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IRS, States and Tax Industry Deploy New Safeguards for 2016

 

Because of improved protections in recent years, the Internal Revenue Service stops the vast majority of fraudulent tax returns using stolen identities. But identity thieves and criminal syndicates continue to persist and evolve.

As the threat has changed, so has the IRS. In a new era of cooperation, the IRS, the states and the entire tax industry came together to identify what additional steps could be taken to better fight identity theft and better protect the taxpayers.

Starting in January 2016, this renewed effort will make for a safer, more secure filing season for taxpayers.

Many changes will be invisible, but they are critical to making sure the IRS can verify the taxpayer and the legitimacy of the tax return before it ever enters into the tax processing system. More than 20 shared data elements will help the software industry and the IRS stop fraudulent returns at the door.

Who Can Represent You Before the IRS?

Many people use a tax professional to prepare their taxes. Tax professionals with an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) can prepare a return for a fee. If you choose a tax pro, you should know who can represent you before the IRS. There are new rules this year, so the IRS wants you to know who can represent you and when they can represent you. Choose a tax return preparer wisely.

Representation rights, also known as practice rights, fall into two categories:

  • Unlimited Representation
  • Limited Representation

Unlimited representation rights allow a credentialed tax practitioner to represent you before the IRS on any tax matter. This is true no matter who prepared your return. Credentialed tax professionals who have unlimited representation rights include:

New Owner Brings Friendly, Professional Atmosphere to Sink or Swim Tattoo

New Owner Brings Friendly, Professional Atmosphere to Sink or Swim Tattoo

Sink or Swim Tattoo, located on the second floor of a commercial building at 1040 Payne Ave., North Tonawanda, is under new ownership, with a familiar face now running the operation.

Former Sink or Swim tattoo artist Keith Kuzara took ownership of the business on Oct. 1, 2015, after working at the shop for nearly four years. Kuzara is a self-taught and award-winning tattoo artist with six years of industry experience.

“I was planning on opening my own shop eventually, when this opportunity suddenly popped up,” said Kuzara. “With the previous owner moving out of state, the timing and situation was right to take over the business.”

Sink or Swim now employs five tattoo artists, including the multi-tattooed owner.

The Premium Tax Credit – The Basics

If you – or anyone on your federal tax return enrolled in health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you may be eligible for the premium tax credit.

Here are some basic facts about the premium tax credit.

What is the premium tax credit?

The premium tax credit is a credit that helps eligible individuals and families with low or moderate income afford health insurance purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

What is the Health Insurance Marketplace?

Free Health and Safety Evaluation Provides Peace of Mind for Homeowners

Free Health and Safety Evaluation Provides Peace of Mind for Homeowners

Is your house healthy? If you’re not 100 percent sure, there’s a cost-free way to find out.

A New York State program now offers a free home health and safety evaluation — the NYSERDA Free Energy Audit — for homeowners. All homes are eligible for this service every two years, free of charge. 

“A home should be declared safe before starting any major home improvement project such as adding insulation or installing new windows,” said Jim Stroehlein, co-owner of Prime Time Energy Services. “If a home has an existing health or safety concern and you tighten up the building's shell, the existing problem will only be magnified by trapping it inside the home. This could create a hazardous or deadly environment.”

One potential safety concern is exposure to carbon monoxide gas, which can lead to CO poisoning or even death.

The Individual Shared Responsibility Provision – The Basics

The individual shared responsibility provision requires that you and each member of your family have qualifying health insurance, a health coverage exemption, or make a payment for any months without coverage or an exemption when you file. If you, your spouse and dependents had health insurance coverage all year, you will indicate this by simply checking a box on your tax return.

Here are some basic facts about the individual shared responsibility provision.

What is the individual shared responsibility provision?

The individual shared responsibility provision calls for each individual to have qualifying health care coverage – known as minimum essential coverage – for each month, qualify for an exemption, or make a payment when filing his or her federal income tax return.

Who is subject to the individual shared responsibility provision?

Tips to Keep Your Tax Records Secure; Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

If you’re still keeping old tax returns and receipts stuffed in a shoe box stuck in the back of the closet, you might want to rethink that approach.

The IRS has teamed up with state revenue departments and the tax industry to make sure you understand the dangers to your personal and financial data. Taxes. Security. Together. Working in partnership with you, we can make a difference.

You should keep your tax records safe and secure, whether they are stored on paper or kept electronically. The same is true for any financial or health records you store, especially any document bearing Social Security numbers.

You should keep always keep copies of your tax returns and supporting documents for several years to support claims for tax credits and deductions.