The following excerpt is from US News – Money. Remember all the hoopla about the tax deductions that were set to expire on December 31, 2014? We’re probably going to go through the same thing at the end of 2015. Here are seven freshly extended tax breaks that will save individual taxpayers money, and to read the entire article, US News Money . Continue reading
Use This Interactive Map on State-by-State Guide to Taxes on Retirees
Is *retirement* in your life plan? Want to know where is the best place to live in retirement? Visit Kiplinger and click on any state in the map for a detailed summary of taxes on retirement income property and purchases, as well as special tax breaks for seniors.
Mileage Deduction Rates
Studies funded by the IRS demonstrate it continues to be more expensive to drive a car. The standard mileage deductions (or reimbursement rates) appear in the following table:
Mileage Deduction Rates 2014
|Category||Rate (January to December)|
|Business Miles||56.0 cents per mile|
|Charitable Services||14.0 cents per mile|
|Medical Travel||23.5 cents per mile|
US NEWS & WORLD REPORT:
You only have a few weeks left to make a 401(k) contribution that will get you a tax deduction on your 2014 return. The deadline is also rapidly approaching for retirees to take required minimum distributions from their retirement accounts. Here’s a look at the retirement planning moves you need to make before the end of the year.
Make last-minute 401(k) contributions. Workers age 49 and younger can contribute up to $17,500 to their 401(k) plan in 2014. Income tax won’t be due on the amount deposited in a traditional 401(k) account until the money is withdrawn. An employee in the 25 percent tax bracket who is able to max out his 401(k) would save $4,375 on his federal income tax bill, compared with $1,250 in tax savings for someone who deposits $5,000 in a 401(k).
Contributions are typically due by Dec. 31, but it’s a good idea to avoid waiting until the last minute. “You can’t call on Dec. 29 and say you want to put in an extra five grand,” says Joyce Streithorst, a certified financial planner for Frisch Financial Group in Melville, New York. “They need to have a little lead time of at least one paycheck and sometimes two.” In some cases, you can also allocate part or all of a year-end bonus to your 401(k) account and avoid the extra tax bill on it. Workers age 50 and older can contribute an extra $5,500 to a 401(k) account as a catch-up contribution in 2014, or a total of $23,000.
Extra time for IRA contributions. While 401(k) contributions typically need to be made by the end of the calendar year, you have until April 15, 2015, to make IRA contributions that count toward tax year 2014. “For a lot of my clients, we wait until 2015 because we want to see what their tax return looks like,” says Robert Reed, a certified financial planner for Partnership Financial in Columbus, Ohio. “We can see if it will make more sense for us to do a traditional IRA and get the tax break this year or do a Roth IRA and pay the tax this year and then not pay tax again ever.” You can type a hypothetical IRA or Roth IRA contribution into tax preparation software to see how much you could save on your tax bill. However, if you wait until 2015 to contribute to an IRA for tax year 2014, make sure you specify which tax year the contribution should be applied to. Financial institutions may automatically apply contributions to the calendar year when they are received unless you indicate otherwise.
Take your required minimum distributions. Distributions from traditional 401(k)s and IRAs are required after age 70½, and income tax will be due on each withdrawal. The penalty for missing a distribution is a 50 percent tax on the amount that should have been withdrawn. You have until April 1 of the year after you turn 70½ to take your first required minimum distributions, but subsequent distributions are due by Dec. 31 each year. And if you delay your first distribution until April, you will then need to take two distributions in the same year, which could result in an unusually high tax bill. “If you have to take two distributions in that year, you may want to be careful because it could push you up into a higher tax bracket,” Reed says. “You’re just looking at a difference of a few months, so for the vast majority of people, when you get to be 70½, just take it.”
Get the saver’s credit. Workers who earn up to $30,000 for individuals, $45,000 for heads of household or $60,000 for married couples in 2014 and save in a 401(k) or IRA are eligible for an additional tax perk, the saver’s credit. This valuable tax credit available to moderate-income households can be worth as much as $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for couples, with the biggest credits going to people with the lowest incomes who manage to save for retirement.
Reset your contributions for 2015. In tax year 2015, the 401(k) contribution limit will increase by $500 to $18,000, and the catch-up contribution limit will also grow by $500 to $6,000. So if you can, consider setting your 401(k) direct deposits a little higher next year to get the biggest retirement savings tax break you can. “Make sure you take full advantage of your 401(k), especially if there is an employer match,” says Gwen Gepfert, a certified financial planner and principal of Oaktree Financial Planning in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. You can even use part of your 2014 tax refund to get a jump-start on saving for next year.
To read this article in its original form go to USNews&WorldReport/Retirement
Did you hear about *The Individual Shared Responsibility*?
Beginning in 2014, the individual shared responsibility provision of the Affordable Care Act requires each individual to:
- Maintain a minimum level of health care coverage – known as minimum essential coverage, or
- Qualify for an exemption, or
- Make an individual shared responsibility payment when filing their federal income tax returns.
Minimum essential coverage generally includes government-sponsored programs, employer-provided health coverage, and coverage purchased in the individual market, including the Health Insurance Marketplace. Most people already have health insurance coverage that qualifies as minimum essential coverage, and therefore will not need to make a payment if they maintain their qualified coverage. However, for each month that you or a member of your family is without minimum essential coverage and does not qualify for an exemption, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment.
If you and your dependents had minimum essential coverage for each month of 2014, you will check a box indicating that when you file your 2014 federal income tax return. If you qualify for an exemption, you will attach a form to your tax return to claim that exemption. If you are required to make the individual shared responsibility payment, you will calculate your payment and make the payment with your return.
If you choose to make an individual shared responsibility payment instead of maintaining minimum essential coverage, this means you will not have health insurance coverage to help pay for medical expenses.
In general, the individual shared responsibility payment for 2014 is the greater of:
- One percent of your household income above the income filing threshold for your tax filing status, or
- A flat dollar amount of $95 per adult and $47.50 per child (under age 18) in your family, but no more than $285 per family.
The individual shared responsibility payment is also capped at the cost of the national average premium for bronze level health plans available through the Marketplace that would cover everyone in your family who does not have minimum essential coverage and does not qualify for an exemption – for example, $12,240 for a family of five. However this maximum fee will only impact the small number of high-income taxpayers who choose to go without health insurance. The payment amount is based on each individual’s personal circumstances, and information about figuring the payment can be found on our ‘Calculating the Payment’ page on IRS.gov/aca.
Example of Payment Calculation
Eduardo and Julia are married and have two children under age 18. No family member has minimum essential coverage for any month during 2014, and no family member qualifies for an exemption. For 2014, their household income is $70,000 and their tax return filing threshold amount is $20,300.
- Using the household income formula: Subtract the tax return filing threshold amount for 2014 from the 2014 household income, then multiply the answer by one percent (0.01).
$70,000 – $20,300 = $49,700
One percent of $49,700 equals $497.00.
- Using the flat dollar amount formula: Add $95 per adult for Eduardo and Julia to $47.50 per child – for their two children.
$95.00 + $95.00 + $47.50 + $47.50 = $285.00
Eduardo and Julia’s shared responsibility payment for the year for 2014 is $497. That’s because the household income formula amount of $497 is greater than flat dollar formula amount of $285, and it is less than the $9,792 annual national average premium for bronze level coverage for a family of four in 2014. More examples can be found on IRS.gov/aca.
Find out more about the tax-related provisions of the health care law at IRS.gov/aca.
Find out more about the health care law at HealthCare.gov.
Source: IRS- HCTT-2014-18
Entity creation has a cost!
If you are thinking of forming an LLC or corporation PLEASE call me before you do anything. Over 90% of the entities we see are dissolved within the first 4 years of existence. When creating an entity you will incur ongoing addition business expenses that may not be necessary. You can reach me at 619-589-8680.
Under The Magnifying Glass
The IRS is taking a closer look at 1040’s, specifically Line 21 – OTHER INCOME. They are scrutinizing CoD’s aka “Cancellation of Debt”. I’ll have more information for you by November. In the meantime, If you think this affects you, give me a call at 619-589-8680.
Special per diem rates for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses.
Notice 2014-57 announces the special per diem rates effective October 1, 2014, which taxpayers may use to substantiate the amount of expenses for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses when traveling away from home. The rates are the special transportation industry rate, the rate for the incidental expenses only deduction, and the rates and list of high-cost localities for purposes of the high-low substantiation method. Use of a per diem substantiation method is not mandatory. A taxpayer may substantiate actual allowable expenses if the taxpayer maintains adequate records or other sufficient evidence for proper substantiation.
Notice 2014-57 will be published in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2014-41 on Oct. 6, 2014.
Source: IRS Guidewire Issue Number: N-2014-57
Take Advantage of Credits and Deductions
Are you, your spouse or a dependent off to college? If so, here’s a quick tip from the IRS: some of the costs you pay for higher education can save you money at tax time. Here are several important facts you should know about education tax credits:
- American Opportunity Tax Credit. The AOTC can be up to $2,500 annually for an eligible student. This credit applies for the first four years of higher education. Forty percent of the AOTC is refundable. That means that you may be able to get up to $1,000 of the credit as a refund, even if you don’t owe any taxes.
- Lifetime Learning Credit. With the LLC, you may be able to claim a tax credit of up to $2,000 on your federal tax return. There is no limit on the number of years you can claim this credit for an eligible student.
- One credit per student. You can claim only one type of education credit per student on your federal tax return each year. If more than one student qualifies for a credit in the same year, you can claim a different credit for each student. For example, you can claim the AOTC for one student and claim the LLC for the other student.
- Qualified expenses. You may include qualified expenses to figure your credit. This may include amounts you pay for tuition, fees and other related expenses for an eligible student. Refer to IRS.gov for more about the additional rules that apply to each credit.
- Eligible educational institutions. Eligible schools are those that offer education beyond high school. This includes most colleges and universities. Vocational schools or other postsecondary schools may also qualify.
- Form 1098-T. In most cases, you should receive Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, from your school. This form reports your qualified expenses to the IRS and to you. You may notice that the amount shown on the form is different than the amount you actually paid. That’s because some of your related costs may not appear on Form 1098-T. For example, the cost of your textbooks may not appear on the form, but you still may be able to claim your textbook costs as part of the credit. Remember, you can only claim an education credit for the qualified expenses that you paid in that same tax year.
- Nonresident alien. If you are in the U.S. on an F-1 student visa, you usually file your federal tax return as a nonresident alien. You can’t claim an education credit if you were a nonresident alien for any part of the tax year unless you elect to be treated as a resident alien for federal tax purposes. To learn more about these rules see Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.
- Income limits. These credits are subject to income limitations and may be reduced or eliminated, based on your income.
NEED HELP? CALL (619) 589-8680 TODAY!
Check Out College Tax Credits for 2014 and Years Ahead
WASHINGTON ― With another school year now in full swing, the Internal Revenue Service reminded parents and students that now is a good time to see if they will qualify for either of two college tax credits or any of several other education-related tax benefits when they file their 2014 federal income tax returns. Continue reading
Getting Married Can Affect Your Premium Tax Credit
The IRS reminds newlyweds to add a health insurance review to their to-do list. This is particularly important if you receive premium assistance through advance payments of the premium tax credit through a Health Insurance Marketplace.
If you, your spouse or a dependent gets health insurance coverage through the Marketplace, you need to let the Marketplace know you got married. Informing the Marketplace about changes in circumstances, such as marriage or divorce, allows the Marketplace to help make sure you have the right coverage for you and your family and adjust the amount of advance credit payments that the government sends to your health insurer. Continue reading
BREAKER, BREAKER : Issue Number: IR-2014-82
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded truckers and other owners of heavy highway vehicles that in most cases, their next federal highway use tax return is due on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014.
This year’s Sept. 2 due date, pushed back two days because the normal Aug. 31 deadline falls on a Sunday, generally applies to Form 2290 and the accompanying tax payment for the tax year that begins on July 1, 2014, and ends on June 30, 2015. Returns must be filed and tax payments made by Sept. 2 for vehicles used on the road during July. For vehicles first used after July, the deadline is the last day of the month following the month of first use.
Though some taxpayers have the option of filing Form 2290 on paper, the IRS encourages all taxpayers to take advantage of the speed and convenience of filing this form electronically and paying any tax due electronically. Taxpayers reporting 25 or more vehicles must e-file. A list of IRS-approved software providers can be found on IRS.gov.
Paper returns must be mailed and postmarked by midnight on Sept. 2. As usual, IRS offices will be closed on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 1.
The highway use tax applies to highway motor vehicles with a taxable gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more. This generally includes trucks, truck tractors and buses. Ordinarily, vans, pick-ups and panel trucks are not taxable because they fall below the 55,000-pound threshold. The tax of up to $550 per vehicle is based on weight, and a variety of special rules apply, explained in the instructions to Form 2290.
More information can be found in the Trucking Tax Center at IRS.gov/truckers.
Taxpayer Bill of Rights
10 Provisions to be Highlighted on IRS.gov, in Publication 1 IR-2014-72, June 10, 2014 WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service today announced the adoption of a “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” that will become a cornerstone document to provide the nation’s taxpayers with a better understanding of their rights.
A 2012 taxpayer survey conducted by the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) showed that less than half of U.S. taxpayers believed they had rights – and only 11% said they knew what the rights were.
The Taxpayer Bill of Rights takes the multiple existing rights embedded in the tax code and groups them into 10 broad categories, making them more visible and easier for taxpayers to find on IRS.gov.
Publication 1, “Your Rights as a Taxpayer,” has been updated with the 10 rights and will be sent to millions of taxpayers this year when they receive IRS notices on issues ranging from audits to collection. The rights will also be publicly visible in all IRS facilities for taxpayers and employees to see.
“The Taxpayer Bill of Rights contains fundamental information to help taxpayers,” said IRS Commissioner John A. Koskinen. “These are core concepts about which taxpayers should be aware. Respecting taxpayer rights continues to be a top priority for IRS employees, and the new Taxpayer Bill of Rights summarizes these important protections in a clearer, more understandable format than ever before.”
The IRS released the Taxpayer Bill of Rights following extensive discussions with the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent office inside the IRS that represents the interests of U.S. taxpayers. Since 2007, adopting a Taxpayer Bill of Rights has been a goal of National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson, and it was listed as the Advocate’s top priority in her most recent Annual Report to Congress.
“Congress has passed multiple pieces of legislation with the title of ‘Taxpayer Bill of Rights,'” Olson said. “However, taxpayer surveys conducted by my office have found that most taxpayers do not believe they have rights before the IRS and even fewer can name their rights. I believe the list of core taxpayer rights the IRS is announcing today will help taxpayers better understand their rights in dealing with the tax system.”
The tax code includes numerous taxpayer rights, but they are scattered throughout the code, making it difficult for people to track and understand. Similar to the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights contains 10 provisions. They are:
- The Right to Be Informed
- The Right to Quality Service
- The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax
- The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard
- The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum
- The Right to Finality
- The Right to Privacy
- The Right to Confidentiality
- The Right to Retain Representation
- The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System
The rights have been incorporated into a redesigned version of Publication 1, a document that is routinely included in IRS correspondence with taxpayers. Millions of these mailings go out each year. The new version has been added to IRS.gov, and print copies will start being included in IRS correspondence in the near future.
The timing of the updated Publication 1 with the Taxpayer Bill of Rights is critical because the IRS is in the peak of its correspondence mailing season as taxpayers start to receive follow-up correspondence from the 2014 filing season. The publication initially will be available in English and Spanish, and updated versions will soon be available in Chinese, Korean, Russian and Vietnamese.
The IRS has also created a special section of IRS.gov to highlight the 10 rights. The web site will continue to be updated with information as it becomes available, and taxpayers will be able to easily find the Bill of Rights from the front page. The IRS internal web site for employees is adding a special section so people inside the IRS have easy access as well.
As part of this effort, the IRS will add posters and signs in coming months to its public offices so taxpayers visiting the IRS can easily see and read the information.
“This information is critically important for taxpayers to read and understand,” Koskinen said. “We encourage people to take a moment to read the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, especially when they are interacting with the IRS. While these rights have always been there for taxpayers, we think the time is right to highlight and showcase these rights for people to plainly see.”
“I also want to emphasize that the concept of taxpayer rights is not a new one for IRS employees; they embrace it in their work every day,” Koskinen added. “But our establishment of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights is also a clear reminder that all of the IRS takes seriously our responsibility to treat taxpayers fairly.
Koskinen added, “The Taxpayer Bill of Rights will serve as an important education tool, and we plan to highlight it in many different forums and venues.”
AN EDUCATED TAXPAYER IS OUR BEST CUSTOMER.
We help our clients understand the ever-changing federal and state tax laws so they can maximize their tax deductions, and adopt best recordkeeping practices.
Many of our clients have come to us after having a bad tax preparation experience that resulted in penalties and interest. When we come across a reference document that we feel is valuable for the taxpayer – we promote it.
We have linked to the 18-page Penalties and Interest Reference Table published by the Franchise Tax Board of California.
- If I pay my taxes late, what interest and penalties will I be charged?
- What are past and current interest and estimate penalty rates?
- I have an extension of time to file my return. Why did I get a penalty?
- I filed my return on time. Why did I get a penalty?
Penalty reference chart (pdf)
IR-2014-54, April 17, 2014
WASHINGTON — With the close of the tax filing season, the vast majority have filed their income tax returns and received their income tax refunds. As of last Friday, the IRS had received almost 113 million tax returns and issued more than 85 million refunds, about 78 percent of all the refunds the agency will issue this year.
However, taxpayers who have not yet received their refunds can use the “Where’s My Refund?” on IRS.gov or on the smartphone application IRS2Go 4.0 to find out about the status of their income tax refunds. As of April 11, 2014, Where’s My Refund? has been accessed almost 160 million times.
The Where’s My Refund?tool enables taxpayers to track the status of their refund. Initial information will normally be available within 24 hours after the IRS receives the taxpayer’s e-filed return or four weeks after the taxpayer mails a paper return to the IRS. The system updates only once every 24 hours, usually overnight, so there’s no need to check more often.
Taxpayers should have their Social Security number, filing status and exact refund amount when accessing Where’s My Refund?
Taxpayers can find more information about refunds and other tax topics at IRS.gov.
|2014 FILING SEASON STATISTICS|
|Cumulative statistics comparing 4/12/13 and 4/11/14|
|Individual Income Tax Returns:||2013||2014||% Change|
|Visits to IRS.gov||278,307,884||251,540,768||-9.6|
|Direct Deposit Refunds:|
BUSINESSES NEED TO REVIEW HEALTH PLAN OPTIONS
Businesses need to do a review of their health plan options and strategy. Businesses with 100+ “full time employees” need to act this year; your mandate starts in 2015. Smaller businesses (50-99) have a little more time. Your mandate begins in 2016. See all of our posts on the effects of the Affordable Care Act.
IRS Encourages Small Employers to Check Out Small Business Health Care Tax Credit; Helpful Resources, Tax Tips Available on IRS.gov
IR-2014-27, March 10, 2014 — With business tax-filing deadlines fast approaching, the IRS encouraged small employers that provide health insurance coverage to their employees to check out the small business health care tax credit and claim it if they qualify.
How the Tax Reform Act of 2014 Will Affect Your Small Business
You may be holding your breath and wondering how tax reform will affect your small business.
The bill includes a renewal of Section 179 expensing. This tax advantage has typically been renewed every year with higher and higher thresholds, but on Jan. 1, the law reverted back to its original provision, which only allows $25,000 in the expensing of any new assets.
Purchases in excess of this amount must be depreciated over their useful lives. From 2010 to 2013, businesses were allowed a $500,000 threshold for Section 179 expensing. Proposed in the Tax Reform Act of 2014 will be a ceiling of $250,000 – levels enjoyed during 2008 and 2009.
The proposal does not allow for the renewal of bonus depreciation which also expired at the end of 2013. This allowed businesses to deduct 50% of the cost of all assets, above and beyond the Section 179 expensing.
In a statement, National Taxpayers Union Executive Vice President Pete Sepp said that the proposed reform aims to harmonize the top tax rate for S and C Corporations with qualified domestic income to 25%. He contends that because S Corporations are pass-through entities – the individual pays the tax on profit rather than the corporation – there will be an exclusion allowed to create an equivalent 25% tax. Qualified domestic income relates specifically to the manufacturing sector.
This change should encourage production and new jobs within our borders. “The proposal rightly aims to bring a measure of tax parity between ‘pass-through’ small business entities and traditional corporations, but how it hits that target must be thoroughly examined to ensure that job creators aren’t punished in the process,” Sepp said in a statement.
He also reiterated swift action on Capitol Hill will also be necessary. “Some tax-saving provisions for businesses will be gone several years before the final, beneficial 25% tax rate kicks in. Washington must avoid the appearance of clawing back many provisions in the short-term while pushing rate relief into the long-term.”
One tax element that hits many small business owners is the Alternative Minimum Tax which can be triggered when using net operating losses against current year income and when taking depreciation and Section 179 expensing.
On the other hand, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Vice President of Federal Public Policy Brad Close made the following statement in response to Camp’s proposed reform:
“NFIB has long advocated tax reform that achieves lower rates and a simpler code,” said Close. “While we appreciate Chairman Camp pursuing tax reform that lowers some rates, we are very concerned that this plan does not address the core issues that are important to all small businesses: simplifying the code, leveling the playing field for all businesses, and addressing both corporate and individual tax rates. We look forward to working with members of the Ways & Means Committee and Chairman Camp to achieve comprehensive tax reform that does not pick winners and losers based on size and type of business.”
The tax reform is nowhere near being carved in stone; after all, this is only the discussion draft, so we shall see.
United States Of Taxation 2014: Here Are The Best And Worst States For Consumption Taxes, Total Tax Burden
Nothing is certain except death and taxes, but taxes can be far more complicated than death. The following article by Angelo Young of IBT makes it pretty clear for you.
As the April 15 tax filing deadline approaches, two groups have released data sets that can offer insight into which states are the most forgiving (or punishing) when it comes to consumption taxes and overall local tax burdens. Continue reading
IRS cost‑of‑living adjustments affect dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2014.
Some pension limitations such as those governing 401(k) plans and IRAs will remain unchanged because the increase in the Consumer Price Index did not meet the statutory thresholds for their adjustment. However, other pension plan limitations will increase for 2014. Highlights include the following: Continue reading