Friday, April 7, 2017

Retirement Savings Contributions


Taxpayers who contribute to a retirement plan, like a 401(k) or an IRA, may be able to claim the Saver’s Credit. This credit can help a person save for retirement and reduce taxes at the same time.

Here are some key facts about the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit:

Nonrefundable Credit. The maximum contribution is $2,000 per person. Those filing a joint return can also contribute $2,000 for the spouse. However, the credit cannot be more than the amount of tax that a taxpayer would otherwise pay in taxes. This credit will not change the amount of refundable tax credits.

Income Limits. Taxpayers may be able to claim the credit depending on their filing status and the amount of their annual income. They may be eligible for the credit on their 2016 tax return if they are:
Married filing jointly with income up to $61,500
Head of household with income up to $46,125
Married filing separately or a single taxpayer with income up to $30,750
Other Rules. Other rules that apply to the credit include:
Taxpayers must be at least 18 years of age.
They can’t have been a full-time student in 2016.
No other person can claim them as a dependent on their tax return.
Contribution Date. A taxpayer must have contributed to a 401(k) plan or similar workplace plan by the end of the year to claim this credit. However, the taxpayer may contribute to an IRA by the due date of their tax return and still have it count for 2016. The due date for most people is April 18, 2017.
Interactive Tax Assistant Tool. The ITA tool is a tax law resource that asks taxpayers a series of questions and provides a response based on the answers. Taxpayers can use Do I Qualify for the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit? to determine if they qualify to claim the Saver’s Credit.
Form 8880. File Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to claim the credit.
Free File. Any taxpayer who can claim the credit may prepare and e-file their tax returns for free using IRS Free File. The tax software will do the math and complete the right forms. Free File is available only through the IRS.gov website.

Courtesy of IRS

For more information contact Neikirk, Mahoney and Smith at 502-896-2999

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Basic Tax Tips for the Sharing Economy


If taxpayers use one of the many online platforms to rent a spare bedroom, provide car rides or a number of other goods or services, they may be involved in the sharing economy. The IRS now offers a Sharing Economy Tax Center. This site helps taxpayers find the resources they need to help them meet their tax obligations.

Here are a few key points on the sharing economy:

Taxes. Sharing economy activity is generally taxable. It does not matter whether it is only part time or a sideline business, if payments are in cash or if an information return like a Form 1099 or Form W2 is issued. The activity is taxable.
Deductions. There are some simplified options available for deducting many business expenses for those who qualify. For example, a taxpayer who uses his or her car for business often qualifies to claim the standard mileage rate, which was 54 cents per mile for 2016.
Rentals. If a taxpayer rents out his home, apartment or other dwelling but also lives in it during the year, special rules generally apply. For more about these rules, see Publication 527, Residential Rental Property (Including Rental of Vacation Homes). Taxpayers can use the Interactive Tax Assistant Tool, Is My Residential Rental Income Taxable and/or Are My Expenses Deductible? to determine if their residential rental income is taxable.
Estimated Payments. The U.S. tax system is pay-as-you-go. This means that taxpayers involved in the sharing economy often need to make estimated tax payments during the year to cover their tax obligation. These payments are due on April 15, June 15, Sept. 15 and Jan. 15. Use Form 1040-ES to figure these payments.
Payment Options. The fastest and easiest way to make estimated tax payments is through IRS Direct Pay. Or use the Treasury Department’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). 98005
Withholding. Taxpayers involved in the sharing economy who are employees at another job can often avoid making estimated tax payments by having more tax withheld from their paychecks. File Form W-4 with the employer to request additional withholding. Use the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov.

Courtesy of IRS

For more information contact Neikirk, Mahoney and Smith at 502-896-2999.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Charitable Donations


If taxpayers gave money or goods to a charity in 2016, they may be able to claim a deduction on their federal tax return. Taxpayers can use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool, Can I Deduct my Charitable Contributions?, to help determine if their charitable contributions are deductible.

Here are some important facts about charitable donations:

Qualified Charities. Taxpayers must donate to a qualified charity. Gifts to individuals, political organizations or candidates are not deductible. To check the status of a charity, use the IRS Select Check tool.

Itemize Deductions. To deduct charitable contributions, taxpayers must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions. File Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, with a federal tax return.

Benefit in Return. If taxpayers get something in return for their donation, they may have to reduce their deduction. Taxpayers can only deduct the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit received. Examples of benefits include merchandise, meals, tickets to events or other goods and services.

Type of Donation. If taxpayers give property instead of cash, their deduction amount is normally limited to the item’s fair market value. Fair market value is generally the price they would get if the property sold on the open market. If they donate used clothing and household items, those items generally must be in good condition or better. Special rules apply to cars, boats and other types of property donations.

Noncash Charitable Contributions. File Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, for all noncash gifts totaling more than $500 for the year. Complete section-A for noncash property contributions worth $5,000 or less. Complete section-B for noncash property contributions more than $5,000 and include a qualified appraisal to the return. The type of records they must keep depends on the amount and type of their donation.

Donations of $250 or More. If taxpayers donated cash or goods of $250 or more, they must have a written statement from the charity. It must show the amount of the donation and a description of any property given. It must also say whether they received any goods or services in exchange for the gift.

Courtesy of IRS

For more information contact Neikirk, Mahoney and Smith at 502-896-2999.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Last-Minute Email Scams


The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry today warned both tax professionals and taxpayers of last-minute phishing email scams, especially those requesting last-minute deposit changes for refunds or account updates.

As the 2017 tax filing season winds down to the April 18 deadline, tax-related scams of various sorts are at their peak. The IRS urged both tax professionals and taxpayers to be on guard against suspicious activity.

The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry, acting as the Security Summit, enacted many safeguards against identity theft for 2017, but cybercriminals are ever evolving and make use of sophisticated scams to trick people into divulging sensitive data.

For example, one new scam poses as taxpayers asking their tax preparer to make a last-minute change to their refund destination, often to a prepaid debit card. The IRS urges tax preparers to verbally reconfirm information with the client should they receive last-minute email request to change an address or direct deposit account for refunds.

The IRS also suggests that tax professionals change and strengthen their own email passwords to better protect their email accounts used to exchange sensitive data with clients.

Courtesy of IRS

For more information contact Neikirk, Mahoney and Smith at 502-896-2999.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tax Benefits for Higher Education



Higher education costs paid in 2016 can mean tax savings when taxpayers file their tax returns. If taxpayers, their spouses or their dependents took post-high school coursework last year, they may be eligible for a tax credit or deduction.

Here are some facts from the IRS about tax benefits for higher education.

For 2016, there are two tax credits available to help taxpayers offset the costs of higher education. The American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit may reduce the amount of income tax owed. Use Form 8863 to claim the education credits.

The American Opportunity Credit (AOC) is:


  • Worth a maximum benefit up to $2,500 per eligible student.
  • Only for the first four years at an eligible college or vocational school.
  • For students pursuing a degree or other recognized education credential.
  • For students enrolled at least half time for at least one academic period during 2016. Taxpayers can claim the AOC for a student enrolled in the first three months of 2017 as long as they paid qualified expenses in 2016.

The Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) is:


  • Worth a maximum benefit up to $2,000 per tax return, per year, no matter how many students qualify.
  • Available for all years of postsecondary education and for courses to acquire or improve job skills.
  • Available for an unlimited number of tax years

Courtesy of IRS

For more information contact Neikirk, Mahoney and Smith at 502-896-2999.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Where’s My Refund?


The Internal Revenue Service reminded taxpayers today that while more than 90 percent of federal tax refunds are issued in 21 days or less, some refunds may take longer. Many factors can affect the timing of a refund after the IRS receives the return. Also, taxpayers should take into consideration the time it takes a financial institution to post the refund to an account or for it to arrive in the mail.

The best way to check the status of a refund is online through the “Where’s My Refund?” tool at IRS.gov or via the IRS2Go mobile app.

"The majority of taxpayers receive a refund, and we understand those filers want to know when their refund will be issued. Our ‘Where’s My Refund?’ tool continues to be the best way for taxpayers to get the latest information," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

“Where’s My Refund?” can be checked 24 hours after the IRS has received an e-filed return or four weeks after receipt of a mailed paper return. "Where’s My Refund?" has a tracker that displays progress through three stages: (1) Return Received, (2) Refund Approved and (3) Refund Sent.

Courtesy of IRS

For more information contact Neikirk, Mahoney and Smith at 502-896-2999.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Winter Storm Extension


The Internal Revenue Service granted many businesses affected by this week’s severe winter storm additional time to request a six-month extension to file their 2016 federal income tax returns.  The IRS is providing this relief to victims and tax professionals affected by this week’s storm (known as Winter Storm Stella) that hit portions of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

Business taxpayers who are unable to file their tax return by today’s due date (March 15, 2017) can request an automatic extension by filing Form 7004, available on IRS.gov, on or before March 20, 2017.  Form 7004 provides a six-month extension for returns filed by partnerships (Forms 1065 and 1065B) and S corporations (Forms 1120S).

Eligible taxpayers taking advantage of this relief should write “Winter Storm Stella” on their Form 7004 extension request (if filing Form 7004 by paper).  As always, the fastest and easiest way to get an extension is to file this form electronically.

Courtesy of IRS

For more information contact Neikirk, Mahoney and Smith at 502-896-2999.