Five Basic Tax Tips for New Businesses

If you start a business, one key to success is to know about your federal tax obligations. You may need to know not only about income taxes but also about payroll taxes. Here are five basic tax tips that can help get your business off to a good start.

  1. Business Structure. As you start out, you’ll need to choose the structure of your business. Some common types include sole proprietorship, partnership and corporation. You may also choose to be an S corporation or Limited Liability Company. You’ll report your business activity using the IRS forms which are right for your business type.
  2. Business Taxes.  There are four general types of business taxes. They are income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax and excise tax. The type of taxes your business pays usually depends on which type of business you choose to set up. You may need to pay your taxes by making estimated tax payments.
  3. Employer Identification Number. You may need to get an EIN for federal tax purposes. Search “do you need an EIN” on IRS.gov to find out if you need this number. If you do need one, you can apply for it online.
  4. Accounting Method. An accounting method is a set of rules that determine when to report income and expenses. Your business must use a consistent method. The two that are most common are the cash method and the accrual method. Under the cash method, you normally report income in the year that you receive it and deduct expenses in the year that you pay them. Under the accrual method, you generally report income in the year that you earn it and deduct expenses in the year that you incur them. This is true even if you recei ve the income or pay the expenses in a future year.
  5. Employee Health Care. The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit helps small businesses and tax-exempt organizations pay for health care coverage they offer their employees. A small employer is eligible for the credit if it has fewer than 25 employees who work full-time, or a combination of full-time and part-time. Beginning in 2014, the maximum credit is 50 percent of premiums paid for small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid for small tax-exempt employers, such as charities.

For 2015 and after, employers employing at least a certain number of employees (generally 50 full-time employees or a combination of full-time and part-time employees that is equivalent to 50 full-time employees) will be subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility provision.

Get all the tax basics of starting a business on IRS.gov at the Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center.

Additional IRS Resources:

 

This message was distributed automatically from the IRS Tax Tips mailing list. For more information on federal taxes please visit IRS.gov.

Six Tips for People Who Owe Taxes

While most people get a refund from the IRS when they file their taxes, some do not. If you owe federal taxes, the IRS has several ways for you to pay. Here are six tips for people who owe taxes:

  1. Pay your tax bill. If you get a bill from the IRS, you’ll save money by paying it as soon as you can. If you can’t pay it in full, you should pay as much as you can. That will reduce the interest and penalties charged for late payment. You should think about using a credit card or getting a loan to pay the amount you owe.
  2. Use IRS Direct Pay. The best way to pay your taxes is with the IRS Direct Pay tool. It’s the safe, easy and free way to pay from your checking or savings account. The tool walks you through five simple steps to pay your tax in one online session. Just click on the ‘Pay Your Tax Bill’ icon on the IRS home page.
  3. Get a short-term extension to pay. You may qualify for extra time to pay your taxes if you can pay in full in 120 days or less. You can apply online at IRS.gov. If you received a bill from the IRS you can also call the phone number listed on it. If you don’t have a bill, call 800-829-1040 for help. There is usually no set-up fee for a short-term extension.
  4. Apply for a monthly payment plan. If you owe $50,000 or less and need more time to pay, you can apply for an Online Payment Agreement on IRS.gov. A direct debit payment plan is your best option. This plan is the lower-cost, hassle-free way to pay. The set-up fee is less than other plans. There are no reminders, no missed payments and no checks to write and mail. You can also use Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, to apply. For more about payment plan options visit IRS.gov.
  5. Consider an Offer in Compromise. An Offer in Compromise lets you settle your tax debt for less than the full amount that you owe. An OIC may be an option if you can’t pay your tax in full. It may also apply if full payment will cause a financial hardship. You can use the OIC Pre-Qualifier tool to see if you qualify. It will also tell you what a reasonable offer might be.
  6. Change your withholding or estimated tax. You may be able to avoid owing the IRS in the future by having more taxes withheld from your pay. Do this by filing a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, with your employer. The IRS Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov can help you fill out a new W-4. If you have income that’s not subject to withholding you may need to make estimated tax payments. We can calculate withholding & estimates for you…it’s what we do!

*This message was distributed automatically from the IRS Tax Tips mailing list.


Need some advice for your specific tax situation? Our team of Certified Public Accountants will be happy to help! We also specialize in financial planning & retirement planning. Email us or contact our office to make an appointment.

Email: info@mccpas.com     Phone: (913)239-9130

Top Ten Tax Facts if You Sell Your Home

Do you know that if you sell your home and make a profit, the gain may not be taxable? That’s just one key tax rule that you should know. Here are ten facts to keep in mind if you sell your home this year.

1. If you have a capital gain on the sale of your home, you may be able to exclude your gain from tax. This rule may apply if you owned and used it as your main home for at least two out of the five years before the date of sale.

2. There are exceptions to the ownership and use rules. Some exceptions apply to persons with a disability. Some apply to certain members of the military and certain government and Peace Corps workers. For details see Publication 523, Selling Your Home.

3. The most gain you can exclude is $250,000. This limit is $500,000 for joint returns. The Net Investment Income Tax will not apply to the excluded gain.

4. If the gain is not taxable, you may not need to report the sale to the IRS on your tax return.

5. You must report the sale on your tax return if you can’t exclude all or part of the gain. And you must report the sale if you choose not to claim the exclusion. That’s also true if you get Form 1099-S, Proceeds From Real Estate Transactions. If you report the sale you should review the Questions and Answers on the Net Investment Income Tax on IRS.gov.

6. Generally, you can exclude the gain from the sale of your main home only once every two years.

7. If you own more than one home, you may only exclude the gain on the sale of your main home. Your main home usually is the home that you live in most of the time.

8. If you claimed the first-time homebuyer credit when you bought the home, special rules apply to the sale. For more on those rules see Publication 523.

9. If you sell your main home at a loss, you can’t deduct it.

10. After you sell your home and move, be sure to give your new address to the IRS. You can send the IRS a completed Form 8822, Change of Address, to do this.

Important note about the Premium Tax Credit. If you receive advance payment of the Premium Tax Credit in 2014 it is important that you report changes in circumstances, such as changes in your income or fami ly size, to your Health Insurance Marketplace. You should also notify the Marketplace when you move out of the area covered by your current Marketplace plan. Advance payments of the premium tax credit provide financial assistance to help you pay for the insurance you buy through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Reporting changes will help you get the proper type and amount of financial assistance so you can avoid getting too much or too little in advance.

For more on the sale of a home see Publication 523 on IRS.gov. You can call 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) to get it by mail.

 

This message was distributed automatically from the IRS Tax Tips mailing list. For more information on federal taxes please visit IRS.gov.

A Summer Adjustment Can Prevent a Tax-Time Surprise

When it comes to filing a federal tax return, many people discover that they either get a larger refund or owe more tax than they expected. But this type of tax surprise doesn’t have to happen to you. One way to prevent it is to change the amount of tax withheld from your wages. You can also change the amount of estimated tax you pay. Here are some tips to help you bring the amount of tax that you pay in during the year closer to what you’ll actually owe:

  • New Job. When you start a new job, you must fill out a Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. Your employer will use the form to figure the amount of federal income tax to withhold from your pay. Use the IRS Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov to help you fill out the form. This tool is easy to use and it’s available 24/7.

    •    Estimated Tax.  If you get income that’s not subject to withholding you may need to pay estimated tax. This may include income such as self-employment, interest, dividends or rent. If you expect to owe a thousand dollars or more in tax, and meet other conditions, you may need to pay this tax. You normally pay it four times a year. Use the worksheet in Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, to figure the tax.

    •    Life Events.  Make sure you change your Form W-4 or change the amount of estimated tax you pay when certain life events take place. A change in your marital status, the birth of a child or buying a new home can change the amount of taxes you owe. You can usually submit a new Form W–4 anytime.

    •    Changes in Circumstances. If you receive advance payment of the premium tax credit in 2014 it is important that you report changes in circumstances, such as changes in your income or family size, to your Health Insurance Marketplace. You should also notify the Marketplace when you move out of the area covered by your current Marketplace plan. Advance payments of the premium tax credit provide financial assistance to help you pay for the insurance you buy through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Reporting changes will help you get the proper type and amount of financial assistance so you can avoid getting too much or too little in advance.

For more see Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax. You can get it on IRS.gov, or call 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) to get it by mail.

 

This message was distributed automatically from the IRS Tax Tips mailing list. For more information on federal taxes please visit IRS.gov.

What You Didn’t Know About 529 Plans

The cost of higher education continues to rise each year, making it challenging for families to manage this financial burden. Fortunately, all states as well as a consortium of private institutions offer education plans to enable families to save for higher education on a tax-advantaged basis. Even though these plans have been around for nearly two decades, there continues to be confusion about some issues. Here are answers to some questions we received from readers about 529 plans.
 

What boundaries apply?
In determining whether you are limited to investing within a particular state, first understand whether you are using a prepaid tuition plan or a savings plan; both are 529 plans.

  • Prepaid tuition plan. In this plan, you prefund the cost of tuition at a public college or university within your state. If your child goes to a private school or out of state, you receive what you’ve paid for, which will likely cover only part of the tuition at your child’s school. Note: If you are using the 529 tuition plan created by private institutions, your state of residence is irrelevant; your child can prepay tuition at any of the more than 270 private colleges and universities within the consortium (see https://www.privatecollege529.com/OFI529).
  • Savings plan. With this option, you have available what you contributed plus the earnings on it (which may vary depending on the success of your investments). There are usually no boundaries for selecting a plan; state residency is not required. For example, if you are in New York, you can use a plan from California (even if your child eventually goes to a school in Illinois). However, the choice of a plan may be impacted by tax incentives (discussed below).

There are no restrictions on having accounts in multiple states. In fact, technically there is no requirement that states count plans in other states when applying their contribution limits.

How can contributions be made?
Contributions must be made in cash. Contributions in property, such as stock, are not permissible.

Who can make contributions?
Contributors to 529 plans are not limited to parents. Anyone, such as a great grandparent, can set up and make contributions. A beneficiary can have multiple 529 plans (e.g., one set up by parents and another by grandparents).

Because there is no age limit for accumulating funds within the plan, an individual can set up a plan for him/herself. Thus, someone who is working and anticipates going to graduate school could squirrel money into a 529 plan for personal use.

What are the tax breaks for making contributions?
There is no federal income tax deduction or credit for making contributions. However, a number of states offer tax incentives for contributing to their plans by residents.

While there is no federal tax break for putting money into the plan, earnings are tax deferred. Withdrawals to pay for qualified education costs are tax free. Thus, if the plan is fully tapped out to pay for the beneficiary’s college tuition, the earnings are never taxed.

How does the 529 impact financial aid?
Assets in a 529 plan are assessed at a rate of 5.64% (the parental contribution rate) in determining a student’s expected family contribution (EFC). Thus, eligibility is decreased by no more than 5.64% of the value of assets in the plan.

Conclusion
529 plans offer considerable tax and financial advantages in saving for college. But be sure to understand the rules and select the best plan for your objectives.

 

See original post from JK Lasser here:  http://www.jklasser.com

Travel Expenses That May Lower Your Taxes!

Tips on Travel While Giving to Charity

Do you plan to donate your services to charity this summer? Will you travel as part of the service? If so, some travel expenses may help lower your taxes when you file your tax return next year. Here are five tax tips you should know if you travel while giving your services to charity.

1. You can’t deduct the value of your services that you give to charity. But you may be able to deduct some out-of-pocket costs you pay to give your services. This can include the cost of travel. All out-of pocket costs must be:

  • unreimbursed,
  • directly connected with the services,
  • expenses you had only because of the services you gave, and
  • not personal, living or family expenses.

2. Your volunteer work must be for a qualified charity. Most groups other than churches and governments must apply to the IRS to become qualified. Ask the group about its IRS status before you donate. You can also use the Select Check tool on IRS.gov to check the group’s status.

3. Some types of travel do not qualify for a tax deduction. For example, you can’t deduct your costs if a significant part of the trip involves recreation or a vacation. For more on these rules see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.

4. You can deduct your travel expenses if your work is real and substantial throughout the trip. You can’t deduct expenses if you only have nominal duties or do not have any duties for significant parts of the trip.

5. Deductible travel expenses may include:

  • air, rail and bus transportation,
  • car expenses,
  • lodging costs,
  • the cost of meals, and
  • taxi or other transportation costs between the airport or station and your hotel.

For more see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions. You can get it on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

 

This message was distributed automatically from the IRS Tax Tips mailing list. For more information on federal taxes please visit IRS.gov.

Avoid Summertime Tax Scams

Ah, summertime! Warm days, rest and recreation and…tax scams. Thieves don’t stop victimizing unsuspecting taxpayers with their scams after April 15. Identity theft, phone and phishing scams happen year-round. Those three top the IRS’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of tax scams this year. Here’s some important information you should know about these common tax scams:

  1. Identity Theft. Identity thieves steal personal and financial information to commit fraud or other crimes. This can include your Social Security number or bank information. An identity thief may file a phony tax return to claim a fraudulent refund.

The IRS has a special identity protection page on IRS.gov. It has many resources you can use to reduce your risk of becoming a victim. The page can also tell you what steps to take if you are a victim of identity theft and need help. This includes how and when you should contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit.

  1. Phone Scams. In these scams, thieves pose as the IRS and call would-be victims with one goal in mind: to steal their money. Callers will tell you that you owe taxes and demand immediate payment. They will tell you that you must pay the bogus tax bill with a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. The callers are often abusive and threaten arrest or deportation. They may know the last four digits of your Social Security number. They also rig caller ID to falsely show that the call is from the IRS.

Keep in mind that if a person owes taxes, the IRS will first contact them by mail, not by phone. The IRS doesn’t ask for payment with a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. If you owe, or think you might owe federal taxes and you get one of these calls, hang up. Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. The IRS will work with you to pay what you owe. If you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

  1. Phishing Scams. Criminals use the IRS as bait in a phishing scam. Scammers typically send emails that purport to come from the IRS. They often lure their targets with a false promise of a refund or the threat of an audit. They may also set up a phony website that looks like the real IRS.gov. These phony sites often have the IRS seal and other graphics to make them appear official. Their goal is to get their victim to reveal personal and financial information. They use the information they get to steal identities and commit fraud.

The IRS doesn’t contact people by email about their tax account. Nor does the agency use email, social media, texting or fax to initiate contact or ask for personal or financial information. If you get an email like this, do not click on a link or open any attachments. You should instead forward it to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov. For more on this topic visit IRS.gov and select the ‘Reporting Phishing’ link at the bottom of the page.

Don’t let tax scams take the fun out of your summer. Be alert to phone and phishing email scams that use the IRS as a lure. Visit the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov, for more on what you can do to avoid becoming a victim and how to report tax fraud.

 

This message was distributed automatically from the IRS Tax Tips mailing list. For more information on federal taxes please visit IRS.gov.

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