Category Archives: Deductions

Tax Tibits: Do I have to issue my landscaper and housekeeper a 1099?

1099 and the lawYou are required to issue a 1099 to anyone you pay $600 or more in the course of your trade or business who is not incorporated.

Typical payments requiring a 1099 include services performed by independent contractors, such as gardeners and housekeepers for your business, as well as rents your business pays.

Received a Payment and Other Reporting Situations

Per the IRS, if, as part of your trade or business, you received any of the following types of payments, you will have to file a specific form.

  • Payment of mortgage interest (including points) or reimbursements of overpaid interest from individuals (1098)
  • Sale or exchange of real estate (1099-S)
  • You are a broker and you sold a covered security belonging to your customer (1099-B)
  • You are an issuer of a security taking a specified corporate action that affects the cost basis of the securities held by others (Form 8937)
  • You released someone from paying a debt secured by property or someone abandoned property that was subject to the debt (1099-A) or otherwise forgave their debt to you (1099-C)
  • You made direct sales of at least $5,000 of consumer products to a buyer for resale anywhere other than a permanent retail establishment (1099-MISC)

Not Required to File Information Returns

You are not required to file information return(s) if any of the following situations apply:

  • You are not engaged in a trade or business.
  • You are engaged in a trade or business and
    • the payment was made to another business that is incorporated, or
    • the sum of all payments made to the person or unincorporated business is less than $600 in one tax year (unless the recipient is an attorney or law form, see specific instructions for 1099-MISC for further details).

If you need to issue a 1099, and haven’t, we can prepare the 1099 forms if you would like.  Just contact us. We can be reached at 619-589-8680.


We do more than just tax preparation at US-TaxLaws.com. We are your best source for professional tax preparation and/or financial consulting services. We give clients a total solution that can include:

Personal Tax Preparation   Business Tax Preparation   Partnership Tax Preparation
Corporate Tax Preparation  Incorporation-Choice of Entity   Business Support Services
Corporate Compliance   Audit Representation  Retirement Tax Planning   Wills & TrustsEstate Planning   Bookkeeping   Payroll

 

What Are The Top Six Home Office Deductions?

IRS Talks About Home Office Deductions

If you are one of our clients, you know how we handle your home office deductions.  But for those who aren’t our clients – yet – here are some tips from the IRS that you might find useful.

Issue Number:IRS Tax Tip 2015-42

If you use your home for business, you may be able to deduct expenses for the business use of your home. If you qualify you can claim the deduction whether you rent or own your home. If you qualify for the deduction you may use either the simplified method or the regular method to claim your deduction. Here are six tips that you should know about the home office deduction.

1.Regular and Exclusive Use. As a general rule, you must use a part of your home regularly and exclusively for business purposes. The part of your home used for business must also be:

  • Your principal place of business, or
  • A place where you meet clients or customers in the normal course of business, or
  • A separate structure not attached to your home. Examples could include a garage or a studio.

2.Simplified Option. If you use the simplified option, you multiply the allowable square footage of your office by a rate of $5. The maximum footage allowed is 300 square feet. This option will save you time because it simplifies how you figure and claim the deduction. It will also make it easier for you to keep records. This option does not change the criteria for who may claim a home office deduction.

3.Regular Method. If you use the regular method, the home office deduction includes certain costs that you paid for your home. For example, if you rent your home, part of the rent you paid may qualify. If you own your home, part of the mortgage interest, taxes and utilities you paid may qualify. The amount you can deduct usually depends on the percentage of your home used for business.

4.Deduction Limit. If your gross income from the business use of your home is less than your expenses, the deduction for some expenses may be limited.

5.Self-Employed. If you are self-employed and choose the regular method, use Form 8829, Expenses for Business Use of Your Home, to figure the amount you can deduct. You can claim your deduction using either method on Schedule C, Profit or Loss From Business. See the Schedule C instructions for how to report your deduction.

6.Employees. If you are an employee, you must meet additional rules to claim the deduction. For example, your business use must also be for the convenience of your employer. If you qualify, you claim the deduction on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions.

For more on this topic, see Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home. You can view, download and print IRS tax forms and publications on IRS.gov/forms anytime.

If you found this Tax Tip helpful, please share it through your social media platforms. A great way to get tax information is to use IRS Social Media. You can also subscribe to IRS Tax Tips or any of our e-news subscriptions.

Additional IRS Resources:


US-TaxLaws is your best source for professional tax preparation and/or financial consulting services.  We make your tax dollars work for you. Find out how we can help you.  Give us a call at 619-589-8680. 

Mileage Rates Deductions for Business, Charity Services and Medical Travel

OdometerMileage 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

 

Source: http://www.money-zine.com/financial-planning/tax-shelter/income-tax-changes-2

Reminders For This Tax Season

Fried-ClockHave you set up your appointment to have taxes done?

The following are large items that are already set in law that you can count on (literally and figuratively) for this tax season. Don’t forget about income limitations and phase outs.

Child Credits.

For each qualifying child under age 17 knocks up to $1,000 from your tax bill.

College Education.

Two big credits are available.  The American Opportunity Credit can reduce your tax bill by up to $2,500 per eligible student or up to $2,000 through the Lifetime Learning Credit.

0% Capital Gains Rate.

This capital gains rate is available to all taxpayers in the 10% and 15% tax brackets.  Married taxpayers qualify for the 0% rate if their taxable income is $73,800 or less, for single taxpayers $36,900 or less, and head of household is $49,400.  To see the 2015 Tax Brackets.

Tax Free Gains on Home Sales.

Married couples can exclude up to $500,000 from their gain from their income from the sale of their home, for single taxpayers the maximum exclusion is $250,000.  Ownership and occupancy rules apply.

Energy Saving Credits.

You can claim a credit for up to 30% of the cost of buying and installing solar panels, solar water heaters, geothermal heat pumps and small wind energy systems.

New Standard Mileage Rates Now Available; Just Announced

OdometerNew Standard Mileage Rates Just Announced by IRS ; Business Rate to Rise in 2015

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2015 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, 2015, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck will be:

 

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

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

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

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

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

Notice 2014-79 provides the optional standard mileage rates for substantiating the amount of deductible expenses for using an automobile for business, moving, medical, or charitable purposes.  For 2015, the standard mileage rates are 57.5 cents for business use of an automobile, 14 cents for use of an automobile as a charitable contribution, and 23 cents for use of an automobile as a medical or moving expense.

Notice 2014-79 also provides 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.

The rules for using the optional standard mileage rates to calculate the amount of a deductible business, moving, medical, or charitable expense are in Rev. Proc. 2010-51.

Notice 2014-79 will be in IRB IRB 2014-53, dated December 29, 2014.

Estate Planning Changes : What 2015 Looks Like

Blank CalendarWealthManagement.com provides insight to Estate Planning for 2015.

The consensus at 48th Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning was that because 2014 is an election year, there’s unlikely to be any major tax reform this year. The year 2015, however, could be a different story.

Continue reading

Hobby Tax Trap or For Profit Business?

CAUTION ExclamationWhat would happen if the IRS re-classified your business as a hobby?

It can happen.  The IRS defines a hobby as a revenue-generating activity that lacks a profit motive.  But what does that mean to you?

Most start-ups and small businesses have good years and not-so-good years.  There are those that will say that if your business continually functions in the red, maybe you really need to rethink your business strategy.  The IRS, on the other hand, will be looking at whether your business is really a for-profit business or is actually a hobby and the deductions or losses you have taken.  “The IRS will generally assume an activity is a business if it generates a profit 3 of 5 consecutive years…“.¹  If the business has a loss for 3 of 5 consecutive years, the IRS will take a closer look at what they consider the “facts and circumstances” to evaluate whether the activity is actually a hobby or qualifies as a for-profit business.

Why is this important?  Because if the IRS determines that your business doesn’t have a solid profit motive, they will re-classify your business as a hobby, then your past returns will be reviewed and deductions will be re-evaluated.   If they feel your *activity* is actually a hobby, they will add back the losses claimed by you that will result in back-taxes, penalties and interest.

So here are a few tips that you should consider in support of your for-profit business in the event you are ever reviewed by the IRS.  You want to be able to substantiate your business, and therefore entitled to any business losses you have claimed.  These practices include being properly licensed, have separate bank accounts and credit cards, payment of business taxes, good accounting and record keeping, appropriate insurance, a separate business phone line, log or business journal of time devoted to the business and documented actions taken to help make the activity profitable.²

¹ Brett Hersh, http://www.hbsbusiness.com
² Ibid.

Need help?  We do more than just tax preparation at US-TaxLaws. We are your best  source for professional tax preparation and/or financial consulting services that include:

Personal Tax Preparation   Business Tax Preparation   Partnership Tax Preparation
Corporate Tax Preparation  Incorporation-Choice of Entity   Business Support Services
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Tax Reform Update for Small Businesses

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.

Source: http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/finance-accounting/2014/02/28/how-tax-reform-act-2014-will-affect-your-small-business/

SPECIAL RULE FOR CHILDREN OF DIVORCED OR SEPARATED PARENTS!

Divorce jpegCHILD AND DEPENDENT CARE EXPENSES.

IRS Form 2441 is all about child and dependent care.  It has a section that talks about the *special rules* that are applied to children of divorced or separated parents.

To be a *qualifying person*, the person had to live with you for more than half of 2013.

 

First, what does *Qualifying Person* mean?  According to the IRS, a qualifying person is: Continue reading

Cost Segregation? Standard Depreciation?

INVESTMENT IN REAL ESTATE HAS OPTIONS…

shutterstock_165755561Cost segregation deals with the depreciation of real estate enabling investors to dramatically increase the amount of depreciation they write off every year.

For many investors, this tax write-off can help restructure the cash flow of their properties, allowing them to make more income, while still increasing their tax benefits.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

Shifting portions of the property to non-structural status allows a reduction of income tax by generating an extra 30% to 70% in tax depreciation deductions.  The result is increased cash flow.  Additionally,  extra depreciation converts ordinary rental income at your current tax rate to tax-deferred capital gain when you dispose of the property.  This effectively increases your return on investment.  The higher your tax bracket, the more savings to you.

To learn more, or to understand how cost segregation can work for you, read Understanding Cost Segregation 

Charitable Contributions Under the Magnifying Glass

Uncle Sam Arm holding Magnifying GlassOrganizations That Qualify To Receive Deductible Contributions

Many of us have our favorite charities that we know and have contributed to in the past.  However, not every charitable contribution is deductible – specifically – those contributions made to individuals.

Please refer to the IRS Publication 526 to get filing guidelines for tax year 2013.  They cover just about everything and include: Organizations That Qualify To Receive Deductible Contributions, Contributions You Can Deduct, Contributions You Cannot Deduct, Contributions of Property, When To Deduct, Limits on Deductions, Records To Keep, and How To Report.

A few posts back we discussed charitable contributions in Part I and Part II on Substantiating Tax Deductions for Charitable Contributions.  According to the IRS, for 2013, you may have to reduce the total amount of certain itemized deductions, including charitable contributions, if your adjusted gross income is more than:

  • $150,000 if married filing separately,
  • $250,000 if single,
  • $275,000 if head of household, or
  • $300,000 if married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er).

They also discuss Disaster relief.

“You can deduct contributions for flood relief, hurricane relief, or other disaster relief to a qualified organization (defined under Contributions) Organizations That Qualify To Receive Deductible . However, you cannot deduct contributions earmarked for relief of a particular individual or family.”

How to check whether an organization can receive deductible charitable contributions. You can ask any organization whether it is a qualified organization, and most will be able to tell you. Or go to IRS.gov. Click on “Tools” and then on “Exempt Organizations Select Check”  (www.irs.gov/Charities&NonProfits/ExemptOrganizationsSelectCheck).

This online tool will enable you to search for qualified organizations. You can also call the IRS to find out if an organization is qualified. Call 1-877-829-5500. People who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability and who have access to TTY/TDD equipment can call 1-800-829-4059. Deaf or hard of hearing individuals can also contact the IRS through relay services such as the Federal Relay Service at www.gsa.gov/fedrelay.

The IRS has a tool that you can use to check charitable organizations.  http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Exempt-Organizations-Select-Check

 

Pat Michael and his team at US-TaxLaws is your best source for professional tax preparation services with more than 30 years experience and thousands of satisfied clients.

Personal Tax Preparation   Business Tax Preparation   Partnership Tax Preparation Corporate Tax Preparation  Incorporation-Choice of Entity   Business Support Services Corporate Compliance   Audit Representation  Retirement Tax Planning   Wills & Trusts Estate Planning   Bookkeeping   Payroll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://us-taxlaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/IRS-Publicatim-526-Charitable-Contributions.pdf

Part II Tips : Substantiating Tax Deductions for Charitable Contributions

Bradford Tax Institute
The Bradford Tax Institute is one of the many sources we network with to stay on top of all the latest changes and updates to tax code and laws.

KEEP GOOD RECORDS!

When you give to charity, you win twice, first by supporting good organizations, and second by claiming valuable tax deductions. We leave the choice of charitable entity to you, and instead focus on record-keeping practices that maximize your charitable contribution deductions. To deduct cash, check or other charitable gifts, keep bank records or written communication from the charity showing

  • the name of the charitable organization,
  • the date of the contribution, and
  • the amount of the contribution.

For a detailed guide on record-keeping based on amount and type of charitable contribution, see the table at the end of this article.

Personal v. Business Deductions

Personal charitable deductions alleviate your tax burden and add to your bottom-line. However, business deductions are more valuable than personal charitable deductions.

Thus, whenever you have a choice between a business and a personal deduction, go for the business deduction.

For example, with a business deduction on Schedule C of your Form 1040, you save both self-employment taxes, and phaseout taxes caused by a multitude of AGI limits.

If you operate as a corporation, you gain with charity payments as business expenses because you are using pre-tax money for the charity rather than after tax deductions.

Here’s one corporate owner example. Say you are going to give $10,000 to a charity. If you earn the money on a W-2 in your capacity as an owner-employee, you pay payroll taxes on the earnings before you can give the $10,000 to the charity. On the other hand, if your corporation can claim the $10,000 payment to this charity as a business expense, you avoid the payroll taxes and either you (if you are an S corporation) or the corporation (C corporation) gets the deduction.

Souce: Bradford Tax Institute

Pat Michael and his team at US-TaxLaws is your best source for professional tax preparation services with more than 30 years experience and thousands of satisfied clients.
Call us today 619-589-8680.

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Part I : Tips Substantiating Tax Deductions for Charitable Contributions

SUBSTANTIATING CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS

Larger IRSMany charitable organizations described in section 501(c)(3), other than testing for public safety organizations, are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions in accordance with section 170. Most eligible organizations are listed in Exempt Organizations Select Check (Pub 78 database). Continue reading

How to Deduct Expenses at the NAFCC Conference in Orlando, Florida

January 29 Header for ChildCare Site

 

Follow IRS rules about business travel and deductions and enjoy the trip!

Are you planning to attend the National Association for Family Child Care Conference in Orlando, Florida on July 11-12, 2014?  The program guide  gives you all the details about workshops and seminars that will be taking place, including valuable business practices for record keeping and general business administration of your child care business.

WHAT’S EVEN BETTER – YOU HAVE DEDUCTIONS!

Want to read more?  Click Here

DID YOU KNOW that your vacation home can be a tax deduction?

uh oh signJust make sure you don’t use it for client or business entertainment.  

The Bradford Tax Institute had a great piece about how you can actually deduct your vacation home – as long as you don’t break the rule.  The rule is – it can’t be used for your business client’s (or their family’s) entertainment.

BTI used the scenario – Man owns three-acre beachfront property.  While he is there, he met with his investment advisors, current and prospective clients and met with salesmen, trainees and other partners in his business.

The costs associated with these meetings are all legitimate deductions and valid business activities, so where did he go wrong?

He permitted his clients to bring their family to the property, while they were in meetings. The court ruled that since the *family members* did not attend the business meetings – that meant they were entertaining themselves, such as playing on the beach or going out at night and partying.

As a result, the court ruled that the beach home was a NONDEDUCTIBLE ENTERTAINMENT FACILITY.  (See http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/274 )

The Bradford Tax Institute used the following example:  If you use your vacation home 11 days for business meetings with your employees (or partners, etc.), 14 days for business lodging, and 8 days for personal purposes, that gives you 76% business use and 24% personal use.  Formula:  25 business days (M-F) divided by 33 days = 76%.  You can deduct 76% of the operating costs and depreciation of your vacation home.

 

Story source:  Bradford Tax Institute Tax Reduction Letter

 

IRS Red Flag Scenarios

CAUTION Audit Alert SignTAXPAYER CLAIMS HE IS A WRITER…

A taxpayer was unable to prove his business deduction as a legitimate expense.  In 2006-2007 the taxpayer claimed his trips abroad were to take photographs for a book on world travel.  He deducted $20,000 for costs associated with his travels to Africa, Australia, Asia and South America.  He claimed he was a writer, but in 2011 he still had failed to publish anything – and the book was still in rough form.  It was decided that even though he had a business plan, and a profit motive, he failed to produce evidence that he was in a trade or business of being an author.  (¹Oros v. Comm. (December 31, 2013) US Court of Appeals for the Ninth District, Case No. 12-71071)

MBA TUITION DEDUCTION DENIED

Husband and wife were denied a major deduction of $17,138 for the husband’s MBA tuition expenses.  Why?  Because they could not provide evidence that the schooling was required for his employment.  Education expenses may be deducted if the education:

  1. Maintains or improves skills required by the individual’s employment; or
  2. It meets the requirements of the individual’s employer or the law, as a condition of employment.

 

Source of content : Spidell’s Elder Client Care Planner , March 2014

 

 

Pat Michael and his team at US-TaxLaws is your best source for professional tax preparation services with more than 30 years experience and thousands of satisfied clients.

Personal Tax Preparation   Business Tax Preparation   Partnership Tax Preparation Corporate Tax Preparation  Incorporation-Choice of Entity   Business Support Services Corporate Compliance   Audit Representation  Retirement Tax Planning   Wills & Trusts Estate Planning   Bookkeeping   Payroll

 

Flash – 2013 Short Sellers Get State Tax Relief

 

Franchise Tax Board, State of CAFranchise Tax Board of California 

We updated our website to include information about mortgage debt relief for taxpayers who sold their principal residences through a short sale in 2013.

According to an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Information Letter dated September 19, 2013, the IRS determined that California taxpayers who sell their principal residences for less than what is owed on the home as part of a short sale, in which the lender agreed to the short sale, do not incur cancellation of indebtedness income. Instead, the amount of forgiven debt is included in the amount realized in determining gain on the sale of that residence.

The IRS guidance is limited to California short sales only. The IRS guidance did not specifically address other types of real estate transactions such as non-judicial foreclosures and mortgage loan modifications.

We will update information and FAQs on our website soon. For more details and updates, please go to ftb.ca.gov and search for mortgage forgiveness debt relief.

 

Pat Michael and his team at US-TaxLaws is your best source for professional tax preparation services with more than 30 years experience and thousands of satisfied clients.
Personal Tax Preparation   Business Tax Preparation   Partnership Tax Preparation
Corporate Tax Preparation   Incorporation-Choice of Entity    Business Support Services    Corporate Compliance    Audit Representation   Retirement Tax Planning   Wills & Trusts   Estate Planning   Bookkeeping   Payroll 

How Safe Are Your Tax Records?

PROTECT YOUR RECORDS … FOR PEACE OF MIND

If you are using electronic records – stored remotely and retrievable – great!  But what about those who still keep paper records in a home-office, garage, basement, or attic?  Well, if you are going to keep your tax records in  your home, make sure they won’t be destroyed in an unexpected catastrophe like a fire or flood.  While the IRS isn’t heartless … if they come looking for your records, you will wish you have kept them safer. Continue reading