Thursday, August 20, 2015

Health Care Law Tax Provisions: IRS Recorded Webinars for Employers and Coverage Providers

Employers and health coverage providers now have access to recorded webinars from IRS about the Affordable Care Act’s employer provisions and related tax requirements. If you are a business owner, tax manager, employee benefits manager, or health coverage provider, you can access and review these videos anytime to better understand how the health care law may affect your organization.

Each of the following ACA videos on the IRS Video Portal provides about 40 minutes of detailed information on the specific tax provision mentioned in the title.

Employer Shared Responsibility Provision (47 minutes)

Learn about determining applicable large employer status, payments, and transition relief for 2015.

Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage Information Reporting Requirements for Applicable Large Employers (37 minutes)

Learn about employer-sponsored health coverage information reporting requirements for applicable large employers, including:
  • who is required to report
  • what information the law requires you to report
  • how to complete the required forms
Information Reporting Requirements for Providers of Minimum Essential Coverage (35 minutes)

Learn about the information reporting requirements for providers of minimum essential coverage, including employers that provide self-insured coverage.  Learn about:
  • who is required to report
  • what information the law requires you to report
  • how to complete the required forms
View the recorded webinars in the IRS Video Portal using one of the following tabs: Businesses, Tax Professionals, Governments and Non-Profits. After clicking on one of these tabs, simply select “Affordable Care Act” from the list of topics on the left side of the screen, and you will see a list of recordings about these and other ACA topics.

In addition to videos about the tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act on the IRS Video Portal, there is a wide range of videos on other tax topics for individuals, businesses and tax professionals.
For more information about the Affordable Care Act visit

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

IRS Reminds Truckers: For Most, Highway Use Tax Return is due Aug. 31

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded truckers and other owners of heavy highway vehicles that in most cases their next federal highway use tax return is due Monday, Aug. 31, 2015.

The deadline generally applies to Form 2290 and the accompanying tax payment for the tax year that begins July 1, 2015, and ends June 30, 2016. Returns must be filed and tax payments made by Aug. 31 for vehicles used on the road during July. For vehicles first used after July, the deadline is the last day of the month following the month of first use.

Though some taxpayers have the option of filing Form 2290 on paper, the IRS encourages all taxpayers to take advantage of the speed and convenience of filing this form electronically and paying any tax due electronically. Taxpayers reporting 25 or more vehicles must e-file. A list of IRS-approved e-file providers can be found on

The highway use tax applies to highway motor vehicles with a taxable gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more. This generally includes trucks, truck tractors and buses. Ordinarily, vans, pick-ups and panel trucks are not taxable because they fall below the 55,000-pound threshold. The tax of up to $550 per vehicle is based on weight, and a variety of special rules apply, explained in the instructions to Form 2290.

For more information, visit the Trucking Tax Center.

Back-to-School Reminder for Parents and Students: Check Out College Tax Credits for 2015 and Years Ahead

WASHINGTON ― With another school year just around the corner, the Internal Revenue Service today reminded parents and students that now is a good time to see if they will qualify for either of two college tax credits or other education-related tax benefits when they file their 2015 federal income tax returns.

In general, the American Opportunity Tax Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit is available to taxpayers who pay qualifying expenses for an eligible student. Eligible students include the taxpayer, spouse and dependents. The American Opportunity Tax Credit provides a credit for each eligible student, while the Lifetime Learning Credit provides a maximum credit per tax return.

Though a taxpayer often qualifies for both of these credits, he or she can only claim one of them for a particular student in a particular year.  To claim these credits on their tax return, the taxpayer must file Form 1040 or 1040A and complete Form 8863, Education Credits.

The credits apply to eligible students enrolled in an eligible college, university or vocational school, including both nonprofit and for-profit institutions. The credits are subject to income limits that could reduce the amount claimed on their tax return.

To help determine eligibility for these benefits, taxpayers should visit the Education Credits Web page or use the IRS’s Interactive Tax Assistant tool. Both are available on

Normally, a student will receive a Form 1098-T from their institution by Jan. 31 of the following year. (For 2015, the due date is Feb. 1, 2016, because otherwise it would fall on a Sunday.) This form will show information about tuition paid or billed along with other information. However, amounts shown on this form may differ from amounts taxpayers are eligible to claim for these tax credits. Taxpayers should see the instructions to Form 8863 and Publication 970 for details on properly figuring allowable tax benefits.

Many of those eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit qualify for the maximum annual credit of $2,500 per student. Students can claim this credit for qualified education expenses paid during the entire tax year for a certain number of years:
  • The credit is only available for four tax years per eligible student. 
  • The credit is available only if the student has not completed the first four years of postsecondary education before 2015.
Here are some more key features of the credit:
  • Qualified education expenses are amounts paid for tuition, fees and other related expenses for an eligible student. Other expenses, such as room and board, are not qualified expenses.
  • The credit equals 100 percent of the first $2,000 spent and 25 percent of the next $2,000. That means the full $2,500 credit may be available to a taxpayer who pays $4,000 or more in qualified expenses for an eligible student.
  • Forty percent of the American Opportunity Tax Credit is refundable. This means that even people who owe no tax can get an annual payment of up to $1,000 for each eligible student.
  • The full credit can only be claimed by taxpayers whose modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is $80,000 or less. For married couples filing a joint return, the limit is $160,000. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with incomes above these levels. No credit can be claimed by joint filers whose MAGI is $180,000 or more and singles, heads of household and some widows and widowers whose MAGI is $90,000 or more.
The Lifetime Learning Credit of up to $2,000 per tax return is available for both graduate and undergraduate students. Unlike the American Opportunity Tax Credit, the limit on the Lifetime Learning Credit applies to each tax return, rather than to each student. Also, the Lifetime Learning Credit does not provide a benefit to people who owe no tax.

Though the half-time student requirement does not apply to the lifetime learning credit, the course of study must be either part of a post-secondary degree program or taken by the student to maintain or improve job skills. Other features of the credit include:
  • Tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance qualify as do other fees required for the course. Additional expenses do not.
  • The credit equals 20 percent of the amount spent on eligible expenses across all students on the return. That means the full $2,000 credit is only available to a taxpayer who pays $10,000 or more in qualifying tuition and fees and has sufficient tax liability.
  • Income limits are lower than under the American Opportunity Tax Credit. For 2015, the full credit can be claimed by taxpayers whose MAGI is $55,000 or less. For married couples filing a joint return, the limit is $110,000. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with incomes above these levels. No credit can be claimed by joint filers whose MAGI is $130,000 or more and singles, heads of household and some widows and widowers whose MAGI is $65,000 or more.
Eligible parents and students can get the benefit of these credits during the year by having less tax taken out of their paychecks. They can do this by filling out a new Form W-4, claiming additional withholding allowances, and giving it to their employer.

There are a variety of other education-related tax benefits that can help many taxpayers. They include:
  • Scholarship and fellowship grants — generally tax-free if used to pay for tuition, required enrollment fees, books and other course materials, but taxable if used for room, board, research, travel or other expenses.
  • Student loan interest deduction of up to $2,500 per year.
  • Savings bonds used to pay for college — though income limits apply, interest is usually tax-free if bonds were purchased after 1989 by a taxpayer who, at time of purchase, was at least 24 years old.
  • Qualified tuition programs, also called 529 plans, used by many families to prepay or save for a child’s college education.
Taxpayers with qualifying children who are students up to age 24 may be able to claim a dependent exemption and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The general comparison table in Publication 970 can be a useful guide to taxpayers in determining eligibility for these benefits. Details can also be found in the Tax Benefits for Education Information Center on

Friday, August 14, 2015

IRS Tips to Help People Pay Their Taxes

If you owe tax, the IRS offers safe and easy ways to pay. Check out these payment tips:
  • Pay your tax bill.  If you get a bill, you should pay it as soon as you can. You should always try to pay in full to avoid any additional charges. See if you can use your credit card or to get a loan to pay in full. If you can’t pay in full, you’ll save if you pay as much as you can. The more you can pay, the less interest and penalties you will owe for late payment. The IRS offers several payment options on 
  • Use IRS Direct Pay.  The best way to pay your taxes is with IRS Direct Pay. It’s the safe, easy and free way to pay from your checking or savings account. You can pay your tax in just five simple steps in one online session. Just click on the “Payment” tab on You can now use Direct Pay with the IRS2Go mobile app.
  • Get a short-term payment plan.  If you owe more tax than you can pay, you may qualify for more time, up to 120 days, to pay in full. You do not have to pay a user fee to set up a short-term full payment agreement. However, the IRS will charge interest and penalties until you pay in full. It’s easy to apply online at If you get a bill from the IRS, you may call the phone number listed on it. If you don’t have a bill, call 800-829-1040 for help.
  • Apply for an installment agreement.  Most people who need more time to pay can apply for an Online Payment Agreement on A direct debit payment plan is the hassle-free way to pay. The set-up fee is much less than other plans and you won’t miss a payment. If you can’t apply online, or prefer to do so in writing, use Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request. Individuals can use Direct Pay to make their installment payments. For more about payment plan options, visit
  • Check out an offer in compromise.  An offer in compromise, or OIC, may let you settle your tax debt for less than the full amount you owe. An OIC may be an option if you can’t pay your tax in full. It may also apply if full payment will cause a financial hardship. Not everyone qualifies, so make sure you explore all other ways to pay your tax before you submit an OIC to the IRS. Use the OIC Pre-Qualifier tool to see if you qualify. It will also tell you what a reasonable offer might be.
  • Change your withholding or estimated tax.  If you are an employee, you can avoid a tax bill by having more taxes withheld from your pay. To do this, file a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, with your employer. The IRS Withholding Calculator tool on can help you fill out the form. If you are self-employed you may need to make or change your estimated tax payments. See Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals for learn more.
To find out more see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process. You can get it on at any time.

Additional IRS Resources: