BEWARE IRS SCAM

I just got this in my email today and I’m ashamed to admit that even I fell for it.

[box type="warning"]Dear Chief Accountant Officer, Hereby you are informed that your Income Tax Return Appeal id#4298528 has been DECLINED. If you consider that the IRS did not properly assess your case due to a misinterpretation of the situation, be prepared to clarify and support your position. You can download the rejection report and re-submit your appeal under the following link Online Tax Appeal.[/box]

I clicked on the link and fortunately I use a lynux box and it blocked it as spam.  If you get this DO NOT click the link.  It looks real, the email address is even from irs!  Scams like this abound this time of year adn I’m usually good at spotting them, but this one got me.  Make sure you have a spam filter on and a good firewall.  If you get an email and aren’t sure if it’s real, call the IRS directly or your tax professional to check.

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2011 Tax Organiser available

Download the 2011 Organiser HERE

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2010 Taxes

The tax laws are set and the season is in full swing!  Check out my Organizer to help get all your paperwork in order and then let’s get started!  Remember if you come in before March 15th there is an automatic 10% discount off of my preparer fee.

Download the 2010 Tax Organizer.

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IRS Joins Maryland in suggesting ALL Tax Preparers be certified

No matter who does your taxes, make sure the person you are talking to (not just the person in the back) fulfills all the necessary qualifications.  Maryland Certification doesn’t go into effect until July 2010 and the IRS certification requirements are still in the planning stages but it will happen.  I’m happy to report that I meet all of the criteria required, so the certification is a welcome ruling at FMFS!

“Based on the results of the Return Preparer Review released today, the IRS recommends a number of steps that it plans to implement for future filing seasons, including:

  • Requiring all paid tax return preparers who must sign a federal tax return to register with the IRS and obtain a preparer tax identification number (PTIN). These preparers will be subject to a limited tax compliance check to ensure they have filed federal personal, employment and business tax returns and that the tax due on those returns has been paid.
  • Requiring competency tests for all paid tax return preparers except attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs) and enrolled agents who are active and in good standing with their respective licensing agencies.
  • Requiring ongoing continuing professional education for all paid tax return preparers except attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents and others who are already subject to continuing education requirements.
  • Extending the ethical rules found in Treasury Department Circular 230 — which currently only apply to attorneys, CPAs and enrolled agents who practice before the IRS — to all paid preparers. This expansion would allow the IRS to suspend or otherwise discipline tax return preparers who engage in unethical or disreputable conduct.

Other measures the IRS anticipates taking are highlighted in the full report.”

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IRS Tax Forum 2009

Yesterday was my first day at the IRS National Tax Forum in New York, NY.

The seminars have been informative and interesting.  I’ve learned a few new things and been reminded of a lot of details that the summer had caused to atrophy in my brain.  Most of the seminars this year are focusing on small businesses and 2009 tax law changes.  It’s amazing how much is changing for 2009.  Obama is doing quite a lot o work on the tax code.

On of the seminars I attended though did try to get the accountants in the audience to stand and dance with Ellen Degenerous.  I have to admin that I suddenly had to be somewhere else during that time slot.

Today I head back and have 7 seminars to attend.  Today is all about deling with IRS audits and clients who are in financial distress.  I’m excited and really looking forward to gearing up for tax season again this winter.  These seminars are a great way to reinvigorate after the summer lull.

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Beware of First-Time Homebuyer Credit Fraud

The IRS is cracking down on tax-preparers who either are knowingly committing fraud or who are not up to date on the laws regarding the First-Time Homebuyer Credit!  The First-Time Homebuyer Credit, originally passed in 2008 and modified in 2009, provides up to $8,000 for first-time homebuyers. The purchaser, however, must qualify as a first-time homebuyer.

On  July 23, 2009, a Jacksonville, Fla.-tax preparer pled guilty to falsely claiming the first-time homebuyer credit on a client’s federal tax return. He faces the possibility of up to three years in jail, a fine of as much as $250,000, or both.

“We will vigorously pursue anyone who falsely tries to claim this or any other tax credit or deduction,” said Eileen Mayer, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. “The penalties for tax fraud are steep. Taxpayers should be wary of anyone who promises to get them a big refund.”

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Choosing a Tax Preparer

I recently listened to this IRS webcast: Audio: Conversation with IRS Manager, Melaney J. Partner and thought there were some good tips to pass on. I have included the link to the full text at the bottom of this post.

  • A Paid Preparer is required by law to sign the return and fill in the preparer areas of the form.
  • You are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the return so review the ENTIRE filling.
  • Never sign a blank return, and never sign in pencil.
  • Only you can sign and cash your refund check even if your preparer has Power of Attorney
  • Find a qualified tax professional; unqualified preparers make costly mistakes
  • Avoid preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers.
  • Beware of a preparer who guarantees a refund or charges a percentage of the amount of the refund. A practitioner may not charge a contingent fee (percentage of your refund) for preparing an original tax return.
  • Take no offense to being asked multiple questions, doing so helps the preparer get the most accurate information and ideally the maximum return for you.
  • Choose a preparer you are comfortable with and who is available to answer your questions.
  • Ask who will actually prepare your return before engaging services.
  • Avoid firms that export returns to a foreign country for preparation. Foreign countries do not have the same security and privacy laws as the United States
  • Maryland will require that all paid prepares be credentialed by 2010 so be sure to ask if your preparer is credentialed/licensed or what their plans are to do so.
  • Find out if the preparer is required to complete continuing education

Full text can be found at: http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=133088,00.html

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Income Tax Table Change Effective Immediately

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 which was recently passed contains many issues. New federal withholding tables were released on February 21, 2009 and became effective immediately. Payroll companies are updating their tables and may be in effect as soon as Feb 27th 2009.   Many employees will notice that the tax withholding is down and their net check is up. Individuals and couples with multiple jobs may need to submit revised form W-4 to ensure enough withholding is held to cover the tax for combined incomes.

We suggest that employers request all employees review their current filing status and submit new form W-4 where necessary.

Since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was passed on February 17, the IRS has moved swiftly in implementing the tax related provisions.

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Broker Statement Deadlines

The deadline for sending out statements is Feb. 17 for several forms: 1099-Bs, 1099-Ss and any 1099-MISC forms showing payments of lawyer fees or payments by brokers of substitute dividends or tax-exempt interest. The includes brokers’ annual composite reporting statements.

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1099 Forms due Jan 31, 2009

Don’t forget you need to send out your 1099 Forms and file a 1096 by Jan 31, 2009. We can print them for you here! We need your:

  • Name and address
  • EIN# or SS#
  • Amount paid to each contractor
  • Contractor SS# (or EIN#)
  • Contractor Name and address

IRS Form 1099MISC must be issued to each independent contractor that has received payments that total $600 or more.

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