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Archive | Tax Time

What to do when an IRS letter arrives in the mail

 

The IRS mails millions of pieces of correspondence every year to taxpayers for a variety of reasons.

Below are some suggestions on how to best handle a letter or notice from the IRS:

Do not panic. Simply responding will take care of most IRS letters and notices.

Most IRS notices are about federal tax returns or tax accounts. Each notice deals with a specific issue and provides specific instructions on what to do. Careful reading is essential.

A notice may likely be about changes to a taxpayers’ account, taxes owed or a payment request. Sometimes a notice may ask for more information about a specific issue or item on a tax return.

If a notice indicates a changed or corrected tax return, review the information and compare it with your original return.

There is usually no need to reply to a notice unless specifically instructed to do so, or to make a payment.

Taxpayers must respond to a notice they do not agree with. Mail a letter explaining why there is a disagreement with the IRS. The address to mail the letter is on the contact stub at the bottom of the notice. Include information and documents for the IRS to consider and allow at least 30 days for a response.

There is no need to call the IRS or make an appointment at a taxpayer assistance center for most notices. If a call seems necessary, use the phone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Be sure to have a copy of the tax return and notice when calling.

Always keep copies of any notices received with tax records.

Be alert for tax scams. The IRS sends letters and notices by mail. IRS does not contact people by email or social media to ask for personal or financial information. The IRS will not demand payment a certain way, such as prepaid debit or credit card. Taxpayers have several payment options for taxes owed.

For more on this topic, visit IRS.gov. Click on the link ‘Respond to a Notice’ at the bottom center of the home page. Also, see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process. Get IRS.gov/forms at any time.

To make a payment, visit IRS.gov/payments or use the IRS2Go app to make a payment with Direct Pay for free, or by debit or credit card through an approved payment processor for a fee.

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Need more time to pay taxes?

 

All taxpayers should file on time, even if they can’t pay what they owe. This saves them from potentially paying a failure to file penalty. Taxes are due by the original due date of the return.

Here are four tips for those who can’t pay their taxes in full by the April 18 due date:

  1. File on time and pay as much as possible. Pay online, by phone, with your mobile device using the IRS2Go app, or by check or money order. Visit IRS.gov for electronic payment options.
  2. Get a loan or use a credit card to pay the tax. The interest and fees charged by a bank or credit card company may be less than IRS interest and penalties. For credit card options, see IRS.gov.
  3. Use the Online Payment Agreement tool.  Don’t wait for the IRS to send a bill before seeking a payment plan. The best way is to use the Online Payment Agreement tool on IRS.gov. Taxpayers can also file Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, with their tax return. Set up a direct debit agreement. With this type of payment plan, there is no need to send a check each month.
  4. Don’t ignore a tax bill.  If so, the IRS may take collection action. Contact the IRS right away by calling the phone number on your bill to talk about options. The IRS will work with taxpayers suffering financial hardship.

Remember to file on time. Pay as much as possible by April 18, 2017, and pay the rest as soon as possible to reduce the interest and penalties. Find out more about the IRS collection process on IRS.gov.

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IRS urges taxpayers not to rush; choose return preparers wisely

 

WASHINGTON – As the tax filing season deadline approaches, the Internal Revenue Service is reminding taxpayers to select who will prepare their 2016 federal tax return carefully.

With the filing deadline less than two weeks away, appointments with some tax professionals may be limited. A reputable preparer will ask to see a taxpayer’s records and receipts and can help file an extension to give the taxpayer time to collect any missing documents. The IRS urges taxpayers to avoid fly-by-night preparers who may not be available after April 18 and suggests checking the return preparer’s qualifications and history.

The IRS Choosing a Tax Professional page has information about tax preparer credentials and qualifications. The IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications can help taxpayers identify local preparers by type of credential or qualification.

All paid tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. They must sign the return and include their PTIN. Ask about fees before providing personal financial records and receipts. Review the return and ask questions before signing it.

Free Tax Preparation

Each year, millions of tax returns are prepared for free by taxpayers using IRS Free File or by volunteers at community-based sites l staffed by IRS-trained volunteers that are located across the country.

IRS Free File lets taxpayers who earned less than $64,000 prepare and e-file a return for free using name-brand software. Go to IRS.gov and click on the ‘Filing’ tab for options. Free File software walks users through the tax preparation process and helps identify those tax changes that may affect their return. Those earning more than $64,000 can use Free File Fillable Forms, electronic versions of IRS paper forms.

IRS trained and certified volunteers at thousands of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (VITA and TCE) sites nationwide offer free tax preparation and e-filing. VITA offers free tax return preparation to taxpayers who earn $54,000 or less. The TCE program is mainly for people age 60 or older and focuses on tax issues unique to seniors. AARP participates in the TCE program and helps taxpayers with low- to moderate incomes.

To find the closest VITA site, visit IRS.gov and search the word “VITA.” Or download the IRS2Go app on a smart phone. Site information is also available by calling the IRS at 800-906-9887.

To locate the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, visit aarp.org, or call 888-227-7669.

There are also VITA and TCE sites that provide bilingual help.

Taxpayers who can’t file by the deadline should request an extension by using Free File on IRS.gov. In a matter of minutes, anyone can e-file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, and get a six-month extension. Requesting an extension to file does not extend the time to pay.

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Private collection of some overdue taxes starts in April

 

Taxpayers: Watch Out for Scam Calls

WASHINGTON – Starting this month, the Internal Revenue Service will begin sending letters to a relatively small group of taxpayers whose overdue federal tax accounts are being assigned to one of four private-sector collection agencies.

The new program, authorized under a federal law enacted by Congress in December 2015, enables these designated contractors to collect, on the government’s behalf, unpaid tax debts. Usually, these are unpaid individual tax obligations that are not currently being worked by IRS collection employees and often were assessed by the tax agency several years ago.

Taxpayers being assigned to a private firm would have had multiple contacts from the IRS in previous years and still have an unpaid tax bill.

“The IRS is taking steps throughout this effort to ensure that the private collection firms work responsibly and respect taxpayer rights,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The IRS also urges taxpayers to be on the lookout for scammers who might use this program as a cover to trick people. In reality, those taxpayers whose accounts are assigned as part of the private collection effort know they have a tax debt.”

The program will begin this week with a few hundred taxpayers receiving mailings and subsequent phone calls, with the program growing to thousands a week later in the spring and summer. Taxpayers with overdue taxes will always receive multiple contacts, letters and phone calls, first from the IRS, not private debt collectors.

How the New Program Works

The IRS will always notify a taxpayer before transferring their account to a private collection agency (PCA). First, the IRS will send a letter to the taxpayer and their tax representative informing them that their account is being assigned to a PCA and giving the name and contact information for the PCA. This mailing will include a copy of Publication 4518, What You Can Expect When the IRS Assigns Your Account to a Private Collection Agency.

Only four private groups are participating in this program: CBE Group of Cedar Falls, Iowa; Conserve of Fairport, N.Y.; Performant of Livermore, Calif.; and Pioneer of Horseheads, N.Y. The taxpayer’s account will only be assigned to one of these agencies, never to all four. No other private group is authorized to represent the IRS.

Once the IRS letter is sent, the designated private firm will send its own letter to the taxpayer and their representative confirming the account transfer. To protect the taxpayer’s privacy and security, both the IRS letter and the collection firm’s letter will contain information that will help taxpayers identify the tax amount owed and assure taxpayers that future collection agency calls they may receive are legitimate.

The private collectors will be able to identify themselves as contractors of the IRS collecting taxes. Employees of these collection agencies must follow the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and like IRS employees, must be courteous and must respect taxpayer rights.

The private firms are authorized to discuss payment options, including setting up payment agreements with taxpayers. But as with cases assigned to IRS employees, any tax payment must be made, either electronically or by check, to the IRS. A payment should never be sent to the private firm or anyone besides the IRS or the U.S. Treasury. Checks should only be made payable to the United States Treasury. To find out more about available payment options, visit IRS.gov/Payments.

Private firms are not authorized to take enforcement actions against taxpayers. Only IRS employees can take these actions, such as filing a notice of Federal Tax Lien or issuing a levy. To learn more about the new private debt collection program, visit the Private Debt Collection page on IRS.gov.

Watch out for Phone Scams

The IRS reminds taxpayers to be on the lookout for scammers posing as private collection firms. The IRS will be watching for these schemes as the collection program begins, and this effort will include working with partners in the tax community and law enforcement about emerging scams.

People should remember that these private collection firms will only be calling about a tax debt the person has had – and has been aware of – for years and had been contacted about previously in the past by the IRS.

“Here’s a simple rule to keep in mind. You won’t get a call from a private collection firm unless you have unpaid tax debts going back several years and you’ve already heard from the IRS multiple times,” Koskinen said. “The people included in the private collection program typically already know they have a tax issue. If you get a call from someone saying they’re from one of these groups and you’ve paid your taxes, that’s a sure sign of a scam.”

If taxpayers are unsure if they have an unpaid tax debt from a previous year – which is what the private collection firms will handle – they can go to IRS.gov and check their account balance: www.irs.gov/balancedue. If the account balance says zero, that means nothing is due, and you typically wouldn’t be getting a contact from the IRS or the private firm.

Whether or not a taxpayer’s account is assigned to a private collection agency, the IRS warns taxpayers to beware of scammers pretending to be from the IRS or an IRS contractor. Here are some things the scammers often do but the IRS and its contractors will never do:

Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes, and if a case is assigned to a PCA, both the IRS and the authorized collection agency will send the taxpayer a letter. Payment will always be to the United States Treasury.

Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.

Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.

Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

“Unexpected and threatening calls out of the blue from someone saying they’re representing the IRS to collect a tax debt is a warning sign people should watch out for,” Koskinen said.

For more information, visit the “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” page on IRS.gov.

Don’t Wait to Hear from the IRS or a Contractor

As always, the IRS encourages taxpayers behind on their tax obligations to come forward and either pay what they owe or set up a suitable payment plan. This means there’s no need to wait for a phone call or letter from the IRS or any of its contractors.

Frequently, taxpayers qualify for one of several payment options, and taking advantage of them is often easier than many people think. These include the following:

Most people can set up a payment agreement with the IRS online in a matter of minutes. Those who owe $50,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest can use the Online Payment Agreement to set up a monthly payment agreement for up to 72 months. Taxpayers can choose this option even if they have not yet received a bill or notice from the IRS. With the Online Payment Agreement, no paperwork is required, there is no need to call, write or visit the IRS and qualified taxpayers can avoid the filing of a Notice of Federal Tax Lien if one was not previously filed. Alternatively, taxpayers can request a payment agreement by filing Form 9465. This form can be downloaded from IRS.gov and mailed along with a tax return, bill or notice.

Some struggling taxpayers may qualify for an offer-in-compromise. This is an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. The IRS looks at the taxpayer’s income and assets to make a determination regarding the taxpayer’s ability to pay. To help determine eligibility, use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier, a free online tool available on IRS.gov.

“If people have a problem paying their tax bill, we encourage them to reach out to us,” Koskinen said. “We have many programs designed to help people who are having trouble meeting their tax obligations. It’s better to reach out to us sooner rather than later for help, because interest and penalties on unpaid taxes can add up quickly.”

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Secrets smart investors use year-round to save on their taxes

TAX-Secrets-smart-investors

(BPT) – Come tax time, many people work to locate tax breaks. While this is always a smart financial move, a little-known way to help build your net worth is to keep taxes top of mind throughout the entire year.

Reducing taxes means you keep more of what you earn, according to Nick Holeman, a financial planning expert at Betterment.com.

“You can’t control the stock market, but you can control some of your taxes,” Holeman said. “Knowing how your investments affect your tax bill can help you save money not just on April 15th, but for years to come.”

Check to see whether your long-term investment strategy is running efficiently with these tips from Holeman.

Invest your tax refund: One smart place to invest your tax refund is in an IRA. Normally, investors might divert a portion of the refund into this account as part of a well-rounded investment strategy and claim the deductions for next year’s tax time. Invest your refund, and you may get a portion of that back in tax savings. Stay in the habit of investing that refund if you can and watch those small returns add up over time.

Think several moves ahead: Investing is complex and from time to time you will have to sell some of your investments; everybody does. It might be to rebalance your portfolio or maybe your goals have changed and your investments no longer match their intended purpose.

Still, smart investors need to think ahead before blindly selling parts of their portfolio. This is because selling could potentially lead to taxes. By carefully choosing which investments to sell, you can help minimize that hefty tax consequence.

One way to do this is to partner with an investment company that has the tools to make this information easy to access and understand. Betterment.com, for example, offers Tax Impact Preview, which lets investors see estimated potential tax on a sale before making the trade. If you don’t think the pros outweigh the cons, don’t do it.

Reorganize your investments: Another way to potentially leverage even small tax advantages into long-term growth is to build your portfolio like an energy-efficient engine, built to run for more miles with less need to refuel. You can help accomplish this by reorganizing your portfolio. Move inefficient investments like international stocks and other assets that are taxed more often into a tax-deferred account, such as an IRA or a Roth IRA. That way, you can enjoy the high growth for less tax. Then, move less-taxed assets, such as municipal bonds, into taxable accounts.

Benefit from losses: Help keep your portfolio in balance by selling off the laggards and replacing them with a similar investment. You can receive a tax deduction from your losses that can help cancel out the taxes you owe on assets that have gains. This is done automatically for investors at many automated services through a strategy called tax loss harvesting. Smart investors should always remember that investments involve risk and may result in loss.

Give to a worthy cause: While it’s important to secure your future, many investors see community support as an important goal. Consider donating a to a nonprofit organization in your community. Not only are you helping to improve the quality of life in your locale, you can potentially claim a deduction from your income tax. It can pay to do the right thing.

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Know these facts before deducting a charitable donation

 

If taxpayers gave money or goods to a charity in 2016, they may be able to claim a deduction on their federal tax return. Taxpayers can use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool, Can I Deduct my Charitable Contributions?, to help determine if their charitable contributions are deductible.

Here are some important facts about charitable donations:

Qualified Charities. Taxpayers must donate to a qualified charity. Gifts to individuals, political organizations or candidates are not deductible. To check the status of a charity, use the IRS Select Check tool.

Itemize Deductions. To deduct charitable contributions, taxpayers must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions. File Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, with a federal tax return.

Benefit in Return. If taxpayers get something in return for their donation, they may have to reduce their deduction. Taxpayers can only deduct the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit received. Examples of benefits include merchandise, meals, tickets to events or other goods and services.

Type of Donation. If taxpayers give property instead of cash, their deduction amount is normally limited to the item’s fair market value. Fair market value is generally the price they would get if the property sold on the open market. If they donate used clothing and household items, those items generally must be in good condition or better. Special rules apply to cars, boats and other types of property donations.

Noncash Charitable Contributions. File Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, for all noncash gifts totaling more than $500 for the year. Complete section-A for noncash property contributions worth $5,000 or less. Complete section-B for noncash property contributions more than $5,000 and include a qualified appraisal to the return. Taxpayers may be able to prepare and e-file their tax return for free using IRS Free File. The type of records they must keep depends on the amount and type of their donation. To learn more about what records to keep, see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.

Donations of $250 or More. If taxpayers donated cash or goods of $250 or more, they must have a written statement from the charity. It must show the amount of the donation and a description of any property given. It must also say whether they received any goods or services in exchange for the gift.

Taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount from their prior-year tax return to verify their identity. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at https://www.irs.gov/individuals/electronic-filing-pin-request.

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Top ten adoption tax credit facts to consider

 

Taxpayers who have adopted or tried to adopt a child in 2016 may qualify for a tax credit. Here are ten important things about the adoption credit:

The Credit. The credit is nonrefundable, which may reduce taxes owed to zero. If the credit exceeds the tax owed, there is no refund of the additional amount. In addition, if an employer helped pay for the adoption through a written qualified adoption assistance program, that amount may reduce any taxes owed.

Maximum Benefit. The maximum adoption tax credit and exclusion for 2016 is $13,460 per child.

Credit Carryover. If the credit exceeds the tax owed, taxpayers can carry any unused credit forward. For example, the unused credit in 2016 can reduce taxes for 2017. Use this method for up to five years or until the credit is fully used, whichever comes first.

Eligible Child. An eligible child is an individual under age 18 or a person who is physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.

Qualified Expenses. Adoption expenses must be reasonable, necessary and directly related to the adoption of the child. Types of expenses may include adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees and travel.

Domestic or Foreign Adoptions. Taxpayers can usually claim the credit whether the adoption is domestic or foreign. However, there are different rules regarding the timing of expenses for each type of adoption.

Special Needs Child. A special rule may apply if the adoption is of an eligible U.S. child with special needs. Under this special rule, taxpayers can claim the tax credit, even if qualified adoption expenses were not paid.

No Double Benefit. In some instances both the tax credit and the exclusion may be claimed but not for the same expenses.

Income Limits. The credit and exclusion are subject to income limitations. These may reduce or eliminate the claimable amount..

IRS Free File. Use IRS Free File to prepare and e-file federal tax returns for free. File Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses, with Form 1040. Free File is only available on IRS.gov/freefile.

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Understanding the child and dependent care tax credit

 

The IRS urges people not to overlook the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. Eligible taxpayers may be able claim it if they paid for someone to care for a child, dependent or spouse last year.

Taxpayers can use the IRS Interactive Tax Assistant tool, Am I Eligible to Claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit?, to help determine if they are eligible to claim the credit for expenses paid for the care of an individual to allow the taxpayer to work or look for work.

Eight other key points about this credit include:

  1. 1. Work-Related Expenses. The care must have been necessary so a person could work or look for work. For those who are married, the care also must have been necessary so a spouse could work or look for work. This rule does not apply if the spouse was disabled or a full-time student.
  2. 2. Qualifying Person. The care must have been for “qualifying persons.” A qualifying person can be a child under age 13. A qualifying person can also be a spouse or dependent who lived with the taxpayer for more than half the year and is physically or mentally incapable of self-care.
  3. 3. Earned Income. A taxpayer must have earned income for the year, such as wages from a job. For those who are married and file jointly, the spouse must also have earned income. Special rules apply to a spouse who is a student or disabled.
  4. 4. Credit Percentage / Expense Limits. The credit is worth between 20 and 35 percent of allowable expenses. The percentage depends on the income amount. Allowable expenses are limited to $3,000 for paid care of one qualifying person. The limit is $6,000 if the taxpayer paid for the care of two or more.
  5. 5. Dependent Care Benefits. Special rules apply for people who get dependent care benefits from their employer. Form 2441, Child and Dependent Care Expenses, has more on these rules. File the form with a tax return.
  6. 6. Qualifying Person’s SSN. The Social Security number of each qualifying person must be included to claim the credit.
  7. 7. Care Provider Information. The name, address and taxpayer identification number of the care provider must be included on the return.
  8. 8. IRS Free File. Taxpayers are encouraged to use IRS Free File to prepare and e-file their federal tax returns, including Form 2441. Free File is easy, fast and available only at IRS.gov/freefile.

Taxpayers who pay someone to come to their home and care for their dependent or spouse may be a household employer and may have to withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare tax and pay federal unemployment tax. See Publication 926, Household Employer’s Tax Guide.

Taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount from their prior-year tax return to verify their identity. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at https://www.irs.gov/individuals/electronic-filing-pin-request.

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Tips to avoid tax scams

 

Attorney General Bill Schuette reminds residents that the IRS will never ask for personal information by phone or email

LANSING – With tax season entering full swing, Michigan Attorney General today issued an updated consumer alert with tips to avoid the latest tax scams and IRS related scams. The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Team often sees an uptick in tax related scams during the early spring months.

“Tax season is the time of year that scam artists and crooks look forward to,” said Schuette. “Whether it is someone posing as an IRS agent, or as a tax preparer, you can never be too cautious with your personal information. If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, contact law enforcement immediately.”

Schuette noted that the IRS will never contact you asking for personal information by phone or email. Schuette encourages any residents who believe they have received fraudulent calls or emails to contact the IRS directly.

Below is a detailed list of things the IRS will never ask you to do:

*Demand payment without any chance to appeal or question the amount due

*Threaten to have you arrested

*Require a specific payment method, like a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer

*Ask for your bank account number

Phone Scams to Watch For:

*A high pressure call that threatens legal action which can only be avoided by immediate payment.

*A caller identifies themselves as an IRS employee and tells the targeted victim that they are eligible for a sizable rebate for filing taxes early if they submit bank account information for direct deposit of the rebate or refund.

*A person claiming to be an IRS employee indicates the IRS sent a check that has not been cashed and the IRS needs to verify the individual’s bank account number.

IRS Email Scams to Watch For:

*Using the official IRS logo.

*Using whole sections of text from the IRS’s website.

*Using a fake “from” address that looks similar to the IRS.

*Using forms with numbers similar to those the IRS already uses.

The IRS will never contact you via email so don’t be fooled.

What to Do if You Get an Email or Phone Call Claiming to Come From the IRS:

*If you don’t owe taxes, hang up immediately or delete the email without opening it. Report any suspicious solicitation to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration hotline at 800-366-4484.

*If you do owe on your taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 if you need federal tax assistance.

*Do not click on any links embedded in a suspicious email.

*You may forward emails to phishing@irs.gov, the address established by the IRS to receive, track, and shut down these scams. Detailed instructions for how to send the emails are available through the IRS. You may not receive an individual response to your email because of the volume of reports the IRS receives each day.

*Report misuse of the IRS name, logo, forms, or other IRS property to the Treasury Inspector General hotline at 800-366-4484.

*The only genuine IRS website is www.irs.gov. You should never get to this site using a link embedded into an email. Instead enter the address in your browser. A website link embedded into an email can easily take you to a fake site.

For general consumer protection questions or complaints, you may reach the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at:

P.O. Box 30213

Lansing, MI 48909

517-373-1140

Fax: 517-241-3771

Toll free: 877-765-8388

Online Complaint Form http://www.michigan.gov/ag

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Get credit for making a home energy efficient

 

Taxpayers who made certain energy efficient improvements to their home last year may qualify for a tax credit this year. Here are some key facts to know about home energy tax credits:

Non-Business Energy Property Credit

Part of this credit is worth 10 percent of the cost of certain qualified energy-saving items added to a taxpayer’s main home last year. Qualified improvements include adding insulation, energy-efficient exterior windows and doors, and certain roofs. Do not include the cost to install these items.

The other part of the credit is not a percentage of the cost. It includes the installation costs of certain high-efficiency heating and air-conditioning systems, high-efficiency water heaters and stoves that burn biomass fuel. The credit amount for each type of property has a different dollar limit.

This credit has a maximum lifetime limit of $500. Taxpayers may only use $200 of this limit for windows.

A taxpayer’s main home must be located in the U.S. to qualify for the credit. The non-business energy property credit is only available for existing homes.

Be sure to have the written certification from the manufacturer that their product qualifies for this tax credit. They usually post it on their website or include it with the product’s packaging. Taxpayers can use this to claim the credit. Do not attach it to a tax return. Keep it with tax records.

Taxpayers may claim the credit on their 2016 tax return if they didn’t reach the lifetime limit in past years. Under current law, Dec. 31, 2016, was the deadline for qualifying improvements to the taxpayer’s main U. S. home.

Residential energy efficient property credit

This tax credit is 30 percent of the cost of alternative energy equipment installed on or in a home. This includes the cost of installation.

Qualified equipment includes solar hot water heaters, solar electric equipment, wind turbines and fuel cell property.

There is no dollar limit on the credit for most types of property. If the credit is more than the tax owed, carry forward the unused portion of this credit to next year’s tax return.

The home must be in the U.S. It does not have to be a taxpayer’s main home, unless the alternative energy equipment is qualified fuel cell property. The residential energy efficient property credit is available for both existing homes and homes under construction.

This credit is available through 2016.

Use Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits, to claim these credits. For more information on this topic, refer to the form’s instructions. Get IRS forms anytime on IRS.gov/forms.

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

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