Free Tax Help Available Nationwide

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WASHINGTON — Over 12,000 free tax preparation sites will be open nationwide this year as the Internal Revenue Service continues to expand its partnerships with nonprofit and community organizations providing vital tax preparation services for low- to moderate-income and elderly taxpayers. The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program offers free tax help generally to people who earn $50,000 and less. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program offers free tax help to taxpayers who are 60 and older. Today, partners and local officials will be hosting news conferences or issuing news releases nationwide to highlight the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and their free tax preparation programs. The EITC is one of the federal government’s largest benefit programs for working families and individuals. But taxpayers must file a tax return, even if they do not have a filing requirement, and specifically claim the credit to get the benefit.

Taxpayers need to present the following items to have their returns prepared:  Read More

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New IRS Tax Guide to Help You Save on Your 2011 Taxes

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WASHINGTON— Taxpayers can get the most out of various recovery tax benefits and get a jump on preparing their 2011 federal income tax returns by consulting a newly revised comprehensive tax guide now available on IRS.gov.

Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, features details on taking advantage of a wide range of tax-saving opportunities, such as the American opportunity credit for parents and college students, and the child tax credit and expanded earned income tax credit for low- and moderate-income workers. This useful 303-page guide also provides more than 5,000 interactive links to help taxpayers quickly get answers to their questions.

Publication 17 has been published annually by the IRS since the 1940s and has been available on the IRS web site since 1996. As in prior years, this publication is packed with basic tax-filing information and tips on what income to report and how to report it, figuring capital gains and losses, claiming dependents, choosing the standard deduction versus itemizing deductions, and using IRAs to save for retirement.

Besides Publication 17, IRS.gov offers many other helpful resources for those doing year-end tax planning. Many 2011 forms are already posted, and updated versions of other forms, instructions and publications are being posted almost every day. Forms already available include Form 1040, short Forms1040A and 1040EZSchedule A for itemizing deductions and new Form 8949for reporting sales of stocks, bonds and other capital assets.

Issue Number:    IR-2011-123

IRS Offers Tips for Year-End Giving

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WASHINGTON — Individuals and businesses making contributions to charity should keep in mind several important tax law provisions that have taken effect in recent years. Some of these changes include the following:

Special Charitable Contributions for Certain IRA Owners

This provision, currently scheduled to expire at the end of 2011, offers older owners of individual retirement accounts (IRAs) a different way to give to charity. An IRA owner, age 70½ or over, can directly transfer tax-free up to $100,000 per year to an eligible charity. This option, created in 2006, is available for distributions from IRAs, regardless of whether the owners itemize their deductions. Distributions from employer-sponsored retirement plans, including SIMPLE IRAs and simplified employee pension (SEP) plans, are not eligible.

To qualify, the funds must be contributed directly by the IRA trustee to the eligible charity. Amounts so transferred are not taxable and no deduction is available for the transfer.

Not all charities are eligible. For example, donor-advised funds and supporting organizations are not eligible recipients.  Read more …


Plan Now to Get Full Benefit of Saver’s Credit

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Plan Now to Get Full Benefit of Saver’s Credit; Tax Credit Helps Low- and Moderate-Income Workers Save for Retirement 

WASHINGTON — Low- and moderate-income workers can take steps now to save for retirement and earn a special tax credit in 2011 and the years ahead, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

The saver’s credit helps offset part of the first $2,000 workers voluntarily contribute to IRAs and to 401(k) plans and similar workplace retirement programs. Also known as the retirement savings contributions credit, the saver’s credit is available in addition to any other tax savings that apply.

Eligible workers still have time to make qualifying retirement contributions and get the saver’s credit on their 2011 tax return. People have until April 17, 2012, to set up a new individual retirement arrangement or add money to an existing IRA and still get credit for 2011. However, elective deferrals must be made by the end of the year to a 401(k) plan or similar workplace program, such as a 403(b) plan for employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations, a governmental 457 plan for state or local government employees, and the Thrift Savings Plan for federal employees. Employees who are unable to set aside money for this year may want to schedule their 2012 contributions soon so their employer can begin withholding them in January.  Read more …

IRS Announces 2012 Standard Mileage Rate

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Most Rates Are the Same as in July 

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2012 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2012, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 55.5 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

The rate for business miles driven is unchanged from the mid-year adjustment that became effective on July 1, 2011. The medical and moving rate has been reduced by 0.5 cents per mile.

The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs as determined by the same study. Independent contractor Runzheimer International conducted the study.

Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously.

These and other requirements for a taxpayer to use a standard mileage rate to calculate the amount of a deductible business, moving, medical or charitable expense are in Rev. Proc. 2010-51.

Notice 2012-01 contains the standard mileage rates, the amount a taxpayer must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate, and the maximum standard automobile cost that a taxpayer may use in computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan.

1040 Individual Tax Return for 2010 is due October 17, 2011

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If you filed an IRS Extension form 4868 under an approved extension due date  in April 2011,
for your individual tax return form 1040 … guess what’s coming up around the corner ?
A tax due deadline  – OCTOBER 17, 2011 

Same Sex Spouses

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Q-1:  How do registered domestic partners determine their gross income for 2010?

Q-2:  Can registered domestic partners or same-sex spouses whose marriage is recognized under state law file
federal tax returns using a married filing jointly or married filing separately status?

Q-3:  Can a registered domestic partner qualify to file his or her tax return using head-of-household filing status?

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