Tax season begins as IRS begins to accept returns

by MPA20 Jan 2016

At an IRS security summit, tax preparers, software companies and the agency came together ``to establish standards for authenticating tax filers online, and sharing information with the IRS and state departments of revenue on patterns of fraudulent behaviour,'' Pickering said.

Taxpayers filing electronically might see requests for stronger passwords, and security questions to help validate that they are who they say they are.

The extra security ``shouldn't be burdensome,'' Pickering said, and could help taxpayers feel ``a little more protected.''

States also are taking steps, she said; more than a dozen now require employers to send copies of the W-2 directly to them by Jan. 31. The IRS also plans to require that in the future.

Taxpayers should know that the IRS ``does not initiate contact by email to request personal or financial information,'' the agency emphasizes on its website. "This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.''

If your identity is stolen, resolving the issue can take months, even longer. ``It's very difficult for taxpayers as well as practitioners to effectively resolve issues,'' says Joseph Perry, the partner in charge of the tax and business services at Marcum LLP.

"The Affordable Care Act has now made health care a tax issue,'' Pickering said.

In a report to Congress earlier this month, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson said the IRS faced ``a few unanticipated challenges'' last year regarding the tax-related provisions of the health care law. ``In general,'' she said, ``the IRS has sufficiently addressed the issues as they arise in order to avoid similar issues in future filing season.''

Taxpayers will see some new forms, 1095B and 1095C, if they have employer-provided health insurance or got it outside the marketplace. Lisa Greene-Lewis, CPA and editor of the TurboTax blog, called the forms a ``non-issue.'' She said they are informational only.

"The IRS computers are going to be able to verify your information that you and your dependents had the coverage,'' she said.

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