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IRS Warns Taxpayers to Beware of Phishing Scams

Phishing is a scam typically carried out by unsolicited e-mail and/or bogus websites posing as legitimate sites luring unsuspecting victims to provide personal and financial information.
The IRS has recently warned consumers to watch for e-mails appearing to be from the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) that include a bogus case number. The e-mail may include the following message: “Your reported 2013 income is flagged for review due to a document processing error. Your case has been forwarded to the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance. To avoid delays processing your 2013 filing contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance.” The e-mail may contain links appearing to provide information about the “advocate” assigned to the recipient’s case but actually lead to Web pages soliciting personal information.
If you receive an e-mail claiming to be from the IRS that contains a request for personal information, do not reply to the e-mail, open any attachments, or click on any links. Instead, forward the e-mail to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov. After forwarding the e-mail to the IRS, delete the original e-mail you received.
Remember, the IRS, including the TAS, does not initiate contact with taxpayers by e-mail, text, or any social media.
If you receive a phone call from an individual claiming to be from the IRS but you suspect they are not an IRS employee:
(1) Ask for a call-back number and employee badge number, and (2) contact the IRS to determine if the caller is an IRS employee with a legitimate need to contact you.
If you determine it is a legitimate call, then call the IRS employee back or call us to handle it for you. If you receive a notice or letter via paper mail, contact us to help you determine if it is a legitimate IRS letter. If it is a legitimate IRS letter, we can help you reply if needed.

Serving Houston & Beaumont professional tax audit defense. IRS Enrolled Agent on staff.
Trained experts in the tax audit field. The Ellem Group 409-347-7997

Required Health Insurance for 2014

What you need to know about required health insurance coverage for 2014
Beginning in 2014, the individual shared responsibility provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires you and each member of your family to have qualifying health insurance (called minimum essential coverage), have an exemption, or pay a shared responsibility penalty with your 2014 individual income tax return, Form 1040. Many people already have minimum essential coverage and don’t need to do anything more than maintain that coverage.
Do I have minimum essential coverage?
You have minimum essential coverage if you have employer-sponsored coverage, coverage obtained through a Health Insurance Marketplace, or coverage through a government-sponsored program. Coverage under certain other plans will qualify as well. You must maintain this coverage for each month of the calendar year.
Am I eligible for an exemption?
You may be exempt from the requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage if you’re a member of certain religious sects, a federally recognized Indian tribe, or a health care sharing ministry. You may also be eligible if you are suffering a hardship, meet certain income criteria, or are uninsured for less than three consecutive months of the year.
Will I have to pay a penalty?
If you or any of your dependents don’t have minimum essential coverage or an exemption, you will have to pay an individual shared responsibility penalty with your tax return.
For 2014, the annual shared responsibility penalty is the greater of:
1% of your household income that is above your tax return filing threshold, or
Your family’s flat dollar amount, which is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, limited to a family maximum of $285 for 2014.
However, the maximum amount cannot be more than the cost of the national average premium for a bronze level health plan available through the Marketplace in 2014.
Serving Houston & Beaumont professional tax audit defense. IRS Enrolled Agent on staff.
Trained experts in the tax audit field. The Ellem Group 409-347-7997

8 Tips for Deducting Charitable Contributions

If you are looking for a tax deduction, giving to charity can be a “win-win” situation. It’s good for them and good for you.
Here are eight things you should know about deducting your contributions to charity:
1. You must donate to a qualified charity if you want to deduct the contribution. You can’t deduct contributions to individuals, political organizations, or candidates.
2. To deduct your contributions, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions.
3. If you get a benefit in return for your contribution, your deduction is limited. You can only deduct the amount of your contribution that’s more than the value of what you received in return. Examples of such benefits include merchandise, meals, tickets to an event, or other goods and services.
4. If you give property instead of cash, the deduction is usually that item’s fair market value. Fair market value is generally the price you would get if you sold the property on the open market.
5. Used clothing and household items generally must be in good condition to be deductible. Special rules apply to vehicle donations.
6. You must file Form 8283, “Noncash Charitable Contributions,” if your deduction for all noncash contributions is more than $500 for the year.
7. You must keep records to prove the amount of the contributions you make during the year. The kind of records you must keep depends on the amount and type of your donation. For example, you must have a written record of any cash you donate, regardless of the amount, to claim a deduction. It can be a canceled check, a letter from the organization, or a bank or payroll statement. It should include the name of the charity, the date, and the amount donated. A cell phone bill meets this requirement for text donations if it shows this same information.
8. To claim a deduction for donated cash or property of $250 or more, you must have a written statement from the organization. It must show the amount of the donation and a description of any property given. It must also say whether the organization provided any goods or services in exchange for the contribution.

Serving Houston & Beaumont professional tax audit defense. IRS Enrolled Agent on staff.
Trained experts in the tax audit field. The Ellem Group 409-347-7997