Tag: IRS


“Worst Filing Season Ever” Predicted For Taxpayers

November 5th, 2014 — 12:17pm
dont pull your hair out 300x208 Worst Filing Season Ever Predicted For Taxpayers

I just got hung up on by the IRS…again!

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen recently suggested that the 2015 tax filing season could be misery for taxpayers and IRS employees alike. Between extensive wait times to speak to a representative, implemented laws that have not yet been reflected in the tax code and congressional gridlock, this may be the worst tax season on record.

“The filing season is going to be the worst filing season since I’ve been the National Taxpayer Advocate [in 2001]…” said National Taxpayer advocated Nina Olson.  “…I’d love to be proved wrong, but I think it will rival the 1985 filing season when returns disappeared.”

The major obstacles for this year are as follows:

  • The IRS budget has been slashed.  While the House has tried to reduce the budget, the Senate has proposed to increase the budget by $240 Million.  Even in the slim chance that it passes, that increase would still amount to a 7% decrease to the IRS’ 2010 budget.
  • Multiple laws congress has passed, the IRS has yet to implement into its systems.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA), The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA) and other laws require information from health care providers and other agencies in order to process tax returns correctly…and that is before the antiquated computer systems of the IRS have to be updated
  • The uncertainty surrounding “Tax Extenders”; multiple tax laws that either need to be extended, adjusted and/or replaced.  There are currently over 50 of them.  If these laws are not addressed before December, the tax season itself could be delayed

Until all these issues are resolved, you can expect extra long waits and dropped calls at the IRS like last year when nearly half of the phone calls to the IRS went unanswered.

With all this uncertainty, if there was ever  year to have the help of a qualified tax professional, this is it. Contact R&G Brenner today to find out how we can help you.  “Saving you time and money is what we’re all about”.

Source: Forbes

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October 15 Tax Extension Deadline

October 14th, 2014 — 10:33am
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Tick-Tock, The Deadline Approaches

The deadline to submit 2013 tax returns to the IRS for taxpayers who elected to file extensions is Wednesday, October 15th.  Failure to do so may result in the penalties and interest assessed on due taxes.  Please note, that if you did not file your taxes yet, and did not file for an extension, your taxes were due on April 15th and you are already accruing penalties and interest on any taxes due.

If you need assistance filing your tax return (whether on extension or not), please contact an R&G Brenner tax professional as soon as possible in order to meet the deadline.

2 comments » | Tax & Financial News

What Do I Do If I Haven’t Received My Tax Refund?

June 5th, 2014 — 2:15pm

IRS Tax Refund 300x207 What Do I Do If I Havent Received My Tax Refund?

Follow These Steps To Track Your Refund

Filing your tax return was stressful, but now that it’s done you know the amount you’ve got coming and you can’t wait to get your hands on it. This is understandable; we all usually have that refund earmarked for something. That’s why it can be so frustrating when your tax refund doesn’t arrive on time. Read on to learn what to do if you’ve been waiting an exceptionally long time for your tax refund.

Gather Some Information

The first thing you should do when you have yet to receive your federal tax refund is to gather your social security number, filing status and the exact amount that you expect to get so you can check your return status online or over the phone. Having this information close at hand is necessary to start the process.

Check the Status of Your Return

It’s important to first check your return status before you check your refund status. You can do so over the phone or by logging in securely to your account on the IRS website. If you used an e-filing service to process your return, inquire about your status with that company. Many such services offer online log-ins where you can easily check your account. If you didn’t use an e-file service, you can call the IRS toll-free at 1-800-829-1040. If you are lucky to speak to an agent during your first call, hopefully they will be able to tell you if there was a delay, and what the cause was. Often, the return simply hasn’t been processed yet.

Once you’ve confirmed that your tax return has been processed, you can check your federal tax refund status. If you opted for a direct deposit into your bank account, call the bank and see if the check has been deposited. If it hasn’t, a quick way to check on your status is to use the Where’s My Refund? tool provided by the IRS and you can track where your refund is at any time. The site is updated every 24 hours in the evening, so you can start checking it the day after you e-file your return (or a month after you’ve mailed it in).  You can also call the IRS at 1-800-829-1954 to determine where your check is and why it’s taking so long.

Reasons for Delay

Tax season is a notoriously busy time for the IRS: people are filing taxes, refunds are being processed and issues are being sorted. If you wait to file close to the deadline of April 15th, you could wait longer than if you filed a month or two earlier. In some cases, refunds and identities can be stolen. If you suspect suspicious activity as the reason for your refund delay, contact the IRS immediately at 1-800-829-1040.

Often times, there are good reasons why your refund has been delayed. If you opted for a paper check from the IRS, expect to wait at least twice as long as if you did direct deposit. In order to minimize wait time in the future, plan on e-filing with a direct deposit option next year.

6 comments » | Tax Tips, Where's My Refund?

What If I Forgot To Include Information On My Taxes?

May 30th, 2014 — 2:56pm

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Forgot Something On Your Tax Return? Don’t Worry!

So, you worked hours on your tax return, gathered your documents, filed on time and you are now awaiting your tax refund with eager anticipation. All is well until that moment of mild terror when you realize you forgot to include a vital document or deduction on your taxes. Don’t panic: all is not lost. There are ways to include missed information on your taxes, even if you’ve already filed them.

File an Amended Tax Return

When you’ve omitted information on your return, the IRS allows you to file an Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return called Form 1040X. However, you can’t e-file amended returns; they’ll have to be submitted it in paper form which increases the wait time by many weeks for any potential additional refunds.

Reasons to File

There are lots of reasons you might need to file an amended tax return, but there are some things that don’t necessitate one. You’ll need to file a 1040X form if you have experienced a change in your filing status, income, credits or deductions. But you do not have to file if you caught a math error after the fact. The IRS is pretty good about catching these types of mistakes and usually adjust these automatically for you. For example, If you forgot to attach the proper tax forms and a W2 is missing,  there’s no need to file this amended form. You should get a request from the IRS requesting any missing items. The IRS can easily find income that you may have omitted from your tax return, but sometimes it can take a very long time for the IRS to notify you.  That means if you made an error where you underpaid your taxes in some manner, you will accrue penalties and interest until your tax liability is paid in full.  It could pay for you to file an amended return to minimize penalties & interests.  On the other hand,  the IRS isn’t as well-equipped for finding missing credits or deductions that you may have overlooked, and which could increase your refund.  In this case, don’t wait until you get a letter from the IRS looking for more information. Instead, be proactive and file the amended return.  After all it’s your money and the IRS does NOT have to pay you interest for holding onto your well deserved refunds.

Rules

You have three years from the original filing date to submit Form 1040X, or two years from the date of tax payment.   You’ll need to submit a separate 1040X form for each tax return you’re amending and mail them separately to the IRS. Also, don’t assume they are all being mailed to the same mailing address.  There are usually separate processing PO Boxes for each tax year you are amending.  If you plan on claiming more of a refund, you must wait until you get your original refund in the mail or via direct deposit before filing the 1040X. Again, keep in mind that amended refunds take awhile to process, so it could take up to 12 weeks before you receive anything. If you owe more taxes as a result of the amended return, pay what you owe right away to avoid fees and penalties from piling up, as the IRS will begin charging you based on the due date of your original tax return.

Track Your Status

Similar to tracking your original refund status, the IRS has a Where’s My Amended Return? tool (you can also check R&G Brenner’s Where’s My Refund page as we include State Refund links as well) that you can use to track your amended return’s status. Alternatively, you can call the IRS at 866-464-2050. Have your taxpayer identification number or social security number handy, along with your date of birth and zip code.

If you forgot to include some vital information on your tax return, follow the steps above to make sure you pay all the right taxes and get your full refund.  Or, simply contact an experience R&G Brenner tax professional today, and we’d be happy to assist you.

1 comment » | Tax Tips

What Are the Next Steps If I Missed the April 15th Deadline?

May 13th, 2014 — 12:32pm

cyfair library april 15 tax deadline hg clr resized 600.gif 300x300 What Are the Next Steps If I Missed the April 15th Deadline?

Did You Miss The Deadline?

Tax season is always a stressful time of the year.  Regardless if someone files themselves or hires a professional, nobody relishes the thought of having to file their taxes. Most people manage to get their taxes filed before the deadline, but there are always some who cannot get their taxes filed on time and don’t file an extension. 

The April 15th deadline for filing taxes for the 2013 tax year has passed. This sounds serious, but don’t panic. While you may incur some penalties for failing to file on time, acting quickly can help ensure that they won’t be too severe. If you have extenuating circumstances that prevented you from filing your taxes on time, you may even be able to get your penalties abated. Here’s what you need to know for filing your taxes after the deadline:

Your Refund Will Be Unaffected

If you are getting a refund, don’t worry, it will be perfectly safe. Unclaimed refunds can only be forfeited after three years, but the IRS won’t impose any penalties on your refund if you file late. The worst that can happen is that you will receive a refund later than you would have if you had made the deadline, and the IRS does not pay interest.  There is nothing gained from having the IRS hold onto your refund, so if you are due a refund, file a tax return as soon as possible.

Penalties for Filing and Paying Late

The penalty for filing your taxes after the deadline is five percent of the unpaid tax bill for every month your tax return is late. These fines and penalties will not exceed 25 percent of your total bill, however. The penalty for failing to pay any taxes that you may owe is one-half of one percent of the unpaid balance.

If you owe taxes that you cannot pay, you should still file as soon as possible, and set up a payment plan to pay off what you owe in installments to minimize penalties. You can also pay a partial amount when you file to lower the balance—it’s a good idea to pay as much as you can. The important thing is that you make an effort and do your best to stick to any payment plan that you set up. Keep in mind that you will most likely need to fill out additional paperwork if you owe more than $50,000 and wish to pay in installments. The IRS will want to see financial statements to ensure that your payment plan is realistic.

Filing an Extension

While it is too late now to request an extension, for future reference you can receive a six-month extension of the tax deadline by filling out Form 4868. This will give you more time to file your taxes, but it won’t give you more time to pay any taxes that you may still owe. Still, it can help you avoid any penalties that come from filing late.

Whatever you do, you should never decide not to file or pay your taxes. You might be afraid of the penalties that come from missing the April 15 deadline, but the penalties for not filing at all are much worse. The most important thing is that you file, even if you file much later than the deadline. Your chances of getting into real legal or financial trouble become much greater the longer you wait to pay what you owe to the IRS.

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April 15 Countdown & Last Minute Tax Tips

April 14th, 2014 — 2:50pm
last minute tax tips 604cs032713 300x162 April 15 Countdown & Last Minute Tax Tips

Tick Tock, TickTock…April 15th Deadline

With the clock about to strike midnight on the 2013 Tax Year Filing season, the following is a quick list of tax tips for all you last minute filers out there:

April 15th Deadline

Yes, we all know the saying “Death & Taxes…”. And nothing drums up the cold sweats and association with taxes like the April 15th deadline. However, here is something that many taxpayers do not know: This deadline is only if you OWE taxes to the IRS.  If you are due a refund from the IRS, you actually have 3 full years from the April 15th deadline to claim and receive your refund before it becomes the property of the U.S. Government.  So, as long as you file your 2013 tax return by April 15th, 2017 you will get your refund.  There are of course, many reasons to file your 2013 tax return before the deadline.  It’s your money!  So don’t let the government hold on to it especially when they do not have to pay interest on it.  If you owe, and you do not have all of your tax documents ready, you can always file an extension.  Extensions must also be filed before the April 15th deadline.  REMEMBER: An extension is only an extension to file your final tax return, NOT to pay the taxes you owe.  Therefore, expect to send payment for the estimated amount of taxes you owe along with any extension.

Beware of IRS Scams

IRS & Tax related Scams have been steadily increasing over the last few years.  The most common scam going around is IRS impersonators contacting unsuspecting taxpayers and getting them to divulge their confidential personal information which can be used to open up credit cards in the victims name and/or to a file a fraudulent tax return in their name in order to steal refunds.  NOTE: The IRS will NEVER initiate contact with your via email, phone, fax or text.  They will always send you a written notification with instructions.  Even if you receive written communication, double check that the contact information on the letter matches the IRS contact information from the IRS website.  If you think that you are the target of a tax related scam, report it to phishing@irs.gov.

Sign Your Return & Mail To Correct Address

While this may sound trivial, many taxpayers forget to sign their tax returns!  Your tax return is technically not considered filed if it is not signed.  While the majority of tax returns are filed electronically, there are still many reasons why a return would be filed as paper.  Furthermore, if you had your return prepared by a professional, be sure that they signed the return as well.  While the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for what is listed on their return, a common scam that many “professionals” use to avoid any liability is to file a tax return as “self-prepared”.  In other words, the IRS thinks that the taxpayer prepared and filed the tax return themselves when in reality it was filed by a paid income tax preparer.  So be sure to check for all appropriate signatures!  Furthermore, be sure you are mailing your tax return to the right IRS processing center.  The IRS tends to change their mailing addresses annually and some  have separate mailing addresses for refunds and taxes due.  Here is a list of all the IRS tax processing centers.

Keep Your Tax Records

So you just sent in your taxes and now you can throw all of your W2s, 1099s, receipts & other tax related documentation into the fireplace, right?  WRONG! Depending on your situation, the IRS says to keep all of your tax records between 3 & 6 years.  So, just to be on the safe side, keep all of your tax records for at least 6 years.  Sometimes it could take years before the IRS notifies you with an issue and/or adjustment on your tax return.  If you plan on contesting changes in the IRS’ favor, you’ll need your backup documentation.  Recent budget cuts to the IRS will probably delay the notification process even more.

File With A Tax Professional

While millions of taxpayers are electing to forego using a tax professional in favor of filing themselves, the numbers don’t add up.  A couple of years ago R&G Brenner investigated The True Cost Of Preparing Your Own Tax Return and found that taxpayers who filed themselves were losing an average of $594 in refunds as opposed to using a Tax Professional.  Similarly, H&R Block is running ads this year that found 1 in 5 taxpayers who prepares their own taxes are not claiming all the deductions they are entitled to and are losing $490 in refunds.  Now there are many taxpayers who have very simple returns (standard deductions, no house, no kids, etc) and can easily file themselves.  However, the moment your tax return gets even a little bit complicated, you should seek professional help.  If you are going to Itemize Deductions (Schedule A), claim mortgage interest, have children (Earned Income Tax Credit), deduct business expenses (Schedule C), have rental income (Schedule E), or other complex tax positions, it is almost never a good idea to prepare your own tax return.

If you would like information about R&G Brenner, our services or if you need any tax assistance before or after the April 15th deadline, please feel free to contact us here, or call us toll free at (888) APRIL-15.

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IRS: $760 Million In Unclaimed Refunds

March 20th, 2014 — 10:28am
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Don’t Lose Your Money To The IRS!

The IRS currently has over $760 Million in unclaimed refunds from tax year 2010, and the clock is running out for taxpayers to claim them.   Any rightful refunds from 2010 not claimed by April 15, 2014 will become the property of the US Government.  The majority of these refunds are in excess of $571 each. 

“The window is quickly closing for people who are owed refunds from 2010 who haven’t filed a tax return,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement. “We encourage students, part-time workers and others who haven’t filed for 2010 to look into this before time runs out on April 15.”

Most of these unclaimed refunds are from students, part-time workers and the like who did not earn the minimum amount of income required to file a 2010 tax return.  However, taxes were indeed taken from their paychecks even though they were not required to file a tax return, and these taxpayers are entitled to a refund.

If you did not file a 2010 tax return, but were employed that year, contact an R&G Brenner Tax Professional to see if you are entitled to refund.  Why give the IRS your hard earned money?!  Below is breakdown for IRS refunds due to taxpayers by State.

State or District

Estimated

Number of

Individuals

Median

Potential

Refund

Total

Potential

Refunds*

Alabama

15,700

$574

$12,473,000

Alaska

4,700

$649

$4,810,000

Arizona

23,800

$508

$17,517,000

Arkansas

8,400

$562

$6,667,000

California

86,500

$519

$69,752,000

Colorado

17,100

$567

$14,061,000

Connecticut

11,700

$620

$10,304,000

Delaware

3,800

$573

$3,126,000

District of Columbia

3,500

$604

$3,080,000

Florida

56,800

$593

$48,407,000

Georgia

28,400

$539

$22,504,000

Hawaii

6,200

$586

$5,413,000

Idaho

3,500

$490

$2,604,000

Illinois

37,900

$626

$32,696,000

Indiana

19,600

$570

$15,478,000

Iowa

9,200

$576

$7,050,000

Kansas

9,300

$522

$6,986,000

Kentucky

11,500

$576

$8,975,000

Louisiana

17,500

$603

$15,579,000

Maine

3,500

$502

$2,373,000

Maryland

20,700

$575

$18,002,000

Massachusetts

21,000

$560

$17,856,000

Michigan

29,200

$597

$24,259,000

Minnesota

12,700

$516

$9,582,000

Mississippi

8,500

$556

$6,769,000

Missouri

17,900

$514

$13,153,000

Montana

2,900

$534

$2,338,000

Nebraska

4,500

$528

$3,368,000

Nevada

11,400

$570

$9,156,000

New Hampshire

3,800

$602

$3,245,000

New Jersey

29,500

$639

$26,712,000

New Mexico

7,200

$572

$5,915,000

New York

57,400

$623

$50,543,000

North Carolina

24,300

$494

$17,538,000

North Dakota

1,900

$600

$1,551,000

Ohio

32,100

$560

$24,508,000

Oklahoma

15,100

$585

$12,246,000

Oregon

14,300

$519

$10,359,000

Pennsylvania

37,400

$614

$31,009,000

Rhode Island

3,000

$598

$2,472,000

South Carolina

10,200

$532

$7,756,000

South Dakota

2,100

$558

$1,605,000

Tennessee

16,300

$559

$12,839,000

Texas

80,600

$588

$71,998,000

Utah

6,100

$518

$4,705,000

Vermont

1,600

$519

$1,136,000

Virginia

26,300

$568

$22,376,000

Washington

24,800

$640

$23,033,000

West Virginia

4,100

$626

$3,534,000

Wisconsin

10,900

$516

$8,423,000

Wyoming

2,200

$648

$2,045,000

Totals

918,600

$571

$759,889,000

Source: Accountingtoday.com

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Inheritance & Estate Tax 101

March 6th, 2014 — 2:53pm
estate tax 267x300 Inheritance & Estate Tax 101

Inheritance Vs. Estate Taxes

If you have recently inherited a large sum of money, you may have some questions about the inheritance tax, and whether or not it will affect you this tax season. Before you worry about having to pay an inheritance tax, read on to find out what exactly an inheritance tax is, whether your state requires you to pay an inheritance tax, and whether you qualify for an exemption.

The Inheritance Tax: What is it?

An inheritance tax refers to a tax where a person who has received money, assets, or property from a deceased person must pay a tax on those received items. Unlike an estate tax, the person who receives the money or property (i.e., the beneficiary) is the one who is responsible for paying the tax. Only eight states have implemented an inheritance tax, and the rules for how much you pay vary by state. These states are Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. To better understand your state’s regulations, it is best to consult an accountant or professional tax preparer to help you with your state’s laws.

Exemptions and Reductions

Remember, the inheritance tax laws differ depending upon which of the eight states with the inheritance tax you live in. As such, exemptions regarding the tax also differ. In most cases, children who are beneficiaries will receive exemptions. Additionally, sometimes an exemption or reduction will be granted depending upon the relationship of the beneficiary with the deceased. Usually, family members or direct relatives have a higher chance of being granted an exemption than a friend or associate does.

Federal Estate Tax: The Death Tax? 

The federal government does not have any form of an inheritance tax. Rather, there is a federal estate tax. According to the IRS, the estate tax is “a tax on your right to transfer property at your death.” The federal estate tax differs from the inheritance tax in who is paying the tax—in an inheritance tax, the beneficiary is responsible for the tax; in the federal estate tax, the tax is taken from the property and/or assets of the deceased individual. This payout to the federal government for tax purposes occurs before the remaining assets are distributed to beneficiaries. An estate tax is only applied to assets/properties where the value of the assets is greater than one million dollars. Due to this, very few people are affected by the estate tax each year—only about 2 percent.  As of 2013, the filing of an estate tax is only required for estates that claim assets amounting to $5,340,000 dollars or more.

If you think you will be affected by the inheritance or the estate tax, contact an R&G Brenner professional for assistance.

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Making Sense of Tricky Tax Terms: AGI vs. Taxable Income, Dividends, Exemptions & Deductions

March 3rd, 2014 — 3:57pm
free tax help title 6241 300x124 Making Sense of Tricky Tax Terms: AGI vs. Taxable Income, Dividends, Exemptions & Deductions

tax (tăks) n. : One of the only things certain in life. See also Death.

Tax season can be intimidating to those who aren’t certified accountants or tax professionals. With all the tax terminology out there, simply understanding the terms on the form you’re filling out can be daunting. No fear—a tax-terminology-debunker is here:

Understanding: Adjustable Gross Income

First things first, you need to understand the total income. Total income refers to all income that was made in the fiscal year, either earned or unearned, before any exemptions or deductions. So, total income will refer to all the money you made in the year, including money from social security benefits, unemployment, alimony, wages/tips, pensions, etc.

Your adjustable gross income (AGI) refers to your total income minus adjustments that were made for moving expenses, IRA contributions, student loan interest, and alimony. Any adjustments can be found on your 1040, on lines 23-35. Don’t panic; If you need help filing your taxes, you can always consult an R&G Brenner tax professional.

Understanding: Taxable Income

Taxable income is pretty simple, and refers to the amount of money that you can be taxed for. This number is found by taking your AGI less your deductions and personal exemptions. This number will be used to find what tax bracket you fall into, and to then calculate your tax rate.

Understanding: Exemptions

A tax exemption can be taken by an individual, a business, or a charity, and refers to money or property that taxes do not have to be paid on, or may be reduced for. For example, charitable organizations do not have to pay property taxes. Another exemption sometimes granted is the case of those who inherit larges amount of money not having to pay an inheritance tax. In some cases, a tax exemption entirely precludes an individual from paying taxes, or significantly reduces the amount of money one has to pay.

Understanding: Deductions

A tax deduction, or a “tax write-off,” refers to an amount of money you get to subtract from your AGI due to various expenses that you paid or incurred throughout the year. For example, a deduction may be educational expenses, health insurance, mortgage interest, royalties, a home office, or auto expenses. Depending on whether you’re filing taxes as an individual or as a business, the types of deductions you quality for will differ as will the total percentage one is allowed to deduct.

Understanding: Dividends

A dividend is a percentage of profit that is paid out, in the form of income, to shareholders of stock and the like. A dividend tax is a tax that is levied on the amount of money that is allocated to each shareholder. If you are a shareholder and received money from those shares this year, you can expect to pay a dividend tax.

Understanding: Tax Due

Perhaps the most simple of tax terms (and the most detested), tax due means exactly what it says. The last line of your 1040, the tax due box, will tell you the total amount of money you owe to the IRS for any given tax year after all your deductions and exemptions have been calculated and applied.

Making sense of tax terms can initially feel frustrating—but it shouldn’t be. With a little bit of research, and a FREE consultation with an R&G Brenner tax professional, you can make this tax season your easiest yet!

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IRS Code 1121 Delaying Refunds

February 19th, 2014 — 11:19am

The below video is the first hint of refund delays taxpayers are experiencing this year

 

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