IRS: Refunds of $1.4 billion waiting to be claimed by individuals who have not filed federal income tax returns for 2015

IR-2019-38, March 13, 2019

WASHINGTON ― Unclaimed income tax refunds totaling almost $1.4 billion may be waiting for an estimated 1.2 million taxpayers who did not file a 2015 Form 1040 federal income tax return, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

To collect the money, these taxpayers must file their 2015 tax returns with the IRS no later than this year's tax deadline, Monday, April 15, except for taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts, who have until April 17.

"We’re trying to connect over a million people with their share of $1.4 billion in potentially unclaimed refunds for 2015,” said IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. “Students, part-time workers and many others may have overlooked filing for 2015. And there’s no penalty for filing a late return if you’re due a refund.”

The IRS estimates the midpoint for the potential refunds for 2015 to be $879 — that is, half of the refunds are more than $879 and half are less.

In cases where a federal income tax return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity to claim a tax refund. If they do not file a tax return within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. For 2015 tax returns, the window closes April 15, 2019, for most taxpayers. The law requires taxpayers to properly address, mail and ensure the tax return is postmarked by that date.

The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2015 tax refund that their checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2016 and 2017. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS or a state tax agency and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts, such as student loans.

By failing to file a tax return, people stand to lose more than just their refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2015. Many low- and moderate-income workers may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For 2015, the credit was worth as much as $6,242. The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds. The thresholds for 2015 were:

  • $47,747 ($53,267 if married filing jointly) for those with three or more qualifying children;

  • $44,454 ($49,974 if married filing jointly) for people with two qualifying children;

  • $39,131 ($44,651 if married filing jointly) for those with one qualifying child, and;

  • $14,820 ($20,330 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children.

Current and prior year tax forms (such as the tax year 2015 Form 1040, 1040-A and 1040-EZ) and instructions are available on the IRS.gov Forms and Publications page or by calling toll-free 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Taxpayers who are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for the years 2015, 2016 or 2017 should request copies from their employer, bank or other payer. Taxpayers who are unable to get missing forms from their employer or other payer can order a free wage and income transcript at IRS.gov using the Get Transcript Online tool. Alternatively, they can file Form 4506-T to request a wage and income transcript. A wage and income transcript shows data from information returns received by the IRS, such as Forms W-2, 1099, 1098, Form 5498 and IRA contribution information. Taxpayers can use the information from the transcript to file their tax return.

IRS kicks off annual list of most prevalent tax scams: Agency warns taxpayers of pervasive phishing schemes in its ‘Dirty Dozen’ campaign

IRS YouTube Videos:

IR-2019-26, March 4, 2019

WASHINGTON — Kicking off the annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams, the Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers of the ongoing threat of internet phishing scams that lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft.

The IRS warns taxpayers, businesses and tax professionals to be alert for a continuing surge of fake emails, text messages, websites and social media attempts to steal personal information. These attacks tend to increase during tax season and remain a major danger of identity theft.

To help protect taxpayers against these and other threats, the IRS highlights one scam on 12 consecutive week days to help raise awareness. Phishing schemes are the first of the 2019 “Dirty Dozen” scams.

“Taxpayers should be on constant guard for these phishing schemes, which can be tricky and cleverly disguised to look like it’s the IRS,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Watch out for emails and other scams posing as the IRS, promising a big refund or personally threatening people. Don’t open attachments and click on links in emails. Don’t fall victim to phishing or other common scams.”

The IRS also urges taxpayers to learn how to protect themselves by reviewing safety tips prepared by the Security Summit, a collaborative effort between the IRS, state revenue departments and the private-sector tax community.

“Taking some basic security steps and being cautious can help protect people and their sensitive tax and financial data,” Rettig said.

New variations on phishing schemes

The IRS continues to see a steady stream of new and evolving phishing schemes as criminals work to victimize taxpayers throughout the year. Whether through legitimate-looking emails with fake, but convincing website landing pages, or social media approaches, perhaps using a shortened URL, the end goal is the same for these con artists: stealing personal information.

In one variation, taxpayers are victimized by a creative scheme that involves their own bank account. After stealing personal data and filing fraudulent tax returns, criminals use taxpayers' bank accounts to direct deposit tax refunds. Thieves then use various tactics to reclaim the refund from the taxpayer, including falsely claiming to be from a collection agency or the IRS. The IRS encourages taxpayers to review some basic tips if they see an unexpected deposit in their bank account.

Schemes aimed at tax pros, payroll offices, human resources personnel

The IRS has also seen more advanced phishing schemes targeting the personal or financial information available in the files of tax professionals, payroll professionals, human resources personnel, schools and organizations such as Form W-2 information. These targeted scams are known as business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES) scams.

Depending on the variation of the scam (and there are several), criminals will pose as:

  • a business asking the recipient to pay a fake invoice

  • as an employee seeking to re-route a direct deposit

  • or as someone the taxpayer trusts or recognizes, such as an executive, to initiate a wire transfer.

The IRS warned of the direct deposit variation of the BEC/BES scam in December 2018, and continues to receive reports of direct deposit scams reported to phishing@irs.gov. The Direct Deposit and other BEC/BES variations should be forwarded to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). The IRS requests that Form W-2 scams be reported to: phishing@irs.gov (Subject: W-2 Scam). 

Criminals may use the email credentials from a successful phishing attack, known as an email account compromise, to send phishing emails to the victim’s email contacts. Tax preparers should be wary of unsolicited email from personal or business contacts especially the more commonly observed scams, like new client solicitations.

Malicious emails and websites can infect a taxpayer’s computer with malware without the user knowing it. The malware downloads in the background, giving the criminal access to the device, enabling them to access any sensitive files or even track keyboard strokes, exposing login victim’s information.

For those participating in these schemes, such activity can lead to significant penalties and possible criminal prosecution. Both the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), which handles scams involving IRS impersonation, and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division work closely with the Department of Justice to shut down scams and prosecute the criminals behind them.

Tax professional alert

Numerous data breaches across the country mean the tax preparation community must be on high alert to unusual activity, particularly during the tax filing season. Criminals increasingly target tax professionals, deploying various types of phishing emails in an attempt to access client data. Thieves may use this data to impersonate taxpayers and file fraudulent tax returns for refunds.

As part of the Security Summit initiative, the IRS has joined with representatives of the software industry, tax preparation firms, payroll and tax financial product processors and state tax administrators to combat identity theft refund fraud to protect the nation's taxpayers.

The Security Summit partners encourage tax practitioners to be wary of communicating solely by email with potential or existing clients, especially if unusual requests are made. Data breach thefts have given thieves millions of identity data points including names, addresses, Social Security numbers and email addresses. If in doubt, tax practitioners should call to confirm a client’s identity.

Reporting phishing attempts

If a taxpayer receives an unsolicited email or social media attempt that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), they should report it by sending it to phishing@irs.gov. Learn more by going to the Report Phishing and Online Scams page on IRS.gov.

Tax professionals who receive unsolicited and suspicious emails that appear to be from the IRS and/or are tax-related (like those related to the e-Services program) also should report it to: phishing@irs.gov.

The IRS generally does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.

Here's What Taxpayers Should Do to Protect Their Private Data

IRS Tax Tip 2019-12, February 21, 2019

Taxpayers should protect their personal and financial data from criminals who continue to steal large amounts of information. Thieves use the data to file bogus tax returns and commit crimes while impersonating the victim.

All taxpayers should follow these steps to protect themselves and their data.

Keep a secure computer. Taxpayers should:

  • Use security software that updates automatically. Essential tools for keeping a secure computer include a firewall, virus and malware protection, and file encryption for sensitive data.

  • Treat personal information like cash; don’t leave it lying around.

  • Give personal information only over encrypted and trusted websites.

  • Use strong passwords and protect them.

Avoid Phishing and Malware. Taxpayers should:

  • Not respond to emails, texts or calls that appear to be from the IRS, tax companies and other well-known businesses. Instead, verify contact information about companies or agencies by going directly to their website.

  • Be cautious of email attachments. Think twice before opening them.

  • Turn off the option to automatically download attachments.

  • Download and install software only from known and trusted websites.

Protect personal information. Taxpayers should:

  • Not routinely carry a Social Security card or other documents showing a Social Security number.

  • Not overshare personal information on social media. This includes information about past addresses, a new car, a new home and children.

  • Keep old tax returns and tax records under lock and key.

  • Safeguard electronic files by encrypting and properly disposing them.

  • Shred tax documents before trashing.

Taxpayers should forward IRS-related scam emails to phishing@irs.gov. They can report IRS impersonation telephone calls at www.tigta.gov.

More Information:

Here’s how taxpayers can pay their taxes

IRS Tax Tip 2019-07, February 12, 2019

The IRS offers several payment options where taxpayers can pay immediately or arrange to pay in installments. Taxpayers can pay online, by phone, or with their mobile device and the IRS2Go app. Taxpayers should pay in full whenever possible to avoid interest and penalty charges. 

Here are some electronic payment options for taxpayers:

  • Electronic Funds Withdrawal. Taxpayers can pay using their bank account when they e-file their tax return. EFW is free and only available through e-File.
     

  • Direct Pay. Taxpayers can pay directly from a checking or savings account for free with IRS Direct Pay. Taxpayers receive instant confirmation after they submit a payment. With Direct Pay, taxpayers can schedule payments up to 30 days in advance. They can change or cancel their payment two business days before the scheduled payment date. Taxpayers can choose to receive email notifications each time they make a payment.
     

  • Credit or debit cards. Taxpayers can also pay their taxes by debit or credit card online, by phone, or with a mobile device. Card payment processing fees vary by service provider and no part of the service fee goes to the IRS. Telephone numbers for service providers are at IRS.gov/payments.
     

  • Pay with cash. Taxpayers can make a cash payment at a participating retail partner. Taxpayers can do this at more than 7,000 locations nationwide. Taxpayers can visit IRS.gov/paywithcash for instructions on how to pay with cash.
     

  • Installment agreement. Taxpayers who are unable to pay their tax debt immediately may be able to make monthly payments. Before applying for any payment agreement, taxpayers must file all required tax returns. They can apply for an installment agreement with the Online Payment Agreement tool, which also has more information about who’s eligible to apply for a monthly installment agreement.


Anyone wishing to use a mobile device should remember they can access the IRS2Go app to pay with either Direct Pay or by debit or credit card. IRS2Go is the official mobile app of the IRS and is available for download from Google Play, the Apple App Store or the Amazon App Store.

Taxpayers can also visit IRS.gov/account and log in to their account. From here, they can view their taxes owed, payment history, federal tax records, and key information from their most recent tax return as originally filed.

Avoid the rush: Fastest way to check tax refund is ‘Where’s My Refund?’ tool at IRS.gov

WASHINGTON — Offering time-saving alternatives to a telephone call, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers they can get fast answers to their refund questions by using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool available on IRS.gov and through the IRS2Go app.

The IRS issues nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, and the fastest way to get a refund is to use IRS e-file and direct deposit. Taxpayers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional ChildTax Credit will see their refunds, which by law must be held until mid-February, after Feb. 27.

The time around Presidents Day is a peak period for telephone calls to the IRS, resulting in longer than normal hold times for callers. Questions about tax refunds are the most frequent reason people call the IRS. People are encouraged to first check “Where’s My Refund?” or review the IRS Services Guide which links to many IRS online services.

Please note: Ordering a tax transcript will not speed delivery of tax refunds nor does the posting of a tax transcript to a taxpayer’s account determine the timing of a refund delivery. Calls to request transcripts for this purpose are unnecessary. Transcripts are available online and by mail at Get Transcript

IRS telephone assistors can only research a refund’s status if it has been 21 days or more since the taxpayer filed electronically, six weeks since they mailed a paper return or if “Where’s My Refund?” directs a taxpayer to call.

Taxpayers can avoid the Presidents Day rush by using the "Where’s My Refund?" tool. All that is needed is the taxpayer’s Social Security number, tax filing status (single, married, head of household) and exact amount of the tax refund claimed on the return. Alternatively, taxpayers may call 800-829-1954 for the same information.

Within 24 hours of filing a tax return electronically, the tool can tell taxpayers that their returns have been received. That time extends to four weeks if a paper return is mailed to the IRS, which is another reason to use IRS e-file and direct deposit.

Once the tax return is processed, “Where’s My Refund?” will tell a taxpayer when their refund is approved and provide a date when they can expect to receive it. “Where’s My Refund?” is updated no more than once every 24 hours, usually overnight, so there’s no need to check the status more often.

By law, the IRS cannot release tax refunds for Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit related tax returns before mid-February. “Where’s My Refund?” will be updated by Feb. 23 for most early filers who claimed the EITC or ACTC. These taxpayers will not see a refund date on “Where's My Refund?” or through their software packages until then. The earliest EITC and ACTC related refunds should be available in taxpayer bank accounts and debit cards starting Feb. 27, if taxpayers used direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax returns.

While the IRS still expects to issue more than nine out of 10 tax refunds in less than 21 days, it’s possible a particular tax return may require additional review and a refund could take longer. Many different factors can affect the timing of a refund. Also, it is important to take into consideration the time it takes for a financial institution to post the refund to an account or for it to be delivered by mail.

Most taxpayers will receive a refund, but many also may owe additional tax if they did not withhold enough during 2018. Taxpayers who owe additional tax should use digital payment options. Taxpayers who owe should do a Paycheck Check Up to ensure enough tax is withheld during 2019 to avoid an unexpected tax bill.

Interesting News about IRS penalties in 2018

IRS waives penalty for many whose tax withholding and estimated tax payments fell short in 2018

IR-2019-03, January 16, 2019

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service announced today that it is waiving the estimated tax penalty for many taxpayers whose 2018 federal income tax withholding and estimated tax payments fell short of their total tax liability for the year.

The IRS is generally waiving the penalty for any taxpayer who paid at least 85 percent of their total tax liability during the year through federal income tax withholding, quarterly estimated tax payments or a combination of the two. The usual percentage threshold is 90 percent to avoid a penalty.

The waiver computation announced today will be integrated into commercially-available tax software and reflected in the forthcoming revision of Form 2210 and instructions.

This relief is designed to help taxpayers who were unable to properly adjust their withholding and estimated tax payments to reflect an array of changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the far-reaching tax reform law enacted in December 2017. 

“We realize there were many changes that affected people last year, and this penalty waiver will help taxpayers who inadvertently didn’t have enough tax withheld,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We urge people to check their withholding again this year to make sure they are having the right amount of tax withheld for 2019.”

The updated federal tax withholding tables, released in early 2018, largely reflected the lower tax rates and the increased standard deduction brought about by the new law. This generally meant taxpayers had less tax withheld in 2018 and saw more in their paychecks. 

However, the withholding tables couldn’t fully factor in other changes, such as the suspension of dependency exemptions and reduced itemized deductions. As a result, some taxpayers could have paid too little tax during the year, if they did not submit a properly-revised W-4 withholding form to their employer or increase their estimated tax payments. The IRS and partner groups conducted an extensive outreach and education campaign throughout 2018 to encourage taxpayers to do a “Paycheck Checkup” to avoid a situation where they had too much or too little tax withheld when they file their tax returns. 

Although most 2018 tax filers are still expected to get refunds, some taxpayers will unexpectedly owe additional tax when they file their returns.

Additional Information

Because the U.S. tax system is pay-as-you-go, taxpayers are required, by law, to pay most of their tax obligation during the year, rather than at the end of the year. This can be done by either having tax withheld from paychecks or pension payments, or by making estimated tax payments.

Usually, a penalty applies at tax filing if too little is paid during the year. Normally, the penalty would not apply for 2018 if tax payments during the year met one of the following tests: 

  • The person’s tax payments were at least 90 percent of the tax liability for 2018 or

  • The person’s tax payments were at least 100 percent of the prior year’s tax liability, in this case from 2017. However, the 100 percent threshold is increased to 110 percent if a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income is more than $150,000, or $75,000 if married and filing a separate return. 

For waiver purposes only, today’s relief lowers the 90 percent threshold to 85 percent. This means that a taxpayer will not owe a penalty if they paid at least 85 percent of their total 2018 tax liability. If the taxpayer paid less than 85 percent, then they are not eligible for the waiver and the penalty will be calculated as it normally would be, using the 90 percent threshold. For further details, see Notice 2019-11, posted today on IRS.gov.

Like last year, the IRS urges everyone to check their withholding for 2019. This is especially important for anyone now facing an unexpected tax bill when they file. This is also an important step for those who made withholding adjustments in 2018 or had a major life change to ensure the right tax is still being withheld. Those most at risk of having too little tax withheld from their pay include taxpayers who itemized in the past but now take the increased standard deduction, as well as two-wage-earner households, employees with nonwage sources of income and those with complex tax situations.

To help taxpayers get their withholding right in 2019, an updated version of the agency’s online Withholding Calculator is now available on IRS.gov.With tax season starting Jan. 28, the IRS reminds taxpayers it’s never too early to get ready for the tax-filing season ahead. While it’s a good idea any year, starting early in 2019 is particularly important as most tax filers adjust to the revised tax rates, deductions and credits. 

Although the IRS won’t begin processing 2018 returns until Jan. 28, software companies and tax professionals will be accepting and preparing returns before that date. Free File is also now available.

The IRS also reminds taxpayers there are two useful resources for anyone interested in learning more about tax reform. They are Publication 5307, Tax Reform: Basics for Individuals and Families, and Publication 5318, Tax Reform What’s New for Your Business. For other tips and resources, visit IRS.gov/taxreform or check out the Get Ready page on IRS.gov .

Government Shutdown update from the Internal Revenue Service

IRS confirms tax filing season to begin January 28

WASHINGTON ― Despite the government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service today confirmed that it will process tax returns beginning January 28, 2019 and provide refunds to taxpayers as scheduled.
 
“We are committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive their refunds notwithstanding the government shutdown. I appreciate the hard work of the employees and their commitment to the taxpayers during this period,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.
 
Congress directed the payment of all tax refunds through a permanent, indefinite appropriation (31 U.S.C. 1324), and the IRS has consistently been of the view that it has authority to pay refunds despite a lapse in annual appropriations. Although in 2011 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed the IRS not to pay refunds during a lapse, OMB has reviewed the relevant law at Treasury’s request and concluded that IRS may pay tax refunds during a lapse.

The IRS will be recalling a significant portion of its workforce, currently furloughed as part of the government shutdown, to work. Additional details for the IRS filing season will be included in an updated FY2019 Lapsed Appropriations Contingency Plan to be released publicly in the coming days.
 
“IRS employees have been hard at work over the past year to implement the biggest tax law changes the nation has seen in more than 30 years,” said Rettig.
 
As in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing individual tax returns once the filing season begins. For taxpayers who usually file early in the year and have all of the needed documentation, there is no need to wait to file. They should file when they are ready to submit a complete and accurate tax return.
 
The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2019 for most taxpayers.  Because of the Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15 in Maine and Massachusetts and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16 in the District of Columbia, taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17, 2019 to file their returns.
 
Software companies and tax professionals will be accepting and preparing tax returns before Jan. 28 and then will submit the returns when the IRS systems open later this month. The IRS strongly encourages people to file their tax returns electronically to minimize errors and for faster refunds.

2019 Changes to 401(k) Contributions and IRAs

From the IRS Newswire:

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2019.  The IRS today issued technical guidance detailing these items in Notice 2018-83.

Highlights of Changes for 2019

The contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $18,500 to $19,000.

The limit on annual contributions to an IRA, which last increased in 2013, is increased from $5,500 to $6,000. The additional catch-up contribution limit for individuals aged 50 and over is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $1,000.

The income ranges for determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), to contribute to Roth IRAs and to claim the saver’s credit all increased for 2019.

Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions. If during the year either the taxpayer or their spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be reduced, or phased out, until it is eliminated, depending on filing status and income. (If neither the taxpayer nor their spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work, the phase-outs of the deduction do not apply.) Here are the phase-out ranges for 2019:

  • For single taxpayers covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $64,000 to $74,000, up from $63,000 to $73,000.

  • For married couples filing jointly, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $103,000 to $123,000, up from $101,000 to $121,000.

  • For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $193,000 and $203,000, up from $189,000 and $199,000.

  • For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

The income phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $122,000 to $137,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $120,000 to $135,000. For married

couples filing jointly, the income phase-out range is $193,000 to $203,000, up from $189,000 to $199,000. The phase-out range for a married individual filing a separate return who makes contributions to a Roth IRA is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

The income limit for the Saver’s Credit (also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit) for low- and moderate-income workers is $64,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $63,000; $48,000 for heads of household, up from $47,250; and $32,000 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up from $31,500.

Highlights of Limitations that Remain Unchanged from 2018

The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $6,000.

Detailed Description of Adjusted and Unchanged Limitations

Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) provides for dollar limitations on benefits and contributions under qualified retirement plans. Section 415(d) requires that the Secretary of the Treasury annually adjust these limits for cost of living increases. Other limitations applicable to deferred compensation plans are also affected by these adjustments under Section 415. Under Section 415(d), the adjustments are to be made following adjustment procedures similar to those used to adjust benefit amounts under Section 215(i)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act.

Effective Jan. 1, 2019, the limitation on the annual benefit under a defined benefit plan under Section 415(b)(1)(A) is increased from $220,000 to $225,000. For a participant who separated from service before Jan. 1, 2019, the limitation for defined benefit plans under Section 415(b)(1)(B) is computed by multiplying the participant's compensation limitation, as adjusted through 2018, by 1.0264.

The limitation for defined contribution plans under Section 415(c)(1)(A) is increased in 2019 from $55,000 to $56,000.

The Code provides that various other dollar amounts are to be adjusted at the same time and in the same manner as the dollar limitation of Section 415(b)(1)(A). After taking into account the applicable rounding rules, the amounts for 2019 are as follows:

The limitation under Section 402(g)(1) on the exclusion for elective deferrals described in Section 402(g)(3) is increased from $18,500 to $19,000.

The annual compensation limit under Sections 401(a)(17), 404(l), 408(k)(3)(C), and 408(k)(6)(D)(ii) is increased from $275,000 to $280,000.

The dollar limitation under Section 416(i)(1)(A)(i) concerning the definition of key employee in a top-heavy plan is increased from $175,000 to $180,000.

The dollar amount under Section 409(o)(1)(C)(ii) for determining the maximum account balance in an employee stock ownership plan subject to a five year distribution period is increased from

$1,105,000 to $1,130,000, while the dollar amount used to determine the lengthening of the five year distribution period is increased from $220,000 to $225,000.

The limitation used in the definition of highly compensated employee under Section 414(q)(1)(B) is increased from $120,000 to $125,000.

The dollar limitation under Section 414(v)(2)(B)(i) for catch-up contributions to an applicable employer plan other than a plan described in Section 401(k)(11) or Section 408(p) for individuals aged 50 or over remains unchanged at $6,000. The dollar limitation under Section 414(v)(2)(B)(ii) for catch-up contributions to an applicable employer plan described in Section 401(k)(11) or Section 408(p) for individuals aged 50 or over remains unchanged at $3,000.

The annual compensation limitation under Section 401(a)(17) for eligible participants in certain governmental plans that, under the plan as in effect on July 1, 1993, allowed cost of living adjustments to the compensation limitation under the plan under Section 401(a)(17) to be taken into account, is increased from $405,000 to $415,000.

The compensation amount under Section 408(k)(2)(C) regarding simplified employee pensions (SEPs) remains unchanged at $600.

The limitation under Section 408(p)(2)(E) regarding SIMPLE retirement accounts is increased from $12,500 to $13,000.

The limitation on deferrals under Section 457(e)(15) concerning deferred compensation plans of state and local governments and tax-exempt organizations is increased from $18,500 to $19,000.

The limitation under Section 664(g)(7) concerning the qualified gratuitous transfer of qualified employer securities to an employee stock ownership plan remains unchanged at $50,000.

The compensation amount under Section 1.61 21(f)(5)(i) of the Income Tax Regulations concerning the definition of “control employee” for fringe benefit valuation remains unchanged at $110,000. The compensation amount under Section 1.61 21(f)(5)(iii) is increased from $220,000 to $225,000.

The dollar limitation on premiums paid with respect to a qualifying longevity annuity contract under Section 1.401(a)(9)-6, A-17(b)(2)(i) of the Income Tax Regulations remains unchanged at $130,000.

The Code provides that the $1,000,000,000 threshold used to determine whether a multiemployer plan is a systemically important plan under Section 432(e)(9)(H)(v)(III)(aa) is adjusted using the cost-of-living adjustment provided under Section 432(e)(9)(H)(v)(III)(bb). After taking the applicable rounding rule into account, the threshold used to determine whether a multiemployer plan is a systemically important plan under Section 432(e)(9)(H)(v)(III)(aa) is increased for 2019 from $1,087,000,000 to $1,097,000,000.

The Code also provides that several retirement-related amounts are to be adjusted using the cost-of-living adjustment under Section 1(f)(3). After taking the applicable rounding rules into account, the amounts for 2019 are as follows:

The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for married taxpayers filing a joint return is increased from $38,000 to $38,500; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $41,000 to $41,500; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $63,000 to $64,000.

The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit for taxpayers filing as head of household is increased from $28,500 to $28,875; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $30,750 to $31,125; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $47,250 to $48,000.

The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit for all other taxpayers is increased from $19,000 to $19,250; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $20,500 to $20,750; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $31,500 to $32,000.

The deductible amount under Section 219(b)(5)(A) for an individual making qualified retirement contributions is increased from $5,500 to $6,000.

The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(i) for determining the deductible amount of an IRA contribution for taxpayers who are active participants filing a joint return or as a qualifying widow(er) increased from $101,000 to $103,000. The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(ii) for all other taxpayers who are active participants (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) increased from $63,000 to $64,000. If an individual or the individual’s spouse is an active participant, the applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(iii) for a married individual filing a separate return is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0. The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(7)(A) for a taxpayer who is not an active participant but whose spouse is an active participant is increased from $189,000 to $193,000.

The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 408A(c)(3)(B)(ii)(I) for determining the maximum Roth IRA contribution for married taxpayers filing a joint return or for taxpayers filing as a qualifying widow(er) is increased from $189,000 to $193,000. The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 408A(c)(3)(B)(ii)(II) for all other taxpayers (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) is increased from $120,000 to $122,000. The applicable dollar amount under Section 408A(c)(3)(B)(ii)(III) for a married individual filing a separate return is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0.

Helpful Tax Reform Info from the IRS:

The IRS has launched an easy-to-use webpage, IRS.gov/taxreform, with information about how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act affects your taxes, with a special section focused on tax exempt entities.

The tax reform page features three areas designed specifically for:

  • Individuals – For example, standard deduction increase, child tax credit, withholding. Use the Withholding Calculator to make sure you’re withholding enough tax from your paycheck.

  • Businesses – For example, depreciation, expenses and qualified business income deductions.

  • Tax Exempt Entities – For example, tax reform affecting retirement plans, tax-exempt organizations and governments.

Under the Tax Exempt Entities tab, you’ll find highlights of how tax reform affects retirement plans, tax-exempt organizations and tax-advantaged bonds.

 

Retirement plans

  • Rollovers of retirement plan loan offsets – If your plan offsets an outstanding loan balance when you leave employment, you have until the due date of your individual tax return, plus extensions, to rollover those amounts to another plan or IRA.

  • Roth recharacterizations – You can no longer recharacterize amounts rolled over to a Roth IRA from other retirement plans, such as 401(k) or 403(b) plans, or a conversion from a traditional IRA, SEP or SIMPLE to a Roth IRA.

Tax-exempt organizations

  • Tax reform imposes a 1.4 percent excise tax on the investment income of certain educational institutions.

  • An exempt organization with more than one unrelated trade or business must calculate unrelated business taxable income separately for each trade or business.

Tax-advantaged bonds

  • Tax reform repealed the authority to issue tax-credit bonds and direct-pay bonds.

  • The IRS will not process applications for, or issue allocations of, the remaining unused authority to issue new clean renewable energy bonds.

Visit IRS.gov/taxreform often for the latest updates, guidance and FAQs issued for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Steps Victims can Take to Minimize Effect of Data Theft

IRS Tax Tip 2018–27, February 21, 2018

Every day, the theft of personal and financial information puts people at risk of identity theft. Generally, thieves try to use the stolen data as quickly as possible to:

  • Sell the information to other criminals.
  • Withdraw money from a bank account.
  • Make credit card purchases.
  • File a fraudulent tax return for a refund using victims’ names.

Victims of a data loss should follow these steps to minimize the effect of the theft:

  • Try to determine what information the thieves compromised. Compromised information may include emails and passwords, or more sensitive data, such as name and Social Security number.
  • Take advantage of credit monitoring services when offered by the affected organization.
  • Place a freeze on credit accounts to prevent access to credit records. It varies by state, but there may be a fee to place a freeze on an account. At a minimum, victims should place a fraud alert on their credit accounts by contacting one of the three major credit bureaus. A fraud alert isn’t as secure as a freeze, but it’s free.
  • Reset passwords on online accounts, especially those of financial sites and email and social media accounts. Use different passwords for each account. Some experts recommend at least 10-digit passwords, mixing letters, numbers and special characters. Victims may also wish to consider using a password manager or app.
  • Use multi-factor authentication, when available. Some financial institutions, email providers and social media sites allow users to set their accounts for multi-factor authentication, which requires a security code, usually sent as a text to their mobile phone, in addition to a username and password.

All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income amount from their prior-year tax return to verify their identity. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.

More Information:

Great info from the IRS on filing early in the season

WASHINGTON — With the 2018 filing season in full swing, the Internal Revenue Service today offered taxpayers some basic tax and refund tips to clear up some common misbeliefs. 

Myth 1: All Refunds Are Delayed

The IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. Eight in 10 taxpayers get their refunds faster by using e-file and direct deposit. It's the safest, fastest way to receive a refund and is also easy to use.

While more than nine out of 10 federal tax refunds are issued in less than 21 days, some refunds may be delayed, but not all of them. By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds for tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. The IRS began processing tax returns on Jan. 29.

Other returns may require additional review for a variety of reasons and take longer. For example, the IRS, along with its partners in the state’s and the nation’s tax industry, continue to strengthen security reviews to help protect against identity theft and refund fraud.

Myth 2: Delayed Refunds, those Claiming EITC and/or ACTC, will be Delivered on Feb. 15

By law, the IRS cannot issue EITC and ACTC refunds before mid-February. The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or debit cards starting Feb. 27, 2018, if these taxpayers chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return. The IRS must hold the entire refund, not just the part related to these credits.

See the Refund Timing for Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit Filers page and the Refunds FAQs page for more information.

Myth 3: Ordering a Tax Transcript a “Secret Way” to Get a Refund Date

Ordering a tax transcript will not help taxpayers find out when they will get their refund. The IRS notes that the information on a transcript does not necessarily reflect the amount or timing of a refund. While taxpayers can use a transcript to validate past income and tax filing status for mortgage, student and small business loan applications, they should use “Where’s My Refund?” to check the status of their refund.

Myth 4: Calling the IRS or a Tax Professional Will Provide a Better Refund Date

Many people mistakenly think that talking to the IRS or calling their tax professional is the best way to find out when they will get their refund. In reality, the best way to check the status of a refund is online through the “Where’s My Refund?” tool at IRS.gov or via the IRS2Go mobile app.

The IRS updates the status of refunds once a day, usually overnight, so checking more than once a day will not produce new information. “Where’s My Refund?” has the same information available as IRS telephone assistors so there is no need to call unless requested to do so by the refund tool.

Myth 5: Calling the IRS is the Most Convenient Way to Get Answers to Tax or Refund Questions

The IRS encourages people to check IRS.gov first before calling. The official IRS website – IRS.gov – provides many self-service tools for individuals, businesses and tax professionals. For example, taxpayers can view their tax account, get answers to common questions such as eligibility for a tax benefit or find free tax preparation help.

Myth 6: The IRS will Call or Email Taxpayers about Their Refund

The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Recognize the telltale signs of a scam. See also: How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door.

The IRS will NEVER:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill if taxes are owed.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have people arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

For more information on tax scams see Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts. For more information on phishing scams see Suspicious e-Mails and Identity Theft.

Help for Taxpayers

The IRS reminds taxpayers they have a variety of options to get help filing and preparing their tax return on IRS.gov. Taxpayers can also, if eligible, receive help from a community volunteer. IRS.gov/filing provides complete information on filing options and assistance.

About 70 percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File where IRS partners offer free brand-name software to individuals and families with incomes of $66,000 or less. Free File Fillable Forms provides electronic versions of IRS paper forms to all taxpayers regardless of income. Before starting, please visit our Fillable Forms User's Guide & Help page. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offer free tax help to people who qualify. Go to IRS.gov and enter “free tax prep” in the search box to learn more and find a nearby VITA or TCE site, or download the IRS2Go smartphone app to find a free tax prep provider in your community.

The IRS also reminds taxpayers that a trusted tax professional can provide helpful information and advice about the ever-changing tax code. Tips for choosing a return preparer and details about national tax professional groups are available on IRS.gov.

2017 TAX REFORM

President Trump just signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, but what does this mean for you and are there any tax moves you can make before December 31st? Feel free to give our office a call...we are here to help! (we will be closed December 25th & 26th for the Christmas holiday).

Congress is enacting the biggest tax reform law in thirty years, one that will make fundamental changes in the way you, your family and your business calculate your federal income tax bill, and the amount of federal tax you will pay. Since most of the changes will go into effect next year, there's still a narrow window of time before year-end to soften or avoid the impact of crackdowns and to best position yourself for the tax breaks that may be heading your way. Here's a quick rundown of last-minute moves you should think about making.

Lower tax rates coming. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will reduce tax rates for many taxpayers, effective for the 2018 tax year. Additionally, many businesses, including those operated as passthroughs, such as partnerships, may see their tax bills cut.

The general plan of action to take advantage of lower tax rates next year is to defer income into next year. Some possibilities follow:

·         If you are about to convert a regular IRA to a Roth IRA, postpone your move until next year. That way you'll defer income from the conversion until next year and have it taxed at lower rates.

·         Earlier this year, you may have already converted a regular IRA to a Roth IRA but now you question the wisdom of that move, as the tax on the conversion will be subject to a lower tax rate next year. You can unwind the conversion to the Roth IRA by doing a recharacterization—making a trustee-to-trustee transfer from the Roth to a regular IRA. This way, the original conversion to a Roth IRA will be cancelled out. But you must complete the recharacterization before year-end. Starting next year, you won't be able to use a recharacterization to unwind a regular-IRA-to-Roth-IRA conversion.

·         If you run a business that renders services and operates on the cash basis, the income you earn isn't taxed until your clients or patients pay. So, if you hold off on billings until next year—or until so late in the year that no payment will likely be received this year—you will likely succeed in deferring income until next year.

·         If your business is on the accrual basis, deferral of income till next year is difficult but not impossible. For example, you might, with due regard to business considerations, be able to postpone completion of a last-minute job until 2018, or defer deliveries of merchandise until next year (if doing so won't upset your customers). Taking one or more of these steps would postpone your right to payment, and the income from the job or the merchandise, until next year. Keep in mind that the rules in this area are complex and may require a tax professional's input.

·         The reduction or cancellation of debt generally results in taxable income to the debtor. So, if you are planning to make a deal with creditors involving debt reduction, consider postponing action until January to defer any debt cancellation income into 2018.

Disappearing or reduced deductions, larger standard deduction. Beginning next year, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspends or reduces many popular tax deductions in exchange for a larger standard deduction. Here's what you can do about this right now:

·         Individuals (as opposed to businesses) will only be able to claim an itemized deduction of up to $10,000 ($5,000 for a married taxpayer filing a separate return) for the total of (1) state and local property taxes; and (2) state and local income taxes. To avoid this limitation, pay the last installment of estimated state and local taxes for 2017 no later than Dec. 31, 2017, rather than on the 2018 due date. But don't prepay in 2017 a state income tax bill that will be imposed next year – Congress says such a prepayment won't be deductible in 2017. However, Congress only forbade prepayments for state income taxes, not property taxes, so a prepayment on or before Dec. 31, 2017, of a 2018 property tax installment is may be okay depending on your county.

·         The itemized deduction for charitable contributions won't be chopped. But because most other itemized deductions will be eliminated in exchange for a larger standard deduction (e.g., $24,000 for joint filers), charitable contributions after 2017 may not yield a tax benefit for many because they won't be able to itemize deductions. If you think you will fall in this category, consider accelerating some charitable giving into 2017.

·         The new law temporarily boosts itemized deductions for medical expenses. For 2017 and 2018 these expenses can be claimed as itemized deductions to the extent they exceed a floor equal to 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). Before the new law, the floor was 10% of AGI, except for 2017 it was 7.5% of AGI for age-65-or-older taxpayers. But keep in mind that next year many individuals will have to claim the standard deduction because, for post-2017 years, many itemized deductions will be eliminated and the standard deduction will be increased. If you won't be able to itemize deductions after this year, but will be able to do so this year, consider accelerating “discretionary” medical expenses into this year. For example, before the end of the year, get new glasses or contacts, or see if you can squeeze in expensive dental work such as an implant.

Other year-end strategies. Here are some other last minute moves that can save tax dollars in view of the new tax law:

·         The new law substantially increases the alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption amount, beginning next year. There may be steps you can take now to take advantage of that increase. For example, the exercise of an incentive stock option (ISO) can result in AMT complications. So, if you hold any ISOs, it may be wise to postpone exercising them until next year. And, for various deductions, e.g., depreciation and the investment interest expense deduction, the deduction will be curtailed if you are subject to the AMT. If the higher 2018 AMT exemption means you won't be subject to the 2018 AMT, it may be worthwhile, via tax elections or postponed transactions, to push such deductions into 2018.

·         Like-kind exchanges are a popular way to avoid current tax on the appreciation of an asset, but after Dec. 31, 2017, such swaps will be possible only if they involve real estate that isn't held primarily for sale. So, if you are considering a like-kind swap of other types of property, do so before year-end. The new law says the old, far more liberal like-kind exchange rules will continue to apply to exchanges of personal property if you either dispose of the relinquished property or acquire the replacement property on or before Dec. 31, 2017.

·         For decades, businesses have been able to deduct 50% of the cost of entertainment directly related to or associated with the active conduct of a business. For example, if you take a client to a nightclub after a business meeting, you can deduct 50% of the cost if strict substantiation requirements are met. But under the new law, for amounts paid or incurred after Dec. 31, 2017, there's no deduction for such expenses. So, if you've been thinking of entertaining clients and business associates, do so before year-end.

·         The new law suspends the deduction for moving expenses after 2017 (except for certain members of the Armed Forces), and also suspends the tax-free reimbursement of employment-related moving expenses. So, if you're in the midst of a job-related move, try to incur your deductible moving expenses before year-end, or if the move is connected with a new job and you're getting reimbursed by your new employer, press for a reimbursement to be made to you before year-end.

·         Under current law, various employee business expenses, e.g., employee home office expenses, are deductible as itemized deductions if those expenses plus certain other expenses exceed 2% of adjusted gross income. The new law suspends the deduction for employee business expenses paid after 2017. So, we should determine whether paying additional employee business expenses in 2017, that you would otherwise pay in 2018, would provide you with an additional 2017 tax benefit. Also, now would be a good time to talk to your employer about changing your compensation arrangement—for example, your employer reimbursing you for the types of employee business expenses that you have been paying yourself up to now, and lowering your salary by an amount that approximates those expenses. In most cases, such reimbursements would not be subject to tax.

Please keep in mind that we've described only some of the year-end moves that should be considered in light of the new tax law. If you would like more details about any aspect of how the new law may affect you, please do not hesitate to call us at 303.678.5392. Our office will be closed Monday and Tuesday, December 25th and 26th for the Christmas holiday.

 

Estimated Taxes

With 10 million taxpayers a year facing estimated tax penalties, the IRS offers some simple tips to help prevent a surprise at tax time.

People pay taxes on income through withholding on their paycheck or through estimated tax payments. Taxpayers who pay enough tax throughout the year can avoid a large tax bill and penalties when they file their return.

Taxpayers should make estimated tax payments if:

  • The tax withheld from their income does not cover their tax for the year.
  • They have income without withholdings. Some examples are interest, dividends, alimony, self-employment income, capital gains, prizes or awards.

Here are five actions taxpayers can take to avoid a large bill and estimated tax penalties when they file their return. They can:

  • Use Form 1040-ES. Individuals, sole proprietors, partners and S corporation shareholders can use  this form to figure estimated tax. This form helps someone calculate their expected income, taxes, deductions and credits for the year. They can then figure their estimated tax payments.  
  • Use the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov. This tool helps users figure how much money their employer should withhold from their pay so they don’t have too much or too little tax withheld. The results from the calculator can also help them fill out their Form W-4. Taxpayers whose income isn’t paid evenly throughout the year, can check Publication 505 instead of the calculator.  
  • Have more tax withheld. Taxpayers with a regular paycheck can have more tax withheld from it. To do this, they must fill out a new Form W-4 and give it to their employer. This is a good option for taxpayers who participate in a sharing economy activity as a side job or part-time business.  
  • Use estimated payments to pay other taxes. Self-employed individuals can make estimated tax payments to pay both income tax and self-employment tax. Self-employment tax includes Social Security and Medicare.  
  • Use Form W-4P. Generally, pension and annuity plans withhold tax from retirees’ payments. Recipients of these payments can adjust their withholding using Form W-4P and give it to their payer.

 

 

It's FAFSA time!

Beginning October 1, students and families can file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which serves as the basis for need-based aid dispensed by the federal government, the states and individual college campuses.

Even if students don’t know what school(s) they will apply to for the 2018-2019 academic year, the FAFSA should be filed as early as possible, to be considered for federal financial aid and to increase the odds of receiving aid that is dispersed on a first-come, first-serve basis, including work-study. Filing the FAFSA is also a requirement for parents who intend to take a federal PLUS loan. Finally, filing early reduces the chances of missing financial aid deadlines, which differ by state and school.

The federal deadline for filing the FAFSA for the 2018-2019 academic year is June 30, 2019.

For more information, call our office, or click on this link.

http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2017/09/26/its-fafsa-time-get-your-clients-ready?slreturn=1507137593

Important Scam Info from the IRS

A dangerous email scam currently is circulating nationwide and targeting employers, including tax exempt entities, universities and schools, government and private-sector businesses. The scammer poses as an internal executive requesting employee Forms W-2 and Social Security Number information from company payroll or human resources departments. They may even send an initial “Hi, are you in today” message before the request.

The IRS has established a process that will allow employers and payroll service providers to quickly report any data losses related to the W-2 scam. See details at Form W-2/SSN Data Theft: Information for Businesses and Payroll Service Providers. If notified in time, the IRS can take steps to prevent employees from being victimized by identity thieves filing fraudulent returns in their names. There also is information about how to report receiving the scam email even if you did not fall victim.

As a reminder, tax professionals who experience a data breach also should quickly report the incident to the IRS. Tax professionals may contact their local stakeholder liaison. See details at Data Theft Information for Tax Professionals.

Avoid the Rush: Be Prepared to Validate Identity if Calling the IRShttps://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/avoid-the-rush-be-prepared-to-validate-identity-if-calling-the-irs

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service said mid-February marks the agency’s busiest time of the year for telephone calls. The IRS is reminding taxpayers who have questions about their tax accounts to be prepared to validate their identity when speaking with an IRS assistor. This will help avoid the need for a repeat call.

The IRS recognizes the importance of protecting taxpayers’ identities. That’s why IRS call center assistors take great care to make certain that they only discuss personal information with the taxpayer or someone authorized to speak on the taxpayer’s behalf.

Customer service representatives can answer refund questions beginning 21 days after the return was filed. Taxpayers should use “Where’s My Refund?” to track the status of their refund. Taxpayers who are e-filing their return and need their prior year adjusted gross income should use the Get Transcript tool on IRS.gov. IRS telephone assistors cannot provide prior-year adjusted gross income over the phone for filing purposes.

Where’s My Refund?” will be updated Feb. 18 for the vast majority of early filers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. Before Feb. 18, some taxpayers may see a projected date or a message that the IRS is processing their return.

By law, the IRS is required to hold EITC and ACTC refunds until Feb. 15. However, taxpayers may not see those refunds until the week of Feb. 27. Due to differing timeframes with financial institutions, weekends and the Presidents Day holiday, these refunds likely will not start arriving in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of Feb. 27 -- if there are no processing issues with the tax return and the taxpayer chose direct deposit.

The IRS phone assistors do not have additional information on refund dates beyond what taxpayers have access to on "Where's My Refund?”. Given high call volumes, taxpayers should not call unless directed to do so by the refund tool. In addition, a common myth is that people can get their refund date earlier by ordering a tax transcript. There is no such "secret" option to find a refund date by calling the IRS or ordering a transcript; just check "Where's My Refund?" once a day.

If Calling About a Personal Tax Account

Before calling about a personal tax account, have the following information handy:

  • Social Security numbers and birth dates for those listed on the tax return
  • An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for those without a Social Security number (SSN)
  • Filing status – Single, Head of Household, Married Filing Joint or Married Filing Separate
  • Prior-year tax return. The IRS may need to verify identity before answering certain questions
  • A copy of the tax return in question
  • Any letters or notices received from the IRS.

If Calling About a Letter 4883C

At this time of year, the IRS begins sending letters to taxpayers inquiring about suspicious tax returns it has identified. It’s important for the IRS and the taxpayer to confirm whether or not the taxpayer actually filed the return in question. Taxpayers have 30 days to call, which allows time to avoid the rush around Presidents’ Day.

To expedite the process when calling, taxpayers MUST have: 

  • The IRS letter  
  • Copy of prior year tax return (if filed)
  • Current year tax return (if filed)  
  • Any supporting documents for each year's return (such as W-2's, 1099's, Schedule C, Schedule F, etc.)

If Calling About Someone Else’s Account

IRS call center assistors will only speak with the taxpayer or their legally designated representative. Before calling, have the following information handy:

If Calling About a Deceased Taxpayer

Be prepared to fax:

To better serve taxpayers around the President’s Day holiday, the peak time of the year for telephone calls to the IRS, the IRS toll-free lines will be open Saturday, Feb. 18, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (callers’ local time) and Monday, Feb. 20, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (callers’ local time).

This tip is part of the IRS Avoid the Rush news release series designed to provide taxpayers with the information they need, when they need it. More details on this series, including information on additional online resources, are available on IRS.gov.

Fake Charities on the IRS “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax Scams for 2017


WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers about groups masquerading as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting contributors, one of the “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams for the 2017 filing season.

"Fake charities set up by scam artists to steal your money or personal information are a recurring problem," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "Taxpayers should take the time to research organizations before giving their hard-earned money.”

Compiled annually, the “Dirty Dozen” lists a variety of common scams that taxpayers may encounter anytime, but many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their returns or hire someone to prepare their taxes.

Perpetrators of illegal scams can face significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution. IRS Criminal Investigation works closely with the Department of Justice to shut down scams and prosecute the criminals behind them.

The IRS offers these basic tips to taxpayers making charitable donations:

  • Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, which allows people to find legitimate, qualified charities to which donations may be tax-deductible. Legitimate charities will provide their Employer Identification Numbers (EIN), if requested, which can be used to verify their legitimacy through EO Select Check. It is advisable to double check using a charity's EIN.
  • Don’t give out personal financial information, such as Social Security numbers or passwords, to anyone who solicits a contribution. Scam artists may use this information to steal identities and money from victims. Donors often use credit cards to make donations. Be cautious when disclosing credit card numbers. Confirm that those soliciting a donation are calling from a legitimate charity.
  • Don’t give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the gift.

Impersonation of Charitable Organizations

Another long-standing type of abuse or fraud involves scams that occur in the wake of significant natural disasters.

Following major disasters, it’s common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers. Scam artists can use a variety of tactics. Some scammers operating bogus charities may contact people by telephone or email to solicit money or financial information. They may even directly contact disaster victims and claim to be working for or on behalf of the IRS to help the victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds.

Fraudsters may attempt to get personal financial information or Social Security numbers that can be used to steal the victims’ identities or financial resources. Bogus websites may solicit funds for disaster victims.

To help disaster victims, the IRS encourages taxpayers to donate to recognized charities. Disaster victims can call the IRS toll-free disaster assistance telephone number (866-562-5227). Phone assistors will answer questions about tax relief or disaster-related tax issues.

Find legitimate and qualified charities with the Select Check search tool on IRS.gov. (EINs are frequently called federal tax identification numbers, which is the same as an EIN).

IRS and Security Summit Partners Warn of Fake Tax Bill Emails

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners today issued an alert to taxpayers and tax professionals to be on guard against fake emails purporting to contain an IRS tax bill related to the Affordable Care Act.

The IRS has received numerous reports around the country of scammers sending a fraudulent version of CP2000 notices for tax year 2015. Generally, the scam involves an email that includes the fake CP2000 as an attachment. The issue has been reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for investigation.

The CP2000 is a notice commonly mailed to taxpayers through the United States Postal Service. It is never sent as part of an email to taxpayers. The indicators are:

  • These notices are being sent electronically, even though the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or through social media platforms;
  • The CP 2000 notices appear to be issued from an Austin, Texas, address;
  • The underreported issue is related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requesting information regarding 2014 coverage;
  • The payment voucher lists the letter number as 105C.

The fraudulent CP2000 notice included a payment request that taxpayers mail a check made out to “I.R.S.” to the “Austin Processing Center” at a Post Office Box address. This is in addition to a “payment” link within the email itself.

IRS impersonation scams take many forms: threatening telephone calls, phishing emails and demanding letters. Learn more at Reporting Phishing and Online Scams.

Taxpayers or tax professionals who receive this scam email should forward it to phishing@irs.gov  and then delete it from their email account.

Taxpayers and tax professionals generally can do a keyword search on IRS.gov for any notice they receive. Taxpayers who receive a notice or letter can view explanations and images of common correspondence on IRS.gov at Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter.

To determine if a CP2000 notice you received in the mail is real, see the Understanding Your CP2000 Notice, which includes an image of a real notice.

A CP2000 is generated by the IRS Automated Underreporter Program when income reported from third-party sources such as an employer does not match the income reported on the tax return. It provides extensive instructions to taxpayers about what to do if they agree or disagree that additional tax is owed.

It also requests that a check be made out to “United States Treasury” if the taxpayer agrees additional tax is owed. Or, if taxpayers are unable to pay, it provides instructions for payment options such as installment payments.

The IRS and its Security Summit partners – the state tax agencies and the private-sector tax industry – are conducting a campaign to raise awareness among taxpayer and tax professionals about increasing their security and becoming familiar with various tax-related scams. Learn more at Taxes. Security. Together. or Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself.

Taxpayers and tax professional should always beware of any unsolicited email purported to be from the IRS or any unknown source. They should never open an attachment or click on a link within an email sent by sources they do not know.