• Excited About the Social Security Benefits Increase for 2017?

    30 December 2016
    220 Views
    Comments are off for this post
    ss

    This Sunday begins what we’ve all been waiting for – 2017. In the New Year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that Social Security benefits will be revised for a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase of 0.3%. At the beginning of 2016, there was only a 0% increase. But, don’t get too excited too quickly, as the typical adult receiving benefits will see only a $4.00 increase in his/her monthly check.

    At the same time, the SSA bumped the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax to $127,200, up from the current $118,500, an increase of 7.34%. Only about 12 million individuals will be affected by that increase since most American wage earners make less than the $127,200 maximum, and thus the increase will be borne by the 12 million higher-income taxpayers.

    The COLA is supposed to ensure that people receiving Social Security benefits continue to have the same purchasing power from one year to the next without regard to inflation. Older adults in particular need this inflation protection since their savings and other income tends to fall as they age, including their pensions, and their dependence on Social Security increases. The meager increase is due in part to the fact that the SSA uses a different consumer price index (CPI), which is much lower than the CPI used to adjust tax rates. It’s clear that the SSA’s CPI is not delivering adequate inflation protection to older adults.

    This is overshadowed by the fact that the Medicare Trustees in their June report cautioned that there could be a substantial increase in the Medicare Part B Premium for those currently paying $121.80 a month. These folks, whose premiums went up by over 16% for 2016, could see another increase that would bring their monthly premium to as much as $149, an increase of over 20% for 2017.

    If you are helping an elderly relative with their money situation, there also may be an opportunity for some tax benefits. Please call Dagley & Co. for some assistance as soon as possible.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Image via public domain

    Continue Reading
  • Congress Gives Small Employer HRAs the Green Light

    28 December 2016
    240 Views
    Comments are off for this post
    dag-cal

    2017 green light alert! Congress has approved the 21st Century Cures Act, a provision allowing small employers to reimburse their employees for medical expenses under a health reimbursement arrangement (without being liable for the draconian, $100 per day penalty for violating the Affordable Care Act’s rules).

    Background: Stand-alone HRAs do not meet two key requirements of the ACA, as they:

    • Limit the dollar amount of the insured person’s annual benefits and
    • Fail to provide certain preventive-care services without requiring cost-sharing.

    As a result, under the IRS’ interpretation of the ACA, employers are subject to a $100 per day (maximum $36,500 per year) excise tax penalty per employee.

    New Law: Effective January 1, 2017, under the 21st Century Cures Act, qualified small employers that have an average of fewer than 50 full-time employees (including full-time-equivalent employees) and that maintain a qualified small-employer HRA will be exempt from the penalty. Under this act, a qualified small employer is one that:

    • Employs an average of fewer than 50 full-time employees (including full-time-equivalent employees) and does not offer a group health plan to its employees. The number of full-time-equivalent employees is determined by adding up all the hours that part-time employees worked in a given month and dividing by 120.
    • Provides the HRA on the same terms to all eligible employees. Eligible employees all those except:
      1. Those who have not completed 90 days of service,
      2. Those who have not attained the age of 25,
      3. Part-time workers (generally those working an average of less than 30 hours per week),
      4. Seasonal workers (generally those employed for 6 months or fewer during the year),
      5. Those covered by a collective bargaining unit, and
      6. Certain nonresident aliens.
    • Entirely funds the HRA (i.e., no salary-reduction contribution is made to the HRA).
    • Only reimburses the employees after being provided with proof of their medical expenses.
    • Limits reimbursements to $4,950 ($10,000 where the plan includes family members) per year. Amounts are subject to inflation adjustments for years after 2016.

    Any medical-expense reimbursements that an employee receives from a qualifying HRA are excluded from that employee’s income.

    If you have questions regarding this new topic effective January 1, 2017, please give Dagley & Co. a call at 202-417-6640.

     

     

     

     

    Image via public domain

    Continue Reading
  • Only Nine Days Left for 2016 Tax Deductions

    22 December 2016
    220 Views
    Comments are off for this post
    tax

    Your last day you may make a tax-deductible purchase, pay a tax-deductible expense or make tax-deductible charitable contributions for 2016 is this Saturday, Dec. 31.

    That still gives you time to make charitable contributions, pay deductible taxes, and make business acquisitions before year-end. However, making a last-minute purchase of business equipment isn’t enough to be able to deduct the cost of the equipment – you also must place that equipment into service before year’s end. This means you can’t take a deduction on your 2016 return if you take delivery of the equipment after the end of the year, even if you paid for the item in 2016.

    A charitable contribution to a qualified organization is considered made at the time of its unconditional delivery, which, for donations made by check, is the date you mail it. Contributions you make by text message are deductible in the year you send the text message if the contribution is charged to your telephone or wireless account. If you use a pay-by-phone account, the date the financial institution pays the amount is considered the date you made the contribution.

    If you pay your taxes by check and your financial institution honors the check, the day you mail or deliver the check is the date of payment. If you use a pay-by-phone account (such as electronic funds withdrawal), the date reported on the statement of the financial institution showing when payment was made is the date of the tax payment.

    Purchases, tax payments or contributions charged to your credit card are deemed purchased when the charge is made, regardless of when you pay the credit card company.

    Wishing you a happy holidays and a happy New Year. At Dagley & Co., we are looking forward to assisting you with your tax preparation needs during the coming tax season.

    As always, give us a call at (202) 417-6640 with any questions.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Image via public domain

    Continue Reading
  • W-2 and 1099-MISC Filing Dates Moved Up

    19 December 2016
    216 Views
    Comments are off for this post
    dagley-w-2

    Dagley & Co. is here to give you up-to-date tax and tax requirement details and due dates. Please read the following regarding a delay in a tax return due date:

    The IRS, in an effort to combat rampant tax filing fraud, has introduced what they hope will be two new fraud-prevention measures for the upcoming filing season. The first will purposely delay until February 15 the issuance of refunds for tax returns where there is an earned income tax credit (EITC) and/or a refundable child tax credit (CTC), giving the IRS more time to match the income reported on these returns to the income reported by employers. These two tax credits have been the favorite target of scammers who have been filing fraudulent returns with stolen IDs and fabricated income before the IRS is able to verify the income and withholding claimed on the returns.

    The second preventive measure is to require earlier filing of W-2 and 1099-MISC forms, which will enable the IRS to ferret out returns that report phony income and withholding. This measure will have a significant impact on employers by moving up the filing due date of the government’s copy of 2016 W-2s and 1099-MISCs to January 31, 2017 (the previous due date was February 28, or March 31 if filed electronically). January 31 has been and continues to be the date the forms are required to be provided to the employees (W-2s) or independent contractors (1099-MISCs).

    The 30-day automatic extension to file W-2s is no longer automatic. The IRS anticipates that it will grant the non-automatic extension of time to file only in limited cases where the filer or transmitter’s explanation demonstrates that an extension of time to file is needed as a result of extraordinary circumstances.

    With regard to the government’s copy of 1099-MISC forms, the earlier filing due date only applies to those 1099-MISC forms reporting non-employee compensation.

    If you have questions related to W-2 or 1099-MISC requirements, please give Dagley & Co. a call at (202) 417-6640.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Image via public domain

    Continue Reading
  • Have a Worthless Stock You Want to Write Off for 2016? Take Action ASAP

    15 December 2016
    208 Views
    Comments are off for this post
    dag-stock

    Like most people realize, taking ownership of a stock comes with its ups and downs. Occasionally, you might pick one that unfortunately declines in value. There’s nothing really we can do about this. Sometimes even, when the issuing company goes out of business, a security can become worthless.  Dagley & Co. advises you to take notice of all stock shares you own before the end of the year.

    Gains and losses for securities are not recognized for tax purposes until the securities are sold or become worthless. If the security is sold for a loss, the date of loss is easily determined since it is the sale date. However, for worthless stocks, it is not that easy to determine the date of loss, and taxpayers cannot just pick the year they want to take the loss.

    The IRS says a stock is worthless when a taxpayer can show that the security had value at the end of the year preceding the deduction year and that an identifiable event caused a loss in the deduction year. Just because an issuing company has filed bankruptcy does not necessarily mean its stock is worthless in that year. The company could be in reorganization, or the stocks might not be worthless until a later year.

    Whatever you do, don’t wait until it’s too late to take your loss. If the IRS challenges the loss and the security is found to have become worthless in an earlier year, the current year’s loss will be denied. Your only recourse at that point is to amend your prior year’s returns to claim your loss, provided the three-year statute of limitation has not expired. If the loss is claimed too early, the IRS will also deny it (making you wait until a subsequent year when the stock actually becomes worthless).

    Talk to your broker before the end of the year if you have holdings that have lost all, or nearly all, of their value and you want to be able to claim your investment in them as a loss on your 2016 return. Most brokerage firms will purchase worthless stock for a nominal amount (one cent) just to provide closure for their clients. This is probably the best solution for tax purposes. The sale will appear on Form 1099-B issued by the broker, and then you won’t have to debate with the IRS over when the stock became worthless.

    As a reminder, losses from sales of capital assets such as stock are first used to offset any capital gains on the return for the year of the sale. If the amount of the gain isn’t enough to absorb all of the losses, up to $3,000 ($1,500 if married filing separate) can be used to offset other types of income. If there is still capital loss remaining, it is carried forward to the next tax year and, if necessary, to future years, until it is used up.

    If you have questions related to the tax treatment of stock sales, please contact Dagley & Co. at (202) 417-6640.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Image via public domain

     

    Continue Reading
  • Dodging Tax Penalties

    13 December 2016
    235 Views
    Comments are off for this post
    dodge-tax

    After the holiday season, the tax season quickly approaches. During this time, many taxpayers realize they were penalized with a tax penalty from that year. With this, often times it’s the case that the taxpayer is not aware of the impact that these penalties can have on their wallet.  To help educate, Dagley & Co. has created a list of the most common encountered penalties and how to avoid them:

    Underpayment of Estimated Taxes and Withholding – Taxpayers are required to pay their tax liability as they go during the year, either through withholding or by making estimated tax payments. If the taxpayer owes more than $1,000 when filing his or her return for the year, the IRS will assess the underpayment of estimated tax penalty, which is currently 4% of the underpayment computed quarterly. There are “safe harbor” payments that can protect you from this penalty, which include payments in the following amounts: 90% of the current year’s tax liability or 100% (110% for high-income taxpayers) of the prior year’s tax liability. Farmers and fishermen need only prepay 66-2/3% of the current liability or 100% of the prior year’s liability.

    Late Paying Penalty – When the tax owed on a return is paid after the un-extended due date of the tax return (usually April 15), the taxpayer is subject to a penalty of 1/2% per month (maximum 25%) on the unpaid balance. Taxpayers are frequently caught by this penalty when they need an extension to file their tax return. Many fail to realize that the extension does not include an extension to pay. The only way to avoid or minimize this penalty is to have no or little balance due on the return when it is finally filed. The extension form includes a provision to pay the projected balance owed when filing the extension.

    Late Filing Penalty – If the return is filed after the due date, including extensions, a late filing penalty of 4.5% per month (maximum 22.5%) applies. The automatic extended due date for 2016 returns is October 18, 2017, but an extension request form must be filed by the April 2017 due date to qualify. Thus, the penalty would generally apply to 2016 returns filed after October 18, 2017. If the return is over 60 days late, the minimum penalty for failure to file is the lesser of $205 or 100% of the tax shown on the return. While the obvious way to avoid a late filing penalty is to file in a timely fashion, the IRS will consider abating the penalty if it can be proven that there was reasonable cause and no willful neglect for filing late.

    Negligence – When underpayment is due to negligence on the part of the taxpayer or when there are errors in tax valuations, 20% of the tax underpayment is charged. This penalty is frequently encountered when the IRS adjusts a filed return due to unreported income or overstated deductions. To reduce the chance that you may be subject to this penalty, be sure you provide all of your W-2s, 1099s, K-1s, etc. for the preparation of your return, complete any organizer that have been requested and ensure that you can substantiate all of the deductions you claim.

    Dishonored Check – The penalty for dishonored checks is 2% of the check amount, but if the amount is $1,250 or less, the penalty is the amount of the check or $25, whichever is less. If you don’t have sufficient funds to pay your tax when you file your return, rather than writing a check that you know will bounce, you may be able to arrange an installment payment plan with the IRS. You may still incur late payment charges, but the penalty rate is lower if you are on a payment plan.

    Missing ID Number – This penalty of $50 for each missing number is charged when a taxpayer doesn’t provide a required Social Security number (SSN) for him or herself, a dependent or another person on his or her tax return or doesn’t. It is also charged when the taxpayer doesn’t provide his or her SSN to another person or entity when required.

    Please note: There are more severe penalties (not mentioned) that apply to fraudulent actions/claims.  If you ever have questions related to these penalties, please give Dagley & Co. a call at  (202) 417-6640.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Image via public domain

    Continue Reading
  • Thinking of Becoming a Real Estate Flipper?

    9 December 2016
    185 Views
    Comments are off for this post
    dag

    Real estate flipping appears to currently be on the rise. With mortgage interest rates low and home prices making a comeback, it has made it a lot easier for people to succeed. If you are unaware, house flipping is purchasing a house or property, improving it and then selling it for a presumed profit. There are many keys to success in house flipping. First, you must find a suitable fixer-upper that is priced under market for its location. Then, you must fix it up and resell it for more than it cost to buy, hold, fix up and resell.

    If you are currently contemplating house flipping, you must keep in mind that to expect a decent amount of taxes deducted out of your share. These taxes play a significant role in the overall transaction, and tax treatment can be quite different depending upon whether you are a dealer, an investor or a homeowner. Dagley & Co. has come up with the following for specifics on your tax treatment:

    • Dealer in Real Estate – Gains received by a non-corporate taxpayer from business operations as a real estate dealer are taxed as ordinary income (10% to 39.6%), and in addition, individual sole proprietors are subject to the self-employment tax of 15.3% of their net profit (the equivalent of the FICA taxes for a self-employed person). Higher-income sole proprietors are also subject to an additional 0.9% Medicare surtax on their earnings. Thus, a dealer will generally pay significantly more tax on the profit than an investor. On the other hand, if the flip results in a loss, the dealer would be able to deduct the entire loss in the year of sale, which would generally reduce his or her tax at the same rates.
    • Investor – Gains as an investor are subject to capital gains rates (maximum of 20%) if the property is held for more than a year (long term). If held short term (less than a year, as will likely be the case for most flippers), ordinary income rates (10% to 39.6%) will apply. An investor is not subject to the self-employment tax, but could be subject to the 3.8% surtax on net investment income for higher-income taxpayers. A downside for the investor who has a loss from the transaction is that, after combining all long- and short-term capital gains and losses for the year, his or her deductible loss is limited to $3,000, with any excess capital loss being carried over to the next year. The rules get a bit more complicated if the investor rents out the property while trying to sell it, but such rules are beyond the scope of this article.
    • Homeowner – If the individual occupies the property as the primary residence while it is being fixed up, he or she would be treated as an investor, with three major differences: (1) if the individual has owned and occupied the property for two years and has not used a homeowner gain exclusion in the two years prior to closing the sale, he or she can exclude gain of up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a married couple); (2) if the transaction results in a loss, the homeowner will not be able to deduct the loss or even use it to offset gains from other sales; and (3) some fix-up costs may be deemed to be repairs rather than improvements, and repairs on one’s primary residence are neither deductible nor includible as part of the cost basis of the home.

    Being a homeowner is easily identifiable, but the distinction between a dealer and an investor is not clearly defined in the tax code. A real estate dealer is a person who buys and sells real estate property with a view to the trading profits to be derived and whose operations are so extensive as to constitute a separate business. A person acquiring property strictly for investment, though disposing of investment assets at intermittent intervals, generally does not deal in real estate on a regular basis.

    This issue has been debated in the tax courts frequently, and both the IRS and the courts have taken the following into consideration:

    • whether the individual is already a dealer in real estate, such as a real estate sales person or broker;
    • the number and frequency of sales (flips);
    • whether the individual is more committed to another profession as opposed to fixing up and selling real estate; and
    • how much personal time is spent making improvements to the “flips” as opposed to another profession or employment.

    The distinction between a dealer and an investor is truly based on the facts and circumstances of each case. Clearly, an individual who is not already in the real estate profession and flips one house is not a dealer. But one who flips five or more houses and/or properties and has substantial profits would probably be considered a dealer. Everything in between becomes various shades of grey, and the facts and circumstances of each case must be considered.

    If you have additional questions about flipping real estate, or need assistance with your specific situation, please give Dagley & Co. a call.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Image via public domain

     

    Continue Reading
  • Tax Benefits for Single Parents

    7 December 2016
    220 Views
    Comments are off for this post
    single-mother

    Are you a single parent? If so, we all know that working and raising a family can become extremley difficult on your own. For your benefit, Dagley & Co. has found a number of tax benefits/issues that you should be aware of. Please carefully read and understand the following:

    Filing Status – Just because you are single or widowed does not mean you have to file your tax returns using the single filing status. Tax law provides two far more beneficial filing statuses that you might qualify for. These statuses provide higher standard deductions and more beneficial tax rates:

    Head of Household – If you are unmarried and pay more than half the cost of maintaining a household that is the principal place of abode for your qualified child or children for more than one-half of the year, then you qualify for the head of household status. Qualified children generally include your children, grandchildren, foster children or stepchildren under the age of 19 or a full-time student under the age of 24 who is not self-supporting.  This is true even if you allow the other parent to deduct the dependency exemption for the child.

    Qualified Widow – If you are widowed, you may qualify for the head of household status discussed just above.  However, if your spouse passed away in one of the two prior years, you have a child or stepchild (not including a foster child or grandchild) whom you can claim as a dependent and who lived with you the whole year, and you paid more than half the cost of keeping up the home, you can use the higher standard deduction for married individuals filing jointly. In comparison, in 2016, the standard deduction for marrieds filing jointly is $12,600, which is twice the amount for a single individual.

    Child Support – Any child support you receive from the non-custodial parent is tax-free to you. Child support is also not included in household income for the purposes of determining the premium tax credit if you are otherwise qualified and obtain your health insurance through a government marketplace.

    Alimony – In most cases alimony payments received from your former spouse must be included in your income and are subject to tax. However, you can treat the alimony as earned income for purposes of making an IRA contribution of as much as $5,500 ($6,500 for those age 50 and over).

    Exemptions – You are entitled to an exemption allowance of $4,050 for yourself and each of your children and others whom you claim as dependents on your tax return. Generally, the custodial parent will be the one eligible to claim a child’s exemption allowance. The value of the exemptions you claim is subtracted from your gross income when you are figuring out the amount of your taxable income. For example, if you are in the 25% tax bracket, each exemption allowance you deduct saves you $1,013 of tax. However, if you allow the non-custodial parent to claim the exemption of a qualified child, then you forego the $4,050 exemption allowance for that child.

    Releasing the exemption of a child to the noncustodial parent must be done in writing and to IRS’s specifications as to required information. The noncustodial parent must then attach the written form to his or her return. The release can be for one year, for specified years or for all future years. If the exemption for the child is released, then the noncustodial parent will be able to claim the child tax credit (discussed below). Note: If a child is older and attending college, keep in mind when relinquishing the child’s exemption that the partially refundable tuition credit goes to the one who claims the child.

    Child Care Credit – If your child or children are under age 13, and you are working or attending school, you may qualify for the non-refundable child and dependent care credit, which is based upon the amount of your earnings from working (or imputed income if attending school) and the amount of child care expenses, up to $3,000 for one child and $6,000 for two or more children. The credit can be as much as $1,050 for one child and $2,100 for two.

    Child Tax Credit – You are also entitled to a non-refundable tax credit of $1,000 for each child under the age of 17 that you claim as a dependent. However, this credit begins to phase out for those filing as head of household with incomes in excess of $75,000. Some taxpayers with lower income may qualify for some portion of this credit to be refundable.

    Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – If you are working, you may also qualify for the EITC. This refundable credit is available to lower-income taxpayers and is based on your income and the number of children you have, up to three. The maximum credits for 2016 are $506 with no children, $3,373 with one, $5,572 with two, and $6,269 with three or more. The credit is totally phased out at incomes of $14,880 with no children, $39,296 with one, $44,648 with two, and $47,955 with three or more.

    As you can see, there are a number of tax benefits that apply to single parents. As always, please contact Dagley & Co. with any questions or issues. If you are a custodial parent, before releasing your child’s exemption to the noncustodial parent, you may wish to contact Dagley & Co. so the tax impact on your return(s) can be determined.

     

     

     

     

    Image via public domain

    Continue Reading
  • December 2016 Business Due Dates

    5 December 2016
    232 Views
    Comments are off for this post
    cal

    …And just like that it’s the first week of December! Year-end is quickly approaching, and so is the busy holiday season. Dagley & Co. has complied and easy-to-understand list of business due dates for you and your company. We reccomend adding them to you calendars ASAP. Contat us with any questions!

    December 1 – Employers

    During December, ask employees whose withholding allowances will be different in 2017 to fill out a new Form W4 or Form W4(SP).

    December 15 – Social Security, Medicare and Withheld Income Tax

    If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in November.

    December 15 – Non-Payroll Withholding

    If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in November.

    December 15 – Corporations

    The fourth installment of estimated tax for 2016 calendar year corporations is due.

    December 31 – Last Day to Set Up a Keogh Account for 2016

    If you are self-employed, December 31 is the last day to set up a Keogh Retirement Account if you plan to make a 2016 Contribution. If the institution where you plan to set up the account will not be open for business on the 31st, you will need to establish the plan before the 31st. Note: there are other options such as SEP plans that can be set up after the close of the year. Please call the office to discuss your options.

    December 31 – Caution! Last Day of the Year

    If the actions you wish to take cannot be completed on the 31st or a single day, you should consider taking action earlier than December 31st.

     

     

     

     

     

    Image via public domain
    Continue Reading
  • December 2016 Individual Due Dates

    1 December 2016
    248 Views
    Comments are off for this post
    dec-dagley

    Happy Decemeber! The busiest and most wonderful time of year has finally begun. With this, means your end of year planning must start ASAP. Before you get overwhelmed, plan out your Decemeber month calander TODAY. We’ve provided some indiviudal dute dates to make it a smoother process. As always, contact Dagley & Co. with any year-end questions regarding tax, business, or individual planning.

    December 1 – Time for Year-End Tax Planning

    December is the month to take final actions that can affect your tax result for 2016. Taxpayers with substantial increases or decreases in income, changes in marital status or dependent status, and those who sold property during 2016 should call for a tax planning consultation appointment.

    December 12 – Report Tips to Employer

    If you are an employee who works for tips and received more than $20 in tips during November, you are required to report them to your employer on IRS Form 4070 no later than December 12. Your employer is required to withhold FICA taxes and income tax withholding for these tips from your regular wages. If your regular wages are insufficient to cover the FICA and tax withholding, the employer will report the amount of the uncollected withholding in box 12 of your W-2 for the year. You will be required to pay the uncollected withholding when your return for the year is filed.

    December 31 – Last Day to Make Mandatory IRA Withdrawals

    Last day to withdraw funds from a Traditional IRA Account and avoid a penalty if you turned age 70½ before 2016. If the institution holding your IRA will not be open on December 31, you will need to arrange for withdrawal before that date.

    December 31 – Last Day to Pay Deductible Expenses for 2016

    Last day to pay deductible expenses for the 2016 return (doesn’t apply to IRA, SEP or Keogh contributions, all of which can be made after December 31, 2016). Taxpayers who are making state estimated payments may find it advantageous to prepay the January state estimated tax payment in December (Please call the office for more information).

    December 31 –  Last Day of the Year

    If the actions you wish to take cannot be completed on the 31st or a single day, you should consider taking action earlier than December 31st.

     

     

     

     

    Image via public domain

    Continue Reading