The ABCs of the tax deduction for educator expenses

At back-to-school time, much of the focus is on the students returning to the classroom — and on their parents buying them school supplies, backpacks, clothes, etc., for the new school year. But let’s not forget about the teachers. It’s common for teachers to pay for some classroom supplies out of pocket, and the tax code provides a special break that makes it a little easier for these educators Continue Reading

Want to File an Amended Tax Return?

Let's say you discover a deduction that was overlooked on a federal tax return that has already been filed. Or you realize that you didn't report some income. Perhaps you heard about a recently passed tax law that includes retroactive tax breaks you can benefit from. Whatever the reason, an amended tax return may be the answer. Amended returns generally must be filed within three years from Continue Reading

Write Off Business-Related Vehicle Expenses

Q.  I'm using my personal car in my business. How much can I deduct on my tax return for the vehicle expenses? A. There are two basic ways to write off expenses for business-related travel: The standard mileage method. This provides a basic deduction for mileage and provides built-in depreciation. For 2017, the mileage rate is 53.5 cents per business mile driven (down from 54 cents in Continue Reading

Business ID Theft: Is Your Data at Risk?

The IRS and state tax authorities have made significant strides in curbing individual identity theft over the last two years. IRS Focuses on Preventing Business ID Theft "The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax community have worked hard to turn the tide against tax-related identity theft. We're making progress in protecting individuals but we still have more work to do," said IRS Continue Reading

Put your audit in reverse to save sales and use tax

It’s a safe bet that state tax authorities will let you know if you haven’t paid enough sales and use taxes, but what are the odds that you’ll be notified if you’ve paid too much? The chances are slim — so slim that many businesses use reverse audits to find overpayments so they can seek refunds. Take all of your exemptions In most states, businesses are exempt from sales tax on equipment used Continue Reading

Understand Your Social Security Retirement Benefits

For years, people have questioned the viability of the Social Security system going forward. In July, the Social Security Board of Trustees released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds. What's My FRA? Your full retirement age (FRA) depends on the year in which you were born. Year of Birth Full Retirement Age 1937 or Continue Reading

Do You Have a Deductible Business Loss or a Nondeductible Hobby Loss?

There's a fine line between businesses and hobbies under the federal tax code. If you engage in an unincorporated sideline — such as a marketing director by day and an artist on the nights and weekends — you may think of that side activity as a business and hope to deduct any losses on your personal tax return. But the IRS may disagree and reclassify the money-losing activity as a Continue Reading

A refresher on the ACA’s tax penalty on individuals without health insurance

Now that Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal and replacement efforts appear to have collapsed, at least for the time being, it’s a good time for a refresher on the tax penalty the ACA imposes on individuals who fail to have “minimum essential” health insurance coverage for any month of the year. This requirement is commonly called the “individual mandate.” Penalty exemptions Before we review how Continue Reading

Is Your Company’s Vacation and Holiday Policy Working as Planned?

Presumably you have a holiday and vacation policy already in place. But what if it's not working well for your company or your employees? For example, if it's vague, you may have to make decisions on the spot when an employee asks for days off at a time that is inconvenient for you and possibly for other members of your team. That can result in hard feelings if you have to say no, or extra work Continue Reading

3 midyear tax planning strategies for individuals

In the quest to reduce your tax bill, year end planning can only go so far. Tax-saving strategies take time to implement, so review your options now. Here are three strategies that can be more effective if you begin executing them midyear: 1. Consider your bracket The top income tax rate is 39.6% for taxpayers with taxable income over $418,400 (singles), $444,550 (heads of households) and Continue Reading