K. W. “Hutch” Hutchinson, CPA, CFP®

Providing solutions to your taxing problems

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New Law Sets Jan. 31 W-2 Filing Deadline; Some Refunds Delayed Until Feb. 15

A new federal law moves up the W-2 filing deadline for employers and small businesses to Jan. 31. The new law makes it easier for the IRS to find and stop refund fraud. It also delays some taxpayer refunds. Those taxpayers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit won’t see refunds until Feb.15, at the earliest.Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act. Enacted last December, the new law means employers need to file their copies of Forms W-2  by Jan. 31. These forms also go to the Social Security Administration. The new deadline also applies to certain Forms 1099. Those reporting nonemployee compensation such as payments to independent contractors submitted to the IRS are due Jan. 31. Employers have long faced a Jan. 31 deadline in providing copies of these forms to their employees. That date won’t change.
  • Different from past deadline. Employers normally had until the end of February, if filing on paper, or the end of March, if filing electronically, to send in copies of these forms. The IRS is working with the payroll community and other partners to spread the word.
  • Helps stop fraud or errors. The new Jan. 31 deadline will help the IRS to spot errors on returns filed by taxpayers. Having these W-2s and 1099s sooner will make it easier for the IRS to verify legitimate tax returns and get refunds to taxpayers eligible to receive them. The changes will allow the IRS to send some tax refunds faster.
  • Some refunds delayed. Certain taxpayers will get their refunds a bit later. By law, the IRS must hold refunds for any tax return claiming either the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until Feb. 15. This means the whole refund, not just the part related to the EITC or ACTC.
  • File tax returns normally. Taxpayers should file their returns as they normally do. The IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. However, some returns may need further review. Whether or not claiming EITC or ACTC, the IRS cautions taxpayers not to count on getting a refund by a certain date. Consider this fact when making major purchases or paying debts.
  • Use IRS.gov online tools. Starting Feb. 15, the best way to check the status of a refund is with the Where’s My Refund?? tool on IRS.gov or the IRS2Go Mobile App.

Taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers may need their Adjusted Gross Income amount from a prior tax return to verify their identity. They can get a transcript of their return at www.irs.gov/transcript.

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IRS Warns of a new tax bill scam

IRS Warns of a new tax bill scam
November 17, 2016
by Seena Gressin
Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, Federal Trade Ccommission

We certainly understand if the latest IRS imposter scam makes you queasy: it involves a fake IRS tax notice that claims you owe money as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

The IRS says the fake notices are designed to look like real IRS CP2000 notices, which the agency sends if information it receives about your income doesn’t match the information reported on your tax return. The IRS says many people have gotten the bogus notices, which usually claim you owe money for the previous tax year under the Affordable Care Act.

It’s one of many IRS imposter scams that have popped up. As tax season nears, we’ll see more. The good news? There are red-flag warnings that can help you avoid becoming a victim. For example, the IRS will never:

Initiate contact with you by email or through social media.
Ask you to pay using a gift card, pre-paid debit card, or wire transfer.
Request personal or financial information by email, texts, or social media.
Threaten to immediately have you arrested or deported for not paying.

In the new scam, the fake CP2000 notices often arrive as an attachment to an email — a red-flag — or by U.S. mail. Other telltale signs of this fraud:

There may be a “payment” link within the email. Scam emails can link you to sites that steal your personal information, take your money, or infect your computer with malware. Don’t click on the link.
The notices request that a check be made out to “I.R.S.” Real CP2000s ask taxpayers to make their checks out to “United States Treasury” if they agree they owe taxes.

In the version we saw, a payment voucher refers to letter number LTR0105C, and requests that checks be sent to the “Austin Processing Center” in Texas. But scammers are crafty. They could send messages with a variety of return addresses.

You can see an image of a real CP2000 notice on the IRS web page, Understanding Your CP2000 Notice. If you get a scam IRS notice, forward it to phishing@irs.gov and then delete it from your email account. Let the FTC know too.