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Archive for the ‘Taxation’ Category

New IRS Standard Mileage Rates – Business Rate Rise in 2015

Posted by William Byrnes on December 12, 2014


The IRS issued the 2015 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

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Beginning on Jan. 1, 2015, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck will be:

  • 57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven, up from 56 cents in 2014
  • 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down half a cent from 2014
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile, including depreciation, insurance, repairs, tires, maintenance, gas and oil. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs, such as gas and oil. The charitable rate is set by law.

Taxpayers always have the option of claiming deductions based on the actual costs of using a vehicle rather than the standard mileage rates.

A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after claiming accelerated depreciation, including the Section 179 expense deduction, on that vehicle. Likewise, the standard rate is not available to fleet owners (more than four vehicles used simultaneously). Details on these and other special rules are in Revenue Procedure 2010-51, the instructions to Form 1040and various online IRS publications including Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax.

Besides the standard mileage rates, Notice 2014-79, posted today on IRS.gov, also includes the basis reduction amounts for those choosing the business standard mileage rate, as well as the maximum standard automobile cost   that may be used in computing an allowance under  a fixed and variable rate plan.

2015_tf_on_indiv_sm_business_cover-mTax Facts on Individuals & Small Business focuses exclusively on what individuals and small businesses need to know to maximize opportunities under today’s often complex tax rules.  It is the essential tax reference for financial advisors, & planners; insurance professionals; CPAs; attorneys; and other practitioners advising small businesses and individuals.

Organized in a convenient Q&A format to speed you to the information you need, Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business delivers the latest guidance on:
• Healthcare & New Medicare Tax and Net Investment Income tax
• Business Deductions and Losses including Home Office
• Contractor vs. Employee — clarified!
• Business Life Insurance
• Small Business Entity Choices & Small Business Valuation
• Capital Gains & Investor Losses
• Accounting — including guidance on how standards change as the business grows

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Year-End Gifts to Charity – IRS Tax Facts

Posted by William Byrnes on December 1, 2014


9dc30-6a00d8341bfae553ef01bb07b43355970d-piThe Internal Revenue Service reminds individuals and businesses making year-end gifts to charity that several important tax law provisions have taken effect in recent years. Some of the changes taxpayers should keep in mind include:

Rules for Charitable Contributions of Clothing and Household Items

Household items include furniture, furnishings, electronics, appliances and linens. Clothing and household items donated to charity generally must be in good used condition or better to be tax-deductible. A clothing or household item for which a taxpayer claims a deduction of over $500 does not have to meet this standard if the taxpayer includes a qualified appraisal of the item with the return.

Donors must get a written acknowledgement from the charity for all gifts worth $250 or more. It must include, among other things, a description of the items contributed.

Guidelines for Monetary Donations

A taxpayer must have a bank record or a written statement from the charity in order to deduct any donation of money, regardless of amount. The record must show the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Bank records include canceled checks, and bank, credit union and credit card statements. Bank or credit union statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the amount paid. Credit card statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the transaction posting date.

Donations of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card and payroll deduction. For payroll deductions, the taxpayer should retain a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other document furnished by the employer showing the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity.

These requirements for the deduction of monetary donations do not change the long-standing requirement that a taxpayer obtain an acknowledgment from a charity for each deductible donation (either money or property) of $250 or more. However, one statement containing all of the required information may meet both requirements.

Reminders

The IRS offers the following additional reminders to help taxpayers plan their holiday and year-end gifts to charity:

  • Qualified charities. Check that the charity is eligible. Only donations to eligible organizations are tax-deductible. Select Check, a searchable online tool available on IRS.gov, lists most organizations that are eligible to receive deductible contributions. In addition, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies are eligible to receive deductible donations. That is true even if they are not listed in the tool’s database.
  • Year-end gifts. Contributions are deductible in the year made. Thus, donations charged to a credit card before the end of 2014 count for 2014, even if the credit card bill isn’t paid until 2015. Also, checks count for 2014 as long as they are mailed in 2014.
  • Itemize deductions. For individuals, only taxpayers who itemize their deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A can claim deductions for charitable contributions. This deduction is not available to individuals who choose the standard deduction. This includes anyone who files a short form (Form 1040A or 1040EZ). A taxpayer will have a tax savings only if the total itemized deductions (mortgage interest, charitable contributions, state and local taxes, etc.) exceed the standard deduction. Use the 2014 Form 1040 Schedule A to determine whether itemizing is better than claiming the standard deduction.
  • Record donations. For all donations of property, including clothing and household items, get from the charity, if possible, a receipt that includes the name of the charity, date of the contribution, and a reasonably-detailed description of the donated property. If a donation is left at a charity’s unattended drop site, keep a written record of the donation that includes this information, as well as the fair market value of the property at the time of the donation and the method used to determine that value. Additional rules apply for a contribution of $250 or more.
  • Special Rules. The deduction for a car, boat or airplane donated to charity is usually limited to the gross proceeds from its sale. This rule applies if the claimed value is more than $500. Form 1098-C or a similar statement, must be provided to the donor by the organization and attached to the donor’s tax return.

If the amount of a taxpayer’s deduction for all noncash contributions is over $500, a properly-completed Form 8283 must be submitted with the tax return.

IRS YouTube Videos: 

Year-End Tax Tips: English
Charitable Contributions: English | Spanish | ASL
Exempt Organizations Select Check: English | Spanish | ASL

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Will the IRS Help Pay for Your Retirement ?

Posted by William Byrnes on November 17, 2014


IRS logoIf you are a low-to-moderate income worker, you can take steps now to save two ways for the same amount. With the saver’s credit you can save for your retirement and save on your taxes with a special tax credit. Here are six tips you should know about this credit:

1. Save for retirement.  The formal name of the saver’s credit is the retirement savings contributions credit. You may be able to claim this tax credit in addition to any other tax savings that also apply. The saver’s credit helps offset part of the first $2,000 you voluntarily save for your retirement. This includes amounts you contribute to IRAs, 401(k) plans and similar workplace plans.

2. Save on taxes.  The saver’s credit can increase your refund or reduce the tax you owe. The maximum credit is $1,000, or $2,000 for married couples. The credit you receive is often much less, due in part because of the deductions and other credits you may claim.

3. Income limits.  Income limits vary based on your filing status. You may be able to claim the saver’s credit if you’re a:

• Married couple filing jointly with income up to $60,000 in 2014 or $61,000 in 2015.

• Head of Household with income up to $45,000 in 2014 or $45,750 in 2015.

• Married person filing separately or single with income up to $30,000 in 2014 or $30,500 in 2015.

4. When to contribute.  If you’re eligible you still have time to contribute and get the saver’s credit on your 2014 tax return. You have until April 15, 2015, to set up a new IRA or add money to an existing IRA for 2014. You must make an elective deferral (contribution) by the end of the year to a 401(k) plan or similar workplace program.

If you can’t set aside money for this year you may want to schedule your 2015 contributions soon so your employer can begin withholding them in January.

5. Special rules apply.  Other special rules that apply to the credit include:

• You must be at least 18 years of age.

• You can’t have been a full-time student in 2014.

• Another person can’t claim you as a dependent on their tax return.

IRS Resources

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8 Tax Facts for Deducting Charitable Contributions

Posted by William Byrnes on November 10, 2014


IRS logoIf you are looking for a tax deduction, giving to charity can be a ‘win-win’ situation. It’s good for them and good for you. Here are eight things you should know about deducting your gifts to charity:

1. You must donate to a qualified charity if you want to deduct the gift. You can’t deduct gifts to individuals, political organizations or candidates.

2. In order for you to deduct your contributions, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions. File Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, with your federal tax return.

3. If you get a benefit in return for your contribution, your deduction is limited. You can only deduct the amount of your gift that’s more than the value of what you got in return. Examples of such benefits include merchandise, meals, tickets to an event or other goods and services.

4. If you give property instead of cash, the deduction is usually that item’s fair market value. Fair market value is generally the price you would get if you sold the property on the open market.

5. Used clothing and household items generally must be in good condition to be deductible. Special rules apply to vehicle donations.

6. You must file Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, if your deduction for all noncash gifts is more than $500 for the year.

7. You must keep records to prove the amount of the contributions you make during the year. The kind of records you must keep depends on the amount and type of your donation. For example, you must have a written record of any cash you donate, regardless of the amount, in order to claim a deduction. It can be a cancelled check, a letter from the organization, or a bank or payroll statement. It should include the name of the charity, the date and the amount donated. A cell phone bill meets this requirement for text donations if it shows this same information.

8. To claim a deduction for donated cash or property of $250 or more, you must have a written statement from the organization. It must show the amount of the donation and a description of any property given. It must also say whether the organization provided any goods or services in exchange for the gift.

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In 2015, Various Tax Benefits Increase Due to Inflation Adjustments

Posted by William Byrnes on November 5, 2014


The tax items for tax year 2015 of greatest interest to most taxpayers include the following dollar amounts –IRS logo

  • The tax rate of 39.6 percent affects singles whose income exceeds $413,200 ($464,850 for married taxpayers filing a joint return), up from $406,750 and $457,600, respectively. The other marginal rates – 10, 15, 25, 28, 33 and 35 percent – and the related income tax thresholds are described in the revenue procedure.
  • The standard deduction rises to $6,300 for singles and married persons filing separate returns and $12,600 for married couples filing jointly, up from $6,200 and $12,400, respectively, for tax year 2014. The standard deduction for heads of household rises to $9,250, up from $9,100.
  • The limitation for itemized deductions to be claimed on tax year 2015 returns of individuals begins with incomes of $258,250 or more ($309,900 for married couples filing jointly).
  • The personal exemption for tax year 2015 rises to $4,000, up from the 2014 exemption of $3,950. However, the exemption is subject to a phase-out that begins with adjusted gross incomes of $258,250 ($309,900 for married couples filing jointly). It phases out completely at $380,750 ($432,400 for married couples filing jointly.)
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amount for tax year 2015 is $53,600 ($83,400, for married couples filing jointly). The 2014 exemption amount was $52,800 ($82,100 for married couples filing jointly).
  • The 2015 maximum Earned Income Credit amount is $6,242 for taxpayers filing jointly who have 3 or more qualifying children, up from a total of $6,143 for tax year 2014. The revenue procedure has a table providing maximum credit amounts for other categories, income thresholds and phaseouts.
  • Estates of decedents who die during 2015 have a basic exclusion amount of $5,430,000, up from a total of $5,340,000 for estates of decedents who died in 2014.
  • For 2015, the exclusion from tax on a gift to a spouse who is not a U.S. citizen is $147,000, up from $145,000 for 2014.
  • For 2015, the foreign earned income exclusion breaks the six-figure mark, rising to $100,800, up from $99,200 for 2014.
  • The annual exclusion for gifts remains at $14,000 for 2015.
  • The annual dollar limit on employee contributions to employer-sponsored healthcare flexible spending arrangements (FSA) rises to $2,550, up $50 dollars from the amount for 2014.
  • Under the small business health care tax credit,  the maximum credit is phased out based on the employer’s number of full-time equivalent employees in excess of 10 and the employer’s average annual wages in excess of $25,800 for tax year 2015, up from $25,400 for 2014.

.01 Tax Rate Tables. For taxable years beginning in 2015, the tax rate tables under § 1 are as follows:

TABLE 1 – Section 1(a) – Married Individuals Filing Joint Returns and Surviving Spouses

If Taxable Income Is & The Tax Is:

  1. Not over $18,450 10% of the taxable income
  2. Over $18,450 but $1,845 not over $74,900 plus 15% of the excess over $18,450
  3. Over $74,900 but $10,312.50 not over $151,200 plus 25% of the excess over $74,900
  4. Over $151,200 but $29,387.50 not over $230,450 plus 28% of the excess over $151,200
  5. Over $230,450 but $51,577.50 not over $411,500 plus 33% of the excess over $230,450
  6. Over $411,500 but $111,324 not over $464,850 plus 35% of the excess over $411,500
  7. Over $464,850 $129,996.50 plus 39.6% of the excess over $464,850

TABLE 3 – Section 1(c) – Unmarried Individuals (other than Surviving Spouses and Heads of Households)

If Taxable Income Is & The Tax Is:

  1. Not over $9,225 10% of the taxable income
  2. Over $9,225 but $922.50 not over $37,450 plus 15% of the excess over $9,225
  3. Over $37,450 but $5,156.25 not over $90,750 plus 25% of the excess over $37,450
  4. Over $90,750 but $18,481.25 not over $189,300 plus 28% of the excess over $90,750
  5. Over $189,300 but $46,075.25 not over $411,500 plus 33% of the excess over $189,300
  6. Over $411,500 $119,401.25 not over $413,200 plus 35% of the excess over $411,500
  7. Over $413,200 $119,996.25 plus 39.6% of the excess over $413,200

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Job Hunting Expenses

Posted by William Byrnes on November 3, 2014


If you look for a new job in the same line of work, you may be able to deduct some of your job hunting costs.IRS logo

Here are some key tax facts you should know about if you search for a new job:

  • Same Occupation.  Your expenses must be for a job search in your current line of work. You can’t deduct expenses for a job search in a new occupation.
  • Résumé Costs.  You can deduct the cost of preparing and mailing your résumé.
  • Travel Expenses.  If you travel to look for a new job, you may be able to deduct the cost of the trip. To deduct the cost of the travel to and from the area, the trip must be mainly to look for a new job. You may still be able to deduct some costs if looking for a job is not the main purpose of the trip.
  • Placement Agency. You can deduct some job placement agency fees you pay to look for a job.
  • First Job.  You can’t deduct job search expenses if you’re looking for a job for the first time.
  • Work-Search Break.  You can’t deduct job search expenses if there was a long break between the end of your last job and the time you began looking for a new one.
  • Reimbursed Costs.  Reimbursed expenses are not deductible.
  • Schedule A.  You usually deduct your job search expenses on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. You’ll claim them as a miscellaneous deduction. You can deduct the total miscellaneous deductions that are more than two percent of your adjusted gross income.

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IRS Announces 2015 Pension Plan Limitations; Taxpayers May Contribute up to $18,000 to their 401(k) plans in 2015

Posted by William Byrnes on October 23, 2014


The Internal Revenue Service announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2015.  Many of the pension plan IRS logolimitations will change for 2015 because the increase in the cost-of-living index met the statutory thresholds that trigger their adjustment.  However, other limitations will remain unchanged because the increase in the index did not meet the statutory thresholds that trigger their adjustment.  Highlights include the following:

  • The elective deferral (contribution) limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $17,500 to $18,000.
  • The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $5,500 to $6,000.
  • The limit on annual contributions to an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) remains unchanged at $5,500.  The additional catch-up contribution limit for individuals aged 50 and over is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $1,000.
  • The deduction for taxpayers making contributions to a traditional IRA is phased out for singles and heads of household who are covered by a workplace retirement plan and have modified adjusted gross incomes (AGI) between $61,000 and $71,000, up from $60,000 and $70,000 in 2014.  For married couples filing jointly, in which the spouse who makes the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the income phase-out range is $98,000 to $118,000, up from $96,000 to $116,000.  For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $183,000 and $193,000, up from $181,000 and $191,000.  For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.
  • The AGI phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $183,000 to $193,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $181,000 to $191,000 in 2014.  For singles and heads of household, the income phase-out range is $116,000 to $131,000, up from $114,000 to $129,000.  For a married individual filing a separate return, the phase-out range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.
  • The AGI limit for the saver’s credit (also known as the retirement savings contribution credit) for low- and moderate-income workers is $61,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $60,000 in 2014; $45,750 for heads of household, up from $45,000; and $30,500 for married individuals filing separately and for singles, up from $30,000.

Below are details on both the adjusted and unchanged limitations.

Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code provides for dollar limitations on benefits and contributions under qualified retirement plans.  Section 415(d) requires that the Secretary of the Treasury annually adjust these limits for cost of living increases.  Other limitations applicable to deferred compensation plans are also affected by these adjustments under Section 415.  Under Section 415(d), the adjustments are to be made under adjustment procedures similar to those used to adjust benefit amounts under Section 215(i)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act.

Effective January 1, 2015, the limitation on the annual benefit under a defined benefit plan under Section 415(b)(1)(A) remains unchanged at $210,000.  For a participant who separated from service before January 1, 2015, the limitation for defined benefit plans under Section 415(b)(1)(B) is computed by multiplying the participant’s compensation limitation, as adjusted through 2014, by 1.0178.

The limitation for defined contribution plans under Section 415(c)(1)(A) is increased in 2015 from $52,000 to $53,000.

The Code provides that various other dollar amounts are to be adjusted at the same time and in the same manner as the dollar limitation of Section 415(b)(1)(A).  After taking into account the applicable rounding rules, the amounts for 2015 are as follows:

The limitation under Section 402(g)(1) on the exclusion for elective deferrals described in Section 402(g)(3) is increased from $17,500 to $18,000.

The annual compensation limit under Sections 401(a)(17), 404(l), 408(k)(3)(C), and 408(k)(6)(D)(ii) is increased from $260,000 to $265,000.

The dollar limitation under Section 416(i)(1)(A)(i) concerning the definition of key employee in a top-heavy plan remains unchanged at $170,000.

The dollar amount under Section 409(o)(1)(C)(ii) for determining the maximum account balance in an employee stock ownership plan subject to a 5 year distribution period is increased from $1,050,000 to $1,070,000, while the dollar amount used to determine the lengthening of the 5 year distribution period remains unchanged at $210,000.

The limitation used in the definition of highly compensated employee under Section 414(q)(1)(B) is increased from $115,000 to $120,000.

The dollar limitation under Section 414(v)(2)(B)(i) for catch-up contributions to an applicable employer plan other than a plan described in Section 401(k)(11) or Section 408(p) for individuals aged 50 or over is increased from $5,500 to $6,000.  The dollar limitation under Section 414(v)(2)(B)(ii) for catch-up contributions to an applicable employer plan described in Section 401(k)(11) or Section 408(p) for individuals aged 50 or over is increased from $2,500 to $3,000.

The annual compensation limitation under Section 401(a)(17) for eligible participants in certain governmental plans that, under the plan as in effect on July 1, 1993, allowed cost of living adjustments to the compensation limitation under the plan under Section 401(a)(17) to be taken into account, is increased from $385,000 to $395,000.

The compensation amount under Section 408(k)(2)(C) regarding simplified employee pensions (SEPs) is increased from $550 to $600.

The limitation under Section 408(p)(2)(E) regarding SIMPLE retirement accounts is increased from $12,000 to $12,500.

The limitation on deferrals under Section 457(e)(15) concerning deferred compensation plans of state and local governments and tax-exempt organizations is increased from $17,500 to $18,000.

The compensation amount under Section 1.61 21(f)(5)(i) of the Income Tax Regulations concerning the definition of “control employee” for fringe benefit valuation remains unchanged at $105,000.  The compensation amount under Section 1.61 21(f)(5)(iii) is increased from $210,000 to $215,000.

The Code also provides that several retirement-related amounts are to be adjusted using the cost-of-living adjustment under Section 1(f)(3).  After taking the applicable rounding rules into account, the amounts for 2015 are as follows:

The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for married taxpayers filing a joint return is increased from $36,000 to $36,500; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $39,000 to $39,500; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $60,000 to $61,000.

The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for taxpayers filing as head of household is increased from $27,000 to $27,375; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $29,250 to $29,625; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $45,000 to $45,750.

The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for all other taxpayers is increased from $18,000 to $18,250; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) is increased from $19,500 to $19,750; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $30,000 to $30,500.

The deductible amount under Section 219(b)(5)(A) for an individual making qualified retirement contributions remains unchanged at $5,500.

The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(i) for determining the deductible amount of an IRA contribution for taxpayers who are active participants filing a joint return or as a qualifying widow(er) is increased from $96,000 to $98,000.  The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(ii) for all other taxpayers (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) is increased from $60,000 to $61,000.  The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(iii) for a married individual filing a separate return is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0.  The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(7)(A) for a taxpayer who is not an active participant but whose spouse is an active participant is increased from $181,000 to $183,000.

The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 408A(c)(3)(B)(ii)(I) for determining the maximum Roth IRA contribution for married taxpayers filing a joint return or for taxpayers filing as a qualifying widow(er) is increased from $181,000 to $183,000.  The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 408A(c)(3)(B)(ii)(II) for all other taxpayers (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) is increased from $114,000 to $116,000.  The applicable dollar amount under Section 408A(c)(3)(B)(ii)(III) for a married individual filing a separate return is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0.

The dollar amount under Section 430(c)(7)(D)(i)(II) used to determine excess employee compensation with respect to a single-employer defined benefit pension plan for which the special election under Section 430(c)(2)(D) has been made is increased from $1,084,000 to $1,101,000.

 

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Ten Things to Know About the Taxpayer Advocate Service

Posted by William Byrnes on October 20, 2014


Taxpayer AdvocateTen Things to Know About the Taxpayer Advocate Service

1. The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS and is your voice at the IRS.

2. We help taxpayers whose problems are causing financial difficulty. This includes businesses as well as individuals.

3. You may be eligible for our help if you’ve tried to resolve your tax problem through normal IRS channels and have gotten nowhere, or you believe an IRS procedure just isn’t working as it should.

4. The IRS has adopted a Taxpayer Bill of Rights that includes 10 fundamental rights that every taxpayer has when interacting with the IRS:

Taxpayer Bill of Rights

  • The Right to Be Informed.
  • The Right to Quality Service.
  • The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax.
  • The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard.
  • The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum.
  • The Right to Finality.
  • The Right to Privacy.
  • The Right to Confidentiality.
  • The Right to Retain Representation.
  • The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System.

Our TAS Tax Toolkit at TaxpayerAdvocate.irs.gov can help you understand these rights and what they mean for you. The toolkit also has examples that show how the Taxpayer Bill of Rights can apply in specific situations.

5. If you qualify for our help, you’ll be assigned to one advocate who will be with you at every turn. And our service is always free.

6. We have at least one local taxpayer advocate office in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.  You can call your advocate, whose number is in your local directory, in Pub. 1546, Taxpayer Advocate Service — Your Voice at the IRS, and on our website at irs.gov/advocate. You can also call us toll-free at
877-777-4778.

7. The TAS Tax Toolkit at TaxpayerAdvocate.irs.gov has basic tax information, details about tax credits (for individuals and businesses), and much more.

8. TAS also handles large-scale or systemic problems that affect many taxpayers. If you know of one of these broad issues, please report it to us at www.irs.gov/sams.

9. You can get updates at

10. TAS is here to help you, because when you’re dealing with a tax problem, the worst thing you can do is to do nothing at all.

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Miscellaneous Deductions Can Cut Taxes

Posted by William Byrnes on October 15, 2014


IRS logoMiscellaneous Deductions Can Cut Taxes

You may be able to deduct certain miscellaneous costs you pay during the year. Examples include employee expenses and fees you pay for tax advice. If you itemize, these deductions could lower your tax bill. Here are some things the IRS wants you to know about miscellaneous deductions:

Deductions Subject to the Two Percent Limit.  You can deduct most miscellaneous costs only if their total is more than two percent of your adjusted gross income. These include expenses such as:

  • Unreimbursed employee expenses.
  • Expenses related to searching for a new job in the same line of work.
  • Certain work clothes and uniforms.
  • Tools needed for your job.
  • Union dues.
  • Work-related travel and transportation.

Deductions Not Subject to the Two Percent Limit.  Some deductions are not subject to the two percent limit. They include:

  • Certain casualty and theft losses. Generally, this applies to damaged or stolen property that you held for investment. This includes items such as stocks, bonds and works of art.
  • Gambling losses up to the amount of your gambling winnings.
  • Losses from Ponzi-type investment schemes.

There are many expenses that you can’t deduct. For example, you can’t deduct personal living or family expenses. You claim allowable miscellaneous deductions on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions.

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4 Tax Facts about Hobbies

Posted by William Byrnes on September 29, 2014


IRS logo“Millions of people enjoy hobbies that are also a source of income. Some examples include stamp and coin collecting, craft making, and horsemanship.” the IRS stated in its Summertime Tax Tip 2014-15.

A taxpayer must report on the tax return the income earned from a hobby.  The rules for how a taxpayer reports the income and expenses depend on whether the activity is a hobby or a business.  There are special rules and limits for deductions a taxpayer can claim for a hobby.  Five tax tips  about hobbies:

1. Is it a Business or a Hobby?  A key feature of a business is that a taxpayer do it to make a profit.  Taxpayers often engage in a hobby for sport or recreation, not to make a profit. A taxpayer should consider nine factors when to determine whether an activity is a hobby.  A taxpayer must base the determination on all the facts and circumstances of the situation.

2. Allowable Hobby Deductions.  Within certain limits, a taxpayer can usually deduct ordinary and necessary hobby expenses. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted for the activity. A necessary expense is one that is appropriate for the activity.

3. Limits on Hobby Expenses.  Generally, a taxpayer can only deduct your hobby expenses up to the amount of hobby income.  If hobby expenses are more than the hobby’s income, then a loss results from the activity.  That loss is not deductible from other income.

4. How to Deduct Hobby Expenses.  A taxpayer must itemize deductions on a tax return in order to deduct hobby expenses.  Expenses may fall into three types of deductions, and special rules apply to each type.  See of Publication 535 for the rules about how you claim them on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions.

2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This book provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

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IRS Video Helps Same-Sex Couples

Posted by William Byrnes on September 24, 2014


The new video, less than two minutes long, is designed to help same-sex couples file their federal income tax returns.

 

 

 

 

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Four Things to Know about Net Investment Income Tax

Posted by William Byrnes on September 17, 2014


IRS Tax Tip 2014-48

Starting in 2013, some taxpayers may be subject to the Net Investment Income Tax. You may owe this tax if you have income from investments and your income for the year is more than certain limits. Here are four things from the IRS that you should know about this tax:

1. Net Investment Income Tax.  The law requires a tax of 3.8 percent on the lesser of either your net investment income or the amount by which your modified adjusted gross income exceeds a threshold amount based on your filing status.

2. Net investment income.  This amount generally includes income such as:

  • interest
  • dividends
  • capital gains
  • rental and royalty income
  • non-qualified annuities

This list is not all-inclusive. Net investment income normally does not include wages and most self-employment income. It does not include unemployment compensation, Social Security benefits or alimony. Net investment income also does not include any gain on the sale of your main home that you exclude from your income.

After you add up your total investment income, you then subtract your deductions that are properly allocable to this income. The result is your net investment income. Refer to the instructions for Form 8960, Net Investment Income Tax for more on how to figure your net investment income or MAGI.

3. Income threshold amounts.  You may owe the tax if you have net investment income and your modified adjusted gross income is more than the following amount for your filing status:

Filing Status                            Threshold Amount
Single or Head of household            $200,000
Married filing jointly                        $250,000
Married filing separately                  $125,000
Qualifying widow(er) with a child       $250,000

4. How to report.  If you owe this tax, you must file Form 8960 with your federal tax return. If you had too little tax withheld or did not pay enoughestimated taxes, you may have to pay an estimated tax penalty.

2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This book provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

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Back-to-School Tax Credits

Posted by William Byrnes on September 15, 2014


IRS logoThe IRS revealed in its Summertime Tax Tip 2014-23 that some of the costs a taxpayer pays for higher education can lead to a taxpayer owing less tax.  Here are several important tax facts about “education tax credits” from the IRS:

  • American Opportunity Tax Credit.  The AOTC can be up to $2,500 annually for an eligible student. This credit applies for the first four years of higher education. Forty percent of the AOTC is refundable. That means a taxpayer may be able to get up to $1,000 of the credit as a refund payment from the IRS, even if no tax is owed.
  • Lifetime Learning Credit.  With the LLC, a taxpayer may be able to claim a tax credit of up to $2,000 on the federal tax return. There is no limit on the number of years the LLC can be claimed for an eligible student.
  • One credit per student.  A taxpayer may claim only one type of education credit per student on the federal tax return each year. If more than one student qualifies for a credit in the same year, then the taxpayer can claim a different credit for each student.
  • Qualified expenses.  A taxpayer may include qualified expenses to calculate the credit.  This may include amounts paid for tuition, fees and other related expenses for an eligible student.
  • Eligible educational institutions.  Eligible schools are those that offer education beyond high school. This includes most colleges and universities. Vocational schools or other postsecondary schools may also qualify.
  • Form 1098-T.  In most cases, a taxpayer will receive Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, from the school.  This form reports the qualified expenses to the IRS and to the taxpayer. A taxpayer may notice that the amount shown on the form is different than the amount actually paid.  Some of the paid costs may not appear on Form 1098-T.  For example, the cost of textbooks may not appear on the form, but these textbook costs still may be able to be claimed as part of the credit.
  • Nonresident alien.  A F-1 student visa usually files a federal tax return as a nonresident alien.  A nonresident alien may not claim an education tax credit for any part of the tax year unless electing to be treated as a resident alien for federal tax purposes.
  • Income limits. These credits are subject to income limitations and may be reduced or eliminated, based on the taxpayer’s income.

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2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This book provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

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Tax Information for Students Who Had a Summer Job

Posted by William Byrnes on September 3, 2014


In IRS Special Edition Tax Tip 2014-13, it discussed the tax issues of students who work summer jobs.  Many students take a job in the summer after school lets out. The IRS provided eight tax tips for students who take a summer job.

1. The IRS stated that a student should not be surprised when an employer withholds taxes from the paycheck.  But if the student is self-employed, then he or she may have to pay estimated taxes directly to the IRS on certain dates during the year. This is called a “pay-as-you-go” tax system.

2. As a new employee, a student must complete a Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate.  An employer will use it to figure how much federal income tax to withhold from the paycheck. The IRS Withholding Calculator tool on IRS.gov can help a student fill out the form.

3. Keep in mind that all tip income is taxable. If a student receives tips, then the student must keep a daily log so that he or she can report them to the IRS.  A student must report $20 or more in cash tips in any one month to the employer.  All yearly tips must be reported on the tax return.

4. Money earned doing work for others is taxable.  Some work may count as self-employment. This can include jobs like baby-sitting and lawn mowing. Keep good records of expenses related to this work.  Some expenses may be deducted from the income on the tax return. A deduction may help lower the final tax due.

5. If a student is ROTC, then active duty pay, such as pay received for summer camp, is taxable.  But the subsistence allowance while in advanced training is not taxable.

6. A student may not earn enough from a summer job to owe income tax.  But an employer usually must withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes from any pay. If a student is self-employed, then the student must pay these directly to the IRS.  Yet, these count toward coverage under the Social Security system.

7. If a student is a newspaper carrier or distributor, special rules apply. If certain conditions, then the student is considered self-employed.  But if those conditions are not met and the student is under age 18, then the student is usually exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes.

8. The student may not earn enough money from a summer job to be required to file a tax return. Even if that is true, the student will probably want to file.  For example, if an employer withheld income tax from the paycheck, then the employee will need to file a return to receive a refund of those taxes.  The student can prepare and e-file a tax return for free using IRS Free File.

Finally, see tax rules for students.

2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This book provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

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Tax Facts for Travel For Charities

Posted by William Byrnes on September 1, 2014


In the IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2014-06, it discussed the tax tips associated with travelling for a charity.  The IRS directed the tax tips to taxpayers that plan to donate services to charity this summer, such as travel as part of the service.

The IRS disclosed five tax tips to assist with using the travel expenses to help lower taxes when filing the tax return for 2014.

1. A taxpayer cannot deduct the value of your services that is provided to charity.  the taxpayer may be able to deduct some out-of-pocket costs paid to provide the services.  This can include the cost of travel.

The out-of pocket costs must be:

• unreimbursed,

• directly connected with the services,

• expenses you had only because of the services you gave, and

• not personal, living or family expenses.

2. The volunteer work must be for a qualified charity. Most groups other than churches and governments must apply to the IRS to become qualified.  Ask the group about its IRS status before donating services that include out-of-pocket expenses. The Select Check tool on IRS.gov can be used to check a charity’s IRS status.

3. Some types of travel do not qualify for a tax deduction. For example, a taxpayer cannot deduct costs if a significant part of the trip involves recreation or a vacation.

4. A taxpayer can deduct travel expenses if the work is real and substantial throughout the trip.  But the expenses may not be deducted if the taxpayer only has nominal duties or does not have any duties for significant parts of the trip.

5. Deductible travel expenses may include:

• air, rail and bus transportation,

• car expenses,

• lodging costs,

• the cost of meals, and

• taxi or other transportation costs between the airport or station and your hotel.

2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This book provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

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revised IRS procedure for verifying social security numbers

Posted by William Byrnes on August 28, 2014


IRS logoRevenue Procedure 2014-43 provides guidance to individual payees on verifying social security numbers.

This revenue procedure provides revised procedures for individual payees who are required under Treas. Reg. § 31.3406(d)-5(g)(5) to obtain validation of social security numbers (SSNs) from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to prevent or stop backup withholding under section 3406 of the Internal Revenue Code following receipt of a second backup withholding notice from a payor within a three-year period.

This revenue procedure sets forth revised procedures for an individual payee to obtain validation of the payee’s name and SSN from SSA on or after August 1, 2014.  Following receipt of a second B notice, a copy of a social security card, as described in section 4, is validation from the SSA of a name and SSN combination.

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7 Tax Facts for Vacation Home Rentals

Posted by William Byrnes on August 25, 2014


IRS logoIRS Summertime Tax Tip 2014-13 addressed the topic of a taxpayer renting to others, such as summer vacation rentals in San Diego.

The IRS stated that of a taxpayer rents a home to others, then usually the taxpayer must report the rental income on the tax return.  But the taxpayer may not have to report the income if the rental period is less than 15 days and the property is also the taxpayer’s home.

In most cases, a taxpayer can deduct the costs of renting a property.  However, the deduction may be limited if the property is also the taxpayer’s home.

The IRS provided 7 tax facts about renting out a vacation home.

  1. Vacation Home.  A vacation home can be a house, apartment, condominium, mobile home, boat or similar property.
  2. Schedule E.  A taxpayer will report rental income and rental expenses on Schedule E, Supplemental Income and Loss.  The rental income may also be subject to Net Investment Income Tax.
  3. Used as a Home.  If the property is “used as a home,” then the rental expense deduction is limited.  This means that the deduction for rental expenses can not be more than the rental income received.  See Publication 527, Residential Rental Property (Including Rental of Vacation Homes).
  4. Divide Expenses.  If a taxpayer uses the property and also rents it to others, then special rules apply.  The taxpayer must divide the expenses between the rental use and the personal use.  To figure how to divide the costs, compare the number of days for each type of use with the total days of use.
  5. Personal Use.  Personal use may include use by the taxpayer’s family.  It may also include use by any other property owners or their family.  Use by anyone who pays less than a fair rental price is also personal use.
  6. Schedule A.  Report deductible expenses for personal use on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. These may include costs such as mortgage interest, property taxes and casualty losses.
  7. Rented Less than 15 Days.  If the property is “used as a home” and rented out fewer than 15 days per year, then the taxpayer does not have to report the rental income.

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8 Tax Facts a Home Seller Should Know

Posted by William Byrnes on August 18, 2014


IRS logoIn its 8th tax tip of summer, the IRS revealed that if a taxpayer sells a home for a profit, the gain may not be taxable.  The IRS provided eight tax facts about selling a home in 2014.

1. A capital gain, or a part of it, on the sale of a home may not be taxable.  This rule may apply if the home is owned and used it as the main home for at least two out of the five years before the date of sale.  However, there are exceptions to the “ownership and use” rules. Some exceptions apply to persons with a disability. Some apply to certain members of the military and certain government and Peace Corps workers.

2. Up to $250,000 of gain will not be taxable for an individual, and $500,000 for married, filing a joint return.  The Obama Care Net Investment Income Tax will also not apply to the excluded gain.

3. If the gain is not taxable because it falls beneath the threshold, then the taxpayer may not be required to report the sale to the IRS on the 2014 tax return, filed in 2015.

4. However, a taxpayer must report the sale on the 2014 tax return if part or all of the gain cannot be excluded from tax, or if the taxpayer receives a Form 1099-S, Proceeds From Real Estate Transactions.  The additional Net Investment Income Tax may apply to the gain.

5. Generally, a taxpayer can only exclude the gain from the sale of a main home once every two years.

6.  If a taxpayer has more than one home, then the taxpayer may only exclude the gain on the sale of the main home, which is usually the home lived in most of the time.

7. If a taxpayer claimed the first-time homebuyer credit when purchasing the home, then special rules apply to the sale.

8. A loss on a home sale can not be deducted.

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5 Tax Tips for New Business

Posted by William Byrnes on August 11, 2014


IRS logoIn its summer time Tax Tips 9-2014, the IRS provided 5 tax tips to taxpayers who start a new business during 2014.

1. Business Structure.  The IRS stated that taxpayers should choose the business type for the new business. Some common types of entities include sole proprietorship, partnership, S corporation, Limited Liability Company (LLC) and C corporation (normally just referred to as a ‘corporation’).  The type of business chosen will determine the IRS form(s) that must be used to annually report information and to determine tax owing to the IRS.

2. Business Taxes.  There are four general types of business taxes. They are income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax and excise tax. The type of taxes a business pays usually depends on which type of business the taxpayer chose to set up.

3. Employer Identification Number.  A taxpayer may need to get an EIN for federal tax purposes in order to file the tax form necessary for the business type.

4. Accounting Method.  An accounting method is a set of rules that determine when to report income and expenses. A business must use a consistent method. The two that are most common are the cash method and the accrual method. Under the cash method, income is reported in the year received and expenses are deducted in the year paid.  Under the accrual method, income is reported in the year earn, regardless of when payment was actually made, and expenses are deducted in the year incur, regardless of when paid.

5. Employee Health Care.  The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit helps small businesses and tax-exempt organizations pay for health care coverage they offer their employees.  A small employer is eligible for the credit if it has fewer than 25 employees who work full-time, or a combination of full-time and part-time. Beginning in 2014, the maximum credit is 50 percent of premiums paid for small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid for small tax-exempt employers, such as charities.

For 2015 and after, employers employing at least a certain number of employees (generally 50 full-time employees or a combination of full-time and part-time employees that is equivalent to 50 full-time employees) will be subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility provision.

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Are you paying too much or too little tax?

Posted by William Byrnes on August 7, 2014


IRS logoIn Summer Tax Tip 10-2014, the IRS disclosed that that many taxpayers will discover that they either get a larger refund or owe more tax than they expected next April 15, 2015.  But, the IRS stated, this type of tax surprise is controllable by the taxpayer.

One way to prevent owing more tax next April 15, plus interest and any penalty, or to avoid having too much tax withheld, is to adjust the amount of tax withheld from salary.

Another way to prevent interest and penalties on April 15th is to change the amount of estimated tax paid during the year.

Factors the IRS wants taxpayers to consider during the summer include:

•    New Job.   A taxpayer must fill out and submit Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate in order to begin new employment.  The employer will use the information provided by the taxpayer on this form to calculate the amount of federal income tax to withhold from the paycheck.

•    Estimated Tax.  A taxpayer may need to pay estimated tax directly to the IRS during 2014 BEFORE filing the April 15 tax return in 2015.  If a taxpayer earns income without withholding, such as self-employment, interest, dividends or rent, then it is likely that the taxpayer owes estimated tax.  For the year 2014, tax may be due also on June 16, 2014, on Sept. 15 in 2014, on Jan. 15, 2015, and of course, also on Wednesday, April 15, 2015.  Read more about estimated tax here.

•    Life Event Change.  Married?  New Child?  New House?  The Form W-4 or Estimated Tax calculation needs to be updated to reflect a marriage, a child, or the purchase of a new home.

•    Changes in Circumstances.  A taxpayer that receives advance payment of the Obama Care premium tax credit in 2014 must report changes in circumstances, such as changes in income or family size, to the Health Insurance Marketplace where the medical insurance was bought for the year.  Also, a taxpayer must notify the Marketplace if moving away from the geographic area covered by the Marketplace plan.  Read more here.

 

 

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Getting Married – How Must I Include the IRS In My Wedding Plans?

Posted by William Byrnes on July 28, 2014


Why would a taxpayer want to include the IRS in his or her wedding plans?  Well, “its the law”.

No, the taxpayer does not need to send a wedding invitation to the closest IRS office.  But a 2014 marriage results in changes to the new married “couple’s” 2014 tax filing and possibly amount owed in tax for 2014.  Whether the couple will owe more in tax each year, including the year of marriage, over that of the combined amount of each individual’s tax due, depends on several factors, such as whether both spouses have income and how much that income is.  In general, a married couple, when both spouses are employed, pay more income tax than if they remained single and filed individual tax returns.  Also, the married couple may owe, and may owe more, of the additional 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax.

The IRS’ Summer Tax Tip 2014-2 reminds taxpayers that marriage has certain tax consequences from at least a filing persepctive.  These include:

Change in filing status.  If a couple is married before, or even on Dec. 31, 2014 at 11:59pm, then for the whole year of 2014 for tax purposes the IRS considers the couple married. Thus, neither spouse may file an individual’s tax return any longer.  Instead, the married couple must choose to file your federal income tax return either jointly or separately (as a married couple) for 2014.

Same-sex married couples:  If the couple is legally married in a state or country that recognizes same-sex marriage, then the couple must file as married for the federal tax return. This is true even if you and your spouse later live in a state or country that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Name change. The names and Social Security numbers listed on a tax return must match the Social Security Administration records. If a spouse changes the family name, then that name change must be reported to SSA.

Change tax withholding.  A change in marital status requires that a new Form W-4 for each spouse’s employer (Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate).  If it normal that when both spouse have income, the combined incomes moves each into a higher tax bracket for withholding at work.  Use the IRS Withholding Calculator tool to assist completing a new Form W-4.

Obama Care Premium Tax Credit changes in circumstances.  If a taxpayer took advantage of receiving the advance payment of the premium tax credit in 2014, then it is required to report changes in circumstances, such as changes in income, marriage, or family size, to the Health Insurance Marketplace.  Moreover, if one spouse will move out of the area covered of a current Marketplace plan, then that spouse must notify the Marketplace.

Address change for IRS letters.  A taxpayer has the responsibility to inform that IRS of an address changes.  To do that, file Form 8822, Change of Address, with the IRS.  Also, separately, the taxpayer should ask the U.S. Postal Service online at USPS.com to forward any mail sent to the former address.

2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This book provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

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An unconventional retirement planning tool

Posted by William Byrnes on June 30, 2014


When it comes to retirement income planning for most clients, less is not more, and the contribution limits placed on traditional tax-preferred retirement vehicles have many of these clients searching for creative ways to ensure a comfortable retirement income level. Enter the health savings account (HSA), which, though traditionally intended to function as a savings account earmarked for medical expenses, can actually function as a powerful retirement income planning vehicle for clients looking to supplement their retirement savings.

For the strategy to work, however, it is important that your clients understand the rules of the game, and the potential penalties that can derail the substantial tax benefits that an HSA can offer.

The HSA income strategy …

Read William Byrnes & Robert Bloink’s analysis of an unconventional retirement planning tool on LifeHealthPro

 

If you are interested in discussing the Master or Doctoral degree in the areas of international taxation or anti money laundering compliance, please contact me profbyrnes@gmail.com to Google Hangout or Skype that I may take you on an “online tour”

 

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5 Tax Facts about IRS Notices and Letters

Posted by William Byrnes on June 25, 2014


In Tax Tip 2014-60, the IRS disclosed that it sends millions of notices and letters to taxpayers.   Not surprising, given that over 150 million returns are filed each year.   The IRS informed taxpayers of 6 important tips about such notices and letters:

1. The IRS sends letters and notices by mail, never by email nor by social media.  Each notice has specific instructions about what the taxpayer must do to respond.  Often, a taxpayer only needs to respond by mail to deal with whatever the notice requests.  Keep copies of any notices and responses with the annual tax records.

2. The IRS may send a letter or notice for a variety of very different reasons.  Typically, a letter or notice is only about one specific issue on a taxpayer’s federal tax return or about the taxpayer’s tax account.   A notice may simply inform the taxpayer about changes to the tax account or only ask you for more information about an item on the tax return.  However, it may inform the taxpayer that a tax payment is due.

3. A taxpayer may receive a notice that states the IRS has made a change or correction to the tax return.  In this case, the taxpayer should review the information received and then compare it with the original tax return.  If the taxpayer agrees with the IRS notice, then the taxpayer usually does not need to reply except to make a payment.

4. However, if the taxpayer does not agree with the notice, then the taxpayer must respond.  The taxpayer must write a letter to explain why the taxpayer disagrees with the IRS notice, including any information and documents that supports the taxpayer’s position.  The taxpayer must mail a reply, with the bottom tear-off portion of the notice, to the address shown in the upper left-hand corner of the notice.  Allow at least 30 days for a response.

5. A taxpayer does not need to call or visit an IRS office for most notices.  However, if a taxpayer has questions, then call the phone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Have a copy of the tax return and the notice for the call.

tax-facts-online_medium

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.” said Rick Kravitz.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

 Authoritative and easy-to-use, 2014 Tax Facts on Insurance & Employee Benefits shows you how the tax law and regulations are relevant to your insurance, employee benefits, and financial planning practices.  Often complex tax law and regulations are explained in clear, understandable language.  Pertinent planning points are provided throughout.

2014 Tax Facts on Investments provides clear, concise answers to often complex tax questions concerning investments.  2014 expanded sections on Limitations on Loss Deductions, Charitable Gifts, Reverse Mortgages, and REITs.

 

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11 health insurance tax facts a taxpayer needs to know about

Posted by William Byrnes on June 24, 2014


Employers and those who advise them may have questions about what expenses qualify for deductions, which tax credits they can take advantage of, and what the new rules mean for grandfathered plans. Individuals may be wondering how HSA distributions are taxed, or whether benefits received under a personal health insurance policy are taxable. 

1. Are premiums paid for personal health insurance deductible as medical expenses?

2. May an employer deduct as a business expense the cost of premiums paid for accident and health insurance for employees?

3. What credit is available for small employers for employee health insurance expenses?

4. Are benefits received under a personal health insurance policy taxable income?

5. How is employer-provided disability income coverage taxed?

6. How is personal disability income coverage taxed?

William Byrnes and Robert Bloink have the well-researched answers you’re looking for on LifeHealthPro !

 


If you are interested in discussing the Master or Doctoral degree in the areas of financial planning, please contact me: profbyrnes@gmail.com to Google Hangout or Skype that I may take you on an “online tour” 

 

 

Posted in Taxation, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Do you Owe a Health Care Coverage Penalty for 2014?

Posted by William Byrnes on June 20, 2014


Deadline to Enroll has Passed

The deadline to enroll in minimum essential health insurance passed on March 30, 2014.   According to estimates by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), it met its goal of at least 7 million persons enrolling for health care via the health insurance market places established by the federal government on behalf of various states. Some states, such as California, established their own insurance marketplaces, and thus it is likely that the 7 million figure has indeed been achieved, if not surpassed.

Did Enough Healthy People Enroll to Pay for The System?

The primary question for the federal government that remains is whether the balance of persons enrolling that are “healthy” individuals who must simply pay the annual premium in 2014 but will not actually take dollars from the medical coverage in 2014, will outweigh the payouts to individuals that will take more from health insurance than they pay in.

But What About the Medicaid Expansion?

Moreover, the Affordable Care Act pushed states to expand the definition of when an individual may be covered by the Medicaid, and thus receive medical care substantively paid for by a combination of the federal and state government.  The federal government upfront will provide 90% of a state’s additional medicare cost.  The state must shoulder more of this burden in the future though.

How Will This Be Paid For?

How will the federal government pay for its share of the additional medicare costs and for any additional costs associated with this new federally mandated system?  Some government officials state that Obama Care is already set up to pay for itself because the medical profession, insurance companies, and taxpayers will pick up the additional costs.  Insurance companies will reduce their own administrative costs, the medical profession will offer its services at cheaper prices, and Congress has already raised taxes in the forms of the increased medicare payroll tax and medicare tax on investment income.

The New “Shared Responsibility Payment” Tax, Penalty, Fine

But also, Congress imposed a required payment (some pundits call it a penalty, some call it a tax, others a fine like a parking ticket) on taxpayers who do not obtain and maintain health coverage, that will over time increase.  As the required penalty increases over the coming years, in principle at least, it should be cheaper for a taxpayer to simply buy the lowest cost health insurance than to pay this penalty.  This assumes that the cost of the lowest quality health insurance in these marketplaces does not sky rocket to over come the penalty.

Congress did not call the penalty a “penalty” in the actual law. Instead, Congress used a more ‘voter friendly’ expression “individual shared responsibility payment”.

An Example Decision Maker Deciding What to do in 2014

Other factors will play a role in this decision process, such as a individual’s appetite to take on catastrophic medical risk  (like breaking all their bones in an accident) and weighing the cost of the insurance and the required deductible. If an individual’s annual premium will cost by example approximately $7,200 and the annual deductible is $6,000 (this is an actual example from an insurance policy offered via the 2014 California Marketplace), and the individual thinks that it is extremely unlikely that he or she will spend more than $13,200 in medical costs in 2014, then the individual may opt for the “shared responsibility payment”.

If nothing medically happens during 2014, the taxpayer will only owe the contribution, and thus have saved over $13,000!  However, if something catastrophic happens in 2014 requiring substantial medical expenses over $13,200, the taxpayer will have been better off with the insurance.  Another economic factor in this economic decision making process includes the amount of co-pay required per type of medical procedure.  Another factor in the risk decision making process is the individual’s belief of potentially requiring a certain level of medical expenses, such as perhaps just a stomach virus and the likely out of pocket cost of that care, versus breaking a bone.

How much is the penalty for 2014 if a taxpayer did not have “minimum essential coverage’ by March 30, 2014?

If a taxpayer (or any dependents) do not maintain health care coverage and do not qualify for an exemption, then the taxpayer must make an individual shared responsibility payment with the 2014 tax return.  In general, this health care coverage penalty is either a percentage of the taxpayer’s income or a flat dollar amount, whichever is greater.  High income taxpayers will pay a higher penalty.  A taxpayer will owe 1/12th of this penalty for each month of the taxpayer or taxpayer’s dependents gap in coverage.  The annual payment amount for 2014 is the greater of:

  • one percent (1%) of the household income that is above the tax return threshold for the taxpayer’s filing status, such as Married Filing Jointly or single, or
  • a family’s flat dollar amount, which is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, limited to a maximum of $285.

This individual shared responsibility payment is capped at the cost of the national average premium for the bronze level health plan available through the Marketplace in 2014.  The taxpayer will pay the due amount with the 2014 federal income tax return filed in 2015.  For example, a single adult under age 65 with household income less than $19,650 (but more than $10,150) would pay the $95 flat rate.  However, a single adult under age 65 with household income greater than $19,650 would pay an annual payment based on the one percent rate.  

Why greater than $19,650?  The filing threshold for a single adult in 2014 is 10,150, subtract that from $19,650, leaving a base amount of $9, 500.  Multiply 1% to that base amount and the penalty is $95, the same as the flat rate.

So, from the beginning of this year (January 1, 2014) a taxpayer and the family must either have “qualifying” health insurance coverage throughout the year, qualify for an exemption from coverage, or make the above payment when filing the 2014 federal income tax return in 2015.

What is “Minimum Essential Coverage” Under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”)?

In Health Care Tax Tip 12, the IRS explained for a taxpayer how to determine if his or her health care coverage qualifies as “minimum essential coverage” to avoid the health care coverage penalty for 2014 that must be paid by April 15, 2015 when filing the tax return.

The Affordable Care Act calls for individuals to have and maintain qualifying health insurance coverage for each month of the year, or have an exemption, or make a shared responsibility payment (pay a ‘penalty’) when filing their federal income tax return next year by April 15, 2015.

Qualifying health insurance coverage, called minimum essential coverage, includes coverage under various, but not all, types of health care coverage plans. The IRS stated that the majority of coverage that people have today counts as minimum essential coverage.

The IRS provided examples of minimum essential coverage:

  • Health insurance coverage provided by an employer,
  • Health insurance purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace,
  • Coverage provided under a government-sponsored program (including Medicare, Medicaid, and health care programs for veterans), and
  • Health insurance purchased directly from an insurance company.

Minimum essential coverage does not include coverage providing only limited benefits, such as:

  • Coverage consisting solely of excepted benefits, such as:
    • Stand-alone vision and dental insurance
    • Workers’ compensation
    • Accident or disability income insurance
  • Medicaid plans that provide limited coverage such as only family planning services or only treatment of emergency medical conditions.

tax-facts-online_medium

Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

6 Tax Facts About the Additional Medicare Tax

Posted by William Byrnes on June 19, 2014


In Tax Tip 54, the IRS alerted taxpayers that if their income exceeds certain limits, then they may be liable for an Additional Medicare Tax.  6 Tax Tips Regarding the Additional Medicare Tax are:

1. The Additional Medicare Tax is 0.9%.  It applies to the amount of a taxpayer’s wages, self-employment income and railroad retirement (RRTA) compensation that is more than a “threshold” amount. The threshold amount that applies is based on your filing status.  If a taxpayer is married and file a joint return, then the taxpayer must combine both spouse’s wages, compensation, or self-employment income to determine if that income exceeds the “married filing jointly” threshold.

2. The threshold amounts are:

 Filing Status                   Threshold Amount
Married filing jointly           $250,000
Married filing separately   $125,000
Single                                         $200,000
Head of household               $200,000
Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child      $200,000

3. A taxpayer must combine all wages and all self-employment income to determine if the total income exceeds the threshold.  A taxpayer may not consider a loss from self-employment when calculating this additional medicare tax.  The taxpayer must compare RRTA compensation separately to the threshold.  See the instructions for Form 8959, Additional Medicare Tax, for examples.

4. Employers must withhold this tax from wages or compensation when paying a taxpayer more than $200,000 in a calendar year, without regard to filing status.  The employer does not combine the wages for married couples to determine whether to withhold Additional Medicare Tax.

5. A taxpayer may owe more tax than the amount withheld, depending on the filing status and other income. In that case, the taxpayer must make estimated tax payments /or request additional income tax withholding using Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate.  If a taxpayer has too little tax withheld, or did not pay enough estimated tax, the taxpayer may owe an estimated tax penalty. For more on this topic, see Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax.

6. File Form 8959 with the tax return if owing Additional Medicare Tax.  The taxpayer must also report any Additional Medicare Tax withheld by an employer on Form 8959.

IRS Examples:

How do individuals calculate Additional Medicare Tax if they have wages subject to Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax and self-employment income subject to Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA) tax?

Individuals with wages subject to FICA tax and self-employment income subject to SECA tax calculate their liabilities for Additional Medicare Tax in three steps:

Step 1. Calculate Additional Medicare Tax on any wages in excess of the applicable threshold for the filing status, without regard to whether any tax was withheld.

Step 2. Reduce the applicable threshold for the filing status by the total amount of Medicare wages received, but not below zero.

Step 3. Calculate Additional Medicare Tax on any self-employment income in excess of the reduced threshold.

Example 1. C, a single filer, has $130,000 in wages and $145,000 in self-employment income.

  1. C’s wages are not in excess of the $200,000 threshold for single filers, so C is not liable for Additional Medicare Tax on these wages.
  2. Before calculating the Additional Medicare Tax on self-employment income, the $200,000 threshold for single filers is reduced by C’s $130,000 in wages, resulting in a reduced self-employment income threshold of $70,000.
  3. C is liable to pay Additional Medicare Tax on $75,000 of self-employment income ($145,000 in self-employment income minus the reduced threshold of $70,000).

Example 2. D and E are married and file jointly. D has $150,000 in wages and E has $175,000 in self-employment income.

  1. D’s wages are not in excess of the $250,000 threshold for joint filers, so D and E are not liable for Additional Medicare Tax on D’s wages.
  2. Before calculating the Additional Medicare Tax on E’s self-employment income, the $250,000 threshold for joint filers is reduced by D’s $150,000 in wages resulting in a reduced self-employment income threshold of $100,000.
  3. D and E are liable to pay Additional Medicare Tax on $75,000 of self-employment income ($175,000 in self-employment income minus the reduced threshold of $100,000).

tax-facts-online_medium

Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

8 Tax Facts about Penalties for Late Filing and Paying Taxes

Posted by William Byrnes on June 18, 2014


In Tax Tip 2014-56, the IRS provided 9 tax facts that a taxpayer needs to know about late filing and late paying tax penalties after the deadline of April 15.  By example, taxpayers should be made aware that the failure-to-file penalty is usually 10 times greater than the failure-to-pay penalty.  So the IRS encourages taxpayers to file on time, even if they cannot pay on time.

1. If a taxpayer is due a federal tax refund then there is no penalty if the tax return is filed later than April 15.  However, if a taxpayer owes taxes and fails to file the tax return by April 15 or fails to pay any tax due by April 15,  then the taxpayer will probably owe interest and penalties on the tax still after April 15.

2. Two federal penalties may apply. The first is a failure-to-file penalty for late filing. The second is a failure-to-pay penalty for paying late.

3. The failure-to-file penalty is usually much more than the failure-to-pay penalty.  In most cases, it is 10 times more!!!  So if a taxpayer cannot pay what is owe by April 15, the taxpayer should still file a tax return on time and pay as much as possible to reduce the balance.

4. The failure-to-file penalty is normally 5% of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month that a tax return is late. It will not exceed 25% of the unpaid taxes.

5. If a taxpayer files a return more than 60 days after the due date (or extended due date), the minimum penalty for late filing is the smaller of $135 or 100% of the unpaid tax.

6. The failure-to-pay penalty is generally 0.5% per month of your unpaid taxes.  It applies for each month or part of a month your taxes remain unpaid and starts accruing the day after taxes are due.  It can build up to as much as 25% of the unpaid taxes.

7. If the 5% failure-to-file penalty and the 0.5% failure-to-pay penalty both apply in any month, the maximum penalty amount charged for that month is 5%.

8. If a taxpayer requested the 6-month extension of time to file the income tax return (until October 15) by the tax due date of April 15 and paid at least 90% of the taxes that are owed, then the taxpayer may not face a failure-to-pay penalty.  However, the taxpayer must pay the remaining balance by the extended due date.  The taxpayer will still owe interest on any taxes paid after the April 15 due date.

9. A taxpayer may avoid a failure-to-file or failure-to-pay penalty if able to show reasonable cause for not filing or paying on time.

tax-facts-online_medium

Because of the constant changes to the tax law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. For over 110 years, National Underwriter has provided fast, clear, and authoritative answers to financial advisors pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format.

“Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.


If you are interested in discussing the Master or Doctoral degree in the areas of financial services or international taxation, please contact me: profbyrnes@gmail.com to Google Hangout or Skype that I may take you on an “online tour” 

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Filing Requirement for NRA with US Source Income?

Posted by William Byrnes on June 10, 2014


Nonresident Aliens with US Source Income?

Nonresident aliens (“NRA”) who received income from U.S. sources in 2013 also must determine whether they have a U.S. tax obligation. The filing deadline for nonresident aliens can be April 15 or June 16 depending on sources of income. See Taxation of Nonresident Aliens.

Who is a Nonresident Alien for US tax Purposes?

An alien is any individual who is not a U.S. citizen or U.S. national.

A resident alien is an alien who has passed either the green card test or the substantial presence test.  A nonresident alien is everyone other alien.

Who Must File a US tax Return?

If an alien is covered under either of the following 2 categories , then the alien must file a US tax return:

  1. A nonresident alien individual engaged or considered to be engaged in a trade or business in the United States during the year.
  2. A nonresident alien individual who is not engaged in a trade or business in the United States and has U.S. income on which the tax liability was not satisfied by the withholding of tax at the source.

Which Income to Report?

A nonresident alien’s income that is subject to U.S. income tax must generally be divided into 2 categories:

Effectively Connected Income, after allowable deductions, is taxed at graduated rates. These are the same rates that apply to U.S. citizens and residents. Effectively Connected Income should be reported on page one of Form 1040NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return.

FDAP income generally consists of passive investment income; however, in theory, it could consist of almost any sort of income. FDAP income is taxed at a flat 30% (or lower treaty rate) and no deductions are allowed against such income. FDAP income should be reported on page four of Form 1040NR.

Which Form to File?

Nonresident aliens who are required to file an income tax return must use:

What is US Source Income Subject to US tax?

A nonresident alien (NRA) usually is subject to U.S. income tax only on U.S. source income. The general rules for determining U.S. source income that apply to most nonresident aliens are shown below:

Summary of Source Rules for Income of Nonresident Aliens
Item of Income Factor Determining Source

Salaries, wages, other compensation

Where services performed

Business income: Personal services Where services performed
Business income: Sale of inventory -purchased Where sold

Business income: Sale of inventory -produced

Where produced (Allocation may be necessary)

Interest

Residence of payer

Dividends

Whether a U.S. or foreign corporation*

Rents

Location of property

Royalties: Natural resources Location of property

Royalties: Patents, copyrights, etc.

Where property is used

Sale of real property

Location of property

Sale of personal property

Seller’s tax home (but see Personal Property, in Chapter 2 of Publication 519, for exceptions)

Pensions

Where services were performed that earned the pension

Scholarships – Fellowships Generally, the residence of the payer

Sale of natural resources

Allocation based on fair market value of product at export terminal. For more information, see IRC section 1.863–1(b) of the regulations.

*Exceptions include: a) Dividends paid by a U.S. corporation are foreign source if the corporation elects the Puerto Rico economic activity credit or possessions tax credit. b) Part of a dividend paid by a foreign corporation is U.S. source if at least 25% of the corporation’s gross income is effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business for the 3 tax years before the year in which the dividends are declared.

tax-facts-online_medium

Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

“Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

  If you are interested in discussing the Master or Doctoral degree in the areas of financial services or international taxation, please contact me: profbyrnes@gmail.com to Google Hangout or Skype that I may take you on an “online tour”

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

What are the tax advantages of owning exchange-traded funds (ETFs)? 10 tax tips to investments …

Posted by William Byrnes on June 5, 2014


What are the tax advantages of owning exchange-traded funds (ETFs)?

ETFs enjoy a more favorable tax treatment than mutual funds due to their unique structure. …

How are ETFs taxed? …

How are dividends received from a mutual fund taxed?

… may pay three types of dividends to their shareholders …

These and 7 other tax questions about investments are answered in our article and analysis on LifeHealthPro

 

If you are interested in discussing the Master or Doctoral degree in the areas of financial planning, please contact me: profbyrnes@gmail.com to Google Hangout or Skype that I may take you on an “online tour” 

Posted in Taxation, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

3 Tax Facts for US Taxpayers Living Abroad or With Foreign Assets

Posted by William Byrnes on June 2, 2014


In Newswire 2014-52, IRS reminded US taxpayers living abroad of 3 Tax Facts concerning filing requirements.

1. Filing Requirements of a US taxpayer Living and / or Working in a Foreign Country?

The Internal Revenue Service reminds U.S. citizens and resident aliens, including those with dual citizenship who have lived or worked abroad during all or part of 2013, that they may have a U.S. tax liability and a filing requirement in 2014.

The filing deadline for a tax return for a US taxpayer who lives or works outside the US (or serving in the military outside the U.S.) is Monday, June 16, 2014.  To use this automatic two-month extension, taxpayers must attach a statement to their return explaining which of these two situations applies. See U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad for details.

2. Foreign Assets Reporting?

Federal law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report any worldwide income, including income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and securities accounts. In most cases, affected taxpayers need to fill out and attach Schedule B to their tax return. Certain taxpayers may also have to fill out and attach to their return Form 8938, Statement of Foreign Financial Assets.

Part III of Schedule B asks about the existence of foreign accounts, such as bank and securities accounts, and usually requires U.S. citizens to report the country in which each account is located.

Generally, U.S. citizens, resident aliens and certain nonresident aliens must report specified foreign financial assets on Form 8938 if the aggregate value of those assets exceeds certain thresholds. See the instructions for this form for details.

3. FBAR Reporting Also Required?

Separately, taxpayers with foreign accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during 2013 must file electronically with the Treasury Department a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). This form replaces TD F 90-22.1, the FBAR form used in the past. It is due to the Treasury Department by June 30, 2014, must be filed electronically and is only available online through the BSA E-Filing System website. For details regarding the FBAR requirements, see Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

Any U.S. taxpayer here or abroad with tax questions can use the online IRS Tax Map and the International Tax Topic Index to get answers.

tax-facts-online_medium

Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

“Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

For an indepth analysis of deductions for donations to U.S. charities (and the government’s policy encouraging or discouraging these donations), download my article at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2304044

If you are interested in discussing the Master or Doctoral degree in the areas of financial services or international taxation, please contact me: profbyrnes@gmail.com to Google Hangout or Skype that I may take you on an “online tour”

Posted in Compliance, FATCA, Taxation | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Can’t Pay Your Tax Debt? What is an Offer in Compromise?

Posted by William Byrnes on May 28, 2014


What is an Offer in Compromise?

An offer in compromise allows a taxpayer in certain situations to settle a tax debt for less than the full amount of that debt.  An offer in compromise may be a legitimate option when a taxpayer cannot pay a full tax liability, or paying the full tax liability will create a financial hardship.

The IRS considers the taxpayer’s following unique set of facts and circumstances:

  • Ability to pay;
  • Income;
  • Expenses; and
  • Asset equity.

The IRS states that it will generally approve an offer in compromise when the amount offered represents the most that the IRS thinks that it can expect to collect within a reasonable period of time.

Who is Eligible for an Offer in Compromise?

Before the IRS is able to consider an offer in compromise from a taxpayer, the taxpayer must first be current with all filing and payment requirements.  A taxpayer is not eligible if the taxpayer is in an open bankruptcy proceeding.  Use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier to confirm eligibility and to prepare a preliminary offer in compromise proposal.

How to Submit an Offer in Compromise?

Step-by-step instructions and all the forms for submitting an Offer in Compromise may be found in the Booklet Form 656-B (PDF).  The Offer in Compromise must include:

How to Select a payment option?

The initial payment will vary based on the offer and the payment option chosen with the offer:

  • Lump Sum Cash: Submit an initial payment of 20 % of the total offer amount with the application for Offer in Compromise.  Wait for written acceptance, then pay the remaining balance of the offer in five or fewer payments.
  • Periodic Payment: Submit the initial payment with the application. Continue to pay the remaining balance in monthly installments while the IRS considers the offer in compromise.  If accepted, continue to pay monthly until it is paid in full.

If a taxpayer meets the Low Income Certification guidelines, then the taxpayer does not need to send the application fee or the initial payment and will not need to make monthly installments during the evaluation of the offer in compromise.

What Happens During the Evaluation of the Offer in Compromise?

  • Non-refundable payments and fees will be applied to the tax liability, payments may be designated to a specific tax year and tax debt;
  • A Notice of Federal Tax Lien may be filed;
  • Other collection activities are temporarily suspended;
  • The legal assessment and collection period is extended;
  • Make all required payments associated with the offer;
  • Payments on an existing installment agreement may be temporarily suspended; and
  • The Offer in Compromise is automatically accepted if the IRS does not make a determination within two years of the IRS receipt date.
If the offer is accepted If your offer is rejected
  • Meet all the Offer Terms listed in Section 8 of Form 656, including filing all required tax returns and making all payments;
  • Any refunds due within the calendar year in which your offer is accepted will be applied to the tax debt;
  • Federal tax liens are not released until the offer terms are satisfied; and
  • Certain offer information is available for public review at designated IRS offices.
  • A taxpayer may appeal a rejection within 30 days using Request for Appeal of Offer in Compromise, Form 13711 (PDF).

2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1For over 110 years, National Underwriter has provided fast, clear, and authoritative answers to financial advisors pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format.  “Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Businessrisk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

For an indepth analysis of deductions for donations to U.S. charities (and the government’s policy encouraging or discouraging these donations), download my article at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2304044

If you are interested in discussing the Master or Doctoral degree in the areas of financial services or international taxation, please contact me: profbyrnes@gmail.com to Google Hangout or Skype that I may take you on an “online tour” 

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

9 Tax Facts about Amending a Tax Return

Posted by William Byrnes on May 21, 2014


The IRS in Tax Tip 2014-51 alerted taxpayers to their ability to amend a tax return after it has already been filed with the IRS.  By example, if a taxpayer discovers that a mistake was made on the return, such as a mis-statement of income or inadvertent inclusion or exclusion of a deduction, the taxpayer can correct the mistake by filing an amended tax return.

9 tax facts that a taxpayer should know about filing an amended tax return include:

1. Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to correct errors on a tax return.  But the amended return must be filed on paper.  Amended returns cannot be e-filed.

2. A taxpayer should file an amended tax return if there is an error claiming a filing status, income, deductions or credits on the original return.

3. However, a taxpayer normally will not need to file an amended return to correct simple math calculation errors on the return.  The IRS computers will find those math errors and automatically make those changes.  Such changes may effect the tax due or increase or decrease a refund.  Also, a taxpayer does not to file an amended return because of a forgotten tax form attachment, such as a W-2 or schedule. The IRS will normally later send a request for those to be sent separately.

4. A taxpayer normally has 3 years from the filing date of the original tax return to amend the tax return to claim a refund by filing Form 1040X . A taxpayer may file the amended return within two years from the date of paying the tax due, if that date is later than the filing date of the tax return.  Thus, generally the last day for most taxpayers to file a 2010 claim for a refund is April 15, 2014, unless a special exception applies.

5. If a taxpayer needs to amend more than one tax return, then a 1040X must be prepared for each year. Each 1040X form must be mailed in a separate envelope.  Note the tax year being amended on the top of Form 1040X.  Form 1040X’s instructions include the address where to mail the form.

6. If a taxpayer has other IRS forms or schedules that required changes, then attach them to the Form 1040X.

7. If a taxpayer is due an additional refund because of a potential amendment from the original return, then the taxpayer should wait to receive that first refund before filing Form 1040X to claim the additional refund.  Amended returns require as much as 12 weeks to process.

8. If a taxpayer ends up owing more tax, then file the Form 1040X and pay the tax as soon as possible. This will reduce any interest and penalties on that amount owing.

9. An amended tax return can be tracked three weeks after it is filed with the IRS tool: ‘Where’s My Amended Return?’ or by phone at 866-464-2050.  This tool can track the status of an amended return for the current year and up to three years back.  The ‘Where’s My Amended Return?’ tool requires a taxpayer identification number, normally the Social Security number, and the date of birth and zip code.

tax-facts-online_medium

Because of the constant changes to the tax law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. For over 110 years, National Underwriter has provided fast, clear, and authoritative answers to financial advisors pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format.

“Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

6 Tax Facts for Making Required Estimated Tax Payments To Avoid Interests and Penalties

Posted by William Byrnes on May 19, 2014


In Tax Tip 2014-49, the IRS reminds taxpayers that tax must be paid throughout the year to avoid interest and penalties, that is, tax may not only be due on April 15 for some taxpayers. For the year 2014, tax may be due also on June 16, 2014, on Sept. 15 in 2014, on Jan. 15, 2015, and of course, also on Wednesday, April 15, 2015.

Who must make estimated tax payments?

Taxpayers that do not have taxes withheld from a paycheck, or who do not have enough tax withheld during the year, may need to make additional “estimated” tax payments during the year ‘to catch up’ if normal withholding was being applied.  This is especially true for self-employed taxpayers whose income is generally are not withheld upon.  A taxpayer filing as a sole proprietor, partner in a partnership, S corporation shareholder, and/or a self-employed individual, generally needs to make estimated tax payments during the year.  If a taxpayer had a tax liability for 2013, then normally the taxpayer will need to make estimated tax payments during 2014.

A corporation will generally need to make estimated tax payments if it expects to owe tax of $500 or more when it files its corporate tax return in 2015.

Why estimated tax payments?

Through estimated tax payments, government funds its activities throughout the year, keeps tabs on what is going on with the economy (are taxpayers earning more or less income than previous years) and also ensures tax payment compliance by limiting the amount of tax actually due April 15th for the previous years.  As infamous jurist and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes is oft quoted: “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society…” (Compania General De Tabacos De Filipinas v. Collector of Internal Revenue, 275 U.S. 87, 100, dissenting; opinion (21 November 1927)).  Without estimated tax payments, many taxpayers on April 15 would find tax bills larger than the amount saved from which to pay them, be it that other personal spending priorities rise up during the year.

Tax penalty for not paying enough estimated tax?

If in 2014 a taxpayer does not pay enough estimated tax throughout the year, either through withholding or by making estimated tax payments, then a penalty for underpayment of estimated tax will be due on April 15, 2015.  Generally, most taxpayers will avoid this penalty if

EITHER owing less than $1,000 in tax after subtracting all tax withholdings by 3rd parties and after subtracting all tax credits the taxpayer claims for 2014,

OR if they paid at least 90% of the tax that turns out to be owed for 2014, or 100% of the tax shown on the return for 2013, whichever amount is smaller. 

6 tax tips for estimated taxes:

1. A Taxpayer must pay estimated taxes throughout 2014 if expecting to owe $1,000 or more when filing the federal tax return on April 15, 2015.  However, special rules apply to farmers and fishermen.

2. Estimate the amount of income expected to be received for the entire year 2014 to determine the amount of taxes that are estimated to be owed for 2014.  But also, take into account any tax deductions and credits that will be claimed.  Life changes during the year, such as a change in marital status or the birth of a child, can affect the estimated taxes owed.

3. Normally a taxpayer must make estimated tax payments four times a year. The 4 dates that apply to most people this year are April 15, 2014; June 16, 2014; and Sept. 15, 2014, then Jan. 15, 2015.

4. An estimated tax payment may be paid online or by telephone, by check or by money order, and even by credit or debit card.  If a taxpayer mails a tax payment to the IRS, then it is important to use a payment voucher that comes with Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, that the tax payment may be credited correctly.  Remember that the IRS processes hundreds of millions of tax payments and forms each year!

5. Check out the electronic payment options.  The Electronic Filing Tax Payment System is a free and easy way to make payments electronically.

6. Use Form 1040-ES and its instructions to calculate estimated taxes.

tax-facts-online_medium

Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Businessrisk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

For an indepth analysis of deductions for donations to U.S. charities (and the government’s policy encouraging or discouraging these donations), download my article at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2304044

If you are interested in discussing the Master or Doctoral degree in the areas of financial services or international taxation, please contact me: profbyrnes@gmail.com to Google Hangout or Skype that I may take you on an “online tour”

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Is Your Child Required to File a Tax Return?

Posted by William Byrnes on May 16, 2014


2014_tf_on_investments-mChildren are potential taxpayers too!  That is the message from the IRS in Tax Tip 2014-38.  A child may be required to a federal tax return, or if a child can not file his or her own return, then the parent or guardian is normally responsible for filing their tax return.

Here are 4 tax facts from the IRS that about a child’s investment income:

1. Investment income normally includes interest, dividends and capital gains. It also includes other unearned income, such as from a trust.

2. Special rules apply if a child’s total investment income is more than $2,000. The parent’s tax rate may apply to part of that income instead of the child’s (lower) tax rate.

3. If a child’s total interest and dividend income was less than $10,000 in 2013, the taxpayer may be able to include the income on the taxpayer’s tax return. If the taxpayer elects this choice, the child does not then file a return. See Form 8814, Parents’ Election to Report Child’s Interest and Dividends.

4. Children whose investment income was $10,000 or more in 2013 must file their own tax return. File Form 8615, Tax for Certain Children Who Have Investment Income, along with the child’s federal tax return.

Starting in 2013, a child whose tax is figured on Form 8615 may be subject to the Net Investment Income Tax. NIIT is a 3.8% tax on the lesser of either net investment income or the excess of the child’s modified adjusted gross income that is over a threshold amount. Use Form 8960, Net Investment Income Tax, to calculate this tax.

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How Will The Lifetime Learning Credit Help Pay My Higher Education Tuition?

Posted by William Byrnes on May 15, 2014


The IRS’ Tax Tip 2014-41 answers this question, in conjunction with its > online publication < .

The Lifetime Learning Credit is:

  • Limited to $2,000 per tax return, per year.
  • For all years of higher education, including classes for learning or improving job skills.
  • Limited to the amount of the tax due for that year.
  • For the cost of tuition and required fees, plus books, supplies and equipment.
  • The taxpayer’s school should provide a Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, showing expenses for the year.
  • File Form 8863, Education Credits, to claim these credits on the tax return.
  • The credit is subject to income limits that could reduce the credit amount.
Maximum credit Up to $2,000 credit per return
Limit on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) $127,000 if married filling jointly;
$63,000 if single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er)
Refundable or nonrefundable Nonrefundable—credit limited to the amount of tax you must pay on your taxable income
Number of years of postsecondary education Available for all years of postsecondary education and for courses to acquire or improve job skills
Number of tax years credit available Available for an unlimited number of years
Type of program required Student does not need to be pursuing a program leading to a degree or other recognized education credential
Number of courses Available for one or more courses
Felony drug conviction Felony drug convictions do not make the student ineligible
Qualified expenses Tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance (including amounts required to be paid to the institution for course-related books, supplies, and equipment)
Payments for academic periods Payments made in 2014 for academic periods beginning in 2014 or beginning in the first 3 months of 2015

 

How does a tax credit work?

A tax credit reduces the amount of income tax a taxpayer may have to pay. Unlike a deduction, which reduces the amount of income subject to tax, a credit directly reduces the tax itself. The lifetime learning credit is a nonrefundable credit. This means that it can reduce tax owed to zero, but if the credit is more than the tax owing then the excess will not be refunded.

Effect of the Amount of Your Income on the Amount of Your Credit

The amount of the lifetime learning credit is phased out (gradually reduced) if MAGI is between $53,000 and $63,000 ($107,000 and $127,000 if you file a joint return). For 2013, by example, a taxpayer cannot claim a lifetime learning credit if MAGI is $63,000 or more ($127,000 or more if a joint tax return).
   For most taxpayers, MAGI is adjusted gross income (AGI) as figured on the federal income tax return.  MAGI is the AGI on line 38 of the 1040 form, modified by adding back any:

  1. Foreign earned income exclusion,
  2. Foreign housing exclusion,
  3. Foreign housing deduction,
  4. Exclusion of income by bona fide residents of American Samoa, and
  5. Exclusion of income by bona fide residents of Puerto Rico.

For an indepth analysis of deductions for donations to U.S. charities (and the government’s policy encouraging or discouraging these donations), download my article at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2304044

If you are interested in discussing the Master or Doctoral degree in the areas of financial services or international taxation, please contact me profbyrnes@gmail.com to Google Hangout or Skype that I may take you on an “online tour” 

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

7 Tax Facts on Deducting Charitable Contributions to a Charity

Posted by William Byrnes on May 9, 2014


2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1In its Tax Tip 2014-39, the IRS disclosed that a taxpayer looking for a tax deduction may donate to a charity and create a ‘win-win’ situation.  The IRS stated that it is good for the charity and good for the taxpayer.  (subscribe by email on the left menu to these daily tax articles)

7 tax tips to know about deducting gifts to charity

1. A taxpayer must donate to a qualified charity if the taxpayer wants to deduct the gift.  Importantly, a taxpayer can not deduct gifts to individuals, political organizations or candidates.  Search the >online IRS database< for the charity.  If it is on the list, then it is qualified.

2. In order for a taxpayer to deduct contributions, the taxpayer must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions. File Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, with the federal tax return.

3. If a taxpayer receives a benefit in return for the contribution, the deduction will be limited.  A taxpayer can only deduct the amount of the gift that is more than the value of what the taxpayer received in return.  Examples of such benefits include merchandise, meals, tickets to an event or other goods and services in exchange for a donation.

4. If a taxpayer donates property instead of cash, the deduction is usually that item’s fair market value. Fair market value is generally the price the taxpayer would receive if the taxpayer sold the property on the open market.  A taxpayer must file Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, if the deduction for all noncash gifts is more than $500 for the year.

5. Used clothing and household items generally must be in good condition to be deductible. Special rules apply to >vehicle donations<.

6. A taxpayer must keep records to prove the amount of the contributions made during the year. The kind of records that must be kept depends on the amount and type of the donation. For example, a taxpayer must keep a written record of any cash donation, regardless of the amount, in order to claim a deduction.  It can be a cancelled check, a letter from the organization, or a bank or payroll statement.  It should include the name of the charity, the date and the amount donated. A cell phone bill meets this requirement for text donations if it shows this same information.

7. To claim a deduction for donated cash or property of $250 or more, a taxpayer must have a written statement from the organization. It must show the amount of the donation and a description of any property given. It must also say whether the organization provided any goods or services in exchange for the gift.

For an indepth analysis of deductions for donations to U.S. charities (and the government’s policy encouraging or discouraging these donations), download my article at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2304044

If you are interested in discussing applying for the Master or Doctoral degree in the areas of financial planning or taxation, please contact me: profbyrnes@gmail.com to Google Hangout or Skype that I may take you on an “online tour” 

 

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Do I Owe an Obama Care “Individual Shared Responsibility Payment” with my next tax return?

Posted by William Byrnes on April 30, 2014


The IRS, in its Health Care Tax Tip 2014-04, addressed the question of whether a taxpayer owes an Obama Care Tax Penalty (or “Fee” or as it is formally known an “Individual Shared Responsibility Payment”) to be paid with the 2014 tax return filed by April 15, 2015.  What ever it is referred to, being a penalty, a fee, or a payment, it is mandatory and was fairly imposed by Congress, with a supra majority Senate vote.  

So … the question is: Do I owe it?  And if so, how much do I owe? 

The short answer is that for any month in 2014 that a taxpayer or any of a taxpayer’s dependents do n0t maintain health care coverage and do not qualify for an exemption from having health care coverage, then the taxpayer will owe an “individual shared responsibility payment” with your 2014 tax return filed in 2015 (exemption is the same as exception, and in tax it is said that there is always an exception to a rule, and an exception to the exception).  

What is the “less than three-month gap” exemption / exception?

The exception is if a taxpayer went without health care coverage for less than three consecutive months during the year, then the taxpayer may qualify for the short coverage gap exemption and will not have to make a payment for those months. However, if a taxpayer has more than one short coverage gap during a year, the short coverage gap exemption only applies to the first.  So by example, the taxpayer has health care coverage January 1, 2014 until February 28, and May 1 until August 30, and then again from November 15 through December 31, 2014.  The first health care coverage gap that falls within the exception is March 1 until April 30 because it is less than three consecutive months.  The second gap in coverage is also less than three consecutive months, being September 1 through November 15 – but the exception has already been used for the year so it does not fall within it.

How much does a taxpayer owe?

If a taxpayer (or any dependents) do not maintain health care coverage and do not qualify for an exemption, then the taxpayer must make an individual shared responsibility payment with the 2014 tax return.  In general, this health care coverage penalty is either a percentage of the taxpayer’s income or a flat dollar amount, whichever is greater.  High income taxpayers will pay a higher penalty.  A taxpayer will owe 1/12th of this penalty for each month of the taxpayer or taxpayer’s dependents gap in coverage.  The annual payment amount for 2014 is the greater of:

  • one percent (1%) of the household income that is above the tax return threshold for the taxpayer’s filing status, such as Married Filing Jointly or single, or
  • a family’s flat dollar amount, which is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, limited to a maximum of $285.

This individual shared responsibility payment is capped at the cost of the national average premium for the bronze level health plan available through the Marketplace in 2014.  The taxpayer will pay the due amount with the 2014 federal income tax return filed in 2015.  For example, a single adult under age 65 with household income less than $19,650 (but more than $10,150) would pay the $95 flat rate.  However, a single adult under age 65 with household income greater than $19,650 would pay an annual payment based on the one percent rate.  

Why greater than $19,650?  The filing threshold for a single adult in 2014 is 10,150, subtract that from $19,650, leaving a base amount of $9, 500.  Multiply 1% to that base amount and the penalty is $95, the same as the flat rate.

So, from the beginning of this year (January 1, 2014) a taxpayer and the family must either have “qualifying” health insurance coverage throughout the year, qualify for an exemption from coverage, or make the above payment when filing the 2014 federal income tax return in 2015.

What qualifies as “qualifying health insurance coverage”?

Qualifying coverage includes coverage provided by an employer, health insurance purchased in the Health Insurance Marketplace, most government-sponsored coverage, and coverage purchased directly from an insurance company.  However, qualifying coverage does not include coverage that may provide limited benefits, such as coverage only for vision care or dental care, workers’ compensation, or coverage that only covers a specific disease or condition.

What are the exemptions to obtaining or maintaining required health care coverage?

A taxpayer may be exempt from the requirement to maintain qualified coverage if:

  • Have no affordable coverage options because the minimum amount a taxpayer must pay for the annual premiums is more than eight percent (8%) of household income,
  • Have a gap in coverage for less than three consecutive months (see abo0ve), or
  • Qualify for an exemption for one of several other reasons, including having a hardship that prevents the taxpayer from obtaining coverage, or belonging to a group explicitly exempt from the requirement.
  • A special hardship exemption applies to taxpayers who purchase their insurance through the Marketplace during the initial enrollment period for 2014 but due to the enrollment process have a coverage gap at the beginning of 2014.

tax-facts-online_medium

Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

 

If you are interested in discussing the Master or Doctorate degree in the areas of financial services or international taxation, please contact me https://profwilliambyrnes.com/online-tax-degree/

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

IRS Reports 131 Million Tax Returns Filed but Many Amended Returns Expected

Posted by William Byrnes on April 29, 2014


The IRS reported in its 2014-56 NewsWire that 131 million tax returns were filed by the deadline of April 15 for the tax year of 2013.  88% of these tax returns were e-filed of which 35% (almost 46 million returns) were filed by taxpayers from home computers.

But the IRS disclosed that it expects nearly 5 million of these taxpayers to file amendments to their returns by filing Form 1040X during 2014.  Generally, for a credit or refund, taxpayers must file Form 1040X within 3 years, including extensions, after the date they filed their original return or within 2 years after the date they paid the tax, whichever is later. For most people, this means that returns for tax-year 2011 or later can still be amended.

Thus far, the IRS has released 94,809,000 refunds averaging $2,686 each.  In all, the IRS has had to return almost $255 billion to taxpayers in the form of refunds of access tax withholdings.

Same Sex Couples Amending Returns

The IRS alerted same-sex couples to consider filing amended returns for past years.  A same sex couple, legally married in a state or foreign country that recognizes their marriage, is now considered married for tax purposes. This is true regardless of whether or not the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage.

For returns originally filed before Sept. 16, 2013, legally married same sex couples have the option of filing amended return to change their filing status to married filing separately or married filing jointly. But they are not required to change their filing status on a prior return, even if they amend that return for another reason. In either case, their amended return must be consistent with the filing status they have chosen.

If a taxpayer still owes tax for the year 2013, then read https://profwilliambyrnes.com/2014/04/15/4-tax-tips-if-you-cant-pay-the-full-amount-of-taxes-on-time/

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6 Tax Facts for Self-Employed Taxpayers

Posted by William Byrnes on April 23, 2014


In Tax Tip 2014-34, the IRS provided 6 tax tips for self employed taxpayers.

  1. Self-employment income includes income received for part-time work.  This is in addition to income from a regular job.
  2. A self employed taxpayer must file a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, or Schedule C-EZ, Net Profit from Business, with your Form 1040.
  3. A self employed taxpayer may have to pay self-employment tax as well as income tax if a profit was earned.  Self-employment tax includes Social Security and Medicare taxes. Use Schedule SE, Self-Employment Tax, to calculate whether any self employment tax is due.
  4. A self employed taxpayer may need to make estimated tax payments. Taxpayers typically make these payments on income that is not subject to withholding.  A taxpayer may be charged a penalty if not paying enough estimated taxes throughout the entire year.
  5. A self employed taxpayer can deduct some expenses paid to run your trade or business. A self employed taxpayer can deduct most business expenses in full, but some must be ’capitalized.’  Capitalization means that the deduction will be limited to just a portion of the expense each year over a period of years.  By example, only the first $5,000 of the “start-up” expenses for a new business of the taxpayer is potentially deductible, and not until the year in which the active trade or business begins.  All other start up expenses must be amortized over a 180-month period, beginning with the month the business starts.  Thus, start up expenses in general are only deductible over this 180 month period, and not in the year actually incurred.
  6. A self employed taxpayer can deduct business expenses only if the expenses are both ordinary and necessary.  An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in an industry.  A necessary expense is one that is helpful and proper for the trade or business.

tax-facts-online_medium

Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

“Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

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Court Approves New Planning Techniques for Investment Income Tax Trap for Trusts

Posted by William Byrnes on April 22, 2014


The Tax Court recently handed down a decision that could prove to be just the break that trusts participating in business activities need to escape liability for the new 3.8 percent tax on investment-type income (the NIIT) enacted with the ACA / ObamaCare.

Many trusts with business-related income are finally feeling the sting of the tax, which applied to all trust investment income for trusts with income in excess of a low $11,950 in 2013 ($12,150 for 2014).* The decision paves the way for new planning techniques in 2014 and beyond …

Read about the new planning techniques for the new investment tax: https://www.lifehealthpro.com/2014/04/21/court-untangles-investment-income-tax-trap-for-tru

Also see previous planning analysis at https://profwilliambyrnes.com/2014/01/02/irs-gives-high-income-taxpayers-a-break-on-new-3-8-tax/

See also: 10 things to know about how investments are taxed

* Estates and trusts are subject to the Net Investment Income Tax if they have undistributed Net Investment Income and also have adjusted gross income over the dollar amount at which the highest tax bracket for an estate or trust begins for such taxable year under section 1(e) (for tax year 2013, this threshold amount is $11,950). For 2014, the threshold amount is $12,150.

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Posted in Retirement Planning, Taxation, Wealth Management | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What are Five Tax Credits That May Reduce Your Taxes?

Posted by William Byrnes on April 16, 2014


In Tax Tip 2014-33, the IRS revealed five tax credits that may reduce a taxpayers taxes.  Some tax credits are refundable regardless of whether the taxpayer owes any tax for the year, the IRS pointed out.

1. The Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable credit for taxpayers who work but do not earn a lot of money.  For 2013, the EITC may have increased the tax refund by as much as $6,044.  

2. The Child and Dependent Care Credit can help a taxpayer offset the cost of daycare or day camp for children under age 13, and even the costs paid to care for a disabled spouse or dependent.

3. The Child Tax Credit can reduce a taxpayer’s taxes by as much as $1,000 for each qualified child claimed on the tax return.

4. The Saver’s Credit helps workers save for retirement. For 2013, a taxpayer may have qualified if income was $59,000 or less and the taxpayer contributed to an IRA or a retirement plan at work.

5. The American Opportunity Tax Credit can offset college costs. The credit is available for four years of post-secondary education. It’s worth up to $2,500 per eligible student enrolled at least half time for at least one academic period.

tax-facts-online_medium

 

 “Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.”

The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

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6 Tax Facts About Filing The Tax Return Today (April 15) and What To Do If You Can’t Pay the Full Amount of Taxes

Posted by William Byrnes on April 15, 2014


The IRS Tax Tip 2014-53 provided a series of Tax Facts of what to do if a taxpayer cannot pay the full amount of taxes owed, which I have supplemented with a couple Tax Facts from the U.S. Post Office.

1. File the Tax Return on Time to Avoid Late Filing Penalty.  File on time to avoid a late filing penalty.  By mailing or electronically filing the tax return with the postmark before or on Wednesday April 15, a taxpayer will avoid the late-filing penalty, normally 5% per month based on the unpaid balance, that applies to returns filed after the deadline.

2. Can’t File the Tax Return Today? Then File an Extension until October 15!  A taxpayer can use IRS Free File to e-file Form 4868 (PDF) Application For Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Tax Return. The extension request must be filed by midnight on April 15.  E-filed extension request will receive an IRS receipt.  A taxpayer may still mail the request for an extension Form 4868, as long at the postmark is before or on April 15.

3. Mail must be Postmarked before or on April 15!  Gone are the days that the post office accepts a 11.59 pm tax return and tax extension letter, postmarking it by midnight April 15.  Thus, the taxpayer must drop off at the post office or post office approved provider before the last pick up time of April 15 to ensure a postmark of April 15.  See https://tools.usps.com/go/POLocatorAction!input.action for the closest post office or post service drop off approved provider within a zip code.

4. Pay as Much of the Tax Due as Possible to Avoid Interest and Late Payment Penalties. In addition, any payment made with an extension request will reduce or eliminate interest and late-payment penalties that apply to payments made after April 15.  The interest rate is currently 3% per year, compounded daily, and the late-payment penalty is normally 0.5 % per month.  Pay as much as possible to reduce interest charges and a late payment penalty.

5. Use a Credit Card to Pay the Tax. The interest and fees charged by a bank or credit card company may be less than IRS interest and penalties. See credit card options

6. Use the Online Payment Agreement tool.  Ask for a payment plan before the IRS sends a bill.  The best way is to use the Online Payment Agreement tool.  File Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, with the tax return.

tax-facts-online_medium

Because of the constant changes to the tax law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. For over 110 years, National Underwriter has provided fast, clear, and authoritative answers to financial advisors pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format.

“Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Only 2 days left to file a tax return? 5 tax tips for request an extension until October 15

Posted by William Byrnes on April 13, 2014


In Tax Tip 2014-52, the IRS provided the elements of possible relief for taxpayers that now realize – only 2 days left to file a tax return.  File an extension to file the tax return instead, allowing the taxpayer 6 months breathing room until October 15, 2014, to file the return.

What a Taxpayer Should Know to Request More Time to File a Tax Return!

A taxpayer can electronically file Form 4868 (PDF), Application For Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Tax Return; and (2) pay all or part of your estimated income tax due using a credit or debit card or by using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).  However, a taxpayer can still file a paper Form 4868 by mail.  Filing this form gives taxpayers until Oct. 15 to file a return. To get the extension, taxpayers must estimate their tax liability on this form and should also pay any amount due.

By properly filing this form, a taxpayer will avoid the late-filing penalty, normally 5% per month based on the unpaid balance, that applies to returns filed after the deadline.  In addition, any payment made with an extension request will reduce or eliminate interest and late-payment penalties that apply to payments made after April 15.  The interest rate is currently 3% per year, compounded daily, and the late-payment penalty is normally 0.5 % per month.

5 tax tips for filing an extension

1. A taxpayer should file on time even if unable to pay the tax due.  If a taxpayer completes a tax return but can not pay the taxes owed, do not request an extension.  Instead, the taxpayer should file the tax return on time and pay as much as possible to reduce the amount owed.  At least the taxpayer will avoid the hefty late filing penalty, which is much higher than the penalty for not paying all of the taxes owed on time.

2. Use IRS Free File to request an extension.  A taxpayer can use IRS Free File to e-file Form 4868 (PDF) Application For Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Tax Return. The extension request must be filed by midnight on April 15.  E-filed extension request will receive an IRS receipt.

3. Mail Form 4868.  A taxpayer may still mail the request for an extension Form 4868.  The envelope must be postmarked at the post office by April 15.  The safest way to guarantee such a postmark is to bring the envelope to the post office counter during office hours.

4. Extra time to file is not extra time to pay.  An extension to file will allow six additional months to file a tax return, until Oct. 15.  However, it does not provide extra time to pay the tax due by April 15.  Thus, a taxpayer must estimate and pay the tax owed by or on April 15.  Any amount not paid by April 15 will be charged interest. Moreover, the IRS may levy a penalty for not paying the tax on time.

5. Payment Options Moreover, a taxpayer can use payment options.  Apply for a payment plan using the Online Payment Agreement tool.  Or a taxpayer can file Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, with a tax return. If a taxpayer is unable to make payments because of a financial hardship, the IRS will work on a payment plan with the taxpayer.

2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1For over 110 years, National Underwriter has provided fast, clear, and authoritative answers to financial advisors pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format.  “Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.  The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Rick Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.

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Tax Tips for U.S. Taxpayers with Foreign Income in 2013

Posted by William Byrnes on April 12, 2014


If a taxpayer is a U.S. citizen or resident, then the taxpayer must report income from all sources within and outside of the U.S.  The rules for filing income tax returns are generally the same whether the taxpayer is living in the U.S. or abroad. Here are seven tips from the IRS from Tax Tips 2014-43 that U.S. taxpayers with foreign income should know:

1. Report Worldwide Income.  By law, U.S. citizens and resident aliens must report their worldwide income. This includes income from foreign trusts, and foreign bank and securities accounts.

2. File Required Tax Forms.  The taxpayer may need to file Schedule B, Interest and Ordinary Dividends, with the U.S. tax return.  The taxpayer may also need to file Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets. In some cases, the taxpayer may need to file FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts..

3. Consider the Automatic Extension.  If a taxpayer is living abroad and can’t file a tax return by the April 15 deadline, then the taxpayer may qualify for an automatic two-month filing extension. The taxpayer then will have until June 16, 2014 to file a U.S. income tax return. This extension also applies to those serving in the military outside the U.S. The taxpayer must attach a statement to the tax return to explain why the taxpayer qualifies for the extension.

4. Review the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.  If a taxpayer lives and work abroad, then the taxpayer may be able to claim the foreign earned income exclusion. If the taxpayer qualifies, then the taxpayer will not pay tax on up to $97,600 of wages and other foreign earned income in 2013. See Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income, or Form 2555-EZ, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, for more details.

5. Don’t Overlook Credits and Deductions.  A taxpayer may be able to take avtax credit or a deduction for income taxes paid to a foreign country. These benefits can reduce the amount of taxes that the taxpayer must pay if both countries tax the same income.

You can get more on this topic in Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad.

2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

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8 Things to be Aware of for Deducting Medical and Dental Expenses for 2013 !

Posted by William Byrnes on April 11, 2014


IRS Tax Tip 2014-21 points out that if a taxpayer intends to claim a deduction for medical expenses, there are new rules that apply that may affect these deductions for 2013.  The IRS listed eight things that a taxpayer should be aware of about the medical and dental expense deduction:

1. AGI threshold increase.  Starting in 2013, the amount of allowable medical expenses must exceed 10% of adjusted gross income (AGI) to be able to claim this deduction. The threshold was 7.5% of AGI in prior years.

2. Temporary exception for age 65.  The AGI threshold is still 7.5% of AGI if the taxpayer or spouse is age 65 or older.  This exception will apply through Dec. 31, 2016.

3. Must itemize.  To claim medical and dental expenses the taxpayer must itemize deductions on the federal tax return.  Thus, if a taxpayer claims the standard deduction, then no deduction for medical expenses.

4. Paid in 2013. You can include only the expenses you paid in 2013. If you paid by check, the day you mailed or delivered the check is usually considered the date of payment.

5. Costs to include.  A taxpayer can include most medical or dental costs that paid for that taxpayer, the spouse and the dependents.  Some exceptions and special rules apply. Any costs reimbursed by insurance or other sources don’t qualify for a deduction.

6. Expenses that qualify.  The costs of diagnosing, treating, easing or preventing disease. The cost of insurance premiums for medical care, as does the cost of some long-term care insurance.  The cost of prescription drugs and insulin also qualify.  For more examples of costs you can deduct, see IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.

7. Travel costs count.  A taxpayer may be able to claim the cost of travel for medical care. This includes costs such as public transportation, ambulance service, tolls and parking fees.  For the use of a car, it may be possible to deduct either the actual costs or the standard mileage rate for medical travel. The rate is 24 cents per mile for 2013.

8. No double benefit.  A taxpayer can’t claim a tax deduction for medical and dental expenses paid with funds from a Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Arrangements. Amounts paid with funds from those plans are usually tax-free – the salary used to fund these accounts is usually not included in taxable income.

For more than half a century, Tax Facts has been an essential resource designed to meet the real-world tax-guidance needs of professionals in both the insurance and investment industries.

2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

“Our brand-new Tax Facts title is exciting in many ways,” says Rick Kravitz, Vice President & Managing Director of Summit Professional Network’s Professional Publishing Division. “First of all, it fills a huge gap in the resources available to today’s advisors. Small business is a big market, and this book enables advisors to get up-and-running right away, with proven guidance that will help them serve their clients’ needs. Secondly, it addresses the biggest questions facing all taxpayers and provides absolutely reliable answers that help advisors solve today’s biggest problems with confidence.”

tax-facts-online_mediumThe company also points out that the expert authors—Robert Bloink, Esq., LL.M., and William H. Byrnes, Esq., LL.M., CWM®—are delivering real-life guidance based on decades of experience.

The authors’ knowledge and experience in tax law and practice provides the expert guidance for National Underwriter to once again deliver a valuable resource for the financial advising community,” added Kravitz.

Anyone interested can try Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business, risk-free for 30 days, with a 100% guarantee of complete satisfaction.  For more information, please go to www.nationalunderwriter.com/TaxFactsIndividuals or call 1-800-543-0874.  Use coupon code Tax15 and Save 15%!

Posted in Taxation | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Foreign Housing Allowance for United States Government Employees – Taxable or Non-taxable?

Posted by William Byrnes on April 10, 2014


EDN PhotoThe gross income of United States citizens and resident aliens is taxable on a worldwide basis.  In most cases, compensation for personal services such as employer payments for housing expenses is fully taxable as an employee fringe benefit unless specifically excluded from taxation.  But there are exceptions to the taxation of housing allowances such as the special rules for members of the clergy or Peace Corps volunteers.

Qualified individuals may either exclude or deduct foreign housing expenses if they have incurred housing expenses while living and working aboard. Foreign housing allowances paid to United States Government employees are treated as reimbursements for actual housing expenses and, therefore, not subject to taxation.

Link to Edward Nieto’s full analysis in his article Foreign Housing Allowance for United States Government Employees – Taxable or Non-taxable? on AdvisorFYI

Edward Nieto is a U.S. Government civilian working in Germany as a business advisor.  He has over 25 years of combined military, government, and defense industry experience.  He has also worked as a VITA tax advisor in support of military and government personnel overseas.  He may be contacted at edn2000@outlook.com

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Must a taxpayer report the value of his/her employer-sponsored health insurance coverage included on the W2?

Posted by William Byrnes on April 10, 2014


In its Health Care Tax Tip 2014-09, the IRS answered the question:  Must a taxpayer report on the income tax return (form 1040) the value of his/her employer-sponsored health insurance coverage?  The employer has included the cost of the employer-sponsored health insurance coverage on an employee’s W-2, Wage and Tax Statement.  What must a taxpayer do with this information?

The Affordable Care Act requires employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan. Reporting the cost of health care coverage on the Form W-2 does not mean that the coverage is taxable. The value of the employer’s excludable contribution to health coverage continues to be excludable from an employee’s income, and it is not taxable. This reporting is for informational purposes only and will provide employees useful and comparable consumer information on the cost of their health care coverage.

Employers that provide “applicable employer-sponsored coverage” under a group health plan are subject to the reporting requirement. This includes businesses, tax-exempt organizations, and federal, state and local government entities (except with respect to plans maintained primarily for members of the military and their families). However, federally recognized Indian tribal governments are not subject to this requirement.  See Form-W-2-Reporting-of-Employer-Sponsored-Health-Coverage

Here is what the IRS stated about the amount shown on the W-2 “employer-sponsored health insurance coverage”.

  • The health care law requires certain employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan.
  • The amount of employer-sponsored health insurance coverage appears in Box 12 of the W-2, and has the code letters “DD” next to it.
  • Reporting the cost of health care coverage on the Form W-2 does not mean that the coverage is taxable or that it needs to be reported on the tax return.
  • The amount in Box 12 is only for government information collection only, and shows the payments made by the taxpayer and the employer and is not included in the amount shown in Box 1, which is the amount of taxable earnings.

Reporting on the Form W-2

The value of the health care coverage will be reported in Box 12 of the Form W-2, with Code DD to identify the amount. There is no reporting on the Form W-3 of the total of these amounts for all the employer’s employees.

In general, the amount reported should include both the portion paid by the employer and the portion paid by the employee. See the chart, below, and the questions and answers for more information.

An employer is not required to issue a Form W-2 solely to report the value of the health care coverage for retirees or other employees or former employees to whom the employer would not otherwise provide a Form W-2.

Form W-2 Reporting of Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage

Coverage Type

Form W-2, Box 12, Code DD

Report

Do Not Report

Optional

Major medical

X

Dental or vision plan not integrated into another medical or health plan

X

Dental or vision plan which gives the choice of declining or electing and paying an additional premium

X

Health Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA) funded solely by salary-reduction amounts

X

Health FSA value for the plan year in excess of employee’s cafeteria plan salary reductions for all qualified benefits

X

Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) contributions

X

Health Savings Arrangement (HSA) contributions (employer or employee)

X

Archer Medical Savings Account (Archer MSA) contributions (employer or employee)

X

Hospital indemnity or specified illness (insured or self-funded), paid on after-tax basis

X

Hospital indemnity or specified illness (insured or self-funded), paid through salary reduction (pre-tax) or by employer

X

Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) providing applicable employer-sponsored healthcare coverage

Required if employer charges a COBRA premium

Optional if employer does not charge a COBRA premium

On-site medical clinics providing applicable employer-sponsored healthcare coverage

Required if employer charges a COBRA premium

Optional if employer does not charge a COBRA premium

Wellness programs providing applicable employer-sponsored healthcare coverage

Required if employer charges a COBRA premium

Optional if employer does not charge a COBRA premium

Multi-employer plans

X

Domestic partner coverage included in gross income

X

Governmental plans providing coverage primarily for members of the military and their families

X

Federally recognized Indian tribal government plans and plans of tribally charted corporations wholly owned by a federally recognized Indian tribal government

X

Self-funded plans not subject to Federal COBRA

X

Accident or disability income

X

Long-term care

X

Liability insurance

X

Supplemental liability insurance

X

Workers’ compensation

X

Automobile medical payment insurance

X

Credit-only insurance

X

Excess reimbursement to highly compensated individual, included in gross income

X

Payment/reimbursement of health insurance premiums for 2% shareholder-employee, included in gross income

X

Other Situations

Report

Do Not Report

Optional

Employers required to file fewer than 250 Forms W-2 for the preceding calendar year (determined without application of any entity aggregation rules for related employers)

X

Forms W-2 furnished to employees who terminate before the end of a calendar year and request, in writing, a Form W-2 before the end of that year

X

Forms W-2 provided by third-party sick-pay provider to employees of other employers

X

The chart was created at the suggestion of and in collaboration with the IRS’ Information Reporting Program Advisory Committee (IRPAC). IRPAC’s members are representatives of industries responsible for providing information returns, such as Form W-2, to the IRS. IRPAC works with IRS to improve the information reporting process.

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Energy-Efficient Home Improvements Can Lower Your Taxes

Posted by William Byrnes on April 10, 2014


The IRS reported in Tax Tip 2014-47 that a taxpayer may be able to reduce taxes if making certain energy-efficient home improvements last year.

Key Tax Facts about home energy tax credits:

2014_tf_on_individuals_small_businesses-m_1Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit

  • This tax credit is 30 percent (30%) of the cost of alternative energy equipment installed on or in the home.
  • Qualified equipment includes solar hot water heaters, solar electric equipment and wind turbines.
  • There is no dollar limit on the credit for most types of property. If the credit is more than the tax owed for the year, then the  unused portion of this credit can be carried forward to next year’s tax return.
  • The home must be in the U.S BUT it does not have to be the main home.
  • This credit is available through 2016.

Non-Business Energy Property Credit no longer offered after 2013 tax return

  • This credit is worth 10 percent (10%) of the cost of certain qualified energy-saving items added to the main home last year. This includes items such as insulation, windows, doors and roofs.
  • Taxpayer may also be able to claim the credit for the actual cost of certain property. This may include items such as water heaters and heating and air conditioning systems. Each type of property has a different dollar limit.
  • This credit has a maximum lifetime limit of $500, but only $200 of this limit may be for windows.
  • Main home must be located in the U.S. to qualify for the credit.
  • Obtain a written certification from the manufacturer that their product qualifies for this tax credit. They usually post it on their website or include it with the product’s packaging. Taxpayer’s may rely on such certificate to claim the credit.
  • This credit expired at the end of 2013. You may still claim the credit on your 2013 tax return if you didn’t reach the lifetime limit in prior years.

Use Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits, to claim these credits.

For more than half a century, Tax Facts has been an essential resource designed to meet the real-world tax-guidance needs of professionals in both the insurance and investment industries.  Use coupon code: TAX15 and save 15%!

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4 Tax Facts for Trading Services With Other Persons Taxable?

Posted by William Byrnes on April 9, 2014


The IRS published Tax Tip 2014-26: Four Things You Should Know About “Barter”

“Bartering” is the trading of one product or service for another. Often there is no exchange of cash. Small businesses sometimes barter to get products or services they need.  For example, a plumber might trade plumbing work with a dentist for dental services. 

If a taxpayer trade services with another person, “bartering”, then the value of the products or the services received by the taxpayer is taxable income.

Here are four facts that the IRS has alerted taxpayers to about bartering:

1. Barter exchanges.  A barter exchange is an organized marketplace where members barter products or services. Some exchanges operate out of an office and others over the Internet. All barter exchanges are required to issue Form 1099-B, Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions. The exchange must give a copy of the form to its members who barter and file a copy with the IRS.

2. Bartering income.  Barter and trade dollars are the same as real dollars for tax purposes and must be reported on a tax return. Both parties must report as income the fair market value of the product or service each received.

3. Tax implications.  Bartering is taxable in the year it occurs. The tax rules may vary based on the type of bartering that takes place. Barterers may owe income taxes, self-employment taxes, employment taxes or excise taxes on their bartering income.

4. Reporting rules.  How you report bartering on a tax return varies. If the taxpayer has a trade or business, then normally the taxpayer reports it on Form 1040,Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business.

For more information, see the Bartering Tax Center.

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10 Tax Facts: Do You Qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit To Reduce Your Taxes?

Posted by William Byrnes on April 6, 2014


In Tax Tip 2014-37, the IRS provides ten tax tips for taxpayers that pay for the care of their child or other dependent while they’re at work.  The Child and Dependent Care Credit can reduce that cost of that child care.

10 tax facts from the IRS about this important tax credit

1. A taxpayer may qualify for the credit if the taxpayer paid someone to care for a child, dependent or spouse last year.

2. The care a taxpayer paid for must have been necessary so the taxpayer could work or look for work.  This also applies to the spouse if married and filing jointly.

3. The care must have been for ‘qualifying persons.’ A qualifying person can be a taxpayer’s child under age 13.  Qualifying persons may also be a spouse or dependent who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care. T hey must also have lived with the taxpayer for more than half the year.

4.  The taxpayer and the spouse if file jointly, must have earned income, such as wages from a job.  Special rules apply to a spouse who is a student or disabled.

5. The payments for care can not go to a spouse, the parent of your qualifying person or to someone claimed as a dependent on the taxpayer’s return. Care payments also can not go to a child under the age of 19, even if the child is not claimed as a dependent.

6. The credit is worth up to 35 percent of the qualifying costs for care, depending on a taxpayer’s income. The limit is $3,000 of the total cost for the care of one qualifying person. If the taxpayer pays for the care of two or more qualifying persons, the taxpayer can claim up to $6,000 of the costs.

7. If a taxpayer’s employer provides dependent care benefits, special rules apply.

8. A taxpayer must include the Social Security number of each qualifying person to claim the credit.

9. A taxpayer must include the name, address and identifying number of each care provider to claim the credit.  This is usually the Social Security number of an individual or the Employer Identification Number of a business.

10. To claim the credit, attach Form 2441 to the tax return.

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Due to a number of recent changes in the law, taxpayers are currently facing many questions connected to important issues such as healthcare, home office use, capital gains, investments, and whether an individual is considered an employee or a contractor. Financial advisors are continually looking for updated tax information that can help them provide the right answers to the right people at the right time. This brand-new resource provides fast, clear, and authoritative answers to pressing questions, and it does so in the convenient, timesaving, Q&A format for which Tax Facts is famous.

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