2010 Return Information

Although more changes will likely be made, many 2010 tax law changes are set in stone. Learn about many of them by clicking on the topics below. Then use TaxACT Free Federal Edition for step-by-step guidance through all the 2010 tax law changes for the biggest refund guaranteed.

Reminder: 2010 Federal tax returns or requests for extensions are due April 18, 2011 due to a federal holiday on April 15.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Provisions

President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) into law in February 2009. Although a large number of the ARRA tax credits and deductions have expired, several are still in effect for 2010 federal returns. (For information about the expired ARRA provisions, click here.)


Making Work Pay Credit

 

Tips

  1. Reduced withholding could result in a balance due on your tax return. Ensure you're withholding the right amount by using the IRS withholding calculator. To adjust your withholding, submit Form W-4 to your employer.
  2. Self-employed workers should consider changing estimated tax payments, but be leery of quarterly underpayment. You can use TaxACT 2009 to adjust your estimated payments.

Overview

  • Designed to increase your take-home pay amount by reducing federal income tax withholdings
  • Credit of 6.2% of earned income (salary or self-employed), up to $400 for single filers ($800 for married filing jointly)
  • Phases out at modified adjusted gross income $75,000 - $95,000 ($150,000 - $190,000 married filing jointly)
  • Most wage earners have been receiving the credit as a boost in their paychecks since April 2009, qualified taxpayers will receive the credit in their paychecks via decreased income tax withholding
  • Not available for non-residents and taxpayers claimed as a dependent
  • Expires December 31, 2010

TaxACT will figure the credit for you (via Schedule M) and record it for you on your 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ

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Additional Child Tax Credit

Overview

  • For taxpayers who receive less than the full amount of the child tax credit (it may give you a refund even if you do not owe any tax)
  • Earned income threshold needed to qualify for this credit decreases to $3,000 to cover more low-income families (was $8,500 in 2008)
  • Credit is equal to 15% of the taxpayer's earned income in excess of $3,000
  • Families with 3 or more children can choose to use an alternative formula under which the credit equals the amount by which the taxpayer's Social Security and Medicare taxes exceed the taxpayer's earned income credit, if that produces a greater refundable amount

TaxACT will calculate the credit on Form 1040 or 1040A.

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Expanded Earned Income Credit

Overview

TaxACT will adjust for the new thresholds.

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American Opportunity Tax Credit (modified HOPE Credit)

Overview

  • Maximum credit of $2,500 per student (covers 100% of the first $2,000 and 25% of the next $2,000) for tuition, fees and course materials (books) for the first 4 years of post-secondary education in a degree or certificate program (was previously the first 2 years)
  • 40% of the credit is refundable unless student is subject to kiddie tax rules (new line on Forms 1040 and 1040A)
  • Phased out at modified adjusted gross income $80,000 - $90,000 ($160,000 - $180,000 if married filing jointly)

TaxACT's College Tax Whiz will help you determine whether you're eligible for 10 education tax benefits, including the American Opportunity Credit.

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Expanded Definition of Qualified Tuition Programs

Overview

  • Qualified expenses for Section 529 College Savings plans are expanded to include qualified computer technology, equipment and Internet service for students living at home
  • Items must be used by beneficiary or beneficiary's family during the years beneficiary is enrolled at an eligible educational institution

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First-time Homebuyer Credit

Overview

***Includes changes from the Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009

  • Refundable 10% credit on homes purchased after Dec. 31, 2008 and before May 1, 2010, up to $8,000 (previously $7,500)
  • Eligible taxpayer must have bought, or entered into a binding contract to buy, a principal residence between January 1, 2009 and April 30, 2010, and close on the home by September 30, 2010 - the credit can only be claimed after the closing date (the closing deadline changed from June 30 to September 30 per the Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act signed into law on July 2, 2010)
  • First-time homebuyers who purchased a home in 2009 can only claim the credit on their 2009 tax return (due by April 15, 2010) - the option to claim the credit on a 2008 tax return expired April 15, 2009
  • For qualifying purchases in 2010, you have the option of claiming the credit on either your 2009 (how to amend your 2009 return) or 2010 return
  • First-time homebuyers are those who have not owned a primary residence during the 3 years prior to the purchase date (married taxpayers must both qualify as "first-time homebuyers" in order to receive the credit when filing a joint return).
  • Repayment only required if, within 3 years of purchase, the home either ceases to be the primary residence or it is sold
  • Credit phases out for homes purchased after November 6, 2009 for taxpayers whose modified adjusted gross income exceeds $125,000 ($225,000 if married filing jointly) - credit ends for those with income of $145,000 ($245,000 if married filing jointly)
  • For homes purchased after Nov. 6, 2009: You must be at least 18 on the date of purchase and cannot be claimed as a dependent (for a married couple, only one spouse must meet this age requirement)
  • For homes purchased after Nov. 6, 2009: A copy of your properly executed settlement statement must be mailed with your return to the IRS
  • For homes purchased after Nov. 6, 2009: No credit available for homes where the purchase price exceeds $800,000
  • Property cannot be acquired from a relative

TaxACT includes Form 5405 for this credit.

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Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit Limitations (good through 2016)

Overview

  • Credit of 30% for expenditures related to larger residential energy improvements (solar hot water property, geothermal heat pumps, wind energy property)
  • Limit on credit amount removed for solar electric property
  • Credit caps eliminated for qualified solar water heating, geothermal pumps, and small energy property; $500 cap for qualified fuel cell property remains

TaxACT will include Form 5695 to claim this credit.

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Homebuyer Credit for Current Homeowners (extended First-Time Homebuyer Credit)

Overview

***Part of the Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009 signed into law on November 6, 2009

  • A refundable credit of up to $6,500 (up to $3,250 for a married individual filing separately) for long-time homeowners buying a replacement principal residence - buyers must have lived in the same principal residence for any five-consecutive year period during the eight-year period that ended on the date the replacement home is purchased
  • Eligible taxpayer must have bought, or entered into a binding contract to buy, a principal residence between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010, and close on the home by September 30, 2010 - the credit can only be claimed after the closing date (the closing deadline changed from June 30 to September 30 per the Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act signed into law on July 2, 2010)
  • Phases out for individual taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) between $125,000 and $145,000 or between $225,000 and $245,000 for joint filers
  • 2009 purchases must be claimed on your 2009 return, but 2010 purchases can be claimed on either your 2009 (how to amend your 2009 return) or 2010 return

TaxACT includes Form 5405 for this credit.

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Nonbusiness Energy Credits

Overview

  • Individual homeowners can now claim 30% for property improvements, up to $1,500 for 2009 and 2010 combined (was previously 10%, up to $500) - taxpayers must claim the credit on the tax return for the year that the improvements are made
  • Definition of qualifying property revised - includes qualifying insulation; exterior windows, skylights and doors; electric heat pumps; central air conditioners; natural gas, propane or oil water heaters; biomass stoves; furnaces and boilers
  • There are higher efficiency standards to claim the credit

TaxACT will include Form 5695 to claim this credit.

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Vehicle Credits

Overview

  • 10% of the cost of the new plug-in vehicle, up to $2,500
  • Claimed on Form 8834

  • Ranges from $2,500 to $7,500 depending on battery capacity for vehicles purchased after Dec. 31, 2009 and before Jan. 1, 2015
  • Increased amount for vehicles drawing propulsion from battery with at least 5 kilowatt hours of capacity
  • Phases out after manufacturer sells its 200,000th plug-in electric drive vehicle
  • Claimed on Form 8936

  • 10% of the cost of converting, up to $4,000
  • Must be placed in service after Feb. 17, 2009 and before Jan. 1, 2012
  • May claim even if the vehicle qualified for a previous hybrid credit
  • Claimed on Form 8910

TaxACT will include the forms to claim the above credits.

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Other ARRA Provisions

The Tax Relief Act of 2010

Signed into law on December 17, 2010, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 extended many key expired or expiring tax breaks. Below are some of the more significant provisions impacting 2010 federal returns.


Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) patch
  • Exemption amounts were extended and increased, which means fewer taxpayers have to pay the AMT
  • Exemption amounts for 2010:
    • Single and head of household $47,450
    • Married filing jointly $72,450

TaxACT includes Form 6251.

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Tuition and Fees Deduction
  • An eligible taxpayer, spouse or dependent enrolled in an eligible postsecondary institution may deduct up to $4,000 paid for tuition and fees in 2010
  • Can be claimed by taxpayers taking the standard deduction or itemizing

TaxACT includes Form 8917 for this deduction.

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State and local sales tax deduction
  • Taxpayers who itemize are eligible to deduct their state and local sales tax instead of state and local income taxes paid

TaxACT includes Schedule A.

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Educator Expense Deduction
  • Elementary and secondary educators who purchase classroom supplies can deduct up to $250
  • Deductible expenses include books, supplies, computer equipment, other equipment and supplementary materials
  • Can be claimed by taxpayers taking the standard deduction or itemizing

TaxACT will help you calculate the deduction on your Form 1040.

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More 2010 Tax Law Changes


Repayment of First-time Homebuyer Credit claimed on 2008 tax returns begins on 2010 returns
  • The 2008 credit acts like a 15-year interest-free loan – the credit amount of up to $7,500 will be repaid in 15 equal annual installments beginning in the second tax year (2010) after the credit is claimed.
  • Repayment amount is included as additional tax on your federal return. You have the option of paying more than the annual amount due on Form 5405.
  • Example: if you claimed the full $7,500 credit on your 2008 return, you will begin paying $500 each year on your federal tax return from 2010 to 2024.
  • Review your federal withholding and/or make quarterly estimated tax payments to make up for the repayment amounts (see if you're withholding enough using the IRS withholding calculator and adjust your withholding by submitting Form W-4 to your employer.
  • Exceptions to the repayment rule can be found here.

TaxACT includes Form 5405 and will walk you through the information.

For more information, visit the following IRS web pages: Homes purchased in 2008 and Tax Topic 611


Adoption Credit refundable & extended for tax years 2010 & 2011
  • A refundable credit worth a maximum of $13,170 for 2010 returns and $13,170 for 2011 returns
  • For 2010, the credit phases out between $182,520 and $222,520.
  • After 2011, the credit amount will return to $5,000 (or $6,000 for a special needs child).
  • In addition to Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses, one or more adoption-related documents must also be filed, which means taxpayers must mail their returns (it takes 6-8 weeks for mailed returns to be processed, so the IRS encourages choosing direct deposit to speed refunds).

TaxACT will calculate the credit on Form 8839.

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Exclusion for some health professionals retroactive to 2009 returns
  • Amounts received for student loan relief under state programs and other loan repayment and forgiveness programs can now be excluded from taxes for 2009 federal returns and going forward. Previously, only amounts under the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program or certain state loan repayment programs eligible for funding under the Public Health Service Act could be excluded.
  • If you have not yet filed your 2009 return, you do not need to report eligible loan repayment or forgiveness amounts.
  • If you've already filed your 2009 return, you can exclude eligible amounts by amending your return using Form 1040X (included in TaxACT Deluxe) and writing "Excluded student loan amount under 2010 Health Care Act" in the Explanation of Changes box. Health care professionals may request an employer or other issuer to provide a Form W-2c, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement, or 1099 and may attach the corrected form to the Form 1040X. However, the Form 1040X may also be filed without attaching a corrected form.

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Medicare Part D coverage gap "donut hole" rebate
  • A one-time, non-taxable $250 rebate in 2010 to Medicare Part D recipients who have reached their Medicare drug plan's coverage gap.
  • Those receiving Medicare Extra Help do not qualify for the rebate.
  • Payments will be automatically sent to qualified participants by Medicare (not the IRS) throughout 2010 (started sending in June).
  • Be sure the Social Security Administration has your correct home address by calling your local office or 1-800-772-1213.
  • More information can be found at www.medicare.gov; if you do not receive your rebate check, call 1-800-Medicare.
  • You do not need to report this rebate as income on your 2010 federal return.

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Tax-free health coverage for children under 27 years old
  • As of March 30, 2010, employees who can choose from a menu in their cafeteria plan of tax-free benefit options and cash or taxable benefits can make pre-tax contributions for health coverage for qualified children (who will still be under 27 years of age at the end of 2010) who are already covered under the employer's plan or added to the employer's plan at any time (this also applies to self-employed taxpayers who qualify for the self-employed health insurance deduction on their return).
  • By Sept. 23, 2010, employer health care plans that provide dependent coverage of children must offer dependent coverage of employees' children until they turn 26 years of age.
  • A child includes a son, daughter, stepchild, adopted child or eligible foster child (child does not have to qualify as a dependent for tax purposes).
  • You do not need to report this on your 2010 federal return.

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Standard mileage rates for 2010
  • Operating your car for business use = 50 cents per mile
  • Operating your car for medical reasons = 16 ½ cents per mile
  • Operating your car for determining moving expenses = 16 ½ cents per mile

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Roth IRA rollover contributions and conversions
  • As of 2010, there's no minimum AGI required to make a qualified rollover contribution to a Roth IRA
  • Unless you claim all of it as 2010 income, half of the income resulting from a rollover or conversion from another retirement plan to a Roth IRA in 2010 will be counted as income in 2011; the other half will be included as taxable income in 2012.

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Upcoming Tax Dates

September 1 (Everyone)
Federal Holiday (Labor Day) - Details

September 10 (Employees who work for tips)
If you received $20 or more in tips during August, report them to your employer - Details

September 15 (Individuals)
Make a payment of your 2014 estimated tax if you are not paying your income tax for the year through withholding (or will not pay in enough tax that way). Use Form 1040-ES. This is the third installment - Details

September 15 (Corporations)
File a 2013 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120) and pay any tax, interest, and penalties due. This due date applies only if you timely requested an automatic 6-month extension - Details

September 15 (S Corporations)
File a 2013 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120S) and pay any tax due. This due date applies only if you timely requested an automatic 6-month extension - Details

September 15 (Partnerships)
File a 2013 calendar year return (Form 1065). This due date applies only if you were given an additional 5-month extension - Details

September 15 (Corporations)
Deposit the third installment of estimated income tax for 2014 - Details

View More Tax Dates