IRS Looking for Comments on Form 941 Series…Got Any?

Every so often the IRS solicits comments on its various forms. This is an excellent opportunity for payroll professionals to get their two cents in on the forms they must deal with on a regular or sometimes irregular basis.  This time, the IRS is soliciting comments concerning Forms 941 (Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return), 941-PR (Planilla Para La Declaracion Trimestral Del Patrono-LaContribucion Federal Al Seguro Social Y Al Seguro Medicare), 941-SS (Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return-American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands), 941-X, Adjusted Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund, 941-X(PR), Ajuste a la Declaracion Federal Trimestral del Patrono o Reclamacion de Reembolso, Schedule R, Allocation Schedule for Aggregated Form 941 Filers, Schedule B (Form 941) (Employer’s Record of Federal Tax Liability), Schedule B (Form 941-PR) (Registro Suplementario De La Obligacion Contributiva Federal Del Patrono), and Form 8974 Qualified Small Business Payroll Tax Credit for Increasing Research Activities.

What about the Form 941 or any of the series do you find difficult, needs better explanations, could be revamped or should just be left as is?  Now is the time to speak up.

Written comments should be received on or before July 7, 2017 to be assured of consideration, and should be directed to Laurie Brimmer, Internal Revenue Service, room 6526, 1111 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20224. Requests for additional information or copies of the form and instructions should be directed to Ralph Terry, at Internal Revenue Service, room 6526, 1111 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20224, or through the internet at Ralph.M.Terry@irs.gov.

 

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Is That the IRS at Your Office Door?

With email scams now attacking payroll can in person scams be far behind? The IRS doesn’t think so! So is that person visiting your payroll office claiming to be from the IRS legitimate or an imposter? To answer that question the Internal Revenue Service has created a special new page on IRS.gov to help you determine which is which… Fake or real. First the IRS reminds us that IRS employees do make official, sometimes unannounced, visits to taxpayers or employers as part of their routine casework. But typically these visits fall into three categories:

  • First to discuss taxes owed or tax returns due. You should be aware if you had tax returns due.
  • Second to visit taxpayers or employers being audited. Again you would be aware of this audit.
  • Finally if conducting an investigation. You might not be aware of this investigation, however these agents never demand any sort of payment and will present law enforcement credentials including a badge.

For more information visit the IRS page.

 

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Get Your Opinion Heard on Form W-2

The IRS is required, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork (pause for giggles from Payroll Professionals) to invite the public to comment on either proposed or continuing information collections.  This is all part of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.  This time around it is forms we all know and love.  The IRS is currently taking comments the following forms: W-2, W-2c, W-2A, W-2GU, W-2VI, W-3, W-3c, W-3cPR, W-3PR, and W-3SS.

They want to know how to improve the form so it is less burdensome. One area that immediately comes to mind is the lack of space for reporting the Additional Medicare Tax. In my opinion it would be better to have a separate box for the wages and the taxes. Just a reminder that box 9 is already taken as of 2017 so you can’t suggest using that box for anything.   You need to submit your comments directly to the IRS. They accept comments from any user so you don’t have to be an “accounting firm” or a “law firm”.  They want to hear from users. Written comments must be received on or before December 12, 2016 to be assured of consideration.  Written comments are directed to:

Tuawana Pinkston, Internal Revenue Service, Room 6526, 1111 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20224

Requests for additional information or copies of the collection tools should be directed to Sara Covington, Internal Revenue Service, Room 6526, 1111 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20224, or through the internet at Sara.L.Covington@irs.gov.

 

National Taxpayer Advocate Wants to Hear From You

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson and Sen. Bob Casey, Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight, will hold a public forum to discuss what taxpayers want and need from the IRS to comply with their tax obligations. The public forum will be held Friday, April 8, at 10:00 a.m. in the auditorium of the Harrisburg University of Science & Technology, Harrisburg, PA. Members of the public and the media are invited to attend. Building on initiatives already implemented, the IRS for the past two years has been developing a “Future State” plan that envisions how it will operate in five years and beyond. It is continuing to develop a path for how it gets from its “Current State” to the “Future State,” including refinements to the vision along the way.  A central component of the plan is the creation of online taxpayer accounts as a convenient but non-exclusive channel through which taxpayers will be able to obtain information from and interact with the IRS.

The April 8 public forum will feature an invited panel of representatives from the small business and local taxpayer communities, including the following:

Members of the public will also have an opportunity to speak. Olson will conduct the hearing in collaboration with Sen. Casey, who represents Pennsylvania in the United States Senate. Senator Casey’s subcommittee is responsible for IRS oversight. Local Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) staff will be available to talk with attendees about unresolved tax issues and help determine if their situation qualifies for TAS assistance. TAS generally is unable to assist taxpayers with return preparation questions, but can provide assistance to taxpayers who have already filed their returns with the IRS for the current or past years and are experiencing problems that meet its case-acceptance criteria. The public forum will take place in the auditorium of the Harrisburg University of Science & Technology, 326 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA  17101. For information about the forum, go to TaxpayerAdvocate.irs.gov/public-forums.

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No New Schedule B

I am getting lots of questions on whether or not there is also a new Schedule B to go along with the 2015 Form 941–There is not.  The Schedule B does not need to be updated every year since there is no date on it. In fact the form was dated 2008 until 2014 when they finally updated it just because everyone was getting confused. I checked the IRS’ draft forms and there are no drafts pending either. So for now use the 2014 version of the Schedule B.

IRS Releases 2015 Form 941 and Instructions

The IRS has released the 2015 version of the Form 941 and the accompanying instructions.  There appear to be no changes to either the form from the draft version we saw late last year or to the general instructions.  I will be reviewing the form later today as well as the instructions so if there are any minor changes I will post them tomorrow.

2015 Publications and Forms

I am still catching up from my vacation over the holidays.  The IRS has released the following publications for 2015:

  • Publication 15, The Circular E. It is now available on the IRS website.   http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p15.pdf
  • Publication 15-B, Employer’s Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits  http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p15b.pdf
  • Publication 51, Circular A, Agricultural Employers Tax Guide  http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p51.pdf
  • Publication 80, Circular SS Federal Tax Guide for Employers in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p80.pdf

In addition, the IRS has also released the 2015 Form W-4 http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw4.pdf

Hey We All Make Mistakes Most of Us Don’t Devote a Web Page to It

The IRS has announced that it has reissued the Publication 509 due to an error on the deposit schedule on page 11.  So if you have not downloaded the latest version you will need to update your files.  The IRS having to reissue a publication or make a correction is not uncommon. In fact, I, myself, have discovered 4 to 5 errors in publications that I have pointed out to the IRS over the years.  One year, the IRS made a calculation error when demonstrating the percentage method in the Circular E and supposedly received thousands of emails and phone calls from payroll professionals questioning the calculations.  Although payroll professionals know and understand that the errors will occur what many do not know is that the IRS has a webpage devoted to these corrections.  When they update a form, its instructions or a publication they usually publish it on this page http://www.irs.gov/Forms-&-Pubs/Changes-to-Current-Forms-&-Publications .  Then if they have an error or correction they announce it on this page.  It is very handy  and one I recommend checking from time to time.