Accelerated Due Date for FinCEN Form 114

FinCEN Form 114, formerly referred to as “FBAR”, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, is used to report a financial interest in or signature authority over a foreign financial account. The “FBAR” is due June 30 this year to report 2015 accounts, with no extensions allowed.

As part of the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015, tax years beginning after December 31, 2015 (beginning Jan 1, 2016), will be due April 15 with a maximum extension of 6 months.

The IRS has done a pretty good job with assuming this role on behalf of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the Department of the Treasury. The first step they took was the electronic filing mandate a few years ago, and now, matching the deadline to the individual taxpayer deadline and adding an extension makes for a smoother filing season.

For more information on whether you may be required to file FinCEN Form 114, contact Paul Glantz, CPA at paul@launchconsultinginc.com

Due Date for Forms 1099 Quickly Approaching

Form 1099-MISC along with many other informational returns are due to recipients at the end of this month. Last year, I gave a brief outline of who may be be required to file.

Penalties for late filing range from $30-100 per late or incorrectly filed return. The maximum penalty is $250,000 per year. ($75,000 for small businesses).

These are pretty steep penalties for an informational return, and they are set to increase for the 2016 filing period ($50 for the minimum and up to $175,000 for small businesses).

 

For instructions on how to prepare Form 1099-MISC for the 2015 reporting tax year, visit the IRS website.

For information on due dates, and when and where to file, check out this IRS Publication.

If you have any questions about Form 1099-MISC contact Paul Glantz, CPA at paul@launchconsultinginc.com

Controversial Charitable Contribution Regulation Withdrawn

This past September, the IRS proposed a regulation that would require charitable organizations to collect personal information from its donors and file information returns with the IRS with this personal information for donations over $250. The IRS would, in turn, would use informational returns received from the donee to match the amounts with the social security numbers of the donors.

A few days ago, we received notice that the IRS has scrapped these regulations. (whew!) This could have only led to more paperwork for non-profit organizations and greater risks for individuals to become victims of identity theft.

As a reminder, the IRS still requires contemporaneous written acknowledgement of a contribution from a charitable organization if the donation exceeds $250.  The acknowledgement must state the amount of cash or a description (but not the value) of property other than cash contributed. The letter must also state whether the donee provided any “goods or services” in consideration for the contribution. Lastly, if the goods or services received were entirely intangible religious benefits, the letter must provide a statement to that effect.

For more information on charitable contributions, please contact Paul Glantz, CPA at paul@launchconsultinginc.com

 

IRS to Begin Contacting Employers with Late Payroll Tax Payments

Falling behind on payroll taxes? Expect a call from the IRS soon.

In a recent news release, the IRS announced its plans to launch a new initiative aimed at monitoring payroll deposit patterns. Employers that are falling behind on payments will receive a letter or automated phone message reminding them of their payroll tax responsibilities.

For more information on Employment Tax & Reporting due dates, visit the IRS website.

For questions about payroll reports or taxes, contact Paul Glantz, CPA at paul@launchconsultinginc.com

Highway Bill Gives IRS Power over Passports

Last week President Obama signed into law the Highway Bill, a five-year $305 billion law that will focus on improving highway and transit projects. Included in that law were two controversial provisions that didn’t receive as much press.Both these provisions were included as offsets that are expected to cover the infrastructure spending.

Aside from the IRS bringing back private debt collectors, the new law gives the State Department the power to deny or revoke the passport of individuals with unpaid disputed tax bills. The passport revocation would only occur after the IRS has issued a lien or levy. If you have a payment agreement set up with the IRS, don’t worry, you’re in the clear. As far as privatizing debt collectors, expect to see an increase in criminals posing as IRS agents or collection companies.

More information on the Highway Bill here .

If you have questions about safeguarding your personal information, be sure to check out these tips.

For additional questions on how this law may impact you, contact Paul Glantz, CPA at paul@launchconsultinginc.com

How to Choose a Tax Preparer

With the 2015 tax filing season quickly approaching, I thought I would share this article the IRS published earlier this month about how to “Make a Wise Choice when Selecting a Tax Preparer”. I summarized a few key points below, because lets face it, it’s 2015 and nobody has the attention span to read a full article.

Here are some key take-aways:

  • Select a professional you trust. Since they will have access to sensitive data, including your social security number along with income and investment data, make sure you aren’t handing an engagement over to someone who could compromise your personal data. At Launch Consulting, we safeguard your data and use a secure file exchange software to protect your privacy.
  • Ask about preparation fees upfront. No-one likes surprises, especially in April around deadline time. Avoid any preparer that charges a fee based on refund, or says they can get you a larger refund. If a CPA is telling you this, it’s 100% unethical and against the rules of the State Board holding their license.
  • Make sure your preparer doesn’t disappear after April. Sometimes questions arise and you need your preparer to clarify. At Launch Consulting, we are with you year round, not just for tax preparation, but for tax planning and business consulting. We want to see you succeed, and we promise to be there every step of the way to help.

Lastly, only Enrolled Agents (EA), Certified Public Accountants (CPA), and Attorneys have unlimited representation rights in front of the IRS. As a licensed CPA, I can represent you on any matters including audits, payment/collection issues, and appeals.

 

The full article can be read here.

For any questions about business or personal taxes, contact Paul Glantz, CPA at paul@launchconsultinginc.com

Where did your tax dollars go in 2014?

With the 2014 Tax filing season behind us, whitehouse.gov‘s  interactive tool shows you exactly where your tax dollars were spent. It’s no surprise that over 50% of your taxes went to health care and national defense, but I think one of the more interesting numbers is the 9% we pay just to cover net interest from our nations deficit. Curious to know where your money went? Check out the tax calculator below!

Store or Shred? What you need to know about document retention

CPA, Certified Public Accountant, Texas, Austin, Taxes, Tax Preparer, Tax Accountant, Tax Refund

The IRS recently revised legislation that previously kept the statute of limitations open for 6 years for any understatement of income greater than 25% of gross income. The new law now provides that an in addition to understatement of income, overstatement of deductions that results in the same 25% omission of income leaves you open to IRS audit for 6 years!

With the 2014 tax season behind us, I’ve had several clients ask how long they actually need to keep some of their tax records. I’ve compiled a list of the more common documents, specifically related to individuals, and how long you actually need to hoard these pieces of paper for.

Personal Documents to keep forever:

  • Audit reports
  • Legal documents
  • Property records, improvement receipts (or 7 years after property is disposed)
  • Investment trade confirmations
  • Retirement and Pension records until all distributions are made

Personal Documents to keep seven years:

  • Supporting documents for tax returns (W-2’s, charitable contribution receipts, etc.)
  • Income tax returns
  • Income tax payments

Personal Documents to keep three years:

  • Utility records
  • Expired insurance policies
  • Medical bills

Note that these times are from the date that your original tax return was filed. If you have a scanner, the IRS does accept digital copies as long as they are legible. I recommend keeping a local backup as well as a cloud backups on Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, or any other secure cloud based storage.

If you have any questions about document retention, please contact Paul Glantz, CPA at paul@launchconsultinginc.com

 

Five Tax Strategies Now for Refunds in April

As the year winds down, there is nothing more important than discussing year-end tax strategy. Building communication between yourself, your CPA, and your investment advisor will guarantee you are a winner come April 15. Far too often, poor decision making and bad planning will lead to a big bill from the IRS. I’ve compiled a list of five powerful tips you can use now to help reduce your tax bill next year.

  1. If you had any big losers in the market this year, consider “realizing” these losses, and preserving your investment position by purchasing back that same security 31 days later.
  2. Consider using a credit card to pay deductible expenses before the end of the year. The IRS operates on the “year of swipe” principle. So while you will not receive the bill for these expenses until 2016, you can benefit from the deduction in 2015.
  3. Apply strategy to your itemized deductions. In some states, and cities (like Austin, Texas), you can make your property tax payment between October and January. If planned correctly, you can double your real estate tax deduction every other year, while still taking advantage of the standard deduction for in-between years.
  4. Defer income and accelerate your deductions. Ask your boss to hold on to that year-end bonus until January or have your employer bump up your last few 401k contributions. Other strategies for accelerating your deductions include increasing the amount you set aside for next year’s FSA or, if eligible, make a full years worth of HSA contributions before December 1, 2015.
  5. If you made a Traditional to Roth IRA conversion earlier in the year, and the value of the assets has since declined, you could wind up paying a higher tax than necessary. You can combat this by backing out of the transaction, and re-characterizing the conversion. Later, you can reconvert to a Roth.

Stay tuned for more tax planning tips as we wait for information on any “extender legislation” for temporary tax rules set to expire Dec 31.

For more information on year end planning, contact Paul Glantz, CPA at paul@launchconsultinginc.com

 

Am I required to file Form 1099-MISC for 2014?

This is a question I get asked often from new clients. In short, 1099s are issued by businesses (sole-proprietors, LLCs, partnerships, corporations, etc.) who’ve made payments in excess of $600 to individuals or other businesses during the ordinary course of business. This includes services (contract labor), rents, royalties, and interest.

There are certain exceptions that apply to this $600 threshold, but we’ll attempt to keep this post as brief as possible. Under Code Section 6041, payments made to a “corporation” do not require returns of information, however 1099’s are still issued to law firms regardless of their entity structure.

Failure to file these required informational returns will result in penalties ranging from $30-100, depending on how late they are filed.

 

For help preparing Forms 1099-MISC, contact Paul@LaunchConsultingInc.com

Form more information on requirements for filing, visit the IRS website using the link provided below:

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-prior/i1099msc–2014.pdf