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General Tax Topics, Tax Debt, Uncategorized

Get rid of Tax Debt Fast!

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Author Trudy M Howard

Nothing can be more distressing than receiving a letter from the IRS. Having tax debt can cause stress, high blood pressure, sleepless nights, and it can also cause a break down in family relationships (we see this often in marriages). At Howard Tax Prep, in our Chicago South Loop tax office, we help clients resolve their IRS tax debts and State tax debt once and for all.

So what can you do you need to solve tax problems? Here are the Top 5 things that you can do when you owe the IRS, and have tax debt.

In plain English your options are:

  • Don’t over pay!
  • Ask for a settlement.
  • Ask for A payment plan.
  • Ask them to waive the Fees.
  • Tell them Don’t blame me!

In IRS Speak and complicated tax language, your options are:

1. Have a competent, and experienced tax consultant review your return for MISSED DEDUCTIONS! I once found $6,000 in missed deductions that put my client into a lower tax bracket, netting her a large tax refund of over $2,000! To be honest, I was actually shocked that I found such a large tax deduction, because the missed tax deduction  was something that every good Chicago tax preparer should know! 101. In plain English: Don’t over pay!
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2. IRS Offer in compromise. We’re sure that you’ve heard the commercials promising to “settle your tax debt for pennies on the dollar.” While every good tax debt consultant dislikes the phrase “pennies on the dollar” in some cases you can settle your tax debt with a low payment.  We’ve seen cases such as: $150,000 tax debt settled for $4,000; $20,000 tax debt settled for $50; and $200,000 tax debt settled for $10,000! Not only can you possibly lower your tax debt, while the IRS considers your offer, you have a little more time raise money for your tax debt. In plain English: Ask for a tax settlement.

3. IRS Installment agreement. When most people receive a letter from the IRS the very first thing they do is think of ways to pay down their tax debt. The IRS offers 3 types of installment plans for tax debt. IRS tax debt installment plans, are basically agreements to pay what you owe on a continual basis, over a defined period of time. In plain English: Ask for a tax debt payment plan.

4. IRS Abatement of penalties. This can reduce or eliminate your penalties. In plain English: Waive the Fees.

5. IRS Innocent spouse relief. This can free you from liability if your spouse (or ex-spouse) is the reason for your tax problems. In plain English: Don’t blame me!

Although we’ve given you the basics, this is not an all-inclusive article. Should you have tax debt help questions, need Chicago business tax preparation, business entity creation, business insurance, or business compliance assistance please contact us online, or call our office toll free at 1-855-743-5765 or locally in Chicago or Indiana at 1-708-529-6604. Make sure to join our newsletter for more tips on reducing taxes, and increasing your wealth.

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Business Taxes, Family Taxes, General Information, General Tax Topics, Small Business, Uncategorized

$5,000 Chicago Microbusiness Recovery Grant program. Lottery disbursement.

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Source: Copied & Pasted Email Received from The Chicago BACP
“The Chicago Microbusiness Recovery Grant Program will provide $5 million in grants to businesses with four or fewer employees in low- and moderate-income areas of the city. Grants of $5,000 will be disbursed via a lottery, with winners equitably distributed across eligible Community Areas based on population. Applications are available now and will be open until Monday, May 4th at 5:00 pm.
BACP will be holding a series of webinars in multiple languages this week to inform prospective applicants about the Recovery Grant program and to answer questions. To register, please visit chicago.gov/businessworkshops.
You can find details on the grant below. To apply and learn more, please visit chicago.gov/recoverygrant.
Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for a grant, businesses must meet the following requirements:
  • Four or fewer employees
  • Less than $250,000 annual revenue
  • Located in the City of Chicago
  • In business for one year
  • 25% decrease in revenue due to COVID-19
  • Located in a low-income Community Area (view map)
  • Search for your Community Area
Required Documentation
Applicants must upload the following documents:
  • A business bank statement from 2020 that includes the business address and business name
  • A valid business license dated 05/01/19 or earlier
  • A valid identification card (driver’s license, CityKey, etc.)
  • A completed W9 form (access a fillable form here)
Grant Details
  • One-time grant of $5,000
  • Grant funds must be used for working capital (rent, payroll, utilities, taxes, insurance, operations)
Timeline
  • 04/28: Grant application is available
  • 05/04: Grant application closes at 5:00pm CDT
  • 05/11: Grant recipients are chosen via lottery and notified of their acceptance. ACH payments are initiated – funds should be received within 2 business days.
Applications are available in Spanish and questions can be submitted to the Recovery Grant Team via these webforms in English or Spanish.
Please note that funds available through the Recovery Grant Program and the Chicago Small Business Resiliency Loan Fund are intended to complement the federal financing available through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA resumed accepting Paycheck Protection Program applications from participating lenders on Monday, April 27 at 9:30am CDT. Click here to find an eligible Paycheck Protection Program lender. If you need assistance navigating the funding and resource landscape during the COVID-19 outbreak, please reach out to a Small Business Resource Navigator for individualized 1:1 support.
I want to thank all of you for your persistence and dedication during this incredibly difficult time. Your City government will continue to fight for our small businesses and we will continue providing information and resources to navigate this crisis.
Sincerely,
Rosa Escareno
BACP Commissioner”

 

Business Taxes, General Information, General Tax Topics, Self Employed, Small Business, Tax Deductions, Uncategorized

Economic impact payments: What you need to know.

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Check IRS.gov for the latest information:

No action needed by most people at this time

THE INFORMATION HAS BEEN COPIED AND PASTED FROM IRS NEWSWIRE. ISSUE NUMBER:IR-2020-61, March 30, 2020

“WASHINGTON – The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today announced that distribution of economic impact payments will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. However, some seniors and others who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment.

Who is eligible for the economic impact payment?
Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible.

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples. Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child.

How will the IRS know where to send my payment?
The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible.

For people who have already filed their 2019 tax returns, the IRS will use this information to calculate the payment amount. For those who have not yet filed their return for 2019, the IRS will use information from their 2018 tax filing to calculate the payment. The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the return filed.

The IRS does not have my direct deposit information. What can I do?
In the coming weeks, Treasury plans to develop a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online, so that individuals can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.

I am not typically required to file a tax return. Can I still receive my payment?
Yes. People who typically do not file a tax return will need to file a simple tax return to receive an economic impact payment. Low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities who are otherwise not required to file a tax return will not owe tax.

How can I file the tax return needed to receive my economic impact payment?
IRS.gov/coronavirus will soon provide information instructing people in these groups on how to file a 2019 tax return with simple, but necessary, information including their filing status, number of dependents and direct deposit bank account information.

I have not filed my tax return for 2018 or 2019. Can I still receive an economic impact payment?
Yes. The IRS urges anyone with a tax filing obligation who has not yet filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 to file as soon as they can to receive an economic impact payment. Taxpayers should include direct deposit banking information on the return.

I need to file a tax return. How long are the economic impact payments available?
For those concerned about visiting a tax professional or local community organization in person to get help with a tax return, these economic impact payments will be available throughout the rest of 2020.

Where can I get more information?
The IRS will post all key information on IRS.gov/coronavirus as soon as it becomes available.

The IRS has a reduced staff in many of its offices but remains committed to helping eligible individuals receive their payments expeditiously. Check for updated information on IRS.gov/coronavirus rather than calling IRS assistors who are helping process 2019 returns.”

Although we’ve given you the basics, this is not an all-inclusive article. Should you have questions, need help with tax debt, business tax preparation, business entity creation, business insurance, or business compliance
assistance please contact us online, or call our office toll free at 1-855-743-5765 or locally in Chicago or Indiana at 1-708-529-6604. Make sure to join our newsletter for more tips on reducing taxes, and increasing your wealth.

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General Information, General Tax Topics, Self Employed, Uncategorized

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Warns of Scam Claiming Involvement from IDFPR Official

scam

CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is warning of a survey scam impersonating involvement from a Department official.

Targets receive a text that appears to be from Capital One that says they must complete a banking survey to receive a $50 reward. Upon closing the survey, the target receives a message claiming to be from a Department official that “thanks” them for completing the survey and lists a Department phone number. This is not from IDFPR; it is part of a phishing scam, where scammers are posing as a reputable company to steal your identity or money. The Department will never offer a reward for completing a survey or providing additional information.

To avoid falling victim to phishing scams, please do the following:

• Double-check the message you receive. There may be misspellings or other mistakes in the content of the message.
• Look up the contact information of the company and contact them directly to verify the authenticity of the message.
• Do not click links or download attachments that may be included in the message. That could lead to malware infecting your device.

If you have been the victim of identity theft or believe your personal or financial information may have been compromised, please call the toll-free Identity Theft Hotline through the Illinois Attorney General’s office at 1-866-999-5630 or 1-877-844-5461 (TTY).

Reposted from Illinois E News Release

Business Taxes, cannabis, Chicago cannabis, Family Taxes, General Information, General Tax Topics, Self Employed, Small Business, Tax Debt, Tax Deductions, Tax Planning, Tax Reduction, Uncategorized

Congress Reinstates Expired Tax Provisions—Some Back to 2018

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Congress let many tax provisions expire on December 31, 2017, making them dead for your already- filed 2018 tax returns.

In what has become much too common practice, Congress resurrected the dead provisions retroactively to January 1, 2018. That’s good news. The bad news is that we have to amend your tax returns in our Chicago south loop tax preparation office to make this work for you.

And you can relax when filing your 2019 and 2020 tax returns, because lawmakers extended the “extender” tax laws for both years. Thus, no worries until 2021—and even longer for a few extenders that received special treatment.

Back from the Dead

The big five tax breaks that most likely impact your Form 1040 are as follows:

  1. Exclusion from income for cancellation of acquisition debt on your principal residence (up to $2 million)
  2. Deduction for mortgage insurance premiums as residence interest
  3. 7.5 percent floor to deduct medical expenses (instead of 10 percent)
  4. Above-the-line tuition and fees deduction
  5. Nonbusiness energy property credit for energy-efficient improvements to your residence

Congress extended these five tax breaks retroactively to January 1, 2018. They now expire on December 31, 2020, so you’re good for both 2019 and 2020.
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Other Provisions Revived

Congress also extended the following tax breaks retroactively to January 1, 2018, and they now expire on December 31, 2020 (unless otherwise noted):

  • Black lung disability trust fund tax
  • Indian employment credit
  • Railroad track maintenance credit (December 31, 2022)
  • Mine rescue team training credit
  • Certain racehorses as three-year depreciable property
  • Seven-year recovery period for motorsports entertainment complexes
  • Accelerated depreciation for business property on Indian reservations
  • Expensing rules for certain film, television, and theater productions
  • Empowerment zone tax incentives
  • American Samoa economic development credit
  • Biodiesel and renewable diesel credit (December 31, 2022)
  • Second-generation biofuel producer credit
  • Qualified fuel-cell motor vehicles
  • Alternative fuel-refueling property credit
  • Two-wheeled plug-in electric vehicle credit (December 31, 2021)
  • Credit for electricity produced from specific renewable resources
  • Production credit for Indian coal facilities
  • Energy-efficient homes credit
  • Special depreciation allowance for second-generation biofuel plant property
  • Energy-efficient commercial buildings deduction

Temporary Provisions Extended

Congress originally scheduled these provisions to end in 2019 and now extended them through 2020:

  • New markets tax credit
  • Paid family and medical leave credit
  • Work opportunity credit
  • Beer, wine, and distilled spirits reductions in certain excise taxes
  • Look-through rule for certain controlled foreign corporations
  • Health insurance coverage credit

If you have questions about the extenders, please call us at 855-743-5765. Although we’ve given you the basics, this is not an all-inclusive article. Should you have questions, need help with tax debt, business tax preparation, business entity creation, business insurance, or business compliance
assistance please contact us online, or call our office toll free at 1-855-743-5765 or locally in Chicago or Indiana at 1-708-529-6604. Make sure to join our newsletter for more tips on reducing taxes, and increasing your wealth.

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Business Taxes, Family Taxes, General Information, General Tax Topics, Self Employed, Small Business, Tax Debt, Tax Deductions, Tax Planning, Tax Reduction, Uncategorized

Unlock Tax Deductions with a Rental Property Home Office

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With the start of a new tax year, you’re probably looking for new tax savings opportunities, like our Chicago South Loop Tax Preparation clients.

As you probably know, establishing a home office for your Schedule C or corporate business creates valuable tax deductions.

But it’s not available only for your proprietorship,partnership, or corporate business. If you have rental properties, you can establish a home office to manage your rental properties and deduct the cost on your Schedule E.
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Rentals as a Business

The first hurdle is that your rental activities have to qualify as a “trade or business” under the tax law.

Luckily for you, that’s relatively simple—you’ll need regular and continuous involvement with your rental activities to meet this requirement.

Whether or not your rental activities are a trade or business depends on the facts and circumstances of your particular situation, and tax court cases give us guidance on that.

Qualifying Area

Your second hurdle is setting aside space in your home that qualifies for the home-office deduction.

For this to work, you need to use that space in your residence regularly and exclusively as the principal place of business for your rental activities.
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This sounds hard, and it was hard—before lawmakers changed the rules to include, as a principal place of business, the space you use for administrative or management activities, provided there is no other fixed location where you conduct substantial administrative or management activities.

Home-Office Deduction

Establishing a rental property home office does two things to your household expenses:

  1. Turns non-deductible household expenses into tax deductions.
  2. Moves household expenses normally deductible on Schedule A to your rental properties on Schedule E.

The latter is especially important after passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

  • put a $10,000 limit on your Schedule A state and local tax deductions, and
  • lowered the amount of your mortgage on which you deduct mortgage interest from $1 million to $750,000.

Eliminate Commuting

Without a qualifying home office, your mileage from home to your first business stop and then from your last business stop back home is non-deductible commuting mileage.

But here is what happens with the rental property’s principal office in your home:

  1. You have no commuting mileage from your home to and from your rentals, if the rentals are in the area of your tax home (say, within 50 miles).
  2. You establish your rental property tax home, and if your rentals are outside the area of your tax home, then the mileage from your home to and from the rentals is deductible business mileage because you are traveling outside the area of your tax home.

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Real Estate Professional

If you qualify as a real estate professional under the tax law, then you can deduct 100 percent of your rental losses in the year you incur them.

But there’s a big hurdle to the tax law classification as a real estate professional. You must show that you spend

  • more than 50 percent of your personal service work time in real property trades or businesses in which you materially participate, and
  • more than 750 hours of service during the tax year in real property trades or business in which you materially participate.

Having a rental property home office that qualifies as a tax-code-defined principal place of business makes it easier to qualify as a real estate professional, because your time spent on deductible travel to and from your rental properties counts toward the time requirements.

Claiming Your Deduction

The Schedule E instructions not only fail to provide any explanation about where to put your home-office deduction, but they also do not even mention a home office.

But the instructions do say that you can deduct ordinary and necessary business expenses, and the home office meets that rule. Also, as established in Curphey (a precedent-setting case), the home office is allowable as an expense against income from a rental business.

If you would like to discuss your rental properties with me, please call us directly at 855-743-5765. Although we’ve given you the basics, this is not an all-inclusive article. Should you have questions, need help with tax debt, business tax preparation, business entity creation, business insurance, or business compliance
assistance please contact us online, or call our office toll free at 1-855-743-5765 or locally in Chicago or Indiana at 1-708-529-6604. Make sure to join our newsletter for more tips on reducing taxes, and increasing your wealth.

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Self Employed, Tax Debt, Tax Deductions, Tax Planning, Tax Reduction, Uncategorized

How Serious Is your IRS Letter?

race
Has the IRS sent you a collections letter? How serious is that letter? Can you stroll to the phones, or do you need to break and run to the phones and call for help?

Listed below are the most common IRS collection letters that one may receive when they have tax debt. I’ve listed them in order from stroll to the phones (low detection on the IRS radar) to break and run to the phone lines & get help (requires immediate action).

CP14 – Casually stroll (No sense of real urgency).

CP501 – Put a little pep in your step (Take notice).

CP503 – Speed walk (Decide to do something).

CP504 – Start Jogging (things are getting very serious).
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Letter 1058/LT11 – (Final Levy Notice)—Run like you’re trying to lose weight. —act now or lose your collection due process rights (your right to a hearing and a stop of collection).

CP90/CP91 – Run like you’re trying to lose weight. Another form of Final Notice of Intent to Levy.

CP71 – 10 Day Final Notice of Intent to Levy. RUN LIKE YOU’RE BEING CHASED IN A HORROR MOVIE. Act now, you are out of time.

Although we’ve given you the basics, this is not an all-inclusive article. Should you have questions, need help with tax debt, business tax preparation, business entity creation, business insurance, or business compliance
assistance please contact us online, or call our office toll free at 1-855-743-5765 or locally in Chicago or Indiana at 1-708-529-6604. Make sure to join our newsletter for more tips on reducing taxes, and increasing your wealth.

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Business Taxes, Family Taxes, General Information, General Tax Topics, retirement planning, Self Employed, Small Business, Tax Debt, Tax Deductions, Tax Planning, Tax Reduction, Uncategorized

401k For The Self Employed

solo 401k

You Don’t Have To Work For Others To Have A 401k Plan

In our Chicago South Loop tax preparation office, we often meet people that are ready to leave their jobs & start a new business.  If you’re new to entrepreneurship, or even a veteran (seasoned) business owner, you may not realize that you can start an IRS qualified retirement plan for your business. The best thing about a small business owners solo 401k is that if you’re leaving your old an employer, you can transfer your current 401k plan to your own company’s 401k!

Transferring your 401k to a traditional solo 401k will help you avoid LOSING YOUR INVESTMENT TO TAXES & PENALTIES! Don’t want to leave your employer? No problem! You can still have a traditional or roth 401k plan with your own company, as long as you don’t defer more than the IRS yearly contribution limit.

WHAT DOES IT DO? A traditional solo 401k allows you to exclude income from currents years’ taxes, and defer the income for taxation at a later time. Build your retirement income, and maintain access of up to 50% of the funds’ assets through loans.

WHAT WILL IT SAVE ME?  With the traditional solo 401k, you will be able to defer up to $56,000 of taxable income in 2019, and $57,000 in 2020. For example, if you generate $100,000 in business revenue, expenses, you would be taxed on the remaining $60,000. With a solo 401k, you can defer $19,000 as an employee of your company, and $15,000 for the employer contributions giving you a total deduction of $34,00 (leaving you with a taxable income of $26,000). By using this method you would remove yourself from the 22% tax bracket, and place yourself into the 12% tax bracket giving yourself a tax bill (including self employment taxes) of $4,650 instead of a $13,509 tax bill!

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WHAT CAN I INVEST IN? If you choose the traditional 401k plan, you will be able to invest in securities such as stocks, bonds, ETFs, commodities, and more. Should you choose a self directed Solo 401k, you can invest in things such as real estate, businesses, antiques, and more.

WHAT IF I HAVE OTHER RETIREMENT PLANS? Any contributions you make to other types of retirement accounts, such as IRAs, do not affect your 401(k) contribution limit.

WHY DO I NEED IT? Retirement plans are an important element of a tax reduction plan. While an IRA is a good plan, if you need to access your money, you will have to pay a penalty. Those that can, should have a mix of 401k and traditional and Roth IRA’s.

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Solo 401k Contribution Calculator: What is the maximum amount you can contribute?

The Solo 401k Contribution Calculator allows you to calculate the maximum amount you can contribute to your plan. Click on the link below, enter requested info below and click the “Submit” button to see your results. A PDF document will be generated with the option for you to save or print it. It is very important that you select the correct business type; please note that Sole-Proprietor is selected by default (if your business is a single member LLC, select the Sole-Proprietor type). For an alternative calculator click HERE.

Although we’ve given you the basics, this is not an all-inclusive article. Should you have tax debt help questions, need Chicago business tax preparation, business entity creation, business insurance, or business compliance assistance please contact us online, or call our office toll free at 1-855-743-5765 or locally in Chicago or Indiana at 1-708-529-6604. Make sure to join our newsletter for more tips on reducing taxes, and increasing your wealth.

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