Jackie StevensJackie Stevens

IRS Announces Opening of 2018 Filing Season Tax season to begin January 29

Posted 1/5/2017

 

The IRS will begin accepting tax returns on January 29. Many software companies will be accepting tax returns before January 29 and then will submit the returns when IRS systems open.

Although the IRS will begin accepting both electronic and paper tax returns January 29, paper returns will begin processing later in mid-February as system updates continue.

The IRS cannot issue refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting on February 27, if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return.

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Posted 9/29/2016

Another Good Reason Not to Get Married, Courtesy of the IRS

Monday, August 22, 2016

New York (August 19, 2016)

​By Ben Steverman

Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) There are plenty of reasons to get married. Your taxes may not be one of them.

Some couples—generally those with one person who earns far more than the other—will see their tax bills fall after marriage. But for two well-paid professionals, tax bills can soar post-marriage, as their combined incomes put them in the highest tax brackets.

And well-off couples just got another financial incentive to cancel the wedding. Unmarried couples can now deduct effectively twice as much of their mortgage and home interest on their tax returns, thanks to a change this month by the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS had little choice: A year ago, it lost a California couple's lawsuit challenging its mortgage-deduction rules. Bruce Voss and Charles Sophy were registered as domestic partners and owned two properties together in California, in Beverly Hills and in Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs. In 2006 and 2007, they had about $2.7 million in debt on their houses, and they were paying a combined interest of about $180,000 a year.

The law says taxpayers can deduct the interest on up to $1 million in mortgage debt and $100,000 in home equity financing. Voss and Sophy each tried to deduct this full amount, but the IRS audited their returns and said the $1.1 million limit had to be applied on a per-residence basis—meaning they had to share the deduction limit and lost the right to $198,415 in deductions over two years. The men sued, but a tax court sided with the IRS. They appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which last August overturned the ruling and found, based on a close reading of the tax code, that the men should each get their own $1.1 million deduction limit.

This month, the IRS “acquiesced” in that ruling—applying it not just to Voss and Sophy and other taxpayers under Ninth Circuit jurisdiction but to all taxpayers nationwide in similar circumstances.

The IRS's new position on the mortgage deduction could be a boon to other unmarried couples who co-own property and split mortgages in expensive areas of the country, such as Manhattan or San Francisco, where median home prices top $1.1 million, according to Zillow.

But it could also pose a dilemma if those couples are planning a wedding: Get married, and you’re limited to deductions of $1.1 million in mortgage and home debt.

“If you stay unmarried, you can deduct up to $2.2 million,” said ReKeithen Miller, a financial planner at Palisades Hudson Financial Group, based in Atlanta. “Not to say you want to let tax policy dictate your personal life, but it’s another thing for them to consider.”

The ruling could also apply to friends or family who want to buy real estate together.

Still, buying real estate with friends, family or an unmarried partner is risky and can get messy if you stop getting along or decide to break up. (A 2006 movie starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn centered on this very scenario.)

“When you’re an unmarried couple, you don’t have protections,” said Janis Cowhey, a lawyer and partner at Marcum, an accounting and advisory firm in New York. “As far as the law is concerned, you’re legal strangers.”

Property co-owners can hire lawyers to write agreements that set out some rules. Co-habitation agreements let unmarried couples agree on all aspects of the relationship—including inheritance rights, medical decisions, property and finances. Ownership agreements are more narrowly focused on how to handle a particular property after a death or breakup, but they can still be complicated documents, Cowhey said, specifying who gets to stay in an apartment or exactly how to sell the property.

“They seem like insane details, but if you’re in the middle of a breakup, they seem like important details,” Cowhey said. “You’re never going to agree on a real estate broker.”

by Jackie Stevens at 12:37 P

Thursday, July 28, 2016

​July 25, 2016

By Daniel Hood

Looking for a gift to give after all those June weddings? How about some solid tax advice for the newlyweds?

Taxes may not be top-of-mind for most new couples, but there are some important tax issues they should be aware of, so the IRS put together the following set of tips.

A slideshow version of this story is available here.

  • New names? Whether one of the spouses takes the other’s name or not, the names and Social Securities on their tax return must match their Social Security Administration records – so if any names are changed, they’ll need to report it to the SSA with Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. The form is available on www.ssa.gov, or by calling (800) 772-1213.
  • Congratulations – you’re in a new bracket! The spouses’ new marital status needs to be reported to their employers on a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. And the IRS was quick to point out that the new couple’s combined income may move them into a higher tax bracket.
  • Yes, there’s an Obamacare angle. If either spouse bought a Health Insurance Marketplace plan got an Advanced Premium Tax Credit this year, they need to report any changes in circumstance, like income or family size. They should also alert their Marketplace is they moved out of its area.
  • Crossing the threshold. If either of the newlyweds is moving, they’ll want to let the IRS know, with Form 8822, Change of Address. (They should probably also let the Post Office know, too.) Don’t make them come looking.
  • Married? Filing jointly? If the couple is married as of December 31, that’s their marital status for the whole year for tax purposes – and that means they need to decide whether to file jointly or separately. Which one is better depends on the couple’s individual circumstances, so they’ll want to check out both possibilities.
  • New forms. Combined financial lives may mean a higher tax bracket, but they can also mean more benefits from itemizing – which would mean claiming those deductions on a Form 1040, as opposed to a 1040A or 1040EZ. This would be a good area for a friendly tax advisor to offer some advice …
  • More IRS resources. The tax services offer a host of resources for new couples, including videos (like this one on “Getting Married”) and more. No need to send them a thank-you card.
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Form 1095: What You Need to Do with this Form

Posted 9/29/2016

IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2016-24, February 25, 2016​
This year, you may receive one or more forms that provide information about your 2015 health coverage.  These forms are 1095-A, 1095-B and 1095-C. This tip is part of a series that answers your questions about these forms.
Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, provides you with information about your health care coverage if you or someone in your family enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Here are the answers to questions you're asking about Form 1095-A:
Will I get a Form 1095-A?

    • The Marketplace will send you a Form 1095-A if you, your spouse or a dependent enrolled in coverage for 2015. Most individuals did not enroll in Marketplace coverage and will not receive this form.
    • The Marketplace may send you more than one Form 1095-A if any of these apply:
      • Members of your household were not all enrolled in the same health plan
      • You updated your family information during the year
      • You switched plans during the year
      • You had family members enrolled in different states
    • The Form 1095-A is not new, but some people may receive it for the first time this year.

      How do I use the information on my Form 1095-A?
    • This form provides information about your Marketplace coverage, including the names of covered individuals and which months they were covered last year.  
    • Use the information from Form 1095-A to complete Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit, and reconcile advance payments of the premium tax credit or – if you are eligible – to claim the premium tax credit on your tax return.
    • If you received advance payments, which are shown on lines 21-33 of Form 1095-A, you must file a tax return, and include Form 8962, even if you are not otherwise required to file a return.  Filing your return without reconciling your advance payments will delay your refund and may affect future advance credit payments.
    • If Form 1095-A, Part II shows coverage for you and everyone in your family for the entire year, you can simply check the full-year coverage box on your tax return to satisfy the individual shared responsibility provision.
    • If there were months that you did not have coverage, you should determine if you qualify for an exemption from the requirement to have coverage. If not, you must make an individual shared responsibility payment.
    • Do not attach Form 1095-A to your tax return - keep it with your tax records.

      What if I don't get my Form 1095-A?
    • If you are expecting to receive a Form 1095-A, you should wait to file your 2015 income tax return until you receive this form.  Filing before you receive this form may delay your refund.
    • The IRS does not issue and cannot provide you with your Form 1095-A. If you are expecting a form and do not get one, you should contact your Marketplace. Visit your Marketplace's website to find out the steps you need to follow to get a copy of your Form 1095-A online. 
    • You can find more information about your Form 1095-A from the Health Insurance Marketplace.

      Depending upon your circumstances, you might also receive Forms 1095-B and 1095-C. For information on these forms, see our Questions and Answers about Health Care Information Forms for Individuals.

       

       

      Form 1095-B: What You Need to Do with this Form

      IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2016-22, February 23, 2016                                                      Español

      This year, you may receive one or more forms that provide information about your 2015 health coverage.  These forms are 1095-A, 1095-B and 1095-C. This tip is part of a series that answers your questions about these forms.

      Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, provides you with information about your health care coverage if you, your spouse or your dependents enrolled in coverage through an insurance provider or self-insured employer last year.

      Here are the answers to questions you're asking about Form 1095-B:

      Will I get a Form 1095-B?
    • You will receive Form 1095-B - which is a new form this year – from your insurance provider if you had insurance for you or your family members.
    • The term "health insurance providers" includes insurance companies, some self-insured employers, and government agencies that run Medicare, Medicaid or CHIP.
    • You are likely to get more than one form if:
      • You had coverage from more than one provider
      • You changed coverage or employers during the year
      • If different members of your family received coverage from different providers

        How do I use the information on my Form 1095-B?
    • This form provides information about your health coverage, including who was covered, and when the coverage was in effect. 
    • If Form 1095-B, Part IV, Column (d), shows coverage for you and everyone in your family for the entire year, you can simply check the full-year coverage box on your tax return.
    • If you did not have coverage for the entire year, use Form 1095-B, Part IV, Column (e), to determine the months when you or your family members had coverage. If there were months that you did not have coverage, you should determine if you qualify for an exemption from the requirement to have coverage. If not, you must make an individual shared responsibility payment.
    • You are not required to file a tax return solely because you received a Form 1095-B if you are otherwise not required to file a tax return.
    • Do not attach Form 1095-B to your tax return - keep it with your tax records.

      What if I don't get my Form 1095-B?
    • You might not receive a Form 1095-B by the time you are ready to file your 2015 tax return, and it is not necessary to wait for it to file.
    • The information on these forms may assist in preparing a return, and you, however you can prepare and file your return using other information about your health insurance.
    • The IRS does not issue and cannot provide you with your Form 1095-B. For questions about your Form 1095-B, contact the coverage provider. See line 18 of the Form 1095-B for a contact number.

      Depending upon your circumstances, you might also receive Forms 1095-A and 1095-C. For information on these forms, see our Questions and Answers about Health Care Information Forms for Individuals.

       

      Form 1095-C: What You Need to Do with this Form

      IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2016-23, February 24, 2016                                                                       Español

      This year, you may receive one or more forms that provide information about your 2015 health coverage.  These forms are 1095-A, 1095-B and 1095-C. This tip is part of a series that answers your questions about these forms.

      Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Insurance, provides you with information about the health coverage offered by your employer.  In some cases, it may also provide information about whether you enrolled in this coverage.

      Here are the answers to questions you're asking about Form 1095-C:

      Will I get a Form 1095-C?
    • You will receive a Form 1095-C – which is a new form this year – if you were a full time employee working for an applicable large employer last year. An applicable larger employer is generally an employer with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees.
    • Even if you were not a full time employee, you will receive form 1095-C if your employer offered self-insured coverage and you or a family member enrolled in that coverage.
    • You might get more than one Form 1095-C if you worked for more than one applicable large employer last year.

      How do I use the information on my Form 1095-C?
    • This form provides you with information about the health coverage offered by your employer and, in some cases, about whether you enrolled in this coverage.
    • If you enrolled in a health plan through the Marketplace, the information in Part II of Form 1095-C could help determine if you're eligible for the premium tax credit. If you did not enroll in a health plan through the Marketplace, this information is not relevant to you. 
    • If there is information in Part III of Form 1095-C, review this information to determine if there are months when you or your family members did not have coverage. If there are months you did not have coverage, you should determine if you qualify for an exemption from the requirement to have coverage. If not, you must make an individual shared responsibility payment.
    • You are not required to file a tax return solely because you received a Form 1095-C if you are otherwise not required to file a tax return.
    • Do not attach Form 1095-C to your tax return - keep it with your tax records.

      What if I don't get my Form 1095-C?
    • You might not receive a Form 1095-C by the time you are ready to file your 2015 tax return, and it is not necessary to wait for it to file.
    • The information on these forms may assist in preparing a return. However, you can prepare and file your return using other information about your health insurance.
    • The IRS does not issue and cannot provide you with your Form 1095-C. For questions about your Form 1095-C, contact your employer. See line 10 of Form 1095-C for a contact number.  

       ​

by Jackie Stevens at 11:20 AM

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Affordable Care Act requires you and each member of your family to have minimum essential coverage, qualify for an insurance coverage exemption, or make an individual shared responsibility payment for months without coverage or an exemption when you file your federal income tax return.

You, your spouse or your dependents may be eligible to claim an exemption from the requirement to have coverage and are not required to make a payment. .For any month that you do not qualify for a coverage exemption, you will need to have minimum essential coverage or make a shared responsibility payment.

You can claim most exemptions when you file your tax return. However, you must apply for certain exemptions in advance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, You may be exempt if:

    • The minimum amount you must pay for the annual premiums is more than 8.05 percent of your household income
    • You have a gap in coverage that is less than three consecutive months
    • You qualify for an exemption for one of several other reasons, including having a hardship that prevents you from obtaining coverage, or belonging to a group explicitly exempt from the requirement

Claiming an exemption when you file

You will claim or report coverage exemptions on Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, and attach it to Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040EZ. You can file each of these forms electronically

If your income is below your filing threshold and you are not required to file a tax return, you are eligible for an automatic exemption and you do not have to file a tax return to claim it. You do not need to file a return solely to report your coverage or to claim a coverage exemption.

However, if you choose to file a tax return, you will use Part II, Coverage Exemptions for Your Household Claimed on Your Return, of Form 8965 to claim a health coverage exemption. You should not make an individual shared responsibility payment if you qualify for this exemption because your income is below the filing threshold.

You can claim other IRS-granted coverage exemptions on your tax return using Part III, Coverage Exemptions for Individuals Claimed on Your Return, of Form 8965.  For a coverage exemption that you qualify to claim on your tax return, all you need to do is file Form 8965 with your tax return.  You do not need to contact the IRS to obtain an exemption in advance.

Reporting Marketplace granted exemptions

If you are granted a coverage exemption from the Marketplace, they will send you a notice with your unique Exemption Certificate Number or ECN. You will enter your ECN in Part I, Marketplace-Granted Coverage Exemptions for Individuals, of Form 8965 in Column C.

If the Marketplace hasn't processed your exemption application before you file your tax return, complete Part I of Form 8965 and enter "pending" in Column C for each person listed. If you can claim the exemption on your return, you do not need an ECN from the Marketplace. 

by Jackie Stevens at 1:17 PM

Thursday, January 28, 2016

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers that it issues 90 percent of refunds in less than 21 days. The best way to check the status of a refund is online through the "Where's my Refund?" tool at IRS.gov or via the IRS2Go phone app.

"As February approaches, more and more taxpayers want to know when they can expect their refunds," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "There aren't any secret tricks to checking on the status of a refund. Using IRS.gov is the best way for taxpayers to get the latest information."

Many taxpayers are eager to know precisely when their money will be arriving, but checking "Where's My Refund" more than once a day will not produce new information. The status of refunds is refreshed only once a day, generally overnight.

"Where's My Refund?" has the most up to date information available about your refund. Taxpayers should use this tool rather than calling.

Taxpayers can use "Where's My Refund?"  to start checking on the status of their return within 24 hours after IRS has received an e-filed return or four weeks after receipt of a mailed paper return. "Where's My Refund?" has a tracker that displays progress through three stages: (1) Return Received, (2) Refund Approved and (3) Refund Sent.

The IRS2Go phone app is another fast and safe tool taxpayers can use to check the status of a refund. In addition, users can use the app to find free tax preparation help, make a payment, watch the IRS YouTube channel, get the latest IRS news, and subscribe to filing season updates and tax tips. The app is free for Android devices from the Google Play Store or from the Apple App Store for Apple devices.

Users of both the IRS2Go app and "Where's my Refund" tools must have information from their current, pending tax return to access their refund information.

The IRS reminded taxpayers there's no advantage to calling about refunds. IRS representatives can only research the status of your refund in limited situations: if it has been 21 days or more since you filed electronically, more than six weeks since you mailed your paper return, or "Where's My Refund?" directs you to contact us. If the IRS needs more information to process your tax return, we will contact you by mail.

The IRS continues to strongly encourage the use of e-file and direct deposit as the fastest and safest way to file an accurate return and receive a tax refund. More than four out of five tax returns are expected to be filed electronically, with a similar proportion of refunds issued through direct deposit.

The IRS Free File program offers free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $62,000 or less. Seventy percent of the nation's taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. All taxpayers regardless of income will again have access to free online fillable forms, which provide electronic versions of IRS paper forms to complete and file. Both options are available through IRS.gov.

by Jackie Stevens at 12:38 PM

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Most people can claim an exemption on their tax return. It can lower your taxable income. In most cases, that reduces the amount of tax you owe for the year. Here are the top 10 tax facts about exemptions to help you file your tax return.

1. E-file Your Tax Return.  Easy does it! Use IRS E-file to file a complete and accurate tax return. The software will help you determine the number of exemptions that you can claim. E-file options include free Volunteer Assistance, IRS Free File, commercial software and professional assistance.

2. Exemptions Cut Income.  There are two types of exemptions. The first type is a personal exemption. The second type is an exemption for a dependent. You can usually deduct $4,000 for each exemption you claim on your 2015 tax return.

3. Personal Exemptions.  You can usually claim an exemption for yourself. If you’re married and file a joint return, you can claim one for your spouse, too. If you file a separate return, you can claim an exemption for your spouse only if your spouse:

    • Had no gross income,
    • Is not filing a tax return, and
    • Was not the dependent of another taxpayer.

4. Exemptions for Dependents.  You can usually claim an exemption for each of your dependents. A dependent is either your child or a relative who meets a set of tests. You can’t claim your spouse as a dependent. You must list the Social Security number of each dependent you claim on your tax return. For more on these rules, see IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information. Get Publication 501 on IRS.gov. Just click on the Forms& Pubs tab on the home page.

5. Report Health Care Coverage. The health care law requires you to report certain health insurance information for you and your family. The individual shared responsibility provision requires you and each member of your family to either:

    Visit IRS.gov/ACA for more on these rules.

6. Some People Don’t Qualify. You normally may not claim married persons as dependents if they file a joint return with their spouse. There are some exceptions to this rule.

7. Dependents May Have to File.  A person who you can claim as your dependent may have to file their own tax return. This depends on certain factors, like total income, whether they are married and if they owe certain taxes.

8. No Exemption on Dependent’s Return.  If you can claim a person as a dependent, that person can’t claim a personal exemption on his or her own tax return. This is true even if you don’t actually claim that person on your tax return. This rule applies because you can claim that person as your dependent.

9. Exemption Phase-Out.  The $4,000 per exemption is subject to income limits. This rule may reduce or eliminate the amount you can claim based on the amount of your income. See Publication 501 for details.

10. Try the IRS Online Tool.  Use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on IRS.gov to see if a person qualifies as your dependent. 

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.

by Jackie Stevens at 12:37 PM

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Most people file a tax return because they have to, but even if you don't, there are times when you should. You may be eligible for a tax refund and not know it. Here are six tips to help you find out if you should file a tax return:

    1. General Filing Rules. Whether you need to file a tax return depends on a few factors. In most cases, the amount of your income, your filing status and your age determine if you must file a tax return. For example, if you're single and under age 65 you must file if your income was at least $10,300. Other rules may apply if you're self-employed or if you're a dependent of another person. There are also other cases when you must file. Go to IRS.gov/filing to find out if you need to file.
    2. Premium Tax Credit.  If you enrolled in health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace in 2015, you may be eligible for the premium tax credit. You will need to file a return to claim the credit. If you chose to have advance payments of the premium tax credit sent directly to your insurer during 2015 you must file a federal tax return. You will reconcile any advance payments with the allowable premium tax credit. You should receive Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, by early February. The form will have information that will help you file your tax return
    3. Tax Withheld or Paid. Did your employer withhold federal income tax from your pay? Did you make estimated tax payments? Did you overpay last year and have it applied to this year's tax? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you could be due a refund. But you have to file a tax return to get it.
    4. Earned Income Tax Credit. Did you work and earn less than $53,267 last year? You could receive EITC as a tax refund, if you qualify, with or without a qualifying child. You may be eligible for up to $6,242. Use the 2015 EITC Assistant tool on IRS.gov to find out if you qualify. If you do, file a tax return to claim it.
    5. Additional Child Tax Credit. Do you have at least one child that qualifies for the Child Tax Credit? If you don't get the full credit amount, you may qualify for the Additional Child Tax Credit.
    6. American Opportunity Tax Credit. The AOTC is available for four years of post secondary education and can be up to $2,500 per eligible student. You, your spouse or your dependent must have been a student enrolled at least half time for at least one academic period. Even if you don't owe any taxes, you still may qualify. You must complete Form 8863, Education Credits, and file it with your return to claim the credit. Use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on IRS.gov to see if you can claim the credit. Learn more by visiting the IRS' Education Credits Web page.

      The instructions for Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ list income tax filing requirements. You can also use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on IRS.gov. Look for "Do I need to file a return?" under general topics to see if you need to file. The tool is available 24/7 to answer many tax questions. 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.​

by Jackie Stevens at 11:57 AM

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The IRS has released the 2016 standard mileage rates for taxpayers to use in computing the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical, or moving expense purposes. The following chart reflects the new 2016 standard mileage rates compared to the 2015 and 2014 tax year standard mileage rates.

 

2016

2015

2014

Business rate per mile

54.0¢

57.5¢

56.0¢

Medical and moving rate per mile

19.0¢

23.0¢

23.5¢

Charitable rate per mile

14.0¢

14.0¢

14.0¢

Depreciation rate per mile

24.0¢

24.0¢

22.0¢​

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