Today's News

IRS Warns of Continued Scam Phone Calls

IRS logoBe aware of telephone scam artists continuing to pretend they are the IRS. Scammers call claiming you owe money or have a refund trying to trick you into releasing important information. They may know a lot about you, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. Fake names and incorrect ID badge numbers are given to make you believe it is the IRS. Continue reading

Huddleston Sentenced in U.S. District Court

  A Medaryville man was sentenced in U.S. District Court this week.

James Huddleston, 42, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $53,790.49 in restitution after pleading guilty to the felony offense of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and forfeiture allegations.

According to documents filed in this case, from August 2011 through April 2013, Huddleston, while employed as the business manager for the Lake Ridge Public Schools in Gary, embezzled $134,054 which caused Lake Ridge to incur associated fees. Court documents indicate that gambled with much of the money he embezzled. Huddleston failed to report the embezzled income to the IRS and owes the IRS $25,000 in taxes as a result of the crime.

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Have a Plan to Avoid Getting Scammed

scamCriminals don’t stop victimizing unsuspecting taxpayers with their scams after April 15th. Scams happen year-round. Here’s some important information you should know about common tax scams:

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Child and Dependent Care Tax Credits Available

abc-blocksParents who work may be able to take advantage of the federal Child and Dependent Care Credit when they file their 2014 federal income taxes. A credit lowers the amount of money you have to pay. In order to claim this credit, expenses must be for one or more children under age 13 and must be work-related. This includes the cost of childcare while you are looking for work if you do not have a job. Continue reading

Federal Filing Deadline Approaching for Exempt Organizations

IRS logoMay 15 is the federal filing deadline for many tax-exempt organizations.

Internal Revenue Service officials say groups who are required to file Form 990 and fail to do so are at risk of losing their tax exemption. Do not include Social Security numbers or other personally identifiable information on the form, as it can lead to identity theft. The IRS and most organizations are required by law to make most parts of their completed forms available to the public, including schedules and attachments.

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Taxes are Due Today, Don’t Miss the Deadline

Today is the deadline to either file your federal and state income taxes or electronically file an extension request in order to avoid hefty penalties and interest from the IRS and Indiana Department of Revenue. If you’ve waited until the last minute and won’t be able to get your return done, H&R Block senior tax advisor Michelle Bachtel says you have an option if you act quickly. “File the extension, because the extension alone is going to save you money. Even if you can’t afford to give them a penny, just file the extension,” Bachtel says. That extension will need to be filed electronically. It will give you six months to complete your return without late filing penalties, but Bachtel says any taxes you may owe still need to be paid today if possible in order to avoid failure to pay penalties and interest. Continue reading

Taxes Due April 15 Whether or Not You File an Extension

Federal and state income tax returns are due a week from today. H&R Block Senior Tax Advisor Michelle Bachtel says the worst thing you can do is ignore the looming deadline if your taxes aren’t done. “To ask for more time, you can file an extension using form 4868. This gives you an automatic six months of extra time. It’s faster if you e-file the request through your tax preparer. The IRS will send you a message of receipt if you file that way. Paper applications, unfortunately, do not get acknowledged,” Bachtel says.  She adds you should have an idea if and how much you will owe when you file for an extension, as it only gives you extra time to finish your return and not more time to pay.  “Do everything you can to pay the full amount when you file for the extension. Otherwise you’ll face interest and penalties that could raise your bill by up to 25 percent. Continue reading

Divorce Can Create Sticky Tax Filing Situations

Parents of divorced dependent children may face extra challenges when it comes to preparing their income taxes.

H&R Block Senior Tax Advisor Michelle Bachtel says that’s one of the more common questions she gets. Generally she says the IRS says whoever the child remains with the majority of the year is the person who gets the claim.

“Sometimes though divorce decrees will grant the non-custodial parent the claim,” Bachtel said. “That’s when you hear people refer to splitting an exemption. The custodial parent is still entitled to some credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, where the non-custodial parent who gets the exemption is entitled to the child tax credit. It is possible to split an exemption, but there are some very strict rules for doing that.”

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Earned Income Tax Credit Among Most Popular, Most Abused

The deadline to file federal income taxes is almost here. H&R Block Senior Tax Advisor Michelle Bachtel says many low and middle-income families benefit from the Earned Income Tax Credit. “Basically depending on the number of children you have, the credit can range anywhere from $2 to $6,044. The Earned Income Tax Credit is also available for people who don’t have children. They do need to be considered low income according to the IRS, but there is also a credit available for them.” The amount of the Earned Income Tax Credit varies depending on the size of the household. For an individual who does not have any children, they can make up to $14,340, or if they are married they can make up to $19,680. For people that do have children, they can make up to $37,870 or $43,210 if they just have the one child. From there the amounts increase, but the maximum amount for three children they can make up to $51,567. The Earned Income Tax Credit is one of the most lucrative. Unfortunately, Bachtel says  it’s also one of the most widely abused. Continue reading

IRS Lists “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams to Avoid

Tax scams abound this time of year with numerous people falling prey to fraudulent offers and fraud. The IRS is making an effort to help people become informed and prevent these scams from ripping off taxpayers, stealing their money or even causing them to face stiff penalties, interest and even criminal prosecution. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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IRS Reminds Professional Tax Preparers to Renew PTINs

The Internal Revenue Service today reminded professional tax return preparers to renew their Preparer Tax Identification Numbers if they plan to prepare returns in 2014. Current PTINs expire Dec. 31.

Anyone who prepares or helps prepare all or substantially all of a federal tax return, claim for refund or other federal forms for compensation must have a valid PTIN. All enrolled agents also must have a PTIN. Tax professionals can obtain or renew their PTINs at www.irs.gov/ptin.

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IRS Officials Offer End-of-Year Tax Advice

The clock is ticking on tax deductions for 2013. IRS officials say donations to charities and contributions to workplace retirement plans need to be made by Dec. 31 in order to count for the 2013 tax year. These include donations to qualified charities, which must be itemized when you file your taxes. Additionally taxpayers need receipts for each donation, regardless of how large or small it is, in order to claim it as a charitable deduction. A donation charged to a credit card by Dec. 31, 2013 is deductible even though the bill won’t be paid until next year.

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IRS Reports New Charity Scam in Wake of Typhoon Haiyan

A new scam has been reported by the Internal Revenue Service in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the Philippines on Nov. 8. A press release from the IRS said that following major disasters, it is common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers. Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, email or in-person solicitations.

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IRS Warns Against National Phone Scam

The IRS is warning the public about yet another phone scam targeting people across the nation, including recent immigrants. A press release from the IRS indicates the callers claim to be from the IRS, telling the victims that they owe taxes and must pay with a prepaid debit card or wire transfer before threatening those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license.

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IRS Scam Reported Throughout U.S.; Be Aware

The Internal Revenue Service has released a warning for consumers regarding a sophisticated phone scam that targets taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country. Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

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IRS Offers Deductions for Charitable Travel

Good news for anyone planning to travel while doing charity work this summer: some of those travel expenses may actually help lower your taxes if you itemize deductions when filing taxes next year. The IRS recently released their summer tax tips, including five tips for those wanting to know about deductions for traveling while serving a charity.

In order to qualify for deductions, you must volunteer to work for a qualified organization, so be sure to ask the charity about its tax-exempt status. To see if a group is qualified, visit IRS.gov and use the Select Check tool.

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IRS Offers Tax Tips for Newlyweds

With warm weather comes weddings, and the IRS is offering several tips for newlyweds when it comes to taxes. It’s important to ensure the names and Social Security numbers that are on your tax return match your Social Security Administration records, so if you’ve changed your name, report that to the SSA by filing a Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. This form can be obtained on their website at SSA.gov, by calling 800-772-1213 or by visiting your local SSA office.

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Walkerton-Lincoln Township Library Opens on Limited Schedule

The Walkerton-Lincoln Township Public Library is open, but with limited hours just a few days after the IRS put a lien on the library for failure to pay back federal withholding taxes.

St. Joesph County Auditor Peter Mullen told WKVI that the library was in arrears approximately $48,000 and the IRS contacted his office to file the necessary paperwork to put a lien on the library. The library closed in mid-May and just reopened on a limited schedule.

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Senate Republicans Demand Obama Administration Cooperate with IRS Investigation

U.S. Sen. Dan Coats

U.S. Sen. Dan Coats

All Senate Republicans, including Indiana Senator Dan Coats, signed a letter to President Obama demanding full compliance from his administration with requests from Congress for information on the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups and violations of First Amendment Rights.

The letter, led by Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch of Utah and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, raised concerns about conflicting responses from the IRS and emphasized the need for the administration to work with Congress on investigating the agency.

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