Submitted by Richard Allen, EA, AFSP
On July 24 2020, the IRS held a virtual meeting with about 40 tax practitioners in the Midwest. IAAI representatives were Heather Johnson EA, Raymond Heinen EA, Lawrence Odelson, CPA, and Richard Allen EA.
Here are some of the highlights of the 3 hour meeting:
1. TAXPAYER ADVOCATE SERVICE. Six new employees were hired for TAS in Chicago. Operations in the Kansas City Service Center resumed about mid-June. They were working on postal mail being held during the quarantine. Some mail items took 3 months to process into their systems. TAS is investigating why a number of 2019 refunds are in a “hold” status for some time. Refer any long term “hold” cases to TAS at:
IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service
230 S. Dearborn St. Room 2820, Stop-1005 CHI
Chicago, IL 60604
Phone: (312) 292-3800
Fax: (855) 833-6443
Know of a tax problem that affects more than one taxpayer?
You can help the Taxpayer Advocate Service tackle the “big-picture” problems in the IRS or the tax law by reporting them to us. They have a systems for reporting such issues. It is called SAMS (Systematic Advocacy Management Systems). Refer to:
These systemic issues:
• Always affect multiple taxpayers;
• Don’t apply to just one taxpayer (but if you personally have an unresolved IRS problem, TAS may be able to help);
• Involve IRS systems, policies, and procedures;
• Involve protecting taxpayer rights, reducing burden, ensuring fair treatment, or providing essential taxpayer services.
2. CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION. Criminal scam and fraud perpetrators are able to use the “dark web” to obtain personal information on potential targets. This information is sold by groups who have obtained such information through legal and illegal sources (data breaches). They sell this
information in “packages” as if they were selling something on eBay. Payments are often made in bitcoin. Phishing emails are still the #1 source of data breaches. The IRS has a good Publication 4557 Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, with 18 pages on how to
safeguard your own data from targets. For more information go to:
3. CORRESPONDENCE & EXAMINATIONS. They are playing “catch up” with notices they sent out before the quarantine, and the taxpayer replies. Call Practitioner Priority Services at 866-860-4259 to talk about specific notices – option # 6 is for the Exam unit. Have a valid power of
attorney handy. For Disagreements and Reconsideration refer to IRS Publication 3598 What You Should Know About the Audit Reconsideration Process. First, be sure to check the taxpayer address and the IRS mailing address – letters to the IRS are often sent to an incorrect address —
and may float around to find the correct unit to handle. CAUTION: If a taxpayer asks for the Audit Reconsideration process, it may take 6-12 months for a reply – and make sure the Reconsideration request is sent to the address on the IRS Letter 525 Examination Report.
4. RETURN PREPARER OFFICE. Some preparer statistics:
• Active PTINs 777,000
• Enrolled Agents 57,000
• CPAs 209,000
• AFSP 59,000 Annual Filing Season Participants
• Attorneys 29,000
• No Credentials 486,000
Beginning in mid-October 2020, the IRS will be charging for PTIN renewals, after winning a court case about fees. Renewal fee will be $35.95. Previous IRS PTIN fees paid are still in litigation. Credentialed tax professionals (with EA, CPA, AFSP or Attorney designations) are listed by the IRS at https://irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf Only the Name, Credential, Town, and ZIP code are listed.
Credentialed tax practitioners can update the online information when they log into their PTIN account at the IRS Tax Professional PTIN System on irs.gov. Logging into your PTIN account is a good way to check education reported to the IRS for the current year and previous years.
Since 2018, the IRS has used the following logo. DO NOT USE EARIER VERSIONS. Download at www.irs.gov/ea
5. TAX IDENTITY THEFT AND DATA BREACHES. There was an extensive presentation about protecting your own business system from data breaches, and identity theft. Refer to the Publication 4557 Safeguarding Taxpayer Data for more details. A data breach can be very expensive to the tax practitioner — and could severely harm the practitioner’s own reputation with the clients. Consider cyber insurance – available for many casualty insurance products.
Also refer to Publication 1345, Handbook for Authorized IRS e-file Providers of Individual Income Tax Returns. Pub 1345 refers to the IRS mandated six (6) security, privacy, and business standards to supplement the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to better serve taxpayers and protect their information collected, processed and stored by Online Providers of individual income tax returns.
Here are some suggestions to prevent a data breach ON YOUR SYSTEM.
a. Change your router password from the default password indicated on the router.
b. Use passwords that are a combination of numbers, CAPITAL LETTERS, lower case, and symbols (\/!@#$%^&*). Deliberately misspell (like “mispail”) words. Use made up words not in any dictionary.
c. Use layers of passwords, with different criteria for difference kinds of programs. This means that when someone looks at all the passwords, they each look very different from one another.
d. Assume that a perpetrator could be parked in front of your home or office to steal information from your computer.
e. Turn off your computer system when you leave your home or office.
f. Change the name of your Wi-Fi system so neighbors cannot identify you.
g. Change the default transmission distance on your wireless router to a lower distance.
h. For your tax software systems, use two-factor authorizations each time you log in. This is almost always available in tax software.