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.

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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.

Schedule-button-nbor an with the IRS click here to call us 1-855-743-5765.

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

What is the De Minimis safe harbor $2,500 Expensing ($5,000 with AFS)?

adult chill computer connection

It’s a new year, and in preparation for the Chicago small business tax preparation season, you can elect the de minimis safe harbor to expense assets costing $2,500 or less ($5,000 with audited financial statements or something similar).

The term “safe harbor” means that the IRS will accept your expensing of the qualified assets if you properly abided by the rules of the safe harbor.

Here are four benefits of this safe harbor:

  1. Safe harbor expensing is superior to Section 179 expensing because you don’t have the recapture period that can complicate your taxes.
  2. Safe harbor expensing takes depreciation out of the equation.
  3. Safe harbor expensing simplifies your tax and business records because you don’t have the assets cluttering your books.
  4. The safe harbor does not reduce your overall ceiling on Section 179 expensing.

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Here’s how the safe harbor works. Say you are a small business that elects the $2,500 ceiling for safe harbor expensing and you buy two desks costing $2,100 each. On the invoice, you see the quantity “two” and the total cost of $4,200, plus sales tax of $378 and a $200 delivery and setup charge, for a total of $4,778.

Before this safe harbor, you would have capitalized each desk at $2,389 ($4,778 ÷ 2) and then either Section 179 expensed or depreciated it. You would have kept the desks in your depreciation schedules until you disposed of them.

Now, with the safe harbor, you simply expense the desks as office supplies. This makes your tax life much easier.

To benefit from the safe harbor, you and I do a two-step process. It works like this:Schedule-button-nb

Step 1. For safe harbor protection, you must have in place an accounting policy—at the beginning of the tax year—that requires expensing of an amount of your choosing, up to the $2,500 or $5,000 limit. We can help you with this.

Step 2. When we prepare your tax return, Howard Tax Prep LLC make the election on your tax return for you to use safe harbor expensing. This requires that I attach the election statement to your federal tax return and file that tax return by the due date (including extensions).

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 Reduction, Uncategorized

Now that you’ve filed, do you need to tell your employer to withhold more or less income to pay your 2019 taxes?

man holding white paper

Reprinted with changes, edits, & permission by the IRS.

Was your refund lower than expected, or did you have an unexpected tax bill when you filed this year? In our south loop Chicago tax preparation office, we saw a slight decrease in income tax refunds for personal 1040 taxes. On the other hand, many of our Chicago business tax preparation clients saw a decrease in their taxes dues thanks to the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. If you are concerned about your tax bill for the 2019 tax year, there are steps that you can take steps to make sure your federal income tax withholding is on the right track for this year.
Checking your withholding at the beginning of the year helps ensure you don’t have too little or too much withheld from your paychecks throughout the year. This is especially
important if you changed your withholding in 2018. A mid-year withholding change in 2018 can have a different full-year impact in 2019. You should also check your withholding any time your personal or financial information changes. Use the Withholding Calculator to help you decide whether you need to change your
withholding.

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Federal taxes operate on a pay-as-you-go basis. This means that you need to pay most of your tax during the year, as you earn the income. Paying too much tax throughout the year will result in a refund while not paying enough can lead to a tax bill, penalties and interest when you file. One way to avoid owing a balance is to correctly calculate and adjust how much tax you should have withheld from your wages. Use the Withholding Calculator to help you decide whether you need to change your withholding.

Another option is to consider making quarterly estimated tax payments. Those who
don’t pay taxes through withholding, or don’t pay enough tax that way, may still use the Withholding Calculator to determine if they have to pay estimated tax quarterly during the year to the IRS. Those who are self-employed generally pay tax this way. See Form
1040-ES, Estimated Taxes for Individuals, for details. Visit IRS.gov/payasyougo to learn more about withholding and to determine if you should be making estimated tax payments. You are in the driver’s seat. Check your withholding today.

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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Never miss another tip again! Join our newsletter, to receive tax reduction/wealth building tips delivered right to your inbox!

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

Owe taxes? What to do when you owe the IRS.

Listen, I’ve been there. You know the place where you’re afraid to open the notice from the IRS because you think they are coming for your right arm and both legs? The place where you KNEW that you should have been paying more through out the year, but you needed your money, so you chose go exempt from Federal taxes? Or how about the place where you thought you were paying enough to the IRS, and to your surprise you wound up with a tax bill! Listen to this quick podcast below by clicking the play button, or listen on iTunes by searching “small biz tax lady.”

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I talk about if you should file, your payment options, and why you need to read your IRS notices. If you have a more complicated case (such as refund taken due to spousal debt, IRS wage garnishments, or a pending levy, please call us immediately at 855-743-5765 or email me directly at thoward@howardtaxprep.com

Have a podcast idea? Send me your suggestions at podcast@howardtaxprep.com or inbox me.