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Tel (770) 696-1189 .................................... Muốn được đời tưởng thưởng

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http://www.LocThaiCPA.com ....................Email: LocThaiCPA@gmail.com

Friday, December 27, 2013

BITS & PIECES




Forgive and forget:

- When you forgive someone, you do that someone a favor.
- When you forget someone, you do yourself a favor.

Well, you can do both. It's a win win situation.





Funny tests:

   - Use fire to test gold
   - Use gold to test women
   - Use women to test men
   - Use men to test gays



Marriage,
 
   The first 3 years of marriage is critical. If you can make it, then your marriage would probably to last for a long time. Here is why:

   - Year 1 (or first year of marriage): When you talk, she listens.
   - Year 2: When she talks, you listen.
   - Year 3: Both of you talk, and your neighbors will have to listen.
   - Year 4: You will go out looking for someone listening to you.



The Earth,

When the earth was named, it wasn't named after any God. Because Earth was meant to be scientific studied and evolution processed.


Meat Eater

- Elephants have never eaten any meat, yet they are strong and huge.
- Lions always eat meat all their lives. Yet they are not any "Brainier" than monkeys.

Therefore, it's an eating habit. Not that meat is any healthier than vegetables. No one dies or gets stupid from eating too much vegetables, yet there are problems and sicknesses came from eating lots of meat.


Points to Ponder,

Illegally legal

OR

Legally illegal

A false sense of legality will change your life. When you are trying to do something, you will become someone. When you are trying to be/become someone, you will be that person's shadow.
Do not be fed up with the same one-sided world-view of Americans. People need to travel the world, read other cultural literatures, and watch more foreign movies in order to balance their thoughts.


Love,

Did primitive people have man vs woman love? If we live in a time and space where people have no sense of family or relationship obligation, and they can freely have sex to each other animal-wise. Then, does love have any meaning? does love stand its value? or had it ever been existed?

More about Love,

Men think, women feel

Men fall in love by women's look, that's why love at first sight. Women fall in love by men's talk.


2012 Election,

The rich Republicans and rich Democrats vote to protect their wealth and power. The average Joe's vote because they are sold a dream and promises that poor people WANT to have.
If people vote for their NEEDS, then they can put a right person in the office.


The senses,

What you see, hear, taste, touch and smell are limitted to the capabilities of your five senses. A pretty person is seen and thought differently from an average looking person. A nice voice is heard and agreed more easily than a whiny expression; that's why honey attracts more flies than vinegar. The English idiom "don't judge a book by its cover" reminds us to be aware of prejudging the worth of surface. However, more often than not we are depending heavily on our senses to explain the things we know not and understand not.
People fill in the blanks with their imagination based on appearance, language ability or accent. Which is very closed to what it's called "prejudice".


Suicidal Paradox

Suicide is cowardly, but a cowardice will not kill oneself. Therefore, suicide is brave, but a brave one has courageous endurance to face life. Thus, suicide is cowardly or brave?


Equality, what equality!

It's All Lies, human nature is all about disequality and instability. Rich people think, eat, live and conduct their lives mostly different from poor people. White people are not the only racists on earth. Black, brown and yellow people are racists too.

Human and nature depend heavily on instability and disequality to evolve and develope. Do you really think if black people did not fight for their rights, then the white people would voluntarily hand to them the passport to do things freely? How about countries that had been colonized, did they get their freedom without shedding of blood on their own soil? When a rich kid does not know how to do something, then he has not been trained. But when a poor kid cannot perform the same task, then he is stupid. Is that what you define social equality?


Arms Control

When you are the only one with big guns, you want to control the world. You did not mind how many men you killed, and how many women you raped. But once everyone has guns like yours, then you want arms control to place restrictions on the usage of such weapons.


What would you prefer?

1. I don't know... Therefore, God.

OR

2. I don't know... Therefore, I have to study it in order to understand the subject matter, and to better humanity probably.


Liberals are God gifted people. Without liberals, the conservatives would have said:

1. God gives us a pair of feet to walk. Thus, if we use some sort of vehicles to speed up our transportation, then we are against God's will.

2. God did not give us a pair of wings, because God does not want us to fly. Therefore, the invention of flying machines is a sin.


If English is your second language, and someone picks on your speaking in an ill manner intentionally, and if you know your opponent is not an English person (from England), then here is what you can do:

You ask: "You are speaking English so well. Are you from England?"
He/She: "No, I am American"
You: "Then why don't you speak American? Why do you have to speak English?"
He/She: "English is American language."
You: "No, you STUPID, English is the language of people from England. You are using it because you don't even have your own language. If the Japanese or the German had their way in history, then you would be speaking their language now."


If the English, German or French etc. tells you:

- Who would bother to learn your language anyway?
You reply: "That is because we are peaceful people. Even back in the old day, if we had guns or fire arms, we would not go to other countries to rob their resources, killed their men and raped the women. That is one good reason why our language is not so popular."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Three Year-End Tax Tips to Help You Save

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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Although the year is almost over, you still have time to take steps that can lower your 2013 taxes. Now is a good time to prepare for the upcoming tax filing season. Taking these steps can help you save time and tax dollars. They can also help you save for retirement. Here are three year-end tips from the IRS for you to consider:

1. Start a filing system. If you don’t have a filing system for your tax records, you should start one. It can be as simple as saving receipts in a shoebox, or more complex like creating folders or spreadsheets. It’s always a good idea to save tax-related receipts and records. Keeping good records now will save time and help you file a complete and accurate tax return next year.

2. Make Charitable Contributions. If you plan to give to charity, consider donating before the year ends. That way you can claim your contribution as an itemized deduction for 2013. This includes donations you charge to a credit card by Dec. 31, even if you don’t pay the bill until 2014. A gift by check also counts for 2013 as long as you mail it in December. Remember that you must give to a qualified charity to claim a tax deduction. Use the IRS Select Check tool at IRS.gov to see if an organization is qualified.

Make sure to save your receipts. You must have a written record for all donations of money in order to claim a deduction. Special rules apply to several types of property, including clothing or household items, cars and boats. For more about these rules see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.

If you are age 70½ or over, the qualified charitable distribution allows you to make tax-free transfers from your IRAs to charity. You can give up to $100,000 per year from your IRA to an eligible charity, and exclude the amount from gross income. You can use the excluded amount to satisfy any required minimum distributions that you must otherwise receive from your IRAs in 2013. This benefit is available even if you do not itemize deductions. This special provision is set to expire at the end of 2013. See Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), for more information.

3. Contribute to Retirement Accounts. You need to contribute to your 401(k) or similar retirement plan by Dec. 31 to count for 2013. On the other hand, you have until April 15, 2014, to set up a new IRA or add money to an existing IRA and still have it count for 2013.

The Saver’s Credit, also known as the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit, helps low- and moderate-income workers in two ways. It helps people save for retirement and earn a special tax credit. Eligible workers who contribute to IRAs, 401(k)s or similar workplace retirement plans can get a tax credit on their federal tax return. The maximum credit is up to $1,000, $2,000 for married couples. Other deductions and credits may reduce or eliminate the amount you can claim.

For more on all these topics, visit the IRS.gov website.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Don’t Fall for Charity Scams Following Disasters

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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The IRS warns consumers not to fall for bogus charity scams. They often occur in the wake of major disasters like the recent tornadoes in the Midwest or the typhoon in the Philippines. Thieves play on the goodwill of people who want to help disaster victims. They pose as a real charity in order to steal money or get private information to commit identity theft.
The scams use different tactics. Offering charity relief, criminals often:
  • Claim to be with real charities to gain public trust.
  • Use names similar to legitimate charities.
  • Use email to steer people to bogus websites that often look like real charity sites.
  • Contact people by phone or email to get them to ‘donate’ money or give their financial information. 
The IRS offers the following tips to help taxpayers who wish to donate to victims:
  • Donate to qualified charities.  Use the Exempt Organizations Select Check tool at IRS.gov to find qualified charities. Only donations to qualified organizations are tax-deductible. You can also find legitimate charities at the Federal Emergency Management Agency website, fema.gov. For more information about the kinds of charities that can receive deductible contributions, see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.
  • Don’t give out information.  Don’t give your Social Security number, credit card and bank account numbers or passwords to anyone. Scam artists use this information to steal your identity and money.
  • Don’t give or send cash.  For security and tax record purposes, don’t give or send cash. Contribute by check, credit card or another way that provides documentation of the donation.
  • Report suspected fraud.  If you suspect tax or charity-related fraud, visit IRS.gov and click on ‘Reporting Phishing’ at the bottom of the home page.
Get more information about tax scams and schemes at IRS.gov. Click on ‘Tax Fraud & Abuse’ at the bottom of the home page. You can also get Publication 526 at IRS.gov or call  800-TAX-FORM  ( 800-829-3676 ).

Thursday, November 7, 2013

IRS Warns of Phone Scam

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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The IRS is warning the public about a phone scam that targets people across the nation, including recent immigrants. Callers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license.

The callers who commit this fraud often:

   - Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.
   - Know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security number.
   - Make caller ID appear as if the IRS is calling.
   - Send bogus IRS emails to support their scam.
   - Call a second time claiming to be the police or DMV, and caller ID again supports their claim.

The truth is the IRS usually first contacts people by mail – not by phone – about unpaid taxes. And the IRS won’t ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The agency also won’t ask for a credit card number over the phone.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, here’s what to do:

   - If you owe federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.
   - If you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
   - You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. Add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments in your complaint.

Be alert for phone and email scams that use the IRS name. The IRS will never request personal or financial information by email, texting or any social media. You should forward scam emails to phishing@irs.gov. Don’t open any attachments or click on any links in those emails.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ten Tax Tips for Individuals Selling Their Home

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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If you’re selling your main home this summer or sometime this year, the IRS has some helpful tips for you. Even if you make a profit from the sale of your home, you may not have to report it as income.

Here are 10 tips from the IRS to keep in mind when selling your home.

1. If you sell your home at a gain, you may be able to exclude part or all of the profit from your income. This rule generally applies if you’ve owned and used the property as your main home for at least two out of the five years before the date of sale.


2. You normally can exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from your income ($500,000 on a joint return). This excluded gain is also not subject to the new Net Investment Income Tax, which is effective in 2013.


3. If you can exclude all of the gain, you probably don’t need to report the sale of your home on your tax return.


4. If you can’t exclude all of the gain, or you choose not to exclude it, you’ll need to report the sale of your home on your tax return. You’ll also have to report the sale if you received a Form 1099-S, Proceeds From Real Estate Transactions.


5. Use IRS e-file to prepare and file your 2013 tax return next year. E-file software will do most of the work for you. If you prepare a paper return, use the worksheets in Publication 523, Selling Your Home, to figure the gain (or loss) on the sale. The booklet also will help you determine how much of the gain you can exclude.


6. Generally, you can exclude a gain from the sale of only one main home per two-year period.


7. If you have more than one home, you can exclude a gain only from the sale of your main home. You must pay tax on the gain from selling any other home. If you have two homes and live in both of them, your main home is usually the one you live in most of the time.


8. Special rules may apply when you sell a home for which you received the first-time homebuyer credit. See Publication 523 for details.


9. You cannot deduct a loss from the sale of your main home.


10. When you sell your home and move, be sure to update your address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service. File Form 8822, Change of Address, to notify the IRS.

For more information on this topic, see Publication 523. It’s available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

If You Receive an IRS Notice, Here’s What to Do

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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Each year the IRS sends millions of letters and notices to taxpayers. Although some people may feel anxious when they receive one, many are easy to resolve. Here’s what to do if you receive a letter or notice from the IRS:

1. Don’t panic. Follow the instructions in the letter.

2. There are many reasons the IRS sends notices to taxpayers. The notice usually covers a specific issue about your account or tax return. It may request payment of taxes, notify you of a change to your account or ask for additional information.

3. If you receive a notice about a correction to your tax return, you should review it carefully. You usually will need to compare the information in the notice to the entries on your tax return.

     - If you agree with the correction, you usually don’t need to reply unless a payment is due.
     - If you don’t agree with the correction the IRS made, it’s important that you respond as requested. Respond to the IRS in writing to explain why you disagree. Include any documents and information you wish the IRS to consider, along with the bottom tear-off portion of the notice. Mail the information to the IRS address shown in the lower left corner of the notice. Allow at least 30 days for a response from the IRS.

4. There is no need for you to call or visit an IRS office to answer most IRS notices. If you have questions, call the telephone number in the upper right corner of the notice. When you call, have a copy of your tax return and the notice available.

5. Keep copies of any correspondence with your tax records.

For more information about IRS notices and requests for payment, see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process. For information about penalties and interest charges, see Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax for Individuals. Both are available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back-to-School Tax Tips for Students and Parents

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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Going to college can be a stressful time for students and parents. The IRS offers these tips about education tax benefits that can help offset some college costs and maybe relieve some of that stress.

American Opportunity Tax Credit. This credit can be up to $2,500 per eligible student. The AOTC is available for the first four years of post secondary education. Forty percent of the credit is refundable. That means that you may be able to receive up to $1,000 of the credit as a refund, even if you don’t owe any taxes. Qualified expenses include tuition and fees, course related books, supplies and equipment. A recent law extended the AOTC through the end of Dec. 2017.

Lifetime Learning Credit. With the LLC, you may be able to claim up to $2,000 for qualified education expenses on your federal tax return. There is no limit on the number of years you can claim this credit for an eligible student.

You can claim only one type of education credit per student on your federal tax return each year. If you pay college expenses for more than one student in the same year, you can claim credits on a per-student, per-year basis. For example, you can claim the AOTC for one student and the LLC for the other student.

You can use the IRS’s Interactive Tax Assistant tool to help determine if you’re eligible for these credits. The tool is available at IRS.gov.

Student loan interest deduction. Other than home mortgage interest, you generally can’t deduct the interest you pay. However, you may be able to deduct interest you pay on a qualified student loan. The deduction can reduce your taxable income by up to $2,500. You don’t need to itemize deductions to claim it.

These education benefits are subject to income limitations and may be reduced or eliminated depending on your income.

For more information, visit the Tax Benefits for Education Information Center at IRS.gov. Also, check Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education. The booklet’s also available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Helpful Tax Tips if You’re Moving this Summer

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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If you make a work-related move this summer, you may be able to deduct the costs of the move. This may apply if you move to start a new job or to work at the same job in a new job location. The IRS offers the following tips on moving expenses you may be able to deduct on your tax return.

In order to deduct moving expenses, you must meet these three requirements:

1. Your move closely relates to the start of work. Generally, you can consider moving expenses within one year of the date you first report to work at a new job location. Additional rules apply to this requirement.

2. You meet the distance test. Your new main job location must be at least 50 miles farther from your former home than your previous main job location was. For example, if your old main job location was three miles from your former home, your new main job location must be at least 53 miles from that former home.

3. You meet the time test. After you move, you must work full time at your new job location for at least 39 weeks during the first year. Self-employed individuals must meet this test and also work full time for a total of at least 78 weeks during the first 24 months upon arriving in the general area of their new job location. If your income tax return is due before you have satisfied this requirement, you can still deduct your allowable moving expenses if you expect to meet the time test.

See Publication 521, Moving Expenses, for more information about these rules. If you can claim this deduction, here are a few more tips from the IRS:

   Travel. You can deduct transportation and lodging expenses for yourself and household members while moving from your former home to your new home. You cannot deduct the cost of meals during the travel.

   Household goods. You can deduct the cost of packing, crating and transporting your household goods and personal property. You may be able to include the cost of storing and insuring these items while in transit.

   Utilities. You can deduct the costs of connecting or disconnecting utilities.

   Nondeductible expenses. You cannot deduct as moving expenses any part of the purchase price of your new home, the costs of buying or selling a home, or the cost of entering into or breaking a lease. See Publication 521 for a complete list.

   Reimbursed expenses. If your employer reimburses you for the costs of a move for which you took a deduction, you may have to include the reimbursement as income on your tax return.

   Update your address. When you move, be sure to update your address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service to ensure you receive mail from the IRS. File Form 8822, Change of Address, to notify the IRS.

   Tax form to file. To figure the amount of your deduction for moving expenses, use Form 3903, Moving Expenses.

Get more details about this topic in Publication 521 and Form 3903. Both are available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-829-3676.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Reduce Your Taxes with Miscellaneous Deductions

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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If you itemize deductions on your tax return, you may be able to deduct certain miscellaneous expenses. You may benefit from this because a tax deduction normally reduces your federal income tax.

Here are some things you should know about miscellaneous deductions:

Deductions Subject to the Two Percent Limit. You can deduct most miscellaneous expenses only if they exceed two percent of your adjusted gross income. These include expenses such as:

   - Unreimbursed employee expenses.
   - Expenses related to searching for a new job in the same profession.
   - Certain work clothes and uniforms.
   - Tools needed for your job.
   - Union dues.
   - Work-related travel and transportation.

Deductions Not Subject to the Two Percent Limit. Some deductions are not subject to the two percent of AGI limit. Some expenses on this list include:

   - Certain casualty and theft losses. This deduction applies if you held the damaged or stolen property for investment. Property that you hold for investment may include assets such as stocks, bonds and works of art.
   - Gambling losses up to the amount of gambling winnings.
   - Losses from Ponzi-type investment schemes.

Many expenses are not deductible. For example, you can’t deduct personal living or family expenses. Report your miscellaneous deductions on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. Be sure to keep records of your deductions as a reminder when you file your taxes in 2014.

Learn more about these rules in Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions. The booklet is available on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Friday, August 2, 2013

Eight Tips for Taxpayers Who Owe Taxes

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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While most taxpayers get a refund from the IRS when they file their taxes, some do not. The IRS offers several payment options for those who owe taxes.

Here are eight tips for those who owe federal taxes.

1. Tax bill payments. If you get a bill from the IRS this summer, you should pay it as soon as possible to save money. You can pay by check, money order, cashier’s check or cash. If you cannot pay it all, consider getting a loan to pay the bill in full. The interest rate for a loan may be less than the interest and penalties the IRS must charge by law.

2. Electronic Funds Transfer. It’s easy to pay your tax bill by electronic funds transfer. Just visit IRS.gov and use the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. You may also use EFTPS to pay your taxes by phone at 800-555-4477.

3. Credit or debit card payments. You can also pay your tax bill with a credit or debit card. Even though the card company may charge an extra fee for a tax payment, the costs of using a credit or debit card may be less than the cost of an IRS payment plan. To pay by credit or debit card, contact one of the processing companies listed at IRS.gov.

4. More time to pay. You may qualify for a short-term agreement to pay your taxes. This may apply if you can fully pay your taxes in 120 days or less. You can request it through the Online Payment Agreement application at IRS.gov. You may also call the IRS at the number listed on the last notice you received. If you can’t find the notice, call 800-829-1040 for help. There is generally no set-up fee for a short-term agreement.

5. Installment Agreement. If you can’t pay in full at one time and can’t get a loan, you may want to apply for a monthly payment plan. If you owe $50,000 or less, you can apply using the IRS Online Payment Agreement application. It’s quick and easy. If approved, IRS will notify you immediately. You can arrange to make your payments by direct debit. This type of payment plan helps avoid missed payments and may help avoid a tax lien that would damage your credit.

Taxpayers may also apply using IRS Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request. If you owe more than $50,000, you must also complete Form 433F, Collection Information Statement. For approved payment plans the one-time user fee is $105 for standard and payroll deduction agreements. The direct debit agreement fee is $52. The fee is $43 if your income is below a certain level.

6. Offer in Compromise. The IRS Offer-in-Compromise program allows you to settle your tax debt for less than the full amount you owe. An OIC may be an option if you can't fully pay your taxes through an installment agreement or other payment alternative. The IRS may accept an OIC if the amount offered represents the most IRS can expect to collect within a reasonable time. Use the OIC Pre-Qualifier tool to see if you may be eligible before you apply. The tool will also direct you to other options if an OIC is not right for you.

7. Fresh Start. If you’re struggling to pay your taxes, the IRS Fresh Start initiative may help you. Fresh Start makes it easier for individual and small business taxpayers to pay back taxes and avoid tax liens.

8. Check withholding. You may be able to avoid owing taxes in future years by increasing the taxes your employer withholds from your pay. To do this, file a revised Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, with your employer. The IRS Withholding Calculator tool at IRS.gov can help you fill out a new W-4.

For more information about payment options or IRS's Fresh Start program, visit IRS.gov. Also, see Publications 594, The IRS Collection Process, and 966, Electronic Choices to Pay All Your Federal Taxes, for more information. Get publications and forms at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How to Get a Transcript or Copy of a Prior Year Tax Return

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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There are many reasons why you should keep a copy of your federal tax return. For example, you may need it to answer an IRS inquiry. You may also need it to apply for a student loan or a home mortgage. If you can’t find your tax return, the IRS can provide a copy or give you a transcript of the tax information you need.

Here’s how to get your federal tax return information from the IRS:

1. Transcripts are free and you can get them for the current year and the past three years. In most cases, a transcript includes all the information you need.

2. A tax return transcript shows most line items from the tax return you originally filed. It also includes items from any accompanying forms and schedules you filed. It does not reflect any changes made after you filed your original return.

3. A tax account transcript shows any changes either you or the IRS made to your tax return after you filed it. This transcript includes your marital status, the type of return you filed, your adjusted gross income and taxable income.

4. You can get transcripts on the web, by phone or by mail. To request transcripts online, go to IRS.gov and use the Order a Transcript tool. To order by phone, call 800-908-9946 and follow the prompts.

5. To request a 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ tax return transcript by mail or fax, complete Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript. Businesses and individuals who need a tax account transcript should use Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.

6. If you order online or by phone, you should receive your tax return transcript within five to 10 calendar days. You should allow 30 calendar days for delivery of a tax account transcript if you order by mail.

7. If you need an actual copy of a filed and processed tax return, it will cost $57 for each tax year. Complete Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, and mail it to the IRS address listed on the form for your area. Copies are generally available for the current year and past six years. Please allow 60 days for delivery.

8. If you live in a Presidentially declared disaster area, the IRS may waive the fee to obtain copies of your tax returns. Visit IRS.gov and select the ‘Disaster Relief’ link in the lower left corner of the page for more about IRS disaster assistance.

9. Forms 4506, 4506-T and 4506T-EZ are available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Monday, July 22, 2013

Six Tips on Gambling Income and Losses

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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Whether you roll the dice, play cards or bet on the ponies, all your winnings are taxable. The IRS offers these six tax tips for the casual gambler.

1. Gambling income includes winnings from lotteries, raffles, horse races and casinos. It also includes cash and the fair market value of prizes you receive, such as cars and trips.

2. If you win, you may receive a Form W-2G, Certain Gambling Winnings, from the payer. The form reports the amount of your winnings to you and the IRS. The payer issues the form depending on the type of gambling, the amount of winnings, and other factors. You’ll also receive a Form W-2G if the payer withholds federal income tax from your winnings.

3. You must report all your gambling winnings as income on your federal income tax return. This is true even if you do not receive a Form W-2G.

4. If you’re a casual gambler, report your winnings on the “Other Income” line of your Form 1040, U. S. Individual Income Tax Return.

5. You may deduct your gambling losses on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. The deduction is limited to the amount of your winnings. You must report your winnings as income and claim your allowable losses separately. You cannot reduce your winnings by your losses and report the difference.

6. You must keep accurate records of your gambling activity. This includes items such as receipts, tickets or other documentation. You should also keep a diary or similar record of your activity. Your records should show your winnings separately from your losses.

To learn more about this topic, see Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income. Also, see Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions. Both are available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Friday, July 19, 2013

Renting Your Vacation Home

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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A vacation home can be a house, apartment, condominium, mobile home or boat. If you own a vacation home that you rent to others, you generally must report the rental income on your federal income tax return. But you may not have to report that income if the rental period is short.

In most cases, you can deduct expenses of renting your property. Your deduction may be limited if you also use the home as a residence.

Here are some tips from the IRS about this type of rental property.

• You usually report rental income and deductible rental expenses on Schedule E, Supplemental Income and Loss.

You may also be subject to paying Net Investment Income Tax on your rental income.

• If you personally use your property and sometimes rent it to others, special rules apply. You must divide your expenses between the rental use and the personal use. The number of days used for each purpose determines how to divide your costs.

Report deductible expenses for personal use on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. These may include costs such as mortgage interest, property taxes and casualty losses.

• If the property is “used as a home,” your rental expense deduction is limited. This means your deduction for rental expenses can’t be more than the rent you received. For more about this rule, see Publication 527, Residential Rental Property (Including Rental of Vacation Homes).

• If the property is “used as a home” and you rent it out fewer than 15 days per year, you do not have to report the rental income.

Get Publication 527 for more details on this topic. It is available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Friday, July 12, 2013

Tips for Taxpayers Who Travel for Charity Work

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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Do you plan to travel while doing charity work this summer? Some travel expenses may help lower your taxes if you itemize deductions when you file next year. Here are five tax tips the IRS wants you to know about travel while serving a charity.

1. You must volunteer to work for a qualified organization. Ask the charity about its tax-exempt status. You can also visit IRS.gov and use the Select Check tool to see if the group is qualified.

2. You may be able to deduct unreimbursed travel expenses you pay while serving as a volunteer. You can’t deduct the value of your time or services.

3. The deduction qualifies only if there is no significant element of personal pleasure, recreation or vacation in the travel. However, the deduction will qualify even if you enjoy the trip.

4. You can deduct your travel expenses if your work is real and substantial throughout the trip. You can’t deduct expenses if you only have nominal duties or do not have any duties for significant parts of the trip.

5. Deductible travel expenses may include:
       - Air, rail and bus transportation
       - Car expenses
       - Lodging costs
       - The cost of meals
       - Taxi fares or other transportation costs between the airport or station and your hotel

To learn more see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions. The booklet is available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tax Tips if You’re Starting a Business

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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If you plan to start a new business, or you’ve just opened your doors, it is important for you to know your federal tax responsibilities. Here are five basic tips from the IRS that can help you get started.

1. Type of Business. Early on, you will need to decide the type of business you are going to establish. The most common types are sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, S corporation and Limited Liability Company. Each type reports its business activity on a different federal tax form.

2. Types of Taxes. The type of business you run usually determines the type of taxes you pay. The four general types of business taxes are income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax and excise tax.

3. Employer Identification Number. A business often needs to get a federal EIN for tax purposes. Check IRS.gov to find out whether you need this number. If you do, you can apply for an EIN online.

4. Recordkeeping. Keeping good records will help you when it’s time to file your business tax forms at the end of the year. They help track deductible expenses and support all the items you report on your tax return. Good records will also help you monitor your business’ progress and prepare your financial statements. You may choose any recordkeeping system that clearly shows your income and expenses.

5. Accounting Method. Each taxpayer must also use a consistent accounting method, which is a set of rules that determine when to report income and expenses. The most common are the cash method and accrual method. Under the cash method, you normally report income in the year you receive it and deduct expenses in the year you pay them. Under the accrual method, you generally report income in the year you earn it and deduct expenses in the year you incur them. This is true even if you receive the income or pay the expenses in a future year.

For more information, check out the “Business Taxes” page on IRS.gov. From there, review the special section on Starting a Business. Publication 583, Starting a Business and Keeping Records, may also help new business owners with the tax aspects of running a business. The booklet is also available on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tax Tips for Newlyweds

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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Late spring and early summer are popular times for weddings. Whatever the season, a change in your marital status can affect your taxes. Here are several tips from the IRS for newlyweds.

   - It’s important that the names and Social Security numbers that you put on your tax return match your Social Security Administration records. If you’ve changed your name, report the change to the SSA. To do that, file Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. You can get this form on their website at SSA.gov, by calling 800-772-1213 or by visiting your local SSA office.

   - If your address has changed, file Form 8822, Change of Address to notify the IRS. You should also notify the U.S. Postal Service if your address has changed. You can ask to have your mail forwarded online at USPS.com or report the change at your local post office.

   - If you work, report your name or address change to your employer. This will help to ensure that you receive your Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, after the end of the year.

   - If you and your spouse both work, you should check the amount of federal income tax withheld from your pay. Your combined incomes may move you into a higher tax bracket. Use the IRS Withholding Calculator tool at IRS.gov to help you complete a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. See Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, for more information.

   - If you didn’t qualify to itemize deductions before you were married, that may have changed. You and your spouse may save money by itemizing rather than taking the standard deduction on your tax return. You’ll need to use Form 1040 with Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. You can’t use Form 1040A or 1040EZ when you itemize.

   - If you are married as of Dec. 31, that’s your marital status for the entire year for tax purposes. You and your spouse usually may choose to file your federal income tax return either jointly or separately in any given year. You may want to figure the tax both ways to determine which filing status results in the lowest tax. In most cases, it’s beneficial to file jointly.

For more information about these topics, visit IRS.gov. You can also get IRS forms and publications at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Vietnamese Trash Can

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The Vietnamese Trash Can
Cái Thùng Rác Của Người Việt

Bạn có bao giờ nhận thấy rằng nhiều người Việt sẽ ném rác trên mặt đất, ngay cả khi có một thùng rác gần đó hoặc ngay cả trước mặt của họ?
Tôi sẽ không bao giờ hiểu được tại sao người Việt lại có thể ném rác trên mặt đất thay vì dùng một chút nỗ lực để đảm bảo đường phố và trong khu shopping center của người Việt được sạch sẽ. Quan trọng hơn nữa là không để người các nước khác xem thường dân tộc Việt Nam.
Tôi chỉ không hiểu làm thế nào một người nào đó có thể xem là OK để ném rác ra ngoài đường với bao nhiêu người khác chứng kiến mà không cảm thấy khó chịu hoặc xấu hổ.  Quan tâm đến môi trường xung quanh, giữ gìn thuần phong mỹ tục là bổn phận chung của mọi người. Xả rác và giả vờ không biết là một sai lầm to lớn của người Việt chúng ta. Một khi các nước coi thường người Việt rồi, thật khó để đạt được thể diện của ta trở lại.
Trẻ em nhìn thấy cha mẹ xả rác sẽ là một gương rất xấu mà bậc tiền bối để lại cho thế hệ kế tiếp. Người Việt mình có câu "Nghèo cho sạch, rách cho thơm". Tôi hiểu rằng không phải luôn luôn dễ dàng để làm điều đúng, nhưng xả rác ra đường là điều tuyệt đối không nên làm.
Tôi cho rằng vấn đề này có liên quan ít nhiều đến sự lười biếng, hoặc người xả rác có tâm lý rằng nó không phải là việc của họ phải bỏ rác vào thùng rác, cho nên họ không quan tâm. Người Mỹ có câu "Whatever happened to treating others the way you want to be treated." Xin tạm dịch "Những gì bạn không muốn người khác làm cho mình, thì bạn đừng làm điều đó cho họ." Chúng ta rất mong muốn được mọi người kính trọng, cho nên việc trước hết là mình phải có lòng tự trọng thì người khác mới trọng mình được.
Bạn đặt rác vào thùng rác bởi vì đó là điều phải làm và nên làm. Đồng thời bạn cũng muốn người khác làm như vậy. Đây không phải là một sự thay đổi mạnh mẻ, hoặc một biểu hiện thân thiện. Nhưng tất cả chúng ta có thể làm một chút gì đó để giúp đỡ và được tôn trọng trong việc đừng xả rác bừa bãi ra đường.
 Khi bạn đặt rác vào thùng rác, bạn nên tự hào về thực tế là bạn tôn trọng những người xung quanh, và muốn giúp giử cho khu vực nơi bạn sinh hoạt sạch sẽ. Bạn phải hiểu rằng càng nhiều người không xả rác, thì những người khác sẽ suy nghĩ đắn đo về việc xả rác bởi vì họ sẽ nhìn xấu.
 Tóm lại, nếu ném rác ra ngoài cửa sổ xe hơi,  hoặc trong khu shopping của người Việt là hoàn toàn sai và thiếu suy nghĩ. 

Người viết:  Lộc Thái, CPA
 

Monday, June 17, 2013

IRS Offers Information, Support and Services for Small Businesses

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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Do you own or operate a small business? Or do you plan to start a business someday soon? If you answered yes to either question, the IRS has online information, support and services that may be helpful to you.

Small Business Week Webinars. During National Small Business Week 2013, the IRS is hosting two free, live small business webinars. Go online to learn about the many tax benefits available to businesses. You will also learn how to avoid common mistakes made by small businesses. IRS staff will answer questions during each webinar.

   - Attend the free live webinars on June 18 and June 20 at 2 p.m. (ET).
   - Register for the events at IRS Webinars for Small Businesses.
   - Although tax professionals will not get continuing education credits, they will receive lots of useful information.

If you’re unable to attend the live events, you can view the archived versions on the IRS Video Portal. They’ll be available about three weeks after the broadcasts.

Online Support Anytime. The IRS offers many online products and services for small businesses. They’re available any day of the week throughout the year on IRS.gov. Here are just a few examples of the business resources the IRS offers:

   - The Online Learning and Educational Products page features useful small business tools. The Online Tax Calendar helps you keep track of important tax deadlines. You can subscribe to e-News for Small Businesses to help you stay on top of the latest tax news affecting small businesses.
   - The Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center is for sole proprietors, independent contractors, members of partnerships, and others who are in business for themselves. Check it out for self-employed tax information and more tools.
   - The Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center is for small businesses with assets under $10 million. Visit this page for resources like Small Business Taxes: the Virtual Workshop. This popular class helps you learn the basics of federal taxes. It offers nine lessons to help you navigate tax issues so your small business can thrive.

Visit IRS.gov for more information and federal tax news for small businesses. You can also get small business forms and publications on the IRS website or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Keep the Child Care Credit in Mind for Summer

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Soure:  www.irs.gov
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If you are a working parent or look for work this summer, you may need to pay for the care of your child or children. These expenses may qualify for a tax credit that can reduce your federal income taxes. The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit is available not only while school’s out for summer, but also throughout the year. Here are eight key points the IRS wants you to know about this credit.

1. You must pay for care so you – and your spouse if filing jointly – can work or actively look for work. Your spouse meets this test during any month they are full-time student, or physically or mentally incapable of self-care.

2. You must have earned income. Earned income includes earnings such as wages and self-employment. If you are married filing jointly, your spouse must also have earned income. There is an exception to this rule for a spouse who is full-time student or who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care.

3. You must pay for the care of one or more qualifying persons. Qualifying children under age 13 who you claim as a dependent meet this test. Your spouse or dependent who lived with you for more than half the year may meet this test if they are physically or mentally incapable of self-care.

4. You may qualify for the credit whether you pay for care at home, at a daycare facility outside the home or at a day camp. If you pay for care in your home, you may be a household employer. For more information, see Publication 926, Household Employer's Tax Guide.

5. The credit is a percentage of the qualified expenses you pay for the care of a qualifying person. It can be up to 35 percent of your expenses, depending on your income.

6. You may use up to $3,000 of the unreimbursed expenses you pay in a year for one qualifying person or $6,000 for two or more qualifying person.

7. Expenses for overnight camps or summer school tutoring do not qualify. You cannot include the cost of care provided by your spouse or a person you can claim as your dependent. If you get dependent care benefits from your employer, special rules apply.

8. Keep your receipts and records to use when you file your 2013 tax return next year. Make sure to note the name, address and Social Security number or employer identification number of the care provider. You must report this information when you claim the credit on your return.

For more details about the rules to claim this credit, see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses. You can get both publications at IRS.gov or have them mailed by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Friday, April 19, 2013

Ten Facts on Filing an Amended Tax Return

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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What should you do if you already filed your federal tax return and then discover a mistake? Don’t worry; you have a chance to fix errors by filing an amended tax return. This year you can use the new IRS tool, ‘Where's My Amended Return?’ to easily track the status of your amended tax return. Here are 10 facts you should know about filing an amended tax return.

1. Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to file an amended tax return. An amended return cannot be e-filed. You must file it on paper.

2. You should consider filing an amended tax return if there is a change in your filing status, income, deductions or credits.

3. You normally do not need to file an amended return to correct math errors. The IRS will automatically make those changes for you. Also, do not file an amended return because you forgot to attach tax forms, such as W-2s or schedules. The IRS normally will send a request asking for those.

4. Generally, you must file Form 1040X within three years from the date you filed your original tax return or within two years of the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. Be sure to enter the year of the return you are amending at the top of Form 1040X.

5. If you are amending more than one tax return, prepare a 1040X for each return and mail them to the IRS in separate envelopes. You will find the appropriate IRS address to mail your return to in the Form 1040X instructions.

6. If your changes involve the need for another schedule or form, you must attach that schedule or form to the amended return.

7. If you are filing an amended tax return to claim an additional refund, wait until you have received your original tax refund before filing Form 1040X. Amended returns take up to 12 weeks to process. You may cash your original refund check while waiting for the additional refund.

8. If you owe additional taxes with Form 1040X, file it and pay the tax as soon as possible to minimize interest and penalties.

9. You can track the status of your amended tax return three weeks after you file with the IRS’s new tool called, ‘Where’s My Amended Return?’ The automated tool is available on IRS.gov and by phone at 866-464-2050. The online and phone tools are available in English and Spanish. You can track the status of your amended return for the current year and up to three prior years.

10. To use either ‘Where’s My Amended Return’ tool, just enter your taxpayer identification number (usually your Social Security number), date of birth and zip code. If you have filed amended returns for more than one year, you can select each year individually to check the status of each. If you use the tool by phone, you will not need to call a different IRS phone number unless the tool tells you to do so.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

IRS Offers Tips for Taxpayers Who Missed the Tax Deadline

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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The IRS has some advice for taxpayers who missed the tax filing deadline.

File as soon as possible. If you owe federal income tax, you should file and pay as soon as you can to minimize any penalty and interest charges. There is no penalty for filing a late return if you are due a refund.

Penalties and interest may be due. If you missed the April 15 deadline, you may have to pay penalties and interest. The IRS may charge penalties for late filing and for late payment. The law generally does not allow a waiver of interest charges. However, the IRS will consider a reduction of these penalties if you can show a reasonable cause for being late.

E-file is your best option. IRS e-file programs are available through Oct. 15. E-file is the easiest, safest and most accurate way to file. With e-file, you will receive confirmation that the IRS has received your tax return. If you e-file and are due a refund, the IRS will normally issue it within 21 days.

Free File is still available. Everyone can use IRS Free File. If your income is $57,000 or less, you qualify to e-file your return using free brand-name software. If you made more than $57,000 and are comfortable preparing your own tax return, use Free File Fillable Forms to e-file. This program uses the electronic versions of paper IRS forms. IRS Free File is available only through IRS.gov.

Pay as much as you can. If you owe tax but can’t pay it all at once, you should pay as much as you can when you file your tax return. Pay the remaining balance due as soon as possible to minimize penalties and interest charges.

Installment Agreements are available. If you need more time to pay your federal income taxes, you can request a payment agreement with the IRS. Apply online using the IRS Online Payment Agreement Application tool or file Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request.

Refunds may be waiting. If you’re due a refund, you should file as soon as possible to get it. Even if you are not required to file, you may be entitled to a refund. This could apply if you had taxes withheld from your wages, or you qualify for certain tax credits. If you don’t file your return within three years, you could forfeit your right to the refund.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Tips for Taxpayers Who Can't Pay Their Taxes on Time

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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If you find you owe tax after completing your federal tax return but can't pay it all when you file, the IRS wants you to know your options.

Here are four tips that can help you lower the amount of interest and penalties when you don’t pay the full amount on time.

1. File on time and pay as much as you can. Filing on time ensures that you will avoid the late filing penalty. Paying as much as you can reduces the late payment penalty and interest charges. For electronic payment options, see IRS.gov. If you pay by check, make it payable to the United States Treasury and include it with your return.

2. Consider getting a loan or paying by credit card. The interest and fees charged by a bank or credit card company may be lower than IRS interest and penalties. For credit card options, see IRS.gov.

3. Request a payment agreement. You do not need to wait for IRS to send you a bill before requesting a payment plan. You can:


Use the Online Payment Agreement tool at IRS.gov, or

Complete and submit Form 9465, Installment Agreement

Request, with your tax return. Find out about payment agreement user fees at IRS.gov or on Form 9465.

4. Don’t ignore a tax bill. If you get a bill from the IRS, contact them right away to talk about payment options. The IRS may take collection action if you ignore the bill, which will only make things worse.

In short, it is always best to file on time, pay as much as you can by the tax deadline and pay the balance as soon as you can. For more information on the IRS collection process go to IRS.gov or see IRSVideos.gov/OweTaxes.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Top Ten Tips on Making IRA Contributions

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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The IRS has 10 important tips for you about setting aside money for your retirement in an Individual Retirement Arrangement.

1. You must be under age 70 1/2 at the end of the tax year in order to contribute to a traditional IRA.

2. You must have taxable compensation to contribute to an IRA. This includes income from wages, salaries, tips, commissions and bonuses. It also includes net income from self-employment. If you file a joint return, generally only one spouse needs to have taxable compensation.

3. You can contribute to your traditional IRA at any time during the year. You must make all contributions by the due date for filing your tax return. This due date does not include extensions. For most people this means you must contribute for 2012 by April 15, 2013. If you contribute between Jan. 1 and April 15, you should contact your IRA plan sponsor to make sure they apply it to the right year.

4. For 2012, the most you can contribute to your IRA is the smaller of either your taxable compensation for the year or $5,000. If you were 50 or older at the end of 2012 the maximum amount increases to $6,000.

5. Generally, you will not pay income tax on the funds in your traditional IRA until you begin taking distributions from it.

6. You may be able to deduct some or all of your contributions to your traditional IRA.

7. Use the worksheets in the instructions for either Form 1040A or Form 1040 to figure the amount of your contributions that you can deduct.

8. You may also qualify for the Savers Credit, formally known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit. The credit can reduce your taxes up to $1,000 (up to $2,000 if filing jointly). Use Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to claim the Saver’s Credit.

9. You must file either Form 1040A or Form 1040 to deduct your IRA contribution or to claim the Saver’s Credit.

10. See Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements, for more about IRA contributions.

You can get Form 8880 and Publication 590 at IRS.gov or order by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Friday, April 5, 2013

Six Tips on Making Estimated Tax Payments

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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Some taxpayers may need to make estimated tax payments during the year. The type of income you receive determines whether you must pay estimated taxes. Here are six tips from the IRS about making estimated tax payments.

1. If you do not have taxes withheld from your income, you may need to make estimated tax payments. This may apply if you have income such as self-employment, interest, dividends or capital gains. It could also apply if you do not have enough taxes withheld from your wages. If you are required to pay estimated taxes during the year, you should make these payments to avoid a penalty.

2. Generally, you may need to pay estimated taxes in 2013 if you expect to owe $1,000 or more in taxes when you file your federal tax return. Other rules apply, and special rules apply to farmers and fishermen.

3. When figuring the amount of your estimated taxes, you should estimate the amount of income you expect to receive for the year. You should also include any tax deductions and credits that you will be eligible to claim. Be aware that life changes, such as a change in marital status or a child born during the year can affect your taxes. Try to make your estimates as accurate as possible.

4. You normally make estimated tax payments four times a year. The dates that apply to most people are April 15, June 17 and Sept. 16 in 2013, and Jan. 15, 2014.

5. You should use Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, to figure your estimated tax.

6. You may pay online or by phone. You may also pay by check or money order, or by credit or debit card. You’ll find more information about your payment options in the Form 1040-ES instructions. Also, check out the Electronic Payment Options Home Page at IRS.gov. If you mail your payments to the IRS, you should use the payment vouchers that come with Form 1040-ES.

For more information about estimated taxes, see Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax. Forms and publications are available on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Seven Tips for Taxpayers with Foreign Income

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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The IRS reminds U.S. citizens and residents who lived or worked abroad in 2012 that they may need to file a federal income tax return. If you are living or working outside the United States, you generally must file and pay your tax in the same way as people living in the U.S. This includes people with dual citizenship.

Here are seven tips taxpayers with foreign income should know:

1. Report Worldwide Income. The law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report any worldwide income. This includes income from foreign trusts, and foreign bank and securities accounts.

2. File Required Tax Forms. In most cases, affected taxpayers need to file Schedule B, Interest and Ordinary Dividends, with their tax returns. Some taxpayers may need to file additional forms. For example, some may need to file Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, while others may need to file Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, with the Treasury Department. See Publication 4261, Do You Have a Foreign Financial Account?, for more information.

3. Consider the Automatic Extension. U.S. citizens and resident aliens living abroad on April 15, 2013, may qualify for an automatic two-month extension to file their 2012 federal income tax returns. The extension of time to file until June 17, 2013, also applies to those serving in the military outside the U.S. Taxpayers must attach a statement to their returns explaining why they qualify for the extension.

4. Review the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. Many Americans who live and work abroad qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion. This means taxpayers who qualify will not pay taxes on up to $95,100 of their wages and other foreign earned income they received in 2012. See Forms 2555, Foreign Earned Income, or 2555-EZ, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, for more information.

5. Don’t Overlook Credits and Deductions. Taxpayers may be able to take either a credit or a deduction for income taxes paid to a foreign country. This benefit reduces the taxes these taxpayers pay in situations where both the U.S. and another country tax the same income.

6. Use IRS Free File. Taxpayers who live abroad can prepare and e-file their federal tax return for free by using IRS Free File. People who make $57,000 or less can use Free File’s brand-name software. People who earn more can use Free File Fillable Forms, an electronic version of IRS paper forms. Free File is available exclusively through the IRS.gov website.

7. Get Tax Help Outside the U.S. Taxpayers living abroad can get IRS help in four U.S. embassies and consulates. IRS staff at these offices can help with tax filing issues and answer questions about IRS notices and tax bills. The offices also have tax forms and publications. To find the nearest foreign IRS office, visit the IRS.gov website. At the bottom of the home page click on the link labeled ‘Contact Your Local IRS Office.’ Then click on ‘International.’

More information is available in Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad. IRS forms and publications are available at IRS.gov or by calling 1-800-829-3676.

Protect Yourself from the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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The IRS’s annual ‘Dirty Dozen’ list includes common tax scams that often peak during the tax filing season. The IRS recommends that taxpayers be aware so they can protect themselves against claims that sound too good to be true. Taxpayers who buy into illegal tax scams can end up facing significant penalties and interest and even criminal prosecution.

The tax scams that made the Dirty Dozen list this filing season are:

Identity Theft. Tax fraud through the use of identity theft tops this year’s Dirty Dozen list. Combating identity theft and refund fraud is a top priority for the IRS. The IRS’s ID theft strategy focuses on prevention, detection and victim assistance. During 2012, the IRS protected $20 billion of fraudulent refunds, including those related to identity theft. This compares to $14 billion in 2011. Taxpayers who believe they are at risk of identity theft due to lost or stolen personal information should immediately contact the IRS so the agency can take action to secure their tax account. If you have received a notice from the IRS, call the phone number on the notice. You may also call the IRS’s Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490. Find more information on the identity protection page on IRS.gov.

Phishing. Phishing typically involves an unsolicited email or a fake website that seems legitimate but lures victims into providing personal and financial information. Once scammers obtain that information, they can commit identity theft or financial theft. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from the IRS, send it to phishing@irs.gov.

Return Preparer Fraud. Although most return preparers are reputable and provide good service, you should choose carefully when hiring someone to prepare your tax return. Only use a preparer who signs the return they prepare for you and enters their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). For tips about choosing a preparer, visit www.irs.gov/chooseataxpro.

Hiding Income Offshore. One form of tax evasion is hiding income in offshore accounts. This includes using debit cards, credit cards or wire transfers to access those funds. While there are legitimate reasons for maintaining financial accounts abroad, there are reporting requirements taxpayers need to fulfill. Failing to comply can lead to penalties or criminal prosecution. Visit IRS.gov for more information on the Voluntary Disclosure Program.

“Free Money” from the IRS & Tax Scams Involving Social Security. Beware of scammers who prey on people with low income, the elderly and church members around the country. Scammers use flyers and ads with bogus promises of refunds that don’t exist. The schemes target people who have little or no income and normally don’t have to file a tax return. In some cases, a victim may be due a legitimate tax credit or refund but scammers fraudulently inflate income or use other false information to file a return to obtain a larger refund. By the time people find out the IRS has rejected their claim, the promoters are long gone.

Impersonation of Charitable Organizations. Following major disasters, it’s common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or personal information from well-intentioned people. They may even directly contact disaster victims and claim to be working for or on behalf of the IRS to help the victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds. Taxpayers need to be sure they donate to recognized charities.

False/Inflated Income and Expenses. Falsely claiming income you did not earn or expenses you did not pay in order to get larger refundable tax credits is tax fraud. This includes false claims for the Earned Income Tax Credit. In many cases the taxpayer ends up repaying the refund, including penalties and interest. In some cases the taxpayer faces criminal prosecution. In one particular scam, taxpayers file excessive claims for the fuel tax credit. Fraud involving the fuel tax credit is a frivolous claim and can result in a penalty of $5,000.

False Form 1099 Refund Claims. In this scam, the perpetrator files a fake information return, such as a Form 1099-OID, to justify a false refund claim.

Frivolous Arguments. Promoters of frivolous schemes advise taxpayers to make unreasonable and outlandish claims to avoid paying the taxes they owe. These are false arguments that the courts have consistently thrown out. While taxpayers have the right to contest their tax liabilities in court, no one has the right to disobey the law.

Falsely Claiming Zero Wages. Filing a phony information return is an illegal way to lower the amount of taxes an individual owes. Typically, scammers use a Form 4852 (Substitute Form W-2) or a “corrected” Form 1099 to improperly reduce taxable income to zero. Filing this type of return can result in a $5,000 penalty.

Disguised Corporate Ownership. Scammers improperly use third parties form corporations that hide the true ownership of the business. They help dishonest individuals underreport income, claim fake deductions and avoid filing tax returns. They also facilitate money laundering and other financial crimes.

Misuse of Trusts. There are legitimate uses of trusts in tax and estate planning. But some questionable transactions promise to reduce the amount of income that is subject to tax, offer deductions for personal expenses and reduced estate or gift taxes. Such trusts rarely deliver the promised tax benefits. They primarily help avoid taxes and hide assets from creditors, including the IRS.

For more on the Dirty Dozen, see IRS news release IR-2013-33.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tax Rules for Children Who Have Investment Income

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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Some children receive investment income and are required to file a federal tax return. If a child cannot file his or her own tax return for any reason, such as age, the child's parent or guardian is responsible for filing a return on the child’s behalf.

There are special tax rules that affect how parents report a child’s investment income. Some parents can include their child’s investment income on their tax return. Other children may have to file their own tax return.

Here are four facts from the IRS about the taxability of your child’s investment income.

1. Investment income normally includes interest, dividends, capital gains and other unearned income, such as from a trust.

2. Special rules apply if your child's total investment income is more than $1,900. The parent’s tax rate may apply to part of that income instead of the child's tax rate.

3. If your child's total interest and dividend income is less than $9,500, you may be able to include the income on your tax return. See Form 8814, Parents' Election to Report Child's Interest and Dividends. If you make this choice, the child does not file a return.

4. Your child must file their own tax return if they received investment income of $9,500 or more. File Form 8615, Tax for Certain Children Who Have Investment Income of More Than $1,900, with the child’s federal tax return.

For more information on this topic, see Publication 929, Tax Rules for Children and Dependents. This booklet and Forms 8615 and 8814 are available at IRS.gov. You may also have them mailed to you by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Five Tax Credits that Can Reduce Your Taxes

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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A tax credit reduces the amount of tax you must pay. A refundable tax credit not only reduces the federal tax you owe, but also could result in a refund.

Here are five credits the IRS wants you to consider before filing your 2012 federal income tax return:

1. The Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable credit for people who work and don’t earn a lot of money. The maximum credit for 2012 returns is $5,891 for workers with three or more children. Eligibility is determined based on earnings, filing status and eligible children. Workers without children may be eligible for a smaller credit. If you worked and earned less than $50,270, use the EITC Assistant tool on IRS.gov to see if you qualify. For more information, see Publication 596, Earned Income Credit.

2. The Child and Dependent Care Credit is for expenses you paid for the care of your qualifying children under age 13, or for a disabled spouse or dependent. The care must enable you to work or look for work. For more information, see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.

3. The Child Tax Credit may apply to you if you have a qualifying child under age 17. The credit may help reduce your federal income tax by up to $1,000 for each qualifying child you claim on your return. You may be required to file the new Schedule 8812, Child Tax Credit, with your tax return to claim the credit. See Publication 972, Child Tax Credit, for more information.

4. The Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (Saver’s Credit) helps low-to-moderate income workers save for retirement. You may qualify if your income is below a certain limit and you contribute to an IRA or a retirement plan at work. The credit is in addition to any other tax savings that apply to retirement plans. For more information, see Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs).

5. The American Opportunity Tax Credit helps offset some of the costs that you pay for higher education. The AOTC applies to the first four years of post-secondary education. The maximum credit is $2,500 per eligible student. Forty percent of the credit, up to $1,000, is refundable. You must file Form 8863, Education Credits, to claim it if you qualify. For more information, see Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.

Make sure you qualify before claiming any tax credit. You can always visit IRS.gov to learn about the rules. The free IRS publications mentioned are also available on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ten Facts about Capital Gains and Losses

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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The term “capital asset” for tax purposes applies to almost everything you own and use for personal or investment purposes. A capital gain or loss occurs when you sell a capital asset.

Here are 10 facts from the IRS on capital gains and losses:

1. Almost everything you own and use for personal purposes, pleasure or investment is a capital asset. Capital assets include your home, household furnishings, and stocks and bonds that you hold as investments.

2. A capital gain or loss is the difference between your basis of an asset and the amount you receive when you sell it. Your basis is usually what you paid for the asset.

3. You must include all capital gains in your income.

4. You may deduct capital losses on the sale of investment property. You cannot deduct losses on the sale of personal-use property.

5. Capital gains and losses are long-term or short-term, depending on how long you hold on to the property. If you hold the property more than one year, your capital gain or loss is long-term. If you hold it one year or less, the gain or loss is short-term.

6. If your long-term gains exceed your long-term losses, the difference between the two is a net long-term capital gain. If your net long-term capital gain is more than your net short-term capital loss, you have a 'net capital gain.’

7. The tax rates that apply to net capital gains are generally lower than the tax rates that apply to other types of income. The maximum capital gains rate for most people in 2012 is 15 percent. For lower-income individuals, the rate may be 0 percent on some or all of their net capital gains. Rates of 25 or 28 percent can also apply to special types of net capital gains.

8. If your capital losses are greater than your capital gains, you can deduct the difference between the two on your tax return. The annual limit on this deduction is $3,000, or $1,500 if you are married filing separately.

9. If your total net capital loss is more than the limit you can deduct, you can carry over the losses you are not able to deduct to next year’s tax return. You will treat those losses as if they occurred that year.

10. Form 8949, Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets, will help you calculate capital gains and losses. You will carry over the subtotals from this form to Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses. If you e-file your tax return, the software will do this for you.

For more information about capital gains and losses, see the Schedule D instructions or Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses. They are both available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Take Credit for Your Retirement

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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Saving for your retirement can make you eligible for a tax credit worth up to $2,000. If you contribute to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or to an IRA, you may be eligible for the Saver’s Credit.

Here are seven points the IRS would like you to know about the Saver’s Credit:

1. The Saver’s Credit is formally known as the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit. The credit can be worth up to $2,000 for married couples filing a joint return or $1,000 for single taxpayers.

2. Your filing status and the amount of your income affect whether you are eligible for the credit. You may be eligible for the credit on your 2012 tax return if your filing status and income are:
Single, married filing separately or qualifying widow or widower, with income up to $28,750
Head of Household with income up to $43,125
Married Filing Jointly, with income up to $57,500

3. You must be at least 18 years of age to be eligible. You also cannot have been a full-time student in 2012 nor claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

4. You must contribute to a qualified retirement plan by the due date of your tax return in order to claim the credit. The due date for most people is April 15.

5. The Saver’s Credit reduces the tax you owe.

6. Use IRS Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to claim the credit. Be sure to attach the form to your federal tax return. If you use IRS e-file the software will do this for you.

7. Depending on your income, you may be eligible for other tax benefits if you contribute to a retirement plan. For example, you may be able to deduct all or part of your contributions to a traditional IRA.

For more information on the Saver’s Credit, see IRS Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements. Also see Publication 4703, Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, and Form 8880. They are available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Four Tax Tips about Your Unemployment Benefits

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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If you received unemployment benefits this year, you must report the payments on your federal income tax return.

Here are four tips from the IRS about unemployment benefits.

1. You must include all unemployment compensation you received in your total income for the year. You should receive a Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments. It will show the amount you were paid and the amount of any federal income taxes withheld from your payments.

2. Types of unemployment benefits include:
Benefits paid by a state or the District of Columbia from the Federal Unemployment Trust Fund
Railroad unemployment compensation benefits
Disability payments from a government program paid as a substitute for unemployment compensation
Trade readjustment allowances under the Trade Act of 1974
Unemployment assistance under the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act

3. You must include benefits from regular union dues paid to you as an unemployed member of a union in your income. However, other rules apply if you contribute to a special union fund and your contributions are not deductible. If this applies to you, only include in income the amount you received from the fund that is more than your contributions.

4. You can choose to have federal income tax withheld from your unemployment benefits. You make this choice using Form W-4V, Voluntary Withholding Request. If you complete the form and give it to the paying office, they will withhold tax at 10 percent of your payments. If you choose not to have tax withheld, you may have to make estimated tax payments throughout the year.

For more information on unemployment benefits see IRS Publications 17, Your Federal Income Tax, or IRS Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income. You can download these free booklets and Form W-4V from the IRS.gov website. You may also order them by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Friday, March 1, 2013

First-Time Homebuyer Credit Look-up Tool Helps Taxpayers Who Must Repay the Credit

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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The IRS no longer mails reminder letters to taxpayers who have to repay the First-Time Homebuyer Credit. To help taxpayers who must repay the credit, the IRS website has a user-friendly look-up tool. Here are four reminders about repaying the credit and using the tool:

1. Who needs to repay the credit? If you bought a home in 2008 and claimed the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, the credit is similar to a no-interest loan. You normally must repay the credit in 15 equal annual installments. You should have started to repay the credit with your 2010 tax return.

You are usually not required to pay back the credit for a main home you bought after 2008. However, you may have to repay the entire credit if you sold the home or stopped using it as your main home within 36 months from the date of purchase. This rule also applies to homes bought in 2008.

2. How to use the tool. You can find the First-Time Homebuyer Credit Lookup tool at IRS.gov under the ‘Tools’ menu. You will need your Social Security number, date of birth and complete address to use the tool. If you claimed the credit on a joint return, each spouse should use the tool to get their share of the account information. That’s because the law treats each spouse as having claimed half of the credit for repayment purposes.

3. What the tool does. The tool provides important account information to help you report the repayment on your tax return. It shows the original amount of the credit, annual repayment amounts, total amount paid and the remaining balance. You can print your account page to share with your tax preparer and to keep for your records.

4. How to repay the credit. To repay the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, add the amount you have to repay to any other tax you owe on your federal tax return. This could result in additional tax owed or a reduced refund. You report the repayment on line 59b on Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. If you are repaying the credit because the home stopped being your main home, you must attach Form 5405, Repayment of the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, to your tax return.

Social Security Benefits and Your Taxes

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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Some people must pay taxes on their Social Security benefits. If you get Social Security, you should receive a Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, by early February. The form shows the amount of benefits you received in 2012.

Here are five tips from the IRS to help you determine if your benefits are taxable:

1. The amount of your income and your filing status affect whether you must pay taxes on your Social Security.

2. If Social Security was your only income in 2012, your benefits are probably not taxable. You also may not need to file a federal income tax return.

3. If you received income from other sources, then you may have to pay taxes on your benefits.

4. You can follow these two quick steps to see if your benefits are taxable:

• Add one-half of the Social Security benefits you received to all your other income, including tax-exempt interest. Tax-exempt interest includes interest from state and municipal bonds.

• Next, compare this total to the ‘base amount’ for your filing status. If the total is more than your base amount, then some of your benefits may be taxable.

The three 2012 base amounts are:

$25,000 for single, head of household, qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child or married individuals filing separately who did not live with their spouse at any time during the year;

$32,000 for married couples filing jointly; and

$0 for married persons filing separately who lived together at any time during the year.

5. If you use IRS e-file to prepare and file your tax return, the tax software will figure your taxable benefits for you. If you file a paper return, you can use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on the IRS website to check if your benefits are taxable. The ITA is a resource that can help answer tax law questions. There also is a worksheet in the instructions for Form 1040 or 1040A that you can use to figure your taxable benefits.

For more information on the taxability of Social Security benefits, see IRS Publication 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits. You can get a copy of this booklet on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Five Tips if Your Name Has Changed

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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If you were married or divorced and changed your name last year, be sure to notify the Social Security Administration before you file your taxes with the IRS. If the name on your tax return doesn’t match SSA records, the IRS will flag it as an error and that may delay your refund.

Here are five tips for a person whose name has changed. They also apply if your dependent’s name has changed.

1. If you have married and you’re using your new spouse’s last name or you’ve hyphenated your last name, notify the SSA. That way, the IRS computers can match your new name with your Social Security number.

2. If you were divorced and are now using your former last name, notify the SSA of your name change.

3. Letting the SSA know about a name change is easy. File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card, at your local SSA office or by mail with proof of your legal name change.

4. You can get Form SS-5 on the SSA’s website at www.ssa.gov, by calling 800-772-1213 or at local SSA offices. Your new card will have the same number as your former card but will show your new name.

5. If you adopted your new spouse’s children and their names changed, you'll need to update their names with SSA too. For adopted children without SSNs, the parents can apply for an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number by filing Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions, with the IRS. The ATIN is a temporary number used in place of an SSN on the tax return. Form W-7A is available on the IRS.gov website or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Friday, February 22, 2013

Beware of Bogus IRS Emails

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Source:  www.irs.gov
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The IRS receives thousands of reports every year from taxpayers who receive emails out-of-the-blue claiming to be from the IRS. Scammers use the IRS name or logo to make the message appear authentic so you will respond to it. In reality, it’s a scam known as “phishing,” attempting to trick you into revealing your personal and financial information. The criminals then use this information to commit identity theft or steal your money.

The IRS has this advice for anyone who receives an email claiming to be from the IRS or directing you to an IRS site:

   - Do not reply to the message;
   - Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer; and
   - Do not click on any links in a suspicious email or phishing website and do not enter confidential information. Visit the IRS website and click on 'Identity Theft' at the bottom of the page for more information.

Here are five other key points the IRS wants you to know about phishing scams.

1. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or social media channels to request personal or financial information;

2. The IRS never asks for detailed personal and financial information like PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts;

3. The address of the official IRS website is www.irs.gov. Do not be misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org or anything other than .gov. If you discover a website that claims to be the IRS but you suspect it is bogus, do not provide any personal information on their site and report it to the IRS;

4. If you receive a phone call, fax or letter in the mail from an individual claiming to be from the IRS but you suspect they are not an IRS employee, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to determine if the IRS has a legitimate need to contact you. Report any bogus correspondence. Forward a suspicious email to phishing@irs.gov;

5. You can help the IRS and other law enforcement agencies shut down these schemes. Visit the IRS.gov website to get details on how to report scams and helpful resources if you are the victim of a scam. Click on "Reporting Phishing" at the bottom of the page.