IRS Tax News

  • 06 May 2019 2:40 PM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded small businesses that recent tax reform legislation lowered the backup withholding tax rate to 24 percent and the withholding rate that usually applies to bonuses and other supplemental wages to 22 percent. The agency also urged employers to encourage their employees to check their withholding using the IRS Withholding Calculator.

    This year, National Small Business Week is May 5-11. For more than 50 years, the week has recognized the important contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

    Backup withholding

    Under a key change made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) enacted in December 2017, the backup withholding tax rate dropped from 28 percent to 24 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2018. Backup withholding applies in various situations, including when a taxpayer fails to supply their correct taxpayer identification number (TIN) to a payer. Usually, a TIN is a Social Security number (SSN), but in some instances, it can be an employer identification number (EIN), individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) or adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN). Backup withholding also applies, following notification by the IRS, where a taxpayer under-reported interest or dividend income on their federal income tax return.

    Publication 1281, Backup Withholding for Missing and Incorrect Name/TINS, now available on IRS.gov, has information designed to help any payer required to impose backup withholding on their payees. Among other things, the publication features answers to 34 frequently asked questions.

    When backup withholding applies, payers must backup withhold tax from payments not otherwise subject to withholding. This includes most payments reported on Form 1099, such as interest, dividends, payments to independent contractors and payment card and third-party network transactions.

    Payees may be subject to backup withholding if they:

    • Fail to give a TIN,
    • Give an incorrect TIN,
    • Supply a TIN in an improper manner,
    • Under-report interest or dividends on their income tax return, or
    • Fail to certify that they’re not subject to backup withholding for under-reporting of interest and dividends.

    To stop backup withholding, the payee must correct any issues that caused it. They may need to give the correct TIN to the payer, resolve the under-reported income and pay the amount owed, or file a missing return. The Backup Withholding page, Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, and Publication 1335, Backup Withholding Questions and Answers, have more information.

    Payers report any backup withholding on Form 945, Annual Return of Withheld Federal Income Tax. The 2019 form is due Jan. 31, 2020. For more information about depositing backup withholding taxes, see Publication 15, Employer’s Tax Guide. Payers also show any backup withholding on information returns, such as Forms 1099, that they furnish to their payees and file with the IRS.

    Bonuses and other supplemental wages

    TCJA also lowered the tax withholding rates that normally apply to bonuses, back wages, payments for accumulated leave and other supplemental wages. In most cases, the new rate is 22 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2018. For payments exceeding $1 million, the rate is 37 percent. See Publication 15 for details.

    Paycheck Checkup

    Small businesses can help their employees by encouraging them to do a Paycheck Checkup. In addition, any business owner, such as a corporate officer, who receives wages from their business should also consider checking their withholding. The same goes for anyone who has a sideline business but continues to receive wages from another employer.

    Though a good idea any year, checking withholding is especially important this year given the number of changes brought about by the TCJA.

    The easiest way to do a Paycheck Checkup is to use the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov. Then, based on its recommendations, fill out and submit a new Form W-4. In many instances, this means claiming fewer withholding allowances or having an extra flat-dollar amount withheld from an employee’s pay.  
           
    Taxpayers who itemized in the past who now choose to take advantage of the increased standard deduction, as well as two-wage-earner households, employees with non-wage sources of income and those with complex tax situations, are at most risk of having too little tax withheld from their pay. Boosting tax withholding as early as possible in 2019 is the best way to head off another tax-time surprise next year. Anyone who had an important life change, such as getting married, getting divorced, buying a home or having a baby should also consider a Paycheck Checkup.


  • 02 May 2019 2:54 PM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON — In support of National Small Business Week, May 5-11, the Internal Revenue Service is emphasizing the many IRS online resources available to help small business owners and self-employed individuals handle the tax aspects of their business.

    For more than 50 years, the week has recognized the important contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

    For this year’s Small Business Week, the IRS will issue a series of news releases and tax tips focused on key topics such as:

    • Withholding taxes,
    • Data security tips,
    • Estimated tax payments,
    • Business credits and deductions and
    • Expanded tax benefits for depreciation and expensing.

    The IRS also has products and information on the sharing economy, including a Sharing Economy Tax Center, to help people quickly find answers to tax questions, as well as helpful tips and tax forms for business taxpayers. A YouTube video, Your Taxes in a Sharing Economy, also helps those working in the sharing economy understand their tax responsibilities.

    Small business/ self-employed products


  • 25 Apr 2019 4:38 PM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service is seeking qualified applicants for nomination to the Electronic Tax Administration Advisory Committee (ETAAC).

    The ETAAC provides an organized public forum for discussion of issues in electronic tax administration, such as prevention of identity theft and refund fraud. ETAAC supports the overriding goal that paperless filing is the preferred and most convenient method of filing tax and information returns. ETAAC members work closely with the Security Summit, a joint effort of the IRS, state tax administrators and the tax industry to fight electronic fraud.

    The IRS is looking for up to 10 qualified individuals who will serve three-year terms beginning in September 2019. Applicants should have experience in such areas as state tax administration, cybersecurity and information security, tax software development, tax preparation, payroll and tax financial product processing, systems management and improvement and implementation of customer service initiatives. The IRS also encourages representatives from consumer groups with an interest in tax issues to apply. Applications will be accepted through May 29, 2019.

    Nominations of qualified individuals may be made by letter and received from organizations or the individuals themselves. Applicants should complete the ETAAC application and include a short statement of interest and a resume. In addition, they should describe and document their qualifications, past and current affiliations and dealings with cybersecurity and electronic tax administration. Applicants must complete and submit a tax check waiver form and are also subject to an IRS practitioner background check and an FBI criminal background check. More information is available on IRS.gov.

    ETAAC is a Federal Advisory Committee established by the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998.

    Questions about the ETAAC and the application process can be e-mailed to publicliaison@irs.gov.


  • 09 Apr 2019 9:24 PM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced it seeks civic-minded volunteers to serve on the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP). The TAP is a federal advisory committee that listens to taxpayers, identifies major taxpayer concerns and makes recommendations for improving IRS service and customer satisfaction.

    Taxpayers interested in serving on the panel may apply through May 3, 2019.

    To the extent possible, the TAP includes members from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and one international member who represents U.S. taxpayers working, living or doing business abroad or in a U.S. territory. Each member is appointed to represent the interests of taxpayers in their geographic location as well as taxpayers overall.

    “In trying to comply with an increasingly complex tax system, taxpayers may find they need different services than the IRS is currently providing,” said Nina E. Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate. “The TAP is vital because it provides the IRS with the taxpayers’ perspective as well as recommendations for improvement. This helps the IRS deliver the best possible service to assist taxpayers in meeting their tax obligations.” 

    The TAP reports annually to the Secretary of the Treasury, the IRS Commissioner and the National Taxpayer Advocate. The Office of the Taxpayer Advocate is an independent organization within the IRS that provides support for and oversight of the TAP.

    To be a member of the TAP, a person must be a U.S. citizen, be current with his or her federal tax obligations, be able to commit 200 to 300 volunteer hours during the year and pass a Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal background check. Members cannot be federally-registered lobbyists. In addition, current Department of the Treasury or IRS employees cannot serve on the panel, and former Department of the Treasury or IRS employees and former TAP members must have a three-year separation from their service to be considered for appointment. Tax practitioner applicants must be in good standing with the IRS (meaning not currently under suspension or disbarment).

    New TAP members will serve a three-year term starting in December 2019. Applicants chosen as alternate members will be considered to fill any vacancies that open in their areas during the next three years.

    The TAP is seeking members in the following locations: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

    The panel is seeking alternates in the following locations: Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and Wyoming.

    Federal advisory committees are required to have a balanced membership in terms of the points of view represented. As such, applicants from under-represented groups, like Native Americans and non-tax professionals, are encouraged to apply. All timely applications, however, will be given consideration.

    The IRS is pleased to announce 25 new members were selected for 2019. The new members join the returning members to round out the 59-member panel for 2019.

    Applications for the TAP will be accepted between April 8, 2019, and May 3, 2019. Apply online. For additional information about the TAP or the application process, visit www.improveirs.org or call 888-912-1227 (a toll-free call) and select prompt number five. Callers who are outside of the U.S. may call 214-413-6523 (not a toll-free call). Or contact the TAP staff at taxpayeradvocacypanel@irs.gov for assistance.


  • 08 Apr 2019 1:30 PM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service and the Security Summit partners today announced new results from 2018 that show major progress in the fight against tax-related identity theft and added protection for thousands of taxpayers and billions of dollars.

    Since forming the Security Summit in 2015, the IRS, state tax agencies and the private-sector tax industry enacted joint initiatives, many invisible to taxpayers, that have resulted in fewer fraudulent tax returns entering tax processing systems, fewer confirmed identity theft returns being stopped, fewer bad refunds being issued and fewer Americans identifying themselves as victims of tax-related identity theft.

    “The IRS and the Security Summit continue to make tremendous inroads in the battle against identity theft,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “In 2018, our partnership protected more taxpayers and more tax dollars from tax-related identity theft. At a time when many in the private sector continue to struggle with these issues, the tax community has made major progress working together to stop identity theft and refund fraud.”

    Key annual indicators mark major progress

    The Security Summit held its first meetings in 2015 and enacted its first round of initiatives in 2016. The Summit partners shared dozens of elements from tax returns that could be indicators of fraud such as the length of time to prepare the return. The IRS enhanced and expanded its fraud filters and added protections to business as well as individual tax returns. States requested more information such as driver’s license numbers. Software providers strengthened password requirements to protect accounts and added multi-factor identity authentication. Debit card companies tightened their practices, and more financial institutions helped recover fraudulent refunds.

    As part of this team effort, the Summit partners established the Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Information Sharing and Analysis Center (IDTTRF-ISAC) to detect and prevent identity theft tax refund fraud. There are now 65 groups participating in the ISAC, able to react and respond quickly as scams arise.

    As the Summit partners made these and other changes, the overall results improved immediately as fewer fraudulent returns entered IRS processing systems. Here are key, calendar-year 2018 indicators and how they compare to the 2015 base year:

    • Between 2015 and 2018, the number of taxpayers reporting they were identity theft victims fell 71 percent. These are taxpayers who file identity theft affidavits. In 2018, the IRS received 199,000 reports from taxpayers compared to 677,000 in 2015. This was the third consecutive year this number declined. There were 242,000 identity theft reports in 2017 and 401,000 in 2016. 
    • Between 2015 and 2018, the number of confirmed identity theft returns stopped by the IRS declined by 54 percent. For 2018, there was a slight, 9 percent uptick in the number of confirmed identity theft returns, 649,000 compared to 597,000 in 2017. But the 2018 count is still significantly below the 883,000 in 2016 and the 1.4 million in 2015.
    • Between 2015 and 2018, the IRS protected a combined $24 billion in fraudulent refunds by stopping the confirmed identity theft returns. In 2018, the 649,000 confirmed fraudulent returns tried to obtain $3.1 billion in refunds. The IRS protected $6 billion in 2017, $6.4 billion in 2016 and $8.7 billion in 2015.
    • Between 2015 and 2018, financial industry partners recovered an additional $1.4 billion in fraudulent refunds. The financial industry is a key partner in fighting identity theft, helping the IRS and states recover fraudulent refunds that may have been issued. But as fewer fraudulent tax returns enter the system, fewer fraudulent refunds are being issued. In 2018, financial institutions recovered 84,000 federal refunds totaling $112 million for the IRS. Institutions recovered 144,000 refunds worth $204 million in 2017, 124,000 refunds worth $281 million in 2016 and 249,000 refunds totaling $852 million in 2015.

    “Despite these major successes, more work remains,” Rettig said. “Identity thieves are often members of sophisticated criminal syndicates, based here and abroad. They have the resources, the technology and the skills to carry on this fight. The IRS and the Summit partners must continue to work together to protect taxpayers as cyberthieves continue to evolve and adjust their tactics.”

    Identity thieves adjust; take aim at businesses, tax professionals

    As the Security Summit partners make progress, identity thieves continue to change their targets and tactics. Two areas of concern are business identity theft and data theft from tax professionals.

    The number of businesses reporting they are victims of tax-related identity theft increased by 10 percent for 2018, with 2,450 reports compared to 2,233 reports in 2017. Following in the footsteps of successful work protecting individual taxpayers, the Security Summit partners have enacted similar protections for business tax returns given that business identity theft is a relatively new area.

    Identity thieves use several different tactics with businesses. They may file a fraudulent tax return, a fraudulent quarterly tax payment or use stolen Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) to create fraudulent Forms W-2. Thieves also may impersonate business executives to convince payroll or finance employees to disclose employee W-2 information or make wire transfers. Partnerships, trusts and estates also can be at risk for tax-related identity theft.

    Because of Security Summit efforts, criminals need more personal data details to impersonate taxpayers, so they have targeted tax professionals and their information. Theft of taxpayer information held by tax professionals remains a major issue. Thieves can breach practitioners’ computer systems, steal client data and file fraudulent tax returns before a preparer may even know they have been victimized.

    Thieves may also steal the tax practitioners Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN) or Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) to help with identity theft and filing false returns. Tax professionals who experience a data theft should contact their IRS stakeholder liaison immediately for assistance.

    Individuals, businesses and tax professionals can find more information about identity theft, how to identify it, how to prevent it and how to report it at IRS.gov/identitytheft


  • 04 Apr 2019 4:40 PM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded U.S. citizens and resident aliens, including those with dual citizenship, that if they have a foreign bank or financial account, April 15, 2019, is the deadline to file their annual Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). They should also check to see if they have a U.S. tax liability and a federal tax return filing requirement.

    Here is a rundown of key points to keep in mind:

    Deadline for reporting foreign accounts
    The deadline for filing the FBAR is the same as for a federal income tax return. This means that the 2018 FBAR, Form 114, must be filed electronically with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) by April 15, 2019. FinCEN grants filers missing the April 15 deadline an automatic extension until Oct. 15, 2019, to file the FBAR. Taxpayers don’t file the FBAR with individual, business, trust or estate tax returns. Taxpayers who want to paper-file their FBAR must call the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s Regulatory Helpline to request an exemption from e-filing.

    In general, the filing requirement applies to anyone who had an interest in, or signature or other authority, over foreign financial accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during 2018. Because of this threshold, the IRS encourages taxpayers with foreign assets, even relatively small ones, to check if this filing requirement applies to them. The form is only available through the BSA E-Filing System website.

    Taxpayers with foreign financial accounts that report their accounts to the U.S Treasury Department should also visit the FBAR Fact Sheet posted on IRS.gov.

    IRS ends Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP)
    The IRS will continue to use tools besides voluntary disclosure to combat offshore tax avoidance, including taxpayer education, whistleblower leads, civil examination and criminal prosecution. The IRS continues to use streamlined filing compliance procedures that will remain in place and be available to eligible taxpayers. But, as with OVDP, the IRS said it may end the streamlined filing compliance procedures at some point. Full details of the OVDP and streamlined procedures are available at Options Available for U.S. Taxpayers with Undisclosed Foreign Financial Assets.

    Most people abroad need to file
    An income tax filing requirement generally applies even if a taxpayer qualifies for tax benefits, such as the Foreign Earned Income exclusion or the Foreign Tax credit, which substantially reduce or eliminate U.S. tax liability. These tax benefits are only available if an eligible taxpayer files a U.S. income tax return.

    A special extended filing and payment deadline applies to U.S. citizens and resident aliens who live and work abroad. For U.S. citizens and resident aliens whose tax home and abode are outside the United States and Puerto Rico, the income tax filing and payment deadline is June 17, 2019. Taxpayers have two extra days because the normal extended deadline—June 15—falls on a Saturday this year.  The same applies for those serving in the military outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico on the regular due date of their tax return.

    Interest, currently at the rate of 6 percent per year, compounded daily, will apply to any payment received after the regular April 15 deadline. See U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad for details.

    Nonresident aliens who received income from U.S. sources in 2018 also must determine whether they have a U.S. tax obligation. The filing deadline for nonresident aliens is April 15. See Taxation of Nonresident Aliens on IRS.gov.

    Special income tax return reporting for foreign accounts and assets
    In addition to the annual Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) requirements outlined above, federal law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report any worldwide income, including income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and securities accounts. In most cases, affected taxpayers need to complete and attach Schedule B to their tax return. Part III of Schedule B asks about the existence of foreign accounts, such as bank and securities accounts, and usually requires U.S. citizens to report these items for the country in which each account is located.

    Also, separate from the foreign accounts reporting requirements above, certain taxpayers may also have to complete and attach to their return Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets. Generally, U.S. citizens, resident aliens and certain nonresident aliens must report specified foreign financial assets on this form if the aggregate value of those assets exceeds certain thresholds. See the instructions for this form for details.

    Specified domestic entity reporting
    Certain domestic corporations, partnerships and trusts that are considered formed for the purpose of holding (directly or indirectly) specified foreign financial assets must file Form 8938 if the total value of those assets exceeds $50,000 on the last day of the tax year or $75,000 at any time during the tax year.

    For more information on specified domestic entity reporting, as well as the types of specified foreign financial assets that must be reported, see Do I need to file Form 8938, “Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets”? and its instructions.

    Report in U.S. dollars
    Any income received, or deductible expenses paid in foreign currency must be reported on a U.S. tax return in U.S. dollars. Likewise, any tax payments must be made in U.S. dollars.

    Both FinCen Form 114 and IRS Form 8938 require the use of a December 31 exchange rate for all transactions, regardless of the actual exchange rate on the date of the transaction. Generally, the IRS accepts any posted exchange rate that is used consistently. For more information on exchange rates, see Foreign Currency and Currency Exchange Rates.

    Expatriate reporting
    Taxpayers who relinquished their U.S. citizenship or ceased to be lawful permanent residents of the United States during 2018 must file a dual-status alien tax return, attaching Form 8854, Initial and Annual Expatriation Statement. A copy of the Form 8854 must also be filed with Internal Revenue Service, Philadelphia, PA 19255-0049, by the due date of the tax return (including extensions). See the instructions for this form and Notice 2009-85, Guidance for Expatriates Under Section 877A, for further details.

    Choose Free File or e-file
    U.S. citizens and resident aliens living abroad can use IRS Free File to prepare and electronically file their tax returns for free. This means both U.S. citizens and resident aliens living abroad with adjusted gross incomes (AGI) of $66,000 or less can use brand-name software to prepare their returns and then e-file them for free. A limited number of companies provide software that can accommodate foreign addresses.

    A second option, Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms, has no income limit and is best suited to people who are comfortable preparing their own tax return. Both the e-file and Free File electronic filing options are available until Oct. 15, 2019, for anyone filing a 2018 tax return. Check out the e-file link on IRS.gov for details on the various electronic filing options. Free File is not available to nonresident aliens required to file a Form 1040NR.

    More information available
    Any U.S. taxpayer here or abroad with tax questions can refer to the International Taxpayers page and use the online IRS Tax Map and the International Tax Topic Index to get answers. These online tools group IRS forms, publications and web pages by subject and provide users with a single-entry point to

    Taxpayers who are looking for return preparers abroad should visit the Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications.

    To help avoid delays with tax refunds, taxpayers living abroad should visit Helpful Tips for Effectively Receiving a Tax Refund for Taxpayers Living Abroad on IRS.gov.

    More information on the tax rules that apply to U.S. citizens and resident aliens living abroad can be found in Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, available on IRS.gov.


  • 02 Apr 2019 2:01 PM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today urged taxpayers to file an accurate tax return on time, even if they owe but can’t pay in full. The IRS also recommends that taxpayers do a Paycheck Checkup early in 2019 to avoid having too much or too little tax withheld.

    Most taxpayers are being affected by major tax law changes. While most will get a tax refund, others may find that they owe taxes. Those who owe may qualify for a waiver of the estimated tax penalty that normally applies. See Form 2210, Underpayment of Estimated Tax by Individuals, Estates and Trusts, and its instructions for details.

    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.

    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.

    Checking on refunds

    The IRS issues nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. Using the “Where’s My Refund?” online tool, taxpayers can start checking on the status of their return within 24 hours after the IRS receives an e-filed return or four weeks after the taxpayer mailed a paper return. The tool has a tracker that displays progress through three phases: (1) Return Received; (2) Refund Approved; and (3) Refund Sent.

    All that is needed to use “Where’s My Refund?” is the taxpayer’s Social Security number, tax filing status (such as single, married, head of household) and exact amount of the tax refund claimed on the return.

    “Where’s My Refund?” is updated no more than once every 24 hours, usually overnight, so there’s no need to check the status more often.

    Check withholding

    The IRS encourages taxpayers to review their tax withholding using the IRS Withholding Calculator and make any needed adjustments early in 2019. Taxpayers should check their withholding each year and when life changes occur, such as marriage, childbirth, adoption or buying a home. 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 tax refund by adjusting their tax withholding.

    For 2019, it’s important to review withholding and do a Paycheck Checkup. This is especially true for taxpayers who adjusted their withholding 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 tax refund for next year.

    How to make a tax payment

    Taxpayers should visit the “Pay” tab on IRS.gov to see their payment options. Most tax software products give taxpayers various payment options, including the option to withdraw the funds from a bank account. These include:

    • IRS Direct Pay offers taxpayers a free, fast, secure and easy way to make an electronic payment from their bank account to the U.S. Treasury.
    • Use an approved payment processor to pay by credit or debit card for a fee.
    • Mail checks or money orders made out to the U.S. Treasury.
    • Make monthly or quarterly tax payments using IRS Direct Pay or through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.

    Can’t pay a tax bill?

    Everyone should file their 2018 tax return by the tax filing deadline regardless of whether they can pay in full. Taxpayers who can’t pay all their taxes have options including: 

    • Online Payment Agreement — Individuals who owe $50,000 or less in combined income tax, penalties and interest and businesses that owe $25,000 or less in payroll tax and have filed all tax returns may qualify for an Online Payment Agreement. Most taxpayers qualify for this option and an agreement can usually be set up on IRS.gov in a matter of minutes.
    • Installment Agreement — Installment agreements are paid by direct deposit from a bank account or a payroll deduction.
    • Delaying Collection — If the IRS determines a taxpayer is unable to pay, it may delay collection until the taxpayer's financial condition improves.
    • Offer in Compromise (OIC) — Taxpayers who qualify enter into an agreement with the IRS that settles their tax liability for less than the full amount owed.

    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.

    More resources:


  • 29 Mar 2019 2:38 PM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today clarified the tax treatment of state and local tax refunds arising from any year in which the new limit on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction is in effect.

    In Revenue Ruling 2019-11, posted today on IRS.gov, the IRS provided four examples illustrating how the long-standing tax benefit rule interacts with the new SALT limit to determine the portion of any state or local tax refund that must be included on the taxpayer’s federal income tax return. Today’s announcement does not affect state tax refunds received in 2018 for tax returns currently being filed.

    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), enacted in December 2017, limited the itemized deduction for state and local taxes to $5,000 for a married person filing a separate return and $10,000 for all other tax filers. The limit applies to tax years 2018 to 2025.

    As in the past, state and local tax refunds are not subject to tax if a taxpayer chose the standard deduction for the year in which the tax was paid. But if a taxpayer itemized deductions for that year on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, part or all of the refund may be subject to tax, to the extent the taxpayer received a tax benefit from the deduction.

    Taxpayers who are impacted by the SALT limit—those taxpayers who itemize deductions and who paid state and local taxes in excess of the SALT limit—may not be required to include the entire state or local tax refund in income in the following year. A key part of that calculation is determining the amount the taxpayer would have deducted had the taxpayer only paid the actual state and local tax liability—that is, no refund and no balance due.

    In one example described in the ruling, a single taxpayer itemizes and claims deductions totaling $15,000 on the taxpayer’s 2018 federal income tax return. A total of $12,000 in state and local taxes is listed on the return, including state and local income taxes of $7,000. Because of the limit, however, the taxpayer’s SALT deduction is only $10,000. In 2019, the taxpayer receives a $750 refund of state income taxes paid in 2018, meaning the taxpayer’s actual 2018 state income tax liability was $6,250 ($7,000 paid minus $750 refund). Accordingly, the taxpayer’s 2018 SALT deduction would still have been $10,000, even if it had been figured based on the actual $6,250 state and local income tax liability for 2018. The taxpayer did not receive a tax benefit on the taxpayer’s 2018 federal income tax return from the taxpayer’s overpayment of state income tax in 2018. Thus, the taxpayer is not required to include the taxpayer’s 2019 state income tax refund on the taxpayer’s 2019 return.

    See the ruling for details on all four examples.

    Today’s ruling has no impact on state or local tax refunds received in 2018 and reportable on 2018 returns taxpayers are filing this season. For information, including worksheets for reporting these refunds, see the 2018 instructions for Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, and Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income. 

    For information about other TCJA provisions, visit IRS.gov/taxreform.


  • 27 Mar 2019 1:48 PM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON — As part of its ongoing security review, the Internal Revenue Service announced today that starting May 13 only individuals with tax identification numbers may request an Employer Identification Number (EIN) as the “responsible party” on the application.

    An EIN is a nine-digit tax identification number assigned to sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, estates, trusts, employee retirement plans and other entities for tax filing and reporting purposes.

    The change will prohibit entities from using their own EINs to obtain additional EINs. The requirement will apply to both the paper Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number, and online EIN application.

    Individuals named as responsible party must have either a Social Security number (SSN) or an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). By making the announcement weeks in advance, entities and their representatives will have time to identify the proper responsible official and comply with the new policy.

    The Form SS-4 Instructions provide a detailed explanation of who should be the responsible party for various types of entities. Generally, the responsible party is the person who ultimately owns or controls the entity or who exercises ultimate effective control over the entity. In cases where more than one person meets that definition, the entity may decide which individual should be the responsible party.

    Only governmental entities (federal, state, local and tribal) are exempt from the responsible party requirement as well as the military, including state national guards.

    There is no change for tax professionals who may act as third-party designees for entities and complete the paper or online applications on behalf of clients.

    The new requirement will provide greater security to the EIN process by requiring an individual to be the responsible party and improve transparency. If there are changes to the responsible party, the entity can change the responsible official designation by completing Form 8822-B, Change of Address or Responsible Party. A Form 8822-B must be filed within 60 days of a change.


  • 22 Mar 2019 9:27 PM | Maureen Gelwicks (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today provided additional expanded penalty relief to taxpayers whose 2018 federal income tax withholding and estimated tax payments fell short of their total tax liability for the year.
     
    The IRS is lowering to 80 percent the threshold required to qualify for this relief. Under the relief originally announced Jan. 16, the threshold was 85 percent. The usual percentage threshold is 90 percent to avoid a penalty.

    “We heard the concerns from taxpayers and others in the tax community, and we made this adjustment in an effort to be responsive to a unique scenario this year,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “The expanded penalty waiver will help many taxpayers who didn’t have enough tax withheld. We continue to urge people to check their withholding again this year to make sure they are having the right amount of tax withheld for 2019.”

    This means that the IRS is now waiving the estimated tax penalty for any taxpayer who paid at least 80 percent of their total tax liability during the year through federal income tax withholding, quarterly estimated tax payments or a combination of the two.
     
    Today’s revised waiver computation will be integrated into commercially-available tax software and reflected in the forthcoming revision of the instructions for Form 2210, Underpayment of Estimated Tax by Individuals, Estates, and Trusts.

    Taxpayers who have already filed for tax year 2018 but qualify for this expanded relief may claim a refund by filing Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement and include the statement “80% Waiver of estimated tax penalty” on Line 7.  This form cannot be filed electronically.

    Today’s expanded relief will help many taxpayers who owe tax when they file, including taxpayers who did not 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.
     
    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 some might have had too much or too little tax withheld when they file their tax returns. If a taxpayer did not submit a revised W-4 withholding form to their employer or increase their estimated tax payments, they may have not had enough tax withheld during the tax year.
     
    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. This penalty is an interest based amount approximately equivalent to the federal interest on the amount not paid in a timely manner. 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 80 percent. This means that a taxpayer will not owe a penalty if they paid at least 80 percent of their total 2018 tax liability. If the taxpayer paid less than 80 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 2019-25, posted today on IRS.gov.
     
    Like last year, the IRS urges everyone to take a Paycheck Checkup and review 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, the updated Withholding Calculator is now available on IRS.gov.

    The IRS has many useful resources for anyone interested in learning more about tax reform, including 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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is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.

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