Tag: Internal Revenue Service

AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s tax-form claims are exaggerated

AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s tax-form claims are exaggerated

On the eve of Tax Day, President Donald Trump is exaggerating the government’s plans to shrink the much-dreaded federal income tax forms.aa He is promising a simplified, one-page tax form for next year that basically already exists — the 1040EZ.
And after weeks of promises, Trump appears to be dropping a pledge to create an even smaller, card-size tax form.
A look at the statements and how they don’t hold up: TRUMP: “Russia and China are playing the Currency Devaluation game as the U.S. keeps raising interest rates.
But in three straight currency reports issued since Trump took office, the administration has not branded China or any other country as a currency manipulator.
But that reflected new economic sanctions the United States imposed on Russia — not rising U.S. interest rates or efforts by the Russian government to drive down the ruble’s value.
Trump is correct that rising U.S. interest rates could contribute to boosting the dollar’s value against other currencies by making investments in the United States more attractive to foreign investors.
Very importantly, next year, it’s going to be a simple — for the most part, one page.
Trump previously had promised a card-size tax form but now appears to be backing off that claim by describing next year’s form as “for the most part one page” that “may get a little bit bigger.”
In fact, there’s no sign that the IRS is planning new filing forms, card-size or otherwise, for the 2018 tax year.
It’s been a political gimmick for years.

There’s A New IRS Tax Scam That Comes With A Twist
Social Security Disability

There’s A New IRS Tax Scam That Comes With A Twist

But now the IRS is warning taxpayers about a new and growing scam involving criminals who steal data from tax professionals and file fraudulent tax returns.
The “refund money” goes into taxpayers’ real bank accounts ― but then these criminals use various tactics to con the taxpayer into turning those funds over to them.
In one version of the new scam, criminals pose as debt collection agents acting on behalf of the IRS.
The caller threatens the taxpayer with criminal fraud charges, an arrest warrant and a “blacklisting” of their Social Security number.
The recorded voice gives the taxpayer a case number and a phone number to call to return the refund.
One key point: The real IRS will never call or email a taxpayer.
If the mistaken refund was a direct deposit, contact the Automated Clearing House department of the bank or financial institution where the deposit was received and have them return the refund to the IRS.
If you cashed a paper check of an erroneous refund, submit a personal check, money order, etc., immediately to the appropriate IRS location with a note explaining that it’s a repayment of an erroneously paid refund.
One last thing: Taxpayers receiving erroneous refunds should contact their tax preparers immediately, says the IRS.
That’s because thieves are targeting professional tax preparers, using phishing and other schemes to steal client data to feed the scheme.

No, You Don’t Have To Give Your Doctor Your Social Security Number
Social Security Disability

No, You Don’t Have To Give Your Doctor Your Social Security Number

Illustration: Gabriela Landazuri Saltos/HuffPost Images: Getty Images While no cybercriminal worth his salt would turn down a chance to get his hands on your credit card information, there’s an even bigger prize: your Social Security number, which cybersecurity experts say is now the single most valuable piece of information in terms of being able to steal your identity.
So if our Social Security numbers are such hot property, why do doctors routinely ask for them?
In fact, not even the American Medical Association wants you to.
Given that Medicare/Medicaid covers roughly 35 percent of Americans, it may be that requesting the Social Security number from all patients is just more expedient for the doctor or hospital.
But it’s certainly not best for patients, who may be exposing themselves to identity theft.
The health care industry, with hospitals leading the way, reported that 113.2 million health care-related records were stolen in 2015 ― the most ever, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Alarmingly, about half of all health care organizations had little or no confidence that they could detect the loss or theft of patient data, and the majority lack the budget to secure their data, according to a 2016 annual study on health care data privacy and security by the Ponemon Institute, a security research and consulting organization.
But you can’t close your Social Security number.
And it gets worse: It’s an open secret that a person’s Medicare number includes their Social Security number.
Nunnikhoven suggests asking what other form of identification the doctor’s office would accept ― say, a driver’s license or a photo ID.

Get a Replacement Social Security Tax Form Online With Ease
Social Security Disability

Get a Replacement Social Security Tax Form Online With Ease

It’s that time of year again.
Preparing for tax season can seem overwhelming.
Some forms and paperwork might be difficult to track down.
If you misplaced your Benefits Statement or haven’t received it by the end of January, we’ve made it easy to go online to get a replacement with my Social Security.
An SSA-1099, also called a Benefit Statement, is a tax form Social Security mails each year in January to the more than 60 million people who receive Social Security benefits.
It shows the total amount of benefits received from Social Security in the previous year so people know how much Social Security income to report to the IRS on their tax return.
For noncitizens who live outside of the United States and received or repaid Social Security benefits last year, we’ll send form SSA-1042S instead.
If you currently live in the United States and need a replacement form SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S, we have a way for you to get a replacement quickly and easily.
Go online and get a replacement form with a my Social Security account.
The secure and personalized features of my Social Security are valuable tools to help Americans plan for retirement.

The IRS’ Private Debt Collection Program Once Again Looks Like A Failure
Social Security Disability

The IRS’ Private Debt Collection Program Once Again Looks Like A Failure

This time, according to the TAS, the agency spent $20 million in fiscal years 2016-2017 on a program that generated $6.7 million in payments through last October.
Of the 4,100 taxpayers who made payments after their debts were assigned to private collectors, 1,100, or 28 percent, had incomes below $20,000.
The TAS reports that about 1,700 taxpayers were placed in installment payment programs even though their incomes are so low that they are unlikely to make the payments.
Overall, the IRS paid about $1 million in commissions to the debt collectors, about $10 million in start-up costs, and about $9 million for oversight and administrative expenses.
Still, the Taxpayer Advocate report raises questions about the value of the program.
The agency assigned to the private firms $920 million in back taxes that it deemed uncollectible.
The firms collected less than 1 percent.
Of the $6.7 million that was collected, about $1.2 million was paid after taxpayers received a letter warning them that their back taxes would be turned over to private debt firms, but before they were actually contacted by the companies.
It was imposed on the agency by Congress that continues to believe, against all evidence, that private firms can do a better job collecting back taxes than the IRS staff.
Maybe this program eventually will pay for itself.

Social Security Warns On New Scheme Similar To IRS Phone Scams
Social Security Disability

Social Security Warns On New Scheme Similar To IRS Phone Scams

Social Security Warns On New Scheme Similar To IRS Phone Scams.
As in the IRS phone scams, the calls typically include a recorded message – this one purporting from an “officer with the Inspector General of Social Security.”
During the follow-up call, the potential victim is generally threatened with arrest unless they paid out funds in iTunes cards, other gift cards, or prepaid banking cards (sound familiar?).
As with previous scams, those who sent money received additional calls demanding more money and in some cases, threatening arrest.
Learn more Now, the agency says it’s receiving new reports from citizens across the country involving phone calls from an individual posing as an SSA employee.
The caller claims to be an SSA employee, and in some instances, begins by telling the victim that they are due a 1.7% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase in Social Security benefits.
The impersonator goes on to ask the victim to verify personal information including their name, date of birth, Social Security number (SSN), and parents’ names in order to qualify for the increase.
Acting Inspector General Stone warns citizens to be cautious and to avoid providing information such as your Social Security Number (SSN) or bank account numbers to unknown persons over the phone or the internet unless you are certain of who is receiving it.
I’d go a step further and advise, ” When in doubt, assume it’s a scam. ”
If you have questions about any communication (email, letter, text or phone call) from any person claiming to be from SSA or the OIG, contact your local Social Security office or call Social Security’s toll-free customer service number at 1.800.772.1213 (TTY: 1.800.325.0778) to verify its legitimacy.

Taxation Of Social Security And SSDI Payments
Social Security Disability

Taxation Of Social Security And SSDI Payments

Depending on the amount of alternate income that you have in retirement and your filing status, you could owe taxes on up to 85% of your Social Security benefits.
This form tells you the total amount of your benefits but does not tell you if any of your benefits are taxable, or at what percentage.
However, you can get a reasonable estimate by combining half of your Social Security benefits with all other income (including tax-exempt interest) and comparing it to the base amounts that are excluded from tax.
Anything over the base amount may be taxable.
One-half of that total serves as your income for these calculations.
This is the total of most of the income boxes in lines 7-21 of your Form 1040 with the exception of non-taxable portions of pensions and annuities and tax-exempt interest (lines 8b, 15a, and 16a, respectively).
None of your benefits are taxable if the result is smaller than the base value for your filing status.
It will direct you to worksheets in other publications for special situations such as having combined IRA’s and a work-related retirement plan.
If you determine that you do have to pay taxes on your benefits, you can have federal taxes withheld from your benefit package or make periodic estimated payments of your tax to the IRS.
To avoid paying taxes pre-emptively on your Social Security benefits, run a series of calculations to find out the maximum income outside of Social Security that you can bring in without triggering the taxes.

4 Tax Filing Tips For People 65 And Older
Social Security Disability

4 Tax Filing Tips For People 65 And Older

4 Tax Filing Tips For People 65 And Older.
By Alissa Sauer, Next Avenue Contributor Tax filing time is quickly approaching (April 18, this year), so it’s a good time to offer a reminder about tax filing rules, tax deductions and tax credits specifically for people 65 and older.
1. Who Needs to File Every unmarried person over 65 who had a gross income of at least $11,900 in 2016 is required to file an income tax return.
Social Security benefits are not included in that gross income figure unless: you were either married filing separately and lived with your spouse at any time during 2016 or half of your net Social Security benefits plus other gross income and any tax-exempt interest exceeded $25,000 ($32,000 if you were married and filing jointly).
If you met either of those two exceptions, the taxable portion of your Social Security benefits is included in your gross income for determining whether you need to file a return.
If you lived only on Social Security in 2016, you won’t need to file a federal income tax return.
The Elderly or Disabled Tax Credit Some taxpayers over age 65 qualify for the Tax Credit for the Elderly or Disabled, which ranges between $3,750 and $7,500.
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If you were married and only one of you was 65 or older in 2016, you can still use the 7.5% rule.
Required Minimum Distributions from IRAs If you are 70 ½ or older and have a traditional IRA, you must take Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) and report them on your tax return.