IRS: 9,600 Louisiana Tax Professionals must renew their PTIN

From the IRS:

New OrleansThe Internal Revenue Service is reminding 9,600 Louisiana tax professionals that their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) will expire on Dec. 31, 2013.  

Nationwide, almost 690,000 federal tax return preparers must renew their PTIN for 2014.  Anyone who prepares or assists in preparing federal tax returns for compensation must have a valid PTIN. 

In Louisiana, 9,600 tax professionals with active and provisional PTINs are affected by this requirement. That includes 2,758 CPAs, 346 Enrolled Agents and 213 Attorney’s.

“We ask that you renew your PTIN as soon as possible to avoid a last-minute rush. It’s easy to let this slip as the holiday season approaches,” said Carol A. Campbell, Director, IRS Return Preparer Office.

The IRS is now processing applications and renewals for 2014.  The fee to renew a 2013 PTIN is $63.  If you are registering for the first time, the PTIN application fee is $64.25.  Both can be completed online at www.irs.gov/ptin.

For more information about requirements for federal tax professionals and access to the online PTIN system, go to www.irs.gov/for-Tax-Pros

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 More details in IRS News Release-2013-85, 2014 PTIN Renewal Period Underway for Tax Professionals  http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/2014-PTIN-Renewal-Period-Underway-for-Tax-Professionals.

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LA Tax Amnesty 2013 – Deadline is Friday, November 22

Friday, November 22 is the deadline for LA Tax Amnesty 2013: A Fresh Start.

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IRS: 2014 PTIN Renewal Period Underway for Tax Professionals

From the Internal Revenue Service:

IR-2013-85, Oct. 31, 2013

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded the nation’s almost 690,000 federal tax return preparers that they must renew their Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) for 2014. All current PTINs will expire on Dec. 31, 2013.

Anyone who, for compensation, prepares or helps prepare any federal return or claim for refund must have a valid PTIN from the IRS. The PTIN must be used as the identifying number on returns prepared.

“We ask that you renew your PTIN as soon as possible to avoid a last-minute rush. It’s easy to let this slip as the holiday season approaches,” said Carol A. Campbell, Director, IRS Return Preparer Office.

The PTIN system is ready to accept applications for 2014.

For those who already have a 2013 PTIN, the renewal process can be completed online and only takes a few moments. The renewal fee is $63. If you can’t remember your user ID and password, there are online tools to assist you. Preparers can get started at www.irs.gov/ptin.

If you are registering for the first time, the PTIN application fee is $64.25 and the process may also be completed online.

Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number Application and Renewal, is available for paper applications and renewals, but takes four to six weeks to process. Failure to have and use a valid PTIN may result in penalties. All enrolled agents, regardless of whether they prepare returns, must have a PTIN in order to maintain their status.

There have been a number of enhancements to the online PTIN system since last year. They include:

  • The fully functional “Manage My Account” tool allowing preparers to self-correct almost any field at any time (including professional credentials). Previously, most changes had to be made during renewal. A phone call was required for users to make changes during the rest of the year. However, for security reasons, name changes still require written documentation.
  • Preparers can now view completed continuing education programs reported by IRS-approved providers beginning with 2013 courses. Providers report completed CE programs to the IRS based on your PTIN number. Enrolled agents must have a minimum of 16 CE hours annually and a total of 72 hours every  three years. Others can also view voluntary programs completed. If something is missing, contact your provider directly as we only display what providers send to us.
  • Planning to take a year off for any reason? A new function allows certain preparers to inactivate their PTINs voluntarily and then reactivate the same number when they return to work. This is only for those preparers who plan to take a full year off. If you are paid to prepare tax returns during any part of a year, you must have a valid PTIN. Note: Enrolled agents must maintain a valid PTIN each year in order to maintain their EA credential and therefore are not eligible to inactivate their PTIN.

For more information about requirements for federal tax professionals and access to the online PTIN system, go to www.irs.gov/for-Tax-Pros.

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IRS Warns of Pervasive Telephone Scam

From the IRS:

IR-2013-84, Oct. 31, 2013

WASHINGTON — 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 1.800.829.1040. 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 1.800.366.4484.
  • 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.

More information on how to report phishing scams involving the IRS is available on the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov.

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Free Sales Tax Class in Baton Rouge – Friday, October 25

The Louisiana Department of Revenue offers a free seminar to help business operators understand sales tax and other important business issues. For details or to register, call (225) 219-5511.

What: Free Sales Tax Class
When: Friday, October 25

10:00 AM

Where: Griffon Room

LaSalle Building (LDR   Headquarters)

617 North Third Street

Baton Rouge, LA 70802

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Department of Revenue investigations of tax preparers identify millions in fraudulent refunds

BATON ROUGE – A joint initiative of the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) and the Attorney General’s office to prevent fraud committed by tax preparers has yielded numerous arrests and identified millions of dollars in potentially fraudulent income tax refunds.

The investigative focus on tax preparers has resulted in ten arrests since it began less than a year ago in March 2013.  All such cases involve a total of $1.8 million in fraudulent refunds to date. 

The LDR Taxpayer Refund Intercept Program (TRIP) analyzes income tax refunds as they are processed. When TRIP unit analysts observe suspicious patterns, they investigate to determine if fraud is involved.

The most recent TRIP arrests focus on alleged fraud connected to Quick Tax, a tax preparation business with locations in Baton Rouge and Baker.  Ebony C. Martin, of 17424 Airline Highway in Prairieville, was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on Monday, October 7, 2013; Shantel Banks, of 8441 Betty Smothers Avenue in Baton Rouge, was arrested on Tuesday, October 8; and Alfreda Walker, of 4912 Longfellow Drive in Baton Rouge, was arrested on Thursday, October 10.  All three face felony counts including theft, computer fraud, tax evasion and filing or maintaining false public records.

“According to the arrest warrants, the suspects prepared tax returns with phony business loss information that resulted in fraudulently large income tax refunds for their clients,” said Barry Kelly, director of the LDR Criminal Investigations Division.

The alleged criminal activity in the Quick Tax case involved $210,422 in fraudulent refunds.

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In an unrelated case this month, Lawrence James Richard of 12535 Arnold Road in Walker was arrested on October 3, 2013, on charges of tax evasion and failure to file. He is accused of failing to report income to the state in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

 

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Department of Revenue sending letters, making calls to taxpayers eligible for Louisiana tax amnesty

BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) is taking a multi-pronged approach to informing delinquent taxpayers that they may be eligible for a statewide tax amnesty program.

Louisiana Tax Amnesty 2013: A Fresh Start allows noncompliant taxpayers to settle their accounts with the state by paying all taxes due, with a waiver of all penalties and 50 percent of the interest owed. It continues through November 22, 2013.

LDR’s outreach includes 443,000 letters addressed to taxpayers the agency’s records indicate are behind on their taxes.

And it includes a recorded telephone message sent to eligible taxpayers whose phone numbers are in LDR’s database.

“The phone numbers and addresses we are using for these calls and letters are information taxpayers have provided LDR in records they have submitted,” Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield said. “We’re making every effort to make eligible taxpayers aware of this opportunity for a fresh start.”

The recorded amnesty phone message states:

“Are you ready for a fresh start?  You may be eligible for the Louisiana Department of Revenue’s 2013 Tax Amnesty program.  The tax amnesty period began on September 23rd and runs through November 22nd, 2013.   To find out more and to see if you qualify for the Fresh Start program, visit www.ldrtaxamnesty.com or call our amnesty hotline at: 866-782-9241.  To hear this message again press pound otherwise simply hang up.”

The calls do not identify taxpayers by name. In some cases, there may be multiple taxpayers living at one location. If any taxpayer has questions about a call believed to be intended for someone else, LDR encourages them to call the amnesty hotline at 866-782-9241.

 

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2013 tax amnesty begins Monday, Sept. 23

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield will discuss a statewide tax amnesty program during a kickoff event in Kenner for LA Tax Amnesty 2013: A Fresh Start.

The Fresh Start program runs from Monday, September 23 through Friday, November 22. It offers delinquent taxpayers and non-filers a chance to settle their accounts with the Louisiana Department of Revenue by paying all taxes due, with a waiver of all penalties and 50 percent of the interest owed.

Secretary Barfield will speak with taxpayers and the media during an appearance at the headquarters of the Society for Louisiana Certified Public Accountants (LCPA) at LCPA headquarters in Kenner.

Information about the Fresh Start program is available at www.ldrtaxamnesty.com, where eligible taxpayers can submit amnesty applications and make payments electronically.

Date Time Location
September 23 9:00 a.m. LCPA Headquarters

2400 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Suite 500

Kenner, LA 70062

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Secretary Barfield continues statewide tour promoting LA Tax Amnesty 2013: A Fresh Start

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield continues his statewide tour this week to speak with local communities about a tax amnesty program to run from September 23 through November 22.

LA Tax Amnesty 2013: A Fresh Start offers delinquent taxpayers and non-filers a chance to settle their accounts by paying all taxes due, with an exemption from all penalties and 50 percent of the interest.

“We are looking forward to connecting with hundreds of taxpayers as we prepare to launch the Fresh Start program,” Barfield said.  “This will be the opportunity needed by many people to clear their account with the Department of Revenue, and we want to help them in any way possible.”

Visit www.ldrtaxamnesty.com for more information.

Dates and Locations

Date Time Location
September 18 11:00 a.m. Alexandria Convention Hall

915 Third Street

Alexandria, LA 71301

September 19 10:00 a.m. Lafayette Public Library – South Regional Branch

6101 Johnston Street

Lafayette, LA 70503

September 19 2:00 p.m. Calcasieu Parish Police Jury Room

1015 Pithon Street

Lake Charles, LA 70601

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Revenue Information Bulletin 13-024 – Impact of the Internal Revenue Service Revenue Ruling 2013-17

The Louisiana Department of Revenue has issued Revenue Information Bulletin 13-024 – Impact of the Internal Revenue Service Ruling 2013-17:

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes.

La. Const. of 1974, art. XII, Sec. 15, states:

“Marriage in the state of Louisiana shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. No official or court of the state of Louisiana shall construe this constitution or any state law to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any member of a union other than the union of one man and one woman. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized. No official or court of the state of Louisiana shall recognize any marriage contracted in any other jurisdiction which is not the union of one man and one woman.”

By its very definition, a same-sex marriage is in direct contravention of La. Const. of 1974, art. XII, Sec. 15, because it is not a union of one man and one woman. No official or court of the state of Louisiana shall recognize any marriage contracted in any other jurisdiction which is not the union of one man and one woman. Louisiana’s Secretary of Revenue is bound to support and uphold the Constitution and laws of the state of Louisiana, and any recognition of a same-sex filing status in Louisiana as promulgated in IRS Revenue Ruling 2013-17 would be a clear violation of Louisiana’s Constitution.

In compliance with the Louisiana Constitution, the Louisiana Department of Revenue shall not recognize same-sex marriages when determining filing status. If a taxpayer’s federal filing status of married filing jointly, married filing separately or qualifying widow is pursuant to IRS Revenue Ruling 2013-17, the taxpayer must file a separate Louisiana return as single, head of household or qualifying widow, as applicable. The taxpayer(s) who filed a federal return pursuant to IRS Revenue Ruling 2013-17 may not file a Louisiana state income tax return as married filing jointly, married filing separately or qualifying widow. The taxpayer must provide the same federal income tax information on the Louisiana State Return that would have been provided prior to the issuance of Internal Revenue Service Revenue Ruling 2013-17.

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