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House and Senate lawmakers have started their August recess, leaving pending tax legislation for after Labor Day. In past years, September has been a busy month for tax legislation and this year is likely to be the same. Before leaving Capitol Hill, lawmakers took actions in several areas related to tax reform.


The IRS remains focused on an issue that doesn’t seem to be going away: the misclassification of workers as independent contractors rather than employees. Recently, the IRS issued still another fact sheet “reminding” employers about the importance of correctly classifying workers for purposes of federal employment taxes (FS-2017-9). Generally, employers must withhold income taxes, withhold and pay social security and Medicare taxes, and pay unemployment tax on wages paid to employees. They are lifted of these obligations entirely for independent contractors, with usually the only IRS-related responsibility being information reporting on amounts of $600 or more paid to a contractor.


A recent Tax Court decision and pending tax reform proposals have intersected in highlighting how stock sales can be timed for maximum tax advantage. The taxpayer in the recent case (Turan, TC Memo. 2017-141) failed to convince the Tax Court that he timely made an election with his broker to use the last-in-first-out (LIFO) method to set his cost-per-share cost basis for determining capital gains and losses on his stock trades on shares of the same company. As a result, he was required to calculate the capital gain or loss on his stock trades using the firm’s first-in-first-out (FIFO) “default” method, which, in his case, yielded a significant increase in tax liability for the year.


Country-by-Country (CbC) reporting is part of a larger initiative by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) known as the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project. CbC reporting generally impacts large multi-national businesses. Because CbC is part of BEPS it is important to be familiar with the core concepts.


An eligible taxpayer can deduct qualified interest on a qualified student loan for an eligible student's qualified educational expenses at an eligible institution. The amount of the deduction is limited, and it is phased out for taxpayers whose modified adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds certain thresholds.


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 tax reporting and filing data for individuals, businesses and other taxpayers for the month of August 2017.


There are two important energy tax credits that can benefit homeowners in 2010: (1) the nonbusiness energy property credit and (2) the residential energy efficient property credit. Collectively, they are known as the "home energy tax credits." With the home energy tax credits, you can not only lower your utility bill by making energy-saving improvements to your home, but you can lower your tax bill in 2010 as well. Eligible taxpayers can claim the credits regardless of whether or not they itemize their deductions on Schedule A. Your costs for making these energy improvements are treated as paid when the installation of the item is completed.

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.

If you have or are planning to move - whether it's a change of personal residence or a change of business address - you want the IRS to know about your change of address. The IRS has recently updated its procedures for taxpayers to follow when notifying the IRS of a change of address. The IRS uses a taxpayer's "address of record" for mailing certain notices and documents that the agency is required to send to a taxpayer's last known address.

Congress returned from its spring recess in April to a full agenda of tax legislation that will impact individuals and businesses. Lawmakers are hoping to complete work on as many bills as possible before their Memorial Day recess but the Senate's timetable may be slowed by many non-tax issues. Among the most pressing bills are a package of tax extenders and estate tax relief. Many taxpayers are also waiting to learn the fate of the 2001-2010 individual marginal tax cuts and the popular first-time homebuyer tax credit.

The IRS is moving quickly to alert employers about a new tax credit for health insurance premiums. The recently enacted health care reform package (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) created the small employer health insurance tax credit. The temporary credit is targeted to small employers that offer or will offer health insurance coverage to their employees. The credit, like so many federal tax incentives, has certain qualifications. Please contact our office and we can arrange to review in detail how the credit may cut the cost of your business's health insurance premiums. The dollar benefits of the credit are substantial and they apply immediately to 2010 premium costs.

The enhanced expensing election under Code Sec. 179 has been extended through December 31, 2010. Under Code Sec. 179, businesses can elect to recover all or part of the cost of qualifying property by deducting (rather than depreciating) the property in the year it is "placed in service," up to a certain limit.

The recently enacted Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act of 2010 includes a comprehensive set of foreign account compliance measures that will impact taxpayers with accounts in foreign banks and other financial institutions. Generally, for payments made beginning in 2013, taxpayers with various types of financial accounts or other interests overseas will be subject to increased reporting and disclosure requirements on those accounts, or face the imposition of 30 percent withholding.

On March 18, 2010, President Obama signed the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act. The $18 billion HIRE Act is expected to be the first of several "jobs" bills out of Congress in 2010. The new law encourages companies to hire unemployed workers and also retain existing workers by providing two key tax incentives: payroll tax relief and a worker retention tax credit. Employers can take a tax credit of up to $1,000 for the year if they hire an unemployed worker and retain the new worker for at least one year.

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.

When your personal property or home is damaged or destroyed by a storm or other catastrophe, the IRS provides some relief ... depending on the amount of the damage and how much income you have in order to absorb at least some of the loss yourself. Property losses caused by damage from certain types of storms and similar "casualties" - from wind and rain to floods and tornadoes - are tax deductible to the extent allowed under Internal Revenue Code Section 165. While the tax law regarding casualty losses from storm damage is complicated, don't be put off -- understanding the tax law is key to maximizing your deduction.

Debt that a borrower no longer is liable for because it is discharged by the lender can give rise to taxable income to the borrower. Debt forgiveness income or cancellation of debt income ("COD" income) is the amount of debt that a lender has discharged or canceled. However, in many situations, the canceled debt is excluded from taxable income.

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.

As 2010 unfolds, small businesses are confronted with tax challenges and opportunities on many fronts. Lackluster consumer spending, combined with tight credit, has many small businesses in a holding pattern. Congress may respond with a new tax credit to encourage hiring. Small businesses are also faced with uncertainty over many temporary provisions in the federal Tax Code. Many of these incentives have expired. At the same time, small businesses are uncertain how health care reform, the fate of the federal estate tax and proposed retirement savings initiatives may impact them.

People are buzzing about Roth Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Unlike traditional IRAs, "qualified" distributions from a Roth IRA are tax-free, provided they are held for five years and are made after age 59 1/2, death or disability. You can establish a Roth IRA just as you would a traditional IRA. You can also convert assets in a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA.

Yes, but only for a limited time. In late December 2009, Congress passed the 2010 Defense Appropriations Act (2010 Defense Act). The new law temporarily extends the eligibility period for COBRA premium assistance through February 28, 2010 and the duration of the subsidy for an additional six months (up to 15 months).

January brought two surprises to Capitol Hill. Health care reform, which appeared to be on a fast track to enactment, was significantly slowed by the Democrats' loss of their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Congress also did not pass a retroactive extension of the federal estate tax for 2010, leaving intact, at least for the immediate future, a new carryover basis regime. The new make-up of the Senate is expected to shift Congress' focus to more job creation measures, possibly with some targeted business tax cuts.

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.

Employees can elect to make voluntary contributions from their salary to certain retirement plans. The type of plan may depend on your employer. Many employers maintain cash or deferred arrangements -- 401(k) plans -- as part of their defined contribution retirement plan. State and local governments can maintain "457" eligible deferred compensation plans. Nonprofit organizations can provide a 403(b) tax-sheltered annuity. And, of course, taxpayers can contribute to an individual retirement account (IRA).

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.)

2009 is quickly coming to a close but there is still time to possibly maximize your federal tax savings for the year. Many year-end tax planning techniques can help you save money. Because of the recession, some of the year-end strategies take on added urgency for individuals affected by a job loss or a reduction in income.

In order to effectively plan your investment transactions, you have to understand how, under federal tax law, you need to net or "offset" capital gains and losses that you experience. Netting your capital gains and losses can help achieve lucrative tax savings benefits and should be part of your year end tax strategy if you sell capital assets that result in gains and losses in 2009.

As the end of 2009 approaches, it is a good time to start year-end tax planning. Between now and December 31, 2009, there is time to put in place some tax saving strategies. Many of these strategies are familiar ones; others are tailored to these challenging economic times.

The saver's credit is a retirement savings tax credit that can save eligible individuals up to $1,000 in taxes just for contributing up to $2,000 to their retirement account. The saver's credit is an additional tax benefit on top of any other benefits available for your retirement contribution. It is a nonrefundable personal credit. Therefore, like other nonrefundable credits, it can be claimed against your combined regular tax liability and alternative minimum tax (AMT) liability.

A consequence of the economic downturn for many investors has been significant losses on their investments in retirement accounts, including traditional and Roth individual retirement accounts (IRAs). This article discusses when and how taxpayers can deduct losses suffered in Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs ...and when no deduction will be allowed.

You may have done some spring cleaning and found that you have a lot of clothes that you no longer wear or want, and would like to donate to charity. Used clothing that you want to donate to charity and take a charitable deduction for, however, is subject to a few rules and requirements.

Employers commonly use per-diem allowance arrangements to reimburse employees for business expenses incurred while traveling away from home on business. Each year, the IRS publishes per-diem rates for travel within the continental U.S. The per-diem rates for meals, lodging and incidental expenses can be used instead of using your actual expenses. There are two approved methods for substantiating your per-diem expenses, including the "high-low" method (found in IRS Publication 1542). This article is intended to help you calculate your per-diem travel expenses under the "high-low" method.

The IRS has released the numbers behind its activities from October 1, 2007 through September 30, 2008 in a publication called the 2008 IRS Data Book. This annually released information provides statistics on returns filed, taxes collected, and the IRS's enforcement efforts.

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.

Even though gas prices have gone down from their record highs six-months ago, many people are looking for ways to save on their energy costs. The Tax Code provides a number of energy tax incentives to encourage individuals and businesses to invest in energy-efficient property and also in alternative sources of energy. One of those incentives is the Code Sec. 25C residential energy property tax credit for individuals.

Many taxpayers are looking for additional sources of cash during these tough economic times. For many individuals, their Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is one source of cash. You can withdraw ("borrow") money from your IRA, tax and penalty free, for up to 60 days. However, the ability to take a short-term "loan" from your IRA should only be taken in dire financial situations in light of the serious tax consequences that can result from an improper withdrawal or untimely rollover of the funds back into an IRA.

The term "luxury auto" for federal tax purposes is somewhat of a misnomer. The IRS's definition of "luxury auto" is likely not the same as your definition.

Although individual income tax returns don't have to be filed until April 15, taxpayers who file early get their refunds a lot sooner. The IRS begins accepting returns in January but does not start processing returns until February. Determining whether to file early depends on various personal and financial considerations. Filing early to somehow fly under the IRS's audit radar, however, has been ruled out long ago by experts as a viable strategy.


If you are finally ready to part with those old gold coins, baseball cards, artwork, or jewelry your grandmother gave you, and want to sell the item, you may be wondering what the tax consequences will be on the disposition of the item (or items). This article explains some of the basic tax consequences of the sale of a collectible, such as that antique vase or gold coin collection.

With the economic downturn taking its toll on almost all facets of everyday living, from employment to personal and business expenditures, your business may be losing money as well. As a result, your business may have a net operating loss (NOL). Although no business wants to suffer losses, there are tax benefits to having an NOL for tax purposes. Moreover, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 temporarily enhances certain NOL carryback rules.

You have carefully considered the multitude of complex tax and financial factors, run the numbers, meet the eligibility requirements, and are ready to convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. The question now remains, however, how do you convert your IRA?

In a period of declining stock prices, tax benefits may not be foremost in your mind. Nevertheless, you may be able to salvage some benefits from the drop in values. Not only can you reduce your taxable income, but you may be able to move out of unfavorable investments and shift your portfolio to investments that you are more comfortable with.

The high cost of energy has nearly everyone looking for ways to conserve and save money, especially with colder weather coming to many parts of the country. One surprising place to find help is in the financial markets rescue package (the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008) recently passed by Congress. Overshadowed by the financial provisions are some very important energy tax incentives that could save you money at home and in your business.

Move over hybrids - buyers of Volkswagen and Mercedes diesel vehicles now qualify for the valuable alternative motor vehicle tax credit. Previously, the credit had gone only to hybrid vehicles. Now, the IRS has qualified certain VW and Mercedes diesels as "clean" as a hybrid.

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.

In response to the record high gas prices, the IRS has raised the business standard mileage reimbursement rate from 50.5 cents-per-mile to 58.5 cents-per-mile. This new rate is effective for business travel beginning July 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008. While the increase is much needed, businesses should evaluate whether the IRS has done enough, or whether a switch to the actual expense method of calculating vehicle expense deductions may make more sense for 2008.

With the prices of energy and food leading to rising inflation in the U.S., many people look to old stand-bys for investment options: Treasury Securities; as well as a relatively new variation, Treasury-Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS). Although many times overlooked by investors, not only can these inflation-indexed Treasury bonds outperform conventional non-indexed bonds when inflation is on the rise, they can be a good addition to your tax-deferred retirement portfolio.

The flagging state of the economy has left many individuals and families to cope with rising gas prices and food costs, struggle with their mortgage and rent payments, and manage credit card debt and other common monthly bills. Whether individuals are contemplating how to pay off their credit card or obtain a mortgage amid the "credit crunch" and "economic downturn," many people may be considering alternative sources of financing to reach their goals, including the tapping of a retirement account.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (2009 Recovery Act) extended the 50-percent additional first-year bonus depreciation allowed under the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, providing a generous boost for many businesses in 2009 in light of the economic downturn. Under the 2009 Recovery Act, all businesses, large or small, can immediately depreciate an additional 50-percent of the cost of certain qualifying property purchased and placed in service in 2009, from computer software to plants and equipment.

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.

No. Even though trash pickup and neighborhood oversight provided by a governmental entity such as a town or county can be figured into the amount of deductible property taxes paid by a homeowner, a payment to a nongovernmental entity is not a deductible tax.

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.

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If you own a vacation home, you may be considering whether renting the property for some of the time could come with big tax breaks. More and more vacation homeowners are renting their property. But while renting your vacation home can help defray costs and provide certain tax benefits, it also may raise some complex tax issues.

If someone told you that you could exchange an apartment house for a store building without recognizing a taxable gain or loss, you might not believe him or her. You might already know about a very valuable business planning and tax tool: a like-kind exchange. In some cases, if you trade business property for other business property of the same asset class, you do not need to recognize a taxable gain or loss.

'Tax risk management" is a fairly recent term first used by large accounting firms to underscore to businesses the opportunities and pitfalls inherent within the particular tax positions taken by a business at any point in time. The collapse of Enron and WorldCom, and Congress's response through Sarbanes/Oxley legislation, have elevated corporate tax departments from what were once sleepy backroom operations to key participants in corporate bottom-line performance. Tax reserves and other tax forecasts now take a more prominent role in SEC-required disclosure and their resulting impact on shareholder value. Corporate boards and top executives are now held directly responsible for tax-related mistakes.

In many cases, employees can elect to reduce their salary and contribute the amounts to a retirement plan. These plans include 401(k) cash or deferred arrangements, 403(b) tax-sheltered annuities, eligible Code Sec. 457 deferred compensation plans of state and local governments and tax-exempt entities, simple retirement accounts, and plans for self-employed persons such as a SEP individual retirement account (SEP IRA).

In a final session, Congress approved a $45.1 billion package of tax extenders and other tax breaks during the night of December 8-9. The Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 (H.R. 6111) renews many valuable - but temporary - tax breaks for individuals and businesses, including the state and local sales tax deduction, the higher education tuition deduction and employer tax incentives. The new law also extends some energy tax breaks, makes Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) more attractive and creates new tax incentives.

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 standard mileage rate may be taken in lieu of proving actual expenses such as depreciation on your automobile and the cost of gas. You must still prove that you took the trip for business and that you took it in your vehicle, whether owned or leased. The standard mileage rate applies to the actual miles driven and not simply to miles traveled.

Every year, Americans donate billions of dollars to charity. Many donations are in cash. Others take the form of clothing and household items. With all this money involved, it's inevitable that some abuses occur. The new Pension Protection Act cracks down on abuses by requiring that all donations of clothing and household items be in "good used condition or better.

Uncle Sam takes a tax bite out of almost every asset sold and collectibles are no exception. Indeed, collectibles are currently subject to one of the highest rates of federal taxation on investment property. Capital gain from the sale of a collectible is taxed at 28 percent.

If you're thinking about setting up employees as telecommuters, you're not alone. Businesses ranging from large multi-nationals to small shops know that telecommuting not only can improve worker morale and performance, it can also save you and your employees money. What's not to like about zero commuting costs and no office rent? You can also sell the benefits of telecommuting by alerting employees to some significant tax breaks.

The new Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act (TIPRA), signed into law in May, makes some important changes to offers-in-compromise (OIC). The new rules now require taxpayers to make nonrefundable partial payments with a submission of any OIC made on or after July 16, 2006. Taxpayers should be aware of the new requirements as the IRS is known for granting few OICs. Not complying with the new rules will likely increase the chances that the IRS will reject your offer.

Starting in 2010, the $100,000 adjusted gross income cap for converting a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA is eliminated. All other rules continue to apply, which means that the amount converted to a Roth IRA still will be taxed as income at the individual's marginal tax rate. One exception for 2010 only: you will have a choice of recognizing the conversion income in 2010 or averaging it over 2011 and 2012.

No. Generally, payments that qualify as alimony are included in the recipient's gross income and are deducted from the payor's gross income. However, not all payments between spouses qualify as alimony.

Ordinarily, you can deduct the fair market value (FMV) of property contributed to charity. The FMV is the price in an arm's-length transaction between a willing buyer and seller. If the property's value is less than the price you paid for it, your deduction is limited to FMV. In some cases, you must submit an appraisal with your tax return.

Taxpayers who do not meet the requirements for the home sale exclusion may still qualify for a partial home sale exclusion if they are able to prove that the sale was a result of an unforeseen circumstance. Recent rulings indicate that the IRS is flexible in qualifying occurrences as unforeseen events and allowing a partial home sale exclusion.

The actual date a business asset is placed in service is important because it affects when depreciation may be claimed for tax purposes. Depreciation begins in the tax year that an asset is placed in service. The placed-in-service date is especially important in the case of end-of-tax year acquisitions.

No, parking tickets are not deductible. Internal Revenue Code Sec. 162 (a) provides that no deduction is allowed for fines or penalties paid to a government (U.S. or foreign, federal or local).

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

When trying to maximize retirement savings contributions, you may find you have contributed too much to your IRA. Typically, you either have too much income to qualify for a certain IRA or you can't recall what contributions you made until they are added up at tax time and you discover they were too much. There are steps you can take to correct an excess contribution.

Starting for tax year 2005, businesses have been able to take a new deduction based on income from manufacturing and certain services. Congress defined manufacturing broadly, so many businesses -just not those with brick and mortar manufacturing plants-- will be able to claim the deduction. The deduction is 3 percent of net income from domestic production for 2005 and 2006. This percentage rises to 6 percent and then 9 percent in subsequent years.

Information returns usually arrive in January or February and consist of either Form 1099 or Form 1098. For some, they seem as ubiquitous as their holiday mail in December. Form 1099s are especially likely to populate your mailbox, being used to report a whole array of income other than wages, salaries and tips. While a Form 1099 is not needed to record every taxable transaction, one Form 1099 can record multiple transactions; for example, from your broker for dividends and stock trades. The payer will send a Form 1099 to you by the end of January and will file the form with the IRS by the end of February. Typical forms are sent out for dividend and interest income, self-employment or independent contractor's income, student loan interest and mortgage interest statements.


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 the date you actually filed the return. This means that if you file your return on May 10, 2009, the IRS will have until May 10, 2012 to look at it and "assess a deficiency;" not April 17, 2012.

Holiday season - a time for giving to friends and family, but not, you hope, to the IRS. Many, if not most, people are aware that the Tax Code imposes a tax on certain gifts, but not everyone is certain as to how this works. How do you know when you've given the gift that keeps on taking - a taxable gift?

You've just disposed of a collectible item (or your entire collection), such as an old coin, artwork, figurine, or even those old baseball cards you somehow managed to keep away from the spokes of your bike and your mother's desire to clear some space, and got a sum of money for your efforts. Congratulations, you've just had a taxable event. How do you calculate your gain (assuming you actually have one) so that you can pay the taxes? To do this, you need to answer a few more questions.

Generally, mental disability must be permanent. However, you may be able to withdraw a portion up to the amount allowable as a medical expense deduction for the year.

It's back-to-school time and many families are looking for ways to stretch their education dollars. To help, there are some generous tax breaks. Deductions and credits are available and while they won't lower the cost of education, they can lower the tax bill.

The Tax Code encourages charitable donations by businesses and industries. In fact, it is one tax incentive that President Bush has told his tax reform panel that he wants to preserve and strengthen. Taxpayers can make many different types of contributions, including inventory.

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.

Whether a parent who employs his or her child in a family business must withhold FICA and pay FUTA taxes will depend on the age of the teenager, the amount of income the teenager earns and the type of business.

Owning a vacation home is a common dream that many people share...a special place to get away from the weekday routine, relax and maybe, after you retire, a new place to call home.

A remainder interest is the interest you receive in property when a grantor transfers property to a third person for a specified length of time with the provision that you receive full possessory rights at the end of that period. The remainder is "vested" if there are no other requirements you must satisfy in order to receive possession at the end of that period, such as surviving to the end of the term. This intervening period may be for a given number of years, or it may be for the life of the third person. Most often, this situation arises with real estate, although other types of property may be transferred in this fashion as well, such as income-producing property held in trust. The holder of a remainder interest may wish to sell that interest at some point, whether before or after the right to possession has inured.

The federal government makes a lot of money from interest people owe on their taxes. Unless you are proactive, interest will accrue and before you know it, your original tax bill will be much higher. You can stop interest from accruing if you act early. Thanks to a new law, the government will also pay you interest in some cases.

If you pay for domestic-type services in your home, you may be considered a "domestic employer" for purposes of employment taxes. As a domestic employer, you in turn may be required to report, withhold, and pay employment taxes on a calendar-year basis. The reporting rules apply to both FICA and FUTA taxes, as well as to income taxes that domestic employees elect to have withheld from their wages. The FICA tax rate, applied separately to the employer's share and the employee's share, is 7.65 percent.

This is a simple question, but the question does not have a simple answer. Generally speaking the answer is no, closing costs are not deductible when refinancing. However, the answer depends on what you mean by "closing costs" and what is done with the money obtained in the refinancing.

The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (2004 Jobs Act) changed the rules for start-up expenses in both favorable and unfavorable ways. Start-up expenditures are amounts that would have been deductible as trade or business expenses, had they not been paid or incurred before the business began. Prior to the 2004 Jobs Act, a taxpayer had to file an election to amortize start-up expenditures over a period of not less than 60 months, no later than the due date for the tax year in which the trade or business begins.

Most homeowners have found that over the past five to ten years, real estate -especially the home in which they live-- has proven to be a great investment. When the 1997 Tax Law passed, most homeowners assumed that the eventual sale of their home would be tax free. At that time, Congress exempted from tax at least $250,000 of gain on the sale of a principal residence; $500,000 if a joint return was filed. Now, those exemption amounts, which are not adjusted for inflation, don't seem too generous for many homeowners.

Loans without interest or at below-market interest rates are recharacterized so that lenders must recognize market-rate interest income. Below-market loans are loans for which a rate of interest that is lower than the applicable federal rate (AFR) -a traditional interest benchmark issued each month by the Treasury Department-- is charged.

Asset protection planning is the process of organizing one's assets and affairs in advance to guard against risks to which the assets would otherwise be subject. The phrase "in advance" warrants strong emphasis. One who is planning to protect assets must be cautious and avoid the negative implications that may follow if there are creditors who are entitled to remedies under applicable fraudulent transfer and similar laws. Asset protection planning may be applied to protect every type of asset, including an operating business or a professional practice.

The bartering system is an ancient form of commerce that still thrives today. From livestock in exchange for grain, to legal advice in exchange for accounting services, money-less trades are still common. However, a major difference between bartering in antiquity versus modern American times is that the IRS wants in on the deal. Just because money does not change hands, does not mean that a traded good or service loses its value, or its taxability. And, unfortunately, the IRS won't accept a pig or a mule for its payment, making cash a necessary part of any barter arrangement when it's time to pay tax on it.


Entertaining business clients and employees at sports events or arts performances can be good for the bottom line; and tax deductible, too. Whether to maintain contacts with existing customers, woo new business, or reward your employees; footing the bill at the ball game or hosting an evening at the theater can go a long way to generate positive returns.

With the exception of some city ordinances, companies are not required to offer benefits to a domestic partner of an employee. One major change occurs on January 1, 2005 when California will start requiring employers to offer domestic partner benefits. Recent legislation in California extends the rights and duties of marriage, including the right to employee benefits, to persons registered as domestic partners. It may signal a trend that other states will follow.


Casualty losses are damages from a sudden, unexpected or unusual event, including natural disasters. These losses are deductible to the extent they fit under specific tax rules. Ironically, however, due to insurance reimbursements and other payments, you may actually have taxable "casualty gain" as the result of a disaster or accident. Casualty losses and gains are reported on Form 4684.


No, taxpayers may destroy the original hardcopy of books and records and the original computerized records detailing the expenses of a business if they use an electronic storage system.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires employers to give former employees, spouses and children the opportunity to continue their group health coverage for 18 months and sometimes longer.p>


If you file a joint return and your taxable income is less than that of your spouse, the "spousal" IRA rules may allow you to contribute up to $5,000 in 2009 (or $6,000 if you are 50 or older) to an individual retirement account (IRA) this year. A "spousal IRA" is a term more commonly used to describe an IRA set up for a nonworking, stay-at-home spouse.


In many parts of the country, residential property has seen steady and strong appreciation for some time now. In an estate planning context, however, increasing property values could mean a potential increase in federal estate tax liability for the property owner's estate. Many homeowners, who desire to pass their appreciating residential property on to their children and save federal estate and gift taxes at the same time, have utilized qualified personal residence trusts.


The IRS has some good news for you. Under new rules, you may be able to gain a partial tax break on the full $250,000 capital gain exclusion ($500,000 if you file jointly with your spouse), even if you haven't satisfied the normal "two out of five year test" necessary to gain that tax benefit. You may qualify for an exception.


As a business owner you have likely heard about the tax advantages of setting up a retirement plan for you and your employees. Many small business owners, however, have also heard some of the horror stories and administrative nightmares that can go along with plan sponsorship. Through marketing information that you receive, you may have learned that a simplified employer plan (SEP) is a retirement plan you can sponsor without the administrative hassle associated with establishing other company plans, including Keoghs.


U.S. citizens and resident aliens working abroad may exclude up to $91,400 of their foreign earned income for 2009. Additionally, expatriates may deduct or exclude their foreign housing costs in excess of a base amount. The housing exclusion is for reimbursed expenses while the deduction is for unreimbursed costs.

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.


If you want to withdraw funds from either your company retirement plan or your individual retirement account, there is a 10% additional tax (penalty) if you make withdrawals before the age of 59 ½. There is an exception to this rule if you make withdrawals from your account of a series of "substantially equal periodic payments."


Q. I converted my regular IRA to a Roth IRA when the account had a high value because the stock market was at an all time high. I paid the required tax on the conversion when the conversion proceeds pushed me up into the 36% tax bracket. The Roth IRA is now worth only about 40% of its original value. Is there any type of tax deduction that I can take based on this loss?


A taxpayer who may have misplaced or lost a copy of his tax return that was already filed with the IRS or whose copy may have been destroyed in a fire, flood, or other disaster may need information contained on that return in order to complete his or her return for the current year. In addition, an individual may be required by a governmental agency or other entity, such as a mortgage lender or the Small Business Administration, to supply a copy of his or a related party's tax return.


U.S. Savings Bonds can be a relatively risk-free investment during time of upheaval in the stock market, such as we are experiencing now. There are two different types of savings bonds for tax purposes. The first includes Series EE bonds and Series I bonds. If you invest in these bonds, you have a choice of reporting interest as it accrues each year you hold the bond until you sell it or redeem it. A second category consists of a special type of savings bond, HH bonds, on which income generally must be reported as accrued.


The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) allows individuals and businesses to make tax payments by telephone, personal computer or through the Internet.


New IRS rules substantially simplify the computation of required minimum distributions (RMDs). In addition, Congress has forced the IRS to adopt new life expectancy tables that reflect longer life expectancies, resulting in distributions to be made over a longer time-period and for the RMD to be smaller than would have been required in previous years. You could realize some significant tax savings.

Making gifts is a useful, and often overlooked, tax strategy. However, when thinking about whether to make a gift, or gifts, to your children or other minors, the tax consequences must be evaluated very carefully. Many times, though, the tax consequences can be beneficial and lower your tax bill.


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?


Throughout all of our lives, we have been told that if we don't want to work all of our life, we must plan ahead and save for retirement. We have also been urged to seek professional guidance to help plan our estates so that we can ensure that our loved ones will get the most out of the assets we have accumulated during our lifetime, with the least amount possible going to pay estate taxes.  What many of us likely have not thought about is how these two financial goals -- retirement and estate planning -- work together. 


Q:  One of my children received a full scholarship for all expenses to attend college this year.  I had heard that this amount may not be required to be reported on his tax return if certain conditions were met and the funds were used specifically for certain types of her expenses.  Is this true and what amounts spent on my child's education will be treated as qualified expenses?


How much am I really worth? This is a question that has run through most of our minds at one time or another. However, if you aren't an accountant or mathematician, it may seem like an impossible number to figure out. The good news is that, using a simple step format, you can compute your net worth in no time at all.


In addition to direct giving during their lifetimes, many people look at how they can incorporate charitable giving in their estate plans. While many options are available, one plan that allows you help charities and preserve and grow assets for your beneficiaries at the same time is a charitable lead annuity trust.


Q: When it comes to investing, I've always played pretty "mainstream" - investing in mutual funds and governments bonds. However, I've heard people talking about tax-sheltered annuities. Is this something I should consider to round out my investments while saving some additional taxes?


Although the old adage warns against doing business with friends or relatives, many of us do, especially where personal or real property is involved. While the IRS generally takes a very discerning look at most financial transactions between family members, you can avoid some of the common tax traps if you play by a few simple rules.


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.


Employers are required by the Internal Revenue Code to calculate, withhold, and deposit with the IRS all federal employment taxes related to wages paid to employees. Failure to comply with these requirements can find certain "responsible persons" held personally liable. Who is a responsible person for purposes of employment tax obligations? The broad interpretation defined by the courts and the IRS may surprise you.


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.


How quickly could you convert your assets to cash if necessary? Do you have a quantitative way to evaluate management's effectiveness? Knowing your business' key financial ratios can provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of your operations and your ability to meet your financial obligations as well as help you chart your company's future.


Raising a family in today's economy can be difficult and many people will agree that breaks are few -- more people mean more expenditures. However, in recent years, the IRS has passed legislation that borders on "family-friendly", with tax credits and other breaks benefiting families with children. Recent legislation also addresses the growing trend towards giving families a break.


For partnerships and entities taxed like partnerships (e.g., limited liability companies), each partner must compute the basis of his/her partnership interest separately from the basis of each asset owned by the partnership. Because the basis of this interest is critical to determining the tax consequences resulting from any number of transactions (e.g., distributions, sale of your interest, etc..), if your business is taxed as a partnership, it is important that you understand the concept of tax basis as well as how to keep track of that basis for tax purposes.


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?


The responsibility for remitting federal tax payments to the IRS in a timely manner can be overwhelming for the small business owner -- the deadlines seem never ending and the penalties for late payments can be stiff. However, many small business owners may find that participating in the IRS's EFTPS program is a convenient, timesaving way to pay their federal taxes.


Stock options have become a common part of many compensation and benefits packages. Even small businesses have jumped on the bandwagon and now provide a perk previously confined to the executive suites of large publicly held companies. If you are an employee who has received stock options, you need to be aware of the complicated tax rules that govern certain stock options -- several potential "gotchas" exist and failing to spot them can cause major tax headaches.


All of us will, at one time or another, incur financial losses - whether insubstantial or quite significant -- in our business and personal lives. When business fortunes head South -- either temporarily or in a more prolonged slide, it is important to be aware of how the tax law can limit the actual amount of your losses and your ability to deduct them. Here are some of the types of losses your business may experience and the related tax considerations to keep in mind in the event of a business downturn.


Q. I am reviewing my portfolio and considering selling some of my stock. How do I determine what tax basis I have in the publicly-traded shares that I own for purposes of determining my gain or loss if I buy and sell multiple shares at different times? Does keeping track of basis really matter?


An attractive benefit package is crucial to attract and retain talented workers. However, the expense of such packages can be cost-prohibitive to a small business. Establishing a tax-advantaged cafeteria plan can be an innovative way to provide employees with additional benefits without significantly adding to the cost of your overall benefit program.


Keeping the family business in the family upon the death or retirement of the business owner is not as easy as one would think. In fact, almost 30% of all family businesses never successfully pass to the next generation. What many business owners do not know is that many problems can be avoided by developing a sound business succession plan in advance.


If you are considering selling business property that has substantially appreciated in value, you owe it to your business to explore the possibility of a like-kind exchange. Done properly, a like-kind exchange will allow you to transfer your appreciated business property without incurring a current tax liability. However, since the related tax rules can be complex, careful planning is needed to properly structure the transaction.


When it comes to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), too much of a good thing can apply. Contributing more than the maximum allowed to your IRA can cause any excess contributions to be subject to a stiff penalty. Fortunately, if you do erroneously over-contribute to your IRA, there are steps that you can take to correct the problem.


Incentive stock options (ISOs) give employees a "piece of the action" while allowing employers to attract workers at relatively inexpensive costs. However, before you accept that job offer, there are some intricate rules regarding the taxation of ISOs that you should understand.


Starting your own small business can be hectic - yet fun and personally fulfilling. As you work towards opening the doors, don't let the onerous task of keeping the books rain on your parade. With a little planning upfront and a promise to "keep it simple", you can get an effective system up and running in no time.


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.


An important IRS ruling shows how the use of trusts to hold personal assets can sometimes backfire if all tax factors are not considered. This ruling also drives home the fact that tax rules may change after assets have already been locked into a trust for a long period of time, making trusts sometimes inflexible in dealing with changing tax opportunities.


Q. My wife and I are both retired and are what you might call "social gamblers". We like to play bingo and buy lottery tickets, and take an occasional trip to Las Vegas to play the slot machines. Are we required to report all of our winnings on our tax return? Can we deduct our losses?


It can happen to any busy small business owner with inadequate tax assistance - depreciation deductions lost to errors or oversight. While amending and refiling your tax returns can help you recover depreciation lost in recent years, there is another remedy available that will allow a current deduction for depreciation going back to even "closed" tax years.


Probably one of the more difficult decisions you will have to make as a consumer is whether to buy or lease your auto. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of buying vs. leasing a new car or truck before you get to the car dealership can ease the decision-making process and may alleviate unpleasant surprises later.


In addition to decisions that affect the day to day operations of the company, the new business owner will also be faced with accounting and tax related decisions. Whether to use the cash or accrual method of accounting, for example, although not always a matter of choice, is an important decision that must be considered carefully.


When you experience a change in employment, probably the last thing on your mind is your 401(k)-plan distribution. Since mishandling this transaction can have detrimental tax effects, make sure that you understand all aspects of the distribution options available to you and act accordingly before you walk out the door.


Talking about money with your aging parents can be awkward but is a necessary step to make sure that their needs will be met during their lifetime. Taking a few minutes to talk with your parents about their finances can give all of you more peace of mind.


As you open the doors of your new business, the last thing on your mind may be the potential for loss of profits through employee oversight or theft - especially if you are the only employee. However, setting up some basic internal controls to guard against future loss before you hire others can save you headaches in the future.


You're 57 years old and as part of an early retirement package, you've just been offered a large cash bonus and salary continuation, along with a lump sum payment from the company retirement plan and continuing medical benefits. Is this a dream come true or a potential financial nightmare?


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 United States is currently experiencing the largest influx of inpatriates (foreign nationals working in the U.S.) in history. As the laws regarding United States taxation of foreign nationals can be quite complex, this article will answer the most commonly asked questions that an inpatriate may have concerning his/her U.S. tax liability and filing requirements.


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.