The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released its annual inflation adjustments for many tax benefits applicable for tax year 2018 (returns filed in 2019). The standard deduction for taxpayers who are married filing jointly will increase slightly to $13,000; for single and separately filing married taxpayers, the standard deduction will also increase slightly, to $6,500. For tax year 2018, the foreign earned income exclusion is $104,100, up from $102,100 for tax year 2017. The annual exclusion for gifts increased to $15,000, an increase of $1,000 from the exclusion for tax year 2017.
According to the October 2017 newsletter of the California Franchise Tax Board, beginning in January 2018, California taxpayers will be able to e-file amended individual returns for tax year 2017 and later on a new Schedule X, California Explanation of Amended Return Changes. The Form 540X will be eliminated going forward, but you will still need to paper file Forms 540X to amend returns for prior tax years.
Sometimes when a taxpayer does not file a tax return, the IRS will estimate the amount owed and prepare a Substitute for Return (SFR). More specifically, IRS computers prepare the SFRs based on information the IRS receives from third parties, such as Forms W-2 and 1099. The IRS would then issue a letter to the taxpayer regarding the proposed deficiency with penalties added for late filing and late payment. Taxpayers could respond with information about deductions, credits, or errors and discuss the proposed deficiency with an IRS employee.
Certain partnerships that failed to file their required federal tax returns by the new, April 15th due date for tax years beginning with 2016 may be provided penalty relief, according to Internal Revenue Service Notice 2017-47. The calendar-year partnership due date was moved up from April 18th by the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015. If your partnership filed its returns with the IRS and provided appropriate copies to receipients by the historical due date, or requested an extension by that time, you may qualify for penalty relief. For more information, click here.
A group of private business owners have filed suit in a dispute with the IRS over reimbursement for their involvement in a sting operation to identify people filing fraudulent tax returns. "I think it is unusual for the IRS to use a private business in a sting operation," Betty Williams wrote. "If the plaintiffs are not made whole, this is simply a very sad story." Learn more in the Northern California Record, here.
The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) recently released an update on the current state tax filing season. The number of personal returns that were e-filed in 2017 increased by one percentage point as compared to 2016 (88% in 2017, and 87% in 2016). Some 133,400 people used CalFile to file returns this year, and 95% of CalFile users found that the program was easy to use and understand.
Ordinarily, the taxpayer has the burden of proving a tax return is accurate. But when the IRS has to produce documents, its record-keeping practices are lacking. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released a report on July 13, 2017, that found that the IRS' electronic record retention policies do not comply with certain Federal requirements that records remain retrievable and usable for the time period needed. For example, e-mail messages are not automatically archived for all IRS employees, and the manual methods used to counteract this gap are inadequate when computer hard drives are destroyed or damaged as media storage policies and tools change.
Each year, the IRS publishes statistical data regarding tax return filing, revenue collected and refunded, tax law enforcement, taxpayer assistance, and other important information. In fiscal year 2016, the IRS collected over $3.3 trillion and processed over 244 million tax returns and other forms. It also issued over $426 billion in tax refunds. To review the FY 2016 IRS Data Book, click here: https://www.irs.gov/uac/SOI-Tax-Stats-IRS-Data-Book
Remember: The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) changed the tax return due dates for returns filed by business entities. The original return date is now April 15 for calendar-year filers (one month later than it used to be), and the 15th day of the 4th month following the close of the taxable year for fiscal-year filers. The extended due dates remain unchanged.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) hopes that the estimated 1 million taxpayers due a refund for the 2013 tax year will file their delinquent returns by April 18, 2017 - the deadline for them to claim their share of more than $1 billion in potential refunds. In California alone, an estimated 97,200 taxpayers may be able to claim over $93 million, with a median expected individual refund of $696.