Author Archives: teamtaxa214

IRS encourages preparation for natural disaster

As Dorian threatens and with the peak of hurricane season just ahead, the Internal Revenue Service reminds everyone to develop an emergency preparedness plan. Taxpayers, whether individuals, organizations or businesses, should take time now to create or update their emergency plans.

Taxpayers can begin getting ready for a disaster with a preparedness plan that includes securing and duplicating essential documents, creating lists of property and knowing where to find information once a disaster has occurred.

Secure key documents and make copies

Taxpayers should place original documents such as tax returns, birth certificates, deeds, titles and insurance policies inside waterproof containers in a secure space. Duplicates of these documents should be kept with a trusted person outside the area a natural disaster may affect. Scanning them for backup storage on electronic media such as a flash drive is another option that provides security and easy portability.

Document valuables and equipment

Taking photographs or videos of a home or business’s contents can help support claims for insurance or tax benefits after a disaster strikes. All property, especially expensive and high value items, should be recorded. The IRS disaster-loss workbooks can help individuals (PDF) and businesses (PDF) compile lists of belongings or business equipment.

Employers should check fiduciary bonds

Employers who use payroll service providers should ask the provider if it has a fiduciary bond in place. The bond could protect the employer in the event of default by the payroll service provider. The IRS also encourages employers to create an EFTPS.gov account where they can monitor their payroll tax deposits and sign up for email alerts.

Rebuilding documents

Reconstructing records after a disaster may be required for tax purposes, getting federal assistance or insurance reimbursement. Taxpayers who have lost some or all of their records during a disaster should visit IRS’s Reconstructing Records webpage.

IRS stands ready

In the case of a federally-declared disaster, taxpayers can visit the Tax Relief in Disaster Situations webpage for information or call 866-562-5227 to speak with an IRS specialist trained to handle disaster-related issues.

A taxpayer impacted by a disaster outside of a federally declared disaster area may qualify for disaster relief. This includes taxpayers who are not physically located in a disaster area, but whose records necessary to meet a filing or payment deadline postponed during the relief period are located in a covered disaster area. Taxpayers located outside of a federally declared disaster area must self-identify to receive relief by calling 866-562-5227.

Act promptly to avoid revocation of passports

Individuals with significant tax debt should act promptly to avoid revocation of passports

The Internal Revenue Service today urged taxpayers to resolve their significant tax debts to avoid putting their passports in jeopardy. They should contact the IRS now to avoid delays in their travel plans later.

Under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the IRS notifies the State Department (State) of taxpayers certified as owing a seriously delinquent tax debt, which is currently $52,000 or more. The law then requires State to deny their passport application or renewal. If a taxpayer currently has a valid passport, State may revoke the passport or limit a taxpayer’s ability to travel outside the United States.

When the IRS certifies a taxpayer to State as owing a seriously delinquent tax debt, the taxpayer receives a Notice CP508C from the IRS. The notice explains what steps the taxpayer needs to take to resolve the debt. IRS telephone assistors can help taxpayers resolve the debt. For example, they can help taxpayers set up a payment plan or make them aware of other payment options. Taxpayers should not delay because some resolutions take longer than others.

Don’t Delay!

It’s especially important for taxpayers with imminent travel plans who have had their passport applications denied by State to call the IRS promptly. The IRS can help taxpayers resolve their tax issues and expedite reversal of their certification to State. When expedited, the IRS can generally shorten the 30 days processing time by 14 to 21 days. For expedited reversal of their certification, taxpayers will need to inform the IRS that they have travel scheduled within 45 days or that they live abroad.

For expedited treatment, taxpayers must provide the following documents to the IRS:

  • Proof of travel. This can be a flight itinerary, hotel reservation, cruise ticket, international car insurance or other document showing location and approximate date of travel or time-sensitive need for a passport.
  • Copy of letter from State denying their passport application or revoking their passport. State has sole authority to issue, limit, deny or revoke a passport.

The IRS may ask State to exercise its authority to revoke a taxpayer’s passport. For example, the IRS may recommend revocation if the IRS had reversed a taxpayer’s certification because of their promise to pay, and they failed to pay. The IRS may also ask State to revoke a passport if the taxpayer could use offshore activities or interests to resolve their debt but chooses not to.

Before contacting State about revoking a taxpayer’s passport, the IRS will send Letter 6152, Notice of Intent to Request U.S. Department of State Revoke Your Passport, to the taxpayer to let them know  what the IRS intends to do and give them another opportunity to resolve their debts . Taxpayers must call the IRS within 30 days from the date of the letter. Generally, the IRS will not recommend revoking a taxpayer’s passport if the taxpayer is making a good-faith attempt to resolve their tax debts.

Ways to Resolve Tax Issues

There are several ways taxpayers can avoid having the IRS notify State of their seriously delinquent tax debt. They include the following:

  • Paying the tax debt in full,
  • Paying the tax debt timely under an approved installment agreement,
  • Paying the tax debt timely under an accepted offer in compromise,
  • Paying the tax debt timely under the terms of a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice,
  • Having a pending collection due process appeal with a levy, or
  • Having collection suspended because a taxpayer has made an innocent spouse election or requested innocent spouse relief.

Relief programs for unpaid taxes

Frequently, taxpayers qualify for one of several relief programs including the following:

  • Payment agreement. Taxpayers can ask for a payment plan with the IRS by filing Form 9465. Taxpayers can download this form from IRS.gov and mail it along with a tax return, bill or notice. Taxpayers who are eligible can use the Online Payment Agreement system to set up a monthly payment agreement. Using the Online Payment Agreement system is cheaper and can save time.
  • Offer in compromise. Some taxpayers may qualify for an offer in compromise, an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the tax liability for less than the full amount owed. The IRS looks at the taxpayer’s income and assets to determine the taxpayer’s ability to pay. Taxpayers can use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool to help them determine whether they’re eligible for an offer in compromise.

Subject to change, the IRS also will not certify a taxpayer as owing a seriously delinquent tax debt or will reverse the certification for a taxpayer:

  • Who’s in bankruptcy,
  • Who’s identified by the IRS as a victim of tax-related identity theft,
  • Whose account the IRS has determined is currently not collectible due to hardship,
  • Who’s located within a federally declared disaster area,
  • Who has a request pending with the IRS for an installment agreement,
  • Who has a pending offer in compromise with the IRS, or
  • Who has an IRS accepted adjustment that will satisfy the debt in full.

For taxpayers serving in a combat zone who owe a seriously delinquent tax debt, the IRS postpones notifying the State Department of the delinquency and the taxpayer’s passport is not subject to denial during the time of service in a combat zone.

Report health care coverage on 2018 tax return

As taxpayers are completing their 2018 tax returns this year, they must complete the lines related to health care.

For tax year 2018, the IRS will not consider a return complete and accurate if individuals do not do one of the following on their return:

  • Report full-year health coverage
  • Claim a coverage exemption
  • Report and make a shared responsibility payment for everyone on the tax return

The law continues to require taxpayers who do not qualify for an exemption to maintain health care coverage in 2018 or make a shared responsibility payment when they file their tax return.

Most taxpayers have qualifying health coverage or a coverage exemption for all 12 months in the year and will check the box on the front of their tax return. Taxpayers who can check the box don’t have to file Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, to claim any coverage exemptions. This includes the coverage exemption for household income below the filing threshold.

Taxpayers who did not have coverage for the entire year and therefore can’t check the box generally must report a shared responsibility payment when they file. They will report this payment for each month that anyone listed on the tax return didn’t have qualifying health care coverage or a coverage exemption.

Taxpayers can determine if they are eligible for a coverage exemption or are responsible for the individual shared responsibility payment by using the Interactive Tax Assistant on IRS.gov.

In addition, taxpayers may be eligible for the premium tax credit if they purchased health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Anyone who needs health coverage can visit HealthCare.gov to learn about health insurance options that are available for them and their family.

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the shared responsibility payment is reduced to zero for tax year 2019 and all subsequent years. See Publication 5307, Tax Reform Basics for Individuals and Families, for information about the shared responsibility payment for tax year 2019.

How to know if you need to file taxes.

Here’s what taxpayers should consider when determining if they need to file

As people prepare to file their taxes, there are things to consider. They will want to determine if they need to file and the best way to do so.

For tax year 2018, all individual taxpayers will file using the new Form 1040. Forms 1040A and 1040EZ are no longer available.  Taxpayers who previously filed these forms will now file Form 1040. The new Form 1040 uses a “building block” approach allowing individuals to add only the schedules they need to their 2018 federal tax return. Taxpayers with more complicated returns will need to complete one or more of the new Form 1040 Schedules. This group of taxpayers includes those who claim certain deductions or credits, or who owe additional taxes.

Individuals who filed their federal tax return electronically last year may not notice any changes, as the tax return preparation software will automatically use their answers to the tax questions to complete the Form 1040 and any needed schedules.

Here are three more things for people to keep in mind as they prepare to file their taxes:

Who is required to file.  In most cases, income, filing status and age determine if a taxpayer must file a tax return. Other rules may apply if the taxpayer is self-employed or if they are a dependent of another person. For example, if a taxpayer is single and younger than age 65, they must file if their income was at least $12,000. There are other instances when a taxpayer must file. Taxpayers can visit IRS.gov/filing for more information.

Filing to get a refund. Even if a taxpayer doesn’t have to file, they should consider filing a tax return if they can get money back. If a taxpayer answers “yes” to any of these questions, they could be due a refund:

  • Did my employer withhold federal income tax from my pay?
  • Did I make estimated tax payments?
  • Did I overpay on my 2017 tax return and have it applied to 2018?
  • Am I eligible for certain refundable credits such as, the earned income tax credit

Taxpayers can also use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on IRS.gov to answer many tax questions.. They should look for “Do I need to file a return?” under general topics.

All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return.

If you would like to set up an appointment please feel free to call us at 847-566-3010 or follow the link Appointments

Jan 31 filing deadline for wage statements, contractor forms

The Internal Revenue Service today reminds employers and other businesses of the Jan. 31 filing deadline that applies to filing wage statements and independent contractor forms with the government.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act requires employers to file their copies of Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, and Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, with the Social Security Administration by Jan. 31. The Jan. 31 deadline also applies to certain Forms 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, filed with the IRS to report non-employee compensation to independent contractors. Such payments are reported in box 7 of this form.

This deadline makes it easier for the IRS to verify income that individuals report on their tax returns and helps prevent fraud. Failure to file these forms correctly and timely may result in penalties. As always, the IRS urges employers and other businesses to take advantage of the accuracy, speed and convenience of filing these forms electronically.

An extension of time to file Forms W-2 is no longer automatic. The IRS will only grant extensions for specific reasons. Details can be found on the instructions for Form 8809, Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns.

The IRS noted that some employers who ordered paper information and employer returns may not receive them in time to meet the Jan. 31 deadline and should consider an alternate source for these forms.

If you mailed documents to the IRS and they were returned, read on..

The Tax Court website indicates that mail sent to the court through the U.S.  Postal Service or through designated private delivery services may have been returned undelivered.  If a document you sent to the Tax Court was returned to you, as the Tax Court website indicates, re-mail or re-send the document to the Court with a copy of the envelope or container (with the postmark or proof of mailing date) in which it was first mailed or sent. In addition, please retain the original.

IRS confirms tax filing season to begin January 28

Despite the government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service today confirmed that it will process tax returns beginning January 28, 2019 and provide refunds to taxpayers as scheduled.

“We are committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive their refunds notwithstanding the government shutdown. I appreciate the hard work of the employees and their commitment to the taxpayers during this period,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.

Congress directed the payment of all tax refunds through a permanent, indefinite appropriation (31 U.S.C. 1324), and the IRS has consistently been of the view that it has authority to pay refunds despite a lapse in annual appropriations. Although in 2011 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed the IRS not to pay refunds during a lapse, OMB has reviewed the relevant law at Treasury’s request and concluded that IRS may pay tax refunds during a lapse.

The IRS will be recalling a significant portion of its workforce, currently furloughed as part of the government shutdown, to work. Additional details for the IRS filing season will be included in an updated FY2019 Lapsed Appropriations Contingency Plan to be released publicly in the coming days.

“IRS employees have been hard at work over the past year to implement the biggest tax law changes the nation has seen in more than 30 years,” said Rettig.

As in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing individual tax returns once the filing season begins. For taxpayers who usually file early in the year and have all of the needed documentation, there is no need to wait to file. They should file when they are ready to submit a complete and accurate tax return.

The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2019 for most taxpayers.  Because of the Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15 in Maine and Massachusetts and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16 in the District of Columbia, taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17, 2019 to file their returns.

Software companies and tax professionals will be accepting and preparing tax returns before Jan. 28 and then will submit the returns when the IRS systems open later this month. The IRS strongly encourages people to file their tax returns electronically to minimize errors and for faster refunds.

Here’s how the new tax law revised family tax credits

More families will be able to get more money under the newly-revised Child Tax Credit, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

This is the third in a series of reminders to help taxpayers get ready for the upcoming tax filing season. Additionally, the IRS has recently updated a special page on its website with steps to take now for the 2019 tax filing season.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the tax reform legislation passed in December 2017, doubled the maximum Child Tax Credit, boosted income limits to be able to claim the credit, and revised the identification number requirement for 2018 and subsequent years. The new law also created a second smaller credit of up to $500 per dependent aimed at taxpayers supporting older children and other relatives who do not qualify for the Child Tax Credit.

“As we approach the 2019 tax-filing season, I want to remind taxpayers to take advantage of this valuable tax credit if they are eligible to claim it,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Tax reform changed the tax code significantly and doubling the Child Tax Credit is an example of how the changes impact taxpayers.”

Here are some important things taxpayers need to know as they plan for the tax-filing season in early 2019:

Child Tax Credit increased

Higher income limits mean more families are now eligible for the Child Tax Credit. The credit begins to phase out at $200,000 of modified adjusted gross income, or $400,000 for married couples filing jointly, which is up from the 2017 levels of $75,000 for single filers or $110,000 for married couples filing jointly.

Increased from $1,000 to $2,000 per qualifying child, the credit applies if the child is younger than 17 at the end of the tax year, the taxpayer claims the child as a dependent, and the child lives with the taxpayer for more than six months of the year. The qualifying child must also have a valid Social Security Number issued before the due date of the tax return, including extensions.

Up to $1,400 of the credit can be refundable for each qualifying child. This means an eligible taxpayer may get a refund even if they don’t owe any tax.

For more information, see Publication 972, Child Tax Credit, available soon on IRS.gov.

New Credit for Other Dependents

A new tax credit – Credit for Other Dependents — is available for dependents for whom taxpayers cannot claim the Child Tax Credit. These dependents may include dependent children who are age 17 or older at the end of 2018 or parents or other qualifying relatives supported by the taxpayer.

Here are facts to help taxpayers understand different filing statuses

Taxpayers don’t typically think about their filing status until they file their taxes. However, a taxpayer’s status could change during the year, so it’s always a good time for a taxpayer to learn about the different filing statuses and which one they should use.

It’s important a taxpayer uses the right filing status because it can affect the amount of tax they owe for the year. It may even determine if they must file a tax return at all. Taxpayers should keep in mind that their marital status on Dec. 31 is their status for the whole year.

Sometimes more than one filing status may apply to taxpayers. When that happens, taxpayers should choose the one that allows them to pay the least amount of tax.

Here’s a list of the five filing statuses and a description of who claims them:

  • Single. Normally this status is for taxpayers who aren’t married, or who are divorced or legally separated under state law.
  • Married Filing Jointly. If taxpayers are married, they can file a joint tax return. When a spouse passes away, the widowed spouse can usually file a joint return for that year.
  • Married Filing Separately. A married couple can choose to file two separate tax returns. This may benefit them if it results in less tax owed than if they file a joint tax return. Taxpayers may want to prepare their taxes both ways before they choose. They can also use this status if each wants to be responsible only for their own tax.
  • Head of Household. In most cases, this status applies to a taxpayer who is not married, but there are some special rules. For example, the taxpayer must have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for themselves and a qualifying person. Taxpayers should check all the rules and make sure they qualify to use this status.
  • Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child. This status may apply to a taxpayer if their spouse died during one of the previous two years and they have a dependent child. Other conditions also apply.

Signs you should look out for that a criminal stole information

Tax professionals should be alert to the subtle signs of data theft. The IRS and its Security Summit partners note that there are many cases where preparers are victims of theft and don’t even know it.

Cybercriminals often leave very few signs of their intrusion. A tax preparer might not even realize that the cybercriminal stole client data until a fraudulent tax return was filed with the information, and their client becomes an ID theft victim. This is one more reason tax professionals should use strong security protections to prevent data theft from occurring.

Here are some warning signs that a preparer’s office may have experienced a data theft:

  • Client e-filed returns that were filed electronically begin to be rejected by the IRS. The reason given is that someone already filed a tax return with the same Social Security number.
  • Clients who haven’t filed tax returns begin to receive taxpayer authentication letters from the IRS. These letters include the 5071C, 4883C and 5747C.
  • Clients who haven’t filed tax returns receive refunds.
  • Clients receive tax transcripts that they did not request.
  • Clients who created an IRS online services account receive an IRS notice that their account was accessed. They might also receive an IRS email saying their account has been disabled.
  • Clients unexpectedly receive an IRS notice that an online account was created in their names.
  • The number of returns filed with the tax professional’s Electronic Filing Identification Number exceeds their number of clients.
  • Tax professionals or clients are responding to emails that the firm did not send or does not remember sending.
  • Network computers are running slower than normal.
  • Computer cursors moving or changing numbers without someone touching the keyboard.
  • Network computers lock out employees.

The IRS and its partners in the Security Summit are alerting tax preparers about the signs of an ID theft as part of the Tax Security 101 awareness initiative. The goal is to provide tax professionals with the basic information they need to better protect taxpayer data and to help prevent the filing of fraudulent tax returns.