Schram & Associates
Assuring Your Financial Success Since 1988
Home
Firm Profile
Client Services
Info Center
Newsletters
Financial Tools
Links
Contact Us
Newsletters
Tax Alerts
Tax Briefing(s)

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.


The health care reform package (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) imposes a new 3.8 percent Medicare contribution tax on the investment income of higher-income individuals. Although the tax does not take effect until 2013, it is not too soon to examine methods to lessen the impact of the tax.

The answer is no for 2010, but yes, in practical terms, for 2014 and beyond. The health care reform package (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) does not require individuals to carry health insurance in 2010. However, after 2013, individuals without minimum essential health insurance coverage will be liable for a penalty unless otherwise exempt.

Health care reform is now law and many employers are asking how does it affect my business and my employees? The first thing to keep in mind is that reform is gradual. The health care reforms and tax provisions in the new health care reform package play out over time, with some taking effect this year or next year but others not until 2014 and beyond. However, the health care package imposes significant new responsibilities and taxes on employers and individuals so it is not too early to start preparing.

In response to the economic downturn that has affected the retirement portfolios of millions of individuals across the country, Congress has been considering a variety of alternatives to offer relief to those who face financial emergencies and need immediate access to their funds. Two of the most significant proposals that have been recommended include: (1) significant broadening of the suspension of the 10 percent penalty tax on early withdrawals from IRAs and defined contribution plans, and (2) extending the temporary suspension of the penalty tax imposed on individuals age 70 ½ or older who do not take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from certain retirement plans.

Beginning in 2010, the income limitations that have prevented taxpayers with modified adjusted gross incomes of $100,000 or more and married taxpayers that filed their returns separately from converting a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) to a Roth IRA are eliminated entirely. As a bonus to kick off "unlimited Roth conversions," any income tax payments due on 2010 conversions may be deferred into 2011 and 2012. For higher-income individuals, 2010 presents a long-awaited and much anticipated opportunity to convert their savings into a Roth IRA providing tax-free distributions during their retirement years.

The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 (2009 Worker Act), enacted November 6, 2009, gives all businesses (or their owners in the case of pass-through entities) an opportunity to obtain a quick refund from the IRS using net operating losses (NOL). A company has an NOL when its business deductions for the year exceed its business income. Normally, a business can only carry back an NOL two years. But the new law allows any business to elect to carry back its NOLs from 2008 or 2009 for up to five years, regardless of form (corporation, individual, estate or trust) and size. (Partnership and S corporation NOLs flow through to partners and shareholders and can't be carried over by the entity.)

During economic downturns, many people often look for ways to supplement their regular employment compensation. Or, you may be engaging in an activity - such as gambling or selling items on an online auction - that is actually earning you income: taxable income. Many individuals may not understand the tax consequences of, and reporting requirements for, earning these types of miscellaneous income. This article discusses how you report certain types of miscellaneous income.

If you have completed your tax return and you owe more money that you can afford to pay in full, do not worry, you have many options. While it is in your best interest to pay off as much of your tax liability as you can, there are many payment options you can utilize to help pay off your outstanding debt to Uncle Sam. This article discusses a few of your payment options.

Education continues to become increasingly expensive. The Tax Code provides a variety of significant tax breaks to help pay for the rising costs of education, from elementary and secondary school to college. Some people are surprised at what is available these days, as the dust settles on tax rules that have been in transition now for a number of years. A good place to start educating yourself on these education-related tax incentives - to help yourself or a member of your family better tackle the rising expense of education - is right here.


To ease the pain of the ever-escalating costs of healthcare, many employers provide certain tax-driven health benefits and plans to their employees. To help employers understand the differences and similarities among three popular medical savings vehicles - health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) - here's an overview.

The IRS allows taxpayers with a charitable inclination to take a deduction for a wide range of donated items. However, the IRS does provide specific guidelines for those taxpayers contributing non-cash items, from the type of charity you can donate to in order to take a deduction to the quality of the goods you contribute and how to value them for deduction purposes. If your summer cleaning has led, or may lead, you to set aside clothes and other items for charity, and you would like to know how to value these items for tax purposes, read on.

Often, individuals end up with an unexpected tax liability on April 15. There are several options available to pay off your tax debt, stop accruing penalties and interest and secure peace of mind. Each payment method has its advantages and disadvantages depending on your financial, and personal, circumstances, and each option should be discussed with a tax professional prior to making a decision. Our office would be glad to answer any questions you have about each payment method.

If you've made, or are planning to make, a big gift before the end of 2009, you may be wondering what your gift tax liability, if any, may be. You may have to file a federal tax return even if you do not owe any gift tax. Read on to learn more about when to file a federal gift tax return.

On December 18, 2007, Congress passed the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 (Mortgage Debt Relief Act), providing some major assistance to certain homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments. The centerpiece of the new law is a three-year exception to the long-standing rule under the Tax Code that mortgage debt forgiven by a lender constitutes taxable income to the borrower. However, the new law does not alleviate all the pain of all troubled homeowners but, in conjunction with a mortgage relief plan recently announced by the Treasury Department, the Act provides assistance to many subprime borrowers.

Only "qualified moving expenses" under the tax law are generally deductible. Qualified moving expenses are incurred to move the taxpayer, members of the taxpayer's household, and their personal belongings. For moving expenses to be deductible, however, a move must:

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

.


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

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


Businesses benefit from many tax breaks. If you are in business with the objective of making a profit, you can generally claim all your business deductions. If your deductions exceed your income for the year, you can claim a loss for the year, up to the amount of your income from other activities. Remaining losses can be carried over into other years.

Only 50 percent of the cost of meals is generally deductible. A meal deduction is customarily allowed when the meal is business related and incurred in one of two instances:

The AMT is difficult to apply and the exact computation is very complex. If you owed AMT last year and no unusual deduction or windfall had come your way that year, you're sufficiently at risk this year to apply a detailed set of computations to any AMT assessment. Ballpark estimates just won't work

Q: After what period is my federal tax return safe from audit? A: Generally, the time-frame within which the IRS can examine a federal tax return you have filed is three years. To be more specific, Code Sec. 6501 states that the IRS has three years from the later of the deadline for filing the return (usually April 15th for individuals) or, if later, the date you actually filed the return on a requested filing extension or otherwise. This means that if you file your 2014 return on July 10, 2015, the IRS will have until July 10, 2018 to look at it and "assess a deficiency;" not April 15, 2018.


One of the easiest ways for a business to limit liability is to use independent contractors instead of employees. Of course, merely calling employees "independent contractors" will not make those individuals independent contractors.

With all the different tax breaks for taxpayers with children - from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to the dependent care and child tax credits - you may be wondering who exactly is a "child" for purposes of these incentives. Is there a uniform definition in the Tax Code, or does the definition of a "child" vary according to each tax break?

Just because you're married doesn't mean you have to file a joint return. This is a common misconception along with thinking that "married filing separately" applies to couples who are separated or seeking a divorce. As a married couple, you have two choices: file a joint return or file separate returns. Naturally, there are benefits and detriments to each and your tax advisor can chart the best course of action for you.

Although taxes may take a back seat to the basic issue of whether refinancing saves enough money to be worthwhile, you should be aware of the basic tax rules that come into play. Sometimes, you can immediately deduct some of the costs of refinancing.


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


During uncertain economic times, it's easy to feel pessimism and react hastily amid media reports about growing unemployment rates and stock market downturns. However, such actions can wreak havoc on your long-term personal and financial goals. Taking some time out now to put the uncertain future into perspective can help minimize the impact that many external forces can have on your personal and financial life.


You have just been notified that your tax return is going to be audited ... what now? While the best defense is always a good offense (translation: take steps to avoid an audit in the first place), in the event the IRS does come knocking on your door, here are some basic guidelines you can follow to increase the chances that you will come out of your audit unscathed.


When it comes to legal separation or divorce, there are many complex situations to address. A divorcing couple faces many important decisions and issues regarding alimony, child support, and the fair division of property. While most courts and judges will not factor in the impact of taxes on a potential property settlement or cash payments, it is important to realize how the value of assets transferred can be materially affected by the tax implications.


Q. I have a professional services firm and am considering hiring my wife to help out with some of the administrative tasks in the office. I don't think we'll have a problem working together but I would like to have more information about the tax aspects of such an arrangement before I make the leap. What are some of the tax advantages of hiring my spouse?


Q. Since our children are grown and now out on their own, my husband and I are considering selling our large home and purchasing a small townhouse. We have owned our home for years and have quite a lot of equity built up. How do we figure out how much our potential capital gain would be? Will we pay more in taxes because we are moving to a less expensive home?


Business travel expenses are not created equal - some special rules apply to certain types of expenditures. Before you pack your bags for your next business trip, make sure that you have planned ahead to optimize your business travel deductions.


For homeowners, the exclusion of all or a portion of the gain on the sale of their principal residence is an important tax break.


Q. The recent upturn in home values has left me with quite a bit of equity in my home. I would like to tap into this equity to pay off my credit cards and make some major home improvements. If I get a home equity loan, will the interest I pay be fully deductible on my tax return?


As a new business owner, you probably expect to incur many expenses before you even open the doors. What you might not know is how these starting up costs are handled for tax purposes. A little knowledge about how these costs will affect your (or your business') tax return can reduce any unexpected surprises when tax time comes around.


Limited liability companies (LLCs) remain one of the most popular choice of business forms in the U.S. today. This form of business entity is a hybrid that features the best characteristics of other forms of business entities, making it a good choice for both new and existing businesses and their owners.


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


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


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.





HomeFirm ProfileClient ServicesInfo CenterNewslettersFinancial ToolsLinksContact Us