IRS Feed

Those mask pull-off scenes from Mission: Impossible movies are always fun, but real-life impersonators pretending to be from the IRS could cost you dearly. (Screenshot of movie mask reveal montage on YouTube) We're getting closer to the Oct. 15 filing deadline for those who got an extension back in April to fill out their returns. You can tell not only by the countdown clock ticking away on the ol' blog (shameless plug: it's in the narrow right-hand column), but also because tax scammers are back. The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners are warning taxpayers and tax professionals... Read more →


Ransomware has evolved over the last three decades from a targeted cyber attack distributed on literal floppy discs to a major electronic security crisis for individuals, companies and governments. This type of malware typically locks out computer users and locks down their systems until the cyber hijackers are paid to return access to the information. In 2017, WannaCry ransomware went global, infecting more than 200,000 computers across 150 countries. Most recently, almost two dozen Texas towns were victims of a coordinated attack. The Lone Star State electronic lockouts follow patterns set by ransomware demands in Florida, Maryland and New York.... Read more →


Arizona home to be auctioned to pay federal tax debt. I've seen a lot of estate sale signs lately. Either it's an indication of the changing demographics of my part of Austin or folks are trying to fancy up their garage sales. An estate (or renamed garage) sale basically is a way to dispose of most of an owner's property either because family doesn't want their deceased relative's items or the goods need to be sold to make a move easier. Uncle Sam regularly holds his own versions, but in many instances these government sales are to settle tax debts.... Read more →


The tax law changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and its effect on withholding wreaked havoc this filing season. Some folks found, much to their dismay (and stronger reactions…) that for the first time in their tax-paying lives they owed taxes because they didn't have enough tax withheld from their paychecks. The Internal Revenue Service saw this coming. It tried to warn folks, encouraging them to adjust their withholding so that they wouldn't face this predicament. Then the IRS announced an easing of the penalty owed if you under withheld. Twice. Now, with the 2019 tax season... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service is continuing to tweak tax forms, releasing yet another version of the document workers use to figure out their paycheck withholding. The new draft of Form W-4, updated as of Aug. 8 and shown below, incorporated suggestions that Treasury and the IRS got on the version it made public at the end of May. The changes are being made (again) to ensure that taxpayers adjust their withholding to most accurately reflect the tax code changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Click image to see the full Aug. 8, 2019, draft 2020 Form... Read more →


Paycheck withholding is most Americans' introduction to taxes. But even though millions of us have been seeing income taxes come out of our checks for years, the system still is confusing for many. It became a bigger mess this filing season, when folks filed their first tax returns under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes. A lot of them were not amused. The unexpected price of wrong withholding: They discovered that they weren't getting the same big tax refunds they had in prior years. These annual spring payouts had served as distributions from their withholding tax deposits to... Read more →


After the vigils for victims of mass tragedies, efforts to help the victims and survivors appear. Make sure your gifts to such campaigns, especially online crowdfunding ones, go to those who need help and not scammers. (Photo by Catholic Church of England, Mazur/CatholicNewsUK via Flickr CC) Gilroy, California. El Paso, Texas. Dayton, Ohio. In an eight-day span, three separate shootings by lone gunmen in these cities left a total of 35 people dead, 54 injured. Residents in these cities are dealing with unspeakable horror and grief. Most of the rest of us in the United States and across the world... Read more →


National Taxpayer Advocated Nina E. Olson today departs the Internal Revenue Service watchdog office she's held since 2001. An acting advocate, Bridget Roberts, has been named until the position is filled full-time. National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson makes a point, here expressing her concerns about private tax debt collection (you can watch her full testimony at the official video), during one of her many Capitol Hill appearances during her almost two decades as an IRS watchdog. Goodbye and thanks to Nina E. Olson. Today, July 31, is her last as National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA). She is retiring from government... Read more →


Kissing up to the IRS, on this National Lipstick Day or any other, won't help with dubious business expense claims. Your work-related expenses must be ordinary and necessary. My collection of lip colorings, mostly unused since I began working from home. When I quit working in an office, I quit regularly applying makeup. Now I only pull out the mascara and powder and lipstick when I have an in-person meeting or must make a media appearance. So today, National Lipstick Day, really isn't a big deal for me. Others, however, are celebrating, especially by taking advantage of the lipstick deals,... Read more →


Bitcoin and other virtual currencies fascinate me, but that's as far as it goes. I don't own and have never had any interest in cryptocurrencies. I'm basically a say it with cash kind of gal. Part of my crypto trepidation is that I've yet to grasp how Bitcoin is mined, despite the hubby's patient, and repeated, explanations. And like many Senators during a recent hearing on Facebook's proposed Libra digital money, I'm skeptical of the concept (as well as suspicious of the online social media platform proposing it, but that's another blog post). My disavowal of cryptocurrency, however, has been... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners this summer launched a campaign to encourage tax professionals to review and upgrade their security systems. But it looks like the IRS also needs to do some work, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. IRS online option breach spurs inquiries: The GAO has been conducting audits on how the IRS manages its security since the agency sustained a data breach in 2015 of its Get Transcript online service. That attempt by hackers exposed the data of around 104,000 taxpayers to potential identity thieves. The service was offline for... Read more →


Computer hacking ID theft image by Don Hankins via Flickr The $700 million deal reached by the credit-reporting company Equifax and federal and state agencies has brought the issue of identity theft back into the public consciousness. Truth be told, it never really left. Every day, we're bombarded by warnings about how crooks are constantly trying to steal our personal information so they can use it take our money and take over our lives. That's a message the Internal Revenue Service is still working to get out to taxpayers and tax professionals alike. Its latest effort is a six-point tax... Read more →


Mortimer M. Caplin was the 34th commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. He passed away on July 15, 2019, at age 103. (Photo courtesy Caplin & Drysdale via Wikipedia Commons) Fifty years ago this weekend, two Apollo 11 crew members became the first people to set foot on the moon. In doing so, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) fulfilled the dream/challenge that President John F. Kennedy had issued in 1961 of "landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth." While Kennedy didn't live to see that historic accomplishment, another event last week made... Read more →


U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patrick Gordon A year ago, the Internal Revenue Service alerted combat-injured veterans that some of them might be due tax refunds. This is the case for eligible service members who received disability severance payments after 1991 and then claimed that money as income on their tax returns. That was a mistake. The Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2016 says that most veterans who received a one-time, lump-sum disability severance payment when they left the military are entitled to a refund if that payment was claimed as income. To qualify for... Read more →


Arthritis is one of the more common chronic medical conditions that millions of Americans face. There are treatments before you get to the joint replacement stage, but those recurring medical costs can add up, too. I finally filed away all the paper copies of last year's tax documentation and for the first time, I had more medical paperwork than work receipts. Yep, 2018 (like 2017) was one of those medical years. And while I'm still enriching various Austin doctors, labs and hospitals with follow-up care in 2019, my conditions aren't considered chronic. Yet. And no, basic aging doesn't count. A... Read more →


In one tax world case, it does appear that the third time really is a charm. A recent Internal Revenue Service report says that its latest use of private bill collectors to bring in old unpaid taxes is working. In fact, this latest iteration has produced enough additional money to allow the IRS to hire new in-house employees. Third time's a collection charm: The use of private collection agencies, or PCAs as they are known in tax acronymese, was restarted in 2017 after being mandated as part of a 2015 transportation law. It's the third attempt after two previous PCA... Read more →


You don't have to have this many candles on your birthday cake to use Form 1040-SR. Hitting age 65 qualifies you to use file this new form starting next filing season. It's lose three, add one for the Internal Revenue Service when it comes to 2019 tax year forms. Uncle Sam's tax collector is proposing tweaks to the Form 1040 and elimination of three of the six schedules created to go with that annual individual return that was redesigned last year in the wake of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes. But the net result of forms available... Read more →


If the changes to Form 1040 this filing season frustrated you, there's some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the Internal Revenue Service is revising the Form 1040 to be used for 2019 tax filings. No, it's still not quite a postcard. But there will be fewer schedules to file — three instead of six — if your taxes are a bit more complicated. The bad news is that many of us still have to fill out those schedules (and the accompanying forms for additional tax break claims that remained) instead of having things on... Read more →


The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) was created more than 40 years ago as a way to give lower-earning workers a tax break. But from the get-go, the EITC has been problematic. Now, just weeks before the National Taxpayer Advocate retires, her office has offered Congress some suggestions on how to improve the tax credit, as well as how it can be more effectively administered. Some tax credit history: The way we got to today's EITC is almost as complicated and intricate as the tax break itself. When created in 1975, the EITC was supposed to be a temporary tax... Read more →


Washington, D.C., subway car awaiting Red Line passengers. (Photo by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority) Moving from West Texas to Washington, D.C., was a revelation for many reasons. One of the key differences was transportation. The hubby and I came from a part of the country where cars (OK, trucks) were, and still are, the predominant way to get around. Suddenly, as the "On the Town" opening song goes, we were riding in a hole in the ground. We quickly fell in love with the D.C. Metro, even though when we arrived there in 1981, its routes were somewhat limited.... Read more →