Scam Alert: Revenue Warns Taxpayers of Fraudulent Letters

 

Example Scam Letter April 2019

The Delaware Division of Revenue wants to alert citizens to a new taxpayer scam that is happening in Delaware. Victims may receive a letter from “The Bureau of Tax Enforcement” that threatens property seizure and wage garnishment unless they call a toll-free number to “avoid enforcement.”

“These scam mailings are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking they have received an official communication from the Division of Revenue,” warns Director Jennifer R. Hudson. The notices threaten the seizure of the taxpayer’s property if the recipient fails to make immediate payment. The scammers are accessing public records in order to include taxpayer-specific information on the notices to make them appear legitimate, and then using pressure tactics and fear to motivate the recipient into taking immediate action.

Taxpayers who think they may have received such a letter should contact the Division of Revenue at (302) 577-8200, option 3, with any questions. Taxpayers should also file a Consumer Complaint with the Delaware Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Unit. Information about the complaint process is available at https://attorneygeneral.delaware.gov/fraud/cpu/ and the complaint form is available online – Consumer Complaint Form.


Tax Reform and Your Delaware Itemized Deductions

Prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), individuals were permitted to claim an unlimited amount of state and local real property and income taxes paid as itemized deductions. Starting with tax years 2018, those deductions will be limited.

Delaware follows federal law regarding itemized deductions, and taxpayers will be entitled to an itemized deduction for state and local taxes equal to the total real property taxes and local income taxes paid – up to the maximum $10,000 (or $5,000 for married individuals filing a separate or combined separate return).

Taxpayers will continue to be allowed to claim itemized deductions on a Delaware return, even if the taxpayer has claimed the standard deduction on a federal return.

For more information, and detailed examples, the Delaware Division of Revenue has published a Technical Information Memorandum, available here: https://de.gov/tim201901.


Overstated Withholding May Delay Your Tax Refund

With tax season well underway, Division of Revenue officials are noting an uptick in Delaware returns reporting overstated Delaware income tax withholding. The appropriate amount to report is limited to the total in Box 17 of the W-2 form provided by your employer (or the sum of those amounts if you have multiple employers), plus any state income tax withholding reported on a Form 1099-R.

Division of Revenue Director, Jennifer R. Hudson, Esq. noted “We are reviewing all returns that have overstated withholding, and they may be treated as fraudulent returns.”

Overstated withholding can be a sign of fraud, and returns with higher amounts than usual are being treated as suspicious. That means these returns will be pulled for review, extending the length of time required to process your return – and potentially delaying your refund.

If you have questions about the appropriate amounts to report, please contact the Division of Revenue Public Service area at 302-577-8200, or 1-800-292-7826.


Adjustable Tax Rate for HSCA Goes Into Effect This January

The Delaware Division of Revenue would like to remind businesses subject to the Hazardous Substance Cleanup Act (HSCA) that a new tax rate will being going into effect on January 1, 2019. The new adjustable rate for 2019 will be 1.5244%, and will apply to the taxable gross receipts from the sale of petroleum or petroleum products. The Division of Revenue will be updating this rate in their online system before the effective date of January 1, 2019.

The tax rate through December 31, 2018 is 0.9%, but recent legislation has adjusted the rate so that it will be based on a lookback period starting January 1, 2019. The new adjustable rates cannot be lower than 0.675% or greater than 1.675%, and are calculated by multiplying 0.9% (the original rate) by a fraction – the numerator of which is $15,000,000 and the denominator of which is the total collections in the fund during the lookback period (July 1 to June 30 of the prior year).

The HSCA was passed by the Delaware General Assembly in July of 1990 to ensure funding for the cleanup of facilities with a release or imminent threat of release of hazardous substances. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has identified over 700 sites in Delaware as potential hazardous substances release sites.

If you have questions about the new adjustable tax rate, please contact the Delaware Division of Revenue at (302) 577-8205.


Renew Your Delaware Business License Online

The Delaware Division of Revenue online business license system is now open for 2019 renewals. Any business whose license expires on December 31, 2018 may visit de.gov/renew to renew using a credit card, debit card, or by direct debit from your bank account. This convenient online service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week – and it’s fast, easy, and secure.

More than half of Delaware’s licensed businesses use the online renewal service, which is convenient, and allows you to print a temporary license directly from your computer – a benefit for any business that requires immediate proof of current licensing, such as contractors and businesses receiving government payments. Additionally, you may elect to renew your license for one year or for three years.

To complete the online renewal, you will need your Tax ID Number as well as your Business License Number. You’ll find your Business License Number on your current license or on the annual License Renewal Notices that will be sent to businesses later in November.

For more information, please contact the business license office at (302) 577-8778 or BusTax@delaware.gov.