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October 2011 Edition of Indian Tribal Governments News

ITG News Home Page

Table of Contents

  • Director’s Message
  • New Voluntary Worker Classification Settlement Program
  • When Do You Need a Form W-8BEN?
  • Small Business Health Care Tax Credit
  • FinCEN Proposes Mandatory Electronic Filing of Forms
  • Year-end Reconciliation of Forms 941 and W-2
  • E-mail Scams
  • EFTPS Payments
  • What is a de minimis Fringe Benefit to an Employee?
  • Are Prizes or Awards Taxable?
  • Taxability of Gift Cards
  • Ten Things to Know About the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS)
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Success Stories
  • ITG Outreach Successes
  • Upcoming Arizona Training Opportunities


Scroll down the page to view each of the articles



Director's Message

It doesn't seem possible, but another fiscal year has come and gone for ITG. Did you know that in FY2011 ITG provided outreach to nearly 5,000 individuals in Indian Country?? That includes teaching classes, delivering seminars and speeches, and conducting our first webinar. In addition, over 3,000 people subscribe to the ITG News!

Many people aren't aware of how much outreach ITG provides. Despite budget challenges, we hope to maintain the same level of outreach services in the coming fiscal year. We will be expanding our use of technology to allow us to reach people with information.

For example, due to the success of the webinar we conducted on reporting requirements, we will offer two webinars in the coming year. We would like to make the webinars as useful to you as possible. As with the first webinar, we will work to have the live broadcasts certified. That means free continuing professional education (CPE) credits to those of you who are CPAs.

What will the topics be? That's where we need your feedback. Please let us know what you'd like to hear about. You can e-mail your suggestions to As you will see from several of the items in this edition, technology advances are going to change the way the IRS does certain things. The ITG staff will be available to assist you with any questions you have as we move forward. These are challenging times for all governments, and I look forward to another year of working together to meet those challenges.

Christie Jacobs, Director


New Voluntary Worker Classification Settlement Program

The IRS is offering a new program that will enable tribes and tribally-owned businesses to voluntarily reclassify workers as employees for federal employment tax purposes. This new program provides an opportunity to voluntarily reclassify workers as employees for future tax periods, with limited federal employment tax liability for the past nonemployee treatment.

“This settlement program provides certainty and relief to employers in an important area,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “This is part of a wider effort to help taxpayers and businesses to help give them a fresh start with their tax obligations.”

Under the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP), tribes and tribally-owned businesses who meet the eligibility requirements outlined below and in Announcement 2011-64 can get substantial relief from federal payroll taxes they may have owed for the past if they prospectively treat workers as employees. If you’ve been mistakenly treating your workers or a class or group of workers as nonemployees or independent contractors, the VCSP gives you the opportunity to correct this error.

To be eligible, you must:

  • meet certain eligibility requirements outlined in Announcement 2011-64 and Form 8952 instructions;
  • apply to participate in VCSP by filing Form 8952, Application for Voluntary Classification Settlement Program; and
  • enter into a closing agreement with the IRS.

You can apply for the program at least 60 days before you want to begin treating your workers as employees.

If accepted into the program you will pay an amount effectively equaling just over ten percent of the wages paid to the reclassified workers for the past year. You will not owe interest or penalties, and your tribe or tribally-owned business will not be audited on payroll taxes related to these workers for prior years. Additionally, for the first three years under the program, you will be subject to a special six-year statute of limitations, rather than the usual three years that generally applies to payroll taxes.

Click here for full details and frequently asked questions regarding the VCSP. You can also view Announcement 2011-64 on



When Do You Need a Form W-8BEN?

What is a Form W-8BEN, Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for U.S. Tax Withholding, and when do you need it? Casino operations use it frequently, but other Tribal entities may also need this form any time they pay a foreign person. The payee can be a vendor, entertainer, patron, corporation, or representative of an organization.

Let’s talk about how Form W-8BEN applies to casino operations and gambling winnings.

For a casino operation, how do you verify if a winner is a resident or a nonresident alien? It does make a difference. Nonresident aliens who receive U.S. source gambling winnings generally must report and pay taxes on their winnings. However, withholding rules that apply to them differ from U.S. citizens and resident aliens.

Usually nonresident aliens are visitors from other countries temporarily residing or visiting on a short term basis in the U.S. - maybe a vacation, but not always.

In some cases, the winner’s passport or visa may not be available. If not, ask for a valid driver’s license or other current photo identification to establish identity. If the winner is a U.S. citizen or has a permanent resident card (green card), they won’t use a Form W-8BEN.

You would use a Form W-8BEN to help clarify tax status for nonresidents. The withholding and reporting requirements can depend on whether the U.S. has a tax treaty with the winner’s resident country. Otherwise, withholding is generally 30%. To claim a reduced withholding rate or other tax treaty benefits, the winner should enter his or her ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) on Form W8-BEN line 6. If the winner doesn’t have an ITIN or doesn’t enter it on line 6, the withholding rate is 30%.

A nonresident alien winner must submit a Form W-8BEN for the following reasons:

  • Establish foreign status
  • Claim status as the sole beneficiary
  • Claim any reduced (or exempt) withholding rate
  • Claim an exception to report the income

The winner should complete Part I (and Part II, if applicable), sign and date under penalties of perjury. Once you have the completed Form W-8BEN, you must complete Form 1042-S for filing and withholding requirements. Make sure you have an accurate and permanent foreign address. That’s where you will send the Form 1042-S and how you will report it to the IRS.

Remember, if the winner is not a U.S. resident (or the identification doesn’t establish U.S. citizenship or resident alien status) make sure you receive a completed, signed and dated Form W-8BEN. For more information review the Form W-8BEN Instructions on You can also review Publication 3908, Gaming Tax Law and Bank Secrecy Act Issues for Indian Tribal Governments.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact your ITG Specialist.


New Round of Outreach to Small Businesses and Practitioners About the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

News release IR-2011-90 reminds small businesses, small non-profit organizations and professional service providers that there is still time to claim the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, and encourages them to find out if they or their clients are eligible to claim the credit on their tax returns as the upcoming filing extension tax deadlines near.



FinCEN Proposes Mandatory Electronic Filing of Forms

On September 29, 2011, FinCEN announced a proposal to require mandatory electronic filing of FinCEN Form 103, Currency Transaction Report by Casinos and FinCEN Form 102, Suspicious Activity Report - Casinos and Card Clubs beginning June 30, 2012. When the proposal is finalized, casinos will have to register with FinCEN to become a BSA E-Filer.

E-Filing has many benefits which include the following:

  • Electronically and securely file discrete Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) forms
  • Send secure messages to FinCEN (and receive responses where appropriate)
  • Receive advisories and system updates from FinCEN

We recommend that you register with FinCEN for electronic filing as soon as possible so that you can meet the June 30, 2012 deadline if it goes into effect.

FinCEN is accepting comments until November 15, 2011. You can e-mail your comments to with the subject line, ‘‘Attention: BSA Required Electronic Filing,’’ in the body of the text.

For more information, you may visit the recent press release.

You may also be interested in the BSA E-Filing System Home and BSA E-Filing System - FAQs.


Year-end Reconciliation of Forms 941 and W-2

SSA and IRS Reconciliation Processes

As the Social Security Administration (SSA) processes your wage reports, it maintains a record of your total Social Security and Medicare wages and tips. The SSA compares these totals with what you report to the IRS on Form 941 returns. If the IRS and SSA find discrepancies, they will contact you and ask for additional wage evidence.

If the amount you reported to the SSA is more than what you reported to the IRS, the IRS may determine you have to pay more taxes. The IRS sends you a letter requesting an explanation. If you incorrectly prepared the return or didn’t file, you should send a corrected or original return with a letter of explanation. If you don’t respond to the IRS notice, then they can propose a tax increase. If you fail to resolve the discrepancy the IRS may assess penalties for filing incorrect reports.

If the amount you reported to the IRS is more than what you reported to the SSA, then the SSA wants to make sure your employees receive proper credit for their earnings. They examine some of these cases and make an effort to resolve the difference without contacting you.

When the SSA cannot resolve the discrepancy they send you a notice and questionnaire requesting the earnings data needed to resolve the case. If you don’t respond after 120 days, the SSA sends you a second notice. If you never respond, the IRS will contact you and if necessary may impose penalties.

Avoiding Reconciliation Notices

Before you give your employees their Form W-2s and before you file your 4th quarter Form 941, you should reconcile of the amounts reported on these forms. First, figure the total annual wages paid and the total federal income tax withheld from all four quarters of Form 941. Next, compute the total wages and total tax withheld from all Form W-2s. Compare the respective amounts. If you find a discrepancy, you should review your payroll records and identify the necessary adjustments to your Forms W-2s, 941s, or both.

You can use this table to help you reconcile your Form 941s and W-2s at year end. If there is a difference in the final column, you should review your payroll records and identify the necessary adjustment(s).



E-mail Scams

The IRS does not send unsolicited e-mails to taxpayers inquiring about their tax accounts or requesting sensitive personal and financial information.

Nevertheless, you might receive a fraudulent e-mail that may look like it came from the IRS. Sometimes it contains a real or made-up employee name, address and similar information to make an e-mail seem credible.

These e-mails are usually scams designed to get your personal and financial information - such as name, Social Security number, bank account and credit card or even PINs (Personal Identification Numbers). Scammers use the info to commit identity theft. With this info, they can empty your financial accounts, run up charges on your existing credit cards, apply for new loans, credit cards, services or benefits in your name, file fraudulent tax returns and more.

Typically, IRS impersonation scam e-mails state that the IRS needs certain personal and financial information to process a tax return, tax payment or refund. They may claim you are being audited. They may mention specific monetary amounts or genuine programs, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), to add credible detail to the scam. The e-mails often contain links or attachments to what appears to be the IRS website or an IRS form. However genuine in appearance, scammers design these phonies to elicit the information they are looking for.

A link in a scam e-mail may download malicious software onto your computer when clicked. The software searches out and sends back to the scammer personal and financial information contained on your computer or obtained through capturing keystrokes.

A scam that tricks someone into revealing their personal and financial data is identity theft. A scam that attempts to do this through e-mail is known as phishing. Find out more about IRS-impersonation phishing scams and how to recognize and report them to the IRS.

You should report any unsolicited e-mails claiming to be from the IRS or an IRS-related component to

For more information on consumer scams, see Protect Your Personal Information and Suspicious e-Mails and Identity Theft.

Scams about Electronic Federal Tax Payments (EFTPS)

EFTPS is a tax payment system that allows individuals and businesses to pay federal taxes electronically via the Internet or phone. It is committed to taxpayer privacy and uses industry-leading security practices and technology to protect taxpayer data.

If you make payments through EFTPS, look out for a scam e-mail about an electronic federal tax payment. The e-mail states that tax payments you made through EFTPS have been rejected. 

The e-mail directs you to a bogus link for a transaction report that when clicked downloads malicious software (malware) that infects your computer. The malware sends back to the scammer personal and financial information already contained on your computer or obtained through capturing keystrokes. The scammer uses this information to commit identity theft.

To avoid malware, do not click on any links, open any attachments or reply to the sender for any unsolicited e-mails you may receive about your tax account. Remember - the IRS and the Financial Management Service (the Treasury bureau that owns EFTPS) do not communicate payment information through e-mail.

If you responded to this scam and believe you may have become the victim of identity theft, find out what steps you can take.


EFTPS Payments

The Department of the Treasury provides a free service called the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). EFTPS enables Tribes, Tribal businesses and Tribal members to make all their federal tax payments electronically 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by the Internet or phone.

Using EFTPS to make federal tax payments benefits everyone. You can make tax payments 24 hours a day seven days a week from your home or office. You can avoid penalties due to payment-related errors. Because you enter all the information by the Internet or phone, you can accurately check the information you report. Plus, you’ll receive an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) acknowledgment number as a receipt.

EFTPS helps you schedule dates to make payments even when you are out of town or on vacation when they are due. You can schedule payments up to 120 days before you want to make your payment. There is nothing special to learn; whichever method you use, the system will let you know what you need to make a payment.

When scheduling a payment, choose the option that best describes the type of payment you are making:

  • Federal tax deposit
  • Payment with return
  • Payment due on an IRS Notice
  • Payment on a deficiency assessed by IRS
  • Payment on a penalty
  • Installment Payment

No one has access to your account except you. The system requires three unique things for you to access your account:

  • Social Security Number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Personal Identification Number (PIN)
  • Internet Password

Any questions? Call an EFTPS Customer Service Representative at:

  • 800-555-4477 for businesses
  • 800-316-6541 for individuals

You can also visit


What is a de minimis Fringe Benefit to an Employee?

A de minimis fringe benefit is any property or service you provide to employees that has so little value (taking into account how frequently you provide similar benefits to them) that accounting for it would be unreasonable or administratively impracticable. You can exclude the value of a de minimis fringe benefit you provide to employees from their wages. However, cash and cash equivalent fringe benefits (for example, use of gift card, charge card, or credit card), no matter how little, are never excludable as a de minimis benefit, except for occasional meal money or transportation fare.
Examples of de minimis fringe benefits include the following:

  • Occasional personal use of a company copying machine if you sufficiently control its use so that at least 85% of its use is for business purposes
  • Holiday gifts, other than cash or cash equivalents, with a low fair market value
  • Group-term life insurance payable on the death of an employee's spouse or dependent if the face amount is not more than $2,000
  • Meals - see Meals in Publication 15-B, Employers Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits
  • Occasional parties or picnics for employees and their guests
  • Occasional tickets for theater or sporting events
  • Transportation fare - see Transportation (Commuting) Benefits in Publication 15-B, Employers Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits.

Publication 15-B has additional information related to the reporting requirements of various other fringe benefits offered to employees. 


Are Prizes or Awards Taxable?

Have you ever won a prize or been given an award from your tribe or pueblo?
Did you know that the amount you receive may be subject to federal income tax?

Here's the test. Answer honestly, true or false, the way you would on your Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return:

  • If you receive money or merchandise from your tribe or pueblo you do NOT have to pay federal income tax on the amount received.
  • If you do not get a Form 1099-MISC for the amounts received you do not have to report it on your U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040.
  • Money or merchandise you receive from your tribe or pueblo are gifts and therefore are not taxable.
  • If you win a Pow-Wow prize you do not have to report it unless it is $600 or more.
  • Children less than 14 years old do not have to pay federal income tax on money or merchandise received from their tribe or pueblo.
  • The tribe or pueblo should report prizes and awards paid to EMPLOYEES on a Form 1099-MISC.

The correct answers to all of the statements above are FALSE.

You and your children must report all income received on Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.  You must pay taxes on “prizes or awards” even if you do not receive a Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income.  Money and merchandise are NOT considered gifts by the IRS.  Even Pow-Wow prizes (view our Pow-Wow article in the April edition of the ITG News) are taxable. 

As an employer you would report a “prize or award” payment to your employees on their Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement.  You must also include this payment as additional compensation on Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return. For your employee you withhold Social Security, Medicare and Income Tax. The dollar amount of cash “prize or award” are not considered de minimis and are reportable as additional wages.

The bottom line is, nearly everything you get is reportable and may be taxable.

So, the next time you win something, remember to make a mental note to report the prize or award on your Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.


Taxability of Gift Cards

A new trend has developed nationally within the business community. Businesses and governments are issuing gift cards instead of checks for services rendered. Gift cards are taxable; however, the type of worker determines how the income is taxed.

Gift Cards Paid to Employees

Many tribal entities provide gift certificates to employees rather than a check. During the holidays, store gift cards are provided for Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham.  Giving an actual turkey or a ham is a de minimus fringe benefit, which means that an employer can exclude the value from the employee's wages. However, cash and cash equivalent fringe benefits (for example, gift card, charge card, or credit card), no matter how little, are never excludable as a de minimis fringe benefit, except for occasional meal money or transportation fare. 

Rather than handling and storing those turkeys and hams, employers find it more convenient to provide their employees with a gift card. However, the gift card becomes a taxable benefit to their employees. The employer must now withhold federal income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. 

Gift Cards Paid to Tribal Members or Independent Contractors

If any number of gift cards you give an individual total $600 or more during the calendar year, you would report that amount on a Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income. If you don’t already have the taxpayer’s information, ask them to provide you with a completed Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) and Certification. For individuals who refuse or fail to provide their TIN, back-up withholding may apply.

Remember – as an employer you must report gift cards as taxable income.


Ten Things to Know About the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS)

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS. TAS helps taxpayers who have financial difficulties dues to problems with the IRS. TAS also helps those who believe an IRS system or procedure is not working as it should.

Here are ten things Indian Tribal Governments and every taxpayer, whether an individual, a business, an employer or other entity that deals with the IRS should know about TAS:

  1. The Taxpayer Advocate Service is "your voice at the IRS".
  2. Our service is free and tailored to meet your needs.
  3. You may be eligible for our help if you have tried to resolve your tax problem through normal IRS channels and have gotten nowhere, or you or your business face an immediate threat of adverse action.
  4. The worst thing you can do is nothing at all! Never ignore a notice or other correspondence from the IRS.
  5. We help taxpayers, whose problems are causing financial stress, including professional representation costs.
  6. If you qualify for our help, we’ll do everything we can to resolve your problem. TAS will assign an advocate who will be with you at every turn.
  7. We have at least one local taxpayer advocate office in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. To contact your local advocate, use any of the following options:
  8. The IRS must respect all taxpayers’ rights. Our tax toolkit at can help you understand these rights.
  9. TAS also handles large-scale or systemic problems that affect many taxpayers. If you know of one of these broad issues, please report it to us through our Systemic Advocacy Management System (SAMS) at  
  10. You can get updates on hot tax topics by:


Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Success Stories

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program assists taxpayers with preparing their tax returns. Through the program IRS Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communications (SPEC) partners with the office of Indian Tribal Governments (ITG) to assist Native Americans and Native Alaskans. The partnership has produced many successes.

The Cherokee Nation has been administering a VITA program for over 30 years preparing free tax returns in 14 Northeastern Oklahoma counties. The Cherokee Nation currently has 12 VITA sites and prepared over 1,700 tax returns this past filing season. VITA has recognized Ms. Sandy Long for her 30 years of service to the Cherokee Nation as a VITA Volunteer.

Last year the VITA Grant Program awarded the Cherokee Nation. The program is an IRS initiative designed to promote and support free tax preparation service for the underserved, low income populations. The VITA Grant Program provides funding to organizations so that VITA programs can extend services to underserved populations in hardest-to-reach areas, both urban and non-urban.

The Alaska Business Development Center (ABDC) conducts the Volunteer Tax & Loan Program. The program builds a collaborative team of entities from around Alaska to provide free tax assistance and related services to Native Alaskans. They target rural Native Alaskans who do not have access to quality tax services due to low income, language barriers and geographic location. This program prepared 3,294 returns in 2011.

A diverse and dynamic team of people contribute to ABDC’s Volunteer Tax & Loan Program’s success. Student and faculty volunteers from five educational institutions make up the team: the University of Alaska Anchorage, Ithaca College (New York), the University of Idaho, Gonzaga University (Washington) and the University of Montana. Additionally IRS agents, program alumni, ABDC staff and other community professionals volunteer their time to assist the program.

Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo (YDSP) in Texas filed 632 returns and offered financial education and Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). YDSP is a partner in the El Paso Coalition for Family Economic Progress which includes the El Paso Affordable Housing Credit Union.

White Earth Investment Initiative in Minnesota filed 465 returns and offered financial education and homebuyer education. It also opened bank accounts, offered credit counseling and maintains one of the few sites that offered Refund Anticipation Loan alternatives this year.

Chief Dull Knife College Cooperative Extension Service in Montana filed 294 tax returns. The service also supported the St. Labre Indian School VITA site (which filed 89 tax returns), assisted the Crow Agency Mobile VITA Site and partnered with Tax Help Montana. Additionally, it maintains a Community Development Financial Institution Program and is a Schedule C Pilot Site. It provided financial education, credit counseling, IDAs, and entrepreneur training. 

Native Community Finance in New Mexico is a Community Development Financial Institution. They offered financial education and IDAs. They hope to expand to serve all pueblos in New Mexico.

The St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council Inc. created the Akwesasne Housing Authority. As a Tribally-designated housing entity in New York, they filed 280 returns and plan to expand their asset-building services.

IRS SPEC and AARP Tax-Aide partnered with the Pala Band of Mission Indians and the Pala Casino Resort and Spa in California. During the 2011 tax season they assisted over 50 employees at the Pala Casino Resort with their tax returns and tax questions. 

The Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) prepared over 1,400 returns for employees and local community members in 2011. The Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) recognized GRIC in 2008, awarding them with the “Financial Literacy Program of the Year” for its VITA program. 

Volunteers with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe prepared over 560 tax returns during the 2011 filing season. Traveling to various remote districts, the tribe hopes to expand its volunteer base and establish fixed VITA sites throughout the community.

The Tohono O’odham Nation and its San Lucy District satellite office prepared 645 tax returns during the 2011 filing season. They plan to expand their VITA program to remote districts and set up special VITA days at their casinos to assist employees with the filing of their tax returns. The Tohono O’odham Nation is celebrating its 10th year in the VITA program.

Another VITA site celebrating its 10th year, the Colorado River Indian Tribes, prepared 300 tax returns during the 2011 filing season. Individuals traveled 60 miles to have their returns prepared by this VITA site. 

Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Arizona has had a VITA Program since 2004. During the 2011 filing season they prepared 223 tax returns.

Within the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada, three tribal communities - Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Walker River Paiute Tribe and Duck Valley Paiute Tribe - participate in the VITA Program. The Pyramid Lake and Walker River Tribes have been preparing free tax returns for their community for over 10 years. Last year they helped more than 250 households.  Duck Valley provides services through the Housing Authority and served 142 people. 

If you are interested in becoming a success story for your community and wish to establish a VITA site, please contact your local ITG Specialist or SPEC representative. For any questions about the VITA Program contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040, your local IRS SPEC representative, or ITG Specialist.  


ITG Outreach Successes


As part of their Tribal administrator training, the Tanana Chiefs Conference invited ITG to present a half-day session on How to Treat Temporary, Occasional, Part-Time and Miscellaneous Workers. ITG provided training at the Wedgewood Resort in Fairbanks on August 11, 2011. Forty attendees represented 25 tribal governments.

ITG held an Advanced Payroll Topics workshop on September 19-23 at the IRS office in Anchorage. During the five-day workshop, 35 attendees represented 28 tribal governments. Our Specialists presented the workshop assisted by local guest speakers. Alaska’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development provided a person from the Wage and Hour administration who discussed labor laws dealing with the wage payments to workers.  Another guest speaker from the Anchorage Police Department discussed fraud awareness.

Other covered topics:

  • Scholarships
  • Loans to Members
  • Travel and Honorariums to Non-members
  • Third Party Sick Pay
  • Tips &Tip Reporting
  • Fringe Benefits
  • Foreign Workers
  • Job Training Payments/Compensation
  • Money Service Businesses
  • Payroll Advances
  • IRS Collections & Notices

We are available upon request to present similar training throughout Alaska as long as

  • our audience consists of sufficient tribal government representation to
  • justify our time and travel costs; and
  • we have free space to hold the training.

If you are interested in co-sponsoring similar training in Alaska, encourage your regional nonprofit association or other local organizations to sponsor a workshop and provide a venue for the training. For more information, please e-mail Judy Pearson or call 907-271-6949.

Pacific Northwest

ITG conducted a Payroll Tax/Information Returns workshop in Fife, Washington on September 13-14 at the Emerald Queen Casino.

We also offered a Gaming Information Returns workshop on September 15.

Between the two workshops 39 individuals represented 6 tribal governments and 8 tribally-owned casinos.

ITG Specialists from the Vancouver, Washington office covered the following topics:

  • Penalties and Interest
  • Independent Contractors Versus Employees
  • IRS Collection Process
  • Calculating Employment Tax Liabilities
  • How to Handle Travel Expenses
  • Employment Tax Deposit Schedules
  • Preparation and Filing Forms 941, 945, W-2, 1099
  • Year-end Reconciliation of Forms 941 and W-2
  • How to File W-2s Electronically with the Social Security Administration
  • Tax Reporting Requirements Related to Gaming Activities

If you are interested in co-sponsoring a similar employment tax workshop in the Pacific Northwest, please e-mail Douglas Wellington or call (503) 415-7315.


ITG presented several Title 31 gaming presentations in June at various Tribally-owned casinos in Colorado, Arizona and California. They offered training classes for both employees and management. Nearly 600 individuals attended the sessions.

The participants provided favorable feedback and actively participated by asking excellent questions. Covered topics for the employee training sessions included:

  • Historical Background
  • Terminology and Definitions
  • Suspicious Activities and Money Laundering
  • Forms
  • Record Keeping Requirements
  • Penalties
  • Problems
  • Title 31 Examinations

Covered topics for the management training session included all topics listed above and:

  • Requirements
  • Common Issues discovered during Title 31 Tribal casino exams
  • Updates in recent recordkeeping requirements

We also held six different Basic Employment Tax Training workshops during July and August. In the Albuquerque and Phoenix IRS offices, ITG Specialists presented customized training sessions to meet various tribal entities’ needs. 

Throughout the six different training sessions approximately 165 individuals attended.  Guest speakers from the Social Security Administration, IRS SPEC (Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication) and the IRS collections department also presented at each of the training sessions. The workshops concluded with a riveting game of Employment Tax Bingo complete with exciting prizes for all winners.

Covered Topics:

  • Defining Employees vs. Independent Contractors
  • Computing the correct taxes for payroll
  • Completing Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return
  • Making federal tax deposits
  • Due dates on tax returns
  • Completing Forms W-2/W-3 and 1099/1096
  • Reconciling Forms 941 and W-2 at year end
  • Avoiding Penalties
  • Meeting rules for an Accountable Plan for Per Diem & Travel Reimbursements
  • The IRS Collection Process
  • How the IRS and Social Security Administration interact
  • Introduction to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, how to get involved


ITG has been actively conducting outreach at conferences in both Southern and Northern California. At two recent highly-attended events, we presented material concerning Title 31.

The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) Conference occurred on June 29 at the Blue Lake Casino in Humboldt County. Although the conference also covered material unrelated to Title 31, NIGC invited us to share information on this topic. Western Region Group Manager Gil Akers presented ITG and Title 31. His presentation focused on Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) exam findings and ITG Specialists’ roles. Seventy-five key representatives from both Tribal gaming commissions and casinos comprised the audience. The audience appreciated an ITG presence. We thank NIGC and specifically Regional Director Eric Schalansky for welcoming us to their event. We look forward to future partnership efforts in getting the needed information to our shared customer base.

The two-day Anti Money Laundering (AML) Symposium took place at Pechanga Casino & Resort, in Temecula (Riverside County) California.

The symposium offered presentations by the following:

  • ITG
  • Financial Crimes Enforcement Network(FinCEN)
  • BSA Exam
  • FBI, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Secret Service, IRS Criminal Investigation
  • California State Bureau of Gambling Control
  • California Tribal Gaming Commissions
  • Industry Consultants

NIGA Chairman Ernest Stevens gave an inspiring keynote speech focusing on the importance of communication.

Approximately 375 attendees represented Tribes, card rooms, state gaming agencies, and law enforcement, primarily from California and Arizona. We were very fortunate to have Len Senia (FinCEN) and Jason Carmen (IRS BSA Group Manager) involved in several sessions at Pechanga. They served as panel members on multiple topics. Mr. Senia provided a presentation on Regulations & Law. He also teamed up with Mr. Carmen and others covering compliance and reporting, form preparation and filing and money laundering red flags.

Mr. Carmen and Scott Karafin (ITG Specialist) presented What to Expect in BSA Casino Examinations: Role of ITG, the Exam, Findings and Follow-up. Topics included ITG’s role in conducting Title 31 outreach and compliance checks and facilitating BSA exams.

Questions we addressed included:

  • What is the scope and content of T-31 outreach, compliance checks, and BSA Exams?
  • What data does the BSA examiner review and analyze?
  • What exam techniques do we use?
  • What records and data do we look at?
  • How important is the written program and what should the content entail?
  • What should a risk assessment include?
  • What findings have we seen?
  • What does the IRS follow-up involve? 

Andrew Hofstetter (Chair, Santa Ysabel Gaming Commission), Alfonso Martinez (Director of Internal Audit, Sycuan Gaming Commission), and David Vialpanda (Special Agent in Charge, California Bureau of Gambling Control) organized the AML symposium. We appreciate being included as part of the speaker and panel member team. The feedback received at this event and the NIGC Conference at Blue Lake shows that partnerships such as these provide an excellent method of bringing the industry together and approaching compliance from multiple perspectives. 

If you are interested in having an employment tax workshop session or Title 31 training session at your casino or at an IRS office location, please contact your ITG Specialist.


Upcoming Arizona Training Opportunities

ITG will be offering the following workshops at the IRS office located at 300 West Congress Street in Tucson:

Basic Employment Tax Workshop – offered twice!
October 25-26, 2011; 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
October 27-28, 2011; 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.


  • Defining Employees vs. Independent Contractors
  • Computing the Correct Taxes for Payroll
  • Completing Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return
  • Making Federal Tax Deposits
  • Due Dates on Tax Returns
  • Completing Forms W-2/W-3 and 1099/1096
  • Reconciling Forms 941 and W-2 at Year End
  • Avoiding Penalties
  • Meeting Rules for an Accountable Plan for Per Diem & Travel Reimbursements
  • The IRS Collection Process
  • How the IRS and Social Security Administration Interact
  • Introduction to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program - How to Get Involved

Advanced Payroll Topics Workshop
November 15-18, 2011, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.


  • Detecting Fraud
  • Foreign Workers
  • Fringe Benefits
  • IRS Collection and Notices
  • Job Training Payments/Compensation
  • Loans to Tribal Members
  • Money Service Businesses (MSB)
  • Non-employee Honorariums & Travel Reimbursements Payroll Advances
  • Accountable and Non-accountable Travel Accounts
  • Reporting 401-K Contributions on Forms 941 and W-2
  • Scholarships
  • Third-Party Sick Leave
  • Tips & Tip Reporting

Space is limited; we can accept up to 40 reservations for each session. Please e-mail Tricia Miller or Michelle Risk for additional information or to register. Please respond by October 14 for the Basic Employment Tax Workshop; November 3 for the Advanced Payroll Topics Workshop.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 12-Jun-2015