Today, it takes more brains and effort to make out the income-tax form than it does to make the income.
~ Alfred E. Neuman
The Internal Revenue Service announced that the nation’s tax season will begin Monday, January 23, 2017. Many software companies and tax professionals will be accepting tax returns before January 23 and will submit the returns when the IRS systems open on January 23.
There is no advantage to filing paper returns earlier than the January 23 date since all returns, filed electronically or via a paper return sent through the mail, will be accepted on the same date, January 23.
Keep in mind, a new law requires the IRS to hold refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until Feb. 15. In addition, the IRS wants taxpayers to be aware it will take several days for these refunds to be released and processed through financial institutions.
Factoring in weekends and the President’s Day holiday, the IRS cautions that many affected taxpayers may not have actual access to their refunds until the week of Feb. 27.
The filing deadline to submit 2016 tax returns is Tuesday, April 18, 2017, rather than the traditional April 15 date. In 2017, April 15 falls on a Saturday, and this would usually move the filing deadline to the following Monday — April 17. However, Emancipation Day — a legal holiday in the District of Columbia — will be observed on that Monday, which pushes the filing deadline to Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Under the tax law, legal holidays in the District of Columbia affect the filing deadline across the nation
The IRS is urging taxpayers with an expiring Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) who need to file a return in the upcoming filing season to file a renewal application, Form W-7, in the next few weeks. Failure to do so will result in refund delays and possible loss of eligibility for some tax benefits.
A renewal application filed before the end of the year will be processed before one submitted in January or February. Currently and if complete and accurate, can be processed in as little as seven weeks. This time-frame is expected to lengthen to 11 weeks during tax season.
ITINs are used by people who have tax-filing or payment obligations under U.S. law but are not eligible for a Social Security number.
Under a recent law change by Congress, any ITIN not used on a tax return at least once in the past three years will expire on Jan. 1, 2017. In addition, any ITIN with middle digits of either 78 or 79 (9NN-78-NNNN or 9NN-79-NNNN) will also expire on that date.
The IRS reports that missing information and/or insufficient supporting documentation are currently slowing down and holding up some ITIN renewal applications. Applicants should be sure to use the latest version of Form W-7, revised September 2016.
Do the following to ensure prompt processing your W-7:
ITIN renewal applicants should keep in mind that only a passport with a U.S. entry date is now acceptable as a stand-alone identification document for dependents. This is a change from past policy, which means that dependent ITIN applicants who use a passport without a date of entry must provide additional documentation, along with the passport, to prove U.S. residency.
Acceptable documents include:
Dependents from Canada, Mexico, or dependents of U.S. military personnel stationed overseas are exempt from these additional requirements.
ITIN renewal applicants can get help by visiting IRS.gov/ITIN, consulting a Certified Acceptance Agent or Acceptance Agent or making an appointment at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC).
Here are details on each of these options:
Beginning in 2017, a new law approved by Congress requires the IRS to hold refunds on tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until mid-February. The IRS must hold the entire refund – even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC until at least Feb. 15, 2017
Holding the affected refunds is intended to help ensure that taxpayers get the correct refund they are owed by allowing the IRS more time to help detect and prevent fraud. In addition, new identity theft and refund fraud safeguards put in place by both the IRS and the states may mean some tax returns and refunds face additional review
''This is an important change as some of these taxpayers are used to getting an early refund," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "We want people to be aware of the change for their planning purposes during the holidays. We don't want anyone caught by surprise if they get their refund a few weeks later than in previous years."
The IRS will begin accepting and processing tax returns once the filing season begins. All taxpayers should file as usual, and tax return preparers should submit returns as they normally do.
Even though the IRS cannot issue refunds for some early filers until at least Feb. 15, the IRS reminds taxpayers that most refunds will be issued within the normal time frame, less than 21 days after being accepted for processing by the IRS.
You may use the Where's My Refund? tool on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go phone app.
As the IRS steps up its efforts to combat identity theft and tax refund fraud through its many processing filters, legitimate refund returns sometimes get delayed during the review process. While the IRS is working diligently to stop the issuance of fraudulent refunds, it also remains focused on releasing legitimate refunds as quickly as possible.
Recently, the Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and industry partners finalized plans for 2017 to improve identity theft protections for individual and business taxpayers. This comes after making significant inroads this year against fraudulent returns.
Additional safeguards will be set in place for the upcoming 2017 filing season. The IRS and its partners saw a marked improvement in the battle against identity theft in 2016. This is highlighted by the number of new people reporting stolen identities on federal tax returns falling by more than 50 percent, with nearly 275,000 fewer victims compared to a year ago.
"These increased security screenings are invisible to most taxpayers," Koskinen said. "But we want people to be aware we are taking additional steps to protect taxpayers from identity theft, and that sometimes means the real taxpayers face a slight delay in their refunds."
The quick answer is, YES if you have a ROTH IRA and NO if you have a Traditional IRA (there is an exception that applies to non-deductible contributions).
When it comes to deducting losses in IRA accounts, the key is understanding the concept of basis. You must have a tax basis to deduct a loss. So, how do you know if you have a tax basis in your IRA account? Read on.
Contributions to your ROTH are AFTER-TAX contributions. Since your contributions have already been taxed, the balance in the account represents your basis in the account.
In the future, if you close your ROTH account and your withdrawal is LESS than your BASIS in the account, you have a loss.
For example, if your ROTH account balance on December 31, 2015 is $10,000, and the account balance on December 31, 2016 is $6,000, and you close the account on January 2, 2016 and withdraw the entire $6,000, you would have a $4,000 loss.
Now the question is, how do I deduct my loss? Follow the rules.
Contributions to traditional IRAs are generally PRE-TAX contributions, and therefore, no tax basis exists in the account. This means All withdrawals are subject to taxes, regardless of the amount of value lost in the account.
There is an exception. If you made non-deductible contributions to your traditional IRA, you would have basis in your traditional IRA account. Basis would be the sum of all non-deductible contributions in the account. But in reality, most people don't make non-deductible contributions to their traditional IRAs.
Well, it seems the stickler for the New York Times, in their Oct. 1, 2016 article, revolves around a $916 million net operating loss (NOL) dating back to 1995. The Times learned about this loss after one of their reporters, Susanne Craig, found pages of Trump’s 1995 tax returns in her mailbox.
The article, in an accusatory tone, goes on to say that Trump used the NOL to reduce his taxable income of other years, thereby avoiding the payment of taxes.
The Internal Revenue Service today announced that 401(k)s and similar employer-sponsored retirement plans can make loans and hardship distributions to Louisiana flood victims and members of their families.
Participants in 401(k) plans, employees of public schools and tax-exempt organizations with 403(b) tax-sheltered annuities, as well as state and local government employees with 457(b) deferred-compensation plans may be eligible to take advantage of these streamlined loan procedures and liberalized hardship distribution rules.
Though IRA participants are barred from taking out loans, they may be eligible to receive distributions under liberalized procedures. Retirement plans can provide this relief to employees and certain members of their families who live or work in the disaster area.
The 2016 second quarter economic growth rate was an anemic 1.1%, recently revised down from 1.2%. It was the third consecutive period in which the economy advanced at less than a 2 percent annual rate, the weakest in four years.
Trump's economic plan promises to be a positive step toward America's economic revitalization. The goal of his plan is jobs, growth, and opportunity.
Hillary Clinton's economic plan proposes increased government spending ("investments") and taxing high income earners and businesses. The American Action Forum says her plan would hike taxes by $1.3 trillion and boost spending by $3.5 trillion over the next decade, dramatically increasing our national debt.
You may elect to deduct up to $5,000 of start-up costs in the year your business begins operations. The $5,000 first-year deduction limit is reduced by the amount of start-up costs exceeding $50,000.
Start-up costs that exceed the first-year limit of $5,000 may be amortized ratably over 15 years. The amortization period starts with the month you begin operating your active trade or business.
After seeing an approximate 400% surge in phishing and malware incidents so far this tax season (tax year 2015), the Internal Revenue Service has renewed a consumer alert for e-mail schemes being reported in every section of the country.
These emails look official and can fool taxpayers into thinking they are from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies.
The objective of these emails is gain access to sensitive taxpayer information. To get a taxpayer's attention, these emails will refer to hot topics, such as refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts, verifying PIN information, and a host of other tax-related topics.
On December 18, 2015, the President signed into law the tax extenders bill, entitled the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015. The new law makes more than 20 tax breaks permanent and retroactively extends others for two or more years.
Here's a rundown of key business, individual, and miscellaneous provisions:
Generally, the cost of meals are considered a personal expense and are not deductible, unless they meet certain IRS rules.
For example, if you go out to lunch yourself during the course of your work day or with a business associate, and there is no business purpose other than to simply get a bite to eat, the cost of your lunch is a personal expense and is not deductible.
You can deduct meal and entertainment expenses only if they are both ordinary and necessary (not lavish or extravagant) and meet either one of the following two tests (discussed below).
Self-employed persons deduct business-related travel expenses while away from home as a business expense.
Offshore accounts have been used to lure taxpayers into scams and schemes. According to the IRS, hiding money or assets in unreported offshore accounts remains on its annual list of tax scams.
Over the years, a number of individuals have been identified as evading U.S. taxes by hiding income in offshore banks, brokerage accounts or nominee entities and then using debit cards, credit cards or wire transfers to access the funds.
For any month during the year that you or any of your family members don’t have minimum essential coverage and don’t qualify for a coverage exemption, you are required to make an individual shared responsibility payment (a euphemism for penalty) when you file your tax return.
Here are six things to know about the penalty payment:
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will affect your federal income tax return.
Five things you should know about exemptions from the ACA coverage requirement and the individual shared responsibility payment that will help you get ready to file your tax return:
Last tax season, 2015, some crooked tax preparers around the country victimized a number of uninformed taxpayers in connection with the penalty requirement for taxpayers without health insurance.
Starting January 2014, you and your family were required to either have health insurance coverage throughout the year, qualify for an exemption from coverage, or if you had no health insurance coverage, pay a penalty with your 2014 federal income tax return filed in 2015. The penalty is euphemistically called, The Individual Shared Responsibility Payment.
Many people already had qualifying health insurance coverage and did not need to do anything more than maintain their coverage.