IRS Promotes Specialized Online Services during Small Business Week

National Small Business Week for 2017 is April 30 through May 6. During this time, the Internal Revenue Service will promote many online products to help small business owners and those who are self-employed understand their tax responsibilities.

Here are just a few among dozens of useful IRS products in the spotlight for this year’s National Small Business Week:

  1. Sharing Economy Tax Center.  This special webpage provides fast answers to tax questions, as well as links and forms for the sharing economy. People who use one of the many online platforms to engage in this type of business, such as renting a spare bedroom, providing car rides or providing many other goods or services, are involved in the sharing economy. Topics include filing requirements, rules for home rentals and business expenses.
  2. Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center.  Taxpayers will find the Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center to be a great resource for sole proprietors and others who are in business for themselves. This site has many handy tips and references to tax rules a self-employed person may need to know. In addition to many other subjects, taxpayers will find information on:
    • How to Make Quarterly Payments.
    • Requirements for Information Returns.
    • How to File an Annual Return.
    • Business Structures.
    • Qualified Joint Ventures
  3. Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center.  This online information center features links to a wealth of useful tools, including Small Business Taxes: The Virtual Workshop and common IRS forms with instructions. Find help on everything from how to get an Employer Identification Number online to how to engage with the IRS during an audit. The IRS Tax Calendar for businesses and Self-Employed is a convenient, at-a-glance resource designed to show key tax dates for businesses. Download the Calendar Connector tool to get the dates even when offline.
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IRS Sees Millions of Tax Returns Last Days of Tax Filing Season

The Internal Revenue Service announced that the agency received 135.6 million returns this year following a late surge of filings.

During the week ending April 21, the IRS received more than 17 million tax returns. The vast majority, 13.6 million returns, were filed through IRS e-file.

Looking at the entire tax filing season, the IRS has received 135.6 million tax returns through April 21. With the influx of returns last week, the number of filings is now close to the number of returns from last year’s filing season.

With the mid-April filings, the number of refunds issued this year swelled to 97 million worth $268.3 billion. The average refund was $2,763, up slightly from last year’s average of $2,711.

Taxpayers have filed 11.6 million extension forms this filing season, up 0.9 percent compared to the same time last year. The vast majority of extensions were e-filed, 9.7 million, an increase of 11 percent from the same time last year.

An extension form filed by the deadline allows a taxpayer to hold off on filing the actual tax return for six months, although any tax due must have been paid by the April 18 deadline to avoid interest and penalties.

2017 FILING SEASON STATISTICS
Cumulative statistics comparing 04/22/2016 and 04/21/2017
Individual Income Tax Returns: 2016 2017 % Change
Total Returns Received 136,528,000 135,638,000 -0.7
Total Returns Processed 129,456,000 128,789,000 -0.5
E-filing Receipts:
TOTAL 122,546,000 122,164,000 -0.3
Tax Professionals 70,864,000 70,401,000 -0.7
Self-prepared 51,682,000 51,763,000 0.2
Web Usage:
Visits to IRS.gov 325,525,568 312,255,666 -4.1
Total Refunds:
Number 97,079,000 97,104,000 0.0
Amount $263.197 Billion $268.296 Billion 1.9
Average refund $2,711 $2,763 1.9
Direct Deposit Refunds:
Number 81,221,000 81,646,000 0.5
Amount $234.269 Billion $239.410 Billion 2.2
Average refund $2,884 $2,932 1.7

 

Tips on What to do After the Tax-Filing Deadline

Tax day has come and gone for most people, but some taxpayers may still be dealing with their taxes. The IRS offers these tips for handling some typical after-tax-day issues:

Didn’t File by April 18?

There is no penalty for filing a late return after the tax deadline if the taxpayer receives a refund. Penalties and interest only accrue on unfiled returns if taxes are not paid by April 18. Anyone who did not file and owes tax should file a return as soon as they can and pay as much as possible to reduce penalties and interest. IRS Free File is available on IRS.gov to prepare and file returns electronically through October 16.

“Where’s My Refund?”

The “Where’s My Refund?” tool is available on IRS.gov, IRS2Go and by phone at 800-829-1954. Taxpayers need specific information to use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool. That information includes the primary Social Security number on the return, the filing status (Single, Married Filing Jointly, etc.) and the amount of refund.

Changing Withholding?

Events – like a change in marital status – during the year may change the exemptions, adjustments, deductions or credits a taxpayer expects to claim on next year’s return. Employees can use the IRS’s online Withholding Calculator to figure and then adjust their withholding by filling out a new Form W-4, normally with the company’s personnel office. Taxpayers who do not have taxes withheld from their pay or don’t have enough tax withheld, may need to make estimated tax payments. Taxpayers who are self-employed normally need to make estimated payments that can be adjusted to avoid a balance due in the future.

Need to View a Tax Account Balance or Make a Payment? Taxpayers who owe taxes can view their balance, pay with IRS Direct Pay, by debit or credit card or apply for an online payment agreement. Before accessing your tax account online, you must authenticate your identity through the Secure Access process. Several other electronic payment options are available on IRS.gov/payments. They are secure and easy and taxpayers receive immediate confirmation when they submit their payment.

Need to Fix an Error on a Return?

Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, must be filed by paper and is available on IRS.gov/forms at any time. Do not file an amended return before the original return has been processed. Taxpayers should file an amended tax return to change the filing status, or correct income, deductions or credits. The IRS generally corrects math errors and mails a request for any missing documents. Use “Where’s My Amended Return?” tool to track the status of your amended return. It will take up to three weeks after mailing the return to show up in the IRS system. Processing can take up to 16 weeks.

Need Help Responding to an IRS Notice or Letter?

An IRS notice or letter will explain the reason for the contact and give instructions on how to handle the issue.  Most questions can be answered by visiting the “Understanding Your Notice or IRS Letter,” on IRS.gov. Taxpayers can call the phone number included in the notice if they still have questions. Taxpayers have fundamental rights under the law. The “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” presents these rights in 10 categories. This helps taxpayers when they interact with the IRS. Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, highlights a list of taxpayer rights and the agency’s obligations to protect them. If normal IRS channels don’t solve the problem, the Taxpayer Advocate Service is available at 877-777-4778.

Watch Out for Scams

Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS will never contact a taxpayer via e-mail, text or social media. Any e-mail that appears to be from the IRS about a refund or tax problem is probably an attempt by scammers to steal information. Forward the e-mail to phishing@irs.gov. The first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue will be by mail.

For Small Business Startups, IRS Explains New Option for Claiming Research Credit; Option Still Available for Those That Already Filed

The Internal Revenue Service issued  guidance explaining how eligible small businesses can take advantage of a new option enabling them to apply part or all of their research credit against their payroll tax liability, instead of their income tax liability. Before 2016, taxpayers could only take the research credit against their income tax liability.

Notice 2017-23, posted today on IRS.gov, provides guidance on a new provision included in the Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes (PATH) Act enacted in December 2015. This new option will be available for the first time to any eligible small business filing its 2016 federal income tax return this tax season. Those who already filed still have time to choose this option.

The option to elect the new payroll tax credit may especially benefit any eligible startup that has little or no income tax liability. To qualify for the new option for the current tax-year, a business must have gross receipts of less than $5 million and could not have had gross receipts prior to 2012.

An eligible small business with qualifying research expenses can choose to apply up to $250,000 of its research credit against its payroll tax liability. An eligible small business chooses this option by filling out Form 6765, Credit for Increasing Research Activities, and attaching it to a timely-filed business income tax return. But under a special rule for tax-year 2016, a small business that failed to choose this option and still wishes to do so, can still make the election by filing an amended return by Dec. 31, 2017. See the notice for further details.

After choosing this option, a small business claims the payroll tax credit by filling out Form 8974, Qualified Small Business Payroll Tax Credit for Increasing Research Activities. This form must be attached to its payroll tax return, for example Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return. Further details on how and when to claim the credit are in the notice.

The notice provides interim guidance on controlled groups, the definition of gross receipts, and other issues. The notice also requests public comment on various payroll tax credit issues to be addressed in future guidance. See the notice for details on how and when to submit comments. For more information on the research credit itself, see the instructions to Form 6765.

Helpful Tips to Keep in Mind When Amending Your Tax Return

Taxpayers can fix mistakes or omissions on their tax return by filing an amended tax return. Those who need to amend will find the following tips helpful.

  1. File using paper form. Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to correct the tax return. Taxpayers can’t file amended returns electronically. They can obtain the form on IRS.gov/forms at any time. Mail the Form 1040X to the address listed in the form’s instructions.
  2. Amend to correct errors. File an amended tax return to correct errors or make changes to an original tax return. For example, taxpayers should amend to change their filing status, or to correct their income, deductions or credits.
  3. Don’t amend for math errors, missing forms. Taxpayers generally don’t need to file an amended return to correct math errors on their original return. The IRS will automatically correct these items. In addition, taxpayers do not need to file an amended return if they forgot to attach tax forms, such as a Form W-2 or a schedule. The IRS will mail a request to the taxpayer, if needed.
  4. File within three-year time limit. Taxpayers usually have three years from the date they filed the original tax return to file Form 1040X to claim a refund. A taxpayer can file it within two years from the date they paid the tax, if that date is later. That means the last day for most people to file a claim for a refund for tax year 2013 is April 18, 2017. See Form 1040X instructions for special rules that may apply.
  5. Use separate forms for each year. Taxpayers who are amending more than one tax return must file a Form 1040X for each tax year. Mail each year’s Form 1040X in separate envelopes to avoid confusion. Note the tax year of the amended return on the top of the Form 1040X. Check the form’s instructions for where to mail the amended return.
  6. Attach other forms with changes. If a taxpayer uses other IRS forms or schedules to make changes, they need to attach them to the Form 1040X.
  7. Wait to file for corrected refund for tax year 2016. If due a refund from their original tax year 2016 return, taxpayers should wait to get it before filing Form 1040X to claim an additional refund. Amended returns may take up to 16 weeks to process.
  8. Pay additional tax. If the taxpayer will owe more tax, they should file Form 1040X and pay the tax as soon as possible to avoid penalties and interest. Consider using IRS Direct Pay to pay any tax directly from a checking or savings account at no cost.
  9. Track your amended return. Generally, a taxpayer can track the status of their amended tax return three weeks after they file with ‘Where’s My Amended Return?’ It is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian. The tool can track the status of an amended return for the current year and up to three years back. If a taxpayer has filed amended returns for multiple years, they can check each year, one at a time.

Taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a 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.

Should Trump release his tax returns?

With the recent tax return filing deadline, it is of interest to see what American’s think of Trump releasing his tax returns.  Trump says American’s don’t care, but is that true? Of course Trump is well-known for casting lies very easily and this is no different. Here are the results from a recent poll.

Should Trump release his tax returns?
60.7% of the respondents voted: Yes
While 22.6% votes: I don’t care
Another 15.0% voted: No
While the remainder voted:  Either None of the above/other, I don’t care or I don’t know
What do you think?  Should Trump release his tax returns?

Important Facts about Filing Late and Paying Penalties

April 18 was this year’s deadline for most people to file their federal tax return and pay any tax they owe. If taxpayers are due a refund, there is no penalty if they file a late tax return.

Taxpayers who owe tax, and failed to file and pay on time, will most likely owe interest and penalties on the tax they pay late. To keep interest and penalties to a minimum, taxpayers should file their tax return and pay any tax owed as soon as possible.

Here are some facts that taxpayers should know:

  1. Two penalties may apply. One penalty is for filing late and one is for paying late. They can add up fast. Interest accrues on top of penalties
  2. Penalty for late filing. If taxpayers file their 2016 tax return more than 60 days after the due date or extended due date, the minimum penalty is $205 or, if they owe less than $205, 100 percent of the unpaid tax. Otherwise, the penalty can be as much as 5 percent of their unpaid taxes each month up to a maximum of 25 percent.
  3. Penalty for late payment. The penalty is generally 0.5 percent of taxpayers’ unpaid taxes per month. It can build up to as much as 25 percent of their unpaid taxes.
  4. Combined penalty per month. If both the late filing and late payment penalties apply, the maximum amount charged for the two penalties is 5 percent per month.
  5. Taxpayers should file even if they can’t pay. Filing  and paying as soon as possible will keep interest and penalties to a minimum. IRS e-file and Free File programs are available for  returns filed after the deadline. If a taxpayer can’t pay in full, getting a loan or paying by debit or credit card may be less expensive than owing the IRS.
  6. Payment options. Taxpayers should explore their payment options at IRS.gov/payments. For individuals, IRS Direct Pay is a fast and free way to pay directly from a checking or savings account. The IRS will work with taxpayers to help them resolve their tax debt. Most people can set up a payment plan using the Online Payment Agreement tool on IRS.gov.
  7. Late payment penalty may not apply. If taxpayers requested an extension of time to file their income tax return by the tax due date and paid at least 90 percent of the taxes they owe, they may not face a failure-to-pay penalty. However, they must pay the remaining balance by the extended due date. Taxpayers will owe interest on any taxes they pay after the April 18 due date.
  8. No penalty if reasonable cause.  Taxpayers will not have to pay a failure-to-file or failure-to-pay penalty if they can show reasonable cause for not filing or paying on time.

Taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a 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.