IRS Feed

Image courtesy SimpsonsWorld via Giphy.com The Tuesday after Presidents Day generally is the busiest day of the year for calls to the Internal Revenue Service's toll-free help line. That also means that callers find themselves on hold. Such waiting, compounded by being forced to listen to tunes that would never ever make your Spotify playlist, is common throughout the filing season. That then leads to taxpayer frustration, which often prompts filers to try different avenues to get answers to their questions. Don't, however, just randomly call any IRS phone number seeking tax help, cautions the IRS. And definitely don't call... Read more →


Most taxpayers now are focusing on completing their annual tax returns. But if we have to deal with the Internal Revenue Service to finish that Form 1040, or if the agency subsequently has some questions about it, Uncle Sam's tax collector wants us to know we have some inalienable tax rights. The 10 components of Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) are this week's By the Numbers figure. Here they are: 1. The Right to Be Informed: Taxpayers have the right to know what they need to do to comply with the tax laws. They are entitled to clear explanations of... Read more →


Beavis (sans Butt-head) offers callers, uh, help? (Image via Giphy.com) Looking for tax filing help from the Internal Revenue Service? Prepare beforehand. Tax identity theft concerns mean you'll have to prove to the IRS that you are you if you call the agency's tax hotline. And if you want face-to-face help at your local Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC), you'll have to make an appointment. Telephone tax ID issues: I know. You're already unhappy with the IRS phone hotline. The IRS knows, too. Every filing season answering taxpayers' questions telephonically is on the agency's to-improve list. Last year, it even opened... Read more →


Your tax refund showed up in your bank account! Party time, right? Wrong. It's possible that the money isn't really connected to your filing. It could be part of a new tax scam that's appeared this filing season. And crooks are using even more chicanery to get the money that's in your account, from posing (once again) as Internal Revenue Service agents to pretending to be debt collectors (you knew this would eventually happen). But before this latest effort to steal your tax refund got to this point, it started with stealing your tax identity. Here's the tax tale in... Read more →


Same old, same old. That's the message the Internal Revenue Service got today when the Trump Administration released its fiscal year 2019 budget. The IRS' base budget amount is about the same as prior years and some old tax enforcement ideas are proposed again. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney discussing the Trump Administration budget last year. For release of the 2019 fiscal year budget, Mulvaney decided to stay off camera "because it's really boring." You can decide if he was right by listening to his remarks yourself via C-SPAN. It's no secret that the Internal Revenue Service... Read more →


Elmer Irey headed the Internal Revenue Bureau's Intelligence Unit in the 1930s. It was under Irey's direction that evidence was gathered leading to the conviction of Al Capone for failure to pay his income tax. Read more about Irey and Capone at The Mob Museum. I'm a big sports fan. But sometimes I need a break. So in my channel flipping today to find something other than the Olympics, soccer/futbol, NHL hockey and part 1 of NASCAR's 83-step Daytona 500 qualifying process, I ran across one of my favorite movies, "The Untouchables." I'm talking the 2007 version, with Kevin Costner... Read more →


While most investors have been closely following the recent gyrations of the stock market, fans of cryptocurrency also have been on their own frenzied financial journey. One bitcoin, as of this morning, was worth almost $8,433. I'd be happy with that value, but that's less than half what the cryptocurrency was worth in mid-December. On Dec. 16, 2017, the digital currency topped out at more $19,000. The cryptocurrency can be spent like real money — don't email me bitcoin et al fans; it will always be just one step above Monopoly money to me — but many tax collectors worldwide... Read more →


Dealing with taxes is tough enough, but when folks get the wrong information, things can go really bad really fast. That happens every filing season. Someone's uncle who works down the hall from a tax attorney says this. A neighbor's accountant brother says that. And, of course, there's the internet, probably the greatest single source of, to borrow a phrase, fake tax news. The 2018 filing season is in full swing; it officially opened on Jan. 29, with Free File taking submissions since Jan. 12. Most of the folks who've already filed did so because they're expecting refunds. With those... Read more →


Rovio Entertainment, creators of Angry Birds, and the National Football League have teamed up to create a Super Bowl themed video game. But unlike the bird above, the Philadelphia Eagles are far from angry today after winning the NFL championship last night in Super Bowl LII. It was not a super Sunday for either the New England Patriots or Nevada's casinos. When all the numbers are tallied, it looks like the Silver State's sports books might lose only their third Super Bowl in 28 years thanks to the Philadelphia Eagles' 41-33 upset of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl... Read more →


Tom Brady and his New England Patriots teammates look to win back-to-back Super Bowls on Sunday, Feb. 4. (Screen shot from NFL Super Bowl LII preview video) We're two days away from Super Bowl LII. That means it's time for my annual post on how gambling winnings are taxable income. Here goes. The American Gaming Association (AGA) estimates Americans will wager approximately $4.76 billion on Sunday's National Football League championship game. More than $4.6 billion of that, what the AGA calls "a staggering 97 percent of total wagers" on the game between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, will... Read more →


Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren might benefit by claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The IRS has additional information for these taxpayers and other special groups and situations where the EITC could help. Friday, Jan. 26, was EITC Awareness Day, the 12th annual event during with the Internal Revenue Service makes a special effort to get the word out about this tax break that millions of filers ignore each year. Actually, the tax agency made special efforts, plural, yesterday. There were more than 250 total outreach events and activities around the country to promote the Earned Income Tax... Read more →


Every tax filing season, millions overlook the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a tax break that could save them thousands of dollars. Nationwide, the Internal Revenue Service says that every tax season around 20 percent of filers who could claim this credit don't. That's an amazing statistic in a tax culture that's obsessed with getting refunds. Why EITC is ignored: So why are so many filers leaving all those tax dollars in the U.S. Treasury's account? There are three main reasons. First, some people think they make too much money to claim the EITC. True, this tax credit was created... Read more →


UPDATE, Feb. 8, 2018: The Trump Administration made it official this afternoon, announcing Donald J. Trump's intent to nominate Charles P. Rettig as the next commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. If confirmed by the Senate, Rettig will serve a five-year term that began Nov. 12, 2017, when prior commissioner John Koskinen left. Tax practitioners are generally pleased to see someone from their ranks selected to helm the IRS. Capitol Hill reaction also was positive. "With a long history of helping families and job creators navigate the tax code and stand up to the IRS when the agency is wrong,... Read more →


Free tax-preparation and filing help, like that shown here at a Rutherford Country, Tennessee, VITA office, is available at thousands of sites across the country. You need help with your taxes but you can't afford a professional. A couple of community-based, Internal Revenue Service endorsed and, best of all, free tax filing help options may just be the answer. If you earn around $54,000 or less, have a disability, are elderly or speak limited English, you may qualify for free tax help from IRS-certified volunteers at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) locations nationwide.... Read more →


One week from today, on Monday, Jan. 29, the Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting 2017 tax year returns. Some folks have already filed, including for free via Free File, which actually opened on Jan. 12. Others, however, will be, shall we say, more deliberative, pushing off filing until closer to April's Tax Day or later thanks to an extension. While you need to take as much time as you need to complete your Form 1040 accurately and fully, it can be beneficial to file earlier rather than later in the tax season. Here are six reasons why early tax... Read more →


Photo courtesy Mike via Flickr CC Even though the federal government is shut down, one thing U.S. travelers heading overseas don't have to worry about is getting a passport. The U.S. Department of State says it will continue to issue the blue-bound international travel documents. It has that option since passport services are funded by fees, meaning they essentially pay for themselves and don't rely solely on funds authorized by Congress. But if you're a world traveler who owes back taxes, you could be stuck here at home. The hold comes not from State, but from the Internal Revenue Service.... Read more →


With the official start of the 2018 tax filing season just more than a week away, folks have been collecting important tax statements they'll need to file their returns. Identity thieves, unfortunately, are among those looking for those documents, particularly W-2 forms that most filers use to report their wage income. That's why the Internal Revenue Service is urging everyone to be on guard against the return of the Form W-2 phishing scam that last year made victims of hundreds of organizations and thousands of employees. Costly employment-related tax scam: The W-2 scam has emerged as one of the most... Read more →


Photo by Alan Cleaver via Flickr CC The federal government might shut down at midnight on Friday, Jan. 19. What will that mean to your taxes? The Internal Revenue Service has opened its Free File online tax preparation and e-filing program. Since the IRS simply acts as the portal to the dozen private tax software manufacturers who actually handle the returns, things there should operate as usual. That means that the taxpayers' returns now being filed through Free File will still be queued up, awaiting processing when the 2018 tax filing season officially starts on Monday, Jan. 29. But what... Read more →


Anger over the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's limits on federal tax deductions for state and local taxes (SALT) has spilled over into 2018, with lawmakers from high-tax states still looking for ways to undo this provision. Some have petitioned the Internal Revenue Service for revised, more filer-friendly property tax guidance. Other have introduced legislation to fully restore the now-limited SALT itemized write-offs. You thought the battle over paying 2018 local property taxes so that they could be claimed on 2017 tax returns ended on Jan. 1. You were wrong. Asking IRS to reconsider: Sen. Chuck Schumer, Senate minority... Read more →


A collection of Enigma machines and paraphernalia on display at the U.S. National Cryptologic Museum. New York tax officials seized and sold one Enigma owned by "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli to cover his unpaid state taxes. (Photographs courtesy Robert Malmgren via en:User:Matt Crypto/Wikipedia) It's no mystery why folks intentionally skirt tax laws. They don't want to pay. New York, however, has managed to get back some of the taxes that officials say former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli failed to pay the Empire State. New York state tax officials seized a rare Nazi Enigma encryption machine and three historical documents... Read more →