• April 2017 Business Due Dates

    3 April 2017
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    April is a busy month for business owners, accountants, accounting departments, CFOs and more. As Tax Day is quickly approaching, plan out your month in advance with these business due dates:

    April 18 – Household Employer Return Due

    If you paid cash wages of $2,000 or more in 2016 to a household employee, you must file Schedule H. If you are required to file a federal income tax return (Form 1040), file Schedule H with the return and report any household employment taxes. Report any federal unemployment (FUTA) tax on Schedule H if you paid total cash wages of $1,000 or more in any calendar quarter of 2015 or 2016 to household employees. Also, report any income tax that was withheld for your household employees. For more information, please call this office.

    April 18 – Corporations

    File a 2016 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120 or 1120-A) and pay any tax due. If you need an automatic 5-month extension of time to file the return, file Form 7004, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File Certain Business Income Tax, Information and Other Returns, and deposit what you estimate you owe. Filing this extension protects you from late filing penalties but not late payment penalties, so it is important that you estimate your liability and deposit it using the instructions on Form 7004.

    April 18 – Social Security, Medicare and Withheld Income Tax

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

    April 18 – Corporations

    The first installment of 2017 estimated tax of a calendar year corporation is due.

    April 18 – Partnerships

    Last day file 2016 calendar year fiduciary return or file an extension.
    Contact Dagley & Co. with any questions, or if you’d like to schedule your last-minute tax refund meeting.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • April 2017 Individual Due Dates

    31 March 2017
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    April is an important month for many as tax season comes to a close. If you have not filed your tax returns, please reach out to Dagley & Co. and we can set up a one-on-one appointment before Tax Day on April 18th. Here are all your important individual due dates for the month of April:

    April 1 – Last Day to Withdraw Required Minimum Distribution

    Last day to withdraw 2016’s required minimum distribution from Traditional or SEP IRAs for taxpayers who turned 70½ in 2016. Failing to make a timely withdrawal may result in a penalty equal to 50% of the amount that should have been withdrawn. Taxpayers who became 70½ before 2016 were required to make their 2016 IRA withdrawal by December 31, 2016.

    April 10 –  Report Tips to Employer

    If you are an employee who works for tips and received more than $20 in tips during March, you are required to report them to your employer on IRS Form 4070 no later than April 10. 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.

    April 15 – Taxpayers with Foreign Financial Interests

    A U.S. citizen or resident, or a person doing business in the United States, who has a financial interest in or signature or other authority over any foreign financial accounts (bank, securities or other types of financial accounts), in a foreign country, is required to file Form FinCEN 114. The form must be filed electronically; paper forms are not allowed. The form must be filed with the Treasury Department (not the IRS) no later than April 15, 2017 for 2016. An extension of time to file of up to 6 months may be requested This filing requirement applies only if the aggregate value of these financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during 2016. Contact our office for additional information and assistance filing the form or requesting an extension.

    April 18 –  Individual Tax Returns Due

    File a 2016 income tax return (Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ) and pay any tax due. If you want an automatic six-month extension of time to file the return, please call this office.

    Caution: The extension gives you until October 16, 2017 to file your 2016 1040 return without being liable for the late filing penalty. However, it does not avoid the late payment penalty; thus, if you owe money, the late payment penalty can be severe, so you are encouraged to file as soon as possible to minimize that penalty. Also, you will owe interest, figured from the original due date until the tax is paid. If you have a refund, there is no penalty; however, you are giving the government a free loan, since they will only pay interest starting 45 days after the return is filed. Please call this office to discuss your individual situation if you are unable to file by the April 18 due date.

    Note: the normal April 15 due date is a Saturday, and the following Monday is a federal holiday in the District of Columbia, so for almost all individuals their 2016 Form 1040 returns aren’t due until the next business day, which is Tuesday, April 18.

    April 18 – Household Employer Return Due

    If you paid cash wages of $2,000 or more in 2016 to a household employee, you must file Schedule H. If you are required to file a federal income tax return (Form 1040), file Schedule H with the return and report any household employment taxes. Report any federal unemployment (FUTA) tax on Schedule H if you paid total cash wages of $1,000 or more in any calendar quarter of 2015 or 2016 to household employees. Also, report any income tax that was withheld for your household employees. For more information, please call this office.

    April 18 – Estimated Tax Payment Due (Individuals)

    It’s time to make your first quarter estimated tax installment payment for the 2017 tax year. Our tax system is a “pay-as-you-go” system. To facilitate that concept, the government has provided several means of assisting taxpayers in meeting the “pay-as-you-go” requirement. These include:

    • Payroll withholding for employees;
    • Pension withholding for retirees; and
    • Estimated tax payments for self-employed individuals and those with other sources of income not covered by withholding.

    When a taxpayer fails to prepay a safe harbor (minimum) amount, they can be subject to the underpayment penalty. This penalty is equal to the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points, and the penalty is computed on a quarter-by-quarter basis.

    Federal tax law does provide ways to avoid the underpayment penalty. If the underpayment is less than $1,000 (the “de minimis amount”), no penalty is assessed. In addition, the law provides “safe harbor” prepayments. There are two safe harbors:

    • The first safe harbor is based on the tax owed in the current year. If your payments equal or exceed 90% of what is owed in the current year, you can escape a penalty.
    • The second safe harbor is based on the tax owed in the immediately preceding tax year. This safe harbor is generally 100% of the prior year’s tax liability. However, for taxpayers whose AGI exceeds $150,000 ($75,000 for married taxpayers filing separately), the prior year’s safe harbor is 110%.

    Example: Suppose your tax for the year is $10,000 and your prepayments total $5,600. The result is that you owe an additional $4,400 on your tax return. To find out if you owe a penalty, see if you meet the first safe harbor exception. Since 90% of $10,000 is $9,000, your prepayments fell short of the mark. You can’t avoid the penalty under this exception.

    However, in the above example, the safe harbor may still apply. Assume your prior year’s tax was $5,000. Since you prepaid $5,600, which is greater than 110% of the prior year’s tax (110% = $5,500), you qualify for this safe harbor and can escape the penalty.

    This example underscores the importance of making sure your prepayments are adequate, especially if you have a large increase in income. This is common when there is a large gain from the sale of stocks, sale of property, when large bonuses are paid, when a taxpayer retires, etc. Timely payment of each required estimated tax installment is also a requirement to meet the safe harbor exception to the penalty. If you have questions regarding your safe harbor estimates, please call this office as soon as possible.

    CAUTION: Some state de minimis amounts and safe harbor estimate rules are different than those for the Federal estimates. Please call this office for particular state safe harbor rules.

    April 18 – Last Day to Make Contributions

    Last day to make contributions to Traditional and Roth IRAs for tax year 2016.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Don’t Be Scammed By Fake Charities

    20 March 2017
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    Each year, the IRS publishes its list of the “dirty dozen” tax scams. This list is a variety of common scams that taxpayers may encounter anytime. Don’t fall prey!

    Urgent appeals for aid – whether in person, over the phone, by mail, via e-mail, on a website, or through a social networking site – may not be on the up-and-up. Fraudsters pop up after natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods to try to coax people into making donations that will go into the fraudsters’ pockets – not to help victims of the disaster.

    Unfortunately, legitimate charities face competition from fraudsters, so if you are thinking about giving to a charity with which you are not familiar, do your research so that you can avoid the swindlers who are trying to take advantage of your generosity. Here are tips to help make sure that your charitable contributions actually go to the cause that you support:

    • Donate to charities that you know and trust. Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events.
    • Ask if a caller is a paid fundraiser, who he/she works for, and what percentages of your donation go to the charity and to the fundraiser. If you don’t get clear answers – or if you don’t like the answers you get – consider donating to a different organization.
    • Don’t give out personal or financial information — such as your credit card or bank account number – unless you know for sure that the charity is reputable.
    • Never send cash. You can’t be sure that the organization will receive your donation, and you won’t have a record for tax purposes.
    • Never wire money to someone who claims to be from a charity. Scammers often request donations to be wired because wiring money is like sending cash: Once you send it, you can’t get it back.
    • If a donation request comes from a charity that claims to help a local community group (for example, police or firefighters), ask members of that group if they have heard of the charity and if it is actually providing financial support.
    • Check out the charity’s reputation using the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, or Charity Watch.

    Remember that, to deduct a charitable contribution on your tax return, the donation must be to a legitimate charity. Contributions may only be deducted if they are to religious, charitable, scientific, educational, literary, or other institutions that are incorporated or recognized as organizations by the IRS. Sometimes, these organizations are referred to as 501(c)(3) organizations (after the code section that allows them to be tax-exempt). Gifts to federal, state, or local government, qualifying veterans’ or fraternal organizations, and certain nonprofit cemetery companies also may be deductible. Gifts to other kinds of nonprofits, such as business leagues, social clubs, and homeowner’s associations, as well as gifts to individuals, cannot be deducted.

    To claim a cash contribution, you must be able to document that contribution with a bank record, receipt, or a written communication from the qualified organization; this record must include the name of the qualified organization, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution. Valid types of bank records include canceled checks, bank or credit union statements, and credit card statements. In addition, to deduct a contribution of $250 or more, you must have certain payroll deduction records or an acknowledgment of your contribution from the qualified organization.

    Be aware that, to claim a charitable contribution, you must also itemize your deductions. It may also be beneficial for you to group your deductions in a single year and then to skip deductions in the next year. Please contact Dagley & Co. if you have questions related to the tax benefits associated with charitable giving for your particular tax situation.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Taking Advantage of Back-Door Roth IRAs

    17 October 2016
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    Are you a high-income taxpayer? Would like to contribute to a Roth IRA but cannot because of income limitations? There is a work-around that will allow you to fund a Roth IRA.

    High-income taxpayers are limited in the annual amount they can contribute to a Roth IRA. In 2016, the allowable contribution phases out for joint-filing taxpayers with an AGI between $184,000 and $194,000 (or an AGI between $0 and $9,999 for married taxpayers filing separately). For unmarried taxpayers, the phase-out is between $117,000 and $132,000. Once the upper end of the range is reached, no contribution is allowed for the year.

    However, those AGI limitations can be circumvented by what is frequently referred to as a back-door Roth IRA. Here is how a back-door Roth IRA works:

    1. First, you contribute to a traditional IRA. For higher-income taxpayers who participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, a traditional IRA is allowed but is not deductible. Even if all or some portion is deductible, the contribution can be designated as not deductible.
    2. Then, since the law allows an individual to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA without any income limitations, you now convert the non-deductible Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. Since the Traditional IRA was non-deductible, the only tax related to the conversion would be on any appreciation in value of the Traditional IRA before the conversion is completed.

    Potential Pitfall – There is a potential pitfall to the back-door Roth IRA that is often overlooked by investment counselors and taxpayers alike that could result in an unexpected taxable event upon conversion. For distribution or conversion purposes, all of your IRAs (except Roth IRAs) are considered as one account and any distribution or converted amounts are deemed taken ratably from the deductible and non-deductible portions of the traditional IRA, and the portion that comes from the deductible contributions would be taxable.

    This may or not may affect your decision to use the back-door Roth IRA method but does need to be considered prior to making the conversion.

    There is a possible, although complicated, solution. Taxpayers are allowed to roll over or make a trustee-to-trustee transfer of IRA funds into employer qualified plans if the employer’s plan permits. If the rollover or transfer to the qualified plan is permitted, such rollovers or transfers are limited to the taxable portion of the IRA account, thus leaving behind the non-taxable contributions, which can then be converted to a Roth IRA without any taxability.

    Please call Dagley & Co. if you need assistance with your Roth IRA strategies or need assistance in planning traditional-to-Roth IRA conversions.

     

     

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  • January 2016 Tax Due Dates for Individuals

    6 January 2016
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    January

    It’s a new year, and a new month – and with it comes a fresh set of tax due dates and guidelines. Begin the new year on the right track and abide by these to have your best financial year ever.

    January – Time to Call Dagley & Co. for Your Tax Appointment

    January is the beginning of tax season. If you have not yet made an appointment with us to have your taxes prepared, we encourage you do so as soon as you can so we can best work with each other’s schedules.

    January 11 – Report Tips to Employer

    If you are an employee who works for tips and received more than $20 in tips during December, you are required to report them to your employer on IRS Form 4070 no later than January 11.

    January 15 – Individual Estimated Tax Payment Due

    This is the time to make your fourth quarter estimated tax installment payment for the 2015 tax year.

    January 15 – Farmers & Fishermen Estimated Tax Payment Due

    If you are a farmer or fisherman whose gross income for 2014 or 2015 is two-thirds from farming or fishing, it is time to pay your estimated tax for 2015 using Form 1040-ES. You have until April 18, 2016 to file your 2015 income tax return (Form 1040). If you do not pay your estimated tax by January 15, you must file your 2015 return and pay any tax due by March 1, 2016 to avoid an estimated tax penalty.

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  • How To Launch Your Startup in Eight Steps

    26 December 2015
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    These days, it seems like almost everyone has a startup – and if you have a great business idea, why not join in on the fun? Every year, thousands of entrepreneurs across the nation launch their own business. The internet marketplace makes sales easier than ever. If you’re ready to start your own business, here’s a step-by-step overview of what you need to do to make your vision become a reality.

    1. Start with an Idea and Brainstorm 

    Perhaps you’ve already have zeroed in on a product or service for your new upstart. While having an idea is a good start, it’s important to get your mental muscles turning and brainstorm that idea. Is there a demand for the product or service? Who is your target market? Are there additional related services or products that can be tied into the primary offering? Keep in mind that adjunct services and products are an effective way to increase your bottom line. Thinking about potential problems and having solutions in place will also help your launch run more smoothly. The key takeaway with brainstorming is that it’s a powerful tool which will get you to think critically about your idea.

    1. Draft a Business Plan

    A business plan is the road map of your new business. It defines and clarifies the direction of your business, products or services and a description of your customers. It’s also an effective way to plan for market changes and focuses on your future vision for company goals. When drafting your business plan, be sure to include facts, statistics and figures that support your idea. This will better help attract investors, partners, suppliers and executive level employees for your new venture. The typical business plan averages 15 to 20 pages and includes an overview of the plan, business description, development, competition analysis, management, market strategies and financial information. A business plan is required to secure funding at the start-up phase and your map to the future.

    1. Fund Your Business

    To turn your dream idea into a viable business, it’s going to take money. There’s no magic bullet here, so you’ll have to explore your resources and determine which one is most attractive. You can opt for a credit line of credit or a bank loan. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to have a solid credit history or existing assets to put up for collateral. Another option is to join a startup incubator. Organizations like Y Combinator not only provide free resources to startups, but seed funding. Some startups find funding from local angel-investor groups. Most metropolitan areas have groups of angel investors who are interested in supporting startups and willing to fund up to millions of dollars for qualified startups. Once of the newest ways to get funding to launch a business is to start a crowdfunding campaign online. Online sites like Kickstarter gives you the opportunity to have folks make pledges for a startup. Other ways to garner monies for your new company include getting a small business grant and asking strategic partners, friends or family members.

    1. Select an Accountant and Attorney 

    Both an accountant and attorney should be on your startup team. Entrepreneurs must keep endless amounts of records for tax and legal purposes. An accountant – such as one from Dagley & Co. – can provide you with a wide range of services through the early stages, including business entity selection, expense tracking, business licenses, financial planning, month-end accounting, tax preparation, an accounting system, W2s and 1099s. Outsourcing with our accounting firm lets you focus on your core business instead of non-core business. Accountants are also essential when it comes to raising funds, structuring deals and financial reporting. An attorney adds value to a startup in a variety of ways. Not only does an attorney assist with entity formation, they help you work with the government, third parties and other company founders. You don’t want to violate any laws, and an attorney will keep you on the right side of the law. They help you draft the proper legal documents to control risk with suppliers, protect intellectual property rights, employees and customers. Plus, they can assist multiple founders of a startup in drafting up agreements that outline the rights and duties of each.

    1. Apply for Tax ID and State Sales Tax Permit

    You’ll need to fill out a tax identification application to get your tax ID. This number identifies your business on all types of documents and registrations. As a matter of fact, most banks will require your tax ID before you can apply for a business loan or set up a business checking account. You can apply for a tax ID at the IRS website. Just print out a copy of the SS-4 form. And if you’re selling any services or products that are subject to sales tax in your state, you must collect that tax from your customers and pay it to the state. It’s important to note that if you have more than one location for your business, you must obtain and display a Sales and Use Tax Permit in each location.

    1. Obtain a Business License

    Your new business needs a business license in order to operate legally, even if you’re operating from home. You can find all the information to do this at the SBA website or your city’s business website. You’ll need to know your business code. Different codes require a specific application process, and each city has its own set of rules and requirements. Generally, you’ll have to provide your federal ID number, type of business, number of employees, business address, contact information and the name of the business owner.

    1. Know the Labor Laws 

    Workers compensation coverage is required for businesses with more than three employees. If you have more than three employees, you’ll need to attain workers compensation on a self-insured basis, through a commercial carrier or through the state Workers Compensation Insurance program. Employers are also required by federal and state laws to display posters in the workplace that inform employees of employer responsibilities and employee rights under labor laws. You can easily attain these posters free from state and federal labor agencies.

    1. Choose a Business Location

    Deciding where to set up shop is a critical business decision. The real estate mantra of “location, location, location” has merit for a successful business venture. You’ll want to ensure that the area has the human resources to meet staffing needs. For example, if your startup is focused on detailed work, you most likely wouldn’t want to choose a rural community for its location. Always investigate the available labor pool in your chosen area. Determine the demographic profile of your location. You’ll need to know who your customers are and their proximity to your location. This is important if you’re a retailer or in some type of service business. If you’re customer base is local, you need to ensure that there is a sufficient percentage of the population that needs your product or services to support your business. The community of the location should also have a stable economic base.

    Launching a new business takes a lot of planning and effort, but it can lead to a very rewarding lifestyle. Follow our steps and you’ll be in good shape to tackle the task. Contact us at Dagley & Co. so we may help you with every step of the process – and your business taxes!

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  • Which 1040 Form Is Right For You?

    17 December 2015
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    Benjamin Franklin once said, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” He managed to name two of the things that people loathe and fear the most. What makes taxes so unpleasant is the fact that you have to hand over some of your hard-earned money to the government, and the other is that it can be so difficult to figure out how to fill out the forms – and which one to use.

    QUICK LINK: Access the IRS,gov website with all of the 1040 forms and instructions here!

    The rule of thumb for choosing your personal income tax form is to try to go with the one that is easiest to understand, but that being said, you also need to be sure that it is the one that is correct. The government provides three forms – the 1040, the 1040A, and the 1040EZ – and all are meant to help you pay the amount that you owe. Each form has a different purpose, and choosing the wrong one can end up meaning that you either pay more than you owe or pay fines for not paying enough.

    The simplest form is the one known as the EZ, while the long Form 1040 is the most complicated. Though it may be tempting to go for the one that takes the least amount of time to complete, if you simply jump for the fastest way through your filing responsibilities, you may end up cheating yourself of the opportunity to take some of the tax breaks to which you’re entitled. That’s because the more detail the form asks for, the more chances there are for you to provide information that may entitle you to a write-off.

    The Affordable Care Act Might Preclude the Use of the EZ – Many people who were formerly able to file Form 1040EZ may find that they are no longer eligible to use this short form. This is because those who purchase health insurance through a state or federal exchange under the Affordable Care Act have the option to receive advance payment of the premium tax credit, which helps pay some of the costs of the insurance. In order to ensure that you receive the appropriate amount of credit, the taxpayer is required to submit all appropriate information on Form 8962, which cannot be filed with the 1040EZ – it can only be submitted with Form 1040 or 1040a. Though this means that taxpayers have to do a bit more paperwork, but it ensures that the proper amount of credit is taken and also provides the opportunity for the government to reimburse you if not enough of a credit is provided.

    How Using The EZ May Be A Mistake – In some cases, using the 1040EZ can end up costing you money. This is because the short form, which is often the one selected by taxpayers who believe that their uncomplicated finances make it the most appropriate for them, does not provide the opportunity to take advantage of tax breaks you may be entitled to. For example, a recent college graduate who was just hired by his first employer would naturally assume that his taxes are so simple that there’s no need to fuss with a longer form. But doing so eliminates the possibility of taking a write-off for any interest that he paid on a student loan. Similarly, if he was wise and started setting aside money into a traditional IRA upon learning that his new employer offered no retirement plan, then his contributions would be deductible – but the short form doesn’t even ask that question. He might end up in a lower tax bracket by using the long form and would be able to pay just fifteen percent on taxes rather than 25 percent, simply based on these two deductions. Another deduction that can be taken on a 1040 or 1040A but not on a 1040EZ is the Lifetime Learning tax credit for courses taken to improve job skills – and there are many more. Form 1040EZ has the advantage of being simple, but it can end up working against you if you want to get the greatest possible deduction.

    Reviewing the Three Tax Returns – It can be difficult to know which of the three tax returns is the right one for you and your particular situation. Here is some basic information on each one to provide you with a better sense of which you should choose.

    Form 1040EZ – This simplest of all of the IRS forms is open to people who meet the following criteria:

    • You are filing as either single or as married filing jointly
    • You are younger than 65. If you are filing a joint return with your spouse, then your spouse must also be younger than 65. If your 65th birthday (or your spouse’s 65th birthday) falls on January 1 of the tax year, then you are considered to have turned 65 in the previous year, and will become ineligible to use the form.
    • Neither you nor your spouse (if filing jointly) can have been legally blind during the tax year.
    • You cannot have dependents and use this form.
    • Your interest income must be less than $1,500.
    • Your income (or joint income if filing with your spouse) must be less than $100,000.

    Though the 1040 EZ does make things easier by being just one page long, it minimizes the amount of deductions that you are able to take. The 1040EZ limits taxpayers to taking just the earned income tax credit, and it may end up cheating you of deductions to which you are entitled. For that reason, it makes sense to consider the other forms that are available.

    Form 1040A – Form 1040A is available regardless of what the taxpayer’s filing status is. Those who file as single, married filing either separately or jointly, head of household, or qualifying widow or widower can all use this form. In addition to having this advantage, it also provides the opportunity to claim more than just the earned income tax credit. Taxpayers are also able to take advantage of tax credits for their children, education, dependent care, retirement savings credits, and elderly or disabled care. All of these deductions are available using the 1040A, but not the 1040EZ. Additional criteria for using the 1040A include:

    • You must have taxable income (or combined incomes) below $100,000.
    • You cannot itemize deductions.
    • You can have capital gain distributions but cannot have capital losses or gains.

    There are other adjustments allowed for those using Form 1040A. These are known as above-the-line deductions, and they reduce the total gross income counted against you for tax purposes. By using these adjustments, you are able to reduce your overall tax burden. These adjustments include some IRA contributions, educator expenses, college tuition and fees, and student loan interest.

    Form 1040 – For those who have higher incomes, need to itemize their deductions, or have investments and income that require a more complicated tax preparation, the appropriate form is the 1040. The 1040 generally requires additional documentation and forms, but using it is often the only way to get the additional savings that are due to the taxpayer. Some of these credits include deductions for taxes paid in a foreign country, deductions for the cost of adopting a child, and a number of above-the-line deductions that are not available with the other forms. The purpose of having these other adjustments available is to provide people with the greatest opportunity to reduce their gross income, thereby reducing the overall tax burden. People who use Form 1040 are able to take deductions for self-employment taxes that have been paid, moving taxes, alimony payments, and more. There is no need to use a form Schedule A, as the available deductions are already listed on the front page of the 1040 – however, certain forms or schedules may need to be completed and attached.

    Although any taxpayer can use the 1040, it is most generally used by taxpayers:

    • Who itemize their deductions,
    • Who are self-employed, or
    • Who have capital gain income from the sale of stocks or other assets.

    If you are still uncertain as to which form is most appropriate for you, IRS Publication 17 provides many answers and details, including special circumstances and specific examples.

    It is important to remember that just because a form was appropriate for you in the past, it may not be in the future, and there is no requirement that you use it again. It may be appropriate for you to consult with a professional tax preparer, like us at Dagley & Co., to ensure you receive all the tax breaks and benefits you are entitled to.

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  • Are You and Your Business at Risk for a Trust Fund Penalty?

    15 December 2015
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    check

    Don’t even think about keeping those withheld amounts for your company!

    Hold on, this article is not about silver spooned “trust fund babies,” but something entirely different. When an employer withholds Social Security and income taxes from an employee, those funds are the property of the government, and the employer must hold those funds in “trust” until the funds are turned over to the government. Failure to do so could lead to the so-called trust fund penalty, which is equal to 100% of the withholding from the employees’ wages. The penalty applies to any willful failure to collect, account for and pay over Social Security and income taxes required to be withheld from employee wages.

    A recent report issued by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has made recommendations to the IRS for timely assessing and collecting the responsible person penalty, and the IRS is adopting the recommendations. The government has always been very aggressive about collecting trust fund penalties and will pursue collecting the penalty from the “responsible person.” This is where you may be at risk.

    The IRS broadly defines a “responsible person” to include corporate officers, directors, and shareholders under a duty to collect and pay the tax as well as a partnership’s partners, or any employee of the business under such a duty.

    So if you are a person with the power to see that the taxes are paid, you may be responsible. Frequently more than one person is a responsible person, and each one is at risk for the entire penalty. Even though you may not be directly involved with the withholding process, if you discover that trust funds that are due to the government are instead being used to pay a business creditor, you become a “responsible person.” You always have to keep in mind that the trust fund money belongs to the government, and bowing to business pressures to pay bills or obtain supplies instead of transmitting the withheld taxes to the government will be viewed as willful (bad) behavior for purposes of the penalty.

    Unlike some other types of penalties, there are no acceptable excuses for failure to withhold the required payroll taxes or for borrowing withheld amounts to pay other expenses. Even if you have a payroll company collecting and paying over the withholding, and that firm should go belly up, or someone in that firm absconds with the trust finds, guess who is still responsible for paying the government? The responsible person at the business, of course!

    Don’t fall victim to the penalty by allowing a partner or corporate superior to persuade you not to withhold or timely pay over the trust funds to the government. If you are interested in discussing your potential risks and exposure to this penalty, please get in touch with us at Dagley & Co.

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  • December 2015 Tax Due Dates for Individuals

    8 December 2015
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    December

    Have a merry month – and not a stressful month – with these December tax deadline tips from Dagley & Co! Image via public domain.

    December  – Time for Year-End Tax Planning

    December is the month to take final actions to affect your 2015 taxes. Taxpayers with substantial increases or decreases in income, changes in marital status or dependent status, and those who sold property during 2015 should get in touch with us at Dagley & Company for a tax planning consultation appointment. In case you need more reasons, do read our special post from Black Friday about why we may be the perfect accounting firm for you!

    December 10 – 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 10. 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 2015. 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 2015

    Last day to pay deductible expenses for the 2015 return (doesn’t apply to IRA, SEP or Keogh contributions, all of which can be made after December 31, 2015). 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 – Where did the time go?! 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.

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  • Everything You Need To Know About Coverdell And 529 Education Savings Plans

    30 November 2015
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    When it comes to saving for your children’s education, the tax code provides two primary advantages. We frequently get questions about the differences between the programs and about which program is best suited for a family’s particular needs.

    The Coverdell Education Savings Account and the Qualified Tuition Plan (frequently referred to as a Sec 529 Plan) are similar; neither provides tax-deductible contributions, but both plans’ earnings are tax-free if used for allowable expenses, such as tuition. Therefore, with either plan, the greatest benefit is derived by making contributions to the plan as soon as possible—even the day after a child is born—so as to accumulate years of investment earnings and maximize the benefits. However, that is where the similarities end, and each plan has a different set of rules.

    Coverdell Savings Accounts only allow a total annual maximum contribution of $2,000. The contributions can be made by anyone, including the beneficiary, so long as the contributor’s adjusted gross income is not high enough to phase out the allowable contribution. (The phase-out threshold is $190,000 for married contributors filing jointly and $95,000 for others.) Unless the beneficiary of the account is a special needs student, the funds must be withdrawn prior to age 30. The funds can be used for kindergarten through post-secondary education. Allowable expenses generally include tuition; room, board, and travel expenses required to attend school; books; and other supplies. Tutoring for special needs students is also allowed. Funds can be rolled over from one beneficiary to another in the same family. Although the funds can be used starting in kindergarten, the chances are that not enough of earnings will have been accumulated by that time to provide any significant benefit.

    On the other hand, state-run Sec 529 plan benefits are limited to postsecondary education, but they allow significantly larger amounts to be contributed; multiple people can each contribute up to the gift tax limit each year. This limit is $14,000 for 2015, and it is periodically adjusted for inflation. A special rule allows contributors to make up to five years of contribution in advance (for a total of $70,000 in 2015).

    Sec. 529 Plans allow taxpayers to put away larger amounts of money, limited only by the contributor’s gift tax concerns and the contribution limits of the intended plan. There are no limits on the number of contributors, and there are no income or age limitations. The maximum amount that can be contributed per beneficiary is based on the projected cost of college education and will vary between the states’ plans. Some states base their maximum on an in-state four-year education, but others use the cost of the most expensive schools in the U.S., including graduate studies. Most have limits in excess of $200,000, with some topping $370,000. Generally, once an account reaches that level, additional contributions cannot be made, but that doesn’t prevent the account from continuing to grow.

    Which plan (or combination of plans) is best for your family depends on a number of issues, including education goals, the number and ages of your children, the finances of your family and of any grandparents or other relatives willing to help, and a number of other issues. For assistance in establishing education savings plans, please get in touch with us at Dagley & Co.

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