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Through Cutting Machine_the “What Ifs” of an Economic Downturn
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The “What Ifs” of an Economic Downturn

The Internal Revenue Service recognizes that many people may be having difficult times financially. There can be a tax impact to events such as job loss, debt forgiveness or tapping a retirement fund. If your income decreased, you may be newly eligible for certain tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Most importantly, if you believe you may have trouble paying your tax bill contact the IRS immediately. There are steps we can take to help ease the burden. You also should file a tax return even if you are unable to pay so you can avoid additional penalties.

Here are some “What if” scenarios and the possible tax impact:

Job Related
 

What if I lose my job?

 

The loss of a job may create new tax issues. Severance pay and unemployment compensation are taxable. Payments for any accumulated vacation or sick time also are taxable. You should ensure that enough taxes are withheld from these payments or make estimated tax payments to avoid a big bill at tax time. Public assistance and food stamps are not taxable. The IRS has updated a helpful publication which lists a number of job-loss related tax issues.

What if my income declines?

 

There are many tax credits that are subject to income limitations. If you had a reduction in income this year you may be eligible for some credits or deductions. For example, the Earned Income Tax Credit is available for working families and individuals. Eligibility is determined by income and family size. You must file an income tax return in order to claim EITC.

Debt Related
 

What if I lose my home through foreclosure?

 

Under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, taxpayers generally can exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal residence or mortgage restructuring. This exception does not apply to second homes or vacation homes. In some cases, you may be able to file an amended tax return for previous tax years.

What if I file for bankruptcy protection?

 

Debts discharged through bankruptcy are not considered taxable income. If you are an individual debtor who files for bankruptcy under chapter 7 or 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, a separate “estate” is created consisting of property that belonged to you before the filing date. This bankruptcy estate is a new taxable entity, completely separate from you as an individual taxpayer. Please note, however, that some tax debts are not dischargeable in a bankruptcy action.

Tax Related

What if I can’t pay my taxes?

 

Don’t panic. If you cannot pay the full amount of taxes you owe, you should still file your return by the deadline and pay as much as you can to avoid penalties and interest. You also should contact the IRS to discuss your payment options at 1-800-829-1040. The agency may be able to provide some relief such as a short-term extension to pay, an installment agreement or an offer in compromise. In some cases, the agency may be able to waive penalties. However, the agency is unable to waive interest charges which accrue on unpaid tax bills.

 

 

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