Tax planning should include a Paycheck Checkup
Year-round tax planning is important for everyone. Just because a taxpayer already filed their tax return doesn’t mean they don’t need to think about taxes for the rest of the year. In fact, what they do now may affect any tax they might owe next year. It could also affect the refund they expect.
Since federal taxes operate on a pay-as-you-go basis, taxpayers need to pay most of their tax during the year as they earn the income. Taxpayers should make sure they’re having the correct amount of tax withheld from their paychecks. It’s a good idea for taxpayers to do a Paycheck Checkup for these reasons:
- Having too little withheld could lead to a smaller than expected refund.
- Having too little withheld could even lead to an unexpected tax bill.
- Employees who have too much tax withheld will see less money in each paycheck. Having more money in each paycheck may be more helpful than getting a large refund when they file.
Taxpayers should do a Paycheck Checkup ASAP if they haven’t already done so in 2019. Some taxpayers should do another Paycheck Checkup even if they already did one this year. This includes anyone whose personal or financial information changes due to a life event. Some life events that can affect withholding are:
- Having a baby
- Getting a new job
- Getting a raise at work
Contact us at 508-514-1488, for assistance or more information!
IRS has begun sending letters to virtual currency owners advising them to pay back taxes, file amended returns; part of agency’s larger efforts
The Internal Revenue Service has begun sending letters to taxpayers with virtual currency transactions that potentially failed to report income and pay the resulting tax from virtual currency transactions or did not report their transactions properly.
“Taxpayers should take these letters very seriously by reviewing their tax filings and when appropriate, amend past returns and pay back taxes, interest and penalties,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “The IRS is expanding our efforts involving virtual currency, including increased use of data analytics. We are focused on enforcing the law and helping taxpayers fully understand and meet their obligations.”
According to the IRS, when a taxpayer successfully “mines” Bitcoin and has earnings from that activity whether in the form of Bitcoin or any other form, he or she must include it in his gross income after determining the fair market dollar value of the virtual currency as of the day you received it. If a bitcoin miner is self-employed, his or her gross earnings minus allowable tax deductions are also subject to the self-employment tax.
For more information, contact us!
Tips for taxpayers who make money from a hobby
Many people enjoy hobbies that are also a source of income. From painting and pottery to scrapbooking and soap making, these activities can be sources of both fun and finances. Taxpayers who make money from a hobby must report that income on their tax return.
If someone has a business, they operate the business to make a profit. In contrast, people engage in a hobby for sport or recreation, not to make a profit. Taxpayers should consider nine factors when determining whether their activity is a business or a hobby. They should base their determination on all the facts and circumstances of their activity.
If a taxpayer receives income for an activity that they don’t carry out to make a profit, the expenses they pay for the activity are miscellaneous itemized deductions and can no longer be deducted. The taxpayer must still report the income they receive. Contact us to learn more!
Tips to help taxpayers recognize tax scams
New versions of well-known tax-related scams appear every year…and 2019 is no different. No matter what time of year, taxpayers should be on the lookout for scams. Here are some things taxpayers should remember to help them spot scams and avoid becoming a victim.
The IRS does not leave pre-recorded, urgent or threatening messages.
In many versions of phone scams, potential victims are told if they do not call back, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. Other verbal threats include law-enforcement agency intervention, deportation and revocation of licenses.
Criminals can fake or “spoof” caller ID numbers to appear to be anywhere in the country. Scammers can even spoof an IRS office phone number, or the numbers of various local, state, federal or tribal government agencies.
Email phishing scams
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.
The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.
There are special circumstances when the IRS will call or come to a home or business. These visits include times when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, a delinquent tax return, or a delinquent employment tax payment.
If a taxpayer receives an unsolicited email that appears to be a scam, they should report it to the IRS. They can forward the email message to firstname.lastname@example.org. They should not open any attachments, click on any links, reply to the sender, or take any other actions that could put them at risk.
Telltale signs of a scam
Taxpayers should remember that the IRS generally first mails a bill to a taxpayer who owes taxes. The IRS and its authorized private collection agencies will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments.
- Ask for checks to third parties. The IRS has specific instructions on how to pay taxes. All tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
- Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
If a taxpayer receives a phone call, but doesn’t owe taxes and has no reason to think they do, they should:
- Hang up immediately.
- Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the call.
- Report the caller ID and callback number to the IRS by sending it to email@example.com.
- Report the call to the Federal Trade Commission.
If a taxpayer owes tax or thinks they do, they should:
- View tax account information online at IRS.gov to see the actual amount owed.
- Review their payment options.
- Call the number on any billing notice they receive or call the IRS at 800-829-1040.
- Remain on guard against scams and know that the IRS has a specific collection process.
Taxpayers should be on the lookout for new versions of these two scams
With scam artists hard at work all year, taxpayers should be on the lookout for a surge of evolving phishing emails and telephone scams.
Taxpayers should watch for new versions of two tax-related scams. One involves Social Security numbers related to tax issues. The other threatens taxpayers with a tax bill from a fictional government agency. Here are some details about these scams to help taxpayers recognize them:
The SSN scheme
- The latest twist includes scammers claiming to be able to suspend or cancel the victim’s Social Security number. This scam is similar to and often associated with the IRS impersonation scam.
- It is yet another attempt by con artists to frighten taxpayers into returning robocall voicemails.
- Scammers may mention overdue taxes in addition to threatening to cancel the taxpayer’s SSN.
Fake tax agency
- This scheme involves a letter threatening an IRS lien or levy.
- The scammer mails the letter to the taxpayer.
- The lien or levy is based on bogus overdue taxes owed to a non-existent agency.
- The fake agency is called the “Bureau of Tax Enforcement.” There is no such agency.
- The lien notification scam also likely references the IRS to confuse potential victims into thinking the letter is from a legitimate agency.
Both these schemes show classic signs of being scams. The IRS and its Security Summit partners – the state tax agencies and the tax industry – remind everyone to stay alert to scams that use the IRS or reference taxes. Being alert is especially important in late spring and early summer as tax bills and refunds arrive.