Archive September 2020

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.