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2017 IRS Data Book Shows Chances Of Being Audited

Ephraim Moss, Tax Advisor, Tax Blog, New York, USA, TaxConnections

The IRS has published the 2017 version of its annual IRS Data Book, which contains statistical information about the IRS and taxpayer activities during the previous year. The IRS Data Book helps illustrate the breadth and complexity of the U.S. tax system. According to the Data Book, during fiscal year 2017 (Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017), the IRS collected overall more than US$ 3.4 trillion from taxpayers, processed more than 245 million tax returns and other forms, and issued more than $436 billion in tax refunds.

The IRS also audited almost 1.1 million tax returns during fiscal year 2017.  Almost 90% of the audited returns were individual income tax returns. While the percentage of overall returns audited was relatively low at 0.5% overall, the percentages were significantly higher for two types of taxpayers – wealthy individuals and individuals filing international returns. Read more

Newly-Revised Estimated Tax Form And Publication Can Help People Pay The Right Amount

Tom Kerester, Tax Ambassador, Tax Blog, Washington D.C., USA, TaxConnections

WASHINGTON – With tax reform bringing major changes for the year ahead, the Internal Revenue Service today reminded the many self-employed individuals, retirees, investors and others who need to pay their taxes quarterly that the first estimated tax payment for 2018 is due on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, enacted in December 2017, changed the way tax is calculated for most taxpayers, including those with substantial income not subject to withholding. Among other things, the new law changed the tax rates and brackets, revised business expense deductions, increased the standard deduction, removed personal exemptions, increased the child tax credit and limited or discontinued certain deductions. As a result, many taxpayers may need to raise or lower the amount of tax they pay each quarter through the estimated tax system. Read more

What Is Wrong With IRS User Fees?

Nina Olson, Tax Advocate, Tax Blog, Washington D.C., USA, TaxConnections

The IRS has been increasing user fees to fund its operations. It recently increased or proposed to increase a wide range of fees including the fees for installment agreements (IAs)offers-in-compromise (OICs)pre-filing agreements (PFAs)private letter rulings (PLRs), and special enrollment examinations (SEE). I raised concerns about these increases in my 2015 and 2017 Annual Reports to Congress.

On Feb. 9, 2018, Congress enacted the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-123), which addresses concerns about the IRS’s largest fee revenue generator – the IA fee increases. The law prevents the IRS from increasing the IA fee again without legislation. It also requires the IRS to waive or refund the fee for taxpayers with income below 250 percent of the federal poverty level who authorize the IRS to directly debit the IA payments (DDIA) from a bank account or who cannot set up a DDIA (e.g., because they do not have a bank account). This legislation suggests that Congress shares some of my concerns. This blog summarizes our concerns. Read more

Inflation Adjustments Under Recently Enacted Tax Law

Tom Kerester, Tax Blog, Tax Ambassador, Washington D.C., USA, TaxConnections

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service has updated the tax year 2018 annual inflation adjustments to reflect changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The tax year 2018 adjustments are generally used on tax returns filed in 2019.

The tax items affected by TCJA for tax year 2018 of greatest interest to most taxpayers include the following dollar amounts: Read more

IRS Audit Rates Continue Downward Spiral

IRS, IRS Audit, Individual Tax, Mile IQ, Tax Blog, TaxConnections

For years, IRS audit rates have been declining as Congress has cut the IRS budget and its workforce has shrunk. The agency has relapsed its audit statistics for 2017, which marked the sixth consecutive year that audit rates have gone down.

The number of people audited by the IRS in 2016 dropped to just over 1 million. The last time so few people were audited was 2004. Since then, the U.S. has added about 30 million people. Read more

IRS Approves Extended Retirement Plan Distributions To A Trust

Mark Sommer, Tax Blog, Tax Advisor, Louisville, Kentucky, USA, TaxConnections
Many people want to leave the substantial wealth they have accumulated in retirement accounts in trust for their beneficiaries, rather than having the retirement accounts pass outright to them.  However, the IRS has established extremely complicated rules governing when retirement plan, IRA and Section 403(b) annuity contracts payable to a trust can be distributed over the life expectancy of one of the trust beneficiaries, rather than under the general five year distribution time limit.

Read more

IRS Tax Discharge Explained

Mishkin Santa, Tax Advisor, Tax Blog, Austin, Texas, USA, TaxConnections

In some instances, tax liabilities can be discharged by filing bankruptcy. There are two main types of bankruptcy available (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13), each with definitive and complicated rules regarding discharging tax liabilities. In both instances, the following must be true:

  • Tax returns were timely filed or it has been at least 2 years since the returns were filed
  • Tax returns were last due to be filed for at least 3 years, including extensions
  • Tax liability was assessed at least 240 days before filing bankruptcy
  • Taxpayer did not pursue tax evasion or defeat
  • Tax liability is not due to a fraudulent tax return
  • Tax was not assessable at the time of filing bankruptcy
  • Liability is not due on Trust Fund Tax
  • Tax was unsecured

Read more

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson Testifies

Nina Olson, Taxpayer Advocate, Tax Blog, Washington D.C., USA, TaxConnections

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson testified before the House Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits, and Administrative Rules and Subcommittee on Government Operations Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Oversight today at a hearing entitled, “Continued Oversight Over the Internal Revenue Service.”

As you know, I lead the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), an independent organization within the IRS that advocates for taxpayers. TAS has two main functions – “case advocacy” and “systemic advocacy.” In most years our case advocacy operations
assist more than 200,000 taxpayers in resolving account problems with the IRS.2 On the systemic side, TAS identifies problems that are harming groups of taxpayers, and we make administrative and legislative recommendations to mitigate those problems.

Read more

Important Facts To Know About IRS Levy

Bernell Ward, Tax Advisor, Tax Blog, Bronx, New York, USA, TaxConnections

A levy is a legal seizure of your property to satisfy a tax debt. Refusal to pay the tax will have the following result. The IRS will usually issue a levy after they assess the tax and send a tax bill or a Notice and Demand for Payment.

If you still refuse to pay, then the IRS will issue a Final Notice of Intent to Levy and Notice of Your Right to a Hearing at least 30 days before the levy. The IRS may give you this notice in person, leave it at your home or business, or send it to your last known address by certified or registered mail with return receipt request. Read more

One Of The Latest Tax Scams To Be Aware Of And How It Works

Tax Scam, IRS Scam, Barry Fowler, Tax Blog, Tax Advisor, Houston, Texas, USA, TaxConnections

I have written frequently about the multitude of tax scams.

And once again, the scammers have found a way to play to and outwit your insatiable curiosity. Here’s one of the latest scams to be aware of, and how it works.

Scammers know that more and more people are screening and not answering calls from unrecognized or private numbers. So now, the crooks have developed software that allows them to display irresistible ‘fake’ numbers. Read more

Combat Zone Tax Benefits Now Available To Armed Forces Members Who Served In The Sinai Peninsula

Tom Kerester, Tax Ambassador, Tax Blog, Washington D.C., USA, TaxConnections

WASHINGTON — U.S. Armed Forces members who served in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt may qualify for combat zone tax benefits retroactive to June 2015, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) enacted in December 2017, members of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Coast Guard who performed services in the Sinai Peninsula can now claim combat zone tax benefits. Eligible service members should review Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide, available on IRS.gov. Read more

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