Here you'll find items of current interest — new programs, recent guidance or timely reminders.
Fuel Tax Credit Extensions: Frequently Asked Questions
These Q&As tell taxpayers how to claim the credits for qualifying sales or uses during 2012. It also describes changes to the cellulosic biofuel credit for 2013.
Wanted: Community Volunteers to Provide Free Tax Help
Want to help people in your community? The IRS is looking for volunteers for programs that provide free tax help to qualified individuals during the tax filing season. You don’t need prior experience.
Interested? Find out more.
In the past few years, there have been several laws passed that have tax implications. For more information, visit our pages on:
- The Affordable Care Act
- The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)
- Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE)
Tax Return Preparer Requirements
The IRS has undertaken several initiatives to reach tax return preparers with education and enforcement. All paid preparers must register with the IRS and obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Find out more.
Please note that 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.
- If you get an unsolicited email that appears to be from the IRS, please report it by sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you find a suspicious website that claims to be the IRS, please send the site’s URL by email to email@example.com, using the subject line: suspicious website.
For more information on phishing scams, please see Suspicious e-Mails and Identity Theft.
Don't Fall for Phony IRS Websites
The IRS warns consumers about a new tax scam that uses a website that mimics the IRS e-Services online registration page.
The actual IRS e-Services page offers web-based products for tax preparers, not the general public. The phony web page looks almost identical to the real one.
The IRS gets many reports of fake websites like this. Criminals use these sites to lure people into providing personal and financial information that may be used to steal the victim’s money or identity.
The address of the official IRS website is www.irs.gov. Don’t be misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov.
The IRS website has information that can help you protect yourself from tax scams of all kinds. Search the site using the term: phishing.
Beware of Phony Email from DFAS
Taxpayers should be on the lookout for a new, email-based phishing scam now circulating that targets Department of Defense military members, retirees and civilian employees. The email appears to come from Defense Finance and Accounting Services and displays a .mil email address. The email states that those receiving disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may be able to obtain additional funds from the IRS. Email recipients are then asked to send various VA and IRS documents containing their personal and financial information, such as copies of VA award letters or their income tax returns, to an address in Florida.
The information on these documents is then used by the scammers to commit identity theft. Typically, identity thieves use someone’s personal data to empty the victim’s financial accounts, run up charges on the victim’s existing credit cards or apply for new loans, credit cards, services or benefits in the victim’s name.
Interim Changes to the ITIN Application Process
Effective June 22, 2012, the IRS has made interim changes that affect the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) application process. Some of the information below, including the documentation requirements for individuals seeking an ITIN, has been superseded by these changes. Taxpayers and their representatives should review these changes, which are further explained in these Frequently Asked Questions, before requesting an ITIN.
On Oct. 2, 2012, the IRS implemented clarifying changes to its temporary procedures for issuing ITINs for noncitizens with tax Extensions and many foreign students.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, the IRS will implement improvements to the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) application process. These changes were developed based on an extensive review and feedback from a variety of stakeholders. The updated ITIN procedures build on changes announced last summer and fall to better protect the integrity of the ITIN application process and strengthen the refund process. Read about the new program changes and check out the latest frequently asked questions for more information.
For Same-Sex Couples and Certain Domestic Partners
For tax issues relating to same-sex couples, please see:
Help for Victims of Ponzi Investment Schemes
Principal Reduction Alternative Under the Home Affordable Modification Program
Find the answers to your tax questions on the Principal Reduction Alternative under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), which was established by the Departments of the Treasury and Housing and Urban Development to help distressed homeowners lower their monthly mortgage payments. The Principal Reduction Alternative does not apply to loans that are owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
Don't fall victim to tax scams. Remember — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you know of a tax fraud, you can report it to the IRS by sending completed Form 3949-A, Information Referral, to Internal Revenue Service, Fresno, CA 93888. Download the form or call 1-800-829-3676 to order by mail.
For recent scams, see:
- IR-2011-73, IRS Urges Taxpayers to Avoid Becoming Victims of Tax Scam
- IR-2011-39, Don’t Fall Prey to the 2011 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams
Education is the best way to avoid the pitfalls of these “too good to be true” tax scams. For additional information, see:
Nov. 10, 2011 — A suspected phishing email on the Employer Identification Number (EIN), claiming to come from the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility, is currently circulating. This email was not sent by the IRS. For more information, see Latest News from Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).
The IRS does not send taxpayers unsolicited emails about their tax accounts, tax situations or personal tax issues. If you receive such an email, most likely it's a scam.
IRS impersonation schemes flourish during filing season. These schemes may take place via phone, fax, Internet sites, social networking sites and particularly email.
Many impersonations are identity theft scams that try to trick victims into revealing personal and financial information that can be used to access their financial accounts. Some email scams contain attachments or links that, when clicked, download malicious code (virus) that infects your computer or direct you to a bogus form or site posing as a genuine IRS form or web site.
Some impersonations may be commercial Internet sites that consumers unknowingly visit, thinking they're accessing the genuine IRS website, www.IRS.gov. However, such sites have no connection to the IRS.
For more information on scams and what to do if you're subject to one, see:
- Problem Alerts
- Online Scams that Impersonate the IRS
- Suspicious e-Mails and Identity Theft
- How to Report and Identify Phishing, E-mail Scams and Bogus IRS Web Sites
Tax Avoidance Transactions
Read up on these milestones in the IRS campaign against abusive tax avoidance transactions. Taxpayers with unreported income relating to offshore transactions who wish to voluntarily disclose the information to the IRS can find information on the process.
Why Pay Taxes? The Truth about Frivolous Tax Arguments
The Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments (PDF 405K) addresses some of the more common false "legal" arguments made by individuals and groups who oppose compliance with the federal tax laws. These arguments are grouped under six general categories, with variations within each category. Each contention is briefly explained, followed by a discussion of the legal authority that rejects the contention. The second section deals with frivolous arguments encountered in collection due process cases. The final section illustrates penalties imposed on those pursuing frivolous cases.