IRS Tax News

  • 20 Dec 2011 3:29 PM | Anonymous

    If you are an employee, the Withholding Calculator can help you determine whether you need to give your employer a new  Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate to avoid having too much or too little Federal income tax withheld from your pay. You can use your results from the calculator to help fill out the form.

    Who Can Benefit From The Withholding Calculator?

    • Employees who would like to change their withholding to reduce their tax refund or their balance due;
    • Employees whose situations are only approximated by the worksheets on the paper W-4 (e.g., anyone with concurrent jobs, or couples in which both are employed; those entitled to file as Head of Household; and those with several children eligible for the Child Tax Credit);
    • Employees with non-wage income in excess of their adjustments and deductions, who would prefer to have tax on that income withheld from their paychecks rather than make periodic separate payments through the estimated tax procedures.

    CAUTION:    If you will be subject to alternative minimum tax, self-employment tax, or other taxes; or if any of your current jobs will end before the end of the year, you will probably achieve more accurate withholding by following the instructions in Publication 919, How Do I Adjust My Tax Withholding?

    Tips For Using This Program

    • Have your most recent pay stubs handy.
    • Have your most recent income tax return handy.
    • Estimate values if necessary, remembering that the results can only be as accurate as the input you provide.

    To Change Your Withholding:

    1. Use your results from this calculator to help you complete a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate.
    2. Submit the completed Form to your employer.

     

    Continue to the Withholding Calculator

  • 02 Dec 2011 9:45 AM | Anonymous
    The Affordable Care Act indicates that employers are now required to report the cost of employer-sponsored group health plan coverage on the Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. This new reporting requirement is for information only, to inform you about the cost of your health coverage. It does not mean that your employer-provided health care coverage is now subject to tax. Full story
  • 02 Dec 2011 9:44 AM | Anonymous
    If you adopted a child in 2011, you may be eligible for the Adoption Tax Credit. The Affordable Care Act raised the maximum adoption credit to $13,360 per child in 2011. The credit is refundable, meaning that, if eligible, you can get it even if you don’t owe tax for the year. Full story
  • 29 Nov 2011 3:03 PM | Anonymous
    Washington -The Internal Revenue Service today announced that interest rates will remain the same for the calendar quarter beginning Jan. 1, 2012. The rates will be:

    • three (3) percent for overpayments [two (2) percent in the case of a corporation];
    • three (3) percent for underpayments;
    • five (5) percent for large corporate underpayments; and
    • one-half (0.5) percent for the portion of a corporate overpayment exceeding $10,000.

    The 3 percent rate also applies to estimated tax underpayments for the first calendar quarter in 2012 and for the first 15 days in April 2012.

    Under the Internal Revenue Code, the rate of interest is determined on a quarterly basis. For taxpayers other than corporations, the overpayment and underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points. Generally, in the case of a corporation, the underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points and the overpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 2 percentage points.

    The rate for large corporate underpayments is the federal short-term rate plus 5 percentage points. The rate on the portion of a corporate overpayment of tax exceeding $10,000 for a taxable period is the federal short-term rate plus one-half (0.5) of a percentage point. Further, the federal short-term rate that applies during the third month following the taxable year also applies during the first 15 days of the fourth month following the taxable year.

    The interest rates announced today are computed from the federal short-term rate during October 2011 to take effect Nov. 1, 2011, based on daily compounding.

    Revenue Ruling 2011-32, announcing the rates of interest, is attached and will appear in Internal Revenue Bulletin No. 2011-52, dated Dec. 27, 2011.

  • 23 Nov 2011 9:44 AM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON -  The Internal Revenue Service is moving into the next phase of its effort to improve the tax preparation industry by launching the new Registered Tax Return Preparer competency test.

    The new competency test is part of a larger initiative to increase oversight of the tax preparation industry. Last year, the IRS required all paid tax return preparers to obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Those tax return preparers who currently have a valid PTIN and are required to take the new test will have until Dec. 31, 2013, to pass it.

    Preparers who pass the test and meet other requirements will be given a new designation: Registered Tax Return Preparer. In order to maintain that designation, the individuals must renew their PTINs annually and complete 15 hours of continuing education each year. Enrolled Agents, Certified Public Accountants, and attorneys, among others, are exempt from the new testing and education requirements. These professional groups already meet more stringent guidelines to obtain their professional credentials.

    “This is another major step forward in our effort to enhance tax preparation service to millions of taxpayers. People should feel assured that the person they hire to prepare their federal tax returns has a working knowledge of the tax code,” said Doug Shulman, IRS Commissioner. “The majority of tax return preparers are reputable professionals but the few bad apples cause great harm to taxpayers and the industry.”

    The fee for the competency test is $116, which includes the IRS portion of the fee and the fee for Prometric Inc., a third-party test vendor. The test covers preparation of the Form 1040 and its related schedules.  Test scheduling begins next week. Initial test takers won’t receive their test scores for two to six weeks to allow the IRS to validate the exam and determine the pass/fail cutoff. Once validation is complete, around mid-January, those taking the computer-based test will receive their scores at the test center immediately upon completing the test.

    Prometric will eventually administer the test at more than 260 centers nationally, but the test is not available at all locations currently. Test sites will be added daily and international locations may be added in the future.

    Over 750,000 tax return preparers have obtained PTINs. The IRS estimates that approximately 350,000 people may be initially subject to the Registered Tax Return Preparer test requirement.

    Fact Sheet 2011-12 provides additional details about the test, including which preparers are required to take it and how to schedule an appointment.

    Work on background check implementation plans continue

    The IRS continues to study the most appropriate ways for requiring certain tax return preparers to undergo a background check.  The background check is necessary to ensure tax return preparers have not engaged in disreputable conduct and are suitable for practice before the IRS.  The IRS will provide additional guidance concerning the background check in coming months.

    While the IRS continues to review the issues surrounding background checks, it will issue Registered Tax Return Preparer certificates to individuals who pass the Registered Tax Return Preparer test and a tax compliance check.  Individuals issued Registered Tax Return Preparer certificates may begin using the Registered Tax Return Preparer designation, but they still may be subject to additional background checks that the IRS may implement in the future.

    Special Enrollment Examination remains unchanged

    The process for individuals to become an Enrolled Agent remains unchanged.  Most Enrolled Agents have passed a comprehensive three-part IRS test (Special Enrollment Examination) covering individual and business standards and representation rules.  Enrolled Agents also must complete 72 hours of continuing education every three years.  Most Enrolled Agents have unlimited practice rights before the IRS, which means they can represent clients regarding any tax matter.

    The process for registering and taking the Special Enrollment Examination remains unchanged.  More information on the Registered Tax Return Preparer Competency Examination and the Special Enrollment Examination is available at www.IRS.gov/taxpros/tests.

    PTIN renewal season reminder

    All PTIN holders must renew their PTINs for the 2012 filing season by Dec. 31, 2011. The PTIN renewal fee for 2012 is $63. Return preparers who obtained their PTINs by creating an online account should renew their PTINs at www.IRS.gov/ptin.

  • 21 Nov 2011 12:58 PM | Anonymous

    The IRS reminds homeowners that they still have time this year to make energy-saving and green-energy home improvements and qualify for either of two home energy credits.

    The Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit is aimed at homeowners installing energy efficient improvements such as insulation, new windows and furnaces. The credit is more limited than in the past years, but can still provide substantial tax savings.

    • The 2011 credit rate is 10 percent of the cost of qualified energy efficiency improvements. Energy efficiency improvements include adding insulation, energy-efficient exterior windows and doors and certain roofs. The cost of installing these items does not count.

    • The credit can also be claimed for the cost of residential energy property, including labor costs for installation. Residential energy property includes certain high-efficiency heating and air conditioning systems, water heaters and stoves that burn biomass fuel.

    • The credit has a lifetime limit of $500, of which only $200 may be used for windows. If the total of nonbusiness energy property credits taken in prior years since 2005 is more than $500, the credit may not be claimed in 2011.

    • Qualifying improvements must be placed into service to the taxpayer’s principal residence located in the United States before January 1, 2012.

    Homeowners going green should also check out the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit, designed to spur investment in alternative energy equipment.

    • The credit equals 30 percent of what a homeowner spends on qualifying property such as solar electric systems, solar hot water heaters, geothermal heat pumps, wind turbines, and fuel cell property.
    • No cap exists on the amount of credit available except for fuel cell property.
    • Generally, labor costs are included when figuring this credit.

    Not all energy-efficient improvements qualify for these tax credits, so homeowners should check the manufacturer’s tax credit certification statement before they purchase. Taxpayers can normally rely on this certification statement which can usually be found on the manufacturer’s website or with the product packaging.
     
    Eligible homeowners can claim both of these credits on Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits when they file their 2011 federal income tax return. Because these are credits and not deductions, they reduce the amount of tax owed dollar for dollar. An eligible taxpayer can claim these credits regardless of whether he or she itemizes deductions on Schedule A.

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  • 11 Nov 2011 10:28 AM | Anonymous

    BALTIMORE - Victims of the earthquake that took place on Aug. 23, 2011 in parts of Virginia may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service.

    The President has declared Louisa County a federal disaster area. Individuals who reside or have a business in this county 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. 23, and on or before Oct. 31, have been postponed to Oct. 31, 2011. This includes previously obtained extensions to file 2010 returns and the estimated tax payment for the third quarter, normally due Sept. 15.  

    In addition, the IRS is waiving the failure-to-deposit penalties for employment and excise tax deposits due on or after Aug. 23, and on or before Sept. 7, as long as the deposits are made by Sept. 7, 2011.

    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 county 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 Oct. 31 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. 23 and on or before Oct. 31.

    The IRS also gives affected taxpayers until Oct. 31 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. 23 and on or before Oct. 31.

    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. 23 and on or before Sept. 7 provided the taxpayer makes these deposits by Sept. 7.

    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 “Virginia/Earthquake” 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.

    Related Information

  • 11 Nov 2011 10:13 AM | Anonymous

    The Virtual Small Business Workshop is available on CD and online if you are unable to attend a workshop in person.

    Small business workshops are designed to help the small business owner understand and fulfill their Federal Tax responsibilities. Workshops are sponsored and presented by IRS partners who are Federal Tax specialists. Workshop topics vary from a general overview of taxes to more specific topics such as recordkeeping and retirement plans. Although most are free, some workshops have fees associated with them. Any fees charged for a workshop are paid to the sponsoring organization, not the IRS.

    Small Business Webinars

    Workshops in Spanish ( Talleres en español)

    Small Business Tax Workshops

    If you live near a state line, please look for workshops in nearby cities of the bordering state.

    References/Related Topics

    • IRS Video Portal
      Contains video and audio presentations on topics of interest to small businesses, individuals and tax professionals. You will find video clips of tax topics, archived versions of live panel discussions and webinars.

    Rate the Small Business and Self-Employed Web Site

  • 08 Nov 2011 10:40 AM | Anonymous
    The EITC due diligence penalty jumps from $100 to $500, per failure to comply, on returns filed after December 31, 2011. Learn your how to meet your requirements and how to avoid penalties with the online EITC Due Diligence training module.
  • 02 Nov 2011 3:47 PM | Anonymous

    The Internal Revenue Service is providing special transitional relief to banks and other payment settlement entities required to begin reporting payment card and third-party network transactions to the IRS on new Form 1099-K.

    By law, reporting is scheduled to begin in early 2012 for payment card and third-party network transactions that occurred in 2011. Details on the special transitional relief and reporting requirements are in these FAQs, and more information on this relief is in Notice 2011-88 and Notice 2011-89.

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