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Six Things to Know about the Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions

The health care law includes the employer shared responsibility provisions, which require applicable large employers to offer health coverage to full-time employees and their dependents. Those that do not offer coverage might be subject to the employer shared responsibility payment.

Here are six facts about these provisions.

1. These provisions apply to applicable large employers, which includes tax-exempt and federal, state, local and Indian tribal government employers. You’re an applicable large employer if you have 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalents.

2. If you have fewer than 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalents, you are not an applicable large employer and are generally not subject to these provisions. However, you are subject to the rules for large employers if you have fewer than 50 employees, but are a member of an ownership group that has 50 or more full-time equivalent employees,

Military Members: Get Free Tax Help

 

The IRS offers free tax help to members of the military and their families through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. VITA is available both on and off base including sites for military members overseas. Here are five tips to know about free tax help for the military:

1. Armed Forces Tax Council. The Armed Forces Tax Council oversees the military tax programs offered worldwide.

2. Certified Staff. Military VITA certified employees staff their sites. They receive training on military tax issues, like tax benefits for service in a combat zone. They can help you with special extensions of time to file your tax return and to pay your taxes or with special rules that apply to the Earned Income Tax Credit.

3. What to Bring. Take the following records with you to your military VITA site:

Top Five Tips on Unemployment Benefits

 

If you lose your job, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. While these payments may come as a relief, it’s important to remember that they may be taxable. Here are five key facts about unemployment compensation:

1. Unemployment is Taxable. You must include all unemployment compensation as income for the year. You should receive a Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments by Jan. 31 of the following year. This form will show the amount paid to you and the amount of any federal income tax withheld.

2. Paid Under U.S. or State Law. There are various types of unemployment compensation. Unemployment includes amounts paid under U.S. or state unemployment compensation laws. For more information, see Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income.

Top 10 Tax Tips about Debt Cancellation

 

If your lender cancels part or all of your debt, it is usually considered income and you normally must pay tax on that amount. However, the law allows an exclusion that may apply to homeowners who had their mortgage debt cancelled in 2015. Here are 10 tips about debt cancellation:

1. Main Home. If the cancelled debt was a loan on your main home, you may be able to exclude the cancelled amount from your income. You must have used the loan to buy, build or substantially improve your main home to qualify. Your main home must also secure the mortgage.

2. Loan Modification. If your lender cancelled part of your mortgage through a loan modification or ‘workout,’ you may be able to exclude that amount from your income. You may also be able to exclude debt discharged as part of the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. The exclusion may also apply to the amount of debt cancelled in a foreclosure.

Six Reasons to Choose Direct Deposit for Your Tax Refund

When you file your taxes, you have options on how to receive your refund. The best way to get it is by direct deposit. Eight out of 10 taxpayers get their refunds by direct deposit. Here are six good reasons why you should do the same in 2016:

IRS Direct Deposit:

1. Is Fast. The fastest way to get your refund is to electronically file your federal tax return and use direct deposit. Use IRS Free File to prepare and e-file your federal return for free. You can still use direct deposit even if you file a paper tax return.

2. Is Secure. Since your refund goes directly into your account, there’s no risk of having your refund check stolen or lost in the mail. This is the same electronic transfer system used to deposit nearly 98 percent of all Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits into millions of accounts.

Five Things You Should Know about the Child Tax Credit

The Child Tax Credit is an important tax credit that may save you up to $1,000 for each eligible qualifying child. Be sure you qualify before you claim it. Here are five useful facts from the IRS on the Child Tax Credit:

1. Qualifications. For the Child Tax Credit, a qualifying child must pass several tests:

What You Need to Know about Taxable and Non-Taxable Income

All income is taxable unless a law specifically says it isn’t. Here are some basic rules you should know to help you file an accurate tax return:

  • Taxable income. Taxable income includes money you earn, like wages and tips. It also includes bartering, an exchange of property or services. The fair market value of property or services received is normally taxable.

Some types of income are not taxable except under certain conditions, including: