When married taxpayers file “married filing jointly” taxpayers are
unable to amend to married filing separately. The “married filing jointly”
status results in both taxpayers jointly and individually responsible for the
tax and any interest or penalty due on the joint return even it they later
divorce. This is true even if a divorce decree states that a former spouse will
be responsible for any amounts due on previously filed joint returns. One
spouse may be held responsible for all the tax due even if all the income was
earned by the other spouse.
The IRS “Innocent Spouse Relief” may relieve a spouse of the tax, interest, and
penalties on a joint tax return. There are three types of relief available
(defined in the Internal Revenue Code 6015). Part II will discuss the three
types of relief.
Married persons who file separate returns in community property states may also
qualify for relief.
(IRS.gov – Introduction to Innocent Spouses) (TTT 12/12/17)
IRS mails millions of letters to taxpayers every year for many reasons. Here
are a few suggestions on how you can handle a letter or notice from the IRS:
Simply responding will take care of most IRS letters and notices.
the entire letter carefully. Most letters deal with a specific issue and provide
specific instructions on what to do.
it with the tax return. If
a letter indicates a changed or corrected tax return, taxpayer should review
the information and compare it with their original return.
reply if necessary. There
is usually no need to reply to a letter unless specifically instructed to do
so, or to make a payment.
should respond to a letter with which they do not agree. They should mail a
letter explaining why they disagree. They should mail their response to the
address listed at the bottom of the letter. The taxpayer should include
information and documents for the IRS to consider. The taxpayer should allow at
least 30 days for a response.
When a specific date is listed in the letter, there are two main reasons
taxpayers should respond by that date.
minimize additional interest and penalty charges.
preserve appeal rights if the taxpayer doesn’t agree.
most letters, there is no need to call the IRS or make an appointment at a
taxpayer assistance center. If a call seems necessary, the taxpayer can use the
phone number in the upper right-hand corner of the letter. They should have a
copy of the tax return and letter on hand when calling.
A taxpayer should keep copies of any IRS letters or notices received with their
(IRS 2017ARD 225-1) (TTT 11/28/17)
this week, the IRS is focusing on key steps people can follow to protect their
personal data safe.
Be vigilant with personal information. While taxpayers are shopping for gifts,
criminals are shopping for sensitive data including credit cards, financial
accounts, and Social Security numbers. Taxpayers should use strong, unique
passwords for each online account and avoid routinely carrying a Social
Security card. Avoid unsecured Wi-Fi in public locations while holiday
phishing emails by data thieves. Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening
phone calls, and texts from thieves. People should never click on links or
download attachments from unknown or suspicious email addresses. Remember that
the IRS doesn't initiate spontaneous contact with taxpayers by email or phone
to request personal or financial information.
steps to protect data after a breach. There are specific things that data theft victims can do
after a criminal steals their information. This includes using credit
monitoring services, putting a freeze on accounts and resetting passwords.
the W-2 scam.
Employers can take steps to protect their employees’ data from the growing W-2
email scam. Employers and payroll offices should educate employees about how to
recognize an email from a thief who wants to gain access to sensitive employee
data so they do not respond to these scam emails.
of scams against employers.
Just like individuals, businesses may have their identities stolen. Small
businesses and large businesses alike should protect their employer
identification numbers. For 2018, the IRS is also asking that employers provide
additional information to help verify the legitimacy of their tax return. Such
information includes filing history, payment history and parent company
information. In the case of a sole proprietorship, the IRS might ask for a
driver’s license number.
2017ARD 227-4) (TTT 11/28/17)
need to be aware of
Scammers pretending to be from the IRS. The most
common scams are phone calls and fake emails. They use the IRS name, log or a
fake website to try and steal money from taxpayers.
The IRS will NOT:
to demand immediate payment using specific payment method such as a prepaid
debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS first mails a bill
to taxpayers who owe taxes. If the IRS assigns a case to a Private Debt
collector (PCA), both the IRS and the authorized collection agency send a
letter to the taxpayer. Payment is always to the United States Treasury.
immediately to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have
the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
payment of taxes without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or
appeal the amount owed.
for credit or debit card numbers over the phone
For taxpayers who get a ‘phishing’ email, the IRS offers this advice
not reply to the message.
not give out personal or financial information.
the email to firstname.lastname@example.org Then
not open any attachments or click on any links. They may have malicious code
that will infect your computer.
(IRS 2107ARD 158-1) (TTT 11/21/17)
How a Lien Affects You -
(1) A lien attaches to all of your assets
(such as property, securities, vehicles) and to future
assets acquired during the duration of the lien. (2) Once the IRS files a
Notice of Federal Tax Lien, it may limit your ability to get credit
. (3) The lien
attaches to all business
property and to all rights to business property,
including accounts receivable. (4) If you file for bankruptcy
, your tax debt,
lien, and Notice of Federal Tax Lien may continue after bankruptcy.
Avoid a Lien – You can avoid a federal tax lien by simply
filing and paying all your taxes in full and on time. If you cannot file or pay
on time, do not ignore the letters or correspondence you get from the IRS. If
you cannot pay the full amount you owe, payment options (/payments) are
available to help you settle your tax debt over time.
Lien vs. Levy – A lien is not a levy. A lien secures the
government’s interest in your property when you do not pay your tax debt. A
levy (businesses/small businesses – self-employed/levy) actually takes the
property to pay the tax debt. If you do not pay or make arrangements to settle
your tax debt, the IRS can levy, seize and sell any type of real or personal
property that you own or have an interest in. (IRS Web Site) (TTT 11/14/17)