IRS Tax News

  • 16 Feb 2017 5:02 PM | Anonymous

    Be aware if you received an e-mail that was sent out to tax practitioners today. At the top you will see:

    From: IRS e-Service [mailto:nancyschieda@verizon.net]
    Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2017 1:29 PM
    To: Undisclosed recipients:
    Subject: E-Service Account Closure!

    Dear Tax Pro,


    We noticed you have not updated your EFIN details for 2017 Tax season. Please follow the link below to securely update your E-Service account renewal details.

    Update now

    Any Tax Preparer who fails to renew and follow this update Your Account will be suspended within 12 to 24 hours.

    Sincerely,
    IRS.gov e-service

    First, notice the e-mail did not originate from IRS. You will also see the Update now which will take you to the scam artist (this Update now is a sample of the link, not the actual link). Below are links with information on IRS.gov to advise you of how IRS will contact those who need to update their accounts.

    https://www.irs.gov/individuals/important-update-about-your-eservices-account

    EFINs

    https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/e-file-providers-partners/faqs-about-electronic-filing-indentification-numbers-efin

    How do I know when my EFIN has been compromised?

    Check the EFIN status of your application to make sure the volume of returns e-filed matches your records. You can also review your acknowledgement report totals. If your records do not agree, your EFIN may have been compromised. 

    Who do I contact if I have a concern or question associated with my EFIN?

    Contact the e-help desk at 866-255-0654 (6:30 AM to 6 PM CT) to find out additional information or visit Information for IRS e-file Providers on IRS.gov if you have questions or concerns in regards to your EFIN. A few examples may be:

    ·         Report a possible compromised EFIN

    ·         You haven’t used your EFIN in the last 2 years

    ·         You are having trouble or have questions about changes to your e-file application­

  • 16 Feb 2017 4:55 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON – As the IRS begins releasing refunds for taxpayers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit, the tax agency reminded taxpayers that they should not expect refunds to be available in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of Feb. 27. The additional time is due to several factors, including weekends, the Presidents Day holiday and the time banks often need to process direct deposits.

    Many of these refunds had been held since the filing season started in late January due to new requirements of the 2015 Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act.

    The IRS reminds taxpayers that the most common question taxpayers have about the status of their refund can easily be answered on IRS.gov by visiting the “Where’s My Refund?” tool.  “Where’s My Refund?” will be updated Feb. 18 for the vast majority of early filers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit. Before Feb. 18, some taxpayers may see a projected date or a message that indicates the IRS is processing their return. The IRS added that taxpayers should keep in mind that “Where’s My Refund?” is only updated once daily, usually overnight, so there’s no need to check it multiple times per day.

    Here are a few important things to know about tax refunds:

    • The IRS issues nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days.
    • The filing season started later this year -- on Jan. 23. Although taxpayers could submit returns with a software provider or tax preparer in early January, the return was not filed with the IRS until the filing season opened on Jan. 23.
    • IRS customer service representatives cannot provide refund information until 21 days have passed since the return was filed. “Where’s My Refund?” provides the most up-to-date information.
    • “Where’s my Refund?” can also be accessed through the mobile app, IRS2Go.
    • “Where’s My Refund?” is updated once daily. Checking the tool multiple times each day will not produce new information or different results.
    • The Get Transcript tool will not reveal a tax refund status, despite the social media myth to the contrary.

    This tip is part of the IRS Avoid the Rush news release series designed to provide taxpayers with the information they need, when they need it. More details on this series, including information on additional online resources, are available on IRS.gov.

  • 14 Feb 2017 5:02 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service said mid-February marks the agency’s busiest time of the year for telephone calls. The IRS is reminding taxpayers who have questions about their tax accounts to be prepared to validate their identity when speaking with an IRS assistor. This will help avoid the need for a repeat call.

    The IRS recognizes the importance of protecting taxpayers’ identities. That’s why IRS call center assistors take great care to make certain that they only discuss personal information with the taxpayer or someone authorized to speak on the taxpayer’s behalf.

    Customer service representatives can answer refund questions beginning 21 days after the return was filed. Taxpayers should use “Where’s My Refund?” to track the status of their refund. Taxpayers who are e-filing their return and need their prior year adjusted gross income should use the Get Transcript tool on IRS.gov. IRS telephone assistors cannot provide prior-year adjusted gross income over the phone for filing purposes.

    Where’s My Refund?” will be updated Feb. 18 for the vast majority of early filers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. Before Feb. 18, some taxpayers may see a projected date or a message that the IRS is processing their return.

    By law, the IRS is required to hold EITC and ACTC refunds until Feb. 15. However, taxpayers may not see those refunds until the week of Feb. 27. Due to differing timeframes with financial institutions, weekends and the Presidents Day holiday, these refunds likely will not start arriving in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of Feb. 27 -- if there are no processing issues with the tax return and the taxpayer chose direct deposit.

    The IRS phone assistors do not have additional information on refund dates beyond what taxpayers have access to on "Where's My Refund?”. Given high call volumes, taxpayers should not call unless directed to do so by the refund tool. In addition, a common myth is that people can get their refund date earlier by ordering a tax transcript. There is no such "secret" option to find a refund date by calling the IRS or ordering a transcript; just check "Where's My Refund?" once a day.

    If Calling About a Personal Tax Account

    Before calling about a personal tax account, have the following information handy:

    • Social Security numbers and birth dates for those listed on the tax return
    • An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for those without a Social Security number (SSN)
    • Filing status – Single, Head of Household, Married Filing Joint or Married Filing Separate
    • Prior-year tax return. The IRS may need to verify identity before answering certain questions
    • A copy of the tax return in question
    • Any letters or notices received from the IRS.

    If Calling About a Letter 4883C

    At this time of year, the IRS begins sending letters to taxpayers inquiring about suspicious tax returns it has identified. It’s important for the IRS and the taxpayer to confirm whether or not the taxpayer actually filed the return in question. Taxpayers have 30 days to call, which allows time to avoid the rush around Presidents’ Day.

    To expedite the process when calling, taxpayers MUST have: 

    • The IRS letter  
    • Copy of prior year tax return (if filed)
    • Current year tax return (if filed)  
    • Any supporting documents for each year's return (such as W-2's, 1099's, Schedule C, Schedule F, etc.)

    If Calling About Someone Else’s Account

    IRS call center assistors will only speak with the taxpayer or their legally designated representative. Before calling, have the following information handy:

    If Calling About a Deceased Taxpayer

    Be prepared to fax:

    To better serve taxpayers around the President’s Day holiday, the peak time of the year for telephone calls to the IRS, the IRS toll-free lines will be open Saturday, Feb. 18, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (callers’ local time) and Monday, Feb. 20, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (callers’ local time).

    This tip is part of the IRS Avoid the Rush news release series designed to provide taxpayers with the information they need, when they need it. More details on this series, including information on additional online resources, are available on IRS.gov.

  • 13 Feb 2017 4:09 PM | Anonymous

    IRS is sending Letter 4858 to tax preparers who completed 2016 returns claiming the earned income tax credit but who may not have met the required due diligence requirements. Disregarding due diligence requirements could result in penalties and other consequences for preparers and their clients. Letter 4858 comes in both English and Spanish.

    IRS is also sending Letter 5364 to tax preparers who completed two or more 2016 paper returns claiming Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), or Child Tax Credit/Additional Child Tax Credit (CTC/ACTC) without including Form 8867, Paid Preparer’s Due Diligence Checklist.  

    For more information on the due diligence requirements, visit Tax Preparer Toolkit on EITC Central.

  • 13 Feb 2017 4:09 PM | Anonymous

    More than 48,000 tax return preparers have participated in the 2017 IRS Annual Filing Season Program and obtained an official Record of Completion.

    But another 37,000 return preparers who have completed the required amount of continuing education and been invited to participate have not consented to the Circular 230 requirements to receive a Record of Completion.

    The deadline for preparers to consent to the Circular 230 requirements and become full participants is April 18. A video tutorial of the process is available here


  • 10 Feb 2017 4:08 PM | Anonymous

    Compiled annually, the Dirty Dozen is a list of common scams that taxpayers and tax professionals may encounter anytime of the year. But many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their returns or hire someone to help with their taxes. Learn more about the Dirty Dozen in this video.

  • 08 Feb 2017 2:35 PM | Anonymous

    The IRS is reporting new incidences of an email scam that uses a corporate officer’s name to request employee W-2s from company payroll and human resource departments. 

    The IRS urges company payroll officials to double check any executive-level or unusual requests for lists of W-2s or Social Security numbers. 

    The W-2 scam first appeared last year. Cybercriminals tricked payroll and human resource officials into disclosing employee names, SSNs, and income information. The thieves then attempted to file fraudulent tax returns for tax refunds. 

    See the complete IRS news release for more details.  
  • 02 Feb 2017 2:46 PM | Anonymous

    IRS YouTube Videos:

    WASHINGTON —Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, remain on the annual "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams for the 2017 filing season, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.

    During filing season, the IRS generally sees a surge in scam phone calls that threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things. The IRS reminds taxpayers to guard against all sorts of con games that arise at any time and pick up during tax season.

    "Don't be fooled by surprise phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents with threats or promises of a big refund if you provide them with your private information," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "If you're surprised to get a call from the IRS, it almost certainly isn't the real IRS. We generally initially contact taxpayers by mail."

    The Dirty Dozen is compiled annually by the IRS and lists a variety of common scams taxpayers may encounter any time during the year. Many of these con games peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns or hire someone to do so.

    The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reports they have become aware of over 10,000 victims who have collectively paid over $54 million as a result of phone scams since October 2013.

    "Everyone can share the word about scam phone calls-- just hang up and don't engage these people," Koskinen said. “Despite recent successes against phone scam artists, these scams constantly evolve and people need to remain vigilant. We’d like to thank law-enforcement, tax professionals, consumer advocates, the states, other government agencies, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and many others for helping us continue this fight and protect taxpayers."

    How do the scams work?

    Scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a wire transfer or a prepaid debit card or gift card, like an iTunes card. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via a phishing email.

    Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the driver’s license of their victim if they don’t get the money.

    Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS employee titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

    The IRS also reminded taxpayers today that scammers change tactics. Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, but variations of the IRS impersonation scam continue year-round and they tend to peak when scammers find prime opportunities to strike.

    Here are some things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam.

    The IRS will never:

    • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
    • 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 taxpayers who don’t owe taxes or don’t think they do:

    For those who owe taxes or think they do:

    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, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.

    Each and every taxpayer has 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.

  • 02 Feb 2017 2:38 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry issued an urgent alert today to all employers that the Form W-2 email phishing scam has evolved beyond the corporate world and is spreading to other sectors, including school districts, tribal organizations and nonprofits.

    In a related development, the W-2 scammers are coupling their efforts to steal employee W-2 information with an older scheme on wire transfers that is victimizing some organizations twice.

    “This is one of the most dangerous email phishing scams we’ve seen in a long time. It can result in the large-scale theft of sensitive data that criminals can use to commit various crimes, including filing fraudulent tax returns. We need everyone’s help to turn the tide against this scheme,’’ said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

    When employers report W-2 thefts immediately to the IRS, the agency can take steps to help protect employees from tax-related identity theft. The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry, working together as the Security Summit, have enacted numerous safeguards in 2016 and 2017 to identify fraudulent returns filed through scams like this. As the Summit partners make progress, cybercriminals need more data to mimic real tax returns.

    Here’s how the scam works: Cybercriminals use various spoofing techniques to disguise an email to make it appear as if it is from an organization executive. The email is sent to an employee in the payroll or human resources departments, requesting a list of all employees and their Forms W-2.  This scam is sometimes referred to as business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES).

    The Security Summit partners urge all employers to be vigilant. The W-2 scam, which first appeared last year, is circulating earlier in the tax season and to a broader cross-section of organizations, including school districts, tribal casinos, chain restaurants, temporary staffing agencies, healthcare and shipping and freight. Those businesses that received the scam email last year also are reportedly receiving it again this year.

    Security Summit partners warned of this scam’s reappearance last week but have seen an upswing in reports in recent days.

    New Twist to W-2 Scam: Companies Also Being Asked to Wire Money

    In the latest twist, the cybercriminal follows up with an “executive” email to the payroll or comptroller and asks that a wire transfer also be made to a certain account. Although not tax related, the wire transfer scam is being coupled with the W-2 scam email, and some companies have lost both employees’ W-2s and thousands of dollars due to wire transfers.

    The IRS, states and tax industry urge all employers to share information with their payroll, finance and human resources employees about this W-2 and wire transfer scam. Employers should consider creating an internal policy, if one is lacking, on the distribution of employee W-2 information and conducting wire transfers.

    Steps Employers Can Take If They See the W-2 Scam

    Organizations receiving a W-2 scam email should forward it to phishing@irs.gov and place “W2 Scam” in the subject line. Organizations that receive the scams or fall victim to them should file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3,) operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    Employees whose Forms W-2 have been stolen should review the recommended actions by the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov or the IRS at www.irs.gov/identitytheft. Employees should file a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, if the employee’s own tax return gets rejected because of a duplicate Social Security number or if instructed to do so by the IRS.

    The W-2 scam is just one of several new variations that have appeared in the past year that focus on the large-scale thefts of sensitive tax information from tax preparers, businesses and payroll companies. Individual taxpayers also can be targets of phishing scams, but cybercriminals seem to have evolved their tactics to focus on mass data thefts.

    Be Safe Online

    In addition to avoiding email scams during the tax season, taxpayers and tax preparers should be leery of using search engines to find technical help with taxes or tax software. Selecting the wrong “tech support” link could lead to a loss of data or an infected computer. Also, software “tech support” will not call users randomly. This is a scam.

    Taxpayers searching for a paid tax professional for tax help can use the IRS Choosing a Tax Professional lookup tool or if taxpayers need free help they can review the Free Tax Return Preparation Programs. Taxpayers searching for tax software can use Free File, which offers 12 brand-name products for free, at www.irs.gov/freefile. Taxpayer or tax preparers looking for tech support for their software products should go directly to the provider’s web page.

    Tax professionals also should beware of ongoing scams related to IRS e-Services. Thieves are trying to use IRS efforts to make e-Services more secure to send emails asking e-Services users to update their accounts. Their objective is to steal e-Services users’ credentials to access these important services.

  • 25 Jan 2017 5:11 PM | Anonymous

    IRS YouTube Video

    Claiming EITC or ACTC? Your Refund May Be Delayed: English | Spanish | ASL

    WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service wants working grandparents raising grandchildren to be aware of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and correctly claim it if they qualify. 

    The EITC is a federal income tax credit for workers who don't earn a high income ($53,505 or less for 2016) and meet certain eligibility requirements. Because it’s a refundable credit, those who qualify and claim the credit could pay less federal tax, pay no tax or even get a tax refund. The EITC could put an extra $2 or up to $6,269 into a taxpayer’s pocket.

    Grandparents and other relatives care for millions of children, but are often not aware that they could claim the children under their care for the EITC. A grandparent who is working and has a grandchild who is a qualifying child living with him or her may qualify for the EITC, even if the grandparent is 65 years of age or older. Generally, to be a qualified child for EITC purposes, the grandchild must meet the dependency requirements.

    Special rules and restrictions apply if the child’s parents or other family members also qualify for the EITC. Details including numerous helpful examples can be found in Publication 596, available on IRS.gov. There are also special rules, described in the publication, for individuals receiving disability benefits and members of the military.

    Working grandparents are encouraged to find out, not guess, if they qualify for this very important credit. To qualify for EITC, the taxpayer must have earned income either from a job or from self-employment and meet basic rules. Also, certain disability payments may qualify as earned income for EITC purposes. EITC eligibility also depends on family size. The IRS recommends using the EITC Assistant, on IRS.gov, to determine eligibility, estimate the amount of credit and more.

    Eligible taxpayers must file a tax return, even if they do not owe any tax or are not required to file. Qualified taxpayers should consider claiming the EITC by filing electronically: through a qualified tax professional; using free community tax help sites; or doing it themselves with IRS Free File.

    Many EITC filers will get their refunds later this year than in past years. That’s because a new law requires the IRS to hold refunds claiming the EITC and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until mid-February. The IRS cautions taxpayers that these refunds likely will not start arriving in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of Feb. 27. Taxpayers claiming the EITC or ACTC should file as soon as they have all of the necessary documentation together to prepare an accurate return. In other words, file as they normally would.

    The IRS and partners nationwide will hold the annual EITC Awareness Day on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017 to alert millions of workers who may be missing out on this significant tax credit and other refundable credits. One easy way to support this outreach effort is by participating on the IRS Thunderclap to help promote #EITCAwarenessDay through social media. For more information on EITC and other refundable credits, visit the EITC page on IRS.gov.

©2017, 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

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