The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has returned its Get Transcript Online tool back into service after disabling it in Spring 2015 due to security issues. With a "more rigorous e-authentication process" in place, all users can access copies of their tax transcripts and other tax-related information through the IRS' website once more. For taxpayers who find the new, two-step authentication process difficult, the IRS continues to offer more traditional ways to request and receive such data.
Self-insured employers, applicable large employers, and health coverage providers must electronically file their Forms 1094-B and 1095-B by June 30, 2016. Paper returns were due May 31, 2016.
The US Department of Justice recently determined that the Singapore affiliate of UBS (UBS AG) "has complied with an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) summons for bank records" related to a taxpayer whose liabilities are at issue. The international financial institution refused to produce the records when first served the summons. After a petition was filed to enforce the summons formally, UBS and the IRS resolved the matter amicably and the petition was voluntarily dismissed.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) issued a final report on May 17, 2016, after auditing the Internal Revenue Service's handling of amended individual tax returns. It found that examinations of such returns "did not always ensure that claims were properly evaluated" and did not always prevent the issuance of inappropriate tax refunds and abatements. Lack of substantiation was the main cause for this issue.
In his speech to the National Press Club recently, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen noted that the IRS' age 25-and-under recruits has recently dropped from 650 to only 200. Since more than 40 percent of the current IRS workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next four years, the Commissioner is concerned that the IRS will not have the necessary leadership in the IRS in the next decade.
The Internal Revenue Service announced that interest rates will not change for the calendar quarter beginning July 1, 2016. Current rates are:
The Internal Revenue Service announced plans to change how it processes tax returns in 2017 regarding the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit. Due to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act) enacted on December 18, 2015, taxpayers who claim the EITC or ACTC on their tax returns must wait until February 15 to receive their credit or refund. The IRS may not release a partial refund. This change, effective January 1, 2017, is meant to combat loss of revenue due to identity theft and refund fraud. For more information, click here.
The IRS Office of Chief Counsel recently released a memo from April 14, 2016, regarding the tax treatment of benefits an employee receives through an employer wellness program. Specifically, the Chief Counsel determined that cash benefits paid as a reward for or reimbursements of premiums paid related to participating in such a program may not be excluded from the employee's gross income. Health screenings and medical care provided under the wellness program are excludable.
The House Committee on Appropriations approved a spending bill on June 9, 2016 that allocates $10.9 billion to the Internal Revenue Service for fiscal year 2017, as compared to the $11.23 billion allocated for FY 2016.
The IRS' Taxpayer Advocate Service recently released a web-based estimator to help employers understand how the Employer Shared Responsibility Provision (ESRP) of the Affordable Care Act will affect their taxes. Employers can use the tool to determine how many full-time or full-time-equivalent employees they have, whether they are an applicable large employer (ALE), and estimate their potential shared responsibility payment liability if they fail to offer healthcare coverage to full-time employees. To learn more, click here.
The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) is experiencing a significant number of telephone calls, online chat queries, and in-person office visits related to withholding reports that were submitted late by taxpayers' employers. Taxpayers' returns were assessed and adjusted before the reports were received, leading to a high volume of complaints. The FTB has extended taxpayer response time to adjustment notices by two weeks and is re-valdiating affected returns.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a warning on May 27, 2016 about a new tax scam in which callers impersonating IRS employees, tax preparers, or even state revenue agents are demanding payment for a so-called "Federal Student Tax" (which does not exist). In these bogus phone calls, victims are threatened that they will be reported to the police if they do not wire money immediately to the scammer. The IRS encourages taxpayers to remain vigilant against these scams. To learn more about this and other common attempts at tax scamming, click here.
Taxation can be a touchy subject, especially when it comes to personal items. Consumers in California currently pay over $20 million each year in taxes on tampons and sanitary napkins alone, which some lawmakers say are necessary health items for women. The state Assembly approved a bill this week that would make these products exempt from sales and use tax in California, arguing that the taxation of such items creates a penalty to women.