Beware of Fake Charity Scams Relating to Hurricane Harvey

WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service today issued a warning about possible fake charity scams emerging due to Hurricane Harvey and encouraged taxpayers to seek out recognized charitable groups for their donations.
While there has been an enormous wave of support across the country for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, people should be aware of criminals who look to take advantage of this generosity by impersonating charities to get money or private information from well-meaning taxpayers. Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, e-mail or in-person solicitations.
Criminals often send emails that steer recipients to bogus websites that appear to be affiliated with legitimate charitable causes. These sites frequently mimic the sites of, or use names similar to, legitimate charities, or claim to be affiliated with legitimate charities in order to persuade people to send money or provide personal financial information that can be used to steal identities or financial resources.
IRS.gov has the tools people need to quickly and easily check the status of charitable organizations.
The IRS cautions people wishing to make disaster-related charitable donations to avoid scam artists by following these tips:
• Be sure to donate to recognized charities.
• Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. The IRS website at IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, through which people may find qualified charities; donations to these charities may be tax-deductible.
• Don’t give out personal financial information — such as Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords — to anyone who solicits a contribution. Scam artists may use this information to steal a donor’s identity and money.
• Never give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the donation.
• Consult IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, available on IRS.gov. This free booklet describes the tax rules that apply to making legitimate tax-deductible donations. Among other things, it also provides complete details on what records to keep.
Taxpayers suspecting fraud by email should visit IRS.gov and search for the keywords “Report Phishing.”

Job Search Expenses Can be Tax Deductible

Taxpayers who are looking for a new job that is in the same line of work may be able to deduct some job-hunting expenses on their federal income tax return, even if they don’t get a new job.
Here are some important facts to know about deducting costs related to job searches:
1. Same Occupation. Expenses are tax deductible when the job search is in a taxpayer’s current line of work.
2. Résumé Costs. Costs associated in preparing and mailing a résumé are tax deductible.
3. Travel Expenses. Travel costs to look for a new job are deductible. Expenses including transportation, meals and lodging are deductible if the trip is mainly to look for a new job. Some costs are still deductible even if looking for a job is not the main purpose of the trip.
4. Placement Agency. Job placement or employment agency fees are deductible.
5. Reimbursed Costs. If an employer or other party reimburses search related expenses, like agency fees, they are not deductible.
6. Schedule A. Report job search expenses on Schedule A of a 1040 tax return and claim them as miscellaneous deductions. The total miscellaneous deductions cannot be more than two percent of adjusted gross income.
Taxpayers can’t deduct these expenses if they:
• Are looking for a job in a new occupation,
• Had a substantial break between the ending of their last job and looking for a new one, or
• Are looking for a job for the first time.
For more on job hunting, refer to Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions. IRS tax forms and publications are available any time on IRS.gov/forms.

Divorce or Separation May Affect Taxes

Taxpayers who are divorcing or recently divorced need to consider the impact divorce or separation may have on their taxes. Alimony payments paid under a divorce or separation instrument are deductible by the payer, and the recipient must include it in income. Name or address changes and individual retirement account deductions are other items to consider.
IRS.gov has resources that can help along with these key tax tips:
• Child Support Payments are not Alimony. Child support payments are neither deductible nor taxable income for either parent.
• Deduct Alimony Paid. Taxpayers can deduct alimony paid under a divorce or separation decree, whether or not they itemize deductions on their return. Taxpayers must file Form 1040; enter the amount of alimony paid and their former spouse’s Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
• Report Alimony Received. Taxpayers should report alimony received as income on Form 1040 in the year received. Alimony is not subject to tax withholding so it may be necessary to increase the tax paid during the year to avoid a penalty. To do this, it is possible to make estimated tax payments or increase the amount of tax withheld from wages.
• IRA Considerations. A final decree of divorce or separate maintenance agreement by the end of the tax year means taxpayers can’t deduct contributions made to a former spouse’s traditional IRA. They can only deduct contributions made to their own traditional IRA. For more information about IRAs, see Publications 590-A and 590-B.
• Report Name Changes. Notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) of any name changes after a divorce. Go to SSA.gov for more information. The name on a tax return must match SSA records. A name mismatch can cause problems in the processing of a return and may delay a refund.
For more on this topic, see Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals. Get it on IRS.gov/forms at any time.
Avoid scams. The IRS does not initiate contact using social media or text message. The first contact normally comes in the mail. Those wondering if they owe money to the IRS can view their tax account information on IRS.gov to find out.
Additional IRS Resources:
• Publications 590-A, Contributions to Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)
• Publication 555, Community Property
• Tax Topic 452, Alimony
• Tax Topic 203, Refund Offsets for Unpaid Child Support, Certain Federal and State Debts, and Unemployment Compensation Debts

Moving Expenses May Be Deductible

Taxpayers may be able to deduct certain expenses of moving to a new home because they started or changed job locations. Use Form 3903, Moving Expenses, to claim the moving expense deduction when filing a federal tax return.

Home means the taxpayer’s main home. It does not include a seasonal home or other homes owned or kept up by the taxpayer or family members. Eligible taxpayers can deduct the reasonable expenses of moving household goods and personal effects and of traveling from the former home to the new home.

Reasonable expenses may include the cost of lodging while traveling to the new home. The unreimbursed cost of packing, shipping, storing and insuring household goods in transit may also be deductible.

Who Can Deduct Moving Expenses?

  1. The move must closely relate to the start of work. Generally, taxpayers can consider moving expenses within one year of the date they start work at a new job location.
  2. The distance test. A new main job location must be at least 50 miles farther from the employee’s former home than the previous job location. For example, if the old job was three miles from the old home, the new job must be at least 53 miles from the old home. A first job must be at least 50 miles from the employee’s former home.
  3. The time test. After the move, the employee must work full-time at the new job for at least 39 weeks in the first year. Those self-employed must work full-time at least 78 weeks during the first two years at the new job site.

Different rules may apply for members of the Armed Forces or a retiree or survivor moving to the United States.

Here are a few more moving expense tips from the IRS:

  • Reimbursed expenses. If an employer reimburses the employee for the cost of a move, that payment may need to be included as income. The employee would report any taxable amount on their tax return in the year of the payment.
  • Nondeductible expenses. Any part of the purchase price of a new home, the cost of selling a home, the cost of entering into or breaking a lease, meals while in transit, car tags and driver’s license costs are some of the items not deductible.
  • Recordkeeping. It is important that taxpayers maintain an accurate record of expenses paid to move. Save items such as receipts, bills, canceled checks, credit card statements, and mileage logs. Also, taxpayers should save statements of reimbursement from their employer.
  • Address Change. After any move, update the address with the IRS and the U.S. Post Office. To notify the IRS file Form 8822, Change of Address.

Avoid scams. The IRS does not initiate contact using social media or text message. The first contact normally comes in the mail. Those wondering if they owe money to the IRS can view their tax account information on IRS.gov to find out.

Starting a Business This Summer?  Here’s Five Tax Tips

If summer plans include starting a business, be sure to visit IRS.gov. The IRS website has answers to questions on payroll and income taxes, credits and deductions plus more.

New business owners may find the following five IRS tax tips helpful:

  1. Business Structure.  An early choice to make is to decide on the type of structure for the business. The most common types are sole proprietor, partnership and corporation. The type of business chosen will determine which tax forms to file.
  2. Business Taxes. There are four general types of business taxes. They are income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax and excise tax. In most cases, the types of tax a business pays depends on the type of business structure set up. Taxpayers may need to make estimated tax payments. If so, use IRS Direct Pay to make them. It’s the fast, easy and secure way to pay from a checking or savings account.
  3. Employer Identification Number (EIN).  Generally, businesses may need to get an EIN for federal tax purposes. Search “EIN” on IRS.gov to find out if the number is necessary. If needed, it’s easy to apply for it online.
  4. Accounting Method. An accounting method is a set of rules used to determine when to report income and expenses. Taxpayers must use a consistent method. The two most common are the cash and accrual methods:
  5. Under the cash method, taxpayers normally report income and deduct expenses in the year that they receive or pay them.
  6. Under the accrual method, taxpayers generally report income and deduct expenses in the year that they earn or incur them. This is true even if they get the income or pay the expense in a later year.

Get all the basics of starting a business on IRS.gov at the Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center.

Avoid scams. The IRS does not initiate contact using social media or text message. The first contact normally comes in the mail. Those wondering if they owe money to the IRS can view their tax account information on IRS.gov to find out.

IRS You Tube Videos: 

  • IRS Small Business Self-Employed Tax CenterEnglish

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