IRS WARNS TAX PROFESSIONALS OF NEW E-SERVICES EMAIL SCAM

NSTPIdentity Theft, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Online Scams

IR-2016-145, Nov. 4, 2016 WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today issued an urgent alert to tax professionals who use IRS e-services to beware of an email asking them to update their accounts and directing them to a fake website. The subject line for the fraudulent email is “Security Awareness for Tax Professionals.” The “From” line is “Your e-Services Team.” It has both an IRS logo and an e-services logo that hyperlinks to a URL verified as a phishing site. The spoofing site poses as an e-services registration page. The scammers are attempting to exploit current IRS efforts to strengthen the e-services authentication process and its ongoing communications with tax professionals about their accounts. Scammers are attempting to steal e-services usernames and passwords or additional personal data through a registration page. If e-services users have already clicked on the fake logo and provided their username and password, they should contact the e-services help desk to reset their accounts. If the same password is used for other accounts, these should be changed as well. As an extra precaution, users should perform a deep security scan on their computers, re-evaluate their security controls and be alert to any other signs of identity … Read More

IN 2017, SOME TAX BENEFITS INCREASE SLIGHTLY DUE TO INFLATION ADJUSTMENTS, OTHERS ARE UNCHANGED

NSTPFederal Tax Update & Review Course

The Internal Revenue Service has announced the tax year 2017 annual inflation adjustments for more than 50 tax provisions, including the tax rate schedules, and other tax changes. Revenue Procedure 2016-55 provides details about these annual adjustments. The tax year 2017 adjustments generally are used on tax returns filed in 2018.   The tax items for tax year 2017 of greatest interest to most taxpayers include the following dollar amounts:. The standard deduction for married filing jointly rises to $12,700 for tax year 2017, up $100 from the prior year. For single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately, the standard deduction rises to $6,350 in 2017, up from $6,300 in 2016, and for heads of households, the standard deduction will be $9,350 for tax year 2017, up from $9,300 for tax year 2016. The personal exemption for tax year 2017 remains as it was for 2016: $4,050. However, the exemption is subject to a phase-out that begins with adjusted gross incomes of $261,500 ($313,800 for married couples filing jointly). It phases out completely at $384,000 ($436,300 for married couples filing jointly.) For tax year 2017, the 39.6 percent tax rate affects single taxpayers whose income exceeds $418,400 ($470,700 for married … Read More

e-SERVICES STAKEHOLDER MEETING

NSTPe-Services

The IRS had recently announced that steps are being taken to strengthen the protections for the e-Services suite of tools used by tax professionals. The e-Services program allows tax professionals, states and others access to sensitive data in order to complete a return, resolve a tax issue, verify income for a mortgage and file electronically, among other activities. The planned Secure Access authentication process is a two-factor or two-step authentication process, meaning returning users must enter not only their username and password but also a security code sent to a text-enabled mobile phone. The purpose of Secure Access authentication is to help prevent automated attacks on IRS.gov applications by cybercriminals and to help prevent account takeovers. After making this announcement and planning for an October 24 launch date, the IRS heard from many stakeholders that there were concerns about the Secure Access authentication process and its potential effect on doing business. Based on the concerns raised about the new authentication system, the IRS subsequently announced a delay on deploying Secure Access to e-Services. As a result, the NSTP was invited to represent the tax professional community and to share our thoughts and ideas about the impact of Secure Access upon … Read More

IRS REGULATIONS MODIFY ELECTION TO CLAIM PRIOR-YEAR DISASTER LOSSES

NSTPInternal Revenue Service (IRS), Natural Diaster

The IRS has issued final and temporary regulations extending the due date for the election to deduct in the prior tax year a loss attributable to a federally-declared disaster, and for revoking such an election, as well as a revenue procedure explaining how to make or revoke the election. Casualty losses are generally allowed as a deduction only for the tax year in which the loss is sustained (disaster year). However, a taxpayer may elect to treat a loss occurring in a federally-declared disaster area as sustained in the tax year immediately prior to the disaster year. Taxpayers make the election on the original return, amended return, or refund claim that must be filed on or before the later of: (1) the due date (without extension) of the tax return for the disaster year; or (2) the due date (without extension) of the tax return for the preceding year. The final and temporary regulations issued on October 13 generally provide that the due date for electing to deduct in the prior tax year a loss attributable to a federally-declared disaster is six months after the due date (without extension) for filing the taxpayer’s federal income tax return for the disaster … Read More

OFFSHORE VOLUNTARY COMPLIANCE EFFORTS TOP $10 BILLION; MORE THAN 100,000 TAXPAYERS COME BACK INTO COMPLIANCE

NSTPInternal Revenue Service (IRS), Offshore Accounts

As international compliance efforts pass several new milestones, the Internal Revenue Service reminds U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed offshore accounts that they should use existing paths to come into full compliance with their federal tax obligations. Updated data shows 55,800 taxpayers have come into the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) to resolve their tax obligations, paying more than $9.9 billion in taxes, interest and penalties since 2009. In addition, another 48,000 taxpayers have made use of separate streamlined procedures to correct prior non-willful omissions and meet their federal tax obligations, paying approximately $450 million in taxes, interest and penalties. “The IRS has passed several major milestones in our offshore efforts, collecting a combined $10 billion with 100,000 taxpayers coming back into compliance,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “As we continue to receive more information on foreign accounts, people’s ability to avoid detection becomes harder and harder. The IRS continues to urge those people with international tax issues to come forward to meet their tax obligations. Under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the network of inter-governmental agreements (IGAs) between the U.S. and partner jurisdictions, automatic third-party account reporting has entered its second year. More information also continues to come … Read More

RETIREMENT PLANS CAN MAKE LOANS, HARDSHIP DISTRIBUTIONS TO VICTIMS OF HURRICANE MATTHEW

NSTPHurricane Matthew, Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

The Internal Revenue Service has announced that 401(k)’s and similar employer-sponsored retirement plans can make loans and hardship distributions to victims of Hurricane Matthew and members of their families. This is similar to relief provided this summer to Louisiana flood victims. Participants in 401(k) plans, employees of public schools and tax-exempt organizations with 403(b) tax-sheltered annuities, as well as state and local government employees with 457(b) deferred-compensation plans may be eligible to take advantage of these streamlined loan procedures and liberalized hardship distribution rules. Though IRA participants are barred from taking out loans, they may be eligible to receive distributions under liberalized procedures. The IRS is also relaxing procedural and administrative rules that normally apply to retirement plan loans and hardship distributions. As a result, eligible retirement plan participants will be able to access their money more quickly with a minimum of red tape. In addition, the six-month ban on 401(k) and 403(b) contributions that normally affects employees who take hardship distributions will not apply. This broad-based relief means that a retirement plan can allow a victim of Hurricane Matthew to take a hardship distribution or borrow up to the specified statutory limits from the victim’s retirement plan. It also … Read More