7 Facts about the Personal Energy Property Credit

Thinking about making some energy saving improvements to your home this summer?

Taking some energy saving steps now may lead to bigger tax savings next year. The Non-business Energy Property Credit, a tax credit for making energy efficient improvements to homes was increased as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

 

7 Facts about the Personal Energy Property Credit

Here are seven things the IRS wants you to know about the Non-business Energy Property Credit:

  1. The new law increases the credit rate to 30 percent of the cost of all qualifying improvements and raises the maximum credit limit to $1,500 claimed for 2009 and 2010 combined.
  2. The credit applies to improvements such as adding insulation, energy-efficient exterior windows and energy-efficient heating and air conditioning systems.
  3. To qualify as “energy efficient” for purposes of this tax credit, products generally must meet higher standards than the standards for the credit that was available in 2007.
  4. Manufacturers must certify that their products meet new standards and they must provide a written statement to the taxpayer such as with the packaging of the product or in a printable format on the manufacturers’ Website.
  5. Qualifying improvements must be placed into service after December 31, 2008, and before January 1, 2011.
  6. The improvements must be made to the taxpayer’s principal residence located in the United States.
  7. To claim the credit, attach Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits to either the 2009 or 2010 tax return. Taxpayers must claim the credit on the tax return for the year that the improvements are made.

Homeowners who have been considering some energy efficient home improvements may find these tax credits will get them bigger tax savings next year.

For more information on this and other key tax provisions of the Recovery Act, visit IRS.gov/recovery.

Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits

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10 Facts About the Child and Dependent Care Credit

Did you pay someone to care for a child, spouse, or dependent last year? If so, you may be able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit on your federal income tax return. Below are the top 10 things the IRS wants you to know about claiming a credit for child and dependent care expenses.

 

Tips for Claiming Child Car and Dependent Care Tax Credit

  1. The care must have been provided for one or more qualifying persons. A qualifying person is your dependent child age 12 or younger when the care was provided. Additionally, your spouse and certain other individuals who are physically or mentally incapable of self-care may also be qualifying persons. You must identify each qualifying person on your tax return.
  2. The care must have been provided so you – and your spouse if you are married filing jointly – could work or look for work.
  3. You – and your spouse if you are married filing jointly – must have earned income from wages, salaries, tips, other taxable employee compensation or net earnings from self-employment. One spouse may be considered as having earned income if they were a full-time student or they were physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.
  4. The payments for care cannot be paid to your spouse, to someone you can claim as your dependent on your return, or to your child who will not be age 19 or older by the end of the year even if he or she is not your dependent. You must identify the care provider(s) on your tax return.
  5. Your filing status must be single, married filing jointly, head of household or qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child.
  6. The qualifying person must have lived with you for more than half of 2009. However, see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses, regarding exceptions for the birth or death of a qualifying person, or a child of divorced or separated parents.
  7. The credit can be up to 35 percent of your qualifying expenses, depending upon your adjusted gross income.
  8. For 2009, you may use up to $3,000 of expenses paid in a year for one qualifying individual or $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals to figure the credit.
  9. The qualifying expenses must be reduced by the amount of any dependent care benefits provided by your employer that you deduct or exclude from your income.
  10. If you pay someone to come to your home and care for your dependent or spouse, you may be a household employer. If you are a household employer, you may have to withhold and pay social security and Medicare tax and pay federal unemployment tax. For information, see Publication 926, Household Employer’s Tax Guide.

 

10 Facts About the Child and Dependent Care Credit

Beginning with 2009 tax returns, Schedule 2, Child and Dependent Care Expenses for Form 1040A Filers, has been eliminated. Form 1040A filers will now use Form 2441, Child and Dependent Care Expenses. For more information on the Child and Dependent Care Credit, see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses. You may download these free forms and publications below or order them by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

 

Additional Information on Claiming the Child and Dependent Care Credit

  • Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses (PDF 167K)
  • Form W-10, Dependent Care Provider’s Identification and Certification (PDF 31K)
  • Form 2441, Child and Dependent Care Expenses (PDF)
  • Form 2441 Instructions (PDF 32K)
  • Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax (PDF 2,075K)
  • Tax Topic 602

Seven Things You Need to Know About the Government Retiree Credit

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Government Retiree credit was only available in tax year 2009.

Certain government retirees who receive a government pension or annuity payment in 2009 may be eligible for the Government Retiree Credit. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides this one-time credit of $250 for certain federal and state pensioners.

 

Seven Things You Need to Know About the Government Retiree Credit

Here are seven things the IRS wants you to know about the Government Retiree Credit:

  1. You can take this credit if you receive a pension or annuity payment in 2009 for service performed for the U.S. Government or any U.S. state or local government and the service was not covered by social security.
  2. Recipients of the Making Work Pay Credit will have that credit reduced by any Government Retiree Credit they receive.
  3. The credit is $250 for individuals and $500 if married filing jointly and both you and your spouse receive a qualifying pension or annuity.
  4. You must have a valid social security number to claim the credit. If married filing jointly, both spouses must have a valid social security number to each claim the $250 credit.
  5. You cannot take the credit if you received a $250 economic recovery payment in 2009.
  6. This is a refundable credit, which means it may give you a refund even if you had no tax withheld from your pension.
  7. To claim the credit, you must complete Schedule M, Making Work Pay and Government Retiree Credits, and attach it to your Form 1040A or 1040.

EITC Awareness Day

An expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) means larger families will qualify for a larger credit, offering greater relief for people who struggled through difficult financial times last year, the Internal Revenue Service said today.

The IRS and the Treasury Department marked EITC Awareness Day as their partners nationwide worked to highlight the availability of this important tax credit. EITC, which is in its thirty-fifth year, is one of the federal government’s largest benefit programs for working families and individuals. Last year, nearly 24 million people received $50 Billion in benefits. The average credit was more than $2,000.

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“As part of the economic recovery efforts, there have been important changes to expand EITC to benefit taxpayers,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “Today, more than ever, hard-working individuals and families can use a little extra help. EITC can make the lives of working people a little easier.”

 

EITC Awareness Day

Eligibility for EITC depends on earned income and family size, among other tests. However, single people and childless workers also are eligible, although for smaller amounts. For tax years 2009 and 2010, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created a new category for families with three or more children and expanded the maximum benefit for this category.

To qualify for the EITC, earned income and adjusted gross income (AGI) for individuals must each be less than:

  • $43,279 ($48,279 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children
  • $40,295 ($45,295 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children
  • $35,463 ($40,463 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child
  • $13,440 ($18,440 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children

The maximum credit for tax year 2009 is:

  • $5,657 with three or more qualifying children
  • $5,028 with two qualifying children
  • $3,043 with one qualifying child
  • $457 with no qualifying children

The maximum amount of investment income is $3,100 for tax year 2009. For families, there are also certain requirements for child residency and relationship that must be met. Additional eligibility information is available in FS-2010-11 and on the Web at IRS.gov/EITC.

Another new provision adds to the definition of a “qualifying child:” The child must be younger than the person claiming the child unless the child is totally and permanently disabled any time during the year. The child cannot have filed a joint return other than to claim a refund. Also new for 2009, if a qualifying child can be claimed by either a parent or another person, the other person must have an AGI higher than the parent in order to claim the child for EITC purposes.

Historically, one in four eligible taxpayers fails to claim the EITC, which is why the IRS and its free tax preparation partners host an annual EITC Awareness Day. This year, there are 68 news conferences being held around the country. Community coalitions and IRS partners nationwide also are also issuing 128 news releases, writing letters to the editor and using social media tools to spread the word about EITC.

Typically, people who fail to claim the EITC include workers without qualifying children, people whose earned income falls below the threshold required to file a tax return, farmers, rural residents, people with disabilities and nontraditional families such as grandparents raising grandchildren. People must file a tax return to claim the EITC.

EITC-eligible taxpayers also can seek assistance at the 400 IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers nationwide. To assist EITC taxpayers, 167 IRS assistance centers will offer Saturday service on Jan. 30, Feb. 6 and Feb. 20.

There is an online EITC Assistant also available on IRS.gov which can help taxpayers and tax preparers determine eligibility.

More than 65 percent of EIC returns are prepared by a third party. The IRS urges taxpayers to choose a reputable tax preparer to avoid problems that come with an inaccurate tax return. The agency also urges tax preparers to follow due diligence requirements when preparing an EIC tax return.

First-Time Homebuyer Credit Provides Tax Benefits

First-Time Homebuyer Credit Provides Tax Benefits to 1.4 Million Families to Date, More Claims Expected

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With the deadline quickly approaching, the Internal Revenue Service today reminded potential homebuyers they must complete their first-time home purchases before Dec. 1 to qualify for the special first-time homebuyer credit. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act extended the tax credit, which has provided a tax benefit to more than 1.4 million taxpayers so far.

ALERT: You must close on a new home by Nov. 30, 2009 (extended to April 30,2010), to qualify for this tax credit. With the deadline approaching, potential homebuyers should consult with their real estate professionals to ensure they have enough time left to close on a home.

The credit of up to $8,000 is generally available to homebuyers with qualifying income levels who have never owned a home or have not owned one in the past three years. The IRS has a new YouTube video (watch it below) and other resources that explain the credit in detail.

 

First-Time Homebuyer Credit Provides Tax Benefits

The IRS encouraged all eligible homebuyers to take advantage of the first-time homebuyer credit but at the same time cautioned taxpayers to avoid schemes that help ineligible people file false claims for the credit. Currently, the agency is investigating a number of cases of potential fraud and is using computer screening tools to identify questionable claims for the credit.

Because the credit is only in effect for a limited time, those considering buying a home must act soon to qualify for the credit. Under the Recovery Act, an eligible home purchase must be completed before Dec. 1, 2009. This means that the last day to close on a home is Nov. 30.

The credit cannot be claimed until after the purchase is completed. For purchases made this year before Dec. 1, taxpayers have the option of claiming the credit on their 2008 returns or waiting until next year and claiming it on their 2009 returns.

For those considering a home purchase this fall, here are some other details about the first-time homebuyer credit:

  • The credit is 10 percent of the purchase price of the home, with a maximum available credit of $8,000 for either a single taxpayer or a married couple filing jointly. The limit is $4,000 for a married person filing a separate return. In most cases, the full credit will be available for homes costing $80,000 or more.
  • The credit reduces the taxpayer’s tax bill or increases his or her refund, dollar for dollar. Unlike most tax credits, the first-time homebuyer credit is fully refundable. This means that the credit will be paid to eligible taxpayers, even if they owe no tax or the credit is more than the tax owed.
  • Only the purchase of a main home located in the United States qualifies. Vacation homes and rental properties are not eligible.
  • A home constructed by the taxpayer only qualifies for the credit if the taxpayer occupies it before Dec. 1, 2009.
  • The credit is reduced or eliminated for higher-income taxpayers. The credit is phased out based on the taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). MAGI is adjusted gross income plus various amounts excluded from income—for example, certain foreign income. For a married couple filing a joint return, the phase-out range is $150,000 to $170,000. For other taxpayers, the range is $75,000 to $95,000. This means the full credit is available for married couples filing a joint return whose MAGI is $150,000 or less and for other taxpayers whose MAGI is $75,000 or less.
  • The credit must be repaid if, within three years of purchase, the home ceases to be the taxpayer’s main home. For example, a taxpayer who claims the credit based on a qualifying purchase on Sept. 1, 2009, must repay the full credit if he or she sells the home or converts it to business or rental use at any time before Sept. 1, 2012.

Taxpayers cannot take the credit even if they buy a main home before Dec. 1 if:

  • The taxpayer’s income is too large. This means joint filers with MAGI of $170,000 and above and other taxpayers with MAGI of $95,000 and above.
  • The taxpayer buys a home from a close relative. This includes a home purchased from the taxpayer’s spouse, parent, grandparent, child or grandchild.
  • The taxpayer owned another main home at any time during the three years prior to the date of purchase. For a married couple filing a joint return, this requirement applies to both spouses. For example, if the taxpayer bought a home on Sept. 1, 2009, the taxpayer cannot take the credit for that home if he or she owned, or had an ownership interest in, another main home at any time from Sept. 2, 2006, through Sept. 1, 2009.
  • The taxpayer is a nonresident alien.

For details on claiming the credit, see Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit.