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Attention teachers: Those school expenses might be tax deductible

School may look a little different this year, but eligible teachers and other educators can still deduct certain unreimbursed expenses on their tax return next year.

Who is considered an eligible educator:
The taxpayer must be a kindergarten through grade 12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide. They must also work at least 900 hours a school year in a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under state law.

Things to know about this deduction:
Educators can deduct up to $250 of trade or business expenses that were not reimbursed. As teachers prepare for the school year, they should remember to keep receipts after making any purchase to support claiming this deduction.
 
The deduction is $500 if both taxpayers are eligible educators and file their return using the status married filing jointly. These taxpayers cannot deduct more than $250 each.
 
Qualified expenses are amounts the taxpayer paid themselves during the tax year.
 
Examples of expenses the educator can deduct include:

  • Professional development course fees
  • Books
  • Supplies
  • Computer equipment, including related software and services
  • Other equipment and materials used in the classroom

What to do if you missed the July 15 deadline to file and pay your taxes

While the federal income tax-filing deadline has passed for most people, some taxpayers haven’t filed their 2019 tax returns yet.

If you are entitled to a refund, there’s no penalty for filing late. Penalties and interest will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid tax due as of July 16, 2020.

If you didn’t file and owe tax you should file a return as soon as you can and pay as much as possible to reduce penalties and interest. Electronic filing options, including IRS Free File, are still available on IRS.gov through Oct. 15, 2020 to prepare and file returns electronically.

You should then review your payment options. The IRS has information for taxpayers who can’t pay taxes they owe.

Some taxpayers may have extra time to file their tax returns and pay any taxes due. This includes some disaster victims, military service members and eligible support personnel in combat zones.

Filing soon is very important because the late-filing penalty and late-payment penalty on unpaid taxes adds up quickly. However, in some cases, a taxpayer filing after the deadline may qualify for penalty relief. For those charged a penalty, they may contact the IRS by calling the number on their notice and explain why they couldn’t file and pay on time. 

Additionally, taxpayers who have a history of filing and paying on time often qualify for administrative penalty relief. A taxpayer will usually qualify if they have filed and paid timely for the past three years and meet other requirements. For more information, see the first-time penalty abatement page on IRS.gov.

Tax returns are due today; taxpayers who can’t pay should still file today

Today, 2019 tax returns are due. Taxpayers should remember to file or request an extension of time to file and pay any taxes they owe by the July 15 deadline to avoid penalties and interest. Here are some tips for taxpayers who owe tax, but who can’t immediately pay their tax bill.

Taxpayers should:

  • File their tax return or request an extension of time to file by the July 15 deadline.
    • People who owe tax and do not file their return on time or request an extension may face a failure-to-file penalty for not filing on time.
    • Taxpayers should remember that an extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay.
      • An extension gives taxpayers until Oct. 15, 2020 to file their 2019 tax return, but taxes owed are still due July 15, 2020.

  • Pay as much as possible by the July 15 due date.
    • Whether filing a return or requesting an extension, taxpayers must pay their tax bill in full by the July filing deadline to avoid penalties and interest.
    • People who do not pay their taxes on time will face a failure-to-pay penalty.
    •  IRS.gov has information for taxpayers who can’t afford to pay taxes they owe.

  • Set up a payment plan as soon as possible.
    • Taxpayers who owe but cannot pay in full by the deadline don’t have to wait for a tax bill to request a payment plan.
    • They can apply for a payment plan on IRS.gov.
    • Taxpayers can also submit a payment plan request in writing using Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request.

Taxpayers act now to receive Economic Impact Payments by direct deposit

People must use Get My Payment by noon Wednesday, May 13, for a chance to get their Economic Impact Payment by direct deposit.

After noon Wednesday, the IRS will begin preparing to mail millions of additional payments to those who haven’t received one yet. Taxpayers can expect to receive these payments beginning in late May. People who use Get My Payment before the deadline can still take advantage of the direct deposit option. Get My Payment is available in English and Spanish.

How Get My Payment works
The Get My Payment tool provides eligible taxpayers with an estimated deposit date for their Economic Impact Payment. The information is updated once a day, usually overnight. There is no need to check more often. Taxpayers who didn’t choose direct deposit on their last tax return can use this tool to enter bank account information to receive their payment by direct deposit.

Non-Filers tool is still available
For people not required to file a federal tax return, the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool, available in English and Spanish, helps them submit basic information to have an Economic Impact Payment sent to their bank account. This tool is a free and easy option for those who don’t receive:

• Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits (SSDI)
• Railroad Retirement benefits
• Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
• VA Compensation and Pension (C&P)

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for 2019 or 2018 will receive the payments automatically. Automatic payments are also being sent to those receiving Social Security retirement, disability benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, Veterans Affairs benefits or Supplemental Security Income soon.

The IRS encourages people to share this information with family and friends.

Tools to help you get your Economic Impact Payment

The IRS has two tools to help millions of taxpayers with their Economic Impact Payment. The payments are $1,200 per eligible person and up to $500 for each qualifying child.

The first tool, Non-filers: Enter Payment Info Here is available – in English and Spanish – for certain taxpayers who don’t normally need to file a return. This free tool allows them to enter basic information so the IRS can issue their payment. The second tool, Get My Payment, allows people to check the status of their payment and provide bank account information if a payment has not been scheduled for delivery.

Who needs to use Non-filers: Enter Payment Info Here?

  • Taxpayers with low- or no-income: Those who don’t normally file a tax return include those with little or no income. This includes single filers who made under $12,200 and married couples who made less than 24,400 in 2019.
  • Taxpayers who receive federal benefits: Eligible SSI and veterans’ beneficiaries who usually don’t file a tax return don’t need to provide information to get a $1,200 payment automatically. However, VA and SSI benefit recipients who don’t normally file a tax return and have children should use the free tool by May 5. This will add the $500 per qualifying child under 17 to the automatic payments. If they miss the May 5 deadline, they will have to file a tax return next year for 2020 to receive the $500 per child.
  • Married individuals must provide additional information for their spouse to claim the full $2,400 payment if their spouse didn’t receive SSA, SSDI, RRB, SSI or VA benefits in 2019 and didn’t have to file a tax return in the last two years. They need to provide this information using the Non-Filer tool before the payment is scheduled otherwise, their payment at this time will be $1,200.

Should these groups use the Non-filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool?

  • Taxpayers who have already filed or who are required to file a 2019 tax return should not use this tool. Using this tool will NOT speed up their Economic Impact Payment and will likely slow down processing of their tax return and receiving any refund.
  • People who already received their payment, even if they did not receive the full amount, should not use this tool.
  • Those who can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s 2019 tax return are not eligible for the Payment and should not use the tool.

How to use Non-filers: Enter Payment Info Here.
The process is simple, and it only takes a few minutes to complete and submit the request for their Economic Impact Payment. First, taxpayers should visit IRS.gov and go to Non-filers: Enter Payment Info Here. Then provide basic information. The IRS will use this information to confirm the taxpayer’s eligibility, calculate, and send them a payment.

No tax will be owed on Economic Income Payments. It will not reduce a taxpayer’s refund or increase the amount owed when on the 2020 tax return filed next year. It will not affect income for purposes of determining eligibility for federal government assistance or benefit programs.

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