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IRS Completes the “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams for 2015

February 19, 2015 Comments off

IRS Completes the “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams for 2015
Source: Internal Revenue Service

The Internal Revenue Service wrapped up the 2015 “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams today with a warning to taxpayers about aggressive telephone scams continuing coast-to-coast during the early weeks of this year’s filing season.

The aggressive, threatening phone calls from scam artists continue to be seen on a daily basis in states across the nation. The IRS urged taxpayers not give out money or personal financial information as a result of these phone calls or from emails claiming to be from the IRS.

Phone scams and email phishing schemes are among the “Dirty Dozen” tax scams the IRS highlighted, for the first time, on 12 straight business days from Jan. 22 to Feb. 6. The IRS has also set up a special section on IRS.gov highlighting these 12 schemes for taxpayers.

See also: IRS Warns Tax Preparers to Watch out for New Phishing Scam; Don’t Click on Strange Emails or Links Seeking Updated Information

TIGTA – Additional Consideration of Prior Conduct and Performance Issues Is Needed When Hiring Former Employees

February 6, 2015 Comments off

Additional Consideration of Prior Conduct and Performance Issues Is Needed When Hiring Former Employees (PDF)
Source: Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
From press release:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rehired hundreds of former employees with prior substantiated conduct or performance issues, according to a new report publicly released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

Most rehired employees do not have performance or conduct issues associated with prior IRS employment. However, TIGTA identified hundreds of former employees with prior substantiated conduct or performance issues ranging from tax issues, unauthorized access to taxpayer information, leave abuse, falsification of official forms, unacceptable performance, misuse of IRS property, and off-duty misconduct.

Too Easy to Seize: New Report on IRS Forfeitures Highlights Need for Broad Civil Forfeiture Reform

February 6, 2015 Comments off

Too Easy to Seize: New Report on IRS Forfeitures Highlights Need for Broad Civil Forfeiture Reform
Source: Institute for Justice

Thanks to federal civil forfeiture laws, the Internal Revenue Service has seized millions of dollars from thousands of Americans’ bank accounts without proof of criminal wrongdoing, according to a new report from the Institute for Justice (IJ). The IRS practice of “seize first, ask questions later” highlights the need for broad reform of federal civil forfeiture laws that impose substantial burdens on property owners and make seizing property—and profiting from it—too easy for law enforcement.

TIGTA — Report: Law Enforcement Assistance Program Requests Are Not Always Processed Timely and Accurately

February 5, 2015 Comments off

Report: Law Enforcement Assistance Program Requests Are Not Always Processed Timely and Accurately
Source: Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

An audit report released today identifies several problems with a new program allowing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to share tax information of identity theft victims with State and local law enforcement agencies.

The IRS’s Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) began as a pilot program in Florida in 2012 and was expanded in 2013 to help law enforcement officers across the country obtain tax return data vital to their efforts in investigating and prosecuting cases of identity theft.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reviewed whether requests for tax return data under the LEAP are processed timely, accurately, and securely.

Law enforcement officers use Form 8821-A, IRS Disclosure Authorization for Victims of Identity Theft, to obtain consent from the identity theft victim to request tax return information from the IRS. TIGTA reviewed a statistically valid sample of 194 of the 2,481 Forms 8821-A processed between January 3, 2013 and September 27, 2013. Of these, 39 requests had been rejected and another four did not have the date that the information was mailed to the law enforcement officer. Of the remaining 151 requests, 88 requests (58 percent) were not processed within the required 10 business days.

In addition, the IRS did not always maintain documentation of tax return information provided to the law enforcement officers. TIGTA also found that requests for tax return information were not always accurately worked. For the 39 requests that the IRS rejected, eight (21 percent) should not have been rejected. Most requests were erroneously rejected because the assistors incorrectly concluded that a tax return associated with the victim of the identity theft was not filed.

The IRS’s quality reviews usually check to ensure that all actions and required research are performed. However, because management had not established requirements for assistors to use a computer research command code, the quality reviews did not check to ensure that this research was completed.

In addition, 11 (7 percent) of the 155 requests for which the IRS provided the law enforcement officer with tax return information were invalid or incomplete and should not have been processed due to the risk of unauthorized disclosure.

IRS and US-CERT Caution Users: Prepare for Heightened Phishing Risk This Tax Season

February 4, 2015 Comments off

IRS and US-CERT Caution Users: Prepare for Heightened Phishing Risk This Tax Season
Source: US-CERT

Throughout the year, scam artists pose as legitimate entities—such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), other government agencies, and financial institutions—in an attempt to defraud taxpayers. They employ sophisticated phishing campaigns to lure users to malicious sites or entice them to activate malware in infected email attachments. To protect sensitive data, credentials, and payment information, US-CERT and the IRS recommend taxpayers prepare for heightened risk this tax season and remain vigilant year-round.

IRS — Accumulation and Distribution of Individual Retirement Arrangements, 2011–2012

January 28, 2015 Comments off

Accumulation and Distribution of Individual Retirement Arrangements, 2011–2012
Source: Internal Revenue Service

Twelve tables presenting statistics for taxpayers with individual retirement arrangements (six each for Tax Years 2011 and 2012) are now available. The tables are organized by adjusted gross income, age, and marital status. Information for both traditional and Roth IRAs is provided.

National Taxpayer Advocate Delivers Annual Report to Congress; Focuses on Taxpayer Service and Taxpayer Bill of Rights

January 16, 2015 Comments off

National Taxpayer Advocate Delivers Annual Report to Congress; Focuses on Taxpayer Service and Taxpayer Bill of Rights
Source: Internal Revenue Service

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson today released her 2014 annual report to Congress, which expresses concern that taxpayers this year are likely to receive the worst levels of taxpayer service since at least 2001 when the IRS implemented its current performance measures. The report recommends that Congress enact a principles-based Taxpayer Bill of Rights, adopt additional safeguards to make those rights meaningful, and provide sufficient funding to make the “Right to Quality Service” a reality.

In the preface to the report, Olson emphasizes four points:

  • “First, the budget environment of the last five years has brought about a devastating erosion of taxpayer service, harming taxpayers individually and collectively;
  • “Second, the lack of effective administrative and congressional oversight, in conjunction with the failure to pass taxpayer rights legislation, has eroded taxpayer protections enacted 16 or more years ago;
  • “Third, the combined effect of these trends is reshaping U.S. tax administration in ways that are not positive for future tax compliance or for public trust in the fairness of the tax system; and
  • “Fourth, this downward slide can be addressed if Congress makes an investment in the IRS and holds it accountable for how it applies that investment.”

The report says the combination of the IRS’s increasing workload, the erosion of public trust occasioned by the IRS’s use of “tea party” and similar terms in screening applicants for tax-exempt status, and the sharp reduction in funding have created a “perfect storm” of trouble for tax administration and therefore for taxpayers. “Taxpayers who need help are not getting it, and tax compliance is likely to suffer over the longer term if these problems are not quickly and decisively addressed,” Olson wrote.

The report also urges Congress to enact comprehensive tax reform, pointing out that simplification would ease burdens on taxpayers and the IRS alike.

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