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Time Running Out to Claim $950 Million in Refunds for 2012 Tax Returns

If you did not file a tax return for 2012, you may be one of nearly one million taxpayers who may be due a refund from that year. If you are, you must claim your share of almost $950 million by April 18. To claim your refund, you must file a 2012 federal income tax return. Here are the facts you need to know about unclaimed refunds:

  • The unclaimed refunds apply to people who did not file a federal income tax return for 2012. The IRS estimates that half the potential refunds are more than $718.
  • Some people, such as students and part-time workers, may not have filed because they had too little income to require filing a tax return. They may have a refund waiting if they had taxes withheld from their wages or made quarterly estimated payments. A refund could also apply if they qualify for certain tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • If you didn’t file a 2012 return, the law generally provides a three-year window to claim a refund from that year. For 2012 returns, the window closes on April 18, 2016 (or April 19 for taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts).
  • The law requires that you properly address, mail and postmark your tax return by that date to claim your refund.
  • If you don’t file a claim for a refund within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. There is no penalty for filing a late return if you are due a refund.
  • The IRS may hold your 2012 refund if you have not filed tax returns for 2013 and 2014. The U.S. Treasury will apply the refund to any federal or state tax you owe. It also may use your refund to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts, such as student loans.
  • If you’re missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for prior years, you should ask for copies from your employer, bank or other payer. If you can’t get copies, get a free transcript by mail that provides the information you need by going to IRS.gov. You can also file Form 4506-T to get a transcript. Order your transcript early. Transcripts arrive in five to 10 calendar days at the address we have on file for you.

For help filing your income tax call one of our offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

 

Avoid Errors; File an Accurate Return

The IRS encourages you to file an accurate tax return. Take extra time if you need it. If you make an error on your return then it will likely take longer for the IRS to process it. That could delay your refund. You can avoid many common errors by filing electronically. IRS e-file is the most accurate way to file your tax return. Seven out of ten taxpayers can use IRS Free File software at no cost.

Here are nine common tax-filing errors to avoid:

  1. Wrong or Missing Social Security Numbers. Be sure you enter all SSNs on your tax return exactly as they are on the Social Security cards.
  2. Wrong Names. Be sure you spell the names of everyone on your tax return exactly as they are on their Social Security cards.
  3. Filing Status Errors.  Some people use the wrong filing status, such as Head of Household instead of Single. The Interactive Tax Assistant on IRS.gov can help you choose the right status. If you e-file, tax software helps you choose.
  4. Math Mistakes.  Math errors are common. Tax preparation software does the math for e-filers.
  5. Errors in Figuring Tax Credits or Deductions.  Many filers make mistakes figuring their Earned Income Tax Credit, Child and Dependent Care Credit, and the standard deduction. If you’re not e-filing, follow the instructions carefully when figuring credits and deductions. For example, if you’re age 65 or older or blind, be sure you claim the correct, higher standard deduction.
  6. Incorrect Bank Account Numbers.  Choose direct deposit for your refund. It’s easy and convenient.  However, be sure to use the right routing and account numbers on your return. The fastest and safest way to get your tax refund is to combine e-file with direct deposit.
  7. Forms Not Signed. An unsigned tax return is like an unsigned check – it’s not valid. Both spouses must sign a joint return. You can avoid this error by e-filing your taxes since you must digitally sign your tax return before you send it to the IRS.
  8. Electronic Filing PIN Errors. When you e-file, you sign your return electronically with a Personal Identification Number. If you know last year’s e-file PIN, you can use that. If you don’t know it, enter the Adjusted Gross Income from the 2014 tax return that you originally filed with the IRS. Do not use the AGI amount from an amended return or a return that the IRS corrected.
  9. Health Care Reporting Errors. The most common health care reporting errors that taxpayers make involve failing to claim a coverage exemption and not reconciling advance payments of the premium tax credit. If you don’t have qualifying health care coverage but meet certain criteria, you might be eligible to claim an exemption from coverage and avoid an unnecessary payment when you file your tax return. If you enrolled in health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace and received advance credit payments, you must file a tax return to reconcile the advance payments made on your behalf with the amount of your actual premium tax credit.

For help with any income tax question call one of our offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

Newest IRS Telephone Scam

The IRS said Monday it is receiving new reports of scammers calling under the guise of verifying tax return information over the phone.

The latest variation has been seen in the last few weeks and capitalizes on the current tax season. Scam artists call claiming they have the consumer’s tax return, and they only need to verify a few details to process the return. The scam tries to get taxpayers to give up personal information such as a Social Security number or personal financial information like bank numbers or credit cards.

“These schemes continue to adapt and evolve in an attempt to catch people off guard just as they are preparing their tax returns,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement. “Don’t be fooled. The IRS won’t be calling you out of the blue asking you to verify your personal tax information or aggressively threatening you to make an immediate payment.”

The IRS is reminding taxpayers to safeguard against all sorts of con games that continually change. The IRS, the states and the tax industry came together in 2015 and launched a public awareness campaign called Taxes. Security. Together. to help educate taxpayers about the need to maintain security online and to recognize and avoid “phishing” and other schemes.

Nevertheless, the IRS continues to hear reports of phone scams as well as e-mail phishing schemes across the country.

For help with any income tax question call one of our offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

 

Claiming a Tax Deduction for Medical and Dental Expenses

Your medical expenses may save you money at tax time, but a few key rules apply. Here are some tax tips to help you determine if you can deduct medical and dental expenses on your tax return:

  • Itemize. You can only claim your medical expenses that you paid for in 2015 if you itemize deductions on your federal tax return.
  • Income. Include all qualified medical costs that you paid for during the year, however, you only realize a tax benefit when your total amount is more than 10 percent of your adjusted gross income.
  • Temporary Threshold for Age 65.  If you or your spouse is age 65 or older, then it’s 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. This exception applies through Dec. 31, 2016.
  • Qualifying Expenses.  You can include most medical and dental costs that you paid for yourself, your spouse and your dependents including:
    • The costs of diagnosing, treating, easing or preventing disease.
    • The costs you pay for prescription drugs and insulin.
    • The costs you pay for insurance premiums for policies that cover medical care qualify.
    • Some long-term care insurance costs.

Exceptions and special rules apply. Costs reimbursed by insurance or other sources normally do not qualify for a deduction. For more examples of costs you can and can’t deduct, see IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses. You can get it on IRS.gov/forms anytime.

  • Travel Costs Count.  You may be able to deduct travel costs you pay for medical care. This includes costs such as public transportation, ambulance service, tolls and parking fees. If you use your car, you can deduct either the actual costs or the standard mileage rate for medical travel. The rate is 23 cents per mile for 2015.
  • No Double Benefit.  You can’t claim a tax deduction for medical expenses paid with funds from your Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Arrangements. Amounts paid with funds from those plans are usually tax-free.
  • Use the Tool.  Use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on IRS.gov to see if you can deduct your medical expenses. It can answer many of your questions on a wide range of tax topics including the health care law.

For help with this and any other income tax question call one of our offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

What to Do if You Don’t Receive Your Health Care Information Forms

This year, you may receive one or more forms that provide information about your 2015 health coverage; these forms are 1095-A, 1095-B and 1095-C. The IRS does not issue these forms and cannot provide you with a copy of any of these forms.

This tip provides guidance about what you should do if you are expecting to receive any of these forms, but do not have them by the time you are ready to file your tax return.

Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, provides you with information about your 2015 health care coverage if you or someone in your family enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Marketplace should have furnished Form 1095-A to you by February 1, 2016.

  • If you were expecting a form and did not get one, you should contact your Marketplace. Visit your Marketplace’s website to find out the steps you need to follow to get a copy of your Form 1095-A online. The IRS does not issue and cannot provide you with your Form 1095-A.
  • You should wait to file your 2015 income tax return until you receive this form.
  • Filing before you receive this form may delay your refund.  You need the information from Form 1095-A to complete Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit and file it with your tax return.
  • You can find more information about your Form 1095-A from the Marketplace.

Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, provides you with information about your health care coverage if you, your spouse or your dependents enrolled in coverage through an insurance provider or self-insured employer last year. Coverage providers should furnish Form 1095-B to you by March 31, 2016.

  • For questions about your Form 1095-B, contact the coverage provider. See line 18 of the Form 1095-B for a contact number. The IRS does not issue and cannot provide you with your Form 1095-B.
  • You might not receive a Form 1095-B by the time you are ready to file your 2015 tax return, and it is not necessary to wait for it to file.
  • The information on these forms may assist in preparing a return, and you, however you can prepare and file your return using other information about your health insurance.

Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Insurance, provides you with information about the health coverage offered by your employer.  In some cases, it may also provide information about whether you enrolled in this coverage. Employers that are required to issue Form 1095-C should furnish it to you by March 31, 2016.

  • For questions about your Form 1095-C, contact your employer. See line 10 of Form 1095-C for a contact number. The IRS does not issue and cannot provide you with your Form 1095-C.
  • You might not receive a Form 1095-C by the time you are ready to file your 2015 tax return, and it is not necessary to wait for it to file.
  • The information on these forms may assist in preparing a return. However you can prepare and file your return using other information about your health insurance.

Do not attach any Forms 1095 to your tax return.  Keep the health care information forms with your tax records.

For help with this NEW filing requirement call one of our offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

 

Early Retirement Distributions and Your Taxes

Many people find it necessary to take out money early from their IRA or retirement plan. Doing so, however, can trigger an additional tax on top of the income tax you may have to pay. Here are a few key points to know about taking an early distribution:

  1. Early Withdrawals.  An early withdrawal normally means taking the money out of your retirement plan before you reach age 59½.
  2. Additional Tax. If you took an early withdrawal from a plan last year, you must report it to the IRS. You may have to pay income tax on the amount you took out. If it was an early withdrawal, you may have to pay an additional 10 percent tax.
  3. Nontaxable Withdrawals.  The additional 10 percent tax does not apply to nontaxable withdrawals. They include withdrawals of your cost to participate in the plan. Your cost includes contributions that you paid tax on before you put them into the plan.

A rollover is a type of nontaxable withdrawal. A rollover occurs when you take cash or other assets from one plan and contribute the amount to another plan. You normally have 60 days to complete a rollover to make it tax-free.

  1. Check Exceptions. There are many exceptions to the additional 10 percent tax. Some of the rules for retirement plans are different from the rules for IRAs.
  2. File Form 5329.  If you took an early withdrawal last year, you may need to file Form 5329, Additional Taxes on Qualified Plans (Including IRAs) and Other Tax-Favored Accounts, with your federal tax return. See Form 5329 and its instructions for details.

For help with your income tax call one of our offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

 

Top Tax Tips about Debt Cancellation

If your lender cancels part or all of your debt, it is usually considered income and you normally must pay tax on that amount. However, the law allows an exclusion that may apply to homeowners who had their mortgage debt cancelled in 2015. Here are 8 tips about debt cancellation:

  1. Main Home. If the cancelled debt was a loan on your main home, you may be able to exclude the cancelled amount from your income. You must have used the loan to buy, build or substantially improve your main home to qualify. Your main home must also secure the mortgage.
  2. Loan Modification. If your lender cancelled part of your mortgage through a loan modification or ‘workout,’ you may be able to exclude that amount from your income. You may also be able to exclude debt discharged as part of the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. The exclusion may also apply to the amount of debt cancelled in a foreclosure.
  3. Refinanced Mortgage. The exclusion may apply to amounts cancelled on a refinanced mortgage. This applies only if you used proceeds from the refinancing to buy, build or substantially improve your main home and only up to the amount of the old mortgage principal just before refinancing. Amounts used for other purposes do not qualify.
  4. Other Cancelled Debt. Other types of cancelled debt such as second homes, rental and business property, credit card debt or car loans do not qualify for this special exclusion. On the other hand, there are other rules that may allow those types of cancelled debts to be nontaxable.
  5. Form 1099-C. If your lender reduced or cancelled at least $600 of your debt, you should receive Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, by Feb. 1. This form shows the amount of cancelled debt and other information.
  6. Form 982. If you qualify, report the excluded debt on Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness. File the form with your federal income tax return.
  7. IRS.gov Tool. Use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on IRS.gov to find out if your cancelled mortgage debt is taxable.
  8. Exclusion Extended. The law that authorized the exclusion of cancelled debt from income was extended through Dec. 31, 2016.

For More Information. For more on this topic see Publication 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions and Abandonments.

For help with any income tax question call one of our offices:         

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

 

Here’s What You Need to Do with Your Form 1095-A

This year, you may receive one or more forms that provide information about your 2015 health coverage.  These forms are 1095-A, 1095-B and 1095-C. This tip is part of a series that answers your questions about these forms.

Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, provides you with information about your health care coverage if you or someone in your family enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Here are the answers to questions you’re asking about Form 1095-A:

Will I get a Form 1095-A?

  • The Marketplace will send you a Form 1095-A if you, your spouse or a dependent enrolled in coverage for 2015. Most individuals did not enroll in Marketplace coverage and will not receive this form.
  • The Marketplace may send you more than one Form 1095-A if any of these apply:
    • Members of your household were not all enrolled in the same health plan
    • You updated your family information during the year
    • You switched plans during the year
    • You had family members enrolled in different states
  • The Form 1095-A is not new, but some people may receive it for the first time this year.

How do I use the information on my Form 1095-A?

  • This form provides information about your Marketplace coverage, including the names of covered individuals and which months they were covered last year.
  • Use the information from Form 1095-A to complete Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit, and reconcile advance payments of the premium tax credit or – if you are eligible – to claim the premium tax credit on your tax return.
  • If you received advance payments, which are shown on lines 21-33 of Form 1095-A, you must file a tax return, and include Form 8962, even if you are not otherwise required to file a return.  Filing your return without reconciling your advance payments will delay your refund and may affect future advance credit payments.
  • If Form 1095-A, Part II shows coverage for you and everyone in your family for the entire year, you can simply check the full-year coverage box on your tax return to satisfy the individual shared responsibility provision.
  • If there were months that you did not have coverage, you should determine if you qualify for an exemption from the requirement to have coverage. If not, you must make an individual shared responsibility payment.
  • Do not attach Form 1095-A to your tax return – keep it with your tax records.

What if I don’t get my Form 1095-A?

  • If you are expecting to receive a Form 1095-A, you should wait to file your 2015 income tax return until you receive this form.  Filing before you receive this form may delay your refund.
  • The IRS does not issue and cannot provide you with your Form 1095-A. If you are expecting a form and do not get one, you should contact your Marketplace. Visit your Marketplace’s website to find out the steps you need to follow to get a copy of your Form 1095-A online.
  • You can find more information about your Form 1095-A from the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Depending upon your circumstances, you might also receive Forms 1095-B and 1095-C. For information on these forms, see our Questions and Answers about Health Care Information Forms for Individuals.

If you need help with this NEW filing requirement, please call one of our offices!

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

 

Six Reasons to Choose Direct Deposit for Your Tax Refund

When you file your taxes, you have options on how to receive your refund. The best way to get it is by direct deposit. Eight out of 10 taxpayers get their refunds by direct deposit. Here are six good reasons why you should do the same in 2016:

IRS Direct Deposit:

  1. Is Fast.  The fastest way to get your refund is to electronically file your federal tax return and use direct deposit. Use IRS Free File to prepare and e-file your federal return for free. You can still use direct deposit even if you file a paper tax return.
  2. Is Secure. Since your refund goes directly into your account, there’s no risk of having your refund check stolen or lost in the mail. This is the same electronic transfer system used to deposit nearly 98 percent of all Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits into millions of accounts.
  3. Is Convenient. With direct deposit, your refund goes directly into your bank account. There’s no need to wait for your check to come in the mail.
  4. Is Easy.  Choosing direct deposit is easy. When you e-file, just follow the instructions in the tax software. If you file a paper return, the tax form instructions will guide you. Make sure that you enter the correct bank account and routing number.
  5. Has Options. You can split your refund into several financial accounts. These include checking, savings, health, education and certain retirement accounts. Beginning this year, there is a new retirement account offered by the U.S. Treasury Department. It’s called a MyRA account and you can designate all or a portion of your refund to a new MyRA account if you mark the “savings” box in the refund section of your return. Use IRS Form 8888, Allocation of Refund (including Savings Bond Purchases), to deposit your refund in up to three accounts. Don’t use Form 8888 to designate part of your refund to pay your tax preparer.
  6. Saves Money. Direct deposit also saves you money. It costs the nation’s taxpayers more than $1 for every paper refund check issued but only a dime for each direct deposit made.

You should deposit your refund into accounts in your own name, your spouse’s name or both. Avoid making a deposit into accounts owned by others. Some banks require both spouses’ names on the account to deposit a tax refund from a joint return. Check with your bank for their direct deposit requirements.

There is a limit of three electronic direct deposit refunds made into a single financial account or pre-paid debit card. Taxpayers who exceed the limit will receive an IRS notice and a check refund in the mail. Helpful tips about direct deposit and the split refund option are available in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax. You can view, download and print tax products on IRS.gov/forms anytime.

To have your taxes professionally prepared call one of our offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

 

Change Your Name? It Can Affect Your Taxes

A name change can have an impact on 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.
  • Make Dependent’s 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 Social Security number, 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 when they happen. If you enrolled in health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace you may receive the benefit of advance payments of the premium tax credit. These are paid directly to your insurance company to lower your monthly premium. Report changes in circumstances, such as a name change, a new address and a change in your income or family size to your Marketplace when they happen throughout the year. Reporting the changes will help you avoid getting too much or too little advance payment of the premium tax credit.

For help with any income tax question call one of our offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

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