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IRS Offers Tips to Help Taxpayers with the January 30 Tax Season Opening

The IRS will begin processing most individual income tax returns on Jan. 30 after updating forms and completing programming and testing of its processing systems. The IRS anticipated many of the tax law changes made by Congress under the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA), but the final law requires some changes before the IRS can begin accepting tax returns.

The IRS will not process paper or electronic tax returns before the Jan. 30 opening date, so there is no advantage to filing on paper before then. Using e-file is the best way to file an accurate tax return, and using e-file with direct deposit is the fastest way to get a refund.

Many major software providers are accepting tax returns in advance of the Jan. 30 processing date. These software providers will hold onto the returns and then electronically submit them after the IRS systems open. If you use commercial software, check with your provider for specific instructions about when they will accept your return. Software companies and tax professionals send returns to the IRS, but the timing of the refunds is determined by IRS processing, which starts Jan. 30.

After the IRS starts processing returns, it expects to process refunds within the usual timeframes. Last year, the IRS issued more than nine out of 10 refunds to taxpayers in less than 21 days, and it expects the same results in 2013. Even though the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, some tax returns will require additional review and take longer. To help protect against refund fraud, the IRS has put in place stronger security filters this filing season.

After taxpayers file a return, they can track the status of the refund with the “Where’s My Refund?” tool available on the IRS.gov website. New this year, instead of an estimated date, Where’s My Refund? will give people an actual personalized refund date after the IRS processes the tax return and approves the refund.

“Where’s My Refund?” will be available for use after the IRS starts processing tax returns on Jan. 30. Here are some tips for using “Where’s My Refund?” after it’s available on Jan. 30:

  • Initial information will generally be available within 24 hours after the IRS receives the taxpayer’s e-filed return or four weeks after mailing a paper return.
  • The system updates every 24 hours, usually overnight. There’s no need to check more than once a day.
  • “Where’s My Refund?” provides the most accurate and complete information that the IRS has about the refund, so there is no need to call the IRS unless the web tool says to do so.
  • To use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool, taxpayers need to have a copy of their tax return for reference. Taxpayers will need their social security number, filing status and the exact dollar amount of the refund they are expecting.

For the latest information about the Jan. 30 tax season opening, tax law changes and tax refunds, visit IRS.gov.

Additional IRS Resources:

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Tax tables, other inflation adjustments, issued for 2013

On Friday, the IRS issued Rev. Proc. 2013-15, which contains
inflation-adjusted items for 2013, as well as the new income tax rate
tables now in effect as a result of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of
2012, P.L. 112-240 (the Act). In October 2012, when the IRS issued its
usual end-of-the-year inflation
adjustment revenue procedure (Rev. Proc. 2012-41), it noted that many of
the items normally included would have to wait until Congress acted.
This release contains many of those items.

Among the inflation-adjusted amounts that have increased are the personal
exemption, which increased from $3,800 in 2012 to $3,900 for 2013, and
the standard deduction, which for married filing jointly status
increased from $11,900 in 2012 to $12,200 in 2013. In addition, the
adoption credit under Sec. 23 is inflation-adjusted from $12,650 in 2012
to $12,970 in 2013.

The revenue procedure also contains the  inflation-adjusted unified credit against the estate tax, which is $5.25  million for 2013.

The AMT exemption amount for 2013 is $80,800
for married taxpayers filing joint returns and $51,900 for single
taxpayers. The American Taxpayer Relief Act set the 2012 exemption
amounts at $78,750 for married taxpayers filing jointly and $50,600 for
single filers and indexed the numbers for inflation, so Congress will no
longer have to pass annual AMT “patches.”

The revenue  procedure provides the beginning income levels for the limitation on
certain itemized deductions and the beginning income levels for the
phaseout of personal exemptions, which were reinstated by the Act. It
also includes the 2013 amounts for the child tax credit; the Hope
scholarship, American opportunity, and lifetime learning credits; the
earned income credit; and the phaseout limits for interest paid on
qualified education loans.

One curious item in the  revenue procedure is the inclusion of the amount for the qualified
transportation fringe benefit for 2012. The Act retroactively reinstated
parity between the benefits for parking and for transportation in a
commuter highway vehicle or a transit pass for 2012 at $240 a month,
which the IRS notes in the revenue procedure. However, as a practical
matter, taxpayers have received their benefits for 2012, and it is
unclear what the mechanism would be to refund the tax paid on amounts
that would have been excluded from income under the higher $240 a month
level.