Tax relief for those affected by Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana and Mississippi

September 7, 2012 at 8:16 pm (Business Taxes, General Tax Information, IRS Information, Personal Taxes)

Via IRS.gov

Tax Relief for Victims of Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana

LA/MS-2012-15, Sept. 5, 2012

NEW ORLEANS — Victims of Hurricane Isaac that began on Aug. 26, 2012 in parts of Louisiana may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service.

Following recent disaster declarations for individual assistance issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the IRS announced today that affected taxpayers in Louisiana will receive tax relief, and other locations may be added in coming days based on additional damage assessments by FEMA.

The President has declared the parishes of Ascension, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, and St. Tammany a federal disaster area. Individuals who reside or have a business in these parishes may qualify for tax relief.

The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after Aug. 26, and on or before Jan. 11, 2013, have been postponed to Jan. 11, 2013. This includes the quarterly estimated tax payment due on Sept. 17, 2012.

In addition, the IRS is waiving the failure-to-deposit penalties for employment and excise tax deposits due on or after Aug. 26, and on or before Sept. 10, as long as the deposits are made by Sept. 10, 2012.

If an affected taxpayer receives a penalty notice from the IRS, the taxpayer should call the telephone number on the notice to have the IRS abate any interest and any late filing or late payment penalties that would otherwise apply. Penalties or interest will be abated only for taxpayers who have an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date, including an extended filing or payment due date, that falls within the postponement period.

The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies automatic filing and payment relief. But affected taxpayers who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area must call the IRS disaster hotline at 1-866-562-5227 to request this tax relief.

Covered Disaster Area

The parishes listed above constitutes a covered disaster area for purposes of Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(d)(2) and is entitled to the relief detailed below.

Affected Taxpayers

Taxpayers considered to be affected taxpayers eligible for the postponement of time to file returns, pay taxes and perform other time-sensitive acts are those taxpayers listed in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(d)(1), and include individuals who live, and businesses whose principal place of business is located, in the covered disaster area. Taxpayers not in the covered disaster area, but whose records necessary to meet a deadline listed in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(c) are in the covered disaster area, are also entitled to relief. In addition, all relief workers affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization assisting in the relief activities in the covered disaster area and any individual visiting the covered disaster area who was killed or injured as a result of the disaster are entitled to relief.

Grant of Relief

Under section 7508A, the IRS gives affected taxpayers until Jan. 11, 2013, to file most tax returns (including individual, corporate, and estate and trust income tax returns; partnership returns, S corporation returns, and trust returns; estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax returns; and employment and certain excise tax returns), or to make tax payments, including estimated tax payments, that have either an original or extended due date occurring on or after Aug. 26 and on or before Jan. 11, 2013.

The IRS also gives affected taxpayers until Jan. 11, 2013, to perform other time-sensitive actions described in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(c)(1) and Rev. Proc. 2007-56, 2007-34 I.R.B. 388 (Aug. 20, 2007), that are due to be performed on or after Aug. 26 and on or before Jan. 11, 2013.

This relief also includes the filing of Form 5500 series returns, in the manner described in section 8 of Rev. Proc. 2007-56. The relief described in section 17 of Rev. Proc. 2007-56, pertaining to like-kind exchanges of property, also applies to certain taxpayers who are not otherwise affected taxpayers and may include acts required to be performed before or after the period above.

The postponement of time to file and pay does not apply to information returns in the W-2, 1098, 1099 series, or to Forms 1042-S or 8027. Penalties for failure to timely file information returns can be waived under existing procedures for reasonable cause. Likewise, the postponement does not apply to employment and excise tax deposits. The IRS, however, will abate penalties for failure to make timely employment and excise tax deposits due on or after Aug. 26 and on or before Sept. 10 provided the taxpayer makes these deposits by Sept. 10.

Casualty Losses

Affected taxpayers in a federally declared disaster area have the option of claiming disaster-related casualty losses on their federal income tax return for either this year or last year. Claiming the loss on an original or amended return for last year will get the taxpayer an earlier refund, but waiting to claim the loss on this year’s return could result in a greater tax saving, depending on other income factors.

Individuals may deduct personal property losses that are not covered by insurance or other reimbursements. For details, see Form 4684 and its instructions.

Affected taxpayers claiming the disaster loss on last year’s return should put the Disaster Designation “LOUISIANA/HURRICANE ISAAC” at the top of the form so that the IRS can expedite the processing of the refund.

Other Relief

The IRS will waive the usual fees and expedite requests for copies of previously filed tax returns for affected taxpayers. Taxpayers should put the assigned Disaster Designation in red ink at the top of Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, or Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, as appropriate, and submit it to the IRS.

Affected taxpayers who are contacted by the IRS on a collection or examination matter should explain how the disaster impacts them so that the IRS can provide appropriate consideration to their case.

Taxpayers may download forms and publications from the official IRS website, IRS.gov, or order them by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676). The IRS toll-free number for general tax questions is 1-800-829-1040.

Tax Relief for Victims of Hurricane Isaac in Mississippi

LA/MS-2012-14, Sept. 5, 2012

NEW ORLEANS — Victims of Hurricane Isaac that began on Aug. 26, 2012 in parts of Mississippi may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service.

Following recent disaster declarations for individual assistance issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the IRS announced today that affected taxpayers in Mississippi will receive tax relief, and other locations may be added in coming days based on additional damage assessments by FEMA.

The President has declared the counties of Hancock, Harrison, Jackson and Pearl River a federal disaster area. Individuals who reside or have a business in these counties may qualify for tax relief.

The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after Aug. 26, and on or before Jan. 11, 2013, have been postponed to Jan. 11, 2013. This includes the quarterly estimated tax payment due on Sept. 17, 2012.

In addition, the IRS is waiving the failure-to-deposit penalties for employment and excise tax deposits due on or after Aug. 26, and on or before Sept. 10, as long as the deposits are made by Sept. 10, 2012.

If an affected taxpayer receives a penalty notice from the IRS, the taxpayer should call the telephone number on the notice to have the IRS abate any interest and any late filing or late payment penalties that would otherwise apply. Penalties or interest will be abated only for taxpayers who have an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date, including an extended filing or payment due date, that falls within the postponement period.

The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and applies automatic filing and payment relief. But affected taxpayers who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area must call the IRS disaster hotline at 1-866-562-5227 to request this tax relief.

Covered Disaster Area

The counties listed above constitutes a covered disaster area for purposes of Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(d)(2) and is entitled to the relief detailed below.

Affected Taxpayers

Taxpayers considered to be affected taxpayers eligible for the postponement of time to file returns, pay taxes and perform other time-sensitive acts are those taxpayers listed in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(d)(1), and include individuals who live, and businesses whose principal place of business is located, in the covered disaster area. Taxpayers not in the covered disaster area, but whose records necessary to meet a deadline listed in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(c) are in the covered disaster area, are also entitled to relief. In addition, all relief workers affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization assisting in the relief activities in the covered disaster area and any individual visiting the covered disaster area who was killed or injured as a result of the disaster are entitled to relief.

Grant of Relief

Under section 7508A, the IRS gives affected taxpayers until Jan. 11, 2013, to file most tax returns (including individual, corporate, and estate and trust income tax returns; partnership returns, S corporation returns, and trust returns; estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax returns; and employment and certain excise tax returns), or to make tax payments, including estimated tax payments, that have either an original or extended due date occurring on or after Aug. 26 and on or before Jan. 11, 2013.

The IRS also gives affected taxpayers until Jan. 11, 2013, to perform other time-sensitive actions described in Treas. Reg. § 301.7508A-1(c)(1) and Rev. Proc. 2007-56, 2007-34 I.R.B. 388 (Aug. 20, 2007), that are due to be performed on or after Aug. 26 and on or before Jan. 11, 2013.

This relief also includes the filing of Form 5500 series returns, in the manner described in section 8 of Rev. Proc. 2007-56. The relief described in section 17 of Rev. Proc. 2007-56, pertaining to like-kind exchanges of property, also applies to certain taxpayers who are not otherwise affected taxpayers and may include acts required to be performed before or after the period above.

The postponement of time to file and pay does not apply to information returns in the W-2, 1098, 1099 series, or to Forms 1042-S or 8027. Penalties for failure to timely file information returns can be waived under existing procedures for reasonable cause. Likewise, the postponement does not apply to employment and excise tax deposits. The IRS, however, will abate penalties for failure to make timely employment and excise tax deposits due on or after Aug. 26 and on or before Sept. 10 provided the taxpayer makes these deposits by Sept. 10.

Casualty Losses

Affected taxpayers in a federally declared disaster area have the option of claiming disaster-related casualty losses on their federal income tax return for either this year or last year. Claiming the loss on an original or amended return for last year will get the taxpayer an earlier refund, but waiting to claim the loss on this year’s return could result in a greater tax saving, depending on other income factors.

Individuals may deduct personal property losses that are not covered by insurance or other reimbursements. For details, see Form 4684 and its instructions.

Affected taxpayers claiming the disaster loss on last year’s return should put the Disaster Designation “MISSISSIPPI/HURRICANE ISAAC” at the top of the form so that the IRS can expedite the processing of the refund.

Other Relief

The IRS will waive the usual fees and expedite requests for copies of previously filed tax returns for affected taxpayers. Taxpayers should put the assigned Disaster Designation in red ink at the top of Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, or Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, as appropriate, and submit it to the IRS.

Affected taxpayers who are contacted by the IRS on a collection or examination matter should explain how the disaster impacts them so that the IRS can provide appropriate consideration to their case.

Taxpayers may download forms and publications from the official IRS website, IRS.gov, or order them by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676). The IRS toll-free number for general tax questions is 1-800-829-1040.

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Tax Relief in Disaster Situations and Locations

March 8, 2012 at 2:27 pm (General Tax Information, IRS Information)

Via the IRS website

Update: IRS e-File, Free File to Remain Available to Victims of Irene, Lee and Texas Wildfires through Oct. 31.

Relief for Victims of Hurricane Irene

The IRS is in the process of providing tax relief to victims of Hurricane Irene. Relief for taxpayers in various locations, including postponement of filing and payment deadlines, will be listed here as it is announced. Watch this page for updates.

For information on disaster recovery, visit disasterassistance.gov.

Other Recent Tax Relief

  • Kentucky victims of February 2012 storms, see news release
  • Alabama victims of January 2012 storms, see news release
  • Virginia victims of August 2011 earthquake, see news release
  • Puerto Rico victims of September 2011 Tropical Storm Maria, see news release
  • Iowa victims of May 2011 flooding, see news release
  • New York victims of September 2011 remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, see news release
  • Pennsylvania victims of September 2011 Tropical Storm Lee, see news release
  • Texas victims of August 2011 wildfires, see news release
  • Kentucky victims of June 2011 severe storms, see news release
  • South Dakota victims of March 2011 flooding, see news release
  • Missouri victims of June flooding, see news release
  • Nebraska victims of May flooding, see news release
  • Montana victims of April 2011 storms and flooding, see news release

Don’t See What You’re Looking For? Around the Nation contains links to previously issued disaster relief.

The latest Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster declarations are available.


The IRS has two new fact sheets describing the impact of recently enacted laws on disaster relief:

For a definition of the Midwestern Disaster Area for Various Provisions of the Tax Extenders and AMT Relief Act of 2008, see Notice 2008-109


The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 offers a new option to homeowners who previously claimed a casualty loss deduction resulting from hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. See the news release, notice and questions and answers for further details.

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IRS Offers New Penalty Relief and Expanded Installment Agreements to Taxpayers under Expanded Fresh Start Initiative

March 8, 2012 at 2:20 pm (General Tax Information, IRS Information)

via the IRS website

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced a major expansion of its “Fresh Start” initiative to help struggling taxpayers by taking steps to provide new penalty relief to the unemployed and making Installment Agreements available to more people.

Under the new Fresh Start provisions, part of a broader effort started at the IRS in 2008, certain taxpayers who have been unemployed for 30 days or longer will be able to avoid failure-to-pay penalties. In addition, the IRS is doubling the dollar threshold for taxpayers eligible for Installment Agreements to help more people qualify for the program.

“We have an obligation to work with taxpayers who are struggling to make ends meet,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. ”This new approach makes sense for taxpayers and for the nation’s tax system, and it’s part of a wider effort we have underway to help struggling taxpayers.”

Penalty Relief

The IRS announced plans for new penalty relief for the unemployed on failure-to-pay penalties, which are one of the biggest factors a financially distressed taxpayer faces on a tax bill.

To assist those most in need, a six-month grace period on failure-to-pay penalties will be made available to certain wage earners and self-employed individuals. The request for an extension of time to pay will result in relief from the failure to pay penalty for tax year 2011 only if the tax, interest and any other penalties are fully paid by Oct. 15, 2012.

The penalty relief will be available to two categories of taxpayers:

  • Wage earners who have been unemployed at least 30 consecutive days during 2011 or in 2012 up to the April 17 deadline for filing a federal tax return this year.
  • Self-employed individuals who experienced a 25 percent or greater reduction in business income in 2011 due to the economy.

This penalty relief is subject to income limits. A taxpayer’s income must not exceed $200,000 if he or she files as married filing jointly or not exceed $100,000 if he or she files as single or head of household. This penalty relief is also restricted to taxpayers whose calendar year 2011 balance due does not exceed $50,000.

Taxpayers meeting the eligibility criteria will need to complete a new Form 1127A to seek the 2011 penalty relief. The new form is available on IRS.gov.

The failure-to-pay penalty is generally half of 1 percent per month with an upper limit of 25 percent. Under this new relief, taxpayers can avoid that penalty until Oct. 15, 2012, which is six months beyond this year’s filing deadline. However, the IRS is still legally required to charge interest on unpaid back taxes and does not have the authority to waive this charge, which is currently 3 percent on an annual basis.

Even with the new penalty relief becoming available, the IRS strongly encourages taxpayers to file their returns on time by April 17 or file for an extension. Failure-to-file penalties applied to unpaid taxes remain in effect and are generally 5 percent per month, also with a 25 percent cap.

Installment Agreements

The Fresh Start provisions also mean that more taxpayers will have the ability to use streamlined installment agreements to catch up on back taxes.

The IRS announced today that, effective immediately, the threshold for using an installment agreement without having to supply the IRS with a financial statement has been raised from $25,000 to $50,000. This is a significant reduction in taxpayer burden.

Taxpayers who owe up to $50,000 in back taxes will now be able to enter into a streamlined agreement with the IRS that stretches the payment out over a series of months or years. The maximum term for streamlined installment agreements has also been raised to 72 months from the current 60-month maximum.

Taxpayers seeking installment agreements exceeding $50,000 will still need to supply the IRS with a Collection Information Statement (Form 433-A or Form 433-F). Taxpayers may also pay down their balance due to $50,000 or less to take advantage of this payment option.

An installment agreement is an option for those who cannot pay their entire tax bills by the due date. Penalties are reduced, although interest continues to accrue on the outstanding balance. In order to qualify for the new expanded streamlined installment agreement, a taxpayer must agree to monthly direct debit payments.

Taxpayers can set up an installment agreement with the IRS by going to the On-line Payment Agreement (OPA) page on IRS.gov and following the instructions.
These changes supplement a number of efforts to help struggling taxpayers, including the “Fresh Start” program announced last year. The initiative includes a variety of changes to help individuals and businesses pay back taxes more easily and with less burden, including the issuance of fewer tax liens.

“Our goal is to help people meet their obligations and get back on their feet financially,” Shulman said.

Input from the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council and the IRS National Taxpayer Advocate’s office contributed to the formulation of Fresh Start.

Offers in Compromise

Under the first round of Fresh Start, the IRS expanded a new streamlined Offer in Compromise (OIC) program to cover a larger group of struggling taxpayers. An offer-in-compromise is an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed.

The IRS recognizes that many taxpayers are still struggling to pay their bills so the agency has been working to put in place more common-sense changes to the OIC program to more closely reflect real-world situations.

For example, the IRS has more flexibility with financial analysis for determining reasonable collection potential for distressed taxpayers.

Generally, an offer will not be accepted if the IRS believes that the liability can be paid in full as a lump sum or through a payment agreement. The IRS looks at the taxpayer’s income and assets to make a determination regarding the taxpayer’s ability to pay.

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IRS Has $1 Billion for People Who Have Not Filed a 2008 Income Tax Return

February 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm (General Tax Information, IRS Information, Personal Taxes)

via the IRS


IRS Has $1 Billion for People Who Have Not Filed a 2008 Income Tax Return

IRS YouTube Videos:
Haven’t Filed a Tax Return in Years?: English | Spanish | ASL

WASHINGTON — Refunds totaling more than $1 billion may be waiting for one million people who did not file a federal income tax return for 2008, the Internal Revenue Service announced today. However, to collect the money, a return for 2008 must be filed with the IRS no later than Tuesday, April 17, 2012.

The IRS estimates that half of these potential 2008 refunds are $637 or more.

Some people may not have filed because they had too little income to require filing a tax return even though they had taxes withheld from their wages or made quarterly estimated payments. In cases where a return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. If no return is filed to claim a refund within three years, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury.

For 2008 returns, the window closes on April 17, 2012. The law requires that the return be properly addressed, mailed and postmarked by that date. There is no penalty for filing a late return qualifying for a refund.

The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2008 refund that their checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2009 and 2010. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS, and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts such as student loans.

By failing to file a return, people stand to lose more than refunds of taxes withheld or paid during 2008. Some people, especially those who did not receive an economic stimulus payment in 2008, may qualify for the Recovery Rebate Credit. In addition, many low-and moderate-income workers may not have claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds. The thresholds for 2008 were:

  • $38,646 ($41,646 if married filing jointly) for those with two or more qualifying children,
  • $33,995 ($36,995 if married filing jointly) for people with one qualifying child, and
  • $12,880 ($15,880 if married filing jointly) for those with no qualifying children.

For more information, visit the EITC Home Page on IRS.gov.

Current and prior year tax forms and instructions are available on the Forms and Publications page of IRS.gov or by calling toll-free 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). Taxpayers who are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for 2008, 2009 or 2010 should request copies from their employer, bank or other payer. If these efforts are unsuccessful, taxpayers can get a free transcript showing information from these year-end documents by ordering it on IRS.gov, filing Form 4506-T, or by calling 800-908-9946.

Individuals Who Did Not File a 2008 Return with a Potential Refund

State Individuals Median

Potential

Refund

Total

Potential

Refunds ($000)*

 

Alabama

18,400 $641 $15,738
 

Alaska

5,800 $641 $5,952
 

Arizona

29,000 $558 $24,913
 

Arkansas

9,600 $620 $8,152
 

California

122,500 $595 $112,201
 

Colorado

20,500 $589 $18,909
 

Connecticut

12,500 $697 $13,893
 

Delaware

4,200 $644 $3,784
 

District of Columbia

4,000 $642 $3,791
 

Florida

70,400 $650 $66,974
 

Georgia

35,800 $581 $30,661
 

Hawaii

7,600 $714 $8,307
 

Idaho

4,700 $541 $3,878
 

Illinois

40,800 $692 $40,712
 

Indiana

21,800 $664 $19,590
 

Iowa

10,600 $658 $9,295
 

Kansas

11,500 $631 $10,084
 

Kentucky

12,300 $640 $10,501
 

Louisiana

20,500 $662 $18,859
 

Maine

4,000 $579 $3,248
 

Maryland

24,600 $641 $22,591
 

Massachusetts

23,900 $699 $22,957
 

Michigan

33,300 $660 $30,903
 

Minnesota

15,200 $584 $12,772
 

Mississippi

9,900 $591 $8,254
 

Missouri

21,600 $593 $18,213
 

Montana

3,600 $599 $3,192
 

Nebraska

5,100 $623 $4,371
 

Nevada

14,500 $619 $13,381
 

New Hampshire

4,300 $733 $4,518
 

New Jersey

31,300 $716 $31,185
 

New Mexico

8,000 $611 $7,420
 

New York

60,300 $686 $61,240
 

North Carolina

30,800 $558 $24,997
 

North Dakota

2,000 $625 $1,895
 

Ohio

36,400 $622 $31,018
 

Oklahoma

16,800 $620 $14,787
 

Oregon

18,500 $527 $14,819
 

Pennsylvania

38,700 $695 $35,565
 

Rhode Island

3,400 $674 $3,040
 

South Carolina

12,200 $547 $10,158
 

South Dakota

2,300 $669 $2,234
 

Tennessee

18,400 $626 $16,130
 

Texas

96,200 $689 $97,057
 

Utah

7,800 $536 $6,676
 

Vermont

1,700 $647 $1,410
 

Virginia

30,800 $624 $28,670
 

Washington

29,900 $705 $32,138
 

West Virginia

4,300 $687 $4,068
 

Wisconsin

14,100 $592 $11,885
 

Wyoming

2,600 $773 $2,919
Grand Total 1,089,000 $637 $1,009,905

*Excluding the Earned Income Tax Credit and other credits.

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More Innocent Spouses Qualify for Relief Under New IRS Guidelines videos (English, ASL, Spanish)

January 6, 2012 at 11:26 pm (IRS Information)

English Version (via   on YouTube)

ASL Version (via  on YouTube)

Spanish Version (via  on YouTube)

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2012 IRS Filing Dates and New Filing Rule

January 6, 2012 at 11:07 pm (General Tax Information, IRS Information)

The 2012 filing season has begun with new filing dates and a new filing rule for taxpayers and tax preparers.

E-filing officially begins January 17, 2012

The filing Season deadline for 1040 tax returns and extensions is Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Oct. 15 to file their 2012 tax returns.

New IRS rule says that no tax return shall be e-filed until the taxpayer has received all of their expected tax forms (eg. W-2, 1099 etc). The deadline for issuers to send the forms is January 31st. Therefore, taxpayers may not receive their forms until February.

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Tax Credit Helps Low- and Moderate-Income Workers Save for Retirement

January 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm (IRS Information, Personal Taxes)

via IRS.gov

Dec. 16, 2011

WASHINGTON — Low- and moderate-income workers can take steps now to save for retirement and earn a special tax credit in 2011 and the years ahead, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

The saver’s credit helps offset part of the first $2,000 workers voluntarily contribute to IRAs and to 401(k) plans and similar workplace retirement programs. Also known as the retirement savings contributions credit, the saver’s credit is available in addition to any other tax savings that apply.

Eligible workers still have time to make qualifying retirement contributions and get the saver’s credit on their 2011 tax return. People have until April 17, 2012, to set up a new individual retirement arrangement or add money to an existing IRA and still get credit for 2011. However, elective deferrals must be made by the end of the year to a 401(k) plan or similar workplace program, such as a 403(b) plan for employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations, a governmental 457 plan for state or local government employees, and the Thrift Savings Plan for federal employees. Employees who are unable to set aside money for this year may want to schedule their 2012 contributions soon so their employer can begin withholding them in January.

The saver’s credit can be claimed by:

  • Married couples filing jointly with incomes up to $56,500 in 2011 or $57,500 in 2012;
  • Heads of Household with incomes up to $42,375 in 2011 or $43,125 in 2012; and
  • Married individuals filing separately and singles with incomes up to $28,250 in 2011 or $28,750 in 2012.

Like other tax credits, the saver’s credit can increase a taxpayer’s refund or reduce the tax owed. Though the maximum saver’s credit is $1,000, $2,000 for married couples, the IRS cautioned that it is often much less and, due in part to the impact of other deductions and credits, may, in fact, be zero for some taxpayers.

A taxpayer’s credit amount is based on his or her filing status, adjusted gross income, tax liability and amount contributed to qualifying retirement programs. Form 8880 is used to claim the saver’s credit, and its instructions have details on figuring the credit correctly.

In tax-year 2009, the most recent year for which complete figures are available, saver’s credits totaling just over $1 billion were claimed on just over 6.25 million individual income tax returns. Saver’s credits claimed on these returns averaged $202 for joint filers, $159 for heads of household and $121 for single filers.

The saver’s credit supplements other tax benefits available to people who set money aside for retirement. For example, most workers may deduct their contributions to a traditional IRA. Though Roth IRA contributions are not deductible, qualifying withdrawals, usually after retirement, are tax-free. Normally, contributions to 401(k) and similar workplace plans are not taxed until withdrawn.

Other special rules that apply to the saver’s credit include the following:

  • Eligible taxpayers must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Anyone claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return cannot take the credit.
  • A student cannot take the credit. A person enrolled as a full-time student during any part of 5 calendar months during the year is considered a student.
  • Certain retirement plan distributions reduce the contribution amount used to figure the credit. For 2011, this rule applies to distributions received after 2008 and before the due date, including extensions, of the 2011 return. Form 8880 and its instructions have details on making this computation.
  • Begun in 2002 as a temporary provision, the saver’s credit was made a permanent part of the tax code in legislation enacted in 2006. To help preserve the value of the credit, income limits are now adjusted annually to keep pace with inflation. More information about the credit is on IRS.gov.

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New Changes For Tax Year 2011

January 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm (IRS Information)

via IRS.gov

  • Standard mileage rates:
    • The 2011 rate for business use of your car is 51 cents a mile for miles driven before July 1, 2011, and 55 ½ cents a mile for miles driven after June 30, 2011.
    • The 2011 rate for use of your car to get medical care is 19 cents a mile for miles driven before July 1, 2011, and 23 ½ cents a mile for miles driven after June 30, 2011.
    • The 2011 rate for use of your car to move is 19 cents a mile for miles driven before July 1, 2011, and 23 ½ cents a mile for miles driven after June 30, 2011. See Publication 521, Moving Expenses.
  • The standard deduction has increased.
  • The amount you can deduct for each exemption has increased.
  • Alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption amount has increased.
  • Health savings accounts (HSAs) and Archer MSAs:
    • For distributions after 2010, the additional tax on distributions from HSAs and Archer MSAs not used for qualified medical expenses has increased to 20%.
    • Also beginning in 2011, amounts paid for medicine or a drug are qualified medical expenses only if the medicine or drug is a prescribed drug or is insulin.
  • Roth IRAs: If you converted or rolled over an amount to a Roth IRA in 2010 and did not elect to report the taxable amount on your 2010 return, you generally must report half of it on your 2011 return and the rest on your 2012 return.
  • Designated Roth accounts. If you rolled over an amount from a 401(k) or 403(b) plan to a designated Roth account in 2010 and did not elect to report the taxable amount on your 2010 return, you generally must report half of it on your 2011 return and the rest on your 2012 return.
  • Alternative motor vehicle credit. You cannot claim the alternative motor vehicle credit for a vehicle you bought in 2011, unless the vehicle is a new fuel cell motor vehicle.
  • First-time homebuyer credit: To claim the first-time homebuyer credit for 2011, you (or your spouse if married) must have been a member of the uniformed services or Foreign Service or an employee of the intelligence community on qualified official extended duty outside the United States for at least 90 days during the period beginning after December 31, 2008, and ending before May 1, 2010.
  • Repayment of first-time homebuyer credit. If you have to repay the credit, you may be able to do so without attaching Form 5405.
  • Nonbusiness energy property credit. This credit is figured differently for 2011 than it was for 2010.
  • Health coverage tax credit. This credit has been extended, and the amount has changed.
  • Schedule L. Schedule L is no longer in use. You do not need it to figure your 2011 standard deduction.
  • The making work pay credit has expired. You cannot claim it on your 2011 return. Schedule M is no longer in use.
  • Mailing your return. If you are filing a paper return, you may be mailing it to a different address this year because the IRS has changed the filing location for several areas. Where to file

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Copy of Your Tax Return – How to Get One

January 27, 2011 at 11:22 pm (General Tax Information, IRS Information)

Copy of Your Tax Return – How to Get One
http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc156.html

“If you need an exact copy of a previously filed and processed tax return and all attachments (including Form W-2), you should complete Form 4506 (PDF), Request for Copy of Tax Return, and mail it to the address listed in the instructions, along with a $57.00 fee for each tax year requested. The check or money order for the fee should be made payable to the “United States Treasury”. Copies are generally available for returns filed in the current and past six years. Copies of jointly filed tax returns may be requested by either spouse and only one signature is required. Allow 60 calendar days to receive your copies.”

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IRS’s ‘What If?’ Section

January 27, 2011 at 11:20 pm (IRS Information)

The “What Ifs” of an Economic Downturn
http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/…201853,00.html

IRS.gov now has a list of What If? scenarios that deal with payment and other financial problems.

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