2012 began with great uncertainty over federal tax policy and now, with the end of the year approaching, that uncertainty appears to be far from any long-term resolution. A host of reduced tax rates, credits, deductions, and other incentives (collectively called the “Bush-era” tax cuts) are scheduled to expire after December 31, 2012. To further complicate planning, over 50 tax extenders are up for renewal, either having expired at the end of 2011 or scheduled to expire after 2012. At the same time, the federal government will be under sequestration, which imposes across-the-board spending cuts after 2012. The combination of all these events has many referring to 2013 as “taxmeggedon.” (more…)
Are you harvesting your tax losses? You should be. There’s not much that’s more disappointing than leaving tax losses on the table unnecessarily. With this article, we’ll help you harvest those losses. (more…)
Do you have children? Are they on your payroll? If they’re not, and if the situation is right, you may want to hurry and get your children on the payroll. Do you give money to your parents or other relatives? If so, keep reading. (more…)
Your retirement plans and IRAs may be among the largest, if not the largest, asset that you have. Understanding the basic tax rules and then planning your distributions to meet your personal financial and estate planning objectives is essential. We can explain those rules and provide some strategies for you to consider as part of your overall tax plan. (more…)
The current state of our economy has left thousands reeling to find that next dollar and maybe more importantly how to keep what they already own. Estate planning is one of the best ways to accomplish this goal and there is no better to time create or revise your estate plans. The laws in effect for 2012 are some of the most favorable for estate planners in the past 80 years. For that reason, 2012 presents a golden opportunity to reduce your future estate tax liability, capitalize on your lifetime taxable gift tax exemptions, and take advantage of current portability options. (more…)
According to the IRS list of Frequently Asked Tax Questions, there is some confusion out there as to exactly when a taxpayer can claim someone as a dependent. So let’s see if we can shed some light on the subject.
There are two categories for claiming a dependent, a Qualifying Child, and a Qualifying Relative. In this article, we are looking at the requirements for a Qualifying Child. The IRS has a specific definition of what a child is. To claim someone as a dependent, they must pass 5 tests:
- Relationship to the Tax Payer
- Age of the individual
- Filing status
As many of you have already wrapped-up your tax returns and finding someplace to keep all of the supporting documentation, one of the questions we often here is “How long should I keep this?”. Here’s what you need to keep and what you can throw out without fearing the wrath of the IRS.
I guess the off-the-cuff response to the question is “As long as it is relevant.”, but that doesn’t exactly help. So let’s look at specifics: (more…)
If you request your refund by check and someone else deposits it, it is a simple matter to have the IRS reverse the deposit and send you a replacement – but what happens if you put down the incorrect information for a direct deposit?
Believe it or not, this happens more often than most people think, and getting it straitened out may be tougher than you would believe.
First off – we can never encourage people enough to read their return before signing it (or the efile authorization). When your preparer hands you your copy of the return take it – and then go home. Sit down and read the return. Make sure the names and social security numbers match your records. If you don’t recognize a number somewhere call your preparer up and ask them about it. When you sign the return the IRS will hold you responsible for the numbers inside – if the preparer had put in some estimate and forgot to take it out, or dropped in an IRA contribution to show you how much you could save and accidentally left it in there, you are the one who will be paying those penalties and interest. (more…)
Mortgage rates are still at some of the lowest rates seen in years, and with some of the current programs like the HARP program, allowing a debt to value ratio of 125%, many people are taking advantage of them.
Unfortunately, not everyone understands what is deductible or non-deductible mortgage interest. And since it all is reported on a single form, the IRS is starting to take a much closer look at this on people’s individual returns. (more…)
Federal and California State income taxes are pre-paid.
For most people who are paid through payroll, this means that the estimated taxes are withheld from your paycheck throughout the year, and then you file a return to claim a refund or make up the balance due. But if you have multiple sources of income, or receive your income without having any withheld for tax, you may become subject to estimated taxes and underpayment penalties. (more…)