• Because the IRS is focusing more on taxpayer security issues and identify theft, tax professionals such as yours truly no longer have the reference tool that was used in past tax seasons to give customers estimated dates on when they would get their refund after the e-filing process was completed. Now taxpayers have to go online to www.irs.gov to use the revamped “Where’s My Refund?” guide to get personalized information on their federal refund.

The updated “Where’s My Refund?”, based on information in your 2012 return,  is a three part tracker that displays progress of your refund: (1) return received (2) return approved and  (3) refund sent. “Where’s My Refund?” gives you a refund date as soon as the IRS  processes your tax return and approves your refund. This means you won’t get an estimated refund right away. Updates to the website on refund status are done nightly. So a taxpayer would have to go online daily. Don’t count on getting your refund by a certain date, particularly to pay bills or make major purchases.

To use “Where’s My Refund?”  have your 2012 return handy so that you can input your social security number, filing status and dollar amount of your anticipated refund.

  • Thanks to the last minute legislation (see below) approved by Congress to solve the tax cuts portion of the “fiscal cliff,” (known as the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012), the IRS will accept e-filed returns beginning on January 30 for most taxpayers. The general timeframe that will be given is that refunds will be given within 21 days. However, there will be some situations where refunds will be delayed past the 21 day general timeframe. Despite the late start, tax season ends Monday, April 15.
  • Here are some important tax credits and deductions that will continue, at least until 2017 for the most part,  as a result of the American Taxpayer Relief Act that benefit the lower and middle income taxpayers:

A) Child tax credit will still be $1000 per child under age 17.

B) Federally funded unemployment benefits for the long term unemployed are extended for another year.

C) The child and dependent care credit, used to partially offset expenses for child care, will continue to have expense limits of $3,000 for one child and $6,000 for two children.

D) The earned income tax credit, the refundable tax credit for low income workers that is often subject to abuse from unscrupulous tax preparers, will continue to be increased for families with three or more children.

E) Educators will continue to be able to deduct up to $250 for out of pocket classroom expenses for 2012 and 2013 only.

F) The student loan interest deduction will still continue permanently, subject to phase outs for higher income taxpayers.

G) The American Opportunity Tax Credit for undergraduate college students  will continue to be a maximum of $2,500 for the next five years, subject to phase outs for higher income taxpayers.

H) The tuition and fees deduction, which  benefits undergraduate and graduate college students, will continue for 2012 and 2013 only. Taxpayers will be able to deduct up to $4000 for tuition and related fees, books,  and equipment required to enroll in college or grad school.

I) The nonbusiness energy property credit will continue to be in effect for 2012 and 2013 only. The maximum credit for taxpayers to purchase energy efficient equipment for existing principal  or second homes only, such as windows, doors, insulation, etc. will be $500.

 

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