LDR Systems Not Impacted by IRS System Outage

BATON ROUGE –The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is currently experiencing a hardware failure affecting a number of their federal tax processing systems. As a result, several of their systems are not operating at the time, including their modernized e-file system and a number of other related systems.

The Louisiana Department of Revenue’s tax processing systems are not impacted by the system outage that the IRS is currently experiencing. Taxpayers can continue to prepare and file their state tax returns as they normally would. To file their taxes, taxpayers can use commercial tax preparation software or visit Louisiana File Online, the state’s free web portal for individual and business tax filers at www.revenue.louisiana.gov/fileonline.

The department also reminds taxpayers that during this tax season, the agency is implementing enhanced security measures to protect Louisiana citizens against increased occurrences of tax fraud. As a result, it will take additional time to process refunds. The expected refund processing time for returns filed electronically is up to 60 days. For paper returns, taxpayers should expect to wait 12 to 14 weeks.

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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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IRS open in NOLA and BR for weekend assistance

IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers will be open in New Orleans and Baton Rouge on Saturday March 26, 2011.

During the expanded Saturday hours, taxpayers will be able to address economic hardship issues, make payment arrangements or get help regarding oil spill issues.

WHAT:           Selected IRS Offices open for Special Saturday Service Day
WHEN:            Saturday, March 26, 20119:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. 
WHERE:         New Orleans

1555 Poydras Street, Suite 270

New Orleans, LA 70112

 

  Baton Rouge

2600 Citiplace Centre

Baton Rouge, LA 70808

 

In addition to IRS help, community organizations partner with the IRS. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs assist people who earned $49,000 or less and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs assist individuals 60 and over with their 2009 income tax return preparation and electronic filing.   Many of these sites have Saturday hours while others offer assistance at various times during the week.  To locate the partner sites in this area call 2-1-1 or 1-800-906-9887.

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‘IRS Kicks Off 2011 Tax Season with Deadline Extended to April 18; Taxpayers Impacted by Recent Tax Breaks Can File Starting in Mid- to Late February ‘

IR-2011-1,

Jan. 4, 2011

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today opened the 2011 tax filing season by announcing that taxpayers have until April 18 to file their tax returns. The IRS reminded taxpayers impacted by recent tax law changes that using e-file is the best way to ensure accurate tax returns and get faster refunds.

Taxpayers will have until Monday, April 18 to file their 2010 tax returns and pay any tax due because Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, falls this year on Friday, April 15. By law, District of Columbia holidays impact tax deadlines in the same way that federal holidays do; therefore, all taxpayers will have three extra days to file this year. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Oct. 17 to file their 2010 tax returns.

The IRS expects to receive more than 140 million individual tax returns this year, with most of those being filed by the April 18 deadline.

The IRS also cautioned taxpayers with foreign accounts to properly report income from these accounts and file the appropriate forms on time to avoid stiff penalties.

“The IRS has made important strides at stopping tax avoidance using offshore accounts,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We continue to focus on offshore tax compliance and people with offshore accounts need to pay taxes on income from those accounts.”

The IRS also reminded tax professionals preparing returns for a fee that this is the first year that they must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Tax return preparers should register immediately using the new PTIN sign-up system available through www.IRS.gov/taxpros.

Who Must Wait to File

For most taxpayers, the 2011 tax filing season starts on schedule. However, tax law changes enacted by Congress and signed by President Obama in December mean some people need to wait until mid- to late February to file their tax returns in order to give the IRS time to reprogram its processing systems.

Some taxpayers – including those who itemize deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A – will need to wait to file. This includes taxpayers impacted by any of three tax provisions that expired at the end of 2009 and were renewed by the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act Of 2010 enacted Dec. 17. Those who need to wait to file include:

  • Taxpayers Claiming Itemized Deductions on Schedule A. Itemized deductions include mortgage interest, charitable deductions, medical and dental expenses as well as state and local taxes. In addition, itemized deductions include the state and local general sales tax deduction that was also extended and which primarily benefits people living in areas without state and local income taxes. Because of late Congressional action to enact tax law changes, anyone who itemizes and files a Schedule A will need to wait to file until mid- to late February.
  • Taxpayers Claiming the Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction. This deduction for parents and students – covering up to $4,000 of tuition and fees paid to a post-secondary institution – is claimed on Form 8917. However, the IRS emphasized that there will be no delays for millions of parents and students who claim other education credits, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit extended last month and the Lifetime Learning Credit.
  • Taxpayers Claiming the Educator Expense Deduction. This deduction is for kindergarten through grade 12 educators with out-of-pocket classroom expenses of up to $250. The educator expense deduction is claimed on Form 1040, Line 23 and Form 1040A, Line 16.

In addition to extending those tax deductions for 2010, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act also extended those deductions for 2011 and a number of other tax deductions and credits for 2011 and 2012 such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the modified Child Tax Credit, which help families pay for college and other child-related expenses. The Act also provides various job creation and investment incentives including 100 percent expensing and a two-percent payroll tax reduction for 2011. Those changes have no effect on the 2011 filing season.

The IRS will announce a specific date in the near future when it can start processing tax returns impacted by the recent tax law changes. In the interim, taxpayers affected by these tax law changes can start working on their tax returns, but they should not submit their returns until IRS systems are ready to process the new tax law changes. Additional information will be available at www.IRS.gov.

For taxpayers who must wait before filing, the delay affects both paper filers and electronic filers. The IRS urges taxpayers to use e-file instead of paper tax forms to minimize confusion over the recent tax law changes and ensure accurate tax returns.

Except for those facing a delay, the IRS will begin accepting e-file and Free File returns on Jan. 14. Additional details about e-file and Free File will be announced later this month.

Many Ways to Get Assistance

The IRS is also continuing to focus on taxpayer service. Taxpayers with questions should check the IRS website at www.IRS.gov, call our toll-free number or visit a taxpayer assistance center.

This is also the first filing season that tax packages will not be mailed to individuals or businesses. There are still many options for taxpayers to get paper forms and instructions if they need them. In recent years, fewer and fewer taxpayers received these mailings. Last year, only 8 percent of individuals who filed tax returns received tax packages in the mail. Taxpayers can still get any forms and instructions they need online at www.IRS.gov, or they can visit local IRS offices or participating libraries and post offices.

In addition, individuals making $49,000 or less can use the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program for free tax preparation and, in many cases, free electronic filing. Individuals age 60 and older can take advantage of free tax counseling and basic income tax preparation through Tax Counseling for the Elderly.

IRS Free File provides options for free brand-name tax software or online fillable forms plus free electronic filing. Everyone can use Free File to prepare a federal tax return. Taxpayers who make $58,000 or less can choose from approximately 20 commercial software providers. There’s no income limit for Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms, which also includes free e-filing.

Check for a Refund

Once taxpayers file their federal return, they can track the status of their refunds by using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool, located on the front page of www.IRS.gov. Taxpayers can generally get information about their refunds 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of their e-filed returns, or three to four weeks after mailing a paper return.

Taxpayers need to provide the following information from their tax returns: (1) Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, (2) filing status, and (3) the exact whole dollar amount of your anticipated refund. If the U.S. Postal Service returns the taxpayer’s refund to the IRS, the individual may be able to use “Where’s My Refund?” to change the address the IRS has on file, online.

Also, taxpayers may complete a Form 8822, Change of Address, and send it to the address shown on the form. They may download Form 8822 from www.IRS.gov or order it by calling 800-TAX-FORM. Generally, taxpayers can file an online claim for a replacement check if more than 28 days have passed since the IRS mailed their refund.

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‘IRS Seeks to Return $164.6 Million in Undelivered Checks to Taxpayers; Recommends E-file and Direct Deposit to Eliminate Future Delivery Problems ‘

The Internal Revenue Service is looking to return $164.6 million in undelivered refund checks. Nationwide, a total of 111,893 taxpayers are due one or more refund checks that could not be delivered because of mailing address errors.

In Louisiana, 1,618 taxpayers are owed money due to undeliverable refunds. The average refund owed to Louisiana taxpayers is $1,148.00

For Louisiana, undelivered refund checks average is up from $1,080 last year.

The total amount of refunds due to Louisiana taxpayers is $1,857,999.00

“We want to make sure taxpayers get the money owed to them,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “If you think you are missing a refund, the sooner you update your address information, the quicker you can get your money.”

A taxpayer only needs to update his or her address once for the IRS to send out all checks due. Undelivered refund checks average $1,471 this year, compared to $1,148 last year. Some taxpayers are due more than one check.

The public should be aware that the IRS does not contact taxpayers by e-mail to alert them of pending refunds and that such messages are common identity theft scams.  The agency urges taxpayers not to release any personal information, reply, open any attachments or click on any links to avoid malicious code that will infect their computers.  The best way for an individual to verify if she or he has a pending refund is going directly to IRS.gov and using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool.

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‘IRS to Hold Special Open House for Veterans and Persons with Disabilities’

IR-2010-97, Sept. 14, 2010

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service will host a special nationwide open house on Saturday, Sept. 25 to help taxpayers –– especially veterans and people with disabilities –– solve tax problems and respond to IRS notices.

One hundred offices, at least one in every state, will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time. IRS staff will be available on site or by telephone to help taxpayers work through issues and leave with solutions.

The Shreveport IRS office located at 3007 Knight Street will be open on September 25th from 9 am to 2 pm.

The Baton Rouge IRS office located at 2600 Citiplace Centre will be open on September 25th from 9 am to 2 pm.

The New Orleans IRS office located at 1555 Poydras Street will be open on September 25th from 9 am to 2 pm.

In many locations, the IRS will partner with organizations that serve veterans and the disabled to offer additional help and information to people in these communities. Partner organizations include the National Disability Institute (NDI), Vets First, Department of Veterans Affairs, National Council on Independent Living and the American Legion.

“Taxpayers have tremendous success solving their tax issues at our open houses,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “I want to encourage veterans and people with disabilities to come in on Sept. 25. Just like we reached out earlier this year to small businesses and victims of the Gulf Oil Spill, we want to help other taxpayers put their toughest problems behind them.”

IRS locations will be equipped to handle issues involving notices and payments, return preparation, audits and a variety of other issues. At a previous IRS open house on June 5, over 6,700 taxpayers sought and received assistance and 96 percent had their issues resolved the same day.

At the Sept. 25 open house, anyone who has a tax question or has received a notice can speak with an IRS employee to get an answer to their question or a clear explanation of what is necessary to satisfy the request. A taxpayer who cannot pay a balance due can find out whether an installment agreement is appropriate and, if so, fill out the paperwork then and there. Assistance with offers-in-compromise — an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s debt for less than the full amount owed — will also be available. Likewise, a taxpayer struggling to complete a certain IRS form or schedule can work directly with IRS staff to get the job done.

Taxpayers requiring special services, such as interpretation for the deaf or hard of hearing, should check local listings and call the local IRS Office/Taxpayer Assistance Center ahead of time to schedule an appointment.

The open house on Sept. 25 is the third of three events scheduled after this year’s tax season. Plans are underway for similar events next year. Details will be available at a later date.

Reminder for Small Tax-Exempt Organizations

The IRS also encourages representatives of small tax-exempt charitable community organizations, many of which serve people with disabilities and veterans, to file Form 990-N before the Oct. 15 deadline. Community organizations that fail to file a Form 990-N by this date risk losing their tax exempt status. As of June 30, more than 320,000 organizations were at risk of losing their exempt status.

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IRS: ‘Open House Saturday June 5 to Help Taxpayers Solve Problems ‘

IR-2010-71, June 3, 2010

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service will once again host a special nationwide open house on Saturday, June 5 to help taxpayers solve tax problems and respond to notices from the IRS.

Approximately 200 IRS offices, at least one in every state, will be open June 5 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time. IRS staff will be available on site or by telephone to help taxpayers work through their problems –– especially recently received tax notices –– and walk out with solutions.

“We’ve helped thousands of taxpayers resolve their problems the same day at these open houses,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “If you have a question regarding a notice, a problem with your taxes or difficulty resolving a tough tax issue, we encourage you to come in and work with us.”

IRS locations will be equipped to handle issues involving notices and payments, return preparation, audits and a variety of other issues. At a previous IRS open house on May 15, close to 7,000 taxpayers sought and received assistance. About 97 percent of the taxpayers who came in for help had their issues resolved the same day.

At the June 5 open house, someone who has received a notice seeking additional information can speak with an IRS employee to get a clear explanation of what is necessary to satisfy the request. A taxpayer who cannot pay a tax balance due can discuss with an IRS professional whether an installment agreement is appropriate and, if so, fill out the paperwork then and there. Assistance with offers-in-compromise — an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s debt for less than the full amount owed — will also be available. Likewise, a taxpayer struggling to complete a certain IRS form or schedule can work directly with IRS staff to get the job done.

The open house on June 5 is the second of three events scheduled after tax season this year. The first was held on May 15. The next event, previously scheduled for Saturday June 26, will be held later this fall. Details regarding that event will be available later.

The following offices will be open in Louisiana:

Baton Rouge: 2600 Citiplace Centre
Baton Rouge, LA. 70808

New Orleans: 1555 Poydras Street
New Orleans, LA 70112

Shreveport: 3007 Knight Street
Shreveport, LA 71105

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IRS: ‘Open House on Saturday May 15 to Help Small Businesses,’

IRS offices in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport will be open on Saturday, May 15 to assist individuals and small business with tax problems.


IR-2010-55, May 3, 2010

WASHINGTON —The Internal Revenue Service will host a special nationwide Open House on Saturday May 15 to help small businesses and individuals solve tax problems.

Approximately 200 IRS offices, at least one in every state, will be open May 15 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time. IRS staff will be available on site or by telephone to help taxpayers work through their problems and walk out with solutions.

“Our goal is to resolve issues on the spot so small businesses and individuals can put any issues they have with the IRS behind them,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “If you have a problem filing or paying your taxes or resolving a tough tax issue, we encourage you to come in and work with us.”

IRS locations will be equipped to handle issues involving notices and payments, return preparation, audits and a variety of other issues. At a previous IRS Open House on March 27, approximately two-thirds of taxpayers requested and received assistance with payments and notices.

So, for example, a taxpayer who cannot pay a tax balance due can discuss with an IRS professional whether an installment agreement is appropriate and, if so, fill out the paperwork then and there. Assistance with offers-in-compromise will also be available. Likewise, a taxpayer struggling to complete a certain IRS form or schedule can work directly with IRS staff to get the job done.

At the March 27 Open House, 88 percent of the taxpayers who came in for help had their issues resolved the same day.

Locations for the May 15 Open House are listed on the IRS website, IRS.gov.

The Open House on May 15 is the first of three events scheduled through the end of June. The next two are planned for Saturday, June 5 and Saturday, June 26. Details regarding those events will be available soon.


In Louisiana, the locations are:

Baton Rouge: 2600 Citiplace Centre
Baton Rouge, LA. 70808

New Orleans: 1555 Poydras Street
New Orleans, LA 70112

Shreveport: 3007 Knoght Street
Shreveport, LA 71105

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IRS offices in Baton Rouge, New Orleans open on Saturday, March 27

The Baton Rouge and New Orleans offices of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are open on Saturday, March 27, to assist taxpayers who have questions in advance of the April 15 federal filing deadline.

According to the IRS, this customer service initiative “will give struggling taxpayers more opportunity to work directly with IRS employees to resolve issues they may be facing for the first time this year.”

During the expanded Saturday hours, taxpayers will be able to address economic hardship issues, make payment arrangements or get help claiming any of the special tax breaks in last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, including the:

  • Homebuyer tax credit
  • American Opportunity Credit
  • Making Work Pay credit
  • Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit

The Baton Rouge office of the IRS is located at:

    2600 Citiplace Centre
    Baton Rouge, LA 70808

The New Orleans IRS office is at:

    1553 Poyrdras Street, Suite 270
    New Orleans, LA 70112

For more information, contact the New Orleans IRS Media Relations Office at 1-800-829-1040

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