Security Summit Wraps Up
The IRS has finished its annual education effort regarding online security for tax professionals and taxpayers. This year includes a five-part “Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself” series to help tax pros, especially smaller practices, protect against tax-related identity theft and fraud. The final installment of the series urges tax professionals to take critical steps to protect data and security:
- Use caution around email attachments: Do not open links that arrive unexpectedly.
- Do not commingle business and personal devices: do not conduct business on personal devices and do not web surf or download videos on business devices.
- Do not share USB drives or external hard drives between personal and business devices.
- Be careful with downloads.
- Use strong passwords, always change default passwords, and change passwords often.
Educator Expense Deduction
The IRS reminds teachers and other educators that they’ll be able to deduct up to $300 of out-of-pocket classroom expenses for 2023 when they file their tax return next year. Even educators who take the standard deduction may claim this deduction, and if married to another educator, filing jointly, up to $600 may be claimed. Qualified costs include those incurred in the purchase of books, supplies, classroom materials, computer and software equipment and services, and COVID-19 protective items. Qualified expenses do not include costs associated with home education or nonathletic supplies for health or physical education. The IRS urges educators to keep good records and documentation.
Hawaii Wildfire Victim Tax Relief
The IRS has announced expansive tax relief for victims of Hawaii wildfires in Maui and Hawaii counties. These taxpayers now have until February 15, 2024 to file various federal individual and business tax returns and make tax payments. Any households or businesses located in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-designated disaster areas qualify for this relief. This relief postpones various filing and payment deadlines that occur from August 8, 2023 through February 15, 2024. Any returns and taxes originally due during this period have until the February deadline. This is automatically provided, and taxpayers do not have to take action to get this relief. However, if a taxpayer does receive a late filing or payment penalty notice, they should call the number on the notice to have it abated. More information is always available at the IRS’ disaster relief page.
Educational Assistance Reminder
The IRS reminds employers and employees that under federal law, employers who provide educational assistance programs can use them to help pay student loan obligations for their employees. In an effort to promote this benefit, the IRS has a free webinar on September 14 to help people better understand this provision. Traditionally such programs have been used to pay for books, equipment, supplies, fees, and tuition; under current law, this feature will be available until December 31, 2025.