Report Changes in Circumstances that could Affect Your 2015 Premium Tax Credit
If you have enrolled for health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace and receive advance payments of the premium tax credit in 2015, it is important that you report changes in circumstances, such as changes in your income or family size, to your Marketplace.
Advance payments of the premium tax credit provide financial assistance to help you pay for the insurance you buy through the Marketplace. Having at least some of your credit paid in advance directly to your insurance company will reduce the out-of-pocket cost of the health insurance premiums you’ll pay each month.
However, it is important to notify the Marketplace about changes in circumstances to allow the Marketplace to adjust your advance payment amount. This adjustment will decrease the likelihood of a significant difference between your advance credit payments and your actual premium tax credit. Changes in circumstances that you should report to the Marketplace include, but are not limited to:
- An increase or decrease in your income
- Marriage or divorce
- The birth or adoption of a child
- Starting a job with health insurance
- Gaining or losing your eligibility for other health care coverage
- Changing your residence
For the full list of changes you should report, visit HealthCare.gov/how-do-i-
If you report changes in your income or family size to the Marketplace when they happen in 2015, the advance payments will more closely match the credit amount on your 2015 federal tax return. This will help you avoid getting a smaller refund than you expected, or even owing money that you did not expect to owe.
Taxpayers Receiving Identity Verification Letter Should Use IDVerify.irs.gov
IR-2015-54, March 18, 2015
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers who receive requests from the IRS to verify their identities that the Identity Verification Service website, idverify.irs.gov, offers the fastest, easiest way to complete the task.
Taxpayers may receive a letter when the IRS stops suspicious tax returns that have indications of being identity theft but contains a real taxpayer’s name and/or Social Security number. Only those taxpayers receiving Letter 5071C should access idverify.irs.gov.
The website will ask a series of questions that only the real taxpayer can answer.
Once the identity is verified, the taxpayers can confirm whether or not they filed the return in question. If they did not file the return, the IRS can take steps at that time to assist them. If they did file the return, it will take approximately six weeks to process it and issue a refund.
Letter 5071C is mailed through the U.S. Postal Service to the address on the return. It asks taxpayers to verify their identities in order for the IRS to complete processing of the returns if the taxpayers did file it or reject the returns if the taxpayers did not file it. The IRS does not request such information via email, nor will the IRS call a taxpayer directly to ask this information without you receiving a letter first. The letter number can be found in the upper corner of the page.
The letter gives taxpayers two options to contact the IRS and confirm whether or not they filed the return. Taxpayers may use the idverify.irs.gov site or call a toll-free number on the letter. Because of the high-volume on the toll-free numbers, the IRS-sponsored website, idverify.irs.gov, is the safest, fastest option for taxpayers with web access.
Taxpayers should have available their prior year tax return and their current year tax return, if they filed one, including supporting documents, such as Forms W-2 and 1099 and Schedules A and C.
Taxpayers also may access idverify.irs.gov through www.IRS.gov by going to Understanding Your 5071C Letter or the Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter page. The tool is also available in Spanish. Taxpayers should always be aware of tax scams, efforts to solicit personally identifiable information and IRS impersonations. However, idverify.irs.gov is a secure, IRS-supported site that allows taxpayers to verify their identities quickly and safely.
Five Key Tax Tips about Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax
If you are an employee, you usually will have taxes withheld from your pay. If you don’t have taxes withheld, or you don’t have enough tax withheld, then you may need to make estimated tax payments. If you are self-employed you normally have to pay your taxes this way. Here are five tips about making estimated taxes:
- When the tax applies. You should pay estimated taxes in 2015 if you expect to owe $1,000 or more when you file your federal tax return next year. Special rules apply to farmers and fishermen.
- How to figure the tax. Estimate the amount of income you expect to receive for the year. Also make sure that you take into account any tax deductions and credits that you will be eligible to claim. Use Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, to figure and pay your estimated tax.
- When to make payments. You normally make estimated tax payments four times a year. The dates that apply to most people are April 15, June 15 and Sept. 15 in 2015, and Jan. 15, 2016.
- When to change tax payments or withholding. Life changes, such as a change in marital status or the birth of a child can affect your taxes. When these changes happen, you may need to revise your estimated tax payments during the year. If you are an employee, you may need to change the amount of tax withheld from your pay. If so, give your employer a new Form W–4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. You can use the IRS Withholding Calculator tool help you fill out the form.
- How to pay estimated tax. Pay online using IRS Direct Pay. Direct Pay is a secure service to pay your individual tax bill or to pay your estimated tax directly from your checking or savings account at no cost to you. You have other ways that you can pay online, by phone or by mail. Visit IRS.gov/payments for easy and secure ways to pay your tax. If you pay by mail, use the payment vouchers that come with Form 1040-ES.
2013 Home Office Deduction Features Simpler Option
If you work from home, you should learn the rules for how to claim the home office deduction. Starting this year, there is a simpler option to figure the deduction for business use of your home. The new option will save you time because it simplifies how you figure and claim the deduction. It will also make it easier for you to keep records. It does not change the rules for who may claim the deduction.
Here are six facts from the IRS about the home office deduction.
1. Generally, in order to claim a deduction for a home office, you must use a part of your home exclusively and regularly for business purposes. Also, the part of your home used for business must be:
• your principal place of business, or
• a place where you meet clients or customers in the normal course of business, or
• a separate structure not attached to your home. Examples might include a studio, garage or barn.
2. If you use the actual expense method, the home office deduction includes certain costs that you paid for your home. For example, if you rent your home, part of the rent you paid could qualify. If you own your home, part of the mortgage interest, taxes and utilities you paid could qualify. The amount you can deduct usually depends on the percentage of your home used for business.
3. Beginning with 2013 tax returns, you may be able to use the simplified option to claim the home office deduction instead of claiming actual expenses. Under this method, you multiply the allowable square footage of your office by a prescribed rate of $5. The maximum footage allowed is 300 square feet. The deduction limit using this method is $1,500 per year.
4. If your gross income from the business use of your home is less than your expenses, the deduction for some expenses may be limited.
5. If you are self-employed and choose the actual expense method, use Form 8829, Expenses for Business Use of Your Home, to figure the amount you can deduct. You claim your deduction on Schedule C, Profit or Loss From Business, if you use either the simplified or actual expense method. See the Schedule C instructions for how to report your deduction.
6. If you are an employee, you must meet additional rules to claim the deduction. For example, in addition to the above tests, your business use must also be for your employer’s convenience.
Additional IRS References:
- Home Office Deduction
- FAQs - Simplified Method for Home Office Deduction
- Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center
- 1040 Central
- IRS Tax Map
Issue Number: IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2013-01
IRS Website Explains Tax Provisions of the Health Care Law; Provides Guide to Online Resources
The IRS has launched a new Affordable Care Act Tax Provisions website at IRS.gov/aca to educate individuals and businesses on how the health care law may affect them. The new home page has three sections, which explain the tax benefits and responsibilities for individuals and families, employers, and other organizations, with links and information for each group. The site provides information about tax provisions that are in effect now and those that will go into effect in 2014 and beyond.
Topics include premium tax credits for individuals, new benefits and responsibilities for employers, and tax provisions for insurers, tax-exempt organizations and certain other business types.
Visitors to the new site will find information about the law and its provisions, legal guidance, the latest news, frequently asked questions and links to additional resources.
Several other federal agencies have a role in implementing the health care law, including the Department of Health and Human Services, which has primary responsibility. To help locate additional online resources from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor and the Small Business Administration, the IRS has issued a new Web-based flyer - Healthcare Law Online Resources (Publication 5093).
Visit IRS.gov/aca for more information regarding the tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
Issue Number: IRS Tax Tip 2013-62
Tips to Start Planning Next Year's Tax Return
For most taxpayers, the tax deadline has passed. But planning for next year can start now. The IRS reminds taxpayers that being organized and planning ahead can save time and money in 2014. Here are six things you can do now to make next April 15 easier.
1. Adjust your withholding. Each year, millions of American workers have far more taxes withheld from their pay than is required. Now is a good time to review your withholding to make the taxes withheld from your pay closer to the taxes you’ll owe for this year. This is especially true if you normally get a large refund and you would like more money in your paycheck. If you owed tax when you filed, you may need to increase the federal income tax withheld from your wages. Use the IRS Withholding Calculator at IRS.gov to complete a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate.
2. Store your return in a safe place. Put your 2012 tax return and supporting documents somewhere safe. If you need to refer to your return in the future, you’ll know where to find it. For example, you may need a copy of your return when applying for a home loan or financial aid. You can also use it as a helpful guide for next year's return.
3. Organize your records. Establish one location where everyone in your household can put tax-related records during the year. This will avoid a scramble for misplaced mileage logs or charity receipts come tax time.
4. Shop for a tax professional. If you use a tax professional to help you with tax planning, start your search now. You’ll have more time when you're not up against a deadline or anxious to receive your tax refund. Choose a tax professional wisely. You’re ultimately responsible for the accuracy of your own return regardless of who prepares it. Find tips for choosing a preparer at IRS.gov.
5. Consider itemizing deductions. If you usually claim a standard deduction, you may be able to reduce your taxes if you itemize deductions instead. If your itemized deductions typically fall just below your standard deduction, you can ‘bundle’ your deductions. For example, an early or extra mortgage payment or property tax payment, or a planned donation to charity could equal some tax savings. See the Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, instructions for the list of items you can deduct. Planning an approach now that works best for you can pay off at tax time next year.
6. Keep up with changes. Find out about tax law changes, helpful tips and IRS announcements all year by subscribing to IRS Tax Tips through IRS.gov or IRS2Go, the mobile app from the IRS. The IRS issues tips regularly during the summer and tax filing season.
You can find forms and publications at IRS.gov or order them by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Additional IRS Resources:
- IRS Withholding Calculator tool
- Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate
- Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax
- Publication 552, Recordkeeping for Individuals
- Choosing a Tax Professional
- Schedule A, Itemized Deductions and instructions
Top Six Tax Tips for the Self-Employed
When you are self-employed, it typically means you work for yourself, as an independent contractor, or own your own business. Here are six key points the IRS would like you to know about self-employment and self-employment taxes:
1. Self-employment income can include pay that you receive for part-time work you do out of your home. This could include income you earn in addition to your regular job.
2. Self-employed individuals file a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, or Schedule C-EZ, Net Profit from Business, with their Form 1040.
3. If you are self-employed, you generally have to pay self-employment tax as well as income tax. Self-employment tax includes Social Security and Medicare taxes. You figure this tax using Schedule SE, Self-Employment Tax.
4. If you are self-employed you may have to make estimated tax payments. People typically make estimated tax payments to pay taxes on income that is not subject to withholding. If you do not make estimated tax payments, you may have to pay a penalty when you file your income tax return. The underpayment of estimated tax penalty applies if you do not pay enough taxes during the year.
5. When you file your tax return, you can deduct some business expenses for the costs you paid to run your trade or business. You can deduct most business expenses in full, but some costs must be ’capitalized.’ This means you can deduct a portion of the expense each year over a period of years.
6. You may deduct only the costs that are both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your trade or business.
For more information, visit the Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center on the IRS website. There are three IRS publications that will also help you. See Publications 334, Tax Guide for Small Business; 535, Business Expenses and 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax. All tax forms and publications are available on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Ten Tips to Help You Choose a Tax Preparer
Many people look for help from professionals when it’s time to file their tax return. If you use a paid tax preparer to file your federal income tax return this year, the IRS urges you to choose that preparer carefully. Even if someone else prepares your return, you are legally responsible for what is on it.
Here are ten tips to keep in mind when choosing a tax return preparer:
1. Check the preparer’s qualifications. All paid tax return preparers are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. In addition to making sure they have a PTIN, ask if the preparer belongs to a professional organization and attends continuing education classes.
2. Check on the preparer’s history. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the preparer has a questionable history. Also check for any disciplinary actions and for the status of their licenses. For certified public accountants, check with the state boards of accountancy. For attorneys, check with the state bar associations. For enrolled agents, check with the IRS Office of Enrollment.
3. Ask about service fees. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or those who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers can. Also, always make sure any refund due is sent to you or deposited into an account in your name. Taxpayers should not deposit their refund into a preparer’s bank account.
4. Ask to e-file your return. Make sure your preparer offers IRS e-file. Any paid preparer who prepares and files more than 10 returns for clients must file the returns electronically, unless the client opts to file a paper return. IRS has safely and securely processed more than one billion individual tax returns since the debut of electronic filing in 1990.
5. Make sure the preparer is accessible. Make sure you will be able to contact the tax preparer after you file your return, even after the April 15 due date. This may be helpful in the event questions arise about your tax return.
6. Provide records and receipts. Reputable preparers will request to see your records and receipts. They will ask you questions to determine your total income and your qualifications for deductions, credits and other items. Do not use a preparer who is willing to e-file your return by using your last pay stub before you receive your Form W-2. This is against IRS e-file rules.
7. Never sign a blank return. Avoid tax preparers that ask you to sign a blank tax form.
8. Review the entire return before signing. Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask questions. Make sure you understand everything and are comfortable with the accuracy of the return before you sign it.
9. Make sure the preparer signs and includes their PTIN. A paid preparer must sign the return and include their PTIN as required by law. The preparer must also give you a copy of the return.
10. Report abusive tax preparers to the IRS. You can report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS on Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If you suspect a return preparer filed or altered a return without your consent, you should also file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit. Download the forms on the IRS.gov website or order them by mail at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Additional IRS Resources:
- How to Make a Complaint About a Tax Return Preparer
- How to Report Suspected Tax Fraud Activity
- Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer (PDF)
- Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit (PDF)
Issue Number: IRS Tax Tip 2013-59
Ten Facts on Filing an Amended Tax Return
What should you do if you already filed your federal tax return and then discover a mistake? Don’t worry; you have a chance to fix errors by filing an amended tax return. This year you can use the new IRS tool, ‘Where's My Amended Return?’ to easily track the status of your amended tax return. Here are 10 facts you should know about filing an amended tax return.
1. Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to file an amended tax return. An amended return cannot be e-filed. You must file it on paper.
2. You should consider filing an amended tax return if there is a change in your filing status, income, deductions or credits.
3. You normally do not need to file an amended return to correct math errors. The IRS will automatically make those changes for you. Also, do not file an amended return because you forgot to attach tax forms, such as W-2s or schedules. The IRS normally will send a request asking for those.
4. Generally, you must file Form 1040X within three years from the date you filed your original tax return or within two years of the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. Be sure to enter the year of the return you are amending at the top of Form 1040X.
5. If you are amending more than one tax return, prepare a 1040X for each return and mail them to the IRS in separate envelopes. You will find the appropriate IRS address to mail your return to in the Form 1040X instructions.
6. If your changes involve the need for another schedule or form, you must attach that schedule or form to the amended return.
7. If you are filing an amended tax return to claim an additional refund, wait until you have received your original tax refund before filing Form 1040X. Amended returns take up to 12 weeks to process. You may cash your original refund check while waiting for the additional refund.
8. If you owe additional taxes with Form 1040X, file it and pay the tax as soon as possible to minimize interest and penalties.
9. You can track the status of your amended tax return three weeks after you file with the IRS’s new tool called, ‘Where’s My Amended Return?’ The automated tool is available on IRS.gov and by phone at 866-464-2050. The online and phone tools are available in English and Spanish. You can track the status of your amended return for the current year and up to three prior years.
10. To use either ‘Where’s My Amended Return’ tool, just enter your taxpayer identification number (usually your Social Security number), date of birth and zip code. If you have filed amended returns for more than one year, you can select each year individually to check the status of each. If you use the tool by phone, you will not need to call a different IRS phone number unless the tool tells you to do so.
Additional IRS Resources:
- Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
- Where's My Amended Return? tool
- Tax Topic 308 - Amended Returns
- Q&A about amended returns and Form 1040X