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Small business taxation, corporate tax rates, and changes to popular deductions are just some of the many complex changes to the Tax Code being debated in Congress. At the time this article was posted, the Senate is expected to approve, along party-lines, a sweeping overhaul of the Tax Code written by Senate Republicans. The House has already approved its tax bill, also along party-lines. If the Senate passes a tax bill, House and Senate conferees will seek to resolve differences between the two bills. Conferees will likely aim to reach an agreement quickly to send a bill to the White House before year-end.


As an economic incentive for individuals to save and invest, gains from the sale of capital assets held for at least one year unless offset by losses, as well qualified dividends received during the year, may be taxed at rates lower than ordinary income tax rates. The tax rate on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends for individuals is 20 percent, 15, percent, or 0 percent depending on their income tax bracket.


Information reporting has become a growing part of IRS’s enforcement and compliance strategy. Data matching, or even the inference that the IRS has the data to do so, statistically has increased overall income reporting nine-fold. Use of information returns, either in the form of Forms W-2, 1098s or 1099s, is here to stay, and growing.


Life insurance proceeds are received tax-free. However, any interest earned on life insurance proceeds, usually referred to as its cash value, is subject to tax. Special rules apply to transfers of ownership in a life insurance policy, accelerated death benefits, and viatical settlements.


The method and systems by which a taxpayer calculates the amount of income, gains, losses, deductions, and credits and determines when these items must be reported, constitute the taxpayer's method of tax accounting. Although the Tax Code and the regulations authorize the use of several accounting methods, and permit certain combinations of methods, a taxpayer must use the accounting method on the basis of which the taxpayer regularly computes book income. Further, the method must be used consistently and must clearly reflect income.


As an individual or business, it is your responsibility to be aware of and to meet your tax filing/reporting deadlines. This calendar summarizes important federal tax reporting and filing data for individuals, businesses and other taxpayers for the month of December 2017.


Congress ended 2016 passing a few targeted tax bills and lawmakers focused on the incoming Trump administration and tax reform in 2017. President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on tax cuts for individuals and businesses. Already, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are preparing for what is expected to be spirited debate over tax cuts in 2017.


The IRS has released the 2017 optional standard mileage rates that employees, self-employed individuals, and other taxpayers can use to compute deductible costs of operating automobiles (including vans, pickups and panel trucks) for business, medical, moving and charitable purposes. The updated rates are effective for deductible transportation expenses paid or incurred on or after January 1, 2017, and for mileage allowances or reimbursements paid to, or transportation expenses paid or incurred by, an employee or a charitable volunteer on or after January 1, 2017.


A new year may find a number of individuals with the pressing urge to take stock, clean house and become a bit more organized. With such a desire to declutter, a taxpayer may want to undergo a housecleaning of documents, receipts and papers that he or she may have stored over the years in the event of an IRS audit. Year to year, fears of an audit for claims for tax deductions, allowances and credits may have led to the accumulation of a number of tax related documents—many of which may no longer need to be kept.


One month after the presidential election, taxpayers are learning more about President-elect Donald Trump’s tax proposals for his administration. Although exact details, including legislative language, are likely months away, taxpayers have a snapshot of the president-elect’s tax proposals for individuals and businesses.


With the soaring cost of college tuition rising on a yearly basis, tax-free tuition gifts to children and grandchildren can help them afford such an expensive endeavor, as well as save the generous taxpayers in gift and generation skipping taxes. Under federal law, tuition payments that are made directly to an educational institution on behalf of a student are not considered to be taxable gifts, regardless of how large, or small, the payment may be.


Under Code Sec. 469, passive losses can only be used to offset passive income. Taxpayers who have losses from a passive activity cannot use losses from a passive activity to offset nonpassive income, such as wages. A passive activity generally is an activity in which a taxpayer does not “materially participate.” Passive losses that cannot be deducted must be carried over to a future year, where they can offset newly generated passive income.


An S election is made by a small business corporation with the consent of its shareholders. Both the corporation and its shareholders must precisely follow the S election requirements or the election will not be valid.


An S corporation can own an interest in another business entity. It can also be a partner in a partnership or a member of a limited liability company (LLC). An S corporation can own 80 percent or more of the stock of a C corporation, which can elect to join in the filing of a consolidated return with its affiliated C corporations. However, an S corporation is ineligible to be a member of the affiliated group and to join in the election to file a consolidated return.


Whether for a day, a week or longer, many of the costs associated with business trips may be tax-deductible. The tax code includes a myriad of rules designed to prevent abuses of tax-deductible business travel. One concern is that taxpayers will disguise personal trips as business trips. However, there are times when taxpayers can include some personal activities along with business travel and not run afoul of the IRS.

With the holidays quickly approaching, you as an employer may not only be wondering what type of gift to give your employees this season, but the tax consequences of the particular gift you choose. The form of gift that you give this holiday season not only has tax consequences for your employees, but for your business as well. If you plan on giving your employees a gift that can be basted or baked this holiday season, such as a traditional turkey or ham, you should understand how that gift will be treated by the IRS for tax purposes.

If you use your car for business purposes, you may have learned that keeping track and properly logging the variety of expenses you incur for tax purposes is not always easy. Practically speaking, how often and how you choose to track expenses associated with the business use of your car depends on your personality; whether you are a meticulous note-taker or you simply abhor recordkeeping. However, by taking a few minutes each day in your car to log your expenses, you may be able to write-off a larger percentage of your business-related automobile costs.

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Long-term care premiums are deductible up to certain amounts as itemized medical expense deductions. The amount is based upon your age. Unfortunately, most taxpayers do not have enough other medical expense deductions to exceed the non-deductible portion equal to the first 7 ½ percent of adjusted gross income (10 percent if you are subject to alternative minimum tax (AMT)). Furthermore, more taxpayers now take the standard deduction rather than itemize, making even those medical expenses useless as a tax deduction.

Under the so-called "kiddie tax," a minor under the age of 19 (or a student under the age of 24) who has certain unearned income exceeding a threshold amount will have the excess taxed at his or her parents' highest marginal tax rate. The "kiddie tax" is intended to prevent parents from sheltering income through their children.

A taxpayer's expenses incurred due to travel outside of the United States for business activities are deductible, but under a stricter set of rules than domestic travel. Foreign travel expenses may be subject to special allocation rules if a taxpayer engages in personal activities while traveling on business. Expenses subject to allocation include travel fares, meals, lodging, and other expenses incident to travel.

These days, both individuals and businesses buy goods, services, even food on-line. Credit card payments and other bills are paid over the internet, from the comfort of one's home or office and without any trip to the mailbox or post office.

If you own a vacation home, you may be considering whether renting the property for some of the time could come with big tax breaks. More and more vacation homeowners are renting their property. But while renting your vacation home can help defray costs and provide certain tax benefits, it also may raise some complex tax issues.

Fringe benefits have not only become an important component of employee compensation, they also have a large financial impact on an employer's business. Fringe benefits are non-compensation benefits provided by an employer to employees. Unless they fall within one of the specific categories of tax-exempt fringe benefits, however, are taxable to employees.

In order to be tax deductible, compensation must be a reasonable payment for services. Smaller companies, whose employees frequently hold significant ownership interests, are particularly vulnerable to IRS attack on their compensation deductions.


Non-cash incentive awards, such as merchandise from a local retailer given to its employees or vacation trips offered to the employee team member who contributes the most to a special project, are a form of supplemental wages and are subject to most of the reporting and withholding requirements of other forms of compensation that employees receive. There are, however, special rules for calculating and timing withholding, as well as exceptions for de minimis awards and "length of service" awards.

Although you may want your traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to keep accumulating tax-free well into your old age, the IRS sets certain deadlines. The price for getting an upfront deduction when contributing to a traditional IRA (or having a rollover IRA) is that Uncle Sam eventually starts taxing it once you reach 70½. The required minimum distribution (RMD) rules under the Internal Revenue Code accomplish that.

No, taxpayers may destroy the original hardcopy of books and records and the original computerized records detailing the expenses of a business if they use an electronic storage system.

Generally, if you do volunteer work for a charity, you are not entitled to deduct the cost of services you perform for the charity. However, if in connection with the volunteer work you incur out-of-pocket expenses, you may be entitled to deduct some of those expenses.


The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) allows individuals and businesses to make tax payments by telephone, personal computer or through the Internet.


New IRS rules substantially simplify the computation of required minimum distributions (RMDs). In addition, Congress has forced the IRS to adopt new life expectancy tables that reflect longer life expectancies, resulting in distributions to be made over a longer time-period and for the RMD to be smaller than would have been required in previous years. You could realize some significant tax savings.

Making gifts is a useful, and often overlooked, tax strategy. However, when thinking about whether to make a gift, or gifts, to your children or other minors, the tax consequences must be evaluated very carefully. Many times, though, the tax consequences can be beneficial and lower your tax bill.


More small businesses can use the taxpayer-friendly cash method of accounting. Final rules from the IRS may allow as many as 500,000 businesses to benefit from this important change.


Is a property transfer to your child or other minor a possible event on your horizon? If it is, just don't cover yourself on the tax consequences of such transfers. There are important legal considerations over and above the transfer's tax impact.

Q. My husband and I have a housekeeper come in to clean once a week; and someone watches our children for about 10 hours over the course of each week to free up our time for chores. Are there any tax problems here that we are missing?


How much am I really worth? This is a question that has run through most of our minds at one time or another. However, if you aren't an accountant or mathematician, it may seem like an impossible number to figure out. The good news is that, using a simple step format, you can compute your net worth in no time at all.


Dual-income families are commonplace these days, however, some couples are discovering that their second income may not be worth the added aggravation and effort. After taking into consideration daycare expenses, commuting expenses, the countless take-out meals, and additional clothing costs, many are surprised at how much (or how little) of that second income is actually hitting their bank account.


Keeping the family business in the family upon the death or retirement of the business owner is not as easy as one would think. In fact, almost 30% of all family businesses never successfully pass to the next generation. What many business owners do not know is that many problems can be avoided by developing a sound business succession plan in advance.


Probably one of the more difficult decisions you will have to make as a consumer is whether to buy or lease your auto. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of buying vs. leasing a new car or truck before you get to the car dealership can ease the decision-making process and may alleviate unpleasant surprises later.


Q. I've just started my own business and am having a hard time deciding whether I should buy or lease the equipment I need before I open my doors. What are some of the things I should consider when making this decision?


Q. Our daughter is entering college and we're considering seeking financial aid to help with tuition expenses. My spouse and I have always made the maximum contributions to our IRA accounts. Will our IRA accounts effect our child's ability to get financial aid for college costs? Should we hold off on this year's IRA contributions?


The benefits of owning a vacation home can go beyond rest and relaxation. Understanding the special rules related to the tax treatment of vacation homes can not only help you with your tax planning, but may also help you plan your vacation.


As parents, we all know that preparing a reasonable budget and sticking to it is a basic principle of good financial planning. By assisting college-bound students in developing and maintaining their own budget, parents can help students make ends meet during their college years while helping them develop good money management skills they'll use for the rest of their lives.


Maintaining good financial records is an important part of running a successful business. Not only will good records help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your business' operations, but they will also help out tremendously if the IRS comes knocking on your door.


After your tax returns have been filed, several questions arise: What do you do with the stack of paperwork? What should you keep? What should you throw away? Will you ever need any of these documents again? Fortunately, recent tax provisions have made it easier for you to part with some of your tax-related clutter.


I have a car that I would like to donate to my church. Can I just claim the amount shown as the value of the car per the Kelly Blue Book (about $6,500) on Schedule A of Form 1040?

The decision to start your own business comes with many other important decisions. One of the first tasks you will encounter is choosing the legal form of your new business. There are quite a few choices of legal entities, each with their own advantages and disadvantages that must be taken into consideration along with your own personal tax situation.