What Taxpayers Can Do Now Before Filing Their Return in 2018

While taxpayers will not start filing their tax returns for a few months, there are a few things they can do to make the process easier next year. Here are two things that could affect the 2017 returns they will file in 2018.

  1. Report name changes. Recently married or divorced taxpayers who change their name should notify the Social Security Administration. They should also notify the SSA if a dependent’s name changed.  Taxpayers need to do this so that when the taxpayer files next year, the new name on the tax return matches A mismatch between the name shown on their tax return and the SSA records can cause problems in the processing of their tax return and may even delay their tax refund.
  2. Renew Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers. Taxpayers who use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number should check to see if their number expired in 2016 or will expire this year. If so, and they need to file a return in 2018, they should apply now to renew their ITIN to avoid certain disallowed tax credits and processing delays next year. Taxpayers who have not used their ITIN to file a federal return at least once in the last three years will see their number expire Dec. 31, 2017. Additionally, ITINs with middle digits 70, 71, 72 or 80 will also expire at the end of the year. Only taxpayers with expiring ITINs need to take any action. To renew an ITIN, a taxpayer must complete a Form W-7 and submit required documentation. No tax return is required when submitting an application to renew.

IRS YouTube Videos: 

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Consumer Alert: IRS Warns Taxpayers, Tax Pros of New e-Services Scam

WASHINGTON — The IRS today warned all e-Services users to beware of a new phishing scam that tries to trick tax professionals into “signing” a new e-Services user agreement. The phishing scam seeks to steal passwords and data.

The scam email claims to be from “e-Services Registration” and uses “Important Update about Your e-Services Account” in the subject line. It states, in part, “We are rolling out a new user agreement and all registered users must accept its revised terms to have access to e-Services and its products.” It asks the individual to review and accept the agreement but takes them to a fake site instead.

All tax professionals should be aware that as e-Services begins its move later this month to Secure Access authentication and its two-factor protections, cybercriminals likely will make last-ditch efforts to steal passwords and data prior to the transition. As the IRS has warned over the past few years, these sophisticated schemes are adaptive in nature and everyone should be cautious before clinking on a link or entering sensitive personal information.

For those who may have clicked onto this link, perform a deep scan with security software, contact IT/cybersecurity personnel and the IRS e-Help Desk.

To read more about what the IRS is doing to protect accounts with Secure Access authentication, go directly to the main e-Services landing page on IRS.gov.

 

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Tips for Business Owners Who Need to Reconstruct Records After a Disaster

After a disaster, many business owners might need to reconstruct records to prove a loss. This may be essential for tax purposes, getting federal assistance, or insurance reimbursement.

Here are four tips for businesses that need to reconstruct their records:

  • To create a list of lost inventories, business owners can get copies of invoices from suppliers. Whenever possible, the invoices should date back at least one calendar year.
  • For information about income, business owners can get copies of last year’s federal, state and local tax returns. These include sales tax reports, payroll tax returns, and business licenses from the city or county. These will reflect gross sales for a given period.
  • Owners should check their mobile phone or other cameras for pictures and videos of their building, equipment and inventory.
  • Business owners who don’t have photographs or videos can simply sketch an outline of the inside and outside of their location. For example, for the inside the building, they can draw out where equipment and inventory was located. For the outside of the building, they can map out the locations of items such as shrubs, parking, signs, and awnings.

More Information:

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The Economy Is Back: How Will That Affect Employers?

By Jack McCalmonThe McCalmon Group, Inc.

The labor participation rate rose again to 63.1 percent despite the weather. Most believed the September job reports to be a setback because of the Texas, Florida, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico hurricanes, but the underlying numbers prove that the economy is standing strong.

The recent numbers from the Department of Labor show that the unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent, the lowest since 2001. The hurricanes did impact the food industry and led to an overall loss of 33,000 jobs, however. Even so the overall unemployment rate has stayed steady at 8.6 percent. http://news.gallup.com/home.aspx

Although the numbers look good for finding and keeping a full-time job, what employers need to consider is that wages are continuing to go up. Payroll numbers rose to 12 cents, and the average hourly earnings have increased 2.9 percent in the last 12 months. Susan Jones “63.1%: Participation Rate Reaches Trump-Era High; Record Number of Employed” http://www.cnsnews.com (Oct. 06, 2017).

Commentary

Once the impact of the hurricanes is addressed, employers can expect that the job and wage numbers will increase especially as construction begins in Texas, Florida, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Congress also has bilateral support for an infrastructure program. If an infrastructure program is passed, employers will find a very competitive job market, especially in the construction industry.

When an economy improves, especially after the recession, turnover is bound to increase especially from employees who are presently filling low- paying or part-time jobs. Employees with experience, but working part-time, will have more options for increased wages and full-time employment.

Employers that have low wages, who cannot increase wages and do not have competitive benefits, will have to look at candidates with less experience or who are reentering the job market. Employers that use temporary employees may also experience a shortage of qualified talent.

As for litigation exposure, layoffs and terminations place employers at their biggest risk. When the economy improves, there are fewer layoffs and terminations lowering risk. Moreover, employees who are laid off or terminated are more likely to find “like employment,” decreasing the possibility that they will seek legal redress.

 

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