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 TenTips on a Tax Credit for Child and Dependent Care Expenses 

If you paid someone to care for your child, spouse, or dependent last year, you may qualify to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit when you file your federal income tax return. Below are 10 things the IRS wants you to know about claiming the credit for child and dependent care expenses.

  • 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 file 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 were physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.
  • 4. The payments for care cannot be paid to your spouse, to the parent of your qualifying person, 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 2011. There are exceptions for the birth or death of a qualifying person, or a child of divorced or separated parents. See Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
  • 7. The credit can be up to 35 percent of your qualifying expenses, depending upon your adjusted gross income.
  • 8. For 2011, 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, such as a flexible spending account for daycare expenses.
  • 10. If you pay someone to come to your home and care for your dependent or spouse, you may be a household employer and may have to withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare tax and pay federal unemployment tax. See Publication 926, Household Employer's Tax Guide.

For more information on the Child and Dependent Care Credit, see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses. You may download these free publications from www.irs.gov or order them by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

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Ten Facts for Mortgage Debt Forgiveness 

If your mortgage debt is partly or entirely forgiven during tax years 2007 through 2012, you may be able to claim special tax relief and exclude the debt forgiven from your income. Here are 10 facts the IRS wants you to know about Mortgage Debt Forgiveness.

  • 1. Normally, debt forgiveness results in taxable income. However, under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, you may be able to exclude up to $2 million of debt forgiven on your principal residence.
  • 2. The limit is $1 million for a married person filing a separate return.
  • 3. You may exclude debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in a foreclosure.
  • 4. To qualify, the debt must have been used to buy, build or substantially improve your principal residence and be secured by that residence.
  • 5. Refinanced debt proceeds used for the purpose of substantially improving your principal residence also qualify for the exclusion.
  • 6. Proceeds of refinanced debt used for other purposes for example, to pay off credit card debt do not qualify for the exclusion.
  • 7. If you qualify, claim the special exclusion by filling out Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness, and attach it to your federal income tax return for the tax year in which the qualified debt was forgiven.
  • 8. Debt forgiven on second homes, rental property, business property, credit cards or car loans does not qualify for the tax relief provision. In some cases, however, other tax relief provisions such as insolvency may be applicable. IRS Form 982 provides more details about these provisions.
  • 9. If your debt is reduced or eliminated you normally will receive a year-end statement, Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, from your lender. By law, this form must show the amount of debt forgiven and the fair market value of any property foreclosed.
  • 10. Examine the Form 1099-C carefully. Notify the lender immediately if any of the information shown is incorrect. You should pay particular attention to the amount of debt forgiven in Box 2 as well as the value listed for your home in Box 7.

 

Does the IRS Have Money Waiting For You?

If you earned income in the last few years but you didn't file a tax return because your wages were below the filing requirement, the Internal Revenue Service may have some money for you. The IRS also has millions of dollars in checks that are returned each year as undeliverable.

Here's what you need to know about these two types of "missing money" and how to claim it:

Unclaimed Refunds

Some people earn income and may have taxes withheld from their wages but are not required to file a tax return because they have too little income. In this case, you can claim a refund for the tax that was withheld from your pay. Other workers may not have had any tax withheld but would be eligible for the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit, but must file a return to claim it.

  • To collect this money a return must be filed with the IRS no later than three years from the due date of the return.
  • If no return is filed to claim the refund within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. 
  • There is no penalty assessed by the IRS for filing a late return qualifying for a refund.
  • Current and prior year tax forms and instructions are available on the Forms and Publications page of www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
  • Information about the Earned Income Tax Credit and how to claim it is also available on www.irs.gov.

Undeliverable Refunds

Were you expecting a refund check but didn't get it?

  • Refund checks are mailed to your last known address. Checks are returned to the IRS if you move without notifying the IRS or the U.S. Postal Service.
  • You may be able to update your address with the IRS on the "Where's My Refund?" feature available on IRS.gov. You will be prompted to provide an updated address if there is an undeliverable check outstanding within the last 12 months.
  • You can also ensure the IRS has your correct address by filing Form 8822, Change of Address, which is available on www.irs.gov or can be ordered by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
  • If you do not have access to the Internet and think you may be missing a refund, you should first check your records or contact your tax preparer. If your refund information appears correct, call the IRS toll-free assistance line at 800-829-1040 to check the status of your refund and confirm your address.      

 

 

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