IRS Tax News

  • 17 Jan 2018 12:07 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry today urged all employers to educate their payroll personnel about a Form W-2 phishing scam that made victims of hundreds of organizations and thousands of employees last year.

    The Form W-2 scam has emerged as one of the most dangerous phishing emails in the tax community. During the last two tax seasons, cybercriminals tricked payroll personnel or people with access to payroll information into disclosing sensitive information for entire workforces. The scam affected all types of employers, from small and large businesses to public schools and universities, hospitals, tribal governments and charities.

    Reports to phishing@irs.gov from victims and nonvictims about this scam jumped to approximately 900 in 2017, compared to slightly over 100 in 2016. Last year, more than 200 employers were victimized, which translated into hundreds of thousands of employees who had their identities compromised.

    By alerting employers now, the IRS and its partners in the Security Summit effort hope to limit the success of this scam in 2018. The IRS last year also created a new process by which employers should report these scams. There are steps the IRS can take to protect employees, but only if the agency is notified immediately by employers about the theft.

    Here’s how the scam works: Cybercriminals do their homework, identifying chief operating officers, school executives or others in positions of authority. Using a technique known as business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES), fraudsters posing as executives send emails to payroll personnel requesting copies of Forms W-2 for all employees.

    The Form W-2 contains the employee’s name, address, Social Security number, income and withholdings. Criminals use that information to file fraudulent tax returns, or they post it for sale on the Dark Net.

    The initial email may be a friendly, “hi, are you working today” exchange before the fraudster asks for all Form W-2 information. In several reported cases, after the fraudsters acquired the workforce information, they immediately followed that up with a request for a wire transfer.

    In addition to educating payroll or finance personnel, the IRS and Security Summit partners also urge employers to consider creating a policy to limit the number of employees who have authority to handle Form W-2 requests and that they require additional verification procedures to validate the actual request before emailing sensitive data such as employee Form W-2s.

    If the business or organization victimized by these attacks notifies the IRS, the IRS can take steps to help prevent employees from being victims of tax-related identity theft. However, because of the nature of these scams, some businesses and organizations did not realize for days, weeks or months that they had been scammed. 

    The IRS established a special email notification address specifically for employers to report Form W-2 data thefts. Here’s how Form W-2 scam victims can notify the IRS:

    • Email dataloss@irs.gov to notify the IRS of a Form W-2 data loss and provide contact information, as listed below.
    • In the subject line, type “W2 Data Loss” so that the email can be routed properly. Do not attach any employee personally identifiable information data.
    • Include the following:
    • Business name
    • Business employer identification number (EIN) associated with the data loss
    • Contact name
    • Contact phone number
    • Summary of how the data loss occurred
    • Volume of employees impacted

    Businesses and organizations that fall victim to the scam and/or organizations that only receive a suspect email but do not fall victim to the scam should send the full email headers to phishing@irs.gov and use “W2 Scam” in the subject line.

    Employers can learn more at Form W-2/SSN Data Theft: Information for Businesses and Payroll Service Providers.

    Employers should be aware that cybercriminals’ scams constantly evolve. Finance and payroll personnel should be alert to any unusual requests for employee data.

  • 17 Jan 2018 11:51 AM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON ─ The Internal Revenue Service today strongly encouraged taxpayers who are seriously behind on their taxes to pay what they owe or enter into a payment agreement with the IRS to avoid putting their passports in jeopardy.

    This month, the IRS will begin implementation of new procedures affecting individuals with “seriously delinquent tax debts.” These new procedures implement provisions of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, signed into law in December 2015. The FAST Act requires the IRS to notify the State Department of taxpayers the IRS has certified as owing a seriously delinquent tax debt. See Notice 2018-1. The FAST Act also requires the State Department to deny their passport application or deny renewal of their passport. In some cases, the State Department may revoke their passport.

    Taxpayers affected by this law are those with a seriously delinquent tax debt.  A taxpayer with a seriously delinquent tax debt is generally someone who owes the IRS more than $51,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest for which the IRS has filed a Notice of Federal Tax Lien and the period to challenge it has expired or the IRS has issued a levy.

    There are several ways taxpayers can avoid having the IRS notify the State Department of their seriously delinquent tax debt. They include the following:

    • Paying the tax debt in full
    • Paying the tax debt timely under an approved installment agreement,
    • Paying the tax debt timely under an accepted offer in compromise,
    • Paying the tax debt timely under the terms of a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice,
    • Having requested or have a pending collection due process appeal with a levy, or
    • Having collection suspended because a taxpayer has made an innocent spouse election or requested innocent spouse relief.

    A passport won’t be at risk under this program for any taxpayer: 

    • Who is in bankruptcy
    • Who is identified by the IRS as a victim of tax-related identity theft
    • Whose account the IRS has determined is currently not collectible due to hardship
    • Who is located within a federally declared disaster area
    • Who has a request pending with the IRS for an installment agreement
    • Who has a pending offer in compromise with the IRS
    • Who has an IRS accepted adjustment that will satisfy the debt in full

    For taxpayers serving in a combat zone who owe a seriously delinquent tax debt, the IRS postpones notifying the State Department and the individual’s passport is not subject to denial during this time.

    In general, taxpayers behind on their tax obligations should come forward and pay what they owe or enter into a payment plan with the IRS. Frequently, taxpayers qualify for one of several relief programs, including the following:

    • Taxpayers can request a payment agreement with the IRS by filing Form 9465. Taxpayers can download this form from IRS.gov and mail it along with a tax return, bill or notice. Some taxpayers can use the online payment agreement to set up a monthly payment agreement for up to 72 months.
    • Some financially distressed taxpayers may qualify for an offer in compromise. This is an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. The IRS looks at the taxpayer’s income and assets to determine the taxpayer’s ability to pay. To help determine eligibility, use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier, a free online tool available on IRS.gov.

    IRS.gov has other tips for taxpayers to catch up on their filing and tax obligations and more information about the revocation or denial of passports because of unpaid taxes.

  • 08 Jan 2018 9:16 AM | Anonymous

    This Jan. 17 webinar features OPR Director Stephen Whitlock and includes a live question and answer session at the end of the presentation.

    Topics include:

    • Regulations governing tax practice before the IRS (Circular 230, Rev. 6/2014)
    • Due diligence obligations of tax professionals
    • Overview of other key Circular 230 provisions
    • Practitioner responsibilities to their clients and to the tax administration system
    • Best practices for all tax professionals
    • Office of Professional Responsibility policies and procedures

    Register for the webinar

    Earn two CE credits in ethics.

  • 08 Jan 2018 9:14 AM | Anonymous

    All Forms 8809, Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns, filed on paper are now processed by the Internal Revenue Service Center in Ogden, Utah. These paper forms must be mailed. Faxes will not be accepted.

    The mailing address is:

    Department of the Treasury
    Internal Revenue Service Center
    Ogden, UT 84201-0209

    The IRS will only grant extensions for very specific reasons. For example, records were lost in a disaster or someone responsible for filing the company’s returns has an unavoidable absence.  

  • 08 Jan 2018 9:13 AM | Anonymous

    Tax professionals can protect their clients’ data by simply looking around the office. Look for places where data is kept or stored and assess whether that data is secure. Keep in mind that unsecured data will not always be on a computer. In fact, securing office space is as important as securing computers. In assessing how secure an office is, preparers should consider six questions.

    See Protect Your Clients, Protect Yourself for more.

  • 05 Jan 2018 9:30 AM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service announced today that the nation’s tax season will begin Monday, Jan. 29, 2018 and reminded taxpayers claiming certain tax credits that refunds won’t be available before late February.

    The IRS will begin accepting tax returns on Jan. 29, with nearly 155 million individual tax returns expected to be filed in 2018. The nation’s tax deadline will be April 17 this year – so taxpayers will have two additional days to file beyond April 15. 

    Many software companies and tax professionals will be accepting tax returns before Jan. 29 and then will submit the returns when IRS systems open. Although the IRS will begin accepting both electronic and paper tax returns Jan. 29, paper returns will begin processing later in mid-February as system updates continue. The IRS strongly encourages people to file their tax returns electronically for faster refunds.

    The IRS set the Jan. 29 opening date to ensure the security and readiness of key tax processing systems in advance of the opening and to assess the potential impact of tax legislation on 2017 tax returns.

    The IRS reminds taxpayers that, by law, the IRS cannot issue refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. While the IRS will process those returns when received, it cannot issue related refunds before mid-February. The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting on Feb. 27, 2018, if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return.    The IRS also reminds taxpayers that they should keep copies of their prior-year tax returns for at least three years. Taxpayers who are using a tax software product for the first time will need their adjusted gross income from their 2016 tax return to file electronically. Taxpayers who are using the same tax software they used last year will not need to enter prior-year information to electronically sign their 2017 tax return. Using an electronic filing PIN is no longer an option. Taxpayers can visit IRS.gov/GetReady for more tips on preparing to file their 2017 tax return.

    April 17 Filing Deadline  

    The filing deadline to submit 2017 tax returns is Tuesday, April 17, 2018, rather than the traditional April 15 date. In 2018, April 15 falls on a Sunday, and this would usually move the filing deadline to the following Monday – April 16. However, Emancipation Day – a legal holiday in the District of Columbia – will be observed on that Monday, which pushes the nation’s filing deadline to Tuesday, April 17, 2017. Under the tax law, legal holidays in the District of Columbia affect the filing deadline across the nation.

    The IRS also has been working with the tax industry and state revenue departments as part of the Security Summit initiative to continue strengthening processing systems to protect taxpayers from identity theft and refund fraud. The IRS and Summit partners continued to improve these safeguards to further protect taxpayers filing in 2018.

    Refunds in 2018

    Choosing e-file and direct deposit for refunds remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund. The IRS expects more than four out of five tax returns will be prepared electronically using tax software.

    The IRS still anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, but there are some important factors to keep in mind for taxpayers.

    By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds on tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit before mid-February. This applies to the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC.

    The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting on Feb. 27, 2018, if those taxpayers chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return. This additional period is due to several factors, including banking and financial systems needing time to process deposits.

    After refunds leave the IRS, it takes additional time for them to be processed and for financial institutions to accept and deposit the refunds to bank accounts and products. The IRS reminds taxpayers many financial institutions do not process payments on weekends or holidays, which can affect when refunds reach taxpayers. For EITC and ACTC filers, the three-day holiday weekend involving Presidents’ Day may affect their refund timing.

    The Where's My Refund? ‎tool on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go phone app will be updated with projected deposit dates for early EITC and ACTC refund filers in late February. Taxpayers will not see a refund date on Where's My Refund? ‎or through their software packages until then. The IRS, tax preparers and tax software will not have additional information on refund dates, so Where’s My Refund? remains the best way to check the status of a refund.

    IRS Offers Help for Taxpayers

    The IRS reminds taxpayers they have a variety of options to get help filing and preparing their tax return on IRS.gov, the official IRS website. Taxpayers can find answers to their tax questions and resolve tax issues online. The Let Us Help You page helps answer most tax questions, and the IRS Services Guide links to these and other IRS services.

    Taxpayers can go to IRS.gov/account to securely access information about their federal tax account. They can view the amount they owe, pay online or set up an online payment agreement; access their tax records online; review the past 18 months of payment history; and view key tax return information for the current year as filed. Visit IRS.gov/secureaccess to review the required identity authentication process.

    In addition, 70 percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. Commercial partners of the IRS offer free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $66,000 or less.

    The online fillable forms provide electronic versions of IRS paper forms to all taxpayers regardless of income that can be prepared and filed by people comfortable with completing their own returns.

    Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offer free tax help to people who qualify. Go to IRS.gov and enter “free tax prep” in the search box to learn more and find a nearby VITA or TCE site, or download the IRS2Go smartphone app to find a free tax prep provider. If eligible, taxpayers can also locate help from a community volunteer. Go to IRS.gov and click on the Filing tab for more information.

    The IRS also reminds taxpayers that a trusted tax professional can provide helpful information and advice. Tips for choosing a return preparer and details about national tax professional groups are available on IRS.gov.

  • 14 Dec 2017 3:59 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued revised guidance extending relief for certain partnerships, real estate mortgage investment conduits (REMICs), and other entities that did not file the required returns by the new due date for tax years beginning in 2016.

    The Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 (Surface Transportation Act) changed the date by which a partnership, REMIC, or other entity must file its annual return.  For calendar year filers, the due date for filing the annual return or request for an extension changed from April 15 (April 18 in 2017) to March 15.  

    Many entities filed their returns or their extension request for tax year 2016 by the April deadline, and if not for the Surface Transportation Act, these returns and requests for extension of time to file would have been on time.

    Notice 2017-47 provided relief from the penalty for failure to timely file for partnerships and REMICs that filed by the date that would have been timely prior to amendment by the Surface Transportation Act.

    Notice 2017-71 amplifies, clarifies, and supersedes Notice 2017-47 by providing that additional acts, such as the making of various elections, of partnerships, REMICs, and certain other entities made by the date that would have been timely prior to amendment by the Surface Transportation Act will be treated as timely.  An earlier release of Notice 2017-71 provided this relief only to taxpayers whose taxable years began and ended in 2016, but today’s revised guidance also applies to fiscal-year filers whose taxable years began in 2016 but did not end until 2017.

    Notice 2017-71 will be published in IRB 2017-51 on December 18, 2017.

  • 14 Dec 2017 3:58 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2018 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

    Beginning on Jan. 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

    • 54.5 cents for every mile of business travel driven, up 1 cent from the rate for 2017.
    • 18 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, up 1 cent from the rate for 2017.
    • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

    The business mileage rate and the medical and moving expense rates each increased 1 cent per mile from the rates for 2017. The charitable rate is set by statute and remains unchanged.

    The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs.

    Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

    A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously.  These and other requirements are described in Rev. Proc. 2010-51.

    Notice 2018-03, posted today on IRS.gov, contains the standard mileage rates, the amount a taxpayer must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate, and the maximum standard automobile cost that a taxpayer may use in computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan. 

  • 14 Dec 2017 8:34 AM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers and tax professionals of a new email scam targeting Hotmail users that is being used to steal personal and financial information.

    The phishing email subject line reads: “Internal Revenue Service Email No. XXXX | We’re processing your request soon | TXXXXXX-XXXXXXXX”. The email leads taxpayers to sign in to a fake Microsoft page and then asks for personal and financial information.

    The IRS has received over 900 complaints about this new phishing scheme that seems to exclusively target Hotmail users. The suspect websites associated with this scam have been shut down, but taxpayers should be on the lookout for similar schemes.

    Individuals who receive unsolicited emails claiming to be from the IRS should forward it to phishing@irs.gov and then delete it. It is important to keep in mind the IRS generally does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. For more information, visit the “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” page on IRS.gov.

    The IRS reminds tax professionals to be aware of phishing emails, free offers and other common tricks by scammers. Tax professionals who have data breaches should contact the IRS immediately through their Stakeholder Liaison. See Data Theft Information for Tax Professionals

  • 08 Dec 2017 3:30 PM | Anonymous

    All e-Services users,

    Starting Dec. 10, 2017, all e-Services users must register through a new, more rigorous identity proofing process called Secure Access.

    Any e-Services user who has not previously created a Secure Access account through Get Transcript Online, IP PIN tool, View Balance or by exception processing in recent days must validate their identity through this more rigorous process. This also includes all TIN Matching users and users who received Letter 5903 last December and authenticated by telephone.

    This new process is not optional on the part of the IRS or its online users. We apologize for the short notice, but as you know we’ve been planning this move for more than a year. The IRS must make this change to meet federal information system standards. Additionally, cybercriminals increasingly are targeting tax professionals to steal e-Services usernames and passwords, putting taxpayer data at risk.

    In recent years, we authenticated each e-Services user individually. When you registered for e-Services, you were asked for your name, address, social security number, your date of birth, adjusted gross income and filing status. That limited amount of information no longer is enough to meet federal information system standards. Users will continue to be authenticated as individuals.

    Here’s how Secure Access helps –

    •              First, it strengthens the initial identity proofing process to make sure the person registering is who they say they are.

    •              Second, it strengthens security through a two-factor authentication process for returning users that helps prevent account takeover by cybercriminals. Two-factor authentication means you must have your credentials (username and password) plus a security code sent to your mobile phone or generated by your IRS2Go app each time you log in.

    Once you have authenticated your identity and established a Secure Access account for e-Services, there is no further action required. Please note: Under Secure Access, you can no longer script the login process.

    Learn more about the steps you must take to successfully complete the Secure Access process, alternatives to online processing and how to use the IRS2Go app. See “Important Update about Your e-Services Account” at www.irs.gov/eservices.
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is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.

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