The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced that it will automatically waive the estimated tax penalty for over 400,000 eligible taxpayers whose withholding and estimated tax payments fell short of their 2018 tax liability, and it removed the requirement that estimated payments be made in four equal installments (if paid by January 15, 2019).
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Security Summit partners recently issued a reminder to tax professionals to watch for signs of data theft that could lead to the filing of fraudulent tax returns. Warning signs include receiving unexpected copies of tax transcripts or IRS notices and experiencing network slow-downs or lock-outs.
The IRS recently announced a letter campaign, issuing one of three letters to taxpayers regarding virtual currency. Two of the letters are informational, sent to taxpayers who may have had a requirement to report virtual currency transactions but did not do so (Letter 6174), or taxpayers who reported transactions with virtual currency but may have made a mistake (Letter 6174-A). Neither of these letters require a response to the IRS. It is the third letter that gives tax professionals pause for concern.
If you dealt in virtual currency in recent years, you may soon receive a letter from the IRS regarding a potential failure to report income and pay related taxes, according to a recent IRS announcement. The federal tax agency is beginning to reach out to taxpayers as part of the virtual currency compliance campaign it announced last year.
The Taxpayer First Act signed into law by President Trump requires the IRS to make important changes that will benefit taxpayers and improve tax administration.
In a recent tax controversy forum hosted by New York University, the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General to the Department of Justice Tax Division (DOJ-Tax), Richard Zuckerman, said that his team is increasing its focus on individuals attempting to use bitcoin and other digital assets to evade taxes. DOJ-Tax is currently prosecuting several criminal cryptocurrency cases, and Zuckerman noted that others are already in process.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released its Semiannual Report to Congress for the period October 1, 2018 through March 31, 2019. During this period, TIGTA completed 20 audits and 1,068 investigations concerning taxpayer data security, identity theft and impersonation fraud, tax compliance, and IRS efficiency. Of particular concern for this report and future monitoring was the effect of the lapse of appropriations for the IRS just before the start of the first tax season to incorporate changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA).
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released a report finding that accuracy-related penalties are not often proposed in audits of large businesses, and the penalties are generally not sustained on appeal. Between FY 2015 and FY 2017, TIGTA found that of the $773 million in proposed penalties that went to the Office of Appeals, there was a reduction of those penalties totaling $765 million. Of some 4,600 business return exams studied, which resulted in additional tax assessments of $14 billion, only 6 percent had accuracy-related penalties assessed.
The IRS is doing more than protecting taxpayer data and detecting cyber fraud. It is educating tax professionals on cybersecurity at its annual Nationwide Tax Forums. Certain education seminars at this year's Forums will focus on addressing "basic cyber hygiene" and how to manage and prevent cyber threats to businesses, as well as the foundations of information security programs. Forum dates across the country and registration details are available here.