Tag Archives: IRS

IRS Says It’s Sending Demand Letters to US Cryptocurrency Owners

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced Friday that it has begun sending letters to taxpayers who own cryptocurrency, advising them to pay any back taxes they may owe or to file amended tax returns regarding their holdings.

In a news bulletin, the agency said that it began mailing what it called “educational letters” last week. According to the statement, there are three variations of the letter that were sent.

The IRS further said that it will have sent such letters to “more than 10,000 taxpayers” by the end of this month,” adding that “the names of these taxpayers were obtained through various ongoing IRS compliance efforts.”

“Taxpayers should take these letters very seriously by reviewing their tax filings and when appropriate, amend past returns and pay back taxes, interest and penalties,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement. “The IRS is expanding our efforts involving virtual currency, including increased use of data analytics. We are focused on enforcing the law and helping taxpayers fully understand and meet their obligations.”

In May, it was reported that the IRS is beginning to work on new guidance regarding cryptocurrencies, its first such effort since 2014. A number of organizations and industry advocates have called on the agency in past years to update its guidance following its decision to treat cryptocurrencies as a form of intangible property for tax purposes.

On Thursday, a user of the r/bitcoin subreddit described receiving such a letter. Lawyer Tyson Cross, writing for Forbes, also detailed how a number of his crypto-focused clients have received this kind of letter from the IRS.

Source: by Stan Higgins | Coindesk

IRS Ready To Make Tech Giants Release User Crypto Activity

The United States’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is allegedly considering requiring tech giants to report on crypto activity by users, according to a presentation reportedly from an IRS presentation and provided by a Twitter user on July 9.

According to the documents shared, the IRS hopes to use Grand Jury subpoenas on firms such as Apple, Google and Microsoft to check taxpayers’ download history for crypto-related applications.

Known as Crypto Tax Girl, Laura Walter, certified public accountant and crypto tax specialist, tweeted the presentation, which was allegedly for agents in the IRS’s Criminal Investigation division.

Citing the document, Walter concluded that the tax authority is conducting exhaustive research into detection of criminal tax evasion cases involving crypto. As such, the IRS is considering carrying out interviews, open-source and social media searches, as well as electronic surveillance, the expert noted.

Specifically, the 181-page document reads:

“Grand Jury Subpoena should be considered for Apple, Google, and Microsoft for the Subject’s complete application download history. Each application’s function should be explored to determine whether or not the application can transmit, or otherwise allow, transactions in bitcoin.”

As Walter emphasized, the presentation envisions that IRS agents ensure that taxpayers are not notified about the obtained information regarding their use of cryptocurrencies to prevent detrimental to the investigation. 

Cointelegraph notes that the IRS has not confirmed the authenticity of the presentation’s origin.

According to the documents provided, the IRS is hoping to serve subpoenas to check data from accounts in banks and Paypal for connection with crypto transactions. Additionally, the tax authority is considering reviewing social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter to find and record publicly available cryptocurrency addresses.

Concluding the thread, Crypto Tax Girl wrote:

“There is a ton of other information in there about crypto in general, tracing transactions via the blockchain, limitations of the blockchain, etc. but what you need to know is that the IRS is working HARD to identify criminal tax cases involving cryptocurrency.”

As previously reported, the IRS currently considers cryptocurrencies property. In late 2018, an advisory committee of the IRS expressed its intent to provide additional guidelines for the taxation of crypto transactions.

Recently, Cointelegraph reported on Singapore’s plan to exempt cryptocurrencies that are intended to function as a medium of exchange from Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Source: by Helen Partz | CoinTelegraph

IRS Awards Multimillion-Dollar (no bid) Fraud-Prevention Contract to Equifax

Say what?

https://static.politico.com/dims4/default/0f31fd5/2147483647/resize/1160x/quality/90/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fstatic.politico.com%2Fba%2Fc8%2F6fca25494fee975f4f414529aaf5%2F171003-equifax-getty-1160.jpg
Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith, who stepped down after the breach, endured a bipartisan shaming Tuesday at a hearing of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The no-bid contract was issued last week, as the company continued facing fallout from its massive security breach.

The IRS will pay Equifax $7.25 million to verify taxpayer identities and help prevent fraud under a no-bid contract issued last week, even as lawmakers lash the embattled company about a massive security breach that exposed personal information of as many as 145.5 million Americans.

A contract award for Equifax’s data services was posted to the Federal Business Opportunities database Sept. 30 — the final day of the fiscal year. The credit agency will “verify taxpayer identity” and “assist in ongoing identity verification and validations” at the IRS, according to the award.

The notice describes the contract as a “sole source order,” meaning Equifax is the only company deemed capable of providing the service. It says the order was issued to prevent a lapse in identity checks while officials resolve a dispute over a separate contract.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle blasted the IRS decision.

“In the wake of one of the most massive data breaches in a decade, it’s irresponsible for the IRS to turn over millions in taxpayer dollars to a company that has yet to offer a succinct answer on how at least 145 million Americans had personally identifiable information exposed,” Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told POLITICO in a statement.

The committee’s ranking member, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), piled on: “The Finance Committee will be looking into why Equifax was the only company to apply for and be rewarded with this. I will continue to take every measure possible to prevent taxpayer data from being compromised as this arrangement moves forward.”

The IRS defended its decision in a statement, saying that Equifax told the agency that none of its data was involved in the breach and that Equifax already provides similar services to the IRS under a previous contract.

“Following an internal review and an on-site visit with Equifax, the IRS believes the service Equifax provided does not pose a risk to IRS data or systems,” the statement reads. “At this time, we have seen no indications of tax fraud related to the Equifax breach, but we will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

Equifax did not respond to requests for comment.

Equifax disclosed a cybersecurity breach in September that potentially compromised the personal information, including Social Security numbers, of more than 145 million Americans — data that security experts have described as the crown jewels for identity thieves. The company is one of three major credit reporting bureaus whose data determine whether consumers qualify for mortgages, auto loans, credit cards and other financial commitments.

The company has subsequently taken criticism for issuing confusing instructions to consumers, which contained language that appeared aimed at limiting customers’ ability to sue, as well as tweeting out a link to a fake website instead of its own security site. The Justice Department later opened a criminal investigation into three Equifax executives who sold almost $1.8 million of their company stock before the breach was publicly disclosed, Bloomberg has reported.

Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith, who stepped down after the breach, endured a bipartisan shaming Tuesday at a hearing of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. The full committee’s Republican chairman, Greg Walden of Oregon, proclaimed: “It’s like the guards at Fort Knox forgot to lock the doors.”

Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) separately penned letters to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen demanding he explain the agency’s rationale for awarding the contract to Equifax and provide information on any alternatives the agency considered.

“I was initially under the impression that my staff was sharing a copy of the Onion, until I realized this story was, in fact, true,” Blumenauer wrote.

The IRS, which has suffered its own embarrassing data breaches as well as a tidal wave of tax-identity fraud, has taken steps to improve its outdated information technology with the help of $106.4 million that Congress earmarked for cyber security upgrades and identity theft prevention efforts.

Hatch questioned the agency’s security systems in a letter to Koskinen last month. Hatch said he was concerned that the IRS lacked the technology necessary “to safeguard the integrity of our tax administration system.”