The Internal Revenue Service begun accepting returns January 24th, 2014.
We have received hundreds of reports that the I.R.S. has been accepting tax returns before January 31st, 2014. It seems that they have started accepting select few income tax returns on January 24th 2014. We contacted the I.R.S. on that day and were told that to help with the case load, they have accepted some returns early. They plan is to accept returns all next week that meet very strict rules. We have adjusted our 2014 IRS E-File Cycle Chart to match with the reports that we have received. Continue reading…
Taxpayers who want to take advantage of the Internal Revenue Service’s free tax preparation e-filing program won’t have to wait. The Free File program opens to taxpayers on Jan. 17, two weeks before the IRS starts processing 2013 tax returns.
The IRS will not start processing any tax returns until Jan. 31. The government shutdown in October 2013 slowed IRS updates of forms and tests of its computer systems, leading officials to push the official opening of this year’s filing season to the end of the month.
But that doesn’t mean taxpayers have to sit around. Free File companies will hold taxpayers’ completed tax returns and then submit them on Jan. 31.
The early opening of Free File is good news for millions of eligible taxpayers. They are among the group of electronic filers, which increases every year, primarily because they can get their refunds more quickly.
And for the 2014 filing season, a few more taxpayers should be able to use the Free File option. The income eligibility limit has been increased to $58,000. That’s $1,000 more than last year.
Free File 2014 basics
You can file your 2013 tax return through Free File if your adjusted gross income is $58,000 or less.
The income cutoff applies regardless of your filing status.
Free File is for individual, not business, tax returns. However, a sole proprietor who files Schedule C with Form 1040 can use Free File.
Some participating Free File vendors also offer free state tax return preparation and e-file.
Some Free File companies offer free electronic extensions. But remember, you still must pay any taxes due by the April 15 deadline or you’ll be charged interest and possibly penalties on any tax you owe.
You do not download anything. All of the software, which is encrypted to protect privacy, remains at the Free File company website you select, and your return is filed from there.
Access Free File by going to IRS.gov and clicking on the Free File icon. Beware of offers by outside websites to take you to the Free File website, as they could be scams operated by identity thieves.
The Free File program is a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, a group of tax preparation software manufacturers. Fourteen companies are expected to participate in the program this filing season.
“All the (2014 filing season tax software companies) have done it before. We have experienced providers within the commercial world and the Free File world,” says Tim Hugo, executive director of the Clifton, Va.-based Free File Alliance.
Free File was created in 2003 as a way to get more people to e-file. Its target is taxpayers who might otherwise not e-file because they don’t want or can’t afford to pay the cost of the computer filing programs or professional tax help.
The key qualification for Free File services is income. This year, taxpayers with adjusted gross income of $58,000 or less, regardless of filing status, can use the online program.
Participating tax software companies can establish other eligibility requirements. Some may limit usage of their programs based on geographic location, military service or other criteria.
To determine which software best fits your filing needs, the Free File website includes an online search tool to help you select one of the participating Free File companies.
Free File contributions to e-filing
In 2013, almost 144 million tax returns were filed electronically, according to IRS data complete through May 2013. That represents a nearly 2% increase in e-filed returns over the previous year. The sector that showed the most growth last year, according to IRS statistics, was tax returns prepared and filed by taxpayers on their own.
Around 3 million of those self-prepared returns e-filed last year came through Free File, says Hugo. That number has held steady for the past few years.
Three million of those returns e-filed last year came through Free File, says Tim Hugo, executive director of the Clifton, Va.-based Free File Alliance.
“We would love to have more,” says Hugo, but he points to the program’s overall contribution to e-filing. Since its inception, says Hugo, Free File has accounted for the submission of more than 40 million federal returns.
“We get people in the door for e-filing, people who’ve never e-filed before,” says Hugo. “They may go to a commercial product later on, but they will continue to e-file. We are very pleased with that.”
Hugo says the program also has evolved to meet taxpayer needs. “We look at Free File as a three-legged stool,” he says. “There is the traditional Free File, fillable forms and VITA providing services to every income.”
Working with VITA
The filing needs of lower-income taxpayers are addressed through Free File’s continuing partnership with the federal Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, popularly known as VITA.
VITA tax-filing clinics are set up each year in public places — from libraries to community centers to shopping malls. Its volunteers provide free filing assistance to low- and moderate-income taxpayers who might not be able to afford tax software or professional filing help. This filing season, the services of IRS-certified VITA volunteers are available to people who make $52,000 or less.
Hugo says Free File is again placing kiosks, similar to self-checkout stations in retail stores, at VITA sites nationwide.
“You can do your return there or partially do your return and, if you need help, ask a VITA volunteer,” says Hugo. “This helps some of those who are most in need of tax help.”
The IRS has an online search tool to help taxpayers locate a nearby VITA site. Taxpayers also can call (800) 906-9887 for VITA locations.
Free fillable forms remain
The IRS says that Free File is available to 70% of taxpayers. But if you are among the 30% making too much money to use the service, you still can file for free using the tax agency’s fillable federal return form option.
Here, online versions of the most commonly used IRS tax forms are available through the Free File page. You fill them out on your computer and then e-file the documents at no charge.
Just don’t mistake the forms for tax software.
The fillable forms offer only basic calculations of what’s entered on the form. And you must figure out what goes on the form without the online prompting found in software.
Also, the information is not automatically transferred to associated forms. That means you must, for example, manually enter your itemized deductions total from Schedule A to the appropriate line on Form 1040.
Still, taxpayers with relatively simple filing needs who don’t want to buy tax software might find fillable forms a welcome alternative.
Note, however, that you’ll have to wait a bit longer to use the free fillable forms option. They won’t be available until Jan. 31, the same day that the IRS opens its filing doors to all taxpayers.
*These are only estimates, the I.R.S. has refused to give exact dates to new audit process. There are no guarantees with the I.R.S this year, but one thing is for sure. The earlier you file, the earlier you will receive a return. Contact us today for more details and to schedule your early tax appointment.
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service delayed the start of the tax-filing season for one to two weeks, citing the recent 16-day federal government shutdown.
The IRS, which had been scheduled to open filing Jan. 21, 2014, will now begin accepting returns for tax year 2013 as early as Jan. 28. The agency will make a final decision on the date in December, according to a statement today.
“Readying our systems to handle the tax season is an intricate, detailed process, and we must take the time to get it right,” Danny Werfel, the acting IRS commissioner, said in the statement.
This is the second year in a row that the IRS has postponed the filing season. Returns for 2012 were accepted starting on Jan. 30 after Congress delayed setting some tax policies.
“Considering the IRS has dealt with much larger changes on far shorter notice over the past years without delay, its reasons are suspect,” Sarah Swinehart, a spokeswoman for the Republican-led House Ways and Means Committee, said in an e-mail.
The IRS furloughed more than 90 percent of its employees during the shutdown, which began Oct. 1 when Congress was unable to pass a spending bill and ended after midnight Oct. 17.
“This is yet another unfortunate effect of a shutdown that Republicans should have never caused,” Representative Sander Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement. “This tax-filing delay just adds insult to injury for Americans hoping to get a jump-start on their tax refunds in January.”
The delay won’t alter the April 15 deadline for taxpayers to file their returns or seek extensions.
At the start of the filing season, the IRS largely issues refunds to taxpayers who file as soon as they can. This year, the IRS issued $135 billion in refunds from Jan. 30 to March 1. That’s more than was paid from March 2 to May 10, when the agency received 50 percent more returns.
Delaying refunds could have an additional consequence in 2014. The U.S. debt limit is suspended through Feb. 7, and changes in the government’s projected spending after that date will affect the timing of how long the Treasury Department’s extraordinary measures to prevent a default will last.
Because the government may issue more refunds after Feb. 7 than previously anticipated, a potential lapse in borrowing authority could come a few days sooner than projected, said Loren Adler, research director at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget in Washington.
The delayed start of tax-filing season probably will create a backlog of potential returns for the start date, rather than delaying all returns equally.
“Those are folks who are trying to do this as soon as their books are in order,” Adler said.
The Bipartisan Policy Center projects that the U.S. will run out of borrowing authority between the end of February and mid-March 2014.
The October 15th Deadline Remains in Effect for Taxpayers Who Requested a Six-month Extension to File Tax Return.
Just because IRS employees are not available to answer phones or issue refunds, due to the current lapse in federal appropriations does not mean filing deadlines and payment due dates can be delayed. IRS warns all taxpayers of the continuing requirement to meet their tax obligations as normal. Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making deposits with the IRS, as required by law.
Many of the more than 12 million individuals who requested an automatic six-month extension earlier this year have yet to file their Form 1040 for 2012. Though Oct. 15 is the last day for most people to file, some groups still have more time, including members of the military and others serving in Afghanistan or other combat zone localities who typically have until at least 180 days after they leave the combat zone to both file returns and pay any taxes due. People with extensions in parts of Colorado affected by severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides also have more time, until Dec. 2, 2013, to file and pay.
The IRS offered several reminders for taxpayers during the current appropriations lapse:
Taxpayers are encouraged to file their returns electronically using IRS e-file or the Free File system to reduce the chance of errors.
Taxpayers can file their tax returns electronically or on paper. Payments accompanying paper and e-filed tax returns will be accepted and processed as the IRS receives them. Tax refunds will not be issued until normal government operations resume.
IRS operations are limited during the appropriations lapse, with live assistors on the phones and at Taxpayer Assistance Centers unavailable. However,www.IRS.gov and most automated toll-free telephone applications remain operational.
Tax software companies, tax practitioners and Free File remain available to assist with taxes during this period.
E-file Now – The IRS urged taxpayers to choose the speed and convenience of electronic filing. IRS e-file is fast, accurate and secure, making it an ideal option for those rushing to meet the Oct. 15 deadline. The tax agency verifies receipt of an e-filed return, and people who file electronically make fewer mistakes too. Of the nearly 141.6 million returns received by the IRS so far this year, 83.5 percent or just over 118.2 million have been e-filed.
Anyone expecting a refund can get it sooner by choosing direct deposit. Taxpayers can choose to have their refunds deposited into as many as three accounts. See Form 8888 for details.
Payment Options – Taxpayers can e-pay what they owe, either online or by phone, through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), by electronic funds withdrawal or with a credit or debit card. There is no IRS fee for any of these services, but for debit and credit card payments only, the private-sector card processors do charge a convenience fee. For those who itemize their deductions, these fees can be claimed on next year’s Schedule A Line 23. Those who choose to pay by check or money order should make the payment out to the “United States Treasury”.
Taxpayers must be sure to file their return by Oct. 15, even if they can’t pay the full amount due. Doing so will avoid the late-filing penalty, normally five percent per month, that would otherwise apply to any unpaid balance after Oct. 15. However, interest, currently at the rate of 3 percent per year compounded daily, and late-payment penalties, normally 0.5 percent per month, will continue to accrue.
Inflation often makes consumers worry. Nobody wants prices to go up – and that tends to be our gut reaction when we hear about inflation. But sometimes, a little inflation can be a good thing (no, I’m not channeling Janet Yellen).
When it comes to taxes, the Tax Code provides for mandatory annual adjustments to certain tax items based on inflation. And, according to CCH, part of Wolters Kluwer and a leading global provider of tax, accounting and audit information, software and services, that’s going to result in savings – albeit modest – for most taxpayers. George Jones, a Senior Federal Tax Analyst at CCH, explains:
Most taxpayers benefit from inflation adjustments since the adjustments tend to preserve the value of most, but not all, of the dollar-based benefits under the Tax Code year after year.
Of those tax items subject to mandatory annual adjustments, federal income tax brackets tend to get the most attention. They have been subject to adjustment for nearly 30 years. However, it certainly didn’t stop there: inflation adjustments are now routinely included in new tax legislation. Which tax items are subject to adjustment – and how much – can be confusing for taxpayers. Luckily, there are tax professionals out there who can sort it all out for you.
Leading the pack, this week, Wolters Kluwer, CCH released estimates for the 2014 tax brackets and other tax items affected by inflation, such as the personal exemption and the standard deduction. Their predictions indicate that most taxpayers will end up with a few more dollars in their pockets.
With respect to the adjusted tax rates, here’s how the savings might shake out: a married couple filing jointly with a total taxable income of $100,000 should pay $145 less income taxes in 2014 than in 2013 and a single filer with taxable income of $50,000 should owe $72.50 less next year.
Estimated 2014 Tax Brackets, Courtesy of Wolters Kluwer, CCH
It gets better. Standard deduction and personal exemption amounts will be slightly higher in 2014, as will income ceilings for tax benefits such as education credits, individual retirement account (IRA) contributions and more.
The standard deduction for single taxpayers, heads of households and married couples filing jointly will all show increases for 2014, by $100, $150 and $200, respectively. The standard deduction for joint filers, for example, would rise from $12,200 to $12,400 in 2014. What this means for taxpayers is lower taxes: increases in the standard deduction decrease taxable income which means lower taxes.
The additional standard deduction for those age 65 or older or who are blind will stay at $1,200 level for 2014 for married individuals and surviving spouses but will increase to $1,550 for single aged 65 or older or blind filers.
2014 Standard Deduction Estimates, courtesy of Wolters Kluwer, CCH
The personal exemption amount gets bumped up by inflation by $50, to $3,950 in 2014 after having increased $100 between 2012 and 2013. The personal exemption phaseout (PEP) still applies: the 2014 phase out range for personal exemptions begins at $305,050 for joint filers and $254,200 for single filers. The same income ranges apply to the phase-out of itemized deductions; those limitations are called Pease limitations, named after former Rep. Don Pease (D-OH).
The PEP and Pease limits were slated to be reduced beginning in 2006 and eliminated in 2010; as with the other tax cuts, the elimination was extended through the end of 2012. The limitations were brought back in 2013 at the original thresholds, indexed for inflation. The result of those changes is basically an increase in the top marginal tax rates.
And it’s not just income tax that will see changes: the federal gift tax annual exclusion – how much a donor can gift to any number of persons in one year without being subject to federal gift tax – will remain at $14,000. In contrast, the estate and gift tax applicable exemption – the amount that you can give away during your lifetime or bequest at your death without being subject to federal estate tax – will rise from $5,250,000 in 2013 to $5,340,000 for 2014. With the new portability provisions, the federal estate-tax exclusion can be shared between a husband and wife, making the total that can pass with no federal estate and gift tax payable effectively $10,680,000 for 2014.
And this year, there’s a new kid in town when it comes to inflation: the alternative minimum tax (AMT). In years past, the AMT was subject to a last minute scramble by Congress to “patch” the exemption. This year, things are different. As part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA), signed into law on January 2, 2013, the AMT will be permanently adjusted for inflation. This was such a big deal that, when I reported it in January, I put it in red. Before this year, Congress hadn’t touched the AMT, other than to patch it, in more than 40 years.
For 2014, Wolters Kluwer, CCH projects that the AMT exemption for married joint filers and surviving spouses will be adjusted upward to $82,100, up from $80,800 in 2013. For unmarried single filers, the 2014 exemption will be $52,800, up from $51,900 in 2013; and for heads of household, the exemption will increase to $52,800, up from $51,900 in 2013.
Not all tax items will be affected. “Rounding conventions” will keep some tax item for 2014 the same as in 2013. This includes the $5,500 limit on IRA contributions. Also staying put? The amount of unearned income a child can take home without paying tax remains at $1,000: after that, kids are subject to the kiddie tax.
Wolters Kluwer, CCH’s projections are based on the data released by the Department of Labor on September 17, 2013, by the U.S. Department of Labor. Most adjustments are based on Consumer Price Index for September through August prior to the adjusted year; some inflation-adjusted figures are computed at other times.
The IRS usually releases official numbers by December each year; sometimes, it’s as late as January. You can see the 2013 numbers here. It’s worth noting that these Wolters Kluwer, CCH tax bracket projections are for illustrative purposes only and should not be used for income tax returns or other federal income tax related purposes until confirmed by the IRS.
A very common question asked is “when is the first day to efile in 2014?” The simple answer is:
January 25 2014 is the first day to efile in 2014 according to the 2014 IRS Refund Cycle Chart for Tax Year 2013. This information is based off prior year’s information and not I.R.S. confirmed. We will be keeping you up to date with the latest in IRS news and Income Tax IRS Refund Cycle Chart dates as they are posted. Technically you can file on January 5th, 2014, but the I.R.S. forms will not be available until the end of January 2014.
2012 tax returns that are due a refund have until April 15, 2016 (October 15, 2016 with an extension) to be filed with the IRS before the statute of limitations on the refund runs out. If you don’t file by then, the U.S. Treasury simply keeps your “donation.”
However, if you owe additional tax, file your returnas soon as you can, even if you can’t pay your tax bill right away.
The penalties for not filing are much higher than the penalties for not paying, and the longer you wait, the worse it gets. See the What are the penalties for filing late? section below.
Can I e-file after the April 15 deadline?
Yes, you can e-file your 2012 tax return through October 15, 2013. After that, the IRS shuts down e-filing to get ready for the following tax year, and you will need to file a conventional paper return.
There is no penalty if you’re getting a refund, provided you file within the allotted 3-year timeframe.
After 3 years, the “penalty” is forfeiture of your tax refund, as mentioned above.
There is no penalty if you filed an extension and paid any additional taxes owed by April 15, as long as you file your return by the October 15 deadline.
A late filing penalty applies if you owe taxes and didn’t file your return or extension by April 15.
This penalty also applies if you owe taxes, filed an extension, but didn’t file your return by October 15.
The late filing penalty is 5% of the additional taxes owed amount for every month (or fraction thereof) your return is late, up to a maximum of 25%.
Tip: The late filing penalty is 10 times higher than the late payment penalty. If you can’t pay your tax bill and didn’t file an extension, at least file your return as soon as possible! You can always amend it later.
A late payment penalty applies if you didn’t pay additional taxes owed by April 15, whether you filed an extension or not.
The late payment penalty is 0.5% (1/2 of 1 percent) of the additional tax owed amount for every month (or fraction thereof) the owed tax remains unpaid, up to a maximum of 25%.
Example: Let’s say you didn’t file your return or extension by April 15, and you still owe the IRS an additional $1,000.
Best-case scenario: You file your return on April 29, 2 weeks late, and submit your payment for $1,000. You would owe an additional $50 for filing late ($1,000 x .05) plus another $5 for late payment ($1,000 x .005) for a total penalty of $55.
(Had you filed your extension by the deadline, your total penalty would only be $5. It pays to file an extension!)
Worst-case scenario: You file your 2012 return in April of 2018, 5 years late, and submit your payment for $1,000. You would owe an additional $250 for filing late ($1,000 x the maximum .25) plus another $250 for late payment ($1,000 x the maximum .25), for a total penalty of $500.
What happens if I do not file, period?
You’ll probably receive a letter from the IRS reminding you to file your tax return, particularly if W-2 or 1099 forms were reported to the IRS by your employers. For additional information, refer to the IRS article What Will Happen If You Don’t File Your Past Due Return or Contact The IRS.
If you are due a refund, you’ll forfeit your refund if you do not file by April 15, 2016 (or October 15 of 2016 if you filed an extension).
You must file returns reporting your self-employment income within three years of the original filing deadline in order to receive Social Security credits toward your retirement. Don’t lose your Social Security benefits by not filing!
Are there any situations which allow me to file late?
you are out of the country on the April filing deadline, you are allowed two extra months (June 17, 2013) to file your return and pay the amount due, without needing to request an extension.
You’re considered out of the country if:
You live outside of the United States or Puerto Rico and your main place of work is outside of the United States or Puerto Rico; or
You are in military or naval service outside of the United States or Puerto Rico.
If you still need more time after the automatic June 17 deadline, you can request four additional months by filing an extension along with paying any taxes you owe.
Other Special Situations
Residents of Suffolk County, Massachusetts have until July 15, 2013 to file their 2012 returns and pay taxes due. More info
Taxpayers living in the Midwest or South who were unable to file their 2012 returns on time because of severe weather around the April 15 deadline may qualify for late filing without penalty. More info
The deadline for filing your 2009 Income Tax Refund is steadily approaching.
The IRS deadline for claiming 2009 Income Tax refund checks is April 15th, 2013. You will need to paper file your return by April 15th to claim your 2009 refund checks. This is for federal income tax refunds only.
“Refunds totaling just over $917 million may be waiting for an estimated 984,400 taxpayers who did not file a federal income tax return for 2009, the Internal Revenue Service announced today. However, to collect the money, a return for 2009 must be filed with the IRS no later than Monday, April 15, 2013.”
“By failing to file a return, people stand to lose more than refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2009. In addition, many low-and-moderate income workers may not have claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For 2009, the credit is worth as much as $5,657. The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds.”