IRS Tax News

  • 02 Nov 2011 3:47 PM | Anonymous

    The Internal Revenue Service is providing special transitional relief to banks and other payment settlement entities required to begin reporting payment card and third-party network transactions to the IRS on new Form 1099-K.

    By law, reporting is scheduled to begin in early 2012 for payment card and third-party network transactions that occurred in 2011. Details on the special transitional relief and reporting requirements are in these FAQs, and more information on this relief is in Notice 2011-88 and Notice 2011-89.

  • 21 Oct 2011 6:47 AM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service today announced that the nation’s 738,000 tax return preparers who have Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) can now renew their PTINs for the 2012 filing season.

    Preparers are required to renew their PTINs on an annual basis and need to do so before the next year begins. For example, a preparer’s PTIN for 2012 must be renewed by Dec. 31, 2011.

    Anyone who for compensation prepares, or helps prepare, all or substantially all of tax returns or claims for refunds must have a PTIN. Paid return preparers must have valid, current PTINs to prepare tax returns in 2012.

    The PTIN renewal fee for 2012 is $63. The initial application fee for a PTIN remains at $64.25. Return preparers who obtained their PTINs by creating an online account should renew their PTINs at www.irs.gov/ptin.

    Preparers who used paper applications to receive their 2011 PTINs will receive an activation code in the mail from the IRS which they can use to create an online account and convert to an electronic renewal for 2012.  Individuals can also renew using a paper Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number Application, but renewing electronically avoids a four to six week wait for processing the renewal request.

    Return preparers who are applying for a PTIN for the first time must go through a strict authentication procedure and should follow directions carefully. Return preparers who prepared, or helped prepare, returns for compensation in 2011 without PTINs must obtain 2011 PTINs and then renew their PTINs for 2012, paying fees for each year if they intend to practice next year. Penalties may apply for paid tax return preparers who prepared, or helped prepare returns in 2011 without valid PTINs.

    Some changes to the PTIN application and renewal process include:

    • Return preparers must self-identify if they are supervised preparers or non-1040 preparers.

    • Supervised preparers will need to provide a supervisor’s PTIN when applying for or renewing their PTINs.

    • Credentialed preparers (Certified Public Accountants, attorneys and Enrolled Agents) must provide the expiration date for their licenses when they apply for or renew their PTINs.

    Supervised preparers are individuals who don’t sign the returns they prepare or help prepare; work at a firm at least 80 percent owned by a Certified Public Accountant, an attorney or an Enrolled Agent; and prepare returns that are signed by a supervisor who is a CPA, attorney or Enrolled Agent.  

    Non-1040 preparers are people who do not prepare any individual income tax returns for compensation. For this purpose, preparers of Form 1040-PR and Form 1040-SS are considered non-1040 preparers.

    Supervised preparers and non-1040 preparers must identify themselves when they apply for or renew their PTINs to be exempted from testing and continuing education requirements; Certified Public Accountants, attorneys and Enrolled Agents are also exempt from testing and continuing education requirements.

    Taxpayers who use a paid return preparer are urged to choose a return preparer with a valid PTIN.  Return preparers should also sign the returns they prepare for taxpayers and enter their PTINs on the returns.  For more information on choosing a return preparer, go to Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer.

    For more information on the PTIN requirements or on becoming a Registered Tax Return Preparer, go to www.irs.gov/taxpros.

  • 20 Oct 2011 11:29 AM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON -  For tax year 2012, personal exemptions and standard deductions will rise and tax brackets will widen due to inflation, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.

    By law, the dollar amounts for a variety of tax provisions, affecting virtually every taxpayer, must be revised each year to keep pace with inflation. New dollar amounts affecting 2012 returns, filed by most taxpayers in early 2013, include the following:

    • The value of each personal and dependent exemption, available to most taxpayers, is $3,800, up $100 from 2011.

    • The new standard deduction is $11,900 for married couples filing a joint return, up $300, $5,950 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up $150, and $8,700 for heads of household, up $200. Nearly two out of three taxpayers take the standard deduction, rather than itemizing deductions, such as mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes.

    • Tax-bracket thresholds increase for each filing status. For a married couple filing a joint return, for example, the taxable-income threshold separating the 15-percent bracket from the 25-percent bracket is $70,700, up from $69,000 in 2011.

    Credits, deductions, and related phase outs.

    • For tax year 2012, the maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low- and moderate- income workers and working families rises to $5,891, up from $5,751 in 2011. The maximum income limit for the EITC rises to $50,270, up from $49,078 in 2011.The credit varies by family size, filing status and other factors, with the maximum credit going to joint filers with three or more qualifying children.

    • The foreign earned income deduction rises to $95,100, an increase of $2,200 from the maximum deduction for tax year 2011.

    • The modified adjusted gross income threshold at which the lifetime learning credit begins to phase out is $104,000 for joint filers, up from $102,000, and $52,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $51,000.

    • For 2012, annual deductible amounts for Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) increased  from the tax year 2011 amounts; please see the table below.
     Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs)  Self-Only Coverage  Family Coverage
     Minimum annual deductible  $2,100  $4,200
     Maximum annual deductible  $3,150  $6,300
     Maximum annual out-of-pocket expenses  $4,200  $7,650

    The $2,500 maximum deduction for interest paid on student loans begins to phase out for a married taxpayers filing a joint returns at $125,000 and phases out completely at $155,000, an increase of $5,000 from the phase out limits for tax year 2011. For single taxpayers, the phase out ranges remain at the 2011 levels.

    Estate and Gift

    For an estate of any decedent dying during calendar year 2012, the basic exclusion from estate tax amount is $5,120,000, up from $5,000,000 for calendar year 2011. Also, if the executor chooses to use the special use valuation method for qualified real property, the aggregate decrease in the value of the property resulting from the choice cannot exceed $1,040,000, up from $1,020,000 for 2011.

    The annual exclusion for gifts remains at $13,000.

    Other Items

    • The monthly limit on the value of qualified transportation benefits exclusion for qualified parking provided by an employer to its employees for 2012 rises to $240, up $10 from the limit in 2011. However, the temporary increase in the monthly limit on the value of the qualified transportation benefits exclusion for transportation in a commuter highway vehicle and transit pass provided by an employer to its employees expires and reverts to $125 for 2012.

    • Several tax benefits are unchanged in 2012. For example, the additional standard deduction for blind people and senior citizens remains $1,150 for married individuals and $1,450 for singles and heads of household.

    Details on these inflation adjustments can be found in Revenue Procedure 2011-52, which will be published in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2011-45 on November 7, 2011.

  • 20 Oct 2011 11:24 AM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service today announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for Tax Year 2012. In general, many of the pension plan limitations will change for 2012 because the increase in the cost-of-living index met the statutory thresholds that trigger their adjustment. However, other limitations will remain unchanged.  Highlights include:

    • The elective deferral (contribution) limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $16,500 to $17,000.

    • The catch-up contribution limit for those aged 50 and over remains unchanged at $5,500.

    • The deduction for taxpayers making contributions to a traditional IRA is phased out for singles and heads of household who are covered by a workplace retirement plan and have modified adjusted gross incomes (AGI) between $58,000 and $68,000, up from $56,000 and $66,000 in 2011.  For married couples filing jointly, in which the spouse who makes the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the income phase-out range is $92,000 to $112,000, up from $90,000 to $110,000.  For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $173,000 and $183,000, up from $169,000 and $179,000.

    • The AGI phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $173,000 to $183,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $169,000 to $179,000 in 2011.  For singles and heads of household, the income phase-out range is $110,000 to $125,000, up from $107,000 to $122,000.  For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a retirement plan at work, the phase-out range remains $0 to $10,000.

    • The AGI limit for the saver’s credit (also known as the retirement savings contributions credit) for low-and moderate-income workers is $57,500 for married couples filing jointly, up from $56,500 in 2011; $43,125 for heads of household, up from $42,375; and $28,750 for married individuals filing separately and for singles, up from $28,250.

    Below are details on both the unchanged and adjusted limitations.

    Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code provides for dollar limitations on benefits and contributions under qualified retirement plans.  Section 415(d) requires that the Commissioner annually adjust these limits for cost of living increases.  Other limitations applicable to deferred compensation plans are also affected by these adjustments under Section 415.  Under Section 415(d), the adjustments are to be made pursuant to adjustment procedures which are similar to those used to adjust benefit amounts under Section 215(i)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act.

    The limitations that are adjusted by reference to Section 415(d) generally will change for 2012 because the increase in the cost-of-living index met the statutory thresholds that trigger their adjustment.  For example, the limitation under Section 402(g)(1) on the exclusion for elective deferrals described in Section 402(g)(3) will increase from $16,500 to $17,000 for 2012.  This limitation affects elective deferrals to Section 401(k) plans, Section 403(b) plans, and the Federal Government’s Thrift Savings Plan.

    Effective January 1, 2012, the limitation on the annual benefit under a defined benefit plan under section 415(b)(1)(A) is increased from $195,000 to $200,000.

    Under section 1.415(d)-1(a)(2)(ii) of the Income Tax Regulations, the adjustment to the limitation under a defined benefit plan under section 415(b)(1)(B) is determined using a special rule.  This special rule takes into account the following recent history of changes in the cost-of-living indexes:  (1) the cost-of-living index for the quarter ended September 30, 2009, was less than the cost-of-living index for the quarter ended September 30, 2008; (2) the cost-of-living index for the quarter ended September 30, 2010, was greater than the cost-of-living index for the quarter ended September 30, 2009, but less than the cost-of-living index for the quarter ended September 30, 2008; and (3) the cost-of-living index for the quarter ended September 30, 2011, was greater than the cost-of-living indexes for all prior periods.

    For a participant who separated from service before January 1, 2010, the limitation under a defined benefit plan under Section 415(b)(1)(B) for 2012 is computed by multiplying the participant's 2011 compensation limitation by 1.0327 in order to reflect changes in the cost-of-living index from the quarter ended September 30, 2008, to the quarter ended September 30, 2011.  For a participant who separated from service during 2010 or 2011, the limitation under a defined benefit plan under Section 415(b)(1)(B) for 2012 is computed by multiplying the participant's 2011 compensation limitation by 1.0376 in order to reflect changes in the cost-of-living index from the quarter ended September 30, 2010, to the quarter ended September 30, 2011.

    The limitation for defined contribution plans under Section 415(c)(1)(A) is increased in 2012 from $49,000 to $50,000.

    The Code provides that various other dollar amounts are to be adjusted at the same time and in the same manner as the dollar limitation of Section 415(b)(1)(A).  After taking into account the applicable rounding rules, the amounts for 2012 are as follows:

    The limitation under Section 402(g)(1) on the exclusion for elective deferrals described in Section 402(g)(3) is increased from $16,500 to $17,000.

    The annual compensation limit under Sections 401(a)(17), 404(l), 408(k)(3)(C), and 408(k)(6)(D)(ii) is increased from $245,000 to $250,000.

    The dollar limitation under Section 416(i)(1)(A)(i) concerning the definition of key employee in a top-heavy plan is increased from $160,000 to $165,000.

    The dollar amount under Section 409(o)(1)(C)(ii) for determining the maximum account balance in an employee stock ownership plan subject to a 5 year distribution period is increased from $985,000 to $1,015,000, while the dollar amount used to determine the lengthening of the 5 year distribution period is increased from $195,000 to $200,000.

    The limitation used in the definition of highly compensated employee under Section 414(q)(1)(B) is increased from $110,000 to $115,000.

    The dollar limitation under Section 414(v)(2)(B)(i) for catch-up contributions to an applicable employer plan other than a plan described in Section 401(k)(11) or Section 408(p) for individuals aged 50 or over remains unchanged at $5,500.  The dollar limitation under Section 414(v)(2)(B)(ii) for catch-up contributions to an applicable employer plan described in Section 401(k)(11) or Section 408(p) for individuals aged 50 or over remains unchanged at $2,500.

    The annual compensation limitation under Section 401(a)(17) for eligible participants in certain governmental plans that, under the plan as in effect on July 1, 1993, allowed cost of living adjustments to the compensation limitation under the plan under Section 401(a)(17) to be taken into account, is increased from $360,000 to $375,000.

    The compensation amount under Section 408(k)(2)(C) regarding simplified employee pensions (SEPs) remains unchanged at $550.

    The limitation under Section 408(p)(2)(E) regarding SIMPLE retirement accounts remains unchanged at $11,500.

    The limitation on deferrals under Section 457(e)(15) concerning deferred compensation plans of state and local governments and tax-exempt organizations is increased from $16,500 to $17,000.

    The compensation amounts under Section 1.61 21(f)(5)(i) of the Income Tax Regulations concerning the definition of “control employee” for fringe benefit valuation purposes is increased from $95,000 to $100,000.  The compensation amount under Section 1.61 21(f)(5)(iii) is increased from $195,000 to $205,000.

    The Code also provides that several pension-related amounts are to be adjusted using the cost-of-living adjustment under Section 1(f)(3).  After taking the applicable rounding rules into account, the amounts for 2012 are as follows:

    The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for married taxpayers filing a joint return is increased from $34,000 to $34,500; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $36,500 to $37,500; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D), is increased from $56,500 to $57,500.

    The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for taxpayers filing as head of household is increased from $25,500 to $25,875; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $27,375 to $28,125; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D), is increased from $42,375 to $43,125.

    The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for all other taxpayers is increased from $17,000 to $17,250; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $18,250 to $18,750; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D), is increased from $28,250 to $28,750.

    The deductible amount under § 219(b)(5)(A) for an individual making qualified retirement contributions remains unchanged at $5,000.

    The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(i) for determining the deductible amount of an IRA contribution for taxpayers who are active participants filing a joint return or as a qualifying widow(er) is increased from $90,000 to $92,000.  The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(ii) for all other taxpayers (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) is increased from $56,000 to $58,000.  The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(7)(A) for a taxpayer who is not an active participant but whose spouse is an active participant is increased from $169,000 to $173,000.

    The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 408A(c)(3)(C)(ii)(I) for determining the maximum Roth IRA contribution for married taxpayers filing a joint return or for taxpayers filing as a qualifying widow(er) is increased from $169,000 to $173,000.  The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 408A(c)(3)(C)(ii)(II) for all other taxpayers (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) is increased from $107,000 to $110,000.

    The dollar amount under Section 430(c)(7)(D)(i)(II) used to determine excess employee compensation with respect to a single-employer defined benefit pension plan for which the special election under section 430(c)(2)(D) has been made is increases from $1,014,000 to $1,039,000.

  • 17 Oct 2011 1:28 PM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON undefined The Internal Revenue Service today advised tax professionals and tax firms that do not have Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs) to start the process to obtain EFINs now so they can meet new e-file requirements for 2012.

    Starting in January 2012, any paid preparer or firm that reasonably anticipates preparing and filing 11 or more Form 1040 series returns, Form 1041 returns, or a combination of Form 1040 series returns and Form 1041 returns generally must use IRS e-file. Their clients who file these forms, however, may independently choose to file by paper.

    To become Authorized IRS e-file Providers, preparers must create an e-Services account, submit an EFIN application and pass a suitability check. The approval process can take 45 days or more. For a firm or an individual, only one EFIN is needed.

    The 2012 requirement will mark the second and final phase of implementing a law that was intended to boost the electronic filing rate of income tax returns for individuals, trusts and estates. In 2011, the e-file mandate pertained to any paid preparer or firm that anticipated preparing and filing 100 or more returns. The e-file rate by paid preparers increased 12 percent in 2011.

    Currently, nearly 80 percent of individual tax returns are filed electronically. The IRS has processed more than 1 billion individual tax returns safely and securely since the nationwide debut of electronic filing in 1990.

    Preparers can review the process on IRS.gov at Become an Authorized e-file Provider or find additional guidance at the Frequently Asked Questions section.

    If the requirement will cause undue hardship, preparers may seek a one-year waiver by submitting Form 8944, Preparer e-file Hardship Waiver Request. If a client wants to file a paper return, the preparer should include Form 8948, Preparer Explanation for Not Filing Electronically, with the return. A taxpayer choice statement should be obtained and kept with the preparer’s records.

    Form 8948 does not have to be submitted with returns that are not currently accepted electronically by the IRS or the IRS has instructed taxpayers not to file them electronically. These returns are exempt from the federal e-file requirement. Other limited exemptions may apply.

  • 17 Oct 2011 1:27 PM | Anonymous

    Employers must make federal tax deposits electronically. All payments sent to the federal tax deposit mailbox in 

    St. Louis will be returned.

  • 17 Oct 2011 1:25 PM | Anonymous

    Many small employers that pay at least half of the premiums for employee health insurance coverage under a qualifying arrangement may be eligible for the small business health care tax credit. This credit can enable small businesses and small tax-exempt organizations to offer health insurance coverage for the first time. It also helps those already offering health insurance coverage to maintain the coverage they already have. The credit is specifically targeted to help small businesses and tax-exempt organizations that primarily employ 25 or fewer workers with average income of $50,000 or less.

    Here is what small employers need to know so they don’t miss out on the credit for tax year 2010:

    • Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and other recent disaster-related tax relief postponed certain tax filing and payment deadlines to Oct. 31, 2011. Qualifying businesses affected by these natural disasters still have time to file and claim the small employer health care credit on Form 8941 and claim it as part of the general business credit on Form 3800, which they would include with their tax return. For more information on the disaster relief visit IRS.gov.

    • Sole proprietors who file Form 1040, Partners and S-corporation shareholders who report their income on Form 1040 and had requested an extension have until Oct. 17 to complete their returns. They would also use Form 8941 to calculate the small employer health care credit and claim it as a general business credit on Form 3800, reflected on line 53 of Form 1040.

    • Tax-exempt organizations that file on a calendar year basis and requested an extension to file to Nov. 15 can use Form 8941 and then claim the credit on Form 990-T, Line 44f.

    • Businesses who have already filed can still claim the credit. For small businesses that have already filed and later determine they are eligible for the credit, they can always file an amended 2010 tax return. Corporations use Form 1120X and individual sole proprietors use Form 1040X.

    • Businesses that couldn’t use the credit in 2010 may be eligible to claim it in future years. Some businesses that already locked into health insurance plan structures and contributions for 2010 may not have had the opportunity to make any needed adjustments to qualify for the credit for 2010. So these businesses may be eligible to claim the credit on 2011 returns or in years beyond. Small employers can claim the credit for 2010 through 2013 and for two additional years beginning in 2014.

    For tax years 2010 to 2013, the maximum credit for eligible small business employers is 35 percent of premiums paid and for eligible tax-exempt employers the maximum credit is 25 percent of premiums paid. Beginning in 2014, the maximum tax credit will go up to 50 percent of premiums paid by eligible small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid by eligible tax-exempt organizations.

    Additional information about eligibility requirements and calculating the credit can be found on the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit for Small Employers page of IRS.gov.

    Links:

    YouTube Videos:

  • 04 Oct 2011 8:40 AM | Anonymous
    The Affordable Care Act of 2010 made some changes to healthcare programs offered by employers. If you participate in any of these programs, here’s what you should know that could impact your 2011 funds and your planning for 2012. Read full story.
  • 04 Oct 2011 8:36 AM | Anonymous
    People with disabilities often must follow different rules regarding the deduction of medical expenses. Below are some of the types of medical expenses that can be deducted for persons with disabilities. Although this information is not all inclusive, it does include references that may assist with your specific circumstances. Read full story.
  • 04 Oct 2011 8:33 AM | Anonymous
    The IRS has lifted the two-year time limit on a particular type of innocent spouse request in this new YouTube video.
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