IRS Increases Visits To High-Income Taxpayers Who Haven’t Filed Tax Returns

As part of a larger effort to ensure compliance and fairness, the Internal Revenue Service on Wednesday announced that it will step up efforts to visit high-income taxpayers who in prior years have failed to timely file one or more of their tax returns.

Following the recent and ongoing hiring of additional enforcement personnel, IRS revenue officers across the country will increase face-to-face visits with high-income taxpayers who haven’t filed tax returns in 2018 or previous years. These visits are primarily aimed at informing these taxpayers of their tax filing and paying obligations and bringing these taxpayers into compliance.

“The IRS is committed to fairness in the tax system, and we want to remind people across all income categories that they need to file their taxes,” said Paul Mamo, Director of Collection Operations, Small Business/Self Employed Division. “These visits focusing on high-income taxpayers will be taking place across the country. We want to ensure taxpayers know their options to get right with their taxes and avoid bigger issues later.”

For the current tax season, the IRS reminds taxpayers that everyone should file their 2019 tax return by the April 15 filing deadline regardless of whether they can pay in full. Six-month filing extensions are also available, although that does not extend the April deadline for paying any taxes owed.

“Taxpayers having delinquent filing or payment obligations should consult a competent tax advisor before waiting to be contacted by an IRS revenue officer, Mamo said. “It is always worthwhile to take advantage of various methods of getting back into filing or payment compliance before being personally contacted by the IRS.”

For the new visits taking place, high-income non-filers taxpayers are those who generally received income in excess of $100,000 during a tax year and did not file a tax return with the IRS. Taxpayers who exercise their best efforts in filing their tax returns and paying or entering into agreements to pay their taxes deserve to know that the IRS is aggressively pursuing others who have failed to satisfy their filing and payment obligations.

During the visits, IRS revenue officers will share information and work with the taxpayer to hopefully resolve the tax issue.

How to pay

There are many payment options for people having trouble paying their tax bill. Payment plans can be set up quickly online.

Once returns are filed or an assessment occurs, there are various online payment options available at IRS.gov, including direct pay through a bank account or using a debit or credit card. Other ways to pay include the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (best option for businesses or large payments; enrollment required), Electronic Funds Withdrawal (using during e-filing), same-day wire (bank fees may apply), check or money order or cash (at a participating retail partner). Those who can’t pay immediately may be able to meet their tax obligation in monthly installments by applying for a payment plan (including installment agreements and those who owe less than $50,000), they can find out if they qualify for an offer in compromise (a way to settle their tax debt for less than the full amount), or request that the IRS temporarily delay collection until their financial situation improves.

For those who refuse to pay, the IRS has a number of options available under the law, ranging from a series of civil enforcement actions and, when appropriate, pursuing criminal cases against taxpayers. IRS compliance personnel are also now working more closely with IRS criminal investigators on priority compliance issues, including high-income cases.

“These compliance visits underscore the importance of people filing their taxes this April, even if they can’t pay the full amount of tax due,” said Hank Kea, Director of Field Collection Operations, Small Business/Self Employed Division. “Not filing because you don’t believe you can pay at the time of filing makes the problem worse, as interest and penalties mount over time. We have many payment options available on IRS.gov to help taxpayers. It’s better to work on these issues up front rather than ignoring it and ultimately getting to the point of the IRS taking more serious action. Our continued use of ever-changing technologies, coupled with additional enforcement personnel, would suggest that waiting is not a viable option for delinquent taxpayers.”

What’s a revenue officer’s job?

Revenue officers are trained IRS civil enforcement employees who work to resolve compliance issues, such as missing returns or taxes owed. Revenue officers conduct interviews to gather financial information and provide taxpayers with the necessary steps to become and remain compliant with the law. When necessary, they will take the appropriate enforcement actions to collect the amount owed, following the law while respecting taxpayer rights and following the law.

Don’t be confused: Visits are not a scam

For this new initiative, these high-income taxpayers have typically received numerous letters from the IRS over an extended period of time, so they generally realize they have a tax issue.

Revenue officer visits shouldn’t be confused with scams. Here’s what to look for:

  • While most IRS revenue officer visits to a taxpayer are unannounced, they will always provide two forms of official credentials, both include a serial number and photo of the IRS employee. Taxpayers have the right to see each of these credentials.
  • A legitimate revenue officer helps taxpayers understand and meet their tax obligations. The officer will explain the liability to the taxpayer, along with the consequences of failing to comply with the law. The IRS employee will not make threats nor demand an unusual form of payment for a nonexistent liability.
  • Visits by revenue officers generally occur after numerous contacts by mail about an existing tax issue; taxpayers should be aware they have a tax issue when these visits occur.
  • If someone has an outstanding federal tax debt, the visiting officer will request payment but will provide a range of options, including paying by check written to the United States Treasury.

If you have questions about this or any other tax matter, call us at 813-390-3170.

Ten Things For Taxpayers For Taxpayers To Think About When Choosing A Tax Preparer

It’s the time of the year when many taxpayers choose a tax preparer to help file a tax return. These taxpayers should choose their tax return preparer wisely.  This is because taxpayers are responsible for all the information on their income tax return. That’s true no matter who prepares the return.

Here are ten tips for taxpayers to remember when selecting a preparer:

  • Check the Preparer’s Qualifications. People can use the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. This tool helps taxpayers find a tax return preparer with specific qualifications. The directory is a searchable and sortable listing of preparers.
  • Check the Preparer’s History. Taxpayers can ask the Better Business Bureau about the preparer. Check for disciplinary actions and the license status for credentialed preparers. For CPAs, people can check with the State Board of Accountancy. For attorneys, they can check with the State Bar Association. For Enrolled Agents, taxpayers can go to the verify enrolled agent status page on IRS.gov or check the directory.
  • Ask about Service Fees. People should avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of the refund or who boast bigger refunds than their competition. When asking about a preparer’s services and fees, don’t give them tax documents, Social Security numbers or other information.
  • Ask to e-file. Taxpayers should make sure their preparer offers IRS e-file. The quickest way for taxpayers to get their refund is to electronically file their federal tax return and use direct deposit.
  • Make Sure the Preparer is Available. Taxpayers may want to contact their preparer after this year’s April 15 due date. People should avoid fly-by-night preparers.
  • Provide Records and Receipts. Good preparers will ask to see a taxpayer’s records and receipts. They’ll ask questions to figure things like the total income, tax deductions and credits.
  • Never Sign a Blank Return. Taxpayers should not use a tax preparer who asks them to sign a blank tax form.
  • Review Before Signing. Before signing a tax return, the taxpayer should review it. They should ask questions if something is not clear. Taxpayers should feel comfortable with the accuracy of their return before they sign it. They should also make sure that their refund goes directly to them – not to the preparer’s bank account. The taxpayer should review the routing and bank account number on the completed return. The preparer should give you a copy of the completed tax return.
  • Ensure the Preparer Signs and Includes Their PTIN. All paid tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. By law, paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN.
  • Report Abusive Tax Preparers to the IRS. Most tax return preparers are honest and provide great service to their clients. However, some preparers are dishonest. People can report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If a taxpayer suspects a tax preparer filed or changed their return without the taxpayer’s consent, they should file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit.

IRS Issues Standard Mileage Rates for 2019

This week, the IRS issued the 2019 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2019, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

• 58 cents per mile driven for business use, up 3.5 cents from the 2018 rate
• 20 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, up 2 cents from the 2018        rate
• 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

If you have questions about this or other tax matters, call us at 813-514-2920.

IRS Urges Travelers Requiring Passports to Pay Their Back Taxes or Enter into Payment Agreements; People Owing $51,000 or More Covered

The Internal Revenue Service strongly encourages taxpayers who are seriously behind on their taxes to pay what they owe or enter into a payment agreement with the IRS to avoid putting their passports in jeopardy.

The IRS will begin implementation this month of new procedures affecting individuals with “seriously delinquent tax debts.” These new procedures implement provisions of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, signed into law in December 2015. The FAST Act requires the IRS to notify the State Department of taxpayers the IRS has certified as owing a seriously delinquent tax debt. The FAST Act also requires the State Department to deny their passport application or deny renewal of their passport. In some cases, the State Department may revoke their passport.

Taxpayers affected by this law are those with a seriously delinquent tax debt.  A taxpayer with a seriously delinquent tax debt is generally someone who owes the IRS more than $51,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest for which the IRS has filed a Notice of Federal Tax Lien and the period to challenge it has expired or the IRS has issued a levy.

There are several ways taxpayers can avoid having the IRS notify the State Department of their seriously delinquent tax debt. They include the following:

  • Paying the tax debt in full
  • Paying the tax debt timely under an approved installment agreement,
  • Paying the tax debt timely under an accepted offer in compromise,
  • Paying the tax debt timely under the terms of a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice,
  • Having requested or have a pending collection due process appeal with a levy, or
  • Having collection suspended because a taxpayer has made an innocent spouse election or requested innocent spouse relief.

A passport won’t be at risk under this program for any taxpayer:

  • Who is in bankruptcy
  • Who is identified by the IRS as a victim of tax-related identity theft
  • Whose account the IRS has determined is currently not collectible due to hardship
  • Who is located within a federally declared disaster area
  • Who has a request pending with the IRS for an installment agreement
  • Who has a pending offer in compromise with the IRS
  • Who has an IRS accepted adjustment that will satisfy the debt in full

For taxpayers serving in a combat zone who owe a seriously delinquent tax debt, the IRS postpones notifying the State Department and the individual’s passport is not subject to denial during this time.

  • In general, taxpayers behind on their tax obligations should come forward and pay what they owe or enter into a payment plan with the IRS. Frequently, taxpayers qualify for one of several relief programs.
  • Taxpayers can request a payment agreement with the IRS by filing Form 9465. Taxpayers can download this form from IRS.gov and mail it along with a tax return, bill or notice. Some taxpayers can use the online payment agreement to set up a monthly payment agreement for up to 72 months.

Some financially distressed taxpayers may qualify for an offer in compromise. This is an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. The IRS looks at the taxpayer’s income and assets to determine the taxpayer’s ability to pay. To help determine eligibility, use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier, a free online tool available on IRS.gov.

If you have any questions about this or other tax matters, call us at 813-514-2920.

IRS Continues Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) Program in Florida

The IRS is again offering the Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) to all taxpayers who filed their federal tax returns last year as residents of Florida, Georgia or the District of Columbia. These residents don’t need to be identity theft victims to participate. This ongoing pilot program helps the IRS evaluate taxpayer demand for the IP PIN and assess their ability to issue the PIN to a larger number of taxpayers. The three locations covered by the pilot have the highest per-capita percentage of tax-related identity theft.

The IP PIN is a 6-digit number the IRS uses to confirm your identity when they receive a return with your name and Social Security number on it. This helps prevent identity thieves from obtaining a fraudulent refund using your SSN and avoid delays issuing any refund you may be due.

If you’re eligible and choose to get an IP PIN, visit Get An IP PIN. After you get an IP PIN,

  • you must use it on all future federal income tax forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ and 1040 PR/SS
  • the IRS will mail you a new IP PIN each year in late December or early January.

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes nationwide, and preventing tax refund fraud caused by identity theft is one of the IRS’s biggest challenges. The IRS is focused on preventing, detecting and resolving tax-related identity theft cases as soon as possible.

If you have any questions on this or other tax related matters, call us at 813-514-2920.

We Have Two Extra Days To File Your 2017 Income Tax Return

The filing deadline to submit 2017 tax returns is Tuesday, April 17, 2018, rather than the traditional April 15 date. In 2018, April 15 falls on a Sunday, and this would usually move the filing deadline to the following Monday – April 16. However, Emancipation Day – a legal holiday in the District of Columbia – will be observed on that Monday, which pushes the nation’s filing deadline to Tuesday, April 17, 2017. Under the tax law, legal holidays in the District of Columbia affect the filing deadline across the nation.

The IRS also has been working with the tax industry and state revenue departments as part of the Security Summit initiative to continue strengthening processing systems to protect taxpayers from identity theft and refund fraud. The IRS and Summit partners continued to improve these safeguards to further protect taxpayers filing in 2018.

If you have questions on this or any other tax matter, call us at 813-514-2920.

E-File Your Tax Return And Choose Direct Deposit

Choosing e-file and direct deposit for refunds remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund. The IRS expects more than four out of five tax returns will be prepared electronically using tax software.

The IRS still anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, but there are some important factors to keep in mind for taxpayers.

By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds on tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit before mid-February. This applies to the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC.

The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting on Feb. 27, 2018, if those taxpayers chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return. This additional period is due to several factors, including banking and financial systems needing time to process deposits.

After refunds leave the IRS, it takes additional time for them to be processed and for financial institutions to accept and deposit the refunds to bank accounts and products. The IRS reminds taxpayers many financial institutions do not process payments on weekends or holidays, which can affect when refunds reach taxpayers. For EITC and ACTC filers, the three-day holiday weekend involving Presidents’ Day may affect their refund timing.

If you have questions on this or any other tax matter, call us at 813-514-2920.

IRS Will Begin Accepting Tax Returns on January 29th

The Internal Revenue Service announced Thursday that the nation’s tax season will begin Monday, Jan. 29, 2018 and reminded taxpayers claiming certain tax credits that refunds won’t be available before late February.

The IRS will begin accepting tax returns on Jan. 29, with nearly 155 million individual tax returns expected to be filed in 2018. The nation’s tax deadline will be April 17 this year – so taxpayers will have two additional days to file beyond April 15.

Although the IRS will begin accepting both electronic and paper tax returns Jan. 29, paper returns will begin processing later in mid-February as system updates continue. The IRS strongly encourages people to file their tax returns electronically for faster refunds.

The IRS set the Jan. 29 opening date to ensure the security and readiness of key tax processing systems in advance of the opening and to assess the potential impact of tax legislation on 2017 tax returns.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that, by law, the IRS cannot issue refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. While the IRS will process those returns when received, it cannot issue related refunds before mid-February. The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting on Feb. 27, 2018, if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return. The IRS also reminds taxpayers that they should keep copies of their prior-year tax returns for at least three years.

If you have questions on this or any other tax matter, call us at 813-514-2920.

Offer In Compromise May Be A Legitimate Option If You Can’t Pay Your Full Tax Liability

An offer in compromise allows you to settle your tax debt for less than the full amount you owe. It may be a legitimate option if you can’t pay your full tax liability, or doing so creates a financial hardship. The IRS considers your unique set of facts and circumstances including:

  • Ability to pay;
  • Income;
  • Expenses; and
  • Asset equity.

The IRS generally approves an offer in compromise when the amount offered represents the most they can expect to collect within a reasonable period of time. You should explore all other payment options before submitting an offer in compromise. The Offer in Compromise program is not for everyone. If you hire a tax professional to help you file an offer, be sure to check his or her qualifications.

Before the IRS will consider your offer, you must be current with all filing and payment requirements. You are not eligible if you are in an open bankruptcy proceeding.

For more information on an offer in compromise, call us at 813-514-2920.

IRS Fresh Start Program Helps Taxpayers Who Owe the IRS

The IRS Fresh Start program makes it easier for taxpayers to pay back taxes and avoid tax liens. Even small business taxpayers may benefit from Fresh Start . Here are three important features of the Fresh Start program:

  • Tax Liens.  The Fresh Start program increased the amount that taxpayers can owe before the IRS generally will file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien. That amount is now $10,000. However, in some cases, the IRS may still file a lien notice on amounts less than $10,000.

    When a taxpayer meets certain requirements and pays off their tax debt, the IRS may now withdraw a filed Notice of Federal Tax Lien. Taxpayers must request this in writing using Form 12277, Application for Withdrawal.

    Some taxpayers may qualify to have their lien notice withdrawn if they are paying their tax debt through a Direct Debit installment agreement. Taxpayers also need to request this in writing by using Form 12277.

    If a taxpayer defaults on the Direct Debit Installment Agreement, the IRS may file a new Notice of Federal Tax Lien and resume collection actions.

  • Installment Agreements.  The Fresh Start program expanded access to streamlined installment agreements. Now, individual taxpayers who owe up to $50,000 can pay through monthly direct debit payments for up to 72 months (six years). While the IRS generally will not need a financial statement, they may need some financial information from the taxpayer.

    Taxpayers in need of installment agreements for tax debts more than $50,000 or longer than six years still need to provide the IRS with a financial statement. In these cases, the IRS may ask for one of two forms: either Collection Information Statement, Form 433-A or Form 433-F.

  • Offers in Compromise.  An Offer in Compromise is an agreement that allows taxpayers to settle their tax debt for less than the full amount. Fresh Start expanded and streamlined the OIC program. The IRS now has more flexibility when analyzing a taxpayer’s ability to pay. This makes the offer program available to a larger group of taxpayers.

    Generally, the IRS will accept an offer if it represents the most the agency can expect to collect within a reasonable period of time. The IRS will not accept an offer if it believes that the taxpayer can pay the amount owed in full as a lump sum or through a payment agreement. The IRS looks at several factors, including the taxpayer’s income and assets, to make a decision regarding the taxpayer’s ability to pay.

For more information about the IRS Fresh Start Program call us at 813-514-2920.