IRS expands retirement plan Determination Letter Program and Self- Correction Program

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced the expansion of areas for issuing determination letters for certain retirement plans. Revenue Procedure 2019-20 details the addition of two areas for which retirement plan sponsors may now request determination letters.

In addition, through recently issued guidance, the IRS is also making it easier for plan administrators to correct plan errors.

Highlights of these changes:

Determination Letter Program

The Treasury Department and the IRS received numerous requests to expand the determination letter program. Revenue Procedure 2019-20 expands the determination letter program for two specific categories:

  • Statutory Hybrid Plans – plan sponsors may submit determination letter applications for statutory hybrid plans for the 12-month period beginning Sept.1, 2019, and ending Aug. 31, 2020.
  • Plan Mergers – plan sponsors may submit determination letter applications for certain merged plans on an ongoing basis.

As provided in prior guidance, plan sponsors will continue to be able to submit a determination letter application for initial plan qualification and for qualification upon plan termination.

Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System

On April 19, 2019, the IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2019-19, which expands the Self-Correction Program for retirement plans to enable plan sponsors to fix certain plan document and operational failures (including plan loan issues) without having to file a Voluntary Correction Program submission with the IRS.

Starting on April 19, the Self-Correction Program permits the self-correction of certain plan document failures, provides correction options and possible relief from deemed distributions associated with certain failures involving plan loans made to participants, and provides additional opportunities for correcting certain operational failures by plan amendment.

The IRS provides three correction programs for employee plans:

  • Self-Correction Program (SCP) – permits plan sponsors to correct certain plan failures without contacting the IRS or paying a user fee.
  • Voluntary Correction Program (VCP) – allows plan sponsors to correct failures not eligible for self-correction or to obtain the IRS’s written agreement that specified failures were properly corrected.
  • Audit Closing Agreement Program – enables plan sponsors to resolve failures discovered during an IRS audit.

 

 

*This message was distributed by IRS Newswire, an IRS e-mail service. For more information on federal taxes please visit IRS.gov.

Six things taxpayers should know about the sharing economy and their taxes

From renting spare rooms and vacation homes to car rides or using a bike…name a service and it’s probably available through the sharing economy. Taxpayers who participate in the sharing economy can find helpful resources in the IRS Sharing Economy Tax Center on IRS.gov. It  helps taxpayers understand how this activity affects their taxes. It also gives these taxpayers information to help them meet their tax obligations.

Here are six things taxpayers should know about how the sharing economy might affect their taxes:

  1. The activity is taxable.
    Sharing economy activity is generally taxable. It is taxable even when:
  • The activity is only part time
  • The activity is something the taxpayer does on the side
  • Payments are in cash
  • The taxpayer receives an information return – like a Form 1099 or Form W2
  1. Some expenses are deductible.
    Taxpayers who participate in the sharing economy may be able to deduct certain expenses. For example, a taxpayer who uses their car for business may qualify to claim the standard mileage rate, which is 58 cents per mile for 2019.3. There are special rules for rentals.
    If a taxpayer rents out their home or apartment, but also lives in it during the year, special rules generally apply to their taxes. Taxpayers can use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool, Is My Residential Rental Income Taxable and/or Are My Expenses Deductible? to determine if their residential rental income is taxable.

    4. Participants may need to make estimated tax payments.
    The U.S. tax system is pay-as-you-go. This means that taxpayers involved in the sharing economy often need to make estimated tax payments during the year. These payments are due on April 15, June 15, Sept. 15 and Jan. 15. Taxpayers use Form 1040-ES to figure these payments.

    5. There are different ways to pay.
    The fastest and easiest way to make estimated tax payments is through IRS Direct Pay. Alternatively, taxpayers can use the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.

    6. Taxpayers should check their withholding.
    Taxpayers involved in the sharing economy who are employees at another job can often avoid making estimated tax payments by having more tax withheld from their paychecks. These taxpayers can use the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov to determine how much tax their employer should withhold. After determining the amount of their withholding, the taxpayer will file Form W-4 with their employer to request the additional withholding.

IRS YouTube Videos:
Your Taxes in the Sharing Economy – English | ASL

 

 

*This message was distributed by IRS Tax Tips, an IRS e-mail service. For more information on federal taxes please visit IRS.gov.

Don’t fall for myth-leading information about tax refunds

Now that the April tax-filing deadline has come and gone, many taxpayers are eager to get details about their tax refunds. When it comes to refunds, there are several common myths going around social media.

Here are five of these common myths:

Myth 1: Getting a refund this year means there’s no need to adjust withholding for 2019
To help avoid an unexpected tax outcome next year, taxpayers should make changes now to prepare for next year. One way for a taxpayer to do this is to adjust their tax withholding with their employer. The IRS encourages people to do a Paycheck Checkup using the IRS Withholding Calculator to determine whether their employer is withholding the right amount. This is especially important for anyone who got an unexpected result from filing their tax return this year. This could have happened because the taxpayer’s employer withheld too much or too little tax from the employee’s paycheck in 2018.

Myth 2: Calling the IRS or a tax professional will provide a better refund date
Many people mistakenly think that talking to the IRS or calling their tax professional is the best way to find out when they will get their refund. In reality, the best way to check the status of a refund is online through the “Where’s My Refund?” tool at IRS.gov or with the IRS2Go mobile app. Taxpayers without Internet access can call the automated refund hotline at 800-829-1954. “Where’s My Refund?” has the same information available to IRS telephone assistors, so there is no need to call unless “Where’s My Refund?” says to do so.

Myth 3: Ordering a tax transcript is a ‘secret way’ to get a refund date
Doing so will not help taxpayers find out when they will get their refund. “Where’s My Refund?” tells the taxpayer their tax return has been received and if the IRS has approved or sent the refund.

Myth 4: ‘Where’s My Refund?’ must be wrong because there’s no deposit date yet
Updates to “Where’s My Refund?” ‎on both IRS.gov and the IRS2Go mobile app are made once each day. These updates are usually made overnight. Even though the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, it’s possible a refund may take longer. This means that in some cases, a taxpayer who filed later may receive their refund sooner than someone who filed earlier in the season. The IRS contacts a taxpayer by mail when it needs more information to process their tax return. Taxpayers should also remember to consider the time it takes for the banks to post the refund to the taxpayer’s account. Taxpayers waiting for a refund in the mail should plan for the time it takes a check to arrive.

Myth 5: ‘Where’s My Refund?’ must be wrong because a refund amount is less than expected
There are several factors that could cause a tax refund to be larger or smaller than expected. Situations that could decrease a refund include:

  • The taxpayer made math errors or mistakes
  • The taxpayer owes federal taxes for a prior year
  • The taxpayer owes state taxes, child support, student loans or other delinquent federal nontax obligations
  • The IRS holds a portion of the refund while it reviews an item claimed on the return

The IRS will mail the taxpayer a letter of explanation if these adjustments are made. Some taxpayers may also receive a letter from the Department of Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service if their refund was reduced to offset certain financial obligations.

 

 

*This message was distributed by IRS Tax Tips, an IRS e-mail service. For more information on federal taxes please visit IRS.gov.

ID theft: Here’s what to look for and what to do when it happens

Tax-related identity theft occurs when a thief uses someone’s stolen Social Security number to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent refund. The victim may be unaware that this has happened until they e-file their return. Even before the victim files their return, the IRS may send the taxpayer a letter saying the agency identified a suspicious return using the stolen SSN.

Here are some things people should know about identity theft, including warning signs and steps to take after identity theft occurs.

Warning signs that a theft occurs
Taxpayers should be alert to possible tax-related identity theft if they are contacted by the IRS or their tax preparer about:

  • More than one tax return being filed using the taxpayer’s SSN.
  • Additional tax owed.
  • A refund offset.
  • Collection actions taken against the taxpayer for a year when they did not file a tax return.
  • IRS records indicating they received wages or other income from an employer for whom the taxpayer did not work.

Taxpayers who suspect they are a victim of ID theft should continue to pay their taxes and file their tax return, even if they must do so on paper.

Steps to take if someone becomes a victim
The taxpayer should:

  • File a complaint with the FTC at identitytheft.gov.
  • Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on their credit records.
  • Contact their financial institutions to close any financial or credit accounts opened without permission or that were tampered with by identity thieves.
  • Respond immediately to any IRS notice and call the number provided in the letter.
  • Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. They can use a fillable form on IRS.gov, print it, then attach the form to their tax return and mail according to instructions.

Taxpayers who previously contacted the IRS and did not have a resolution can contact the agency for specialized assistance at 1-800-908-4490.

Taxpayers should remember that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and through social media channels.

People can report suspicious online or emailed phishing scams to: phishing@irs.gov. For phishing scams by phone, fax or mail, call 1-800-366-4484. They can report IRS impersonation scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s IRS Impersonation Scams Reporting.

More information:
Identity Protection
Data Theft Information for Tax Professionals
Small Business Information Security: The Fundamentals

 

 

 

*This message was distributed by IRS Tax Tips, an IRS e-mail service. For more information on federal taxes please visit IRS.gov.

Extension filers should avoid these errors when filing their tax return

Just like taxpayers who file their taxes by the April deadline, those who filed an extension should also do everything to make sure their tax return is complete and accurate. Errors on a tax return can mean it will take longer for the IRS to process the return, which in turn, could delay a refund.

Taxpayers should remember they can avoid many common errors by filing electronically or by using IRS Free File. Filing electronically is the most accurate way to file a tax return.

Taxpayers who filed an extension and who are filing their taxes this summer should avoid making these common errors:

  • Missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers. The taxpayer should be sure to enter each SSN on a tax return exactly as printed on the Social Security card.
  • Misspelled names. Taxpayers should spell all names listed on a tax return exactly as listed on the individuals’ Social Security cards.
  • Filing status.  Some taxpayers claim the wrong filing status, such as Head of Household instead of Single. The Interactive Tax Assistant on IRS.gov can help taxpayers choose the correct status. E-file software also helps prevent these mistakes.
  • Math mistakes. Math errors are common on paper returns. These can range from simple addition and subtraction to more complex calculations. Taxpayers should always double check their math. Better yet, they should consider filing electronically. Tax preparation software does all the math automatically.
  • Mistakes made when figuring credits. Taxpayers can make mistakes when figuring things like their Earned Income Tax Credit and Child and Dependent Care Credit. Taxpayers should follow the instructions carefully, and double check the information they enter when filing electronically. The IRS Interactive Tax Assistant can help determine if a taxpayer is eligible for certain tax credits.
  • Incorrect bank account numbers. Taxpayers who are due a refund should choose direct deposit as this will get their money right in their bank account. However, the IRS cautions taxpayers to use the right routing and account numbers on the tax return. It’s a good idea to double and triple check the numbers they enter.
  • Unsigned forms. An unsigned tax return isn’t valid. Both spouses must sign a joint return. Taxpayers can avoid this error by filing their return electronically and digitally signing it before sending it to the IRS. Taxpayers who are using a tax software product for the first time will need their adjusted gross income from their 2017 tax return to file electronically. Taxpayers who are using the same tax software they used last year usually will not need to enter prior-year information to electronically sign their 2018 tax return.
  • An expired ITIN. The IRS  treats  a return filed with an expired Individual Tax Identification Number as filed on time, but there may be delays in processing it. Taxpayers will receive a notice explaining that an ITIN must be current before the IRS will pay a refund. Once the taxpayer renews the ITIN, the IRS will process the tax return and pay any allowed refund.

 

*This message was distributed from IRS Tax Tips. For more information on federal taxes please visit IRS.gov.

Updated pub helps taxpayers understand an offer in compromise

The IRS just issued an updated publication with information for individual taxpayers and business owners unable to pay their taxes. This electronic pub, Offer in Compromise Booklet, helps people understand how an offer in compromise works.

An offer in compromise is an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles a tax debt for less than the full amount owed. An offer in compromise is an option when a taxpayer can’t pay their full tax liability. It is also an option when paying the entire tax bill would cause the taxpayer a financial hardship. The ultimate goal is a compromise that suits the best interest of both the taxpayer and the agency.

When reviewing applications, the IRS considers the taxpayer’s unique set of facts and any special circumstances affecting the taxpayer’s ability to pay as well as the taxpayer’s:

  • Income
  • Expenses
  • Asset equity

The booklet covers everything a taxpayer will need to know about submitting an offer in compromise, including:

  • Who is eligible to submit an offer
  • How much it costs to apply
  • How the application process works

The booklet also includes the forms that taxpayers will complete as part of the offer in compromise process.

More information:

 

 

*This message was distributed from IRS Tax Tips. For more information on federal taxes please visit IRS.gov.

5 Tips To Close The Tax Season

1. Back-Up and Protect Your Data
As the tax preparer, backing up and protecting your data should be a primary concern. Making regular backups to an external storage device at a minimum of once per week is important. Imagine next week your hard drive fails. The returns you’ve done, acknowledgement reports, PDF copies, and scanned documents are gone. Without a backup, your only hope is to take your computer to a technician who is going to charge hundreds of dollars to attempt to recover data and there is no guarantee they succeed. If they can’t recover the data, hopefully you had paper copies, but it could take hundreds of man hours reinputting data. If you don’t have paper copies, well, we hope you are lucky enough to never get audited. If you have a backup, you would only need to spend a couple hours bringing your data over and you’d be ready to go. Taxware does NOT store a copy of your data. Seek competent technical advice to keep your computers and data protected.

2. Don’t Forget to Pull in Acknowledgements
As a security measure we purge acknowledgement records every 30 days. This means after 30 days we will only be able to tell if the return was accepted or rejected, however we will not be able to read the reason why the return was rejected. If you have returns that are awaiting acknowledgement for longer than 5 days, call technical support and a technician will investigate why your acknowledgements have not come through.

3. Have Last Minute Rejects?
Don’t stress, if you get a rejected return on April 15th the IRS gives you a 3 day grace period to fix it!

4. Start your Free Trial with Textellent.com
Do you want to grow your business for the 2019 Tax year?  Now is the time to evaluate and start your free trial with Textellent, the text marketing and appointment scheduling platform that is fully integrated within your Wintax program.  Just one short on-boarding appointment and you will be up and running.  Doing this in the off-season should help you have the time to really delve into the many benefits and options this additional program could provide you and your business.

5. Celebrate!
Last but not least, plan and go on vacation! You deserve it! TripAdvisor is one of our favorites.

Client Comparison and Batch Extensions using Wintax NextGen 2018

Towards the end of tax season, we field some telephone calls helping clients transmit extension form 4868 for their clients. When the telephone call is about finished the client will make a comment something along the lines of “thanks, one down 40 to go!”. It’s about that time Taxware customer support becomes their best friend when they let them know that there is an easier way to do all their extensions in a batch.

In the program we have a utility that compares your current year data folder with your prior year data folder to build a database of the tax payers you haven’t recalled and worked with yet. With this database you can send extensions in a batch. In addition to its main functions there are some other great reports and tools.

Here is a link for a step by step guide showing how to use the comparison tool and how to batch e-file extensions.

With new SALT limit, IRS explains tax treatment of state and local tax refunds

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service on Friday, March 29th clarified the tax treatment of state and local tax refunds arising from any year in which the new limit on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction is in effect.

In Revenue Ruling 2019-11 (PDF), posted on IRS.gov, the IRS provided four examples illustrating how the long-standing tax benefit rule interacts with the new SALT limit to determine the portion of any state or local tax refund that must be included on the taxpayer’s federal income tax return. Friday’s announcement does not affect state tax refunds received in 2018 for tax returns currently being filed.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), enacted in December 2017, limited the itemized deduction for state and local taxes to $5,000 for a married person filing a separate return and $10,000 for all other tax filers. The limit applies to tax years 2018 to 2025.

As in the past, state and local tax refunds are not subject to tax if a taxpayer chose the standard deduction for the year in which the tax was paid. But if a taxpayer itemized deductions for that year on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, part or all of the refund may be subject to tax, to the extent the taxpayer received a tax benefit from the deduction.

Taxpayers who are impacted by the SALT limit—those taxpayers who itemize deductions and who paid state and local taxes in excess of the SALT limit—may not be required to include the entire state or local tax refund in income in the following year. A key part of that calculation is determining the amount the taxpayer would have deducted had the taxpayer only paid the actual state and local tax liability—that is, no refund and no balance due.

In one example described in the ruling, a single taxpayer itemizes and claims deductions totaling $15,000 on the taxpayer’s 2018 federal income tax return. A total of $12,000 in state and local taxes is listed on the return, including state and local income taxes of $7,000. Because of the limit, however, the taxpayer’s SALT deduction is only $10,000. In 2019, the taxpayer receives a $750 refund of state income taxes paid in 2018, meaning the taxpayer’s actual 2018 state income tax liability was $6,250 ($7,000 paid minus $750 refund). Accordingly, the taxpayer’s 2018 SALT deduction would still have been $10,000, even if it had been figured based on the actual $6,250 state and local income tax liability for 2018. The taxpayer did not receive a tax benefit on the taxpayer’s 2018 federal income tax return from the taxpayer’s overpayment of state income tax in 2018. Thus, the taxpayer is not required to include the taxpayer’s 2019 state income tax refund on the taxpayer’s 2019 return.

See the ruling for details on all four examples.

Friday’s ruling has no impact on state or local tax refunds received in 2018 and reportable on 2018 returns taxpayers are filing this season. For information, including worksheets for reporting these refunds, see the 2018 instructions (PDF) for Form 1040 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, and Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income.

 

 

*This message was distributed by IRS Newswire, an IRS e-mail service. For more information on federal taxes please visit IRS.gov.

IRS revises EIN application process; seeks to enhance security

WASHINGTON — As part of its ongoing security review, the Internal Revenue Service announced today that starting May 13 only individuals with tax identification numbers may request an Employer Identification Number (EIN) as the “responsible party” on the application.

An EIN is a nine-digit tax identification number assigned to sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, estates, trusts, employee retirement plans and other entities for tax filing and reporting purposes.

The change will prohibit entities from using their own EINs to obtain additional EINs. The requirement will apply to both the paper Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number, and online EIN application.

Individuals named as responsible party must have either a Social Security number (SSN) or an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). By making the announcement weeks in advance, entities and their representatives will have time to identify the proper responsible official and comply with the new policy.

The Form SS-4 Instructions provide a detailed explanation of who should be the responsible party for various types of entities. Generally, the responsible party is the person who ultimately owns or controls the entity or who exercises ultimate effective control over the entity. In cases where more than one person meets that definition, the entity may decide which individual should be the responsible party.

Only governmental entities (federal, state, local and tribal) are exempt from the responsible party requirement as well as the military, including state national guards.

There is no change for tax professionals who may act as third-party designees for entities and complete the paper or online applications on behalf of clients.

The new requirement will provide greater security to the EIN process by requiring an individual to be the responsible party and improve transparency. If there are changes to the responsible party, the entity can change the responsible official designation by completing Form 8822-B, Change of Address or Responsible Party. A Form 8822-B must be filed within 60 days of a change.

 

*This message was distributed by IRS Newswire, an IRS e-mail service. For more information on federal taxes please visit IRS.gov.