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It feels like two or three times a day, there is a report in the media about a company admitting its data was breached and customer information, including passwords, was stolen.

Even large firms or companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Target have admitted to breaches.

The truth is, no organization is immune from these attacks.

What most people need to be told is that you need to protect yourself not only by paying attention, but by carefully managing your various passwords.

We all get emails from UPS, Walmart, Costco and other big retailers, airlines or travel resorts, but are they real?

Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to get your information, steal money or steal your identity. They will create emails that look like they are from your bank, the IRS, a store you shop at, coworkers, relatives, or friends.

These emails will contain links they want you to click so you can enter your information. Unfortunately, once you do that, the damage is done.

A new year ushers in many changes for the Internal Revenue Service, but one massive problem will not go away – backlogs.

While the IRS still must deal with a backlog of mail and a backed-up phone system that leaves taxpayers and practitioners on hold and frequently drops the call, changes are in the works. Among them are a potential new commissioner (Danny Werfel was nominated for the role in November 2022) and an increased budget that will give the IRS billions of dollars to spend, although it has less than two months left to develop a spending plan.

On Dec. 29, the Internal Revenue Service issued the 2023 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

The Internal Revenue Service announced in late April Health Savings Accounts (HSA) limit for 2023.

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) was established under the CARES Act in March 2020 to provide a refundable employment tax credit to help businesses with the cost of payroll and to help keep people employed during the COVID-19 pandemic. If your business qualifies, the ERC can potentially be a very large influx of cash to help you continue to run a successful business.

Cleveland Jewish News recently named Zinner & Co. Partner Susan Krantz, CPA, CGMA, one of 18 Difference Makers for 2022. 

Krantz joined Zinner & Co. in 1990 and was named a partner in 1999. She possesses over 30 years of experience in audit and assurance. 

 $1.2 billion in penalties will be refunded to 1.6 million taxpayers

In late August, the Internal Revenue Service announced on its website that it had issued Notice 2022-36, which will provide penalty relief to most taxpayers who filed certain 2019 or 2020 tax returns late.

Zinner & Co. Managing Partner Robin Baum, CPA, will present at the 49th Annual Charitable Tax Seminar, organized by the Jewish Federation of Cleveland's Professional Advisory Council.

In late May, the Internal Revenue Service enhanced the Where's My Refund? tool on their website.

This new feature allows taxpayers to check the status of their refunds for current tax year and two previous years.

In order to check their refund status, taxpayers will need to provide their Social Security number or ITIN, filing status and expected refund amount from the original filed tax return for the tax year they are checking.

Previously, Where's My Refund? only displayed the status of the most recently filed tax return within the past two tax years. Information available to those calling the refund hotline will be limited to the 2021 tax return.

Using the Where's My Refund? Tool, taxpayers can check the status of their refund within:
• 24 hours after e-filing a tax year 2021 return
• Three or four days after e-filing a tax year 2019 or 2020 return
• Four weeks after mailing a return

The IRS reminds taxpayers that the Online Account continues to be the best option for finding their prior year adjusted gross income, balance due or other type of account information.

“We encourage those who expect a refund, but requested an extension, to file as soon as they're ready,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We process returns on a first-in basis, so the sooner the better. There's really no reason to wait until October 17 if filers have the relevant information to file now. Free File is still available for extension recipients to use to prepare and file their federal tax return for free.”

Electronic filing is available anytime and the IRS continues to receive returns and issue refunds. Once taxpayers have filed, they can track their refund with the Where's My Refund? tool.

This helpful tool, accessible on irs.gov or the IRS2Go mobile app, allows taxpayers to track their refund through three stages – received, approved and sent.

The tool is updated daily and gives taxpayers a projected refund issuance date as soon as it is approved.

The IRS does not recommend taxpayers call them to check on their refund status unless it has been more than 21 days since the return was filed or the tool says the IRS can provide more information.

If the IRS needs more information to process the return, the taxpayer will be contacted by mail.

For more information about checking the status of a tax refund, please visit irs.gov/refunds.