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Fixing Your Tax Return If You Messed It Up

By Stacie Kitts, CPA

So you filed your tax return and now you’ve discovered that it’s all wrong or you simply forgot to include something.  Not to fret, there is a way to fix it all up.

Ultimately, the IRS will “fix” it for you if you forget to add a W2 or a Form 1099.  However, if you wait for the IRS to find and correct the error, and you owe additional tax, they are going to charge you interest on the taxes that are due until you pay them.  If you are going to owe a large amount of tax, you should consider filing an amended return and paying what you owe as soon as possible.

The Form you use to amend your return is Form 1040X.  Be sure to read the instructions carefully before you begin to complete this form.

You are required to explain the reason for the amendment and the effect on the tax return – there is a place for this on the form.  Plus, additional attachments will likely be required to be filed with the Form 1040X including updated / corrected Form 1040, the originally filed Form 1040 and associated schedules.

 Here are ten facts from the Internal Revenue Service about amending your federal tax return:

  1. When to amend a return You should file an amended return if your filing status, your dependents, your total income or your deductions or credits were reported incorrectly.
  2. When NOT to amend a return  In some cases, you do not need to amend your tax return.  The IRS usually corrects math errors or requests missing forms – such as W-2s or schedules – when processing an original return.  In these instances, do not amend your return. [ya, I don’t completely agree with this – see my comments above]
  3. Form to use Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to amend a previously filed Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ.  Make sure you check the box for the year of the return you are amending on the Form 1040X. Amended tax returns cannot be filed electronically.
  4. Multiple amended returns If you are amending more than one year’s tax return, prepare a 1040X for each return and mail them in separate envelopes to the appropriate IRS processing center.
  5. Form 1040X The Form 1040X has three columns. Column A shows original figures from the original return (if however, the return was previously amended or adjusted by IRS, use the adjusted figures). Column C shows the corrected figures. The difference between Column A and C is shown in Column B.  There is an area on the back of the form to explain the specific changes and the reason for the change.
  6. Other forms or schedules If the changes involve other schedules or forms, attach them to the Form 1040X.
  7. Additional refund 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.
  8. Additional tax If you owe additional tax, you should file Form 1040X and pay the tax as soon as possible to limit interest and penalty charges.
  9. When to file Generally, to claim a refund, 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.
  10. Processing time Normal processing time for amended returns is 8 to 12 weeks.

IRS Patrol – New: Surviving Spouses to Benefit from Portability Election; Estate Tax Return Required to Make this Choice For Some, Form 706 Due as Early as Oct. 3

Kilkenny Castle

Katherman Kitts & Co. LLP Protect Your Castle

By Stacie Kitts

Folks – here is info on the new portability election eliminating the need for spouses to retitled property and create trusts solely to take advantage of each spouses exclusion amount.  Read on…..

IR-2011-97, Sept. 29, 2011

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded estates of married individuals dying after 2010 that they must file an estate tax return to pass along their unused estate & gift tax exclusion amount to their surviving spouse.

Available for the first time this year, the new portability election allows estates of married taxpayers to pass along the unused part of their exclusion amount, normally $5 million in 2011, to their surviving spouse. Enacted last December, this provision eliminates the need for spouses to retitle property and create trusts solely to take full advantage of each spouse’s exclusion amount.

The IRS expects that most estates of people who are married will want to make the portability election, including people who are not required to file an estate tax return for some other reason. The only way to make the election is by properly and timely filing an estate tax return on Form 706. There are no special boxes to check or statements needed to make the election.

The first estate tax returns for estates eligible to make the portability election (because the date of death is after Dec. 31, 2010) are due as early as Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. This is because the estate tax return is due nine months after the date of death. Estates unable to meet this deadline can request an automatic six-month filing extension by filing Form 4768. The IRS emphasized that estates of those who died before 2011 are not eligible to make this election.

The IRS plans to issue regulations providing further guidance on this election and welcomes public comment on a number of issues. There are three ways to submit comments:

  • E-mail to: Notice.Comments@irscounsel.treas.gov. Include “Notice 2011-82” in the subject line.
  • Mail to: Internal Revenue Service, CC:PA:LPD:PR (Notice 2011-82), Room 5203, P.O. Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044.
  • Hand deliver to: CC:PA:LPD:PR (Notice 2011-82), Courier’s Desk, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The deadline is Oct. 31, 2011. Further details are in Notice 2011-82, posted today on IRS.gov.

Tax Deductions for Unemployed Persons Looking For Work

By Stacie Kitts, CPA

There are so many people looking for work, I agree it’s was a good idea to remind people that there is a tax deduction waiting for taxpayers.  Although – I think some of the restrictions here are totally bogus as it applies to this economy.  I think the restrictions should be lifted. But that’s just my opinion.

Here are seven things the IRS wants you to know about deducting costs related to your job search.

  1. To qualify for a deduction, the expenses must be spent on a job search in your current occupation. You may not deduct expenses you incur while looking for a job in a new occupation. [This restriction irks me. Rather than wasting away on unemployment, any attempt to get a job should be rewarded]
  2. You can deduct employment and outplacement agency fees you pay while looking for a job in your present occupation. If your employer pays you back in a later year for employment agency fees, you must include the amount you receive in your gross income, up to the amount of your tax benefit in the earlier year.
  3. You can deduct amounts you spend for preparing and mailing copies of your résumé to prospective employers as long as you are looking for a new job in your present occupation.
  4. If you travel to an area to look for a new job in your present occupation, you may be able to deduct travel expenses to and from the area. You can only deduct the travel expenses if the trip is primarily to look for a new job. The amount of time you spend on personal activity compared to the amount of time you spend looking for work is important in determining whether the trip is primarily personal or is primarily to look for a new job.
  5. You cannot deduct job search expenses if there was a substantial break between the end of your last job and the time you begin looking for a new one. [In this economy, I think this restriction is stupid also]
  6. You cannot deduct job search expenses if you are looking for a job for the first time. [Okay well maybe I can go along with this one]
  7. The amount of job search expenses that you can claim on your tax return is limited. You can claim the amount that is more than 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.  You figure your deduction on Schedule A. [bogus – these should not be limited – all attempts to find employment – again in this economy – in my opinion should be fully deductible]

For more information about job search expenses, see IRS Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions. This publication is available on www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

IRS Patrol – 2010 Form 8939 is Due Nov. 15; Reporting Option Applies to Many Large Estates

Seal of the Internal Revenue Service

Katherman Kitts & Co. LLP

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service issued guidance today on the treatment of basis for certain estates of decedents who died in 2010.  The guidance assists executors who are making the choice to opt out of the estate tax and have the carryover basis rules apply.  Form 8939, the basis allocation form required to be filed by executors opting out of the estate tax, is due Nov. 15, 2011.

Under the guidance issued today, an executor must file Form 8939, Allocation of Increase in Basis for Property Acquired from a Decedent, to opt out of the estate tax and have the new carryover basis rules apply. The IRS expects to issue Form 8939 and the related instructions early this fall.

Under the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the estate tax was repealed for persons who died in 2010. However, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 reinstated the estate tax for persons who died in 2010. This recent law allows executors of the estates of decedents who died in 2010 to opt out of the estate tax, and instead elect to be governed by the repealed carry-over basis provisions of the 2001 Act. This choice is to be made by filing Form 8939.

Can’t Pay Your Tax Bill?

Check Writing

Paying Your Tax

If you owe money to the IRS there are many ways to pay, including paying over time.  Here is some helpful info from the IRS tax tips:

  1. Tax bill payments If you get a bill this summer for late taxes, you are expected to promptly pay the tax owed including any penalties and interest.  If you are unable to pay the amount due, it is often in your best interest to get a loan to pay the bill in full rather than to make installment payments to the IRS.
  2. Additional time to pay Based on your circumstances, you may be granted a short additional time to pay your tax in full. A brief additional amount of time to pay can be requested through the Online Payment Agreement application at www.irs.gov or by calling 800-829-1040.
  3. Credit card payments You can pay your bill with a credit card. The interest rate on a credit card may be lower than the combination of interest and penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Code. To pay by credit card contact one of the following processing companies: Link2Gov at 888-PAY-1040 (or www.pay1040.com), RBS WorldPay, Inc. at 888-9PAY-TAX (or www.payUSAtax.com), or Official Payments Corporation at 888-UPAY-TAX (or www.officialpayments.com/fed).
  4. Electronic Funds Transfer You can pay the balance by electronic funds transfer, check, money order, cashier’s check or cash.  To pay using electronic funds transfer, use the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System by either calling 800-555-4477 or using the online access at www.eftps.gov.
  5. Installment Agreement You may request an installment agreement if you cannot pay the liability in full. This is an agreement between you and the IRS to pay the amount due in monthly installment payments. You must first file all required returns and be current with estimated tax payments.
  6. Online Payment Agreement If you owe $25,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest, you can request an installment agreement using the Online Payment Agreement application at www.irs.gov.
  7. Form 9465 You can complete and mail an IRS Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, along with your bill in the envelope you received from the IRS.  The IRS will inform you (usually within 30 days) whether your request is approved, denied, or if additional information is needed.
  8. Collection Information Statement You may still qualify for an installment agreement if you owe more than $25,000, but you are required to complete a Form 433F, Collection Information Statement, before the IRS will consider an installment agreement.
  9. User fees If an installment agreement is approved, a one-time user fee will be charged.  The user fee for a new agreement is $105 or $52 for agreements where payments are deducted directly from your bank account.  For eligible individuals with lower incomes, the fee can be reduced to $43.
  10. Check withholding Taxpayers who have a balance due may want to consider changing their W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, with their employer. A withholding calculator at www.irs.gov can help taxpayers determine the amount that should be withheld.

For more information about the Fresh Start initiative, installment agreements and other payment options visit www.irs.gov.  IRS Publications 594, The IRS Collection Process, and 966, Electronic Choices to Pay All Your Federal Taxes, also provide additional information regarding your payment options. These publications and Form 9465 can be obtained from www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Links:

  • Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process (PDF)
  • Publication 966, Electronic Choices to Pay All Your Federal Taxes (PDF)
  • Form 9465, Installment Agreement (PDF)

IRS Patrol – IRS Announces New Voluntary Worker Classification Settlement Program; Past Payroll Tax Relief Provided to Employers Who Reclassify Their Workers as Employees

Original caption: Farm, farm workers, Mt. Will...

Worker or Contractor that is the question

If you or your clients think there might be an issue with the classification of  employees – that is, are your workers independent contractors or not, now is the time to look into correction.

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service  launched a new program that will enable many employers to resolve past worker classification issues and achieve certainty under the tax law at a low cost by voluntarily reclassifying their workers.

This new program will allow employers the opportunity to get into compliance by making a minimal payment covering past payroll tax obligations rather than waiting for an IRS audit.

This is part of a larger “Fresh Start” initiative at the IRS to help taxpayers and businesses address their tax responsibilities.

“This settlement program provides certainty and relief to employers in an important area,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “This is part of a wider effort to help taxpayers and businesses to help give them a fresh start with their tax obligations.”

The new Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) is designed to increase tax compliance and reduce burden for employers by providing greater certainty for employers, workers and the government. Under the program, eligible employers can obtain substantial relief from federal payroll taxes they may have owed for the past, if they prospectively treat workers as employees. The VCSP is available to many businesses, tax-exempt organizations and government entities that currently erroneously treat their workers or a class or group of workers as nonemployees or independent contractors, and now want to correctly treat these workers as employees.

To be eligible, an applicant must:

  • • Consistently have treated the workers in the past as nonemployees,
  • • Have filed all required Forms 1099 for the workers for the previous three years
  • • Not currently be under audit by the IRS, the Department of Labor or a state agency concerning the classification of these workers

Interested employers can apply for the program by filing Form 8952, Application for Voluntary Classification Settlement Program, at least 60 days before they want to begin treating the workers as employees.

Employers accepted into the program will pay an amount effectively equaling just over one percent of the wages paid to the reclassified workers for the past year. No interest or penalties will be due, and the employers will not be audited on payroll taxes related to these workers for prior years. Participating employers will, for the first three years under the program, be subject to a special six-year statute of limitations, rather than the usual three years that generally applies to payroll taxes.

Full details, including FAQs, are available on the Employment Tax pages of IRS.gov, and in Announcement 2011-64, posted [September 21, 2011].

Tax Guidance – Election of Reduced Research Credit

TD 9539 contains final regulations that amend the regulations concerning the election to claim the reduced research credit.  The final regulations simplify how taxpayers make the election and affect taxpayers that claim the reduced research credit.These final regulations simplify the section 280C(c)(3) election to have the provisions of section 280C(c)(1) and (c)(2) not apply by requiring the election to be made on Form 6765, “Credit for Increasing Research Activities.”  The form must be filed with an original return for the taxable year filed on or before the due date (including extensions) for filing the income tax return for such year.  An election, once made for any taxable year, is irrevocable for that taxable year.

Six Things to Know About the Expanded Adoption Tax Credit

If you are adopting a child in 2011, the Internal Revenue Service encourages you to familiarize yourself with the adoption tax credit. The Affordable Care Act increased the amount of the credit and made it refundable, which means it can increase the amount of your refund.

Here are six things to know about this valuable tax credit:

  1. The adoption tax credit, which is as much as $13,170, offsets qualified adoption expenses making adoption possible for some families who could not otherwise afford it. Taxpayers who adopt a child in 2010 or 2011 may qualify if you adopted or attempted to adopt a child and paid qualified expenses relating to the adoption.
  2. Taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income of more than $182,520 in 2010 may not qualify for the full amount and it phases out completely at $222,520. The IRS may make inflation adjustments for 2011 to this phase-out amount as well as to the maximum credit amount.
  3. You may be able to claim the credit even if the adoption does not become final. If you adopt a special needs child, you may qualify for the full amount of the adoption credit even if you paid few or no adoption-related expenses.
  4. Qualified adoption expenses are reasonable and necessary expenses directly related to the legal adoption of the child who is under 18 years old, or physically or mentally incapable of caring for himself or herself. These expenses may include adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees and travel expenses.
  5. To claim the credit, you must file a paper tax return and Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses, and you must attach documents supporting the adoption. Documents may include a final adoption decree, placement agreement from an authorized agency, court documents and the state’s determination for special needs children. You can still use IRS Free File to prepare your return, but it must be printed and mailed to the IRS, along with all required documentation. Failure to include required documents will delay your refund.
  6. The IRS is committed to processing adoption credit claims quickly, but it also must safeguard against improper claims by ensuring the standards for this important credit are met. If your return is selected for review, please keep in mind that it is necessary for the IRS to ensure the legal criteria are met before the credit can be paid. If you are owed a refund beyond the adoption credit, you will still receive that part of your refund while the review is being conducted.

For more information see the Adoption Benefits FAQ page available at www.irs.gov or the instructions to IRS Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses, which can be downloaded from the website or ordered by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Links:

YouTube Videos:

Adoption Credit: English | Spanish | ASL

Some Good News for Innocent Spouses

By Stacie Kitts, CPA

What is innocent spouse relief?

Basically, if your spouse cheated on your jointly filed tax return – and you didn’t know about it – you can apply for relief from the taxes, penalties and interest that resulted from the misreporting.

The prior rules applied a two year limit from the time the IRS first took collection actions for the innocent spouse to file for relief.  The two year limit is now removed.

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service  announced that it will extend help to more innocent spouses by eliminating the two-year time limit that now applies to certain relief requests.

“In recent months, it became clear to me that we need to make significant changes involving innocent spouse relief,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “This change is a dramatic step to improve our process to make it fairer for an important group of taxpayers. We know these are difficult situations for people to face, and today’s change will help innocent spouses victimized in the past, present and the future.”

The IRS launched a thorough review of the equitable relief provisions of the innocent spouse program earlier this year. Policy and program changes with respect to that review will become fully operational in the fall and additional guidance will be forthcoming. However, with respect to expanding the availability of equitable relief:

  • The IRS will no longer apply the two-year limit to new equitable relief requests or requests currently being considered by the agency.
  • A taxpayer whose equitable relief request was previously denied solely due to the two-year limit may reapply using IRS Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief, if the collection statute of limitations for the tax years involved has not expired. Taxpayers with cases currently in suspense will be automatically afforded the new rule and should not reapply.
  • The IRS will not apply the two-year limit in any pending litigation involving equitable relief, and where litigation is final, the agency will suspend collection action under certain circumstances.

The change to the two-year limit is effective immediately, and details are in Notice 2011-70, posted today on IRS.gov.

Existing regulations, adopted in 2002, require that innocent spouse requests seeking equitable relief be filed within two years after the IRS first takes collection action against the requesting spouse. The time limit, adopted after a public hearing and public comment, was designed to encourage prompt resolution while evidence remained available. The IRS plans to issue regulations formally removing this time limit.

By law, the two-year election period for seeking innocent spouse relief under the other provisions of section 6015 of the Internal Revenue Code, continues to apply. The normal refund statute of limitations also continues to apply to tax years covered by any innocent spouse request.

Available only to someone who files a joint return, innocent spouse relief is designed to help a taxpayer who did not know and did not have reason to know that his or her spouse understated or underpaid an income tax liability. Publication 971, Innocent Spouse Relief, has more information about the program.

Reminder To File Your Highway Use Tax Return by November 30

Katherman Kitts & Co. LLP

By Stacie Kitts, CPA

Earlier this year the IRS announced an extension for filing Highway Use Tax Returns.  Originally due on August 31, truckers now have until November 30 to file their return.  Just in case you forgot, here is another reminder.

Because the highway use tax is currently scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, 2011, this extension is designed to alleviate any confusion and possible multiple filings that could result if Congress reinstates or modifies the tax after that date. Under  temporary and proposed regulations filed today in the Federal Register, the Nov. 30  filing deadline for Form 2290, Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax Return, for the tax period that begins on July 1, 2011, applies to vehicles used during July, as well as those first used during August or September. Returns should not be filed and payments should not be made prior to Nov. 1.

To aid truckers applying for state vehicle registration on or before Nov. 30, the new regulations require states to accept as proof of payment the stamped Schedule 1 of the Form 2290 issued by the IRS for the prior tax year, ending on June 30, 2011.  Under federal law, state governments are required to receive proof of payment of the federal highway use tax as a condition of vehicle registration. Normally, after a taxpayer files the return and pays the tax, the Schedule 1 is stamped by the IRS and returned to filers for this purpose.  A state normally may accept a prior year’s stamped Schedule 1 as a substitute proof of payment only through Sept. 30.

For those acquiring and registering a new or used vehicle during the July-to-November period, the new regulations require a state to register the vehicle, without proof that the highway use tax was paid, if the person registering the vehicle presents a copy of the bill of sale or similar document showing that the owner purchased the vehicle within the previous 150 days.

In general, the highway use tax applies to trucks, truck tractors and buses with a gross taxable weight of 55,000 pounds or more. Ordinarily, vans, pick-ups and panel trucks are not taxable because they fall below the 55,000-pound threshold.

For trucks and other taxable vehicles in use during July, the Form 2290 and payment are, under normal circumstances, due on Aug. 31. The tax of up to $550 per vehicle is based on weight, and a variety of special rules apply to vehicles with minimal road use, logging or agricultural vehicles, vehicles transferred during the year and those first used on the road after July.

Last year, the IRS received about 650,000 Forms 2290 and highway use tax payments totaling $886 million.

Summer Camp and Taxes

By Stacie Kitts, CPA

Pampered Camper

This summer I had the privilege of being included in the first ever Pampered Camper Event sponsored by the Girl Scouts of Orange County.

This grown up girl event organized to raise money for the benefit of girls in Orange County included a catered gourmet meal, wine tasting, a massage, arts and crafts, horseback riding, rock climbing, archery, hiking, boating, swimming and climate controlled cabins.  Undoubtedly one of the greatest weekends ever!!!!!

Now that summer is over, I want to remind taxpayers to tell your tax preparer if you paid for the cost of day camp (sorry, overnight camp isn’t deductible) for your kids.   Below is some helpful information for parents who are working or looking for work and have children under 13.

Pampered Camper

Here are five facts the IRS wants you to know about a tax credit available for child care expenses. The Child and Dependent Care Credit is available for expenses incurred during the summer and throughout the rest of the year.

  1. The cost of day camp may count as an expense towards the child and dependent care credit. [check with your tax preparer – there are some nuances related to the type of camp]
  2. Expenses for overnight camps do not qualify.
  3. Whether your childcare provider is a sitter at your home or a daycare facility outside the home, you’ll get some tax benefit if you qualify for the credit.
  4. The credit can be up to 35 percent of your qualifying expenses, depending on your income.
  5. You may use up to $3,000 of the unreimbursed expenses paid in a year for one qualifying individual or $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals to figure the credit.

For more information check out IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses. This publication is available at www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Links:

IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses
YouTube Videos:

Summer Day Camp ExpensesEnglish  | Spanish | ASL

IRS Releases Specifications for Registered Tax Return Preparer Test – Doesn’t it just give you the chills?

Katherman Kitts & Co. LLP

Choose A Tax Preparer That Has a Clue

By Stacie Kitts, CPA

Here it is, what all un-registered (non CPA’s, attorneys, or enrolled agent) tax preparers have been waiting for.  The specs for the competency test  that will award those who pass the title of  “Registered Tax Return Preparer.”

Wowwee doesn’t it just give you the chills….

No – well maybe that’s because CPA’s and attorneys can sign tax returns even if they don’t have a single clue what they are doing.  They get to do this without passing a test (other than the initial licensing exam which he/she could have taken a hundred years ago – so not even relevant today) or taking a single hour of tax related continuing professional education.  You know, training that would keep you up to speed on the actual tax laws that apply to tax return preparation.

So what do you think the odds are that  many of these licensed “professionals” would have a difficult time passing the new competency test?

Ya, scary jacked up regulation that leaves out a large number of people who are trusted to prepare your tax return.

Fixing the mistakes of these so called professionals is a large part of my practice.  I guess I should be grateful instead of loosing my mind over the absurdity of it all.

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today released the specifications for the competency test individuals must pass to become a Registered Tax Return Preparer.

The test is part of an ongoing effort by the IRS to enhance oversight of the tax preparation industry. Preparers who pass this test, a background check and tax compliance check as well as complete 15 hours of continuing education annually will have a new designation: Registered Tax Return Preparer.

The specifications identify the major topics that will be covered by the test, which will be available starting this fall. Although individuals who already have a provisional preparer tax identification number (PTIN) from the IRS do not have to pass the exam until Dec. 31, 2013, they may take the exam at any time once it is available.

The test will have approximately 120 questions in a combination of multiple choice and true or false format. Questions will be weighted and individuals will receive a pass or fail score, with diagnostic feedback provided to those who fail.

Test vendor Prometric Inc. worked with the IRS and the tax preparer community to develop the test. The time limit for the test is expected to be between two and three hours. The test must be taken at one of the roughly 260 Prometric facilities nationwide.

To assist in test preparation, the following is a list of recommended study materials. This list is not all-encompassing, but a highlight of what the test candidates will need to know.

Some reference materials will be available to individuals when they are taking the test. Prometric will provide individuals with Publication 17, Form 1040 and Form 1040 instructions as reference materials.

The fee for the test has not been finalized but is expected to be between $100 and $125, which is separate from the PTIN user fee. Currently there is no limit on the number of times preparers can take the test, but they must pay the fee each time. Individuals must pass the test only once.

Only certain individuals who prepare the Form 1040 series are required to take the test. Attorneys, Certified Public Accountants and Enrolled Agents (EAs) are exempt from testing and continuing education because of their more stringent professional testing and education requirements. Also exempt are supervised employees of attorneys, CPAs, attorneys or EAs who prepare but do not sign and are not required to sign the Form 1040 series returns they prepare and individuals who prepare federal returns other than the Form 1040 series.

Approximately 730,000 return preparers have registered and received PTINs in 2011. Approximately 62 percent do not have professional credentials. The IRS does not yet know how many preparers will fall into other exempt categories, but those individuals will be required to identify themselves when they renew an existing PTIN or obtain a new PTIN beginning in October 2011.

The IRS will notify those preparers who have a testing requirement and provide more details. Once the test is available, preparers who have on-line accounts can use their accounts to schedule a test time and select a Prometric site.

At the time the current version of Publication 17 went to press, there were certain tax benefits that had not been finalized and several tax benefits were subsequently extended. See Legislative Changes Affecting the 2010 Publication 17 on IRS.gov for the details needed for study purposes.

Do You Have A Family Member Serving In The Military? Here Are Some Special Tax Considerations

Tax Tips For the Military Katherman Kitts & Co. LLP

Tax Tips For the Military Katherman Kitts & Co. LLP

Stacie Clifford Kitts CPA is a tax partner at Katherman Kitts & Co. LLP

Military personnel have some unique duties, expenses and transitions. Some special tax benefits may apply when moving to a new base, traveling to a duty station, returning from active duty and more. These tips may put military members a bit “at ease” when it comes to their taxes.

  1. Moving Expenses If you are a member of the Armed Forces on active duty and you move because of a permanent change of station, you can deduct the reasonable unreimbursed expenses of moving you and members of your household.
  2. Combat Pay If you serve in a combat zone as an enlisted person or as a warrant officer for any part of a month, all your military pay received for military service that month is not taxable. For officers, the monthly exclusion is capped at the highest enlisted pay, plus any hostile fire or imminent danger pay received.
  3. Extension of Deadlines The time for taking care of certain tax matters can be postponed. The deadline for filing tax returns, paying taxes, filing claims for refund, and taking other actions with the IRS is automatically extended for qualifying members of the military.
  4. Uniform Cost and Upkeep If military regulations prohibit you from wearing certain uniforms when off duty, you can deduct the cost and upkeep of those uniforms, but you must reduce your expenses by any allowance or reimbursement you receive.
  5. Joint Returns Generally, joint returns must be signed by both spouses. However, when one spouse may not be available due to military duty, a power of attorney may be used to file a joint return.
  6. Travel to Reserve Duty If you are a member of the US Armed Forces Reserves, you can deduct unreimbursed travel expenses for traveling more than 100 miles away from home to perform your reserve duties.
  7. ROTC Students Subsistence allowances paid to ROTC students participating in advanced training are not taxable. However, active duty pay – such as pay received during summer advanced camp – is taxable.
  8. Transitioning Back to Civilian Life You may be able to deduct some costs you incur while looking for a new job. Expenses may include travel, resume preparation fees, and outplacement agency fees. Moving expenses may be deductible if your move is closely related to the start of work at a new job location, and you meet certain tests.
  9. Tax Help Most military installations offer free tax filing and preparation assistance during the filing season.

Tax Information IRS Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide, summarizes many important military-related tax topics. Publication 3 can be downloaded from www.irs.gov or may be ordered by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Links:

YouTube Videos:

Military Tax Tips: English | SpanishASL

Have You Been a Bad Bad Taxpayer? No Worries California is Willing to Give You a Break

Even if you have been a bad taxpayer, California is willing to give you a break.

Voluntary Compliance Initiative 2 (VCI 2) is an opportunity for taxpayers who underreported their California income tax liabilities, through the use of abusive tax avoidance transactions (ATAT) or offshore financial arrangements (OFA), to amend their returns for 2010 and prior tax years and obtain a waiver of most penalties.

Filing period: August 1, 2011 to October 31, 2011

Applicable tax years: 2010 and prior

Eligibility

You are eligible to participate in VCI 2 if you (or one of your related entities):

  • Filed a tax return that underreported your income or tax liability through the use of an ATAT or OFA.

You are eligible even if you:

  • Are currently under FTB examination for an ATAT or OFA.
  • Are currently under administrative protest or appeal for an ATAT or OFA.
  • Participated in the IRS’s Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative.

Participation

You must take the following steps to participate:

  1. File a completed Participation Agreement form with us between August 1, 2011 and October 31, 2011.
  2. Attach the form to your amended return to report all income from all sources, without regard to the ATAT and including all income from the OFA.
  3. Pay all tax and interest by October 31, 2011. See payment options for more information.

Benefits

Participation in VCI 2 will allow you to avoid:

  • The cost of litigation.
  • Certain penalties and the associated interest.
  • Criminal prosecution.

Penalties

You can avoid the following penalties under VCI 2:

  • Noneconomic Substance Transaction Understatement Penalty
  • Accuracy Related Penalty
  • Interest Based Penalty
  • Fraud Penalty

If you are eligible but do not participate, you will be subject to the full range of penalties and interest, and may be subject to criminal prosecution.

The Large Corporate Understatement Penalty (LCUP) and the Amnesty Penalty cannot be waived under this initiative.

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