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April 2017

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Tax Tips

QuickBooks Tips

 
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Tax Due Dates


Any accounting, business or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.


Last Minute Filing Tips for 2016 Tax Returns

Are you one of the millions of Americans who hasn't filed (or even started) your taxes yet? With the April 18 tax filing deadline quickly approaching, here is some last minute tax advice for you.

1. Stop Procrastinating. Resist the temptation to put off your taxes until the very last minute. It takes time to prepare accurate returns and additional information may be needed from you to complete your tax return.

2. Include All Income. If you had a side job in addition to a regular job, you might have received a Form 1099-MISC. Make sure you include that income when you file your tax return because you may owe additional taxes on it. If you forget to include it you may be liable for penalties and interest on the unreported income.

3. File on Time or Request an Extension. This year's tax deadline is April 18. If the clock runs out, you can get an automatic six-month extension, bringing the filing date to October 16, 2017. You should keep in mind, however, that filing the extension itself does not give you more time to pay any taxes due. You will still owe interest on any amount not paid by the April deadline, plus a late-payment penalty if you have not paid at least 90 percent of your total tax by that date.

4. Don't Panic If You Can't Pay. If you can't immediately pay the taxes you owe, there are several alternatives. You can apply for an IRS installment agreement, suggesting your own monthly payment amount and due date, and getting a reduced late payment penalty rate. You also have various options for charging your balance on a credit card. There is no IRS fee for credit card payments, but processing companies generally charge a convenience fee. Electronic filers with a balance due can file early and authorize the government's financial agent to take the money directly from their checking or savings account on the April due date, with no fee.

5. Don't forget to check the box for healthcare coverage. Checking the box on line 61 of Form 1040 shows that you had healthcare for all 12 months during the tax year (2016). The IRS will still process your tax return if you forget to check the box but this applies ONLY to 2016 tax returns--and you're not off the hook for any penalty you might owe.

6. Sign and Double Check Your Return. The IRS will not process tax returns that aren't signed, so make sure that you sign and date your return. You should also double check your social security number, as well as any electronic payment or direct deposit numbers, and finally, make sure that your filing status is correct.

Remember: To avoid delays, get your tax documents to the office as soon as you can.

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Should you File an Extension on your Tax Return?

If you've been procrastinating when it comes to preparing and filing your tax return this year you might be considering filing an extension. While obtaining a 6-month extension to file is relatively easy--and there are legitimate reasons for doing so--there are also some downsides. If you need more time to file your tax return this year, here's what you need to know about filing an extension.

What is an Extension?

An extension of time to file is a formal way to request additional time from the IRS to file your tax return, which in 2017, is due on April 18. Anyone can request an extension, and you don't have to explain why you are asking for more time.

Note: Special rules may apply if you are serving in a combat zone or a qualified hazardous duty area or living outside the United States. Please call the office if you need more information.

Individuals are automatically granted an additional six months to file their tax returns. In 2017, the extended due date is October 16. Businesses can also request an extension. In 2017, the deadline for most businesses (whose tax returns were due March 15) is September 15th (October 16 for C-corporations).

Caution: Taxpayers should be aware that an extension of time to file your return does not grant you any extension of time to pay your taxes. In 2017, April 18 is the deadline for most to pay taxes owed and avoid penalty and interest charges.

What are the Pros and Cons of Filing an Extension?

As with most things, there are pros and cons to filing an extension. Let's take a look at the pros of getting an extension to file first.

Pros

1. You can avoid a late-filing penalty if you file an extension. The late-filing penalty is equal to 5 percent per month on any tax due plus a late-payment penalty of half a percent per month.

Tip: If you are owed a refund and file late, there is no penalty for late filing.

2. You can also avoid the failure-to-file penalty if you file an extension. If you file your return more than 60 days after the due date (or extended due date), the minimum penalty is the smaller of $135 or 100 percent of the unpaid tax. You will not have to pay a late-filing or late-payment penalty if you can show reasonable cause for not filing or paying on time.

3. You are able to file a more accurate--and complete--tax return. Rather than rushing to prepare your return (and possibly making mistakes), you will have an extra 6 months to gather required tax records. This is helpful if you are still waiting for tax documents that haven't arrived or need more time to organize your tax documents in support of any deductions you might be eligible for.

4. If your tax return is complicated (for example, if you need to recharacterize your Roth IRA conversion or depreciate equipment), then your accountant will have more time available to work on your return.

5. If you are self-employed, you'll have extra time to fund a retirement plan. Individual 401(k) and SIMPLE plans must have been set up during the tax year for which you are filing, but it's possible to fund the plan as late as the extended due date for your prior year tax return. SEP IRA plans may be opened and funded for the previous year by the extended tax return due date as long as an extension has been filed.

6. You are still able to receive a tax refund when you file past the extension due date. Filers have three years from the date of the original due date (April 18, 2017) to claim a tax refund. However, if you file an extension you'll have an additional six months to claim your refund. In other words, the statute of limitations for refunds is also extended.

Cons

And now for the cons of filing an extension...

1. If you are expecting a refund, you'll have to wait longer than you would if you filed on time.

2. Extra time to file is not extra time to pay. If you don't pay a least 90 percent of the tax due now, you will be liable for late-payment penalties and interest. The failure-to-pay penalty is one-half of one percent for each month, or part of a month, up to a maximum of 25 percent of the amount of tax that remains unpaid from the due date of the return until the tax is paid in full. If you are not able to pay, the IRS has a number of options for payment arrangements. Please call the office for details.

3. When you request an extension, you will need to estimate your tax due for the year based on information available at the time you file the extension. If you disregard this, your extension could be denied, and if you filed the extension at the last minute assuming it would be approved (but wasn't), you might owe late-filing penalties as well.

4. Dealing with your tax return won't be any easier 6 months from now. You will still need to gather your receipts, bank records, retirement statements and other tax documents--and file a return.

Need to File an Extension? Don't Wait.

Time is running out. If you feel that you need more time to prepare your federal tax return, then filing an extension of time to file might be the best decision. If you have any questions or are wondering if you need an extension of time to file your tax return, don't hesitate to call.

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ACA Tax Facts for Individuals and Families

The Affordable Care Act contains two provisions that may affect your tax return this year: the individual shared responsibility provision and the premium tax credit. Here's what you should know:

Information Forms: 1095-A, 1095-B, and 1095-C

This year marks the first time that certain taxpayers will receive new health-care related information forms that they can use to complete their tax return and then keep with their tax records.

These forms are used to report health coverage information for you, your spouse and any dependents when you file your 2016 individual income tax return this year. These forms are also filed with the IRS. Depending upon your specific circumstances, (i.e. whether you receive health insurance from the Health Insurance Marketplace, health coverage providers, or certain employers), you should have received one or more of these forms in early 2017. There are three types of information forms:

Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement. The Health Insurance Marketplace sends this form to individuals who enrolled in coverage there, with information about the coverage, who was covered, and when.

Form 1095-B, Health Coverage. Health insurance providers (e.g. health insurance companies) send this form to individuals they cover, with information about who was covered and when.

Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage. Employers that offer health coverage referred to as "self-insured coverage" send this form to individuals they cover, with information about who was covered and when. The deadline for coverage providers to provide Forms 1095-B and employers to provide Form 1095-C was March 2, 2017 (a 30-day extension from the original January 31 filing date for 2017).

Some taxpayers may not have received a Form 1095-B or Form 1095-C by the time they are ready to file their tax return. It is not necessary to wait for Forms 1095-B or 1095-C in order to file. Taxpayers may instead rely on other information about their health coverage and employer offer to prepare their returns.

Tip: You do not need to attach these forms to your income tax return.

Individual Shared Responsibility Provision

The individual shared responsibility provision requires everyone on your tax return (you, your spouse, and dependents) to have qualifying health care coverage for each month of the year or have a coverage exemption. Otherwise, you may be required to make an individual shared responsibility payment.

The key elements of the individual shared responsibility provision are as follows:

  • If you maintain qualifying healthcare coverage for the entire year, you don't need to do anything more than report that coverage on your federal income tax return by simply checking a box. Qualifying coverage includes most employer-sponsored coverage, coverage obtained through a Health Insurance Marketplace, coverage through most government-sponsored programs, as well as certain other specified health plans.

  • If you go without coverage or experience a gap in coverage, you may qualify for an exemption from the requirement to have coverage (see below). If you qualify for an exemption, use Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, to report a coverage exemption granted by the Marketplace or to claim a coverage exemption on your tax return.

    If for any month during the year you don't have qualifying coverage and you don't qualify for an exemption, you will have to make an individual shared responsibility payment when you file your federal income tax return.

  • In 2016, the penalty is $695 per person for the year ($347.50 per child under 18) or approximately 2.5 percent of your yearly household income, whichever is higher, and is indexed for inflation, thereafter.

    The instructions for Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, provide the information needed to calculate the payment that will be reported on your federal income tax return.

Health Coverage Exemptions

Individuals who go without coverage or experience a gap in coverage may qualify for an exemption from the requirement to have coverage.

  • You may qualify for an exemption if one of the following applies:
    • You do not have access to affordable coverage
    • You have a one-time gap of less than three consecutive months without coverage
    • You qualify for one of several other exemptions, including a hardship exemption

How you get an exemption depends on the type of exemption. You can obtain some exemptions only from the Marketplace in the area where you live, others only from the IRS when filing your income tax return, and others from either the Marketplace or the IRS.

If you qualify for an exemption, you use Form 8965 to report a coverage exemption granted by the Marketplace or to claim a coverage exemption on your tax return.

Premium Tax Credit

The premium tax credit (PTC) is a credit that helps eligible individuals and families with low or moderate income afford health insurance purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Claiming the premium tax credit may increase your refund or lower the amount of tax that you would otherwise owe.

If you did not get advance credit payments in 2016, you can claim the full benefit of the premium tax credit that you are allowed when you file your tax return. You must file Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit, to claim the PTC on your tax return.

Need More Information?

Please call the office is you would like more information about the premium tax credit or the individual shared responsibility payment.

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Claiming the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

If you're a small business owner with fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees you may be eligible for the small business health care credit.

What is the Small Business Health Care Credit?

The small business health care tax credit, part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act enacted in 2010, is specifically targeted to help small businesses and tax-exempt organizations provide health insurance for their employees. Small employers that pay at least half of the premiums for employee health insurance coverage under a qualifying arrangement may be eligible for this credit. Household employers not engaged in a trade or business also qualify.

How Does the Credit Save Me Money?

The tax credit is worth up to 50 percent of your contribution toward employees' premium costs (up to 35 percent for tax-exempt employers). The tax credit is highest for companies with fewer than 10 employees who are paid an average of $25,900 or less in 2016 ($26,200 in 2017). The smaller the business, the bigger the credit is. For example, if you have more than 10 FTEs or if the average wage is more than $25,900, the amount of the credit you receive will be less. For tax years 2010 through 2013, the maximum credit was 35 percent for small business employers and 25 percent for small tax-exempt employers such as charities.

Note: The credit is available only if you get coverage through the SHOP Marketplace.

If you pay $50,000 a year toward workers' health care premiums--and you qualify for a 15 percent credit--you'll save $7,500. If you save $7,500 a year from tax year 2013 through 2016, that's a total saving of $30,000. And, if in 2017 you qualify for a slightly larger credit, say 20 percent, your savings go from $7,500 a year to $12,000 a year.

Is My Business Eligible for the Credit?

To be eligible for the credit, you must cover at least 50 percent of the cost of single (not family) health care coverage for each of your employees. You must also have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) and those employees must have average wages of less than $50,000 a year. This amount is adjusted for inflation annually and in 2016 was $52,000.

Let's take a closer look at what this means. A full-time equivalent employee is defined as either one full-time employee or two half-time employees. In other words, two half-time workers count as one full-timer or one full-time equivalent. Here is another example: 20 half-time employees are equivalent to 10 full-time workers. That makes the number of FTEs 10, not 20.

Now let's talk about average wages. Say you pay total wages of $200,000 and have 10 FTEs. To figure average wages you divide $200,000 by 10--the number of FTEs--and the result is your average wage. In this example, the average wage would be $20,000.

Can Tax-Exempt Employers Claim the Credit?

Yes. The credit is refundable for small tax-exempt employers too, so even if you have no taxable income, you may be eligible to receive the credit as a refund as long as it does not exceed your income tax withholding and Medicare tax liability.

Can I Still Claim the Credit Even If I Don't Owe Any Tax This Year?

If you are a small business employer who did not owe tax during the year, you can carry the credit back or forward to other tax years. Also, since the amount of the health insurance premium payments are more than the total credit, eligible small businesses can still claim a business expense deduction for the premiums in excess of the credit. That's both a credit and a deduction for employee premium payments.

Can I File an Amended Return and Claim the Credit for Previous Tax Years?

If you can benefit from the credit this year but forgot to claim it on your tax return there's still time to file an amended return.

Businesses that have already filed and later find that they qualified in 2014 or 2015 can still claim the credit by filing an amended return for one or both years.

Don't hesitate to call if you have any questions about the small business health care credit. And, if you need more time to determine eligibility this year we'll help you file an automatic tax-filing extension.

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Estimated Tax Payments: Q & A

Estimated tax is the method used to pay tax on income that is not subject to withholding. This includes income from self-employment, interest, dividends, alimony, and rent, as well as gains from the sale of assets, prizes and awards. You also may have to pay estimated tax if the amount of income tax being withheld from your salary, pension, or other income is not enough. If you do not pay enough by the due date of each payment period you may be charged a penalty even if you are due a refund when you file your tax return.

How do I know if I need to file quarterly individual estimated tax payments?

If you owed additional tax for the prior tax year, you may have to make estimated tax payments for the current tax year. The first estimated payment for 2017 is due April 18, 2017.

If you are filing as a sole proprietor, partner, S corporation shareholder, and/or a self-employed individual, you generally have to make estimated tax payments if you expect to owe tax of $1,000 or more when you file your return.

If you are filing as a corporation you generally have to make estimated tax payments for your corporation if you expect it to owe tax of $500 or more when you file its return.

If you had a tax liability for the prior year, you may have to pay estimated tax for the current year; however, if you receive salaries and wages, you can avoid having to pay estimated tax by asking your employer to withhold more tax from your earnings.

Note: There are special rules for farmers, fishermen, certain household employers, and certain higher taxpayers.

Who Does Not Have To Pay Estimated Tax

You do not have to pay estimated tax for the current year if you meet all three of the following conditions:

  • You had no tax liability for the prior year
  • You were a U.S. citizen or resident for the whole year
  • Your prior tax year covered a 12-month period

If you receive salaries and wages, you can avoid having to pay estimated tax by asking your employer to withhold more tax from your earnings. To do this, file a new Form W-4 with your employer. There is a special line on Form W-4 for you to enter the additional amount you want your employer to withhold.

You had no tax liability for the prior year if your total tax was zero or you did not have to file an income tax return.

How Do I Figure Estimated Tax?

To figure your estimated tax, you must figure out your expected adjusted gross income, taxable income, taxes, deductions, and credits for the year. If you estimated your earnings too high, simply complete another Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals worksheet to refigure your estimated tax for the next quarter. If you estimated your earnings too low, again complete another Form 1040-ES worksheet to recalculate your estimated tax for the next quarter.

Try to estimate your income as accurately as you can to avoid penalties due to underpayment. Generally, most taxpayers will avoid this penalty if they owe less than $1,000 in tax after subtracting their withholdings and credits, or if they paid at least 90 percent of the tax for the current year, or 100 percent of the tax shown on the return for the prior year, whichever is smaller.

Tip: When figuring your estimated tax for the current year, it may be helpful to use your income, deductions, and credits for the prior year as a starting point. Use your prior year's federal tax return as a guide and use the worksheet in Form 1040-ES to figure your estimated tax.

You must make adjustments both for changes in your own situation and for recent changes in the tax law.

When Do I Pay Estimated Taxes?

For estimated tax purposes, the year is divided into four payment periods and each period has a specific payment due date. For the 2017 tax year, these dates are April 18, June 15, September 15, and January 16, 2018. You do not have to pay estimated taxes in January if you file your 2017 tax return by January 31, 2018, and pay the entire balance due with your return.

Note: If you do not pay enough tax by the due date of each of the payment periods, you may be charged a penalty even if you are due a refund when you file your income tax return.

The easiest way for individuals as well as businesses to pay their estimated federal taxes is to use the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). Make ALL of your federal tax payments including federal tax deposits (FTDs), installment agreement and estimated tax payments using EFTPS. If it is easier to pay your estimated taxes weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc. you can, as long as you have paid enough in by the end of the quarter. Using EFTPS, you can access a history of your payments, so you know how much and when you made your estimated tax payments.

Please call if you are not sure whether you need to make an estimated tax payment or need assistance setting up EFTPS.

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Tax Tips for the Self-Employed

If you are a self-employed, you normally carry on a trade or business. Sole proprietors and independent contractors are two types of self-employment. If this applies to you, there are a few basic things you should know about how your income affects your federal tax return. If you're self-employed, here are six important tax tips you should know about:

  • Self-Employment Income. Self-employment can include income you received for part-time work. This is in addition to income from your regular job.
  • Schedule C or C-EZ. You must file a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, or Schedule C-EZ, Net Profit from Business, with your Form 1040. You may use Schedule C-EZ if you had expenses less than $5,000 and meet certain other conditions. Please call if you are not sure whether you can use this form.
  • Self-Employment Tax. If you made a profit, you may have to pay self-employment tax as well as income tax. Self-employment tax includes Social Security and Medicare taxes. Use Schedule SE, Self-Employment Tax, to figure the tax. If you owe this tax, attach the schedule to your federal tax return.
  • Estimated Tax. You may need to make estimated tax payments. These payments are typically made on income that is not subject to withholding. You usually pay estimated taxes in four annual installments. If you do not pay enough tax throughout the year, you may owe a penalty. See, Estimated Tax Payments - Q & A, above, for more information about estimated tax payments.
  • Allowable Deductions. You can deduct expenses that you paid to run your business that are both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and proper for your trade or business.
  • When to Deduct. In most cases, you can deduct expenses in the same year you paid, or incurred them. However, you must 'capitalize' some costs. This means you can deduct part of the cost over a number of years.

Questions about self-employment taxes? Help is just a phone call away.

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Medical and Dental Expenses May Impact Your Taxes

Medical expenses can trim taxes. Keeping good records and knowing what to deduct make all the difference. Here are four tips to help taxpayers know what qualifies as medical and dental expenses:

1. Itemize. Taxpayers can only claim medical expenses that they paid for in 2016 if they itemize deductions on a federal tax return.

2. Qualifying Expenses. Taxpayers can include most medical and dental costs that they paid for themselves, their spouses and their dependents including:

  • The costs of diagnosing, treating, easing or preventing disease.
  • The costs paid for prescription drugs and insulin.
  • The costs paid for insurance premiums for policies that cover medical care.
  • Some long-term care insurance costs.

Exceptions and special rules apply. Costs reimbursed by insurance or other sources normally do not qualify for a deduction. More examples of what costs taxpayers can and can't deduct are in IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.

3. Travel Costs Count. It is possible to deduct travel costs paid for medical care. This includes costs such as public transportation, ambulance service, tolls and parking fees. For use of a car, deduct either the actual costs or the standard mileage rate for medical travel. The rate is 19 cents per mile for 2016.

4. No Double Benefit. Don't claim a tax deduction for medical expenses paid with funds from your Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs). Amounts paid with funds from these plans are usually tax-free.

If you're wondering whether your medical and dental expenses are deductible on your tax return, don't hesitate to contact the office.

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Cut your Tax Bill with Home Energy Credits

Did you know that it's possible to trim your tax bill and save on your energy bills with certain home improvements? Here are some key facts you should know about home energy tax credits:

Non-Business Energy Property Credit

  • Part of this credit is worth 10 percent of the cost of certain qualified energy-saving items you added to your main home last year. This may include items such as insulation, windows, doors and roofs.
  • The other part of the credit is not a percentage of the cost. It is for the actual cost of certain property. This may include items like water heaters and heating and air conditioning systems. The credit amount for each type of property has a different dollar limit.
  • This credit has a maximum lifetime limit of $500. You may only use $200 of this limit for windows.
  • Your main home must be located in the U.S. to qualify for the credit.
  • Be sure you have the written certification from the manufacturer that their product qualifies for this tax credit. It is usually posted on the manufacturer's website or included with the product's packaging. You can use this information to claim the credit, but do not attach it to your return. Keep it with your tax records.
  • You may claim the credit on your 2016 tax return as long as you haven't exceeded the lifetime limit in past years. Under current law, this credit is only available through December 31, 2016, for qualifying improvements to a taxpayer's main U. S. home.

Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit

  • This tax credit is 30 percent of the cost of alternative energy equipment installed on or in your home.
  • Qualified equipment includes solar hot water heaters, solar electric equipment, wind turbines and fuel cell property.
  • There is no dollar limit on the credit for most types of property. If your credit is more than the tax you owe, you can carry forward the unused portion of this credit to next year's tax return.
  • The home must be in the U.S. It does not have to be your main home unless the alternative energy equipment is qualified fuel cell property.
  • This credit is available through 2016.

To claim these credits use Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits. If you would like more information on this topic, please call.

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Tax Benefits for Parents

Taxpayers with children may qualify for certain tax benefits. Parents should consider child-related tax benefits when filing their federal tax return:

1. Dependent. Most of the time, taxpayers can claim their child as a dependent. Taxpayers can generally deduct $4,050 for each qualified dependent. If the taxpayer's income is above a certain limit, this amount may be reduced. If you need help figuring out whether your child can be claimed as a dependent on your tax return, please call the office.

2. Child Tax Credit. Generally, taxpayers can claim the Child Tax Credit for each qualifying child under the age of 17. The maximum credit is $1,000 per child. Taxpayers who get less than the full amount of the credit may qualify for the Additional Child Tax Credit. Not sure if your child qualifies for the Child Tax Credit? Give the office a call.

3. Child and Dependent Care Credit. Taxpayers may be able to claim this credit if they paid for the care of one or more qualifying persons. Dependent children under age 13 are among those who qualify. Taxpayers must have paid for care so that they could work or look for work. Even if you don't have dependent children, if you care for an elderly relative and can claim him or her as a dependent, you might be able to take the Child and Dependent Care Credit if you work or are looking for work. Please call for details.

4. Earned Income Tax Credit. Taxpayers who worked but earned less than $53,505 in 2016 should look into the EITC. They can get up to $6,269 in EITC. Taxpayers may qualify with or without children.

5. EITC and ACTC Refunds. Because of new tax-law change, the IRS is not able to issue refunds before February 15 for tax returns that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). This applies to the entire refund, even if a portion of the refund is not associated with these credits.

6. Adoption Credit. It is possible to claim a tax credit for certain costs paid to adopt a child. For details, see Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses.

7. Education Tax Credits. An education credit can help with the cost of higher education. Two credits are available: the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit. These credits may reduce the amount of tax owed. If the credit cuts a taxpayer's tax to less than zero, it could mean a refund. Taxpayers may qualify even if they owe no tax. Complete Form 8863, Education Credits, and file a return to claim these credits.

8. Student Loan Interest. Taxpayers may be able to deduct interest paid on a qualified student loan. They can claim this benefit even if they do not itemize deductions. If you're not sure if interest you paid on a student or educational loan is deductible, don't hesitate to call.

Questions about credits and deductions?

Don't hesitate to call the office today.

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IRAs and your 2016 Tax Return

Taxpayers often have questions about Individual Retirement Arrangements or IRAs. Common questions include: When can a person contribute, how does an IRA impact taxes, and what are other common rules. If you have questions, here's what you need to know:

Age Rules. Taxpayers must be under age 70 1/2 at the end of the tax year to contribute to a traditional IRA. There is no age limit to contribute to a Roth IRA.

Compensation Rules. A taxpayer must have taxable compensation to contribute to an IRA. This includes income from wages and salaries and net self-employment income. It also includes tips, commissions, bonuses and alimony. If a taxpayer is married and files a joint tax return, only one spouse needs to have compensation in most cases.

When to Contribute. Taxpayers may contribute to an IRA at any time during the year. To count for 2016, a person must contribute by the due date of their tax return. This does not include extensions. This means most people must contribute by April 18, 2017. Taxpayers who contribute between January 1 and April 18 need to advise the plan sponsor of year they wish to apply the contribution (2016 or 2017).

Contribution Limits. Generally, the most a taxpayer can contribute to their IRA for 2016 is the smaller of either their taxable compensation for the year or $5,500. If the taxpayer is 50 or older at the end of 2016, the maximum amount they may contribute increases to $6,500. If a person contributes more than these limits, an additional tax will apply. The additional tax is six percent of the excess amount contributed that is in their account at the end of the year.

Taxability Rules. Normally taxpayers don't pay income tax on funds in a traditional IRA until they start taking distributions from it. Qualified distributions from a Roth IRA are tax-free.

Deductibility Rules. Taxpayers may be able to deduct some or all of their contributions to their traditional IRA. Please contact the office for details.

Saver's Credit. A taxpayer who contributes to an IRA may also qualify for the Saver's Credit. It can reduce a person's taxes up to $2,000 if they file a joint return. Use Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to claim the credit. A taxpayer may file either Form 1040A or 1040 to claim the Saver's Credit.

Rollovers of Retirement Plan and IRA Distributions. When taxpayers roll over a retirement plan distribution, they generally don't pay tax on it until they withdraw it from the new plan. If they don't roll over their distribution, it will be taxable (other than qualified Roth distributions and any amounts already taxed). The payment may also be subject to additional tax unless the taxpayer is eligible for one of the exceptions to the 10 percent additional tax on early distributions.

myRA. If a taxpayer's employer does not offer a retirement plan, they may want to consider a myRA. This is a retirement savings plan offered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. It's safe and affordable. Taxpayers may also direct deposit their entire refund or a portion of it into an existing myRA.

Keep a copy of your tax return. Beginning in 2017, you may need your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount from a prior-year tax return to verify your identity. You can find your AGI on line 37 of your 2015 tax return. If you don't have a copy of your tax return and you need assistance obtaining a copy of last year's tax return, don't hesitate to call.

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Setting Up Users in QuickBooks

Controlling access to your QuickBooks company file is easy when you're a one-person accounting department. You simply use one password to protect your data.

But when you add new employees to the mix, do you want them to have access to absolutely everything in QuickBooks? Probably not. You have confidence in your employees or you wouldn't have hired them. But this isn't solely a matter of trust. It's just good business practice to restrict individuals to specific areas and responsibilities, no matter what the application.

That's why QuickBooks has built-in tools to help you limit activity. Here's how it works.

Identifying Users

To get started, open the Company menu and scroll down the list to highlight Set Up User Names and Password. On the slide-out menu, select Set Up Users. The User List window will open, and you should see your own entry as Admin. Click Add User.


Figure 1: To give an employee access to QuickBooks, enter a User Name for him or her here, then a password.

The Set up user password and access window will open. Fill in those fields and check the box in front of Add this user to my QuickBooks license. This will not be an option if you already have five users since that's the maximum number allowed by QuickBooks Pro and Premier. To buy more, open the Help menu and select Manage My License, then Buy Additional User License.

Tip: If you're not sure how many user licenses you've purchased, hit your F2 key and look in the upper left corner. If you've maxed out and need more licenses, talk to us about upgrading to QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions.

Click Next. In the window that opens, you'll define the access level for your new user. Your options here are:

  • All areas of QuickBooks,
  • Selected areas of QuickBooks, or,
  • External accountant (you can grant us access to all areas of the software
  • except for those that contain sensitive customer data, like credit card numbers).

Click the button in front of the second option, then Next.


Figure 2: You can specify the access rights for individual employees in numerous areas.

The image above shows the first screen of 10 that display the levels of access available in many individual areas of QuickBooks. Be sure to read the whole page carefully before assigning rights. Here, for example, you're not just allowing the employee to enter sales and A/R transactions. You're also deciding whether to grant him or her permission to view the Customer Center and A/R reports. As you can see, your options are No Access, Full Access, and Selective Access (three levels there). Check the box below this list if you want the employee to be able to View complete customer credit card numbers.

When you're finished there, click Next to specify your similar preferences for Purchases and Accounts Receivable, Checking and Credit Cards, Inventory, Time Tracking, and Payroll and Employees. The next two screens contain more complex concepts, but you'll follow the same process to express your wishes. They are:

  • Sensitive Accounting Activities, like funds transfers, general journal entries, and online banking tasks
  • Sensitive Financial Reporting, which allows access to all QuickBooks reports. The option you choose here overrides all other reporting restrictions that you've specified for the employee.

Finally, you'll tell QuickBooks whether this person can change or delete transactions in designated areas and whether he or she can do so to transactions that were recorded before the closing date (if this applies). The last screen displays a summary of the access and activity rights you've given the employee. Check them carefully, and if they're correct, click Finish.

Housekeeping Options


Figure 3: The User List window.

QuickBooks then takes you back to the User List window, where you'll see the employee's name displayed. If you want to Add, Edit, Delete, or View a user, make sure the correct name is highlighted and click the button for the desired action.

If you're just now looking to add your first employee to QuickBooks or if you're starting to outgrow the five-user limit, please call. There are more issues to consider when you take on multi-user access and a QuickBooks expert at the office would be more than happy to discuss them with you.

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Tax Due Dates for April 2017

April 10

Employees who work for tips - If you received $20 or more in tips during March, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

April 18

Individuals - File an income tax return for 2016 (Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ) and pay any tax due. If you want an automatic 6-month extension of time to file the return, file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return or you can get an extension by phone if you pay part or all of your estimate of income tax due with a credit card. Then file Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ by October 16.

Household Employers - If you paid cash wages of $2,000 or more in 2016 to a household employee, file Schedule H (Form 1040) with your income tax return and report any 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 you withheld for your household employees.

Individuals - If you are not paying your 2017 income tax through withholding (or will not pay in enough tax during the year that way), pay the first installment of your 2017 estimated tax. Use Form 1040-ES.

Corporations - File a 2016 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120) and pay any tax due. If you want an automatic 6-month extension of time to file the return, file Form 7004 and deposit what you estimate you owe in taxes.

Corporations - Deposit the first installment of estimated income tax for 2017. A worksheet, Form 1120-W, is available to help you estimate your tax for the year.

Employers - Nonpayroll withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in March.

Employers - Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in March.

May 1

Employers - Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. File form 941 for the first quarter of 2017. 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 quarter in full and on time, you have until May 10 to file the return.


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