How do I access past years' tax returns?

2014, taxes

You can order transcript copies of your federal income tax returns by logging in to: http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript. The IRS offers this service free of charge. You can access your transcript online or have it mailed to you. These are not actual tax form copies, but all pertinent information is included.

If you utilized an H&R Block service (office, software, or online) to file your tax returns, you can download and print a federal and state form copy for the last three years by logging in or creating a myBlock account. If you experience any difficulty or have any questions, contact the client support team at 1-800-HRBLOCK for assistance. There is no fee charged for this service.

Finally, if you must obtain actual tax form copies, you may need to order them from the IRS. Form 4506 is filed for this purpose and the IRS charges a $50 fee for each year requested. Please note that it can take up to 75 days to process your request for copies. Here is a link to that form and instructions: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4506.pdf.

Who Can Claim the Earned Income Credit (EIC)?

2016, earned income credit, eic, taxes

The two most asked questions we see on The Community about earned income credit are "Can I claim the credit?" and "Why can't I claim the credit?". A lot goes into answering this question, so this article will hopefully make figuring out the EIC credit easier and less confusing.

 

Step #1: Let's start with the basic qualifications.  There are some basic requirements that you have to meet in order to qualify.  You must: 

  • Have a valid U.S. social security number (including dependents and spouse) before the due date of your tax return
  • Have earned income
  • Not file your tax return using the "married filing separately" filing status
  • Must be a US citizen or resident alien the whole year.

 

Step #2: If you meet all of the basic qualifications then you can move on to the income qualifications.  There are two basic income requirements.  You must: 

  • Not file Form 2555 for the foreign earned income exclusion
  • Not have more than $3,400 worth of investment income.

 

Step #3: Provided that you're qualified so far, the next step is to determine which scenario you qualify under.  There are two possibilities.

 

Possibility #1: You qualify based on your adjusted gross income & earned income levels.

In order to qualify based on income, your adjusted gross income and your earned income must be within certain limits and are different for each filing status.  You must also meet three additional requirements including that: 

  • You must live in the United States for more than half of the year 
  • You must be age 25 or older but under age 65
  • You cannot be eligible to be claimed as a dependent or as a qualifying child on anyone else's tax return.

The limits for income-based EIC claims for 2016 are as follows:

  • If you are single, head of household, or a qualifying widow/widower then each of your adjusted gross income & earned income must be less than $14,880.
  • If you are married & filing jointly then each of your adjusted gross income & your earned income must be less than $20,430.

 

Possibility #2: You have a qualifying child and your income is below the phaseout level.

If you have a dependent child who qualifies you to claim the EIC, your income must be under the phaseout threshold for your specific scenario.  There are different thresholds based on your filing status and on how many qualifying children you have.

 

The phaseout thresholds for 2016 for those are single, head of household, or a qualifying widow/widower are:

  • $39,296 with 1 dependent
  • $44,686 with 2 dependents
  • $47,955 with 3 dependents

The phaseout thresholds for 2016 for those who are married & filing jointly are:

  • $44,846 with 1 dependent
  • $50,198 with 2 dependents
  • $53,505 with 3 dependents

 

Step #4: Finally, there are special rules for certain taxpayers. Here are the most common exceptions:

  • Members of the military have the option to include their non-taxable combat pay in their earned income for EIC purposes.  This is most beneficial when it would result in a larger refund due to a larger EIC.
  • Those with a totally and permanently disabled relative have a qualifying child for EIC if they meet the other requirements no matter how old their disabled relative is.
  • Those who are disabled and receive disability income may be able to include that income in their earned income for EIC purposes.  Some types of disability income are considered earned income.  For instance, disability retirement benefits under your employer’s disability retirement plan are considered earned income until you reach the minimum age when you could receive distributions from a retirement account, currently age 59 1/2.
  • Members of the clergy must include their housing allowance in their earned income for EIC purposes because it is included in their income for the self-employment tax.  This income does not have to be included however if you have an approved Form 4361 or Form 4029.

Looking for resources and links?

H&R BLOCK LINKS:

 

Company website:    https://www.hrblock.com/

Find an H&R Block office in your area:  https://www.hrblock.com/tax-offices/find-an-office/index.html

Sign In or create your "My H&R Block Account": https://idp.hrblock.com/idp/Authn/DUserLogin.html

Emerald Advance Terms and Conditions: https://www.hrblock.com/bank/pdfs/emerald_advance_terms_and_conditions.pdf

Emerald Card (online account): https://www.hrblock.com/bank/lp/emeraldcard-login.html

H&R Block Online and Software Support: https://www.hrblock.com/support/index.html

Customer Support Hours: https://www.hrblock.com/customer_support/self_serv/contact_options.html

 

 

 

IRS LINKS:

 

IRS website:   http://www.irs.gov/

"Where's My Refund": http://www.irs.gov/Refunds

Order Transcripts (current and prior year): http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript

Contact your local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Contact-Your-Local-IRS-Office-1

Current and Prior Year Tax Forms and IRS Publications http://www.irs.gov/Forms-&-Pubs

Reporting a Change of Address: http://www.irs.gov/Help-&-Resources/Tools-&-FAQs/FAQs-for-Individuals/Frequently-Asked-Tax-Questions...

Where to File (by mail): http://www.irs.gov/uac/Where-To-File-Addresses-for-Tax-Professionals

 

STATE GOVERNMENT LINKS:

 

(NOTE:  The IRS website provides a State Government list on their website which will have a link to the taxing authority when you click on the State): http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/State-Links-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do the Where's My Refund page statuses mean?

In this article, we're going to break down the statuses you'll see when you check your refund status directly on the IRS' Where's My Refund page.

 

There are three primary statuses you'll see. They are "return received", "refund approved", and "refund sent".

 

Return Received

 

The "Return Received" status means the IRS has received your tax return and is processing it. Your personalized refund date will be available as soon as the IRS finishes processing your return and confirms that your refund has been approved. The IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days. 

 

Refund Approved

 

This means the IRS has processed your return and your refund has been approved. The IRS is now preparing to send your refund to your bank or directly to you in the mail if you requested a paper check. This status will tell you when your refund is scheduled to be sent to your bank and, if you elected the direct deposit option, a date by which it should be credited to your account. Please wait until it’s been five days from the date we sent the refund to your bank to check with your bank about the status of your refund. This time frame is provided to allow for the variations in how and when banks deposit funds.

 

Refund Sent

 

This is the status everyone wants to see. As the status pretty clearly states, "Refund Sent" means your refund is ready to go. Depending on how you chose to receive your refund, when you actually have access to your refund may vary. Here's some examples:

  • If you requested a paper check this means your check has been mailed. It could take several weeks for your check to arrive in the mail.
  • Did you choose to put your refund on an Emerald Card? Expect a slight delay as funds are disbursed from the IRS to the bank and loaded on to your card.
  • Did you choose direct deposit? Some financial institutions (such as banks and credit unions) may be a little slower to process your refund deposit. Allow for 2 to 5 days from the date the IRS provided for your bank to process.
  • Do you have outstanding debts held by the government? This could be things like back taxes, owed child support, defaulted government student loans, and more. All of these need to be deducted before you'll receive your refund.

Keep in mind: The IRS updates status once every 24 hours so it could take up to 24 hours for your status to indicate that you return has been received.

What operating systems is the H&R Block tax software compatible with?

2016, DIY, operating system, OS, requirements

The Basic, Deluxe, and Premium versions of the H&R Block Tax Software offered for 2015 tax returns are compatible with the following operating systems (OS) and browsers:

 

Windows

  • XP SP3 or Higher
  • Vista®
  • Windows 7
  • Window 8.1
  • Windows 10
  • Internet Explorer® 8 or higher

Mac

  • OS 10.6.8 or higher
  • Safari 5.1 or higher

 

The Premium & Business version is only compatable with the following operating systems and browsers:

 

Windows

  • XP SP3 or Higher
  • Vista®
  • Windows 7
  • Window 8.1
  • Windows 10
  • Internet Explorer® 8 or higher

 

Where is the option to enter PMI?

2016, DIY, extender, mortgage insurance, PMI, taxes

Currently the option to enter mortgage insurance (PMI) is not available in the online or software product. This is due to the fact Congress did not sign the 2015 tax extenders legislation until right before the holiday season late last year and PMI was one of the laws under review. The option to enter the PMI deduction in the online and software product will be part of a scheduled update on 1.19.16.

What do I need to bring to my tax appointment?

2015, appointment, checklist, taxes

When you’re preparing to meet with one of our tax professionals, it’s helpful to review a quick checklist to make sure you bring all the necessary documents. We have a few tax prep checklist options available:

 

  • If you have an H&R Block MyBlock account there's a tax appointment checklist available in your account.
  • If you’re looking for other options here's a link to a page on our web site that will provide you some guidance.
  • One of our bloggers posted a colorful one here.

If you're filing at a one of our local offices and want a bank product such as a Refund Anticipation Check or Emerald Card, you'll also want to bring current photo ID.

When do I need to take my Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)?

2015, retirement, RMD, taxes

If you are someone who has reached the age of 70 ½ years and are required to take money out of your retirement plan, please remember you must do so by December 31st. If you do not take your required minimum distribution (RMD), you will be penalized 50% of the distribution when you file your return. 

 

For those who turned 70 ½ during the year, you have until April 1 st of the year following the year you become 70 ½ to take the distribution. However, should you make that decision, you will need to take 2 distributions during that tax year. 

 

Most payers of the plans have already notified recipients of the amount they are required to take. If you have not received that information you need to visit with your plan holder.

 

IRS sends soft notices to taxpayers who may need to take RMDs—The IRS is sending Letter 5221 to individuals who:

  • Own an IRA (traditional, SEP, or SIMPLE)
  • Are at least 70 ½ years old, and
  • May not be taking their required minimum distributions.

These are “soft notices,” meaning that they are reminders; no response is needed.  Recipients should call the number on the letter 1-855-346-7493 (9 AM – 5 PM CT) if they have questions.

IRS e-File Deadline is October 15th

2015, deadline, e-File, Filing

The October 15th filing deadline marks the LAST DAY the IRS E-file system will accept 2014 tax returns filed via e-file. What this means is any taxpayer who files their income tax return on October 16th or later must file a paper return by mail. One drawback (especially for those expecting a refund) is that it would take 6 - 8 weeks for the IRS to process the return as opposed to the approximately up to 21 day timeline when e-filed.

Where's my refund?

2015, refund, taxes, where's my refund

You filed your return. Now what? Keep checking the IRS Where's My Refund page. The IRS updates Where's My Refund no more than once every 24 hours, usually overnight. Due to the volume of returns on the first day of e-file (January 20, 2015), updates to your myBlock account may be delayed as well.

 

Here's some helpful FAQs.

 

How quickly will I get my refund?
The IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 calendar days.

 

What is the fastest way to get information about my refund?
Use the IRS2Go mobile app or the Where’s My Refundtool. You can start checking on the status of your tax return within 24 hours after we have received your e-filed return or 4 weeks after you mail a paper return.

 

Will I see a date for my refund right away?
Where’s My Refund? will not give you a refund date right away. We must first receive your tax return and then we have to process it and approve your refund. Where’s My Refund? will give you a personalized date once your refund is approved. 

 

How will I know if IRS received my tax return and if my refund is being processed?
Use the Where’s My Refund? tool to follow your tax return from receipt to issuance of your refund. While your tax return is being processed you can follow it through three stages: Return Received,Refund Approved and Refund Sent.

 

When can I start checking on my refund status?
You can start checking on the status of your return within 24 hours after we have received your e-filed tax return or 4 weeks after you mail a paper tax return.

 

What is happening when Where’s My Refund? shows the status of my refund is: Return Received?
This means the IRS has your tax return and is processing it. Your personalized refund date will be available as soon as the IRS finishes processing your return and confirms that your refund has been approved. Most refunds are issued in less than 21 days.

 

How long will it take for my status to change from “Return Received” to Refund Approved?
Sometimes your status may change from “Return Received” to “Refund Approved” in just a few days, but it could take longer and a date will not be provided until your refund has been approved. However, if Where’s My Refund? shows the status of your refund is: Return Received we have received your tax return and we are processing it.

 

It's been longer than 21 days since the IRS received my return and I have not gotten my refund. Why?
The IRS works hard to issue refunds as quickly as possible, but some tax returns take longer to process than others for many reasons, including when a return:

  • includes errors,
  • is incomplete,
  • needs further review,
  • is impacted by identity theft or fraud,
  • includes Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, which could take up to 14 weeks to process.

If the IRS needs more information to process your tax return, they will contact you by mail.

IRS representatives can research the status of your return only if it’s been 21 days or more since you filed electronically, more than six weeks since you mailed your paper return, or if Where’s My Refund? directs you to contact us.

 

What is happening when Where’s My Refund? shows the status of my refund is:  Refund Approved?
This means the IRS has processed your return and your refund has been approved. The IRS is now preparing to send your refund to your bank or directly to you in the mail if you requested a paper check.

 

What is happening when Where’s My Refund? shows the status of my tax return is:  Refund Sent?
This means the IRS has sent your refund to your financial institution for direct deposit. It may take your financial institution 1 – 5 days to deposit the funds into your account. If you requested a paper check this means your check has been mailed. It could take several weeks for your check to arrive in the mail.

 

How often does Where’s My Refund? update?
Where’s My Refund? updates are made no more than once per day, usually at night.

 

Will Where’s My Refund? provide a refund status if I filed an amended return?
No, it does not provide information about amended tax returns.  However you can check the status of your Form 1040X (PDF), Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, using the “Where's My Amended Return?” (WMAR) online tool, and the new toll-free telephone line 866-464-2050 three weeks after you file your amended return.  WMAR provides personalized, automated, and the most up-to-date information on the status of amended returns in both English and Spanish. You can check the status of a Form 1040X filed for the current year, and up to three years prior.

 

Will calling the IRS help me get my refund any faster?
There’s no need for you to call the IRS about your refund status unless Where’s My Refund? displays a specific message that says you should call. If we need more information to process your tax return, we will contact you by mail. Otherwise Where’s My Refund? has the most up to date information available about your refund. Use the IRS2Go mobile app or use the Where’s My Refund?tool. Both are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

What if I am counting on my refund for something important? Can I expect to receive it on time? 
Be careful not to count on getting your refund by a certain date to make major purchases or pay other financial obligations. Many different factors can affect the timing of your refund after we receive it for processing. Even though the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, it’s possible your tax return may require additional review and take longer. Also, if you are anticipating a refund, take into consideration the time it takes for your financial institution to post the refund to your account, or for mail delivery.

How do I amend my tax return?

2015, amend, taxes

Did you receive a W-2 or 1099 after you already submitted your return? Did you input incorrect information and need to fix it, but it's already been accepted? Once a return is accepted by the IRS, it is not possible to make any changes or correct any information online. If you answered "yes" to either question above, you'll need to amend your tax return. 

 

Here's a  few tidbits of information that outlines the amendment process.

1. Before attempting to amend your return, you need to allow your original return processing to be completed and any refund issued.

2. Amended returns (Form 1040X) must be filed as paper returns by mail (the old-fashioned way), and a copy of any form/schedule that has changed or was not included in your original filed return needs to be attached and submitted with the amended return. In general, these are mailed to the IRS Processing Center assigned to your State of residence. You can find that address by following this link: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Where-To-File-Addresses-for-Tax-Professionals

3. It can take 12 weeks or longer for amended returns to be processed. So if the amended return results in additional refund, please be patient. During filing season, amendment processing "takes a back seat" to the processing of original filed returns and is also subject to "backlog" delay. Oh, and speaking of refunds, the only option in receiving it is by check. No direct deposit option exists.

4. Be clear and concise in the "explanations" you must write as to why the change(s) were made. Vague statement(s) can slow down or halt processing if your explanation is not clear.

Below is a link to the instructions for Form 1040X for more information.

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1040x.pdf

How do I get a copy of my W2?

2014, 4852, taxes, w-2, w2

Only your employer can provide copies of your W2.  If your employer can't or won't provide this information, you can create a substitute on Form 4852 which can be found here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4852.pdf

 

You also may be able to get much of your W2 information from an IRS Wage and Income transcript. You can retrieve this information from the following link: http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript

What is the difference between a 1099 and a W2?

1099, 2014, contractor, employee, job, taxes, w2

Although it's uncommon, it is possible for a potential employer to structure a particular task or project as either an employee (W2) or independent contractor (1099) task.  For example, a company might need a software program, and could say "Work for us, implementing it on our computers, with our tools and processes" - therefore modeling the expectation of an employee. If they were to say "Go home, implement it on your own system, and get us the working version in a year", that would be the expecatations of an independent contractor.

 

The social security and medicare taxes between the two scenarios are the most visible difference.  An employee gets the benefit of unemployment insurance and workers comp insurance.  They will also probably get sick pay and vacation pay.  There may be other benefits only available to employees, such as health insurance, stock or 401k plans, etc.  However, it's relatively uncommon that an employee will be able to deduct work-related expenses, because of the 2% floor on such deductions.

 

Independent contractors are able to deduct more expenses, because the 2% floor won't apply, plus the "convenience of the employer" rule won't apply.  They also have the option of setting up their own retirement plan, such as a SEP-IRA, which might allow them to contribute more into a retirement plan than an employee could.  On the other hand, there may be additional expenses that they have to pay for themselves such as health care, equipment, utilities, and more.