Thursday, February 26, 2015

New Tax - Net Investment Income Tax


How to Determine if the Net Investment Income Tax Applies to You
If you have income from investments, you may be subject to the Net Investment Income Tax that was passed to help fund ObamaCare. You may owe this tax if you receive investment income and your income for the year is more than certain limits. Here are some key tips you should know about this tax:

• Net Investment Income Tax.  The law requires a tax of 3.8 percent on the lesser of either your net investment income or the amount by which your modified adjusted gross income exceeds a threshold amount based on your filing status.

• Income threshold amounts.  You may owe this tax if your modified adjusted gross income is more than the following amount for your filing status:

Filing Status
Threshold Amount
Single or Head of household
$200,000
Married filing jointly            
$250,000
Married filing separately    
$125,000
Qualifying widow(er) with a child
$250,000

• Net investment income.  This amount generally includes income such as:

  • Interest,
  • Dividends,
  • Capital gains,
  • Rental and royalty income, and
  • Non-qualified annuities.






This list is not all-inclusive. Net investment income normally does not include wages and most self-employment income. It does not include unemployment compensation, Social Security benefits or alimony. It also does not include any gain from the sale of your main home that you exclude from your income.

Refer to Form 8960, Net Investment Income Tax, to see if this tax applies to you. You can check the form’s instructions for the details on how to figure the tax.

• How to report.  If you owe the tax, you must file Form 8960 with your federal tax return. If you had too little tax withheld or did not pay enough estimated taxes, you may have to pay an estimated tax penalty.

For more on this topic, visit IRS.gov/aca.

Additional IRS Resources:



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Taxation of Social Security Benefits


Social Security Benefits and Your Taxes

If you receive Social Security benefits, you may have to pay federal income tax on part of your benefits. These IRS tips will help you determine whether or not you need to pay taxes on your benefits. They also explain the best way to file your tax return.

• Form SSA-1099.  If you received Social Security in 2014, you should receive a Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, showing the amount of your benefits.

• Only Social Security.  If Social Security was your only income in 2014, your benefits may not be taxable. You also may not need to file a federal income tax return. If you get income from other sources you may have to pay taxes on some of your benefits.

• Free File.  Use IRS Free File to prepare and e-file your tax return for free. If you earned $60,000 or less, you can use brand-name software. The software does the math for you and helps avoid mistakes. If you made more than $60,000, you can use Free File Fillable Forms. This option uses electronic versions of IRS paper forms. It is best for people who are used to doing their own taxes. Free File is available only on IRS.gov/freefile.

• Interactive Tax Assistant.  The IRS has a helpful tool that you can use to see if any of your benefits are taxable. Visit IRS.gov and use the Interactive Tax Assistant.

• Tax Formula.  Here’s a quick way to find out if you must pay taxes on your Social Security benefits: Add one-half of your Social Security to all your other income, including tax-exempt interest. Then compare the total to the base amount for your filing status. If your total is more than the base amount, some of your benefits may be taxable.

• Base Amounts.  The three base amounts are:
o $25,000 – if you are single, head of household, qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child or married filing separately and lived apart from your spouse for all of 2014
o $32,000 – if you are married filing jointly
o $0 – if you are married filing separately and lived with your spouse at any time during the year

For more information on this topic visit IRS.gov.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

What Income is Not Taxes?


Taxable or Not?

All income is taxable unless the law excludes it. Here are some basic rules you should know to help you file an accurate tax return:
  • Taxed income.  Taxable income includes money you earn, like wages and tips. It also includes bartering, an exchange of property or services. The fair market value of property or services received is taxable.
Some types of income are not taxable except under certain conditions, including:
  • Life insurance.  Proceeds paid to you because of the death of the insured person are usually not taxable. However, if you redeem a life insurance policy for cash, any amount that you get that is more than the cost of the policy is taxable.
  • Qualified scholarship.  In most cases, income from this type of scholarship is not taxable. This means that amounts you use for certain costs, such as tuition and required books, are not taxable. On the other hand, amounts you use for room and board are taxable.
  • State income tax refund.  If you got a state or local income tax refund, the amount may be taxable. You should have received a 2014 Form 1099-G from the agency that made the payment to you. If you didn’t get it by mail, the agency may have provided the form electronically. Contact them to find out how to get the form. Report any taxable refund you got even if you did not receive Form 1099-G.
Here are some types of income that are usually not taxable:
  • Gifts and inheritances
  • Child support payments
  • Welfare benefits
  • Damage awards for physical injury or sickness
  • Cash rebates from a dealer or manufacturer for an item you buy
  • Reimbursements for qualified adoption expenses
For more on this topic see Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income. You can get it on IRS.gov/forms anytime.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

What You Should Know if You Changed Your Name


What You Should Know if You Changed Your Name

Did you change your name last year? If you did, it can affect your taxes. All the names on your tax return must match Social Security Administration records. A name mismatch can delay your refund. Here’s what you should know if you changed your name:

• Report Name Changes.  Did you get married and are now using your new spouse’s last name or hyphenated your last name? Did you divorce and go back to using your former last name? In either case, you should notify the SSA of your name change. That way, your new name on your IRS records will match up with your SSA records.

• Dependent Name Change.  Notify the SSA if your dependent had a name change. For example, this could apply if you adopted a child and the child’s last name changed.        

If you adopted a child who does not have a SSN, you may use an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number on your tax return. An ATIN is a temporary number. You can apply for an ATIN by filing Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions, with the IRS. You can visit IRS.gov to view, download, print or order the form at any time.

• Get a New Card.  File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card, to notify SSA of your name change. You can get the form on SSA.gov or call 800-772-1213 to order it. Your new card will show your new name with the same SSN you had before.

• Report Changes in Circumstances in 2015.  If you purchase health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace you may get advance payments of the premium tax credit in 2015. If you do, be sure to report changes in circumstances, such as a name change, a new address and a change in your income or family size to your Marketplace throughout the year. Reporting changes will help make sure that you get the proper type and amount of financial assistance and will help you avoid getting too much or too little in advance.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Capital Gains Facts



Ten Facts That You Should Know about Capital Gains and Losses

When you sell a capital asset the sale results in a capital gain or loss. A capital asset includes most property you own for personal use or own as an investment. Here are 10 facts that you should know about capital gains and losses:

1. Capital Assets.  Capital assets include property such as your home or car, as well as investment property, such as stocks and bonds.

2. Gains and Losses.  A capital gain or loss is the difference between your basis and the amount you get when you sell an asset. Your basis is usually what you paid for the asset.

3. Net Investment Income Tax.  You must include all capital gains in your income and you may be subject to the Net Investment Income Tax. This tax applies to certain net investment income of individuals, estates and trusts that have income above statutory threshold amounts. The rate of this tax is 3.8 percent. For details visit IRS.gov.

4. Deductible Losses.  You can deduct capital losses on the sale of investment property. You cannot deduct losses on the sale of property that you hold for personal use.

5. Long and Short Term.  Capital gains and losses are either long-term or short-term, depending on how long you held the property. If you held the property for more than one year, your gain or loss is long-term. If you held it one year or less, the gain or loss is short-term.

6. Net Capital Gain.  If your long-term gains are more than your long-term losses, the difference between the two is a net long-term capital gain. If your net long-term capital gain is more than your net short-term capital loss, you have a net capital gain. 

7. Tax Rate.  The capital gains tax rate usually depends on your income. The maximum net capital gain tax rate is 20 percent. However, for most taxpayers a zero or 15 percent rate will apply. A 25 or 28 percent tax rate can also apply to certain types of net capital gains.  

8. Limit on Losses.  If your capital losses are more than your capital gains, you can deduct the difference as a loss on your tax return. This loss is limited to $3,000 per year, or $1,500 if you are married and file a separate return.

9. Carryover Losses.  If your total net capital loss is more than the limit you can deduct, you can carry over the losses you are not able to deduct to next year’s tax return. You will treat those losses as if they happened in that next year.

10. Forms to File.  You often will need to file Form 8949, Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets, with your federal tax return to report your gains and losses. You also need to file Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses with your tax return.

For more information about this topic, see the Schedule D instructions and Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses. You can visit IRS.gov to view, download or print any tax product you need right away.



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How to Get a Copy of Your Prior Year Tax Information



How to Get a Copy of Your Prior Year Tax Information

There are many reasons you may need a copy of your tax return information from a prior year. You may need it when applying for a student loan, home mortgage or for a VISA. If you don’t have your copy, the IRS can help. It’s easy to get a free transcript from the IRS. Here are several ways for you to get what you need:
  • Tax Return Transcript.  A return transcript shows most line items from your tax return just as you filed it. It also includes forms and schedules you filed. However, it does not reflect changes made to the return after you filed it. In most cases, your tax return transcript will have all the information a lender or other agency needs.
  • Tax Account Transcript.  This transcript shows any adjustments made by you or the IRS after you filed your return. It shows basic data, like marital status, type of return, adjusted gross income and taxable income.
  • How to Get a Transcript.  You can request transcripts online, by phone or by mail. Both types of transcripts are free of charge. They are available for the most current tax year after the IRS has processed the return. You can also get them for the past three tax years.

    Order online.  Use the ‘Get Transcript’ tool available on IRS.gov. You can use this tool to confirm your identity and to immediately view and print copies of your transcript in a single session for free. The tool is available for five types of tax records: tax account transcript, tax return transcript, record of account, wage and income and verification of non-filing.

    Order by phone.  Call 800-908-9946. A recorded message will guide you through the process.

    Order by mail.  The easy way to order your transcript by mail is to use the “Get Transcript by Mail” online option on IRS.gov. On the other hand, you can complete and mail Form 4506T-EZ to get your tax return transcript. Use Form 4506-T to request your tax account transcript by mail.
  • How to Get a Tax Return Copy.  Actual copies of your tax returns are generally available for the current tax year and as far back as six years. The fee per copy is $50. Complete and mailForm 4506 to request a copy of your tax return. Mail your request to the IRS office listed on the form for your area.
Delivery times for online and phone orders typically take 5 to 10 days from the time the IRS receives the request. You should allow 30 days to receive a transcript ordered by mail and 75 days for copies of your tax return. You can print tax forms online at IRS.gov/forms. To get forms in the mail go to IRS.gov/orderforms to place an order.


Bogus IRS Phone Calls and Emails


Be on the Alert - Bogus IRS Phone Calls and Emails

Tax scams take many different forms. Recently, the most common scams are phone calls and emails from thieves who pretend to be from the IRS. They use the IRS name, logo or a fake website to try to steal your money. They may try to steal your identity too. Here are several tips from the IRS to help you avoid being a victim of these tax scams:

The real IRS will not:
  • Initiate contact with you by phone, email, text or social media to ask for your personal or financial information.
  • Call you and demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.
  • Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For example, telling you to pay with a prepaid debit card.
Be wary if you get a phone call from someone who claims to be from the IRS and demands that you pay immediately. Here are some steps you can take to avoid and stop these scams.
If you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you do:
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use TIGTA’s “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page to report the incident.
  • You should also report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your report.
If you think you may owe taxes:
  • Ask for a call back number and an employee badge number.
  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS employees can help you.
In most cases, an IRS phishing scam is an unsolicited, bogus email that claims to come from the IRS. They often use fake refunds, phony tax bills, or threats of an audit. Some emails link to sham websites that look real.  The scammers’ goal is to lure victims to give up their personal and financial information. If they get what they’re after, they use it to steal a victim’s money and their identity.

If you get a ‘phishing’ email, the IRS offers this advice:
  • Don’t reply to the message.
  • Don’t give out your personal or financial information.
  • Forward the email to phishing@irs.gov. Then delete it.
  • Don’t open any attachments or click on any links. They may have malicious code that will infect your computer.

Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. More information on how to report phishing or phone scams is available on IRS.gov.

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