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Archive | Tax Time

Business taxpayers should take another look at their estimated tax payments

Taxpayers who pay quarterly estimated tax payments may want to revisit the amount they pay. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed the way most taxpayers calculate their tax. These taxpayers include those with substantial income not subject to withholding, such as small business owners and self-employed individuals. The tax reform changes include:

• Revised tax rates and brackets

• New and revised business deductions

• Limiting or discontinuing deductions

• Increasing the standard deduction

• Removing personal exemptions

• Increasing the child tax credit

As a result of these changes, many taxpayers may need to raise or lower the amount of tax they pay each quarter through estimated taxes.

Alternatively, many taxpayers who receive income not subject to withholding, but who also receive income as an employee, may be able to avoid the requirement to make estimated tax payments by having more tax taken out of their pay. These taxpayers can use the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov to perform a Paycheck Checkup. Doing so now will help avoid an unexpected year-end tax bill and possibly a penalty in the future. 

Taxpayers with more complex situations might need to use Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, instead.  This includes people who owe self-employment tax, the alternative minimum tax, or tax on unearned income from dependents, and people with capital gains or dividends.

Form 1040-ES can also help taxpayers figure these payments simply and accurately. The estimated tax package includes a quick rundown of key tax changes, income tax rate schedules for 2019 and a useful worksheet for figuring the right amount of tax to pay.

Estimated tax penalty relief

The IRS is waiving the estimated tax penalty for many taxpayers whose 2018 federal income tax withholding and estimated tax payments fell short of their total tax liability for the year. This relief is designed to help taxpayers who were unable to properly adjust their withholding and estimated tax payments to reflect an array of changes under TCJA.

The IRS will generally waive the penalty for any taxpayer who paid at least 85 percent of their total tax liability during the year through federal income tax withholding, quarterly estimated tax payments or a combination of the two. The usual percentage threshold is 90 percent to avoid a penalty. For more information about the penalty and requesting the waiver, see Form 2210 and its instructions.

Separately, farmers and fishermen qualify for a waiver if they file their 2018 tax return and pay all taxes due by April 15, 2019; April 17 for residents of Maine and Massachusetts. The usual deadline is March 1.

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Taxpayers should be ready to verify their identity when calling the IRS

Taxpayers and tax professionals who call the IRS will be asked to verify their identities. Being prepared before a call or visit can save taxpayers time by avoiding having to make multiple calls.

Before calling, taxpayers and tax professionals should instead consider using IRS.gov to access resources like the IRS Service Guide to get faster answers to their tax questions.

If a taxpayer decides to call, they should know that IRS phone assistors take great care to only discuss personal information with the taxpayer or someone the taxpayer authorizes to speak on their behalf. To make sure that taxpayers do not have to call back, the IRS reminds taxpayers to have the following information ready:

*Social Security numbers and birth dates for those who were named on the tax return.

*An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number letter if the taxpayer has one instead of an SSN.

*Their filing status: single, head of household, married filing joint or married filing separate.

*The prior-year tax return. Telephone assistors may need to verify taxpayer identity with information from the return before answering certain questions.

*A copy of the tax return in question.

*Any IRS letters or notices received by the taxpayer.

By law, IRS telephone assistors will only speak with the taxpayer or to the taxpayer’s legally designated representative.

If taxpayers or tax professionals are calling about someone else’s account, they should be prepared to verify their identities and provide information about the person they are representing. Before calling about a third-party, they should have the following information available:

*Verbal or written authorization from the third-party to discuss the account.

*The ability to verify the taxpayer’s name, SSN or ITIN, tax period, and tax forms filed.

*Preparer Tax Identification Number or PIN if a third-party designee.

One of these forms, which is current, completed and signed:

*Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization

*Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative

Questions regarding a deceased taxpayer require different steps. The caller should be prepared to fax:

*The deceased taxpayer’s death certificate.

*Either copies of Letters Testamentary approved by the court, or IRS Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship.

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Tax Time Guide

Most people affected by major tax reform changes 

WASHINGTON—With major tax law changes impacting every taxpayer, the Internal Revenue Service has developed a special electronic publication and other online resources designed to help people understand how tax reform affects them this year and the years ahead.

This news release is part of a series called the Tax Time Guide, a resource to help taxpayers file an accurate tax return. Additional help is available in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, and the tax reform information page.

Last fall, the IRS released an online publication, called Tax Reform: Basics for Individuals and Families. Available at IRS.gov/getready, Publication 5307 provides an overview of these and other key changes affecting tax returns:

Tax rates lowered. Starting in 2018, there are seven income tax brackets, ranging from 10 percent to 37 percent.

Standard deduction nearly doubled over last year. For 2018, the basic standard deduction is $12,000 for singles, $18,000 for heads of household and $24,000 for married couples filing a joint tax return. Higher amounts apply to people who are blind or filers who are at least age 65. The increased standard deduction, coupled with other changes, mean that more than half of those who itemized their deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes in tax year 2017 may instead take the higher standard deduction in 2018, according to IRS projections.

Various deductions limited or discontinued. For example, the state and local tax deduction is limited to $10,000, $5,000 if married and filing a separate return, and new limits apply to mortgage interest. In addition, the miscellaneous itemized deduction for job-related costs and certain other expenses is not available.

Child Tax Credit doubled, and more people now qualify. The maximum credit is now $2,000 for each qualifying child under age 17. In addition, the income limit for getting the full credit is $400,000 for joint filers and $200,000 for other taxpayers.

New credit for other dependents. A $500 credit is available for each dependent who does not qualify for the Child Tax Credit. This includes older children and qualifying relatives, such as a parent.

Personal and dependency exemptions suspended. This means that an exemption can no longer be claimed for a tax filer, spouse and dependents.

Another helpful resource is the newly-revised edition of Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, the agency’s s comprehensive tax guide for individual taxpayers. Besides providing further details on each of these changes, this publication is also packed with tax-filing information and tips on a wide variety of topics, ranging from what income needs to be reported and how to report it, to claiming dependents and using IRAs to save for retirement.

Publications 17 and 5307 are just two of many helpful resources available at no charge on IRS.gov. Among other things, people can find answers to their tax questions and ways to resolve tax issues online. The Let Us Help You page helps answer most questions, and the IRS Services Guide links to these and other IRS services. The IRS TaxMap can also be used to find answers to tax questions. IRS.gov/TaxMap searches Publication 17 and all other publications, instructions, and web pages on IRS.gov for content on the searched topic.

Taxpayers can find answers to questions, forms and instructions and easy-to-use tools online at IRS.gov. They can use these resources to get help when needed from the convenience of home or office.

More resources: FS-2019-2; Be Tax Ready—understanding tax reform changes affecting individuals and families.

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An IRS incentive to save for retirement


The Saver’s Credit—an overlooked tax credit made available by the IRS to eligible taxpayers—could make saving for retirement more affordable than many people realize.


(NAPS)—Tips for claiming the Saver’s Credit:

1. Check Your Eligibility

Depending on your filing status and income level, you may qualify for a nonrefundable credit of up to $1,000 (or $2,000 if filing jointly) on your federal income taxes for that year when you contribute to a 401(k), 403(b), 457(b) or similar retirement plan, or IRA.

To be eligible, the maximum Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) for single filers is $31,500 in 2018 and $32,000 in 2019. For the head of a household, the AGI maximum is $47,250 in 2018 and $48,000 in 2019. For those who are married and file a joint return, the AGI maximum is $63,000 in 2018 and $64,000 in 2019.

You must be 18 years or older by January 1 and cannot be a full-time student or be claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return. 

2. Save for Retirement

Save for retirement in your employer’s retirement plan, if offered, or in an IRA. In general, for every dollar you contribute to a qualified retirement plan or IRA (up to the lesser of the limits permitted by an employer-sponsored plan or the IRS), you defer that amount from your current overall taxable income on your federal tax returns—and you may also qualify for the Saver’s Credit. After-tax contributions, such as those made to a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k), are also eligible for the credit. You have until April 15, 2019 to make a contribution to an IRA for tax year 2018.

3. File Your Tax Return and Claim the Credit

When you prepare your federal tax returns, you can claim your Saver’s Credit by subtracting this tax credit from your federal income taxes owed.

Workers who are eligible to claim the Saver’s Credit are also eligible to take advantage of the IRS Free File program for taxpayers with an AGI of $66,000 or less. Twelve commercial software companies make their tax preparation software available through the Free File program at www.irs.gov/FreeFile. 

• If you are using tax preparation software, use Form 1040 or Form 1040NR. If your software has an interview process, be sure to answer questions about the Saver’s Credit, also referred to as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit and/or Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions.

• If you are preparing your tax returns manually, complete Form 8880, the Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to determine your exact credit rate and amount. Then transfer the amount to Schedule 3 (Form 1040) or Form 1040NR.

• If you are using a professional tax preparer, be sure to ask about the Saver’s Credit.

• Consider having any refund you receive directly deposited to an IRA to further boost your retirement savings.

The 19th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey found that 62 percent of American workers are unaware that the Saver’s Credit exists. Don’t overlook this important tax credit; it may help you pay less in your current federal income taxes while saving for retirement. Spread the word—perhaps friends and family are eligible for this incentive but are unaware of it. 

For more details and resources on the Saver’s Credit in English and Spanish, visit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® at www.transamericacenter.org/saverscredit.

TCRS is a division of Transamerica Institute®, a nonprofit, private foundation. 

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Payment options for taxpayers who owe but can’t pay in full

WASHINGTON ― As the 2019 tax filing season gets into full swing, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers who owe of the many easy payment options.

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

“The IRS understands there were many changes that affected people last year, and the new penalty waiver will help taxpayers who inadvertently had too little tax withheld,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We encourage people to check their withholding again this year to make sure they have the right amount of tax withheld for 2019.”

The IRS urges people with a filing requirement and a balance due to file by the April 15 deadline even if they cannot pay in full. Taxpayers in this situation should pay what they can and consider a payment plan for the remaining balance.

Taxpayers who owe taxes can choose among the following payment options:

*IRS Direct Pay allows payment directly from a checking or savings account. This service is free.

*Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or EFTPS. Pay by phone or online. This service is free.

*Debit or credit card payment. This service is free, but the processing company may charge a fee. Fees vary by company.

*Check or money order made payable to the United States Treasury (or U.S. Treasury) either in person or through the mail.

*Cash payments at some IRS offices or at a participating PayNearMe location. Some restrictions apply. Taxpayers should not send cash through the mail.

Taxpayers who are unable to pay their taxes in full should act quickly. Several payment options are available including:

*Online Payment Agreement: Individuals who owe $50,000 or less in combined income tax, penalties and interest and businesses that owe $25,000 or less in payroll tax and have filed all tax returns may qualify for an Online Payment Agreement. Most taxpayers qualify for this option, and an agreement can usually be set up in a matter of minutes. Online applications to establish tax payment plans, like online payment agreements and installment agreements, are available Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.; Saturday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 6 p.m. to midnight. All times are Eastern time.

Installment Agreement: Installment agreements paid by direct deposit from a bank account or a payroll deduction will help taxpayers avoid default on their agreements. It also reduces the burden of mailing payments and saves postage costs. Even taxpayers who don’t qualify for a payment agreement may still pay by installment. Certain fees apply.

Delaying Collection: If the IRS determines a taxpayer is unable to pay, it may delay collection until the taxpayer’s financial condition improves.

Offer in Compromise: Certain taxpayers qualify to settle their tax bill for less than the amount they owe by submitting an offer in compromise. To help determine eligibility, use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool.

In addition, taxpayers can consider other options for payment, including getting a loan to pay the amount due. In many cases, loan costs may be lower than the combination of interest and penalties the IRS must charge under federal law.

Check tax withholding

The IRS urges all taxpayers to check their withholding for 2019, especially those who made withholding adjustments in 2018 or had a major life change. Those most at risk of having too little tax withheld from their pay include taxpayers who itemized in the past but now take the increased standard deduction as well as two-wage-earner households, employees with non-wage sources of income, and those with complex tax situations.

To help taxpayers allocate the appropriate withholding to their paychecks throughout the year in 2019, an updated version of the agency’s online Withholding Calculator is now available on IRS.gov. It’s never too early to check your withholding. While it’s a good idea any year, starting early in 2019 is particularly important as most tax filers adjust to the revised tax rates, deductions and credits.

Online tools

The IRS urges taxpayers to take advantage of the many tools and other resources available on IRS.gov. Taxpayers have a variety of options to get help filing and preparing their tax returns on IRS.gov, the official IRS website. Taxpayers can also find answers to their tax questions and resolve tax issues online. The Let Us Help You page answers most tax questions, and Publication 5136, IRS Services Guide, links to these and other IRS services.

Taxpayers can go to IRS.gov/account to securely access information about their federal tax account. They can view the amount they owe, pay online or set up an online payment agreement; access their tax records online; review the past 18 months of payment history; and view key tax return information for the current year as filed. Visit IRS.gov/secureaccess to review the required identity authentication process.

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IRS kicks off 2019 tax-filing season as tax agency reopens


Use IRS.gov to avoid phone delays

WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service successfully opened the 2019 tax-filing season today as the agency started accepting and processing federal tax returns for tax year 2018. Despite the major tax law changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the IRS was able to open this year’s tax-filing season one day earlier than the 2018 tax-filing season.

More than 150 million individual tax returns for the 2018 tax year are expected to be filed, with the vast majority of those coming before the April tax deadline. Through mid-day Monday, the IRS had already received several million tax returns during the busy opening hours.

“I am extremely proud of the entire IRS workforce. The dedicated IRS employees have worked tirelessly to successfully implement the biggest tax law changes in 30 years and launch tax season for the nation,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Although we face various near- and longer-term challenges, our employees are committed to doing everything we can to help taxpayers and get refunds out quickly.”

Following the government shutdown, the IRS is working to promptly resume normal operations.

“The IRS will be doing everything it can to have a smooth filing season,” Rettig said. “Taxpayers can minimize errors and speed refunds by using e-file and IRS Free File along with direct deposit.”

The IRS expects the first refunds to go out in the first week of February and many refunds to be paid by mid- to late February like previous years. The IRS reminds taxpayers to check “Where’s My Refund?” for updates. Demand on IRS phones during the early weeks of tax season is traditionally heavy, so taxpayers are encouraged to use IRS.gov to find answers before they call.

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IRS waives estimated tax penalty


The Internal Revenue Service announced earlier this month that it is waiving the estimated tax penalty for many taxpayers whose 2018 federal income tax withholding and estimated tax payments fell short of their total tax liability for the year. 

The IRS is generally waiving the penalty for any taxpayer who paid at least 85 percent of their total tax liability during the year through federal income tax withholding, quarterly estimated tax payments or a combination of the two. The usual percentage threshold is 90 percent to avoid a penalty. 

The waiver computation announced will be integrated into commercially-available tax software and reflected in the forthcoming revision of Form 2210 and instructions. 

This relief is designed to help taxpayers who were unable to properly adjust their withholding and estimated tax payments to reflect an array of changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the far-reaching tax reform law enacted in December 2017. 

“We realize there were many changes that affected people last year, and this penalty waiver will help taxpayers who inadvertently didn’t have enough tax withheld,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We urge people to check their withholding again this year to make sure they are having the right amount of tax withheld for 2019.” 

The updated federal tax withholding tables, released in early 2018, largely reflected the lower tax rates and the increased standard deduction brought about by the new law. This generally meant taxpayers had less tax withheld in 2018 and saw more in their paychecks. 

However, the withholding tables couldn’t fully factor in other changes, such as the suspension of dependency exemptions and reduced itemized deductions. As a result, some taxpayers could have paid too little tax during the year, if they did not submit a properly-revised W-4 withholding form to their employer or increase their estimated tax payments. The IRS and partner groups conducted an extensive outreach and education campaign throughout 2018 to encourage taxpayers to do a “Paycheck Checkup” to avoid a situation where they had too much or too little tax withheld when they file their tax returns. 

Although most 2018 tax filers are still expected to get refunds, some taxpayers will unexpectedly owe additional tax when they file their returns. 

Additional Information 

Because the U.S. tax system is pay-as-you-go, taxpayers are required, by law, to pay most of their tax obligation during the year, rather than at the end of the year. This can be done by either having tax withheld from paychecks or pension payments, or by making estimated tax payments. 

Usually, a penalty applies at tax filing if too little is paid during the year. Normally, the penalty would not apply for 2018 if tax payments during the year met one of the following tests: 

The person’s tax payments were at least 90 percent of the tax liability for 2018 or 

The person’s tax payments were at least 100 percent of the prior year’s tax liability, in this case from 2017. 

However, the 100 percent threshold is increased to 110 percent if a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income is more than $150,000, or $75,000 if married and filing a separate return. 

For waiver purposes only, today’s relief lowers the 90 percent threshold to 85 percent. This means that a taxpayer will not owe a penalty if they paid at least 85 percent of their total 2018 tax liability. If the taxpayer paid less than 85 percent, then they are not eligible for the waiver and the penalty will be calculated as it normally would be, using the 90 percent threshold. For further details, see Notice 2019-11, posted on IRS.gov. 

Like last year, the IRS urges everyone to check their withholding for 2019. This is especially important for anyone now facing an unexpected tax bill when they file. This is also an important step for those who made withholding adjustments in 2018 or had a major life change to ensure the right tax is still being withheld. Those most at risk of having too little tax withheld from their pay include taxpayers who itemized in the past but now take the increased standard deduction, as well as two-wage-earner households, employees with nonwage sources of income and those with complex tax situations. 

To help taxpayers get their withholding right in 2019, an updated version of the agency’s online Withholding Calculator is now available on IRS.gov. With tax season starting Jan. 28, the IRS reminds taxpayers it’s never too early to get ready for the tax-filing season ahead. While it’s a good idea any year, starting early in 2019 is particularly important as most tax filers adjust to the revised tax rates, deductions and credits. 

Although the IRS won’t begin processing 2018 returns until Jan. 28, software companies and tax professionals will be accepting and preparing returns before that date. Free File is also now available. 

The IRS also reminds taxpayers there are two useful resources for anyone interested in learning more about tax reform. They are Publication 5307, Tax Reform: Basics for Individuals and Families, and Publication 5318, Tax 

Reform What’s New for Your Business. For other tips and resources, visit IRS.gov/taxreform or check out the Get Ready page on IRS.gov. 

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IRS confirms tax filing season to begin January 28


IR-2019-01, January 7, 2019

WASHINGTON — Despite the government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service has confirmed that it will process tax returns beginning January 28, 2019 and provide refunds to taxpayers as scheduled.

“We are committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive their refunds notwithstanding the government shutdown. I appreciate the hard work of the employees and their commitment to the taxpayers during this period,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.

Congress directed the payment of all tax refunds through a permanent, indefinite appropriation (31 U.S.C. 1324), and the IRS has consistently been of the view that it has authority to pay refunds despite a lapse in annual appropriations. Although in 2011 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed the IRS not to pay refunds during a lapse, OMB has reviewed the relevant law at Treasury’s request and concluded that IRS may pay tax refunds during a lapse.

The IRS will be recalling a significant portion of its workforce, currently furloughed as part of the government shutdown, to work. Additional details for the IRS filing season will be included in an updated FY2019 Lapsed Appropriations Contingency Plan to be released publicly in the coming days.

“IRS employees have been hard at work over the past year to implement the biggest tax law changes the nation has seen in more than 30 years,” said Rettig.

As in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing individual tax returns once the filing season begins. For taxpayers who usually file early in the year and have all of the needed documentation, there is no need to wait to file. They should file when they are ready to submit a complete and accurate tax return.

The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2019 for most taxpayers. Because of the Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15 in Maine and Massachusetts and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16 in the District of Columbia, taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17, 2019 to file their returns.

Software companies and tax professionals will be accepting and preparing tax returns before Jan. 28 and then will submit the returns when the IRS systems open later this month. The IRS strongly encourages people to file their tax returns electronically to minimize errors and for faster refunds.

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Protect your tax return, be smart when searching for a tax preparer

From the BBB of Western Michigan


The new year brings with it the start of tax season. Even with the government shutdown, the IRS says it will begin processing returns on January 28th. Of course, the filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2019. Even with the convenience of tax return software, more than half of returns submitted to the IRS last year were prepared by someone other than the taxpayer. 

“This is the time of year we see an increase in tax fraud targeting consumers,” says Phil Catlett, President of the Better Business Bureau serving Western Michigan. “Taxpayers could lose a lot of money if they are not careful about who they hire to do their taxes.” With this in mind, it is important to take steps to ensure your returns are accurate and secure.

Find the right tax preparer

Do your research. Before hiring someone, check their background and reputation. Research the preparer online and at bbb.org. Meet with them and make sure you are comfortable with the person doing your taxes.

Ask about their fees ahead of time. Know how much they charge for their services before hiring them. This includes any fees for e-Filing State, Federal and Local returns.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of tax services who make a promise of a big refund, or asks for a percentage of your return for a fee.

Where are they after April 15th? Always be sure to ask the tax service how you can contact them after tax season ends, especially if they are at a temporary location. 

Be prepared.When it is time to prepare your return make sure you have all of your tax forms and receipts ready. For more information visit irs.gov or michigan.gov/taxes

Read before you sign. Go over your return thoroughly before submitting it to the government. Read each page and never sign a blank return. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand or any numbers that don’t make sense. In most cases the preparer must also sign the return. Remember, you are responsible for the accuracy of your return.

Do your taxes early. One common fraud during tax season involves identity theft. Scammers try to submit a return in your name and have your refund come to them. You can avoid this by beating them too it, and submitting your tax return early.

Use direct deposit. Waiting for a check in the mail can be frustrating. The fastest way to receive your tax refund is by attaching your bank account and routing information to your return. Be sure to double check for mistakes, including banking and routing numbers. Mistakes will delay your refund. 

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Common Errors to Avoid when Filing a Tax Return

 

To ensure they meet their tax obligations, taxpayers should file accurate tax returns. If a taxpayer makes an error on their tax return, it will likely take longer to process and could delay a refund. Taxpayers can avoid many common errors by filing electronically, the most accurate way to file a tax return. All taxpayers can use IRS Free File.

Here are common errors to avoid when preparing a tax return:

  • Missing or inaccurate Social Security Numbers. Be sure to enter each SSN on a tax return exactly as printed on the Social Security card.
  • Misspelled names. Spell all names listed on a tax return exactly as listed on the taxpayers’ Social Security cards.
  • Filing status.  Some taxpayers claim the wrong filing status, such as Head of Household instead of Single. The Interactive Tax Assistant on IRS.gov can help taxpayers choose the correct status. E-file software also helps prevent mistakes.
  • Math mistakes.  Math errors are common, ranging from simple addition and subtraction to more complex items. Figuring the taxable portion of a pension, IRA distribution or Social Security benefits is more difficult and results in more errors. Taxpayers should always double check their math. Better yet, tax preparation software does it automatically.
  • Figuring credits or deductions. Taxpayers can make mistakes figuring their Earned Income Tax Credit, Child and Dependent Care Credit, the standard deduction and other items. Follow the instructions carefully. For example, a taxpayer who’s 65 or older, or blind, should claim the correct, higher standard deduction, if not itemizing. The IRS Interactive Tax Assistant can help determine if a taxpayer is eligible for tax credits or deductions.
  • Incorrect bank account numbers. Taxpayers who are due a refund should choose direct deposit for ease and convenience, but the IRS cautions taxpayers to use the right routing and account numbers on the tax return.
  • Unsigned forms. An unsigned tax return isn’t valid. Both spouses must sign a joint return. Taxpayers can avoid this error by filing their return electronically and digitally signing it before sending it to the IRS. Taxpayers who are using a tax software product for the first time will need their adjusted gross income from their 2016 tax return to file electronically. Taxpayers who are using the same tax software they used last year usually will not need to enter prior-year information to electronically sign their 2017 tax return. 
  • Filing with an expired ITIN. The IRS will process and treat as timely a return filed with an expired Individual Tax Identification Number, but won’t allow any exemptions or credits. Taxpayers will receive a notice explaining that an ITIN must be current before the IRS will pay a refund. Once the taxpayer renews the ITIN, the IRS will process exemptions and credits and pay an allowed refund. ITIN expiration and renewal information is available on IRS.gov.

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