FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Question: How do I notify the IRS my address has changed?
Answer: There are several ways to tell the IRS your new address: click here.
Question: What should I do if I noticed a mistake on my federal return that has already been filed?
Answer: It depends on the type of mistake. Many mathematical errors are caught during the processing of the tax return and corrected by the IRS, so you may not need to correct these mistakes. If you believe the filing status, your income, deductions, or credits must be corrected, please contact us so that we prepare an amended return for you. Please note: Generally, for a credit or refund, you must file an amendment within 3 years (including extensions) after the date you timely filed your original return or within 2 years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. Allow the IRS up to 16 weeks to process an amended return.
Question: Can I receive a tax refund if I am currently making payments under an installment agreement or payment plan for a prior year's federal taxes?
Answer: Generally, no. A condition of your installment agreement is that the IRS will automatically apply any refund due to you against taxes you owe. If your refund exceeds your total balance due on all outstanding liabilities including accruals, you will receive a refund of the amount over and above what you owe. Because your refund is not applied toward your regular monthly payment, you must continue making your installment agreement payments as scheduled and in full until your liability including accruing penalty and interest is paid in full. Regardless whether you are participating in an installment agreement or other payment arrangement with the IRS, you may not get all of your refund if you owe certain past-due amounts, such as federal tax, state tax, a student loan, or child support. For more information on these non-IRS refund offsets, you can call the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) at 800-304-3107 (toll-free).
Question: I lost my refund check. How do I get a new one?
Answer: If you have lost your IRS refund check, call the IRS at 800-829-1954 (toll-free) and either use the automated system or speak with an agent to initiate a refund trace. If you filed a married filing jointly return, you cannot initiate a trace using the automated systems. The IRS will issue you a Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund, to get the replacement process started or you can download the form on the IRS website.
Once your claim for a missing refund is processed, if the check was not cashed, you will receive a replacement after the original check is canceled. If the refund check was cashed, the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) will provide you with a claim package that includes a copy of the cashed check. BFS will review your claim and the signature on the canceled check before determining whether they can issue you a replacement check. The BFS review can take up to six weeks to complete.
Question: To qualify for head of household filing status, do I have to claim my child as a dependent?
Answer: In certain circumstances, you do not have to claim your child as a dependent to qualify for head of household filing status; for example, a custodial parent may be able to claim head of household filing status even if he or she released a claim to exemption for the child.
Question: How much does an unmarried dependent student have to make before he or she has to file an income tax return?
Answer: If you are an unmarried dependent student, you must file a tax return if your earned or unearned income exceeds certain limits. To find these limits, refer to Dependents under Who Must File, in Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information. Even if you do not have to file, you should file a federal income tax return if you can get money back (for example, you had federal income tax withheld from your pay or you qualify for a refundable tax credit).
Question: If the parents of a year-old child never married but live together with the child for the tax year, and both contribute to the cost of maintaining the household for the child and themselves, may they both file as head of household?
Answer: No, only one taxpayer may claim the child as a qualifying child for purposes of filing as head of household. A taxpayer filing as head of household must furnish over half the cost of maintaining the household. Therefore, only the parent who contributed more than one-half of the cost of maintaining the household may file as head of household. A tiebreaker rule determines which parent may claim the child as a qualifying child if both parents claim the child as a qualifying child.
Question: If I lived apart from my spouse from July 10 to December 31 but was not divorced or legally separated at the end of the year, can I file as head of household? Will my filing status allow me to claim a credit for childcare expenses and the earned income tax credit if I have a qualifying child?
Answer: You cannot file as head of household because you were married and were not considered unmarried at the end of the tax year. Unless legally separated, you are considered unmarried at the end of a tax year only if your spouse is not a member of your household for the last 6 months of the tax year. Your filing status for the year will be either married filing separately or married filing jointly. If you use the filing status of married filing separately, you may not claim the earned income tax credit or the credit for childcare expenses. If you file a joint return with your spouse, you may be eligible to claim these credits.
Question: My daughter was born at the end of the year. We are still waiting for a social security number. Can I file my return now and provide her social security number later?
Answer: If you file your return claiming your daughter as a dependent and do not provide her social security number on your return, the IRS will disallow the dependency exemption.
You have two options: (1) You could file your income tax return without claiming your daughter as a dependent. After you receive her social security number, you could then amend your return. Generally, you have three years after the date you filed your original return or two years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, to amend your return. (2) The other option is to file a Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. This option would give you an additional six months to file your return; by then you should have your daughter's social security number.
Question: My son was born on December 31. Can I claim him as a dependent and qualify for the child tax credit?
Answer: Yes, if your child was born alive during the year and the tests for claiming your child as a dependent are met, you may claim him as a dependent and take the full exemption. You may also be entitled to claim the Child tax credit and/or additional child tax credit, Head of household filing status, and Earned income tax credit.
Question: If I claim my daughter who is a full-time college student as a dependent, can she claim her own personal exemption when she files her return?
Answer: No, if you can claim an exemption for your daughter as a dependent on your income tax return, she cannot claim her own personal exemption on her income tax return.
Question: Is there an age limit on claiming my child as a dependent?
Answer: To claim your child as your dependent, your child must meet the qualifying child test or the qualifying relative test. To meet the qualifying child test, your child must be younger than you and as of the end of the calendar year, either be younger than 19 years old or be a student and younger than 24 years old, or any age if permanently and totally disabled. There is no age limit on claiming your child as a dependent if the child meets the qualifying relative test. In addition to meeting the qualifying child or qualifying relative test, you may claim a dependency exemption for your child as long as all of the following tests are met:
- Dependent taxpayer test
- Citizen or resident test, and
- Joint return test
Question: Must a partnership or corporation file a tax return even though it had no income for the year?
Answer: Partnerships and corporations have different standards for filing an income tax return.
- A domestic partnership must file an information return, unless it neither receives gross income nor pays or incurs any amount treated as a deduction or credit for federal tax purposes.
- A foreign partnership generally must file an information return if: it has gross income effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business within the United States, it has gross income derived from sources in the United States, or it or its U.S. partner is making an election, such as an election to amortize organization expenses.
- A domestic corporation (including a Subchapter S corporation) must file an income tax return whether it has taxable income or not, unless it is exempt from filing under section 501.
- A foreign corporation generally must file an income tax return if it engages in a trade or business in the United States, even if it has no income effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States during the taxable year, has income, gains or losses treated as if effectively connected with the conduct of a U.S. trade or business and subject to taxation under subtitle A of the Internal Revenue Code (relating to income taxes), or does not engage in a trade or business in the United States at any time during the taxable year but has U.S. source income, and the withholding at source under Chapter 3 of the Internal Revenue Code did not fully satisfy its taxation.
Question: I am a sole proprietor and pay personal expenses out of my business bank account. Should I include the money used for personal expenses as part of my business income? Can I write these expenses off?
Answer: You would include the money used to pay personal expenses in your business income when your business earned it. You would not write off these expenses as business expenses because they are not ordinary and necessary costs of carrying on your trade or business. Personal, living, or family expenses are generally not deductible. It is a good idea to keep separate business and personal accounts as this makes it easier to keep records.
Question: For business travel, are there limits on the amounts deductible for meals?
Answer: Meal expenses are deductible if your business trip is overnight or long enough that you need to stop for substantial sleep or rest to properly perform your duties. Meal expenses are also deductible if the meal is business-related entertainment. You can figure all your travel meal expenses using either of the following methods: (a) Actual cost. If you use this method, you must keep records of your actual cost. (b) The standard meal allowance, which is the federal meals and incidental expense (M&IE) per diem rate. The GSA website lists these rates by location. Note that lower rates apply for the first and last days of travel. (c) The deduction for unreimbursed business meals is generally subject to a 50% limitation.
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