Accounting & Tax News


Publication 17
Tax-filing information and tips on what income to report and how to report it, figuring capital gains and losses, claiming dependents, choosing the standard deduction versus itemizing deductions and using IRAs to save for retirement

IRS, States &Tax Industry Announce New Steps To Help Public Protect Personal Tax Data

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service, state tax administrators and the private-sector tax industry today announced a new campaign aimed at encouraging more people to protect their personal and financial data online and at home.

The “Taxes. Security. Together.” campaign is designed to raise public awareness that even routine actions on the Internet and their personal devices can affect the safety of their financial and tax data. The education campaign will complement the expanded series of protections the IRS, states and tax industry are putting in place for the start of the 2016 filing season to address tax-related identity theft. (See IR-2015-117 and Fact Sheet 2015-23.)

“Identity thieves are evolving, and so must we. Everyone has a part to play,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "The IRS, the states and the tax industry are putting in place even tougher safeguards for 2016. But, we need the public’s help. We need people to join with us and take an active role in protecting their personal and financial data from thieves.”

The campaign -- which will continue through the April tax deadline -- was announced today at an event hosted by the Federation of Tax Administrators, comprised of state revenue departments across the nation. The effort is part of the Security Summit, a collaborative effort started in March between the states, the IRS and the tax industry.

The joint consumer campaign includes several components, including YouTube videos, consumer-friendly Tax Tips each week and local events across the country. Several IRS publications have been added or updated to help taxpayers and tax professionals. The information will also be shared across, state web sites and platforms used by the tax software community and others in the tax community.

"The governments and industry are taking new steps to protect taxpayers. To build on this even further, we are joining forces to share important information across our websites - whether it's at the state level, in the tax industry or at the IRS. This is an unprecedented collaborative effort for tax administration," said David Sullivan, Tax Administrator for the Rhode Island Division of Taxation and immediate past president of the Federation of Tax Administrators.

It is clear that increasingly sophisticated identity thieves have access to excessive amounts of personal and financial data, which they buy and sell on the black market, and use this data to file fraudulent tax returns using victims’ names and Social Security numbers. While the IRS, states and tax industry are taking new steps to toughen their systems to protect taxpayers, there are also things people can do as well.

"People handle some of their most sensitive personal and financial information when they prepare their taxes on their home computer. But when they sit down, we want to help make sure they are preparing their taxes on a device that is secure. Tax time is two months away, but it's not too early for people to make sure they are doing the right things to protect themselves," said Bernie McKay, an executive vice president at Intuit, one of more than 20 members of the tax industry participating in the Summit process.

The IRS, states and tax industry are urging the public to take active steps to protect themselves. The partners are encouraging people to:

  • Use security software to protect computers. This includes a firewall and anti-virus protection. If tax returns or sensitive data are stored on the computers, encrypt the files. Use strong passwords.
  • Beware of phishing emails and phone scams. A common way for identity thieves to steal names and Social Security numbers, passwords, credit card numbers, bank account information is to simply ask for it. Clever criminals pose as trusted organizations that you recognize and send spam emails, calls or texts. Their email may ask you to update a bank account or tax software account and provide a link that to a fake website that is designed solely to steal your logon information. They may call posing as the IRS threatening you with jail or lawsuits unless you make an immediate payment. They may provide an attachment which, if you download, will infect your machine and enable the thief to access sensitive files or track your key strokes.
  • Protect personal information. Do not routinely carry your Social Security number. Properly dispose of old tax returns and other sensitive documents by shredding before trashing. Check your credit reports and Social Security Administration accounts at least annually to ensure no one is using your good credit or using your SSN for employment. Oversharing on social media also gives identity thieves even more personal details.

“These are all basic, common sense steps that you no doubt have heard many times if you are a regular Internet user. But there are 150 million households that file taxes, and problems still happen. Security software still gets turned off. And there are still, on a regular basis, victims who are tricked by these clever phishing schemes. Not only can this harm the individuals attacked, this can have a direct impact on tax administration," Koskinen said.

The partners are asking all tax preparers and businesses to share information with employees, clients and customers. See for more information. There also is IRS Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers, which provides a brief overview of steps people can take.

In March, Koskinen convened an unprecedented meeting of IRS, state tax officials and the tax industry to determine what additional steps could be taken. On October 20, the Security Summit participants provided an update to the public.

For the 2016 filing season, there will be new standards for logging onto all tax software products such as minimum password requirements, new security questions and standard lockout features. The software industry will provide more than 20 additional data elements from the tax return submission to the IRS and, in turn, to the states to help identity fraudulent returns. All parties agreed to information sharing on a weekly basis to help quickly identify and adjust to new and emerging tax-related fraud schemes.

The IRS also continues to work to help victims of identity theft and pursue criminals using identity information to file fraudulent tax returns. IRS Criminal Investigation has worked on thousands of identity theft cases. Since 2013, nearly 2,000 identity thieves have been convicted, with the average sentence running well over three years.

November 23, 2015

Thousands Now Use IRS Direct Pay—Make Tax Payments From Home

Seattle – Thousands of taxpayers are now using the successful web-based system — IRS Direct Pay — on, which lets taxpayers pay their tax bills or make estimated tax payments directly from checking or savings accounts without any fees or pre-registration.

“It saves time and gets you out of traffic,” said David Tucker II, an IRS spokesman in Seattle. “IRS Direct Pay is just part of our effort to add more online tools to help taxpayers. It allows you to make a payment from the convenience of a home computer—no need to drive to a local IRS office just to make a payment.”

Introduced in 2014, more than a million tax payments have already been made through the IRS Direct Pay system. With IRS Direct Pay, taxpayers receive instant confirmation that the payment has been submitted, and the system is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Bank account information is not retained in IRS systems after payments are made.

From the “Pay Your Tax Bill” icon at the top of the IRS home page, taxpayers can access IRS Direct Pay, which walks the taxpayer through five simple steps. The steps include providing your tax information, verifying your identity, entering your payment information, reviewing and electronically signing and recording your online confirmation.

Tucker said IRS Direct Pay offers 30-day advance payment scheduling, payment rescheduling or cancellations, and a payment status search. Direct Pay cannot be used to pay business taxes. Taxpayers who wish to e-pay their federal business taxes should enroll in the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), or click on the Pay Your Tax Bill icon on to check out other payment options.

IRS press release - October 23, 2015

News From Wittenberg, CPA

We are pleased to announce the opening of a second office in Olympia. Our new office will be located on the 3rd floor of the Security Building at the corner of 4th Ave and Washington Street in downtown Olympia. As we get underway at this new location, our office hours will be Monday through Thursday each week, from 9 am to 2 pm. Please stop by for a visit at 203 4th Avenue E., Suite 307, Olympia, WA. Hours at the Shelton office will remain the same.

With the opening of the new office, we plan on better serving our Olympia area clients and we also look forward to working with new clients. In order promote our Olympia office, we are offering free, one time set up for any new business clients to our firm needing payroll and other business accounting services. We are also offering our existing clients an account credit of $150 for the successful referral of any new business clients to our firm.

Beccie Beck will be the staff accountant in the new Olympia office. Beccie is looking forward to working with Olympia area clients, and will be providing accounting services, including payroll and excise reporting, as well as accounting software support and review services.

Katie Arnold is being promoted to the role of manager at the Shelton office. She will become more involved in the management of the overall firm, as well as responsible for managing the firm in Mike’s absence. The Shelton office staff will remain the same, as Sheri Burgess and Chrissy Hammond will continue in their roles as staff accountants on the WCPA team.

On the education front, Katie is continuing her studies in accounting so she can complete her bachelor’s degree, with the goal of obtaining her CPA certification.  Chrissy is nearing the completion of her master’s degree in business administration and also has her sights set on obtaining her CPA certification.  As is the case each year, all staff members will be participating in continuing education programs throughout the rest of the year, in order to fortify their knowledge in accounting principles, and payroll and excise compliance matters.

In addition to personnel news, we want to let you know that we’ve set up a new file share portal through File Genius, so if you’d like to send or receive confidential information, or software backups, to/from our office please let us know, and we’d be happy to send you the instructions for interacting with us via this new file share tool.

Posted October19, 2015/

Don’t Overlook Estate Planning

For 2015, the Federal unified federal gift and estate tax exemption is a generous $5.43 million, and the federal estate tax rate is a historically reasonable 40%. However the State of WA estate tax exemption is only $2,054,000, so even though your estate may readily avoid Federal estate taxes, it may be subject to State of WA estate taxes without proper planning. The annual Federal gift reporting exemption threshold remains $14,000 for the 2015 calendar year.

Therefore, even if you already have an estate plan, it may need updating to reflect the current estate and gift tax rules. Also, you may need to make some changes that have nothing to do with taxes at all. Please contact us if you think you could benefit from an estate planning tune-up, and we’ll coordinate with your attorney and investment advisor, as necessary, in order to make sure your overall plan is effective.

Posted September 17, 2015/