joseph castellano

IRS issued guidance for employers claiming the employee retention credit under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act modified by the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020.

Notice 2021-23 explains the changes for the first and second calendar quarters of 2021, including:

  • the increase in the maximum credit amount
  • the expansion of the category of employers that may be eligible to claim the credit
  • modifications to the gross receipts test
  • revisions to the definition of qualified wages
  • new restrictions on the ability of eligible employers to request an advance payment of the credit

Eligible employers can now claim a refundable tax credit against the employer share of Social Security tax equal to 70% of the qualified wages they pay to employees after December 31, 2020, through June 30, 2021. Qualified wages are limited to $10,000 per employee per calendar quarter in 2021. The maximum employee retention credit available is $7,000 per employee per calendar quarter, for a total of $14,000 for the first two calendar quarters of 2021.

Employers can get the employee retention credit for the first two calendar quarters of 2021 before filing their employment tax returns by reducing employment tax deposits. Small employers may request advance payment of the credit on Form 7200, Advance of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19, after reducing deposits. Some limits and eligibility requirements apply. In 2021, advances are not available for large employers. Instructions on how to calculate and claim the employee retention credit for the first two calendar quarters of 2021 are available in Notice 2021-23.

Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the employee retention credit is available to eligible employers for wages paid during the third and fourth quarters of 2021. The Department of the Treasury and the IRS will provide further guidance on this later.

More coronavirus relief information for businesses is available on IRS.gov.

Share this tip on social media — #IRSTaxTip: Claiming the employee retention credit in the first and second calendar quarters 2021. https://go.usa.gov/xH4zV

WASHINGTON — The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 suspends the requirement that taxpayers increase their tax liability by all or a portion of their excess advance payments of thePremium Tax Credit (excess APTC) for tax year 2020. A taxpayer’s excess APTC is the amount by which the taxpayer’s advance payments of the Premium Tax Credit (APTC) exceed his or her Premium Tax Credit (PTC).     

The Internal Revenue Service announced today that taxpayers with excess APTC for 2020 are not required to file Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit, or report an excess advance Premium Tax Credit repayment on their 2020 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR, Schedule 2, Line 2, when they file.

Eligible taxpayers may claim a PTC for health insurance coverage in a qualified health plan purchased through a Health Insurance Marketplace. Taxpayers use Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit to figure the amount of their PTC and reconcile it with their APTC. This computation lets taxpayers know whether they must increase their tax liability by all or a portion of their excess APTC, called an excess advance Premium Tax Credit repayment, or may claim a net PTC.

Taxpayers can check with their tax professional or use tax software to figure the amount of allowable PTC and reconcile it with APTC received using the information from Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement.

The process remains unchanged for taxpayers claiming a net PTC for 2020. They must file Form 8962 when they file their 2020 tax return. See the Instructions for Form 8962 for more information. Taxpayers claiming a net PTC should respond to an IRS notice asking for more information to finish processing their tax return.

Taxpayers who have already filed their 2020 tax return and who have excess APTC for 2020 do not need to file an amended tax return or contact the IRS. The IRS will reduce the excess APTC repayment amount to zero with no further action needed by the taxpayer. The IRS will reimburse people who have already repaid any excess advance Premium Tax Credit on their 2020 tax return. Taxpayers who received a letter about a missing Form 8962 should disregard the letter if they have excess APTC for 2020. The IRS will process tax returns without Form 8962 for tax year 2020 by reducing the excess advance premium tax credit repayment amount to zero.

Again, IRS is taking steps to reimburse people who filed Form 8962, reported, and paid an excess advance Premium Tax Credit repayment amount with their 2020 tax return before the recent legislative changes were made. Taxpayers in this situation should not file an amended return solely to get a refund of this amount. The IRS will provide more details on IRS.gov. There is no need to file an amended tax return or contact the IRS. 

As a reminder, this change applies only to reconciling tax year 2020 APTC. Taxpayers who received the benefit of APTC prior to 2020 must file Form 8962 to reconcile their APTC and PTC for the pre-2020 year when they file their federal income tax return even if they otherwise are not required to file a tax return for that year.  The IRS continues to process prior year tax returns and correspond for missing information.  If the IRS sends a letter about a 2019 Form 8962, we need more information from the taxpayer to finish processing their tax return. Taxpayers should respond to the letter so that the IRS can finish processing the tax return and, if applicable, issue any refund the taxpayer may be due.

See the  Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit, and IRS Fact Sheet for more details about the changes related to the PTC for tax year 2020.

Businesses can temporarily deduct 100% beginning Jan. 1, 2021

WASHINGTON – The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today issued Notice 2021-25 providing guidance under the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Relief Act of 2020. The Act added a temporary exception to the 50% limit on the amount that businesses may deduct for food or beverages. The temporary exception allows a 100% deduction for food or beverages from restaurants.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, through Dec. 31, 2022, businesses can claim 100% of their food or beverage expenses paid to restaurants as long as the business owner (or an employee of the business) is present when food or beverages are provided and the expense is not lavish or extravagant under the circumstances.

Where can businesses get food and beverages and claim 100%?

Under the temporary provision, restaurants include businesses that prepare and sell food or beverages to retail customers for immediate on-premises and/or off-premises consumption.  However, restaurants do not include businesses that primarily sell pre-packaged goods not for immediate consumption, such as grocery stores and convenience stores. 

Additionally, an employer may not treat certain employer-operated eating facilities as restaurants, even if these facilities are operated by a third party under contract with the employer.

More information for business seeking coronavirus related tax relief can be found at IRS.gov.

Inside This Issue

  1. IRS provides guidance for employers claiming the Employee Retention Credit for first two quarters of 2021
  2. Free workshop helps small business owners understand and meet tax obligations
  3. The IRS to recalculate taxes on unemployment benefits; refunds to start in May
  4. IRS, Treasury disburse more Economic Impact Payments under the American Rescue Plan; Non-filer Social Security and other federal beneficiary stimulus payments
  5. IRS urges employers to take advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit
  6. Taxable Fringe Benefit Essentials for Employers Webinar
  7. IRS extends additional tax deadlines for individuals to May 17
  8. Face masks and other COVID-19 personal protective equipment to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are tax deductible
  9. IRS Criminal Investigation pledges continued commitment to investigating COVID-19 fraud
  10. J5 countries host ‘Challenge’ aimed at FINtech companies
  11. Low Income Taxpayer Clinic application period now open
  1. IRS provides guidance for employers claiming the Employee Retention Credit for first two quarters of 2021

The Internal Revenue Service issued guidance for employers claiming the Employee Retention Credit under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) modified by the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (Relief Act).

To review these changes, see Notice 2021-23.

Additional coronavirus relief information for businesses is available on IRS.gov.

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  1. Free workshop helps small business owners understand and meet tax obligations

The Small Business Virtual Tax Workshop helps educate small business owners about their taxes. It’s free and available online 24/7.

The updated chapters contain direct links to more specific topics within each lesson, like chapters in a book. Viewers can choose the lessons that apply to their small business. They can also pause and bookmark lessons so they can review information later.

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  1. The IRS to recalculate taxes on unemployment benefits; refunds to start in May

The IRS will take steps to automatically refund money to people who filed their tax return reporting unemployment compensation before the recent changes made by the American Rescue Plan. The legislation was signed on March 11.

The new IRS guidance includes details for those eligible taxpayers who have not yet filed.

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  1. IRS, Treasury disburse more Economic Impact Payments under the American Rescue Plan; Non-filer Social Security and other federal beneficiary stimulus payments

As work continues on issuing millions of Economic Impact Payments to Americans, the IRS and Treasury Department announced that they anticipate payments will begin to be issued this weekend to Social Security recipients and other federal beneficiaries who do not normally file a tax return, with the projection that the majority of these payments would be sent electronically and received on April 7, 2021.

Many federal beneficiaries who filed 2019 or 2020 returns or used the Non-Filers tool last year were issued Economic Impact Payments, if eligible, during the last three weeks.

Most Social Security retirement and disability beneficiaries, railroad retirees and recipients of veterans’ benefits who are eligible for an Economic Impact Payment do not need to take any action to receive a payment.

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  1. IRS urges employers to take advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit

Giving someone a work opportunity may translate into a business tax credit for you and greater stability for a family. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals from certain targeted groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment.

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  1. Taxable Fringe Benefit Essentials for Employers Webinar

The IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division and the Office of Federal, State and Local Governments would like to invite small businesses to register to watch the free Taxable Fringe Benefit Essentials for Employers Webinar on April 14, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. (ET).

This webinar is designed to explain what a fringe benefit is and how to value a fringe benefit. It will cover the most common fringe benefits and explain if those fringe benefits are taxable.

For more information, see Webinars for Tax Exempt & Government Entities.

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  1. IRS extends additional tax deadlines for individuals to May 17

The IRS announced that individuals have until May 17, 2021 to meet certain deadlines that would normally fall on April 15, such as making IRA contributions and filing certain claims for refund.

This follows a previous announcement that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year was extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021.

Notice 2021-21 provides details on the additional tax deadlines.

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  1. Face masks and other COVID-19 personal protective equipment to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are tax deductible

The IRS issued Announcement 2021-7 clarifying that the purchase of personal protective equipment for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of coronavirus are deductible medical expenses. In addition to masks, this includes times such as hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.

The amounts paid for personal protective equipment are also eligible to be paid or reimbursed under health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs), Archer medical savings accounts (Archer MSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), or health savings accounts (HSAs).

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  1. IRS Criminal Investigation pledges continued commitment to investigating COVID-19 fraud

The IRS Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) marks the one-year anniversary of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act by pledging its continued commitment to investigating COVID-19 fraud.

This includes fraud related to:

  • Economic Impact Payments
  • Paycheck Protection Program
  • Employee Retention Credit

IRS-CI encourages the public to share information regarding known or suspected fraud attempts against any of the programs offered through the CARES Act. Here’s how to report a suspected crime and learn more about COVID-19 scams and other financial schemes.

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  1. J5 countries host ‘Challenge’ aimed at FINtech companies

The Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5) brought together investigators, cryptocurrency experts and data scientists in a coordinated push to track down individuals and organizations perpetrating tax crimes around the world.

This year the challenge focused on Financial Technology (FINtech) companies. Many FINtech companies have adopted compliance regulations and are partnering with governments and law enforcement in prohibiting financial crime. However, due to the online nature of the products, the novelty and the lack of regulation and compliance in some areas, the FINtech industry can be used by tax avoiders and money launderers to commit crimes.

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  1. Low Income Taxpayer Clinic application period now open

The IRS announced it will accept applications for an 18-month Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) matching grant from all qualified organizations.

The LITC matching grant news release provides more information, including:

  • Application period
  • Budget and performance period
  • Eligibility
  • Geographic underserved areas

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced today that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year will be automatically extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021. The IRS will be providing formal guidance in the coming days.

“This continues to be a tough time for many people, and the IRS wants to continue to do everything possible to help taxpayers navigate the unusual circumstances related to the pandemic, while also working on important tax administration responsibilities,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Even with the new deadline, we urge taxpayers to consider filing as soon as possible, especially those who are owed refunds. Filing electronically with direct deposit is the quickest way to get refunds, and it can help some taxpayers more quickly receive any remaining stimulus payments they may be entitled to.”

Individual taxpayers can also postpone federal income tax payments for the 2020 tax year due on April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This postponement applies to individual taxpayers, including individuals who pay self-employment tax. Penalties, interest and additions to tax will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of May 17, 2021. Individual taxpayers will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the taxes paid by May 17.

Individual taxpayers do not need to file any forms or call the IRS to qualify for this automatic federal tax filing and payment relief. Individual taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the May 17 deadline can request a filing extension until Oct. 15 by filing Form 4868through their tax professional, tax software or using the Free File link on IRS.gov. Filing Form 4868 gives taxpayers until Oct. 15 to file their 2020 tax return but does not grant an extension of time to pay taxes due. Taxpayers should pay their federal income tax due by May 17, 2021, to avoid interest and penalties.

The IRS urges taxpayers who are due a refund to file as soon as possible. Most tax refunds associated with e-filed returns are issued within 21 days.

This relief does not apply to estimated tax payments that are due on April 15, 2021. These payments are still due on April 15. Taxes must be paid as taxpayers earn or receive income during the year, either through withholding or estimated tax payments. In general, estimated tax payments are made quarterly to the IRS by people whose income isn’t subject to income tax withholding, including self-employment income, interest, dividends, alimony or rental income. Most taxpayers automatically have their taxes withheld from their paychecks and submitted to the IRS by their employer.

State tax returns

The federal tax filing deadline postponement to May 17, 2021, only applies to individual federal income returns and tax (including tax on self-employment income) payments otherwise due April 15, 2021, not state tax payments or deposits or payments of any other type of federal tax. Taxpayers also will need to file income tax returns in 42 states plus the District of Columbia. State filing and payment deadlines vary and are not always the same as the federal filing deadline. The IRS urges taxpayers to check with their state tax agencies for those details.

Winter storm disaster relief for Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas

Earlier this year, following the disaster declarations issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),  the IRS announced relief for victims of the February winter storms in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. These states have until June 15, 2021, to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments. This extension to May 17 does not affect the June deadline. 

For more information about this disaster relief, visit the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.

Deductions reduce the amount of taxable income when filing a federal income tax return. In other words, they can reduce the amount of tax someone owes.

Most taxpayers have a choice of either taking the standard deduction or itemizing their deductions. The standard deduction may be quicker and easier, but, itemizing deductions may lower taxes more, in some situations. It’s important for all taxpayers to look into which deduction method best fits them.

New this year
Following tax law changes, cash donations of up to $300 made by December 31, 2020 are deductible without having to itemize when people file a 2020 tax return.

Here are some details about the two methods to help people decide deduction to take:

Standard deduction
The standard deduction is an amount that reduces taxable income. The amount adjusts every year and can vary by filing status. The standard deduction amount depends on the taxpayer’s filing status, whether they are 65 or older or blind, and whether another taxpayer can claim them as a dependent. Taxpayers who are age 65 or older on the last day of the year and don’t itemize deductions are entitled to a higher standard deduction.

Taxpayers benefit from the standard deduction if their standard deduction is more than the total of their allowable itemized deductions. They can use the Interactive Tax Assistant, How Much Is My Standard Deduction? to determine the amount their standard deduction and if they should itemize their deductions.

Itemized deductions
Taxpayers may itemize deductions because that amount is higher than their standard deduction, which will result in less tax owed or a larger refund. In some cases, they not allowed to use the standard deduction.

Tax software can guide taxpayers through the process of itemizing their deductions. Taxpayers who itemize file Schedule A, Form 1040, Itemized Deductions or Form 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors.

A taxpayer may benefit by itemizing deductions if any of following apply to their tax situation, they:

  • Had large uninsured medical and dental expenses
  • Paid interest and taxes on their home
  • Had large uninsured casualty or theft losses
  • Made large contributions to qualified charities

Individual itemized deductions may be limited. Schedule A, Form 1040, Itemized Deductionscan help determine what limitations may apply.

More information:
Publication 501, Dependents, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information
Topic No. 551, Standard Deduction

  1. Increased deduction limit for corporate cash contributions for disaster relief; recordkeeping relief – Must act before February 25

Corporations may qualify for the new 100 percent limit for disaster relief contributions and a temporary waiver of the recordkeeping requirement for corporations.

Qualified contributions must be paid by the corporation during the period beginning on January 1, 2020 and ending on February 25, 2021.

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  1. Updated FAQs and new IRS form available for sick and family leave credits

The IRS published updated FAQs about recent legislation that extended and amended tax relief to certain small- and mid-sized employers under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

The IRS also announced a new Form 7202, Credits for Sick Leave and Family Leave for Certain Self-Employed Individuals for eligible self-employed individuals to claim sick and family leave tax credits under FFCRA.

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  1. Unemployment guidance and reminders

IRS offers guidance to taxpayers on identity theft involving unemployment benefits

The IRS urges taxpayers who receive Forms 1099-G for unemployment benefits they did not actually get because of identity theft to contact their appropriate state agency for a revised Form 1099-G showing they did not receive these benefits. Taxpayers who are unable to obtain a timely, corrected form from states should still file an accurate tax return, reporting only the income they received.

Reminder to report unemployment compensation when filing taxes

Taxpayers who received unemployment compensation should receive a Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments showing the amount of unemployment compensation paid to them during the year in Box 1, and any federal income tax withheld in Box 4. They need this form for reporting unemployment when filing taxes.

Taxpayers who don’t receive the form by mail may need to visit the website of the unemployment agency who paid the benefits to get a copy of the Form 1099-G.

Please share this useful information with employees. More information can be found by visiting IRS.gov/uc.

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  1. Important reminders before filing 2020 tax returns

Following an unpredictable year with many changes and challenges, the IRS shares important reminders for taxpayers who are about to file their 2020 federal tax returns about:

  • Direct deposit
  • Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Taxable unemployment compensation
  • Interest is taxable income
  • Home office deduction
  • Workers moving into the gig economy
  • Charitable donation deduction for people who don’t itemize
  • Disasters such as wildfires, flooding or hurricanes

Double-check for missing or incorrect Forms W-2, 1099 before filing taxes

With some areas seeing mail delays, the IRS reminds taxpayers to double-check to make sure they have all of their tax documents, including Forms W-2 and 1099, before filing a tax return. The IRS also provides guidance on what to do if the documents are missing or incorrect to still file on time and as accurately as possible.

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  1. Critical tax credit provides significant refund boost to millions

The Earned Income Tax Credit is the federal government’s largest refundable federal income tax credit for low- to moderate-income workers. See the IRS EITC news release for information on how to check eligibility, to see a list of workers who may be at risk for overlooking this important credit, helpful IRS YouTube videos and more.

New look-back rule

Under the COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020, taxpayers can use their 2019 earned income to figure their 2020 EITC if their 2019 earned income was more than their 2020 earned income. To qualify for EITC, people must have earned income, so this option may help workers who earned less in 2020, or received unemployment income instead of their regular wages, get bigger tax credits and larger refunds in the coming year.

Please share this useful information with employees.

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  1. Post-release changes to Schedule K-1, Form 1041 instructions

See the latest information on Schedule K-1 (Form 1041) Instructions. This page offers links to information on post-release changes, revisions, clarifications and so on made to forms, instructions, or publications already available on IRS.gov.  Such changes are often the result of new tax legislation, new IRS guidance, clarifications, corrections and other revisions.

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  1. Avoid tax schemes – Report abusive tax promotions; Beware of “ghost” preparers

Abusive tax promotions

The IRS would like your help to identify promoters of “too good to be true” abusive tax scams and tax preparers using illegal scams to avoid paying taxes.

Small business owners should be careful not to let promoters of tax scams mislead them. Those who do take part in scams could face owing more taxes and substantial penalties and interest.

Use the Report Suspected Abusive Tax Promotions or Preparers form to make a referral to the IRS. Learn more at IRS.gov/scams.

“Ghost” preparers

The IRS reminds taxpayers to avoid “ghost” tax return preparers whose refusal to sign returns can cause a frightening array of problems. It is important to file a valid, accurate tax return because the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for it.

Learn more in the news release about:

  • Requirements for anyone who is paid to prepare or assists in preparing federal tax returns
  • What unscrupulous tax return preparers might do
  • What to do before signing no matter who prepares the return
  • How to report preparer misconduct

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  1. IRS creates new Chief Taxpayer Experience Officer position; Ken Corbin to lead new focus to improve service to taxpayers

As part of a larger effort related to the Taxpayer First Act, the IRS announces the creation of a new Chief Taxpayer Experience Officer position to help unify and expand efforts across the agency to serve taxpayers.

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  1. Inside the IRS with “A Closer Look”

“A Closer Look” covers a variety of timely issues of interest to taxpayers and the tax community. It also provides a detailed look at key issues affecting everything from IRS operations and employees to issues involving taxpayers and tax professionals. People can check here for prior posts and new updates.

The IRS will begin accepting and processing 2020 tax year returns on Friday, Feb.12, 2021.

People who are ready to file can begin filing their tax returns with tax prep software, including IRS Free File. Software providers are accepting completed tax returns now and holding them until the IRS begins processing returns on Friday, Feb.12. The quickest way for taxpayers to get a tax refund is by filing electronically and choosing direct deposit for their refund.

Most earned income tax credit or advanced child tax credit related refunds should be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards by the first week of March, if they choose direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return.

By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds before mid-February for tax returns that claim the earned income tax credit or ACTC. The IRS must hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with EITC or ACTC. This helps ensure taxpayers receive the refund they deserve and gives the agency more time to detect and prevent errors and fraud.

To make filing easier, taxpayers should:

  • File electronically and use direct deposit for the quickest refunds.
  • Check IRS.gov for the latest tax information. There is no need to call the IRS.

Those who may have been eligible for stimulus payments should carefully review their eligibility for the recovery rebate credit. Most people received Economic Impact Payments automatically and those who received the maximum amount don’t need to include any information about their payments when they file.

They received the full amounts of both Economic Impact Payments if:

  • Their first Economic Impact Payment was $1,200 for individuals; $2,400 married filing jointly for 2020, plus $500 for each qualifying child born in 2020.
  • Their second Economic Impact Payment was $600 for individuals; $1,200 married filing jointly for 2020, plus $600 for each qualifying child born in 2020.

People who didn’t receive the payments or only received partial payments may be eligible to claim the recovery rebate credit when they file their 2020 tax return, even if they are normally not required to file a tax return. Tax preparation software, including IRS Free File, will help taxpayers figure the amount.

Taxpayers should remember that stimulus payments they received are not taxable, and don’t reduce the amount of their refund.

Important filing season dates

Friday, Feb. 12. IRS begins 2021 tax season. Individual tax returns start being accepted, and processing begins.
Thursday, April 15. Due date for filing 2020 tax returns or requesting extension of time to file.
Thursday, April 15. Due date for paying 2020 tax owed to avoid owing interest and penalties.
Friday, Oct. 15. Due date to file for those requesting an extension on their 2020 tax returns.

The earned income tax credit can give qualifying workers with low-to-moderate income a substantial financial boost. In 2019, the average amount of this credit was $2,476. It not only reduces the amount of tax someone owes but may give them a refund even if they don’t owe any taxes or aren’t required to file a return. People must meet certain requirements and file a federal tax return in order to receive this credit.

EITC eligibility

  • A taxpayer’s eligibility for the credit may change from year to year, so it’s a good idea for people to use the EITC Assistant to find out if they qualify.
  • Eligibility can be affected by major life changes such as:
    • a new job or loss of a job
    • unemployment benefits
    • a change in income
    • a change in marital status
    • the birth or death of a child
    • a change in a spouse’s employment situation
  • Taxpayers qualify based on their income and the filing status they use on their tax return. The credit can be more if they have one or more children who live with them for more than half the year and meet other requirements.

New this tax season

There’s a new rule to help people impacted by a job loss or change in income in 2020. taxpayers can use their2019 earned income to figure your EITC, if their 2019 earned income was more than their 2020 earned income. The same is true for the additional child tax credit. For details, see the instructions for Form 1040.

2020 Maximum credit amounts allowed

The maximum credit amounts are based on whether the taxpayer can claim a child for the credit and the number of children claimed:

  • Zero children: $538
  • One child: $3,584
  • Two children: $5,920
  • Three or more children: $6,660

2020 income limits

Those who are working and earn less than these amounts may qualify for the EITC:

Married filing jointly:

  • Zero children: $21,710
  • One child: $47,646
  • Two children: $53,330
  • Three or more children: $56,844

Head of household and single:

  • Zero children: $15,820
  • One child: $41,756
  • Two children: $47,440
  • Three or more children: $50,954

Taxpayers who are married filing separately can’t claim EITC.

WASHINGTON —The Internal Revenue Service is reminding taxpayers that organizing tax records is an important first step for getting ready to prepare and file their 2020 tax return.

Taxpayers should keep all necessary records, such as W-2s, 1099s, receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support an item of income, or a deduction or credit, appearing on their tax return.

Taxpayers should develop a system that keeps all their important information together, which could include a software program for electronic records or a file cabinet for paper documents in labeled folders. Having records readily at hand makes preparing a tax return easier.

To avoid refund delays, taxpayers should be sure to gather all year-end income documents so they can file a complete and accurate 2020 tax return.

Most taxpayers will receive income documents near the end of January including:

  • Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement
  • Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income
  • Form 1099-INT, Interest Income
  • Form 1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation
  • Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments; like unemployment compensation or state tax refund
  • Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statements

View IRS account online
Taxpayers can view their online account allowing them to access the latest information available about their federal tax account and most recently filed tax return through a secure and convenient tool on IRS.gov. This can help taxpayers if they need information from last year’s return.

Additionally, in the coming weeks, individuals with an account on IRS.gov/account will be able to view the amounts of the Economic Impact Payments they received as well as the latest information available about their federal tax account. Eligible individuals who did not receive the full amounts of both Economic Impact Payments may claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 federal tax return. In order to claim the full amount of the Recovery Rebate Credit, taxpayers will need to know the amount of the Economic Impact Payments received.

Visit Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools for more information about how to create an account or how to reset the username or password.

Remember unemployment compensation is taxable
Millions of Americans received unemployment compensation in 2020, many of them for the first time. This compensation is taxable and must be included as gross income on their tax return.

Taxpayers can expect to receive a Form 1099-G showing their unemployment income. Taxpayers can elect to have federal taxes withheld from their unemployment benefits or make estimated tax payments, but many do not take these options. In that case, taxes on those benefits will be paid when the 2020 tax return is filed. Therefore, taxpayers who did not have tax withheld from their payments may see a smaller refund than expected or even have a tax bill.

Individuals who receive a Form 1099-G for unemployment compensation they did not receive should contact their state tax agency and request a corrected Form 1099-G. States should not issue Forms 1099-Gs to taxpayers they know to be victims of identity theft involving unemployment compensation.

Taxpayers who are victims of identity theft involving unemployment compensation should not file an identity theft affidavit with the IRS.

Individuals can find more details on taxable unemployment compensation in Tax Topic 418, Unemployment Compensation, or in Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income, on IRS.gov.

Taxpayers can use 2019 income for Earned Income Tax Credit 
For taxpayers with income less than $56,844 in 2020, they may be eligible to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit. The EITC Assistant, available in English and Spanish, can help determine who is eligible. The EITC is as much as $6,660 for a family with children or up to $538 for taxpayers who do not have a qualifying child.

And this tax season, there’s a new rule that can help people impacted by a job loss or change in income in 2020. Under the COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020, taxpayers may elect to use their 2019 earned income to figure the credit if their 2019 earned income is more than their 2020 earned income. The same is true for the Additional Child Tax Credit. For details, see the instructions for Form 1040 or Publication 596, Earned Income Credit.

Electronic Filing makes filing easy
The best way to file a complete and accurate return is to file electronically and there are several options for doing this – some at no cost. Visit irs.gov/filing for more details about IRS Free File, Free File Fillable Forms, Free tax preparation sites or by finding a trusted tax professional. Free File is a great option for people who are only filing a tax return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit, either because they didn’t receive an Economic Impact Payment or did not receive the full amount.

Use IRS.gov
IRS tax help is available 24 hours a day on IRS.gov, the official IRS website, where people can find answers to tax questions and resolve tax issues online from the safety of their home. The Let Us Help You page helps answer most tax questions, and the IRS Services Guide links to other important IRS services.

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