2016 Tax Provisions for Individuals: A Review

Many of the tax changes affecting individuals and businesses for 2016 were related to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH) that modified or made permanent numerous tax breaks (the so-called “tax extenders”). To further complicate matters, some provisions were only extended through 2016 and are set to expire at the end of this year while others were extended through 2019. With that in mind, here’s what individuals and families need to know about tax provisions for 2016. Continue reading

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2016 Recap: Tax Provisions for Businesses

Whether you file as a corporation or sole proprietor here’s what business owners need to know about tax changes for 2016.

Standard Mileage Rates
The standard mileage rates in 2016 are as follows: 54 cents per business mile driven, 19 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 $52,000 (adjusted annually for inflation) in 2016.

In 2016 (as in 2015 and 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 and Depreciation

The Section 179 expense deduction was made permanent at $500,000 by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH). For equipment purchases, the maximum deduction is $500,000 of the first $2.01 million of qualifying equipment placed in service during the current tax year. The deduction is phased out dollar for dollar on amounts exceeding the $2 million threshold amount (indexed for inflation) and eliminated above amounts exceeding $2.5 million. In addition, Section 179 is now indexed to inflation in increments of $10,000 for future tax years.

The 50 percent bonus depreciation has been extended through 2019. Businesses are able to depreciate 50 percent of the cost of equipment acquired and placed in service during 2015, 2016 and 2017. However, the bonus depreciation is reduced to 40 percent in 2018 and 30 percent in 2019. The standard business depreciation amount is 24 cents per mile.

Please call if you have any questions about Section 179 expensing and the bonus depreciation.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)

Extended through 2019, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit has been modified and enhanced for employers who hire long-term unemployed individuals (unemployed for 27 weeks or more) and is generally equal to 40 percent of the first $6,000 of wages paid to a new hire. Please call if you have any questions about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

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 2016. 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.

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Employee or Independent Contractor–Which is it?

If 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 Continue reading

Understanding the Net Investment Income Tax

One of the most significant tax changes affecting higher income taxpayers was the Net Investment Income Tax that went into effect on January 1, 2013. While it tends to affect wealthier individuals most often, in certain circumstances, it can also affect moderate income taxpayers whose income increases significantly in a given tax year. Here’s what you need to know: Continue reading

Choosing a Retirement Destination

With health care, housing, food, and transportation costs increasing every year, many retirees on fixed incomes wonder how they can stretch their dollars even further. One solution is to move to another state where income taxes are lower than the one they currently reside in.

But some retirees may be in for a surprise. While federal tax rates are the same in every state, retirees may find that even if they move to a state with no income tax, there may be additional taxes they’re liable for including sales taxes, excise taxes, inheritance and estate taxes, income taxes, intangible taxes, and property taxes.

In addition, states tax different retirement benefits differently. Retirees may have several types of retirements benefits such as pensions, social security, retirement plan distributions (which may or not be taxed by a particular state), and additional income from a job if they continue to work in order to supplement their retirement income.

If you’re thinking about moving to a different state when you retire, here are five things to consider before you make that move. Continue reading

Reminder: College Tax Credits for 2016

With another school year in full swing, now is a good time for parents and students to see if they qualify for either of two college tax credits or other education-related tax benefits when they file their 2016 federal income tax returns next year.

American Opportunity Tax Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit. In general, the American Opportunity Tax Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit is available to taxpayers who pay qualifying expenses for an eligible student. Eligible students include the taxpayer, spouse, and dependents. The American Opportunity Tax Credit provides a credit for each eligible student, while the Lifetime Learning Credit provides a maximum credit per tax return.

Though a taxpayer often qualifies for both of these credits, he or she can only claim one of them for a particular student in a particular year. To claim these credits on their tax return, the taxpayer must file Form 1040 or 1040A and complete Form 8863, Education Credits.

The credits apply to eligible students enrolled in an eligible college, university or vocational school, including both nonprofit and for-profit institutions. The credits are subject to income limits that could reduce the amount taxpayers can claim on their tax return.

Normally, a student will receive a Form 1098-T from their institution by Jan. 31, 2017. This form shows information about tuition paid or billed along with other information. However, amounts shown on this form may differ from amounts taxpayers are eligible to claim for these tax credits. Continue reading

Take Retirement Plan Distributions by December 31

Taxpayers born before July 1, 1946, generally must receive payments from their individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans by December 31.

Known as required minimum distributions (RMDs), typically these distributions must be made by the end of the tax year, in this case, 2016. 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.

An IRA trustee must either report the amount of the RMD to the IRA owner or offer to calculate it for the owner. Often, the trustee shows the RMD amount on Form 5498 in Box 12b. For a 2016 RMD, this amount is on the 2015 Form 5498 normally issued to the owner during January 2016. Continue reading