2012 Individual Income Tax Returns Complete Report Now Available

Legal books #7On August 22, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service announced the availability of their report, Statistics of Income – 2012 Individual Income Tax Returns Complete Report (Publication 1304).  This report contains complete individual income tax data.  The statistics are based on a sample of individual income tax returns, selected before audit, which represents a population of Forms 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ, including electronic returns.

U.S. Taxpayers filed 144.9 million individual income tax returns for tax year 2012.  This number is down 0.3 percent from 2011.  The adjusted gross income less deficit reported on these returns totaled 9.1 trillion dollars.  This is an increase of 8.7 percent when compared to the prior year.

The report is based on a sample of 144.9 million individual income tax returns filed for tax year 2012, and provides estimates on sources of income, adjusted gross income, exemptions, deductions, taxable income, income tax, modified income tax, tax credits, self-employment tax, and tax payments.

Classifications include tax status, size of adjusted gross income, marital status, age, and type of tax computation.  A brief text reviews the requirements for filing tax returns, explains the changes in tax law, and describes the sample used to produce the report.  The report is available for review and download at the following location in the IRS’s official website:

http://www.irs.gov/uac/SOI-Tax-Stats-Individual-Income-Tax-Returns-Publication-1304-(Complete-Report)

For more information about these data, one may write to the Director, Statistics of Income Division, RAS:S, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Avenue, K-Room 4122, Washington, D.C 20224

This blog brought to you by TaxLane, LLC, providing tax preparation and consulting services to individuals and small businesses.

Pittsburgh, Allison Park, Hampton, Shaler, Glenshaw.

IRS CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH REQUIREMENTS IMPOSED BY THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, WE INFORM YOU THAT ANY U.S. TAX ADVICE CONTAINED IN THIS COMMUNICATION IS NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN TO BE USED, AND CANNOT BE USED, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (I) AVOIDING PENALTIES UNDER THE INTERNAL REVENUE CODE OR (II) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED IN THIS COMMUNICATION.

IRS Taxpayer Bill of Rights Now Available in 6 Languages

Biology Book Shows Education And LearningOn August 12, 2014, the IRS announced that the “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” is now available in six languages.  The current version of Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, is now posted on www.IRS.gov.  The available languages include: English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Korean and Vietnamese.  By making this important publication available in multiple languages, the hope of the IRS is to increase the number of Americans who know and understand their rights under the tax law.

Not only is the Taxpayer Bill of Rights now available in multiple languages, but the newest revision also takes the multiple existing rights embedded in the tax law and groups them into ten broad categories.  This makes them easier to find and understand.

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights contains the following 10 provisions:

  1. The Right to be Informed;
  2. The Right to Quality Service;
  3. The Right to Pay No More Than the Correct Amount of Tax;
  4. The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and to Be Heard;
  5. The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum;
  6. The Right to Finality;
  7. The Right to Privacy;
  8. The Right to Confidentiality;
  9. The Right to Retain Representation;
  10. The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System.

The IRS has created a special section within the website, www.IRS.gov, to highlight these 10 rights.  Similarly, the website will be continuously updated as more information becomes available.

This blog brought to you by TaxLane, LLC, providing tax preparation and consulting services to individuals and small businesses.

Pittsburgh, Allison Park, Hampton, Shaler, Glenshaw.

IRS CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.

IRS Repeats Warning About Phone Scams

fraud, scam, theftThe Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (“TIGTA”) are still receiving complaints from taxpayers about unsolicited calls from people claiming to be from the IRS and demanding payment.  The TIGTA has identified approximately 1,100 victims who have lost a total of $5 million from these scammers.

Here are a few things taxpayers should know about the IRS that can help you recognize a scam:

  • The IRS will NEVER ask for credit, debit or prepaid card information over the phone;
  • The IRS will NEVER insist that you use a specific type of repayment to pay tax obligations;
  • The IRS will NEVER request immediate payment over the phone and will not take enforcement action immediately after a phone conversation.

Taxpayers who receive these calls may be told that they owe money that must be paid immediately or that they are entitled to a large refund.  If unsuccessful the first time, scammers may call back and try a different method.

Here are some other typical characteristics of a scam:

  • Scammers will use fake names and IRS badge numbers. The names are usually common;
  • Scammers may know the last four digits of you social security number;
  • Scammers are able to make the caller ID appear as if the IRS toll free number is calling;
  • Scammers occasionally send bogus IRS emails to support their bogus phone calls;
  • Scammers will add background noise to simulate the sound of a call center;
  • Scammers will threaten the potential victim with jail time or suspending their driver’s license. Similarly, another scammer will call back shortly after hanging up and pose as the DMV or local police; and the caller ID may be masked to support their claims.

If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here are some simple steps you can take:

  • If you know you owe taxes, or you think you might, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue if there is one;
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes, or you have no reason to think that you owe any taxes, then call and report the incident to the TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484;
  • If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of the complaint.

Taxpayers should also be aware that there are other types of telephone scams and solicitations that claim to be from the IRS, such as debt relief or lottery sweepstakes.

The IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against email and telephone scams.  The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via electronic media, including email, text messages or any social media source.  The IRS will always contact taxpayers with official correspondence sent through the mail.  People who receive such emails should not open any links contained in the message.  Instead, forward the email to phishing@irs.gov.

This blog brought to you by TaxLane, LLC, providing tax preparation and consulting services to individuals and small businesses.

Pittsburgh, Allison Park, Hampton, Shaler, Glenshaw.

IRS CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.

Tax Season Opens Today!

time for taxesThe Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting electronically filed individual tax returns today (Jan. 31, 2014) to officially open the 2014 filing season.  The IRS encourages taxpayers to use e-file as one of the fastest way to receive refunds.

The delay in the opening date for individuals was required to allow the IRS adequate time to program and test its tax processing systems.  The annual process for updating IRS systems saw significant delays in October following the 16-day federal government shutdown.

“Our teams have been working hard throughout the fall to prepare for the upcoming tax season,” then IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel said on December 18, 2013.  “The late January opening gives us enough time to get things right with our programming, testing and systems validation.  It’s a complex process, and our bottom-line goal is to provide a smooth filing and refund process for the nation’s taxpayers.”

The April 15 tax deadline is set by statute and will remain in place.  However, the IRS reminds taxpayers that anyone can request an automatic six-month extension to file their tax return.

This blog brought to you by TaxLane, LLC, providing tax preparation and consulting services to individuals and small businesses.

Pittsburgh, Allison Park, Hampton, Shaler, Glenshaw.

IRS CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.

Numbers for use in 2013 Returns

New 1040 Return imageEvery year, the IRS adjusts many of the common tax deductions for inflation.  Among these are the standard deduction for each filing status, the personal exemption allowance, and the maximum allowable Earned Income Credit for qualifying families.  For the tax year 2013, the agency has also added a new tax rate for those who earn $400,000 or more in a single year.

Deduction limits for 2014

The most common deductions and credits used by taxpayers include the personal exemption, the standard deduction, and the Earned Income Credit.  For 2013, the updated amounts for these deductions and credits are as follows:

  • The personal exemption allowance will go up to $3,900 per person.  This is an increase of $100 over the previous tax year.
  • The maximum amount of Earned Income Credit available to families with three qualifying children will be $6,044.  This amount is available to couples who file a joint return and whose income falls within the middle of the income threshold for the credit.
  • The standard deduction for the 2013 tax year will also go up.  Married couples filing a joint return will be eligible for a standard deduction of $12,200, while single filers will be eligible for a standard deduction of $6,100.

2013 Tax Table Rates

Most of the tax rates are unchanged for 2013, but the IRS has added a higher rate for those who earn more than $400,000 each year.  The tax rates are as follows:

  • 10 % – for income of up to $17,850 for married couples filing jointly; $8,925 for single filers; $12,750 for head of household filers
  • 15% – for income of up to $72,500 for married couples filing jointly; $36,250 for single filers; $48,600 for head of household filers
  • 25% – for income of up to $146,400 for married couples filing jointly; $87,850 for single filers; $125,450 for head of household filers
  • 28% – for income of up to $223,050 for married couples filing jointly;  $183,250 for single filers; $203,150 for head of household filers
  • 33% – for income of up to $398,350 for married couples filing jointly; $398,350 for single filers; $398,350 for head of household filers
  • 35% – for income of up to $450,000 for married couples filing jointly; $400,000 for single filers; $425,000 for head of household filers
  • 39.6% – for income of $450,000 and over for married couples filing jointly; $400,000 and over for single filers; $425,000 and over for head of household filers

This blog brought to you by TaxLane, LLC, providing tax preparation and consulting services to individuals and small businesses.

Pittsburgh, Allison Park, Hampton, Shaler, Glenshaw.

IRS CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.

The Sales Tax Deduction

Money percent sales tax

The sales tax deduction is one of the little-known deductions available to individuals.  Because taxpayers must choose between claiming the sales tax deduction or the state income tax deduction, most tend to claim their state taxes.  In some cases, though, claiming the sales tax deduction may result in a lower tax bill.

 What sales taxes can be deducted?

 The IRS allows taxpayers to claim any sales tax they pay in their home state for any reason.  All you need to do is keep records of all your sales tax receipts during the year so that you can provide documentation to the IRS in case of an audit.  This deduction can be particularly beneficial to those who live in states where there is no income tax.

 Claiming the sales tax deduction may even be advisable for those who could claim the state income tax deduction.  Since taxpayers won’t have to include their state income tax refund as taxable income if they don’t deduct the tax paid, using the sales tax deduction instead of the state tax deduction may save mo-ney in the long run.

 Claiming the sales tax deduction

 To calculate the amount of your sales tax deduction, you can either add up your total sales tax paid during the year or you can use the IRS sales tax calculator to approximate the amount of tax you paid based on your purchases.

 Because the sales tax deduction is reported on Schedule A, you’ll have to itemize your deductions in order to use it.  For most taxpayers, it’s only advisable to itemize deductions if your total deductions are higher than the standard deduction for your filing status.  Be sure that you calculate your return using both the standard deduction and your itemized deductions and then choose the method that gives you the highest refund.

This blog brought to you by TaxLane, LLC, providing tax preparation and consulting services to individuals and small businesses.

Pittsburgh, Allison Park, Hampton, Shaler, Glenshaw.

IRS CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.