David Kirkpatrick

March 25, 2010

IRS “open house” for tax help this Saturday

News straight from the source:

More than 180 Local IRS Offices Open this Saturday to Help Taxpayers

IR-2010-36, March 24, 2010

WASHINGTON — The IRS announced today that Internal Revenue Service offices will be open, nationwide, on Saturday, March 27 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., local time to help taxpayers. The location of participating offices is listed on IRS.gov.

“We are holding these special open houses to give taxpayers who are struggling in these difficult economic times more opportunity to work directly with IRS employees to resolve their tax issues,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman.  “We will host more than 180 open houses this Saturday.”

During the expanded open-house hours on Saturday, taxpayers will be able to address economic hardship issues, make payment arrangements or get help claiming any of the special tax breaks in last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, including the:

  • Homebuyer tax credit – a refundable credit equal to 10 percent of the purchase price up to a maximum of $8,000 ($4,000 if married filing separately). A first-time homebuyer is an individual who, with his or her spouse if married, has not owned any other principal residence for three years prior to the date of purchase of the new principal residence for which the credit is being claimed.
  • American Opportunity Credit — a federal education credit to offset part of the cost of college under the new American Opportunity Credit. This credit modifies the existing Hope credit for tax years 2009 and 2010, making it available to a broader range of taxpayers. Income guidelines are expanded and required course materials are added to the list of qualified expenses. Many of those eligible will qualify for the maximum annual credit of $2,500 per student.
  • Making Work Pay credit — In 2009 and 2010, the Making Work Pay provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide a refundable tax credit of up to $400 for working individuals and up to $800 for married taxpayers filing joint returns.
  • Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit – there is now a new tax classification for EITC recipients who have three or more children and a higher credit amount – up to $5,657

In addition to IRS help, community organizations partner with the IRS. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs assist people who earned $49,000 or less and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs assist individuals 60 and over with their 2009 income tax return preparation and electronic filing.   Many of these sites have Saturday hours while others offer assistance at various times during the week.  To locate the partner sites in this area call 1-800-906-9887.

In addition to the open houses this Saturday, the IRS will open many of its offices on three additional Saturdays in the spring and early summer.

March 10, 2010

IRS outreach to the unemployed

Tax season is here and tax day is looming. If you are currently unemployed, there’s a new one-year only tax break involving your unemployment checks to take advantage of, and the Internal Revenue Service is offering additional assistance for those out of work. Don’t get on the bad side of the IRS because your employment condition and take advantage of every break, deduction and federal assistance and advice out there.

From the second link, the release:

IRS Outlines Additional Steps to Assist Unemployed Taxpayers and Others

Video
Owe Taxes But Can’t Pay? English
Unemployment Compensation: EnglishSpanish
Job Search Expenses: EnglishSpanishASL
For these and other videos:  YouTube/IRSVideos

IR-2010-29, March 9, 2010

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced several additional steps it is taking this tax season to help people having difficulties meeting their tax obligations because of unemployment or other financial problems.

The steps –– an expansion of efforts that began more than a year ago –– include additional flexibility on offers in compromise for struggling taxpayers, a series of Saturday “open houses” offering taxpayers extra opportunities to work out tax problems face to face with the IRS, special outreach with partner groups to unemployed taxpayers and the availability of more information on a special section of the IRS Web site.

“Times are tough for many people, and the IRS wants to do everything it can to help people who have lost their job or face financial strain,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “We continue to make adjustments to key programs and expand ways for people to get help. We’re doing everything we can to help ease the burden on struggling taxpayers.”

New Flexibility for Offers in Compromise

For some taxpayers, an offer in compromise –– an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s debt for less than the full amount owed –– continues to be a viable option. IRS employees will now have additional flexibility when considering offers in compromise from taxpayers facing economic troubles, including the recently unemployed.

Specifically, IRS employees will be permitted to consider a taxpayer’s current income and potential for future income when negotiating an offer in compromise. Normally, the standard practice is to judge an offer amount on a taxpayer’s earnings in prior years. This new step provides greater flexibility when considering offers in compromise from the unemployed. The IRS may also require that a taxpayer entering into such an offer in compromise agree to pay more if the taxpayer’s financial situation improves significantly.

These immediate steps are part of an on-going effort by the IRS to ensure the availability of the Offer in Compromise program for taxpayers.

Hundreds of Saturday Open Houses to Resolve Taxpayer Issues

In addition, IRS will hold hundreds of special Saturday open houses to give struggling taxpayers more opportunity to work directly with IRS employees to resolve issues. The offices will be open on March 27 and three additional Saturdays in the spring and early summer. Dates, times and locations will be announced shortly.

During the expanded Saturday hours, taxpayers will be able to address economic hardship issues they may be facing or get help claiming any of the special tax breaks in last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, including the:

  • Homebuyer tax credit
  • American Opportunity Credit
  • Making Work Pay credit
  • Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit

In addition to these special Saturdays, taxpayers can take advantage of toll-free telephone assistance and regularly scheduled hours at local Taxpayer Assistance Centers. Taxpayers can find the location, telephone number and business hours of the nearest assistance center by visiting the Contact My Local Office page on IRS.gov.

Special Outreach Efforts to Unemployed

The IRS is working and coordinating with state departments of revenue and state workforce agencies to help taxpayers who are having problems meeting their tax liabilities because of unemployment or other financial problems.

These coordinated efforts may include opportunities for taxpayers to make payment arrangements and resolve both federal and state tax issues in one place.

Special Section of IRS.gov Created

Taxpayers who are unemployed or struggling financially can find information on a new page on the IRS Web site, IRS.gov. This online tax center has numerous resources including links to information on tax assistance and relief to help struggling taxpayers

Other Options Available for Taxpayers

The IRS will continue to offer other help to taxpayers, including:

  • Assistance of the Taxpayer Advocate Service for those taxpayers experiencing particular hardship navigating the IRS.
  • Postponement of collection actions in certain hardship cases.
  • Added flexibility for missed payments on installment agreements and offers in compromise for previously compliant individuals having difficulty paying.
  • Additional review of home values for offers in compromise in cases where real-estate valuations may not be accurate.
  • Accelerated levy releases for taxpayers facing economic hardship.

In addition, the IRS will accelerate lien relief for homeowners if a taxpayer cannot refinance or sell a home because of a tax lien. As previously announced, a taxpayer seeking to refinance or sell a home may request the IRS make a tax lien secondary to the lien by the lending institution that is refinancing or restructuring a loan. The taxpayer may also request the IRS discharge its claim if the home is being sold for less than the amount of the mortgage lien under certain circumstances.

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