November 2, 2016
Charitable contributions are only deductible if you itemize deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF), Itemized Deductions.
To be deductible, you must make charitable contributions to qualified organizations. Payments to individuals are never deductible. To determine if the organization that you have contributed to qualifies as a charitable organization for income tax deduction purposes, refer to our Exempt Organizations Select Check tool. For more information, see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions and Can I Deduct My Charitable Contributions?
You can deduct only the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit received if your contribution entitles you to merchandise, goods or services, including admission to a charity ball, banquet, theatrical performance, or sporting event.
For a contribution of cash, check or other monetary gift (regardless of amount), you must maintain as a record of the contribution a bank record or a written communication from the qualified organization containing the name of the organization, the amount, and the date of the contribution. In addition to deducting your cash contributions, you generally can deduct the fair market value of any other property you donate to qualified organizations. See Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property. For any contribution of $250 or more (including contributions of cash or property), you must obtain and keep in your records a contemporaneous written acknowledgment from the qualified organization indicating the amount of the cash and a description of any property contributed. The acknowledgment must say whether the organization provided any goods or services in exchange for the gift and, if so, must provide a description and a good faith estimate of the value of those goods or services. One document from the qualified organization may satisfy both the written communication requirement for monetary gifts and the contemporaneous written acknowledgment requirement for all contributions of $250 or more.
You must fill out Form 8283 (PDF), Noncash Charitable Contributions, and attach it to your return, if your deduction for a noncash contribution is more than $500. If you claim a deduction for a contribution of noncash property worth $5,000 or less, you must fill out Form 8283, Section A. If you claim a deduction for a contribution of noncash property worth more than $5,000, you will need a qualified appraisal of the noncash property and must fill out Form 8283, Section B. If you claim a deduction for a contribution of noncash property worth more than $500,000, you also will need to attach the qualified appraisal to your return.
Special rules apply to donations of certain types of property such as automobiles, inventory and investments that have appreciated in value. For more information, refer to Publication 526, Charitable Contributions. For information on determining the value of your noncash contributions, refer to Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property.
August 30, 2016
Home Energy Tax Credits Save You Money at Tax Time
Certain energy-efficient home improvements can cut your energy bills and save you money at tax time. Here are some key facts that you should know about home energy tax credits:
Non-Business Energy Property Credit
Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit
August 23, 2016
How Identity Theft Can Affect Your Taxes
Tax-related identity theft normally occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. Many people first find out about it when they do their taxes.
The IRS is working hard to stop identity theft with a strategy of prevention, detection and victim assistance. Here are nine key points:
August 23, 2016
Five Tips for Starting a Business
Understanding your tax obligation is one key to business success. When you start a business, you need to know about income taxes, payroll taxes and much more. Here are five IRS tax tips that can help you get your business off to a good start:
Employee Health Care. The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit helps small businesses and tax-exempt organizations pay for health care coverage they offer their employees. You’re eligible for the credit if you have fewer than 25 employees who work full-time, or a combination of full-time and part-time. The maximum credit is 50 percent of premiums paid for small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid for small tax-exempt employers, such as charities
August 23, 2016
Tax Effects of Divorce or Separation
If you are divorcing or recently divorced, taxes may be the last thing on your mind. However, these events can have a big impact on your wallet. Alimony and a name or address change are just a few items you may need to consider. Here are some key tax tips to keep in mind:
IRS Tax Tips provide valuable information throughout the year. IRS.gov offers tax help and info on various topics including common tax scams, taxpayer right and more.
June 22, 2016
Day camps are common during the summer months. Many parents enroll their children in a day camp or pay for day care so they can work or look for work. If this applies to you, your costs may qualify for a federal tax credit. Here are 10 things to know about the Child and Dependent Care Credit:
1. Care for Qualifying Persons. Your expenses must be for the care of one or more qualifying persons. Your dependent child or children under age 13 generally qualify.
2. Work-related Expenses. Your expenses for care must be work-related. In other words, you must pay for the care so you can work or look for work. This rule also applies to your spouse if you file a joint return. Your spouse meets this rule during any month they are a full-time student. They also meet it if they are physically or mentally incapable of self-care.
3. Earned Income Required. You must have earned income. Earned income includes wages, salaries and tips. It also includes net earnings from self-employment. Your spouse must also have earned income if you file jointly. Your spouse is treated as having earned income for any month that they are a full-time student or incapable of self-care.
4. Joint Return if Married. Generally, married couples must file a joint return. You can still take the credit, however, if you are legally separated or living apart from your spouse.
5. Type of Care. You may qualify for the credit whether you pay for care at home, at a daycare facility or at a day camp.
6. Credit Amount. The credit is worth between 20 and 35 percent of your allowable expenses. The percentage depends on your income.
7. Expense Limits. The total expense that you can use in a year is limited. The limit is $3,000 for one qualifying person or $6,000 for two or more.
8. Certain Care Does Not Qualify. You may not include the cost of certain types of care for the tax credit, including:
9. Keep Records and Receipts. Keep all your receipts and records for when you file taxes next year. You will need the name, address and taxpayer identification number of the care provider. You must report this information when you claim the credit on Form 2441, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
10. Dependent Care Benefits. Special rules apply if you get dependent care benefits from your employer.
Keep in mind this credit is not just a summer tax benefit. You may be able to claim it at any time during the year for qualifying care. IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses, provides complete details on all the rules.
June 1, 2016
Net Investment Income Tax
A 3.8 percent Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) applies to individuals, estates, and trusts that have net investment income above applicable threshold amounts.
In the case of an individual, the NIIT is 3.8 percent on the lesser of:
Estates & Trusts
In the case of an estate or trust, the NIIT is 3.8 percent on the lesser of:
Definition of Net Investment Income and Modified Adjusted Gross Income
In general, net investment income for purpose of this tax, includes, but is not limited to:
The NIIT does not apply to certain types of income that taxpayers can exclude for regular income tax purposes such as tax-exempt state or municipal bond interest, Veterans Administration benefits, or gain from the sale of a principal residence on that portion that is excluded for income tax purposes.
Modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), for purposes of the NIIT, is generally defined as adjusted gross income (AGI) for regular income tax purposes increased by the foreign earned income exclusion (but also adjusted for certain deductions related to the foreign earned income). For individual taxpayers who have not excluded any foreign earned income, their MAGI is generally the same as their regular AGI.
Reporting Net Investment Income Tax
Compute the tax on Form 8960 (PDF), Net Investment Income Tax—Individuals, Estates, and Trusts.
Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax
Taxpayers may need to increase their income tax withholding or estimated taxes to take into account any additional tax liability associated with the NIIT in order to avoid certain penalties. The IRS Withholding Calculator can be used to help determine necessary changes in withholding by your employer, or see our Estimated Taxes page for resources to help you recalculate those payments. See Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, for more information in either instance.
May 31, 2016
Under the tax law, certain tax benefits can significantly reduce a taxpayer’s regular tax amount. The alternative minimum tax (AMT) applies to taxpayers with high economic income by setting a limit on those benefits. It helps to ensure that those taxpayers pay at least a minimum amount of tax.
How Is the AMT Calculated?
The AMT is the excess of the tentative minimum tax over the regular tax. Thus, the AMT is owed only if the tentative minimum tax is greater than the regular tax. The tentative minimum tax is figured separately from the regular tax. In general, compute the tentative minimum tax by:
The law sets the AMT exemption amounts and AMT tax rates. Taxpayers can use the special capital gain rates in effect for the regular tax if they are lower than the AMT tax rates that would otherwise apply. In addition, some tax credits that reduce regular tax liability do not reduce AMT tax liability.
Am I Subject to the AMT?
To find out if you may be subject to the AMT, refer to the Form 1040 Instructions (PDF) and the Form 1040A Instructions (PDF). If you are filing Form 1040 (PDF), U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, you may use the AMT Assistant for Individuals tool. The AMT tool may tell you that you do not owe the AMT or it may direct you to Form 6251 (PDF), Alternative Minimum Tax - Individuals. If it directs you to Form 6251, you will have to complete that form to determine if you owe the AMT. After you have completed the Form 6251, review Who Must File in the Form 6251 Instructions (PDF), to determine if you must submit Form 6251 as an attachment to your Form 1040.
Am I Eligible for a Tax Credit?
If you are not liable for AMT this year, but you paid AMT in one or more previous years, you may be eligible to take a special minimum tax credit against your regular tax this year. If eligible, you should complete and attach Form 8801 (PDF), Credit for Prior Year Minimum Tax - Individuals, Estates, and Trusts, to claim the minimum tax credit.
May 30, 2016
Additional Medicare Tax
A 0.9% Additional Medicare Tax applies to Medicare wages, self-employment income, and railroad retirement (RRTA) compensation that exceed the following threshold amounts based on filing status:
This additional tax is used to help fund the Affordable Care Act tax provisions, including the Premium Tax Credit.
Combine Medicare wages and self-employment income to determine if income exceeds the threshold. Do not consider a self-employment loss for purposes of this tax. Compare Railroad retirement (RRTA) compensation separately to the threshold.
All Medicare wages, railroad retirement (RRTA) compensation, and self-employment income subject to Medicare Tax are subject to Additional Medicare Tax, if paid in excess of the applicable threshold for the taxpayer’s filing status. For more information on what wages are subject to Medicare Tax, see the chart on Special Rules for Various Types of Services and Payments in Section 15 of Publication 15, (Circular E), Employer’s Tax Guide.
No Special Rules if Living Abroad
There are no special rules for nonresident aliens or U.S. citizens and resident aliens living abroad for purposes of this provision. Medicare wages, railroad retirement (RRTA) compensation, and self-employment income earned by such individuals will also be subject to Additional Medicare Tax, if in excess of the applicable threshold for their filing status.
An employer is responsible for withholding the Additional Medicare Tax from wages or railroad retirement (RRTA) compensation it pays to an employee in excess of $200,000 in a calendar year, without regard to filing status. An employer must begin withholding Additional Medicare Tax in the pay period in which the wages or railroad retirement (RRTA) compensation paid to an employee for the year exceeds $200,000. The employer then continues to withhold it each pay period until the end of the calendar year. There is no employer match for Additional Medicare Tax.
Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax
Some taxpayers may need to request that their employer withhold an additional amount of income tax withholding on Form W-4 (PDF), Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, or make estimated tax payments to account for their Additional Medicare Tax liability.
Computing the Tax
Use Form 8959 (PDF), Additional Medicare Tax, to compute this tax, and report this tax and any Additional Medicare Tax withheld on Form 1040 (PDF), U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040NR (PDF), U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return, or Form 1040-SS (PDF), U.S. Self-Employment Tax Return (Including the Additional Child Tax Credit for Bona Fide Residents of Puerto Rico).
April 21, 2016
You may be tempted to forget about your taxes once you’ve filed but some tax planning done now may benefit you later. Now is a good time to set up a system so you can keep your tax records safe and easy to find. Here are some IRS tips to give you a leg up on next year’s taxes:
April 7, 2016
Tax Tips to Help You Determine if your Gift is Taxable
If you gave money or property to someone as a gift, you may wonder about the federal gift tax. Many gifts are not subject to the gift tax. Here are seven tax tips for gifts and the gift tax.
1. Nontaxable Gifts. The general rule is that any gift is a taxable gift. However, there are exceptions to this rule. The following are nontaxable gifts:
2. Annual Exclusion. For 2015, the annual exclusion is $14,000. Most gifts are not subject to the gift tax. For example, there is usually no tax if you make a gift to your spouse or to a charity. If you give a gift to someone else, the gift tax usually does not apply until the value of the gift exceeds the annual exclusion for the year.
3. No Tax on Recipient. Generally, the person who receives your gift will not have to pay taxes on it.
4. Gifts Not Deductible. Making a gift does not ordinarily affect your taxes. You cannot deduct the value of gifts you make (other than deductible charitable contributions).
5. Forgiven Debt and Certain Loans. The gift tax may also apply when you forgive a debt or give a loan that is interest-free or below the market interest rate.
6. Gift-Splitting. You and your spouse can give a gift up to $28,000 to a third party without making it a taxable gift. You can consider that one-half of the gift be given by you and one-half by your spouse.
7. Filing Requirement. You must file Form 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, if any of the following apply:
April 5, 2016
Tip Income; How It Affects Your Taxes
If you get income from tips, you should know some things about tips and taxes. Here are a few tips from the IRS to help you file and report your tip income correctly:
For more on this topic, see Publication 531, Reporting Tip Income. You can get it on IRS.gov.
April 1, 2016
If you use your home for business, you may be able to deduct expenses for the business use of your home. If you qualify, you can claim the deduction whether you rent or own your home. You may use either the simplified method or the regular method to claim your deduction. Here are six tips that you should know about the home office deduction:
1. Regular and Exclusive Use. As a general rule, you must use a part of your home regularly and exclusively for business purposes. The part of your home used for business must also be:
2. Simplified Option. If you use the simplified option, multiply the allowable square footage of your office by a rate of $5. The maximum footage allowed is 300 square feet. This option will save you time because it simplifies how you figure and claim the deduction. It will also make it easier for you to keep records. This option does not change the rules for claiming a home office deduction.
3. Regular Method. This method includes certain costs that you paid for your home. For example, if you rent your home, part of the rent you paid may qualify. If you own your home, part of the mortgage interest, taxes and utilities you paid may qualify. The amount you can deduct usually depends on the percentage of your home used for business.
4. Deduction Limit. If your gross income from the business use of your home is less than your expenses, the deduction for some expenses may be limited.
5. Self-Employed. If you are self-employed and choose the regular method, use Form 8829, Expenses for Business Use of Your Home, to figure the amount you can deduct. You can claim your deduction using either method on Schedule C, Profit or Loss From Business. See the Schedule C instructions for how to report your deduction.
6. Employees. You must meet additional rules to claim the deduction if you are an employee. For example, your business use must also be for the convenience of your employer. If you qualify, you claim the deduction on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions.
March 31, 2016
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.
Refer to IRS Publication 929, Tax Rules for Children and Dependents. You can get related forms and publications on IRS.gov.
March 30, 2016
Find Out How ACA affects Employers with 50 or More Employees
Some of the provisions of the health care law apply only to large employers, which are generally those with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees. These employers are applicable large employers – also known as ALEs – and are subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions.
Applicable large employers have annual reporting responsibilities concerning whether and what health insurance they offered to their full-time employees during the prior year. In 2016, the deadline to provide Forms 1095-C to full-time employees is March 31. The deadline by which ALEs must file information returns with the IRS is no later than May 31 or June 30 if filed electronically.
All employers, regardless of size, that provide self-insured health coverage must file an annual return reporting certain information for individuals they cover. In 2016, the deadline by which self-insured ALEs must provide Forms 1095-C to responsible individuals is March 31. The returns with 2015 information are due no later than May 31 or June 30 if filed electronically.
Employer Shared Responsibility Payment
ALEs are subject to the employer shared responsibility payment if at least one full-time employee receives the premium tax credit and any one these conditions apply. The ALE:
Employers with more than 50 cannot purchase health insurance coverage for its employees through the Small Business Health Options Program – better known as the SHOP Marketplace. However, Employers that have exactly 50 employees can purchase coverage for their employees through the SHOP.
March 30, 2016
The April 18 tax deadline is coming up. If you need more time to file your taxes, you can get an automatic six-month extension from the IRS. Here are five things to know about filing an extension:
1. Use IRS Free File to file an extension. You can use IRS Free File to e-file your extension request for free. Free File is only available through IRS.gov. You must e-file the extension request by midnight April 18. If you do request an extension, come back to Free File to prepare and e-file your taxes for free. You can access the program at any time through Oct. 17.
2. Use Form 4868. You can also request an extension by filling out Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. You must mail this form to the IRS by April 18. Form 4868 is available on IRS.gov/forms.
3. More time to file is not more time to pay. An extension to file will give you until Oct. 17 to file your taxes. It does not, however, give you more time to pay your taxes. Estimate and pay what you owe by April 18 to avoid a potential late filing penalty. You will be charged interest on any tax that you don’t pay on time. You may also owe a penalty if you pay your tax late. Interest is normally charged on any unpaid tax.
4. IRS Direct Pay. Pay your tax with IRS Direct Pay. Visit IRS.gov/directpay to use this free and secure way to pay from your checking or savings account. You also have other electronic payment options. The IRS will automatically process your extension – and you don’t have to file a separate request -- when you pay electronically. You can pay online or by phone.
5. IRS helps if you can’t pay all you owe. If you can’t pay all the tax you owe, the IRS offers you payment options. In most cases, you can apply for an installment agreement with the Online Payment Agreement application on IRS.gov. You may also file Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request. If you can’t make payments because of financial hardship, the IRS will work with you.
March 29, 2016
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 six 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:
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.
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.
6. IRS Free File. Most people qualify to use free, brand-name software to prepare and e-file their federal tax returns with IRS Free File. Free File software will help you determine if you can deduct your expenses. It will do the math, fill out the forms and e-file your return – all for free. Check your other e-file options if you can’t use Free File.
March 28, 2016
Did you receive income from a foreign source in 2015? Are you a U.S. citizen or resident who worked abroad last year? If you answered ‘yes’ to either of those questions, here are eight tips to keep in mind about foreign income:
1. Report Worldwide Income. By law, U.S. citizens and residents must report their worldwide income. This includes income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and securities accounts.
2. File Required Tax Forms. You may need to file Schedule B, Interest and Ordinary Dividends, with your U.S. tax return. You may also need to file Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets. In some cases, you may need to file FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts. Visit IRS.gov for more information.
3. Review the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. If you live and work abroad, you may be able to claim the foreign earned income exclusion. If you qualify, you won’t pay tax on up to $100,800 of your wages and other foreign earned income in 2015. See Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income, or Form 2555-EZ, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, for more details.
4. Don’t Overlook Credits and Deductions. You may be able to take a tax credit or a deduction for income taxes paid to a foreign country. These benefits can reduce your taxes if both countries tax the same income.
5. Additional Child Tax Credit. You cannot claim the additional child tax credit if you file Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income, or 2555-EZ, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.
6. Use IRS Free File. Almost everyone can prepare and e-file their federal tax returns for free, using IRS Free File. If you make $62,000 or less, you can use brand-name tax software. If you earn more, you can use Free File Fillable Forms, an electronic version of IRS paper forms. Some Free File software products and fillable forms also support foreign addresses. Free File is available only through IRS.gov.
7. Tax Filing Extension is Available. If you live outside the U.S. and can’t file your tax return by the April 18 due date, you may qualify for an automatic two-month extension until June 15. This extension also applies to those serving in the U.S. military abroad. You will need to attach a statement to your tax return explaining why you qualify for the extension.
8. Get IRS Tax Help. Check the international services site for the types of help the IRS provides, including how to contact your local office internationally. All IRS tax tools and products are available at IRS.gov.
March 25, 2016
The IRS urges you to file on time even if you can’t pay what you owe. This saves you from potentially paying a penalty for a late filed return.
Here is what to do if you can’t pay all your taxes by the due date.
1. File on time and pay as much as you can. You can pay online, by phone, or by check or money order. Visit IRS.gov for electronic payment options.
2. Get a loan or use a credit card to pay your tax. The interest and fees charged by a bank or credit card company may be less than IRS interest and penalties. For credit card options, see IRS.gov.
3. Use the Online Payment Agreement tool. You don’t need to wait for IRS to send you a bill before you ask for a payment plan. The best way is to use the Online Payment Agreement tool on IRS.gov. You can also file Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, with your tax return. You can even set up a direct debit agreement. With this type of payment plan, you won’t have to write a check and mail it on time each month.
4. Don’t ignore a tax bill. If you get a bill, don’t ignore it. The IRS may take collection action if you ignore the bill. Contact the IRS right away to talk about your options. If you are suffering financial hardship, the IRS will work with you.
5. File to reconcile Advance Payments of the Premium Tax Credit. You must file a tax return and submit Form 8962 to reconcile advance payments of the premium tax credit with the actual premium tax credit to which you are entitled. You will need Form 1095-A from the Marketplace to complete Form 8962. Failure to reconcile your advance payments of the premium tax credit on Form 8962 may make you ineligible to receive future advance payments.
March 24, 2016
If you gave money or goods to a charity in 2015, you may be able to claim a deduction on your federal tax return. Here are six important facts you should know about charitable donations.
1. Qualified Charities. You must donate to a qualified charity. Gifts to individuals, political organizations or candidates are not deductible. An exception to this rule is contributions under the Slain Officer Family Support Act of 2015. To check the status of a charity, use the IRS Select Check tool.
2. Itemize Deductions. To deduct your contributions, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions. File Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, with your federal tax return.
3. Benefit in Return. If you get something in return for your donation, you may have to reduce your deduction. You can only deduct the amount of your gift that is more than the value of what you got in return. Examples of benefits include merchandise, meals, tickets to an event or other goods and services.
4. Type of Donation. If you give property instead of cash, your deduction amount is normally limited to the item’s fair market value. Fair market value is generally the price you would get if you sold the property on the open market. If you donate used clothing and household items, they generally must be in good condition, or better, to be deductible. Special rules apply to cars, boats and other types of property donations.
5. Form to File and Records to Keep. You must file Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, for all noncash gifts totaling more than $500 for the year. If you need to prepare a Form 8283, you can prepare and e-file your tax return for free using IRS Free File. The type of records you must keep depends on the amount and type of your donation. To learn more about what records to keep see Publication 526.
6. Donations of $250 or More. If you donated cash or goods of $250 or more, you must have a written statement from the charity. It must show the amount of the donation and a description of any property given. It must also say whether you received any goods or services in exchange for the gift.
March 23, 2016
Bartering Produces Taxable Income and Reporting Requirements
Bartering is the trading of one product or service for another. Often there is no exchange of cash. Some businesses barter to get products or services they need. For example, a gardener might trade landscape work with a plumber for plumbing work.
If you barter, you should know that the value of products or services from bartering is normally taxable income. This is true even if you are not in business.
A few facts about bartering:
Go to the Bartering Tax Center on IRS.gov for more information.
March 16, 2016
You may not know about the Alternative Minimum Tax because you’ve never had to pay it before. However, your income may have changed and you may have to pay it this year. The AMT is an income tax imposed at nearly a flat rate on an adjusted amount of taxable income above a certain threshold. If you have a higher income, you may be subject to the AMT.
Here are five things you should know about the AMT:
1. Know when the AMT applies. You may have to pay the AMT if your taxable income, plus certain adjustments, is more than your AMT exemption amount. Your filing status and income define the amount of your exemption. In most cases, if your income is below this amount, you will not owe the AMT.
2. Know exemption amounts. The 2015 AMT exemption amounts are:
• $53,600 if you are Single or Head of Household.
• $83,400 if you are Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er).
• $41,700 if you are Married Filing Separately.
You will reduce your AMT exemption if your income is more than a certain amount.
3. Use IRS e-file. Keep in mind that the AMT rules are complex. The easiest way to prepare and file your tax return is to use IRS e-file. The tax software will figure the AMT for you, if you owe the tax.
4. Try the tool. Use the AMT Assistant tool on IRS.gov to find out if you need to pay the tax.
5. Use the right forms. Usually, if you owe the AMT, you must file Form 6251, Alternative Minimum Tax – Individuals. Some taxpayers who owe the AMT can file Form 1040A and use the AMT Worksheet in the instructions.
March 14, 2016
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:
March 11, 2016
Don’t overlook the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. It can reduce the taxes you pay. Here are 10 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.
10. IRS Free File. You can use IRS Free File to prepare and e-file your federal tax return, including Form 2441, Child and Dependent Care Expenses, for free. Free File is the fastest and easiest way to file your tax return and it’s only available at IRS.gov/freefile.
March 9, 2016
Under the Affordable Care Act, certain employers – known as applicable large employers or ALEs – may potentially be required to make an employer shared responsibility payment to the IRS if they do not offer health coverage that is “affordable” and that provides “minimum value” to full-time employees and their dependents.
Employers that are subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions have new information reporting responsibilities that require them to report information about health coverage offered to each full-time employee, or to report that the ALE didn’t offer coverage to the full-time employee. This includes the requirement to send information statements to full-time employees and to the IRS on new forms. This information will help the IRS determine whether an employer shared responsibility payment applies to the ALE and is also used in determining eligibility for the premium tax credit for the full-time employee and his or her family.
In addition, all employers that sponsor self-insured health coverage – whether or not the employer is an ALE – have additional information reporting responsibilities that apply to health coverage providers. Under this requirement, an employer that sponsors a self-insured plan must report information about employees and their dependents who enroll in the coverage, whether or not the employee is a full-time employee. The IRS will use the information reporting by health coverage providers to verify the months of the individual’s coverage for purposes of the individual shared responsibility provision.
An employer determines whether it is an ALE for a specific calendar year based upon the size of the employer’s workforce in the previous year. For instance, an employer is an ALE for 2016, if it had an average of at least 50 full-time employees – including full-time equivalent employees – during business days in 2015. Special rules exist for new employers and employers that have seasonal workers, and there is transition relief that applies for determining whether an employer is an ALE for 2015.
The new reporting requirements for employers first apply for coverage provided in 2015, and the reporting on 2015 coverage is due in 2016. The IRS recently extended the due dates for filing and furnishing the 2015 forms. Applicable large employers must file Form 1094-C, Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns, and Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage, with the IRS, no later than May 31, 2016, if not filing electronically, and no later than June 30, 2016, if filing electronically. They must also furnish a copy of Form 1095-C to each full-time employee by March 31, 2016. The IRS similarly extended the due dates for 2015 reporting by health coverage providers, and self-insured ALEs should use these same forms to meet their health coverage provider reporting obligations (for self-insured employers that aren’t ALEs see Notice 2016-4.
August 20, 2015
What is an ITIN?
An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. It is a nine-digit number that always begins with the number 9 and has a
range of 70-88 in the fourth and fifth digit. Effective April 12, 2011, the range was extended to include 900-70-0000 through 999-88-9999, 900-90-0000 through 999-92-9999 and
900-94-0000 through 999-99-9999. IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security
Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both resident and nonresident aliens may have a U.S. filing or reporting requirement under the Internal Revenue Code.
Individuals must have a filing requirement and file a valid federal income tax return to receive an ITIN, unless they meet an exception.
What is an ITIN used for?
ITINs are for federal tax reporting only, and are not intended to serve any other purpose. IRS issues ITINs to help individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws, and to provide a means to efficiently
process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for Social Security Numbers (SSNs).
An ITIN does not authorize work in the U.S. or provide eligibility for Social Security benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Who needs an ITIN?
IRS issues ITINs to foreign nationals and others who have federal tax reporting or filing requirements and do not qualify for SSNs. A non-resident alien individual not eligible for a SSN who is
required to file a U.S. tax return only to claim a refund of tax under the provisions of a U.S. tax treaty needs an ITIN.
Other examples of individuals who need ITINs include:
• A nonresident alien required to file a U.S. tax return
• A U.S. resident alien (based on days present in the United States) filing a U.S. tax return
• A dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen/resident alien
• A dependent or spouse of a nonresident alien visa holder
How do I know if I need an ITIN?
If you do not have a SSN and are not eligible to obtain a SSN, but you have a requirement to furnish a federal tax identification number or file a federal income tax return, you must apply for an
If you have an application for a SSN pending, do not file Form W-7. Complete Form W-7 only if the Social Security Administration (SSA) notifies you that a SSN cannot be issued.
To obtain a SSN, see Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. To get Form SS-5 or to find out if you are eligible to obtain a SSN, go to Social Security Administration or contact a SSA office. By law, an alien individual cannot have both an ITIN and a SSN.
IRS processes returns showing SSNs or ITINs in the blanks where tax forms request SSNs. IRS no longer accepts, and will not process, forms showing "SSA", 205c", "applied for", "NRA",& blanks, etc.
How do I apply for an ITIN?
Use the latest revision of Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to apply. Attach a valid federal income
tax return, unless you qualify for an exception, and include your original proof of identity or copies certified by issuing agency and foreign status documents.
Because you are filing your tax return as an attachment to your ITIN application, you should not mail your return to the address listed in the Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ instructions. Instead, send your return, Form W-7 and proof of identity and foreign status documents to:
Internal Revenue Service
Austin Service Center
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342
You may also apply using the services of an IRS-authorized Acceptance Agent or visit some key IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center in lieu of mailing your information to the IRS in Austin. Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) in the United States provide in-person help with ITIN applications on a walk-in or appointment basis. The IRS's ITIN Unit in Austin issues all numbers through the mail.
When should I apply for an ITIN?
You should complete Form W-7 as soon as you are ready to file your federal income tax return, since you need to attach the return to your application.
If you meet one of the exceptions to the tax filing requirement, submit Form W-7, along with the documents that prove your identity and foreign status. You are also required to include supplemental documents to substantiate your qualification for the exception, as soon as possible after you determine that you are covered by that exception.
You can apply for an ITIN any time during the year. However, if the tax return you attach to Form W-7 is filed after the return's due date, you may owe interest and/or penalties. You should file your current year return by the prescribed due date to avoid this situation.
Where can I get help with my ITIN application?
You can call the IRS toll-free at 1-800-829-1040 if you are in the United States. If you are outside the United States, call 267-941-1000 (not a toll-free number) for information and help in
completing your Form W-7 and your tax return or to check on the status of your application six weeks after submitting Form W-7.
Assistance is also available at selected IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers in the United States to provide in-person help with ITIN applications on a walk-in or appointment basis.You may also use the services of an IRS-authorized Acceptance Agent.
How and when can I expect to receive my ITIN?
If you qualify for an ITIN and your application is complete, you will receive a letter from the IRS assigning your tax identification number usually within seven weeks. If you have not received your ITIN or other correspondence seven weeks after applying, call the IRS toll-free number at 1-800-829-1040 to request the status of your application if you are in the United States. If you are outside the United States, call 267-941-1000 (not a toll-free number).