How To Protect My Financial Information

10 Tips To Protect Your Taxpayer & Financial Info
10 Tips To Protect Your Taxpayer & Financial Info

October is Cyber Security Awareness month, and the New York State Department of Taxation & Finance has released a list of 10 tips that all taxpayers should know in order to protect their financial information and keep it from falling into the wrong hands:

1. Be wary of aggressive phone scams – Be sure to only give personal information—including social security numbers—to someone you trust. Remember, the NYS Tax Department and the IRS will contact you by mail first and will never threaten you over the phone or demand payment be made through MoneyGram, Western Union, or other wire transfer services; or using iTunes, Greendot, or other cash or gift cards.

2. Avoid phishing scams – Taxpayers may receive emails with authentic-looking government logos that offer assistance in settling fake tax issues. The NYS Tax Department and IRS will never request personal or financial information by email.

3. Protect your computer – Ensure that your computer is secure when accessing your financial accounts online by looking for “https,” with an “s” after the “http,” in the website address.

4. Use strong passwords – Use a combination of upper- and lower-case letters as well as numbers and symbols when creating a new password. Don’t use your name, birthdate, or common words. Use a different password for each of your accounts.

5. Use secure wireless networks – Always encrypt your wireless network with a strong password. Never access your personal accounts on a public Wi-Fi network.

6. Review bank accounts and statements – Check your credit card and banking statements regularly to spot any suspicious activity.

7. Review credit reports annually – Review each of your credit reports annually to spot any new lines of credit that you didn’t apply for or authorize. This can be a sign that a thief has stolen your identity and opened up a credit card, for example, in your name.

8. Think before you post – The more information and photos you share via social media, including current and past addresses, or names of relatives, can provide scammers possible answers to your security questions or otherwise help them access your accounts.

9. Secure tax documents – Store hard copies of your federal and NYS tax returns in a safe place. Digital copies should also be saved. Shred documents that contain personal information before throwing them away.

10. Review and respond to all NYS Tax Department communications– You should review and respond to all notices sent from the Tax Department. Any unexpected correspondence from the Tax Department can be a potential sign that your identity has been stolen. It’s important that you contact the Tax Department immediately to confirm any liabilities.

If you believe that you’ve been contacted by a cyber criminal attempting a scam, have been the victim of fraud or identity theft, or suspect a tax preparer is engaging in illegal activities, visit the Tax Department’s Report fraud, scams, and identity theft webpage to learn how to report it. The Tax Department takes this type of illegal activity seriously, promptly reviews each compliant, and takes corrective action when appropriate.

If you believe you are victim of identity theft and or your financial information has been compromised, please contact an R&G Brenner professional after your report your situation to the authorities.  We may be able to help you to minimize any potential damage.  Remember, NEVER send W2s, 1099s, tax returns or other private information via email; always use a secure file transfer when sending sensitive documents over the internet.  All R&G Brenner professionals offer free secure file transfer solutions to our clients.

MTA Tax Refund Claims Deadline; November 2nd

File A Protective Claim For MTA Tax Refund

By: Jeffrey R. D’Amico, J.D., LL.M

Time is running out for taxpayers who paid New York’s metropolitan commuter transportation mobility tax (MCTMT or MTA tax) when it was first imposed in 2009 to file protective refund claims in the wake of the tax’s being declared unconstitutional.

On Aug. 22, 2012, the New York Supreme Court held that the MCTMT “was unconstitutionally passed by the New York State Legislature” (Mangano v. Silver, No. 14444/10 (N.Y. App. Div. 8/22/12)). The court held that “the tax is a special law, which does not serve a substantial state interest. This law should have been, according to [Article IX of] the [New York] Constitution, passed with either a Home Rule message [from the locality affected by the law] or by message of necessity [from the governor] with two-thirds vote in each house. This did not occur, therefore, [the tax] was passed unconstitutionally” (slip op. at 5–6).

Despite this decision, the MCTMT itself remains in effect. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has announced it will appeal the decision, but the appeal is not anticipated to be heard for months.

Due to a projected budget shortfall of approximately $1.8 billion by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the New York State Legislature passed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) payroll tax, or MCTMT, on May 6, 2009.

The MTA tax, which took effect retroactively on March 1, 2009, is applicable to self-employed individuals and businesses doing business in the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District (MCTD), which is a region including, but not limited to, New York City and several New York counties such as Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester. The tax was imposed in the amount of 34 cents per every $100 of a self-employed individual’s net earnings and 34 cents per every $100 of a business’s payroll expense.

While the case is on appeal, practitioners should consider filing protective refund claims to protect the potential refund of MTA taxes paid by employers before the three-year statute of limitation expires for MCTMT paid by employers for the quarter ending Sept. 30, 2009 (this quarterly return was due Nov. 2, 2009). These refund claims need to be filed by Nov. 2, 2012.

For self-employed taxpayers, the original 2009 MCTMT return was an annual filing due April 15, 2010. Therefore, the statute of limitation is still open to file a protective refund claim for these taxpayers. Taxpayers should consider filing similar protective refund claims for each subsequent period MTA tax was paid.

In anticipation of a flood of protective refund claims, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has stated it is developing a process to allow taxpayers to file these refund claims and not to file amended returns claiming a refund of the MTA tax. However, to date, no such process has been made available, and with the statute of limitation deadlines approaching, practitioners are advised to file such protective refund claims and not wait for the agency to act. 

Contact an R&G Brenner tax professional today if you’d like need assistance filing your MTA Tax Refund Claim.

Source:  Journal Of Accountancy