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As the 2019 tax filing season gets into full swing, the Internal Revenue Servicereminds taxpayers who owe, of the many easy payment options.
The IRS anticipates that most taxpayers will be affected by major tax law changes. While most will get a tax refund, others may find that they owe taxes, many of whom may qualify for a waiver of the estimated tax penalty that normally applies.
“The IRS understands there were many changes that affected people last year, and the new penalty waiver will help taxpayers who inadvertently had too little tax withheld,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We encourage people to check their withholding again this year to make sure they have the right amount of tax withheld for 2019.”
The IRS urges people with a filing requirement and a balance due to file by the April 15 deadline even if they cannot pay in full. Taxpayers in this situation should pay what they can and consider a payment plan for the remaining balance.
Taxpayers who owe taxes can choose among the following payment options:
IRS Direct Pay allows payment directly from a checking or savings account. This service is free.Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or EFTPS. Pay by phone or online. This service is free.Debit or credit card payment. This service is free, but the processing company may charge a fee. Fees vary by company.Check or money order made payable to the United States Treasury (or U.S. Treasury) either in person or through the mail.Cash payments at some IRS offices or at a participating PayNearMe location. Some restrictions apply. Taxpayers should not send cash through the mail.
Taxpayers who are unable to pay their taxes in full should act quickly. Several payment options are available including:
Online Payment Agreement — Individuals who owe $50,000 or less in combined income tax, penalties and interest and businesses that owe $25,000 or less in payroll tax and have filed all tax returns may qualify for an Online Payment Agreement. Most taxpayers qualify for this option, and an agreement can usually be set up in a matter of minutes. Online applications to establish tax payment plans, like online payment agreements and installment agreements, are available Monday – Friday, 6 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.; Saturday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 6 p.m. to midnight. All times are Eastern time.Installment Agreement — Installment agreements paid by direct deposit from a bank account or a payroll deduction will help taxpayers avoid default on their agreements. It also reduces the burden of mailing payments and saves postage costs. Even taxpayers who don’t qualify for a payment agreement may still pay by installment. Certain fees apply.Delaying Collection — If the IRS determines a taxpayer is unable to pay, it may delay collection until the taxpayer's financial condition improves.Offer in Compromise — Certain taxpayers qualify to settle their tax bill for less than the amount they owe by submitting an offer in compromise. To help determine eligibility, use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool.
In addition, taxpayers can consider other options for payment, including getting a loan to pay the amount due. In many cases, loan costs may be lower than the combination of interest and penalties the IRS must charge under federal law.
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The IRS issues more than 9 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.
Our phone and walk-in representatives can research the status of your refund if it's been 21 days or more since you filed electronically, more than 6 weeks since you mailed your paper return or if Where’s My Refund? directs you to contact us.
You can use Where’s My Refund? to start checking on the status of your return within 24 hours after we have received your e-filed return or 4 weeks after you mail a paper return. Where’s My Refund? has a tracker that displays progress through 3 stages: (1) Return Received, (2) Refund Approved and (3) Refund Sent.
You will get personalized refund information based on the processing of your tax return. The tool will provide an actual refund date as soon as the IRS processes your tax return and approves your refund.
Direct Deposit
Join the eight in 10 taxpayers who get their refunds faster by using e-file and direct deposit. It's the safest, fastest way to receive your refund and is also easy to use. Just select it as your refund method through your tax software and type in the account number and routing number. Or, tell your tax preparer you want direct deposit. You can even use direct deposit if you are one of the few people still filing by paper. Be sure to double check your entry to avoid errors.
Your refund should only be deposited directly into accounts that are in your own name; your spouse’s name or both if it’s a joint account. No more than three electronic refunds can be deposited into a single financial account or pre-paid debit card. Taxpayers who exceed the limit will receive an IRS notice and a paper refund.
Whether you file electronically or on paper, direct deposit gives you access to your refund faster than a paper check.
Form 1042-S, Foreign Person's U.S. Source Income
Subject to WithholdingIf you requested a refund of tax withheld on a Form 1042-S by filing a Form 1040NR, we will need additional time to process the return. Please allow up to 6 months from the original due date of the 1040NR return or the date you actually filed the 1040NR, whichever is later to receive any refund due.
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The Internal Revenue Service announced that it is waiving the estimated tax penalty for many taxpayers whose 2018 federal income tax withholding and estimated tax payments fell short of their total tax liability for the year.
The IRS is generally waiving the penalty for any taxpayer who paid at least 85 percent of their total tax liability during the year through federal income tax withholding, quarterly estimated tax payments or a combination of the two. The usual percentage threshold is 90 percent to avoid a penalty.
The waiver computation will be integrated into commercially-available tax software and reflected in the forthcoming revision of Form 2210 and instructions.
This relief is designed to help taxpayers who were unable to properly adjust their withholding and estimated tax payments to reflect an array of changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the far-reaching tax reform law enacted in December 2017.
“We realize there were many changes that affected people last year, and this penalty waiver will help taxpayers who inadvertently didn’t have enough tax withheld,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We urge people to check their withholding again this year to make sure they are having the right amount of tax withheld for 2019.”
The updated federal tax withholding tables, released in early 2018, largely reflected the lower tax rates and the increased standard deduction brought about by the new law. This generally meant taxpayers had less tax withheld in 2018 and saw more in their paychecks.
However, the withholding tables couldn’t fully factor in other changes, such as the suspension of dependency exemptions and reduced itemized deductions. As a result, some taxpayers could have paid too little tax during the year, if they did not submit a properly-revised W-4 withholding form to their employer or increase their estimated tax payments. The IRS and partner groups conducted an extensive outreach and education campaign throughout 2018 to encourage taxpayers to do a “Paycheck Checkup” to avoid a situation where they had too much or too little tax withheld when they file their tax returns.
Although most 2018 tax filers are still expected to get refunds, some taxpayers will unexpectedly owe additional tax when they file their returns.
Additional Information
Because the U.S. tax system is pay-as-you-go, taxpayers are required, by law, to pay most of their tax obligation during the year, rather than at the end of the year. This can be done by either having tax withheld from paychecks or pension payments, or by making estimated tax payments.
Usually, a penalty applies at tax filing if too little is paid during the year.
Normally, the penalty would not apply for 2018 if tax payments during the year met one of the following tests:
The person’s tax payments were at least 90 percent of the tax liability for 2018 or The person’s tax payments were at least 100 percent of the prior year’s tax liability, in this case from 2017. However, the 100 percent threshold is increased to 110 percent if a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income is more than $150,000, or $75,000 if married and filing a separate return. For waiver purposes only, today’s relief lowers the 90 percent threshold to 85 percent. This means that a taxpayer will not owe a penalty if they paid at least 85 percent of their total 2018 tax liability. If the taxpayer paid less than 85 percent, then they are not eligible for the waiver and the penalty will be calculated as it normally would be, using the 90 percent threshold.
Like last year, the IRS urges everyone to check their withholding for 2019. This is especially important for anyone now facing an unexpected tax bill when they file. This is also an important step for those who made withholding adjustments in 2018 or had a major life change to ensure the right tax is still being withheld. Those most at risk of having too little tax withheld from their pay include taxpayers who itemized in the past but now take the increased standard deduction, as well as two-wage-earner households, employees with nonwage sources of income and those with complex tax situations.
To help taxpayers get their withholding right in 2019, an updated version of the agency’s online is now available on IRS.gov. With tax season starting Jan. 28, the IRS reminds taxpayers it’s never too early to get ready for the tax-filing season ahead. While it’s a good idea any year, starting early in 2019 is particularly important as most tax filers adjust to the revised tax rates, deductions and credits.
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Data thieves don’t take a break during the holidays. In fact, the IRS warns taxpayers that the agency is seeing a large increase in bogus email schemes that seek to steal money or tax data.
The most common way for cybercriminals to steal money, bank account information, passwords, credit cards and Social Security numbers is to simply ask for them. Every day, people fall victim to phishing scams or phone scams that cost them their time and their cash.
Here are a few steps taxpayers can take to protect against phishing and other email scams. When reading emails, people should:
Be vigilant and skeptical. Never open a link or attachment from an unknown or suspicious source. Even if the email is from a known source, the recipient should approach with caution. Cybercrooks are good at acting like trusted businesses, friends and family. This even includes the IRS and others in the tax business.
Double check the email address. Thieves may have compromised a friend’s email address. They might also be spoofing the address with a slight change in text. For example, using
narne@example.com
instead of name@example.com. Merely changing the “m” to an “r” and “n” can trick people.
Remember that the IRS doesn't initiate spontaneous contact with taxpayers by email to ask for personal or financial information. This includes asking for information via text messages and social media channels. The IRS does not call taxpayers with aggressive threats of lawsuits or arrests.Not click on hyperlinks in suspicious emails. When in doubt, users should not use hyperlinks and go directly to the source’s main web page. They should also remember that no legitimate business or organization will ask for sensitive financial information by email.Use security software to protect against malware and viruses found in phishing emails. Some security software can help identity suspicious websites that are used by cybercriminals.Use strong passwords to protect online accounts. Experts recommend the use of a passphrase, instead of a password, use a minimum of 10 digits, including letters, numbers and special characters.Use multi-factor authentication when offered. Two-factor authentication means that in addition to entering a username and password, the user must enter a security code This code is usually sent as a text to the user’s mobile phone. Even if a thief manages to steal usernames and passwords, it’s unlikely the crook would also have a victim’s phone.
Report phishing scams. Taxpayers can forward suspicious emails to phishing@irs.gov.
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The Internal Revenue Service issued guidance today on the business expense deduction for meals and entertainment following law changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).
The 2017 TCJA eliminated the deduction for any expenses related to activities generally considered entertainment, amusement or recreation.
Taxpayers may continue to deduct 50 percent of the cost of business meals if the taxpayer (or an employee of the taxpayer) is present and the food or beverages are not considered lavish or extravagant. The meals may be provided to a current or potential business customer, client, consultant or similar business contact.
Food and beverages that are provided during entertainment events will not be considered entertainment if purchased separately from the event.
Prior to 2018, a business could deduct up to 50 percent of entertainment expenses directly related to the active conduct of a trade or business or, if incurred immediately before or after a bona fide business discussion, associated with the active conduct of a trade or business.
The Department of the Treasury and the IRS expect to publish proposed regulations clarifying when business meal expenses are deductible and what constitutes entertainment.
Until the proposed regulations are effective, taxpayers can rely on guidance in Notice 2018-76.
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Individual Retirement Arrangements – better known simply as IRAs – are accounts into which someone can deposit money to provide financial security when they retire. A taxpayer can set up an IRA with a:
bank or other financial institutionlife insurance companymutual fundstockbroker
Here are some terms and definitions related to IRAs to help people learn more about how the arrangements work:
Traditional IRA: Contributions to a traditional IRA may be tax-deductible. The amounts in a traditional IRA are not generally taxed until you take them out of the account.
Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees: commonly known as a SIMPLE IRA. It allows employees and employers to contribute to traditional IRAs set up for employees. It is ideal as a start-up retirement savings plan for small employers not currently sponsoring a retirement plan.
Simplified Employee Pension: Better known simply as an SEP-IRA, it is a written plan that allows an employer to make contributions toward their own retirement and their employees' retirement without getting involved in a more complex qualified plan. An SEP is owned and controlled by the employee.
ROTH IRA: An IRA that is subject to the same rules as a traditional IRA with certain exceptions. For example, a taxpayer cannot deduct contributions to a Roth IRA. However, if the IRA owner satisfies certain requirements, qualified distributions are tax-free.
Contribution: The amount of money someone puts into their IRA. There are limits to the amount that someone can put into their IRA annually. These limits are based on the age of the IRA holder and the type of IRA they have.
Distribution: Essentially a withdrawal. This is the amount someone takes out from their IRA.
Required distribution: A taxpayer cannot keep retirement funds in their account indefinitely. Someone with an IRA generally must start taking withdrawals from their IRA when they reach age 70½. Roth IRAs do not require withdrawals until after the death of the owner.
Rollover: This is when the IRA owner receives a payment from retirement plan and deposits it into a different IRA within 60 days.
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Clarification for business taxpayers: Payments under state or local tax credit programs may be deductible as business expenses.
Business taxpayers who make business-related payments to charities or government entities for which the taxpayers receive state or local tax credits can generally deduct the payments as business expenses, the Internal Revenue Service said today.
Responding to taxpayer inquiries, the IRS clarified that this general deductibility rule is unaffected by the recent notice of proposed rule making concerning the availability of a charitable contribution deduction for contributions pursuant to such programs. The business expense deduction is available to any business taxpayer, regardless of whether it is doing business as a sole proprietor, partnership or corporation, as long as the payment qualifies as an ordinary and necessary business expense. Therefore, businesses generally can still deduct business-related payments in full as a business expense on their federal income tax return.
Updates on the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) can be found on the Tax Reform page of IRS.gov.
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The Internal Revenue Service issued proposed regulations today for a new provision allowing many owners of sole proprietorships, partnerships, trusts and S corporations to deduct 20 percent of their qualified business income.
The new deduction -- referred to as the Section 199A deduction or the deduction for qualified business income -- was created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The deduction is available for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017. Eligible taxpayers can claim it for the first time on the 2018 federal income tax return they file next year.
The deduction is generally available to eligible taxpayers whose 2018 taxable incomes fall below $315,000 for joint returns and $157,500 for other taxpayers. It’s generally equal to the lesser of 20 percent of their qualified business income plus 20 percent of their qualified real estate investment trust dividends and qualified publicly traded partnership income or 20 percent of taxable income minus net capital gains.
Deductions for taxpayers above the $157,500/$315,000 taxable income thresholds may be limited. Those limitations are fully described in the proposed regulations.
Qualified business income includes domestic income from a trade or business. Employee wages, capital gain, interest and dividend income are excluded.
In addition, Notice 2018-64, also issued today, provides methods for calculating Form W-2 wages for purposes of the limitations on this deduction. More information in the form of FAQs on Section 199A can be found on IRS.gov.
Taxpayers may rely on the rules in these proposed regulations until final regulations are published in the Federal Register. Written or electronic comments and requests for a public hearing on this proposed regulation must be received within 45 days of publication in the Federal Register.
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The IRS is working on implementing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). This major tax legislation will affect individuals, businesses, tax exempt and government entities.The IRS is working on implementing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). This major tax legislation will affect individuals, businesses, tax exempt and government entities.
Whether you are a small or large business, tax reform may affect your company.
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Move-related vehicle expense The new law suspends the deduction for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017, through Jan. 1, 2026. During the suspension, no deduction is allowed for use of an auto as part of a move using the mileage rate listed in IRS Notice 2018-03.
This does not apply to members of the Armed Forces on active duty who move related to a permanent change of station.
Unreimbursed employee expenses The Act also suspends all miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2 percent of adjusted gross income floor. This change affects unreimbursed employee expenses such as uniforms, union dues and the deduction for business-related meals, entertainment and travel.
Standard mileage rates for 2018 The standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck for 2018 remain:
54.5 cents for every mile of business travel driven, a 1 cent increase from 2017.18 cents per mile driven for medical purposes, a 1 cent increase from 2017.14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations, which is set by statute and remains unchanged.
Increased depreciation limits The recent legislation also increases the depreciation limitations for passenger autos placed in service after Dec. 31, 2017, for purposes of computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan. The maximum standard automobile cost may not exceed $50,000 for passenger automobiles, trucks and vans placed in service after Dec. 31, 2017.
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