Tax Preparation Help  
Form 1040 Instructions 2005 2005 Tax Year

General Information

How to Avoid Common Mistakes

Mistakes may delay your refund or result in notices being sent to you.

  • Make sure you entered the correct name and social security number (SSN) for each dependent you claim on line 6c. Check that each dependent’s name and SSN agrees with his or her social security card. For each child under age 17 who is a qualifying child for the child tax credit, make sure you either checked the box in Line 6C, column (4), or completed Form 8901.
  • Check your math, especially for the child tax credit, earned income credit (EIC), taxable social security benefits, total income, itemized deductions or standard deduction, deduction for exemptions, taxable income, total tax, federal income tax withheld, and refund or amount you owe.
  • Be sure you use the correct method to figure your tax. See the instructions for Line 44 that begin on page 37.
  • Be sure to enter your SSN in the space provided on page 1 of Form 1040. If you are married filing a joint or separate return, also enter your spouse’s SSN. Be sure to enter your SSN in the space next to your name. Check that your name and SSN agree with your social security card.
  • Make sure your name and address are correct on the peel-off label. If not, enter the correct information. If you did not get a peel-off label, enter your (and your spouse’s) name in the same order as shown on your last return. Check that your name agrees with your social security card.
  • If you are taking the standard deduction and you checked any box on Line 39a or 39b or you (or your spouse if filing jointly) can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s 2005 return, see page 35 to be sure you entered the correct amount on Line 40.
  • If you received capital gain distributions but were not required to file Schedule D, make sure you checked the box on line 13.
  • If you are taking the EIC, be sure you used the correct column of the EIC Table for your filing status and the number of children you have.
  • Remember to sign and date Form 1040 and enter your occupation(s).
  • Attach your Form(s) W-2 and other required forms and schedules. Put all forms and schedules in the proper order. See Assemble Your Return above.
  • If you owe tax and are paying by check or money order, be sure to include all the required information on your payment. See the instructions for Line 75 on page 60 for details.

What Are Your Rights as a Taxpayer?

You have the right to be treated fairly, professionally, promptly, and courteously by IRS employees. Our goal at the IRS is to protect your rights so that you will have the highest confidence in the integrity, efficiency, and fairness of our tax system. To ensure that you always receive such treatment, you should know about the many rights you have at each step of the tax process. For details, see Pub. 1.

Innocent Spouse Relief

Generally, both you and your spouse are each responsible for paying the full amountof tax, interest, and penalties on your joint return. However, you may qualify for relief from liability for tax on a joint return if (a) there is an understatement of tax because your spouse omitted income or claimed false deductions or credits, (b) you are divorced, separated, or no longer living with your spouse, or (c) given all the facts and circumstances, it would not be fair to hold you liable for the tax. To request relief, you must file Form 8857 no later than 2 years after the date on which the IRS first attempted to collect the tax from you. For more information, see Pub. 971 and Form 8857.

Income Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax Payments for 2006

If the amount you owe or the amount you overpaid is large, you may want to file a new Form W-4 with your employer to change the amount of income tax withheld from your 2006 pay. For details on how to complete Form W-4, see Pub 919.

In general, you do not have to make estimated tax payments if you expect that your 2006 Form 1040 will show a tax refund or a tax balance due of less than $1,000. If your total estimated tax (including any household employment taxes or alternative minimum tax) for 2006 is $1,000 or more, see Form 1040-ES. It has a worksheet you can use to see if you have to make estimated tax payments. For more deails, see Pub. 505.

Do Both the Name and SSN on Your Tax Forms Agree With Your Social Security Card?

If not, certain deductions and credits may be reduced or disallowed, your refund may be delayed, and you may not receive credit for your social security earnings. If your Form W-2, Form 1099, or other tax document shows an incorrect SSN or name, no tify your employer or the form-issuing agent as soon as possible to make sure your earnings are credited to your social security record. If the name or SSN on your social security card is incorrect, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.

If you believe someone has assumed your identity to file federal income tax returns, or to commit other tax fraud, call 1-800-829-0433. Victims of identity theft who are having trouble filing their returns should call the Taxpayer Advocate 1-877-777-4778. The IRS does not request personal tax-payer information through email. If you receive this type of request, it may be an attempt by identity thieves to get your private tax information.

If not, certain deductions and credits may be reduced or disallowed, your refund may be delayed, and you may not receive credit for your social security earnings. If your Form W-2, Form 1099, or other tax document shows an incorrect SSN or name, no tify your employer or the form-issuing agent as soon as possible to make sure your earnings are credited to your social security record. If the name or SSN on your social security card is incorrect, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.

How Do You Make a Gift To Reduce the Public Debt?

If you wish to do so, make a check payable to “Bureau of the Public Debt.’ You can send it to: Bureau of the Public Debt, Department G, P.O. Box 2188, Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188. Or you can enclose the check with your income tax return when you file. Do not add your gift to any tax you may owe. See page 60 for details on how to pay any tax you owe.

tip!

You may be able to deduct this gift on your 2006 tax return.

How Long Should Records Be Kept?

Keep a copy of your tax return, worksheets you used, and records of all items appearing on it (such as Forms W-2 and 1099) until the statute of limitations runs out for that return. Usually, this is 3 years from the date the return was due or filed, or 2 years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. You should keep some records longer. For example, keep property records (including those on your home) as long as they are needed to figure the basis of the original or replacement property. For more details, see Pub. 552.

Amended Return

File Form 1040X to change a return you already filed. Generally, Form 1040X must be filed within 3 years after the date the original return was filed, or within 2 years after the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. But you may have more time to file Form 1040X if you are physically or mentally unable to manage your financial affairs. See Pub. 556 for details.

Need a Copy of Your Tax Return?

If you need a copy of your tax return, use Form 4506. There is a $39 fee for each return requested. If your main home, principal place of business, or tax records are located in a Presidentially declared disaster area, this fee will be waived. If you want a free transcript of your tax return or account, use Form 4506 or call us. See page 10 for the number.

Death of a Taxpayer

If a taxpayer died before filing a return for 2005, the taxpayer´s spouse or personal representative may have to file and sign a return for that taxpayer. A personal representative can be an executor, administrator, or anyone who is in charge of the deceased taxpayer´s property. If the deceased taxpayer did not have to file a return but had tax withheld, a return must be filed to get a refund. The person who files the return must enter “Deceased,’ the deceased taxpayer´s name, and the date of death across the top of the return. If this information is not provided, it may delay the processing of the return.

If your spouse died in 2005 and you did not remarry in 2005, or if your spouse died in 2006 before filing a return for 2005, you can file a joint return. A joint return should show your spouse´s 2005 income before death and your income for all of 2005. Enter “Filing as surviving spouse’ in the area where you sign the return. If someone else is the personal representative, he or she must also sign.

The surviving spouse or personal representative should promptly notify all payers of income, including financial institutions, of the taxpayer´s death. This will ensure the proper reporting of income earned by the taxpayer´s estate or heirs. A deceased taxpayer´s social security number should not be used for tax years after the year of death, except for estate tax return purposes.

Claiming a Refund for a Deceased Taxpayer

If you are filing a joint return as a surviving spouse, you only need to file the tax return to claim the refund. If you are a court-appointed representative, file the return and attach a copy of the certificate that shows your appointment. All other filers requesting the deceased taxpayer´s refund must file the return and attach Form 1310.

For more details, see IRS TeleTax Topic 356 (see page 8) or see Pub. 559.

Other Ways To Get Help

Send Your Written Tax Questions to the IRS

You should get an answer in about 30 days. If you do not have the mailing address, call us. See page 10 for the number. Do not send questions with your return.

Research Your Tax Questions Online

You can find answers to many of your tax questions online in several ways by accessing the IRS website at www.irs.gov/help and then clicking on “Help With Tax Questions.’ Here are some of the methods you may want to try.

  • Frequently asked questions. This section contains an extensive list of questions and answers. You may select your question by category or keyword.
  • Tax trails. This is an interactive section which asks questions you can answer by selecting “Yes’ or “No.’
  • Tax topics. This section provides a broad picture of tax topics beginning with 17 main categories. Each topic link leads to further categories and then to a discussion of the topic.

Free Help With Your Return

Free help in preparing your return is available nationwide from IRS-sponsored volunteers. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is designed to help low-income taxpayers and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program is designed to assist taxpayers age 60 or older with their tax returns. Many VITA sites offer free electronic filing and all volunteers will let you know about the credits and deductions you may be entitled to claim. If you are a member of the military, you can also get assistance on military tax benefits, such as combat zone tax benefits, at an office within your installation. For more information on these programs, go to www.irs.gov and enter keyword “VITA’ in the upper right corner. Or, call us. See page 10 for the number. To find the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, visit AARP´s website at www.aarp.org/taxaide/ or call 1-888-227-7669.

When you go for help, take your photo ID and social security numbers (or individual taxpayer identification numbers) for your spouse, your dependents, and yourself. Also take a copy of your 2004 tax return (if available), all your Forms W-2 and 1099 for 2005, and any other information about your 2005 income and expenses.

Everyday Tax Solutions

You can get face-to-face help solving tax problems every business day in IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers. An employee can explain IRS letters, request adjustments to your account, or help you set up a payment plan. Call your local Taxpayer Assistance Center for an appointment. To find the number, go to www.irs.gov/localcontacts or look in the phone book under “United States Government, Internal Revenue Service.’

Online Services

If you subscribe to an online service, ask about online filing or tax information.

Large-Print Forms and Instructions

Pub. 1614 has large-print copies of Form 1040, Schedules A, B, D, E, and R, and Form 1040-V, and their instructions. You can use the large-print forms and schedules as worksheets to figure your tax, but you cannot file them. You can get Pub. 1614 by phone or mail. See pages 7 and 80.

Help for People With Disabilities

Telephone help is available using TTY/TDD equipment by calling 1-800-829-4059. Braille materials are available at libraries that have special services for people with disabilities.

Interest and Penalties

You do not have to figure the amount of any interest or penalties you may owe. Because figuring these amounts can be complicated, we will do it for you if you want. We will send you a bill for any amount due.

If you include interest or penalties (other than the estimated tax penalty) with your payment, identify and enter the amount in the bottom margin of Form 1040, page 2. Do not include interest or penalties (other than the estimated tax penalty) in the amount you owe on Line 75.

Interest

We will charge you interest on taxes not paid by their due date, even if an extension of time to file is granted. We will also charge you interest on penalties imposed for failure to file, negligence, fraud, substantial valuation misstatements, and substantial understatements of tax, and reportable transaction understatements. Interest is charged on the penalty from the due date of the return (including extensions).

Penalties

Late filing. If you do not file your return by the due date (including extensions), the penalty is usually 5% of the amount due for each month or part of a month your return is late, unless you have a reasonable explanation. If you do, attach it to your return. The penalty can be as much as 25% of the tax due. If your return is more than 60 days late, the minimum penalty will be $100 or the amount of any tax you owe, whichever is smaller.

Late payment of tax. If you pay your taxes late, the penalty is usually 1/2 of 1% of the unpaid amount for each month or part of a month the tax is not paid. The penalty can be as much as 25% of the unpaid amount. It applies to any unpaid tax on the return. This penalty is in addition to interest charges on late payments.

Frivolous return. In addition to any other penalties, the law imposes a penalty of $500 for filing a frivolous return. A frivolous return is one that does not contain information needed to figure the correct tax or shows a substantially incorrect tax because you take a frivolous position or desire to delay or interfere with the tax laws. This includes altering or striking out the preprinted language above the space where you sign.

Other. Other penalties can be imposed for negligence, substantial understatement of tax,reportable transaction understatements, and fraud. Criminal penalties may be imposed for willful failure to file, tax evasion, or making a false statement. See Pub. 17 for details on some of these penalties.

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