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Tax Changes to Watch For

Bingo! The new 1099-K forms — just one of a number of tax-form changes this year — caught a PayPal seller.

This young man, selling things from his home, did not think of himself as being in business, but he just received a Form 1099-K. It doesn’t take into account any of his charge-backs or refunds. This is exactly the kind of person they had in mind when they created the 1099-Ks.

The 1099-Ks are one of many new forms aimed at helping the IRS collect more money without raising taxes. This form is issued to eBay sellers and folks who sell things and get paid by PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, etc. To get caught by this form, you must have had over $20,000 in sales or over 200 transactions. The casual eBay garage-sale-type seller wouldn’t get one of these 1099-Ks.

For decades, the IRS made only minor changes to tax forms. Generally, they simply reflected tax rates, limits or percentage changes effective that year. But this year, there are important changes to the way you report information — and additional information the IRS wants to see.

What other new forms or changes will be affecting you?

Schedule C

On Schedule C , the IRS has added a new line where you report the income shown on the new 1099-Ks. Read more about the new forms on this IRS page.

If you have other income that was not paid to you via credit cards or online payment systems, be sure to report the rest of the income on the next line. Remember, if you had refunds or charge-backs report those as returns and allowances.

A similar line has been added to business returns. However, according to Lynn Freer, enrolled agent, of Spidell Publishing Inc., the IRS decided that businesses will not be required to reconcile their gross receipts with merchant card transactions reported on Form 1099-K on their 2012 or later returns.

Another line was added for statutory employees . They are a special category of workers whose W-2s have the “statutory employees” box checked. These folks get W-2s, but all their wage income and related expenses are reported on Schedule C. Since the Social Security and Medicare withholding have already been taken on the W-2, these Schedule C profits are not subject to self-employment taxes.

Schedule D

The changes to Schedule D are of major importance to investors. Schedule D is now simply a summary of data coming from a brand new form, Form 8949 , “Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets.”

This new form is designed to reconcile the information reported on the Form 1099-Bs. Read: Investors, prepare for tax headache on cost basis.

The new 1099-Bs are required to include the basis of the securities that were sold. Sometimes, they don’t include everything, or the basis is wrong. Investors may have to file as many as six copies of Form 8949 with their tax returns if they get many 1099s for sales of securities.

[Also see: Best Free Smartphones for Each Carrier]

There are three boxes at the top of the first page of the form, related to short-term capital gains. Another three are on top of the second page, for long-term capital gains. Since you may only check one box on the form, you must use a separate Form 8949 for short- and long-term gains; for brokerage reports with and without the basis reported; and for those reports that don’t quite fit into either category. For instance, where some items sold show a basis and some do not.

The good news is, there is now a way to report the sale of personal residences again. The IRS eliminated the “sale of personal residence” form many years ago, but still chased after people who didn’t report the sale. Now you can report the sale on Form 8949 and use a code H to avoid paying tax on the sale.

Codes! Yes, this new form requires you to enter a variety of codes. You will find a list of codes on page 10 of the Schedule D/Form 8949 instructions.

You may have noticed that the financial institutions sent out letters saying that the 1099s will be late. They are hoping to only send out one version this year. It will take a year or two before this reporting goes smoothly. For now, prepare to be frustrated.

Schedule E

Schedule E is titled “Supplemental Income and Loss.” The IRS has added some new fields requiring taxpayers to report the number of personal-use days and business-use days for each mixed-use rental property. That’s going to be a lot of fun to report, since most people never really keep track. The tax code has always required the tracking. These new fields just put the data right up front.

Form 8938 is the Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets. You’re familiar with all the hoopla over the unreported overseas bank accounts. IRS exerted such powerful muscle these last few years that they have even been able to get information from the Swiss banks. Taxpayers must already report any overseas financial account with $10,000 or more to the U.S. Treasury each year on Form TD-F 90-22.1, or Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts , known as the FBAR. Failure to report the existence of these accounts can result in penalties high enough to wipe out the accounts. Read: Watchdog chides IRS on offshore amnesty program.

This new form goes beyond the FBAR requirements. The Form 8938 requires American taxpayers in the U.S. and overseas to report their foreign assets, including real estate, trusts and businesses. The penalty for not filing this new form is $10,000. Read: Tax mines that could blow up your return.

Who is affected?

Taxpayers living in the U.S., American Samoa, Puerto Rico:
- Unmarried or married filing separately: Assets of $50,000 or more at year-end and over $100,000 throughout the year.
- Married filing jointly: Assets of $100,000 or more at year-end and over $200,000 throughout the year.

Bona fide residents abroad, or presence for 330 days in 12 months:
- Married filing jointly: Assets of $400,000 or more at year-end and over $600,000 throughout the year.
- Not filing joint return: Assets of $200,000 or more at year-end and over $400,000 throughout the year.

If no income tax return needs to be filed, no need to file Form 8938.

Form 2848

Form 2848 is a Power of Attorney form. This was revised in October 2011. Starting March 1, the IRS will no longer accept the old version of this form. (Forms 2848 already on file will remain valid.)

The new Form 2848 allows for one taxpayer per form. Married couples will now have to sign separate power of attorney forms for their tax representatives. Since these forms expire after about a year, it may be a good idea to get new ones signed before your rep needs to contact the IRS again.

This year, filing will be a new and exciting adventure. It may take a while for all the processes to sort themselves out. People will have to work a little harder at keeping more detailed records, especially when it comes to sales of securities or sales on eBay. More people will be paying taxes on their online businesses. And folks owning securities will be scrambling to update their tax basis in their securities accounts.

Eva Rosenberg, EA, is the publisher of TaxMama.com , where your tax questions are answered for free. Eva is the author of several books and e-books , including “Small Business Taxes Made Easy.” Eva teaches tax courses at IRSExams.com and CPELINK . Next course: “A Tax Checklist for Knotty Divorces.”