HOBBY OR BUSINESS? WHY IT MATTERS

HOBBY OR BUSINESS? WHY IT MATTERS

Income Tax Service For Small Businesses – Millions of Americans have hobbies such as sewing, woodworking, fishing, gardening, stamp and coin collecting, but when that hobby starts to turn a profit, it might just be considered a business by the IRS.

DEFINITION OF A HOBBY VS. A BUSINESS
The IRS defines a hobby as an activity that is not pursued for profit. A business, on the other hand, is an activity that is carried out with the reasonable expectation of earning a profit.

The tax considerations are different for each activity so it’s important for taxpayers to determine whether an activity is engaged in for profit as a business or is just a hobby for personal enjoyment.

Of course, you must report and pay tax on income from almost all sources, including hobbies. But when it comes to deductions such as expenses and losses, the two activities differ in their tax implications.

IS YOUR HOBBY ACTUALLY A BUSINESS?
If you’re not sure whether you’re running a business or simply enjoying a hobby, here are some of the factors you should consider:
• Does the time and effort put into the activity indicate an intention to make a profit?
• Do you depend on income from the activity?
• If there are losses, are they due to circumstances beyond your control or did they occur in the start-up phase of the business?
• Have you changed methods of operation to improve profitability?
• Do you have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business?
• Have you made a profit in similar activities in the past?
• Does the activity make a profit in some years?
• Do you expect to make a profit in the future from the appreciation of assets used in the activity?

An activity is presumed to be for profit if it makes a profit in at least three of the last five tax years, including the current year (or at least two of the last seven years for activities that consist primarily of breeding, showing, training, or racing horses).

The IRS says that it looks at all facts when determining whether a hobby is for pleasure or business, but the profit test is the primary one. If the activity earned income in three out of the last five years, it is for profit. If the activity does not meet the profit test, the IRS will take an individualized look at the facts of your activity using the list of questions above to determine whether it’s a business or a hobby. (It should be noted that this list is not all-inclusive.)

Business Activity: If the activity is determined to be a business, you can deduct ordinary and necessary expenses for the operation of the business on a Schedule C or C-EZ on your Form 1040 without considerations for percentage limitations. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your trade or business. A necessary expense is one that is appropriate for your business.

Hobby: If an activity is a hobby, not for profit, losses from that activity may not be used to offset other income. You can only deduct expenses up to the amount of income earned from the hobby. These expenses, with other miscellaneous expenses, are itemized on Schedule A and must also meet the 2 percent limitation of your adjusted gross income in order to be deducted.

WHAT ARE ALLOWABLE HOBBY DEDUCTIONS?
If your activity is not carried on for profit, allowable deductions cannot exceed the gross receipts for the activity.

Note: Internal Revenue Code Section 183 (Activities Not Engaged in for Profit) limits deductions that can be claimed when an activity is not engaged in for profit. IRC 183 is sometimes referred to as the “hobby loss rule.”

Deductions for hobby activities are claimed as itemized deductions on Schedule A, Form 1040. These deductions must be taken in the following order and only to the extent stated in each of three categories:
• Deductions that a taxpayer may claim for certain personal expenses, such as home mortgage interest and taxes, may be taken in full.
• Deductions that don’t result in an adjustment to the basis of property, such as advertising, insurance premiums, and wages, may be taken next, to the extent gross income for the activity is more than the deductions from the first category.
• Deductions that reduce the basis of property, such as depreciation and amortization, are taken last, but only to the extent gross income for the activity is more than the deductions taken in the first two categories.
If your hobby is regularly generating income, it could make tax sense for you to consider it a business because you might be able to lower your taxes and take certain deductions.

Still wondering whether your hobby is actually a business? Give us a call; we’ll help you figure it out. We’re here to help. For no obligation free consultation contact us today!
ABA Tax Accounting
info@abataxaccounting.com
(952) 583-9108
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Published in: on October 15, 2013 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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
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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
651-621-5777 or 763-269-5396
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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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Good Reasons to E-file Your Tax Return – http://www.abataxaccounting.com/taxservice.php

Federal, State, Local and International Taxes – If you haven’t tried IRS e-file before, now is the time. Most taxpayers – more than 80 percent – file electronically. The IRS has processed more than 1 billion individual tax returns safely and securely since the nationwide debut of electronic filing in 1990. Fewer people file a paper tax return every year. Here are five good reasons to e-file your tax return:

  • Accurate and complete. E-file is the best way to file an accurate and complete tax return. Tax returns that are incomplete or include errors take longer to process.
  • Safe and secure. Tax preparers and software companies who e-file must meet strict guidelines and provide the best in encryption technology. You receive an acknowledgement within 48 hours that the IRS received your tax return. If the IRS does not accept your tax return, you will receive notification and can quickly correct your return and resubmit it.
  • Faster refunds. An e-filed tax return usually means a faster refund compared to a paper return. The IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days. If you choose direct deposit, your refund goes directly into your bank account. Combining e-file with direct deposit is the fastest way to get your refund. About three out of four taxpayers who file receive a tax refund. Last year the average refund was about $2,700.
  • Payment options. If you owe tax, you can e-file early and set an automatic payment date anytime on or before the April 15 due date. You can pay by check or money order, by debit or credit card, or by transferring funds electronically from your bank account.
  • It’s easy. You can e-file on your own through IRS Free File, the free tax preparation and e-filing service available exclusively at IRS.gov. You can also use commercial tax preparation software or ask your tax preparer to e-file your return. And, if you qualify, IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly partners will e-file your return for free.

For no obligation free consultation contact us today!

ABA Tax Accounting

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866-936-0430 Toll Free

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Published in: on January 30, 2013 at 7:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Tax Strategies – Who Should File a 2012 Tax Return?

Tax Strategies – Who Should File a 2012 Tax Return?

Federal, State, Local and International Taxes – If you received income during 2012, you may need to file a tax return in 2013. The amount of your income, your filing status, your age and the type of income you received will determine whether you’re required to file. Even if you are not required to file a tax return, you may still want to file. You may get a refund if you’ve had too much federal income tax withheld from your pay or qualify for certain tax credits. 

Even if you’ve determined that you don’t need to file a tax return this year, you may still want to file. Here are five reasons why: 

1. Federal Income Tax Withheld.  If your employer withheld federal income tax from your pay, if you made estimated tax payments, or if you had a prior year overpayment applied to this year’s tax, you could be due a refund. File a return to claim any excess tax you paid during the year. 

2. Earned Income Tax Credit.  If you worked but earned less than $50,270 last year, you may qualify for EITC. EITC is a refundable tax credit; which means if you qualify you could receive EITC as a tax refund. Families with qualifying children may qualify to get up to $5,891 dollars. You can’t get the credit unless you file a return and claim it. Use the EITC Assistant to find out if you qualify. 

3. Additional Child Tax Credit.  If you have at least one qualifying child and you don’t get the full amount of the Child Tax Credit, you may qualify for this additional refundable credit. You must file and use new Schedule 8812, Child Tax Credit, to claim the credit. 

4. American Opportunity Credit.  If you or someone you support is a student, you might be eligible for this credit. Students in their first four years of post secondary education may qualify for as much as $2,500 through this partially refundable credit. Even those who owe no tax can get up to $1,000 of the credit as cash back for each eligible student. You must file Form 8863, Education Credits, and submit it with your tax return to claim the credit. 

5. Health Coverage Tax Credit.  If you’re receiving Trade Adjustment Assistance, Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance, Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance or pension benefit payments from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, you may be eligible for a 2012 Health Coverage Tax Credit. Spouses and dependents may also be eligible. If you’re eligible, you can receive a 72.5 percent tax credit on payments you made for qualified health insurance premiums. 

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

ABA Tax Accounting

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866-936-0430 Toll Free

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Published in: on January 29, 2013 at 3:02 pm  Comments (1)  
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Year-End Tax Planning For Individuals – Strategize Tuition Payments

Year-End Tax Planning For Individuals – Strategize Tuition Payments

Federal, State, Local and International Taxes – The American Opportunity Tax Credit, which offsets higher education expenses, is set to expire after 2012. It may be beneficial to pay 2013 tuition in 2012 to take full advantage of this tax credit, up to $2,500, before it expires. 

CALL US FIRST – This is just one of the year-end planning tax moves that could make a substantial difference in your tax bill for 2012. But the best advice we can give you is to give us a call. We’ll sit down with you, discuss your specific tax and financial needs, and develop a plan that works for your business.

ABA Tax Accounting

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Published in: on November 19, 2012 at 1:24 pm  Comments (1)  
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Tax Strategies for Individuals – The “Nanny Tax” Rules: What to Do If You Have Household Employees

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If you have a household employee, you may need to pay state and federal employment taxes. Which forms do you need to file for your household employees? Is your maid, housekeeper, or babysitter covered by the rules? 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

866-936-0430 Toll Free

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Published in: on October 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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