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

Staying Out Of Trouble With “Gigs”

hustle led signage
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In our Chicago South Loop Tax Preparation office, we often help people with tax bills through our tax debt help services. After seeing so many get into tax trouble with their side gigs, we decided to give some pointers on how to stay out of trouble for those with side gigs.

Let me give you a scenario: You’ve got a great job, and you’re moonlighting as a graphics designer on a freelancer website. All your clients are paying you through PayPal & CashApp, and honestly, you’re cleaning up. An easy extra couple thousand dollars each month. How do you report that income?

Legally, you’re bound to report ANY income you have, but these days, with so many folks doing their side gigs, are you actually reporting it? There’s actually even a darker side to this, though, and it’s nothing really new. Tipped employees – those like servers and bartenders who have for years existed on tips from their customers, have had this challenge for decades. Legally, they, too, are required to report all their income. Do they?
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So what happens when you don’t report all of your income? You could get audited, if you earn over a certain amount the third party vendor can report your income to the IRs, but sometimes, the real place where not reporting your income can trip you up is… when you want FINANCE anything. In many cases, your ability to borrow money is based strongly not only on your repayment history, but also on your income. Guess where the bank or lender gets that information? Your tax returns, especially if you are a W2 employee.

Now, before you go and fall on your sword and claim every dime, understand there are a myriad of ways in which you can mitigate your tax bill even as you claim every dime you make. It could be by forming a S-corp, funding a retirement account, or shifting your income, starting a nonprofit, trust, or any one of a number of ways. As a result, though, especially if you create a so-called “pass-through” entity, you’ll have the ability to claim the income you’re legally responsible for AND make use of the deductions and protections afforded to these types of entities.

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More importantly, it’s not expensive to set these up and the bookkeeping and tax preparation is very simple in such a small business. In the end, you’ll have the best of both worlds.

Although we’ve given you the basics, this is not an all-inclusive article. Should you have questions, or need business tax preparation, business entity creation, business insurance, or business compliance assistance please contact us online, or call our office at 855-743-5765. 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, notary, retirement planning, Self Employed, signing agent, Small Business, Tax Deductions, Tax Planning, Tax Reduction, Uncategorized

HUGE WIN FOR NOTARY SIGNING AGENTS

women s in gray turtleneck sweater pointing white contract paper

Author Trudy M. Howard

In our South Loop Chicago Tax Preparation office, Howard Tax Prep LLC works with entrepreneurs from various industries; however, there are 2 industries that give entrepreneurs a built in self-employment tax deduction. To take advantage of built in self employment tax reductions, one must be employed as a minister, or a notary. While this article will deal with notary signing agents, the same concept can also be applied to ministers.

Per IRS publication 17: “Notary public. Report payments for these services on Schedule C (Form 1040) or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040). These payments aren’t subject to self-employment tax.” ees received for services performed as a notary public. Also, the instructions for IRS schedule SE reads: “if you had no other income subject to SE tax, enter “Exempt—Notary” on Schedule 4 (Form 1040), line 57. Don’t file Schedule SE.”

So how do you know what part of your loan signing agent payments are for notary services only? It’s simple, you count the # of stamps that you made, and exclude your travel, printing, and shipping/faxing cost. For example, let’s say that you have a 30 page loan document, and you charge $80 for the the total signing, $30 of which is strictly for the notary stamps. Using the above example, if you properly DOCUMENT your job, you can exclude the $30 (the charge for each stamp) from self-employment taxes (the 15.3% Medicare & Social Security taxes aka FICA).

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Although I’m pretty sure that you probably don’t want to do anymore documentation, the IRS requires documentation for deductions, and this is a HUGE deduction! Don’t let the lack of documentation, or lack of tax preparers knowledge keep you from taking advantage of the self employment tax reduction for notaries/signing agents (& ministers). While most tax reduction strategies require the use entities, retirement vehicles, and state laws, this simple yet effective tax deduction only requires you to itemize your notary fees, & document your work. Below, please find a basic example of the potential savings.

$80,000 Signing agent income.
-$20,000 expenses
$60,000 in taxable income.
$60,000 in taxable for self-employment taxes.
Self-employment taxes on $60,00=$8,478
Income taxes assuming single person no children=$4,013  TOTAL TAX BILL=$12,491

$80,000 Signing agent income.
-$20,000 expenses
$60,000 in taxable income.
$30,000 taxable income for self-employment taxes
Self-employment taxes on $30,000=$4,239 EASY TAX SAVINGS OF $4,239.
Income taxes assuming single person no children=$4,013. TOTAL TAX BILL=$8,252

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

Impact of Death, Retirement, & Disability on the 179 Tax Deduction

hospital work process

What tax effect would death, retirement, or disability have on you or your business?

Here’s an easy example to illustrate.

Let’s say that in 2017, you purchased (for business use) a pickup truck with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 6,000 pounds. Asserting that you use the pickup 100 percent for business, you expensed the entire $55,000 cost.

What happens to that $55,000 expensed amount if you die, retire, or become disabled before the end of the vehicle’s five-year depreciation period?

Death

If your heirs are not going to pay estate taxes, your death is about as good as it gets. Here’s why:

  • You get to keep your Section 179 deduction. (It goes to the grave with you.)
  • Your pickup truck gets marked up to fair market value. (Remember, you expensed it to zero, but now at your death, the fair market value is the new basis to your heir or heirs.)

Example. Using Section 179, you expensed the entire cost of your $55,000 pickup truck. You die. Your daughter Amy inherits the pickup at its fair market value, which is now $31,000, and sells it immediately for $31,000. Here are the results:

  • You get to keep your Section 179 deduction—no recapture applies.
  • Amy pays zero tax on her sale of the pickup truck.
  • Your estate includes the $31,000 fair market value of the pickup, and if your estate is less than $11.4 million, your estate pays no estate taxes.

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Disability

This is ugly. If you become disabled and you allow your business use of the pickup to fall to 50 percent or below during its five-year depreciable life, you must recapture and pay taxes on the excess deductions generated by the Section 179 deduction.

To make matters worse, you must use straight-line depreciation in making the excess-deduction calculation.

Retirement

With retirement, you have exactly the same problem as you would have if you became disabled. In fact, with retirement, you disable your business involvement, and that makes your pickup truck fail the more-than-50-percent-business-use test, resulting in recapture of the excess benefit over straight-line depreciation.

Takeaways

You need to consider what happens should you become disabled, or retire, or die.

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

IRS PUBLISHES SUMMERTIME TAX TIPS.

person holding black pen

Buying a home? Working a summer job? Volunteering? Activities that are common in the summer often qualify for tax credits or deductions. And, while summertime and part-time workers may not earn enough to owe federal income tax, they should remember to file a return to get a refund for taxes withheld early next year.

Here are some summertime tax tips from the IRS that can help taxpayers during tax season next year:

Marital tax bliss. Newlyweds should report any name change to the Social Security Administration before filing next year’s tax return. Then, report any address change to the United States Postal Service, employers and the IRS to ensure receipt of tax-related items.

Cash back for summer day camp. Unlike overnight camps, the cost of summer day camp may count as an expense towards the Child and Dependent Care Credit. See IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses, for more information.
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Part-time and summer work. Employers usually must withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes from pay for part-time and season workers even if the employees don’t earn enough to meet the federal income tax filing threshold. Self-employed workers or independent contractors need to pay their own Social Security and Medicare taxes, even if they have no income tax liability.

Worker classification matters. Business owners must correctly determine whether summer workers are employees or independent contractors. Independent contractors are not subject to withholding, making them responsible for paying their own income taxes plus Social Security and Medicare taxes. Workers can avoid higher tax bills and lost benefits if they know their proper status.

Though the higher standard deduction means fewer taxpayers are itemizing their deductions, those that still plan to itemize next year should keep these tips in mind:

Deducting state and local income, sales and property taxes. The total deduction that taxpayers can deduct for state and local income, sales and property taxes is limited to a combined, total deduction of $10,000 or $5,000 if married filing separately. Any state and local taxes paid above this amount cannot be deducted.

Refinancing a home. The deduction for mortgage interest is limited to interest paid on a loan secured by the taxpayer’s main home or second home that they used to buy, build, or substantially improve their main home or second home.
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Buying a home.

New homeowners buying after Dec. 15, 2017, can only deduct mortgage interest they pay on a total of $750,000, or $375,000 if married filing separately, in qualifying debt for a first and second home.

For existing mortgages if the loan originated on or before Dec. 15, 2017, taxpayers continue to deduct interest on a total of $1 million in qualifying debt secured by first and second homes.

Donate items. Deduct money. Those long-unused items in good condition found during a summer cleaning and donated to a qualified charity may qualify for a tax deduction. Taxpayers must itemize deductions to deduct charitable contributions and have proof of all donations.

Donate time. Deduct mileage. Driving a personal vehicle while donating services on a trip sponsored by a qualified charity could qualify for a tax break. Itemizers can deduct 14 cents per mile for charitable mileage driven in 2019.

Reporting gambling winnings and claiming gambling losses. Taxpayers who itemize can deduct gambling losses up to the amount of gambling winnings.
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The last two tips are for taxpayers who have not yet filed but may be due a refund and those who may need to adjust their withholding.

Refunds require a tax return.

 Although workers may not have earned enough money from a summer job to require filing a tax return, they may still want to file when tax time comes around.

It is essential to file a return to get a refund of any income tax withheld. There is no penalty for filing a late return for those receiving refunds, however, by law, a return must be filed within three years to get the refund. See the Interactive Tax Assistant, Do I need to file a tax return?

Check withholding. Newlyweds, summertime workers, homeowners and every taxpayer in between should take some time this summer to check their tax withholding to make sure they are paying the right amount of tax as they earn it throughout the year.  Taxpayers should remember that, if needed, they should submit their new W-4 to their employer, not the IRS.

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

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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

Proprietors and Partners Mistakenly Pay Themselves Illegal W-2 Wages

activity board game connection desk

In our Chicago South Loop Tax Preparation office, we often see sole proprietors and partners who are above the Section 199A thresholds look for W-2 wages as a means to salvage the 20 percent deduction allowed by Section 199A. They also often look enviously at the fringe benefits that are available to employees and not to them as sole proprietors or partners.

To overcome getting shorted on the Section 199A deduction or being denied fringe benefits, some sole proprietors and partners instruct their payroll services to make them W-2 employees. When the payroll services do this, the proprietors and partners believe they are now legitimate employees of their proprietorships and partnerships. Wrong. Totally wrong.

  • The sole proprietor may not be a W-2 employee of his or her sole proprietorship.
  • A partner may not be a W-2 employee of a partnership.
  • Some sole proprietors and partners have had their Certified Professional Employer Organization (CPEO) treat them as employees. Also, wrong!
  • Using a CPEO does not create the possibility of paying a W-2 wage to a partner or a sole proprietor.

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Takeaways

The sole proprietor is not a W-2 employee of the proprietorship. He or she is self-employed and operates under the rules for the self-employed. The partner is not a W-2 employee of the partnership. He or she is a partner and is treated as a partner under the
tax rules. Partners receive remuneration for services as guaranteed payments, which are subject to self employment taxes.

The single-member LLC is a proprietorship unless the member elects treatment as an S or a C corporation. Similarly, a multi member LLC is a partnership unless it elects treatment as an S or a C corporation.

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

ILLINOIS CANNABIS LICENSE DEEP DIVE CLASS.

weed

Most recently, Illinois became the second most-populous state to legalize recreational marijuana. Cannabis licenses in Illinois will be issued in 2 groups. In the first wave in mid-2020, the state will award licenses for up to 75 stores, 40 processors and 40 craft growers. In a second wave in December 2021, the state could issue licenses for 110 stores, 60 craft growers and 60 processors.

Although Cannabis is legal on the state level, Federally, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) still list cannabis as a schedule 1 drug. Those wanting to enter the cannabis business need to understand that the cannabis business doesn’t allow the same tax deductions as other business.

Class attendees will learn the following:

  • The different types of licensing offered.
  • How to maximize the point system.
  • The best entities for Cannabis businesses.
  • Complicated Taxation 280E Rules.
  • Software companies & bookkeeping options.

COMMON CANNABIS FAQ’S

  • What is the state of Illinois looking for in cannabis license candidates?

  • Can I start a home based recreational cannabis business?

  • What are my banking options?

  • What strategies can I use to reduce my Federal tax bill?

  • What type of license will be offered?

  • What must I include in a partnership agreement to protect myself?

  • What’s entity is used the most in the Cannabis business?

  • Is there funding available for s socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses & persons?

Get the answers to these questions and more on August 4th 2019! We have teamed up with Chicago Cannabis Consultants to educate consumers about the 4 types of recreational cannabis licenses, funding for social equity applicants, required insurance, and how to reduce Federal taxation. Chicago Cannabis Consultants have served the cannabis industry for the last 5 years in Denver, Nevada, and California. Chicago cannabis consultants have developed effective marketing, management, product development, and distribution techniques which they will be sharing with us during this class.

Light refreshments & small plates will be served until exhausted. 1 TICKET PER PERSON ANY DUPLICATE EMAILS WILL BE KICKED OUT OF THE SYSTEM AND WILL NOT BE ALLOWED ENTRY. To purchase a ticket, you must sign up for our email list here

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

How I went to IRS tax jail, aka IRS withholding compliance program.

woman in jail.jpg

Author: Trudy M. Howard

Have you ever gotten away with something, and found yourself doing it again? Did you keep doing it thinking that you would never get caught, or if you did get caught, you could talk your way out of it? Well that was also me when it came to going exempt on my Federal taxes.

When I was 25 I started working for a major phone company, and I was earning about $70,000 per year. $70,000 wasn’t a shabby salary for a 25 year old single mother, but when the Federal taxes were deducted, I felt as if I was paying more in taxes than I was earning. With the increase in salary I no longer qualified for the earned income tax credit, I didn’t qualify for daycare assistance programs, and I was kicked out of the welfare office when I asked for medical help or food stamps! So what was a girl to do when she felt that she needed more money to survive? Was I supposed to create a budget and stick to it? Should I have stopped dining out? Maybe I should have picked up a side business (which would have created tax planning opportunities) and supplemented my income? While all of these things sound like viable, and reasonable options, 25 year old Trudy was not reasonable, and she certainly wasn’t going to discipline herself to stick to a budget. While discussing my financial crisis (don’t judge me) with a friend, she told me about a “magical thing” called “going exempt from Federal income tax.”
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In order to stop the government from taking $300 and $400 out of my paychecks, “all I had to do (which is the opening statement for all bad ideas)” was write exempt on my W4, hand the form to my employer, and magically, all of the deductions would stop. The first time that I went exempt I was afraid. Was the IRS going to come after me? Was my job going to fire me for not paying taxes? Would I owe the IRS a gazillion dollars? To my surprise (and eventual demise) none of these things happened. In fact, nothing happened, life continued on, and I was happy as jay bird; that is until tax time arrived.

In June of 2002 I received my first IRS tax bill (notice CP51A). I ignored it. More letters came; I ignored them. Certified letters came; I refused to pick them up. The only letter that caught my attention was the CP504 intent to levy, and it only caught my attention because it mentioned the word assets. Me being me, I waited until the last minute to contact the IRS, and after my bank account was levied, I finally understood that when the IRS sends letters, it’s best to call them immediately. One would think that the levy would have changed my ways, but nope! All the levy did was teach me to get tax debt help, and work out a payment plan with the IRS.

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After resolving my tax debt issues, I began the crazy cycle of racking up tax debt, and asking for an installment plan. 10 years into this cycle I finally reached the mother of all IRS agents, and she told me “be careful, because an IRS agents can see that you keep racking up debt, and that you don’t have enough withholding. When you don’t have enough withholdings, the IRS can force you to increase your withholding.” My internal response was “girl bye… I’ve been doing this for years, run the payment plan and shut up” but my external response was “Really they can do that? I always figured that I would settle up with the IRS at the end of the year. I’ll do better this year, I promise.” Little did I know the gig was up, and I was on my way to IRS tax jail.

Merriam Webster defines prison as: “a state of confinement or captivity, or  a place of confinement especially for lawbreakers.” While IRS tax jail is not a physical jail with walls, those that have been placed into the IRS withholding compliance program can tell you that it certainly feels like jail! Once the taxpayer becomes a lawbreaker (by not paying their taxes as they go), they are eventually placed into the IRS withholding compliance program (aka IRS tax jail), and held captive for a minimum of 3 years. During this 3 year period the IRS states that: “your employer must withhold income tax from your wages as if you’re single with zero allowances.”

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To illustrate, in 2019, if a person is earning $70,000 (and there were thrown into IRS tax jail aka withholding compliance program), they would have $400.87 withheld from each paycheck to cover their Federal income taxes. In addition to the Federal tax deduction, every paycheck would also have deductions for Social Security ($166.92), Medicare ($39.04), and state taxes ( I live in Illinois, and in IL the tax would be $133.27. After taxes, the taxpayer would be left with a net pay of $1,952.21, not including deductions for health insurance, dental, vision, life insurance, disability, union dues, and so on. So if the IRS tax jail isn’t physical, how is one cast into IRS tax jail? The IRS sends tax payers to IRS tax Jail by sending letter 2800C to the taxpayers employer. 

Once your employer receives letter 2800C per IRS.gov: “within 60 days the employer must “begin withholding income tax from this employee’s wages based on a withholding rate (or marital status) single, and withholding allowances of 0.” No amount of pleading, threatening, or arguing with your employer will change this. If you switch employers, the IRS will find you. The only thing that you can do is contact the IRS yourself (for the DIY crowd), or you can work with a professional tax debt resolution firm to negotiate with the IRS on your behalf.. Depending on your number of dependents, and marital status, the IRS may show you some mercy. There is always the option of doing nothing, and if you choose to do nothing, you can expect your lock in rate to begin within 60 days, and you will remain in IRS tax jail for a minimum of 3 years.

As with every good story, there is always a silver lining. If during your 3 year bid, you remain a good little taxpayer (by paying your taxes & staying in tax compliance) the warden can release you from IRS tax jail. 

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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