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Per-diem rates issued for 2015–2016 travel

The IRS issued its annual update (Notice 2015-63) of per-diem rates for substantiating certain business expenses taxpayers incur when traveling away from home on or after Oct. 1, 2015.

The per-diem rate for the incidental-expenses-only deduction remains unchanged at $5 per day for any locality of travel. The special meals and incidental expenses rates for taxpayers in the transportation industry are $63 for localities of travel in the continental United States and $68 for those outside the continental United States. For purposes of the high/low substantiation method, the per-diem rates are $275 for travel to any high-cost locality and $185 for travel to any other locality within the continental United States. The amount of these rates that is treated as paid for meals for purposes of Sec. 274(n) is $68 for travel to a high-cost locality and $57 for travel to any other locality within the continental United States.

Refunds continue to go to preparers' accounts

For at least the third year in a row, millions of dollars in income tax refunds during the 2015 filing season were direct-deposited into bank accounts associated with tax return preparers—often multiple times for a single preparer—even though the IRS forbids such deposits, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) said (Results of the 2015 Filing Season, Rep't No. 2015-40-080). In its analysis of Forms 8888, Allocation of Refund (Including Savings Bond Purchases), filed during 2015, TIGTA found 46,603 refunds totaling more than $13.7 million that were direct-deposited into bank accounts associated with 3,192 tax return preparers who prepared the returns claiming the refunds. According to the Form 8888 instructions, taxpayers may not use the form to direct any portion of their refund to their return preparer.

TIGTA had reported similar findings for the 2013 and 2014 filing seasons. After the latter report, the IRS said new fraud controls would limit direct deposits to a single bank account to three, which could also prevent multiple deposits to preparers. However, 9,166, or about one-fourth, of the preparer account refund deposits in 2015 totaling more than $2.3 million occurred after accounts into which they were deposited had previously received three deposits, TIGTA found.

No checks accepted for $100 million

In Announcement 2015-23, the IRS notified taxpayers and their representatives that, beginning on Jan. 1, 2016, it will not accept any check for more than $99,999,999. The Treasury Bureau of the Fiscal Service had reminded other federal agencies in May 2015 that Federal Reserve banks are unable to process checks for more than that amount. During the 2015 tax season, the IRS deposited 14 such checks that had to be processed manually, the announcement noted.

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