Latest Tax News
Sometimes we see confusion about which filing status people should choose when filing their tax return. Did you know IRS.gov has an online application to help you decide? They do, it’s called What Is My Filing Status?
What You'll Need to Determine Your Filing Status
To use the What Is My Filing Status? tool, you will need to know:
• Marital status and spouse's year of death (if applicable).
• The percentage of the costs that your household members paid toward keeping up a home.
The tool is designed for taxpayers who are U.S. citizens or resident aliens for the entire tax year for which they're inquiring. If married, the spouse must also have been a U.S. citizen or resident alien for the entire tax year. For information regarding nonresidents or dual-status aliens, please see International Taxpayers.
Another resource to determine your status is the Form 1040 Instruction booklet.
Be Aware of Scams
It’s tempting, but don’t fall victim to scams that promise inflated refunds, based on incorrect filing statuses or anything else. Read this warning from the IRS.
Check here for the latest scam information and to learn how to report suspected activity, as well as abusive tax return preparers, especially if something seems to be too good to be true.
There are lots of options for help with filing tax returns. See our TAS Tax Tip on filing options.
Qualified taxpayers can get free help preparing and filing their tax returns through IRS Free File online or free tax help from trained volunteers at community sites around the country.
• Filing Information
• Here are facts to help taxpayers understand the different filing statuses
• Tax Trails - Filing Status of a U.S. Citizen or Resident Alien Married to a Nonresident Alien
• U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad - Head of Household
• Qualifying Child of More Than One Person
The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is your voice at the IRS. We take this statement seriously, as demonstrated by the work we do to help taxpayers resolve their tax problems. We do more than resolve problems, however. Part of our mission is to recommend changes that will prevent problems in the future. And in keeping with that part of our mission, we provide oversight and support for the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP), a federal advisory committee made up of citizens that listens to taxpayers, identifies major taxpayer concerns, and makes recommendations for improving IRS customer service and customer satisfaction.
The panel, established in 2002, consists of about 75 volunteers. To the extent possible, TAP members come from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. In addition, one member represents U.S. citizens working, living, or doing business abroad or in a U.S. territory other than Puerto Rico. To be a member of TAP, a person must be a U.S. citizen, be current with federal tax obligations, and pass a Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal background check. Members cannot be federally registered lobbyists. In addition, current Department of the Treasury and IRS employees cannot serve on the panel, and former Department of the Treasury or IRS employees and former TAP members must have a three-year separation from their service to be eligible for appointment. Tax practitioner applicants must be in good standing with the IRS (meaning not currently under suspension or disbarment).
The TAP is currently accepting applications for new members or alternates through March 30. New TAP members will serve a three-year term starting in December 2020. Applicants chosen as alternate members will be considered to fill any vacancies that open in their areas during the next three years.
If the TAP’s mission interests you, we invite you to apply to serve on the panel and help the IRS understand how it can better assist taxpayers. As the IRS works to understand how to do a better job of meeting taxpayer needs, it needs to hear directly from taxpayers – and that’s why the TAP is so important.
TAP members generally spend 200 to 300 hours per year identifying major taxpayer concerns and making recommendations to address them. The TAP’s six core Project Committees submitted 224 recommendations to the IRS in 2019.
Members of the TAP have a wide variety of backgrounds, such as health care, real estate, higher education, military service, and local government. You don’t need any knowledge of tax administration to serve – just a desire to improve the services and operations of the IRS. You can learn more about the TAP in this video or visit www.improveirs.org for more information, including details about the application process.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the Acting National Taxpayer Advocate. The Acting National Taxpayer Advocate presents an independent taxpayer perspective that does not necessarily reflect the position of the IRS, the Treasury Department, or the Office of Management and Budget.
Success Story: Taxpayer requests TAS assistance in challenging IRS audit disallowing EITC claim for her disabled child
Every year the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) helps thousands of people with tax problems. This story is only one of many examples of how TAS helps resolve taxpayer issues. All personal details are removed to protect the privacy of the taxpayer.
TAS advocated for a taxpayer who was audited by the IRS for two consecutive tax years. For numerous years, the taxpayer claimed Head of Household filing status and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) with her dependent adult grandson who meets the definition of “permanent and totally disabled.” The audits for each year were conducted by two different IRS offices. The first audit was closed without any change, allowing the taxpayer’s fiing status and tax credits claimed on the return as filed.
The second office conducting the latter year audit proposed disallowing the tax credits and deductions relating to the grandson. The IRS asserted that the taxpayer’s documentation did not adequately substantiate the residency and support criteria necessary to claim the child as a dependent and the EITC.
TAS successfully advocated for this taxpayer explaining to the IRS why the provided documentation was adequate. The IRS agreed and sent a corrected notice to taxpayer allowing the EITC and the dependency exemption for the taxpayer’s grandson on the latter year return.
When working with the Taxpayer Advocate Service, each individual or business taxpayer is assigned to an advocate who listens to the problem and helps the taxpayer understand what needs to be done to resolve their tax issue. TAS advocates will do everything they can to help taxpayers and work with them every step of the way. Occasionally we feature stories of taxpayers and advocates who work together to resolve complex tax issues. Read more TAS success stories.
Learn more about whether TAS can help you: TAS eligibility
Taxpayers and tax return preparers should be aware that the Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, changed again this year. Before you file a return, take a look at these filing-related resources and information to help you avoid errors and processing delays.
Revised 2019 Form 1040
Last year there were six new numbered schedule forms to go with Form 1040; for this year there are three. Follow the simplified “If you…then file” chart for what types of items are reported on each schedule.
- For Schedule A and the other lettered schedules, see Schedules for Form 1040.
- For more detailed information about what items get reported on the alphabetical schedules, you will need to go to the Schedules for Form 1040 or the Form 1040 Instruction booklet.
- The “What’s New” section of the Form 1040 Instructions provides a great starting point to see what else has changed this year.
New Form 1040-SR
Form 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors, is also new for 2019. You can use this form if you were born before January 2, 1955. The form generally mirrors Form 1040 but has larger text. Form 1040-SR uses the same schedules and instructions as Form 1040 does. For more information about Form 1040-SR, see the “About” page.
To see and order Form 1040, Form 1040-SR or other annual tax forms and schedules, visit the IRS Publications site.
IRS Filing Season Opens January 27, 2020
The 2019 filing season officially started January 27, 2020. Qualifying taxpayers can get free help preparing and filing tax returns through IRS Free File online or free tax help from trained volunteers at community sites around the country.
Before you file that tax return though, please read our Tax Tip article: Wait to receive your W-2 form or other income statements to file your tax return, and some of our other Tax Tips too.
Available IRS Help Resources
IRS tax help is available 24 hours a day on IRS.gov where people can find answers to tax questions and resolve many tax issues online. The Let Us Help You page answers many tax questions, and the IRS Services Guide (PDF) links to these and other IRS services. If you need to visit an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center, you must contact the office nearest you directly to make an appointment first.
The quickest way to get your refund is by choosing Direct Deposit.
The fastest and easiest way to track your refund is to use the Where's My Refund? tool on IRS.gov or download the IRS2Go app on your mobile device. You can also check the IRS’s What to Expect for Refunds web page for answers to frequently asked questions. The IRS When Will I Get My Refund? video provides details on what info you’ll need to check your refund status.
There are many types of issues, including the issuance of refunds, where the IRS itself can generally provide the service you need, without Taxpayer Advocate Service involvement.
Acting National Taxpayer Advocate Bridget Roberts talks taxes with Federal News Radio host Tom Temin. Roberts discusses IRS challenges and top issues impacting taxpayers.
“Everyday we are working to partner more and more with the IRS to try and come up with new and innovative ways to look at issues and solve problems before they impact taxpayers," says Roberts.
The number one issue she shares on the podcast is IRS Customer Service and its struggle to meet its mission of providing top quality service. Roberts also summarizes the top recommended legislative and operational changes which supports efforts to improve the IRS, as proposed in the 2019 Annual Report to Congress. Other tax issues the Acting National Taxpayer Advocate highlights in this podcast include the Taxpayer First act, aging IRS technology, lack of IRS funding and overall improvement of taxpayer's experience when dealing with the IRS.
"...even aside from the technology and funding, there needs to be a cultural shift within the IRS about how we approach our taxpayers and who we hire and how we train them and how do we respond to taxpayers when they are trying to get in touch with us and reach out and ask for help," Robert says.
Listen to the Federal Drive podcast session for the full interview: https://federalnewsnetwork.com/fral-drive/2020/01/acting-national-taxpayer-advocate-outlines-irs-challenges-to-congress.