Five Easy Ways to Spot a Scam Phone Call

Source: IRS Special Edition Tax Tip 2014-18, September 2, 2014

The IRS continues to warn the public to be alert for telephone scams and offers five tell-tale warning signs to tip you off if you get such a call. These callers claim to be with the IRS. The scammers often demand money to pay taxes. Some may try to con you by saying that you’re due a refund. The refund is a fake lure so you’ll give them your banking or other private financial information.

These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They may even know a lot about you. They may alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request.

The IRS respects taxpayer rights when working out payment of your taxes. So, it’s pretty easy to tell when a supposed IRS caller is a fake. Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a sign of a scam. The IRS does not:

  1. Call you to demand immediate payment. We will not call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.
  2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the chance to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  3. Require you to use a certain payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what to do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to talk about payment options. You also may be able to set up a payment plan online at IRS.gov.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to TIGTA at 1.800.366.4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
  • If phone scammers target you, also contact the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. Use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” to report the scam. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

Remember, the IRS currently does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issues. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.

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Tax Due Dates for January 2016

During January

All employers – Give your employees their copies of Form W-2 for 2015 by February 1, 2016. If an employee agreed to receive Form W-2 electronically, post it on a website accessible to the employee and notify the employee of the posting by February 1.

All Businesses – Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments you made during 2015. You can use the appropriate version of Form 1099 or other information return. Form 1099 can be issued electronically with the consent of the recipient.

January 11

Employees – who work for tips. If you received $20 or more in tips during December, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070, Employee’s Report of Tips to Employer.

January 15

Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in December 2015.

Individuals – Make a payment of your estimated tax for 2015 if you did not pay your income tax for the year through withholding (or did not pay in enough tax that way). Use Form 1040-ES. This is the final installment date for 2015 estimated tax. However, you do not have to make this payment if you file your 2015 return (Form 1040) and pay any tax due by February 1, 2016.

Employers – Nonpayroll Withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in December 2015.

Farmers and Fisherman – Pay your estimated tax for 2015 using Form 1040-ES. You have until April 18 to file your 2015 income tax return (Form 1040). If you do not pay your estimated tax by January 15, you must file your 2015 return and pay any tax due by March 1, 2016, to avoid an estimated tax penalty.

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Tax Changes for 2016: A Checklist

2016 TaxesWelcome, 2016! As the New Year rolls around, it’s always a sure bet that there will be changes to current tax law and 2016 is no different. From health savings accounts to retirement contributions and standard deductions, here’s a checklist of tax changes to help you plan the year ahead.

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10 Tax Breaks Reauthorized for Tax Year 2015

Congress finally took action in late December and passed a tax extender bill formally known as the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH), which was then signed into law. Retroactive to January 1, 2015, many tax provisions were made permanent while others were extended through 2016 or 2019. Let’s take a look at some of the tax provisions most likely to affect taxpayers when filing their 2015 tax returns.

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Ensuring Financial Success for Your Business

Can you point your company in the direction of financial success, step on the gas, and then sit back and wait to arrive at your destination?

Not quite. You can’t let your business run on autopilot and expect good results. Any business owner knows you need to make numerous adjustments along the way – decisions about pricing, hiring, investments, and so on.

So, how do you handle the array of questions facing you?

One way is through cost accounting.
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Tangible Property Expensing Threshold Increases

The safe harbor threshold for small businesses deducting certain capital items has increased from $500 to $2,500. The new $2,500 threshold takes effect starting with tax year 2016. In addition, the IRS will provide audit protection to eligible businesses by not challenging use of the new $2,500 threshold in tax years prior to 2016.

The change affects businesses that do not maintain an applicable financial statement (audited financial statement). It applies to amounts spent to acquire, produce or improve tangible property that would normally qualify as a capital item.

For taxpayers with an applicable financial statement, the de minimis or small-dollar threshold remains $5,000.

The new $2,500 threshold applies to any such item substantiated by an invoice. Small businesses will be able to immediately deduct many expenditures that would otherwise need to be spread over a period of years through annual depreciation deductions, simplifying paperwork and recordkeeping requirements.

During the February comment period, the IRS received more than 150 letters from businesses and their representatives suggesting an increase in the threshold. Commenters noted that the existing $500 threshold was too low to effectively reduce the administrative burden on small business. Moreover, the cost of many commonly expensed items such as tablet-style personal computers, smartphones, and machinery and equipment parts typically surpass the $500 threshold.

As before, businesses can still claim otherwise deductible repair and maintenance costs, even if they exceed the $2,500 threshold.

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Tax Brackets, Deductions, and Exemptions for 2016

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More than 50 tax provisions, including the tax rate schedules, and other tax changes are adjusted for inflation in 2016. Let’s take a look at the ones most likely to affect taxpayers like you. Continue reading