Is this Income Taxable?

While most income you receive is generally considered taxable, there are some situations when certain types of income are partially taxed or not taxed at all.

To ensure taxpayers are familiar with the difference between taxable and non-taxable income, the Internal Revenue Service offers these common examples of items that are not included in your income:

  • Adoption Expense Reimbursements for qualifying expenses
  • Child support payments
  • Gifts, bequests and inheritances
  • Workers’ compensation benefits
  • Meals and Lodging for the convenience of your employer
  • Compensatory Damages awarded for physical injury or physical sickness
  • Welfare Benefits
  • Cash Rebates from a dealer or manufacturer

Some income may be taxable under certain circumstances, but not taxable in other situations. Examples of items that may or may not be included in your income are:

  • Life Insurance If you surrender a life insurance policy for cash, you must include in income any proceeds that are more than the cost of the life insurance policy. Life insurance proceeds, which were paid to you because of the insured person’s death, are not taxable unless the policy was turned over to you for a price.
  • Scholarship or Fellowship Grant If you are a candidate for a degree, you can exclude amounts you receive as a qualified scholarship or fellowship. Amounts used for room and board do not qualify.
  • Non-cash Income Taxable income may be in a form other than cash. One example of this is bartering, which is an exchange of property or services. The fair market value of goods and services exchanged is fully taxable and must be included as income on Form 1040 of both parties.

All other items—including income such as wages, salaries and tips—must be included in your income unless it is specifically excluded by law.

Seven Tax Tips for Disabled Taxpayers

Taxpayers with disabilities may qualify for a number of IRS tax credits and benefits. Parents of children with disabilities may also qualify. Listed below are seven tax credits and other benefits that are available if you or someone else listed on your federal tax return is disabled.

  1. Standard Deduction Taxpayers who are legally blind may be entitled to a higher standard deduction on their tax return.
  2. Gross Income Certain disability-related payments, Veterans Administration disability benefits, and Supplemental Security Income are excluded from gross income.
  3. Impairment-Related Work Expenses Employees, who have a physical or mental disability limiting their employment, may be able to claim business expenses in connection with their workplace. The expenses must be necessary for the taxpayer to work.
  4. Credit for the Elderly or Disabled This credit is generally available to certain taxpayers who are 65 and older as well as to certain disabled taxpayers who are younger than 65 and are retired on permanent and total disability.
  5. Medical Expenses If you itemize your deductions using Form 1040 Schedule A, you may be able to deduct medical expenses. See IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.
  6. Earned Income Tax Credit EITC is available to disabled taxpayers as well as to the parents of a child with a disability. If you retired on disability, taxable benefits you receive under your employer’s disability retirement plan are considered earned income until you reach minimum retirement age. The EITC is a tax credit that not only reduces a taxpayer’s tax liability but may also result in a refund. Many working individuals with a disability who have no qualifying children, but are older than 25 and younger than 65 do — in fact — qualify for EITC. Additionally, if the taxpayer’s child is disabled, the age limitation for the EITC is waived. The EITC has no effect on certain public benefits. Any refund you receive because of the EITC will not be considered income when determining whether you are eligible for benefit programs such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid.
  7. Child or Dependent Care Credit Taxpayers who pay someone to come to their home and care for their dependent or spouse may be entitled to claim this credit. There is no age limit if the taxpayer’s spouse or dependent is unable to care for themselves.

For more information on tax credits and benefits available to disabled taxpayers, see Publication 3966, Living and Working with Disabilities or Publication 907, Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilitiesavailable on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Free Tax Assistance for Members of the Military

The IRS wants military members and their spouses to know they may be eligible to receive free tax return preparation assistance. The U.S. Armed Forces participates in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and provides free tax advice, tax preparation, return filing and other tax assistance to military members and their families.

1. Armed Forces Tax Council The Armed Forces Tax Council oversees the operation of the military tax programs worldwide, conducting outreach with the IRS to military personnel and their families. The AFTC consists of tax program coordinators for the Marine Corps, Air Force, Army, Navy and Coast Guard.

2. Volunteer Tax Sites Volunteer assistors at Military-based VITA sites are trained to address military-specific tax issues, such as combat zone tax benefits and the new Earned Income Tax Credit guidelines.

3. What to Bring To receive this free assistance, you should bring the following records to your military VITA site:

  • Valid photo identification
  • Social Security cards for you, your spouse and dependents or a social security number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration
  • Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents
  • Current year’s tax package, if you received one
  • Wage and earning statement(s) — Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R
  • Interest and dividend statements (Forms 1099)
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state tax returns, if available
  • Checkbook to get routing number and account number for direct deposit
  • Total amount paid for day care and day care provider’s identifying number
  • Other relevant information about income and expenses

4. Joint returns If your filing status is Married Filing Jointly and you wish to file your tax return electronically, both you and your spouse should be present to sign the required forms. If it isn’t possible for both of you to be present, a valid power of attorney that allows tax preparation can be used to sign and file the return.

5. Special Exception There is a special exception to using a power of attorney for spouses in combat zones that permits the filing spouse to e-file a joint return with only a written statement setting forth that the other spouse is in a combat zone and is unable to sign.

Seven Things You Should Know About Checking the Status of Your Refund

Are you expecting a tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service this year? If so, here are seven things you should know about checking the status of your refund once you have filed your federal tax return.

1. Online Access to Refund Information Where’s My Refund? or ¿Dónde está mi reembolso? are interactive tools on IRS.gov and the fastest, easiest way to get information about your federal income tax refund. Whether you split your refund among several accounts, opted for direct deposit into one account, used part of your refund to buy U.S. savings bonds or asked the IRS to mail you a check, Where’s My Refund? and ¿Dónde está mi reembolso? give you online access to your refund information nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s quick, easy and secure.

2. When to Check Refund Status If you e-file, you can get refund information 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your return. If you file a paper return, refund information will generally be available three to four weeks after mailing your return.

3. What You Need to Check Refund Status When checking the status of your refund, have your federal tax return handy. To get your personalized refund information you must enter:

  • Your Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Your filing status which will be Single, Married Filing Joint Return, Married Filing Separate Return, Head of Household, or Qualifying Widow(er)
  • Exact whole dollar refund amount shown on your tax return

4. What the Online Tool Will Tell You Once you enter your personal information, you could get several responses, including:

  • Acknowledgement that your return was received and is in processing.
  • The mailing date or direct deposit date of your refund.
  • Notice that the IRS could not deliver your refund due to an incorrect address. In this instance, you may be able to change or correct your address online using Where’s My Refund?.

5. Customized Information Where’s My Refund? also includes links to customized information based on your specific situation. The links guide you through the steps to resolve any issues affecting your refund. For example, if you do not get the refund within 28 days from the original IRS mailing date shown on Where’s My Refund?, you may be able to start a refund trace.

6. Visually Impaired Taxpayers Where’s My Refund? is also accessible to visually impaired taxpayers who use the Job Access with Speech screen reader used with a Braille display and is compatible with different JAWS modes.

7. Toll-free Number If you do not have internet access, you can check the status of your refund in English or Spanish by calling the IRS Refund Hotline at 800-829-1954 or the IRS TeleTax System at 800-829-4477. When calling, you must provide your or your spouse’s Social Security number, filing status and the exact whole dollar refund amount shown on your return.

Refund checks are normally sent out weekly on Fridays. If you check the status of your refund and are not given the date it will be issued, please wait until the next week before checking back.
 
If the return was prepared by my office, you can check the status of your return by calling 866-730-2274 (or 866-931-1040 in Spanish) or going to my website http://www.nfsnet.com/ and clicking the Status of My Return in the Tax Prep Section.

Be Sure to Know Whether You Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit

The Earned Income Tax Credit, commonly referred to as EITC, can be a financial boost for working people adversely impacted by hard economic times. However, one in four eligible taxpayers could miss out on the credit because they don’t check it out. Here are the top 9 things the Internal Revenue Service wants you to know about this valuable credit, which has been making the lives of working people a little easier for 35 years.

  1. Just because you didn’t qualify last year, doesn’t mean you won’t this year. As your financial, marital or parental situations change from year-to-year, you should review the EITC eligibility rules to determine whether you qualify.
  2. If you qualify, it could be worth up to $5,657 this year. EITC not only reduces the federal tax you owe, but could result in a refund. The amount of your EITC is based on the amount of your earned income and whether or not there are qualifying children in your household. New EITC provisions mean more money for larger families.
  3. If you qualify, you must file a federal income tax return and specifically claim the credit in order to get it – even if you are not otherwise required to file.
  4. Your filing status cannot be Married Filing Separately.
  5. You must have a valid Social Security Number. You, your spouse – if filing a joint return – and any qualifying child listed on Schedule EIC must have a valid SSN issued by the Social Security Administration.
  6. You must have earned income. You have earned income if you work for someone who pays you wages, you are self-employed, you have income from farming, or – in some cases – you receive disability income.
  7. Married couples and single people without kids may qualify. If you do not have qualifying children, you must also meet the age and residency requirements as well as dependency rules.
  8. Special rules apply to members of the U.S. Armed Forces in combat zones. Members of the military can elect to include their nontaxable combat pay in earned income for the EITC. If you make this election, the combat pay remains nontaxable.
  9. It’s easy to determine whether you qualify. The EITC Assistant, an interactive tool available on IRS.gov, removes the guesswork from eligibility rules. Just answer a few simple questions to find out if you qualify and estimate the amount of your EITC.

Help is available at my office and we will figure the credit for you when we prepare your return.