IRS NEWS FOR TAX PROFESSIONALS
How Does the IRS Contact Taxpayers?
When the IRS needs to contact a taxpayer, the first contact is normally by letter delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. The IRS doesn't normally initiate contact with taxpayers by email, nor does it send text messages or contact through social media channels.
Depending on the situation, IRS employees may first call or visit with a taxpayer. In some instances, advance notice is provided in writing via a letter or notice, but not always.
IRS Phone Calls
· IRS revenue officers work directly with taxpayers to educate them about their options to resolve delinquencies and to collect delinquent taxes and tax returns, while protecting taxpayers' rights.
· IRS revenue agents or tax compliance officers may call a taxpayer or tax professional after mailing a notice to confirm an appointment or to discuss items for a scheduled audit.
· Private debt collectors can call taxpayers for the collection of certain outstanding inactive tax liabilities but only after the taxpayer and their representative has received written notice. Private debt collectors for the IRS must respect taxpayers' rights and abide by the consumer protection provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
· IRS revenue officers routinely make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss taxes owed, delinquent tax returns or a business falling behind on payroll tax deposits. IRS revenue officers will request payment of taxes owed by the taxpayer; however, payment will never be requested to a source other than the US Treasury.
· IRS revenue agents usually visit taxpayers or tax professionals to conduct the audit after either mailing a notice and/or agreeing on the day and time. IRS revenue agents will sometimes make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss a tax matter.
· IRS criminal investigators are federal law enforcement agents who may visit a taxpayer’s home or place of business unannounced while conducting an investigation. They will not demand any sort of payment.
Ask For Credentials
IRS representatives can always provide two forms of official credentials: a pocket commission and a Personal Identity Verification Credential (PIV). Pocket commissions describe the specific authority and responsibilities of the authorized holder. The PIV is a government-wide standard for secure and reliable forms of identification for federal employees and contractors. Criminal investigators also have a badge and law enforcement credentials.
All tax payments are to the U.S. Treasury. Taxpayers should never use a preloaded debit card or wire transfer to make a payment. The IRS provides specific guidelines on how to make a tax payment at irs.gov/payments.
IRS Office of Appeals Pilots Virtual Service
· The IRS is piloting a new web-based virtual conference option for taxpayers and their representatives. This virtual face-to-face option will provide an additional option for taxpayer conferences. The IRS expects it to be especially useful for taxpayers located far from an IRS Appeals office.
· Each year, the Office of Appeals hears appeals of more than 100,000 taxpayers attempting to resolve their tax disputes without going to court. Currently, taxpayers involved in the appeals process can meet with an Appeals Officer by phone, in person or virtually through videoconference technology available only at a limited number of IRS offices.
· While a phone call works well for most taxpayers, others prefer face-to-face interaction. Appeals’ pilot program will use a secure, web-based screen-sharing platform to connect with taxpayers face-to-face from anywhere they have internet access. Similar to popular screen-sharing programs used on phones and home computers, this technology may also be a way for the IRS to provide greater access, efficiency and flexibility to taxpayers.
Tips to Keep in Mind for Taxpayers Traveling for Charity
· During the summer, some taxpayers may travel because of their involvement with a qualified charity. These traveling taxpayers may be able to lower their taxes.
· Read the article for details on:
o Qualified Charities
o Out-of-Pocket Expenses
o Genuine and Substantial Duty
o Value of Time or Service
o Travel Expenses a Taxpayer Can Deduct
o Travel Expenses a Taxpayer Can’t Deduct
Helpful Tips to Know About Gambling Winnings and Losses
· Taxpayers must report all gambling winnings as income. They must be able to itemize deductions to claim any gambling losses on their tax return.
· Read the article for details on:
o Gambling income
o Payer tax form, Form W-2G Certain Gambling Winnings
o How to report winnings
o How to deduct losses
o Keep gambling receipts
Security Summit Alert: Tax Pros Warned of New Scam to Steal Their Passwords
· The IRS is warning tax professionals to be alert to a new phishing email scam impersonating tax software providers and attempting to steal usernames and passwords.
· This latest scam email variation comes with a subject line of “Software Support Update” and highlights an “Important Software System Upgrade.” It thanks recipients for continuing to trust the software provider to serve their tax preparation needs and mimics the software providers’ email templates.
· The e-mail informs the recipients that due to a recent software upgrade, the preparer must revalidate their login credentials. It provides a link to a fictitious website that mirrors the software provider’s actual login page.
· Instead of upgrading software, the tax professionals are providing their information to cybercriminals who use the stolen credentials to access the preparers’ accounts and to steal client information.
“Don’t Take the Bait” campaign continues
· This series is part of the Protect Your Clients, Protect Yourself campaign, focused on raising awareness of the critical need for tax professionals to increase their computer security and be cautious when reviewing their inbox – specifically the successful email scams dubbed spear phishing that identify themselves as a friend, customer or company.
· Tax professionals must remember that they have not just an obligation but a legal requirement under federal law to protect taxpayer information.
· The 10-week series of news releases will focus on what steps tax professionals can take to protect their clients and their business from these attacks.
- IR-2017-123, Don’t Take the Bait, Step 3: Security Summit Safeguards Help Protect Individuals; Renew Focus on Curbing Data Breaches and Business Identity Theft
- IR-2017-125, Don’t Take the Bait, Step 4: Defend against Ransomware
- IR-2017-127, Don’t Take the Bait, Step 5: Prevent Remote Access Takeover Attacks
- IR-2017-130, Don’t Take the Bait, Step 6: Watch Out for the W-2 Email Scam
►TAXES. SECURITY. TOGETHER. (Identity Theft)
IRS introduces email option for Direct Pay and the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System
· Your clients can now sign up for email notifications when using IRS Direct Pay or EFTPS to pay their taxes. This new email feature allows taxpayers to receive notifications about their payments in their personal email accounts.
· Your clients who use EFTPS can opt in to receive email notifications when they enroll or update their enrollments. Business clients making payments through a payroll service provider can also opt in to receive email notifications. If they opt in, they’ll receive email notifications for all payments made through EFTPS, including those made by their payroll service provider.
· Your clients who use Direct Pay can opt in to receive email notifications each time they make a payment.
· To protect taxpayers, there are no web links within the email notifications. To avoid phishing scams, if taxpayers see links in an email appearing to be from the IRS about payments, they shouldn't click on those links.
· Please share this information with clients who use these IRS payment options.
►NEWS FROM OTHER AGENCIES
5 Mid-Year Tax Planning Strategies, By Barbara Weltman, SBA Guest Blogger
For many small business owners, thinking about taxes occurs only twice a year … when returns are being prepared and perhaps at the end of the year. This is a mistake. With half of 2017 over, now is a great time to assess where you stand and to take action that will be helpful to your 2017 tax bill.
1. Meet with your tax advisor
2. Assess your profitability
3. Expand your R&D
4. Issue stock
5. Review your income tax payments
►IN EVERY ISSUE
View Your Account Information
Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center
Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter
Basic Tools for Tax Professionals
Recent Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts
Identity Protection: Prevention, Detection and Victim Assistance
Federal Trade Commission: