Last-Minute Filers: Avoid Common Errors

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IR-2013-40, April 11, 2013

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers to review their tax returns for common errors that could delay the processing of their returns. Here are some ways to avoid common mistakes.

File electronically. Filing electronically, whether through e-file or IRS Free File, vastly reduces tax return errors, as the tax software does the calculations, flags common errors and prompts taxpayers for missing information. And best of all, there is a free option for everyone.

Mail a paper return to the right address. Paper filers should check the appropriate address where to file in IRS.gov or their form instructions to avoid processing delays.

Take a close look at the tax tables. When figuring tax using the tax tables, taxpayers should be sure to use the correct column for the filing status claimed.

Fill in all requested information clearly. When entering information on the tax return, including Social Security numbers, take the time to be sure it is correct and easy to read. Also, check only one filing status and the appropriate exemption boxes.

Review all figures. While software catches and prevents many errors on e-file returns, math errors remain common on paper returns.

Get the right routing and account numbers. Requesting direct deposit of a federal refund into one, two or even three accounts is convenient and allows the taxpayer access to his or her money faster. Make sure the financial institution routing and account numbers entered on the return are accurate. Incorrect numbers can cause a refund to be delayed or deposited into the wrong account.

Sign and date the return. If filing a joint return, both spouses must sign and date the return. E-filers can sign using a self-selected personal identification number (PIN).

Attach all required forms. Paper filers need to attach W-2s and other forms that reflect tax withholding, to the front of their returns. If requesting a payment agreement with the IRS, also attachForm 9465 to the front of the return. Attach all other necessary schedules and forms in sequence number order shown in the upper right-hand corner.

Keep a copy of the return. Once ready to be filed, taxpayers should make a copy of their signed return and all schedules for their records.

Request a Filing Extension. For taxpayers who cannot meet the April 15 deadline, requesting a filing extension is easy and will prevent late filing penalties. Either use Free File or Form 4868. But keep in mind that while an extension grants additional time to file, tax payments are still due April 15.

Owe tax? If so, a number of e-payment options are available. Or send a check or money order payable to the “United States Treasury.”

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

Issue Number:    IRS Tax Tip 2013-53

If you find you owe tax after completing your federal tax return but can’t pay it all when you file, the IRS wants you to know your options.

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

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

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

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

    • Use the Online Payment Agreement tool at IRS.gov, or
    • Complete and submit Form 9465, Installment Agreement

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

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

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

IR-2013-31, March 20, 2013

WASHINGTON —The Internal Revenue Service today provided late-payment penalty relief to individuals and businesses requesting a tax-filing extension because they are attaching to their returns any of the forms that couldn’t be filed until after January.

The relief applies to the late-payment penalty, normally 0.5 percent per month, charged on tax payments made after the regular filing deadline. This relief applies to any of the forms delayed until February or March, primarily due to the January enactment of the American Taxpayer Relief Act.

Taxpayers using forms claiming such tax benefits as depreciation deductions and a variety of business credits qualify for this relief. A complete list of eligible forms can be found in Notice 2013-24, posted today on IRS.gov.

Individuals and businesses qualify for this relief if they properly request an extension to file their 2012 returns. Eligible taxpayers need not make any special notation on their extension request, but as usual, they must properly estimate their expected tax liability and pay the estimated amount by the original due date of the return.

The return must be filed and payment for any additional amount due must be made by the extended due date. Interest still applies to any tax payment made after the original deadline.

Further details on this relief, including instructions for responding to penalty notices, is available in Notice 2013-24.

Tax Statements You Need to File

By Kay Bell | Bankrate.com – Fri, Jan 18, 2013 12:17 PM EST

Statements are on the way from employers, banks, stockbrokers and other institutions and agencies that were involved in taxpayers’ financial lives last year. Each of these groups has, by law, until Jan. 31 (or the next business day when that date falls on a holiday or a weekend) to get their annual tax statements in the mail to you.

Many taxpayers now receive these documents electronically. So be sure to double-check your email, not just the curbside mailbox, for these statements.

Common income, deduction statements

Most taxpayers depend on the same basic data to file returns. If you work for someone else, the Internal Revenue Service expects you, and the agency, to get a statement detailing that income. The data are slightly different, depending on whether you get paid a salary or do contract work, but there’s a form for either case.

W-2 – This is the key form, and you need one from each employer you worked for during the past year. Your W-2 shows how much money you made, how much income tax was withheld, Social Security and Medicare taxes paid, and any benefit contributions — retirement plans, medical accounts and child care reimbursement plans.

1098 – For most homeowners, mortgage interest is tax-deductible, and this document will tell you how much you paid last year. Your lender is required to send you one of these forms if you paid at least $600 interest. Actually, your mortgage company probably won’t send you an official IRS form, but a document of its own design that contains the same data. In addition to the mortgage interest, other information often found on this statement includes amounts paid toward points to get the loan and escrow disbursements for real estate taxes (also deductible) and property insurance (not deductible).

1098-E – Are you paying back a student loan? The interest on your educational debt is reported on this form; your lender must send you one if the interest tally is at least $600. You may be able to deduct your student loan interest and possibly other loan-related amounts, such as origination fees and capitalized interest. To figure the deductible portion of the interest amount found here, use the work sheet in your Form 1040 or Form 1040A instructions.

1099-INT – If you earned more than $10 in interest on a bank account or a certificate of deposit, you’ll get one of these forms for each account. Don’t dismiss this statement if you reinvested the interest. Tax law says you received the income even if you didn’t actually have it in your hand, and reinvested earnings are still taxable income. 1099-INT statements also are issued to people who cashed in savings bonds.

1099-DIV – Earnings from individual stocks and mutual funds are reported on Form 1099-DIV. This will show dividends and capital gains distributed over $10. As with reinvested interest, if you used the dividends or distributions to buy additional shares of the stock or mutual fund, you still have to pay taxes. However, the distributions and certain, qualified dividends are taxed at the lower capital gains rates.

1099-B – If you sold stocks, bonds or mutual funds, you will receive a 1099-B from your broker or mutual fund company. This will tell you the number of shares sold, when they sold and the amount you got for the sale. You’ll need this information, along with the date you bought the shares and the amount you paid for them, to figure your taxes. Beginning with 2011 statements, brokers will begin providing information on the basis (the cost of an asset plus some adjustments) of sold stock.

1099-G – Taxpayers who got a refund of state or local taxes last year will get this form. If you used those taxes as a deduction on your previous year’s federal income tax return, you’ll need to report the 1099-G amount on this year’s return. You don’t have to worry about reporting this refund as income, however, if you took the standard federal deduction instead of itemizing.

1099-K – If you received payments via credit or debit cards or from third-party payment processors, such as PayPal, Amazon and eBay, you might receive a 1099-K reporting those amounts. There are triggers for amounts ($20,000) and transactions ($200), so not every person who receives such payments will get a 1099-K. This income, however, is taxable and should be reported even without issuance of a 1099-K. The new statement is an attempt to get more information on such payments to the Internal Revenue Service.

1099-R – If you received a pension or a distribution from an individual retirement account or retirement plan, the 1099-R provides the details of these transactions. The form is issued by your broker, pension plan manager or mutual fund company. You’ll also get a 1099-R if you rolled over money in a retirement plan, usually a 401(k) to an IRA, or if you converted a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. A rollover usually is not a taxable event, but a pension payout may be.

1099-MISC – Self-employed individuals who earned $600 or more should get a 1099-MISC from the employer. You should get a separate 1099-MISC for each independent job you had during the previous tax year.

Late-arriving forms

There are a couple of statements you might need for your tax records, but because of the intricacies of the financial arrangements they cover, the documents do not always arrive before the April filing deadline. But if you get an extension to file, you shouldn’t have any issues.

Form 5498 – Any contributions made during the calendar year to any individual retirement accounts are reported on this form. The 5498 shows traditional IRA contributions that might be deductible on your tax return, as well as any rollovers, including a direct rollover to a traditional IRA, made during the last tax year. It also reports amounts recharacterized from one type of IRA to another. It notes any amounts converted from a traditional IRA, simplified employee pension or savings incentive match plan for employees to a Roth IRA.

Form 5498-ESA – Contributions to Coverdell education savings accounts, formerly known as Education IRAs, previously were reported on Form 5498, but these plans now are tracked on this statement. The youngster named as account beneficiary should get a copy of this document by April 30.

Schedule K-1 – Finally, if you received money from an estate, trust, partnership or S corporation last year, you should get a Schedule K-1. However, because of the complexity of many of these arrangements, account managers tend to send out K-1s later in the tax season — sometimes not until after the April filing deadline.

Because you do need to know this amount of K-1 income to file your return, taxpayers who get K-1s tend to file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File, to get six more months to get all their tax statements in hand.

Can’t make today’s deadline? File an extension.

Are you unable to complete and file your federal individual tax return by the April 17th deadline? If so, you can request an extension of time to file, which will automatically give you until Oct. 15, 2012, to submit your tax return to the Internal Revenue Service.

An extension gives you an additional six months to file your tax return. But keep in mind that an extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. All outstanding balances are due on April 17, 2012.

Numerous Ways to Get an Extension

In order to get an extension, you need to file Form 4868 with the IRS.

Taxpayers can electronically file Form 4868 through IRS Free File or Free File Fillable Forms. Using Free File to prepare and electronically submit Form 4868 is free to everyone, regardless of income.

Paid preparers can also electronically file Form 4868 as can tax software that you run on your computer.

Finally, a paper version of Form 4868 is available for download from IRS.gov. However, the IRS will only provide an acknowledgement of your extension request if you e-file or Free File the request.

When you request an extension, you need to estimate your tax liability and pay any balance due bu the April 17th deadline. If you are unable to pay the total balance due, you should pay as much as possible and apply for an installment agreement.