Here you'll find items of current interest — new programs, recent guidance or timely reminders.
Changes to the ITIN Program
As announced in August 2016, all ITINs not used on a federal income tax return at least once in the last three consecutive tax years will expire at the end of the year, based on the 2015 PATH Act. Additionally, all ITINs issued before 2013 will begin expiring this year, starting with those with middle digits of 78 and 79. All expired ITINs must be renewed before being used on a U.S. tax return. No action is needed by ITIN holders who don’t need to file a tax return in 2017.
Also, there are new documentation requirements when applying for or renewing an ITIN for certain dependents. Dependents without a date of U.S. entry on their passports from countries other than Mexico or Canada will need to prove residency before an ITIN can be issued.
Consumer Alerts on Tax Scams
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.
Note that the IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
Examples of recent scams include:
- Fake IRS tax bills related to the Affordable Care Act. Generally, the scam involves a fraudulent version of CP2000 notices for tax year 2015. See more.
- Telephone scammers targeting students and parents during the back-to-school season and demanding payments for non-existent taxes, such as the “federal student tax.” See more.
- “Robo-calls” where scammers leave urgent callback requests through the phone telling taxpayers to call back to settle their “tax bill.” In the latest trend, IRS impersonators demand payments on iTunes and other gift cards. See more.
Some Refunds Delayed in 2017
Due to changes in the law, starting in 2017, the IRS can’t issue refunds before Feb. 15, 2017, for returns that claim the Earned Income Credit (EIC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). This applies to the entire refund, not just the portion associated with these credits. As in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing tax returns once the filing season begins. All taxpayers should file as usual, and tax return preparers should also submit returns as they normally do. Even though the IRS cannot issue refunds for some early filers until at least Feb. 15, the IRS reminds taxpayers that most refunds will still be issued within the normal timeframe: 21 days or less, after being accepted for processing by the IRS.
Tax Fraud Scams
Don't fall victim to scams involving tax fraud. 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.
Education is the best way to avoid the pitfalls of these “too good to be true” tax scams. For additional information, see:
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.
For Same-Sex Couples and Certain Domestic Partners
The following questions and answers provide information to individuals of the same sex who are lawfully married (same-sex spouses).
- Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Individuals of the Same Sex Who Are Married Under State Law
The following questions and answers provide information to individuals of the same sex and opposite sex who are in registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, or other similar formal relationships that are not marriages under state law. These individuals are not considered as married or spouses for federal tax purposes.
- Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Registered Domestic Partners and Individuals in Civil Unions
Additional information on these issues may be found in Notice 2014-37, Notice 2014-19, Notice 2013-61, Revenue Ruling 2013-17 and news release IR-2013-72, Treasury and IRS Announce That All Legal Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Recognized For Federal Tax Purposes; Ruling Provides Certainty, Benefits and Protections Under Federal Tax Law for Same-Sex Married Couples.
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.
Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which was passed as part of the HIRE Act, generally requires that foreign financial Institutions and certain other non-financial foreign entities report on the foreign assets held by their U.S. account holders or be subject to withholding on withholdable payments. The HIRE Act also contained legislation requiring U.S. persons to report, depending on the value, their foreign financial accounts and foreign assets.
At the end of 2015, two laws were enacted that contain sections affecting taxpayers in 2017, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act) and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act).
- The PATH Act, enacted on December 18, 2015, contains the two following provisions of interest to taxpayers:
- The FAST Act, enacted on Dec. 4, 2015, contains the following two provisions of interest to taxpayers: