Friday, February 28, 2014

Are Your Social Security Benefits Taxable?

Some people must pay taxes on part of their Social Security benefits. Others find that their benefits aren’t taxable. If you get Social Security, the IRS can help you determine if some of your benefits are taxable.

Here are seven tips about how Social Security affects your taxes:

1. If you received these benefits in 2013, you should have received a Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, showing the amount.

2. If Social Security was your only source of income in 2013, your benefits may not be taxable. You also may not need to file a federal income tax return.

3. If you get income from other sources, then you may have to pay taxes on some of your benefits.

4. Your income and filing status affect whether you must pay taxes on your Social Security.

5. The best, and free, way to find out if your benefits are taxable is to use IRS Free File to prepare and e-file your tax return. If you made $58,000 or less, you can use Free File tax software. The software will figure the taxable benefits for you. If your income was more than $58,000 and you feel comfortable doing your own taxes, use Free File Fillable Forms. Free File is available only at

6. If you file a paper return, visit and use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool to see if any of your benefits are taxable.

7. A quick way to find out if any of your benefits may be taxable is to add one-half of your Social Security benefits to all your other income, including any tax-exempt interest. Next, compare this total to the base amounts below. If your total is more than the base amount for your filing status, then some of your benefits may be taxable. The three base amounts are:
  • $25,000 - for single, head of household, qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child or married individuals filing separately who did not live with their spouse at any time during the year
  • $32,000 -for married couples filing jointly
  • $0 - for married persons filing separately who lived together at any time during the year
For more on this topic visit

Additional IRS Resources:
  • Publication 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits
  • Tax Topic 423 - Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Affordable Care Act – Individuals

The Health Insurance Marketplace - Learn about Your Health Insurance Coverage Options

If you don’t have coverage or if you have it but want to find out about other options; help is available at the Health Insurance Marketplace. While no one is required to use the Marketplace, if you need insurance, it may be right for you. The Marketplace is where you can find health insurance coverage options that fit your budget and meet your needs.

The Department of Health and Human Services administers the requirements for the Marketplace and the health plans they offer.

An open enrollment period to get coverage for 2014 through the Marketplace began on October 1, 2013 and runs through March 31, 2014. The start of your coverage depends upon when you enroll.
When you visit the Marketplace, you can fill out one Marketplace application to learn if you can get lower costs based on your income, compare your coverage options side-by-side, and if you choose, you can enroll in health insurance coverage.

If you purchase coverage through the Marketplace, you may be eligible for the premium tax credit. This refundable tax credit helps people with moderate incomes afford health insurance coverage they purchase through the Marketplace.

If you are eligible for the credit, you can choose to “get it now” by having some or all of the credit paid in advance.  These payments go directly to your insurance company to lower what you pay out-of-pocket for your monthly premiums during 2014.  Or you “get it later” by waiting to  get the credit when you file your 2014 tax return in 2015.

For more information about your coverage options, financial assistance and the Marketplace, visit Find out more about the premium tax credit, as well as other tax-related provisions of the health care law at

IRS Reminds Individuals of Health Care Choices for 2014

Everyone has important decisions to make concerning health care coverage in 2014.  Starting in 2014, you must choose to either have basic health insurance coverage (known as minimum essential coverage) for yourself and everyone in your family for each month or go without health care coverage for some or all of the year.

If you don’t maintain health insurance coverage, you will need to either seek an exemption or make an individual shared responsibility payment for the period that you are not covered with the 2014 income tax return you file in 2015.

If you choose to have health care coverage, qualifying coverage includes:
  • health insurance coverage provided by your employer (including COBRA and retiree coverage),
  • health insurance coverage you purchase through a Marketplace,
  • Medicare, Medicaid or other government-sponsored health coverage including programs for veterans, or
  • coverage you buy directly from an insurance company.
If you purchase health insurance coverage through the Marketplace, you may be eligible for financial assistance including the premium tax credit, which will help lower the out-of-pocket cost of your monthly insurance premiums.

Qualifying coverage does not include certain coverage that may provide limited benefits, such as coverage only for vision care or dental care, workers’ compensation, or coverage only for a specific disease or condition.

If you choose to go without coverage or experience a gap in coverage, you may qualify for an exemption if you do not have access to affordable coverage, you have a gap of less than three consecutive months without coverage, or you qualify for one of several other exemptions.  A special hardship exemption applies to individuals who purchase their insurance through the Marketplace during the initial enrollment period but due to the enrollment process have a coverage gap at the beginning of 2014.

If you (or any of your dependents) do not maintain coverage and do not qualify for an exemption, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment with your return. In general, the payment amount is either a percentage of your household income or a flat dollar amount, whichever is greater. You will owe 1/12th of the annual payment for each month you (or your dependents) do not have coverage and are not exempt. The annual payment amount for 2014 is the greater of:
  • 1 percent of your household income that is above the tax return filing threshold for your filing status, such as Married Filing Jointly or single, or
  • Your family’s flat dollar amount, which is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, limited to a maximum of $285.
The individual shared responsibility payment is capped at the cost of the national average premium for the bronze level health plan available through the Marketplace in 2014. You will make the payment when you file your 2014 federal income tax return in 2015.

For more information about the individual shared responsibility provision and the premium tax credit, visit Visit the Department of Health and Human Services at for more information about health insurance coverage options and the Health Insurance Marketplace, financial assistance and exemptions.

IRS Offers Health Care Tax Tips to Help Individuals Understand Tax Provisions in the Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service is offering educational Health Care Tax Tips to help individuals understand how the Affordable Care Act may affect their taxes.

The IRS has designed the Health Care Tax Tips to help people understand what they need to know for the federal individual income tax returns they are filing this year, as well as for future tax returns. This includes information on the Premium Tax Credit and making health care coverage choices.

Although many of the tax provisions included in the law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014, most do not affect the 2013 tax returns.

The Health Care Tax Tips, which are now available at, include:
  • IRS Reminds Individuals of Health Care Choices for 2014 ─ Find out what you need to know about how health care choices you make for 2014 may affect your taxes.
  • The Health Insurance Marketplace - Learn about Your Health Insurance Coverage Options – Find out about getting health care coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
  • The Premium Tax Credit ─ Learn the basics of the Premium Tax Credit, including who might be eligible and how to get the credit. 
  • The Individual Shared Responsibility Payment – An Overview ─ Provides information about types of qualifying coverage, exemptions from having coverage, and making a payment if you do not have qualifying coverage or an exemption. 
  • Three Timely Tips about Taxes and the Health Care Law ─  Provides tips that help with filing the 2013 tax return, including information about employment status, tax favored health plans and itemized deductions.
  • Four Tax Facts about the Health Care Law for Individuals ─ Offers basic tips to help people determine if the Affordable Care Act affects them and their families, and where to find more information.
  • Changes in Circumstances can Affect your Premium Tax Credit ─ Learn the importance of reporting any changes in circumstances that involve family size or income when advance payments of the Premium Tax Credit are involved.
In addition to Health Care Tax Tips, the offers informative flyers and brochures, Frequently Asked Questions and in-depth legal guidance regarding the tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Individuals interested in receiving copies of IRS tax tips via email on a variety of topics, including the Affordable Care Act, can subscribe at

Monday, February 24, 2014

Four Good Reasons to Direct Deposit Your Refund

Would you choose direct deposit this year if you knew it’s the most popular way to get a federal tax refund? What if you learned it’s safe and easy, and combined with e-file, the fastest way to get a tax refund? The fact is almost 84 million taxpayers chose direct deposit in 2013.

Still not sure it’s for you? Here are four good reasons to choose direct deposit:

1. Convenience.  With direct deposit, your refund goes directly into your bank account. There’s no need to make a trip to the bank to deposit a check.

2. Security.  Since your refund goes directly into your account, there’s no risk of your refund check being stolen or lost in the mail.

3. Ease.  Choosing direct deposit is easy. When you do your taxes, just follow the instructions in the tax software or with your tax forms. Be sure to enter the correct bank account and routing number.

4. Options.  You can split your refund among up to three financial accounts. Checking, savings and certain retirement, health and education accounts may qualify. Use IRS Form 8888, Allocation of Refund (Including Savings Bond Purchases), to split your refund. Don’t use Form 8888 to designate part of your refund to pay your tax preparer.

You should deposit your refund directly into accounts that are in your own name, your spouse’s name or both. Don’t deposit it in accounts owned by others. Some banks require both spouses’ names on the account to deposit a tax refund from a joint return. Check with your bank for their direct deposit requirements.

Helpful tips about direct deposit and the split refund option are available in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax. Publication 17 and Form 8888 are available at or by calling the IRS at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).