The IRS provides an appeals system for those who do not agree with the results of a tax return examination or with other adjustments to their tax liability. Here are the top seven things to know when it comes to your appeal rights.
- When the IRS makes an adjustment to your tax return, you will receive a report or letter explaining the proposed adjustments. This letter will also explain how to request a conference with an Appeals office should you not agree with the IRS findings on your tax return.
- In addition to tax return examinations, many other tax obligations can be appealed. You may also appeal penalties, interest, trust fund recovery penalties, offers in compromise, liens and levies.
- You are urged to be prepared with appropriate records and documentation to support your position if you request a conference with an IRS Appeals employee.
- Appeals conferences are informal meetings. You may represent yourself or have someone else represent you. Those allowed to represent taxpayers include attorneys, certified public accountants or individuals enrolled to practice before the IRS.
- The IRS Appeals Office is separate from – and independent of – the IRS office taking the action you may disagree with. The Appeals Office is the only level of administrative appeal within the agency.
- If you do not reach agreement with IRS Appeals or if you do not wish to appeal within the IRS, you may appeal certain actions through the courts.
- For further information on the appeals process, refer to Publication 5, Your Appeal Rights and How To Prepare a Protest If You Don’t Agree. This publication, along with more on IRS Appeals is available at IRS.gov.
- Appeals… Resolving Tax Disputes
- Tax Topic 151 – Your Appeal Rights
- Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer (PDF 21K)
- Publication 5, Your Appeal Rights and How to Prepare a Protest If You Don’t Agree (PDF 36K)
- Publication 556, Examination of Returns, Appeal Rights and Claims for Refunds (PDF 105K)
- Publication 1660, Collection Appeal Rights (PDF 31K)
- Publication 3605, Fast Track Mediation (PDF 15K)
Every year, millions of taxpayers donate money to charitable organizations. The IRS has put together the following list of six things you should know about the tax treatment of tax-exempt organizations.
- Annual returns are made available to the public. Exempt organizations generally must make their annual returns available for public inspection. This also includes the organization’s application for exemption. In addition, an organization exempt under 501(c)(3) must make available any Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return. These documents must be made available to any individual who requests them, and must be made available immediately when the request is made in person. If the request is made in writing, an organization has 30 days to provide a copy of the information, unless it makes the information widely available.
- Donor lists generally are not public information. The list of donors filed with Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax, is specifically excluded from the information required to be made available for public inspection by the exempt organization. There is an exception, private foundations and political organizations must make their donor list available to the public.
- How to find tax-exempt organizations. The easiest way to find out whether an organization is qualified to receive deductible contributions is to ask them. You can ask to see an organization’s exemption letter, which states the Code section that describes the organization and whether contributions made to the organization are deductible. You can also search for organizations qualified to accept deductible contributions in IRS Publication 78, Cumulative List of Organizations and its Addendum, available at IRS.gov. Taxpayers can also confirm an organization’s status by calling the IRS at 877-829-5500.
- Which organizations may accept charitable contributions. Not all exempt organizations are eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. Organizations that are eligible to receive deductible contributions include most charities described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and, in some circumstances, fraternal organizations described in section 501(c)(8) or section 501(c)(10), cemetery companies described in section 501(c)(13), volunteer fire departments described in section 501(c)(4), and veterans organizations described in section 501(c)(4) or 501(c)(19).
- Requirement for organizations not able to accept deductible contributions. If an exempt organization is ineligible to receive tax-deductible contributions, it must disclose that fact when soliciting contributions.
- How to report inappropriate activities by an exempt organization. If you believe that the activities or operations of a tax-exempt organization are inconsistent with its tax-exempt status, you may file a complaint with the Exempt Organizations Examination Division by completing Form 13909, Tax-Exempt Organization Complaint (Referral) Form. The complaint should contain all relevant facts concerning the alleged violation of tax law. Form 13909 is available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
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.
- TAS is your voice at the IRS.
- TAS service is free, confidential, and tailored to meet your needs.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Did you pay someone to care for a child, spouse, or dependent last year? If so, you may be able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit on your federal income tax return. Below are the top 10 things the IRS wants you to know about claiming a credit for child and dependent care expenses.
- The care must have been provided for one or more qualifying persons. A qualifying person is your dependent child age 12 or younger when the care was provided. Additionally, your spouse and certain other individuals who are physically or mentally incapable of self-care may also be qualifying persons. You must identify each qualifying person on your tax return.
- The care must have been provided so you – and your spouse if you are married filing jointly – could work or look for work.
- You – and your spouse if you are married filing jointly – must have earned income from wages, salaries, tips, other taxable employee compensation or net earnings from self-employment. One spouse may be considered as having earned income if they were a full-time student or they were physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.
- The payments for care cannot be paid to your spouse, to someone you can claim as your dependent on your return, or to your child who will not be age 19 or older by the end of the year even if he or she is not your dependent. You must identify the care provider(s) on your tax return.
- Your filing status must be single, married filing jointly, head of household or qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child.
- The qualifying person must have lived with you for more than half of 2009. However, see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses, regarding exceptions for the birth or death of a qualifying person, or a child of divorced or separated parents.
- The credit can be up to 35 percent of your qualifying expenses, depending upon your adjusted gross income.
- For 2009, you may use up to $3,000 of expenses paid in a year for one qualifying individual or $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals to figure the credit.
- The qualifying expenses must be reduced by the amount of any dependent care benefits provided by your employer that you deduct or exclude from your income.
- If you pay someone to come to your home and care for your dependent or spouse, you may be a household employer. If you are a household employer, you may have to withhold and pay social security and Medicare tax and pay federal unemployment tax. For information, see Publication 926, Household Employer’s Tax Guide.
Beginning with 2009 tax returns, Schedule 2, Child and Dependent Care Expenses for Form 1040A Filers, has been eliminated. Form 1040A filers will now use Form 2441, Child and Dependent Care Expenses. For more information on the Child and Dependent Care Credit, see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses. You may download these free forms and publications from IRS.gov or order them by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
There are many e-mail scams circulating that fraudulently use the Internal Revenue Service name or logo as a lure. The goal of the scam – known as phishing – is to trick you into revealing personal and financial information. The scammers can then use your personal information – such as your Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers – to commit identity theft and steal your money.
Here are five things the IRS wants you to know about phishing scams.
1. The IRS does not send unsolicited e-mails about a person’s tax account or ask for detailed personal and financial information via e-mail.
2. The IRS never asks taxpayers for their PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for their credit card, bank or other financial accounts.
3. If you receive an e-mail from someone claiming to be the IRS or directing you to an IRS site,
- Do not reply to the message.
- Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
- Do not click on any links. If you clicked on links in a suspicious e-mail or phishing Web site and entered confidential information, visit IRS.gov and enter the search term ‘identity theft’ for more information and resources to help.
4. You can help shut down these schemes and prevent others from being victimized. If you receive a suspicious e-mail that claims to come from the IRS, you can forward that e-mail to a special IRS mailbox, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can forward the message as received or provide the Internet header of the e-mail. The Internet header has additional information to help us locate the sender.
5. Remember, the official IRS Web site is http://www.irs.gov/. Do not be confused or misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but end in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov.
Link: Suspicious e-Mails and Identity Theft
Filing your tax return doesn’t have to be stressful. The IRS has put together five stress-relieving tips to help you.
1. Don’t Procrastinate Resist the temptation to put off your taxes until the very last minute. Rushing to meet the filing deadline may cause you to overlook potential sources of tax savings and will likely increase your risk of making an error.
2,. Visit the IRS Website In 2009, more than 296 million visits were made to IRS.gov. Make 1040 Central your first stop to learn the latest news and find answers to your questions.
3. File Your Return Electronically Last year, two out of three tax returns were filed electronically. More than 800 million tax returns have been processed safely and securely over the past 20 years. Use e-file and direct deposit to get your refund in as few as10 days. E-filed returns have a much lower error rate. Taxpayers receive a fast acknowledgement that the IRS received the return, a service not available to paper filers. You can e-file through your tax preparer or commercial software. Or, you can use Free File, a service offered by the IRS and private sector partners to prepare and e-file your federal return for free. Again, see IRS.gov for more information.
4. Don’t Panic if You Can’t Pay If you cannot pay the full amount of taxes you owe by the April 15th deadline, you should still file your return by the deadline and pay as much as you can to avoid penalties and interest. You should also contact the IRS to discuss your payment options at 1-800-829-1040. The agency may be able to provide some relief such as a short-term extension to pay, an installment agreement or an offer in compromise.
More than 75 percent of taxpayers eligible for an Installment Agreement can apply using the Web-based Online Payment Agreement application available on IRS.gov. To find out more about this simple and convenient process type “Online Payment Agreement” in the search box on the IRS.gov homepage.
5. Request an Extension of Time to File – But Pay on Time If the April 15 clock runs out, you can get an automatic six-month extension of time to file until October 15. However, this extension of time to file does not give you more time to pay any taxes due. If you have not paid at least 90 percent of the total tax due by the April deadline you may also be subject to an Estimated Tax Penalty. To obtain an extension, just file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. The easiest way to file a Form 4868 is through Free File at www.irs.gov/freefile. Form 4868 is also available at IRS.gov or you can call 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) and have a paper form mailed to you.
The Health Coverage Tax Credit pays 80 percent of health insurance premiums for eligible taxpayers and their qualified family members. However, many people who could be receiving this valuable credit don’t know about it, and are missing out on big savings that can help them and their families keep their health insurance.
Here are the top eight things the IRS wants you to know about the HCTC:
- The HCTC pays 80 percent of an eligible taxpayer’s health insurance premiums.
- The HCTC is a refundable credit, which means it not only reduces a taxpayer’s tax liability but also may result in cash back in his or her pocket at the end of the year.
- Taxpayers can receive the HCTC monthly—when their health plan premiums are due—or as a yearly tax credit.
- Nationwide, thousands of people are eligible for the HCTC.
- You may be eligible for the HCTC if you receive Trade Readjustment Allowances—or unemployment insurance in lieu of TRA—through one of the Trade Adjustment Assistance programs.
- You also may be eligible for the HCTC if you are a Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation payee and are 55 years old or older.
- The most common types of health plans that qualify for the HCTC include COBRA, state-qualified health plans, and spousal coverage. In some cases, non-group/individual plans and health plans associated with Voluntary Employee Benefit Associations established in lieu of COBRA plans also qualify.
- HCTC candidates receive the HCTC Program Kit by mail. The Kit explains the tax credit and provides a simple checklist to determine eligibility. Also included in the Kit is the HCTC Registration Form.
For more information on the HCTC and how it may benefit you, call the HCTC Customer Contact Center toll free at 1-866-628-HCTC (4282). If you have a hearing impairment, please call 1-866-626-4282 (TTY). You also can visit the HCTC online at www.IRS.gov/hctc.
Link: The Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) Program