Special $300 tax deduction helps most people give to charity this year – even if they don’t itemize

IR-2020-264, November 25, 2020

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers of a special new provision that will allow more people to easily deduct up to $300 in donations to qualifying charities this year.

Following special tax law changes made earlier this year, cash donations of up to $300 made before December 31, 2020, are now deductible when people file their taxes in 2021.

“Our nation’s charities are struggling to help those suffering from COVID-19, and many deserving organizations can use all the help they can get,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “The IRS reminds people there’s a new provision that allows for up to $300 in cash donations to qualifying organizations to be deducted from income. We encourage people to explore this option to help deserving tax-exempt organizations – and the people and causes they serve.”

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted last spring, includes several temporary tax changes helping charities, including the special $300 deduction designed especially for people who choose to take the standard deduction, rather than itemizing their deductions.

Nearly nine in 10 taxpayers now take the standard deduction and could potentially qualify for this new tax deduction. In tax-year 2018, the most recent year for which complete figures are available, more than 134 million taxpayers claimed the standard deduction, just over 87% of all filers.

Under this new change, individual taxpayers can claim an “above-the-line” deduction of up to $300 for cash donations made to charity during 2020. This means the deduction lowers both adjusted gross income and taxable income – translating into tax savings for those making donations to qualifying tax-exempt organizations.

Before making a donation, the IRS reminds people they can check the special Tax Exempt Organization Search (TEOS) tool on IRS.gov to make sure the organization is eligible for tax-deductible donations.

Cash donations include those made by check, credit card or debit card. They don’t include securities, household items or other property. Though cash contributions to most charitable organizations qualify, some do not. Check Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, and the TEOS for more information.

Though cash contributions to most charitable organizations qualify, those made to supporting organizations and donor-advised funds do not.

The IRS reminds everyone giving to charity to be sure to keep good records. By law, special recordkeeping rules apply to any taxpayer claiming a charitable contribution deduction. Usually, this includes obtaining a receipt or acknowledgement letter from the charity, before filing a return, and retaining a cancelled check or credit card receipt. For details on these recordkeeping rules, see Publication 526, available on IRS.gov.

In addition, the CARES Act includes other temporary provisions designed to help charities. These include higher charitable contribution limits for corporations, individuals who itemize their deductions and businesses that give food inventory to food banks and other eligible charities. For more information about these and other Coronavirus-related tax relief provisions, visit IRS.gov/coronavirus.

October 15 Deadline Nears for Taxpayers who Requested 2019 Tax Filing Extensions

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers who filed an extension that the October 15th due date to file their 2019 tax return is near. Taxpayers should file their tax returns on or before the October 15th deadline. For those who still owe, pay as soon as possible to reduce any penalties and interest.

See more at: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/october-15-deadline-nears-for-taxpayers-who-requested-tax-filing-extensions

IRS: Deadline to return distributions to retirement accounts is Aug. 31

IR-2020-187, August 24, 2020

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminds IRA owners, beneficiaries or workplace retirement plan participants who received a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) this year that they have until August 31 to rollover or repay the distribution to avoid paying taxes.

See full story at: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-deadline-to-return-distributions-to-retirement-accounts-is-aug-31

13.9 Million Americans to Receive IRS Tax Refund Interest

IR-2020-183, August 18, 2020

WASHINGTON — This week the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service will send interest payments to about 13.9 million individual taxpayers who timely filed their 2019 federal income tax returns and are receiving refunds.

The interest payments, averaging about $18, will be made to individual taxpayers who filed a 2019 return by this year’s July 15 deadline and either received a refund in the past three months or will receive a refund. Most interest payments will be issued separately from tax refunds.

In most cases, taxpayers who received their refund by direct deposit will have their interest payment direct deposited in the same account. About 12 million of these payments will be direct deposited.

Everyone else will receive a check. A notation on the check − saying “INT Amount” − will identify it as a refund interest payment and indicate the interest amount.

See more at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/13-point-9-million-americans-to-receive-irs-tax-refund-interest-taxable-payments-to-average-18-dollars

Economic Impact Payment “Get Your Payment” Link Live

The Economic Impact Payment “Get Your Payment” web service went live today. From the IRS: Use the “Get My Payment” application to check your payment status, confirm your payment type (either direct deposit or paper check), enter your bank account information for direct deposit if the IRS doesn’t have your direct deposit information and they haven’t sent your payment yet.  Click the link below to be redirected to the IRS’ Economic Impact Payments page.

https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments

Are You A Non-Filer?: Enter Your Economic Impact Payment Information Here

From the IRS:

Who is eligible for the Economic Impact Payment?

U.S. citizens or resident aliens who:

  • Have a valid Social Security number,
  • Could not be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer, and
  • Had adjusted gross income under certain limits.

Who will receive the Economic Impact Payment automatically without taking additional steps?

Most eligible U.S. taxpayers will automatically receive their Economic Impact Payments including:

  • Individuals who filed a federal income tax for 2018 or 2019
  • Individuals who receive Social Security retirement or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits
  • Individuals who receive Railroad Retirement benefits

Who should use Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info to provide additional information to receive the Economic Impact Payment?

Eligible U.S. citizens or permanent residents who:

  • Had gross income that did not exceed $12,200 ($24,400 for married couples) for 2019
  • Were not otherwise required to file a federal income tax return for 2019, and didn’t plan to

You can provide the necessary information to the IRS easily and quickly for no fee through Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info. We will use this information to determine your eligibility and payment amount and send you an Economic Impact Payment. After providing this information you won’t need to take any additional action.

Who should use Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info to provide additional information to receive the Economic Impact Payment?

Eligible U.S. citizens or permanent residents who:

  • Had gross income that did not exceed $12,200 ($24,400 for married couples) for 2019
  • Were not otherwise required to file a federal income tax return for 2019, and didn’t plan to

You can provide the necessary information to the IRS easily and quickly for no fee through Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info. We will use this information to determine your eligibility and payment amount and send you an Economic Impact Payment. After providing this information you won’t need to take any additional action.

 

Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here

 

Information You will Need to Provide

  • Full name, current mailing address and an email address
  • Date of birth and valid Social Security number
  • Bank account number, type and routing number, if you have one
  • Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) you received from the IRS earlier this year, if you have one
  • Driver’s license or state-issued ID, if you have one
  • For each qualifying child: name, Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number and their relationship to you or your spouse

What to Expect

Clicking “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” above will take you from the IRS site to Free File Fillable Forms, a certified IRS partner. This site is safe and secure.

Follow these steps in order to provide your information:

  • Create an account by providing your email address and phone number; and establishing a user ID and password.
  • You will be directed to a screen where you will input your filing status (Single or Married filing jointly) and personal information.
  • Note: Make sure you have a valid Social Security number for you (and your spouse if you were married at the end of 2019) unless you are filing “Married Filing Jointly” with a 2019 member of the military. Make sure you have a valid Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number for each dependent you want to claim for the Economic Impact Payment.
  • Check the “box” if someone can claim you as a dependent or your spouse as a dependent.
  • Complete your bank information (otherwise we will send you a check).
  • You will be directed to another screen where you will enter personal information to verify yourself. Simply follow the instructions. You will need your driver’s license (or state-issued ID) information. If you don’t have one, leave it blank.

You will receive an e-mail from Customer Service at Free File Fillable Forms that either acknowledges you have successfully submitted your information, or that tells you there is a problem and how to correct it. Free File Fillable forms will use the information to automatically complete a Form 1040 and transmit it to the IRS to compute and send you a payment.

Like the IRS, Wisconsin Extends Tax Deadline to July 15th

Both federal and Wisconsin income tax payment and return due dates are automatically extended to July 15, 2020. Wisconsin law will automatically extend time and waive interest and penalties for taxpayers due to a presidentially declared disaster.

Points of interest with this notice:

• Tax filers do not have to file any extension forms to be eligible for this new due date.
• There is no limit on the amount of payment to be postponed, and there are no income exclusions.
• This applies to individuals, trusts, estates, partnerships, associations, companies or corporations.
• This relief is solely for income tax payments, estimated income tax payments and returns due April 15, 2020.
• There will be no interest or penalty for the period of April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020.
• Interest, penalties, and underpayment interest for failure to make quarterly estimated tax payments with respect to such postponed federal income tax filings and payments will begin to accrue on July 16, 2020.

To see the full release, visit: https://www.revenue.wi.gov/Pages/News/2020/Tax-Deadline-Extended.pdf

From the Wisconsin Department of Revenue

Protect Yourself from Medicare Fraud

From Medicare.gov: Scammers may use COVID-19 as an opportunity to steal your identity and commit Medicare fraud. In some cases, they might tell you they’ll send you a Coronavirus test, masks, or other items in exchange for your Medicare number or personal information. Be wary of unsolicited requests for your Medicare number or other personal information.

It’s important to always guard your Medicare card like a credit card and check your Medicare claims summary forms for errors. Only give your Medicare number to participating Medicare pharmacists, primary and specialty care doctors or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf. Remember, Medicare will never call you to ask for or check your Medicare number.

For more information on protecting yourself from fraud and reporting suspected fraud, visit Medicare.gov/fraud.

Track tax refunds using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool at IRS.gov

WASHINGTON — Offering time-saving alternatives to a telephone call, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers they can get fast answers to their refund questions by using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool available on IRS.gov and through the IRS2Go app.

The IRS issues nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, and the fastest way to get a refund is to file electronically and choose direct deposit. The time around Presidents Day is a peak period for telephone calls to the IRS, resulting in longer than normal hold times for callers.

The question most frequently asked this time of year is, “Where’s my refund?”. The IRS reminds taxpayers that IRS customer service representatives can only research a refund’s status if it has been 21 days or more since the taxpayer filed electronically or six weeks since they mailed a paper return.

See more at: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/avoid-the-rush-track-tax-refunds-using-the-wheres-my-refund-tool-at-irsgov

IRS launches Identity Theft Central

The Internal Revenue Service launched Identity Theft Central, designed to improve online access to information on identity theft and data security protection for taxpayers, tax professionals and businesses.

Located on IRS.gov, Identity Theft Central is available 24/7 at irs.gov/identitytheft. It is a resource on how to report identity theft, how taxpayers can protect themselves against phishing, online scams and more.

Improving awareness and outreach are hallmarks of initiatives to combat identity theft coordinated by the IRS, state tax agencies and the nation’s tax industry, all working in partnership under the Security Summit banner.

Since 2015, the Security Summit partners have made substantial progress in the fight against tax-related identity theft. But thieves are still constantly looking for ways to steal the identities of individuals, tax professionals and businesses in order to file fraudulent tax returns for refunds.

The partnership has taken a number of steps to help educate and improve protections for taxpayers, tax professionals and businesses. As part of this effort, the IRS has redesigned the information into a new, streamlined page − Identity Theft Central − to help people get information they need on ID theft, scams and schemes.

From this special page, people can get specific information including:

  • Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft, including what to do if someone becomes a victim of identity theft
  • Identity Theft Information for Tax Professionals, including knowing responsibilities under the law
  • Identity Theft Information for Businesses, including how to recognize the signs of identity theft

The page also features videos on key topics that can be used by taxpayers or partner groups. The new page includes a video message from IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, warning signs for phishing email scams – a common tactic used for identity theft – and steps for people to protect their computer and phone.

This is part of an ongoing effort by the IRS to share identity theft-related information with the public. The IRS continues to look for ways to raise awareness and improve education and products related to identity theft for taxpayers and the tax professional community.

See full story at: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-launches-identity-theft-central