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Here’s why taxpayers should have an online IRS account

An IRS online account is an safe an easy way for individual taxpayers to view specific details about their federal tax account. Here are some of the benefits and features of this online system.

Taxpayers can view:

  • Their payoff amount, which is updated for the current day.
  • The balance for each tax year for which they owe taxes.
  • Their payment history.
  • Key information from the their most current tax return as originally filed.
  • Payment plan details if they have one.
  • Digital copies of select IRS notices.
  • Economic Impact Payments if they received any.
  • Their address on file.

After viewing their information, a taxpayer can:

  • Select an electronic payment option.
  • Set up an online payment agreement.
  • Go directly to Get Transcript.

New authorization feature

The new the “authorization” option in Online Account allows taxpayers to control who can represent them before the IRS or view their tax records. They can also approve and electronically sign Power of Attorney and Tax Information Authorization requests from their tax professional.

Taxpayer’s balance will update no more than once every 24 hours, usually overnight. Taxpayers should also allow 1 to 3 weeks for payments to show up in the payment history.

To access their information online, taxpayers must register through Secure Access. This is the agency’s two-factor authentication process that protects personal info. Taxpayers can review the Secure Access page process prior to starting registration.

A tip for teachers: Some educator expenses may be tax deductible

The educator expense deduction allows eligible teachers and administrators to deduct part of the cost of technology, supplies and training from their taxes. They can only claim this deduction for expenses that were not reimbursed by their employer, a grant or other source.

 

Who is 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.

 

Here are some of the expenses an educator can deduct:

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

IRS online tool helps families determine if they qualify for the child tax credit

The IRS urges families to use a special online tool, available only on IRS.gov, to help them determine whether they qualify for the child tax credit and the special monthly advance payments beginning July 15.

The Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant is interactive and easy to use. By answering a series of questions about themselves and their family members, a parent or other family member can quickly determine whether they qualify for the credit. This tool is available in Spanish.

This tool may be particularly useful to families who don’t normally file a federal tax return and have not yet filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return. Often, these are people who receive little or no income, including those experiencing homelessness, low-income households and other underserved groups. This tool can help them decide whether they should take the next step and register for the advance child tax credit payments.

The Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant does not request any personally-identifiable information for any family member. For this reason, its results are not an official IRS determination. The results are reliable, though people should consider the results preliminary, even if all their answers are accurate. The IRS does not keep the answers the user supplies, or the tool’s results.

To help people understand and receive this benefit, the IRS has created a special Advance Child Tax Credit 2021 page on IRS.gov. This page provides the most up-to-date information about the credit and the advance payments. Among other things, the page already features a link to both the Non-filer Sign-up Tool, and the Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant, along with the Child Tax Credit Update Portal.


If eligible, the Non-filer Sign-up Tool is available for those who don’t normally file tax returns.

The online Non-filer Sign-up Tool helps eligible families who don’t normally file tax returns register for the monthly advance child tax credit payments. It offers a free and easy way for eligible people who don’t normally have to file taxes to provide the IRS the basic information needed – name, address, and Social Security numbers – to figure and issue advance child tax credit payments.

This tool is also helps eligible individuals who don’t normally file tax returns register for the $1,400 third round of Economic Impact Payments, also known as stimulus checks, and claim the recovery rebate credit for any amount of the first two rounds of Economic Impact Payments they may have missed.

No action needed by most other families.

Eligible families who already filed or plan to file 2019 or 2020 income tax returns or used the Non-filer tool during 2020 to sign up for the Economic Impact Payments, should not use the Non-filer Sign-up Tool. Once the IRS processes their 2019 or 2020 tax return, the information will be used to determine eligibility and issue advance payments. These families do not need to do anything else to get their payments.

Here’s who should not use this tool.

Families who want to claim other tax benefits, such as the earned income tax credit should not use the Non-Filer Sign-up tool. They should file a regular tax return. For them, the fastest and easiest way to file a return is the Free File system, available only on IRS.gov.

Check “Get My Payment” for status of third EIP and watch the mail

The IRS continues to issue the third round of Economic Impact Payments to eligible individuals, with payments being issued as a direct deposit or by mail as a paper check or prepaid EIP debit card. No action is needed by most eligible people to receive a third Economic Impact Payment automatically.

Check Get My Payment to see if a third payment is scheduled People can check to see if the their third payment has been scheduled using the Get My Payment tool on IRS.gov. The tool does not show the amount of the third Economic Impact Payment.

The form of payment for the third EIP may be different than earlier stimulus payments. More people are receiving direct deposits, while those receiving a payment in the mail may get a paper check or an EIP Card. IRS and the Treasury Department urge eligible people to check Get My Payment and see whether their payment has been scheduled for delivery as a direct deposit or by mail as a check or EIP card.

Watch the mail for paper checks and EIP Cards Paper checks will arrive by mail in a white envelope from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. For those taxpayers who received their tax refund by mail, this paper check will look similar, but will have Economic Impact Payment in the memo field.

The EIP Card will also come in a white envelope prominently displaying the seal of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The card has the Visa name on the front and the issuing bank, MetaBank, N.A. on the back. Information included with the card will explain that this is an Economic Impact Payment. Each mailing will include instructions on how to securely activate and use the card.

EIP cards issued for any of the three rounds of payments are not reloadable. Recipients will receive a separate card and will not be able to reload funds onto an existing card.

EIP Cards are safe, convenient, and secure
These cards provide certain protections against fraud, loss, and other errors. They can be used to make purchases online or in stores anywhere Visa® Debit Cards are accepted.

Cardholders can use the cards to do any of the following without paying a fee:

  • Transfer funds to a personal bank account
  • Make signature or PIN-debit purchases anywhere Visa Debit Cards are accepted — in stores, online or by phone
  • Get cash back with a PIN debit purchase where available
  • Get cash from in-network ATMs
  • Get a replacement EIP Card, if needed
  • Check their card balance online, through a mobile app or by phone

The EIP Card is sponsored by the Bureau of the Fiscal Service and is issued by Treasury’s financial agent, MetaBank, N.A. The IRS does not determine who receives a prepaid debit card.

For more information about these cards people can visit EIPcard.com. The latest details about the third round of Economic Impact Payments are available on IRS.gov

Here’s how taxpayers can track the status of their refund

Tracking the status of a tax refund is easy with the Where’s My Refund? tool. It’s conveniently accessible at IRS.gov or through the IRS2Go App.

Taxpayers can start checking their refund status within 24 hours after an e-filed return is received.

Refund timing
Where’s My Refund provides a personalized date after the return is processed and a refund is approved. While most tax refunds are issued within 21 days, some may take longer if the return requires additional review.

Here are some reasons a tax refund may take longer:

  • The return may include errors or be incomplete.
  • The return could be affected by identity theft or fraud.
  • Many banks do not process payments on weekends or holidays.

Claiming the recovery rebate credit on a 2020 tax return will not delay processing of a tax return. However, it is important that taxpayers claim the correct amount. If a correction is needed, there may be a slight delay in processing the return. If corrections are made, the IRS will send the taxpayer notice explaining any changes. The recovery rebate credit will be included in the tax refund.

The IRS will contact taxpayers by mail if more information is needed to process their tax return.

Fast and easy refund updates
Taxpayers can start checking on the status of their return within 24 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of an electronically filed return or four weeks after the taxpayer mails a paper return. The tool’s tracker displays progress in three phases:

  1. Return received
  2. Refund approved
  3. Refund sent

To use Where’s My Refund, taxpayers must enter their Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, their filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of their refund. The IRS updates the tool once a day, usually overnight, so there’s no need to check more often.

Calling the IRS won’t speed up a tax refund. The information available on Where’s My Refund? is the same information available to IRS phone assistors.

Important Information on Unreceived Stimulus Payments: For Non-Filers and Those Eligible

As we move into the 2020 tax filing season, I know that there are many questions related to missing or partially received Economic Impact Payments (EIPs), also known as stimulus payments. If you were eligible and did not receive an Economic Impact Payment – or you were issued less than the full amount – then you are encouraged to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC) by filing your Form 1040 or 1040-SR.

To determine if you are eligible for a Recovery Rebate Credit, CLICK HERE.

It is important to note that while Economic Impact Payments were based-off of your 2018 or 2019 tax filings, the Recovery Rebate Credit is based-off of your 2020 tax filing – eligibility and amount. Moreover, you must file a 2020 tax return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit, even if you are not required to file taxes because of your age, income, or filing status, also known as a non-filer.

You may find a full list of frequently asked questions related to the Recovery Rebate Credit for non-filers HERE.

To determine the amount of your Recovery Rebate Credit, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has provided a Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet found in the 1040 and 1040-SR instructions – page 59.

You can find the Form 1040 and 1040-SR Instructions HERE.

The quickest way to receive the Recovery Rebate Credit is to file your taxes electronically and have your refund direct deposited into your financial account.

For further information on the Recovery Rebate Credit please visit IRS.gov/RRC.

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