Who Should File a 2013 Tax Return?

 

Do you need to file a federal tax return this year? Perhaps. The amount of your income, filing status, age and other factors determine if you must file.

Even if you don’t have to file a tax return, there are times when you should. Here are five good reasons why you should file a return, even if you’re not required to do so:

 

1. Tax Withheld or Paid.  Did your employer withhold federal income tax from your pay? Did you make estimated tax payments? Did you overpay last year and have it applied to this year’s tax? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you could be due a refund. But you have to file a tax return to get it.

2. Earned Income Tax Credit.  Did you work and earn less than $51,567 last year? You could receive EITC as a tax refund if you qualify. Families with qualifying children may be eligible for up to $6,044.

3. Additional Child Tax Credit.  Do you have at least one child that qualifies for the Child Tax Credit? If you don’t get the full credit amount, you may qualify for the Additional Child Tax Credit.

4. American Opportunity Credit.  Are you a student or do you support a student? If so, you may be eligible for this credit. Students in their first four years of higher education may qualify for as much as $2,500. Even those who owe no tax may get up to $1,000 of the credit refunded per eligible student.

5. Health Coverage Tax Credit.  Did you receive Trade Adjustment Assistance, Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance, Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance or pension benefit payments from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation? If so, you may qualify for the Health Coverage Tax Credit. The HCTC helps make health insurance more affordable for you and your family. This credit pays 72.5 percent of qualified health insurance premiums.

To sum it all up, check to see if you would benefit from filing a federal tax return. You may qualify for a tax refund even if you don’t have to file. And remember, if you do qualify for a refund, you must file a return to claim it.

IRS Warns of Tax-time Scams

It’s true: tax scams proliferate during the income tax filing season. This year’s season opens on Jan. 31. The IRS provides the following scam warnings so you can protect yourself and avoid becoming a victim of these crimes:

  • Be vigilant of any unexpected communication purportedly from the IRS at the start of tax season.
  • Don’t fall for phone and phishing email scams that use the IRS as a lure. Thieves often pose as the IRS using a bogus refund scheme or warnings to pay past-due taxes.
  • The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of e-communication, such as text messages and social media channels.
  • The IRS doesn’t ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential information for credit card, bank or other accounts.
  • If you get an unexpected email, don’t open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more about how to report phishing scams involving the IRS visit the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov.

Tips From the IRS for Taxpayers, Victims about Identity Theft and Tax Returns

Identity theft remains a top priority for the Internal Revenue Service in 2014. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes nationwide, and refund fraud caused by identity theft is one of the biggest challenges facing the IRS. This year, the IRS continues to take new steps and strong actions to protect taxpayers and help victims of identity theft and refund fraud.

Stopping refund fraud related to identity theft is a top priority for the tax agency. The IRS is focused on preventing, detecting and resolving identity theft cases as soon as possible. The IRS has more than 3,000 employees working on identity theft cases. We have trained more than 35,000 employees who work with taxpayers to recognize and provide assistance when identity theft occurs.

Taxpayers can encounter identity theft involving their tax returns in several ways. One instance is where identity thieves try filing fraudulent refund claims using another person’s identifying information, which has been stolen. Innocent taxpayers are victimized because their refunds are delayed.

Here are some tips to protect you from becoming a victim, and steps to take if you think someone may have filed a tax return using your name:

Tips to protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft

·         Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

·         Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.

·         Protect your financial information.

·         Check your credit report every 12 months.

·         Secure personal information in your home.

·         Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts.

·         Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.

If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost or stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity or credit report, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, extension 245 (Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. local time; Alaska and Hawaii follow Pacific time).

If you believe you’re a victim of identity theft

Be alert to possible identity theft if you receive a notice from the IRS or learn from your tax professional that:

·         More than one tax return for you was filed;

·         You have a balance due, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return;

·         IRS records indicate you received more wages than you actually earned or

·         Your state or federal benefits were reduced or cancelled because the agency received information reporting an income change.

If you receive a notice from the IRS and you suspect your identity has been used fraudulently, respond immediately by calling the number on the notice.

If you did not receive an IRS notice butbelieve you’ve been the victim of identity theft, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, extension 245 right away so we can take steps to secure your tax account and match your SSN or ITIN.

Also, fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039. Please write legibly and follow the directions on the back of the form that relate to your specific circumstances.

In addition, we recommend you take additional steps with agencies outside the IRS:

·         Report incidents of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.ftc.gov or the FTC Identity Theft hotline at 877-438-4338 or TTY 866-653-4261.

·         File a report with the local police.

·         Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus:

·         Equifax – www.equifax.com, 800-525-6285

·         Experian – www.experian.com, 888-397-3742

·         TransUnion – www.transunion.com, 800-680-7289

·         Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

More information is available at IRS.gov:

·         http://www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection-Tips

·         Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft -- http://www.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Guide-to-Identity-Theft

Help if you have reported an identity theft case to the IRS and are waiting for your federal tax refund

The IRS is working to speed up and further streamline identity theft case resolution to help innocent taxpayers.

The IRS more than doubled the level of employees dedicated to working identity theft cases between 2011 and 2012.  As the IRS enters the 2014 filing season, we now have more than 3,000 employees working identity theft issues.

These are extremely complex cases to resolve, frequently touching on multiple issues and multiple tax years. Cases of resolving identity can be complicated by the thieves themselves contacting the IRS. Due to the complexity of the situation, this is a time-consuming process. Taxpayers are likely to see their refunds delayed for an extended period of time while we take the necessary actions to resolve the matter. A typical case can take about 180 days to resolve, and the IRS is working to reduce that time period.

If you have an open identity theft case that is being worked by the IRS, you need to continue to file your tax returns during this period.

For victims of identity theft who have previously been in contact with the IRS and have not achieved a resolution to their case, you may contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free, at 800-908-4490. If you are unable to get your issue resolved and are experiencing financial difficulties, contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service toll-free at 877-777-4778.

 

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