Divorce Taxation

October 4, 2016

Need information about how being separated or divorced can effect your individual tax situation? Check out our most recently published article in the Virginia Society of CPA’s Disclosures September/October Issue, written by Cheri G. David, CPA, CVA, link below:

Click to access divorcetaxation.pdf

 

 


Self Employed? Check Out These IRS Tax Tips

February 20, 2016

If you are self-employed, you normally carry on a trade or business. Sole proprietors and independent contractors are two types of self-employment. If this applies to you, there are a few basic things you should know about how your income affects your federal tax return. Here are six important tips from the IRS:

•    SE Income. Self-employment can include income you received for part-time work. This is in addition to income from your regular job.

•    Schedule C or C-EZ. You must file a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, or Schedule C-EZ, Net Profit from Business, with your Form 1040. You may use Schedule C-EZ if you had expenses less than $5,000 and meet certain other conditions. See the form instructions to find out if you can use the form.

•    SE Tax. You may have to pay self-employment tax as well as income tax if you made a profit. Self-employment tax includes Social Security and Medicare taxes. Use Schedule SE, Self-Employment Tax, to figure the tax. If you owe this tax, attach the schedule to your federal tax return.

•    Estimated Tax. You may need to make estimated tax payments. Try IRS Direct Pay. People typically make these payments on income that is not subject to withholding. You usually pay estimated taxes in four annual installments. If you do not pay enough tax throughout the year, you may owe a penalty.

•    Allowable Deductions. You can deduct expenses you paid to run your business that are both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and proper for your trade or business.

•    When to Deduct. In most cases, you can deduct expenses in the same year you paid, or incurred them. However, you must ‘capitalize’ some costs. This means you can deduct part of the cost over a number of years.


2016 Standard Mileage Rates for Business, Medical and Moving Announced

December 17, 2015

2016 Standard Mileage Rates for Business, Medical and Moving Announced
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2016 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2016, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

•    54 cents per mile for business miles driven, down from 57.5 cents for 2015

•    19 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down from 23 cents for 2015

•    14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

The business mileage rate decreased 3.5 cents per mile and the medical, and moving expense rates decrease 4 cents per mile from the 2015 rates. The charitable rate is based on statute.
The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs.
Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.
A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously.

These and other requirements for a taxpayer to use a standard mileage rate to calculate the amount of a deductible business, moving, medical or charitable expense are in Rev. Proc. 2010-51.  Notice 2016-01 contains the standard mileage rates, the amount a taxpayer must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate, and the maximum standard automobile cost that a taxpayer may use in computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan.


Tips from IRS for Year-End Gifts to Charity

November 25, 2015

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded individuals and businesses making year-end gifts to charity that several important tax law provisions have taken effect in recent years.
Some of the changes taxpayers should keep in mind include:
Rules for Charitable Contributions of Clothing and Household Items
Household items include furniture, furnishings, electronics, appliances and linens. Clothing and household items donated to charity generally must be in good used condition or better to be tax-deductible. A clothing or household item for which a taxpayer claims a deduction of over $500 does not have to meet this standard if the taxpayer includes a qualified appraisal of the item with the return.
Donors must get a written acknowledgement from the charity for all gifts worth $250 or more. It must include, among other things, a description of the items contributed.
Guidelines for Monetary Donations
A taxpayer must have a bank record or a written statement from the charity in order to deduct any donation of money, regardless of amount. The record must show the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Bank records include canceled checks, and bank, credit union and credit card statements. Bank or credit union statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the amount paid. Credit card statements should show the name of the charity, the date, and the transaction posting date.
Donations of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card and payroll deduction. For payroll deductions, the taxpayer should retain a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other document furnished by the employer showing the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity.
These requirements for the deduction of monetary donations do not change the long-standing requirement that a taxpayer obtain an acknowledgment from a charity for each deductible donation (either money or property) of $250 or more. However, one statement containing all of the required information may meet both requirements.
Reminders
The IRS offers the following additional reminders to help taxpayers plan their holiday and year-end gifts to charity:
• Qualified charities. Check that the charity is eligible. Only donations to eligible organizations are tax-deductible. Select Check, a searchable online tool available on IRS.gov, lists most organizations that are eligible to receive deductible contributions. In addition, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies are eligible to receive deductible donations. That is true even if they are not listed in the tool’s database.
• Year-end gifts. Contributions are deductible in the year made. Thus, donations charged to a credit card before the end of 2015 count for 2015, even if the credit card bill isn’t paid until 2016. Also, checks count for 2015 as long as they are mailed in 2015.
• Itemize deductions. For individuals, only taxpayers who itemize their deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A can claim deductions for charitable contributions. This deduction is not available to individuals who choose the standard deduction. This includes anyone who files a short form (Form 1040A or 1040EZ). A taxpayer will have a tax savings only if the total itemized deductions (mortgage interest, charitable contributions, state and local taxes, etc.) exceed the standard deduction. Use the 2015 Form 1040 Schedule A to determine whether itemizing is better than claiming the standard deduction.
• Record donations. For all donations of property, including clothing and household items, get from the charity, if possible, a receipt that includes the name of the charity, date of the contribution, and a reasonably-detailed description of the donated property. If a donation is left at a charity’s unattended drop site, keep a written record of the donation that includes this information, as well as the fair market value of the property at the time of the donation and the method used to determine that value. Additional rules apply for a contribution of $250 or more.
• Special Rules. The deduction for a car, boat or airplane donated to charity is usually limited to the gross proceeds from its sale. This rule applies if the claimed value is more than $500. Form 1098-C or a similar statement, must be provided to the donor by the organization and attached to the donor’s tax return.
If the amount of a taxpayer’s deduction for all noncash contributions is over $500, a properly-completed Form 8283 must be submitted with the tax return.


Education Tax Credits: Two Benefits to Help You Pay for College

March 6, 2015

Did you pay for college in 2014? If you did it can mean tax savings on your federal tax return. There are two education credits that can help you with the cost of higher education. The credits may reduce the amount of tax you owe on your tax return. Here are some important facts you should know about education tax credits.

American Opportunity Tax Credit:
•    You may be able to claim up to $2,500 per eligible student.
•    The credit applies to the first four years at an eligible college or vocational school.
•    It reduces the amount of tax you owe. If the credit reduces your tax to less than zero, you may receive up to $1,000 as a refund.
•    It is available for students earning a degree or other recognized credential.
•    The credit applies to students going to school at least half-time for at least one academic period that started during the tax year
•    Costs that apply to the credit include the cost of tuition, books and required fees and supplies.
•    Lifetime Learning Credit:
•    The credit is limited to $2,000 per tax return, per year.
•    The credit applies to all years of higher education. This includes classes for learning or improving job skills.
•    The credit is limited to the amount of your taxes.
•    Costs that apply to the credit include the cost of tuition, required fees, books, supplies and equipment that you must buy from the school.

For both credits:

•    The credits apply to an eligible student. Eligible students include yourself, your spouse or a dependent that you list on your tax return.
•    You must file Form 1040A or Form 1040 and complete Form 8863, Education Credits, to claim these credits on your tax return.
•    Your school should give you a Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, showing expenses for the year. This form contains helpful information needed to complete Form 8863. The amounts shown in Boxes 1 and 2 of the form may be different than what you actually paid. For example, the form may not include the cost of books that qualify for the credit.
•    You can’t claim either credit if someone else claims you as a dependent.
•    You can’t claim both credits for the same student or for the same expense, in the same year.
•    The credits are subject to income limits that could reduce the amount you can claim on your return.
•    Visit IRS.gov and use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool to see if you’re eligible to claim these credits. Also visit the IRS Education Credits Web page to learn more. If you can’t claim a tax credit, check the other tax benefits you might be able to claim.


Premium Tax Credit Brings Changes to Your 2014 Income Tax Returns

January 22, 2015

When filing your 2014 federal income tax return, you will see some changes related to the Affordable Care Act. Millions of people who purchased their coverage through a health insurance Marketplace are eligible for premium assistance through the new premium tax credit, which individuals chose to either have paid upfront to their insurers to lower their monthly premiums, or receive when they file their taxes. When you bought your insurance, if you chose to have advance payments of the premium tax credit, the Marketplace estimated the amount based on information you provided about your expected household income and family size for the year.

If you received the benefit of advance credit payments, you must file a federal tax return and reconcile the advance credit payments with the actual premium tax credit you are eligible to claim on your return. You will use IRS Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit (PTC) to make this comparison and to claim the credit. If your advance credit payments are in excess of the amount of the premium tax credit you are eligible for, based on your actual income, you must repay some or all of the excess when you file your return, subject to certain caps.

If you purchased your coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you should receive Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement from your Marketplace. You should receive this form by early February.
Form 1095-A will provide the information you need to file your taxes, including the name of your insurance company, dates of coverage, amount of monthly insurance premiums for the plan you and other members of your family enrolled in, amount of any advance payments of the premium tax credit for the year, and other information needed need to compute the premium tax credit.

IRS Issue Number HCTT-2015-03


2015 TAX FILING SEASON IS UNDERWAY

January 21, 2015

The IRS has begun accepting tax returns!  Please contact our office or visit our website for a list of documents you will need to bring to us for completion of your tax return.


Five Easy Ways to Spot a Scam Phone Call IRS Special Edition Tax Tip 2014-18

September 2, 2014

The IRS continues to warn the public to be alert for telephone scams and offers five tell-tale warning signs to tip you off if you get such a call. These callers claim to be with the IRS. The scammers often demand money to pay taxes. Some may try to con you by saying that you’re due a refund. The refund is a fake lure so you’ll give them your banking or other private financial information.

These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They may even know a lot about you. They may alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request.

The IRS respects taxpayer rights when working out payment of your taxes. So, it’s pretty easy to tell when a supposed IRS caller is a fake. Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a sign of a scam. The IRS will never:

1. Call you about taxes you owe without first mailing you an official notice.
2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the chance to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
3. Require you to use a certain payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.

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

•    If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to talk about payment options. You also may be able to set up a payment plan online at IRS.gov.
•    If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to TIGTA at 1.800.366.4484 or at http://www.tigta.gov.
•    If phone scammers target you, also contact the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. Use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” to report the scam. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.
Remember, the IRS currently does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issues. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to http://www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.


Four Tax Facts about the Health Care Law for Individuals (IRS Issue Number HC-TT-2014-06

March 11, 2014

There are a few basic tips to keep in mind about the new health care law. Health insurance choices you make now may affect the income tax return you file in 2015.

1. Most people already have qualified health insurance coverage and will not need to do anything more than maintain qualified coverage throughout 2014.

2. If you do not have health insurance through your job or a government plan, you may be able to buy it through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

3. If you buy your insurance through the Marketplace, you may be eligible for an advance premium tax credit to lower your out-of-pocket monthly premiums.

4. Your 2014 tax return will ask if you had insurance coverage or qualified for an exemption.  If not, you may owe a shared responsibility payment when you file in 2015.

What should you do now?
If you or your family does not have health insurance, find out more now. Talk to your employer about the coverage they offer, or visit the Marketplace online.
Find out more about the health care law and the Marketplace at http://www.HealthCare.gov.
Find out more about the premium tax credit and the shared responsibility payment at http://www.IRS.gov/aca.


Ten Facts about Capital Gains and Losses

March 6, 2014

When you sell a ’capital asset,’ the sale usually results in a capital gain or loss. A ‘capital asset’ includes most property you own and use for personal or investment purposes. Here are 10 facts from the IRS on capital gains and losses:

1. Capital assets include property such as your home or car. They also include investment property such as stocks and bonds.

2. A capital gain or loss is the difference between your basis and the amount you get when you sell an asset. Your basis is usually what you paid for the asset.

3. You must include all capital gains in your income. Beginning in 2013, you may be subject to the Net Investment Income Tax. The NIIT applies at a rate of 3.8% to certain net investment income of individuals, estates, and trusts that have income above statutory threshold amounts. For details see IRS.gov/aca.

4. You can deduct capital losses on the sale of investment property. You can’t deduct losses on the sale of personal-use property.

5. Capital gains and losses are either long-term or short-term, depending on how long you held the property. If you held the property for more than one year, your gain or loss is long-term. If you held it one year or less, the gain or loss is short-term.

6. If your long-term gains are more than your long-term losses, the difference between the two is a net long-term capital gain. If your net long-term capital gain is more than your net short-term capital loss, you have a ‘net capital gain.’

7. The tax rates that apply to net capital gains will usually depend on your income. For lower-income individuals, the rate may be zero percent on some or all of their net capital gains. In 2013, the maximum net capital gain tax rate increased from 15 to 20 percent. A 25 or 28 percent tax rate can also apply to special types of net capital gains.  

8. If your capital losses are more than your capital gains, you can deduct the difference as a loss on your tax return. This loss is limited to $3,000 per year, or $1,500 if you are married and file a separate return.

9. If your total net capital loss is more than the limit you can deduct, you can carry over the losses you are not able to deduct to next year’s tax return. You will treat those losses as if they happened that year.

10. You must file Form 8949, Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets, with your federal tax return to report your gains and losses. You also need to file Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses with your return.

For more information about this topic, see the Schedule D instructions and Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses. They’re both available on IRS.gov or contacting our office.