The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued a warning to tax professionals to be alert to a new e-mail scam that impersonates tax software providers and attempts to steal usernames and passwords. Recipients of these e-mails are told that, due to a recent software upgrade, the tax preparer must revalidate their login credentials. It provides a link to a fictitious website that mirrors the software provider's actual login page. However, instead of upgrading software, the tax professionals are providing their information to cybercriminals who use the stolen credentials to access the preparers' accounts and steal client information.
The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) recently released an update on the current state tax filing season. The number of personal returns that were e-filed in 2017 increased by one percentage point as compared to 2016 (88% in 2017, and 87% in 2016). Some 133,400 people used CalFile to file returns this year, and 95% of CalFile users found that the program was easy to use and understand.
The Franchise Tax Board has updated its cost recovery fees, which are assessed against individuals and business entities when they fail to file tax returns upon demand or fail to pay their delinquent taxes. The filing enforcement fee for individuals and most entities will be $84, and the collection fee will be $287. For corporations and LLC's treated as corporations, the filing enforcement fee will be $85 and the collection fee $374.
Ordinarily, the taxpayer has the burden of proving a tax return is accurate. But when the IRS has to produce documents, its record-keeping practices are lacking. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released a report on July 13, 2017, that found that the IRS' electronic record retention policies do not comply with certain Federal requirements that records remain retrievable and usable for the time period needed. For example, e-mail messages are not automatically archived for all IRS employees, and the manual methods used to counteract this gap are inadequate when computer hard drives are destroyed or damaged as media storage policies and tools change.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), as part of the Security Summit, is urging tax professionals to stay vigilant with regard to a variety of e-mail scams and "spear phishing" that aim to steal personal information about clients and companies. Between January and May 2017, some 177 tax professionals or firms reported data thefts involving thousands of clients' information.
United States Senate Committee on Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch recently issued a request to experts and stakeholders for comments and recommendations to improve the federal tax system. The committee is specifically seeking ideas about how to provide tax relief to the middle class; how to strengthen businesses of all sizes through the tax system; how to encourage savings and investment and remove tax-related obstacles to such; and how to update the international tax system to stay competitive in the global economy.
On Tuesday, June 27, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Taxpayer Transparency and Fairness Act of 2017. Sweeping changes to the administration of taxes and fees formerly administered by the Board of Equalization take effect on July 1, 2017. A new Office of Tax Appeals will begin hearing tax appeals of California income tax, sales tax, use tax, hazardous waste fees, and other taxes and fees effective January 1, 2018. The rules and regulations that will govern the two newly created state agencies remain a work in progress. For more information, click here.
The Taxpayer Transparency and Fairness Act of 2017, which will create two new entities (the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration and the Office of Tax Appeals) to take over most of the California State Board of Equalization's functions, has passed both the Assembly and the Senate and was presented to Governor Brown on June 21, 2017. Once approved by the Governor, the bill will take effect on July 1, 2017. Keep track of developments in the bill process here.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has released its semi-annual report to Congress for the period October 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017. The reports summarizes data about the agency's notable audits, investigations, inspections, and evaluations to provide oversight to the IRS.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) hosts annual tax forums in various cities around the country throughout the summer months. Betty Williams will be speaking about tax audit triggers and tips at the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum held in San Diego, California, from September 12 through 14, 2017.