Showing posts with label IRS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IRS. Show all posts

Friday, April 15, 2022

Try IRS.gov first for last-minute tax help and tips

Today's Internal Revenue Service website provides millions with the tax solutions they need 24 hours a day and eliminates unnecessary calls or trips to an IRS office. On IRS.gov, waiting in line is never a problem and there's no appointment needed.

The many online tools and resources range from tax preparation and refund tracking to tax law research tools like the Interactive Tax Assistant and answers for Frequently Asked Questions on dozens of subjects.

File taxes, view accounts, make payments – all online!

Taxpayers can use the "File" tab on the IRS.gov home page for most federal income tax needs. The IRS Free File program offers 70% of all taxpayers the choice of several brand-name tax preparation software packages to use at no cost. Those who earned less than $73,000 in 2021 can choose which package is best for them. Some even offer free state tax return preparation.

To see their tax account, taxpayers can use the View Your Account tool. They'll find information such as a payoff amount, the balance for each tax year owed, up to 24 months of their payment history and key information from their current tax year return as originally filed.

Taxpayers can find the most up-to-date information about tax refunds using the "Where's My Refund?" tool on IRS.gov and on the official IRS mobile app, IRS2Go. Within 24 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of an e-filed return taxpayers can start checking on the status of their refund.

Those who owe can use IRS Direct Pay to pay taxes for the Form 1040 series, estimated taxes or other associated forms directly from a checking or savings account at no cost.

Taxpayers can also use the Get Transcript tool to view, print or download their tax transcripts after the IRS processes their return or payment.

File complete and accurate returns to avoid processing delays

To avoid situations that can slow a refund, taxpayers should be careful to file a complete and accurate tax return. If a return includes errors or is incomplete, it may require further review.

Taxpayers should be sure to have all their year-end statements in hand before filing a return. This includes Forms W-2 from employers, Form 1099-G from state unemployment offices, Forms 1099 from banks and other payers, and Form 1095-A from the Health Insurance Marketplace for those claiming the Premium Tax Credit.

Individuals should refer to Letter 6419 for advance Child Tax Credit payments and Letter 6475 for third Economic Impact Payment amounts they received– or their Online Account – to prepare a correct tax return. Claiming incorrect tax credit amounts can not only delay IRS processing, but can also lead to adjusted refund amounts.

Assistive technology options

At the online Alternative Media Center (AMC), taxpayers will find a variety of accessible products like screen reading software, refreshable Braille displays and screen magnifying software. These products include tax forms, instructions and publications that can be downloaded or viewed online as Section 508 compliant PDF, HTML, eBraille, text and large print. Please note that every product is not available in all formats. For example, tax forms are not available as HTML documents.

Prevent fraud with an Identity Protection PIN

An Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) is a six-digit number that prevents someone from filing a tax return using another taxpayer's Social Security number. The IP PIN is known only to the real taxpayer and the IRS and helps the IRS verify the taxpayer's identity when they file their electronic or paper tax return.

Starting in 2021, any taxpayer who can verify their identity can voluntarily opt into the IP PIN program. See Get an IP PIN for details and to access the online tool. There are options for those who cannot verify their identities online.

Find free, local tax preparation

The IRS's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has operated for over 50 years. It offers free basic tax return preparation to qualified individuals:

  • People who generally make $58,000 or less,
  • People with disabilities and
  • Limited English-speaking taxpayers.

The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program also offers free tax help for taxpayers, particularly those age 60 and older.

The VITA/TCE Site Locator can help eligible taxpayers find the nearest community-based site staffed by IRS-trained and certified volunteers. Demand is high for this service so taxpayers may experience longer wait times for appointments. Taxpayers can use the locator tool to find an available site near them. It's updated throughout the tax season, so individuals should check back if they don't see a nearby site listed.

And MilTax, Military OneSource's tax service, offers online software for eligible military members, veterans and their families to electronically file a federal return and up to three state returns for free.

Adjust withholding now to avoid tax surprises next year

Now is a perfect time for taxpayers to check their withholding and avoid a tax surprise next filing season. Life events like marriage, divorce, having a child or a change in income can all impact taxes.

The Withholding Estimator on IRS.gov helps employees assess their income tax, credits, adjustments and deductions, and determine whether they need to change their withholding by submitting a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. Taxpayers should remember that, if needed, they should submit their new W-4 to their employer, not the IRS.

Phone assistance and in-person appointments during COVID-19

The IRS works hard to provide quality service to taxpayers while actively responding to the impacts of the pandemic and focusing on the safety and health of taxpayers and employees.

The IRS encourages people to use existing electronic tools available on IRS.gov as much as possible before calling and continues its efforts to develop more resources to help meet taxpayer needs.

For example, voice bots helped people calling the Economic Impact Payment (EIP) toll-free line, providing general procedural responses to frequently asked questions. As of April 9, 2022, nearly 2.5 million taxpayers had their questions answered through electronic assistance. The IRS also added voice bots for the Advanced Child Tax Credit (AdvCTC) toll-free line this year to provide similar assistance to callers who need help reconciling the credits on their 2021 tax return. As of April 9, 2022, almost 200,000 taxpayers' queries were answered through these bots.

The IRS also continues to provide face-to-face tax assistance at Taxpayer Assistance Centers by appointment when necessary and at walk-in Saturday events. The IRS follows Centers for Disease Control social distancing guidelines for COVID-19 at all office appointments. 

Try IRS.gov first for last-minute tax help and tips
Try IRS.gov first for last-minute tax help and tips

Thursday, April 7, 2022

“In the year 2022, this doesn’t just seem crazy. It is crazy."

"Here, at last, is the real reason your tax return is delayed: It’s not the pandemic. It’s that the IRS handles too much paper and has failed to adopt scanning technology that could have significantly reduced the current backlog of returns.

The way the agency processes paper is “archaic” and was a problem that was fixable long before the coronavirus shut things down, National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins wrote in her latest blog about the 2022 tax season.

Last year, the IRS received nearly 17 million paper 1040 forms, more than 4 million individual amended returns and millions of paper business returns, according to Collins.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around it: Employees transcribe all of those millions of paper tax returns manually."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/04/01/irs-backlog-scanning-technology/ 

Please consider filing your taxes online, it will help get them processed quicker than if you print the forms and mail them in.

Erin M. Collins, the national taxpayer advocate, in 2020. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)
Erin M. Collins, the national taxpayer advocate, in 2020. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

IRS launches resource page on IRS.gov with latest details and information for taxpayers during filing season

To help taxpayers and tax professionals, the Internal Revenue Service today announced a special new page on IRS.gov to provide the latest details and information affecting the 2022 filing season and ongoing efforts by the agency to address the inventory of previously filed tax returns.

During this tax season, taxpayers face a number of issues due to critical tax law changes that took place in 2021 and ongoing challenges related to the pandemic. To raise awareness about these issues and provide people with the latest timely information, the IRS has created a special tax season web page. This page will provide people with a quick overview of information to help people filing tax returns as well as those who have previous year tax returns awaiting processing by the IRS.

"The IRS is taking numerous steps to keep this tax season going smoothly while also taking additional action to address the inventory of tax returns filed last year," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "We're off to a good start processing tax returns and issuing refunds. But we want people to have an easy way to see the latest information. This new page provides a one-stop shop for the latest key information people and the tax community may need."

The "special tax season alerts" page will be available through the IRS.gov home page and shared through social media and other channels.

The page will include the latest filing season updates. The IRS began tax season on January 24, and in less than two weeks more than 4 million tax refunds have gone out worth nearly $10 billon. Millions more will go out in the weeks ahead as the IRS enters an important period of the tax season.

The page also includes links to important information related to ongoing efforts by the IRS to address the inventory of unprocessed tax returns filed before this year. This includes steps to stop more than a dozen common letters to taxpayers, and updates on IRS operations and the number of unprocessed tax returns.

"The combination of the pandemic, new tax laws and numerous other factors led to an unprecedented amount of unprocessed tax returns and correspondence remaining in the IRS inventory during 2021," Rettig said. "We must continue pursuing innovative strategies while supporting the hard work and dedication of our employees to fulfill our commitment to return inventories to a healthy level before entering the 2023 filing season. These steps are making a difference. Refunds for tax returns and amended tax returns in the inventory continue to flow out to taxpayers."

The IRS continues to urge taxpayers to carefully review their tax filings for accuracy and file electronically with direct deposit to speed refunds. Special tips are available in several places on IRS.gov, including these top 5 tips; basics on the 2022 tax season and IRS Tax Time Guide. 

Shared from the IRS page -> https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-launches-resource-page-on-irsgov-with-latest-details-and-information-for-taxpayers-during-filing-season

IRS launches resource page on IRS.gov
IRS launches resource page on IRS.gov

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Get ready for taxes: Bookmark IRS.gov resources and online tools to use before, during and after filing

The Internal Revenue Service today (1/14/22) encouraged taxpayers to use IRS online tools and resources to find the information they need to be ready to file their 2021 federal tax returns, including important special steps related to Economic Impact Payments and advance Child Tax Credit payments.

Individuals, especially those who don't usually file a tax return, are urged to file their 2021 tax return electronically beginning Jan. 24, 2022. Using tax preparation software or a trusted tax professional will help guide people through the process and avoid making errors. Filing an incomplete or inaccurate return may mean a processing delay that slows the resulting tax refund.

"There are some simple steps people can take to make sure they avoid delays and receive a quick refund," IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "It's critical this year to avoid a paper tax return whenever possible and file electronically with direct deposit. And it's more important than ever to make sure you're filing an accurate tax return. The IRS urges people to review some straightforward tips that can help them avoid problems and get their tax refunds quickly."

This is the third in a series of reminders to help taxpayers get ready for the upcoming tax filing season. A special page, updated and available on IRS.gov, outlines steps taxpayers can take now to make tax filing easier.

IRS.gov tools are easy to use and available 24 hours a day. Millions of people use them to find information about their accounts, get answers to tax questions or file and pay taxes.

Recovery Rebate Credit / Economic Impact Payments
Individuals who didn't qualify for a third Economic Impact Payment or got less than the full amount may be eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit. They will need to know the total amount of their third Economic Impact Payments received to calculate their correct 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit amount when they file their 2021 tax return. Ensuring they use the correct payment amounts will help them avoid a processing delay that may slow their refund. Beginning in late January, the IRS will send Letter 6475 with the total amount of the third Economic Impact Payment received. People can also view their economic impact payments using their Online Account.

Advance Child Tax Credit payments
People will need to know the total amount of advance payments they received in 2021 to compare them with the full amount of the Child Tax Credit that they can properly claim when they file their 2021 tax return. People who received the advance payments can access their online account to check the total amount of their payments. The IRS is also sending Letter 6419 to provide the total amount of advance Child Tax Credit payments received in 2021. Eligible families who did not get monthly advance payments in 2021 can still get a lump-sum payment by claiming the Child Tax Credit when they file a 2021 federal income tax return this year. This includes families who don't normally need to file a return.

Interactive Tax Assistant
The Interactive Tax Assistant answers general tax law questions, including helping to determine if a type of income is taxable or if someone is eligible to claim certain credits and deductions. With changes to income and other life events for many in 2021, tax credits and deductions can mean more money in a taxpayer's pocket. Thinking about eligibility now can help make tax filing easier.

Online Account
Taxpayers can use their Online Account to securely see important information when preparing to file their tax return or following up on balances or notices. Taxpayers can view the amount they owe, make and track payments and view payment plan details. Taxpayers can now also manage their communication preferences to go paperless for certain notices from the IRS, or to receive email notifications when the IRS sends them a new digital notice. They can also access information about Economic Impact Payments and advance Child Tax Credit payments needed to file a complete and accurate return. Act now to create an account.

Where's My Refund?
Taxpayers can check the status of their refund using the Where's My Refund? tool. The status is available within 24 hours after the IRS accepts their e-filed tax return or up to four weeks after they mailed a paper return. The Where's My Refund? tool updates once every 24 hours, usually overnight, so taxpayers only need to check once a day.

Get ready to use direct deposit for tax refunds
Direct deposit gives taxpayers access to their refund faster than a paper check. Individuals can use a bank account, prepaid debit card or mobile app to use direct deposit and will need to provide routing and account numbers. Learn how to open an account at an FDIC-Insured bank or through the National Credit Union Locator Tool. Veterans should see the Veterans Benefits Banking Program for access to financial services at participating banks.

IRS Free File
Everyone can file electronically for free. Starting January 14, the IRS Free File program, available only through IRS.gov or the IRS2Go app, offers brand-name tax preparation software packages. For those who earned $73,000 or less in 2021, they may qualify for Free File guided tax software. The software does all the work of finding deductions, credits and exemptions. Some of the Free File offers may include a free state tax return. Taxpayers comfortable filling out tax forms, can use Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic federal tax forms paper version to file their tax returns online, regardless of income.

Members of the military and qualifying veterans can use MilTax, a Department of Defense program that generally offers free online tax preparation and e-filing software for federal returns and up to three state returns.

Free Tax Return preparation site
The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free tax help and e-file for taxpayers who qualify.

Choosing a preparer
The IRS has several options for finding a tax preparer. The IRS provides an online database to help taxpayers locate an authorized e-file provider in their area who can electronically file their tax return. Choosing a Tax Professional provides information for selecting a tax professional. The Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications can help taxpayers find preparers in their area who currently hold professional credentials recognized by the IRS, or who hold an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion. Taxpayers need to remember that they, not the tax preparer, are responsible for information on their tax return once they sign it.

IRS.gov/getready
Links to online tools, publications, and other helpful resources are available on the IRS.gov/getready page. For more information about planning ahead, see Publication 5348, Get Ready to File and Publication 5349, Year-Round Tax Planning is for Everyone.

Get ready for taxes: Bookmark IRS.gov resources and online tools to use before, during and after filing
Get ready for taxes: Bookmark IRS.gov resources and online tools to use before, during and after filing

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Add this to the worry list: IRS "warns of ‘enormous challenges’ this tax-filing season"

"Treasury Department officials on Monday said that the Internal Revenue Service will face “enormous challenges” during this year’s tax filing season, warning of delays to refunds and other taxpayer services.

In a phone call with reporters, Treasury officials predicted a “frustrating season” for taxpayers and tax preparers as a result of delays caused by the pandemic, years of budget cuts to the IRS and the federal stimulus measures that have added to the tax agency’s workload.

Typically, IRS officials enter filing season with an unaddressed backlog of roughly 1 million returns. This year, however, the IRS will enter the filing season facing “several times” that, Treasury officials said, although they declined to give a more precise estimate. The IRS website says that as of Dec. 23, 2021, it still had 6 million unprocessed individual returns, and as of the start of this month it still had more than 2 million unprocessed amended tax returns, a separate category."
Continue reading the article online (subscription maybe required)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2022/01/10/treasury-irs-filing-season/

FYI - For 2020, I filed in February and didn't get a return status until July.  I had a very minor miscalculation in my return that held it up.  Only thing to do is file early, and file accurately.

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig appears before a House panel last year. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)
IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig appears before a House panel last year. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)



Wednesday, November 10, 2021

IRS: Get ready for taxes - Easy steps to take now to make tax filing easier in 2022

The Internal Revenue Service today (11/08/21) encouraged taxpayers, including those who received stimulus payments or advance Child Tax Credit payments, to take important steps this fall to help them file their federal tax returns in 2022.

Planning ahead can help people file an accurate return and avoid processing delays that can slow tax refunds.

This is the first in a series of reminders to help taxpayers get ready for the upcoming tax filing season. A special page, updated and available on IRS.gov, outlines steps taxpayers can take now to prepare to file a 2021 tax return next year.

Gather and organize tax records

Organized tax records make preparing a complete and accurate tax return easier. It helps avoid errors that lead to processing and refund delays. Individuals should have all their tax information available before filing to ensure the return is complete and accurate. They should notify the IRS if their address changes and notify the Social Security Administration of a legal name change.

Remember, most income is taxable. Recordkeeping for individuals includes:

Income documents can help individuals determine if they're eligible for deductions or credits. Additionally, people who need to reconcile their advance payments of the Child Tax Credit and Premium Tax Credit will need their related 2021 information. Those who received third Economic Impact Payments and think they qualify for an additional amount will need their stimulus payment and plus-up amounts to figure and claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit.



IRS: Get ready for taxes - Easy steps to take now to make tax filing easier in 2022
IRS: Get ready for taxes - Easy steps to take now to make tax filing easier in 2022


Friday, November 5, 2021

From the IRS: "Year-end giving reminder"

The Internal Revenue Service today (11/03/21) reminded taxpayers that a special tax provision will allow more Americans to easily deduct up to $600 in donations to qualifying charities on their 2021 federal income tax return.

Ordinarily, people who choose to take the standard deduction cannot claim a deduction for their charitable contributions. But a temporary law change now permits them to claim a limited deduction on their 2021 federal income tax returns for cash contributions made to qualifying charitable organizations. Nearly nine in 10 taxpayers now take the standard deduction and could potentially qualify.

Under this provision, individual tax filers, including married individuals filing separate returns, can claim a deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions made to qualifying charities during 2021. The maximum deduction is increased to $600 for married individuals filing joint returns.

Included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted in March 2020, a more limited version of this temporary tax benefit originally only applied to tax-year 2020. The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, enacted last December, generally extended it through the end of 2021.

Cash contributions include those made by check, credit card or debit card as well as amounts incurred by an individual for unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses in connection with their volunteer services to a qualifying charitable organization. Cash contributions don't include the value of volunteer services, securities, household items or other property.

The IRS reminds taxpayers to make sure they're donating to a recognized charity. To receive a deduction, taxpayers must donate to a qualified charity. To check the status of a charity, they can use the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search tool (https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-search).

Cash contributions to most charitable organizations qualify. But contributions made either to supporting organizations or to establish or maintain a donor advised fund do not. Contributions carried forward from prior years do not qualify, nor do contributions to most private foundations and most cash contributions to charitable remainder trusts.

In general, a donor-advised fund is a fund or account maintained by a charity in which a donor can, because of being a donor, advise the fund on how to distribute or invest amounts contributed by the donor and held in the fund. A supporting organization is a charity that carries out its exempt purposes by supporting other exempt organizations, usually other public charities.

Keep good records

Special recordkeeping rules apply to any taxpayer claiming a charitable contribution deduction. Usually, this includes obtaining an acknowledgment letter from the charity before filing a return and retaining a cancelled check or credit card receipt for contributions of cash.

For details on the recordkeeping rules for substantiating gifts to charity, see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions (https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-publication-526), available on IRS.gov.

Remind families about the Child Tax Credit

Besides the special charitable contribution deduction, the IRS also encourages employers to help get the word out about the advance payments of the Child Tax Credit because they have direct access to many employees and individuals who receive this credit. In particular, remind low-income workers, especially those who don't normally file returns, that the deadline for signing up for these payments is now November 15, 2021. More information on the advance Child Tax Credit is available on IRS.gov.

For more information about other coronavirus-related tax relief, visit IRS.gov/coronavirus.

From the IRS: "Year-end giving reminder"
From the IRS: "Year-end giving reminder"


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

New IRS imposter scam targets college students and staff

Consumer Alerts from the Federal Trade Commission


by Ari Lazarus, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

If you're a college student, faculty, or staff member, you're going to want to pay attention to this one. IRS imposters are sending phishing emails to people with ".edu" email addresses, saying they have information about your "tax refund payment." What do they really want? Your personal information.

Shared from  https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2021/04/new-irs-imposter-scam-targets-college-students-and-staff?utm_source=govdelivery

New IRS imposter scam targets college students and staff
New IRS imposter scam targets college students and staff

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Federal "Tax Day for individuals extended to May 17"

"The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced today that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year will be automatically extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021. The IRS will be providing formal guidance in the coming days.

"This continues to be a tough time for many people, and the IRS wants to continue to do everything possible to help taxpayers navigate the unusual circumstances related to the pandemic, while also working on important tax administration responsibilities," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Even with the new deadline, we urge taxpayers to consider filing as soon as possible, especially those who are owed refunds. Filing electronically with direct deposit is the quickest way to get refunds, and it can help some taxpayers more quickly receive any remaining stimulus payments they may be entitled to."

Individual taxpayers can also postpone federal income tax payments for the 2020 tax year due on April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This postponement applies to individual taxpayers, including individuals who pay self-employment tax. Penalties, interest and additions to tax will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of May 17, 2021. Individual taxpayers will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the taxes paid by May 17."

Additional info from the IRS on the delay and what it means can be found at the IRS page
 
IRS expands help to taxpayers in multiple languages with new forms, communication preferences 

Quick note that the tax extension applies only to Federal taxes. MA has not yet indicated they would go along with the delay.

 

National News: no mail fraud in PA found; check on your IRS stimulus payment; intelligence report highlights terrorists threats

"Postal Service finds no evidence of mail ballot fraud in Pa. case cited by top Republicans"

"U.S. Postal Service investigators found no evidence to support a Pennsylvania postal worker’s claim that his supervisors had tampered with mail-in ballots, according to an inspector general’s report — allegations cited by top Republicans to press baseless claims of fraud in the presidential election."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
 
 "The IRS has sent out 90 million stimulus payments."
"The Internal Revenue Service told financial institutions to expect roughly 90 million direct deposits amounting to $242.2 billion on March 17 in the initial distribution of the American Rescue Plan stimulus payments, according to a banking industry group.

Following the deposits, the IRS mailed an additional 150,000 checks amounting to $442 million, with a pay date of March 19, according to the Independent Community Bankers of America, based on a briefing from the IRS.

“Additional batches of payments will be sent in the coming weeks with the vast majority sent by direct deposit,” the group said in an online update to banking members. “Payments will also be sent through the mail as a check or debit card.” 
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

"Racist extremists pose most deadly terrorist threat to US, intelligence report warns"
"Racially motivated extremists pose the most lethal domestic terrorism threats to the US, according to an unclassified intelligence report that warned that the threats could grow this year.

The blunt assessment, in a report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, echoes warnings made by US officials, including the FBI director, Christopher Wray, who testified earlier this month that the threat from domestic violent extremism was “metastasizing” across the country."
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

IRS: All taxpayers now eligible for Identity Protection PINs

The Internal Revenue Service today expanded the Identity Protection PIN Opt-In Program to all taxpayers who can verify their identities.

The Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) is a six-digit code known only to the taxpayer and to the IRS. It helps prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns using a taxpayers' personally identifiable information.

"This is a way to, in essence, lock your tax account, and the IP PIN serves as the key to opening that account," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Electronic returns that do not contain the correct IP PIN will be rejected, and paper returns will go through additional scrutiny for fraud."

The IRS launched the IP PIN program nearly a decade ago to protect confirmed identity theft victims from ongoing tax-related fraud. In recent years, the IRS expanded the program to specific states where taxpayers could voluntarily opt into the IP PIN program. Now, the voluntary program is going nationwide.

About the IP PIN Opt-In Program
Here are a few key things to know about the IP PIN Opt-In program:

  -  This is a voluntary program.
  -  You must pass a rigorous identity verification process.
  -  Spouses and dependents are eligible for an IP PIN if they can verify their identities.
  -  An IP PIN is valid for a calendar year.
  -  You must obtain a new IP PIN each filing season.
  -  The online IP PIN tool is offline between November and mid-January each year.
  -  Correct IP PINs must be entered on electronic and paper tax returns to avoid rejections and delays.
  -  Never share your IP PIN with anyone but your trusted tax provider. The IRS will never call, text or email requesting your IP PIN. Beware of scams to steal your IP PIN.
  -  There currently is no opt-out option but the IRS is working on one for 2022.

How to get an IP PIN
Taxpayers who want an IP PIN for 2021 should go to IRS.gov/IPPIN and use the Get an IP PIN tool. This online process will require taxpayers to verify their identities using the Secure Access authentication process if they do not already have an IRS account. See IRS.gov/SecureAccess for what information you need to be successful. There is no need to file a Form 14039, an Identity Theft Affidavit, to opt into the program

Once taxpayers have authenticated their identities, their 2021 IP PIN immediately will be revealed to them. Once in the program, this PIN must be used when prompted by electronic tax returns or entered by hand near the signature line on paper tax returns.

All taxpayers are encouraged to first use the online IP PIN tool to obtain their IP PIN. Taxpayers who cannot verify their identities online do have options.

Taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is $72,000 or less may complete Form 15227, Application for an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f15227.pdf), and mail or fax to the IRS. An IRS customer service representative will contact the taxpayer and verify their identities by phone. Taxpayers should have their prior year tax return at hand for the verification process.

Taxpayers who verify their identities through this process will have an IP PIN mailed to them the following tax year. This is for security reasons. Once in the program, the IP PIN will be mailed to these taxpayers each year.

Taxpayers who cannot verify their identities online or by phone and who are ineligible for file Form 15227 can contact the IRS and make an appointment at a Taxpayer Assistance Center (https://www.irs.gov/help/contact-your-local-irs-office) to verify their identities in person. Taxpayers should bring two forms of identification, including one government-issued picture identification.

Taxpayers who verify their identities through the in-person process will have an IP PIN mailed to them within three weeks. Once in the program, the IP PIN will be mailed to these taxpayers each year.

No change for confirmed identity theft victims

Taxpayers who are confirmed identity theft victims or who have filed an identity theft affidavit because of suspected stolen identity refund fraud will automatically receive an IP PIN via mail once their cases are resolved. Current tax-related identity theft victims who have been receiving IP PINs via mail will experience no change.

See IRS.gov/IPPIN for additional details.

The IRS also encourages tax professionals and employers to share information with taxpayers about the availability of the IP PIN. Tax professionals and employers can print or email Publication 5367 or share IRS social media/e-poster products.  

 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

IRS: Stay home and stay safe with IRS online tools

The Internal Revenue Service today (12/16/20)encouraged taxpayers to take necessary actions now to help file federal tax returns timely and accurately in 2021.

This is the fourth in a series of reminders to help taxpayers get ready for the upcoming tax filing season. A special page, updated and available on IRS.gov, outlines steps taxpayers can take to make tax filing easier in 2021.

With continued social distancing, taxpayers can stay home and stay safe with IRS online tools and resources that help them find the information they need. These IRS.gov tools are easy to use and available 24 hours a day. Millions of people use them to find information about their accounts, get answers to tax questions or file and pay taxes.

Free File

Almost everyone can file electronically for free. The IRS Free File program, available only through IRS.gov or the IRS2Go app, offers brand-name tax preparation software packages at no cost. The software does all the work of finding deductions, credits and exemptions. It's free for those who earned $72,000 or less in 2020. Some of the Free File packages also offer free state tax return preparation.

Taxpayers comfortable filling out tax forms electronically, can use Free File Fillable Forms, regardless of income, to file their tax returns either by mail or online.

Choosing a preparer

The IRS has several options for finding a tax preparer. One resource is Choosing a Tax Professional, which offers a wealth of information for selecting a tax professional. The Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications can help taxpayers find preparers in their area who currently hold professional credentials recognized by the IRS, or who hold an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion.

Other online help

The Interactive Tax Assistant answers general tax questions, including helping to determine if a type of income is taxable or if someone is eligible to claim certain credits and deductions. With changes to income and other life events for many in 2020, tax credits and deductions can mean more money in a taxpayer's pocket and thinking about eligibility now can help make tax filing easier next year.

Taxpayers may qualify for credits like the Child Tax Credit and Child and Dependent Care Credit. Taxpayers whose dependent does not qualify for the CTC might be able to claim the Credit for Other Dependents. Individuals paying higher education costs for themselves, a spouse or a dependent, may be eligible to save some money with education tax credits or deductions. Additionally, low- to moderate-income taxpayers may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Beginning in January 2021, the Interactive Tax Assistant will be updated to include answers to more tax law questions.

Taxpayers can check the status of their refund using the Where's My Refund? tool. The status is available within 24 hours after the IRS receives their e-filed tax return or up to four weeks after they mailed a paper return. The Where's My Refund? tool updates once every 24 hours, usually overnight, so taxpayers only need to check once a day.

The best and fastest way for taxpayers to get their tax refund is to have it direct deposited into their financial account. Taxpayers who don't have a financial account can visit the FDIC website for information to help open an account online.

For more information about planning ahead, see Publication 5348, Get Ready to File PDF, and Publication 5349, Year-Round Tax Planning is for Everyone PDF.

Shared from the IRS News Release https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/get-ready-for-taxes-stay-home-and-stay-safe-with-irs-online-tools

Friday, December 4, 2020

National Tax Security Awareness Week, Day 4: Security Summit urges businesses to tighten security, offers new protections against identity theft

The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry urged businesses to be on guard as thieves try to use their stolen names and data to file fraudulent tax returns.

The partners, operating cooperatively as the Security Summit (https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/security-summit) to fight identity theft, marked the fourth day of National Tax Security Awareness Week with a warning to businesses to enact the strongest measures possible to protect their data and systems. The IRS also is planning additional steps to help businesses combat cybercriminals trying to steal their data.

“As the IRS and our partners have strengthened our security standards, identity thieves have looked for new ways to find sources of information, and businesses need to stay alert,” said IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. “Businesses, just like individuals, can be victims of identity theft. Thieves may steal enough information to file a business tax return for refund or use other scams using the company’s identity.”

More than 70% of cyberattacks are aimed at businesses with 100 or fewer employees. Thieves may be targeting credit card information, the business identity information or employee identity information.

Business are encouraged to follow best practices from the Federal Trade Commission include:
 -   Set your security software to update automatically
 -  Back up important files
 -   Require strong passwords for all devices
 -   Encrypt devices
 -   Use multi-factor authentication

More information is available at FTC’s Cybersecurity for Small Businesses (https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/small-businesses/cybersecurity).

Businesses should especially be alert to any COVID-19 or tax-related phishing email scams that attempt to trick employees into opening embedded links or attachments. IRS related scams may be sent to phishing@irs.gov.

Starting Dec. 13, 2020, the IRS will begin masking sensitive information from business tax transcripts, the summary of corporate tax returns, to help prevent thieves from obtaining identifiable information that would allow them to file fake business tax returns.

Only financial entries will be fully visible. All other information will have varying masking rules. For example, only the first four letters of each first and last name – of individuals and businesses – will display. Only the last four digits of the Employer Identification Number will be visible.

The IRS also has publicly launched the Form 14039-B, Business Identity Theft Affidavit (https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039b.pdf), that will allow companies to proactively report possible identity theft to the IRS when, for example, the e-filed tax return is rejected.

Businesses should file the Form 14039-B if it receives a:
 -   Rejection notice for an electronically filed return because a return already is on file for that same period.
 -   Notice about a tax return that the entity didn't file.
 -   Notice about Forms W-2 filed with the Social Security Administration that the entity didn't file.
 -   Notice of a balance due that is not owed.

This form will enable the IRS to respond to the business much faster than in the past and work to resolve issues created by a fraudulent tax return. Businesses should not use the form if they experience a data breach but see no tax-related impact. For more information, see Identity Theft Central’s Business section (https://www.irs.gov/identity-theft-central).

Although the tax scams can come and go, all employers should remain alert to Form W-2 theft schemes. In the most common version, a thief poses as a high-ranking company executive who emails payroll employees and asks for a list of employees and their W-2s. Businesses often don’t know they’ve been scammed until a fraudulent return shows up in employees’ names.

There is a special reporting procedure for employers who experience the W-2 scam. It also may be found at Identity Theft Central’s Business section
(https://www.irs.gov/identity-theft-central).

Finally, Security Summit partners urge businesses to keep their EIN application information current. Changes of address or responsible party may be reported using Form 8822-B (https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-8822-b).
 
Reminder: Changes in the responsible party must be reported to the IRS within 60 days. Current information can help the IRS find a point of contact to resolve identity theft and other issues.

The IRS, state tax agencies, the private sector tax industry, including tax professionals, work in partnership as the Security Summit to help protect taxpayers from identity theft and refund fraud. This is the third in a week-long series of tips to raise awareness about identity theft. See IRS.gov/securitysummit for more details. 
 
 IRS YouTube Video:  https://youtu.be/ELzTL6hQKQc   New Security Measures Help Protect Against Tax-Related Identity Theft