Category Archives: Uncategorized

The American Rescue Plan Act


The IRS is reviewing implementation plans for the newly enacted American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Additional information about a new round of Economic Impact Payments, the expanded Child Tax Credit, including advance payments of the Child Tax Credit, and other tax provisions will be made available as soon as possible on The IRS strongly urges taxpayers to not file amended returns related to the new legislative provisions or take other unnecessary steps at this time.

The IRS will provide taxpayers with additional guidance on those provisions that could affect their 2020 tax return, including the retroactive provision that makes the first $10,200 of 2020 unemployment benefits nontaxable. For those who haven’t filed yet, the IRS will provide a worksheet for paper filers and work with software industry to update current tax software so that taxpayers can determine how to report their unemployment income on their 2020 tax return. For those who received unemployment benefits last year and have already filed their 2020 tax return, the IRS emphasizes they should not file an amended return at this time, until the IRS issues additional guidance.




The IRS has expanded the Identity Protection PIN Opt-In Program to all taxpayers who can verify their identities. The Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) is a six-digit code known only to the taxpayer and to the IRS. It helps prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns using a taxpayers’ personally identifiable information. “This is a way to, in essence, lock your tax account, and the IP PIN serves as the key to opening that account,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Electronic returns that do not contain the correct IP PIN will be rejected, and paper returns will go through additional scrutiny for fraud.”

The IRS launched the IP PIN program nearly a decade ago to protect confirmed identity theft victims from ongoing tax-related fraud. In recent years, the IRS expanded the program to specific states where taxpayers could voluntarily opt into the IP PIN program. Now, the voluntary program is going nationwide.

Taxpayers who want an IP PIN for 2021 should go to and use the Get an IP PIN tool. This online process will require taxpayers to verify their identities using the Secure Access authentication process if they do not already have an IRS account. See for what information you need to be successful. There is no need to file a Form 14039, an Identity Theft Affidavit, to opt into the program.

Once taxpayers have authenticated their identities, their 2021 IP PIN immediately will be revealed to them. Once in the program, this PIN must be used when prompted by electronic tax returns or entered by hand near the signature line on paper tax returns. All taxpayers are encouraged to first use the online IP PIN tool to obtain their IP PIN. Taxpayers who cannot verify their identities online do have options.
Taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is $72,000 or less may complete Form 15227 PDF , Application for an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number, and mail or fax to the IRS. An IRS customer service representative will contact the taxpayer and verify their identities by phone. Taxpayers should have their prior year tax return at hand for the verification process.

Taxpayers who verify their identities through this process will have an IP PIN mailed to them the following tax year. This is for security reasons. Once in the program, the IP PIN will be mailed to these taxpayers each year. Taxpayers who cannot verify their identities online or by phone and who are ineligible for file Form 15227 can contact the IRS and make an appointment at a Taxpayer Assistance Center to verify their identities in person. Taxpayers should bring two forms of identification, including one government-issued picture identification. Taxpayers who verify their identities through the in-person process will have an IP PIN mailed to them within three
weeks. Once in the program, the IP PIN will be mailed to these taxpayers each year.




The IRS is warning of a new text scam created by thieves that trick people into disclosing bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payment. The IRS reminds taxpayers that neither the IRS nor state agencies will ever text taxpayers asking for bank account information so that an EIP deposit may be made.

“Criminals are relentlessly using COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments as cover to try to trick taxpayers out of their money or identities,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “This scam is a new twist on those we’ve been seeing much of this year. We urge people to remain alert to these types of scams.”

The scam text message states: “You have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment into your account. Continue here to accept this payment…” The text includes a link to a fake phishing web address.
This fake phishing URL, which appears to come from a state agency or relief organization, takes recipients to a fraudulent website that impersonates the Get My Payment website. Individuals who visit the fraudulent website and then enter their personal and
financial account information will have their information collected by these scammers.

People who receive this text scam should take a screen shot of the text message that they received and then include the screenshot in an email to with the following information:
• Date/Time/Timezone that they received the text message.
• The number that appeared on their Caller ID.
• The number that received the text message.

The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails. The IRS does not call people with threats of jail or lawsuits, nor does it demand tax payments on gift cards.




On August 8, 2020, the President issued a memorandum directing the IRS to use its authority under IRC section 7508A to defer the withholding, deposit, and payment of the employee’s share of Social Security taxes (the 6.2% FICA tax that is withheld from employee wages). The IRS recently issued guidance that leave a number of questions unanswered or simply create more confusion.

Of particular interest is what is not included in Notice 2020-65:

1) The notice does not provide any elections for employees. The relief provision applies to the employer, not the employee. The notice identifies the employer as the Affected Taxpayer. There is no option for the employee to make an election to have the taxes continue to be withheld, and does not require the employee to make an affirmative election to have the withholding of taxes deferred. Employees who have their take home pay temporarily increased by not having Social Security taxes withheld will experience a 12.4% drop in take home pay after January 1, 2021 when double the amount of Social Security taxes begins to be withheld.

2) The notice does not state whether or not the deferral of taxes is voluntary. It simply states that the withholding and payment deadline is deferred. IRC section 7508A allows the IRS to extend the filing and payment deadline for taxes due to a presidentially declared disaster, but does not require taxpayers to delay the filing and payment of their taxes. The law appears to allow employers to continue to withhold and pay the tax at the time the wages are paid. In fact, the IRS notice specifically states: “If necessary, the Affected Taxpayer may make arrangements to otherwise
collect the total Applicable Taxes from the employee.” An employer may decide it is too big a risk not to withhold the tax and that it is necessary to continue to withhold the taxes from employee wages to insure that the funds will be available to pay the tax when payment is due.

3) The notice does not address the related employer rules.

4) The notice does not address how the deferral of withholding and payment of taxes will be reported on Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return.

5) The notice does not address a situation where the employee separates from service prior to the employer’s ability to withhold the taxes from employee wages. A footnote in the IRS notice says the deposit obligation for employee Social Security tax does not arise until the tax is withheld. Accordingly, by postponing the time for withholding the tax, the deposit obligation is delayed. However, Regulation section 31.3102-1(a) says the employer must collect the tax from the employee in some way, even if the wages are paid in something other than money, and pay over the tax to the government. The guidance does not provide any liability relief for
employers who are unable to eventually collect the tax from employees who quit prior to January 1, 2021.

6) The notice does not address a situation where the employer decides to not defer the withholding and payment of the employee’s share of Social Security tax, and then Congress later decides to forgive the tax liability. There will likely be political pressure on Congress to enact payroll tax forgiveness to avoid a decline in employee take home pay after January 1, 2021. By not taking advantage of the relief provided for in the notice, employees could eventually lose out on tax forgiveness.

7) The notice does not explain how the relief benefits the employer, even though the relief applies to the employer. By not withholding the tax, the employee’s take home pay is increased. Thus, the employer’s net payroll cost savings is zero. The relief is clearly for the employee, even though it is the employer who decides whether or not to take advantage of the relief. The employer’s relief appears to be limited to making the employee happy due to an increase in take home pay, which could be an incentive for the employer to take advantage of the relief.


Going Paperless


If taxpayers are still keeping old tax returns and receipts stuffed in a shoebox in the back of the closet, they might want to rethink that approach.  Everything you have to track for the IRS can be done digitally.  Since there’s no real downside to holding onto electronic records, you can keep digital records indefinitely.  Now is a good time to switch to e-delivery of all financial records. Benefits include quicker delivery, better security, easier to organize and retrieve, saves time and reduces paper clutter.  Most financial institutions offer up to 7 years of retrieval.

Generally, the IRS recommends keeping copies of tax returns and supporting documents at least three years. Some believe the rule of thumb for documents should be up to seven years in case a taxpayer needs to file an amended return or if questions arise. Keep records relating to real estate up to seven years after disposing of the property.

Health care information statements should be kept with other tax records. Taxpayers do not need to send these forms to IRS as proof of health coverage. The records taxpayers should keep include records of any employer-provided coverage, premiums paid, advance payments of the premium tax credit received and type of coverage. Taxpayers should keep these — as they do other tax records — generally for three years after they file their tax returns.

The IRS accepts digital documentation, so if you’re going paperless, you may dispose of paper records.  Be sure to shred your paper since the information may be confidential.  If you’re throwing things out and you’re not sure, scan it and then throw it out.