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Obamacare and Your 2013 Tax Return

Taxation - Highlighted in the dictionary

Taxation – Highlighted in the dictionary (Photo credit: efile989)

So – you’re considering your income tax return (or maybe you’ve already filed) and you’re wondering if there are things you need to know with regard to Obamacare.  Fortunately, it’s not much (for most folks), for your 2013 return anyhow.  Next year will be a different story.

The IRS recently produced their Health Care Tax Tip HCTT-2014-10 which lists some tips about how the health care law impacts your 2013 tax return.  The actual text of the Tip is below:

What do I need to know about the Health Care Law for my 2013 Tax Return?

For most people, the Affordable Care Act has no effect on their 2013 federal income tax return.  For example, you will not report health care coverage under the individual shared responsibility provision or claim the premium tax credit until you file your 2014 return in 2015.

However, for some people, a few provisions may affect your 2013 tax return, such as increases in the itemized medical deduction threshold, the additional Medicare tax and the net investment income tax.

Here are some additional tips:

Filing Requirement: If you do not have a tax filing requirement, you do not need to file a 2013 federal tax return to establish eligibility or qualify for financial assistance, including advance payments of the premium tax credit to purchase health insurance coverage through a Health Insurance Marketplace. Learn more at www.Healthcare.gov.

W-2 Reporting of Employer Coverage:  The value of health care coverage reported by your employer in box 12 and identified by Code DD on your Form W-2 is not taxable.

Information available about other tax provisions in the health care law:  More information is available on www.IRS.gov regarding the following tax provisions: Premium Rebate for Medical Loss Ratio, Health Flexible Spending Arrangements, and Health Saving Accounts.

More Information

Find out more tax-related provisions of the health care law at www.IRS.gov/aca.

Find out more about the Health Insurance Marketplace at www.Healthcare.gov.

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Avoiding Mistakes on Your Tax Return

"YOU ARE ONE OF 50,000,000 AMERICANS WHO ...

“YOU ARE ONE OF 50,000,000 AMERICANS WHO MUST FILL OUT AN INCOME TAX RETURN BY MARCH 15. DO IT NOW^ AVOID THE RUSH…. – NARA – 516202 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When filing your tax return you want to make sure that you don’t make mistakes.  Mistakes can be costly in terms of additional tax and penalties, as well as the extra time and grief they can cause you.  Most of the time using e-filing software can help you to avoid these mistakes, but you should check over the return anyhow to make certain you haven’t fat-fingered something or if something didn’t go wrong with the software.

The IRS recently issued their Tax Tip 2014-46, which lists out 8 common mistakes that folks make on their tax return, and how to avoid them where possible.  The actual text of the Tip follows below:

Eight Common Tax Mistakes to Avoid

We all make mistakes.  But if you make a mistake on your tax return, the IRS may need to contact you to correct it.  That will delay your refund.

You can avoid most tax return errors by using IRS e-file.  People who do their taxes on paper are about 20 times more likely to make an error than e-filers.  IRS e-file is the most accurate way to file your tax return.

Here are eight common tax-filing errors to avoid:

  1. Wrong or missing Social Security numbers.  Be sure you enter all SSNs on your tax return exactly as they are on the Social Security cards.
  2. Wrong names.  Be sure that you spell the names of everyone on your tax return exactly as they are on the Social Security cards.
  3. Filing status errors.  Some people use the wrong filing status, such as Head of Household instead of Single.  The Interactive Tax Assistant on www.IRS.gov can help you choose the right one.  Tax software helps e-filers choose.
  4. Math mistakes.  Double-check your math.  For example, be careful when you add or subtract or figure items on a form or worksheet.  Tax preparation software does all the math for e-filers.
  5. Errors in figuring credits or deductions.  Many filers make mistakes figuring their Earned Income Credit, Child and Dependent Care Credit, and the standard deduction.  If you’re not e-filing, follow the instructions carefully when figuring credits and deductions.  For example, if you’re age 65 or older or blind, be sure you claim the correct, higher standard deduction.
  6. Wrong bank account numbers.  You should choose to get your refund by direct deposit.  But it’s important that you use the right bank and account numbers on your return.  The fastest and safest way to get a tax refund is to combine e-file with direct deposit.
  7. Forms not signed or dated.  An unsigned tax return is like an unsigned check – it’s not valid.  Remember that both spouses must sign a joint return.
  8. Electronic filing PIN errors.  When you e-file, you sign your return electronically with a Personal Identification Number.  If you know last year’s e-file PIN, you can use that.  If not, you’ll need to enter the Adjusted Gross Income from your originally-filed 2012 federal tax return.  Don’t use the AGI amount from an amended 2012 return or a 2012 return that the IRS corrected.
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Capital Gains and Losses and Your Tax Return

AlistairDarling

AlistairDarling (Photo credit: StCartmail)

When you own certain kinds of assets and you sell them, you may incur a capital gain or loss that is applicable to your income tax preparation.  If the original purchase price plus applicable expenses associated with the asset (known as the basis) is less than the proceeds that you receive from the sale of the asset, you have incurred a capital gain.  On the other hand, if the basis of your asset is greater than the proceeds from the sale, you have incurred a capital loss.

Capital gains are taxable to you, using a separate tax rate – and capital losses can be deducted from your capital gains for the year.  Excess capital losses (above your capital gains for the year) can be used to reduce your income by up to $3,000 per year, carried forward until used up (or for your lifetime).

The IRS recently produced their Tax Tip 2014-27 which lists ten facts about capital gains and losses that you may find useful as you prepare your tax return.  The text of the actual Tip is below:

Ten Facts about Capital Gains and Losses

When you sell a ‘capital asset,’ the sale usually results in a capital gain or loss.  A ‘capital asset’ includes most property you own and use for personal or investment purposes.  Here are 10 facts from the IRS on capital gains and losses:

  1. Capital assets include property such as your home or car.  They also include investment property such as stocks and bonds.
  2. A capital gain or loss is the difference between your basis and the amount you get when you sell an asset.  Your basis is usually what you paid for the asset.
  3. You must include all capital gains in your income.  Beginning in 2013, you may be subject to the Net Investment Income Tax.  The NIIT applies at a rate of 3.8% to certain net investment income of individuals, estates, and trusts that have income above statutory threshold amounts.  For details see www.IRS.gov/aca.
  4. You can deduct capital losses on the sale of investment property.  You can’t deduct losses on the sale of personal-use property.
  5. Capital gains and losses are either long-term or short-term, depending on how long you held the property.  If you held the property for more than one year, your gain or loss is long-term.  If you held it one year or less, the gain or loss is short-term.
  6. If your long-term gains are more than your long-term losses, the difference between the two is a net long-term capital gain.  If your net long-term capital gain is more than your short-term capital loss, you have a ‘net capital gain’.
  7. The tax rates that apply to net capital gains will usually depend on your income.  For lower-income individuals, the rate may be zero percent on some or all of their net capital gains.  In 2013, the maximum net capital gain tax rate increased from 15 to 20 percent.  A 25 or 28 percent tax rate can also apply to special types of net capital gains.
  8. If your capital losses are more than your capital gains, you can deduct the difference as a loss on your tax return.  This loss is limited to $3,000 per year, or $1,500 if you are married and file a separate tax return.
  9. If your total net capital loss is more than the limit you can deduct, you can carry over the losses you are not able to deduct to next year’s tax return.  You will treat those losses as if they happened that year.
  10. You must file Form 8949, Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets, with your federal tax return to report your gains and losses.  You also need to file Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses with your return.

For more information about this topic, see the Schedule D instructions and Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses.  They’re both available on www.IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

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Simplified Home-Office Deduction Available

home office

home office (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Beginning with your 2013 tax return you have a new option available for calculating the Home-Office deduction – based solely on the square footage of the dedicated space used for the home office.

Instead of having to maintain records that are directly and indirectly associated with your home office, you can use the simplified method, which applies a flat $5 rate per square foot to the home office space, up to a maximum of $1,500.

The record-keeping and tax preparation simplification is very beneficial: Form 8829 (the usual home-office deduction form) can cause a lot of headaches to prepare, especially if you have more than one home office and you itemize your home mortgage interest and real estate taxes.  For a single home office your tax preparation software will do much of the work for you, but complications like a second home office (not that uncommon in these days of officing-at-home) it can be complex.

Unfortunately, in my experience working with tax returns so far this season, it seems that the simplified method often results in a smaller home-office deduction than the old method.  With the simplified method you get the option to deduct your full real estate taxes and home mortgage interest above and beyond the home office deduction, whereas the old method required you to apportion these expenses between business and personal.  If the new method appeals to you, it is much simpler than gathering all the records and figuring out how to correctly fill out the forms.

The IRS recently issued their a news release, IR-2014-24, which details information about the simplified deduction.

Reminder To Home-Based Businesses: Simplified Option for Claiming Home Office Deduction Now Available; May Deduct up to $1,500; Saves 1.6 Million Hours A Year

Washington – The Internal Revenue Service today reminded people with home-based businesses that this year for the first time they can choose a new simplified option for claiming the deduction for business use of a home.

In tax year 2011, the most recent year for which figures are available, some 3.3 million taxpayers claimed deductions for business use of a home (commonly referred to as the home office deduction) totaling nearly $10 million.

The new optional deduction, capped at $1,500 per year based on $5 a square foot for up to 300 square feet, will reduce the paperwork and recordkeeping burden on small businesses by an estimated 1.6 million hours annually.

The new options is available starting with the 2013 return taxpayers are filing now.  Normally, home-based businesses are required to fill out a 43-line form (Form 8829) often with complex calculations of allocated expenses, depreciation and carryovers of unused deductions.  Instead, taxpayers claiming the optional deduction need only complete a short worksheet in the tax instructions and enter the result on their return.  Self-employed individuals claim eht home office deduction on Schedule C Line 30, farmers claim it on Schedule F Line 32, and eligible employees claim it on Schedule A Line 21.

Though some homeowners using the new option cannot depreciate the portion of their home used in a trade or business, they can claim allowable mortgage interest, real estate taxes and casualty losses on the home as itemized deductions on Schedule A.  These deductions need not be allocated between personal and business use, as is required under the regular method.

Business expenses unrelated to the home, such as advertising, supplies and wages paid to employees, are still fully deductible.

Long-standing restrictions on the home office deduction, such as the requirement that a home office be used regularly and exclusively for business and the limit tied to the income derived from the particular business, still apply under the new option.

Further details on the home office deduction and the new option can be found in Publication 587, posted on www.IRS.gov.

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Further Guidance on the One-Rollover-Per-Year Rule for IRAs


As a follow-up to the recent post on this blog The One-Rollover-Per-Year Rule: Revised, the IRS has recently released some additional guidance on the subject, via Announcement 2014-15.

As previously mentioned, the IRS has determined to begin using the one-rollover-per-year rule applied to ALL IRAs that the taxpayer owns, rather than only the affected IRAs that have been involved in a rollover.

According to the Announcement, the IRS fully acknowledges that the previous understanding of the rule was that it applied on an IRA-by-IRA basis.  In fact, there was a Proposed Regulation § 1.408-4(b)(4)(ii) on the books that was to further define the rule as applied only to the involved IRAs.  Ever since the Tax Court decided otherwise in the case Bobrow v. Commissioner (TC Memo 2014-21), the rule has been changed.

According to the recent announcement though, this will not take affect across the board until January 1, 2015.  Prior to that date, presumably, the old interpretation will be used, except, apparently, for Mr. Bobrow’s case (and any further cases that might be tried by the Tax Court).

Can You Itemize? Or, Should You Itemize?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When you prepare your taxes each year, you’re faced with a decision – itemize deductions or take the standard deduction?  Most of the time it’s not a question of whether you can itemize, but rather should you itemize.

Most Anyone Can Itemize…

This is due to the fact that most anyone can itemize.  If you’ve paid state and/or local income or sales taxes, real estate taxes, or paid mortgage interest, you have deductions to itemize.  Same goes for charitable contributions.  All of these items that you’ve paid out are eligible to be deducted on Schedule A of your tax return, without a lower limit.

If you have medical expenses, these can be deductible if the total of your medical expenses are more than 10% of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).  For 2013 tax returns, if you’re 65 years of age or older, your medical expenses that are more than 7.5% of your AGI will be deductible.

In addition, certain job expenses and other miscellaneous expenses, such as tax preparation expenses, safe deposit box rental, and the like, can be deductible to the extent that they exceed 2% of your AGI.

If you’ve paid out any of these expenses during the tax year, you can itemize.  That doesn’t mean that you should itemize, though.

… But Should You Itemize?

So you’ve determined that you have deductible expenses and you can itemize – let’s look at reasons why you should itemize.

The initial answer is really rather simple – if the total of all the deductible items that you’ve found to put on your Schedule A is greater than your applicable Standard Deduction, then you probably should itemize.  The Standard Deduction is based upon your Filing Status (2013 figures):

Filing Status Standard Deduction Over Age 65 or Blind, per Person
Single $6,100 + $1,500
Married Filing Jointly $12,200 + $1,200
Head of Household $8,950 + $1,500
Married Filing Separately* $6,100 + $1,200
Qualifying Widow(er) $12,200 + $1,200

If someone else claims you as a dependent on his or her tax return, your Standard Deduction is the lesser of $1,000 or earned income plus $350, up to the normal Standard Deduction for your filing status.

If your deductions amount to less than the Standard Deduction for your filing status, don’t despair.  It’s not as if being able to itemize your deductions is some sort of bonus – it’s actually the other way around.  You see, if you have more deductions when itemizing than the Standard Deduction, that means you had to pay out that money during the year.  On the other hand, if you had fewer itemized deductions (or no deductions to itemize), you’re getting to reduce your taxable income by the Standard Deduction without having to pay out that money!

Now there is at least one circumstance when you’re required to itemize your deductions, and we’ll cover that next.

Or, Do You Have to Itemize?

*If you and your spouse file separate returns with filing status of Married Filing Separately and your spouse itemizes deductions on Schedule A, you are also required to itemize your deductions on Schedule A, or take a Standard Deduction of $0.

Wrapping it up

You can always choose to itemize your deductions even if they are less than the Standard Deduction for your filing status. You only need to mark the box on Line 30 of Schedule A.  You might want to do this if it would somehow benefit your state income tax, for example.

Lastly – the only way to itemize deductions is by also filing your tax return on Form 1040.  If you choose to use either Form 1040A or Form 1040EZ, you are not eligible to itemize your deductions.  If you use tax return preparation software (or your qualified preparer does) the decision will be made for you, more than likely.

The IRS Releases Their “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams for 2014

Image courtesy of chanpipat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of chanpipat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Each year the IRS puts together a list of the tax scams that are most pervasive to taxpayers, which they refer to as the “Dirty Dozen”.  There has only been a couple of changes to the list this year, most specifically the addition of “pervasive telephone scams”, introduced as #2 on the list this year, and combining “false Form 1099 claims” (on both 2012 & 2013’s list) with “falsely claiming zero wages”.  Identity theft, which is a major issue in the tax return world, tops the list again this year after having first appeared on the list in 2013.  I’ve included the rankings for each item for 2012 and 2013 within the 2014 list below, for your reference.

This list is from IRS’ Special Edition Tax Tip 2014-08.

Don’t Fall for the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams

Every year, people fall prey to tax scams.  That’s why the IRS sends a list of its annual “Dirty Dozen”.  We want you to be safe and informed – and not become a victim.

Taxpayers who get involved in illegal tax scams can lose their money, or face stiff penalties, interest and even criminal prosecution.  Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Be on the lookout for these scams.

  1. Identity theft.  (2013: #1; 2012: not on the list) Tax fraud using identity theft tops this year’s Dirty Dozen list.  In many cases, and identity thief uses a taxpayer’s identity to illegally file a tax return and claim a refund.  For the 2014 filing season, the IRS has expanded efforts to better protect taxpayers and help victims.  Fide more information on the identity protection page on www.IRS.gov.
  2. Pervasive telephone scams.  (2013: not on the list; 2012: not on the list) The IRS has seen an increase in local phone scams across the country.  Callers pretend to be from the IRS in hopes of stealing money or identities from victims.  If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS – and you know you owe taxes or think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.  If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe taxes, then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.
  3. Phishing. (2013: #2; 2012: #2) Phishing scams typically use unsolicited emails or fake websites that appear legitimate.  Scammers lure in victims and prompt them to provide their personal and financial information.  The fact is that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.  This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.
  4. False promises of “free money” from inflated refunds.  (2013: #5; 2012: #5) The bottom line is that you are legally responsible for what’s on your tax return, even if someone else prepares it.  Scam artists often pose as tax preparers during tax time, luring victims in by promising large tax refunds.  Taxpayers who buy into such schemes can end up penalized for filing false claims or receiving fraudulent refunds.  Take care when choosing someone to do your taxes.
  5. Return preparer fraud. (2013: #3; 2012: #3) About 60 percent of taxpayers will use tax professionals this year to prepare their tax returns.  Most return preparers provide honest service to their clients.  But some dishonest preparers prey on unsuspecting taxpayers, and the result can be refund fraud or identity theft.  Choose carefully when hiring an individual or a company to do your tax return.  Only use a tax preparer that will sign your return and enter their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). For tips about choosing a preparer, visit www.irs.gov/chooseataxpro.
  6. Hiding income offshore. (2013: #4; 2012: #4) While there are valid reasons for maintaining financial accounts abroad, there are reporting requirements.  U.S. taxpayers who maintain such accounts and do not comply with these requirements are breaking the law.  They risk large penalties and fines, as well as the possibility of criminal prosecution.  The IRS has collected billions of dollars in back taxes, interest and penalties from people who participated in offshore voluntary disclosure programs since 2009.  It is in the best interest of taxpayers to come forward and pay their fair share of taxes.
  7. Impersonation of charitable organizations. (2013: #6; 2012: #10) Taxpayers need to be sure they donate to recognized charities. Following major disasters, it’s common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or personal information from well-intentioned people.  They may even directly contact disaster victims and claim to be working with the IRS to help the victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds.
  8. False income, expenses or exemptions. (2013: #7; 2012: #6) Falsely claiming income you did not earn or expenses you did not pay in order to get larger refundable tax credits is tax fraud. This includes false claims for the Earned Income Tax Credit. These taxpayers often end up repaying the refund, including penalties and interest for facing criminal prosecution.
  9. Frivolous arguments. (2013: #9; 2012: #8) Frivolous schemes encourage taxpayers to make unreasonable and outlandish claims to avoid paying the taxes they owe.  The IRS has a list of frivolous tax arguments that taxpayers should avoid.  While taxpayers have the right to contest their tax liabilities in court, no one has the right to disobey the law or ignore their responsibility to pay taxes.
  10. Falsely claiming zero wages or using false Form 1099. (2013: #10 & #8; 2012: #9 & #7) Filing false information with the IRS is an illegal way to try to lower the amount of taxes owed.  Typically, fraudsters use a Form 4852 (Substitute Form W-2) or a “corrected” Form 1099 as a way to improperly reduce taxable income to zero.  The fraudster may also submit a false statement denying wages and taxes reported by a payer to the IRS.
  11. Abusive tax structures. (2013: #11; 2012: #11) These abusive tax schemes often involve sham business entities and dishonest financial arrangements for the purpose of evading taxes.  The schemes are usually complex and involve multi-layer transactions to conceal the true nature and ownership of the taxable income and assets.  The schemes often use Limited Liability Companies, Limited Liability Partnerships, International Business Companies, foreign financial accounts and offshore credit/debit cards.
  12. Misuse of trusts. (2013: #12; 2012: #12) There are reasonable uses of trusts in tax and estate planning.  However, questionable transactions also exist.  They may promise reduced taxable income, inflated deductions for personal expenses, the reduction or elimination of self-employment taxes and reduced estate or gift transfer taxes.  These trusts rarely deliver promised tax benefits.  They primarily avoid taxes and hide assets from creditors, including the IRS.

Tax scams can take many forms beyond the “Dirty Dozen”.  The best defense is to remain vigilant.  Get more information on tax scams at www.IRS.gov.

Your Social Security Benefits: Are They Taxable?

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’re receiving Social Security benefits, either for disability, retirement, or survivor’s benefits, when you file your tax return you will need to figure out if the benefits you’ve received during the prior year are taxable to you.

You’ll receive a Form SSA-1099 from Social Security sometime in the first months of the year, showing what your benefits were in the prior year, as well as any deductions that were made throughout the year – including Medicare premiums (Part B and/or Part D) if applicable, and federal income taxes withheld.

But are the benefits taxable to you?  At most, 85% of your benefit might be taxed – and it’s possible that none of your benefit is taxable, all dependent upon your total income for the year.  See this article for a detailed explanation of How Taxation of Social Security Benefits Works.  The IRS recently published their Tax Tip 2014-23, which details some facts about taxability of Social Security benefits.  The actual text of the Tip is below:

Are Your Social Security Benefits Taxable?

Some people must pay taxes on part of their Social Security benefits.  Others find that their benefits aren’t taxable.  If you get Social Security, the IRS can help you determine if some of your benefits are taxable.

Here are seven tips about how Social Security affects your taxes:

  1. If you received these benefits in 2013, you should have received a Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, showing the amount.
  2. If Social Security was your only sources of income in 2013, your benefits may not be taxable.  You also may not need to file a federal income tax return.
  3. If you get income from other sources, then you may have to pay taxes on some of your benefits.
  4. Your income and filing status affect whether you must pay taxes on your Social Security.
  5. The best, and free, way to find out if your benefits are taxable is to use IRS Free File to prepare and e-file your tax return.  If you made $58,000 or less, you can use Free File tax software.  the software will figure the taxable benefits for you.  If your income was more than $58,000 and you feel comfortable doing your own taxes, use Free File Fillable Forms.  Free File is available only at www.IRS.gov/freefile.
  6. If you file a paper return, visit www.IRS.gov and use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool to see if any of your benefits are taxable.
  7. A quick way to find out if any of your benefits may be taxable is to add one-half of your Social Security benefits to all your other income, including any tax-exempt interest.  Next, compare this total to the base amounts below.  If your total is more than the base amount for your filing status, then some of your benefits may be taxable.  The three base amounts are:
    • $25,000 – for single, head of household, qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child or married individuals filing separately who did not live with their spouse at any time during the year.
    • $32,000 – for married couples filing jointly
    • $0 – for married persons filing separately who lived together at any time during the year.

For more on this topic visit www.IRS.gov.

Get Your Kids to Help You With Your Taxes

Sometimes as parents we get overwhelmed with the costs of raising kids.  What with the high cost of soccer camp, video games, and lessons on the clarinet, it can be woefully expensive raising kids.

Sometimes though, there are surprising ways that kids can help out with costs – and your income taxes is one of those places where having kids does help.  The IRS recently published their Tax Tip 2014-11 which lists eight ways that having children can help to lower your taxes.

The actual text of Tax Tip 2014-11 follows:

Eight Tax Savers for Parents

Your children may help you qualify for valuable tax benefits.  Here are eight tax benefits parents should look out for when filing their federal tax returns this year.

  1. Dependents. In most cases, you can claim your child as a dependent.  This applies even if your child was born any time in 2013.  for more details, see Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information.
  2. Child Tax Credit. You may be able to claim the Child Tax Credit for each of your qualifying children under the age of 17 at the end of 2013.  The maximum credit is $1,000 per child.  If you get less than the full amount of the credit, you may be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit.  For more about both credits, see the instructions for Schedule 8812, Child Tax Credit, and Publication 972, Child Tax Credit.
  3. Child and Dependent Care Credit. You may be able to claim this credit if you paid someone to care for one or more qualifying persons.  Your dependent child or children under age 13 are among those who are qualified. You must have paid for care so you could work or look for work.  For more, see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
  4. Earned Income Tax Credit.  If you worked but earned less than $51,567 last year, you may qualify for EITC.  If you have three qualifying children, you may get up to $6,044 as EITC when you file and claim it on your tax return.  Use the EITC Assistant tool at www.IRS.gov to find out if you qualify or see Publication 596, Earned Income Tax Credit.
  5. Adoption Credit. You may be able to claim a tax credit for certain expenses you paid to adopt a child.  For details, see the instructions for Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses.
  6. Higher education credits. If you paid for higher education for yourself or an immediate family member, you may qualify for either of two education tax credits.  Both the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit may reduce the amount of tax you owe.  If the American Opportunity Credit is more than the tax you owe, you could be eligible for a refund up to $1,000.  See Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.
  7. Student loan interest. You may be able to deduct interest you paid on a qualified student loan, even if you don’t itemize deductions on your tax return. For more information, see Publication 970.
  8. Self-employed health insurance deduction. If you were self-employed and paid for health insurance, you may be able to deduct premiums you paid to cover your child under the Affordable Care Act. It appies to children under age 27 at the end of the year, even if not your dependent.  See Notice 2010-38 for information.

Where to get IRS Forms and Publications

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When you are preparing your taxes, inevitably you run across a form or publication that you need in order to complete your filing.  But where can you find all these forms and publications?

The IRS recently published their Tax Tip 2014-06, which details information about where you can find these forms and publications.  The actual text of the Tip follows below.

Four Ways to Get IRS Forms and Publications

The IRS offers free tax forms and publications on many topics.  Here are four easy ways to get the tax products you need from the IRS:

  1. On the Internet.  Get everything you need 24 hours a day 7 days a week on www.IRS.gov. To view and download tax products, click on the ‘Forms and Pubs’ tab.  Many products appear online before they’re available on paper.
  2. Order by phone.  Call 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676) Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time.  Hours of service in Alaska and Hawaii follow Pacific Time.  You’ll typically receive your order by mail within 7 to 10 days.
  3. In IRS Offices.  Get the tax products you need at IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers across the country.  Visit www.IRS.gov to find the nearest IRS Center.  Select the ‘Help and Resources’ tab, and then click on ‘Contact Your Local IRS Office.’ Use the ‘Office Locator’ tool to search for the closest office by zip code.  You can also select your state for a list of offices and services available at each office.
  4. In Your Community.  Many libraries and post offices offer free tax forms during the tax filing season.  Some libraries also have copies of common IRS publications.
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