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Tax Tip of the Week | Gifts to Charity: Six Facts About Written Acknowledgements September 19, 2018

Posted by bradstreetblogger in : Deductions, General, tax changes, Tax Planning Tips, Tax Preparation, Tax Tip, Taxes, Uncategorized , add a comment

Tax Tip of the Week
September 19, 2018

Throughout the year, many taxpayers contribute money or gifts to qualified organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. Taxpayers who plan to claim a charitable deduction on their tax return must do two things:

•    Have a bank record or written communication from a charity for any monetary contributions.
•    Get a written acknowledgment from the charity for any single donation of $250 or more.

Here are six things for taxpayers to remember about these donations and written acknowledgements:

1.    Taxpayers who make single donations of $250 or more to a charity must have one of the following:
o    A separate acknowledgment from the organization for each donation of $250 or more.
o    One acknowledgment from the organization listing the amount and date of each contribution of $250 or more.
2.    The $250 threshold doesn’t mean a taxpayer adds up separate contributions of less than $250 throughout the year.
o    For example, if someone gave a $25 offering to their church each week, they don’t need an acknowledgement from the church, even though their contributions for the year are more than $250.
3.    Contributions made by payroll deduction are treated as separate contributions for each pay period.
4.    If a taxpayer makes a payment that is partly for goods and services, their deductible contribution is the amount of the payment that is more than the value of those goods and services.
5.    A taxpayer must get the acknowledgement on or before the earlier of these two dates:
o    The date they file their return for the year in which they make the contribution.
o    The due date, including extensions, for filing the return.
6.    If the acknowledgment doesn’t show the date of the contribution, the taxpayers must also have a bank record or receipt that does show the date.

This article was provided by the Internal Revenue Service in Tax Tip 2017-59.  If you have any questions concerning charitable donations, let us know.  We can help.

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We may be reached in our Dayton office at 937-436-3133 or in our Xenia office at 937-372-3504. Or, visit our website.

–until next week.

Tax Tip of the Week | Ohio’s Small Business Deduction September 12, 2018

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Tax Tip of the Week
September 12, 2018

 

This will be the last week for Common Misconceptions, we have had wonderful feedback, thank you!  Let us know via email, what are common business misconceptions that you have come across; markb@bradstreetcpas.com?

This week we wanted to discuss Ohio’s Small Business Deduction. This deduction allows for a portion of an individual’s net business income to be deducted on his or her Ohio return, and began in its earliest form in 2013. This law was enacted to give Ohio businesses a more competitive advantage with other states. The deduction was originally calculated on Form IT SBD – Small Business Investor Income Deduction Schedule. The Ohio website’s definition was “the portion of a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income that is business income reduced by deductions from business income and apportioned or allocated to Ohio . . .” So, it sounds fairly simple right? Take a look at the very first item on the form:

1.    Self-employment income (federal Schedule C, C-EZ or F), guaranteed payments and/or compensation received from each pass-through entity in which you have at least a 20% direct or indirect ownership interest. Note: Reciprocity agreements do not apply (see line instructions)………………………..

Wow! So it would seem not to be so simple after all, and it didn’t get much better from there. First, one had to decide what constitutes “business income”. Did it include rental activities? Did it include all pass-through K-1 income, whether passive or active? Then there were numerous adjustments to “business income” including some at the state level such as Ohio depreciation adjustments, and additional adjustments for federal deductions such as retirement plan contributions, the self-employment tax and the self-employed health insurance deductions, and the domestic production activities deduction. There were also apportionments that had to be made if not all of the income was earned in Ohio. The small business deduction was then calculated at 50% of the first $250,000 of adjusted “net business income”, for a maximum deduction of $125,000 on a joint return.

Very little changed in 2014 with one exception: the deduction increased to 75% of $250,000, or $187,500 on a joint return.

In 2015, the deduction and the form were completely revised and the form’s new name became the Ohio IT BUS – Business Income Schedule. Ohio must have decided the old form was just too complicated (as did all of us in the tax preparation community) because the calculations for the small business deduction actually became simpler. There were no longer depreciation adjustments to include on the form, nor any adjustments for federal deductions. There were also no longer apportionments to deal with, just a requirement that the income be included in Ohio adjusted gross income. The deduction remained at 75% of net adjusted business income of $250,000, or $187,500 on a joint return.

For 2016, 2017 and 2018, the deduction has been increased to 100% of $250,000. In addition, for business income above $250,000, a 3% tax rate was established. For example, if your net business income for any year after 2015 is $500,000, the first $250,000 is exempted, and the next $250,000 is taxed at 3%. Any remaining taxable Ohio income is taxed at ordinary rates.

The deduction can still be fairly complicated to calculate, but is much better than it was in its earlier years. Some of the issues we have seen include the deduction being ignored completely, or business interest, dividends and / or capital gains being left out of the calculation, or similar non-business items being included when they shouldn’t be.

If you have any questions concerning this deduction or any others, please give us a call.

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We may be reached in our Dayton office at 937-436-3133 or in our Xenia office at 937-372-3504. Or, visit our website.

This week’s author – Norman S. Hicks, CPA

–until next week.

Tax Tip of the Week | Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions Are Now Gone September 5, 2018

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Tax Tip of the Week
Sept 5, 2018 
 

Keep the Common Misconceptions coming, we have had wonderful feedback, thank you!  Let us know via email, what are common business misconceptions that you have come across; markb@bradstreetcpas.com?   

As discussed before, the new tax law has nixed miscellaneous itemized deductions. They are no longer a part of your itemized deductions on Schedule A. These include your unreimbursed employee business expenses such as mileage, meals, travel, uniforms and other expenses such as tax prep fees, brokerage fees, etc. Some of the aforementioned expenses are still deductible as business expenses – that hasn’t changed.

Many people are upset about the loss of these tax deductions. Before deciding if a person has the right to be upset, some questions must first be answered. First, how much income tax did you save as a result of these deductions? Well, if you were ineligible to itemize your deductions, you didn’t miss out on anything – nada. And, even if you were able to itemize, the total miscellaneous deductions must exceed 2% of adjusted gross income (AGI) before any benefit is realized. Lastly, even If you cleared these first two hurdles, you may still flunk because of additional Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) being created.

So, let’s walk through a real-life example – your AGI is $150,000 and itemizing your deductions is to your benefit.  More good news – you are not subject to AMT. The grand total of your miscellaneous tax deductions is $4,000. Now, remember that only the portion that exceeds 2% of the $150,000 AGI or a $3,000 floor is of any value at all. Yes, in this case, we have a $1,000 additional deduction or tax savings of roughly $275. Better than nothing – but not worth writing home about. Also, no benefit exists on either the Ohio or School District returns. Sometimes, the unreimbursed employee business expenses are deductible to a taxing city but they almost always generate tax correspondence which takes away most of that fun.

So, at the end of the day, the press is making a big to do about taking away something most people never had anyway!

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We may be reached in our Dayton office at 937-436-3133 or in our Xenia office at 937-372-3504. Or, visit our website.

This week’s author – Mark Bradstreet, CPA

–until next week.

Tax Tip of the Week | No. 473 | “When To Step In With An Older Parent” August 15, 2018

Posted by bradstreetblogger in : General, Tax Planning Tips, Tax Tip, Taxes, Uncategorized , add a comment

Tax Tip of the Week | Aug 15, 2018 | “When To Step In With An Older Parent”

I have been in denial most of my adult life. I never wanted my awesome parents to ever get older. They were like Superman and Superwoman to me – totally invincible. I really believed that if I ignored that fact that they were aging – it wouldn’t happen. But alas, once again, denying and ignoring what was happening in front of me – didn’t save the day. If you find yourself in a similar situation, perhaps what you read below may be of value.

Glenn Ruffenach of the WSJ on May 4, 2018 shares some of his thoughts that follow in his article with us:

…that 92% (that is a HUGE number) of “caregivers” provide some type of financial assistance for a family member such as handling insurance claims, filing taxes, paying bills, etc.

As for “when,” I would broach this topic as soon as possible. If anything, many families are too slow to act. Denial plays a big part in this. Older parents, hoping to stay independent, are quick to minimize difficulties; adult children, reluctant to meddle, may ignore red flags. (And few families, of course, enjoy talking about money.) As such…everyone waits. But the consequences of waiting can be dire: closed accounts, damaged credit, money lost to scam artists—even foreclosure.

The simplest approach is usually the best: pointing out to your mother (or parent) that all of us, as we age, need help, whether its yard work or home repairs or transportation. And household finances are no exception. I began talking with my mother when she was in her early 70s (and still in good health) about the importance of having a family member on “standby”—someone who knew about her bills, credit cards, insurance, investments, etc.

We already had her estate plans in order, and I had power of attorney. But we took two additional steps: We added my name to her checking account, and I filled out a separate set of power-of-attorney forms with the custodian of her individual retirement account, her biggest asset. (Many financial institutions have—and require that you complete—their own documents if you wish to give, say, your spouse or an adult child access to an account.) The latter proved to be invaluable when my mother suffered a stroke and I needed to tap her IRA quickly to help pay for long-term care.

For anyone acting as a financial caregiver, the following resources are invaluable:

•    The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
•    The National Caregivers Library
•    AARP

And if the person who needs help is at some distance from you, you might want to hire a daily money manager. These professionals can sit with a person at home and help pay bills, balance checkbooks and decode medical bills. Start with the American Association of Daily Money Managers (aadmm.com). Be sure the manager you choose is insured, bonded and willing to include other family members in his or her work.

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We may be reached in our Dayton office at 937-436-3133 or in our Xenia office at 937-372-3504. Or, visit our website.

This week’s author – Mark Bradstreet, CPA

–until next week.

Tax Tip of the Week | No. 471 | Ohio Worker’s Compensation August 1, 2018

Posted by bradstreetblogger in : Deductions, General, Tax Deadlines, Tax Planning Tips, Tax Tip, Taxes, Uncategorized , add a comment

Tax Tip of the Week | Aug 1, 2018 | No. 471 | Ohio Worker’s Compensation

To Start: Having a business in Ohio requires you to obtain Worker’s Compensation insurance for your employees and possibly your subcontractors. The application, payments and returns are all filed through the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (OBWC) website at https://www.bwc.ohio.gov.

For new employers an application form U-3 requires a $120 non-refundable application fee. Based on your estimated payroll for the following 12 months and the type of work that your employees do (manual number), OBWC will set your annual fee. It is very important that you are specific in the type of work being done and the equipment being used to accurately assign the manual numbers and rates.

Reporting & Paying: Depending on the amount set for your annual fee, you will either need to pay the entire amount up front or it will be broken down into 6 equal payments. You can make these payments online or pay the installments through the mail. Once a year, you can elect to make your 6 payments monthly, quarterly or annually. BWC runs on a fiscal year of July 1- June 30. A true-up report is due annually on August 15 and is required to be filed on their website reporting the actual payroll for the prior fiscal year. Depending on the actual versus the estimated, either an overpayment will be refunded or a balance will be due. If you have a significant increase in your payroll, you may want to increase your payments during the year so that you don’t owe a large sum with the true up.

Rebates: In 2018 OBWC is issuing rebates for the 2016-2017 fiscal year of 85% of the premiums paid for that year. Checks were mailed out in July. Rebates have also been issued in 3 of the past 4 years.

Lowering your rates:  There are various methods to help lower your rates including: belonging to a group, participating in safety programs, i.e. Policy Activity Rebate (PAR) and training through Better You, Better Ohio! as well as other rating programs. Various rules apply to these, including claim history and some may not be combined.

Let us help answer any of your questions about Workers’ Compensation or other tax matters.

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We may be reached in Dayton at 937-436-3133 and in Xenia at 937-372-3504. Or visit our website.

This week’s author – Linda J. Johannes, CPA

–until next week.

Tax Tip of the Week | No. 468 | New Tax Laws and Buying Your Dream Vacation Home July 12, 2018

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Tax Tip of the Week | July 11, 2018 | No. 468 | New Tax Laws and Buying Your Dream Vacation Home

Vacation-home buyers are impacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, passed by Congress in December of last year. Aside from a few exceptions the new laws are effective on January 1, 2018. The new laws that impact vacation homes generally revolve around the deductibility of mortgage interest and property taxes. This tax tip will not delve into any tax aspects of a second home rental.

Let’s chat first about the property taxes on your dream vacation home.
These property taxes are still deductible. But, like the property taxes on your personal residence there are now more hoops to jump through and they are higher. Being able to itemize now is more difficult since all of your taxes, a part of your itemized deductions, may not exceed $10,000.

Moving on to the deductibility of mortgage interest whether it be from home-equity loans, home-equity lines of credit (HELOCS) or second mortgages have also been adversely affected by the new tax laws.

Generally, mortgage interest is no longer deductible unless the loan proceeds are used to purchase, construct or significantly improve the home that secures the loan. Often, in the past, prior to the passage of the new tax laws – vacation-home buyers of ski chalets and oceanfront homes were using mortgages on their primary residence to purchase the second home. IRS now says that this interest is no longer deductible since the mortgage is on another home. However, it is okay to use a first mortgage on your vacation home for its purchase. But you must keep in mind that you can only deduct the interest on a grand total of $750,000 in mortgage loans. Any “excess” interest is not deductible.

First mortgages on your vacation home or on your primary residence will typically bear similar interest rates. However, unlike a HELOC on your primary residence used for the purchase of a vacation home, lending institutions will ask for at least a 15% down payment for mortgages placed on your vacation home. Be sure to factor this possibility into your cash planning forecast.

Of course, the best work around for managing the mortgage interest deduction on your dream home is not to have any debt. PAY CASH! NOW THAT WOULD BE A DREAM!

Credit given to Robyn A. Friedman, Wall Street Journal, Friday, May, 11, 2018

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We may be reached in Dayton at 937-436-3133 and in Xenia at 937-372-3504. Or visit our website.

This week’s author – Mark Bradstreet, CPA

–until next week.

Tax Tip of the Week | No. 467 | Hmmm…Behind on Filing Your Income Tax Returns and/or Paying Your Income Taxes? July 4, 2018

Posted by bradstreetblogger in : General, Tax Deadlines, Tax Planning Tips, Tax Tip, Taxes, Uncategorized , add a comment

Tax Tip of the Week | July 4, 2018 | No. 467 | Hmmm…Behind on Filing Your Income Tax Returns and/or Paying Your Income Taxes?

You can run but you can’t hide. Delinquent tax return filing or failure to pay your income taxes is not a problem that ever goes away. In fact, the longer you wait to address this problem, the worse it becomes.

The highlights that follow are specific to the Internal Revenue Service. Other taxing entities have their own rules and regulations for past due returns and past due tax balances.

The “failure to file” IRS penalty is typically 5% per month and the “failure to pay” IRS penalty is an additional 5% per month. These two penalties may each be up to 25% of your unpaid taxes. To add insult to injury, interest expense to the IRS also accrues until the balance is paid in full.

The IRS may waive these penalties if you have reasonable cause for not filing your return or paying your taxes. Criminal charges may be sought against a taxpayer if the IRS believes you are evading taxes.

Some people won’t file a return with a balance due if funds are lacking to pay the IRS. In these cases, one may be in a better position to file the return without payment to avoid the “failure to file” penalty.  In this scenario, the “failure to pay” penalty would be the only penalty assessed, along with the interest expense of course.

If paying your return balance is not an option, an installment agreement may be applied for. If eligible, this agreement sets-up a monthly payment. Warning: These installment agreements are typically null and void if a payment is missed.

Another option, although far from easy to obtain, is to request an “offer in compromise.” This permits you to pay, under certain conditions, less then the full overdue balance.

Another possibility exists, if the IRS agrees you cannot pay your past due balance and your living expenses, your account may be moved to “currently not collectible.” Usually, in this situation, the IRS collection efforts will ratchet down. However, the debt remains with penalties and interest continuing to grow.

The moral of the story is not to ignore any IRS correspondence (or any tax correspondence for that matter) and be proactive in dealing with it. Your tax professional can help you come up with a workable plan. They have been down this road before and most likely will have a working rapport with the tax agency in question.

Credit to Sarah Skidmire Sell, The Associated Press, Sunday April 29, 2018, Dayton Daily News

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We may be reached in Dayton at 937-436-3133 and in Xenia at 937-372-3504. Or visit our website.

This week’s author – Mark Bradstreet, CPA

–until next week.

Tax Tip of the Week | No. 461 | Who Gets the Biggest Breaks Under the New Tax Law? May 23, 2018

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Tax Tip of the Week | May 23, 2018 | No. 461 | Who Gets the Biggest Breaks Under the New Tax Law?

The richest 1 percent of Americans (annual earnings of more than $732,800) will receive on average a tax savings of about $33,000. The poorest Americans (annual earnings of less than $25,000) will save on average a whopping $40. Yes! $40! Whopping! Dollars! Interesting to say the least!

Now, the good news is that the new personal income tax provisions will reduce taxes for more than 60% of all USA residents. However, the size of the tax savings by state and by taxable income is uneven as shown by the following chart:

Average Tax Savings

UNDER          $25,000 –     $48,000 –      $86,000 –
$25,000        $48,000        $86,000        $148,000

$40              $320              $780            $1,500

When considering all entity tax cuts including corporate income taxes, the richest Americans receive a combined savings of $51,140 while the poorest will save only $60.

Looking at the tax savings by state – how does Ohio fare?  Not that bad. For Ohioans, 69% of its taxpayers will realize savings. North Dakota is at the top of the savings list at 75%. New York, California and New Jersey are among the states with lowest savings.

Note: Please keep in mind that the federal income tax withheld on each of your 2018 paychecks will be calculated using the new withholding tables for 2018. As a result, your federal withholding should decrease at least some so that your tax savings from the new tax law will be received on each pay check as opposed to having a larger tax refund on your 2018 income tax return. I don’t want taxpayers who receive much of their income via a Form W-2 thinking that their new tax savings will be realized instead through a larger tax refund.

Credit given in part to Jeff Stein, Washington Post, published on Sunday, April 2, 2018 in the Dayton Daily News.

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We may be reached in Dayton at 937-436-3133 and in Xenia at 937-372-3504. Or visit our website.

This week’s author – Mark Bradstreet, CPA

–until next week.

Tax Tip of the Week | No. 460 | The Biggest Estate Plan Mistake – It’s Not What You Think May 16, 2018

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Tax Tip of the Week | May 16, 2018 | No. 460 | The Biggest Estate Plan Mistake – It’s Not What You Think

Only about half of the adults aged 50 to 64 surveyed say they have a will that outlines how their monies and estate assets are to be divided following death. Only about two-thirds of those adults 65 and over say they have such paperwork. If you don’t have a valid will at death your assets will pass by what is known as “intestate succession” to your heirs according to state law. All fifty states have these statutes in place. So in summary, if you don’t have a will, the state will make one for you.

Ever hide some money and forget where you hid it? I have. It is such a pleasant surprise when I stumble across it. Presuming I ever do. Sure many people have wills drawn-up and some elaborate estate planning performed. However, if you are the only one who knows its whereabouts, is someone ever going to find it following your demise? Some people put these documents in a safe deposit box but never tell anyone where the key is. Or, your attorney has your will and estate planning in their vault. But, does anyone have a clue who your attorney is? If no one knows where your will is, then for all intents and purposes you do not have one; other than the one the state is going to do for you. I would be surprised if you like how the state distributes your assets.

Some financial persons advise putting together a two page or so letter along with a list as a hand-out for at least your immediate family and then review and discuss it with them. The letter will outline how the estate plan works and where your necessary documents are located. At the end of the day, your survivors will be more grateful than you know.

Credit given to Glen Ruffenach of the Wall Street Journal for some ideas, concepts and excerpts. (Monday, February 5, 2018)

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We may be reached in Dayton at 937-436-3133 and in Xenia at 937-372-3504. Or visit our website.

This week’s author – Mark Bradstreet, CPA

–until next week.

Tax Tip of the Week | No. 459 | The New Tax Law and Your Charitable Deductions May 9, 2018

Posted by bradstreetblogger in : Deductions, General, tax changes, Tax Planning Tips, Tax Tip, Taxes, Uncategorized , add a comment

Tax Tip of the Week | May 9, 2018 | No. 459 | The New Tax Law and Your Charitable Deductions

Granted, for many people, the tax savings is not the number one driver for making charitable contributions, “but rather it’s your desire to impact the lives of others that motivates you to give.” However, having said that, it is always nice for Uncle Sam to give you an even bigger bang for the buck by granting you a tax deduction for your contributions. The resulting tax savings, effectively, helps you fund the contribution.

Much press has been devoted to the new tax law and its impact on your itemized tax deductions. Your charitable contributions are but one of your itemized deductions. And, to be able to “itemize”, you must exceed the standard deduction. Which is all well and fine but the new law increased the amount of the standard deduction. As a result, fewer people will be itemizing since the standard deduction will result in a greater benefit. If you use the standard deduction you will not receive any tax benefit for your charitable contributions. Currently about 30% of the United States itemizes when filing their taxes. Only about half of those will continue to itemize under the new tax law.

The Dayton Foundation, along with other organizations, has what is known as a Donor-Advised Fund or Charitable Checking Account (CCA). The idea behind these are to create the ability to “bundle your charitable giving by making large gifts into your fund or account in one year then dispersing grants to charity over a multi- year period. This allows you to take advantage of the charitable deduction in the year you itemize while taking the standard deductions in other years when you may not meet the threshold.” Please note that the “bundling” technique is not necessary if you have enough to itemize.

Other new changes include “an increase on the limitation of cash gifts to a charity from 50% of adjusted gross income to 60% as well as a doubling of the estate tax threshold.  One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the IRA Charitable Rollover provision. Donors ages 70-1/2 or older should consider this tax-wise option first when making a charitable gift. These individuals can donate up to $100,000 annually from their IRA to any 501(c)(3) charitable organization without treating the distribution as taxable income.” In my opinion, this IRA Charitable Rollover provision is one of the more under-utilized provisions in the tax law.

Many other charitable and estate planning opportunities other than the ones above exist. Be sure to work hand in hand with your financial planner and your CPA to optimize the tax savings for yourself and to maximize the dollars that flow to the charitable organizations that you support.

Credit to Joseph Baldasare, MS, CFRE, Chief Development Officer of the Dayton Foundation for some ideas, concepts and excerpts from his article, How the New Tax legislation Could Affect your Charitable Deductions.

Thank you for all of your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics. As always, they are much appreciated. We may be reached in Dayton at 937-436-3133 and in Xenia at 937-372-3504. Or visit our website.

This week’s author – Mark Bradstreet, CPA

–until next week.