Category: NEWS

November 19th, 2020 by Oscar

Whether taxpayers are supporting natural disaster recovery, COVID-19 pandemic aid or another cause that’s personally meaningful to them, their charitable donations may be tax deductible. These deductions basically reduce the amount of their taxable income.

Here’s how the CARES Act changes deducting charitable contributions made in 2020:

Previously, charitable contributions could only be deducted if taxpayers itemized their deductions.

However, taxpayers who don’t itemize deductions may take a charitable deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions made in 2020 to qualifying organizations. For the purposes of this deduction, qualifying organizations are those that are religious, charitable, educational, scientific or literary in purpose. The law changed in this area due to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.  The CARES Act also suspends limits on charitable contributions and temporarily increases limits on contributions of food inventory.

Posted in INDIVIDUALS, NEWS

October 1st, 2020 by Oscar

Taxpayers need to know their correct filing status and be familiar with each option.

Generally, the taxpayer’s filing status depends on whether they are single or married on Dec. 31 and that determines their status for the whole year. However, more than one filing status may apply in certain situations. If this is the case, taxpayers can usually choose the filing status that allows them to pay the least amount of tax.

When preparing and filing a tax return, the filing status affects:

  1. If the taxpayer is required to file a federal tax return
  2. If they should file a return in order to receive a refund
  3. Their standard deduction amount
  4. If they can claim certain credits
  5. The amount of tax they should pay

Here’s the five filing statuses:

  • Single. Normally this status is for taxpayers who are unmarried, divorced or legally separated under a divorce or separate maintenance decree governed by state law.
  • Married filing jointly. If a taxpayer is married, they can file a joint tax return with their spouse. When a spouse passes away, the widowed spouse can usually file a joint return for that year.
  • Married filing separately. Married couples can choose to file separate tax returns. When doing so it may result in less tax owed than filing a joint tax return.
  • Head of household. Unmarried taxpayers may be able to file using this status, but special rules apply. For example, the taxpayer must have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for themselves and a qualifying person living in the home for half the year.
  • Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child. This status may apply to a taxpayer if their spouse died during one of the previous two years and they have a dependent child. Other conditions also apply.

Posted in NEWS

September 10th, 2020 by Oscar

The Internal Revenue Service today reminded the self-employed, investors, retirees and others with income not subject to withholding that third quarter estimated tax payments for 2020 are due Sept. 15.

Taxes are paid as income is received during the year through withholding from pay, pension or certain government payments such as Social Security or unemployment; and/or making quarterly estimated tax payments.

Who should pay quarterly?

Individuals, including sole proprietors, partners and S corporation shareholders, generally make quarterly estimated tax payments if they expect to owe $1,000 or more when their tax return is filed. Taxpayers with income not subject to withholding, including interest, dividends, capital gains, alimony and rental income, normally make estimated tax payments.

Penalty for underpayment 

If a taxpayer underpaid their taxes, they may have to pay a penalty. This applies whether they paid through withholding or through estimated tax payments. A penalty may also apply for late estimated tax payments even if someone is due a refund when they file their tax return.

In general, taxpayers don’t have to pay a penalty if they meet any of these conditions:

  1. They owe less than $1,000 in tax with their tax return.
  2. Throughout the year, they paid the smaller of these two amounts: a) at least 90% (however, see 2018 Penalty Relief, below) of the tax for the current year; b) 100% of the tax shown on their tax return for the prior year – this can increase to 110% based on adjusted gross income

To see if they owe a penalty, taxpayers should use Form 2210. The IRS may waive the penalty if someone underpaid because of unusual circumstances and not willful neglect. Examples include:

  1. casualty, disaster or another unusual situation.
  2. an individual retired after reaching age 62 during a tax year when estimated tax payments applied. 
  3. an individual became disabled during a tax year when estimated tax payments applied.

Posted in NEWS

September 3rd, 2020 by Oscar

Don’t amend for math errors or missing forms. Taxpayers generally don’t need to file an amended return to correct math errors on their original return. The IRS may correct math or clerical errors on a return and may accept it even if the taxpayer forgot to attach certain tax forms or schedules. The IRS will mail a letter to the taxpayer, if necessary, requesting additional information.

Wait until receiving refund for tax year 2019 before filing. Taxpayers who are due refunds from their original tax year 2019 tax return should wait for the IRS to process the return and they receive the refund before filing Form 1040-X to claim an additional refund.

File Form 1040-X to amend. Taxpayers must file using Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to correct their tax return. If they are filing an amend 1040 or 1040-SR for 2019, they can now file electronically using commercial tax-filing software. All other amended returns must still be mailed to the IRS. When filing, taxpayers should indicate the year of the original return and explain all changes made by attaching any forms or schedules. Taxpayers then sign and mail the Form 1040-X to the address listed in the instructions. Taxpayers filing Form 1040-X in response to an IRS letter should mail it to the address shown on the letter.

Amend to correct errors. Taxpayers should correct their return if they find that they should have claimed a different filing status or didn’t report some income. Taxpayers who claimed deductions or credits they shouldn’t have claimed or didn’t claim deductions or credits they could have claimed may need to file an amended return. Changes made on a federal return may also affect state taxes. The taxpayer should contact the state tax agency to see if this is so.

Pay additional tax. Taxpayers who will owe more tax should file Form 1040-X and pay the tax as soon as possible to avoid penalties and interest. They should consider using IRS Direct Pay to pay any tax directly from a checking or savings account for free.

File within three-year time limit. Taxpayers generally have three years from the date they filed their original tax return to file Form 1040-X to claim a refund. They can file it within two years of the date they paid the tax, if that date is later.

Use separate forms if amending more than one tax year. Taxpayers must file a submit a separate Form 1040-X for each tax year to avoid confusion. They should check the box for the calendar year or enter the other calendar year or fiscal year they are amending. The form’s instructions have the mailing address for the amended return.

Track amended return status online. Taxpayers can track the status of their amended tax return in English and Spanish using Where’s My Amended Return?  Amended returns take up to 16 weeks to process and up to three weeks from the date of mailing to show up in the system. Before that time, there’s no need to call the IRS unless the tool specifically tells the taxpayer to do so.

Posted in NEWS

August 20th, 2020 by Oscar

El 15 de octubre está a la vuelta de la esquina. Ese es el último día para presentar para la mayoría de las personas que solicitaron una prórroga para su declaración de impuestos de 2019. Estos contribuyentes pueden presentar su declaración en cualquier momento antes del jueves, 15 de octubre si tienen todos los documentos tributarios requeridos. También pueden pagar parte o la totalidad de sus impuestos en cualquier momento en IRS.gov.

Aquí hay algunos recordatorios clave para los que solicitaron prórroga para presentar.

Presente para obtener un reembolso. Cualquier persona a la que se le deba un reembolso debe presentar lo antes posible y usar el depósito directo (en inglés) para que su reembolso de impuestos se deposite electrónicamente de forma gratuita en su cuenta financiera. No hay multa por presentar una declaración tardía para las personas a las que se les debe un reembolso.

Pague el saldo de impuestos lo antes posible. La fecha límite para pagar los impuestos sobre el ingreso de 2019 fue el 15 de julio de 2020. Los contribuyentes pueden verificar el saldo de su cuenta o ver las opciones de pago en línea. Aquellos que deben y no pueden pagar su saldo en su totalidad deben pagar lo más que puedan para reducir los intereses y las multas por pago atrasado.

Presente antes de la fecha límite para evitar multas e intereses. Los contribuyentes deben presentar su declaración antes del jueves, 15 de octubre de 2020 para evitar una multa por no presentar. 

Qué deben hacer los contribuyentes ante una fecha límite incumplida. Cualquiera que no haya solicitado una prórroga antes de la fecha límite del 15 de julio de este año debe presentar y pagar lo antes posible. Esto evitará que se acumulen intereses y multas adicionales.

Más tiempo para los militares. Los miembros del ejército y otros (en inglés) que sirven en una zona de combate tienen más tiempo para presentar su declaración. Estos contribuyentes suelen tener hasta al menos 180 días después de salir de la zona de combate para presentar declaraciones y pagar los impuestos adeudados.

Posted in NEWS

August 6th, 2020 by Oscar

The home office deduction allows qualifying taxpayers to deduct certain home expenses on their tax return. With more people working from home than ever before, some taxpayers may be wondering if they can claim a home office deduction when they file their 2020 tax return next year.

Here are some things to help taxpayers understand the home office deduction and whether they can claim it:

  1. Employees are not eligible to claim the home office deduction. 
  2. The home office deduction Form 8829 is available to both homeowners and renters.
  3.  There are certain expenses taxpayers can deduct. They include mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, repairs, maintenance, depreciation and rent.
  4. Taxpayers must meet specific requirements to claim home expenses as a deduction. Even then, the deductible amount of these types of expenses may be limited.
  5. The term “home” for purposes of this deduction: a) includes a house, apartment, condominium, mobile home, boat or similar property; b) also includes structures on the property. These are places like an unattached garage, studio, barn or greenhouse; c) doesn’t include any part of the taxpayer’s property used exclusively as a hotel, motel, inn or similar business.
  6.  There are two basic requirements for the taxpayer’s home to qualify as a deduction: a) there must be exclusive use of a portion of the home for conducting business on a regular basis. For example, a taxpayer who uses an extra room to run their business can take a home office deduction only for that extra room so long as it is used both regularly and exclusively in the business; b) the home must be the taxpayer’s principal place of business. A taxpayer can also meet this requirement if administrative or management activities are conducted at the home and there is no other location to perform these duties. Therefore, someone who conducts business outside of their home but also uses their home to conduct business may still qualify for a home office deduction.
  7. Expenses that relate to a separate structure not attached to the home will qualify for a home office deduction. It will qualify only if the structure is used exclusively and regularly for business.
  8. Taxpayers who qualify may choose one of two methods to calculate their home office expense deduction: a) the simplified option has a rate of $5 a square foot for business use of the home. The maximum size for this option is 300 square feet. The maximum deduction under this method is $1,500; b) when using the regular method, deductions for a home office are based on the percentage of the home devoted to business use. Taxpayers who use a whole room or part of a room for conducting their business need to figure out the percentage of the home used for business activities to deduct indirect expenses. Direct expenses are deducted in full.

Posted in INDIVIDUALS, NEWS

June 11th, 2020 by Oscar

Childcare or adult dependent care can be a major expense. Fortunately, the child and dependent care credit can provide some relief. Taxpayers who pay for daycare expenses may be eligible to claim up to 35% of what they spend; limits apply.

For the purposes of this credit, the IRS defines a qualifying person as:

• A taxpayer’s dependent who is under age 13 when the care is provided.
• A taxpayer’s spouse who is physically or mentally unable to care for themselves and lived with the taxpayer for more than half the year.
• Someone who’s physically or mentally unable to take care of themselves and lived with the taxpayer for six months and either:
   a) The qualifying person was the taxpayer’s dependent or
   b) They would have been the taxpayer’s dependent except for one of the following:
        • The qualifying person received gross income of $4,200 or more
        • The qualifying person filed a joint return
        • The taxpayer or spouse, if filing jointly, could be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return

Posted in INDIVIDUALS, NEWS

June 4th, 2020 by Oscar

The Internal Revenue Service today reminded people who live and work abroad that they have until Wednesday, July 15, 2020, to file their 2019 federal income tax return and pay any tax due. The usual deadline is June 15.

This extension was included in a wide range of Coronavirus-related relief announced in early April. The extension generally applies to all taxpayers who have an income tax filing or payment deadline falling on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020.

This means that anyone, including Americans who live and work abroad, nonresident aliens and foreign entities with a U.S. filing and payment requirement, have until July 15 to file their 2019 federal income tax return and pay any tax due. 

Posted in NEWS

May 28th, 2020 by Oscar

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, employers can grant paid leave for an employee to take care of their health needs related to COVID -19 or to care for their family members. This relief helps ensure employees are not forced to choose between being paid or staying home to care for themselves, a child or other family member.

In addition to the relief for employees, businesses can claim two new refundable payroll tax credits for granting paid leave to their employees. The paid sick leave credit and paid family leave credit are available for eligible employers who pay qualified sick leave wages and/or qualified family leave wages from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, and who have fewer than 500 employees. 

The paid sick leave credit and the paid family leave credit will immediately and fully reimburse employers for the cost of providing COVID-19 related leave to their employees. Here is what employees need to know about paid leave under the CARES Act.

Paid sick leave for workers
An employer can allow  a full-time employee up to 80 hours of paid sick leave.  A part-time employee may be allowed paid sick leave for the number of hours the employee works over a two-week period, if the employee is unable to work or telework because they are:

  • Subject to federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation orders related to COVID-19
  • Advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19
  • Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis
  • Caring for a person subject to federal, state, or local quarantine orders related to COVID-19 or has been advised to self-quarantine
  • Caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19
  • Experiencing any other substantially similar condition

Employers pay the benefits at 100% of employee’s regular pay up to $511 per day and $5,110 in total for the care of employee’s own health.

For the care of an employee’s family members, employers pay benefits at two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay up to $200 per day and $2,000 total.

Paid family leave to care for child
An employer can give up to 10 weeks of paid family leave at two-thirds their regular pay for up to $200 per day and $10,000 total if the employee is unable to work or telework because they’re caring for a child whose:

  • School or place of care is closed due to COVID-19
  • Childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19

With two weeks of paid sick leave and 10 weeks of paid family leave combined, an employee could receive up to a total of 12 weeks up to $12,000 of paid leave to care for a child.

Posted in NEWS

May 14th, 2020 by Oscar

The Internal Revenue Service today reminds employers affected by COVID-19 about three important new credits available to them.

Employee Retention Credit:

The employee retention credit is designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19.

The credit is available to all employers regardless of size, including tax-exempt organizations. There are only two exceptions: State and local governments and their instrumentalities and small businesses who take small business loans.

Qualifying employers must fall into one of two categories:

  1. The employer’s business is fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID-19 during the calendar quarter.
  2. The employer’s gross receipts are below 50% of the comparable quarter in 2019. Once the employer’s gross receipts go above 80% of a comparable quarter in 2019, they no longer qualify after the end of that quarter.

Employers will calculate these measures each calendar quarter.

Paid Sick Leave Credit and Family Leave Credit:

The paid sick leave credit is designed to allow business to get a credit for an employee who is unable to work (including telework) because of Coronavirus quarantine or self-quarantine or has Coronavirus symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis. Those employees are entitled to paid sick leave for up to 10 days (up to 80 hours) at the employee’s regular rate of pay up to $511 per day and $5,110 in total.

The employer can also receive the credit for employees who are unable to work due to caring for someone with Coronavirus or caring for a child because the child’s school or place of care is closed, or the paid childcare provider is unavailable due to the Coronavirus. Those employees are entitled to paid sick leave for up to two weeks (up to 80 hours) at 2/3 the employee’s regular rate of pay or, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in total.

Employees are also entitled to paid family and medical leave equal to 2/3 of the employee’s regular pay, up to $200 per day and $10,000 in total. Up to 10 weeks of qualifying leave can be counted towards the family leave credit.

Employers can be immediately reimbursed for the credit by reducing their required deposits of payroll taxes that have been withheld from employees’ wages by the amount of the credit.

Eligible employers are entitled to immediately receive a credit in the full amount of the required sick leave and family leave, plus related health plan expenses and the employer’s share of Medicare tax on the leave, for the period of April 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020. The refundable credit is applied against certain employment taxes on wages paid to all employees.

How will employers receive the credit?

Employers can be immediately reimbursed for the credit by reducing their required deposits of payroll taxes that have been withheld from employees’ wages by the amount of the credit.

Eligible employers will report their total qualified wages and the related health insurance costs for each quarter on their quarterly employment tax returns or Form 941 beginning with the second quarter. If the employer’s employment tax deposits are not sufficient to cover the credit, the employer may receive an advance payment from the IRS by submitting Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19.

Eligible employers can also request an advance of the Employee Retention Credit by submitting Form 7200.

Posted in NEWS