2014 Tax Season to Start Later Following Government Closure

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IRS Sees Heavy Demand As Operations Resume

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced a delay of approximately one to two weeks to the start of the 2014 filing season to allow adequate time to program and test tax processing systems following the 16-day federal government closure.
The IRS is exploring options to shorten the expected delay and will announce a final decision on the start of the 2014 filing season in December, Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said. The original start date of the 2014 filing season was Jan. 21, and with a one- to two-week delay, the IRS would start accepting and processing 2013 individual tax returns no earlier than Jan. 28 and no later than Feb. 4.
The government closure came during the peak period for preparing IRS systems for the 2014 filing season. Programming, testing and deployment of more than 50 IRS systems is needed to handle processing of nearly 150 million tax returns. Updating these core systems is a complex, year-round process with the majority of the work beginning in the fall of each year.
About 90 percent of IRS operations were closed during the shutdown, with some major workstreams closed entirely during this period, putting the IRS nearly three weeks behind its tight timetable for being ready to start the 2014 filing season. There are additional training, programming and testing demands on IRS systems this year in order to provide additional refund fraud and identity theft detection and prevention.
“Readying our systems to handle the tax season is an intricate, detailed process, and we must take the time to get it right,” Werfel said. “The adjustment to the start of the filing season provides us the necessary time to program, test and validate our systems so that we can provide a smooth filing and refund process for the nation’s taxpayers. We want the public and tax professionals to know about the delay well in advance so they can prepare for a later start of the filing season.”
The IRS will not process paper tax returns before the start date, which will be announced in December. There is no advantage to filing on paper before the opening date, and taxpayers will receive their tax refunds much faster by using e-file with direct deposit. The April 15 tax deadline is set by statute and will remain in place. However, the IRS reminds taxpayers that anyone can request an automatic six-month extension to file their tax return. The request is easily done with Form 4868, which can be filed electronically or on paper.
IRS processes, applications and databases must be updated annually to reflect tax law updates, business process changes, and programming updates in time for the start of the filing season.
The IRS continues resuming and assessing operations following the 16-day closure. The IRS is seeing heavy demand on its toll-free telephone lines, walk-in sites and other services from taxpayers and tax practitioners.
During the closure, the IRS received 400,000 pieces of correspondence, on top of the 1 million items already being processed before the shutdown.
The IRS encourages taxpayers to wait to call or visit if their issue is not urgent, and to continue to use automated applications on IRS.gov whenever possible.
“In the days ahead, we will continue assessing the impact of the shutdown on IRS operations, and we will do everything we can to work through the backlog and pent-up demand,” Werfel said. “We greatly appreciate the patience of taxpayers and the tax professional community during this period.”

IR-2013-82, Oct. 22, 2013

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In 2014, Various Tax Benefits Increase Due to Inflation Adjustments

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In 2014, Various Tax Benefits Increase Due to Inflation Adjustments

WASHINGTON — For tax year 2014, the Internal Revenue Service announced today annual inflation adjustments for more than 40 tax provisions, including the tax rate schedules, and other tax changes. Revenue Procedure 2013-35 provides details about these annual adjustments.
The tax items for tax year 2014 of greatest interest to most taxpayers include the following dollar amounts.
The tax rate of 39.6 percent affects singles whose income exceeds $406,750 ($457,600 for married taxpayers filing a joint return), up from $400,000 and $450,000, respectively. The other marginal rates – 10, 15, 25, 28, 33 and 35 percent – and the related income tax thresholds are described in the revenue procedure.
The standard deduction rises to $6,200 for singles and married persons filing separate returns and $12,400 for married couples filing jointly, up from $6,100 and $12,200, respectively, for tax year 2013. The standard deduction for heads of household rises to $9,100, up from $8,950.
The limitation for itemized deductions claimed on tax year 2014 returns of individuals begins with incomes of $254,200 or more ($305,050 for married couples filing jointly).
The personal exemption rises to $3,950, up from the 2013 exemption of $3,900. However, the exemption is subject to a phase-out that begins with adjusted gross incomes of $254,200 ($305,050 for married couples filing jointly). It phases out completely at $376,700 ($427,550 for married couples filing jointly.)
The Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amount for tax year 2014 is $52,800 ($82,100, for married couples filing jointly). The 2013 exemption amount was $51,900 ($80,800 for married couples filing jointly).
The maximum Earned Income Credit amount is $6,143 for taxpayers filing jointly who have 3 or more qualifying children, up from a total of $6,044 for tax year 2013. The revenue procedure has a table providing maximum credit amounts for other categories, income thresholds and phaseouts.
Estates of decedents who die during 2014 have a basic exclusion amount of $5,340,000, up from a total of $5,250,000 for estates of decedents who died in 2013.
The annual exclusion for gifts remains at $14,000 for 2014.
The annual dollar limit on employee contributions to employer-sponsored healthcare flexible spending arrangements (FSA) remains unchanged at $2,500.
The foreign earned income exclusion rises to $99,200 for tax year 2014, up from $97,600, for 2013.
The small employer health insurance credit provides that the maximum credit is phased out based on the employer’s number of full-time equivalent employees in excess of 10 and the employer’s average annual wages in excess of $25,400 for tax year 2014, up from $25,000 for 2013.
Details on these inflation adjustments and others not listed in this release can be found in Revenue Procedure 2013-35, which will be published in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2013-47 on Nov. 18, 2013.

IR-2013-87, Oct. 31, 2013

IRS Warns Consumers of Possible Scams Relating to Relief of Typhoon Victims

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WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service today issued a consumer alert about possible scams taking place in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. On Nov. 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan – known as Yolanda in the Philippines – made landfall in the central Philippines, bringing strong winds and heavy rains that have resulted in flooding, landslides, and widespread damage.
Following major disasters, it is common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers. Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, email or in-person solicitations.
The IRS cautions people wishing to make disaster-related charitable donations to avoid scam artists by following these tips:

IR-2013-90, Nov. 15, 2013

IRS Closed June 14

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Reminder: IRS To Be Closed June 14 Due to Budget and Sequester; Filing and Payment Deadlines Unchanged

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WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers that, due to the current budget situation including the sequester, the agency will be shut down on Friday, June 14.
As was the case on May 24, the first furlough day, all IRS operations will again be closed on June 14. This means that all IRS offices, including all toll-free hotlines, the Taxpayer Advocate Service and the agency’s nearly 400 taxpayer assistance centers nationwide, will be closed.

IRS employees will be furloughed without pay. No tax returns will be processed and no compliance-related activities will take place. In addition, the online preparer tax identification number PTIN system for tax professionals will also be shut down.

The IRS noted that taxpayers should continue to file their returns and pay any taxes due as usual. This includes the June 17 deadline for those making a second-quarter estimated tax payment. It also includes the June 17 filing deadline for taxpayers abroad and the June 30 deadline for filing foreign financial account reports FBAR Taxpayers needing to contact the IRS about these or other upcoming returns or payments should be sure to take this Friday’s closure into account.

Because none of the furlough days are considered federal holidays, the shutdown will have no impact on any tax-filing or tax-payment deadlines. The IRS will be unable to accept or acknowledge receipt of electronically-filed returns on any day the agency is shut down.

The only tax-payment deadlines coinciding with any of the furlough days relate to employment and excise tax deposits made by business taxpayers. These deposits must be made through the Treasury Department’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), which will operate as usual.

On the other hand, the agency will give taxpayers extra time to comply with a request to provide documents to the IRS. This includes administrative summonses, requests for records in connection with a return examination, review or compliance check, or document requests related to a collection matter. No additional time is given to respond to other agencies or the courts.

Where the last day for responding to an IRS request falls on June 14, the taxpayer will have until Monday, June 17–the next business day.

Some web-based online tools and phone-based automated services will continue to function this Friday, while others will be shut down. Available services include Withholding Calculator, Order A Transcript, EITC Assistant, Interactive Tax Assistant, Tele-Tax and the Online Look-up Tool for those needing to repay the first-time homebuyer credit. Services not available this Friday include Where’s My Refund? and the Online Payment Agreement. Visit online tools on IRS.gov to learn more about these tools.

The remaining scheduled furlough days are July 5, July 22 and Aug. 30, 2013. If necessary, the IRS may announce one or two additional furlough days.

More taxpayers e-file from home in 2013

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The Internal Revenue Service today provided updated statistics showing continued growth in electronic filing of tax returns. So far in 2013, more than 43 million people have self-prepared and e-filed their tax returns from home, an increase of more than 4 percent compared to the prior year.

Through May 10, the IRS received more than 43.6 million self-prepared e-file returns, up from 41.7 million a year earlier. E-filed returns from tax professionals increased slightly, reaching almost 70.4 million. In all, almost 114 million tax returns came in through e-file this year, up from 112.1 million at this point last year.

Other highlights from the new filing season statistics show:

• During 2013, the IRS issued more than 101 million refunds worth almost $268 billion.

• Almost 80 percent of refunds used direct deposit.

• More people are using IRS.gov to get answers, file their returns and resolve issues. So far in 2013, the IRS web site has been accessed more than 300 million times, up almost 25 percent compared to the same time last year.

Sales Tax Increase

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IRS To Be Closed May 24 and Four Other Days

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IRS To Be Closed May 24, Four Other Days Due to Budget and Sequester; Filing and Payment Deadlines Unchanged

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service announced today additional details about the closures planned for May 24, June 14, July 5, July 22 and Aug. 30, 2013.

Due to the current budget situation, including the sequester, all IRS operations will be closed on those days. This means that all IRS offices, including all toll-free hotlines, the Taxpayer Advocate Service and the agency’s nearly 400 taxpayer assistance centers nationwide, will be closed on those days. IRS employees will be furloughed without pay. No tax returns will be processed and no compliance-related activities will take place.

The IRS noted that taxpayers should continue to file their returns and pay any taxes due as usual.

Taxpayers needing to contact the IRS about their returns or payments should be sure to take these furlough dates into account. In some instances, this may include taxpayers with returns or payments due soon after a furlough day, such as the June 17 deadline for taxpayers abroad and those making a second-quarter estimated tax payment as well as the Sept. 3 deadline for truckers filing a highway use tax return.

Because none of the furlough days are considered federal holidays, the shutdown will have no impact on any tax-filing deadlines. The IRS will be unable to accept or acknowledge receipt of electronically-filed returns on any day the agency is shut down.

Similarly, tax-payment deadlines are also unaffected. The only tax payment deadlines coinciding with any of the furlough days relate to employment and excise tax deposits made by business taxpayers. These deposits must be made through the Treasury Department’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), which will operate as usual.

On the other hand, the agency will give taxpayers extra time to comply with a request to provide documents to the IRS. This includes administrative summonses, requests for records in connection with a return examination, review or compliance check, or document requests related to a collection matter. No additional time is given to respond to other agencies or the courts.

Where the last day for responding to an IRS request falls on a furlough day, the taxpayer will have until the next business day. If the last day to respond is Friday, May 24, for example, the taxpayer will have until Tuesday, May 28 to comply (Monday, May 27 is Memorial Day). Further details on the impact of the shutdown on IRS procedures will be available on IRS.gov.

Some web-based online tools and phone-based automated services will continue to function on furlough days, while others will be shut down. Available services include Withholding Calculator, Order A Transcript, EITC Assistant, Interactive Tax Assistant, the PTIN system for tax professionals, Tele-Tax and the Online Look-up Tool for those needing to repay the first-time homebuyer credit. Services not available on those days include Where’s My Refund? and the Online Payment Agreement. Visit online tools on IRS.gov to learn more about these tools.

At a later date, the IRS may possibly announce one or two additional furlough days if necessary.