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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.


Eleventh-hour votes in Congress in December renewed a package of tax extenders for 2014, created new savings accounts for individuals with disabilities, cut the IRS’ budget, and more. At the same time, the votes helped to set the stage for the 114th Congress that convenes this month. Republicans have majorities in the House and Senate and have indicated that taxes are one of the top items on their agenda for 2015.


2014 was a notable year for tax developments on a number of fronts. Selecting the "top ten" tax developments for 2014 necessarily requires judgment calls based upon uniqueness, taxpayers affected, and forward-looking impact on 2015 and beyond. The following "top ten" list of 2014 tax developments is such a prioritization. Nevertheless, other 2014 developments may prove more significant to any particular client, depending upon circumstances. Please feel free to contact this office for a more customized look at the impact of 2014 developments upon your unique tax situation.


The IRS is expected to shortly open the 2015 filing season and both the agency and taxpayers are preparing for some turbulence. The IRS is going into the filing season with a reduced budget, which could translate into fewer audits. Legislation passed by Congress in late 2014 could delay the start of the filing season, although to date, the IRS has not announced a delay. Taxpayers and the IRS are on alert for identity theft, a pervasive problem during filing season. Additionally, new requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act kick-in.


Beginning January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) required individuals to carry minimum essential health coverage or make a shared responsibility payment, unless exempt. Individuals will report on their 2014 federal income tax return if they had minimum essential health coverage for all or part of the year. Individuals who file Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, will indicate on Line 61 if they were covered by minimum essential health coverage for 2014, if they are exempt from the requirement to carry minimum essential health coverage or if they are making an individual shared responsibility payment.


The IRS has announced an increase in the optional business standard mileage reimbursement rate for 2015. The business standard mileage rate increased by one and a half cents, to 57.5 cents (up from 56 cents for 2014). The 2015 standard mileage rate for medical and moving expenses decreased slightly to 23 cents (down from 23.5 cents for 2014). The charitable mileage rate, however, is set by statute at a flat 14 cents per mile without inflation adjustment each year. The revised rates apply to deductible transportation expenses paid or incurred for business or medical/moving expenditures, or qualified charitable miles driven, on or after January 1, 2015.


As the 2013 filing season gets underway, some taxpayers may experience delays in filing returns and others need to revisit their returns because of the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) on January 1, 2013.  Late tax legislation always complicates tax planning and filing and 2013 is no exception.  ATRA extended many popular tax incentives for individuals and businesses retroactively to January 1, 2012.  This means that qualified taxpayers may claim them on their 2012 returns filed in 2013.  ATRA also made many changes that take effect in 2013, which will require careful planning as this year unfolds.


Under the new health care law, starting in 2014, "large" employers with more than 50 full-time employees will be subject to stiff monetary penalties if they do not provide affordable and minimum essential health coverage. With less than eleven months before this "play or pay" provision is fully effective, the IRS continues to release critical details on what constitutes an "applicable large employer," "full-time employee," "affordable coverage," and "minimum health coverage."  Most recently, the IRS issued proposed reliance regulations that provide employers with the most comprehensive explanation of their obligations and options to date.


Beginning in 2013, the capital gains rates, as amended by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, are as follows for individuals:


The IRS has issued proposed reliance regulations on the 3.8 percent surtax on net investment income (NII), enacted in the 2010 Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. The regulations are proposed to be effective January 1, 2014. However, since the tax applies beginning January 1, 2013, the IRS stated that taxpayers may rely on the proposed regulations for 2013. The IRS expects to issue final regulations sometime later this year.


Effective January 1, 2013, a new Medicare tax takes effect. The Additional Medicare Tax imposes a 0.9 percent tax on compensation and self-employment income above a threshold amount.  Unlike regular Medicare tax, the Additional Medicare Tax has no employer match but employers have withholding obligations. The IRS issued proposed reliance regulations about the Additional Medicare Tax in December 2012.


Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are popular retirement savings vehicles that enable taxpayers to build their nest egg slowly over the years and enjoy tax benefits as well. But what happens to that nest egg when the IRA owner passes away?


President Obama’s health care package enacted two new taxes that take effect January 1, 2013. One of these taxes is the additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax on earned income; the other is the 3.8 percent tax on net investment income. The 0.9 percent tax applies to individuals; it does not apply to corporations, trusts or estates. The 0.9 percent tax applies to wages, other compensation, and self-employment income that exceed specified thresholds.


Certain planning techniques involve the use of interest rates to value interests being transferred to charity or to private beneficiaries. While the use of these techniques does not necessarily depend on the interest rate, low interest rates may increase their value.


Although it is generally not considered prudent to withdraw funds from a retirement savings account until retirement, sometimes it may appear that life leaves no other option. However, borrowing from certain qualified retirement savings account rather than taking an outright distribution might prove the best solution to getting you through a difficult period. If borrowing from a 401(k) plan or other retirement savings plan becomes necessary, for example to pay emergency medical expenses or for a replacement vehicle essential to getting to work, you should be aware that there is a right way and a number of wrong ways to go about it.


Is your Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) rebate check taxable? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that nearly 12.8 million Americans received more than $1.1 billion in MLR rebates during August 2012 based on insurance company shortfalls in cutting overhead during 2011. If you received a rebate, either as an individual policyholder or as an employer or employee, is it taxable?


The IRS has unveiled the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DTR), a time-saving tool designed to minimize the time required for college-bound students and their parents to complete the Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The new IRS DTR is available through the website www.fafsa.gov.


When Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its companion bill, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (collectively known as the Affordable Care Act) in 2010, lawmakers staggered the effective dates of various provisions.  The most well-known provision, the so-called individual mandate, is scheduled to take effect in 2014.  A number of other provisions are scheduled to take effect in 2013. All of these require careful planning before their effective dates.


The tax treatment of computer software can be a confusing area.  Computer software is an intangible product itself, but it can be acquired in a variety of ways.  It may be bundled with a computer processor (hardware), sold on a disc as computer software, downloaded over the Internet, accessed (but not downloaded) over the Internet, or developed by the taxpayer. It may be acquired by itself, or as part of a business.  Thus, the treatment of computer software can vary, depending on the circumstances.  In view of these variations, it is important to get proper advice as to the tax treatment of computer software.


Stock is a popular and valuable compensation tool for employers and employees. Employees are encouraged to stay with the company and to work harder, to enhance the value of the stock they will earn. Employers do not have to make a cash outlay to provide the compensation, yet they still are entitled to a tax deduction.


Some individuals must pay estimated taxes or face a penalty in the form of interest on the amount underpaid. Self-employed persons, retirees, and nonworking individuals most often must pay estimated taxes to avoid the penalty. But an employee may need to pay them if the amount of tax withheld from wages is insufficient to cover the tax owed on other income. The potential tax owed on investment income also may increase the need for paying estimated tax, even among wage earners.


The dependency exemption is a valuable deduction that may be lost in many situations simply because some basic rules for qualification are not followed.  Classifying someone as a dependent can also entitle you to other significant deductions or credits.  Here is a rundown of some of the rules and their implications.

Education tax incentives are often underutilized because the rules are so complex. Some of the incentives are tax credits; other deductions. There are also savings plans for education costs. Making things even more complicated is the on-again, off-again nature of the education tax incentives.  Under current law (as of June 2012), several taxpayer-friendly features of the incentives are scheduled to expire.


A U.S. person with financial interests in or signature authority over foreign financial accounts generally must file Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) if, at any point during the calendar year, the aggregate value of the accounts exceeds $10,000. The FBAR form is due by June 30 of the calendar year following the calendar year being reported. Thus, FBARs for 2011 are due by June 30, 2012. An FBAR is not considered filed until it is received by the Treasury Department in Detroit, MI.


Your 2011 tax return has been filed, or you have properly filed for an extension. In either case, now it’s time to start thinking about important post-filing season activities to save you tax in 2012 and beyond.  A few loose ends may pay dividends if you take care of them sooner instead of later.

The family partnership is a common device for reducing the overall tax burden of family members. Family members who contribute property or services to a partnership in exchange for partnership interests are subject to the same general tax rules that apply to unrelated partners. If the related persons deal with each other at arm's length, their partnership is recognized for tax purposes and the terms of the partnership agreement governing their shares of partnership income and loss are respected.

The just-released 2011 IRS Data Book provides statistical information on IRS examinations, collections and other activities for the most recent fiscal year ended in 2011. The 2011 Data Book statistics, when compared to the 2010 version, shows, among other things, a notable increase in the odds of being audited within several high-income categories.

Everybody knows that tax deductions aren't allowed without proof in the form of documentation. What records are needed to "prove it" to the IRS vary depending upon the type of deduction that you may want to claim. Some documentation cannot be collected "after the fact," whether it takes place a few months after an expense is incurred or later, when you are audited by the IRS. This article reviews some of those deductions for which the IRS requires you to generate certain records either contemporaneously as the expense is being incurred, or at least no later than when you file your return. We also highlight several deductions for which contemporaneous documentation, although not strictly required, is extremely helpful in making your case before the IRS on an audit.


A disregarded entity refers to a business entity with one owner that is not recognized for tax purposes as an entity separate from its owner.  A single-member LLC ("SMLLC"), for example, is considered to be a disregarded entity. For federal and state tax purposes, the sole member of an SMLLC disregards the separate legal status of the SMLLC otherwise in force under state law.


On February 22, President Obama signed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.  The new law extends the employee-side payroll tax holiday, giving wage earners and self-employed individuals 12 months of reduced payroll taxes in 2012.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) introduced many new requirements for individuals and employers. One of the new requirements is an employer shared responsibility assessable payment.  At this time, there is little guidance for employers other than the language of the PPACA and some requests for comments from government agencies. The IRS, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are developing guidance for employers.

The IRS has released much-anticipated temporary and proposed regulations on the capitalization of costs incurred for tangible property. They impact how virtually any business writes off costs that repair, maintain, improve or replace any tangible property used in the business, from office furniture to roof repairs to photocopy maintenance and everything in between. They apply immediately, to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2012.

Taxpayers with children should be aware of the numerous tax breaks for which they may qualify. Among them are: the dependency exemption, child tax credit, child care credit, and adoption credit. As they get older, education tax credits for higher education may be available; as is a new tax code requirement for employer-sponsored health care to cover young adults up to age 26. Employers of parents with young children may also qualify for the child care assistance credit.

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), enacted in 2010, requires certain U.S. taxpayers to report their interests in specified foreign financial assets.  The reporting requirement may apply if the assets have an aggregate value exceeding certain thresholds. The IRS has released Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, for this reporting requirement under FATCA.

The term "sick pay" can refer to a variety of payments. Some of these payments are nontaxable, while others are treated as taxable income. Some of the taxable payments are treated as compensation, subject to income tax withholding and employment taxes; others are exempt from some employment taxes. 

Depreciation is a reasonable allowance for wear and tear on property used in a trade or business or for the production of income. Property is depreciable if it has a useful life greater than one year and depreciates in value. Property that appreciates in value may also  depreciate if subject to wear and tear. Depreciation ends in the tax year that the asset is retired from service (by sale, exchange, abandonment or destruction) or that the asset is fully depreciated.

In light of the IRS’s new Voluntary Worker Classification Settlement Program (VCSP), which it announced this fall, the distinction between independent contractors and employees has become a “hot issue” for many businesses. The IRS has devoted considerable effort to rectifying worker misclassification in the past, and continues the trend with this new program.  It is available to employers that have misclassified employees as independent contractors and wish to voluntarily rectify the situation before the IRS or Department of Labor initiates an examination.

Job-hunting expenses are generally deductible as long as you are not searching for a job in a new field. This tax benefit can be particularly useful in a tough job market. It does not matter whether your job hunt is successful, or whether you are employed or unemployed when you are looking.

Taxpayers who wish to withdraw funds from a retirement account such as an IRA before they reach the age of 59 and a half, can do so without their distributions becoming subject to the additional 10 percent tax but only if certain carefully-defined rules are followed. One option is to have distributions made in substantially equal periodic payments, as outlined in Sec. 72(t) of the IRC. Taxpayers can use one of three methods to calculate these substantially equal payments:


When an individual dies, certain family members may be eligible for Social Security benefits. In certain cases, the recipient of Social Security survivor benefits may incur a tax liability.

Taxpayers can request a copy of their federal income tax return and all attachments from the IRS.  In lieu of a copy of your return (and to save the fee that the IRS charges for a copy of your tax return), you can request a tax transcript from the IRS at no charge. A tax transcript is a computer print-out of your return information.

Adoptive parents may be eligible for federal tax incentives. The Tax Code includes an adoption tax credit to help defray the costs of an adoption.  Recent changes to the adoption tax credit make it very valuable.

A transaction may comply with a literal reading of the Tax Code but result in unreasonable tax consequences that are not intended by the tax laws. To combat these transactions, the IRS has used for many years a doctrine known as the economic substance doctrine.  Congress codified the doctrine in 2010 and recently the IRS issued instructions to examiners explaining how to apply the codified doctrine.

The IRS has announced that it will discontinue the high-low method used by taxpayers in a trade or business to substantiate travel expenses incurred while away from home.  The method, developed by the IRS, applies to travel expenses for meals, lodging and incidental expenses. It not only has provided a short-cut method for employers to cover the paperwork required to substantiate business travel deductions but in the past it has also helped the IRS streamline certain audits.

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.

Americans donate hundreds of millions of dollars every year to charity. It is important that every donation be used as the donors intended and that the charity is legitimate. The IRS oversees the activities of charitable organizations. This is a huge job because of the number and diversity of tax-exempt organizations and one that the IRS takes very seriously.

With school almost out for the summer, parents who work are starting to look for activities for their children to keep them occupied and supervised. The possibilities include sending a child to day camp or overnight camp. Parents faced with figuring out how to afford the price tag of these activities may wonder whether some or part of these costs may be tax deductible. At least two possible tax breaks should be considered: the dependent care credit in most cases, and the deduction for medical expenses in certain special situations.

As gasoline prices have climbed in 2011, many taxpayers who use a vehicle for business purposes are looking for the IRS to make a mid-year adjustment to the standard mileage rate. In the meantime, taxpayers should review the benefits of using the actual expense method to calculate their deduction. The actual expense method, while requiring careful recordkeeping, may help offset the cost of high gas prices if the IRS does not make a mid-year change to the standard mileage rate. Even if it does, you might still find yourself better off using the actual expense method, especially if your vehicle also qualifies for bonus depreciation.

The IRS's streamlined offer-in-compromise (OIC) program is intended to speed up the processing of OICs for qualified taxpayers. Having started in 2010, the streamlined OIC program is relatively new. The IRS recently issued instructions to its examiners, urging them to process streamlined OICs as expeditiously as possible. One recent survey estimates that one in 15 taxpayers is now in arrears on tax payments to the IRS to at least some degree.  Because of continuing fallout from the economic downturn, however, the IRS has tried to speed up its compromise process to the advantage of both hard-pressed taxpayers and its collection numbers.

As a result of recent changes in the law, many brokerage customers will begin seeing something new when they gaze upon their 1099-B forms early next year.  In the past, of course, brokers were required to report to their clients, and the IRS, those amounts reflecting the gross proceeds of any securities sales taking place during the preceding calendar year.

Many more retirees and others wanting guarantee income are looking into annuities, especially given the recent experience of the economic downturn. While the basic concept of an annuity is fairly simple, complex rules usually apply to the taxation of amounts received under certain annuity and life insurance contracts.

Information reporting continues to expand as Congress seeks to close the tax gap: the estimated $350 billion difference between what taxpayers owe and what they pay. Despite the recent rollback of expanded information reporting for business payments and rental property expense payments, the trend is for more - not less - information reporting of various transactions to the IRS.

A limited liability company (LLC) is a business entity created under state law. Every state and the District of Columbia have LLC statutes that govern the formation and operation of LLCs.

Estimated tax is used to pay tax on income that is not subject to withholding or if not enough tax is being withheld from a person's salary, pension or other income. Income not subject to withholding can include dividends, capital gains, prizes, awards, interest, self-employment income, and alimony, among other income items. Generally, individuals who do not pay at least 90 percent of their tax through withholding must estimate their income tax liability and make equal quarterly payments of the "required annual payment" liability during the year.


Often, timing is everything or so the adage goes. From medicine to sports and cooking, timing can make all the difference in the outcome. What about with taxes? What are your chances of being audited? Does timing play a factor in raising or decreasing your risk of being audited by the IRS? For example, does the time when you file your income tax return affect the IRS's decision to audit you? Some individuals think filing early will decrease their risk of an audit, while others file at the very-last minute, believing this will reduce their chance of being audited. And some taxpayers don't think timing matters at all.


The tax rules surrounding the dependency exemption deduction on a federal income tax return can be complicated, with many requirements involving who qualifies for the deduction and who qualifies to take the deduction. The deduction can be a very beneficial tax break for taxpayers who qualify to claim dependent children or other qualifying dependent family members on their return. Therefore, it is important to understand the nuances of claiming dependents on your tax return, as the April 18 tax filing deadline is just around the corner.


Although individual income tax returns don't have to be filed until April 15, taxpayers who file early get their refunds a lot sooner. The IRS begins accepting returns in January but does not start processing returns until February. Determining whether to file early depends on various personal and financial considerations. Filing early to somehow fly under the IRS's audit radar, however, has been ruled out long ago by experts as a viable strategy.


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.