Track tax refunds using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool at IRS.gov

WASHINGTON — Offering time-saving alternatives to a telephone call, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers they can get fast answers to their refund questions by using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool available on IRS.gov and through the IRS2Go app.

The IRS issues nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, and the fastest way to get a refund is to file electronically and choose direct deposit. The time around Presidents Day is a peak period for telephone calls to the IRS, resulting in longer than normal hold times for callers.

The question most frequently asked this time of year is, “Where’s my refund?”. The IRS reminds taxpayers that IRS customer service representatives can only research a refund’s status if it has been 21 days or more since the taxpayer filed electronically or six weeks since they mailed a paper return.

See more at: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/avoid-the-rush-track-tax-refunds-using-the-wheres-my-refund-tool-at-irsgov

IRS launches Identity Theft Central

The Internal Revenue Service launched Identity Theft Central, designed to improve online access to information on identity theft and data security protection for taxpayers, tax professionals and businesses.

Located on IRS.gov, Identity Theft Central is available 24/7 at irs.gov/identitytheft. It is a resource on how to report identity theft, how taxpayers can protect themselves against phishing, online scams and more.

Improving awareness and outreach are hallmarks of initiatives to combat identity theft coordinated by the IRS, state tax agencies and the nation’s tax industry, all working in partnership under the Security Summit banner.

Since 2015, the Security Summit partners have made substantial progress in the fight against tax-related identity theft. But thieves are still constantly looking for ways to steal the identities of individuals, tax professionals and businesses in order to file fraudulent tax returns for refunds.

The partnership has taken a number of steps to help educate and improve protections for taxpayers, tax professionals and businesses. As part of this effort, the IRS has redesigned the information into a new, streamlined page − Identity Theft Central − to help people get information they need on ID theft, scams and schemes.

From this special page, people can get specific information including:

  • Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft, including what to do if someone becomes a victim of identity theft
  • Identity Theft Information for Tax Professionals, including knowing responsibilities under the law
  • Identity Theft Information for Businesses, including how to recognize the signs of identity theft

The page also features videos on key topics that can be used by taxpayers or partner groups. The new page includes a video message from IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, warning signs for phishing email scams – a common tactic used for identity theft – and steps for people to protect their computer and phone.

This is part of an ongoing effort by the IRS to share identity theft-related information with the public. The IRS continues to look for ways to raise awareness and improve education and products related to identity theft for taxpayers and the tax professional community.

See full story at: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-launches-identity-theft-central

New Form 1040-SR ~ Alternative Filing Option Available for Seniors

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 required the IRS to create a tax form for seniors. Taxpayers age 65 or older now have the option to use Form 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors. Form 1040-SR, when printed, features larger font and better readability.

Taxpayers born before Jan. 2, 1955, have the option to file Form 1040-SR whether they are working, not working or retired. The form allows income reporting from sources common to seniors such as investment income, Social Security and distributions from qualified retirement plans, annuities or similar deferred-payment arrangements. Eligible taxpayers can use Form 1040-SR whether they plan to itemize or take the standard deduction. Married people filing a joint return can use the Form 1040-SR regardless of whether one or both spouses are age 65 or older or retired.

Adapted from TAXPRO Weekly

IRS: Jan. 31 filing deadline for employers, other businesses to file wage statements, independent contractor forms

WASHINGTON — With just a few days remaining until the deadline, the Internal Revenue Service reminds employers and other businesses that January 31 is the filing deadline for submitting wage statements and forms for independent contractors with the government.

Employers must file their copies of Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, and Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, with the Social Security Administration by January 31. The January 31 deadline also applies to certain Forms 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, filed with the IRS to report non-employee compensation to independent contractors…

Taxpayers: Steps to take if no W-2

Most taxpayers get their Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, by the end of January. Taxpayers need their W-2s to file accurate tax returns, as the form shows an employee’s income and taxes withheld for the year.

Taxpayers who haven’t received their W-2 by the end of February should, as a first step, contact their employer. Taxpayers should ask their current or former employer for a copy of their W-2. Be sure the employer has the correct address. Additional information for taxpayers is available at IRS.gov.

See more of this story at: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-jan-31-filing-deadline-for-employers-other-businesses-to-file-wage-statements-independent-contractor-forms

What should you do if you get a call claiming there’s a problem with your Social Security number or account?

If there is a problem, SSA will mail you a letter with your Social Security number. Generally, SSA will only contact you if you have requested a call or have ongoing business with them. Recently, scams—misleading victims into making cash or gift card payments to avoid arrest for Social Security number problems—have skyrocketed.

Social Security employees will never threaten you for information or promise a benefit in exchange for personal information or money. Social Security employees also will not:

  • Tell people that their Social Security number has been suspended.
  • Promise a Social Security benefit approval, or increase, in exchange for information.
  • Contact people to demand an immediate payment.
  • Ask people for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Require a specific means of debt repayment, like a prepaid debit card or gift card.
  • Demand that people pay a Social Security debt without the ability to appeal the amount you owe.

Be cautious about providing personal information to someone who calls you and asks for:

  • Cash;
  • Retail gift cards;
  • Prepaid debit cards; or
  • Wire transfers.

Never provide payment to callers over the phone.

  • If you receive a suspicious call or are unsure of the identity of someone alleging to be from Social Security: Hang up;
  • Do not provide personal information, money, or retail gift cards; and
  • Report details of the call to the Office of the Inspector General.

 

Adapted from SSA.gov

Identity Protection Pins (IP PINs) Issued

This past week taxpayers began receiving letters that contain their IP PIN for use when filing their 2019 tax returns. An IP PIN is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers that helps prevent the misuse of their Social Security number on fraudulent federal income tax returns.

If you lost your CP01A letter (the notice containing your IP PIN) and need an IP PIN, you can go to Get an IP PIN or Retrieve Your IP PIN. Users must validate their identities. If unable to validate, you should call the identity theft line at 800-908-4490 to have the information mailed. If you moved after Jan. 1, 2020, you will need to file a paper return without an IP PIN.

Adapted from TAXPRO Weekly

IRS Announces Opening of Filing Season

The IRS announced that it will begin accepting individual 2019 returns on Jan. 27, 2020, and business returns beginning Jan. 7, 2020.

The IRS cannot issue refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. It is anticipated that the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting on February 28, if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return.

From TAXPRO Weekly