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Tax Pros Must Take Steps to Protect Data from Cybercriminals

More and more, cybercriminals target tax professionals looking to access taxpayer data. These criminals use the information to file fake tax returns. Many tax pros think it can’t happen to them, but it can – and it does. The IRS reminds all tax preparers they have a responsibility to protect and secure sensitive data.

To prevent data theft, the IRS partnered with state tax agencies and members of the tax industry to create the Security Summit. Through this partnership, they are fighting identity theft. While they make progress, criminals need more data to file fraudulent returns. This in turn makes tax professionals, payroll professionals, and employers targets of identity thieves.

Security Summit partners remind tax professionals to take all possible steps to secure data. They can:

IRS Has Options to Help Small Business Owners

Small business owners often have a running list of things to do. These include deadlines, sales calls, employee issues, banking, advertising – and taxes. The IRS can help with the last one.

Here are seven resources to help small businesses owners with common topics:

Online Courses Help Charities Understand Tax Issues

Charitable organizations have 24/7 access to online courses on Stay Exempt, an IRS website. The IRS created this site to help charities better understand tax issues that affect tax exempt organizations. It offers courses on a wide range of topics that can help these organizations obtain and maintain their tax-exempt status.

The online courses average less than 30 minutes. There is information to help guide an organization through the application process. They can also find courses that cover how to fully meet annual filing requirements. Aside from 501(c)(3)s, there are also courses geared to other 501 organizations, including veterans organizations, social clubs and fraternal organizations.

Some of the courses available include:

Taxpayers Who are Victims of Domestic Abuse Should Know Their Rights

Domestic abuse often includes control over finances. An important part of managing finances is understanding one’s tax rights. Taxpayers have the right to expect the IRS to consider facts and circumstances that might affect the individual’s taxes.

Taxpayers have the right to:

  • File a separate return even if they’re married.
  • Review the entire tax return before signing a joint return.
  • Review supporting documents for a joint return.
  • Refuse to sign a joint return.
  • Request more time to file their tax return.
  • Get copies of prior year tax returns from the IRS.
  • Seek independent legal advice.

Taxpayers also have the right to request relief from the liability shown on a joint return. This is known as innocent spouse relief. Here are a couple of examples:

Example 1:

Taxpayers Can Look to the IRS for Tax Help After a Disaster

When a hurricane or other disaster strikes, the IRS wants taxpayers to know they can count on the agency for help.

Here are six resources taxpayers can access on IRS.gov:

What Taxpayers Can Do Now Before Filing Their Return in 2018

While taxpayers will not start filing their tax returns for a few months, there are a few things they can do to make the process easier next year. Here are two things that could affect the 2017 returns they will file in 2018.  

Extension Filers Should Review Tax Credits Before Filing

Taxpayers who requested an extension of time to file their federal tax returns have until Oct.16 to double-check their returns for tax benefits that people often overlook. These taxpayers still have time to see if they can benefit from these four credits.

Earned Income Tax Credit

The Earned Income Tax Credit – also known as EITC and EIC –  benefits people who work and who have low-to-moderate incomes. This credit reduces the amount of tax owed and may result in a refund. To qualify for this credit, a person must meet certain requirements. They must also file a tax return.

Child Tax Credit

This is a credit of up to $1,000 per qualifying child. Taxpayers who claim this credit – but who do not qualify for the full amount – may also be able to take the additional child tax credit.

Saver’s Credit