• Big Tax Break for Adoptive Parents

    18 May 2017
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    dag fam

    Planning to adopt a child or children? Or, are you already an adoptive parent? If so, we have good news for you! You may be able to qualify for an income-tax credit. This credit will be based on the amount of expenses you have incurred during the adoption period, which are directly related to the adoption of the following: 1. A child under the age of 18, or 2. a person who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care.

    This is a 1:1 credit for each dollar of qualified expenses up to a maximum for the year, which is $13,570 for 2017 (up from $13,460 in 2016). The credit is nonrefundable, which means it can only reduce tax liability to zero (as opposed to potentially resulting in a cash refund). But the good news is that any unused credit can be used for up to five years to reduce future tax liability.

    Qualified expenses generally include adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees and travel expenses that are reasonable, necessary and directly related to the adoption of the child, and may be for both domestic and foreign adoptions; however, expenses related to adopting a spouse’s child are not eligible for this credit. When adopting a child with special needs, the full credit is allowed whether or not any qualified expenses were incurred. A child with special needs is, among other requirements, a child who the state has determined (a) cannot or should not be returned to his or her parents’ home and (b) that the child won’t be adopted unless assistance is provided to the adoptive parents.

    The credit is phased out for higher-income taxpayers. For 2017, the AGI (computed without foreign-income exclusions) phase-out threshold is $203,540, and at the AGI of $243,540, the credit is completely phased out. Unlike most phase-outs, this one is the same regardless of filing status. However, the credit cannot be claimed by taxpayers using the filing status married filing separately.

    If your employer has an adoption-assistance program, up to $13,570 of reimbursements by the employer are excludable from income. Both the tax credit and the exclusion may be claimed, though not for the same expenses.

    If you think you qualify for this credit or are planning an adoption in the future, please contact Dagley & Co. for further credit details and to find out how this credit can apply to your particular circumstances.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Using Home Equity for Business Needs

    8 May 2017
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    Often times, small business owners find difficulties in obtaining financing for their businesses without putting their personal assets up as collateral. With this, tapping into your home equity is a tempting alternative but should be carefully considered.

    In general, interest on debt used to acquire and operate your business is deductible against that business. However, debt secured by your home may be nondeductible, only partially deductible or fully deductible against your business.

    Home mortgage interest is limited to the interest on $1 million of acquisition debt and $100,000 of equity debt secured by a taxpayer’s primary residence and designated second home. The interest on the debts within these limits can only be treated as home mortgage interest and must be deducted as part of your itemized deductions. Only the excess can be deducted for your business, provided that the use of the funds can be traced to your business use. This creates a number of problems:

    • Using the Standard Deduction – If you do not itemize your deductions, you will be unable to deduct the interest on the first $100,000 of the equity debt, which cannot be allocated to your business.
    • Subject to the AMT – Even if you do itemize your deductions, if you happen to be subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT), you still would not be able to deduct the first $100,000 of equity debt interest, since it is not allowed as a deduction for AMT purposes.
    • Subject to Self-Employment (SE) Tax – Your self-employment tax (Social Security and Medicare) is based on the net profits from your business. If the net profit is higher, because not all of the interest is deductible by the business, your SE tax may also be higher.

    Example: Suppose the mortgage you incurred to purchase your home (acquisition debt) has a current balance of $165,000 and your home is worth $400,000. You need $150,000 to acquire a new business. To obtain the needed cash at the best interest rates, you decide to refinance your home mortgage for $315,000. The interest on this new loan will be allocated as follows:

    New Loan:                                                  $ 315,000

    Part Representing Acquisition Debt                 <165,000>  52.38%

    Balance                                                      $ 150,000     

    First $100,000 Treated as Home Equity Debt    <100,000>  31.75%

    Balance Traced to Business Use                     $ 50,000      15.87%

    If the interest for the year on the refinanced debt was $10,000, then that interest would be deducted as follows:

    Itemized Deduction Regular Tax                     $ 8,413         84.13%

    Itemized Deduction Alternative Minimum Tax   $ 5,238         52.38%

    Business Expense                                        $ 1,587         15.87%        

    There is a special tax election that allows you to treat any specified home loan as not secured by the home. If you file this election, then interest on the loan can no longer be deducted as home mortgage interest, since tax law requires that qualified home mortgage debt be secured by the home. However, this election would allow the normal interest tracing rules to apply to that unsecured debt. This might be a smart move if the entire proceeds were used for business and all of the interest expense could be treated as a business expense. However, if the loan were a mixed-use loan and part of it actually represented home debt (such as a refinanced home loan), then the part that represented the home debt could not be allocated back to the home, and the interest on that portion of the debt would become nondeductible and would provide no tax benefit.

    As you can see, using equity from your home can create some complex tax situations. Please contact Dagley & Co. for assistance in determining the best solution for your particular tax situation.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Didn’t File in 2013? Last Chance to Get Your Refund

    13 March 2017
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    Have not yet filed your 2013 federal tax return? If not, you need to act quickly because your return must be filed by April 18, 2017. Otherwise, you forfeit your refund, and the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury.

    The IRS estimates that more than 1 million taxpayers have not filed their 2013 tax returns and that more than $1 billion of unclaimed refunds are available for those taxpayers. The IRS estimates that these taxpayers will have an average refund of $763.

    By failing to file a return, people stand to lose more than just refunds for taxes withheld or paid during 2013. In addition, many low- and moderate-income workers did not claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which helps individuals and families with incomes below certain thresholds. For unmarried individuals in 2013, these thresholds were $46,227 for those with three or more children, $43,038 for those with two children, $37,870 for those with one child, and $14,340 for those with no children. Each amount is $5,340 more for married joint filers. In addition, parents who are eligible to claim the refundable portion of the child tax credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit (education tax credit) will forfeit those benefits if they don’t file a return.

    When filing a 2013 return, the law requires that the return be properly addressed, mailed and postmarked by April 18th. There is no late-filing penalty for those who qualify for a refund.

    As a reminder, taxpayers seeking a 2013 refund should know that their checks will be held if they have not also filed tax returns for 2011 and 2012. In addition, their refunds will first be applied to any amounts that they still owe to the IRS and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past-due federal debts caused by student loans, repayment of unemployment compensation and state taxes owed.

    Contact Dagley & Co. with any questions, or make your tax appointment today.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Education Credits Aren’t Just For Children’s Tuition

    6 March 2017
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    Many people do not realize that education credits are not only available for your child’s tuition. Instead, they are also available for you, your spouse, or your dependents. Even if you attend school part-time, these credits may still be available.

    There are two education-related credits available: the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and the Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC). For either credit, the student must be enrolled in an eligible educational institution for at least one academic period (semester, trimester or quarter) during the year. An eligible educational institution is any accredited public, nonprofit, or proprietary post-secondary institution that can participate in the U.S. Department of Education’s student aid programs.

    The credits phase out for higher-income taxpayers who are married filing jointly (MFJ) or who are unmarried. Those who are married filing separately (MFS) do not qualify for either credit.

    The following table provides the qualifications for both credits:

     

    QUALIFICATIONS AOTC LLC
    Allowance Period First 4 years of post-secondary education Any post-secondary education for any number of years
    Enrollment Must be considered at least a half-time student by the educational institution Not required to be enrolled at least half-time
    Program Type Must be pursuing a program leading to a degree or another recognized educational credential Not required to be enrolled for the purpose of obtaining a degree or other credential
    Credit Applied Per student Per family
    Credit Amount 100% of the first $2,000 and 25% of the next $2,000 in qualified expenses 20% of up to $10,000 in qualified expenses
    Qualified Expenses Qualified tuition and related expenses, which include books, supplies and equipment required for enrollment or attendance Qualified tuition and related expenses; the books, supplies and equipment must be purchased from the educational institution
    High Income Phase-out Based upon filing status and adjusted gross income (inflation-adjusted annually; 2017 amounts shown) MFJ: $160,000 to $180,000MFS: No credit allowedUnmarried: $80,000 to $90,000 MFJ: $112,000 to $132,00MFS: No credit allowedUnmarried: $56,000 to $66,000
    Refundable* Partially; 40% of the credit is treated as refundable No

    *Generally, credits are nonrefundable, meaning that they can only be used to offset your tax liability; any amount exceeding your current-year tax liability is lost. However, unlike other credits, the AOTC is partially refundable in most cases.

    Many individuals who both work and attend school can be enrolled less than halftime and still qualify for the LLC.

    Another interesting twist to education credits is that the taxpayer who qualifies for and claims the student’s exemption for the year gets the credit—even if someone else pays the expenses. Thus, for example, even if a noncustodial parent pays a child’s college expenses, the custodial parent gets the credit if he or she is otherwise qualified. The same applies when grandparents help pay for their grandchild’s education; the grandparents do not qualify for the credit unless they, and not the child’s parents, claim the student as a dependent.

    Generally, the educational institution sends a Form 1098-T to the taxpayer (or dependent); this includes the information necessary to complete the IRS form and claim the credit. Unless the IRS has exempted the educational institution from having to file a 1098-T, the law requires the taxpayer to have this 1098-T in hand to claim either of the credits.

    If you have questions about how this these education tax credit provisions apply to you, please give Dagley & Co. a call.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Do I Have to File a Tax Return?

    30 January 2017
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    IRS 1040 Tax Form Being Filled Out

    “Do I have to file a tax return?” is a question heard a lot during this time of year. The answer to this popular question is a lot more complicated than many would think. To understand, one must realize the difference between being required to file a tax return vs. the benefit of filing a tax return even when it’s not required to file. We’ve put together a comprehensive description for your better understating:

    When individuals are required to file-

    • Generally, individuals are required to file a return if their income exceeds their filing threshold, as shown in the table below. The filing thresholds are the sum of the standard deduction for individual(s) and the personal exemption for the taxpayer and spouse (if any).
    • Taxpayers are required to file if they have net self-employment income in excess of $400, since they are required to file self-employment taxes (the equivalent to payroll taxes for an employee) when their net self-employment income exceeds $400.
    • Taxpayers are also required to file when they are required to repay a credit or benefit. For example, if a taxpayer acquired health insurance through a government marketplace and received advanced premium tax credit (APTC) they are required to file a return whether or not they are otherwise required to file. A return is required in order to reconcile the APTC with the premium tax credit they entitled based upon their household income for the year.  So generally if you receive a 1095-A you are required to file.
    • Filing is also required when a taxpayer owes a penalty, even though the taxpayer’s income is below the filing threshold. This can occur, for example, when a taxpayer has an IRA 6% early withdrawal penalty or the 50% penalty for not taking a required IRA distribution.

     

    2016 – Filing Thresholds

    Filing Status                      Age                                 Threshold

    Single                          Under Age 65                         $10,350

    Age 65 or Older                           11,900

    Married Filing Jointly       Both Spouses Under 65            $20,700

    One Spouse 65 or Older                 21,950

    Both Spouses 65 or Older              23,200

    Married Filing Separate   Any Age                                       4,050

    Head of Household         Under 65                               $13,350

    65 or Older                                 14,900

    Qualifying Widow(er)      Under 65                               $16,650

    with Dependent Child      65 or Older                                 17,900

     

    When it is beneficial for individuals to file-

    There are a number of benefits available when filing a tax return that can produce refunds even for a taxpayer who is not required to file:

    • Withholding refund – A substantial number of taxpayers fail to file their return even when the tax they owe is less than their prepayments, such as payroll withholding, estimates, or a prior over-payment. The only way to recover the excess is to file a return.
    • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – If you worked and did not make a lot of money, you may qualify for the EITC. The EITC is a refundable tax credit, which means you could qualify for a tax refund. The refund could be as high as several thousand dollars even when you are not required to file.
    • Additional Child Tax Credit – This refundable credit may be available to you if you have at least one qualifying child.
    • American Opportunity Credit – The maximum for this credit for college tuition paid per student is $2,500, and the first four years of post-secondary education qualify. Up to 40% of the credit is refundable when you have no tax liability, even if you are not required to file.
    • Premium Tax Credit – Lower-income families are entitled to a refundable tax credit to supplement the cost of health insurance purchased through a government Marketplace. To the extent the credit is greater than the supplement provided by the Marketplace, it is refundable even if there is no other reason to file.

     

    For more information about filing requirements and your eligibility to receive tax credits, please contact Dagley & Co. for more information. We recommend not procrastinating, no matter what your stance on filing may be!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Important Tax Changes for Small Businesses

    17 January 2017
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    Are you a small business owner, or work within a small business’s accounting department? We have your rundown of some changes that need to be considered when preparing your 2016 and 2017 returns. As of December 2015, legislation passed the “Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes” Act which extended a number of business provisions and made some permanent changes. As you start to file 2016’s taxes, please be aware of these provisions, as they can have a significant impact on you business’s taxes:

    Section 179 Expensing – The Internal Revenue Code, Sec. 179, allows businesses to expense, rather than depreciate, personal tangible property other than buildings or their structural components used in a trade or business in the year the property is placed into business service. The annual limit is inflation-adjusted, and for 2017, that limit is $510,000, which is unchanged from 2016. The limit is reduced by one dollar for each dollar when the total cost of the qualifying property placed in service in any given year exceeds the investment limit, which is $2,030,000 for 2017, a $20,000 increase from the 2016 amount.

    In addition to personal tangible property, the following are included in the definition of qualifying property for the purposes of Sec. 179 expensing:

    • Off-the-Shelf Computer Software
    • Qualified Real Property – The term “qualified real property” means property acquired by purchase for use in the active conduct of a trade or business, which is normally depreciated and is generally not property used for lodging except for hotels or motels. Qualified retail property includes:
    • Qualified leasehold improvement property,
    • Qualified restaurant property, and
    • Qualified retail improvement property.

     

    Bonus Depreciation – Bonus depreciation is extended through 2019 and allows first-year depreciation of 50% of the cost of qualifying business assets placed in service through 2017. After 2017, the bonus depreciation will be phased out, with the bonus rate 40% in 2018 and 30% in 2019. After 2019, the bonus depreciation will no longer apply. Qualifying business assets generally include personal tangible property other than real property with a depreciable life of 20 years or fewer, although there are some special exceptions that include qualified leasehold property. Generally, qualified leasehold improvements include interior improvements to non-residential property made after the building was originally placed in service, but expenditures attributable to the enlargement of the building, any elevator or escalator, and the internal structural framework of the building do not qualify.

    In addition, the bonus depreciation will apply to certain trees, vines and plants bearing fruits and nuts that are planted or grafted before January 1, 2020.

     

    Vehicle Depreciation – The first-year depreciation for cars and light trucks used in business is limited by the so-called luxury-auto rules that apply to highway vehicles with an unloaded gross weight of 6,000 pounds or less. The first-year depreciation amounts for cars and small trucks change slightly from time to time; they are currently set at $3,160 for cars and $3,560 for light trucks. However, a taxpayer can elect to apply the bonus depreciation amounts to these amounts. The bonus-depreciation addition to the luxury-auto limits is $8,000 through 2017, after which it will be phased out by dropping it to $6,400 in 2018 and $4,800 in 2019. After 2019, the bonus depreciation will no longer apply.

    New Filing Due Dates – There are some big changes with regard to filing due dates for a variety of returns. Many of these changes have been made to combat tax-filing fraud. The new due dates are effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2015. That means the returns coming due in 2017.

    Partnerships

    • Calendar Year: The due date for 1065 returns for the 2016 calendar year will be March 15, 2017 (the previous due date was April 15).
    • Fiscal Year: Due the 15th day of the 3rd month after the close of the year.
    • Extension: 6 months (September 15 for calendar-year partnerships).

    S Corporations

    • Calendar Year: 2016 calendar year 1120-S returns will be due March 15, 2017 (unchanged).
    • Fiscal Year: Due the 15th day of the 3rd month after the close of the year.
    • Extension: 6 months (September 15 for calendar-year S Corps).

    C Corporations

    • Calendar Year: The due date for Form 1120 returns for the 2016 calendar year will be April 18, 2017 (the previous due date was March 15). Normally, calendar-year returns will be due on April 15, but because of the Emancipation Day holiday that is observed in Washington, D.C., the 2017 due date is the 18th.
    • Fiscal Year: Due the 15th day of the 4th month after the close of the year, a month later than in the past (exception: if fiscal year-end is June 30, the change in due date does not apply until returns for tax years beginning after December 31, 2025).
    • Extension: 6 months. (Exceptions: [1] 5 months for any calendar-year C corporation beginning before January 1, 2026, and [2] 7 months for June 30 year-end C corps through 2025.) Thus, the extended due date for a 2016 Form 1120 for a calendar-year C Corp will be September 15, 2017.

    W-2s, W-3s and 1099-MISC reporting non-employee compensation

    • Due Date: For 2016 W-2s, W-3s, and Forms 1099-MISC reporting non-employee compensation, the due date for filing the government’s copy is January 31, 2017 (the previous due date was February 28 or March 31 if filed electronically). The due date for providing a copy to the employee or independent contractor remains January 31.
    • Extension – 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 in which the filer or transmitter’s explanation demonstrates that an extension of time to file is needed as a result of extraordinary circumstances

     

    Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) – Employers may elect to claim a WOTC for a percentage of first-year wages, generally up to $6,000 of wages per employee, for hiring workers from a targeted group. First-year wages are wages paid during the tax year for work performed during the one-year period beginning on the date the target-group member begins work for the employer.

    This credit originally sunset in 2014, but the PATH Act retroactively extended the credit for five years through 2019.

    • Generally, the credit is 40% of first-year wages (not exceeding $6,000), for a maximum credit of $2,400 (0.4 x $6,000).
    • The credit is reduced to 25% for employees who have completed at least 120 hours but fewer than 400 hours of service for the employer. No credit is allowed for an employee who has worked fewer than 120 hours.
    • The legislation also added qualified long-term unemployment recipients to the list of targeted groups, effective for employees beginning work after December 31, 2015.

    Research Credit – After 21 consecutive years of extending the research credit year by year, the PATH Act made it permanent and made the following modifications to the research credit:

    • For years after December 31, 2015, small businesses (average of $50 million or less in gross receipts in the prior three years) can claim the credit against the alternative minimum tax.
    • For years after December 31, 2015, small businesses (less than $5 million in gross receipts for the year the credit is being claimed and no gross receipts in the prior five years) can claim up to $250,000 per year of the credit against their employer FICA tax liability. Effectively, this provision is for start-ups.

    What is in the future?

    With the election of a Republican president and with a Republican majority in both the House and Senate, we can expect to see significant tax changes in the near future. President-elect Trump has indicated that he would like to see the Sec. 179 limit significantly increased and the top corporate rate dropped to 15%. Watch for future legislation once President-elect Trump takes office this Friday.

    Contact us at Dagley & Co. if you have any questions or concerns regarding your 2016’s tax returns.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Tax Benefits for Single Parents

    7 December 2016
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    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.

     

     

     

     

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  • Back to School? Tax Breaks May Help to Pay the Cost!

    23 August 2016
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    Summer is unfortunately coming to an end, and with that means back to school for many young adults. What this also means is time for their parents or family members to dig into their pockets to help pay for that schooling.

    Paying for education can be financially challenging for many families. However, tuition and related expenses paid for higher education can qualify for one of two tax credits, which will lower the income tax burden for the individual who claims the exemption for the student. For example, if the student were claimed as a dependent on the parents’ return, the parents would claim the credit, but if the student filed independently, he or she would get the credit. This is true regardless of who actually pays the tuition and related expenses.

    American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) – The AOTC provides a credit of up to $2,500 per year per eligible student. Generally, tax credits are non-refundable, meaning they can only be used to offset any tax liability the taxpayer may have for the year. However, up to 40% of the AOTC is refundable, even when the taxpayer has no tax liability. Thus, it can result in a refund of as much as $1,000 (40% of $2,500).

    The credit is for 100% of the first $2,000 of tuition and related expenses and 25% of the next $2,000 of qualifying expenses. However, the AOTC is only allowed for four years of post-secondary education. It is also determined on a per student basis and phases out for higher-income taxpayers. The student must be enrolled at least half-time in a program leading to a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential for at least one academic period beginning in the tax year of the credit.

    Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) ‒ The LLC is a non-refundable credit worth up to $2,000 per year, and there is no limit on the number of years that the LLC can be claimed. Unlike the AOTC, there is no “half-time student” requirement, and single courses can qualify. The credit is 20% of the cost of tuition and related expenses. However, while the AOTC is determined on a per student basis, the LLC is based upon the tax family’s qualified education expenses for the year. Where a student qualifies for the more beneficial AOTC, that student’s expenses cannot be used for the LLC.

    There are additional requirements that apply to both credits:

    • Qualified expenses ‒ Qualified expenses include the costs you pay for tuition, fees, and other related expenses for an eligible student to enroll at or attend an eligible educational institution.
    • Eligible educational institutions ‒ Eligible institutions generally include any accredited public, nonprofit, or proprietary post-secondary institution eligible to participate in the student aid programs administered by the Department of Education. This includes most colleges and universities. Vocational schools or other post-secondary schools may also qualify. If you aren’t sure if the student’s school is eligible, ask the school if it is an eligible educational institution.
    • Form 1098-T ‒ In most cases, you (or the student) should receive Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, from the school reporting the qualifying expenses to the IRS and to you. The amount shown on the form may be either (1) the amount you paid to the school for qualifying tuition and related expenses, or (2) the amount billed by the school for qualifying tuition and related expenses. Therefore, the amount shown on the form may be different from the amount eligible for the credit. Don’t forget that you can only claim an education credit for the qualifying tuition and related expenses that you paid in the tax year and not just the amount the school billed. There is a provision that allows the tuition for the first three months of the next year to be prepaid and deducted on the tax return for the year of payment. However, prepaid tuition cannot be deducted in the subsequent year.

    There are other education tax benefits available as well, such as the education loan interest deduction and savings bond interest exclusion. If you are reading this article so you can plan for the future, there are also tax-advantage education savings plans available – the Coverdell and Sec 529 plans.

    Interested in how the education credits or other tax benefits might apply to you? Give Dagley & Co., CPA a call at (202) 417-6640.

     

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  • Don’t Miss Out on the Electric Vehicle Credit

    2 August 2016
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    Considering a new car? If you are considering purchasing a new car or light truck (less than 14,000 pounds), maybe you should consider one of the many electric vehicles currently being offered for sale and take advantage of a federal income tax credit worth as much as $7,500.

    The tax credit is actually made up of two parts: the basic amount of $2,500, which requires the electric vehicle to have a battery with at least 5 kilowatt-hours of capacity, and an additional $417 of credit for each kilowatt-hour of battery capacity in excess of 5 kilowatt-hours. The total amount of the credit allowed for any qualified vehicle is limited to $7,500.

    However, the credit begins to be phased out for a particular manufacturer’s vehicles when at least 200,000 qualifying vehicles have been sold for use in the United States.

    If you are not an electrical engineer, it may seem a little complicated to figure out which vehicles qualify for the credit and for how much. You can usually rely on the information provided by the dealer. However, to be on the safe side, you can verify which vehicles are qualified and the credit amount available, based on the vehicle’s kilowatt-hours and the reduction in credit due to the credit phase-out, by visiting the IRS website From the list on the linked page, click on the manufacturer of the vehicle you are interested in to find out if the model and year of that vehicle qualify for the credit and the amount of the credit.

    To be eligible for the credit, you must acquire the vehicle for use or lease and not for resale. Additionally, the original use of the vehicle must commence with you, and you must use the vehicle predominantly in the United States. The vehicle is not considered acquired prior to the time when its title passes to you under your state’s law. The credit is available whether you use the vehicle for business, personally or a combination of both. The prorated portion of the credit that applies to business use becomes part of the general business credit, and any amount not used on your return for the year when you purchase the vehicle can be carried back to the previous year and then carried forward until used up, but for no more than 20 years.

    What a Dealer May Not Tell You – The portion of the credit that is not treated as a general business credit (i.e., the personal use portion of the credit) is non-refundable. That means it can only be used to offset your tax liability for the year when you purchase the vehicle, and any excess credit is lost. Assuming you purchase the vehicle in 2016 and your 2016 tax return will be similar to your 2015 return, you can get an idea of how the credit will apply to you by comparing the amount on line 47 of your 2015 Form 1040 to the credit the vehicle provides. If line 47 is greater than the credit, then you will probably benefit from the entire amount of the credit on your 2016 return. If it is less, then you will only benefit from the amount on line 47 as it will be figured for your 2016 return.

    If your 2016 tax return will be significantly different from your 2015 return, or you simply want to verify your benefit from the credit, please give Dagley & Co. a call.

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  • Claimed Premium Tax Credit Last Year? Odds of IRS Correspondence Increased

    19 May 2016
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    Your odds of receiving correspondence from the IRS could increase if you claimed the PTC on your tax return. Everyone hates to get letters from the IRS, but if you did claim the Premium Tax Credit (PTC) on your tax return or obtained your insurance through one of the federal or state insurance Marketplaces and had your premiums subsidized with the Advance Premium Tax Credit (APTC), this is probably why you’re hearing from them. This is due to the complexity of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its maze of tax reporting requirements to ensure taxpayers correctly comply with the ACA’s many provisions.

    One of the cornerstones of the ACA is the PTC, which is a refundable tax credit that helps lower-income families pay for their health insurance when they obtain it from a state or the federal insurance Marketplace. The amount of the PTC for a family is based on the family size and their household income as compared to the federal poverty guidelines. The insurance Marketplace allows (and actually encourage) families to claim an APTC based upon an estimate of income for the year, but then the tax-return filer must reconcile the APTC with the PTC the family is actually entitled to. This is done on the tax return for the year submitted to the IRS by the filer in the subsequent year.

    Individuals who might otherwise not need to file a tax return are required to file if they or someone in their family received APTC so that the reconciliation with the PTC can be done. If a return is not filed, then they will not be eligible for APTC or cost-sharing reductions to help pay for the Marketplace health insurance coverage in future years. In other words, they will be responsible for the full cost of their monthly premiums.

    Many taxpayers fail to complete the reconciliation on their tax return, which can result in an additional credit over and above the APTC claimed at the Marketplace, or on the flip side, they may have to repay some portion of the APTC. If the IRS computer compares the Form 1095-A from the Marketplace to what is reported on the tax return and finds the reconciliation was not completed or was completed incorrectly, or that the taxpayer failed to file a return, the taxpayer can expect to receive correspondence from the IRS.

    New for 2015 is the employer-reporting requirement, Form 1095-C, where employers report whether they offered employees affordable health care insurance. The rub here is that the ACA does not allow the PTC for any month when the employer offers the employee affordable health care insurance. The year 2015 is the first year for such reporting, and taxpayers who claimed the PTC when their employer offered them affordable health care insurance will soon be receiving letters from the IRS requesting repayment of any APTC they received through the Marketplace and/or the PTC they claimed on their 2015 tax returns.

    Another issue that could generate IRS correspondence is when a taxpayer receives a corrected 1095-A from a Marketplace with corrected premium amounts, the cost of second-lowest silver insurance, and/or the amount of APTC paid that differ from the original amounts. Unless the changes are insignificant, the corrected amounts will change the amount of the PTC the taxpayer is entitled to, and if the taxpayer has not already amended their tax return to correct the PTC, he or she will no doubt receive correspondence from the IRS. This is true even though the error in reporting is the government’s (Marketplace’s) fault.

    CAUTION: While legitimate correspondence from the IRS should not be ignored, be aware that all of these issues provide ID thieves and scammers with opportunities to develop plans to scam taxpayers. If you receive any form of communication from the IRS, always be suspicious. This is especially true of e-mails, which the IRS rarely uses and then only if contact has first been made by correspondence. Never click on any links embedded in such an e-mail, as your computer or phone may end up with a virus or embedded cookie, or you may be taken to a site disguised as an IRS site where the scammers attempt to have you divulge ID information. If you receive a phone call from an alleged IRS agent asking for immediate payment, simply hang up—it is a scam. Scam artists prey on everyone’s natural fear of the IRS by using threats of property seizure and even arrest.

    Don’t be a victim; call Dagley & Co. whenever you receive communications from the IRS or state taxing authorities.

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