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Tag Archive for TIGTA

Beware of Phone Calls Purporting To Be From The IRS

We have probably all heard of fraudulent phone calls from groups posing as the IRS. The caller typically demands money or says you have a refund due and asks for private information. If you don’t cooperate, they threaten you with asset seizure, jail time, or other actions. These scams are very pervasive, as I have personally received three of them in the past week. Do not give these callers any personal information.

In a release regarding these calls the IRS, states that they will never:

1. Call to demand immediate payment, nor will we call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal Read more

IRS Office Of Appeals Handling Of Collection Due Process Cases – Still Inadequate!

IRS Building in WashingtonIf you have ever been a victim of IRS lien or levy action you know first hand that it can be unilaterally devastating on many levels and take literally years if not decades to financially overcome. To add insult to injury it gets all the more complicated when the IRS action is taken before you have had the opportunity to exercise your legal appeal rights. The only thing worse in my opinion is when the action is incorrectly taken without proper authority or basis AND the appeal effort is mishandled to boot. For the record this happens quite frequently for a wide variety of reasons.

The US Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) is required by law to determine whether the IRS complied with the provisions of 26 United States Code Sections 6320(b) and (c) and 6330(b) and (c) when taxpayers exercise their rights to appeal the filing of a Notice of Federal Tax Lien or the issuance of a Notice of Intent to Levy. According to a report issued in September by TIGTA additional improvements are STILL needed to ensure that statutory requirements are met by IRS’ Collection Due Process (CDP) Program. Read more

Tax Identity Theft

Crime identity hackingTax identity theft has grown exponentially over the past several years. Identity theft has topped the Internal Revenue Service’s “Dirty Dozen” annual list of tax scams for both 2012 and 2013, and also appeared on the list in 2011. According to the National Taxpayer Advocate Service, identity theft grew by more than 650 percent between fiscal years 2008 and 2012. Unfortunately, the predictions are that this trend will continue, even in the face of growing safeguards that are currently being put into place by the IRS, tax practitioners and taxpayers themselves. An audit report released in August 2012 by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration estimated that during the next five years, the IRS could lose a projected $21 billion to fraudulently claimed tax refunds related to identity theft. This figure, according to TIGTA, takes into account the new fraud controls that the IRS has put in place that the agency touts as having saved $20 billion of fraudulent refunds on 2012 returns alone.

Impact On Individual And Businesses

Generally, identity theft as encountered by the IRS, typically involves a taxpayer’s stolen Social Security number that is then used to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent refund. When the legitimate taxpayer then files their return, the IRS rejects it. The taxpayer must correct the situation to obtain their refund, which in many cases can consume a considerable amount of time, effort and expense. In best-case scenarios, a six-month delay has been common. Identity theft usually plays out differently when a business taxpayer’s identity is stolen. Similar to return filings for individuals, the theft can occur in the form of a fraudulently claimed tax refund, but often involves more subtle schemes that remain undetected until the business receives a notice from a government agency related to unpaid employment taxes, erroneously claimed tax credits, unreported merchant payment card income, and similar business transaction-generated subterfuge. Read more

The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 5 – Controversy #4 & Resolution

iStock_nonprofitXSmallSocial welfare, inappropriateness, resignations, hearings, and complexity—the Sec. 501(c)(4) story has it all…

This blog post is written in five parts:

1.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 1
2.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 2-Plot & Controversy #1
3.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 3-Controversy #2
4.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 4-Controversy #3
5.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 5-Controversy #4 & Resolution

Controversy #4

Is reform needed for Sec. 501 on exempt organizations and Sec. 527 political organizations? The controversies noted above, along with the reality that Sec. 501(c) lists 29 types of nonprofit organizations, indicates the need for simplification and greater certainty. Concern about the political nature of some Sec. 501(c)(4) organizations raises the issue of whether they should be treated as Sec. 527 political organizations or required to publicly disclose donor names (as is required for Sec. 527 donations).

Resolution (Looking Forward)

Certainly, there is much work ahead for Congress and the IRS to complete this story. Likely, Congress will gain a Read more

The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 4 – Controversy #3

iStock_ExclusiveXSmallSocial welfare, inappropriateness, resignations, hearings, and complexity—the Sec. 501(c)(4) story has it all…

This blog post is written in five parts:

1.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 1
2.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 2-Plot and Controversy #1
3.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 3-Controversy #2
4.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 4-Controversy #3
5.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 5-Controversy #4 & Resolution

Controversy #3

What qualifies for Sec. 501(c)(4) status, and how do other rules interact with this provision?

As described earlier, there can easily be challenges in determining if social welfare is an organization’s primary purpose. Other issues also exist. It is still unresolved whether contributions to Sec. 501(c)(4) organizations should subject the donor to gift tax, even though in 2011 the IRS announced it was closing current examinations and suspending further action on that question, noting it was a “difficult area with significant legal, administrative, and policy implications” (IRS memo and website (7/7/11)). Read more

The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 3 – Controversy #2

This blog post is written in five parts:

1.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 1
2.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 2-Plot and Controversy #1
3.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 3-Controversy #2
4.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 4-Controversy #3
5.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 5-Controversy #4 & Resolution

Controversy #2

Who knew what, and were congressional inquiries in recent years answered correctly?

The website for the May 22, 2013, hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform includes Lois Lerner’s answers to TIGTA’s questions. The first question was whether anyone outside of the IRS influenced the selection criteria. Her answer: “To the best of my knowledge, no individual or organization outside the IRS influenced the creation of these criteria.”
 
The House Ways and Means Committee has posted a timeline of when groups and individuals took actions or knew something. The House Committee on Oversight sent a letter to Lerner on May 14, 2013, suggesting that she “provided false or misleading information on four separate occasions last year in response to the Committee’s oversight of IRS’s treatment of conservative groups applying for tax exempt status.” The letter also requests numerous documents for continued investigation. On May 20, 2013, the Senate Finance Committee sent a letter to Acting Commissioner Miller with 41 questions.

The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 2 – Plot and Controversy #1

iStock_Q and AXSmallThis blog post is written in five parts:

1.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 1
2.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 2-Plot and Controversy #1
3.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 3-Controversy #2
4.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 4-Controversy #3
5.  The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 5-Controversy #4 & Resolution

The Plot

The plot of the Sec. 501(c)(4) story revolves around four controversial areas in need of resolution. According to timelines prepared by the House Ways and Means Committee and TIGTA (see TIGTA Rep’t No. 2013-10-053, Inappropriate Criteria Were Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review, pages 30–42), the actions that generated the title for the May 2013 TIGTA report began in March 2010. The plot’s climax was a Q&A at an ABA Tax Section meeting involving Lois G. Lerner, IRS director, Exempt Organizations, that preceded the May 14 release of the TIGTA report. Within days, congressional hearings and additional investigations began, two IRS officials resigned Read more

The Sec. 501(c)(4) Story: Program Notes – Part 1

Hands Raised HiResFor decades, a saga involving Sec. 501(c)(4) has been developing, and it likely reached its climax in the past month. These “program notes” serve to help those watching this drama unfold gain a better understanding of the story. The term “story” is not intended to make light of any of the events or players. A program notes approach is just one way to look at and describe a serious set of events involving a tax provision with inherent challenges for administration and compliance.

Theme

The key theme of the story is tax law complexity and the problems that complexity can generate for both the government agency trying to administer the system and the taxpayers trying to comply with it.

Setting

•  Offices in Cincinnati and Washington, within the IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division.
•  Offices of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
•  Various House and Senate committee hearing rooms.

Characters

•  IRS personnel in the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division (see organizational chart at Exhibit 1), and the IRS deputy commissioner they report to.
•  J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, and TIGTA auditors.
•  Organizations seeking Sec. 501(c)(4) status.
•  Sec. 501(c)(4)—while not a person, this Code provision plays a big role in the story. Read more

TIGTA Study Shows Business Tax Assessments Are Increasing

Assessments against business taxpayers that have not filed required tax returns have soared by nearly 60% according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s (TIGTA) report dated September 17, 2012. However, the IRS needs to improve internal controls to ensure staff follow the correct procedures in documenting the reasons for these assessments, according to this report.

The report found that in 10% of the cases, taxpayers were not provided a full thirty days to respond to proposed assessments prepared for them by IRS before the returns were processed as Collection Field function assessments under tax code Section 6020(b). This is a potential violation of taxpayers’ rights.

TIGTA also determined that during Calendar Year 2008, taxpayers with stand-alone 6020(b) assessments (assessments made in which the taxpayers had potential delinquent returns due but no outstanding tax liabilities) were less compliant in subsequent years than taxpayers without 6020(b) assessments. However, a more in-depth study of delinquent returns in which the for the Small Business/Self-Employed Division. Use of I.R.C. § 6020(b) authority was considered but not used may be needed to better understand these results. The IRS does not track subsequent filing compliance when The IRS has the ability to prepare returns and I.R.C. § 6020(b) authority is used.

IRS Updates e-File System To Prevent Processing Delays

After performance issues to its electronic filing system caused delays in processing tax returns during the 2012 filing season, the Internal Revenue Service has made several enhancements to the system over the past year that are expected to improve the tax-filing process, according to a report released May 30, 2013 by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

The electronic filing system, called Modernized e-File (MeF), enables real-time processing of tax returns while improving error detection, standardizing business rules, and expediting acknowledgments to taxpayers. However, during the 2012 filing season, the IRS had to suspend MeF system processing on at least two occasions to correct system performance issues.

“IRS management noted that the performance issues first experienced on January 17, 2012, might have been caused by the large volume of tax returns received by the MeF system during the first day of processing. According to the IRS, the volume of returns received by the MeF system on January 17, 2012, was one of the largest the IRS had ever received to date,” the TIGTA report states.

“The second incidence of MeF system performance issues started in late January 2012. These issues primarily included delays sending files to downstream systems and delivering of acknowledgments, which resulted in delays in processing individual tax returns.” Read more