COVID Tax Tip 2020-71: An extension to file is not an extension to pay taxes

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If you have tax related questions, please call Kevin M. Sayed, J.D., LL.M., at 252-321-2020.  The following materials were originally published on the IRS Tax Tips website.

For most taxpayers the filing and payment deadline was postponed July 15. Those who need more time to file beyond the postponed date, can request an extension to file. Taxpayers must request an extension to file by July 15. This gives them until October 15 to file their tax return. An extension to file is not an extension to pay. Taxes must be paid by July 15.

How to request an extension to file
To get an extension to file, taxpayers must do one of the following:
•  File Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software or using Free File on IRS.gov.
•  Submit an electronic payment with Direct Pay, Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or by debit, credit card or digital wallet and select Form 4868 or extension as the payment type.

An automatic extension of time to file will process when taxpayers pay all or part of their taxes electronically by the Wednesday, July 15 due date.

Although the tax filing deadline has been postponed to July 15, 2020, the IRS continues processing electronic tax returns, issuing direct deposit refunds and accepting electronic payments.

The agency is now is back to processing paper tax returns sent by mail. However, taxpayers who mailed a paper tax return will likely experience a longer wait time. Those who have already mailed a paper tax return but, it hasn’t yet been processed, should not file a second tax return or write the IRS to check the status of their tax return or Economic Impact Payment.

More information:
Coronavirus Tax Relief: Filing and Payment Deadlines
Coronavirus Tax Relief and Economic Impact Payments

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IRS.gov helps taxpayers get tax information they need; find tools for filing, paying, checking accounts and answering questions

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If you have tax related questions, please call Kevin M. Sayed, J.D., LL.M., at 252-321-2020.  The following materials were originally published by the IRS.

The Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers today about several online tools available to help them get the tax information they need as the IRS has limited operations due to the coronavirus.

More taxpayers are using IRS.gov than ever before; as of May 8, the agency’s website had been visited a record 1 billion times, up 141% compared to the same time last year.

The tools on IRS.gov are easy-to-use and available 24 hours a day. Millions of taxpayers use them to help file and pay taxes, find information about their accounts and get answers to tax questions.

Take advantage of Free File products 
The IRS Free File program, available only through IRS.gov, offers 70% of all taxpayers the choice of 10 brand-name tax preparation software packages to use at no cost. The software does all the work of finding deductions, credits and exemptions for which the taxpayer qualifies. It‘s free for those who earned $69,000 or less in 2019. Some of the Free File packages also offer free state tax return preparation.

Any taxpayer, regardless of income, who is comfortable preparing their own taxes can use Free File Fillable Forms. Taxpayers also use this electronic version of paper IRS tax forms to file tax returns online.

The IRS automatically extended the federal income tax filing due date from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. Individual taxpayers who need more time to file their income tax returns beyond the July 15 deadline can use IRS Free File to electronically request an automatic tax-filing extension. This gives the taxpayer until Oct. 15 to file their tax return. To get the extension, the taxpayer must estimate their tax liability and pay any amount due.

Choose from a variety of payment options
Taxpayers should visit the “Pay” tab on IRS.gov to see their payment options. Most tax software products give taxpayers various payment options, including the option to withdraw the funds from a bank account. These include:

Last month, the IRS also announced that taxpayers generally have until July 15, 2020, to pay federal income taxes originally due on April 15. No late-filing penalty, late-payment penalty or interest will be due. This includes estimated tax payments normally due April 15 and June 15, which are now extended to July 15, 2020.

View tax account information online
To see their tax account, taxpayers can use the View Your Account tool. They’ll find information such as a payoff amount, the balance for each tax year owed, up to 24 months of their payment history and key information from their current tax year return as originally filed.

Taxpayers can use the Get Transcript tool to view, print or download their tax transcripts after the IRS has processed the return. Taxpayers will notice a delay in the processing of their Forms 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, because of closed IRS offices due to COVID-19. Tax return transcripts show most line items from an original tax return, along with any forms and schedules, but not any changes made after the taxpayer filed it. The tool is free and available on IRS.gov. Ordering a tax transcript will not speed up a taxpayer’s refund or provide an updated refund date.

Taxpayers can easily find the most up-to-date information about their tax refund using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on IRS.gov and on the official IRS mobile app, IRS2Go. Within 24 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of an e-filed return, taxpayers can start checking on the status of their refund. Taxpayers should be aware that the IRS isn’t currently processing paper tax returns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Get answers to tax questions and Economic Impact Payments
Taxpayers may find answers to many of their questions using the Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA), a tax law resource that works using a series of questions and provides responses. IRS.gov has answers for Frequently Asked Questions. The IRS website has tax information in: Spanish (Español); Chinese (中文); Korean (한국어); Russian (Pусский); Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt); and Haitian Creole (Kreyòl ayisyen).

For questions concerning Economic Impact Payments, visit the Economic Impact Payments section of IRS.gov. Taxpayers will find two tools there to help them get their payments: “Get My Payment” and “Nonfilers: Enter Payment Info Here.” Both tools are available in English and in Spanish.

Taxpayers should use “Get My Payment” to check payment status, confirm payment type and enter bank account information for direct deposit if the IRS doesn’t have that information and hasn’t sent payment yet. Those who don’t normally file taxes must use “Nonfilers: Enter Payment Info Here” to provide simple information, so they can get their payment.

People who receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Railroad Retirement benefits and VA Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefits don’t use the “Nonfilers: Enter Payment Info Here” tool to receive their Economic Impact Payment. The IRS already has this information and those who receive these benefits will automatically receive $1,200. But, for those who receive benefits in these groups and have a qualifying child, they may be eligible for an additional $500 per child. However, their payment will be $1,200 and, by law, the IRS would pay the additional $500 per eligible child amount in association with a return filing for tax year 2020.

For more information on the payments see the Economic Impact Payment FAQs and see our Get My Payment FAQs for more information about this tool.

Watch out for scams related to Economic Impact Payments
The IRS urges taxpayers to be on the lookout for scams related to the Economic Impact Payments. To use the new app or get information, taxpayers should visit IRS.gov. People should watch out for scams using email, phone calls or texts related to the payments. Be careful and cautious: The IRS will not send unsolicited electronic communications asking people to open attachments, visit a website or share personal or financial information. Remember, go directly and solely to IRS.gov for official information.

The IRS is regularly updating Economic Impact Payments and Get My Payment application frequently asked questions pages on IRS.gov. Check IRS.gov/coronavirus often for the latest additions that answer many common questions.

Tax Return Filing Procedures & Economic Impact Payments

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If you have questions regarding tax returns, please call Kevin M. Sayed, J.D., LL.M., at 252-321-2020.  The following materials were originally published by the IRS.

Revenue Procedure 2020-28 provides two tax return filing procedures for certain individuals who are eligible for the economic impact payment https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Public Law 116-136, 134 Stat. 281 (March 27, 2020), but are not otherwise required to file 2019 Federal income tax returns. The first procedure is a simplified procedure for eligible individuals who voluntarily wish to file a Federal income tax return only to receive allowed economic impact payments. These eligible individuals are encouraged to use the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here tool, available at www.irs.gov/coronavirus, to submit information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to receive their allowed economic impact payment much more quickly than if they filed a paper return. The second procedure accommodates zero AGI electronic filers who utilize tax return preparation software or otherwise need to provide more detail in filing State or local tax returns than that allowed by the simplified procedure.

Federal income tax returns filed in accordance with these procedures should be filed as soon as possible but not later than October 15, 2020, to ensure that the IRS will have sufficient time to process all returns and make all resulting economic impact payments before December 31, 2020, as required by the CARES Act. The “Get My Payment” tool provides the most up-to-date information regarding the status of an eligible individual’s economic impact payment.

Answers to your Economic Impact Payment Questions

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If you have tax related questions, please call Kevin M. Sayed, J.D., LL.M., at 252-321-2020.  The following materials were originally published by the IRS.

The IRS is regularly updating the Economic Impact Payment  and the Get My Payment tool frequently asked questions pages on IRS.gov as more information becomes available. Taxpayers should check the FAQs often for the latest additions; many common questions are answered in these.

More than 80 million Economic Impact Payments have already been delivered to the nation’s taxpayers. More payments are on their way. As part of this effort, the IRS has launched two tools to help taxpayers get their payments:

  1.  Get My Payment is helping millions of taxpayers. Since its launch on April 15, millions of  taxpayers have been able to input their direct deposit information to speed—and track—their payments. The IRS reminds taxpayers the information is updated once daily, usually overnight, so they only need to enter information once a day.
  2.  The Non-Filers Enter Payment Info tool is helping millions of taxpayers successfully submit basic information to receive Economic Impact Payments quickly to their bank accounts. This tool is designed only for people who are not required to submit a tax return.The IRS is working hard to deliver Economic Impact Payments to all eligible Americans as quickly as possible.

Quick links to the Frequently Asked Questions on IRS.gov:

Economic Impact Payments: www.irs.gov/eipfaq
Get My Payment tool: www.irs.gov/getmypaymentfaq

IRS issues warning about Coronavirus-related scams

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Watch out for schemes tied to economic impact payments

If you have tax related questions, please call Kevin M. Sayed, J.D., LL.M., at 252-321-2020.  The following materials were originally published by the IRS.

The Internal Revenue Service today urged taxpayers to be on the lookout for a surge of calls and email phishing attempts about the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. These contacts can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft.

“We urge people to take extra care during this period. The IRS isn’t going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “That also applies to surprise emails that appear to be coming from the IRS. Remember, don’t open them or click on attachments or links. Go to IRS.gov for the most up-to-date information.”

Taxpayers should watch not only for emails but text messages, websites and social media attempts that request money or personal information.

“History has shown that criminals take every opportunity to perpetrate a fraud on unsuspecting victims, especially when a group of people is vulnerable or in a state of need,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Don Fort. “While you are waiting to hear about your economic impact payment, criminals are working hard to trick you into getting their hands on it. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division is working hard to find these scammers and shut them down, but in the meantime, we ask people to remain vigilant.”

Don’t fall prey to Coronavirus tricks; retirees among potential targets
The IRS and its Criminal Investigation Division have seen a wave of new and evolving phishing schemes against taxpayers. In most cases, the IRS will deposit economic impact payments into the direct deposit account taxpayers previously provided on tax returns. Those taxpayers who have previously filed but not provided direct deposit information to the IRS will be able to provide their banking information online to a newly designed secure portal on IRS.gov in mid-April. If the IRS does not have a taxpayer’s direct deposit information, a check will be mailed to the address on file. Taxpayers should not provide their direct deposit or other banking information for others to input on their behalf into the secure portal.

The IRS also reminds retirees who don’t normally have a requirement to file a tax return that no action on their part is needed to receive their $1,200 economic impact payment. Seniors should be especially careful during this period. The IRS reminds retirees – including recipients of Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099 −  that no one from the agency will be reaching out to them by phone, email, mail or in person asking for any kind of information to complete their economic impact payment, also sometimes referred to as rebates or stimulus payments. The IRS is sending these $1,200 payments automatically to retirees – no additional action or information is needed on their part to receive this.
The IRS reminds taxpayers that scammers may:

  • Emphasize the words “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.” The official term is economic impact payment.
  • Ask the taxpayer to sign over their economic impact payment check to them.
  • Ask by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information saying that the information is needed to receive or speed up their economic impact payment.
  • Suggest that they can get a tax refund or economic impact payment faster by working on the taxpayer’s behalf. This scam could be conducted by social media or even in person.
  • Mail the taxpayer a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, then tell the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.

Reporting Coronavirus-related or other phishing attempts
Those who receive unsolicited emails, text messages or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), should forward it to phishing@irs.gov.

Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone. Learn more about reporting suspected scams by going to the Report Phishing and Online Scams page on IRS.gov.

Official IRS information about the COVID-19 pandemic and economic impact payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page on IRS.gov. The page is updated quickly when new information is available.

Relief from Penalty for Failure to Deposit Employment Taxes

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If you are an employer with tax related questions, please call Kevin M. Sayed, J.D., LL.M., at 252-321-2020.  The following materials were originally published by the IRS.

Notice 2020-22 provides a waiver of additions to tax for failure to make a deposit of taxes for employers required to pay qualified sick leave wages and qualified family leave wages mandated by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First Act) and qualified health plan expenses allocable to these wages.  This notice also provides a waiver of additions to tax for failure to make a deposit of taxes for certain employers subject to a full or partial closure order due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) or experiencing a statutorily specified decline in business under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).  This notice applies to deposits of Employment Taxes (including withheld income taxes, taxes under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act and taxes under the Railroad Retirement Act) reduced in anticipation of the credits with respect to qualified sick leave wages and qualified family leave wages paid with respect to the period beginning April 1, 2020, and ending December 31, 2020.  This notice applies with respect to deposits of Employment Taxes reduced in anticipation of the credits with respect to qualified wages paid with respect to the period beginning on March 13, 2020, and ending December 31, 2020.  This relief ensures that such employers may pay qualified sick leave wages and qualified family leave wages required by the Families First Act or qualified wages under the CARES Act using Employment Taxes that would otherwise be required to be deposited without incurring a failure to deposit penalty.

IRS increases visits to high-income taxpayers who haven’t filed tax returns

If you are a taxpayer or tax preparer experiencing these issues, please call Kevin M. Sayed, J.D., LL.M., at 252-321-2020. The following materials were originally published by the IRS.

WASHINGTON – As part of a larger effort to ensure compliance and fairness, the Internal Revenue Service today announced that it will step up efforts to visit high-income taxpayers who in prior years have failed to timely file one or more of their tax returns.

Following the recent and ongoing hiring of additional enforcement personnel, IRS revenue officers across the country will increase face-to-face visits with high-income taxpayers who haven’t filed tax returns in 2018 or previous years. These visits are primarily aimed at informing these taxpayers of their tax filing and paying obligations and bringing these taxpayers into compliance.

“The IRS is committed to fairness in the tax system, and we want to remind people across all income categories that they need to file their taxes,” said Paul Mamo, Director of Collection Operations, Small Business/Self Employed Division. “These visits focusing on high-income taxpayers will be taking place across the country.  We want to ensure taxpayers know their options to get right with their taxes and avoid bigger issues later.”

For the current tax season, the IRS reminds taxpayers that everyone should file their 2019 tax return by the April 15 filing deadline regardless of whether they can pay in full. Six-month filing extensions are also available, although that does not extend the April deadline for paying any taxes owed.

“Taxpayers having delinquent filing or payment obligations should consult a competent tax advisor before waiting to be contacted by an IRS revenue officer, Mamo said. “It is always worthwhile to take advantage of various methods of getting back into filing or payment compliance before being personally contacted by the IRS.”

For the new visits taking place, high-income non-filers taxpayers are those who generally received income in excess of $100,000 during a tax year and did not file a tax return with the IRS. Taxpayers who exercise their best efforts in filing their tax returns and paying or entering into agreements to pay their taxes deserve to know that the IRS is aggressively pursuing others who have failed to satisfy their filing and payment obligations.

During the visits, IRS revenue officers will share information and work with the taxpayer to hopefully resolve the tax issue.

How to pay

There are many payment options for people having trouble paying their tax bill. Payment plans can be set up quickly online.

Once returns are filed or an assessment occurs, there are various online payment options available at IRS.gov, including direct pay through a bank account or using a debit or credit card. Other ways to pay include the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (best option for businesses or large payments; enrollment required), Electronic Funds Withdrawal (using during e-filing), same-day wire (bank fees may apply), check or money order or cash (at a participating retail partner). Those who can’t pay immediately may be able to meet their tax obligation in monthly installments by applying for a payment plan (including installment agreements and those who owe less than $50,000), they can find out if they qualify for an offer in compromise  (a way to settle their tax debt for less than the full amount), or request that the IRS temporarily delay collection until their financial situation improves.

For those who refuse to pay, the IRS has a number of options available under the law, ranging from a series of civil enforcement actions and, when appropriate, pursuing criminal cases against taxpayers. IRS compliance personnel are also now working more closely with IRS criminal investigators on priority compliance issues, including high-income cases.

“These compliance visits underscore the importance of people filing their taxes this April, even if they can’t pay the full amount of tax due,” said Hank Kea, Director of Field Collection Operations, Small Business/Self Employed Division. “Not filing because you don’t believe you can pay at the time of filing makes the problem worse, as interest and penalties mount over time. We have many payment options available on IRS.gov to help taxpayers. It’s better to work on these issues up front rather than ignoring it and ultimately getting to the point of the IRS taking more serious action. Our continued use of ever-changing technologies, coupled with additional enforcement personnel, would suggest that waiting is not a viable option for delinquent taxpayers.”

What’s a revenue officer’s job?
Revenue officers are trained IRS civil enforcement employees who work to resolve compliance issues, such as missing returns or taxes owed. Revenue officers conduct interviews to gather financial information and provide taxpayers with the necessary steps to become and remain compliant with the law. When necessary, they will take the appropriate enforcement actions to collect the amount owed, following the law while respecting taxpayer rights and following the law.

Don’t be confused: Visits are not a scam
For this new initiative, these high-income taxpayers have typically received numerous letters from the IRS over an extended period of time, so they generally realize they have a tax issue.

Revenue officer visits shouldn’t be confused with scams. Here’s what to look for:

  • While most IRS revenue officer visits to a taxpayer are unannounced, they will always provide two forms of official credentials, both include a serial number and photo of the IRS employee. Taxpayers have the right to see each of these credentials.
  • A legitimate revenue officer helps taxpayers understand and meet their tax obligations. The officer will explain the liability to the taxpayer, along with the consequences of failing to comply with the law. The IRS employee will not make threats nor demand an unusual form of payment for a nonexistent liability.
  • Visits by revenue officers generally occur after numerous contacts by mail about an existing tax issue; taxpayers should be aware they have a tax issue when these visits occur.
  • If someone has an outstanding federal tax debt, the visiting officer will request payment but will provide a range of options, including paying by check written to the U.S. Treasury.
  • More information on identifying legitimate IRS representatives and how to report scams can be found at IRS.gov.

 

Fraud Referral a Priority for IRS Small Business Unit’s New Head

For answers to your questions regarding small business tax returns, please call Kevin M. Sayed, J.D., LL.M., at 252-321-2020. The following materials were originally published by Bloomberg BNA.

September 12, 2019 3:43 PM

Referring more cases for criminal investigation will be a top priority for the IRS’s Small Business/Self-Employed division, the unit’s new leader said.

Strengthening the relationship between SB/SE and the IRS’s Criminal Investigation division “is an important component as to why I’m in this position,” Eric Hylton, the new commissioner of SB/SE, said Sept. 12 on a call with reporters. He worked at CI for 26 years before taking his new position Sept. 1.

  •  Hylton’s appointment aligns with IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig’s previously stated goal of increasing the number of cases that the agency’s civil divisions refer to CI. The referrals now are only 7% of CI’s total caseload, both Rettig and Hylton have said.
  •  “Fraud referrals should represent a much higher percentage of CI’s inventory,” Hylton said on the call. “This definitely will be an area of emphasis.”
  •  SB/SE also will aim to increase outreach to external agencies like the Justice Department, and will ramp up enforcement and make better use of data analytics, he said.
  •  Hylton was joined on the call by Darren Guillot, new deputy commissioner for collection and operations support at SB/SE, and De Lon Harris, the new deputy commissioner for examination. They also began their new roles Sept. 1.

To contact the reporter on this story: Allyson Versprille in Washington at aversprille@bloombergtax.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Patrick Ambrosio at pambrosio@bloombergtax.com; Kathy Larsen at klarsen@bloombergtax.com

 

 

 

It’s important for tax pros to know the signs they are a cyberthief’s victim

If you are a taxpayer or tax preparer experiencing these issues, please call Kevin M. Sayed, J.D., LL.M., at 252-321-2020. The following materials were originally published by the IRS.

Tax professionals should learn the tell-tale signs that their office may have experienced a data theft. Such thefts could have resulted in fraudulent tax returns filed in their clients’ names.

Here is a list of warning signs that a tax professional or their office may have experienced a data theft:

  • Their clients’ e-filed returns are rejected by the IRS or state tax agencies. This happens because someone else already filed a tax return with their client’s Social Security number.
  • Clients who haven’t filed tax returns begin to receive taxpayer authentication letters from the IRS. The IRS sends letters such as the 5071C, 4883C and 5747C to confirm a taxpayer’s identity for a submitted tax return.
  • Clients who haven’t filed tax returns receive refunds.
  • Clients receive tax transcripts that they didn’t request.
  • Clients who created an IRS Online Services account receive an IRS notice that their account was accessed.
  • Clients who have an account get an IRS emails saying their account is disabled.
  • Clients unexpectedly receive an IRS notice that an IRS online account was created in their names.
  • The number of returns filed with the tax professional’s Electronic Filing Identification Number is higher than the number of clients they have.
  • Tax professionals or clients responding to emails that the firm did not send.
  • Network computers running slower than normal.
  • Computer cursors moving or changing numbers when the user is not even touching the keyboard.
  • Network computers locking out employees.

More information:

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Tips for taxpayers who make money from a hobby

For answers to your questions regarding tax returns, please call Kevin M. Sayed, J.D., LL.M., at 252-321-2020. The following materials were originally published by the IRS.

Many people enjoy hobbies that are also a source of income. From painting and pottery to scrapbooking and soap making, these activities can be sources of both fun and finances. Taxpayers who make money from a hobby must report that income on their tax return.

However, the rules for how to report the income and expenses depend on whether the activity is a hobby or a business.

There are special rules and limits for deductions taxpayers can claim for hobbies. Here are five things to consider:

If the activity is a business or a hobby.
If someone has a business, they operate the business to make a profit. In contrast, people engage in a hobby for sport or recreation, not to make a profit. Taxpayers should consider nine factors when determining whether their activity is a business or a hobby. They should base their determination on all the facts and circumstances of their activity.

Allowable hobby deductions.
Taxpayers can only deduct ordinary and necessary hobby expenses:

  • Ordinary expense is common and accepted for the activity.
  • Necessary expense is appropriate for the activity.

Limits on hobby expenses.
Taxpayers can generally only deduct hobby expenses up to the amount of hobby income. If hobby expenses are more than its income, taxpayers have a loss from the activity. However, a hobby loss can’t be deducted from other income.

How to deduct hobby expenses.
Taxpayers must itemize deductions on their tax return to deduct hobby expenses. Taxpayers can look into this now to determine if they will itemize their deductions when they file their 2019 tax return next year. Expenses may fall into three types of deductions, and special rules apply to each type.

Use IRS Free File.
Hobby rules can be complex. IRS Free File can make filing a tax return easier.

More Information:
Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business
Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income
Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions
Publication 535, Business Expenses
Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax
About Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business
Estimated Taxes

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