Dirty Dozen: IRS, Security Summit reiterate recent warning to tax professionals and other businesses of dangerous spear phishing attacks

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today announced that spear phishing is the 8th item on the 2022 “Dirty Dozen” scams warning list and a serious problem because it can be tailored to attack and steal the computer system credentials of any small business with a client data base, such as tax professionals’ firms.

“Tax professionals generally relax a little after filing season and many take a well-deserved vacation but don’t let your IT defenses down,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Spear phishing remains one of the biggest threats to the tax industry and other client-based enterprises.”

Spear phishing is an email scam that attempts to steal a tax professional’s software preparation credentials. These thieves try to steal client data and tax preparers’ identities in an attempt to file fraudulent tax returns for refunds. Spear phishing can be tailored to attack any type of business or organization, so everyone needs to be on the lookout and not rush to act when a strange email comes in.

The IRS has compiled the annual “Dirty Dozen” list for more than 20 years as a way of alerting taxpayers and the tax professional community about scams and schemes. The list is not a legal document or a literal listing of agency enforcement priorities. It is designed to raise awareness among a variety of audiences that may not always be aware of developments involving tax administration.

“Dirty Dozen” scams tend to be most prevalent during the filing season but criminals are busy all year long.

The IRS, state tax agencies and the nation’s tax community – working together as the Security Summit – continue to see an increase in this scheme attacking the tax professional community.

The latest phishing email uses the IRS logo and a variety of subject lines such as “Action Required: Your account has now been put on hold.” The IRS has observed similar bogus emails that claim to be from a “tax preparation application provider.” One such variation offers an “unusual activity report” and a solution link for the recipient to restore their account.

Emails claiming “Your account has been put on hold” are scams. The scam email will send users to a website that shows the logos of several popular tax software preparation providers. Clicking on one of these logos will prompt a request for tax preparer account credentials.

The IRS warns tax pros not to respond or take any of the steps outlined in the email. Similar emails include malicious links or attachments that are set up to steal information or to download malware onto the tax professional’s computer.

In this case, if recipients enter their credentials into the pop-up window, thieves can use this information to file fraudulent returns by using credentials that were provided by the tax professional. For more information, see IR-2022-36.

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School is out for the summer, but tax planning is year-round (from IRS site)


Now that the April filing deadline has passed, most people are spending more time thinking about summer vacations than taxes. However, summer is a great time to review withholding and see if summer plans will affect next year’s tax return. Below are some common summertime tax situations and tips to help taxpayers figure out if they apply to their tax situation.

Getting married
Newlyweds should report any name change to the Social Security Administration. They should also report an address change to the United States Postal Service, their employers and the IRS. To report a change of address for federal tax purposes, taxpayers must complete Form 8822, Change of Address and submit it to the IRS. This will help make sure they receive the documents they will need to file their taxes.

Sending kids to summer day camp
Unlike overnight camps, the cost of summer day camp may count towards the child and dependent care credit.

Working part-time
While summertime and part-time workers may not earn enough to owe federal income tax, they should remember to file a return. They’ll need to file early next year to get a refund for taxes withheld from their checks this year.

Gig economy work
Taxpayers may earn summer income by providing on-demand work, services or goods, often through a digital platform like an app or website. Examples include ride sharing, delivery services and other activities. Those who do are encouraged to visit the Gig Economy Tax Center at IRS.gov to learn more about how participating in the gig economy can affect their taxes.

Normally, employees receive a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, from their employer to account for the summer’s work. They’ll use this to prepare their tax return. They should receive the W-2 by January 31 next year. Employees will get a W-2 even if they no longer work for the summertime employer.

Summertime workers can avoid higher tax bills and lost benefits if they know their correct status. Employers will determine whether the people who work for them are employees or independent contractors. Independent contractors aren’t subject to withholding, making them responsible for paying their own income taxes plus Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Remember to file their tax return if they got an extension
People who requested an extension to October 17 or missed the April deadline should be sure to file their return. Many taxpayers can prepare and e-file tax returns for free with IRS Free FileMilTax online software is also available for the members of military and certain veterans, regardless of income. This software is offered through the Department of Defense. Eligible taxpayers can use MilTax to prepare and electronically file their federal tax returns and up to three state returns, for free.

Adjust withholding now to avoid tax surprises next year
Taxpayers can avoid a tax surprise next filing season by reviewing their withholding now. Life events like marriage, divorce, having a child, or a change in income can all affect taxes. The IRS Tax Withholding Estimator on IRS.gov helps employees assess their income tax, credits, adjustments and deductions and determine whether they need to change their withholding by submitting a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. Taxpayers should remember that, if needed, they should submit their new W-4 to their employer, not the IRS.

Share this tip on social media — #IRSTaxTip: School is out for the summer, but tax planning is year-round https://go.usa.gov/xu6NY

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IRS reminds taxpayers their Social Security benefits may be taxable

A new tax season has arrived. The IRS reminds taxpayers receiving Social Security benefits that they may have to pay federal income tax on a portion of those benefits.

Social Security benefits include monthly retirement, survivor and disability benefits. They don’t include supplemental security income payments, which aren’t taxable.

The portion of benefits that are taxable depends on the taxpayer’s income and filing status.

To determine if their benefits are taxable, taxpayers should take half of the Social Security money they collected during the year and add it to their other income. Other income includes pensions, wages, interest, dividends and capital gains.

  • If they are single and that total comes to more than $25,000, then part of their Social Security benefits may be taxable.
  • If they are married filing jointly, they should take half of their Social Security, plus half of their spouse’s Social Security, and add that to all their combined income. If that total is more than $32,000, then part of their Social Security may be taxable.

Fifty percent of a taxpayer’s benefits may be taxable if they are:

  • Filing single, head of household or qualifying widow or widower with $25,000 to $34,000 income.
  • Married filing separately and lived apart from their spouse for all of 2020 with $25,000 to $34,000 income.
  • Married filing jointly with $32,000 to $44,000 income.

Up to 85% of a taxpayer’s benefits may be taxable if they are:

  • Filing single, head of household or qualifying widow or widower with more than $34,000 income.
  • Married filing jointly with more than $44,000 income.
  • Married filing separately and lived apart from their spouse for all of 2021 with more than $34,000 income.
  • Married filing separately and lived with their spouse at any time during 2021.

Here are reasons people who don’t normally file should file a 2021 tax return

With tax filing season is just around the corner, this is a good time for those who don’t normally file to consider the benefits of filing a 2021 tax return. Filing can help them claim a refundable tax credit or get an income tax refund.

Here are some things taxpayers should consider when deciding whether to file a tax return:

Find out the general reasons to file

In most cases, income, filing status and age determine if a taxpayer must file a tax return. Other rules may apply if the taxpayer is self-employed or can be claimed as a dependent of someone else. There are other reasons when a taxpayer must file. The Interactive Tax Assistant can help someone determine if they the need to file a return.

Look at tax withheld or paid

Here are a few questions for taxpayers to ask themselves:

  • Did the taxpayer’s employer withhold federal income tax from their pay?
  • Did the taxpayer make estimated tax payments during the tax year?
  • Did they overpay last year on their taxes and have it applied to their 2021 tax?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, they could be due a refund. They must file a 2021 tax return to get their money.

Look into whether they can claim the earned income tax credit

A working taxpayer who earned $57,414 or less last year could receive the EITC as a tax refund. For the 2021 tax year, the tax return taxpayers file in 2022, the earned income credit ranges from $1,502 to $6,728 depending on their filing status and how many children they claim on their tax return. The law allows taxpayers to use either their 2020 income or 2021 income to calculate their EITC — taxpayers may choose whichever amount gives them a larger credit. They can check eligibility by using the EITC Assistant on IRS.gov. Taxpayers need to file a tax return to claim the EITC. By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds to taxpayers claiming EITC until mid-February.

Child tax credit or credit for other dependents
Taxpayers can claim the child tax credit if they have a qualifying child under the age of 17 and meet other qualifications. Other taxpayers may be eligible for the credit for other dependents. This includes people who have:

  • Dependent children who are age 17 or older at the end of 2020
  • Parents or other qualifying individuals they support

The Child-Related Tax Benefits page of IRS.gov can help people determine if they qualify for these two credits.

Education credits
There are two higher education credits that reduce the amount of tax someone owes on their tax return. One is the American opportunity tax credit and the other is the lifetime learning credit. The taxpayer, their spouse or their dependent must have been a student enrolled at least half time for one academic period to qualify. The taxpayer may qualify for one of these credits even if they don’t owe any taxes. Form 8863, Education Credits is used to claim the credit when filing the tax return.

Recovery rebate credit
Individuals who didn’t qualify for a third Economic Impact Payment or got less than the full amount, may be eligible to claim the 2021 recovery rebate credit based on their 2021 tax year information. If they’re eligible, they’ll need to file a 2021 tax return even if they don’t usually file a tax return. The credit will reduce any tax owed for 2021 or be included in the tax refund.

Share this tip on social media — #IRSTaxTip:Here are reasons people who don’t normally file should file a 2021 tax return. https://go.usa.gov/xt22y

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Taxpayers must report gig economy earnings when filing taxes

Whether it’s a full-time job or just a side hustle, taxpayers must report gig economy earnings on their tax return. Understanding how gig work can affect taxes may sound complicated but, it doesn’t have to be. The IRS offers several resources to help gig economy taxpayers properly fulfill their tax responsibilities.

Here are some things gig workers should keep in mind.

Gig work is taxable:

  • Earnings from gig economy work is taxable, regardless of whether an individual receives information returns. The reporting requirement for issuance of Form 1099-K changed for payments received in 2022 to totals exceeding $600, regardless of the total number of transactions. This means some gig workers will now receive an information return. This is true even if the work is full-time, part-time or if an individual is paid in cash.
  • Gig workers may also be required to make quarterly estimated income tax payments and pay their share of Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Check worker classification:

  • While providing gig economy services, it is important that the taxpayer is correctly classified.
  • This means the business, or the platform, must determine whether the individual providing the services is an employee or independent contractor.
  • Taxpayers can use the worker classification page on IRS.gov to see how they are classified.
  • Independent contractors may be able to deduct business expenses, depending on tax limits and rules. It is important for taxpayers to keep records of their business expenses.

Pay the right amount of taxes throughout the year:

  • An employer typically withholds income taxes from their employees’ pay to help cover income taxes their employees owe.
  • Gig economy workers who are not considered employees have two ways to cover their income taxes:
    • Submit a new From W-4 to their employer to have more income taxes withheld from their paycheck, if they have another job as an employee.
    • Make quarterly estimated tax payments to help pay their income taxes throughout the year, including self-employment tax.

The Gig Economy Tax Center on IRS.gov answers questions and helps gig economy taxpayers understand their tax responsibilities.

More information:
Publication 5369, Gig Economy and your taxes: things to know
Publication 1779, Independent Contractor or Employee
Is My Residential Rental Income Taxable and/or Are My Expenses Deductible?

Share this tip on social media — #IRSTaxTip: Taxpayers must report gig economy earnings when filing taxes. https://go.usa.gov/xtY6Y

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