While the initial drama of the government shutdown is now past us (even though another is looming), there is still drama impacting many Americans – and it has to do with their tax refunds.
The IRS entered the first day of tax season with 5 million pieces of unopened mail, CBS News has confirmed — lingering effects of the government shutdown that could take the agency more than a year to recover from. Since in-person IRS help centers were closed, taxpayers turned to the postal system, and the IRS went from getting 200,000 pieces of mail per day to 700,000.
The IRS has announced that the official start of 2018’s tax season will be on Monday, Jan. 29, which is the first day the IRS will begin accepting 2017 tax returns. While you have until April 17 to get your tax return in, there are two good reasons to file as soon as you can. In addition to getting your tax refund into your pocket faster, there’s another, less obvious reason you shouldn’t wait.
As the US tax season gets underway, the FBI has issued a warning on increased IRS-related phishing emails.
The alert noted that the IRS’s Online Fraud Detection & Prevention (OFDP) department, which monitors such things, has observed an increase in reports of compromised or spoofed emailsrequesting W-2 information. A W-2 is the form used to report wages for tax purposes and contains sensitive information, including Social Security numbers.
The most popular gambit remains impersonating an executive, using a compromised or spoofed email account, to obtain W-2 information from an HR professional within the same organization. Individual taxpayers may also be the targeted, the FBI said, but criminals have evolved their tactics to focus on mass data thefts.
The IRS finally started processing returns on January 29. If you’re one of the millions of Americans who are asking, “When can I expect my income tax refund?” we have the answer. It depends on a couple of things, but the good news is that there are several tools to help find out.
First of all, taxpayers who use a professional, such as a CPA or EA, can ask that professional for an estimated date. Taxpayers who’ve already filed can also go to the Internal Revenue Service’s website, which has a tool designed specifically for that called, “Where’s My Refund?”
Coinbase told its customers on Friday that it plans to comply with a court order and hand over about 13,000 customers’ data to the IRS within 21 days. The IRS made the request back in November 2016, asking for the Coinbase records of all the people who bought bitcoin from 2013 to 2015 to seek out those who were evading cryptocurrency taxes. Anyone affected by the order should now have received an email from Coinbase to that effect.
Coinbase heavily resisted the summons. But ultimately, in November last year, the San Francisco court ruled Coinbase had to turn over identifying records for all users who have completed transactions of more than $20,000 through their accounts in a single year between 2013 and 2015. The data requested includes taxpayer IDs, names, dates of birth, addresses, and transaction records from that period.
In an email and on its website on Friday, Coinbase noted that it had tried: “Coinbase fought this summons in court in an effort to protect its customers, and the industry as a whole, from unwarranted intrusions from the government.”
It informed its 13,000 affected customers that the “court order requires us to produce information specific to your account,” but that the company could not provide legal or tax advice. So far, 2018 is shaping up to be the year that tax collectors get serious about bitcoin earnings, meaning that it’s a good time to be extra careful about compliance.
Lady Luck must be Uncle Sam’s cousin, because taxes must be paid on all gambling winnings.
Here’s a look at the federal tax forms you’ll need in order to share your wagering good fortune with the IRS. And if you lost a few rounds before your numbers came up, there’s a way you can turn those losses to your tax advantage.
Tax filing time will be here before you know it, and while it may seem like an odd time to worry about such a faraway event, that may be the first clue you have a problem. You believe you only need to think about your taxes once a year.
Sure, for plenty of individuals, if taxes come out of your paycheck, and you don’t have much excitement in your financial life, you may be perfectly fine with thinking about taxes and the Internal Revenue Service for just a few weeks or days in the first few months of the year. But there are plenty of other taxpayers who aren’t so lucky. They may be making mistakes right now that will haunt them later.
But don’t be scared. Pull out the flashlight, look into the darkness, be proactive – and make sure not to avoid these tax-filing mistakes.
Nobody likes paying taxes on the money they’ve worked hard to save and invest for their future. The taxes paid over a lifetime of investing can have a big impact on the amount of money that will be available to use for future spending and achieving goals, but commonly get overlooked when people are planning for retirement. Fortunately, you have many options to minimize the taxes on your investment portfolio. Some of them are so simple anyone can do them, while others are more complicated and may require the help of a professional.