IRS Tax News

  • 28 Oct 2016 2:56 PM | Anonymous

    IR-2016-142, Oct. 28, 2016

    WASHINGTON –– The Internal Revenue Service today reminded the nation’s more than 725,000 federal tax return preparers that they must renew their Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) for 2017. All current PTINs will expire Dec. 31, 2016.

    Anyone who prepares or helps prepare any federal tax return, or claim for refund, for compensation must have a valid PTIN from the IRS. The PTIN must be used as the identifying number on returns prepared.

    “We ask that you renew your PTIN as soon as possible to avoid a last-minute rush,” said Carol A. Campbell, Director, IRS Return Preparer Office. “It’s easy to let this slip as the holiday season approaches.”

    For those who have a 2016 PTIN, the renewal process only takes a few moments online. The renewal fee is $50. If you cannot remember your user ID and password, there are online tools to assist you. Preparers can get started at www.irs.gov/ptin. If you are registering for the first time, the PTIN application fee is $50.00 and the process may also be completed online.

    Paper Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number Application and Renewal, is available for paper applications and renewals, and takes four to six weeks to process. Failure to have and use a valid PTIN may result in penalties. All enrolled agents, regardless of whether they prepare returns, must have a PTIN in order to maintain their status.

    Annual Filing Season Program Participation Kicks Off

    The voluntary IRS Annual Filing Season Program is intended to encourage non-credentialed tax return preparers to take continuing education (CE) courses to increase their knowledge and improve their filing season readiness. Participation generally requires 18 hours of CE, including a course in basic tax filing issues and updates, ethics, as well as other federal tax law courses. More information on the types and amounts of CE required for the program is available at www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/Annual-Filing-Season-Program.

    Preparers desiring to receive an Annual Filing Season Program - Record of Completion for 2017, must (1) complete their continuing education requirements by Dec. 31, 2016; (2) have a valid 2017 PTIN; and (3) consent to adhere to specific practice requirements in Treasury Department Circular No. 230.

    The IRS has a video to demonstrate how to sign the Circular 230 consent and print the Record of Completion.

    Enrolled Agent Credential

    The Annual Filing Season Program is a filing season qualification while an enrolled agent license provides professional status. The enrolled agent credential is an elite credential issued by the IRS to tax professionals who demonstrate special competence in federal tax planning, individual and business tax return preparation and representation matters.  Enrolled agents have unlimited representation rights; allowing them to represent any client before the IRS on any tax matter.  As non-credentialed return preparers consider the next steps in their professional career, the IRS encourages them to consider becoming an enrolled agent.

    Enrolled agents and participants in the Annual Filing Season Program are included in the Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications created on IRS.gov to help taxpayers make wise decisions when choosing tax return preparers.

    The directory also contains information on attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs), enrolled retirement plan agents (ERPAs) and enrolled actuaries who are registered with the IRS.

    IRS.gov has a page that explains the various tax return preparer credentials and qualifications, as well as a page with information regarding how to become an enrolled agent.


  • 27 Oct 2016 4:14 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 2017.  The IRS today issued technical guidance detailing these items in Notice 2016-62.

    Highlights of changes for 2017

    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 2017.

    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 2017:

    • For single taxpayers covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $62,000 to $72,000, up from $61,000 to $71,000.
    • For married couples filing jointly, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $99,000 to $119,000, up from $98,000 to $118,000.
    • 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 $186,000 and $196,000, up from $184,000 and $194,000.
    • 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 $118,000 to $133,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $117,000 to $132,000.  For married couples filing jointly, the income phase-out range is $186,000 to $196,000, up from $184,000 to $194,000.  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 $62,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $61,500; $46,500 for heads of household, up from $46,125; and $31,000 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up from $30,750.

    Highlights of limitations that remain unchanged from 2016

    • The contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $18,000.
    • 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.
    • 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.

    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 January 1, 2017, the limitation on the annual benefit under a defined benefit plan under Section 415(b)(1)(A) is increased from $210,000 to $215,000.  For a participant who separated from service before January 1, 2017, the limitation for defined benefit plans under Section 415(b)(1)(B) is computed by multiplying the participant's compensation limitation, as adjusted through 2016, by 1.0112.

    The limitation for defined contribution plans under Section 415(c)(1)(A) is increased in 2017 from $53,000 to $54,000.

    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 2017 are as follows:

    The limitation under Section 402(g)(1) on the exclusion for elective deferrals described in Section 402(g)(3) remains unchanged at $18,000.

    The annual compensation limit under Sections 401(a)(17), 404(l), 408(k)(3)(C), and 408(k)(6)(D)(ii) is increased from $265,000 to $270,000.

    The dollar limitation under Section 416(i)(1)(A)(i) concerning the definition of key employee in a top-heavy plan is increased from $170,000 to $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 5 year distribution period is increased from $1,070,000 to $1,080,000, while the dollar amount used to determine the lengthening of the 5 year distribution period is increased from $210,000 to $215,000.

    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 $395,000 to $400,000.

    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 remains unchanged at $18,000.

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

    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 remains unchanged at $105,000.  The compensation amount under Section 1.61 21(f)(5)(iii) remains unchanged at $215,000.

    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 remains unchanged at $125,000.

    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) remains unchanged for 2017 at $1,012,000,000.

    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 2017 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 remains unchanged at $37,000; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) remains unchanged at $40,000; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $61,500 to $62,000.

    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 remains unchanged at $27,750; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) remains unchanged at $30,000; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $46,125 to $46,500.

    The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for all other taxpayers remains unchanged at $18,500; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) remains unchanged at $20,000; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $30,750 to $31,000.

    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 $98,000 to $99,000.  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 $61,000 to $62,000.  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 $184,000 to $186,000.

    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 $184,000 to $186,000.  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 $117,000 to $118,000.  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.

    The dollar amount under Section 430(c)(7)(D)(i)(II) used to determine excess employee compensation with respect to a single-employer defined benefit pension plan for which the special election under Section 430(c)(2)(D) has been made is increased from $1,106,000 to $1,115,000. 


  • 02 Oct 2016 3:23 PM | Anonymous

    The IRS next spring will begin to use private contractors to collect overdue federal tax debts. Four companies have been selected to implement the new program.


  • 02 Oct 2016 3:22 PM | Anonymous

    The IRS is answering questions from practitioners following announcement that e-Services is migrating to the Secure Access authentication process. Frequently asked questions and answers are available on IRS.gov.

    E-Services users can find out more about Secure Access, which goes into effect Oct. 24, at Important Update about Your e-Services Account. Step-by-step instructions are available at Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools.


  • 26 Sep 2016 2:06 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service announced today that it plans to begin private collection of certain overdue federal tax debts next spring and has selected four contractors to implement the new program.

    The new program, authorized under a federal law enacted by Congress last December, enables these designated contractors to collect, on the government’s behalf, outstanding inactive tax receivables. As a condition of receiving a contract, these agencies must respect taxpayer rights including, among other things, abiding by the consumer protection provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The IRS has selected the following contractors to carry out this program:

    CBE Group 1309 Technology Pkwy Cedar Falls, IA 50613

    Conserve 200 CrossKeys Office park Fairport, NY 14450

    Performant 333 N Canyons Pkwy Livermore, CA 94551

    Pioneer 325 Daniel Zenker Dr Horseheads, NY 14845

    These private collection agencies will work on accounts where taxpayers owe money, but the IRS is no longer actively working their accounts. Several factors contribute to the IRS assigning these accounts to private collection agencies, including older, overdue tax accounts or lack of resources preventing the IRS from working the cases.

    The IRS will give each taxpayer and their representative written notice that their account is being transferred to a private collection agency. The agency will then send a second, separate letter to the taxpayer and their representative confirming this transfer.

    Private collection agencies will be able to identify themselves as contractors of the IRS collecting taxes. Employees of these collection agencies must follow the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and must be courteous and respect taxpayer rights.

    The IRS will do everything it can to help taxpayers avoid confusion and understand their rights and tax responsibilities, particularly in light of continual phone scams where callers impersonate IRS agents and request immediate payment.

    Private collection agencies will not ask for payment on a prepaid debit card. Taxpayers will be informed about electronic payment options for taxpayers on IRS.gov/Pay Your Tax Bill. Payment by check should be payable to the U.S. Treasury and sent directly to IRS, not the private collection agency. 

    The IRS will continue to keep taxpayers informed about scams and provide tips for protecting themselves. The IRS encourages taxpayers to visit IRS.gov for information including the “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” page.

    For more information visit the Private Debt Collection page on IRS.gov.


  • 23 Sep 2016 9:52 AM | Anonymous

    The IRS is testing expanded criteria for streamlined processing of taxpayer requests for installment agreements. The test runs through Sept. 30, 2017. During this test, more taxpayers will qualify to have their installment agreement requests processed in a streamlined manner.


  • 23 Sep 2016 9:51 AM | Anonymous

    Do you have a client who filed for an extension and faces an Oct. 17 filing deadline? The adjusted gross income (AGI) amount from the client’s 2014 return may be needed to electronically file a tax return.


  • 23 Sep 2016 9:50 AM | Anonymous

    One of the highest priorities at the IRS is to protect taxpayer and tax preparer data as well as IRS systems. Starting in October, the IRS will strengthen sign-in procedures for e-Services. As part of that effort, all users must re-register and validate their identities, most using the Secure Access authentication process. Learn more: Important Update for Your e-Services Account.


  • 23 Sep 2016 9:48 AM | Anonymous

    The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners this week issued an alert to taxpayers and tax professionals to be on the lookout for fake IRS tax bills that may arrive by email, as an attachment, or by mail purportedly related to the Affordable Care Act.

    For more information on scams as well as steps you can take to boost your security, visit Protect Your Clients, Protect Yourself on IRS.gov.


  • 02 Sep 2016 1:50 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today warned tax professionals of a new wave of attacks that allow identity thieves to file fraudulent tax returns by remotely taking over practitioners’ computers.

    As part of the Security Summit effort, the IRS urged tax professionals to review their tax preparation software settings and immediately enact all security measures, especially those settings that require usernames and passwords to access the products.  The IRS is aware of approximately two dozen cases where tax professionals have been victimized in recent days.

    The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry – working as partners in the Security Summit – recently launched the Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself campaign to increase awareness that criminals increasingly are targeting tax professionals and the taxpayer data they possess. 

    "This latest incident reinforces the need for all tax professionals to review their computer settings as soon as possible," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen‎. "Identity thieves continue to evolve and look for new areas to exploit‎, especially as our fraud filters become more effective. The prompt identification of these attacks is another example of the great benefits that result from the close‎ working relationship the IRS now has with the tax industry and the states through the Security Summit initiative. Information is flowing more rapidly between our groups as we continue‎ our efforts to protect taxpayers."

    These attacks come as the Oct. 17 deadline approaches for extension filers. The IRS first warned of a similar remote take-over attack in the spring, just ahead of the April 15 deadline, another peak period for tax professionals.

    Thieves are able to access tax professionals’ computers and use remote technology to take control, accessing client data and completing and e-filing tax returns but directing refunds to criminals’ own accounts.

    Victims in the tax community learned of these thefts while reconciling e-file acknowledgements.

    In addition to activating security measures for tax software products, IRS urges all tax preparers to take the following steps:

    • Run a security “deep scan” to search for viruses and malware;
    • Strengthen passwords for both computer access and software access; make sure your password is a minimum of eight digits (more is better) with a mix of numbers, letters and special characters and change them often;
    • Be alert for phishing scams: do not click on links or open attachments from unknown senders;
    • Educate all staff members about the dangers of phishing scams in the form of emails, texts and calls;
    • Review any software that your employees use to remotely access your network and/or your IT support vendor uses to remotely troubleshoot technical problems and support your systems. Remote access software is a potential target for bad actors to gain entry and take control of a machine.

    In addition, the IRS recently issued instructions to tax professionals on how to monitor their PTIN activity.

    Tax professionals should review Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, a Guide for Your Business, which provides a checklist to help safeguard taxpayer information and enhance office security. Also, practitioners should review Data Breach Information for Tax Professionals for information on what action they should take if they do become victims.


©2018, Virginia Society of Tax & Accounting Professionals, formerly The Accountants Society of Virginia, 
is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.

PO Box 3363 | Warrenton, VA 20188 | Phone: (800) 927-2731 | Fax: (888) 403-0920 | asv@virginia-accountants.org

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software