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With the 2018 tax deadline rapidly approaching, taxpayers will face fraudulent attempts by scam artists using the April 15 deadline as a way to gain financial and personal information. These attempts are made through a wide range of elaborate schemes via a number of tactics - especially phone scams.

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In 2018, the federal tax withholding tables changed because of lower individual tax rates in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. As a result, individuals received larger paychecks because of the lower rates. A downfall of this was individuals potentially not withholding enough taxes to cover their tax bill in April and being subject to underpayment penalties.

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As tax season rages on, cyber criminals are targeting taxpayers with new scams. After a 60 percent jump in so-called phishing scams in 2018, the IRS is warning us to be extra vigilant this year. Hackers are using the advancements in technology to target taxpayers year-round but tax season is prime phishing season.

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The IRS is requiring certain verification of identities during phone calls in an attempt to prevent tax fraud. Taxpayers and tax professionals must have the required verification in order for the IRS to answer questions regarding certain tax items. By law, the IRS telephone assistors will only speak with the taxpayer or the taxpayer's legally designated representative.

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With the government shutdown over and the IRS reopened, what can be expected? Currently, the IRS has an estimated five million unanswered inquires that took place during the shutdown. Additionally, it is estimated that they have already received several million tax returns since the filing season started on January 28.

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The centralized partnership audit regime rules are now in effect and change the way partnerships are audited by the IRS. These new rules require the actual partnership to pay any deficiencies resulting from any audit adjustments. This means that the IRS will apply the top tax rates to any audit adjustments to calculate deficiencies, without regard to any partner level attribute that may have otherwise reduced the tax due from an audit adjustment.

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With much of the rhetoric in Washington D.C. during the past couple of weeks over funding of the border wall and the current government shut down, employers still may have reporting requirements for 2018 under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Act requires insurers, self-insuring employers, and those employers with 50 or more full-time equivalents (FTEs) to report certain information to the IRS and Social Security Administration using forms 1095-B, 1095-C and 1094.

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The IRS issued Notice 2019-2, updating optional standard mileage rates for business use of a vehicle.

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The IRS released its proposed regulations on November 23 to include the increased basic exclusion amount (BEA) per the Tax Cuts and Job Acts (TCJA).

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As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law in December 2017, the new law grants a tax credit for 2018 and 2019 for employers that voluntarily offer paid family and medical leave.

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