Archive 2020

Treasury and IRS begin delivering second round of Economic Impact Payments to millions of Americans

Treasury and IRS begin delivering second round of Economic Impact Payments to millions of Americans

WASHINGTON – Today, the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department will begin delivering a second round of Economic Impact Payments as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 to millions of Americans who received the first round of payments earlier this year.

The initial direct deposit payments may begin arriving as early as tonight for some and will continue into next week. Paper checks will begin to be mailed tomorrow, Wednesday, Dec. 30.

The IRS emphasizes that there is no action required by eligible individuals to receive this second payment. Some Americans may see the direct deposit payments as pending or as provisional payments in their accounts before the official payment date of Jan. 4, 2021. The IRS reminds taxpayers that the payments are automatic, and they should not contact their financial institutions or the IRS with payment timing questions.

As with the first round of payments under the CARES Act, most recipients will receive these payments by direct deposit. For Social Security and other beneficiaries who received the first round of payments via Direct Express, they will receive this second payment the same way.

Anyone who received the first round of payments earlier this year but doesn’t receive a payment via direct deposit will generally receive a check or, in some instances, a debit card. For those in this category, the payments will conclude in January. If additional legislation is enacted to provide for an additional amount, the Economic Impact Payments that have been issued will be topped up as quickly as possible.

Eligible individuals who did not receive an Economic Impact Payment this year – either the first or the second payment – will be able to claim it when they file their 2020 taxes in 2021. The IRS urges taxpayers who didn’t receive a payment this year to review the eligibility criteria when they file their 2020 taxes; many people, including recent college graduates, may be eligible to claim it. People will see the Economic Impact Payments (EIP) referred to as the Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC) on Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR since the EIPs are an advance payment of the RRC.

“Throughout this challenging year, the IRS has worked around the clock to provide Economic Impact Payments and critical taxpayer services to the American people,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We are working swiftly to distribute this second round of payments as quickly as possible. This work continues throughout the holidays and into the new year as we prepare for the upcoming filing season. We urge everyone to visit IRS.gov in the coming days for the latest information on these payments and for important information and assistance with filing their 2021 taxes.”

Authorized by the newly enacted COVID-relief legislation, the second round of payments, or “EIP 2,” is generally $600 for singles and $1,200 for married couples filing a joint return. In addition, those with qualifying children will also receive $600 for each qualifying child. Dependents who are 17 and older are not eligible for the child payment.

Payments are automatic for eligible taxpayers

Payments are automatic for eligible taxpayers who filed a 2019 tax return, those who receive Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits as well as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries who didn’t file a tax return. Payments are also automatic for anyone who successfully registered for the first payment online at IRS.gov using the agency’s Non-Filers tool by Nov. 21, 2020 or who submitted a simplified tax return that has been processed by the IRS.

Who is eligible for the second Economic Impact Payment?

Generally, U.S. citizens and resident aliens who are not eligible to be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s income tax return are eligible for this second payment. Eligible individuals will automatically receive an Economic Impact Payment of up to $600 for individuals or $1,200 for married couples and up to $600 for each qualifying child. Generally, if you have adjusted gross income for 2019 up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns and surviving spouses, you will receive the full amount of the second payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced.
How do I find out if the IRS is sending me a payment?

People can check the status of both their first and second payments by using the Get My Payment tool, available in English and Spanish only on IRS.gov. The tool is being updated with new information, and the IRS anticipates the tool will be available again in a few days for taxpayers.

How will the IRS know where to send my payment? What if I changed bank accounts?

The IRS will use the data already in our systems to send the new payments. Taxpayers with direct deposit information on file will receive the payment that way. For those without current direct deposit information on file, they will receive the payment as a check or debit card in the mail. For those eligible but who don’t receive the payment for any reason, it can be claimed by filing a 2020 tax return in 2021. Remember, the Economic Impact Payments are an advance payment of what will be called the Recovery Rebate Credit on the 2020 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR.
Will people receive a paper check or a debit card?

For those who don’t receive a direct deposit by early January, they should watch their mail for either a paper check or a debit card. To speed delivery of the payments to reach as many people as soon as possible, the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, part of the Treasury Department, will be sending a limited number of payments out by debit card. Please note that the form of payment for the second mailed EIP may be different than for the first mailed EIP. Some people who received a paper check last time might receive a debit card this time, and some people who received a debit card last time may receive a paper check.

IRS and Treasury urge eligible people who don’t receive a direct deposit to watch their mail carefully during this period for a check or an Economic Impact Payment card, which is sponsored by the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service and is issued by Treasury’s financial agent, MetaBank®, N.A. The Economic Impact Payment Card will be sent in a white envelope that prominently displays the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal. It has the Visa name on the front of the Card and the issuing bank, MetaBank®, N.A. on the back of the card. Information included with the card will explain that this is your Economic Impact Payment. More information about these cards is available at EIPcard.com.

Are more people eligible now for a payment than before?

Under the earlier CARES Act, joint returns of couples where only one member of the couple had a Social Security number were generally ineligible for a payment – unless they were a member of the military. But this month’s new law changes and expands that provision, and more people are now eligible. In this situation, these families will now be eligible to receive payments for the taxpayers and qualifying children of the family who have work-eligible SSNs. People in this group who don’t receive an Economic Impact Payment can claim this when they file their 2020 taxes under the Recovery Rebate Credit.

Is any action needed by Social Security beneficiaries, railroad retirees and those receiving veterans’ benefits who are not typically required to file a tax return?

Most Social Security retirement and disability beneficiaries, railroad retirees and those receiving veterans’ benefits do not need take any action to receive a payment. Earlier this year, the IRS worked directly with the relevant federal agencies to obtain the information needed to send out the new payments the same way benefits for this group are normally paid. For eligible people in this group who didn’t receive a payment for any reason, they can file a 2020 tax return.

I didn’t file a tax return and didn’t register with the IRS.gov non-filers tool. Am I eligible for a payment?

Yes, if you meet the eligibility requirement. While you won’t receive an automatic payment now, you can still claim the equivalent Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2020 federal income tax return.
Will I receive anything for my tax records showing I received a second Economic Impact Payment?

Yes. People will receive an IRS notice, or letter, after they receive a payment telling them the amount of their payment. They should keep this for their tax records.

Where can I get more information?

For more information about Economic Impact Payments and the 2020 Recovery Rebate, key information will be posted on IRS.gov/eip. Later this week, you may check the status of your payment at IRS.gov/GetMyPayment. For other COVID-19-related tax relief, visit IRS.gov/Coronavirus.

Identity Protection PIN Program will soon be available to taxpayers nationwide

Identity Protection PIN Program will soon be available to taxpayers nationwide

In January, the IRS Identity Protection PIN Opt-In Program will be expanded to all taxpayers who can properly verify their identity.

An identity pretention PIN is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers to help prevent their Social Security number from being used to file fraudulent federal income tax returns. This number helps the IRS verify a taxpayer’s identity and accept their tax return. The online Get An IP PIN tool immediately displays the taxpayer’s assigned number.

This tool uses Secure Access authentication verify a person’s identity. Taxpayers should review the Secure Access requirements before they try to use the Get An IP PIN tool.

Other ways to get an IP PIN
There are other ways to get an IP PIN if someone is unable to pass the Secure Access authentication. Taxpayers with income of $72,000 or less should complete Form 15227 and mail or fax it to the IRS. An IRS employee will call the taxpayer to verify their identity using a series of questions. Those who pass authentication will receive an IP PIN the following tax year.

Taxpayers who cannot verify their identities remotely or who are ineligible to file Form 15277 should make an appointment, visit a Taxpayer Assistance Center and bring two forms of picture identification. This is an in-person identity verification. After the taxpayer passes authentication, an IP PIN will be mailed to them within three weeks.

Taxpayers should never share their IP PIN with anyone but their tax provider. The IRS will never call to request the taxpayer’s IP PIN, and taxpayers must be alert to potential IP PIN scams.

Here’s what taxpayers need to know before applying:

  • The Get an IP PIN tool will be available in mid-January.
  • This is the preferred method of obtaining an IP PIN and the only one that immediately reveals the PIN to the taxpayer.
  • Taxpayers who want to voluntarily opt into the IP PIN program don’t need to file a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.
  • The number is valid for one year. Each January, the taxpayer must get a new one.
  • It must be entered correctly on electronic and paper tax returns to avoid rejections and delays.
  • Taxpayers with either a Social Security Number or Individual Tax Identification Number who can verify their identity are eligible for the program.
  • Any primary or secondary taxpayer or dependent can get an IP PIN, if they can prove their identity.
  • The IRS plans to offer an opt out feature to the IP PIN program in 2022.

Confirmed victims of tax-related identity theft
There is no change in the IP PIN Program for confirmed victims of tax-related identity theft. These taxpayers should still file a Form 14039 if their e-filed tax return rejects because of a duplicate SSN filing. The IRS will investigate their case and once the fraudulent tax return is removed from their account, they will automatically receive an IP PIN by mail at the start of the next calendar year.

IP PINs will be mailed annually to confirmed victims and participants enrolled before 2019. For security reasons, confirmed identity theft victims can’t opt out of the IP PIN program. Confirmed victims also can use the Get an IP PIN tool to retrieve lost IP PINs assigned to them.

Taxpayers should check out these tips before choosing a tax preparer

Taxpayers should check out these tips before choosing a tax preparer

As taxpayers get ready to file their 2021 taxes, they may be thinking about hiring a tax preparer. People should choose a tax preparer wisely. This is important because taxpayers are responsible for all the information on their return, no matter who prepares it for them.

There are different kinds of tax preparers, and a taxpayer’s needs will help determine which kind of preparer is best for them. With that in mind, here are some quick tips to help people choose a preparer.

When choosing a tax professional, taxpayers should:

  • Check the IRS Directory of Preparers.
    While it is not a complete listing of tax preparers, it does include those who are enrolled agents, CPAs and attorneys, as well as those who participate in the Annual Filing Season Program.

  • Check the preparer’s history with the Better Business Bureau.
    Taxpayers can verify an enrolled agent’s status on IRS.gov.

  • Ask about fees.
    Taxpayers should avoid tax return preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the refund or who offer to deposit all or part of your refund into their financial accounts.

  • Be wary of tax return preparers who claim they can get larger refunds than others.

  • Ask if they plan to use e-file.

  • Make sure the preparer is available.
    People should consider whether the individual or firm will be around for months or years after filing the return. Taxpayers should do this because they might need the preparer to answer questions about the preparation of the tax return.

  • Ensure the preparer signs and includes their preparer tax identification number.
    Paid tax return preparers must have a PTIN to prepare tax returns.

  • Check the person’s credentials.
    Only attorneys, CPAs and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS in tax matters. Other tax return preparers who participate in the IRS Annual Filing Season Program have limited practice rights to represent taxpayers during audits of returns they prepared.

More information:
Tax Time Guide: Free tax return help available in-person and online
Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax

 

IRS reminds taxpayers of the home office deduction rules during Small Business Week

IRS reminds taxpayers of the home office deduction rules during Small Business Week

WASHINGTON — During Small Business Week, Sept. 22-24, the Internal Revenue Service wants individuals to consider taking the home office deduction if they qualify. The benefit may allow taxpayers working from home to deduct certain expenses on their tax return.

The home office deduction is available to qualifying self-employed taxpayers, independent contractors and those working in the gig economy. However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspended the business use of home deduction from 2018 through 2025 for employees. Employees who receive a paycheck or a W-2 exclusively from an employer are not eligible for the deduction, even if they are currently working from home.

Qualifying for a deduction

There are two basic requirements to qualify for the deduction. The taxpayer needs to use a portion of the home exclusively for conducting business on a regular basis and the home must be the taxpayer’s principal place of business.

To claim the deduction, a taxpayer must use part of their home for one of the following:

  • Exclusively and regularly as a principal place of business for a trade or business
  • Exclusively and regularly as a place where patients, clients or customers are met in the normal course of a trade or business
  • As a separate structure that’s not attached to a home that is used exclusively and regularly in connection with a trade or business
  • On a regular basis for storage of inventory or product samples used in a trade or business of selling products at retail or wholesale
  • For rental use
  • As a daycare facility

The term “home” for purposes of this deduction:

  • Includes a house, apartment, condominium, mobile home, boat or similar property
  • Includes structures on the property, like an unattached garage, studio, barn or greenhouse
  • Doesn’t include any part of the taxpayer’s property used exclusively as a hotel, motel, inn or similar business

Qualified expenses

Deductible expenses for business use of home normally include the business portion of real estate taxes, mortgage interest, rent, casualty losses, utilities, insurance, depreciation, maintenance, and repairs. In general, a taxpayer may not deduct expenses for the parts of their home not used for business; for example, expenses for lawn care or painting a room not used for business.

Claiming the deduction

A taxpayer can use either the regular or simplified method to figure the home office deduction.

Using the regular method, qualifying taxpayers compute the business use of home deduction by dividing expenses of operating the home between personal and business use. Self-employed taxpayers filing IRS Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business (Sole Proprietorship) first figure this deduction on Form 8829, Expenses for Business Use of Your Home.

Using the Simplified Option, qualifying taxpayers use a prescribed rate of $5 per square foot of the portion of the home used for business (up to a maximum of 300 square feet) to figure the business use of home deduction. A taxpayer claims the deduction directly on IRS Schedule C. Revenue Procedure 2013-13 (PDF) provides complete details of this safe harbor method.

Daycare facilities

Taxpayers who use their home on a regular basis for providing daycare may be able to claim a deduction for part of the home even if it is used as the same space for nonbusiness purposes. To qualify, both of the following requirements must be met:

  • The business must provide daycare for children, people age 65 or older, or people who are physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.
  • The business must have applied for, been granted, or be exempt from having a license, certification, registration, or approval as a daycare center or as a family or group daycare home under state law.

Free IRS2Go app puts information at taxpayers’ fingertips

Free IRS2Go app puts information at taxpayers’ fingertips

Taxpayers can get quick access to popular IRS tools by using IRS2Go on their mobile device. The mobile app is available and free to download on any iOS or Android device. The app is available in both English and Spanish. People can use it to check their refund, make a payment, find free tax filing help and get helpful tax tips:

  • Refunds. Taxpayers can check the status of their federal tax refund within 24 hours after the IRS receives an e-filed return. It takes about four weeks to check on a refund if the taxpayer mails a paper tax return.
  • Payments. The app offers quick access to mobile-friendly payment options.
  • Tax filing help. Eligible taxpayers can find free tax software using the Free File tool within IRS2Go. They can use this software to quickly prepare and file their taxes and get their refund                                                 
  • Tips. Taxpayers can use IRS2Go to access IRS accounts on social media, including links to helpful YouTube videos and the IRS Twitter accounts. Taxpayers can also sign up to receive IRS Tax Tips by email.

IRS2Go is available to download from Google Play, the Apple App Store or the Amazon Appstore.

 

A tax checklist for newly married couples

A tax checklist for newly married couples

Marriage changes a lot of things and taxes are on that list. Newlyweds should know how saying “I do” can affect their tax situation.

Here’s a checklist of items for newly married couples to review:

  • Name and address changes
    – Name. When a name changes through marriage, it is important to report that change to the Social Security Administration. The name on a person’s tax return must match what is on file at the SSA. If it doesn’t, it could delay any tax refund. To update information, taxpayers should file Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. It is available on SSA.gov, by calling 800-772-1213 or at a local SSA office.
    – Address. If marriage means a change of address, the IRS and U.S. Postal Service need to know. To do that, people should send the IRS Form 8822, Change of Address. Taxpayers should also notify the postal service to forward their mail by going online at USPS.com or their local post office.
  • Withholding
    – After getting married, couples should consider changing their withholding. Newly married couples must give their employers a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance within 10 days. If both spouses work, they may move into a higher tax bracket or be affected by the Additional Medicare Tax. They can use the IRS Withholding Estimator on IRS.gov to help complete a new Form W-4. See Publication 505Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax for more information.

  • Filing status
    – Married people can choose to file their federal income taxes jointly or separately each year. While filing jointly is usually more beneficial, it’s best to figure the tax both ways to find out which works best. Remember, if a couple is married as of Dec. 31, the law says they’re married for the whole year for tax purposes.

  • Scams
    – All taxpayers should be aware of and avoid tax scams. The IRS will never initiate contact using email, phone calls, social media or text messages. First contact generally comes in the mail. Those wondering if they owe money to the IRS can view their tax account information on IRS.gov to find out.

COVID Tax Tip 2020-111: Millions of taxpayers receive a tax refund interest payment

Millions of taxpayers receive a tax refund interest payment

In mid-August interest payments were sent to nearly 14 million individual taxpayers. People who got these payments filed their 2019 federal income tax returns by the July 15 deadline and were owed refunds.

These interest payments averaged about $18. The IRS issued most of the payments separately from tax refunds.

Most taxpayers who received their refund by direct deposit had their interest payment sent to the same account. Everyone else received a check. A note on the check reads “INT Amount.” This identifies it as a refund interest payment.

These interest payments are taxable. Taxpayers who received a payment must report it on their 2020 federal income tax return next year. The IRS will send a Form 1099-INT in January 2021, to anyone who gets a payment of at least $10.

This interest payment is due to the IRS postponing this year’s filing deadline to July 15. The new deadline was related to COVID-19 and is considered a disaster-related postponement. Therefore, the law requires the IRS to pay interest calculated from the original April filing deadline. The taxpayer must have filed their 2019 federal income taxes by the July 15, 2020, deadline to get an interest payment.

This refund interest only applies to individual taxpayers. Businesses aren’t eligible.

Tax Tip 2020-109: Tips for taxpayers who need to file a new W-4

Tips for taxpayers who need to file a new W-4

All taxpayers should review their withholding annually. They can use the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator to check and make sure they’re not having too little or too much federal tax withheld. This tool offers workers, retirees and self-employed individuals a step-by-step method to help figure out if they should adjust their withholding.

Those who need to adjust their withholding should submit a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Certificate to their employer.

People who should check their withholding include those:

who are part of two-income families
working two or more jobs or who only work for part of the year
with children who claim credits such as the child tax credit
with older dependents, including children age 17 or older
who itemized deductions on their 2019 tax return
with high incomes and more complex tax returns
with large tax refunds or large tax bills for 2019
who received unemployment at any time during the year

The IRS Tax Withholding Estimator can help taxpayers check their withholding.

This tool will help determine if they should complete a new Form W-4.
It will also help users determine what information to put on a new Form W-4.
It will save them time because they don’t need to complete the form worksheets. The Estimator does the worksheet calculations.
Taxpayers who complete a new Form W-4 should submit it to their employer as soon as possible. With withholding occurring throughout the year, it’s better to take this step sooner, rather than later.

People should generally increase withholding if they hold more than one job at a time or have income from sources not subject to withholding. If adjustments aren’t made for these situations, they will likely owe additional tax and possibly penalties when filing their tax return.

On the other hand, people should generally decrease their withholding if they are eligible for income tax credits or deductions other than the basic standard deduction.

Having the most recent pay statements, information for other income sources and the most recent income tax return can help taxpayers use the Withholding Estimator to figure out their correct withholding.

They might also need to adjust their state or local withholding. They can contact their state’s department of revenue to learn more.