WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded small businesses that recent tax reform legislation lowered the backup withholding tax rate to 24 percent and the withholding rate that usually applies to bonuses and other supplemental wages to 22 percent. The agency also urged employers to encourage their employees to check their withholding using the IRS Withholding Calculator. [Read more…]
Taxpayers can get faster tax refunds with Direct Deposit
WASHINGTON — With the tax deadline nearly here, the Internal Revenue Service encourages all taxpayers to join the 80 percent of filers who choose Direct Deposit to get their tax refund faster.
Direct Deposit into a bank or other account is a secure option. It avoids the possibility of lost, stolen or undeliverable refund checks. The IRS uses the same system to deposit tax refunds that Social Security and Veterans Affairs use to deposit 98 percent of benefits into millions of accounts.
Choosing Direct Deposit is easy when electronically filing. A taxpayer – or their tax preparer – simply selects it as the refund method in their tax software and enters account and routing numbers. Paper filers should follow the instructions on their tax form. With either method, double check entries to avoid errors.
Direct Deposit also saves taxpayer money. It costs the IRS more than $1 to issue a paper refund check, but only a dime for each direct deposit.
E-file plus Direct Deposit yields fastest refunds
The IRS urges taxpayers to file electronically. While a person can choose Direct Deposit no matter how they file, e-filers will typically see their refund in fewer than 21 days.
Taxpayers can use IRS Free File or commercially available tax software to electronically file. E-filing vastly reduces tax return mistakes, as the tax software does the calculations, flags common errors and prompts taxpayers for missing information. The tax software also reflects tax law changes, such as those from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, so taxpayers don’t need to know all the details to make sure they’re getting their taxes done right.
A taxpayer can deposit their full tax refund into one account or split the refund into two or three financial accounts, including a bank or Individual Retirement Account. Part of the refund can even be used to purchase up to $5,000 in U.S. Series I Savings Bonds.
When filing electronically, a taxpayer can split their refund by using the process outlined in the tax software. Those filing a paper return split a refund by using IRS Form 8888, Allocation of Refund (including Savings Bond Purchases).
The IRS reminds taxpayers they should only deposit tax refunds directly into accounts that are in their name, their spouse’s name or both if it’s a joint account. No more than three electronic tax refunds can be deposited into a single financial account or prepaid debit card. Taxpayers who exceed the limit will receive an IRS notice.
Tracking a tax refund
Taxpayers can track their refund using “Where’s My Refund?” It’s available on IRS.gov or by downloading the IRS2Go mobile app. “Where’s My Refund?” is updated once daily, usually overnight, so there’s no reason to check more than once per day. The “Where’s My Refund?” tool has the same status information as IRS phone staff. Taxpayers can check “Where’s My Refund?” within 24 hours after the IRS has received their e-filed return. Paper filers can check four weeks after they mailed their paper return. “Where’s My Refund?” has a tracker that displays progress through three stages: (1) Return Received, (2) Refund Approved, and (3) Refund Sent.
Other last-minute tips from IRS
Extensions. April 15, 2019, is the deadline for most to pay taxes owed and avoid penalty and interest charges. 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 to file their tax returns and pay any taxes they owe.
If a taxpayer needs more time to file, they can avoid a late-filing penalty by requesting an extension of time to file. An extension of time to file is not an extension to pay. Taxpayers can file up to six months later when they have an extension, but their tax payment is still due by the original due date.
There are several ways to get an extension:
- Use the Free File link on IRS.gov.
- File Form 4868, Application for Extension of Time To File U.S. Income Tax Return, electronically or by mail.
- Make an electronic payment and designate it as an extension payment. Taxpayers can get an automatic extension of time to file when making a full or partial payment with Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or by debit or credit card. When paying electronically, taxpayers must select Form 4868 as the payment type and choose the payment date to get the automatic extension. With this method, there’s no need to file a paper or electronic Form 4868. However, taxpayers should keep the confirmation as proof of the payment and extension. With Direct Pay and EFTPS, taxpayers can request email notifications about their payment.
Payment options. Taxpayers who owe taxes can use IRS Direct Pay or any of several other electronic payment options. They are secure and easy and taxpayers receive immediate confirmation of their payment. Or, taxpayers can mail a check or money order payable to the “United States Treasury” along with a Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher. Taxpayers who can’t pay by the tax deadline often qualify to set up a monthly payment agreement with the IRS using the Online Payment Agreement option on IRS.gov.
Paycheck Checkup. The IRS encourages taxpayers to do a Paycheck Checkup to review their tax withholding. They can use the IRS Withholding Calculator and should make any needed adjustments early in 2019. Doing a Paycheck Checkup can help taxpayers avoid having too little or too much tax withheld from their paychecks. Taxpayers can generally control the size of their refund by adjusting their tax withholding.
For 2019, a Paycheck Checkup is especially important for taxpayers who adjusted their withholdings in 2018 – specifically in the middle or later parts of the year. It’s also important for taxpayers who owed additional tax when they filed this year or those who want to adjust the size of their refund for next year. When using the calculator, it’s helpful for taxpayers to have their completed 2018 tax return available. For details see Tax withholding: How to get it right.
Beware of scams. Watch out for email schemes.Taxpayers will only receive an email from Direct Pay or EFTPS if they’ve opted in for email notifications when they use Direct Pay or EFTPS. Taxpayers who get an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS or an IRS-related function should report it to email@example.com.
For further help and resources, check out the IRS Services Guide.
- Frequently Asked Questions about Splitting Federal Income Tax Refunds
- Frequently Asked Questions about buying U.S. Series I Savings Bonds with your refund
- Frequently Asked Questions about Estimated Taxes for Individuals
- Frequently Asked Questions about the Withholding Calculator
- Frequently Asked Questions about Withholding Tables
With the filing deadline close, here’s why taxpayers should e-File
A few taxpayers still use the old-school method of filing their tax returns: on paper. For these people, now is the time to consider filing electronically. With the April tax deadline right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to use IRS e-File.
Here are the top six reasons why taxpayers should file electronically in 2019:
It’s accurate and easy. E-File helps taxpayers avoid mistakes, such as a transposed Social Security number. Taxpayers who e-File receive an acknowledgement from the IRS within minutes, telling them their return has been accepted. If a return is rejected, the acknowledgement will detail why the IRS rejected the tax return.
E-file meets strict security guidelines. It uses modern encryption technology to protect tax returns. The IRS continues to work with states and tax industry leaders to protect tax returns from tax-related identity theft. This effort has helped put strong safeguards in place to make electronic tax filing a safe and secure option.
It means faster refunds. When taxpayers e-File and use direct deposit for their refund, they can get their money in less than 21 days in most cases. On the other hand, if they mail a paper tax return to the IRS and request a refund check in the mail, it can take up to six weeks. Also, since e-Filed returns are generally more accurate, there probably won’t be additional delays. They delays can be caused when the IRS finds mistakes that must be fixed before the IRS can send a refund.
It’s often free. Most taxpayers can e-file for free through IRS Free File. Free File is only available on IRS.gov. Some taxpayers may also qualify to have their taxes e-filed for free through IRS volunteer programs. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance offers free tax preparation to people who generally earned $55,000 or less. Tax Counseling for the Elderly generally helps people who are age 60 or older.
It can be used whether a taxpayer is getting a refund or needs to make a payment. Taxpayers who owe taxes can e-File early and set up an automatic payment on any day until the April deadline. They can pay electronically from their bank account with IRS Direct Pay. Taxpayers can visit IRS.gov for information on other payment options.
IRS urges businesses to e-file cash transaction reports; It’s fast, easy and free
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today urged businesses required to file reports of large cash transactions to take advantage of the speed and convenience of filing these reports electronically.
Although businesses have the option of filing Form 8300, Report of Cash Payments Over $10,000, on paper, many have already found that e-filing is a faster, more convenient and cost-effective way to meet the reporting deadline. The form is due 15 days after a transaction and there’s no charge for the e-file option.
Electronically filing Form 8300 is a secure way for businesses to send sensitive information to the IRS. Although many cash transactions are legitimate, information reported on this form can help stop those who evade taxes, profit from the drug trade and engage in terrorist financing and other criminal activities. The government can often trace money from these illegal activities through the payments reported on this and other cash reporting forms.
Businesses that file Form 8300 electronically get free, automatic acknowledgment of receipt when they file. In addition, electronic filing is more accurate, reducing the need for follow-up correspondence with the IRS.
To file Form 8300 electronically, a business must set up an account with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s BSA E-Filing System. For more information, interested businesses can call the BSA E-Filing Help Desk at 866-346-9478 or email them at BSAEFilingHelp@fincen.gov. The help desk is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time.
For more informationabout the reporting requirement, see FS-2019-1, available on IRS.gov. Among other things, the fact sheet includes reporting scenarios for specific businesses, such as automobile dealerships, taxi companies, landlords, colleges and universities, homebuilders and bail-bonding agents. It also lists other resources on IRS.gov related to reporting cash transactions of more than $10,000.
Ten things for taxpayers to think about when choosing a tax preparer
It’s the time of the year when many taxpayers choose a tax preparer to help file a tax return. These taxpayers should choose their tax return preparer wisely. This is because taxpayers are responsible for all the information on their income tax return. That’s true no matter who prepares the return.
Here are ten tips for taxpayers to remember when selecting a preparer:
- Check the Preparer’s Qualifications. People can use the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. This tool helps taxpayers find a tax return preparer with specific qualifications. The directory is a searchable and sortable listing of preparers.
- Check the Preparer’s History. Taxpayers can ask the Better Business Bureau about the preparer. Check for disciplinary actions and the license status for credentialed preparers. For CPAs, people can check with the State Board of Accountancy. For attorneys, they can check with the State Bar Association. For Enrolled Agents, taxpayers can go to the verify enrolled agent status page on IRS.gov or check the directory.
- Ask about Service Fees. People should avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of the refund or who boast bigger refunds than their competition. When asking about a preparer’s services and fees, don’t give them tax documents, Social Security numbers or other information.
- Ask to E-File. Taxpayers should make sure their preparer offers IRS e-file. The quickest way for taxpayers to get their refund is to electronically file their federal tax return and use direct deposit.
- Make Sure the Preparer is Available. Taxpayers may want to contact their preparer after this year’s April 15 due date. People should avoid fly-by-night preparers.
- Provide Records and Receipts. Good preparers will ask to see a taxpayer’s records and receipts. They’ll ask questions to figure things like the total income, tax deductions and credits.
- Never Sign a Blank Return. Taxpayers should not use a tax preparer who asks them to sign a blank tax form.
- Review Before Signing. Before signing a tax return, the taxpayer should review it. They should ask questions if something is not clear. Taxpayers should feel comfortable with the accuracy of their return before they sign it. They should also make sure that their refund goes directly to them – not to the preparer’s bank account. The taxpayer should review the routing and bank account number on the completed return. The preparer should give you a copy of the completed tax return.
- Ensure the Preparer Signs and Includes Their PTIN. All paid tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. By law, paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN.
- Report Abusive Tax Preparers to the IRS. Most tax return preparers are honest and provide great service to their clients. However, some preparers are dishonest. People can report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If a taxpayer suspects a tax preparer filed or changed their return without the taxpayer’s consent, they should file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit.
The best way for taxpayers to check the status of their refund is to use the Where’s My Refund? tool on IRS.gov. This tool gives taxpayers access to their tax return and refund status anytime. All they need is internet access and three pieces of information:
- Their Social Security number
- Their filing status
- The exact whole dollar amount of their refund
Taxpayers can start checking on the status of their return within 24 hours after the IRS received their e-filed return, or four weeks after they mail a paper return. Where’s My Refund? includes a tracker that displays progress through three stages: the IRS receives the tax return, then approves the refund, and sends the refund.
Where’s My Refund? Updates once a day, so taxpayers don’t need to check more often.
Generally, the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, but some may take longer. IRS phone and walk-in representatives can research the status of refunds only if it’s been 21 days or more since a taxpayer filed electronically, or more than six weeks since they mailed a paper return. Taxpayers can also contact the IRS if Where’s My Refund? directs them to do so.
Understanding Tax Return Preparer Credentials and Qualifications
Tax Topic 254 – How to Choose a Tax Return Preparer
Choosing a Tax Professional
Filing for Individuals
e-File Options for Individuals
Paying Your Taxes
What to Expect for Refunds in 2019
Tax Reform: Basics for Individuals and Families
As people prepare to file their taxes, there are things to consider. They will want to determine if they need to file and the best way to do so.
For tax year 2018, all individual taxpayers will file using the new Form 1040. Forms 1040A and 1040EZ are no longer available. Taxpayers who previously filed these forms will now file Form 1040. The new Form 1040 uses a “building block” approach allowing individuals to add only the schedules they need to their 2018 federal tax return. Taxpayers with more complicated returns will need to complete one or more of the new Form 1040 Schedules. This group of taxpayers includes those who claim certain deductions or credits, or who owe additional taxes.
Individuals who filed their federal tax return electronically last year may not notice any changes, as the tax return preparation software will automatically use their answers to the tax questions to complete the Form 1040 and any needed schedules.
Here are three more things for people to keep in mind as they prepare to file their taxes:
Who is required to file. In most cases, income, filing status and age determine if a taxpayer must file a tax return. Other rules may apply if the taxpayer is self-employed or if they are a dependent of another person. For example, if a taxpayer is single and younger than age 65, they must file if their income was at least $12,000. There are other instances when a taxpayer must file. Taxpayers can visit IRS.gov/filing for more information.
Filing to get a refund. Even if a taxpayer doesn’t have to file, they should consider filing a tax return if they can get money back. If a taxpayer answers “yes” to any of these questions, they could be due a refund:
- Did my employer withhold federal income tax from my pay?
- Did I make estimated tax payments?
- Did I overpay on my 2017 tax return and have it applied to 2018?
- Am I eligible for certain refundable credits such as, the earned income tax credit
Taxpayers can file for free. Join the millions of Americans who safely file their taxes and save money using IRS Free File. Seventy percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. The IRS’s commercial partners offer free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $66,000 or less. Taxpayers who earned more can use Free File Fillable Forms. This option allows taxpayers to complete IRS forms electronically. It is best for those who are comfortable doing their own taxes.
Taxpayers can also use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on IRS.gov to answer many tax questions.. They should look for “Do I need to file a return?” under general topics.
All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their adjusted gross income 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.
2018 Tax Filing Season Begins Jan. 29, Tax Returns Due April 17; Help Available for Taxpayers
The Internal Revenue Service announced today that the nation’s tax season will begin Monday, Jan. 29, 2018 and reminded taxpayers claiming certain tax credits that refunds won’t be available before late February.
The IRS will begin accepting tax returns on Jan. 29, with nearly 155 million individual tax returns expected to be filed in 2018. The nation’s tax deadline will be April 17 this year – so taxpayers will have two additional days to file beyond April 15.
Many software companies and tax professionals will be accepting tax returns before Jan. 29 and then will submit the returns when IRS systems open. Although the IRS will begin accepting both electronic and paper tax returns Jan. 29, paper returns will begin processing later in mid-February as system updates continue. The IRS strongly encourages people to file their tax returns electronically for faster refunds.
The IRS set the Jan. 29 opening date to ensure the security and readiness of key tax processing systems in advance of the opening and to assess the potential impact of tax legislation on 2017 tax returns.
The IRS reminds taxpayers that, by law, the IRS cannot issue refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. While the IRS will process those returns when received, it cannot issue related refunds before mid-February. The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting on Feb. 27, 2018, if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return.
The IRS also reminds taxpayers that they should keep copies of their prior-year tax returns for at least three years. 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 will not need to enter prior-year information to electronically sign their 2017 tax return. Using an electronic filing PIN is no longer an option. Taxpayers can visit IRS.gov/GetReady for more tips on preparing to file their 2017 tax return.
April 17 Filing Deadline
The filing deadline to submit 2017 tax returns is Tuesday, April 17, 2018, rather than the traditional April 15 date. In 2018, April 15 falls on a Sunday, and this would usually move the filing deadline to the following Monday – April 16. However, Emancipation Day – a legal holiday in the District of Columbia – will be observed on that Monday, which pushes the nation’s filing deadline to Tuesday, April 17, 2018. Under the tax law, legal holidays in the District of Columbia affect the filing deadline across the nation.
The IRS also has been working with the tax industry and state revenue departments as part of the Security Summit initiative to continue strengthening processing systems to protect taxpayers from identity theft and refund fraud. The IRS and Summit partners continued to improve these safeguards to further protect taxpayers filing in 2018.
Refunds in 2018
Choosing e-file and direct deposit for refunds remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund. The IRS expects more than four out of five tax returns will be prepared electronically using tax software.
The IRS still anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, but there are some important factors to keep in mind for taxpayers.
By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds on tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit before mid-February. This applies to the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC.
IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting on Feb. 27, 2018, if those taxpayers chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return. This additional period is due to several factors, including banking and financial systems needing time to process deposits.
After refunds leave the IRS, it takes additional time for them to be processed and for financial institutions to accept and deposit the refunds to bank accounts and products. The IRS reminds taxpayers many financial institutions do not process payments on weekends or holidays, which can affect when refunds reach taxpayers. For EITC and ACTC filers, the three-day holiday weekend involving Presidents’ Day may affect their refund timing.
The Where’s My Refund? tool on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go phone app will be updated with projected deposit dates for early EITC and ACTC refund filers in late February, so those filers will not see a refund date on Where’s My Refund? or through their software packages until then. The IRS, tax preparers and tax software will not have additional information on refund dates, so Where’s My Refund? remains the best way to check the status of a refund.
IRS Offers Help for Taxpayers
The IRS reminds taxpayers they have a variety of options to get help filing and preparing their tax return on IRS.gov, the official IRS website. Taxpayers can find answers to their tax questions and resolve tax issues online. The Let Us Help You page helps answer most tax questions, and the 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.
In addition, 70 percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. Commercial partners of the IRS offer free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $66,000 or less.
The online fillable forms provide electronic versions of IRS paper forms to all taxpayers regardless of income that can be prepared and filed by people comfortable with completing their own returns.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offer free tax help to people who qualify. Go to IRS.gov and enter “free tax prep” in the search box to learn more and find a nearby VITA or TCE site, or download the IRS2Go smartphone app to find a free tax prep provider. If eligible, taxpayers can also locate help from a community volunteer. Go to IRS.gov and click on the Filing tab for more information.
The IRS also reminds taxpayers that a trusted tax professional can provide helpful information and advice. Tips for choosing a return preparer and details about national tax professional groups are available on IRS.gov.
When Can I file my taxes for 2018
Tax filings can begin January 28, 2019 even with a partial government shutdown.
WASHINGTON ― Despite the government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service today confirmed that it will process tax returns beginning January 28, 2019 and provide refunds to taxpayers as scheduled.
****2019 Important Tax Deadlines****
The New Tax Laws and YOU!
The recently passed overhaul of the U.S. tax code is already affecting the way many companies do business and how that relates to individual tax payers.
People who have studied the new law—which goes into effect starting with the 2018 tax year—say that most of us will pay less in taxes in the next few years, thanks to lower tax rates and higher standard deductions.
But the loss of some prized tax breaks and new caps on others like state and local taxes could result in higher tax bills in April 2019 for some older taxpayers, particularly those living in states with high tax rates. And over time, some of the benefits of the new tax bill will fade away; experts project that a majority of taxpayers will pay more within 10 years.
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IRS confirms tax filing season to begin January 28
WASHINGTON ― Despite the government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service today 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.