IRS Tax News

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  • 23 Nov 2022 1:58 PM | Anonymous

    As tax professionals begin preparing for the upcoming filing season, reviewing their security measures should be at the top of their to-do list. The Taxes-Security-Together Checklist can help tax them identify the basic steps they should take to safeguard their clients and their business.

    Here are some of the recommended safety measures.

    Have security and data theft plans
    The IRS and Security Summit partners remind tax professionals that federal law requires them to have a written information security plan. In addition to the required information security plan, tax pros also should consider an emergency response plan should they experience a breach and data theft. This time-saving step should include contact information for the IRS Stakeholder Liaisons, who are the first point of contact for data theft reporting to the IRS and to the states.

    Use multi-factor authentication to protect tax accounts
    Practitioners can download to their mobile phones readily available authentication apps offered through Google Play or the Apple Store. These apps will generate a security code. Codes may also go to a preparer's email or text, but the IRS notes those are not as secure as the authentication apps. Tax professionals can search for "authentication apps" in a search engine to learn more. For more information on multi-factor authentication, taxpayers should visit the
    Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency website

    Use virtual private networks to protect remote sites
    A VPN provides a secure, encrypted way to transmit data between a remote user via the internet and the company network. As teleworking or working from home continues, VPNs are critical to protecting and securing internet connections.

    Failure to use a VPN for remote communication can allow an attacker to eavesdrop on network communications. 

    Tax professionals should consult cybersecurity experts whenever possible. Practitioners can also search for "best VPNs" to find a legitimate vendor, or major technology sites often provide lists of top services. They should never click on a "pop-up" advertisement for a security product. Those generally are scams.

    Avoid phishing scams and attempts to steal EFINs
    Phishing emails generally have an urgent message, such as "account password expired." They direct users to an official-looking link or attachment. However, the link may take users to a fake site made to appear like a trusted source, where it requests a username and password. The attachment may contain malware, which secretly downloads software that tracks keystrokes and allows thieves to eventually steal all the tax pro's passwords.

    Scam emails can target tax pros by seeking EFIN information. One scam example says it's from "IRS Tax E-Filing" and has the subject line "Verifying EFIN before e-filing."

    Tax pros should not take any of the steps outlined in these types of email, especially responding to the email.

    Those who receive a scam email should save it as a file and then send it as an attachment to phishing@irs.gov. They also should notify the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the IRS impersonation scam. Both TIGTA and the IRS Criminal Investigation division are aware of spear phishing scams targeting tax preparers.


  • 21 Nov 2022 12:03 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service, along with state tax agencies and the nation's tax industry, today announced a special week focusing attention on empowering taxpayers to protect sensitive financial information against identity thieves as the holidays and the 2023 tax season get closer.
     
    Now in its seventh year, the annual National Tax Security Awareness Week takes place from Nov. 28-Dec. 2. The event is part of a larger effort that continues by the Security Summit, the coalition of the IRS, the states and the nation’s tax software and tax professional community. The group formed in 2015 to combat tax-related identity theft by strengthening protections against fraud and raising security awareness.
     
    With the holidays and tax season approaching, the Summit partners warned taxpayers and tax professionals to take extra steps to protect their financial and tax information. People face a heightened risk in coming months as fraudsters take advantage of the holiday season to trick people into sharing sensitive personal information by email, text message and online. Identity thieves use that information to try to file tax returns and steal refunds.
     
    To help combat this, the Summit partner’s National Tax Security Awareness Week will feature a week-long series of educational materials to help protect individuals, businesses and tax professionals from identity theft. The effort will include a Nov. 29 webinar titled Deeper Dive Into Emerging Cyber Crimes and Crypto Tax Compliance, special informational graphics and a social media effort on Twitter and Instagram through @IRSnews and #TaxSecurity.

    “Taxpayers and tax professionals need to remain vigilant for increasingly sophisticated scams that look to steal sensitive financial information,” said IRS Acting Commissioner Doug O’Donnell. “The Security Summit effort focuses on highlighting simple steps that small businesses and people in all walks of life can take to protect their information, helping them avoid problems at tax time.”
     
    The IRS and Summit partners continue to see constantly evolving threats and scams. They mimic IRS and others in the tax community through fake emails, texts and online scams. These schemes frequently use recent tragedies or charitable groups to coax people into sharing sensitive financial data.
     
    “The heightened risk to taxpayers poses a real threat. The criminals continue to evolve and are always looking for opportunities to fraudulently obtain this information,” said Neena Savage, President of the Board of Trustees for the Federation of Tax Administrators and Tax Administrator for Rhode Island. “We urge everyone to take the steps necessary to protect their sensitive information, which simultaneously helps strengthen the joint work conducted by the states, the IRS and the tax industry through the Security Summit partnership.”
     
    As Security Summit partners increased their joint defenses against identity theft in recent years, including through the Identity Theft Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC), fraudsters have increasingly looked for ways to obtain sensitive personal financial information to help slip past common defenses. That has made tax professionals – who hold valuable tax information for their clients – a tempting target for scam artists.
     
    “The innovative Summit partnership between the public and private sectors has created important protections against tax-related identity theft,’ said Julie Magee, Tax Regulatory Lead at Cash App Taxes and an original member of the Security Summit who currently serves as the group’s communications co-chair. “This collaborative effort continues to thwart identity thieves, helping protect taxpayers and tax professionals while also safeguarding the federal and state tax systems essential to running our nation.”
     
    With International Fraud Awareness Week underway through Nov. 19 this year, the Security Summit offers a preview of the upcoming National Tax Security Awareness Week that begins Nov. 28.
     
    National Tax Security Awareness Week 2022 highlights
     
    Cyber Monday: Protect personal and financial information online
    The IRS and the Security Summit partners remind people to take these basic steps when shopping online:

    • Use security software for computers and mobile phones – and keep it updated.
    • Make sure anti-virus software for computers has a feature to stop malware, and that there is a firewall enabled that can prevent intrusions.
    • Use strong and unique passwords for all accounts.
    • Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible.
    • Shop only secure websites; look for the "https" in web addresses and the padlock icon; avoid shopping on unsecured and public Wi-Fi in places like coffee shops, malls or restaurants. 

    Tax professionals should review their security protocols
    As identity thieves continue targeting tax professionals, the IRS and the Summit partners urge practitioners to review the “Taxes-Security-Together” Checklist, including:

    • Deploy basic security measures.
    • Use multi-factor authentication to protect tax software accounts.
    • Create a Virtual Private Network if working remotely.
    • Create a written data security plan as required by federal law.
    • Know about phishing and phone scams.
    • Create data security and data theft recovery plans. 

    Get an Identity Protection PIN
    Taxpayers who can verify their identities online may opt into the IRS IP PIN program – a tool taxpayers can use to protect themselves – and their tax refund. Here’s what taxpayers need to know:

    • The Identity Protection PIN or IP PIN is a six-digit code known only to the individual and the IRS. It provides another layer of protection for taxpayers’ Social Security numbers on tax returns.
    • Use the Get an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) tool at IRS.gov/IPPIN to immediately get an IP PIN.
    • Never share the IP PIN with anyone but a trusted tax provider.

    Businesses should watch out for tax-related scams and implement safeguards
    Most cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Some details from this segment include:

    • Learn about best security practices for small businesses.
    • IRS continues protective masking of sensitive information on business transcripts.
    • A Business Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039-B, is available for businesses to report theft to the IRS.
    • Beware of various scams, especially the W-2 scam that attempts to steal employee income information.
    • Check out the “Business” section on IRS’s Identity Theft Central at IRS.gov/identify theft.  

    Earlier this year, the Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself campaign encouraged tax professionals to focus on fundamentals and to watch out for emerging vulnerabilities for those practitioners using cloud-based services for their practice.
     
    Additional resources
    In addition to reviewing IRS Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, tax professionals can also get help with security recommendations by reviewing Small Business Information Security: The Fundamentals by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The IRS Identity Theft Central pages for tax pros, individuals and businesses have important details as well.
     
    The IRS and Security Summit partners also share YouTube videos on security steps for taxpayers. The videos can be viewed or downloaded at Easy Steps to Protect Your Computer and Phone and Security Measures Help Protect Against Tax-Related Identity Theft.
     
    Employers can share Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers, with their employees and customers and tax professionals can share with clients.


  • 21 Nov 2022 11:51 AM | Anonymous

    A second attorney and two tax professionals have been indicted in the $1 billion Garza tax shelter scheme. Attorney and CPA Kevin McDonnell and CPA James Richardson, co-owners of tax preparation and accounting firm McDonnell Richardson, P.C., were added to the case in a superseding indictment recently filed. The pair are charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and five counts of assisting in the preparations of fraudulent tax returns. Craig Fenton, a tax manager at McDonnell Richardson, was indicted on the same charges. The alleged mastermind of the scheme, attorney Joseph Garza, was previously indicted on 18 counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and 22 counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of fraudulent income tax returns. The superseding indictment added a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States.

  • 15 Nov 2022 11:25 AM | Anonymous

    Giving Tuesday is coming; now is a good time to review tax benefits for charitable giving

    The Tuesday after Thanksgiving marks Giving Tuesday when many people choose to make charitable donations. People making charitable donations for Giving Tuesday, or at any time during the year, should review whether their gift is tax-deductible.

    Donations to charities may be deductible
    Most contributions of cash or property made to a charitable organization are deductible as an itemized deduction on Schedule A, Form 1040, Itemized Deductions. Cash contributions include those made by check, credit card or debit card, as well as unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses in connection with volunteer services to a qualifying charitable organization. Donations of property other than cash are generally deductible at their fair market value.

    There are some contributions that aren’t tax deductible, including donations:

    • Made to a supporting organization
    • Intended to help establish or maintain a donor advised fund
    • Carried forward from prior years
    • Made to most private foundations
    • Made to charitable remainder trusts
    • Of time spent volunteering

    Some things to do when a taxpayer is considering making charitable gifts include:

    • Use the Interactive Tax Assistant to help determine if a charitable contribution is deductible.
    • Get a written acknowledgement for any charitable contributions of $250 or more.
    • Research charities they are considering donating to carefully.

    Tax Exempt Organization Search tool
    As people are deciding where to make their donations, the IRS has a tool that may help. Tax Exempt Organization Search on IRS.gov is a tool that allows users to search for charities. TEOS provides information about an organization's federal tax status and filings.

    Things to know about the TEOS tool:

    • Donors can use it to confirm an organization is tax-exempt and eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.
    • Users can find out if an organization had its tax-exempt status revoked.
    • TEOS does not list certain organizations that may be eligible to receive tax-deductible donations, including churches, organizations in a group ruling and governmental entities.
    • TEOS lists organizations under the legal name or a "doing business as" name on file with the IRS. No separate listing of common or popular names is searchable.

    Qualified charitable distributions
    Taxpayers age 70 ½ or older can make a qualified charitable distribution directly from their IRA, other than a SEP or SIMPLE IRA, to a qualified charitable organization. The maximum annual amount a taxpayer may exclude from income for a QCD is $100,000. A QCD may also count toward the taxpayer’s required minimum distribution for the year. Taxpayers should review Publication 590-B, Distributions from Individual Retirement Arrangements, for more information.


  • 09 Nov 2022 2:35 PM | Anonymous

    As the nation prepares to celebrate Veteran’s Day, the IRS reminds members of the military, veterans and their families that the agency offers a variety tax resources specifically for them. These resources and information are designed to help members of the military community navigate their unique and sometimes complex tax situations. Reviewing these resources is a good way to prepare for the upcoming tax filing season.

    Here's a list of some of these resources.

    • Tax Information for Members of the Military is the main page on IRS.gov where people can go to find links to helpful info, resources and services.  
    • A taxpayer's military status affects whether they are eligible for certain benefits. Taxpayers can check their eligibility for military tax benefits by visiting IRS.gov. Qualifying employers include the Armed Forces, uniformed services and support organizations.  
    • There are rules specific to those who serve in combat zones. These taxpayers and their families can find out more on the Tax Exclusion for Combat Service page of IRS.gov. They should also review special rules for the earned income tax credit. If these apply to their tax situation, it could lead to a larger refund.  
    • The Armed Forces' Tax Guide is a comprehensive IRS publication for military members. This includes:  
      • Special rules for military personnel serving abroad, including deadline extensions
      • Unreimbursed moving expenses
      • Reserve component travel expenses  
    • Members of the military and qualifying veterans can prepare and e-file their taxes for free through MilTax. Taxpayers who do not qualify for MilTax have other options to prepare and e-file their federal taxes for free.  
    • Most military installations offer free income tax assistance through the military Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Military service members can contact their installation's legal office for details. Veterans may also qualify for free tax help at locations nationwide if they meet income or age requirements. 


  • 09 Nov 2022 1:08 PM | Anonymous

    It is now preparer tax identification number (PTIN) renewal season for 2023.

    All PTINs expire on Dec. 31 and must be renewed annually. You must have a valid PTIN if you plan to prepare any federal tax returns for compensation or you are an enrolled agent.

    The renewal fee is $30.75 and non-refundable. Get started at www.irs.gov/ptin.

    If you can't remember your User ID or password, use the "Forgot User ID" or "Forgot Password" links on the PTIN system login page. You will be asked to enter the email address associated with your account and the answer to your secret question.


  • 08 Nov 2022 5:21 PM | Anonymous

    Rev. Proc. 2022-40 modifies Rev. Proc. 2016-37, 2016-29 IRB 136, which, in part, provides the circumstances under which a plan sponsor may submit a determination letter application to the Internal Revenue Service with respect to a qualified individually designed plan, to permit the submission of determination letter applications for section 403(b) individually designed plans. Among other things, this revenue procedure also modifies the circumstances under which a plan is considered to have been issued an initial plan determination and modifies the scope of review of qualified individually designed plans submitted under the determination letter program. 

  • 08 Nov 2022 5:14 PM | Anonymous

    In most cases, distributions from a traditional Individual Retirement Account are taxable in the year the account owner receives them but there are some exceptions. A qualified charitable distribution is one of the few exceptions.

    A QCD is a nontaxable distribution made directly by the trustee of an IRA to organizations that are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. QCDs can’t occur from Simplified Employee Pension plans and Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees IRA.

    Making a QCD can benefit the taxpayer by reducing their taxable income while they support qualifying charitable organizations of their choice. The taxpayer doesn’t have to worry about meeting the standard deduction or itemizing deductions with a QCD.

    Financial institutions report QCDs on Form 1099-R for the calendar year the distribution occurs. There’s no number or letter code on the Form 1099-R that indicates the distribution was a QCD.

    QCD Guidelines

    Reporting a QCD on an income tax return

    • Report a QCD on Form 1040; report the full amount of the charitable distribution on the line for IRA distributions.
    • On the line for the taxable amount, enter zero if the full amount was a QCD and enter "QCD" next to this line.
    • See the Form 1040 instructions for additional information.

    Taxpayers must also file Form 8606 if the QCD came from:

    • a traditional IRA and they received a distribution from the IRA during the same year, other than the QCD; or
    • a Roth IRA. 


    More information
    :
    Retirement Plans
    IRA FAQs - Distributions Withdrawals
    Charitable Contribution Deductions


  • 29 Sep 2022 12:45 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers of a recent increase in IRS-themed texting scams aimed at stealing personal and financial information.

    So far in 2022, the IRS has identified and reported thousands of fraudulent domains tied to multiple MMS/SMS/text scams (known as smishing) targeting taxpayers. In recent months, and especially in the last few weeks, IRS-themed smishing has increased exponentially.

    Smishing campaigns target mobile phone users, and the scam messages often look like they’re coming from the IRS, offering lures like fake COVID relief, tax credits or help setting up an IRS online account. Recipients of these IRS-related scams can report them to phishing@irs.gov.

    “This is phishing on an industrial scale so thousands of people can be at risk of receiving these scam messages,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “In recent months, the IRS has reported multiple large-scale smishing campaigns that have delivered thousands – and even hundreds of thousands – of IRS-themed messages in hours or a few days, far exceeding previous levels of activity.”

    With the approach of October’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the IRS and the Security Summit partners in the states and the nation’s tax community remind people and the tax professional community to be on the lookout for phishing scams and other schemes that could put sensitive tax data at risk.

    In the latest activity, the scam texts often ask taxpayers to click a link where phishing websites will try to collect their information or potentially send malicious code onto their phones. The IRS does not send emails or text messages asking for personal or financial information or account numbers. These messages should all be red flags for taxpayers.

    Beginning in the fall of 2020, the IRS observed an increase in reports of smishing scams requesting taxpayer personal and financial information. These smishing campaigns continued through the pandemic. The IRS has taken numerous steps to warn people of this ongoing threat, including posting a video about how to avoid IRS text message scams.

    Taxpayers should continue reporting these scams to phishing@irs.gov. Their reporting allows the IRS to report these scams to the appropriate service providers for action, protecting other taxpayers who might receive a variant of the same scam.

    While the IRS works to shut down online fraud, criminals are using ever-evolving tactics to cast a wider net and catch more victims, like using algorithms to automatically generate hundreds or even thousands of fraudulent domains. For example, a recent campaign used just three dozen stolen or bogus email addresses to create over 1,000 fraudulent domains.

    “Particularly in these cases, the best offense is a good defense,” said Rettig. “Taxpayers and tax pros need to remain constantly vigilant with suspicious IRS-related emails and text messages. And if you get one, sending the IRS important details from the text can help us disrupt the scams and protect others.”

    Reporting IRS-related smishing
    The IRS maintains an inbox, phishing@irs.gov, to process IRS, Treasury and/or tax-related online scams only. Smishing involving other agencies and/or brands should not be reported to phishing@irs.gov.

    Reporting IRS-themed texts to the IRS allows security professionals to track and disrupt these scams. Individuals reporting scam texts to the IRS should include both the body of the message and the sender’s information in one email or text. Copying the actual text into an email is preferred. However, if necessary, screenshots can be sent. Scam SMS/text messages can also be copied and forwarded to wireless providers via text to 7726 (SPAM), which helps them spot and block similar messages in the future.

    The following process will help capture important details for reporting smishing to the IRS:

    • Create a new email to phishing@irs.gov.
    • Copy the caller ID number (or email address).
    • Paste the number (or email address) into the email.
    • Press and hold the SMS/text message and select “copy”.
    • Paste the message into the email.
    • If possible, include the exact date, time, time zone and telephone number that received the message.
    • Send the email to phishing@irs.gov.

    Additional reporting
    In addition to reporting the scam to phishing@irs.gov, if IRS-related, report the message to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration using their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting form and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) through their Complaint Assistant to make the information available to investigators.

    All incidents, successful and attempted, should also be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

    Any individual entering personal information, or otherwise finding themselves a victim of tax-related scams, can find additional resources at Identity Theft Central on IRS.gov.

    Additional resources

    Federal Trade Commission: How to recognize and report spam text messages


  • 29 Sep 2022 12:44 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON − The Internal Revenue Service is reminding farmers and ranchers in applicable regions forced to sell livestock because of drought conditions that they may have more time to replace their livestock and defer tax on any gains from the forced sales.

    Today, the IRS posted Notice 2022-43 listing the applicable regions, a county or other jurisdiction, designated as eligible for federal assistance on IRS.gov. This includes 44 states, two U.S. Territories and two independent nations in a Compact of Free Association with the United States. The relief generally applies to capital gains realized by eligible farmers and ranchers on sales of livestock held for draft, dairy or breeding purposes. Sales of other livestock, such as those raised for slaughter or held for sporting purposes, or poultry, are not eligible.

    The sales must be solely due to drought, causing an area to be designated as eligible for federal assistance. Livestock generally must be replaced within a four-year period, instead of the usual two-year period. The IRS is authorized to further extend this replacement period if the drought continues.

    The one-year extension, announced in the notice, gives eligible farmers and ranchers until the end of their first tax year after the first drought-free year to replace the sold livestock. Details, including an example of how this provision works, can be found in Notice 2006-82, available on IRS.gov.

    The IRS provides this extension to eligible farmers and ranchers that qualified for the four-year replacement period, if the applicable region is listed as suffering exceptional, extreme or severe drought conditions during any week between Sept. 1, 2021, and Aug. 31, 2022. This determination is made by the National Drought Mitigation Center.

    As a result, eligible farmers and ranchers whose drought-sale replacement period was scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2022, in most cases now have until the end of their next tax year to replace the sold livestock. Because the normal drought-sale replacement period is four years, this extension impacts drought sales that occurred during 2018. The replacement periods for some drought sales before 2018 are also affected due to previous drought-related extensions affecting some of these localities.

    More information on reporting drought sales and other farm-related tax issues can be found in Publication 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide, available on IRS.gov.


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