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Henderson CPA-Tax Industry Warn Employers to Beware of Form W-2 Scam; Tax Season Could Bring New Surge in Phishing Scheme

Posted by Henderson CPA Tips Posted on Jan 19 2018
Henderson NV – The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry today urged all employers to educate their payroll personnel about a Form W-2 phishing scam that made victims of hundreds of organizations and thousands of employees last year.
The Form W-2 scam has emerged as one of the most dangerous phishing emails in the tax community. During the last two tax seasons, cybercriminals tricked payroll personnel or people with access to payroll information into disclosing sensitive information for entire workforces. The scam affected all types of employers, from small and large businesses to public schools and universities, hospitals, tribal governments and charities.
Reports to phishing@irs.gov from victims and nonvictims about this scam jumped to approximately 900 in 2017, compared to slightly over 100 in 2016. Last year, more than 200 employers were victimized, which translated into hundreds of thousands of employees who had their identities compromised.
By alerting employers now, the IRS and its partners in the Security Summit effort hope to limit the success of this scam in 2018. The IRS last year also created a new process by which employers should report these scams. There are steps the IRS can take to protect employees, but only if the agency is notified immediately by employers about the theft.
Here’s how the scam works: Cybercriminals do their homework, identifying chief operating officers, school executives or others in positions of authority. Using a technique known as business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES), fraudsters posing as executives send emails to payroll personnel requesting copies of Forms W-2 for all employees.
The Form W-2 contains the employee’s name, address, Social Security number, income and withholdings. Criminals use that information to file fraudulent tax returns, or they post it for sale on the Dark Net.
The initial email may be a friendly, “hi, are you working today” exchange before the fraudster asks for all Form W-2 information. In several reported cases, after the fraudsters acquired the workforce information, they immediately followed that up with a request for a wire transfer.
In addition to educating payroll or finance personnel, the IRS and Security Summit partners also urge employers to consider creating a policy to limit the number of employees who have authority to handle Form W-2 requests and that they require additional verification procedures to validate the actual request before emailing sensitive data such as employee Form W-2s.
If the business or organization victimized by these attacks notifies the IRS, the IRS can take steps to help prevent employees from being victims of tax-related identity theft. However, because of the nature of these scams, some businesses and organizations did not realize for days, weeks or months that they had been scammed. 
The IRS established a special email notification address specifically for employers to report Form W-2 data thefts. Here’s how Form W-2 scam victims can notify the IRS:
Email dataloss@irs.gov to notify the IRS of a Form W-2 data loss and provide contact information, as listed below.
In the subject line, type “W2 Data Loss” so that the email can be routed properly. Do not attach any employee personally identifiable information data.
Include the following:
Business name
Business employer identification number (EIN) associated with the data loss
Contact name
Contact phone number
Summary of how the data loss occurred
Volume of employees impacted

Steve Giorgione CPA Alert - IRS Issues Urgent Warning to Beware IRS/FBI-Themed Ransomware Scam

Posted by Henderson CPA Tips Posted on Aug 29 2017
 
 
https://www.stgcpa.com/siteAssets/site9150/images/Henderson_CPA_alert_238x160.jpg WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today warned people to avoid a new phishing scheme that impersonates the IRS and the FBI as part of a ransomware scam to take computer data hostage.
The scam email uses the emblems of both the IRS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It tries to entice users to select a “here” link to download a fake FBI questionnaire. Instead, the link downloads a certain type of malware called ransomware that prevents users from accessing data stored on their device unless they pay money to the scammers.
“This is a new twist on an old scheme,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “People should stay vigilant against email scams that try to impersonate the IRS and other agencies that try to lure you into clicking a link or opening an attachment. People with a tax issue won’t get their first contact from the IRS with a threatening email or phone call."
The IRS, state tax agencies and tax industries – working in partnership as the Security Summit – currently are conducting an awareness campaign called Don’t Take the Bait, that includes warning tax professionals about the various types of phishing scams, including ransomware. The IRS highlighted this issue in an Aug. 1 news release IR-2017-125 Don’t Take the Bait, Step 4: Defend against Ransomware.
Victims should not pay a ransom. Paying it further encourages the criminals, and frequently the scammers won’t provide the decryption key even after a ransom is paid.
Victims should immediately report any ransomware attempt or attack to the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.IC3.gov. Forward any IRS-themed scams to phishing@irs.gov.
The IRS does not use email, text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds. For more information, visit the “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” page on IRS.gov. Additional information about tax scams is available on IRS social media sites, including YouTube videos.
If you are a tax professional and registered e-Services user who disclosed any credential information, contact the e-Services Help Desk to reset your e-Services password. If you disclosed information and taxpayer data was stolen, contact your local stakeholder liaison. 

Las Vegas CPA Shares - Scammers pretending to be from the IRS continue to target taxpayers.

Posted by Henderson CPA Tips Posted on Aug 15 2017
These scams take many different forms. Among the most common are phone calls and fake emails. Thieves use the IRS name, logo or a fake website to try and steal money from taxpayers. Identity theft can also happen with such scams.
 
Taxpayers need to be cautious of phone calls or automated messages from scammers who claim to be from the IRS. These criminals often say the taxpayer owes money. They also demand immediate payment. Scammers also lie to taxpayers and say they are due a refund. They do this to lure their victims into giving their bank account information over the phone. The IRS warns taxpayers not to fall for these scams.
 
Below are tips that will help avoid becoming a victim during the summer months and throughout the year:
The IRS will NOT:
Call to demand immediate payment using specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS first mails a bill to taxpayers who owe taxes. If the IRS assigns a case to a Private Debt Collector (PCA), both the IRS and the authorized collection agency send a letter to the taxpayer. Payment is always to the United States Treasury.
Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
Demand payment of taxes without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
If a taxpayer does not owe any tax, they should:
Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use TIGTA’s “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page to report the incident.
Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your report.
If a taxpayer is not sure whether they owe any tax, they can view their tax account information on IRS.gov to find out.
Taxpayers should also watch out for emails and websites looking to steal personal information. An IRS phishing scam is an unsolicited, bogus email that claims to come from the IRS. Criminals often use fake refunds, phony tax bills or threats of an audit. Some emails link to fake websites that look real. The scammers’ goal is to lure victims to give up their personal and financial information. If they’re successful, they use it to steal a victim’s money and their identity.
For  taxpayers who get a ‘phishing’ email, the IRS offers this advice:
Don’t reply to the message.
Don’t give out personal or financial information.
Forward the email to phishing@irs.gov. Then delete it.
Do not open any attachments or click on any links. They may have malicious code that will infect your computer.
More information on how to report phishing or phone scams is available on IRS.gov/phishing.

Henderson CPA ask Do you Know the Rules?

Posted by Henderson CPA Tips Posted on May 01 2017

Employee or Independent Contractor?

https://www.stgcpa.com/siteAssets/site9150/images/Henderson_CPA_site_question.jpg

Know the Rules
The IRS encourages all businesses and business owners to know the rules when it comes to classifying a worker as an employee or an independent contractor.
An employer must withhold income taxes and pay Social Security, Medicare taxes and unemployment tax on wages paid to an employee. Employers normally do not have to withhold or pay any taxes on payments to independent contractors.
Here are two key points for small business owners to keep in mind when it comes to classifying workers:
1. Control. The relationship between a worker and a business is important. If the business controls what work is accomplished and directs how it is done, it exerts behavioral control. If the business directs or controls financial and certain relevant aspects of a worker’s job, it exercises financial control. This includes:
•    The extent of the worker's investment in the facilities or tools used in performing services 
•    The extent to which the worker makes his or her services available to the relevant market 
•    How the business pays the worker, and 
•    The extent to which the worker can realize a profit or incur a loss 
2. Relationship. How the employer and worker perceive their relationship is also important for determining worker status. Key topics to think about include:
•    Written contracts describing the relationship the parties intended to create 
•    Whether the business provides the worker with employee-type benefits, such as insurance, a pension plan, vacation or sick pay 
•    The permanency of the relationship, and 
•    The extent to which services performed by the worker are a key aspect of the regular business of the company 
•    The extent to which the worker has unreimbursed business expenses 

CPA in Henderson NV Shares IRS Info New IRS Page Imposter.

Posted by Henderson CPA Tips Posted on Apr 21 2017

The Internal Revenue Service has created a special new page on IRS.gov to help taxpayers determine if a person visiting their home or place of business claiming to be from the IRS is legitimate or an imposter.
With continuing phone scams and in-person scams taking place across the country, the IRS reminds taxpayers that IRS employees do make official, sometimes unannounced, visits to taxpayers as part of their routine casework. Taxpayers should keep in mind the reasons these visits occur and understand how to verify if it is the IRS knocking at their door.
Visits typically fall into three categories:
IRS revenue officers will sometimes make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss taxes owed or tax returns due. Revenue officers are IRS civil enforcement employees whose role involves education, investigation, and when necessary, appropriate enforcement.
IRS revenue agents will sometimes visit a taxpayer who is being audited. That taxpayer would have first been notified by mail about the audit and set an agreed-upon appointment time with the revenue agent. Also, after mailing an initial appointment letter to a taxpayer, an auditor may call to confirm and discuss items pertaining to the scheduled audit appointment.
IRS criminal investigators may visit a taxpayer’s home or place of business unannounced while conducting an investigation. However, these are federal law enforcement agents, and they will not demand any sort of payment. Criminal investigators also carry law enforcement credentials, including a badge.

 

Las Vegas Accountant shares: Claiming a Tax Deduction for Medical and Dental Expenses

Posted by Admin Posted on Mar 04 2015

Your medical expenses may save you money at tax time, but a few key rules apply. Here are some tax tips to help you determine if you can claim a tax deduction:

  • You must itemize.  You can only claim your medical expenses that you paid for in 2014 if you itemize deductions on your federal tax return. If you take the standard deduction, you can’t claim these expenses.
  • AGI threshold.  You include all the qualified medical costs that you paid for during the year. However, you can only deduct the amount that is more than 10 percent of your adjusted gross income.
  • Temporary threshold for age 65.  If you or your spouse is age 65 or older, the AGI threshold is 7.5 percent of your AGI. This exception applies through Dec. 31, 2016.
  • Costs to include.  You can include most medical and dental costs that you paid for yourself, your spouse and your dependents. Exceptions and special rules apply. Costs reimbursed by insurance or other sources do not qualify for a deduction.
  • Expenses that qualify.  You can include the costs of diagnosing, treating, easing or preventing disease. The costs you pay for prescription drugs and insulin qualify. The costs you pay for insurance premiums for policies that cover medical care qualify. Some long-term care insurance costs also qualify. For more examples of costs you can and can’t deduct, see IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses. You can get it on IRS.gov/forms anytime.
  • Travel costs count.  You may be able to claim travel costs you pay for medical care. This includes costs such as public transportation, ambulance service, tolls and parking fees. If you use your car, you can deduct either the actual costs or the standard mileage rate for medical travel. The rate is 23.5 cents per mile for 2014.
  • No double benefit.  You can’t claim a tax deduction for medical expenses you paid for with funds from your Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Arrangements. Amounts paid with funds from those plans are usually tax-free. This rule prevents two tax benefits for the same expense.
  • Use the tool.  You can use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool to see if you can deduct your medical expenses. The tool can answer many of your questions on a wide range of tax topics.

Important Information about Advance Payments of the Premium Tax Credit and Your Tax Return for Las Vegas Accountant

Posted by Admin Posted on Feb 15 2015
The Affordable Care Act includes financial assistance in the form of the premium tax credit for eligible taxpayers with moderate incomes who purchase coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
When you purchased coverage for 2014 through the Marketplace, you may have chosen to have the government send advance payments of the premium tax credit to your insurer to lower your monthly insurance premiums. At that time, the Marketplace estimated these credits based on information you provided about your expected household income and family size for the year. 
If you chose to have advance credit payments sent to your insurer, you must file a federal income tax return, even if otherwise not required to file. You will need to reconcile these payments with the amount of premium tax credit you’re eligible for on your tax return. Receiving too much or too little in advance can affect your refund or balance due when you file.
For example, if you had certain life changes during the year and notified the Marketplace, the Marketplace should have adjusted the amount of the advance credit payments sent to your insurer accordingly. If you did not notify the Marketplace about these life changes, the advance credit payments may have been either too high or too low.
Advance credit payments that are lower than the amount of premium tax credit on your tax return will reduce your tax bill or increase your refund.
On the other hand, if your advance credit payments are more than the premium tax credit you are eligible for based on your actual income, you will need to repay the excess amount, subject to certain caps. This will result in a smaller refund or a larger bill when you file your return.  The repayment amount is based on your household income and family size. For more information on the repayment if your household income is less than 400 percent of the federal poverty line, the repayment amount is limited. Taxpayers with household incomes of 400 percent or more of the federal poverty line must repay all of the excess amount. See the instructions for Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit (PTC) for more information on the federal poverty line amounts.
Normally, taxpayers may owe certain penalties for late payments or underpayment of estimated tax. However, to help smooth the process for the first year of the Affordable Care Act, the IRS will waive these penalties for eligible taxpayers if they resulted from repayment of excess advance payments of the premium tax credit.  This has no effect on the fee individuals will pay if they chose not to buy affordable health coverage.
You must complete Form 8962 to claim the premium tax credit and reconcile your advance credit payments with the premium tax credit you are eligible to claim on your return. You should receive Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement from your Marketplace by early February. This form provides information you will need when completing Form 8962. If you have questions about the information on Form 1095-A for 2014, or about receiving Form 1095-A for 2014, you should contact your Marketplace directly.  
Remember that filing electronically is the best and simplest way to file a complete and accurate tax return as it guides individuals and tax preparers through the process and does all the math. Electronic Filing options include free volunteer assistance, IRS Free File for taxpayers who qualify, commercial software, and professional assistance.

Las Vegas Accountant explains What You Should Know if You Get Tipped at Work

Posted by Admin Posted on Feb 15 2015
If you get tips on the job, you should know some things about tips and taxes. Here are a few tips from the IRS to help you file and report your tip income correctly:
• Show all tips on your return.  You must report all tips you receive on your federal tax return. This includes the value of tips that are not in cash. Examples include items such as tickets, passes or other items.
• All tips are taxable.  You must pay tax on all tips you received during the year. This includes tips directly from customers and tips added to credit cards. It also includes your share of tips received under a tip-splitting agreement with other employees. 
• Report tips to your employer.  If you receive $20 or more in tips in any one month, you must report your tips for that month to your employer. You should only include cash, check and credit card tips you received. Do not report the value of any noncash tips on this report. Your employer must withhold federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes on the reported tips. 
• Keep a daily log of tips.  Use Publication 1244, Employee's Daily Record of Tips and Report to Employer, to record your tips. This will help you report the correct amount of tips on your tax return.
For more on this topic, see Publication 531, Reporting Tip Income. You can get it on IRS.gov.
If you found this Tax Tip helpful, please share it through your social media platforms. A great way to get tax information is to use IRS Social Media. You can also subscribe to IRS Tax Tips or any of our e-news subscriptions.

Las Vegas Accountant shares Hiding Money or Income Offshore.

Posted by Admin Posted on Jan 31 2015

Hiding Money or Income Offshore Among the “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax Scams for the 2015 Filing Season

Las Vegas Henderson Nevada The Internal Revenue Service today said avoiding taxes by hiding money or assets in unreported offshore accounts remains on its annual list of tax scams known as the “Dirty Dozen” for the 2015 filing season.

"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, Steve Giorgione agrees Taxpayers are best served by coming in voluntarily and getting their taxes and filing requirements in order.
Since the first Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program opened in 2009, there have been more than 50,000 disclosures and we have collected more than $7 billion from this initiative alone.  The IRS conducted thousands of offshore-related civil audits that have produced tens of millions of dollars. The IRS has also pursued criminal charges leading to billions of dollars in criminal fines and restitutions.

The IRS remains committed to our priority efforts to stop offshore tax evasion wherever it occurs.  Even though the IRS has faced several years of budget reductions, the IRS continues to pursue cases in all parts of the world, regardless of whether the person hiding money overseas chooses a bank with no offices on U.S. soil.
Through the years, offshore accounts have been used to lure taxpayers into scams and schemes.
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 returns or hire people to help with their taxes.
Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution. IRS Criminal Investigation works closely with the Department of Justice (DOJ) 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 hiding income in offshore banks, brokerage accounts or nominee entities and then using debit cards, credit cards or wire transfers to access the funds. 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 the banks and bankers suspected of helping clients hide their assets overseas. The IRS works closely with the Department of Justice to prosecute tax evasion cases.
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 penalties and fines, as well as the possibility of criminal prosecution.
Since 2009, tens of thousands of individuals have come forward voluntarily to 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.

See your CPA or Accountant to clean  up any open items. Steve Giorgione a Las Vegas Based CPA Accounting firm in Henderson Nevada serves  the Las Vegas professional Gamblers and Small Business owners, Call and schedule a consultation today.