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How taxpayers can avoid getting caught by phishing scams

IRS Tax Tip 2018-186, December 4, 2018Data thieves don’t take a break during the holidays. In fact, the IRS warns taxpayers that the agency is seeing a large increase in bogus email schemes that seek to steal money or tax data.The most common way for cybercriminals to steal money, bank account information, passwords, credit cards and Social Security numbers is to simply ask for them. Every day, people fall victim to phishing scams or phone scams that cost them their time and their cash.Here are a few steps taxpayers can take to protect against phishing and other email scams. When reading emails, people should: Be vigilant and skeptical. Never open a link or attachment from an unknown or suspicious source. Even if the email is from a known source, the recipient should approach with caution. Cybercrooks are good at acting like trusted businesses, friends and family. This even includes the IRS and others in the tax business.Double check the email address. Thieves may have compromised a friend’s email address. They might also be spoofing the address with a slight change in text. For example, using narne@example.com instead of name@example.com.  Merely changing the “m” to an “r” and “n” can trick people.Remember that the IRS doesn't initiate spontaneous contact with taxpayers by email to ask for personal or financial information. This includes asking for information via text messages and social media channels. The IRS does not call taxpayers with aggressive threats of lawsuits or arrests.Not click lick on hyperlinks in suspicious emails. When in doubt, users should not use hyperlinks and go directly to the source’s main web page. They should also remember that no legitimate business or organization will ask for sensitive financial information by email.Use security software to protect against malware and viruses found in phishing emails. Some security software can help identity suspicious websites that are used by cybercriminals.Use strong passwords to protect online accounts. Experts recommend the use of a passphrase, instead of a password, use a minimum of 10 digits, including letters, numbers and special characters.Use multi-factor authentication when offered. Two-factor authentication means that in addition to entering a username and password, the user must enter a security code This code is usually sent as a text to the user’s mobile phone. Even if a thief manages to steal usernames and passwords, it’s unlikely the crook would also have a victim’s phone.Report phishing scams. Taxpayers can forward suspicious emails to . Full Article

Tax relief for victims of severe storms in wisconsin

Tax Relief for Victims of Severe Storms in WisconsinWI-2018-07, October 19, 2018WISCONSIN — Victims of severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, flooding, and landslides that took place beginning on Aug. 17, 2018 in Wisconsin may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service.The President has declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Wisconsin. Following the recent disaster declaration for individual assistance issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the IRS announced today that affected taxpayers in certain counties will receive tax relief.Individuals who reside or have a business in Crawford, Dane, Juneau, La Crosse, Monroe, Richland, Sauk, and Vernon counties may qualify for tax relief.The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after Aug. 17, 2018 and before Dec. 17, 2018, are granted additional time to file through Dec. 17, 2018. This includes taxpayers who had a valid extension to file their 2017 return due to run out on Oct. 15, 2018. It also includes the quarterly estimated income tax payments due on Sept. 17, 2018 and the quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on Oct. 31, 2018. It also includes tax-exempt organizations that operate on a calendar-year basis and had an automatic extension due to run out on Nov. 15, 2018.In addition, penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after Aug. 17, 2018, and before Sept. 3, 2018, will be abated as long as the deposits were made by Sept. 3, 2018.If an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date that falls within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the telephone number on the notice to have the IRS abate the penalty. The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies automatic filing and payment relief. But affected taxpayers who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area must call the IRS disaster hotline at 866-562-5227 to request this tax relief.Full Article

Taxpayers can follow these steps for Using the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov​

​The IRS encourages everyone to use the Withholding Calculator to do a Paycheck Checkup, which is even more important this year because of tax law changes. Taxpayers who haven’t yet done this can follow the steps below for using the calculator. Results from the calculator will include a recommendation of whether they should consider submitting a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, to their employers. Before beginning, taxpayers should have a copy of their most recent pay stub and tax return. First, taxpayers should go to the main Withholding Calculator page on IRS.gov. Carefully read all information and click the blue Withholding Calculator button. Use the buttons at the bottom of each page to navigate through the calculator. The buttons allow users to continue inputting their information, reset the information on that page, or start over from the beginning. Input general tax situation information, including:Filing status.Whether anyone can claim the users as dependents.Total number of jobs held during the year.Contributions to a tax-deferred retirement, cafeteria or other pre-tax plan.Scholarships or fellowship grants received that are included in gross income.Number of dependents. Input information about credits, including:Child and dependent care credit.Child tax credit.Earned income tax credit. Enter the total estimated taxable income expected during the year. Amounts the user will enter include wages, bonuses, military retirement, taxable pensions, and unemployment compensation. Users should enter a "0" on lines asking for amounts that don’t apply to them. Enter an estimate of adjustments to income, including deductible IRA contributions and education loan interest. Indicate standard deduction or itemized deductions. Users who plan to itemize will enter estimates of these deductions. Print out the summary of results. The calculator will provide a summary of the taxpayer's information. Taxpayers use the results to determine if they need to complete a new Form W-4, which they submit to their employer. Taxpayers can follow these steps for Using the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov. https://go.usa.gov/xPQd8

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