Today TaxMama® wants to update you on key tax issues that affect you this year.
Dear Friends and Family,
As you have already noticed, there have been sweeping changes to our tax system this year. There will probably be more, after the November elections. In the meantime, the IRS Tax Reform Information Office (TRIO) is frantically trying to update 450 forms and 140 information technology (IT) systems – with a diminished staff. So don’t be surprised if you encounter obstacles and errors along the way, this year. However if you do run into problems with the IRS systems and don’t know where to report them, please post them in my TaxQuips Forum – http://iTaxMama.com/AskQuestion . I will pass them along to the right people.
In the meantime, the IRS has a special page with announcements and procedures relating the Tax Reform issues here – https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-reform .
To reduce some of the problems, the IRS is relying on self-service technology more than ever. There are a variety of tools that taxpayers can use on your own, either online or via mobile devices – looking up refunds, paying online (with or without fees), looking up your own transcripts. The IRS App lets you do most of – and even prepare your tax return for free – in English or Spanish (check your own app services to see if you can find it – the IRS announcement doesn’t link to it).
There are more electronic tools for tax professionals, including a pilot program to allow some of us to upload supporting documents for IRS correspondence audits (by mail audits) directly to our clients’ accounts. I am really looking forward to that becoming an established option. It would solve the problems of delays and lost documents that have been plaguing the system. However, due to some of the inefficiencies and complications, many tax professionals prefer to work with the IRS by phone. To avoid the long waits on hold, Andrew Valiente came up with this dynamite CallEnQ service to put us at the front of the phone queue. Alas, this is only for tax pros – not the general public.
For folks with offshore funds, the IRS is closing down the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) on Sept. 28, 2018. So if you have bank accounts or financial assets outside the U.S. (or you sign on your parents’ or relatives’ accounts) and you haven’t reported them yet, you have one last opportunity to get reduced penalties within the scope of this particular amnesty program. After that, you’re on your own. Those penalties can rise to 100% of the unreported accounts.
You have been hearing that the IRS can deny passports for people who have unpaid taxes. At this time, they are not actively stopping you at borders YET (unless there is a criminal case involved). However, if you owe $51,000 or more, and you are not making an active effort to pay the balance, your passport will not be renewed. So if your job requires you to have a passport, or you must do some traveling outside the U.S., it’s time to catch up on your tax obligations – or you’re stuck in this country. So get hold of a tax professional to help you, immediately.
The IRS is seriously ramping up their visits to employers who are delinquent on their payroll tax deposits – these start as “educational visits” but can turn into enforcement visits quite quickly. The states are investing more energy into identifying employers who pay their employees as freelancers. There is still a way to protect yourself and fix the employment issue. I will be offering a webinar to help employers, as well as tax professionals, to address this amnesty, before the employer gets caught, and it’s too late.
That’s it for now…but I will be posting more of the IRS’s announcements and tips on the site, between emails. So drop by often.
To make comments and toss in your own ideas, please drop into the TaxQuips Forum.
And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about tax and business issues, free. Where? Where else? At www.TaxMama.com.