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Tax Tips for Individuals Selling Their Home

August 26th, 2013

Here are some helpful tips for you if you’re selling your main home this summer or sometime this year. Even if you make a profit from the sale of your home, you may not have to report it as income.

Here are 10 tips from the IRS to keep in mind when selling your home.

1. If you sell your home at a gain, you may be able to exclude part or all of the profit from your income. This rule generally applies if you’ve owned and used the property as your main home for at least two out of the five years before the date of sale.

2. You normally can exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from your income ($500,000 on a joint return). This excluded gain is also not subject to the new Net Investment Income Tax, which is effective in 2013.

3. If you can exclude all of the gain, you probably don’t need to report the sale of your home on your tax return.

4. If you can’t exclude all of the gain, or you choose not to exclude it, you’ll need to report the sale of your home on your tax return. You’ll also have to report the sale if you received a Form 1099-S, Proceeds From Real Estate Transactions.

5. Use e-file to prepare and file your 2013 tax return next year. E-file software will do most of the work for you. If you prepare a paper return, use the worksheets in Publication 523, Selling Your Home, to figure the gain (or loss) on the sale. The booklet also will help you determine how much of the gain you can exclude.

6. Generally, you can exclude a gain from the sale of only one main home per two-year period.

7. If you have more than one home, you can exclude a gain only from the sale of your main home. You must pay tax on the gain from selling any other home. If you have two homes and live in both of them, your main home is usually the one you live in most of the time.

8. Special rules may apply when you sell a home for which you received the first-time homebuyer credit. See Publication 523 for details.

9. You cannot deduct a loss from the sale of your main home.

10. When you sell your home and move, be sure to update your address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service. File Form 8822, Change of Address, to notify the IRS.

Simplified Option for Home Office Deduction

July 29th, 2013

Do you work from home? If so, you may be familiar with the home office deduction, available for taxpayers who use their home for business. Beginning with the taxable year 2013, there is a new, simpler option to figure the business use of your home.

This simplified option does not change the rules for who may claim a home office deduction. It merely simplifies the calculation and record keeping requirements. The new option can save you a lot of time and will require less paperwork and record keeping.

Here are six facts to know about the new, simplified method to claim the home office deduction.

1. You may use the simplified method when you file your 2013 tax return next year. If you use this method to claim the home office deduction, you will not need to calculate your deduction based on actual expenses. You may instead multiply the square footage of your home office by a prescribed rate.

2. The rate is $5 per square foot of the part of your home used for business. The maximum footage allowed is 300 square feet. This means the most you can deduct using the new method is $1,500 per year.

3. You may choose either the simplified method or the actual expense method for any tax year. Once you use a method for a specific tax year, you cannot later change to the other method for that same year.

4. If you use the simplified method and you own your home, you cannot depreciate your home office. You can still deduct other qualified home expenses, such as mortgage interest and real estate taxes. You will not need to allocate these expenses between personal and business use. This allocation is required if you use the actual expense method. You’ll claim these deductions on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions.

5. You can still fully deduct business expenses that are unrelated to the home if you use the simplified method. These may include costs such as advertising, supplies and wages paid to employees.

6. If you use more than one home with a qualified home office in the same year, you can use the simplified method for only one in that year. However, you may use the simplified method for one and actual expenses for any others in that year.

Tips on Reporting Gambling Income and Losses

July 24th, 2013

Whether you roll the dice, play cards or bet on the ponies, all your winnings are taxable. Here are six tax tips for the casual gambler.

1. Gambling income includes winnings from lotteries, raffles, horse races and casinos. It also includes cash and the fair market value of prizes you receive, such as cars and trips.

2. If you win, you may receive a Form W-2G, Certain Gambling Winnings, from the payer. The form reports the amount of your winnings to you and the IRS. The payer issues the form depending on the type of gambling, the amount of winnings, and other factors. You’ll also receive a Form W-2G if the payer withholds federal income tax from your winnings.

3. You must report all your gambling winnings as income on your federal income tax return. This is true even if you do not receive a Form W-2G.

4. If you’re a casual gambler, report your winnings on the “Other Income” line of your Form 1040, U. S. Individual Income Tax Return.

5. You may deduct your gambling losses on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. The deduction is limited to the amount of your winnings. You must report your winnings as income and claim your allowable losses separately. You cannot reduce your winnings by your losses and report the difference.

6. You must keep accurate records of your gambling activity. This includes items such as receipts, tickets or other documentation. You should also keep a diary or similar record of your activity. Your records should show your winnings separately from your losses.

Tax Tips for Starting a New Business

July 8th, 2013

If you plan to start a new business, or you’ve just opened your doors, it is important for you to know your federal tax responsibilities. Here are five basic tips that can help you get started.

Type of Business:

Early on, you will need to decide the type of business you are going to establish. The most common types are sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, S corporation and Limited Liability Company. Each type reports its business activity on a different tax form.

Types of Taxes:
The type of business you run usually determines the type of taxes you pay. The common types of business taxes are income tax, self-employment tax and payroll tax.

Employer Identification Number:
A business often needs to get a federal EIN for tax purposes.  You will need this number even to open your business bank account and report payroll taxes.

Recordkeeping:
Keeping good records will help you when it’s time to file your business tax forms at the end of the year. They help track deductible expenses and support all the items you report on your tax return. Good records will also help you monitor your business’ progress and prepare your financial statements. You may choose any recordkeeping system that clearly shows your income and expenses.

Accounting Method:
Each taxpayer must also use a consistent accounting method, which is a set of rules that determine when to report income and expenses. The most common are the cash method and accrual method. Under the cash method, you normally report income in the year you receive it and deduct expenses in the year you pay them. Under the accrual method, you generally report income in the year you earn it and deduct expenses in the year you incur them. This is true even if you receive the income or pay the expenses in a future year.

Six Facts About the Alternative Minimum Tax

March 9th, 2012

The Alternative Minimum Tax attempts to ensure that anyone who benefits from certain tax advantages pays at least a minimum amount of tax. The AMT provides an alternative set of rules for calculating your income tax. In general, these rules should determine the minimum amount of tax that someone with your income should be required to pay. If your regular tax falls below this minimum, you have to make up the difference by paying alternative minimum tax.

Here are six facts the Internal Revenue Service wants you to know about the AMT and changes for 2011.

1. Tax laws provide tax benefits for certain kinds of income and allow special deductions and credits for certain expenses. These benefits can drastically reduce some taxpayers’ tax obligations. Congress created the AMT in 1969, targeting higher-income taxpayers who could claim so many deductions they owed little or no income tax.

2. Because the AMT is not indexed for inflation, a growing number of middle-income taxpayers are discovering they are subject to the AMT.

3. You may have to pay the AMT if your taxable income for regular tax purposes, plus any adjustments and preference items that apply to you, are more than the AMT exemption amount.

4. The AMT exemption amounts are set by law for each filing status.

5. For tax year 2011, Congress raised the AMT exemption amounts to the following levels

  • $74,450 for a married couple filing a joint return and qualifying widows and widowers;
  • $48,450 for singles and heads of household;
  • $37,225 for a married person filing separately.

6. The minimum AMT exemption amount for a child whose unearned income is taxed at the parents’ tax rate has increased to $6,800 for 2011.

Inflation Adjustments

November 4th, 2011

For tax year 2012, personal exemptions and standard deductions will rise and tax brackets will widen due to inflation.
By law, the dollar amounts for a variety of tax provisions, affecting virtually every taxpayer, must be revised each year to keep pace with inflation. New dollar amounts affecting 2012 returns, filed by most taxpayers in early 2013, include the following:

  • The value of each personal and dependent exemption, available to most taxpayers, is $3,800, up $100 from 2011.
  • The new standard deduction is $11,900 for married couples filing a joint return, up $300, $5,950 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up $150, and $8,700 for heads of household, up $200. Nearly two out of three taxpayers take the standard deduction, rather than itemizing deductions, such as mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes.
  • Tax-bracket thresholds increase for each filing status. For a married couple filing a joint return, for example, the taxable-income threshold separating the 15-percent bracket from the 25-percent bracket is $70,700, up from $69,000 in 2011.

IRS to Go After Wealthy Indian-Americans

April 11th, 2011

Each United States person who has a financial interest in or signature or other authority over any foreign financial accounts, including bank, securities, or other types of financial accounts, in a foreign country, if the aggregate value of these financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year, must report that relationship each calendar year by filing the REPORT OF FOREIGN BANK AND FINANCIAL ACCOUNTS with the Department of the Treasury on or before June 30, of the succeeding year. You can get the required form TDF 90-22.1 along with the instructions from http://www.fincen.gov/forms/bsa_forms

This form is not a part of your tax returns so please remember to file it.  In the meantime, here is the link to an article published in the Times of India which is suggesting that IRS is to target wealthy Indo Americans who stash their monies in India!

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/nri/news/US-taxman-gets-after-Indian-Americans/articleshow/7915510.cms

2010 Tax Returns Filing Deadline Extended to April 18, 2011

January 8th, 2011

The IRS has opened the 2011 tax filing season by announcing that individual taxpayers have until April 18 to file their tax returns.

Taxpayers will have until Monday, April 18 to file their 2010 tax returns and pay any tax due because Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, falls this year on Friday, April 15. By law, District of Columbia holidays impact tax deadlines in the same way that federal holidays do; therefore, all taxpayers will have three extra days to file this year.

Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Oct. 17 to file their 2010 tax returns.  The IRS reminded taxpayers impacted by recent tax law changes that using e-file is the best way to ensure accurate tax returns and get faster refunds.

Filing Deadline to Preserve Tax-Exempt Status

May 7th, 2010

Many tax-exempt organizations must file form 990 by May 17 deadline to preserve tax-exempt status with the IRS.

This crucial filing deadline is looming for many tax-exempt organizations that are required by law to file their Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service or risk having their federal tax-exempt status revoked.

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 mandates that all non-profit organizations, other than churches and church related organizations, must file an information form with the IRS. This requirement has been in effect since the beginning of 2007, which made 2009 the third consecutive year under the new law. Any organization that fails to file for three consecutive years automatically loses its federal tax-exempt status.

http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=222668,00.html

Due Date for Filing Income Tax Returns

April 12th, 2010

April 15 is the due date for filing your Individual, Partnership, LLC and Fiduciary tax returns. 

There are a number of reasons for not filing your tax return by April 15th.  Some people have financial transactions or joint ventures which may be difficult to summarize by the April 15th deadline.  Others simply don’t get around to filing. 

If it sounds familiar and you won’t be able to file your tax return by the deadline, it’s time to start thinking about filing an extension as it can give you extra time to file your returns.

Filing a proper extension can save you from the penalties for late filing assuming that you in fact file the actual returns by the extended due date.

Let’s get together if you would like to file an extension or if you would like to get together before the due date to prepare your returns!