Rob Arena Arena and Associates, Inc. – IRS Warns of Identity Theft

If you are in need of help with your IRS tax liability – there is no better name in professional help than Rob Arena at Arena and Associates, Inc. Check our website at aataxhelp.com for more information. Call 303-847-4038 for a free consultation.

3/24/2017

Identity Theft and the filing of fraudulent refund returns is a common and persistent problem for many taxpayers. As this is tax time, taxpayers must be wary of returns that our filed on their behalf by criminals that have stolen their social security numbers.  The filing of a fraudulent return can result in the taxpayer’s refund being stolen and will delay posting of their actual return. Solving these types of issues can be time consuming and extremely frustrating.

A taxpayer may not be aware that they are a victim of identity theft until they attempt to file the tax return and it is rejected as a duplicate return. Other indicators of identity theft are IRS notices stating; more than one tax return filed using the taxpayer’s Social Security Number; or a balance due, refund offset or collection action taken for a year in which no return was filed; or the IRS or state records indicate the taxpayer received wages from an unknown employer; or an amended tax return. For business, fictitious employees or notice about a defunct, or closed business is a red flag.

Taxpayers that find that they have become victim of identity theft should act quickly. Unless the taxpayer contacts the IRS directly they may not be aware that the taxpayer was not the source of the fraudulent return. The IRS will research the matter and most likely contact the taxpayer to provide additional information. Being prompt and diligent in response can help to avoid an escalation of the issue.

Arena and Associates has many years of correcting these issues. If you or someone you know has suffered from this then call today for immediate help.

Arena and Associates, Inc. – Rob Arena – IRA Contributions

If you are in need of help with your IRS tax liability – there is no better name in professional help than Rob Arena at Arena and Associates, Inc. Check our website at aataxhelp.com for more information. Call 303-847-4038 for a free consultation.

3/15/2017

Tax Time Guide: Still Time to Contribute to an IRA for 2016

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers that they still have time to contribute to an IRA for 2016 and, in many cases, qualify for a deduction or even a tax credit.

This is the eighth in a series of 10 IRS tips called the Tax Time Guide. These tips are designed to help taxpayers navigate common tax issues as this year’s tax deadline approaches.

Available in one form or another since the mid-1970s, individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) are designed to enable employees and the self-employed to save for retirement. Contributions to traditional IRAs are often deductible, but distributions, usually after age 59½, are generally taxable. Though contributions to Roth IRAs are not deductible, qualified distributions, usually after age 59½, are tax-free. Those with traditional IRAs must begin receiving distributions by April 1 of the year following the year they turn 70½, but there is no similar requirement for Roth IRAs.

Most taxpayers with qualifying income are either eligible to set up a traditional or Roth IRA or add money to an existing account. To count for a 2016 tax return, contributions must be made by April 18, 2017. In addition, low- and moderate-income taxpayers making these contributions may also qualify for the saver’s credit when they complete their 2016 tax returns.

Generally, eligible taxpayers can contribute up to $5,500 to an IRA. For someone who was at least age 50 at the end of 2016, the limit is increased to $6,500. There’s no age limit for those contributing to a Roth IRA, but anyone who was at least age 70½ at the end of 2016 is barred from making contributions to a traditional IRA for 2016 and subsequent years.

The deduction for contributions to a traditional IRA is generally phased out for taxpayers covered by a workplace retirement plan whose incomes are above certain levels. For someone covered by a workplace plan during any part of 2016, the deduction is phased out if the taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) for that year is between $61,000 and $71,000 for singles and heads of household and between $0 and $10,000 for those who are married filing separately. For married couples filing a joint return where the spouse who makes the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the income phase-out range for the deduction is $98,000 to $118,000. Where the IRA contributor is not covered by a workplace retirement plan but is married to someone who is covered, the MAGI phase-out range is $184,000 to $194,000.

The deduction for contributions to a traditional IRA is claimed on Form 1040 Line 32 or Form 1040A Line 17. Any nondeductible contributions to a traditional IRA must be reported on Form 8606.

Even though contributions to Roth IRAs are not tax deductible, the maximum permitted amount of these contributions is phased out for taxpayers whose incomes are above certain levels. The MAGI phase-out range is $184,000 to $194,000 for married couples filing a joint return, $117,000 to $132,000 for singles and heads of household and $0 to $10,000 for married persons filing separately. For detailed information on contributing to either Roth or Traditional IRAs, including worksheets for determining contribution and deduction amounts, see Publication 590-A, available on IRS.gov.

Taxpayers whose employer does not offer a retirement plan may want to consider enrolling in myRA®, a retirement savings plan offered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. It’s safe, affordable and a great option for people who don’t have a retirement savings plan at work. Taxpayers can direct deposit their entire refund or a portion of it into an existing myRA – Retirement Account.  For further details and to open a myRA account online, visit www.myRA.gov.

Also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, the Saver’s Credit is often available to IRA contributors whose adjusted gross income falls below certain levels. For 2016, the income limit is $30,750 for singles and married filing separate, $46,125 for heads of household and $61,500 for married couples filing jointly.

Eligible taxpayers get the credit even if they qualify for other retirement-related tax benefits. Like other tax credits, the Saver’s Credit can increase a taxpayer’s refund or reduce the taxes they owe. The amount of the credit is based on a number of factors, including the amount contributed to either a Roth or Traditional IRA and other qualifying retirement programs. Form 8880 is used to claim the Saver’s Credit, and its instructions have details on figuring the credit correctly.

Arena and Associates – Protecting Tax Information

If you are in need of help with your IRS tax liability – there is no better name in professional help than Rob Arena at Arena and Associates, Inc. Check our website at aataxhelp.com for more information. Call 303-847-4038 for a free consultation.

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3/9/2017

Inside This Issue

Tax Time Guide: Protect Personal, Financial, Tax Information and Computers

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers to be cautious and protect personal, financial and tax information, particularly at tax time.

This is the sixth in a series of 10 IRS tips called the Tax Time Guide, designed to help taxpayers navigate common tax issues. This year’s tax-filing deadline is April 18.

The IRS urges taxpayers to be safe online and reminds them to take steps to help protect personal information and guard against identity theft. This is true all year long, but particularly at tax time, when taxpayers may anticipate hearing about a tax refund or the status of their return.

“The IRS works year-round to protect taxpayers against scams and identity theft,” said John Koskinen, IRS Commissioner. “But we can’t do this alone. Taxpayers can do their part by taking certain precautions to stay ahead of these would-be con artists.”

Treat personal information like cash – don’t hand it out to just anyone. Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, bank and utility account numbers can be used to steal money or open new accounts. Every time a taxpayer receives a request for personal information, they should think about whether the request is truly necessary. Scammers will do everything they can to appear trustworthy and legitimate.

Avoid Phishing Scams

The easiest way for criminals to steal sensitive data is simply to ask for it. Taxpayers should learn to recognize phishing emails, calls or texts that pose as familiar organizations such as banks, credit card companies or even the IRS. These ruses generally urge taxpayers to give up sensitive data such as passwords, Social Security numbers and bank account or credit card numbers. They are called phishing scams because they attempt to lure the receiver into taking the bait. The subject line may suggest the recipient just won a free cruise or that they must immediately update an account. Never open a link or an attachment from a suspicious email. It may contain malware.

Also, don’t assume internet advertisements, pop-up ads or emails are from reputable companies. Check out companies to find out if they are legitimate. When online, a little research can save money and reduce security risks. If an ad or offer looks too good to be true, take a moment to check out the company behind it. Type the company or product name into a search engine with terms like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.”

Never download “security” software from a pop-up ad. A pervasive ploy is a pop-up ad that indicates it has detected a virus on the computer. It urges users to download a security software package. Don’t fall for it. It most likely will install some type of malware. Reputable security software companies do not advertise in this manner.

Protect Personal Data

Taxpayers should not carry Social Security cards with them or any documents that may include this number. Provide Social Security numbers only when necessary. Occasionally businesses will request it when it is not essential.

Give personal information over encrypted websites only. Shopping or banking online should be done only on sites that use encryption. To determine if a website is encrypted, look for “https” at the beginning of the web address (the “s” stands for secure). Some websites use encryption only on the sign-in page. If any part of the session isn’t encrypted, the entire account and the included financial information could be vulnerable. Look for “https” on every page of the site.

Use Strong Passwords

The longer the password, the tougher it is to crack. Use at least 10 characters; 12 is ideal for most home users. Mix letters, numbers and special characters. Try to be unpredictable – don’t use names, birthdates or common words. Don’t use the same password for many accounts. If the password is stolen –– it can be used to take over multiple accounts. Don’t share passwords on the phone, in texts or by email. Legitimate companies will not send messages asking for passwords. Receiving such a message probably means it’s a scam. Keep passwords in a secure place.

Set password and encryption protections for wireless networks. If a home or business Wi-Fi is unsecured it also allows any computer within range to access the wireless network and potentially steal information from connected devices.

Use Security Software

Make sure you have security software installed on all of your devices that connect to the internet. Many computers come pre-installed with firewall and anti-virus protections. A good broad-based anti-malware program should provide protection from viruses, Trojans, spyware and adware.

Set security software to update automatically so it can be upgraded as threats emerge. Also, make sure the security software is “on” at all times. If retaining important financial documents, such as prior-year tax returns, consider investing in encryption software to prevent unauthorized access by hackers or identity thieves.

Make sure security software has parental control options to protect children from malicious websites. Educate children about the threats of opening suspicious web pages, emails or documents.

Back Up Files

No system is completely secure. Copy important files, including federal and state tax returns, onto a removable disc or a back-up drive, and store it in a safe place. Save tax returns and records. Federal and state tax returns are important financial documents that a taxpayer may need for many reasons, ranging from home mortgages to college financial aid applications. Print out a copy and keep it in a safe place. Make an electronic copy in a safe spot as well. These steps also can help taxpayers more easily prepare next year’s tax return. If storing sensitive tax and financial records on a personal computer, use a file encryption program to add an additional layer of security.

The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry recently launched a public awareness campaign called Taxes. Security. Together. It provides additional safety tips for taxpayers. Also, see Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers.

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Arena and Associates – Tax Time is Here

Don’t wait to settle your tax debt until the IRS is knocking on your door. Get help today. Call Rob Arena at Arena and Associates, Inc., for immediate tax debt relief. Licensed tax professional with over 20 years of experience in solving IRS claims.

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3/8/2017

Inside This Issue

Tax Time Guide: Save Time, Make an Appointment before Visiting an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers that service at all of its Taxpayer Assistance Centers is now by appointment. Appointment service saves taxpayers time by ensuring they get the help they need without having to wait in line.

Taxpayers can visit IRS.gov to find quick tax-related answers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The IRS Interactive Tax Assistant is an excellent resource to get answers to commonly-asked questions.

This is the fifth in a series of 10 IRS tips called the Tax Time Guide. It is designed to assist taxpayers as they approach this year’s tax filing deadline, April 18.

Many people come to Taxpayer Assistance Centers looking for tax forms such as Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, when they are readily available on IRS.gov. Some libraries and other locations also may carry the most commonly used tax forms and schedules.

Other self-service options easily found on IRS.gov include refunds, transcripts and tax payments. Taxpayers who visit IRS offices to make routine tax payments should consider online payment alternatives. They can pay online, by phone or via a mobile device and get instant confirmation their payment has been sent.

If taxpayers need their prior-year adjusted gross income to complete the electronic filing process they should use Get Transcript Online or Get Transcript by Mail or review other options. Be aware that ordering a tax transcript will not reveal a refund delivery date. The “Where’s My Refund?” tool has the most up-to-date information on refunds.

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Arena and Associates – Free Tax Help

Don’t wait to settle your tax debt until the IRS is knocking on your door. Get help today. Call Rob Arena at Arena and Associates, Inc., for immediate tax debt relief. Licensed tax professional with over 20 years of experience in solving IRS claims.

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3/2/2017

Inside This Issue

Free Help Preparing Tax Returns Available Nationwide

IRS YouTube Videos:

Free Help Preparing Your Tax Return: English | Spanish | ASL

WASHINGTON –– The Internal Revenue Service reminded taxpayers today that they may be eligible to receive free tax help at nearly 12,000 preparation sites nationwide. The sites, generally located at community and neighborhood centers, provide tax assistance to taxpayers with low- and moderate-incomes and the elderly.

The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to individuals who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly and individuals with limited English proficiency who need assistance in preparing their taxes. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 and older. The IRS certified VITA and TCE volunteers are trained to help with many tax questions, including credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a significant tax credit for workers who earned $53,505 or less in 2016. Last year, more than 27 million eligible workers and families received almost $67 billion in EITC, with an average EITC amount of $2,455. The maximum EITC amount for 2016 is $6,269 for qualifying families with three or more children. In order to receive the credit, eligible taxpayers must file a tax return, even if they do not have a filing requirement. The VITA and TCE programs can help answer many EITC questions and help taxpayers claim the credit if they qualify. Taxpayers may also use the IRS.gov EITC Assistant to help them determine their eligibility.

Before visiting a VITA or TCE site, taxpayers should review Publication 3676-B to be aware of the services provided. To find the nearest VITA or TCE site, taxpayers can use the VITA and TCE locator tool available on IRS.gov, download the IRS mobile app IRS2GO or call 800-906-9887.

For assistance preparing a tax return at a VITA or TCE site, taxpayers must bring all required documents and information including:

  • Proof of identification (photo ID) for taxpayer and spouse
  • Social Security cards for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents
  • An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter may be substituted for those who do not have a Social Security number
  • Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN
  • Birth dates for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents
  • Wage and earning statements (Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R,1099-Misc) from all employers and other payers
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
  • Health Insurance Exemption Certificate, if received
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available
  • Proof of bank account routing and account numbers for direct deposit such as a blank check
  • To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms
  • Total amount paid for daycare services and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number such as their Social Security number or business Employer Identification Number
  • Forms 1095-A, B and C,  Health Coverage Statements
  • Copies of income transcripts from IRS and state, if applicable

In addition, the military and the IRS join together to provide free tax assistance to military personnel and their families. The Armed Forces Tax Council (AFTC) consists of the tax program coordinators for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The AFTC oversees the operation of the military tax programs worldwide, and serves as the main conduit for outreach by the IRS to military personnel and their families. Volunteers can also address military specific tax issues, such as combat zone tax benefits and the effect of the EITC guidelines.

In addition to free tax return preparation assistance, most sites will file returns electronically for free. Combining e-file with direct deposit is the fastest and most accurate way to file. The IRS issues nine out of 10 refunds in 21 days or less. Paper returns take longer to process. Taxpayers who chose to file electronically and owe, can make a payment by the April 18, 2017, deadline using Direct Pay. This IRS free service allows taxpayers to make secure payments from a checking or savings account It also allows the taxpayer to get an automatic extension of time to file when Direct Pay is used to make a payment.

Taxpayers that prefer to file their tax returns electronically have the option of using IRS Free File. IRS Free File offers brand-name tax software to taxpayers who earned $64,000 or less in 2016 to file their returns free. Taxpayers who earned more can use Free Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms. IRS Free File is only available through the IRS website by visiting IRS.gov/freefile.

 

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Arena and Associates – 2013 Tax Refunds

If you are in need of help with your IRS tax liability – there is no better name in professional help than Rob Arena at Arena and Associates, Inc. Check our website at aataxhelp.com for more information. Call 303-847-4038 for a free consultation.

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3_1_2017

Inside This Issue

IRS Has Refunds Totaling $1 Billion for People Who Have Not Filed a 2013 Federal Income Tax Return

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Refund: Claim It or Lose ItEnglish | Spanish | ASL

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service announced today that unclaimed federal income tax refunds totaling more than $1 billion may be waiting for an estimated 1 million taxpayers who did not file a 2013 federal income tax return.

To collect the money, taxpayers must file a 2013 tax return with the IRS no later than this year’s tax deadline, Tuesday, April 18.

“We’re trying to connect a million people with their share of 1 billion dollars in unclaimed refunds for the 2013 tax year,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “People across the nation haven’t filed tax returns to claim these refunds, and their window of opportunity is closing soon. Students and many others may not realize they’re due a tax refund. Remember, there’s no penalty for filing a late return if you’re due a refund.”

The IRS estimates the midpoint for potential refunds for 2013 to be $763; half of the refunds are more than $763 and half are less.

In cases where a tax return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. If they do not file a return within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. For 2013 tax returns, the window closes April 18, 2017. The law requires taxpayers to properly address mail and postmark the tax return by that date.

The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2013 refund that their checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2014 and 2015. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS, or a state tax agency, and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts, such as student loans.

By failing to file a tax return, people stand to lose more than just their refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2013. Many low-and-moderate income workers may have been eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For 2013, the credit was worth as much as $6,044. The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds. The thresholds for 2013 were:

  • $46,227 ($51,567 if married filing jointly) for those with three or more qualifying children;
  • $43,038 ($48,378 if married filing jointly) for people with two qualifying children;
  • $37,870 ($43,210 if married filing jointly) for those with one qualifying child, and;
  • $14,340 ($19,680 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children.

Current and prior year tax forms (such as the Tax Year 2013 Form 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ) and instructions are available on the IRS.gov Forms and Publications page or by calling toll-free: 800- TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). Taxpayers who are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for the years 2013, 2014 or 2015 should request copies from their employer, bank or other payer.

Taxpayers who are unable to get missing forms from their employer or other payer should go to IRS.gov and use the “Get Transcript Online” tool to obtain a Wage and Income transcript.  Taxpayers can also file Form 4506-T to request a transcript of their 2013 income. A Wage and Income transcript shows data from information returns we receive such as Forms W-2, 1099, 1098 and Form 5498, IRA Contribution Information. Taxpayers can use the information on the transcript to file their tax return.

State-by-state estimates of individuals who may be due 2013 tax refunds:

State or District Estimated

Number of

Individuals

Median

Potential

Refund

Total

Potential

Refunds*

Alabama 18,100 $729 $17,549,000
Alaska 4,700 $917 $5,665,000
Arizona 24,800 $650 $22,642,000
Arkansas 9,900 $722 $9,571,000
California 97,200 $696 $93,406,000
Colorado 20,200 $699 $19,454,000
Connecticut 11,500 $846 $12,691,000
Delaware 4,300 $776 $4,321,000
District of Columbia 3,200 $762 $3,341,000
Florida 66,900 $776 $67,758,000
Georgia 34,400 $671 $32,082,000
Hawaii 6,500 $793 $6,876,000
Idaho 4,500 $619 $3,919,000
Illinois 40,000 $834 $42,673,000
Indiana 21,700 $788 $22,060,000
Iowa 10,200 $808 $10,193,000
Kansas 11,100 $746 $10,700,000
Kentucky 12,900 $772 $12,627,000
Louisiana 20,300 $767 $21,209,000
Maine 4,000 $715 $3,645,000
Maryland 22,200 $770 $23,080,000
Massachusetts 23,000 $838 $24,950,000
Michigan 33,600 $763 $33,998,000
Minnesota 15,600 $691 $14,544,000
Mississippi 10,400 $702 $10,041,000
Missouri 22,400 $705 $20,787,000
Montana 3,600 $727 $3,480,000
Nebraska 5,300 $745 $5,084,000
Nevada 12,300 $753 $12,078,000
New Hampshire 4,400 $892 $4,930,000
New Jersey 29,900 $873 $33,207,000
New Mexico 8,100 $753 $8,162,000
New York 54,700 $847 $59,416,000
North Carolina 29,800 $656 $26,874,000
North Dakota 2,900 $888 $3,209,000
Ohio 36,000 $749 $34,547,000
Oklahoma 17,700 $773 $17,979,000
Oregon 15,500 $658 $14,188,000
Pennsylvania 39,400 $835 $41,078,000
Rhode Island 2,900 $796 $2,906,000
South Carolina 12,100 $674 $11,267,000
South Dakota 2,700 $823 $2,709,000
Tennessee 19,500 $743 $18,829,000
Texas 104,700 $829 $115,580,000
Utah 7,900 $667 $7,443,000
Vermont 2,000 $747 $1,859,000
Virginia 29,000 $752 $29,578,000
Washington 27,600 $829 $30,330,000
West Virginia 5,000 $855 $5,258,000
Wisconsin 12,700 $675 $11,619,000
Wyoming 2,800 $911 $3,189,000
Totals 1,042,100 $763 $1,054,581,000

* Excluding the Earned Income Tax Credit and other credits.

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Arena and Associates – IRS Criminal Investigation

Tax time is around the corner. If you have missing returns and fear the IRS may be ready to take action then call Rob Arena at Arena and Associates, Inc. and get help now.  303-847-4038. Consultations are free.

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2_28_2017

Inside This Issue

IRS Criminal Investigation Releases Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Report

IR-2017-47, Feb. 27, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced the release of its IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) annual report, reflecting the significant accomplishments and criminal enforcement actions taken in fiscal year 2016.

IRS CI initiated 3,395 cases in FY 2016 that focused on tax-related identity theft, money laundering, public corruption, cybercrime and terrorist financing.

“The IRS continues to work to ensure that everyone is playing by the same rules and paying their fair share,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The IRS is committed to fairly administering and enforcing the tax code, and our criminal investigators play a critical role in that effort.”

The CI report is released each year for the purpose of highlighting the agency’s successes while providing a historical snapshot of the make-up and priorities of the organization. The very first Chief of IRS CI, Elmer Lincoln Irey, served from 1919 to 1946 and envisioned releasing such a document each year to showcase the agency’s investigative work.

“I could not be more proud of all that our special agents and professional staff have accomplished in spite of our budget challenges,” said Richard Weber, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation Division. “Though the total number of cases has dropped for the third consecutive year due to fewer agents and professional staff, we have continued to find ways to become even more efficient and the quality of our cases has never been greater.”

CI is the only federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over federal tax crimes. This year, CI again boasted a conviction rate rivaling all of federal law enforcement at 92.1percent. That conviction rate speaks to the thoroughness of the investigations. CI is routinely called upon by prosecutors across the country to lead financial investigations on a wide variety of financial crimes including international tax evasion, identity theft, terrorist financing and transnational organized crime.

CI investigates potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code and related financial crimes in a manner to foster confidence in the tax system and compliance with the law. The 50-page report summarizes a wide variety of IRS CI activity throughout the fiscal year and includes case examples on a range of tax crimes, money laundering, public corruption, terrorist financing and narcotics trafficking financial crimes.

“I’m proud of IRS-CI and the reputation that this agency has as the best financial investigators in the world,” Weber said. “Regardless of our budget challenges over the past several years, I am proud that we have not lost sight of our impact or mission and that the quality of our cases remains high.”

Annual Report: https://www.irs.gov/pub/foia/ig/ci/2016_annual_report_02092017.pdf

 

Arena and Associates, Inc. – Tax Debt Tip of the Day

If you are in need of help with your IRS tax liability – there is no better name in professional help than Rob Arena at Arena and Associates, Inc. Check our website at aataxhelp.com for more information. Call 303-847-4038 for a free consultations.

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Avoid Today’s Rush: Use IRS.gov for Faster Service

WASHINGTON – The Tuesday after Presidents Day marks the single busiest day of the year for telephone calls and visits to the Internal Revenue Service. Taxpayers can find answers faster to most of their questions by using IRS.gov.

The IRS anticipates a high volume of calls today. At peak times, the IRS expects to field thousands of calls per hour. Also, taxpayers are reminded that they need an appointment to visit a Taxpayer Assistance Center.

Whether calling about refunds due, taxes owed, a tax law question, requesting a tax form or inquiring about 2015 adjusted gross income, answers can be found at IRS.gov.

Where’s My Refund? has been updated for those refunds containing the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit that had been held by law. Barring other issues, taxpayers should see those refunds in their financial accounts beginning the week of Feb. 27.

Just a reminder that “Where’s My Refund?” is updated once daily so checking it multiple times per day will not produce new or different results. To use “Where’s My Refund?”, taxpayers need their Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, filing status (single, married filing jointly, etc.) and the exact amount of the refund claimed.

To review online options, visit IRS.gov/avoidtherush where there’s a list of frequent questions and links to other services.

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Inside This Issue

IRS Summarizes “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax Scams for 2017

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WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced the conclusion of its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams. The annual list highlights various schemes that taxpayers may encounter throughout the year, many of which peak during tax-filing season. Taxpayers need to guard against ploys to steal their personal information, scam them out of money or talk them into engaging in questionable behavior with their taxes.

“We continue to work hard to protect taxpayers from identity theft and other scams,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Taxpayers can and should stay alert to new schemes which seem to constantly evolve. We urge them to do all they can to avoid these pitfalls – whether old or new.”

This is the third year the IRS has highlighted its Dirty Dozen list in separate releases over 12 business days. Taxpayers are encouraged to review the list in a special section on IRS.gov and be on the lookout for these con games.

Perpetrators of illegal schemes can face significant fines and possible criminal prosecution. IRS Criminal Investigation works closely with the Department of Justice to shut down scams and prosecute the criminals behind them. Taxpayers should keep in mind that they are legally responsible for what is on their tax return even if it is prepared by someone else. Be sure the preparer is up to the task. For more see the Choosing a Tax Professional page.

Here is a recap of this year’s “Dirty Dozen” scams:

Phishing: Taxpayers need to be on guard against fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers via email about a bill or refund. Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS. Be wary of emails and websites that may be nothing more than scams to steal personal information. (IR-2017-15)

Phone Scams: Phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent years as con artists threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation and license revocation, among other things. (IR-2017-19)

Identity Theft: Taxpayers need to watch out for identity theft especially around tax time. The IRS continues to aggressively pursue the criminals that file fraudulent returns using someone else’s Social Security number. Though the agency is making progress on this front, taxpayers still need to be extremely cautious and do everything they can to avoid being victimized. (IR-2017-22)

Return Preparer Fraud: Be on the lookout for unscrupulous return preparers. The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest high-quality service. There are some dishonest preparers who set up shop each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers. (IR-2017-23)

Fake Charities: Be on guard against groups masquerading as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting contributors. Be wary of charities with names similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Contributors should take a few extra minutes to ensure their hard-earned money goes to legitimate and currently eligible charities. IRS.gov has the tools taxpayers need to check out the status of charitable organizations. (IR-2017-25)

Inflated Refund Claims: Taxpayers should be on the lookout for anyone promising inflated refunds. Be wary of anyone who asks taxpayers to sign a blank return, promises a big refund before looking at their records or charges fees based on a percentage of the refund. Fraudsters use flyers, advertisements, phony storefronts and word of mouth via community groups where trust is high to find victims. (IR-2017-26)

Excessive Claims for Business Credits: Avoid improperly claiming the fuel tax credit, a tax benefit generally not available to most taxpayers. The credit is usually limited to off-highway business use, including use in farming. Taxpayers should also avoid misuse of the research credit. Improper claims often involve failures to participate in or substantiate qualified research activities and/or satisfy the requirements related to qualified research expenses. (IR-2017-27)

Falsely Padding Deductions on Returns: Taxpayers should avoid the temptation to falsely inflate deductions or expenses on their returns to pay less than what they owe or potentially receive larger refunds. Think twice before overstating deductions such as charitable contributions and business expenses or improperly claiming credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit. (IR-2017-28)

Falsifying Income to Claim Credits: Don’t invent income to erroneously qualify for tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. Taxpayers are sometimes talked into doing this by con artists. Taxpayers should file the most accurate return possible because they are legally responsible for what is on their return. This scam can lead to taxpayers facing large bills to pay back taxes, interest and penalties. In some cases, they may even face criminal prosecution. (IR-2017-29)

Abusive Tax Shelters: Don’t use abusive tax structures to avoid paying taxes. The IRS is committed to stopping complex tax avoidance schemes and the people who create and sell them. The vast majority of taxpayers pay their fair share, and everyone should be on the lookout for people peddling tax shelters that sound too good to be true. When in doubt, taxpayers should seek an independent opinion regarding complex products they are offered. (IR-2017-31)

Frivolous Tax Arguments: Don’t use frivolous tax arguments to avoid paying tax. Promoters of frivolous schemes encourage taxpayers to make unreasonable and outlandish claims even though they have been repeatedly thrown out of court. While taxpayers have the right to contest their tax liabilities in court, no one has the right to disobey the law or disregard their responsibility to pay taxes. The penalty for filing a frivolous tax return is $5,000. (IR-2017-33)

Offshore Tax Avoidance: The recent string of successful enforcement actions against offshore tax cheats and the financial organizations that help them shows that it’s a bad bet to hide money and income offshore. Taxpayers are best served by coming in voluntarily and getting caught up on their tax-filing responsibilities. The IRS offers the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program  to enable people to catch up on their filing and tax obligations. (IR-2017-35)

 

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Inside This Issue

IRS Committed to Stopping Offshore Tax Cheating; Remains on “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax Scams for 2017

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WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today said avoiding taxes by hiding money or assets in unreported offshore accounts remains on its 2017 list of tax scams known as the “Dirty Dozen.”

Since the first Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) opened in 2009, there have been more than 55,800 disclosures and the IRS has collected more than $9.9 billion from this initiative alone.

In addition, another 48,000 taxpayers have made use of separate streamlined procedures to correct prior non-willful omissions and meet their federal tax obligations, paying approximately $450 million in taxes, interest and penalties. The IRS conducted thousands of offshore-related civil audits that resulted in the payment of tens of millions of dollars in unpaid taxes. The IRS has also pursued criminal charges leading to billions of dollars in criminal fines and restitutions.

“Offshore compliance remains a top IRS priority. We’ve collected $10 billion in back taxes in recent years with 100,000 taxpayers making use of our voluntary disclosure programs,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The IRS receives more foreign account information each year, making it harder to hide income offshore. I urge taxpayers with international tax issues to come forward and get right with the system.”

Compiled annually, the “Dirty Dozen” lists a variety of common scams that taxpayers may encounter anytime, but many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns or hire people to help with their taxes.

Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties as well as interest and possible criminal prosecution. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division works closely with the Department of Justice to shut down scams and prosecute the criminals behind them.

Hiding Income Offshore

Over the years, numerous individuals have been identified as evading U.S. taxes by attempting to hide income in offshore banks, brokerage accounts or nominee entities. Then access the funds using debit cards, credit cards or wire transfers. Others have employed foreign trusts, employee-leasing schemes, private annuities or insurance plans for the same purpose.

The IRS uses information gained from its investigations to pursue taxpayers with undeclared accounts, as well as bankers and others suspected of helping clients hide their assets overseas.

While there are legitimate reasons for maintaining financial accounts abroad, there are reporting requirements that need to be fulfilled. U.S. taxpayers who maintain such accounts and who do not comply with reporting requirements are breaking the law and risk significant  fines, as well as the possibility of criminal prosecution.

Since 2009, tens of thousands of individuals have come forward to voluntarily disclose their foreign financial accounts, taking advantage of special opportunities to comply with the U.S. tax system and resolve their tax obligations. And, with new foreign account reporting requirements being phased in over the next few years, hiding income offshore is increasingly more difficult.

At the beginning of 2012, the IRS reopened the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program  following continued strong interest from taxpayers and tax practitioners after the closure of the 2011 and 2009 programs. This program will be open for an indefinite period until otherwise announced.

Third-Party Reporting

Under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the network of intergovernmental agreements between the U.S. and partner jurisdictions, automatic third-party account reporting has entered its second year. The IRS continues to receive more information regarding potential non-compliance by U.S. persons because of the Department of Justice’s Swiss Bank Program. This information makes it less likely that offshore financial accounts will go unnoticed by the IRS.

Potential civil penalties increase substantially if U.S. taxpayers associated with participating banks wait to apply to OVDP to resolve their tax obligations.

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