Tips for Taxpayers Who Owe Taxes

Tips for Taxpayers Who Owe Taxes

TAX PROBLEMS – While most taxpayers get a refund from the IRS when they file their taxes, some do not. The IRS offers several payment options for those who owe taxes.

Here are eight tips for those who owe federal taxes.
1. Tax bill payments. If you get a bill from the IRS this summer, you should pay it as soon as possible to save money. You can pay by check, money order, cashier’s check or cash. If you cannot pay it all, consider getting a loan to pay the bill in full. The interest rate for a loan may be less than the interest and penalties the IRS must charge by law.
2. Electronic Funds Transfer. It’s easy to pay your tax bill by electronic funds transfer. Just visit IRS.gov and use the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.
3. Credit or debit card payments. You can also pay your tax bill with a credit or debit card. Even though the card company may charge an extra fee for a tax payment, the costs of using a credit or debit card may be less than the cost of an IRS payment plan.
4. More time to pay. You may qualify for a short-term agreement to pay your taxes. This may apply if you can fully pay your taxes in 120 days or less. You can request it through the Online Payment Agreement application at IRS.gov. You may also call the IRS at the number listed on the last notice you received. If you can’t find the notice, call 800-829-1040 for help. There is generally no set-up fee for a short-term agreement.
5. Installment Agreement. If you can’t pay in full at one time and can’t get a loan, you may want to apply for a monthly payment plan. If you owe $50,000 or less, you can apply using the IRS Online Payment Agreement application. It’s quick and easy. If approved, IRS will notify you immediately. You can arrange to make your payments by direct debit. This type of payment plan helps avoid missed payments and may help avoid a tax lien that would damage your credit.
6. Offer in Compromise. The IRS Offer-in-Compromise program allows you to settle your tax debt for less than the full amount you owe. An OIC may be an option if you can’t fully pay your taxes through an installment agreement or other payment alternative. The IRS may accept an OIC if the amount offered represents the most IRS can expect to collect within a reasonable time. Use the OIC Pre-Qualifier tool to see if you may be eligible before you apply. The tool will also direct you to other options if an OIC is not right for you.
7. Fresh Start. If you’re struggling to pay your taxes, the IRS Fresh Start initiative may help you. Fresh Start makes it easier for individual and small business taxpayers to pay back taxes and avoid tax liens.
8. Check withholding. You may be able to avoid owing taxes in future years by increasing the taxes your employer withholds from your pay. To do this, file a revised Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, with your employer. The IRS Withholding Calculator tool at IRS.gov can help you fill out a new W-4.

For more information about payment options or IRS’s Fresh Start program, contact us today to get a free consultation!
ABA Tax Accounting
651-621-5777 or (763) 269-5396
info@abataxaccounting.com
http://abataxaccounting.com/incometaxserviceforindividuals.php
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Published in: on August 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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IRS Highlights Simplified Option for Home Office Deduction

Tax Strategies For Business Owners – Do you work from home? If so, you may be familiar with the home office deduction, available for taxpayers who use their home for business. Beginning this year, there is a new, simpler option to figure the business use of your home.

This simplified option does not change the rules for who may claim a home office deduction. It merely simplifies the calculation and recordkeeping requirements. The new option can save you a lot of time and will require less paperwork and recordkeeping.

Here are six facts the IRS wants you to know about the new, simplified method to claim the home office deduction.

1. You may use the simplified method when you file your 2013 tax return next year. If you use this method to claim the home office deduction, you will not need to calculate your deduction based on actual expenses. You may instead multiply the square footage of your home office by a prescribed rate.

2. The rate is $5 per square foot of the part of your home used for business. The maximum footage allowed is 300 square feet. This means the most you can deduct using the new method is $1,500 per year.

3. You may choose either the simplified method or the actual expense method for any tax year. Once you use a method for a specific tax year, you cannot later change to the other method for that same year.

4. If you use the simplified method and you own your home, you cannot depreciate your home office. You can still deduct other qualified home expenses, such as mortgage interest and real estate taxes. You will not need to allocate these expenses between personal and business use. This allocation is required if you use the actual expense method. You’ll claim these deductions on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions.

5. You can still fully deduct business expenses that are unrelated to the home if you use the simplified method. These may include costs such as advertising, supplies and wages paid to employees.

6. If you use more than one home with a qualified home office in the same year, you can use the simplified method for only one in that year. However, you may use the simplified method for one and actual expenses for any others in that year.

Considering a Tax Professional? For no obligation free consultation about home office deductions contact us today!
ABA Tax Accounting
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Published in: on July 30, 2013 at 3:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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NET INVESTMENT INCOME TAX: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Income Tax Service For Small Businesses – Now that the 2012 tax season is over, it’s time to focus on tax planning for 2013. One of the most significant tax changes this year is the Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT), which went into effect on January 1, 2013 as a result of health care reform enacted in 2010. Here’s what you need to know.

WHAT IS THE NET INVESTMENT INCOME TAX?
The Net Investment Income Tax is a 3.8% tax on certain net investment income of individuals, estates, and trusts with income above statutory threshold amounts, referred to as modified adjusted gross income (MAGI).

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN NET INVESTMENT INCOME?
In general, investment income includes, but is not limited to: interest, dividends, long and short term capital gains, rental and royalty income, non-qualified annuities, income from businesses involved in trading of financial instruments or commodities, and passive business activities such as rental income or income derived from royalties.

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED IN NET INVESTMENT INCOME?
Wages, unemployment compensation, operating income from a nonpassive business, Social Security Benefits, alimony, tax-exempt interest, self-employment income, Alaska Permanent Fund Dividends, and distributions from certain Qualified Plans are not included in net investment income.

INDIVIDUALS
Individuals whose modified adjusted gross income exceeds $250,000 (married filing jointly) or $200,000 (single filers) are taxed at a flat rate of 3.8% on investment income. Net Investment Income Tax is paid in addition to other taxes owed and threshold amounts (e.g. $200,000 for single filers) are not indexed for inflation.

Non-resident aliens are not subject to the tax; however, if a non-resident alien is married to a US citizen and is planning to file as a resident alien for the purposes of filing “married filing jointly” tax return, there are special rules. Please consult us if you have any questions.

Because investment income is generally not subject to withholding, taxpayers should be aware that the NIIT might affect tax liability for the 2013 tax year. In addition, it’s possible that even lower income taxpayers not meeting the threshold amounts could be subject to the tax if they receive a windfall such as a one-time sale of assets that bumps their MAGI up high enough.

Give us a call if you are expecting a windfall this year. We’ll help you come up with a strategy such as an installment sale, minimizing AGI, or figuring out the best timing for sale, that will help you to avoid or minimize taxes when you file your 2013 return next year.

SALE OF A HOME
The Net Investment Income Tax does not apply to any amount of gain excluded from gross income for regular income tax purposes ($250,000 for single filers and $500,000 for a married couple) on the sale of a principal residence. In other words, only the taxable part of any gain on the sale of a home has the potential to be subject to NIIT, providing the taxpayer’s income is over the MAGI threshold amount.

ESTATES AND TRUSTS
Estates and Trusts are subject to the Net Investment Income Tax if they have undistributed net investment income and also have adjusted gross income over the dollar amount at which the highest tax bracket for an estate or trust begins for such taxable year. In 2013, this threshold amount is $11,950.

Special rules apply for certain unique types of trusts such a Charitable Remainder Trusts and Electing Small Business Trusts, and some trusts, including “Grantor Trusts” and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) are not subject to NIIT at all.

It should be noted that non-qualified dividends generated by investments in a REIT are considered taxable income and taxed at ordinary tax rates. As such, they may be subject to the Net Investment Income Tax.

If you need guidance on the topic of Net Investment Income Tax and estates and trusts, don’t hesitate to call us.

REPORTING AND PAYING THE NET INVESTMENT INCOME TAX
Individual taxpayers should report (and pay) the tax on Form 1040. Estates and Trusts report (and pay) the tax on Form 1041.

Individuals, estates, and trusts that expect to pay estimated taxes in 2013 should adjust their income tax withholding or estimated payments to account for the tax increase in order to avoid underpayment penalties. For employed individuals, NIIT is not withheld from wages; however, you may request that additional income tax be withheld. Call us if you need assistance with this.

Wondering how the new tax affects you? Give us a call. It’s never too early to start tax planning!
ABA Tax Accounting
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Published in: on June 10, 2013 at 5:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Facts about Mortgage Debt Forgiveness

Facts about Mortgage Debt Forgiveness
If your lender cancelled or forgave your mortgage debt, you generally have to pay tax on that amount. But there are exceptions to this rule for some homeowners who had mortgage debt forgiven in 2012.
Here are 10 key facts from the IRS about mortgage debt forgiveness:
1. Cancelled debt normally results in taxable income. However, you may be able to exclude the cancelled debt from your income if the debt was a mortgage on your main home.
2. To qualify, you must have used the debt to buy, build or substantially improve your principal residence. The residence must also secure the mortgage.
3. The maximum qualified debt that you can exclude under this exception is $2 million. The limit is $1 million for a married person who files a separate tax return.
4. You may be able to exclude from income the amount of mortgage debt reduced through mortgage restructuring. You may also be able to exclude mortgage debt cancelled in a foreclosure.
5. You may also qualify for the exclusion on a refinanced mortgage. This applies only if you used proceeds from the refinancing to buy, build or substantially improve your main home. The exclusion is limited to the amount of the old mortgage principal just before the refinancing.
6. Proceeds of refinanced mortgage debt used for other purposes do not qualify for the exclusion. For example, debt used to pay off credit card debt does not qualify.
7. If you qualify, report the excluded debt on Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness. Submit the completed form with your federal income tax return.
8. Other types of cancelled debt do not qualify for this special exclusion. This includes debt cancelled on second homes, rental and business property, credit cards or car loans. In some cases, other tax relief provisions may apply, such as debts discharged in certain bankruptcy proceedings. Form 982 provides more details about these provisions.
9. If your lender reduced or cancelled at least $600 of your mortgage debt, they normally send you a statement in January of the next year. Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, shows the amount of cancelled debt and the fair market value of any foreclosed property.
10. Check your Form 1099-C for the cancelled debt amount shown in Box 2, and the value of your home shown in Box 7. Notify the lender immediately of any incorrect information so they can correct the form.
For no obligation free consultations if your cancelled debt is taxable contact us today!
Aba Tax Accounting
Amare Berhie, Enrolled Agent
Amare@Abataxaccounting.Com
612-282-3200 Toll Free866-936-0430
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Published in: on March 14, 2013 at 11:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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The mortgage forgiveness debt relief act and debt cancellation

If you owe a debt to someone else and they cancel or forgive that debt, the canceled amount may be taxable.

The mortgage debt relief act of 2007 generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal residence. Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure, qualifies for the relief.

This provision applies to debt forgiven in calendar years 2007 through 2012. Up to $2 million of forgiven debt is eligible for this exclusion ($1 million if married filing separately). The exclusion does not apply if the discharge is due to services performed for the lender or any other reason not directly related to a decline in the home’s value or the taxpayer’s financial condition. For no obligation free consultation contact us today!

Aba Tax Accounting

Amare Berhie, Enrolled Agent

Amare@Abataxaccounting.Com

612-282-3200 Toll Free866-936-0430

http://www.abataxaccounting.com

www.abatax81.blogspot.com

www.abataxaccounting.wordpress.com

Published in: on March 5, 2013 at 5:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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Child Tax Credit can save you Money

Federal, State, Local and International Taxes – If you have a child under age 17, the Child Tax Credit may save you money at tax-time. Here are some facts the IRS wants you to know about the credit.

  • Amount.  The non-refundable Child Tax Credit may help reduce your federal income tax by up to $1,000 for each qualifying child you claim on your return.
  • Qualifications.  For this credit, a qualifying child must pass seven tests:
  1. Age test.  The child must have been under age 17 at the end of 2012.
  2. Relationship test.  The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, or stepsister. A child may also be a descendant of any of these individuals, including your grandchild, niece or nephew. You would always treat an adopted child as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.
  3. Support test.  The child must not have provided more than half of their own support for the year.
  4. Dependent test.  You must claim the child as a dependent on your federal tax return.
  5. Joint return test.  The child cannot file a joint return for the year, unless the only reason they are filing is to claim a refund.
  6. Citizenship test.  The child must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or U.S. resident alien.
  7. Residence test.  In most cases, the child must have lived with you for more than half of 2012.
  • Limitations.  The Child Tax Credit is subject to income limitations, and may be reduced or eliminated depending on your filing status and income.
  • Additional Child Tax Credit.  If you qualify and get less than the full Child Tax Credit, you could receive a refund even if you owe no tax with the refundable Additional Child Tax Credit.

Considering a Tax Professional? For no obligation free consultation contact us today!

ABA Tax Accounting

Amare Berhie, Senior Tax Accountant

amare@abataxaccounting.com

612-282-3200 Toll Free866-936-0430

http://www.abataxaccounting.com

www.abatax81.blogspot.com

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Published in: on February 21, 2013 at 3:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Taxable and Nontaxable Income

Federal, State, Local and International Taxes – Most types of income are taxable, but some are not. Income can include money, property or services that you receive. Here are some examples of income that are usually not taxable:

  • Child support payments;
  • Gifts, bequests and inheritances;
  • Welfare benefits;
  • Damage awards for physical injury or sickness;
  • Cash rebates from a dealer or manufacturer for an item you buy; and
  • Reimbursements for qualified adoption expenses.

Some income is not taxable except under certain conditions. Examples include:

  • Life insurance proceeds paid to you because of an insured person’s death are usually not taxable. However, if you redeem a life insurance policy for cash, any amount that is more than the cost of the policy is taxable.
  • Income you get from a qualified scholarship is normally not taxable. Amounts you use for certain costs, such as tuition and required course books, are not taxable. However, amounts used for room and board are taxable.

All income, such as wages and tips, is taxable unless the law specifically excludes it. This includes non-cash income from bartering – the exchange of property or services. Both parties must include the fair market value of goods or services received as income on their tax return.

 

If you received a refund, credit or offset of state or local income taxes in 2012, you may be required to report this amount. If you did not receive a 2012 Form 1099-G, check with the government agency that made the payments to you. That agency may have made the form available only in an electronic format. You will need to get instructions from the agency to retrieve this document. Report any taxable refund you received even if you did not receive Form 1099-G.

 

Considering a Tax Professional? For no obligation free consultation contact us today!

ABA Tax Accounting

Amare Berhie, Senior Tax Accountant

amare@abataxaccounting.com

612-282-3200 Toll Free866-936-0430

http://www.abataxaccounting.com

www.abatax81.blogspot.com

www.abataxaccounting.wordpress.com

 

Published in: on February 12, 2013 at 3:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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How is taxable income computed?

How is taxable income computed?

U.S. Persons (U.S. citizens and resident aliens):

• gross income (except certain income earned working outside the United States or derived from U.S. possessions);      minus

• allowable deductions.

Nonresident Aliens:

• In general:

• tax on certain investment income from U.S. sources and on income effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business;      minus

•  allowable deductions.

• Exception: a nonresident alien married to a U.S. person (U.S. citizen or resident alien) may elect to be taxed as a U.S. person, as well.

Considering a Tax Professional? For no obligation free consultation contact us today!

ABA Tax Accounting

Amare Berhie, Senior Tax Accountant

amare@abataxaccounting.com

612-282-3200 Toll Free866-936-0430

http://www.abataxaccounting.com

www.abatax81.blogspot.com

www.abataxaccounting.wordpress.com

Published in: on February 9, 2013 at 2:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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TAX CHANGES THAT BENEFIT TAXPAYERS FOR 2012

Federal, State, Local and International Taxes – Thanks to the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA), many tax provisions that expired in 2011 were retroactively extended (or made permanent) that are of benefit to taxpayers filing 2012 returns this year. Here are six of them:

1. Education-Related Tax Deductions – ATRA extended, through 2017 and retroactive to 2012, two popular and widely used education-related tax benefits that expired in 2011: the deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses and the deduction for certain expenses of elementary and secondary school teachers. Both are above-the-line deductions, which means that they can be taken before calculating adjusted gross income (AGI).

2. Limited Non-Business Energy Property Credits – Non-business energy credits expired in 2011, but were extended (retroactive to 2012) through 2013 by ATRA. For 2012 (as in 2011), this credit generally equals 10 percent of what a homeowner spends on eligible energy-saving improvements, up to a maximum tax credit of $500 (down significantly from the $1,500 combined limit that applied for 2009 and 2010). 

Because of the way the credit is figured however, in many cases, it may only be helpful to people who make energy-saving home improvements for the first time in 2012. That’s because homeowners must first subtract any non-business energy property credits claimed on their 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011 returns before claiming this credit for 2012. In other words, if a taxpayer claimed a credit of $450 in 2011, the maximum credit that can be claimed in 2012 is $50 (for an aggregate of $500). 

The cost of certain high-efficiency heating and air conditioning systems, water heaters and stoves that burn biomass all qualify, along with labor costs for installing these items. In addition, the cost of energy-efficient windows and skylights, energy-efficient doors, qualifying insulation and certain roofs also qualify for the credit, though the cost of installing these items do not.

3. 

  • Mortgage Insurance Deductible as Qualified Interest – ATRA extended, through 2013 (and retroactive to 2012), a tax provision that expired in 2011 that allows taxpayers to deduct mortgage insurance premiums as qualified residence interest. As such, taxpayers can deduct, as qualified residence interest, mortgage insurance premiums paid or accrued before Jan. 1, 2014, subject to a phase-out based on the taxpayer’s AGI.

3. AMT “Patch” Made Permanent – The AMT ‘patch” was made permanent by ATRA; however, exemption amounts for 2012 and beyond are higher than in years’ past and are now indexed to inflation. For tax-year 2012, the alternative minimum tax exemption amounts increase to the following levels:

  • $78,750 for a married couple filing a joint return and qualifying widows and widowers, up from $74,450 in 2011.
  • $39,375 for a married person filing separately, up from $37,225 in 2011.
  • $50,600 for singles and heads of household, up from $48,450 in 2011.

4. Transportation “Fringe Benefits” – Parity for transportation fringe benefits provided by employers for the benefit of their employees expired at the end of 2011; however, ATRA reinstated this parity retroactive to 2012. As such, the monthly limit for qualified parking is $240 and the benefit for transportation in a commuter highway vehicle or a transit pass is $245 for tax year 2012.

  • 5. State and Local Sales Taxes – Retroactive to 2012, ATRA extended (through 2013) the tax provision that allows taxpayers who itemize deductions the option to deduct state and local general sales and use taxes instead of state and local income taxes.

 

If you have questions about these or other tax changes, please call us. We’d be happy to assist you. Call us today for no obligation free consultation!

ABA Tax Accounting

info@abataxaccounting.com

866-936-0430 Toll Free

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Published in: on February 6, 2013 at 3:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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2013 Tax Filing Season

 

Federal, State, Local and International Taxes  — Following the January tax law changes made by Congress under the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA), the Internal Revenue Service announced it plans to open the 2013 filing season and begin processing individual income tax returns on Jan. 30.

The IRS will begin accepting tax returns on that date after updating forms and completing programming and testing of its processing systems. This will reflect the bulk of the late tax law changes enacted Jan. 2. The announcement means that the vast majority of tax filers — more than 120 million households — should be able to start filing tax returns starting Jan 30.

The IRS estimates that remaining households will be able to start filing in late February or into March because of the need for more extensive form and processing systems changes. This group includes people claiming residential energy credits, depreciation of property or general business credits. Most of those in this group file more complex tax returns and typically file closer to the April 15 deadline or obtain an extension.

The opening of the filing season follows passage by Congress of an extensive set of tax changes in ATRA on Jan. 1, 2013, with many affecting tax returns for 2012. While the IRS worked to anticipate the late tax law changes as much as possible, the final law required that the IRS update forms and instructions as well as make critical processing system adjustments before it can begin accepting tax returns.

Who Can File Starting Jan. 30?

The IRS anticipates that the vast majority of all taxpayers can file starting Jan. 30, regardless of whether they file electronically or on paper. The IRS will be able to accept tax returns affected by the late Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) patch as well as the three major “extender” provisions for people claiming the state and local sales tax deduction, higher education tuition and fees deduction and educator expenses deduction.

Who Can’t File Until Later?

There are several forms affected by the late legislation that require more extensive programming and testing of IRS systems. The IRS hopes to begin accepting tax returns including these tax forms between late February and into March; a specific date will be announced in the near future.

The key forms that require more extensive programming changes include Form 5695 (Residential Energy Credits), Form 4562 (Depreciation and Amortization) and Form 3800 (General Business Credit). A full listing of the forms that won’t be accepted until later is available on IRS.gov.

Want more information about filing requirements and tax credits?  For no obligation free consultation contact us today!

ABA Tax Accounting

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612-282-3200

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Published in: on January 30, 2013 at 4:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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