Posts Tagged ‘Internal Revenue Service’

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Representative Please!

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Education,Taxes on October 7, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

MH900056119TIGTA Audit Ensures Taxpayers’ Rights are Front and Center

Did you know IRS personnel are required to stop an interview if the taxpayer wants to consult with a representative and they also can’t bypass a representative without supervisory approval?

MH900251655If you didn’t know, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has your back. Each year TIGTA hones in on an IRS office that regularly interacts with taxpayers and their representatives. This time around they scrutinized the folks who work in the Office of Appeals to make sure they’re contacting taxpayer representatives during key actions. The results of that audit, the Fiscal Year 2013 Statutory Review of Restrictions on Directly Contacting Taxpayers, are in and…

 MH900442430..the Office of Appeals did so-so. In 11 of 96 sampled cases (out of 72,239 total cases closed by Appeals), Appeals personnel skipped major steps. They either tried to call the taxpayer directly or didn’t send copies of very important papers to the authorized representative. It’s possible that those who broke the rules just made honest mistakes – maybe they were in a hurry to get home for dinner – but the policies are in place for the taxpayer’s protection.

And, what’s more, the bigwigs in the Appeals office didn’t do their part to ensure that the workers were following procedure. Accordingly, TIGTA offered some stern advice: the Chief of Appeals should “provide additional guidance to first-line managers and Appeals personnel that will reinforce the importance of ensuring that taxpayer representatives are involved in all case activities.” In other words, put in work at the top of the line so all the proper paperwork gets done down the line.

MH900289960Of course the IRS agreed with TIGTA’s recommendation. The agency’s first move will be to update the Internal Revenue Manual and front-line managers will have homework to do to brush up on their responsibilities. If you want more reading material yourself, check out the full Statutory Review here: http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2013reports/201330080fr.html

Sufen Wang, M.S. Accountancy

Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793

Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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The Good Side of Taxes:

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Taxes on September 11, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

MH900407228Become a Tax Volunteer for VITA and TCE

Got some free time on your hands? Turn it into time well spent by becoming a tax volunteer for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE). These community-based programs provide free tax return preparation for people who need tax help but can’t afford it, such as seniors and people with disabilities.

No experience in preparing taxes – no problem. As a volunteer, you’ll get special training and can choose to work in a variety of roles. For example, if you’re bilingual (or beyond!) you could be a big help to people who don’t speak English.

MH900295311If you’re a veteran – and even if you’re not a veteran – being a VITA or TCE volunteer is one way you can help out military personnel and their families. They’re already occupied with risking their lives for the country, so let’s give them a hand with their tax preparation, okay?

In other words, it’s basically a win-win situation all around. Not only will you assist others, you’ll also learn a thing or two about taxes in the process. Yup, this is your chance to learn all the insider tips about deductions and credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly. How could you say no?

MH900200391Here’s another reason why you shouldn’t decline. Volunteer hours are flexible and minimal – about three to five hours per week. That’s like only thirty minutes a day! If only work could be so short and sweet…

Volunteering doesn’t sound too bad, does it? And getting there should be a breeze. Volunteer sites are located in neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations all over the U.S. Think about it: you could take a nice walk to the site, help out some folks with their taxes for an hour, and then head home for dinner glowing from knowing you did your good deed for the day.

And you’ll be making history. As a VITA or TCE volunteer, you’ll become part of a program that’s helped people file tax returns at no charge for more than forty years. “It’s people helping people.”

MH900056116Ready to sign-up? Volunteer programs are open from mid-January through the tax filing deadline (April 15, 2014). Right now you should head over to IRS.gov and type “tax volunteer” in the search box for more info. The final step is to submit Form 14310, VITA/TCE Volunteer Sign Up, by email through the IRS website. Then you’ll be on your way to making the world a better place.

Sufen Wang, M.S. Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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Internal Revenue Service Crisis Update:

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Taxes on June 26, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Daniel Werfel is IRS’ New Acting Commissioner

There’s a new sheriff in town, and he’s here to stay…only until the end of September. On May 22 Daniel Werfel, the White House Office of Management and Budget Controller, replaced Steven Miller as Acting Commissioner of the IRS.

His job: immediate crisis management regarding the agency’s improper scrutiny of conservative-leaning groups applying for tax-exempt status. Already he has replaced Lois Lerner, the director of Exempt Organizations, with Ken Corbin. And Werfel’s being kept under close watch by the big men on campus: President Obama and Treasury Secretary Lew want a progress report within 30 days.

The new Commissioner is supposed to 1) ensure that staff who acted inappropriately are held accountable, 2) examine and correct any failures in the system that allowed this behavior to happen, and 3) take a forward-looking, systemic view of the agency’s organization.

It’s too soon to tell how well Werfel is handling his role, but let’s hope he does a better job than Miller, so the IRS can start focusing on its day-to-day operations again. 

 

Sufen Wang, M.S. Accountancy,

Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793

Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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IRS Hasn’t Been Pennywise:

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture,Entertainment,Taxes on June 11, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , ,

MH900185740Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) Audit Identifies Excessive Spending at IRS Conference

The IRS might need to brush up on its coupon clipping skills after TIGTA’s recent audit of the agency’s spending at conferences from 2010 to 2012. Let’s just say that although every penny counts, the Internal Revenue Service hasn’t been counting every penny when it comes to planning out-of-office events.

TIGTA’s audit focused on a certain very expensive Small Business/Self-Employed (SB/SE) Division’s All Managers Conference in Anaheim, California in August 2010. Held at the Marriott, Hilton, and Sheraton hotels, this event was attended by 2,609 SB/SE Division executives and managers and reportedly cost $4.1 million – yikes! Because IRS management didn’t have to track and report actual conference costs at the time, there’s no way to double-check that number. It doesn’t matter though – TIGTA found plenty of splurging anyways.

MH900310838First of all, the IRS didn’t use available internal personnel to find the best deal in town. Instead, SB/SE management hired two non‑governmental event planners to choose a location for the conference. This non-IRS pair obviously wasn’t looking out for the IRS’ (and the taxpayer’s) pocket book, they were looking to get paid. And – what do you know – the event planners received an estimated $133,000 commission from the three hotels based on the cost of rooms paid for by the IRS.

MH900023026It’s safe to assume those planners didn’t do much hotel room bargain hunting online. Still, some bargaining did occur. They made sure to negotiate a bunch of concessions for the managers and executives at the conference. Attendees got daily continental breakfast. And a welcome reception with two drink coupons. And there were lots and lots of suite upgrades.

And that’s not all folks – TIGTA also found other very fishy expenses like“planning trips” held before the conference, the production of a Star Trek parody and “SB/SE Shuffle” video, a keynote speaker who painted portraits of Michael Jordan and Abraham Lincoln, an information corridor that raffled off baseball tickets, and various promotional gifts given to IRS employees.

Sure, brief bags and hard-covered spiral journals replete with imprinted logos are nice souvenirs to bring home, but they’re definitely not necessary costs. The IRS could have got a much lower lodging rate for the conference by using governmental event planners and eliminating those extra hotel amenities.

MH900363294Accordingly, TIGTA had more than a few budgeting tips for the IRS, which the IRS agreed to follow: verify that conference-costs and attendance are being tracked, use IRS personnel to plan future conferences, evaluate whether there should be hotel upgrades, ensure that taxable travel is identified and that Forms W-2 are issued to applicable employees, etc. Excessive Federal spending is a hot topic right now, so the IRS is going to have to start saving money if it wants to save face.

Sufen Wang, M.S. Accountancy

Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793

Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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Operation Double Dip….

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Taxes on May 21, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , ,

MH900239563IRS Agents Caught Dipping Into The Cookie Jar:  24 Employees Indicted for Tax Fraud

Some people just can’t keep their hands out of the cookie jar. And when that cookie jar is filled with taxpayer dollars, you know the culprits are going to get more than a mere slap on the wrist.

Twenty-four current and former IRS employees in Tennessee and Mississippi are about to find that out the hard way. They recently got caught red-handed defrauding the government of more than $250,000 in benefits and have been indicted for their crimes.

MH900150005Thirteen were milking their employee “benefits” for all they’re worth. They’re facing federal charges of making false statements to obtain unemployment insurance payments, food stamps, welfare, and housing vouchers. Basically, they said they didn’t have a job while applying for or re-certifying those government benefits – and then they clocked back in from their lunch break. Seriously though, these individuals are facing some serious time: if convicted, they could be eating prison food for the next five years.

Eleven other former and current IRS employees were charged with theft of property over $1,000. They probably thought it was like taking candy from a baby. Now their goose is cooked and they might be served with a class D felony.

U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III dug into these workers who decided to bite the hand that feeds: “According to the allegations in the indictment, while these IRS employees were supposed to be serving the public, they were instead brazenly stealing from law-abiding American taxpayers. These charges demonstrate our unwavering resolve to work with our law enforcement partners and hold accountable anyone who fraudulently obtains government benefits and violates the public’s trust.”

MH910217103These charges should be food for thought for anybody thinking they can get away with an extra-large slice of the pie. Remember, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Sufen Wang, M.S. Accountancy

Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793

Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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Determining Your Correct Filing Status

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture,Taxes on April 27, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

MH900151049Single, Married, or Head of Household?

Okay, seriously, now that the tax deadline, April 15, had passed, and tax extension had filed; you really need to start working on your returns!

What’s your status? No, not your Facebook status, your income tax return filing status. Filing status can impact the tax benefits you receive, the amount of your standard deduction, and the amount of taxes you pay. It can even – drum roll please – affect whether you have to file a federal income tax return.

MH900019119Classifying your relationship as “It’s Complicated” will only annoy the overworked IRS Agent. You must choose from five filing statuses on a federal tax return, with the three most common being “Single,” “Married Filing Jointly,” and “Head of Household.”

MH900237191Your marital status on the last day of the year is your marital status for the entire year. So even if you had a New Year’s Eve wedding, in tax return terms, you were married for all of 2012. A married couple can either file together using the Married Filing Jointly status, or separately, in which case each person’s filing status would be Married Filing Separately. Pretty self-explanatory.

If your spouse died during 2012, you usually can still file a joint return for that year. Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child status applies only ifyour spouse died during 2010 or 2011, you have a dependent child, and you meet certain other conditions.

MH900237195If you aren’t married, divorced, or legally separated, in general your filing status will be Single. However, you might be able to file as Head of Household, which has a higher standard deduction and lower tax rates than the Single filing status. To claim Head of Household, you can’t be married and you must have paid more than half the cost of maintaining a home for yourself and a qualifying person. Head of Household is the status most often claimed in error, so make sure you meet all of the requirements.

You can and should shop around for the best income tax deal. If more than one filing status fits you, choose the one that allows you to pay the lowest taxes. IRS e-file will help you determine the correct filing status, and you can also use the Interactive Tax Assistant at IRS.gov.

Sufen Wang, M.S. Accountancy

Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793

Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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Taxes are Due Monday April 15:

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Taxes on April 11, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

169849_taxYour Guide to Hassle-Free Filing

There’s less than a week to go before your taxes are due to Uncle Sam. If you haven’t submitted your return, you can start panicking right about now OR you can follow these easy steps to ensure submitting your return is as painless as possible. And if you’ve already submitted, it doesn’t hurt to keep these strategies in mind for next tax season.

MH900334322First, get together any documents you might need to file your taxes BEFORE you sit down to fill out your return. You don’t want to be running around like a headless chicken looking for this or that piece of paper. Instead, find receipts, cancelled checks, W-2 Forms, Wage and Tax Statements, and 1099 income statements, and place them all in one convenient location for easy reference.

Now that that’s done, figure out how you want to file. If your income was $57,000 or less, take advantage of the Free File service: Free File Tax Software will do all the tax preparation work for you online, and it doesn’t cost a cent. If you’re more of the DIY type, you can also e-file by using Free File Fillable Forms, which are an electronic version of IRS paper forms. In fact, regardless of income, anybody can use these Fillable Forms to file Form 1040 series tax returns for free.

internet-32340_640If you don’t use the Free File service, you can still e-file by buying commercial tax software, or through a paid tax preparer. Many tax preparers are now required by law to use e-file because it gets you your refund in half the time and it offers more payment options when you owe money. Even the IRS claims that “IRS e-file is the best way to file an accurate tax return.” And most people seem to agree, with more than 80% of taxpayers using IRS e-file last year. Of course, if you want to make things difficult, you can still file on paper…

However you decide to file, direct deposit is the fastest and safest way to get your refund. And combining it with e-file will get your money even faster. That being said, faster is not necessarily better when you’re actually filling out your return. Don’t rush and be sure to double-check everything before you submit: a mistake on something as simple as your social security number could get complicated when processing your return.

black-29972_640If you have any questions, the IRS has all the answers. Visit IRS.gov to browse its resources, such as the Interactive Tax Assistant tool, or check out Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax.

By the way, just in case you are NOT going to make the April tax deadline… Make sure you file a tax extension by April 15!!!!

Sufen Wang, M.S. Accountantcy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA  (562) 856-0793