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When you file a tax return, you usually have a choice to make: whether to itemize deductions or take the standard deduction. You should compare both methods and use the one that gives you the greater tax benefit.
The IRS offers these six facts to help you choose.
1. Figure your itemized deductions. Add up the cost of items you paid for during the year that you might be able to deduct. Expenses could include home mortgage interest, state income taxes or sales taxes (but not both), real estate and personal property taxes, and gifts to charities. They may also include large casualty or theft losses or large medical and dental expenses that insurance did not cover. Unreimbursed employee business expenses may also be deductible.
2. Know your standard deduction. If you do not itemize, your basic standard deduction amount depends on your filing status. For 2012, the basic amounts are:
• Single = $5,950
• Married Filing Jointly = $11,900
• Head of Household = $8,700
• Married Filing Separately = $5,950
• Qualifying Widow(er) = $11,900
3. Apply other rules in some cases. Your standard deduction is higher if you are 65 or older or blind. Other rules apply if someone else can claim you as a dependent on his or her tax return. To figure your standard deduction in these cases, use the worksheet in the instructions for Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
4. Check for the exceptions. Some people do not qualify for the standard deduction and should itemize. This includes married people who file a separate return and their spouse itemizes deductions. See the Form 1040 instructions for the rules about who may not claim a standard deduction.
5. Choose the best method. Compare your itemized and standard deduction amounts. You should file using the method with the larger amount.
6. File the right forms. To itemize your deductions, use Form 1040, and Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. You can take the standard deduction on Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ.
For more information about allowable deductions, see Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, and the instructions for Schedule A. Tax forms and publications are available on the IRS website at IRS.gov You may also call 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) to order them by mail.
Additional IRS Resources:
- Interactive Tax Assistant tool – How Much is My Standard Deduction?
- Schedule A (Form 1040), Itemized Deductions and instructions
- Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return and instructions
- Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax
If you use part of your home for your business, you may qualify to deduct expenses for the business use of your home. Here are six facts from the IRS to help you determine if you qualify for the home office deduction.
1. Generally, in order to claim a deduction for a home office, you must use a part of your home exclusively and regularly for business purposes. In addition, the part of your home that you use for business purposes must also be:
• your principal place of business, or
• a place where you meet with patients, clients or customers in the normal course of your business, or
• a separate structure not attached to your home. Examples might include a studio, workshop, garage or barn. In this case, the structure does not have to be your principal place of business or a place where you meet patients, clients or customers.
2. You do not have to meet the exclusive use test if you use part of your home to store inventory or product samples. The exclusive use test also does not apply if you use part of your home as a daycare facility.
3. The home office deduction may include part of certain costs that you paid for having a home. For example, a part of the rent or allowable mortgage interest, real estate taxes and utilities could qualify. The amount you can deduct usually depends on the percentage of the home used for business.
4. The deduction for some expenses is limited if your gross income from the business use of your home is less than your total business expenses.
5. If you are self-employed, use Form 8829, Expenses for Business Use of Your Home, to figure the amount you can deduct. Report your deduction on Schedule C, Profit or Loss From Business.
6. If you are an employee, you must meet additional rules to claim the deduction. For example, in addition to the above tests, your business use must also be for your employer’s convenience.
For more information, see Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home. It’s available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Additional IRS Resources:
- Form 8829, Expenses for Business Use of Your Home
- Schedule C, Profit or Loss From Business
- Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home
- A Home-Office Tax Deduction Refresher (businessweek.com)
- When Work at Home Yields Tax Deductions (forbes.com)
- How to Determine Your Home Office Qualifies for a Tax Deduction (business2community.com)
Here is a reminder about the W2 reporting requirements attached to the Affordable Care Act and employer sponsored group health plans.
Many small employers that pay at least half of the premiums for employee health insurance coverage under a qualifying arrangement may be eligible for the small business health care tax credit. This credit can enable small businesses and small tax-exempt organizations to offer health insurance coverage for the first time. It also helps those already offering health insurance coverage to maintain the coverage they already have. The credit is specifically targeted to help small businesses and tax-exempt organizations that primarily employ 25 or fewer workers with average income of $50,000 or less.
Here is what small employers need to know so they don’t miss out on the credit for tax year 2010:
- Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and other recent disaster-related tax relief postponed certain tax filing and payment deadlines to Oct. 31, 2011. Qualifying businesses affected by these natural disasters still have time to file and claim the small employer health care credit on Form 8941 and claim it as part of the general business credit on Form 3800, which they would include with their tax return. For more information on the disaster relief visit IRS.gov.
- Sole proprietors who file Form 1040, Partners and S-corporation shareholders who report their income on Form 1040 and had requested an extension have until Oct. 17 to complete their returns. They would also use Form 8941 to calculate the small employer health care credit and claim it as a general business credit on Form 3800, reflected on line 53 of Form 1040.
- Tax-exempt organizations that file on a calendar year basis and requested an extension to file to Nov. 15 can use Form 8941 and then claim the credit on Form 990-T, Line 44f.
- Businesses who have already filed can still claim the credit. For small businesses that have already filed and later determine they are eligible for the credit, they can always file an amended 2010 tax return. Corporations use Form 1120X and individual sole proprietors use Form 1040X.
- Businesses that couldn’t use the credit in 2010 may be eligible to claim it in future years. Some businesses that already locked into health insurance plan structures and contributions for 2010 may not have had the opportunity to make any needed adjustments to qualify for the credit for 2010. So these businesses may be eligible to claim the credit on 2011 returns or in years beyond. Small employers can claim the credit for 2010 through 2013 and for two additional years beginning in 2014.
For tax years 2010 to 2013, the maximum credit for eligible small business employers is 35 percent of premiums paid and for eligible tax-exempt employers the maximum credit is 25 percent of premiums paid. Beginning in 2014, the maximum tax credit will go up to 50 percent of premiums paid by eligible small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid by eligible tax-exempt organizations.
Additional information about eligibility requirements and calculating the credit can be found on the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit for Small Employers page of IRS.gov.
- Form 8941, Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums (PDF)
- Form 3800, General Business Credit (PDF)
- Small Business Health Care Tax Credit for Small Employers
By Stacie Kitts, CPA
Unbelievably, there are people who never bother to check up on their tax refunds. Really.
If you move be sure to complete a change of address Form 8822 and check out this info from the IRS
Some people earn income and may have taxes withheld from their wages but are not required to file a tax return because they have too little income. In this case, you can claim a refund for the tax that was withheld from your pay. Other workers may not have had any tax withheld but would be eligible for the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit, but must file a return to claim it.
- To collect this money a return must be filed with the IRS no later than three years from the due date of the return.
- If no return is filed to claim the refund within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury.
- There is no penalty assessed by the IRS for filing a late return qualifying for a refund.
- Current and prior year tax forms and instructions are available on the Forms and Publications page of www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
- Information about the Earned Income Tax Credit and how to claim it is also available on www.irs.gov.
Were you expecting a refund check but didn’t get it?
- Refund checks are mailed to your last known address. Checks are returned to the IRS if you move without notifying the IRS or the U.S. Postal Service.
- You may be able to update your address with the IRS on the “Where’s My Refund?” feature available on IRS.gov. You will be prompted to provide an updated address if there is an undeliverable check outstanding within the last 12 months.
- You can also ensure the IRS has your correct address by filing Form 8822, Change of Address, which is available on www.irs.gov or can be ordered by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
- If you do not have access to the Internet and think you may be missing a refund, you should first check your records or contact your tax preparer. If your refund information appears correct, call the IRS toll-free assistance line at 800-829-1040 to check the status of your refund and confirm your address.
Stacie Kitts, CPA is a partner at Katherman Kitts & Co. LLP
On occasion I run across a taxpayer who “helped” out a family or a friend and wants to deduct the money given as a charitable contribution. They are always shocked to find out that helping your neighbor isn’t tax deductible unless its through a charitable organization.
Charity is good, but if you want to deduct it, be sure to check out the items below.
If you make a donation to a charity this year, you may be able to take a deduction for it on your 2011 tax return. Here are the top nine things the IRS wants every taxpayer to know before deducting charitable donations.
- Make sure the organization qualifies Charitable contributions must be made to qualified organizations to be deductible. You can ask any organization whether it is a qualified organization or check IRS Publication 78, Cumulative List of Organizations. It is available at www.IRS.gov.
- You must itemize Charitable contributions are deductible only if you itemize deductions using Form 1040, Schedule A.
- What you can deduct You generally can deduct your cash contributions and the fair market value of most property you donate to a qualified organization. Special rules apply to several types of donated property, including clothing or household items, cars and boats.
- When you receive something in return If your contribution entitles you to receive merchandise, goods, or services in return – such as admission to a charity banquet or sporting event – you can deduct only the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit received.
- Recordkeeping Keep good records of any contribution you make, regardless of the amount. For any cash contribution, you must maintain a record of the contribution, such as a cancelled check, bank or credit card statement, payroll deduction record or a written statement from the charity containing the date and amount of the contribution and the name of the organization.
- Pledges and payments Only contributions actually made during the tax year are deductible. For example, if you pledged $500 in September but paid the charity only $200 by Dec. 31, you can only deduct $200.
- Donations made near the end of the year Include credit card charges and payments by check in the year you give them to the charity, even though you may not pay the credit card bill or have your bank account debited until the next year.
- Large donations For any contribution of $250 or more, you need more than a bank record. You must have a written acknowledgment from the organization. It must include the amount of cash and say whether the organization provided any goods or services in exchange for the gift. If you donated property, the acknowledgment must include a description of the items and a good faith estimate of its value. For items valued at $500 or more you must complete a Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, and attach the form to your return. If you claim a deduction for a contribution of noncash property worth more than $5,000, you generally must obtain an appraisal and complete Section B of Form 8283 with your return.
- Tax Exemption Revoked Approximately 275,000 organizations automatically lost their tax-exempt status recently because they did not file required annual reports for three consecutive years, as required by law. Donations made prior to an organization’s automatic revocation remain tax-deductible. Going forward, however, organizations that are on the auto-revocation list that do not receive reinstatement are no longer eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions.
For the list of organizations whose tax-exempt status was revoked, visit www.IRS.gov. For general information see IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, and for information on determining value, refer to Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property. These publications are available at www.IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
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:
- 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.
- 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]
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Other forms or schedules If the changes involve other schedules or forms, attach them to the Form 1040X.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Processing time Normal processing time for amended returns is 8 to 12 weeks.
IRS Releases Specifications for Registered Tax Return Preparer Test – Doesn’t it just give you the chills?
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.
- Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax
- Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
- Form 1040 Instructions
- Circular 230, Regulations Governing Practice before the Internal Revenue Service (rev. 8/2/11)
- Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business
- Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education
- Publication 1345, Handbook for Authorized IRS e-file Providers
- Form 6251, Alternative Minimum Tax – Individuals
- Form 6251 Instructions
- Form 8879, IRS e-File Signature Authorization
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.
If you want to tell the IRS exactly what you think the content of the competency exam should be, now is the time. Notice 2011-48 invites comments.
Notice 2011-48 invites public comments on the content and administration of the registered tax return preparer competency examination (competency examination). The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have published final regulations (TD 9527, 76 FR 32286) under 31 CFR Part 10 that require certain individuals to pass a competency examination to become a registered tax return preparer. The IRS has selected a vendor to support the IRS in developing and administering the competency examination for the Form 1040 series tax returns and accompanying schedules.
Notice 2011-48 will be published in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2011-26 on June 27, 2011.
Another Dreaded IRS Reporting Requirement Gets Interim Guidance Today. Health Coverage Reporting Requirement on Form W2
By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA
Well here it is, guidance on more reporting requirements. If you are an employer providing health insurance coverage for your employees, Good For You. And….. now the IRS wants to track it. So add this to the long list of other reporting requirements dear business owners. If you file 250 or more W2’s, starting in 2012 you will need to report employee health insurance premiums on Form w2. Employers with less than 250 W2’s are exempt until further notice. I guess there is always a small sliver of a silver lining.
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued interim guidance to employers on informational reporting on each employee’s annual Form W-2 of the cost of the health insurance coverage they sponsor for employees. The IRS is also requesting comments on this interim guidance. The IRS emphasized that this new reporting to employees is for their information only, to inform them of the cost of their health coverage, and does not cause excludable employer-provided health coverage to become taxable; employer-provided health coverage continues to be excludable from an employee’s income, and is not taxable.
The Affordable Care Act provides that employers are required to report the cost of employer-provided health care coverage on the Form W-2. Notice 2010-69, issued last fall, made this requirement optional for all employers for the 2011 Forms W-2 (generally furnished to employees in January 2012). In today’s guidance, the IRS provided further relief for smaller employers (those filing fewer than 250 W-2 forms) by making this requirement optional for them at least for 2012 (i.e., for 2012 Forms W-2 that generally would be furnished to employees in January 2013) and continuing this optional treatment for smaller employers until further guidance is issued.
Using a question-and-answer format, Notice 2011-28 also provides guidance for employers that are subject to this requirement for the 2012 Forms W-2 and those that choose to voluntarily comply with it for either 2011 or 2012. The notice includes information on how to report, what coverage to include and how to determine the cost of the coverage.
I think the stats presented below provide interesting insight into my blog, so I thought – what – the – heck – why not share.
so let’s see – 25,000 visitors (like I said see below) may seem like a drop in the bucket to tax bloggers the likes of the Tax Prof, but you know what – I am absolutely thrilled! I have 117 Facebook fan’s and a whole bunch of subscribers. I am turning cartwheels (well in my head) at this very moment.
Other exciting things have happened this last year as well (which unfortunately have affected my ability to post as much as I would like – but you can’t have everything :-)).
I have a new partnership, Katherman Kitts & Co. LLP – the offices are located in a high-rise across from the Irvine Spectrum (a huge shopping center) – so the fact that I have moved my stay home tax practice to an actual office doesn’t suck!
I am having the time of my life finding just the right staff and of course decorating the office space.
How do you know when you have finally “made” it? Well, my litmus test – the flat screen tv and lovely sofa enhancing the awesome view from my corner office. *heavy sigh*
I truly wish the same level of success and happiness for all my family, friends, clients and loyal readers this coming year.
Now I think this calls for a Snoopy Dance, care to join me?
The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how my blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:
The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.
This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2010.
In 2010, there were 181 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 464 posts.
The busiest day of the year was December 9th with 709 views. The most popular post that day was Watch Out Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act is A Federal Provision. Does Your State Comply?.
Where did they come from?
The top referring sites in 2010 were tax-debtrelief.com , facebook.com, Google Reader, and search.aol.com.
Some visitors came searching, mostly for 990 instructions, form 990 instructions, form 8941, debt forgiveness act, and mortgage debt forgiveness act.
Attractions in 2010
These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.
About Stacie’s More Tax Tips December 2009
Seven Things Your Accountant Should Have Told You – a Good Post From the Past January 2010
- IRS Presents:Ten Things Tax-Exempt Organizations Need to Know About the Oct. 15 Due Date (This is a how to on keeping your exempt status) (staciesmoretaxtips.wordpress.com)
- IRS Patrol: IRS Provides Help For Small Employers Eligible to Claim the Small Business Health Tax Credit for the 2010 Tax Year. (staciesmoretaxtips.wordpress.com)
- Ping Your Way To a Successful Social Marketing Strategy – It’s A Whole Lot Better Than Being an A-Hole (staciesmoretaxtips.wordpress.com)
- IRS Patrol: New Form 8941 -IRS Releases Form to Help Small Businesses Claim New Health Care Tax Credit (staciesmoretaxtips.wordpress.com)
- Happily Trudging Along Enjoying My New Adventure – Katherman Kitts & Co. LLP (staciesmoretaxtips.wordpress.com)
- Some Tax Payers Will Need to File Their 1040 Later Rather Than Sooner This Coming Filing Season (staciesmoretaxtips.wordpress.com)
By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA
Heads up for all taxpayers eager to file your 2010 tax return. The IRS has announced that last weeks changes in the tax law ie the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010, extended three provisions that will need to be reprogrammed in the IRS’s processing system. This means that the IRS will not be ready to process some individual returns Form 1040 until mid to late February 2011.
Who is affected:
- People who itemize deductions on Schedule A
- People who claim sales tax deduction, higher education deduction, educator expense deduction
Read on for more detailed information regarding your 2011 tax return filing:
WASHINGTON — Following last week’s tax law changes, the Internal Revenue Service announced today the upcoming tax season will start on time for most people, but taxpayers affected by three recently reinstated deductions need to wait until mid- to late February to file their individual tax returns. In addition, taxpayers who itemize deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A will need to wait until mid- to late February to file as well.
The start of the 2011 filing season will begin in January for the majority of taxpayers. However, last week’s changes in the law mean that the IRS will need to reprogram its processing systems for three provisions that were extended in the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 that became law on Dec. 17.
People claiming any of these three items — involving the state and local sales tax deduction, higher education tuition and fees deduction and educator expenses deduction as well as those taxpayers who itemize deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A — will need to wait to file their tax returns until tax processing systems are ready, which the IRS estimates will be in mid- to late February.
“The majority of taxpayers will be able to fill out their tax returns and file them as they normally do,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We will do everything we can to minimize the impact of recent tax law changes on other taxpayers. The IRS will work through the holidays and into the New Year to get our systems reprogrammed and ensure taxpayers have a smooth tax season.”
The IRS will announce a specific date in the near future when it can start processing tax returns impacted by the late tax law changes. In the interim, people in the affected categories can start working on their tax returns, but they should not submit their returns until IRS systems are ready to process the new tax law changes.
The IRS urged taxpayers to use e-file instead of paper tax forms to minimize confusion over the recent tax changes and ensure accurate tax returns.
Taxpayers will need to wait to file if they are within any of the following three categories:
- Taxpayers claiming itemized deductions on Schedule A. Itemized deductions include mortgage interest, charitable deductions, medical and dental expenses as well as state and local taxes. In addition, itemized deductions include the state and local general sales tax deduction extended in the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 enacted Dec. 17, which primarily benefits people living in areas without state and local income taxes and is claimed on Schedule A, Line 5. Because of late Congressional action to enact tax law changes, anyone who itemizes and files a Schedule A will need to wait to file until mid- to late February.
- Taxpayers claiming the Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction. This deduction for parents and students — covering up to $4,000 of tuition and fees paid to a post-secondary institution — is claimed on Form 8917. However, the IRS emphasized that there will be no delays for millions of parents and students who claim other education credits, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit.
- Taxpayers claiming the Educator Expense Deduction. This deduction is for kindergarten through grade 12 educators with out-of-pocket classroom expenses of up to $250. The educator expense deduction is claimed on Form 1040, Line 23, and Form 1040A, Line 16.
For those falling into any of these three categories, the delay affects both paper filers and electronic filers.
The IRS emphasized that e-file is the fastest, best way for those affected by the delay to get their refunds. Those who use tax-preparation software can easily download updates from their software provider. The IRS Free File program also will be updated.
As part of this effort, the IRS will be working closely with the tax software industry and tax professional community to minimize delays and ensure a smooth tax season.
Updated information will be posted on IRS.gov. This will include an updated copy of Schedule A as well as updated state and local sales tax tables. Several other forms used by relatively few taxpayers are also affected by the recent changes, and more details are available on IRS.gov.
In addition, the IRS reminds employers about the new withholding tables released Friday for 2011. Employers should implement the 2011 withholding tables as soon as possible, but not later than Jan. 31, 2011. The IRS also reminds employers that Publication 15, (Circular E), Employer’s Tax Guide, containing the extensive wage bracket tables that some employers use, will be available on IRS.gov before year’s end.
Related Item: Forms Affected By the Extender Provisions
IRS Patrol: IRS Provides Help For Small Employers Eligible to Claim the Small Business Health Tax Credit for the 2010 Tax Year.
Help is always nice to get – specially with all the new tax rules out there – and more on the way. I can hardly keep them all straight. If you are wondering if you qualify for this credit read on.
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today released final guidance for small employers eligible to claim the new small business health care tax credit for the 2010 tax year. Today’s release includes a one-page form and instructions small employers will use to claim the credit for the 2010 tax year.
New Form 8941, Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums, and newly revised Form 990-T are now available on IRS.gov. The IRS also posted on its website the instructions to Form 8941 and Notice 2010-82 , both of which are designed to help small employers correctly figure and claim the credit.
Included in the Affordable Care Act enacted in March, the small business health care tax credit is designed to encourage both small businesses and small tax-exempt organizations to offer health insurance coverage to their employees for the first time or maintain coverage they already have.
The new guidance addresses small business questions about which firms qualify for the credit by clarifying that a broad range of employers meet the eligibility requirements, including religious institutions that provide coverage through denominational organizations, small employers that cover their workers through insured multiemployer health and welfare plans, and employers that subsidize their employees’ health care costs through a broad range of contribution arrangements.
In general, the credit is available to small employers that pay at least half of the premiums for single health insurance coverage for their employees. It is specifically targeted to help small businesses and tax-exempt organizations that primarily employ moderate- and lower-income workers.
Small businesses can claim the credit for 2010 through 2013 and for any two years after that. For tax years 2010 to 2013, the maximum credit is 35 percent of premiums paid by eligible small businesses and 25 percent of premiums paid by eligible tax-exempt organizations. Beginning in 2014, the maximum tax credit will increase to 50 percent of premiums paid by eligible small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid by eligible tax-exempt organizations.
The maximum credit goes to smaller employers –– those with 10 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees –– paying annual average wages of $25,000 or less. The credit is completely phased out for employers that have 25 or more FTEs or that pay average wages of $50,000 or more per year. Because the eligibility rules are based in part on the number of FTEs, not the number of employees, employers that use part-time workers may qualify even if they employ more than 25 individuals.
Eligible small businesses will first use Form 8941 to figure the credit and then include the amount of the credit as part of the general business credit on its income tax return.
Tax-exempt organizations will first use Form 8941 to figure their refundable credit, and then claim the credit on Line 44f of Form 990-T. Though primarily filed by those organizations liable for the tax on unrelated business income, Form 990-T will also be used by any eligible tax-exempt organization to claim the credit, regardless of whether they are subject to this tax.
- Health Care Tax Credits for Small Businesses Nationwide (whitehouse.gov)
- How Tax Laws Impact a Sole Proprietorship Business (thinkup.waldenu.edu)
- 10 Tax Tips for the Suddenly Unemployed (turbotax.intuit.com)
- Attention Small Employers: New Small Business Health Care Tax Credit Can Help Cut Health Care Costs (eon.businesswire.com)
- How Tax Laws Impact a Sole Proprietorship Business (thinkup.waldenu.edu)
- New report: Employer health insurance premiums increased 41 percent from 2003 to 2009 (eurekalert.org)
- New Report: Affordable Care Act Could Save Families Over $3,000 Per Year (whitehouse.gov)