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  • 11/22/2017 4:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    For the second year, the Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry will host National Tax Security Awareness Week to encourage both individual and business taxpayers to take additional steps to protect their tax data and identities in advance of the 2018 filing season.

    IRS, State Tax Agencies and Tax Industry Announce National Tax Security Awareness Week, Nov. 27-Dec. 1

    Security Summit

    The IRS has joined with representatives of the software industry, tax preparation firms, payroll and tax financial product processors and state tax administrators to combat identity theft refund fraud to protect the nation's taxpayers.

  • 11/20/2017 12:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Senate Tax Reform vs. House Proposal

    Tax reform is developing. On November 2, the House Ways & Means Committee released HR1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”— its version of tax reform. The bill has already seen amendments, and the contents have been a topic of great discussion in the profession and the news. On Thursday, November 9, the Senate Finance Committee released a conceptual description of its version, also termed the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”

    The House proposal outlines new personal and corporate income tax brackets and rates, repeal of AMT, an increased standard deduction and the elimination of the deduction for personal exemptions among the many changes. The plan would result in a $1.41 trillion loss in revenue over 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT). The Senate bill started its markup process in the Finance Committee on November 13 with a vote expected by the end of the week.

    While some of the provisions of the Senate bill mirror the House bill, some key differences exist.

    In the Senate approach, the current code’s seven individual income tax brackets would remain, but the rates would change to 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and a top rate of 38.5%. Single taxpayers with income greater than $500,000 (and marrieds filing jointly with income greater than $1M) would apply the 38.5% rate, which is lower than the top rate in the House bill. The standard deductions would increase to $12K for single taxpayers, $24K for married couples filing jointly, both slightly less than the House bill provides for.

    Again, in the Senate approach, individuals with pass-through investments would see a 17.4% deduction for “domestic qualified business income,” which would not apply to specified service businesses unless the individual’s taxable income does not exceed $250,000 ($500,000 for married filing jointly). The deduction is phased out above those limitations.

    Under the Senate plan, the child tax credit increases to $2K, more than the House bill. The credit would be modified to allow a $500 nonrefundable credit for qualified dependents other than qualifying children, and sets the threshold phase out to $500K for married taxpayers filing jointly.

    Deductions for mortgage interest would be retained at the current level of $1 million of acquisition indebtedness; however, the deduction for home equity interest would be repealed. Estate taxes would remain, with the exemption being doubled from its current amount.  The House doubles the exemption but eliminates the estate tax after 6 years.

    Alimony rules and the deductibility of medical expenses exceeding 10% of a taxpayer’s AGI would be retained, unlike the House bill. The Senate markup calls for a reduction of the individual shared responsibility payment under the ACA to zero.

    The Corporate rate under the Senate’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act falls to 20%, but that rate change would be delayed until 2019.

    The Senate Finance Committee language under consideration is 253 pages (about half the length of the House bill) with suggested changes released November 14 available here at 103 pages. A two-page highlight summary is also available. Both the House and Senate bills are in active consideration, with reconciliation of the two, should the bills be approved by their respective bodies, expected in the very near future.

    To stay on top of developments see AICPA’s Tax Reform Center -- aicpa.org/taxreform.  

    Source: AICPA, with deletions and editing


  • 10/03/2017 4:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Disaster planning and recovery is on everyone’s minds these days, whether it’s due to wildfires or hurricanes, or any other life-disrupting events. 

    To help CPAs as they work on behalf of their clients, the AICPA is making valuable disaster relief resources available to ALL members (and the public), in addition to Tax Section members.

    The AICPA Tax Section has unlocked important disaster-related content on aicpa.org in an effort to help tax practitioners prepare their clients and communities for the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

    Casualty Loss Practice Guide
    The primary purpose of the Casualty Loss Practice Guide is to assist practitioners in dealing with certain tax problems that arise when a client is affected by a natural disaster. The guide discusses rules for casualty losses and deductions for involuntary conversions and provides information on relevant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publications, as well as other useful material. 

    Disasters and Taxes – Understanding Tax Relief for Disaster Victims Webcast
    This in-depth webcast features Jerry Schreiber, CPA, discussing tax relief for individuals and businesses affected by a disaster. 

    The AICPA Tax Section is the home for CPA tax professionals seeking the edge they need to achieve success for themselves and their clients. Members find exclusive support in practice tools, timely news, and guidance in implementing best practices. Tax Section membership keeps CPA tax practitioners ahead of trends in tax, and is a strategic advantage in demonstrating their value as the most trusted providers of professional tax services.

  • 09/27/2017 9:23 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    IRS NEWS FOR TAX PROFESSIONALS

    September 2017

    ►NEWS

    How Does the IRS Contact Taxpayers?

    When the IRS needs to contact a taxpayer, the first contact is normally by letter delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. The IRS doesn't normally initiate contact with taxpayers by email, nor does it send text messages or contact through social media channels. 

    Depending on the situation, IRS employees may first call or visit with a taxpayer. In some instances, advance notice is provided in writing via a letter or notice, but not always.

    IRS Phone Calls

    ·         IRS revenue officers work directly with taxpayers to educate them about their options to resolve delinquencies and to collect delinquent taxes and tax returns, while protecting taxpayers' rights.

    ·         IRS revenue agents or tax compliance officers may call a taxpayer or tax professional after mailing a notice to confirm an appointment or to discuss items for a scheduled audit.

    ·         Private debt collectors can call taxpayers for the collection of certain outstanding inactive tax liabilities but only after the taxpayer and their representative has received written notice. Private debt collectors for the IRS must respect taxpayers' rights and abide by the consumer protection provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

    IRS Visits

    ·         IRS revenue officers routinely make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss taxes owed, delinquent tax returns or a business falling behind on payroll tax deposits. IRS revenue officers will request payment of taxes owed by the taxpayer; however, payment will never be requested to a source other than the US Treasury.

    ·         IRS revenue agents usually visit taxpayers or tax professionals to conduct the audit after either mailing a notice and/or agreeing on the day and time. IRS revenue agents will sometimes make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss a tax matter.

    ·         IRS criminal investigators are federal law enforcement agents who may visit a taxpayer’s home or place of business unannounced while conducting an investigation. They will not demand any sort of payment.

    Ask For Credentials

    IRS representatives can always provide two forms of official credentials: a pocket commission and a Personal Identity Verification Credential (PIV). Pocket commissions describe the specific authority and responsibilities of the authorized holder. The PIV is a government-wide standard for secure and reliable forms of identification for federal employees and contractors. Criminal investigators also have a badge and law enforcement credentials.

    Paying Taxes

    All tax payments are to the U.S. Treasury. Taxpayers should never use a preloaded debit card or wire transfer to make a payment. The IRS provides specific guidelines on how to make a tax payment at irs.gov/payments.

    IRS Office of Appeals Pilots Virtual Service

    ·         The IRS is piloting a new web-based virtual conference option for taxpayers and their representatives. This virtual face-to-face option will provide an additional option for taxpayer conferences. The IRS expects it to be especially useful for taxpayers located far from an IRS Appeals office.

    ·         Each year, the Office of Appeals hears appeals of more than 100,000 taxpayers attempting to resolve their tax disputes without going to court. Currently, taxpayers involved in the appeals process can meet with an Appeals Officer by phone, in person or virtually through videoconference technology available only at a limited number of IRS offices.

    ·         While a phone call works well for most taxpayers, others prefer face-to-face interaction. Appeals’ pilot program will use a secure, web-based screen-sharing platform to connect with taxpayers face-to-face from anywhere they have internet access. Similar to popular screen-sharing programs used on phones and home computers, this technology may also be a way for the IRS to provide greater access, efficiency and flexibility to taxpayers.

    Tips to Keep in Mind for Taxpayers Traveling for Charity

    ·         During the summer, some taxpayers may travel because of their involvement with a qualified charity. These traveling taxpayers may be able to lower their taxes.

    ·         Read the article for details on:

    o    Qualified Charities

    o    Out-of-Pocket Expenses

    o    Genuine and Substantial Duty

    o    Value of Time or Service

    o    Travel Expenses a Taxpayer Can Deduct

    o    Travel Expenses a Taxpayer Can’t Deduct

    Helpful Tips to Know About Gambling Winnings and Losses

    ·         Taxpayers must report all gambling winnings as income. They must be able to itemize deductions to claim any gambling losses on their tax return.

    ·         Read the article for details on:

    o    Gambling income

    o    Payer tax form, Form W-2G Certain Gambling Winnings

    o    How to report winnings

    o    How to deduct losses

    o    Keep gambling receipts

    ►Your Practice

    Security Summit Alert: Tax Pros Warned of New Scam to Steal Their Passwords

    ·         The IRS is warning tax professionals to be alert to a new phishing email scam impersonating tax software providers and attempting to steal usernames and passwords.

    ·         This latest scam email variation comes with a subject line of “Software Support Update” and highlights an “Important Software System Upgrade.” It thanks recipients for continuing to trust the software provider to serve their tax preparation needs and mimics the software providers’ email templates.

    ·         The e-mail informs the recipients that due to a recent software upgrade, the preparer must revalidate their login credentials. It provides a link to a fictitious website that mirrors the software provider’s actual login page.

    ·         Instead of upgrading software, the tax professionals are providing their information to cybercriminals who use the stolen credentials to access the preparers’ accounts and to steal client information.

     “Don’t Take the Bait” campaign continues

    ·         This series is part of the Protect Your Clients, Protect Yourself campaign, focused on raising awareness of the critical need for tax professionals to increase their computer security and be cautious when reviewing their inbox – specifically the successful email scams dubbed spear phishing that identify themselves as a friend, customer or company.

    ·         Tax professionals must remember that they have not just an obligation but a legal requirement under federal law to protect taxpayer information.

    ·         The 10-week series of news releases will focus on what steps tax professionals can take to protect their clients and their business from these attacks.

    • IR-2017-123, Don’t Take the Bait, Step 3: Security Summit Safeguards Help Protect Individuals; Renew Focus on Curbing Data Breaches and Business Identity Theft
    • IR-2017-125, Don’t Take the Bait, Step 4: Defend against Ransomware
    • IR-2017-127, Don’t Take the Bait, Step 5: Prevent Remote Access Takeover Attacks
    • IR-2017-130, Don’t Take the Bait, Step 6: Watch Out for the W-2 Email Scam

    TAXES. SECURITY. TOGETHER. (Identity Theft)

    IRS introduces email option for Direct Pay and the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System

    ·         Your clients can now sign up for email notifications when using IRS Direct Pay or EFTPS to pay their taxes. This new email feature allows taxpayers to receive notifications about their payments in their personal email accounts.

    ·         Your clients who use EFTPS can opt in to receive email notifications when they enroll or update their enrollments. Business clients making payments through a payroll service provider can also opt in to receive email notifications. If they opt in, they’ll receive email notifications for all payments made through EFTPS, including those made by their payroll service provider.

    ·         Your clients who use Direct Pay can opt in to receive email notifications each time they make a payment.

    ·         To protect taxpayers, there are no web links within the email notifications. To avoid phishing scams, if taxpayers see links in an email appearing to be from the IRS about payments, they shouldn't click on those links.

    ·         Please share this information with clients who use these IRS payment options.

    ►NEWS FROM OTHER AGENCIES

    5 Mid-Year Tax Planning Strategies, By Barbara Weltman, SBA Guest Blogger

    For many small business owners, thinking about taxes occurs only twice a year … when returns are being prepared and perhaps at the end of the year. This is a mistake. With half of 2017 over, now is a great time to assess where you stand and to take action that will be helpful to your 2017 tax bill.

    1. Meet with your tax advisor

    2. Assess your profitability

    3. Expand your R&D

    4. Issue stock

    5. Review your income tax payments

    ►IN EVERY ISSUE

    View Your Account Information

    Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center

    Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter

    Basic Tools for Tax Professionals

    Recent Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts

    Identity Protection: Prevention, Detection and Victim Assistance

    Federal Trade Commission:

  • 08/31/2017 3:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    New e-Services platform launch next week

    Please don’t confuse this with the routine outage that takes place during the Labor Day holiday. Starting Thursday, September 7, will begin moving e-Services to a new platform that will complete a multi-year upgrade and some products will be unavailable.

    • 6 a.m. Eastern, Thursday, September 7: E-Services registration and the ability to apply for ACA, e-file, TIN Matching and IVES, will be unavailable. A redesigned e-Services landing page will launch. If you go to the old landing page, you will be automatically redirected to the new page.
    • 10 p.m. Eastern Friday, September 8: Transcript Delivery System and TIN Matching will go offline.
    • 6 a.m. Eastern Monday, September 11: Transcript Delivery System and TIN Matching will be back online.
    • 6 a.m. Eastern Tuesday, September 12: Applications for ACA, e-File, TIN Matching and IVES will be available, including ACA Information Return users filing applications for Transmitter Control Codes.
    • State users only will not be able to submit new or change existing e-File/TDS applications from September 7 through late October.

    New e-Services User Agreement

    In late October, we will roll out a new user agreement. All registered users must accept its terms to have access to e-Services and its products. Please read and sign it when it comes out.

    It also addresses an emerging industry we’re calling Intermediate Service Providers. Intermediate Service Providers are privately owned companies offering software and/or services to e-Services users, including helping users access taxpayer transcripts.

    The new user agreement requires tax professionals using Intermediate Services Providers to ensure that the company is not storing their username, password or PIN, and they must notify their clients that they are using an Intermediate Service Provider to access tax information.

    Registration through Secure Access

    Starting in late October, all e-Services users must register through Secure Access, a rigorous authentication process, to validate their identity and meet a new two-factor authentication requirement.

    It is called two-factor authentication because all returning users must first enter their credentials (username and password) and then enter a security code sent to the user. To assist users who either cannot use a cell or lack cell service, the IRS is adding a new feature to its IRS2Go app. This app can be used on many types of mobile devices, including smart phones and tablets.

    For existing e-Services users who cannot authenticate through Secure Access, we will have an exception process through our help desk. However, even if you validate your identity through the help desk, you will still need a mobile phone or the IRS2Go app to obtain a security code each time you login to e-Services.

    You can read more about these changes at Important Information about Your e-Services Account. Read about the current Secure Access process at www.irs.gov/secureaccess. This page will update with information about the IRS2Go app when it becomes available. 

    We also have FAQs about Secure Access and e-Services Users and Tips for Successfully Authenticating Your Identity through Secure Access.

    Additionally, we will be scheduling some webinars that will demonstrate the registration process for users and we will have experts on hand to answer technical questions. More to come on the Webinars and information about the IRS2Go app.

    We know this is a lot of information but we wanted to give you plenty of time to plan for the changes. We will keep you up-to-date as we move forward.

  • 08/28/2017 4:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Various rule changes are being advanced by the Accountancy Board, including:

    ·   making the CPE requirements the same for public and private CPAs, starting with the 3-year period that ends June 2022

    ·   including ethics content

    ·   allowing some level of work when in retired status, and specify an age of 60, and requiring use of the term “retired”

    ·   raising fee authorizations, but with no actual fee increases included

    Details about the rules, hearings, sharing comments, etc. are available at www.nd.gov/ndsba, or 800-532-5904.

    There are various steps in the rule change process, including the public hearings held in Grand Forks and Bismarck. Attendance was light at the hearings, but the Society submitted a letter addressing member sentiments.

    The next step in the process is approval by the Attorney General (AG), after which materials go to the Legislative Council. The Administrative Rules Committee will address the changes in a future meeting, at which the Board of Accountancy will be on hand to respond to inquiries, and the public may also share comments. The rules aren’t yet on an agenda, but the Rule Committee schedule is found at CLICK.  

  • 08/18/2017 9:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The IRS today announced that a planned outage of all e-Services tools and applications has been postponed. The extended delay will allow for some additional improvements to take place in the final product.

    When a new date is set, we will issue a follow up Quick Alert.  Until further notice, all e-Services tools and applications are available to registered users, except for AIR users. The Affordable Care Act Information Return (AIR) participants will be unable to submit new or change existing Transmitter Control Code applications until this platform upgrade takes place.

    The planned outage, when it occurs, will allow for the e-Services suite of tools to be transferred to a new digital platform. The new platform will conclude a years-long effort to upgrade the technology for e-Services tools.

  • 08/16/2017 4:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    There will be a planned outage of all e-Services tools from 6 p.m. Thursday, August 17 through 6 a.m. Monday August 21. During this period, users will be unable to access the Transcript Delivery System (TDS) and Secure Object Repository (SOR), Registration and TIN Matching. All applications also will be offline until August 22.

    Affordable Care Act Information Return (AIR) filers may resume submission of applications for Transmitter Control Codes starting on August 22. The application process for AIR users has been offline since July because of the e-Services platform transition.

    Also on August 21, a redesigned landing page for e-Services will launch with a new look and feel.

    The scheduled outage will allow us to complete the transition of e-Services to a new platform that will improve the look and feel of applications and complete a multi-year technological upgrade. We will also perform testing during that four-day period.

    We apologize for the inconvenience but we wanted to give you early notice so you could plan accordingly. A Quick Alert will be sent shortly, and we’ll keep you informed as we move forward. 

  • 08/16/2017 4:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    IR-2017-125, Aug. 1, 2017                                                             

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry today warned tax professionals that ransomware attacks are on the rise worldwide as bad actors here and abroad infiltrate computer systems and hold sensitive data hostage.

    The IRS is aware of a handful of tax practitioners who have been victimized by ransomware attacks. The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently cautioned that ransomware attacks are a growing and evolving crime threatening the private and public sectors as well as individuals.

    The “Don’t Take the Bait” campaign, a 10-week security awareness campaign aimed at tax professionals, hopes to increase awareness about these attacks. The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry, working together as the Security Summit, urge practitioners to learn to protect themselves. This is part of the ongoing Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself effort.

    “Tax professionals face an array of security issues that could threaten their clients and their business,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “We urge people to take the time to understand these threats and take the steps to protect themselves. Don’t just assume your computers and systems are safe.”

    Ransomware is a type of malware that infects computers, networks and servers and encrypts (locks) data. Cybercriminals then demand a ransom to release the data. Users generally are unaware that malware has infected their systems until they receive the ransom request.

    The 2017 Phishing Trends and Intelligence Report issued annually by Phishlabs named ransomware one of two transformative events of 2016 and called its rapid rise a public epidemic.

    In May 2017, a ransomware attack dubbed “WannaCry” targeted users who failed to install a critical update to their Microsoft Windows operating system or who were using pirated versions of the operating system. Within a day, criminals held data on 230,000 computers in 150 countries for ransom.

    The most common delivery method of this malware is through phishing emails. The emails lure unsuspecting users to either open a link or an attachment. However, the FBI also has warned that ransomware is evolving and cybercriminals can infect computers by other methods, such as a link that redirects users to a website that infects their computer.

    Victims should not pay a ransom. Paying it further encourages the criminals. Often the scammers won’t provide the decryption key even after a ransom is paid.

    Tips to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

    Tax practitioners – as well as businesses, payroll departments, human resource organizations and taxpayers – should talk to an IT security expert and consider these steps to help prepare for and protect against ransomware attacks:

    ·         Make sure employees are aware of ransomware and of their critical roles in protecting the organization’s data.

    ·         For digital devices, ensure that security patches are installed on operating systems, software and firmware. This step may be made easier through a centralized patch management system.

    ·         Ensure that antivirus and anti-malware solutions are set to automatically update and conduct regular scans.

    ·         Manage the use of privileged accounts — no users should be assigned administrative access unless necessary, and only use administrator accounts when needed.

    ·         Configure computer access controls, including file, directory and network share permissions, appropriately. If users require read-only information, do not provide them with write-access to those files or directories.

    ·         Disable macro scripts from office files transmitted over e-mail.

    ·         Implement software restriction policies or other controls to prevent programs from executing from common ransomware locations, such as temporary folders supporting popular Internet browsers, compression/decompression programs.

    ·         Back up data regularly and verify the integrity of those backups.

    ·         Secure backup data. Make sure the backup device isn’t constantly connected to the computers and networks they are backing up. This will ensure the backup data remains unaffected by ransomware attempts.

    Victims should immediately report any ransomware attempt or attack to the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.IC3.gov. Tax practitioners who fall victim to a ransomware attack also should contact their local IRS stakeholder liaison.

  • 08/16/2017 4:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    IR-2017-126, Aug. 4, 2017

    WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry today warned tax professionals to be alert to a new phishing email scam impersonating tax software providers and attempting to steal usernames and passwords.

    This sophisticated scam yet again displays cybercriminals’ tax savvy and underscores the need for tax professionals to take strong security measures to protect their clients and protect their business. This is the time of year when many software providers issue software upgrades and when tax professionals are working to meet the Oct. 15 deadline for extension filers.

    These types of phishing scams are why the IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry, acting as the Security Summit, launched the 10-week Don’t Take the Bait campaign currently underway. This awareness effort highlights the many tactics of cybercriminals as well as the steps tax professionals can take to protect their clients and themselves.

    This latest scam email variation comes with a subject line of “Software Support Update” and highlights an “Important Software System Upgrade.” It thanks recipients for continuing to trust the software provider to serve their tax preparation needs and mimics the software providers’ email templates.

    The e-mail informs the recipients that due to a recent software upgrade, the preparer must revalidate their login credentials. It provides a link to a fictitious website that mirrors the software provider’s actual login page.

    Instead of upgrading software, the tax professionals are providing their information to cybercriminals who use the stolen credentials to access the preparers’ accounts and to steal client information.

    The Security Summit reminds tax professionals that software providers do not embed links into emails asking them to validate passwords. Also, tax professionals and taxpayers should never open a link or an attachment from a suspicious email.

    Tax professionals can review additional tips to protect clients and themselves at Protect Your Clients, Protect Yourself on IRS.gov.

    Tax professionals who receive emails purportedly from their tax software providers seeking login credentials should send those scam emails to their tax software provider. 

    For Windows users, follow this process to help the investigation of these scam emails:

    1. Use “Save As” to save the scam. Under “save as type” in the drop-down menu, select “plain text” and save to the desktop. Do not click on any links.
    2. Open a new email and attach this saved email as a file.
    3. Send a new email containing the attachment to the tax software provider, as well as a copy to Phishing@IRS.gov.
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