Monday, April 11, 2016

Featured Articles for April 2016

Featured Articles for April 2016

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

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.

Estimated Tax Payments: Q & A
Estimated tax is the method used to pay tax on income that is not subject to withholding and includes income from self-employment, interest, dividends, alimony, rent, gains from the sale of assets, and prizes and awards.

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 (and easy) 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. Keep reading to learn more.

Tax Tips

Ten Facts About Capital Gains and Losses
Parents: Don't Miss Out on These Tax Savers
Cut your Tax Bill with Home Energy Credits
Tax Tips for the Self-Employed

QuickBooks Tips

Why You Should Use QuickBooks' Snapshots

Tax Due Dates

April 11

Employees who work for tips - If you received $20 or more in tips during March, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

April 18

Individuals - File an income tax return for 2015 (Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ) and pay any tax due. If you want an automatic 6-month extension of time to file the return, file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return or you can get an extension by phone if you pay part or all of your estimate of income tax due with a credit card. Then file Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ by October 17.
Household Employers - If you paid cash wages of $1,900 or more in 2015 to a household employee, file Schedule H (Form 1040) with your income tax return and report any employment taxes. Report any federal unemployment (FUTA) tax on Schedule H if you paid total cash wages of $1,000 or more in any calendar quarter of 2014 or 2015 to household employees. Also report any income tax you withheld for your household employees.
Individuals - If you are not paying your 2016 income tax through withholding (or will not pay in enough tax during the year that way), pay the first installment of your 2016 estimated tax. Use Form 1040-ES.
Partnerships - File a 2015 calendar year return (Form 1065). Provide each partner with a copy of Schedule K-1 (Form 1065), Partner's Share of Income, Credits, Deductions, etc., or a substitute Schedule K-1. If you want an automatic 5-month extension of time to file the return and provide Schedule K-1 or a substitute Schedule K-1, file Form 7004. Then file Form 1065 by September 15.
Electing Large Partnerships - File a 2015 calendar year return (Form 1065-B). If you want an automatic 6-month extension of time to file the return, file Form 7004. Then file Form 1065-B by October 17. March 15 was the due date for furnishing the Schedules K-1 to the partners.
Corporations - Deposit the first installment of estimated income tax for 2016. A worksheet, Form 1120-W, is available to help you estimate your tax for the year.
Employers - Nonpayroll withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in March.
Employers - Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in March.

May 2

Employers - Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. File form 941 for the first quarter of 2016. Deposit any undeposited tax. (If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return.) If you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time, you have until May 10 to file the return.
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Monday, February 8, 2016

Ten Key Tax Tips for Farmers and Ranchers

Ten Key Tax Tips for Farmers and Ranchers

Farms include ranches, ranges and orchards. While some may raise cattle, poultry or fish and others grow fruits or vegetables, all will report their farm income on Schedule F, Profit or Loss from

Farming. If you own a farm or ranch, here are 10 tax tips:

1.  Crop insurance.  Insurance payments from crop damage count as income. Generally, you should report these payments in the year you get them.

2. Sale of items purchased for resale.  If you sold livestock or items that you bought for resale, you must report the sale. Your profit or loss is the difference between your selling price and your basis in the item. Basis is usually the cost of the item. Your cost may also include other expenses such as sales tax and freight.

3. Weather-related sales.  Bad weather such as a drought or flood may force you to sell more livestock than you normally would in a year. If so, you may defer tax on the gain from the sale of the extra animals.

4. Farm expenses.  Farmers can deduct ordinary and necessary expenses they paid for their business. An ordinary expense is a common and accepted cost for that type of business. A necessary expense means a cost that is proper for that business.

5. Employee wages.  You can deduct wages you paid to your farm’s full- and part-time workers. You must withhold Social Security, Medicare and income taxes from their wages.

6. Loan repayment. You can only deduct the interest you paid on a loan if the loan is used for your farming business. You can’t deduct interest you paid on a personal loan.

7. Net operating losses.  If your expenses are more than income for the year, you may have a net operating loss. You can carry that loss over to other years and deduct it. You may get a refund of part or all of the income tax you paid in prior years. You may also be able to lower your tax in future years.

8. Farm income averaging.  You may be able to average some or all of the current year's farm income by spreading it out over the past three years. This may cut your taxes if your farm income is high in the current year and low in the prior three years.

9. Tax credit or refund.  You may be able to claim a tax credit or refund of excise taxes you paid on fuel used on your farm for farming purposes.

10. Farmers Tax Guide.  For more details on this topic see Publication 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide.

You can get it on anytime. You can order it on to have it mailed to you.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on

Additional IRS Resources:

Choosing the Correct Filing Status

It’s important to use the right filing status when you file your tax return. The 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 31st  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.

Here’s a list of the five filing statuses:

1. Single. This status normally applies if you aren’t married. It applies if you are divorced or legally separated under state law.

2. Married Filing Jointly. If you’re married, you and your spouse can file a joint tax return. If your spouse died in 2015, you can often file a joint return for that year.

3. Married Filing Separately. A married couple can choose to file two separate tax returns. This may benefit you if it results in less tax owed than if you file a joint tax return. You may want to prepare your taxes both ways before you choose. You can also use it if you want to be responsible only for your own tax.  This option is different in the state of Texas due to the community property laws.  Community income has to be divided between the couple based on the period of marriage during the year.  Normally, this option does not apply to Texas residents.

4. Head of Household. In most cases, this status applies if you are not married, but there are some special rules. For example, you must have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for yourself and a qualifying person. Don’t choose this status by mistake. Be sure to check all the rules.

5. Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child. This status may apply to you if your spouse died during 2013 or 2014 and you have a dependent child. Other conditions also apply.

The “Filing” tab on can help with many of your federal income tax filing needs. Use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool to help you choose the right filing status. For more on this topic see Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information. Go to to view, download or print the tax products you need.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on

Additional IRS Resources:
IRS YouTube Videos:
IRS Podcasts:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Missing Form W-2? IRS Can Help

                     Missing Form W-2? IRS Can Help

Most people get their W-2 forms by the end of January. Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, shows your income and the taxes withheld from your pay for the year. You need it to file an accurate tax return.

If you haven’t received your form by mid-February, here’s what you should do:
  • Contact your Employer. Ask your employer (or former employer) for a copy. Be sure they have your correct address.
  • Call the IRS. If you are unable to get a copy from your employer, you may call the IRS at 800-829-1040 after Feb. 23. The IRS will send a letter to your employer on your behalf. You’ll need the following when you call:
    • Your name, address, Social Security number and phone number;
    • Your employer’s name, address and phone number;
    • The dates you worked for the employer; and
    • An estimate of your wages and federal income tax withheld in 2015. You can use your final pay stub for these amounts.
  • File on Time. Your tax return is normally due on or before April 18, 2016. Use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, if you don’t get your W-2 in time to file. Estimate your wages and taxes withheld as best as you can. If you can’t get it done by the due date, ask for an extra six months to file. Use Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to request more time. You can also e-file a request for more time. Do it for free with IRS Free File.
  • Correct if Necessary. You may need to correct your tax return if you get your missing W-2 after you file. If the tax information on the W-2 is different from what you originally reported, you may need to file an amended tax return. Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return to make the change.
Note: Important 2015 Health Insurance Forms.

Starting in 2016, most taxpayers will receive one or more forms relating to health care coverage they had during the previous year.

If you enrolled in 2015 coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you should get Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement by early February.

If you were enrolled in other health coverage for 2015, you should receive a Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, or Form 1095-C, Employer Provided Health insurance Offer and Coverage by the end of March. You should contact the issuer of the form - the Marketplace, your coverage provider or your employer - if you think you should have gotten a form but did not get it.

If you are expecting to receive a Form 1095-A, you should wait to file your 2015 income tax return until you receive that form. However, it is not necessary to wait for Forms 1095-B or 1095-C in order to file.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Identity Theft and Your Taxes

Ten Things to Know about Identity Theft and Your Taxes

Learning you are a victim of identity theft can be a stressful event. Identity theft is also a challenge to businesses, organizations and government agencies, including the IRS. Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.

Many times, you may not be aware that someone has stolen your identity. The IRS may be the first to let you know you’re a victim of ID theft after you try to file your taxes.

Here are ten things to know about ID Theft:

1. Protect your Records.  Do not carry your Social Security card or other documents with your SSN on them. Only provide your SSN if it’s necessary and you know the person requesting it. Protect your personal information at home and protect your computers with anti-spam and anti-virus software. Routinely change passwords for Internet accounts.

2. Don’t Fall for Scams.  The IRS will not call you to demand immediate payment, nor will it call about taxes owed without first mailing you a bill. Beware of threatening phone calls from someone claiming to be from the IRS. If you have no reason to believe you owe taxes, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484.

3. Report ID Theft to Law Enforcement.  If your SSN was compromised and you think you may be the victim of tax-related ID theft, file a police report. You can also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission using the FTC Complaint Assistant. It’s also important to contact one of the three credit bureaus so they can place a freeze on your account.

4. Complete an IRS Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit.  Once you’ve filed a police report, file an IRS Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit.  Print the form and mail or fax it according to the instructions. Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper.

5. Understand IRS Notices.  Once the IRS verifies a taxpayer’s identity, the agency will mail a particular letter to the taxpayer. The notice says that the IRS is monitoring the taxpayer’s account. Some notices may contain a unique Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) for tax filing purposes.

6. IP PINs.  If a taxpayer reports that they are a victim of ID theft or the IRS identifies a taxpayer as being a victim, they will be issued an IP PIN. The IP PIN is a unique six-digit number that a victim of ID theft uses to file a tax return. In 2014, the IRS launched an IP PIN Pilot program. The program offers residents of Florida, Georgia and Washington, D.C., the opportunity to apply for an IP PIN, due to high levels of tax-related identity theft there.

7. Data Breaches.  If you learn about a data breach that may have compromised your personal information, keep in mind not every data breach results in identity theft.  Further, not every identity theft case involves taxes. Make sure you know what kind of information has been stolen so you can take the appropriate steps before contacting the IRS.

8. Report Suspicious Activity.  If you suspect or know of an individual or business that is committing tax fraud, you can visit and follow the chart on How to Report Suspected Tax Fraud Activity.

9. Combating ID Theft.  Over the past few years, nearly 2,000 people were convicted in connection with refund fraud related to identity theft. The average prison sentence for identity theft-related tax refund fraud grew to 43 months in 2014 from 38 months in 2013, with the longest sentence being 27 years.   During 2014, the IRS stopped more than $15 billion of fraudulent refunds, including those related to identity theft.  Additionally, as the IRS improves its processing filters, the agency has also been able to halt more suspicious returns before they are processed. So far this year, new fraud filters stopped about 3 million suspicious returns for review, an increase of more than 700,000 from the year before. 

10. Service Options. Information about tax-related identity theft is available online. The IRS has a special section on devoted to identity theft and a phone number available for victims to obtain assistance.

For more on this Topic, see the IRS' Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft.

Additional IRS Resources:
IRS YouTube Videos:
IRS Podcasts:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Real Estate Professionals- Contemporaneous Log and Travel Time

Real Estate Professionals

Contemporaneous Log and Travel Time 

On April 13, 2015,   the Tax Court ruled in Richard Leyh v. Comm (TC Summary Opinion 2015-27) that taxpayers who elected to aggregate their rental real estate activities and who kept a detailed contemporaneous log of the time spent operating their 12 rental properties were real estate professionals (REPs) who could deduct $69,531 of losses against their non-passive income such as wages. 

Key elements of this case follow: 
  • The court allowed the taxpayer's wife to include the travel time in driving from their principal residence to the rental properties to perform services.  
  • Although a Tax Court Summary Opinion cannot be cited as precedent, it is comforting to see pro se taxpayers (taxpayers who represent themselves) beat the IRS with a detailed contemporaneous log and travel time.  
  • The election to aggregate the properties also was critical to the taxpayers' victory.  
If you are a tax professional who represent taxpayers who purport to be real estate professionals, you may want to advise them to make an election to aggregate (if they have not already done so), keep a detailed contemporaneous log of the time spent servicing the rental properties, and remember to include travel time in their original log.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

If You Get a Letter from the IRS . . .

If You Get a Letter from the IRS . . .

The IRS mails millions of notices and letters to taxpayers each year. There are a variety of reasons why we might send you a notice. Here are the top 10 tips to know in case you get one.

1.    Don’t panic and don't ignore the letter. You often can take care of a notice simply by responding to it.

2.    An IRS notice typically will be about your federal tax return or tax account. It will be about a specific issue, such as changes to your account. It may ask you for more information. It could also explain that you owe tax and that you need to pay the amount that is due.

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

4.    You may get a notice that states the IRS has made a change or correction to your tax return. If you do, review the information and compare it with your original return.

5.    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.

6.    If you do not agree with the notice, it’s important for you to respond. You should write a letter to explain why you disagree. Include any information and documents you want the IRS to consider. Mail your reply with the bottom tear-off portion of the notice. Send it to the address shown in the upper left-hand corner of the notice. Allow at least 30 days for a response.

7.    You won’t need to call the IRS or visit an IRS office for most notices. If you do have questions, call the phone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Have a copy of your tax return and the notice with you when you call. This will help the IRS answer your questions.

8.    Always keep copies of any notices you receive with your other tax records and make notations of what you included in the response as well as the date you responded.  If the amount in question is significant, mail your response via Certified Mail with Return Receipt in order to prove mailing.

9.    Be alert for tax scams. The IRS sends letters and notices by mail. The IRS does not contact people by email or social media to ask for personal or financial information.  The IRS will not initiate collections by a phone call asking for immediate payment or threaten arrest.

10.    For more on this topic visit Click on the link ‘Responding to a Notice’ at the bottom left of the home page. Also, see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process. You can get it on at any time.

Additional IRS Resources:
IRS YouTube Videos: