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Lower PTIN fees finalized

With T.D. 9781, the IRS issued final regulations adopting temporary regulations that reduced its user fee for preparer tax identification numbers (PTINs) from $50 to $33. However, a third-party vendor fee increased, for a total payment of $50. Formerly, the vendor fee was $14.25 for new applications and $13 for annual renewals, for a combined payment of $64.25 or $63, respectively. Under the regulations, the same $17 vendor fee applies to both new applications and renewals.


Individual health care mandate benchmark set for 2016

In Rev. Proc. 2016-43, the IRS prescribed $223 per individual up to $1,115 for a family of five or more members as the monthly national average premium for qualified health plans that have a "bronze" level of coverage and are offered through an exchange. The numbers, which increased from $207 and $1,035 for 2015, are used in calculating the Sec. 5000A penalty for failure to maintain minimum essential coverage. Under Regs. Sec. 1.5000A-4(a), the payment for each month of failure to maintain coverage is the lesser of (1) the sum of monthly penalty amounts calculated under Sec. 5000A(c)(2); or (2) the sum of the monthly national average bronze plan premiums for each member of the taxpayer's "shared responsibility family."


Phishing scheme masquerades as tax software update

In News Release IR-2016-103, the IRS warned tax professionals of a phishing email ruse targeting users of tax preparation software. An email asks recipients to click on a link to download and install an important software update. The link directs them to a website prompting them to download a file that may bear the name of the recipient's tax software product, followed by ".exe." Once the recipient does so, the downloaded program records the user's keystrokes, enabling thieves to steal passwords and other critical information. The IRS recommends that tax professionals and staff always use their tax software provider's main webpage for updates and other contact. For more, see "Tax Practice Corner: Keeping Clients' Tax Data Secure," JofA, Oct. 2016.

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Using drones to enhance audits

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