Monday, February 27, 2017

Crime Really Causes People to Pay - A Lot

          The area of finance is of serious concern. For many, the largest amount of income they will receive at one time is their Tax Refund. While it can seem tempting to try and increase that refund through deceptive means. The painful truth is that lies will only cause more money to be paid and some jail time served, no matter what any professional might say. Here are some examples.

          A Tax Preparer in Wisconsin has pleaded guilty to defrauding the IRS of around $500,000 by making false claims about dependents in the Taxpayer’s household. It started with investigating 1 Return that showed a $3,700 refund when there should have been $1,100 owed. From there it was determined that over a 4 year period over 9,500 Tax Returns were filed by this Preparer, creating a total of $34 Million in refunds. These Returns averaged 3 dependents each and the majority used Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN).

          A Tax Preparer in Mississippi has been convicted on 7 counts of fraud, in connection with some clients’ self-employment retirement plans. He had already plead guilty to a conspiracy charge since his employer knew of this scheme. At sentencing, there is a maximum of 21 years and $700,000 in fines court fees that could be given. Please do not use a Tax Professional who is willing to do these sorts of things.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Mistakes to Avoid

         There are many problems that can occur when filing taxes. Here are a few that are within our control and will help to save a little bit of stress during Tax Season.

          Math. The most common mistakes on forms deal with simple numbers. Take the time to check once or twice to make sure things add up at every step. While you’re at it, make sure your name is spelled right and the correct SSN or ITIN is being used. If the name is correct, then glance at the filing status to make sure it is accurate. There are 5 options that can be used.

          The Tax Return cannot be filed unless it is signed and dated. The most important point to remember is to never file late. All Tax Returns are due this year by midnight on April 18. Even if one were to file an extension, any taxes owed are still due by April 18. Here are just a few points to keep in mind. Certainly a qualified Tax Professional can help to make this journey easier.

Monday, February 20, 2017

How to Follow Where Your Refund Is

For many, a Tax Refund is their largest single source of income during the year. After filing a Tax Return, the next question is "When is my Refund going to be available?" Since there are millions who ask this same question, the IRS has provided this video to help Taxpayer's track the status of their refund. Please click the following link to view the video:    The "Where's My Refund?" Tool

Friday, February 17, 2017

Tax Returns and Your Identity: How to Protect Them - Part 2

        A recent survey said that, in the last year, 1 out of 4 people in America had their personal information stolen from what was thought to be a secure location. This can happen through business dealings or personal activities, so we need to be careful at all times. Never give your sensitive personal information when just calling to inquire about fees or the possibility of having a "tax preparer" file your Tax Return. This can lead to a false Tax Return being filed in your name and a Refund taken without your knowledge.

If you believe that this is your situation, please take decisive action and tell your bank or financial institution quickly. They have teams of hard working employees who will save your funds from thieves and keep your Credit Report intact. A review of your Credit Report every few months can bring to light any theft before it develops too far. Report fraudulent "tax preparers" to the IRS as soon as possible. They work very closely with the Department of Justice to combat these crimes.

This proactive and cautious approach can reduce the effect of Identity Theft or possibly prevent it certain situations. There are many dangers to be aware of, but there are also solutions that are in place, and being created to protect taxpayers from this growing threat. This path could be taken alone, but having help to guide your steps and make informed decisions could make journey less stressful. What do you think?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Tax Returns and Your Identity: How to Protect Them - Part 1

         These stories in the news have sadly become very common. Headlines about personal information that was thought to be secure, and how it has been stolen on a massive scale. These computer attacks have affected the lives of millions of people and every industry that conducts business on the Internet. This includes the government and the IRS.

          In May 2015, the IRS announced that sensitive information on an Internet application it provided had been compromised. The identities of up to 500,000 taxpayers may have been stolen. This is one part of a serious issue that continues to grow on an almost daily basis. The goal of this post and the one to follow, is to share what to do if we find ourselves in this situation. There are steps we can take if we feel that our identity has been stolen.

          The Criminal Investigation division of the IRS has a cybercrime unit. Part of the work they handle is related to fighting Identity Theft related to tax fraud. They will contact those who may have had false tax returns filed under their names. Please keep in mind that the IRS will never begin contact with taxpayers through a phone call or by e-mail. Surprise calls from someone impersonating an IRS employee demanding money are another example of tax related scams that are on the rise. Be cautious, and do not give your personal information to strangers. Our next post will discuss more ways to keep your identity safe.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Do You Need to Renew?

          There has been a significant adjustment regarding Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN). They are used by Taxpayers who are not eligible for a Social Security number. Many of these expired on January 1 and need to be renewed in order to be used again.

          An adjustment made to the PATH Act, made it so that an ITIN that has not been used in the past 3 years has expired. Any ITIN with middle digits of 78 or 79 are also no longer valid. Renewal applications for these identifiers must be turned in soon because the process can take up to 11 weeks. See your Tax Professional for assistance.

Monday, February 6, 2017

How To Choose A Tax Professional Wisely - Part 4

          To finish our examination of what to look for when choosing a Tax Professional, we will take a brief look at Representation Rights before the IRS. The goal is to always have a quick and easy filing, but complications do come up at times. It’s always good to know what your preparer can do before those situations happen.

          Unlimited Representation Rights. Professionals with the following credentials may represent any taxpayer on any matter before the IRS: Enrolled agents (licensed by the IRS), Certified Public Accountants, and attorneys. This is true if they signed the filing in question or not.

          Limited Representation Rights. A Tax Professional that does not hold one of the above credentials is able to represent taxpayers, only if they were the tax preparer for that filing. If they did not sign the Tax Return in question, the Tax Professional is unable to represent the taxpayer. Having an understanding of these rights could give added confidence when making this necessary decision. What do you think?