IRS Tax News

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  • 14 Dec 2017 3:59 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued revised guidance extending relief for certain partnerships, real estate mortgage investment conduits (REMICs), and other entities that did not file the required returns by the new due date for tax years beginning in 2016.

    The Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 (Surface Transportation Act) changed the date by which a partnership, REMIC, or other entity must file its annual return.  For calendar year filers, the due date for filing the annual return or request for an extension changed from April 15 (April 18 in 2017) to March 15.  

    Many entities filed their returns or their extension request for tax year 2016 by the April deadline, and if not for the Surface Transportation Act, these returns and requests for extension of time to file would have been on time.

    Notice 2017-47 provided relief from the penalty for failure to timely file for partnerships and REMICs that filed by the date that would have been timely prior to amendment by the Surface Transportation Act.

    Notice 2017-71 amplifies, clarifies, and supersedes Notice 2017-47 by providing that additional acts, such as the making of various elections, of partnerships, REMICs, and certain other entities made by the date that would have been timely prior to amendment by the Surface Transportation Act will be treated as timely.  An earlier release of Notice 2017-71 provided this relief only to taxpayers whose taxable years began and ended in 2016, but today’s revised guidance also applies to fiscal-year filers whose taxable years began in 2016 but did not end until 2017.

    Notice 2017-71 will be published in IRB 2017-51 on December 18, 2017.

  • 14 Dec 2017 3:58 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2018 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

    Beginning on Jan. 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

    • 54.5 cents for every mile of business travel driven, up 1 cent from the rate for 2017.
    • 18 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, up 1 cent from the rate for 2017.
    • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

    The business mileage rate and the medical and moving expense rates each increased 1 cent per mile from the rates for 2017. The charitable rate 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 and moving 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 (MACRS) 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.  These and other requirements are described in Rev. Proc. 2010-51.

    Notice 2018-03, posted today on IRS.gov, contains the standard mileage rates, the amount a taxpayer must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate, and the maximum standard automobile cost that a taxpayer may use in computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan. 

  • 14 Dec 2017 8:34 AM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers and tax professionals of a new email scam targeting Hotmail users that is being used to steal personal and financial information.

    The phishing email subject line reads: “Internal Revenue Service Email No. XXXX | We’re processing your request soon | TXXXXXX-XXXXXXXX”. The email leads taxpayers to sign in to a fake Microsoft page and then asks for personal and financial information.

    The IRS has received over 900 complaints about this new phishing scheme that seems to exclusively target Hotmail users. The suspect websites associated with this scam have been shut down, but taxpayers should be on the lookout for similar schemes.

    Individuals who receive unsolicited emails claiming to be from the IRS should forward it to phishing@irs.gov and then delete it. It is important to keep in mind the IRS generally does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. For more information, visit the “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” page on IRS.gov.

    The IRS reminds tax professionals to be aware of phishing emails, free offers and other common tricks by scammers. Tax professionals who have data breaches should contact the IRS immediately through their Stakeholder Liaison. See Data Theft Information for Tax Professionals

  • 08 Dec 2017 3:30 PM | Anonymous

    All e-Services users,

    Starting Dec. 10, 2017, all e-Services users must register through a new, more rigorous identity proofing process called Secure Access.

    Any e-Services user who has not previously created a Secure Access account through Get Transcript Online, IP PIN tool, View Balance or by exception processing in recent days must validate their identity through this more rigorous process. This also includes all TIN Matching users and users who received Letter 5903 last December and authenticated by telephone.

    This new process is not optional on the part of the IRS or its online users. We apologize for the short notice, but as you know we’ve been planning this move for more than a year. The IRS must make this change to meet federal information system standards. Additionally, cybercriminals increasingly are targeting tax professionals to steal e-Services usernames and passwords, putting taxpayer data at risk.

    In recent years, we authenticated each e-Services user individually. When you registered for e-Services, you were asked for your name, address, social security number, your date of birth, adjusted gross income and filing status. That limited amount of information no longer is enough to meet federal information system standards. Users will continue to be authenticated as individuals.

    Here’s how Secure Access helps –

    •              First, it strengthens the initial identity proofing process to make sure the person registering is who they say they are.

    •              Second, it strengthens security through a two-factor authentication process for returning users that helps prevent account takeover by cybercriminals. Two-factor authentication means you must have your credentials (username and password) plus a security code sent to your mobile phone or generated by your IRS2Go app each time you log in.

    Once you have authenticated your identity and established a Secure Access account for e-Services, there is no further action required. Please note: Under Secure Access, you can no longer script the login process.

    Learn more about the steps you must take to successfully complete the Secure Access process, alternatives to online processing and how to use the IRS2Go app. See “Important Update about Your e-Services Account” at www.irs.gov/eservices.
  • 31 Oct 2017 5:11 PM | Anonymous

    For Tax Year 2016, E-File Closes on Nov. 18;
    After That, Disaster Victims, Others Need to File on Paper

    WASHINGTON —The Internal Revenue Service today reminded people, including those in disaster areas, who want to file a 2016 tax return electronically to do so by Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Filing of paper tax returns will remain available after that date.

    IRS Modernized e-file, the system that processes electronically-filed individual returns, will shut down after Nov. 18 so the agency can perform annual maintenance and to enable the IRS to reprogram the system for the upcoming 2018 tax-filing season.

    As a result, any taxpayer needing to file after Nov. 18 will need to do so on paper.

    While most individuals have already filed their 2016 federal tax returns, certain taxpayers may qualify for an extension until Jan. 31, 2018. This includes taxpayers who live in a federally declared disaster area, have a U.S. tax filing obligation, and had previously obtained a valid 6-month extension of time to file their federal tax return. The federally declared disaster areas include hurricane and tropical storm victims in Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and parts of Texas, Louisiana and South Carolina, as well as wildfire victims in parts of California.

  • 27 Oct 2017 11:11 AM | Anonymous

    E-Services Users,  

    Here’s a quick update on critical issues currently affecting e-Services users. Because the IRS is still reviewing its contract options for an identity-proofing vendor, the move of e-Services to Secure Access authentication will be delayed. The transition was originally planned for later this month. As of today, we do not have a new date. We will communicate via Quick Alert as soon as a new launch date is set.

    Also, the technology upgrade of moving e-Services to a new platform continues. This means you are unable to take certain actions, like requesting an EFIN, viewing or updating an application. We recognize this is creating a hardship for some of you. Once the applications become available, which should be soon, we will have additional personnel available for the e-Help Desk to assist you and process your requests and applications as a priority.

    Please continue your organizational activities to prepare for Secure Access migration. We apologize for the inconvenience.  Please know that we are doing our best to provide you with a series of upgraded services that will not only will make e-Services easier to use but also make it more secure for you and your clients.  


  • 19 Oct 2017 12:31 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2018.  The IRS today issued technical guidance detailing these items in Notice 2017-64.

    Highlights of Changes for 2018

    The contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $18,000 to $18,500.

    The income ranges for determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), to contribute to Roth IRAs and to claim the saver’s credit all increased for 2018.

    Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions. If during the year either the taxpayer or their spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be reduced, or phased out, until it is eliminated, depending on filing status and income. (If neither the taxpayer nor their spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work, the phase-outs of the deduction do not apply.) Here are the phase-out ranges for 2018:

    • For single taxpayers covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $63,000 to $73,000, up from $62,000 to $72,000.
    • For married couples filing jointly, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $101,000 to $121,000, up from $99,000 to $119,000.
    • For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $189,000 and $199,000, up from $186,000 and $196,000.
    • For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

    The income phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $120,000 to $135,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $118,000 to $133,000. For married couples filing jointly, the income phase-out range is $189,000 to $199,000, up from $186,000 to $196,000. The phase-out range for a married individual filing a separate return who makes contributions to a Roth IRA is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

    The income limit for the Saver’s Credit (also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit) for low- and moderate-income workers is $63,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $62,000; $47,250 for heads of household, up from $46,500; and $31,500 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up from $31,000.

    Highlights of Limitations that Remain Unchanged from 2017

    • The limit on annual contributions to an IRA remains unchanged at $5,500. The additional catch-up contribution limit for individuals aged 50 and over is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $1,000.
    • The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $6,000.

    Detailed Description of Adjusted and Unchanged Limitations

    Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) provides for dollar limitations on benefits and contributions under qualified retirement plans. Section 415(d) requires that the Secretary of the Treasury annually adjust these limits for cost of living increases. Other limitations applicable to deferred compensation plans are also affected by these adjustments under Section 415. Under Section 415(d), the adjustments are to be made following adjustment procedures similar to those used to adjust benefit amounts under Section 215(i)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act.

    Effective Jan. 1, 2018, the limitation on the annual benefit under a defined benefit plan under Section 415(b)(1)(A) is increased from $215,000 to $220,000. For a participant who separated from service before Jan. 1, 2018, the limitation for defined benefit plans under Section 415(b)(1)(B) is computed by multiplying the participant's compensation limitation, as adjusted through 2017, by 1.0196.

    The limitation for defined contribution plans under Section 415(c)(1)(A) is increased in 2018 from $54,000 to $55,000.

    The Code provides that various other dollar amounts are to be adjusted at the same time and in the same manner as the dollar limitation of Section 415(b)(1)(A). After taking into account the applicable rounding rules, the amounts for 2018 are as follows:

    The limitation under Section 402(g)(1) on the exclusion for elective deferrals described in Section 402(g)(3) is increased from $18,000 to $18,500.

    The annual compensation limit under Sections 401(a)(17), 404(l), 408(k)(3)(C), and 408(k)(6)(D)(ii) is increased from $270,000 to $275,000.

    The dollar limitation under Section 416(i)(1)(A)(i) concerning the definition of key employee in a top-heavy plan remains unchanged at $175,000.

    The dollar amount under Section 409(o)(1)(C)(ii) for determining the maximum account balance in an employee stock ownership plan subject to a five year distribution period is increased from $1,080,000 to $1,105,000, while the dollar amount used to determine the lengthening of the five year distribution period is increased from $215,000 to $220,000.

    The limitation used in the definition of highly compensated employee under Section 414(q)(1)(B) remains unchanged at $120,000.

    The dollar limitation under Section 414(v)(2)(B)(i) for catch-up contributions to an applicable employer plan other than a plan described in Section 401(k)(11) or Section 408(p) for individuals aged 50 or over remains unchanged at $6,000. The dollar limitation under Section 414(v)(2)(B)(ii) for catch-up contributions to an applicable employer plan described in Section 401(k)(11) or Section 408(p) for individuals aged 50 or over remains unchanged at $3,000.

    The annual compensation limitation under Section 401(a)(17) for eligible participants in certain governmental plans that, under the plan as in effect on July 1, 1993, allowed cost of living adjustments to the compensation limitation under the plan under Section 401(a)(17) to be taken into account, is increased from $400,000 to $405,000.

    The compensation amount under Section 408(k)(2)(C) regarding simplified employee pensions (SEPs) remains unchanged at $600.

    The limitation under Section 408(p)(2)(E) regarding SIMPLE retirement accounts remains unchanged at $12,500.

    The limitation on deferrals under Section 457(e)(15) concerning deferred compensation plans of state and local governments and tax-exempt organizations is increased from $18,000 to $18,500.

    The limitation under Section 664(g)(7) concerning the qualified gratuitous transfer of qualified employer securities to an employee stock ownership plan is increased from $45,000 to $50,000.

    The compensation amount under Section 1.61 21(f)(5)(i) of the Income Tax Regulations concerning the definition of “control employee” for fringe benefit valuation is increased from $105,000 to $110,000. The compensation amount under Section 1.61 21(f)(5)(iii) is increased from $215,000 to $220,000.

    The dollar limitation on premiums paid with respect to a qualifying longevity annuity contract under Section 1.401(a)(9)-6, A-17(b)(2)(i) of the Income Tax Regulations is increased from $125,000 to $130,000.

    The Code provides that the $1,000,000,000 threshold used to determine whether a multiemployer plan is a systemically important plan under Section 432(e)(9)(H)(v)(III)(aa) is adjusted using the cost-of-living adjustment provided under Section 432(e)(9)(H)(v)(III)(bb). After taking the applicable rounding rule into account, the threshold used to determine whether a multiemployer plan is a systemically important plan under Section 432(e)(9)(H)(v)(III)(aa) is increased for 2018 from $1,012,000,000 to $1,087,000,000.

    The Code also provides that several retirement-related amounts are to be adjusted using the cost-of-living adjustment under Section 1(f)(3). After taking the applicable rounding rules into account, the amounts for 2018 are as follows:

    The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for married taxpayers filing a joint return is increased from $37,000 to $38,000; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $40,000 to $41,000; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $62,000 to $63,000.

    The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit for taxpayers filing as head of household is increased from $27,750 to $28,500; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $30,000 to $30,750; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $46,500 to $47,250.

    The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit for all other taxpayers is increased from $18,500 to $19,000; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $20,000 to $20,500; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $31,000 to $31,500.

    The deductible amount under Section 219(b)(5)(A) for an individual making qualified retirement contributions remains unchanged at $5,500.

    The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(i) for determining the deductible amount of an IRA contribution for taxpayers who are active participants filing a joint return or as a qualifying widow(er) increased from $99,000 to $101,000. The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(ii) for all other taxpayers who are active participants (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) increased from $62,000 to $63,000. If an individual or the individual’s spouse is an active participant, the applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(iii) for a married individual filing a separate return is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0. The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(7)(A) for a taxpayer who is not an active participant but whose spouse is an active participant is increased from $186,000 to $189,000.

    The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 408A(c)(3)(B)(ii)(I) for determining the maximum Roth IRA contribution for married taxpayers filing a joint return or for taxpayers filing as a qualifying widow(er) is increased from $186,000 to $189,000. The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 408A(c)(3)(B)(ii)(II) for all other taxpayers (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) is increased from $118,000 to $120,000. The applicable dollar amount under Section 408A(c)(3)(B)(ii)(III) for a married individual filing a separate return is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0.

  • 12 Oct 2017 1:00 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today alerted tax professionals and their clients to a fake insurance tax form scam that is being used to access annuity and life insurance accounts.

    Cybercriminals currently are combining several tactics to create a complex scheme through which both tax professionals and taxpayers have been victimized.

    There may be variations but here’s how one scam works: The cybercriminal, impersonating a legitimate cloud-based storage provider, entices a tax professional with a phishing email. The tax professional, thinking they are interacting with the legitimate cloud-based storage provider, provides their email credentials including username and password.

    With access to the tax professional’s account, the cybercriminal steals client email addresses. The cybercriminal then impersonates the tax professional and sends emails to their clients, attaching a fake IRS insurance form and requesting that the form be completed and returned. The cybercriminal receives replies by fax and/or by an email very similar to the tax professional’s email – using a different email service provider or a slight variation to the tax pro’s address.  

    The subject line varies but may be “urgent information” or a similar request. The awkwardly worded text of the email states:

    Dear Life Insurance Policy Owner,

    Kindly fill the form attached for your Life insurance or Annuity contract details and fax back to us for processing in order to avoid multiple (sic) tax bill (sic).

    The cybercriminal, using data from the completed form, impersonates the client and contacts the individual’s insurance company. The cybercriminal then attempts to obtain a loan or make a withdrawal from those accounts.

    The IRS reminds tax professionals to be aware of phishing emails, free offers and other common tricks by scammers. Those tax professionals who have data breaches should contact the IRS immediately through their Stakeholder Liaison. See Data Theft Information for Tax Professionals.

    Individuals who receive the insurance tax form scam email should forward it to phishing@irs.gov and then delete it. Individuals who completed and returned the fake tax form should contact their insurance carrier for assistance. 

  • 11 Oct 2017 2:30 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON — The IRS today warned all e-Services users to beware of a new phishing scam that tries to trick tax professionals into “signing” a new e-Services user agreement. The phishing scam seeks to steal passwords and data.

    The scam email claims to be from “e-Services Registration” and uses “Important Update about Your e-Services Account” in the subject line. It states, in part, “We are rolling out a new user agreement and all registered users must accept its revised terms to have access to e-Services and its products.” It asks the individual to review and accept the agreement but takes them to a fake site instead.

    All tax professionals should be aware that as e-Services begins its move later this month to Secure Access authentication and its two-factor protections, cybercriminals likely will make last-ditch efforts to steal passwords and data prior to the transition. As the IRS has warned over the past few years, these sophisticated schemes are adaptive in nature and everyone should be cautious before clinking on a link or entering sensitive personal information.

    For those who may have clicked onto this link, perform a deep scan with security software, contact IT/cybersecurity personnel and the IRS e-Help Desk.

    To read more about what the IRS is doing to protect accounts with Secure Access authentication, go directly to the main e-Services landing page on IRS.gov.

  • 10 Oct 2017 3:57 PM | Anonymous

    e-Services users,

    Unfortunately, the migration of e-Services to a new platform is taking longer than anticipated. We know this is causing issues for some of you, and we apologize.

    We are working hard to get this technology upgrade in place and hope to have applications back online within the next two weeks.

    We will provide weekly updates until we are ready to launch.

    Meanwhile, TDS, TIN Matching, SOR and Registration are functional.

    Again, we apologize for the delay.


    Source: QuickAlerts for Tax Professionals, October 10, 2017


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