Update: Hurricanes, Heisters And Other Heinous Human Acts

tax updates

Mother Nature certainly had her way with the Florida Panhandle, as well as the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland coastlines this year. And, when Mother Nature strikes, the IRS has no recourse but to extend assistance in the form of tax filing and payment deadlines.

Hurricane Filing And Payment Extensions

So, here’s the deal. If you live in or have a business in any of the areas affected by Hurricane Michael or Hurricane Florence, you will be entitled to a postponement of various tax filing and payment deadlines.

In Florida this includes Bay, Franklin, Gulf, Taylor and Wakulla Counties where Hurricane Michael plowed through and left a trail of massive destruction. The tax filing deadlines that started on October 7th are now extended until February 28, 2019.

The IRS offers this relief to any major disaster declaration area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as qualifying for either individual or public assistance. Taxpayers in localities added later to the disaster area, including those in other states, will automatically receive the same relief.

In addition, according to accountingtoday.com, “The SEC said it’s providing regulatory relief to accountants, public companies, investment companies, transfer agents, municipal advisors, and others affected by the hurricane. The SEC issued an order that conditionally exempts those who were affected from certain requirements of the federal securities laws for periods after the catastrophic storm. The SEC also adopted interim final temporary rules extending filing deadlines for certain reports and forms required from companies to file under Regulation Crowdfunding and Regulation A.”

The same article states that, “The IRS also offered temporary relief from some requirements of the Tax Code to make it easier for owners and operators of low-income housing projects in the U.S. and U.S. territories to provide temporary emergency housing to people who were displaced from their main residences, regardless of income, by Hurricane Michael as well as the earlier Hurricane Florence that devastated the Carolinas and parts of Virginia in September.”

IRS Foils Some But Not All Heisters

When it comes to preventing heisters from stealing from the IRS, the government agency is getting better, but they don’t get an A+ yet. According to the Washington Post, “The IRS estimated online robbers attempted to steal at least $12.2 billion, if not more, through identity theft tax refund fraud in 2016, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). IRS vigilance thwarted most of those attempts, but the fakers got away with at least $1.6 billion. The good news is the 2016 data represent a steady and significant drop in tax identity theft since 2012.”

That is a significant drop in thievery through the IRS channels, but wait, there’s more! The phone scammers are hitting harder than ever.

Heinous Human Behavior

From scam phone calls bilking tax payers out of important information and millions of dollars to unscrupulous CPAs, business owners and, yes, even tax preparers filing false tax returns, the behavior of other humans outside of the cybercriminal world is pretty darn heinous.

According to aarp.org, “Scam calls are getting more frequent — and quickly. By next year, half of all calls to mobile phones will be fraudulent.” According to the article, “In 2017, only 3.7 percent of calls to cell phones were fraudulent. This year, that number reached 29.2 percent — and it’s expected to climb to 44.6 percent in 2019.”

Other Heinous Human Acts Around The U.S.

In Rhode Island, a tax preparer has pleaded guilty to 44 counts of filing fraudulent returns for clients. In Cincinnati a business executive has been sentenced to two years in prison for tax and structuring crimes. In New York, a CPA and attorney has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and tax evasion arising from a scheme to embezzle millions from a deceased client’s estate. And, finally, a resident of Ft. Myers, FL, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing government funds and endeavoring to obstruct internal revenue laws.

Stay Alert

Mother Nature and fellow humans can wreak havoc when you least expect it. So, stay alert, stay safe and stay out of trouble with the IRS. For help staying on the straight and narrow with the IRS, give us a call.