What You Should Know about Children with Investment Income

From the IRS –

What You Should Know about Children with Investment Income

Special tax rules may apply to some children who receive investment income. The rules may affect the amount of tax and how to report the income. Here are five important points to keep in mind if your child has investment income:

1. Investment Income. Investment income generally includes interest, dividends and capital gains. It also includes other unearned income, such as from a trust.

2. Parent’s Tax Rate. If your child’s total investment income is more than $2,100 then your tax rate may apply to part of that income instead of your child’s tax rate. See the instructions for Form 8615, Tax for Certain Children Who Have Unearned Income.

3. Parent’s Return. You may be able to include your child’s investment income on your tax return if it was less than $10,500 for the year. If you make this choice, then your child will not have to file his or her own return. See Form 8814, Parents’ Election to Report Child’s Interest and Dividends, for more.

4. Child’s Return. If your child’s investment income was $10,500 or more in 2015 then the child must file their own return. File Form 8615 with the child’s federal tax return.

5. Net Investment Income Tax. Your child may be subject to the Net Investment Income Tax if they must file Form 8615. Use Form 8960, Net Investment Income Tax, to figure this tax.

Refer to IRS Publication 929, Tax Rules for Children and Dependents. You can get related forms and publications on IRS.gov.

Five Tips You Should Know about Employee Business Expenses

From the IRS –

Five Tips You Should Know about Employee Business Expenses

If you paid for work-related expenses out of your own pocket, you may be able to deduct those costs. In most cases, you can claim allowable expenses if you itemize on IRS Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. You can deduct the amount that is more than two percent of your adjusted gross income. Here are five other facts you should know:

1. Ordinary and Necessary.  You can only deduct unreimbursed expenses that are ordinary and necessary to your work as an employee. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry. A necessary expense is one that is appropriate and helpful to your business.

2. Expense Examples.  Some costs that you may be able to deduct include:

    • Required work clothes or uniforms not appropriate for everyday use.
    • Supplies and tools you use on the job.
    • Business use of your car.
    • Business meals and entertainment.
    • Business travel away from home.
    • Business use of your home.
    •  Work-related education.

This list is not all-inclusive. Special rules apply if your employer reimbursed you for your expenses. To learn more, check out Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions. You should also refer to Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift and Car Expenses.

3. Forms to Use.  In most cases, you report your expenses on Form 2106 or Form 2106-EZ. After you figure your allowable expenses, you then list the total on Schedule A as a miscellaneous deduction.

4. Educator Expenses.  If you are a K-12 teacher, you may be able to deduct up to $250 of certain expenses you paid in 2015. These may include books, supplies, equipment and other materials used in the classroom. You claim this deduction as an adjustment on your return, rather than an itemized deduction. For more on this topic see Publication 529.

5. Keep Records.  You must keep records to prove the expenses you deduct. For what records to keep, see Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax.

 

Many Retirees Face April 1 Deadline to Take Required Retirement Plan Distributions

From the IRS –

Many Retirees Face April 1 Deadline to Take Required Retirement Plan Distributions

IR-2016-48, March 28, 2016

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers who turned 70½ during 2015 that in most cases they must start receiving required minimum distributions (RMDs) from Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans by Friday, April 1, 2016.

The April 1 deadline applies to owners of traditional (including SEP and SIMPLE) IRAs but not Roth IRAs. Normally, it also applies to participants in various workplace retirement plans, including 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans.

The April 1 deadline only applies to the required distribution for the first year. For all subsequent years, the RMD must be made by Dec. 31. So, a taxpayer who turned 70½ in 2015 (born after June 30, 1944 and before July 1, 1945) and receives the first required distribution (for 2015) on April 1, 2016, for example, must still receive the second RMD by Dec. 31, 2016.

Affected taxpayers who turned 70½ during 2015 must figure the RMD for the first year using the life expectancy as of their birthday in 2015 and their account balance on Dec. 31, 2014. The trustee reports the year-end account value to the IRA owner on Form 5498 in Box 5. Worksheets and life expectancy tables for making this computation can be found in the appendices to Publication 590-B.

Most taxpayers use Table III  (Uniform Lifetime) to figure their RMD. For a taxpayer who reached age 70½ in 2015 and turned 71 before the end of the year, for example, the first required distribution would be based on a distribution period of 26.5 years. A separate table, Table II, applies to a taxpayer married to a spouse who is more than 10 years younger and is the taxpayer’s only beneficiary. Both tables can be found in the appendices toPublication 590-B.

Though the April 1 deadline is mandatory for all owners of traditional IRAs and most participants in workplace retirement plans, some people with workplace plans can wait longer to receive their RMD. Usually, employees who are still working can, if their plan allows, wait until April 1 of the year after they retire to start receiving these distributions. See Tax on Excess Accumulation  in Publication 575. Employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations with 403(b) plan accruals before 1987 should check with their employer, plan administrator or provider to see how to treat these accruals.

The IRS encourages taxpayers to begin planning now for any distributions required during 2016. An IRA trustee must either report the amount of the RMD to the IRA owner or offer to calculate it for the owner. Often, the trustee shows the RMD amount in Box 12b on Form 5498. For a 2016 RMD, this amount would be on the 2015 Form 5498 that is normally issued in January 2016.

IRA owners can use a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) paid directly from an IRA to an eligible charity to meet part or all of their RMD obligation. Available only to IRA owners 70½ or older, the maximum annual exclusion for QCDs is $100,000. For details, see the QCD discussion in Publication 590-B.

More information on RMDs, including answers to frequently asked questions, can be found on IRS.gov.

IRS Has Refunds Totaling $950 Million for People Who Have Not Filed a 2012 Federal Income Tax Return

From the IRS –

IRS Has Refunds Totaling $950 Million for People Who Have Not Filed a 2012 Federal Income Tax Return

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service announced today that Federal income tax refunds totaling $950 million may be waiting for an estimated one million taxpayers who did not file a federal income tax return for 2012. To collect the money, these taxpayers must file a 2012 tax return with the IRS no later than this year’s April tax deadline.

“A surprising number of people across the country overlook claiming tax refunds each year. But the clock is ticking for taxpayers who didn’t file a 2012 federal income tax return, leaving nearly $1 billion in refunds unclaimed,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We especially encourage students and others who didn’t earn much money to look into this situation because they may still be entitled to a refund. Don’t forget, there’s no penalty for filing a late return if you’re due a refund.”

The IRS estimates the midpoint for potential refunds for 2012 to be $718, with half being worth more than $718 and half being worth less.

In cases where a tax 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 the property of the U.S. Treasury. For 2012 tax returns, the window closes on April 18, 2016 (or April 19 for taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts). The law requires the tax return to be properly addressed, mailed and postmarked by that date.

The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2012 refund that their checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2013 and 2014. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS, or their state tax agency, and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts, such as student loans.

By failing to file a tax return, people stand to lose more than just their refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2012. Many low-and-moderate income workers may not have claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For 2012, the credit is worth as much as $5,891.   The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds. The thresholds for 2012 were:

  • $45,060 ($50,270 if married filing jointly) for those with three or more qualifying children,
  • $41,952 ($47,162 if married filing jointly) for people with two qualifying children,
  • $36,920 ($42,130 if married filing jointly) for those with one qualifying child, and
  • $13,980 ($19,190 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children.

Taxpayers who are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for the years 2012, 2013 or 2014 should request copies from their employer, bank or other payer.

Taxpayers who are unable to get missing forms from their employer or other payer should go to IRS.gov and use the  “Get a Transcript by Mail” button to order a paper copy of their transcript and have it sent to their address of record. Taxpayers can also file Form 4506-T to request a transcript of their tax return. Taxpayers can use the information on the transcript to file their return.

Individuals who did not file a 2012 return with a potential refund:

 

State or District Estimated

Number of

Individuals

Median

Potential

Refund

Total

Potential

Refunds*

Alabama 18,700 $713 $16,684,000
Alaska 4,700 $834 $5,019,000
Arizona 26,000 $631 $22,078,000
Arkansas 10,100 $692 $8,987,000
California 94,900 $656 $82,782,000
Colorado 19,300 $667 $16,961,000
Connecticut 11,800 $803 $11,511,000
Delaware 4,200 $771 $4,012,000
District of Columbia 3,600 $741 $3,343,000
Florida 64,700 $721 $58,598,000
Georgia 34,300 $642 $29,395,000
Hawaii 6,500 $740 $6,091,000
Idaho 4,400 $607 $3,652,000
Illinois 40,300 $782 $38,893,000
Indiana 22,000 $751 $20,448,000
Iowa 10,800 $764 $9,917,000
Kansas 11,000 $699 $9,811,000
Kentucky 13,500 $746 $12,122,000
Louisiana 20,600 $726 $19,767,000
Maine 4,100 $651 $3,432,000
Maryland 22,600 $722 $21,108,000
Massachusetts 20,600 $767 $19,714,000
Michigan 34,600 $733 $32,118,000
Minnesota 15,200 $657 $12,981,000
Mississippi 10,800 $646 $9,325,000
Missouri 22,800 $675 $19,886,000
Montana 3,500 $669 $3,083,000
Nebraska 5,400 $695 $4,720,000
Nevada 12,500 $704 $11,280,000
New Hampshire 4,400 $804 $4,284,000
New Jersey 30,600 $803 $30,016,000
New Mexico 7,700 $715 $7,181,000
New York 57,600 $796 $56,310,000
North Carolina 29,700 $619 $24,469,000
North Dakota 2,600 $831 $2,682,000
Ohio 37,300 $717 $33,321,000
Oklahoma 18,500 $744 $17,411,000
Oregon 15,700 $620 $12,820,000
Pennsylvania 40,200 $796 $38,243,000
Rhode Island 3,200 $777 $3,014,000
South Carolina 12,500 $633 $10,648,000
South Dakota 2,800 $785 $2,707,000
Tennessee 19,700 $702 $17,318,000
Texas 96,400 $771 $93,998,000
Utah 7,400 $640 $6,316,000
Vermont 2,000 $698 $1,689,000
Virginia 29,000 $698 $26,297,000
Washington 26,100 $764 $25,292,000
West Virginia 5,100 $800 $4,870,000
Wisconsin 12,900 $647 $10,837,000
Wyoming 2,700 $851 $2,908,000
Totals 1,037,600 $718 $950,349,000

 

* Excluding the Earned Income Tax Credit and other credits.

Consumer Alert: Scammers Change Tactics, Once Again

From the IRS –

Consumer Alert: Scammers Change Tactics, Once Again

IRS YouTube Video

WASHINGTON — Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, but now the IRS is receiving new reports of scammers calling under the guise of verifying tax return information over the phone.

The latest variation being seen in the last few weeks tries to play off the current tax season. Scam artists call saying they have your tax return, and they just need to verify a few details to process your return. The scam tries to get you to give up personal information such as a Social Security number or personal financial information, such as bank numbers or credit cards.

“These schemes continue to adapt and evolve in an attempt to catch people off guard just as they are preparing their tax returns,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Don’t be fooled. The IRS won’t be calling you out of the blue asking you to verify your personal tax information or aggressively threatening you to make an immediate payment.”

The IRS reminds taxpayers to guard against all sorts of con games that continually change. The IRS, the states and the tax industry came together in 2015 and launched a public awareness campaign called Taxes. Security. Together. to help educate taxpayers about the need to maintain security online and to recognize and avoid “phishing” and other schemes.

The IRS continues to hear reports of phone scams as well as e-mail phishing schemes across the country.

“These schemes touch people in every part of the country and in every walk of life. It’s a growing list of people who’ve encountered these. I’ve even gotten these calls myself,” Koskinen said.

This January, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) announced they have received reports of roughly 896,000 phone scam contacts since October 2013 and have become aware of over 5,000 victims who have collectively paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scam. Just this year, the IRS has seen a 400 percent increase in phishing schemes.

Protect Yourself

Scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via a phishing email. They’ve even begun politely asking taxpayers to verify their identity over the phone.

Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don’t get the money.

Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

Here are some things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam.

The IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you several bills.
  • Call or email you to verify your identity by asking for personal and financial information.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or email.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money or to verify your identity, here’s what you should do:

If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:

  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.

Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.

Still Time to Make Your IRA Contribution for the 2015 Tax Year

From the IRS –

Still Time to Make Your IRA Contribution for the 2015 Tax Year

Did you contribute to an Individual Retirement Arrangement last year? Are you thinking about contributing to your IRA now? If so, you may have questions about IRAs and your taxes. Here are some IRS tax tips about saving for retirement using an IRA:

  • Age Rules. You must be under age 70½ at the end of the tax year in order to contribute to a traditional IRA. There is no age limit to contribute to a Roth IRA.
  • Compensation Rules. You must have taxable compensation to contribute to an IRA. This includes income from wages and salaries and net self-employment income. It also includes tips, commissions, bonuses and alimony. If you are married and file a joint tax return, only one spouse needs to have compensation in most cases.
  • When to Contribute. You can contribute to an IRA at any time during the year. To count for 2015, you must contribute by the due date of your tax return. This does not include extensions. This means most people must contribute by April 18, 2016. If you contribute between Jan. 1 and April 18, make sure your plan sponsor applies it to the year you choose (2015 or 2016).
  • Contribution Limits. In general, the most you can contribute to your IRA for 2015 is the smaller of either your taxable compensation for the year or $5,500. If you were age 50 or older at the end of 2015, the maximum you can contribute increases to $6,500. If you contribute more than these limits, an additional tax will apply. The additional tax is six percent of the excess amount contributed that is in your account at the end of the year.
  • Taxability Rules. You normally don’t pay income tax on funds in your traditional IRA until you start taking distributions from it. Qualified distributions from a Roth IRA are tax-free.
  • Deductibility Rules. You may be able to deduct some or all of your contributions to your traditional IRA. See IRS Publication 590-A for more.
  • Saver’s Credit. If you contribute to an IRA you may also qualify for theSaver’s Credit. It can reduce your taxes up to $2,000 if you file a joint return. Use Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to claim the credit. You can file Form 1040A or 1040 to claim the Saver’s Credit.

What You Need to Know About the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit

From the IRS –

What You Need to Know About the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit

Don’t overlook the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. It can reduce the taxes you pay. Here are nine facts from the IRS about this important tax credit:

1. Child, Dependent or Spouse. You may be able to claim the credit if you paid someone to care for your child, dependent or spouse last year.

2. Work-Related Expense. The care must have been necessary so you could work or look for work. If you are married, the care also must have been necessary so your spouse could work or look for work. This rule does not apply if your spouse was disabled or a full-time student.

3. Qualifying Person. The care must have been for “qualifying persons.” A qualifying person can be your child under age 13. A qualifying person can also be your spouse or dependent who lived with you for more than half the year and is physically or mentally incapable of self-care.

4. Earned Income. You must have earned income for the year, such as wages from a job. If you are married and file a joint tax return, your spouse must also have earned income. Special rules apply to a spouse who is a student or disabled.

5. Credit Percentage / Expense Limits. The credit is worth between 20 and 35 percent of your allowable expenses. The percentage depends on the amount of your income. Your allowable expenses are limited to $3,000 if you paid for the care of one qualifying person. The limit is $6,000 if you paid for the care of two or more.

6. Dependent Care Benefits. If your employer gives you dependent care benefits, special rules apply. For more on these rules see Form 2441, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.

7. Qualifying Person’s SSN. You must include the Social Security number of each qualifying person to claim the credit.

8. Care Provider Information. You must include the name, address and taxpayer identification number of your care provider on your tax return.

9. Form 2441. You file Form 2441 with your tax return to claim the credit.

Nine Facts about the Adoption Tax Credit

From the IRS –

Nine Facts about the Adoption Tax Credit

If you adopted or tried to adopt a child in 2015, you may qualify for a tax credit. Here are ten things you should know about the adoption credit.

1. Credit or Exclusion. The credit is nonrefundable. This means that the credit may reduce your tax to zero. If the credit is more than your tax, you can’t get any additional amount as a refund. If your employer helped pay for the adoption through a written qualified adoption assistance program, you may qualify to exclude that amount from tax.

2. Maximum Benefit. The maximum adoption tax credit and exclusion for 2015 is $13,400 per child.

3. Credit Carryover. If your credit is more than your tax, you can carry any unused credit forward. This means that if you have an unused credit in 2015, you can use it to reduce your taxes for 2016. You can do this for up to five years, or until you fully use the credit, whichever comes first.

4. Eligible Child. An eligible child is an individual under age 18 or a person who is physically or mentally unable to care for themself.

5. Qualified Expenses. Adoption expenses must be directly related to the adoption of the child and be reasonable and necessary. Types of expenses that can qualify include adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees and travel.

6. Domestic or Foreign Adoptions. In most cases, you can claim the credit whether the adoption is domestic or foreign. However, the timing rules for which expenses to include differ between the two types of adoption.

7. Special Needs Child. If you adopted an eligible U.S. child with special needs and the adoption is final, a special rule applies. You may be able to take the tax credit even if you didn’t pay any qualified adoption expenses.

8. No Double Benefit. Depending on the adoption’s cost, you may be able to claim both the tax credit and the exclusion. However, you can’t claim both a credit and exclusion for the same expenses. This rule prevents you from claiming both tax benefits for the same expense.

9. Income Limits. The credit and exclusion are subject to income limitations. The limits may reduce or eliminate the amount you can claim depending on the amount of your income.

Tax Savings from Higher Education Costs

From the IRS –

Tax Savings from Higher Education Costs

Money you paid for higher education in 2015 can mean tax savings in 2016. If you, your spouse or your dependent took post-high school coursework last year, there may be a tax credit or deduction for you. Here are some facts from the IRS about key tax breaks for higher education.

The American Opportunity Credit (AOTC) is:

  • Worth up to $2,500 per eligible student.
  • Used only for the first four years at an eligible college or vocational school.
  • For students earning a degree or other recognized credential.
  • For students going to school at least half-time for at least one academic period that started  during or shortly after the tax year. Claimed on your tax return using Form 8863, Education Credits.

The Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) is:

  • Worth up to $2,000 per tax return, per year, no matter how many students qualify.
  • For all years of higher education, including classes for learning or improving job skills.
  • Claimed on your tax return using Form 8863, Education Credits.

The Tuition and Fees Deduction is:

  • Claimed as an adjustment to income.
  • Claimed whether or not you itemize.
  • Limited to tuition and certain related expenses required for enrollment or attendance at eligible schools.
  • Worth up to $4,000.

Additionally:

  • You should have receive Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, from your school by Feb. 1, 2016. Your school also sends a copy to the IRS.
  • You may only claim qualifying expenses paid in 2015.
  • You can’t claim either credit if someone else claims you as a dependent.
  • You can’t claim either AOTC or LLC and the Tuition and Fees Deduction for the same student or for the same expense, in the same year.
  • Income limits could reduce the amount of credits or deductions you can claim.

What to Do if You Don’t Receive Your Health Care Information Forms

From the IRS –

What to Do if You Don’t Receive Your Health Care Information Forms

This year, you may receive one or more forms that provide information about your 2015 health coverage; these forms are 1095-A, 1095-B and 1095-C. The IRS does not issue these forms and cannot provide you with a copy of any of these forms.

This tip provides guidance about what you should do if you are expecting to receive any of these forms, but do not have them by the time you are ready to file your tax return.

Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, provides you with information about your 2015 health care coverage if you or someone in your family enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Marketplace should have furnished Form 1095-A to you by February 1, 2016.

  • If you were expecting a form and did not get one, you should contact your Marketplace. Visit your Marketplace’s website to find out the steps you need to follow to get a copy of your Form 1095-A online. The IRS does not issue and cannot provide you with your Form 1095-A.
  • You should wait to file your 2015 income tax return until you receive this form.
  • Filing before you receive this form may delay your refund.  You need the information from Form 1095-A to complete Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit and file it with your tax return.
  • You can find more information about your Form 1095-A from the Marketplace.

Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, provides you with information about your health care coverage if you, your spouse or your dependents enrolled in coverage through an insurance provider or self-insured employer last year. Coverage providers should furnish Form 1095-B to you by March 31, 2016.

  • For questions about your Form 1095-B, contact the coverage provider. See line 18 of the Form 1095-B for a contact number. The IRS does not issue and cannot provide you with your Form 1095-B.
  • You might not receive a Form 1095-B by the time you are ready to file your 2015 tax return, and it is not necessary to wait for it to file.
  • The information on these forms may assist in preparing a return, and you, however you can prepare and file your return using other information about your health insurance.

Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Insurance, provides you with information about the health coverage offered by your employer.  In some cases, it may also provide information about whether you enrolled in this coverage. Employers that are required to issue Form 1095-C should furnish it to you by March 31, 2016.

  • For questions about your Form 1095-C, contact your employer. See line 10 of Form 1095-C for a contact number. The IRS does not issue and cannot provide you with your Form 1095-C.
  • You might not receive a Form 1095-C by the time you are ready to file your 2015 tax return, and it is not necessary to wait for it to file.
  • The information on these forms may assist in preparing a return. However you can prepare and file your return using other information about your health insurance.

Do not attach any Forms 1095 to your tax return.  Keep the health care information forms with your tax records.

For more information on these forms, see our Questions and Answers about Health Care Information Forms for Individuals.