While preparing for the 2014 tax-filing season, one of my clients received a notice from the IRS. It showed a balance of more than $1,200 due on her 2012 tax return, which made no sense because my client is meticulous about following instructions.
Despite the fact that the IRS had reduced my client’s balance to only $51 for late payment penalties and interest, and even though my client had already paid the balance, the payment stub on the IRS notice still asked for $1,200. What gives?
Here are three tax tips you should keep in mind for the upcoming tax season so that you will know how to handle the issues that this client and others have encountered.
1. Be on the lookout for incorrect notices.
Unfortunately, as my client learned first hand, you need to keep an eye out for erroneous IRS notices this year. This is becoming quite an issue for taxpayers.
Thoroughly and carefully read all IRS balance due notices very carefully. Within the notice itself, you may find the reduction due to applied payments or corrections. If you don’t carefully read any notice you receive, you could overpay.
2. Remember that many tax benefits have expired.
Editors note: While certain tax benefits expired at the end of 2013, they may still be taken in 2014 (for 2013 taxes). When filing your 2014 taxes (by April 15, 2015), these deductions may not be available unless the tax laws change.
Certain tax benefits expired at the end of 2013, including some for schoolteachers and homeowners. They include the $250 above-the-line deduction for elementary and secondary school teachers’ expenses, the $4,000 above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and fees, the deduction for state and local sales taxes, and the deduction for mortgage insurance premiums.
(Above-the-line deductions are expenses deducted from your gross income that result in your adjusted gross income, or AGI.)
It’s important to note that there are still deductions available. For example, the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit are still available, and you may still deduct state income taxes and certain foreign taxes.
Your mortgage interest is also still deductible, within limits. While the limits have not changed, the IRS has started to focus its audits on returns that appear to have deductions outside the limits, such as those that show interest deductions on loans of more than $1.1 million.
3. Understand that higher-income households could face new expenses.
If you are single and earning at least $200,000 or married and filing jointly with an income of $250,000, you will pay an extra 3.9 percent tax on net investment income. You will also pay an extra .9 percent Medicare tax on earned income, like wages or self-employment income.
Also, if you have any money overseas, you should be aware of the new Form 114. It replaces the old FBAR TD 90.22-1. The form is not available yet—hopefully it will be by the filing deadline of June 30, 2014—and you will have to file it electronically.
No matter what your income level or occupation, it’s important to be aware of tax changes that impact you. Consider contacting your tax pro for help, especially if you need clarification or are interested in learning about other new changes.
Eva Rosenberg, EA is the publisher of TaxMama.com ®, where your tax questions are answered. She is the author of several books and ebooks, including Small Business Taxes Made Easy. Eva teaches a tax pro course at IRSExams.com and tax courses you might enjoy athttp://www.cpelink.com/teamtaxmama.