Getting Organized for Tax Time

People You Need To Speak To If You Think Your Property Taxes Are Too High

Posted by on Jul 13, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on People You Need To Speak To If You Think Your Property Taxes Are Too High

If you have just received your property tax bill in the mail, you may be shocked at how high your taxes are. House taxes are generally arrived at by multiplying your town’s tax rate by your home’s assessed value, as determined by the town’s tax assessor. Sometimes the town’s tax rate has gone up which explains higher tax bills, but there are also times when a house is overvalued. In that case, you would also see an increase in your property tax burden. Luckily for you, if you think your house has been overvalued, you may still be able to lower your taxes by having the assessed value of your property changed. Here are the people you need to meet with in order to have a successful outcome. The Tax Assessor While it might seem obvious to dispute your assessment value with the tax assessor, some people overlook this step in favor of securing attorneys and other experts. Sometimes, it is quicker to simply visit your town’s assessor for an informal visit to see if you can convince them that the house was overvalued. Making an appointment with your township’s assessor can allow you to get some idea of what went into their valuation of your property. This is especially important if you suspect they have made some simple mistakes. For example, their records may show that your property has three bedrooms, when you only have two. The assessor may not realize that the interior of your home needs significant upgrades in order to be competitive with other homes in the area, which you can point out by providing pictures. Sometimes this discussion will result in a lower assessment; if not, you may need to file a more formal appeal. A Real Estate Appraiser If you do file a more formal appeal, the next person to talk to is a real estate appraiser. A good appraiser can form an independent, professional opinion of the value of your house. They will help you prove that the true worth of your home is not as much as the tax assessor claims. How do they do this? Typically, an appraiser will compile a list of comparable sales of homes in your neighborhood and compare your home to them. They may make adjustments for difference in size, condition and features. By comparing your house to recent home sales on the current market, they can arrive at an accurate, current value of your house. If the price they arrive at is lower than what the tax assessor claims, you can then present the appraisal to your tax assessor as proof that you deserve a lower home value on your tax bill. Now that you know who to talk to, set up appointments with the assessor, appraiser and other experts in property tax settlement, like those at Tax Assessment Xperts Inc. You may soon see a lower amount when you look at your tax...

read more

3 Things You Need To Know About Tax Returns

Posted by on Feb 29, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Things You Need To Know About Tax Returns

While just about everyone knows that they are supposed to file a tax return each year, that doesn’t stop countless people from not doing so. Whether it be because they are worried about owing the government or they simply don’t know what they are doing, letting years of unfiled tax returns continue to pile up isn’t doing you any good. To help you better understand more about dealing with unfiled tax returns, here are a few things you need to know. Not filing your returns can get you in trouble. You are responsible for making sure your tax return is filed on time every year. Not filing your return could get you in trouble, and not filing for multiple years is that much worse. You could be guilty of tax evasion. As a citizen of the country, it is your job to make sure you file your taxes on time, each and every time. If you don’t know what you are doing or need additional assistance about where to include a certain item on your taxes, you might want to seek the help of a professional. You can file for an extension if needed. If you don’t think you will have all of your paperwork done on time, you might want to file for an extension to prevent being charged with any penalties for not getting your return turned in on time. The extension will give you an additional six months to get everything filed and turned in. It is far better to do this than it is to let all of your returns keep piling up on you one year after the next. You can get a payment plan with the IRS. For some people, they don’t file their returns because they know they are going to owe money to the IRS and they simply don’t have it to pay right now. However, you can work out a payment plan with the IRS and get your finances under control along with your tax return. They are willing to work with people, but you have to take the first step in calling them and discussing the different options they have available for you. Don’t allow one year of taxes after another to go by without filing your return. You only end up accumulating penalties and fees by not filing, so you can save yourself the hassle by simply filing your paperwork each...

read more

How To Investigate A Caregiver For Your Parents

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How To Investigate A Caregiver For Your Parents

Many people think that employee background checks are done for government jobs or big businesses. The truth is, everyone should go through a background check before being hired for any type of position, especially a personal position. If you are hiring a caregiver for a family member who needs help around the house, it is important to know this person’s skill level and their background. Here is what you should look for in a caregiver’s background.  Require all past history If you want to find out the caregiver’s total past, require that they disclose all of the places that they have worked for. The reason for this is to determine if there are any issues in their past and to determine their skill level. If the person has not had many jobs nor much schooling, they may not have all of the medical and customer skills to handle major situations. Request a total work history. If there are gaps, be sure to require an explanation. Next, call all of their past workplaces to determine how well they worked. If you suspect dishonesty, hire a private investigator. Find a total criminal history Caregivers that work in the home have access to everything near and dear to you. They will be taking care of a venerable family member who needs the help of someone completely trustworthy. A caregiver will also have access to items inside of your home. For this reason, you need someone with a clean background. Request a criminal history from your local police department for the candidates you are interested in hiring. Along with the criminal history, you should also check for litigious history for civil court cases. If a caregiver has a history of small claims court suits with individuals, this can also speak to their moral standing. Fill out proper tax information Household help will need to pay proper state and federal taxes. Be sure to have your household worker fill out a w-9 form if they are a contractor or a W-4 form if they are considered an employee. You will need to collect the caregiver’s proper tax information in order to give them information for filing their return by the beginning of the next tax season. If your caregiver has formed their own business in order to collect taxes as a company, request their business information from the state, in order to make sure the business is appropriately formed and pays taxes as it should.    For further assistance, contact a company which conducts employee background checks, such as...

read more

4 Options For Stopping Tax-Related Wage Garnishment From The IRS

Posted by on Aug 13, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 4 Options For Stopping Tax-Related Wage Garnishment From The IRS

It happens out of nowhere; you get a notice from the IRS that they’re going to start garnishing your wages due to unpaid taxes owed to the government. Sure enough, your next pay stub includes a hefty deduction due to your wage garnishment. What do you do next if you don’t have the money to pay off your tax burden? Fortunately, you do have some options for temporarily or even permanently stopping wage garnishments from the IRS. Work Out a Payment Plan If you’re unable to pay the taxes you owe upfront, you may still be able to end your wage garnishments by working out a payment plan with the IRS. Generally, individuals are eligible to enroll in a payment plan if they owe $50,000 or less in back taxes by filling out an application. From there, you can work on re-paying your taxes in a way that still leaves you with enough money to live your life. Make Them an Offer If you disagree with the amount of tax the IRS claims you owe or owe more than the $50,000 required for enrollment in a payment plan, you might actually consider making a counter-offer to the IRS. It might sound crazy, but in cases where the IRS knows you won’t be able to feasibly pay off the debt you owe in a reasonable amount of time (or within your lifetime), they may very well accept a compromise on your total owed. Should you decide to go this route, however, it’s recommended that you work with a tax lawyer to assist you. File for Bankruptcy The above are options for permanently ending your wage garnishment, but if you’re looking for temporary relief, there are some other options you may want to consider. One is that of filing for bankruptcy; this will temporarily put a stop to any wage garnishment, but will not necessarily reduce your total amount owed to the government. Still, it can be a viable option for those who are in a difficult financial situation as it is. Plead Poverty Finally, understand that the government can garnish your wages if you owe back taxes, but they must also leave you with a livable wage. Therefore, if you are experiencing serious hardship (for example, you’re at risk of becoming homeless or starving) as a result of your wage garnishment, speak with an attorney who can help you plead poverty to the IRS and put a temporary stop to your garnishment. For more information, contact Horizon Tax Relief or a similar...

read more

Tax Tips For Contractors And Freelance Workers

Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tax Tips For Contractors And Freelance Workers

Becoming an independent worker is the dream for many people. However, it does come with a few drawbacks, one of them being that you will have more complicated taxes. Here are some tips for keeping your personal finances in order come tax time. Keep Track of Your 1099’s Every time you make more than $600 from a single employer, they are responsible for giving you a form 1099 that shows how much money they’ve paid you for the year. You can keep track of these by keeping a list of the 1099 forms you expect to receive. If you don’t receive a 1099 form by the end of January, then you should follow up with each of your clients to help them arrange the paperwork. In the end, you will be responsible for reporting all of your income accurately, but the form 1099 will help you to have a valid documentation of your income.  Set Aside Money for Taxes As a contractor, you don’t have the safety net of getting your taxes taken out of every paycheck. You will also have a higher tax liability, because no one will be paying for part of your social security taxes. Be sure that you factor taxes into your budget so that you don’t get a nasty surprise when tax time rolls around.  Write Off Your Expenses As a small business owner, you have some opportunities to write off business expenses for your contracting work. Be sure to take advantage of credits for your home office, any equipment that you use, as well as business development and education that’s relevant to your business. Using these deductions can significantly cut down your tax liabilities.  Use Tax Services Keeping track of the various deductions and tax liabilities can be time consuming for a contractor. When you are running your own business, every hour that you spend on your taxes is coming out of your own productivity. If you would prefer to focus on your work of choice and leave the tax planning to someone else, you can hire a tax professional to arrange your taxes for you.  Tax services are great resources for asking tax-related questions, filing taxes, and personal financial planning. As a contractor, don’t be afraid to get help from other professionals when you need it; tax services, like those offered by RJ. Garner CPA & Associates, PLC, are one of the areas where freelance workers can often benefit from sharing the labor of their...

read more

Filing IRS Form 2290 To Report And Pay The Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax

Posted by on Jun 24, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Filing IRS Form 2290 To Report And Pay The Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax

Trucking companies and owner-operators must pay a federal excise tax annually on road tractors. The tax is assessed on highway vehicles that weigh over 55,000 pounds, so larger buses are taxed also. Anyone responsible for reporting and paying the tax can benefit from learning more about IRS Form 2290. Although the excise tax is assessed on most over-the-road vehicles weighing over 55,000 pounds, exemptions are allowed, including one for vehicles driven less than 5,000 miles annually. In the case of a road tractor, the threshold of 55,000 pounds includes more than just the truck itself. Vehicle weights The tax is assessed on the full weight that a truck is capable of transporting on public highways. In addition to the weight of the tractor, the weight of a typical trailer and its contents is also included. The combined weight of the truck, the trailer, and its typical full load determines the amount of your tax. Tax rates For vehicles over the weight threshold of 55,000 pounds, the tax ranges from $100 to $550. Above the $100 threshold, the tax increases $22 for each additional 1,000 pounds. The tax tops out at $550 for vehicles weighing over 75,000 pounds. Form 2290 includes a chart that can be used to calculate the tax. The tax rates for logging trucks are slightly lower than for other heavy vehicles. The Form 2290 chart includes separate tax calculations for logging trucks. Form 2290 also accommodates changes in the usage of heavy vehicles from year to year. Form completion The reporting period for Form 2290 is July 1 to June 30. The return is due by the end of the next month following the month of earliest use during the reporting period. The tax is calculated and paid for the remaining number of months in the reporting period. For various reasons, a heavy vehicle may be removed from service before the end of the reporting period. Your total mileage may be less than originally expected. A credit is allowed on your next Form 2290 if your current mileage turns out to be less than 5,000 miles or if a truck is sold, wrecked, or stolen before the end of the reporting period. IRS receipt Form 2290 includes a supporting form titled Schedule 1. Form 2290 actually includes two copies of Schedule 1, because the IRS sends one back to you marked as paid. A Schedule 1 receipt is required by most states in order to register a heavy highway vehicle, so electronic filing may allow you to complete that process sooner. Accurate filing of the heavy vehicle use tax is essential to keeping trucks and larger buses on schedule. Contact a tax preparer for further information about the unique tax requirements of heavy...

read more

3 Red Flags To Watch For When Hiring A Tax Preparation Service

Posted by on May 14, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Red Flags To Watch For When Hiring A Tax Preparation Service

You might be surprised to learn that even with the proliferation of DIY tax preparation software the IRS estimates that nearly 50% of individual filers still utilize a tax preparation service. If you are in this group, then there are some things that you need to know when you choose your next tax preparer to ensure that you are utilizing a legal tax service. Here are some red flags that should alert you that the tax preparer you are interviewing might not be legal: Red Flag #1: Tax Preparer Uses the IRS’s name or Logo on Website or Printed Materials Tax preparers in the US are not permitted to use the name or logo of the IRS in any print or online materials. Many unscrupulous people use this tactic to convince potential clients that they are somehow approved or connected to the IRS in some way. In order to legally prepare tax forms, your agent needs to be an “enrolled agent” with the IRS. To verify if your potential preparer is enrolled, you can check the IRS website here. Red Flag #2: Tax Preparer Doesn’t Have a PTIN Each enrolled agent with the IRS is given a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) that they are required to include on your tax form next to their signature. If you are interviewing a tax service, they should happily give you their PTIN so that you can verify their legitimacy. If they refuse, then take your business elsewhere. Red Flag #3: Tax Preparer Claims They Can Get You a Very High Refund Unless you have had a major change in income, your tax liability from year to year should remain about the same amount. Any tax preparer who claims they can change this is suspect. Some illegal tax preparers will add erroneous deductions to your tax return in order to get you a higher refund. This is especially true for preparers who charge a percentage of your return for their fee, making this another red flag to watch for. Conclusion The IRS doesn’t have any sympathy for you if you use an illegal tax preparation service to file your returns. As a citizen, it is your responsibility to perform your own due diligence when choosing a tax service. By verifying a service is an enrolled agent, verifying their PTIN with the IRS, and avoiding services which offer unusually high refunds, you can avoid many of the illegal tax services doing business today. Contact a local company, like Jack Landis and Company, if you have...

read more

4 Advantages To Outsourcing Payroll Services Rather Than Leasing Employees

Posted by on Mar 31, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Are you sick of running your employee payroll? Usually you have two major options: you can outsource your payroll services to a company like A & C Accounting & Tax that specializes in payroll or you can just lease your employees outright through an employee leasing program. Though either option will let you avoid wading through paperwork, outsourcing your payroll is usually the better option. 1. You Can Get a Better Quality of Labor When you lease employees, a significant portion of your payments go through the leasing company. By simply outsourcing your payroll and hiring your employees directly, you can instead offer competitive salary and benefits to attract both a better quality of labor and keep employees happier. 2. You Have More Freedom Regarding Hiring and Firing Though you will still retain the freedom to “fire” leased employees at will, all decisions need to go through the leasing company — including complaints. This may not give you the freedom that you desire. You need to hire from a pool of candidates that the leased company keeps on staff, and this could potentially be unsuitable for companies that need more specific labor or want to hire prime candidates that might have already been snatched up by competitors. 3. You Can Take More Tax Breaks When you lease employees you aren’t paying for payroll taxes, insurance payments or anything — you’re just paying a straight fee to lease employees. While this does simplify your books, it also means that you don’t have as much flexibility when you complete your taxes, because you don’t have actual employees on payroll. For smaller businesses, this could be significant. Many tax benefits are calculated based on the amount of employees you actually have; as in, the amount of jobs that you create. 4. You Create a Better Atmosphere Employees know when they aren’t working directly for your company and they may be hesitant to gain a feel for the company culture if they feel either temporary or disposable. It’s better to work with employees that know that they are a part of the business and that their success is the company’s success. There are situations in which employee leasing can make sense. Temporary departments or temporary staff members are often more easily leased, and companies that expect that they will be rapidly growing (or erratically growing) might appreciate the flexibility that leasing provides. Still, outsourcing payroll is usually better for most companies in general because it still affords a modicum of...

read more

Caring For A Parent? Claim Them On Your Taxes For Extra Savings

Posted by on Mar 26, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

A growing number of middle-aged and older Americans are financially and physically supporting other adult members of their family – often parents and grandparents. There are tax benefits available to help out in this situation, but do you qualify to take them? The Rules for Claiming an Adult Dependent There are two types of dependents: qualifying children and qualifying adults. The rules are similar for both categories, but qualifying relatives generally have a lower income threshold to be considered dependents. So, what are the rules for qualifying relatives? They either live as a member of your household or are closely related to you (including those who are/were related by marriage).  This means that your adult family member who lives alone or in an assisted-living facility may still be claimed if he or she is closely related to you and meets the other qualifications.  They must earn less than $3,950 (in 2014) in gross (taxable) income. Such income includes wages, rental income, business income and unemployment benefits. It does not, though, include nontaxable Social Security benefits. You must provide more than half the cost of their support. For tax purposes, support includes food, lodging, clothing, education, medical, transportation and recreation costs. How Are Your Taxes Changed? For a single person, claiming a qualifying dependent can have a significant impact. Your tax filing status changes from “Single” to “Head of Household,” bringing with it a much larger amount of tax-free income. As you can see on Form 1040, single filers in 2014 receive a standard deduction of $6,200 while heads of household are given a $9,100 standard deduction. Also, the extra member of your tax household means an additional $3,950 (in 2014) personal exemption, which further reduces your taxable income. Married couples who claim an adult relative as a dependent don’t benefit as much. They receive the additional exemption but their filing status doesn’t change.  If you itemize deductions, the added member of your tax family could increase your deductions. This is because you can claim the medical expenses incurred to care for the dependent as well as your own.  For those who are receiving home health care, live in nursing homes or require changes to the home they live in, these deductible medical expenses can add up quickly.  As your parent or grandparent’s situation changes, it’s important to understand how to maximize your tax benefits so you can continue to help out as much as possible – both financially and emotionally. For more information, contact Tri Check Inc. or a similar...

read more

Confused At Tax Time? Here’s An Easy Guide To Your Form 1040

Posted by on Mar 11, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Every year, most people must complete Form 1040 to file their taxes.  But how much do you really understand this most fundamental of all personal income tax forms?  It can mean the difference between claiming all money you’re owed and missing out on some. Page One – Taxpayer Information The first page of the full Form 1040 comprise basically three parts: personal information, your income, and adjustments to that income.  The top half of page one is basic information about you and your spouse (if applicable).  After the identification information, choose a filing status and enter the names and Social Security numbers of all dependents you’re claiming—including any parents, grandparents or other family members for which you provide the majority of support (within certain guidelines).   Page One—Income and Adjusted Gross Income After the personal information comes the section marked for income sources.  The most common sources of income are wages (line 7), interest (line 8a), business income (line 12) and Social Security benefits (line 20a).  These are added up to create your total income before adjustments.   What kind of adjustments are then made?  The final section of page one contains items that may reduce your total income number.  These include health savings account contributions, one-half of the self-employment tax, IRA contributions and student loan interest.   Once these adjustments have been made, the bottom line of page one shows your adjusted gross income (often called AGI).   Page Two—Tax and Credits Once your adjusted gross income is determined, you subtract either the standard deduction or itemized deductions on line 40.  Then, multiply the number of exemptions on page one by $3,950 (for 2014) and subtract that total as well.  This creates your taxable income.  Tax is figured on this amount and entered in line 44.  Tax credits are placed in two locations on page two: The first section, “Tax and Credits,” is credits that reduce the amount of tax due.  The total of these credits plus tax due cannot go below zero.  Common credits in this category are education credits, retirement savings contribution credit and the child tax credit.  The second section, “Payments,” includes credits that can be refunded to the taxpayer even if he or she owes no tax.  The credits in this section include the earned income tax credit, additional child tax credit and one type of education credit.  After subtracting all payments (withholding, estimated payments and tax credits), you are left either with an amount due on line 78 or a refund on line 76a.  Understanding the basics of personal income tax can help you know what types of documents are necessary and what might be beneficial in claiming credits or deductions.  It can also help you protect yourself from fraud and missed items.  However, even with such knowledge, it may still be best to seek out a professional tax preparer like UniqueTAXx AND ACCOUNTING or accountant to ensure the best outcome you can...

read more