IR-2013-64: Reminder: IRS to be Closed July 5 Due to Budget and Sequester; Filing and Payment Deadlines Unchanged

IR-2013-64, July 3, 2013

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers that due to the current budget situation, including the sequester, the agency will be shut down on Friday, July 5.

As was the case on May 24 and June 14, the first two furlough days, all IRS operations will again be closed on July 5. This means that all IRS offices, including all toll-free hotlines, the Taxpayer Advocate Service and the agency’s nearly 400 taxpayer assistance centers nationwide, will be closed.

IRS employees will be furloughed without pay. No tax returns will be processed and no compliance-related activities will take place. The IRS noted that taxpayers should continue to file their returns and pay any taxes due as usual. This includes the special July 15 filing and payment deadline for those affected by the Boston Marathon explosions. Taxpayers needing to contact the IRS about this or other upcoming returns or payments should be sure to take this Friday’s closure into account.

Because none of the furlough days are considered federal holidays, the shutdown will have no impact on any tax-filing or tax-payment deadlines. The IRS will be unable to accept or acknowledge receipt of electronically-filed returns on any day the agency is shut down.

The only tax-payment deadlines coinciding with any of the furlough days relate to employment and excise tax deposits made by business taxpayers. These deposits must be made through the Treasury Department’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), which will operate as usual.

On the other hand, the agency will give taxpayers extra time to comply with a request to provide documents to the IRS. This includes administrative summonses, requests for records in connection with a return examination, review or compliance check, or document requests related to a collection matter. No additional time is given to respond to other agencies or the courts.

Where the last day for responding to an IRS request falls on July 5, the taxpayer will have until Monday, July 8, the next business day.

Some web-based online tool and phone-based automated services will continue to function this Friday, while others will be shut down. Available services include Withholding Calculator, Order A Transcript, EITC Assistant, Interactive Tax Assistant, Tele-Tax and the Online Look-up Tool for those needing to repay the first-time homebuyer credit. Services not available this Friday include Where’s My Refund?, the Online Payment Agreement and the online preparer tax identification number PTIN system for tax professionals. Visit online tools on IRS.gov to learn more about these tools.

The remaining scheduled furlough days are July 22 and Aug. 30, 2013. If necessary, the IRS may announce one or two additional furlough days.

The IRS will also be closed as scheduled on Thursday for the Fourth of July federal holiday

IR-2013-44: IRS Releases Final Report on Tax-Exempt Colleges and Universities Compliance Project

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today released its final report summarizing audit results from the IRS’ colleges and universities study, which began in 2008. This final report describes the agency’s multi-year project on a major segment of tax-exempt organizations.

“The audits identified some significant compliance issues at the colleges and universities examined,” said Lois Lerner, Director, Exempt Organizations division. “Because these issues may well be present elsewhere across the tax-exempt sector, all exempt organizations need to be aware of the importance of accurately reporting unrelated business income and providing appropriate executive compensation.”

The attached final report focuses on two primary areas within the examinations: reporting of unrelated business taxable income, and compensation, including, employment tax and retirement plan issues.

The interim report issued in 2010 focused on results from the questionnaires submitted by tax-exempt colleges and universities.

IRS Tax Tip 2013-62: Tips to Start Planning Next Year’s Tax Return

 

For most taxpayers, the tax deadline has passed. But planning for next year can start now. The IRS reminds taxpayers that being organized and planning ahead can save time and money in 2014. Here are six things you can do now to make next April 15 easier.

 

  1. Adjust your withholding.  Each year, millions of American workers have far more taxes withheld from their pay than is required. Now is a good time to review your withholding to make the taxes withheld from your pay closer to the taxes you’ll owe for this year. This is especially true if you normally get a large refund and you would like more money in your paycheck. If you owed tax when you filed, you may need to increase the federal income tax withheld from your wages. Use the IRS Withholding Calculator at IRS.gov to complete a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate.
  2. Store your return in a safe place.  Put your 2012 tax return and supporting documents somewhere safe. If you need to refer to your return in the future, you’ll know where to find it. For example, you may need a copy of your return when applying for a home loan or financial aid. You can also use it as a helpful guide for next year’s return.
  3. Organize your records.  Establish one location where everyone in your household can put tax-related records during the year. This will avoid a scramble for misplaced mileage logs or charity receipts come tax time.
  4. Shop for a tax professional.  If you use a tax professional to help you with tax planning, start your search now. You’ll have more time when you’re not up against a deadline or anxious to receive your tax refund. Choose a tax professional wisely. You’re ultimately responsible for the accuracy of your own return regardless of who prepares it. Find tips for choosing a preparer at IRS.gov.
  5. Consider itemizing deductions.  If you usually claim a standard deduction, you may be able to reduce your taxes if you itemize deductions instead. If your itemized deductions typically fall just below your standard deduction, you can ‘bundle’ your deductions. For example, an early or extra mortgage payment or property tax payment, or a planned donation to charity could equal some tax savings. See the Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, instructions for the list of items you can deduct. Planning an approach now that works best for you can pay off at tax time next year.
  6. Keep up with changes.  Find out about tax law changes, helpful tips and IRS announcements all year by subscribing to IRS Tax Tips through IRS.gov or IRS2Go, the mobile app from the IRS. The IRS issues tips regularly during the summer and tax filing season.

 

You can find forms and publications at IRS.gov or order them by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

 

Additional IRS Resources:

 

IRS Tax Tip 2013-61: IRS Offers Tips for Dealing with Notices

Each year, the IRS sends millions of letters and notices to taxpayers for a variety of reasons. Here are ten things you should know about IRS notices in case one shows up in your mailbox.

  1. Don’t panic. Many of these letters require a simple response.
  2. There are many reasons why the IRS sends correspondence. If you receive an IRS notice, it will typically cover a very specific issue about your account or tax return. Notices may require payment, notify you of changes to your account or ask you to provide more information.
  3. Each notice offers specific instructions on what you need to do to satisfy the inquiry.
  4. If you receive a notice advising you that the IRS has corrected your tax return, you should review the correspondence and compare it with the information on your return.
  5. If you agree with the correction to your account, then usually no reply is necessary unless a payment is due or the notice directs otherwise.
  6. If you do not agree with the correction the IRS made, it is important that you respond as requested. You should send a written explanation of why you disagree. Include any information and documents you want the IRS to consider with your response. Mail your reply with the bottom tear-off portion of the IRS letter to the address shown in the upper left-hand corner of the notice. Allow at least 30 days for a response.
  7. You should be able to resolve most notices that you receive without calling or visiting an IRS office. If you do have questions, call the telephone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Have a copy of your tax return and the notice with you when you call. This will help the IRS answer your inquiry.
  8. Remember to keep copies of any notices you receive with your other income tax records.
  9. The IRS sends notices and letters by mail. The agency never contacts taxpayers about their tax account or tax return by email.
  10. For more information about IRS notices and bills, visit IRS.gov. Click on the link ‘Responding to a Notice’ at the bottom left of the home page. Also, see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process. The publication is available on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Additional IRS Resources:

IRS Tax Tips – Six Facts on Tax Refunds and Offsets

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IRS Special Edition Tax Tip 2013-09: IRS Warns Donors about Charity Scams Following Recent Tragedies in Boston and Texas

It’s sad but true. Following major disasters and tragedies, scam artists impersonate charities to steal money or get private information from well-intentioned taxpayers. Fraudulent schemes involve solicitations by phone, social media, email or in-person.

Scam artists use a variety of tactics. Some operate bogus charities that contact people by telephone to solicit money or financial information. Others use emails to steer people to bogus websites to solicit funds, allegedly for the benefit of tragedy victims. The fraudulent websites often mimic the sites of legitimate charities or use names similar to legitimate charities. They may claim affiliation with legitimate charities to persuade members of the public to send money or provide personal financial information. Scammers then use that information to steal the identities or money of their victims.

The IRS offers the following tips to help taxpayers who wish to donate to victims of the recent tragedies at the Boston Marathon and a Texas fertilizer plant:

  • Donate to qualified charities.  Use the Exempt Organizations Select Check tool at IRS.gov to find qualified charities. Only donations to qualified charitable organizations are tax-deductible. You can also find legitimate charities on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Web site at fema.gov.
  • Be wary of charities with similar names.  Some phony charities use names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. They may use names or websites that sound or look like those of legitimate organizations.
  • Don’t give out personal financial information.  Do not give your Social Security number, credit card and bank account numbers and passwords to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists use this information to steal your identity and money.
  • Don’t give or send cash.  For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the donation.
  • Report suspected fraud.  Taxpayers suspecting tax or charity-related fraud should visit IRS.gov and perform a search using the keywords “Report Phishing.”

More information about tax scams and schemes is available at IRS.gov using the keywords “scams and schemes.”

IRS Tax Tip 2013-59: Ten Facts on Filing an Amended Tax Return

 

What should you do if you already filed your federal tax return and then discover a mistake? Don’t worry; you have a chance to fix errors by filing an amended tax return. This year you can use the new IRS tool, ‘Where’s My Amended Return?’ to easily track the status of your amended tax return. Here are 10 facts you should know about filing an amended tax return.

 

  1. Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to file an amended tax return. An amended return cannot be e-filed. You must file it on paper.
  2. You should consider filing an amended tax return if there is a change in your filing status, income, deductions or credits.
  3. You normally do not need to file an amended return to correct math errors. The IRS will automatically make those changes for you. Also, do not file an amended return because you forgot to attach tax forms, such as W-2s or schedules. The IRS normally will send a request asking for those.
  4. Generally, you must file Form 1040X within three years from the date you filed your original tax return or within two years of the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. Be sure to enter the year of the return you are amending at the top of Form 1040X.
  5. If you are amending more than one tax return, prepare a 1040X for each return and mail them to the IRS in separate envelopes. You will find the appropriate IRS address to mail your return to in the Form 1040X instructions.
  6. If your changes involve the need for another schedule or form, you must attach that schedule or form to the amended return.
  7. If you are filing an amended tax return to claim an additional refund, wait until you have received your original tax refund before filing Form 1040X. Amended returns take up to 12 weeks to process. You may cash your original refund check while waiting for the additional refund.
  8. If you owe additional taxes with Form 1040X, file it and pay the tax as soon as possible to minimize interest and penalties.
  9. You can track the status of your amended tax return three weeks after you file with the IRS’s new tool called, ‘Where’s My Amended Return?’ The automated tool is available on IRS.gov and by phone at 866-464-2050. The online and phone tools are available in English and Spanish. You can track the status of your amended return for the current year and up to three prior years.
  10. To use either ‘Where’s My Amended Return’ tool, just enter your taxpayer identification number (usually your Social Security number), date of birth and zip code. If you have filed amended returns for more than one year, you can select each year individually to check the status of each. If you use the tool by phone, you will not need to call a different IRS phone number unless the tool tells you to do so.

 

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