Serve As Executor of an Estate

Serve As Executor of an Estate

You’ve Been Appointed as an Executor of an Estate? Do You Know What Your Duties Are?

I can’t foresee anyone really wanting to be the executor of an estate of a deceased person. It usually is not the type of work that a dis-organized individual should undertake. It helps if you are a detailed and well organized individual.

The term “executor” and “personal representative” are often used inter-changeably. The bottom line is that this individual has a legal responsibility to protect all of the assets of the estate until the probate process (if required), is completed and all assets are distributed.

You have no obligation to serve as an executor of an estate. If you feel that you don’t have the time for it, or you simply have no desire to deal with certain beneficiaries, then you can decline. If the will provided for a backup executor, then that individual can serve. If not, a probate judge will appoint someone.

If you decide to serve, setting up a detailed View full post…

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Credit Bureaus Can Violate Privacy

Credit Bureaus Can Violate Privacy

It’s not just the 3 big credit bureaus that know everything about you

NATALIE CAMPISI

September 29, 2017

If it wasn’t before, Equifax now certainly is a household name.

Since the big Equifax data breach, many consumers have engaged — perhaps for the first time — with each of the three major U.S. credit bureaus, scrambling to secure their identities after hackers stole the personal information of 143 million Americans.

But these are not the only consumer reporting agencies that possess sensitive consumer information. And they’re not the only places you should look to lock down your personal information.

Much like Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, some of the smaller credit agencies will allow you to freeze your credit files, including ChexSystems, Innovis, Clarity Services and CoreLogic. None of these firms will charge you to place a security freeze on your file.

What’s on file

Just like the big View full post…

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IRS Tax Information for Veterans

IRS Tax Information for Veterans

IRS Provides Free Tax Information for Veterans

The Internal Revenue Service is committed to providing assistance to all Veterans. We work with community and government partners to provide timely federal tax information for Veterans about tax credits and benefits, free tax preparation, financial education and asset-building opportunities available to Veterans.

Our Approach
The Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication (SPEC) office within the Wage & Investment Division has built a network of national and local partners. Organizations include corporate, faith-based, nonprofit, educational, financial and government. With so many tax benefits available today, taxes can serve as the starting point for a dream leading to stronger financial security for many people.

Partnership with VA
IRS and US Department of Veterans Affairs entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in 2015. The primary focus of the MOU is to provide free tax preparation services to Veterans and their families.

Partnering organizations prepare tax returns free for those whose incomes are low to moderate. Also check out the partner Outreach Corner for links to newsletter articles, podcasts, widgets and other electronic products to help reach out to customers with timely tax news they may need. If you represent a Veteran organization that assists other Veterans, why not look further to see how you can become involved? You can start by providing free tax information for veterans.

Contact Information
If you are interested in partnering opportunities in your area, send an email to partner@irs.gov, and let us help you get started making an impact in your community today! Providing free tax information for veterans can help in a big way.

Free Tax Preparation Services
Each year, millions of people have their taxes prepared for free by IRS certified volunteers. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs have helped people for more than 40 years.

Here are some tips about VITA and TCE:

Trained and Certified. The IRS works with local community groups to train and certify VITA and TCE volunteers.
VITA Program. For the most part, VITA offers free tax return preparation to people who earn $66,000 or less in 2020.
TCE Program. TCE is mainly for people age 60 or older. The program focuses on tax issues unique to seniors. AARP participates in the TCE program through AARP Tax-Aide.
Free E-file. VITA and TCE provide free electronic filing. E-filing is the safest, most accurate way to file your tax return. If you combine e-file with direct deposit, you can get your refund faster.

IRS Free File
Whether you draw a paycheck, are self-employed or own a small business, you can use all available tax forms you need for free with IRS Free File. If you make $72,000 or less (in 2020), you qualify for free brand-name software offered through a partnership between the IRS and leading tax software providers. Some of these providers offer free federal and free state return preparation and electronic filing. If you made more than $72,000, you can use Free File Fillable Forms, electronic versions of IRS paper forms best for someone experienced in return preparation.

Earned Income Tax Credit
Many Veterans are eligible for various tax credits including the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable federal income tax credit for low- to moderate-income, working individuals and families. To qualify, you must meet certain requirements and file a tax return, even if you do not owe any tax or are not required to file. You’ll find this and more in our free tax information for veterans.

Financial Education and Asset Building
Our partners recognize that financial education and asset building starts with ensuring individuals and families receive all the benefits to which they are entitled. These include the Earned Income Tax Credit and other tax credits, nutrition assistance, health insurance, heating/cooling allowance support and other national and local benefit programs. Many SPEC partners have incorporated financial education and asset building programs and services such as income support, debt and credit counseling, financial education training, banking education, home ownership and small business management into their free tax information for veterans.

Special Tax Considerations
Veterans may be eligible to claim a federal tax refund based on:

An increase in the Veteran’s percentage of disability from the Department of Veterans Affairs (which may include a retroactive determination) or
The combat-disabled Veteran applying for, and being granted, Combat-Related Special Compensation, after an award for Concurrent Retirement and Disability.

Special tax considerations for disabled Veterans occasionally result in a need for amended returns.

VA Disability Benefits
Do not include disability benefits you receive from the VA in your gross income. In particular some of the payments which are considered disability benefits include:

Disability compensation and pension payments for disabilities paid either to Veterans or their families,
Grants for homes designed for wheelchair living,
Grants for motor vehicles for Veterans who lost their sight or the use of their limbs, or
Benefits under a dependent-care assistance program.

VA e-Benefits
VA has created an eBenefits portal where you can apply for many of these benefits online. Veterans can apply for Veterans’ Benefits Online (VONAPP), access VA Payment History, apply for VA Home Loan Certificate of Eligibility, check on Compensation & Pension Status, and more. Family members (spouses and dependents [ages 18+]) of Service members and Veterans may register for a Basic (Level 1) DS Logon to access eBenefits. View TRICARE benefits, explore eLearning opportunities, and request information from State VA offices online.

The VA publishes an annual benefits booklet, a comprehensive guide for Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors.

If you are a military retiree and receive your disability benefits from the VA, see IRS Publication 525 for more information .

Homeless Veterans
Veterans experience high rates of unemployment, poverty, and homelessness. The VA and other organizations work together through neighborhood stand-downs to help Veterans who are homeless. This collaborative effort provides a variety of services such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, and benefits counseling.

Veteran Legal Services
Research shows that Veterans have a significant and too often unmet need for legal services. Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless rank legal needs (e.g., regarding eviction or foreclosure proceedings, child support issues and outstanding warrants or fines) as some of their highest unmet needs. The website www.statesidelegal.org has:

Legal information on various topics of interest to Veterans and
A search engine that allows Veterans to find free legal help in their geographic area.

Federal Employment
If you are a Veteran and have a disability per the VA, you may qualify for internships or you could be hired non-competitively for any federal position for which you qualify. The IRS Veterans Employment Program Office is designed to provide quality training and work experience to wounded warriors and Veterans by offering various non-paid internship opportunities within the IRS as well as help Veterans who qualify for one or more of the three special hiring authorities to become gainfully employed within the IRS.

Do you need alternate formats for IRS forms and publications?
The IRS is committed to making every document on its Web site accessible to everyone, including Veterans and individuals with disabilities. If you need help accessing these products, please visit our Accessible IRS Tax Products page. See also other forms and publications for people with disabilities.

Active Duty Military
This page is intended for Veterans. If you are looking for information for service members on active duty, please visit the IRS Military Web page. We continue to provide free tax information for veterans.

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Don’t Take the Bait – Watch Out for the W-2 E-mail Scam

Don’t Take the Bait – Watch Out for the W-2 E-mail Scam

Don’t fall for the W-2 e-mail scam

The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry today urged tax professionals and businesses to beware of a recent increase in the W-2 e-mail scam targeting employee Forms W-2.

The W-2 e-mail scam – called a business email compromise or BEC – is one of the most dangerous phishing email schemes trending nationwide from a tax administration perspective. The IRS saw a sharp increase in the number of incidents and victims during the 2017 filing season.

Increasing awareness about business email compromises is part of the “Don’t Take the Bait” campaign, a 10-part series aimed at tax professionals. The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry, working together as the Security Summit, urge practitioners to learn to protect themselves and their clients from BEC scams. This is part of the ongoing Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself effort.

A business email compromise occurs when a cyber-criminal is able to “spoof” or impersonate a company or organization executive’s email address and target a payroll, financial or human resources employee with a request. For example, fraudsters will try to trick an employee to transfer funds into a specified account or request a list of all employees and their Forms W-2.

“These are incredibly tricky schemes that can be devastating to a tax professional or business,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Cyber-criminals target people with access to sensitive information, and they cleverly disguise their effort through an official-looking email request.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported earlier this year that there has been a 1,300 percent increase in identified losses – with more than $3 billion in wire transfers – since January 2015. The FBI found that the culprits behind these scams are national and international organized crime groups who have targeted businesses and organizations in all 50 states and 100 countries worldwide.

During the 2016 filing season, the IRS first warned businesses that the W-2 e-mail scam had migrated to tax administration and scammers were using business email compromise tactics to obtain employees’ Forms W-2. The criminals were immediately filing fraudulent tax returns that could mirror the actual income received by employees – making the fraud more difficult to detect.

In 2017, the IRS saw the number of businesses, public schools, universities, tribal governments and nonprofits victimized by the W-2 e-mail scam increase to 200 from 50 in 2016. Those 200 victims translated into several hundred thousand employees whose sensitive data was stolen. In some cases, the criminals requested both the W-2 information and a wire transfer.

The Form W-2 contains the employee’s name, address, Social Security number, income and withholdings. That information was used to file fraudulent tax returns, and it can be posted for sale on the Dark Net, where criminals also seek to profit from these thefts.

If the business or organization victimized by these attacks notifies the IRS, the IRS can take steps to help prevent employees from being victims of tax-related identity theft. However, because of the nature of these scams, many businesses and organizations did not realize for days, weeks or months that they had been scammed.

The IRS established a special email notification address specifically for businesses and organizations to report W-2 thefts: dataloss@irs.gov. Be sure to include “W-2 scam” in the subject line and information about a point of contact in the body of the email. Businesses and organizations that receive a suspect email but do not fall victim to the scam can forward it to the BEC to phishing@irs.gov, again with “W-2 scam” in the subject line.

Protecting Clients and Businesses from BECs

The IRS urges tax professionals to both beware of business email compromises as a threat to their own systems and to educate their clients about the existence of BEC scams. Employers, including tax practitioners, should review their policies for sending sensitive data such as W-2s or making wire transfers based solely on an email request.

Tax professionals should consider taking these steps:

  • Confirm requests for Forms W-2, wire transfers or any sensitive data exchanges verbally, using previously-known telephone numbers, not telephone numbers listed in the email.Verify requests for location changes in vendor payments and require a secondary sign-off by company personnel.
  • Educate employees about this scam, particularly those with access to sensitive data such as W-2s or with authorization to make wire transfers.

Consult with an IT professional and follow these FBI recommended safeguards:

  • Create intrusion detection system rules that flag e-mails with extensions that are similar to company email. For example, legitimate e-mail of abc_company.com would flag fraudulent email of abc-company.com.
  • Create an email rule to flag email communications where the “reply” email address is different from the “from” email address shown.
  • Color code virtual correspondence so emails from employee/internal accounts are one color and emails from non-employee/external accounts are another.
    If a BEC, W-2 e-mail scam, incident occurs, notify the IRS. File a complaint with the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3.)
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Taxpayers Should Review Your Tax Withholding Mid-Year

Taxpayers Should Review Your Tax Withholding Mid-Year

Avoid Having Too Much or Too Little Federal Income Tax Withheld if You Review Your Tax Withholding

The Internal Revenue Service today encouraged taxpayers to consider that they review your tax withholding, keeping in mind several factors that could affect potential refunds or taxes they may owe in 2018.

Reviewing the amount of taxes withheld can help taxpayers avoid having too much or too little federal income tax taken from their paychecks. Having the correct amount taken out helps to move taxpayers closer to a zero balance at the end of the year when they file their tax return, which means no taxes owed or refund due.

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Summer Newlyweds Should Also Think About Taxes

Summer Newlyweds Should Also Think About TaxesSpring showers bring summer flowers and weddings typically aren’t far behind. Newlyweds have a lot to think about and taxes might not be on the list. However, there is good reason for a new couple to consider how the nuptials may affect their tax situation.

The IRS has some tips to help in the planning:

Report changes in:
* Name. When a name changes through marriage, it is important to report that change to the Social Security Administration. The name on a person’s tax return must match what is on file at SSA. If it doesn’t, View full post…

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How long should I keep business records & receipts?

How long should I keep business records & receipts?The following is a guideline of how long you should keep various types of tax and business records. We believe that most documents are listed, but they are not all inclusive.

Federal law requires you to maintain copies of your tax returns and supporting documents for three years. This is called the “three-year law” and leads many people to believe they’re safe provided they retain their documents for this period of time.

However, if the IRS believes you have significantly under-reported your income (by 25 percent or more), or believes there may be indication of fraud, it may go back six years or more in an audit. To be safe, View full post…

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