2017 Tax Filing Season Opens Today

IRS YouTube Videos

  • When Will I Get My Refund: English | Spanish
  • Claiming EITC or ACTC? Your refund may be delayed: English
  • Welcome to Free File: English
  • Security Summit Identity Theft Tips Overview:English

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service said today that it successfully started accepting and processing 2016 federal individual income tax returns on schedule. More than 153 million returns are expected to be filed this year.

People have until Tuesday, April 18, 2017 to file their 2016 returns and pay any taxes due. The deadline is later this year due to several factors. The usual April 15 deadline falls on Saturday this year, which would normally give taxpayers until at least the following Monday. However, Emancipation Day, a D.C. holiday, is observed on Monday, April 17, giving taxpayers nationwide an additional day to file. By law, D.C. holidays impact tax deadlines for everyone in the same way federal holidays do. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Monday, Oct. 16, 2017 to file.

“Following months of hard work, we successfully opened our processing systems today to start this year’s tax season,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Getting to this point is a year-round effort for the IRS and the nation’s tax community. The dedicated employees of the IRS look forward to serving taxpayers this filing season, and I want to thank all of the tax and payroll community for their hard work that makes tax time smoother for the nation.”

The IRS expects more than 70 percent of taxpayers to get tax refunds this year. Last year, 111 million refunds were issued, with an average refund of $2,860.

Refund Delays

A law change now requires the IRS to hold refunds on tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until Feb. 15. Under this change required by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, the IRS must hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC. Even though the IRS will begin releasing EITC and ACTC refunds on Feb. 15, many early filers will still not have actual access to their refunds until the week of Feb. 27. The additional delay is due to several factors, including weekends, the Presidents Day holiday and the time banks often need to process direct deposits.

This law change gives the IRS more time to detect and prevent fraud. Beyond the EITC and ACTC refunds and the additional security safeguards, the IRS anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. However, it’s possible a particular return may require additional review and take longer. Taxpayers are reminded that state tax agencies have their own refund processing timeframes that vary, and some states may make additional reviews to ensure their refunds are being issued properly. Even so, taxpayers should file as usual, and tax return preparers should submit returns as they normally do.

Use e-File and Free File

The IRS expects more than 80 percent of returns to be filed electronically. Choosing e-file and direct deposit remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund.

The IRS Free File program, available at IRS.gov, gives eligible taxpayers a dozen options for brand-name products. Free File is a partnership with commercial partners offering free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $64,000 or less. Seventy percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. People who earned more than $64,000 may use Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms.

Protecting Taxpayers from Identity Theft-Related Refund Fraud

The IRS continues to work with state tax authorities and the tax industry to address tax-related identity theft and refund fraud. As part of the Security Summit effort, stronger protections for taxpayers and the nation’s tax system are in effect for the 2017 tax filing season.

The new measures attack tax-related identity theft from multiple sides. Many changes will be invisible to taxpayers but will help the IRS, states and the tax industry provide new protections. New security requirements will better protect tax software accounts and personal information.

Renew ITIN to Avoid Refund Delays

Many Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) expired on Jan. 1, 2017. This includes any ITIN not used on a tax return at least once in the past three years. Also now expired is any ITIN with middle digits of either 78 or 79 (Example: 9NN-78-NNNN or 9NN-79-NNNN). Affected taxpayers should act soon to avoid refund delays and possible loss of eligibility for some key tax benefits until the ITIN is renewed. An ITIN is used by anyone who has tax-filing or payment obligations under U.S. tax law but is not eligible for a Social Security number.

It can take up to 11 weeks to process a complete and accurate ITIN renewal application. For that reason, the IRS urges anyone with an expired ITIN needing to file a return this tax season to submit their ITIN renewal application soon.

New AGI requirement for e-file

All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a tax filing software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount from their prior-year tax return to verify their identity. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.

Free Tax Help

Low- and moderate-income taxpayers can get help filing their tax return for free. More than 90,000 volunteers around the country can help people correctly complete their return.

To get this filing help, taxpayers can visit one of the more than 12,000 community-based tax help sites that participate in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs. To find the nearest site, use the VITA/TCE Site Locator on IRS.gov or the IRS2Go mobile app.

Filing Assistance

The IRS reminds taxpayers that a trusted tax professional can provide helpful information about the tax laws. A number of tips about selecting a preparer and information about national tax professional groups are available on IRS.gov.

The IRS urges all taxpayers to make sure they have all their year-end statements in hand before filing. This includes Forms W-2 from employers and Forms 1099 from banks and other payers. Doing so will help avoid refund delays and the need to file an amended return.

Online tools

Many tax issues can now be resolved online or by phone from the convenience of a home or office. The IRS urges taxpayers to take advantage of the many tools and other resources available on IRS.gov. IRS phone lines will be busy again this year, so in order to save time, people should first visit the IRS website for tax assistance.

2017 Tax Filing Season Begins Jan. 23 for Nation’s Taxpayers, Tax Returns due April 18

IRS YouTube Video April 18 is When Your Taxes are Due in 2017                                                             

WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service announced today that the nation’s tax season will begin Monday, Jan. 23, 2017 and reminded taxpayers claiming certain tax credits to expect a longer wait for refunds.

 The IRS will begin accepting electronic tax returns that day, with more than 153 million individual tax returns expected to be filed in 2017. The IRS again expects more than four out of five tax returns will be prepared electronically using tax return preparation software.

 Many software companies and tax professionals will be accepting tax returns before Jan. 23 and then will submit the returns when IRS systems open. The IRS will begin processing paper tax returns at the same time. There is no advantage to filing tax returns on paper in early January instead of waiting for the IRS to begin accepting e-filed returns.

 The IRS reminds taxpayers that a new law requires the IRS to hold refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until Feb. 15. In addition, the IRS wants taxpayers to be aware it will take several days for these refunds to be released and processed through financial institutions. Factoring in weekends and the President’s Day holiday, the IRS cautions that many affected taxpayers may not have actual access to their refunds until the week of Feb. 27.

 “For this tax season, it’s more important than ever for taxpayers to plan ahead,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “People should make sure they have their year-end tax statements in hand, and we encourage people to file as they normally would, including those claiming the credits affected by the refund delay. Even with these significant changes, IRS employees and the entire tax community will be working hard to make this a smooth filing season for taxpayers.”

The IRS also reminds taxpayers that they should keep copies of their prior-year tax returns for at least three years. Taxpayers who are changing tax software products this filing season will need their adjusted gross income from their 2015 tax return in order to file electronically. The Electronic Filing Pin is no longer an option. Taxpayers can visit IRS.Gov/GetReady for more tips on preparing to file their 2016 tax return.

 April 18 Filing Deadline

The filing deadline to submit 2016 tax returns is Tuesday, April 18, 2017, rather than the traditional April 15 date. In 2017, April 15 falls on a Saturday, and this would usually move the filing deadline to the following Monday – April 17. However, Emancipation Day – a legal holiday in the District of Columbia – will be observed on that Monday, which pushes the nation’s filing deadline to Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Under the tax law, legal holidays in the District of Columbia affect the filing deadline across the nation.

 “The opening of filing season reflects months and months of work by IRS employees,” Koskinen said. “This year, we had a number of important legislative changes to program into our systems, including the EITC refund date, as well as dealing with resource limitations. Our systems require extensive programming and testing beforehand to ensure we’re ready to accept and process more than 150 million returns.”

 The IRS also has been working with the tax industry and state revenue departments as part of the Security Summit initiative to continue strengthening processing systems to protect taxpayers from identity theft and refund fraud. A number of new provisions are being added in 2017 to expand progress made during the past year.

 Refunds in 2017
Choosing e-file and direct deposit for refunds remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund.

 The IRS still anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, but there are some important factors to keep in mind for taxpayers.

Beginning in 2017, a new law requires the IRS to hold refunds on tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit until mid-February. Under the change required by Congress in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, the IRS must hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC — until at least Feb. 15. This change helps ensure that taxpayers get the refund they are owed by giving the IRS more time to help detect and prevent fraud.

As in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing tax returns once the filing season begins. All taxpayers should file as usual, and tax return preparers should also submit returns as they normally do – including returns claiming EITC and ACTC.

 The IRS will begin releasing EITC and ACTC refunds startingFeb. 15. However, the IRS cautions taxpayers that these refunds likely won’t arrive in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of Feb. 27 (assuming there are no processing issues with the tax return and the taxpayer chose direct deposit). This additional period is due to several factors, including banking and financial systems needing time to process deposits.

After refunds leave the IRS, it takes additional time for them to be processed and for financial institutions to accept and deposit the refunds to bank accounts and products. The IRS reminds taxpayers many financial institutions do not process payments on weekends or holidays, which can affect when refunds reach taxpayers. For EITC and ACTC filers, the three-day holiday weekend involving President’s Day may affect their refund timing.

 Where’s My Refund? ‎on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go phone app will be updated with projected deposit dates for early EITC and ACTC refund filers a few days after Feb. 15. Taxpayers will not see a refund date on Where’s My Refund? ‎or through their software packages until then. The IRS, tax preparers and tax software will not have additional information on refund dates, so Where’s My Refund? remains the best way to check the status of a refund.

 Help for Taxpayers

 The IRS reminds taxpayers they have a variety of options to get help filing and preparing their tax return on IRS.gov. Taxpayers can also, if eligible, locate help from a community volunteer. Go to IRS.gov and click on the Filing tab for more information.

 Seventy percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. Commercial partners of the IRS offer free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $64,000 or less.

 Online fillable forms provides electronic versions of IRS paper forms to all taxpayers regardless of income that can be prepared and filed by people comfortable with completing their own returns.

 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offer free tax help to people who qualify. Go toirs.gov and enter “free tax prep” in the search box to learn more and find a nearby VITA or TCE site, or download the IRS2Go smartphone app to find a free tax prep provider.

 The IRS also reminds taxpayers that a trusted tax professional can provide helpful information and advice about the ever-changing tax code. Tips for choosing a return preparer and details about national tax professional groups are available on IRS.gov.

 Renewal Reminder for Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINS) ITINs are used by people who have tax-filing or payment obligations under U.S. law but are not eligible for a Social Security number. Under a recent change in law, any ITIN not used on a tax return at least once in the past three years will expire on Jan. 1, 2017. In addition, any ITIN with middle digits of either 78 or 79 (9NN-78-NNNN or 9NN-79-NNNN) will also expire on that date.

 This means that anyone with an expiring ITIN and a need to file a tax return in the upcoming filing season should file a renewal application in the next few weeks to avoid lengthy refund and processing delays. Failure to renew early could result in refund delays and denial of some tax benefits until the ITIN is renewed.

 An ITIN renewal application filed now will be processed before one submitted at the height of tax season from mid-January to February. Currently, a complete and accurate renewal application can be processed in as little as seven weeks. But this timeframe is expected to expand to as much as 11 weeks during tax season, which runs from mid-January through April.

 Several common errors are currently slowing down or holding up ITIN renewal applications. The mistakes generally center on missing information, and/or insufficient supporting documentation. ITIN renewal applicants should be sure to use the latest version of Form W-7, revised September 2016. The most current version of the form, along with its instructions, are posted on IRS.gov.

 

Top Patent Stories

By Debby Winters

Every year Donald Zuhn recalls the top 20 patent stories for the past year.  You can find his selections for 2016 at these links: Stories 16 to 20, 11 to 15, 6- 10, and the top 5 stories.

Of note are the following:

#18 about the CRISPR patent.  CRISPR is an acronym for Clustered Regularly lnterspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.  There are many aspects about this, or should I say “these,” patents as more than one has been filed, and that’s part of the story itself.  Since these patents were filed in the days of first-to-invent, rather than first-to-file, therein lies an additional wrinkle to this story.  I will be blogging about CRISPR in the days to come, so won’t go into detail now, but it will be an interesting patent story in 2017 as well.

#16 about the new Trade Secret law, the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (“DTSA”) signed in law in 2016 by President Obama. Let’s keep our eyes on how this will morph in years to come, especially in light of a new Presidential Administration.

#4  is one of the important stories for both patent attorneys and inventors. In May of 2016, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued the Subject Matter Eligibility Update, which provides further guidance for determining subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101.  We will see more to come on this topic to help clarify what is eligible subject matter for a patent and what is not.  This is also the topic of #2 in continuing fallout of the Supreme Court’s 2014 Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank.

#1- The top patent story, according to Dr. Zuhn was the Supreme Courts refusal to hear a case referred to as Sequenom.  Despite Sequenom’s petition for certiorari and a total of twenty-two amicus briefs that were filed encouraging the Court to grant certiorari, in June, the Supreme Court surprised many in the patent community by issuing an order denying certiorari in the case.  This story is from the Federal Circuit’s very controversial decision in Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. v. Sequenom, Inc., in which the Federal Circuit affirmed the District Court’s grant of summary judgment of invalidity that the claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,258,540 concerning fetal DNA were patent ineligible.

For more details on any of these cases, click on the links above.

 

 

Earlier Due Dates for Certain Information Returns

Some IRS filing dates for forms have been moved up. Know the new dates for W-2, W-3 and Forms 1098 and 1099

Employers face a new January 31, 2017, due date for filing 2016 Forms W-2 and W-3 with the Social Security Administration. This date applies whether you file using paper forms or electronically. Forms 1099-MISC are due to the IRS by January 31 when reporting non-employee compensation payments in box 7. Employers must furnish copies of these forms to their employees by the January 31 deadline. These earlier due dates will help the IRS find and stop refund fraud.

Penalties for failure to file correct information returns or furnish correct payee statements have increased and are now subject to inflationary adjustments. Information returns and payee statements include, for example, Forms 1098, 1099, W-2G and W-2. The increased penalties are effective for information returns required to be filed after December 31, 2015.

 

Health Reimbursement Arrangements – State and Local Government Health Plans

The Path Act expands existing use of HRAs in the accident or health plans of a state or local retirement system. This articlediscusses the limited exception for certain HRA reimbursements of medical expenses of a deceased employee’s beneficiary.

 

Form 1098-T Reporting Changes and Limited Penalty Relief for 2016 Returns

Beginning with the 2016 calendar year, eligible educational institutions are required to report on Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, the aggregate amount of payments received for qualified tuition and related expenses during the calendar year from, or on behalf of, a student. Previously, eligible educational institutions could choose to report either the aggregate amount of payments received or billed for tuition and related expenses.

Announcement 2016-17 provides limited penalty relief for 2016 Forms 1098-T. The IRS will not impose penalties on eligible education institutions that mistakenly report the aggregate amount billed (instead of amount received) for qualified tuition and related expenses on Form 1098-T.