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A loss from a legitimate business activity is fully deductible against other income. If the loss exceeds income, it can be carried forward to offset business income in future years. If an activity is deemed a hobby by the IRS, a loss cannot be deducted. The IRS has many criteria for determining whether an activity is a hobby or a business.


The 2018 filing season for 2017 tax-year returns officially launched on January 27. On the other end of the filing season, taxpayers have two additional days to file their 2017 returns: the traditional April 15 filing deadline moves to April 17 this year. Some early filers, however, may find their refunds delayed if they are claiming the additional child tax credit (ACTC) and/or the earned income tax credit (EITC).


Much-anticipated withholding tables for 2018 have been posted by the IRS. While the new withholding tables are designed to work with existing Forms W-4, the agency encouraged taxpayers to use its online withholding calculator to make adjustments if necessary. New Forms W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, will be released for 2019 withholding; withholding for 2018 will adapt to existing Forms W-4 already submitted by employees. Based upon the specific impact of the new tax law on their situations, some employees may wish to file a revised Form W-4 to supplement revisions to the withholding tables already being made by the IRS.


President Trump signed legislation on January 22 to delay the medical device excise tax, the health insurance provider fee and the excise tax on high-dollar health plans. All three taxes were delayed in a temporary funding bill.


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act did not directly change the tax rate on capital gains: they remain at 0, 10, 15 and 20 percent, respectively (with the 25- and 28-percent rates also reserved for the same special situations). However, changes within the new law impact both when the favorable rates are applied and the level to which to may be enjoyed.


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act increases bonus depreciation rate to 100 percent for property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017, and before January 1, 2023. The rate phases down thereafter. Used property, films, television shows, and theatrical productions are eligible for bonus depreciation. Property used by rate-regulated utilities, and property of certain motor vehicle, boat, and farm machinery retail and lease businesses that use floor financing indebtedness, is excluded from bonus depreciation.


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 February 2018.


IRS officials, including Faris Fink, then Commissioner of the Small Business and Self-Employed Division,  announced in 2013 that the IRS would increase its scrutiny of partnership entities. Indeed, the IRS's audit statistics for 2014 have shown that Fink's prediction was accurate. While the overall audit rate for all types of businesses fell from 0.61 percent in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 to 0.57 percent for FY 2014, the audit rate for partnerships has increased.


There are three main types of IRS audits: correspondence audits, office audits, and field audits (listed in order of increasing invasiveness). Correspondence audits are initiated (and generally conducted) by postal mail. Office audits require a taxpayer and/or its representative to appear in an IRS office; and a field audit involves IRS examiners paying a visit to the taxpayer's place of business.


An employer must withhold income taxes from compensation paid to common-law employees (but not from compensation paid to independent contractors). The amount withheld from an employee's wages is determined in part by the number of withholding exemptions and allowances the employee claims. Note that although the Tax Code and regulations distinguish between withholding exemptions and withholding allowances, the terms are interchangeable. The amount of reduction attributable to one withholding allowance is the same as that attributable to one withholding exemption. Form W-4 and most informal IRS publications refer to both as withholding allowances, probably to avoid confusion with the complete exemption from withholding for employees with no tax liability.


In Rev. Proc. 2015-20, the IRS substantially simplified the requirements for small businesses to adopt the tangible property regulations (the "repair regulations") for 2014. The relief allows small businesses to change their accounting methods, to comply with the regulations, without having to apply Code Sec. 481 and without having to file Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method.


Employers and other organizations must obtain an employer identification number (EIN) to identify themselves for tax administration purposes, such as starting a new business, withholding taxes on wages, or creating a trust. Entities apply for an EIN by filing IRS Form SS-4. Page two of the form advises whether an applicant needs an EIN.


Form  1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, is a new information return. The IRS requires the Health Insurance Marketplace to report certain information  about every individual who receives health insurance coverage through the Marketplace to the agency and also to the enrollee. Form 1095-A reports information about the individual(s) covered by Marketplace coverage, the starting and ending dates of coverage, and the insurer that provided coverage. Form 1095-A also reports the cost of coverage, the plan's total monthly payment, any advance payment, and more.


The IRS and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are planning outreach efforts during filing season to remind taxpayers about new requirements under the Affordable Care Act. These projects will highlight the individual shared responsibility requirement, exemptions to the individual mandate, and more. The IRS has already posted information about the Affordable Care Act on its website for taxpayers and tax professionals. The agency reported it will continue to work with tax professionals to give individuals the information they need to file their returns.


The required minimum distribution (RMD) rules require participants to start taking distributions when they turn age 70½. Treasury and the IRS have developed a new concept to enable retirees to preserve some of their retirement assets and to protect them from outliving their assets – the qualified longevity annuity contract or QLAC. At the same time, QLACS will help retirees to avoid limiting their retirement spending unnecessarily.


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.


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.


As most people know, a taxpayer can take a distribution from an IRA without being taxed if the taxpayer rolls over (contributes) the amount received into an IRA within 60 days. This tax-free treatment does not apply if the individual rolled over another distribution from an IRA within the one-year period ending on the day of the second distribution.


A child with earned income above a certain level is generally required to file a separate tax return as a single taxpayer. However, a child with a certain amount of unearned income (from investments, including dividends, interest, and capital gains) may find that this income becomes subject to tax at his or her parent's highest marginal tax rate. This is referred to as the "kiddie tax," and it is designed to prevent parents from transferring income-producing investments to their children, who would generally be taxed at a lower rate.


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 Treasury Department is authorized to offset a taxpayer’s tax refund to satisfy certain debts. A spouse who believes that his or her portion of the refund should not be used to offset the debt that the other spouse owes may request a refund from the IRS.

As 2012 gets underway, Congress has extended the employee-side payroll tax cut but a laundry list of tax incentives have expired and their renewal is in doubt.  The fate of these incentives, along with the Bush-era tax cuts, will dominate debate in Washington D.C. in 2012.  At the same time, tax planning in a time of uncertainty appears to have become the new normal.

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. 

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.

Under a flexible spending arrangement (FSA), an amount is credited to an account that is used to reimburse an employee, generally, for health care or dependent care expenses. The employer must maintain the FSA. Amounts may be contributed to the account under an employee salary reduction agreement or through employer contributions.

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.

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.

The start of the school year is a good time to consider the variety of tax benefits available for education. Congress has been generous in providing education benefits in the form of credits, deductions and exclusions from income. The following list describes the most often used of these benefits.

With the stock market fluctuating up and down (but especially down), some investors may decide to cash out investments that they initially planned to hold.  They may have taxable gains or losses they did not expect to realize.  Other investors may look to diversifying their portfolios further, moving a more significant portion into Treasury bills, CDs and other “cash-like” instruments, or even into gold and other precious metals. Here are reminders about some of the tax issues involved in these decisions.

Early in 2011, the IRS announced a series of measures to help taxpayers buffeted by the economic slowdown. The IRS calls these measures its “Fresh Start” program and they are intended help taxpayers who want to pay their tax liabilities but because of unemployment, slow business sales or for other legitimate reasons, cannot pay their tax debts. One of the most attractive features of the Fresh Start program involves the withdrawal of a tax lien.

In recent years, Congress has used the Tax Code to encourage individuals to make energy-efficient improvements to their homes.  The credit is very popular. The Treasury Department estimates that more than 6.8 million individuals claimed over $5.8 billion in residential energy tax credits in 2009.

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.

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.

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.

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.

In-plan Roth IRA rollovers are a relatively new creation, and as a result many individuals are not aware of the rules. The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 made it possible for participants in 401(k) plans and 403(b) plans to roll over eligible distributions made after September 27, 2010 from such accounts, or other non-Roth accounts, into a designated Roth IRA in the same plan. Beginning in 2011, this option became available to 457(b) governmental plans as well. These "in-plan" rollovers and the rules for making them, which may be tricky, are discussed below.


A business can deduct ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred in carrying on any trade or business. The expense must be reasonable and must be helpful to the business.

Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) -- both traditional and Roth IRAs -- are among the most popular retirement savings vehicles today. Protecting the value of your IRA (and other retirement accounts) is incredibly important. While some factors affecting the value of your retirement savings may be out of your control, there are many things within your control that can help you safeguard the wealth of those accounts and further their growth. This article addresses common mistakes regarding IRA distributions and contributions, and how to avoid them.

Ask someone whether they've created a long-term financial plan and they are likely to answer, "Not me...I'm not rich enough, old enough, etc..." While most people realize the importance of financial planning, there still exist several misconceptions about who it can benefit and how to get the most out of it.


We've all heard the basic financial planning strategy "pay yourself first" but paying yourself first doesn't simply mean stashing money into your savings account - debt reduction and retirement plan participation also qualify. Paying yourself today can result in a more comfortable and prosperous future for you and your family.


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.


What do amounts paid for new swimming pools, Lamaze classes, lunches with friends, massages, and America Online fees have in common? All of these costs have been found to be legitimate tax deductions under certain circumstances. As you gather your information for the preparation of your tax return, it may pay to take a closer look at the items you spent money on during the year.