IRS Consolidates EITC in Single Office, Reminds Taxpayers to Check Eligibility: The Internal Revenue Service said that it consolidated its earned income tax credit management activities within a single EITC office as part of efforts to improve the accuracy of tax returns and to improve the agency’s internal processing procedures.

The agency also urged taxpayers with low incomes to review their eligibility for the EITC. The IRS said that it receives the majority of EITC claims in February, after workers receive their W-2 forms.

EITC eligibility rules can be found in Fact Sheet 2004-8, in Publication 596, and through links at 1040 Central on IRS.gov. For tax preparers, there is a new EITC information kit at www.irs-eitc.info/preparer/ , and a new EITC tool kit in Publication 3107E. Income limits have increased for the 2003 tax year. Taxpayers must earn less than $33,692 if they have two or more qualifying children, $29,666 with one qualifying child, or $11,230 if there are no children. Income limits are $1,000 higher if a couple’s filing status is married filing jointly.

BLOCK SETTLES LAWSUITS FOR ADDITIONAL $130M: H&R Block agreed to pay $130 million to settle lawsuits filed by some of its former franchisees over the payment price they received when Block bought out their firms.

The $130 million settlement, which resolves pending litigation over the fair market value of the businesses upon expiration of the franchise contracts, is in addition to the $107 million that Block paid the former franchisees earlier under their franchise contracts. It frees Block from having to go to trial with each franchisee to determine the amount of any additional payments to be made.

“We’re pleased with this agreement and believe that it’s an appropriate resolution for all parties,” said Mark A. Ernst, H&R Block chairman and chief executive officer. “After working with the franchisees for 30 years or longer, we have a high regard for the individuals and their contributions to H&R Block’s success.”

Unlike Jackson Hewitt and Liberty Tax Service, which favor the franchise model, Block has been buying back its franchise operations to expand its products in the mortgage and financial services sectors.

Jardini Named IRS Chief of Criminal Investigation: The Internal Revenue Service has named Nancy J. Jardini head of the agency’s law enforcement division.

As chief of Criminal Investigation, Jardini will direct a nationwide staff of about 4,500 employees, including more than 2,900 special agents. She is the first woman in CI’s 85-year history to lead the organization.

Jardini replaces David B. Palmer, who retired early in January. Her selection fills one of the final remaining positions on the leadership team for Everson, who became commissioner in May. Jardini will work closely with the commissioners of the IRS’s four operating divisions.

Since January 2003, Jardini had served as the deputy chief of CI. She was the first woman to serve in that role. Prior to joining CI, she was the IRS associate chief counsel/division counsel for criminal tax. Jardini joined the IRS in July 2000 from the Criminal Division of the Justice Department.

NAEA MEMBERS NAMED TO IRS COMMITTEES: Four members of the National Association of Enrolled Agents have been appointed to the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Committee, a 50-year-old committee that provides an organized public forum for both officials and public representatives to discuss relevant tax administration issues.

Those EA members named to the IRSAC were: NAEA immediate past president Judith A. Akin, of Oklahoma City; Henry D. Anderson, of Pageland, S.C.; Jon M. Contreras, of Fresno, Calif.; and William F. Reilly, of Palo Cedro, Calif.

In addition, Martha Bell, of Lakeland, Fla., and Patricia Rhodes, of Jacksonville, Fla., have been named to the service’s Information Reporting Program Advisory Committee, which offers a public forum for IRS officials and private sector representatives to discuss information reporting policies, procedures and programs.

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