Last Minute Filing Tips for 2016 Tax Returns

Are you one of the millions of Americans who hasn’t filed (or even started) your taxes yet? With the April 18 tax filing deadline quickly approaching, here is some last minute tax advice for you.

1. Stop Procrastinating. Resist the temptation to put off your taxes until the very last minute. It takes time to prepare accurate returns and additional information may be needed from you to complete your tax return.

2. Include All Income. If you had a side job in addition to a regular job, you might have received a Form 1099-MISC. Make sure you include that income when you file your tax return because you may owe additional taxes on it. If you forget to include it you may be liable for penalties and interest on the unreported income.

3. File on Time or Request an Extension. This year’s tax deadline is April 18. If the clock runs out, you can get an automatic six-month extension, bringing the filing date to October 16, 2017. You should keep in mind, however, that filing the extension itself does not give you more time to pay any taxes due. You will still 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.

Call the office if you need to file an extension or file for late-filing penalty relief.

4. Don’t Panic If You Can’t Pay. If you can’t immediately pay the taxes you owe, there are several 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 processing companies generally 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.

5. Check the box for healthcare coverage.

6. Sign and Double Check Your Return. The IRS will not process tax returns that aren’t signed, so make sure that you sign and date your return. You should also double check your social security number, as well as any electronic payment or direct deposit numbers, and finally, make sure that your filing status is correct.

Remember: To avoid delays, get your tax documents to the office as soon as you can.

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Should you File an Extension on your Tax Return?

If you’ve been procrastinating when it comes to preparing and filing your tax return this year you might be considering filing an extension. While obtaining a 6-month extension to file is relatively easy–and there are legitimate reasons for doing so–there are also some downsides. If you need more time to file your tax return this year, here’s what you need to know about filing an extension. Continue reading

ACA Tax Facts for Individuals and Families

The Affordable Care Act contains two provisions that may affect your tax return this year: the individual shared responsibility provision and the premium tax credit. Here’s what you should know.

Information Forms: 1095-A, 1095-B, and 1095-C

This year marks the first time that certain taxpayers will receive new health-care related information forms that they can use to complete their tax return and then keep with their tax records.

These forms are used to report health coverage information for you, your spouse and any dependents when you file your 2016 individual income tax return in 2017. These forms are also filed with the IRS. Depending upon your specific circumstances, (i.e. whether you receive health insurance from the Health Insurance Marketplace, health coverage providers, or certain employers), you should have received one or more of these forms in early 2017. There are three types of information forms. Continue reading

Claiming the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

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.

What is the Small Business Health Care Credit?

The small business health care tax credit, part of the Patient Protection and 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. Household employers not engaged in a trade or business also qualify. Continue reading

Estimated Tax Payments: Q & A

Estimated tax is the method used to pay tax on income that is not subject to withholding. This includes income from self-employment, interest, dividends, alimony, and rent, as well as gains from the sale of assets, prizes and awards. You also may have to pay estimated tax if the amount of income tax being withheld from your salary, pension, or other income is not enough. If you do not pay enough by the due date of each payment period you may be charged a penalty even if you are due a refund when you file your tax return. Continue reading

Tax Tips for the Self-Employed

If you are a self-employed, you normally carry on a trade or business. Sole proprietors and independent contractors are two types of self-employment. If this applies to you, there are a few basic things you should know about how your income affects your federal tax return. If you’re self-employed, here are six important tax tips you should know about.

  • Self-Employment Income. Self-employment can include income you received for part-time work. This is in addition to income from your regular job.
  • Schedule C or C-EZ. You must file a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, or Schedule C-EZ, Net Profit from Business, with your Form 1040. You may use Schedule C-EZ if you had expenses less than $5,000 and meet certain other conditions. Please call if you are not sure whether you can use this form.
  • Self-Employment Tax. If you made a profit, you may have to pay self-employment tax as well as income tax. Self-employment tax includes Social Security and Medicare taxes. Use Schedule SE, Self-Employment Tax, to figure the tax. If you owe this tax, attach the schedule to your federal tax return.
  • Estimated Tax. You may need to make estimated tax payments. These payments are typically made on income that is not subject to withholding. You usually pay estimated taxes in four annual installments. If you do not pay enough tax throughout the year, you may owe a penalty. See, Estimated Tax Payments – Q & A, above, for more information about estimated tax payments.
  • Allowable Deductions. You can deduct expenses that you paid to run your business that are both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and proper for your trade or business.
  • When to Deduct. In most cases, you can deduct expenses in the same year you paid, or incurred them. However, you must ‘capitalize’ some costs. This means you can deduct part of the cost over a number of years.

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Medical and Dental Expenses May Impact Your Taxes

Medical expenses can trim taxes. Keeping good records and knowing what to deduct make all the difference. Here are four tips to help taxpayers know what qualifies as medical and dental expenses:

1. Itemize. Taxpayers can only claim medical expenses that they paid for in 2016 if they itemize deductions on a federal tax return.

2. Qualifying Expenses. Taxpayers can include most medical and dental costs that they paid for themselves, their spouses and their dependents including:

  • The costs of diagnosing, treating, easing or preventing disease.
  • The costs paid for prescription drugs and insulin.
  • The costs paid for insurance premiums for policies that cover medical care.
  • Some long-term care insurance costs.

Exceptions and special rules apply. Costs reimbursed by insurance or other sources normally do not qualify for a deduction. More examples of what costs taxpayers can and can’t deduct are in IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.

3. Travel Costs Count. It is possible to deduct travel costs paid for medical care. This includes costs such as public transportation, ambulance service, tolls and parking fees. For use of a car, deduct either the actual costs or the standard mileage rate for medical travel. The rate is 19 cents per mile for 2016.

4. No Double Benefit. Don’t claim a tax deduction for medical expenses paid with funds from your Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs). Amounts paid with funds from these plans are usually tax-free.

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