Can’t pay your tax liability for 2016? We have the information you need to know:
First, do not let your inability to pay your tax liability in full keep you from filing your tax return on time. If your return is not on time, you must still pay the “failure to file” penalty, which accrues at a rate of 5% per month on the amount of tax that you owe based on your return.
If in doubt, you can delay the “failure to file” penalty for six months by filing an extension, but this still won’t keep you penalty free.
Although an extension provides you with more time to file your actual return, it is not an extension of your payment date. If you do not pay the balance of your 2016 tax liability, you will be subject to the “failure to pay” penalty. This penalty accrues at the rate of 0.5% per month or partial month (up to a maximum of 25%) on the amount that you owe based on your return.
If both penalties apply, the “failure to file” penalty drops to 4.5% per month or part thereof, so the total combined penalty remains 5%. The maximum combined penalty for the first five months is thus 25%. Thereafter, the “failure to pay” penalty will continue to increase at 1/2% per month for 45 more months (up to an additional 22.5%). Thus, the combined penalties can reach a total of 47.5% over time. Both of these penalties are in addition to the interest charges on the late payments.
The bottom line is that, if you owe money, it is best to file your return on time even if you can’t pay the entire liability. That will minimize your penalties. Paying as much as you can with your return will further minimizing your penalties. By the way, neither the penalties nor the interest are tax-deductible.
Possible Solutions – The following are possible ways to pay your tax liability when you don’t have the funds readily available:
- Relatives and Friends – Borrowing money from family members or close friends is often the simplest method to pay a tax bill. One advantage of such loans is that the interest rate will probably be low; however, you must also consider that loans of more than $10,000 at below-market interest rates may trigger tax consequences. Any interest paid on this type of loan would be nondeductible.
- Home-Equity Loans – A home-equity loan is another potential source of funds; such a loan has the advantage that the interest is deductible as long as the total equity loans on the home don’t exceed $100,000. However, in today’s financial environment, qualifying for these loans may be too time-consuming.
- Credit or Debit Cards – Using your credit card to pay your taxes is another option. The IRS has approved three firms to provide this service. The disadvantages are that the interest rates are relatively high and that you must pay the merchant fee (because the IRS does not). For information about this fee and about making payments by credit card, visit the IRS website.
- Installment Agreements – You can request an installment arrangement with the IRS. You must be up-to-date when filing your returns. There are also fees associated with setting up an installment agreement, and if you do not follow some strict payment rules, the agreement can be terminated. If your liability is under $50,000 and you can pay off the full liability within 6 years, you will not be required to submit financial statements, and you can apply online. When applying online, you’ll get an immediate acceptance or rejection of your payment plan.
The fee for establishing such an agreement can be as high as $225, but it can be as low as $31 if you set up an online payment agreement and pay using direct debit from your bank account. You will also be charged interest, but the late-payment penalty will be half of the usual rate (1/4% instead of 1/2%) if you file your return by the due date (including extensions).
If any of the following occur, the installment agreement may terminate, causing all of your taxes to become due immediately: the information you provided to the IRS in applying for the agreement proves inaccurate or incomplete; you miss an installment; you fail to pay another tax liability when it is due; the IRS believes that its collection of the tax involved is in jeopardy; or you fail to provide an update regarding your financial condition when the IRS makes a reasonable request for you to do so.
- Pension Plans – Tapping into one’s pension plan or IRA should be a very last resort, not only because it degrades your future retirement but also because of the potential tax implications. Generally, except for Roth IRAs, the funds in retirement accounts are pretax; as a result, when withdrawn, they become taxable. If you are under 59½, any such distribution will also be subject to the 10% early-withdrawal penalty. Federal tax, state tax (if applicable), and this penalty can chew up a hefty amount of the distribution, which may be too high a price to pay.
A Final Word of Caution – Ignoring your filing obligation only makes matters worse, and doing so can become very expensive. It can lead to the IRS collection process, which can include attachments, liens or even the seizure and sale of your property. In many cases, these tax nightmares can be avoided by taking advantage of the solutions discussed above. If you cannot pay your taxes, please call Dagley & Co. to discuss your options.
Are you having a low taxable income year? Are you unemployed, had an accident that’s kept you from earning income, incurring a net operating loss (NOL) from a business, or suffering a casualty loss? These incidents will result in abnormally low taxable income for the year. But, these can actually give rise to some interesting tax planning strategies. See below for some key elements that govern tax rates and taxable income, and some actual strategies by Dagley & Co.
Taxable Income – First, of all, to be simplistic, taxable income is your adjusted gross income (AGI) less the sum of your personal exemptions and the greater of the standard deduction for your filing status or your itemized deductions:
Taxable Income XXXX
If the exemptions and deductions exceed the AGI, you can end up with a negative taxable income, which means to the extent it is negative you can actually add income or reduce deductions without incurring any tax.
Graduated Individual Tax Rates – Ordinary individual tax rates are graduated. So as the taxable income increases, so do the tax rates. Thus, the lower your taxable income, the lower your tax rate will be. Individual ordinary tax rates range from 10% to as high 39.6%. The taxable income amounts for 10% to 25% tax rates are:
Single Married Filing Jointly Head of Household Married Filing Separate 10% 9,275 18,550 13,250 9,275 15% 37,650 75,300 50,400 37,650 25% 91,150 151,900 130,150 75,950
For instance, if you are single, your first $9,275 of taxable income is taxed at 10%. The next $28,375 ($37,650 – $9,275) is taxed at 15% and the next $53,500 ($91,150 – $37,650) is taxed at 25%.
Here are some strategies you can employ for your tax benefit. However, these strategies may be interdependent on one another and your particular tax circumstances.
Take IRA Distributions – Depending upon your projected taxable income, you might consider taking an IRA distribution to add income for the year. For instance, if the projected taxable income is negative, you can actually take a withdrawal of up to the negative amount without incurring any tax. Even if projected taxable income is not negative and your normal taxable income would put you in the 25% or higher bracket, you might want to take out just enough to be taxed at the 10% or even the 15% tax rates. Of course, those are retirement dollars; consider moving them into a regular financial account set aside for your retirement. Also be aware that distributions before age 59½ are subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty.
Defer Deductions – When you itemize your deductions, you may claim only the deductions you actually pay during the tax year (the calendar year for most folks). If your projected taxable income is going to be negative and you are planning on itemizing your deductions, you might consider putting off some of those year-end deductible payments until after the first of the year and preserving the deductions for next year. Such payments might include house of worship tithing, year-end charitable giving, tax payments (but not those incurring late payment penalties), estimated state income tax payments, medical expenses, etc.
Convert Traditional IRA Funds into a Roth IRA – To the extent of the negative taxable income or even just the lower tax rates, you may wish to consider converting some or all of your traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. The lower income results in a lower tax rate, which provides you with an opportunity to convert to a Roth IRA at a lower tax amount.
Zero Capital Gains Rate – There is a zero long-term capital gains rate for those taxpayers whose regular tax brackets are 15% or less (see table above). This may allow you to sell some appreciated securities that you have owned for more than a year and pay no or very little tax on the gain.
Business Expenses – The tax code has some very liberal provisions that allow a business to currently expense, rather than capitalize and slowly depreciate, the purchase cost of certain property. In a low-income year it may be appropriate to capitalize rather than expense these current year purchases and preserve the deprecation deduction for higher income years. This is especially true where there is a negative taxable income in the current year.
If you have obtained your medical insurance through a government marketplace, employing any of the strategies mentioned could impact the amount of your allowable premium tax credit.
Interested in discussing how these strategies might provide you tax benefit based upon your particular tax circumstances? Or, would like to schedule a tax planning appointment? Give Dagley & Co. a call today at (202) 417-6640.
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How does your company keep track of its bills? A lot of small businesses are still dealing with a lot of paper. It’s probably pretty clear to you that this isn’t the best system. You could possibly miss payments because a bill was lost in transit or didn’t make its way to you. QuickBooks Online can help keep bill-payment running smoothly and your relationships with vendors on the up-and-up.
Before you can start paying bills, you have to enter them into QuickBooks Online. This will entail a bit of extra work the first time you deal with a particular vendor, but there are numerous benefits to handling your accounts payable in this fashion, like:
- Speed. Once you’ve created a framework (template) for a bill, it will take minimal time to pay it in the future.
- All of your bill payments will be recorded in QuickBooks Online, so you won’t have to hunt through checkbook registers or file folders to see if a bill was paid.
- QuickBooks Online will always remind you when a bill must be paid (if you’ve set it up correctly).
To enter a bill, click the plus (+) sign at the top of the screen and click on Vendors and then Bill. This screen opens:
You’ll enter information about each bill on a screen like this. There are fields not pictured here that you’ll sometimes have to complete. So let’s start a conversation about the whole process.
Looks pretty simple, doesn’t it? It is – if you have a simple bill like the one you receive for gas and electric. You select the vendor by clicking on the arrow next to the blank field in the upper left and choosing from the list that opens. The Mailing Address and Terms should fill in automatically if you’ve done all of your initial QuickBooks Online setup. If not, you can add and edit this information.
Bill date refers to the date of the bill itself, not the day payment is due to the vendor. That goes in the Due date field. Select your Account from the list that opens when you click in that field, and enter a Description and Amount. If that’s all that’s required for that bill, you can save it and proceed to the next. It’s now recorded as a bill that needs to be paid.
Some of your bills are just one-offs, but others arrive on a regular basis. So QuickBooks Online has tools that will minimize the time required to process them after you’ve entered the basic information once. After you’ve completed a bill, click Make recurring at the bottom of the page to see this screen:
QuickBooks Online lets you create templates for bills to use in future payments.
This screen is self-explanatory. You simply tell QuickBooks Online how much notice you want before a bill’s due date so you can process the payment. Take care with this screen to avoid paying bills too early, which affects your cash flow unnecessarily, or too late.
You have three options when you’re creating a Recurring Bill template. You’ll choose one from the list that opens when you click the arrow in the Type field:
- This is best used when the details of a transaction don’t change, like rent or a loan payment. You don’t have to do anything for the payment to be dispatched; it’s done automatically for you at the interval you set. You can, however, ask to be notified every time this occurs.
- You could use this for periodic payments that will require editing before they’re sent. For example, you’ll probably need to change the amount on your utility bills every month. QuickBooks Online will place a reminder in your Activities list on the home page.
- If you have bills that contain a great deal of detail but aren’t due on a set schedule, you can save the template and call it up when you need it by clicking the gear icon in the upper right and selecting Recurring Transactions.
If you are interested in starting to use QuickBooks Online, and you begin to enter bills and find that you’re having trouble completing the fields required for more complex bills, give Dagley & Co. a call to schedule a session or two.
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February 1 – 1099s Due to Service Providers
If you are a rental property or business owner read along. If paid $600 or more for the services of individuals (other than employees) during 2015, you are required to provide Form 1099 to those workers by February 1. “Services” can mean everything from labor, professional fees and materials, to rents on property. In order to avoid a penalty, copies of the 1099s need to be sent to the IRS by February 29, 2016 (March 31, 2016 if filed electronically). They must be submitted on optically scannable (OCR) forms. This firm prepares 1099s in OCR format for submission to the IRS with the 1096 submittal form. This service provides both recipient and file copies for your records. Please call Dagley & Co. for preparation assistance.
Payments that may be covered include the following: Cash payments for fish (or other aquatic life) purchased from anyone engaged in the trade or business of catching fish, Compensation for workers who are not considered employees (including fishing boat proceeds to crew members), Dividends and other corporate distributions, Interest, Amounts paid in real estate transactions, Rent, Royalties, Amounts paid in broker and barter exchange transactions, Payments to attorneys, Payments of Indian gaming profits to tribal members, Profit-sharing distributions, Retirement plan distributions, Original issue discount, Prizes and awards, Medical and health care payments, Debt cancellation (treated as payment to debtor), and Cash payments over $10,000.
February 1 – W-2 Due to All Employees
All employers need to give copies of the W-2 form for 2015 to their employees. If an employee agreed to receive their W-2 form electronically, post it on a website and notify the employee of the posting.
February 1 – File Form 941 and Deposit Any Undeposited Tax
File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2015. Deposit any undeposited Social Security, Medicare and withheld income tax. (If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return.) If you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time, you have until February 10 to file the return.
February 1 – File Form 943
All farm employers should file Form 943 to report Social Security, Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2015. Deposit any undeposited tax. (If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return.) If you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time, you have until February 10 to file the return.
February 1 – W-2G Due from Payers of Gambling Winnings
If you paid either reportable gambling winnings or withheld income tax from gambling winnings, give the winners their copies of the W-2G form for 2015.
February 1 – File Form 940 – Federal Unemployment Tax
File Form 940 (or 940-EZ) for 2015. If your undeposited tax is $500 or less, you can either pay it with your return or deposit it. If it is more than $500, you must deposit it. However, if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time, you have until February 10 to file the return.
February 1 – File Form 945
File Form 945 to report income tax withheld for 2015 on all non-payroll items, including back-up withholding and withholding on pensions, annuities, IRAs, gambling winnings, and payments of Indian gaming profits to tribal members. Deposit any undeposited tax. (If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return.) If you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time, you have until February 10 to file the return.
February 10 – Non-Payroll Taxes
File Form 945 to report income tax withheld for 2015 on all non-payroll items. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.
February 10 – Social Security, Medicare and Withheld Income Tax
File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2015. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time.
February 10 – Certain Small Employers
File Form 944 to report Social Security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2015. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.
February 10 – Federal Unemployment Tax
File Form 940 for 2015. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.
February 16 – Social Security, Medicare and Withheld Income Tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in January.
February 16 – Non-Payroll Withholding
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in January.
February 29 – Payers of Gambling Winnings
File Form 1096, Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns, along with Copy A of all the Forms W-2G you issued for 2015. If you file Forms W-2G electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms was February 1.
February 29 – Informational Returns Filing Due
File information returns (Form 1099) and transmittal Forms 1096 for certain payments you made during 2015. There are different forms for different types of payments. These are government filing copies for the 1099s issued to service providers and others (see February 1.)
February 29 – All Employers
File Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, along with Copy A of all the Forms W-2 you issued for 2015. If you file Forms W-2 electronically, your due date for filing them with the SSA will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms was February 1.
February 29 – Large Food and Beverage Establishment Employers
File Form 8027, Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips. Use Form 8027-T, Transmittal of Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips, to summarize and transmit Forms 8027 if you have more than one establishment. If you file Forms 8027 electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31.
February 29 – Farmers and Fishermen
File your 2015 income tax return (Form 1040) and pay any tax due. However, you have until April 18 to file if you paid your 2015 estimated tax by January 15, 2016.
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