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Tax season 2021: what in your tax return might alert the IRS

This tax season can be challenging. Experts say that in addition to figuring out how coronavirus financial aid could affect tax refunds, more taxpayers will make mistakes and receive audit notices from the IRS. In some cases, this may mean a lower refund or a higher amount of taxes than anticipated. Writes about it CNBC.

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“Everyone's world has turned upside down,” said Henry Grzes, lead manager of tax practice and ethics at the American Institute of Accountants. - Added something that was not usually received: for example, incentive payments. This will no doubt be a challenging year for taxpayers. "

While most people will never be confronted with an audit - only 0,15% were audited in FY2019 - there are other types of IRS requests, such as a notice of inconsistency in income statements or an offer of additional tax. This is unrelated to a formal audit, which the IRS usually has three years to request after the disputed declaration is filed.

Here are some general points that may prompt the IRS to take a closer look at your 2020 tax return.

Unreported income

One surefire way to get the attention of the IRS on your tax return is by mismatching the income you report and the information the agency has.

All forms you receive showing income are also sent to the IRS. This can be a W-2 from work, 1099-NEC or similar form showing income earned as an independent contractor, 1099-INT showing taxable interest of $ 10 or more in bank account, or 1099-G showing unemployment income (yes, this income is tax deductible and you must report it).

And if you did not report any of these incomes, you will receive a notice from the agency - a letter will automatically be sent about the discrepancy.

If you invest in cryptocurrency, do not forget that you must report your gains (and losses) on Bitcoin and its cousins, regardless of whether you received the form from the crypto exchange or not.

“The rule is that even if you haven't received 1099, you have to report it,” Grzes said. "Some people mistakenly believe that cryptocurrencies are tax free."

In addition, if you received a Form 1095-A that lists premium tax credits received in 2020 from an insurance plan through the FHC or your state market, be aware that the IRS will also receive a copy. You must reflect this in your declaration.

On the subject: IRS Starts Accepting Tax Returns for 2020: Timing, Deductions and Details to Know

Charitable contributions

In 2020 tax returns, taxpayers can make an over-limit deduction that lowers taxable income of up to $ 300 for qualified charitable cash donations without having to list them. (Most people take the standard deduction, which is $ 12 for individuals or $ 400 for married couples.)

If you do list deductions and these write-offs include donations, keep in mind that the IRS knows how much taxpayers of different income levels usually donate. So if your donations to charity are too high for your income or compared to your income peers, be careful.

“If your income is $ 100, but you are listing $ 000 in charitable contributions, that will clearly raise questions," Grzes said.

Of course, if you have documentation to prove your donations, you shouldn't be afraid of problems with the IRS.

A monetary donation to a qualified charity of up to 2020% of your adjusted gross income is permissible for the 100 return. (This is a one-year adjustment from the usual 60% AGI limit.)

Other types of donated property also have limitations depending on the type of asset and the organization to which it is transferred.

Business expenses

If you own a business or act as an independent contractor, the IRS allows you to deduct the costs from your taxable income. And if you only use space in your home for work, you can take advantage of the home office deduction (people working remotely do not receive these tax benefits).

Some taxpayers choose the simplified home office deduction based on the size of their workspace, others calculate specific costs to deduct, such as a portion of utility bills, mortgage interest, taxes, etc. to the extent that it is used to conduct business.

However, tax officials say they have seen non-business items clearly visible on deduction receipts. Or the amounts people deduct for their business never change.

“I saw the figures provided by taxpayers, and I think they just copied all the expenses from the previous year,” said Rhonda Collins, director of taxes and government relations at the National Association of Tax Professionals. - For example, are your utility bills really the same every year? If there is no change from year to year and the IRS compares this data, that could also be a red flag. "

For example, as with any other business you work for, your personal mobile phone is probably not used exclusively for professional purposes. Only the portion that is used for the business is considered a tax deductible expense.

Again, as long as you have the documentation to prove your business expenses, you should be fine.

High rental costs

According to Collins, while writing off rental costs (major and minor repairs, etc.) is perfectly justified, as in any business, too high losses can generate interest in the IRS, especially if they are repeated, and not one-off.

“Rentals are where people are trying to write off a lot of cash expenses, but they can't really prove those expenses in a tax audit,” Collins said.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York

Earned Income Tax Credit

This loan is usually granted to working taxpayers with children if they meet income limits and other requirements. Some people with low income and no children may also be eligible.

Since it adds up to a refund - that is, it can lead to you getting money even if your tax balance for the year is zero - it is loved by working parents with low or modest income.

However, the declarations in which the request for this loan is indicated, as a rule, are checked more closely due to abuse. Even if you are legally eligible for this loan, your tax return can get the IRS scrutiny.

"If you reported one child last year, and this year report four, it could get the attention of the IRS," Collins said. "Of course, that may be true - you could have married someone with three children."

The bottom line is that, according to experts, you should never try to cheat the IRS.

"If you are telling the truth, you have nothing to worry about," said Grzes of the American CPA Institute. "People who don't always do this have problems."

Read also on ForumDaily:

Four documents without which you cannot file a tax return

How to find and retrieve your unclaimed money in the USA

New Rule Could Provide Greater Tax Refunds: What You Need to Know

Why aging is beneficial in the USA: tax breaks for people aged 50+

Educational program taxes in the USA tax season Special Projects tax season 2021
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