As part of a larger effort to protect small businesses and organizations from scams, the Internal Revenue Service today announced the details of a special withdrawal process to help those who filed an Employee Retention Credit (ERC) claim and are concerned about its accuracy.
This new withdrawal option allows certain employers that filed an ERC claim but have not yet received a refund to withdraw their submission and avoid future repayment, interest and penalties. Employers that submitted an ERC claim that’s still being processed can withdraw their claim and avoid the possibility of getting a refund for which they’re ineligible.
The IRS created the withdrawal option to help small business owners and others who were pressured or misled by ERC marketers or promoters into filing ineligible claims. Claims that are withdrawn will be treated as if they were never filed. The IRS will not impose penalties or interest.
Those who willfully filed a fraudulent claim, or those who assisted or conspired in such conduct, should be aware that withdrawing a fraudulent claim will not exempt them from potential criminal investigation and prosecution.
“The IRS is committed to helping small businesses and others caught up in this onslaught of Employee Retention Credit marketing,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “The aggressive marketing of these schemes has harmed well-meaning businesses and organizations, and some are having second thoughts about their claims. We want to give these taxpayers a way out. The withdrawal option allows employers with pending claims to avoid future problems, and we encourage them to closely review the withdrawal option and the requirements. We continue to urge taxpayers to consult with a trusted tax professional rather than a marketing company about this complex tax credit.”
When properly claimed, the ERC – also referred to as the Employee Retention Tax Credit or ERTC – is a refundable tax credit designed for businesses that continued paying employees during the COVID-19 pandemic while their business operations were fully or partially suspended due to a government order, or they had a significant decline in gross receipts during the eligibility periods. The credit is not available to individuals.
The ERC is a complex credit with precise requirements to help businesses during the pandemic, and since mid-September, the IRS has received approximately 3.6 million claims for the credit over the course of the program.
In July, the IRS said it was shifting its focus to review ERC claims for compliance concerns, including intensifying audit work and criminal investigations on promoters and businesses filing dubious claims. The IRS has hundreds of criminal cases being worked, and thousands of ERC claims have been referred for audit.
The new withdrawal process follows the Sept. 14 announcement of an immediate moratorium on processing new ERC claims. The moratorium, which will last until at least the end of this year, follows a flood of ineligible ERC claims. Payouts for claims submitted before Sept. 14 will continue during the moratorium period but at a slower pace due to more detailed compliance reviews. With stricter compliance reviews in place, existing ERC claims will go from a standard processing goal of 90 days to 180 days – and much longer if the claim faces further review or audit. The IRS may also seek additional documentation from the taxpayer to ensure the claim is legitimate.
Enhanced compliance reviews of existing claims submitted before the moratorium is critical to protect against fraud but also to protect businesses and organizations from facing penalties or interest payments stemming from bad claims pushed by promoters.
The IRS continues to warn taxpayers to use extreme caution before applying for the ERC as aggressive maneuvers continue by marketers and scammers.
The IRS is also working on guidance to help employers that were misled into claiming the ERC and have already received the payment. More details will be available this fall.
Who can ask to withdraw an ERC claim
Employers can use the ERC claim withdrawal process if all of the following apply:
Taxpayers who are not eligible to use the withdrawal process can reduce or eliminate their ERC claim by filing an amended return. For details, see the Correcting an ERC claim – Amending a return section of the frequently asked questions about the ERC.
How to withdraw an ERC claim
To take advantage of the claim withdrawal procedure, taxpayers should carefully follow the special instructions at IRS.gov/withdrawmyERC, summarized below.
Those who received a refund check, but haven’t cashed or deposited it, can still withdraw their claim. They should mail the voided check with their withdrawal request using the instructions at IRS.gov/withdrawmyERC.
Upcoming webinar and other resources for help
Tax professionals and others can register for a Nov. 2 IRS webinar, Employee Retention Credit: Latest information on the moratorium and options for withdrawing or correcting previously filed claims. Those who can’t attend can view a recording later.
The IRS unveiled a new question and answer checklist last month to help taxpayers understand if they’re eligible for the credit. Since then, the IRS evolved the checklist into an interactive IRS.gov feature to help employers – and the tax professionals working with them – check potential ERC eligibility.
The IRS also continues to encourage employers to seek out a trusted tax professional who understands the complex ERC rules, not a promoter or marketer trying to get a hefty contingency fee while taking advantage of honest taxpayers.
New approach from scammers
Marketers and scammers have already revised their ERC pitches following the Sept. 14 moratorium announcement. Some are pushing employers who submit an ERC claim into agreeing to costly up-front loans in anticipation of a refund. The IRS urges taxpayers to avoid these loans and also learn the warning signs of ERC scams.
The Internal Revenue Service announced today that businesses can now file Form 1099 series information returns using a new online portal, available free from the IRS.
Known as the Information Returns Intake System (IRIS), this free electronic filing service is secure, accurate and requires no special software. Though available to any business of any size, IRIS may be especially helpful to any small business that currently sends their 1099 forms on paper to the IRS.
“The IRS is excited to offer any business, especially small companies, a great new way to electronically file their 1099s for free,” said IRS Acting Commissioner Doug O’Donnell. “This simplifies filing for those issuing 1099s and helps recipients receive information timely. The launch of IRIS can help reduce the millions of paper Forms 1099 we project will be filed in 2023 and demonstrates our commitment to finding useful and innovative ways of reducing paperwork on the business community and others issuing 1099s. This is part of the larger effort underway to make improvements and transform operations at the IRS.”
Filers can use the platform to create, upload, edit and view information and download completed copies of 1099-series forms for distribution and verification.
With IRIS, businesses can e-file both small and large volumes of 1099-series forms by either keying in the information or uploading a file with the use of a downloadable template.
Currently, IRIS accepts Forms 1099 only for tax year 2022 and later.
The IRS encourages any business, especially those that now file on paper, to switch to e-filing through the platform and share in its benefits.
These benefits include:
Enrollment for the IRIS filing platform is now open. Filers should begin the enrollment process immediately.
The Filing Information Returns Electronically (FIRE) system will remain available for bulk filing Form 1099 series and the other information returns through at least the 2023 filing season.
For more information about IRIS visit www.irs.gov/iris.
As part of a continuing effort to improve service this tax season, the Internal Revenue Service today announced special Saturday hours for the next four months at Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) across the country.
The special Saturday availability across the nation will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Feb. 11, March 11, April 8 and May 13. Offices in dozens of states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will be open during this special four-month event, with no appointments required. More than 40 locations currently plan to be open on Feb. 11, with 58 offices currently scheduled for March 11. The IRS encourages taxpayers to visit a special IRS.gov page for the latest information on the special Saturday hours.
“These Saturday openings are part of the extra steps the IRS is taking to make a difference for taxpayers,” said Acting IRS Commissioner Doug O’Donnell. “IRS employees are working hard to help people by making improvements across our operations. These walk-in locations are critical, and funding from the Inflation Reduction Act is allowing us to add more employees across the nation to better assist taxpayers this filing season and beyond. These special Saturday hours will help people get the services they need.”
The IRS encourages everyone to first check IRS.gov for information about these special openings before traveling to an office. They may even find an online resource to resolve their tax concern to avoid a trip.
At these offices, called TACs, people receive in-person help from IRS employees. Normally, these centers are not open on Saturdays, and people must have appointments to receive services.
During these Saturday hours, people can walk-in for all services routinely offered at an office, except for making cash payments. They can also ask about setting up an Online Account and getting an Identity Protection PIN among other topics.
To see which TACs will be open, visit IRS.gov/saturdayhours.
The IRS’s Contact Your Local Office site lists all services provided at specific TACs.
If someone has questions about a tax bill or IRS audit or they need help resolving a tax problem, they’ll receive assistance from IRS employees specializing in those services. If these employees aren’t available, the individual will receive a referral for these services. IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service employees may also be available to help with some issues.
Professional foreign language interpretation will be available in many languages through an over-the-phone translation service. For deaf or hard of hearing individuals who need sign language interpreter services, IRS staff will schedule appointments for a later date. Alternatively, these individuals can call TTY/TDD 800-829-4059 to make an appointment.
For people visiting these offices, individuals should bring the following documents:
During the visit, IRS staff may also request the following information:
Tax return preparation options
While tax return preparation is not a service offered at IRS TACs, information will be shared about available local free tax preparation options. Help is also available using the following services:
Help available 24/7 at IRS.gov
The fastest and easiest way for people to get the help they need is through IRS.gov. Go to www.irs.gov for more information. Available resources include:
For additional information on available services, see IRS Publication 5136, IRS Services Guide.
To wrap up National Tax Security Awareness Week, the Internal Revenue Service and the Security Summit partners today urged businesses to remain vigilant against cyberattacks aimed at stealing their customer’s personal information and other business data.
The IRS continues to see instances where small businesses and others face a variety of identity-theft related schemes that try to obtain information that can be used to file fake business tax returns. For example, phishing schemes continue to target businesses as well as tax professionals and individual taxpayers.
“Just like individuals and tax professionals, businesses of all types need to be on the lookout for attempts to steal information and data,” said IRS Acting Commissioner Doug O’Donnell. “Businesses are especially attractive to cyberthieves because there is a potential to steal a lot of data. They may use the information to file a business tax return or use customer data for identity theft.”
The IRS, state tax agencies and the nation’s tax software and tax professional industries operate cooperatively as the Security Summit to highlight data security and fight identity theft. Today marks the final day of the seventh annual week dedicated to information security and helpful tips for individuals, businesses and tax professionals.
Cyber criminals target businesses of all sizes; knowing some cybersecurity basics and putting them in practice will help business owners protect their business and reduce the risk of a cyber-attack. Criminals can target a business’s credit card or payment information, business identity information or employee identity information.
Businesses are encouraged to follow best practices from the Federal Trade Commission, including:
More information is available at FTC’s Cybersecurity for Small Businesses.
Businesses should especially be alert to phishing email scams that attempt to trick employees into opening embedded links or attachments. IRS related scams may be sent to email@example.com so the IRS can try to track, stop or disrupt scams. To improve security, the IRS now masks sensitive information from business tax transcripts, which summarizes tax return information, to help prevent thieves from obtaining identifiable information that would allow them to file fake business tax returns. Only financial entries are fully visible. Other information has varying masking rules. For example, only the first four letters of each first and last name will display for individuals and businesses. Also, only the last four digits of the Employer Identification Number will be visible.
The IRS also has the Form 14039-B, Business Identity Theft Affidavit, that will allow companies to proactively report possible identity theft to the IRS when, for example, an e-filed tax return is rejected.
Businesses should file the Form 14039-B if it receives a:
This form will enable the IRS to respond to the business and work to resolve issues created by a fraudulent tax return. Businesses should not use the form if they experience a data breach but see no tax-related impact. For more information, see Identity Theft Central’s business section.
In addition to phishing and other scams, all employers should remain alert to Form W-2 theft schemes. For example, a thief may pose as a company executive who emails payroll employees and asks for a list of employees and their W-2s. Businesses often don’t know they’ve been scammed until an employee reports that a fraudulent tax return has been filed.
There’s a special reporting procedure for employers who experience the W-2 scam. It’s available in the Identity Theft Central’s business section on IRS.gov.
Finally, Security Summit partners urge businesses to keep their EIN application information current. Changes of address or responsible party information may be reported using Form 8822-B. Changes in the responsible party must be reported to the IRS within 60 days. Current information can help the IRS find a point of contact to resolve identity theft and other issues.
For more details and to learn more about this year’s National Tax Security Awareness Week’s efforts, visit IRS.gov/securitysummit.