The IRS issued its Criminal Investigation Division's annual report regarding its activities and successes in thwarting tax crimes over the past year.
We are used to the IRS advising individuals of how to protect against identity theft, but now businesses are a target of the same threat. As a result, the IRS has increased efforts in cybersecurity to protect the latest targets on business owners. It is crucial that business owners also take action to protect their electronic client and financial data. To read the IRS' recent bulletin, please click here.
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 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.
National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, who will retire on July 31, 2019, recently released her final report to Congress, summarizing the 2019 filing season and identifying objectives for FY 2020. Top on her list of goals is the improvement of services to taxpayers, with a move towards a "taxpayer-centric strategy" designed to reduce anxiety and increase trust in our federal tax system.
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.
The IRS has established a plan to modernize its systems with an eye toward better service to taxpayers. Cybersecurity is a top priority for the IRS in 2019, as is protecting taxpayer data. The newly released plan outlines a six-year strategy to expand taxpayers' access to their own information and customer support options, to increase secure systems available for tax practitioners' use, and to streamline implementation of new tax provisions.