IRS eyes small business in new awareness push

WASHINGTON: The Internal Revenue Services' (IRS) small business and self-employed division began an awareness campaign designed to share tax information with new small business owners.

WASHINGTON: The Internal Revenue Services' (IRS) small business and self-employed division began an awareness campaign designed to share tax information with new small business owners.

The campaign's first event will be a free national telephone forum May 21 where callers will receive guidance about tax compliance, record- keeping, and other details to prevent erroneous tax reporting.

Phyllis Grimes, chief industry liaison for the small business and self-employed division of the IRS, said the effort is an expansion of what the agency does now. However, she added, it differs because of its focus on reaching new entrepreneurs who have opened businesses in the past year or two - a group that numbers about 45 million.

"We realized that this was a big sector of the business community that [demanded] more outreach," Grimes said. "The difference with this campaign [is] we want to be a partner with new businesses as they get started."

A second phase of the campaign, which will roll out in September, includes a more concerted media outreach effort focused on the "Your Business Outreach Kit" of tax tips that the IRS and its partners will disseminate.

The IRS did not hire an outside agency for the campaign. Its in-house staff of seven will tackle the target audience using partnerships and its Web site. For example, it is working closely with the National Association of the Self-Employed to publicize information.

As part of the second phase, the IRS division hopes to add educational and financial organizations, like Score, a nonprofit group for small businesses, and even big-box retailers to its list of partners.

"We're looking to partner with [businesses like] Sam's Club and Costco," said Grimes. "We realize that many [entrepreneurs] use them as a business point of contact."

By reaching entrepreneurs early, the IRS seeks to avoid confusion down the line, Grimes added.

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