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Claiming EITC or ACTC? Your Refund May Be Delayed: English | Spanish | ASL

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today joined partners across the country in promoting the Earned Income Tax Credit on EITC Awareness Day, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. This campaign, which started 11 years ago, is a nationwide effort to alert millions of low- and moderate-income workers who may be missing out on this significant tax credit.

Millions of taxpayers who earned $53,505 or less last year may qualify for EITC for the first time in 2017, making awareness critical. Local officials and community organizations nationwide are holding events on EITC Awareness Day highlighting this key benefit.

“The EITC is an important anti-poverty tax credit that helps millions of people every year,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Even though four out of five eligible workers and families benefit from the EITC, millions more miss out because they don’t know about it or don’t realize they’re eligible. We encourage people to look into whether they qualify.”

Workers, self-employed people and farmers who earned $53,505 or less last year could receive larger refunds if they qualify for the EITC. Eligible families with three or more qualifying children could get a maximum credit of up to $6,269. EITC for people without children could mean up to $506 added to their tax refund. Unlike most deductions and credits, the EITC is refundable. In other words, those eligible may get a refund from the IRS even if they owe no tax. Last year, more than 27 million eligible workers and families received almost $67 billion in EITC; with an average EITC amount of more than $2,455.

The IRS recommends that all workers who earned around $54,000 or less learn about EITC eligibility and use the EITC Assistant to find out if they qualify. The tool will help them determine their filing status, if they have a qualifying child or children, if they qualify to receive the EITC and estimate the amount of the credit they could get. If an individual doesn’t qualify for EITC, the Assistant explains why. A summary of the results can be printed and kept with the worker’s tax papers.

The IRS reminds taxpayers to be sure they have valid Social Security numbers in hand for themselves, as well as for each qualifying child, before they file their return. Moreover, to get the EITC on a 2016 return, they must get these SSNs before the tax-filing deadline (April 18, 2017, for most people or Oct. 16, 2017, for those who get extensions).

How to Claim the EITC

To get the EITC, workers must file a tax return and specifically claim the credit. Free tax preparation help is available online and through a nearby volunteer organization. Those eligible for the EITC have these options:

  • Free File on IRS.gov. Free brand-name tax software walks people through a question and answer format to help them prepare their returns and claim every credit and deduction for which they are eligible. Free File also provides online versions of IRS paper forms, an option called Free File Fillable Forms, best suited for taxpayers comfortable preparing their own returns.
  • Free tax preparation sites. EITC-eligible workers can seek free tax preparation at thousands of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites. To locate the nearest site, use the search tool on IRS.gov or the IRS2go smartphone application.

Be sure to bring along all required documents and information.

Refunds

A new law approved by Congress requires the IRS to hold refunds claiming the EITC and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until Feb. 15. By law, the IRS must hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with EITC or ACTC. This change helps ensure taxpayers receive the refund they are owed by giving the agency more time to help detect and prevent fraud.

Even so, taxpayers can still get their refunds sooner by choosing direct deposit. The IRS will begin releasing these refunds on Feb. 15, but taxpayers should not expect to see them deposited into their bank accounts until the week of Feb. 27 – assuming there are no processing issues with the tax return.

Where’s My Refund? ‎on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go mobile app will be updated with projected deposit dates for early EITC / ACTC refund filers a few days after Feb. 15.

Avoid Errors: Get It Right

Taxpayers are responsible for the accuracy of their tax return even if someone else prepares it for them. Since the EITC rules are complicated, the IRS urges taxpayers to seek help if they are not sure they are eligible, at a free tax return preparation site, by using Free File software, or from a paid tax professional. Be sure to choose a tax preparer wisely. Deliberate errors can have lasting impact on future eligibility to claim EITC and leave taxpayers with a penalty.

Be sure to reply promptly to any letter from the IRS requesting additional information about EITC. If taxpayers need assistance or have questions, call the number on the IRS letter.

The IRS also reminds taxpayers about the availability of myRA, a free, retirement savings account from the Treasury Department. Taxpayers who have a myRA account may use Free File to deposit their tax refund or a portion of their refund into their myRA account. Use Form 8888 or follow the software product’s instructions.

Beware of Scams

Beware of scams that claim to increase the EITC refund. Scams that create fictitious qualifying children or inflate income levels to get the maximum EITC could leave taxpayers with a penalty.

Normally, if an EITC claim was reduced or denied in the past any reason other than a mathematical or clerical error, taxpayers must file Form 8862, Information to Claim Earned Income Credit after Disallowance, with their next return to claim the credit.

IRS.gov is a valuable first stop to help taxpayers get it right this filing season. Qualify for EITC? See what other tax credits are available such as the Additional Child Tax Credit.

Related items:

  • FS-2017-02, Do I Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit?
  • IRS.gov/eitc, Detailed EITC eligibility rules
  • EITC Central at www.eitc.irs.gov, Helpful resources for IRS partners and anyone interested in spreading the word about this benefit.
  • Pub. 596, Earned Income Credit (EIC)
  • Tax Professionals, Another place for valuable EITC resources and assistance.

Taxpayers have fundamental rights under the law. The “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” presents these rights in 10 categories. This helps taxpayers when they interact with the IRS.

Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, highlights a list of taxpayer rights and the agency’s obligations to protect them. Here is a wrap-up of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights:

  1. The Right to Be Informed.

Taxpayers have the right to know what is required to comply with the tax laws. They are entitled to clear explanations of the laws and IRS procedures in all tax forms, instructions, publications, notices and correspondence. They have the right to know about IRS decisions affecting their accounts and clear explanations of the outcomes.

  1. The Right to Quality Service.

Taxpayers have the right to receive prompt, courteous and professional assistance in their dealings with the IRS and the freedom to speak to a supervisor about inadequate service. Communications from the IRS should be clear and easy to understand.

  1. The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax.

Taxpayers have the right to pay only the amount of tax legally due, including interest and penalties. They should also expect the IRS to apply all tax payments properly.

  1. The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard.

Taxpayers have the right to object to formal IRS actions or proposed actions and provide justification with additional documentation. They should expect that the IRS will consider their timely objections and documentation promptly and fairly. If the IRS does not agree with their position, they should expect a response.

  1. The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum.

Taxpayers are entitled to a fair and impartial administrative appeal of most IRS decisions, including certain penalties. Taxpayers have the right to receive a written response regarding a decision from the Office of Appeals. Taxpayers generally have the right to take their cases to court.

  1. The Right to Finality.

Taxpayers have the right to know the maximum amount of time they have to challenge an IRS position and the maximum amount of time the IRS has to audit a particular tax year or collect a tax debt. Taxpayers have the right to know when the IRS concludes an audit.

  1. The Right to Privacy.

Taxpayers have the right to expect that any IRS inquiry, examination or enforcement action will comply with the law and be no more intrusive than necessary. They should expect such proceedings to respect all due process rights, including search and seizure protections. The IRS will provide, where applicable, a collection due process hearing.

  1. The Right to Confidentiality.

Taxpayers have the right to expect that their tax information will remain confidential. The IRS will not disclose information unless authorized by the taxpayer or by law. Taxpayers should expect the IRS to take appropriate action against employees, return preparers and others who wrongfully use or disclose their return information.

  1. The Right to Retain Representation.

Taxpayers have the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice to represent them in their dealings with the IRS. Taxpayers have the right to seek assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic if they cannot afford representation.

  1. The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System.

Taxpayers have the right to expect fairness from the tax system. This includes considering all facts and circumstances that might affect their underlying liabilities, ability to pay or ability to provide information timely. Taxpayers have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service if they are experiencing financial difficulty or if the IRS has not resolved their tax issues properly and timely through its normal channels.

The IRS will include Publication 1 when sending a notice to taxpayers on a range of issues, such as an audit or collection matter. IRS offices display the rights for taxpayers and employees to see.

Publication 1 is available in  EnglishChineseKoreanRussianSpanish and Vietnamese.

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

Additional IRS Resources:

IRS YouTube Videos:

IRS Podcasts:

Share this tip on social media — How the IRS Taxpayer Bill of Rights Works. http://go.usa.gov/x9mB5#IRS

As an employer, your size – for purposes of the Affordable Care Act –  is determined by the number of your employees. If you hire seasonal or holiday workers, you should know how these employees are counted under the health care law.

Employer benefits, opportunities and requirements are dependent upon your organization’s size and the applicable rules. If you have at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during the prior year, you are an ALE for the current calendar year.  However, there is an exception for seasonal workers.

If you have at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during the prior year, your organization is an ALE. Here’s the exception: If your workforce exceeds 50 full-time employees for 120 days or fewer during a calendar year, and the employees in excess of 50 during that period were seasonal workers, your organization is not considered an ALE. For this purpose, a seasonal worker is an employee who performs labor or services on a seasonal basis.

The terms seasonal worker and seasonal employee are both used in the employer shared responsibility provisions, but in two different contexts. Only the term seasonal worker is relevant for determining whether an employer is an applicable large employer subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions.  For information on the difference between a seasonal worker and a seasonal employee under the employer shared responsibility provisions see our Questions and Answers page.

See the Determining if an Employer is an Applicable Large Employerpage on IRS.gov/aca for details about counting full-time and full-time equivalent employees. You can also see our Health Care Law: Highlights for Applicable Large Employers video on the IRS YouTube channel’s Health Care playlistIRS.gov/aca also has information that can answer your employees’ questions about the health care law.

Under the Affordable Care Act, certain organizations must report information to the IRS and individuals about health insurance coverage. The reporting requirements apply to insurance companies, self-insured companies, applicable large employers and employers that provide health insurance to their employees. ACA information returns and transmittals are electronically filed through the ACA Information Return system, also known as AIR.

The ACA Assurance Testing System opens November 7 for tax year 2016 testing. AATS is a process to test software and electronic transmissions prior to accepting software developers, transmitters, and issuers into the AIR program. Software developers – including employers and issuers – who passed AATS for tax year 2015 will not have to retest for tax year 2016; their tax year software packages will be moved into production status. New participants need to comply with test requirements for tax year 2016.

Other non-ACA information returns – such as Forms 1099 – can be electronically transmitted through the Filing Information Returns Electronically system, also known as FIRE.  Even if you previously used FIRE, if you are transmitting to AIR, you should familiarize yourself with the AIR procedures, which are different than those for FIRE.

If you are required to file 250 or more information returns, you must file them electronically. This requirement applies separately for each type of return and separately to each type of corrected return. All filers are encouraged to electronically file even if you have less than 250 returns.

IRS.gov/AIR has an array of tools and products to help you navigate the AIR system:

Announcement 2016-39 provides relief to taxpayers who have been adversely affected by Hurricane Matthew and who have retirement assets in qualified employer plans that they would like to use to alleviate hardships caused by Hurricane Matthew.

Announcement 2016-39 will be in IRB 2016-45, dated November 7, 2016.

WASHINGTON –– Hurricane Matthew victims in much of North Carolina and parts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida have until March 15, 2017, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments, the Internal Revenue Service announced today. This includes an additional filing extension for those with valid extensions that run out at midnight tonight, Oct. 17.

The IRS is now offering this expanded relief to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as qualifying for either individual assistance or public assistance. Moreover, taxpayers in counties added later to the disaster area will automatically receive the same filing and payment relief.

The IRS is taking this step due to the unusual factors involving Hurricane Matthew and the interaction with the Oct. 17 extension deadline.

The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on Oct. 4, 2016. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until March 15, 2017, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. This includes the Jan. 17 deadline for making quarterly estimated tax payments. For individual tax filers, it also includes 2015 income tax returns that received a tax-filing extension until today, Oct. 17, 2016. The IRS noted, however, that because tax payments related to these 2015 returns were originally due on April 18, 2016, those are not eligible for this relief.

A variety of business tax deadlines are also affected including the Oct. 31 and Jan. 31 deadlines for quarterly payroll and excise tax returns. It also includes the special March 1 deadline that applies to farmers and fishermen who choose to forgo making quarterly estimated tax payments.

In addition, the IRS is waiving late-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due on or after Oct. 4 and before Oct. 19 if the deposits are made by Oct. 19, 2016. Details on available relief can be found on the disaster reliefpage on IRS.gov.

The IRS automatically provides filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in the disaster area. Thus, taxpayers need not contact the IRS to get this relief. However, if an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date falling within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.

In addition,the IRS will work with any taxpayer who lives outside the disaster area but whose records necessary to meet a deadline occurring during the postponement period are located in the affected area. Taxpayers qualifying for relief who live outside the disaster area need to contact the IRS at 866-562-5227. This also includes workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization.

Individuals and businesses who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (in this instance, the 2016 return normally filed next year), or the return for the prior year (2015). See Publication 547 for details.

Currently, the following areas are eligible for relief:

North Carolina: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Washington, Wayne and Wilson counties.

 

South Carolina: Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Jasper, Marion, Orangeburg and Williamsburg counties.

 

Georgia: Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh counties.

 

Florida: Brevard, Duval, Flagler, Indian River, Nassau, St. Johns, St. Lucie and Volusia counties.

The tax relief is part of a coordinated federal response to the damage caused by severe storms and flooding and is based on local damage assessments by FEMA. For information on disaster recovery, visit disasterassistance.gov.

WASHINGTON  — The Internal Revenue Service today advised taxpayers affected by Hurricane Matthew but not yet covered by a federal disaster declaration with individual assistance that they may qualify for relief from penalties if they are unable to meet Monday’s extended deadline for filing 2015 tax returns.

The IRS noted that additional individual assistance areas could be added to the federal disaster area in coming days based on continuing damage assessments by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These additional disaster declarations will pave the way for additional extensions and other relief from the IRS. This means that the IRS will automatically provide retroactive extensions and other relief to any locality added to the federal disaster area at a later date. In areas with disaster declarations for individual assistance, taxpayers will have until  March 15, 2017 to file returns otherwise due on Monday, October  17.

“The hurricane and flooding have hit many different states hard, and the timing of this is especially tough for taxpayers and tax professionals planning to file by the Oct. 17 extension deadline,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We have been watching this situation unfold and remain in close touch with FEMA. We will do everything we can to work with taxpayers who are in affected areas.”

The IRS reminds taxpayers that there is no penalty for filing a late return qualifying for a refund. This means, for example, that a taxpayer who received a valid extension and overpaid any expected tax due before April 18 will not face a late penalty, even if they file after Oct. 17.

Taxpayers affected by Hurricane Matthew who owe tax should file when they are reasonably able. If they live outside the federally-declared disaster area, they may receive a penalty notice from the IRS. If this happens, they can request abatement of the penalties, based on reasonable cause, by replying in writing to the penalty notice and explaining that they’re impacted by the hurricane.

A complete up-to-date rundown of relief being provided to victims of Hurricane Matthew can be found on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov. As of Thursday, 17 counties in North Carolina are eligible for relief.

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners today issued an alert to taxpayers and tax professionals to be on guard against fake emails purporting to contain an IRS tax bill related to the Affordable Care Act.

The IRS has received numerous reports around the country of scammers sending a fraudulent version of CP2000 notices for tax year 2015. Generally, the scam involves an email that includes the fake CP2000 as an attachment. The issue has been reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for investigation.

The CP2000 is a notice commonly mailed to taxpayers through the United States Postal Service. It is never sent as part of an email to taxpayers. The indicators are:

  • These notices are being sent electronically, even though the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or through social media platforms;
  • The CP 2000 notices appear to be issued from an Austin, Texas, address;
  • The underreported issue is related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requesting information regarding 2014 coverage;
  • The payment voucher lists the letter number as 105C.

The fraudulent CP2000 notice included a payment request that taxpayers mail a check made out to “I.R.S.” to the “Austin Processing Center” at a Post Office Box address. This is in addition to a “payment” link within the email itself.

IRS impersonation scams take many forms: threatening telephone calls, phishing emails and demanding letters. Learn more at Reporting Phishing and Online Scams.

Taxpayers or tax professionals who receive this scam email should forward it to phishing@irs.gov  and then delete it from their email account.

Taxpayers and tax professionals generally can do a keyword search on IRS.gov for any notice they receive. Taxpayers who receive a notice or letter can view explanations and images of common correspondence on IRS.gov at Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter.

To determine if a CP2000 notice you received in the mail is real, see the Understanding Your CP2000 Notice, which includes an image of a real notice.

A CP2000 is generated by the IRS Automated Underreporter Program when income reported from third-party sources such as an employer does not match the income reported on the tax return. It provides extensive instructions to taxpayers about what to do if they agree or disagree that additional tax is owed.

It also requests that a check be made out to “United States Treasury” if the taxpayer agrees additional tax is owed. Or, if taxpayers are unable to pay, it provides instructions for payment options such as installment payments.

The IRS and its Security Summit partners – the state tax agencies and the private-sector tax industry – are conducting a campaign to raise awareness among taxpayer and tax professionals about increasing their security and becoming familiar with various tax-related scams. Learn more at Taxes. Security. Together. or Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself.

Taxpayers and tax professional should always beware of any unsolicited email purported to be from the IRS or any unknown source. They should never open an attachment or click on a link within an email sent by sources they do not know.

WASHINGTON – With a key certification deadline fast approaching, the Internal Revenue Service today urged employers to take advantage of a valuable tax credit designed to help those who hire long-term unemployment recipients, certain veterans, recipients of various kinds of public assistance and other workers who face significant barriers to employment.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, enacted last December, retroactively extended the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) for nine categories of workers hired on or after Jan. 1, 2015. For the first time, the legislation also added a tenth category for long-term unemployment recipients hired on or after Jan. 1, 2016 who had been unemployed for a period of at least 27 weeks and received state or federal unemployment benefits during part or all of that time. The special Sept. 28, 2016 certification deadline applies to eligible workers hired between Jan. 1, 2015 and Aug. 31, 2016.

Normally, to qualify for the credit, an employer must first request certification by filing IRS Form 8850 with the state workforce agency within 28 days after the eligible worker begins work. But due to the late enactment of the legislation extending the WOTC and its retroactive impact, the IRS is giving employers extra time, until Sept. 28, to make requests related to eligible workers hired any time in 2015 and during the first eight months of 2016. The regular 28-day rule will again apply for any eligible worker hired after Aug. 31, 2016. Other requirements and further details can be found in the instructions to Form 8850, Notice 2016-22 and Notice 2016-40, available on IRS.gov.

The 10 categories of WOTC-eligible workers include:

  • Qualified IV-A Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients
  • Unemployed veterans, including disabled veterans
  • Ex-felons
  • Designated community residents living in Empowerment Zones or Rural Renewal Counties
  • Vocational rehabilitation referrals
  • Summer youth employees living in Empowerment Zones
  • Food stamp (SNAP) recipients
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients
  • Long-term family assistance recipients
  • Qualified long-term unemployment recipients (for people who begin work after 2015).

Eligible businesses claim the WOTC on their income tax return. The credit is first figured on Form 5884 and then becomes a part of the general business credit claimed on Form 3800.

Though the credit is not available to tax-exempt organizations for most categories of new hires, a special rule allows them to get the WOTC for hiring qualified veterans. These organizations claim the credit on Form 5884-C. Visit the WOTC page on IRS.gov for more information.

If you are divorcing or recently divorced, taxes may be the last thing on your mind. However, these events can have a big impact on your wallet. Alimony and a name or address change are just a few items you may need to consider. Here are some key tax tips to keep in mind:

  • Child Support.  Child support payments are not deductible and if you received child support, it is not taxable.
  • Alimony Paid.  You can deduct alimony paid to or for a spouse or former spouse under a divorce or separation decree, regardless of whether you itemize deductions. Voluntary payments made outside a divorce or separation decree are not deductible. You must enter your spouse’s Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number on your Form 1040 when you file.
  • Alimony Received.  If you get alimony from your spouse or former spouse, it is taxable in the year you get it. Alimony is not subject to tax withholding so you may need to increase the tax you pay during the year to avoid a penalty. To do this, you can make estimated tax payments or increase the amount of tax withheld from your wages.
  • Spousal IRA.  If you get a final decree of divorce or separate maintenance by the end of your tax year, you can’t deduct contributions you make to your former spouse’s traditional IRA. You may be able to deduct contributions you make to your own traditional IRA.
  • Name Changes.  If you change your name after your divorce, be sure to notify the Social Security Administration. File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. You can get the form on SSA.gov or call 800-772-1213 to order it. The name on your tax return must match SSA records. A name mismatch can cause problems in the processing of your return and may delay your refund.  Health Care Law Considerations.
  • Special Marketplace Enrollment Period.  If you lose health insurance coverage due to divorce, you are still required to have coverage for every month of the year for yourself and the dependents you can claim on your tax return. You may enroll in health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace during a Special Enrollment Period, if you lose coverage due to a divorce.
  • Changes in Circumstances.  If you purchase health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you may get advance payments of the premium tax credit. If you do, you should report changes in circumstances to your Marketplace throughout the year. These changes include a change in marital status, a name change, a change of address, and a change in your income or family size. Reporting these changes will help make sure that you get the proper type and amount of financial assistance. This will also help you avoid getting too much or too little credit in advance.
  • Shared Policy Allocation. If you divorced or are legally separated during the tax year and are enrolled in the same qualified health plan, you and your former spouse must allocate policy amounts on your separate tax returns to figure your premium tax credit and reconcile any advance payments made on your behalf. Publication 974, Premium Tax Credit, has more information about the Shared Policy Allocation. For more on this topic, see Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals. You can get it on IRS.gov/forms at any time.

IRS Tax Tips provide valuable information throughout the year. IRS.gov offers tax help and info on various topics including common tax scamstaxpayer rights and more.

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