Tag Archives: IRS

Phishing: Are you the next target?

A client of ours contacted us regarding a suspicious phone call she had received. A woman claiming she was from the IRS told our client she owed the federal government money for tax payments she hadn’t payed. What makes this case especially interesting? Our client happens to be a foreign national, and was threatened with possible deportation from the Country if she didn’t pay the amount owed to the federal government.

We’ve seen these scammers target certain demographics most vulnerable to these types of tactics, and in todays world, personal information such as your address, name, social security number are going to be the pieces of information that these scammers are going to try and use to convince you of who they are. REMINDER: The IRS will NEVER call or email you, always and only through written correspondence should you owe them any sort of payment.

Should you receive one of these calls, and you are being spoken to in a threatening manner, take down their number & hang up. To help the proper authorities deal with these scammers please click the link below to report the incident. https://www.irs.gov/uac/report-phishing

IRS2Go 5.0 Smartphone App

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In this golden age of technology, communication has become one with convenience, not just in how we contact one another, but how we interact with businesses, banks, restaurants, and even government services. The Internal Revenue Service released their new smartphone application IRS2Go 5.0 which is compatible with both Apple and Android devices.

It’s free for download to anyone looking to simplify the way they connect with IRS, specifically; “The new version of IRS2Go provides taxpayers another way to quickly get information and help around the clock” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen”.

It’s important that users who have already downloaded past versions of IRS2Go should make sure to update their devices with the most current official- and completely free version of the app by visiting the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

The newest version of the free mobile app offers a number of safe and secure ways for taxpayers to access other popular tools and the most up-to-date tax information, including:

  • Refund Status. Taxpayers can check the status of their federal tax refund through IRS2Go. People simply enter their Social Security number, which will be masked and encrypted for security purposes, then select their filing status and enter the amount of their anticipated refund for their 2014 tax return.
  • Free Tax Prep Providers. The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs offer free tax help for taxpayers who qualify. This brand new tool on IRS2Go will help taxpayers find the nearest volunteer tax help site to their home by simply entering their zip code and selecting a mileage range. By clicking on the directions button within the results, the maps application on the device will load with the address, making it easy to navigate to your desired location.
  • Stay Connected. Taxpayers can interact with the IRS by following the IRS on Twitter, @IRSnews or @IRSenEspanol, watching helpful videos on YouTube, signing up for email updates, or by using the Contact Us feature.

We urge our clients to take advantage of this application, although it doesn’t solve all issues concerning personal finance with a wave of a magic wand, it serves as a very resourceful platform for anyone to make their lives just a little more simple.

 

Who is watching the Hen house?

Reading through CPA Practice Advisor, we came across an article about some IRS employees who ran schemes to collect personal information and file fraudulent returns to receive tax refunds.

Personal information these days are within arm’s reach it seems, hackers & scammers constantly changing the name of the game. We’re used to reading about it in the newspapers or watching it on the news stations, seemingly hyper-intelligent individuals using technology to attain information. Then you learn that the matter has come from within the IRS, that some employee has taken it upon themselves to steal your SSN and other personal tax information. Hopefully this does not happen often, but do we know how many other IRS employees are out there doing this? We won’t know until they are caught in the act, which could end up with them collecting a large sum of money, sometimes in the million dollar range. Not only is it SSN’s that are at risk of being stolen, Tax Identification Numbers can also be obtained illegally to file for fraudulent business tax returns.

Steps to protect yourself must be taken, for example keep your SSN in a safe location and only release it to businesses when its essential, also monitor credit reports from three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – that might indicate ID theft.

P.S. If you receive a call from people claiming to be from the IRS, hang up the phone, someone is trying to scam you. More than a few of our clients have received such calls in the past, remember that the IRS will only contact you by written correspondence through regular mail, never by phone or by email.

Another filing season has come and gone

If there is one season that we observe as a whole in this nation, it’s tax season. We accountants see our clients information flooding in along with handling many frantic phone calls as to how we arrived at their tax bill. All the while trying to pay attention to the immediate and fine  details that are demanded of tax preparers.

What most taxpayers don’t understand, is the environment in which accountants must navigate their clients through. It is impossibly complex and drastically changes so much that the IRS itself can barely keep up. Another filing season has come and gone, and we still are baffled by why congress can’t devise a fairer and more logical tax scheme.

Quite a few of our clients have gotten sticker shock due to the ever-changing tax landscape and the lateness of the changes implemented by the Tax Prevention Act of 2014. Why congress took three hundred and sixty two days to enact their bill which made changes retro-active to the beginning of 2014 should concern everyone.

This year we are likely to see more of the same as they did not even have the foresight to pass 2015 tax changes before the year began. We are again working blindly. Everyone talks about fairness in the tax code but, if the rules are ever-changing and proper planning cannot be done, there will never be fairness in the system.

The changes that most affected our clients this year were the accelerated phase out of personal exemptions; the child tax credit and itemized deductions. Unfortunately, all of the aforementioned phase outs occurred at different levels of income in some cases making the marginal tax rates of fifty percent. We could not advise our clients of how to properly modify their estimated tax payments as “The Act” was passed three days before year end.

What will it take for congress to live up to their responsibility and stop using the tax code as a political pawn?

The Tax Payer Bill of Rights

Most people think that they are at the mercy of the IRS. They think they have no rights whatsoever – but they are wrong. Taxpayers have always had certain rights in dealing with the Internal Revenue Service, and recently these rights were formalized and codified. As IRS Commissioner John Koskinen noted, these rights existed for a long time in the tax code but it was never clear to most people what they were until now.

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights breaks down your rights into 10 easy-to-understand pieces. Let’s look at a summary of the 10 rights.

The Right to Be Informed

You have the right to know what you need to do to comply with tax laws. This means you are entitled to clear explanations of laws, procedures, instructions, publications and notices. You are also entitled to clear information about decisions regarding your personal case.

The Right to Quality Service

You have the right to professional service, including straightforward and courteous dealings with the IRS. You also are entitled to speak to a supervisor about inadequate service.

The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax

You only need to pay the actual amount you owe and never more than that amount. Furthermore, any and all payments are to be properly applied against the appropriate accounts or tax liabilities.

The Right to Challenge the IRS’ Position and Be Heard

You have the right to object to the IRS’ position and provide documentation in your defense. This means you are entitled to a timely consideration of your objections and to receive a detailed response if the IRS does not agree with your defense.

The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum

You have the right to a fair and impartial appeal process, including the right to receive a written response regarding the Office of Appeals’ decision.

The Right to Finality

You have the right to know the amount of time the IRS has to audit a tax year, collect a tax debt, and when the IRS has finished an audit.

The Right to Privacy

You have the right to expect that any IRS examination or inquiry will not be unnecessarily intrusive. You are entitled to a collection due process hearing before search and seizure of your property.

The Right to Confidentiality

Any information provided to the IRS will not be disclosed unless you authorize such disclosure. You can expect action to be taken against anyone who inappropriately uses or discloses your information.

The Right to Retain Representation

You can retain a representative of your choice to represent you in dealing with the IRS.

The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System

You can expect the tax system to fairly consider the facts and circumstances of your case. In cases of financial difficulty, taxpayers have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights will hopefully prove to be a step in the right direction of a more fair, efficient and transparent tax system for all taxpayers.
 

Please contact us if you have any questions about the information in this article.

Best regards,
James Diapoules and Marvin Feinstein