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Archive for August, 2010

Six Facts about the American Opportunity Tax Credit

August 31st, 2010

There is still time left to take advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, a credit that will help many parents and college students offset the cost of college. This tax credit is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and is available through December 31, 2010. It can be claimed by eligible taxpayers for college expenses paid in 2009 and 2010.

Here are six important facts the IRS wants you to know about the American Opportunity Tax Credit:

  1. This credit, which expands and renames the existing Hope Credit, can be claimed for qualified tuition and related expenses that you pay for higher education in 2009 and 2010. Qualified tuition and related expenses include tuition, related fees, books and other required course materials.
  2. The credit is equal to 100 percent of the first $2,000 spent per student each year and 25 percent of the next $2,000. Therefore, the full $2,500 credit may be available to a taxpayer who pays $4,000 or more in qualifying expenses for an eligible student.
  3. The full credit is generally available to eligible taxpayers who make less than $80,000 or $160,000 for married couples filing a joint return. The credit is gradually reduced, however, for taxpayers with incomes above these levels.
  4. Forty percent of the credit is refundable, so even those who owe no tax can get up to $1,000 of the credit for each eligible student as cash back.
  5. The credit can be claimed for qualified expenses paid for any of the first four years of post-secondary education.
  6. You cannot claim the tuition and fees tax deduction in the same year that you claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit. You must choose to either take the credit or the deduction and should consider which is more beneficial for you.

IRS Seeks New Issues for the Industry Issue Resolution Program

August 30th, 2010

The Internal Revenue Service is encouraging business taxpayers, associations and other interested parties to submit to the Industry Issue Resolution (IIR) program tax issues for resolution involving a controversy, a dispute or an unnecessary burden on business taxpayers.

The objective of the IIR program is to resolve business tax issues common to significant numbers of taxpayers through new and improved guidance. In past years, issues have been submitted by associations and others representing both small and large business taxpayers, resulting in tax guidance that helps thousands of taxpayers.

Recent submissions accepted into the IIR program include:

  • Network assets in the telecommunications industry (unit of property)
  • Asset class determination under Revenue Procedure 87-56 for wireless telecommunication assets
  • Vendor mark down allowances in calculation of inventory under the retail inventory method
  • Network assets in the utilities industry (unit of property)

Guidance issued as a result of the IIR program includes:

  • Technical terminations of publicly traded partnerships – procedures for requesting relief, delegation of authority for granting relief, and a sample closing agreement documenting the conditions under which relief is granted. (Industry Director Communication LMSB-04-0210-006)
  • Auto Last In First Out – for automobile wholesalers, manufacturers and dealers regarding the proper treatment of the dollar-value, LIFO inventory method for pooling purposes of crossover vehicles, which have characteristics of trucks and cars. (Revenue Procedure 2008-33)

For each issue selected, an IIR team of IRS and Treasury personnel gather relevant facts from taxpayers or other interested parties affected by the issue.  The goal is to recommend guidance to resolve the issue.  This benefits both taxpayers and the IRS by saving time and expense that would otherwise be expended on resolving the issue through audits.

IIR project selections are based on the criteria set forth in Revenue Procedure 2003-36. For each issue selected, a multi-functional team of IRS, Chief Counsel, and Treasury personnel will be assembled. The teams will gather and analyze the relevant facts from industry groups and taxpayers for each issue and recommend guidance.

Requests for guidance on tax issues under the IIR program can be submitted at any time to IIR@irs.gov.  Submissions received are reviewed semi-annually with selections next being made from issues submitted by September 30, 2010.

Eight Things to Know If You Receive an IRS Notice

August 25th, 2010

Did you receive a notice from the IRS this year? Every year the IRS sends millions of letters and notices to taxpayers but that doesn’t mean you need to worry. Here are eight things every taxpayer should know about IRS notices – just in case one shows up in your mailbox.

  1. Don’t panic. Many of these letters can be dealt with simply and painlessly.
  2. There are number of reasons the IRS sends notices to taxpayers. The notice may request payment of taxes, notify you of a change to your account or request additional information. The notice you receive normally covers a very specific issue about your account or tax return.
  3. Each letter and notice offers specific instructions on what you need to do to satisfy the inquiry.
  4. If you receive a correction notice, you should review the correspondence and compare it with the information on your return.
  5. If you agree with the correction to your account, usually no reply is necessary unless a payment is due.
  6. If you do not agree with the correction the IRS made, it is important that you respond as requested. Write to explain why you disagree. Include any documents and information you wish the IRS to consider, along with the bottom tear-off portion of the notice. Mail the information to the IRS address shown in the upper left-hand corner of the notice. Allow at least 30 days for a response.
  7. Most correspondence can be handled without calling or visiting an IRS office. However, if you have questions, call the telephone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Have a copy of your tax return and the correspondence available when you call, to help us respond to your inquiry.
  8. It’s important that you keep copies of any correspondence with your records.

What You Need to Know About the 2010 IRS Nationwide Tax Forums

August 10th, 2010

The 2010 IRS Nationwide Tax Forums are three-day events that provide tax professionals with the most up-to-date information on federal and state tax issues presented by IRS experts and partner organizations.

Here are nine things enrolled agents, certified public accountants, certified financial planners and other tax professionals need to know about the 2010 IRS Nationwide Tax Forums.

  1. Forums are held June through August in Atlanta, Chicago, Orlando, New York, Las Vegas and San Diego.
  2. Those who sign up early can qualify for discounted enrollment costs. Pre-registration ends two weeks prior to the start of each forum. The pre-registration dates for the August forums are quickly approaching. To qualify for discounted enrollment costs you must pre-register for the Las Vegas forum by August 10 and the San Diego forum by August 17.  
    Location Forum Pre-Registration Deadline
     Las Vegas August 24-26 August 10
    San Diego August 31-September 2 August 17
  3. Forums offer an opportunity to receive up to 18 continuing education credits through a variety of training seminars and workshops.
  4. Forums will offer 43 separate seminars and workshops on valuable and relevant tax topics.
  5. Forums will also feature a two-day expo with representatives from the IRS as well as other tax, financial, and business communities offering their products, services, and expertise.
  6. Attendees can sign up to become an Authorized IRS e-file Provider.
  7. Tax professionals attending a forum can bring their toughest unresolved case to meet with IRS personnel who may be able to help.
  8. Registering for a tax forum is easy!  Register by internet, fax or mail.
  9. For more information or to register visit www.irstaxforum.com.

Nine Tips for Taxpayers Who Owe Money to the IRS

August 9th, 2010

Did you end up owing taxes this year? The vast majority of Americans get a tax refund from the IRS each spring, but those who receive a bill may not know that the IRS has a number of ways for people to pay. Here are nine tips for taxpayers who owe money to the IRS.

  1. If you get a bill this summer for late taxes, you are expected to promptly pay the tax owed including any penalties and interest. If you are unable to pay the amount due, it is often in your best interest to get a loan to pay the bill in full rather than to make installment payments to the IRS.
  2. You can also pay the bill with your credit card. The interest rate on a credit card or bank loan may be lower than the combination of interest and penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Code. To pay by credit card contact one of the following processing companies: Official Payments Corporation at 888-UPAY-TAX (also www.officialpayments.com/fed) or Link2Gov at 888-PAY-1040 (also www.pay1040.com) or RBS WorldPay, Inc at 888-9PAY-TAX (also www.payUSAtax.com).
  3. You can pay the balance owed by electronic funds transfer, check, money order, cashier’s check or cash. To pay using electronic funds transfer you can take advantage of the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System by calling 800-555-4477 or online at www.eftps.gov.
  4. An installment agreement may be requested if you cannot pay the liability in full. This is an agreement between you and the IRS to pay the amount due in monthly installment payments. You must first file all returns that are required and be current with estimated tax payments.
  5. If you owe $25,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest, you can request an installment agreement using the Online Payment Agreement application at IRS.gov.
  6. You can also complete and mail an IRS Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, along with your bill in the envelope that you have received from the IRS.  The IRS will inform you usually within 30 days whether your request is approved, denied, or if additional information is needed. If the amount you owe is $25,000 or less, provide the highest monthly amount you can pay with your request.
  7. You may still qualify for an installment agreement if you owe more than $25,000, but a Form 433F, Collection Information Statement, is required to be completed before an installment agreement can be considered. If your balance is over $25,000, consider your financial situation and propose the highest amount possible, as that is how the IRS will arrive at your payment amount based upon your financial information.
  8. If an agreement is approved, a one-time user fee will be charged.  The user fee for a new agreement is $105 or $52 for agreements where payments are deducted directly from your bank account.  For eligible individuals with incomes at or below certain levels, a reduced fee of $43 will be charged.
  9. Taxpayers who have a balance due, may want to consider changing their W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, with their employer. There is a withholding calculator available on IRS.gov to help taxpayers determine the amount that should be withheld.