IRS News

IRS News Essentials: IRS Cautions Taxpayers to Watch for Summertime scams

These scams could prompt taxpayers to contact your site for assistance, please review

IR-2017-112, June 26, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today issued a warning that tax-related scams continue across the nation even though the tax filing season has ended for most taxpayers. People should remain on alert to new and emerging schemes involving the tax system that continue to claim victims.

“We continue to urge people to watch out for new and evolving schemes this summer,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Many of these are variations of a theme, involving fictitious tax bills and demands to pay by purchasing and transferring information involving a gift card or iTunes card. Taxpayers can avoid these and other tricky financial scams by taking a few minutes to review the tell-tale signs of these schemes.”

EFTPS Scam

A new scam which is linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) has been reported nationwide. In this ruse, con artists call to demand immediate tax payment. The caller claims to be from the IRS and says that two certified letters mailed to the taxpayer were returned as undeliverable. The scammer then threatens arrest if a payment is not made immediately by a specific prepaid debit card. Victims are told that the debit card is linked to the EFTPS when, in reality, it is controlled entirely by the scammer. Victims are warned not to talk to their tax preparer, attorney or the local IRS office until after the payment is made.

“Robo-call” Messages

The IRS does not call and leave prerecorded, urgent messages asking for a call back. In this tactic, scammers tell victims that if they do not call back, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. Those who do respond are told they must make immediate payment either by a specific prepaid debit card or by wire transfer.

Private Debt Collection Scams

The IRS recently began sending letters to a relatively small group of taxpayers whose overdue federal tax accounts are being assigned to one of four private-sector collection agencies. Taxpayers should be on the lookout for scammers posing as private collection firms. The IRS-authorized firms will only be calling about a tax debt the person has had – and has been aware of – for years. The IRS would have previously contacted taxpayers about their tax debt.

Scams Targeting People with Limited English Proficiency

Taxpayers with limited English proficiency have been recent targets of phone scams and email phishing schemes that continue to occur across the country. Con artists often approach victims in their native language, threaten them with deportation, police arrest and license revocation among other things. They tell their victims they owe the IRS money and must pay it promptly through a preloaded debit card, gift card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls” or via a phishing email.

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. The IRS will usually 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:

How to Know It’s Really the IRS Calling or Knocking

The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. However, there are special circumstances in which the IRS will call or come to a home or business, such as:

  • when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill,
  • to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment, or,
  • to tour a business as part of an audit or during criminal investigations.

Even then, taxpayers will generally first receive several letters (called “notices”) from the IRS in the mail. For more information, visit “How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door” on IRS.gov.

IRS Newswire: Security Summit Warns of new Phishing Email

Please review in case you are contacted by your taxpayers:

IR-2017-111, June 23, 2017

 

WASHINGTON – The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry today warned tax professionals to beware of phishing emails purporting to be from a tax software education provider and seeking extensive amounts of sensitive preparer data.

 

The email’s origin is unknown but likely issued by cybercriminals who could be operating from the U.S. or abroad. The email is unusual for the amount of sensitive preparer data that it seeks. This preparer information will enable the thieves to steal client data and file fraudulent tax returns.

 

The IRS reminds all tax professionals that legitimate businesses and organizations never ask for usernames, passwords or sensitive data via email. Nor should a preparer ever provide such sensitive information via email if asked.

 

All tax professionals should be aware that their e-Services credentials, the Electronic Filing Information Number (EFIN), the Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and their Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number are extremely valuable to identity thieves. Anyone handling taxpayer information has a legal obligation to protect that data.

 

Because the IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry, acting in partnership as the Security Summit, are making inroads on individual tax-related identity theft, cybercriminals increasingly target tax professionals. Thieves are looking for real client data so they can better impersonate the taxpayer when filing fraudulent returns for refunds.

 

The fake email uses the name of a real U.S.-based preparer education firm. Here’s the text as it appears in phishing emails being sent to tax professionals: In our database, there is a failure, we need your information about your account.

 

In addition, we need a photo of the driver’s license, send all the data to the letter. Please do it as soon as possible, this will help us to revive the account.

 

*Company Name *

*EServices Username *

*EServices Password *

*EServices Pin *

*CAF number*

*Answers to a secret question*

*EIN Number *

*Business Name

*Owner/Principal Name *

*Owner/Principal DOB *

*Owner/Principal SSN *

*Prior Years AGI

Mother’s Maiden Name

IRS Quick Alert: Extended MeF Maintenance Window

The MeF maintenance build window is being extended on Sunday, June 25, 2017. The systems will be unavailable for accepting submissions from 12:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Eastern.  The build will deploy critical system updates.

 

Blog Posted  06/23/2017

IRS Quick Alert: Extended Maintenance Window – MeF Production

The MeF maintenance build window is being extended on Sunday, June 18, 2017. The system will be unavailable from 1:00 a.m. until noon Eastern.

The build will deploy critical system updates. This extended window affects the MeF Production Environment.

 

How does this impact you?  You will not be receiving acknowledgements on any files you send us during this IRS MeF maintenance window.  Once the IRS restores their processing, we will also resume ours.

Blog posted 06/12/2017  5:28 PM EDT

IRS Newswire: IRS Warns of New Phone Scam Involving Bogus Certified Letters

WASHINGTON – 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.

 

Blog Posted 06/15/2017   10:56 AM EDT

IRS Newswire: IRS Continues to Expand Taxpayer Services

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service announced today the addition of several new features to the online account tool first introduced late last year as part of the IRS’s commitment to improve and expand taxpayer services.

The online account allows individual taxpayers to access the latest information available about their federal tax account through a secure and convenient tool on IRS.gov. When it first launched in December 2016, the tool assisted taxpayers with basic account inquiries such as information about their balance due and access to the various IRS payment options. Since then, the IRS has added new features allowing taxpayers to:

  • View up to 18 months of tax payment history
  • View payoff amounts and tax balance due for each tax year
  • Obtain online transcripts of various Form 1040-series through Get Transcript
  • Give feedback on their experience with their online account and make suggestions for improvements

“We are constantly looking for ways to improve taxpayers’ interactions with the IRS and adding these new features to the taxpayer’s online account is an important step in that direction,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The IRS is committed to serving taxpayers in multiple ways and now taxpayers who want to interact digitally with us in a secure environment have access to even more helpful features.”

Before accessing the tool, taxpayers must authenticate their identities through the rigorous Secure Access process. This is a two-step authentication process, which means returning users must have their credentials (username and password) plus a security code sent as a text to their mobile phones.

Taxpayers who have registered using Secure Access for Get Transcript Online or Get an IP PIN may use their same username and password. To register for the first time, taxpayers must have their personal and financial information including: Social Security number, specific financial information, such as a credit card number or loan numbers, email address and a text-enabled mobile phone in the user’s name. Taxpayers may review the Secure Access  process prior to starting registration.

As part of the security process to authenticate taxpayers, the IRS will send verification, activation or security codes via email and text. The IRS warns taxpayers that it will not initiate contact via text or email asking for log-in information or personal data. The IRS texts and emails will only contain one-time codes.

In addition to the online account, the IRS continues to provide several self-service tools and helpful resources available on IRS.gov for individuals, businesses and tax professionals.

 

Blog Posted 06/15/2017  9:07 AM EDT

IRS E-News: Missouri Storm Victims Tax Relief

Tax Relief for Victims of Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line Winds, and Flooding in Missouri

MO-2017-01, June 6, 2017

Missouri — Victims of the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that took place beginning on April 28, 2017 in parts of Missouri may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service.

The President has declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Missouri. Following the recent disaster declaration for individual assistance issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the IRS announced today that affected taxpayers in Missouri will receive tax relief.

Individuals who reside or have a business in the following counties: Bollinger, Butler, Carter, Douglas, Dunklin, Franklin, Gasconade, Howell, Jasper, Jefferson, Madison, Maries, McDonald, Newton, Oregon, Osage, Ozark, Pemiscot, Phelps, Pulaski, Reynolds, Ripley, Shannon, St. Louis, Stone, Taney, and Texas may qualify for tax relief.

The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after April 28, 2017, and before August 31, 2017, are granted additional time to file through August 31, 2017. This includes the estimated tax payment due on June 15, 2017 and the quarterly payroll tax returns due on April 30, 2017 and July 31, 2017.  Affected taxpayers that have an estimated income tax payment originally due on or after April 28, 2017, and before August 31, 2017, will not be subject to penalties for failure to pay estimated tax installments as long as such payments are paid on or before August 31, 2017.

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 that falls within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the telephone number on the notice to have the IRS abate the penalty.

The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies automatic filing and payment relief. But affected taxpayers who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area must call the IRS disaster hotline at 866-562-5227 to request this tax relief.

Covered Disaster Area

The counties listed above constitutes a covered disaster area for purposes of Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(d)(2) and are entitled to the relief detailed below.

Affected Taxpayers

Taxpayers considered to be affected taxpayers eligible for the postponement of time to file returns, pay taxes and perform other time-sensitive acts are those taxpayers listed in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(d)(1), and include individuals who live, and businesses whose principal place of business is located, in the covered disaster area. Taxpayers not in the covered disaster area, but whose records necessary to meet a deadline listed in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(c) are in the covered disaster area, are also entitled to relief. In addition, all relief workers affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization assisting in the relief activities in the covered disaster area and any individual visiting the covered disaster area that lost their life or was injured as a result of the disaster are entitled to relief.

Grant of Relief

Under section 7508A, the IRS gives affected taxpayers until August 31, 2017, to file most tax returns (including individual, corporate, and estate and trust income tax returns; partnership returns, S corporation returns, and trust returns; estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax returns; and employment and certain excise tax returns), that have either an original or extended due date occurring on or after April 28, 2017, and before August 31, 2017. Affected taxpayers that have an estimated income tax payment originally due on or after April 28, 2017, and before August 31, 2017, will not be subject to penalties for failure to pay estimated tax installments as long as such payments are paid on or before August 31, 2017 The IRS also gives affected taxpayers until August 31, 2017 to perform other time-sensitive actions described in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(c)(1) and Rev. Proc. 2007-56, 2007-34 I.R.B. 388 (Aug. 20, 2007), that are due to be performed on or after April 28, 2017, and before August 31, 2017.

This relief also includes the filing of Form 5500 series returns, (that were required to be filed on or after April 28, 2017, and before, August 31, 2017 in the manner described in section 8 of Rev. Proc. 2007-56. The relief described in section 17 of Rev. Proc. 2007-56, pertaining to like-kind exchanges of property, also applies to certain taxpayers who are not otherwise affected taxpayers and may include acts required to be performed before or after the period above.

Unless an act is specifically listed in Rev. Proc. 2007-56, The postponement of time to file and pay does not apply to information returns in the W-2, 1098, 1099 series, or to Forms 1042-S or 8027. Penalties for failure to timely file information returns can be waived under existing procedures for reasonable cause. Likewise, the postponement does not apply to employment and excise tax deposits. The IRS, however, will abate penalties for failure to make timely employment and excise tax deposits due on or after April 28, 2017, and before May 15, 2017, will be abated as long as the tax deposits were made by May 15, 2017.

Casualty Losses

Affected taxpayers in a federally declared disaster area have the option of claiming disaster-related casualty losses on their federal income tax return for either the year in which the event occurred, or the prior year. See Publication 547 for details.

Individuals may deduct personal property losses that are not covered by insurance or other reimbursements. For details, see Form 4684 and its instructions.

Affected taxpayers claiming the disaster loss on a 2016 return should put the Disaster Designation, “Missouri, Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line Winds, and Flooding,” at the top of the form so that the IRS can expedite the processing of the refund.

Other Relief

The IRS will waive the usual fees and expedite requests for copies of previously filed tax returns for affected taxpayers. Taxpayers should put the assigned Disaster Designation  “Missouri, Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line Winds, and Flooding” in red ink at the top of Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, or Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, as appropriate, and submit it to the IRS.

Affected taxpayers who are contacted by the IRS on a collection or examination matter should explain how the disaster impacts them so that the IRS can provide appropriate consideration to their case. Taxpayers may download forms and publications from the official IRS website, irs.gov, or order them by calling 800-829-3676. The IRS toll-free number for general tax questions is 800-829-1040.

Blog Posted 06/12/2017     7:59 PM EST

IRS E-News: Protect your Clients, Protect Yourself

The IRS has began publishing articles on security suggestions and recommendations for protecting taxpayer data.  As the IRS Security Working Summit reviews the tax season and makes recommendations, we will be posting changing to security protocols based on any new requirements and/or recommendations.

~~~  IRS Article ~~~

Increasingly, tax professionals are being targeted by identity thieves. These criminals – many of them sophisticated, organized syndicates – are redoubling their efforts to gather personal data to file fraudulent federal and state income tax returns.

No one entity can fight this crime alone. It takes all of us, working together.

That is why the Security Summit – the unprecedented partnership between the IRS, state tax agencies, and the private-sector tax industry – came together to form a united and coordinated front against this common enemy. And, that’s why they are asking tax professionals nationwide to join this effort.

In addition to new security safeguards for 2017, the Security Summit has launched a campaign aimed at increasing awareness among tax professionals: Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself. This is a follow-up effort to the “Taxes. Security. Together.” public awareness campaign.

The IRS and its Security Summit partners will issue a series of fact sheets and tips on security, scams and identity theft prevention measures aimed at tax professionals and steps they can take to protect client data and their businesses.

Blog Posted 06/12/2017   7:55 AM EDT

 

IRS Quick Alert: Extended Maintenance Window — MeF Production

The MeF maintenance build window is being extended on Sunday, June 11, 2017. The systems will be unavailable from 1:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

How does this impact you?  The IRS has extended its weekly maintenance window by 3 hours.  The IRS will not be processing returns during this period.

Blog Posted 06/09/2017    7:41 AM EDT

 

IRS Outreach Center — Is that really the IRS at your door?

Is that really the IRS at your door?

With continuing phone scams and in-person scams taking place across the country, you should be aware that IRS employees do make official, sometimes unannounced, visits to people as part of their routine casework. You should keep in mind the reasons these visits occur and understand how to verify if it’s the IRS knocking at your door.
Visits typically fall into three categories:

• IRS revenue officers sometimes make unannounced visits to a home or place of business to discuss taxes owed or tax returns due. Revenue officers are IRS civil enforcement employees whose role involves education, investigation, and when necessary, appropriate enforcement.

• IRS revenue agents sometimes visit someone who is being audited. That person would have first been notified by mail about the audit and set an agreed upon appointment time with the revenue agent. Also, after mailing an initial appointment letter, an auditor may call to confirm and discuss items pertaining to the scheduled audit appointment.

• IRS criminal investigators may visit a home or place of business unannounced while conducting an investigation. However, these are federal law enforcement agents, and they will not demand any sort of payment. Criminal investigators also carry law enforcement credentials, including a badge.

For more information, visit “How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door” on IRS.gov.