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2016 Tax Season Opens Jan. 19 for Nation’s Taxpayers

Published On: 10th Jan, 2016

The IRS will begin accepting individual electronic returns that day. The IRS expects to receive more than 150 million individual returns in 2016, with more than four out of five being prepared using tax return preparation software and e-filed. The IRS will begin processing paper tax returns at the same time. There is no advantage to people filing tax returns on paper in early January instead of waiting for e-file to begin.

“We look forward to opening the 2016 tax season on time,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “Our employees have been working hard throughout this year to make this happen. We also appreciate the help from the nation’s tax professionals and the software community, who are critical to helping taxpayers during the filing season.”

As part of the Security Summit initiative, the IRS has been working closely with the tax industry and state revenue departments to provide stronger protections against identity theft for taxpayers during the coming filing season.

The filing deadline to submit 2015 tax returns is Monday, April 18, 2016, rather than the traditional April 15 date. Washington, D.C., will celebrate Emancipation Day on that Friday, which pushes the deadline to the following Monday for most of the nation. (Due to Patriots Day, the deadline will be Tuesday, April 19, in Maine and Massachusetts.)

Koskinen noted the new legislation makes permanent many provisions and extends many others for several years. "This provides certainty for planning purposes, which will help taxpayers and the tax community as well as the IRS," he said.

The IRS urges all taxpayers to make sure they have all their year-end statements in hand before filing, including Forms W-2 from employers, Forms 1099 from banks and other payers, and Form 1095-A from the Marketplace for those claiming the premium tax credit.

“We encourage taxpayers to take full advantage of the expanding array of tools and information on IRS.gov to make their tax preparation easier,” Koskinen said.

Although the IRS begins accepting returns on Jan. 19, many tax software companies will begin accepting tax returns earlier in January and submitting them to the IRS when processing systems open.

Choosing e-file and direct deposit for refunds remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund. The IRS anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. Find free options to get tax help, and to prepare and file your return on IRS.gov or in your community if you qualify. Go to IRS.gov and click on the Filing tab to see your options.

  • Seventy percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. Commercial partners of the IRS offer free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $62,000 or less;

  • Online fillable forms provides electronic versions of IRS paper forms to all taxpayers regardless of income that can be prepared and filed by people comfortable with completing their own returns.

  • The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offer free tax help to people who qualify. Go to irs.gov and enter “free tax prep” in the search box to learn more and find a VITA or TCE site near you, or download the IRS2Go app on your smart phone and find a free tax prep provider. 

The IRS also reminds taxpayers that a trusted tax professional can provide helpful information and advice about the ever-changing tax code. Tips for choosing a return preparer and details aboutnational tax professional groups are available on IRS.gov.

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Published On: 10th Jan, 2016

The IRS reminds taxpayers that the quickest way to get a copy of their tax transcript is to order it online using the Get Transcript application on IRS.gov. By planning ahead, they should receive their transcript in the mail within five to 10 days from the time the IRS receives the request online.

The IRS continues to work to bring the viewable/printable functionality of the application back online in the near future with enhanced identity protection security features. In the meantime, taxpayers can still request a mailed transcript by going online to Get Transcript.

Though taxpayers should always keep a copy of their tax return for their records, some may need the information from filed tax returns for many reasons. This includes college financial aid applicants or taxpayers who have applied for a loan to buy a home or start a business.

If a taxpayer is returning to college this January and applying for financial aid, they should check with their financial aid department at school to see if they will need a copy of their transcript before they start classes. Frequently, students get all the tax return information they need on the FAFSA application via the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.  

Similarly, if a taxpayer plans to apply for a loan, they should ask their financial institution if a transcript will be necessary so they can plan ahead and have it at the appropriate time.

The fastest way to get a transcript is through the Get Transcript tool on IRS.gov. Although the IRS temporarily stopped the online viewing and printing of transcripts, Get Transcript still allows taxpayers to order their transcript online and receive it by mail.  Taxpayers simply click the "Get a Transcript by Mail" button to order the paper copy of their transcript and have it sent to their address of record.  Among the options available:

  • To order a transcript online and have it delivered by mail, go to IRS.gov and use the Get Transcript tool.
  • To order by phone, call 800-908-9946 and follow the prompts.
  • To request an individual tax return transcript by mail or fax, complete Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript. Businesses and individuals who need a tax account transcript should use Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.

The IRS will mail the transcript to the address of record entered on the prior year’s tax return. The mailed transcript is an official document. It does not need to be a “certified” copy as is the case with some other documents. If a taxpayer has moved since they last filed a tax return with the IRS, they need to first submit Form 8822, Change of Address, to ensure that the transcript is mailed to the correct address. Allowing time for the Form 8822 is another reason for taxpayers to plan ahead for their transcript needs.  

If a taxpayer is applying for financial aid, they are encouraged to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on the FAFSA website to easily import their tax return information to their financial aid application. The temporary shutdown of the Get Transcript tool does not affect the Data Retrieval Tool. Taxpayers may also click on the FAFSA help page for more information.

If they are applying for a mortgage, most mortgage companies only require a tax return transcript for income verification purposes. Most of these companies participate in our IVES (Income Verification Express Service) program and can request (with the taxpayer’s consent) to have a transcript sent directly to the financial institution. If a taxpayer needs to order a transcript, they should follow the process described above and have it mailed to the address the IRS has on file for them.

Remember, ordering a transcript online is the quickest option. For more information, read the IRSHow Do I Get My Transcript? fact sheet.

Help Boost Your Refund With The Earned Income Tax Credit

Published On: 31st Jan, 2015

Tel 916.845.4800

Media Contact Only

Public Affairs Office
publicaffairsoffice@ftb.ca.gov

For Immediate Release

01.30.2015

Sacramento — Today is Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day. The Franchise Tax Board (FTB), in partnership with the IRS, encourages eligible California taxpayers to claim the federal credit when filing their federal tax returns.

EITC is a financial boost for working people. Local communities also benefit from the added funds received by families. Last year, nearly 3.1 million Californians received more than $7.3 billion in refunds. The average EITC refund was $2,373. The IRS estimates one in five EITC refunds go unclaimed each year.

“These tax dollars, which can total more than $6,000, provide a much needed financial boost for millions of hard-working Californians,” said State Controller and FTB Chair Betty T. Yee.

EITC Awareness Day is a national effort spotlighting this valuable federal tax credit. The EITC is a refundable credit. When the credit exceeds taxes owed, the taxpayer gets a refund. People who earned less than $52,427 from wages, self-employment, or farming in 2014 may qualify for the creditwhich can total as much as $6,143.

Those eligible for the credit who missed it in prior years can still claim it. Past income limits were:

  • 2013 $51,567
  • 2012 $50,270
  • 2011 $49,078

Taxpayers can find more information on credit eligibility at www.irs.gov.

Free tax preparation and EITC eligibility help is available throughout the tax season at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly sites. These two volunteer programs staff more than 1,000 centers statewide. Some offer services in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean. For information on locations throughout California, visitftb.ca.gov and click on the free filing assistance link

Don't Fall Victim to Promises of Outlandish Refunds

Published On: 31st Jan, 2015

IR-2015-12, Jan. 29, 2015

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers to be on the lookout for unscrupulous tax return preparers pushing inflated tax refund claims. This scam remains on the annual list of tax scams known as the “Dirty Dozen” for the 2015 filing season.

"Every filing season, scam artists lure victims in by promising outlandish refunds,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Taxpayers should be wary of anyone who asks them to sign a blank return, promise a big refund before looking at their records, or charge fees based on a percentage of the refund."

Compiled annually, the “Dirty Dozen” lists a variety of common scams that taxpayers may encounter any time but many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their returns or hire someone to help with their taxes.

Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution. IRS Criminal Investigation works closely with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to shutdown scams and prosecute the criminals behind them.

Don't Fall Victim to Promises of Outlandish Refunds                          

Scam artists routinely pose as tax preparers during tax time, luring victims in by promising large federal tax refunds or refunds that people never dreamed they were due in the first place.

Scam artists use flyers, advertisements, phony store fronts and even word of mouth to throw out a wide net for victims. They may even spread the word through community groups or churches where trust is high. Scammers prey on people who do not have a filing requirement, such as low-income individuals or the elderly. They also prey on non-English speakers, who may or may not have a filing requirement.

Scammers build false hope by duping people into making claims for fictitious rebates, benefits or tax credits. They charge good money for very bad advice. Or worse, they file a false return in a person's name and that person never knows that a refund was paid.

Scam artists also victimize people with a filing requirement and due a refund by promising inflated refunds based on fictitious Social Security benefits and false claims for education credits, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), or the American Opportunity Tax Credit, among others.

The IRS sometimes hears about scams from victims complaining about losing their federal benefits, such as Social Security benefits, certain veteran’s benefits or low-income housing benefits. The loss of benefits was the result of false claims being filed with the IRS that provided false income amounts.

While honest tax preparers provide their customers a copy of the tax return they’ve prepared, victims of scam frequently are not given a copy of what was filed. Victims also report that the fraudulent refund is deposited into the scammer’s bank account. The scammers deduct a large “fee” before paying victims, a practice not used by legitimate tax preparers.

The IRS reminds all taxpayers that they are legally responsible for what’s on their returns even if it was prepared by someone else. Taxpayers who buy into such schemes can end up being penalized for filing false claims or receiving fraudulent refunds.

Taxpayers should take care when choosing an individual or firm to prepare their taxes. The IRS has a list of tips and other resources to help taxpayers select a qualified tax professional.