“Dirty Dozen” Scams Identified
The IRS is alerting taxpayers to beware of specific tax scams with its ongoing “Dirty Dozen” series. Pandemic-related scams like Economic Impact Payment (EIP) theft (whether fraud or mailbox theft) continue to be an issue. Phishing scams persist, which include fake emails, text messages, websites and social media as tools to steal personal information. Phone calls, or “vishing” (voice-related phishing) are on the rise, many using fake tax lien information. Ransomware is also increasing (malicious software designed to block access to computer systems) with the aim of extorting ransom payments to restore access to the victims. Other schemes involve fraudsters targeting seniors or immigrants by impersonating the IRS and fake charities taking advantage of tragedies and disasters, or unscrupulous tax preparers or scammers offering “settlement” promises to people who have trouble paying their taxes. Unemployment insurance fraud continues to be a problem as well. Lastly, be aware of schemes like syndicated conservation easements, abusive micro-captive insurance arrangements and other abusive arrangements like misuse of the US-Malta tax treaty and monetized installment sales designed to defer paying taxes on the sale of appreciated property. Click the links for tips on protecting yourself and your business, choosing a qualified tax professional, legitimate settlement options from the IRS, and how to identify likely scams.
Safe Harbor Extended for Renewable Energy Projects
The IRS and Treasury have issued guidance for taxpayers involved in developing renewable energy projects, addressing delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Certain projects may not be placed in service in time to meet the production and investment tax credits, which may significantly impact project financing and development. The updated guidance allows additional time to satisfy the requirements for the Continuity Safe Harbor, and clarifies that if the Continuity Safe Harbor doesn’t apply, the taxpayer may demonstrate that Continuous Construction or Continuous Efforts Tests have been satisfied instead.
Employer Leave-Based Donation Relief
The IRS has extended tax relief for employers whose employees donate their sick, vacation, or personal leave because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The relief, which includes cash payments employers make to charitable organizations that provide relief to victims of the pandemic in exchange for untaken leave, will be extended through the end of the calendar year. Employees will not be treated as receiving the value of the leave as income and cannot claim a deduction for the donated leave.