IRS TAX TIP 2013-13: Determining Your Correct Filing Status

It’s important to use the correct filing status when filing your income tax return. It can impact the tax benefits you receive, the amount of your standard deduction and the amount of taxes you pay. It may even impact whether you must file a federal income tax return.

Are you single, married or the head of your household? There are five filing statuses on a federal tax return. The most common are “Single,” “Married Filing Jointly” and “Head of Household.” The Head of Household status may be the one most often claimed in error.

The IRS offers these seven facts to help you choose the best filing status for you.

1. Marital Status. Your marital status on the last day of the year is your marital status for the entire year.

2. If You Have a Choice. If more than one filing status fits you, choose the one that allows you to pay the lowest taxes.

3. Single Filing Status. Single filing status generally applies if you are not married, divorced or legally separated according to state law.

4. Married Filing Jointly. A married couple may file a return together using the Married Filing Jointly status. If your spouse died during 2012, you usually may still file a joint return for that year.

5. Married Filing Separately. If a married couple decides to file their returns separately, each person’s filing status would generally be Married Filing Separately.

6. Head of Household. The Head of Household status generally applies if you are not married and have paid more than half the cost of maintaining a home for yourself and a qualifying person.

7. Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child. This status may apply if your spouse died during 2010 or 2011, you have a dependent child and you meet certain other conditions.

IRS e-file is the easiest way to file and will help you determine the correct filing status. If you file a paper return, the Interactive Tax Assistant at IRS.gov is a tool that will help you choose your filing status.

In Case You Missed It-Standard Mileage Rates for 2013

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service issued the 2013 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2013, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

56.5 cents per mile for business miles driven.
24 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes.
14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

The rate for business miles driven during 2013 increases 1 cent from the 2012 rate. The medical and moving rate is also up 1 cent per mile from the 2012 rate.

The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs.

Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously.

These and other requirements for a taxpayer to use a standard mileage rate to calculate the amount of a deductible business, moving, medical, or charitable expense are in Rev. Proc. 2010-51. Notice 2012-72 contains the standard mileage rates, the amount a taxpayer must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate, and the maximum standard automobile cost that a taxpayer may use in computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan.

IRS Tax Tip 2013-06: How to Get IRS Forms and Publications

Bookmark and Share

IRS.gov Banner
IRS Tax Tips February 4, 2013

Useful Links:

IRS.gov Home

1040 Central

Help For Hurricane Victims

The Internal Revenue Service provides free tax forms and publications on a wide variety of topics – from tax credits for individuals to a tax guide for small businesses.
Here are four easy ways to obtain tax forms and publications from the IRS:
On the Internet. You can get IRS forms and instructions quickly and easily by visiting the IRS.gov website 24 hours a day 7 days a week. They often appear online before they are available on paper. To view and download tax products, select “Forms and Pubs.”

By Telephone. Call 1-800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. local time to order current or prior year forms and instructions or IRS publications. Hours of service in Alaska and Hawaii follow Pacific Time. You will receive your order by mail, usually within 7 to 10 days.

In IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers. There are Taxpayer Assistance Centers located across the country where you can pick up many IRS forms and publications. IRS offices also offer face-to-face help for taxpayers who want personal tax assistance.

To find the Center nearest to you, visit IRS.gov and click on “Help & Resources” and then “Contact Your Local IRS Office.” Select your state for a list of offices, as well as a list of services available at each office. You can also find a Center near you by using the “Office Locator” link, which allows you to search by using your zip code.

In Your Community. Many libraries and post offices offer free tax forms during the tax filing season. Some libraries also have copies of commonly requested IRS publications.

For additional information about free IRS tax products and services, see Publication 2053A, Quick and Easy Access to IRS Tax Help and Forms, and Publication 910, IRS Guide to Free Tax Services.

Additional IRS Resources:

IRS Forms & Publications
Contact Your Local IRS Office
IRS Office Locator tool
Publication 910, IRS Guide to Free Tax Services (PDF)
Publication 2053A, Quick and Easy Access to IRS Tax Help and Forms (PDF)
IRS YouTube Videos:
How to Get 1040 Forms – English | Spanish | ASL
IRS Tax Forms and Publications – English | Spanish | ASL
IRS Podcasts:
How to Get 1040 Forms – English | Spanish
Tax Forms and Publications – English | Spanish

IRS Announces Guidance on the Principal Reduction Alternative Offered in the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)

IR-2013-8, Jan. 24, 2013

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced guidance to borrowers, mortgage loan holders and loan servicers who are participating in the Principal Reduction AlternativeSM offered through the Department of the Treasury’s and Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Home Affordable Modification Program® (HAMP-PRA®).

To help financially distressed homeowners lower their monthly mortgage payments, Treasury and HUD established HAMP, which is described at http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov. Under HAMP-PRA, the principal of the borrower’s mortgage may be reduced by a predetermined amount called the PRA Forbearance Amount if the borrower satisfies certain conditions during a trial period. The principal reduction occurs over three years.

More specifically, if the loan is in good standing on the first, second and third annual anniversaries of the effective date of the trial period, the loan servicer reduces the unpaid principal balance of the loan by one-third of the initial PRA Forbearance Amount on each anniversary date. This means that if the borrower continues to make timely payments on the loan for three years, the entire PRA Forbearance Amount is forgiven. To encourage mortgage loan holders to participate in HAMP–PRA, the HAMP program administrator will make an incentive payment to the loan holder (called a PRA investor incentive payment) for each of the three years in which the loan principal balance is reduced.

Guidance on Tax Consequences to Borrowers

The guidance issued today provides that PRA investor incentive payments made by the HAMP program administrator to mortgage loan holders are treated as payments on the mortgage loans by the United States government on behalf of the borrowers. These payments are generally not taxable to the borrowers under the general welfare doctrine.

If the principal amount of a mortgage loan is reduced by an amount that exceeds the total amount of the PRA investor incentive payments made to the mortgage loan holder, the borrower may be required to include the excess amount in gross income as income from the discharge of indebtedness. However, many borrowers will qualify for an exclusion from gross income.

For example, a borrower may be eligible to exclude the discharge of indebtedness income from gross income if (1) the discharge of indebtedness occurs (in other words, the loan is modified) before Jan. 1, 2014, and the mortgage loan is qualified principal residence indebtedness, or (2) the discharge of indebtedness occurs when the borrower is insolvent. For additional exclusions that may apply, see Publication 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions, and Abandonments (for Individuals).

Borrowers receiving aid under the HAMP–PRA program may report any discharge of indebtedness income — whether included in, or excluded from, gross income — either in the year of the permanent modification of the mortgage loan or ratably over the three years in which the mortgage loan principal is reduced on the servicer’s books. Borrowers who exclude the discharge of indebtedness income must report both the amount of the income and any resulting reduction in basis or tax attributes on Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness (and Section 1082 Basis Adjustment).

Guidance on Tax Consequences to Mortgage Loan Holders

The guidance issued today explains that mortgage loan holders are required to file a Form 1099-C with respect to a borrower who realizes discharge of indebtedness income of $600 or more for the year in which the permanent modification of the mortgage loan occurs. This rule applies regardless of when the borrower chooses to report the income (that is, in the year of the permanent modification or one-third each year as the mortgage loan principal is reduced) and regardless of whether the borrower excludes some or all of the amount from gross income.

Penalty relief is provided for mortgage loan holders that fail to timely file and furnish required Forms 1099-C, as long as certain requirements described in the guidance are satisfied.

Details are in Revenue Procedure 2013-16 available on IRS.gov.

Who Should File a 2012 Tax Return?

If you received income during 2012, you may need to file a tax return in 2013. The amount of your income, your filing status, your age and the type of income you received will determine whether you’re required to file. Even if you are not required to file a tax return, you may still want to file. You may get a refund if you’ve had too much federal income tax withheld from your pay or qualify for certain tax credits.

You can find income tax filing requirements on IRS.gov. The instructions for Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ also list filing requirements. The Interactive Tax Assistant tool, also available on the IRS website, is another helpful resource. The ITA tool answers many of your tax law questions including whether you need to file a return.

Even if you’ve determined that you don’t need to file a tax return this year, you may still want to file. Here are five reasons why:

1. Federal Income Tax Withheld. If your employer withheld federal income tax from your pay, if you made estimated tax payments, or if you had a prior year overpayment applied to this year’s tax, you could be due a refund. File a return to claim any excess tax you paid during the year.

2. Earned Income Tax Credit. If you worked but earned less than $50,270 last year, you may qualify for EITC. EITC is a refundable tax credit; which means if you qualify you could receive EITC as a tax refund. Families with qualifying children may qualify to get up to $5,891 dollars. You can’t get the credit unless you file a return and claim it. Use the EITC Assistant to find out if you qualify.

3. Additional Child Tax Credit. If you have at least one qualifying child and you don’t get the full amount of the Child Tax Credit, you may qualify for this additional refundable credit. You must file and use new Schedule 8812, Child Tax Credit, to claim the credit.

4. American Opportunity Credit. If you or someone you support is a student, you might be eligible for this credit. Students in their first four years of postsecondary education may qualify for as much as $2,500 through this partially refundable credit. Even those who owe no tax can get up to $1,000 of the credit as cash back for each eligible student. You must file Form 8863, Education Credits, and submit it with your tax return to claim the credit.

5. Health Coverage Tax Credit. If you’re receiving Trade Adjustment Assistance, Trade Adjustment Assistance, Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance or pension benefit payments from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, you may be eligible for a 2012 Health Coverage Tax Credit. Spouses and dependents may also be eligible. If you’re eligible, you can receive a 72.5 percent tax credit on payments you made for qualified health insurance premiums.
Want more information about filing requirements and tax credits? Visit IRS.gov.

Additional IRS Resources:
• Interactive Tax Assistant
• EITC Assistant
• Publication 596, Earned Income Credit
• Schedule 8812, Child Tax Credit
• Publication 972, Child Tax Credit
• Form 8863, Education Credits
• Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education
• Health Coverage Tax Credit
IRS YouTube Videos:
• Do I Have To File a Tax Return? – English | Spanish | ASL
• Education Tax Credits and Deductions – English | Spanish | ASL
IRS Podcasts:
• Education Tax Credits and Deductions – English | Spanish

Electronic Health Records Incentive Payments

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) authorizes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to make incentive payments to eligible professionals and hospitals that adopt, implement, upgrade or demonstrate “meaningful use” of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to improve patient care. The funds for these incentive payments may be administered through the state’s Medicaid agency or directly from CMS via a Medicare contractor.

If the state agency or CMS makes incentive payments of $600 or more to an eligible professional or hospital, they are responsible for reporting such payments to the recipients on a Form 1099-MISC by January 31 of the next year. Therefore, if a state agency or CMS made payments of $600 or more in 2012, they should issue Form 1099-MISC to the recipients by January 31, 2013.
Professionals and hospitals should not consider EHR incentive payments to be reimbursements of expenses incurred in establishing an EHR system; instead, the recipient of the payments should consider the payments to be includible in gross income.

An eligible provider receiving an EHR incentive payment may be required to give the payment to the provider’s practice or group and not be allowed to keep it. In this situation, the eligible provider is not required to include the payment in gross income if the provider (1) is receiving the payment as an agent or conduit of the practice or group, and (2) turns the payment over to the practice or group as required. The state agency or CMS should send the Form 1099-MISC to the provider regardless of whether the funds are assigned or transferred to the provider’s practice group, or retained by the provider. The eligible provider, not the state agency or CMS, would bear the information reporting obligation, if any, for payments made to the provider’s practice group.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 756 other followers

%d bloggers like this: