Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Make Plans Now for Next Year’s Tax Return



Most people stop thinking about taxes after they file their tax return. But there’s no better time to start tax planning than right now. And it’s never too early to set up a smart recordkeeping system. Here are six IRS tips to help you start to plan for this year’s taxes:

1. Take action when life changes occur.  Some life events, like a change in marital status, the birth of a child or buying a home, can change the amount of taxes you owe. When such events occur during the year, you may need to change the amount of tax taken out of your pay. To do that, you must file a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, with your employer. Use the IRS Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov to help you fill out the form. If you receive advance payments of the premium tax credit it is important that you report changes in circumstances, such as changes in your income or family size, to your Health Insurance Marketplace.

2. Keep records safe.  Put your 2013 tax return and supporting records in a safe place. That way if you ever need to refer to your return, you’ll know where to find it. For example, you may need a copy of your return if you apply for a home loan or financial aid. You can also use it as a guide when you do next year's tax return.

3. Stay organized.  Make sure your family puts tax records in the same place during the year. This will avoid a search for misplaced records come tax time next year.

4. Shop for a tax preparer.  If you want to hire a tax preparer to help you with tax planning, start your search now. Choose a tax preparer wisely. You are responsible for the accuracy of your tax return no matter who prepares it. Find tips for choosing a preparer at IRS.gov.

5. Think about itemizing.  If you usually claim a standard deduction on your tax return, you may be able to lower your taxes if you itemize deductions instead. A donation to charity could mean some tax savings. See the instructions for Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, for a list of deductions.

6. Keep up with changes.  Subscribe to IRS Tax Tips to get emails about tax law changes, how to save money and much more. You can also get Tips on IRS.gov or IRS2Go, the IRS’s mobile app. The IRS issues tips each weekday in the tax filing season and three days a week in summer.

Remember, a little planning now can pay off big at tax time next year.

Additional IRS Resources:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ten Things to Know about IRS Notices and Letters



Each year, the IRS sends millions of notices and letters to taxpayers for a variety of reasons. Here are ten things to know in case one shows up in your mailbox.

1. Don’t panic. You often only need to respond to take care of a notice.

2. There are many reasons why the IRS may send a letter or notice. It typically is about a specific issue on your federal tax return or tax account. A notice may tell you about changes to your account or ask you for more information. It could also tell you that you must make a payment.

3. Each notice has specific instructions about what you need to do.

4. You may get a notice that states the IRS has made a change or correction to your tax return. If you do, review the information and compare it with your original return.

5. If you agree with the notice, you usually don’t need to reply unless it gives you other instructions or you need to make a payment.

6. If you do not agree with the notice, it’s important for you to respond. You should write a letter to explain why you disagree. Include any information and documents you want the IRS to consider. Mail your reply with the bottom tear-off portion of the notice. Send it to the address shown in the upper left-hand corner of the notice. Allow at least 30 days for a response.

7. You shouldn’t have to call or visit an IRS office for most notices. If you do have questions, call the phone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Have a copy of your tax return and the notice with you when you call. This will help the IRS answer your questions.

8. Keep copies of any notices you receive with your other tax records.

9. The IRS sends letters and notices by mail. We do not contact people by email or social media to ask for personal or financial information.

10. For more on this topic visit IRS.gov. Click on the link ‘Responding to a Notice’ at the bottom left of the home page. Also, see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process. You can get it on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Additional IRS Resources:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Unpaid Debt Can Affect Your Refund



If you owe a debt that’s past-due, it can reduce your federal tax refund. The Treasury Department’s Offset Program can use all or part of your refund to pay outstanding federal or state debt.

Here are five facts to know about tax refunds and ‘offsets.’

1. The Bureau of Fiscal Service runs the Treasury Offset Program.

2. Debts such as past due child support, student loan, state income tax or unemployment compensation may reduce your refund. BFS may use part or all of your tax refund to pay the debt.

3. You’ll receive a notice if BFS offsets your refund to pay your debt. The notice will list the original refund and offset amounts. It will also include the agency that received the offset payment and their contact information.

4. If you believe you don’t owe the debt or you want to dispute it, contact the agency that received the offset. You should not contact the IRS or BFS.

5. If you filed a joint tax return, you may be entitled to part or all of the refund offset. This rule applies if your spouse is solely responsible for the debt. To request your part of the refund, file Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation.

You can get forms on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Additional IRS Resources:

Tax Topic 203 - Refund Offsets

Friday, April 18, 2014

Trauma Care for Women Vets



"There is an educational need for trauma care training for organizations that support women veterans," noted Lucia Bruce at a Center for Continuous Learning class in Rockville, Md., on April 10. Bruce, regional administrator of the Women's Bureau in Philadelphia, collaborated with the Montgomery County, Md., Department of Health and Human Services and the Veterans Affairs Trauma Services to train 50 DHHS employees and staff from non-profit veterans' assistance organizations on trauma care for women veterans.

Read the Women's Bureau Traum Guide

Tips for Taxpayers Who Missed the Tax Deadline



If you missed the April 15 tax filing deadline, don’t panic. Here’s some advice from the IRS.

• File as soon as you can.  If you owe taxes, you should file and pay as soon as you can. This will help minimize the interest and penalty charges. There is no penalty for filing a late return if you are due a refund.

• IRS E-file is still available.  IRS e-file is available through Oct. 15. E-file is the easiest, safest and most accurate way to file your taxes. With e-file you receive confirmation that the IRS received your tax return. If you e-file and choose direct deposit of your refund, you’ll normally get it within 21 days.


• Pay as much as you can.  If you owe tax but can’t pay it all at once, try to pay as much as you can when you file your tax return. Pay the remaining balance as soon as possible to stop further penalties and interest.

• Make a payment agreement online.  If you need more time to pay your taxes, you can apply for a payment plan with the IRS. The easiest way to apply is to use the IRS Online Payment Agreement tool. You can also mail Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request. The tool and form are both available on IRS.gov.

• A refund may be waiting.  If you’re due a refund, you should file as soon as possible to get it. Even if you are not required to file, you may still get a refund. This could apply if you had taxes withheld from your wages or you qualify for certain tax credits. If you don’t file your return within three years, you could forfeit your right to the refund.

For more information, contact me (Ken Reid) at mastertype@mabspc.com..