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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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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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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MFS Can Be A Bummer

January 27, 2011 at 11:22 pm (Personal Taxes)

The Married Filing Seperate tax status can be helpful to any married couple for two reasons:

1. You each want to be responsible for only your own tax.

2. You find that this status gives you better results than filing a joint return.

This is generally a desirable way to file for people that are still considered married at the end of the tax year, but are filing for divorce. However, most often especially if children are involved, it may be much more advantageous to both parties if they suck it up one last time and file a joint return. I will give the IRS list below since it can’t be made any simpler:

  • Your tax rate generally will be higher than it would be on a joint return.
  • Your exemption amount for figuring the alternative minimum tax will be half that allowed to a joint return filer.
  • You cannot take the credit for child and dependent care expenses in most cases, and the amount that you can exclude from income under an employer’s dependent care assistance program is limited to $2,500 (instead of $5,000 if you filed a joint return).
  • You cannot take the earned income credit.
  • You cannot take the exclusion or credit for adoption expenses in most cases.
  • You cannot take the education credits (the Hope credit and the lifetime learning credit), the deduction for student loan interest, or the tuition and fees deduction.
  • You cannot exclude any interest income from qualified U.S. savings bonds that you used for higher education expenses.

If you lived with your spouse at any time during the tax year:

  • You cannot claim the credit for the elderly or the disabled.
  • You will have to include in income more (up to 85%) of any social security or equivalent railroad retirement benefits you received, and
  • You cannot roll over amounts from a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA.

The following credits and deductions are reduced at income levels that are half of those for a joint return:

  • The child tax credit,
  • The retirement savings contributions credit,
  • Itemized deductions, and
  • The deduction for personal exemptions.
  • Your capital loss deduction limit is $1,500 (instead of $3,000 if you filed a joint return).
  • If your spouse itemizes deductions, you cannot claim the standard deduction. If you can claim the standard deduction, your basic standard deduction is half the amount allowed on a joint return.

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Complete Your Tax Worksheets

January 27, 2011 at 11:19 pm (Business Taxes, General Tax Information, Personal Taxes)

If you prepare your taxes yourself, you may have noticed worksheets in your tax packet if using the paper method or an icon to open a worksheet in a tax preparation software program. Do not ignore these important tools! Worksheets and tables are used to make sure that the taxpayer actually qualifies for the credits for which they are applying. There is a lot of valuable information contained within and the answers to the questions asked can either make or break your credit qualification. Many terrible mistakes are made by skipping this step and many a taxpayer who received a refund has had to pay back some or all of the monies received. Be smart – be complete. 😉

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