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Tax News Update and Helpful Tax Information       March 2020

Information from the Tax Office of Rex Crandell 800-464-6595 rexcrandell@astound.net  Offices in the San Francisco East Bay and Walnut Creek, California

 

 

What to Do If You Are Missing Important Tax Forms
If you are ready to file your taxes but are missing important tax forms here’s what you should do:

Form W-2
You should receive a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, from each of your employers for use in preparing your federal tax return. Employers must furnish this record of 2019 earnings and withheld taxes no later than January 31, 2020 (allow several days for delivery if mailed).

If you do not receive your Form W-2, contact your employer to find out if and when the W-2 was mailed. If it was mailed, it may have been returned to your employer because of an incorrect address. After contacting your employer, allow a reasonable amount of time for your employer to resend or to issue the W-2.

Form 1099
If you received certain types of income, you may receive a Form 1099 in addition to or instead of a W-2. Payers have until January 31 to mail these to you.

In some cases, you may obtain the information that would be on the Form 1099 from other sources. For example, your bank may put a summary of the interest paid during the year on the December or January statement for your savings or checking account. Or it may make the interest figure available through its customer service line or Web site. Some payers include cumulative figures for the year with their quarterly dividend statements.

You do not have to wait for Form 1099 to arrive provided you have the information (actual not estimated) you need to complete your tax return. You generally do not attach a 1099 series form to your return, except when you receive a Form 1099-R, Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc., that shows income tax withheld. You should, however, keep all of the 1099 forms you receive for your records.

When to Contact the IRS
If, by mid-February, you still have not received your W-2 or Form 1099-R, contact the IRS for assistance at 1-800-829-1040. When you call, have the following information handy:

the employer’s name and complete address, including zip code, and the employer’s telephone number;
the employer’s identification number (if known);
your name and address, including zip code, Social Security number, and telephone number.
Misplaced W-2
If you misplaced your W-2, contact your employer. Your employer can replace the lost form with a “reissued statement.” Be aware that your employer is allowed to charge you a fee for providing you with a new W-2.

You still must file your tax return on time even if you do not receive your Form W-2. If you cannot get a W-2 by the tax filing deadline, you may use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, but it will delay any refund due while the information is verified.

Filing an Amended Return
If you receive a corrected W-2 or 1099 after your return is filed and the information it contains does not match the income or withheld tax that you reported on your return, you must file an amended return on Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Health Insurance Forms 1095-A, 1095-B, or 1095-C
Most taxpayers will receive one or more forms relating to health care coverage they had during the previous year. If you think you should have received a form but did not get one contact the issuer of the form (the Marketplace, your coverage provider or your employer). If you are expecting to receive a Form 1095-A, you should wait to file your 2019 income tax return until you receive that form. However, it is not necessary to wait for Forms 1095-B or 1095-C in order to file.

Form 1095-A. If you enrolled in 2019 coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you should receive Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement in early 2020.

Forms 1095-B or 1095-C. If you were enrolled in other health coverage for 2019, you should receive a Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, or Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health insurance Offer and Coverage by early March.

If you have questions about your Forms W-2 or 1099 or any other tax-related materials, don’t hesitate to contact the office.

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Are Social Security Benefits Taxable?
Social Security benefits include monthly retirement, survivor, and disability benefits; they do not include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, which are not taxable.

Generally, you pay federal income taxes on your Social Security benefits only if you have other substantial income in addition to your benefits such as wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that must be reported on your tax return.

Your income and filing status affect whether you must pay taxes on your Social Security. An easy method of determining whether any of your benefits might be taxable is to add one-half of your Social Security benefits to all of your other income, including any tax-exempt interest.

If you receive Social Security benefits you should receive Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, showing the amount.
Next, compare this total to the base amounts below. If your total is more than the base amount for your filing status, then some of your benefits may be taxable. In 2018, the three base amounts are:

$25,000 – for single, head of household, qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child or married individuals filing separate returns who did not live with their spouse at any time during the year
$32,000 – for married couples filing jointly
$0 – for married persons filing separately who lived together at any time during the year
Taxpayers filing an individual federal tax return:

If your combined income (adjusted gross income + nontaxable interest + 1/2 of your Social Security benefits) is between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
If it is more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
Taxpayers filing a joint federal tax return:

If you and your spouse have a combined income ((adjusted gross income + nontaxable interest + 1/2 of your Social Security benefits) that is between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
If it is more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
Married taxpayers filing separate tax returns generally pay taxes on benefits.

State Taxes
Thirteen states tax social security income as well including Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia.

Retiring Abroad?
Retirement income is generally not taxed by other countries. As a U.S. citizen retiring abroad who receives Social Security, for instance, you may owe U.S. taxes on that income, but may not be liable for tax in the country where you’re spending your retirement years.

If Social Security is your only income, then your benefits may not be taxable, and you may not need to file a federal income tax return. However, if you receive income from other sources (either U.S. or country of retirement) as well, from a part-time job or self-employment, for example, you may have to pay U.S. taxes on some of your benefits–the same as if you were still living in the U.S.

You may also be required to report and pay taxes on any income earned in the country where you retired. Each country is different, so consult a local tax professional or one who specializes in expatriate tax services.

Even if you retire abroad, you may still owe state taxes–unless you established residency in a no-tax state before you moved overseas. Also, some states honor the provisions of U.S. tax treaties; however, some states do not. Therefore, it is prudent to consult a tax professional.
If you receive Social Security, a tax professional can help you determine if some – or all – of your benefits are taxable.

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Worker Classification: Employee vs. Contractor
If you hire someone for a long-term, full-time project or a series of projects that are likely to last for an extended period, you must pay special attention to the difference between independent contractors and employees.

Why It Matters

The Internal Revenue Service and state regulators scrutinize the distinction between employees and independent contractors because many business owners try to categorize as many of their workers as possible as independent contractors rather than as employees. They do this because independent contractors are not covered by unemployment and workers’ compensation, or by federal and state wage, hour, anti-discrimination, and labor laws. In addition, businesses do not have to pay federal payroll taxes on amounts paid to independent contractors.

If you incorrectly classify an employee as an independent contractor, you can be held liable for employment taxes for that worker, plus a penalty.

The Difference Between Employees and Independent Contractors

Independent Contractors are individuals who contract with a business to perform a specific project or set of projects. You, the payer, have the right to control or direct only the result of the work done by an independent contractor, and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result.

Sam Smith, an electrician, submitted a bid of $6,400 to a housing complex for electrical work. Per the terms of his contract, every two weeks for the next 10 weeks, he is to receive a payment of $1,280. This is not considered payment by the hour. Even if he works more or less than 400 hours to complete the work, Sam will still receive $6,400. He also performs additional electrical installations under contracts with other companies that he obtained through advertisements. Sam Smith is an independent contractor.

Labor laws vary by state. Please call if you have specific questions.
Employees provide work in an ongoing, structured basis. In general, anyone who performs services for you is your employee if you can control what will be done and how it will be done. A worker is still considered an employee even when you give them freedom of action. What matters is that you have the right to control the details of how the services are performed.

Sarah Smith is a salesperson employed on a full-time basis by Rob Robinson, an auto dealer. She works 6 days a week and is on duty in Rob’s showroom on certain assigned days and times. She appraises trade-ins, but her appraisals are subject to the sales manager’s approval. Lists of prospective customers belong to the dealer. She has to develop leads and report results to the sales manager. Because of her experience, she requires only minimal assistance in closing and financing sales and in other phases of her work. She is paid a commission and is eligible for prizes and bonuses offered by Rob. Rob also pays the cost of health insurance and group term life insurance for Sally. Sally Smith is an employee of Rob Robinson.

Independent Contractor Qualification Checklist

The IRS, workers’ compensation boards, unemployment compensation boards, federal agencies, and even courts all have slightly different definitions of what an independent contractor is though their means of categorizing workers as independent contractors are similar.

One of the most prevalent approaches used to categorize a worker as either an employee or independent contractor is the analysis created by the IRS, which considers the following:

What instructions the employer gives the worker about when, where, and how to work. The more specific the instructions and the more control exercised, the more likely the worker will be considered an employee.

What training the employer gives the worker. Independent contractors generally do not receive training from an employer.

The extent to which the worker has business expenses that are not reimbursed. Independent contractors are more likely to have unreimbursed expenses.

The extent of the worker’s investment in the worker’s own business. Independent contractors typically invest their own money in equipment or facilities.

The extent to which the worker makes services available to other employers. Independent contractors are more likely to make their services available to other employers.

How the business pays the worker. An employee is generally paid by the hour, week, or month. An independent contractor is usually paid by the job.

The extent to which the worker can make a profit or incur a loss. An independent contractor can make a profit or loss, but an employee does not.

Whether there are written contracts describing the relationship the parties intended to create. Independent contractors generally sign written contracts stating that they are independent contractors and setting forth the terms of their employment.

Whether the business provides the worker with employee benefits, such as insurance, a pension plan, vacation pay, or sick pay. Independent contractors generally do not get benefits.

The terms of the working relationship. An employee generally is employed at will (meaning the relationship can be terminated by either party at any time). An independent contractor is usually hired for a set period.

Whether the worker’s services are a key aspect of the company’s regular business. If the services are necessary for regular business activity, it is more likely that the employer has the right to direct and control the worker’s activities. The more control an employer exerts over a worker, the more likely it is that the worker will be considered an employee.
Minimize the Risk of Misclassification

If you misclassify an employee as an independent contractor, you may end up before a state taxing authority or the IRS.

Sometimes the issue comes up when a terminated worker files for unemployment benefits and it’s unclear whether the worker was an independent contractor or employee. The filing can trigger state or federal investigations that can cost many thousands of dollars to defend, even if you successfully fight the challenge.

There are ways to reduce the risk of an investigation or challenge by a state or federal authority. At a minimum, you should:

Familiarize yourself with the rules. Ignorance of the rules is not a legitimate defense. Knowledge of the rules will allow you to structure and carefully manage your relationships with your workers to minimize risk.

Document relationships with your workers and vendors. Although it won’t always save you, it helps to have a written contract stating the terms of employment.

Questions about how to classify workers? Don’t hesitate to call the office and speak to a tax professional who can assist you.

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It’s Not Too Late to Make an IRA Contribution
If you haven’t contributed funds to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) for tax year 2019, or if you’ve put in less than the maximum allowed, you still have time to do so. You can contribute to either a traditional or Roth IRA until the April 15th due date, not including extensions.

Be sure to tell the IRA trustee that the contribution is for 2019. Otherwise, the trustee may report the contribution as being for 2020 when they get your funds.

Generally, you can contribute up to $6,000 of your earnings for tax year 2019 (up to $7,000 if you are age 50 or older in 2019). You can fund a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA (if you qualify), or both, but your total contributions cannot be more than these amounts.

Traditional IRA: You may be able to take a tax deduction for the contributions to a traditional IRA, depending on your income and whether you or your spouse, if filing jointly, are covered by an employer’s pension plan.

Roth IRA: You cannot deduct Roth IRA contributions, but the earnings on a Roth IRA may be tax-free if you meet the conditions for a qualified distribution.

Each year, the IRS announces the cost of living adjustments and limitations for retirement savings plans.

Saving for retirement should be part of everyone’s financial plan and it’s important to review your retirement goals every year in order to maximize savings. If you need help with your retirement plans, give the office a call.

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New Rules for Depreciation and Expensing
As part of final guidance issued that pertains to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, new rules and limitations are in effect for taxpayers who deduct depreciation for qualified property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017, and, as a business owner, they could affect your tax situation. Let’s take a closer look:

Businesses can immediately expense more under the new law
A taxpayer may elect to expense the cost of any section 179 property and deduct it in the year the property is placed in service. These changes apply to property placed in service in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017.

As a reminder, the new law increased the maximum deduction from $500,000 to $1 million. It also increased the phase-out threshold from $2 million to $2.5 million. For taxable years beginning after 2018, these amounts of $1 million and $2.5 million will be adjusted for inflation. As such, for tax year 2019, the Section 179 expense deduction increases to a maximum deduction of $1,020,000 of the first $2,550,000 of qualifying equipment placed in service during the current tax year. For 2020, the maximum deduction is $1,040,000 and $2,590,000, respectively.

The new law also expands the definition of section 179 property to allow the taxpayer to elect to include the following improvements made to nonresidential real property after the date when the property was first placed in service:

Qualified improvement property, which means any improvement to a building’s interior.
Improvements do not qualify if they are attributable to the enlargement of the building, any elevator or escalator or the internal structural framework of the building.
Roofs, HVAC, fire protection systems, alarm systems and security systems.
Temporary 100 percent expensing for certain business assets
The new law increases the bonus depreciation percentage from 50 percent to 100 percent for qualified property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017, and before January 1, 2023, and is sometimes referred to as the first-year bonus depreciation.

As a reminder, the bonus depreciation percentage for qualified property that a taxpayer acquired before September 28, 2017, and placed in service before January 1, 2018, remains at 50 percent. Special rules apply for longer production period property and certain aircraft.

The definition of property eligible for 100 percent bonus depreciation was expanded to include used qualified property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017, if all the following factors apply:

The taxpayer or its predecessor didn’t use the property at any time before acquiring it.
The taxpayer didn’t acquire the property from a related party.
The taxpayer didn’t acquire the property from a component member of a controlled group of corporations.
The taxpayer’s basis of the used property is not figured in whole or in part by reference to the adjusted basis of the property in the hands of the seller or transferor.
The taxpayer’s basis of the used property is not figured under the provision for deciding basis of property acquired from a decedent.
Also, the cost of the used property eligible for bonus depreciation doesn’t include the basis of property determined by reference to the basis of other property held at any time by the taxpayer (for example, in a like-kind exchange or involuntary conversion).
Furthermore, qualified film, television, and live theatrical productions also qualify as qualified property that may be eligible for 100 percent bonus depreciation. This provision applies to property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017.

Certain types of property, however, are not eligible for bonus depreciation in any taxable year beginning after December 31, 2017. One such exclusion from qualified property is for property primarily used in the trade or business of the furnishing or sale of the following:

Electrical energy, water or sewage disposal services,
Gas or steam through a local distribution system or
Transportation of gas or steam by pipeline.
This exclusion applies if the rates for the furnishing or sale have to be approved by a federal, state or local government agency, a public service or public utility commission, or an electric cooperative.

The new law also adds an exclusion for any property used in a trade or business that has had floor-plan financing indebtedness if the floor-plan financing interest was taken into account under section 163(j)(1)(C). Floor-plan financing indebtedness is secured by motor vehicle inventory that in a business that sells or leases motor vehicles to retail customers.

The new law eliminated qualified improvement property acquired and placed in service after December 31, 2017, as a specific category of qualified property.

Depreciation limitations on luxury automobiles and personal use property
Depreciation limits for passenger vehicles placed in service after December 31, 2017, have also changed. If the taxpayer doesn’t claim bonus depreciation, the greatest allowable depreciation deduction is:

$10,000 for the first year,
$16,000 for the second year,
$9,600 for the third year, and
$5,760 for each later taxable year in the recovery period.
If a taxpayer claims 100 percent bonus depreciation, the greatest allowable depreciation deduction is:

$18,000 for the first year,
$16,000 for the second year,
$9,600 for the third year, and
$5,760 for each later taxable year in the recovery period.
Computers or peripheral equipment have been removed from the definition of listed property. This change applies to property placed in service after December 31, 2017.
Treatment of certain farm property
The new law shortens the recovery period for machinery and equipment used in a farming business from seven to five years. This shorter recovery period, however, doesn’t apply to grain bins, cotton ginning assets, fences or other land improvements. The original use of the property must occur after December 31, 2017. This recovery period is effective for eligible property placed in service after December 31, 2017.

Also, property used in a farming business and placed in service after December 31, 2017, is not required to use the 150 percent declining balance method. However, if the property is 15-year or 20-year property, the taxpayer should continue to use the 150 percent declining balance method.

Applicable recovery period for real property
The new law keeps the general recovery periods of 39 years for nonresidential real property and 27.5 years for residential rental property. The new law changes the alternative depreciation system recovery period for residential rental property from 40 years to 30 years.

Qualified leasehold improvement property, qualified restaurant property and qualified retail improvement property are no longer separately defined and no longer have a 15-year recovery period under the new law. These changes affect property placed in service after December 31, 2017.

Under the new law, a real property trade or business electing out of the interest deduction limit must use the alternative depreciation system to depreciate any of its nonresidential real property, residential rental property, and qualified improvement property. This change applies to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017.

Alternative depreciation system for farming businesses
Farming businesses that elect out of the interest deduction limit must use the alternative depreciation system to depreciate any property with a recovery period of 10 years or more, such as single-purpose agricultural or horticultural structures, trees or vines bearing fruit or nuts, farm buildings, and certain land improvements. This provision applies to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017.

Questions?
Tax law can be confusing. If you’re a small to medium-sized business owner with questions about depreciation and expensing, help is just a phone call away.

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Home Equity Loan Interest Still Deductible
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has resulted in questions from taxpayers about many tax provisions including whether interest paid on home equity loans is still deductible. The good news is that despite newly enacted restrictions on home mortgages, taxpayers can often still deduct interest on a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC) or second mortgage, regardless of how the loan is labeled.

Background

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, enacted December 22, 2017, suspends the deduction for interest paid on home equity loans and lines of credit unless they are used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan. This suspension is in effect from 2018 through 2025.

Under the new law, for example, interest on a home equity loan used to build an addition to an existing home is typically deductible, while interest on the same loan used to pay personal living expenses, such as credit card debts, is not. As under prior law, the loan must be secured by the taxpayer’s main home or second home (known as a qualified residence), not exceed the cost of the home and meet other requirements.

New dollar limit on total qualified residence loan balance

For anyone considering taking out a mortgage, the new law imposes a lower dollar limit on mortgages qualifying for the home mortgage interest deduction. Beginning in 2018, taxpayers may only deduct interest on $750,000 of qualified residence loans. The limit is $375,000 for a married taxpayer filing a separate return. These are down from the prior limits of $1 million, or $500,000 for a married taxpayer filing a separate return. The limits apply to the combined amount of loans used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s main home and second home.

For more information about deducting interest on home equity loans or the new tax law, please call.

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Tax Treatment of State and Local Tax Refunds
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), enacted in December 2017, limited the itemized deduction for state and local taxes to $5,000 for a married person filing a separate return and $10,000 for all other tax filers. The limit applies to tax years 2018 to 2025.

As in prior years, if a taxpayer chose the standard deduction then state and local tax refunds are not subject to tax. However, if a taxpayer itemizes deductions for that year on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, part or all of the refund may be subject to tax – but only to the extent that the taxpayer received a tax benefit from the deduction.

Taxpayers who are impacted by the SALT limit may not be required to include the entire state or local tax refund in income in the following year. As a reminder, state or local tax refunds received in 2018 that were reported on 2018 tax returns are not affected.

How much to include is figured by determining the amount the taxpayer would have deducted had the taxpayer only paid the actual state and local tax liability – that is, no refund and no balance due.

Here’s an example:

A single taxpayer itemizes on Schedule A and claims deductions totaling $15,000 on their 2018 federal tax return. Of that amount, $12,000 is for state and local taxes, $7,000 of which is for state and local income taxes. The SALT deduction is limited to $10,000, however.

In 2019, the taxpayer received a refund of $750 for state income tax paid in 2018. This means that the actual state income liability for 2018 was $6,250 ($7,000 paid minus the $750 refund). As such, the taxpayer’s SALT deduction for 2018 would still have been $10,000 even if it had been figured on the actual state and local tax paid.

Because there was no tax benefit received on their 2018 tax return from the overpayment of state income tax the taxpayer is not required to include the state income tax refund received in 2019 on their 2019 tax return.

If you have any questions about the tax treatment of state and local tax refunds, help is just a phone call away.

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Form 8962: Reconciling the Premium Tax Credit
Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit, reconciles 2019 advance payments of the premium tax credit and may also affect a taxpayer’s ability to get advance payments of the premium tax credit or cost-sharing reductions. Taxpayers who don’t file and reconcile their 2019 advance credit payments may not be eligible for advance payments of the premium tax credit in the future. Furthermore, filing Form 8962, with a return avoids possible delays in processing tax returns and subsequent delays in receiving tax refunds.

Background

The premium tax credit helps pay for health insurance coverage bought from the Health Insurance Marketplace. When the taxpayer or their family member applies for coverage, the marketplace estimates the amount of the premium tax credit they may be able to claim. This estimate is based on information the taxpayer provides about family size and projected household income. The taxpayer can then decide if they want to have all, some, or none of the credit paid directly to their insurance company. This option will lower their monthly payments.

Who needs to file Form 8962?

Taxpayers who have advance credit payments made on their behalf are required to file Form 8962 with their income tax return. This will reconcile the amount of advance payments with the premium tax credit they may claim based on their actual household income and family size.

Reconciling advance credit payments

Taxpayers or members of their family who enrolled in health insurance coverage for 2019 through the marketplace should receive Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement. This form shows the months of coverage and amount of any Advanced Premium Tax Credit (APTC) paid to the taxpayer’s insurance company. This form also provides information needed to complete Form 8962.

Taxpayers should figure their premium tax credit and compare it to the amount of APTC on Form 8962, then file Form 8962 with their tax return.

Taxpayers who received advance credit payments must file a tax return to reconcile even if they otherwise don’t have to file.
Please call the office if you have any questions about this or any other topic affecting your tax return.

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New Tax Law Affects Tax-Exempt Organizations
The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act, passed on December 20, 2019, includes several provisions that may apply to tax-exempt organizations’ current and previous tax years. As such, tax-exempt organizations should understand how these recent tax law changes might affect them. With this in mind, let’s take a look at three key pieces of legislation that affect nonprofit organizations:

1. Repeal of “parking lot tax” on exempt employers

This legislation retroactively repealed the increase in unrelated business taxable income by amounts paid or incurred for certain fringe benefits for which a deduction is not allowed, most notably qualified transportation fringes such as employer-provided parking. Previously, Congress had enacted this provision as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, effective for amounts paid or incurred after December 31, 2017.

Tax-exempt organizations that paid unrelated business income tax on expenses for qualified transportation fringe benefits, including employee parking, may claim a refund. To do so, they should file an amended Form 990-T within the time allowed for refunds.

2. Tax simplification for private foundations

The legislation reduced the 2% excise tax on net investment income of private foundations to 1.39%. At the same time, the legislation repealed the 1% special rate that applied if the private foundation met certain distribution requirements. The changes are effective for taxable years beginning after December 20, 2019.

3. Exclusion of certain government grants by exempt utility co-ops

Generally, a section 501(c)(12) organization must receive 85% or more of its income from members to maintain exemption.

Under changes enacted as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, government grants are usually considered income and would otherwise be treated as non-member income for telephone and electric cooperatives. Under prior law, government grants were generally not treated as income, but as contributions to capital.

Certain government grants made to tax-exempt 501(c)(12) telephone or electric cooperatives for purposes of disaster relief, or for utility facilities or services, are not considered when applying the 85%-member income test. Since these government grants are excluded from the income test, exempt telephone or electric co-ops may accept these grants without the grant impacting their tax-exemption. The 2019 legislation is retroactive to taxable years beginning after 2017.

Questions?

Help is just a phone call away.

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Reporting Tip Income: The Basics
The short answer is yes, tips are taxable. If you work at a hair salon, barbershop, casino, golf course, hotel, or restaurant, or drive a taxicab, then the tip income you receive as an employee from those services is taxable income. Here are a few other tips about tips:

Taxable income. Tips are subject to federal income and Social Security and Medicare taxes, and they may be subject to state income tax as well. The value of noncash tips, such as tickets, passes, or other items of value, is also income and subject to federal income tax.

Include tips on your tax return. In your gross income, you must include all cash tips you receive directly from customers, tips added to credit cards, and your share of any tips you receive under a tip-splitting arrangement with fellow employees.

Report tips to your employer. If you receive $20 or more in tips in any one month, you should report all your tips to your employer. Your employer is required to withhold federal income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes.

Keep a daily log of your tip income. Be sure to keep track of your tip income throughout the year. If you’d like a copy of the IRS form that helps you record it, please call.

Tips can be tricky. Don’t hesitate to contact the office if you have questions.

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Tax Due Dates for March 2020
March 2
Farmers and Fishermen – File your 2019 income tax return (Form 1040) and pay any tax due. However, you have until April 15 to file if you paid your 2019 estimated tax by January 15, 2020.

Health Coverage Reporting – If you are an Applicable Large Employer, provide Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage, to full-time employees. For all other providers of minimum essential coverage, provide Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, to responsible individuals.

Large Food and Beverage Establishment Employers – with employees who work for tips. File Form 8027, Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips. Use Form 8027-T, Transmittal of Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips, to summarize and transmit Forms 8027 if you have more than one establishment. If you file Forms 8027 electronically your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31.

March 10
Employees who work for tips – If you received $20 or more in tips during February, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

March 16
Employers – Nonpayroll withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in February.

Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in February.

Partnerships – File a 2019 calendar year income tax return (Form 1065). Provide each partner with a copy of their Schedule K-1 (Form 1065-B) or substitute Schedule K-1. To request an automatic 6-month extension of time to file the return, file Form 7004. Then file the return and provide each partner with a copy of their final or amended (if required) Schedule K­1 (Form 1065) by September 15.

S Corporations – File a 2019 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120S) and pay any tax due. Provide each shareholder with a copy of Schedule K-1 (Form 1120S), Shareholder’s Share of Income, Credits, Deductions, etc., or a substitute Schedule K-1. If you want an automatic 6-month extension of time to file the return, file Form 7004 and deposit what you estimate you owe in tax.

S Corporation Election – File Form 2553, Election by a Small Business Corporation, to choose to be treated as an S corporation beginning with calendar year 2020. If Form 2553 is filed late, S corporation treatment will begin with calendar year 2021.

March 31
Electronic Filing of Forms – File Forms 1097, 1098, 1099 (except Form 1099-MISC), 3921, 3922, and W-2G with the IRS. This due date applies only if you file electronically. The due date for giving the recipient these forms generally remains January 31.

Electronic Filing of Form W-2G – File copies of all the Form W-2G (Certain Gambling Winnings) you issued for 2019. This due date applies only if you electronically file. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains January 31.

Electronic Filing of Forms 8027 – File copies of all the Forms 8027 you issued for 2019. This due date applies only if you electronically file.

Electronic Filing of Forms 1094-C and 1095-C and Forms 1094-B and 1095-B – If you’re an Applicable Large Employer, file electronic forms 1094-C and 1095-C with the IRS. For all other providers of minimum essential coverage, file electronic Forms 1094-B and 1095-B with the IRS.

Disclaimer:    Any accounting, business or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.

Copyright © 2020 All materials contained in this document are protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. All other trade names, trademarks, registeredtrademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.

Rex Crandell Firm
3000 Citrus Circle, #207
Walnut Creek, CA, 94598
Phone: (925) 934-6320
RexCrandell@astound.net
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Actualización de noticias fiscales e información útil sobre impuestos Marzo 2020

Información de la Oficina de Impuestos de Rex Crandell 800-464-6595 rexcrandell@astound.net Oficinas en San Francisco East Bay y Walnut Creek, California

Qué hacer si no tiene formularios fiscales importantes
Si está listo para presentar sus impuestos pero le faltan formularios importantes de impuestos, esto es lo que debe hacer:

Formulario W-2
Debe recibir un Formulario W-2, Declaración de salarios e impuestos, de cada uno de sus empleadores para utilizarlo en la preparación de su declaración de impuestos federales. Los empleadores deben presentar este registro de las ganancias de 2019 y los impuestos retenidos a más tardar el 31 de enero de 2020 (espere varios días para la entrega si se envía por correo).

Si no recibe su Formulario W-2, comuníquese con su empleador para averiguar si se envió el W-2 y cuándo. Si se envió por correo, puede haber sido devuelto a su empleador debido a una dirección incorrecta. Después de contactar a su empleador, permita un tiempo razonable para que su empleador reenvíe o emita el W-2.

Formulario 1099
Si recibió ciertos tipos de ingresos, puede recibir un Formulario 1099 además de o en lugar de un W-2. Los pagadores tienen hasta el 31 de enero para enviárselos.

En algunos casos, puede obtener la información que estaría en el Formulario 1099 de otras fuentes. Por ejemplo, su banco puede incluir un resumen de los intereses pagados durante el año en el estado de cuenta de diciembre o enero de su cuenta corriente o de ahorros. O puede hacer que la cifra de interés esté disponible a través de su línea de servicio al cliente o sitio web. Algunos pagadores incluyen cifras acumuladas del año con sus declaraciones de dividendos trimestrales.

No tiene que esperar a que llegue el Formulario 1099 siempre que tenga la información (real, no estimada) que necesita para completar su declaración de impuestos. Por lo general, no adjunta un formulario de la serie 1099 a su declaración, excepto cuando recibe un Formulario 1099-R, Distribuciones de pensiones, anualidades, planes de jubilación o participación en las ganancias, IRA, contratos de seguro, etc., que muestra el impuesto sobre la renta retenido. Sin embargo, debe conservar todos los formularios 1099 que recibe para sus registros.

Cuándo contactar al IRS
Si, a mediados de febrero, aún no ha recibido su W-2 o el Formulario 1099-R, comuníquese con el IRS para obtener ayuda al 1-800-829-1040. Cuando llame, tenga a mano la siguiente información:

el nombre y la dirección completa del empleador, incluido el código postal, y el número de teléfono del empleador;
el número de identificación del empleador (si se conoce);
su nombre y dirección, incluyendo código postal, número de Seguro Social y número de teléfono.
Fuera de lugar W-2
Si extravió su W-2, comuníquese con su empleador. Su empleador puede reemplazar el formulario perdido con una “declaración reemitida”. Tenga en cuenta que su empleador puede cobrarle una tarifa por proporcionarle un nuevo W-2.

Aún debe presentar su declaración de impuestos a tiempo, incluso si no recibe su Formulario W-2. Si no puede obtener un W-2 antes de la fecha límite de presentación de impuestos, puede usar el Formulario 4852, Sustituto del Formulario W-2, Declaración de salarios e impuestos, pero retrasará cualquier reembolso debido mientras se verifica la información.

Presentando un Retorno Enmendado
Si recibe un formulario W-2 o 1099 corregido después de que se presenta su declaración y la información que contiene no coincide con el ingreso o el impuesto retenido que informó en su declaración, debe presentar una declaración enmendada en el Formulario 1040X, Impuesto sobre la renta individual enmendado de EE. UU. Regreso.

Formularios de seguro de salud 1095-A, 1095-B o 1095-C
La mayoría de los contribuyentes recibirán uno o más formularios relacionados con la cobertura de atención médica que tuvieron durante el año anterior. Si cree que debería haber recibido un formulario pero no recibió uno, comuníquese con el emisor del formulario (el Mercado, su proveedor de cobertura o su empleador). Si espera recibir un Formulario 1095-A, debe esperar para presentar su declaración de impuestos de 2019 hasta que reciba ese formulario. Sin embargo, no es necesario esperar los Formularios 1095-B o 1095-C para presentar.

Formulario 1095-A. Si se inscribió en la cobertura de 2019 a través del Mercado de seguros de salud, debe recibir el Formulario 1095-A, Declaración del mercado de seguros de salud a principios de 2020.

Formas 1095-B o 1095-C. Si estaba inscrito en otra cobertura de salud para 2019, debe recibir un Formulario 1095-B, Cobertura de salud, o el Formulario 1095-C, Oferta y cobertura de seguro de salud proporcionado por el empleador a principios de marzo.

Si tiene preguntas sobre sus Formularios W-2 o 1099 o cualquier otro material relacionado con los impuestos, no dude en comunicarse con la oficina.

Ve arriba

¿Son gravables los beneficios de la seguridad social?
Los beneficios del Seguro Social incluyen los beneficios mensuales de jubilación, supervivencia y discapacidad; no incluyen los pagos de Seguridad de Ingreso Suplementario (SSI), que no están sujetos a impuestos.

En general, usted paga impuestos federales sobre la renta de sus beneficios del Seguro Social solo si tiene otros ingresos sustanciales además de sus beneficios, como salarios, trabajo por cuenta propia, intereses, dividendos y otros ingresos imponibles que deben declararse en su declaración de impuestos.

Sus ingresos y estado civil dependen de si debe pagar impuestos sobre su Seguridad Social. Un método sencillo para determinar si alguno de sus beneficios podría estar sujeto a impuestos es agregar la mitad de

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Tax News Update und hilfreiche Steuerinformationen März 2020

Informationen vom Finanzamt von Rex Crandell 800-464-6595 rexcrandell@astound.net Büros in der San Francisco East Bay und in Walnut Creek, Kalifornien

Was tun, wenn wichtige Steuerformulare fehlen?
Wenn Sie bereit sind, Ihre Steuern einzureichen, aber wichtige Steuerformulare fehlen, sollten Sie Folgendes tun:

Form W-2
Sie sollten von jedem Ihrer Arbeitgeber ein Formular W-2, eine Lohn- und Steuererklärung zur Erstellung Ihrer Bundessteuererklärung erhalten. Die Arbeitgeber müssen diese Aufzeichnung des Einkommens 2019 und der einbehaltenen Steuern bis spätestens 31. Januar 2020 vorlegen (bei Versand mehrere Tage Lieferzeit einplanen).

Wenn Sie Ihr Formular W-2 nicht erhalten, wenden Sie sich an Ihren Arbeitgeber, um herauszufinden, ob und wann das W-2 verschickt wurde. Wenn es per Post verschickt wurde, wurde es möglicherweise aufgrund einer falschen Adresse an Ihren Arbeitgeber zurückgesandt. Geben Sie Ihrem Arbeitgeber nach der Kontaktaufnahme mit Ihrem Arbeitgeber eine angemessene Zeit, um den W-2 erneut zu senden oder auszustellen.

Formular 1099
Wenn Sie bestimmte Einkommensarten erhalten haben, erhalten Sie möglicherweise zusätzlich zu oder anstelle eines W-2 ein Formular 1099. Die Zahler haben bis zum 31. Januar Zeit, diese an Sie zu senden.

In einigen Fällen erhalten Sie die Informationen auf dem Formular 1099 möglicherweise aus anderen Quellen. Beispielsweise kann Ihre Bank eine Zusammenfassung der im Laufe des Jahres gezahlten Zinsen auf den Dezember- oder Januar-Kontoauszug für Ihr Spar- oder Girokonto setzen. Oder es stellt die Zinszahl über die Kundendienstlinie oder die Website zur Verfügung. Einige Zahler geben in ihren vierteljährlichen Dividendenauszügen kumulierte Zahlen für das Jahr an.

Sie müssen nicht auf das Eintreffen des Formulars 1099 warten, vorausgesetzt, Sie verfügen über die Informationen (tatsächlich nicht geschätzt), die Sie zum Ausfüllen Ihrer Steuererklärung benötigen. Im Allgemeinen fügen Sie Ihrer Rücksendung kein Formular der Serie 1099 bei, es sei denn, Sie erhalten ein Formular 1099-R, Ausschüttungen aus Pensionen, Renten, Alters- oder Gewinnbeteiligungsplänen, IRAs, Versicherungsverträgen usw., in dem die einbehaltene Einkommensteuer angegeben ist. Sie sollten jedoch alle 1099 Formulare, die Sie für Ihre Unterlagen erhalten, aufbewahren.

Wann Sie das IRS kontaktieren sollten
Wenn Sie bis Mitte Februar immer noch kein W-2 oder Formular 1099-R erhalten haben, wenden Sie sich unter 1-800-829-1040 an das IRS. Halten Sie beim Anruf folgende Informationen bereit:

Name und vollständige Adresse des Arbeitgebers, einschließlich Postleitzahl, und Telefonnummer des Arbeitgebers;
die Identifikationsnummer des Arbeitgebers (falls bekannt);
Ihren Namen und Ihre Adresse, einschließlich Postleitzahl, Sozialversicherungsnummer und Telefonnummer.
Verlegte W-2
Wenn Sie Ihren W-2 verlegt haben, wenden Sie sich an Ihren Arbeitgeber. Ihr Arbeitgeber kann das verlorene Formular durch eine “neu ausgestellte Erklärung” ersetzen. Beachten Sie, dass Ihr Arbeitgeber Ihnen eine Gebühr für die Bereitstellung eines neuen W-2 berechnen darf.

Sie müssen Ihre Steuererklärung auch dann rechtzeitig einreichen, wenn Sie Ihr Formular W-2 nicht erhalten. Wenn Sie bis zum Anmeldeschluss kein W-2 erhalten können, können Sie das Formular 4852 (Ersatz für das Formular W-2, Lohn- und Steuererklärung) verwenden. Die Rückerstattung wird jedoch verzögert, während die Informationen überprüft werden.

Einreichung einer geänderten Rückgabe
Wenn Sie nach Einreichung Ihrer Steuererklärung eine korrigierte W-2 oder 1099 erhalten und die darin enthaltenen Informationen nicht mit dem Einkommen oder der einbehaltenen Steuer übereinstimmen, die Sie bei Ihrer Steuererklärung gemeldet haben, müssen Sie eine geänderte Steuererklärung auf dem Formular 1040X (Geänderte US-Einkommensteuer) einreichen Rückkehr.

Krankenversicherungsformulare 1095-A, 1095-B oder 1095-C
Die meisten Steuerzahler erhalten ein oder mehrere Formulare für die Krankenversicherung, die sie im Vorjahr hatten. Wenn Sie der Meinung sind, dass Sie ein Formular hätten erhalten sollen, aber keinen erhalten haben, wenden Sie sich an den Aussteller des Formulars (den Marktplatz, Ihren Versicherungsanbieter oder Ihren Arbeitgeber). Wenn Sie ein Formular 1095-A erwarten, sollten Sie warten, bis Sie dieses Formular erhalten, um Ihre Einkommensteuererklärung für 2019 einzureichen. Es ist jedoch nicht erforderlich, auf Formulare 1095-B oder 1095-C zu warten, um die Datei einzureichen.

Formular 1095-A. Wenn Sie sich 2019 über den Krankenversicherungsmarkt angemeldet haben, sollten Sie Anfang 2020 das Formular 1095-A, Erklärung zum Krankenversicherungsmarkt, erhalten.

Bildet 1095-B oder 1095-C. Wenn Sie für 2019 in eine andere Krankenversicherung aufgenommen wurden, sollten Sie bis Anfang März ein Formular 1095-B (Krankenversicherung) oder ein Formular 1095-C (Angebot und Krankenversicherung des Arbeitgebers) erhalten.

Wenn Sie Fragen zu Ihren Formularen W-2 oder 1099 oder anderen steuerlichen Materialien haben, wenden Sie sich bitte an das Büro.

Zur Spitze gehen

Sind Sozialversicherungsleistungen steuerpflichtig?
Die Sozialversicherungsleistungen umfassen monatliche Alters-, Hinterbliebenen- und Invalidenleistungen. Sie enthalten keine SSI-Zahlungen (Supplemental Security Income), die nicht steuerpflichtig sind.

Im Allgemeinen zahlen Sie auf Ihre Sozialversicherungsleistungen nur dann Bundeseinkommenssteuern, wenn Sie zusätzlich zu Ihren Leistungen wie Löhnen, Selbstständigkeit, Zinsen, Dividenden und anderen steuerpflichtigen Einkünften, die in Ihrer Steuererklärung ausgewiesen werden müssen, über ein anderes erhebliches Einkommen verfügen.

Ihr Einkommen und Ihr Anmeldestatus beeinflussen, ob Sie Steuern auf Ihre Sozialversicherung zahlen müssen. Eine einfache Methode, um festzustellen, ob eine Ihrer Leistungen steuerpflichtig ist, besteht darin, die Hälfte o hinzuzufügen

Click the following link and a fillable Adobe Acrobat PDF file will open for your use.  It is suggested that you save the file to your individual computer before entering and data in the fillable data fields.

CLIENT TAX ORGANIZER from hcc rlc 12 19 19~FILLABLE FOR WEBSITE USE

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Individual Taxpayers: Recap for 2019

As we close out the year and get ready for tax season, here’s what individuals and families need to know about tax provisions for 2019.

Personal Exemptions
Personal exemptions are eliminated for tax years 2018 through 2025.

Standard Deductions
The standard deduction for married couples filing a joint return in 2019 is $24,400. For singles and married individuals filing separately, it is $12,200, and for heads of household, the deduction is $18,350.

The additional standard deduction for blind people and senior citizens in 2019 is $1,300 for married individuals and $1,650 for singles and heads of household.

Income Tax Rates
In 2019 the top tax rate of 37 percent affects individuals whose income exceeds $510,300 ($612,350 for married taxpayers filing a joint return). Marginal tax rates for 2019 are as follows: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%. As a reminder, while the tax rate structure remained similar to prior years under tax reform (i.e., with seven tax brackets), the tax-bracket thresholds increased significantly for each filing status.

Estate and Gift Taxes
In 2019 there is an exemption of $11.40 million per individual for estate, gift, and generation-skipping taxes, with a top tax rate of 40 percent. The annual exclusion for gifts is $15,000.

Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
For 2019, exemption amounts increased to $71,700 for single and head of household filers, $111,700 for married people filing jointly and for qualifying widows or widowers, and $55,850 for married taxpayers filing separately.

Pease and PEP (Personal Exemption Phaseout)
Both Pease (limitations on itemized deductions) and PEP (personal exemption phase-out) have been eliminated under TCJA.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is limited to $2,700 per year in 2019 (up from $2,650 in 2018) and applies only to salary reduction contributions under a health FSA. The term “taxable year” as it applies to FSAs refers to the plan year of the cafeteria plan, which is typically the period during which salary reduction elections are made.

Long-Term Capital Gains
In 2019 tax rates on capital gains and dividends remain the same as 2018 rates (0%, 15%, and a top rate of 20%); however, taxpayers should be reminded that threshold amounts don’t correspond to the tax bracket rate structure as they have in the past. For example, taxpayers whose income is below $39,375 for single filers and $78,750 for married filing jointly pay 0% capital gains tax. For individuals whose income is at or above $434,550 ($488,850 married filing jointly), the rate for both capital gains and dividends is capped at 20 percent.

Miscellaneous Deductions
Miscellaneous deductions that exceed 2 percent of AGI (adjusted gross income) are eliminated for tax years 2018 through 2025. As such, you can no longer deduct on Schedule A expenses related to tax preparation, moving (except for members of the Armed Forces on active duty who move because of a military order), job hunting, or unreimbursed employee expenses such as tools, supplies, required uniforms, travel, and mileage. Business owners are not affected and can still deduct business-related expenses on Schedule C.

Individuals – Tax Credits

Adoption Credit
In 2019 a nonrefundable (i.e., only those with tax liability will benefit) credit of up to $14,080 is available for qualified adoption expenses for each eligible child.

Child and Dependent Care Credit
The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit was permanently extended for taxable years starting in 2013 and remained under tax reform. As such, if you pay someone to take care of your dependent (defined as being under the age of 13 at the end of the tax year or incapable of self-care) in order to work or look for work, you may qualify for a credit of up to $1,050 or 35 percent of $3,000 of eligible expenses.

For two or more qualifying dependents, you can claim up to 35 percent of $6,000 (or $2,100) of eligible expenses. For higher-income earners, the credit percentage is reduced, but not below 20 percent, regardless of the amount of adjusted gross income.

Child Tax Credit and Credit for Other Dependents
For tax years 2018 through 2025, the Child Tax Credit increases to $2,000 per child. The refundable portion of the credit increases from $1,000 to $1,400 – 15 percent of earned income above $2,500, up to a maximum of $1,400 – so that even if taxpayers do not owe any tax, they can still claim the credit. Please note, however, that the refundable portion of the credit (also known as the additional child tax credit) applies higher-income when the taxpayer isn’t able to fully use the $2,000 nonrefundable credit to offset their tax liability.

Under TCJA, a new tax credit – Credit for Other Dependents – is also available for dependents who do not qualify for the Child Tax Credit. The $500 credit is nonrefundable and covers children older than age 17 as well as parents or other qualifying relatives supported by a taxpayer.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
For tax year 2019, the maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low and moderate-income workers and working families increased to $6,557 (up from $6,431 in 2018). The maximum income limit for the EITC increased to $55,952 (up from $54,884 in 2018) for married filing jointly. The credit varies by family size, filing status, and other factors, with the maximum credit going to joint filers with three or more qualifying children.

Individuals – Education Expenses

Coverdell Education Savings Account
You can contribute up to $2,000 a year to Coverdell savings accounts in 2019. These accounts can be used to offset the cost of elementary and secondary education, as well as post-secondary education.

American Opportunity Tax Credit
For 2019, the maximum American Opportunity Tax Credit that can be used to offset certain higher education expenses is $2,500 per student, although it is phased out beginning at $160,000 adjusted gross income for joint filers and $80,000 for other filers.

Lifetime Learning Credit
A credit of up to $2,000 is available for an unlimited number of years for certain costs of post-secondary or graduate courses or courses to acquire or improve your job skills. For 2019, the modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) threshold at which the Lifetime Learning Credit begins to phase out is $114,000 for joint filers and $57,000 for singles and heads of household. The credit cannot be claimed if your MAGI is $67,000 or more ($134,000 for joint returns)

Employer-Provided Educational Assistance
As an employee in 2019, you can exclude up to $5,250 of qualifying postsecondary and graduate education expenses that are reimbursed by your employer.

Student Loan Interest
In 2019, you can deduct up to $2,500 in student-loan interest as long as your modified adjusted gross income is less than $65,000 (single) or $135,000 (married filing jointly). The deduction is phased out at higher income levels.

Individuals – Retirement

Contribution Limits
For 2019, 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 $19,000 ($18,500 in 2018). For persons age 50 or older in 2019, the limit is $25,000 ($6,000 catch-up contribution).

Retirement Savings Contributions Credit (Saver’s Credit)
In 2019, the adjusted gross income limit for the saver’s credit for low and moderate-income workers is $64,000 for married couples filing jointly, $48,000 for heads of household, and $32,000 for married individuals filing separately and for singles. The maximum credit amount is $2,000 ($4,000 if married filing jointly). Also of note is that starting in 2018, the Saver’s Credit can be taken for your contributions to an ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) account if you’re the designated beneficiary. However, keep in mind that your eligible contributions may be reduced by any recent distributions you received from your ABLE account.

If you have any questions about these and other tax provisions that could affect your tax situation, don’t hesitate to call.

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Business Tax Provisions: The Year in Review

Here’s what business owners need to know about tax changes for 2019.

Standard Mileage Rates
The standard mileage rate in 2019 is 58 cents per business mile driven.

Health Care Tax Credit for Small Businesses
Small business employers who pay at least half the premiums for single health insurance coverage for their employees may be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit as long as they employ fewer than the equivalent of 25 full-time workers and average annual wages do not exceed $50,000 (adjusted annually for inflation). In 2019 this amount is $54,200.

In 2019 (as in 2014-2018), the tax credit is worth up to 50 percent of your contribution toward employees’ premium costs (up to 35 percent for tax-exempt employers.

Section 179 Expensing and Depreciation
Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the Section 179 expense deduction increases to a maximum deduction of $1.02 million of the first $2.55 million of qualifying equipment placed in service during the current tax year. The deduction was indexed to inflation for tax years after 2018 and enhanced to include improvements to nonresidential qualified real property such as roofs, fire protection, and alarm systems and security systems, and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems.

Businesses are allowed to immediately deduct 100% of the cost of eligible property placed in service after September 27, 2017, and before January 1, 2023, after which it will be phased downward over a four-year period: 80% in 2023, 60% in 2024, 40% in 2025, and 20% in 2026. The standard business depreciation amount is 26 cents per mile (up from 25 cents per mile in 2018).

Please call if you have any questions about Section 179 expensing and the bonus depreciation.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)
Extended through 2019, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit remained under tax reform and can be used by employers who hire long-term unemployed individuals (unemployed for 27 weeks or more). It is generally equal to 40 percent of the first $6,000 of wages paid to a new hire. Please call if you have any questions about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

SIMPLE IRA Plan Contributions
Contribution limits for SIMPLE IRA plans increased to $13,000 for persons under age 50 and $16,000 for persons age 50 or older in 2019. The maximum compensation used to determine contributions is $280,000.

Please contact the office if you would like more information about these and other tax deductions and credits to which you are entitled.

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Tax Breaks for Business: Charitable Giving

Tax breaks for charitable giving aren’t limited to individuals, your small business can benefit as well. If you own a small to medium-size business and are committed to giving back to the community through charitable giving, here’s what you should know.

1. Verify that the Organization is a Qualified Charity

Once you’ve identified a charity, you’ll need to make sure it is a qualified charitable organization under the IRS. Qualified organizations must meet specific requirements as well as IRS criteria and are often referred to as 501(c)(3) organizations. Note that not all tax-exempt organizations are 501(c)(3) status, however.

There are two ways to verify whether a charity is qualified:

  • Use the IRS online search tool; or
  • Ask the charity to send you a copy of their IRS determination letter confirming their exempt status.

2. Make Sure the Deduction is Eligible

Not all deductions are created equal. In order to take the deduction on a tax return, you need to make sure it qualifies. Charitable giving includes the following: cash donations, sponsorship of local charity events, in-kind contributions such as property such as inventory or equipment.

Lobbying. A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks the loss of its tax-exempt status. As such, you cannot claim a charitable deduction (or business expense) for amounts paid to an organization if both of the following apply:

  • The organization conducts lobbying activities on matters of direct financial interest to your business.
  • A principal purpose of your contribution is to avoid the rules discussed earlier that prohibit a business deduction for lobbying expenses.

Further, if a tax-exempt organization, other than a section 501(c)(3) organization, provides you with a notice on the part of dues that is allocable to nondeductible lobbying and political expenses, you cannot deduct that part of the dues.

3. Understand the Limitations

Sole proprietors, partners in a partnership, or shareholders in an S-corporation may be able to deduct charitable contributions made by their business on Schedule A (Form 1040). Corporations (other than S-corporations) can deduct charitable contributions on their income tax returns, subject to limitations.

Cash payments to an organization, charitable or otherwise, may be deductible as business expenses if the payments are not charitable contributions or gifts and are directly related to your business. Likewise, if the payments are charitable contributions or gifts, you cannot deduct them as business expenses.

Sole Proprietorships. As a sole proprietor (or single-member LLC), you file your business taxes using Schedule C of individual tax form 1040. Your business does not make charitable contributions separately. Charitable contributions are deducted using Schedule A, and you must itemize in order to take the deductions.

Partnerships. Partnerships do not pay income taxes. Rather, the income and expenses (including deductions for charitable contributions) are passed on to the partners on each partner’s individual Schedule K-1. If the partnership makes a charitable contribution, then each partner takes a percentage share of the deduction on his or her personal tax return. For example, if the partnership has four equal partners and donates a total of $2,000 to a qualified charitable organization in 2019, each partner can claim a $500 charitable deduction on his or her 2019 tax return.

A donation of cash or property reduces the value of the partnership. For example, if a partnership donates office equipment to a qualified charity, the office equipment is no longer owned by the partnership, and the total value of the partnership is reduced. Therefore, each partner’s share of the total value of the partnership is reduced accordingly.

S-Corporations. S-Corporations are similar to Partnerships, with each shareholder receiving a Schedule K-1 showing the amount of charitable contribution.

C-Corporations. Unlike sole proprietors, partnerships, and S-corporations, C-Corporations are separate entities from their owners. As such, a corporation can make charitable contributions and take deductions for those contributions.

4. Categorize Donations

Each category of donation has its own criteria with regard to whether it’s deductible and to what extent. For example, mileage and travel expenses related to services performed for the charitable organization are deductible but the time spent on volunteering your services is not.

Here’s another example: As a board member, your duties may include hosting fundraising events. While the time you spend as a board member is not deductible, expenses related to hosting the fundraiser such as stationery for invitations and telephone costs related to the event are deductible.

Generally, you can deduct up to 50 percent of adjusted gross income. Non-cash donations of more than $500 require completion of Form 8283, which is attached to your tax return. In addition, contributions are only deductible in the tax year in which they’re made.

5. Keep Good Records

The types of records you must keep vary according to the type of donation (cash, non-cash, out of pocket expenses when donating your services) and the importance of keeping good records cannot be overstated.

Ask for – and make sure you receive – a letter from any organizations stating that said organization received a contribution from your business. You should also keep canceled checks, bank and credit card statements, and payroll deduction records as proof or your donation. Furthermore, the IRS requires proof of payment and an acknowledgment letter for donations of $250 or more.

Questions about charitable donations? Help is just a phone call away.

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Tax Benefits of Health Savings Accounts

While similar to FSAs (Flexible Savings Plans) in that both allow pretax contributions, Health Savings Accounts or HSAs offer taxpayers several additional tax benefits such as contributions that roll over from year to year (i.e., no “use it or lose it”), tax-free interest on earnings, and when used for qualified medical expenses, tax-free distributions.

What is a Health Savings Account?

A Health Savings Account is a type of savings account that allows you to set aside money pre-tax to pay for qualified medical expenses. Contributions that you make to a Health Savings Account (HSA) are used to pay current or future medical expenses (including after you’ve retired) of the account owner, his or her spouse, and any qualified dependent.

Medical expenses that are reimbursable by insurance or other sources and do not qualify for the medical expense deduction on a federal income tax return are not eligible.

Insurance premiums for taxpayers younger than age 65 are generally not considered qualified medical expenses unless the premiums are for health care continuation coverage (such as coverage under COBRA), health care coverage while receiving unemployment compensation under federal or state law.

You cannot be covered by other health insurance with the exception of insurance for accidents, disability, dental care, vision care, or long-term care and you cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return. Spouses cannot open joint HSAs. Each spouse who is an eligible individual who wants an HSA must open a separate HSA.

An HSA can be opened through your bank or another financial institution. Contributions to an HSA must be made in cash. Contributions of stock or property are not allowed. As an employee may be able to elect to have money set aside and deposited directly into an HSA account; however, if this option is not offered by your employer, then you must wait until filing a tax return to claim the HSA contributions as a deduction.

High Deductible Health Plans

A Health Savings Account can only be used if you have a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). Typically, high-deductible health plans have lower monthly premiums than plans with lower deductibles, but you pay more health care costs yourself before the insurance company starts to pay its share (your deductible).

A high-deductible plan can be combined with a health savings account, allowing you to pay for certain medical expenses with tax-free money that you have set aside. By using the pre-tax funds in your HSA to pay for qualified medical expenses before you reach your deductible and other out-of-pocket costs such as copayments, you reduce your overall health care costs.

Calendar year 2019. For calendar year 2019, a qualifying HDHP must have a deductible of at least $1,350 for self-only coverage or $2,700 for family coverage. Annual out-of-pocket expenses (e.g., deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance) of the beneficiary are limited to $6,750 for self-only coverage and $13,500 for family coverage. This limit doesn’t apply to deductibles and expenses for out-of-network services if the plan uses a network of providers. Instead, only deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for services within the network should be used to figure whether the limit applies.

Last month rule. Under the last-month rule, you are considered to be an eligible individual for the entire year if you are an eligible individual on the first day of the last month of your tax year (December 1 for most taxpayers).

You can make contributions to your HSA for 2019 until April 15, 2020. Your employer can make contributions to your HSA between January 1, 2020, and April 15, 2020, that are allocated to 2019. The contribution will be reported on your 2020 Form W-2.

Summary of HSA Tax Advantages

  • Tax deductible. You can claim a tax deduction for contributions you, or someone other than your employer, make to your HSA even if you don’t itemize your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040).
  • Pretax dollars. Contributions to your HSA made by your employer (including contributions made through a cafeteria plan) may be excluded from your gross income.
  • Tax-free interest on earnings. Contributions remain in your account until you use them and are rolled over year after year. Any interest or other earnings on the assets in the account are tax-free. Furthermore, an HSA is “portable” and stays with you if you change employers or leave the workforce.
  • Tax-free distributions. Distributions may be tax-free if you pay qualified medical expenses.
  • Additional contributions for older workers. Employees, aged 55 years and older are able to save an additional $1,000 per year.
  • Tax-free after retirement. Distributions are tax-free at age 65 when used for qualified medical expenses including amounts used to pay Medicare Part B and Part D premiums, and long-term care insurance policy premiums. However, you cannot use money in an HSA to pay for supplemental insurance (e.g., Medigap) premiums.

Please contact the office if you have any questions about health savings accounts.

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Updated Rules: Deductible Business & Other Expenses

Taxpayers using optional standard mileage rates in computing the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving expense purposes should be aware of an updated set of rules. The updated rules reflect changes to certain deductible expenses resulting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

Also updated, are tax rules relating to substantiating the amount of an employee’s ordinary and necessary travel expenses reimbursed by an employer using the optional standard mileage rates. As such, taxpayers are not required to use the standard mileage rate, but may instead use actual allowable expenses as long as they maintain adequate records that substantiate these expenses.

In addition, a number of modifications and clarifications are also in effect, including – but not limited to – the following for tax years 2018-2025 (the “suspension period”):

  • A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate to claim a miscellaneous itemized deduction for the suspension period.
  • A taxpayer may not claim a miscellaneous itemized deduction during the suspension period for parking fees and tolls attributable to the taxpayer using the automobile for business purposes.
  • Amounts paid under a mileage allowance to an employee regardless of whether the employee incurs deductible business expenses are treated as paid under a nonaccountable plan.

Background

The TCJA suspended for tax years 2018-2025 the miscellaneous itemized deduction for most employees with unreimbursed business expenses, including the costs of operating an automobile for business purposes. Self-employed individuals, however, as well as certain employees, such as Armed Forces reservists, qualifying state or local government officials, educators, and performing artists, may continue to deduct unreimbursed business expenses during the suspension.

The TCJA also suspended the deduction for moving expenses during these same tax years. However, this suspension does not apply to a member of the Armed Forces on active duty who moves pursuant to a military order and incident to a permanent change of station.

Don’t hesitate to contact the office with any questions regarding the updated rules for deductible business, charitable, medical, and moving expenses.

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Take Retirement Plan Distributions by December 31

Taxpayers born before July 1, 1949, generally must receive payments from their individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans by December 31.

Known as required minimum distributions (RMDs), typically these distributions must be made by the end of the tax year. The required distribution rules apply to owners of traditional, Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) and Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees (SIMPLE) IRAs but not Roth IRAs while the original owner is alive. They also apply to participants in various workplace retirement plans, including 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans.

An IRA trustee must either report the amount of the RMD to the IRA owner or offer to calculate it for the owner. Often, the trustee shows the RMD amount on Form 5498 in Box 12b. For a 2019 RMD, this amount is shown on the 2018 Form 5498, IRA Contribution Information, which is normally issued to the owner during January 2019.

A special rule allows first-year recipients of these payments, those who reached age 70 1/2 during 2019, to wait until as late as April 1, 2020, to receive their first RMDs. What this means is that taxpayers born after June 30, 1948, and before July 1, 1949, are eligible. The advantage of this special rule is that although payments made to these taxpayers in early 2020 (up to April 1, 2020) and can be counted toward their 2019 RMD, they are taxable in 2020.

The special April 1 deadline only applies to the RMD for the first year, however. For all subsequent years, the RMD must be made by December 31. For example, a taxpayer who turned 70 1/2 in 2018 (born after June 30, 1947, and before July 1, 1948) and received the first RMD (for 2018) on April 1, 2019, must still receive a second RMD (for 2019) by December 31, 2019.

The RMD for 2019 is based on the taxpayer’s life expectancy on December 31, 2019, and their account balance on December 31, 2018. The trustee reports the year-end account value to the IRA owner on Form 5498 in Box 5. For most taxpayers, the RMD is based on Table III (Uniform Lifetime Table) in IRS Publication 590-B. For example, for a taxpayer who turned 72 in 2019, the required distribution would be based on a life expectancy of 25.6 years. A separate table, Table II, applies to a taxpayer whose spouse is more than ten years younger and is the taxpayer’s only beneficiary. If you need assistance with this, don’t hesitate to call.

Though the RMD rules are mandatory for all owners of traditional, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs and participants in workplace retirement plans, some people in workplace plans can wait longer to receive their RMDs. Usually, if their plan allows it, employees who are still working can wait until April 1 of the year after they retire to start receiving these distributions. There may, however, be a tax on excess accumulations. Employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations with 403(b) plan accruals before 1987 should check with their employer, plan administrator or provider to see how to treat these accruals.

If you have any questions about RMDs, please don’t hesitate to call.

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Employer Benefits of Using the EFTPS

Small business owners who are also employers should remember that the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) has features that make it easier to meet their tax obligations – whether they prepare and submit payroll taxes themselves or hire an outside payroll service provider to do it on their behalf.

Background

Many employers outsource some or all of their payroll and related tax duties such as tax withholding, reporting and making tax deposits to third-party payroll service providers. Third-party payroll service providers can help assure filing deadlines and deposit requirements are met and streamline business operations. Most payroll service providers administer payroll and employment taxes on behalf of an employer, where the employer provides the funds initially to the third party. They also report, collect and deposit employment taxes with state and federal authorities.

Treasury regulations require that employment tax deposits be made electronically and it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure their third-party payer uses the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).

Benefits of EFTPS

EFTPS is secure, accurate, easy to use and provides immediate confirmation for each transaction and anyone can use it. The service is offered free of charge from the U.S. Department of Treasury and enables employers to make and verify federal tax payments electronically 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the internet or by phone.

Employers who use payroll service providers can also verify that payments are made by using EFTPS online. To enroll online go to EFTPS.gov. You can also call EFTPS Customer Service at 800-555-4477 to request an enrollment form.

Employers should not change their address of record to that of the payroll service provider as it may limit the employer’s ability to be informed of tax matters.

EFTPS Employer Inquiry PIN

Third parties making tax payments on behalf of an employer will generally enroll their clients in the EFTPS under their account. This allows them to make deposits using the employer’s Employer Identification Number (EIN).

When third parties do this, it may generate an EFTPS Inquiry PIN for the employer. Once activated, this PIN allows employers to monitor and ensure the third party is making all required tax payments. Employers who have not been issued Inquiry PINs and who do not have their own EFTPS enrollment should register on the EFTPS system to get their own PIN and use this PIN to periodically verify payments. A red flag should go up the first time a service provider misses or makes a late payment.

Missed Payments and Changing Third-Party Payroll Service Providers

Employers enrolled in EFTPS can make up any missed tax payments and keep making tax payments if they change payroll service providers in the future. They can also update their information to receive email notifications about their account’s activities. Access to this feature requires a PIN and password for the system.

Once they opt-in for email notifications, they’ll receive notifications about payments they submit including those made by their payroll service provider. Email notification messages show when payments are scheduled, canceled, or returned, as well as reminders of scheduled payments.

Employers who believe that a bill or notice received is a result of a problem with their payroll service provider should contact the IRS as soon as possible by calling or writing to the IRS office that sent the bill, calling 800-829-4933 or making an appointment to visit a local IRS office.

Fraudulent Activities

If an employer suspects their payroll service provider of improper or fraudulent activities involving the deposit of their federal taxes or the filing of their returns, they can file a complaint with the Return Preparer Office using Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. A check-box on Form 14157 allows the employer to select “Payroll Service Provider” as the subject of the complaint. Once received, Form 14157 complaints will receive expedited handling and investigation.

Questions?

For more information about IRS notices, bills, and payment options, please call the office and speak to a tax and accounting professional today.

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Deferred Tax on Gains From Forced Sales of Livestock

Farmers and ranchers who were forced to sell livestock due to drought may get extra time to replace the livestock and defer tax on any gains from the forced sales. Here are some facts about this to help farmers understand how the deferral works and if they are eligible.

1. The one-year extension gives eligible farmers and ranchers until the end of the tax year after the first drought-free year to replace the sold livestock.

2. The farmer or rancher must be in an applicable region. An applicable region is a county-designated as eligible for federal assistance, as well as counties contiguous to that county.

3. The farmer’s county, parish, city or district included in the applicable region must be listed as suffering exceptional, extreme or severe drought conditions by the National Drought Mitigation Center. All or part of 32 states, plus Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, are listed.

4. The relief applies to farmers who were affected by drought that happened between September 1, 2018, and August 31, 2019.

5. This relief generally applies to capital gains realized by eligible farmers and ranchers on sales of livestock held for draft, dairy or breeding purposes. Sales of other livestock, such as those raised for slaughter or held for sporting purposes, or poultry are not eligible.

6. To qualify, the sales must be solely due to drought, flooding or other severe weather causing the region to be designated as eligible for federal assistance.

7. Farmers generally must replace the livestock within a four-year period, instead of the usual two-year period. As a result, qualified farmers and ranchers whose drought-sale replacement period was scheduled to expire at the end of this tax year, Dec. 31, 2019, in most cases, now have until the end of their next tax year. Furthermore, because the normal drought sale replacement period is four years, this extension immediately impacts drought sales that occurred during 2015. But because of previous drought-related extensions affecting some of these areas, the replacement periods for some drought sales before 2015 are also affected.

For additional details or more information on reporting drought sales and other farm-related tax issues, please call the office.

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Retirement Contributions Limits Announced for 2020

Cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for 2020 are as follows:

401(k), 403(b), 457 plans, and Thrift Savings Plan. Contribution limits for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan increase from $19,000 to $19,500. The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over increases from $6,000 to $6,500.

SIMPLE retirement accounts. Contribution limits for SIMPLE retirement accounts for self-employed persons increase in 2020 as well – from $13,000 to $13,500.

Traditional IRAs. The limit on annual contributions to an IRA remains at $6,000. 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.

Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions; however, if during the year either the taxpayer or their spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be reduced, or phased out, until it is eliminated, depending on filing status and income. If a retirement plan at work covers neither the taxpayer nor their spouse, the phase-out amounts of the deduction do not apply.

The phase-out ranges for 2020 are as follows:

  • For single taxpayers covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $65,000 to $75,000, up from $64,000 to $74,000.
  • For married couples filing jointly, where a workplace retirement plan covers the spouse making the IRA contribution, the phase-out range is $104,000 to $124,000, up from $103,000 to $123,000.
  • 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 $196,000 and $206,000, up from $193,000 and $203,000.
  • 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.

Roth IRAs. The income phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $124,000 to $139,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $122,000 to $137,000. For married couples filing jointly, the income phase-out range is $196,000 to $206,000, up from $193,000 to $203,000. The phase-out range for a married individual filing a separate return who makes contributions to a Roth IRA is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

Saver’s Credit. The income limit for the Saver’s Credit (also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit) for low- and moderate-income workers is $65,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $64,000; $48,750 for heads of household, up from $48,000; and $32,500 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up from $32,000.

If you have any questions about retirement plan contributions, don’t hesitate to call.

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Tax Due Dates for December 2019

December 10

Employees who work for tips – If you received $20 or more in tips during November, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

December 16

Corporations – Deposit the fourth installment of estimated income tax for 2019. A worksheet, Form 1120-W, is available to help you estimate your tax for the year.

Employers Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax – If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in November.

Employers Nonpayroll withholding – If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in November.

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Americans need to know these key differences in tax law before filing their tax returns this spring.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is the most significant set of changes to the U.S. tax code in several decades. The vast majority of the changes go into effect for the 2018 tax year, which is the return that you’ll file with the IRS in the spring of 2019.Here’s a rundown of what Americans need to know about the recent tax changes that could affect individual taxpayers in the upcoming tax season. Changes made on the corporate side won’t affect your tax return, so we’ll focus on the individual filer. These changes, which are mandated by the new tax legislation for individual filers, are set to expire in 2025, unless they get extended. (Corporate changes made by the bill are permanent.)

Hands writing tax planning on a notebook that is on a desk along with checks, a calculator, stick pins, and loose change.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Tax brackets — Still seven, but with different rates

One of the headline changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was a general lowering of U.S. tax rates. While the number of tax brackets remained at seven, the rates were generally lowered, with the exception of the minimum tax rate staying at 10% for the poorest Americans.

In addition to lower tax rates, the income thresholds were increased, particularly at the higher tax brackets. In other words, the highest tax brackets now apply to fewer (higher-earning) Americans than it did previously. For example, before the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the top tax rate was 39.6% and applied to married couples filing jointly who earned more than $480,050. With tax reform, that top rate was lowered to 37% and only applies to married couples making more than $600,000 in taxable income, much more income than before.

Former Marginal Tax Rates (2017 and Prior Years) New Marginal Tax Rates (2018-2025 Tax Years)
10% 10%
15% 12%
25% 22%
28% 24%
33% 32%
35% 35%
39.6% 37%

DATA SOURCE: IRS.

Here’s a look at the tax brackets in effect for the 2018 tax year, which will apply to the next tax return you’ll file in 2019.

Marginal Tax Rate Single Married Filing Jointly Head of Household Married Filing Separately
10% $0-$9,525 $0-$19,050 $0-$13,600 $0-$9,525
12% $9,526-$38,700 $19,051-$77,400 $13,601-$51,800 $9,526-$38,700
22% $38,701-$82,500 $77,401-$165,000 $51,801-$82,500 $38,701-$82,500
24% $82,501-$157,500 $165,001-$315,000 $82,501-$157,500 $82,501-$157,500
32% $157,501-$200,000 $315,001-$400,000 $157,501-$200,000 $157,501-$200,000
35% $200,001-$500,000 $400,001-$600,000 $200,001-$500,000 $200,001-$300,000
37% Over $500,000 Over $600,000 Over $500,000 Over $300,000

DATA SOURCE: IRS.

Additionally, the IRS recently announced the updated inflation-adjusted 2019 tax brackets, which will be used on the tax return you’ll file in 2020 for income you’ll earn during the 2019 calendar year:

Marginal Tax Rate Single Married Filing Jointly Head of Household Married Filing Separately
10% $0-$9,700 $0-$19,400 $0-$13,850 $0-$9,700
12% $9,701-$39,475 $19,401-$78,950 $13,851-$52,850 $9,701-$39,475
22% $39,476-$84,200 $78,951-$168,400 $52,851-$84,200 $39,476-$84,200
24% $84,201-$160,725 $168,401-$321,450 $84,201-$160,700 $84,201-$160,725
32% $160,726-$204,100 $321,451-$408,200 $160,701-$204,100 $160,726-$204,100
35% $204,101-$510,300 $408,201-$612,350 $204,101-$510,300 $204,101-$306,175
37% Over $510,300 Over $612,350 Over $510,300 Over $306,175

DATA SOURCE: IRS.

Annual adjustments will be different

Before the 2018 tax year, inflation adjustments to things like the tax brackets, standard deduction, and other tax provisions had been based on the CPI-U (consumer price index for all urban consumers). This index tracks a basket of goods and services that affects the typical U.S. household, so it made sense that it was used to gradually increase tax-related figures over time.

The new tax law uses a metric known as the Chained CPI instead, which makes the assumption that if a particular good or service becomes too expensive, consumers will begin buying a cheaper alternative. Without getting too deep into a discussion about the Chained CPI, the effect is that the index grows at a slightly slower rate over time than other forms of the CPI.

This is a relatively subtle change and unlikely to have a big impact on a year-to-year basis. However, because Chained CPI increases at a slower pace over time, it could have a big impact on the inflation adjustments to the tax code over decades. Simply put, the long-term effect of this means that the higher tax brackets will begin to apply to lower-income taxpayers, as real inflation will (theoretically) rise faster than the income thresholds of the marginal tax brackets.

Higher standard deduction

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act nearly doubled the standard deduction from previous levels. Taxpayers can choose between using the standard deduction or itemized deductions. Itemizing deductions means adding up all of the individual tax deductions to which you’re entitled and then subtracting them from your adjusted gross income (AGI). (Note: Adjusted gross income is your total income minus a few adjustments. Common adjustments to income include traditional IRA contributions and student loan interest, just to name a few.)

On the other hand, the standard deduction simply is a set amount that Americans can choose to deduct instead. Taxpayers can use whichever of the two methods is more beneficial to them.

The majority of U.S. households use the standard deduction, so this change will certainly affect millions of people.

With that in mind, here’s a comparison of the standard deductions that were in place for the 2017 tax year and those now in effect for 2018 and 2019:

Filing Status 2017 Standard Deduction 2018 Standard Deduction 2019 Standard Deduction
Single or Married Filing Separately $6,350 $12,000 $12,200
Married Filing Jointly $12,700 $24,000 $24,400
Head of Household $9,350 $18,000 $18,350

DATA SOURCE: IRS.

The effect of this change is that more Americans will end up using the standard deduction on their returns beginning in 2019 when they file for the 2018 tax year. Historically, approximately 70% of individual tax returns used the standard deduction, while the other 30% found it more beneficial to itemize. For 2018 and beyond, experts have projected that roughly 95% of individual tax returns now will utilize the standard deduction.

The personal exemption is gone

To be perfectly clear, although the standard deduction has roughly doubled, it doesn’t mean that people are getting double the tax break — far from it, actually.

While the standard deduction has increased, the valuable personal exemption has gone away. The reasoning for this is that, in addition to a tax cut, lawmakers were also attempting to simplify the tax code. So instead of giving taxpayers a standard deduction and a number of exemptions, these two things were essentially combined into a higher standard deduction.

In plain English, a personal exemption is a certain amount of income Americans can exclude from their taxable income each year. In prior tax years, Americans could claim one personal exemption for themselves, their spouse, and one for each dependent.

In the 2017 tax year, each personal exemption was an effective $4,100 tax deduction. And there was no limit to the number of personal exemptions that could be claimed. For example, a married couple with six dependent children could claim eight personal exemptions. You can see how the higher standard deduction may not exactly be a gift — especially for larger families.

The Child Tax Credit has doubled

Although families with several children may feel the sting from the repeal of the personal exemption, there’s some good news. Not only has the Child Tax Credit been increased, but more of the credit now is refundable and the income limitations are far less restrictive.

Briefly, it’s important to mention that a credit is very different from a deduction. While a deduction lowers the amount of income that the government considers when taxing you, a tax credit actually reduces the amount of tax you owe, dollar for dollar. If you owe $1,000 in tax, a $1,000 credit would pay it off for you while a deduction just would lower the income level that your tax rate would apply to. In other words, a $1,000 credit is far more valuable than a $1,000 deduction.

Tax reform was good for the Child Tax Credit, which was doubled to $2,000 per qualifying child under age 17. As much as $1,400 of this amount is refundable — meaning that it can be claimed even if the taxpayer’s federal income tax liability is already zero. So even if a parent has little income or otherwise owes no federal income taxes, they could still take advantage and get this money back.

Furthermore, the income phase-out thresholds are significantly higher than the previous levels, which makes the credit available to far more Americans than in previous years. Several tax breaks phase out above certain income levels. The reason is that many tax benefits are intended to benefit low- to moderate-income taxpayers, not the rich. However, the range of people who can benefit from the Child Tax Credit has been significantly expanded.

Tax Filing Status Maximum AGI for Full Credit AGI Where Credit Disappears
Single $200,000 Over $240,000
Married Filing Jointly $400,000 Over $440,000
Head of Household $200,000 Over $240,000
Married Filing Separately $200,000 Over $240,000

DATA SOURCE: IRS.

Most education tax breaks remain

The two popular tax credits for college expenses, the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit, both survived tax reform unscathed. These are designed to lower the tax bills of people who paid college tuition. The American Opportunity Credit applies to tuition paid toward a degree or certificate program but only for the first four years of college, while the Lifetime Learning Credit applies to nearly all tuition and fees.

However, it’s worth noting that the tuition and fees tax deduction is no longer available, as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 only made it available through the 2017 tax year — although it’s possible that Congress will still choose to extend it. Previously, certain taxpayers who couldn’t qualify for one of the two credits could deduct as much as $4,000 worth of tuition and fees as an adjustment to income. Now, taxpayers who can’t qualify for either credit are out of luck.

Expanded use of 529 savings plans

The two main college savings accounts, 529 savings plans and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, or ESAs, both remain in the revised tax code. These accounts provide a tax-advantaged way for parents and other relatives to save and invest money for educational expenses such as tuition, fees, books, and certain other qualifying expenses. While there’s no deduction for contributions to these accounts on federal tax returns, any money these accounts earn from investments can be withdrawn tax-free when used for a qualified expense.

However, a change was made to 529 savings plans to allow use of the funds for qualifying educational expenses at any level, not just for college. This was already the case with Coverdell ESAs. As one potential example, if you end up sending your child to a private high school, you could potentially use funds from their 529 savings plan to help pay for it.

Mortgage interest still is deductible, but…

The deduction for mortgage interest is one of the most popular U.S. tax breaks. In fact, tax benefits like these are often a primary reason Americans decide to buy a home. Fortunately for many homeowners, the mortgage interest deduction survived the tax reform efforts, but it did receive two major modifications.

First, the cap (or limit) on the total deduction allowed has been reduced to the interest on up to $750,000 of qualified residence debt, or mortgage principal on a primary or secondary home. This is down from the previous limit of $1 million, although mortgages obtained before December 15, 2017 are grandfathered in to the higher limit.

Second, the previous additional limit that allowed taxpayers to deduct interest on as much as $100,000 of home equity debt has been eliminated. To be clear, interest on a home equity loan (such as a HELOC) may still be used as a deduction, but if and only if the loan was used to substantially improve your home. In this case, it becomes qualified residence debt and is counted as part of your $750,000 cap.

Charitable contributions

The charitable contributions deduction is another wildly popular tax break and was never really on the chopping block. In fact, highly charitable taxpayers can now deduct donations of as much as 60% of their AGI — a boost from the previous 50% maximum.

One potential negative change, however, is that donations made regularly to colleges and universities in exchange for the right to purchase athletic tickets are no longer deductible.

The medical expense deduction is lower for 2018, but…

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowered the threshold for medical expense deductions to 7.5% of AGI from the prior threshold of 10%. In other words, a taxpayer with an AGI of $100,000 can now deduct medical expenses exceeding $7,500. The IRS has a long list of expenses that qualify as “medical expenses,” so it can be a good idea to start keeping track of yours if you think you may qualify.

However, this change only was made for the 2017 and 2018 tax years. So you’ll be able to take advantage of it on the tax return you file in 2019. Beyond that time, however, the threshold is set to increase to 10% again unless Congress acts to extend it.

The SALT deduction: Bad news for high-tax states

The biggest tax deduction by dollar amount that Americans have taken advantage of in recent years is the deduction for state and local taxes — also known as the SALT (State and Local Taxes) deduction. Specifically, Americans have been able to deduct the following:

  • State and/or local property taxes, such as those paid on a personal residence, automobile, or other personal property.
  • State and local income taxes or state sales taxes, whichever results in the larger deduction. Generally speaking, income taxes are the better deduction, but the option to deduct sales tax allows residents of states without an income tax to benefit, as well. If you choose the sales tax option, you don’t need receipts — the IRS provides a calculator to determine this deduction.

Starting with the 2018 tax year, however, the SALT deduction is limited to a total of $10,000. This may sound like a lot, but many Americans — especially those in high-tax states like New York, New Jersey, and California — have been deducting several times this amount. For example, the property tax on my parents’ modest home in New Jersey almost reaches the $10,000 cap all by itself.

Now, millions of Americans cannot deduct their state and local taxes, and on top of that, the higher standard deduction means that many families who pay high amounts of state and local taxes may not be able to take advantage of the SALT deduction at all.

No more Obamacare penalties, starting in 2019

While the Republican administration and Congress have thus far been unsuccessful in repealing the Affordable Care Act, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act did eliminate the individual mandate — aka the “Obamacare penalty.” This is the penalty you pay for not having health insurance.

One important caveat: The penalty is only repealed in tax years 2019 and beyond. If you didn’t maintain qualifying health coverage throughout 2018, you still may face the penalty when you file your tax return in 2019.

The new pass-through income deduction

Designed as a tax break for small business owners, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act includes a 20% deduction for “pass-through” income. This includes income you receive from a sole proprietorship or other pass-through entities such as partnerships, LLCs, and S-Corps. Real estate income counts, as do dividends you receive from REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) stocks.

There’s one notable restriction. The new law sets a maximum amount of income people in “professional services” businesses, such as lawyers, doctors, and consultants, can earn while still taking advantage of the deduction. For the 2018 tax year, the pass-through deduction for these types of business starts to phase out at an AGI greater than $157,500 (single filers) or $315,000 (married filing jointly).

Big changes to the alternative minimum tax

Many legislators had initially sought a repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax, or AMT, but it still exists in 2018 and beyond. If you aren’t familiar with it, the AMT is designed to ensure that high-income taxpayers pay their fair share of taxes, even if they’re entitled to tons of deductions and credits.

Taxpayers still need to calculate their taxes twice — once under the standard method and again using the AMT — and pay whichever results in a larger bill. Don’t worry, though — your tax-preparation software program will determine if you need to be concerned about the AMT. However, there were a couple of significant changes made by the new tax law.

First, AMT exemptions never were indexed for inflation. This became the main problem with the AMT — because it didn’t change over time with purchasing power, it began to apply to more and more Americans. The AMT never was designed to affect the middle class, but it had started to do just that. From here on out, the AMT exemption amounts will be indexed for inflation.

Second, the AMT exemption amounts themselves, as well as the phase-out limits at which they start to go away, have been increased significantly. Here’s a look at the AMT exemptions for the 2017-2019 tax years:

Tax Filing Status 2017 AMT Exemption Amount 2018 AMT Exemption Amount 2019 AMT Exemption Amount
Single or Head of Household $54,300 $70,300 $71,700
Married Filing Jointly $84,500 $109,400 $111,700
Married Filing Separately $42,500 $54,700 $55,850

DATA SOURCE: IRS. BEYOND 2019, THESE WILL BE INDEXED FOR INFLATION.

And finally, here’s how dramatically the exemption phase-out income thresholds have changed:

Tax Filing Status 2017 Phase-Out Threshold 2018 Phase-Out Threshold 2019 Phase-Out Threshold
Married Filing Jointly $160,900 $1,000,000 $1,020,600
All Others $120,700 $500,000 $510,300

DATA SOURCE: IRS.

The estate tax applies to even fewer American families now

To be perfectly clear, the estate tax, which is essentially a tax on inherited wealth, only applied to the wealthiest U.S. households, even before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was passed. However, the new law makes it apply to even fewer filers.

Under the former tax law, the estate tax only applied to the portion of an estate that was in excess of $5.59 million (2018). The new law doubled the threshold to $11.18 million for 2018 and will increase again in 2019.

Tax Year Estate Tax Lifetime Exemption Annual Exclusion
2018 $11.18 Million $15,000
2019 $11.4 Million $15,000

DATA SOURCE: IRS.

Which tax deductions are gone?

As we’ve seen, many tax deductions survived the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, either in their previous form or with modifications. On the other hand, there are some that didn’t get to remain on the books at all. Remember, the goal of the tax reform effort wasn’t just to cut taxes but to simplify the U.S. tax code, as well. As part of the simplification, several deductions got axed.

Here are the most significant tax breaks that Americans can no longer take advantage of:

  • Moving expenses — This was an above-the-line deduction, meaning that it could be taken whether or not a taxpayer itemized, and was designed to offset the costs of job-related moving expenses. Now, this deduction is gone, except for certain moves related to active-duty military service.
  • Casualty and theft losses — If your home was burglarized, you formerly were able to deduct the value of the stolen items. Now, the deduction only can be used for losses attributed to a federally declared disaster.
  • The “miscellaneous deduction” category — This is one true simplification to the tax code. There used to be a long list of deductions that Americans could take advantage of, to the extent that they exceeded 2% of AGI. This included things like unreimbursed employee expenses, tax preparation expenses, and more. Starting with the 2018 tax year, these deductions are gone, so some taxpayers with lots of these expenses may feel the sting from this.

Which tax breaks stay the same in 2019?

As I mentioned, many tax breaks survived the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act unscathed. This is not an exhaustive list, but here are some tax deductions and credits that weren’t affected at all:

Will these tax changes expire after 2025 or will Congress make them permanent?

One big uncertainty is what will happen to the Tax Code after 2025. The way the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is set up, the changes to the corporate side of the tax code are permanent, but the individual tax changes are mostly set to expire after the 2025 tax year. The most significant exception is the change from the CPI-W to the Chained CPI when it comes to calculating inflation — that one’s a permanent change.

Here’s the problem. If the tax changes expire as scheduled after 2025 and our individual tax code reverts back to its previous form, the lower inflation calculation will effectively make taxes even higher than they were before for most Americans.

There’s currently an effort underway to make the changes permanent (lawmakers refer to this as part of “Tax Reform 2.0”). However, with a split Congress, any further tax bills are likely to face an uphill battle.

Seem like too much to digest? Don’t fret

Admittedly, these changes may sound a little complicated. However, the good news is that if you have your taxes done by a professional, you don’t need to worry too much about them. They’ll ensure you’re following the updated tax code and will calculate the effect of these changes on your wallet.


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Our regularly updated newsletter provides timely articles to help you achieve your financial goals. Please come back and visit often.

April 2019

 

Feature Articles

Tax Tips

Any accounting, business or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.

Six Tips for Last-Minute Tax Filers

 

Earlier is better when it comes to working on your taxes but many people find preparing their tax return to be stressful and frustrating and wait until the last minute. Complicating matters this year is tax reform and the newly redesigned Form 1040. If you’ve been procrastinating on filing your tax return this year, here are six tips that might help.

  1. Don’t Delay. Resist the temptation to put off your taxes until the very last minute (i.e., April 15). Your haste to meet the filing deadline may cause you to overlook potential sources of tax savings and will likely increase your risk of making an error. Getting a head start–even if it is a week or two) will not only keep the process calm but also mean you get your return faster by avoiding the last-minute rush.
  2. Gather tax documents and other records in advance. Make sure you have all the records you need, including W-2s and 1099s. Don’t forget to save a copy for your files.
  3. Double-check your math and verify all Social Security numbers. These are among the most common errors found on tax returns. Taking care will reduce your chance of hearing from the IRS. Submitting an error-free return will also speed up your tax refund.
  4. E-file for a faster tax refund. Taxpayers who e-file and choose direct deposit for their refunds, for example, will get their refunds in as few as 10 days. That compares to approximately six weeks for people who file a paper return and get a traditional paper check.
  5. Don’t Panic if You Can’t Pay. If you can’t immediately pay the taxes you owe, consider some stress-reducing alternatives. You can apply for an IRS installment agreement, suggesting your own monthly payment amount and due date, and getting a reduced late payment penalty rate. You also have various options for charging your balance on a credit card. There is no IRS fee for credit card payments, but the processing companies charge a convenience fee. Electronic filers with a balance due can file early and authorize the government’s financial agent to take the money directly from their checking or savings account on the April due date, with no fee.
  6. Request an Extension of Time to File (but make sure you pay by the April 15 due date). If the clock runs out, you can get an automatic six-month extension bringing the filing date to October 15, 2019. However, the extension itself does not give you more time to pay any taxes due. You will owe interest on any amount not paid by the April deadline, plus a late payment penalty if you have not paid at least 90 percent of your total tax by that date.

If you run into any problems, have any questions, or need to file an extension, help is just a phone call away.

The Qualified Small Business Stock Exclusion

 

As the driving force in today’s economy, small businesses benefit from numerous tax breaks in the tax code. One of these, the Qualified Small Business Stock (QSBS), was made permanent by the PATH Act (Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015). If you’re a small business investor, here’s what you need to know about this often-overlooked tax break.

What is the Qualified Small Business Stock Exclusion?

Sometimes referred to as Section 1202 (after Section 1202 of the Internal Revenue Code, the PATH Act made permanent for taxpayers (excluding corporations) the exclusion of 100 percent of the gain on the sale or exchange of qualified small business stock (QSBS) acquired after September 27, 2010, that is held longer than five years.

Two tax provisions apply to gain from the sale or trade of qualified small business stock. Taxpayers may qualify for a tax-free rollover of all or part of the gain, or they may be able to exclude gain from income.

Qualified stock must also meet the active business test, and it can’t be an investment vehicle or an inactive business. A corporation meets this test for any period of time if, during that period, both the following are true:

  • It was an eligible corporation, defined below.
  • It used at least 80 percent (by value) of its assets in the active conduct of at least one qualified trade or business.

Further, QSBS gain excluded from income is not subject to the 3.8 percent Net Investment Income Tax from capital gains (and other investment income) on high-income taxpayers.

Qualified Small Business. The definition of a qualified small business under the IRS varies; however, examples of businesses that do NOT qualify include, but are not limited to:

  • A regulated investment company,
  • A real estate investment trust (REIT)
  • One involving services performed in the fields of health, law, engineering, architecture, accounting, actuarial science, performing arts, consulting, athletics, financial services, or brokerage services;
  • Any business of operating a hotel, motel, restaurant, or similar business.
  • Any farming business (including the business of raising or harvesting trees).

What is Qualified Small Business Stock (QSBS)?

Qualified small business stock is stock that meets all of the following tests:

  1. It must be stock in a C corporation.
  2. It must have been originally issued after August 10, 1993.
  3. The corporation must have total gross assets of $50 million or less at all times after August 9, 1993, and before it issued the stock. Its total gross assets immediately after it issued the stock must also be $50 million or less.
  4. When figuring the corporation’s total gross assets, you must also count the assets of any predecessor of the corporation. In addition, you must treat all corporations that are members of the same parent-subsidiary controlled group as one corporation.
  5. You must have acquired the stock at its original issue, directly or through an underwriter, in exchange for money or other property (not including stock), or as payment for services provided to the corporation (other than services performed as an underwriter of the stock). In certain cases, your stock may also meet this test if you acquired it from another person who met this test, or through a conversion or trade of qualified small business stock that you held.
  6. The corporation must have met the active business test, defined next, and must have been a C corporation during substantially all the time you held the stock.
  7. Within the period beginning two years before and ending two years after the stock was issued, the corporation cannot have bought more than a de minimis amount of its stock from you or a related party.
  8. Within the period beginning one year before and ending one year after the stock was issued, the corporation cannot have bought more than a de minimis amount of its stock from anyone, unless the total value of the stock it bought is five percent or less of the total value of all its stock.

Questions?

The QSBS exclusion, as with many tax provisions, is complicated. Don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions or would like more information on this topic.

Refundable vs. Non-Refundable Tax Credits

 

Tax credits can reduce your tax bill or give you a bigger refund, but not all tax credits are created equal. While most tax credits are refundable, some credits are nonrefundable, but before we take a look at the difference between refundable and nonrefundable tax credits, it’s important to understand the difference between a tax credit and a tax deduction.

Tax credits reduce your tax liability dollar for dollar and are more valuable than tax deductions that reduce your taxable income and tied to your marginal tax bracket. Let’s look at the difference between a tax credit of $1,000 and a tax deduction of $1,000 for a taxpayer whose income places them in the 22% tax bracket:

    • A tax credit worth $1,000 reduces the amount of tax owed by $1,000–the same dollar amount.
  • A tax deduction worth the same amount ($1,000) only saves you $330, however (0.22 x $1,000 = $220). As you can see, tax credits save you more money than tax deductions.

Tax Credits: Refundable vs. Nonrefundable

A refundable tax credit not only reduces the federal tax you owe but also could result in a refund if it more than you owe. Let’s say you are eligible to take a $1,000 Child Tax Credit but only owe $200 in taxes. The additional amount ($800) is treated as a refund to which you are entitled.

A nonrefundable tax credit, on the other hand, means you get a refund only up to the amount you owe. For example, if you are eligible to take an American Opportunity Tax Credit worth $1,000 and the amount of tax owed is only $800, you can only reduce your taxable amount by $800–not the full $1,000.

Refundable Tax Credits

  • The Earned Income Tax Credit
  • The Child and Dependent Care Credit
  • The Saver’s Credit

Nonrefundable Tax Credits

Examples of nonrefundable tax credits include:

  • Adoption Tax Credit
  • Foreign Tax Credit
  • Mortgage Interest Tax Credit
  • Residential Energy Property Credit
  • Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled
  • Child Tax Credit (tax years prior to 2018)

Partially Refundable Tax Credits

Some tax credits are only partially refundable such as:

  • Child Tax Credit (starting in 2018)
  • American Opportunity Tax Credit

Questions about tax credits or deductions?

If you have any questions or would like more information about either of these tax topics, please call.

Reporting Foreign Income

 

If you are living or working outside the United States, you generally must file and pay your tax in the same way as people living in the U.S. This includes people with dual citizenship.

In addition, U.S. taxpayers with foreign accounts exceeding certain thresholds may be required to file Form FinCen114, known as the “FBAR” as well as Form 8938, also referred to as “FATCA.”

FBAR is not a tax form, but is due to the Treasury Department by April 15, 2019, but may be extended to October 15. Form 114 must be filed electronically through the BSA E-Filing System website. The BSA E-Filing System supports electronic filing of Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) forms (either individually or in batches) through a FinCEN secure network.FATCA (Form 8938) is submitted on the tax due date (including extensions, if any,) of your income tax return.

Here’s what else you need to know about reporting foreign income:

  1. Report Worldwide Income.By law, Americans living abroad, as well as many non-U.S. citizens, must file a U.S. income tax return and report any worldwide income. Some key tax benefits, such as the foreign earned income exclusion, are only available to those who file U.S. returns. Any income received, or deductible expenses paid in foreign currency must be reported on a U.S. tax return in U.S. dollars. Likewise, any tax payments must be made in U.S. dollars. Both FinCen Form 114 and IRS Form 8938, require the use of a December 31 exchange rate for all transactions, regardless of the actual exchange rate on the date of the transaction. Generally, the IRS accepts any posted exchange rate that is used consistently.
  2. Report Foreign Accounts and Assets.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.
  3. File Required Tax Forms.In most cases, affected taxpayers need to file Schedule B, Interest and Ordinary Dividends, with their tax returns. 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.

Some taxpayers may need to file additional forms with the Treasury Department such as Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets or FinCEN Form 114 (formerly TD F 90-22.1), Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (“FBAR”).

FBAR. Taxpayers do not file the FBAR with individual, business, trust or estate tax returns. Instead, taxpayers with foreign accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during 2018 (or in 2019 for next year’s filing returns) must file a Treasury Department FinCEN Form 114 (formerly TD F 90-22.1), Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (“FBAR”).

The deadline for filing the FBAR is the same as for a federal income tax return and must be filed electronically with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) by April 15, 2019. FinCEN grants filers missing the April 15 deadline an automatic extension until October 15, 2019, to file the FBAR.

Taxpayers who want to paper-file their FBAR must call the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s Regulatory Helpline to request an exemption from e-filing.

Form 8938. Generally, U.S. citizens, resident aliens, and certain nonresident aliens must report specified foreign financial assets on Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets if the aggregate value of those assets exceeds certain thresholds:

  • If the total value is at or below $50,000 at the end of the tax year, there is no reporting requirement for the year, unless the total value was more than $75,000 at any time during the tax year
  • Taxpayers who do not have to file an income tax return for the tax year do not have to file Form 8938, regardless of the value of their specified foreign financial assets.

The threshold is higher for individuals who live outside the United States and thresholds are different for married and single taxpayers. In addition, penalties apply for failure to file accurately.

Please contact the office if you need additional information about thresholds for reporting, what constitutes a specified foreign financial asset, how to determine the total value of relevant assets, what assets are exempted and what information must be provided.

An individual may have to file both forms, and separate penalties may apply for failure to file each form.

  1. Review the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. Many Americans who live and work abroad qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion when they file their tax return. This means taxpayers who qualify will not pay taxes on up to $103,900 of their wages and other foreign earned income they received in 2018 ($105,900 in 2019). Please contact the office if you have any questions about foreign earned income exclusion.
  2. Don’t Overlook Credits and Deductions. Taxpayers may be able to take either a credit or a deduction for income taxes paid to a foreign country. This benefit reduces the taxes these taxpayers pay in situations where both the U.S. and another country tax the same income. However, you cannot claim the additional child tax credit if you file Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income or Form 2555-EZ, Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.
  3. Automatic Extension. U.S. citizens and resident aliens living abroad on April 15, 2019, qualified for an automatic two-month extension (until June 15) to file their 2018 federal income tax returns. The extension of time to file also applies to those serving in the military outside the U.S. Taxpayers must attach a statement to their returns explaining why they qualify for the extension.
  4. Additional Extension of Time to File. U.S. citizens and resident aliens living abroad may be granted a filing extension of up to six months (October 15, 2019) by filing Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return prior to the due date of the tax return (April 15, 2019). However, a taxpayer filing an extension must pay any tax due by the original date or be subject to late payment penalties and interest.
  5. Get Tax Help. If you’re a taxpayer or resident alien living abroad that needs help with tax filing issues, IRS notices, and tax bills, or have questions about foreign earned income and offshore financial assets in a bank or brokerage account, don’t hesitate to call.

Scam Alert: Fake Calls from Taxpayer Advocate Service

 

Like clockwork, every year, there’s a new twist on old scams. This year, it is the IRS impersonation phone scam whereby criminals fake calls from the Taxpayer Advocate Service. The TAS is an independent organization within the IRS that help protect your taxpayer rights. TAS can help if you need assistance resolving an IRS problem, if your problem is causing financial difficulty, or if you believe an IRS system or procedure isn’t working as it should. Typically, a taxpayer would contact TAS for help first, and only then would TAS reach out to the taxpayer. TAS does not initiate calls to taxpayers out of the blue.

How the scam works

Like many other IRS impersonation scams, thieves make unsolicited phone calls to their intended victims fraudulently claiming to be from the IRS. In this most recent scam variation, callers “spoof” the telephone number of the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service office in Houston or Brooklyn. Calls may be ‘robo-calls’ that request a call back. Once the taxpayer returns the call, the con artist requests personal information, including Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).

In other variations of the IRS impersonation phone scam, fraudsters demand immediate payment of taxes by a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The callers are often hostile and abusive. Alternately, scammers may tell would-be victims that they are entitled to a large refund but must first provide personal information. Other characteristics of these scams include:

  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may know the last four digits of the taxpayer’s Social Security number.
  • Scammers spoof caller ID to make the phone number appear as if the IRS or another local law enforcement agency is calling.
  • Scammers may send bogus IRS emails to victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls to mimic a call site.
  • After threatening victims with jail time or with, driver’s license or other professional license revocation, scammers hang up. Others soon call back pretending to be from local law enforcement agencies or the Department of Motor Vehicles, and caller ID again supports their claim.

Telltale signs of a scam call

While the IRS or the TAS will never do any of the following, scammers will often:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Call about an unexpected tax refund.

Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time and its important to stay alert to scams that use the IRS or other legitimate companies and agencies as a lure. If you have any concerns, please call the office.

Don’t Delay: Late Filing and Late Payment Penalties

 

April 15 (April 17 if you live in Maine or Massachusetts) is the deadline for most people to file their federal income tax return and pay any taxes they owe. The bad news is that if you miss the deadline (for whatever reason), you may be assessed penalties for both failing to file a tax return and for failing to pay taxes they owe by the deadline. The good news is that there is no penalty if you file a late tax return but are due a refund.

Here are ten important facts every taxpayer should know about penalties for filing or paying late:

  1. A failure-to-file penalty may apply.If you owe tax, and you failed to file and pay on time, you will most likely owe interest and penalties on the tax you pay late.
  2. Penalty for filing late.The penalty for filing a late return is normally 5 percent of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month that a tax return is late and starts accruing the day after the tax filing due date. Late filing penalties will not exceed 25 percent of your unpaid taxes.
  3. Failure to pay penalty.If you do not pay your taxes by the tax deadline, you normally will face a failure-to-pay penalty of 1/2 of 1 percent of your unpaid taxes. That penalty applies for each month or part of a month after the due date and starts accruing the day after the tax-filing due date.
  4. The failure-to-file penalty is generally more than the failure-to-pay penalty.You should file your tax return on time each year, even if you’re not able to pay all the taxes you owe by the due date. You can reduce additional interest and penalties by paying as much as you can with your tax return. You should explore other payment options such as getting a loan or making an installment agreement to make payments. Contact the office today if you need help figuring out how to pay what you owe.
  5. Extension of time to file.If you timely requested an extension of time to file your individual income tax return and paid at least 90 percent of the taxes you owe with your request, you may not face a failure-to-pay penalty. However, you must pay any remaining balance by the extended due date.
  6. Two penalties may apply.One penalty is for filing late and one is for paying late–and they can add up fast, especially since interest accrues on top of the penalties but if both the 5 percent failure-to-file penalty and the 1/2 percent failure-to-pay penalties apply in any month, the maximum penalty that you’ll pay for both is 5 percent.
  7. Minimum penalty.If you file your return more than 60 days after the due date or extended due date, the minimum penalty is the smaller of $135 or 100 percent of the unpaid tax.
  8. Reasonable cause.You will not have to pay a late-filing or late-payment penalty if you can show reasonable cause for not filing or paying on time. Please call if you have any questions about what constitutes reasonable cause.
  9. Penalty relief.The IRS generally provides penalty relief, including postponing filing and payment deadlines, to any area covered by a disaster declaration for individual assistance issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  10. File even if you can’t pay.Filing on time and paying as much as you can, keeps your interest and penalties to a minimum. If you can’t pay in full, getting a loan or paying by debit or credit card may be less expensive than owing the IRS. If you do owe the IRS, the sooner you pay your bill, the less you will owe.

If you need assistance, help is just a phone call away!

There’s Still Time to Make a 2018 IRA Contribution

 

If you haven’t contributed funds to an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) for tax year 2018, or if you’ve put in less than the maximum allowed, you still have time to do so. You can contribute to either a traditional or Roth IRA until the April 15 due date, not including extensions.

Be sure to tell the IRA trustee that the contribution is for 2018. Otherwise, the trustee may report the contribution as being for 2019 when they get your funds.

Generally, you can contribute up to $5,500 of your earnings for tax year 2018 (up to $6,500 if you are age 50 or older in 2018). You can fund a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA (if you qualify), or both, but your total contributions cannot be more than these amounts.

Traditional IRA: You may be able to take a tax deduction for the contributions to a traditional IRA, depending on your income and whether you or your spouse, if filing jointly, are covered by an employer’s pension plan.

Roth IRA: You cannot deduct Roth IRA contributions, but the earnings on a Roth IRA may be tax-free if you meet the conditions for a qualified distribution.

Saving for retirement should be part of everyone’s financial plan and it’s important to review your retirement goals every year in order to maximize savings. If you need help figuring out which retirement strategies are best for your situation, give the office a call.

Fringe Benefit Deductions Change; Affect Business

 

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act included a number of tax law changes that affect small businesses such as deductions for fringe benefit, which can affect both a business’s bottom line and its employees’ deductions. Here’s a summary of what these are:

Transportation fringe benefits. The new law disallows deductions for expenses associated with qualified transportation fringe benefits or expenses incurred providing transportation for commuting, except as necessary for employee safety.

Bicycle commuting reimbursements. Under the new tax law, employers can deduct qualified bicycle commuting reimbursements as a business expense for 2018 through 2025. The new tax law suspends the exclusion of qualified bicycle commuting reimbursements from an employee’s income for 2018 through 2025. Employers must now include these reimbursements in the employee’s wages.

Moving expenses. Employers must now include moving expense reimbursements in employees’ wages. The new tax law suspends the former exclusion for qualified moving expense reimbursements. There is one exception for active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces. They can still exclude moving expenses from their income. There is additional guidance on reimbursements for employees’ who moved in 2017, but were reimbursed for expenses in 2018. Generally, reimbursements in this situation are not taxed.

Achievement awards. Special rules allow an employee to exclude achievement awards from wages if the awards are tangible personal property. An employer also may deduct awards that are tangible personal property, subject to certain deduction limits. The new law clarifies the definition of tangible personal property.

Don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions about tax law changes affecting fringe benefits and your small business.

Tax Due Dates for April 2019

 

April 1

Electronic filing of Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, and 3922 – File Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, and 3922 with the IRS (except a Form 1099-MISC reporting non employee compensation). This due date applies only if you file electronically.

Electronic Filing of Form W-2G– File copies of all the Form W-2G (Certain Gambling Winnings) you issued for 2018. This due date applies only if you electronically file.

Electronic Filing of Forms 8027 – File copies of all the Forms 8027 you issued for 2018. This due date applies only if you electronically file.

Electronic Filing of Forms 1094-C and 1095-C and Forms 1094-B and 1094-B – If you’re an applicable Large Employer, file electronic forms 1094-C and 1095-C with the IRS. For all other providers of essential minimum coverage, file electronic Forms 1094-B and 1095-B with the IRS.

April 10

Employees who work for tips – If you received $20 or more in tips during March, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

April 15

Individuals – File an income tax return for 2018 and pay any tax due. If you want an automatic 6-month extension of time to file the return, file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return or you can get an extension by phone if you pay part or all of your estimate of income tax due with a credit card. Then file Form 1040 by October 15.

Household Employers – If you paid cash wages of $2,100 or more in 2018 to a household employee, file Schedule H (Form 1040) with your income tax return and report any employment taxes. Report any federal unemployment (FUTA) tax on Schedule H if you paid total cash wages of $1,000 or more in any calendar quarter of 2017 or 2018 to household employees. Also, report any income tax you withheld for your household employees.

Individuals – If you are not paying your 2019 income tax through withholding (or will not pay in enough tax during the year that way), pay the first installment of your 2019 estimated tax. Use Form 1040-ES.

Corporations – File a 2018 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120) and pay any tax due. If you want an automatic 6-month extension of time to file the return, file Form 7004 and deposit what you estimate you owe in taxes.

Corporations – Deposit the first installment of estimated income tax for 2019. A worksheet, Form 1120-W, is available to help you estimate your tax for the year.

Employers – Nonpayroll withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in March.

Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in March.

April 30

Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. File form 941 for the first quarter of 2019. Deposit any undeposited tax. (If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return.) If you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time, you have until May 10 to file the return.

Copyright © 2019   All materials contained in this document are protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. All other trade names, trademarks, registered trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.

Rex Crandell Firm
3000 Citrus Circle, #207
Walnut Creek, CA, 94598
Phone: (925) 934-6320
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Our firm provides income tax preparation and planning services for individuals, families, C Corporations, S Corporations, LLC Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, domestic partners, for income and deductions generated in California, the United States, and assist taxpayers internationally comply with the USA income tax reporting requirements. Rex Crandell, Esq. also provides services in the area of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Probate Procedures, Advance Healthcare Directives, Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Management, and Advance Health Care Directives.

You can contact Rex Crandell’s offices in Walnut Creek and San Francisco, California
by calling; 1 (800) 464-6595;  or (925) 934 6320, Walnut Creek, California;  or  (415) 982-1110, San Francisco, California

or by e-mail at:    rexcrandell@astound.net

 

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We would be happy to hear from you.

 

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

 

Very truly yours,
/s/ Rex L. Crandell 
Rex L. Crandell. CPA, Esq.

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This newsletter is intended to provide generalized information that is appropriate in certain situations. It is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The contents of this newsletter should not be acted upon without specific professional guidance. Please call us if you have questions.

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TAX NEWS for 2018

…FROM REX CRANDELL’s OFFICE…rlc-smileytjb_-01-10-17_biz_-linkedin-photo-rlc-01-25-17

Newsletter
Our regularly updated newsletter provides timely articles to help you achieve your financial goals. Please come back and visit often.

January 2018

Feature Articles

· 2017 Recap of Tax Provisions for Individuals

· Business Tax Provisions: the Year in Review

· Five Common Budgeting Errors & How to avoid them

· Tax Advantages of Health Savings Accounts

· Tax Reform Update: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Tax Tips

· Retirement Contributions Limits Announced for 2018

· Don’t Forget about College Tax Credits for 2017

· Take Retirement Plan Distributions by December 31

· Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)

· Tips for Taxpayers: Travel Expenses for Charitable Work

Any accounting, business or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.

2017 Recap of Tax Provisions for Individuals

Many of the tax changes affecting individuals and businesses for 2017 were related to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH) that modified or made permanent numerous tax breaks (the so-called “tax extenders”). To further complicate matters, some provisions were only extended through 2016 and are set to expire at the end of this year while others were extended through 2019. With that in mind, here’s what individuals and families need to know about tax provisions for 2017.

Personal Exemptions
The personal and dependent exemption for tax year 2017 is $4,050.

Standard Deductions
The standard deduction for married couples filing a joint return in 2017 is $12,700. For singles and married individuals filing separately, it is $6,350, and for heads of household the deduction is $9,350.

The additional standard deduction for blind people and senior citizens in 2017 is $1,250 for married individuals and $1,550 for singles and heads of household.

Income Tax Rates
In 2017 the top tax rate of 39.6 percent affects individuals whose income exceeds $418,400 ($470,700 for married taxpayers filing a joint return). Marginal tax rates for 2017–10, 15, 25, 28, 33 and 35 percent–remain the same as in prior years.

Due to inflation, tax-bracket thresholds increased for every filing status. For example, the taxable-income threshold separating the 15 percent bracket from the 25 percent bracket is $75,900 for a married couple filing a joint return.

Estate and Gift Taxes
In 2017 there is an exemption of $5.49 million per individual for estate, gift and generation-skipping taxes, with a top tax rate of 40 percent. The annual exclusion for gifts is $14,000.

Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
AMT exemption amounts were made permanent and indexed for inflation retroactive to 2012. In addition, non-refundable personal credits can now be used against the AMT.

For 2017, exemption amounts are $54,300 for single and head of household filers, $84,500 for married people filing jointly and for qualifying widows or widowers, and $42,250 for married people filing separately.

Marriage Penalty Relief
The basic standard deduction for a married couple filing jointly in 2017 is $12,700.

Pease and PEP (Personal Exemption Phaseout)
Pease (limitations on itemized deductions) and PEP (personal exemption phase-out) limitations were made permanent by ATRA (indexed for inflation) and affect taxpayers with income at or above $261,500 for single filers and $313,800 for married filing jointly in tax year 2017.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are limited to $2,600 per year in 2017 (up from $2,550 in 2016) and apply only to salary reduction contributions under a health FSA. The term “taxable year” as it applies to FSAs refers to the plan year of the cafeteria plan, which is typically the period during which salary reduction elections are made.

Specifically, in the case of a plan providing a grace period (which may be up to two months and 15 days), unused salary reduction contributions to the health FSA for plan years beginning in 2012 or later that are carried over into the grace period for that plan year will not count against the $2,600 limit for the subsequent plan year.

Further, employers may allow people to carry over into the next calendar year up to $500 in their accounts, but aren’t required to do so.

Long Term Capital Gains
In 2017 taxpayers in the lower tax brackets (10 and 15 percent) pay zero percent on long-term capital gains. For taxpayers in the middle four tax brackets the rate is 15 percent and for taxpayers whose income is at or above $418,400 ($470,700 married filing jointly), the rate for both capital gains and dividends is capped at 20 percent.

Individuals – Tax Credits

Adoption Credit
In 2017 a nonrefundable (i.e. only those with a lax liability will benefit) credit of up to $13,570 is available for qualified adoption expenses for each eligible child.

Child and Dependent Care Credit
The child and dependent care tax credit was permanently extended for taxable years starting in 2013. If you pay someone to take care of your dependent (defined as being under the age of 13 at the end of the tax year or incapable of self-care) in order to work or look for work, you may qualify for a credit of up to $1,050 or 35 percent of $3,000 of eligible expenses.

For two or more qualifying dependents, you can claim up to 35 percent of $6,000 (or $2,100) of eligible expenses. For higher income earners the credit percentage is reduced, but not below 20 percent, regardless of the amount of adjusted gross income.

Child Tax Credit
For tax year 2017, the child tax credit is $1,000. A portion of the credit may be refundable, which means that you can claim the amount you are owed, even if you have no tax liability for the year. The credit is phased out for those with higher incomes.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
For tax year 2017, the maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low and moderate income workers and working families increased to $6,318 (up from $6,269 in 2016). The maximum income limit for the EITC increased to $53,930 (up from $53,505 in 2016) for married filing jointly. The credit varies by family size, filing status, and other factors, with the maximum credit going to joint filers with three or more qualifying children.

Individuals – Education Expenses

Coverdell Education Savings Account
You can contribute up to $2,000 a year to Coverdell savings accounts in 2017. These accounts can be used to offset the cost of elementary and secondary education, as well as post-secondary education.

American Opportunity Tax Credit
For 2017, the maximum American Opportunity Tax Credit that can be used to offset certain higher education expenses is $2,500 per student, although it is phased out beginning at $160,000 adjusted gross income for joint filers and $80,000 for other filers.

Employer-Provided Educational Assistance
In 2017, as an employee, you can exclude up to $5,250 of qualifying post-secondary and graduate education expenses that are reimbursed by your employer.

Lifetime Learning Credit
A credit of up to $2,000 is available for an unlimited number of years for certain costs of post-secondary or graduate courses or courses to acquire or improve your job skills. For 2017, the modified adjusted gross income threshold at which the lifetime learning credit begins to phase out is $112,000 for joint filers and $56,000 for singles and heads of household.

Student Loan Interest
In 2017 you can deduct up to $2,500 in student-loan interest as long as your modified adjusted gross income is less than $65,000 (single) or $135,000 (married filing jointly). The deduction is phased out at higher income levels. In addition, the deduction is claimed as an adjustment to income, so you do not need to itemize your deductions.

Individuals – Retirement

Contribution Limits
For 2017, 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 $18,000 (same as 2016). For persons age 50 or older in 2017, the limit is $24,000 ($6,000 catch-up contribution). Contribution limits for SIMPLE plans remain at $12,500 (same as 2016) for persons under age 50 and $15,500 for anyone age 50 or older in 2017. The maximum compensation used to determine contributions increased from $265,000 to $270,000.

Saver’s Credit
In 2017, the adjusted gross income limit for the saver’s credit (also known as the retirement savings contributions credit) for low-and-moderate-income workers is $62,000 for married couples filing jointly, $46,500 for heads of household, and $31,000 for married individuals filing separately and for singles.

Please call if you need help understanding which deductions and tax credits you are entitled to.

Business Tax Provisions: the Year in Review

Whether you file as a corporation or sole proprietor here’s what business owners need to know about tax changes for 2017.

Standard Mileage Rates
The standard mileage rates in 2017 are as follows: 53.5 cents per business mile driven, 17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, and 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

Health Care Tax Credit for Small Businesses
Small business employers who pay at least half the premiums for single health insurance coverage for their employees may be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit as long as they employ fewer than the equivalent of 25 full-time workers and average annual wages do not exceed $52,000 (adjusted annually for inflation). In 2017 this amount is $52,400.

In 2017 (as in 2016, 2015, and 2014), the tax credit is worth up to 50 percent of your contribution toward employees’ premium costs (up to 35 percent for tax-exempt employers). For tax years 2010 through 2013, the maximum credit was 35 percent for small business employers and 25 percent for small tax-exempt employers such as charities.

Section 179 Expensing and Depreciation

The Section 179 expense deduction was made permanent at $510,000 by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH). For equipment purchases, the maximum deduction is $500,000 of the first $2.03 million of qualifying equipment placed in service during the current tax year. The deduction is phased out dollar for dollar on amounts exceeding the $2 million threshold amount (indexed for inflation) and eliminated above amounts exceeding $2.5 million. In addition, Section 179 is now indexed to inflation in increments of $10,000 for future tax years.

The 50 percent bonus depreciation has been extended through 2019. Businesses are able to depreciate 50 percent of the cost of equipment acquired and placed in service during 2015, 2016 and 2017. However, the bonus depreciation is reduced to 40 percent in 2018 and 30 percent in 2019. The standard business depreciation amount is 25 cents per mile.

Please call if you have any questions about Section 179 expensing and the bonus depreciation.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)

Extended through 2019, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit has been modified and enhanced for employers who hire long-term unemployed individuals (unemployed for 27 weeks or more) and is generally equal to 40 percent of the first $6,000 of wages paid to a new hire. Please call if you have any questions about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

SIMPLE IRA Plan Contributions
Contribution limits for SIMPLE IRA plans increased to $12,500 for persons under age 50 and $15,500 for persons age 50 or older in 2017. The maximum compensation used to determine contributions increases to $270,000.

Please contact the office if you need help understanding which deductions and tax credits you are entitled to.

Five Common Budgeting Errors & How to avoid them

When it comes to creating a budget, it’s essential to estimate your spending as realistically as possible. Here are five budget-related errors commonly made by small businesses and some tips for avoiding them.

1. Not Setting Goals. It’s almost impossible to set spending priorities without clear goals for the coming year. It’s important to identify, in detail, your business and financial goals and what you want or need to achieve in your business.

2. Underestimating Costs. Every business has ancillary or incidental costs that don’t always make it into the budget–for whatever reason. A good example of this is buying a new piece of equipment or software. While you probably accounted for the cost of the equipment in your budget, you might not have remembered to budget time and money needed to train staff or for equipment maintenance.

3. Forgetting about Tax Obligations. While your financial statements may seem adequate, don’t forget to set aside enough money for tax (e.g., sales and use tax, payroll tax) owed to state, local, and federal entities. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is “money in the bank” and use it to pay for expenses you can’t really afford or worse, including it in next year’s budget and later finding out that you don’t have the cash to pay for your tax obligations.

4. Assuming Revenue Equals Positive Cash Flow. Revenue on the books doesn’t always equate to cash in hand. Just because you’ve closed the deal, it may be a long time before you are paid for your services and the money is in your bank account. Easier said than done, perhaps, but don’t spend money that you don’t have.

5. Failing to Adjust Your Budget. Don’t be afraid to update your forecasted expenditures whenever new circumstances affect your business. Several times a year you should set aside time to compare budget estimates against the amount you actually spent, and then adjust your budget accordingly.

Please call if you need assistance setting up a budget to meet your business financial goals.

Tax Advantages of Health Savings Accounts

While similar to FSAs (Flexible Savings Plans) in that both allow pre-tax contributions, Health Savings Accounts or HSAs offer taxpayers several additional tax benefits such as contributions that roll over from year to year (i.e., no “use it or lose it”), tax-free interest on earnings, and when used for qualified medical expenses, tax-free distributions.

What is a Health Savings Account?

A Health Savings Account is a type of savings account that allows you to set aside money pre-tax to pay for qualified medical expenses. Contributions that you make to a Health Savings Account (HSA) are used to pay current or future medical expenses (including after you’ve retired) of the account owner, his or her spouse, and any qualified dependent.

Caution: Medical expenses that are reimbursable by insurance or other sources and do not qualify for the medical expense deduction on a federal income tax return are not eligible.

Caution: Insurance premiums for taxpayers younger than age 65 are generally not considered qualified medical expenses unless the premiums are for health care continuation coverage (such as coverage under COBRA), health care coverage while receiving unemployment compensation under federal or state law.

You cannot be covered by other health insurance with the exception of insurance for accidents, disability, dental care, vision care, or long-term care and you cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return. Spouses cannot open joint HSAs. Each spouse who is an eligible individual who wants an HSA must open a separate HSA.

An HSA can be opened through your bank or another financial institution. Contributions to an HSA must be made in cash. Contributions of stock or property are not allowed. As an employee may be able to elect to have money set aside and deposited directly into an HSA account; however, if this option is not offered by your employer, then you must wait until filing a tax return to claim the HSA contributions as a deduction.

High Deductible Health Plans.

A Health Savings Account can only be used if you have a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). Typically, high-deductible health plans have lower monthly premiums than plans with lower deductibles, but you pay more health care costs yourself before the insurance company starts to pay its share (your deductible).

A high-deductible plan can be combined with a health savings account, allowing you to pay for certain medical expenses with tax-free money that you have set aside. By using the pre-tax funds in your HSA to pay for qualified medical expenses before you reach your deductible and other out-of-pocket costs such as copayments, you reduce your overall health care costs.

Calendar year 2018. For calendar year 2018, a qualifying HDHP must have a deductible of at least $1,350 for self-only coverage or $2,700 for family coverage. Annual out-of-pocket expenses (e.g., deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance) of the beneficiary are limited to $6,650 for self-only coverage and $13,300 for family coverage. This limit doesn’t apply to deductibles and expenses for out-of-network services if the plan uses a network of providers. Instead, only deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for services within the network should be used to figure whether the limit applies.

Last month rule. Under the last-month rule, you are considered to be an eligible individual for the entire year if you are an eligible individual on the first day of the last month of your tax year (December 1 for most taxpayers).

You can make contributions to your HSA for 2017 until April 17, 2018. Your employer can make contributions to your HSA between January 1, 2018, and April 17, 2018, that are allocated to 2017. The contribution will be reported on your 2018 Form W-2.

Summary of HSA Tax Advantages

· Tax deductible. You can claim a tax deduction for contributions you, or someone other than your employer, make to your HSA even if you don’t itemize your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040).

· Pre-tax dollars. Contributions to your HSA made by your employer (including contributions made through a cafeteria plan) may be excluded from your gross income.

· Tax-free interest on earnings. Contributions remain in your account until you use them and are rolled over year after year. Any interest or other earnings on the assets in the account are tax-free. Furthermore, an HSA is “portable” and stays with you if you change employers or leave the workforce.

· Tax-free distributions. Distributions may be tax-free if you pay qualified medical expenses.

· Additional contributions for older workers. Employees, aged 55 years and older are able to save an additional $1,000 per year.

· Tax-free after retirement. Distributions are tax-free at age 65 when used for qualified medical expenses including amounts used to pay Medicare Part B and Part D premiums, and long-term care insurance policy premiums. However, you cannot use money in an HSA to pay for supplemental insurance (e.g., Medigap) premiums.

Questions about HSAs? Don’t hesitate to call.

Tax Reform Update: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Please note that the information presented below is current as of press time and will be updated as information becomes available.

At nearly 500 pages and counting, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill (H.R. 1) is the first significant tax reform effort undertaken by Congress in more than 30 years. If the proposed tax reform becomes legislation, these tax changes will affect everyone from individual taxpayers to business owners and educational institutions.

Individuals

Tax Brackets. The number of tax brackets is reduced to four (currently there are seven): 12%, 25%, 35% and 39.6%.

For individuals, the following tax rates apply:

· 12% up to $45,000

· 25% up to $200,000

· 35% up to $500,000

· 39.6% over $500,000

For married couples filing jointly, the following rates apply:

· 12% up to $90,000

· 25% up to $260,000

· 35% up to $1 million

· 39.6% over $1 million

Standard Deduction. The standard deduction increases to from $6,350 (2017) to $12,000 for individuals and from $12,700 (2017) to $24,000 for married couples.

Personal Exemption. The deduction for personal exemptions is repealed.

Child Tax Credit. The Child Tax Credit increases to $2,000 from the current $1,000. An additional $500 credit is provided for each non-child dependent. Also, Social Security numbers for children are required before claiming the enhanced credit.

Alternative Minimum Tax. The AMT remains but with increased threshold amounts, affecting fewer taxpayers.

Capital Gains and Dividends. The maximum tax rate remains at 23.8% (20% plus the 3.8% Medicare tax for taxpayers with income above $200,000 or $250,000 married filing jointly).

Estate Tax. The exemption (currently $5.5 million) immediately doubles to $11.2 million and remains at this level for the next six years, after which time the estate tax is eliminated completely (tax year 2025 and beyond).

Education Tax Credits. Coverdell plans (Section 530 Program) are eliminated and 529 Savings Plans are expanded to allow some funds to be used for K-12 education. Rollovers to Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Sec. 529A accounts will be allowed as well.

Mortgage Interest Deduction. Remains but with a few changes such as allowing interest deduction for up to $500,000 (currently $1 million) in mortgage principal on new homes. Existing mortgages are grandfathered in.

State and Local Income Tax Deduction. Preserved. Deduction allowed for up to $10,000 a year in state and local property taxes; however, taxpayers would no longer be able to deduct state and local income or sales taxes.

Charitable Contributions. Deductions for charitable donations remain.

Medical Expense Deductions. The Medical expense deduction (currently 10% of AGI) is temporarily lowered to 7.5% of income for tax years 2017 and 2018.

Student Loan Interest Deduction. Repealed.

Miscellaneous Deductions. Many are repealed including those relating to tax preparation, alimony payments, and moving expenses with the exception of the moving expense reimbursement for members of the Armed Forces on active duty who move because of a military order.

Adoption Tax Credit. Remains.

Electric Vehicles. The $7,500 tax credit for the purchase of electric vehicles is eliminated.

Businesses

Corporate Tax Rate. Reduced to 20% from 35%.

Territorial Taxation. Companies with offshore earnings, currently taxed at a 35% rate, would transition to a territorial tax system. Under the tax reform bill income derived from offshore earnings, if repatriated, would be subject to an effective tax rate of 14% for earnings held in liquid assets and 7% for illiquid assets.

Business Interest. Small businesses retain the ability to write off interest on loans.

Business Expensing. Businesses would be allowed to immediately write off the full cost of new equipment.

Business Entertainment Expenses Deduction. The deduction for business entertainment expenses is eliminated.

Pass-through Entities. The tax rate on pass-through business entities is reduced to a maximum of 25%. Furthermore, a 9% tax rate (vs. the 12% tax rate currently in place) now applies for the first $75,000 ($37,500 for single filers and $56,250 for heads of household) in pass-through business income of an active owner or shareholder earning less than $150,000. The threshold amount is $75,000 for single filers and $112,500 for heads of household. This 9% rate applies to all businesses (subject to the $75,000 income ceiling) and is phased in at 11% for 2018 and 2019, 10% for 2020 and 2021 and 9% for tax year 2022 and beyond.

Low-income Housing Tax Credit. Remains.

Research & Development Tax Credit. Remains.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Repealed.

Endowment Assets. A 1.4% excise tax is imposed on investment income derived from endowment funds at private schools (colleges and universities). An exclusion is provided for an institution whose endowment (fair market value) is less than $250,000 per student.

Retirement Contributions Limits Announced for 2018

Cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for the tax year 2018 have been announced by the IRS. Here are the highlights:

In general, income ranges for determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), to contribute to Roth IRAs, and to claim the saver’s credit all increased for 2018. In addition, the 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 $18,000 to $18,500. However, contribution limits for SIMPLE retirement accounts for self-employed persons remains unchanged at $12,500.

Traditional IRAs

Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions; however, if during the year either the taxpayer or their spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be reduced, or phased out, until it is eliminated, depending on filing status and income. If neither the taxpayer nor their spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work, the phase-out amounts of the deduction do not apply. Here are the phase-out ranges for 2018:

· For single taxpayers covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $63,000 to $73,000, up from $62,000 to $72,000.

· For married couples filing jointly, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $101,000 to $121,000, up from $99,000 to $119,000.

· 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 $189,000 and $199,000, up from $186,000 and $196,000.

· 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.

Roth IRAs

The income phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $120,000 to $135,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $118,000 to $133,000. For married couples filing jointly, the income phase-out range is $189,000 to $199,000, up from $186,000 to $196,000. The phase-out range for a married individual filing a separate return who makes contributions to a Roth IRA is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

Saver’s Credit

The income limit for the Saver’s Credit (also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit) for low- and moderate-income workers is $63,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $62,000; $47,250 for heads of household, up from $46,500; and $31,500 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up from $31,000.

Limitations that remain unchanged from 2017

· 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 remains unchanged at $6,000.

· The limit on annual contributions to an 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.

Don’t Forget about College Tax Credits for 2017

With another school year in full swing, now is a good time for parents and students to see if they qualify for either of two college tax credits or other education-related tax benefits when they file their 2017 federal income tax returns next year.

American Opportunity Tax Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit. In general, the American Opportunity Tax Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit is available to taxpayers who pay qualifying expenses for an eligible student. Eligible students include the taxpayer, spouse, and dependents. The American Opportunity Tax Credit provides a credit for each eligible student, while the Lifetime Learning Credit provides a maximum credit per tax return.

Though a taxpayer often qualifies for both of these credits, he or she can only claim one of them for a particular student in a particular year. To claim these credits on their tax return, the taxpayer must file Form 1040 or 1040A and complete Form 8863, Education Credits.

The credits apply to eligible students enrolled in an eligible college, university or vocational school, including both nonprofit and for-profit institutions. The credits are subject to income limits that could reduce the amount taxpayers can claim on their tax return.

Normally, a student will receive a Form 1098-T from their institution by January 31, 2018. This form shows information about tuition paid or billed along with other information. However, amounts shown on this form may differ from amounts taxpayers are eligible to claim for these tax credits.

Many of those eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit qualify for the maximum annual credit of $2,500 per student. Students can claim this credit for qualified education expenses paid during the entire tax year for a certain number of years:

· The credit is only available for four tax years per eligible student.

· The credit is available only if the student has not completed the first four years of post-secondary education before 2017.

Here are some more key features of the credit:

· Qualified education expenses are amounts paid for tuition, fees and other related expenses for an eligible student. Other expenses, such as room and board, are not qualified expenses.

· The credit equals 100 percent of the first $2,000 spent and 25 percent of the next $2,000. That means the full $2,500 credit may be available to a taxpayer who pays $4,000 or more in qualified expenses for an eligible student.

· Forty percent of the American Opportunity Tax Credit is refundable. This means that even people who owe no tax can get a payment of up to $1,000 for each eligible student.

· The full credit can only be claimed by taxpayers whose modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is $80,000 or less. For married couples filing a joint return, the limit is $160,000. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with incomes above these levels. No credit can be claimed by joint filers whose MAGI is $180,000 or more, and singles, heads of household and some widows and widowers whose MAGI is $90,000 or more.

Lifetime Learning Credit. The Lifetime Learning Credit of up to $2,000 per tax return is available for both graduate and undergraduate students. Unlike the American Opportunity Tax Credit, the limit on the Lifetime Learning Credit applies to each tax return, rather than to each student. Also, the Lifetime Learning Credit does not provide a benefit to people who owe no tax.

Though the half-time student requirement does not apply to the lifetime learning credit, the course of study must be either part of a post-secondary degree program or taken by the student to maintain or improve job skills. Other features of the credit include:

· Tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance qualify as do other fees required for the course. Additional expenses do not.

· The credit equals 20 percent of the amount spent on eligible expenses across all students on the return. That means the full $2,000 credit is only available to a taxpayer who pays $10,000 or more in qualifying tuition and fees and has sufficient tax liability.

· Income limits are lower than under the American Opportunity Tax Credit. To claim the full credit for 2017 your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) must be $80,000 or less ($160,000 or less for married filing jointly). You receive a reduced amount of the credit if your MAGI is over $80,000 but less than $90,000 (over $160,000 but less than $180,000 for married filing jointly). You cannot claim the credit if your MAGI is over $90,000 ($180,000 for joint filers). For most taxpayers, MAGI is adjusted gross income (AGI) as figured on their federal income tax return.

Eligible parents and students can get the benefit of these credits during the year by having less tax taken out of their paychecks. They can do this by filling out a new Form W-4 with their employer to claim additional withholding allowances.

There are a variety of other education-related tax benefits that can help many taxpayers. They include:

· Scholarship and fellowship grants–generally tax-free if used to pay for tuition, required enrollment fees, books, and other course materials, but taxable if used for room, board, research, travel or other expenses.

· Tuition and fees deduction claimed on Form 8917–for some, a worthwhile alternative to the American Opportunity Tax Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit.

· Student loan interest deduction of up to $2,500 per year.

· Savings bonds used to pay for college–though income limits apply, interest is usually tax-free if bonds were purchased after 1989 by a taxpayer who, at time of purchase, was at least 24 years old.

· Qualified tuition programs, also called 529 plans, used by many families to prepay or save for a child’s college education.

Taxpayers with qualifying children who are students up to age 24 may be able to claim a dependent exemption and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

If you have any questions about college tax credits, please contact the office.

Take Retirement Plan Distributions by December 31

Taxpayers born before July 1, 1947, generally must receive payments from their individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans by December 31.

Known as required minimum distributions (RMDs), typically these distributions must be made by the end of the tax year, in this case, 2017. The required distribution rules apply to owners of traditional, Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) and Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees (SIMPLE) IRAs but not Roth IRAs while the original owner is alive. They also apply to participants in various workplace retirement plans, including 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans.

An IRA trustee must either report the amount of the RMD to the IRA owner or offer to calculate it for the owner. Often, the trustee shows the RMD amount on Form 5498 in Box 12b. For a 2017 RMD, this amount is on the 2016 Form 5498 normally issued to the owner during January 2017.

A special rule allows first-year recipients of these payments, those who reached age 70 1/2 during 2017, to wait until as late as April 1, 2018, to receive their first RMDs. What this means that those born after June 30, 1946, and before July 1, 1947, are eligible. The advantage of this special rule is that although payments made to these taxpayers in early 2018 can be counted toward their 2017 RMD, they are taxable in 2018.

The special April 1 deadline only applies to the RMD for the first year. For all subsequent years, the RMD must be made by December 31. So, for example, a taxpayer who turned 70 1/2 in 2016 (born after June 30, 1945, and before July 1, 1946) and received the first RMD (for 2016) on April 1, 2017, must still receive a second RMD (for 2017) by December 31, 2017.

The RMD for 2017 is based on the taxpayer’s life expectancy on December 31, 2017, and their account balance on December 31, 2016. The trustee reports the year-end account value to the IRA owner on Form 5498 in Box 5. For most taxpayers, the RMD is based on Table III (Uniform Lifetime Table) in IRS Publication 590-B. For a taxpayer who turned 72 in 2017, the required distribution would be based on a life expectancy of 25.6 years. A separate table, Table II, applies to a taxpayer whose spouse is more than ten years younger and is the taxpayer’s only beneficiary. If you need assistance with this, don’t hesitate to call.

Though the RMD rules are mandatory for all owners of traditional, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs and participants in workplace retirement plans, some people in workplace plans can wait longer to receive their RMDs. Usually, employees who are still working can, if their plan allows, wait until April 1 of the year after they retire to start receiving these distributions; however, there may be a tax on excess accumulations. Employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations with 403(b) plan accruals before 1987 should check with their employer, plan administrator or provider to see how to treat these accruals.

For more information on RMDs, please call.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)

Flexible Spending Accounts or FSAs provide employees a way to use tax-free dollars to pay medical expenses not covered by other health plans. Because eligible employees need to decide how much to contribute through payroll deductions before the plan year begins, now is when many employers are offering employees the option to participate during the 2018 plan year.

Interested employees who wish to contribute to an FSA during the new year must make this choice again for 2018, even if they contributed in 2017. Self-employed individuals are not eligible.

An employee who chooses to participate can contribute up to $2,650 during the 2018 plan year (up from $2,600 in 2017). Amounts contributed are not subject to federal income tax, Social Security tax or Medicare tax. If the plan allows, the employer may also contribute to an employee’s FSA.

Throughout the year, employees can then use funds to pay qualified medical expenses not covered by their health plan, including co-pays, deductibles and a variety of medical products and services ranging from dental and vision care to eyeglasses and hearing aids. Interested employees should check with their employer for details about eligible expenses and claim procedures.

Under the use or lose provision, participating employees must often incur eligible expenses by the end of the plan year, or forfeit any unspent amounts. But under a special rule, employers may, if they choose, offer participating employees more time through either the carryover option or the grace period option.

Under the carryover option, an employee can carry over up to $500 of unused funds to the following plan year–for example, an employee with $500 of unspent funds at the end of 2018 would still have those funds available to use in 2019. Under the grace period option, an employee has until 2 1/2 months after the end of the plan year to incur eligible expenses–for example, March 15, 2019, for a plan year ending on December 31, 2018. Employers can offer either option, but not both, or none at all.

Employers are not required to offer FSAs. Accordingly, interested employees should check with their employer to see if they offer an FSA. Please call if you have any questions about how FSA contributions affect your taxes.

Tips for Taxpayers: Travel Expenses for Charitable Work

Do you plan to donate your time to charity this holiday season? If travel is part of your charitable giving, for example, driving your personal auto to collect donations from local business, you may be able to these travel expenses on your tax return and lower your tax bill. Here are five tax tips you should know if you travel while giving your services to charity.

1. Qualified Charities. To be able to deduct your costs, your volunteer work must be for a qualified charity. Most groups must apply to the IRS to become qualified. Churches and governments are generally qualified and do not need to apply to the IRS. Ask the group about its status before you donate. You can also use the “Exempt Organizations Select Check” search tool on IRS.gov to check a group’s status or call the office.

2. Out-of-Pocket Expenses. You can’t deduct the value of your services that you give to charity. But you may be able to deduct some out-of-pocket costs you pay to give your services. This can include the cost of travel, but they must be necessary while you are away from home. All 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.

3. Genuine and Substantial Duty. Your charity work has to be real and substantial throughout the trip. You can’t deduct expenses if you only have nominal duties or do not have any duties for significant parts of the trip.

4. Value of Time or Service. You can’t deduct the value of your time or services that you give to charity. This includes income lost while you serve as an unpaid volunteer for a qualified charity.

5. Travel You Can Deduct. The types of expenses that you may be able to deduct include Air, rail and bus transportation, car expenses, lodging costs, cost of meals, and taxi or other transportation costs between the airport or station and your hotel.

6. Travel You Can’t Deduct. Some types of travel do not qualify for a tax deduction. For example, you can’t deduct your costs if a significant part of the trip involves recreation or vacation.

Don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions about travel expenses related to charitable work.

Tax Due Dates for December 2017

December 11

Employees who work for tips – If you received $20 or more in tips during November, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

December 15

Corporations – Deposit the fourth installment of estimated income tax for 2017. A worksheet, Form 1120-W, is available to help you estimate your tax for the year.

Employers Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax – If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in November.

Employers Non-payroll withholding – If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in November.

Copyright © 2017 All materials contained in this document are protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. All other trade names, trademarks, registered trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.

…FROM REX CRANDELL’s OFFICE …

Rex Crandell Firm
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                  Income Tax Newsletter

February 2017 rlc-smileytjb_-01-10-17_biz_-linkedin-photo-rlc-01-25-17

from Rex Crandell’s Tax Office

Walnut Creek and San Francisco.

 February 2017

 

Who Should File a 2016 Tax Return?

Most people file a tax return because they have to, but even if you don’t, there are times when you should–because you might be eligible for a tax refund and not know it. The six tax tips below should help you determine whether you’re one of them.

  1. General Filing Rules. Whether you need to file a tax return this year depends on several factors. In most cases, the amount of your income, your filing status, and your age determine whether you must file a tax return. For example, if you’re single and 28 years old you must file if your income, was at least $10,350. Other rules may apply if you’re self-employed or if you’re a dependent of another person. There are also other cases when you must file. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call.
  2. Premium Tax Credit.If you bought health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace in 2016, you might be eligible for the Premium Tax Credit; however, you will need to file a return to claim the credit.

If you purchased coverage from the Marketplace in 2016 and chose to have advance payments of the premium tax credit sent directly to your insurer during the year, you must file a federal tax return. You will reconcile any advance payments with the allowable premium tax credit.

You should have received Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, by early February. The new form has information that helps you file your tax return and reconcile any advance payments with the allowable Premium Tax Credit.

  1. Tax Withheld or Paid. Did your employer withhold federal income tax from your pay? Did you make estimated tax payments? Did you overpay last year and have it applied to this year’s tax? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you could be due a refund. But you have to file a tax return to get it.
  2. Earned Income Tax Credit. Did you work and earn less than $53,505 last year? You could receive EITC as a tax refund if you qualify with or without a qualifying child. You may be eligible for up to $6,269. If you qualify, file a tax return to claim it.
  3. Additional Child Tax Credit. Do you have at least one child that qualifies for the Child Tax Credit? If you don’t get the full credit amount, you may qualify for the Additional Child Tax Credit.
  4. American Opportunity Credit.The AOTC (up to $2,500 per eligible student) is available for four years of post-secondary education. You or your dependent must have been a student enrolled at least half-time for at least one academic period. Even if you don’t owe any taxes, you still may qualify; however, you must complete Form 8863, Education Credits, and file a return to claim the credit.

Which Tax Form is Right for You?

You can generally use Form 1040EZ if:

  • Your taxable income is below $100,000;
  • Your filing status is single or married filing jointly;
  • You don’t claim dependents; and
  • Your interest income is $1,500 or less.

Note: You can’t use Form 1040EZ to claim the new Premium Tax Credit. You also can’t use this form if you received advance payments of this credit in 2016.

Form 1040A may be best for you if:

  • Your taxable income is below $100,000;
  • You have capital gain distributions;
  • You claim certain tax credits; and
  • You claim adjustments to income for IRA contributions and student loan interest.

You must use Form 1040 if:

  • Your taxable income is $100,000 or more;
  • You claim itemized deductions;
  • You report self-employment income; or
  • You report income from sale of a property.

Questions?

Help is just a phone call away. Call or make an appointment today and get the answers you need right now.

 

IRS Tax Scams 2017: FAQs

As tax season approaches, taxpayers are reminded to be on the lookout for an array of evolving tax scams related to identity theft and refund fraud. Every year scam artists look for new ways to trick taxpayers out of their hard-earned money, sensitive financial information or even access to their computers. It seems that no matter how careful you are there’s always a possibility that identity thieves could steal your personal information and try to cash in by filing fraudulent tax returns in your name.

Here’s what you need to know this year:

Which tax scams should I be on the lookout for this tax season?

This tax season some of the most prevalent IRS-impersonation scams include:

Requesting fake tax payments: The IRS has seen automated calls where scammers leave urgent callback requests telling taxpayers to call back to settle their “tax bill.” These fake calls generally claim to be the last warning before legal action is taken. Taxpayers may also receive live calls from IRS impersonators. They may demand payments on prepaid debit cards, iTunes and other gift cards or wire transfer. The IRS reminds taxpayers that any request to settle a tax bill using any of these payment methods is a clear indication of a scam.

Targeting students and parents and demanding payment for a fake “Federal Student Tax”: Telephone scammers are targeting students and parents demanding payments for fictitious taxes, such as the “Federal Student Tax.” If the person does not comply, the scammer becomes aggressive and threatens to report the student to the police to be arrested.

Sending a fraudulent IRS bill for tax year 2015 related to the Affordable Care Act: The IRS has received numerous reports around the country of scammers sending a fraudulent version of CP2000 notices for tax year 2015. Generally, the scam involves an email or letter that includes the fake CP2000. The fraudulent notice includes a payment request that taxpayers mail a check made out to “I.R.S.” to the “Austin Processing Center” at a Post Office Box address.

Soliciting W-2 information from payroll and human resources professionals: Payroll and human resources professionals should be aware of phishing email schemes that pretend to be from company executives and request personal information on employees. The email contains the actual name of the company chief executive officer. In this scam, the “CEO” sends an email to a company payroll office employee and requests a list of employees and financial and personal information including Social Security numbers (SSN).

Imitating software providers to trick tax professionals: Tax professionals may receive emails pretending to be from tax software companies. The email scheme requests the recipient to download and install an important software update via a link included in the e-mail. Upon completion, tax professionals believe they have downloaded a software update when in fact they have loaded a program designed to track the tax professional’s keystrokes, which is a common tactic used by cyber thieves to steal login information, passwords and other sensitive data.

“Verifying” tax return information over the phone: Scam artists call saying they have your tax return, and they just need to verify a few details to process your return. The scam tries to get you to give up personal information such as a Social Security number (SSN) or personal financial information, including bank numbers or credit cards.

Pretending to be from the tax preparation industry: The emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. The phishing schemes can ask taxpayers about a wide range of topics. E-mails or text messages can seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.

What are the signs of identity theft?

Here are six signs that could indicate that you may be a victim of tax-related identity theft:

  1. Your attempt to file your tax return electronically is rejected. You get a message saying a return with a duplicate Social Security number has been filed. First, check to make sure you did not transpose any numbers. Also, make sure one of your dependents, for example, your college-age child, did not file a tax return and claim themselves. If your information is accurate, and you still can’t successfully e-file because of a duplicate SSN, you may be a victim of identity theft. You should complete Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. Attach it to the top of a paper tax return and mail to the IRS.
  2. You receive a letter from the IRS asking you to verify whether you sent a tax return bearing your name and SSN. The IRS holds suspicious tax returns and sends taxpayers letters to verify them. If you did not file the tax return, follow the instructions in the IRS letter immediately.
  3. You receive income information at tax time from an employer unknown to you. Employment-related identity theft involves the use of your SSN by someone, generally an undocumented worker, for employment purposes only.
  4. You receive a tax refund that you did not request. You may receive a paper refund check by mail that the thief intended to have sent elsewhere. If you receive a tax refund you did not request, return it to the IRS. Write “VOID” in the endorsement section, and include a note on why you are returning it. If it is a direct deposit refund that you did not request, contact your bank and ask them to return it to the IRS.
  5. You receive a tax transcript by mail that you did not request. Identity thieves sometimes try to test the validity of the personal data they have chosen, or they attempt to use your data to steal even more information. If you receive a tax transcript in the mail and you did not request it, be alert to the possibility of identity theft.
  6. You receive a reloadable, prepaid debit card in the mail that you did not request. Identity thieves sometimes use your name and address to create an account for a reloadable prepaid debit card that they use for various schemes, including tax-related identity theft.

What are tax preparers and other tax professionals doing to protect my financial data?

Unfortunately, tax professionals are increasingly targets of cyber criminals seeking access to client data now as well. Criminals use this stolen information to file fraudulent tax returns for refunds; however, tax preparers and other tax professionals are able to protect their clients–and themselves in the event of a data breach by implementing critical steps such as:

Contacting the IRS and law enforcement:

Report client data theft to your local IRS Stakeholder Liaison. Liaisons will notify IRS Criminal Investigation and others within the agency on your behalf. Speed is critical. If reported quickly, the IRS can take steps to block fraudulent returns in your clients’ names. Contact local police to file a police report on the data breach, as well as the local FBI office and Secret Service (if directed).

Contacting states in which you prepare state returns:

Contacting the tax agency in each state in which you prepare returnsContact the State Attorneys General in each state in which you prepare returns. Most states require that the attorney general is notified of data breaches. This notification process may involve multiple offices.

Contacting experts:

Security experts can determine the cause and scope of the breach, what to do to stop the breach and prevent further breaches from occurring. A data breach should also be reported to your insurance company to determine if your insurance policy covers data breach mitigation expenses.

Contacting clients and other services:

  • The Federal Trade Commission offers tips and templates for businesses that suffer data compromise, including suggested language for informing clients.
  • Send an individual letter to any clients who have been a victim of a data breach to inform them of the breach but work with law enforcement on timing. Remember that you may need to contact former clients if their prior year data was still in your system.
  • Notify your tax software provider who may need to take steps to prevent inappropriate use of your account for e-filing.
  • It’s possible that your firm and client passwords may have been compromised and need to be reset, so it’s important to contact your website and/or client portal provider(s).
  • The Federal Trade Commission offers tips and templates for businesses that suffer data compromise, including suggested language for informing clients.
  • If required, notify a credit and/or ID theft protection agency. Certain states require offering credit monitoring and ID theft protection to victims of ID theft.
  • Notify credit bureaus if there is a compromise. Clients may seek their services.

What should I do if I’ve received a suspicious phone call or email from someone claiming to be from the IRS?

If you receive an unexpected call, unsolicited email, letter or text message from someone claiming to be from the IRS, be advised that the IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer or initiate contact by email or text message. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

If you get a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Search the web for telephone numbers scammers leave in your voicemail asking you to call back. Some of the phone numbers may be published online and linked to criminal activity.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page or call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
  • If you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), report it by sending it to phishing@irs.gov.

If you have any questions or believe that you’ve been a victim of an IRS tax scam, don’t hesitate to call.

 

Five Ways to Improve your Financial Situation

If you are having trouble paying your debts, it is important to take action sooner rather than later. Doing nothing leads to much larger problems in the future, whether it’s a bad credit record or bankruptcy resulting in the loss of assets and even your home. If you’re in financial trouble, then here are some steps to take to avoid financial ruin in the future.

If you’ve accumulated a large amount of debt and are having difficulty paying your bills each month, now is the time to take action–before the bill collectors start calling.

  1. Review each debt.Make sure that the debt creditors claim you owe is really what you owe and that the amount is correct. If you dispute a debt, first contact the creditor directly to resolve your questions. If you still have questions about the debt, contact your state or local consumer protection office or, in cases of serious creditor abuse, your state Attorney General.
  2. Contact your creditors.Let your creditors know you are having difficulty making your payments. Tell them why you are having trouble, perhaps it is because you recently lost your job or have unexpected medical bills. Try to work out an acceptable payment schedule with your creditors. Most are willing to work with you and will appreciate your honesty and forthrightness.

Tip: Most automobile financing agreements permit your creditor to repossess your car any time you are in default, with no advance notice. If your car is repossessed you may have to pay the full balance due on the loan, as well as towing and storage costs, to get it back. Do not wait until you are in default. Try to solve the problem with your creditor when you realize you will not be able to meet your payments. It may be better to sell the car yourself and pay off your debt than to incur the added costs of repossession.

  1. Budget your expenses.Create a spending plan that allows you to reduce your debts. Itemize your necessary expenses (such as housing and healthcare) and optional expenses (such as entertainment and vacation travel). Stick to the plan.
  2. Try to reduce your expenses.Cut out any unnecessary spending such as eating out and purchasing expensive entertainment. Consider taking public transportation or using a car sharing service rather than owning a car. Clip coupons, purchase generic products at the supermarket and avoid impulse purchases. Above all, stop incurring new debt. Leave your credit cards at home. Pay for all purchases in cash or use a debit card instead of a credit card.
  3. Pay down and consolidate your debts.Withdrawing savings from low-interest accounts to settle high-rate loans or credit card debt usually makes sense. In addition, there are a number of ways to pay off high-interest loans, such as credit cards, by getting a refinancing or consolidation loan, such as a second mortgage.

Tip: Selling off a second car not only provides cash but also reduces insurance and other maintenance expenses.

Caution: Be wary of any loan consolidations or other refinancing that actually increase interest owed, or require payments of points or large fees.

Caution: Second mortgages greatly increase the risk that you may lose your home.

You can regain financial health if you act responsibly. But don’t wait until bankruptcy court is your only option. If you’re having financial troubles, don’t hesitate to call.

 

Claiming an Elderly Parent or Relative as a Dependent

Are you taking care of an elderly parent or relative? Whether it’s driving to doctor appointments, paying for nursing home care or medical expenses, or handling their personal finances, dealing with an elderly parent or relative can be emotionally and financially draining, especially when you are taking care of your own family as well.

Fortunately, there is some good news: You may be able to claim your elderly relative as a dependent come tax time, as long as you meet certain criteria. Here’s what you should know about claiming an elderly parent or relative as a dependent:

Who Qualifies as a Dependent?

The IRS defines a dependent as a qualifying child or relative. A qualifying relative can be your mother, father, grandparent, stepmother, stepfather, mother-in-law, or father-in-law, for example, and can be any age.

There are four tests that must be met in order for a person to be your qualifying relative: not a qualifying child test, member of household or relationship test, gross income test, and support test.

Not a Qualifying Child

Your parent (or relative) cannot be claimed as a qualifying child on anyone else’s tax return.

Residency

He or she must be U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico; however, a parent or relative doesn’t have to live with you in order to qualify as a dependent.

If your qualifying parent or relative does live with you, however, you may be able to deduct a percentage of your mortgage, utilities, and other expenses when you figure out the amount of money you contribute to his or her support.

Income

To qualify as a dependent, income cannot exceed the personal exemption amount, which in 2016 (and 2017) is $4,050. In addition, your parent or relative, if married, cannot file a joint tax return with his or her spouse unless that joint return is filed only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid.

Support

You must provide more than half of a parent’s total support for the year such as costs for food, housing, medical care, transportation and other necessities.

Claiming the Dependent Care Credit

You may be able to claim the child and dependent care credit if you paid work-related expenses for the care of a qualifying individual. The credit is generally a percentage of the amount of work-related expenses you paid to a care provider for the care of a qualifying individual. The percentage depends on your adjusted gross income. Work-related expenses qualifying for the credit are those paid for the care of a qualifying individual to enable you to work or actively look for work.

In addition, expenses you paid for the care of a disabled dependent may also qualify for a medical deduction (see next section). If this is the case, you must choose to take either the itemized deduction or the dependent care credit. You cannot take both.

Claiming the Medical Deduction

If you claim the deduction for medical expenses, you still must provide more than half your parent’s support; however, your parent doesn’t have to meet the income test.

The deduction is limited to medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income (For tax years 2013-2106, this amount is 7.5 percent if either you or your spouse was born before January 2, 1949), and you can include your own unreimbursed medical expenses when calculating the total amount. If, for example, your parent is in a nursing home or assisted-living facility. Any medical expenses you paid on behalf of your parent are counted toward the 10 percent figure. Food or other amenities, however, are not considered medical expenses.

What if you share caregiving responsibilities?

If you share caregiving responsibilities with a sibling or other relative, only one of you–the one proving more than 50 percent of the support–can claim the dependent. Be sure to discuss who is going to claim the dependent in advance to avoid running into trouble with the IRS if both of you claim the dependent on your respective tax returns.

Sometimes, however, neither caregiver pays more than 50 percent. In that case, you’ll need to fill out IRS Form 2120, Multiple Support Declaration, as long as you and your sibling both provide at least 10 percent of the support towards taking care of your parent.

The tax rules for claiming an elderly parent or relative are complex. If you have any questions, help is just a phone call away.

 

Five Tax Breaks that Expired in 2016

Many tax provisions were made permanent with the passage of the PATH Act in late 2015, but more than 36 others expired at the end of 2016. Here are the five that are most likely to affect taxpayers like you.

  1. Mortgage Insurance Premiums
    Mortgage insurance premiums (PMI) are paid by homeowners with less than 20 percent equity in their homes. These premiums were deductible in tax years 2013, 2014, 2015, and once again in 2016. Mortgage interest deductions for taxpayers who itemize are not affected.
  2. Exclusion of Discharge of Principal Residence Indebtedness
    Typically, forgiven debt is considered taxable income in the eyes of the IRS; however, this tax provision was extended through 2016, allowing homeowners whose homes have been foreclosed on or subjected to short sale to exclude up to $2 million of canceled mortgage debt. Also included are taxpayers seeking debt modification on their home.
  3. Energy Efficient Improvements
    This tax break has been around for a while, but if you made your home more energy efficient in 2016, now is your last chance to take advantage of this tax credit on your tax return. The credit reduces your taxes as opposed to a deduction that reduces your taxable income and is 10 percent of the cost of building materials for items such as insulation, new water heaters, geothermal heat pumps, or a wood pellet stove.

Note: This tax is cumulative, so if you’ve taken the credit in any tax year since 2006, you will not be able to take the full $500 tax credit this year. If, for example, you took a credit of $300 in 2015, the maximum credit you could take this year is $200.

  1. Qualified Tuition and Expenses

The deduction for qualified tuition and fees, extended through 2016, is an above-the-line tax deduction, which means that you don’t have to itemize your deductions to claim the expense. Taxpayers with income of up to $130,000 (joint) or $65,000 (single) can claim a deduction for up to $4,000 in expenses. Taxpayers with income over $130,000 but under $160,000 (joint) and over $65,000 but under $80,000 (single) can take a deduction up to $2,000; however, taxpayers with income over those amounts are not eligible for the deduction.

Qualified education expenses are defined as tuition and related expenses required for enrollment or attendance at an eligible educational institution. Related expenses include student-activity fees and expenses for books, supplies, and equipment as required by the institution.

  1. Exemption from Increase in Medical Expense Threshold Amounts

Starting in 2013, threshold amounts for medical expense deductions increased from 7.5 percent to 10 percent of AGI. Seniors (age 65 during or before the tax year) were temporarily exempt from the 10 percent threshold of adjusted gross income (AGI), which applied to tax years starting after December 31, 2012 and and ending before January 1, 2017.

Don’t miss out on the tax breaks you are entitled to.

If you’re wondering whether you should be taking advantage of these and other tax credits and deductions, please call today.

 

2017 Tax Filing Season; Tax Returns due April 18

The IRS began accepting electronic and paper tax returns on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. More than 153 million individual tax returns are expected to be filed in 2017, according to the IRS.

Taxpayers are reminded that a new law (more details, below) requires the IRS to hold refunds claiming the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) until February 15, although due to weekends and the President’s Day holiday, many affected taxpayers may not have access to their refunds until the week of February 27. Taxpayers should file as usual, and tax return preparers should also submit returns as they normally do–including returns claiming EITC and ACTC.

April 18 Filing Deadline

The filing deadline to submit 2016 tax returns is Tuesday, April 18, 2017, rather than the traditional April 15 date. In 2017, April 15 falls on a Saturday, and this would usually move the filing deadline to the following Monday (April 17). However, Emancipation Day, which is a legal holiday in the District of Columbia, will be observed on that Monday, which pushes the nation’s filing deadline to Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Under the tax law, legal holidays in the District of Columbia affect the filing deadline across the nation.

The IRS also has been working with the tax industry and state revenue departments as part of the Security Summit, a joint initiative between the IRS and representatives of the software industry, tax preparation firms, payroll and tax financial product processors and state tax administrators to combat identity theft refund fraud and protect the nation’s taxpayers. A number of new provisions are being added in 2017 to expand progress made during the past year.

Refunds in 2017

The IRS anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, but there are some important factors to keep in mind for taxpayers.

Beginning in 2017, a new law requires the IRS to hold refunds on tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit until mid-February. Under the change required by Congress in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, the IRS must hold the entire refund (even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC) until at least February 15. This change helps ensure that taxpayers get the refund they are owed by giving the IRS more time to help detect and prevent fraud.

The IRS will begin releasing EITC and ACTC refunds starting February 15. However, the IRS cautions taxpayers that these refunds likely won’t arrive in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of February 27 (assuming there are no processing issues with the tax return and the taxpayer chose direct deposit). This additional period is due to several factors, including banking and financial systems needing time to process deposits.

After refunds leave the IRS, it takes additional time for them to be processed and for financial institutions to accept and deposit the refunds to bank accounts and products. Many financial institutions do not process payments on weekends or holidays, which can affect when refunds reach taxpayers. For EITC and ACTC filers, the three-day holiday weekend involving President’s Day may affect their refund timing.

Need Help?

Don’t hesitate to call the office if you have any questions or need assistance filing your tax return this year.

 

Missing your Form W-2?

You should receive a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, from each of your employers for use in preparing your federal tax return. Employers must furnish this record of 2016 earnings and withheld taxes no later than January 31, 2017 (if mailed, allow a few days for delivery).

If you do not receive your Form W-2, contact your employer to find out if and when the W-2 was mailed. If it was mailed, it may have been returned to your employer because of an incorrect address. After contacting your employer, allow a reasonable amount of time for your employer to resend or to issue the W-2.

If you still do not receive your W-2 by mid-February, contact the IRS for assistance at 1-800-829-1040. When you call, have the following information handy:

  • the employer’s name and complete address, including zip code, and the employer’s telephone number;
  • the employer’s identification number (if known);
  • your name and address, including zip code, Social Security number, and telephone number; and
  • an estimate of the wages you earned, the federal income tax withheld, and the dates you began and ended employment. You can use your final pay stub for these amounts.

If you misplaced your W-2, contact your employer. Your employer can replace the lost form with a “reissued statement.” Be aware that your employer is allowed to charge you a fee for providing you with a new W-2.

You still must file your tax return on time even if you do not receive your Form W-2. If you cannot get a W-2 by the tax filing deadline, you may use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, but it will delay any refund due while the information is verified.

If you receive a corrected W-2 after your return is filed and the information it contains does not match the income or withheld tax that you reported on your return, you must file an amended return on Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Important: 2016 Health Insurance Forms

Starting in 2016, most taxpayers received one or more forms relating to health care coverage they had during the previous year.

If you enrolled in 2016 coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you should receive Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement by early February.

If you were enrolled in other health coverage for 2016, you should receive a Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, or Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health insurance Offer and Coverage by the end of March. Contact the issuer of the form (either the Marketplace, your coverage provider or your employer) if you think you should have received a form but did not get one.

If you are expecting to receive a Form 1095-A, you should wait to file your 2016 income tax return until you receive that form. However, it is not necessary to wait for Forms 1095-B or 1095-C in order to file.

If you have questions about your Forms W-2 or 1099 or any other tax-related materials, please call or email the office.

 

Updated Withholding Tables for 2017

Updated income-tax withholding tables for 2017 have been released. The newly revised version contains percentage method income-tax withholding tables and related information that employers need to implement these changes.

In addition, employers should continue withholding Social Security tax at the rate of 6.2 percent of wages paid. The Social Security wage base limit increases to $127,200 ($118,500 in 2016). The Medicare tax rate remains at 1.45 percent each for the employee and employer.

The additional Medicare tax of 0.9 percent for employees (not employers) remains in effect and should be withheld from employee wages that exceed $200,000 in a calendar year, at the beginning in the pay period in which the employee’s wages exceed $200,000.

In 2017 the amount for one withholding allowance on an annual basis is $4,050 (same as 2016). Employers should start using the revised withholding tables and correct the amount of Social Security tax withheld as soon as possible in 2017, but not later than February 16, 2017. For any Social Security tax under-withheld before that date, employers should make the appropriate adjustment in workers’ pay as soon as possible, but not later than March 31, 2017.

Employers and payroll companies handle the withholding changes, so workers typically won’t need to take any additional action, such as filling out a new W-4 withholding form. Individuals and couples with multiple jobs, people who are having children, getting married, getting divorced or buying a home, and those who typically wind up with a balance due or large refund at the end of the year may want to consider submitting revised W-4 forms.

As always, it’s prudent for workers to review their withholding every year and, if necessary, fill out a new W-4 to give to their employer. For example, individuals and couples with multiple jobs, people who are having children, getting married, getting divorced or buying a home, and those who typically wind up with a balance due or large refund at the end of the year may want to consider submitting revised W-4 forms.

Please call the office if you have any questions about income tax withholding in 2017.

 

Kids’ Day Camp Expenses May Qualify for a Tax Credit

Day camps are common during school vacations and the summer months. Many parents enroll their children in a day camp or pay for day care so they can work or look for work. If this applies to you, your costs may qualify for a federal tax credit. Here are 10 things to know about the Child and Dependent Care Credit:

  1. Care for Qualifying Persons. Your expenses must be for the care of one or more qualifying persons. Your dependent child or children under age 13 generally qualify.
  2. Work-related Expenses. Your expenses for care must be work-related. In other words, you must pay for the care so you can work or look for work. This rule also applies to your spouse if you file a joint return. Your spouse meets this rule during any month they are a full-time student. They also meet it if they are physically or mentally incapable of self-care.
  3. Earned Income Required. You must have earned income. Earned income includes wages, salaries and tips. It also includes net earnings from self-employment. Your spouse must also have earned income if you file jointly. Your spouse is treated as having earned income for any month that they are a full-time student or incapable of self-care.
  4. Joint Return if Married. Generally, married couples must file a joint return. You can still take the credit, however, if you are legally separated or living apart from your spouse.
  5. Type of Care. You may qualify for the credit whether you pay for care at home, at a daycare facility or at a day camp.
  6. Credit Amount. The credit is worth between 20 and 35 percent of your allowable expenses. The percentage depends on your income.
  7. Expense Limits. The total expense that you can use in a year is limited. The limit is $3,000 for one qualifying person or $6,000 for two or more.
  8. Certain Care Does Not Qualify. You may not include the cost of certain types of care for the tax credit, including:
  • Overnight camps or summer school tutoring costs.
  • Care provided by your spouse or your child who is under age 19 at the end of the year.
  • Care given by a person you can claim as your dependent.
  1. Keep Records and Receipts.Keep all your receipts and records for when you file taxes next year. You will need the name, address and taxpayer identification number of the care provider. You must report this information when you claim the credit on Form 2441, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
  2. Dependent Care Benefits.Special rules apply if you get dependent care benefits from your employer.

Keep in mind this credit is not just a school vacation or summer tax benefit. You may be able to claim it at any time during the year for qualifying care. For more information, please call the office.

 

Qualifying for a Health Coverage Exemption

With the 2017 tax filing season in full swing, it’s not too early to think about how the health care law affects your taxes. The Affordable Care Act requires you and each member of your family to do at least one of the following:

  • Have qualifying health coverage called minimum essential coverage
  • Qualify for a health coverage exemption
  • Make a shared responsibility payment with your federal income tax return for the months that you did not have coverage or an exemption

If you meet certain criteria for the tax year, you may be exempt from the requirement to have minimum essential coverage. You will not have to make a shared responsibility payment for any month that you are exempt. Instead, you’ll file Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, with your federal income tax return. For any month that you do not qualify for a coverage exemption, you will need to have minimum essential coverage or make a shared responsibility payment. You may be exempt if you meet one of the following:

  • The lowest-cost coverage available to you is considered unaffordable
  • You have a gap in coverage that is less than three (3) consecutive months
  • You qualify for an exemption for one of several other reasons, including having a hardship that prevents you from obtaining coverage or belonging to a group specifically exempt from the coverage requirement

The Federally-facilitated Marketplace is no longer granting exemptions for members of a health care sharing ministry, members of Indian Tribes, and incarceration. Eligible individuals can still claim these exemptions on a tax return. For a full list of exemptions and how to claim them, please call.

Federal tax returns that do not reflect at least one of these options–reporting health care coverage, claiming a coverage exemption or reporting a shared responsibility payment–will be rejected if the return is filed electronically. If filed on paper, tax returns that do not reflect at least one of these options will take longer to process and any refunds will be delayed. You should respond promptly to IRS correspondence about your health care coverage.

Questions?

To find out if you’re eligible for a coverage exemption or must make a payment, don’t hesitate to contact the office. Help is just a phone call away.

 

Tax Due Dates for February 2017

February 10

Employees – who work for tips. If you received $20 or more in tips during January, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2016. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time.

Farm Employers – File Form 943 to report Social Security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2016. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.

Certain Small Employers – File Form 944 to report Social Security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2016. This tax due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.

Employers – Nonpayroll taxes. File Form 945 to report income tax withheld for 2016 on all nonpayroll items. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.

Employers – Federal unemployment tax. File Form 940 for 2016. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.

February 15

Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in January.

Employers – Nonpayroll withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in January.

Individuals – If you claimed exemption from income tax withholding last year on the Form W-4 you gave your employer, you must file a new Form W-4 by this date to continue your exemption for another year.

All businesses. Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments you made during 2016. You can use the appropriate version of Form 1099 or other information return.

February 16

Employers – Begin withholding income tax from the pay of any employee who claimed exemption from withholding in 2016, but did not give you a new Form W-4 to continue the exemption this year.

February 28

Businesses – File information returns (Form 1099) for certain payments you made during 2016. These payments are described under January 31. There are different forms for different types of payments. Use a separate Form 1096 to summarize and transmit the forms for each type of payment. See the 2016 Instructions for Forms 1099, 1098, 5498, and W-2G for information on what payments are covered, how much the payment must be before a return is required, what form to use, and extensions of time to file.

If you file Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, or W-2G electronically (except Form 1099-MISC reporting nonemployee compensation), your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms is still January 31.

Payers of Gambling Winnings – File Form 1096, Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns, along with Copy A of all the Forms W-2G you issued for 2016. If you file Forms W-2G electronically (not by magnetic tape), your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains January 31.

Large Food and Beverage Establishment Employers – with employees who work for tips. File Form 8027, Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips. Use Form 8027-T, Transmittal of Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips, to summarize and transmit Forms 8027 if you have more than one establishment. If you file Forms 8027 electronically (not by magnetic tape), your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31.

Health Coverage Reporting – If you’re an Applicable Large Employer, file paper Forms 1094-­C, Transmittal of Employer–Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns, and 1095-­C with the IRS. For all other providers of minimum essential coverage, file paper Forms 1094-­B, Transmittal of Health Coverage Information Returns, and 1095-­B with the IRS. If you’re filing any of these forms with the IRS electronically, your due date for filing them will be extended to March 31.

March 1

Farmers and Fishermen – Farmers and fishermen. File your 2016 income tax return (Form 1040) and pay any tax due. However, you have until April 18 to file if you paid your 2016 estimated tax by January 17, 2017.

 

Rex Crandell Firm
3000 Citrus Circle, #207
Walnut Creek, CA, 94598
Phone: (925) 934-6320
RexCrandell@astound.net

Any accounting, business or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.

 

Copyright © 2017  All materials contained in this document are protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. All other trade names, trademarks, registered trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.

THE END.  THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND ATTENTION………………..

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A MESSAGE FROM REX CRANDELL’S TAX OFFICE:

Our firm provides income tax preparation and planning services for individuals, families, C Corporations, S Corporations, LLC Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, domestic partners, for income and deductions generated in California, the United States, and assist taxpayers internationally comply with the USA income tax reporting requirements. Rex Crandell, Esq. also provides services in the area of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Probate Procedures, Advance Healthcare Directives, Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Management, and Advance Health Care Directives.

You can contact Rex Crandell’s offices in Walnut Creek and San Francisco, California
by calling; 1 (800) 464-6595;
or (925) 934 6320, Walnut Creek, California;  or  (415) 982-1110, San Francisco, California

or by e-mail at:    rexcrandell@astound.net

http://www.rexcrandell.com/

http://www.taxrexcrandell.com/

We would be happy to hear from you.

…FROM REX CRANDELL’s OFFICE…

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

Very truly yours,
/s/ Rex L. Crandell
Rex L. Crandell. CPA, Esq.

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FROM:

Rex L. Crandell Firm

Walnut Creek Office (For UPS/FedEx/OR if Signature Req’d Documents)

3000 Citrus Circle

Suite 207 – West Wing [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]

(925) 934-6320
————————-
San Francisco Office

425 Market Street

22nd Floor [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]

(800) 464-6595
—————————
E-Mail: mailto:rexcrandell@astound.net

Internet: http://www.rexcrandell.com

Internet 2nd Web http://taxrexcrandell.com
Internet 3rd Web http://estateplanningreport.wordpress.com


Internet 4th Web https://taxnewsonlinereport.wordpress.com/ 
Skype Address rex.crandell
Fax: (925) 934-6325
———————–

All U.S. Mail items [Except if Signature is required]:
P.O. Box 30305-Dept.  Tax News Blog Update
Walnut Creek, California 94598-9305 United States of America
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IT'S TAX TIME. BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY EARLY. IT’S TAX TIME. BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY.
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This newsletter is intended to provide generalized information that is appropriate in certain situations. It is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The contents of this newsletter should not be acted upon without specific professional guidance. Please call us if you have questions.

__________________________________

DISCLAIMER: The sponsors and editors of this privately owned website are not goverment employees and do not represent nor speak for any governmental agency.

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Any accounting, business, legal or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.
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I am sure you were wondering how a corporation dies and goes to heaven.  Now is your chance to satisfy your curiosity and find out.  The following information tells it like it is and how to do it.  See this report: HOW DO I LIQUIDATE OR DISSOLVE A CORPORATION SO THAT I PAY THE LEAST AMOUNT OF TAX?

So, you own a Corporation that is no longer needed and you want to close it down.

  • HOW DO I LIQUIDATE OR DISSOLVE A CORPORATION

  • SO THAT I PAY THE LEAST AMOUNT OF TAX?

 

 

   By Rex L. Crandell, CPA, Attorney

   The first issue to address information on reporting the liquidation from the C-Corporation’s perspective.

          When a corporation liquidates, the board of directors will vote and pass a documented corporate resolution to liquidate the corporation which will need to be confirmed in writing by the shareholders.  One person can have more than one title and should sign the documents for each title used.  For example:  #1 SHAREHOLDER, signs as a Director then   #1 SHAREHOLDER, signs as a shareholder.

      The corporation will prepare an IRS Form 966 to inform the IRS as to the upcoming liquidation.  The IRS Form 966 and related required form documentation is then filed with the IRS within thirty (30) days of the liquidation resolution.  The form filing should not wait until the C-Corporation tax returns are completed and submitted.  The IRS Form 966 should indicate that this is a complete liquidation (IRS Form 966, line 3) and that IRC§331 was the code section that the corporation will be liquidated (line 10).  See the IRS Form 966 for additional information and requirements.

        The corporation will treat the liquidation as a sale of all assets at their current Fair Market Value (hereafter referred to as FMV).  It is not permissible to report the asset transactions at their historical book values as indicated on the company’s Balance Sheet and Depreciation Schedule.  There should be a worksheet included in the corporate tax returns showing the sales transaction and the gain or loss between the FMV and book value for each asset.  Once the corporate tax returns are completed and ready to be submitted, it should include a copy of the IRS Form 966 that was already filed with the IRS.

        The transaction is taxable as a sale of assets by the C-corporation (IRS Form 1120).  The transaction is also treated as a sale of corporate stock by the shareholders IRS Form 1040.  This is the infamous double taxation that applies to C-Corporations.

   A C-Corporation distribution of retained earnings will be treated as a taxable dividend received by the shareholder.

   When a C Corporation liquidation is done by electing IRC §331 tax treatment, the payment of retained earnings to the shareholders is not considered a taxable dividend to the shareholder.  It is considered as an integral part of the presumed stock sale transaction.

   This is in contrast to an S-Corporation, because an S-Corporation’s retained earnings automatically flows through the S-Corporation to the shareholders as dividend regardless if the shareholder was paid the retained earnings in cash or if no distribution of cash took place.

  What should be the value of the Life Insurance policies?

       If you are unable to determine the FMV of assets, you can request the assistance of a professional appraiser or some other person with specialized skills to determine the current FMV.  An online search could be used to support the value of some assets.  In terms of the life insurance policies, since a willing buyer would pay at least the cash value of the policy, then the cash value would be the FMV less a nominal transaction and inconvenience fee to the hypothetical buyer.  If your insurance agent feels that the separate death benefit part of life insurance has a market value, then it should be used as the sales price.

   What should the shareholder’s basis be for the sales transaction?                    

      Shareholder basis is determined by considering the amount of money contributed to the corporation at the time the shares were acquired.  This is called outside basis in the hands of the shareholder.  This number may end up being different from the inside basis shown on the corporation’s balance sheet.  Then the evolving basis computation would include any additional funds that were contributed to the corporation or assets transferred to the corporation.  If the corporation had paid the shareholder an amount in excess of the retained earnings of the company, then it would have been considered a return of capital to reduce the stock basis.  If the shareholders have no way of calculating the shareholder’s basis, some people will end up reporting the basis on the corporation’s balance sheet as the closest reconstruction of data that is unavailable.

       The above basis calculation method is the way most stock basis computations are made.  However, if a shareholder received a stepped up basis under IRC §1014 because of the death of a spouse that was holding title in community property, then the starting point for the evolving basis computation will be the FMV of the stock as indicated on IRS Form 706 or other documentation.  From that point, increases or decreases could take place in the stock basis depending on the type of transactions discussed in “G” above.

      The shareholders will report the complete liquidation of their shares considering the transaction as a sale of stock for the value of the compensation, funds, assets received from the corporation.  The basis used for the sale cost basis will be the shareholder’s basis in the stock.

         The gain or loss of the sale of stock will then be reported on the shareholder’s annual IRS Form 1040 in the usual manner. IRS Form 1040, Schedule D after IRS Form 8949.  However, you should also consider the beneficial tax treatment under IRC §1202 Qualified Small Business Stock.  If the C-Corporation meets all of the requirements to be properly classified as Qualified Small Business stock, then you can claim the IRC §1202 exclusion of half of the gain on the sale of the shares.

      The shareholder’s individual income tax return should show a worksheet indicating how the gain or loss on the sale of the corporation was computed.  In addition, it is suggested that you also include a copy of the same IRS Form 966 that was filed by the corporation.

    DISSOLVE THE CORPORATE ENTITY WITH THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA.

   You will need to petition the state to get the formal dissolution resolved at the state of California level to avoid paying the annual $800+ minimum franchise tax and to avoid the requirement to continue to file annual corporate tax returns for federal and California.

   CONCLUSION

   A liquidation of a corporation is treated as a sale of stock.  This factor should not be ignored by the liquidating corporation or the owner/shareholders of the corporate entity.  If the corporation never issued actual stock certificates to the owners of the corporation, it does not affect the taxability of the transaction.  True ownership is the determining factor and not the tangible paper called a stock certificate.

   You should distribute all the assets and pay off all liabilities before you dissolve the corporate entity and before filing your final federal and California corporate tax returns.

  I hope I was able to address and resolve all of your questions and concerns.  If there is any additional information that is needed or any additional concerns that I have not addressed, please you’re your questions and service requests to our office for evaluation.

   Very truly yours,

   Rex L. Crandell
Rex L. Crandell

Enrolled to Represent Taxpayers before the IRS
Enrolled to practice in the United States Tax Court
The Law Office of Rex Crandell
The Office of Rex Crandell, CPA, Inc.

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USA ~ EAGLE & FLAG Mov Gif 04FEB14

A MESSAGE FROM REX CRANDELL’S TAX OFFICE:

Our firm provides income tax preparation and planning services for individuals, families, C Corporations, S Corporations, LLC Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, domestic partners, for income and deductions generated in California, the United States, and assist taxpayers internationally comply with the USA income tax reporting requirements. Rex Crandell, Esq. also provides services in the area of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Probate Procedures, Advance Healthcare Directives, Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Management, and Advance Health Care Directives.

You can contact Rex Crandell’s offices in Walnut Creek and San Francisco, California
by calling; 1 (800) 464-6595;
or (925) 934 6320, Walnut Creek, California;  or  (415) 982-1110, San Francisco, California

or by e-mail at:    rexcrandell@astound.net

http://www.rexcrandell.com/

http://www.taxrexcrandell.com/

We would be happy to hear from you.

…FROM REX CRANDELL’s OFFICE…

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

Very truly yours,
/s/ Rex L. Crandell
Rex L. Crandell. CPA, Esq.

image002

============================================

FROM:

Rex L. Crandell Firm

Walnut Creek Office (For UPS/FedEx/OR if Signature Req’d Documents)

3000 Citrus Circle

Suite 207 – West Wing [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]

(925) 934-6320
————————-
San Francisco Office

425 Market Street

22nd Floor [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]

(800) 464-6595
—————————
E-Mail: mailto:rexcrandell@astound.net

Internet: http://www.rexcrandell.com

Internet 2nd Web http://taxrexcrandell.com
Internet 3rd Web http://estateplanningreport.wordpress.com


Internet 4th Web https://taxnewsonlinereport.wordpress.com/ 
Skype Address rex.crandell
Fax: (925) 934-6325
———————–

All U.S. Mail items [Except if Signature is required]:
P.O. Box 30305-Dept.  Tax News Blog Update
Walnut Creek, California 94598-9305 United States of America
.

.

IT'S TAX TIME. BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY EARLY. IT’S TAX TIME. BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY.
.

.

This newsletter is intended to provide generalized information that is appropriate in certain situations. It is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The contents of this newsletter should not be acted upon without specific professional guidance. Please call us if you have questions.

__________________________________

DISCLAIMER: The sponsors and editors of this privately owned website are not goverment employees and do not represent nor speak for any governmental agency.

image

======================
Any accounting, business, legal or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.
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  2017 Tax Changes for 2016 Tax Returns

 (from TaxRexCrandell.com)

Many of the tax changes affecting individuals and businesses for 2016 were related to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH) that modified or made permanent numerous tax breaks (the so-called “tax extenders”). To further complicate matters, some provisions were only extended through 2016 and are set to expire at the end of this year while others were extended through 2019. With that in mind, here’s what individuals and families need to know about tax provisions for 2016.


Standard Deductions

The standard deduction for married couples filing a joint return in 2016 is $12,600. For singles and married individuals filing separately, it is $6,300, and for heads of household the deduction is $9,300.
The additional standard deduction for blind people and senior citizens in 2016 is $1,250 for married individuals and $1,550 for singles and heads of household.

Income Tax Rates

In 2016 the top tax rate of 39.6 percent affects individuals whose income exceeds $415,051 ($466,951 for married taxpayers filing a joint return). Marginal tax rates for 2016–10, 15, 25, 28, 33 and 35 percent–remain the same as in prior years.
Due to inflation, tax-bracket thresholds increased for every filing status. For example, the taxable-income threshold separating the 15 percent bracket from the 25 percent bracket is $75,300 for a married couple filing a joint return.
Estate and Gift Taxes
In 2016 there is an exemption of $5.45 million per individual for estate, gift and generation-skipping taxes, with a top tax rate of 40 percent. The annual exclusion for gifts is $14,000.
Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
AMT exemption amounts were made permanent and indexed for inflation retroactive to 2012. In addition, non-refundable personal credits can now be used against the AMT.
For 2016, exemption amounts are $53,900 for single and head of household filers, $83,800 for married people filing jointly and for qualifying widows or widowers, and $41,900 for married people filing separately.

Marriage Penalty Relief

The basic standard deduction for a married couple filing jointly in 2016 is $12,600.
Pease and PEP (Personal Exemption Phaseout)
Pease (limitations on itemized deductions) and PEP (personal exemption phase-out) limitations were made permanent by ATRA (indexed for inflation) and affect taxpayers with income at or above $259,400 for single filers and $311,300 for married filing jointly in tax year 2016.
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are limited to $2,550 per year in 2016 (same as 2015) and apply only to salary reduction contributions under a health FSA. The term “taxable year” as it applies to FSAs refers to the plan year of the cafeteria plan, which is typically the period during which salary reduction elections are made.
Specifically, in the case of a plan providing a grace period (which may be up to two months and 15 days), unused salary reduction contributions to the health FSA for plan years beginning in 2012 or later that are carried over into the grace period for that plan year will not count against the $2,550 limit for the subsequent plan year.
Further, employers may allow people to carry over into the next calendar year up to $500 in their accounts, but aren’t required to do so.

Long Term Capital Gains

In 2016 taxpayers in the lower tax brackets (10 and 15 percent) pay zero percent on long-term capital gains. For taxpayers in the middle four tax brackets the rate is 15 percent and for taxpayers whose income is at or above $415,050 ($466,950 married filing jointly), the rate for both capital gains and dividends is capped at 20 percent.

Individuals – Tax Credits

Adoption Credit
In 2016 a nonrefundable (i.e. only those with a lax liability will benefit) credit of up to $13,460 is available for qualified adoption expenses for each eligible child.
Child and Dependent Care Credit
The child and dependent care tax credit was permanently extended for taxable years starting in 2013. If you pay someone to take care of your dependent (defined as being under the age of 13 at the end of the tax year or incapable of self-care) in order to work or look for work, you may qualify for a credit of up to $1,050 or 35 percent of $3,000 of eligible expenses.
For two or more qualifying dependents, you can claim up to 35 percent of $6,000 (or $2,100) of eligible expenses. For higher income earners the credit percentage is reduced, but not below 20 percent, regardless of the amount of adjusted gross income.
Child Tax Credit
For tax year 2016, the child tax credit is $1,000. A portion of the credit may be refundable, which means that you can claim the amount you are owed, even if you have no tax liability for the year. The credit is phased out for those with higher incomes.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
For tax year 2016, the maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low and moderate income workers and working families increased to $6,269 (up from $6,242 in 2015). The maximum income limit for the EITC increased to $53,505 (up from $53,267 in 2015) for married filing jointly. The credit varies by family size, filing status, and other factors, with the maximum credit going to joint filers with three or more qualifying children.
Individuals – Education Expenses
Coverdell Education Savings Account
You can contribute up to $2,000 a year to Coverdell savings accounts in 2016. These accounts can be used to offset the cost of elementary and secondary education, as well as post-secondary education.
American Opportunity Tax Credit
For 2016, the maximum American Opportunity Tax Credit that can be used to offset certain higher education expenses is $2,500 per student, although it is phased out beginning at $160,000 adjusted gross income for joint filers and $80,000 for other filers.
Employer-Provided Educational Assistance
In 2016, as an employee, you can exclude up to $5,250 of qualifying post-secondary and graduate education expenses that are reimbursed by your employer.


Lifetime Learning Credit

A credit of up to $2,000 is available for an unlimited number of years for certain costs of post-secondary or graduate courses or courses to acquire or improve your job skills. For 2016, the modified adjusted gross income threshold at which the lifetime learning credit begins to phase out is $108,000 for joint filers and $54,000 for singles and heads of household.


Student Loan Interest

In 2016 you can deduct up to $2,500 in student-loan interest as long as your modified adjusted gross income is less than $65,000 (single) or $130,000 (married filing jointly). The deduction is phased out at higher income levels. In addition, the deduction is claimed as an adjustment to income so you do not need to itemize your deductions.


Individuals – Retirement
Contribution Limits

For 2016, 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 $18,000 (same as 2015). For persons age 50 or older in 2016, the limit is $24,000 ($6,000 catch-up contribution). Contribution limits for SIMPLE plans remain at $12,500 (same as 2015) for persons under age 50 and $15,500 for anyone age 50 or older in 2016. The maximum compensation used to determine contributions increased to $265,000.
Saver’s Credit
In 2016, the adjusted gross income limit for the saver’s credit (also known as the retirement savings contributions credit) for low-and-moderate-income workers is $61,500 for married couples filing jointly, $46,125 for heads of household, and $30,750 for married individuals filing separately and for singles.
Please call if you need help understanding which deductions and tax credits you are entitled to.

2016 Recap: Tax Provisions for Businesses
Whether you file as a corporation or sole proprietor here’s what business owners need to know about tax changes for 2016.
Standard Mileage Rates
The standard mileage rates in 2016 are as follows: 54 cents per business mile driven, 19 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, and 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.
Health Care Tax Credit for Small Businesses
Small business employers who pay at least half the premiums for single health insurance coverage for their employees may be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit as long as they employ fewer than the equivalent of 25 full-time workers and average annual wages do not exceed $52,000 (adjusted annually for inflation) in 2016.
In 2016 (as in 2015 and 2014), the tax credit is worth up to 50 percent of your contribution toward employees’ premium costs (up to 35 percent for tax-exempt employers). For tax years 2010 through 2013, the maximum credit was 35 percent for small business employers and 25 percent for small tax-exempt employers such as charities.
Section 179 Expensing and Depreciation
The Section 179 expense deduction was made permanent at $500,000 by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH). For equipment purchases, the maximum deduction is $500,000 of the first $2.01 million of qualifying equipment placed in service during the current tax year. The deduction is phased out dollar for dollar on amounts exceeding the $2 million threshold amount (indexed for inflation) and eliminated above amounts exceeding $2.5 million. In addition, Section 179 is now indexed to inflation in increments of $10,000 for future tax years.
The 50 percent bonus depreciation has been extended through 2019. Businesses are able to depreciate 50 percent of the cost of equipment acquired and placed in service during 2015, 2016 and 2017. However, the bonus depreciation is reduced to 40 percent in 2018 and 30 percent in 2019. The standard business depreciation amount is 24 cents per mile.
Please call if you have any questions about Section 179 expensing and the bonus depreciation.
Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)
Extended through 2019, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit has been modified and enhanced for employers who hire long-term unemployed individuals (unemployed for 27 weeks or more) and is generally equal to 40 percent of the first $6,000 of wages paid to a new hire. Please call if you have any questions about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.
SIMPLE IRA Plan Contributions
Contribution limits for SIMPLE IRA plans increased to $12,500 for persons under age 50 and $15,500 for persons age 50 or older in 2016. The maximum compensation used to determine contributions increases to $265,000.
Please contact the office if you need help understanding which deductions and tax credits you are entitled to.

Employee or Independent Contractor–Which is it?
If you hire someone for a long-term, full-time project or a series of projects that are likely to last for an extended period, you must pay special attention to the difference between independent contractors and employees.

Why It Matters

The Internal Revenue Service and state regulators scrutinize the distinction between employees and independent contractors because many business owners try to categorize as many of their workers as possible as independent contractors rather than as employees. They do this because independent contractors are not covered by unemployment and workers’ compensation, or by federal and state wage, hour, anti-discrimination, and labor laws. In addition, businesses do not have to pay federal payroll taxes on amounts paid to independent contractors.
Caution: If you incorrectly classify an employee as an independent contractor, you can be held liable for employment taxes for that worker, plus a penalty.

The Difference Between Employees and Independent Contractors

Independent Contractors are individuals who contract with a business to perform a specific project or set of projects. You, the payer, have the right to control or direct only the result of the work done by an independent contractor, and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result.
Example: Sam Smith, an electrician, submitted a bid of $6,400 to a housing complex for electrical work. Per the terms of his contract, every two weeks for the next 10 weeks, he is to receive a payment of $1,280. This is not considered payment by the hour. Even if he works more or less than 400 hours to complete the work, Sam will still receive $6,400. He also performs additional electrical installations under contracts with other companies that he obtained through advertisements. Sam Smith is an independent contractor.

Note: Labor laws vary by state. Please call if you have specific questions.

Employees provide work in an ongoing, structured basis. In general, anyone who performs services for you is your employee if you can control what will be done and how it will be done. A worker is still considered an employee even when you give them freedom of action. What matters is that you have the right to control the details of how the services are performed.
Example: Sally Jones is a salesperson employed on a full-time basis by Rob Robinson, an auto dealer. She works 6 days a week and is on duty in Rob’s showroom on certain assigned days and times. She appraises trade-ins, but her appraisals are subject to the sales manager’s approval. Lists of prospective customers belong to the dealer. She has to develop leads and report results to the sales manager. Because of her experience, she requires only minimal assistance in closing and financing sales and in other phases of her work. She is paid a commission and is eligible for prizes and bonuses offered by Rob. Rob also pays the cost of health insurance and group term life insurance for Sally. Sally Jones is an employee of Rob Robinson.

The IRS, workers’ compensation boards, unemployment compensation boards, federal agencies, and even courts all have slightly different definitions of what an independent contractor is though their means of categorizing workers as independent contractors are similar.
One of the most prevalent approaches used to categorize a worker as either an employee or independent contractor is the analysis created by the IRS, which considers the following:
What instructions the employer gives the worker about when, where, and how to work. The more specific the instructions and the more control exercised, the more likely the worker will be considered an employee.

What training the employer gives the worker. Independent contractors generally do not receive training from an employer.

The extent to which the worker has business expenses that are not reimbursed. Independent contractors are more likely to have unreimbursed expenses.

The extent of the worker’s investment in the worker’s own business. Independent contractors typically invest their own money in equipment or facilities.

The extent to which the worker makes services available to other employers. Independent contractors are more likely to make their services available to other employers.

How the business pays the worker. An employee is generally paid by the hour, week, or month. An independent contractor is usually paid by the job.

The extent to which the worker can make a profit or incur a loss. An independent contractor can make a profit or loss, but an employee does not.

Whether there are written contracts describing the relationship the parties intended to create. Independent contractors generally sign written contracts stating that they are independent contractors and setting forth the terms of their employment.

Whether the business provides the worker with employee benefits, such as insurance, a pension plan, vacation pay, or sick pay. Independent contractors generally do not get benefits.

The terms of the working relationship. An employee generally is employed at will (meaning the relationship can be terminated by either party at any time). An independent contractor is usually hired for a set period.

Whether the worker’s services are a key aspect of the company’s regular business. If the services are necessary for regular business activity, it is more likely that the employer has the right to direct and control the worker’s activities. The more control an employer exerts over a worker, the more likely it is that the worker will be considered an employee.
Minimize the Risk of Misclassification

If you misclassify an employee as an independent contractor, you may end up before a state taxing authority or the IRS.
Sometimes the issue comes up when a terminated worker files for unemployment benefits and it’s unclear whether the worker was an independent contractor or employee. The filing can trigger state or federal investigations that can cost many thousands of dollars to defend, even if you successfully fight the challenge.
There are ways to reduce the risk of an investigation or challenge by a state or federal authority. At a minimum, you should:
Familiarize yourself with the rules. Ignorance of the rules is not a legitimate defense. Knowledge of the rules will allow you to structure and carefully manage your relationships with your workers to minimize risk.

Document relationships with your workers and vendors. Although it won’t always save you, it helps to have a written contract stating the terms of employment.

If you have any questions about how to classify workers, please call.

Understanding the Net Investment Income Tax
One of the most significant tax changes affecting higher income taxpayers was the Net Investment Income Tax that went into effect on January 1, 2013. While it tends to affect wealthier individuals most often, in certain circumstances, it can also affect moderate income taxpayers whose income increases significantly in a given tax year. Here’s what you need to know:
What is the Net Investment Income Tax?
The Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) is a 3.8 percent tax on certain net investment income of individuals, estates, and trusts with income above statutory threshold amounts, referred to as modified adjusted gross income or MAGI.
What is Included in Net Investment Income?
In general, investment income includes, but is not limited to interest, dividends, capital gains, rental and royalty income, nonqualified annuities, income from businesses involved in trading of financial instruments or commodities, and passive business activities such as rental income or income derived from royalties.
What is Not Included in Net Investment Income?
Wages, unemployment compensation; operating income from a nonpassive business, Social Security Benefits, alimony, tax-exempt interest, self-employment income, Alaska Permanent Fund Dividends, and distributions from certain Qualified Plans are not included in net investment income.
Individuals
Individuals with MAGI of $250,000 (married filing jointly) or $200,000 for single filers are taxed at a flat rate of 3.8 percent on investment income such as dividends, taxable interest, rents, royalties, certain income from trading commodities, taxable income from investment annuities, REITs and master limited partnerships, and long and short-term capital gains.
The NIIT is a flat rate tax that is paid in addition to other taxes owed, and threshold amounts are not indexed for inflation.
Non-resident aliens are not subject to the NIIT; however, if a non-resident alien is married to a US citizen and is planning to file as a resident alien for the purposes of filing married jointly, there are special rules. Please call if you have any questions.
Investment income is generally not subject to withholding, so NIIT is going to affect your tax liability for the 2016 tax year. In addition, even lower income taxpayers not meeting the threshold amounts may be subject to NIIT if they receive a windfall such as a one-time sale of assets that bumps their MAGI up high enough to be subject to the NIIT.
Strategies to Minimize NIIT
Tax planning is crucial–for this year as well as next. If you are anticipating a windfall this tax year or next, there are a number of strategies that you could use to minimize your MAGI and reduce or possibly eliminate tax liability when you file your tax return. These include but are not limited to:
Rental Real Estate (depreciation deductions)
Installment sales (including figuring out the best timing for sale)
Roth conversions
Charitable donations
Tax-deferred annuities
Municipal bonds
Sale of a Home
The Net Investment Income Tax does not apply to any amount of gain that is excluded from gross income for regular income tax purposes ($250,000 for single filers and $500,000 for a married couple) on the sale of a principal residence from gross income for regular income tax purposes. In other words, only the taxable part of any gain on the sale of a home has the potential to be subject to NIIT, providing the taxpayer is over the MAGI threshold amount.
Estates and Trusts Affected
Estates and Trusts are subject to NIIT 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. In 2016, this threshold amount is $12,400.
Special rules apply for certain unique types of trusts such a Charitable Remainder Trusts and Electing Small Business Trusts, and some trusts, including “Grantor Trusts” and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) are not subject to the NIIT.
Please note, however, that non-qualified dividends generated by investments in a REIT that are taxed at ordinary tax rates may be subject to the Net Investment Income Tax.
Questions? If you need guidance on the NIIT and estates and trusts, help is just a phone call away.
Reporting and Paying the Net Investment Income Tax
Individual taxpayers should report (and pay) the tax on Form 1040. Estates and Trusts report (and pay) the tax on Form 1041.
Individuals, estates, and trusts that expect to be pay estimated taxes in 2016 or thereafter should adjust their income tax withholding or estimated payments to account for the tax increase in order to avoid underpayment penalties. For employed individuals, the NIIT is not withheld from wages; however, you may request that additional income tax be withheld.
Wondering how the Net Investment Income Tax affects you? Give the office a call today and find out.

Choosing a Retirement Destination
With health care, housing, food, and transportation costs increasing every year, many retirees on fixed incomes wonder how they can stretch their dollars even further. One solution is to move to another state where income taxes are lower than the one they currently reside in.
But some retirees may be in for a surprise. While federal tax rates are the same in every state, retirees may find that even if they move to a state with no income tax, there may be additional taxes they’re liable for including sales taxes, excise taxes, inheritance and estate taxes, income taxes, intangible taxes, and property taxes.
In addition, states tax different retirement benefits differently. Retirees may have several types of retirements benefits such as pensions, social security, retirement plan distributions (which may or not be taxed by a particular state), and additional income from a job if they continue to work in order to supplement their retirement income.
If you’re thinking about moving to a different state when you retire, here are five things to consider before you make that move.
1. Income Tax Rates
Retirees planning to work part-time in addition to receiving retirement benefits should keep in mind that those earnings may be subject to state tax in certain states, as well as federal income tax if your combined income (individual) is more than $25,000. Combined income is defined as your adjusted gross income + Nontaxable interest plus 1/2 of your Social Security benefits. If you file a joint return, you may have to pay taxes if you and your spouse have a combined income that is more than $32,000. If you see this scenario in your future, it may be in your best interest to consider a state with low income tax rates (Pennsylvania, Arizona, or New Mexico for instance) or no income tax such as Florida, Nevada, Alaska, or Washington state.
2. Income Tax on Retirement Income

Income tax on pension income varies for each state. Some states, including Pennsylvania and Mississippi, do not tax it at all. In other states a portion of pension income is exempt, and still other states tax pension income in its entirety. Remember however, that state tax laws, like federal tax laws are always changing. Call if you have any questions about tax law changes in your state.
3. Tax on Social Security

In 2016, thirteen states tax social security income in addition to taxing social security income at the federal level. Among them are Colorado, Connecticut, Montana, New Mexico, Vermont, and West Virginia.
4. State and Local Property Taxes

Despite a decline in property values, property taxes have not decreased for most homeowners. Some states however, offer property tax exemptions to retirees who are homeowners and renters. Again, this varies by individual state. Please consult us if you have any questions about your state or the state you are planning to move to.
5. State and Local Sales Taxes

State and local sales taxes may or may not be a factor in the overall decision about where you decide to retire, but keep in mind that only five states, Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon do not impose any sales or use tax.
6. Estate Taxes

Estate tax may or may not matter, depending on your estate and whether you care about what happens to your estate after you die. Like other state taxes, estate tax varies depending on which state you reside in. In eighteen states, there is a tax on estates below the federal threshold amount ($5.45 million in 2016, increasing to $5.50 million in 2017). Two states, Delaware and Hawaii use the same threshold amount as the IRS when figuring federal estate tax, and many states have no estate tax whatsoever including North Carolina (repealed in 2013), Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arizona.
So what’s the bottom line? When it comes to retirees, relocating, and taxes there are a number of factors to consider–including the overall tax burden. And, as you’ve read here, not all states are created equal. If you’re thinking about retiring to another state, please consult us first. We’ll help you figure out which state is best for your particular circumstances.

Reminder: College Tax Credits for 2016
With another school year in full swing, now is a good time for parents and students to see if they qualify for either of two college tax credits or other education-related tax benefits when they file their 2016 federal income tax returns next year.
American Opportunity Tax Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit. In general, the American Opportunity Tax Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit is available to taxpayers who pay qualifying expenses for an eligible student. Eligible students include the taxpayer, spouse, and dependents. The American Opportunity Tax Credit provides a credit for each eligible student, while the Lifetime Learning Credit provides a maximum credit per tax return.
Though a taxpayer often qualifies for both of these credits, he or she can only claim one of them for a particular student in a particular year. To claim these credits on their tax return, the taxpayer must file Form 1040 or 1040A and complete Form 8863, Education Credits.
The credits apply to eligible students enrolled in an eligible college, university or vocational school, including both nonprofit and for-profit institutions. The credits are subject to income limits that could reduce the amount taxpayers can claim on their tax return.
Normally, a student will receive a Form 1098-T from their institution by Jan. 31, 2017. This form shows information about tuition paid or billed along with other information. However, amounts shown on this form may differ from amounts taxpayers are eligible to claim for these tax credits.
Many of those eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit qualify for the maximum annual credit of $2,500 per student. Students can claim this credit for qualified education expenses paid during the entire tax year for a certain number of years:
The credit is only available for four tax years per eligible student.
The credit is available only if the student has not completed the first four years of post-secondary education before 2016.
Here are some more key features of the credit:
Qualified education expenses are amounts paid for tuition, fees and other related expenses for an eligible student. Other expenses, such as room and board, are not qualified expenses.
The credit equals 100 percent of the first $2,000 spent and 25 percent of the next $2,000. That means the full $2,500 credit may be available to a taxpayer who pays $4,000 or more in qualified expenses for an eligible student.
Forty percent of the American Opportunity Tax Credit is refundable. This means that even people who owe no tax can get a payment of up to $1,000 for each eligible student.
The full credit can only be claimed by taxpayers whose modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is $80,000 or less. For married couples filing a joint return, the limit is $160,000. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with incomes above these levels. No credit can be claimed by joint filers whose MAGI is $180,000 or more and singles, heads of household and some widows and widowers whose MAGI is $90,000 or more.
Lifetime Learning Credit. The Lifetime Learning Credit of up to $2,000 per tax return is available for both graduate and undergraduate students. Unlike the American Opportunity Tax Credit, the limit on the Lifetime Learning Credit applies to each tax return, rather than to each student. Also, the Lifetime Learning Credit does not provide a benefit to people who owe no tax.
Though the half-time student requirement does not apply to the lifetime learning credit, the course of study must be either part of a post-secondary degree program or taken by the student to maintain or improve job skills. Other features of the credit include:
Tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance qualify as do other fees required for the course. Additional expenses do not.
The credit equals 20 percent of the amount spent on eligible expenses across all students on the return. That means the full $2,000 credit is only available to a taxpayer who pays $10,000 or more in qualifying tuition and fees and has sufficient tax liability.
Income limits are lower than under the American Opportunity Tax Credit. For 2016, the full credit can be claimed by taxpayers whose MAGI is $55,000 or less. For married couples filing a joint return, the limit is $111,000. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with incomes above these levels. No credit can be claimed by joint filers whose MAGI is $131,000 or more and singles, heads of household and some widows and widowers whose MAGI is $65,000 or more.
Eligible parents and students can get the benefit of these credits during the year by having less tax taken out of their paychecks. They can do this by filling out a new Form W-4 with their employer to claim additional withholding allowances.
There are a variety of other education-related tax benefits that can help many taxpayers. They include:
Scholarship and fellowship grants–generally tax-free if used to pay for tuition, required enrollment fees, books and other course materials, but taxable if used for room, board, research, travel or other expenses.
Tuition and fees deduction claimed on Form 8917–for some, a worthwhile alternative to the American Opportunity Tax Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit.
Student loan interest deduction of up to $2,500 per year.
Savings bonds used to pay for college–though income limits apply, interest is usually tax-free if bonds were purchased after 1989 by a taxpayer who, at time of purchase, was at least 24 years old.
Qualified tuition programs, also called 529 plans, used by many families to prepay or save for a child’s college education.
Taxpayers with qualifying children who are students up to age 24 may be able to claim a dependent exemption and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
If you have any questions about college tax credits, don’t hesitate to call.

Take Retirement Plan Distributions by December 31
Taxpayers born before July 1, 1946, generally must receive payments from their individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans by December 31.
Known as required minimum distributions (RMDs), typically these distributions must be made by the end of the tax year, in this case, 2016. The required distribution rules apply to owners of traditional, Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) and Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees (SIMPLE) IRAs but not Roth IRAs while the original owner is alive. They also apply to participants in various workplace retirement plans, including 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans.
An IRA trustee must either report the amount of the RMD to the IRA owner or offer to calculate it for the owner. Often, the trustee shows the RMD amount on Form 5498 in Box 12b. For a 2016 RMD, this amount is on the 2015 Form 5498 normally issued to the owner during January 2016.
A special rule allows first-year recipients of these payments, those who reached age 70 1/2 during 2016, to wait until as late as April 1, 2017, to receive their first RMDs. What this means that those born after June 30, 1945, and before July 1, 1946, are eligible. The advantage of this special rule is that although payments made to these taxpayers in early 2017 can be counted toward their 2016 RMD, they are taxable in 2017.
The special April 1 deadline only applies to the RMD for the first year. For all subsequent years, the RMD must be made by December 31. So, for example, a taxpayer who turned 70 1/2 in 2015 (born after June 30, 1944, and before July 1, 1945) and received the first RMD (for 2015) on April 1, 2016, must still receive a second RMD (for 2016) by December 31, 2016.
The RMD for 2016 is based on the taxpayer’s life expectancy on December 31, 2016, and their account balance on December 31, 2015. The trustee reports the year-end account value to the IRA owner on Form 5498 in Box 5. For most taxpayers, the RMD is based on Table III (Uniform Lifetime Table) in IRS Publication 590-B. For a taxpayer who turned 72 in 2016, the required distribution would be based on a life expectancy of 25.6 years. A separate table, Table II, applies to a taxpayer whose spouse is more than ten years younger and is the taxpayer’s only beneficiary. If you need assistance with this, don’t hesitate to call.
Though the RMD rules are mandatory for all owners of traditional, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs and participants in workplace retirement plans, some people in workplace plans can wait longer to receive their RMDs. Usually, employees who are still working can, if their plan allows, wait until April 1 of the year after they retire to start receiving these distributions; however, there may be a tax on excess accumulations. Employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations with 403(b) plan accruals before 1987 should check with their employer, plan administrator or provider to see how to treat these accruals.
For more information on RMDs, please call.

Plan now to take Advantage of Health FSAs in 2017
FSAs provide employees a way to use tax-free dollars to pay medical expenses not covered by other health plans. Because eligible employees need to decide how much to contribute through payroll deductions before the plan year begins, now is when many employers are offering employees the option to participate during the 2017 plan year.
Interested employees who wish to contribute to an FSA during the new year must make this choice again for 2017, even if they contributed in 2016. Self-employed individuals are not eligible.
An employee who chooses to participate can contribute up to $2,600 during the 2017 plan year (up from $2,550 in 2016). Amounts contributed are not subject to federal income tax, Social Security tax or Medicare tax. If the plan allows, the employer may also contribute to an employee’s FSA.
Throughout the year, employees can then use funds to pay qualified medical expenses not covered by their health plan, including co-pays, deductibles and a variety of medical products and services ranging from dental and vision care to eyeglasses and hearing aids. Interested employees should check with their employer for details about eligible expenses and claim procedures.
Under the use or lose provision, participating employees often must incur eligible expenses by the end of the plan year, or forfeit any unspent amounts. But under a special rule, employers may, if they choose, offer participating employees more time through either the carryover option or the grace period option.
Under the carryover option, an employee can carry over up to $500 of unused funds to the following plan year–for example, an employee with $500 of unspent funds at the end of 2017 would still have those funds available to use in 2018. Under the grace period option, an employee has until 2 1/2 months after the end of the plan year to incur eligible expenses–for example, March 15, 2018, for a plan year ending on Dec. 31, 2017. Employers can offer either option, but not both, or none at all.
Employers are not required to offer FSAs. Accordingly, interested employees should check with their employer to see if they offer an FSA. Please call if you have any questions about how FSA contributions affect your taxes.

Retirement Contributions Limits Announced for 2017
Cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2017 have been announced by the IRS. Here are the highlights:
In general, income ranges for determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), to contribute to Roth IRAs, and to claim the saver’s credit all increased for 2017. Contribution limits for SIMPLE retirement accounts for self-employed persons remains unchanged at $12,500.
Traditional IRAs
Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions; however, if during the year either the taxpayer or their spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be reduced, or phased out, until it is eliminated, depending on filing status and income. If neither the taxpayer nor their spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work, the phase-outs of the deduction do not apply. Here are the phase-out ranges for 2017:
For single taxpayers covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $62,000 to $72,000, up from $61,000 to $71,000.
For married couples filing jointly, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $99,000 to $119,000, up from $98,000 to $118,000.
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 $186,000 and $196,000, up from $184,000 and $194,000.
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.
Roth IRAs
The income phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $118,000 to $133,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $117,000 to $132,000. For married couples filing jointly, the income phase-out range is $186,000 to $196,000, up from $184,000 to $194,000. The phase-out range for a married individual filing a separate return who makes contributions to a Roth IRA is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.
Saver’s Credit
The income limit for the saver’s credit (also known as the retirement savings contributions credit) for low- and moderate-income workers is $62,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $61,500; $46,500 for heads of household, up from $46,125; and $31,000 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up from $30,750.
Limitations that remain unchanged from 2016
The contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $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 remains unchanged at $6,000.
The limit on annual contributions to an 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.
If you have any questions about retirement contributions or pension plans, don’t hesitate to contact the office.

Seasonal Workers and the Health Care Law
Businesses often need to hire workers on a seasonal or part-time basis. For example, some businesses may need seasonal help for holidays, harvest seasons, commercial fishing, or sporting events. Whether you are getting paid or paying someone else, questions often arise over whether these seasonal workers affect employers with regard to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
For the purposes of the Affordable Care Act the size of an employer is determined by the number of employees. As such, employer-offered benefits, opportunities, and requirements are dependent upon your organization’s size and the applicable rules. For instance, if you have at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during the prior year, you are an ALE (Applicable Large Employer) for the current calendar year.
If you hire seasonal or holiday workers, you should know how these employees are counted under the health care law:
A seasonal worker is generally defined for this purpose as an employee who performs labor or services on a seasonal basis, generally for not more than four months (or 120 days). Retail workers employed exclusively during holiday seasons, for example, are seasonal workers.
In contrast, a seasonal employee is an employee who is hired into a position for which the customary annual employment is six months or less, where the term “customary employment” refers to an employee who typically works each calendar year in approximately the same part of the year, such as summer or winter.
The terms seasonal worker and seasonal employee are both used in the employer shared responsibility provisions but in two different contexts. Only the term seasonal worker is relevant for determining whether an employer is an applicable large employer subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions; however, there is an exception for seasonal workers:
Exception: If your workforce exceeds 50 full-time employees for 120 days or fewer during a calendar year, and the employees in excess of 50 during that period were seasonal workers, your organization is not considered an ALE.
For additional information on hiring seasonal workers and how it affects the employer shared responsibility provisions please contact the office.

Creating Reports in QuickBooks, Part 2
QuickBooks is a faster, safer, and more accurate method of doing your bookkeeping than using a manual system is. Still, you may occasionally tire of your daily tasks and wonder what all of these forms and records mean in terms of your overall financial health–and how to create the reports that go along with them.
The actual mechanics of creating reports in QuickBooks are fairly straightforward. You can go to the Report Center, make a selection, maybe change the date range, and voila! Your company’s related data appears in neat rows and columns.

Figure 1: You may be able to get some of the information you need by simply changing the date range on a QuickBooks report.

But perhaps you to see different columns than what QuickBooks’ report templates include. Furthermore, you might want to filter your output for more meaningful, targeted analysis. Some of QuickBooks’ reports–particularly those included in the categories Company & Financial and Accountant & Taxes–can be a little advanced for the average small businessperson with little bookkeeping experience. Yes, they’re easy to run, but they are also difficult to understand so you may need the assistance of a professional.
We strongly encourage you to let an experienced QuickBooks professional run these more complex reports, such as the Balance Sheet, for you on a regular (monthly or quarterly) basis. Balance sheets provide valuable insight when making critical business decisions.
But don’t be discouraged from working with QuickBooks’ reports on your own either. Some of the easier reports are A/R Aging Detail (to keep an eye on past-due payments) and Unpaid Bills Detail (to see where you stand with your own financial obligations).
Make Reports Yours
Sometimes, QuickBooks’ own report output is a bit too broad for your needs. So the program provides sophisticated customization options. You can work with these to narrow down and shape the data that appears in your reports.
First, columns. Building reports from scratch would be too time-consuming and frustrating for you to do all of the time. And it’s unnecessary since QuickBooks provides templates for its reports, sets of columns and data filters that would serve some businesses well, but which can be modified by each user.
Try this. Open the Profit & Loss Detail report and click on the Customize Report button in the upper left corner. You will see that the Modify Report window opens.

Figure 2: QuickBooks lets you modify the columns that appear in reports.

The Display tab should be highlighted. Change the Report Date Range if necessary by clicking on the down arrow to the right of the Dates field. You can also create your own custom date range by deleting the dates in the From and To fields and entering new ones, or by clicking on the small calendar icons and clicking on the desired dates.
Warning: Do you understand the difference between running reports as either Accrual or Cash? This is important. If you don’t, please call the office to go over some basic report concepts.

It’s easy to change the default columns that appear in reports. You can either enter a column label in the Search Columns box or scroll down the list of all possible labels. Click in the space in front of the ones you want to include, and click on existing check marks if you want to remove those labels. You can also designate a sort order, either Ascending or Descending.
If you want to work with the Advanced options, or if you come across a Display screen that puzzles you (depending on the report, you may have some complex choices). Please call for assistance if you need it.

Figure 3: QuickBooks report Filters screen

When you’re done here, click on the Filters tab. This is a powerful element of QuickBooks report customization. You can limit your report output to data that meet certain criteria. In the image above, for example, you can tell QuickBooks which subset of Accounts should be included. Click on the Billing Status filter, and you can limit the results to Any, Not Billable, Unbilled, or Billed. You get the idea.
You can apply multiple filters to a report. Every one that you select will appear in the list under Current Filter Choices.
The Header/Footer and Fonts & Numbers tabs are primarily cosmetic options you can explore on your own, but as you can see from this brief overview there are many ways to use QuickBooks reports as is or customized for your particular situation. We recommend that you work with reports regularly, both on your own and with a QuickBooks professional. The insight they provide can help your company grow and flourish instead of just getting by.

Tax Due Dates for December 2016
December 12
Employees who work for tips – If you received $20 or more in tips during November, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

December 15
Corporations – Deposit the fourth installment of estimated income tax for 2016. A worksheet, Form 1120-W, is available to help you estimate your tax for the year.

Employers Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax – If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in November.

Employers Nonpayroll withholding – If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in November.

Copyright © 2016 All materials contained in this document are protected by U.S. and internationalcopyright laws. All other trade names, trademarks, registered trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.

Rex Crandell Firm
3000 Citrus Circle, #207
Walnut Creek, CA, 94598
Phone: (925) 934-6320
RexCrandell@astound.net

This video presents a few of the more important tax law changes that will need to be reflected on your 2016 individual IRS Form 1040  that you will be filing before April 15th 2017.

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A MESSAGE FROM REX CRANDELL’S TAX OFFICE:

Our firm provides income tax preparation and planning services for individuals, families, C Corporations, S Corporations, LLC Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, domestic partners, for income and deductions generated in California, the United States, and assist taxpayers internationally comply with the USA income tax reporting requirements. Rex Crandell, Esq. also provides services in the area of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Probate Procedures, Advance Healthcare Directives, Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Management, and Advance Health Care Directives.

You can contact Rex Crandell’s offices in Walnut Creek and San Francisco, California
by calling; 1 (800) 464-6595;
or (925) 934 6320, Walnut Creek, California;  or  (415) 982-1110, San Francisco, California

or by e-mail at:    rexcrandell@astound.net

http://www.rexcrandell.com/

http://www.taxrexcrandell.com/

We would be happy to hear from you.

…FROM REX CRANDELL’s OFFICE…

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

Very truly yours,
/s/ Rex L. Crandell 
Rex L. Crandell. CPA, Esq.

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FROM:

Rex L. Crandell Firm

Walnut Creek Office (For UPS/FedEx/OR if Signature Req’d Documents)

3000 Citrus Circle

Suite 207 – West Wing [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]

(925) 934-6320
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San Francisco Office

425 Market Street

22nd Floor [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]

(800) 464-6595
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E-Mail: mailto:rexcrandell@astound.net

Internet: http://www.rexcrandell.com

Internet 2nd Web http://taxrexcrandell.com
Internet 3rd Web http://estateplanningreport.wordpress.com


Internet 4th Web https://taxnewsonlinereport.wordpress.com/ 
Skype Address rex.crandell 
Fax: (925) 934-6325
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All U.S. Mail items [Except if Signature is required]:
P.O. Box 30305-Dept.  Tax News Blog Update
Walnut Creek, California 94598-9305 United States of America
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IT'S TAX TIME.  BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY EARLY. IT’S TAX TIME. BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY.
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This newsletter is intended to provide generalized information that is appropriate in certain situations. It is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The contents of this newsletter should not be acted upon without specific professional guidance. Please call us if you have questions.

__________________________________

DISCLAIMER: The sponsors and editors of this privately owned website are not goverment employees and do not represent nor speak for any governmental agency.

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Any accounting, business, legal or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.
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Congressman Trey Goudy roasts IRS Inspecter General for Wasting Taxpayer’s Money on a Sham “Training Event” that was more like an expensive employees vacation that anything of value.

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USA ~ EAGLE & FLAG Mov Gif 04FEB14

A MESSAGE FROM REX CRANDELL’S TAX OFFICE:

Our firm provides income tax preparation and planning services for individuals, families, C Corporations, S Corporations, LLC Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, domestic partners, for income and deductions generated in California, the United States, and assist taxpayers internationally comply with the USA income tax reporting requirements. Rex Crandell, Esq. also provides services in the area of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Probate Procedures, Advance Healthcare Directives, Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Management, and Advance Health Care Directives.

You can contact Rex Crandell’s offices in Walnut Creek and San Francisco, California
by calling; 1 (800) 464-6595;
or (925) 934 6320, Walnut Creek, California;  or  (415) 982-1110, San Francisco, California

or by e-mail at:    rexcrandell@astound.net

http://www.rexcrandell.com/

http://www.taxrexcrandell.com/

We would be happy to hear from you.

…FROM REX CRANDELL’s OFFICE…

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

Very truly yours,
/s/ Rex L. Crandell 
Rex L. Crandell. CPA, Esq.

image002

================================

FROM:

Rex L. Crandell Firm

Walnut Creek Office (For UPS/FedEx/OR if Signature Req’d Documents)

3000 Citrus Circle

Suite 207 – West Wing [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]

(925) 934-6320
————————-
San Francisco Office

425 Market Street

22nd Floor [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]

(800) 464-6595
—————————
E-Mail: mailto:rexcrandell@astound.net

Internet: http://www.rexcrandell.com

Internet 2nd Web http://taxrexcrandell.com
Internet 3rd Web http://estateplanningreport.wordpress.com

Internet 4th Web https://taxnewsonlinereport.wordpress.com/ 
Skype Address rex.crandell 
Fax: (925) 934-6325
———————–

All U.S. Mail items [Except if Signature is required]:
P.O. Box 30305-Dept.  Tax News Blog Update
Walnut Creek, California 94598-9305 United States of America
.

.

IT'S TAX TIME.  BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY EARLY. IT’S TAX TIME. BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY.
.

.

This newsletter is intended to provide generalized information that is appropriate in certain situations. It is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The contents of this newsletter should not be acted upon without specific professional guidance. Please call us if you have questions.

__________________________________

DISCLAIMER: The sponsors and editors of this privately owned website are not goverment employees and do not represent nor speak for any governmental agency.

image

======================
Any accounting, business, legal or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation.

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Kongressabgeordneter Trey Goudy brütet IRS Inspektor-General für das Vergeuden des Steuerzahlers Geld auf einem Sham “Trainings-Ereignis”, das mehr wie ein teurer Angestellter Urlaub war, der etwas von Wert ist.

/ S / Rex L Crandell.

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El congresista Trey Goudy asa al IRS Inspecter General por desperdiciar el dinero del contribuyente en un “evento de entrenamiento” que se parecía más a unas vacaciones costosas para los empleados que cualquier cosa de valor.

/ S / Rex L Crandell

El Fin.

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From Rex L. Crandell, CPA, Esq.

A new online service was created by the IRS for taxpayer’s to access their accounts to see the status of tax refunds, tax due, penalties & interest assessed and a section to may online tax payments. Now when you receive a letter from the IRS you can go online and get additional information about what the IRS is attempting to communicate.

         Tuesday, December 13 2016

IRS Launches New Online Tool to Assist Taxpayers with Basic Account Information.

IR-2016-155, Dec. 1, 2016

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service announced today the launch of an online application that will assist taxpayers with straightforward balance inquiries in a safe, easy and convenient way.

This new and secure tool, available on IRS.gov allows taxpayers to view their IRS account balance, which will include the amount they owe for tax, penalties and interest. Taxpayers may also continue to take advantage of the various online payment options available by accessing any of the payment features including: direct pay, pay by card and Online Payment Agreement. As part of the IRS vision for the future taxpayer experience, the IRS anticipates that other capabilities will continue to be added to this platform as they are developed and tested.

“This new tool is part of the IRS’s commitment to improve and expand taxpayer services by providing additional online taxpayer options,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The new ‘balance due’ feature, paired with the existing online payment options, will increase the availability of self-service interactions with the IRS. This will give taxpayers another way to take care of their tax obligations in a fast and secure manner.”

Before accessing the tool, taxpayers must authenticate their identities through the rigorous Secure Access process. This is a two-step authentication process, which means returning users must have their credentials (username and password) plus a security code sent as a text to their mobile phones.

Taxpayers who have registered using Secure Access for Get Transcript Online or Get an IP PIN may use their same username and password. To register for the first time, taxpayers must have an email address, a text-enabled mobile phone in the user’s name and specific financial information, such as a credit card number or specific loan numbers. Taxpayers may review the Secure Access  process prior to starting registration.

As part of the security process to authenticate taxpayers, the IRS will send verification, activation or security codes via email and text. The IRS warns taxpayers that it will not initiate contact via text or email asking for log-in information or personal data. The IRS texts and emails will only contain one-time codes.

In addition to this new functionality, the IRS continues to provide several self-service tools and helpful resources available on IRS.gov for individuals, businesses and tax professionals.

        Thank you for visiting our site.

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A MESSAGE FROM REX CRANDELL’S TAX OFFICE:

Our firm provides income tax preparation and planning services for individuals, families, C Corporations, S Corporations, LLC Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, domestic partners, for income and deductions generated in California, the United States, and assist taxpayers internationally comply with the USA income tax reporting requirements. Rex Crandell, Esq. also provides services in the area of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Probate Procedures, Advance Healthcare Directives, Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Management, and Advance Health Care Directives.

You can contact Rex Crandell’s offices in Walnut Creek and San Francisco, California
by calling; 1 (800) 464-6595;
or (925) 934 6320, Walnut Creek, California;  or  (415) 982-1110, San Francisco, California

or by e-mail at:    rexcrandell@astound.net

http://www.rexcrandell.com/

http://www.taxrexcrandell.com/

We would be happy to hear from you.

…FROM REX CRANDELL’s OFFICE…

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

Very truly yours,
/s/ Rex L. Crandell
Rex L. Crandell. CPA, Esq.

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FROM:

Rex L. Crandell Firm

Walnut Creek Office (For UPS/FedEx/OR if Signature Req’d Documents)

3000 Citrus Circle

Suite 207 – West Wing [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]

(925) 934-6320
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San Francisco Office

425 Market Street

22nd Floor [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]

(800) 464-6595
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E-Mail: mailto:rexcrandell@astound.net

Internet: http://www.rexcrandell.com

Internet 2nd Web http://taxrexcrandell.com
Internet 3rd Web http://estateplanningreport.wordpress.com


Internet 4th Web https://taxnewsonlinereport.wordpress.com/ 
Skype Address rex.crandell
Fax: (925) 934-6325
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All U.S. Mail items [Except if Signature is required]:
P.O. Box 30305-Dept.  Tax News Blog Update
Walnut Creek, California 94598-9305 United States of America
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IT'S TAX TIME.  BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY EARLY. IT’S TAX TIME. BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY.
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This newsletter is intended to provide generalized information that is appropriate in certain situations. It is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The contents of this newsletter should not be acted upon without specific professional guidance. Please call us if you have questions.

__________________________________

DISCLAIMER: The sponsors and editors of this privately owned website are not goverment employees and do not represent nor speak for any governmental agency.

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Any accounting, business, legal or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.
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USA ~ EAGLE & FLAG Mov Gif 04FEB14

A MESSAGE FROM REX CRANDELL’S TAX OFFICE:

Our firm provides income tax preparation and planning services for individuals, families, C Corporations, S Corporations, LLC Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, domestic partners, for income and deductions generated in California, the United States, and assist taxpayers internationally comply with the USA income tax reporting requirements. Rex Crandell, Esq. also provides services in the area of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Probate Procedures, Advance Healthcare Directives, Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Management, and Advance Health Care Directives.

You can contact Rex Crandell’s offices in Walnut Creek and San Francisco, California
by calling; 1 (800) 464-6595;
or (925) 934 6320, Walnut Creek, California;  or  (415) 982-1110, San Francisco, California

or by e-mail at:    rexcrandell@astound.net

http://www.rexcrandell.com/

http://www.taxrexcrandell.com/

We would be happy to hear from you.

…FROM REX CRANDELL’s OFFICE…

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

Very truly yours,
/s/ Rex L. Crandell
Rex L. Crandell. CPA, Esq.

============================================

FROM:

Rex L. Crandell Firm

Walnut Creek Office (For UPS/FedEx/OR if Signature Req’d Documents)

3000 Citrus Circle

Suite 207 – West Wing [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]

(925) 934-6320
————————-
San Francisco Office

425 Market Street

22nd Floor [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]

(800) 464-6595
—————————
E-Mail: mailto:rexcrandell@astound.net

Internet: http://www.rexcrandell.com

Internet 2nd Web http://taxrexcrandell.com
Internet 3rd Web http://estateplanningreport.wordpress.com


Internet 4th Web https://taxnewsonlinereport.wordpress.com/ 
Skype Address rex.crandell
Fax: (925) 934-6325
———————–

All U.S. Mail items [Except if Signature is required]:
P.O. Box 30305-Dept.  Tax News Blog Update
Walnut Creek, California 94598-9305 United States of America
.

.

IT'S TAX TIME. BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY EARLY. IT’S TAX TIME. BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY.
.

.

This newsletter is intended to provide generalized information that is appropriate in certain situations. It is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The contents of this newsletter should not be acted upon without specific professional guidance. Please call us if you have questions.

__________________________________

DISCLAIMER: The sponsors and editors of this privately owned website are not goverment employees and do not represent nor speak for any governmental agency.

image

======================
Any accounting, business, legal or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.
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Newsletter

Our regularly updated newsletter provides timely articles to help you achieve your financial goals. Please come back and visit often. 

November 21, 2016

Feature Articles
Year-End Tax Planning for Individuals
Year-End Tax Planning for BusinessesWhen Disaster Strikes
ACA Requirements for
EmployersThe Overtime Rule: What Employers Need to KnowTax TipsTips for Taxpayers about Charity Travel ExpensesEmployers: Terms to Know about Health CoverageTax Relief for Drought-Stricken FarmersTax Tips for Separated or Divorced IndividualsEnergy Tax Credits Expire at the end of 2016

November 21, 2016

Tax Due Dates

Any accounting, business or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as athorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, wewould be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separateengagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.

Year-End Tax Planning for Individuals
Tax planning strategies for individuals this year include postponing income and accelerating deductions, as well as careful consideration of timing related investments, charitable gifts, and retirement planning.
General tax planning strategies that taxpayers might consider include the following:
Sell any investments on which you have a gain or loss this year. For more on this, see Investment Gains and Losses, below.
If you anticipate an increase in taxable income in 2016 and are expecting a bonus at year-end, try to get it before December 31. Keep in mind, however, that contractual bonuses are different, in that they are typically not paid out until the first quarter of the following year. Therefore, any taxes owed on a contractual bonus would not be due until you file your 2017 tax return in 2018. Don’t hesitate to call the office if you have any questions about this.
Prepay deductible expenses such as charitable contributions and medical expenses this year using a credit card. This strategy works because deductions may be taken based on when the expense was charged on the credit card, not when the bill was paid.
For example, if you charge a medical expense in December but pay the bill in January, assuming it’s an eligible medical expense, it can be taken as a deduction on your 2016 tax return.
If your company grants stock options, you may want to exercise the option or sell stock acquired by exercise of an option this year if you think your tax bracket will be higher in 2017. Exercising this option is often but not always a taxable event; sale of the stock is almost always a taxable event.
If you’re self-employed, send invoices or bills to clients or customers this year to be paid in full by the end of December.
Caution: Keep an eye on the estimated tax requirements.
Accelerating Income and Deductions
Accelerating income into 2016 is an especially good idea for taxpayers who anticipate being in a higher tax bracket next year or whose earnings are close to threshold amounts ($200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for married filing jointly) that make them liable for additional Medicare Tax or Net Investment Income Tax (see below).
In cases where tax benefits are phased out over a certain adjusted gross income (AGI) amount, a strategy of accelerating income and deductions might allow you to claim larger deductions, credits, and other tax breaks for 2016, depending on your situation.
The latter benefits include Roth IRA contributions, conversions of regular IRAs to Roth IRAs, child credits, higher education tax credits and deductions for student loan interest.
Caution: Taxpayers close to threshold amounts for the Net Investment Income Tax (3.8 percent of net investment income) should pay close attention to “one-time” income spikes such as those associated with Roth conversions, sale of a home or other large assets that may be subject to tax.
Tip: If you know you have a set amount of income coming in this year that is not covered by withholding taxes, increasing your withholding before year-end can avoid or reduce any estimated tax penalty that might otherwise be due.
Tip: On the other hand, the penalty could be avoided by covering the extra tax in your final estimated tax payment and computing the penalty using the annualized income method.
Here are several examples of what a taxpayer might do to accelerate deductions:
Pay a state estimated tax installment in December instead of at the January due date. However, make sure the payment is based on a reasonable estimate of your state tax.
Pay your entire property tax bill, including installments due in year 2017, by year-end. This does not apply to mortgage escrow accounts.
It may be beneficial to pay 2017 tuition in 2016 to take full advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, an above-the-line deduction worth up to $2,500 per student to cover the cost of tuition, fees and course materials paid during the taxable year. Forty percent of the credit (up to $1,000) is refundable, which means you can get it even if you owe no tax.
Try to bunch “threshold” expenses, such as medical and dental expenses–10 percent of AGI (adjusted gross income)–and miscellaneous itemized deductions. For example, you might pay medical bills and dues and subscriptions in whichever year they would do you the most tax good.
Note: The temporary exemption of 7.5 percent for individuals age 65 and older and their spouses ends on through December 31, 2016.
Threshold expenses are deductible only to the extent they exceed a certain percentage of adjusted gross income (AGI). By bunching these expenses into one year, rather than spreading them out over two years, you have a better chance of exceeding the thresholds, thereby maximizing your deduction.
If you haven’t signed up for health insurance this year, do so now and avoid or reduce any penalty you might be subject to. Depending on your income, you may be able to claim the premium tax credit that reduces your premium payment or reduces your tax obligations, as long as you meet certain requirements. You can choose to get the credit immediately or receive it as a refund when you file your taxes next spring. Please contact the office if you need assistance with this.
Additional Medicare Tax
Taxpayers whose income exceeds certain threshold amounts ($200,000 single filers and $250,000 married filing jointly) are liable for an additional Medicare tax of 0.9 percent on their tax returns, but may request that their employers withhold additional income tax from their pay to be applied against their tax liability when filing their 2016 tax return next April.
High net worth individuals should consider contributing to Roth IRAs and 401(k) because distributions are not subject to the Medicare Tax.
If you’re a taxpayer close to the threshold for the Medicare Tax, it might make sense to switch Roth retirement contributions to a traditional IRA plan, thereby avoiding the 3.8 percent Net Investment Income Tax as well (more about the NIIT below).
Alternate Minimum TaxThe Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) exemption “patch,” which was made permanent by the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) of 2012, is indexed for inflation and it’s important not to overlook the effect of any year-end planning moves on the AMT for 2016 and 2017.
Items that may affect AMT include deductions for state property taxes and state income taxes, miscellaneous itemized deductions, and personal exemptions. Please call if you’re not sure whether AMT applies to you.
Note: AMT exemption amounts for 2016 are as follows:
$53,900 for single and head of household filers,
$83,800 for married people filing jointly and for qualifying widows or widowers,
$41,900 for married people filing separately.
Charitable Contributions
Property, as well as money, can be donated to a charity. You can generally take a deduction for the fair market value of the property; however, for certain property, the deduction is limited to your cost basis. While you can also donate your services to charity, you may not deduct the value of these services. You may also be able to deduct charity-related travel expenses and some out-of-pocket expenses, however.
Keep in mind that a written record of your charitable contributions–including travel expenses such as mileage–is required in order to qualify for a deduction. A donor may not claim a deduction for any contribution of cash, a check or other monetary gift unless the donor maintains a record of the contribution in the form of either a bank record (such as a cancelled check) or written communication from the charity (such as a receipt or a letter) showing the name of the charity, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution.
Tip: Contributions of appreciated property (i.e. stock) provide an additional benefit because you avoid paying capital gains on any profit.
Investment Gains and Losses
This year, and in the coming years, investment decisions are likely to be more about managing capital gains than about minimizing taxes per se. For example, taxpayers below threshold amounts in 2016 might want to take gains; whereas taxpayers above threshold amounts might want to take losses.
Caution: In recent years, extreme fluctuations in the stock market have been commonplace. Don’t assume that a down market means investment losses. Your cost basis may be low if you’ve held the stock for a long time.
If your tax bracket is either 10 or 15 percent (married couples making less than $75,300 or single filers making less than $37,650), then you might want to take advantage of the zero percent tax rate on qualified dividends and long-term capital gains. If you fall into the highest tax bracket (39.6 percent), the maximum tax rate on long-term capital gains is capped at 20 percent for tax years 2013 and beyond.
Minimize taxes on investments by judicious matching of gains and losses. Where appropriate, try to avoid short-term capital gains, which are usually taxed at a much higher tax rate than long-term gains–up to 39.6 percent in 2016 for high-income earners ($415,050 single filers, $466,950 married filing jointly).
Where feasible, reduce all capital gains and generate short-term capital losses up to $3,000.
Tip: As a general rule, if you have a large capital gain this year, consider selling an investment on which you have an accumulated loss. Capital losses up to the amount of your capital gains plus $3,000 per year ($1,500 if married filing separately) can be claimed as a deduction against income.
Tip: After selling a securities investment to generate a capital loss, you can repurchase it after 30 days. This is known as the “Wash Rule Sale.” If you buy it back within 30 days, the loss will be disallowed. Or you can immediately repurchase a similar (but not the same) investment, e.g., and ETF or another mutual fund with the same objectives as the one you sold.
Tip: If you have losses, you might consider selling securities at a gain and then immediately repurchasing them, since the 30-day rule does not apply to gains. That way, your gain will be tax-free; your original investment is restored, and you have a higher cost basis for your new investment (i.e., any future gain will be lower).
Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT)
The Net Investment Income Tax, which went into effect in 2013, is a 3.8 percent tax that is applied to investment income such as long-term capital gains for earners above certain threshold amounts ($200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly). Short-term capital gains are subject to ordinary income tax rates as well as the 3.8 percent NIIT. This information is something to think about as you plan your long-term investments. Business income is not considered subject to the NIIT provided the individual business owner materially participates in the business.
Please call if you need assistance with any of your long term tax planning goals.
Mutual Fund Investments
Before investing in a mutual fund, ask whether a dividend is paid at the end of the year or whether a dividend will be paid early in the next year but be deemed paid this year. The year-end dividend could make a substantial difference in the tax you pay.
Example: You invest $20,000 in a mutual fund at the end of 2016. You opt for automatic reinvestment of dividends, and in late December of 2016, the fund pays a $1,000 dividend on the shares you bought. The $1,000 is automatically reinvested.
Result: You must pay tax on the $1,000 dividend. You will have to take funds from another source to pay that tax because of the automatic reinvestment feature. The mutual fund’s long-term capital gains pass through to you as capital gains dividends taxed at long-term rates, however long or short your holding period.
The mutual fund’s distributions to you of dividends it receives generally qualify for the same tax relief as long-term capital gains. If the mutual fund passes through its short-term capital gains, these will be reported to you as “ordinary dividends” that don’t qualify for relief.
Depending on your financial circumstances, it may or may not be a good idea to buy shares right before the fund goes ex-dividend. For instance, the distribution could be relatively small, with only minor tax consequences. Or the market could be moving up, with share prices expected to be higher after the ex-dividend date.
Tip: To find out a fund’s ex-dividend date, call the fund directly.
Please call if you’d like more information on how dividends paid out by mutual funds affect your taxes this year and next.
Year-End Giving To Reduce Your Potential Estate Tax
The federal gift and estate tax exemption, which is currently set at $5.45 million, is set to increase to $5.49 million in 2017. ATRA set the maximum estate tax rate set at 40 percent.
Gift Tax. For many, sound estate planning begins with lifetime gifts to family members. In other words, gifts that reduce the donor’s assets subject to future estate tax. Such gifts are often made at year-end, during the holiday season, in ways that qualify for exemption from federal gift tax.
Gifts to a donee are exempt from the gift tax for amounts up to $14,000 a year per donee.
Caution: An unused annual exemption doesn’t carry over to later years. To make use of the exemption for 2016, you must make your gift by December 31.
Husband-wife joint gifts to any third person are exempt from gift tax for amounts up to $28,000 ($14,000 each). Though what’s given may come from either you or your spouse or both of you, both of you must consent to such “split gifts.”
Gifts of “future interests,” assets that the donee can only enjoy at some future time such as certain gifts in trust, generally don’t qualify for exemption; however, gifts for the benefit of a minor child can be made to qualify.
Tip: If you’re considering adopting a plan of lifetime giving to reduce future estate tax, don’t hesitate to call the office for assistance.
Cash or publicly traded securities raise the fewest problems. You may choose to give property you expect to increase substantially in value later. Shifting future appreciation to your heirs keeps that value out of your estate. But this can trigger IRS questions about the gift’s true value when given.
You may choose to give property that has already appreciated. The idea here is that the donee, not you, will realize and pay income tax on future earnings and built-in gain on sale.
Gift tax returns for 2016 are due the same date as your income tax return. Returns are required for gifts over $14,000 (including husband-wife split gifts totaling more than $14,000) and gifts of future interests. Though you are not required to file if your gifts do not exceed $14,000, you might consider filing anyway as a tactical move to block a future IRS challenge about gifts not “adequately disclosed.”
Tip: Call if you’re considering making a gift of property whose value isn’t unquestionably less than $14,000.
Income earned on investments you give to children or other family members are generally taxed to them, not to you. In the case of dividends paid on stock given to your children, they may qualify for the reduced child tax rate, generally 10 percent, where the first $1,050 in investment income is exempt from tax and the next $1,050 is subject to a child’s tax rate of 10 percent (0 percent tax rate on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends).
Caution: In 2016, investment income for a child (under age 18 at the end of the tax year or a full-time student under age 24) that is in excess of $2,100 is taxed at the parent’s tax rate.
Other Year-End Moves
Retirement Plan Contributions. Maximize your retirement plan contributions. If you own an incorporated or unincorporated business, consider setting up a retirement plan if you don’t already have one. It doesn’t actually need to be funded until you pay your taxes, but allowable contributions will be deductible on this year’s return.
If you are an employee and your employer has a 401(k), contribute the maximum amount ($18,000 for 2016), plus an additional catch-up contribution of $6,000 if age 50 or over, assuming the plan allows this and income restrictions don’t apply.
If you are employed or self-employed with no retirement plan, you can make a deductible contribution of up to $5,500 a year to a traditional IRA (deduction is sometimes allowed even if you have a plan). Further, there is also an additional catch-up contribution of $1,000 if age 50 or over.
Health Savings Accounts. Consider setting up a health savings account (HSA). You can deduct contributions to the account, investment earnings are tax-deferred until withdrawn, and amounts you withdraw are tax-free when used to pay medical bills.
In effect, medical expenses paid from the account are deductible from the first dollar (unlike the usual rule limiting such deductions to the excess over 10 percent of AGI). For amounts withdrawn at age 65 or later that are not used for medical bills, the HSA functions much like an IRA.
To be eligible, you must have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), and only such insurance, subject to numerous exceptions, and must not be enrolled in Medicare. For 2016, to qualify for the HSA, your minimum deductible in your HDHP must be at least $1,300 for single coverage or $2,600 for a family.
Summary
These are just a few of the steps you might take. Please contact the office for assistance with implementing these and other year-end planning strategies that might be suitable to your particular situation.

Year-End Tax Planning for Businesses
There are a number of end of year tax planning strategies that businesses can use to reduce their tax burden for 2016. Here are a few of them:
Deferring Income
Businesses using the cash method of accounting can defer income into 2017 by delaying end-of-year invoices so payment is not received until 2017. Businesses using the accrual method can defer income by postponing delivery of goods or services until January 2017.
Purchase New Business Equipment
Section 179 Expensing. Business should take advantage of Section 179 expensing this year for a couple of reasons. First, is that in 2016 businesses can elect to expense (deduct immediately) the entire cost of most new equipment up to a maximum of $500,000 for the first $2,010,000 million of property placed in service by December 31, 2016. Keep in mind that the Section 179 deduction cannot exceed net taxable business income. The deduction is phased out dollar for dollar on amounts exceeding the $2.01 million threshold and eliminated above amounts exceeding $2.5 million.
Bonus Depreciation. Businesses are able to depreciate 50 percent of the cost of equipment acquired and placed in service during 2015, 2016 and 2017. However, the bonus depreciation is reduced to 40 percent in 2018 and 30 percent in 2019.
Qualified property is defined as property that you placed in service during the tax year and used predominantly (more than 50 percent) in your trade or business. Property that is placed in service and then disposed of in that same tax year does not qualify, nor does property converted to personal use in the same tax year it is acquired.
Note: Many states have not matched these amounts and, therefore, state tax may not allow for the maximum federal deduction. In this case, two sets of depreciation records will be needed to track the federal and state tax impact.
Please contact the office if you have any questions regarding qualified property.
Timing. If you plan to purchase business equipment this year, consider the timing. You might be able to increase your tax benefit if you buy equipment at the right time. Here’s a simplified explanation:
Conventions. The tax rules for depreciation include “conventions” or rules for figuring out how many months of depreciation you can claim. There are three types of conventions. To select the correct convention, you must know the type of property and when you placed the property in service.
The half-year convention: This convention applies to all property except residential rental property, nonresidential real property, and railroad gradings and tunnel bores (see mid-month convention below) unless the mid-quarter convention applies. All property that you begin using during the year is treated as “placed in service” (or “disposed of”) at the midpoint of the year. This means that no matter when you begin using (or dispose of) the property, you treat it as if you began using it in the middle of the year.
Example: You buy a $40,000 piece of machinery on December 15. If the half-year convention applies, you get one-half year of depreciation on that machine.
The mid-quarter convention: The mid-quarter convention must be used if the cost of equipment placed in service during the last three months of the tax year is more than 40 percent of the total cost of all property placed in service for the entire year. If the mid-quarter convention applies, the half-year rule does not apply, and you treat all equipment placed in service during the year as if it were placed in service at the midpoint of the quarter in which you began using it.
The mid-month convention:This convention applies only to residential rental property, nonresidential real property, and railroad gradings and tunnel bores. It treats all property placed in service (or disposed of) during any month as placed in service (or disposed of) on the midpoint of that month.
If you’re planning on buying equipment for your business, call the office and speak to a tax professional who can help you figure out the best time to buy that equipment and take full advantage of these tax rules.
Other Year-End Moves to Take Advantage Of
Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. Small business employers with 25 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees (average annual wages of $52,000 in 2016) may qualify for a tax credit to help pay for employees’ health insurance. The credit is 50 percent (35 percent for non-profits).
Business Energy Investment Tax Credit. Business energy investment tax credits are still available for eligible systems placed in service on or before December 31, 2016, and businesses that want to take advantage of these tax credits can still do so.
Business energy credits include solar energy systems (passive solar and solar pool-heating systems excluded), fuel cells and microturbines, and an increased credit amount for fuel cells. The extended tax provision also established new credits for small wind-energy systems, geothermal heat pumps, and combined heat and power (CHP) systems. Utilities are allowed to use the credits as well.
Repair Regulations. Where possible, end of year repairs and expenses should be deducted immediately, rather than capitalized and depreciated. Small businesses lacking applicable financial statements (AFS) are able to take advantage of de minimis safe harbor by electing to deduct smaller purchases ($2,500 or less per purchase or per invoice). Businesses with applicable financial statements are able to deduct $5,000. Small business with gross receipts of $10 million or less can also take advantage of safe harbor for repairs, maintenance, and improvements to eligible buildings. Please call if you would like more information on this topic.
Partnership or S-Corporation Basis. Partners or S corporation shareholders in entities that have a loss for 2016 can deduct that loss only up to their basis in the entity. However, they can take steps to increase their basis to allow a larger deduction. Basis in the entity can be increased by lending the entity money or making a capital contribution by the end of the entity’s tax year.
Caution: Remember that by increasing basis, you’re putting more of your funds at risk. Consider whether the loss signals further troubles ahead.
Section 199 Deduction. Businesses with manufacturing activities could qualify for a Section 199 domestic production activities deduction. By accelerating salaries or bonuses attributable to domestic production gross receipts in the last quarter of 2016, businesses can increase the amount of this deduction. Please call to find out how your business can take advantage of Section 199.
Retirement Plans. Self-employed individuals who have not yet done so should set up self-employed retirement plans before the end of 2016. Call today if you need help setting up a retirement plan.
Dividend Planning. Reduce accumulated corporate profits and earnings by issuing corporate dividends to shareholders.
Budgets. Every business, whether small or large should have a budget. The need for a business budget may seem obvious, but many companies overlook this critical business planning tool.
A budget is extremely effective in making sure your business has adequate cash flow and in ensuring financial success. Once the budget has been created, then monthly actual revenue amounts can be compared to monthly budgeted amounts. If actual revenues fall short of budgeted revenues, expenses must generally be cut.
Tip: Year-end is the best time for business owners to meet with their accountants to budget revenues and expenses for the following year.
If you need help developing a budget for your business, don’t hesitate to call.
Call a Tax Professional First
These are just a few of the year-end planning tax moves that could make a substantial difference in your tax bill for 2016. If you’d like more information about tax planning for 2017, please call to schedule a consultation to discuss your specific tax and financial needs, and develop a plan that works for your business.

When Disaster Strikes
Special tax law provisions may help taxpayers and businesses recover financially from the impact of a disaster, especially when the federal government declares their location to be a major disaster area. With hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters affecting so many homeowners and businesses throughout the US this year, here is some useful information about disaster-related tax relief that taxpayers should know about:
Immediate relief. If you have damaged or lost property in a location declared by the President as a major disaster area, you may be able to get some money back from the IRS right now. Please call the office for more information.
Tax filing and penalty relief. The IRS automatically provides filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in the disaster area. Thus, taxpayers need not contact the IRS to get this relief. However, if an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date falling within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.
Taxpayers who live outside the disaster area. In addition, the IRS will work with any taxpayer who lives outside the disaster area but whose records necessary to meet a deadline occurring during the postponement period are located in the affected area. This also includes workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization. Don’t hesitate to contact the office if you need assistance with this.
Disaster-related losses. Individuals and businesses who suffer uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (in this instance, the 2016 return normally filed next year), or the return for the prior year (2015).
Retirement plan hardship distributions. Finally, employees and certain members of their families who live or work in disaster area localities affected by Hurricane Matthew who participate in employee sponsored retirement accounts such as 401(k)s, 403(b) tax-sheltered annuities, and state and local government employees with 457(b) deferred-compensation plans may be eligible to take loans and hardship distributions without incurring the 10 percent early withdrawal tax penalty.
Tax Relief Specifically for Victims of Hurricane Matthew
Hurricane Matthew victims in much of North Carolina and parts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida have until March 15, 2017, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments. This includes an additional filing extension for those with valid extensions that were due on October 17, 2016.
This expanded relief applies to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as qualifying for either individual assistance or public assistance. In addition, taxpayers in counties that are added later to the disaster area will automatically receive the same filing and payment relief.
The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on October 4, 2016. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until March 15, 2017, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. This includes the January 17 deadline for making quarterly estimated tax payments.
For individual tax filers, it also includes 2015 income tax returns that received a tax-filing extension until October 17, 2016. However, because tax payments related to these 2015 returns were originally due on April 18, 2016, those are not eligible for this relief.
A variety of business tax deadlines are also affected including the October 31 and January 31 deadlines for quarterly payroll and excise tax returns. It also includes the special March 1 deadline that applies to farmers and fishermen who choose to forgo making quarterly estimated tax payments.
In addition, the IRS is waiving late-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due on or after October 4 and before October 19 if the deposits are made by October 19, 2016.
Ready to Help
Please call the office if you have any questions about the impact of a natural disaster on your tax situation or need assistance figuring out what you need to do next.

ACA Requirements for Employers
The health care law contains tax provisions that affect employers. The size and structure of a workforce–small or large–helps determine which parts of the law apply to which employers. Calculating the number of employees is especially important for employers that have close to 50 employees or whose workforce fluctuates during the year.
Two parts of the Affordable Care Act apply only to applicable large employers. These are the employer shared responsibility provisions and the employer information reporting provisions for offers of minimum essential coverage.
The number of employees an employer has during the current year determines whether it is an applicable large employer (ALE) for the following year. For example, you will use information about the size of your workforce during 2016 to determine if your organization is an ALE for 2017.
Applicable large employers are generally those with 50 or more full-time employees or full-time equivalent employees. Under the employer shared responsibility provision, ALEs are required to offer their full-time employees and dependents affordable coverage that provides minimum value. Employers with fewer than 50 full-time or full-time equivalent employees are not applicable large employers.
Who is a Full-time Employee?
There are many additional rules on determining who is a full-time employee, including what counts as hours of service, but in general:
A full-time employee is an employee who is employed on average, per month, at least 30 hours of service per week, or at least 130 hours of service in a calendar month.A full-time equivalent employee is a combination of employees, each of whom individually is not a full-time employee, but who, in combination, are equivalent to a full-time employee.An aggregated group is commonly owned or otherwise related or affiliated employers, which must combine their employees to determine their workforce size.
To determine your workforce size for a year, you add your total number of full-time employees for each month of the prior calendar year to the total number of full-time equivalent employees for each calendar month of the prior calendar year and divide that total number by 12. If the result is 50 or more employees, you are an applicable large employer.
Employers with Fewer than 50 Employees
If an employer has fewer than 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during the prior year, the employer is not an ALE for the current calendar year. Therefore, the employer is not subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions or the employer information reporting provisions for the current year.
Information Reporting (Including Self-Insured Employers)
All providers of health coverage, including employers that provide self-insured coverage, must file annual returns with the IRS reporting information about the coverage and about each covered individual. The coverage is reported on a Form 1095-B, Health Coverage and the employer must also furnish a copy of Form 1095-B to the employee by March 2, 2017.
Tax Credits
Certain employers may be eligible for the small business health care tax credit if they:
cover at least 50 percent of employees’ premium costshave fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees with average annual wages of less than $52,000 in 2016 (indexed for inflation)purchase their coverage through the Small Business Health Options Program.
Employers with fewer than 50 full-time employees or full-time equivalent employees are not subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions.
Employers with 50 or More EmployeesInformation Reporting
All employers including applicable large employers that provide self-insured health coverage must file an annual return for individuals they cover, and provide a statement to responsible individuals.
Applicable large employers must file an annual return–and provide a statement to each full-time employee–reporting whether they offered health insurance, and if so, what insurance they offered their employees.
ALEs are required to furnish a statement to each full-time employee that includes the same information provided to the IRS by March 2, 2017. ALEs that file 250 or more information returns during the calendar year must file the returns electronically.
Employer Shared Responsibility Payment
ALEs are subject to the employer shared responsibility payment if at least one full-time employee receives the premium tax credit and any one these conditions apply. The ALE:
failed to offer coverage to full-time employees and their dependentsoffered coverage that was not affordableoffered coverage that did not provide a minimum level of coverage
Questions? Don’t hesitate to call for assistance.

The Overtime Rule: What Employers Need to Know
Approximately 4.2 million employees are expected to benefit from the new overtime rule that goes into effect on December 1, 2016. Here’s what employers need to know about the new overtime regulations.
What is the Overtime Rule?
The final overtime rule raises the salary threshold for overtime eligibility from $455/week to $913 ($47,476 per year). What this means for employers is that if you have an employee that makes less than $47,476 ($913 a week), then he or she automatically qualifies for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours per week.
In accordance with the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) employers are required to pay at least a minimum wage for up to 40 hours per week and to pay overtime for hours in excess of 40; however, many workers with at least some managerial duties who make between $23,660 and $47,476 are currently considered “exempt” from overtime pay. The Final Overtime Rule is, among other things, intended to make sure that these workers are adequately compensated, ensuring all employees that make less than $47,476 ($913 a week) automatically qualify for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours per week.
What is the Effective Date?
Starting December 1, 2016, regular employees paid $913 per week will be eligible for overtime time for any works worked in excess of 40 hours effective on that date. Further, the exemption salary threshold for highly compensated employees (more on this below) rises to $134,004 per year. Exempt employees are not subject to overtime pay.
Future automatic updates to salary threshold amounts will occur every three years, beginning on January 1, 2020. The Department of Labor will publish all updated rates in the Federal Register at least 150 days before their effective date, and also post them on the Wage and Hour Division’s website.
Are all Businesses Affected by the new Overtime Regulations?
All businesses are affected by the overtime regulations; however, because the overtime regulations fall under the FLSA, only businesses with gross annual sales of $500,000 or that are engaged in interstate commerce must comply with the new overtime rule.
How does the new Overtime Rule affect a Highly Compensated Employee (HCE)?
The Final Rule sets the HCE total annual compensation level equal to the 90th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers nationally ($134,004 annually).
To be exempt as an HCE, an employee must also receive at least the new standard salary amount of $913 per week on a salary or fee basis and pass a minimal duties test. The HCE annual compensation level set in this Final Rule brings this threshold more in line with the level established in 2004 and will avoid the unintended exemption of large numbers of employees in high-wage areas who are clearly not performing EAP (executive, administrative, and professional) duties.
Are Commissions or Bonuses Included in the Salary Calculation?
Up to 10 percent of total compensation meeting the salary threshold amount can be in the form of bonuses or commissions. Prior to the new rule, employers were not permitted to count these forms of compensation toward meeting the minimum salary threshold for overtime.
Employers will now be able to use non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments such as including commissions to satisfy up to 10 percent of the standard salary level. However, for employers to credit non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments toward a portion of the standard salary level test, payments must be paid on at least a quarterly basis. It is the employer’s discretion when the quarter will begin (i.e. not necessarily a calendar quarter).
Example: You pay an employee $821.70 per week and s/he also receives a bonus of $1,186.90 every quarter. The base pay plus the bonus ($91.30 x 13 weeks in a quarter) is equivalent to paying your employee a salary of $913 per week.
The Final Rule also allows an employer to make a “catch-up” payment. Catch-up payments are made when an employee doesn’t meet their sales quota in a given quarter (and doesn’t earn their expected quarterly commission) but exceeds a sales quota during the next quarter. In this case, an employer is able to make a catch-up payment and avoid paying overtime compensation.
Example: Let’s say your employee typically earns a commission of at least $1,500 every 13 weeks (quarter). You pay the employee a weekly salary of $821.70 (90 percent) and anticipate applying the 10 percent bonus commission ($91.30) toward the total salary requirement of $913 per week. However, the employee doesn’t meet his sales quota and only earns a commission of $1,000 or $76.92 per week, which is $14.38 less than required to meet the $913 per week requirement. In this example, employers are allowed to make a catch-up payment in the next quarter of $186.94 ($14.38 x 13 weeks) to maintain the employee’s exempt from overtime status.
Nondiscretionary bonuses. A form of compensation promised to employees, for example, to induce them to work more efficiently or to remain with the company.
Discretionary bonuses. The decision to award the bonus and the payment amount is at the employer’s sole discretion. For example, a previously unannounced holiday bonus qualifies as a discretionary bonus, because the bonus is entirely at the discretion of the employer, and therefore could not satisfy any portion of the standard salary threshold level of $913 per week.
Note: For businesses that pay employees large bonuses the amount attributable toward the standard salary level is capped at 10 percent of the required salary amount.
Non-discretionary bonuses and commissions continue to count toward the total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees ($134,004) as long as the HCE receives at least the full standard salary amount each pay period ($913).
What are my Options as an Employer?
While the new overtime regulations don’t specify exactly what actions employers need to take, there are a number of ways that employers can comply such as:
Increasing workers’ salaries so they are exempt from the overtime salary thresholdPaying the mandatory time-and-a-half for overtime hours in excess of 40 hours per weekReducing base salaries, but keep overtime pay with the goal of keeping weekly pay the sameUsing a combination of the aboveAre you Ready for the new Overtime Rule?
The best way to prepare for the new overtime rule is to understand how it works and how it will affect your business and your employees. Please call the office if you have any questions or need assistance complying with the new regulations.

Tips for Taxpayers about Charity Travel Expenses
Do you plan to donate your time to charity this year? If travel is part of your charitable giving, for example, driving your personal auto to collect donations from local business, you may be able to these travel expenses on your tax return and lower your tax bill. Here are five tax tips you should know if you travel while giving your services to charity.
1. Qualified Charities. To deduct your costs, your volunteer work must be for a qualified charity. Most groups must apply to the IRS to become qualified. Churches and governments are generally qualified and do not need to apply to the IRS. Ask the group about its status before you donate. You can also use the “Exempt Organizations Select Check” search tool on IRS.gov to check a group’s status or call the office.
2. Out-of-Pocket Expenses. You can’t deduct the value of your services that you give to charity. But you may be able to deduct some out-of-pocket costs you pay to give your services. This can include the cost of travel, but they must be necessary while you are away from home. All out-of-pocket costs must be:
Unreimbursed,Directly connected with the services,Expenses you had only because of the services you gave, andNot personal, living or family expenses.
3. Genuine and Substantial Duty. Your charity work has to be real and substantial throughout the trip. You can’t deduct expenses if you only have nominal duties or do not have any duties for significant parts of the trip.
4. Value of Time or Service. You can’t deduct the value of your time or services that you give to charity. This includes income lost while you serve as an unpaid volunteer for a qualified charity.
5. Travel You Can Deduct. The types of expenses that you may be able to deduct include: Air, rail and bus transportation, car expenses, lodging costs, cost of meals, and taxi or other transportation costs between the airport or station and your hotel.
6. Travel You Can’t Deduct. Some types of travel do not qualify for a tax deduction. For example, you can’t deduct your costs if a significant part of the trip involves recreation or vacation.
Don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions about travel expenses related to charitable work.

Employers: Terms to Know about Health Coverage
Under the Affordable Care Act, certain employers–known as applicable large employers–are subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions. You might be thinking about these topics as you make plans about 2017 health coverage for your employees.
If you are an employer that is subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions, you may choose either to offer affordable minimum essential coverage that provides minimum value to your full-time employees and their dependents or to potentially owe an employer shared responsibility payment to the IRS.
Here are definitions of key terms related to health coverage you might offer to employees:
Affordable coverage: If the lowest cost self-only only health plan is 9.5 percent or less of your full-time employee’s household income, then the coverage is considered affordable. Because you likely will not know your employee’s household income, for purposes of the employer shared responsibility provisions, you can determine whether you offered affordable coverage under various safe harbors based on information available to you as the employer.
Minimum essential coverage: For purposes of reporting by applicable large employers, minimum essential coverage means coverage under an employer-sponsored plan. It does not include fixed indemnity coverage, life insurance or dental or vision coverage.
Minimum value coverage: An employer-sponsored plan provides minimum value if it covers at least 60 percent of the total allowed cost of benefits that are expected to be incurred under the plan.
Help is Just a Phone Call Away
Please call if you have any questions or need more information about the employer shared responsibility provisions.

Tax Relief for Drought-Stricken Farmers
Farmers and ranchers who previously were forced to sell livestock due to drought, like the drought currently affecting much of the nation, have an extended period of time in which to replace the livestock and defer tax on any gains from the forced sales. The relief applies to all or part of 37 states and Puerto Rico.
The one-year extension of the replacement period generally applies to capital gains realized by eligible farmers and ranchers on sales of livestock held for draft, dairy or breeding purposes due to drought. Sales of other livestock, such as those raised for slaughter or held for sporting purposes, and poultry are not eligible.
Farmers and ranchers in these areas whose drought sale replacement period was scheduled to expire at the end of this tax year, Dec. 31, 2016, in most cases, will now have until the end of their next tax year. Because the normal drought sale replacement period is four years, this extension immediately impacts drought sales that occurred during 2012. But because of previous drought-related extensions affecting some of these localities, the replacement periods for some drought sales before 2012 are also affected. Additional extensions will be granted if severe drought conditions persist.
The IRS is providing this relief to any farm located in a county, parish, city, borough, census area or district, listed as suffering exceptional, extreme or severe drought conditions by the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), during any weekly period between Sept. 1, 2015, and Aug. 31, 2016. Any county that borders a county listed by the NDMC also qualifies for this relief.
A taxpayer may determine whether exceptional, extreme, or severe drought is reported for any location in the applicable region by reference to U.S. Drought Monitor maps that are produced on a weekly basis by the National Drought Mitigation Center.
In addition, in September of each year, the IRS publishes a list of counties, districts, cities, boroughs, census areas or parishes (hereinafter “counties”) for which exceptional, extreme, or severe drought was reported during the preceding 12 months. Taxpayers may use this list instead of U.S. Drought Monitor maps to determine whether exceptional, extreme, or severe drought has been reported for any location in the applicable region.
To summarize:
If the drought caused you to sell more livestock than usual, you may be able to defer tax on the extra gains from those sales.You generally must replace the livestock within a four-year period; however, the IRS has the authority to extend the period if the drought continues. For this reason, the IRS has added an additional year to the replacement year.The one-year extension of time authorized by the IRS generally applies to certain sales due to drought.If you are eligible, your gains on sales of livestock that you held for draft, dairy or breeding purposes apply.Sales of other livestock, such as those you raised for slaughter or held for sporting purposes and poultry, are not eligible.The IRS relief applies to farms in areas suffering exceptional, extreme or severe drought conditions. The National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) has listed all or parts of 37 states that qualify for relief (see above). Any county that is contiguous to a county that is on the NDMC’s list also qualifies.This extension immediately impacts drought sales that occurred during 2012. However, the IRS has granted previous extensions that affect some of these localities. This means that some drought sales before 2012 are also affected. Further, the IRS will grant additional extensions if severe drought conditions persist.
If you have any questions about whether you’re eligible for this particular tax relief, don’t hesitate to call.

Tax Tips for Separated or Divorced Individuals
If you are recently separated or divorced, taxes may be the last thing on your mind; however, these events can have a big impact on your wallet at tax time. Alimony, or a name or address change, are just a few items you may need to consider. Here are a few key tax tips to keep in mind:
1. Child Support. Child support payments are not deductible and if you received child support, it is not taxable.
2. Alimony Paid. You can deduct alimony paid to or for a spouse or former spouse under a divorce or separation decree, regardless of whether you itemize deductions. Voluntary payments made outside a divorce or separation decree are not deductible. You must enter your spouse’s Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number on your Form 1040 when you file.
3. Alimony Received. If you get alimony from your spouse or former spouse, it is taxable in the year you get it. Alimony is not subject to tax withholding so you may need to increase the tax you pay during the year to avoid a penalty. To do this, you can make estimated tax payments or increase the amount of tax withheld from your wages.
4. Spousal IRA. If you get a final decree of divorce or separate maintenance by the end of your tax year, you can’t deduct contributions you make to your former spouse’s traditional IRA. You may be able to deduct contributions you make to your own traditional IRA.
5. Name Changes. If you change your name after your divorce, be sure to notify the Social Security Administration. File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. You can get the form on the Social Security Administration’s website (SSA.gov) or call 800-772-1213 to order it. The name on your tax return must match SSA records. A name mismatch can cause problems in the processing of your return and may delay your refund.
6. Health Care Law Considerations
Special Marketplace Enrollment Period. If you lose health insurance coverage due to divorce, you are still required to have coverage for every month of the year for yourself and the dependents you can claim on your tax return. You may enroll in health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace during a Special Enrollment Period if you lose coverage due to a divorce.
The Special Enrollment Period (SEP) is defined as a specific length of time outside the yearly Open Enrollment Period when you can sign up for health insurance. You qualify for a Special Enrollment Period if you’ve had certain life events, including losing health coverage, moving, getting married, having a baby, or adopting a child.
If you qualify for the SEP, you generally have up to 60 days following the event to enroll in a plan. If you miss that window, you have to wait until the next Open Enrollment Period to apply.
Changes in Circumstances. If you purchase health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you may get advance payments of the premium tax credit. If you do, you should report changes in circumstances to your Marketplace throughout the year. These changes include a change in marital status, a name change, a change of address, and a change in your income or family size. Reporting these changes will help make sure that you get the proper type and amount of financial assistance. This will also help you avoid getting too much or too little credit in advance.
Shared Policy Allocation. If you divorced or are legally separated during the tax year and are enrolled in the same qualified health plan, you and your former spouse must allocate policy amounts on your separate tax returns to figure your premium tax credit and reconcile any advance payments made on your behalf. Please call the office if you have any questions about the Shared Policy Allocation.
If you need more information about tax rules related to divorce or separation, please call the office.

Energy Tax Credits Expire at the end of 2016
Certain energy-efficient home improvements can cut your energy bills and save you money at tax time; however, these energy-related tax credits expire at the end of 2016. Here are some key facts that you should know about home energy tax credits:
Nonbusiness Energy Property CreditPart of this credit is worth 10 percent of the cost of certain qualified energy-saving items you added to your main home last year. This may include items such as insulation, windows, doors, and roofs.The other part of the credit is not a percentage of the cost. This part of the credit is for the actual cost of certain property. This may include items such as water heaters and heating and air conditioning systems. The credit amount for each type of property has a different dollar limit.This credit has a maximum lifetime limit of $500. You may only use $200 of this limit for windows.Your main home must be located in the U.S. to qualify for the credit.Be sure you have the 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. You can rely on it to claim the credit, but do not attach it to your return. Keep it with your tax records.You must place qualifying improvements in service in your principal residence by Dec. 31, 2016.Residential Energy Efficient Property CreditThis tax credit is 30 percent of the cost of alternative energy equipment installed on or in your home.Qualified equipment includes solar hot water heaters, solar electric equipment, wind turbines and fuel cell property.Qualified wind turbine and fuel cell property must be placed into service by Dec. 31, 2016. Hot water heaters and solar electric equipment must be placed into service by Dec. 31, 2021.The tax credit for qualified fuel cell property is limited to $500 for each one-half kilowatt of capacity. The amount for other qualified expenditures does not have a limit. If your credit is more than the tax you owe, you can carry forward the unused portion of this credit to next year’s tax return.The home must be in the U.S. It does not have to be your main home unless the alternative energy equipment is qualified fuel cell property.Use Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits, to claim these credits.
For more information about this topic please call.

Tax Due Dates for November 2016
Anytime
Employers – Income Tax Withholding. Ask employees whose withholding allowances will be different in 2017 to fill out a new Form W-4. The 2017 revision of Form W-4 will be available on the IRS website by mid-December.
November 10
Employees who work for tips – If you received $20 or more in tips during October, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.
Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. File Form 941 for the third quarter of 2016. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time.
November 15
Employers – Nonpayroll withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in October.
Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in October.

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You can contact Rex Crandell’s offices in Walnut Creek and San Francisco, California
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Rex L. Crandell. CPA, Esq.
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Tax Due Dates

Any accounting, business or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.

Seven Common Small Business Tax Misperceptions

One of the biggest hurdles you’ll face in running your own business is staying on top of your numerous obligations to federal, state, and local tax agencies. Tax codes seem to be in a constant state of flux and increasingly complicated.

The old legal saying that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” is perhaps most often applied in tax settings and it is safe to assume that a tax auditor presenting an assessment of additional taxes, penalties, and interest will not look kindly on an “I didn’t know I was required to do that” claim.

On the flip side, it is surprising how many small businesses actually overpay their taxes, neglecting to take deductions they’re legally entitled to that can help them lower their tax bill.

Preparing your taxes and strategizing as to how to keep more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket becomes increasingly difficult with each passing year. Your best course of action to save time, frustration, money, and an auditor knocking on your door, is to have a professional accountant handle your taxes.

Tax professionals have years of experience with tax preparation, regularly attend tax seminars, read scores of journals, magazines, and monthly tax tips, among other things, to correctly interpret the changing tax code.

When it comes to tax planning for small businesses, the complexity of tax law generates a lot of folklore and misinformation that also leads to costly mistakes. With that in mind, here is a look at some of the more common small business tax misperceptions.

1. All Start-Up Costs are Immediately Deductible

Business start-up costs refer to expenses incurred before you actually begin operating your business. Business start-up costs include both start-up and organizational costs and vary depending on the type of business. Examples of these types of costs include advertising, travel, surveys, and training. These start-up and organizational costs are generally called capital expenditures.

Costs for a particular asset (such as machinery or office equipment) are recovered through depreciation or Section 179 expensing. When you start a business, you can elect to deduct or amortize certain business start-up costs.

You can also elect to deduct up to $5,000 of business start-up and $5,000 of organizational costs paid or incurred. Business start-up and organizational costs are generally capital expenditures. However, you can elect to deduct up to $5,000 of business start-up and $5,000 of organizational costs paid or incurred. The $5,000 deduction is reduced by the amount your total start-up or organizational costs exceed $50,000. Any remaining costs must be amortized.

2. Overpaying the IRS Makes you “Audit Proof.”

The IRS doesn’t care if you pay the right amount of taxes or overpay your taxes. They do care if you pay less than you owe and you can’t substantiate your deductions. Even if you overpay in one area, the IRS will still hit you with interest and penalties if you underpay in another. It is never a good idea to knowingly or unknowingly overpay the IRS. The best way to “Audit Proof” yourself is to properly document your expenses and make sure you are getting good advice from a tax professional.

3. Being Incorporated Enables you to take more Deductions.

Self-employed individuals (sole proprietors and S Corps) qualify for many of the same deductions that incorporated businesses do, and for many small businesses, being incorporated is an unnecessary expense and burden. Start-ups can spend thousands of dollars in legal and accounting fees to set up a corporation, only to discover soon thereafter that they need to change their name or move the company in a different direction. In addition, plenty of small business owners who incorporate don’t make money for the first few years and find themselves saddled with minimum corporate tax payments and no income.

4. The Home Office Deduction is a Red Flag for an Audit.

While it used to be a red flag, this is no longer true–as long as you keep excellent records that satisfy IRS requirements. Because of the proliferation of home offices, tax officials cannot possibly audit all tax returns containing the home office deduction. In other words, there is no need to fear an audit just because you take the home office deduction. A high deduction-to-income ratio, however, may raise a red flag and lead to an audit.

5. If you don’t take the Home Office Deduction, Business Expenses are not Deductible.

You are still eligible to take deductions for business supplies, business-related phone bills, travel expenses, printing, wages paid to employees or contract workers, depreciation of equipment used for your business, and other expenses related to running a home-based business, whether or not you take the home office deduction.

6. Requesting an Extension on your Taxes is an Extension to Pay Taxes.

Wrong. Extensions enable you to extend your filing date only. Penalties and interest begin accruing from the date your taxes are due.

7. Part-time Business Owners Cannot Set Up Self-employed Pensions.

If you start up a company while you have a salaried position complete with a 401K plan, you can still set up a SEP-IRA for your business and take the deduction.

A tax headache is only one mistake away.

Whether it’s a missed estimated tax payment or filing deadline, an improperly claimed deduction, or incomplete records, understanding how the tax system works is beneficial to any business owner. And, even if you delegate the tax preparation to someone else, you are still liable for the accuracy of your tax returns. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call the office for assistance.

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Five Ways to Improve Your Financial Situation

If you are having trouble paying your debts, it is important to take action sooner rather than later. Doing nothing leads to much larger problems in the future, whether it’s a bad credit record or bankruptcy resulting in the loss of assets and even your home. If you’re in financial trouble, then here are some steps to take to avoid financial ruin in the future.

If you’ve accumulated a large amount of debt and are having difficulty paying your bills each month, now is the time to take action–before the bill collectors start calling.

1. Review each debt. Make sure that the debt creditors claim you owe is really what you owe and that the amount is correct. If you dispute a debt, first contact the creditor directly to resolve your questions. If you still have questions about the debt, contact your state or local consumer protection office or, in cases of serious creditor abuse, your state Attorney General.

2. Contact your creditors. Let your creditors know you are having difficulty making your payments. Tell them why you are having trouble–perhaps it is because you recently lost your job or have unexpected medical bills. Try to work out an acceptable payment schedule with your creditors. Most are willing to work with you and will appreciate your honesty and forthrightness.

Tip: Most automobile financing agreements permit your creditor to repossess your car any time you are in default, with no advance notice. If your car is repossessed you may have to pay the full balance due on the loan, as well as towing and storage costs, to get it back. Do not wait until you are in default. Try to solve the problem with your creditor when you realize you will not be able to meet your payments. It may be better to sell the car yourself and pay off your debt than to incur the added costs of repossession.

3. Budget your expenses. Create a spending plan that allows you to reduce your debts and itemize necessary expenses (such as housing and healthcare) and optional expenses (such as entertainment and vacation travel). Stick to the plan.

4. Try to reduce your expenses. Cut out any unnecessary spending such as eating out and purchasing expensive entertainment. Consider taking public transportation or using a car sharing service rather than owning a car. Clip coupons, purchase generic products at the supermarket and avoid impulse purchases. Above all, stop incurring new debt. Leave your credit cards at home. Pay for all purchases in cash or use a debit card instead of a credit card.

5. Pay down and consolidate your debts. Withdrawing savings from low-interest accounts to settle high-rate loans or credit card debt usually makes sense. In addition, there are a number of ways to pay off high-interest loans, such as credit cards, by getting a refinancing or consolidation loan, such as a second mortgage.

Tip: Selling off a second car not only provides cash but also reduces insurance and other maintenance expenses.

Caution: Be wary of any loan consolidations or other refinancing that actually increaseinterest owed, or require payments of points or large fees.

Caution: Second mortgages greatly increase the risk that you may lose your home.

You can regain financial health if you act responsibly. But don’t wait until bankruptcy court is your only option. If you’re having financial troubles, don’t hesitate to call.

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The Home-Based Business: Basics to Consider

More than 52 percent of businesses today are home-based. Every day, people are striking out and achieving economic and creative independence by turning their skills into dollars. Garages, basements, and attics are being transformed into the corporate headquarters of the newest entrepreneurs–home-based businesspeople.

And, with technological advances in smartphones, tablets, and iPads as well as rising demand for “service-oriented” businesses, the opportunities seem to be endless.

Is a Home-Based Business Right for You?

Choosing a home business is like choosing a spouse or partner: Think carefully before starting the business. Instead of plunging right in, take the time to learn as much about the market for any product or service as you can. Before you invest any time, effort, or money take a few moments to answer the following questions:

  • Can you describe in detail the business you plan on establishing?
  • What will be your product or service?
  • Is there a demand for your product or service?
  • Can you identify the target market for your product or service?
  • Do you have the talent and expertise needed to compete successfully?

Before you dive head first into a home-based business, it’s essential that you know why you are doing it and how you will do it. To succeed, your business must be based on something greater than a desire to be your own boss, and involves an honest assessment of your own personality, an understanding of what’s involved, and a lot of hard work. You have to be willing to plan ahead and make improvements and adjustments along the way.

While there are no “best” or “right” reasons for starting a home-based business, it is vital to have a very clear idea of what you are getting into and why. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you a self-starter?
  • Can you stick to business if you’re working at home?
  • Do you have the necessary self-discipline to maintain schedules?
  • Can you deal with the isolation of working from home?

Working under the same roof that your family lives under may not prove to be as easy as it seems. It is important that you work in a professional environment. If at all possible, you should set up a separate office in your home. You must consider whether your home has space for a business and whether you can successfully run the business from your home. If so, you may qualify for a tax break called the home office deduction. For more information see the article, Do You Qualify for the Home Office Deduction? below.

Compliance with Laws and Regulations

A home-based business is subject to many of the same laws and regulations affecting other businesses, and you will be responsible for complying with them. There are some general areas to watch out for, but be sure to consult an attorney and your state department of labor to find out which laws and regulations will affect your business.

Zoning

Be aware of your city’s zoning regulations. If your business operates in violation of them, you could be fined or closed down.

Restrictions on Certain Goods

Certain products may not be produced in the home. Most states outlaw home production of fireworks, drugs, poisons, sanitary or medical products, and toys. Some states also prohibit home-based businesses from making food, drink, or clothing.

Registration and Accounting Requirements

You may need the following:

  • Work certificate or a license from the state (your business’s name may also need to be registered with the state)
  • Sales tax number
  • Separate business telephone
  • Separate business bank account

If your business has employees, you are responsible for withholding income, social security, and Medicare taxes, as well as complying with minimum wage and employee health and safety laws.

Planning Techniques

Money fuels all businesses. With a little planning, you’ll find that you can avoid most financial difficulties. When drawing up a financial plan, don’t worry about using estimates. The process of thinking through these questions helps develop your business skills and leads to solid financial planning.

Estimating Start-Up Costs

To estimate your start-up costs include all initial expenses such as fees, licenses, permits, telephone deposit, tools, office equipment and promotional expenses.

In addition, business experts say you should not expect a profit for the first eight to ten months, so be sure to give yourself enough of a cushion if you need it.

Projecting Operating Expenses

Include salaries, utilities, office supplies, loan payments, taxes, legal services and insurance premiums, and don’t forget to include your normal living expenses. Your business must not only meet its own needs but make sure it meets yours as well.

Projecting Income

It is essential that you know how to estimate your sales on a daily and monthly basis. From the sales estimates, you can develop projected income statements, break-even points, and cash-flow statements. Use your marketing research to estimate initial sales volume.

Determining Cash Flow

Working capital–not profits–pays your bills. Even though your assets may look great on the balance sheet, if your cash is tied up in receivables or equipment, your business is technically insolvent. In other words, you’re broke.

Make a list of all anticipated expenses and projected income for each week and month. If you see a cash-flow crisis developing, cut back on everything but the necessities.

If a home-based business is in your future, then a tax professional can help. Don’t hesitate to call if you need assistance setting up your business or making sure you have the proper documentation in place to satisfy the IRS.

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Tax-Free Savings for College

According to a recent study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, researchers found that over a lifetime, the average U.S. college graduate will earn at least $800,000 more than the average high school graduate–even after taking into consideration the cost of college tuition and the four years of lost wages it entails. Despite this, most people still feel that a college education is worth the investment.

That said, however, the need to set money aside for their child’s education often weighs heavily on parents. Fortunately, there are two savings plans available to help parents save money as well as provide certain tax benefits. Let’s take a closer look.

The two most popular college savings programs are the Qualified Tuition Programs (QTPs) or Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). Whichever one you choose, try to start when your child is young. The sooner you begin saving, the less money you will have to put away each year.

Example: Suppose you have one child, age six months, and you estimate that you’ll need $120,000 to finance his college education 18 years from now. If you start putting away money immediately, you’ll need to save $3,500 per year for 18 years (assuming an after-tax return of 7 percent). On the other hand, if you put off saving until your son is six years old, you’ll have to save almost double that amount every year for 12 years.

How Much Will College Cost?

College is expensive, and proper planning can lessen the financial squeeze considerably–especially if you start when your child is young. According to the College Board, average published tuition and fees for full-time in-state students at public four-year colleges and universities increased 2.9 percent before adjusting for inflation, rising from $9,145 in 2014-15 to $9,410 in 2015-16.

Average published tuition and fees at private nonprofit four-year institutions increased 3.6 percent before adjusting for inflation, rising from $31,283 in 2014-15 to $32,405 in 2015-16. Undergraduates received an average of $14,210 in financial aid in 2014-15, including $8,170 in grants from all sources, $4,800 in federal loans, $1,170 in education tax credits and deductions, and $70 in Federal Work-Study.

Saving with Qualified Tuition Programs (QTPs)

Qualified Tuition Programs, also known as 529 plans, are often the best choice for many families. Every state now has a program allowing persons to prepay for future higher education, with tax relief. There are two basic plan types, with many variations among them:

  1. The prepaid education arrangement. With this type of plan, one is essentially buying future education at today’s costs, by buying education credits or certificates. This is the older type of program and tends to limit the student’s choice to schools within the state; however, private colleges and universities often offer this type of arrangement.
  2. Education Savings Account (ESA). With an ESA, contributions are made to an account to be used for future higher education.

Tip: When approaching state programs, one must distinguish between what the federal tax law allows and what an individual state’s program may impose.

You may open a 529 plan in any state, but when buying prepaid tuition credits (less popular than savings accounts), you will want to know what institutions the credits will be applied to.

Unlike certain other tax-favored higher education programs, such as the American Opportunity Credit (formerly the Hope Credit) and Lifetime Learning Credit, federal tax law doesn’t limit the benefit to tuition, but can also extend it to room, board, and books (individual state programs could be narrower).

The two key individual parties to the program are the Designated Beneficiary (the student-to-be) and the Account Owner, who is entitled to choose and change the beneficiary and who is normally the principal contributor to the program.

There are no income limits on who may be an account owner. There’s only one designated beneficiary per account. Thus, a parent with three college-bound children might set up three accounts. Some state programs don’t allow the same person to be both beneficiary and account owner.

Tax Rules Relating to Qualified Tuition Programs

Income Tax. Contributions made by an account owner or other contributor are not tax deductible for federal income tax purposes, but earnings on contributions do grow tax-free while in the program.

Distributions from the fund are tax-free to the extent used for qualified higher education expenses. Distributions used otherwise are taxable to the extent of the portion which represents earnings.

A distribution may be tax-free even though the student is claiming an American Opportunity Credit (formerly the Hope Credit) or Lifetime Learning Credit, or tax-free treatment for a Coverdell ESA distribution, provided the programs aren’t covering the same specific expenses.

Distribution for a purpose other than qualified education is taxable to the one getting the distribution. In addition, a 10 percent penalty must be imposed on the taxable portion of the distribution, which is comparable to the 10 percent penalty in Coverdell ESAs.

The account owner may change the beneficiary designation from one to another in the same family. Funds in the account roll over tax-free for the benefit of the new beneficiary.

Tip: In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) added expenses for computer technology/equipment or Internet access to the list of qualifying expenses. Software designed for sports, games, or hobbies does not qualify, unless it is predominantly educational in nature. In general, however, expenses for computer technology are not considered qualified expenses.

Gift Tax. For gift tax purposes, contributions are treated as completed gifts even though the account owner has the right to withdraw them. Thus they qualify for the up-to-$14,000 annual gift tax exclusion in 2016 (same as 2015). One contributing more than $14,000 may elect to treat the gift as made in equal installments over the year of the gift and the following four years so that up to $56,000 can be given tax-free in the first year.

However, a rollover from one beneficiary to another in a younger generation is treated as a gift from the first beneficiary, an odd result for an act the “giver” may have had nothing to do with.

Estate Tax. Funds in the account at the designated beneficiary’s death are included in the beneficiary’s estate, another odd result, since those funds may not be available to pay the tax.

Funds in the account at the account owner’s death are not included in the owner’s estate, except for a portion thereof where the gift tax exclusion installment election is made for gifts over $14,000. For example, if the account owner made the election for a gift of $56,000 in 2016, a part of that gift is included in the estate if he or she dies within five years.

Tip: A Qualified Tuition Program can be an especially attractive estate-planning move for grandparents. There are no income limits, and the account owner giving up to $56,000 avoids gift tax and estate tax by living five years after the gift, yet has the power to change the beneficiary.

State Tax. State tax rules are all over the map. Some reflect the federal rules; some reflect quite different rules. For specifics of each state’s program, see College Savings Plans Network (CSPN). If you need assistance with this, please contact us.

Saving with Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs)

You can contribute up to $2,000 in 2016 to a Coverdell Education Savings account (a Section 530 program formerly known as an Education IRA) for a child under 18. These contributions are not tax deductible but grow tax-free until withdrawn. Contributions for any year, for example, 2016 can be made through the (unextended) due date for the return for that year (April 17, 2017). There is no adjustment for inflation; therefore the $2,000 contribution limit is expected to remain at $2,000.

Only cash can be contributed to a Coverdell ESA, and you cannot contribute to the account after the child reaches his or her 18th birthday.

The beneficiary will not owe tax on the distributions if they are less than a beneficiary’s qualified education expenses at an eligible institution. This benefit applies to higher education expenses as well as to elementary and secondary education expenses.

Anyone can establish and contribute to a Coverdell ESA, including the child. An account may be established for as many children as you wish; however, the amount contributed during the year to each account cannot exceed $2,000. The child need not be a dependent, and in fact, does not even need to be related to you. The maximum contribution amount in 2016 for each child is subject to a phase-out limitation with a modified AGI between $190,000 and $220,000 for joint filers and $95,000 and $110,000 for single filers.

A 6 percent excise tax (to be paid by the beneficiary) applies to excess contributions. These are amounts in excess of the applicable contribution limit ($2,000 or phase out amount) and contributions for a year that amounts are contributed to a Qualified Tuition Program for the same child. The 6 percent tax continues for each year the excess contribution stays in the Coverdell ESA.

Exceptions. The excise tax does not apply if excess contributions made during 2016 (and any earnings on them) are distributed before the first day of the sixth month of the following tax year (June 1, 2017, for a calendar year taxpayer). However, you must include the distributed earnings in gross income for the year in which the excess contribution was made. The excise tax does not apply to any rollover contribution.

The child must be named (designated as beneficiary) in the Coverdell document, but the beneficiary can be changed to another family member–to a sibling for example when the first beneficiary gets a scholarship or drops out. Funds can also be rolled over tax-free from one child’s account to another child’s account. Funds must be distributed not later than 30 days after the beneficiary’s 30th birthday (or 20 days after the beneficiary’s death if earlier). For “special needs” beneficiaries the age limits (no contributions after age 18, distribution by age 30) don’t apply.

Withdrawals are taxable to the person who gets the money, with these major exceptions: Only the earnings portion is taxable (the contributions come back tax-free). Also, even that part isn’t taxable income, as long as the amount withdrawn does not exceed a child’s “qualified higher education expenses” for that year.

The definition of “qualified higher education expenses” includes room and board and books, as well as tuition. In figuring whether withdrawals exceed qualified expenses, expenses are reduced by certain scholarships and by amounts for which tax credits are allowed. If the amount withdrawn for the year exceeds the education expenses for the year, the excess is partly taxable under a complex formula. A different formula is used if the sum of withdrawals from a Coverdell ESA and from the Qualified Tuition Program exceeds education expenses.

As the person who sets up the Coverdell ESA, you may change the beneficiary (the child who will get the funds) or roll the funds over to the account of a new beneficiary, tax-free, if the new beneficiary is a member of your family. But funds you take back (for example, withdrawal in a year when there are no qualified higher education expenses, because the child is not enrolled in higher education) are taxable to you, to the extent of earnings on your contributions, and you will generally have to pay an additional 10 percent tax on the taxable amount. However, you won’t owe tax on earnings on amounts contributed that are returned to you by June 1 of the year following contribution.

Professional Guidance

Considering the wide differences among state plans, federal and state tax issues, and the dollar amounts at stake, please call the office before getting started with any type of college savings plan.

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Charitable Contributions of Property

If you contribute property to a qualified organization, the amount of your charitable contribution is generally thefair market value of the property at the time of the contribution. However, if the property fits into one of the categories discussed here, the amount of your deduction must be decreased. As with many aspects of tax law, the rules are quite complex. If you’re considering a charitable contribution of property, here’s what you need to know:

After discussing how to determine the fair market value of something you donate, we’ll discuss the following categories of charitable gifts of property:

  • Contributions subject to special rules
  • Property that has decreased in value;
  • Property that has increased in value;
  • Food Inventory.
  • Bargain Sales.

Determining Fair Market Value

Fair market value is the price at which property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither having to buy or sell, and both having reasonable knowledge of all of the relevant facts.

Used Clothing and Household Items.

The fair market value of used clothing and used household goods, such as furniture and furnishings, electronics, appliances, linens, and other similar items is typically the price that buyers of used items actually pay clothing stores, such as consignment or thrift shops. Be prepared to support your valuation of other household items, which must be in good used condition unless valued at more than $500 by a qualified appraisal, with photographs, canceled checks, receipts from your purchase of the items, or other evidence.

Cars, Boats, and Aircraft

The FMV of a donated car, boat, or airplane is generally the amount listed in a used vehicle pricing guide for a private party sale, not the dealer retail value, of a similar vehicle. The FMV may be less than that, however, if the vehicle has engine trouble, body damage, high mileage, or any type of excessive wear.

Except for inexpensive small boats, the valuation of boats should be based on an appraisal by a marine surveyor because the physical condition is so critical to the value.

If you donate a qualified vehicle to a qualified organization, and you claim a deduction of more than $500, you can deduct the smaller of the gross proceeds from the sale of the vehicle by the organization or the vehicle’s fair market value on the date of the contribution. If the vehicle’s fair market value was more than your cost or other basis, you may have to reduce the fair market value to figure the deductible amount.

Paintings, Antiques, and Other Objects of Art.

Deductions for contributions of paintings, antiques, and other objects of art should be supported by a written appraisal from a qualified and reputable source unless the deduction is $5,000 or less.

  1. Art valued at $20,000 or more. If you claim a deduction of $20,000 or more for donations of art, you must attach a complete copy of the signed appraisal to your return. For individual objects valued at $20,000 or more, a photograph of a size and quality fully showing the object, preferably an 8 x 10-inch color photograph or a color transparency no smaller than 4 x 5 inches, must be provided upon request.
  2. Art valued at $50,000 or more. If you donate an item of art that has been appraised at $50,000 or more, you can request a Statement of Value for that item from the IRS. You must request the statement before filing the tax return that reports the donation.

Contributions Subject to Special Rules

Special rules apply if you contribute:

  • Clothing or household items,
  • A car, boat, or airplane,
  • Taxidermy property,
  • Property subject to a debt,
  • A partial interest in property,
  • A fractional interest in tangible personal property,
  • A qualified conservation contribution,
  • A future interest in tangible personal property,
  • Inventory from your business, or
  • A patent or other intellectual property.

Donating Property That Has Decreased in Value

If you contribute property with a fair market value that is less than your basis in it (generally, less than what you paid for it), your deduction is limited to its fair market value. You cannot claim a deduction for the difference between the property’s basis and its fair market value. Common examples of property that decreases in value include clothing, furniture, appliances, and cars.

Donating Property That Has Increased in Value

If you contribute property with a fair market value that is more than your basis in it, you may have to reduce the fair market value by the amount of appreciation (increase in value) when you figure your deduction. Again, your basis in the property is generally what you paid for it. Different rules apply to figuring your deduction, depending on whether the property is Ordinary income property, Capital gain property, or Ordinary Income Property.

Ordinary Income Property

Property is ordinary income property if its sale at fair market value on the date it was contributed would have resulted in ordinary income or in short-term capital gain. Examples of ordinary income property are inventory, works of art created by the donor, manuscripts prepared by the donor, and capital assets held 1 year or less.

Equipment or other property used in a trade or business is considered ordinary income property to the extent of any gain that would have been treated as ordinary income under the tax law, had the property been sold at its fair market value at the time of contribution.

Capital Gain Property

Property is capital gain property if its sale at fair market value on the date of the contribution would have resulted in a long-term capital gain. Capital gain property includes capital assets held more than 1 year.

Capital assets. Capital assets include most items of property that you own and use for personal purposes or investment. Examples of capital assets are stocks, bonds, jewelry, coin or stamp collections, and cars or furniture used for personal purposes. For purposes of figuring your charitable contribution, capital assets also include certain real property and depreciable property used in your trade or business and, generally, held more than 1 year.

Real property. Real property is land and generally, anything that is built on, growing on, or attached to land.

Depreciable property. Depreciable property is property used in business or held for the production of income and for which a depreciation deduction is allowed.

Ordinary or capital gain income included in gross income. You do not reduce your charitable contribution if you include the ordinary or capital gain income in your gross income in the same year as the contribution. This may happen when you transfer installment or discount obligations or when you assign income to a charitable organization.

Food Inventory

Special rules apply to certain donations of food inventory to a qualified organization. Please call if you would like information about donations of food inventory.

Bargain Sales

A bargain sale of property to a qualified organization (a sale or exchange for less than the property’s fair market value) is partly a charitable contribution and partly a sale or exchange. The part of the bargain sale that is a sale or exchange may result in a taxable gain.

Seek advice from a tax professional.

Stiff penalties may be assessed by the IRS if you overstate the value or adjusted basis of donated property. If you’re considering a charitable contribution of property, don’t hesitate to call the office to speak with a qualified tax professional.

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Deducting Moving Expenses

If you’ve moved–or are planning to move–this year to start a new job you may be able to deduct certain moving-related expenses on your tax return. You may also be able to deduct these expenses even if you kept the same job but moved to a different location.

1. Expenses must be close to the time you start work. Generally, you can consider moving expenses that you incurred within one year of the date you first report to work at a new job location.

2. Distance Test. Your move meets the distance test if your new main job location is at least 50 miles farther from your former home than your previous main job location was from your former home. For example, if your old main job location was three miles from your former home, your new main job location must be at least 53 miles from that former home.

3. Time Test. Upon arriving in the general area of your new job location, you must work full-time for at least 39 weeks during the first year at your new job location. Self-employed individuals must meet this test, and they must also work full time for a total of at least 78 weeks during the first 24 months upon arriving in the general area of their new job location. If your income tax return is due before you have satisfied this requirement, you can still deduct your allowable moving expenses if you expect to meet the time test. There are some special rules and exceptions to these general rules. Please call if you’d like more information.

4. Travel. You can deduct lodging expenses (but not meals) for yourself and household members while moving from your former home to your new home. You can also deduct transportation expenses, including airfare, vehicle mileage, parking fees and tolls you pay, but you can only deduct one trip per person.

5. Household goods. You can deduct the cost of packing, crating and transporting your household goods and personal property, including the cost of shipping household pets. You may be able to include the cost of storing and insuring these items while in transit.

6. Utilities. You can deduct the costs of connecting or disconnecting utilities.

7. Nondeductible expenses. You cannot deduct the following moving-related expenses: any part of the purchase price of your new home, car tags, a driver’s license renewal, costs of buying or selling a home, expenses of entering into or breaking a lease, or security deposits and storage charges, except those incurred in transit and for foreign moves.

8. Form. You can deduct only those expenses that are reasonable for the circumstances of your move.

9. Reimbursed expenses. If your employer reimburses you for the costs of a move for which you took a deduction, the reimbursement may have to be included as income on your tax return.

10. Update your address. When you move, be sure to update your address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service to ensure you receive mail from the IRS. Use Form 8822, Change of Address, to notify the IRS.

Don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions about deducting moving expenses or need help figuring out the amount of your deduction for moving expenses.

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Do You Qualify for the Home Office Deduction?

If you use part of your home for business, you may be able to deduct expenses for the business use of your home, provided you meet certain IRS requirements.

1. Generally, in order to claim a business deduction for your home, you must use part of your home exclusively and regularly:

  • as your principal place of business, or
  • as a place to meet or deal with patients, clients or customers in the normal course of your business, or
  • in any connection with your trade or business where the business portion of your home is a separate structure not attached to your home.

2. For certain storage use, rental use or daycare-facility use, you are required to use the property regularly but not exclusively.

3. Generally, the amount you can deduct depends on the percentage of your home used for business. Your deduction for certain expenses will be limited if your gross income from your business is less than your total business expenses.

4. There are special rules for qualified daycare providers and for persons storing business inventory or product samples.

5. If you are an employee, additional rules apply for claiming the home office deduction. For example, the regular and exclusive business use must be for the convenience of your employer.

If you’re not sure whether you qualify for the home office deduction, please contact the office. Help is only a phone call away.

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Tax Tips for Individuals Selling Their Home

If you sell your home and make a profit, do you know that the gain may not be taxable? That’s just one key tax rule that you should know. Here are ten facts to keep in mind if you sell your home this year.

1. If you have a capital gain on the sale of your home, you may be able to exclude your gain from tax. This rule may apply if you owned and used it as your main home for at least two out of the five years before the date of sale.

2. 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. For additional details, please call.

3. The maximum amount of gain you can exclude is $250,000. This limit is $500,000 for joint returns. In addition, the Net Investment Income Tax will not apply to the excluded gain.

4. If the gain is not taxable, you may not need to report the sale to the IRS on your tax return.

5. You must report the sale on your tax return if you can’t exclude all or part of the gain. And you must report the sale if you choose not to claim the exclusion. That’s also true if you get Form 1099-S, Proceeds From Real Estate Transactions. Keep in mind that if you report the sale you may be subject to the NIIT.

6. Generally, you can exclude the gain from the sale of your main home only once every two years.

7. If you own more than one home, you may only exclude the gain on the sale of your main home. Your main home usually is the home that you live in most of the time.

8. If you claimed the first-time homebuyer credit when you bought the home, special rules apply to the sale.

9. If you sell your main home at a loss, you can’t deduct it.

10. After you sell your home and move, be sure to give your new address to the IRS. You can send the IRS a completed Form 8822, Change of Address, to do this.

Important note about the Premium Tax Credit. If you receive advance payment of the Premium Tax Credit in 2016, it is important that you report changes in circumstances, such as changes in your income or family size, to your Health Insurance Marketplace. You should also notify the Marketplace when you move out of the area covered by your current Marketplace plan.

Questions?

If you have any questions, please call.

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It’s Time for a Premium Tax Credit Checkup

If you or anyone in your family receive advance payments of the premium tax credit, now is a good time to check on whether you need to adjust your premium assistance.

Because advance payments are paid directly to your insurance company (thereby lowering out-of-pocket cost for your health insurance premiums), changes to your income or family size may affect your credit. Therefore, you should report changes that have occurred since the time that you signed up for your health insurance plan.

Changes in circumstances include any of the following and should be reported to your Marketplace when they happen:

  • Increases or decreases in your household income including, lump sum payments; for example, lump sum payment of Social Security benefits
  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Other changes affecting the composition of your tax family
  • Gaining or losing eligibility for government sponsored or employer-sponsored health care coverage
  • Moving to a different address

Reporting the changes when they happen helps you to avoid getting too much or too little advance payment of the premium tax credit. Getting too much may mean that you owe additional money or receive a smaller refund when you file your taxes. Getting too little could mean missing out on premium assistance that reduces your out-of-pocket monthly premiums.

Changes in circumstances also may qualify you for a special enrollment period to change or get insurance through the Marketplace. In most cases, if you qualify for the special enrollment period, you generally have 60 days to enroll following the change in circumstances. Information about special enrollment can be found by visiting HealthCare.gov.

You can use the Premium Tax Credit Change Estimator to help you estimate how your premium tax credit will change if your income or family size changes during the year; however, this estimator tool does not report changes in circumstances to your Marketplace. To report changes and to adjust the amount of your advance payments of the premium tax credit you must contact your Health Insurance Marketplace.

Need more information?

Don’t hesitate to contact the office if you have any questions about the Premium Tax Credit.

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Best Filing Status for Married Couples

Summer is wedding season. While tax returns and filing status are probably not high on your to-do list, you should be aware that with marriage, come tax changes–such as choosing the best filing status.

After you say, “I do” you’ll have two filing status options to choose from when filing your 2016 tax returns: married filing jointly, or married filing separately.

Married Filing Jointly

If you’re married as of Dec. 31, that’s your marital status for the whole year for tax purposes. You can choose married, filing jointly as your filing status if you are married and both you and your spouse agree to file a joint return. On a joint return, you report your combined income and deduct your combined allowable expenses. You can file a joint return even if one of you had no income or deductions.

If you and your spouse decide to file a joint return, your tax may be lower than your combined tax for the other filing statuses. Also, your standard deduction (if you do not itemize) may be higher, and you may qualify for tax benefits that do not apply to other filing statuses.

Joint Responsibility. Both of you may be held responsible, jointly and individually, for the tax and any interest or penalty due on your joint return. One spouse may be held responsible for all the tax due even if all the income was earned by the other spouse.

Married Filing Separately

If you are married, you can also choose married filing separately as your filing status. This filing status may benefit you if you want to be responsible only for your own tax or if it results in less tax than filing a joint return.

Call the office if you’re not sure which status to file under. If you and your spouse each have income, your tax will be figured both ways to determine which filing status gives you the lowest combined tax.

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Tax Due Dates for August 2016

August 1

Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. File Form 941 for the second quarter of 2016. Deposit any undeposited tax. (If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return.) If you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time, you have until August 10 to file the return.

Employers – Federal unemployment tax. Deposit the tax owed through June if more than $500.

Employers – If you maintain an employee benefit plan, such as a pension, profit-sharing, or stock bonus plan, file Form 5500 or 5500-EZ for calendar-year 2015. If you use a fiscal year as your plan year, file the form by the last day of the seventh month after the plan year ends.

Certain Small Employers – Deposit any undeposited tax if your tax liability is $2,500 or more for 2016 but less than $2,500 for the second quarter.

August 10

Employees Who Work for Tips – If you received $20 or more in tips during July, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. File Form 941 for the second quarter of 2016. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time.

August 15

Employers – Nonpayroll withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in July.

Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in July.
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February 2016

This months Tax Topics.

Are your Social Security Benefits Taxable?

Some people must pay taxes on part of their Social Security benefits while others find that their benefits aren’t taxable at all. If you receive Social Security, a tax professional can help you determine if some – or all – of your benefits are taxable.

Five Ways to Improve Your Financial Situation
If you are having trouble paying your debts, it is important to take action. Doing nothing leads to much larger problems in the future, whether it’s a bad credit record or bankruptcy resulting in the loss of assets and even your home. If you’re in financial trouble here are some steps to take to avoid financial ruin in the future.

Roth IRAs: The Basics
A Roth IRA is an individual retirement plan that with certain exceptions, is similar to a traditional IRA and subject to the rules that apply to a traditional IRA.

Three Most Common Budgeting Errors
Do you find it tricky to maintain a budget for your business? Here’s how to avoid three of the most common budgeting mistakes and take control of your company’s finances.

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Tax Tips for Fary
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1.  Missing You Form W-2?
Updated Withholdin Tables for 2016
2.  Reduce your Taxes
3.  Job Search Expenses May be Deductible

First we will look at tax due dates.

Tax Due Dates
February 1

Employers – Give your employees their copies of Form W-2 for 2015 byFebruary 1, 2016. If an employee agreed to receive Form W-2 electronically, post it on a website accessible to the employee and notify the employee by February 1, 2016.

Businesses – Give annual information statements to recipients of 1099 payments made during 2015.

Employers – Federal unemployment tax. File Form 940 for 2015. If your undeposited tax is $500 or less, you can either pay it with your return or deposit it. If it is more than $500, you must deposit it. However, if you already deposited the tax for the year in full and on time, you have until February 10 to file the return.

Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2015. Deposit any undeposited tax. If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time, you have until February 10 to file the return.

Employers – Nonpayroll taxes. File Form 945 to report income tax withheld for 2015 on all nonpayroll items, including backup withholding and withholding on pensions, annuities, IRAs, gambling winnings, and payments of Indian gaming profits to tribal members. Deposit any undeposited tax. (If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return.) If you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time, you have until February 10 to file the return.

Individuals – who must make estimated tax payments. If you did not pay your last installment of estimated tax by January 15, you may choose (but are not required) to file your income tax return (Form 1040) for 2015. Filing your return and paying any tax due by February 1, 2016 prevents any penalty for late payment of last installment.

Payers of Gambling Winnings – If you either paid reportable gambling winnings or withheld income tax from gambling winnings, give the winners their copies of Form W-2G.

Certain Small Employers – File Form 944 to report Social Security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2015. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is $2,500 or more from 2015 but less than $2,500 for the fourth quarter, deposit any undeposited tax or pay it in full with a timely filed return.

All businesses – Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments you made during 2015. You can use the appropriate version of Form 1099 or other information return.

February 10

Employees – who work for tips. If you received $20 or more in tips during January, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

 

Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2015. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time.

 

Farm Employers – File Form 943 to report Social Security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2015. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.

 

Certain Small Employers – File Form 944 to report Social Security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2015. This tax due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.

 

Employers – Nonpayroll taxes. File Form 945 to report income tax withheld for 2015 on all nonpayroll items. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.

 

Employers – Federal unemployment tax. File Form 940 for 2015. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.

February 16

Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in January.

Employers – Nonpayroll withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in January.

Individuals – If you claimed exemption from income tax withholding last year on the Form W-4 you gave your employer, you must file a new Form W-4 by this date to continue your exemption for another year.

All businesses. Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments you made during 2015. You can use the appropriate version of Form 1099 or other information return.

February 17

Employers – Begin withholding income tax from the pay of any employee who claimed exemption from withholding in 2015, but did not give you a new Form W-4 to continue the exemption this year.

February 29

Businesses – File information returns (Form 1099) for certain payments you made during 2015. These payments are described under February 1. There are different forms for different types of payments. Use a separate Form 1096 to summarize and transmit the forms for each type of payment. See the 2015 Instructions for Forms 1099, 1098, 5498, and W-2G for information on what payments are covered, how much the payment must be before a return is required, what form to use, and extensions of time to file.

If you file Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, or W-2G electronically (not by magnetic media), your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms is still February 1.

Farmers and Fishermen – Farmers and fishermen. File your 2015 income tax return (Form 1040) and pay any tax due. However, you have until April 18 to file if you paid your 2015 estimated tax by January 15, 2016.

Payers of Gambling Winnings – File Form 1096, Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns, along with Copy A of all the Forms W-2G you issued for 2015. If you file Forms W-2G electronically (not by magnetic tape), your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains February 1.

Employers – File Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, along with Copy A of all the Forms W-2 you issued for 2015.

If you file Forms W-2 electronically (not by magnetic media), your due date for filing them with the SSA will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms is still February 1.

Employers – with employees who work for tips. File Form 8027, Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips. Use Form 8027-T, Transmittal of Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips, to summarize and transmit Forms 8027 if you have more than one establishment. If you file Forms 8027 electronically (not by magnetic tape), your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March

Please call us at (925) 934-6320 if you have any questions.

Rex Crandell Firm 
3000 Citrus Circle, #207
Walnut Creek, CA 94598

http://www.rexcrandell.com http://www.TaxRexCrandell.com
(925) 934-6320

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Any accounting, business or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.

 

Income Tax Policy:
Ideas on how to Improve the Income Tax “Experience” for Taxpayers and government agencies.
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Watch “Smart Taxation – A winning strategy” on Tax-News-Online-Tube.
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Einkommensteuerrichtlinien. Ideen, wie man die Einkommensteuer “Experience” für die Steuerzahler und Behörden zu verbessern.
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Política de Impuesto sobre la Renta y Ingresos. Ideas sobre cómo mejorar el Impuesto sobre la Renta y Ingresos “experiencia” para los contribuyentes y agencias gubernamentales.
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USA ~ EAGLE & FLAG Mov Gif 04FEB14

A MESSAGE FROM REX CRANDELL’S TAX OFFICE:

Our firm provides income tax preparation and planning services for individuals, families, C Corporations, S Corporations, LLC Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, domestic partners, for income and deductions generated in California, the United States, and assist taxpayers internationally comply with the USA income tax reporting requirements. Rex Crandell, Esq. also provides services in the area of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Probate Procedures, Advance Healthcare Directives, Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Management, and Advance Health Care Directives.

You can contact Rex Crandell’s offices in Walnut Creek and San Francisco, California
by calling; 1 (800) 464-6595;
or (925) 934 6320, Walnut Creek, California;  or  (415) 982-1110, San Francisco, California

or by e-mail at:    rexcrandell@astound.net

http://www.rexcrandell.com/

http://www.taxrexcrandell.com/

We would be happy to hear from you.

…FROM REX CRANDELL’s OFFICE…

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

Very truly yours,
/s/ Rex L. Crandell
Rex L. Crandell. CPA, Esq.

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FROM:

Rex L. Crandell Firm

Walnut Creek Office (For UPS/FedEx/OR if Signature Req’d Documents)
3000 Citrus Circle
Suite 207 – West Wing [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]
(925) 934-6320
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San Francisco Office
425 Market Street
22nd Floor [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]
(800) 464-6595
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E-Mail: mailto:rexcrandell@astound.net
Internet: http://www.rexcrandell.com
Internet 2nd Web http://taxrexcrandell.com
Internet 3rd Web http://estateplanningreport.wordpress.com
Internet 4th Web https://taxnewsonlinereport.wordpress.com/ 
Skype Address rex.crandell
Fax: (925) 934-6325
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All U.S. Mail items [Except if Signature is required]:
P.O. Box 30305-Dept.  Tax News Blog Update
Walnut Creek, California 94598-9305 United States of America
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IT'S TAX TIME.  BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY EARLY. IT’S TAX TIME. BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY.
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This newsletter is intended to provide generalized information that is appropriate in certain situations. It is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The contents of this newsletter should not be acted upon without specific professional guidance. Please call us if you have questions.

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STATEMENT PURSUANT TO IRS CIRCULAR 230: The drafter of this document did not intend nor write this document for the purpose that this document would be used to avoid any penalty imposed by a taxing authority, for promoting, marketing or recommending this advice to another party. The recipient of this document may not use this document for that purpose. Rex Crandell Firm would be pleased to prepare or arrange to have prepared by legal counsel, as applicable, a document that would meet the specific requirements of IRS Circular 230 and could be used for those purposes. Please advise us if you desire such a document.

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DISCLAIMER: The sponsors and editors of this privately owned website are not goverment employees and do not represent nor speak for any governmental agency.
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Any accounting, business, legal or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.
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Kids say the darndest things.
Watch “When I Grow Up, I want to be a Tax Accountant – Before and After” on Rex AdventureTube.
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The IRS installed a new treadmill for the public to get in shape and see what it feels like to be an unsuspecting taxpayer trying to handle their own tax audit without professional representation. Guess this fellow got off to a bumpy start. But he did learn several things that he might not want to do again in the future. (Ya think?)
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USA ~ EAGLE & FLAG Mov Gif 04FEB14

A MESSAGE FROM REX CRANDELL’S TAX OFFICE:

Our firm provides income tax preparation and planning services for individuals, families, C Corporations, S Corporations, LLC Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, domestic partners, for income and deductions generated in California, the United States, and assist taxpayers internationally comply with the USA income tax reporting requirements. Rex Crandell, Esq. also provides services in the area of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Probate Procedures, Advance Healthcare Directives, Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Management, and Advance Health Care Directives.

You can contact Rex Crandell’s offices in Walnut Creek and San Francisco, California
by calling; 1 (800) 464-6595;
or (925) 934 6320, Walnut Creek, California;  or  (415) 982-1110, San Francisco, California

or by e-mail at:    rexcrandell@astound.net

http://www.rexcrandell.com/

http://www.taxrexcrandell.com/

We would be happy to hear from you.

…FROM REX CRANDELL’s OFFICE…

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

Very truly yours,
/s/ Rex L. Crandell
Rex L. Crandell. CPA, Esq.

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FROM:

Rex L. Crandell Firm

Walnut Creek Office (For UPS/FedEx/OR if Signature Req’d Documents)
3000 Citrus Circle
Suite 207 – West Wing [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]
(925) 934-6320
————————-
San Francisco Office
425 Market Street
22nd Floor [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]
(800) 464-6595
—————————
E-Mail: mailto:rexcrandell@astound.net
Internet: http://www.rexcrandell.com
Internet 2nd Web http://taxrexcrandell.com
Internet 3rd Web http://estateplanningreport.wordpress.com
Internet 4th Web https://taxnewsonlinereport.wordpress.com/ 
Skype Address rex.crandell
Fax: (925) 934-6325
———————–

All U.S. Mail items [Except if Signature is required]:
P.O. Box 30305-Dept.  Tax News Blog Update
Walnut Creek, California 94598-9305 United States of America
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IT'S TAX TIME.  BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY EARLY. IT’S TAX TIME. BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY.
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This newsletter is intended to provide generalized information that is appropriate in certain situations. It is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The contents of this newsletter should not be acted upon without specific professional guidance. Please call us if you have questions.

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STATEMENT PURSUANT TO IRS CIRCULAR 230: The drafter of this document did not intend nor write this document for the purpose that this document would be used to avoid any penalty imposed by a taxing authority, for promoting, marketing or recommending this advice to another party. The recipient of this document may not use this document for that purpose. Rex Crandell Firm would be pleased to prepare or arrange to have prepared by legal counsel, as applicable, a document that would meet the specific requirements of IRS Circular 230 and could be used for those purposes. Please advise us if you desire such a document.

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Rex Crandell, CPA~TAX NEWS LETTER. April 11, 2015 Walnut Creek, CA and San Francisco, CA Accounting Firm | Newsletter Page | Rex Crandell Firm
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http://www.taxrexcrandell.com/newsletter.php?date=042015

Newsletter April 11, 3015
Our regularly updated newsletter provides timely articles to help you achieve your financial goals. Please come back and visit often. 

April 11, 2015

Feature Articles
—-Five Last Minute Tax Tips for 2015
—-What Income is Taxable?
—-Lost Your Job?
—-There Could Be Tax Consequences
—-Tax Tips
—-Estimated Tax Payments –

—-Q and A:
—Good Records Key to Claiming Gifts to Charity
—-Simplified Option for the Home Office Deduction
—-Top Ten Facts about Adoption Tax Benefits 
—-Tax Due Dates
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Any accounting, business or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.
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Five Last Minute Tax Tips for 2015

Are you one of the millions of Americans who hasn’t filed (or even started) your taxes yet? With the April 15 tax filing deadline less than a week away, here is some last minute tax advice for you.

1. Stop Procrastinating. Resist the temptation to put off your taxes until the very last minute. It takes time to prepare accurate returns and additional information may be needed from you to complete your tax return.

2. Include All Income. If you had a side job in addition to a regular job, you might have received a Form 1099-MISC. Make sure you include that income when you file your tax return because you may owe additional taxes on it. If you forget to include it you may be liable for penalties and interest on the unreported income.

3. File on Time or Request an Extension.This year’s tax deadline is April 15. If the clock runs out, you can get an automatic six-month extension, bringing the filing date to October 15, 2015. You should keep in mind, however, that filing the extension itself does not give you more time to pay any taxes due. You will still owe interest on any amount not paid by the April deadline, plus a late-payment penalty if you have not paid at least 90 percent of your total tax by that date.

Call the office if you need to file an extension or file for late-filing penalty relief.

4. Don’t Panic If You Can’t Pay. If you can’t immediately pay the taxes you owe, there are several alternatives. You can apply for an IRS installment agreement, suggesting your own monthly payment amount and due date, and getting a reduced late payment penalty rate. You also have various options for charging your balance on a credit card. There is no IRS fee for credit card payments, but processing companies generally charge a convenience fee. Electronic filers with a balance due can file early and authorize the government’s financial agent to take the money directly from their checking or savings account on the April due date, with no fee.

5. Sign and Double Check Your Return. The IRS will not process tax returns that aren’t signed, so make sure that you sign and date your return. You should also double check your social security number, as well as any electronic payment or direct deposit numbers, and finally, make sure that your filing status is correct.

Remember: To avoid delays, get your tax documents to the office as soon as you can.

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What Income is Taxable?

Are you wondering if there’s a hard and fast rule about what income is taxable and what income is not taxable? The quick answer is that all income is taxable unless the law specifically excludes it. But as you might have guessed, there’s more to it than that.

Taxable income includes any money you receive, such as wages and tips, but it can also include non-cash income from property or services. For example, both parties in a barter exchange must include the fair market value of goods or services received as income on their tax return.

Nontaxable Income

Here are some types of income that are usually not taxable:

Gifts and inheritancesChild support paymentsWelfare benefitsDamage awards for physical injury or sicknessCash rebates from a dealer or manufacturer for an item you buyReimbursements for qualified adoption expenses

In addition, some types of income are not taxable except under certain conditions, including:

Life insurance proceeds paid to you because of the death of the insured person are usually not taxable. However, if you redeem a life insurance policy for cash, any amount that is more than the cost of the policy is taxable.Income from a qualified scholarship is normally not taxable. This means that amounts you use for certain costs, such as tuition and required books, are not taxable. However, amounts you use for room and board are taxable.If you received a state or local income tax refund, the amount may be taxable. You should have received a 2014 Form 1099-G from the agency that made the payment to you. If you didn’t get it by mail, the agency may have provided the form electronically. Contact them to find out how to get the form. Be sure to report any taxable refund you received even if you did not receive Form 1099-G.
======================
Important Reminders about Tip Income

If you get tips on the job from customers, that income is subject to taxes. Here’s what you should keep in mind when it comes to receiving tips on the job:

Tips are taxable. You must pay federal income tax on any tips you receive. The value of non-cash tips, such as tickets, passes or other items of value are also subject to income tax.Include all tips on your income tax return.You must include the total of all tips you received during the year on your income tax return. This includes tips directly from customers, tips added to credit cards and your share of tips received under a tip-splitting agreement with other employees.Report tips to your employer. If you receive $20 or more in tips in any one month, from any one job, you must report your tips for that month to your employer. The report should only include cash, check, debit and credit card tips you receive. Your employer is required to withhold federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes on the reported tips. Do not report the value of any noncash tips to your employer.Keep a daily log of tips. Use the Employee’s Daily Record of Tips and Report to Employer (IRS Publication 1244), to record your tips.
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Bartering Income is Taxable

Bartering is the trading of one product or service for another. 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. Typically, there is no exchange of cash.

If you barter, the value of products or services from bartering is taxable income. Here are four facts about bartering that you should be aware of:

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 they get.

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 you are in a trade or business, you normally report it on Form 1040, Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business.

If you have any questions about taxable and nontaxable income, don’t hesitate to contact the office.

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Lost Your Job? There Could Be Tax Consequences

Given current economic conditions, you may be faced with tax questions surrounding a job loss and unemployment issues. Here are some answers:

Q: What if I received unemployment compensation in 2014?

A: Unemployment compensation you received under the unemployment compensation laws of the United States or of a state are considered taxable income and must be reported on your federal tax return. If you received unemployment compensation, you should receive Form 1099-G showing the amount you were paid and any federal income tax you elected to have withheld.

Types of unemployment benefits include:

Benefits paid by a state or the District of Columbia from the Federal Unemployment Trust FundRailroad unemployment compensation benefitsDisability payments from a government program paid as a substitute for unemployment compensationTrade readjustment allowances under the Trade Act of 1974Unemployment assistance under the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act

You must also include benefits from regular union dues paid to you as an unemployed member of a union in your income. However, other rules apply if you contribute to a special union fund and your contributions are not deductible. If this applies to you, only include in income the amount you received from the fund that is more than your contributions.

Q: Can I have federal income tax withheld?

Yes, you can choose to have federal income tax withheld from your unemployment benefits by filling out Form W-4V, Voluntary Withholding Request. If you complete the form and give it to the paying office, they will withhold tax at 10 percent of your payments. If you choose not to have tax withheld, you may have to make estimated tax payments throughout the year.

Q: What if I lost my job?

A: The loss of a job may create new tax issues. Severance pay and unemployment compensation are taxable. Payments for any accumulated vacation or sick time are also taxable. You should ensure that enough taxes are withheld from these payments or make estimated tax payments to avoid a big bill at tax time. Public assistance and food stamps are not taxable.

Q: What if I searched for a job?

A: You may be able to deduct certain expenses you incurred while looking for a new job, even if you did not get a new job. Expenses include travel, resume preparation, and outplacement agency fees. Moving costs for a new job at least 50 miles away from your home may also be deductible.

Q: What if my employer went out of business or into bankruptcy?

A: Your employer must provide you with a 2014 W-2 Form showing your wages and withholdings by February 2, 2015. You should keep up-to-date records or pay stubs until you receive your Form W-2. If your employer or its representatives fail to provide you with a Form W-2, contact the IRS. They can help by providing you with a substitute Form W-2. If your employer liquidated your 401(k) plan, you have 60 days to roll it over into another qualified retirement plan or IRA.

If you have experienced a job loss and have questions, please call. You need to be prepared for the tax consequences.

======================
Estimated Tax Payments –
Q and A

Question: How do I know if I have to file quarterly individual estimated tax payments?

Answer: If you owed additional tax for the prior tax year, you may have to make estimated tax payments for the current tax year.

If you are filing as a sole proprietor, partner, S corporation shareholder, and/or a self-employed individual, you generally have to make estimated tax payments if you expect to owe tax of $1,000 or more when you file your return.

If you are filing as a corporation you generally have to make estimated tax payments for your corporation if you expect it to owe tax of $500 or more when you file its return.

If you had a tax liability for the prior year, you may have to pay estimated tax for the current year; however, if you receive salaries and wages, you can avoid having to pay estimated tax by asking your employer to withhold more tax from your earnings.

There are special rules for farmers, fishermen, certain household employers, and certain higher taxpayers.

The first estimated payment for 2015 is due April 15, 2015. Contact us if you are unsure whether you need to make an estimated tax payment.

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Good Records Key to Claiming Gifts to Charity

Keeping good records is key to qualifying for the full charitable contribution deduction allowed by law. In particular, this includes ensuring that they have received required statements for two contribution categories–each gift of at least $250 and donations of vehicles. Therefore, taxpayers planning to claim charitable donations should make sure they have the records they need before filing their 2014 tax returns.

First, to claim a charitable contribution deduction, donors must get a written acknowledgment from the charity for all contributions of $250 or more. This includes gifts of both cash and property. For donations of property, the acknowledgment must include, among other things, a description of the items contributed.

In addition, the law requires that taxpayers have all acknowledgements in hand before filing their tax return. These acknowledgments are not filed with the return but must be retained by the taxpayer along with other tax records.

Second, special reporting requirements generally apply to vehicle donations, and taxpayers wishing to claim these donations must attach any required documents to their tax return. 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.

Only donations to eligible organizations are tax-deductible so taxpayers must also be sure that any charity they are giving to is a qualified organization. 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 even if they are not listed in the tool’s database.

Only taxpayers who itemize their deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A can claim gifts to charity. Thus, taxpayers who choose the standard deduction cannot deduct their charitable contributions. 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.

Besides Schedule A, taxpayers who give property to charity usually must attach a special form for reporting these noncash contributions. If the amount of the deduction for all noncash contributions is over $500, a properly completed Form 8283 is required.

Additionally, there are special rules that apply to charitable contributions of used clothing and household items, monetary donations, and year-end gifts. These include:

Rules for Charitable Contributions of Clothing and Household Items

This includes 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. 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.
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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 the 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.
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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 were mailed in 2014.

Need help? Call the office today to set up an appointment with a tax and accounting specialist.

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Simplified Option for the Home Office Deduction

If you’re one of the more than 3.4 million taxpayers claimed deductions for business use of a home (commonly referred to as the home office deduction), don’t forget about the simplified option that is now available for taxpayers.

The optional deduction is capped at $1,500 per year based on $5 a square foot for up to 300 square feet. It is expected to reduce the paperwork and recordkeeping burden on small businesses by an estimated 1.6 million hours annually.

Currently, taxpayers claiming the home office deduction are generally required to fill out a 43-line form (Form 8829) often with complex calculations of allocated expenses, depreciation and carryovers of unused deductions. Taxpayers claiming the optional deduction will complete a significantly simplified form.

Though homeowners using the new option cannot depreciate the portion of their home used in a trade or business, they can claim allowable mortgage interest, real estate taxes and casualty losses on the home as itemized deductions on Schedule A. These deductions need not be allocated between personal and business use, as is required under the regular method. Business expenses unrelated to the home, such as advertising, supplies and wages paid to employees are still fully deductible.

Current restrictions on the home office deduction, such as the requirement that a home office must be used regularly and exclusively for business and the limit tied to the income derived from the particular business, still apply under the new option.

If you need more details about the new simplified home office deduction for tax year 2014 (or 2015), don’t hesitate to call.

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Top Ten Facts about Adoption Tax Benefits

If you adopted or tried to adopt a child in 2014, you may qualify for a tax credit. If your employer helped pay for the costs of an adoption, you may be able to exclude some of your income from tax. Here are ten things you should know about adoption tax benefits.

1. Credit or Exclusion. The credit is non-refundable. This means that the credit may reduce your tax to zero. If the credit is more than your tax, you can’t get any additional amount as a refund. If your employer helped pay for the adoption through a written qualified adoption assistance program, you may qualify to exclude that amount from tax.

2. Maximum Benefit. The maximum adoption tax credit and exclusion for 2014 is $13,190 per child.

3. Credit Carryover. If your credit is more than your tax, you can carry any unused credit forward. This means that if you have an unused credit in 2014, you can use it to reduce your taxes for 2015. You can do this for up to five years, or until you fully use the credit, whichever comes first.

4. Eligible Child. An eligible child is under age 18. This rule does not apply to persons who are physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.

5. Qualified Expenses. Adoption expenses must be directly related to the adoption of the child and be reasonable and necessary. Types of expenses that can qualify include adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and travel.

6. Domestic Adoptions. For domestic adoptions (adoption of a U.S. child), qualified adoption expenses paid before the year the adoption becomes final are allowable as a credit for the tax year following the year of payment (even if the adoption is never finalized).

7. Foreign Adoptions. For foreign adoptions (adoption of an eligible child who is not yet a citizen or resident of the U.S.), qualified adoption expenses paid before and during the year are allowable as a credit for the year when it becomes final.

8. Special Needs Child. If you adopted an eligible U.S. child with special needs and the adoption is final, a special rule applies. You may be able to take the tax credit even if you didn’t pay any qualified adoption expenses.

9. No Double Benefit. Depending on the adoption’s cost, you may be able to claim both the tax credit and the exclusion. However, you can’t claim both a credit and exclusion for the same expenses. This rule prevents you from claiming both tax benefits for the same expense.

10. Income Limits. The credit and exclusion are subject to income limitations. The limits may reduce or eliminate the amount you can claim depending on the amount of your income.

Questions? Contact the office today. Help is just a phone call away.
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Tax Due Dates for April 2015

April 10

Employees who work for tips – If you received $20 or more in tips during February, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

April 15

Individuals – File an income tax return for 2014 (Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ) and pay any tax due. If you want an automatic 6-month extension of time to file the return, file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return or you can get an extension by phone if you pay part or all of your estimate of income tax due with a credit card. Then file Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ by October 15.

Household Employers – If you paid cash wages of $1,900 or more in 2014 to a household employee, file Schedule H (Form 1040) with your income tax return and report any employment taxes. Report any federal unemployment (FUTA) tax on Schedule H if you paid total cash wages of $1,000 or more in any calendar quarter of 2013 or 2014 to household employees. Also report any income tax you withheld for your household employees.

Individuals – If you are not paying your 2015 income tax through withholding (or will not pay in enough tax during the year that way), pay the first installment of your 2015 estimated tax. Use Form 1040-ES.

Partnerships – File a 2014 calendar year return (Form 1065). Provide each partner with a copy of Schedule K-1 (Form 1065), Partner’s Share of Income, Credits, Deductions, etc., or a substitute Schedule K-1. If you want an automatic 5-month extension of time to file the return and provide Schedule K-1 or a substitute Schedule K-1, file Form 7004. Then file Form 1065 by September 15.

Electing Large Partnerships – File a 2014 calendar year return (Form 1065-B). If you want an automatic 6-month extension of time to file the return, file Form 7004. Then file Form 1065-B by October 15. March 16 was the due date for furnishing the Schedules K-1 to the partners.

Corporations – Deposit the first installment of estimated income tax for 2015. A worksheet, Form 1120-W, is available to help you estimate your tax for the year.

Employers – Nonpayroll withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in March.

Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in March.

April 30

Employees – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. File form 941 for the first quarter of 2015. Deposit any undeposited tax. (If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return.) If you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time, you have until May 11 to file the return.

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Copyright © 2015  All materials contained in this document are protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. All other trade names, trademarks, registered trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.
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Rex Crandell Firm
3000 Citrus Circle, #207
Walnut Creek, CA, 94598
Phone: (925) 934-6320
RexCrandell@astound.net
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A MESSAGE FROM REX CRANDELL’S TAX OFFICE:

Our firm provides income tax preparation and planning services for individuals, families, C Corporations, S Corporations, LLC Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, domestic partners, for income and deductions generated in California, the United States, and assist taxpayers internationally comply with the USA income tax reporting requirements. Rex Crandell, Esq. also provides services in the area of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Probate Procedures, Advance Healthcare Directives, Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Management, and Advance Health Care Directives.

You can contact Rex Crandell’s offices in Walnut Creek and San Francisco, California
by calling; 1 (800) 464-6595;
or (925) 934 6320, Walnut Creek, California;  or  (415) 982-1110, San Francisco, California

or by e-mail at:    rexcrandell@astound.net

http://www.rexcrandell.com/

http://www.taxrexcrandell.com/

We would be happy to hear from you.

…FROM REX CRANDELL’s OFFICE…

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

Very truly yours,
/s/ Rex L. Crandell
Rex L. Crandell. CPA, Esq.

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FROM:

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IT'S TAX TIME.  BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY EARLY. IT’S TAX TIME. BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY.
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This newsletter is intended to provide generalized information that is appropriate in certain situations. It is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The contents of this newsletter should not be acted upon without specific professional guidance. Please call us if you have questions.

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Newsletter
Our regularly updated newsletter provides timely articles to help you achieve your financial goals. Please come back and visit often. 

April 2015

Feature Articles:
>>>Five Last Minute Tax Tips for 2015
>>>What Income is Taxable?
>>>Lost Your Job? There Could Be Tax Consequences
>>>Tax Tips
>>>Estimated Tax Payments – Q & A
>>>Good Records Key to Claiming Gifts to Charity
>>>Simplified Option for the Home Office Deduction
>>>Top Ten Facts about Adoption Tax Benefits

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Tax Due Dates

Any accounting, business or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.

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Five Last Minute Tax Tips for 2015
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Are you one of the millions of Americans who hasn’t filed (or even started) your taxes yet? With the April 15 tax filing deadline less than a week away, here is some last minute tax advice for you.

1. Stop Procrastinating. Resist the temptation to put off your taxes until the very last minute. It takes time to prepare accurate returns and additional information may be needed from you to complete your tax return.

2. Include All Income. If you had a side job in addition to a regular job, you might have received a Form 1099-MISC. Make sure you include that income when you file your tax return because you may owe additional taxes on it. If you forget to include it you may be liable for penalties and interest on the unreported income.

3. File on Time or Request an Extension.This year’s tax deadline is April 15. If the clock runs out, you can get an automatic six-month extension, bringing the filing date to October 15, 2015. You should keep in mind, however, that filing the extension itself does not give you more time to pay any taxes due. You will still owe interest on any amount not paid by the April deadline, plus a late-payment penalty if you have not paid at least 90 percent of your total tax by that date.

Call the office if you need to file an extension or file for late-filing penalty relief.

4. Don’t Panic If You Can’t Pay. If you can’t immediately pay the taxes you owe, there are several alternatives. You can apply for an IRS installment agreement, suggesting your own monthly payment amount and due date, and getting a reduced late payment penalty rate. You also have various options for charging your balance on a credit card. There is no IRS fee for credit card payments, but processing companies generally charge a convenience fee. Electronic filers with a balance due can file early and authorize the government’s financial agent to take the money directly from their checking or savings account on the April due date, with no fee.

5. Sign and Double Check Your Return. The IRS will not process tax returns that aren’t signed, so make sure that you sign and date your return. You should also double check your social security number, as well as any electronic payment or direct deposit numbers, and finally, make sure that your filing status is correct.

Remember: To avoid delays, get your tax documents to the office as soon as you can.

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What Income is Taxable?
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Are you wondering if there’s a hard and fast rule about what income is taxable and what income is not taxable? The quick answer is that all income is taxable unless the law specifically excludes it. But as you might have guessed, there’s more to it than that.

Taxable income includes any money you receive, such as wages and tips, but it can also include non-cash income from property or services. For example, both parties in a barter exchange must include the fair market value of goods or services received as income on their tax return.
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Nontaxable Income

Here are some types of income 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.

In addition, some types of income are not taxable except under certain conditions, including:

Life insurance proceeds paid to you because of the death of the insured person are usually not taxable. However, if you redeem a life insurance policy for cash, any amount that is more than the cost of the policy is taxable.Income from a qualified scholarship is normally not taxable. This means that amounts you use for certain costs, such as tuition and required books, are not taxable. However, amounts you use for room and board are taxable.If you received a state or local income tax refund, the amount may be taxable. You should have received a 2014 Form 1099-G from the agency that made the payment to you. If you didn’t get it by mail, the agency may have provided the form electronically. Contact them to find out how to get the form. Be sure to report any taxable refund you received even if you did not receive Form 1099-G.
=====================
Important Reminders about Tip Income
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If you get tips on the job from customers, that income is subject to taxes. Here’s what you should keep in mind when it comes to receiving tips on the job:

Tips are taxable. 
You must pay federal income tax on any tips you receive. The value of non-cash tips, such as tickets, passes or other items of value are also subject to income tax.Include all tips on your income tax return.You must include the total of all tips you received during the year on your income tax return. This includes tips directly from customers, tips added to credit cards and your share of tips received under a tip-splitting agreement with other employees.Report tips to your employer. If you receive $20 or more in tips in any one month, from any one job, you must report your tips for that month to your employer. The report should only include cash, check, debit and credit card tips you receive. Your employer is required to withhold federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes on the reported tips. Do not report the value of any noncash tips to your employer.Keep a daily log of tips. Use the Employee’s Daily Record of Tips and Report to Employer (IRS Publication 1244), to record your tips.

Bartering Income is Taxable

Bartering is the trading of one product or service for another. 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. Typically, there is no exchange of cash.

If you barter, the value of products or services from bartering is taxable income. Here are four facts about bartering that you should be aware of:

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 they get.

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 you are in a trade or business, you normally report it on Form 1040, Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business.

If you have any questions about taxable and nontaxable income, don’t hesitate to contact the office.

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Lost Your Job? There Could Be Tax Consequences
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Given current economic conditions, you may be faced with tax questions surrounding a job loss and unemployment issues. Here are some answers:

Q: What if I received unemployment compensation in 2014?

A: Unemployment compensation you received under the unemployment compensation laws of the United States or of a state are considered taxable income and must be reported on your federal tax return. If you received unemployment compensation, you should receive Form 1099-G showing the amount you were paid and any federal income tax you elected to have withheld.

Types of unemployment benefits include:

Benefits paid by a state or the District of Columbia from the Federal Unemployment Trust Fund, Railroad unemployment compensation benefits, Disability payments from a government program paid as a substitute for unemployment compensation, Trade re-adjustment allowances under the Trade Act of 1974, Unemployment assistance under the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act

You must also include benefits from regular union dues paid to you as an unemployed member of a union in your income. However, other rules apply if you contribute to a special union fund and your contributions are not deductible. If this applies to you, only include in income the amount you received from the fund that is more than your contributions.

Q: Can I have federal income tax withheld?

Yes, you can choose to have federal income tax withheld from your unemployment benefits by filling out Form W-4V, Voluntary Withholding Request. If you complete the form and give it to the paying office, they will withhold tax at 10 percent of your payments. If you choose not to have tax withheld, you may have to make estimated tax payments throughout the year.

Q: What if I lost my job?

A: The loss of a job may create new tax issues. Severance pay and unemployment compensation are taxable. Payments for any accumulated vacation or sick time are also taxable. You should ensure that enough taxes are withheld from these payments or make estimated tax payments to avoid a big bill at tax time. Public assistance and food stamps are not taxable.

Q: What if I searched for a job?

A: You may be able to deduct certain expenses you incurred while looking for a new job, even if you did not get a new job. Expenses include travel, resume preparation, and outplacement agency fees. Moving costs for a new job at least 50 miles away from your home may also be deductible.

Q: What if my employer went out of business or into bankruptcy?

A: Your employer must provide you with a 2014 W-2 Form showing your wages and withholdings by February 2, 2015. You should keep up-to-date records or pay stubs until you receive your Form W-2. If your employer or its representatives fail to provide you with a Form W-2, contact the IRS. They can help by providing you with a substitute Form W-2. If your employer liquidated your 401(k) plan, you have 60 days to roll it over into another qualified retirement plan or IRA.

If you have experienced a job loss and have questions, please call. You need to be prepared for the tax consequences.

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Estimated Tax Payments – Q & A
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Question: How do I know if I have to file quarterly individual estimated tax payments?

Answer: If you owed additional tax for the prior tax year, you may have to make estimated tax payments for the current tax year.

If you are filing as a sole proprietor, partner, S corporation shareholder, and/or a self-employed individual, you generally have to make estimated tax payments if you expect to owe tax of $1,000 or more when you file your return.

If you are filing as a corporation you generally have to make estimated tax payments for your corporation if you expect it to owe tax of $500 or more when you file its return.

If you had a tax liability for the prior year, you may have to pay estimated tax for the current year; however, if you receive salaries and wages, you can avoid having to pay estimated tax by asking your employer to withhold more tax from your earnings.

There are special rules for farmers, fishermen, certain household employers, and certain higher taxpayers.

The first estimated payment for 2015 is due April 15, 2015. Contact us if you are unsure whether you need to make an estimated tax payment.

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Good Records Key to Claiming Gifts to Charity
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Keeping good records is key to qualifying for the full charitable contribution deduction allowed by law. In particular, this includes ensuring that they have received required statements for two contribution categories
A. each gift of at least $250 and
B. donations of vehicles. Therefore, taxpayers planning to claim charitable donations should make sure they have the records they need before filing their 2014 tax returns.

First, to claim a charitable contribution deduction, donors must get a written acknowledgment from the charity for all contributions of $250 or more. This includes gifts of both cash and property. For donations of property, the acknowledgment must include, among other things, a description of the items contributed.

In addition, the law requires that taxpayers have all acknowledgements in hand before filing their tax return. These acknowledgments are not filed with the return but must be retained by the taxpayer along with other tax records.
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Second, special reporting requirements generally apply to vehicle donations, and taxpayers wishing to claim these donations must attach any required documents to their tax return. 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.

Only donations to eligible organizations are tax-deductible so taxpayers must also be sure that any charity they are giving to is a qualified organization. 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 even if they are not listed in the tool’s database.

Only taxpayers who itemize their deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A can claim gifts to charity. Thus, taxpayers who choose the standard deduction cannot deduct their charitable contributions. This includes anyone who files a short form (Form 1040A or 1040EZ) does not get to itemize their deductions separately..

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.

Besides Schedule A, taxpayers who give property to charity usually must attach a special form for reporting these noncash contributions. If the amount of the deduction for all noncash contributions is over $500, a properly completed IRS Form 8283 is required.
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Additionally, there are special rules that apply to charitable contributions of used clothing and household items, monetary donations, and year-end gifts. These include:
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Rules for Charitable Contributions of Clothing and Household Items
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This includes 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. 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.

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 the 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.

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 were mailed in 2014.
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Need help? Call the office today to set up an appointment with a tax and accounting specialist.
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Simplified Option for the Home Office Deduction
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If you’re one of the more than 3.4 million taxpayers claimed deductions for business use of a home (commonly referred to as the home office deduction), don’t forget about the simplified option that is now available for taxpayers.

The optional deduction is capped at $1,500 per year based on $5 a square foot for up to 300 square feet. It is expected to reduce the paperwork and recordkeeping burden on small businesses by an estimated 1.6 million hours annually.

Currently, taxpayers claiming the home office deduction are generally required to fill out a 43-line form ( IRS Form 8829) often with complex calculations of allocated expenses, depreciation and carryovers of unused deductions. Taxpayers claiming the optional deduction will complete a significantly simplified form.
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Though homeowners using the new option cannot depreciate the portion of their home used in a trade or business, they can claim allowable mortgage interest, real estate taxes and casualty losses on the home as itemized deductions on Schedule A. These deductions need not be allocated between personal and business use, as is required under the regular method. Business expenses unrelated to the home, such as advertising, supplies and wages paid to employees are still fully deductible.
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Current restrictions on the home office deduction, such as the requirement that a home office must be used regularly and exclusively for business and the limit tied to the income derived from the particular business, still apply under the deductability limitation rules.
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If you need more details about the new simplified home office deduction for tax year 2014 (or 2015 or 2016), don’t hesitate to call.

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Top Ten Facts about Adoption Tax Benefits
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If you adopted or tried to adopt a child in 2014, you may qualify for a tax credit. If your employer helped pay for the costs of an adoption, you may be able to exclude some of your income from tax. Here are ten things you should know about adoption tax benefits.

1. Credit or Exclusion. The credit is non-refundable. This means that the credit may reduce your tax to zero. If the credit is more than your tax, you can’t get any additional amount as a refund. If your employer helped pay for the adoption through a written qualified adoption assistance program, you may qualify to exclude that amount from tax.

2. Maximum Benefit. The maximum adoption tax credit and exclusion for 2014 is $13,190 per child.

3. Credit Carryover. If your credit is more than your tax, you can carry any unused credit forward. This means that if you have an unused credit in 2014, you can use it to reduce your taxes for 2015. You can do this for up to five years, or until you fully use the credit, whichever comes first.

4. Eligible Child. An eligible child is under age 18. This rule does not apply to persons who are physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.

5. Qualified Expenses.  Adoption expenses must be directly related to the adoption of the child and be reasonable and necessary. Types of expenses that can qualify include adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and travel.

6. Domestic Adoptions. For domestic adoptions (adoption of a U.S. child), qualified adoption expenses paid before the year the adoption becomes final are allowable as a credit for the tax year following the year of payment (even if the adoption is never finalized).

7. Foreign Adoptions. For foreign adoptions (adoption of an eligible child who is not yet a citizen or resident of the U.S.), qualified adoption expenses paid before and during the year are allowable as a credit for the year when it becomes final.

8. Special Needs Child. If you adopted an eligible U.S. child with special needs and the adoption is final, a special rule applies. You may be able to take the tax credit even if you didn’t pay any qualified adoption expenses.

9. No Double Benefit.  Depending on the adoption’s cost, you may be able to claim both the tax credit and the exclusion. However, you can’t claim both a credit and exclusion for the same expenses. This rule prevents you from claiming both tax benefits for the same expense.

10. Income Limits. The credit and exclusion are subject to income limitations. The limits may reduce or eliminate the amount you can claim depending on the amount of your income.

Questions? Contact the office today. Help is just a phone call away.

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Tax Due Dates for April 2015
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April 10

Employees who work for tips – If you received $20 or more in tips during February, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

April 15

Individuals – File an income tax return for 2014 (Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ) and pay any tax due. If you want an automatic 6-month extension of time to file the return, file IRS Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return or you can get an extension by phone if you pay part or all of your estimate of income tax due with a credit card. Then file Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ by October 15.

Household Employers – If you paid cash wages of $1,900 or more in 2014 to a household employee, file Schedule H (Form 1040) with your income tax return and report any employment taxes. Report any federal unemployment (FUTA) tax on Schedule H if you paid total cash wages of $1,000 or more in any calendar quarter of 2013 or 2014 to household employees. Also report any income tax you withheld for your household employees.

Individuals – If you are not paying your 2015 income tax through withholding (or will not pay in enough tax during the year that way), pay the first installment of your 2015 estimated tax. Use IRS Form 1040-ES and CA FTB Form 540-ES.

Partnerships – File a 2014 calendar year return (IRS Form 1065, with the related Schedule K-1 for each owner). Provide each partner with a copy of Schedule K-1 (IRS Form 1065), Partner’s Share of Income, Credits, Deductions, etc., or a substitute Schedule K-1. If you want an automatic 5-month extension of time to file the return and provide Schedule K-1 or a substitute Schedule K-1, file IRS Form 7004. Then file IRS Form 1065 by September 15.

Electing Large Partnerships – File a 2014 calendar year return (IRS Form 1065-B). If you want an automatic 6-month extension of time to file the return, file IRS Form 7004. Then file IRS Form 1065-B by October 15. March 16 was the due date for furnishing the Schedules K-1 to the partners.

Corporations – Deposit the first installment of estimated income tax for 2015. A worksheet, IRS Form 1120-W, is available to help you estimate your tax for the year.

Employers – Nonpayroll withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in March.

Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in March.

April 30

Employees – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. File IRS Form 941 for the first quarter of 2015. Deposit any undeposited tax. (If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return.) If you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time, you have until May 11 to file the return.
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Copyright © 2015  All materials contained in this document are protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. All other trade names, trademarks, registered trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.
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Rex Crandell Firm
3000 Citrus Circle, #207
Walnut Creek, CA, 94598
Phone: (925) 934-6320
Phone: 1 (800) 464-6595
RexCrandell@astound.net
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USA ~ EAGLE & FLAG Mov Gif 04FEB14

A MESSAGE FROM REX CRANDELL’S TAX OFFICE:

Our firm provides income tax preparation and planning services for individuals, families, C Corporations, S Corporations, LLC Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, domestic partners, for income and deductions generated in California, the United States, and assist taxpayers internationally comply with the USA income tax reporting requirements. Rex Crandell, Esq. also provides services in the area of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Probate Procedures, Advance Healthcare Directives, Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Management, and Advance Health Care Directives.

You can contact Rex Crandell’s offices in Walnut Creek and San Francisco, California
by calling; 1 (800) 464-6595;
or (925) 934 6320, Walnut Creek, California;  or  (415) 982-1110, San Francisco, California

or by e-mail at:    rexcrandell@astound.net

http://www.rexcrandell.com/

http://www.taxrexcrandell.com/

We would be happy to hear from you.

…FROM REX CRANDELL’s OFFICE…

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

Very truly yours,
/s/ Rex L. Crandell
Rex L. Crandell. CPA, Esq.

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FROM:

Rex L. Crandell Firm

Walnut Creek Office (For UPS/FedEx/OR if Signature Req’d Documents)
3000 Citrus Circle
Suite 207 – West Wing [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]
(925) 934-6320
————————-
San Francisco Office
425 Market Street
22nd Floor [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]
(800) 464-6595
—————————
E-Mail: mailto:rexcrandell@astound.net
Internet: http://www.rexcrandell.com
Internet 2nd Web http://taxrexcrandell.com
Internet 3rd Web http://estateplanningreport.wordpress.com
Internet 4th Web https://taxnewsonlinereport.wordpress.com/ 
Skype Address rex.crandell
Fax: (925) 934-6325
———————–

All U.S. Mail items [Except if Signature is required]:
P.O. Box 30305-Dept.  Tax News Blog Update
Walnut Creek, California 94598-9305 United States of America
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IT'S TAX TIME.  BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY EARLY. IT’S TAX TIME. BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY.
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This newsletter is intended to provide generalized information that is appropriate in certain situations. It is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The contents of this newsletter should not be acted upon without specific professional guidance. Please call us if you have questions.

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STATEMENT PURSUANT TO IRS CIRCULAR 230: The drafter of this document did not intend nor write this document for the purpose that this document would be used to avoid any penalty imposed by a taxing authority, for promoting, marketing or recommending this advice to another party. The recipient of this document may not use this document for that purpose. Rex Crandell Firm would be pleased to prepare or arrange to have prepared by legal counsel, as applicable, a document that would meet the specific requirements of IRS Circular 230 and could be used for those purposes. Please advise us if you desire such a document.

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DISCLAIMER: The sponsors and editors of this privately owned website are not goverment employees and do not represent nor speak for any governmental agency.
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Watch “Hitler Works as an Income Tax Accountant in a Large CPA Firm.” Watch as he Solves Client Tax Problems With His Helpful Staff on RexAdventureTube. Spoof.
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USA ~ EAGLE & FLAG Mov Gif 04FEB14

A MESSAGE FROM REX CRANDELL’S TAX OFFICE:

Our firm provides income tax preparation and planning services for individuals, families, C Corporations, S Corporations, LLC Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, domestic partners, for income and deductions generated in California, the United States, and assist taxpayers internationally comply with the USA income tax reporting requirements. Rex Crandell, Esq. also provides services in the area of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Probate Procedures, Advance Healthcare Directives, Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Management, and Advance Health Care Directives.

You can contact Rex Crandell’s offices in Walnut Creek and San Francisco, California
by calling; 1 (800) 464-6595;
or (925) 934 6320, Walnut Creek, California;  or  (415) 982-1110, San Francisco, California

or by e-mail at:    rexcrandell@astound.net

http://www.rexcrandell.com/

http://www.taxrexcrandell.com/

We would be happy to hear from you.

…FROM REX CRANDELL’s OFFICE…

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

Very truly yours,
/s/ Rex L. Crandell
Rex L. Crandell. CPA, Esq.

image002

============================================

FROM:

Rex L. Crandell Firm

Walnut Creek Office (For UPS/FedEx/OR if Signature Req’d Documents)
3000 Citrus Circle
Suite 207 – West Wing [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]
(925) 934-6320
————————-
San Francisco Office
425 Market Street
22nd Floor [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]
(800) 464-6595
—————————
E-Mail: mailto:rexcrandell@astound.net
Internet: http://www.rexcrandell.com
Internet 2nd Web http://taxrexcrandell.com
Internet 3rd Web http://estateplanningreport.wordpress.com
Internet 4th Web https://taxnewsonlinereport.wordpress.com/ 
Skype Address rex.crandell
Fax: (925) 934-6325
———————–

All U.S. Mail items [Except if Signature is required]:
P.O. Box 30305-Dept.  Tax News Blog Update
Walnut Creek, California 94598-9305 United States of America
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IT'S TAX TIME.  BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY EARLY. IT’S TAX TIME. BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY.
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This newsletter is intended to provide generalized information that is appropriate in certain situations. It is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The contents of this newsletter should not be acted upon without specific professional guidance. Please call us if you have questions.

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STATEMENT PURSUANT TO IRS CIRCULAR 230: The drafter of this document did not intend nor write this document for the purpose that this document would be used to avoid any penalty imposed by a taxing authority, for promoting, marketing or recommending this advice to another party. The recipient of this document may not use this document for that purpose. Rex Crandell Firm would be pleased to prepare or arrange to have prepared by legal counsel, as applicable, a document that would meet the specific requirements of IRS Circular 230 and could be used for those purposes. Please advise us if you desire such a document.

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DISCLAIMER: The sponsors and editors of this privately owned website are not goverment employees and do not represent nor speak for any governmental agency.
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Watch: I was born to be a Tax Accountant because…: ” on RexAdventureTube.
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USA ~ EAGLE & FLAG Mov Gif 04FEB14

A MESSAGE FROM REX CRANDELL’S TAX OFFICE:

Our firm provides income tax preparation and planning services for individuals, families, C Corporations, S Corporations, LLC Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, domestic partners, for income and deductions generated in California, the United States, and assist taxpayers internationally comply with the USA income tax reporting requirements. Rex Crandell, Esq. also provides services in the area of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Probate Procedures, Advance Healthcare Directives, Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Management, and Advance Health Care Directives.

You can contact Rex Crandell’s offices in Walnut Creek and San Francisco, California
by calling; 1 (800) 464-6595;
or (925) 934 6320, Walnut Creek, California;  or  (415) 982-1110, San Francisco, California

or by e-mail at:    rexcrandell@astound.net

http://www.rexcrandell.com/

http://www.taxrexcrandell.com/

We would be happy to hear from you.

…FROM REX CRANDELL’s OFFICE…

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

Very truly yours,
/s/ Rex L. Crandell
Rex L. Crandell. CPA, Esq.

image002

============================================

FROM:

Rex L. Crandell Firm

Walnut Creek Office (For UPS/FedEx/OR if Signature Req’d Documents)
3000 Citrus Circle
Suite 207 – West Wing [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]
(925) 934-6320
————————-
San Francisco Office
425 Market Street
22nd Floor [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]
(800) 464-6595
—————————
E-Mail: mailto:rexcrandell@astound.net
Internet: http://www.rexcrandell.com
Internet 2nd Web http://taxrexcrandell.com
Internet 3rd Web http://estateplanningreport.wordpress.com
Internet 4th Web https://taxnewsonlinereport.wordpress.com/ 
Skype Address rex.crandell
Fax: (925) 934-6325
———————–

All U.S. Mail items [Except if Signature is required]:
P.O. Box 30305-Dept.  Tax News Blog Update
Walnut Creek, California 94598-9305 United States of America
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IT'S TAX TIME.  BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY EARLY. IT’S TAX TIME. BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY.
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This newsletter is intended to provide generalized information that is appropriate in certain situations. It is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The contents of this newsletter should not be acted upon without specific professional guidance. Please call us if you have questions.

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STATEMENT PURSUANT TO IRS CIRCULAR 230: The drafter of this document did not intend nor write this document for the purpose that this document would be used to avoid any penalty imposed by a taxing authority, for promoting, marketing or recommending this advice to another party. The recipient of this document may not use this document for that purpose. Rex Crandell Firm would be pleased to prepare or arrange to have prepared by legal counsel, as applicable, a document that would meet the specific requirements of IRS Circular 230 and could be used for those purposes. Please advise us if you desire such a document.

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DISCLAIMER: The sponsors and editors of this privately owned website are not goverment employees and do not represent nor speak for any governmental agency.
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Watch “10 things a tax accountant would never say” on RexAdventureTube.
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USA ~ EAGLE & FLAG Mov Gif 04FEB14

A MESSAGE FROM REX CRANDELL’S TAX OFFICE:

Our firm provides income tax preparation and planning services for individuals, families, C Corporations, S Corporations, LLC Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, domestic partners, for income and deductions generated in California, the United States, and assist taxpayers internationally comply with the USA income tax reporting requirements. Rex Crandell, Esq. also provides services in the area of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Probate Procedures, Advance Healthcare Directives, Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Management, and Advance Health Care Directives.

You can contact Rex Crandell’s offices in Walnut Creek and San Francisco, California
by calling; 1 (800) 464-6595;
or (925) 934 6320, Walnut Creek, California;  or  (415) 982-1110, San Francisco, California

or by e-mail at:    rexcrandell@astound.net

http://www.rexcrandell.com/

http://www.taxrexcrandell.com/

We would be happy to hear from you.

…FROM REX CRANDELL’s OFFICE…

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

Very truly yours,
/s/ Rex L. Crandell
Rex L. Crandell. CPA, Esq.

image002

============================================

FROM:

Rex L. Crandell Firm

Walnut Creek Office (For UPS/FedEx/OR if Signature Req’d Documents)
3000 Citrus Circle
Suite 207 – West Wing [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]
(925) 934-6320
————————-
San Francisco Office
425 Market Street
22nd Floor [ Click For MAP TO OUR OFFICE]
(800) 464-6595
—————————
E-Mail: mailto:rexcrandell@astound.net
Internet: http://www.rexcrandell.com
Internet 2nd Web http://taxrexcrandell.com
Internet 3rd Web http://estateplanningreport.wordpress.com
Internet 4th Web https://taxnewsonlinereport.wordpress.com/ 
Skype Address rex.crandell
Fax: (925) 934-6325
———————–

All U.S. Mail items [Except if Signature is required]:
P.O. Box 30305-Dept.  Tax News Blog Update
Walnut Creek, California 94598-9305 United States of America
.

.

IT'S TAX TIME.  BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY EARLY. IT’S TAX TIME. BETTER GET YOUR PAPERS AND FILES READY.
.

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.

.

This newsletter is intended to provide generalized information that is appropriate in certain situations. It is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The contents of this newsletter should not be acted upon without specific professional guidance. Please call us if you have questions.

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.
STATEMENT PURSUANT TO IRS CIRCULAR 230: The drafter of this document did not intend nor write this document for the purpose that this document would be used to avoid any penalty imposed by a taxing authority, for promoting, marketing or recommending this advice to another party. The recipient of this document may not use this document for that purpose. Rex Crandell Firm would be pleased to prepare or arrange to have prepared by legal counsel, as applicable, a document that would meet the specific requirements of IRS Circular 230 and could be used for those purposes. Please advise us if you desire such a document.

__________________________________

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DISCLAIMER: The sponsors and editors of this privately owned website are not goverment employees and do not represent nor speak for any governmental agency.
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NEW TAXES and PENALTIES.
Check out the new Affordable Care Act Tax (ACA) Features. Expect to answer questions about your health coverage when preparing your 2014 personal income tax returns before April 15th 2015 (soon).
 
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Update:

Each year the Health Insurance Marketplace has an open enrollment period.  The open enrollment period to purchase health care insurance for 2015 runs from Nov. 15, 2014, through Feb. 15, 2015. Contact the Marketplace at HealthCare.gov to enroll and to get information about financial assistance to purchase health care coverage for you and your family.

On Sept. 10, 2014, IRS Commissioner John A. Koskinen testified before the House Ways and Means Committee’s subcommittee on Health. The commissioner’s testimony focused on the IRS’s role in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and what the IRS is doing to ensure that taxpayers know how provisions of the law may affect them.

Effect of Sequestration on Small Business Health Care Tax Credit – Tax-Exempt Employers Only
Due to sequestration, refund payments issued to certain small tax-exempt employers claiming the refundable portion of the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit under Internal Revenue Code section 45R, are subject to sequestration. This means that refund payments processed on or after Oct. 1, 2014, and on or before Sept. 30, 2015, issued to a tax-exempt taxpayer claiming the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit under section 45R will be reduced by the fiscal year 2015 sequestration rate of 7.3 percent (regardless of when the original or amended tax return was received by the IRS). The sequestration reduction rate will be applied unless and until a law is enacted that cancels or otherwise impacts the sequester, at which time the sequestration reduction rate is subject to change.  Sequestration only affects the refundable portion of the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit filed by tax-exempt employers.  Sequestration does not impact Small Business Health Care Tax Credit claims by non-tax-exempt employers, as the credit is not a refundable credit for non-tax-exempt employers.

Affected taxpayers will be notified through correspondence that a portion of their requested payment was subject to the sequester reduction and the amount.
IRC §7216, Disclosure or Use of Information by Tax Return Preparers
Final Treasury Regulations on rules and consent requirements relating to the disclosure or use of tax return information by tax return preparers became effective Dec. 28, 2012. For additional information about how these apply to services and education related to the Affordable Care Act, please see our questions and answers. 

Medical Loss Ratio (MLR)
Beginning in 2011, insurance companies are required to spend a specified percentage of premium dollars on medical care and quality improvement activities, meeting a medical loss ratio (MLR) standard. Insurance companies that are not meeting the MLR standard will be required to provide rebates to their consumers beginning in 2012. For information on the federal tax consequences to an insurance company that pays a MLR rebate and an individual policyholder who receives a MLR rebate, as well as information on the federal tax consequences to employees if a MLR rebate stems from a group health insurance policy, see our frequently asked questions.
Reporting Employer Provided Health Coverage in Form W-2
The Affordable Care Act requires employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan on an employee’s Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, in Box 12, using Code DD. Many employers are eligible for transition relief for tax-year 2012 and beyond, until the IRS issues final guidance for this reporting requirement.
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The amount reported does not affect tax liability, as the value of the employer excludible contribution to health coverage continues to be excludible from an employee’s income, and it is not taxable. This reporting is for informational purposes only, to show employees the value of their health care benefits.

More information about the reporting can be found on Form W-2 Reporting of Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage.

Net Investment Income Tax
A new Net Investment Income Tax went into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. The 3.8 percent Net Investment Income Tax applies to individuals, estates and trusts that have certain investment income above certain threshold amounts. On Nov. 26, 2013, the IRS and the Treasury Department issued final regulations, which provide guidance on the general application of the Net Investment Income Tax and the computation of Net Investment Income. In addition, on Nov. 26, 2013, the IRS and the Treasury Department issued proposed regulations on the computation of net investment income as it relates to certain specific types of property. Comments may be submitted electronically, by mail or hand delivered to the IRS. For additional information on the Net Investment Income Tax, see our questions and answers.
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Additional Medicare Tax
A new Additional Medicare Tax went into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. The 0.9 percent Additional Medicare Tax applies to an individual’s wages, Railroad Retirement Tax Act compensation and self-employment income that exceeds a threshold amount based on the individual’s filing status. The threshold amounts are $250,000 for married taxpayers who file jointly, $125,000 for married taxpayers who file separately and $200,000 for all other taxpayers. An employer is responsible for withholding the Additional Medicare Tax from wages or compensation it pays to an employee in excess of $200,000 in a calendar year. On Nov. 26, 2013, the IRS and the Department of the Treasury issued final regulations which provide guidance for employers and individuals relating to the implementation of Additional Medicare Tax, including the requirement to withhold Additional Medicare Tax on certain wages and compensation, the requirement to report Additional Medicare Tax, and the employer process for adjusting underpayments and overpayments of Additional Medicare Tax. In addition, the regulations provide guidance on the employer and individual processes for filing a claim for refund for an overpayment of Additional Medicare Tax.
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Minimum Value.
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On April 26, 2012, the Department of the Treasury and IRS issued Notice 2012-31, which provides information and requested public comment on an approach to determining whether an eligible employer-sponsored health plan provides minimum value. Additionally, on April 30, 2013, the Treasury Department and the IRS issued proposed regulations relating to minimum value of eligible employer-sponsored plans and other rules regarding the premium tax credit. Starting in 2014, whether such a plan provides minimum value will be relevant to eligibility for the premium tax credit and application of the employer shared responsibility payment. 
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On November 4, 2014, the Department of the Treasury and IRS issued Notice 2014-69, which provides additional guidance regarding whether an employer-sponsored plan provides minimum value coverage if the plan fails to substantially cover in-patient hospitalization services or physician services.
Information Reporting on Health Coverage by Employers.
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On March 5, 2014, the Department of the Treasury and IRS issued final regulations on employer health insurance coverage information reporting. The information reporting relates to health insurance coverage that is offered by certain employers, referred to as applicable large employers, and reporting is to be provided by each member of an applicable large employer. Additionally, on July 9, 2013, the Department of the Treasury and the IRS issued Notice 2013-45, announcing transition relief for 2014 from this annual information reporting. For additional information on the employer health insurance coverage information reporting see our questions and answers and this fact sheet issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. 
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On July 24, 2014, the IRS released draft forms that employers will use to report on health coverage that they offer to their employees. In accordance with the IRS’ normal process, these draft forms are being provided to help stakeholders, including employers, tax professionals and software providers, prepare for these new reporting provisions and to invite comments from them. On Aug. 28, 2014, draft instructions relating to the forms were posted to IRS.gov. Both the forms and instructions will be finalized later this year.
Information Reporting on Health Coverage by Insurers
On March 5, 2014, the Department of the Treasury and IRS issued final regulations on minimum essential coverage information reporting. The information reporting is to be provided by health insurance issuers, certain sponsors of self-insured plans, government agencies and certain other parties that provide health coverage. Additionally, on July 9, 2013, the Department of the Treasury and the IRS issued Notice 2013-45 announcing transition relief for 2014 from this annual information reporting.
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On July 24, 2014, the IRS released draft forms that insurers will use to report on health coverage that they provide for individuals that they cover. In accordance with the IRS’ normal process, these draft forms are being provided to help stakeholders, including insurers, employers, tax professionals and software providers, prepare for these new reporting provisions and to invite comments from them. On August 28, 2014, draft instructions relating to the forms were posted to IRS.gov. Both the forms and instructions will be finalized later this year.
Disclosure of Return Information.
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On Aug. 13, 2013, the Department of the Treasury and the IRS issued final regulations with rules for disclosure of return information to the Department of Health and Human Services that will be used to carry out eligibility determinations for advance payments of the premium tax credit, Medicaid and other health insurance affordability programs.
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Small Business Health Care Tax Credit:
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This credit helps small businesses and small tax-exempt organizations afford the cost of covering their employees and is specifically targeted for those with low- and moderate-income workers. The credit is designed to encourage small employers to offer health insurance coverage for the first time or maintain coverage they already have. In general, the credit is available to small employers that pay at least half the cost of single coverage for their employees. On June 26, 2014, the Department of Treasury and the IRS issued final regulations on the credit, which include information on the requirement to purchase health insurance coverage through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace. The final regulations are applicable for taxable years beginning in or after 2014. Additionally, IRS Notice 2014-06 provides transition relief for employers in certain counties in Washington and Wisconsin with no SHOP coverage available. For taxable years beginning in 2010 through 2013, taxpayers can rely on the guidance in the proposed regulations, Notice 2010-44 and Notice 2010-82. Learn more by browsing our page on the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit for Small Employers.
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Application of the Affordable Care Act to Health Reimbursement Arrangements, Health Flexible Spending Arrangements and Certain Other Employer Healthcare Arrangements
The Affordable Care Act’s market reforms apply to group health plans. On Sept. 13, 2013, the IRS issued Notice 2013-54, which explains how the Affordable Care Act’s market reforms apply to certain types of group health plans, including health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs) and certain other employer healthcare arrangements, including arrangements under which an employer reimburses an employee for some or all of the premium expenses incurred for an individual health insurance policy. The notice also provides guidance on employee assistance programs or EAPs and on section 125(f)(3), which prohibits the use of pre-tax employee contributions to cafeteria plans to purchase coverage on an Affordable Insurance Exchange (also known as a Health Insurance Marketplace). The notice applies for plan years beginning on and after Jan. 1, 2014, but taxpayers may apply the guidance provided in the notice for all prior periods.  
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DOL has issued a notice in substantially identical form to Notice 2013-54, DOL Technical Release 2013-03. On Jan. 24, 2013, DOL and HHS issued FAQs that address the application of the Affordable Care Act to HRAs. On Nov. 6, 2014, DOL issued additional FAQs that address the application of the Affordable Care Act to HRAs and other payment arrangements.
Additional information is also available regarding consequences to the employer if the employer does not establish a health insurance plan for its own employees, but reimburses those employees for premiums they pay for health insurance (either through a qualified health plan in the Marketplace or outside the Marketplace).
On Jan. 9, 2014, DOL and HHS issued FAQs that addressed, among other things, future rules relating to excepted benefits.
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Health Flexible Spending Arrangements
Effective Jan. 1, 2011, the cost of an over-the-counter medicine or drug cannot be reimbursed from Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs) or health reimbursement arrangements unless a prescription is obtained. The change does not affect insulin, even if purchased without a prescription, or other health care expenses such as medical devices, eye glasses, contact lenses, co-pays and deductibles. This standard applies only to purchases made on or after Jan. 1, 2011. A similar rule went into effect on Jan. 1, 2011, for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and Archer Medical Savings Accounts (Archer MSAs). Employers and employees should take these changes into account as they make health benefit decisions. For more information, see news release IR-2010-95, Notice 2010-59, Revenue Ruling 2010-23 and our questions and answers. FSA and HRA participants can continue using debit cards to buy prescribed over-the-counter medicines, if requirements are met. For more information, see news release IR-2010-128 and Notice 2011-5. Additionally, Notice 2013-57 provides information about the definition of preventive care for purposes of high deductible health plans associated with HSAs. 
In addition, starting in 2013, there are new rules about the amount that can be contributed to an FSA. Notice 2012-40 provides information about these rules and flexibility for employers applying the new rules. On Oct. 31, 2013, the Department of the Treasury and IRS issued Notice 2013-71, which provides information on a new $500 carryover option for employer-sponsored healthcare flexible spending arrangements. Learn more by reading the news release issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Further, Notice 2013-54 provides guidance regarding the application of the Affordable Care Act’s market reforms to certain health FSAs.   
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Medical Device Excise Tax
On Dec. 5, 2012, the IRS and the Department of the Treasury issued final regulations on the new 2.3-percent medical device excise tax (IRC §4191) that manufacturers and importers will pay on their sales of certain medical devices starting in 2013. On Dec. 5, 2012, the IRS and the Department of the Treasury also issued Notice 2012-77, which provides interim guidance on certain issues related to the medical device excise tax. Additional information is available on the Medical Device Excise Tax page and Medical Device Excise Tax FAQs on IRS.gov.
Changes to Itemized Deduction for Medical Expenses
Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, you can claim deductions for medical expenses not covered by your health insurance when they reach 10 percent of your adjusted gross income. This change affects your 2013 tax return that you will file in 2014. There is a temporary exemption from Jan. 1, 2013, to Dec. 31, 2016, for individuals age 65 and older and their spouses. For additional information, see our questions and answers.
Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit.
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Starting in 2014, individuals and families can take a new premium tax credit to help them afford health insurance coverage purchased through an Affordable Insurance Exchange (also known as a Health Insurance Marketplace). The premium tax credit is refundable so taxpayers who have little or no income tax liability can still benefit. The credit also can be paid in advance to a taxpayer’s insurance company to help cover the cost of premiums. On May 18, 2012, the Department of the Treasury and the IRS issued final regulations, which provide guidance for individuals who enroll in qualified health plans through Marketplaces and claim the premium tax credit, and for Marketplaces that make qualified health plans available to individuals and employers. On Jan. 30, 2013, the Department of the Treasury and IRS released final regulations on the premium tax credit affordability test for related individuals. On April 30, 2013, the Department of the Treasury and the IRS issued proposed regulations relating to minimum value of eligible employer-sponsored plans and other rules regarding the premium tax credit. On November 4, 2014, the Department of the Treasury and IRS issued Notice 2014-69, which provides additional guidance regarding whether an employer-sponsored plan provides minimum value coverage if the plan fails to substantially cover in-patient hospitalization services or physician services. Notice 2013-41, issued on June 26, 2013, provides information for determining whether or when individuals are considered eligible for coverage under certain Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, TRICARE, student health or state high-risk pool programs. This determination will affect whether the individual is eligible for the premium tax credit. On November 7, 2014, the Department of the Treasury and IRS issued Notice 2014-71, which advises that an individual enrolled in a qualified health plan who becomes eligible for Medicaid coverage for pregnancy-related services that is minimum essential coverage, or for CHIP coverage based on pregnancy, is treated as eligible for minimum essential coverage under the Medicaid or CHIP coverage for purposes of the premium tax credit only if the individual enrolls in the coverage. On May 2, 2014, the Department of the Treasury and the IRS issued final regulations on the r