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Who Should File a 2012 Tax Return?

If you received income during 2012, you may need to file a tax return in 2013. The amount of your income, your filing status, your age and the type of income you received will determine whether you’re required to file. Even if you are not required to file a tax return, you may still want to file. You may get a refund if you’ve had too much federal income tax withheld from your pay or qualify for certain tax credits.

You can find income tax filing requirements on IRS.gov. The instructions for Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ also list filing requirements. The Interactive Tax Assistant tool, also available on the IRS website, is another helpful resource. The ITA tool answers many of your tax law questions including whether you need to file a return.

Even if you’ve determined that you don’t need to file a tax return this year, you may still want to file. Here are five reasons why:

1. Federal Income Tax Withheld. If your employer withheld federal income tax from your pay, if you made estimated tax payments, or if you had a prior year overpayment applied to this year’s tax, you could be due a refund. File a return to claim any excess tax you paid during the year.

2. Earned Income Tax Credit. If you worked but earned less than $50,270 last year, you may qualify for EITC. EITC is a refundable tax credit; which means if you qualify you could receive EITC as a tax refund. Families with qualifying children may qualify to get up to $5,891 dollars. You can’t get the credit unless you file a return and claim it. Use the EITC Assistant to find out if you qualify.

3. Additional Child Tax Credit. If you have at least one qualifying child and you don’t get the full amount of the Child Tax Credit, you may qualify for this additional refundable credit. You must file and use new Schedule 8812, Child Tax Credit, to claim the credit.

4. American Opportunity Credit. If you or someone you support is a student, you might be eligible for this credit. Students in their first four years of postsecondary education may qualify for as much as $2,500 through this partially refundable credit. Even those who owe no tax can get up to $1,000 of the credit as cash back for each eligible student. You must file Form 8863, Education Credits, and submit it with your tax return to claim the credit.

5. Health Coverage Tax Credit. If you’re receiving Trade Adjustment Assistance, Trade Adjustment Assistance, Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance or pension benefit payments from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, you may be eligible for a 2012 Health Coverage Tax Credit. Spouses and dependents may also be eligible. If you’re eligible, you can receive a 72.5 percent tax credit on payments you made for qualified health insurance premiums.
Want more information about filing requirements and tax credits? Visit IRS.gov.

Additional IRS Resources:
• Interactive Tax Assistant
• EITC Assistant
• Publication 596, Earned Income Credit
• Schedule 8812, Child Tax Credit
• Publication 972, Child Tax Credit
• Form 8863, Education Credits
• Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education
• Health Coverage Tax Credit
IRS YouTube Videos:
• Do I Have To File a Tax Return? – English | Spanish | ASL
• Education Tax Credits and Deductions – English | Spanish | ASL
IRS Podcasts:
• Education Tax Credits and Deductions – English | Spanish

Electronic Health Records Incentive Payments

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) authorizes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to make incentive payments to eligible professionals and hospitals that adopt, implement, upgrade or demonstrate “meaningful use” of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to improve patient care. The funds for these incentive payments may be administered through the state’s Medicaid agency or directly from CMS via a Medicare contractor.

If the state agency or CMS makes incentive payments of $600 or more to an eligible professional or hospital, they are responsible for reporting such payments to the recipients on a Form 1099-MISC by January 31 of the next year. Therefore, if a state agency or CMS made payments of $600 or more in 2012, they should issue Form 1099-MISC to the recipients by January 31, 2013.
Professionals and hospitals should not consider EHR incentive payments to be reimbursements of expenses incurred in establishing an EHR system; instead, the recipient of the payments should consider the payments to be includible in gross income.

An eligible provider receiving an EHR incentive payment may be required to give the payment to the provider’s practice or group and not be allowed to keep it. In this situation, the eligible provider is not required to include the payment in gross income if the provider (1) is receiving the payment as an agent or conduit of the practice or group, and (2) turns the payment over to the practice or group as required. The state agency or CMS should send the Form 1099-MISC to the provider regardless of whether the funds are assigned or transferred to the provider’s practice group, or retained by the provider. The eligible provider, not the state agency or CMS, would bear the information reporting obligation, if any, for payments made to the provider’s practice group.

IRS To Accept Returns Claiming Education Credits by Mid-February

WASHINGTON – As preparations continue for the Jan. 30 opening of the 2013 filing season for most taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service announced today that processing of tax returns claiming education credits will begin by the middle of February.

Taxpayers using Form 8863, Education Credits, can begin filing their tax returns after the IRS updates its processing systems. Form 8863 is used to claim two higher education credits — the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.

The IRS emphasized that the delayed start will have no impact on taxpayers claiming other education-related tax benefits, such as the tuition and fees deduction and the student loan interest deduction. People otherwise able to file and claiming these benefits can start filing Jan. 30.
As it does every year, the IRS reviews and tests its systems in advance of the opening of the tax season to protect taxpayers from processing errors and refund delays. The IRS discovered during testing that programming modifications are needed to accurately process Forms 8863. Filers who are otherwise able to file but use the Form 8863 will be able to file by mid-February. No action needs to be taken by the taxpayer or their tax professional. Typically through the mid-February period, about 3 million tax returns include Form 8863, less than a quarter of those filed during the year.

The IRS remains on track to open the tax season on Jan. 30 for most taxpayers. The Jan. 30 opening includes people claiming the student loan interest deduction on the Form 1040 series or the higher education tuition or fees on Form 8917, Tuition and Fees Deduction. Forms that will be able to be filed later are listed on IRS.gov.

Proposition 30 California Tax Increase –Tax Penalty Waiver.

The Franchise Tax Board has announced that taxpayers affected by the retroactive personal income tax increase (Proposition 30), may pay the amount due with their 2012 tax return.   Taxpayers subject to underpayment of estimated tax penalties may request relief by completing Form 5808 Underpayment of Estimated Taxes by Individual and Fiduciaries and completing Part 1, question 1 with the explanation that the underpayment is due to Proposition 30.

AMERICAN TAXPAYER RELIEF ACT-SUMMARY FOR KATHERMAN KITTS CLIENTS READING PLEASURE

Yesterday, the President signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which was passed on New Year’s Day. Here is brief summary of selected portions of it, for your review. We can help answer any questions that you may have.

Individual Tax Rates
The Act preserves and permanently extends the Bush-era income tax cuts except for single individuals with taxable income above $400,000; married couples filing joint returns with taxable income above $450,000; and heads of household with taxable income above $425,000. Income above these thresholds will be taxed at a 39.6 percent rate, effective January 1, 2013. The $400,000/$450,000/$425,000 thresholds will be adjusted for inflation after 2013.
The new law, however, does not extend the payroll tax holiday. Effective January 1, 2013, the employee-share of Social Security tax withholding increased from 4.2% to 6.2% (its rate before the payroll tax holiday).

Capital Gains and Dividend Tax Rate
Effective January 1, 2013, the maximum tax rate on qualified capital gains and dividends rises from 15 to 20 percent for taxpayers whose taxable incomes exceed the thresholds set for the 39.6 percent rate (the $400,000/$450,000/$425,000 thresholds discussed above). The maximum tax rate for all other taxpayers remains at 15 percent; and moreover, a zero-percent rate will continue to apply to qualified capital gains and dividends to the extent income falls below the top of the 15- percent tax bracket. Note – The 2010 Affordable Care Act imposes a 3.8% Medicare tax on interest, dividends, capital gains, and other passive income, starting in 2013, and it applies at taxable income over $200,000 for single filers and over $250,000 for joint filers.

Estate and Gift Tax
Federal transfer taxes (estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer (GST) taxes) seem to have been in a constant state of flux in recent years. The Act provides some certainty. Effective January 1, 2013, the maximum estate, gift and GST tax rate is generally 40 percent, which reflects an increase from 35 percent for 2012. The lifetime exclusion amount for estate and gift taxes is unchanged for 2013 and subsequent years at $5 million (adjusted for inflation). The GST exemption amount for 2013 and beyond is also $5 million (adjusted for inflation). The new law also makes permanent portability and some enhancements made in previous tax laws.

Other Act Elements Affecting Individuals
• AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) – Higher exemptions are made permanent, and indexed for inflation
• IRA distributions to charitable organizations, (for those over age 70) – restored through 2013
• Exclusion for cancellation of debt on principal residence – extended through 2013
• Reduction of itemized deductions for incomes over certain levels, (which was not in place since 2010) – will apply starting in 2013

Business Tax Provisions
Code Sec. 179 business equipment expensing. In recent years, Congress has repeatedly increased dollar and investment limits under Code Sec. 179 to encourage spending by businesses. For tax years beginning in 2010 and 2011, the Code Sec. 179 dollar and investment limits were $500,000 and $2 million, respectively. [This means that you can expense up to $500,000 of equipment or software purchased, so long as you don’t spend more than $2 million in total. Expenditures over the $2 million level reduces the allowable expense amount dollar-for-dollar.] The Act restores the dollar and investment limits for 2012 and 2013 to their 2011 amounts ($500,000 and $2 million) and adjusts those amounts for inflation. However, this increase is temporary. The Code Sec. 179 dollar and investment limits are scheduled, unless changed by Congress, to decrease to $25,000 and $200,000, respectively, after 2013. The new law also provides that off-the-shelf computer software qualifies as eligible property for Code Sec. 179 expensing. The software must be placed in service in a tax year beginning before 2014. Additionally, the Act allows taxpayers to treat up to $250,000 of qualified leasehold and retail improvement property as well as qualified restaurant property, as eligible for Code Sec. 179 expensing.

Bonus depreciation. Bonus depreciation of business equipment is one of the most important tax benefits available to businesses, large or small. In recent years, bonus depreciation has reached 100 percent, which gave taxpayers the opportunity to write off 100 percent of qualifying asset purchases immediately. For 2012, bonus depreciation remained available but was reduced to 50 percent. The Act extends 50 percent bonus depreciation through 2013. The Act also provides that a taxpayer otherwise eligible for additional first-year depreciation may elect to claim additional research or minimum tax credits in lieu of claiming depreciation for qualified property.

While not quite as attractive as 100 percent bonus depreciation, 50 percent bonus depreciation is valuable. For example, a $100,000 piece of equipment with a five-year MACRS life would qualify for a $55,000 write-off: $50,000 in bonus depreciation plus 20 percent of the remaining $50,000 in basis as “regular” depreciation, with the half-year convention applied in the first and last year.

Bonus depreciation also relates to the passenger vehicle depreciation dollar limits under Code Sec. 280F. This provision imposes dollar limitations on the depreciation deduction for the year in which a taxpayer places a passenger automobile/truck in service within a business and for each succeeding year. Because of the new law, the first-year depreciation cap for passenger automobile/truck placed in service in 2013 is increased by $8,000.

Bonus depreciation, unlike Code Sec. 179 expensing, is not capped at a dollar threshold. However, only new property qualifies for bonus depreciation. Code Sec. 179 expensing, in contrast, can be claimed for both new and used property and qualifying property may be expensed at 100 percent.

Research Tax Credit. The research tax credit was restored for 2012 and extended through 2013.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

US Mismanages Monetary Assets and Natural Resources – Indian Tribes Win $1 Billion Settlement

Very interesting read – US Government and Indian Tribal Trust Cases – reprinted here Notice 2012-60

Per Capita Payments from Proceeds of Settlements of Indian Tribal Trust Cases

PURPOSE

This notice provides guidance concerning the federal income tax treatment of per capita payments that members of Indian tribes receive from proceeds of certain settlements of tribal trust cases between the United States and those Indian tribes.

BACKGROUND

The United States has entered into settlement agreements with the federally recognized Indian tribes listed in the Appendix to this notice, settling litigation in which the tribes allege that the Department of the Interior and the Department of the Treasury mismanaged monetary assets and natural resources the United States holds in trust for the benefit of the tribes (“Tribal Trust cases”). Upon receiving the settlement proceeds, the tribes will dismiss their claims with prejudice. See Press Release, U.S. Department of Justice, Attorney General Holder and Secretary Salazar Announce $1 Billion Settlement of Tribal Trust Accounting and Management Lawsuits Filed by More Than 40 Tribes (April 11, 2012) at http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/April/12-ag-460.html. The United States foresees the possibility of future substantially similar settlements of substantially similar claims brought by other federally recognized Indian tribes.

Most of the Indian tribes that have reached Tribal Trust case settlements with the United States have directed that the settlement proceeds be transferred to accounts at private banks or other third-party institutions, where the proceeds will be invested until the tribes use the funds for various purposes, which may include making per capita payments to their members. Other Indian tribes have directed that all or part of the settlement proceeds be paid into a trust account established or maintained by the Secretary of the Interior, through the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians, for the benefit of the tribes, until the tribes provide instructions for the disposition of the funds, which may include making per capita payments to their members.

Although agreeing to settlements, the United States admits no liability in the Tribal Trust case settlements and the government has no fiduciary responsibilities over the Tribal Trust case settlement proceeds that the tribes receive and that are deposited into accounts at private banks or other third-party institutions.

CONSULTATION

Several tribes and other affiliated organizations requested direct consultation on the income tax treatment of per capita payments from the Tribal Trust case settlements. In response to these requests and in the spirit of Executive Order 13175, direct consultation and communication occurred. These consultations and conversations were extremely useful in preparing this notice.

APPLICABLE PROVISIONS OF LAW

Section 61(a) of the Internal Revenue Code provides that, except as otherwise provided by law, gross income means all income from whatever source derived. Under § 61, Congress intends to tax all gains and undeniable accessions to wealth, clearly realized, over which taxpayers have complete dominion. Commissioner v. Glenshaw Glass Co., 348 U.S. 426 (1955), 1955-1 C.B. 207. Indians are citizens subject to the payment of income taxes. Squire v. Capoeman, 351 U.S. 1, 6 (1956), 1956-1 C.B. 605.

The Per Capita Act, Pub. L. No. 98-64, 97 Stat. 365, 25 U.S.C. §§ 117a through 117c, provides authority to Indian tribes to make per capita payments to Indians out of tribal trust revenue. Under 25 U.S.C. § 117a, funds held in trust by the Secretary of the Interior for an Indian tribe that are to be distributed per capita to members of that tribe may be distributed by either the Secretary of the Interior or, at the request of the governing body of the tribe and subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, the tribe.

The Indian Tribal Judgment Funds Use or Distribution Act, 25 U.S.C. §§ 1401 through 1408, concerns the distribution of certain judgment funds to Indian tribes. Under 25 U.S.C. § 117b(a), funds distributed under 25 U.S.C. § 117a are subject to the provisions of 25 U.S.C. § 1407. Under 25 U.S.C. § 1407, the funds described in that section, and all interest and investment income accrued on the funds while held in trust, are not subject to federal income taxes. See also H.R. Rep. No. 98-230 at 3 (1983), which provides that per capita distributions of tribal trust revenue “shall be subject to the provisions of [25 U.S.C. § 1407] with respect to tax exemptions.”

To determine the federal income tax treatment of per capita payments from Tribal Trust case settlement proceeds, “the test is not whether the action was one in tort or contract, but rather the question to be asked is ‘In lieu of what were the damages awarded?’” See Raytheon Production Corp. v. Commissioner, 144 F.2d 110, 113 (1st Cir. 1944), aff’g 1 T.C. 952 (1943). The fact that a suit ends in a compromise settlement does not change the nature of the recovery; the determining factor is the nature of the underlying claim. Raytheon Production Corp. at 114. Therefore, although the United States admits no liability in the Tribal Trust cases, Raytheon Production Corp. requires an examination of the underlying claims asserted by the tribes. The Tribal Trust case settlements described in this notice resolve claims, in relevant part, that the Department of the Interior and the Department of the Treasury mismanaged trust accounts, lands, and natural resources. The tribes assert that, absent this mismanagement of their trust funds and resources, their government-administered trust fund accounts would have substantially larger balances. See 25 C.F.R. §§ 115.002 and 115.702 (which define the trust fund accounts maintained and held by the Secretary of the Interior for federally recognized tribes and the types of payments that must be accepted into the trust account, which include those resulting from use of trust lands or restricted fee lands or trust resources when paid directly to the Secretary of the Interior on behalf of the tribal account holder). The settlement proceeds from the Tribal Trust cases must be viewed as being in lieu of amounts that would have been held in a trust fund account for the tribe that is maintained by the Secretary of the Interior. Consequently, for federal income tax purposes, per capita payments that an Indian tribe makes from the tribe’s Tribal Trust case settlement proceeds are treated the same as per capita payments from funds held in trust by the Secretary of the Interior under 25 U.S.C. § 117a. See Raytheon Production Corp. at 113-114; see also 25 U.S.C. § 1407 and H.R. Rep. No. 98-230 at 3 (1983).

FEDERAL INCOME TAX TREATMENT

Under 25 U.S.C. § 117b(a), per capita payments made from the proceeds of an agreement between the United States and an Indian tribe settling the tribe’s claims that the United States mismanaged monetary assets and natural resources held in trust for the benefit of the tribe by the Secretary of the Interior are excluded from the gross income of the members of the tribe receiving the per capita payments. Per capita payments that exceed the amount of the Tribal Trust case settlement proceeds and that are made from an Indian tribe’s private bank account in which the tribe has deposited the settlement proceeds are included in the gross income of the members of the tribe receiving the per capita payments under § 61. For example, if an Indian tribe receives proceeds under a settlement agreement, invests the proceeds in a private bank account that earns interest, and subsequently distributes the entire amount of the bank account as per capita payments, then a member of the tribe excludes from gross income that portion of the member’s per capita payment attributable to the settlement proceeds and must include the remaining portion of the per capita payment in gross income.

LIMITATION

This notice applies only to per capita payments from proceeds of the Tribal Trust case settlements that are described in this notice and that the United States has entered into with the Indian tribes listed in the Appendix to this notice or to proceeds of Tribal Trust case settlements that are subsequently identified as being subject to this notice on the Indian Tribal Governments page on the Internal Revenue Service website, http://www.irs.gov. The federal income tax treatment of other per capita payments made by the Secretary of the Interior or Indian tribes to members of Indian tribes is outside the scope of this notice and may be addressed in future guidance.

DRAFTING INFORMATION

The principal author of this notice is Sheldon Iskow of the Office of Associate Chief Counsel (Income Tax & Accounting). For further information, please contact Mr. Iskow at (202) 622-4920 (not a toll-free call).

Appendix

Tribes That Have Entered into Settlement Agreements of Tribal Trust Cases

1. Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation
2. Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
3. Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation
4. Bois Forte Band of Chippewa
5. Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians of the Colusa Rancheria
6. Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation
7. Coeur d’Alene Tribe
8. Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
9. Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians
10. Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
11. Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation
12. Crow Creek Sioux Tribe
13. Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma
14. Hualapai Indian Tribe
15. Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska
16. Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians of Arizona
17. Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas
18. Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
19. Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
20. Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
21. Lower Brule Sioux Tribe
22. Makah Indian Tribe of the Makah Reservation
23. Mescalero Apache Tribe
24. Minnesota Chippewa Tribe
25. Nez Perce Tribe
26. Nooksack Indian Tribe
27. Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Indians
28. Omaha Tribe o Nebraska
29. Passamaquoddy Tribe of Maine
30. Pawnee Nation
31. Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation
32. Pueblo of Zia
33. Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Reservation
34. Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
35. Rincon Luiseño Band of Indians
36. Rosebud Sioux Tribe
37. Round Valley Indian Tribes
38. Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
39. Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska
40. Sault Ste. Marie Tribe
41. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation
42. Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians
43. Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation
44. Spokane Tribe of Indians
45. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
46. Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians
47. Summit Lake Paiute Tribe
48. Swinomish Indian Tribal Community
49. Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians
50. Tohono O’odham Nation
51. Tulalip Tribes
52. Tule River Indian Tribe
53. Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation
54. Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
55. Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska

IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2012-04: Special Tax Benefits for Armed Forces Personnel

Special Tax Benefits for Armed Forces Personnel

Military personnel and their families face unique life challenges with their duties, expenses and transitions. The IRS wants active members of the U.S. Armed Forces to be aware of all the special tax benefits that are available to them.

Here are 10 of those special tax benefits:

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 may be able to deduct some of your unreimbursed moving expenses.

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 during 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. You can also elect to include your nontaxable combat pay in your “earned income” for purposes of claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit.

3. Extension of Deadlines 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 income tax returns must be signed by both spouses. However, when one spouse is unavailable 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 and/or after the tax filing season.

10. Tax Information IRS Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide, is an excellent resource as it summarizes many important military-related tax topics. Publication 3 can be downloaded from IRS.gov or may be ordered by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Link:

IRS Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide (PDF)

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