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William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Posts Tagged ‘income tax return’

Deciding Whether to Itemize Deductions or Use the Standard Deduction?

Posted by William Byrnes on February 17, 2016


Most people claim the standard deduction when they file their federal tax return, but you may be able to lower your tax bill if you itemize. You can find out which way saves you the most by figuring your taxes both ways. The IRS offers these six tips to help you choose:

 

Figure Your Itemized Deductions. Add up deductible expenses you paid during the year. These may include expenses such as:

  • Home mortgage interest
  • State and local income taxes or sales taxes (but not both)
  • Real estate and personal property taxes
  • Gifts to charities
  • Casualty or theft losses
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses
  • Unreimbursed employee business expenses

Special rules and limits apply to each type of itemized expense which may lead to less of a tax deduction than the actual expense.

Know Your Standard Deduction. If you don’t itemize, your basic standard deduction for 2015 depends on your filing status:

  • Single $6,300
  • Married Filing Jointly $12,600

If you’re 65 or older or blind, your standard deduction is higher than these amounts. If someone can claim you as a dependent, your deduction may be limited.

IRS YouTube Videos: Standard vs. Itemized DeductionsEnglish

Tax Facts Online is the premier practical, useful, actionable, and affordable reference on the taxation of insurance, employee benefits, investments, small tax-facts-online
business and individuals. This advisory service provides expert guidance on hundreds of the most frequently asked client questions concerning their most important tax issues.

Many ongoing, significant developments have affected tax law and, consequently, tax advice and strategies. Tax Facts Online is the only source that is reviewed daily and updated regularly by our expert editors.

In addition to completely current content not available anywhere else, Tax Facts Online gives you exclusive access to:

  • Robust search capabilities that enable you to locate detailed answers—fast
  • Time-saving calculators, tables and graphs
  • A copy/paste capability that speeds the production of presentations and enables you to easily incorporate Tax Facts content into your workPlus, the recent addition of current news, case studies, commentary and competitive intelligence serves our customers well as the only tax reference that a non-professional tax expert will ever need.

Tax Facts Online Core Content

Tax Facts on Insurance provides definitive answers to your clients’ most important tax-related insurance questions, while offering insightful analysis and illustrative examples. Numerous planning points direct you to the most recent and important insurance solutions.

Tax Facts on Employee Benefits provides current in-depth coverage of important client-related employee benefits questions. Employee benefits affect most everyone2015_tf_triple_combo_cover-m, and your clients must know how to deal with often complex issues and problems. Tax Facts on Employee Benefits provides the answers in a direct, concise, and practical manner.

Tax Facts on Investments provides clear, detailed answers to your difficult tax questions concerning investments. You must know what investments best suit your clients from a tax standpoint. You will discover questions that directly provide insightful answers, comparison of investment choices, as well as how investments have changed in recent years.

Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business focuses exclusively on what individuals and small buisnesses 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.

  • Charles Calello Enterprise/Group Inquiries 201-526-1259 Email Me
  • Customer Service 800-543-0874 8am – 6pm ET Monday – Thursday 8am – 5pm ET Friday Email Customer Service

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

Tax Facts about Taxable and Non-Taxable Income

Posted by William Byrnes on February 16, 2016


All income is taxable unless a law specifically says it isn’t. Here are some basic rules you should know to help you file the 2015 – 1040 tax return due April 15, 2016.

  • Taxable income.  Taxable income includes money you earn, like wages and tips. It also includes bartering, an exchange of property or services. The fair market value of property or services received is normally taxable.

Some types of income are not taxable except under certain conditions, including:

  • Life insurance.  Proceeds paid to you upon the death of an insured person are usually not taxable. However, if you redeem a life insurance policy for cash, any amount you get that is more than the cost of the policy is taxable.
  • Qualified scholarship.  In most cases, income from a scholarship is not taxable. This includes amounts used for certain costs, such as tuition and required books. On the other hand, amounts you use for room and board are taxable.
  • Other income tax refunds.  State or local income tax refunds may be taxable. You should receive a Form 1099-G from the agency that paid you. They may have sent the form by mail or electronically. Contact them to find out how to get the form. Report any taxable refund you got even if you did not receive Form 1099-G.

Here are some items that are usually not taxable:

  • Gifts and inheritances
  • Child support payments
  • Welfare benefits
  • Damage awards for physical injury or sickness
  • Cash rebates from a dealer or manufacturer for an item you buy
  • Reimbursements for qualified adoption expenses

Tax Facts Online is the premier practical, useful, actionable, and affordable reference on the taxation of insurance, employee benefits, investments, small tax-facts-online
business and individuals. This advisory service provides expert guidance on hundreds of the most frequently asked client questions concerning their most important tax issues.

Many ongoing, significant developments have affected tax law and, consequently, tax advice and strategies. Tax Facts Online is the only source that is reviewed daily and updated regularly by our expert editors.

In addition to completely current content not available anywhere else, Tax Facts Online gives you exclusive access to:

  • Robust search capabilities that enable you to locate detailed answers—fast
  • Time-saving calculators, tables and graphs
  • A copy/paste capability that speeds the production of presentations and enables you to easily incorporate Tax Facts content into your workPlus, the recent addition of current news, case studies, commentary and competitive intelligence serves our customers well as the only tax reference that a non-professional tax expert will ever need.

Tax Facts Online Core Content

Tax Facts on Insurance provides definitive answers to your clients’ most important tax-related insurance questions, while offering insightful analysis and illustrative examples. Numerous planning points direct you to the most recent and important insurance solutions.

Tax Facts on Employee Benefits provides current in-depth coverage of important client-related employee benefits questions. Employee benefits affect most everyone2015_tf_triple_combo_cover-m, and your clients must know how to deal with often complex issues and problems. Tax Facts on Employee Benefits provides the answers in a direct, concise, and practical manner.

Tax Facts on Investments provides clear, detailed answers to your difficult tax questions concerning investments. You must know what investments best suit your clients from a tax standpoint. You will discover questions that directly provide insightful answers, comparison of investment choices, as well as how investments have changed in recent years.

Tax Facts on Individuals & Small Business focuses exclusively on what individuals and small buisnesses 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.

  • Charles Calello Enterprise/Group Inquiries 201-526-1259 Email Me
  • Customer Service 800-543-0874 8am – 6pm ET Monday – Thursday 8am – 5pm ET Friday Email Customer Service

Posted in Taxation, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

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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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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