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|Action Required: Please update your tax information|
Are they sending out mass emails or is this a coincidence?
So I wake up to a email sent last night from Google stating that my TIN and the taxpayer name do not coincide/match. It also states that in 14 days if the information is not corrected they will hold backup withholding.
Not only did I get one, but I received two of these emails although I only have one AdSense account.
I also received an email from a friend of mine that also received two last night.
My information has not changed except my address, and I changed that in Google back when we moved. My friend states nothing has changed and he received this email.
How many people received this email that nothing has changed in their information reported to Google? Is it just a coincidence that I know someone that also received two?
Is this a scare tactic by Google or what? I have no idea why they would send this email and especially the way that it is worded...not very good on their part in my opinion.
I received same email yesterday. I did not have any changes to the account since it was opened 4 years ago. Strange.
I got one also.
|Is this a scare tactic by Google or what? I have no idea why they would send this email and especially the way that it is worded...not very good on their part in my opinion. |
I don't think it's a scare tactic. I'd say a glitch of some kind. Of course I could be wrong.
Hey, I got one too. I think it is somebody just trying to play games. In other words, SPAM.
I noticed that the link to the IRS links to a page for Native American Tribes, not individuals. Also, if you read the requirements for registration, it's generally for employers and tax professionals.
Another oddity I noticed is that the salutation does not address me individually, also, after reading Google's policy page, it says that businesses have a TIN and individuals use a SSN. I am an individual, so they have my Social Security Number (SSN).
And, the closure is from the Google Adsense Team, and they also include their physical address, which I've never seen in any Google email. Plus there's no link to AdSense at the very bottom, as is the case with all Google emails.
Maybe ASA will come on here and confirm or deny whether it was actually sent by Google. I just tried to sticky him and got a message that his mailbox was full. Maybe ASA could get on to answering some emails, clearing his inbox and helping us out here?
I'm not going to do a thing, and may contact Google about it. It certainly looks like a fake and is very malicious.
[edited by: fearlessrick at 3:21 pm (utc) on Nov. 22, 2007]
It could be a phish. Write a message to Google support to verify it. If there's a link in the email, look at its properties to determine the destination URL.
The links go to their proper destinations, so I don't understand why anyone would do this except to screw with people. Some teenager is probably reading this thread right now and having a good laugh.
Someday, he'll likely take the next step to phishing, eventually get caught and hopefully spend some time in a penal institution.
If it isn't a fake, they could have picked a better day to send this out. The day before a major US holiday? There is going to be lot of email to answer all at once.
FWIW my taxpayer name and the name I have on my AdSense account don't match. That is John Doe and John A Dow. So this could be an okay email.
I don't think it is fake.. I logged in to my AdSense account and updated/verified my TIN. After more than three years, they seemed to think I need to do this.
A possibility is that this is a great opportunity for Google to keep your tax dollars for eventual distribution to the IRS. Opportunity you might say? Yes, they can leverage your money for up to three months for an interest earning investment or what ever.
I love Google, however IHO they are acting more and more like a money centric corporation.
[edited by: Edge at 9:43 pm (utc) on Nov. 22, 2007]
|I don't think it's a scare tactic. I'd say a glitch of some kind. Of course I could be wrong. |
Afaik, it's not a glitch, a fake or a phish because the sender and URLs are all legit. Though it would be great for ASA to clarify to ease some minds.
The IRS is on some deal where they're cleaning up their records. An affiliate program I'm with asked me for the same info and in fact deducted fifty bucks from my earnings because I didn't move fast enough to correct the error.
In this case the error was: Payable = Company name. But the IRS has my information as "My Name dba Company Name" and that's what they and presumably AdSense may be looking for.
I haven't received the email but I do have a small insight as to what may be going on.
Some years back I worked as a bookkeeper and, among other duties, I did the payroll for the company.
Periodically or at least once per year the company received a list from the IRS of names and SSN's that they claimed did not match their records. Almost all, if not all of the names on the list were those of "contract laborers" that had done some work for the company during the previous year. In most cases there was little we could do as many of those workers had moved on to points unknown. This was due to the area being a well known tourist and resort region with a high percentage of transient workers.
For the few workers that were still around, the primary cause of them being on the list boiled down to a difference in the spelling of their name and the IRS records needed to be corrected. Why this happens I've no idea but it could simply boil down to typos on someone's part.
I also received this email. Like martinibuster mentioned, all of the URL's were legit, but it would be cool if ASA verifies the source/intent, etc.
I changed addresses about a month ago and thought it may be related to that.
I got one too. The email went to email address that I have all my Adsense reports sent to - seems too concidental to me. I think it's legit.
|In this case the error was: Payable = Company name. But the IRS has my information as "My Name dba Company Name" and that's what they and presumably AdSense may be looking for. |
Sounds like you are saying that the IRS changed the way it stores info and AdSense info no longer matches it? Hmmm... I just registered at the IRS so I could see my info, but not sure how long it will take to get access (they have to mail access info).
I thought it may be another Google glitch as it seems the Google "glitch" factor has been high lately. Thanks for the info though...
I'm finding this whole thing to be rather confusing. My Adsense account says my W-9 was submitted in 2003, then updated, Sept. 24, 2007, though I didn't update it, so who did?
What's worse is I don't have any way of knowing what the government has or what I have as information. The government requires me to fill out a form, wait for them to respond by snail mail, IF my info matches theirs.
Google doesn't show the info I've submitted, and only gives me the option of filing another W-9. The whole thing is absurd, since, I'm me, I use my SSN, and that should be it.Just because they can't figure out I'm who I say I am, I have to jump through all these hoops? The whole thing is straight out fo Kafka.
I'm writing to Google.
Just wrote to Google concerning this email. I still consider it just an annoyance, and NOT from Google.
I've been out of the office for a few days for the holiday and just spotted this thread. Sorry for any stress caused by the delay.
The AdSense payments team did send an email to some US-English publishers on Nov. 21, with the subject "Action Required: Please update your tax information". If you received this email, please read it carefully and make any necessary changes to your account info.
You're welcome to write in with specific questions about your account, and, as always, to verify the authenticity of any email received from the AdSense team.
ASA, thanks for responding. What bothers me is that I have no way of knowing what is wrong and the ways to "fix" them involve a bit of effort. Please read my post above. It's kind of like, how can I fix something if I don't know what's wrong with it?
There's no way of knowing who (Google or the IRS) has what info, so?
>> "My Adsense account says my W-9 was submitted in 2003, then updated, Sept. 24, 2007, though I didn't update it, so who did? "
Ditto, except for the start date!
I thought about it, and decided it is likely that this was caused by an update they got from IRS that also caused them to send the "update your tax info" emails to some AdSensers.
They likely got an update from IRS that the ID/TIN match on my account and they put that in my record, then used that date as the latest update timestamp.
If that's the case, it is pretty ummmmm.... "not smart." They need a different timestamp for internal updates and client updates.
Also, it might be really nice if we could get a report or a pre-filled form that lists the info Google has for the W-9 so I can correct any problems, instead of requiring me to blindly submit an entire new form.
[edited by: RonS at 1:34 am (utc) on Nov. 25, 2007]
Exactly. I know I didn't change anything, and I don't know what info Google or the IRS has, so why should I have to jump through hoops? This is very unfair. The IRS site even says they will contact by US mail "if the information I provide matches theirs." How do I know thay haven't gotten it wrong?
The timing of this is also very poor, right at the start of the holidays. Plus, their links are off the mark. Neither of the IRS links Google provided goes to the correct pages.
I'm really PO'ed about this and am writing to Google to see if there's an easier way to striaghten this out. I mean, both the IRS and Google have my name, SSN and address. What else is really necessary? And why now? Ive been receiving checks from Google for nearly 4 years. #*$!?
Received this same message and registered with the IRS. Now waiting for a letter via U.S. Mail from the IRS before I can use their website.
Google's message says we have 14 days to correct the problem.
Perhaps Google needs to extend this time. 14 days may not be enough time knowing that the IRS is often not very quick at the switch.
|Now waiting for a letter via U.S. Mail from the IRS before I can use their website. |
I did the same thing and am also waiting. I agree that 14 days might not be long enough.
There appears to be an increased effort on the part of the IRS to force businesses to match names and SSNs exactly, probably to ensure they collect all the taxes owed. I've gotten more requests for the correct name this year than any time before, but not yet from Google. Mostly the request comes from big corporations.
If you are operating with a DBA (doing business as) name but your taxes are reported under your personal name, then you need to give Google your personal name, which is probably overriding your business name in the IRS database. That's been my problem so now I know immediately what to report to anyone who asks, and the problem goes away.
I'm a little bit farther in the process than some here (freaked out about the email on Thanksgiving night), so I wanted to contribute my thoughts.
First, some terminology of two things that initially confused me:
TIN: Tax identification number. This can be a number that is assigned to you if you own a certain type of business. If you don't, or are collecting AdSense money via a DBA or just your own name, then your TIN is your social security number.
TIN MATCHING: This is just the process by which the IRS verifies that you are who you say you are: Does your TIN (or SS) match the name you've given Google?
I believe I have two issues. I've fixed one. The other, hopefully, just requires a phone call.
ISSUE 1: THE IRS
I also sent out the IRS postal mail request to get my confirmation number so I could access the IRS's eServices website.
Got the letter today. Went on to the eServices website (http://www.irs.gov/taxpros, then click the eServices link). Confirmed my account.
After that, I was able to actually log on. I did so, then clicked the "Application" link: "Access to apply or revise an existing application on-line for participation in IRS e-file Program, Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) or Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Matching."
Then I clicked "New TIN matching application". After inputting my PIN, I am taken to the "Principal Information" screen.
THIS is where we need to get, I think. This tool allows us to type in our registered business name (in my case, it's just my name), and our TIN (in my case, just my SS#). The tool then does its magic to determine if the name and SS I typed in are valid, and if the SS# is indeed linked to that name.
In my case, it's not. I get an error when I try this matching. While I'm amazed to see typos in this error message, and the message itself is kind of arcane, I think it's telling me simply that there's an error, and my SS or name is either incorrect or not found.
It gives a phone number to call. I called, but they're closed. Will call back in 12 hours or so.
ISSUE 2: GOOGLE
I went back to my tax records, and looked at last year's 1099-MISC form that Google sent me. I actually did a double-take when I realized my social security number was off by one digit!
Not good. So I went into AdSense and made the correction.
As I said, I think I have two issues here. I've corrected one. I'll call the IRS soon and see if I can solve the other one.
1) My initial frustration with all this is that Google seemed very arcane and unhelpful in their email. They could've made the warning message clearer. I remember having to read it multiple times, thinking, "WHAT went wrong again? And exactly WHAT do I have to do?"
2) They (Google? The IRS?) could've given us more time: They send a two-week warning over a USA national holiday / extended weekend, then assume that AdSensers will be checking email immediately after, then still have time to wait for the required postal mail to complete the IRS registration process. I'll bet a lot of people aren't going to get their TINs fixed in time.
3) I had to email Google to verify the email was legit. This email, while extremely important, did NOT show up in the "Recent Messages" section in AdSense reports. Why not? I would think something this easy to convert to a phishing scam would be best handled by an email and a message to "see your Google AdSense message for legitimacy verification and more information".
4) In Google's defense, if you simply follow the links in their email, they tell us everything we need to know about what's wrong and how to fix it. I get the impression from reading up on this issue that this is an IRS requirement - this is not anything Google has control over. In addition, it's nothing they can help us troubleshoot, which is why they give the links to the IRS.
>If you are operating with a DBA (doing business as) name but your
>taxes are reported under your personal name, then you need to give
>Google your personal name, which is probably overriding your
>business name in the IRS database. That's been my problem so now I
>know immediately what to report to anyone who asks, and the problem
Aha - I've been doing AdSense for years now, but at the beginning of this year set up a DBA.
Thanks, grigoroo - you may have pinpointed my remaining issue!
...It's never as easy as you want it to be. I'm chalking it up to my embarrassing ignorance of all things financial.
Instead of summarizing again, I'll just copy/paste the email I just sent to Google. I'm posting this here in the hopes that it'll help someone and prevent the same hassles I had to go through. I'll update if/when I get a response.
I need assistance with the Google-sent email below. In it, you state this:
"You can validate which TIN and payee name combinations are valid for you by applying the same test that Google does: registering with IRS e-services at [irs.gov...] . Once you're registered, you can sign in and click on the TIN matching link to get started."
I think your instruction is incorrect. I registered with the IRS e-services. I ran the matching tool. I called up the IRS after receiving the attached error when trying to do TIN matching on my own account. The IRS told me that I, as a receiver of 1099 forms, am NOT elegible for the TIN matching service. The only people who are elegible to use it are those who PAY 1099 forms.
Looking at my last 1099 from Google, I did see that my reported social security number was incorrect. I logged on to my AdSense account and made the correction. However, I have no way of checking if I've fixed the original problem.
What are my options here? As I said, the instructions in the email only apply to employers (Google) and not receivers (AdSense accounts). Is there a way I or Google can run a test now, to verify my TIN and taxpayer name match? Or must I wait out the stated 14 days, and just hope I don't get hit with the 28% withholding?
It seems that the emails were sent to anyone who receives payment under their name but have their business name listed on the form. In an electronic checkup with IRS that shows an error even if you do have your company listed with the IRS and have a valid EIN. The best thing is to have your name and SS# on the W-9 and the error will be fixed.
Have you heard anything back from Google yet on this? I also discovered after applying as instructed by Google and receiving the authorization code back from the IRS that I as a receiver of the 1099 are not eligle to participate in this verification with the IRS.
It is, as you say for the Google to use and not the receivers of Adsense payments.
ADSENSE ADVISOR, Please note. There's something wrong here! Help!
Nope, haven't heard anything back from them yet. Granted, my first email to them (as well as other non-related emails) took a couple days for a response.
Got a response back from Google. Message appended below. Hopefully I've straightened out my issues.
Thanks so much for your diligence in this matter. I can confirm that your tax information has been resubmitted today. However, to protect the privacy and security of your information, I do not have access to your SSN
or your IRS records.
If at any time, you think a mistake has been made, you're welcome to resubmit your tax information. We'll be checking your tax information within the next few weeks. Please rest assured that if your information is correct no earnings will be withheld. Again, if they are, you can
recuperate them from the IRS on your tax return at the end of the year.
For additional payments related information, visit our Payments Guide at [google.com...] . You can also visit our Help Center at [google.com...] for common questions and
Basically, my situation is that the IRS notified Google that my TIN is basically an abbreviation of my website and dba. It's essentially incorrect, but Google advised me to change my information on my AdSense account to match that with the IRS.
I responded as follows, in part:
OK, this is really a mess. My name is #*$!XX, not YYYYY, as the IRS erroneously has reported.
I never have filed electronically with the IRS and they apparently made this change arbitrarily. I would like to just file with my SSN as #*$!X. I file my taxes every year as required (you send my 1099 and I attach that) and really don't see the point in all this.
If I were to file with Google Adsense as YYYYY, that would then be in error. Isn't there any way to just keep my records as #*$!XX, as they always have been and be done with it?
Again, this seems to be a complete waste of everybody's time, it's very annoying, and I'll tell you sincerely, if you decide to begin withholding on my AdSense earnings, AdSense will quickly begin to be an afterthought on my web site. There are other advertising alternatives and I simply don't need this kind of hassle.
In the end, I am going to do nothing and see what you do. I am an honest taxpayer, an honest AdSense user, but this is just too much of a hassle. Please advise of your decision. I used to think we had rights and freedoms in America. Apparently, that is no longer the case.
Also, please forward to me the IRS rules which allow this kind of nonsense, i.e., backup withholding.
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