IRS Tax News

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  • 12 Mar 2019 9:29 AM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today renewed its effort to encourage taxpayers to review their tax withholding using the IRS Withholding Calculator and make any needed adjustments early in 2019.

    Doing a Paycheck Checkup can help taxpayers avoid having too little or too much tax withheld from their paychecks. The IRS reminds taxpayers that they can generally control the size of their refund by adjusting their tax withholding.

    This news release is part of a series called the Tax Time Guide, a resource to help taxpayers file an accurate tax return. Additional help is available in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, and the tax reform information page.

    Withholding
    The federal income tax is a pay-as-you-go tax. Taxpayers pay the tax as they earn or receive income during the year. Employers generally use withholding tables to determine how much tax to withhold from their employees’ paychecks and then pay it to the IRS. Workers who are not subject to withholding, such as those working in the gig or shared economy, should make quarterly estimated tax payments to pay their tax during the year.

    When to check withholding
    Taxpayers should check their withholding each year and when life changes occur, such as marriage, childbirth, adoption or buying a home.

    For 2019, it’s important to review withholding and do a Paycheck Checkup. This is especially true for taxpayers who adjusted their withholdings in 2018 – specifically in the middle or later parts of the year. And it’s also important for taxpayers who received a tax bill when they filed this year or want to adjust the size of their refund for next year.

    A withholding table shows payroll service providers and employers how much tax to withhold from employee paychecks, given each employee’s wages, marital status, and the number of withholding allowances they claim.

    The IRS makes annual updates to the withholding tables for inflation, tax rates, tax tables and cost of living adjustments. This annual withholding guidance helps employers make changes to their payroll systems. However, the withholding tables can’t fully factor in all changes for all taxpayers, and only employees know other variables that can affect the tax they owe, such as other household income, credits and deductions that might reduce tax. As a result, some taxpayers could have paid too much tax last year and will get a refund, or too little tax if they did not increase their withholding or pay more estimated tax in 2018.

    IRS Withholding Calculator
    The IRS Withholding Calculator can help taxpayers get their tax withholding right. Checking withholding can protect against having too little tax withheld and then facing an unexpected tax bill or penalty at tax time next year. A taxpayer may prefer to have less tax withheld upfront and receive more in their paycheck. And, some people may choose to have their employer withhold more money from their paycheck. Others may choose to make higher or more tax payments than required and receive the overpayment – or refund – when they file their tax return. This is an individual taxpayer choice.

    When using the calculator, it’s helpful to have a completed 2018 tax return available. For more details see Tax withholding: How to get it right.

    Change withholding by submitting a new Form W-4
    Taxpayers can use the results from the IRS Withholding Calculator to determine if they should complete a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. The calculator will recommend the number of allowances to claim on this form and, if needed, the amount of additional federal income tax to have withheld each pay period. Employees submit the completed Form W-4 to their employer, not the IRS.

    Those who need to adjust their withholding should do so as soon as possible. Workers whose income is not subject to tax withholding should also plan to pay tax throughout the year. See Form 1040-ES to find out more.

    Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
    When taxpayers file their 2018 tax return, they may notice significant changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) including lowered tax rates, increased standard deductions, suspension of personal exemptions, increased Child Tax Credit and limited or discontinued deductions.

    The IRS has online resources that can help taxpayers understand how the TCJA affects them and their withholding.

    Whether at home, at work or on the go, taxpayers can find answers to questions, forms and instructions and easy-to-use tools online at IRS.gov.


  • 08 Mar 2019 9:07 AM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service wants business owners and the self-employed to know that a publication on IRS.gov has information they can use to learn which recent tax-law changes impact their bottom line.

    This news release is part of a series called the Tax Time Guide, a resource to help taxpayers file an accurate tax return. Additional help is available in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, and the tax reform information page.

    Publication 5318, Tax Reform: What’s New for Your Business, is a 12-page electronic document. Pub. 5318 provides a general overview of many of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes enacted in December 2017 that impact business taxes.

    Publication 5318 includes sections on:

    • Qualified Business Income Deduction 
    • Depreciation
    • Business related losses
    • Business related exclusions and deductions 
    • Business credits 
    • S corporations 
    • Farm provisions 
    • Miscellaneous provisions

    A few key provisions include:

    Qualified Business Income Deduction

    Many individuals, including owners of sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S corporations and beneficiaries of trusts and estates, may be entitled to a deduction of up to 20 percent of qualified business income (QBI), plus up to 20 percent of their qualified real estate investment trust (REIT) dividends and qualified publicly traded partnership (PTP) income. Generally, this deduction is the lesser of the combined QBI, REIT dividend, and PTP income amounts, or 20 percent of taxable income minus the taxpayer’s net capital gain. Claimed on Form 1040, Line 9, the new deduction is generally available to eligible taxpayers whose 2018 taxable incomes fall below $315,000 for joint returns and $157,500 for other taxpayers. The deduction may also be available for those whose incomes are above these levels but additional limitations may apply.

    Temporary 100 percent expensing (bonus depreciation)

    Businesses can write off most depreciable business assets in the year they placed them in service. The 100-percent depreciation deduction (bonus depreciation) generally applies to depreciable business assets and certain other property. Machinery, equipment, computers, appliances and furniture generally qualify. The deduction is generally allowable for qualifying property acquired and placed in service after Sept. 27, 2017, and before Jan. 1, 2023. For more information, see Publication 946, How to Depreciate Property.

    Expensing depreciable business assets

    A taxpayer may elect to expense the cost of any section 179 property and deduct it in the year the property is placed into service. The new law increased the maximum deduction from $500,000 to $1 million. It also increased the phase-out threshold from $2 million to $2.5 million. After 2018, the $1 million and $2.5 million thresholds will be adjusted for inflation.

    Business related losses

    For most taxpayers, a net operating loss (NOL) arising in tax years ending after Dec. 31, 2017 can only be carried forward. Certain NOLs of farming businesses and insurance companies (other than life insurance) can still be carried back two years. The deduction of NOLs arising in tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017, is limited to 80 percent of taxable income, determined without any NOL deduction. This 80 percent limitation does not apply to insurance companies (other than life insurance). Rules for existing or pre-2018 NOLs remain the same.

    Taxpayers can find answers to questions, forms and instructions and easy-to-use tools online at IRS.gov. No appointment required and no waiting on hold.


  • 05 Mar 2019 9:27 AM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service issued proposed regulations under section 250 of the Internal Revenue Code, which offers domestic corporations deductions for foreign-derived intangible income (FDII) and global intangible low-taxed income. Section 250, as well as section 951A dealing with global intangible low-taxed income, was added by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

    These proposed regulations provide guidance on both the computation of the deductions available under section 250 and determination of FDII. In addition, the proposed regulations provide rules for the computation of FDII in the consolidated return context. Proposed guidance on the computation of global intangible low-taxed income was published in the Federal Register on Oct. 10, 2018.

    New reporting rules requiring the filing of Form 8993, Section 250 Deduction for Foreign-Derived Intangible Income and Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income, are also described in the proposed regulations.

    Treasury and IRS welcome public comments on these proposed regulations. For details on submitting comments, see the proposed regulations.

    Updates on the implementation of the TCJA can be found on the Tax Reform page of IRS.gov.


  • 05 Mar 2019 9:26 AM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers that, in most cases, Monday, April 1, 2019, is the date by which persons who turned age 70½ during 2018 must begin receiving payments from Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans.

    This news release is part of a series called the Tax Time Guide, a resource to help taxpayers file an accurate tax return. Additional help is available in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, and the tax reform information page.

    Two payments in the same year

    The payments, called required minimum distributions (RMDs), are normally made by the end of the year. Those persons who reached age 70½ during 2018 are covered by a special rule, however, that allows first-year recipients of these payments to wait until as late as April 1, 2019, to get the first of their RMDs. The April 1 RMD deadline only applies to the required distribution for the first year. For all following years, including the year in which recipients were paid the first RMD by April 1, the RMD must be made by Dec. 31.

    A taxpayer who turned 70½ in 2018 (born July 1, 1947, to June 30, 1948) and receives the first required distribution (for 2018) on April 1, 2019, for example, must still receive the second RMD by Dec. 31, 2019.  To avoid having both amounts included in their income for the same year, the taxpayer can make their first withdrawal by Dec. 31 of the year they turn 70½ instead of waiting until April 1 of the following year.

    Types of retirement plans requiring RMDs

    The required distribution rules apply to owners of traditional, Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) and Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees (SIMPLE) IRAs but not Roth IRAs while the original owner is alive. They also apply to participants in various workplace retirement plans, including 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans.

    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 on Form 5498 in Box 12b. For a 2018 RMD, this amount is on the 2017 Form 5498 normally issued to the owner during January 2018.

    Some can delay RMDs

    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. Employees who are still working usually 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.

    IRS online tools and publications can help

    Many answers to questions about RMDs can be found in a special frequently asked questions section at IRS.gov. Most taxpayers use Table III (Uniform Lifetime) to figure their RMD. For a taxpayer who reached age 70½ in 2018 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 to Publication 590-B.

    Taxpayers can find answers to questions, forms and instructions and easy-to-use tools online at IRS.gov. They can use these resources to get help when it’s needed, at home, at work or on the go.


  • 04 Mar 2019 3:11 PM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON — Kicking off the annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams, the Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers of the ongoing threat of internet phishing scams that lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft.

    The IRS warns taxpayers, businesses and tax professionals to be alert for a continuing surge of fake emails, text messages, websites and social media attempts to steal personal information. These attacks tend to increase during tax season and remain a major danger of identity theft.

    To help protect taxpayers against these and other threats, the IRS highlights one scam on 12 consecutive week days to help raise awareness. Phishing schemes are the first of the 2019 “Dirty Dozen” scams.

    “Taxpayers should be on constant guard for these phishing schemes, which can be tricky and cleverly disguised to look like it’s the IRS,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Watch out for emails and other scams posing as the IRS, promising a big refund or personally threatening people. Don’t open attachments and click on links in emails. Don’t fall victim to phishing or other common scams.”

    The IRS also urges taxpayers to learn how to protect themselves by reviewing safety tips prepared by the Security Summit, a collaborative effort between the IRS, state revenue departments and the private-sector tax community.

    “Taking some basic security steps and being cautious can help protect people and their sensitive tax and financial data,” Rettig said.

    New variations on phishing schemes

    The IRS continues to see a steady stream of new and evolving phishing schemes as criminals work to victimize taxpayers throughout the year. Whether through legitimate-looking emails with fake, but convincing website landing pages, or social media approaches, perhaps using a shortened URL, the end goal is the same for these con artists: stealing personal information.

    In one variation, taxpayers are victimized by a creative scheme that involves their own bank account. After stealing personal data and filing fraudulent tax returns, criminals use taxpayers' bank accounts to direct deposit tax refunds. Thieves then use various tactics to reclaim the refund from the taxpayer, including falsely claiming to be from a collection agency or the IRS. The IRS encourages taxpayers to review some basic tips if they see an unexpected deposit in their bank account.

    Schemes aimed at tax pros, payroll offices, human resources personnel

    The IRS has also seen more advanced phishing schemes targeting the personal or financial information available in the files of tax professionals, payroll professionals, human resources personnel, schools and organizations such as Form W-2 information. These targeted scams are known as business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES) scams.

    Depending on the variation of the scam (and there are several), criminals will pose as:

    • a business asking the recipient to pay a fake invoice
    • as an employee seeking to re-route a direct deposit
    • or as someone the taxpayer trusts or recognizes, such as an executive, to initiate a wire transfer.

    The IRS warned of the direct deposit variation of the BEC/BES scam in December 2018, and continues to receive reports of direct deposit scams reported to phishing@irs.gov. The Direct Deposit and other BEC/BES variations should be forwarded to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). The IRS requests that Form W-2 scams be reported to: phishing@irs.gov (Subject: W-2 Scam). 

    Criminals may use the email credentials from a successful phishing attack, known as an email account compromise, to send phishing emails to the victim’s email contacts. Tax preparers should be wary of unsolicited email from personal or business contacts especially the more commonly observed scams, like new client solicitations.

    Malicious emails and websites can infect a taxpayer’s computer with malware without the user knowing it. The malware downloads in the background, giving the criminal access to the device, enabling them to access any sensitive files or even track keyboard strokes, exposing login victim’s information.

    For those participating in these schemes, such activity can lead to significant penalties and possible criminal prosecution. Both the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), which handles scams involving IRS impersonation, and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division work closely with the Department of Justice to shut down scams and prosecute the criminals behind them.

    Tax professional alert

    Numerous data breaches across the country mean the tax preparation community must be on high alert to unusual activity, particularly during the tax filing season. Criminals increasingly target tax professionals, deploying various types of phishing emails in an attempt to access client data. Thieves may use this data to impersonate taxpayers and file fraudulent tax returns for refunds.

    As part of the Security Summit initiative, the IRS has joined with representatives of the software industry, tax preparation firms, payroll and tax financial product processors and state tax administrators to combat identity theft refund fraud to protect the nation's taxpayers.

    The Security Summit partners encourage tax practitioners to be wary of communicating solely by email with potential or existing clients, especially if unusual requests are made. Data breach thefts have given thieves millions of identity data points including names, addresses, Social Security numbers and email addresses. If in doubt, tax practitioners should call to confirm a client’s identity.

    Reporting phishing attempts

    If a taxpayer receives an unsolicited email or social media attempt that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), they should report it by sending it to phishing@irs.gov. Learn more by going to the Report Phishing and Online Scams page on IRS.gov.

    Tax professionals who receive unsolicited and suspicious emails that appear to be from the IRS and/or are tax-related (like those related to the e-Services program) also should report it to: phishing@irs.gov.

    The IRS generally does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels

    IRS YouTube Videos:


  • 01 Mar 2019 9:30 AM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    IR-2019-24, February 28, 2019

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service will waive the estimated tax penalty for any qualifying farmer or fisherman who files his or her 2018 federal income tax return and pays any tax due by Monday, April 15, 2019. The deadline is Wednesday, April 17, 2019, for taxpayers residing in Maine or Massachusetts.

    The IRS is providing this relief because, due to certain rule changes, many farmers and fishermen may have difficulty accurately determining their tax liability by the March 1 deadline that usually applies to them. For tax year 2018, an individual who received at least two-thirds of his or her total gross income from farming or fishing during either 2017 or 2018 qualifies as a farmer or fisherman.

    To be eligible for the waiver, qualifying taxpayers must attach Form 2210-F, available on IRS.gov, to their 2018 income tax return. This form can be submitted either electronically or on paper. The taxpayer’s name and identifying number, usually a Social Security number, must be entered at the top of the form. The waiver box—Part I, Box A—should be checked. The rest of the form should be left blank.

    Further details can be found in Notice 2019-17, posted today on IRS.gov.


  • 19 Feb 2019 12:29 PM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    Tax professionals are being increasingly targeted by identity and data thieves. An unscrupulous person breaching the data of one tax return preparer can gain hundreds or thousands of taxpayers’ data. One way you can monitor for suspicious activity is to regularly check how many federal tax returns have been filed with your Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).

    This information is available in the online PTIN system for tax return preparers who have at least fifty Form 1040 series tax returns processed in the current year.

    It is important to monitor this information even if you do not prepare returns or only prepare a small number of returns.

    To access PTIN information, follow these steps:

    1. Visit ww.irs.gov/ptin and log into the PTIN System.
    2. From the Main Menu, under “Additional Activities”, select “View My Summary of Returns Filed”.
    3. A count of individual income tax returns filed and processed in the current year will be displayed.  The information is updated weekly.


    If the number of returns processed is significantly more than the number of tax returns you’ve prepared and you suspect possible misuse of your PTIN, complete and submit Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer, to the IRS.



  • 31 Jan 2019 5:34 PM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    This is the latest news from the IRS Wage & Investment Division, shared with us by the Office of National Public Liasion...

    The IRS will extend its transcript faxing service beyond the planned Feb 4 end date and is reviewing options for a new timeframe. We are committed to providing you with advance notice of the new date.  As a reminder, you can now have unmasked Wage and Income Transcripts sent to your e-Services secure mailbox if you follow certain procedures. This should help bring clients into compliance and allow for electronic filing.

    For details, please see Fact Sheet 2018-20, "Steps for tax professionals to obtain wage and income transcripts needed for tax preparation." Additionally, due to the government shutdown, we are working hard to catch up on processing third-party authorization forms. We may also experience longer than normal wait times on our toll free telephone lines as our employees return to duty and we resume training and other filing season readiness activities. We ask for your patience as we work to resume normal operations.

     Please be alert to upcoming communications regarding transcript issues. 

  • 29 Jan 2019 8:39 AM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service successfully opened the 2019 tax-filing season today as the agency started accepting and processing federal tax returns for tax year 2018. Despite the major tax law changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the IRS was able to open this year’s tax-filing season one day earlier than the 2018 tax-filing season.

    More than 150 million individual tax returns for the 2018 tax year are expected to be filed, with the vast majority of those coming before the April tax deadline. Through mid-day Monday, the IRS had already received several million tax returns during the busy opening hours.

    "I am extremely proud of the entire IRS workforce. The dedicated IRS employees have worked tirelessly to successfully implement the biggest tax law changes in 30 years and launch tax season for the nation," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Although we face various near- and longer-term challenges, our employees are committed to doing everything we can to help taxpayers and get refunds out quickly."

    Following the government shutdown, the IRS is working to promptly resume normal operations.

    “The IRS will be doing everything it can to have a smooth filing season,” Rettig said. “Taxpayers can minimize errors and speed refunds by using e-file and IRS Free File along with direct deposit.”

    The IRS expects the first refunds to go out in the first week of February and many refunds to be paid by mid- to late February like previous years. The IRS reminds taxpayers to check “Where’s My Refund?" for updates. Demand on IRS phones during the early weeks of tax season is traditionally heavy, so taxpayers are encouraged to use IRS.gov to find answers before they call.

    April deadline; help for taxpayers through e-file, Free File

    The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2019, for most taxpayers. Because of the Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15 in Maine and Massachusetts and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16 in the District of Columbia, taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17 to file their returns.

    With major changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the IRS encouraged taxpayers seeking more information on tax reform to consult two online resources: Publication 5307, Tax Reform: Basics for Individuals and Families, and Publication 5318; Tax Reform What’s New for Your Business. For other tips and resources, visit IRS.gov/taxreform or check out the Get Ready page on IRS.gov.

    The IRS expects about 90 percent of returns to be filed electronically. Choosing e-file and direct deposit remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund.

    The IRS Free File program, available at IRS.gov, gives eligible taxpayers a dozen options for filing and preparing their tax returns using brand-name products. IRS Free File is a partnership with commercial partners offering free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $66,000 or less. About 70 percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. People who earned more than $66,000 may use Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms.

    Most refunds sent in less than 21 days; EITC/ACTC refunds starting Feb. 27

    The IRS expects to issue more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. However, it’s possible a tax return may require additional review and take longer. “Where’s My Refund?” has the most up to date information available about refunds. The tool is updated only once a day, so taxpayers don’t need to check more often.

    The IRS also notes that refunds, by law, cannot be issued before Feb. 15 for tax returns that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. This applies to the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC. While the IRS will process the EITC and ACTC returns when received, these refunds cannot be issued before Feb. 15. Similar to last year, the IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to actually be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting on Feb. 27, 2019, if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return.

    “Where’s My Refund?” ‎on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go mobile app remain the best way to check the status of a refund. “Where’s My Refund?” will be updated with projected deposit dates for most early EITC and ACTC refund filers on Feb. 17, so those filers will not see a refund date on “Where's My Refund?” ‎or through their software packages until then. The IRS, tax preparers and tax software will not have additional information on refund dates, so these filers should not contact or call about refunds before the end of February.

    This law was changed to give the IRS more time to detect and prevent fraud. Even with the EITC and ACTC refunds and the additional security safeguards, the IRS still expects to issue more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. However, it’s possible a particular tax return may require additional review and a refund could take longer. Even so, taxpayers and tax return preparers should file when they’re ready. For those who usually file early in the year and are ready to file a complete and accurate return, there is no need to wait to file.

    New Form 1040

    Form 1040 has been redesigned for tax year 2018. The revised form consolidates Forms 1040, 1040A and 1040-EZ into one form that all individual taxpayers will use to file their 2018 federal income tax return.

    The new form uses a “building block” approach that can be supplemented with additional schedules as needed. Taxpayers with straightforward tax situations will only need to file the Form 1040 with no additional schedules. People who use tax software will still follow the steps they’re familiar with from previous years. Since nearly 90 percent of taxpayers now use tax software, the IRS expects the change to Form 1040 and its schedules to be seamless for those who e-file.

    Free tax help

    Low- and moderate-income taxpayers can get help filing their tax returns for free. Tens of thousands of volunteers around the country can help people correctly complete their returns.

    To get this help, taxpayers can visit one of the more than 12,000 community-based tax help sites that participate in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. To find the nearest site, use the VITA/TCE Site Locator on IRS.gov or the IRS2Go mobile app.

    Filing assistance

    No matter who prepares a federal tax return, by signing the return, the taxpayer becomes legally responsible for the accuracy of all information included. IRS.gov offers a number of tips about selecting a preparer and information about national tax professional groups.

    The IRS urges all taxpayers to make sure they have all their year-end statements in hand before filing. This includes Forms W-2 from employers and Forms 1099 from banks and other payers. Doing so will help avoid refund delays and the need to file an amended return.

    Online tools

    The IRS reminds taxpayers they have a variety of options to get help filing and preparing their tax returns on IRS.gov, the official IRS website. Taxpayers can find answers to their tax questions and resolve tax issues online. The Let Us Help You page helps answer most tax questions, and the IRS Services Guide links to these and other IRS services.

    Taxpayers can go to IRS.gov/account to securely access information about their federal tax account. They can view the amount they owe, pay online or set up an online payment agreement; access their tax records online; review the past 18 months of payment history; and view key tax return information for the current year as filed. Visit IRS.gov/secureaccess to review the required identity authentication process.

    The IRS urges taxpayers to take advantage of the many tools and other resources available on IRS.gov.

    The IRS continues to work with state tax agencies and the private-sector tax industry to address tax-related identity theft and refund fraud. As part of the Security Summit effort, stronger protections for taxpayers and the nation’s tax system are in effect for the 2019 tax filing season.

    The new measures attack tax-related identity theft from multiple sides. Many changes will be invisible to taxpayers but will help the IRS, states and the tax industry provide additional protections, and tighter security requirements will better protect tax software accounts and personal information.

    Renew ITIN to avoid refund delays

    Many Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) expired on Dec. 31, 2018. This includes any ITIN not used on a tax return at least once in the past three years. Also, any ITIN with middle digits of 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 81 and 82 (Example: 9NN-73-NNNN) is now expired. ITINs that have middle digits 70, 71, 72 or 80 expired Dec. 31, 2017, but taxpayers can still renew them. Affected taxpayers should act soon to avoid refund delays and possible loss of eligibility for some key tax benefits until the ITIN is renewed. An ITIN is used by anyone who has tax-filing or payment obligations under U.S. tax law but is not eligible for a Social Security number.

    It can take up to 11 weeks to process a complete and accurate ITIN renewal application. For that reason, the IRS urges anyone with an expired ITIN needing to file a tax return this tax season to submit their ITIN renewal application soon.

    Sign and validate electronically filed tax returns

    All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Some taxpayers using a tax filing software product for the first time may need their adjusted gross income (AGI) amount from their prior-year tax return to verify their identity.

    Taxpayers using the same tax software they used last year will not need to enter their prior year information to electronically sign their 2017 tax return. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.


  • 16 Jan 2019 8:17 PM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service announced today that it is waiving the estimated tax penalty for many taxpayers whose 2018 federal income tax withholding and estimated tax payments fell short of their total tax liability for the year.
     
    The IRS is generally waiving the penalty for any taxpayer who paid at least 85 percent of their total tax liability during the year through federal income tax withholding, quarterly estimated tax payments or a combination of the two. The usual percentage threshold is 90 percent to avoid a penalty.
     
    The waiver computation announced today will be integrated into commercially-available tax software and reflected in the forthcoming revision of Form 2210 and instructions.
     
    This relief is designed to help taxpayers who were unable to properly adjust their withholding and estimated tax payments to reflect an array of changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the far-reaching tax reform law enacted in December 2017.
     
    “We realize there were many changes that affected people last year, and this penalty waiver will help taxpayers who inadvertently didn’t have enough tax withheld,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We urge people to check their withholding again this year to make sure they are having the right amount of tax withheld for 2019.”
     
    The updated federal tax withholding tables, released in early 2018, largely reflected the lower tax rates and the increased standard deduction brought about by the new law. This generally meant taxpayers had less tax withheld in 2018 and saw more in their paychecks.
     
    However, the withholding tables couldn’t fully factor in other changes, such as the suspension of dependency exemptions and reduced itemized deductions. As a result, some taxpayers could have paid too little tax during the year, if they did not submit a properly-revised W-4 withholding form to their employer or increase their estimated tax payments. The IRS and partner groups conducted an extensive outreach and education campaign throughout 2018 to encourage taxpayers to do a “Paycheck Checkup” to avoid a situation where they had too much or too little tax withheld when they file their tax returns.
     
    Although most 2018 tax filers are still expected to get refunds, some taxpayers will unexpectedly owe additional tax when they file their returns.
     
    Additional Information

    Because the U.S. tax system is pay-as-you-go, taxpayers are required, by law, to pay most of their tax obligation during the year, rather than at the end of the year. This can be done by either having tax withheld from paychecks or pension payments, or by making estimated tax payments.
     
    Usually, a penalty applies at tax filing if too little is paid during the year. Normally, the penalty would not apply for 2018 if tax payments during the year met one of the following tests:

    • The person’s tax payments were at least 90 percent of the tax liability for 2018 or
    • The person’s tax payments were at least 100 percent of the prior year’s tax liability, in this case from 2017. However, the 100 percent threshold is increased to 110 percent if a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income is more than $150,000, or $75,000 if married and filing a separate return.

    For waiver purposes only, today’s relief lowers the 90 percent threshold to 85 percent. This means that a taxpayer will not owe a penalty if they paid at least 85 percent of their total 2018 tax liability. If the taxpayer paid less than 85 percent, then they are not eligible for the waiver and the penalty will be calculated as it normally would be, using the 90 percent threshold. For further details, see Notice 2019-11, posted today on IRS.gov.
     
    Like last year, the IRS urges everyone to check their withholding for 2019. This is especially important for anyone now facing an unexpected tax bill when they file. This is also an important step for those who made withholding adjustments in 2018 or had a major life change to ensure the right tax is still being withheld. Those most at risk of having too little tax withheld from their pay include taxpayers who itemized in the past but now take the increased standard deduction, as well as two-wage-earner households, employees with nonwage sources of income and those with complex tax situations.
     
    To help taxpayers get their withholding right in 2019, an updated version of the agency’s online Withholding Calculator is now available on IRS.gov. With tax season starting Jan. 28, the IRS reminds taxpayers it’s never too early to get ready for the tax-filing season ahead. While it’s a good idea any year, starting early in 2019 is particularly important as most tax filers adjust to the revised tax rates, deductions and credits.

    Although the IRS won’t begin processing 2018 returns until Jan. 28, software companies and tax professionals will be accepting and preparing returns before that date. Free File is also now available.
     
    The IRS also reminds taxpayers there are two useful resources for anyone interested in learning more about tax reform. They are Publication 5307, Tax Reform: Basics for Individuals and Families, and Publication 5318, Tax Reform What’s New for Your Business. For other tips and resources, visit IRS.gov/taxreform or check out the Get Ready page on IRS.gov.


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