VT Chapter of National Association of Tax Professionals Newsletter

June 2016

President's Letter

Congratulations for completing another successful tax season!  Now that we've all had a chance to unwind a bit, it's time to look forward to some fantastic educational offerings provided by your Vermont NATP!

Here is the lineup for the summer and fall:

June 22 - VT Tax Symposium at The Inn at Essex. Topics will include amending returns due to software error, estate tax changes, and other changes for businesses including the W-2 due date, filing frequency changes, and a few changes to sales and use tax.  

There will also be an update on MyVTax and VT Tax Fraud. In addition, we will have an update on Worker Classification and Exempt Employees.

Sept 21 - VT Tax Symposium and federal tax topics at The Inn at Essex presented by Kim Loewer, EA, and Cece Bozetarnik, EA.

Sept. 22 - Federal tax topics at The Inn at Essex presented by the well-known speaker Attorney Eric L. Green including the topic, "Dealing with the IRS Collection Division: From Initial Call to Offer Acceptance".             
We are also very excited to offer a series of webinars on federal and state tax topics.  More on those sessions to come!

Be sure to register now for the Vermont Tax Symposium on June 22.  Seats are filling up fast!  You do not want to miss out on important changes to Vermont income and business taxes!

Hope to see you at the beautiful Inn at Essex!
Beth Davis, EA
President, VT NATP

Vermont Tax Symposium
June 22, 2016
The gold standard for comprehensive and cutting edge Vermont tax education is back.  The Vermont Department of Taxes will present updates and preview the upcoming filing season.  Agenda to follow shortly.

Join fellow tax professionals and the Vermont Department of Taxes for the most important and informative tax seminar of 2016.  If you prepare Vermont income taxes this is a can't miss event.  
Registration is at 7:30 AM and the session is from 8:00 AM until 4:40PM.  A continental breakfast and lunch are included in the registration cost.  The cost is $75 for NATP members and their staff and $120 for non-members.  You can join NATP at the registration desk to get the member price.

The Vermont Tax Symposium will be held at The Essex.  The conference room rate is $139.  If you are staying overnight you can call the hotel directly for reservations.  Mention VTNATP to ensure the discounted rate.

This seminar features state topics.  No CPE will be awarded.

If you have questions or suggestions for the Education Committee please send them to diana@sheltratax.com.
or call NATP at 800.558.3402 Ext. 3. 

Summary of Topics Covered:

Tax Department and Legislative Update

Topics include amending returns due to software error, estate tax changes, and other changes for businesses including the W-2 due date, filing frequency changes, and a few changes to sales and use tax.
VTax Update
Phase Three Preview
  • Homestead Declaration Filing in myVTax
  • Non Log in Services coming in Phase Three (Estimated Taxes, Extensions)
  • Renter Rebate and Landlord Certificate changes for next year
  • NOIA and Appeal Changes
  • Online Access to Form 1099G
  • New Form for Third Party Access
Phase Two Review
  • Quarterly and Annual Withholding Reconciliations
  • Business Tax Call and Email Volume
  • SOS Portal Update
  • Confidentiality Issues with emails
  • Mandate for Multi-Site Sales & Use Tax Filers
  • Issues with annual Sales Tax filers
  • Corporate and Business Tax Update
Tax Fraud Update
  • Fraud Issues in 2016
  • How to report fraud
  • Employer W-2 Breaches
  • Paper Checks
  • PIN Letter
  • IRS Update
  • DEX Review in VTax

Diana J. Sheltra, EA
Education Committee 
2015 Tax Preparation Software Errors, Your Action May Be Needed
The Vermont Department of Taxes has learned of systemic errors in the coding of Vermont 2015 tax year personal income tax software, including professional series software used by some practitioners.  The software generated incorrect returns that understated tax liability for some filers who itemized deductions.  We are striving to minimize the impact of these errors on taxpayers and the Department.  If you used such software to prepare returns, we ask that you work expeditiously to assist your customers.  The Department will waive penalty and interest if amended IN-155 returns and payments are received on or before June 30, 2016.

Vermont had two important 2015 deduction changes reflected on schedule IN-155. 
  1. The first requires the addback of any deduction taken at the federal level for state and local income taxes (IN-155, Part A).
  2. The second requires the capping of certain deductions (IN-155, Part B).
We are aware that some software products sold to preparers (and directly to taxpayers) erroneously bypassed the IN-155 calculations in some circumstances.  The affected taxpayers' personal income tax returns were submitted without an IN-155, or with an incomplete IN-155, and likely understated tax liability. Taxpayers need to file amended IN-111 and IN-155 forms with the Department and pay any additional tax due.
Our website lists products that our analysis suggests had issues for part or all of the filing season, and we have been in contact with these vendors.  The products include:
Lamson Tech / 1040NOW
We File Inc. (Liberty Tax Service)
Intuit Turbo Tax
H&R Block at Home - DIY Desktop Software
Intuit Pro Series
Liberty Tax Service
CCH Small Firm Services (ATX)
Amend On or Before June 30

The Department is requesting that you give special attention to assisting any of your impacted clients by June 30, 2016.  We will waive penalty and interest for amended IN-155 returns received by that date.  Amended IN-155 returns received through October 15, 2016 will be assessed interest only.
In this instance only, we ask that amended IN-155 returns be sent with paper check attached to the following special PO Box:
PO Box 1500
Montpelier, VT 05633
Please note that, in this special instance only, the most expeditious processing is accomplished through a paper return with check attached.  This will avoid unnecessary programming of our soon-to-be-obsolete legacy systems.
If your client has an amended IN-155 return and has questions regarding payment of their additional liability, they should contact the Department at tax.collections@vermont.gov or 802-828-2518.
Need For Action

Please note that the Department cannot offer automated solutions to address these commercial software errors. We cannot identify all of the affected taxpayers until we receive federal return data from the IRS late in the fall.  Moreover, we are in the critical phase of the Department's modernization project; retiring our legacy processing system for personal income tax after the 2015 tax season and going live with our new VTax system in December. The Department cannot perform complete 2015 assessment runs on the IN-155 until after January 1, 2017.   
In the interim, it is important that you work with your clients to correct their 2015 itemized returns as soon as possible to avoid additional penalties and interest that may accrue if we need to issue 2015 assessments.  Again, the Department will waive penalty and interest for any amended IN-155 return on or before June 30, 2016, and then assess interest only until October 15, 2016.
Please note that the Department will refer taxpayer questions about amending returns to the appropriate vendor or preparer.  Once the taxpayer has an amended return, we will be able to entertain questions regarding payment.
Further instructions are posted on our website at www.tax.vermont.gov.
If you have any questions on this issue, please use the Department's Commissioner Mailbox at tax.commissioner@vermont.gov or 802-828-3763.
Guard Against SPOOFING! 
As you know, fraud has been reported in connection with tax filings.  Spoofing is a scam where emails that appear to be from a trusted contact seek personal information such as Social Security numbers, W-2 wages or passwords.  These emails have been directed to taxpayers, businesses and tax preparers.  Do not be fooled into providing such information in an email response or by clicking on an attachment that leads you to a phony website.  When in doubt, initiate your own secure correspondence to ensure the authenticity of the recipient and encourage your clients to do the same.
Our Thanks
We are grateful for our partnership with practitioners in serving Vermont taxpayers.  Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Vermont Department of Taxes New Website

The new website has a fresh look and feel, easier navigation, and lots of new content that will help inform you, our users. Here are a few of the highlights:

We have created new sections:
  • Tax Audit Guide, the Appeal Process, Collections, a Tax Learning Center, and more!
  • Improved search function
  • An easier to use Contact Us page
  • Updated resources for our Municipal Officials
  • A research and reports section that houses all of our important documents, forms, and technical bulletins.

If you have any questions or difficulty finding content, please contact the Department by emailing vttaxdept@vermont.gov.
Message from Joe McCarthy

Before the filing season becomes a faded memory, please take a few moments to help make next year's filing season go a bit smoother. If you encountered any systemic issues during the filing season please let me know about them. Unfortunately, as you already know, I can't handle individual account related problems.
While I can't guarantee that I will be able quickly resolve every systemic issue brought to my attention; I will promise to respond to and follow up on all issues raised. If issues need to be referred to a higher level for resolution I will input the issues into the IRS Issue Management Resolution System (IMRS). Also, if for whatever reason, an issue cannot be resolved I will let you know that it can't be resolved along with the reason why it can't be resolved.
In addition, the IRS is always looking for ways to improve and one of the best ways of doing this is by having experienced tax practitioners like yourself provide the IRS with suggestions for improvement. So if you have any suggestions to improve next year's filing season please send them my way. I will see that they get forwarded to the appropriate IRS personnel.

Again, any ideas or information you can send me that might improve next year's filing season would be more than welcome. Feel free to either e-mail or call me. Thanks!

Joe McCarthy
IRS Senior Stakeholder Liaison

Advice from the IRS

The Internal Revenue Service  warned tax professionals of a new emerging scam in which cyber criminals obtain remote control of preparers' computer systems, complete and file client tax returns and redirect refunds to thieves' accounts. 

The IRS urges all tax preparers to take the following steps:

  • Run a security "deep scan" to search for viruses and malware;
  • Strengthen passwords for both computer access and software access; make sure your password is a minimum of 8 digits (more is better) with a mix of numbers, letters and special characters;
  • Be alert for phishing scams: do not click on links or open attachments from unknown senders;
  • Educate all staff members about the dangers of phishing scams in the form of emails, texts and calls;
  • Review any software that your employees use to remotely access your network and/or your IT support vendor uses to remotely troubleshoot technical problems and support your systems. Remote access software is a potential target for bad actors to gain entry and take control of a machine.
Tax professionals should review Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, A Guide for Your Business, which provides a checklist to help safeguard taxpayer information and enhance office security.

Updates from the Vermont Department of Taxes

myVTax. What You Need to Know
myVTax, a new online filing site, is now available for Business Taxpayers to file and pay their Sales & Use, Meals & Rooms and Withholding tax returns. VTBizFile is no longer available to file returns.

Having trouble creating a myVTax account? You can file and pay your monthly business taxes without creating a login.   Simply click on File a Return under the Businesses tab on the myVTax home page.

Do you need assistance with filing your business return using myVTax? Check out our myVTax Resource Center to learn more or call us at (802)828-6802 or (802)828-2551.

Our business tax examiners are available to answer your questions about myVTax Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can also email 
the myVTax support section.

Board of Directors

M. Beth Davis, EA, President
Bus: 802-388-6603
E-mail: davismb9@gmail.com
Cece Bozetarnik, EA, Secretary
Bus: 802-257-9226
E-mail: cecebtc@sover.net
Edward Caron, EA. 
Bus: 802-457-4644
E-mail: efc0118@vermontel.net
Diane Donohue, EA, Treasurer
Bus: 802-651-7243
E-mail: ddonohue@gfc.com
Arlon Warner, EA
Bus: 802-744-2491
E-mail: warnerai@together.net
Morton Bostock
Bus: 802-862-7602
E-mail: morton.bostock@gmail.com
Diana J. Sheltra, EA
Bus: 802-878-0990
E-mail: diana@sheltratax.com

Bylaws Committee: Beth Davis, EA
Education Committee: Diana Sheltra, EA and Morton Bostock
Government Relations Committee: Arlon Warner, EA
Annual Meeting Committee: Beth Davis, EA
Communication & Newsletter Committee: Diana Sheltra, EA
Membership/PR Committee Cece Bozetarnik, EA
Nominating Committee: Ed Caron, EA

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VT Chapter of National Association of Tax Professionals | 12 Steeplebush Road | Essex Junction | VT | 05452