What the IRS wants you to know about the upcoming tax season


You will again have a few extra days to file your taxes next year.

The deadline for 2016 tax returns will be Tuesday, April 18, rather than the usual deadline of April 15, the Internal Revenue Service announced late Friday.

The deadline for 2015 returns was also April 18.

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Next year, April 15 falls on a Saturday, which would normally push the deadline back to the next business day, Monday, April 17. But Emancipation Day — a legal holiday in Washington, D.C., that falls on April 16 — will be observed on April 17, pushing the deadline back to April 18.

Check out our guide to the most commonly used tax forms:

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Guide to commonly-used US tax forms
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Guide to commonly-used US tax forms

The 1040 family of tax forms is for federal income tax and is absolutely essential for all.

The 1040EZ form is the simplest version and is typically filed by those who:

  • Have no dependents
  • Are younger than 65
  • Earned less than $100,000
  • Don’t plan to itemize deductions

Form 1040A is more comprehensive than 1040EZ, but simpler than the regular 1040. It's beneficial for those who earn less than $100,000 and don’t have self-employment income -- but who want to make adjustments to their taxable income, such as child tax credits or deductions for student-loan interest. Note that it doesn't allow for itemized deductions.

Form 1040 is filled out by those who make $100,000 or more, have self-employment income or plan to itemize deductions.

The W-2 is completed by employers document each employee's earnings for the calendar year. You will want to take a look at this tax form for important information you'll need to fill out your 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. 
The 1098 form is filled out by those who:
  • paid interest on a mortgage
  • paid interest on a student loan 
  • paid college tuition
  • donated a motor vehicle to charity

The 1099 series is reports all income that isn’t salary, wages or tips, and must be reported on both the state and federal level.

1099-DIV reports dividends, distributions, capital gains and federal income tax withheld from investment accounts, including mutual fund accounts.

1099-INT trakcs interest income earned on investments.

1099-OID (Original Issue Discount) is provided if you received more than the stated redemption price on maturing bonds.

1099-MISC documents self-employment earnings, as well as miscellaneous income such as royalties, commissions or rents. It covers all non-employee income that is not derived from investments.

If you receive a refund that you're unable to pay in full, you can request a monthly installment plan using Form 9465.
Don't forget to notify the IRS if you move! Use Form 8822 to change your address with the Internal Revenue Service. Otherwise, notices, refunds paid with a paper check and other correspondence relating to your personal, gift and estate taxes will be sent to your former address.
Anyone who has been employed by a company has completed a Form W-9. The W-9 is used by employers for payroll purposes -- and the information on the W-9 is used to prepare employee paychecks during the year and W-2 forms at the end of the year. 
The W-4 is an IRS form completed for employers know how much money to withhold from your paycheck for federal taxes. Accurately completing your W-4 can both ensure you don't have a big balance due at tax time and also prevent you from overpaying your taxes.
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Despite the three extra days, the IRS is urging taxpayers to start preparing for tax season ahead of time.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen says in the federal agency's announcement:

"For this tax season, it's more important than ever for taxpayers to plan ahead. People should make sure they have their year-end tax statements in hand, and we encourage people to file as they normally would..."

That's partly due to a new law that requires the IRS to hold refunds until Feb. 15 for taxpayers who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit. But after "factoring in weekends and the President's Day holiday," which falls on Monday, Feb. 20, the IRS cautions that those taxpayers may not have access to their refunds until the week of Feb. 27 next year.

Other details from the IRS announcement that taxpayers should be aware of include that:

  • The tax season officially starts on Jan. 23 next year, whether you file electronically or on paper. Many software companies and tax professionals will accept returns before then, though, and submit them for you when the IRS starts accepting them.
  • You should keep copies of your prior-year tax returns for at least three years. If you are switching to a new tax software product for your 2016 taxes, remember that you will need to know your 2015 adjusted gross income.
  • Seventy percent of taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. It provides individuals and families earning $64,000 or less with free brand-name tax software. To learn more, visit the IRS' Free File page.
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offer free tax help to qualifying taxpayers. To learn more or to find a VITA or TCE location near you, visit the IRS' "Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers" page.
  • More than 9 out of 10 refunds are expected to be issued in fewer than 21 days. Filing electronically and choosing to receive your refund via direct deposit is "the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund."
  • The IRS' "Where's My Refund?" tool, available for free on the agency's website and app, is the best way to check the status of your refund.

Do you feel ready for tax season? Let us know below or on Facebook.

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