2015 Tax Provisions for Individuals: A Review

From tax credits and educational expenses to the AMT, many of the tax changes affecting individuals for 2015 were related to the signing of the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) in 2012–tax provisions that were modified, made permanent, or extended. With that in mind, here’s what individuals and families need to know about tax provisions for 2015.
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2015 Tax Provisions for Businesses: A Review

Whether you file as a corporation or sole proprietor here’s what business owners need to know about tax changes for 2015.

Standard Mileage Rates
The standard mileage rates in 2015 are as follows: 57.5 cents per business mile driven, 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, and 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

Health Care Tax Credit for Small Businesses
Small business employers who pay at least half the premiums for single health insurance coverage for their employees may be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit as long as they employ fewer than the equivalent of 25 full-time workers and average annual wages do not exceed $51,600 (adjusted for inflation).

In 2015 (as in 2014), the tax credit is worth up to 50 percent of your contribution toward employees’ premium costs (up to 35 percent for tax-exempt employers). For tax years 2010 through 2013, the maximum credit was 35 percent for small business employers and 25 percent for small tax-exempt employers such as charities.

Section 179 Expensing

An extension for increased limitations for Section 179 expensing along with an extension of the bonus depreciation was included in HR 5771, Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, which was signed into law last year, on December 31, 2014 but expired at the end of 2014 and has not been extended.

As such, in 2015 the maximum Section 179 expense deduction for equipment purchases is $25,000 of the first $200,000 of certain business property placed in service during the year. The bonus depreciation of 50 percent for qualified property that exceeds the threshold amount is no longer available. Please call us if you have any questions about Section 179 expensing and the bonus depreciation.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)

An extension for the WOTC was included in HR 5771, Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, but expired at the end of 2014 and has not been extended.

SIMPLE IRA Plan Contributions
Contribution limits for SIMPLE IRA plans increased to $12,500 for persons under age 50 and $15,500 for persons age 50 or older in 2015. The maximum compensation used to determine contributions increases to $265,000.

Please contact the office if you need help understanding which deductions and tax credits you are entitled to.

Sign up for our newsletter to receive tax tips and timely articles delivered right to your inbox.    Read more articles from our December 2015 newsletter here.

Employee or Independent Contractor – Which Is It?

employee v independent contractorIf you hire someone for a long-term, full-time project or a series of projects that are likely to last for an extended period, you must pay special attention to the difference between independent contractors and employees.

Why It Matters

The Internal Revenue Service and state regulators scrutinize the distinction between employees and independent contractors because many business owners try to categorize as many of their workers as possible as independent contractors rather than as employees. They do this because independent contractors are not covered by unemployment and workers’ compensation, or by federal and state wage, hour, anti-discrimination, and labor laws. In addition, businesses do not have to pay federal payroll taxes on amounts paid to independent contractors.

Caution: If you incorrectly classify an employee as an independent contractor, you can be held liable for employment taxes for that worker, plus a penalty.

The Difference Between Employees and Independent Contractors

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MyRA Now Available for Eligible Workers

The myRA program, which launched nationwide in November, is intended for taxpayers with taxable income who lack access to retirement savings plan at work.

The program was developed in response to the finding that millions of Americans lack adequate retirement savings–many because their employers do not offer a retirement savings plan at work.
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Six Tips for Year-End Gifts to Charity

donationsIf you’re thinking about making a charitable donation during the holiday season this year and want to claim a tax deduction for your gifts, you must itemize your deductions. This is just one of several tax rules that you should know about before you give. Here’s what else you need to know:
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Take Retirement Plan Distributions by Dec. 31

Taxpayers born before July 1, 1945, generally must receive payments from their individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans by Dec. 31.

Known as required minimum distributions (RMDs), typically these distributions must be made by the end of the tax year, in this case, 2015. The required distribution rules apply to owners of traditional, Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) and Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees (SIMPLE) IRAs but not Roth IRAs while the original owner is alive. They also apply to participants in various workplace retirement plans, including 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans.
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Health Flexible Spending Arrangements in 2016

Eligible employees should begin planning now to take full advantage of their employer’s health flexible spending arrangement (FSA) during 2016.

FSAs provide employees a way to use tax-free dollars to pay medical expenses not covered by other health plans. Because eligible employees need to decide how much to contribute through payroll deductions before the plan year begins, many employers this fall are offering their employees the option to participate during the 2016 plan year.

Interested employees wishing to contribute during the new year must make this choice again for 2016, even if they contributed in 2015. Self-employed individuals are not eligible. Also, employers are not required to offer FSAs. Accordingly, interested employees should check with their employer to see if they offer an FSA.

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