Get Ready for Taxes: Important things to know about tax credits
IR-2019-181, November 7, 2019
WASHINGTON – With the tax filing season quickly approaching, the Internal Revenue Service recommends taxpayers take time now to determine if they are eligible for important tax credits.
This is the second in a series of reminders to help taxpayers Get Ready for the upcoming tax filing season. The IRS recently updated its Get Ready page with steps to take now for the 2020 filing season.
Earned Income Tax Credit
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable federal income tax credit for working people with low to moderate incomes who meet certain eligibility requirements. Because it's a refundable credit, those who qualify and claim EITC pay less federal tax, pay no tax or may even get a tax refund. EITC can mean a credit of up to $6,557 for working families with three or more qualifying children. Workers without a qualifying child may be eligible for a credit up to $529.
To get the credit, people must have earned income and file a federal tax return — even if they don't owe any tax or aren't otherwise required to file.
Taxpayers can use the EITC Assistant to find out if they are eligible for EITC, determine if their child or children meet the tests for a qualifying child and estimate the amount of their credit.
Child Tax Credit
Taxpayers can claim the Child Tax Credit if they have a qualifying child under the age of 17 and meet other qualifications. The maximum amount per qualifying child is $2,000. Up to $1,400 of that amount can be refundable for each qualifying child. So, like the EITC, the Child Tax Credit can give a taxpayer a refund even if they owe no tax.
The qualifying child must have a valid Social Security number issued before the due date of the tax return, including extensions. For tax year 2019, this means April 15, 2020, or if a taxpayer gets a tax-filing extension, Oct. 15, 2020.
The amount of the Child Tax Credit begins to reduce or phase out at $200,000 of modified adjusted gross income, or $400,000 for married couples filing jointly.
Credit for Other Dependents
This credit is available to taxpayers with dependents for whom they cannot claim the Child Tax Credit. These include dependent children who are age 17 or older at the end of 2019 or parents or other qualifying individuals supported by the taxpayer.
Publication 972,Child Tax Credit, available now on IRS.gov, has further details and will soon be updated for tax year 2019.
Two credits can help taxpayers paying higher education costs for themselves, a spouse or dependent. The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and the Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) are claimed on Form 8863, Education Credits. The AOTC is partly refundable.
To get either credit, the taxpayer or student usually must receive Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, from the school attended. Some exceptions apply. See the instructions to Form 8863 for details.
IRS provides tax inflation adjustments for tax year 2020
IR-2019-180, November 6, 2019
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced the tax year 2020 annual inflation adjustments for more than 60 tax provisions, including the tax rate schedules and other tax changes. Revenue Procedure 2019-44 (PDF) provides details about these annual adjustments.
The tax law change covered in the revenue procedure was added by the Taxpayer First Act of 2019, which increased the failure to file penalty to $330 for returns due after the end of 2019. The new penalty will be adjusted for inflation beginning with tax year 2021.
The tax year 2020 adjustments generally are used on tax returns filed in 2021.
The tax items for tax year 2020 of greatest interest to most taxpayers include the following dollar amounts:
The lowest rate is 10% for incomes of single individuals with incomes of $9,875 or less ($19,750 for married couples filing jointly).
401(k) contribution limit increases to $19,500 for 2020; catch-up limit rises to $6,500
IR-2019-179, November 6, 2019
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced that employees in 401(k) plans will be able to contribute up to $19,500 next year.
The IRS announced this and other changes in Notice 2019-59 (PDF), posted today on IRS.gov. This guidance provides cost‑of‑living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2020.
Highlights of changes for 2020
The contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government's Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $19,000 to $19,500.
The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in these plans is increased from $6,000 to $6,500.
The limitation regarding SIMPLE retirement accounts for 2020 is increased to $13,500, up from $13,000 for 2019.
The income ranges for determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), to contribute to Roth IRAs and to claim the Saver's Credit all increased for 2020.
Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions. If during the year either the taxpayer or his or her spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be reduced, or phased out, until it is eliminated, depending on filing status and income. (If neither the taxpayer nor his or her spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work, the phase-outs of the deduction do not apply.) Here are the phase-out ranges for 2020:
The income limit for the Saver's Credit (also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit) for low- and moderate-income workers is $65,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $64,000; $48,750 for heads of household, up from $48,000; and $32,500 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up from $32,000.
Key limit remains unchanged
The limit on annual contributions to an IRA remains unchanged at $6,000. The additional catch-up contribution limit for individuals aged 50 and over is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $1,000.
Get Ready for Taxes: Get ready today to file 2019 federal income tax returns
IR-2019-178, October 31, 2019
WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today urged taxpayers to act now to avoid a tax-time surprise and ensure smooth processing of their 2019 federal tax return.
This is the first in a series of reminders to help taxpayers get ready for the upcoming tax filing season. To that end, a special page, newly updated and available on IRS.gov, outlines things taxpayers can do now to prepare for the 2020 tax season ahead.
Adjust withholding; Make estimated or additional tax payments
The IRS urges everyone to use the Tax Withholding Estimator to perform a paycheck or pension income checkup. This is even more important for those who received a smaller refund than expected or owed an unexpected tax bill last year.
It's also a good idea for anyone who had a key life event, such as getting married, getting divorced, having or adopting a child, retiring, buying a home or starting college.
If the Tax Withholding Estimator recommends a change, an employee can then submit a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, to their employer. Don't send this form to the IRS.
Similarly, recipients of pension or annuity income can use the results from the estimator to complete a Form W-4P, Withholding Certificate for Pension or Annuity Payments, and give it to their payer.
Taxpayers who receive a substantial amount of non-wage income should make quarterly estimated tax payments. This can include self-employment income, investment income (including gain from the sale, exchange or other disposition of virtual currency), taxable Social Security benefits and in some instances, pension and annuity income. Making estimated tax payments can also help a wage-earner cover an unexpected withholding shortfall.
Estimated tax payments are due quarterly, with the last payment for 2019 due on Jan. 15, 2020. Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, has a worksheet to help figure these payments. Payment options can be found at IRS.gov/payments.
Workers and retirees who receive self-employment income or income from the gig economy, including payments in the form of virtual currency, should make sure to take these amounts into account when they fill out the Tax Withholding Estimator. Payments received in virtual currency by independent contractors and other service providers are taxable, and self-employment tax rules generally apply. Normally, payers must issue Form 1099-MISC. Similarly, wages paid using virtual currency are taxable to the employee, subject to withholding, and must be reported by the employer on a Form W-2.
People with more complex tax situations should use the instructions in Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax. This includes those who owe alternative minimum tax or various other taxes, and people with long-term capital gains or qualified dividends.
Gather documents and organize tax records
The IRS urges all taxpayers to develop a recordkeeping system − electronic or paper − that keeps important information in one place. Keep copies of filed tax returns and all supporting documents for at least three years. This includes year-end Forms W-2 from employers, Forms 1099 from banks and other payers, other income documents, records documenting all virtual currency transactions, and Forms 1095-A for those claiming the Premium Tax Credit. Add tax records to the files as they are received. Having complete and timely records can help any taxpayer file a complete and accurate return.
Taxpayers should confirm that each employer, bank or other payer has a current mailing address or email address. Typically, year-end forms start arriving by mail – or are available online – in January. Review them carefully and, if any of the information shown is inaccurate, contact the payer right away for a correction.
To avoid refund delays, be sure to gather all year-end income documents before filing a 2019 return. Filing too early, before receiving a key document, often means a taxpayer must file an amended return to report additional income or claim a refund. It can take up to 16 weeks to get an amended return refund.
Anyone using a software product for the first time may need the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount shown on Line 7 of their 2018 return to file their 2019 return electronically. Consult the taxpayer's copy of last year's return, or alternatively, visit the View Your Tax Account link on IRS.gov. Learn more about verifying identity and electronically signing a return at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return. Notify the IRS of address changes and notify the Social Security Administration of a legal name change to avoid refund delays.
Renew expiring tax ID numbers
Taxpayers with expiring Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers can get their ITINs renewed more quickly and avoid refund delays next year by submitting their renewal application soon.
An ITIN is a tax ID number used by any taxpayer who doesn't qualify to get a Social Security number. Any ITIN with middle digits 83, 84, 85, 86 or 87 will expire at the end of this year. In addition, any ITIN not used on a tax return in the past three years will expire. ITINs with middle digits 70 through 82 that expired in 2016, 2017 or 2018 can also be renewed.
The IRS urges anyone affected to file a complete renewal application, Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, as soon as possible. Be sure to include all required ID and residency documents. Failure to do so will delay processing until the IRS receives these documents.
Once a completed form is filed, it typically takes about seven weeks to receive an ITIN assignment letter from the IRS. But it can take longer — nine to 11 weeks — if an applicant waits until the peak of the filing season to submit this form or sends it from overseas.
Taxpayers who fail to renew an ITIN before filing a tax return next year could face a delayed refund and may be ineligible for certain tax credits. With nearly 2 million taxpayer households impacted, applying now will help avoid the rush as well as refund and processing delays in 2020. For more information, visit the ITIN information page on IRS.gov.
Use Direct Deposit for refunds
Combining Direct Deposit with electronic filing is the fastest way to get a refund. With Direct Deposit, a refund goes directly into the taxpayer's bank account. No need to worry about a lost, stolen or undeliverable refund check. This is the same electronic transfer system used to deposit nearly 98% of all Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits. Nearly four out of five federal tax refunds are deposited directly.
Direct Deposit is easy to use. Taxpayers select it as their refund method through tax software or let their tax preparer know they want direct deposit. Taxpayers can even choose Direct Deposit on a paper return. Be sure to have bank account and routing numbers handy and double check entries to avoid errors.
Direct Deposit also saves taxpayer dollars. It costs the nation's taxpayers more than $1 for every paper refund check issued but only a dime for each Direct Deposit.
By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds for people claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. The law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund − even the portion not associated with EITC or ACTC. This law change, which took effect in 2017, helps ensure that taxpayers receive the refund they're due by giving the IRS more time to detect and prevent fraud.
The IRS cautions taxpayers not to rely on receiving a refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying bills. Some returns may require additional review and may take longer. For example, the IRS, along with its partners in the tax industry, continue to strengthen security reviews to help protect against identity theft and refund fraud.
IRS finalizes safe harbor to allow rental real estate to qualify as a business for qualified business income deduction
IR-2019-158, September 24, 2019
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued Revenue Procedure 2019-38 that has a safe harbor allowing certain interests in rental real estate, including interests in mixed-use property, to be treated as a trade or business for purposes of the qualified business income deduction under section 199A of the Internal Revenue Code (section 199A deduction).
If all the safe harbor requirements are met, an interest in rental real estate will be treated as a single trade or business for purposes of the section 199A deduction. If an interest in real estate fails to satisfy all the requirements of the safe harbor, it may still be treated as a trade or business for purposes of the section 199A deduction if it otherwise meets the definition of a trade or business in the section 199A regulations.
This safe harbor is available for taxpayers who seek to claim the section 199A deduction with respect to a "rental real estate enterprise." Solely for purposes of this safe harbor, a rental real estate enterprise is defined as an interest in real property held to generate rental or lease income. It may consist of an interest in a single property or interests in multiple properties. The taxpayer or a relevant pass-through entity (RPE) relying on this revenue procedure must hold each interest directly or through an entity disregarded as an entity separate from its owner, such as a limited liability company with a single member.
The following requirements must be met by taxpayers or RPEs to qualify for this safe harbor:
For more information about this and other TCJA provisions, visit IRS.gov/taxreform.
Treasury, IRS release final and proposed regulations on new 100% depreciation
IR-2019-156, September 13, 2019
WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today released final regulations (PDF) and additional proposed regulations (PDF) under section 168(k) of the Internal Revenue Code on the new 100% additional first year depreciation deduction that allows businesses to write off most depreciable business assets in the year they are placed in service by the business.
The regulations released today on IRS.gov have been submitted to the Federal Register and may vary slightly from the published documents due to minor editorial changes. The documents published in the Federal Register will be the official documents.
The final regulations finalize the proposed regulations issued in August 2018 which implement several provisions included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The proposed regulations contain new provisions not addressed previously.
The 100% additional first year depreciation deduction generally applies to depreciable business assets with a recovery period of 20 years or less and certain other property. Machinery, equipment, computers, appliances and furniture generally qualify.
The deduction applies to qualifying property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017. The final regulations provide clarifying guidance on the requirements that must be met for property to qualify for the deduction, including used property. The final regulations also provide rules for qualified film, television and live theatrical productions.
Additionally, in the proposed regulations, the Treasury Department and IRS propose rules regarding (i) certain property not eligible for the additional first year depreciation deduction, (ii) a de minimis use rule for determining whether a taxpayer previously used property; (iii) components acquired after Sept. 27, 2017, of larger property for which construction began before Sept. 28, 2017; and (iv) other aspects not dealt with in the previous August 2018 proposed regulations. The proposed regulations also withdraw and repropose rules regarding application of the used property acquisition requirements (i) to consolidated groups, and (ii) to a series of related transactions.
For details on claiming the deduction or electing out of claiming it, see the final regulations or the instructions to Form 4562, Depreciation and Amortization (Including Information on Listed Property). For tax years that include September 28, 2017, see Rev. Proc. 2019-33 (PDF) for further information about making a late election or revoking an election.
Taxpayers who elect out of the 100% depreciation deduction must do so on a timely-filed return. Those who have already timely filed their 2018 return and did not elect out but still wish to do so have six months from the original deadline, without an extension, to file an amended return.
For more information about this and other TCJA provisions, visit IRS.gov/taxreform.
Have a sunnier tax season with these summertime IRS tax tips
IR-2019-124, July 10, 2019
WASHINGTON — Buying a home? Working a summer job? Volunteering? Activities that are common in the summer often qualify for tax credits or deductions And, while summertime and part-time workers may not earn enough to owe federal income tax, they should remember to file a return to get a refund for taxes withheld early next year.
Here are some summertime tax tips from the IRS that can help taxpayers during tax season next year:
Though the higher standard deduction means fewer taxpayers are itemizing their deductions, those that still plan to itemize next year should keep these tips in mind:
The last two tips are for taxpayers who have not yet filed but may be due a refund and those who may need to adjust their withholding.