What do I do if I receive a threat from the IRS to seize my property?

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If the IRS has threatened to initiate a levy on your property, call 252-321-2020 today to ask for assistance from attorney Kevin Sayed.  All material here originally published by the Internal Revenue Service.

Taxpayers now have more time to challenge a levy

The IRS reminds individuals and businesses that they have additional time to file an administrative claim or bring a civil action for wrongful levy or seizure. Tax reform legislation enacted in December extended the time limit from nine months to two years.

Here are some facts about levies and the extension of time to file a claim or civil action:

  • An IRS levy permits the legal seizure and sale of property to satisfy a tax debt. For purposes of a levy, the term “property” includes wages, money in bank or other financial accounts, vehicles and real estate.
  • The timeframes apply when the IRS has already sold the property it levied. Taxpayers can make an administrative claim for return of their property within two years of the date of the levy.
  • If an administrative claim is made within the extended two-year period, the two-year period for bringing suit is extended for one of two periods, whichever is shorter:o Twelve months from the date the person filed the
    claim.
    o Six months from the date the IRS disallowed the
    claim.
  • The change in law applies to levies made before, on or after December 22, 2017, as long as the previous nine-month period hadn’t yet expired.
  • Anyone who receives an IRS bill titled, Final Notice of Intent to Levy and Notice of Your Right to A Hearing, should immediately contact the IRS. By doing so, a taxpayer may be able to make arrangements to pay the liability, instead of having the IRS proceed with the levy.

More Information:

Please call Kevin M. Sayed, J.D., LL.M. Taxation, with Colombo Kitchen Attorneys for help with IRS tax issues.  

Enforced Collection Actions

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The IRS recently decided to begin a campaign to aggressively levy wages and income, bank accounts, and other payments and assets that serve as cash or cash equivalents. For the last few years the IRS would routinely intercept federal payments (which will continue) to businesses or individuals. The IRS will soon begin aggressive collection campaigns on cash or payments. See the website below for common types of levy and collection and enforcement actions available to the IRS.

https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/enforced-collection-actions

If taxes are not paid timely, and the IRS is not notified why the taxes cannot be paid, the law requires that enforcement action be taken, which could include the following:

  • Issuing a Notice of Levy on salary and other income, bank accounts or property (legally seize property to satisfy the tax debt)
  • Assessing a Trust Fund Recovery Penalty for certain unpaid employment taxes
  • Issuing a Summons to the taxpayer or third parties to secure information to prepare unfiled tax returns or determine the taxpayer’s ability to pay

Note: To collect delinquent tax debts, certain federal payments (vendor, OPM, SSA, federal salary, and federal employee travel) disbursed by the Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Fiscal Service (BFS) may be subject to a levy through the Federal Payment Levy Program (FPLP).

Important Information for Employers

Employment taxes are:

  • The amounts an employer should withhold from employees for income, social security, and Medicare taxes (also called withheld or trust fund taxes), plus
  • The amount of social security tax and Medicare taxes an employer pays on behalf of each employee

Paying employment taxes late, or not including payment with a return if required, could result in additional penalties and interest on any unpaid balance. Failure to Deposit (FTD) penalties of up to 15 percent of the amount not deposited may be charged, depending on how many days the payment is late.

Enrolling in and making current tax deposits through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) can help employers stay up-to-date with their payment requirements.

If you need help with employment or contracts, business or corporate matters, or business tax optimization, call Kevin M. Sayed, J.D., LL.M. Taxation at Colombo Kitchin attorneys, 252-321-2020.

 

Taxpayers should look out for disaster scams during hurricane season

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With hurricane season running through November 30, taxpayers should remember that criminals and scammers often try to take advantage of generous taxpayers who want to help disaster victims. Everyone should be vigilant, because scams often pop up after a hurricane.

These disaster scams normally start with unsolicited contact in several ways. The scammer contacts their possible victim by telephone, social media, email or in-person. Scammers also use a variety of tactics to lure information out of people.

Here are some things for people to know so they can recognize a scam and avoid becoming a victim:

  • Some thieves pretend they are from a charity. They do this to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers.
  • Bogus websites use names that are similar to legitimate charities. They do this scam to trick people to send money or provide personal financial information.
  • Scammers even claim to be working for ― or on behalf of ― the IRS. The thieves say they can help victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds.
  • Disaster victims can call the IRS toll-free disaster assistance telephone number at 866-562-5227. Phone assistors will answer questions about tax relief or disaster-related tax issues.
  • Taxpayers who want to make donations can get information to help them on IRS.gov. The Tax Exempt Organization Search helps users find or verify qualified charities. Donations to these charities may be tax-deductible.
  • Taxpayers should always contribute by check or credit card to have a record of the tax-deductible donation.
  • Donors should not give out personal financial information to anyone who solicits a contribution. This includes things like Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords.

More Information:
Report Phishing
Disaster relief

For more information on how to protect your assets, please contact Kevin Sayed at 252-321-2020.

Taxpayers should stay alert because scammers don’t take a summer vacation

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While many people take summer vacations, data thieves do not. Phishing emails and telephone scams continue to pop up around the country. The IRS reminds everyone to be vigilant to avoid becoming a victim.

Here are some things for taxpayers to remember so they can keep their personal data safe:

  • The IRS does not leave pre-recorded, urgent messages asking for a call back. In one scam, the victim is told if they do not call back, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. Other variations may include the threat of other law-enforcement agency intervention, deportation or revocation of licenses. The IRS will never threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Criminals can fake or “spoof” caller ID to appear to be anywhere in the country, including from an IRS office. This prevents taxpayers from being able to verify the true call number. If a taxpayer gets a call from the IRS, they should hang up and call the agency back at a publicly-available phone number.
  • If a taxpayer receives an unsolicited email that appears to be from the IRS, they should report it by sending it to phishing@irs.gov. Some people might also receive an email from a program closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. Recipients should also send these emails to phishing@irs.gov.
  • The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.

There are special circumstances when the IRS will call or come to a home or business. This includes situations when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill or when the IRS needs to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment.

More Information:

Share this tip on social media — #IRSTaxTip: https://go.usa.gov/xQfrE

Facts about Filing for an Extension

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Taxpayers needing more time to file their taxes can get an automatic six-month extension from the IRS.  If you didn’t pay your tax bill by midnight on April 18, you’ll face a penalty of 0.5 percent of the balance due for each month your taxes go unpaid, up to a maximum of 25 percent.

There are a few different ways taxpayers can file for an extension.

Here are a couple things for people filing an extension to remember:

  • More Time to File is Not More Time to Pay. An extension to file gives taxpayers more time to file their return, but not more time to pay their taxes. Taxpayers should estimate and pay any owed taxes by April 18 to avoid a late-filing penalty. To avoid penalties and interest, they should pay the full amount owed by the April due date.
  • The IRS Can Help. The IRS offers payment options for taxpayers who can’t pay all the tax they owe. In most cases, they can apply for an installment agreement with the Online Payment Agreement application on IRS.gov. They may also file Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request. The IRS will work with taxpayers who can’t make payments because of financial hardship.

More Information:
Interactive Tax Assistant: What Is the Due Date of My Federal Tax Return or Am I Eligible to Request an Extension?

New Tax Bill

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Late on December 1, 2017, the Senate passed their version of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” (H.R. 1). Next, a conference committee will work to consolidate the House and Senate proposals, in a form that will pass both legislative bodies.

Following is a summary of the two bill versions. At this point, it is fair to assume that some combination of the proposals will be enacted. Where the two bills are substantively identical, this leads one to strongly know what the final bill will propose in that area. Unless otherwise stated, these provisions would begin in 2018.

One key difference is that Senate budget rules require that the bill either get 60 votes (not going to happen) or not increase the deficit beyond ten years. This requirement means that the individual tax provisions expire after 2025 (the corporate provisions are permanent). This sunset will have to remain in a final bill, again unless, 60 Senate votes can be obtained or the bill does not increase the deficit in the long term.

Individual tax provisions

Tax rates.

  • Current rule. For ordinary income, seven graduated tax rates apply to individuals – 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%, and 39.6%. The special long-term capital gains and qualified dividends, the rate is 0% for a taxpayer otherwise in the 10% or 15% rate. For a taxpayer otherwise in the 25% to 35%, the special rate is 15%. For those in the top 39.6% rate, the special rate is 20%.
  • House bill. Replace the seven rates with four – 12%, 25%, 35%, and 39.6%. The top rate applies at approximately twice the current amount of income. Long-term capital gains and qualified dividends rates are retained, and the 20% rate would apply at current rate brackets. The benefit of the lowest rate is recaptured for those at the 39.6% rate, making that marginal rate even higher.
  • Senate bill. Replace the seven rates with a different, slightly lower, seven – 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 38.5%. Greatly increase the amount of income subject to each bracket. Long-term capital gains and qualified dividends – same as current law. No recapture of the lowest rate. Again, these rates sunset after 2025, reverting to current law.
  • Observation. The size of the House brackets means that the cuts are more aggressive as compared to the Senate, and accordingly, the revenue loss. House members will feel that the Senate proposal is the status quo, not reform. The brackets will be indexed for inflation in the future.

 

Standard deduction.

  • Current rule. Single – $6,350; Married-filing-jointly – $12,700; Head of household –$9,350.
  • House bill. Single – $12,200; Head of household – $18,300; Married-filing-jointly – $24,400.
  • Senate bill. Single – $12,000; Head of household – $18,000; Married-filing-jointly – $24,000.
  • Observation. Bill-writers believe that the large interest in the standard deduction, coupled with the restriction on itemized deductions, will result in 90% of taxpayers being able to avoid itemizing. Also, this cushions the blow for many specific itemized deductions that have been eliminated.

Personal exemptions.

  • Current rule. An exemption from tax applies to $4,050 of income, for the taxpayer, spouse, and any dependents.
  • House bill. Repealed.
  • Senate bill. Repealed.
  • Observation. Bill-writers say that the much larger standard deduction and an expanded child tax credit will address this loss, with simplification as a side effect. Lower to middle income taxpayers with many dependent children though will be adversely affected.

Child tax credit.

  • Current rule. A credit of $1,000 per dependent child under age 17 is allowed. The credit phases out beginning at $75,000 of single income ($110,000 joint).
  • House bill. Increase the credit to $1,600 per child and move the phase-out starting point to $115,000 single ($230,000 joint). Also, an additional credit of $300 is allowed for non-child dependents through 2022 only.
  • Senate bill. Increase the credit to $2,000 per child and move the phase-out starting point to $500,000. No supplemental credit for non-children.
  • Observation. The increased phase-outs and credit will make the credit much more valuable to most taxpayers than under current law.

Itemized deductions.

  • Current rule. Popular itemized deductions include medical expenses, state and local taxes (sales or income, but not both), real estate taxes, mortgage interest expense, charitable contributions, casualty losses, unreimbursed employee expenses, and tax preparation expenses. For mortgage interest, you can deduct interest on up to $1,000,000 of acquisition debt on a principal residence and one second home, plus interest on up to $100,000 of home equity debt from whatever source.
  • House bill. Eliminates medical, state and local income or sales taxes, casualty losses (unless a federal disaster), unreimbursed employee expenses, and tax preparation fees. Retains deductions for local property taxes (capped at $10,000), charitable contributions (some technical changes), and mortgage interest. Current mortgages for a principal residence are grandfathered, but new mortgages would be limited to the first $500,000 of acquisition debt. No deduction for equity loans, and vacation homes – without grandfathered protection.
  • Senate bill. Same as House for deduction of taxes. Retains the medical deduction, in fact, providing an improved 7.5% floor for medical expenses (currently 10%) for 2017 and 2018 only. For mortgage interest, only the home equity interest deduction would be repealed, with no other changes. Same as House for loss of miscellaneous deductions.
  • Observation. These changes would greatly reduce the need and ability to itemize deductions. Depending on your specific situation, the changes can have a minor effect or dramatically impact your income tax obligation.

Other deductions.

  • Current rule. Deductions allowed without the need to itemize for alimony, student loan interest, an educator deduction (up to $250), and moving expenses. Employer moving allowances are not included in income.
  • House bill. All are eliminated. Alimony income would not be taxable, and employer moving allowances would not be excluded from income.
  • Senate bill. The educator deduction is not only retained, but doubled. Only the moving expense and allowance is eliminated, the others retained.
  • Observation. A further move towards simplicity, again with winners and losers, depending on your facts.

 Gain on sale of a residence.

  • Current rule. A single taxpayer can exclude up to $250,000 of gain from the sale of a principal residence. Joint filers get up to $500,000 if both meet the requirements. Two key rules. One – you can claim this only once every two years. Two – the house must have been your principal residence for some two of the prior five years.
  • House bill. The two-out-of-five rule is replaced with a five-out-of-eight rule. The exclusion is available once every five years. Also, once income exceeds $500,000, the maximum exclusion phases out. The end result is that a married couple making $1 million is not eligible for an exclusion, regardless of other facts.
  • Senate bill. Same as House, except that the exclusion does not phase out for upper incomers.
  • Observation. The move to five-out-of-eight rule will keep home “flippers” from using the exclusion, but the House income test would represent the first limitation on using a home sale exclusion for upper-incomers.

Alternative minimum tax.

  • Current rule. Imposed on all taxpayers.
  • House bill. Repealed.
  • Senate bill. Retained with an increase in the exemption of about 40%.
  • Observation. Repealing the AMT is stalwart GOP position, but the Senate bill found it too expensive to get enough votes to pass. This will surely disappoint House members, who campaigned on AMT as a core belief. Expect them to fight to keep a full repeal.

Estate and gift tax.

  • Current rule. Estates over $5.5 million ($11 million married) are taxed at 40% of the excess. Lifetime gifts are taxed against this same limitation.
  • House bill. Doubles the exemption to over $10 million, and after 2024, repeal it entirely. The gift tax remains.
  • Senate bill. Double the exemption for both the estate and gift tax, without future repeal.
  • Observation. The estate tax currently affects only 0.2% of taxpayers under the present system.

Some other specific personal tax rules.

  • Roth IRA recharacterizations. Currently, income from the conversion of a regular IRA to Roth is taxable income. However, by October 15 of the subsequent year, the taxpayer can change his/her mind and return the IRA to its regular status, and amend their tax return to remove the income. This “undoing” is known as a recharacterization.
    • House bill. Repeals the right to a recharacterization.
    • Senate bill. Same as House.
  • Graduate student income. Currently, tuition waivers are not taxable income.
    • House bill. Taxes the value of the tuition waiver.
    • Senate bill. No change from current law.
  • Cost basis of securities sold. Currently, the taxpayer can use the FIFO method to account for which securities were sold (“first-in, first-out”), or the taxpayer can specifically identify which securities were sold. OR, in the case of a mutual fund only, average cost can be used.
    • House bill. No change from current law.
    • Senate bill. Would require the use of the FIFO method.

Business tax provisions

 Corporate income tax.

  • Current rule. Taxed at graduated rates from 15% to 35%. Personal service corporations (“PSCs”) are taxed at the top marginal rate.
  • House bill. Taxed at a flat 20%, beginning in 2018. PSCs are taxed at a flat 25%.
  • Senate bill. Taxed at a flat 20%, beginning in 2019. No special rate for PSCs.
  • Observation. The date will be the key difference to reconcile.

Tax rate on business income from partnerships, LLCs, and S corporations.

  • Current rule. Taxed as ordinary income at marginal tax rates.
  • House bill. Impose a maximum tax rate of 25%, where the income is based on capital investment. Where the income is also compensatory in nature, some ratio of income will qualify for the 25% while the rest is taxed at top marginal rates. Owners of PSC-type businesses will be considered entirely compensation and thus not eligible for this break. Smaller businesses could be taxed as low as 9% if the taxpayer was otherwise in the new 12% rate.
  • Senate bill. These owners will get a deduction for 23% of their “qualified business income”, limited to 50% of the wages paid by the business to its employees. PSC-type businesses are eligible to the extent that taxable income does not exceed $250,000 single, $500,000 married-filing-jointly. Note that this is a generalized response for a complicated concept.
  • Observation. Very different approaches, either of which, if enacted, would be one of the most complicated provisions in this bill.

Section 179 – depreciation expensing.

  • Current rule. Can deduct up to $500,000 per year, but it cannot create a loss. Begin to lose the ability to claim the deductions at $2 million of eligible additions in that year.
  • House bill. Deduction increased for up to $5 million, with a phase out beginning at $20 million.
  • Senate bill. Deduction increased for up to $1 million, with a phase out beginning at $2.5 million.
  • Observation. A significant tax incentive for small to medium-sized businesses, with a very different scope between the two bills. Taxpayers should expect that states will not follow this.

Section 168(k) – “bonus” depreciation.

  • Current rule. Can deduct 50% of the 2017 cost of certain “new” additions per year, no cap. Phases down to 40% in 2018, and ends with 30% in 2019.
  • House bill. Can deduct 100% of the cost for acquisitions after 9/27/2017. No longer required to be “new”. Effective 2018 through 2022.
  • Senate bill. Same as House except that provision phases out by 20% a year beginning in 2023. Also, the Senate does not change the current “new” requirement.
  • Observation. Another significant tax incentive for all businesses, beginning before 2018. Taxpayers should expect that states will not follow this treatment.

Some specific business tax rules set to change.

  • Deduction of interest expense.
    • Current rule. No limit.
    • House bill. Limited to 30% of EBITDA, with the excess available for up to five years. Does not apply to small taxpayers under $25 million gross receipts.
    • Senate bill. Limited to 30% of “adjusted taxable income”, with a non-expiring carryover of the excess. The 30% is applied to net business income before NOL and the 23% pass-through deduction, if applicable. Does not apply to those under $15 million gross receipts.
  • Alternative minimum tax.
    • Current rule. Imposed on corporations.
    • House bill. Fully repealed.
    • Senate bill. No change from current law.
  • Entertainment deduction
    • Current rule. Generally 50% deductible.
    • House bill. Not deductible.
    • Senate bill. Same as House.
  • Real estate depreciation.
    • Current rule. Residential real estate is depreciated over 27.5 years; commercial over 39 years.
    • House bill. No provision.
    • Senate bill. Life reduced to 25 years, allowing for a faster recovery of the investment.
  • Net operating losses (“NOLs”).
    • Current rule. Can carry back for two years, and/or carry forward for up to twenty years.
    • House bill. No further carry backs after 2017. Carry forwards are limited to 90% of income (still must pay tax on 10% even if you have plenty of NOLs).
    • Senate bill. Same as House, except the limit becomes 80% after 2022.
  • Like-kind exchanges.
    • Current rule. Allowed for real and personal property used for investment or in a business.
    • House bill. Repealed for all assets except real property.
    • Senate bill. Same as House.
  • Domestic production deduction.
    • Current rule. Deduction of 9% of production activity income.
    • House bill. Repealed after 2017.
    • Senate bill. Repealed after 2017 for pass-through, after 2018 for others.
  •  “C” corporations forced to use the accrual method of accounting.
    • Current rule. At $5 million gross receipts.
    • House bill. At $25 million gross receipts.
    • Senate bill. At $15 million gross receipts.
  • Required to comply with Section 263A capitalization rules.
    • Current rule. At $10 million for resellers, no threshold for manufacturers.
    • House bill. At $25 million gross receipts.
    • Senate bill. At $15 million gross receipts.
  • Local lobbying expenses.
    • Current rule. Deductible.
    • House bill. Deduction repealed.
    • Senate bill. Same as House.
  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit.
    • Current rule. Provides a tax credit for a percentage of the wages paid to certain disadvantaged groups.
    • House bill. Repealed.
    • Senate bill. No provision.
  • Technical termination rule.
    • Current rule. A partnership (or an entity taxed as a partnership) is considered terminated and a new partnership started where there is a sale or exchange of more than 50% of the ownership interests in a 12-month period.
    • House bill. Repeal the rule.
    • Senate bill. No provision.

This information above was shared with us by Milton Howell, CPA, the tax partner with DMJ in Greensboro, NC.  DMJ & Co. is a CPA and accounting firm located North Carolina specializing in tax preparation, financial planning and wealth management.

For more information on how these tax changes affect you or your business, please contact Kevin Sayed, 252-321-2020.

House Passes Tax Reform

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House Passes Tax Reform

See this link for the tax changes that have been approved by the U.S. House:   House Passes Tax Reform

Employee or Independent Contractor? Know the Rules

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All material below original issued by the Internal Revenue Service. If you need help with employment or contracts, business or corporate matters, or business tax optimization, call Kevin M. Sayed, J.D., LL.M. Taxation at Colombo Kitchin Attorneys, 252-321-2020.

Issue Number:    IRS Small Business Week Tax Tip 2017-02

Inside This Issue

The IRS encourages all businesses and business owners to know the rules when it comes to classifying a worker as an employee or an independent contractor.

An employer must withhold income taxes and pay Social Security, Medicare taxes and unemployment tax on wages paid to an employee. Employers normally do not have to withhold or pay any taxes on payments to independent contractors.

Here are two key points for small business owners to keep in mind when it comes to classifying workers:

  1. Control. The relationship between a worker and a business is important. If the business controls what work is accomplished and directs how it is done, it exerts behavioral control. If the business directs or controls financial and certain relevant aspects of a worker’s job, it exercises financial control. This includes:
  • The extent of the worker’s investment in the facilities or tools used in performing services
  • The extent to which the worker makes his or her services available to the relevant market
  • How the business pays the worker, and
  • The extent to which the worker can realize a profit or incur a loss
  1. Relationship. How the employer and worker perceive their relationship is also important for determining worker status. Key topics to think about include:
  • Written contracts describing the relationship the parties intended to create
  • Whether the business provides the worker with employee-type benefits, such as insurance, a pension plan, vacation or sick pay
  • The permanency of the relationship, and
  • The extent to which services performed by the worker are a key aspect of the regular business of the company
  • The extent to which the worker has unreimbursed business expenses

The IRS can help employers determine the status of their workers by using form Form SS-8, Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding. IRS Publication 15-A, Employer’s Supplemental Tax Guide, is also an excellent resource.

 

 

Employers Must File Forms W-2 by Jan. 31 This Year

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All material below original published by IRS. For help with tax law for personal or business matters, call Kevin M Sayed, J.D., LL.M. taxation at 252-321-2020.

Issue Number:  IR-2017-13

The Internal Revenue Service today reminds employers that the due date for filing Forms W-2, the Wage and Tax Statement for their employees for calendar year 2016, is now Jan, 31, 2017. Also, those who hire contract workers and have to file Form 1099-MISC now must file by Jan. 31.

The new deadline applies whether an employer e-files or files a paper Form W-2. Employers who pay an employee $600 or more for the year must file a Form W-2 for each employee with the Social Security Administration.

The new deadline is part of legislation signed into law at the end of 2015 to combat identity-theft related refund fraud.

The Social Security Administration encourages all employers to e-file their Forms W-2 by using its Business Services Online.  Employers who file paper Forms W-2 should file them with the Social Security Administration, Data Operations Center, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18769-0001.

E-filing can save time and effort and helps ensure accuracy. Employers must e-file if they file 250 or more Forms W-2 or W-2c. Employers who are required to e-file but fail to do so may incur a penalty. E-filing can save time and effort and helps ensure accuracy.

The IRS projects that employers will file more than 250 million Forms W-2 this year; the vast majority will be e-filed.

The new rule does not affect the filing deadline for other types of Form 1099 or Forms 1097, 1098, 3921, 3922, or W-2G, which are filed on paper by Feb. 28, 2018, or by April 2, 2018 if filed electronically.

Get Ready to Pay $500 More in Taxes?

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Check out this link below to an article published by Bloomberg and Yahoo Finance. If you are a small business owner and want to learn about ways to save on increases in the social security tax and payroll taxes, and how to save on taxes in general as a small business owner, contact Kevin Sayed, J.D., LL.M. Taxation, at 252-321-2020 with Colombo Kitchin Attorneys. Over 12 million Americans will pay more tax this year on the exact same amount of earning as last year.

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/ready-pay-500-more-taxes-090016482.html