In August, colleges and universities began receiving notices from the Internal Revenue Service proposing to levy significant fines for 2011 Forms 1098-T that were submitted with missing or mismatched taxpayer identification numbers. By the end of the month, the trickle of reports coming in to NACUBO about these notices had increased to a steady stream along with requests for advice on how to respond. In order to provide more comprehensive guidance to affected institutions than was possible through listservs, emails, and telephone calls, NACUBO collaborated with attorneys from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius with considerable experience on tax matters to produce Advisory Report 2013-1. This comprehensive report provides background information, advice on drafting a waiver request, best practices for collecting Social Security numbers (SSNs) from students, and a sample response letter to the IRS.
In addition to providing advice to help you navigate the IRS bureaucracy, NACUBO is engaging IRS leadership to encourage them to revise their procedures. We believe that an IRS communication to colleges and universities, prior to such a sudden change in enforcement policy is instituted, is both essential and appropriate. Further, the IRS needs to recognize that their own rules compel institutions to file 1098-Ts without SSNs and do not allow institutions of higher education access to SSN matching services available to filers of other types of information returns.
NACUBO is confident that, when all is said and done, few if any colleges and universities will be levied fines related to their Form 1098-Ts. But unless and until the IRS changes its practices, any institution that receives a 972-CG notice needs to respond in a timely manner requesting a waiver.
A joint subcommittee of NACUBO's Student Financial Services Council and Tax Council ar working on guidance that would foster greater consistency across institutions in what is reported on the 1098-T. This summer we invited a larger group of members to review the draft recommendations and provide feedback. A final version will be published shortly. We believe that greater uniformity in reporting will make it easier for students, parents, and their tax advisors to understand what may be included in each of the various boxes included on the form.