This newsletter is intended to provide generalized information that is appropriate in certain situations. It is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient, for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The contents of this newsletter should not be acted upon without specific professional guidance. Please call us if you have questions.
If you're a small business owner with fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees you may be eligible for the small business health care credit that went into effect in 2010.
What is the Small Business Health Care Credit?
The small business health care tax credit, part of the Affordable Care Act enacted in 2010, is specifically targeted to help small businesses and tax-exempt organizations provide health insurance for their employees. Small employers that pay at least half of the premiums for employee health insurance coverage under a qualifying arrangement may be eligible for this credit.
How Does the Credit Save Me Money?
For tax years 2010 through 2013, the maximum credit is 35 percent for small business employers and 25 percent for small tax-exempt employers such as charities. An enhanced version of the credit will be effective beginning Jan. 1, 2014 and the rate will increase to 50 percent and 35 percent, respectively.
The amount of the credit you receive works on a sliding scale, so the smaller the business or charity, the bigger the credit. Simply put, if you have more than 10 FTEs or if the average wage is more than $25,000, the amount of the credit you receive will be less.
If you pay $50,000 a year toward workers' health care premiums--and you qualify for a 15 percent credit--you'll save $7,500. If you save $7,500 a year from tax year 2010 through 2013, that's a total savings of $30,000. And, if in 2014 you qualify for a slightly larger credit, say 20 percent, your savings go from $7,500 a year to $12,000 a year.
Is My Business Eligible for the Credit?
To be eligible for the credit, you must cover at least 50 percent of the cost of single (not family) health care coverage for each of your employees. You must also have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) and those employees must have average wages of less than $50,000 a year.
Let's take a closer look at what this means. A full-time equivalent employee is defined as either one full-time employee or two half-time employees. In other words, two half-time workers count as one full-timer or one full-time equivalent. Here is another example: 20 half-time employees are equivalent to 10 full-time workers. That makes the number of FTEs 10 not 20.
Now let's talk about average wages. Say you pay total wages of $200,000 and have 10 FTEs. To figure average wages you divide $200,000 by 10--the number of FTEs--and the result is your average wage. In this example, the average wage would be $20,000.
Can Tax-Exempt Employers Claim the Credit?
Yes. The credit is refundable for small tax-exempt employers too, so even if you have no taxable income, you may be eligible to receive the credit as a refund as long as it does not exceed your income tax withholding and Medicare tax liability.
Can I Still Claim the Credit Even If I Don't Owe Any Tax This Year?
If you are a small business employer who did not owe tax during the year, you can carry the credit back or forward to other tax years. Also, since the amount of the health insurance premium payments are more than the total credit, eligible small businesses can still claim a business expense deduction for the premiums in excess of the credit. That's both a credit and a deduction for employee premium payments.
Can I File an Amended Return and Claim the Credit for Previous Tax Years?
If you can benefit from the credit this year but forgot to claim it on your tax return there's still time to file an amended return.
Businesses that have already filed and later find that they qualified in 2010 or 2011 can still claim the credit by filing an amended return for one or both years.
Give us a call if you have any questions about the small business health care credit. And, if you need more time to determine eligibility this year we'll help you file an automatic tax-filing extension.
Canceled debt is normally taxable to you, but there are exceptions. One of those exceptions is available to homeowners whose mortgage debt is partly or entirely forgiven during tax years 2007 through 2012.
Here are 10 things you should know about Mortgage Debt Forgiveness.
1. Normally, debt forgiveness results in taxable income. However, under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, you may be able to exclude up to $2 million of debt forgiven on your principal residence.
2. The limit is $1 million for a married person filing a separate return.
3. You may exclude debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in a foreclosure.
4. To qualify, the debt must have been used to buy, build or substantially improve your principal residence and be secured by that residence.
5. Refinanced debt proceeds used for the purpose of substantially improving your principal residence also qualify for the exclusion.
6. Proceeds of refinanced debt used for other purposes, to pay off credit card debt for example, do not qualify for the exclusion.
7. If you qualify, claim the special exclusion by filling out Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness, and attach it to your federal income tax return for the tax year in which the qualified debt was forgiven.
8. Debt forgiven on second homes, rental property, business property, credit cards or car loans does not qualify for the tax relief provision. In some cases, however, other tax relief provisions -- such as insolvency -- may be applicable.
9. If your debt is reduced or eliminated you normally will receive a year-end statement, Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, from your lender. By law, this form must show the amount of debt forgiven and the fair market value of any property foreclosed.
10. Examine the Form 1099-C carefully. Notify the lender immediately if any of the information shown is incorrect. You should pay particular attention to the amount of debt forgiven in Box 2 as well as the value listed for your home in Box 7.
Don't hesitate to give us a call if you need more information about mortgage debt forgiveness.
Lost Your Job? There Could Be Tax Consequences
Given the current economic conditions, you may be faced with tax questions surrounding a job loss and unemployment issues. Here are some answers:
Q: What if I received unemployment compensation in 2012?
A: Unemployment compensation you received under the unemployment compensation laws of the United States or of a state are considered taxable income and must be reported on your federal tax return. If you received unemployment compensation, you should receive Form 1099-G showing the amount you were paid and any federal income tax you elected to have withheld.
Q: What if I lost my job?
A: The loss of a job may create new tax issues. Severance pay and unemployment compensation are taxable. Payments for any accumulated vacation or sick time also are taxable. You should ensure that enough taxes are withheld from these payments or make estimated tax payments to avoid a big bill at tax time. Public assistance and food stamps are not taxable.
Q: What if I searched for a job?
A: You may be able to deduct certain expenses you incurred while looking for a new job, even if you did not get a new job. Expenses include travel, resume preparation, and outplacement agency fees. Moving costs for a new job at least 50 miles away from your home may also be deductible.
Q: What if my employer went out of business or in to bankruptcy?
A: Your employer must provide you with a 2012 W-2 Form showing your wages and withholdings by January 31, 2013. You should keep up-to-date records or pay stubs until you receive your Form W-2. If your employer or its representatives fail to provide you with a Form W-2, contact the IRS. They can help by providing you with a substitute Form W-2. If your employer liquidated your 401(k) plan, you have 60 days to roll it over to another qualified retirement plan or IRA.
If you have experienced a job loss and have questions, please call us. You need to be prepared for the tax consequences.
Spring is a great time to clean out that growing mountain of financial papers and tax documents that clutters your home and office. Here's what you need to keep and what you can throw out without fearing the wrath of the IRS.
Let's start with your "safety zone," the IRS statute of limitations. This limits the number of years during which the IRS can audit your tax returns. Once that period has expired, the IRS is legally prohibited from even asking you questions about those returns.
The concept behind it is that after a period of years, records are lost or misplaced and memory isn't as accurate as we would hope. There's a need for finality. Once the statute of limitations has expired, the IRS can't go after you for additional taxes, but you can't go after the IRS for additional refunds, either.
The Three-Year Rule
For assessment of additional taxes, the statute of limitation runs generally three years from the date you file your return. If you're looking for an additional refund, the limitations period is generally the later of three years from the date you filed the original return or two years from the date you paid the tax. There are some exceptions:
Assuming that you've filed on time and paid what you should, you only have to keep your tax records for three years, but some records have to be kept longer than that.
Remember, the three-year rule relates to the information on your tax return. But, some of that information may relate to transactions more than three years old.
Here's a checklist of the documents you should hold on to:
You don't ever want to throw these records away until after you sell the securities. And then if you're audited, you'll have to prove those numbers. Therefore, you'll need to keep those records for at least three years after you file the return reporting their sales.
If the profit is more than $250,000/$500,000, or if you don't qualify for the full gain exclusion, then you're going to need those records for another three years after that return is filed. Most homeowners probably won't face that issue thanks to the 1997 tax law, but of course, it's better to be safe than sorry.
Contact us by phone or email if you have any questions about what records you need to keep this spring.
It's April already. Are your taxes done? If not, here's some last-minute tax advice for you:
Remember: Get your documents to us as soon as you can, and we'll help you take care of whatever comes up.
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 you should know about the AMT and changes for tax year 2011.
If you need information about the AMT and your tax situation, please let us know.
If you use part of your home for business, you may be able to deduct expenses for the business use of your home, provided you meet certain IRS requirements.
1. Generally, in order to claim a business deduction for your home, you must use part of your home exclusively and regularly:
2. For certain storage use, rental use or daycare-facility use, you are required to use the property regularly but not exclusively.
3. Generally, the amount you can deduct depends on the percentage of your home used for business. Your deduction for certain expenses will be limited if your gross income from your business is less than your total business expenses.
4. There are special rules for qualified daycare providers and for persons storing business inventory or product samples.
5. If you are an employee, additional rules apply for claiming the home office deduction. For example, the regular and exclusive business use must be for the convenience of your employer.
If you're not sure whether you qualify for the home office deduction please contact us. We'll help you figure it out.
U.S. citizens and resident aliens, including those with dual citizenship who have lived or worked abroad during all or part of 2011, may have a U.S. tax liability and a filing requirement in 2012. Here are 5 tips for taxpayers with foreign income.
1. Filing deadline. U.S. citizens and resident aliens residing overseas or those serving in the military outside the U.S. on the regular due date of their tax return have until June 15, 2012 to file their federal income tax return. To use this automatic two-month extension beyond the regular April 17, 2012 deadline, taxpayers must attach a statement to their return explaining which of the two situations above qualifies them for the extension.
2. World-wide income Federal. law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report any worldwide income, including income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and securities accounts.
3. Tax forms. In most cases, affected taxpayers need to fill out and attach Schedule B, Interest and Ordinary Dividends, to their tax return. Certain taxpayers may also have to fill out and attach to their tax return the new Form 8938, Statement of Foreign Financial Assets. Some taxpayers may also have to file Form TD F 90-22.1 with the Treasury Department by June 30, 2012.
4. Foreign earned income exclusion. Many Americans who live and work abroad qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion. If you qualify for tax year 2011, this exclusion enables you to exempt up to $92,900 of wages and other foreign earned income from U.S. tax.
5. Credits and deductions. You may be able to take either a credit or a deduction for income taxes paid to a foreign country or a U.S. possession. This benefit is designed to lessen the tax burden that results when both the U.S. and another country tax income from that country.
If you had foreign income last year, let us know. We'll help you figure out whether you have any tax liability and if you do, which forms you need to file and when.
Question: How do I know if I have to file quarterly individual estimated tax payments?
Answer: If you owed additional tax for the prior tax year, you may have to make estimated tax payments for the current tax year.
If you are filing as a sole proprietor, partner, S corporation shareholder, and/or a self-employed individual, you generally have to make estimated tax payments if you expect to owe tax of $1,000 or more when you file your return.
If you are filing as a corporation you generally have to make estimated tax payments for your corporation if you expect it to owe tax of $500 or more when you file its return.
If you had a tax liability for the prior year, you may have to pay estimated tax for the current year; however, if you receive salaries and wages, you can avoid having to pay estimated tax by asking your employer to withhold more tax from your earnings.
There are special rules for farmers, fishermen, certain household employers, and certain higher taxpayers.
Contact us if you are unsure whether you need to make an estimated tax payment. The first estimated payment for 2012 is due April 17, 2012.
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