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IRS to Self-Employed Taxpayers: Use the Tax Withholding Estimator

IRS to Self-Employed Taxpayers: Use the Tax Withholding Estimator

According to the IRS, self-employed taxpayers should use the Tax Withholding Estimator when they perform their next “paycheck checkup.”

IR-2019-149 is the latest press release advertising the Tax Withholding Estimator, the agency’s newest online tool: “The estimator is an expanded, mobile-friendly online tool that replaced the Withholding Calculator, which since 2001 had offered workers an online method for checking their withholding.”

The IRS stressed that they needed to develop a new resource to help even more taxpayers manage their tax withholding: “The old calculator lacked features geared to self-employed individuals; the new estimator made changes to address this important group.”

Why Should Taxpayers Perform a Paycheck Checkup?

Tax withholding outreach was a focus of the IRS due to the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. As the IRS explains in Publication 5307, “the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed the way taxable income is calculated and reduced the tax rates on that income.” That meant “the IRS had to address and make changes to income tax withholding in response to the new law as soon as possible after it passed.”

Despite a year-long series of press releases reminding taxpayers that they might need to adjust withholding to address these changes, some tax professionals reported clients seeing surprise tax bills. Using the Tax Withholding Estimator is just one way taxpayers can avoid that problem, and accessing it is relatively easy.

How Does the New Tax Withholding Estimator Help Self-Employed Taxpayers?

The Tax Withholding Estimator helps self-employed taxpayers calculate their withholding by letting them enter information that wasn’t accepted by the old calculator: “The estimator allows a user to enter any self-employment income, including income from side gigs or the sharing economy, in addition to wages or pensions.”

Those who regularly used the old IRS Withholding Calculator will notice a number of improvements when they pull up the new Tax Withholding Estimator. Here’s the list provided by the IRS:

  • Plain language throughout to improve taxpayer understanding.
  • The ability to target either a tax due amount close to zero or a refund amount.
  • A new progress tracker to help a user know how much more information they need to enter.
  • The ability to go back and forth through the steps, correct previous entries, and skip questions that don’t apply.
  • Tips and links to help the user quickly determine if they qualify for various tax credits and deductions.
  • Automatic calculation of the taxable portion of any Social Security benefits.

Taxpayers concerned that they won’t pick the correct withholding form after getting the results of the estimator don’t need to worry. The IRS said that users will be given a link to the form corresponding to their entered information—Form W-4 for employees or Form W-4P for pensioners.

Source: IR-2019-149

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New Process Lets Expats get Square with IRS

New Process Lets Expats get Square with IRS

The Internal Revenue Service says it has new procedures in place that can help certain expatriated American taxpayers come into compliance with their U.S. tax obligations and get relief for back taxes.

Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens apply only to those individuals who have not filed U.S. tax returns as American citizens or residents, owe a limited amount of back taxes to the U.S. and have net assets of less than $2 million.

Lack of compliance by eligible taxpayers must not have been willful in order to take part in this program. The IRS acknowledges that many of the taxpayers in this group have lived outside the U.S. for most of their lives and my not even been aware they had American tax obligations.

To qualify for the program, the IRS says taxpayers have to file their missing tax returns as a first step:

“Eligible individuals wishing to use these relief procedures are required to file outstanding U.S. tax returns, including all required schedules and information returns, for the five years preceding and their year of expatriation. Provided that the taxpayer’s tax liability does not exceed a total of $25,000 for the six years in question, the taxpayer is relieved from paying U.S. taxes,” the IRS press release states.

Individuals who qualify for the procedure will not be assessed penalties and interest. These procedures are only available to individuals. Estates, trusts, corporations, partnerships and other entities are not eligible.

No specific termination date was issued for this new program, although the IRS says it will issue a closing date before it decides to shut the program down.

Taxpayers who relinquished their U.S. citizenship any time after March 18, 2010, are eligible – as long as they satisfy the other criteria of the new procedure.

Story provided by TaxingSubjects.com

Taxpayers can use 2018 tax return to estimate 2019 withholding amount

IRS Tax Reform Tax Tip 2019-121, September 4, 2019

Millions of people have filed their 2018 tax return, making this a prime time to consider whether their tax situation came out as expected. If not, taxpayers can use their finished 2018 return and the Tax Withholding Estimator to do a Paycheck Checkup ASAP and, if needed, adjust their withholding. Having their 2018 return handy can make it easier for taxpayers to estimate deductions, credits and other amounts for 2019. Performing a Paycheck Checkup is a good idea for anyone who:

  • Adjusted their withholding in 2018, especially those who did so later in the year.
  • Owed additional tax when they filed their tax return this year.
  • Had a refund that was larger or smaller than expected.
  • Had life changes such as marriage, childbirth, adoption, buying a home or income changes.

Since most people are affected by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act all taxpayers should check their withholding. They should do a checkup even if they did one in 2018. This especially includes taxpayers who:

  • Have children and claim credits such as the Child Tax Credit.
  • Have older dependents, including children age 17 or older.
  • Experienced changes to itemized deductions this year.
  • Itemized deductions in the past.
  • Are a two-income family.
  • Have two or more jobs at the same time.
  • Only work part of the year.
  • Have high income or a complex tax return.

This Tax Withholding Estimator works for most taxpayers. Those with more complex situations may need to use Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, instead of the Tax Withholding Estimator. This includes taxpayers who owe alternative minimum tax or certain other taxes, and people with long-term capital gains or qualified dividends.

Taxpayers can use the results from the Tax Withholding Estimator to see if they need to complete a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, and submit it to their employer. In some instances, the calculator may recommend they have an additional flat-dollar amount withheld each pay period. Taxpayers give this form to their employer and do not send this form to the IRS.

More information:

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Tax preparers can follow these simple steps to protect client data

Tax Tip 2019-122, September 5, 2019

Tax professionals and their employees can take steps to help prevent thieves from stealing sensitive data. Cybercriminals use phishing emails and malware to gain control of computer systems or to steal usernames and passwords.

Here are some simple steps that tax pros and their employees can take to protect their clients’ data. They should:

  • Use separate personal and business email accounts.
  • Protect email accounts with strong passwords and two-factor authentication if available.
  • Install an anti-phishing tool bar to help identify known phishing sites.
  • Use anti-phishing tools that are included in security software products.
  • Use security software to help protect systems from malware and scan emails for viruses.
  • Never open or download attachments from unknown senders, including potential clients. They should instead make contact first by phone.
  • Send only password-protected and encrypted documents when files must be shared with clients over email.
  • Not respond to suspicious or unknown emails.
  • Forward scams that are related to the IRS to [email protected].

All tax professionals should remember they must have a written data security plan. This is required by the Federal Trade Commission and its Safeguards Rule.

More information:

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Taxpayers can go to IRS.gov for answers to questions about payments and penalties

IRS Tax Tip 2019-123, September 9, 2019

Questions about tax payments and penalties come up all year long. Taxpayers can find most answers to these questions on IRS.gov. They can head over to the Let Us Help You page, which features links that take users to information and resources on a wide range of topics related to penalties and payments.

Payments

Payment options

  • This page lays out the different way taxpayers can pay what they owe, from having the payment taken directly from their bank account to using a credit card.

Payment plan

  • Taxpayers who cannot pay what they owe in full have options, which are explained on this page.

View your balance and payment history

  • Individual taxpayers can use this tool to check their account and see things like their payoff amount.

Liens and levies

These links explain what a lien and a levy are, and how taxpayers comply with them.

Resolve a dispute

The Office of Appeals is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers resolve their tax disputes. This page has links to information that will help taxpayers who received a notice saying their case qualifies to be reviewed by Appeals.

Prevent future tax bill

Taxpayers who owed more than expected when they filed this year have a couple options to help them avoid that when they file next year. These pages have more info about the options.

Penalties

These links take the user to information where they can find out more about topics related to penalties and penalty relief.

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