Many provisions of the Internal Revenue Code are complicated. Proper interpretation of the rules and regulations contained in these provisions requires the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable tax professional. The fifth part of the series about the most confusing provisions of the Internal Revenue Code addresses earned income tax credits.
Why Is It Confusing?
- Complicated definitions and rules
- Multitudes of required calculations
In 2004, Congress made this credit for low-income taxpayers slightly less confusing by adopting a uniform definition of a qualifying child. But even the tests (relationship, age, residency, and joint return) to be a qualifying child under the EITC may be confusing and cumbersome for many taxpayers.
REMINDER: Employers and small businesses have a new deadline, January 31, 2017, for filing Forms W-2. The acceleration of this deadline is the result of a new federal law aimed at helping the IRS detect and prevent refund fraud. For similar reasons, the new law also requires the IRS to hold refunds involving two key refundable tax credits until at least February 15, 2017. The January 31 deadline of past years for employers furnishing copies of Forms W-2 to their employees remains the same.
Earlier this year, the Internal Revenue Service announced it is beginning protocols for processing tax returns using the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). The IRS is sharing this information to help taxpayers, tax preparers, and other tax professionals prepare for the opening weeks of the 2017 filing season. The IRS is attempting to ensure taxpayers receive a correct and accurate refund.
The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act) was enacted in December of 2015, which made several changes to the tax law affecting taxpayers with families. This change begins Jan. 1, 2017, and therefore may affect some returns filed early in 2017.
For taxpayers seeking a new job in their same line of work, a tax deduction for some job search expenses may be available. First and foremost, these expenses must be related to a job search in a taxpayer’s current occupation, as expenses related to a search for a job in a new occupation may not be deducted. If an employer or third party provides reimbursement for the expense, it may not be deducted.
Here are some expenses that may be deducted:
- Employment and job placement agency fees;
- Costs of preparing, copying and mailing résumés to prospective employers;
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, enacted Dec. 18, 2015, extends a long list of expired tax provisions into the future. Unlike past extension legislation, Congress extended many provisions permanently. In more traditional fashion, some of the others were extended for five years, and many for two years. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the total cost of the tax provisions in the bill will be $622 billion over 10 years. Without Congress extending these various provisions, millions of Americans were in danger of losing these beneficial tax breaks by 2017.
If you have any type of financial difficulty, keep in mind that there’s a tax impact to events such as job loss or foreclosure. Such consequences may not necessarily be predominantly negative. For example, if your income decreased, you may be newly eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit or other tax credits, which is a good thing.
Of the utmost importance when facing some financial obstacle is to contact the IRS immediately if you believe that you may have trouble paying your tax bill. Please see our blog You Can’t Pay Your Tax Bill in Full You Have Options…An experienced and knowledgeable tax attorney may help ease any financial burden. Remember that to avoid additional penalties, you also should always file a tax return even if you are unable to pay.
People typically think that the amount of their income is the biggest red flag that attracts an IRS auditor, and they would probably be right. But what are some of the other items on a tax return that may attract their attention? Some say that simple, plain returns are fairly safe and likely to avoid extended scrutiny by IRS auditors. According to the IRS, there are multiple ways a return may end up audited, here are some examples:
Married couples have the option to file jointly or separately on their federal income tax returns. Undoubtedly, married couples during tax season have asked each other if they are filing advantageously, whether currently filing jointly or separately. The IRS strongly encourages most couples to file joint tax returns by extending several tax breaks to those who file together. In the vast majority of cases, it’s best for married couples to file jointly, but there may be a few instances when it’s better to submit separate returns.
You’ve filed all of your tax returns, and because of your level of income you find yourself in the class of taxpayers whose return is more likely to trigger an IRS audit. So you wonder, how long does the IRS now have to audit you?
Due to disclosure requirements, the IRS makes contact with a taxpayer selected for an audit by telephone or mail only. When returns are filed, they are compared against norms for similar returns. These norms are developed from audits of a statistically valid random sample of returns, selected as part of the National Research Program conducted by the IRS to update return selection information.