Accounting is a Boring Subject…

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Not everyone will master the art of accounting.

An art is the study of implementation of techniques and methods. Accountants are the artist that turn the scientific method into practical use. The art of accounting is taking those diverse ranges of human activities, studying them, and presenting the financial findings by following and implementing GAAP.

Having an accountant can drastically influence the success of your business or your finances. TaxAssurances specialize in bookkeeping, payroll, tax return preparation (both business and personal) and IRS and state tax relief.

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Chapter from TaxAssurances’ Book: Educator Expenses

The following post is a chapter in the TaxAssurances’ book, “Top 12 Tax Deductions You Might Have Missed. Tax Tips For People Who Do Their Own Federal Taxes.”

You can purchase the full book on Amazon.

Chapter 11 Educator Expenses

Every year TaxAssurances prepares tax returns for a number of people in the education profession. They all spend countless hours preparing to help educate young children. Along with that time, these educators spend their own money helping educate children. The IRS rewards that effort in a small way by providing a tax benefit.

As a result, the IRS allows teachers, instructors, counselors, principals, and aides that work at least 900 hours in elementary or secondary schools deductions of up to $250 of any unreimbursed expenses.

Those expenses include:
• books
• supplies
• computer equipment
• Other equipment that they use in the classroom.

The IRS does have these following requirements on taking these expenses as a deduction:

“Qualified expenses are deductible only to the extent a number of such expenses exceed the following amounts for the tax year:

• The interest on qualified U.S. savings bonds that you excluded from income because you paid qualified higher education expenses,

• Any distribution from a qualified tuition program that you excluded from income,

• Any tax-free withdrawals from your Coverdell education savings accounts,

• Any reimbursed expenses not reported to you in box 1 of your Form W-2 (PDF).”

For more information about the educator expense deduction, read IRS Topic 458 on the IRS.gov website.

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Mileage As a Deduction (Guest Blogger: Arlene Perry )

Hello to all my entrepreneurs who are happily making that time-consuming commitment to creating a business for themselves and a legacy for their loved ones.

You’re busy running around, from client to client or location or location while running up all those miles on your vehicle. Well I have some good news for you. Those miles can be tax deductible. And in turn, will help decrease your taxable income. Because who in their right mind wouldn’t want to have less income to report to our best friend, Uncle Sam?

Business owners, including the self-employed, are allowed to deduct the mileage used for business. To do so, they have to use either the current IRS rate of 54 cents per mile or the business portion of their actual auto expenses. Expenses like gas, car payments and insurance. Whatever method they decide to use, they must have good, accurate, written records maintained and produced if ever the IRS should audit them.

The IRS does consider mileage deduction an easy target for auditing because there are strict restrictions on the type of mileage that qualifies as a deduction.

Individuals may also deduct their mileage if they are an employee who uses his or her car for business. Keep in mind though that the mileage Can’t Include Commuting To And From Work And Can’t Be Reimbursed By Your Employer. Here’s what Mileage can be deducted:

 Travel between 2 different work locations
 Travel to temporary work location (less than 1 year) from your home
 Travel for business related work errands, (ex. Banking, Purchasing Supplies, Setting up work events)
 Travel for clients’ meetings, both self-employed and employees
 Travel for business meetings or clients’ entertainment
 Travel to airports if related to clients

*****SELF-EMPLOYED PERSONS WILL CLAIM THEIR MILEAGE AS AN EXPENSE ON SCHEDULE C RATHER THAN ITEMIZING ON SCHEDULE A LIKE EMPLOYEES WILL DO****

In addition to the above rules, there are a few other things that can be beneficial to the tax payer. Here they are:

 People who are unemployed and traveling looking for work may deduct mileage to find a new job in their current occupation. BUT NOT traveling seeking employment in a new industry. They can deduct expenses paid traveling by public transportation.

 Those working full-time 39 weeks in the last 12-month period and have relocated at least 50 miles for work are entitled to claim a smaller deduction of 23 cents a mile

 For those working from home, usually the self-employed, there is no commuting mileage. So you claim all mileage traveling to business locations such as a second office or the clients’ locations.

As stated earlier in this post, it’s vital for individuals to keep accurate records when deciding to claim mileage. Audits by the IRS are unpredictable and have absolutely nothing to do with tax preparers.

Taxpayers are responsible for the upkeep of their own records. Which is why I also highly recommend they meet with a Bookkeeping or Accounting professional at least once a year. Twice for optimum benefits.

Additionally, I suggest investing in a travel log that can be obtained from any stationary store. And if individuals are technologically savvy, there are plenty of Apps available like QuickBooks Self-Employed. These will allow them to keep the records needed for the IRS if need be . They will need to show the number of miles for each trip, the date and time for each trip, the location they went to and the purpose of the trip which would include a client’s name if appropriate.

Mileage is a deduction/expense the tax payer is entitled to, but many bypass it because of the work involved. I say take every deduction you can and put in the effort because it can be worth it.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THIS SUBJECT, REVIEW IRS PUBLICATION 463 at https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p463.pdf

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Arlene Perry, Bookkeeper, MBA
Arlene@ArlenesUnlimitedServices.Com

Arlene Perry, MBA is the owner of Arlene’s Unlimited Services; a full service tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll business. Having had the business since 1998,  she serves the Manhattan and Bronx areas of New York City.

Within this time, Ms. Perry has worked with a variety of small businesses in different industries. They include security and retail as well as the bookkeeping of non-profit organizations.

Arlene graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a Masters degree in Business from Monroe College in New Rochelle, New York.

Prior to returning to college, Ms. Perry worked for the City of New York as a Police Officer. While serving, she prepared the tax returns for many of her co-workers and kept the financial records of a non-profit youth group that she was a part of.

Presently, Ms. Perry is working for a great non-profit organization focusing on keeping our youth out of the prison system. She’s also creating a side Baking Business. She’s a proud member of Real Sisters Rising, M & M Projects and Administrator of a Bookkeepers and Food Groups on FaceBook.

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Chapter from TaxAssurances’ Book: Marriage

The following post is a chapter in the TaxAssurances’ book, “Top 12 Tax Deductions You Might Have Missed. Tax Tips For People Who Do Their Own Federal Taxes.”

You can purchase the full book on Amazon.

Chapter 7 Marriage

Not only is a marriage a union based on love and trust it also offers tax benefits. For instance, married couples that file their taxes together have higher standard deductions and exemptions than individuals that file single, head of household or married filing separately. As a result, married couples most likely have lower tax bills.

There are couples however that decide to file their tax returns separately. While they do have it as a option, here’s how the IRS describes what they are giving up:

• “If you choose married filing separately as your filing status, the following special rules apply. Because of these special rules, you usually pay more tax on a separate return than if you use another filing status you qualify for.

• Your tax rate generally is higher than on a joint return.

• Your exemption amount for figuring the alternative minimum tax is half that allowed on a joint return.

• You cannot take the credit for child and dependent care expenses in most cases, and the amount you can exclude from income under an employer’s dependent care assistance program is limited to $2,500 (instead of $5,000). However, if you are legally separated or living apart from your spouse, you may be able to file a separate return and still take the credit. For more information about these expenses, the credit, and the exclusion, see chapter 32.

• You cannot take the earned income credit.

• You cannot take the exclusion or credit for adoption expenses in most cases.

• You cannot take the education credits (the American opportunity credit and lifetime learning credit) or the deduction for student loan interest.

• You cannot exclude any interest income from qualified U.S. savings bonds you used for higher education expenses.

• If you lived with your spouse at any time during the tax year:

• You cannot claim the credit for the elderly or the disabled, and

• You must include in income a greater percentage (up to 85%) of any social security or equivalent railroad retirement benefits you received.

• The following credits and deductions are reduced at income levels half those for a joint return:

• The child tax credit,

• The retirement savings contributions credit,

• The deduction for personal exemptions, and

• Itemized deductions.

• Your capital loss deduction limit is $1,500 (instead of $3,000 on a joint return).

• If your spouse itemizes deductions, you cannot claim the standard deduction. If you can claim the standard deduction, your basic standard deduction is half the amount allowed on a joint return.

So as the list above suggests, if you’re married or getting married, file your tax return together. There are some real tax benefits.

For more information about being married and filing tax returns, read “Filing Status” on the IRS.gov website.

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Chapter from TaxAssurances’ Book: Child Tax Credit

The following post is a chapter in the TaxAssurances’ book, “Top 12 Tax Deductions You Might Have Missed. Tax Tips For People Who Do Their Own Federal Taxes.”

You can purchase the full book on Amazon.

Chapter 1 Child Tax Credit

Besides being a blessing to a parent’s life, children can provide some real tax benefits. There are a few to consider.

First and foremost, they increase the number of exemptions and deductions a parent can have on their tax return. That’s a great start. But in this chapter, we’ll specifically discuss the child tax credit.

The $1,000 credit per child helps lower a parent’s tax liability for the year. And parents can use the credit for each one of their children.

There are some requirements to take the child tax credit and the IRS has provided some guidance. Here’s exactly what they say:

A qualifying child for purposes of the child tax credit is a child who:
1. Is your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, adopted child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half-brother, half-sister, or a descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild, niece, or nephew),
2. Will be under age 17 at the end of the year,
3. Did not provide over half of his or her own support for the year,
4. Lived with you for more than half of the year (with certain exceptions),
5. Is claimed as a dependent on your return,
6. Does not file a joint return for the year (or files it only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid), and
7. Was a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, or a U.S. resident alien. For more information, see Pub. 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens. If the child was adopted, see Adopted child, later.

Now, it is worth noting that the IRS imposes limits on taking the credit. Also, some parents may not be able to take the credit at all. Here’s what they says about those limits specifically:

You must reduce the maximum credit amount of $1,000 for each child if either (1) or (2) applies.

1. The amount on Form 1040, line 47; Form 1040A, line 30; or Form 1040NR, line 45, is less than the credit. If this amount is zero, you cannot take this credit because there is not any tax to reduce. But you may be able to take the additional child tax credit. This credit is for certain individuals who get less than the full amount of the child tax credit. The additional child tax credit may give you a refund even if you do not owe any tax.

2. Your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) is more than the amount shown below for your filing status.
a. Married filing jointly – $110,000.
b. Single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er)
– $75,000.
c. Married filing separately – $55,000.

Now if that seems confusing don’t worry. The tax prep software works out the details for you. Just know that it is a credit that should appear on your tax return if you qualify.

So if you’re a parent that meets all of these qualifications, make sure you include all your child’s information on your tax return. It can help lower your taxes and potentially get you a larger tax refund.

For more information about the child tax credit and the additional child tax credit, read IRS Publication 972 on the IRS.gov website.

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Book Trailer for: Top 12 Tax Deductions You Might Have Missed

Here is the book trailer for the recently released, “Top 12 Tax Deductions You Might Have Missed: Tax Tips For People Who Do Their Own Federal Taxes” by TaxAssurances. We hope you like it.

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Ten Things to Know About the Child and Dependent Care Credit

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Child care is expensive. Month in and month out, parents across the country work hard to pay for childcare. Thankfully there is some tax relief from the government.

Lawmakers years ago recognized that parents needed some sort of relief from the childcare cost burden. The relief caps out at a certain amount and it doesn’t cover every dollar spent but it does help some.

Here’s IRS guidance on how to take advantage of the child and dependent care credit:

Ten Things to Know About the Child and Dependent Care Credit

If you paid someone to care for your child, spouse, or dependent last year, you may be able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit on your federal income tax return. Below are 10 things the IRS wants you to know about claiming a credit for child and dependent care expenses.

  1. The care must have been provided for one or more qualifying persons. A qualifying person is your dependent child age 12 or younger when the care was provided. Additionally, your spouse and certain other individuals who are physically or mentally incapable of self-care may also be qualifying persons. You must identify each qualifying person on your tax return.
  2. The care must have been provided so you – and your spouse if you are married filing jointly – could work or look for work.
  3. You – and your spouse if you file jointly – must have earned income from wages, salaries, tips, other taxable employee compensation or net earnings from self-employment. One spouse may be considered as having earned income if they were a full-time student or were physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.
  4. The payments for care cannot be paid to your spouse, to the parent of your qualifying person, to someone you can claim as your dependent on your return, or to your child who will not be age 19 or older by the end of the year even if he or she is not your dependent. You must identify the care provider(s) on your tax return.
  5. Your filing status must be single, married filing jointly, head of household or qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child.
  6. The qualifying person must have lived with you for more than half of 2010. There are exceptions for the birth or death of a qualifying person, or a child of divorced or separated parents. See Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
  7. The credit can be up to 35 percent of your qualifying expenses, depending upon your adjusted gross income.
  8. For 2010, you may use up to $3,000 of expenses paid in a year for one qualifying individual or $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals to figure the credit.
  9. The qualifying expenses must be reduced by the amount of any dependent care benefits provided by your employer that you deduct or exclude from your income.
  10. If you pay someone to come to your home and care for your dependent or spouse, you may be a household employer and may have to withhold and pay social security and Medicare tax and pay federal unemployment tax. See Publication 926, Household Employer’s Tax Guide.

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