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Friday, April 19, 2013
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
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
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
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
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).