Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hardship exemption from Obamacare tax

Notice 2017-14 provides that the hardship exemption from the individual shared responsibility payment under § 5000A, described by the Department of Health and Human Services, for an individual who is not enrolled in health insurance coverage that qualifies for the health coverage tax credit (HCTC) allowed by § 35 for one more months between July 2016 and December 2016, but who would have been eligible for the HCTC under § 35 if enrolled, may be claimed on a Federal income tax return without obtaining a hardship exemption certification from the Marketplace.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Florida's Minimum wage increases!

Florida’s Minimum Wage Increases

January 1, 2017
Many Florida workers will see a modest boost in their wages starting today as the state’s minimum wage rises a nickel to $8.10 an hour.
It is the first minimum wage increase since January 2015, when the hourly rate rose by 12 cents to $8.05. There was no increase in 2016.
Under a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2004, the wage is adjusted annually by the state Department of Economic Opportunity based on a consumer price index.
Tipped workers will earn at least $5.08 an hour.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

W-2, how the IRS is trying to strengthen protection of these documents

IRS, Partners Move to Strengthen Anti-Fraud Effort with Form W-2 Verification Code
When you get your Form W-2 in early 2017, you may notice a new entry – a 16-digit verification code. This is part of an effort conducted by the Internal Revenue Service to protect taxpayers and strengthen anti-fraud efforts.

The expanded use of the W-2 Verification Code is a way to validate the wage and tax withholding information on the tax form. For taxpayers, taking a moment to add this code when filling out their taxes helps the IRS authenticate the information. This in turn helps protect against identity theft and unnecessary refund delays.

For 2017, the IRS and its partners in the payroll service provider industry will place the code on 50 million Forms W-2. This is up from two million forms in 2016.

The IRS, state tax agencies and the nation’s tax industry – partners in combating identity theft – ask for your help in their efforts. Working in partnership with you, we can make a difference.

That’s why we launched a public awareness campaign that we call Taxes. Security. Together. We’ve also launched a series of security awareness tips that can help protect you from cybercriminals.

One area where we need your help is with the W-2 Verification Code. If your W-2 contains the code, please enter it when prompted if using software to prepare your return. Or, please make sure your tax preparer enters it.

If the code is not included, your tax return will still be accepted. However, initial results indicate the verification code shows promise in reducing tax fraud. It helps IRS processing systems authenticate the real taxpayer. Identity thieves sometimes file false Forms W-2 to support their fraudulent tax returns.

This initiative will affect only those Forms W-2 prepared by payroll service providers. The verification code’s location on the form will vary. Enter the code on electronically filed returns only. Most software providers will prompt you to enter the code.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Standard Mileage rates for 2017

2017 Standard Mileage Rates for Business, Medical and Moving Announced   
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2017 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, 2017, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:
  • 53.5 cents per mile for business miles driven, down from 54 cents for 2016
  • 17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down from 19 cents for 2016
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations
The business mileage rate decreased half a cent per mile and the medical and moving expense rates each dropped 2 cents per mile from 2016. The charitable rate is set by statute and remains unchanged.   The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs.
Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.
A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously.
These and other requirements are described in Rev. Proc. 2010-51Notice 2016-79, posted today on IRS.gov, contains the standard mileage rates, the amount a taxpayer must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate, and the maximum standard automobile cost that a taxpayer may use in computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Tax Season

2017 Tax Filing Season Begins Jan. 23 for Nation’s Taxpayers, Tax Returns due April 18

IRS YouTube Video April 18 is When Your Taxes are Due in 2017 | English

                                                             

WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service announced today that the nation’s tax season will begin Monday, Jan. 23, 2017 and reminded taxpayers claiming certain tax credits to expect a longer wait for refunds.

The IRS will begin accepting electronic tax returns that day, with more than 153 million individual tax returns expected to be filed in 2017. The IRS again expects more than four out of five tax returns will be prepared electronically using tax return preparation software.

Many software companies and tax professionals will be accepting tax returns before Jan. 23 and then will submit the returns when IRS systems open. The IRS will begin processing paper tax returns at the same time. There is no advantage to filing tax returns on paper in early January instead of waiting for the IRS to begin accepting e-filed returns.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that a new law requires the IRS to hold refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until Feb. 15. In addition, the IRS wants taxpayers to be aware it will take several days for these refunds to be released and processed through financial institutions. Factoring in weekends and the President’s Day holiday, the IRS cautions that many affected taxpayers may not have actual access to their refunds until the week of Feb. 27.

“For this tax season, it’s more important than ever for taxpayers to plan ahead,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “People should make sure they have their year-end tax statements in hand, and we encourage people to file as they normally would, including those claiming the credits affected by the refund delay. Even with these significant changes, IRS employees and the entire tax community will be working hard to make this a smooth filing season for taxpayers.”

The IRS also reminds taxpayers that they should keep copies of their prior-year tax returns for at least three years. Taxpayers who are changing tax software products this filing season will need their adjusted gross income from their 2015 tax return in order to file electronically. The Electronic Filing Pin is no longer an option. Taxpayers can visit IRS.Gov/GetReady for more tips on preparing to file their 2016 tax return.

April 18 Filing Deadline
The filing deadline to submit 2016 tax returns is Tuesday, April 18, 2017, rather than the traditional April 15 date. In 2017, April 15 falls on a Saturday, and this would usually move the filing deadline to the following Monday – April 17. However, Emancipation Day – a legal holiday in the District of Columbia – will be observed on that Monday, which pushes the nation’s filing deadline to Tuesday, April 18, 2017. Under the tax law, legal holidays in the District of Columbia affect the filing deadline across the nation.


“The opening of filing season reflects months and months of work by IRS employees,” Koskinen said. “This year, we had a number of important legislative changes to program into our systems, including the EITC refund date, as well as dealing with resource limitations. Our systems require extensive programming and testing beforehand to ensure we’re ready to accept and process more than 150 million returns.”

The IRS also has been working with the tax industry and state revenue departments as part of the Security Summit initiative to continue strengthening processing systems to protect taxpayers from identity theft and refund fraud. A number of new provisions are being added in 2017 to expand progress made during the past year.

Refunds in 2017
Choosing e-file and direct deposit for refunds remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund.

The IRS still anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, but there are some important factors to keep in mind for taxpayers.
Beginning in 2017, a new law requires the IRS to hold refunds on tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit until mid-February. Under the change required by Congress in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, the IRS must hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC — until at least Feb. 15. This change helps ensure that taxpayers get the refund they are owed by giving the IRS more time to help detect and prevent fraud.
As in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing tax returns once the filing season begins. All taxpayers should file as usual, and tax return preparers should also submit returns as they normally do – including returns claiming EITC and ACTC.

The IRS will begin releasing EITC and ACTC refunds starting Feb. 15. However, the IRS cautions taxpayers that these refunds likely won’t arrive in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of Feb. 27 (assuming there are no processing issues with the tax return and the taxpayer chose direct deposit). This additional period is due to several factors, including banking and financial systems needing time to process deposits.
After refunds leave the IRS, it takes additional time for them to be processed and for financial institutions to accept and deposit the refunds to bank accounts and products. The IRS reminds taxpayers many financial institutions do not process payments on weekends or holidays, which can affect when refunds reach taxpayers. For EITC and ACTC filers, the three-day holiday weekend involving President’s Day may affect their refund timing.

Where's My Refund? ‎on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go phone app will be updated with projected deposit dates for early EITC and ACTC refund filers a few days after Feb. 15. Taxpayers will not see a refund date on Where's My Refund? ‎or through their software packages until then. The IRS, tax preparers and tax software will not have additional information on refund dates, so Where’s My Refund? remains the best way to check the status of a refund.

Help for Taxpayers

The IRS reminds taxpayers they have a variety of options to get help filing and preparing their tax return on IRS.gov. Taxpayers can also, if eligible, locate help from a community volunteer. Go to IRS.gov and click on the Filing tab for more information.

Seventy percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. Commercial partners of the IRS offer free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $64,000 or less.

Online fillable forms provides electronic versions of IRS paper forms to all taxpayers regardless of income that can be prepared and filed by people comfortable with completing their own returns.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offer free tax help to people who qualify. Go to irs.gov and enter “free tax prep” in the search box to learn more and find a nearby VITA or TCE site, or download the IRS2Go smartphone app to find a free tax prep provider.

The IRS also reminds taxpayers that a trusted tax professional can provide helpful information and advice about the ever-changing tax code. Tips for choosing a return preparer and details about national tax professional groups are available on IRS.gov.

Renewal Reminder for Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINS) ITINs are used by people who have tax-filing or payment obligations under U.S. law but are not eligible for a Social Security number. Under a recent change in law, any ITIN not used on a tax return at least once in the past three years will expire on Jan. 1, 2017. In addition, any ITIN with middle digits of either 78 or 79 (9NN-78-NNNN or 9NN-79-NNNN) will also expire on that date.

This means that anyone with an expiring ITIN and a need to file a tax return in the upcoming filing season should file a renewal application in the next few weeks to avoid lengthy refund and processing delays. Failure to renew early could result in refund delays and denial of some tax benefits until the ITIN is renewed.

An ITIN renewal application filed now will be processed before one submitted at the height of tax season from mid-January to February. Currently, a complete and accurate renewal application can be processed in as little as seven weeks. But this timeframe is expected to expand to as much as 11 weeks during tax season, which runs from mid-January through April.

Several common errors are currently slowing down or holding up ITIN renewal applications. The mistakes generally center on missing information, and/or insufficient supporting documentation. ITIN renewal applicants should be sure to use the latest version of Form W-7, revised September 2016. The most current version of the form, along with its instructions, are posted on IRS.gov.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Non Profit, Form 990 filing

With over 300 pages of instructions and 300 possible questions to answer, the IRS Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax is a complex and extensive form. It is filed annually by most exempt organizations, including charities. Here are five things you may not know or may have forgotten about Form 990:   
  1. It is a misnomer to call Form 990 an “income tax return.” There is no income tax calculation in the core Form 990 or within any of the accompanying schedules. The fact that it is not an income tax return becomes very important when attempting to apply the Internal Revenue Code to the filing of Form 990. Generally, where the Internal Revenue Code and the related regulations only reference an “income tax return,” the code or regulation in question will not normally apply to Form 990. It is very important, however, to remember that organizations subject to unrelated business income taxes (UBIT) file a separate Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return, which can be subject to the Internal Revenue Code and the regulations related to the filing of an income tax return.
  1. There are 16 possible schedules that can be attached to the core Form 990. These schedules run the gamut from Schedule A, which is a required attachment for all Section 501(c)(3) organizations, to Schedule R that reports related entities, certain transactions with related entities, as well as certain unrelated partnerships. There is a schedule for foreign activities as well as for hospitals (Schedules F and H, respectively). There is, however, only one schedule that must be attached to every Form 990 that is filed: Schedule O, which is used to report required and supplemental information to the form.
  1. Some organizations get tripped up on reporting of lobbying expenses. Lobbying expenses are those amounts paid for activities intended to influence legislation, be it foreign, national, state or local. The IRS makes the distinction between direct lobbying and grassroots lobbying. Direct lobbying applies to instances in which organizations attempt to influence legislators. Grassroots lobbying is when the organization attempts to influence legislation through influencing the general public, such as urging supporters to contact legislators with a position on specific legislation. Lobbying expenditures are reported within the Statement of Functional Expenses on Line 11d on the core form. However, not all lobbying expenditures are to be reported on this line. Salaries paid to an employee of the filing where the employee is engaged in lobbying is not to be reported on 11d.  Section 501(c) organizations and Section 527 organizations are subject to limitations on lobbying and use Schedule C to furnish additional information.
  1. Your organization is being watched. Form 990 is heavily scrutinized, not only by the IRS, but also by state regulatory entities that use it to investigate exempt organizations operating in their states. In over 40 states, Form 990 is filed as part of the charitable fundraising registration process. In addition, the form is made widely available and used by charitable rating agencies. Readers have various motives for looking at the form, so it is important to look at it with an eye toward how all potential readers will react to the information being presented.
  1. In many instances, you cannot just check a box and be done. It is vital to read the instructions carefully. To give just one example, consider Section B of Part VII of Form 990, in which organizations report the five highest compensated independent contractors. The compensation to report is not limited to those contractors receiving a Form 1099 from the filing organization. You must report in Section B the top five that were paid more than $100,000 for services (not purchases of tangible personal property or rental or real property) rendered to the organization regardless of the need to prepare a Form 1099 for the service provider. The measurement date for the $100,000 is for the year ending within the year being filed. In other words, a June 30, 2016 fiscal year-end organization should look to the payments for services made during the year ending Dec. 31, 2015.                                                              Thanks to Bill Turco, CPA for pulling this information together!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Refund delays and how to avoid them!

Tax Preparedness Series: How to Avoid a Refund Delay; Plan Ahead
Note to Editor: This is the second in a series of reminders to help taxpayers prepare for the upcoming tax filing season.
WASHINGTON – As tax filing season approaches, the Internal Revenue Service is reminding taxpayers about steps they can take now to ensure smooth processing of their 2016 tax return and avoid a delay in getting their tax refund next year.
The IRS reminds taxpayers to be sure they have all the documents they need, such as W-2s and 1099s, before filing a tax return. You may also need a copy of your 2015 tax return to make it easier to fill out a 2016 tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income amount from a prior tax return to verify their identity. Learn more about how to verify your identity and electronically sign your tax return at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return. The IRS will begin accepting and processing tax returns once the filing season begins.
Under the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act), any Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) issued prior to 2013 or that haven’t been used for tax-years 2013, 2014 and 2015 will no longer be valid for use on a tax return as of Jan. 1, 2017. Individuals with expiring ITINs who need to file a return in 2017 will need to renew their ITIN. This process typically takes 7 weeks to receive an ITIN assignment letter, but the process can take longer - 9 to 11 weeks if taxpayers wait to submit Form W-7 during the peak filing season, or send it from overseas. Taxpayers who do not renew an expired ITIN before filing a tax return next year, could face a delayed refund and may be ineligible for certain tax credits. For more information, visit the ITIN information page on IRS.gov.
If you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) on your tax return, the IRS must hold your refund until February 15. This new law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with EITC or ACTC. This change helps ensure that you receive the refund you are owed by giving the agency more time to help detect and prevent fraud.
The IRS always cautions taxpayers not to rely on getting a refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying bills. Though the IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, some returns are held for further review.
The easiest way to avoid common errors that delay processing a tax return is to e-file. E-file is the most accurate way to prepare a return and file. There are a number of e-file options:
Use Direct Deposit.
With direct deposit, the refund goes directly into the taxpayer’s bank account. There is no risk of having the refund check stolen or lost in the mail. This is the same electronic transfer system used to deposit nearly 98 percent of all Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits into millions of accounts. Direct deposit also saves taxpayer dollars. It costs the nation’s taxpayers more than $1 for every paper refund check issued but only a dime for each direct deposit made.
The IRS has a special page on IRS.gov with steps to take now for the 2017 tax filing season.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Registration now open for 2017 Advance Monthly Payment Credit

Registration Now Open for 2017 Advance Monthly Payments of the Health Coverage Tax Credit
WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service has opened the new registration and enrollment process for qualified taxpayers to receive the benefit of the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) on an advance monthly basis during 2017.
Eligible taxpayers can have 72.5 percent of their qualified health insurance premiums paid in advance directly to their health plan administrator each month. Each payment made on their behalf to the health plan administrator lowers their out-of-pocket premium costs.
Taxpayers may be eligible to elect the HCTC only if they are one of the following:
  • An eligible trade adjustment  assistance (TAA) recipient, alternative TAA recipient or      reemployment TAA recipient,
  • An eligible Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) payee, or
  • The family member of an eligible TAA, ATAA, or RTAA recipient or PBGC payee who is deceased or who finalized a divorce with them.
Taxpayers can now begin the process of registering with the IRS and providing required information to participate in the 2017 Advance Monthly Payment program for the HCTC. This includes completing and mailing Form 13441-A, HCTC Monthly Registration and Update, with all required supporting documents to the IRS. 
Once the registration is complete and they are enrolled in the Advanced Monthly Payment HCTC program, the taxpayer must pay 27.5 percent of their health insurance premiums in advance to the HCTC program. Payments are due by the 10th day of each month and must be made through the US Bank Lockbox system. The HCTC program then adds the 72.5 percent advance portion of the HCTC and sends the full payment to the health plan or third party administrator each month.
For more information, including a helpful set of questions and answers, visit IRS.gov/HCTC.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Employers and small businesses, W-2 forms are due Jan 31

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded employers and small businesses of a new Jan. 31 filing deadline for Forms W-2. The IRS must also hold some refunds until Feb. 15.

A new federal law, aimed at making it easier for the IRS to detect and prevent refund fraud, will accelerate the W-2 filing deadline for employers to Jan. 31. For similar reasons, the new law also requires the IRS to hold refunds involving two key refundable tax credits until at least Feb. 15. Here are details on each of these key dates.

New Jan. 31 Deadline for Employers
The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, enacted last December, includes a new requirement for employers. They are now required to file their copies of Form W-2, submitted to the Social Security Administration, by Jan. 31. The new Jan. 31 filing deadline also applies to certain Forms 1099-MISC reporting non-employee compensation such as payments to independent contractors.

In the past, employers typically had until the end of February, if filing on paper, or the end of March, if filing electronically, to submit their copies of these forms. In addition, there are changes in requesting an extension to file the Form W-2. Only one 30-day extension to file Form W-2 is available and this extension is not automatic. If an extension is necessary, a Form 8809 Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns must be completed as soon as you know an extension is necessary, but by January 31. Please carefully review the instructions for Form 8809, for more information.

"As tax season approaches, the IRS wants to be sure employers, especially smaller businesses, are aware of these new deadlines," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "We are working with the payroll community and other partners to share this information widely."

The new accelerated deadline will help the IRS improve its efforts to spot errors on returns filed by taxpayers. Having these W-2s and 1099s earlier will make it easier for the IRS to verify the legitimacy of tax returns and properly issue refunds to taxpayers eligible to receive them. In many instances, this will enable the IRS to release tax refunds more quickly than in the past.

The Jan. 31 deadline has long applied to employers furnishing copies of these forms to their employees and that date remains unchanged.

Some Refunds Delayed Until at Least Feb. 15
Due to the PATH Act change, some people will get their refunds a little later. The new law requires the IRS to hold the refund for any tax return claiming either the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until Feb. 15. By law, the IRS must hold the entire refund, not just the portion related to the EITC or ACTC.

Even with this change, taxpayers should file their returns as they normally do. Whether or not claiming the EITC or ACTC, the IRS cautions taxpayers not to count on getting a refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying other financial obligations. Though the IRS issues more than nine out 10 refunds in less than 21 days, some returns are held for further review.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Some Tax Benefits increase because of expected inflation

In 2017, Some Tax Benefits Increase Slightly Due to Inflation Adjustments, Others Are Unchanged
The Internal Revenue Service today announced the tax year 2017  annual inflation adjustments for more than 50 tax provisions, including the tax rate schedules, and other tax changes. Revenue Procedure 2016-55 provides details about these annual adjustments. The tax year 2017 adjustments generally are used on tax returns filed in 2018.   The tax items for tax year 2017 of greatest interest to most taxpayers include the following dollar amounts:
  • The standard deduction for married filing jointly rises to $12,700 for tax year 2017, up $100 from the prior year. For single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately, the standard deduction rises to $6,350 in 2017, up from $6,300 in 2016, and for heads of households, the standard deduction will be $9,350 for tax year 2017, up from $9,300 for tax year 2016.
  • The personal exemption for tax year 2017 remains as it was for 2016: $4,050.  However, the exemption is subject to a phase-out that begins with adjusted gross incomes of $261,500 ($313,800 for married couples filing jointly). It phases out completely at $384,000 ($436,300 for married couples filing jointly.)
  • For tax year 2017, the 39.6 percent tax rate affects single taxpayers whose income exceeds $418,400 ($470,700 for married taxpayers filing jointly), up from $415,050 and $466,950, respectively. The other marginal rates – 10, 15, 25, 28, 33 and 35 percent – and the related income tax thresholds for tax year 2017 are described in the revenue procedure.
  • The limitation for itemized deductions to be claimed on tax year 2017 returns of individuals begins with incomes of $287,650 or more ($313,800 for married couples filing jointly).
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amount for tax year 2017 is $54,300 and begins to phase out at $120,700 ($84,500, for married couples filing jointly for whom the exemption begins to phase out at $160,900). The 2016 exemption amount was $53,900 ($83,800 for married couples filing jointly).  For tax year 2017, the 28 percent tax rate applies to taxpayers with taxable incomes above $187,800 ($93,900 for married individuals filing separately).
  • The tax year 2017 maximum Earned Income Credit amount is $6,318 for taxpayers filing jointly who have 3 or more qualifying children, up from a total of $6,269 for tax year 2016. The revenue procedure has a table providing maximum credit amounts for other categories, income thresholds and phase-outs.
  • For tax year 2017, the monthly limitation for the qualified transportation fringe benefit is $255, as is the monthly limitation for qualified parking,
  • For calendar year 2017, the dollar amount used to determine the penalty for not maintaining minimum essential health coverage is $695.
  • For tax year 2017 participants who have self-only coverage in a Medical Savings Account, the plan must have an annual deductible that is not less than $2,250 but not more than $3,350; these amounts remain unchanged from 2016. For self-only coverage the maximum out of pocket expense amount  is $4,500, up $50 from 2016. For tax year 2017 participants with family coverage, the floor for the annual deductible is $4,500, up from $4,450 in 2016, however the deductible cannot be more than $6,750, up $50 from the limit for tax year 2016. For family coverage, the out of pocket expense limit is $8,250 for tax year 2017, an increase of $100 from  tax year 2016.
  • For tax year 2017, the adjusted gross income amount used by joint filers to determine the reduction in the Lifetime Learning Credit is $112,000, up from $111,000 for tax year 2016.
  • For tax year 2017, the foreign earned income exclusion is $102,100, up from $101,300 for tax year 2016.
  • Estates of decedents who die during 2017 have a basic exclusion amount of $5,490,000, up from a total of $5,450,000 for estates of decedents who died in 2016.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Tax Deadline for individuals is October 17

IRS Reminds Extension Filers of the Oct. 17 Deadline
Millions of taxpayers ask for an extra six months to file their taxes every year. If you are one of them, then you should know that Monday, Oct. 17 is the extension deadline in 2016. This is so because Oct. 15 falls on a Saturday. If you have not yet filed, here are some things to keep in mind about the extension deadline and your taxes:
  • Try IRS Free File or e-file. You can still e-file your tax return for free through IRS Free File. The program is available only on IRS.gov through Oct. 17. IRS e-file is easy, safe and the most accurate way to file your taxes.
  • Use Direct Deposit. If you are due a refund, the fastest way to get it is to combine direct deposit and e-file. Direct deposit has a proven track record; eight out of 10 taxpayers who get a refund choose it.
  • Use IRS Online Payment Options. If you owe taxes, the best way to pay them is with IRS Direct Pay. It’s the simple, quick and free way to pay from your checking or savings account. You also have other online payment options. Check them out by clicking on the “Payments” tab on the IRS.gov home page.
  • Refunds. As you prepare to file your 2015 return, keep in mind next year’s taxes. IRS is urging taxpayers to check their tax withholding as the year winds down. New factors may delay tax refunds in 2017. For more on what you can do now, see our Aug. 31 news release.
  • Don’t Overlook Tax Benefits. Be sure to claim all the tax breaks you are entitled to. These may include the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Saver’s Credit. The American Opportunity Tax Credit can help offset college costs.
  • Keep a Copy of Your Return. Be sure to keep a copy of your tax return and supporting documents for at least three years. Among other things, this will make filing next year’s return easier. When you e-file your 2016 return, for example, you will often need the adjusted gross income (AGI) amount from your 2015 return.
  • File On Time. If you owe taxes, file on time to avoid a potential late filing penalty. If you owe and can’t pay all of your taxes, pay as much as you can to reduce interest and penalties for late payment. You might also consider aninstallment agreement where you can pay over time.
  • More Time for the Military. Military members and those serving in a combat zone generally get more time to file. If this applies to you, you typically have until at least 180 days after you leave the combat zone to both file returns and pay any taxes due.
  • More Time in Disaster Areas. If you have an extension and live or work in a disaster area, you often have more time to file. Currently, taxpayers in parts of Louisiana and West Virginia have additional extensions beyond Oct. 17. See the disaster relief page on IRS.gov for details.
  • Try Easy-to-Use Tools on IRS.gov. Use the EITC Assistant to see if you’re eligible for the credit. Use theInteractive Tax Assistant tool to get answers to common tax questions. The IRS Tax Map gives you a single point to get tax law information by subject.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Tax Brackets Expected to Rise Slightly Next Year


Inflation-adjusted tax brackets are anticipated to go up a bit next year, according to a pair of new reports, but that could reduce the tax burden for many taxpayers.
According to one report, from Thomson Reuters, the basic standard deduction for heads of household, the additional deduction, and the exemption amounts, will increase to $4,050. The starting point for phasing out taxpayers’ personal exemptions is expected to range from $313,800 for spouses filing jointly and surviving spouses, and $287,650 for heads of household, to $261,500 for single taxpayers. Similar higher dollar thresholds are expected to apply to the phaseout of itemized deductions.
In contrast, this year, phaseouts began at $311,300 of adjusted gross income for joint filers, $285,350 for heads of household, and $259,400 for singles. The higher phaseout levels prevent inflation from eating into the value of these deductions.

A report, from Bloomberg BNA, predicts the top 39.6 percent tax bracket will begin at $470,700 for married taxpayers filing joint returns and at $418,400 for unmarried individuals. This represents an increase from $466,950 and $415,050, respectively in 2016.










Bloomberg BNA predicts that in 2017, the personal exemption amount will stay unchanged from 2016 at $4,050. It is phased out for high-income taxpayers. When calculating deductions, taxpayers can decide to take the higher of their itemized deductions or the standard deduction. The standard deduction amount will differ, depending on the taxpayer’s filing status. The standard deduction amounts for 2017 are projected to increase slightly from 2016.
Standard Deduction





Alternative Minimum Tax
For some taxpayers, inflation adjustments will influence whether they need to pay the alternative minimum tax or not. The projected AMT exemptions for 2017 are as follows:






Estate and Gift Tax Exclusions
Bloomberg BNA anticipates the estate tax basic exclusion for people who die next year will be $5.49 million.
The exclusion amount was $5.45 million this year. The annual gift tax exclusion will still be $14,000 in 2017.
Tax Preparer Penalties
Bloomberg BNA also has predictions for tax preparer penalty amounts, adjusted for inflation next year:

Monday, August 29, 2016

WHY DID THE FASB ISSUE A NEW STANDARD ON NOT-FOR-PROFIT FINANCIAL REPORTING?

On August 18, 2016, the FASB issued a standard intended to simplify and improve how a not-for-profit organization classifies its net assets, as well as the information it presents in financial statements and notes about its liquidity, financial performance, and cash flows. 

The current not-for-profit financial reporting model has held up well for over 20 years since the issuance of Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 117, Financial Statements of Not-for-Profit Organizations, in 1993. However, stakeholders voiced concerns about:
  • Complexities in the use of the required three classes of net assets
  • Deficiencies in the transparency and utility of information in assessing an organization’s liquidity
  • Inconsistencies in the type of information provided about expenses, and
  • Misunderstandings about and the limited usefulness of the statement of cash flows, particularly with regards to the reporting of operating cash flows.
Based on these concerns, the FASB’s Not-for-Profit Advisory Committee and other stakeholders suggested that an update would be beneficial.
The FASB added a project to its agenda to improve the current net asset classification requirements and the information presented in financial statements and notes about a not-for-profit entity’s (NFP’s) liquidity, financial performance, and cash flows. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Accounting for Spoilage

Accounting for Spoilage

Restaurant books account for overhead, such as the costs of paying employees, utility bills and purchasing food items. Gross profits are the amount of money a restaurant takes in, and net profits are the difference between the gross profits and all operating costs. Restaurants should track the value of all spoiled food every week or month, so the Internal Revenue Service doesn't suspect the business of underreporting profits at tax time. According to an IRS audit guide for restaurants, food spoilage rates above 8 percent may appear suspicious to auditors.

Preventing Spoilage and Waste

Given that too high a rate of spoilage can trigger a tax audit and interferes with profits, restaurants should do all they can to minimize loss due to spoilage. Foods closest to their date of expiration should be used first, make sure perishable items are properly refrigerated and reduce the amount of perishable items kept in stock. Restaurants can even get spoilage insurance to prevent a significant loss of profits.

Friday, August 19, 2016

IRS overreach checked!

Interesting facts about the IRS and its ability to interact with taxpayers-
 The IRS’s petition to enforce a summons was denied because the IRS issued the summons to an attorney in his personal capacity and he lawfully invoked his right against self-incrimination. Moreover, the foregone-conclusion exception did not apply because the attorney correctly asserted that the only way for the IRS to know that the underlying documents existed was if they were authenticated through his act of production.
Further, the government’s argument that enforcement of the summons would not violate judicial process because the summons was directed to the attorney as his S corporation’s records custodian was rejected. The IRS’s investigation was focused on the attorney’s individual personal income tax liability. In addition, the summons was directed on its fact to the attorney and was served to his wife at his personal residence. Therefore, the record did not support the government’s contention that the IRS directed the summons to the S corporation. Finally, the government presented no legal authority for the proposition that a single summons, issued to an individual who responded in his personal capacity, can somehow be interpreted as a second summons issued to a corporate entity for unspecified corporate records.  Thanks to CCH for the information in this article.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Transcripts and Prior Year Tax Returns, requesting them

 How to Request a Transcript or Copy of a Prior Year’s Tax Return
You should always keep a copy of your tax return for your records. You may need copies of your filed tax returns for many reasons. For example, they can help you prepare future tax returns. You’ll need them if you have to amend a prior year’s tax return. You often need them when you apply for a loan to buy a home or to start a business. Or, you may need them to apply for student financial aid. If you can’t find your copies, the IRS can give you a transcript of the information you need, or a copy of your tax return. Here’s how to get your federal tax return information from the IRS:
  • Transcripts are free. You can get them for the current year and the past three years. In most cases, a transcript includes the tax information you need.
  • tax return transcript is a summary of the tax return that you filed. It also includes items from any accompanying forms and schedules that you filed. It doesn’t reflect any changes you or the IRS made after you filed your original return.
  • tax account transcript includes your marital status, the type of return you filed, your adjusted gross income and taxable income. It also includes any changes that you or the IRS made to your tax return after you filed it.
  • The quickest way to get a copy of your tax transcript is to use the Get Transcript application. Once you verify your identity, you will be able to view and print your transcript immediately online. This Fact Sheet provides details on how to complete this step.
  • If you're unable or prefer not to use Get Transcript Online, you may order a tax return transcript and/or a tax account transcript using the online tool Get Transcript by Mail or by calling 800-908-9946. Transcripts arrive at the address we have on file for you in five to 10 calendar days from the time IRS receives your request.
oTo order by phone, call 800-908-9946 and follow the prompts. You can also request your transcript using your smartphone with the IRS2Go mobile phone app.
o Businesses that need a tax account transcript should use Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.
  • If you need a copy of your filed and processed tax return, it costs $50 for each tax year. You should complete Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, to make the request. Mail it to the IRS address listed on the form. Copies are generally available for the current year and past six years. You should allow 75 days for delivery.
  • If you live in a federally declared disaster area, you can get a free copy of your tax return. Visit IRS.gov for moredisaster relief information.
You can get tax forms anytime at www.irs.gov/forms
IRS Tax Tips provide valuable information throughout the year. IRS.gov offers tax help and info on various topics including common tax scamstaxpayer rights and more.
Additional IRS Resources:
IRS YouTube Videos:
IRS Podcasts:
  • How to Use Get Transcript Online – English

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Obamacare and seasonal workers

ACA and Employers: How Seasonal Workers Affect Your Workforce Size
For purposes of the Affordable Care Act, an employer’s size is determined by the number of its employees. Employer benefits, opportunities and requirements are dependent upon the employer’s size and the applicable rules. If an employer has at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during the prior year, the employer is an ALE for the current calendar year.  However, there is an exception for seasonal workers.
If you have at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during the prior year, your organization is an ALE. Here’s the exception: If your workforce exceeds 50 full-time employees for 120 days or fewer during a calendar year, and the employees in excess of 50 during that period were seasonal workers, your organization is not considered an ALE. For this purpose, a seasonal worker is an employee who performs labor or services on a seasonal basis.
The terms seasonal worker and seasonal employee are both used in the employer shared responsibility provisions, but in two different contexts. Only the term seasonal worker is relevant for determining whether an employer is an applicable large employer subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions.  For information on the difference between a seasonal worker and a seasonal employee under the employer shared responsibility provisions see our Questions and Answers page