Tax return (United States) explained

Tax returns in the United States are reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or with the state or local tax collection agency (California Franchise Tax Board, for example) containing information used to calculate income tax or other taxes. Tax returns are generally prepared using forms prescribed by the IRS or other applicable taxing authority.

To help lower-income families and individuals pay for coverage, the United States government started offering financial support in the form of subsidies, to offset the cost of monthly healthcare insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Premium tax credits are available, depending on 2015 household size and income, and insurance status should be reported when filing a tax return. [1]

Under the Internal Revenue Code returns can be classified as either tax returns or information returns, although the term "tax return" is sometimes used to describe both kinds of returns in a broad sense. Tax returns, in the more narrow sense, are reports of tax liabilities and payments, often including financial information used to compute the tax. A very common federal tax form is IRS Form 1040.

A tax return provides information so that the taxation authority can check on the taxpayer's calculations, or can determine the amount of tax owed if the taxpayer is not required to calculate that amount. [2] In contrast, an information return is a declaration by some person, such as a third party, providing economic information about one or more potential taxpayers. [2]

Information returns are reports used to transmit information about income, receipts or other matters that may affect tax liabilities. For example, Form W-2 and Form 1099 are used to report on the amount of income that an employer, independent contractor, broker, or other payer pays to a taxpayer. A company, employer, or party which has paid income (or, in a few cases, proceeds that may ultimately be determined not to be income) to a taxpayer is required to file the applicable information return directly with the IRS. A copy of the information return is also sent directly to the payee. These procedures enable the IRS to make reasonably sure that taxpayers report income correctly.

In the United States, taxpayers may file an amended return with the Internal Revenue Service to correct errors reported on a previous income tax return. Typically a taxpayer does not need to file an amended return if he or she has math errors as the IRS will make the necessary corrections. For individuals, amended returns are filed using Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. In some cases taxpayers may use Form 1045, for example, to carry back a Net Operating Loss to a prior tax period. Form 1045 is generally processed much faster than Form 1040X.

The IRS has power to require people to file Federal tax returns under . [3] Persons required to file Federal income tax are identified by . [3] People who receive more than the statutory minimum amount of gross income must file. [3]

The standard U.S. individual tax return is Form 1040. There are several variations of this form, such as the 1040EZ and the 1040A, as well as many supplemental forms.

U.S. citizens and residents who realize gross income in excess of a specified amount (adjusted annually for inflation) are required by law to file Federal income tax returns (and pay remaining income taxes if applicable).

Gross income includes most kinds of income regardless of whether the income arises from legitimate businesses. Income from the sale of illegal drugs, for example, is taxable. Many criminals, such as Al Capone, are indicted not (or not only) for their non-tax crimes, but for failure to file Federal income tax returns (and pay income taxes) on their income.

The IRS occasionally has seen "Fifth Amendment" returns from people who accurately report their annual income and tax liability but refuse to reveal the source of the funds on the grounds that such a statement would tend to incriminate the individual.

Many Americans find the process of filling out the tax forms more onerous than paying the taxes themselves. Many companies offer free and paid options for reducing the tedious labor involved in preparing one's tax return.

A taxpayer who finds a mistake on a previously filed individual income tax return can file corrections with Form 1040X.

The annual deadline to file one's Federal individual income tax return is April 15. The IRS lists scenarios for which Tax Day does not follow this standard deadline. [4]

1. A return that is mailed to the IRS is timely filed if it is delivered on or before its due date, that is April 15, but is extended to April 18th for the 2015 Tax Season which is the 2016 calendar year. A return with a U.S. postmark, which is delivered after its due date, is considered timely filed if:- the date of the postmark is no later than the due date;- the return was properly addressed;- the return had proper postage.The timely filing, timely mailing rule requires that the return be postmarked within the prescribed filing period. Thus, an individual return postmarked April 16 and received on April 20 is considered filed on April 20.

2. A return delivered by a designated private carrier is timely if the carrier marks or records the return no later than the due date of the return. The IRS can designate a private carrier if the carrier:- is available to the general public;- is as timely and reliable as U.S. first class mail;- records the date on which the package was given to it for delivery;- satisfies other conditions.The IRS has identified DHL Express, Federal Express, and United Parcel Service as designated carriers.

3. A return delivered by other means than the U.S. mail or a designated private carrier must be delivered to the appropriate IRS office on or before its due date to be timely.

4. An electronically-filed return with a timely electronic postmark is timely filed, provided that the return is filed in the manner prescribed for electronic returns. An electronic postmark is a record of the date and time, in the taxpayer’s time zone, that an authorized electronic return transmitter receives the e-filed document on its host system.

Tax return laws generally prohibit disclosure of any information gathered on a state tax return. [5] Likewise, the federal government may not (with certain exceptions) disclose tax return information without the filer's permission, [6] and each federal agency is also limited in how it can share such information with other federal agencies. [5]

Occasionally there have been efforts in Congress to require tax returns to be open to public inspection. For example, Senators Robert M. La Follette and George W. Norris supported such legislation, applicable to both individual and corporate returns, and public disclosure for wealthy taxpayers was required from 1923-1926. [7] [8] Presidential candidates have sometimes voluntarily released their tax returns.

See main article: Tax preparation. Popular tax preparation software includes TaxSlayer, TaxACT, H&R Block at Home (formerly TaxCut), and TurboTax.

In some countries, the tax agency provides a prefilled return to streamline the process, but the United States has failed to adopt these technologies as of 2015 after lobbying by tax preparation companies like Intuit. [9] A similar reform was unsuccessfully attempted in California, after a pilot known as ReadyReturn. [10]

See also: IRS tax forms. Examples of common Federal tax returns (and, where noted, information returns) include:

Form 706, U.S. Estate Tax Return;

Form 709, U.S. Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return;

Statutory excise taxes

Form 720, Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return;

Form 2290, Heavy Vehicle Use Tax Return;

Form 5330, Return of Excise Taxes Related to Employee Benefit Plans;

Employment (payroll) taxes

Form 940, Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return;

Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return;

Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return;

Form 1040A, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return;

Form 1040EZ, Income Tax Return for Single and Joint Filers with No Dependents;

Form 1041, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts (for 1993 and prior years, this was known as “U.S. Fiduciary Income Tax Return”);

Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income (for 1999 and prior years, this was known as “U.S. Partnership Return of Income”) (information return);

Form 1099 series (various titles) (information return);

Form 1120, U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return;

Form 1120S, U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation;

[ Form 2290], Income Tax Return Veicle;

  1. Web site: How health care will affect taxes. 14 November 2016.
  2. Victor Thuronyi, [;pg=PA103 Tax Law Design and Drafting'', Volume 1, page 103](International Monetary Fund 1996).
  3. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service. [ Internal Revenue Cumulative Bulletin 2005-1, January-June], page 829 (Government Printing Office 2005).
  4. Web site: Tax Topics - Topic 301 - When, Where, and How to File. IRS. 24 December 2011.
  5. Glee Harrah Cady, Pat McGregor. [;pg=PA373 Protect Your Digital Privacy: Survival Skills for the Information Age], pages 373 and 380 (Que Publishing, 2002).
  6. See generally .
  7. Roy Gillispie Blakey, Gladys C. Blakey. [;pg=PA119 The Federal Income Tax], page 119 (The Lawbook Exchange 2006).
  8. W. Elliot Brownlee. [ Federal Taxation in America: A Short History], page 97 (Cambridge University Press 2004).
  9. Would You Let the I.R.S. Prepare Your Taxes?

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Tax return (United States)".

2017 IRS Tax Refund Schedule – 2016 Tax Year

When it comes to filing a tax return, there are a few questions that people care about more than any other – how much am I paying on taxes, how much will I get back in my tax refund, and when will I receive it? Everything else, the say, is just details.

There is no quick and easy answer to the first two questions. However, we can give you a rough idea of when you will receive your tax refund, but only if you file your federal taxes electronically using a software program or with the IRS E-File. Expect longer delays if you file your return on paper, because it takes longer for the IRS to process your paperwork. The tax refund chart below offers more information on when to expect tax refunds.

Important Tax Filing Dates & Refund Dates

When can I file my tax return? The first day to officially file your 2016 tax return is January 23, 2017. However, many tax software programs will allow you to complete your return and “file” it before that date. They will then hold the returns until the IRS begins accepting them.

When are taxes due? You must file your taxes by April 18, 2017. (April 15 is the tax deadline for most years, unless it falls on a weekend or an observed holiday. April 15, 2017 is the observed holiday for Emancipation Day, for Washington DC). You can file a tax extension if you are not ready to file your taxes by the deadline.

How long does it take to receive my tax refund? Approximately 90% of tax payers will receive their refunds in less than 21 days from the day their tax return was accepted by the IRS. Most people receive their refund in an average of 10-14 days.

Are there any expected tax refund delays? Yes. The IRS is required to hold tax refunds for taxpayers who claim Earned Income Tax Credits and Additional Child Tax credit until at least Feb. 15, 2017. Keep in mind it can still take a week to receive the refund after the IRS releases it. So some people who file early may experience delays while awaiting their refund. Refunds should be processed normally after this date. Also note that new identity theft protections and anti-fraud measures may hold up some refunds, as some tax returns may be held for further review.

IRS E-File Schedule for Check Refunds and Direct Deposits

The following tax refund table is based on previous refund tables released by the IRS to help tax payers know when they should receive their tax refund.

Where to send an amended federal tax return

When you receive your refund depends on how and when you file.

The IRS moved to the Modernized E-file System (MEF) for tax year 2012. The IRS only issued refunds once per week under the old system. They now issue refunds every day, Monday through Friday (except holidays).

Due to changes in the IRS auditing system, they no longer release a full schedule as they did in previous years. The following chart is based on estimates from past years and should only be used as a rough guideline.

To use the tax refund chart:

  • Use the left hand column to look up the date your tax refund was accepted
  • Use the middle or right column to look up when you should receive your refund (depending on how you requested your refund – direct deposit or paper check).

If you filed your taxes with E-File, you should receive a confirmation that your tax return was accepted by the IRS. This date will go in the left column. If you didn’t file your taxes electronically, then this chart may not be useful for you for two reasons: you won’t have a confirmation date regarding when your tax return was accepted, and paper tax returns are manually entered by IRS employees, so the process takes longer.

You will also note that this chart covers dates beyond the traditional filing date. If you file after April 18, 2017, then you should file a tax extension request. It’s simple, and can potentially save you a lot of money in penalties. Note: Some military members may be eligible for additional tax deadline extensions if they were deployed or served overseas during the tax year.

Note: The IRS announced the official first day to file tax returns is January 23, 2017. However, in some previous years, the IRS has accepted tax returns early, or delayed the acceptance of returns, depending on technical issues. We will update this article to reflect that information if we hear about it this year. You can try to extrapolate the refund date based on the the below chart.