Weekly Tax Brief
- Published: 06 August 2019 06 August 2019
If you’re lucky enough to be a winner at gambling or the lottery, congratulations! But be aware there are tax consequences. You must report 100% of your winnings as taxable income. If you itemize deductions, you can deduct losses but only up to the amount of winnings. You report lottery winnings as income in the year you actually receive them. In the case of non-cash prizes (such as a car), this would be the year the prize is received. With cash, if you take the winnings in annual installments, you only report each year’s installment as income for that year. These are just the basic rules. Contact us with questions. We can help you minimize taxes and stay in compliance with all requirements.
- Published: 29 July 2019 29 July 2019
You may have heard of the “nanny tax.” But even if you don’t employ a nanny, it may apply to you. Hiring a housekeeper or other household employee (who isn’t an independent contractor) may make you liable for federal income tax, Social Security and Medicare (FICA) tax and federal unemployment tax. You may also have state tax obligations. Employment taxes are then reported on your tax return. Contact us for assistance.
- Published: 24 June 2019 24 June 2019
If you’re thinking about relocating to another state in retirement, consider the impact of state and local taxes. It may seem like a state with no income tax is a smart choice, but you also have to factor in property and sales taxes, as well as any state estate tax. If you make a move to a new state and want to escape taxes in the state you came from, it’s important to establish legal domicile in the new location. How? Take steps such as buying a new home, changing your mailing address, registering to vote and getting a driver’s license in the new state. Before deciding where to live in retirement, do some research and contact us. We can help you avoid unpleasant tax surprises.
- Published: 18 June 2019 18 June 2019
The IRS just released its audit statistics for the 2018 fiscal year, and fewer taxpayers had their returns examined compared with prior years. Overall, just 0.59% of individual tax returns were audited (down from 0.62% in 2017). This was the smallest number of audits conducted since 2002. However, even though a small percentage of returns are being chosen for audit these days, that will be little consolation if yours is one of them. The easiest way to survive an IRS audit is to prepare. On an ongoing basis, systematically maintain documentation (invoices, bills, canceled checks, receipts, or other proof) for all items reported on your returns. Contact us if you receive an IRS audit letter.
- Published: 07 June 2019 07 June 2019
If you’re a business owner with children, hiring them for the summer can provide many benefits. One is tax savings. By shifting business income to a child as wages for services performed, you can turn your high-taxed income into tax-free or low-taxed income. You may also be able to realize payroll tax savings (depending on the child’s age and how your business is organized) and enable retirement plan contributions for the children. Everybody wins! Many rules apply. Contact us to learn more.
- Published: 28 May 2019 28 May 2019
Many people choose to pass assets to the next generation during life, whether to reduce the size of their taxable estate, to help out family members or simply to see their loved ones enjoy the gifts. If you’re considering lifetime gifts, be aware that which assets you give can affect the tax consequences. For example, to minimize your heir’s income tax, gift property that hasn’t appreciated significantly while you’ve owned it. The heir can sell the property at a minimal income tax cost. Contact us to discuss the tax consequences of any gifts you’d like to make.
- Published: 24 May 2019 24 May 2019
If you spend money in the course of doing business, you want to be able to deduct it on your tax return. But in order to write off expenses, they must meet certain requirements. Under federal tax law, you can deduct “ordinary and necessary” business expenses. In general, an expense is considered ordinary if it’s common or customary in the particular trade or business. A necessary expense is defined as being helpful or appropriate. In order to be deductible, an expense must also be reasonable in relation to the benefit expected. Consult with us for guidance.
- Published: 17 May 2019 17 May 2019
To save money, your business may treat workers as independent contractors, rather than employees. Be aware that the IRS looks for businesses that improperly classify workers. It’s best to handle independent contractors so the relationships comply with tax law. This includes not controlling HOW the workers perform their duties, not treating them like employees, and providing annual Forms 1099. You can file optional IRS Form SS-8 to receive a determination of a worker’s status. But filing this form may trigger an audit. Contact us for ways to proactively plan ahead.
- Published: 13 May 2019 13 May 2019
Section 529 plans are a popular education-funding tool because of tax and other benefits. A savings plan can fund expenses beyond college tuition on a tax-free basis. The TCJA expands the definition of qualified expenses to generally include elementary and secondary school tuition. However, tax-free distributions used for such tuition are limited to $10,000 per year. Contact us with questions.
- Published: 10 May 2019 10 May 2019
Have you recently started a new business or are you contemplating starting one? Keep in mind that not all start-up expenses can be deducted on your federal tax return right away. Some expenses probably must be amortized over time. You might be able to make an election to deduct up to $5,000 currently, but the deduction is reduced by the amount by which your total start-up costs exceed $50,000. You can also deduct $5,000 of the organizational costs of creating a corporation or partnership. Contact us. We can help you maximize deductions for a start-up business.