All tips are C/O https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-tax-tips
IRS Tax Tip 2019-173, December 10, 2019
After filing their tax return, a taxpayer will know whether they are receiving a refund. Sometimes,
however, a taxpayer's refund will be for a different amount than they expect.
Here are some reasons a taxpayer's refund might be less than they thought it would be:
Financial transactions happening late in the year can have an unexpected tax impact if a taxpayer's 2019 federal income tax withholding unexpectedly falls short of their tax liability for the year. Certain transactions can affect 2019 tax withholding and influence the taxpayer's anticipated refund next year. This includes things like:
Year-end and holiday bonuses.
Capital gain distributions from mutual funds and stocks.
Real estate or other property sold at a profit.
If this happens, taxpayers can still make a quarterly estimated tax payment directly to the IRS for tax year 2019. The deadline for making a payment for the fourth quarter of 2019 is Wednesday, January 15, 2020. Form 1040-ES includes a worksheet to help taxpayers figure the right amount of estimated taxes to pay.
A taxpayer's refund can be used to pay other debts a taxpayer owes. All or part of a refund can go to pay a taxpayer's:
Past-due federal tax.
State income tax.
State unemployment compensation debts.
Child and spousal support.
Other federal nontax debts, such as student loans.
A taxpayer receives a notice if their debt meets the criteria for an offset. The IRS issues any remaining refund in a check or direct deposit as the taxpayer originally requested on the return.
IRS Tax Tip 2019-170, December 4, 2019
Knowledge and awareness. Those two things can protect taxpayers and their family members from getting caught up in a phishing scam.
A phishing scam is often an unsolicited email or a website that looks like a legitimate site designed to trick users. The scams convince people into providing personal and financial information. Scam emails can arrive to personal and work accounts on computers, smartphones and tablets.
Phishing scams often use one or more of these tactics. The scammers:
Pose as a trusted bank, favorite retail store, government agency, or even a tax professional.
Tell the taxpayer there's something wrong with their account.
Tell the recipient they're in violation of a law.
Tell the taxpayer to open a link in email or download an attachment.
Send the taxpayer a familiar looking – but fake – website and ask them to log in to it.
Thieves do these to trick taxpayers into revealing account numbers and passwords. The thieves secretly download malicious software on to someone's device to collect personal information. The criminal might also try to fool the recipient into sending money to the scammers.
It's important to remember that the IRS never:
Calls to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, iTunes gift card or wire transfer.
Asks a taxpayer to make a payment to a person or organization other than the U.S. Treasury.
Threatens to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups saying they can have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
Demands taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
When in doubt, taxpayers can always check the status of their taxes by registering at IRS.gov. From there, taxpayers can check their account balance for the current tax year or any previous tax year with a balance due.
Taxpayers who receive an IRS-related or tax-themed phishing email should forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Taxpayers can also report scam letters and phone calls to email@example.com as well as the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
IRS Tax Tip 2019-169, December 3, 2019
The tax filing season is quickly approaching. With that in mind, taxpayers should remember there's still time to make an estimated or additional tax payment to ensure their tax withholding is still accurate.
Those who need to make an estimated tax payment for 2019 should remember that the fourth quarter payment is due Wednesday, January 15, 2020.
These taxpayers will want to check to see if their 2019 federal income tax withholding will unexpectedly fall short of their tax liability for the year. They can check this by using the Tax Withholding Estimator on IRS.gov.
All taxpayers can use the results from the Tax Withholding Estimator to determine if they should:
Complete a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, and submit it to their employer.
Complete a new Form W-4P, Withholding Certificate for Pension or Annuity Payments, and submit it to their payer.
Make an additional or estimated tax payment to the IRS before the end of the year.
This tool helps employees avoid having too much or too little tax withheld from their wages. It also helps those working for themselves make accurate estimated tax payments. Having too little withheld can result in an unexpected tax bill or even a penalty at tax time in 2020. Having too much withheld results in less money in their pocket.
The Tax Withholding Estimator asks taxpayers to estimate:
Their 2019 income.
The number of children to be claimed for the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit.
Other items that will affect their 2019 taxes.
The IRS Withholding Estimator does not ask for personally-identifiable information, such as a name, Social Security number, address and bank account numbers. The IRS doesn't save or record the information entered in the Estimator.
Before using the Tax Withholding Estimator, taxpayers should gather their most recent pay stubs and income documents from all sources. They should gather documents related to pensions, annuities, Social Security benefits and self-employment income. They should also have a copy of their 2018 federal tax return. This will help estimate 2019 income and answer other questions asked during the process.
If a taxpayer follows the recommendations at the end of the Tax Withholding Estimator and changes their withholding for 2019, they should recheck their withholding at the start of 2020. A withholding change made in 2019 may have a different full-year impact in 2020. So, if a taxpayer does not file a new Form W-4 for 2020, their withholding might be higher or lower than they intend.
Taxpayers should remember that the Tax Withholding Estimator's results will only be as accurate as the information provided. People with more complex tax situations should use the instructions in Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax (PDF). This includes taxpayers who owe alternative minimum tax or certain other taxes, and people with long-term capital gains or qualified dividends.