Here are facts to help in filing 2013 income tax returns:
Tax filing deadline
April 15 is a Tuesday this year. Don’t forget this applies to Ohio taxes and municipal taxes, too.
You can get a six-month extension to Oct. 15 by filling out Form 4868 by April 15. You will owe interest on any taxes not paid by April 15.
Who must file
Being required to file a return depends on the type and amount of your gross income, filing status, age and whether someone is eligible to claim you as a dependent.
A taxpayer who is not the dependent of another taxpayer is required to file if his or her gross income exceeds certain dollar amounts (listed below).
In determining gross income, do not include Social Security benefits received.
Sometimes it is a good idea to file even though not required by law to do so because the filer might be eligible for a refund.
For example, you had income tax withheld from your pay; you qualify for the Earned Income Credit; or you qualify for the additional child tax credit.
If you worked during the year and had federal income tax withheld from your wages or made estimated tax payments, that potential refund can only be claimed by filing a federal tax return. By law, unclaimed refunds are forfeited to the U.S. Treasury after three years.
This year’s general filing requirements are:
• $10,000 (single);
• $11,500 (single age 65 or older);
• $12,850 (head of household);
• $14.350 (head of household, 65 or older);
• $20,000 (married filing jointly),
• $21,200 (married filing jointly with one age 65 or older);
• $22,400 (married filing jointly with both over 65);
• $3,900 (married filing separately);
• $16,100 (qualifying widow or widower);
• $17,300 (qualifying widow or widower age 65 or older).
• $6,100 for singles and married individuals filing separately;
• $8,950 for head of household;
• $12,200 for married filing jointly and qualifying widow(ers).
Additional deductions for those over 65 or blind: $1,500 for single or head of household and $1,200 for married/qualifying widow(er).
Free File offers a way that people of all income levels can prepare and file their federal income tax returns electronically and for free. If your income was $58,000 or less in 2013, you can access brand-name tax software to help you do your taxes. If your 2013 income was more than $58,000, you can access Free File Fillable Forms. Information is online at www.IRS.gov/freefile.
The refund clock starts ticking when the IRS receives and accepts your tax return. It will be much quicker if you e-file. You can generally expect the IRS to issue your refund within 21 calendar days after the return is received.
The IRS said it issued more than nine out of 10 refunds to taxpayers in less than 21 days last year. The same results are expected again.
Most filers have three options for receiving their federal refund:
• Direct deposit (electronic funds transfer) into a checking, savings or other account;
• Paper check;
• Purchase of U.S. Series I Savings Bonds.
You may request that your refund be directly deposited in up to three separate accounts, such as checking, savings and retirement, at banks or financial institutions in the United States. A split refund allows you to divide and direct deposit refunds in any proportion into different qualifying accounts.
Your refund should only be deposited directly into accounts that are in your own name, your spouse’s name or both if it’s a joint account.
To check on your refund, go to the “Where’s My Refund” section online at www.irs.gov or call 800-829-1954.
Here are phone numbers offering help:
• Individual tax assistance: 800-829-1040, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
• TTY/TDD (for hearing impairments): 800-829-4059.
• Tax forms: 800‑TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
• VITA and TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly) Hotline: 211 or 311 or VITA, 800-906-9887; and TCE, 888-227-7669.
• IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit: 800-908-4490.
• Business tax assistance: 800-829-4933.
• Taxpayer Advocate Service: 877-777-4778.
IRS forms, publications
Some area libraries may get a limited number of packets. Call ahead to inquire. The Akron-Summit County Public Library branches have received some forms, but not all yet. Forms may be printed online at home or at a library at www.irs.gov. Post offices no longer receive IRS packets. Forms can be ordered at 800-829-3676.
Call for help
The Beacon Journal is offering free reader advice call-in programs this week with tax professionals answering calls. The schedule is 6 to 8 p.m. today and Wednesday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. There will also be a live, online tax chat, where you can ask questions from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday on www.ohio.com.
The IRS website has links to a variety of topics and YouTube video tax tips and audio podcasts. You can also call 800-829-1040 for individuals and 800-829-4059 (TDD) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.
A number of money-saving tax credits are available for people with qualifying expenses. Here are some:
• The Child Tax Credit. The 2013 credit per qualifying child of $1,000 may be refundable for any taxpayer if it exceeds tax liability, with the refund generally limited to 15 percent of the amount of earned income that exceeds $3,000 up to the credit amount per child.
• The Earned Income Tax Credit. The IRS estimates that about 20 percent of people who are likely eligible for EITC lose out because they don’t claim it.
Earned Income and Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) must be less than: $46,227 ($51,567 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children; $43,038 ($48,378 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children; $37,870 ($43,210 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child; $14,340 ($19,680 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children;
The maximum credits available are: $6,044 with three or more qualifying children; $5,372 with two qualifying children; $3,250 with one qualifying child; $487 with no qualifying children.
The IRS has an online interactive tool to help you determine if you qualify: http://apps.irs.gov/app/eitc2013/
• Child/Dependent Care Credit: You may be able to claim the child and dependent care credit if you paid work-related expenses for the care of a qualifying individual. The credit is generally a percentage of the amount of work-related expenses you paid to a care provider for the care of a qualifying individual. The percentage depends on your adjusted gross income.
The total expenses that may be used to calculate the credit are capped at $3,000 (for one qualifying individual) or at $6,000 (for two or more qualifying individuals). The Child/Dependent Care Credit ranges from 35 percent (up to $15,000 adjusted gross income or AGI) to 20 percent (over $43,000 AGI).
• Changes in specific tax deductions. There are a few changes that directly apply only to those who itemize. For example, the baseline amount of medical and dental expenses has increased for most people. It used to be that you could deduct your medical and dental expenses that added up to more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income; now, if you or your spouse is 65 or older, you can deduct medical and dental expenses that are more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI), but younger people can deduct only the part of their medical/dental expenses that is more than 10 percent of their AGI.
Additionally, there’s a limit on itemized deductions. This limit is based on income and filing status. You may not be able to deduct all of your itemized deductions if your AGI is more than: $150,000 if married filing separately, $250,000 if single, $275,000 if head of household and $300,000 if any other filing status.
• Change regarding home-based offices: For self-employed workers, such as independent contractors and home-based businesses, there’s a simplified home office deduction method that’s new. Details can be found in IRS Publication 587.