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|Posted on November 11, 2015 at 10:40 AM||comments (19)|
When the IRS or a state finds that you either should have filed a return or the return that you filed was filed in error you may be hit with a penalty. Which penalty and how much it will add to your balance due depends on what the taxing authority finds in error on your return.
Failure to File:
This penalty is for just what it says. If you were required to file a tax return but did not file on the due date, including extension, you may be hit with the Failure to File penalty.
Failure to Pay:
This penalty is for any balance due that was not paid by the due date of the return.
Fraudulent Failure to File:
If the IRS determines that your Failure to File was due to a fraudulent act they can access a penalty of 15% of the unpaid balance per month with a maximum of 75%
Underpayment of Estimated Tax (Individuals and Corporations):
This is accessed on any individual or corporation if they do not pay enough estimated taxes into the government. The rates change for inflation. For corporations the rate also changes due to the amount of the underpayment.
Accuracy Related Penalty:
This is a 20% of the underpayment due to:
If the IRS determines that you filed a fraudulent return there is a 75% of the understatement penalty due to the fraud.
Frivolous Tax Court Suits:
There is up to a $25,000 for the intentional delay, frivolous or groundless positions, and failure to pursue available administrative remedies to a tax issue.
If you are hit with this, it is considered a willful attempt to evade tax and is a felony. Maximum fine is $250,000 ($500,000 for corporations) and/or up to 5 years in prison.
Failure to Collect or Pay Over Tax:
Willful failure to collect, account for, and pay over tax is a felony with a maximum fine of $250,000 ($500,000 for corporations) and/or up to 5 years in prison. These include payroll taxes for your employees that you have in a trust fund account.
Perjury and Fraud:
If you knowingly file or help file a false return or aid in the fraud, it is considered a felony. This also carries a maximum fine of $250,000 ($500,000 for corporations). The jail time can be added to include up to 3 years.
Earned Income Credit Claimed When Not Eligible:
As you can see there are many ways to be hit with a penalty on your tax return. All of the penalties and amounts listed above are at the Federal level. Each state has their own rates and penalties to consider. It is always better to excercise the laws when filing your tax return then to be hit with any penalties at a later date. The IRS can levy your home and business as well as garnish your wages until the unpaid amounts are paid in full. My advice is to do your research, hire a knowledgeable tax preparer, or know that laws BEFORE filing your own return. Getting out of a tax mess is more expensive then staying out of a tax mess to begin with!
There is a way to mitigate the noncriminal penalties. This is can be done with "Reasonable Cause". Reasonable cause is based on the facts and circumstances in each case. Any reason that establishes that a taxpayer exercised ordinary care and prudence but still failed to comply with the tax law may be considered for relief.
For more information on penalties see the IRS website and publication 17
|Posted on November 5, 2015 at 12:05 AM||comments (16)|
By now almost all taxpayers have become aware of the "Individual Shared Responsibility Provision" of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For many taxpayers this awareness came when they filed their 2014 tax return this year. For others, this came a few years before when their tax professionals started stressing the penalities that could be involved if health insurance wasn't purchased and/or it didn't meet the requirements of the new law. Today I would like to try and help everyone make since of the "Individual Shared Responsibility Provision".
This provision requires that you and all of your family members do one of 3 things:
You can determine if you are responsible for the payment by visting the IRS.gov website at
What is "Minimal Essential Coverage"?
This includes most health coverage provided by employers, coverage purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace, coverage provided via a government program such as Medicare, Medicaid, programs for Veterans, coverage purchased directly from an insurer, and other coverages recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services as having minimal essential coverage. You can learn more about Minimal Essential Coverage from the IRS at
Who is Exempt?
You can claim an exemption to the "Shared Responsibility Payment" in a number of ways. This include, but are not limited to:
You can see a list of all the exemptions at:
Note that some exemptios can be claimed on your tax return, other granted by the marketplace.
You will be required to make a payment for any month you or a dependent does not have "Minimum Essential Coverage" or qualify for an Exemption. This payment is calculated when you file your tax return and can increase your balance due or decrease any refund you may be eligible for.
With the new laws on health care it is best to see a knowledgeable tax professional to help you navigate the ever changing forms, laws and regulations pertaining to your taxes. Excel Tax and Consulting Services is ready for you for the upcoming season! Call or Stop In for more information.
|Posted on October 28, 2015 at 3:25 PM||comments (18)|
I am sure no one mentioned the IRS and back debt to you when you decided to get married. One large surprise is that the IRS can now offset your refund to pay for your spouse's debt even if it was made before you tied the knot.
Most taxpayers are not aware of this situation until they file their first return as a married couple and some or all of the refund is taken to pay a prior debt of their new spouse. This is when they usually call their tax professional with many questions and concerns about their refund being used to cover their new spouse's back debt.
In most cases this is nothing to worry about. You can either file a separate return from your spouse or file a joint return with a form 8379. Filing a separate return can cause you to forgo many benefical credits and deductions while filing a joint return with a form 8379 can let you keep you credits and deductions will still receiving your portion of your tax refund. The form 8379 can be filed after a return is filed and a refund offset but it does take longer to get your portion of the refund returned to you. This is why it is always better to file your return with the form. Your refund is held up for a while longer but you will still get any portion that was allocated to you in the form 8379.
The injured spouse must NOT be legally liable for the debt, must show income or payments on the return. If these requirements are not met then the entire refund can, and in most cases will, go to the back debt of the other spouse.
The types of debt a refund can be offset for include Federal Tax business or individual accounts, Child Support, Social Security, Student Loans, State Obligations.
If you feel that your refund may be offset for one of these obligations it is best to contact your tax professional and ask about the injured spouse relief. You tax professional will assist you in filing the form as well as giving you advice on if you qualify.
The state of Iowa does not recognize injured spouse and in all likelihood your state refund will be kept for the past due obligation.
The IRS has a PDF that can help you understand some additional information.
Call or stop by today for more information. Excel Tax and Consulting Services.
|Posted on October 21, 2015 at 11:50 AM||comments (195)|
Filing your return with the correct filing status is very important. Certain filing statuses can cause you to receive credits and deductions you are not entitled to as well as take away some you may be entitled to.
There are 5 Federal filing statuses and each has their own set of rules to be claimed on an accurate Federal Tax Return. These statuses are: Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household, and Qualifying Widow/Widower. Knowing your correct filing status can help save an IRS review of your return as well as provide credits and deductions that can have a financial benefit.
Single: You are unmarried, divorced, or widowed. This is a pretty straight forward filing status and any credits and deductions you are entitled to are allowed. These can include Earned Income Tax Credit, Education Credits, the Student Loan Interest Deduction, etc.
Married Filing Jointly: You are legally married. If your spouse passes away throughout the year you can still file a joint return for the year of death with your spouse. This is also another filing status that allows you to take any credits and deductions you are entitled to. This filing status does require BOTH spouses to sign the return which says they are both liable for any information pertaining to the return.
Married Filing Separately: You are legally married but do not wish to file a joint return with your spouse. This filing status does limit some credits and deductions you are allowed to take on your return. When filing a separate return the Earned Income Tax Credit, Education Credits, Tuition and Fees Deduction, Student Loan Interest Deduction, Tax Free Exclusion of US Bond Interest, Tax Free Exclusion of Social Security Benefits, Credit for the Elderly and Disabled, and the Child and Dependent Care Credit are all disallowed. Also, both spouses must use the Standard Deduction or Both must itemize their deductions. This is true even if one spouse has nothing to itemize, this means that they will have a $0 deduction. Another down fall to this status is the lower income phase-out for deductible IRA. Also be aware that this filing status generally pays the most tax of all the filing statuses.
Head of Household: You are unmarried or can be considered unmarried for tax purposes and provide more than 50% of the household support for you and a dependent. This filing status does allow for any and all deductions and credits you are legally allowed. Note, that to be considered unmarried for tax purposes you must have been separated from your spouse for the last 6 months of the year. IRS ruling states that even 1 day in the last 6 months can cause this filing status to be disallowed and the Married Filing Jointly or the Married Filing Separately status must be used. There are very few cases where there can be more than 1 Head of Household in a home. This is not to say that this can't happen but there are many things to look at before this should be considered.
Qualifying Widow/Widower: In order to use this filing status you must have been able to file a joint return with your spouse in the year of death. You didn't have to file a joint return just have been able to. Then for 2 years after the year of death if you have qualifying children on your return you can use this status to give you a higher standard deduction. Allo credits and deductions are allowed with this status as well.
Special Filing Status for Married Iowa Residents: Married couples in Iowa can use a filing status called Married Filing Separate on a Joint Return. This status is available if you file a Joint Federal return and in most cases increases your refund or lowers your balance due with the state of Iowa. This is a common mistake for self filers who are not aware of this status and what it can do for their Iowa return. If you feel that your Iowa return has been completed incorrectly see a tax professional for a free review at Excel Tax and Consulting Services!
Correct Filing Status determination is a great start to an accurate tax return but won't get you all the way. Check back for more details on filing accurate tax returns. As always, Excel Tax and Consulting Services is at your service for all your tax needs!
|Posted on October 14, 2015 at 2:05 PM||comments (199)|
Today we discuss expenses that relate to your employment and must be more than 2% of your Adjusted Gross Income before they can be deducted.. These are not to be confused with expenses for any Self Employment.
Unreimbursed employee expenses can be deducted on Schedule A is the are ordinary and necessary for your position. If your employer includes the amounts that they pay you in box 1 of your W2 those are NOT considered reimbursed and can therefore be deducted on your return. In some cases you may have to file Form 2106 along with your Schedule A in order to take the deduction. These include:
If Form 2106 is not needed your expenses can be written in on the dotted line. Remember to keep all receipts, milage records, and other information pertaining to your deduction. If your return is ever selected for review by the IRS you will need that information to substantiate your deduction.
Expenses that can be written in include:
Tax Preparation Fees can also be deducted in this section. This is the fee you paid to have your prior year's return prepared. Include any fees you were charged for paying via a credit card on line 23.
Line 23 of the Schedule A is Other Expenses. These can include items such as the credit card fee charge to use a credit card to pay for your tax return preparation as well as:
Line 28 of Schedule A is Other Miscellaneous Deductions. This includes:
|Posted on October 8, 2015 at 12:40 AM||comments (21)|
Today I would like to discuss the deductions for Casualty and Theft Losses that may help lower your tax bill. A Casualty Loss is the damage, destruction, or loss of property resulting from a recognizable event. This inlcudes, but is not limited to, Fire, Tornados, Hurricanes, Flooding etc. A casualty is sudden, unexpected and unusual. A Theft Loss is the taking and removing of money or property with the intent to deprive the owner of it. It must be illegal under the state law, and done with criminal intent.
Examples of Deductible Losses:
Examples of Nondeductible Losses:
There are a few cases where a nondeductible loss can become a deductible loss. One example, the corrosive damage caused by defective drywall installed in homes between 2001 and 2009. See your tax professional if you think you may qualify for a casualty or theft loss of items not listed.
When claiming the loss there are a few deduction limits to be aware of:
Your casualty or Theft Loss must be reduced by any and all insurance reimbursements received and is the lesser of your cost or basis in the property or the reduction in the fair market value due to the loss. Form 4684 is used to claim a loss and then transfered to form 1040 schedule A.
There are special rules for losses in a Federally Declared Disaster Area. See you tax professional for specific information on Casualty and Theft losses for your situation.
As always, Excel Tax and Consulting Services is here to help lower your taxes accurately. Call or Stop by today.
|Posted on September 30, 2015 at 2:25 PM||comments (12)|
This week we discuss the "Charitable Contributions" deduction on the 1040 Schedule A. Many are aware that they can deduct cash and items donated to a charity but are unsure of the rules for record keeping and the actual deduction.
To be deductible the contribution must be to a qualified organization. Church, School, and Veternan's Organizations are amoung the leading groups on most individual tax returns. You can deduct only the amount in excess of the fair market value of any item you receive in return. A good example of this: A church charity dinner at $100 a plate. You can deduct the FMV of the dinner over what you would have paid elsewhere for a similar dinner. Let's just say that the dinner would have cost $25 at an eating establishment, that means that $75 per plate is deductible. Another good example would be a school silent auction where you when an item, lets say a painting, with a winning bid of $400. The painting is worth $200, you can deduct $200.
Also, when deducting cash donations you must maintain a record of either a bank statement or written notification from the organization with the amount or amounts of the deduction that includes the dates.
Any donations over $250 in cash or property must have a statement from the organization. Non cash donations over $500 but less that $5000 require form 8283A and over $5000 require form 8283 A with section B.
There are special rules for donating certain types of property such as cars, boats, planes, etc. The deduction can be limited depending on what the organization does with the item after receiving it from you.
I like to tell all of my clients that donate clothes to organizations to take pictures of the items to place with their return and the slip from the organization so that they have tangible proof of the "Good Used Item" that they donated. These pictures can come in handy during an audit if the contributions are in question.
If you need further information you can call or stop by Excel Tax and Consulting Services or check the IRS website for more information.
|Posted on September 24, 2015 at 12:15 AM||comments (9)|
This week we discuss the "Taxes You Paid" Section of the Schedule A Itemized Deductions.
There are a few taxes that can't be deducted in this section. These include:
State and Local Income Taxes can be deducted. These include:
If it yields a better deduction, you can choose to deduct state and local sales taxes instead. There is a need for reciepts unless you use the standard amounts.
Real Estate Taxes can be deducted. These Include:
You can include State, Local and Foreign taxes you pay on real estate you own that is not for business. DO NOT include charges for improvements that increase the property value.
Personal Property Taxes can be deducted. These Include:
Only taxes based on value alone and are charged yearly. Example: Car License Fees in Iowa.
Interest You Paid:
This includes mortgage interest on your main home and your second home. There are limits as to the amounts you can deduct.
Mortgage Insurance Premiums:
These are premiums paid on a mortgage insurance contract entered into after December 31st, 2006.
This is interest you paid on money borrowed for investments and does not include any interest allocable to passive activities.
Be sure to check all of your Taxes You Paid deductions to make sure you are getting the highest deductions allowed. Call or stop by to speak with one wof our representatives today so you are ready for tax season!
Excel Tax and Consulting is here for you!
Next Week's Blog will Include "Gifts to Charity" and "Casualty and Theft Losses"
|Posted on September 16, 2015 at 1:00 PM||comments (23)|
One of the biggest question I get every year is "What can I deduct on my return?". Today's post will be the first in a series of post on the Schedule A Itemized Deductions. I hope this helps the majority of the taxpayers with questions on their deductions.
Medical expenses are deductible when they are more then 10% of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). If either you or your spouse is 65 years or older you can deduct these if they are more than 7.5% of your AGI.
What medical expenses are deductible? General medical expenses you pay for yourself, spouse or dependent are deductible. These expenses must be paid for in the year you deduct them. Not the year of the service, unless they are one in the same.
Example 1: You have a major medical procedure in April. Your bill is $10,000 after insurance, you pay $100 a month from May till December of the same year. You can deduct the $800 payments in the current year. The rest in later years as paid.
Example 2: The same information as in example 1 but instead of making payments you pay the whole $10,000 with a credit card. You can deduct the whole $10,000 on the current return.
Most medical and dental expenses can be deductible as long as they are legal, not for cosmetic services (some exceptions apply), and are required via a doctor.
Example 1. Breast augmentation is not deductible, but Breast Reconstruction is deductible for a cancer patient.
Example 2. Capping, Crowning, Braces and other dental procedures are deductible but Teeth Whitening or bleaching is not deductible.
Did you know that expenses you incur while remodeling your home to make it more accessible for your medical needs may be deductible?
Constructing entrance or exit ramps for your home.
Widening doorways at entrances or exits to your home.
Widening or otherwise modifying hallways and interior doorways.
Installing railings, support bars, or other modifications to bathrooms.
Lowering or modifying kitchen cabinets and equipment.
Moving or modifying electrical outlets and fixtures.
Installing porch lifts and other forms of lifts (but elevators generally add value to the house).
Modifying fire alarms, smoke detectors, and other warning systems.
Adding handrails or grab bars anywhere (whether or not in bathrooms).
Modifying hardware on doors.
Modifying areas in front of entrance and exit doorways.
Grading the ground to provide access to the residence.
Don't forget that all your medical miles can really add up! Keep a log of your miles for medical purposes each year. Everytime you use your vehicle for medical reasons write the staring odometer, date, time, reason, place you went, then the ending odometer reading for the trip.
Overnight stays for medical purposes can also be deducted as a medical expense. Meals are not included in the medical expenses for the overnight stay.
For more information on deductible medical expenses Stop in or Call us today!
A good referrance source is IRS Publication 502 which can be found at: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p502/ar02.html#en_US_2014_publink1000178887
|Posted on September 9, 2015 at 3:30 PM||comments (15)|
Do you ever wonder what certain life events can do to your taxes? Have you experienced a windfall or infux of income?
Many businesses and farms use their tax professional as a gateway to lower their tax bill before the end of the year. How do they do that? They gather all of their current income and deductions for the year as well as "planned and possible" items. Then their professional can do a mock up of the next year's return and see where they can make the most impact to save tax dollars.
Individual taxpayers can use this same service to their advantage! If you have experienced a change in employment, had a baby, got married, got divorced, won money in a lottery or casino, had a dependent move out on their own, or purchased a new home now is the time to see your professional about the changes you face on your upcoming taxes.
Most taxprofessionals will gladly talk to you about your returns, past, present and future. This gives them an opportunity to share their knowledge with you and to get to know you on a more personal level. The more you and your tax professional are on the same page about your tax goals, the more you can feel confident going into your tax appointment during tax season. It helps ease your mind that many of the surprises that can happen during your tax interview may have already be covered in your yearly tax check up!
If your still not sure that a yearly check up is right for you, be sure to call your tax professional if a major life event happens. There are things your professional can discuss with you that can help your situation without a visit to the office. Just remember, it is always better to get the new information to your professional in person and as soon as possible to help avoid any backlash from the event! Your professional can't help if they are not kept in the loop!
Is your tax professional hard to reach during non tax season hours? If so, you should find a tax professional that has an office that is open past April, is easy to get a hold of even when the office is closed, returns phone calls and emails in a timely matter and keeps their clients up to date on important tax issues either via websites, emails, a company letter or Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter. The more your learn about your taxes the more prepared you can be when the time comes to file!
Visit Excel Tax and Consulting Services today!