file transmissions will occur.

    Monitoring EFINs, PTINs and CAFs

    Tax professionals can obtain a weekly report of the number of tax returns filed with their EFIN and PTIN. For PTIN holders, only those preparers who are attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents or Annual Filing Season Program participants and who file 50 or more returns may obtain PTIN information. Weekly checks will help flag any abuses by cybercriminals. Here’s how:

    For EFIN totals:

    • Access the e-Services account and the EFIN application;
    • Select “EFIN Status” from the application;
    • Contact the IRS e-help Desk if the return totals exceed the number of returns filed.

    For PTIN totals:

    • Access the online PTIN account;
    • Select “View Returns Filed Per PTIN;”
    • Complete Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer, to report excessive use or misuse of PTIN.

    For those with a Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number, make sure to keep authorizations up to date. Tax professionals should make an annual review to identify outstanding third-party authorizations for people who are no longer their clients. It is important that tax professionals remove authorizations for taxpayers who are no longer their clients.

    See “Withdrawal of Representation” in Publication 947, Practice Before the IRS and Power of Attorney. Information also is available in the instructions for Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, or Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, for additional information on withdrawing representation.

    Protecting EFINs

    The same good security habits for protecting client data also can protect the EFIN. Those include the use of strong anti-virus software, strong and unique passwords, two-factor authentication where available.

    • Learn to recognize and avoid phishing scams; do not open links or attachments from suspicious emails, most data thefts begin with a phishing email.
    • Secure all devices with security software and let it automatically update.
    • Use strong passwords of eight or more mixed characters; use phrases that are easily remembered and password protect all wireless devices.
    • Encrypt all sensitive files/emails and use strong password protections.
    • Backup sensitive data to a safe and secure external source not connected fulltime to the network.
    • Wipe clean or destroy old computer hard drives that contain sensitive data.

    In addition to these steps, the Security Summit reminds all professional tax preparers that they must have a written data security plan as required by the Federal Trade Commission and its Safeguards Rule. They can get help with security recommendations by reviewing the recently revised IRS Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, and Small Business Information Security: the Fundamentals by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

    Publication 5293, Data Security Resource Guide for Tax Professionals, provides a compilation of data theft information available on IRS.gov. Also, tax professionals should stay connected to the IRS through subscriptions to e-News for Tax Professionals, QuickAlerts and Social Media.

  • 08 Aug 2018 11:32 AM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service issued proposed regulations today for a new provision allowing many owners of sole proprietorships, partnerships, trusts and S corporations to deduct 20 percent of their qualified business income.

    The new deduction -- referred to as the Section 199A deduction or the deduction for qualified business income -- was created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The deduction is available for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017. Eligible taxpayers can claim it for the first time on the 2018 federal income tax return they file next year.

    The deduction is generally available to eligible taxpayers whose 2018 taxable incomes fall below $315,000 for joint returns and $157,500 for other taxpayers. It’s generally equal to the lesser of 20 percent of their qualified business income plus 20 percent of their qualified real estate investment trust dividends and qualified publicly traded partnership income or 20 percent of taxable income minus net capital gains.

    Deductions for taxpayers above the $157,500/$315,000 taxable income thresholds may be limited. Those limitations are fully described in the proposed regulations.

    Qualified business income includes domestic income from a trade or business. Employee wages, capital gain, interest and dividend income are excluded.

    In addition, Notice 2018-64, also issued today, provides methods for calculating Form W-2 wages for purposes of the limitations on this deduction. More information may be found at www.IRS.gov.

    Taxpayers may rely on the rules in these proposed regulations until final regulations are published in the Federal Register.

    Written or electronic comments and requests for a public hearing on this proposed regulation must be received within 45 days of publication in the Federal Register.

  • 06 Aug 2018 11:47 AM | Anonymous

    IR-2018-160, Aug. 3, 2018

    WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service issued guidance today on new tax law changes that allow small business taxpayers with average annual gross earnings of $25 million or less in the prior three-year period to use the cash method of accounting.

    The Revenue Procedure outlines the process that eligible small business taxpayers may obtain automatic consent to change accounting methods that are now permitted under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or TCJA.

    The TCJA, enacted in December 2017, expands the number of small business taxpayers eligible to use the cash method of accounting and exempts these small businesses from certain accounting rules for inventories, cost capitalization and long-term contracts.  As a result, more small business taxpayers will be allowed to change to cash method accounting starting after Dec. 31, 2017.

    The Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service welcome public comments on future guidance. For details on submitting comments, see the Revenue Procedure.

    Updates on the implementation of the TCJA can be found on the Tax Reform page of IRS.gov.

  • 06 Aug 2018 11:45 AM | Anonymous

    If you have an active e-file application on file and have made changes such as adding a provider option, principal or responsible official and it has not been resubmitted it will be deleted in 90 days.  If the application is not resubmitted and the 90 days has not elapsed since the changes were made, the application can be resubmitted by an authorized individual.

    If 90 days has elapsed and your application has been deleted, contact the e-help Desk at 866-255-0654 for assistance with resubmitting your application.

  • 30 Jun 2018 8:15 AM | Anonymous

    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.

  • 19 Jun 2018 3:39 PM | Anonymous

    The IRS wants to help the small business and self-employed communities determine whether an unsolicited contact is truly from an IRS employee.

    The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. However, there are special circumstances in which the IRS will call or come to a 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 the business as part of an audit.

    See: How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door for more information.

  • 25 May 2018 2:30 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON –  The Internal Revenue Service today provided information to taxpayers and employers about changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that affect:

    • Move related vehicle expenses
    • Un-reimbursed employee expenses
    • Vehicle expensing

    Changes to the deduction for move-related vehicle expenses

    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspends the deduction for moving expenses for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017, and goes through Jan. 1, 2026. Thus, during the suspension no deduction is allowed for use of an automobile as part of a move using the mileage rate listed in Notice 2018-03.  This suspension does not apply to members of the Armed Forces of the United States on active duty who move pursuant to a military order related to a permanent change of station.

    Changes to the deduction for un-reimbursed employee expenses

    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also suspends all miscellaneous itemized deductions that are subject to the 2 percent of adjusted gross income floor. This change affects un-reimbursed employee expenses such as uniforms, union dues and the deduction for business-related meals, entertainment and travel.

    Thus, the business standard mileage rate listed in Notice 2018-03, which was issued before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed, cannot be used to claim an itemized deduction for un-reimbursed employee travel expenses in taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017, and before Jan. 1, 2026. The IRS issued revised guidance today in Notice 2018-42.

    Standard mileage rates for 2018

    As mentioned in Notice 2018-03, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck for 2018 remain:

    • 54.5 cents for every mile of business travel driven, a 1 cent increase from 2017.
    • 18 cents per mile driven for medical purposes, a 1 cent increase from 2017.
    • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations, which is set by statute and remains unchanged.

    The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical purposes is based on the variable costs.

    Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

    A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously.

    Increased depreciation limits

    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act increases the depreciation limitations for passenger automobiles placed in service after Dec. 31, 2017, for purposes of computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan. The maximum standard automobile cost may not exceed $50,000 for passenger automobiles, trucks and vans placed in service after Dec. 31, 2017. Previously, the maximum standard automobile cost was $27,300 for passenger automobiles and $31,000 for trucks and vans.

    More information

    Notice 2018-42 is posted on IRS.gov and contains information about the update to the standard mileage rates, including the details about the suspension of the deduction for operating a vehicle for moving purposes.

  • 25 May 2018 2:19 PM | Anonymous

    IRS YouTube Videos:

    • Phishing/Malware -- English
    • Why Tax Professionals Need a Security Plan -- English
    • How to Maintain, Monitor and Protect Your EFIN -- English

    WASHINGTON – The IRS and its state and industry Security Summit partners today warned tax practitioners to beware of phishing emails posing as state accounting and professional associations.

    This week, the IRS received reports from tax professionals who received fake emails that were trying to trick them into disclosing their email usernames and passwords.

    Cybercriminals specifically targeted tax professionals in Iowa, Illinois, New Jersey and North Carolina. The IRS also received reports about a Canadian accounting association.

    The awkwardly worded phishing email states: “We kindly request that you follow this link HERE and sign in with your email to view this information from (name of accounting association) to all active members. This announcement has been updated for your kind information through our secure information sharing portal which is linked to your email server.”

    Tax practitioners nationwide should be on guard because cybercriminals can easily change their tactics, using other association names or making other adjustments in their scam attempts.

    Tax practitioners who are members of professional associations should go directly to those associations’ websites rather than open any links or attachments. Tax practitioners who receive suspicious emails related to taxes or the IRS, or phishing attempts to gain access to practitioner databases, should forward those emails to phishing@irs.gov.

    This scam serves as a reminder to all tax professionals that cybercriminals are targeting their offices in an attempt to steal client data.

    To assist tax professionals with safeguards, the Security Summit partners urge practitioners to follow these minimal security steps:

    • Learn to recognize phishing emails, especially those pretending to be from the IRS, e-Services, a tax software provider or cloud storage provider. Never open a link or any attachment from a suspicious email. Remember: The IRS never initiates initial contact with a tax pro via email.
    • Create a data security plan using IRS Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, and Small Business Information Security – The Fundamentals, by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
    • Review internal controls: 
      • Install anti-malware/anti-virus security software on all devices (laptops, desktops, routers, tablets and phones) and keep software set to automatically update.
      • Create passwords of at least eight characters; longer is better. Use different passwords for each account, use special and alphanumeric characters and phrases. Password protect wireless devices and consider a password manager program.
      • Encrypt all sensitive files/emails and use strong password protections.
      • Back up sensitive data to a safe and secure external source not connected fulltime to a network.
      • Wipe clean or destroy old computer hard drives and printers that contain sensitive data.
      • Limit access to taxpayer data to individuals who need to know.
      • Check IRS e-Services account weekly for number of returns filed with EFIN.
    • Report any data theft or data loss to the appropriate IRS Stakeholder Liaison.
    • Stay connected to the IRS through subscriptions to e-News for Tax Professionals, Quick Alerts and Social Media.

    Additional resources:

  • 23 May 2018 1:34 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service issued a notice today stating that proposed regulations will be issued addressing the deductibility of state and local tax payments for federal income tax purposes. Notice 2018-54 also informs taxpayers that federal law controls the characterization of the payments for federal income tax purposes regardless of the characterization of the payments under state law.

    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) limited the amount of state and local taxes an individual can deduct in a calendar year to $10,000. In response to this new limitation, some state legislatures have adopted or are considering legislative proposals allowing taxpayers to make payments to specified entities in exchange for a tax credit against state and local taxes owed.

    The upcoming proposed regulations, to be issued in the near future, will help taxpayers understand the relationship between federal charitable contribution deductions and the new statutory limitation on the deduction of state and local taxes.

    Taxpayers should also be aware the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service are continuing to monitor other legislative proposals being considered to ensure that federal law controls the characterization of deductions for federal income tax filings.

    The limitation imposed by the TCJA applies to taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2026.

    Updates on the implementation of the TCJA can be found on the Tax Reform page of IRS.gov.

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