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IRS Presents: Gambling Winnings Are Always Taxable Income

Gambling winnings are fully taxable and must be reported on your tax return. Here are the top seven facts the Internal Revenue Service wants you to know about gambling winnings.

  1. Gambling income includes – but is not limited to – winnings from lotteries, raffles, horse and dog races and casinos, as well as the fair market value of prizes such as cars, houses, trips or other noncash prizes.
  2. Depending on the type and amount of your winnings, the payer might provide you with a Form W-2G and may have withheld federal income taxes from the payment.
  3. The full amount of your gambling winnings for the year must be reported on line 21 of IRS Form 1040. You may not use Form 1040A or 1040EZ. This rule applies regardless of the amount and regardless of whether you receive a Form W-2G or any other reporting form.
  4. If you itemize deductions, you can deduct your gambling losses for the year on line 28 of Schedule A, Form 1040.
  5. You cannot deduct gambling losses that are more than your winnings.
  6. It is important to keep an accurate diary or similar record of your gambling winnings and losses.
  7. To deduct your losses, you must be able to provide receipts, tickets, statements or other records that show the amount of both your winnings and losses.

For more information see IRS Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions, or Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income, both available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

IRS Presents: What to do With Your Business Start-up and Organization Costs

Business Start-Up and Organizational Costs

Business start-up and organizational costs are generally capital expenditures. However, you can elect to deduct up to $5,000 of business start-up and $5,000 of organizational costs paid or incurred after October 22, 2004. The $5,000 deduction is reduced by the amount your total start-up or organizational costs exceed $50,000. Any remaining costs must be amortized. For information about amortizing start-up and organizational costs, see chapter 8.

Start-up costs include any amounts paid or incurred in connection with creating an active trade or business or investigating the creation or acquisition of an active trade or business. Organizational costs include the costs of creating a corporation. For more information on start-up and organizational costs, see chapter 8 [of publication 535] .

  
How to make the election.    You elect to deduct the start-up or organizational costs by claiming the deduction on the income tax return (filed by the due date including extensions) for the tax year in which the active trade or business begins. However, if you timely filed your return for the year without making the election, you can still make the election by filing an amended return within 6 months of the due date of the return (excluding extensions). Clearly indicate the election on your amended return and write “Filed pursuant to section 301.9100-2.” File the amended return at the same address you filed the original return. The election applies when computing taxable income for the current tax year and all subsequent years.

IRS Presents: Top Ten Facts about Taking Early Distributions from Retirement Plans

Some taxpayers may have needed to take an early distribution from their retirement plan last year. The IRS wants individuals who took an early distribution to know that there can be a tax impact to tapping your retirement fund.  Here are ten facts about early distributions.

  1. Payments you receive from your Individual Retirement Arrangement before you reach age 59 ½ are generally considered early or premature distributions.
  2. Early distributions are usually subject to an additional 10 percent tax.
  3. Early distributions must also be reported to the IRS.
  4. Distributions you rollover to another IRA or qualified retirement plan are not subject to the additional 10 percent tax. You must complete the rollover within 60 days after the day you received the distribution.
  5. The amount you roll over is generally taxed when the new plan makes a distribution to you or your beneficiary.
  6. If you made nondeductible contributions to an IRA and later take early distributions from your IRA, the portion of the distribution attributable to those nondeductible contributions is not taxed.
  7. If you received an early distribution from a Roth IRA, the distribution attributable to your prior contributions is not taxed.
  8. If you received a distribution from any other qualified retirement plan, generally the entire distribution is taxable unless you made after-tax employee contributions to the plan.
  9. There are several exceptions to the additional 10 percent early distribution tax, such as when the distributions are used for the purchase of a first home, for certain medical or educational expenses, or if you are disabled.
  10. For more information about early distributions from retirement plans, the additional 10 percent tax and all the exceptions see IRS Publication 575, Pension and Annuity Income and Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs). Both publications are available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Links:

  • Publication 575, Pensions and Annuities (PDF 227K)
  • Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) (PDF 449K)  
  • Form 5329, Additional Taxes on Qualified Plans (including IRAs) and Other Tax Favored Accounts   (PDF 72K)
  • Form 5329 Instructions (PDF 40K)

IRS Presents: Seven Facts About Social Security Benefits

If you received Social Security benefits in 2009, you need to know whether or not these benefits are taxable. Here are seven facts the Internal Revenue Service wants you to know about Social Security benefits so you can determine whether or not they are taxable to you.

1.  How much – if any – of your Social Security benefits are taxable depends on your total income and marital status.

2. Generally, if Social Security benefits were your only income for 2009, your benefits are not taxable and you probably do not need to file a federal income tax return.

3. If you received income from other sources, your benefits will not be taxed unless your modified adjusted gross income is more than the base amount for your filing status.

4. Your taxable benefits and modified adjusted gross income are figured on a worksheet in the Form 1040A or Form 1040 Instruction booklet.

5. You can do the following quick computation to determine whether some of your benefits may be taxable:

  • First, add one-half of the total Social Security benefits you received to all your other income, including any tax exempt interest and other exclusions from income.
  • Then, compare this total to the base amount for your filing status. If the total is more than your base amount, some of your benefits may be taxable.

6. The 2009 base amounts are:

  • $32,000 for married couples filing jointly.
  • $25,000 for single, head of household, qualifying widow/widower with a dependent child, or married individuals filing separately who did not live with their spouses at any time during the year.
  • $0 for married persons filing separately who lived together during the year.

7. For additional information on the taxability of Social Security benefits, see IRS Publication 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits. Publication 915 is available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Links:

  • Publication 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits (994.0KB)

Watch Out Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act is A Federal Provision. Does Your State Comply?

The facts listed below are good to know.  However, it’s just as important to realize that the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act is a federal provision.  If you are thinking that your mortgage debt forgiveness wont cause you a tax problem, better check out the state rules before you come to that conclusion. 

In California for example:

“For tax year 2009, California does not conform to the federal Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act which applies to discharges occurring in 2007 through 2012. 1 Amounts excluded for federal income tax purposes must be added to income for California tax purposes.”

1 Federal law initially applied to discharges occurring from 2007 through 2009 (the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, Public Law 110-142, December 20, 2007). Federal mortgage forgiveness debt relief was subsequently extended to apply to discharges occurring from 2009 through 2012 (the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, Public Law 111-5, October 3, 2008).

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Ten Facts about Mortgage Debt Forgiveness 

If your mortgage debt is partly or entirely forgiven during tax years 2007 through 2012, you may be able to claim special tax relief and exclude the debt forgiven from your income. Here are 10 facts the IRS wants you to know about Mortgage Debt Forgiveness.

  1. Normally, debt forgiveness results in taxable income. However, under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, you may be able to exclude up to $2 million of debt forgiven on your principal residence.
  2. The limit is $1 million for a married person filing a separate return.
  3. You may exclude debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in a foreclosure.
  4. To qualify, the debt must have been used to buy, build or substantially improve your principal residence and be secured by that residence.
  5. Refinanced debt proceeds used for the purpose of substantially improving your principal residence also qualify for the exclusion.
  6. Proceeds of refinanced debt used for other purposes – for example, to pay off credit card debt – do not qualify for the exclusion.
  7. If you qualify, claim the special exclusion by filling out Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness, and attach it to your federal income tax return for the tax year in which the qualified debt was forgiven.
  8. Debt forgiven on second homes, rental property, business property, credit cards or car loans does not qualify for the tax relief provision. In some cases, however, other tax relief provisions – such as insolvency – may be applicable. IRS Form 982 provides more details about these provisions.
  9. If your debt is reduced or eliminated you normally will receive a year-end statement, Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, from your lender. By law, this form must show the amount of debt forgiven and the fair market value of any property foreclosed.
  10. Examine the Form 1099-C carefully. Notify the lender immediately if any of the information shown is incorrect. You should pay particular attention to the amount of debt forgiven in Box 2 as well as the value listed for your home in Box 7.

For more information about the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, visit IRS.gov. A good resource is IRS Publication 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions and Abandonments. Taxpayers may obtain a copy of this publication and Form 982 either by downloading them from IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

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IRS Presents: Five Ways to Offset Education Costs

College can be very expensive. To help students and their parents, the IRS offers the following five ways to offset education costs.

  1. The American Opportunity Credit This credit can help parents and students pay part of the cost of the first four years of college. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act modifies the existing Hope Credit for tax years 2009 and 2010, making it available to a broader range of taxpayers. Eligible taxpayers may qualify for the maximum annual credit of $2,500 per student. Generally, 40 percent of the credit is refundable, which means that you may be able to receive up to $1,000, even if you owe no taxes.
  2. The Hope Credit The credit can help students and parents pay part of the cost of the first two years of college. This credit generally applies to 2008 and earlier tax years. However, for tax year 2009 a special expanded Hope Credit of up to $3,600 may be claimed for a student attending college in a Midwestern disaster area as long as you do not claim an American Opportunity Tax Credit for any other student in 2009.
  3. The Lifetime Learning Credit This credit can help pay for undergraduate, graduate and professional degree courses – including courses to improve job skills – regardless of the number of years in the program.  Eligible taxpayers may qualify for up to $2,000 – $4,000 if a student in a Midwestern disaster area – per tax return.
  4. Enhanced benefits for 529 college savings plans Certain computer technology purchases are now added to the list of college expenses that can be paid for by a qualified tuition program, commonly referred to as a 529 plan.  For 2009 and 2010, the law expands the definition of qualified higher education expenses to include expenses for computer technology and equipment or Internet access and related services.
  5. Tuition and fees deduction Students and their parents may be able to deduct qualified college tuition and related expenses of up to $4,000. This deduction is an adjustment to income, which means the deduction will reduce the amount of your income subject to tax. The Tuition and Fees Deduction may be beneficial to you if you do not qualify for the American opportunity, Hope, or lifetime learning credits.

You cannot claim the American Opportunity and the Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits for the same student in the same year. You also cannot claim any of the credits if you claim a tuition and fees deduction for the same student in the same year. To qualify for an education credit, you must pay post-secondary tuition and certain related expenses for yourself, your spouse or your dependent. The credit may be claimed by the parent or the student, but not by both. Students who are claimed as a dependent cannot claim the credit.

For more information, see Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education, which can be obtained online at IRS.gov or by calling the IRS at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
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IRS Presents: Five Important Facts About Your Unemployment Benefits

Taxpayers who received unemployment benefits in 2009 are entitled to a special tax break when they file their 2009 federal tax returns. This tax break is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Here are five important facts the Internal Revenue Service wants you to know about your unemployment benefits.

  1. Unemployment compensation generally includes any amounts received under the unemployment compensation laws of the United States or of a specific state. It includes state unemployment insurance benefits, railroad unemployment compensation benefits and benefits paid to you by a state or the District of Columbia from the Federal Unemployment Trust Fund. It does not include worker’s compensation.
  2. Normally, unemployment benefits are taxable; however, under the Recovery Act, every person who receives unemployment benefits during 2009 is eligible to exclude the first $2,400 of these benefits when they file their federal tax return.
  3. For a married couple, if each spouse received unemployment compensation then each is eligible to exclude the first $2,400 of benefits.
  4. You should receive a Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments, which shows the total unemployment compensation paid to you in 2009 in box 1.
  5. You must subtract $2,400 from the amount in box 1 of Form 1099-G to figure how much of your unemployment compensation is taxable and must be reported on your federal tax return. Do not enter less than zero.

For more information, visit IRS.gov/recovery.
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IRS Presents: Seven Tax Tips for Disabled Taxpayers

Taxpayers with disabilities may qualify for a number of IRS tax credits and benefits. Parents of children with disabilities may also qualify. Listed below are seven tax credits and other benefits that are available if you or someone else listed on your federal tax return is disabled.

  1. Standard Deduction Taxpayers who are legally blind may be entitled to a higher standard deduction on their tax return.
  2. Gross Income Certain disability-related payments, Veterans Administration disability benefits, and Supplemental Security Income are excluded from gross income.
  3. Impairment-Related Work Expenses Employees, who have a physical or mental disability limiting their employment, may be able to claim business expenses in connection with their workplace. The expenses must be necessary for the taxpayer to work.
  4. Credit for the Elderly or Disabled This credit is generally available to certain taxpayers who are 65 and older as well as to certain disabled taxpayers who are younger than 65 and are retired on permanent and total disability.
  5. Medical Expenses If you itemize your deductions using Form 1040 Schedule A, you may be able to deduct medical expenses. See IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.
  6. Earned Income Tax Credit EITC is available to disabled taxpayers as well as to the parents of a child with a disability. If you retired on disability, taxable benefits you receive under your employer’s disability retirement plan are considered earned income until you reach minimum retirement age. The EITC is a tax credit that not only reduces a taxpayer’s tax liability but may also result in a refund. Many working individuals with a disability who have no qualifying children, but are older than 25 and younger than 65 do — in fact — qualify for EITC. Additionally, if the taxpayer’s child is disabled, the age limitation for the EITC is waived. The EITC has no effect on certain public benefits. Any refund you receive because of the EITC will not be considered income when determining whether you are eligible for benefit programs such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid.
  7. Child or Dependent Care Credit Taxpayers who pay someone to come to their home and care for their dependent or spouse may be entitled to claim this credit. There is no age limit if the taxpayer’s spouse or dependent is unable to care for themselves.

For more information on tax credits and benefits available to disabled taxpayers, see Publication 3966, Living and Working with Disabilities or Publication 907, Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilitiesavailable on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
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IRS Presents: Four Steps to Follow If You Are Missing a W-2

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).

Links:

  • Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement (PDF 29K)
  • Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return (PDF 123K)
  • Instructions for Form 1040X (PDF 43K)  

IRS Presents: Five Tips for Avoiding Refund Delays Relating to Your Economic Recovery Payment

The $250 Economic Recovery Payments that were issued in 2009 by the Social Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs and Railroad Retirement Board must be included when claiming the Making Work Pay Tax Credit on 2009 tax returns. Many people who worked during 2009 and also received a $250 Economic Recovery Payment in 2009 are slowing down their tax refunds by not properly including the payments when claiming the Making Work Pay Tax Credit.

Here are five tips from the IRS that will help you avoid these refund delays:

  1. If you worked during 2009, you may be eligible to claim the Making Work Pay Tax Credit that was established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and is worth up to $400 for individuals and $800 for married couples.
  2. The Economic Recovery Payments are not taxable income; however, anyone who receives social security, veteran or railroad retirement benefits, as well as certain other government retirement benefits, must reduce the Making Work Pay Tax Credit they claim by the amount of any payment they received in 2009.
  3. Taxpayers with earned income should claim the credit by attaching Schedule M to their 2009 income tax return.
  4. To help avoid delays when you claim the credit, make sure you properly report your Economic Recovery Payment on IRS Schedule M, Making Work Pay and Government Retiree Credits.
  5. If you are not certain whether you received the $250 payment, you should verify that information by contacting the appropriate agency before preparing and filing your tax return and claiming the Making Work Pay Tax Credit.

More information about the Economic Recovery Payment and the Making Work Pay Tax Credit can be found at IRS.gov/recovery.  Schedule M and the related instructions can be obtained at IRS.gov or can be ordered by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

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IRS Presents: Homebuyer Credit Documentation Facts

Stacie says:  Unless you have lived under a rock for the last few months, you know that last year there were issues with taxpayers fraudulently claiming the homebuyers credit.  As a result, the IRS has some new requirements.  Check out this information on what you should attach to your tax return if you are claiming this credit.

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Claiming the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit on your 2009 tax return might mean a larger refund but it can seem complex. Are you confused about the documentation requirements? The IRS recognizes that the settlement documents can vary from location to location, so here are five tips to clarify the documentation requirements.

  1. Settlement Statement: Purchasers of conventional homes must attach a copy of Form HUD-1 or other properly executed Settlement Statement.
  2. Properly Executed Settle Statement: Generally, a properly executed settlement statement shows all parties’ names and signatures, property address, sales price and date of purchase. However, settlement documents, including the Form HUD-1, can vary from one location to another and may not include the signatures of both the buyer and seller. In areas where signatures are not required on the settlement document, the IRS encourages buyers to sign the settlement statement when they file their tax return — even in cases where the settlement form does not include a signature line.
  3. Retail Sales Contract: Purchasers of mobile homes who are unable to get a settlement statement must attach a copy of the executed retail sales contract showing all parties’ names and signatures, property address, purchase price and date of purchase.
  4. Certificate of Occupancy: For a newly constructed home, where a settlement statement is not available, attach a copy of the certificate of occupancy showing the owner’s name, property address and date of the certificate.
  5. Long-Time Residents: If you are a long-time resident claiming the credit, the IRS recommends that you also attach documentation covering the five-consecutive-year period such as Form 1098, Mortgage Interest Statement or substitute mortgage interest statements, property tax records or homeowner’s insurance records.

For more information about the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit and the documentation requirements, visit IRS.gov/recovery.

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IRS Presents: Eight Facts about the New Vehicle Sales and Excise Tax Deduction

If you bought a new vehicle in 2009, you may be entitled to a special tax deduction for the sales and excise taxes on your purchase.

Here are eight important facts the Internal Revenue Service wants you to know about this deduction:

  1. State and local sales and excise taxes paid on up to $49,500 of the purchase price of each qualifying vehicle are deductible.
  2. Qualified motor vehicles generally include new cars, light trucks, motor homes and motorcycles.
  3. To qualify for the deduction, the new cars, light trucks and motorcycles must weigh 8,500 pounds or less. New motor homes are not subject to the weight limit.
  4. Purchases must occur after Feb. 16, 2009, and before Jan. 1, 2010.
  5. Purchases made in states without a sales tax — such as Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon — may also qualify for the deduction. Taxpayers in these states may be entitled to deduct other qualifying fees or taxes imposed by the state or local government. The fees or taxes that qualify must be assessed on the purchase of the vehicle and must be based on the vehicle’s sales price or as a per unit fee.
  6. This deduction can be taken regardless of whether the buyers itemize their deductions or choose the standard deduction. Taxpayers who do not itemize will add this additional amount to the standard deduction on their 2009 tax return.
  7. The amount of the deduction is phased out for taxpayers whose modified adjusted gross income is between $125,000 and $135,000 for individual filers and between $250,000 and $260,000 for joint filers.
  8. Taxpayers who do not itemize must complete Schedule L, Standard Deduction for Certain Filers to claim the deduction.

For more information about these rules and other eligibility requirements visit IRS.gov/recovery.

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IRS Presents: Be Sure to Know Whether You Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit

The Earned Income Tax Credit, commonly referred to as EITC, can be a financial boost for working people adversely impacted by hard economic times. However, one in four eligible taxpayers could miss out on the credit because they don’t check it out. Here are the top 10 things the Internal Revenue Service wants you to know about this valuable credit, which has been making the lives of working people a little easier for 35 years.

  1. Just because you didn’t qualify last year, doesn’t mean you won’t this year. As your financial, marital or parental situations change from year-to-year, you should review the EITC eligibility rules to determine whether you qualify.
  2. If you qualify, it could be worth up to $5,657 this year. EITC not only reduces the federal tax you owe, but could result in a refund. The amount of your EITC is based on the amount of your earned income and whether or not there are qualifying children in your household. New EITC provisions mean more money for larger families.
  3. If you qualify, you must file a federal income tax return and specifically claim the credit in order to get it – even if you are not otherwise required to file.
  4. Your filing status cannot be Married Filing Separately.
  5. You must have a valid Social Security Number. You, your spouse – if filing a joint return – and any qualifying child listed on Schedule EIC must have a valid SSN issued by the Social Security Administration.
  6. You must have earned income. You have earned income if you work for someone who pays you wages, you are self-employed, you have income from farming, or – in some cases – you receive disability income.
  7. Married couples and single people without kids may qualify. If you do not have qualifying children, you must also meet the age and residency requirements as well as dependency rules.
  8. Special rules apply to members of the U.S. Armed Forces in combat zones. Members of the military can elect to include their nontaxable combat pay in earned income for the EITC. If you make this election, the combat pay remains nontaxable.
  9. It’s easy to determine whether you qualify. The EITC Assistant, an interactive tool available on IRS.gov, removes the guesswork from eligibility rules. Just answer a few simple questions to find out if you qualify and estimate the amount of your EITC.
  10. Free help is available at volunteer assistance sites and IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers to help you prepare and claim your EITC. If you are preparing your taxes electronically, the software program you use will figure the credit for you. If you qualify for the credit you may also be eligible for Free File. You can access Free File at IRS.gov.

For more information about the EITC, see IRS Publication 596, Earned Income Credit. This publication – available in both English and Spanish – can be downloaded from IRS.gov or ordered by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

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Earned Income Tax Credit:  English | Spanish | ASL

IRS Presents: Five New Things to Know About 2009 Taxes

As you get ready to prepare your 2009 tax return, the Internal Revenue Service wants to make sure you have all the details about tax law changes that may impact your tax return.

Here are the top five changes that may show up on your 2009 return.

1. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

ARRA provides several tax provisions that affect tax year 2009 individual tax returns due April 15, 2010. The recovery law provides tax incentives for first-time homebuyers, people who purchased new cars, those that made their homes more energy efficient, parents and students paying for college, and people who received unemployment compensation.

2. IRA Deduction Expanded

You may be able to take an IRA deduction if you were covered by a retirement plan and your 2009 modified adjusted gross income is less than $65,000 or $109,000 if you are married filing a joint return.

3. Standard Deduction Increased for Most Taxpayers

The 2009 basic standard deductions all increased. They are:

  • $11,400 for married couples filing a joint return and qualifying widows and widowers
  • $5,700 for singles and married individuals filing separate returns
  • $8,350 for heads of household

Taxpayers can now claim an additional standard deduction based on the state or local sales or excise taxes paid on the purchase of most new motor vehicles purchased after February 16, 2009. You can also increase your standard deduction by the state or local real estate taxes paid during the year or net disaster losses suffered from a federally declared disaster.

4. 2009 Standard Mileage Rates

The standard mileage rates changed for 2009. The standard mileage rates for business use of a vehicle:

  • 55 cents per mile

The standard mileage rates for the cost of operating a vehicle for medical reasons or a deductible move:

  • 24 cents per mile

The standard mileage rate for using a car to provide services to charitable organizations remains at 14 cents per mile.

5. Kiddie Tax Change

The amount of taxable investment income a child can have without it being subject to tax at the parent’s rate has increased to $1,900 for 2009.

For more information about these and other changes for tax year 2009, visit IRS.gov.
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IRS Presents:Five Ways to Obtain IRS Forms and Publications

[Stacie says: You can never have too much knowledge.  So even if you use a professional tax preparer, it can’t hurt to know where to get information about a bunch of different tax topics. ]

The Internal Revenue Service has free tax forms and publications on a wide variety of topics. If you need IRS forms, here are five easy methods for getting the information you need.

  1. On the Internet You can access forms and publications on the IRS Web site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at IRS.gov.
  2. By Phone You can call 1-800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) Monday through Friday 7:00 am to 10:00 pm local time – except Alaska and Hawaii which are Pacific time – to order current year forms, instructions and publications as well as prior year forms and instructions. You should receive your order within 10 days.
  3. At Convenient Locations in Your Community During the tax filing season, many libraries and post offices offer free tax forms to taxpayers. Some libraries also have copies of commonly requested publications. Many large grocery stores, copy centers and office supply stores have forms you can photocopy or print from a CD.
  4. By Mail Order your tax forms and publications from the IRS National Distribution Center at 1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway, Bloomington, IL, 61705-6613. You should receive your products 10 days after receipt of your order.
  5. Taxpayer Assistance Centers There are 401 TACs across the country where IRS offers face-to-face assistance to taxpayers, and where taxpayers can pick up many IRS forms and publications. Visit IRS.gov and go to Contact My Local Office on the Individuals page to find a list of TAC locations by state. On the Contact My Local Office page, you can also select TAC Site Search and enter your zip code to find the IRS walk-in office nearest you as well as a list of the services available at specific offices.

Links:

  • Publication 910, Guide to Free Tax Services (PDF 636K)
  • Publication 2053A, Quick and Easy Access to IRS Tax Help and Forms (PDF 40K)
  • Order Publication 1796, Federal Tax Products on CD-ROM, from NTIS — the National Technical Information Service.
  • State tax forms
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