IRS Employee Took Home Data on 20,000 Workers at Tax Agency

An Internal Revenue Service employee took home a computer thumb drive containing unencrypted data on 20,000 fellow workers, the agency said in a statement.

The tax agency’s systems that hold personal data on hundreds of millions of Americans weren’t breached, the statement said Tuesday.

“This incident is a powerful reminder to all of us that we must do everything we can to protect sensitive data—whether it involves our fellow employees or taxpayers,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a message to employees. “This was not a problem with our network or systems, but rather an isolated incident.”

The IRS is contacting the current and former employees involved, almost all of whom worked in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. The information dates to 2007, before the IRS started using automatic encryption.

IRS officials were told of the breach “a few days ago,” Koskinen’s message said.

The Social Security numbers, names and addresses of employees and contract workers were potentially accessible online because the thumb drive was plugged into the employee’s “unsecure home network,” Koskinen’s message said.

The IRS said it had no knowledge of the information being used to commit identity theft.

Inspector General
The IRS said it’s working with its inspector general to investigate the incident. The IRS statement didn’t say why the incident was discovered now, didn’t include the name of the employee who used the thumb drive and didn’t say whether the employee still works at the IRS.

David Barnes, a spokesman for the inspector general’s office, declined to comment.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, said in a statement that the IRS in the past has released taxpayer information to the public and “has not been able to effectively prevent and detect identity theft.” He said the committee will look into the incident.

The IRS’s data breach is much narrower in scope than the security incident at Target Corp., where hackers stole credit- card information used by millions of shoppers.

It comes during a trying year for the tax agency, which has been under congressional investigation for its spending at conferences and its scrutiny of small-government groups.

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IRS Criminal Prosecutions Climbed 23% under Obama

The number of criminal prosecutions referred by the Internal Revenue Service to the Justice Department has increased 23.4 percent during the Obama administration.

Prosecutions in fiscal year 2013 alone jumped 30.6 percent from the previous year, according to a new report by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

Convictions for tax crimes under the Obama administration are also drawing slightly longer average prison terms, 27 months under Obama, compared to 25 months during the George W. Bush administration, according to information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys.

Among U.S. federal judicial districts, Alaska registered the highest per capita rate of IRS prosecutions, 53 per million people, compared with 6.4 prosecutions per million nationally. Next in line was the Middle District of Alabama (Montgomery), with 30 per million, followed by the District of Columbia with 27 per million.

Court Rules in Favor of IRS on Obamacare Tax Credits

A federal district court judge has ruled in favor of the federal government in a lawsuit that claimed the Internal Revenue Service did not have the authority under the Affordable Care Act to write rules providing tax credits to individuals purchasing health insurance on the health insurance exchange set up by the federal government.

The IRS issued a final rule in May 2012 implementing the premium tax credit provision of the Affordable Care Act, in which it interpreted the ACA as authorizing the agency to grant tax credits to individuals who purchase insurance on either a state-run health insurance exchange or a federal exchange such as the one that has been available on the problem-prone HealthCare.gov site for people in states that have not set up state exchanges.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, who include the conservative advocacy organization, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, contended that the IRS’s interpretation was contrary to the statute, which, they asserted, authorizes tax credits only for individuals who purchase insurance on state-run exchanges, but not on federal exchanges. The plaintiffs in the case, known as Jacqueline Halbig, et al v. Kathleen Sebelius, et al, claimed that the rule promulgated by the IRS exceeded the agency’s statutory authority and was arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia heard oral arguments in the case last month and a judge on the court tossed out the lawsuit Wednesday, agreeing with the federal government that the law made clear that the tax credits should be available on both state-run and federally run health insurance exchanges.

“In sum, the Court finds that the plain text of the statute, the statutory structure, and the statutory purpose make clear that Congress intended to make premium tax credits available on both state-run and federally-facilitated exchanges,” wrote U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman. “What little relevant legislative history exists further supports this conclusion and certainly—despite plaintiffs’ best efforts to suggest otherwise—it does not undermine it.”

Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said he planned to appeal the judge’s ruling.

“The court’s ruling today delivers a major blow to the states that chose not to participate in the Obamacare insurance exchange program,” Kazman said in a statement Wednesday. “It is also a blow to the small businesses, employees and individuals who live in those states as well. In upholding this IRS regulation that is contrary to the law enacted by Congress, this decision guts the choice made by a majority of the states to stay out of the exchange program. It imposes Obamacare penalties on employers and on many individuals in those states, penalties that Congress never authorized, putting their livelihoods and the jobs of their employees at risk. Worst of all, it gives a stamp of approval to the Administration’s attempt to substitute its version of Obamacare for the law that Congress enacted.”

IRS Offers Tips for Year-End Giving

Individuals and businesses making contributions to charity should keep in mind several important tax law provisions that have taken effect in recent years. Some of these changes include the following:

Special Tax-Free Charitable Distributions for Certain IRA Owners
This provision, currently scheduled to expire at the end of 2013, offers older owners of individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) a different way to give to charity. An IRA owner, age 70½ or over, can directly transfer tax-free up to $100,000 per year to an eligible charity. This option, first available in 2006, can be used for distributions from IRAs, regardless of whether the owners itemize their deductions. Distributions from employer-sponsored retirement plans, including SIMPLE IRAs and simplified employee pension (SEP) plans, are not eligible.
To qualify, the funds must be transferred directly by the IRA trustee to the eligible charity. Distributed amounts may be excluded from the IRA owner’s income – resulting in lower taxable income for the IRA owner. However, if the IRA owner excludes the distribution from income, no deduction, such as a charitable contribution deduction on Schedule A, may be taken for the distributed amount.
Not all charities are eligible. For example, donor-advised funds and supporting organizations are not eligible recipients.
Amounts transferred to a charity from an IRA are counted in determining whether the owner has met the IRA’s required minimum distribution. Where individuals have made nondeductible contributions to their traditional IRAs, a special rule treats amounts distributed to charities as coming first from taxable funds, instead of proportionately from taxable and nontaxable funds, as would be the case with regular distributions. See Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), for more information on qualified charitable distributions.
Rules for Charitable Contributions of Clothing and Household Items
To be tax-deductible, clothing and household items donated to charity generally must be in good used condition or better. A clothing or household item for which a taxpayer claims a deduction of over $500 does not have to meet this standard if the taxpayer includes a qualified appraisal of the item with the return.
Donors must get a written acknowledgement from the charity for all gifts worth $250 or more that includes, among other things, a description of the items contributed. Household items include furniture, furnishings, electronics, appliances and linens.
Guidelines for Monetary Donations
To deduct any charitable donation of money, regardless of amount, a taxpayer must have a bank record or a written communication from the charity showing the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Bank records include canceled checks, bank or credit union statements, and credit card statements. Bank or credit union statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the amount paid. Credit card statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the transaction posting date.
Donations of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card and payroll deduction. For payroll deductions, the taxpayer should retain a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other document furnished by the employer showing the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity.
These requirements for the deduction of monetary donations do not change the long-standing requirement that a taxpayer obtain an acknowledgment from a charity for each deductible donation (either money or property) of $250 or more. However, one statement containing all of the required information may meet both requirements.
Reminders
To help taxpayers plan their holiday-season and year-end giving, the IRS offers the following additional reminders:
  • Contributions are deductible in the year made. Thus, donations charged to a credit card before the end of 2013 count for 2013. This is true even if the credit card bill isn’t paid until 2014. Also, checks count for 2013 as long as they are mailed in 2013.
  • Check that the organization is eligible. Only donations to eligible organizations are tax-deductible. Exempt Organization Select Check, a searchable online database available on IRS.gov, lists most organizations that are eligible to receive deductible contributions. In addition, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies are eligible to receive deductible donations, even if they are not listed in the database.
  • For individuals, only taxpayers who itemize their deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A can claim deductions for charitable contributions. This deduction is not available to individuals who choose the standard deduction, including anyone who files a short form (Form 1040A or 1040EZ). A taxpayer will have a tax savings only if the total itemized deductions (mortgage interest, charitable contributions, state and local taxes, etc.) exceed the standard deduction. Use the 2013 Form 1040 Schedule A to determine whether itemizing is better than claiming the standard deduction.
  • For all donations of property, including clothing and household items, get from the charity, if possible, a receipt that includes the name of the charity, date of the contribution, and a reasonably-detailed description of the donated property. If a donation is left at a charity’s unattended drop site, keep a written record of the donation that includes this information, as well as the fair market value of the property at the time of the donation and the method used to determine that value. Additional rules apply for a contribution of $250 or more.
  • The deduction for a car, boat or airplane donated to charity is usually limited to the gross proceeds from its sale. This rule applies if the claimed value is more than $500. Form 1098-C or a similar statement, must be provided to the donor by the organization and attached to the donor’s tax return.
  • If the amount of a taxpayer’s deduction for all noncash contributions is over $500, a properly-completed Form 8283 must be submitted with the tax return.
  • And, as always it’s important to keep good records and receipts.

IRS Contends with Billions Lost to Stolen EINs

The Internal Revenue Service is losing billions of dollars to fraudsters every year from stolen Employer Identification Numbers, according to a new government report, even though it has some processes in place to authenticate individuals who apply for an EIN.

The report, released publicly Thursday by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, found the IRS needs to do more to prevent fraud from the use of stolen EINs.

The IRS issues EINs to identify taxpayers’ business accounts. Individuals who try to commit tax refund fraud oftentimes steal or falsely obtain an EIN to file tax returns that report false income and withholding. TIGTA estimated that such fraud could top $11.4 billion in potentially fraudulent refunds over a five-year period.

The overall objective of TIGTA’s review was to assess the IRS’s processes for issuing EINs and identifying stolen or falsely obtained EINs for reporting income and withholding. TIGTA acknowledged that the IRS has developed processes to both authenticate individuals applying for an EIN and ensure that there is a valid business reason to obtain an EIN.

However, TIGTA identified 767,071 electronically filed individual tax returns in tax year 2011 with refunds based on falsely reported income and withholding. Of the 285,670 EINs used on these tax returns, 277,624 were stolen EINs used to report false income and withholding on 752,656 tax returns with potentially fraudulent refunds issued totaling more than $2.2 billion, while 8,046 were falsely obtained EINs used to report false income and withholding on 14,415 tax returns with potentially fraudulent refunds issued totaling more than $50 million.

The IRS has processes to prevent fraudulent refunds claimed using stolen and falsely obtained EINs, but it does not have the third-party Form W-2 information that it needs to make significant improvements in its detection efforts. Nevertheless, the IRS does maintain data that could increase its ability to detect tax returns with false income and withholding associated with stolen or falsely obtained EINs, TIGTA noted.

“With an estimated tax gap in excess of $450 billion, it is imperative that the IRS use all available data to increase its ability to detect tax returns with false income and withholding associated with stolen or falsely obtained EINs,” said TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George in a statement.

In response to the report, the IRS said it takes refund fraud and identity theft very seriously. “The IRS continues to increase its efforts against refund fraud, which includes identity theft,” the IRS said in a statement. “As a result of these aggressive efforts to combat identity theft since 2011, the IRS has stopped 12.6 million suspicious returns, and protected over $40 billion in fraudulent refunds. The IRS appreciates TIGTA’s recognition of the effective processes we have developed to identify and prevent the fraudulent use of Employer Identification Numbers (EIN). The creation of the Business Master File Identity Theft Team is a substantial step forward in identifying threats associated with the misuse of EINs and developing effective mitigation strategies. We are taking additional steps for the coming filing season, including preparing a new Return Review Program for 2014 that will incorporate EIN validation into our fraud detection process.”

TIGTA recommended that the IRS update its fraud filters to identify potentially fraudulent tax returns and develop processes to identify individuals who submit tax returns that report income and withholding using the EIN of a closed business. IRS officials agreed with TIGTA’s recommendations and plan to update the fraud filters.

Peggy Bogadi, commissioner of the IRS’s Wage and Investment Division, pointed to the steps the IRS has already taken to combat identity theft and tax return fraud, including the creation of the Business Master File Identity Theft Team and the Return Review Program. She pointed out, however, that the IRS is facing a number of challenges, including the potential delays in processing tax returns. That is what happened last year when the IRS tightened the identity theft filters and millions of taxpayers were left waiting months for their tax refunds from tax year 2011.

“Using the business tax return filing and withholding information will be helpful in identifying potentially fraudulent refund claims by individuals using false wage and withholding information; however, there is a risk of delaying the processing of legitimate tax returns filed by individuals whose employers are not compliant with their tax and/or information filing obligations,” Bogadi wrote in response to the report. “Our sample review of the potentially fraudulent tax returns, identified by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, found situations where the employers had remitted payroll tax deposits but were delinquent in filing employment tax returns. We also noted instances where wage and withholding information from the employer was present for prior and/or subsequent periods that, in our experience, indicate either data anomalies or non-compliance with filing requirements. In these situations, non-compliance by employers does not equate to refund fraud by employees. With filings of individual income tax returns exceeding 140 million annually, we must ensure that corrective actions do not have the unintended result of flagging legitimate returns as being potentially fraudulent.”

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IRS Sent Erroneous Penalty Notices

 

The Internal Revenue Service has admitted to mistakenly assessing penalties on businesses that had requested extensions on filing the Form 5500 for their employee retirement plans.

The IRS is telling its help center representatives to apologize remove the penalties when they are contacted about the error, acknowledging a timing problem in posting the extension requests, according to a directive obtained by the site BenefitsPro.

“Form 5500 filers that file their return before their extension Form 5558 has had a chance to post are receiving CP 283s assessing them a late filing penalty,” said the IRS. “Proposed changes to the penalty program would allow time for extensions to post before penalty notices are generated. However, until these changes can be implemented, tax examiners and telephone assistors should abate these penalties as Service Errors.

The IRS telephone assistance representatives and tax examiners are also supposed to prepare a Letter 168C explaining that the penalty has been removed due to a “Service Error.”

“If the caller is an administrator or sponsor with multiple plans/clients, you may abate up to five penalties for the caller,” said the IRS. Benefit plan administrators who get more than five penalty notices from the IRS need to put their requests for abatement in writing and send them to the IRS.

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IRS Plans to Step up Audits of Small Business Partnerships

The head of the Internal Revenue Service’s small business unit said his division expects to move from focusing on audits of small corporations to partnerships.

During a speech at the American Institute of CPAs’ National Tax Conference in Washington, D.C., last week, Faris Fink, the commissioner in charge of the IRS’s Small Business/Self-Employed Division reportedly told attendees that his unit would make a top priority of auditing the tax returns of partnerships and other pass-through entities. “The Service has for a long time focused its energy on corporations,” he said, according to Bloomberg’s Lydia Beyoud. “Frankly, we’re a little bit behind the curve in getting around to developing a partnership strategy.”

Part of that strategy will involve training agents at the IRS to look more closely at S corporations, partnerships and other pass-through entities, which now make up 95 percent of all U.S. businesses, according to figures from the IRS.

“Frankly, our training was not geared for dealing with those types of large, complex partnerships,” he said. “Historically, we would think of a partnership as having, say, 10 partners” with a limited number of tiers.

However, the IRS is now encountering partnership returns listing 82,000 partners and 182 tiers. Fink indicated that the IRS plans to step up its scrutiny of such returns in the future.

“We as an organization have recognized that this is something that we’ve got to be paying attention to, not just this year, but going forward,” he said.

The IRS announced earlier this month that it is expanding its Fast Track Settlement program for small businesses, which helps them settle their back taxes with the IRS more quickly

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IRS Succeeding with International Tax Compliance Efforts

A unit set up by the Internal Revenue Service to improve international tax compliance by individuals is paying off, according to a new government report, enabling IRS auditors to assess an additional $36 million in taxes for fiscal years 2011 to 2013.

The report, from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, found that the International Campus Compliance Unit, or CCU, appears to be working. The IRS set up the unit as part of its strategic plan to address international tax compliance. Other facets of the effort have also led to agreements with Swiss banks to turn over lists of customers, along with offshore voluntary disclosure initiatives that allow taxpayers with foreign bank accounts to come forward voluntarily.

The IRS expects the CCU to enhance efforts to expand audit coverage of tax returns with international aspects and to increase compliance among international individual taxpayers.

For its report on the CCU, TIGTA reviewed the IRS’s efforts to establish the CCU to determine whether the benefits envisioned in improving international individual tax compliance are being achieved. TIGTA found that the IRS successfully planned the CCU and followed general government guidelines and steps for implementing a new business process during the planning. The IRS is still developing inventory selection criteria for the CCU. However, for fiscal years 2011 through 2013 (through March 13, 2013), the CCU conducted almost 18,000 audits and assessed approximately $36 million in additional tax.

“This program appears to be a step in the right direction,” said TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George in a statement. “As globalization expands, so do concerns about the international tax gap—that is, taxes owed but not collected on time from a U.S. person or foreign person whose cross-border transactions are subject to U.S. taxation.”

George noted that more needs to be done, adding that despite the CCU’s early accomplishments, it does not have specific performance measures for its operations. “Ideally, an agency should have measures for all its major processes to track costs, quality and timeliness,” he said.

TIGTA recommended that the IRS enhance the performance measures for the CCU to more specifically reflect the work performed by CCU examiners. The IRS agreed with this recommendation and plans to evaluate the current performance measures and CCU inventory results to determine how to enhance the performance measures specific to work performed by CCU examiners. The IRS also plans to use these performance measures to establish effective performance goals and measure the CCU’s success in achieving them.

The IRS is also taking steps to ramp up its international tax compliance efforts for corporations after reorganizing the unit responsible for conducting such audits. “As you report indicates, the IRS continues to realign and expand its international efforts under the Large Business and International (LB&I) Division,” wrote Paul D. DeNard, acting commissioner of the LB&I Division, in response to the report. “We expect that these efforts will improve international tax compliance by focusing on high-risk international issues and examination cases in a consistent and efficient way.”

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IRS Changes Pension Plan Limitations for 2014

IRS Changes Pension Plan Limitations for 2014

The Internal Revenue Service released the annual cost-of-living adjustments Thursday affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2014, allowing taxpayers to contribute up to $17,500 to their 401(k) plans in 2014.

In addition, the IRS announced Thursday that it is modifying the “use or lose” rule for health care flexible spending arrangements, permitting a carryover of up to $500 to provide greater flexibility to plan participants . The agency also issued the annual inflation-adjusted tax rate schedules and other changes in tax benefits for 2014 on Thursday .

The IRS added that some pension limitations such as those governing 401(k) plans and IRAs will remain unchanged because the increase in the Consumer Price Index did not meet the statutory thresholds for their adjustment, but there will be changes in some pension plan limitations.

•  The elective deferral (contribution) limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $17,500.

• The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $5,500.

• The limit on annual contributions to an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) remains unchanged at $5,500.  The additional catch-up contribution limit for individuals aged 50 and over is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $1,000.

• The deduction for taxpayers making contributions to a traditional IRA is phased out for singles and heads of household who are covered by a workplace retirement plan and have modified adjusted gross incomes (AGI) between $60,000 and $70,000, up from $59,000 and $69,000 in 2013. For married couples filing jointly, in which the spouse who makes the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the income phase-out range is $96,000 to $116,000, up from $95,000 to $115,000. For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $181,000 and $191,000, up from $178,000 and $188,000. For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

• The AGI phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $181,000 to $191,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $178,000 to $188,000 in 2013. For singles and heads of household, the income phase-out range is $114,000 to $129,000, up from $112,000 to $127,000.  For a married individual filing a separate return, the phase-out range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

• The AGI limit for the saver’s credit (also known as the retirement savings contribution credit) for low- and moderate-income workers is $60,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $59,000 in 2013; $45,000 for heads of household, up from $44,250; and $30,000 for married individuals filing separately and for singles, up from $29,500.

Here are some details on both the unchanged and adjusted limitations:

Section 415 of the Tax Code provides for dollar limitations on benefits and contributions under qualified retirement plans. Section 415(d) requires that the Secretary of the Treasury annually adjust these limits for cost of living increases. Other limitations applicable to deferred compensation plans are also affected by these adjustments under Section 415. Under Section 415(d), the adjustments are to be made pursuant to adjustment procedures which are similar to those used to adjust benefit amounts under Section 215(i)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act.

Effective Jan. 1, 2014, the limitation on the annual benefit under a defined benefit plan under Section 415(b)(1)(A) has increased from $205,000 to $210,000.  For a participant who separated from service before Jan. 1, 2014, the limitation for defined benefit plans under Section 415(b)(1)(B) is computed by multiplying the participant’s compensation limitation, as adjusted through 2013, by 1.0155.

The limitation for defined contribution plans under Section 415(c)(1)(A) is increased in 2014 from $51,000 to $52,000.

The Tax Code provides that various other dollar amounts are to be adjusted at the same time and in the same manner as the dollar limitation of Section 415(b)(1)(A). After taking into account the applicable rounding rules, the amounts for 2014 are as follows:

The limitation under Section 402(g)(1) on the exclusion for elective deferrals described in Section 402(g)(3) remains unchanged at $17,500.

The annual compensation limit under Sections 401(a)(17), 404(l), 408(k)(3)(C), and 408(k)(6)(D)(ii) is increased from $255,000 to $260,000.

The dollar limitation under Section 416(i)(1)(A)(i) concerning the definition of key employee in a top-heavy plan is increased from $165,000 to $170,000.

The dollar amount under Section 409(o)(1)(C)(ii) for determining the maximum account balance in an employee stock ownership plan subject to a 5 year distribution period is increased from $1,035,000 to $1,050,000, while the dollar amount used to determine the lengthening of the 5 year distribution period is increased from $205,000 to $210,000.

The limitation used in the definition of highly compensated employee under Section 414(q)(1)(B) remains unchanged at $115,000.

The dollar limitation under Section 414(v)(2)(B)(i) for catch-up contributions to an applicable employer plan other than a plan described in Section 401(k)(11) or Section 408(p) for individuals aged 50 or over remains unchanged at $5,500. The dollar limitation under Section 414(v)(2)(B)(ii) for catch-up contributions to an applicable employer plan described in Section 401(k)(11) or Section 408(p) for individuals aged 50 or over remains unchanged at $2,500.

The annual compensation limitation under Section 401(a)(17) for eligible participants in certain governmental plans that, under the plan as in effect on July 1, 1993, allowed cost of living adjustments to the compensation limitation under the plan under Section 401(a)(17) to be taken into account, is increased from $380,000 to $385,000.

The compensation amount under Section 408(k)(2)(C) regarding simplified employee pensions (SEPs) remains unchanged at $550.

The limitation under Section 408(p)(2)(E) regarding SIMPLE retirement accounts remains unchanged at $12,000.

The limitation on deferrals under Section 457(e)(15) concerning deferred compensation plans of state and local governments and tax-exempt organizations remains unchanged at $17,500.

The compensation amount under Section 1.61 21(f)(5)(i) of the Income Tax Regulations concerning the definition of “control employee” for fringe benefit valuation purposes is increased from $100,000 to $105,000. The compensation amount under Section 1.61 21(f)(5)(iii) has increased from $205,000 to $210,000.

The Tax Code also provides that several pension-related amounts are to be adjusted using the cost-of-living adjustment under Section 1(f)(3). After taking the applicable rounding rules into account, the amounts for 2014 are as follows:

The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for married taxpayers filing a joint return is increased from $35,500 to $36,000; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $38,500 to $39,000; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $59,000 to $60,000.

The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for taxpayers filing as head of household is increased from $26,625 to $27,000; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $28,875 to $29,250; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $44,250 to $45,000.

The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for all other taxpayers is increased from $17,750 to $18,000; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $19,250 to $19,500; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $29,500 to $30,000.

The deductible amount under Section 219(b)(5)(A) for an individual making qualified retirement contributions remains unchanged at $5,500.

The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(i) for determining the deductible amount of an IRA contribution for taxpayers who are active participants filing a joint return or as a qualifying widow(er) is increased from $95,000 to $96,000. The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(ii) for all other taxpayers (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) is increased from $59,000 to $60,000. The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(iii) for a married individual filing a separate return  is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0.  The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(7)(A) for a taxpayer who is not an active participant but whose spouse is an active participant is increased from $178,000 to $181,000.

The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 408A(c)(3)(B)(ii)(I) for determining the maximum Roth IRA contribution for married taxpayers filing a joint return or for taxpayers filing as a qualifying widow(er) is increased from $178,000 to $181,000.  The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 408A(c)(3)(B)(ii)(II) for all other taxpayers (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) is increased from $112,000 to $114,000.  The applicable dollar amount under Section 408A(c)(3)(B)(ii)(III) for a married individual filing a separate return is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0.

The dollar amount under Section 430(c)(7)(D)(i)(II) used to determine excess employee compensation with respect to a single-employer defined benefit pension plan for which the special election under Section 430(c)(2)(D) has been made is increased from $1,066,000 to $1,084,000.

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IRS Warns of Pervasive Telephone Scam

The Internal Revenue Service today warned consumers about a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

“This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country.  We want to educate taxpayers so they can help protect themselves.  Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer,” says IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel. “If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.” Werfel noted that the first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail

Other characteristics of this scam include:

  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
  • Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
  • After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
  • If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.

The IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.  This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to phishing@irs.gov.

For more information: www.onts9.com