The Internal Revenue Service today encouraged taxpayers to consider a mid-year tax withholding checkup.

IRS Urges Taxpayers to Check Their Withholding; New Factors Increase Importance of Mid-Year Check Up

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today encouraged taxpayers to consider a mid-year tax withholding checkup following several new factors that could affect their refunds in 2017.  Taking a closer look at the taxes being withheld can help ensure the right amount is withheld, either for tax refund purposes or to avoid an unexpected tax bill next year.

The withholding review takes on even more importance this year given a new tax law change that requires the IRS to hold refunds a few weeks for early filers in 2017 claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit. In addition, the IRS and state tax administrators continue to strengthen identity theft and refund fraud protections, which means some tax returns could again face additional review time next year to protect against fraud.

“With these changes, it makes good sense on many different levels to check on your withholding and plan ahead for next tax season,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “It’s a personal choice if you want to have extra money withheld to get a bigger tax refund, but you have options available if you prefer to have a smaller refund next year and more take-home money now.”

So far in 2016, the IRS has issued more than 102 million tax refunds out of 140 million total individual returns processed, with the average refund well over $2,700. Historically, the refund figure has increased over time in size.

By adjusting the Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, taxpayers can ensure that the right amount is taken out of their pay throughout the year so that they don’t pay too much tax and have to wait until they file their tax return to get any refund. Employers use the form to figure the amount of federal income tax to be withheld from pay.

Some Refunds Delayed in 2017

When considering refund issues, the IRS wants taxpayers to be aware several factors could affect the timing of their tax refunds next year.

A major change will affect some early tax filers claiming two key credits who won’t see their refunds until after Feb. 15.

Beginning in 2017, a new law requires the IRS to hold refunds on tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) 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 agency 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. Even though the IRS cannot issue refunds for some early filers until at least Feb. 15, the IRS reminds taxpayers that most refunds will still be issued within the normal timeframe: 21 days or less, after being accepted for processing by the IRS.

”This is an important change to be aware of for some taxpayers used to getting an early refund,” Koskinen said. “We’ll be focusing on awareness of this change throughout the fall, but it’s important for taxpayers who might be affected by this to be aware of the change for their planning purposes. Although we still expect to issue most refunds within 21 days, we don’t want people caught by surprise if they get their refund a few weeks later than previous years.”

Stronger Security Filters and Tax Refund Processing

As the IRS steps up its efforts to combat identity theft and tax refund fraud through its many processing filters, legitimate refund returns sometimes get delayed. While the IRS is working diligently to stop fraudulent refunds from being issued, it is also focused on releasing legitimate refunds as quickly as possible.

The IRS, state tax agencies and the private sector tax industry continue to work together to fight fraud through their unprecedented Security Summit partnership. Additional safeguards will be set in place for the upcoming 2017 filing season.

“These increased security screenings are invisible to most taxpayers,” Koskinen said. “But we want people to be aware we are taking additional steps to protect taxpayers from identity theft, and that sometimes means the real taxpayers face a slight delay in their refunds. As we continue improving our processes and working with the states and the tax industry, we will stop more fraud while also fine-tuning our tools to reduce the number of innocent taxpayers who might see a refund delay. ”

The agency encourages taxpayers to check their tax withholding now. Whether they prefer more earned money during the year or a large refund, checking withholding can ensure people don’t receive an unexpected tax bill next year. Making these checks in the late summer or early fall can give taxpayers enough time to adjust their withholdings before the tax year ends in December.

Changes in Circumstances and Advance Premium Tax Credits

There are also some important reminders for taxpayers who receive advance payments of the Premium Tax Credit under the Affordable Care Act.

People who have advance payments of the premium tax credit made to their insurance company on their behalf should report life changes to their Marketplace. Changes in circumstances that should be reported include moving to a new address and changes to income or family size. Reporting these changes will help individuals avoid large differences between the advance credit payments and the amount of the premium tax credit allowed on their tax return, which may affect their refund or balance due.

Making a Withholding Adjustment

In many cases, a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, is all that is needed to make an adjustment. Taxpayers submit it to their employer, and the employer uses the form to figure the amount of federal income tax to be withheld from pay

The IRS offers several online resources to help taxpayers bring taxes paid closer to what is owed. They are available anytime on IRS.gov. They include:

Self-employed taxpayers, including those involved in the sharing economy, can use the Form 1040-ES worksheet to correctly figure their estimated tax payments. If they also work for an employer, they can often forgo making these quarterly payments by instead having more tax taken out of their pay.

If you have any question regarding your withholding and/or need some assistance with the W-4, it might be a good idea to consider discussing your individual situation with your tax professional.

New Tax Due Dates & Extension Periods

New Tax Due Dates & Extension Periods for Most Entities for Tax Year 2016

Many bills that Congress passes contain provisions that affect items that aren’t related to the main bill. The “Surface Transportation and Veteran’s Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015” is one such bill. Primarily a stopgap extension of the Highway Trust Fund, this bill also includes tax provisions that impact the due dates of a number of returns and other required filings.

The due date changes with the most impact will likely be those changes for partnership tax returns (Form 1065) and C Corporation tax returns. Essentially the due dates have swapped. The significant reorganization of due dates is intended to assist individuals involved in pass-through entities in receiving information required to prepare their individual returns in a more timely fashion.

For tax returns reporting 2016 information that are due in 2017, the following due date changes will apply.  These changes are effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2015 for calendar year filers (tax year 2016 and beyond):

Form 2016 Filing Due Date(Tax   Year 2015) 2017 Filing Due Date(Tax Year 2016)
Form 1065 – Partnerships April 15th March 15th
Form 1065 Extension September 15th September 15th
C Corporations March 15th April 15th
S Corporations March 15th March 15th
C Corporations & S Corporation Extensions September 15th September 15th
Form 1040 Individual April 15th April 15th
Form 1120 C Corporation w/June 30 Fiscal Year September 15th September 15th
C Corporation Extension w/June 30 Fiscal Year March 15th April 15th
C CorporationFiscal   Year End (other than Dec. 31 or June 30) 15th day of 3rd month after year-end 15th day of 4th month after year-end
C Corporation Extension Fiscal Year End (other than Dec. 31 or June 30) 15th day of 9th monthafter year-end 15th day of 10th month after year-end
Form 1040 Extension October 15th October 15th
Form 1041 Trust & Estate April 15th April 15th
Form 1041 Extension September 15th September 30th
Form 5500 series –   Employee Benefit Plan July15th July 15th
Form 5500 series – Employee Benefit Plan Extension October 15th October 15th
Information Returns (i.e., W-2 and 1099s) To   IRS/SSA — Feb. 28 andMarch 31 if filed electronically Forms   W-2 and certain 1099-MISC due to IRS/SSA Jan. 31. All other Forms 1099 due   Feb. 28; March 31 if filed electronically

For fiscal year filers:

  • Partnership and S Corporation tax returns will be due the 15th day of the third month after the end of their tax year. The filing date for S Corporations is unchanged.
  • C Corporation tax returns will be due the 15th day of the fourth month after the end of the tax year.  A special rule to defer the due date change for C Corporations with fiscal years that end on June 30 defers the change until December 31, 2025 – a full ten years.

Other changes include:

  • Filers of U.S. Return of Partnership Income (Form 1065) will have a longer extension period, a maximum of six months, rather than the current five month extension, leaving the current (2015 and prior years) extended due date in place (September 15th for calendar year taxpayers.)
  • U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts (Form 1041) will have a maximum extension of five and a half months, two weeks longer than the current (2015 and prior years) five month extension.
  • Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plans will have a maximum automatic extension of three and a half months.
  • The Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report (FinCEN Report 114, FBAR) will be due on April 15th and permitted to extend for six months, thus aligning the FBAR reporting with the individual tax return reporting. Additionally, the IRS may waive the penalty for failure to file a timely extension request for any taxpayer required to file for the first time.

If you have any questions about these new due dates and/or the impact on your tax filings, please contact Alice, our qualified tax professional at (928)680-1300

 

Understanding the Net Investment Income Tax

Understanding the Net Investment Income Tax

It’s been around since 2013, but many are still struggling to come to grips with the net investment income tax. The 3.8% tax, which is sometimes referred to as the Medicare surtax on net investment income, affected approximately 3.1 million federal income tax returns for 2013 (the only year for which data is available) to the tune of almost $11.7 billion.1 Here’s what you need to know.

What is it?

The net investment income tax is a 3.8% “extra” tax that applies to certain investment income in addition to any other income tax due. Whether you’re subject to the tax depends on two general factors: the amount of your modified adjusted gross income for the year, and how much net investment income you have.

Note:  Nonresident aliens are not subject to the net investment income tax.

What income thresholds apply?

Modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is basically adjusted gross income–the amount that shows up on line 37 of your IRS Form 1040–with certain amounts excluded from income added back in.

The net investment income tax applies only   if your modified adjusted gross income exceeds the following thresholds:

Filing Status MAGI
Married filing jointly or qualifying   widow(er) $250,000
Married filing   separately $125,000
Single or head of   household $200,000

What is net investment income?

Investment income generally includes interest, dividends, capital gains, rental and royalty income, income from nonqualified annuities, and income from passive business activities and businesses engaged in the trade of financial instruments or commodities. Investment income does not include wages, unemployment compensation, Social Security benefits, tax-exempt interest, self-employment income, or distributions from most qualified retirement plans and IRAs.

Note:  Even though items like wages and retirement plan distributions aren’t included in net investment income, they are obviously a factor in calculating MAGI. So higher levels of non-investment income can still make a difference in whether the net investment income tax applies.

Gain from the sale of a personal residence would generally be included in determining investment income. However, investment income does not include any amount of gain that is excluded from gross income for regular income tax purposes. Qualifying individuals are generally able to exclude the first $250,000–or $500,000 for married couples filing jointly–of gain on the sale of a principal residence; any of the gain that’s excluded for regular income tax purposes would not be included in determining investment income.

To calculate net investment income, you reduce your gross investment income by any deductible expenses that can be allocated to the income.  So, for example, associated investment interest expense, investment and brokerage fees, expenses associated with rental and royalty income, and state and local income taxes can all be factored in.

How is the tax calculated?

You know your modified adjusted gross income. You know your net investment income. To calculate the net investment income tax, first subtract the threshold figure (shown above) for your filing status from your MAGI. Then compare the result with your net investment income. Multiply the lower of the two figures by 3.8%.

For example, assume you and your spouse file a joint federal income tax return and have $270,000 in MAGI and $50,000 in net investment income. Your MAGI is $20,000 over the $250,000 threshold for married couples filing jointly. You would owe $760 (3.8% multiplied by $20,000), because the tax is based on the lesser of net investment income or MAGI exceeding the threshold.

How is it reported?

If you’re subject to the net investment income tax, you must complete IRS Form 8960, Net Investment Income Tax–Individuals, Estates, and Trusts, and attach it to your federal income tax return (you must file IRS Form 1040). The instructions for IRS Form 8960 provide an overview of the rules that apply and can be a good source of additional information. If you think you may be affected by the net investment income tax, though, it’s a good idea to consider  discussing your individual situation with a tax professional.

1IRS Statistics of Income Bulletin, Spring 2015

Health Insurance Documents – Forms 1095-A, 1095-B & 1095-C

irs.gov Issue Number:    HCTT 2016-36

Keep your Health Insurance Documents with Your Tax Records

Gathering documents and keeping well-organized records make it easier to prepare a tax return. They can also help provide answers if the IRS needs to follow-up with you for more information.

This year marks the first time that you may receive information forms about health insurance coverage.

The information forms are:

You do not need to send these forms to IRS as proof of your health coverage. However, you should keep any documentation with your other tax records. This includes records of your family’s employer-provided coverage, premiums paid, and type of coverage. You should keep these – as you do other tax records – generally for three years after you file your tax return.

When preparing 2015 tax returns, most people will simply have to check a box to indicate they and everyone on their tax return had health care coverage for the entire year. You will not need to file any additional forms, unless you are claiming the premium tax credit or a coverage exemption. In which case, you will use Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit, or Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions.

For more information about the information forms, see our Questions and Answers on IRS.gov/aca.

WHO CAN BE CLAIMED AS A DEPENDENT?

WHAT IS A DEPENDENT:

This is a question I get asked all the time…Who and what qualifies as a dependent on my tax return?? To help taxpayers navigate this gray area, here are the tests necessary to claim someone as your dependent

First and foremost, whether they are your child or your girlfriend/boyfriend, a dependent is a person other than the taxpayer or spouse who entitles the taxpayer to claim a dependency exemption.

  1. You cannot claim them if you can be claimed as a dependent by another person.
  2. They cannot file a joint tax return (in most cases).
  3. They must be a U.S. citizen, resident alien, national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico.

In order to claim a child as a dependent, these five additional tests must be met:

  • Relationship test: Must be your child, adopted child, foster-child, brother or sister, or a descendant of one of these (grandchild or nephew).
  • Residency test: Must have the same residence for more than half the year.
  • Age test: Must be under age 19 or under 24 and a full-time student for at least 5 months. Can be any age if they are totally and permanently disabled.
  • Support test: Must not have provided more than half of their own support during the year.
  • Joint support test: The child cannot file a joint return for the year.

The next four tests determine where a relative or sweetheart qualifies as a dependent:

  • They are not the “qualifying child” of another taxpayer or your “qualifying child.”
  • Gross income: Dependent earns less than $3950 taxable income in 2014
  • Total support: You provide more than half of the total support for the year.
  • Member of household or relationship: The person must live with you all year as a member of your household or be one of the relatives who doesn’t have to live with you (see IRS Publication 501 for a list of qualifying relatives.)

You can even claim a boyfriend, girlfriend, domestic partner, or friend as a qualifying relative if:

  • They are a member of your household the entire year.
  • The relationship between you and the dependent does not violate the law, meaning you can’t still be married to someone else. Also check your individual state law, since some states do not allow you to claim a boyfriend or girlfriend as a dependent even if your relationship doesn’t violate the law.
  • You meet the other criteria for “qualifying relatives” (gross income and support).

Once you’ve determined who in your life can be claimed as a dependent, be sure to take advantage of the following tax deductions and credits:

Dependent exemption: Have you been supporting your boyfriend or girlfriend? If he or she meets the above tests, this may entitle you to a deduction of $4,000

Child tax credit: Depending on your income, you can claim up to $1,000 per qualifying child (>16 years)

• The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC): This is a tax credit that helps working families pay expenses for the care of children, adult dependents or an incapacitated spouse. Families can claim up to $3,000 in dependent care expenses for one child/dependent and $6,000 for two children/dependents per year. The credit is worth between 20 percent and 35 percent of these expenses, depending on a family’s income. Eligible families with adjusted gross income (AGI) of $15,000 or less can claim 35 percent of these expenses for a maximum potential credit of $2,100. The percentage of expenses a family can claim steadily decreases as income rises, until families with AGI of $43,000 or more reach the minimum claim rate of 20 percent, qualifying for a maximum potential credit of $1,200.

IRS: “Phone Scams Continue to be a Serious Threat!!”

Phone Scams Continue to be a Serious Threat, Remain on IRS “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax Scams for the 2016 Filing Season

IRS YouTube Video:
Tax Scams – English | Spanish | ASL
Security Summit Identity Theft Tips Overview English
Be Careful When Using Wi-Fi English
Update Your Password Regularly English

WASHINGTON — Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, headlining the annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams for the 2016 filing season, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.

The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things. The IRS reminds taxpayers to guard against all sorts of con games that arise during any filing season.

“Taxpayers across the nation face a deluge of these aggressive phone scams. Don’t be fooled by callers pretending to be from the IRS in an attempt to steal your money,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We continue to say if you are surprised to be hearing from us, then you’re not hearing from us.”

“There are many variations. The caller may threaten you with arrest or court action to trick you into making a payment,” Koskinen added. “Some schemes may say you’re entitled to a huge refund. These all add up to trouble. Some simple tips can help protect you.”

The Dirty Dozen is compiled annually by the IRS and lists a variety of common scams taxpayers may encounter any time during the year. Many of these con games peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns or hire someone to do so.

This January, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) announced they have received reports of roughly 896,000 contacts since October 2013 and have become aware of over 5,000 victims who have collectively paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scam.

“The IRS continues working to warn taxpayers about phone scams and other schemes,” Koskinen said. “We especially want to thank the law-enforcement community, tax professionals, consumer advocates, the states, other government agencies and particularly the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for helping us in this battle against these persistent phone scams.”

Protect Yourself

Scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via a phishing email.

Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don’t get the money.

Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam.

The IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:

  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.

Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.

2016 Standard Mileage Rates for Business, Medical and Moving Announced

2016 Standard Mileage Rates for Business, Medical and Moving Announced 

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2016 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2016, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 54 cents per mile for business miles driven, down from 57.5 cents for 2015
  • 19 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down from 23 cents for 2015
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

The business mileage rate decreased 3.5 cents per mile and the medical, and moving expense rates decrease 4 cents per mile from the 2015 rates. The charitable rate is based on statute.

The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs.

Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously.

These and other requirements for a taxpayer to use a standard mileage rate to calculate the amount of a deductible business, moving, medical or charitable expense are in Rev. Proc. 2010-51Notice 2016-01 contains the standard mileage rates, the amount a taxpayer must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate, and the maximum standard automobile cost that a taxpayer may use in computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan

Answers to Five of Your Questions about the Premium Tax Credit

Answers to Five of Your Questions about the Premium Tax Credit

The premium tax credit is a refundable credit that helps eligible individuals and families with low or moderate income afford health insurance purchased through a Health Insurance Marketplace. To get this credit, you must meet certain eligibility requirements and file a tax return.

Here are five questions the IRS is hearing from taxpayers, along with answers and where to go for more information.

1. What is included in household income?

For purposes of the PTC, household income is the modified adjusted gross income of you and your spouse if filing a joint return, plus the modified AGI of each individual in your tax family whom you claim as a dependent and who is required to file a tax return because their income meets the income tax return filing threshold. Household income does not include the modified AGI of those individuals you claim as dependents and who are filing a return only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax. For this and other detailed premium tax credit questions and answers visit IRS.gov/aca.

2. The IRS is asking to see my 1095-A. What should I do?

You should follow the instructions on the correspondence that you received from the IRS.  You may be asked for a copy of Form 1095-A in order to verify information that has been entered on your tax return.  Visit our Health Insurance Marketplace Statements webpage for more information about Form 1095-A and how to obtain a copy,

3. If I got advance payments of the PTC, do I have to file even if I never had a filing requirement before?

Yes. If you received the benefit of advance payments of the premium tax credit, you must file a tax return to reconcile the amount of advance credit payments made on your behalf with the amount of your actual premium tax credit.  You must file a return and submit a Form 8962 for this purpose even if you are otherwise not required to file a return.

4. Marketplace says I did not file, but I did file before the extended due date.  What should I do?

In advance of the open enrollment period that runs through January 31, 2016, the Marketplace sent Marketplace Open Enrollment and Annual Redetermination letters to individuals who might not have filed a tax return. Follow the instructions in the letter you received.

  • Log in to your Marketplace account to update your 2016 Marketplace application.
  • Check the box telling the Marketplace you reconciled your premium tax credits by filing a 2014 tax return and Form 8962.
  • Update your Marketplace application by December 15, 2015.
  • If you don’t update your Marketplace application, any help with costs you currently get will stop on December 31, 2015 and you’ll be responsible for the full upfront costs of your Marketplace plan and covered services.
  • For more help visit HealthCare.gov or call your Marketplace.

5. What are my options to receive help with filing a return and reconciling?

Filing electronically is the easiest way to file a complete and accurate tax return as the software guides you through the filing process. Electronic filing options include free Volunteer Assistance, IRS Free File, commercial software, and professional assistance. For information about filing a return and reconciling advance credit payments, visit IRS.gov/aca.

2015 Year-End Reminders

2015 Year-End Reminders

IRA Reminders

Individual Retirement Accounts, or IRAs, are important vehicles for you to save for retirement. If you have an IRA or plan to start one soon, there are a few key year-end rules that you should know. Here are the top year-end IRA reminders from the IRS:

  • Know the contribution and deduction limits.  You can contribute up to a maximum of $5,500 ($6,500 if you are age 50 or older) to a traditional or Roth IRA. If you file a joint return, you and your spouse can each contribute to an IRA even if only one of you has taxable compensation. You have until April 18, 2016, to make an IRA contribution for 2015. In some cases, you may need to reduce your deduction for your traditional IRA contributions. This rule applies if you or your spouse has a retirement plan at work and your income is above a certain level.
  • Avoid excess contributions.  If you contribute more than the IRA imits for 2015, you are subject to a six percent tax on the excess amount.The tax applies each year that the excess amounts remain in your account. You can avoid the tax if you withdraw the excess amounts from your account by the due date of your 2015 tax return (including extensions).
  • Take required distributions.  If you’re at least age 70½, you must take a      required minimum distribution, or RMD, from your traditional IRA. You are not required to take a RMD from your Roth IRA. You normally must take your RMD by Dec. 31, 2015. That deadline is April 1, 2016, if you turned 70½ in 2015. If you have more than one traditional IRA, you figure the RMD separately for each IRA. However, you can withdraw the total amount from one or more of them. If you don’t take your RMD on time you face a 50 percent excise tax on the RMD amount you failed to take out.
  • IRA distributions may affect your premium tax credit. If you take a distribution from your IRA at the end of  the year and expect to claim the PTC, you should exercise caution regarding the amount of the distribution.  Taxable distributions      increase your household income, which can make you ineligible for the PTC.  You will become ineligible if the increase causes your household income for the year to be above 400 percent of the Federal poverty line for your family size. In this circumstance, you must repay the entire amount of any advance payments of the premium tax credit that were made to your health insurance provider on your behalf.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.

Additional IRS Resources:

Form 5329, Additional Taxes on Qualified Plans (Including IRAs) and Other Tax-Favored Accounts

Review Investment Gains and Losses
Consider selling investment losers to offset any capital gains. When calculating your gains and losses, be sure to include mutual fund distributions; they are taxable gains even when you hold onto the shares. You may want to sell appreciated securities before year-end (or donate them to charity; see #7 below). If you have excess losses, they may be carried forward into future tax years, at a rate of no more than $3,000 each year.

Make Charitable Contributions
You can make year-end gifts to charity with cash or with appreciated securities. If you donate appreciated securities (like stocks), you can take a deduction for the current fair market value.

If you decide to make gifts in cash, you can simply write a check. Or you can put the amount on a credit card in December, pay the bill when it arrives in 2016 and deduct the donation in 2015. Either way, you must submit a letter of acknowledgment from the charity, showing the date of the gift, the amount, and whether you received any tangible benefit in exchange, such as a thank you gift.

Donations of used cars may be deducted at fair market value only if the charity uses the vehicle in its tax-exempt work. If the charity sells it, your contribution is limited to the actual proceeds of the sale.

Make Your House Energy-Efficient
If you make qualified energy-saving home improvements by the end of 2015, you can claim a tax credit of up to 30% of the costs. The improvements must meet federal energy-efficiency standards in order to qualify for the credit. For more information, go to www.EnergyStar.gov

2016 – Some Tax Benefits Increase Slightly Due to Inflation Adjustments

In 2016, Some Tax Benefits Increase Slightly Due to Inflation Adjustments, Others Are Unchanged

WASHINGTON — For tax year 2016, the Internal Revenue Service today announced  annual inflation adjustments for more than 50 tax provisions, including the tax rate schedules, and other tax changes. Revenue Procedure 2015-53 provides details about these annual adjustments. The tax items for tax year 2016 of greatest interest to most taxpayers include the following dollar amounts:

  • For tax year 2016, the 39.6 percent tax rate affects single taxpayers whose income exceeds $415,050 ($466,950 for married taxpayers filing jointly), up from $413,200 and $464,850, respectively. The other marginal rates – 10, 15, 25, 28, 33 and 35 percent – and the related income tax thresholds for tax year 2016 are described in the revenue procedure.
  • The standard deduction for heads of household rises to $9,300 for tax year 2016, up from $9,250, for tax year 2015.The other standard deduction amounts for 2016 remain as they were for 2015:   $6,300 for singles and married persons filing separate returns and $12,600 for married couples filing jointly
  • The limitation for itemized deductions to be claimed on tax year 2016 returns of individuals begins with incomes of $259,400 or more ($311,300 for married couples filing jointly).
  • The personal exemption for tax year 2016 rises $50 to $4,050, up from the 2015 exemption of $4,000. However, the exemption is subject to a phase-out that begins with adjusted gross incomes of $259,400 ($311,300 for married couples filing jointly). It phases out completely at $381,900 ($433,800 for married couples filing jointly.)
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amount for tax year 2016 is $53,900 and begins to phase out at $119,700 ($83,800, for married couples filing jointly for whom the exemption begins to phase out at $159,700). The 2015 exemption amount was $53,600 ($83,400 for married couples filing jointly).  For tax year 2016, the 28 percent tax rate applies to taxpayers with taxable incomes above $186,300 ($93,150 for married individuals filing separately).
  • The tax year 2016 maximum Earned Income Credit amount is $6,269 for taxpayers filing jointly who have 3 or more qualifying children, up from a total of $6,242 for tax year 2015. The revenue procedure has a table providing maximum credit amounts for other categories, income thresholds and phase-outs.
  • For tax year 2016, the monthly limitation for the qualified transportation fringe benefit remains at $130 for transportation, but rises to $255 for qualified parking, up from $250 for tax year 2015.
  • For tax year 2016 participants who have self-only coverage in a Medical Savings Account, the plan must have an annual deductible that is not less than $2,250, up from $2,200 for tax year 2015; but not more than $3,350, up from $3,300 for tax year 2015. For self-only coverage the maximum out of pocket expense amount remains at $4,450. For tax year 2016 participants with family coverage, the floor for the annual deductible remains as it was in 2015 — $4,450, however the deductible cannot be more than $6,700, up $50 from the limit for tax year 2015. For family coverage, the out of pocket expense limit remains at $8,150 for tax      year 2016 as it was for tax year 2015.
  • For tax year 2016, the adjusted gross income amount used by joint filers to determine the reduction in the Lifetime Learning Credit is $111,000, up from $110,000 for tax year 2015.
  • For tax year 2016, the foreign earned income exclusion is $101,300, up from $100,800 for tax year 2015.
  • Estates of decedents who die during 2016 have a basic exclusion amount of $5,450,000, up from a total of $5,430,000 for estates of decedents who died in 2015