Don’t Be A Victim of Tax Identity Theft: File Your 2017 Return Early

Don’t Be A Victim of Tax Identity Theft: File Your 2017 Return Early

The IRS has just announced that it will begin accepting 2017 income tax returns on January 29. You may be more concerned about the April 17 filing deadline, or even the extended deadline of October 15 (if you file for an extension by April 17). After all, why go through the hassle of filing your return earlier than you have to? But it can be a good idea to file as close to January 29 as possible: Doing so helps protect you from tax identity theft. All-too-common scam Here’s why early filing helps: In an all-too-common scam, thieves use victims’ personal information to file fraudulent tax returns electronically and claim bogus refunds. This is usually done early in the tax filing season. When the real taxpayers file, they’re notified that they’re attempting to file duplicate returns. A victim typically discovers the fraud after he or she files a tax return and is informed by the IRS that the return has been rejected because one with the same Social Security number has already been filed for the same tax year. The IRS then must determine who the legitimate taxpayer is. Tax identity theft can cause major headaches to straighten out and significantly delay legitimate refunds. But if you file first, it will be the tax return filed by a potential thief that will be rejected — not yours. The IRS is working with the tax industry and states to improve safeguards to protect taxpayers from tax identity theft. But filing early may be your best defense. W-2s and 1099s Of course, in order to file your tax return, you’ll need...
The TCJA Temporarily Expands Bonus Depreciation

The TCJA Temporarily Expands Bonus Depreciation

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) enhances some tax breaks for businesses while reducing or eliminating others. One break it enhances — temporarily — is bonus depreciation. While most TCJA provisions go into effect for the 2018 tax year, you might be able to benefit from the bonus depreciation enhancements when you file your 2017 tax return. Pre-TCJA bonus depreciation Under pre-TCJA law, for qualified new assets that your business placed in service in 2017, you can claim a 50% first-year bonus depreciation deduction. Used assets don’t qualify. This tax break is available for the cost of new computer systems, purchased software, vehicles, machinery, equipment, office furniture, etc. In addition, 50% bonus depreciation can be claimed for qualified improvement property, which means any qualified improvement to the interior portion of a nonresidential building if the improvement is placed in service after the date the building is placed in service. But qualified improvement costs don’t include expenditures for the enlargement of a building, an elevator or escalator, or the internal structural framework of a building. TCJA expansion The TCJA significantly expands bonus depreciation: For qualified property placed in service between September 28, 2017, and December 31, 2022 (or by December 31, 2023, for certain property with longer production periods), the first-year bonus depreciation percentage increases to 100%. In addition, the 100% deduction is allowed for not just new but also used qualifying property. The new law also allows 100% bonus depreciation for qualified film, television and live theatrical productions placed in service on or after September 28, 2017. Productions are considered placed in service at the time of the...
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Key Provisions Affecting Individuals

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Key Provisions Affecting Individuals

On December 20, Congress completed passage of the largest federal tax reform law in more than 30 years. Commonly called the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” (TCJA), the new law means substantial changes for individual taxpayers. The following is a brief overview of some of the most significant provisions. Except where noted, these changes are effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026. Drops of individual income tax rates ranging from 0 to 4 percentage points (depending on the bracket) to 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37% Near doubling of the standard deduction to $24,000 (married couples filing jointly), $18,000 (heads of households), and $12,000 (singles and married couples filing separately) Elimination of personal exemptions Doubling of the child tax credit to $2,000 and other modifications intended to help more taxpayers benefit from the credit Elimination of the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act requiring taxpayers not covered by a qualifying health plan to pay a penalty — effective for months beginning after December 31, 2018, and permanent Reduction of the adjusted gross income (AGI) threshold for the medical expense deduction to 7.5% for regular and AMT purposes — for 2017 and 2018 New $10,000 limit on the deduction for state and local taxes (on a combined basis for property and income taxes; $5,000 for separate filers) Reduction of the mortgage debt limit for the home mortgage interest deduction to $750,000 ($375,000 for separate filers), with certain exceptions Elimination of the deduction for interest on home equity debt Elimination of the personal casualty and theft loss deduction (with an exception...
What You Need to Know About Year-End Charitable Giving in 2017

What You Need to Know About Year-End Charitable Giving in 2017

Charitable giving can be a powerful tax-saving strategy: Donations to qualified charities are generally fully deductible, and you have complete control over when and how much you give. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind this year to ensure you receive the tax benefits you desire. Delivery date To be deductible on your 2017 return, a charitable donation must be made by Dec. 31, 2017. According to the IRS, a donation generally is “made” at the time of its “unconditional delivery.” But what does this mean? Is it the date you, for example, write a check or make an online gift via your credit card? Or is it the date the charity actually receives the funds — or perhaps the date of the charity’s acknowledgment of your gift? The delivery date depends in part on what you donate and how you donate it. Here are a few examples for common donations: Check. The date you mail it. Credit card. The date you make the charge. Pay-by-phone account. The date the financial institution pays the amount. Stock certificate. The date you mail the properly endorsed stock certificate to the charity. Qualified charity status To be deductible, a donation also must be made to a “qualified charity” — one that’s eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. The IRS’s online search tool, Exempt Organizations (EO) Select Check, can help you more easily find out whether an organization is eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. You can access EO Select Check at http://apps.irs.gov/app/eos. Information about organizations eligible to receive deductible contributions is updated monthly. Potential impact of tax reform The charitable donation...
2018 Q1 Tax Calendar: Key Deadlines for Businesses and Other Employers

2018 Q1 Tax Calendar: Key Deadlines for Businesses and Other Employers

Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the first quarter of 2018. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all-inclusive, so there may be additional deadlines that apply to you. Contact us to ensure you’re meeting all applicable deadlines and to learn more about the filing requirements.   January 31 • File 2017 Forms W-2, “Wage and Tax Statement,” with the Social Security Administration and provide copies to your employees. • Provide copies of 2017 Forms 1099-MISC, “Miscellaneous Income,” to recipients of income from your business where required. • File 2017 Forms 1099-MISC reporting nonemployee compensation payments in Box 7 with the IRS. • File Form 940, “Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return,” for 2017. If your undeposited tax is $500 or less, you can either pay it with your return or deposit it. If it’s more than $500, you must deposit it. However, if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time, you have until February 12 to file the return. • File Form 941, “Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return,” to report Medicare, Social Security and income taxes withheld in the fourth quarter of 2017. 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 February 12 to file the return. (Employers that have an estimated annual employment tax liability of $1,000 or less may be eligible to file Form 944,“Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return.”) • File Form 945, “Annual Return...
Even if Your Income is High, Your Family May be Able to Benefit From the 0% Long-Term Capital Gains Rate

Even if Your Income is High, Your Family May be Able to Benefit From the 0% Long-Term Capital Gains Rate

We’re entering the giving season, and if making financial gifts to your loved ones is part of your plans — or if you’d simply like to reduce your capital gains tax — consider giving appreciated stock instead of cash this year. Doing so might allow you to eliminate all federal tax liability on the appreciation, or at least significantly reduce it. Leveraging lower rates Investors generally are subject to a 15% tax rate on their long-term capital gains (20% if they’re in the top ordinary income tax bracket of 39.6%). But the long-term capital gains rate is 0% for gain that would be taxed at 10% or 15% based on the taxpayer’s ordinary-income rate. In addition, taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) over $200,000 per year ($250,000 for joint filers and $125,000 for married filing separately) may owe the net investment income tax (NIIT). The NIIT equals 3.8% of the lesser of your net investment income or the amount by which your MAGI exceeds the applicable threshold. If you have loved ones in the 0% bracket, you may be able to take advantage of it by transferring appreciated assets to them. The recipients can then sell the assets at no or a low federal tax cost. The strategy in action Faced with a long-term capital gains tax rate of 23.8% (20% for the top tax bracket, plus the 3.8% NIIT), Rick and Sara decide to transfer some appreciated stock to their adult daughter, Maia. Just out of college and making only enough from her entry-level job to leave her with $25,000 in taxable income, Maia falls into the...