Unclaimed refund lying with IRS. Here is how to get your unclaimed refund?

Unclaimed refund lying with IRS. Here is how to get your unclaimed refund?

Unclaimed refund lying with IRS. Here is how to get your unclaimed refund?

Since 2016, there is more than $1.5 billion as outstanding refunds with the IRS which remains unclaimed.  This implies there might have been more than around one million taxpayers who may be qualifying to obtain tax refunds but did not file their income tax return.

In case, you are due for a tax refund you must file a federal income tax return to obtain your money.

A three-year window

According to the IRS, you have a window of three years within which you can file your tax return and would be able to claim any tax refund which is due. This window of three years begins on the original date when your return was due or the extended due date in case if you had filed for an extension. For the current year, this due date is 15th July 2020 or it is 15th October 2020 if an extension was filed by you.

In case, you miss out on this three-year window you would not be able to get back the money. The money will then belong to the US Treasury and you would have no right to claim the money anymore.

Why you might be having a refund due?

  • If in 2016, you were filing your federal tax return as a single taxpayer who was below the age of 65 years and had an income less than $6300 then you didn’t need to file the tax returns. You can consider that income tax has been deducted by your employer throughout the year and the IRS owes to return you that. Since you were not needed to file the federal tax return you had not filed which would have been of great interest to you.
  • Your income level in 2016 might be eligible to obtain a tax credit which can only be availed by filing a tax return. Due to your low or moderate-income level for the year 2016, it would be feasible that you might be eligible to obtain the EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit).

Below-mentioned are the income thresholds for 2016 and if your income for 2016 was below these limits, you would be eligible to obtain ETIC and can be done by filing tax returns by the 15th of July 2020. 

  1. For single individuals and having three or more qualifying children-$47955 whereas it is $53,505 for a married couple and filing the tax return jointly.
  2. For single individuals who are having two or more qualifying children-$44648 whereas it is $50,198 for a married couple and filing the tax return jointly. 
  3. For single individuals who are having one or more qualifying children-$39,296 whereas it is $44,846 for a married couple who are filing the tax return jointly.
  4. For single individuals having no qualifying children-$14,880 whereas it is $20,430 for a married couple who are filing the tax return jointly.
  • There are some other tax credits as well which you might be qualifying to claim for 2016 such as Adoption credit, Additional child tax credit, health coverage tax credit, American opportunity credit, etc.
  • You would be able to obtain tax credits and other tax breaks only when you file your federal income tax return. No penalty is charged for failing to file the tax return when you already have a penalty due. 

How will you get back your refund?

To get back your refund, you will need the forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or Form 5498 from the year 2016. In case, you do not have these old forms you can place requests for copies of these forms with your employer, bank, or other payers. You can also the IRS tool i.e. Get Transcript Online tool on the website of the IRS where you would be able to obtain your free wage and income transcript. You might need a copy of the Form 1040, Form 1040A or Form 1040EZ from the year 2016. You can easily obtain these forms and necessary instructions on the IRS.gov Forms and Publications page.

If you have money to be paid back for student loans, any back taxes, or child support then the refund amount would be offset for the tax amount you owe to pay. Moreover, if you have not filed your tax returns for the year 2017 or 2018 then it is quite probable that the IRS would hold back your tax refund.

Conclusion

Hence, this is your chance to claim your refunds back and you should not miss this opportunity failing which the money would belong to the IRS forever.

All you need to know about an expected delay in tax refunds in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic

All you need to know about an expected delay in tax refunds in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic

All you need to know about an expected delay in tax refunds in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic

In response to the outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19, the Federal Government had delayed the deadline for filing Federal tax returns and for tax payment as well. However, it was advised that if you had to receive a refund from the IRS then it would be wise to file the tax returns soon. Due to the coronavirus and the social distancing norms, it was not only difficult for the taxpayers to prepare and file the returns but also for the IRS staff to process the refunds.

In these difficult times, it is always good to have some additional cash and everyone needs this additional amount but the tax refunds for 2020 would be delayed. 

IRS Operations with a reduced workforce

The IRS offices were closed across the entire country and it was operating with limited staff and resources. The most important task which the IRS has been doing in the past two months was the issuing of Coronavirus Stimulus Payment to around 150 million Americans which can be termed as a “mission-critical” function.

Due to the outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19, the IRS had limited the services it was rendering. The live phone help has been suspended and even the Taxpayer Assistance Centers were closed. Still, the official webpage of the IRS says that they have been carrying out the critical functions pro-actively. Specifically, the IRS has been processing Federal tax returns and issuing refunds to the Americans even with limited staff. From 1st June 2020, many IRS staff members would have returned to their offices for performing those tasks which cannot be done from home. These staff members on resuming work would begin with the backlog of work they have which would mainly consist of processing tax returns and issuing refunds to the people.

Method of tax return filing – Reason for delay

According to the IRS, the fastest method by which you can receive your tax returns on time is by filing your tax returns electronically. Most of the taxpayers who would use the e-filing method and would choose Direct Deposit would receive their tax refunds within 21 days of the filing. However, there would be delays in obtaining tax refunds by those taxpayers who would opt for the paper return method.

More than 10% of the American population still uses the paper method for filing their tax returns. The closure of the IRS offices means that IRS would not be able to process those returns which have been mailed in. So, when the processing of returns would be delayed then obtaining a refund would also be delayed.  Currently, it is unclear as to by when the IRS would be resuming the processing of those returns which have been filed by paper.

According to several reports, by 1st May 2020, the IRS had received around 125 million Federal Tax returns and it had processed 113 million tax returns approximately. There has been a 7.2% drop in the refund processing rate of the IRS due to the pandemic COVID-19.  However, the average tax refund this year is $2973 and the IRS says that it does not expect any delay in issuing the outstanding refund requests as well.

Tax Refund Status

Usually, the tax refunds are issued to the taxpayers within less than 21 days of filing the tax returns. You would be able to track the status of your Federal Tax refund on the official website of the IRS after 24 hours of filing the tax returns.

The three important things needed for checking your Federal Tax refund status are

  1. Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number
  2. The exact amount that would be refunded
  3. Your filing status

Other causes for tax refund delays

Apart from the coronavirus, there can be some other reasons which would cause a delay in the process of obtaining tax refunds. In case, you have filed your tax returns too early and have claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit then you will have to wait longer there might also be a delay if you have filed your federal tax returns either faster or later.Moreover, other causes for delay in obtaining your tax returns could be due to wrong Social Security Number, incorrect bank account number, misspelling of your name, wrong calculations or you have outstanding debts such as back taxes, child support, or Federal Student Loan, etc.

You can keep a tab on your Income-tax refunds by checking your Tax Refund Status regularly and understanding the details associated with tax refunds.

Top #10 things to know about IRS and its working amidst the pandemic

Top #10 things to know about IRS and its working amidst the pandemic

Top #10 things to know about IRS and its working amidst the pandemic

The outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19 has brought a tough time for everyone. With the economic lives of people being hugely affected due to the coronavirus, the US Government has taken various steps for providing relief to the Americans.The Coronavirus Stimulus Package under the CARES Act is one such major step taken by the Federal Government which would be of certain help to the Americans for dealing with financial issues arising due to the pandemic.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been playing a major role in the implementation of the various tax laws which have been passed recently by the Federal Government. Along with the normal course of operational activities of the IRS associated with filing of tax returns and their processing, it is also working tirelessly towards the determination and distribution of the Stimulus payments to the eligible taxpayers.

Let us have a look at the major 10 things which we should know about the operations and working of the IRS during the outbreak of COVID-19.

a.Information Center for all queries

The official website of the IRS i.e. IRS.gov/coronavirus is the first place where the taxpayers can find answers to all of their queries related to tax returns and stimulus payments.All updates associated with tax returns processing and stimulus package would be posted by the IRS therein this website. The taxpayers should avoid calling up the IRS and check out the IRS.gov/coronavirus website for tax updates amidst the pandemic. 

b.Limited live assistance from IRS

The phone lines of the IRS and the Assistance Centers for taxpayers are to be non-functional for an infinite period.The IRS hotlines including service as well as compliance hotlines such as automated under reporter, collection functions, etc. are not operational for long. Moreover, the IRS has suspended all compliance activities related to tax such as audit and collection till 15th July 2020.So, taxpayers and tax professionals should not worry about missing the tax deadlines. The Local Taxpayer Assistance Centers are also not operational currently. 

c.All audits to be put on hold

The IRS has announced that all new audits have been suspended and would resume only after 15th July 2020. But, it is quite obvious for the taxpayers to expect that the IRS must utilize the audit power it has to prevent the erroneous tax refunds.The IRS would be filing filters that would help in stopping suspicious refunds such as Earned Income Tax Credit Returns, suspected identity theft returns, etc. till the taxpayers would be able to verify the returns.So, this freezing of the refund audits will continue and would be troublesome for taxpayers as they will not be receiving any prompt response from the IRS.Moreover, taxpayers can take advice from the local Taxpayer Advocate Service Office in case of facing any queries due to the withholding of audits and refunds.

d.Temporary respite if a taxpayer owes tax

The IRS has halted the enforcement of any tax collection till 15th July 2020. Moreover, all the pending collection alternatives by the IRS and any offers related to compromises in tax laws are also on hold till 15th July 2020. According to the provisions of the People First Initiative, liens, levies, and any restrictions on passport have also been put on hold.

e.Difficulty in reaching out to the IRS even after COVID-19 is over

The IRS would even have its phone lines and hotlines non-functional after the pandemic is over.After the normal operations start, the resources of the IRS would be occupied with the backlog of tax filing issues and people trying to contact the IRS for other tax filing assistance. However, the IRS would be providing other means such as email or e-fax by which taxpayers would submit their documents.

f.Tax returns are still being processed by the IRS

The stimulus payments are being processed by using the information related to the tax returns of 2019 or 2018. If an individual has not filed his tax returns for 2019 or 2018, then this is the right time to do it now. The returns can be e-filed easily and can get accepted in a day without any inconvenience.

 

g.No requirement of monthly installment agreement payment

 Under the provisions of the “People First Initiative”, the IRS has announced that taxpayers can skip their monthly installment payment during the period of 1st April 2020 to 15th July 2020. This would not be considered as a tax payment default by the IRS.

 

h.Account-related queries can be sorted by IRS transcripts

Taxpayers can obtain their transcripts by creating an IRS account online, review these transcripts and get solutions to any queries related to issues like previous AGI, amount of penalty, amount of estimated tax payments, etc.

i.Any hardship-TAS can be reached

Any taxpayer facing financial hardships and having a hold on their tax refunds can contact their local advocate for suggestions. However, the central TAS hotline would remain closed.

j.Stimulus payment will not be used by IRS tax collectors

The IRS has made it clear that it would not use the stimulus payment of any individual for paying off of any tax debt owed by the individual taxpayer.Hence, the IRS is playing a commendable role in helping the common people in improving their economic lives during this difficult time.

References

https://www.accountingtoday.com/list/10-things-to-know-about-irs-operations-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic

https://taxfoundation.org/coronavirus-tax-tracker-covid19/

 

 

 

Top #5 things to know about the 2020 IRS Form-W4

Top #5 things to know about the 2020 IRS Form-W4

Top #5 things to know about

the 2020 IRS Form-W4

Employees need to fill the IRS Form-W4 to intimate their employers about the amount which must be withheld from their paychecks. This amount which is to be withheld usually depends upon the filing status, tax credits, dependents, and deductions of an employee. In case the IRS Form-W4 of an employee is not filled correctly, then the employee might owe paying tax while filing tax returns.

The IRS has designed the new 2020 IRS Form-W4 by closely working with the payroll and tax community to help the taxpayers. By the new IRS Form-W4, taxpayers would be able to find out their correct withholding value. There have been various changes such as a reduction in the tax rates, changes in itemized deductions, the introduction of other dependent credits, etc. which led to the revamping of IRS Form-W4 in 2020.

Major 5 things to know about the 2020 IRS Form-W4

Major 5 things to know

about the 2020 IRS Form-W4

1.Different versions of Form-W4 on file

All the employees don’t need to fill the 2020 IRS Form-W4. The IRS has also designed withholding tables which can function with the new 2020 IRS Form-W4 and the previous versions of the Form W4. 

The revamped 2020 IRS Form-W4 must be filled in by the below-mentioned employees.

  • Those employees who have been newly hired in 2020 or 
  • Those who are willing to change their withholdings in 2020

2. The layout is completely different with new tax withholding tables

The layout of the 2020 IRS Form W4 looks completely different from systematic division into five steps and forms an entire page.

  • The first step would contain the entry of personal information and the anticipated filing status of an individual.
  • The second step is necessary for those employees who have either more than one job at a time or is married with working spouse and filing returns jointly.
  • In the third step, the child tax credit and credit for other dependents can be determined that can be claimed while filing returns.
  • This fourth step provides instructions for determining any other estimated income of the year, deductions other than standard deductions, and any other additional tax which the employee wants to be withheld.
  • The last step contains the employee’s signature and date below the penalties of perjury. 

Moreover, two new tables align with the new IRS Form-W4.

  • For Automated Payroll Systems, percentage method tables can be used.
  • For Manual Payroll Systems, wage bracket method tables can be used.

3. Personal withholding allowances are eliminated

This is the most important change in the IRS Form-W4 which distinguishes itself from Form-W4 of 2019. Previously, withholding allowances were used by employers for the determination of the income tax withholding.  Personal withholding allowances are the exemptions from the Federal Income Tax and the more allowances an employee claim the less amount would be withheld from his wages for income tax. However, now employees can easily claim dependents or other deductions on Form W4 rather than claiming withholding allowances for the reduction of federal income taxes.

 

4.Additional Adjustments

The fourth step of the 2020 IRS Form-W4 is associated with the additional adjustments that can be made. However, this step is optional and would be feasible in instances such as

  • Adjustments for additional withholding can be made if there are other income sources like retirement income or any income from dividends.
  • The withholdings can be reduced in this section if any such deductions are different from standard deductions like interest on a student loan, any additional tax deductions, etc.
  • Any additional income tax can be entered such as any amount which can be deducted from paychecks including any amount which needs adjustments.

5.Importance on dependents and other tax credits

The 2020 IRS Form-W4 helps employees in indicating if they are eligible for availing the Child Tax credit and any other dependent credits. Employees who are interested in the actual refining of their withholding amount more accurately can also include additional credits such as Education tax credits. These credits can be included in the Form W4 by Step 3 of the Five-Step Process. 

Hence, it can be said that the new Form-W4 can be filled if there are any changes in the financial situation of an individual. 

 

Key Take-away from the IRS’ announcement on “cross-border tax guidance related to travel disruptions arising from the COVID-19 emergency”

Key Take-away from the IRS’ announcement on “cross-border tax guidance related to travel disruptions arising from the COVID-19 emergency”

Key Take-away from the IRS’ announcement on “cross-border tax guidance related to travel disruptions arising from the COVID-19 emergency

Due to huge adverse impacts being created by the outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19, social distancing and restrictions on the travel of people residing in the US have been imposed by the US Government.  These restrictions imposed on the travel of the people residing in the US are sure to raise queries on the taxation policies and guidelines.

The IRS and the Treasury Department of the US have together issued tax guidelines which would help provide some relief to those people/businesses which have been impacted by these travel restrictions imposed due to COVID-19.

The major highlights of this tax guidance can be listed below.

  1. Revenue Procedure 2020-20
  2. Revenue Procedure 2020-27
  3. An FAQ

The Highlights Of This Tax Guidance

1.Revenue Procedure 2020-20

The Revenue Procedure 2020-20 provides the guidance that under specific circumstances up to a period of 60 consecutive calendar days of presence in the US due to travel disruptions caused because of COVID-19 would not be counted for determination of the US Tax Residency and for other purposes such as qualification for tax treaty benefits for income obtained from the personal services that have been performed in the US.

a.The pandemic COVID-19 has affected the travel plans of many foreign travelers who had planned to leave the US. Even though foreign travelers who test negative for COVID-19 are not being able to leave the US due to cancelation of flights, border closures, and other disruptions.

b.An alien individual would be considered as a US resident for a year under the substantial presence test in the calendar year if

  • The individual has been present in the US on at least 31 days during the tested calendar year.
  • The sum of the number of days of presence in the tested calendar year plus one-third of the number of days of presence in the previous calendar year plus one-sixth of the number of days of presence in the second preceding calendar year equal to 103 days or more. 

c.Medical condition exception means an alien individual would not be considered as present in the US on those days when he intended to leave the US but was not able to do so due to serious medical condition which arose when the person was in the US.

d.Those individuals who are claiming the Medical Condition Exception need to file the Form 8843, Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition for filing Form 1040-NR. However, under certain circumstances, the need for timely file Form 8843 might be not taken into consideration.

e.The COVID-19 emergency would be considered as a Medical Condition Exception while determining his eligibility for treaty benefits and revenue procedures. For revenue procedure, an individual would be considered to have intended to leave the country unless he has applied for becoming a resident of the US. Also, for obtaining treaty benefits an individual would be presumed to be unable to leave the country during the period of COVID-19.

2.Revenue Procedure 2020-27

The IRS and the Department of Treasury have provided a waiver of the time requirements for revenue procedure and eligibility for treaty benefits. This Revenue procedure provides the qualification for being excluded from gross income under the IRC Section 911 and would not be impacted because of the days spent away from a foreign nation due to COVID-19.

a.A qualified individual can elect to exclude from the gross income of the individual’s foreign earned income and the housing cost amount.

b.The IRS and the Treasury Department have determined that the COVID-19 is an emergency. For IRC Section 911, an individual who had left China on/ after 1st December 2019, or any other foreign nation on/after 1st February 2020, but on/ before 15th July 2020, would be considered as a qualified individual concerning the period during which he was present in, or was a bona fide resident of, that foreign nation if the individual can establish an expectation that he would have met the requirements of the IRC Section 911 for COVID-19 emergency.

c.To qualify for relief for the revenue procedure, an individual must have been physically present, in the foreign nation on/ before the applicable date specified for this revenue procedure. An individual who was physically present or in China after 1st December 2019 or another foreign nation after 1st February 2020 would not be eligible to use this revenue procedure.

d.Individuals trying to qualify for the section 911 foreign earned income exclusion as they have been expected to be present in a foreign country for 330 days for the outbreak of COVID-19 and have met the other 4 requirements for qualification may use any 12 months to meet the qualified individual requirement.

3.FAQ

FAQ specifies that specific business activities which are conducted by foreign corporations or by a non-resident alien will not be considered in the 60 consecutive calendar days for determination if the individual or the business is engaged in some US business or has a permanent establishment in the US only if those business activities would not have been conducted in the US due to the travel disruptions caused due to COVID-19.

Hence, these tax guidelines framed by the IRS are also being continuously monitored by the IRS and the Treasury Department. Taxpayers can visit the IRS website and obtain further information related to this.

References

  1. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/treasury-irs-announce-cross-border-tax-guidance-related-to-travel-disruptions-arising-from-the-covid-19-emergency
  2. https://www.orbitax.com/news/archive.php/U.S.-Treasury-and-IRS-Issue-Cr-41872

 

 

How does the coronavirus stimulus package help the NRIs in the US?

How does the coronavirus stimulus package help the NRIs in the US?

How does the coronavirus stimulus package help the NRIs in the US?

The US Government has passed and signed a $2 trillion coronavirus bill otherwise known as the CARES Act. This is one of the largest emergency aid packages in the history of the country which has led to most of the taxpayers in the country receiving stimulus checks. These stimulus checks have helped in reducing the plight of the coronavirus affected Americans up to some level.

Along with the provision of all Americans receiving stimulus checks, this bill also includes $500 billion as loans for the struggling businesses, $150 billion for the local and state governments, $377 billion as grants for small businesses and $130 billion for the hospitals which are dealing with a very difficult situation as of now. To date, the IRS has sent around 140 million stimulus checks to the Americans who qualify for receiving the package.

Eligibility for receiving the Stimulus package

Major Queries

One of the major queries troubling the minds of the common people is what are the qualifying criteria for obtaining the Stimulus package? Are the NRIs living in the US eligible to obtain the Stimulus package or not? 

All the US residents qualify to receive the Stimulus package as long as they possess a work-eligible Social Security Number (SSN) and can meet the income specific requirements.

a. The IRS will be determining the eligibility of an individual for the Stimulus package based on his adjusted gross income (AGI) on his 2019 tax return or 2018 tax return if not filed for 2019 yet.

b.The residents of the country who are filing their tax returns as individuals and have an AGI less than $75,000 would receive an amount of $1200 whereas residents who are married and are filing their tax returns jointly having an AGI less than $150,000 would receive an amount of $2400 as Stimulus payment.

c.An additional amount of $500 can be claimed for each dependent child who is below the age of 17 years, has been claimed in the tax returns of 2019 or 2018, and satisfies the other qualifying criterion.

d.Residents of the US who have nontaxable income such as Social Security benefits or Railroad benefits, etc. also qualify for receiving the Stimulus payment. These individuals do not need to file tax returns for obtaining Stimulus payment.

e.Residents filing tax returns as singles and having an AGI in between $75,000 and $99,000 would have their stimulus amount reduced by $5 for each $100 increase in the AGI above $75,000. Similarly, for married couples who have filed their returns jointly and have an AGI above $150,000 will have a reduction of $5 in their stimulus amount for every $100 increase in the AGI above $150,000.

Use of the Stimulus payment by NRIs in the US

a. The usefulness of the Stimulus payment obtained by the NRIs in the US depends upon various scenarios.

With the impact of the dreadful COVID-19 spreading rapidly across the US, many Americans have lost their jobs and livelihood. Businesses are being closed down and millions of workers across the country have become jobless. The Stimulus package announced by the Federal Government would include a weekly pay boost of $600 which is funded federally for the unemployed along with the regular State unemployment benefits.

However, for the NRIs in the US, there are no provisions to avail of the general state unemployment credit. So, if an NRI in the US loses his job during this pandemic it is difficult for him to manage his finances in the lockdown. The Stimulus package would be the savior for the NRIs at this point and can be used to meet the various financial needs.

b.In case an NRI in the US is into a profession where he would not be able to work from home during the corona times. NRI workers/employees from several industries such as Non-IT, retail, hospitality, restaurants, live entertainment, nightlife, etc. cannot perform their operations from home and thus, experience a partial or complete layoff from work. This would affect the livelihood and finances of the NRIs and the Stimulus checks can be used at this instance.

c.Moreover, since the pandemic COVID-19 is spreading widely across the country; an NRI might experience the situation of his family member or close relative being affected by the disease. In such a scenario, for availing the medical facilities good financial backup is necessary. The amount received by NRIs through the Stimulus package can be utilized for availing good medical facilities for their family members

References

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/01/whos-eligible-for-covid-19-stimulus-checks-your-questions-answered.htm

lhttps://www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2020/04/28/real-stories-of-filing-for-unemployment-during-covid-19/#7b11b36715dd

https://www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2020/03/25/what-you-need-to-know-about-expanded-unemployment-benefits-for-covid-19/#3e56a0436e4a

https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-03-27/who-qualifies-for-the-stimulus