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Owing Back Taxes could Affect Passport Renewal

Posted on February 1st, 2018

Starting in February 2018, individuals with “seriously delinquent tax debts” will be subject to a new set of provisions courtesy of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, signed into law in December 2015.

The FAST Act requires the IRS to notify the State Department of taxpayers the IRS has certified as owing a seriously delinquent tax debt and also requires the State Department to deny their passport application or deny renewal of their passport. In certain instances, the State Department may revoke their passport.

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Employers: Beware of the Form W-2 Scam

Posted on February 1st, 2018

The Form W-2 scam has emerged as one of the most dangerous phishing emails in the tax community. During the last two tax seasons, cybercriminals tricked payroll personnel or people with access to payroll information into disclosing sensitive information for entire workforces.

Last year, more than 200 employers were victimized, resulting in hundreds of thousands of employees with compromised identities. The scam affected all types of employers, from small and large businesses to public schools and universities, hospitals, tribal governments, and charities.

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Updated Withholding Tables for 2018

Posted on February 1st, 2018

Updated income-tax withholding tables have been released for 2018 reflecting changes made by the tax reform legislation enacted last month.

The updated withholding information, available on IRS.gov, shows the new rates for employers to use during 2018. Employers should begin using the 2018 withholding tables as soon as possible, but not later than February 15, 2018. They should continue to use the 2017 withholding tables until implementing the 2018 withholding tables.

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Who Should File a 2017 Tax Return?

Posted on February 1st, 2018

Most people file a tax return because they have to, but even if you don’t, there are times when you should–because you might be eligible for a tax refund and not know it. The six tax tips below should help you determine whether you’re one of them.

1. General Filing Rules. Whether you need to file a tax return this year depends on several factors. In most cases, the amount of your income, your filing status, and your age determine whether you must file a tax return. For example, if you’re single and 28 years old you must file if your income, was at least $10,400 ($20,800 if you are married filing a joint return). If you’re self-employed or if you’re a dependent of another person, other tax rules may apply.

2. Premium Tax Credit. If you purchased coverage from the Marketplace in 2017 you might be eligible for the Premium Tax Credit if you chose to have advance payments of the premium tax credit sent directly to your insurer during the year; however, you must file a federal tax return and reconcile any advance payments with the allowable premium tax credit.

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Tax Filing Season Begins; Tax Returns due April 17

Posted on February 1st, 2018

More than 155 million individual tax returns are expected to be filed in 2018, according to the IRS, which began accepting electronic and paper tax returns on Monday, January 29, 2018. The January 29 opening date was set to ensure the security and readiness of key tax processing systems in advance of the opening and to assess the potential impact of tax legislation on 2017 tax returns.

Note: Although the IRS began accepting both electronic and paper tax returns January 29, paper returns will not begin processing until mid-February as system updates continue.

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Five Tax Breaks that Survived Tax Reform

Posted on February 1st, 2018

Recent tax reform legislation affected many provisions in the tax code. Many were modified, either permanently or temporarily, while some were repealed entirely. Here are five that survived.

1. Mortgage Interest Deduction

While the House bill repealed the mortgage interest deduction, the final version of the act retained it, albeit with modifications. First is that the allowed interest deduction is limited to mortgage principal of $750,000 on new homes (i.e., new ownership). For prior tax years, the limit on acquisition indebtedness was $1 million. Existing mortgages are grandfathered in, however, and taxpayers who enter into binding contracts before December 15, 2017, to close on the purchase of a principal residence before January 1, 2018, and who purchase such residence before April 1, 2018, are able to use the prior limit of $1 million.

2. Personal Taxes: State and Local Income Tax, Sales Tax and Property Tax

In prior years, taxpayers who itemize were allowed to deduct the amount they pay in state and local taxes (SALT) from their federal tax returns. Slated for repeal (with the sole exception of exception of a state and local property tax deduction capped at $10,000) under both the House and Senate versions of the tax bill, SALT remained in the final tax reform bill in modified form. As such, for taxable years 2018 through 2025, the aggregate deduction for property taxes, state, local, and foreign income taxes, or sales taxes is limited to $10,000 a year ($5,000 married filing separately).

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Federal Tax Forms: Which one should you use?

Posted on February 1st, 2018

U.S. citizens and resident aliens use one of three different forms for filing individual federal income tax returns: 1040EZ, 1040A, or 1040. If you’re wondering which form you should use, keep reading.

Form 1040EZ

Form 1040EZ, Income Tax Return for Single and Joint Filers With No Dependents, is the least complicated federal tax form. however, if you file Form 1040EZ, you should be aware that you can’t itemize deductions or claim any adjustments to income or tax credits other than the earned income credit. Use Form 1040EZ if:

  • Your filing status is single or married filing jointly, you claim no dependents, and were under age 65 on January 1, 2018, and not blind at the end of 2017
  • Your taxable income is less than $100,000 and is derived only from wages, salaries, tips, taxable scholarship and fellowship grants, unemployment compensation, or Alaska Permanent Fund dividends
  • Your taxable interest is not over $1,500
  • You don’t owe any household employment taxes on wages you paid to a household employee

Note: You can’t use Form 1040EZ to claim the Premium Tax Credit. You also can’t use this form if you received advance payments of this credit in 2017.

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Donating a Car to Charity

Posted on February 1st, 2018

If you donated a car to a qualified charitable organization in 2017 and intend to claim a deduction, you should be aware of the special rules that apply to vehicle donations.

Note: Deduct contributions to a charity only if you itemize deductions using Schedule A of Form 1040.

 

Charities typically sell donated vehicles. If the vehicle is sold by the charitable organization you donated it to, the deduction claimed by the donor (you) and usually may not exceed the gross proceeds from the sale.

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Tips for a Stress-Free Tax Season

Posted on February 1st, 2018

Earlier is better when it comes to working on your taxes but many people find preparing their tax return to be stressful and frustrating. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. Here are six tips for a stress-free tax season.

  1. Don’t Procrastinate. Resist the temptation to put off your taxes until the very last minute. Your haste to meet the filing deadline may cause you to overlook potential sources of tax savings and will likely increase your risk of making an error. Getting a head start will not only keep the process calm but also mean you get your return faster by avoiding the last-minute rush.
  2. Gather your records in advance. Make sure you have all the records you need, including W-2s and 1099s. Don’t forget to save a copy for your files.
  3. Double-check your math and verify all Social Security numbers. These are among the most common errors found on tax returns. Taking care will reduce your chance of hearing from the IRS. Submitting an error-free return will also speed up your refund.
  4. E-file for a faster refund. Taxpayers who e-file and choose direct deposit for their refunds, for example, will get their refunds in as few as 10 days. That compares to approximately six weeks for people who file a paper return and get a traditional paper check.
  5. Don’t Panic if You Can’t Pay. If you can’t immediately pay the taxes you owe, consider some stress-reducing alternatives. You can apply for an IRS installment agreement, suggesting your own monthly payment amount and due date, and getting a reduced late payment penalty rate. You also have various options for charging your balance on a credit card. There is no IRS fee for credit card payments, but the processing companies charge a convenience fee. Electronic filers with a balance due can file early and authorize the government’s financial agent to take the money directly from their checking or savings account on the April due date, with no fee.
  6. Request an Extension of Time to File (But Pay on Time). If the clock runs out, you can get an automatic six-month extension bringing the filing date to October 15, 2018. However, the extension itself does not give you more time to pay any taxes due. You will owe interest on any amount not paid by the April deadline, plus a late payment penalty if you have not paid at least 90 percent of your total tax by that date.

If you run into any problems, have any questions, or need to file an extension, help is just a phone call away.

 

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Missing Important Tax Forms? Here’s what to do

Posted on February 1st, 2018

Form W-2

You should receive a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, from each of your employers for use in preparing your federal tax return. Employers must furnish this record of 2017 earnings and withheld taxes no later than January 31, 2018 (allow several days for delivery if mailed).

If you do not receive your Form W-2, contact your employer to find out if and when the W-2 was mailed. If it was mailed, it may have been returned to your employer because of an incorrect address. After contacting your employer, allow a reasonable amount of time for your employer to resend or to issue the W-2.

Form 1099

If you received certain types of income, you may receive a Form 1099 in addition to or instead of a W-2. Payers have until January 31 to mail these to you.

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