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Tips for Taxpayers, Victims about Identity Theft and Tax Returns
IRS YouTube Videos
ID Theft: IRS Efforts on Identity Theft
FS-2014-2, January 2014
Identity theft remains a top priority for the Internal Revenue Service in 2014. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes nationwide, and refund fraud caused by identity theft is one of the biggest challenges facing the IRS. This year, the IRS continues to take new steps and strong actions to protect taxpayers and help victims of identity theft and refund fraud.
Stopping refund fraud related to identity theft is a top priority for the tax agency. The IRS is focused on preventing, detecting and resolving identity theft cases as soon as possible. The IRS has more than 3,000 employees working on identity theft cases. We have trained more than 35,000 employees who work with taxpayers to recognize and provide assistance when identity theft occurs.
Taxpayers can encounter identity theft involving their tax returns in several ways. One instance is where identity thieves try filing fraudulent refund claims using another person’s identifying information, which has been stolen. Innocent taxpayers are victimized because their refunds are delayed.
Here are some tips to protect you from becoming a victim, and steps to take if you think someone may have filed a tax return using your name:
Tips to protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft
- Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
- Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
- Protect your financial information.
- Check your credit report every 12 months.
- Secure personal information in your home.
- Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts.
- Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.
If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost or stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity or credit report, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, extension 245 (Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. local time; Alaska and Hawaii follow Pacific time).
If you believe you’re a victim of identity theft
Be alert to possible identity theft if you receive a notice from the IRS or learn from your tax professional that:
- More than one tax return for you was filed;
- You have a balance due, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return;
- IRS records indicate you received more wages than you actually earned or
- Your state or federal benefits were reduced or cancelled because the agency received information reporting an income change.
If you receive a notice from the IRS and you suspect your identity has been used fraudulently, respond immediately by calling the number on the notice.
If you did not receive an IRS notice but believe you’ve been the victim of identity theft, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, extension 245 right away so we can take steps to secure your tax account and match your SSN or ITIN.
Also, fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039. Please write legibly and follow the directions on the back of the form that relate to your specific circumstances.
In addition, we recommend you take additional steps with agencies outside the IRS:
- Report incidents of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.ftc.gov or the FTC Identity Theft hotline at 877-438-4338 or TTY 866-653-4261.
- File a report with the local police.
- Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus:
- Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
More information is available at IRS.gov:
- Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft – http://www.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Guide-to-Identity-Theft
Help if you have reported an identity theft case to the IRS and are waiting for your federal tax refund
The IRS is working to speed up and further streamline identity theft case resolution to help innocent taxpayers.
The IRS more than doubled the level of employees dedicated to working identity theft cases between 2011 and 2012. As the IRS enters the 2014 filing season, we now have more than 3,000 employees working identity theft issues.
These are extremely complex cases to resolve, frequently touching on multiple issues and multiple tax years. Cases of resolving identity can be complicated by the thieves themselves contacting the IRS. Due to the complexity of the situation, this is a time-consuming process. Taxpayers are likely to see their refunds delayed for an extended period of time while we take the necessary actions to resolve the matter. A typical case can take about 180 days to resolve, and the IRS is working to reduce that time period.
If you have an open identity theft case that is being worked by the IRS, you need to continue to file your tax returns during this period.
For victims of identity theft who have previously been in contact with the IRS and have not achieved a resolution to their case, you may contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free, at 800-908-4490. If you are unable to get your issue resolved and are experiencing financial difficulties, contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service toll-free at 877-777-4778.
It is a top priority for the IRS to help victims and reduce the time it takes to resolve cases. In addition, the IRS continues to aggressively expand its efforts to protect and prevent refund fraud involving identity theft before it occurs as well as work with federal, state and local officials to pursue the perpetrators of this fraud.
- Stand between you and the IRS
- Help you avoid common filing mistakes
- Are experts in complicated tax situations
- Understand letters that the IRS may send you
- Can prevent you from paying additional taxes you might not owe
- May represent you before all administrative levels of the IRS for audits, collections, & appeals
- Are required by law to complete 72 hours of continuing education every 3 yeras
- As members of the NAEA (National Association of Enrolled Agents) we are required to complete 90 hours
- Specialize in Taxation
Why risk it?
Only Enrolled Agents are empowered by the US Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before the IRS. In contrast, CPAs and attorneys are state licensed and may or may not specialize in taxation.
Take the stress out of tax time
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Contact Kevin O’Reilly, EA today
The Department of Health and Human Services administers the requirements for the Marketplace and the health plans they offer. For more information about your coverage options, financial assistance and the Marketplace, visit HealthCare.gov.
In general, you may be eligible for the credit if you meet all of the following:
- buy health insurance through the Marketplace;
- are ineligible for coverage through an employer or government plan;
- are within certain income limits;
- file a joint return, if married; and
- cannot be claimed as a dependent by another person.
If you are eligible for the credit, you can choose to:
- Get It Now: have some or all of the estimated credit paid in advance directly to your insurance company to lower what you pay out-of-pocket for your monthly premiums during 2014; or
- Get It Later: wait to get all of the credit when you file your 2014 tax return in 2015.
Getting the Credit
To qualify for the credit, you must get insurance through the Marketplace.
During enrollment through the Marketplace, using information you provide about your projected income and family composition for 2014, the Marketplace will estimate the amount of the premium tax credit you will be able to claim for the 2014 tax year that you will file in 2015.
You will then decide whether you want to have all, some or none of your estimated credit paid in advance directly to your insurance company.
Change in Circumstances
Report income and family size changes to the Marketplace throughout the year. Reporting changes will help make sure you get the proper type and amount of financial assistance and will help you avoid getting too much or too little in advance. Receiving too much or too little in advance can affect your refund or balance due when you file your 2014 tax return in 2015.
For example, if you do not report income or family size changes to the Marketplace when they happen in 2014, the advance payments may not match your actual qualified credit amount on your federal tax return that you will file in 2015. This might result in a smaller refund or balance due.
Claiming the Credit on Your Federal Tax Return
For any tax year, if you receive advance credit payments in any amount or if you plan to claim the premium tax credit, you must file a federal income tax return for that year.
If you choose to get it now: When you file your 2014 tax return in 2015, you will subtract the total advance payments you received during the year from the amount of the premium tax credit calculated on your tax return. If the premium tax credit computed on the return is more than the advance payments made on your behalf during the year, the difference will increase your refund or lower the amount of tax you owe. If the advance credit payments are more than the premium tax credit, the difference will increase the amount you owe and result in either a smaller refund or a balance due.
If you choose to get it later: You will claim the full amount of the premium tax credit when you file your 2014 tax return in 2015. This will either increase your refund or lower your balance due.
More detailed information about the credit is available in our Questions and Answers.
The Department of the Treasury and the IRS issued the following legal guidance related to the premium tax credit:
- Final regulations on the rules for individuals who enroll in qualified health plans through Marketplaces and claim the premium tax credit.
- Final regulations on the premium tax credit affordability test for related individuals.
- Proposed regulations on determining minimum value of eligible employer-sponsored plans and other rules regarding the premium tax credit.
- Notice 2013-41 on determining whether or when individuals are considered eligible for coverage under certain Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, TRICARE, student health or state high risk pool programs.
IMA’s National’s Capital Chapter asked us to give a presentation on “Hot Topics in Tax” which included key changes for 2014, impact of the Affordable Health Care Act, tax credits to offset insurance premiums, IRS collections and appeals, and other topics.
The IMA (Institute of Management Accounting) in an international organization that has over 60,000 member nationwide and 800 members locally. They are the organization that created and implements the CMA (Certified Management Accountant) certification which is highly sought after. Our academy, Emerald Tax Academy, offers a pre-licensing program to help students pass this test. You can find out more about this program here.
I have included some information from the presentation here. If you want a full pdf of the presentation with handout, please let us know through out contact page.
What is the penalty for not having health care?
Penalty “Shared Responsibility Payment”
◦2% or $325, 2.5% $695 (inflation adjusted)
$2,000 per employee ($167/month)
$2,400 per employee ($250 /month)
What employers need to know…
How to determine whether they are an Applicable Large Employer (ALE)
Definition of an ALE:
•Average of 50 or more full-time employees and full-time equivalents in the past calendar year
•Full-time = Per calendar month, average of at least 30 hours of service per week OR 130 hours of service per calendar month
What you need to know for 2015…
Individual Shared Responsibility §5000A
Starting in 2015, everyone must either:
Have Minimum Essential health Coverage (MEC)
OR Have a Coverage Exemption
OR Make a Shared Responsibility Payment
Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) includes:
◦Employer-sponsored, including COBRA and retiree coverage
◦Coverage purchased in individual market and the new Marketplace
◦Medicare, including Medicare Advantage
◦Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
◦TRICARE and certain types of Veteran’s health coverage
I wasn’t sure what to wright about this week and then I noticed a person I knew in the industry posted an ad for work in their tax office. This office posted the same ad everyone does this time of year that runs a “jiffy lube” style office. This is an office that starts up in January and closes late March. They pretend to be open the rest of the year, but that is simply because they were forced into a one year lease and try to figure out how to make money there the reminder of the year.
For tax season the formula is simple: hire a bunch of people that know nothing about taxes and train them on salesmanship….simply put to close the sale on the customer and pray hard that the software can actually handle their tax situation. These places pray on those with simple returns and are ripe with tax fraud.
There are currently zero requirements to become a tax preparer. The IRS is working to change this. So, in order to be sure you are actually talking to a knowledgeable tax person, seek one who is an Enrolled Agent, CPA, or RTRP. There are lawyers that do tax returns, but that is a very expensive proposition for most tax payers.
I listed a few examples of ads I saw today looking for tax prepares with zero experience, but who had sales experience. That should tell you all you need to know.
Tax office’s advertisement on Facebook (notice the part about experience):
“I am looking to hire someone for tax season for the office. Tax experience is NOT required. Sales/Customer Service experience is required. Paid weekly plus bonuses. Email me with a brief resume. Do not message me, do not call me and do not stop by my office. We are starting interviews this coming Thursday.
Liberty Tax advertisement on LinkedIN:
“Liberty Tax Service – Our CEO John Hewitt’s vision is to be the #1 Tax Preperation Company in the World by 2020.
NOW HIRING TAX PREPARERS AND CUSTOMER SERVICE- NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY
Open House Thursday, October 3rd
Very busy growing offices hiring for the following locations:
Ballard and Capital Hill Area”
This comes from H&R Block’s owns web site:
“No previous experience preparing taxes? H&R Block offers a beginner course to give you the skills you need to launch your tax preparation career.
Enrollment in, or completion of the H&R Block Income Tax Course is neither an offer nor a guarantee of employment. Additional qualifications may be required. Enrollment restrictions apply. Book or other fees may also apply. Additional training may be required in MD and other states. This course is not intended for, nor open to any persons who are either currently employed by or seeking employment with any professional tax preparation company or organization other than H&R Block. During the course, should H&R Block learn of any student’s employment or intended employment with a competing professional tax preparation company or service, H&R Block reserves the right to immediately cancel the student’s enrollment. In the event of such cancellation, the student will not be entitled to a refund of any fees paid. Valid at participating locations only. Void where prohibited. H&R Block is an equal opportunity employer.”
The IRS periodically alerts taxpayers to schemes that fraudulently use the IRS name, logo or Web site clone to to gain access to consumers’ financial information in order to steal their identity and assets.
The scams may take place through e-mail, fax or phone. When they take place via e-mail, they are called “phishing” scams. The IRS website has information that can help you protect yourself from tax scams of all kinds. Search the site using the term: phishing.
The following is a list of known schemes:
- The IRS warned consumers about a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country. Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. [Added October 2013]
- The IRS warns consumers about a new tax scam that uses a website that mimics the IRS e-Services online registration page. The actual IRS e-Services page offers web-based products for tax preparers, not the general public. The phony web page looks almost identical to the real one. The IRS gets many reports of fake websites like this. Criminals use these sites to lure people into providing personal and financial information that may be used to steal the victim’s money or identity. The address of the official IRS website is www.irs.gov. Don’t be misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov. [Added October 2012]
- A combination email and text message phishing scam that appears to be from the IRS lures people to a malicious website. The false message informs recipients that a federal tax transaction recently initiated from their checking account was "rejected by the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.” The scammer’s true email address is masked as a legitimate IRS account (email@example.com). Do not fall for this scam – the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or social media to request personal or financial information. [Added August 2012]
- A 2012 phishing scam involves a bogus email informing recipients that they will be penalized up to $10,000 for failing to a tax return on time. The scam references a false deadline of January 31, 2012 and Section 6038 and can include the subject line, "Penalty for not filing tax return on time.” The email directs taxpayers to a phony web site that appears to be the official IRS site. Taxpayers who click on the email link are taken to a phony site and asked to provide personal or financial information that can be used by scammers and identity thieves. The alleged penalty and the deadline are both fictitious. The tax deadline for 2012 is April 17, 2012. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or any social media tools to request personal or financial information. [Added February 2012]
- A malicious e-mail, which claims to come from the IRS Tax Forums, requests that recipients register for this event for tax professionals by using an attached registration form. This is not a legitimate request from the IRS. The email contains a malicious attachment and a malicious URL. Do not open the attachment or click on the links provided in the email. The IRS does not send registration forms by e-mail but makes them available instead on the Nationwide Tax Forums Website. If you receive this email please forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org and then delete the email. [Added July 2011]
- This phishing e-mail, which claims to come from the IRS, references the president and theMaking Work Pay provision of the 2009 economic recovery law. It says that there is a refundable credit available to workers, consumers and retirees that can be paid into the recipient’s bank account if the recipient registers their account information with the IRS. The e-mail contains links to register the account and to claim the tax refund. In reality, most taxpayers receive their Making Work Pay tax credit, which was designed for wage earners, in their paychecks as a result of decreased tax withholding, not as a lump sum distribution from a federal fund. Additionally, consumers and retirees who are not wage earners are not eligible for this tax credit.[Added October 2009]
- In this phishing scheme, recipients receive an e-mail claiming to come from the U.S. Department of the Treasury notifying them that they will receive millions of dollars in recovered funds or lottery winnings or cash consignment if they provide certain personal information, including phone numbers, via return e-mail. The e-mail may be just the first step in a multi-step scheme, in which the victim is later contacted by telephone or further e-mail and instructed to deposit taxes on the funds or winnings before they can receive any of it. Alternatively, they may be sent a phony check of the funds or winnings and told to deposit it but pay 10 percent in taxes or fees. Thinking that the check must have cleared the bank and is genuine, some people comply. However, the scammers, not the Treasury Department, will get the taxes or fees. [Added October 2009]
- In a new scam, both a form and cover letter, supposedly from the IRS, are faxed to people with instructions to fax the completed form back to the number contained in the form. The letter says that the IRS requires an update of the recipient’s tax information and promises to deposit a nominal tax refund to the recipient’s bank account in return. The form is a "substitute and recertification” Form 1040, titled “Certificate of Current Status of Beneficial Owner For United States Tax Recertification & Withholding.” The form requests detailed personal and financial information, such as mother’s maiden name and bank account and PIN numbers, that can be used to steal the identity and access the bank accounts of anyone who responds to this scam. In reality, there is no such form and the IRS does not ask taxpayers to provide the type of information specified on the form. [Added June 2008]
- Some people have received phone calls about the economic stimulus payments, in which the caller impersonates an IRS employee. The caller asks the taxpayer for their Social Security and bank account numbers, claiming that the IRS needs the information to complete the processing of the taxpayer’s stimulus payment. In reality, the IRS uses the information contained on the taxpayer’s tax return to process stimulus payments, rather than contacting taxpayers by phone or e-mail. [Added April 2008]
- An e-mail claiming to come from the IRS about the "2008 Economic Stimulus Refund” tell recipients to click on a link to fill out a form, apparently for direct deposit of the payment into their bank account. This appears to be an identity theft scheme to obtain recipients’ personal and financial information so the scammers can clean out their victims’ financial accounts. In reality, taxpayers do not have to fill out a separate form to get a stimulus payment or have it directly deposited; all they had to do was file a tax return and include direct deposit information on the return. [Added April 2008]
- A scheme in which a tax refund form is e-mailed, supposedly by the Taxpayer Advocate Service (a genuine and independent organization within the IRS which assists taxpayers with unresolved problems), is particularly blatant in the amount and type of information it requests. The top of the form tells the recipient that they are eligible for a tax refund for a specified amount. The form asks for name, address and phone number and a substantial amount of financial information, such as bank account number, credit card number and expiration date, ATM PIN number and more. It also asks for mother’s maiden name (frequently used by many people as an account security password). At the bottom is a phony name and signature, claiming to be that of the Taxpayer Advocate. The implication is that the taxpayer must fill in and submit the form to receive a tax refund. In reality, taxpayers claim their tax refunds through the filing of an annual tax return, not a separate application form. [Added April 2008]
- A new variation of the refund scheme (see items below) is directed toward organizations that distribute funds to other organizations or individuals. In an attempt to seem legitimate, the scam e-mail claims to be sent by, and contains the name and supposed signature of, the Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations area of the IRS. The e-mail asks recipients to click on a link to access a form for a tax refund. In reality, taxpayers claim their tax refunds through the filing of an annual tax return, not a separate application form.
- In a variation, an e-mail scam claims to come from the IRS and the Taxpayer Advocate Service (a genuine and independent organization within the IRS whose employees assist taxpayers with unresolved tax problems). The e-mail says that the recipient is eligible for a tax refund and directs the recipient to click on a link that leads to a fake IRS Web site.
- A scam e-mail that appears to be a solicitation from the IRS and the U.S. government for charitable contributions to victims of the recent Southern California wildfires has been making the rounds. A link in the e-mail, when clicked, sends the e-mail recipients to a Web site that looks like the IRS Web site, but isn’t. They are then directed to click on a link that opens a donation form that asks for personal and financial information. The scammers can use that information to gain access to the e-mail recipients’ financial accounts.
- A recent e-mail scam tells taxpayers that the IRS has calculated their "fiscal activity” and that they are eligible to receive a tax refund of a certain amount. Taxpayers receive a page of, or are sent to, a Web site (titled “Get Your Tax Refund!”) that copies the appearance of the genuine “Where’s My Refund?” interactive page on the genuine IRS Web site. Like the real “Where’s My Refund?” page, taxpayers are asked to enter their SSNs and filing status. However, the phony Web page asks taxpayers to enter their credit card account numbers instead of the exact amount of refund as shown on their tax return, as the real “Where’s My Refund?” page does.
- In a new phishing scam, an e-mail purporting to come from the IRS advises taxpayers they can receive $80 by filling out an online customer satisfaction survey. In addition to standard customer satisfaction survey questions, the survey requests the name and phone number of the participant and also asks for credit card information.
- In another recent scam, consumers have received a "Tax Avoidance Investigation” e-mail claiming to come from the IRS’ “Fraud Department” in which the recipient is asked to complete an “investigation form,” for which there is a link contained in the e-mail, because of possible fraud that the recipient committed. It is believed that clicking on the link may activate a Trojan Horse.
- An e-mail scheme claiming to come from the IRS’s Criminal Investigation division tells the recipient that they are under a criminal probe for submitting a false tax return to the California Franchise Board. The e-mail seeks to entice people to click on a link or open an attachment to learn more information about the complaint against them. The e-mail link and attachment contain a Trojan Horse that can take over the person’s computer hard drive and allow someone to have remote access to the computer.
- Another scheme suggests that a customer has filed a complaint against a company, of which the e-mail recipient is a member, and that the IRS can act as an arbitrator. This appears to be aimed at business as well as individual taxpayers.
- One e-mail scam, fraught with grammatical errors and typos, looks like a page from the IRS Web site and claims to be from the "IRS Antifraud Comission” (sic), a fictitious group. The e-mail claims someone has enrolled the taxpayer’s credit card in EFTPS and has tried to pay taxes with it. The e-mail also says there have been fraud attempts involving the taxpayer’s bank account. The e-mail claims money was lost and “remaining founds” (sic) are blocked. Recipients are asked to click on a link that will help them recover their funds, but the subsequent site asks for personal information that the thieves could use to steal the taxpayer’s identity.
- E-mails claiming to come from email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and similar variations told the recipients that they were eligible to receive a tax refund for a given amount. It directed recipients to claim the refund by using a link contained in the e-mail which sent the recipient to a Web site. The site, a copy of the IRS Web site, displayed an interactive page similar to a genuine IRS one; however, it had been modified to ask for personal and financial information that the genuine IRS interactive page does not require.The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has found numerous separate Web sites in at least 20 different countries hosting variations on this scheme.
- A bogus IRS letter and Form W-8BEN (Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding) asked non-residents to provide personal information such as account numbers, PINs, mother’s maiden name and passport number. The legitimate IRS Form W-8BEN, which is used by financial institutions to establish appropriate tax withholding for foreign individuals, does not ask for any of this information.
Due to the current lapse in appropriations, IRS operations are limited. However, the underlying tax law remains in effect, and all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations as normal.
Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making deposits with the IRS, as they are required to do so by law. The IRS will accept and process all tax returns with payments, but will be unable to issue refunds during this time. Taxpayers are urged to file electronically, because most of these returns will be processed automatically.
No live telephone customer service assistance will be available, however most automated toll-free telephone applications will remain operational. IRS walk-in taxpayer assistance centers will be closed.
While the government is closed, people with appointments related to examinations (audits), collection, Appeals or Taxpayer Advocate cases should assume their meetings are cancelled. IRS personnel will reschedule those meetings at a later date.
Automated IRS notices will continue to be mailed. The IRS will not be working any paper correspondence during this period. Here are some basic steps for taxpayers to follow during this period.
How does this affect me?
- You should continue to file and pay taxes as normal. Individuals who requested an extension of time to file should file their returns by Oct. 15, 2013.
- All other tax deadlines remain in effect, including those covering individuals, corporations, partnerships and employers. The regular payroll tax deadlines remain in effect as well.
- You can file your tax return electronically or on paper –– although the processing of paper returns will be delayed until full government operations resume. Payments accompanying paper tax returns will still be accepted as the IRS receives them.
- Tax refunds will not be issued until normal government operations resume.
- Tax software companies, tax practitioners and Free File will remain available to assist with taxes.
What IRS services will be available?
- For taxpayers seeking assistance, only the automated applications on the regular 800-829-1040 telephone line will remain open.
- The IRS website, http://www.IRS.gov, will remain available, although some interactive features may not be available.
- The IRS Free File partners will continue to accept and file tax returns.
- Tax software companies will continue to accept and file tax returns.
Is the Oct 15 due date still in effect and should people still file?
Taxpayers should continue to file and pay taxes during a lapse in appropriations as they would under normal government operations. Individuals who requested an extension of time to file should file their returns by Oct. 15, 2013. Taxpayers can file their tax return electronically or on paper, though the processing of paper returns will be delayed until full government operations resume. Payments accompanying paper tax returns will still be accepted as the IRS receives them. Tax refunds will not be issued until normal government operations resume. Tax software companies, tax practitioners and Free File will remain available to assist with taxes.
All other tax deadlines remain in effect, including those covering individuals, corporations, partnerships and employers. The regular payroll tax deadlines remain in effect as well. Penalties and interest still apply for all late filings not received by the regular deadlines.
Will electronically filed returns be processed?
Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making deposits with the IRS, as they are required to do so by law. Taxpayers are urged to file electronically, because most of these returns will be processed automatically. Payments accompanying electronic tax returns will be accepted as the IRS receives them, although the IRS will be unable to issue refunds during this time.
Will paper tax returns be processed?
Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making deposits with the IRS as they are required to do so by law. However, the processing of paper returns will be delayed until full government operations resume. Payments accompanying paper tax returns will still be accepted as the IRS receives them, though the IRS will be unable to issue refunds during this time.
Will paper tax returns be considered timely filed even though the IRS is not processing paper returns?
Yes. the United States Postal Service is operating during the shutdown, and they will postmark and deliver mail to the IRS. Any return postmarked by the due date will be considered timely filed by the IRS even though processing of the return may not occur until after the return due date depending on the length of the lapse in appropriations.
Can an individual taxpayer obtain a tax transcript during the shutdown?
Yes. This is an automated process. Taxpayers can still use automated tools, including IRS.gov, to request that a transcript of their personal tax records be sent to their address of record; the taxpayer will typically receive transcripts in the mail within five to 10 calendar days.
Can a third party obtain a tax transcript during the shutdown?
No. Transcript requests from third parties require actions by IRS employees, who are not available due to the current lapse in government appropriations. During this period, transcript requests by third parties, such as financial institutions, cannot be processed through the Return and Income Verification Services and Income Verification Express Service. These processes are not automated. However, individuals requesting their own transcripts can use the automated process, which remains available.
Is the IRS continuing to issue levies or liens during this period?
During the lapse in appropriations, the IRS is not sending out levies or liens – either those generated systemically or those manually generated by employees. The IRS notes that taxpayers may still receive levy or lien correspondence with October mailing dates, but those notices were printed before IRS shut down operations were fully complete. (It is standard practice for these notices to be printed with a future date to allow for mailing time to reach taxpayers.) In addition, the IRS notes that other letters related to liens and levies – such as notifications that a taxpayer could potentially be subject to a lien or a levy at a future date – continue to be automatically generated by IRS systems during the appropriations lapse. However, the IRS emphasizes that these notices are not actual levies or liens; just a notification of potential future action. For more information on the IRS collection process, see Publication 594, the IRS Collection Process.
Are IRS personnel continuing to take enforcement actions during this period?
In non-criminal cases, the only enforcement actions the IRS is taking during the appropriations lapse involve isolated instances where we need to take immediate action to protect the government’s interest. So any enforcement action in this category – such as seizures – would be extremely limited. For example, where the expiration of the statute of limitations on collection action is imminent. For criminal issues, most IRS Criminal Investigation employees continue to work during this period, similar to other federal law-enforcement agencies.