America’s Expenses, Income & Debt for 2016

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In 2016, the federal government spent $3.8 Trillion to pay its bills (I.e. Military, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, Education etc.). Here’s how much of it was spent:

* Medicare/Medicaid  – $1.1 Trillion

* Social Security  – $976 Billion

* Dept. of Defense  – $565 Billion

* Dept. of Treasury INTEREST ONLY on our Debt – $429 Billion

Those four “items” alone account for roughly $.80 for every $1 spent by the federal government.

The other roughly $.20 combined spending goes for everything else including Education, Veterans, Homeland Security, Housing & Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Agriculture, Environmental Protection.

Department of Treasury related link

Income

The federal government also collected roughly $3.2 Trillion from taxpayers (I.e. Your paycheck).

Here’s the breakdown

Debt

Finally, over the years, the federal government has borrowed money to take care of its needs. Currently, it owes over $19.8 Trillion on its “credit cards” and “loans” combined (national debt).

Here is a real time total of what the federal government owes and who it owes it to.

As stated earlier, in 2016, the federal government used the taxes we paid to pay $429 Billion in INTEREST ONLY on the total amount it owes.

Here’s how much the national debt has grown since 2000:

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IRS Advice On How to Pay Yourself When You Have a Business

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People go into business to make money. Figuring out how to account for the money they make can be a challenge. Thankfully, the IRS has provided guidance on how to handle accounting for the money business owners make.

Here is the guidance:

The procedures for compensating yourself for your efforts in carrying on a trade or business will depend on the type of business structure you elect. Below are topics that frequently arise when new business owners ask the Internal Revenue Service questions about paying themselves.


Corporate officers

An officer of a corporation is generally an employee, but an officer who performs no services or only minor services, and who neither receives nor is entitled to receive any pay, is not considered an employee. Refer to “Who Are Employees?” in Publication 15-A, Employer’s Supplemental Tax Guide (PDF).

Partners

Partners are not employees and should not be issued a Form W-2 in lieu of Form 1065, Schedule K-1, for distributions or guaranteed payments from the partnership. Refer to partnerships for more information.

Dividend distributions

Any distribution to shareholders from earnings and profits is generally a dividend. However, a distribution is not a taxable dividend if it is a return of capital to the shareholder. Most distributions are in money, but they may also be in stock or other property. For information on shareholder reporting of dividends and other distributions, refer to Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses.

Form 1099-MISC or Form W-2

You cannot designate a worker, including yourself, as an employee or independent contractor solely by the issuance of Form W-2 or Form 1099-MISC. It does not matter whether the person works full time or part time. You use Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income (PDF) to report payments to others who are not your employees. You use Form W-2 to report wages, car allowance, and other compensation for employees.

Treating employees as nonemployees

You will be liable for social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax if you do not deduct and withhold them because you treat an employee as a nonemployee, including yourself if you are a corporate officer, and you may be liable for a  trust fund recovery penalty. Refer toPublication 15, Circular E, Employer’s Tax Guide for details about the trust fund recovery penalty orIndependent Contractor for more information on employee classification.

Shareholder loan or officer’s compensation?

A loan by a corporation to a corporate officer should include the characteristics of a loan made at arm’s length. That is, there should be a contract with a stated interest rate, a specified length of time for repayment, and a consequence for failure to repay the loan. Collateral would also be an indication of a loan. A below-market loan is a loan which provides for no interest or interest at a rate below the federal rate that applies. If a corporation issues you, as a shareholder or an employee, a below-market loan, the lender’s payment to the borrower is treated as a gift, dividend, contribution to capital, payment of wages, or other payment, depending on the substance of the transaction.

See “Below-market interest rate loans” under Employees’ Pay / Kinds of Pay / Loans or Advances in Publication 535, Business Expenses for more information.

Reasonable compensation

Because an officer of a corporation is generally an employee with wages subject to withholding, corporate officers may question what is considered reasonable compensation for the efforts they contribute to conducting their trade or business. Wages paid to you as an officer of a corporation should generally be commensurate with your duties. Refer to “Employee’s Pay, Tests for Deducting Pay” in Publication 535, Business Expenses for more information. Public libraries may have reference sources that provide averages of compensation paid for various types of services. The Internal Revenue Service may determine that adjustments must be made to the income and expenses of tax returns for both the corporation and an individual shareholder if the officer is substantially underpaid for services provided.

Draw account

If you are a sole proprietor  or partner in a partnership, the money or other forms of payment you take from your business should be accounted for in a draw account. This helps you know what amount of benefits you have taken from the business during the year. You cannot deduct the sole proprietor s own salary or any personal withdrawals made from the business.

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Mike & Karen Pence’s 2006-2015 Full Tax Returns

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Mike & Karen Pence’s 2006-2015 Full Tax Returns:

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

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Married? File Taxes Jointly

Taxes_DueDuring a recent tax filing season, a new tax client of mine openly cried at my desk because of her newly discovered $8,800 tax bill to the IRS and $2,200 tax bill to New York State. All primarily because she filed her taxes “married filing separately” instead of “married filing jointly” with her husband.

Married Filing Separately

Federal and state governments want legally married couples to file their taxes together and to encourage them governments don’t allow certain credits, deductions and exemptions for couples who file “separately.” It also puts couples who file “separately” in a higher tax bracket then those who file “jointly.”

Taxes for 1099 Independent Contract Work

My client also got the new tax bills because she worked as a 1099 independent contractor during the year outside of her normal 9-5 and did not pay taxes on that income throughout the year. $18,000 worth of self employment income.

W4 Exemptions/Allowances

To cap off her problems and to make matters worse, her job in the social services field did not take out enough in taxes every paycheck to meet her tax obligations for the year. Had she simply put zero or one on line 5 of her W-4 form, her employer would have taken out more each paycheck to meet her tax obligation.

Tax Solutions

To make my client’s life better going forward, I gave her a number of recommendations. First, I talked with her about the differences between filing separately and filing jointly. She’s going to try to work with her husband on that. Next, I gave her the necessary paperwork she’ll need to pay her estimated taxes for her self-employment.

Then, I told her to talk with her employer about changing her exemptions/allowances so she can make them as low as possible. That way more taxes are taken out of her paycheck then needed. Finally, I gave her the websites for the IRS and New York State to work out a payment plan for her outstanding debt. With all of this hopefully we’ll have a much better tax prep experience next year.

 

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Benefits Of Reviewing Prior Year Tax Returns

IRS4Did you have your tax preparer look at your returns for the last few years? It’s a good idea for taxpayers to review their returns every year. In many cases the review may reveal missed credits and deductions taxpayers may be entitled to that ultimately give them a bigger tax refund.

Review Last Three Tax Returns

This past tax season I reviewed the last three tax returns for one of my clients. In the end, she was grateful I did. Not only had she done her own tax returns without knowing all of the educational credits she was entitled to but she also received bad advice from a co-worker about the number of exemptions/allowances to claim on her paycheck.

She did take some of the educational credits she was entitled to but because she didn’t realize the true extent (and calculation) of the tax law and credit available, she didn’t take the full credit.

Positive Review Results

The review I did revealed that extra unclaimed credit and resulted in her owing the IRS $300 instead of $1900. A huge difference, especially considering she hadn’t started to pay those taxes because she didn’t have the money.

We also fixed the number of exemptions/allowances on her paycheck based on her circumstances.

Not Just “Plugging Numbers into a Computer”

After going through this review process my client realized that filing taxes was not simply “plugging numbers into a computer.” She realized that she was good at her job but when it came to tax law and taking advantage of all the credits and deductions she was entitled to, she needed an expert.

She also helped the effort by telling me everything that happened in her financial life over the past three years, no matter how small the event may have seemed. This was important because given the complexity of the American population; the IRS has built in a number of credits and deductions to help taxpayers from different walks of life. Preparers know more about these benefits than taxpayers.

In the end for many Americans preparing taxes may seem like an easy undertaking of just plugging numbers into a computer but if they are not careful, they may be missing out on credits and deductions they are entitled to. Working with a qualified tax preparer can help ensure the right credits and deductions are taken.

 

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