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IRS cautions taxpayers about fake charities and scammers targeting immigrants

The IRS continues to observe criminals using a variety of scams that target honest taxpayers. In some cases, these scams will trick taxpayers into doing something illegal or that ultimately causes them financial harm. These scammers may cause otherwise honest people to do things they don’t realize are illegal or prey on their good will to steal their money.

Here are a couple of this year’s Dirty Dozen scams.

Fake charities
Taxpayers should be on the lookout for scammers who set up fake organizations to take advantage of the public’s generosity. Scammers take advantage of tragedies and disasters.

Scams requesting donations for disaster relief efforts are especially common over the phone. Taxpayers should always check out a charity before they donate, and they should not feel pressured to give immediately.

Taxpayers who give money or goods to a charity may be able to claim a deduction on their federal tax return by reducing the amount of their taxable income. However, to receive a deduction, taxpayers must donate to a qualified charity. To check the status of a charity, they can use the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search tool. It’s also important for taxpayers to remember that they can’t deduct gifts to individuals or to political organizations and candidates.

Here are some tips to help taxpayer avoid fake charity scams:

  • Individuals should never let any caller pressure them. A legitimate charity will be happy to get a donation at any time, so there’s no rush. Donors are encouraged to take time to do their own research.
  • Confirm the charity is real. Potential donors should ask the fundraiser for the charity’s exact name, website and mailing address, so they can confirm it later. Some dishonest telemarketers use names that sound like well-known charities to confuse people.
  • Be careful about how a donation is made. Taxpayers shouldn’t work with charities that ask for donations by giving numbers from a gift card or by wiring money. That’s a scam. It’s safest to pay by credit card or check — and only after researching the charity.

For more information about fake charities see the Federal Trade Commission web site.

Immigrant fraud
IRS impersonators and other scammers often use threats and intimidation to target groups with limited English proficiency.

The IRS phone impersonation scam remains a common scam. This is where a taxpayer receives a phone call threatening jail time, deportation or revocation of a driver’s license from someone claiming to be with the IRS. Recent immigrants often are the most vulnerable. People need to ignore these threats and not engage the scammers.

A taxpayer’s first contact with the IRS will usually be through mail, not over the phone. Legitimate IRS employees will not threaten to revoke licenses or have a person deported. These are scare tactics.

New multilingual resources available
The IRS has added new features to help those who are more comfortable in a language other than English. The Schedule LEP allows a taxpayer to select in which language they wish to communicate. Once they complete and submit the schedule, they will receive future communications in that selected language preference.

The IRS is providing tax information, forms and publications in many languages other than English. IRS Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, is now available in Spanish, Chinese simplified and traditional, Vietnamese, Korean and Russian.

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What taxpayers need know about using the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator

All taxpayers should use the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator to check their withholding. This tool helps people make sure their employers are taking out the right amount of tax from the employee’s paychecks. It can be used by workers, as well as retirees, self-employed individuals and other taxpayers. The money withheld from an employee’s paycheck throughout the year should cover the amount of tax they owe.

Taxpayers can follow these simple steps for using the estimator. Results will include a recommendation of whether the taxpayer should consider submitting a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, to any of their employers.

Step 1: Gather documents.
Before beginning, taxpayers should have a copy of their most recent pay stub and tax return. Taxpayers should go to the main Tax Withholding Estimator page on IRS.gov. Once there, they should carefully read all information and click the blue Tax Withholding Estimator button.

Step 2: Answer the questions.
Users will answer a series of questions about their specific tax situation. When they complete each section, they click the blue “Next” button that takes them to the next section.

Step 3: Review the results.
Taxpayers use the estimator’s results to determine if they need to complete a new Form W-4, which they submit to their employer, not to the IRS. Many employers have an automated system for submitting changes for Form W-4. Employee’s should check with their employer to see if this option available.

The tool helps the user target a tax due amount close to zero or a refund amount. Those who receive pension income, can use the results from the estimator to complete a Form W-4P and give it to their payer.

More information:
How to Use the IRS Withholding Estimator for Paycheck Checkup – YouTube

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How self-employed individuals and household employers repay deferred Social Security tax

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act allowed self-employed individuals and household employers to defer the payment of certain Social Security taxes on their Form 1040 for tax year 2020 over the next two years. Half of the deferred Social Security tax is due by December 31, 2021, and the remainder is due by December 31, 2022.

How individuals can repay the deferred taxes
Individuals can pay the deferred amount any time on or before the due date. They:

  • Can make payments through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or by credit or debit card, money order or with a check.
    • Should be separate payments from other tax payments to ensure they are applied to the deferred tax balance on the tax year 2020 Form 1040 since IRS systems won’t recognize the payment for deferred tax if it is with other tax payments or paid with the current Form 1040.
    • Should designate the payment as “deferred Social Security tax.”
    Individuals making deferred Social Security tax payments in EFTPS should select 1040 US Individual Income Tax Returns and deferred Social Security tax for the type of payment. They must apply the payment to the 2020 tax year where they deferred the payment. Taxpayers can visit EFTPS.gov for details.

What individuals should do if they are unable to pay in full by the installment due date
Individuals who are unable to pay the full deferred tax amount should pay whatever they are able to pay by the installment due dates to limit penalty and interest charges.

If the installment amount is not paid in full, IRS will send the taxpayer a balance due notice. Taxpayers should follow instructions on the notice to make a payment or apply for a payment plan. They can also visit the Paying Your Taxes page on IRS.gov for additional information about ways they can pay, what to do when they can’t pay, and viewing their tax account.

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What organizations should understand about applying for tax-exempt status

Organizations that want to apply for recognition of tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code use a Form 1023-series application. Here are some tips to help them understand the process.

  • The application process on IRS.gov includes a step-by-step guide explaining how to apply for tax exempt status.
  • Form 1023-series applications for recognition of exemption must be submitted electronically online at www.pay.gov. The application must be complete and include the user fee.

    • Some types of organizations don’t need to apply for Section 501(c)(3) status to be tax-exempt. These include churches and their integrated auxiliaries, and public charities with annual gross receipts normally no more than $5,000.

    • An employer identification number is a nine-digit number that IRS assigns to identify a business’ tax accounts. Every tax-exempt organization should have an EIN, even if they don’t have any employees. Their EIN must be included on the application. Organizations can get an EIN by calling 800-829-4933 or apply online.

    • The effective date of an organization’s tax exempt status depends on their approved Form 1023. If they submit this form within 27 months after the month they legally formed, the effective date of their organization’s exempt status is the legal date of its formation. If an organization doesn’t submit this form within those 27 months, the effective date of its exempt status is the date it files Form 1023

    • Once the IRS determines an organization qualifies for tax exempt status under the law, it will also be classified as a private foundation unless the organization meets the requirements to be treated as a public charity.

    • A charitable organization must make certain documents available to the public. These include its approved application for recognition of exemption with all supporting documents and its last three annual information returns. See Publication 557, Tax Exempt Status For Your Organization for additional information on public inspection requirements.

More information:
Applying for exemption – Frequently asked questions
Form 1023 – Frequently asked questions
Stay Exempt – Tax basics for exempt organizations
Exempt organization public disclosure and availability requirements – Frequently asked questions
Disclosure Requirements

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Local IRS Offices

York
2670 Industrial Hwy, York, PA 17402
Monday-Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm
(Closed for lunch 12:30pm - 1:30pm)
(717) 757-4977

Harrisburg
228 Walnut St, Harrisburg, PA 17101
Monday-Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm
(Closed for lunch 12:30pm - 1:00pm) (717) 777-9650

Lancaster
1720 Hempstead Rd, Lancaster, PA 17601
Monday-Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm
(Closed for lunch 12:30pm - 1:00pm)
(717) 291-1994










NATP

National Association of Tax Professionals