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?

Five Tax Tips for Starting a Business

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For business planning and tax advice, or personal and business tax disputes, call Kevin Sayed, J.D., LL.M. Taxation, at 252-321-2020. All materials below originally published by the Internal Revenue Service.

 IRS Tax Tips:

Five Tips for Starting a Business

Understanding your tax obligation is one key to business success. When you start a business, you need to know about income taxes, payroll taxes and much more. Here are five IRS tax tips that can help you get your business off to a good start:

  1. Business Structure. An early choice you need to make is to decide on the type of structure for your business. The most common types are sole proprietor, partnership and corporation. The type of business you choose will determine which tax forms you file.
  2. Business Taxes.  There are four general types of business taxes. They are income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax and excise tax. In most cases, the types of tax your business pays depends on the type of business structure you set up. You may need to make estimated tax payments. If you do, you can use IRS Direct Pay to make them. It’s the fast, easy and secure way to pay from your checking or savings account.
  3. Employer Identification Number (EIN).  You may need to get an EIN for federal tax purposes. Search “do you need an EIN” on IRS.gov to find out if you need this number. If you do need one, you can apply for it online.
  4. Accounting Method.  An accounting method is a set of rules that you use to determine when to report income and expenses. You must use a consistent method. The two that are most common are the cash and accrual methods. Under the cash method, you normally report income and deduct expenses in the year that you receive or pay them. Under the accrual method, you generally report income and deduct expenses in the year that you earn or incur them. This is true even if you get the income or pay the expense in a later year.
  5. Employee Health Care.  The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit helps small businesses and tax-exempt organizations pay for health care coverage they offer their employees. You’re eligible for the credit if you have fewer than 25 employees who work full-time, or a combination of full-time and part-time. The maximum credit is 50 percent of premiums paid for small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid for small tax-exempt employers, such as charities. For more information on your health care responsibilities as an employer, see the Affordable Care Act for Employers page on IRS.gov.

IRS Can Help if W-2s Are Missing

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IRS TAX TIP 2015-15

In most cases you get your W-2 forms by the end of January. Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, shows your income and the taxes withheld from your pay for the year. You need your W-2 form to file an accurate tax return.

If you haven’t received your form by mid-February, here’s what you should do:

  • Contact your employer.  Ask your employer (or former employer) for a copy. Be sure that they have your correct address.
  • After Feb. 23.  If you can’t get a copy from your employer, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 after Feb. 23. The IRS will send a letter to your employer on your behalf. You’ll need the following when you call:
  • Your name, address, Social Security number and phone number;
  • Your employer’s name, address and phone number;
  • The dates you worked for the employer; and
  • An estimate of your wages and federal income tax withheld in 2014. You can use your final pay stub for these amounts.

Originally published by the IRS. If you have problems with incorrectly reported W-2, 1099, or other income, call Kevin Sayed, J.D., LL.M. Taxation, at 252-321-2020.