Friday, June 16, 2017

IRS Warns of New Phone Scam Involving Bogus Certified Letters; Reminds People to Remain Vigilant Against Scams, Schemes this Summer


IR-2017-107, June 15, 2017


The Internal Revenue Service today warned people to beware of a new scam linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), where fraudsters call to demand an immediate tax payment through a prepaid debit card. This scam is being reported across the country, so taxpayers should be alert to the details.

In the latest twist, the scammer claims to be from the IRS and tells the victim about two certified letters purportedly sent to the taxpayer in the mail but returned as undeliverable. The scam artist then threatens arrest if a payment is not made through a prepaid debit card. The scammer also tells the victim that the card is linked to the EFTPS system when, in fact, it is entirely controlled by the scammer. The victim is also warned not to contact their tax preparer, an attorney or their local IRS office until after the tax payment is made.

“This is a new twist to an old scam,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Just because tax season is over, scams and schemes do not take the summer off. People should stay vigilant against IRS impersonation scams. People should remember that the first contact they receive from IRS will not be through a random, threatening phone call.”

EFTPS is an automated system for paying federal taxes electronically using the Internet or by phone using the EFTPS Voice Response System. EFTPS is offered free by the U.S. Department of Treasury and does not require the purchase of a prepaid debit card. Since EFTPS is an automated system, taxpayers won’t receive a call from the IRS. In addition, taxpayers have several options for paying a real tax bill and are not required to use a specific one.
Tell Tale Signs of a Scam

The IRS (and its authorized private collection agencies) will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes. All tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury and checks should never be made payable to third parties.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

For anyone who doesn’t owe taxes and has no reason to think they do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the call. Use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page. Alternatively, call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.

For anyone who owes tax or thinks they do:

  • View your tax account information online at IRS.gov to see the actual amount you owe. You can then also review your payment options.
  • Call the number on the billing notice, or
  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help.

The IRS does not use email, text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds. For more information, visit the “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” page on IRS.gov. Additional information about tax scams is available on IRS social media sites, including YouTube videos.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Smart Financial Gifts for College Grads

Graduation season is here, which means you have gifts to consider.  Although there are plenty of options, here are three invaluable suggestions that can help college grads achieve financial success.

Contribute to a retirement account

You can fund the college grad’s Roth individual retirement account (Roth IRA) – which is a great way to help a graduate build a nest egg.  There is no minimum age or balance requirement to open a Roth IRA.  As long as he or she earns from a job, you can fund the Roth IRA up to the legal total contribution limit of $5,500 (for 2017) or the amount of his or her earnings, whichever is less. Your gift will be made with after tax dollars and will grow tax free. After the account has been open for a minimum of five years and your grad reaches age 59 1/2, the earnings can be withdrawn tax free.
Give shares of stock
If you gift shares of stock you own, you can help your graduate build an interest in the stock market and he or she can develop investment management skills.  On the date the stock ownership transfers, your cost basis will also transfer to the graduate and a new holding period will begin.  When the appreciated stock is sold, any capital gains will be taxed at his or her rate – and recent graduates will typically be in a lower tax bracket.

Pay for a session with a financial advisor

This gift can be very useful to a college graduate trying to understand budgeting, student loan payments, 401(k) plan contributions, housing, and credit card management.  A session with a financial advisor can help a recent grad navigate his or her financial world and establish good financial habits that last a lifetime. 
Although these ideas are general in nature, it is always a good idea to understand the tax implications that apply to your unique situation.  Remember to discuss your plans with a tax advisor before you give a gift.  Call 847-580-4100 to talk to a KOS Tax Professional today!

Best of luck and congratulations to you and your graduate!

Friday, June 2, 2017

The June KOS Bottom Line Bulletin is Available!

If you haven't already, check out the June KOS "Bottom Line Bulletin" Newsletter!  This month it features articles on Midyear Financial Strategies, and Reasons to Keep in Touch with Your KOS Advisor Throughout the Year.  The newsletter is also filled with pertinent tax and financial information for individuals and businesses, and offers highlights about our firm.

 You can view our newsletter on our website at  http://www.koscpa.com/newsletters/bottom-line-bulletin-june-2017/attachment/june-2017-newsletter/