Friday, April 30, 2010

Tax-Free Employer-Provided Health Coverage Now Available for Children under Age 27

WASHINGTON — As a result of changes made by the recently enacted Affordable Care Act, health coverage provided for an employee's children under 27 years of age is now generally tax-free to the employee, effective March 30, 2010.

The Internal Revenue Service announced today that these changes immediately allow employers with cafeteria plans –– plans that allow employees to choose from a menu of tax-free benefit options and cash or taxable benefits –– to permit employees to begin making pre-tax contributions to pay for this expanded benefit.

IRS Notice 2010-38 explains these changes and provides further guidance to employers, employees, health insurers and other interested taxpayers.

“These changes give employers a unique opportunity to offer a worthwhile benefit to their employees,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “We want to make it as easy as possible for employers to quickly implement this change and extend health coverage on a tax-favored basis to older children of their employees.”

This expanded health care tax benefit applies to various workplace and retiree health plans. It also applies to self-employed individuals who qualify for the self-employed health insurance deduction on their federal income tax return.

Employees who have children who will not have reached age 27 by the end of the year are eligible for the new tax benefit from March 30, 2010, forward, if the children are already covered under the employer’s plan or are added to the employer’s plan at any time. For this purpose, a child includes a son, daughter, stepchild, adopted child or eligible foster child. This new age 27 standard replaces the lower age limits that applied under prior tax law, as well as the requirement that a child generally qualify as a dependent for tax purposes.

The notice says that employers with cafeteria plans may permit employees to immediately make pre-tax salary reduction contributions to provide coverage for children under age 27, even if the cafeteria plan has not yet been amended to cover these individuals. Plan sponsors then have until the end of 2010 to amend their cafeteria plan language to incorporate this change.

In addition to changing the tax rules as described above, the Affordable Care Act also requires plans that provide dependent coverage of children to continue to make the coverage available for an adult child until the child turns age 26. The extended coverage must be provided not later than plan years beginning on or after Sept. 23, 2010. The favorable tax treatment described in the notice applies to that extended coverage.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Health Care in Retirement? Check out NFS April Retirement Readings...
http://ping.fm/yqlwp

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

COBRA Subsidy Eligibility Period Extended to May 31

WASHINGTON — Workers who lose their jobs during April and May may qualify for a 65-percent subsidy on their COBRA health insurance premiums, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act established this subsidy to help workers who lost their jobs as a result of the recession maintain their employer sponsored health insurance.

The Continuing Extension Act of 2010, enacted April 15, reinstated the COBRA subsidy, which had expired on March 31. As a result, workers who are involuntarily terminated from employment between Sept. 1, 2008 and May 31, 2010, may be eligible for a 65-percent subsidy of their COBRA premiums for a period of up to 15 months. In some cases, workers who had their hours reduced and later lose their jobs may also be eligible for the subsidy.

Employers must provide COBRA coverage to eligible individuals who pay 35 percent of the COBRA premium. Employers are reimbursed for the other 65 percent by claiming a credit for the subsidy on their payroll tax returns: Form 941, Employers QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return, Form 944, Employer’s ANNUAL Federal Tax Return, or Form 943, Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return for Agricultural Employees. Employers must maintain supporting documentation for the claimed credit.

There is much more information about the COBRA subsidy, including questions and answers for employers, and for employees or former employees, on the COBRA pages of IRS.gov.

Some people who are eligible for the COBRA subsidy also qualify for the health coverage tax credit (HCTC) and may want to choose the more generous HCTC benefit, instead. The HCTC pays 80 percent of health insurance premiums for those who qualify. See more at HCTC: Eligibility Requirements and How to Receive the HCTC.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Estate Tax Still in Limbo

Houston gas pipeline mogul Dan Duncan was the 74th richest person in the world when he died on March 28. If he'd passed away three months earlier or ten months later, his $9 billion estate could have generated up to $4 billion for the IRS. But because there's no federal estate tax this year, the government gets nothing. Of course, that kind of money sitting on the table evokes the question of making the estate tax retroactive. Uncle Sam isn’t likely to want to pass on this. However, big estates mean big lawyers ready to fight to see those billions of dollars go to the deceased's heirs.

Most of the buzz early in the year seemed to suggest that Congress was heading back to the drawing board in 2010 with their sights set on fixing the Federal Estate Tax threshold somewhere very close to the 2009 numbers of a $3.5 Million exemption amount and a 45% tax rate. President Obama even used these figures as a baseline for his 2010 budget. Now it is almost May and nothing has been done. As the months pass, one wonders if Congress may leave it alone and let the law take care of the matter, re-instating the estate tax threshold in 2011 back to $1 Million and 55%, a sure way to generate income for Washington, and no one has to actually take the political heat for making a tough decision. After all, it’s not like they haven’t known this was coming for the last ten years!
 
Now is the time for you to consider reviewing your estate tax planning needs, no matter how old you are or what the size of your estate is currently. Life insurance, retirement accounts, trusts, wills and powers should all be reviewed and updated if need be. I can help you with this today!
 

Friday, April 23, 2010

Five Tips for Great Record-Keeping

There are many records you have that may help document items on your tax return. You’ll need this documentation should the IRS select your return for examination. Here are five tips from the IRS about keeping good records.

  1. Normally, tax records should be kept for three years.
  2. Some documents — such as records relating to a home purchase or sale, stock transactions, IRA and business or rental property — should be kept longer.
  3. In most cases, the IRS does not require you to keep records in any special manner. Generally speaking, however, you should keep any and all documents that may have an impact on your federal tax return.
  4. Records you should keep include bills, credit card and other receipts, invoices, mileage logs, canceled, imaged or substitute checks, proofs of payment, and any other records to support deductions or credits you claim on your return.
  5. For more information on what kinds of records to keep, see IRS Publication 552, Recordkeeping for Individuals, which is available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Did You Know That...Qualified Retirement Plans Tend to Discriminate AGAINST the Highly Compensated?

Did You Know That...Qualified Retirement Plans Tend to Discriminate AGAINST the Highly Compensated?
 
Click to read NFS April Business Briefs for more details - http://ping.fm/OILfD

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Don’t Panic! Eight Things to Know If You Receive an IRS Notice

The Internal Revenue Service sends millions of letters and notices to taxpayers every year. Here are eight things taxpayers should know about IRS notices – just in case one shows up in your mailbox.

  1. Don’t panic. Many of these letters can be dealt with simply and painlessly.
  2. There are a number of reasons why the IRS might send you a notice. Notices may request payment of taxes, notify you of changes to your account, or request additional information. The notice you receive normally covers a very specific issue about your account or tax return.
  3. Each letter and notice offers specific instructions on what you are asked to do to satisfy the inquiry.
  4. If you receive a correction notice, you should review the correspondence and compare it with the information on your return.
  5. If you agree with the correction to your account, then usually no reply is necessary unless a payment is due or the notice directs otherwise.
  6. If you do not agree with the correction the IRS made, it is important that you respond as requested. You should send a written explanation of why you disagree and include any documents and information you want the IRS to consider, along with the bottom tear-off portion of the notice. Mail the information to the IRS address shown in the upper left-hand corner of the notice. Allow at least 30 days for a response.
  7. Most correspondence can be handled without calling or visiting an IRS office. However, if you have questions, call the telephone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Have a copy of your tax return and the correspondence available when you call to help us respond to your inquiry.
  8. It’s important that you keep copies of any correspondence with your records.
For help working through one of these letters, please contact my office for help 800-560-4NFS. For more information about IRS notices and bills, see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process. Information about penalties and interest is available in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax for Individuals. Both publications are available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ten Facts about Amended Returns

You can make a change or an adjustment to a tax return you’ve already filed by filing an amended return. Here are the top 10 things the IRS wants you to know about amending your federal tax return.

  1. If you need to amend your tax return, use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
  2. Use Form 1040X to correct previously filed Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. The 1040X can also be used to correct a return filed electronically. However, you can only paper file an amended return.
  3. You should file an amended return if you discover any of the following items were reported incorrectly: filing status, dependents, total income, deductions or credits.
  4. Generally, you do not need to file an amended return for math errors. The IRS will automatically make the correction.
  5. You usually do not need to file an amended return because you forgot to include tax forms such as W-2s or schedules. The IRS normally will send a request asking for those documents.
  6. Be sure to enter the year of the return you are amending at the top of Form 1040X. Generally, you must file Form 1040X within three years from the date you filed your original return or within two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
  7. If you are amending more than one tax return, prepare a 1040X for each return and mail them in separate envelopes to the IRS campus for the area in which you live. The 1040X instructions list the addresses for the campuses.
  8. If the changes involve another schedule or form, you must attach it to the 1040X.
  9. If you are filing to claim an additional refund, wait until you have received your original refund before filing Form 1040X. You may cash that check while waiting for any additional refund.
  10. If you owe additional tax for 2009, you should file Form 1040X and pay the tax as soon as possible to limit interest and penalty charges. Interest is charged on any tax not paid by the due date of the original return, without regard to extensions.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Here’s What Happens After You File Your Tax Returns

Most taxpayers have already filed their federal tax returns, but many may still have questions. Here’s what the IRS wants you to know about refund status, recordkeeping, mistakes and what to do if you move.

Refund Information

You can go online to check the status of your 2009 refund 72 hours after IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return, or 3 to 4 weeks after you mail a paper return. Be sure to have a copy of your 2009 tax return available because you will need to know your filing status, the first Social Security number shown on the return, and the exact whole-dollar amount of the refund. You have three options for checking on your refund:

  • Go to IRS.gov, and click on "Where’s My Refund"
  • Call 1-800-829-4477 24 hours a day, seven days a week for automated refund information
  • Call 1-800-829-1954 during the hours shown in your tax form instructions

What Records Should I Keep?

Normally, tax records should be kept for three years, but some documents — such as records relating to a home purchase or sale, stock transactions, IRAs and business or rental property — should be kept longer.

You should keep copies of tax returns you have filed and the tax forms package as part of your records. They may be helpful in amending already filed returns or preparing future returns.

Change of Address

If you move after you filed your return, you should send Form 8822, Change of Address to the Internal Revenue Service. If you are expecting a refund through the mail, you should also file a change of address with the U.S. Postal Service.

What If I Made a Mistake?

Errors may delay your refund or result in notices being sent to you. If you discover an error on your return, you can correct your return by filing an amended return using Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Visit IRS.gov for more information on refunds, recordkeeping, address changes and amended returns.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

WASHINGTON –– With the April 15 tax filing deadline right around the corner, the Internal Revenue Service offers taxpayers who have not yet filed a few last-minute tips.


Don’t Miss the Deadline

If you have a balance due and don’t file a tax return by April 15, you face interest on the unpaid taxes as well as a failure-to-file penalty. Interest and penalties are added to your balance due. If you can’t file by the deadline, request an extension of time to file (see below).

If you file on time or request an extension but don’t pay all or some of the balance due by the deadline, you will incur interest on the unpaid amount and a failure-to-pay penalty. If you can’t pay the full amount, you should pay as much as possible by the deadline to minimize interest and penalties.

Get Recovery Tax Breaks

Last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created a full slate of tax breaks, which can be claimed on tax returns right now. These include:

  • The Homebuyer Credit
  • Making Work Pay Credit
  • American Opportunity Credit
  • Home Energy Credit
  • New Car Tax and Fee Deduction
You can get information on these and other Recovery credits at IRS.gov/recovery.

File Electronically

Most tax returns are now filed electronically – either from home using purchased tax software, by a tax professional or through Free File.

There are several reasons the IRS encourages taxpayers to file electronically. Here are two big ones:

E-file is accurate: Most available tax preparation programs check for errors and missing information, reducing the chances of delayed refunds or follow-up correspondence from the IRS.

E-file is fast: With most tax software, you can file a state tax return at the same time you file your federal return. Once a return is accepted for processing, the IRS electronically acknowledges receipt of the return. And refunds take only about half the time of a paper return. If you choose direct deposit, you will get your refund in even less time.


Choose Direct Deposit for Refunds

Whether you file electronically or on paper, your refund can be automatically deposited into the bank or financial account of your choosing. Direct deposit is faster than a paper check. If you e-file and use direct deposit, you will receive your refund even faster. Direct deposit is also more secure than a paper check since a direct deposit goes directly into your account and cannot be lost in the mail or stolen.

Split Refund: Refunds can be direct-deposited into as many as three different accounts. Most e-file and tax preparation software allow you to “split” your refund this way. Paper return filers need to file Form 8888, Direct Deposit of Refund to More Than One Account, to split a refund among two or three accounts.

Buy Savings Bonds: This year, for the first time, you can buy Series I U.S. Savings Bonds with your refund. Issued by the Treasury Department, a Series I bond is a low-risk investment that grows in value for up to 30 years.

Check for Errors

Tax software finds common errors on electronically prepared returns. However, if you file on paper, you can avoid delays in processing and follow-up questions from the IRS by:

  • Double-checking all figures
  • Ensuring Social Security numbers are correct
  • Signing forms where required
  • Attaching required schedules and forms
  • Mailing returns or request extensions by the April 15 filing deadline

Pay Electronically

Electronic payment options are safe and secure methods for paying taxes or user fees. You can pay online, by phone using a credit or debit card, or through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.

You may also pay by check made out to the “United States Treasury” using Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher, which must be included along with your tax return. If you have already filed but still need to pay all or some of your taxes, mail the check to the IRS with Form 1040-V.

Request an Extension of Time to File

If you can't meet the April 15 filing deadline, get an automatic six-month extension of time to file by filing Form 4868, Automatic Extension of Time to File. The form needs to be submitted by April 15.

There are several way you can request an extension, including Free File or Free File Fillable Forms, through your tax professional, with tax software you installed on your computer or on paper.

An extension pushes your filing deadline back to Oct. 15. However, an extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. If you owe taxes, you need to pay at the time you file the extension or face a non-payment penalty.

Apply for an Installment Agreement

If you can’t pay your entire balance due, an installment agreement will allow you to pay any remaining balance in monthly installments. If you owe $25,000 or less, you may apply for a payment plan using the Online Payment Agreement application or just attach Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, to the front of your return. You’ll need to list the amount of your proposed monthly payment and the date you wish to make your payment each month. The IRS charges $105 for setting up the agreement, or $52 if the payments are deducted directly from your bank account.

You will be required to pay interest plus a late payment penalty on the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month after the due date that the tax is not paid.

Help Is Available

Let me know if you need some last minute assistance - I am here to help!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Three Ways to Pay Your Federal Income Tax

People who owe taxes but can’t pay the full amount owed by the April deadline should still file their return on time and pay as much as they can to avoid penalties and interest. If you can’t pay the full amount, you should contact the IRS to ask about alternative payment options. Here are some of the alternative payment options you may want to consider:



  1. Additional Time to Pay Based on your circumstances, you may be granted a short additional time to pay your tax in full. A brief additional amount of time to pay can be requested through the Online Payment Agreement application at IRS.gov or by calling 800-829-1040. Taxpayers who request and are granted an additional 30 to 120 days to pay the tax in full generally will pay less in penalties and interest than if the debt were repaid through an installment agreement over a greater period of time.
  2. Installment Agreement You can apply for an IRS installment agreement using the Web-based Online Payment Agreement application on IRS.gov. This Web-based application allows taxpayers who owe $25,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interestto self-qualify, apply for, and receive immediate notification of approval. You can also request an installment agreement before your current tax liabilities are actually assessed by using OPA. The OPA option provides you with a simple and convenient way to establish an installment agreement and eliminates the need for personal interaction with IRS and reduces paper processing. You may also complete and submit a Form 9465, make your request in writing, or call 1-800-829-1040 to make your request. For balances over $25,000, you are required to complete a financial statement to determine the monthly payment amount for an installment plan. For more complete information see Tax Topic 202, Tax Payment Options on IRS.gov.
  3. Pay by Credit Card or Debit Card You can charge your taxes on your American Express, MasterCard, Visa or Discover credit cards. Additionally, you can pay by using your debit card. However, the debit card must be a Visa Consumer Debit Card, or a NYCE, Pulse or Star Debit Card. To pay by credit card or debit card, contact one of the service providers at its telephone number or Web site listed below and follow the instructions. There is no IRS fee for credit or debit card payments, but the processing companies charge a convenience fee or flat fee. If you are paying by credit card, the service providers charge a convenience fee based on the amount you are paying. If you are paying by debit card, the service providers charge a flat fee of $3.89 to $3.95.Do not add the convenience fee or flat fee to your tax payment.

The processing companies are:

Official Payments Corporation:
To pay by debit or credit card: 888-UPAY-TAX (888-872-9829),
www.officialpayments.com/fed

Link2Gov Corporation:
To pay by debit or credit card: 888-PAY-1040 (888-729-1040),
http://www.pay1040.com/

RBS WorldPay, Inc.
To pay by debit or credit card: 888-9PAY-TAX (888-972-9829),
http://www.payusatax.com/

For more information about filing and paying your taxes, visit IRS.gov and choose 1040 Central or refer to the Form 1040 Instructions or IRS Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax. You can download forms and publications at IRS.gov or request a free copy by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ten Last Minute Filing Tips

With the tax filing deadline close at hand, the IRS offers 10 tips for those still working on their tax returns:

  1. File Electronically Consider filing electronically instead of using paper tax forms. If you file electronically and choose to have your tax refund deposited directly into your bank account, you will have your money in as few as 10 days. Virtually everyone can prepare a return and electronically file it for free. For the second year, the IRS and its partners are offering the option of Free File Fillable Forms. Another option is Traditional Free File. About 98 million taxpayers – 70 percent of all taxpayers – are eligible for the IRS Traditional Free File.
  2. Check the Identification Numbers When filing a paper return carefully check the identification numbers — usually Social Security numbers — for each person listed. This includes you, your spouse, dependents and persons listed in relation to claims for the Child and Dependent Care Credit or Earned Income Tax Credit. Missing, incorrect or illegible Social Security numbers can delay or reduce a tax refund.
  3. Double-Check Your Figures If you are filing a paper return, you should double-check that you have correctly figured the refund or balance due.
  4. Check the Tax Tables If you are filing using the Free File Fillable Forms or a paper return you should double-check that you have used the right figure from the tax table.
  5. Sign your form You must sign and date your return. Both spouses must sign a joint return, even if only one had income. Anyone paid to prepare a return must also sign it.
  6. Mailing Your Return Use the coded envelope included with your tax package to mail your return. If you did not receive an envelope, check the section called "Where Do You File?" in the tax instruction booklet.
  7. Mailing a Payment People sending a payment should make the check out to “United States Treasury” and should enclose it with, but not attach it to the tax return or the Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher, if used. The check should include the Social Security number of the person listed first on the return, daytime phone number, the tax year and the type of form filed.
  8. Electronic Payments Electronic payment options are convenient, safe and secure methods for paying taxes. You can authorize an electronic funds withdrawal, or use a credit or a debit card. For more information on electronic payment options, visit IRS.gov.
  9. Extension to File By the April due date, you should either file a return or request an extension of time to file. Remember, the extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay.
  10. IRS.gov Forms and publications and helpful information on a variety of tax subjects are available around the clock at IRS.gov. Call my office you need assistance!!
 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Avoid Common Mistakes When Filing Your Tax Return

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers to review their tax returns for common errors that could result in delayed refunds. Here are some ways to avoid common tax return errors.

File electronically. If you e-file or Free File, tax software will do the calculations, flag common errors and prompt you for missing information.

Remember Making Work Pay. The Making Work Pay tax credit –– available in 2009 and 2010 –– is worth up to $400 for individuals and $800 for married couples. Most people got it as a reduction to their paycheck withholding. Form 1040 filers must complete Schedule M, attach it to their returns, and claim the credit to benefit from it. (Tax software handles these calculations automatically for e-filers.) Also, if you received the one-time Economic Recovery Payment, you need to reduce your Making Work Pay credit by that amount. Taxpayers who are not certain whether they received the economic recovery payment can find out with the help of an online tool, Did I Receive a 2009 Economic Recovery Payment? If you don’t have access to the IRS Web site, call 866-234-2942.

Claiming the Homebuyer Credit? If you claim the first-time homebuyer credit, complete Form 5405, and include it along with the settlement document, such as a HUD-1. More information is available on the homebuyer page.

Use the peel-off label if you mail a paper return. Paper filers may line through and make corrections right on the label. Be sure to fill in your Social Security number in the box provided on the return. If you do not have a peel-off label, fill in all requested information clearly, including Social Security numbers.

Check only one filing status. Also, check the appropriate exemption boxes. When you enter Social Security numbers, make sure they are correct.

Double check all figures. While software catches and prevents many errors on e-file returns, math errors remain common on paper returns.

Get the Right Routing and Account Numbers. Make sure the financial institution routing and account numbers you have entered on the return for direct deposit of your refund are accurate. Incorrect numbers can cause your refund to be delayed or deposited into the wrong account.

Sign and date the return. If you are filing a joint return, both you and your spouse must sign and date the return. E-filers can sign using a self-selected personal identification number (PIN).

Attach Forms To the Front of the Return. Paper filers need to attach W-2s and other forms that reflect tax withholding, as well as other necessary forms and schedules, to the front of their returns.

Do you owe tax? If so, a number of e-payment options are available. Or send a check or money order payable to the “United States Treasury.”
 
Let me Help!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Special Payroll Tax Exemption Form Now Available

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today released a new form that will help employers claim the special payroll tax exemption that applies to many newly-hired workers during 2010, created by the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act signed by President Obama on March 18.

New Form W-11, Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act Employee Affidavit, is now posted on IRS.gov, along with answers to frequently-asked questions about the payroll tax exemption and the related new hire retention credit. The new law requires that employers get a statement from each eligible new hire, certifying under penalties of perjury, that he or she was unemployed during the 60 days before beginning work or, alternatively, worked fewer than a total of 40 hours for anyone during the 60-day period. Employers can use Form W-11 to meet this requirement.

Most eligible employers then use Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, to claim the payroll tax exemption for eligible new hires. This form, revised for use beginning with the second calendar quarter of 2010, is currently posted as a draft form on IRS.gov and will be released next month as a final along with the form’s instructions.

Though employers need this certification to claim both the payroll tax exemption and the new hire retention credit, they do not file these statements with the IRS. Instead, they must retain them along with other payroll and income tax records.

The HIRE Act created two new tax benefits designed to encourage employers to hire and retain new workers. As a result, employers who hire unemployed workers this year (after Feb. 3, 2010, and before Jan. 1, 2011) may qualify for a 6.2-percent payroll tax incentive, in effect exempting them from the employer’s share of social security tax on wages paid to these workers after March 18. This reduction will have no effect on the employee’s future Social Security benefits, and employers would still need to withhold the employee’s 6.2-percent share of Social Security taxes, as well as income taxes. In addition, for each unemployed worker retained for at least a year, businesses may claim a new hire retention credit of up to $1,000 per worker when they file their 2011 income tax returns.

These two tax benefits are especially helpful to employers who are adding positions to their payrolls. New hires filling existing positions also qualify but only if the workers they are replacing left voluntarily or for cause. Family members and other relatives do not qualify for either of these tax incentives.

Businesses, agricultural employers, tax-exempt organizations, tribal governments and public colleges and universities all qualify to claim the payroll tax exemption for eligible newly-hired employees. Household employers and federal, state and local government employers, other than public colleges and universities, are not eligible. IRS.gov has more details.

Seven Things about Getting More Time to File your Tax Return

If you can't meet the April deadline to file your tax return, you can get an automatic six month extension of time to file from the IRS.

Here are seven things you need to know about filing an extension:

  1. Extra time to file An extension will give you extra time to get your paperwork to the IRS, but it does not extend the time you have to pay any tax due. You will owe interest on any amount not paid by the April 15 deadline, plus a late payment penalty if you have not paid at least 90 percent of your total tax by that date.
  2. File on time even if you can’t pay If your return is completed but you are unable to pay the full amount of tax due, do not request an extension. File your return on time and pay as much as you can. The IRS will send you a bill or notice for the balance due.To apply online for a payment agreement, go to IRS.gov and click “Online Payment Agreement Application” at the left side of the home page under Online Services. If you are unable to make payments, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to discuss your options.
  3. Form to file Request an extension to file by submitting Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return to the IRS by April 15, 2010, or make an extension-related electronic credit card payment. For more information about extension-related credit card payments, see Form 4868.
  4. E-file extension You can e-file an extension request using tax preparation software with your own computer or by going to a tax preparer who has the software. The IRS will acknowledge receipt of the extension request if you file by computer.
  5. Traditional Free File and Free File Fillable Forms You can use both Free File options to file an extension. Access the Free File page at IRS.gov.
  6. Electronic funds withdrawal If you ask for an extension via computer, you can also choose to pay any expected balance due by authorizing an electronic funds withdrawal from a checking or savings account. You will need the appropriate bank routing and account numbers.For information about these and other methods of payment, visit IRS.gov or call 800-TAX-1040 (800-829-1040).
  7. How to get forms Form 4868 is available for download at IRS.gov or may be ordered by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).You can also obtain the form at your local IRS office. Telephone requests normally take 10 days to fill.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

IRS Payment Options Include E-pay, Credit Card, Installment

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers to pay all taxes due by the April 15 deadline to avoid interest and failure-to-pay penalties.

Filing and Paying on Time Saves Money

If you have a balance due and do not pay by April 15, you are subject to a failure-to-pay penalty. If you cannot complete your return and file it by April 15, you may request an extension of time to file. However, an extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay.

If you cannot pay the full amount you owe, you will still benefit from filing your return and paying as much as you can by April 15 because interest and failure-to-pay penalties are due only on the unpaid balance.

Members of the military and some others currently serving in combat zones can wait until after April 15 to file and pay. Those eligible get the extra time penalty- and interest-free without having to ask for it. Normally, the filing and payment deadline is postponed until 180 days after the service member leaves the combat zone. Victims of recent natural disasters, listed on IRS.gov, also have extra time.

Electronic Options

A number of electronic payment options are available to taxpayers.

Payments can be made online, by phone using a credit or debit card or through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. Taxpayers who e-file their returns may use the electronic funds withdrawal option for submitting an electronic payment. It’s possible, for example, to e-file in February or March but schedule the payment for withdrawal as late as April 15.

Information on these options can be found on the Electronic Payment Options Home Page of IRS.gov.

Some taxpayers who itemize may now deduct the convenience fee charged for paying individual income taxes with a credit or debit card as a miscellaneous itemized deduction. The deduction is subject to the 2-percent limit on Form 1040, Schedule A.

Taxpayers may also pay any taxes by check made out to the “United States Treasury.” Include Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher, along with the payment and tax return. If you have already submitted your tax return but still need to pay all or some of the balance, you may mail the check to the IRS with Form 1040-V.

Installment Agreements and Online Applications

If you can’t pay in full by April 15, consider applying for an installment agreement.

An installment agreement allows you to pay any remaining balance in monthly pieces. Taxpayers who owe $25,000 or less may apply electronically, using the Online Payment Agreement application. Or attach Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, to the front of your tax return. You must show the amount of your proposed monthly payment and the date you intend to pay each month. The IRS charges $105 for setting up the agreement, or $52 if the payments are deducted directly from your bank account. Qualified lower-income taxpayers pay $43.

You will be required to pay interest plus a late payment penalty on the unpaid taxes for each month or partial month after the due date.

Offers in Compromise

This filing season the IRS has given its personnel additional flexibility on offers in compromise for struggling taxpayers. For some taxpayers, an offer in compromise, an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s debt for less than the full amount owed, is a viable option.

Specifically, IRS employees will be permitted to consider a taxpayer’s current income and potential for future income when deciding on an offer in compromise. Normally, the standard practice is to judge an offer amount on a taxpayer’s earnings in prior years. This new step provides greater flexibility when considering offers in compromise from the unemployed. The IRS may require that a taxpayer entering into such an offer agree to pay more if the taxpayer’s financial situation improves significantly.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Some Great Articles - NFS April Monthly Tax & Financial Newsletter
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Top Ten Things You Need to Know About Making Federal Tax Payments

Will you be making a payment with your federal tax return this year? If so, here are 10 important things the IRS wants you to know about making tax payments correctly.

  1. Never send cash!
  2. If you file electronically, you can file and pay in a single step by authorizing an electronic funds withdrawal via tax preparation software or a tax professional.
  3. Whether you file a paper return or electronically, you can pay by phone or online using a credit or debit card.
  4. Electronic payment options provide an alternative to paying taxes or user fees by check or money order. You can make payments 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit IRS.gov and search e-pay, or refer to Publication 3611, e-File Electronic Payments for more details.
  5. If you itemize, you may be able to deduct the convenience fee charged for paying individual income taxes with a credit or debit card as a miscellaneous itemized deduction on Form 1040, Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. The deduction is subject to the 2 percent limit.
  6. Enclose your payment with your return but do not staple it to the form.
  7. If you pay by check or money order, make sure it is payable to the “United States Treasury.”
  8. Always provide your correct name, address, Social Security number listed first on the tax form, daytime telephone number, tax year and form number on the front of your check or money order.
  9. Complete and include Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher, when sending your payment to the IRS. This will help the IRS process your payment accurately and efficiently.
  10. For more information, call 800-829-4477 for TeleTax Topic 158, Ensuring Proper Credit of Payments. You can also find out more in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax and Form 1040-V, both available at IRS.gov.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Tax Credit Helps Small Employers Provide Health Insurance Coverage

WASHINGTON ― Many small businesses and tax-exempt organizations that provide health insurance coverage to their employees now qualify for a special tax credit, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

Included in the health care reform legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, approved by Congress and signed by President Obama on March 23, the credit is designed to encourage small employers to offer health insurance coverage for the first time or maintain coverage they already have. In general, the credit is available to small employers that pay at least half the cost of single coverage for their employees.

“This credit provides a real boost to eligible small businesses by helping them afford health coverage for their employees,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We urge small businesses and tax-exempt employers to look closely at this important tax break - which is already effective - to see if they qualify.”

The maximum credit is 35 percent of premiums paid in 2010 by eligible small business employers and 25 percent of premiums paid by eligible employers that are tax-exempt organizations. In 2014, this maximum credit increases to 50 percent of premiums paid by eligible small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid by eligible employers that are tax-exempt organizations.

The credit is specifically targeted to help small businesses and tax-exempt organizations that primarily employ low and moderate income workers. It is generally available to employers that have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees paying wages averaging less than $50,000 per employee per year. Because the eligibility formula is based in part on the number of FTEs, not the number of employees, many businesses will qualify even if they employ more than 25 individual workers.

The maximum credit goes to smaller employers – those with 10 or fewer FTEs – paying annual average wages of $25,000 or less.

Eligible small businesses can claim the credit as part of the general business credit starting with the 2010 income tax return they file in 2011. For tax-exempt employers, the IRS will provide further information on how to claim the credit.

The IRS will use postcards to reach out to millions of small businesses that may qualify for the credit. The postcards will encourage small business owners to take advantage of the credit if they qualify.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Massachusetts/Rhode Island Severe Storm and Flooding Victims Have Until May 11 to File Their Tax Returns

Victims of severe storms and flooding beginning March 12 in Massachusetts & Rhode Island may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service.

The President has declared (MASS) Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk and Worcester counties federal disaster areas qualifying for individual assistance. Also, The President has declared (RI)Kent, Newport, Providence and Washington counties federal disaster areas qualifying for individual assistance.

As a result, the IRS is postponing until May 11 certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. This includes the April 15 deadline for filing 2009 individual income tax returns, making income tax payments and making 2009 contributions to an individual retirement account (IRA).

In addition, the IRS will waive the failure to deposit penalties for employment and excise deposits due on or after March 12 and on or before March 29, as long as the deposits were made by March 29.

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.

IRS computer systems automatically identify taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and apply automatic filing and payment relief. 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 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 are 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 May 11, 2010, 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 March 12, 2010, and on or before May 11, 2010.

The IRS also gives affected taxpayers until May 11, 2010, 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 (August 20, 2007), that are due to be performed on or after March 12 and on or before May 11.

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 deposits due on or after March 12, 2010, and on or before March 29, 2010, provided the taxpayer made these deposits by March 29, 2010.

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 “Massachusetts/Severe Storms and Flooding” 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 Web site, 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.
 
If you need any assistance with your filings, or have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Ten Things You Need to Know About Tax Refunds



Are you expecting a refund from the IRS this year? Here are the top 10 things you should know about your refund.

  1. Refund Options You have three options for receiving your individual federal income tax refund: a paper check, direct deposit or U.S. Savings Bonds. You can now use your refund to buy up to $5,000 in U.S. Series I savings bonds in multiples of $50.
  2. Separate Accounts You may use Form 8888, Direct Deposit of Refund to More Than One Account, to request that your refund be allocated by direct deposit among up to three separate accounts, such as checking or savings or retirement accounts. You may also use this form to buy U.S Savings Bonds.
  3. Paper Return Processing Time If you file a complete and accurate paper tax return, your refund will usually be issued within six weeks from the date it is received.
  4. Returns Filed Electronically If you filed electronically, your refund will normally be issued within three weeks after the acknowledgment date.
  5. Check the Status Online The fastest and easiest way to find out about your current year refund is to go to IRS.gov and click the “Where’s My Refund?” link at the IRS.gov home page. To check the status online you will need your Social Security number, filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund shown on your return.
  6. Check the Status By Phone You can check the status of your refund by calling the IRS Refund Hotline at 800–829–1954. When you call, you will need to provide your Social Security number, your filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of the refund shown on your return.
  7. Delayed Refund There are several reasons for delayed refunds. For things that may delay the processing of your return, refer to Tax Topic 303 at IRS.gov, which includes a Checklist of Common Errors When Preparing Your Tax Return.
  8. Larger than Expected Refund If you receive a refund to which you are not entitled, or one for an amount that is more than you expected, do not cash the check until you receive a notice explaining the difference. Follow the instructions on the notice.
  9. Smaller than Expected Refund If you receive a refund for a smaller amount than you expected, you may cash the check. If it is determined that you should have received more, you will later receive a check for the difference. If you did not receive a notice and you have questions about the amount of your refund, wait two weeks after receiving the refund, then call 800–829–1040.
  10. Missing Refund The IRS will assist you in obtaining a replacement check for a refund check that is verified as lost or stolen. If the IRS was unable to deliver your refund because you moved, you can change your address online. Once your address has been changed, the IRS can reissue the undelivered check.