Friday, November 10, 2017
Your business tax return could look a lot different depending on the circumstances of employee meals. Find out why and what you can do to get the most bang for your tax buck.
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Do you have too much of your employer's company stock in your 401(k) or other retirement plan? It's time to find out if you've made a smart or risky move.
Friday, November 3, 2017
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
If your business is incorporated, it may be a good idea for you to own the business real estate and lease it to your corporation. That's because there are a number of tax and nontax concerns relating to real estate ownership. Before you acquire new business property or change the ownership of property you already have, give us a call at (518) 798-3330. We can discuss tax considerations.
Friday, October 27, 2017
One of several identity theft scams IRS Commissioner John A. Koskinen spoke about at a recent IRS Nationwide Tax Forum is a client email hack scam. This happens when a thief uses a taxpayer's email address to send an email to a tax preparer with instructions to redirect refunds into a different bank account.Protect your tax returns this tax season by ensuring your email accounts and important data is kept safe with strong passwords, malware protection and other security measures.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Did you know that any amount of canceled debt is typically taxed as ordinary income? If you receive debt forgiveness for home, car or student loans, or credit card interest and debt, you may create a tax liability. There are some exceptions, like when debt is forgiven as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, or when a person's total debt is more than the value of the assets he or she owns.
Friday, October 20, 2017
Have you hit your standard deduction threshold yet? If not, you still have a few options to help create a lower tax bill for the 2017 tax season. One way is to donate stock you've held for more than a year to a charity. You can also consider prepaying next year's donation in the current year. Another option is to pay your taxes prior to year-end. We can help you find the best option for your situation.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Don't leave it up to chance – check your 2017 tax withholdings while you still have some time to make changes. You can use the withholding calculator on the IRS website to see if you are paying too much or not enough. To make a change, fill out a Form W-4 and give it to your employer. You'll end up filling out another form in early 2018 to adjust your withholding schedule.
Friday, October 13, 2017
Deduction opportunities abound for people who know the importance of saving their receipts and keeping proper documentation. Make sure you're taking the right steps to make qualified deductions during filing season.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Avoiding bank reporting by manipulating cash transactions is called structuring – and it's against the law. Know the rules around structuring and how to make sure your business isn't questioned by the IRS.
Thursday, October 5, 2017
Have you ever heard of the marriage penalty? It means you could be taxed more as a married couple than you would as single people making the same amount of money. This is because single filers almost always have higher income thresholds when moving to higher tax brackets. Personal exemptions and itemized deductions can also phase out more quickly for married couples than for single filers.
The marriage penalty might not be a reason to skip matrimony, but it could motivate you to find out more about how taxes may change for you and yours.
The marriage penalty might not be a reason to skip matrimony, but it could motivate you to find out more about how taxes may change for you and yours.
Monday, October 2, 2017
If you invest a ton of personal time and effort into your hobby, plus you have multiple customers and keep professional records, your hobby might actually be a business.Turning your hobby into a business means you can deduct qualified business expenses. But ,that's only if you do it right. The IRS has certain criteria that must be met, or your hobby-turned-business could be challenged. Give us a call at (518) 798-3330 to find out more.
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
If you exchanged items or services with someone and didn't use money, you've bartered. That means you have to list the difference in fair market value between what you've exchanged as either income or a loss on your tax return. Before you establish the value of a bartered item, take a look around at how the item is being valued elsewhere.
Friday, September 22, 2017
Owning a home isn't for everyone, but there are some great tax benefits for people who do. Building equity is a popular reason why renters decide to become homeowners. Paying a mortgage allows you to build up equity in property that you can realize when you sell. And when you do sell, profits you make from the sale are tax-free up to certain limits. Homeowners may also be able to deduct the cost of mortgage interest and property taxes as itemized deductions.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
If an IRS agent makes an in-person visit to your home or business and it feels a little off, ask for credentials.All real IRS agents should carry two forms of identification showing that they're legit – a personal identity verification card and a pocket commission card. Regardless of how an agent is contacting you, always ask for his/her name, badge number, and phone number and call the IRS at 1-800-366-4484 to confirm the agent is a true employee.
Friday, September 15, 2017
Some of the most common tax return errors come from name mistakes. Your name has to match the information on file with the Social Security Administration (SSA). So if you recently married or divorced but haven't changed your name with the SSA, you'll need to file under your old name.
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Working in the service industry often means part of your income comes in the form of tips. Keeping records of your tips is a necessary part of reporting this income for tax purposes, but do you have a good system in place to do this?
Friday, September 8, 2017
If you're thinking of selling your company, a proper appraisal is a necessary starting point to ensure your business is priced properly and you will be able to attract potential buyers.
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
After years of putting money in your 529 college savings plan, you're ready to start taking withdrawals to pay tuition bills. Do you know the rules for keeping the withdrawals tax-free?
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Health Savings Accounts can be a source of retirement funds when properly positioned with other retirement fund options, but it's important to know their advantages and disadvantages.
Monday, August 28, 2017
If you are in a position to give, making annual gifts can be an excellent strategy for reducing both your estate and income tax liability. Doing your gift-giving during midyear rather than late in the year is especially smart if you are gifting income-producing real estate. By doing so, you may further reduce your 2017 tax liability.
Thursday, August 24, 2017
For a parent, estate planning is especially important. The first priority is to make sure your children are protected in the event that something happens to you. Your estate plan should appoint guardians for your minor children, as well as provide for their financial well-being.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
"Dad, I need some extra money to go to the movies with my friends." If you are a parent, you've probably heard countless requests like this. Learn some simple ways you can connect with your kids by teaching them about personal finance.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
If you were subject to a casualty loss and received a reimbursement from your insurance company, this can result in taxable income. There are specific rules related to casualty gains that can help you determine how this affects your situation.
Thursday, August 10, 2017
The home office tax deduction is a tricky area of the tax code. Some taxpayers are so wary of the deduction that they simply opt not to take it. If you're in this group, read the common mistakes and then get help. Don't miss out on this tax benefit if it applies to you.
Monday, August 7, 2017
Your teenage child is probably eager to make some money this summer. Hiring him or her to work for your company may offer benefits to both of you.
Thursday, August 3, 2017
Friday, July 28, 2017
When you get a job with a new company, you have a decision to make. What are you going to do with the retirement savings you have built in your 401(k) plan? You have four options.
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
The statistics are staggering. The majority of Americans do not save for retirement or have not saved enough for retirement. Make sure you're taking these three steps to be financially prepared for your retirement.
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Withholding too much tax from your wages isn't wise in the long run. Try to match withholding as closely as possible to your actual tax liability for the year. Invest the extra money in yourself, not the IRS.
Monday, July 17, 2017
Saving for your children's education or your own retirement – how do you decide which is more important? A typical retirement will generally last longer and cost more than your child's education. If you cannot adequately fund both, maximize your retirement savings first. There are far more options for your child to finance his or her college education than there are for you to fund your retirement.
Monday, July 10, 2017
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Friday, June 30, 2017
Monday, June 26, 2017
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Friday, June 16, 2017
The IRS recently announced the 2018 inflation-adjusted limits for health savings accounts. For 2018, taxpayers can contribute up to $3,450 (up from $3,400 in 2017) for single coverage, or up to $6,900 (up from $6,750 in 2017) for family coverage.
The maximum out-of-pocket figures are: $6,650 for single coverage (up from $6,550 in 2017) and $13,300 for family coverage (up from $13,100 in 2017).
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Remember, service charges do not receive the same tax treatment as tips. Service charges are non-tip wages, and employers must treat them as such for tax withholding and filing requirements. Tips are payments made to employees by customers at the customer's discretion. Service charges are extra fees a customer must pay to a business. Examples of service charges are fees imposed by restaurants for parties of six or more, cruise ship package fees, and hotel room service charges.
Monday, June 12, 2017
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Friday, June 2, 2017
You have filed your 2016 tax return, but you probably still have questions. Here are a few of the most common post-filing questions the IRS answers.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Friday, May 26, 2017
The IRS has published depreciation limits for business vehicles first placed in service this year. These limits remain largely unchanged from 2016 limits. Because 50% bonus depreciation is allowed only for new vehicles, these limits are different for new and used vehicles.
* For new business cars, the first-year limit is $11,160; for used cars, it's $3,160. After year one, the limits are the same for both new and used cars: $5,100 in year two, $3,050 in year three, and $1,875 in all following years.
* The 2017 first-year depreciation limit for trucks and vans is $11,560 for new vehicles and $3,560 for used vehicles. The limits for both new and used vehicles in year two are $5,700, in year three $3,450 (up $100 from 2016), and in each succeeding year $2,075.
For details relating to your 2017 business vehicle purchases, contact us at (518) 798-3330.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Be aware that if you have unpaid federal or state debt, such as overdue child support, state income tax, or student loans, all or part of your 2016 income tax return may be redirected to pay the debt. This is called the offset program. If an offset occurs with your tax return, the Treasury Department's Bureau of Fiscal Service will send you a notice. The notice will list the original refund and offset amounts, as well as the name and contact information of the agency that received the payment. If you have questions, contact our office at (518) 798-3330.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Keeping your tax records organized year-round is a good practice and will keep you from hastily assembling your documents for your annual tax preparation appointment. If you are diligent about maintaining your tax records, you won't have to worry about losing a valuable deduction because you forgot to list expenses on your return, or having unsubstantiated items disallowed in the event of an audit.
Generally, your tax returns can be audited up to three years after filing. However, if income is underreported more than 25%, the IRS can collect underpaid taxes up to six years later. So, keeping good records means you'll always be able to verify what you report on your tax return. Hang on to your tax records for seven years.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Most people don't include tax planning on their summertime agenda, but there are benefits to doing so. The problem with waiting until the end of the year is that you reduce the time for planning strategies to take effect. If you take the time now to schedule a midyear tax planning review, you will have eight months for your actions to make a difference on your 2017 tax return. In addition, proposed tax reform could be cause for additional changes to your tax plan. Planning now for 2017 taxes not only helps reduce your taxes, but it may help you gain control of your entire financial situation. Give us a call at (518) 798-3330 to set up an appointment today.
Monday, April 10, 2017
Thursday, April 6, 2017
According to the IRS, nearly one million taxpayers who failed to file a return for 2013 are in danger of losing refunds. Tax law provides a three-year period to claim a refund when no return is filed. That means you'll have to file a tax return for 2013 no later than this year's April tax deadline – April 18 – or the chance to claim the refund is gone for good.
Can't finish your federal income tax return by the April 18 deadline? There's still time to get an automatic six-month extension.
There are four ways to obtain an extension:
1. File a paper copy of Form 4868 with the IRS and enclose your payment of estimated tax due.
2. File for an extension electronically using the IRS e-file system on your computer.
3. Using IRS Direct Pay, you can pay all or part of your estimated income tax due and indicate the payment is for an extension.
4. Have your tax preparer e-file for an extension on your behalf.
Remember that even if you file for an extension, you are still required to pay any taxes you owe by the April 18 filing deadline. An extension gives you more time to file your tax return, but not more time to pay the taxes you owe. You will be charged interest on any taxes you owe and do not pay by the filing deadline. If you are unable to pay on time, contact the IRS to set up a payment agreement.
Special extension rules apply to members of the military serving in combat zones and to certain others who live outside the U.S. Give us a call at (518) 798-3330 so we can discuss whether or not an extension is right for your situation.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Don't be surprised if you're required to answer additional questions this year if you claim the Child Tax Credit (CTC), Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) or American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC).
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
A health reimbursement arrangement, or HRA, is a benefit plan you can offer to your employees to reimburse them for medical expenses that are not covered by an insurance plan.
Thursday, March 9, 2017
It's that time of year when you are getting ready to sort out last year's financial records and prepare for this year's recordkeeping. Do you know what you should keep and what can you throw away? Here are some suggestions.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Many people think of a "dependent" as a minor child who lives with you. This is true, but it's important to remember dependents can include parents, other relatives and nonrelatives, and even children who don't live with you.
Friday, March 3, 2017
There are a few qualifications that determine if you need Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.
- If you operate your business as a corporation or partnership.
- If you file reports for employment taxes, excise tax, or alcohol, tobacco and firearms.
- If you have one or more employees.
- If you have a self-employed retirement plan.
- If you operate as any of several other organizations.
If you need assistance, please contact our office at (518) 798-3330.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
The IRS has made great strides in protecting taxpayers from identity thieves, but you must still be diligent to protect your information.
Identity thieves can steal a taxpayer's personal information and use it to file a tax return claiming a refund under the taxpayer's name. Then when the taxpayer actually files a return, the IRS won't accept it and notifies the taxpayer that a return under his or her name and ID number has already been filed.
The IRS recommends that taxpayers should do the following in order to avoid becoming an identity theft victim:
- Guard your personal information. Identity thieves can get your information by stealing your wallet or purse, going through your trash, or posing as someone who needs your information for a legitimate reason.
- Watch out for IRS impersonators. Don't fall for phone calls, faxes, e-mails, or other contacts made by people claiming to be from the IRS. Do not respond to the message, open any attachments in an e-mail or click on any links.
- The IRS recommends that you enter "phishing" in the search box at the top of its website (www.irs.gov) to get more information on avoiding tax scams. E-mail suspected scams to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Protect information on your computer. Protect your tax information with a password, and once you're finished with your tax data, take it off your hard drive.
Saturday, February 25, 2017
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 for use in your 2017 planning.
- The maximum earnings subject to social security tax in 2017 is $127,200. The earnings limit for those under full retirement age increases to $16,920 for 2017.
- The "nanny tax" threshold remains $2,000 in 2017. If you pay household employees $2,000 or more during the year, you're generally responsible for payroll taxes.
- The "kiddie tax" threshold remains $2,100 for 2017. If you have a child under the age of 19 (under age 24 for full-time students) who has more than $2,100 of unearned income, such as dividends and interest income, the excess could be taxed at your highest tax rate.
- The maximum individual retirement account (IRA) contribution you can make in 2017 remains unchanged at $5,500 if you are under age 50 and $6,500 if you are 50 or older.
- The maximum amount of wages employees can contribute to a 401(k) plan remains at $18,000, with an additional $6,000 if you are 50 or older. The 2017 maximum contribution for SIMPLE plans is $12,500 and an additional $3,000 if you are 50 or older.
- The maximum you can contribute to a health savings account in 2017 is $3,400 for individuals and $6,750 for families. The catch-up contribution if you're age 55 or older is $1,000.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
If you are single, you must make less than $132,000 to contribute to a Roth IRA for the 2016 tax year. If you are married, your combined income must be less than $194,000 in 2016. However, you can convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA no matter how high your income. Roth IRAs are popular because qualifying distributions are tax-free and annual distributions are not required after age 70½. A conversion to a Roth is a taxable event, so factor that into your analysis. For more information, call us at (518) 798-3330.
Monday, February 20, 2017
A growing number of grandparents are helping raise their grandchildren. Grandparents are giving their time and money, helping with the cost of toys, clothing, education and extracurricular activities. This can add up to thousands of dollars. Many millennials indicate they could not afford their lifestyle if it were not for the help their parents provide.
While helping to support grandchildren may improve the quality of life for the grandparents, it's critical they build their own financial security first. One way for grandparents to benefit their grandchildren while protecting their own finances is contributing to a college plan. This provides a potential tax break while preparing their grandchildren for an education their parents might not be able to afford on their own.
If you would like more information on tax breaks associated with education plans, give us a call at (518) 798-3330.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
The IRS processes most tax returns in 21 days for electronic filings and 6 weeks for paper returns. You can use the "Where's My Refund?" tool on IRS.gov to track the status of your return. Consider direct deposit as an option to receive your tax refund.
Monday, February 13, 2017
In 2017, businesses can expense up to $510,000 of qualified new or used business equipment purchases, with a $2,030,000 annual purchase limit. In addition, new equipment purchased in 2017 may qualify for 50% bonus depreciation. This rate drops to 40% in 2018, so plan your purchasing accordingly.
Friday, February 10, 2017
You may not have thought much about the alternative minimum tax, or AMT, since Congress passed a law that permanently fixed the exemption. But the tax, which you calculate separately from your regular tax liability, is still around. Here's how the AMT might apply to your 2016 tax return.
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Friday, February 3, 2017
The difference between your tax bracket and your tax rate is more than a trick question. For example, knowing your tax rate gives you an accurate reflection of your tax liability in relation to your total income. Knowing your tax bracket is useful for planning purposes.
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Are you starting a new business in the new year? Put these items on your to-do list.
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Can't itemize? You can still claim some expenses on your 2016 federal income tax return. Here's how you can benefit.
Monday, January 23, 2017
Liability, property, vehicles, directors, officers, employees – you can buy an insurance policy for many of the risks your business faces. While going without insurance is generally a penny-wise, pound-foolish decision, considering ways you can reduce the cost of your premiums makes sense. For example, you might ask about higher deductibles. The deductible is the amount you pay in the event of a loss before your insurance company will write a check. For more money-saving tips that can benefit your business, contact us at (518) 798-3330.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
While the new federal overtime rules that were scheduled to take effect in 2016 have been put on hold, perhaps permanently, other wage laws are still around, including those that establish minimum pay levels. These minimum wage laws vary from state to state, and some have changed beginning January 1. In addition, you may be required to post notices or posters in your workplace, and maintain certain records. Contact us at (518) 798-3330 if you have questions.
Monday, January 16, 2017
As you begin preparing your final payroll tax returns for 2016, take into account earlier due dates for two common information reporting forms and one extended due date for health coverage reporting forms.
Forms W-2 for 2016 are due January 31. The January 31 deadline applies to forms given to employees, as well as those submitted to the Social Security Administration.
Forms 1099-MISC with non-employee compensation in Box 7 are due January 31, 2017. The January 31 due date applies to forms given to the payee, as well as paper and electronic copies filed with the IRS.
Forms 1095-B and 1095-C are due to recipients on March 2, 2017, instead of January 31. There is no change to the February 28 due date for filing paper forms with the IRS, nor the March 31 due date for filing electronically.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
If you intend to use your vehicle for business, charitable activities, medical appointments, or moving during 2017, be aware that the optional standard mileage rates for computing the deductible costs have changed. Here are the rates to use to calculate reimbursements and deductions this year.
Business. Starting January 1, 2017, the rate is 53.5¢ per mile when you use your vehicle for business purposes.
Charitable. The standard per-mile rate for charitable service remains at 14¢.
Medical and moving. The rate for medical and moving mileage is 17¢ per mile.
Friday, January 6, 2017
The last installment of your 2016 estimated federal income tax is due January 17, 2017. As a general rule, to avoid penalties you need to pay in the lesser of 90% of your 2016 estimated tax liability or 100% of the tax shown on your 2015 return when your adjusted gross income (AGI) is less than $150,000. When your AGI is over $150,000, you're required to prepay the lesser of 90% of your 2016 estimated tax liability or 110% of your 2015 tax liability. What if you haven't paid in enough? Increase your last installment to make up for the underpayment. Contact us at (518) 798-3330 for help with the calculation.