IRS Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2017

Compiled annually by the IRS, the “Dirty Dozen” is a list of common scams taxpayers may encounter in the coming months. While many of these scams peak during the tax filing season, they may be encountered at any time during the year. Here is this year’s list. Continue reading

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Six Overlooked Tax Breaks for Individuals

Confused about which credits and deductions you can claim on your 2016 tax return? You’re not alone. Here are six tax breaks that you won’t want to overlook.

1. State Sales and Income Taxes

Thanks to the PATH ACT of 2015, taxpayers filing their 2016 returns can deduct either state income tax paid or state sales tax paid, whichever is greater.

Here’s how it works. If you bought a big-ticket item like a car or boat in 2016, it might be more advantageous to deduct the sales tax, but don’t forget to figure any state income taxes withheld from your paycheck just in case. If you’re self-employed, you can include the state income paid from your estimated payments. In addition, if you owed taxes when filing your 2015 tax return in 2016, you can include the amount when you itemize your state taxes this year on your 2016 return. Continue reading

Are your Social Security Benefits Taxable?

Social security benefits include monthly retirement, survivor, and disability benefits. If you received Social security benefits in 2016, you should receive a Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, showing the amount.

Note: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments are not taxable.

If Social Security was your only source of income in 2016 your benefits might not be taxable. You also may not need to file a federal income tax return this year; however, if you receive income from other sources, then you may have to pay taxes on some of your benefits. Continue reading

Small Business Financing: Securing a Loan

At some point, most small businesses owners will visit a bank or other lending institution to borrow money. Understanding what your bank wants, and how to properly approach them, can mean the difference between getting your money for expansion and having to scrape through finding cash from other sources. Unfortunately, many business owners fall victim to several common, but potentially destructive myths regarding financing, such as:

  • Lenders are eager to provide money to small businesses.
  • Banks are willing sources of financing for start-up businesses.
  • When it comes to seeking money, the company speaks for itself.
  • A bank, is a bank, is a bank, and all banks are the same.
  • Banks, especially large ones, do not need and really do not want the business of a small firm.

Continue reading

What Income is Taxable?

Are you wondering if there’s a hard and fast rule about what income is taxable and what income is not taxable? The quick answer is that all income is taxable unless the law specifically excludes it. But as you might have guessed, there’s more to it than that.

Taxable income includes any money you receive, such as wages and tips, but it can also include non-cash income from property or services. For example, both parties in a barter exchange must include the fair market value of goods or services received as income on their tax return. Continue reading

Choosing the Correct Filing Status

It’s important to use the right filing status when you file your tax return because the filing status you choose can affect the amount of tax you owe for the year. It may even determine if you must file a tax return. Keep in mind that your marital status on December 31 is your status for the whole year. Sometimes more than one filing status may apply to you. If that happens, choose the one that allows you to pay the least amount of tax.

The easiest and most accurate way to file your tax return is to consult a tax professional who is able to choose the right filing status based on your circumstances. Continue reading

It’s Not Too Late to Make a 2016 IRA Contribution

If you haven’t contributed funds to an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) for tax year 2016, or if you’ve put in less than the maximum allowed, you still have time to do so. You can contribute to either a traditional or Roth IRA until the April 18th due date, not including extensions.

Be sure to tell the IRA trustee that the contribution is for 2016. Otherwise, the trustee may report the contribution as being for 2017 when they get your funds.

Generally, you can contribute up to $5,500 of your earnings for tax year 2016 (up to $6,500 if you are age 50 or older in 2016). You can fund a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA (if you qualify), or both, but your total contributions cannot be more than these amounts.

Traditional IRA: You may be able to take a tax deduction for the contributions to a traditional IRA, depending on your income and whether you or your spouse, if filing jointly, are covered by an employer’s pension plan.

Roth IRA: You cannot deduct Roth IRA contributions, but the earnings on a Roth IRA may be tax-free if you meet the conditions for a qualified distribution.

Each year, the IRS announces the cost of living adjustments and limitation for retirement savings plans.

Saving for retirement should be part of everyone’s financial plan and it’s important to review your retirement goals every year in order to maximize savings. If you need help with your retirement plans, give the office a call at 208-373-7890.

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