Tax season is officially here! As usual, there are some possible glitches to be mindful of. Already, the IRS has alerted taxpayers that the start of filing season will be delayed. Late tax legislation, although unlikely, could result in a further delay. Some new requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have been waived for 2014, but others have not. The IRS also is facing the prospect of another government shutdown in January.
In recent years, the IRS has had to delay the start of the filing season to reprogram its return processing systems for changes in the tax laws. The 2014 filing season will also be delayed but not, as of today, because of new tax laws. The IRS operated with minimal staffing during the 16-day government shutdown in October and fell behind in its scheduled maintenance and programming of its return processing systems because employees were furloughed. At this time, the IRS expects the 2014 filing season to be delayed for possibly two weeks.
Before the shutdown, the IRS had anticipated opening the 2014 filing season on January 21, 2014. With a one- to two-week delay, the IRS would start accepting and processing returns no earlier than January 28, 2014 and no later than February 4, 2014. Individuals who file early in anticipation of receiving a refund will likely see their refunds delayed. The IRS is expected to make a final determination on the start date of the 2014 filing season in mid-December. Our office will keep you posted of developments.
Taxpayers are also waiting on some important final forms for the 2014 filing season, including Form 8960, Net Investment Income Tax. The Affordable Care Act created the new 3.8 tax on qualified net investment income, effective January 1, 2013. Additionally, the IRS has indicated that more guidance will be available for married same-sex couples. Since publication of the IRS’s initial guidance, questions have surfaced concerning employee benefits, return filing and other issues affecting married same-sex couples and domestic partners (whom the IRS does not treat as married). Late-year guidance on either the 3.8 percent net investment income tax or same-sex tax issues may require last-minute changes in year-end tax strategies.
Affordable Care Act
Starting January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act requires individuals to carry minimum essential health insurance (unless they are exempt) or make a shared responsibility payment. Tax credits and cost-sharing also kick-in next year. At this time, it appears unlikely that the Obama administration will delay the individual mandate. The employer mandate, however, is delayed. Employer reporting (and reporting by some insurers) will not apply until 2015, but is optional for 2014. Generally, employer reporting applies to employers with at least 50 full-time employees on business days during the preceding calendar year.
November was dominated by news of technical troubles for the online Affordable Care Act Marketplaces and the cancellation of some individual insurance policies that did not meet new standards. The White House has made getting the online Marketplaces running at 100 percent a priority and also gave states the option of allowing individuals to re-enroll in coverage that would otherwise be terminated. The fix is temporary and individuals will need to find alternative coverage for 2015 and beyond. Small businesses also may have received cancellation notices and should be exploring alternative coverage.
If you have any questions about these articles, please contact our office.
If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.