Tag Archives: IRS News Release

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 Tax Tip: Adoption Credit

Adoption Tax Credit Facts to Consider

Taxpayers who have adopted or tried to adopt a child in 2016 may qualify for a tax credit. Here are ten important things about the adoption credit:

  1. The Credit. The credit is nonrefundable, which may reduce taxes owed to zero. If the credit exceeds the tax owed, there is no refund of the additional amount. In addition, if an employer helped pay for the adoption through a written qualified adoption assistance program, that amount may reduce any taxes owed.
  2. Maximum Benefit. The maximum adoption tax credit and exclusion for 2016 is $13,460 per child.
  3. Credit Carryover. If the credit exceeds the tax owed, taxpayers can carry any unused credit forward. For example, the unused credit in 2016 can reduce taxes for 2017. Use this method for up to five years or until the credit is fully used, whichever comes first.
  4. Eligible Child. An eligible child is an individual under age 18 or a person who is physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.
  5. Qualified Expenses. Adoption expenses must be reasonable, necessary and directly related to the adoption of the child. Types of expenses may include adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees and travel.
  6. Domestic or Foreign Adoptions. Taxpayers can usually claim the credit whether the adoption is domestic or foreign. However, there are different rules regarding the timing of expenses for each type of adoption.
  7. Special Needs Child. A special rule may apply if the adoption is of an eligible U.S. child with special needs. Under this special rule, taxpayers can claim the tax credit, even if qualified adoption expenses were not paid.
  8. No Double Benefit. In some instances both the tax credit and the exclusion may be claimed but not for the same expenses.
  9. Income Limits. The credit and exclusion are subject to income limitations. These may reduce or eliminate the claimable amount..

IRS Tax Tip: IRS Can Help Taxpayers Get Form W-2

IRS Can Help Taxpayers Get Form W-2

Most taxpayers got their W-2 Forms by the end of January. Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, shows the income and taxes withheld from an employee’s pay for the year. Taxpayers need it to file an accurate tax return.

If a taxpayer hasn’t received their form by mid-February, here’s what they should do:

  • Contact their Employer. Taxpayers should ask their employer (or former employer) for a copy of their W-2. Be sure the employer has the correct address.
  • Call the IRS. If a taxpayer is unable to get a copy from their employer, they may call the IRS after Feb. 27. The IRS will send a letter to the employer on the taxpayer’s behalf. The taxpayer will need the following when they call:
    • Their name, address, Social Security number and phone number;
    • Their employer’s name, address and phone number;
    • The dates they worked for the employer; and
    • An estimate of their wages and federal income tax withheld in 2016. Use a final pay stub for these amounts.
  • File on Time. Taxpayers should file their tax return by April 18, 2017. If they still haven’t received their W-2, they should use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. They should estimate their wages and taxes withheld as best as possible. To request more time to file, use Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File. Taxpayers can also e-file a request for more time. Do it for free using IRS Free File. However, remember, an extension of time to file your return is not an extension of time to pay taxes owed.
  • Correct a Tax Return if Necessary. Taxpayers may need to correct their tax return if they get a missing W-2 after they file. If the tax information on the W-2 is different from what they originally reported, they may need to file an amended tax return. Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to make the change.

All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a 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.

IRS E-News Special Edition “Where’s My Refund Information”

Where’s My Refund? will be updated on 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 deposit date or an intermittent 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

 

Reminder:  We DO NOT have access to refund information.

IRS News Essentials: Create Strong Passwords

Safeguarding Taxpayer Data: Create Strong Passwords

Passwords are often the key to the identification and authentication process for access to your computer, email and encrypted information, both received and transmitted. For this reason, it is critical to your business and the security of your client data that you have strong passwords and that you protect those passwords.

Here are some things you should consider in creating and protecting passwords:

  • Longer passwords are safe and more difficult to guess. A strong password should be a minimum of eight characters. It should include a combination of letters, numbers and symbols or special characters. Your password should include at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, one number and one symbol or character.
  • Personal information should not be included in your passwords.  Names of siblings, children, pets, etc., are generally available on social media, which makes it easier for cybercriminals to figure out your password.
  • Avoid using the same password for all of your information systems, accounts or devices. If someone does guess one password, they will not have access to all your systems, devices or data.
  • Substitute numbers and symbols for letters in words or phrases to make it more difficult to guess a password.

Do not share your password and be careful of attempts to trick you into revealing your password.