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Most types of income are taxable, but some are not. Income can include money, property or services that you receive. Here are some examples of income that are usually not taxable:
- Child support payments;
- Gifts, bequests and inheritances;
- Welfare benefits;
- Damage awards for physical injury or sickness;
- Cash rebates from a dealer or manufacturer for an item you buy; and
- Reimbursements for qualified adoption expenses.
Some income is not taxable except under certain conditions. Examples include:
- Life insurance proceeds paid to you because of an insured person’s death are usually not taxable. However, if you redeem a life insurance policy for cash, any amount that is more than the cost of the policy is taxable.
- Income you get from a qualified scholarship is normally not taxable. Amounts you use for certain costs, such as tuition and required course books, are not taxable. However, amounts used for room and board are taxable.
All income, such as wages and tips, is taxable unless the law specifically excludes it. This includes non-cash income from bartering – the exchange of property or services. Both parties must include the fair market value of goods or services received as income on their tax return.
If you received a refund, credit or offset of state or local income taxes in 2012, you may be required to report this amount. If you did not receive a 2012 Form 1099-G, check with the government agency that made the payments to you. That agency may have made the form available only in an electronic format. You will need to get instructions from the agency to retrieve this document. Report any taxable refund you received even if you did not receive Form 1099-G.
Have you heard of capital gains and losses? If not, you may want to read up on them because they might have an impact on your tax return. The IRS wants you to know these ten facts about gains and losses and how they could affect your tax situation.
- Almost everything you own and use for personal purposes, pleasure or investment is a capital asset.
- When you sell a capital asset, the difference between the amount you sell it for and your basis – which is usually what you paid for it – is a capital gain or a capital loss.
- You must report all capital gains.
- You may deduct capital losses only on investment property, not on property held for personal use.
- Capital gains and losses are classified as long-term or short-term, depending on how long you hold the property before you sell it. If you hold it more than one year, your capital gain or loss is long-term. If you hold it one year or less, your capital gain or loss is short-term.
- If you have long-term gains in excess of your long-term losses, you have a net capital gain to the extent your net long-term capital gain is more than your net short-term capital loss, if any.
- The tax rates that apply to net capital gain are generally lower than the tax rates that apply to other income. For 2009, the maximum capital gains rate for most people is15%. For lower-income individuals, the rate may be 0% on some or all of the net capital gain. Special types of net capital gain can be taxed at 25% or 28%.
- If your capital losses exceed your capital gains, the excess can be deducted on your tax return and used to reduce other income, such as wages, up to an annual limit of $3,000, or $1,500 if you are married filing separately.
- If your total net capital loss is more than the yearly limit on capital loss deductions, you can carry over the unused part to the next year and treat it as if you incurred it in that next year.
- Capital gains and losses are reported on Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses, and then transferred to line 13of Form 1040.
For more information about reporting capital gains and losses, see the Schedule D instructions, Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses or Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax. All forms and publications are available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
- Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax (PDF 2015.9K)
- Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses (PDF 516K)
- Publication 544, Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets (PDF 321K)
- Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax (PDF 367K)
- Publication 564, Mutual Fund Distributions (PDF 178K)
- Publication 547, Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts (PDF 133K)
- Publication 527, Residential Rental Property (Including Rental of Vacation Homes) (PDF 187K)
Getting ready to file your tax return? Make sure you have all your documents before you start. You should receive a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement from each of your employers. Employers have until February 1, 2010 to send you a 2009 Form W-2 earnings statement. If you haven’t received your W-2, follow these four steps:
1. Contact your employer If you have not received your W-2, contact your employer to inquire if and when the W-2 was mailed. If it was mailed, it may have been returned to the employer because of an incorrect or incomplete address. After contacting the employer, allow a reasonable amount of time for them to resend or to issue the W-2.
2. Contact the IRS If you do not receive your W-2 by February 16th, contact the IRS for assistance at 800-829-1040. When you call, you must provide your name, address, city and state, including zip code, Social Security number, phone number and have the following information:
- Employer’s name, address, city and state, including zip code and phone number
- Dates of employment
- An estimate of the wages you earned, the federal income tax withheld, and when you worked for that employer during 2009. The estimate should be based on year-to-date information from your final pay stub or leave-and-earnings statement, if possible.
3. File your return You still must file your tax return or request an extension to file by April 15, even if you do not receive your Form W-2. If you have not received your Form W-2 by April 15th, and have completed steps 1 and 2, you may use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. Attach Form 4852 to the return, estimating income and withholding taxes as accurately as possible. There may be a delay in any refund due while the information is verified.
4. File a Form 1040X On occasion, you may receive your missing W-2 after you filed your return using Form 4852, and the information may be different from what you reported on your return. If this happens, you must amend your return by filing a Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
Form 4852, Form 1040X, and instructions are available on the IRS Web site, IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
While most income you receive is generally considered taxable, there are some situations when certain types of income are partially taxed or not taxed at all.
To ensure taxpayers are familiar with the difference between taxable and non-taxable income, the Internal Revenue Service offers these common examples of items that are not included in your income:
- Adoption Expense Reimbursements for qualifying expenses
- Child support payments
- Gifts, bequests and inheritances
- Workers’ compensation benefits
- Meals and Lodging for the convenience of your employer
- Compensatory Damages awarded for physical injury or physical sickness
- Welfare Benefits
- Cash Rebates from a dealer or manufacturer
Some income may be taxable under certain circumstances, but not taxable in other situations. Examples of items that may or may not be included in your income are:
- Life Insurance If you surrender a life insurance policy for cash, you must include in income any proceeds that are more than the cost of the life insurance policy. Life insurance proceeds, which were paid to you because of the insured person’s death, are not taxable unless the policy was turned over to you for a price.
- Scholarship or Fellowship Grant If you are a candidate for a degree, you can exclude amounts you receive as a qualified scholarship or fellowship. Amounts used for room and board do not qualify.
- Non-cash Income Taxable income may be in a form other than cash. One example of this is bartering, which is an exchange of property or services. The fair market value of goods and services exchanged is fully taxable and must be included as income on Form 1040 of both parties.
All other items—including income such as wages, salaries and tips—must be included in your income unless it is specifically excluded by law.
These examples are not all-inclusive. For more information, see Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income, which can be obtained at IRS.gov or by calling the IRS at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
- Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income (1178.2KB)