Here you'll find items of current interest — new programs, recent guidance or timely reminders.
Recent tax law changes have extended or changed many expiring tax law provisions, including:
- Treatment of mortgage insurance premiums as qualified residence interest
- Reduction in medical expense deduction floor
- Deduction of qualified tuition and related expenses
- Energy efficient homes credit
- Employer credit for paid family and medical leave
- Work opportunity credit
- Special rule for determining earned income
- Repeal of maximum age for traditional IRA contributions
- Increase in age for required beginning date for mandatory distributions
- Expansion of section 529 plans
For a complete list of affected tax law provisions see the Joint Committee on Taxation List of Expiring Tax Provisions 2020.
2020 Tax Filing Season
The IRS is now accepting and processing federal tax returns for tax year 2019. The deadline to file a 2019 tax return and pay any tax owed is Wednesday, April 15, 2020.
The IRS strongly encourages people to file their tax returns electronically and choose direct deposit for faster refunds. Filing electronically reduces tax return errors as the tax software does the calculations, flags common errors and prompts taxpayers for missing information.
Avoid the rush — February is the busiest period for calls to the IRS’ call center. It is also the peak time for visits to IRS offices for face-to-face tax help. The IRS reminds taxpayers that most answers to their tax questions can be quickly found on IRS.gov.
See the Avoid the rush page for the latest updates.
Free Tax Return Preparation/EITC
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. In addition to VITA, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors.
Many taxpayers that qualify for free tax return preparation may also qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Taxpayers earning $55,952 or less can see if they qualify using the EITC Assistant tool at IRS.gov/eitc available in English and Spanish,. The tool helps users determine if they are eligible and if they have a qualifying child or children, and it estimates the amount of the EITC they may get.
See the Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers page for more information.
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IRS Free File
Most taxpayers can get an early start on their federal tax returns as IRS Free File – featuring brand-name online tax providers − opens today at IRS.gov/freefile for the 2020 tax filing season.
Taxpayers whose adjusted gross income was $69,000 or less in 2019 – covering most people – can do their taxes now, and the Free File provider will submit the return once the IRS officially opens the 2020 tax filing season on January 27 and starts processing tax returns.
Taxpayer First Act
On July 1, 2019, The Taxpayer First Act of 2019 was signed into law, which aims to broadly redesign the Internal Revenue Service. Generally, the legislation aims to expand and strengthen taxpayer rights and to reform the IRS into a more taxpayer friendly agency by requiring it to develop a comprehensive customer service strategy, modernize its technology and enhance its cyber security.
See the Taxpayer First Act page for the latest updates.
The IRS is working on implementing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This new law includes major tax legislation that will affect both individuals and businesses. Check the Tax Reform page for the latest updates.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed the way tax is calculated. The IRS encourages taxpayers to perform a quick “paycheck checkup” by using the Withholding Estimator to check if they have the right amount of withholding for their personal situation.
Consumer Alerts on Tax Scams
Note that the IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
Is it Really the IRS Calling?
The IRS wants you to understand how and when we contact taxpayers and help you determine whether a contact you may have received is truly from an IRS employee.
The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.
However, there are special circumstances in which the IRS will call or come to a home or business, such as when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment, or to tour a business as part of an audit or during criminal investigations.
See Avoid scams: Know the facts on how the IRS contacts taxpayers for more information.
Private Debt Collection
The IRS began a new private collection program of certain overdue federal tax debts selecting four contractors to implement it. The groups are: CBE Group of Cedar Falls, Iowa; Conserve of Fairport, N.Y.; Performant of Livermore, Calif.; and Pioneer of Horseheads, N.Y. The taxpayer’s account will only be assigned to one of these agencies, never to all four. No other private group is authorized to represent the IRS.
The IRS will always notify a taxpayer before transferring their account to a private collection agency (PCA). The IRS will send a letter to the taxpayer and their tax representative informing them that their account is being assigned to a PCA and giving the name and contact information for the PCA. This mailing will include a copy of Publication 4518, What You Can Expect When the IRS Assigns Your Account to a Private Collection Agency (PDF).
Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)
FATCA refers to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act that requires reporting on specified foreign accounts by U.S. taxpayers and foreign financial institutions. In general, federal law requires U.S. citizens to report worldwide income, including income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and securities accounts.