WASHINGTON – People with disabilities can now put more money into their tax-favored Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts and may, for the first time, qualify for the Saver’s Credit for low- and moderate-income workers, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the tax reform legislation enacted in December, made major changes to the tax law for 2018 and future years, including increasing the standard deduction, removing personal exemptions, increasing the Child Tax Credit, limiting or discontinuing certain deductions and changing tax rates and brackets.
The new law also enables eligible individuals with disabilities to put more money into their ABLE accounts, qualify for the Saver’s Creditin many cases and roll money from their 529 plans — also known as qualified tuition programs — into their ABLE accounts.
States can offer specially designed ABLE accounts to people who become disabled before age 26. Recognizing the special financial burdens faced by families raising children with disabilities, ABLE accounts are designed to enable people with disabilities and their families to save for and pay for disability-related expenses. Though contributions are not deductible, distributions, including earnings, are tax-free to the designated beneficiary if used to pay qualified disability expenses. These expenses can include housing, education, transportation, health, prevention and wellness, employment training and support, assistive technology and personal support services and other disability-related expenses.
Normally, contributions totaling up to the annual gift tax exclusion amount, currently $15,000, may be made to an ABLE account each year for an eligible person with a disability, known as a designated beneficiary. But, starting in 2018, if the beneficiary works, the beneficiary can also contribute part or all of what they make to their ABLE account.
This additional contribution is limited to the poverty line amount for a one-person household. For 2018, this amount is $12,140 in the continental U.S., $13,960 in Hawaii and $15,180 in Alaska. However, the designated beneficiary is not eligible to make this additional contribution if their employer contributes to a workplace retirement plan on their behalf.
In addition, starting in 2018, ABLE account beneficiaries can qualify for the Saver’s Credit based on contributions they make to their ABLE accounts. Up to $2,000 of these contributions qualify for this special credit designed to help low- and moderate-income workers. Claimed on Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, this credit can reduce the amount of tax a person owes or increase their refund. Like other IRS tax forms, Form 8880 will be revised later this year to reflect changes made by the new law.
In addition, some funds now may be rolled into an ABLE account from the designated beneficiary’s own 529 plan or from the 529 plan of certain family members.
Like other workers, ABLE account beneficiaries and other people with disabilities should make sure they are having the right amount of income tax withheld from their pay. Because of the far-reaching tax changes taking effect this year, the IRS urges all employees to perform a paycheck checkup now. Doing so now will help avoid an unexpected year-end tax bill and possibly a penalty. The easiest way to do that is to use the fully-accessible Withholding Calculator, available on IRS.gov.
For more information about ABLE accounts and the tax reform changes, visit IRS.gov/taxreform.
WASHINGTON — With more than 2 million Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) set to expire at the end of 2018, the Internal Revenue Service today urged affected taxpayers to submit their renewal applications soon to beat the rush and avoid refund delays next year.
In the third year of the renewal program, the IRS has increased staffing to handle the anticipated influx of W-7 applications for renewal. This third wave of expiring ITINs is expected to affect as many as 2.7 million taxpayers. To help taxpayers, the renewal process for 2019 is beginning earlier than last year.
“Even though the April tax deadline has passed, the IRS encourages people affected by these ITIN changes to take steps as soon as possible to prepare for next year’s tax returns,” said Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter. “Acting now to renew ITIN numbers will help taxpayers avoid delays that could affect their tax filing and refunds in 2019. The IRS appreciates the help from partner groups across the nation sharing this information with those with expiring ITIN numbers.”
Under the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, ITINs that have not been used on a federal tax return at least once in the last three consecutive years will expire Dec. 31, 2018. In addition, ITINs with middle digits 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 81 or 82 will also expire at the end of the year. These affected taxpayers who expect to file a tax return in 2019 must submit a renewal application as soon as possible.
ITINs are used by people who have tax filing or payment obligations under U.S. law but who are not eligible for a Social Security number. ITIN holders who have questions should visit the ITIN information page on IRS.gov and take a few minutes to understand the guidelines.
Once again, the IRS is launching a nationwide education effort to share information with ITIN holders. To help taxpayers, the IRS offers a variety of informational materials, including flyers and fact sheets, available in several languages on IRS.gov.
The IRS will continue to work with partner groups and others in the ITIN community to share information widely about these important changes.
Who should renew an ITIN
- Taxpayers whose ITIN is expiring and who need to file a tax return in 2019 must submit a renewal application. Others do not need to take any action. ITINs with the middle digits 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 81 or 82 (For example: 9NN-73-NNNN) need to be renewed even if the taxpayer has used it in the last three years. The IRS will begin sending the CP-48 Notice, You must renew your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to file your U.S. tax return, in early summer to affected taxpayers. The notice explains the steps to take to renew the ITIN if it will be included on a U.S. tax return filed in 2019. Taxpayers who receive the notice after taking action to renew their ITIN do not need to take further action unless another family member is affected.
- ITINs with middle digits of 70, 71, 72, 78, 79 or 80 have previously expired. Taxpayers with these ITINs can still renew at any time.
- Spouses or dependents residing inside the United States should renew their ITINs. However, spouses and dependents residing outside the United States do not need to renew their ITINs unless they anticipate being claimed for a tax benefit (for example, after they move to the United States) or if they file their own tax return. That’s because the deduction for personal exemptions is suspended for tax years 2018 through 2025 by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Consequently, spouses or dependents outside the United States who would have been claimed for this personal exemption benefit and no other benefit do not need to renew their ITINs this year.
Family option remains available
Taxpayers with an ITIN that has middle digits 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 81 or 82, as well as all previously expired ITINs, have the option to renew ITINs for their entire family at the same time. Those who have received a renewal letter from the IRS can choose to renew the family’s ITINs together, even if family members have an ITIN with middle digits that have not been identified for expiration. Family members include the tax filer, spouse and any dependents claimed on the tax return.
How to renew an ITIN
To renew an ITIN, a taxpayer must complete a Form W-7 and submit all required documentation. Taxpayers submitting a Form W-7 to renew their ITIN are not required to attach a federal tax return. However, taxpayers must still note a reason for needing an ITIN on the Form W-7. See the Form W-7 instructions for detailed information.
There are three ways to submit the W-7 application package. Taxpayers can:
- Mail the Form W-7, along with original identification documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them, to the IRS address listed on the Form W-7 instructions. The IRS will review the identification documents and return them within 60 days.
- Work with Certified Acceptance Agents (CAAs) authorized by the IRS to help taxpayers apply for an ITIN. CAAs can authenticate all identification documents for primary and secondary taxpayers, verify that an ITIN application is correct before submitting it to the IRS for processing and authenticate the passports and birth certificates for dependents. This saves taxpayers from mailing original documents to the IRS.
- In advance, call and make an appointment at a designated IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center to have each applicant’s identity authenticated in person instead of mailing original identification documents to the IRS. Applicants should bring a completed Form W-7 along with all required identification documents. See the TAC ITIN authentication page for more details.
Avoid common errors now and prevent delays next year
Federal tax returns that are submitted in 2019 with an expired ITIN will be processed. However, certain tax credits and any exemptions will be disallowed. Taxpayers will receive a notice in the mail advising them of the change to their tax return and their need to renew their ITIN. Once the ITIN is renewed, applicable credits and exemptions will be restored and any refunds will be issued.
Additionally, several common errors can slow down and hold some ITIN renewal applications. These mistakes generally center on missing information or insufficient supporting documentation, such as name changes. The IRS urges any applicant to check over their form carefully before sending it to the IRS.
As a reminder, the IRS no longer accepts passports that do not have a date of entry into the U.S. as a stand-alone identification document for dependents from a country other than Canada or Mexico, or dependents of U.S. military personnel overseas. The dependent’s passport must have a date of entry stamp, otherwise the following additional documents to prove U.S. residency are required:
- U.S. medical records for dependents under age 6,
- U.S. school records for dependents under age 18, and
- U.S. school records (if a student), rental statements, bank statements or utility bills listing the applicant’s name and U.S. address, if over age 18.
IRS continues to encourage more applicants for the Acceptance Agent Program to expand ITIN services
To increase the availability of ITIN services nationwide, particularly in communities with high ITIN usage, the IRS is actively recruiting Certified Acceptance Agents and accepting applications year-round. Interested individuals are encouraged to review all CAA program changes and requirements and submit an application to become a Certified Acceptance Agent.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act includes changes to moving, mileage and travel expenses:
Move-related vehicle expense
The new law suspends the deduction for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017, through Jan. 1, 2026. During the suspension, no deduction is allowed for use of an auto as part of a move using the mileage rate listed in IRS Notice 2018-03.
This does not apply to members of the Armed Forces on active duty who move related to a permanent change of station.
Unreimbursed employee expenses
The Act also suspends all miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2 percent of adjusted gross income floor. This change affects unreimbursed employee expenses such as uniforms, union dues and the deduction for business-related meals, entertainment and travel.
For additional guidance, see IRS Notice 2018-42.
Standard mileage rates for 2018
The standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck for 2018 remain:
- 54.5 cents for every mile of business travel driven, a 1 cent increase from 2017.
- 18 cents per mile driven for medical purposes, a 1 cent increase from 2017.
- 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations, which is set by statute and remains unchanged.
Increased depreciation limits
The recent legislation also increases the depreciation limitations for passenger autos placed in service after Dec. 31, 2017, for purposes of computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan. The maximum standard automobile cost may not exceed $50,000 for passenger automobiles, trucks and vans placed in service after Dec. 31, 2017.
For additional details, see the May 25, 2018 IRS news release: Law change affects moving, mileage and travel expenses.
Many taxpayers recently filed their taxes and may be waiting for a response from the IRS. Because of this summertime tends to be a period when thieves increase their scam attempts. They try to get people to disclose personal information like Social Security numbers, account information and passwords.
To avoid becoming a victim, taxpayers should remember these telltale signs of a scam:
The IRS and its authorized private collection agencies will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes. All tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury. Taxpayers should never make checks out to third parties.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
- Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Use email, text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds.
For anyone who doesn’t owe taxes and has no reason to think they do, they should:
- Not give out any information and hang up immediately.
- Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report a call or email. Recipients should also send emails to email@example.com.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. They should add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
For anyone who owes tax or thinks they do, they can:
- View tax account information online at IRS.gov to see the actual amount owed. Taxpayers can then also review their payment options.
- Call the number on the billing notice.
- Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help.
- Taxpayer Bill of Rights
- How to know if it’s really the IRS calling or knocking at your door
- Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts
- Avoid scams: Know the facts on how the IRS contacts taxpayers
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Taxpayers who sell a home may qualify to exclude from their income all or part of any gain from the sale. Below are some things taxpayers should keep in mind when selling a home:
Ownership and use. To claim the exclusion, the homeowner must meet the ownership and use tests. During a five-year period ending on the date of the sale, the homeowner must have:
- Owned the home for at least two years.
- Lived in the home as their main home for at least two years.
Gain. Taxpayers who sell their main home and have a gain from the sale may usually be able to exclude up to $250,000 from their income or $500,000 on a joint return. Homeowners who can exclude all of the gain do not need to report the sale on their tax return.
Loss. Taxpayers experience a loss when their main home sells for less than what they paid for it. This loss is not deductible.
Reported sale. Taxpayers who cannot exclude the gain from their income must report the sale of their home on a tax return. Taxpayers who choose not to claim the exclusion must report the gain on a tax return. Taxpayers who receive a Form 1099-S, Proceeds from Real Estate Transactions, as part of the real estate transaction must also report the sale on their tax return.
Mortgage debt. Some taxpayers must report forgiven or canceled debt as income on their tax return. This generally includes people who went through a mortgage workout, foreclosure, or other process in which a lender forgave or canceled mortgage debt on their home. Taxpayers who had a written agreement for the forgiveness of the debt in place before January 1, 2017, might be able to exclude the forgiven amount from income.
Possible exceptions. There are exceptions to these rules for persons with a disability, certain members of the military, intelligence community and Peace Corps workers, among others.
Worksheets. Worksheets included in Publication 523, Selling Your Home, can help taxpayers figure the:
- Adjusted basis of the home sold.
- Gain or loss on the sale.
- Excluded gain on the sale.
Multiple homes. Taxpayers who own more than one home can only exclude the gain on the sale of their main home. They must pay taxes on the gain from selling any other home.
Tax credit. Taxpayers who claimed the first-time homebuyer credit to purchase their home have special rules that apply to the sale. Taxpayers can use the First Time Homebuyer Credit Account Look-upto get account information, such as the total amount of their credit or repayment amount.
- Tax Topic 701, Sale of Your Home
- Tax Topic 703, Basis of Assets
- Tax Topic 611, Repayment of the First-Time Homebuyer Credit
- IRS Tax Map, Selling Your Home
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During the summer, taxpayers often rent out their property. They usually think about things such as cleanup and maintenance, but owners also need to be aware of the tax implications of residential and vacation home rentals.
If taxpayers receive money for the use of a house that’s also used as a taxpayer’s personal residence, it generally requires reporting the rental income on a tax return.
•Vacation Home. This may be a house, an apartment, condominium, mobile home, boat, vacation home or similar property. It’s possible to use more than one unit as a residence during the year.
•Used as a Home. When the property is used as a home, the rental expense deduction is limited. This means the rental expenses cannot be more than the rent received.
•Personal Use. Personal use means use by the owner, owner’s family, friends, other property owners and their families. Personal use includes anyone paying less than a fair rental price.
•Divide Expenses. Generally, special rules apply to the rental expenses of a property that’s used by the taxpayer as a residence during the taxable year. Usually, rental income must be reported in full, and any expenses need to be divided between personal and business purposes.
•Special Rules. If the home unit is rented out fewer than 15 days during the year, none of the rental income is reportable and none of the rental expenses are deductible.
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While the federal income tax-filing deadline has come and gone for most people, some taxpayers still haven’t filed or paid their taxes.
Here are some tips for handling common issues after the filing deadline has passed:
- Anyone who didn’t file and owes tax should file a return as soon as possible and pay as much as possible to reduce penalties and interest. There’s no penalty for filing a late return if a refund is due. Penalties and interest only accrue on unfiled returns of taxpayers who don’t pay by the deadline.
- For those who qualify, IRS Free File is still available on IRS.govthrough October 15 to prepare and file returns electronically.
- Filing soon is especially important because the late-filing penalty on unpaid taxes adds up quickly. Alternatively, taxpayers who have a history of filing and paying on time sometimes qualify for penalty relief.
- Taxpayers who owe taxes can view their balance, and pay with IRS Direct Pay, or by debit or credit card. They can also apply online for a payment plan, including an installment agreement. Before accessing their tax account online, users must authenticate their identity through the Secure Access process. Several other electronic payment options are available on IRS.gov/payments.
- The IRS will usually correct any math errors on a return and notify the taxpayer by mail. Similarly, the agency will send a letter requesting any missing forms or schedules.
Related Tax Tips
- Help Available at IRS.gov for Taxpayers Who Filed an Extension
- Tips for Taxpayers Who Have to Amend a Tax Return
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WASHINGTON —With many businesses facing a tight job market, the Internal Revenue Service reminds employers to check out a valuable tax credit available to them for hiring long-term unemployment recipients and other categories of workers with employment barriers.
During National Small Business Week — April 29 to May 5 — the Internal Revenue Service is highlighting tax benefits and resources designed to help new and existing small businesses.
The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a long-standing income tax benefit that encourages employers to hire designated categories of workers who face significant barriers to employment. For any employer considering this option, the WOTC may be able to help.
For those who haven’t claimed the WOTC in a while, the IRS noted that legislation enacted in recent years has both expanded and modified the credit. For example, legislation effective Jan. 1, 2016, added a new category for long-term unemployment recipients 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.
Here’s how it works.
The credit, usually claimed on Form 5884, Work Opportunity Credit, is generally based on wages paid to eligible workers during the first two years of employment. To qualify for the credit, an employer must first request certification by filing IRS Form 8850, Pre-screening Notice and Certification Request for the Work Opportunity Credit, with the state workforce agency within 28 days after the eligible worker begins work. Other requirements and further details can be found in the instructions to Form 8850.
There are now 10 categories of WOTC-eligible workers. Besides long-term unemployment recipients, the other categories include certain veterans and recipients of various kinds of public assistance, among others.
The 10 categories are:
- Qualified IV-A Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients
- Unemployed veterans, including disabled veterans
- 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.
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, General Business Credit.
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, Work Opportunity Credit for Qualified Tax Exempt Organizations Hiring Qualified Veterans. Visit the WOTC page on IRS.gov for more information.
The 2018 National Small Business Week is April 29 through May 5. This is the perfect time for small business owners and the self-employed to check out many online products to help them understand their tax responsibilities.
Here are a few of the products in the spotlight for this year’s National Small Business Week:
- Sharing Economy Tax Center. This web page provides fast answers to tax questions and links and forms about the sharing economy. People who are involved in the sharing economy are those who use online platforms to engage in businesses, such as renting a spare bedroom, providing car rides, and providing other goods and services.
- Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center. The Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center is a great resource for sole proprietors and others who are in business for themselves. This site has many handy tips and references to tax rules a self-employed person may need to know. Self-employed taxpayers will find information on topics, including how to make quarterly payments and business structures.
- Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center. This online information center features links to useful tools, including Small Business Taxes: The Virtual Workshop and common IRS forms with instructions. Taxpayers can find help on everything from how to get an Employer Identification Number online to how to engage with the IRS during an audit. A link to the IRS Tax Calendar for Businesses and Self-Employed also provides at-a-glance key tax dates for businesses.