Category Archives: income tax news

Declared Natural Disasters and Emergencies Tax Help

When natural disasters occur, as has happened recently with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the last thing you want to stress over is filing taxes. The Comptroller’s office understands, and they have compiled information for evacuees and relief workers on how to request an extension for reporting and paying taxes.

Follow this link to see all your options if you are one of the thousands affected:

https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/resources/disaster-relief.php

 

New phone scam warning from the IRS


The Internal Revenue Service today warned people to beware of a new scam linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), where fraudsters call to demand an immediate tax payment through a prepaid debit card. This scam is being reported across the country, so taxpayers should be alert to the details.

In the latest twist, the scammer claims to be from the IRS and tells the victim about two certified letters purportedly sent to the taxpayer in the mail but returned as undeliverable. The scam artist then threatens arrest if a payment is not made through a prepaid debit card. The scammer also tells the victim that the card is linked to the EFTPS system when, in fact, it is entirely controlled by the scammer. The victim is also warned not to contact their tax preparer, an attorney or their local IRS office until after the tax payment is made.

“This is a new twist to an old scam,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Just because tax season is over, scams and schemes do not take the summer off. People should stay vigilant against IRS impersonation scams. People should remember that the first contact they receive from IRS will not be through a random, threatening phone call.”

EFTPS is an automated system for paying federal taxes electronically using the Internet or by phone using the EFTPS Voice Response System. EFTPS is offered free by the U.S. Department of Treasury and does not require the purchase of a prepaid debit card. Since EFTPS is an automated system, taxpayers won’t receive a call from the IRS. In addition, taxpayers have several options for paying a real tax bill and are not required to use a specific one.

Tell Tale Signs of a Scam:

The IRS (and its authorized private collection agencies) will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes. All tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury and checks should never be made payable to third parties.
  • 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 anyone who doesn’t owe taxes and has no reason to think they do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the call. Use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page. Alternatively, call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

For anyone who owes tax or thinks they do:

The IRS does not use email, text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds.

For more information, visit the “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” page on IRS.gov. Additional information about tax scams is available on IRS social media sites, including YouTube videos.

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Information from :  https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/irs-warns-of-new-phone-scam-involving-bogus-certified-letters-reminds-people-to-remain-vigilant-against-scams-schemes-this-summer

Federal Student Tax? No such thing!!!

The Federal Trade Commission recently released a statement warning college students not to fall for a new scam: the federal student tax scam.

Students from many colleges are telling the FTC that the calls go something like this: the so-called IRS agent tells you that you owe a “federal student tax,” and often has some piece of information that makes the call seem legit. Sometimes it’s the name of your school, or another piece of information about you. The caller demands that you wire money immediately, by MoneyGram or another untraceable method. And, if you don’t act quickly enough, the caller might threaten to report you to the police. If you hang up on the caller, they might make follow-up calls with spoofed caller-ID information. So, while caller ID might say it’s 911 or the U.S. Government calling, it’s not. It’s all fake.

As with all variations of these types of scams, you need to know a few simple things that will keep you safe:

  • No one from the IRS will ever ask you to wire money, or pay by sending any sort of reloadable prepaid cards.
  • The IRS will never contact you by phone first. If you owe money for an actual tax, the IRS will send a letter first.

If you get one of these calls, hang up immediately. Do not give out any personal information — no matter how mundane it may seem. Hang up, and report the call to the FTC.

For the news release from the FTC on this, visit here.

Tax refunds will be delayed for many taxpayers next year

On Sunday, Forbes posted an article explaining a part of the new Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 that will affect many taxpayers: their refunds will be delayed next year.

As part of the “Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH ) Act of 2015,” (P.L. 114-113) signed into law on December 18, 2015, the IRS must wait until February 15 to issue refunds to taxpayers who claimed the earned-income tax credit (EITC) or the child tax credit (CTC).

Read the whole article here.

New Early Interaction Initiative Will Help Employers Stay Current with Their Payroll Taxes

The Internal Revenue Service has launched a new initiative designed to more quickly identify employers who are falling behind on their payroll or employment taxes and then help them get caught up on their payment and reporting responsibilities. The effort is called the Early Interaction  Initiative.

The initiative is designed to help employers stay in compliance and avoid needless interest and penalty charges. The initiative will seek to identify employers who appear to be falling behind on their tax payments even before an employment tax return is filed. The IRS will offer helpful information and guidance through letters, automated phone messages, other communications and in some instances, a visit from an IRS revenue officer.

In the past, the first attempt by the IRS to contact an employer having payment difficulties often did not occur until much later in the process, after the employment return was filed and the employer’s unpaid tax obligation had already begun to spiral out of control.

“Employers play a key role in our tax system, and we want to offer them the information and assistance they need to carry out their responsibilities,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “With early interaction, we will be able to offer help weeks or even months sooner, when it can often do the most good.”

Two‐thirds of federal taxes are collected through the payroll tax system. By law, employers must withhold federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes from employees’ wages.

Shortly after employees are paid, employers typically must turn over withheld amounts, along with employer‐matching contributions, to the federal government. Though payment schedules vary, these payments, known as federal tax deposits (FTDs), are made electronically through the Electronic Federal  Tax Payment System (EFTPS). These FTDs are later reported on a return, usually filed quarterly, with the IRS.

Employers, especially those facing liquidity difficulties, sometimes inappropriately divert funds withheld from employees’ pay for working capital or other purposes. Even when well‐intentioned, such diversions can quickly result in mounting tax liabilities for the employer, along with interest and penalties, potentially threatening the employer’s financial viability.

Also, employers may have a payroll processor or others handling their payroll, withholding, matching, remittance, and/or reporting responsibilities, which sometimes leads to miscommunication between the parties and may result in tax deposits and reporting not being made as required. Such  miscommunication may also quickly result in mounting tax liabilities, interest and penalties that are costly and risky to the business.

To help employers avoid these problems, the new IRS initiative will monitor deposit patterns and identify employers whose payments decline or are late. Employers identified under this initiative may receive a letter reminding them of their payroll tax responsibilities and asking that they contact the IRS to discuss the situation. In addition, some employers may receive automated phone messages from the IRS providing information and assistance. Where appropriate, an IRS revenue officer will also contact some of these employers at their place of business.

 

IR2015136, Dec. 8, 2015   

Phone scams are a serious threat to taxpayers

The IRS has seen a surge of phone scams in recent months as scam artists call unsuspecting taxpayers impersonating an IRS agent and proceed to threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things if the taxpayer does not pay a tax amount.

The IRS reminds taxpayers to guard against all sorts of con games that arise during any filing season.

“If someone calls unexpectedly claiming to be from the IRS with aggressive threats if you don’t pay immediately, it’s a scam artist calling,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The first IRS contact with taxpayers is usually through the mail. Taxpayers have rights, and this is not how we do business.”

Scammers are able to alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS badge numbers. They often leave “urgent” callback requests. They prey on the most vulnerable people, such as the elderly, newly arrived immigrants and those whose first language is not English. Scammers have been known to impersonate agents from IRS Criminal Investigation as well.

“These criminals try to scare and shock you into providing personal financial information on the spot while you are off guard,” Koskinen said. “Don’t be taken in and don’t engage these people over the phone.”

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has received reports of roughly 290,000 contacts since October 2013 and has become aware of nearly 3,000 victims who have collectively paid over $14 million as a result of the scam, in which individuals make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials and demanding that they send them cash via prepaid debit cards.

Protect Yourself

As telephone scams continue across the country, the IRS recently put out a new YouTube video with a renewed warning to taxpayers not to be fooled by imposters posing as tax agency representatives. The new Tax Scams video describes some basic tips to help protect taxpayers from tax scams.

These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They may know a lot about you.

The IRS reminds people that they can know pretty easily when a supposed IRS caller is a fake. Here are five 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, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
  • If you’ve been targeted by this scam, also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

Remember, too, the IRS does not use email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue involving bills or refunds. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.

Additional information about tax scams is available on IRS social media sites, including YouTube http://www.youtube.com/irsvideos and Tumblr http://internalrevenueservice.tumblr.com, where people can search “scam” to find all the scam-related posts.

From: IRS Newswire — January 22, 2015 — Issue Number: IR-2015-5

TIGTA Warns of “Largest Ever” Phone Fraud Scam Targeting Taxpayers

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) today issued a warning to taxpayers to beware of phone calls from individuals claiming to represent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in an effort to defraud them.

“This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. George noted that TIGTA has received reports of over 20,000 contacts and has become aware of thousands of victims who have collectively paid over $1 million as a result of the scam, in which individuals make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials.

“The increasing number of people receiving these unsolicited calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is alarming,” he said. “At all times, and particularly during the tax filing season, we want to make sure that innocent taxpayers are alert to this scam so they are not harmed by these criminals,” George said, adding, “Do not become a victim.”

Inspector General George urged taxpayers to heed warnings about the sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, noting that the scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every State in the country. Callers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license.

The truth is the IRS usually first contacts people by mail – not by phone – about unpaid taxes. And the IRS won’t ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The IRS also won’t ask for a credit card number over the phone.

“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and uses threatening language if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling,” he said.

The callers who commit this fraud often:

  • Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.
  • Know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security Number.
  • Make caller ID information appear as if the IRS is calling.
  • Send bogus IRS e-mails to support their scam.
  • Call a second time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID again supports their claim.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, here’s what to do:

  • If you owe Federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.
  • If you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to TIGTA at 800-366-4484.
  • You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.

TIGTA and the IRS encourage taxpayers to be alert for phone and e-mail scams that use the IRS name. The IRS will never request personal or financial information by e-mail, texting or any social media. You should forward scam e-mails to phishing@irs.gov. Don’t open any attachments or click on any links in those e-mails.

Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes winner) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.

Read more about tax scams on the genuine IRS website at www.irs.gov.

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From: http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/press/press_tigta-2014-03.htm

New Earned Income Credit (EIC) Documentation Requirement

As the taxpayer claiming a child (or children), you need to provide documentation that the child/children actually live with you.  Below is a list of documents that may be used to support that claim:

  • School records or statement showing the child’s (your) address
  • Landlord or property management statement
  • Health care provider statement
  • Medical records
  • Child care provider records
  • Placement agency statement
  • Social service records or statement
  • Place of worship statement
  • Indian tribal official statement
  • Employer statement

Be sure to include at least one of these things with the documentation you provide to your tax preparer to do your tax return if your income is low enough that you expect to qualify for the EIC.

If you are claiming a disabled child, you will need to prove the disability by providing at least one of the following:

  • Doctor statement
  • Other health care provider statement
  • Social services agency or program statement

Lastly, if a Schedule C for a self-employed business is filed as part of the tax return, the tax preparer must document the existence of the business and document what records were used to determine the business income and expenses claimed for the business.  These records to submit to your preparer include the following:

  • Business license
  • 1099-MISC forms
  • Records of gross receipts
  • Income summary
  • Expense summary
  • Bank statements

These are permanent documentation requirements for 2013 tax returns and beyond for anyone claiming the federal Earned Income Credit.

 

 

Tax season opens Jan. 30th

It might not be as exciting as deer season or football season, but tax season opens this year on Jan. 30th.

Following the January tax law changes made by Congress under the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA), the IRS recently announced that plans to open the 2013 filing season and begin processing individual income tax returns on that day.

The IRS will begin accepting tax returns on that date after updating forms and completing programming and testing of its processing systems. This will reflect the bulk of the late tax law changes enacted Jan. 2.The announcement means that the vast majority of tax filers — more than 120 million households — should be able to start filing tax returns starting Jan 30.

The IRS estimates that remaining households will be able to start filing in late February or into March because of the need for more extensive form and processing systems changes. This group includes people claiming residential energy credits, depreciation of property or general business credits.

The IRS will not process paper tax returns before the anticipated Jan. 30 opening date. There is no advantage to filing on paper before the opening date, and taxpayers will receive their tax refunds much faster by using e-file with direct deposit.

The opening of the filing season follows passage by Congress of an extensive set of tax changes in ATRA on Jan. 1, 2013, with many affecting tax returns for 2012. While the IRS worked to anticipate the late tax law changes as much as possible, the final law required that the IRS update forms and instructions as well as make critical processing system adjustments before it can begin accepting tax returns.

Who Can’t File Until Later?

There are several forms affected by the late legislation that require more extensive programming and testing of IRS systems. The IRS hopes to begin accepting tax returns including these tax forms between late February and into March; a specific date will be announced in the near future.

The key forms that require more extensive programming changes include Form 5695 (Residential Energy Credits), Form 4562 (Depreciation and Amortization) and Form 3800 (General Business Credit). A full listing of the forms that won’t be accepted until later is available on IRS.gov.

As part of this effort, the IRS will be working closely with the tax software industry and tax professional community to minimize delays and ensure as smooth a tax season as possible under the circumstances.

Updated information will be posted on IRS.gov.