Scam Phone Calls Continue; IRS Identifies Five Easy Ways to Spot Suspicious Calls

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service issued a consumer alert today providing taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS.

These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They may know a lot about you, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request.

“These telephone scams are being seen in every part of the country, and we urge people not to be deceived by these threatening phone calls,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “We have formal processes in place for people with tax issues. The IRS respects taxpayer rights, and these angry, shake-down calls are not how we do business.”

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Standard mileage rates will change slightly in 2015

Optional standard mileage rates for use of a vehicle will change a little for 2015, the IRS announced on Wednesday, with the business use rate going up and the medical and moving rate going down (Notice 2014-79). Taxpayers can use the optional standard mileage rates to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile.

For business use of a car, van, pickup truck, or panel truck, the 2015 rate will be 57.5 cents per mile, slightly higher than the 56 cents per mile rate that applies for 2014. Driving for medical or moving purposes may be deducted at 23 cents per mile, which is one-half cent lower than for 2014.

The rate for service to a charitable organization is unchanged, set by statute (Sec. 170(i)) at 14 cents a mile.

Congress passes tax extender legislation

The Senate passed a bill to retroactively extend more than 50 expired tax provisions through 2014, by a vote of 76–16 on Tuesday evening. The extender bill passed the House of Representatives on Dec. 3, and it now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the one-year extension of the expired provisions will cost the government almost $42 billion in lost revenue over 10 years.

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IRS Announces 2015 Pension Plan Limitations; Taxpayers May Contribute up to $18,000 to their 401(k) plans in 2015

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced cost‑of‑living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2015. Many of the pension plan limitations will change for 2015 because the increase in the cost-of-living index met the statutory thresholds that trigger their adjustment. However, other limitations will remain unchanged because the increase in the index did not meet the statutory thresholds that trigger their adjustment. Highlights include the following:

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