Category Archives: IRS

IRS to Parents: Don’t Miss Out on These Tax Savers

The following is IRS Tax Tip 2016-17:

Children may help reduce the amount of taxes owed for the year. If you’re a parent, here are several tax benefits you should look for when you file your federal tax return:

  • Dependents.  In most cases, you can claim your child as a dependent. You can deduct $4,000 for each dependent you are entitled to claim. You must reduce this amount if your income is above certain limits. For more on these rules, see Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information.
  • Child Tax Credit.  You may be able to claim the Child Tax Credit for each of your qualifying children under the age of 17. The maximum credit is $1,000 per child. If you get less than the full amount of the credit, you may be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit. For more information, see Schedule 8812 and Publication 972, Child Tax Credit.
  • Child and Dependent Care Credit.  You may be able to claim this credit if you paid for the care of one or more qualifying persons. Dependent children under age 13 are among those who qualify. You must have paid for care so that you could work or look for work. See Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses, for more on this credit.
  • Earned Income Tax Credit.  You may qualify for EITC if you worked but earned less than $53,267 last year. You can get up to $6,242 in EITC. You may qualify with or without children. Use the 2015 EITC Assistant tool at IRS.gov to find out if you qualify. See Publication 596, Earned Income Tax Credit, to learn more.
  • Adoption Credit.  You may be able to claim a tax credit for certain costs you paid to adopt a child. For details see Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses.
  • Education Tax Credits.  An education credit can help you with the cost of higher education.  Two credits are available. The American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit may reduce the amount of tax you owe. If the credit reduces your tax to less than zero, you may get a refund. Even if you don’t owe any taxes, you still may qualify. You must complete Form 8863, Education Credits, and file a return to claim these credits. Use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on IRS.gov to see if you can claim them. Visit the IRS’s Education Credits Web page to learn more on this topic. Also, see Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.
  • Student Loan Interest.  You may be able to deduct interest you paid on a qualified student loan. You can claim this benefit even if you do not itemize your deductions. For more information, see Publication 970.
  • Self-employed Health Insurance Deduction.  If you were self-employed and paid for health insurance, you may be able to deduct premiums you paid during the year. This may include the cost to cover your children under age 27, even if they are not your dependent. See Publication 535, Business Expenses, for details.

You can get related forms and publications on IRS.gov.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.

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Ways to Pay Your Tax Bill

The following is IRS Tax Tip 2016-14:

If you owe federal tax, the IRS offers many easy ways to pay. Make sure you pay by the April 18 deadline, even if you get an extension of time to file your 2015 tax return. You can get an automatic extension of time to file when you make an electronic payment by April 18. Here are some of the ways to pay your tax:

  • Use Direct Pay.  IRS Direct Pay offers taxpayers a free, secure and easy way to pay. You can schedule a payment in advance to pay your tax directly from your checking or savings account. You don’t need to register, write a check or find a mailbox. Direct Pay gives you instant confirmation after you make a payment.
  • Pay by Debit or Credit Card.  Choose a payment processor  to make a tax payment online, by phone or by mobile device. It’s safe and secure. The payment processor will charge a processing fee. The fees vary by service provider and may be tax deductible. No part of the fee goes to the IRS.
  • Use IRS2Go. IRS2Go is a free app that you can use to make a payment with Direct Pay and by debit or credit card. Simply download IRS2Go from Google Play, the Apple App Store or Amazon.
  • Pay When You E-file. If you file your federal tax return electronically, you can schedule a payment at the time that you file. You can pay directly from your bank account using Electronic Funds Withdrawal.  You choose the date and amount of the payment, and as long as it is on or before April 18, it will be on time. Some software that you use to e-file also allows you to pay by debit or credit card with a processing fee.
  • Choose Other Options to Pay. The IRS offers other ways to pay:
    • Use the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System to pay your taxes online or by phone. This free system provides security, ease and accuracy. To enroll or for more information, call 888-555-4477 or visit EFTPS.gov.
    • Pay by Check or Money Order. Make the check, money order or cashier’s check payable to the U.S. Treasury. Do not staple, clip or attach your payment to the tax form. Include your name, address, daytime phone number and Social Security number or Employer Identification Number on the front of the payment. Use the SSN shown first if it’s a joint return. Also include the tax year and related tax form or notice number. Do not send cash through the mail.
  • Can’t Pay Now?  If you are unable to pay in full, you have options:
    • Apply for an online payment agreement to pay your tax liability over time. Use the IRS.gov tool to set up a direct debit installment agreement. With a direct debit plan there is no need to write a check and mail it each month.
    • Owe more than you can afford? An offer in compromise may allow you to settle for less than the full amount you owe. It may be an option for you if you can’t pay your full tax liability. It may also be an option if paying in full creates a financial hardship. Not everyone qualifies. Use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool to see if you are eligible for an OIC.

In short, remember to pay your tax bill on time. If you are suffering a financial hardship, the IRS is willing to work with you.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.

IRS YouTube Video:

IRS Tax Payment Options[View]

Top Year-End IRA Reminders from IRS

The following is IRS Special Edition Tax Tip 2015-21:

Individual Retirement Accounts, or IRAs, are important vehicles for you to save for retirement. If you have an IRA or plan to start one soon, there are a few key year-end rules that you should know. Here are the top year-end IRA reminders from the IRS:

  • Know the contribution and deduction limits.  You can contribute up to a maximum of $5,500 ($6,500 if you are age 50 or older) to a traditional or Roth IRA. If you file a joint return, you and your spouse can each contribute to an IRA even if only one of you has taxable compensation. You have until April 18, 2016, to make an IRA contribution for 2015. In some cases, you may need to reduce your deduction for your traditional IRA contributions. This rule applies if you or your spouse has a retirement plan at work and your income is above a certain level.
  • Avoid excess contributions.  If you contribute more than the IRA limits for 2015, you are subject to a six percent tax on the excess amount. The tax applies each year that the excess amounts remain in your account. You can avoid the tax if you withdraw the excess amounts from your account by the due date of your 2015 tax return (including extensions).
  • Take required distributions.  If you’re at least age 70½, you must take a required minimum distribution, or RMD, from your traditional IRA. You are not required to take a RMD from your Roth IRA. You normally must take your RMD by Dec. 31, 2015. That deadline is April 1, 2016, if you turned 70½ in 2015. If you have more than one traditional IRA, you figure the RMD separately for each IRA. However, you can withdraw the total amount from one or more of them. If you don’t take your RMD on time you face a 50 percent excise tax on the RMD amount you failed to take out.
  • IRA distributions may affect your premium tax credit. If you take a distribution from your IRA at the end of the year and expect to claim the PTC, you should exercise caution regarding the amount of the distribution.  Taxable distributions increase your household income, which can make you ineligible for the PTC.  You will become ineligible if the increase causes your household income for the year to be above 400 percent of the Federal poverty line for your family size. In this circumstance, you must repay the entire amount of any advance payments of the premium tax credit that were made to your health insurance provider on your behalf.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.

Three Tax Considerations during Marketplace Open Enrollment

The following is IRS Tax Tips Issue Revised HCTT-2015-73:

When you apply for assistance to help pay the premiums for health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, the Marketplace will estimate the amount of the premium tax credit that you may be able to claim.  The Marketplace will use information you provide about your family composition, your projected household income, whether those that you are enrolling are eligible for other non-Marketplace coverage, and certain other information to estimate your credit.

Here are three things you should consider during the Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment period:

1. Advance credit payments lower premiums – You can choose to have all, some, or none of your estimated credit paid in advance directly to your insurance company on your behalf to lower what you pay out-of-pocket for your monthly premiums.  These payments are called advance payments of the premium tax credit or advance credit payments.  If you do not get advance credit payments, you will be responsible for paying the full monthly premium.

2. A tax return may be required – If you received the benefit of advance credit payments, you must file a tax return to reconcile the amount of advance credit payments made on your behalf with the amount of your actual premium tax credit.  You must file an income tax return for this purpose even if you are otherwise not required to file a return.

3. Credit can be claimed at tax time – If you choose not to get advance credit payments, or get less than the full amount in advance, you can claim the full benefit of the premium tax credit that you are allowed when you file your tax return. This will increase your refund or lower the amount of tax that you would otherwise owe.

For more information about open season enrollment, which runs through January 31, 2016, visit Healthcare.gov. See our Questions and Answers on IRS.gov/ca for information about the premium tax credit.

Understanding Your Form 1095-B, Health Coverage

The following is IRS Tax Tips Issue Number HCTT-2015-70:

Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, is used to report certain information to the IRS and to taxpayers about individuals who are covered by minimum essential coverage and therefore aren’t liable for the individual shared responsibility payment.

Minimum essential coverage includes government-sponsored programs, eligible employer-sponsored plans, individual market plans, and other coverage the Department of Health and Human Services designates as minimum essential coverage.

By January 31, 2016, health coverage providers should furnish a copy of Form 1095-B, to you if you are identified as the “responsible individual” on the form.

The “responsible individual” is the person who, based on a relationship to the covered individuals, the primary name on the coverage, or some other circumstances, should receive the statement. Generally, the recipient should be the taxpayer who would be liable for the individual shared responsibility payment for the covered individuals. A recipient may be a parent if only minor children are covered individuals, a primary subscriber for insured coverage, an employee or former employee in the case of employer-sponsored coverage, a uniformed services sponsor for TRICARE, or another individual who should receive the statement. Health coverage providers may, but aren’t required to, furnish a statement to more than one recipient.

The Form 1095-B sent to you may include  only the last four digits of your social security number or taxpayer identification number, replacing the first five digits with asterisks or Xs. In general, statements must be sent on paper by mail or hand delivered, unless you consent to receive the statement in an electronic format.  The consent ensures that you will be able to access the electronic statement. If mailed, the statement must be sent to your last known permanent address, or, if no permanent address is known, to your temporary address.

Additional information about minimum essential coverage and the individual shared responsibility provision is at IRS.gov/aca.

More information:

IRS Urges Public to Stay Alert for Scam Phone Calls

The following is IRS Special Edition Tax Tip 2015-18:

The IRS continues to warn consumers to guard against scam phone calls from thieves intent on stealing their money or their identity. Criminals pose as the IRS to trick victims out of their money or personal information. Here are several tips to help you avoid being a victim of these scams:

  • Scammers make unsolicited calls.  Thieves call taxpayers claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via phishing email.
  • Callers try to scare their victims.  Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don’t get the money.
  • Scams use caller ID spoofing.  Scammers often alter caller ID to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.
  • Cons try new tricks all the time.  Some schemes provide an actual IRS address where they tell the victim to mail a receipt for the payment they make. Others use emails that contain a fake IRS document with a phone number or an email address for a reply. These scams often use official IRS letterhead in emails or regular mail that they send to their victims. They try these ploys to make the ruse look official.
  • Scams cost victims over $23 million.  The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, has received reports of about 736,000 scam contacts since October 2013. Nearly 4,550 victims have collectively paid over $23 million as a result of the scam.

The IRS will not:

  • Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
  • Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
  • Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.

If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:

  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.

Phone scams first tried to sting older people, new immigrants to the U.S. and those who speak English as a second language. Now the crooks try to swindle just about anyone. And they’ve ripped-off people in every state in the nation.

Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.

Due-date Changes for Partnership and C Corporation Returns

This article was originally published in Hershey Advisors’ monthly Tax and Business Alert.

On July 31, 2015, the President signed the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 (the Highway Act) into law, providing a three-month extension of the general expenditure authority for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Part of the HTF extension was paid for by changes to tax compliance provisions, the most significant of which is a change to the longstanding due date for C corporation [Form 1120 (“U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return”)] and partnership [Form 1065 (“U.S. Return of Partnership Income”)] returns.
For tax years beginning after 2015, the Highway Act switches the Form 1120 and Form 1065 initial due dates. Thus, beginning with 2016 returns:

  • The Form 1065 due date will be accelerated by a month to two and a half months after the close of the partnership’s tax year (March 15 for calendar-year partnerships). A six-month extension (through September 15 for calendar-year partnerships) will also be allowed.
  • The Form 1120 due date will generally be deferred by a month to three and a half months after the close of the corporation’s tax year (April 15 for calendar-year corporations). However, under a special transition rule, for C corporations with fiscal years ending on June 30, the change won’t apply (it will continue to be September 15) until tax years beginning after 2025. An automatic six-month extension will generally be allowed. However, until 2026, an automatic five-month extension (to September 15) applies to calendar-year corporations and an automatic seven-month extension (to April 15) applies to June 30 fiscal year corporations.

Note that the filing deadline for S corporations has not changed. So, for years beginning after 2015, S corporations and partnerships will have the same March 15 filing deadlines. Also, for calendar-year entities, the revised deadlines will first apply to 2016 returns filed in 2017.