The IRS announced that an estimated one million taxpayers who did not file an income tax return in 2013 could claim their share of $1 billion in unclaimed refunds for the 2013 tax year. The law gives most taxpayers a three-year time period to claim a tax refund. After that time, the money belongs to the U.S. Treasury. So if you did not file in 2013, to be safe, send your 2013 tax return via certified mail to arrive at the IRS by April 18.
Spring fever often influences homeowners to update and remodel. Maybe you’re considering a new project, too. You may need to replace your deck or remodel your kitchen. If you have a remodeling project coming up, you should understand the tax consequences.
If your project qualifies as an improvement to your home, you’ll enjoy some tax benefits. But if the project is a repair, there’s generally no tax benefit. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell the difference.
An improvement is defined by the IRS as something that adds value to your home or extends its life. Putting in a new kitchen, building an extension or adding a new deck are considered improvements because they add value. Replacing the roof is an improvement because it extends the life of your home. [Read more…]
Interest rates charged by the IRS on underpaid taxes and applied by the IRS on tax overpayments will remain the same for the second quarter of 2017 (April 1 through June 30). Therefore, the rates will be as follows for individuals and corporations:
- 4% charged on underpayments; 4% paid on overpayments.
Tax time can be stressful, but don’t panic if you can’t file your tax return on time. There’s still time to get an automatic six-month deadline extension.
There are four ways to obtain an extension:
- File a paper copy of Form 4868 with the IRS and enclose your payment of estimated tax due.
- File for an extension electronically using the IRS e-file system on your computer.
- Using Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, pay all or part of your estimated income tax due and indicate that the payment is for an extension.
- Have your tax preparer e-file for an extension on your behalf.
Tuesday, April 18, is a major tax deadline. Here are some of the tax filing and related deadlines:
- 2016 individual income tax returns.
- Calendar-year 2016 C corporation income tax returns.
- 2016 annual gift tax returns.
- 2016 IRA contributions.
- 2017 individual estimated tax first quarter installment.
- 2013 individual tax return amendments unless the 2013 return had a filing extension.
During his first week in office, President Trump signed an executive order asking federal agencies to reduce the economic burden the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) puts on American citizens.
Unfortunately, this executive order is causing confusion. Many people are left wondering if fines will no longer be imposed or rules no longer need to be followed. Until the agencies impacted by this executive order publish their intent, act as though current laws are still in play. This includes: [Read more…]
Common errors have helped to make the Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC) a major source of what the IRS calls “improper payments.” The agency estimates that of the $66 billion in EIC funds paid in 2015, nearly a quarter were collected by filers who didn’t qualify to receive them. To help combat this problem, the IRS now requires additional confirmation of information regarding the EIC and three new credits beginning in 2016.
Now if you claim the EIC, the Child Tax Credit (CTC), the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), or the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), additional information may be requested of you.
For the CTC and ACTC, you may be asked how long your children lived with you over the past year, or whether they lived with an ex-spouse, relatives, or other guardian.
Under the current Affordable Care Act (ACA), all Americans must have health insurance. If you receive your health insurance through the ACA marketplace or from your employer, you will receive a Form 1095. This form is used as documentation that you have adequate insurance and is used for other ACA reporting and potential tax benefits.
What’s happening now
Prior to filing your tax return you should receive your Form 1095 and review it for accuracy. If you receive your health insurance through a state or federal marketplace you will receive Form 1095-A. Otherwise your version of the form will be either Form 1095-B or Form 1095-C. Unfortunately, some providers of the “B and C” versions of Form 1095 are still having trouble issuing the forms on time. Because of this, the IRS has issued a notice backing off on this “receive the form before you file” requirement. While you will still need to prove you have adequate health insurance, the suppliers of the Form 1095-B and Form 1095-C were given until as late as March 2 to get the form out to you.
Remember, partnership tax returns are now due on March 15. This is a month earlier than last year. The change is important to note, as filing the tax return late could result in unexpected penalties. The new due date now aligns filing Form 1065 with other flow-through entities like S corporation Form 1120S. If you get caught by surprise with this earlier filing date, contact us immediately.
- Large employers and others must furnish Form 1095-B or Form 1095-C to employees.
- 2016 calendar-year S corporation Form 1120S income tax returns are due.
- 2016 calendar-year partnerships Form 1065 income tax returns are due.
- Forms 1095-B and 1095-C due to the IRS, if filing electronically. Employers who have 250 or more employees are required to file electronically.
The following article by Attorney David Beliveau was published by the New Hampshire Bar Association.
Tax Law: Amended Last Year: A NH Real Estate Transfer Tax Primer
By: David Beliveau
The New Hampshire real estate transfer tax (NH RSA 78-B) – a tax on the transfer of New Hampshire real estate – is $0.75 per $100 of the full price of or consideration for the real estate for the purchaser and the seller (meaning half of the total tax is paid by the purchaser and half by the seller).
The tax, collected by the NH Department of Revenue Administration (DRA), requires filing DRA forms PA-34, Inventory of Property Transfer; CD-57-P, Declaration of Consideration Real Estate Purchaser (Grantee); and CD-57-S, Declaration of Consideration Real Estate Seller (Grantor). The law changed last year in the case of real estate transfers to revocable trusts and LLCs. [Read more…]
Have you ever thought about bartering as a way to get the goods and services you need for your business? A growing number of businesses are finding ways to use the bartering system as a means to avoid using up their company’s cash.
A simple bartering arrangement involves two parties trading items of similar value. For example, let’s say your business owns a building located next to a telephone company. An internet service provider might be interested in storing its services in an unused portion of your basement. Instead of paying rent, they offer to provide you with a high-speed internet connection and website. [Read more…]
If you are expecting a tax refund, you might consider investing your refund or using it to increase your financial security. While everyone’s needs are different, here are some optional uses of your refund that may work for you. [Read more…]
Each year, certain tax figures are adjusted for inflation. While most figures are unchanged versus 2016, there is more than a 7% increase to the maximum earnings subject to social security tax. Take note of these numbers to use in your 2017 planning. [Read more…]
- Payers must file information returns (except certain Forms 1099-MISC with non-employee compensation payments in box 7, which are due before February 1) with the IRS. (Except for certain Forms 1099-MISC outlined earlier, the deadline is March 31 if filing electronically.)
- Forms 1095-B and 1095-C due to the IRS, if filing on paper.
- Farmers and fishermen who did not make 2016 estimated tax payments must file 2016 tax returns and pay taxes in full.
- Large employers must furnish Form 1095-B and Form 1095-C to employees.
- 2016 calendar-year S corporation Form 1120S income tax returns are due.
- 2016 calendar-year partnerships Form 1065 income tax returns are due.
- Forms 1095-B and 1095-C due to the IRS, if filing electronically. (Employers who have 250 or more employees are required to file electronically.)
In general, you can expect your federal refund to be issued approximately 21 days after your electronically filed tax return has been accepted. However, identity theft is still a major problem, and the IRS continues to implement new strategies to protect taxpayer data. For example, if you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit on your 2016 individual federal income tax return, your refund will be held until February 15.
Have you noticed the price of gas? So has the IRS – and the reimbursement rate for business mileage has gone down as a result. The new rate for 2017 is 53.5¢ per mile, down from the 2016 rate of 54¢ per mile.
The rate for medical and moving mileage also decreased. Effective January 1, the standard rate is 17¢ per mile, down from last year’s 19¢. The charitable mileage rate remains 14¢.
Shaping up your finances in 2017 may seem like a big goal, perhaps even too daunting. But if you take one small step at a time, these small steps will add up. Here are suggestions.
* Shift out of automatic. Have you established automatic bill pay at your bank or service provider, or automatic charges to your credit card?
Small step: Look for payments for goods or services you no longer use, such as recurring monthly subscriptions, and cancel them. [Read more…]
When you’re an applicable large employer (generally, when you employ 50 or more full-time workers and equivalents), you’re required to provide information about health coverage to the IRS and to your employees. The IRS extended the date on which two of these forms are due to your employees. Instead of being due January 31, Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, and Form 1095-C, Employer Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage, are now due March 2, 2017. There is no change to the February 28, 2017, due date for filing paper forms with the IRS, nor the March 31, 2017, due date for filing electronically.
Did you spot the new due dates on the tax calendar? As you begin your January payroll preparation, take into account earlier due dates for two common information reporting forms.
Forms W-2 for 2016 are due January 31 for all copies. In the past, you had to provide Forms W-2 to your employees by January 31. Now the January 31 deadline also applies to copies submitted to the Social Security Administration.
The due date for filing all copies of 2016 Forms 1099-MISC with non-employee compensation in Box 7 is January 31, 2017. For these forms, the January 31 due date also applies to both paper and electronic filing.
Tax return filing season has arrived, which means it’s time to mark your calendar for these 2017 tax deadlines.
- January 17 – Due date for the fourth and final installment of 2016 estimated tax for individuals (unless you file your 2016 return and pay any balance due by January 31).
- January 31 – Employers must furnish 2016 W-2 statements to employees, and send copies to the Social Security Administration (both paper and electronic).
- January 31 – Payers must file all copies of 2016 Forms 1099-MISC with non-employee compensation in Box 7. For these forms, the January 31 due date applies to both paper and electronic filing.
- January 31 – Employers must generally file 2016 federal unemployment tax returns and pay any tax due.
- February 28 – Payers must file information returns (except certain Forms 1099-MISC) with the IRS. (Except for certain Forms 1099-MISC, March 31 is the deadline if filing electronically.)
- March 1 – Farmers and fishermen who did not make 2016 estimated tax payments must file 2016 tax returns and pay taxes in full.
- March 2 – Large employers must furnish Form 1095-B and Form 1095-C to employees.
Here’s a quick review of some of the rules you can expect to encounter when you get ready to prepare your 2016 federal income tax return.
Income tax rates. For 2016, ordinary federal income tax rates range from 10% to 35% unless your taxable income exceeds $415,050 when you’re single or $466,950 if you’re married filing jointly. The rate on income above those amounts is 39.6%. [Read more…]
The social security coverage threshold for domestic employees, including nannies, will remain at $2,000 for 2017, the same as the 2016 threshold. If your household workers earn less than $2,000, you do not have to pay social security or Medicare taxes on wages paid to those employees. When you pay your household employees more than the threshold, you’re required to pay social security tax of 6.2% and Medicare tax of 1.45%. The $2,000 threshold applies separately to each employee.
Losses can be hard to take – so if you think your S corporation will show a loss for 2016, now’s the time to plan to make sure you’ll get the full tax benefit.
The problem. The amount of the business loss you can deduct on your individual income tax return is limited to your basis in your S corporation stock and certain corporate debt. This is true even if the loss reported to you on Schedule K-1 is greater than your basis. [Read more…]
For 2017, the wage base for withholding social security tax from wages has increased to $127,200, up from $118,500 in 2016. The “wage base” is the amount of wages on which employers and employees must pay the 6.2% social security tax. The increased wage base means an additional $8,700 of your income is taxed.
The wage base does not affect the 1.45% Medicare payroll tax. Medicare tax is assessed on all wages and net income from self-employment, including amounts above the base. The 0.9% Additional Medicare Tax is not affected either. That tax applies to your compensation in excess of $250,000 when you’re married filing jointly ($200,000 when you’re single). [Read more…]
- December 15 – Due date for calendar-year corporations to pay the last installment of 2016 estimated income tax.
- December 31 – Deadline to complete 2016 tax-free gifts of up to $14,000 per recipient.
- December 31 – Deadline for paying expenses you want to be able to deduct on your 2016 income tax return.
Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) are nine-digit numbers issued by the IRS so certain taxpayers who do not have a social security number can file a tax return. According to the IRS, approximately 11 million people have received an ITIN. Now, some of these numbers may need to be renewed. ITINs that have not been used on a federal income tax return for three consecutive years will expire on December 31 of the third consecutive year. Under current rules, ITINs not used on a tax return during 2013, 2014, or 2015, will expire on December 31, 2016. In addition, ITINs issued before 2008 will expire on December 31, 2016, even if they have been used on a tax return.
If you’re over 70½ and are required to take distributions from your IRA or other retirement account, remember that you must take your 2016 required minimum distribution by December 31. Due to year-end holidays and transfer time constraints, getting the process started now can avoid a last-minute rush, as well as a steep penalty of 50% of the amount not taken.
If this year’s distribution is your first, you have a one-time option of waiting until the beginning of April 2017 to start taking withdrawals. Just remember, waiting means you’ll have two taxable distributions next year.
Disasters, natural or otherwise, could ultimately lead to your company’s demise. Fortunately, advance planning can keep you on track. Here are seven scenarios to be prepared for. [Read more…]
Beginning this month, you can sign up for a new 2017 health insurance policy on the health insurance Marketplace. You can also change or renew the policy you purchased during the last enrollment period. Even if your current policy has an automatic renewal feature, you’ll want to verify that you’re getting the best deal, and that you are still eligible for the federal premium tax credit.
What if you didn’t sign up last winter and didn’t have health insurance coverage in 2016? You may owe a penalty on your 2016 federal income tax return. The penalty is calculated in one of two ways: as a percentage of your income, or on a per-person basis. You pay whichever is higher.
For 2016, the penalty is 2.5% of your annual household income, up to a maximum of the national average premium for a Bronze plan. The per-person penalty is $695 per adult and $347.50 per child under 18 (up to a maximum per-family penalty of $2,085).
An important part of our service to you is to help identify actions you can take before year-end to minimize your personal 2016 federal income tax bill. Accelerating or delaying income and deductions, contributing to retirement plans, and taking investment losses are just a few of the strategies you might want to consider. Here’s a checklist to help you get started.
- Max out your 401(k) before year-end. For 2016, you can set aside $18,000 if you’re under age 50. If you’re 50 or older, you can contribute $24,000.
- Get your investment planning in order. Year-end sell decisions, either to rebalance your portfolio at the lowest tax cost or to offset gains and losses, are only one aspect of investment planning. Another is keeping good records for the reinvested dividends of stocks you sell in 2016. Reinvested dividends add to your cost basis and reduce taxable gain or increase the deductible loss on the sale. Finally, consider the wash sale rule. This rule disallows a current-year loss when you purchase substantially identical securities within a 61-day period. If you plan to sell stocks to secure a loss, and intend to buy the stock back, don’t wait until the last moment.
- Make gifts before year-end. The use-it-or-lose-it tax-free gifting allowance is $14,000 per donee for 2016. Remember, gifts to individuals are not tax-deductible.
- Contribute to your Health Savings Account. Within limits, contributions are tax-deductible and can be used tax-free to pay unreimbursed medical expenses.
- Keep an eye on the “kiddie tax.” This tax on your dependent child’s unearned income in excess of certain limits applies when your child is under age 19 (under age 24 if a full-time student).
Seeing purchases your friends post on social media can leave you envious – and might also foster a desire to buy a similar item. That can be a problem if your goal is long-term financial freedom, because spending money on items you may not need can derail your plans. Three simple habits can help you stay on track. [Read more…]
Did you inadvertently miss the 60-day time limit for making an IRA or retirement plan rollover? You may be able to avoid taxes and possible penalties by notifying your account trustee with a “self-certification.”
When you take a distribution from your IRA or qualified plan with the intention of depositing it, or “rolling it over,” into another IRA or qualified plan, the 60-day rule says you’re required to complete the rollover within 60 days of receiving the distribution. In the past, when you missed the deadline, you generally had to request relief from the IRS. That meant paying a fee and going through a process to obtain a written statement waiving the rule. [Read more…]
As the end of the year approaches, turn your attention to ways you can reduce your 2016 tax liability. Here are suggestions. [Read more…]
- October 17 – Deadline for filing your 2015 individual tax return if you requested an automatic six-month extension of the April deadline.
- October 17 – If you converted a regular IRA to a Roth in 2015 and now want to switch back to a regular IRA, this is the deadline to do so without penalty.
- October 17 – This is the last day to fund your Keogh or SEP plans if you requested an extension of time to file your tax return.
Reacting badly to bad national economic events can turn a challenging situation into a devastating one. When troubling headline news comes your way, consider these tips before making financial moves. [Read more…]
Generally, when you’re single, you can exclude up to $250,000 of gain from the sale of a home ($500,000 if you’re married filing jointly) when the home is used as a primary residence for two years in a five-year period that ends on the date of sale. Tax law also provides for a partial exclusion when the time and ownership requirements are not met, if the primary reason for the sale is unforeseen circumstances. “Unforeseen” means events you could not have reasonably anticipated before buying the home and moving in. How flexible is the definition? Recently, the IRS allowed a partial exclusion when a family living in a two-bedroom, two-bath condominium gave birth to another child and needed a larger residence before the two-year rule was met.
Are you confused about your choices for paying medical expenses under your employer’s benefit plan? Here are differences between two types of commonly offered accounts: a health savings account (HSA) and a health care flexible spending account (FSA).
Overview. An FSA is generally established under an employer’s benefit plan. You can set aside a portion of your salary on a pretax basis to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses. An HSA is a combination of a high-deductible health plan and a savings account in which you save pretax dollars to pay medical expenses not covered by the insurance.
Contributions. For 2016, you can contribute up to a maximum of $2,550 to an FSA. Typically, you have to use the funds by the end of the year. Why? Unused amounts are forfeited under what’s commonly called the “use it or lose it” rule. However, your employer can adopt one of two exceptions to the rule. [Read more…]
The IRS announced inflation-adjusted limits for deductible contributions to health savings accounts (HSAs) for 2017. For family coverage, the contribution limit will be $6,750, and for individual coverage, the limit will be $3,400. If you’re age 55 or older, you can contribute an additional $1,000 during 2017. HSAs combine high-deductible health insurance plans with pretax contributions to a healthcare savings account. The savings account funds can be withdrawn tax-free to pay unreimbursed medical expenses.
- September 15 – Third quarter installment of 2016 individual estimated income tax is due.
- September 15 – Filing deadline for 2015 tax returns for calendar-year corporations that received an automatic extension of the March filing deadline.
- September 15 – Filing deadline for 2015 tax returns for partnerships that received an extension of the April filing deadline.
- October 1 – Generally, the deadline for businesses to adopt a SIMPLE retirement plan for 2016.
- October 17 – Deadline for filing 2015 individual tax returns on extension.
- October 17 – Deadline for reconverting a Roth IRA to a regular IRA.
An important step in estate planning is creating an inventory of your assets. Your executor – the person you designate in your will to carry out your last wishes – uses the inventory to make sure all of your property passes to your heirs. That includes your digital assets. Documenting these along with more traditional effects can help ensure your final wishes are honored and your estate is administered correctly. Here’s what to keep in mind as you compile a list of your digital assets.
Passwords. In order to review financial accounts with banks, brokerages, or other businesses, your executor will need your current password. If you protect passwords with an encrypted program, include the master access key. Most importantly, keep your list updated when you change passwords. [Read more…]
Did you file all required information returns for 2015 and earlier years? Information returns include Forms 1099, the forms you complete when you pay for certain business expenses such as rent or services performed by an independent contractor. August is a good time to review your filing compliance because this is the time of year the IRS typically begins sending notices for prior year information returns with missing and incorrect taxpayer identification numbers, and the penalties for errors continue to rise. [Read more…]
The art of placing information in a logical order, more prosaically called organization, is key to the efficiency of your business, which can in turn increase productivity. Fortunately, you can master the art of organization by making habits out of simple techniques. Here are suggestions. [Read more…]
If you’re starting your first job this fall, you probably want to avoid overpaying your federal income tax. Consider asking your employer to use a special formula known as the part-year withholding method to calculate the amount of federal income tax withheld from your wages. To be eligible, you have to use the calendar year as your tax year, and you must not expect to be employed for more than 245 days during the year.
When you hire workers from specified groups that typically experience high unemployment, you may qualify for a tax break known as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. You typically have 28 days after the worker’s first day to complete paperwork for this federal income tax credit. However, for certain workers hired between January 1, 2015, and August 31, 2016, the 28-day rule has been extended until September 28, 2016. The extended date gives you an opportunity to review personnel files for credit-eligible employees. Contact us to learn how the credit can help save tax dollars.
August 1, 2016, is the deadline for filing retirement or employee benefit returns (5500 series) for plans on a calendar year. (The usual due date of July 31, 2016, is a Sunday.)
You’ll also want to note two IRS updates regarding Form 5500. First, the compliance questions are optional. Form 5500 includes new compliance questions for 2015 tax years (returns with a due date of August 1, 2016, for calendar year filers). Because the questions were not approved by the Office of Management and Budget, the instructions for Form 5500 say plan sponsors should skip them when completing the form. [Read more…]
According to recent statistics, budget cuts, staff attrition, and a heavy workload for IRS employees mean your chances of undergoing a tax audit are less than 1%. Does that sound like a non-event to you? Don’t be lured into a false sense of security. The statistic is a blended rate covering many types of incomes and taxpayers. Here are some of the reasons returns were audited. [Read more…]
Planning can help you achieve a comfortable retirement. Here are five suggestions to consider. [Read more…]
In May, the Department of Labor updated the rules for paying overtime. Under the new rules, salaried employees who earn less than $913 per week ($47,476 per year) will be eligible for overtime pay. That’s double the annual exempt amount of $23,660 from previous rules. In addition, the total annual pay for an exempt highly compensated employee is $134,004 (up from $100,000 previously). These amounts will be updated automatically every three years beginning in 2020.
The changes take effect December 1, 2016, which means you need to begin reviewing your payroll now, as penalties and fines can be assessed for noncompliance. One important step is to begin tracking hours for your salaried employees. You’ll also want to review your payroll practices so you can determine the best options for your business as you get ready to implement the new rules.
The Work Opportunity Tax Credit gives employers a tax credit for hiring veterans and others who are members of “target” groups. Normally, you have 28 days after an eligible worker’s first day to complete the necessary paperwork for the credit.
But the 28-day rule has been extended for some new workers that you hired between January 1, 2015, and May 31, 2016. For certain employees hired within that time period, the deadline for filing the required form is June 29, 2016. If you’re a business owner, the extended date provides an opportunity to review last year’s personnel files for credit-eligible employees. Contact us for details.