Extension filers can avoid making these common filing errors

The IRS has issued a notifications for taxpayers who filed for an extension of time, that they have until Oct. 15 to submit their tax return. To make sure they meet their tax obligations, taxpayers should file accurate tax returns. If a taxpayer makes an error on their tax return, it will likely take longer to process and could delay a refund. Taxpayers can avoid many common errors by filing electronically, the most accurate way to file a tax return. All taxpayers can e-file using IRS Free File or Free File Fillable Forms.

Here are common errors for taxpayers to avoid when preparing their tax return:

  • Missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers. Taxpayers should be sure to enter each SSN on a tax return exactly as printed on the Social Security card.
  • Misspelled names. People should double check to make sure they spelled all names listed on a tax return exactly as listed on the taxpayers’ Social Security cards.
  • Filing status. Some taxpayers claim the wrong filing status, such as Head of Household instead of Single. The Interactive Tax Assistant on IRS.gov can help taxpayers choose the correct status. E-file software also helps prevent mistakes.
  • Math mistakes. Math errors are common, ranging from simple addition and subtraction to more complex items. Figuring the taxable portion of a pension, IRA distribution or Social Security benefits is more difficult and results in more errors. Taxpayers should always double check their math. Better yet, tax preparation software does it automatically.
  • Figuring credits or deductions. Taxpayers can make mistakes figuring their Earned Income Tax CreditChild and Dependent Care Credit, the standard deduction and other items. Follow the instructions carefully. For example, a taxpayer who’s 65 or older, or blind, should claim the correct, higher standard deduction, if not itemizing. The IRS Interactive Tax Assistant can help determine if a taxpayer is eligible for tax credits or deductions.
  • Incorrect bank account numbers. Taxpayers who are due a refund should choose direct deposit for ease and convenience, but the IRS cautions taxpayers to use the correct routing and account numbers on the tax return.
  • Unsigned forms. An unsigned tax return isn’t valid. Both spouses must sign a joint return; an exception may apply for some members of the military. Taxpayers can avoid this error by filing their return electronically and digitally signing it before sending it to the IRS. Taxpayers who are using a tax software product for the first time will need their adjusted gross income from their 2016 tax return to file electronically. Taxpayers who are using the same tax software they used last year usually will not need to enter prior-year information to electronically sign their 2017 tax return.
  • Filing with an expired ITIN. The IRS will process and treat as timely a return filed with an expired Individual Tax Identification Number, but won’t allow any exemptions or credits. Taxpayers will receive a notice explaining that an ITIN must be current before the IRS will pay a refund. Once the taxpayer renews the ITIN, the IRS will process exemptions and credits and pay an allowed refund. ITIN expiration and renewal information is available on IRS.gov.

Taxpayers can sign up to receive IRS email subscription services

The IRS issues tax information by email for many different audiences. Here are some of the electronic subscriptions people can request by visiting the e-News Subscriptions page on IRS.gov:

  • Guidewire: People who sign up for Guidewire receive email notifications when the IRS issues advance copies of tax guidance, such as regulations, revenue rulings, revenue procedures, announcements, and notices.
  • e-News for Tax Professionals: Provides the latest national news for the tax professional community, as well as links to resources on IRS.gov and local news and events by state.
  • Outreach Corner:  Provides organizations such as businesses and non-profits articles content that they can use in their own communication products and newsletters.
  • Tax Statistics: Supplies information about the most recent tax statistics.
  • Quick Alerts: Provides tax professionals and tax software providers with the latest information about e-file issues and events.
  • IRS Newswire: Provides news releases issued by IRS National Media Relations Office in Washington, DC.

Here are some other electronic subscriptions the IRS offers:

Tips for Taxpayers Who Have to Amend a Tax Return

Taxpayers who discover they made mistakes or omissions on their tax return can correct them by filing an amended tax return. Those who need to amend should remember these tips:

  • 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. Mail the Form 1040X to the address listed in the form’s instructions.
  • 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.
  • 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 don’t 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.
  • 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. Taxpayers can file it within two years from the date they paid the tax, if that date is later.
  • Use separate forms for each year. Taxpayers who are amending more than one tax return must file a Form 1040X for each tax year. They should mail each year’s Form 1040X in separate envelopes to avoid confusion. Taxpayers should check the box for the calendar year or enter the other calendar year or fiscal year they are amending. The form’s instructions have the mailing address for the amended return.
  • Attach other forms with changes. Taxpayers who use other IRS forms or schedules to make changes must attach them to the Form 1040X.
  • Wait to file for corrected refund for tax year 2017. Taxpayers who are due refunds from their original tax year 2017 return should wait to get it before filing Form 1040X to claim an additional refund. Amended returns may take up to 16 weeks to process.
  • Pay additional tax. Taxpayers who will owe more tax should file Form 1040X and pay the tax as soon as possible to avoid penalties and interest. They should consider using IRS Direct Pay to pay any tax directly from a checking or savings account at no cost.
  • Track amended return. Generally, taxpayers can track the status of their amended tax return three weeks after they file, using ‘Where’s My Amended Return?’ It’s 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 previous years. Taxpayers who have filed amended returns for multiple years can check each year, one at a time.

IRS highlights key business tax topics for continued education on small businesses

In recognition of National Small Business Week, April 29 to May 5, which was a HUGE success, the Internal Revenue Service wants to remind everyone of several resources to help small business owners and self-employed individuals understand and meet their tax obligations. The new tax law changes enacted in December 2017 make it especially important for these groups to know about new provisions affecting them.

These resources includ:

  • A series of news releases on various topics including the sharing economy, home office deduction, cybersecurity and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.
  • Tax tips about business provisions under the new tax reform law. Topics include tax law changes to depreciation rules and the employer credit for family and medical leave and how it benefits employers. Tax tips are written in plain language and can be subscribed to using the IRS’s Tax Tips email-subscription program.
  • Information for small businesses is also available through IRS social media channels including tax tips and other resources. Stay informed following the hashtag #IRSsmallbiz and help us spread these messages by sharing the @IRSnews, @IRSTaxPros and @IRSenEspanol tweets.

Other small business resources

The IRS encourages business owners to check out other webinars on the IRS video portal. The portal has presentations on a variety of small business topics. Business owners may also be interested in these sites:

More information

Major tax reform was approved by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) on December 22, 2017. The IRS has been working to implement its provisions and give information and guidance to taxpayers, businesses and the tax community as it becomes available.

National Small Business Week: Remember to Check out these IRS.gov Resources

It is the start of 2018 National Small Business Week-  April 29 through May 5. This is the perfect time for small business owners and the self-employed to check out many online products to help them understand their tax responsibilities.

Here are a few of the products in the spotlight for this year’s National Small Business Week:

  • Sharing Economy Tax Center.  This web page provides fast answers to tax questions and links and forms about the sharing economy. People who are involved in the sharing economy are those who use online platforms to engage in businesses, such as renting a spare bedroom, providing car rides, and providing other goods and services.
  • Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center.  The Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center is 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. Self-employed taxpayers will find information on topics, including how to make quarterly payments and business structures.
  • Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center.  This online information center features links to useful tools, including Small Business Taxes: The Virtual Workshop and common IRS forms with instructions. Taxpayers can find help on everything from how to get an Employer Identification Number online to how to engage with the IRS during an audit. A link to the IRS Tax Calendar for Businesses and Self-Employed also provides at-a-glance key tax dates for businesses.

IRS Uses YouTube to Provide Tax Information to Small Business Owners

Welcome to Small Business Week!

During National Small Business Week – and any time of the year – small business owners can visit the IRS channel to watch a series of videos that can help them navigate tax topics that affect their business.

The small business playlist on the official IRS YouTube channel features several videos that might be short, but that pack in a lot of helpful information. The videos walk business owners through topics such as:

Last-minute tips from IRS; e-file for convenience, faster refund

The Internal Revenue Service offered taxpayers still working on their 2017 taxes a number of tips. These basic tips are designed to help people avoid common errors that could delay refunds or cause future tax problems.

 The IRS encourages taxpayers to file electronically. Doing so, whether through e-file or IRS Free File, vastly reduces tax return errors, as the tax software does the calculations, flags common errors and prompts taxpayers for missing information. Free File Fillable Forms means there is a free option for everyone.

 Request extra time

Anyone who needs more time to file can get it. The easiest way to do so is through the Free File link on IRS.gov. In a matter of minutes, anyone, regardless of income, can use this free service to electronically request an extension on Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. To get the extension, taxpayers must estimate their tax liability on this form and pay any amount due.

Alternatively, people can complete a paper copy of Form 4868 and mail it to the IRS. The form must be mailed with a postmark on or before April 17. Download, print and file it anytime from IRS.gov/forms.

Taxpayers are reminded, however, that an extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. Tax payments are generally due April 17, and taxpayers should pay as much as they can to avoid possible penalties and interest.

Make a payment, get an extension

In addition to using Free File to get a filing extension, taxpayers can pay all or part of their estimated income tax due and indicate that the payment is for an extension when using IRS Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), or paying by a credit or debit card. By selecting “extension” as the reason for the payment, the IRS will also accept the payment as an extension – no need to separately file a Form 4868. Taxpayers will also receive a confirmation number after they submit their payment. When paying with Direct Pay and EFTPS taxpayers can sign up for email notifications.

Any payment made with an extension request will reduce or, if the balance is paid in full, eliminate interest and late-payment penalties that apply to payments made after April 17. The interest rate is currently 5 percent per year, compounded daily, and the late-payment penalty is normally 0.5 percent per month.

Refunds

The safest and fastest way for taxpayers to get their refund is to have it electronically deposited into their bank or other financial account. Taxpayers can use direct deposit to deposit their refund into one, two or even three accounts. See Form 8888, Allocation of Refund, for details.

 After filing, use “Where’s My Refund?” on IRS.gov or download the IRS2Go Mobile App to track the status of a refund. It provides the most up-to-date information. It’s updated once per day, usually overnight, so checking more often will not generate new information. Calling the IRS will not yield different results from those available online, nor will ordering a tax transcript.

 The IRS issues nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days.

 Special instructions for paper filers

 Math errors and other mistakes are common on paper returns, especially those prepared or filed in haste at the last minute. These tips may help those choosing this option:

 

  • Fill in all requested Taxpayer Identification Numbers, usually Social Security numbers, including all dependents claimed on the tax return. Check only one filing status and the appropriate exemption boxes.
  • When using the tax tables, be sure to use the correct row and column for the filing status claimed and taxable income amount shown.
  • Sign and date the return. If filing a joint return, both spouses must sign.
  • Attach all required forms and schedules.
  • Mail the return to the right address. Check Where to Fileon IRS.gov.Penalties and interest

    By law, the IRS may assess penalties to taxpayers for both failing to file a tax return and for failing to pay taxes they owe by the deadline. Taxpayers who are thinking of missing the filing deadline because they can’t pay all of the taxes they owe should consider filing and paying what they can to lessen interest and penalties. Penalties for those who owe tax and fail to file either a tax return or an extension request by April 17 can be higher than if they had filed and not paid the taxes they owed.

    The failure-to-file penalty is generally 5 percent per month and can be as much as 25 percent of the unpaid tax, depending on how late the taxpayer files. The failure-to-pay penalty, which is the penalty for any taxes not paid by the deadline, is 0.5 percent of the unpaid taxes per month.

    Installment agreements

    Qualified taxpayers can choose to pay any taxes owed over time through an installment agreement. An online payment plan can be set up in a matter of minutes. Those who owe $50,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest can use the Online Payment Agreement application to set up a short-term payment plan of 120-days or less, or a monthly agreement for up to 72 months.

    Alternatively, taxpayers can request a payment agreement by filing Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request. This form can be downloaded from IRS.gov/forms and should be mailed to the IRS along with a tax return, IRS bill or notice.

    Owe tax?

    Taxpayers who owe taxes can use IRS Direct Pay or any of several other electronic payment options. They are secure and easy and taxpayers receive immediate confirmation when they submit their payment. Or, mail a check or money order payable to the “United States Treasury” along with a Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher.