Archive for IRS Tax Tips

Important Facts about Filing Late and Paying Penalties

Issue Number:    IRS Tax Tip 2017-51

Important Facts about Filing Late and Paying Penalties

April 18 was this year’s deadline for most people to file their federal tax return and pay any tax they owe. If taxpayers are due a refund, there is no penalty if they file a late tax return.

Taxpayers who owe tax, and failed to file and pay on time, will most likely owe interest and penalties on the tax they pay late. To keep interest and penalties to a minimum, taxpayers should file their tax return and pay any tax owed as soon as possible.

Here are some facts that taxpayers should know:

  1. Two penalties may apply. One penalty is for filing late and one is for paying late. They can add up fast. Interest accrues on top of penalties
  2. Penalty for late filing. If taxpayers file their 2016 tax return more than 60 days after the due date or extended due date, the minimum penalty is $205 or, if they owe less than $205, 100 percent of the unpaid tax. Otherwise, the penalty can be as much as 5 percent of their unpaid taxes each month up to a maximum of 25 percent.
  3. Penalty for late payment. The penalty is generally 0.5 percent of taxpayers’ unpaid taxes per month. It can build up to as much as 25 percent of their unpaid taxes.
  4. Combined penalty per month. If both the late filing and late payment penalties apply, the maximum amount charged for the two penalties is 5 percent per month.
  5. Taxpayers should file even if they can’t pay. Filing  and paying as soon as possible will keep interest and penalties to a minimum. IRS e-file and Free File programs are available for  returns filed after the deadline. If a taxpayer can’t pay in full, getting a loan or paying by debit or credit card may be less expensive than owing the IRS.
  6. Payment options. Taxpayers should explore their payment options at IRS.gov/payments. For individuals, IRS Direct Pay is a fast and free way to pay directly from a checking or savings account. The IRS will work with taxpayers to help them resolve their tax debt. Most people can set up a payment plan using the Online Payment Agreement tool on IRS.gov.
  7. Late payment penalty may not apply. If taxpayers requested an extension of time to file their income tax return by the tax due date and paid at least 90 percent of the taxes they owe, they may not face a failure-to-pay penalty. However, they must pay the remaining balance by the extended due date. Taxpayers will owe interest on any taxes they pay after the April 18 due date.
  8. No penalty if reasonable cause.  Taxpayers will not have to pay a failure-to-file or failure-to-pay penalty if they can show reasonable cause for not filing or paying on time.

Taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a 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 can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.

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IRS Offers IRA Tax Tips for the 2016 Tax Year

IRS Offers IRA Tax Tips for the 2016 Tax Year

Taxpayers often have questions about Individual Retirement Arrangements, or IRAs. Common questions include: When can a person contribute, how does an IRA impact taxes, and what are other common rules.

The IRS offers the following tax tips on IRAs:

  • Age Rules. Taxpayers must be under age 70½ at the end of the tax year to contribute to a traditional IRA. There is no age limit to contribute to a Roth IRA.
  • Compensation Rules. A taxpayer must have taxable compensation to contribute to an IRA. This includes income from wages and salaries and net self-employment income. It also includes tips, commissions, bonuses and alimony. If a taxpayer is married and files a joint tax return, only one spouse needs to have compensation in most cases.
  • When to Contribute. Taxpayers may contribute to an IRA at any time during the year. To count for 2016, a person must contribute by the due date of their tax return. This does not include extensions. This means most people must contribute by April 18, 2017. Taxpayers who contribute between Jan. 1 and April 18 need to advise the plan sponsor of year they wish to apply the contribution (2016 or 2017).
  • Contribution Limits. Generally, the most a taxpayer can contribute to their IRA for 2016 is the smaller of either their taxable compensation for the year or $5,500. If the taxpayer is 50 or older at the end of 2016, the maximum amount they may contribute increases to $6,500. If a person contributes more than these limits, an additional tax will apply. The additional tax is six percent of the excess amount contributed that is in their account at the end of the year.
  • Taxability Rules. Normally taxpayers don’t pay income tax on funds in a traditional IRA until they start taking distributions from it. Qualified distributions from a Roth IRA are tax-free.
  • Deductibility Rules. Taxpayers may be able to deduct some or all of their contributions to their traditional IRA. See IRS Publication 590-A.
  • Saver’s Credit. A taxpayer who contributes to an IRA may also qualify for the Saver’s Credit. It can reduce a person’s taxes up to $2,000 if they file a joint return. Use Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to claim the credit. A taxpayer may file either Form 1040A or 1040 to claim the Saver’s Credit.
  • Rollovers of Retirement Plan and IRA Distributions. When taxpayers roll over a retirement plan distribution, they generally don’t pay tax on it until they withdraw it from the new plan. If they don’t roll over their distribution, it will be taxable (other than qualified Roth distributions and any amounts already taxed). The payment may also be subject to additional tax unless the taxpayer is eligible for one of the exceptions to the 10% additional tax on early distributions.
  • myRA. If a taxpayer’s employer does not offer a retirement plan, they may want to consider a myRA. This is a retirement savings plan offered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. It’s safe and affordable. Taxpayer’s may also direct deposit their entire refund or a portion of it into an existing myRA.

Taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount from their prior-year tax return to verify their identity. Learn more about how to verify your identity and electronically sign your tax return at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.

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Medical and Dental Expenses May Impact Your Taxes

Issue Number:    IRS Tax Tip 2017-26

Medical and Dental Expenses May Impact Your Taxes 

Medical expenses can trim taxes. Keeping good records and knowing what to deduct make all the difference. Here are some tips to help taxpayers know what qualifies as medical and dental expenses:

  • Itemize. Taxpayers can only claim medical expenses that they paid for in 2016 if they itemize deductions on a federal tax return.
  • Qualifying Expenses. Taxpayers can include most medical and dental costs that they paid for themselves, their spouses and their dependents including:
    • The costs of diagnosing, treating, easing or preventing disease.
    • The costs paid for prescription drugs and insulin.
    • The costs paid for insurance premiums for policies that cover medical care.
    • Some long-term care insurance costs.

Exceptions and special rules apply. Costs reimbursed by insurance or other sources normally do not qualify for a deduction. More examples of what costs taxpayers can and can’t deduct are in IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.

  • Travel Costs Count. It is possible to deduct travel costs paid for medical care. This includes costs such as public transportation, ambulance service, tolls and parking fees. For use of a car, deduct either the actual costs or the standard mileage rate for medical travel. The rate is 19 cents per mile for 2016.
  • No Double Benefit. Don’t claim a tax deduction for medical expenses paid with funds from your Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Arrangements. Amounts paid with funds from these plans are usually tax-free.
  • Use the Tool. Taxpayers can use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on IRS.gov to see if they can deduct their medical expenses.

Taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a 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 can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.

 

Always consult your tax professional.  info@laebusiness.com

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Claim the Earned Income Tax Credit

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IRS Tax Tip 2017-04

Inside This Issue

Claim the Earned Income Tax Credit
The Earned Income Tax Credit has helped workers with low and moderate incomes get a tax break for 40 plus years. Yet, one out of every five eligible workers fails to claim it. Here are some things taxpayers should know about the EITC:

  • Review Your Eligibility. Taxpayers who worked and earned under $53,505 may qualify for EITC. Filers should review EITC eligibility rules if their household income or family situation has changed. They may qualify for EITC this year, even if they did not in the past. To qualify, a taxpayer must file a federal income tax return claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit. This is true even if a taxpayer is not otherwise required to file a tax return. Use the EITC Assistant tool to find out about eligibility rules and amounts.

 

  • Know the Rules. Taxpayers need to understand the rules before they claim the EITC. It is important to get this right. Here are some factors to consider:
    Taxpayers who are married and file a separate return do not qualify for the EITC.
    Filers must have a Social Security number valid for employment for themselves, their spouse (if married), and any qualifying child listed on their filed tax return.
    Taxpayers must have earned income. This may include earnings from working for someone else as an employee or being self-employed.
    Filers may be married or single, with or without children to qualify. Those who do not have children must also meet the age, residency and dependency rules. For a child to qualify, they must have lived with the taxpayer for more than six months in 2016. In addition, the child must meet the age, residency, relationship and joint return rules to qualify.
    U.S. Armed Forces members serving in a combat zone have special rules that apply.

 

  • Lower Your Tax or Get a Refund. Filers who qualify for EITC could pay less federal tax, no tax or even get a refund. The EITC could be worth up to $6,269. The average credit was $2,482 last year.

 

  • Use Free Services. For those who do their own taxes, the best way to file a return to claim EITC is to use IRS Free File. Free brand name software will figure out taxes and the EITC automatically. Combining e-file with direct deposit is the fastest and safest way to get a refund. Free File is only available on IRS.gov/freefile.
    Taxpayers can also get free help preparing and e-filing their return to claim the EITC. The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA program, offers free help at thousands of sites around the country. Get help with health care law tax provisions with Free File or VITA.

 

  • Refunds Held Until Feb 15. Beginning in 2017, if taxpayers claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit on their tax return, the IRS must hold their refund until at least February 15. This applies to the entire refund, even the portion not associated with these credits. However, the IRS will begin accepting and processing tax returns once the filing season begins. Taxpayers should file as usual. There is no need to wait until February 15.

 

For more on EITC, see IRS Publication 596, Earned Income Credit. It’s available in English and Spanish on IRS.gov.

Taxpayers should keep an eye out for IRS EITC Awareness Day. Look for promotional information and locally scheduled events on or around January 27, 2017.
All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a 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 can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.

Always consult your tax professional for additional information, info@laebusiness.com

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Employers & Health Coverage Providers:

You Have More Time in 2017 to Provide Information Forms to Covered Individuals
IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2016-78, November 30, 2016
The IRS extended the 2017 due date for employers and coverage providers to furnish information statements to individuals. The due dates to file those returns with the IRS are not extended. This chart can help you understand the upcoming deadlines.

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If you file 250 or more Forms 1095-B or Forms 1095-C, you must electronically file them with the IRS. Electronically filing ACA information returns requires an application process separate from other electronic filing systems. Additional information about electronic filing of ACA Information Returns is on the Affordable Care Act Information Reporting (AIR) Program page on IRS.gov and in Publications 5164 and 5165.

**Applicable large employers that provide employer-sponsored self-insured health coverage to non-employees may use either Forms 1095-B or Form 1095-C to report coverage for those individuals and other family members.
This chart applies only for reporting in 2017 for coverage in 2016.
See IRS Notice 2016-70 for more information.

 

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IRS Gives Tax Relief to Victims of Hurricane Matthew

IRS Gives Tax Relief to Victims of Hurricane Matthew; Many Extension Filers in North Carolina Now Affected; Relief for Other States Expected Soon

IR-2016-131, Oct. 11, 2016

WASHINGTON –– North Carolina storm victims will have until March 15, 2017, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments, with similar relief expected soon for Hurricane Matthew victims in other states, the Internal Revenue Service announced today. All workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization also qualify for relief.
Following this week’s disaster declaration for individual assistance issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the IRS said that affected taxpayers in Beaufort, Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Edgecombe, Hoke, Lenoir, Nash, Pitt and Robeson counties will receive this and other special tax relief. Locations in other states are expected to be added in coming days, based on damage assessments by FEMA.
The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on Oct. 4, 2016. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until March 15, 2017, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. This includes the Jan. 17 deadline for making quarterly estimated tax payments. For individual tax filers, it also includes 2015 income tax returns that received a tax-filing extension until Oct. 17, 2016. The IRS noted, however, that because tax payments related to these 2015 returns were originally due on April 18, 2016, those are not eligible for this relief.
A variety of business tax deadlines are also affected including the Oct. 31 and Jan. 31 deadlines for quarterly payroll and excise tax returns. It also includes the special March 1 deadline that applies to farmers and fishermen who choose to forgo making quarterly estimated tax payments.
In addition, the IRS is waiving late-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due on or after Oct. 4 and before Oct. 19 if the deposits are made by Oct. 19, 2016. Details on available relief can be found on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.
The IRS automatically provides filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in the disaster area. Thus, taxpayers need not contact the IRS to get this relief. However, if an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date falling within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.
In addition, the IRS will work with any taxpayer who lives outside the disaster area but whose records necessary to meet a deadline occurring during the postponement period are located in the affected area. Taxpayers qualifying for relief who live outside the disaster area need to contact the IRS at 866-562-5227.
Individuals and businesses who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (in this instance, the 2016 return normally filed next year), or the return for the prior year (2015). See Publication 547 for details.
The tax relief is part of a coordinated federal response to the damage caused by severe storms and flooding and is based on local damage assessments by FEMA. For information on disaster recovery, visit disasterassistance.gov.

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Tax Effects of Divorce or Separation

Issue Number: IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2016-23


Tax Effects of Divorce or Separation

If you are divorcing or recently divorced, taxes may be the last thing on your mind. However, these events can have a big impact on your wallet. Alimony and a name or address change are just a few items you may need to consider. Here are some key tax tips to keep in mind:
  • Child Support.  Child support payments are not deductible and if you received child support, it is not taxable.
  • Alimony Paid.  You can deduct alimony paid to or for a spouse or former spouse under a divorce or separation decree, regardless of whether you itemize deductions. Voluntary payments made outside a divorce or separation decree are not deductible. You must enter your spouse’s Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number on your Form 1040 when you file.
  • Alimony Received.  If you get alimony from your spouse or former spouse, it is taxable in the year you get it. Alimony is not subject to tax withholding so you may need to increase the tax you pay during the year to avoid a penalty. To do this, you can make estimated tax payments or increase the amount of tax withheld from your wages.
  • Spousal IRA.  If you get a final decree of divorce or separate maintenance by the end of your tax year, you can’t deduct contributions you make to your former spouse’s traditional IRA. You may be able to deduct contributions you make to your own traditional IRA.
  • Name Changes.  If you change your name after your divorce, be sure to notify the Social Security Administration. File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. You can get the form on SSA.gov or call 800-772-1213 to order it. The name on your tax return must match SSA records. A name mismatch can cause problems in the processing of your return and may delay your refund.  Health Care Law Considerations.
  • Special Marketplace Enrollment Period.  If you lose health insurance coverage due to divorce, you are still required to have coverage for every month of the year for yourself and the dependents you can claim on your tax return. You may enroll in health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace during a Special Enrollment Period, if you lose coverage due to a divorce.
  • Changes in Circumstances.  If you purchase health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you may get advance payments of the premium tax credit. If you do, you should report changes in circumstances to your Marketplace throughout the year. These changes include a change in marital status, a name change, a change of address, and a change in your income or family size. Reporting these changes will help make sure that you get the proper type and amount of financial assistance. This will also help you avoid getting too much or too little credit in advance.
  • Shared Policy Allocation. If you divorced or are legally separated during the tax year and are enrolled in the same qualified health plan, you and your former spouse must allocate policy amounts on your separate tax returns to figure your premium tax credit and reconcile any advance payments made on your behalf. Publication 974, Premium Tax Credit, has more information about the Shared Policy Allocation. For more on this topic, see Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals. You can get it on IRS.gov/forms at any time.
Please contact us for a consultation if you have additional questions, info@laebusiness.com

 

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What to Know about Late Filing and Late Paying Penalties

Issue Number:    IRS Tax Tip 2015-63


What to Know about Late Filing and Late Paying Penalties
April 15 was the tax day deadline for most people. If you are due a refund there is no penalty if you file a late tax return. But if you owe tax, and you failed to file and pay on time, you will usually owe interest and penalties on the tax you pay late. You should file your tax return and pay the tax as soon as possible to stop them. Here are eight facts that you should know about these penalties.

1.    Two penalties may apply.  If you file your federal tax return late and owe tax with the return, two penalties may apply. The first is a failure-to-file penalty for late filing. The second is a failure-to-pay penalty for paying late.

2.    Penalty for late filing.  The failure-to-file penalty is normally 5 percent of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month that a tax return is late. It will not exceed 25 percent of your unpaid taxes.

3.    Minimum late filing penalty.  If you file your return more than 60 days after the due date or extended due date, the minimum penalty for late filing is the smaller of $135 or 100 percent of the unpaid tax.

4.    Penalty for late payment.  The failure-to-pay penalty is generally 0.5 percent per month of your unpaid taxes. It applies for each month or part of a month your taxes remain unpaid and starts accruing the day after taxes are due. It can build up to as much as 25 percent of your unpaid taxes.

5.    Combined penalty per month.  If the failure-to-file penalty and the failure-to-pay penalty both apply in any month, the maximum amount charged for those two penalties that month is 5 percent.

6.    File even if you can’t pay.  In most cases, the failure-to-file penalty is 10 times more than the failure-to-pay penalty. So if you can’t pay in full, you should file your tax return and pay as much as you can. Use IRS Direct Pay to pay your tax directly from your checking or savings account. You should try other options to pay, such as getting a loan or paying by debit or credit card. The IRS will work with you to help you resolve your tax debt. Most people can set up an installment agreement with the IRS using the Online Payment Agreement tool on IRS.gov.

7.    Late payment penalty may not apply.  If you requested an extension of time to file your income tax return by the tax due date and paid at least 90 percent of the taxes you owe, you may not face a failure-to-pay penalty. However, you must pay the remaining balance by the extended due date. You will owe interest on any taxes you pay after the April 15 due date.

8.    No penalty if reasonable cause.  You will not have to pay a failure-to-file or failure-to-pay penalty if you can show reasonable cause for not filing or paying on time. There is also penalty relief available for repayment of excess advance payments of the premium tax credit for 2014.

If you found this Tax Tip helpful, please share it through your social media platforms. A great way to get tax information is to use IRS Social Media. You can also subscribe to IRS Tax Tips or any of our e-news subscriptions.

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IRS – Report Phishing and Online Scams

Report Phishing and Online Scams

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The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

What is phishing?

Phishing is a scam typically carried out through unsolicited email and/or websites that pose as legitimate sites and lure unsuspecting victims to provide personal and financial information.

Report all unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS or an IRS-related function to phishing@irs.gov. Recent scams have used the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) to attract potential victims.  Also, if you’ve experienced any monetary losses due to an IRS-related incident, please report it to the Treasury Inspector General Administration (TIGTA) and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) through their Complaint Assistant to make the information available to investigators.

NOTE: Please refer to Contact the IRS if you have a tax question not related to phishing or identity theft.


ALERT: IRS Repeats Warning about Phone Scam


What to do if you receive a suspicious IRS-related communication

 If

 Then

You receive an email claiming to be from the IRS that contains a request for personal information, taxes associated with a large investment, inheritance or lottery.
  1. Don’t reply.
  2. Don’t open any attachments. They can contain malicious code that may infect your computer or mobile phone.
  3. Don’t click on any links. Visit our identity protection page if you clicked on links in a suspicious email or website and entered confidential information.
  4. Forward the email as-is to us atphishing@irs.gov. Don’t forward scanned images because this removes valuable information.
  5. Delete the original email.
You receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS but you suspect they are not an IRS employee …
  1. Record the employee’s name, badge number, call back number and caller ID if available.
  2. Call 1-800-366-4484 to determine if the caller is an IRS employee with a legitimate need to contact you.
    • If the person calling you is an IRS employee, call them back.
    • If not, report the incident to TIGTA and to us at phishing@irs.gov (Subject: ‘IRS Phone Scam’)
You receive a letter, notice or form via paper mail or fax from an individual claiming to be the IRS but you suspect they are not an IRS employee …

Go to the IRS home page and search on the letter, notice, or form number. Fraudsters often modify legitimate IRS letters. You can also find information at Understanding Your Notice or Letteror by searching Forms and Pubs.

  • If it is legitimate, you’ll find instructions on how to respond or complete the form.
  • If you don’t find information on our website or the instructions are different from what you were told to do in the letter, notice or form, call 1-800-829-1040 to determine if it’s legitimate.
  • If it’s not legitimate, report the incident toTIGTA and to us at phishing@irs.gov.
You receive an unsolicited fax, such as Form W8-BEN claiming to be from the IRS, requesting personal information …

Please send us the email or scanned fax via email to phishing@irs.gov (Subject: ‘FAX’).

Visit the FATCA home page and Form W8-BEN for more information.

You receive an unsolicited telephone call or email, involving a stock or share purchase, that involves suspicious IRS or Department of Treasury documents such as “advance fees” or “penalties” …

… and you are a U.S. citizen located in the United States or its territories or a U.S. citizen living abroad.

  1. Complete the appropriate complaint form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  2. Forward email to phishing@irs.gov (Subject: ‘Stock’).
  3. If you are a victim of monetary or identity theft, you may submit a complaint through theFTC Complaint Assistant.

… and you are not a U.S. citizen and reside outside the United States.

  1. Complete the appropriate complaint form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  2. Contact your securities regulator and file a complaint.
  3. Forward email to phishing@irs.gov (Subject: ‘Stock’).
  4. If you are a victim of monetary or identity theft, you may report your complaint to econsumer.gov.
You discover a website on the Internet that claims to be the IRS but you suspect it is bogus …  send the URL of the suspicious site tophishing@irs.gov (Subject: ‘Suspicious Website’).
You receive a text message or Short Message Service (SMS) message claiming to be from the IRS …
  1. Don’t reply.
  2. Don’t open any attachments. They can contain malicious code that may infect your computer or mobile phone.
  3. Don’t click on any links. If you clicked on links in a suspicious SMS and entered confidential information, visit our identity protection page.
  4. Forward the text as-is, to us at 202-552-1226.Note: Standard text messaging rates apply.
  5. If possible, in a separate text, forward the originating number to us at 202-552-1226
  6. Delete the original text.

How to identify phishing email scams claiming to be from the IRS and bogus IRS websites


What to do if you receive a suspicious email message that doesn’t claim to be from the IRS

 If

 Then

You receive a suspicious phishing email not claiming to be from the IRS … Forward the email as-is to reportphishing@antiphishing.org.
You receive an email you suspect contains malicious code or a malicious attachment and you HAVE clicked on the link or downloaded the attachment … Visit OnGuardOnline.gov to learn what to do if you suspect you have malware on your computer.
You receive an email you suspect contains malicious code or a malicious attachment and you HAVE NOT clicked on the link or downloaded the attachment … Forward the email to your Internet Service Provider’s abuse department and/or to spam@uce.gov.

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Top Six Things You Should Know about the Child Tax Credit

Issue Number:    IRS Tax Tip 2015-26

 


IRSefileTop Six Things You Should Know about the Child Tax Credit

The Child Tax Credit may save you money at tax-time if you have a qualified child.

Here are six things you should know about the credit.

1. Amount.  The Child Tax Credit may help reduce your federal income tax by up to $1,000 for each qualifying child that you are eligible to claim on your tax return.

2. Additional Child Tax Credit.  If you qualify and get less than the full Child Tax Credit, you could receive a refund even if you owe no tax with the Additional Child Tax Credit.

3. Qualifications.  For this credit, a qualifying child must pass several tests:

• Age test.  The child must have been under age 17 at the end of 2014.

• Relationship test.  The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, or stepsister. The child may be a descendant of any of these individuals. A qualifying child could also include your grandchild, niece or nephew. You would always treat an adopted child as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.

• Support test.  The child must not have provided more than half of their own support for the year.

• Dependent test.  The child must be a dependent that you claim on your federal tax return.

• Joint return test.  The child cannot file a joint return for the year, unless the only reason they are filing is to claim a refund.

• Citizenship test.  The child must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or a U.S. resident alien.

• Residence test.  In most cases, the child must have lived with you for more than half of 2014.

4. Limitations.  The Child Tax Credit is subject to income limitations. The limits may reduce or eliminate your credit depending on your filing status and income.

5. Schedule 8812.  If you qualify to claim the Child Tax Credit, make sure to check whether you must complete and attach Schedule 8812, Child Tax Credit, with your tax return. For example, if you claim a credit for a child with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, you must complete Part I of Schedule 8812. If you qualify to claim the Additional Child Tax Credit, you must complete and attach Schedule 8812. Visit IRS.gov to view, download or print IRS tax forms anytime.

6. IRS E-file.  Electronic filing is the best way to file your tax return. IRS E-file is the safe, accurate and easiest way to file. If you use IRS Free File, you can prepare and e-file your taxes for free. Go to IRS.gov/filing and review your options.

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