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IRS Presents: Six Tax Tips for New Business Owners

Are you opening a new business this summer? The IRS has many resources available for individuals that are opening a new business. Here are six tax tips the IRS wants new business owners to know.

  1. First, you must decide what type of business entity you are going to establish. The type of business entity will determine which tax form you have to file. The most common types of business are the sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and S corporation.
  2. The type of business you operate determines what taxes you must pay and how you pay them. The four general types of business taxes are income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax and excise tax.
  3. An Employer Identification Number is used to identify a business entity. Generally, businesses need an EIN. Visit IRS.gov for more information about whether you will need an EIN. You can also apply for an EIN online at IRS.gov.
  4. Good records will help you ensure successful operation of your new business. You may choose any recordkeeping system suited to your business that clearly shows your income and expenses. Except in a few cases, the law does not require any special kind of records. However, the business you are in affects the type of records you need to keep for federal tax purposes.
  5. Every business taxpayer must figure taxable income on an annual accounting period called a tax year. The calendar year and the fiscal year are the most common tax years used.
  6. Each taxpayer must also use a consistent accounting method, which is a set of rules for determining when to report income and expenses. The most commonly used accounting methods are the cash method and an accrual method. Under the cash method, you generally report income in the tax year you receive it and deduct expenses in the tax year you pay them. Under an accrual method, you generally report income in the tax year you earn it and deduct expenses in the tax year you incur them.

IRS Publication 583, Starting a Business and Keeping Records, provides basic federal tax information for people who are starting a business. This publication is available on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).  Visit the Business section of IRS.gov for resources to assist entrepreneurs with starting and operating a new business.

IRS Presents: Five Facts about the Making Work Pay Tax Credit

1. This credit – still available for 2010 – equals 6.2 percent of a taxpayer’s earned income. The maximum credit for a married couple filing a joint return is $800 and $400 for other taxpayers.

2. Eligible self-employed taxpayers can benefit from the credit by evaluating their expected income tax liability and, if they are eligible, by making the appropriate adjustments to the amounts of their estimated tax payments.

3. Taxpayers who fall into any of the following groups during 2010 should review their tax withholding to ensure enough tax is being withheld. Those who should pay particular attention to their withholding include:

  • Married couples with two incomes
  • Individuals with multiple jobs
  • Dependents
  • Pensioners
  • Workers without valid Social Security numbers

Having too little tax withheld could result in potentially smaller refunds or – in limited instances –small balance due rather than an expected refund.

4. The Making Work Pay tax credit is reduced or unavailable for higher-income taxpayers. The reduction in the credit begins at $75,000 of income for single taxpayers and $150,000 for couples filing a joint return.

5. A quick withholding check using the IRS Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov may be helpful for anyone who believes their current withholding may not be right. Taxpayers can also check their withholding by using the worksheets in IRS Publication 919, How Do I Adjust My Tax Withholding?. Adjustments can be made by filing a revised Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. Pensioners can adjust their withholding by filing Form W-4P, Withholding Certificate for Pension or Annuity Payments.

For more information about this and other key tax provisions of the Recovery Act, visit IRS.gov/recovery.
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IRs Presents: What You Should Know About the Taxpayer Advocate

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization within the Internal Revenue Service whose employees assist taxpayers who are experiencing economic harm, who are seeking help in resolving problems with the IRS, or who believe that an IRS system or procedure is not working as it should. Here are seven things every taxpayer should know about TAS.

  1. TAS is your voice at the IRS.
  2. TAS service is free, confidential, and tailored to meet your needs.
  3. You may be eligible for TAS help if you’ve tried to resolve your tax problem through normal IRS channels and have gotten nowhere, or you think an IRS procedure just isn’t working as it should.
  4. TAS helps taxpayers whose problems are causing financial difficulty or significant cost, including the cost of professional representation. This includes businesses as well as individuals.
  5. TAS employees know the IRS and how to navigate it.  They will listen to your problem, help you understand what needs to be done to resolve it, and stay with you every step of the way until your problem is resolved.
  6. TAS has at least one local taxpayer advocate in each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.  You can call your local advocate, whose number is in your phone book, in Pub. 1546, Taxpayer Advocate Service — Your Voice at the IRS, and at www.irs.gov/advocate.  You can also call our toll-free number at 1-877-777-4778 or TTY/TDD 1-800-829-4059.
  7. You can learn about your rights and responsibilities as a taxpayer by visiting the TAS online tax toolkit at www.taxtoolkit.irs.gov.  You can also check out the TAS YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/tasnta.

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IRS Presents: Things to Know About Your Amended Tax Return

You can make a change or an adjustment to a tax return you’ve already filed by filing an amended return. Here are the top 10 things the IRS wants you to know about amending your federal tax return.

  1. If you need to amend your tax return, use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
  2. Use Form 1040X to correct previously filed Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. The 1040X can also be used to correct a return filed electronically. However, you can only paper file an amended return.
  3. You should file an amended return if you discover any of the following items were reported incorrectly: filing status, dependents, total income, deductions or credits.
  4. Generally, you do not need to file an amended return for math errors. The IRS will automatically make the correction.
  5. You usually do not need to file an amended return because you forgot to include tax forms such as W-2s or schedules. The IRS normally will send a request asking for those documents.
  6. Be sure to enter the year of the return you are amending at the top of Form 1040X. Generally, you must file Form 1040X within three years from the date you filed your original return or within two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
  7. If you are amending more than one tax return, prepare a 1040X for each return and mail them in separate envelopes to the IRS campus for the area in which you live. The 1040X instructions list the addresses for the campuses.
  8. If the changes involve another schedule or form, you must attach it to the 1040X.
  9. If you are filing to claim an additional refund, wait until you have received your original refund before filing Form 1040X. You may cash that check while waiting for any additional refund.
  10. If you owe additional tax for 2009, you should file Form 1040X and pay the tax as soon as possible to limit interest and penalty charges. Interest is charged on any tax not paid by the due date of the original return, without regard to extensions.
     

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IRS Presents: Got a Tax Notice? Number 1 – Don’t Panic

The Internal Revenue Service sends millions of letters and notices to taxpayers every year. Here are eight things taxpayers should know about IRS notices – just in case one shows up in your mailbox.

  1. Don’t panic. Many of these letters can be dealt with simply and painlessly.
  2. There are a number of reasons why the IRS might send you a notice. Notices may request payment of taxes, notify you of changes to your account, or request additional information. The notice you receive normally covers a very specific issue about your account or tax return.
  3. Each letter and notice offers specific instructions on what you are asked to do to satisfy the inquiry.
  4. If you receive a correction notice, 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 and include any documents and information you want the IRS to consider, along with the bottom tear-off portion of the notice. Mail the information to the IRS address shown in the upper left-hand corner of the notice. Allow at least 30 days for a response.
  7. Most correspondence can be handled without calling or visiting an IRS office. However, if you have questions, call the telephone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Have a copy of your tax return and the correspondence available when you call to help us respond to your inquiry.
  8. It’s important that you keep copies of any correspondence with your records.

For more information about IRS notices and bills, see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process. Information about penalties and interest is available in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax for Individuals. Both publications are available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Links:

  • Publication 594, Understanding the Collection Process (PDF 129K)
  • Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax (PDF 2,072K)
  • Tax Topic 651, Notices — What to Do

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IRS Presents: Wondering About Your Tax Return – Here’s Some Stuff to Know

Most taxpayers have already filed their federal tax returns, but many may still have questions. Here’s what the IRS wants you to know about refund status, recordkeeping, mistakes and what to do if you move.

Refund Information

You can go online to check the status of your 2009 refund 72 hours after IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return, or 3 to 4 weeks after you mail a paper return. Be sure to have a copy of your 2009 tax return available because you will need to know your filing status, the first Social Security number shown on the return, and the exact whole-dollar amount of the refund. You have three options for checking on your refund:

  • Go to IRS.gov, and click on “Where’s My Refund”
  • Call 1-800-829-4477 24 hours a day, seven days a week for automated refund information
  • Call 1-800-829-1954 during the hours shown in your tax form instructions

What Records Should I Keep?

Normally, tax records should be kept for three years, but some documents — such as records relating to a home purchase or sale, stock transactions, IRAs and business or rental property — should be kept longer.

You should keep copies of tax returns you have filed and the tax forms package as part of your records. They may be helpful in amending already filed returns or preparing future returns.

Change of Address

If you move after you filed your return, you should send Form 8822, Change of Address to the Internal Revenue Service. If you are expecting a refund through the mail, you should also file a change of address with the U.S. Postal Service.

What If I Made a Mistake?

Errors may delay your refund or result in notices being sent to you. If you discover an error on your return, you can correct your return by filing an amended return using Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Visit IRS.gov for more information on refunds, recordkeeping, address changes and amended returns.
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IRS Presents:Reminders for Last-Minute Tax Filers

Videos:
Last-Minute Tips: English | Spanish
For this and other videos: YouTube/IRSVideos

WASHINGTON –– With the April 15 tax filing deadline right around the corner, the Internal Revenue Service offers taxpayers who have not yet filed a few last-minute tips.

Don’t Miss the Deadline

If you have a balance due and don’t file a tax return by April 15, you face interest on the unpaid taxes as well as a failure-to-file penalty. Interest and penalties are added to your balance due. If you can’t file by the deadline, request an extension of time to file (see below).

If you file on time or request an extension but don’t pay all or some of the balance due by the deadline, you will incur interest on the unpaid amount and a failure-to-pay penalty. If you can’t pay the full amount, you should pay as much as possible by the deadline to minimize interest and penalties.

Get Recovery Tax Breaks

Last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created a full slate of tax breaks, which can be claimed on tax returns right now. These include:

  • The Homebuyer Credit
  • Making Work Pay Credit
  • American Opportunity Credit
  • Home Energy Credit
  • New Car Tax and Fee Deduction

You can get information on these and other Recovery credits at IRS.gov/recovery.

File Electronically

Most tax returns are now filed electronically – either from home using purchased tax software, by a tax professional or through Free File.

There are several reasons the IRS encourages taxpayers to file electronically. Here are two big ones:

  • E-file is accurate: Most available tax preparation programs check for errors and missing information, reducing the chances of delayed refunds or follow-up correspondence from the IRS.
  • E-file is fast: With most tax software, you can file a state tax return at the same time you file your federal return. Once a return is accepted for processing, the IRS electronically acknowledges receipt of the return. And refunds take only about half the time of a paper return. If you choose direct deposit, you will get your refund in even less time.

Try Free File

Free electronic filing is available to everyone.

Traditional Free File is software with step-by-step help available to anyone whose 2009 adjusted gross income was $57,000 or less. The only way to access Free File is through the IRS Web site, IRS.gov. As the name implies, there is no charge for this service.

For those whose incomes exceed $57,000, there is Free File Fillable Forms. Free File Fillable Forms, also available through IRS.gov, allows a taxpayer to fill out and file tax forms online. You enter the necessary information, sign electronically, print the return for recordkeeping and then e-file the return right to the IRS. Since there is no step-by-step help, Free File Fillable Forms may be best if you are comfortable with the tax law and know which forms to choose.

Choose Direct Deposit for Refunds

Whether you file electronically or on paper, your refund can be automatically deposited into the bank or financial account of your choosing. Direct deposit is faster than a paper check. If you e-file and use direct deposit, you will receive your refund even faster. Direct deposit is also more secure than a paper check since a direct deposit goes directly into your account and cannot be lost in the mail or stolen.

Split Refund: Refunds can be direct-deposited into as many as three different accounts. Most e-file and tax preparation software allow you to “split” your refund this way. Paper return filers need to file Form 8888, Direct Deposit of Refund to More Than One Account, to split a refund among two or three accounts.

Buy Savings Bonds: This year, for the first time, you can buy Series I U.S. Savings Bonds with your refund. Issued by the Treasury Department, a Series I bond is a low-risk investment that grows in value for up to 30 years.

Check for Errors

Tax software finds common errors on electronically prepared returns. However, if you file on paper, you can avoid delays in processing and follow-up questions from the IRS by:

  • Double-checking all figures
  • Ensuring Social Security numbers are correct
  • Signing forms where required
  • Attaching required schedules and forms
  • Mailing returns or request extensions by the April 15 filing deadline

Pay Electronically

Electronic payment options are safe and secure methods for paying taxes or user fees. You can pay online, by phone using a credit or debit card, or through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.

You may also pay by check made out to the “United States Treasury” using Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher, which must be included along with your tax return. If you have already filed but still need to pay all or some of your taxes, mail the check to the IRS with Form 1040-V.

Request an Extension of Time to File

If you can’t meet the April 15 filing deadline, get an automatic six-month extension of time to file by filing Form 4868, Automatic Extension of Time to File. The form needs to be submitted by April 15.

There are several way you can request an extension, including Free File or Free File Fillable Forms, through your tax professional, with tax software you installed on your computer or on paper.

An extension pushes your filing deadline back to Oct. 15. However, an extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. If you owe taxes, you need to pay at the time you file the extension or face a non-payment penalty.

Apply for an Installment Agreement

If you can’t pay your entire balance due, an installment agreement will allow you to pay any remaining balance in monthly installments. If you owe $25,000 or less, you may apply for a payment plan using the Online Payment Agreement application or just attach Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, to the front of your return. You’ll need to list the amount of your proposed monthly payment and the date you wish to make your payment each month. The IRS charges $105 for setting up the agreement, or $52 if the payments are deducted directly from your bank account.

You will be required to pay interest plus a late payment penalty on the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month after the due date that the tax is not paid.

Help Is Available

For more information about filing and paying your taxes, visit 1040 Central on IRS.gov. Important information is also available in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax. Forms and publications are available for download from IRS.gov or can be ordered by calling toll free 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

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