menu • links • IRS collection • sales tax • payroll tax • franchising • tax topics • legal topics • legal news • corporation/LLCs • sitemap

News and miscellaneous legal topics – 2017

current | archived: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003

Various legal items emphasizing Missouri and federal taxes, archived from the RSS ("rich site summary") feed xlm logo

The IRS Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center new 4/28/17

This online information center features links to a wealth of useful tools, including Small Business Taxes: The Virtual Workshop and common IRS forms with instructions. Find help on everything from how to get an Employer Identification Number online to how to engage with the IRS during an audit. The IRS Tax Calendar for businesses and Self-Employed is a convenient, at-a-glance resource designed to show key tax dates for businesses. Download the Calendar Connector tool to get the dates even when offline.

The IRS Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center new 4/28/17

A resource for sole proprietors and others who are in business for themselves, this site has many handy tips and references to tax rules a self-employed person may need to know. In addition to many other subjects, taxpayers will find information on:

How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door new 4/21/17

Understand how and when the IRS contacts taxpayers, and how you can determine whether a contact you received is truly from an IRS employee.

The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.

There are special circumstances in which the IRS will call or come to a home or business, such as when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment, or to tour a business as part of an audit or during criminal investigations.

Even then, taxpayers will generally first receive several letters (called “notices”) from the IRS in the mail.

Note that the IRS does not:

If you owe taxes: The IRS instructs taxpayers to make payments to the "United States Treasury.” The IRS provides specific guidelines on how you can make a tax payment at irs.gov/payments.

For more information see the IRS web page on IRS communications with taxpayers.

Private Collection of Some Overdue Federal Taxes Starts in April new 4/4/17

Starting in April 2017, the IRS will begin sending letters to a relatively small group of taxpayers whose overdue federal tax accounts are being assigned to one of four private-sector collection agencies. The new program authorized under a federal law enacted by Congress in December 2015 enables these designated contractors to collect, on the government’s behalf, unpaid tax debts.

The IRS will always notify a taxpayer before transferring their account to a private collection agency (PCA). First, the IRS will send a letter to the taxpayer and their tax representative informing them that their account is being assigned to a PCA and giving the name and contact information for the PCA. This mailing will include a copy of Publication 4518, What You Can Expect When the IRS Assigns Your Account to a Private Collection Agency.

Once the IRS letter is sent, the designated private firm will send its own letter to the taxpayer and their representative confirming the account transfer. To protect the taxpayer’s privacy and security, both the IRS letter and the collection firm’s letter will contain information that will help taxpayers identify the tax amount owed and assure taxpayers that future collection agency calls they may receive are legitimate.

The private collectors will be able to identify themselves as contractors of the IRS collecting taxes. Employees of these collection agencies must follow the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and like IRS employees, must be courteous and must respect taxpayer rights.

The private firms are authorized to discuss payment options, including setting up payment agreements with taxpayers. But as with cases assigned to IRS employees, any tax payment must be made to the IRS, either electronically or by check. A payment should never be sent to the private firm or anyone besides the IRS or the U.S. Treasury. Checks should only be made payable to the United States Treasury. To find out more about available payment options, visit IRS.gov/Payments.

Private firms are not authorized to take enforcement actions against taxpayers. Only IRS employees can take these actions, such as filing a notice of Federal Tax Lien or issuing a levy. To learn more about the new private debt collection program, visit the Private Debt Collection page on IRS.gov.

Only four private groups are participating in this program: (1) CBE Group of Cedar Falls, Iowa; (2) Conserve of Fairport, N.Y.; (3) Performant of Livermore, Calif.; and (4) Pioneer of Horseheads, N.Y. The taxpayer’s account will only be assigned to one of these agencies, never to all four. No other private group is authorized to represent the IRS.

Watch out for Phone Scams

The IRS reminds taxpayers to be on the lookout for scammers posing as private collection firms. People should remember that these private collection firms will only be calling about a tax debt the person has had – and has been aware of – for years and had been contacted about previously in the past by the IRS.

If taxpayers are unsure if they have an unpaid tax debt from a previous year – which is what the private collection firms will handle – they can go to IRS.gov and check their account balance: www.irs.gov/balancedue. If the account balance says zero, that means nothing is due, and you typically wouldn't’t be getting a contact from the IRS or the private firm.

Here are some things the scammers often do but the IRS and its contractors will never do.

Don’t Wait to Hear from the IRS or a Contractor

As always, the IRS encourages taxpayers behind on their tax obligations to come forward and either pay what they owe or set up a suitable payment plan. This means there’s no need to wait for a phone call or letter from the IRS or any of its contractors. Frequently, taxpayers qualify for one of several payment options, and taking advantage of them is often easier than many people think. These include the following:

IR-2017-74, April 4, 2017

Eligible small businesses can apply all or part of their research credit against their payroll tax liability instead of just their income tax liability new 4/4/17

Notice 2017-23, posted March 30, 2017 on IRS.gov, provides guidance on a new provision included in the Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes (PATH) Act enacted in December 2015.

An eligible small business with qualifying research expenses can choose to apply up to $250,000 of its research credit against its payroll tax liability, by filling out Form 6765, Credit for Increasing Research Activities, and attaching it to a timely-filed business income tax return. After choosing this option, a small business claims the payroll tax credit by filling out Form 8974, Qualified Small Business Payroll Tax Credit for Increasing Research Activities. This form must be attached to its payroll tax return, for example Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return.

This will benefit any eligible startup that has little or no income tax liability.

This option is available for the first time to any eligible small business filing its 2016 federal income tax return this tax season. Those small businesses that have already filed still have time to choose this option. Under a special rule for tax-year 2016, a small business that failed to choose this option and still wishes to do so, can still make the election by filing an amended return by Dec. 31, 2017.

To qualify for the new option for the current tax-year, a business must have gross receipts of less than $5 million, and could not have had gross receipts prior to 2012.

IRS Tips about the sharing economy new 3/30/17

If taxpayers use one of the many online platforms to rent a spare bedroom, provide car rides, or a number of other goods or services, they may be involved in the sharing economy, and sharing economy activity is taxable.

The IRS now offers a Sharing Economy Tax Center, to help taxpayers find the resources they need to help them meet their tax obligations:

Tax Credit for Retirement Savings Contributions new 3/29/17

Taxpayers who contribute to a retirement plan, like a 401(k) or an IRA, may be able to claim the Nonrefundable Saver’s Credit. The maximum contribution is $2,000 per person. Those filing a joint return can also contribute $2,000 for the spouse.The credit cannot be more than the amount of tax that a taxpayer would otherwise pay in taxes. This credit will not change the amount of refundable tax credits.

Taxpayers may be able to claim the credit depending on their filing status and the amount of their annual income, for the 2016 tax return if they are:

Other Rules:

A taxpayer must have contributed to a 401(k) plan or similar workplace plan by the end of the year to claim this credit, but may contribute to an IRA by the due date of their tax return and still have it count for 2016. The 2016 return due date for most people is April 18, 2017.

Taxpayers can us the Interactive Tax Assistant Tool, Do I Qualify for the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit ?, to determine if they qualify to claim the Saver’s Credit. File Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to claim the credit.

Taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) 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.

The IRS has established a process for employers & payroll service providers to quickly report any data losses related to the W-2 scam new 3/28/17

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 allows employers and payroll service providers to quickly report any data losses related to the W-2 scam to the IRS, 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. 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.

IRS Updates Allowable Living Expense Standards for 2017 new 3/17/17

Collection Financial Standards are used to help determine a taxpayer's ability to pay a delinquent tax liability. Allowable living expenses include those expenses that meet the necessary expense test. The necessary expense test is defined as expenses that are necessary to provide for a taxpayer’s (and his or her family's) health and welfare and/or production of income.

The IRS has updated its policy covering Offer in Compromise applications new 3/17/17

Beginning with Offer applications, the IRS will return any newly filed Offer in Compromise application received on or after March 27, 2017 if the applicant has not filed all required tax returns. Any application fee included with the OIC will also be returned. Any initial payment required with the returned application will be applied to reduce your balance due. This policy does not apply to current year tax returns if there is a valid extension on file.

Taxpayer Allowed Only One “Opportunity” To Challenge Penalty Assessment new 3/1/17

In Keller Tank Services II, Inc., CA-10, February 21, 2017, the Tenth Circuit held that the Tax Court properly decided that a taxpayer was not entitled to challenge a penalty in a collection due process (CDP) hearing assessed against it after previously challenging the penalty with IRS appeals. In so doing, the appeals court affirmed that it was reasonable to interpret the applicable statute as only offering one chance to challenge an assessment.

The Tax Court granted summary judgment in the IRS's favor after determining that the taxpayer was precluded from challenging the liability because it was provided with the prior opportunity to do so in its hearing before the appeals office. The Tax Court found that the IRS had reasonably interpreted Reg. §301.6320-1(e)(3) as allowing a taxpayer only one opportunity, whether in court or before the appeals office, to challenge a tax liability.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the Tax Court’s decision. The Tenth Circuit found that Reg. §301.6330-1does not impermissibly limits the jurisdiction of the Tax Court, and does not address the Tax Court, but merely limits the scope of what may be heard at the agency’s administrative CDP proceedings. Additionally, the regulation has no impact on the taxpayer’s ability to file a refund suit in federal district court. As the taxpayer failed to establish that the regulation was arbitrary, capricious or manifestly contrary to the statute, the regulation was entitled to Chevron deference.

One commenter noted that an IRS Appeals Conference on the substantive issue of whether a taxpayer is subject to liability is not an administrative hearing in the customary sense, and is not a formal adjudication. There is no administrative law judge or finder of fact; no transcript of the proceedings; no witnesses so no opportunity to examine or cross-examine; neither discovery nor evidentiary rules; statements made during the process are generally inadmissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence; and there are there is no final decision on the merits. There is no potential argument that the IRS Appeals Officer abused his or her discretion in arriving at the settlement offer as it is merely a nonbinding, relatively informal, conciliation conference with an employee of the adversary, in this case an IRS employee, whose job is to attempt to, but is not required to settle the case.

It was noted that the Trump administration and GOP are attempting to limit the scope of the"Chevron" doctrine in an attempt to stop judges from deferring to agency interpretation in legal challenges. The premise is that the code and regulations should be written with clarity to avoid discrepancies in interpretations across different cases.

IRS Guide to Community-Based Free Tax Preparation new 2/9/17

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs help people every year. Through these IRS-sponsored programs, millions of lower-to-moderate income individuals and families get their taxes done free.

The IRS works with local community groups to train and certify VITA and TCE volunteers to offer this service. Eligible taxpayers, including those with disabilities or limited English, should take advantage of these free programs.

Here are several important details about VITA and TCE:

All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) 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.

IRS YouTube Videos: Free Help Preparing Your Tax Return – English | Spanish | ASL

IRS Refundable Credit Resources new 1/27/17

IRS "Other Refundable Credits Toolkit"

The toolkit brings you tools and resources for other refundable credits along with the Additional Child Tax Credit refundable portions. But, we also provide resources for Lifetime Learning Credit and the Child Tax Credit.

information on Understanding Who is a Qualifying Child

To be a qualifying child for any of the child related tax benefits:

The child must meet the basic tests under the Uniform Definition of a Qualifying Child and then each credit has additional rules the child and the person claiming the child must meet. Uniform Definition of a Qualifying Child The Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004 amended in 2008 to add the joint return test set a standard definition of a qualifying child for these five child related tax benefits. In general, to be your client's qualifying child, a person must satisfy these tests:

The law also defined exceptions and special rules for dependents with a disability, divorced parents, adopted children and missing or kidnapped children. The exceptions and special rules for dependents with a disability and divorced parents are different for each of the child-related benefits; see the Child-related Tax Benefits Comparison chart for more information.

Adopted Child: An adopted child is always treated as your own child and includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.

Missing or Kidnapped Children: You may be able to claim a child who was kidnapped by a non-family member. IRS treats a kidnapped child as living with you for more than half of the year if the child lived with you for more than half the part of the year before the date of the kidnapping.

What You Need to Know about CTC and ACTC

Here's what you need to know about the CTC, Child Tax Credit, and the refundable portion, the ACTC, Additional Child Tax Credit.

Child-Related Tax Benefits Comparison (download a pdf version of the chart)

A handy chart shows some of the basic eligibility requirements for tax benefits available to those with a qualifying child. This chart compares the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Dependency Exemption, the Child Tax Credit and the refundable part of the CTC, the Additional Child Tax Credit (CTC/ACTC), the Head of Household filing status and the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

The chart is for quick comparison only. Each listed benefit has other requirements. This at-a-glance guide also directs you to more information to make sure the child is a qualifying child for the tax benefit.

Claim the Earned Income Tax Credit new 1/27/17

The Earned Income Tax Credit has helped workers with low and moderate incomes get a tax break for 40 plus years. Yet, 1 out of every 5 eligible workers fails to claim it. Here are some things taxpayers should know about the EITC:

Taxpayers can also get free help preparing and e-filing their return to claim the EITC. The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA program, offers free help at thousands of sites around the country. Get help with health care law tax provisions with Free File or VITA. Refunds Held Until February 15. Beginning in 2017, if taxpayers claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit on their tax return, the IRS must hold their refund until at least February 15. This applies to the entire refund, even the portion not associated with these credits. However, the IRS will begin accepting and processing tax returns once the filing season begins. Taxpayers should file as usual. There is no need to wait until February 15. For more on EITC, see IRS Publication 596, Earned Income Credit. It’s available in English and Spanish on IRS.gov.

For more on EITC, see IRS Publication 596, Earned Income Credit. It’s available in English and Spanish on IRS.gov.

The IRS is sending Letter 5025-H to tax preparers who completed returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit new 1/27/17

The IRS is sending Letter 5025-H to tax preparers who completed returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit for taxpayers reporting income they received as household employees but without a Form W-2 to substantiate the income. These preparers may not have met their EITC due diligence requirements. Learn more about this letter and other due diligence information by visiting the EITC Central page on IRS.gov.

Work as a household employee is done in the home of an individual or family. The homeowner provides the necessary supplies, determines the type of work done, and how to complete it. Examples of household employees are babysitters, caretakers, house cleaning workers, domestic workers, drivers, health aides, housekeepers, maids, nannies, private nurses, and yard workers.

An employer is required to report income paid to a household employee on Form W-2 or Form 1099 if that employee earned $2,000 or more in 2016. If a household employee earned less than $2,000 from each individual household in 2016, the household employee will not receive any Forms W-2 or 1099. However, household employees may be considered self-employed, and may be required to file a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business (Sole Proprietorship). All household employees must keep records of who they worked for, how often, how much they were paid, and when. The records must show the employers’ names, telephone numbers, addresses where they worked, and payment receipts. Your clients will need to provide this information in case of an audit.

A paid preparer must take extra steps to ensure returns they prepare claiming the EITC are complete and correct.

IRS warns of the return of the W2 Scam aimed at tax and payroll professionals new 1/26/17

Cybercriminals tricked payroll and human resource officials into disclosing employee names, SSNs and income information. The thieves then attempted to file fraudulent tax returns for tax refunds.

This phishing variation is known as a “spoofing” e-mail. It will contain, for example, the actual name of the company chief executive officer. In this variation, the “CEO” sends an email to a company payroll office or human resource employee and requests a list of employees and information including SSNs. The following are some of the details that may be contained in the emails:

IRS web page lets you find out how much you owe new 1/9/17

If you're an individual taxpayer, you can use this tool to find out:

  1. Your payoff amount, updated for the current calendar day, and
  2. the balance for each tax year for which you owe. Your balance will update no more than once every 24 hours, usually overnight.

Once you view your balance, you can immediately choose a payment option. The IRS recommends that you make a note of the amount before doing so.

To register for this service, you need:

  1. Your Social Security Number;
  2. date of birth;
  3. filing status;
  4. mailing address from latest tax return;
  5. access to your email account;
  6. your personal account number from a credit card, mortgage, home equity loan, home equity line of credit or car loan; and
  7. a mobile phone with your name on the account.

Use Publication 2043 to Set Refund Expectations for 2017 new 1/6/17

IRS Publication 2043, IRS Refund Information Guidelines for the Tax Preparation Community, was updated for 2017. The publication provides the latest refund information and guidelines to advise clients who are expecting refunds. This year's update includes information about a new law that requires the IRS to hold refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit. The IRS will begin to release EITC/ACTC refunds starting February 15. However, these refunds likely will not reach taxpayers until the week of February 27.

current | archived: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003