Jan 23

Do I Need to File a Tax Return?

You may not be required to file. Here are some considerations from the IRS about whether you want to go through the expense of filing or not.

  1. General Filing Rules. Whether you need to file a tax return depends on a few factors. In most cases, the amount of your income, your filing status and your age determine if you must file a tax return. For example, if you’re single and under age 65 you must file if your income was at least $10,300. Other rules may apply if you’re self-employed or if you’re a dependent of another person. There are also other cases when you must file. Go to IRS.gov/filing to find out if you need to file.
  2. Premium Tax Credit.  If you enrolled in health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace in 2015, you may be eligible for the premium tax credit. You will need to file a return to claim the credit. If you chose to have advance payments of the premium tax credit sent directly to your insurer during 2015 you must file a federal tax return. You will reconcile any advance payments with the allowable premium tax credit. You should receive Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, by early February. The form will have information that will help you file your tax return
  3. Tax Withheld or Paid. Did your employer withhold federal income tax from your pay? Did you make estimated tax payments? Did you overpay last year and have it applied to this year’s tax? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you could be due a refund. But you have to file a tax return to get it.
  4. Earned Income Tax Credit. Did you work and earn less than $53,267 last year? You could receive EITC as a tax refund, if you qualify, with or without a qualifying child. You may be eligible for up to $6,242. Use the 2015 EITC Assistant tool on IRS.gov to find out if you qualify. If you do, file a tax return to claim it.
  5. Additional Child Tax Credit. Do you have at least one child that qualifies for the Child Tax Credit? If you don’t get the full credit amount, you may qualify for the Additional Child Tax Credit.
  6. American Opportunity Tax Credit. The AOTC is available for four years of post secondary education and can be up to $2,500 per eligible student. You, your spouse or your dependent must have been a student enrolled at least half time for at least one academic period. Even if you don’t owe any taxes, you still may qualify. You must complete Form 8863, Education Credits, and file it with your return to claim the credit. Use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on IRS.gov to see if you can claim the credit. Learn more by visiting the IRS’ Education Credits Web page.
  7. Tolling of the Statute of Limitations. If a return is never filed, then the IRS period for being able to audit your finances never starts to run. If you file a return (and do not have any significant misstatements of income or expenses), then the IRS generally only has three years to determine that you are in substantial compliance. If you don’t file, that time frame extends forever. Sometimes it is just better to get the filing out of the way to have closure and be able to stop retaining records.
Jan 22

Prepping for Filing Tax Returns

From the IRS tax preparer emails, a few updates on what you need to bring related to your health insurance coverage for your tax preparation. A reminder, if you did not have qualifying coverage for the entire year, then you may owe a penalty of $695 or 2% of your Adjusted Gross Income as penalty.

The Affordable Care Act requires you and your dependents to have health care coverage, an exemption from the coverage requirement, or make a shared responsibility payment for any month without coverage or an exemption with your return. This law will affect your federal income tax return when you file this year

Here are five things you should know about exemptions from the health care law’s coverage requirement and the individual shared responsibility payment that will help you get ready to file your tax return.

  • You may be eligible to claim an exemption from the requirement to have coverage and are not required to make a payment. If you qualify for an exemption, you will need to file Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions,with your tax return.  You can claim most exemptions when you file your tax return. However, you must apply for certain exemptions in advance through the Health Care Insurance Marketplace,
  • If you receive an exemption through the Marketplace, you’ll receive an Exemption Certificate Number to include when you file your taxes. If you have applied for an exemption through the Marketplace and are still waiting for a response, you can put “pending” on your tax return where you would normally put your ECN.
  • You do not need to file a return solely to report your coverage or to claim a coverage exemption.

If you are not required to file a federal income tax return for a year because your gross income is below your return filing threshold, you are automatically exempt from the shared responsibility provision for that year and do not need to take any further action to secure an exemption.

  • If you file a tax return and your income is below the filing threshold for your filing status, you should use Part II of Form 8965, Coverage Exemptions for Your Household Claimed on Your Return, to claim a coverage exemption. You should not make a shared responsibility payment if you are exempt from the coverage requirement because you have income below the filing threshold.
  • If you do not have qualifying coverage or an exemption for the year, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment for each month without coverage or an exemption when you file your return. Examples and information about figuring the payment are available on the IRS Calculating the Payment page.
Jan 21

Tax time of year!

We have entered a new year. I hope everyone is doing well here in 2016.

I am back after taking a couple of months off from posting on the website, but we have stayed busy here working on trust and estate planning and honing up tax skill with continuing legal education.