Friday, December 15, 2017

Resources on IRS.gov Help Taxpayers Get Ready to File Taxes

IRS Tax Tip 
With the tax filing season right around the corner, the IRS encourages taxpayers to visit IRS.gov for tax tools and resources. Taxpayers can resolve nearly every tax issue on the IRS website.
IRS.gov provides many self-service tools and features, including these six:

Taxpayers Should Protect Data All Year Round

IRS Tax Tip 
With the online holiday shopping season in full swing, it’s the perfect time for all taxpayers to take steps to protect their identities and personal data. This year, the IRS kicked off this annual event with National Tax Security Awareness Week. The IRS partnered with state tax agencies, the tax industry and other groups across the country to encourage all taxpayers to think about data protection.
While the week is over, information on these five topics remains relevant year-round:

Eight Steps to Keep Online Data Safe

Anyone with an online presence can do a few simple things to protect their identity and personal information. Following these eight steps can also help taxpayers protect their tax return and refund in 2018:
  • Shop at familiar online retailers.
  • Avoid unprotected Wi-Fi.
  • Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails that pose as a trusted source.
  •  Keep a secure machine.
  • Use passwords that are strong, long and unique.
  • Use multi-factor authentication when available.
  • Sign up for account alerts.
  • Encrypt sensitive data and protect it with a password.

Recognize Phishing Email Scams

The IRS reminds people to be on the lookout for new, sophisticated email phishing scams. These scams not only endanger someone’s personal information, but they can also affect a taxpayer’s refund in 2018. Even if an email is from a known source, people should use caution because cybercrooks are very good at mimicking trusted businesses, friends and family.

Five Steps Data Breach Victims Can Take

People who are the victim of a data breach should consider these five steps to help protect their sensitive information that can be used on a tax return:
  • Determine what information the thieves compromised.
  • Consider taking advantage of credit monitoring services offered to victims.
  • Place a freeze on credit accounts to prevent access to credit records.
  • Reset passwords on online accounts.
  • Use multi-factor authentication when available.

Thieves Use W-2 Scam to get Employee Data

The IRS warns the nation’s business, payroll and human resource communities about a growing W-2 email scam. Criminals use this scheme to gain access to W-2 and other sensitive tax information that employers have about their employees. The IRS recommends that all employers educate employees about this scheme, especially those in human resources and payroll departments.

Five Signs of Small Business Identity Theft

Business filers should be alert for signs of identity theft. They should contact the IRS if they experience any of these issues:
  • The IRS rejects an e-filed return saying it already has one with that identification number.
  • The IRS rejects an extension to file request saying it already has a return with that identification number.
  • The filer receives an unexpected tax transcript.
  • The filer receives an IRS notice that doesn’t relate to anything they submitted.
  • The filer doesn’t receive expected or routine mailings from the IRS.

Get to Know the Taxpayer Bill of Rights – Part 2

IRS Tax Tip 2017
This is the final tip in a two-part summary of the rights granted to all taxpayers.
Every taxpayer has rights. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights takes these rights from the tax code and groups them into 10 categories. Taxpayers interacting with the IRS should know their rights, which are highlighted in Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer:
The Right to Finality. Taxpayers have the right to know the maximum amount of time allowed to challenge an IRS position. They also have the right to know 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.
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. During these proceedings, the IRS will respect all due process rights, including search and seizure protections. When applicable, the IRS will provide a collection due process hearing.
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 taxpayers or by law. Taxpayers should expect the IRS to take appropriate action against employees, return preparers and others who wrongfully disclose return information.
The Right to Retain Representation. Taxpayers have the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice for representation during dealings with the IRS. When a taxpayer cannot afford representation, they may seek assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.
The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System. Taxpayers have the right to expect fairness from the tax system. The IRS must consider all facts and circumstances that might affect any liabilities, the ability to pay or the ability to provide information timely. Taxpayers have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service. TAS can help taxpayers who are experiencing financial difficulty. They can also help when the IRS has not resolved tax issues properly and timely through normal channels.
The IRS will include Publication 1 when sending a notice on a range of issues, such as an audit or collection matter. Publication 1 is available in English and Spanish. All IRS facilities will publicly display the rights for taxpayers.

Get to Know the Taxpayer Bill of Rights – Part 1

IRS Tax Tip 2017
This is the first tip in a two-part summary of the rights granted to all taxpayers. 
Every taxpayer has rights. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights takes these rights from the tax code and groups them into 10 categories. Taxpayers interacting with the IRS should know their rights, which are highlighted in Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer. 
The Right to Be Informed. Taxpayers have the right to know how to comply with tax laws. They are entitled to clear explanations of the laws and IRS procedures. Taxpayers have the right to know about IRS decisions affecting their accounts with clear explanations of the outcomes.
The Right to Quality Service. Taxpayers have the right to receive prompt, courteous and professional assistance when dealing with the IRS. They also have the right to speak with a supervisor about inadequate service. Communications from the IRS should be clear and easy to understand.
The Right to Pay No More Than the Correct Amount of Tax. Taxpayers must pay only the amount of tax legally due. This includes interest and penalties. The IRS must apply all tax payments properly.
The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard. Taxpayers have the right to object to formal IRS actions or proposed actions. They can also provide justification with additional documentation. Taxpayers can expect the IRS to consider timely objections and documentation promptly and fairly. Taxpayers can expect a response when the IRS disagrees with the taxpayer’s position.
The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum. Taxpayers are entitled to a fair and impartial appeal of most IRS decisions. This includes appealing certain penalties. Taxpayers have the right to receive a written response regarding a decision from the IRS. Taxpayers generally have the right to take their case to court.
The IRS will include Publication 1 when sending a notice on a range of issues, such as an audit or collection matter. Publication 1 is available in English and Spanish. All IRS facilities publicly display the rights for taxpayers.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Reporting Tip Income - Restaurant Tax Tips

Tips your employees receive from customers are generally subject to withholding. Employees are required to claim all tip income received. This includes tips you paid over to the employee for charge customers and tips the employee received directly from customers.

Employee Requirements

Employees must report tip income on Form 4070, Employee's Report of Tips to Employer (PDF), or on a similar statement. This report is due on the 10th day of the month after the month the tips are received. This statement must be signed by the employee and must show the following:
  • The employee's name, address, and SSN.
  • Your name and address.
  • The month or period the report covers.
  • The total tips received.
No report is required from an employee for months when tips are less than $20.
Both Forms 4070 and 4070-A, Employee's Daily Record of Tips (PDF), are included in Publication 1244, Employee's Daily Record of Tips and Report to Employer (PDF).

Employer Requirements

Employers must collect income tax, employee social security tax and employee Medicare tax on tips reported by employees. You can collect these taxes from an employee's wages or from other funds he or she makes available.

Allocation of Tips

As an employer, you must ensure that the total tip income reported to you during any pay period is, at a minimum, equal to 8% of your total receipts for that period.
In calculating 8% of total receipts, you do not include nonallocable receipts. Nonallocable receipts are defined as receipts for carry out sales and receipts with a service charge added of 10% or more.
When the total reported to you is less than 8%, you must allocate the difference between the actual tip income reported and 8% of gross receipts. There are three methods for allocating tip income:
  • Gross Receipt Method
  • Hours Worked Method
  • Good Faith Agreement
Employers can request a lower rate (but not lower than 2%) for tip allocation purposes by submitting an application to the IRS. Detailed instructions for computing allocation of tips, reporting allocated tips to employees, and for requesting a lower rate can be found in the Instructions for Form 8027 (PDF).
Note: The amount shown as allocated tip income is for information purposes only. You are not required to withhold Income or Social Security taxes on the allocated tip income. The amount of tip income allocated to each employee is shown in box 8 of their Form W-2.

Tip Reporting Requirements for Employers

Employers who operate large food or beverage establishments must file Form 8027, Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips (PDF) to report employee tip income. A large food or beverage establishment is defined as business where all of the following apply:
  • Food or beverage is provided for consumption on the premises
  • Tipping is a customary practice
  • More than 10 employees, who work more than 80 hours, were normally employed on a typical business day during the preceding calendar year.
A worksheet for determining whether a business meets the criteria listed above is included in the Instructions for Form 8027 (PDF).

Keep Your Online Data Safe

During the holiday shopping season, shoppers are looking for the perfect gifts. At the same time, criminals are looking for sensitive data. This data includes credit card numbers, financial accounts and Social Security numbers. Cybercriminals can use this information to file a fraudulent tax return.
This tip is part of National Tax Security Awareness Week. The IRS is partnering with state tax agencies, the tax industry and groups across the country to remind people about the importance of data protection.
Anyone with an online presence can do a few simple things to protect their identity and personal information. Following these eight steps can also help taxpayers protect their tax return and refund in 2018:
  • Shop at familiar online retailers. Generally, sites with an “s” in “https” at the start of the URL are secure. Users can also look for the “lock” icon in your browser’s URL bar. That said, some criminals may get a security certificate, so the “s” may not always mean a site is legitimate.
  • Avoid unprotected Wi-Fi. Users should not do online financial transactions when using unprotected public Wi-Fi. Unprotected public Wi-Fi hotspots may allow thieves to view transactions.
  • Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails that pose as a trusted source. These emails can come from a source that looks like a legitimate bank or even the IRS. These emails may include a link that takes the user to a fake website. From there, the thieves can steal usernames and passwords.
  • Keep a clean machine. This includes computers, phones and tablets. Users should install security software to protect against malware that may steal data. This software also protects against viruses that may damage files.
  • Use passwords that are strong, long and unique. Experts suggest a minimum of 10 characters. Use a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. Use a different password for each account.
  • Use multi-factor authentication when available. Some financial institutions, email providers and social media sites allow users to set their accounts for multi-factor authentication. This means users may need a security code, usually sent as a text to their mobile phone, in addition to a username and password.
  • Sign up for account alerts. Some financial institutions will send email or text alerts to an account holder when there is a withdrawal or change to their accounts. Generally, people can check their account profile to see what added protections may be available.
  • Encrypt sensitive data and protect it with a password. People who keep financial records, tax returns or any personal information on their computer should protect this data. Users should also back up important data to an external source. When disposing of a computer, mobile phone or tablet, people should make sure they wipe the hard drive of all information before trashing.

Lookout for Phishing Email Scams

The IRS reminds people to be on the lookout for new, sophisticated email phishing scams. These scams not only endanger someone’s personal information, but they can also affect a taxpayer’s refund in 2018.
This tip is part of National Tax Security Awareness Week. The IRS is partnering with state tax agencies, the tax industry and groups across the country to remind people about the importance of data protection.
Phishing attacks use email or malicious websites to get personal information from the user. In many cases, the criminal fools someone into believing the phishing email is from someone they trust. The emails often have the look and feel of authentic communications. These targeted messages can trick even the most cautious person into doing something that may compromise data.
People should be vigilant and skeptical. Even if the email is from a known source, people should use caution because cybercrooks are very good at mimicking trusted businesses, friends and family.
Here are six examples of email phishing scams:
  • Emails requesting personal information. The thief might ask for bank account numbers, passwords, credit cards and Social Security numbers. This is the most common way thieves steal data.
     
  • An email urgently warning the recipient to update online financial accounts at a hyperlink provided in the email. The link goes to a fake site.
     
  • A message with an email address spoofing a familiar address to look like trusted businesses, friends and family. The fake address has a slight change in text, such as name@example.com vs narne@example.com. Merely changing the “m” to an “r” and “n” can trick people.
     
  • Emails saying the recipient has a tax refund waiting at the IRS or that the IRS needs information about insurance policies. The IRS doesn't initiate spontaneous contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.
     
  • The message has hyperlinks that take someone to a fake site. In one example, the email says: “Following recent calculations, we notice that you are eligible to receive a tax refund. In order to start the refund procedure, please visit this link and follow the steps required.” The link goes to a fake site. The IRS doesn’t send emails asking for refund verification.
     
  • The message includes a PDF attachment that may download malware or viruses. Never open an attachment from a suspicious email address.

Tips for Data Breach Victim

Every day, data thefts put people’s personal and financial information at risk. There are steps that identity theft victims can take to protect their financial accounts, their identities and their tax returns.
This tip is part of National Tax Security Awareness Week. The IRS is partnering with state tax agencies, the tax industry and groups across the country to remind people about the importance of data protection.
Generally, thieves want to use the stolen data as quickly as possible. That may mean selling the data on the Dark Web for use by other criminals. It may also mean the crook tries to withdraw money from bank accounts or charge credit cards. A thief might also try to file a fraudulent tax return using victims’ names for a refund.
People who are the victim of a data breach should consider these five steps to help protect their sensitive information that can be used on a tax return:
  • If possible, the victim should try to determine what information the thieves compromised. Victims can try to find out if the criminals accessed emails and passwords, or more sensitive data such as name and Social Security number.
  • Breached companies often offer credit monitoring services to victims. Victims should consider taking advantage of these offers.
  • Victims should place a freeze on credit accounts to prevent access to credit records. There may be a fee that varies by state. At a minimum, victims should place a fraud alert on their credit accounts by contacting one of the three major credit bureaus. A fraud alert on credit records is not as secure as a freeze, but a fraud alert is free.
  • Victims should reset passwords on online accounts. It is especially important to reset passwords of financial sites, email and social media accounts. Some experts recommend at least 10-digit passwords mixing letters, numbers and special characters. People should use different passwords for each account, using a password manager or password app if necessary.
  • People should use multi-factor authentication when available. Some financial institutions, email providers and social media sites allow users to set their accounts for multi-factor authentication. This means users may need a security code, usually sent as a text to their mobile phone, in addition to a username and password.

Things you need to know about W-2 Scam

The IRS warns the nation’s business, payroll and human resource communities about a growing W-2 email scam. Criminals use this scheme to gain access to W-2 and other sensitive tax information that employers have about their employees.
This tip is part of National Tax Security Awareness Week. The IRS is partnering with state tax agencies, the tax industry and groups across the country to remind people about the importance of data protection.
This W-2 scam puts workers at risk for tax-related identity theft. The IRS recommends that all employers educate employees about this scheme, especially those in human resources and payroll departments. These employees are usually the first targets. Here are five warning signs about the W-2 scam:
  • The thief poses as a company executive, school official or other leader in the organization.
  • These scam emails often start with a simple greeting. It can be something like, “Hey, you in today?”
  • The crook sends an email to one employee with payroll access. The sender requests a list of all employees and their Forms W-2. The thief may even specify the format in which they want the information.
  • The thieves use many different subject lines. The criminal might use words like “review,” “manual review” or “request.” In some cases, the thief may send a follow up email asking for a wire transfer.
  • Because payroll officials believe they are corresponding with an executive, it may take weeks for someone to realize a data theft occurred. The criminals usually try to use the information quickly, sometimes filing fraudulent tax returns within a day or two.
This scam is such a threat to taxpayers and to tax administration that a special IRS reporting process has been set up. Anyone who thinks they were a victim of this scam can visit Form W-2/SSN Data Theft: Information for Businesses and Payroll Service Providers to find out how to report it.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Tips for Hobby Income and Expenses

IRS Tax Tip Nov 2017
From scrapbooking to glass blowing, many Americans enjoy hobbies that are also a source of income. A taxpayer must report income on their tax return even if it is made from a hobby.
However, the rules for how to report the income and expenses depend on whether the activity is a hobby or a business. There are special rules and limits for deductions taxpayers can claim for hobbies. Here are five things to consider:
  • Determine if the activity is a business or a hobby. If someone has a business, they operate the business to make a profit. In contrast, people engage in a hobby for sport or recreation, not to make a profit. Taxpayers should consider nine factorswhen determining whether their activity is a business or a hobby, and base their determination on all the facts and circumstances of their activity. For more about ‘not-for-profit’ rules, see Publication 535, Business Expenses.
  • Allowable hobby deductions. Taxpayers can usually deduct ordinary and necessary hobby expenses within certain limits:
    • Ordinary expense is common and accepted for the activity.
    • Necessary expense is appropriate for the activity.
  • Limits on hobby expenses. Taxpayers can generally only deduct hobby expenses up to the amount of hobby income. If hobby expenses are more than its income, taxpayers have a loss from the activity. However, a hobby loss can’t be deducted from other income.
  • How to deduct hobby expenses. Taxpayers must itemize deductions on their tax return to deduct hobby expenses. Expenses may fall into three types of deductions, and special rules apply to each type. See Publication 535 for the rules about how to claim them on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions.
  • Use IRS Free File. Hobby rules can be complex, and IRS Free File can make filing a tax return easier.

Monday, November 20, 2017

National Tax Security Awareness Week is Here

The IRS is partnering with state tax agencies, the tax industry and groups across the country to host the second annual National Tax Security Awareness Week. The goal is to encourage all taxpayers to take steps to protect their tax data and identities. 
This week begins Monday, Nov. 27 and coincides with two annual events when criminals are especially active – the online holiday shopping season and the 2018 tax filing season.
With the number of data breaches at record levels, these are issues that pose a threat to individuals and businesses. The IRS will offer simple steps taxpayers can take to protect themselves from cybercriminals. This event is part of the Security Summit, part of ongoing collaborative effort to combat tax-related identity theft.
During National Tax Security Awareness Week, the IRS will focus on key steps people can follow to protect their tax data:
  • Keep personal data safe. Be vigilant with personal information. While taxpayers are shopping for gifts, criminals are shopping for sensitive data including credit cards, financial accounts, and Social Security numbers. Taxpayers should use strong, unique passwords for each online account and avoid routinely carrying a Social Security card. Avoid unsecured Wi-Fi in public locations while holiday shopping.
  • Avoid phishing emails by data thieves. Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening phone calls, and texts from thieves. People should never click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious email addresses. Remember that the IRS doesn't initiate spontaneous contact with taxpayers by email or phone to request personal or financial information.
  • Take steps to protect data after a breach. There are specific things that data theft victims can do after a criminal steals their information. This includes using credit monitoring services, putting a freeze on accounts and resetting passwords.
  • Avoid the W-2 scam. Employers can take steps to protect their employees’ data from the growing W-2 email scam. Employers and payroll offices should educate employees about how to recognize an email from a thief who wants to gain access to sensitive employee data so they do not respond to these scam emails.
  • Beware of scams against employers. Just like individuals, businesses may have their identities stolen. Small businesses and large businesses alike should protect their employer identification numbers. For 2018, the IRS is also asking that employers provide additional information to help verify the legitimacy of their tax return. Such information includes filing history, payment history and parent company information. In the case of a sole proprietorship, the IRS might ask for a driver’s license number.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Tax for Sharing Economy

IRS Tax Tip Nov. 2017
In 2017, many taxpayers use their phones and computers to provide services and sell goods. This includes the use of sites and apps to rent a home to travelers, sell crafts, or to provide car rides. Taxpayers who do this may be involved in the sharing economy. Participating in the sharing economy may affect a person’s taxes. These taxpayers can visit the Sharing Economy Tax Center on the IRS website to find resources that can help them meet their tax obligations.
Here are six things taxpayers should know about how the sharing economy might affect their taxes:
Taxes. Sharing economy activity is generally taxable. This includes:
  • Part-time work.
  • A side business.
  • Cash payments received.
  • Income stated on a Form 1099 or Form W-2. 
Deductions. Some taxpayers can deduct their business expenses. For example, a taxpayer who uses a car for business use often qualifies to claim the standard mileage rate.

Rentals. Special rules apply to a taxpayer who rents out a home or apartment, but who also lives in it during the year. Publication 527, Residential Rental Property (Including Rental of Vacation Homes), has more information about these rules. Taxpayers can also use the Interactive Tax Assistant Tool. This tool is titled Is My Residential Rental Income Taxable and/or Are My Expenses Deductible? It walks taxpayers through a series of questions to determine if their rental income is taxable.

Estimated Payments. Taxpayers can pay as they go, so they don’t owe. One way that taxpayers can cover the tax they owe is to make estimated tax payments during the year. These payments can help cover their tax obligation. Taxpayers use Form 1040-ESto figure these payments.

Payment Options. The fastest and easiest way to make estimated tax payments is through IRS Direct Pay. Taxpayers can also use the Treasury Department’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.

Withholding. Taxpayers involved in the sharing economy as an employee might want to review their withholding from that job and any other jobs they might have. They can often avoid making estimated tax payments by having more tax withheld from their regular paychecks. These taxpayers can file Form W-4 with their employer to request additional withholding. They can also use the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov. This tool helps determine if they are having too much or too little tax withheld from their income.

IRS YouTube Videos:

IRS Withholding Calculator: English
Estimated Tax Payments: English | Spanish | ASL

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Five Tips about Estimated Taxes and Withholding

IRS Tax Tip 2017

With 10 million taxpayers a year facing estimated tax penalties, the IRS offers some simple tips to help prevent a surprise at tax time.
People pay taxes on income through withholding on their paycheck or through estimated tax payments. Taxpayers who pay enough tax throughout the year can avoid a large tax bill and penalties when they file their return.
Taxpayers should make estimated tax payments if:
  • The tax withheld from their income does not cover their tax for the year.
  • They have income without withholdings. Some examples are interest, dividends, alimony, self-employment income, capital gains, prizes or awards.
Here are five actions taxpayers can take to avoid a large bill and estimated tax penalties when they file their return. They can:
  • Use Form 1040-ES. Individuals, sole proprietors, partners and S corporation shareholders can use  this form to figure estimated tax. This form helps someone calculate their expected income, taxes, deductions and credits for the year. They can then figure their estimated tax payments. 
     
  • Use the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov. This tool helps users figure how much money their employer should withhold from their pay so they don’t have too much or too little tax withheld. The results from the calculator can also help them fill out their Form W-4. Taxpayers whose income isn’t paid evenly throughout the year, can check Publication 505 instead of the calculator.
     
  • Have more tax withheld. Taxpayers with a regular paycheck can have more tax withheld from it. To do this, they must fill out a new Form W-4 and give it to their employer. This is a good option for taxpayers who participate in a sharing economyactivity as a side job or part-time business.
     
  • Use estimated payments to pay other taxes. Self-employed individuals can make estimated tax payments to pay both income tax and self-employment tax. Self-employment tax includes Social Security and Medicare.
     
  • Use Form W-4P. Generally, pension and annuity plans withhold tax from retirees’ payments. Recipients of these payments can adjust their withholding using Form W-4P and give it to their payer.

More Information:

Saturday, September 23, 2017

How Offer in Compromise Works

IRS Special Edition Tax Tip    
Taxpayers who have a tax debt they cannot pay may have heard that they can settle their tax debt for less than the full amount owed. It’s called an Offer in Compromise.
Before applying for an Offer in Compromise, here are some things to know:
  • In general, the IRS cannot accept a settlement offer if the taxpayer can afford to pay what they owe. Taxpayers should first explore other payment options. A payment plan is one possibility. Visit IRS.gov for information on Payment Plans – Installment Agreements.
     
  • A taxpayer must file all required tax returns first before the IRS can consider a settlement offer. When applying for a settlement offer, taxpayers may need to make an initial payment. The IRS will apply submitted payments to reduce taxes owed.
     
  • The IRS has an Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool on IRS.gov. Taxpayers can find out if they meet the basic qualifying requirements. The tool also provides an estimate of an acceptable offer amount. The IRS makes a final decision on whether to accept the offer based on the submitted application.
     
  • Taxpayers wishing to file for an Offer in Compromise should visit IRS website’s Offer in Compromise page for more information. There taxpayers can find step-by-step instructions as well as the required forms. Taxpayers can download forms anytime at /forms or call 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) and ask for Form 656-B, Offer in Compromise booklet.

Do you Know Members of the Armed Forces Get Special Tax Benefits?

IRS Summertime Tax Tip 
Members of the military may qualify for tax breaks and benefits. Special rules could lower the tax they owe or give them more time to file and pay taxes. In addition, some types of military pay are tax-free.
Here are some tips to find out who qualifies:
  1. Combat Pay Exclusion.  If someone serves in a combat zone, or provides direct support, part or even all of their combat pay is tax-free. However, there are limits for commissioned officers. See Earned Income Tax Credit below for important information.
  2. Deadline Extensions.  Some members of the military, such as those who serve in a combat zone, can postpone most tax deadlines. Those who qualify can get automatic extensions of time to file and pay their taxes.
  3. Special Deductions: 
    • Reservists’ Travel.  Reservists whose duties take them more than 100 miles away from home can deduct their unreimbursed travel expenses on Form 2106, even if they do not itemize their deductions.
    • Moving Expenses.  Taxpayers who serve may be able to deduct some of their unreimbursed moving  costs on Form 3903. This normally applies if the move is due to a permanent change of station.
    • Uniform.  Members of the military can deduct the cost and upkeep of their uniform, but only if rules say they cannot wear it off duty. Also, they must reduce their deduction by any uniform allowance they get for those costs.
  4. Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC.  If those serving get nontaxable combat pay, they may choose to include it in their taxable income to increase the amount of EITC. That means they could owe less tax and get a larger refund. For tax year 2016, the maximum credit for taxpayers is $6,269. It is best to figure the credit both ways to find out which works best.
  5. Signing Joint Returns.  Both spouses normally must sign a joint income tax return. If military service prevents that, one spouse may be able to sign for the other or get a power of attorney.
  6. ROTC Allowances.  Some amounts paid to ROTC students in advanced training are not taxable. This applies to allowances for education and subsistence. Active duty ROTC pay is taxable. For instance, pay for summer advanced camp is taxable.
  7. Separation and Transition to Civilian Life.  If service members leave the military and look for work, they may be able to deduct some job search expenses, including travel, resume and job placement fees. Moving expenses may also qualify for a tax deduction.
  8. Tax Help.  Most military bases offer free tax preparation and filing assistance during the tax filing season. Some also offer free tax help after the April deadline. Check with the installation’s tax office (if available) or legal office for more information.
For more, refer to IRS.gov/Military or Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide, on IRS.gov.

Tips about Miscellaneous Deductions

IRS Summertime Tax Tip 
Miscellaneous deductions are tax breaks that generally don’t fit into a particular tax category.  They can help reduce taxable income and the amount of taxes owed.  For example, some employees can deduct certain work expenses like uniforms as miscellaneous deductions.  To do that, they must itemize their deductions instead of taking the standard deduction on their tax return.    
Here are several tips from the IRS about miscellaneous deductions:
  • The Two Percent Limit. Most miscellaneous costs are deductible only if the sum exceeds 2% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI). For example, before being able to deduct certain expenses, a taxpayer with $50,000 in AGI must come up with more than $1,000 in miscellaneous deductions. Expenses may include:
    • Unreimbursed employee expenses.
    • Job search costs for a new job in the same line of work.
    • Job tools.
    • Union dues.
    • Work-related travel and transportation.
    • The cost paid to prepare a tax return. These fees include the cost paid for tax preparation software. They also include any fee paid for e-filing a return.
  • Deductions Not Subject to the Limit. Some deductions are not subject to the 2% limit. They include:
    • Certain casualty and theft losses. In most cases, this rule is for damaged or stolen property held for investment. This may include property such as stocks, bonds and works of art.
    • Gambling losses up to the total of gambling winnings.
    • Losses from Ponzi-type investment schemes.
Taxpayers can’t deduct some expenses. For example, personal living or family expenses are not deductible. To claim allowable miscellaneous deductions, taxpayers must use Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. For more about this topic, see Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions. Get them on IRS.gov/forms at any time.

Tips to Protect Taxpayers from Identity Theft

IRS Summertime Tax Tip 
Identity theft happens when someone steals personal information for financial gain. Tax-related identity theft happens when someone uses another person’s stolen Social Security number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN) to file a tax return to obtain a fraudulent refund.
Many people first find out they are victims of identity theft when they submit their tax returns. That’s because the IRS lets them know someone else already used their SSN to file.
The IRS continues to work hard to stop identity theft with a strategy of prevention, detection and victim assistance. So far, the agency has stopped millions of dollars from getting into the hands of thieves.
Check out these eight tips on how to protect against identity theft:
  1. Taxes. Security. Together. The IRS, the states and the tax industry need everyone’s help. The IRS launched The Taxes. Security. Together. awareness campaign in 2015 to inform people about ways to protect their personal, tax and financial data. Learn more at www.IRS.gov/TaxesSecurityTogether.
  2. Protect Personal and Financial Records. Taxpayers should not carry their Social Security card in their wallet or purse. They should only provide their Social Security number if it’s necessary. Protect personal information at home and protect personal computers with anti-spam and anti-virus software. Routinely change passwords for online accounts.
  3. Don’t Fall for Scams.  Criminals often try to impersonate banks, credit card companies and even the IRS hoping to steal personal data. Learn to recognize and avoid those fake communications. Also, the IRS will not call a taxpayer threatening a lawsuit, arrest or to demand immediate payment. Beware of threatening phone calls from someone claiming to be from the IRS.
  4. Report Tax-Related ID Theft. Here’s what taxpayers should do if they cannot e-file their return because someone already filed using their SSN:
    • File a tax return by paper and pay any taxes owed.
    • File an IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. Print the form and mail or fax it according to the instructions. Include it with the paper tax return and/or attach a police report describing the theft if available.
    • File a report with the Federal Trade Commission using the FTC Complaint Assistant.
    • Contact Social Security Administration at www.ssa.gov and type in “identity theft” in the search box.
    • Contact financial institutions to report the alleged identity theft.   
    • Contact one of the three credit bureaus so they can place a fraud alert or credit freeze on the affected account.
    • Check with the applicable state tax agency to see if there are additional steps to take at the state level.
  1. IRS Letters. If the IRS identifies a suspicious tax return with a taxpayer’s stolen SSN, that taxpayer may receive a letter asking them verify their identity by calling a special number or visiting an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center.
  2. IP PIN. If a taxpayer is a confirmed ID theft victim, the IRS may issue them an IP PIN. The IP PIN is a unique six-digit number that the taxpayer uses to e-file their tax return. Each year, they will receive an IRS letter with a new IP PIN.
  3. Report Suspicious Activity. If taxpayers suspect or know of an individual or business that is committing tax fraud, they can visit IRS.gov and follow the chart on How to Report Suspected Tax Fraud Activity.
  4. Service Options. Information about tax-related identity theft is available online. The IRS has a special section on IRS.gov devoted to identity theft and information for victims to obtain assistance.
For more on this Topic, see the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft.