Filing an Amended Return

What should you do if you already filed your federal tax return and then discover a mistake? First of all, don’t worry. In most cases, all you have to do is file an amended tax return. But before you do that, here is what you should be aware of when filing an amended tax return.

Taxpayers should use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to file an amended (corrected) tax return.

You must file the corrected tax return on paper. An amended return cannot be e-filed. If you need to file another schedule or form, don’t forget to attach it to the amended return. Continue reading

Tax Planning for Small Business Owners

Tax planning is the process of looking at various tax options to determine when, whether, and how to conduct business and personal transactions to reduce or eliminate tax liability.

Many small business owners ignore tax planning and don’t even think about their taxes until it’s time to meet with their accountants once a year. But tax planning is an ongoing process and good tax advice is a valuable commodity. It is to your benefit to review your income and expenses monthly and meet with your CPA or tax advisor quarterly to analyze how you can take full advantage of the provisions, credits, and deductions that are legally available to you.

Although tax avoidance planning is legal, tax evasion – the reduction of tax through deceit, subterfuge, or concealment – is not. Frequently what sets tax evasion apart from tax avoidance is the IRS’s finding that there was fraudulent intent on the part of the business owner. The following are four of the areas the IRS examiners commonly focus on as pointing to possible fraud: Continue reading

Five Things to know before Starting a Business

Starting a new business is an exciting and busy time with so much to be done. If you expect to have employees, there are a variety of federal and state forms and applications that will need to be completed to get your business up and running. That’s where we can help.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Securing an Employer Identification Number (also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number) is the first thing that needs to be done since many other forms require it. EINs are issued by the IRS to employers, sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, nonprofit associations, trusts, estates, government agencies, certain individuals, and other business entities for tax filing and reporting purposes.

The fastest way to apply for an EIN is online through the IRS website or by telephone. Applying by fax and mail generally takes one to two weeks and you can apply for one EIN per day.

State Withholding, Unemployment, and Sales Tax
Once you have your EIN, you need to fill out forms to establish an account with the State for payroll tax withholding, Unemployment Insurance Registration, and sales tax collections (if applicable).

Payroll Record Keeping
Payroll reporting and record keeping can be very time-consuming and costly, especially if it isn’t handled correctly. Also, keep in mind, that almost all employers are required to transmit federal payroll tax deposits electronically. Personnel files should be kept for each employee and include an employee’s employment application as well as the following:

Form W-4 is completed by the employee and used to calculate their federal income tax withholding. This form also includes necessary information such as address and social security number.

Form I-9 must be completed by you, the employer, to verify that employees are legally permitted to work in the U.S.

If you need help setting up or completing any tax-related paperwork needed for your business, we can help! Give us a call at 208-373-7890 or visit our website for more information.

Sign up for our newsletter to receive tax tips and timely articles delivered right to your inbox.    Read more articles from our June 2017 newsletter here.

Deducting Travel and Entertainment Expenses

Tax law allows you to deduct two types of travel expenses related to your business, local and what the IRS calls “away from home.”

  1. First, local travel expenses. You can deduct local transportation expenses incurred for business purposes such as the cost of getting from one location to another via public transportation, rental car, or your own automobile. Meals and incidentals are not deductible as travel expenses, but you can deduct meals as an entertainment expense as long as certain conditions are met (see below).
  2. Second, you can deduct away from home travel expenses, including meals and incidentals, but if your employer reimburses your travel expenses your deductions are limited.

Continue reading

Planning For Retirement: Withdrawals

Are you thinking of retiring soon, or changing jobs? You may face a major financial decision: what to do about the funds in your retirement plan.

Note: As you will see, the rules on retirement withdrawals are quite complex. They are offered here only for your general understanding. Please call before taking withdrawals or making other major changes in your retirement plan.

Take a Partial Withdrawal

Partial withdrawals are withdrawals that aren’t rollovers, annuities, or lump sums. Because they are partial, the amount not withdrawn continues its tax shelter (see below).

A partial withdrawal will usually leave open the option for other types of withdrawal (annuity, lump sum, rollover) of the balance left in the plan. Continue reading

Tax Tips for the Sharing Economy

If you use one of the many online platforms to rent a spare bedroom, provide car rides or a number of other goods or services, you may be part of what is called the sharing economy.

Here are several key points you should know about the sharing economy and how your taxes are impacted:

1. Taxes. Sharing economy activity is generally taxable. It does not matter whether it is only part time or a sideline business, if payments are in cash or if an information return like a Form 1099 or Form W2 is issued. The activity is taxable.

2. Deductions. There are some simplified options available for deducting many business expenses for those who qualify. For example, a taxpayer who uses his or her car for business often qualifies to claim the standard mileage rate, which is 53.5 cents per mile for 2017.

3. Rentals. If a taxpayer rents out his home, apartment or other dwelling but also lives in it during the year, special rules generally apply. For more about these rules, see Publication 527, Residential Rental Property (Including Rental of Vacation Homes). Taxpayers can use the Interactive Tax Assistant Tool, Is My Residential Rental Income Taxable and/or Are My Expenses Deductible? to determine if their residential rental income is taxable.

4. Estimated Payments. The U.S. tax system is pay-as-you-go. This means that taxpayers involved in the sharing economy often need to make estimated tax payments during the year to cover their tax obligation. These payments are due on April 18, June 15, Sept. 15 and Jan. 16 (2018). Use Form 1040-ES to figure these payments.

5. Payment Options. The fastest and easiest way to make estimated tax payments is through IRS Direct Pay. Or use the Treasury Department’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).

6. Withholding. Taxpayers involved in the sharing economy who are employees at another job can often avoid making estimated tax payments by having more tax withheld from their paychecks. File Form W-4 with the employer to request additional withholding. Use the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov.

Sign up for our newsletter to receive tax tips and timely articles delivered right to your inbox.    Read more articles from our June 2017 newsletter here.

What to do if you get a Letter from the IRS

Each year, the IRS mails millions of notices and letters to taxpayers for a variety of reasons. If you receive correspondence from the IRS here’s what to do:

Don’t panic. You can usually deal with a notice simply by responding to it. Most IRS notices are about federal tax returns or tax accounts.

Each notice has specific instructions, so read your notice carefully because it will tell you what you need to do.

Your notice will likely be about changes to your account, taxes you owe or a payment request. However, your notice may ask you for more information about a specific issue.

If your notice says that the IRS changed or corrected your tax return, review the information and compare it with your original return. If you agree with the notice, you usually don’t need to reply unless it gives you other instructions or you need to make a payment.

If you don’t agree with the notice, you need to respond. Write a letter that explains why you disagree and include information and documents you want the IRS to consider. Mail your response with the contact stub at the bottom of the notice to the address on the contact stub. Allow at least 30 days for a response.

For most notices, there is no need to call or visit a walk-in center. If you have questions, call the phone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Be sure to have a copy of your tax return and the notice with you when you call. If you need assistance understanding an IRS Notice or letter, don’t hesitate to call the office.

Always keep copies of any notices you receive with your tax records.

Be alert for tax scams. The IRS sends letters and notices by mail and does NOT contact people by email or social media to ask for personal or financial information. If you owe tax, please call to find out what your options are.

Sign up for our newsletter to receive tax tips and timely articles delivered right to your inbox.    Read more articles from our June 2017 newsletter here.