IRS Tax News

  • 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


  • 27 Sep 2017 12:53 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today offered a rundown of key tax relief that has been made available to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

    In general, the IRS is now providing relief to individuals and businesses anywhere in Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as well as parts of Texas. Because this relief postpones various tax deadlines, individuals and businesses will have until Jan. 31, 2018 to file any returns and pay any taxes due. Those eligible for the extra time include:

    • Individual filers whose tax-filing extension runs out on Oct. 16, 2017. Because tax payments related to these 2016 returns were originally due on April 18, 2017, those payments are not eligible for this relief.
    • Business filers, such as calendar-year partnerships, whose extensions ran out on Sept. 15, 2017.
    • Quarterly estimated tax payments due on Sept. 15, 2017 and Jan. 16, 2018.
    • Quarterly payroll and excise tax returns due on Oct. 31, 2017.
    • Calendar-year tax-exempt organizations   whose 2016 extensions run out on Nov. 15, 2017.

    A variety of other returns, payments and tax-related actions also qualify for additional time. See the disaster relief page on IRS.gov for details on these and offer relief the IRS has offered since these hurricanes began hitting in August. The IRS also continues to closely monitor the aftermath of these storms, and additional updates for taxpayers and tax professionals will be posted to IRS.gov

    Besides extra time to file and pay, the IRS offers other special assistance to disaster-area taxpayers. This includes the following:

    • Special relief helps employer-sponsored leave-based donation programs aid hurricane victims. Under these programs, employees may forgo their vacation, sick or personal leave in exchange for cash payments the employer makes, before Jan. 1, 2019, to charities providing relief. Donated leave is not included in the employee’s income, and employers may deduct these cash payments to charity as a business expense.
    • 401(k)s and similar employer-sponsored retirement plans can make loans and hardship distributions to hurricane victims and members of their families. Under this broad-based relief, a retirement plan can allow a hurricane victim to take a hardship distribution or borrow up to the specified statutory limits from the victim’s retirement plan. It also means that a person who lives outside the disaster area can take out a retirement plan loan or hardship distribution and use it to assist a son, daughter, parent, grandparent or dependent who lived or worked in the disaster area. Hardship withdrawals must be made by Jan. 31, 2018.
    • The IRS is waiving late-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due during the first 15 days of the disaster period. Check out the disaster relief page for the time periods that apply to each jurisdiction.
    • Individuals and businesses who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (in this instance, the 2017 return normally filed next year), or the return for the prior year (2016). See Publication 547 for details.
    • The IRS is waiving the usual fees and expediting requests for copies of previously filed tax returns for disaster area taxpayers. This relief can be especially helpful to anyone whose copies of these documents were lost or destroyed by the hurricane.
    • If disaster-area taxpayers are contacted by the IRS on a collection or examination matter, they should be sure to explain how the disaster impacts them so that the IRS can provide appropriate consideration to their case.

    Further details on these and other relief provisions can be found on the agency’s disaster relief page, as well as on the special pages for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma . For information on disaster recovery, visit disasterassistance.gov.


  • 12 Sep 2017 2:36 PM | Anonymous

    IRS Gives Tax Relief to Victims of Hurricane Irma; Like Harvey, Extension Filers Have Until Jan. 31 to File; Additional Relief Planned

    WASHINGTON –– Hurricane Irma victims in parts of Florida and elsewhere have until Jan. 31, 2018, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.

    Today’s relief parallels that granted last month to victims of Hurricane Harvey. This includes an additional filing extension for taxpayers with valid extensions that run out on Oct. 16, and businesses with extensions that run out on Sept. 15.

    "This has been a devastating storm for the Southeastern part of the country, and the IRS will move quickly to provide tax relief for victims, just as we did following Hurricane Harvey," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "The IRS will continue to closely monitor the storm's aftermath, and we anticipate providing additional relief for other affected areas in the near future."

    The IRS is offering this relief to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as qualifying for individual assistance. Parts of Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are currently eligible, but taxpayers in localities added later to the disaster area, including those in other states, will automatically receive the same filing and payment relief. The current list of eligible localities is always available on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.

    The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on Sept. 4, 2017 in Florida and Sept. 5, 2017 in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until Jan. 31, 2018, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period.

    This includes the Sept. 15, 2017 and Jan. 16, 2018 deadlines for making quarterly estimated tax payments. For individual tax filers, it also includes 2016 income tax returns that received a tax-filing extension until Oct. 16, 2017. The IRS noted, however, that because tax payments related to these 2016 returns were originally due on April 18, 2017, those payments are not eligible for this relief.

    A variety of business tax deadlines are also affected including the Oct. 31 deadline for quarterly payroll and excise tax returns. Businesses with extensions also have the additional time including, among others, calendar-year partnerships whose 2016 extensions run out on Sept. 15, 2017 and calendar-year tax-exempt organizations   whose 2016 extensions run out on Nov. 15, 2017. The disaster relief page has details on other returns, payments and tax-related actions qualifying for the additional time.

    In addition, the IRS is waiving late-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due during the first 15 days of the disaster period. Check out the disaster relief page for the time periods that apply to each jurisdiction.

    The IRS automatically provides filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in the disaster area. Thus, taxpayers need not contact the IRS to get this relief. However, if an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date falling within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.

    In addition, the IRS will work with any taxpayer who lives outside the disaster area but whose records necessary to meet a deadline occurring during the postponement period are located in the affected area. Taxpayers qualifying for relief who live outside the disaster area need to contact the IRS at 866-562-5227. This also includes workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization.

    Individuals and businesses who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (in this instance, the 2017 return normally filed next year), or the return for the prior year (2016). See Publication 547 for details.

    The tax relief is part of a coordinated federal response to the damage caused by severe storms and flooding and is based on local damage assessments by FEMA. For information on disaster recovery, visit disasterassistance.gov.

    For information on government-wide efforts related to Hurricane Irma, visit www.USA.gov/hurricane-irma.

  • 11 Sep 2017 8:24 AM | Anonymous

    The IRS issued guidance this week providing penalty relief for certain partnerships that did not file the required returns by the new due date for tax years beginning in 2016. Partnerships file Form 1065 or Form 1065-B or request an automatic extension by filing Form 7004.


  • 08 Sep 2017 4:43 PM | Anonymous

    E-Services will be unavailable this weekend. TIN Matching and the Transcript Delivery System come back online at 6 a.m. ET on Monday, Sept. 11. For the availability of other e-Services tools, see Important Update about Your e-Services Account.


  • 08 Sep 2017 4:43 PM | Anonymous

    The IRS is providing tax relief to victims of Hurricane Harvey. Check www.irs.gov/hurricaneharvey for the latest updates.


  • 08 Sep 2017 4:42 PM | Anonymous

    As Hurricane Irma approaches, the IRS is closely monitoring the storm and will be assessing next steps that will be needed for areas declared a federal disaster area. The IRS urges tax professionals to prepare for hurricanes and other disasters by keeping electronic copies of key records and documenting valuables. Learn more about how to prepare for a disaster and what to do in the aftermath on IRS.gov.

  • 08 Sep 2017 2:41 PM | Anonymous

    Callers pose as Social Security Administration employees

    Warning, the SSA will not ask for personal information over the phone.

    Financial scams involving people pretending to be government employees aren’t restricted only to those Internal Revenue Service phone schemes so prevalent in recent years. Now there’s a new scam making the rounds, one in which criminals try to defraud people out of their Social Security checks.

    Gale Stallworth Stone, the acting inspector general of Social Security, is warning citizens about a scheme that goes like this: Someone posing as a Social Security Administration (SSA) employee calls from a phone number with a 323 area code. In some cases, the swindler tells victims they are due a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment increase in their Social Security benefits.

    The impersonator then asks the victim to verify all of his or her personal information, including name, date of birth and Social Security number, in order to receive the increase. If the impostor is able to acquire this data, the person can use it to contact the SSA and request changes to the victim’s direct deposit, address and phone information.

    According to the warning, the SSA will sometimes reach out to citizens by phone for customer service purposes, but the agency's reps will not ask for personal information this way. Anyone who receives a suspicious call is encouraged to report it to the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online via https://oig.ssa.gov/report.

    The SSA also operates a toll-free customer service number for anyone with questions or concerns (1-800-772-1213), which can be contacted from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. (Those who are deaf or hard of hearing can call Social Security at 1-800-325-0778.)

    You can also stay on top of con artists’ latest tricks by signing up for AARP’s free Watchdog Alerts.

    Stone continues to warn citizens to be cautious and to avoid providing information such as SSN and bank account numbers to unknown individuals over the phone or the internet unless they are absolutely certain of who is receiving these personal details. 

    “You must be very confident that the source is the correct business party and your information will be secure after you release it,” Stone said.

    Another scam that continues to prey on older people involves calls from or about a grandchild in trouble. If anyone phones you claiming to be your grandkid, or someone who knows your grandkid, and requests cash, hang up and consult with another family member first. Chances are, you just saved yourself from becoming a victim.

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