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Some folks are taking seriously the traditional tax advice to start annual tax filing tasks early. Unfortunately, those folks are crooks. The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners in state tax agencies and the tax industry have announced that they're seeing early signs that cyber criminals already are working to infiltrate the tax process. Tax practitioners are the prime targets as the 2018 filing season's opening on Jan. 29 nears. Fraudsters are sending a new round of emails in which they pose as potential clients or even the IRS to trick tax professionals into disclosing sensitive information, according... Read more →


Image courtesy 401kCalculator.org via Flickr Ah, January! A new year, new challenges, new opportunities and old tax tasks. The Internal Revenue Service doesn't give us much time to settle into a new tax year. In fact, it's right there, barely two weeks in, reminding many of us that we have a major tax obligation from the prior tax year to take care of or else. I'm talking, of course, about estimated taxes. These four extra tax payments are made by folks who get income that doesn't have income taxes withheld. If you don't pay, or don't pay on time, you'll... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service will start accepting tax year 2017 returns on Monday, Jan. 29. Other key dates to note this 2018 filing season include the start of Free File (Jan. 12), the earliest some tax-credit-related refunds can be issued (Feb. 15+/-) and Tax Day (April 17). Ready, set, file ... on the 29th: Get out your brand new 2018 calendar and mark Jan. 29. That's the day the Internal Revenue Service will start accepting 2017 tax year returns. That's about a week later than the annual filing season started last year, meaning the agency will be under added pressure... Read more →


Welcome 2018! Yes, I know we're well into day four of this brand spanking New Year. But we all get a pass on the first day to recover from our New Year Eve parties. And days two and three were consumed by looking back at what was accomplished tax-wise in 2017, looking ahead at what we can expect from taxes in 2018, chatting with fellow tax folk (OK, maybe that was just me) and dealing with scary winter weather. Bundle up, all my friends along the East Coast! Now, though, it's time to get down to tax business. Time for... Read more →


Good news workers. You have one less thing to worry about in 2018 in connection with the impending new tax laws. The Internal Revenue Service says that even though many revamped individual tax laws kick in on New Year's Day, there's no need to re-do your current W-4. This tax document, pictured above in case it's been a while since you made any payroll withholding changes to your paycheck, is what your boss used to calculate how much in taxes to take out of your pay. There had been some concern, primarily from payroll administrators, that the coming tax law... Read more →


We've only got five days left in 2017 and just three business days. That means that if you're making any tax moves, you'd best get on the stick! You also need to look at how your 20176 year-end tax actions might be affected by the new tax laws that take effect on Jan. 1, 2018. I've been writing about the latest tax changes for months now. You could find those stories by simply looking at the ol' blog's archives and checking out all the posts tagged as "tax reform" (even though this latest bill is really more tax cuts than... Read more →


Now that the Republican-sponsored massive tax bill is on its way to the Oval Office, taxpayers have two questions. The first is, "Will it help or hurt me when I get around to filing my federal tax return in 2019?" A variety of calculators offer some very broad hints as to that answer. The second is, "Will I see any benefits before the annual tax-filing time?" GOP members of Congress and the White House say yes. You should see the effect of the new tax rates, specifically more spending money, reflected in your February paychecks, promise Donald J. Trump and... Read more →


Experian credit reporting bureau replaces hacked competitor Equifax as supplier of taxpayer identity proof to Internal Revenue Service. Remember when credit reporting bureau Equifax was hacked? Sure you do because you probably were among the more than 143 million folks whose data, collected without your knowledge or consent, was exposed to criminals. Remember when the Internal Revenue Service had a deal with Equifax to tighten security processes used by taxpayers to get their tax information online from the agency? You probably do, since that no-bid Equifax-IRS contract got a lot of attention. Well, the IRS agreed to revisit that $7.25... Read more →


Feeling generous? Good. It's Giving Tuesday. This philanthropic effort, usually seen as #GivingTuesday on social media, began in 2012 as a counter to the frantic shopping on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday's goal is to fight the commercialization and consumerism of Christmas and other end-of-year holidays. Instead of buying more goods for family, friends or yourself, Giving Tuesday organizers urge gifts to nonprofits. Such donations, the Internal Revenue Service reminds us, could produce a gift for you — a tax deduction — when you file your annual tax return next year. As noted in a... Read more →


Today is Cyber Monday, the first post-Thanksgiving weekday when millions of shoppers go online seeking holiday bargains. It's also the start of National Tax Security Awareness Week. For the next five days, the Internal Revenue Service will focus on ways to protect tax and financial data during this hectic holiday season. Each day this week, the IRS and its Security Summit partners in state tax offices and the tax industry will focus on one issue that poses a threat to individuals and businesses. In addition to highlighting the issues, these groups will offer steps we can take to protect ourselves... Read more →


It's going to be a mixed Thanksgiving in Internal Revenue Service households. The agency definitely won't be thankful for the Senate funding bill released on Nov. 20. That Financial Services & General Government Appropriations measure proposes the IRS get $11.1 billion in fiscal year 2018. That's $149 million less than it received for the 2017 fiscal year. However, the IRS can be grateful that the funding is close to the $11.235 billion that then IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said the agency needs to maintain its current performance levels. And it's $111 million more than what Donald J. Trump's budget recommended... Read more →


John Koskinen's days of giving formal testimony as head of the IRS ended when his commissioner term concluded earlier this month. However, an interview he gave the week after leaving the tax agency post has raised questions about Donald Trump's tax returns and taxpayer privacy. Remember Donald J. Trump's tax returns? Those he said during the campaign that he'd share with America as soon as the IRS completed its audit of them? Well, we still don't know if the IRS has finished examining those prior year filings, but apparently Trump did sometime this year file his 2016 taxes. The Administration... Read more →


IRS Commissioner John Koskinen makes a point during a Congressional hearing. John Koskinen did it! He survived his term as Internal Revenue Service Commissioner. Today is the last day for the tax agency's 48th commissioner. Officially, his term expires on Sunday, Nov. 12. Since Friday, Nov. 10, is the federal Veterans Day holiday, today is the last day Koskinen will come into his office in downtown Washington, D.C. It was not an easy four years. Fighting to keep the job: Koskinen came to the job in December 2013 while it was in the midst of the politically charges and polarizing... Read more →


Nov. 18 is the last day this year that the Internal Revenue Service will accept electronically filed tax returns. Wait, you say. Didn't the final deadline for sending in 2016 returns come and go on Oct. 16? You are correct, tax savvy calendar watchers. But folks who were granted an extension to file until Jan. 31, 2018, might be able to take advantage of the extended e-file option. Disaster-related added time: The Jan. 31 deadline applies to millions of taxpayers who live in what this year was declared a federal disaster area and who got a six-month extension to file... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's 2018 filing season calendar isn't quite this messy, but it's not firmed up yet. The House Ways and Means Committee today started marking up, otherwise known as tweaking, the Republican-driven tax reform bill. Early word is that many provisions you may have read about will change. C'est la legislative process. Meanwhile, since most of the new tax laws won't take effect until Jan. 1, we can focus on our 2017 returns that will be filed under the existing tax laws. Most of us are breathing a sigh of relief that the tax moves we've made so... Read more →


After four and a half years, the Internal Revenue Service Tea Party targeting scandal has been resolved. On Thursday, Oct. 26, the Justice Department announced that it has entered into proposed settlements with the two major challenges by conservative groups against the IRS. Substantial payments to plaintiffs: While the Justice Department did not discuss deal specifics, the Wall Street Journal reported that the payouts to plaintiffs in the Linchpins of Liberty and Norcal Tea Party Patriots cases could be between $1 million and $10 million. The conservative groups who joined the lawsuits had alleged in 2013 that their applications for... Read more →


Welcome to Part 7 of the ol' blog's series on 2018 inflation adjustments. Today we look at changes to the Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amounts and next year's Social Security wage base. You can find links to all 2018 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 tax returns that are due in 2019. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2017 amounts to be used in filing 2017 tax returns due next April. When you're hit by the AMT, or Alternative Minimum Tax, you might be tempted to rearrange the... Read more →


Where the heck has 2017 gone? The countdown clock over in the ol' blog's right column is steadily ticking away the time left until Dec. 31, the deadline for most moves that could affect this year's taxes. The Internal Revenue Service, however, has its eyes on November, which is just little more than a week away. The start of that 11th month effectively is the cutoff date for the federal tax agency to get ready for the next year's filing season. If the IRS can't get some certainty as to how to update forms, instructions and operational processes, the start... Read more →


Welcome to Part 2 of the ol' blog's 2018 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Oct. 19 with a look at next year's — if there isn't tax reform or cuts by or before then — income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at standard and itemized deductions, personal exemptions and limitations on these tax situations that apply to some wealthier taxpayers. Note: The 2018 figures apply to 2018 returns that are due in 2019. New tax laws also have altered some of the 2018 amounts and are noted in the post below. For comparison purposes, you'll... Read more →


This is the first in a 10-part series on the 2018 tax year inflation adjustments. Links to the other posts are at this end of this article. When this post was first published, the White House and Congressional Republicans were still hoping to get some tax changes finalized by the end of the year. The IRS, however, isn't waiting didn't wait on Capitol Hill. The Internal Revenue Service on Thursday, Oct. 19, released its annual compilation of tax provisions that are affected by inflation. It also issued next year's retirement plan contribution changes. The upshot is that most amounts will... Read more →