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Don’t fall for myth-leading information about tax refunds

Now that the April tax-filing deadline has come and gone, many taxpayers are eager to get details about their tax refunds. When it comes to refunds, there are several common myths going around social media.

Here are five of these common myths:

Myth 1: Getting a refund this year means there’s no need to adjust withholding for 2019
To help avoid an unexpected tax outcome next year, taxpayers should make changes now to prepare for next year. One way for a taxpayer to do this is to adjust their tax withholding with their employer. The IRS encourages people to do a Paycheck Checkup using the IRS Withholding Calculator to determine whether their employer is withholding the right amount. This is especially important for anyone who got an unexpected result from filing their tax return this year. This could have happened because the taxpayer’s employer withheld too much or too little tax from the employee’s paycheck in 2018.

Myth 2: Calling the IRS or a tax professional will provide a better refund date
Many people mistakenly think that talking to the IRS or calling their tax professional is the best way to find out when they will get their refund. In reality, the best way to check the status of a refund is online through the “Where’s My Refund?” tool at IRS.gov or with the IRS2Go mobile app. Taxpayers without Internet access can call the automated refund hotline at 800-829-1954. “Where’s My Refund?” has the same information available to IRS telephone assistors, so there is no need to call unless “Where’s My Refund?” says to do so.

Myth 3: Ordering a tax transcript is a ‘secret way’ to get a refund date
Doing so will not help taxpayers find out when they will get their refund. “Where’s My Refund?” tells the taxpayer their tax return has been received and if the IRS has approved or sent the refund.

Myth 4: ‘Where’s My Refund?’ must be wrong because there’s no deposit date yet
Updates to “Where’s My Refund?” ‎on both IRS.gov and the IRS2Go mobile app are made once each day. These updates are usually made overnight. Even though the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, it’s possible a refund may take longer. This means that in some cases, a taxpayer who filed later may receive their refund sooner than someone who filed earlier in the season. The IRS contacts a taxpayer by mail when it needs more information to process their tax return. Taxpayers should also remember to consider the time it takes for the banks to post the refund to the taxpayer’s account. Taxpayers waiting for a refund in the mail should plan for the time it takes a check to arrive.

Myth 5: ‘Where’s My Refund?’ must be wrong because a refund amount is less than expected
There are several factors that could cause a tax refund to be larger or smaller than expected. Situations that could decrease a refund include:

The taxpayer made math errors or mistakes
The taxpayer owes federal taxes for a prior year
The taxpayer owes state taxes, child support, student loans or other delinquent federal nontax obligations
The IRS holds a portion of the refund while it reviews an item claimed on the return
The IRS will mail the taxpayer a letter of explanation if these adjustments are made. Some taxpayers may also receive a letter from the Department of Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service if their refund was reduced to offset certain financial obligations.

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IRS: Don’t be victim to a ‘ghost’ tax return preparer

WASHINGTON – Today, towards the end of the second full week of the 2019 tax filing season, the Internal Revenue Service warned taxpayers to avoid unethical tax return preparers, known as ghost preparers.

By law, anyone who is paid to prepare or assist in preparing federal tax returns must have a valid 2019 Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN. Paid preparers must sign the return and include their PTIN.

But ‘ghost’ preparers do not sign the return. Instead, they print the return and tell the taxpayer to sign and mail it to the IRS. Or, for e-filed returns, they prepare but refuse to digitally sign it as the paid preparer.  

According to the IRS, similar to other tax preparation schemes, dishonest and unscrupulous ghost tax return preparers look to make a fast buck by promising a big refund or charging fees based on a percentage of the refund. These scammers hurt honest taxpayers who are simply trying to do the right thing and file a legitimate tax return.

Ghost tax return preparers may also:

  • Require payment in cash only and not provide a receipt.
  • Invent income to erroneously qualify their clients for tax credits or claim fake deductions to boost their refunds.
  • Direct refunds into their own bank account rather than the taxpayer’s account.

The IRS urges taxpayers to review their tax return carefully before signing and ask questions if something is not clear. And for any direct deposit refund, taxpayers should make sure both the routing and bank account number on the completed tax return are correct.

The IRS offers tips to help taxpayers choose a tax return preparer wisely. The Choosing a Tax Professional page has information about tax preparer credentials and qualifications. The IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications can help identify many preparers by type of credential or qualification.

Taxpayers can report abusive tax preparers to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If a taxpayer suspects a tax preparer filed or changed their tax return without their consent, they should file Form 14157-A, Tax Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit.

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Taxpayers can monitor their IRS information online

Taxpayers can access their federal tax information through a secure login at IRS.gov/account. After logging in, the user can view:

  • The amount they owe
  • Their payment history
  • Tax records
  • Key information from their most recent tax return as originally filed

A taxpayer can monitor their personal tax account by keeping track of payments and taxes owed. This online information is the same as what’s provided by IRS representatives.

Taxpayers who owe can pay from their bank account or with a debit or credit card. Taxpayers who need more time to pay can also apply for a payment plan, including an installment agreement. Other payment options are available at IRS.gov/payments.

First-time users must authenticate their identity through the Secure Access process. Additional information about secure access can be found at IRS.gov/secureaccess. Returning users can log in with their user name and password.

The account balance will update no more than once every 24 hours, usually overnight. After making a payment, users should allow up to three weeks for it to appear in the payment history.

The IRS continues to add features to help individual taxpayers conveniently monitor their account information online.

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Here’s how the IRS contacts taxpayers

Here’s how the IRS contacts taxpayers

Everyone should know how the IRS contacts taxpayers. This will help people avoid becoming a victim of scammers who pretend to be from the IRS with a goal of stealing personal information.
Here are some facts about how the IRS communicates with taxpayers:

  • The IRS doesn’t normally initiate contact with taxpayers by email.
  • The agency does not send text messages or contact people through social media.
  • When the IRS needs to contact a taxpayer, the first contact is normally by letter delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.  Fraudsters will send fake documents through the mail, and in some cases will claim they already notified a taxpayer by U.S. mail.
  • Depending on the situation, IRS employees may first call or visit with a taxpayer. In some instances, the IRS sends a letter or written notice to a taxpayer in advance, but not always.
  • IRS revenue agents or tax compliance officers may call a taxpayer or tax professional after mailing a notice to confirm an appointment or to discuss items for a scheduled audit.
  • Private debt collectors can call taxpayers for the collection of certain outstanding inactive tax liabilities, but only after the taxpayer and their representative have received written notice.
  • IRS revenue officers and agents routinely make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss taxes owed, delinquent tax returns or a business falling behind on payroll tax deposits. IRS revenue officers will request payment of taxes owed by the taxpayer. However, taxpayers should remember that payment will never be requested to a source other than the U.S. Treasury.
  • When visited by someone from the IRS, the taxpayers should always ask for credentials. IRS representatives can always provide two forms of official credentials: a pocket commission and a Personal Identity Verification Credential.

More Information:

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IRS Working on a New Form 1040 for 2019 Tax Season

R-2018-146, June 29, 2018

WASHINGTON – As part of a larger effort to help taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service plans to streamline the Form 1040 into a shorter, simpler form for the 2019 tax season.

The new 1040 – about half the size of the current version — would replace the current Form 1040 as well as the Form 1040A and the Form 1040EZ.  The IRS circulated a copy of the new form and will work with the tax community to finalize the streamlined Form 1040 over the summer.

This new approach will simplify the 1040 so that all 150 million taxpayers can use the same form. The new form consolidates the three versions of the 1040 into one simple form. At the same time, the IRS will still obtain the information from each taxpayer needed to determine their tax liability or refund.

The new Form 1040 uses a “building block” approach, in which the tax return is reduced to a simple form. That form can be supplemented with additional schedules if needed. Taxpayers with straightforward tax situations would only need to file this new 1040 with no additional schedules.

Since more than nine out of 10 taxpayers use software or a tax preparer, the IRS will be working with the tax community to prepare for the streamlined Form 1040. This will also help ensure a smooth transition for people familiar with software products and the interview process used to prepare tax returns.

Taxpayers who file on paper would use this new streamlined Form 1040 and supplement it with any needed schedules.

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IRS direct deposit leads to faster refunds

IR-2018-90, April 10, 2018

WASHINGTON — With the tax deadline just around the corner, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers that making an electronic direct deposit of their refund into a bank or other account is the fastest way to get their money. A taxpayer can deposit their refund into one, two or even three accounts to help with retirement or savings.

Eight out of 10 taxpayers get their refunds by using direct deposit. It is simple, safe and secure. The IRS uses the same electronic transfer system to deposit tax refunds that is used by other federal agencies to deposit nearly 98 percent of all Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits into millions of accounts. Direct deposit also avoids the possibility that a refund check could be lost or stolen or returned to the IRS as undeliverable.

Direct deposit is easy to use. A taxpayer simply selects it as the refund method when using tax software or working with a tax preparer, and then types in their account and routing number. It’s important to double check entries to avoid errors.

Direct deposit also saves taxpayer money. It costs the more than $1 for every paper refund check issued, but only a dime for each direct deposit made.

Split refunds

By using direct deposit, a taxpayer can split their refund into up to 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.

A taxpayer can split their refund by using tax software or by using IRS Form 8888, Allocation of Refund (including Savings Bond Purchases), if they file a paper return. If a taxpayer wants the IRS to deposit their refund into just one account, they simply use the direct deposit line on their tax form. Some people use split refunds as a convenient option for managing their money, sending some of their refund to an account for immediate use and some for future savings.

The IRS reminds taxpayers they should only deposit 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 and a paper refund will be issued for the refunds exceeding that limit.

E-file plus direct deposit yields fastest refunds

The IRS also encourages taxpayers to file electronically. While a person can choose direct deposit whether they file their taxes on paper or electronically, a taxpayer who e-files will typically see their refund in less than 21 days. Taxpayers can track their refund using “Where’s My Refund?” 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 or call the IRS to get information about a refund. Taxpayers can check “Where’s My Refund?” within 24 hours after the IRS has received their e-filed return or four weeks after receipt of a mailed 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.

Whether through IRS Free File or commercially available software, electronic filing vastly reduces tax return errors, as the tax software does the calculations, flags common errors and prompts taxpayers for missing information.

Other last-minute tips from IRS:

Need more time to file? Avoid a late-filing penalty by requesting an extension of time to file. There are several ways to do so, including through the Free File link on IRS.gov or by making an electronic payment and designating it as an extension payment. 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 taxes are still due by the original due date. They 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 the payment date to get the automatic extension, and there’s no need to file a paper or electronic Form 4868. Keep the confirmation as proof of the payment and extension. With Direct Pay and EFTPS taxpayers can opt in to receive email notifications about their payment.

Taxpayers can file Form 4868, Application for Extension of Time To File U.S. Income Tax Return, electronically or by mail. April 17 is the deadline for most to pay taxes owed and avoid penalty and interest charges.

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 initiate the payment process in Direct Pay or sign up for email notifications through EFTPS. Report all unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS or an IRS-related function to phishing@irs.gov.

Owe tax? 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, mail a check or money order made payable to the “United States Treasury” along with a Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher. Taxpayers who can’t pay by April 17 often qualify to set up a monthly payment agreement with the IRS using the Online Payment Agreement option on IRS.gov.

For further help and resources, check out the IRS Services Guide.

Related information:

 

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Understanding Your 5071C Letter

We received a federal income tax return with your name and taxpayer identification number but we must verify your identity to process it accurately. The contact information below is only for taxpayers who received Letter 5071C.

What you need to do

If you didn’t file

  • Use our secure Identity Verification Service. It’s quick and secure.
  • You can opt-out of the Identity Verification Service at any time and call the toll-free number provided in the 5071C letter.
  • If you answer a question incorrectly, you can call the toll-free number in the 5071C letter.

If you did file

  • Call the toll-free IRS Identity Verification telephone number at 800-830-5084.
  • Have a copy of the 5071C letter you received, a copy of your prior year tax return (if you filed one) and your most recently filed tax return (if you filed one), as well as any supporting documentation for each year’s return (such as Forms W-2, 1099, 1040 Schedule C, or 1040 Schedule F) when you call.

We’ll ask you a series of questions about your identity and tax return history.

If we are unable to verify your identity over the phone or online, we may ask you to schedule an appointment at your local IRS office to verify your identity in person.

The toll-free number is for identity verification only. No other tax-related information, including refund status, is available.

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Check Status of a Tax Refund in Minutes Using Where’s My Refund?

The Where’s My Refund? 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 every 24 hours, usually overnight. Taxpayers should remember that checking the status more often will not produce new results. Taxpayers on the go can track their return and refund status on their mobile devices using the free IRS2Go app. Those who file an amended return should check out the Where’s My Amended Return? tool.

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.

There is a misconception that a tax transcript can help taxpayers determine the status of their refund. The information included on a transcript does not necessarily reflect the amount or timing of a refund. Transcripts are best used to validate past income and tax filing status for loan applications, and to help with tax preparation.

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Here’s Five Reasons to Use Direct Deposit for a Tax Refund

IRS Tax Tip 2018-04, January 9, 2018

As taxpayers prepare for the January 29 start of filing season, they should consider a direct deposit of any refunds due. It’s easy, safe, fast — and the best way to get a refund. That’s why 80 percent of taxpayers choose it every year.

IRS Direct Deposit:

  • Is Fast. The quickest way for taxpayers to get their refund is to electronically file their federal tax return and use direct deposit. They can use IRS Free File to prepare and e-file federal returns for free.  Taxpayers who file a paper return can also use direct deposit.
  • Is Secure. Since refunds go right into a bank account, there’s no risk of having a paper check stolen or lost. This is the same electronic transfer system that deposits nearly 98 percent of all Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits into millions of accounts.
  • Is Easy.  Choosing direct deposit is easy. With e-file, just follow the instructions in the tax software. For paper returns, the tax form instructions serve as a guide. Make sure to enter the correct bank account and routing number.
  • Has Options. Taxpayers can split a refund into several financial accounts. These include checking, savings, health, education and certain retirement accounts. Use IRS Form 8888, Allocation of Refund (including Savings Bond Purchases), to deposit a refund in up to three accounts. Do not use this form to designate part of a refund to pay tax preparers.

Taxpayers should deposit refunds into accounts in their own name, their spouse’s name or both. Avoid making a deposit into accounts owned by others. Some banks require both spouses’ names on the account to deposit a tax refund from a joint return. Taxpayers should check with their bank for direct deposit rules.

There is a limit of three electronic direct deposit refunds made into a single financial account or pre-paid debit card. The IRS will send a notice and a refund check in the mail to taxpayers who exceed the limit.

Additional IRS Resources:

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2018 Tax Filing Season Begins Jan. 29, Tax Returns Due April 17; Help Available for Taxpayers

WASHINGTON ― 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, 2017. 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.

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 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. Taxpayers 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 Youpage 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.

 

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IRS Provides Safe Harbors to Help Taxpayers Suffering Property Losses, Including Losses from Hurricanes

IR-2017-202, Dec. 13, 2017

WASHINGTON – As part of a wider effort to help victims of natural disasters, the Internal Revenue Service today issued guidance providing safe harbor methods that individuals may use in determining the amount of their casualty and theft losses for their homes and personal belongings, including losses from recent hurricanes.

Revenue Procedure 2018-08 provides safe harbor methods that individual taxpayers may use in determining the amount of their casualty and theft losses for their homes and personal belongings. Four of the safe harbor methods may be used for any qualifying casualty or theft loss, and three are specifically applicable only to losses occurring as a result of a Federally declared disaster.

For instance, one of the safe harbor methods allows a homeowner to determine the amount of loss, up to $20,000, by obtaining a contractor estimate of repair costs. Another safe harbor method allows a homeowner to determine the amount of loss resulting from a Federally declared disaster using the repair costs on a signed contract prepared by a licensed contractor. The guidance also provides a handy table for determining the value of personal belongings damaged, destroyed or stolen as a result of a Federally declared disaster.

Revenue Procedure 2018-09 provides a safe harbor method under which individuals may use one or more cost indexes to determine the amount of loss to their homes as a result of Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria (2017 Hurricanes). The cost indexes provide tables with cost per square foot for Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (2017 Disaster Area).

The safe harbor methods detailed in Revenue Procedure 2018-08 are effective on Dec. 13, 2017; the safe harbor method detailed in Revenue Procedure 2018-09 is effective for losses that are attributable to the 2017 Hurricanes and that arose in the 2017 Disaster Area after August 22, 2017. IRS Publication 547 provides more information on casualty and theft losses. If people want to explore claiming these losses by filing an original or amended return for Tax Year 2016, the IRS has also issued a new revision of the 2016 Form 4684 and 2016 Instructions for Form 4684. The 2017 revision of Form 4684, its instructions and any additional information will be available before the start of the filing season at IRS.gov/Form4684.

To help taxpayers navigate casualty loss issues, the IRS has created a special web page: Tax Law Provisions for Disaster Areas, with additional information for disaster victims.

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Standard Mileage Rates for 2018 Up from Rates for 2017

IR-2017-204, Dec. 14, 2017

WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2018 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 54.5 cents for every mile of business travel driven, up 1 cent from the rate for 2017.
  • 18 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, up 1 cent from the rate for 2017.
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

The business mileage rate and the medical and moving expense rates each increased 1 cent per mile from the rates for 2017. The charitable rate is set by statute and remains unchanged.

The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs.

Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously. These and other requirements are described in Rev. Proc. 2010-51.

Notice 2018-03, posted today on IRS.gov, contains the standard mileage rates, the amount a taxpayer must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate, and the maximum standard automobile cost that a taxpayer may use in computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan.

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Get Ready for Taxes: Plan Ahead to Avoid Refund Delays

IRS Tax Tip 2017-87, December 5, 2017

Taxpayers can take steps to ensure smooth processing of their 2017 tax return next year. Here are three things taxpayers should know about the tax returns they will file next year.

1) It’s important to gather documents

The IRS urges all taxpayers to file a complete and accurate tax return by making sure they have all the needed documents before they file. This includes:

  • Forms W-2 from employers.
  • Forms 1099 from banks and other payers.
  • Forms 1095-A from the Marketplace for those claiming the Premium Tax Credit.

Typically, these forms start arriving by mail in January. Taxpayers should check them over carefully, and if any of the information shown is wrong, contact the payer right away for a correction.

2) Taxpayers with expiring ITINs should renew promptly

Some people with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number may need to renew it before the end of the year to avoid a refund delay and possible loss of key tax benefits. These ITINs expire Dec. 31, 2017:

  • ITINs not used on a tax return in the past three years.
  • ITINs with middle digits 70, 71, 72 or 80.

Anyone who needs to renew an ITIN should submit a completed Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. They should mail the Form W-7, along with original identification documents or copies certified by the issuing agency. Once an individual files a completed form, it typically takes about seven weeks to receive an ITIN assignment letter from the IRS.

3) Choose e-file and direct deposit for a faster refund

Electronically filing a tax return is the most accurate way to prepare and file. Errors delay refunds and the easiest way to avoid them is to e-file. Combining direct deposit with electronic filing is the fastest way for a taxpayer to get their refund. With direct deposit, a refund goes directly into a taxpayer’s bank account.

There are several e-file options:

Taxpayers should note that the IRS cannot by law issue refunds for people claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit before mid-February. This law helps make sure that taxpayers receive the refund they’re due by giving the IRS more time to detect and prevent fraud.

The IRS expects the earliest refunds related to EITC and ACTC to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or debit cards starting on Feb. 27, 2018, if the taxpayer uses direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return.  This additional period is due to several factors, including the Presidents Day holiday and banking and financial systems needing time to process deposits.

More Information:

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IRS Statement on 2018 Filing Season Start Date

Nov. 3, 2017

The IRS has not yet announced a date that it will begin accepting individual tax returns for the 2018 tax filing season. At the present time, the IRS is continuing to update its programming and processing systems for 2018. In addition, the IRS continues to closely monitor potential legislation that could affect the 2018 tax season, including a number of “extender” tax provisions that expired at the end of 2016 that could potentially be renewed for tax year 2017 by Congress.

The IRS anticipates it will not be at a point to announce a filing season start date until later in the calendar year. The IRS will continue to work closely with the nation’s tax professionals and software community as preparations continue for the 2018 tax filing season.

Speculation on the Internet that the IRS will begin accepting tax returns on Jan. 22 or after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday in January is inaccurate and misleading; no such date has been set.

Refund Timing

In addition, the IRS cautions taxpayers from relying on misleading refund charts on the internet that project tax refund dates. Any speculation about refund dates in 2018 is premature. In addition, these refund charts can overlook that many different factors affect the timing of tax refunds, ranging from the accuracy of information on the return to whether a taxpayer files electronically. In addition, the IRS and state revenue departments have increased their security protocols against identity theft and refund fraud, which also can affect the timing of federal and state refunds.

The IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. However, it’s possible your tax return may require additional review and take longer. Where’s My Refund? has the most up to date information available about your refund. The tool is updated no more than once a day so you don’t need to check more often. If you use a mobile device you can download the IRS2Go app to check your refund status.

E-File coupled with Direct Deposit remains the fastest way for taxpayers to receive their refunds.

Due to law changes first affecting last year’s returns, the IRS cannot issue refunds for tax returns claiming the EITC or ACTC before mid-February. This law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC or ACTC. However, there is no need to wait to file such returns since the IRS will process them to the point of refund and then begin refund release when permitted by law.

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Senate Proposes a Compromise to ACA Subsidies Issue…Now in the Hands of the President

The Trump Administration announced last week that it would end the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies designed to help lower income Americans receive healthcare. This proposal has been met with controversy, and the Senate has now agreed on a short term two year deal to fight this issue, just two weeks before Americans start signing up for 2018 coverage. The bill must still be approved by Congress and signed by President Trump.

What exactly do the subsidies cover?
These subsidies, also referred to as cost sharing reductions, are payments directly made to insurers for subsidizing out of pocket costs, including deductibles for people who make 100-250 % of the federal poverty line and buy a silver plan on the exchange.

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Treasury Eases Burden on Family Owned Businesses

re you part of a family-owned business? The Treasury Department recently announced that it will pull several tax regulations including the proposed Section 2704 rules that aim to limit valuation discounts for estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax purposes. A press release set forth by the Treasury, said the regulations would have had hurtful consequences on family-owned and operated businesses by limiting minority and marketability valuation discounts and making it not only difficult but costly for a family to transfer their businesses to the next generation.

Section 2704
Congress enacted Section 2704(b) of the Internal Revenue Code in 2016 in an effort to limit the valuation discounts for gift and estate tax purposes for family owned businesses.

Read more

Treasury Eases Burden on Family Owned Businesses

re you part of a family-owned business? The Treasury Department recently announced that it will pull several tax regulations including the proposed Section 2704 rules that aim to limit valuation discounts for estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax purposes. A press release set forth by the Treasury, said the regulations would have had hurtful consequences on family-owned and operated businesses by limiting minority and marketability valuation discounts and making it not only difficult but costly for a family to transfer their businesses to the next generation.

Section 2704
Congress enacted Section 2704(b) of the Internal Revenue Code in 2016 in an effort to limit the valuation discounts for gift and estate tax purposes for family owned businesses.

Read more