Dependent Care Assistance Program Participants Get Helpful Guidance

Dependent Care Assistance Program Participants Get Helpful Guidance

Dependent Care Assistance Program Participants Get Helpful Guidance

As you might have experienced first-hand, those with unused funds from a 2020 dependent care assistance program (DCAP) could have questions about newly allowed carryovers and whether those funds are taxable. Well, the Internal Revenue Service this week issued Notice 2021-26 to clear things up.

How did the pandemic affect dependent care assistance program funds?

The coronavirus pandemic has left a lot of taxpayers unable to use some of the money they set aside for DCAPs in 2020 and 2021 and this latest guidance seems aimed at fixing the problem.

Usually, carryovers of DCAP amounts aren’t permitted. In 2020, though, national legislation was passed allowing employers to tweak their DCAP plans so that carryover of unused program amounts are now allowed in 2021 and 2022. In addition, the law allowed employers to extend the period in which claims can be incurred to the plan years over that same 2021-2022 time frame.

Notice 2021-26 also says carryover amounts actually used for dependent expenses during the extended claims period would be excluded from income:

“Consequently, this notice clarifies that DCAP benefits that would have been excluded from income if used during the taxable year ending in 2020 or 2021, as applicable, remain eligible for exclusion from the participant’s gross income and are disregarded for purposes of application of the limits for the subsequent taxable years of the employee when they are carried over from a plan year ending in 2020 or 2021 or permitted to be used pursuant to an extended claims period.”

Does the IRS have additional guidance?

The American Rescue Plan Act raised the exclusion of employer-provided dependent care benefits to $10,500 from its original $5,000. Notice 2021-26 has a number of examples of how this new exclusion limit can work with the new guidance in real-world situations.

In February, Notice 2021-15 explained that if an employer embraced a carryover or extended claims period, annual limits for DCAP amounts apply to the money that is contributed, not to the amounts that are reimbursed or available in a plan or a calendar year.

This earlier guidance meant that DCAP participants can continue to contribute the maximum amounts to their plans through 2022.

For more on Coronavirus-related tax relief, visit IRS.gov.

Source: IR-2021-105

Story provided by TaxingSubjects.com

CY Tax-Exempt Groups Need to File by May 17

CY Tax-Exempt Groups Need to File by May 17

CY Tax-Exempt Groups Need to File by May 17

The Internal Revenue Service is reminding some tax-exempt organizations that they face the same May 17 filing deadline as regular income tax filers. 

The IRS says that the May 17 date applies to “tax-exempt groups that operate on a calendar-year (CY) basis” and file any of these returns:

  • Form 990-series annual information returns (Forms 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, 990-BL)
  • Form 990-N, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations Not Required to File Form 990 or Form 990-EZ
  • Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return (other than some trusts)
  • Form 4720, Return of Certain Excise Taxes Under Chapters 41 and 42 of the Internal Revenue Code

As for how the forms need to be filed, the agency notes that “organizations filing a Form 990, 990-PF or 990-N for CY2020 must file their returns electronically,” while “organizations filing Form 990-EZ for CY2020 received transitional relief and may file electronically or in paper.”

The IRS says these tax-exempt organizations should file now if they haven’t already done so. Luckily, the agency has put together a series of pre-recorded online workshops that can help these groups meet their filing requirements.

What if a tax-exempt organization needs an extension?

If a tax-exempt group needs more time to file its information return, they can request an automatic extension with Form 8868, Application of Time to File an Exempt Organization Return.

Form 8868 gives the organization a six-month extension on filing. If any tax is due, however, it’s still due on May 17—just as is the case with individual returns.

And while Form 8868 can be filed electronically or on paper, the IRS encourages those who seek an extension to file electronically for fastest processing.

What happens if a tax-exempt organization doesn’t file?

While filing most of the 990-series forms is straightforward, the decision not to file has its downside. Tax-exempt groups failing to file their Form 990 series for three straight years automatically lose their tax-exempt status.

The IRS says it’s still experiencing delays in processing paper forms, so it’s asking tax-exempt filers to send in their 990-EZ electronically. This will speed up transmission—and could help the group to avoid auto-revocation if they didn’t file returns for calendar years 2018 and 2019.

When an organization has its tax-exempt status auto-revoked, a notice is sent alerting the group of the change in status, and the group is placed on a list of status-revoked organizations. The list is available to taxpayers through the IRS website. It allows users to search the list by name or other parameters and is updated after the deadline for each filing season.

The IRS is prohibited by law from reversing an auto-revocation that was done properly. However, there are procedures to help organizations who contend they were auto-revoked in error.

This would include conditions where the group was revoked, yet had documentation that its filing requirements had been previously met.

For example, let’s say a group is notified its tax-exempt status has been auto-revoked, but has the needed documentation showing it filed a paper Form 990-EZ or Form 8868 by the May 17 filing deadline, or had filed in at least one of the previous three years.

In this case, the organization can fax the documentation to the IRS at 855-247-6123 to get the issue resolved.

Sources: Reminder to tax-exempt organizations: 990s, other forms due on May 17; Search for Tax Exempt Organizations

Story provided by TaxingSubjects.com

Cryptocurrency and the Form 1040

Cryptocurrency and the Form 1040

Cryptocurrency and the Form 1040

Public fascination with cryptocurrency tends to follow dramatic gains and losses in the market. While the latter results in pundits sounding the death knell for Bitcoin and its ilk, the most reliable predictor for the lifespan and legitimacy of crypto lies in the Internal Revenue Service—and some newly minted crypto-holding clients may have questions about the virtual currency checkbox on their tax year 2020 Form 1040.

Eagle eyed do-it-yourself filers will have noticed that checkbox moved from the 2019 Schedule 1 to directly above the standard deduction question on the 2020 Form 1040. Those who have been quietly holding onto cryptocurrency as a hedge against inflation—or hoping to become an overnight millionaire—may have felt a jolt of panic after realizing Uncle Sam is keeping tabs. Heck, you might have even received a few phone calls that earned you a new client.  

For a better understanding of crypto tax liability, we’re going to walk through a few common questions.

What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is virtual currency that is backed by an encryption algorithm designed to prevent coin-duplication counterfeiting. The current supply of any given coin is generated by “crypto mining:” Think the gold standard, but instead of a precious metal, crypto-miners use their computer—or warehouses full of them—to solve a complicated math problem in order to mine (create) a set number of coins that they can sell.

In addition to serving as a fiat currency alternative, some virtual currencies offer additional functionality, like “smart contracts” and Internet access. The value promised by projects like Ethereum and other Bitcoin alternatives has given rise to a wide “altcoin” market that is available to investors on a number of cryptocurrency exchanges. 

Note: The terms “cryptocurrency,” “crypto,” and “virtual currency” will be used interchangeably throughout the rest of this blog.

How does the new virtual currency question on the Form 1040 affect cryptocurrency holders?

The inclusion of a yes-no virtual currency question that reads “At any time during 2020, did you receive, sell, send, exchange, or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency?” seems self-explanatory. But to cover our bases, we spoke with Drake Software Federal Tax Product Manager Robin Miles, EA.

“We know that IRS is beginning to pay a lot of attention to the trading and use of virtual currencies, because they now require every taxpayer to affirm or deny their participation in the market,” Robin said. “At this time, it is just a ‘Yes’ or No’ question that must be answered on the main input screen.”

However, answering this question isn’t necessarily as straightforward as it may seem at first. According to Q5 in the 46-question virtual currency FAQ on IRS.gov, taxpayers do not have to answer “yes” if they only bought virtual currency with “real currency” (USD) last year. So, when do taxpayers need to answer “yes?” Seemingly, only when there is a cryptocurrency exchange with tax-related consequences.

When do taxpayers need to pay tax on their cryptocurrency?

The IRS treats cryptocurrency as property, so taxpayers generally need to report income in these situations:

  • The receipt or transfer of virtual currency for free (without providing any consideration), including from an airdrop or following a hard fork
  • An exchange of virtual currency for goods or services
  • A sale of virtual currency
  • An exchange of virtual currency for other property, including for another virtual currency (“Virtual Currency,” DrakeSoftware.com)

Now, let’s take a closer look at two items from that list: hard forks, and virtual currency sales.  

Hard Fork: The software that any given cryptocurrency is based upon is not set in stone. Sometimes an update can be so significant that it results in the creation of a new, separate cryptocurrency that exists alongside the original. This is called a hard fork, and it can result in a taxpayer suddenly having this new crypto deposited in their account by what is often referred to as an “airdrop.” (Fun fact: Bitcoin Cash was created by a hard fork in Bitcoin.)

After being given the new cryptocurrency, recipients will owe income tax for the year they acquire it: “When you receive cryptocurrency from an airdrop following a hard fork, you will have ordinary income equal to the fair market value of the new cryptocurrency when it is received, which is when the transaction is recorded on the distributed ledger, provided you have dominion and control over the cryptocurrency so that you can transfer, sell, exchange, or otherwise dispose of the cryptocurrency” (Q23).

Important: If a taxpayer is not given any new cryptocurrency following a hard fork, they do not owe income tax (Q22).

Sale of Virtual Currency: Generally, investors buy and sell virtual currency on exchanges, like Binance.us and Coinbase. The purchase of cryptocurrency for the purpose of investment does not result in owing income tax, but selling virtual currency—whether for USD or another crypto—can be considered a taxable. The amount of tax owed is generally determined by how much it was worth at the time of purchase (the basis), its fair market value at the time of the sale, and how long it was held (short-term versus long-term capital gain).

If a taxpayer sells crypto for more than they paid to acquire it on the exchange, that’s a capital gain. Just like stocks, crypto that is held for less than a year is subject to short-term capital gain tax; crypto sold after a year is subject to long-term capital gain tax. The trick—especially for newer investors—can be record keeping.

US-based cryptocurrency exchanges report to the IRS, so users should receive relevant forms from their exchange to help determine tax owed, like Forms 1099-B, 1099-K, and 1099-INT. That said, it would be wise for investors to separately keep track of all information related to the purchase and sale of crypto, just in case they don’t receive one of these forms.

To learn more about specific cryptocurrency tax issues, be sure to check out the IRS FAQ in the link below.

Source: “Frequently Asked Questions on Virtual Currency Transactions,” IRS.gov

Story provided by TaxingSubjects.com

It May Be Time to Use a Password Manager

It May Be Time to Use a Password Manager

It May Be Time to Use a Password Manager

Are you having trouble dealing with all your passwords?

Let’s face it, passwords are becoming a problem.

Following best practices for data security means creating unique passwords for all computers, networks, and online accounts. Unfortunately, the number of accounts you’re supposed to protect is growing exponentially:

  • PC login
  • Network login
  • ISP account
  • Personal email address
  • Work email address
  • Professional tax software login
  • Online banking and credit card accounts
  • Online retailers (Amazon, BestBuy, Target, Walmart)
  • Mobile trading applications (Binance.us, Charles Schwab, Coinbase, E-Trade, TD Ameritrade, Webull)
  • Social media (Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter)
  • Online television account (cable/satellite)
  • Mobile carrier account
  • Streaming services (HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Paramount+, Peacock, Prime Video, Twitch, Youtube)
  • Video game accounts (Battle.net, Epic Games, GOG.com, Nintendo Online, Origin, Playstation, Steam, Xbox)

Even if you don’t check every box in the list, there are probably a half-dozen unique passwords you still have to memorize—and some need to be changed every six months!

The sad reality is that we have to stay one step ahead of identity thieves. After all, if you use the same password for your email address and mobile banking app, identity thieves will have a much easier time stealing your money. Luckily, a password manager can help you deal with password bloat.

What is a password manager?

Password manager software is designed to securely store all of your passwords in one convenient location.

“Most people create weak passwords and reuse them for multiple accounts which drastically increases the chances of having multiple accounts hacked,” Drake Software Chief Compliance Officer Suzanne Vanderpool explains.  “Using a password manager that automatically creates complex and secure passwords for each account greatly reduces this risk. But it is very important that you remember the one and only password you will need to access your password manager.”

While the primary benefit of a password manager is cutting the number of passwords you have to remember down to one, there are other benefits as well:

  • Create secure passwords automatically
  • Schedule automated password changes
  • Autofill passwords during login
  • Provide a user-friendly dashboard

Another thing to consider is the type of password manager you want to use, whether software that’s installed on your device, an online password manager, or a hardware-based solution. If you’ve never even heard of a password manager, it can be difficult to know where to start.

How do I choose a password manager?

Picking the right password manager means finding the set of features that best suits your situation. Do you want to install an app on each device, or would you prefer to login to an online service? Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and ensuring that the platform features adequate encryption to protect all of your accounts.

“Whichever password manager you choose, be sure it has multi-factor authentication,” Suzanne recommends. “Remember, it houses all of your important passwords, so you want to keep it as safe as possible.”

Story provided by TaxingSubjects.com

IRS Reminds Taxpayers to Prepare for Natural Disasters

IRS Reminds Taxpayers to Prepare for Natural Disasters

IRS Reminds Taxpayers to Prepare for Natural Disasters

It was a wise man indeed who first warned us to “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

The Internal Revenue Service is following in those footsteps by reminding taxpayers that spring begins a very active period for weather in the U.S. In light of that, May includes both National Hurricane Preparedness Week and National Wildfire Awareness Week.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that reviewing emergency preparedness plans makes a lot of sense right now.

For those who like to think “it can’t happen here,” the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) knows it can. In the past year, FEMA declared major disaster areas stemming from hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, severe storms, flooding, wildfires, and an earthquake.

That’s why there’s no time like the present for individuals, organizations, and businesses to come up with an emergency plan or update the one they already have.

In case of natural disaster …

The key to getting through any natural disaster is the ability to think ahead—before there’s trouble. How would an individual taxpayer or business be able to recover after a disaster? What documents would they need if their files were missing, damaged, or destroyed by the weather event?

Recovery can depend on the individual or business taxpayer’s ability to produce documentation proving insurance claims, qualifying for disaster grants and other relief.

The IRS has some tips that can help taxpayers to recover quicker economically if they are hit by a natural disaster.

Secure key documents

The story of our lives is written in the vital documents we keep. That’s why taxpayers need to keep original documents such as tax returns, birth certificates, deeds, titles and insurance policies inside waterproof containers that are in turn kept in a secure space.

Duplicates of these documents should be kept in a separate location other than the taxpayer’s home or business. Another option is to scan them and copy the data onto electronic storage media such as a flash drive.

Reconstructing records after a major disaster might be required for tax purposes, to get federal assistance or to receive insurance reimbursement. Those who have suffered partial or total loss of their records should go online to the IRS’ Reconstructing Records webpage as a first step in the process.

Document your valuables and equipment

Once the weather event is over, home- or business-owners will need some way to back up their claims for insurance or tax breaks. The best way is to record all property beforehand, but especially any expensive or high-value items. Whether it’s a simple list, a spreadsheet, or a video record, the compilation should be kept with the important documents and a copy kept off-site as well.

Publication 584 has IRS disaster-loss workbooks that can help taxpayers and businesses assemble their lists of personal property or business equipment.

Fiduciary bonds for employers

Business owners have more to think about than just protecting their documents in the event of a natural disaster. If they use a payroll service, employers should follow the IRS’ advice and ask their payroll provider if it has a fiduciary bond in place.

The bond could offer the employer a layer of protection if the payroll service defaults.

The IRS urges all employers to choose their payroll service providers carefully.

How can the IRS help?

When FEMA declares a location to be a federal disaster area, the IRS can postpone specific tax filing and payment deadlines for those taxpayers who either live or have a business in the disaster area.

Such relief is automatic; there’s no need to call the IRS and request it. The agency can identify qualified taxpayers by their address of record and applies the stated relief when processing the return.

Anyone impacted by a disaster who has tax-related questions can call the IRS at 866-562-5227 to connect to an IRS specialist trained to handle disaster-related issues.

If a taxpayer suffered an impact from a disaster but didn’t live within the federally declared disaster area, they can call the same number, 866-562-5227, to see if they qualify for disaster tax relief or other options.

Complete disaster assistance and emergency relief details are available for both individuals and businesses on the IRS’ Around the Nation webpage on IRS.gov.

FEMA’s Prepare for Disasters webpage includes information to Build a Kit of emergency supplies.

Here are some other disaster preparedness sites that may prove useful:

SourceAs hurricane season nears, IRS reminds people to prepare for natural disasters 

Story provided by TaxingSubjects.com

IRS Reminds Taxpayers About Offer in Compromise Program

IRS Reminds Taxpayers About Offer in Compromise Program

IRS Reminds Taxpayers About Offer in Compromise Program

Sometimes, taxpayers find themselves with a tax bill they just can’t satisfy. The taxpayer is willing to pay, but the bottom line is more than they can afford. Circumstances like this are made for compromise; or more precisely, an offer in compromise.

Meeting in the middle …

“An offer in compromise is an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles a tax debt for less than the full amount owed,” the IRS explains. “An offer in compromise is an option when a taxpayer can’t pay their full tax liability. It is also an option when paying the entire tax bill would cause the taxpayer a financial hardship.”

As you might expect, all offer-in-compromise requests are closely scrutinized. So, the IRS created the free Offer in Compromise Booklet to provide easily accessible information about eligibility, associated fees, and how arrangements affect other tax-related items, like refunds.

How do taxpayers get the offer in compromise process started?

Generally, taxpayers, whether individuals or business owners, must first make an appropriate offer based on what the IRS considers their true ability to pay. Acceptance is not automatic; unrealistic offers can be rejected by the IRS.

Before an offer can be considered, the taxpayer must:

  • File all tax returns they are legally required to file,
  • Have received a bill for at least one tax debt included on their offer,
  • Make all required estimated tax payments for the current year, and
  • Make all required federal tax deposits for the current quarter if they are a business owner with employees.

Also remember that the IRS generally won’t accept an offer in compromise from anyone who actually has the ability to pay the tax debt in full, either through an installment agreement or equity in assets.

When it reviews applications, the IRS considers the taxpayer’s unique situation and any special circumstances that may affect their ability to pay in addition to their income, expenses and asset equity.

Currently, the application fee for an offer in compromise is $205, but the IRS says it can be waived if an applicant “[meets] the definition of a low-income taxpayer.”

The IRS’ Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier Tool can help a taxpayer determine if they are eligible to make an offer to settle their tax debt. The taxpayer is taken through a series of questions that clarify their individual tax situation.

Sources: An offer in compromise may help some taxpayers settle their tax billOffer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool; Form 656 Booklet: Offer in Compromise

Story provided by TaxingSubjects.com