( release ) After you file your taxes, you will have many records that may help document items on your tax return. You will need these documents should the IRS select your return for examination. Here are five tips from the IRS about keeping good records.
Normally, tax records should be kept for three years.
Some documents — such as records relating to a home purchase or sale, stock transactions, IRA and business or rental property — should be kept longer.
In most cases, the IRS does not require you to keep records in any special manner. Generally speaking, however, you should keep any and all documents that may have an impact on your federal tax return.
Records you should keep include bills, credit card and other receipts, invoices, mileage logs, canceled, imaged or substitute checks, proofs of payment, and any other records to support deductions or credits you claim on your return.
For more information on what kinds of records to keep, see IRS Publication 552, Recordkeeping for Individuals, which is available on the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Nine Facts on filing an Amended Return
IRS Tax Tip 2011-72
An amended tax return generally allows you to file again to correct your filing status, your income or to add deductions or credits you may have missed.
Here are nine points the IRS wants you to know about amending your federal income tax return.
1. Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to file an amended income tax return.
2. Use Form 1040X to correct previously filed Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. An amended return cannot be filed electronically, thus you must file it by paper.
3. Generally, you do not need to file an amended return due to math errors. The IRS will automatically make that correction. Also, do not file an amended return because you forgot to attach tax forms such as W-2s or schedules. The IRS normally will send a request asking for those.
4. Be sure to enter the year of the return you are amending at the top of Form 1040X. Generally, you must file Form 1040X within three years from the date you filed your original return or within two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
5. If you are amending more than one tax return, prepare a 1040X for each return and mail them in separate envelopes to the appropriate IRS campus. The 1040X instructions list the addresses for the campuses.
6. If the changes involve another schedule or form, you must attach that schedule or form to the amended return.
7. If you are filing to claim an additional refund, wait until you have received your original refund before filing Form 1040X. You may cash that check while waiting for any additional refund.
8. If you owe additional 2010 tax, file Form 1040X and pay the tax before the due date to limit interest and penalty charges that could accrue on your account. Interest is charged on any tax not paid by the due date of the original return, without regard to extensions.
9. Form 1040X was recently redesigned. Previously the form consisted of three columns; Column A-Original amount, Column B-Net change, and Column C-Correct amount. The redesigned form now has just one column where the Correct Amount is the only figure entered, making it easier to make changes to previously filed returns.
Eight Things to Know If You Receive an IRS Notice
IRS Tax Tip 2011-73
Each year, the Internal Revenue Service sends millions of letters and notices to taxpayers for a variety of reasons. Here are eight things to know about IRS notices – just in case one shows up in your mailbox.
1. Don’t panic. Many of these letters can be dealt with simply and painlessly.
2. There are a number of reasons why the IRS might send you a notice. Notices may request payment of taxes, notify you of changes to your account, or request additional information. The notice you receive normally covers a very specific issue about your account or tax return.
3. Each letter and notice offers specific instructions on what you are asked to do to satisfy the inquiry.
4. If you receive a correction notice, you should review the correspondence and compare it with the information on your return.
5. If you agree with the correction to your account, then usually no reply is necessary unless a payment is due or the notice directs otherwise.
6. If you do not agree with the correction the IRS made, it is important that you respond as requested. You should send a written explanation of why you disagree and include any documents and information you want the IRS to consider, along with the bottom tear-off portion of the notice. Mail the information to the IRS address shown in the upper left-hand corner of the notice. Allow at least 30 days for a response.
7. Most correspondence can be handled without calling or visiting an IRS office. However, if you have questions, call the telephone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Have a copy of your tax return and the correspondence available when you call to help us respond to your inquiry.
8. It’s important that you keep copies of any correspondence with your records.
For more information about IRS notices and bills, see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process. Information about penalties and interest is available in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax (For Individuals). Both publications are available at http://www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Eight Facts on Penalties
IRS Tax Tip 2011-74
When it comes to filing a tax return – or not filing one - the IRS can assess a penalty if you fail to file, fail to pay or both. Here are eight important points the IRS wants you to know about the two different penalties you may face if you do not file or pay timely.
If you do not file by the deadline, you might face a failure-to-file penalty. If you do not pay by the due date, you could face a failure-to-pay penalty.
The failure-to-file penalty is generally more than the failure-to-pay penalty. So if you cannot pay all the taxes you owe, you should still file your tax return on time and explore other payment options in the meantime. The IRS will work with you.
The penalty for filing late is usually 5 percent of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month that a return is late. This penalty will not exceed 25 percent of your unpaid taxes.
If you file your return more than 60 days after the due date or extended due date, the minimum penalty is the smaller of $135 or 100 percent of the unpaid tax.
If you do not pay your taxes by the due date, you will generally have to pay a failure-to-pay penalty of ½ of 1 percent of your unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month after the due date that the taxes are not paid. This penalty can be as much as 25 percent of your unpaid taxes.
If you timely filed a request for an extension of time to file and you paid at least 90 percent of your actual tax liability by the original due date, you will not be faced with a failure-to-pay penalty if the remaining balance is paid by the extended due date.
If both the failure-to-file penalty and the failure-to-pay penalty apply in any month, the 5 percent failure-to-file penalty is reduced by the failure-to-pay penalty. However, if you file your return more than 60 days after the due date or extended due date, the minimum penalty is the smaller of $135 or 100% of the unpaid tax.
You will not have to pay a failure-to-file or failure-to-pay penalty if you can show that you failed to file or pay on time because of reasonable cause and not because of willful neglect.
The Taxpayer Advocate Service: Helping You Resolve Tax Problems
Tax Tip 2011-75
The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS. We help taxpayers whose problems with the IRS are causing financial difficulties; who have tried but have not been able to resolve their problems with the IRS; and those who believe an IRS system or procedure is not working as it should. Here are ten things every taxpayer should know about TAS:
1. The Taxpayer Advocate Service is your voice at the IRS.
2. Our service is free and tailored to meet your needs.
3. You may be eligible for our help if you have tried to resolve your tax problem
through normal IRS channels and have gotten nowhere, or you face (or your business is facing) an immediate threat of adverse action.
4. The worst thing you can do is nothing at all!
5. We help taxpayers whose problems are causing financial difficulty or significant cost, including the cost of professional representation. This includes businesses as well as individuals.
6. If you qualify for our help, we’ll do everything we can to get your problem resolved. You will be assigned to one advocate who will be with you at every turn.
7. We have at least one local taxpayer advocate office in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. You can call your local advocate, whose number is in your phone book, in Pub. 1546, Taxpayer Advocate Service – Your Voice at the IRS, and on our website at www.irs.gov/advocate. You can also call our toll-free number at 1-877-777-4778.
8. As a taxpayer, you have rights that the IRS must abide by in its dealings with you. Our tax toolkit at www.taxtoolkit.irs.gov can help you understand these rights.
9. TAS also handles large-scale or systemic problems that affect many taxpayers. If you know of one of these broad issues, please report it to us through our Systemic Advocacy Management System at www.irs.gov/advocate.
10. You can get updates on hot tax topics by visiting our YouTube channel at
www.youtube.com/TASNTA and our Facebook page at
www.facebook.com/YourVoiceAtIRS, or by following our tweets at
What Happens after I File?
IRS Tax Tip 2011-76
Now that the federal income tax filing deadline is in your rear-view mirror, what happens after you file? A lot of taxpayers have post tax-filing questions such as what records do I keep and more importantly, “Where’s my Refund?” The IRS has answers for you below.
You can go online to check the status of your 2010 refund 72 hours after IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return, or 3 to 4 weeks after you mail a paper return. Be sure to have a copy of your 2010 tax return available because you will need to know your filing status, the first Social Security number shown on the return, and the exact whole-dollar amount of the refund. You have three options for checking on your refund:
· Go to http://irs.gov, and click on “Where’s My Refund”
· Call 800-829-4477~24 hours a day, seven days a week, for automated refund information
· Call 800-829-1954 during the hours shown in your tax form instructions
· Use IRS2Go. If you have an Apple iPhone or iTouch or an Android device you can download an application to check the status of your refund.
What Records Should I Keep?
Normally, tax records should be kept for three years, but some documents — such as records relating to a home purchase or sale, stock transactions, IRAs and business or rental property — should be kept longer.
You should keep copies of tax returns you have filed and the tax forms package as part of your records. They may be helpful in amending already filed returns or preparing future returns.
Change of Address
If you move after you filed your return, send Form 8822, Change of Address, to the Internal Revenue Service. If you are expecting a paper refund check, you should also file a change of address with the U.S. Postal Service.
What If I Made a Mistake?
Errors may delay your refund or result in notices being sent to you. If you discover an error on your return, you can correct your return by filing an amended return using Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
Visit the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov for more information on refunds, recordkeeping, address changes and amended returns.