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​The IRS announced that this year’s filing season will begin Jan. 29, a little later than last year’s filing season, which began Jan. 23. The announcement of the start date for tax season comes much later than last season (Jan. 4 versus the beginning of December last time). The Service had announced in November that it was still updating its systems to prepare for the 2018 filing season.

The IRS also explained that individual tax returns are due April 17 this year because April 15 is a Sunday and April 16 is a holiday in the District of Columbia.

Although the IRS will not accept returns until Jan. 29, it noted that many tax software and preparation companies will accept returns earlier and file them when the IRS begins accepting them. It also reminded taxpayers that, by law, it cannot issue refunds related to claims for the earned income tax credit or the additional child tax credit until mid-February.

​Several dozen American cities, counties, and states raised local minimum wages on January 1. In a few California cities, the minimum wage increased by $2.00 or more per hour. In places like Berkeley, San Francisco, and Mountain View — the latter famously home to the headquarters of Google — the minimum wage increased to $15.00 an hour. Workers rights activists frequently target $15.00 as a living wage.

In addition to the 39 states and municipalities that increased the minimum wage on or around New Year’s Day, 11 more plan to raise the minimum later this year, most of them on July 1. Two — Milpitas, CA and Minneapolis, MN — will raise the minimum twice during the year. Some increases are small, automatic raises meant to account for the inflation-driven rising cost of living, but others are part of larger planned increases that will continue in the years to come.

In all, at least 50 places will raise minimum wages some time this year. Minimum wages are often more complicated than a single, flat hourly figure that applies to all workers.
In many places, minimum wage varies depending on several factors, including the type of workers, the type and size of business, and whether the company provides benefits.

For example, in Seattle, Washington, minimum wage workers in 2017 earned either $11.00, $13.00, $13.50, or $15.00 an hour, depending on whether they worked for small or large companies, and on whether they received benefits or not. 2018 minimum wage increases in Seattle ranged from $0.45 to $1.50 last year, and the minimum wage today ranges from $11.50 per hour at small employers that provide benefits to $15.45 an hour at large employers that do not provide benefits.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed each of the places that have either already increased or plan to increase the local minimum wage in 2018. These municipalities and states are ranked based on the increase to the lowest minimum wage. As some places have different minimum wage categories, 24/7 Wall st. ranked the municipalities and states based on the increase to the standard minimum wage for workers who do not receive benefits. In cases where small and large employers have different minimums, the increase in the lowest minimum wage is ranked.

​MINIMUM WAGE

​Taxpayer representatives are now being asked for their Social Security number and date of birth, in addition to their Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number, so that IRS agents can verify their identity when they call the IRS. The new questions result from an updated version of Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) Section 21.1.3.3, which took effect Jan. 3.

IRM Section 21.1.3.3, titled “Third Party (POA/TIA/F706) Authentication,” instructs IRS agents on how to “complete the appropriate research” to verify the identity of taxpayer representatives who indicate that they have a third-party authorization on file with the IRS, such as Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, or Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization. In the previous version of IRM Section 21.1.3.3, updated in October 2017, agents were told to ask the representative for the taxpayer’s name and taxpayer identification number (TIN), for the tax period and forms in question, and for the representative’s name and CAF number.

Under the updated procedures, however, the agent requests the representative’s Social Security number and date of birth as well. An IRS representative says this is being done to protect taxpayer information and mitigate risk to practitioners.

Although the new IRM section is not yet available on the IRS’s website, its existence has been verified by IRS personnel. The IRS says it plans to communicate the changes to practitioners in the near future.​

​START OF TAX SEASON

JANUARY NEWSLETTER 4

IRS ASKS PERSONAL INFORMATION OF TAX PREPARERS

INCOME TAX PREPARATION