IRS Tax News

  • 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.

  • 24 Jan 2017 10:43 AM | Anonymous

    IRS YouTube Videos

    • When Will I Get My Refund: English | Spanish
    • Claiming EITC or ACTC? Your refund may be delayed: English
    • Welcome to Free File: English
    • Security Summit Identity Theft Tips Overview:English

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service said today that it successfully started accepting and processing 2016 federal individual income tax returns on schedule. More than 153 million returns are expected to be filed this year.

    People have until Tuesday, April 18, 2017 to file their 2016 returns and pay any taxes due. The deadline is later this year due to several factors. The usual April 15 deadline falls on Saturday this year, which would normally give taxpayers until at least the following Monday. However, Emancipation Day, a D.C. holiday, is observed on Monday, April 17, giving taxpayers nationwide an additional day to file. By law, D.C. holidays impact tax deadlines for everyone in the same way federal holidays do. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Monday, Oct. 16, 2017 to file.

    "Following months of hard work, we successfully opened our processing systems today to start this year’s tax season,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Getting to this point is a year-round effort for the IRS and the nation’s tax community. The dedicated employees of the IRS look forward to serving taxpayers this filing season, and I want to thank all of the tax and payroll community for their hard work that makes tax time smoother for the nation.”

    The IRS expects more than 70 percent of taxpayers to get tax refunds this year. Last year, 111 million refunds were issued, with an average refund of $2,860.

    Refund Delays

    A law change now requires the IRS to hold refunds on tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until Feb. 15. Under this change required by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, the IRS must hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC. Even though the IRS will begin releasing EITC and ACTC refunds on Feb. 15, many early filers will still not have actual access to their refunds until the week of Feb. 27. The additional delay is due to several factors, including weekends, the Presidents Day holiday and the time banks often need to process direct deposits.

    This law change gives the IRS more time to detect and prevent fraud. Beyond the EITC and ACTC refunds and the additional security safeguards, the IRS anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. However, it’s possible a particular return may require additional review and take longer. Taxpayers are reminded that state tax agencies have their own refund processing timeframes that vary, and some states may make additional reviews to ensure their refunds are being issued properly. Even so, taxpayers should file as usual, and tax return preparers should submit returns as they normally do.

    Use e-File and Free File

    The IRS expects more than 80 percent of returns to be filed electronically. Choosing e-file and direct deposit remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund.

    The IRS Free File program, available at IRS.gov, gives eligible taxpayers a dozen options for brand-name products. Free File is a partnership with commercial partners offering free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $64,000 or less. Seventy percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. People who earned more than $64,000 may use Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms.

    Protecting Taxpayers from Identity Theft-Related Refund Fraud

    The IRS continues to work with state tax authorities and the tax industry to address tax-related identity theft and refund fraud. As part of the Security Summit effort, stronger protections for taxpayers and the nation’s tax system are in effect for the 2017 tax filing season.

    The new measures attack tax-related identity theft from multiple sides. Many changes will be invisible to taxpayers but will help the IRS, states and the tax industry provide new protections. New security requirements will better protect tax software accounts and personal information. 

    Renew ITIN to Avoid Refund Delays

    Many Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) expired on Jan. 1, 2017. This includes any ITIN not used on a tax return at least once in the past three years. Also now expired is any ITIN with middle digits of either 78 or 79 (Example: 9NN-78-NNNN or 9NN-79-NNNN). Affected taxpayers should act soon to avoid refund delays and possible loss of eligibility for some key tax benefits until the ITIN is renewed. An ITIN is used by anyone who has tax-filing or payment obligations under U.S. tax law but is not eligible for a Social Security number.

    It can take up to 11 weeks to process a complete and accurate ITIN renewal application. For that reason, the IRS urges anyone with an expired ITIN needing to file a return this tax season to submit their ITIN renewal application soon.

    New AGI requirement for e-file

    All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a tax filing software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount from their prior-year tax return to verify their identity. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.

    Free Tax Help

    Low- and moderate-income taxpayers can get help filing their tax return for free. More than 90,000 volunteers around the country can help people correctly complete their return.

    To get this filing help, taxpayers can visit one of the more than 12,000 community-based tax help sites that participate in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs. To find the nearest site, use the VITA/TCE Site Locator on IRS.gov or the IRS2Go mobile app.

    Filing Assistance

    The IRS reminds taxpayers that a trusted tax professional can provide helpful information about the tax laws. A number of tips about selecting a preparer and information about national tax professional groups are available on IRS.gov.

    The IRS urges all taxpayers to make sure they have all their year-end statements in hand before filing. This includes Forms W-2 from employers and Forms 1099 from banks and other payers. Doing so will help avoid refund delays and the need to file an amended return.

    Online tools

    Many tax issues can now be resolved online or by phone from the convenience of a home or office. The IRS urges taxpayers to take advantage of the many tools and other resources available on IRS.gov. IRS phone lines will be busy again this year, so in order to save time, people should first visit the IRS website for tax assistance.


  • 11 Jan 2017 1:24 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and tax industry leaders today warned tax professionals to be alert to an email scam from cybercriminals posing as clients soliciting their services.

    A new variation of this phishing scheme is targeting accounting and tax preparation firms nationwide. The scheme's objective is to collect sensitive information that will allow fraudsters to prepare fraudulent tax returns.

    These latest phishing emails come in typically two stages. The first email is the solicitation, which asks tax professionals questions such as "I need a preparer to file my taxes." If the tax professional responds, the cybercriminal sends a second email. This second email typically has either an embedded web address or contains a PDF attachment that has an embedded web address.

    In some cases, the phishing emails may appear to come from a legitimate sender or organization (perhaps even a friend or colleague) because they also have been victimized. Fraudsters have taken over their accounts to send phishing emails.

    The tax professional may think they are downloading a potential client's tax information or accessing a site with the potential client's tax information. In reality, the cybercriminals are collecting the preparer's email address and password and possibly other information.

    The IRS urges tax professionals and tax preparation firms to consider creating internal policies or obtain security experts' recommendations on how to address unsolicited emails seeking their services.

    One tip: Never respond to or click on a link in an unsolicited email or PDF attachment from an unknown sender. As the IRS, states and the tax industry make progress in the fight against identity theft, cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated in their efforts to steal additional client information. Criminals need more data in their effort to impersonate clients and file fraudulent returns to claim refunds, and schemes like this can help in this effort.

    Read more at Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself, the Security Summit initiative to increase awareness about the tax professional community.


  • 30 Dec 2016 4:07 PM | Anonymous

    CE providers were generally unable to transmit CE records to the IRS between Sept. 14 and Dec. 30 while we transitioned to a new CE provider reporting system. The new reporting system has now launched and CE credits are being added to accounts daily. PTIN holders are encouraged to check their online accounts regularly for the latest information regarding their CE credits.

    PTIN holders who want to participate in the Annual Filing Season Program once their CE is reflected in their accounts can view a video here to see how to sign the Circular 230 consent and receive a Record of Completion. The consent must be signed by April 18, 2017, in order to participate for 2017.


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