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By Stacie Clifford Kitts
The proposed tax plans offered up by President Elect Trump and the House Republican Tax Reform Plan are presenting some unique year-end tax planning challenges.
The most common question that taxpayers are asking is, will tax rates be lower in 2017?
To help answer this question, we should first review how our tax rates work now.
We currently pay federal income taxes at graduated rates ranging from 10% to 39.6%. However, if you are a higher income earner making more than $125,000 (single) or $250,000 (married), you may pay an additional 3.8% tax on your net investment income, making your top federal rate 43.4%.
An analysis of Trump’s current plan, indicates that if your income is over approximately $425,400 (single) and $487,650 (married), you may (depending on your itemized deductions) see a significant reduction in income taxes under his plan.
However, middle class taxpayers may face an increase in tax depending on the size of their family and filing status. This is largely due to the Republican and Trump plans which seek to limit itemized and dependent deductions, expand income tax brackets, and repeal the personal exemption and head of household status.
To help better understand the possible impact on your taxes, here are some of the key proposals affecting higher income earners (AGI over $150K). Because the Trump and Republican plans are not the same, we will most likely see some sort of mix of the two plans:
Individual income tax
- Both Trump, and the House Republican Plan, will drop the number of income tax brackets to just three, at 12%, 25%, and 33%.
- The plan will also eliminate the alternative minimum tax (yay),
- it also eliminates all itemized deductions (boo) except mortgage interest and charitable giving.
- They have further proposed to limit the amount of total itemized deduction to $100,000 (Single) and $200,000 (Married). This proposal will reduce the tax incentive for charitable giving once your itemized deductions reach the allowed limit.
- Significantly for us here in California, state income taxes paid would no longer be deductible on Federal returns.
The top rate for long term capital gains is currently 20% plus the 3.8% investment tax imposed by the Affordable Care Act (for high income earners), for a total top rate of 23.8%. Interest and non-qualified dividend income is taxed at ordinary rates.
Trump proposes to repeal the affordable Care Act including the 3.8% tax which will cap long term capital gains at 20%.
House Republican’s Plan
On the other hand, the House’s plan would apply tax to 50% of interest income, dividends and capital gains at ordinary income tax rates. The remaining 50% would not be subject to tax. This translates to a top rate of 16.5% for investment income.
Estate and gift tax
Under current law, estates are subject to a 40% tax on the estates value over $5.45 million. In addition, beneficiaries of the estate receive a step-up in the basis of the assets value equal to the fair market value at the date of death.
Trump and the House Republican Plan propose a repeal of the estate and gift tax entirely. Trump proposes to repeal the step up in basis provision and replace it with a carryover provision for computing taxable gains on sales for estates in excess of $5 million (single) or $10 million (married). The Republican Plan provides for carryover of basis on all assets.
The top corporate tax rate is currently 35%. Income from pass-through businesses such as partnerships and S-corporations are taxed at individual rates.
- Trump’s plan would reduce top corporate income taxes from 35% to 15% and repeal corporate AMT tax.
- Individuals can elect a tax rate of 15% for business income from pass-through entities (including sole proprietorships).
- Distributions from large pass-through businesses received by owners who elected the 15% flat rate would be taxed as dividends. (included in overall personal taxable income)
- The Trump plan eliminates all tax credits (tax incentives) except the research credit.
- The plan would allow businesses to elect to expense capital equipment, structures and inventories directly rather than over time. However, if direct expense is elected, interest expense deductions would not be allowed.
House Republican’s Plan
- The Republican Plan would reduce the corporate tax to a flat 20%.
- Eliminate the corporate alternative minimum tax.
- Income from pass-through entities would top out at 25%.
- Costs of capital investments are immediately deductible
- Eliminates the deductibility of net interest expenses on future loans.
- Restricts the deduction for net operating losses to 90 percent of net taxable income and allows net operating losses to be carried forward indefinitely, and increased by a factor reflecting inflation and the real return to capital. Does not allow net operating losses to be carried back.
- Eliminates the domestic production activities deduction (section 199) and all other business credits, except for the research and development credit.
- Creates a fully territorial tax system, exempting from U.S. tax 100 percent of dividends from foreign subsidiaries.
- Enacts a deemed repatriation of currently deferred foreign profits, at a tax rate of 8.75 percent for cash and cash-equivalent profits and 3.5 percent on other profits.[Tax Foundation]
An analysis of your personal itemized deductions along with the type of income to be reported on your return, including pass through or investment income, is necessary to determine the actual impact of these proposed tax plans on your 2017 income tax. Higher income earners might consider deferring income into 2017 if possible.
When summer vacation begins, classroom learning ends for most students. Even so, summer doesn’t have to mean a complete break from learning. Students starting summer jobs have the opportunity to learn some important life lessons. Summer jobs offer students the opportunity to learn about the working world – and taxes.
Here are six things about summer jobs that the IRS wants students to know.
- As a new employee, you’ll need to fill out a Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. Employers use this form to figure how much federal income tax to withhold from workers’ paychecks. It is important to complete your W-4 form correctly so your employer withholds the right amount of taxes. You can use the IRS Withholding Calculator tool at IRS.gov to help you fill out the form.
- If you’ll receive tips as part of your income, remember that all tips you receive are taxable. Keep a daily log to record your tips. If you receive $20 or more in cash tips in any one month, you must report your tips for that month to your employer.
- Maybe you’ll earn money doing odd jobs this summer. If so, keep in mind that earnings you receive from self-employment are subject to income tax. Self-employment can include pay you get from jobs like baby-sitting and lawn mowing.
- You may not earn enough money from your summer job to owe income tax, but you will probably have to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. Your employer usually must withhold these taxes from your paycheck. Or, if you’re self-employed, you may have to pay self-employment taxes. Your payment of these taxes contributes to your coverage under the Social Security system.
- If you’re in ROTC, your active duty pay, such as pay received during summer camp, is taxable. However, the food and lodging allowances you receive in advanced training are not.
- If you’re a newspaper carrier or distributor, special rules apply to your income. Whatever your age, you are treated as self-employed for federal tax purposes if:
- You are in the business of delivering newspapers.
- Substantially all your pay for these services directly relates to sales rather than to the number of hours worked.
- You work under a written contract that states the employer will not treat you as an employee for federal tax purposes.
If you do not meet these conditions and you are under age 18, then you are usually exempt from Social Security and Medicare tax.
Visit IRS.gov, the official IRS website, for more information about income tax withholding and employment taxes.
Additional IRS Resources:
- Your First Job
- Tax Information for Students
- IRS Withholding Calculator tool
- Form W-4, Employee Withholding Allowance Certificate
- Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center
- Student’s Page – High School
- Student’s Page – Higher Education
- Frequently Asked Questions – W 4 Allowances, Excess FICA, Students, Withholding
Most types of income are taxable, but some are not. Income can include money, property or services that you receive. Here are some examples of income that are usually not taxable:
- Child support payments;
- Gifts, bequests and inheritances;
- Welfare benefits;
- Damage awards for physical injury or sickness;
- Cash rebates from a dealer or manufacturer for an item you buy; and
- Reimbursements for qualified adoption expenses.
Some income is not taxable except under certain conditions. Examples include:
- Life insurance proceeds paid to you because of an insured person’s death are usually not taxable. However, if you redeem a life insurance policy for cash, any amount that is more than the cost of the policy is taxable.
- Income you get from a qualified scholarship is normally not taxable. Amounts you use for certain costs, such as tuition and required course books, are not taxable. However, amounts used for room and board are taxable.
All income, such as wages and tips, is taxable unless the law specifically excludes it. This includes non-cash income from bartering – the exchange of property or services. Both parties must include the fair market value of goods or services received as income on their tax return.
If you received a refund, credit or offset of state or local income taxes in 2012, you may be required to report this amount. If you did not receive a 2012 Form 1099-G, check with the government agency that made the payments to you. That agency may have made the form available only in an electronic format. You will need to get instructions from the agency to retrieve this document. Report any taxable refund you received even if you did not receive Form 1099-G.
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service announced today that taxpayers will be able to start filing two major tax forms next week covering education credits and depreciation.
Starting Sunday, Feb. 10, the IRS will start processing tax returns that contain Form 4562, Depreciation and Amortization. And on Thursday, Feb. 14, the IRS plans to start processing Form 8863, Education Credits.
This step clears the way for almost all taxpayers to start filing their tax returns for 2012. These forms affected the largest groups of taxpayers who weren’t able to file following the Jan. 30 opening of the 2013 tax season.
The IRS will be able to accept the education credits and depreciation forms following the completion of reprogramming and testing of its systems. Work continues on preparing IRS systems to accept the remaining tax forms affected by the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) enacted by Congress on Jan. 2.
The IRS also announced today it will start accepting the remaining forms affected by the January legislation the first week of March. A specific date will be announced later. Most of those in this group file more complex tax returns and typically file closer to the deadline or obtain an extension. A full list of the forms that will be accepted the first week of March is available on IRS.gov.
Next week’s opening covers two groups of taxpayers using:
- Form 8863, Education Credits. Form 8863 is used to claim two higher education credits — the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.
- Form 4562, Depreciation and Amortization. Most of the people using the depreciation form tend to file later in the tax season or obtain a six-month extension. Non-1040 business filers using Form 4562 can also file starting Sunday.
For taxpayers using e-file, most software companies are now accepting tax returns with these two forms and will submit them after the IRS begins accepting them next week.
More information is available on IRS.gov.
Your children may help you qualify for valuable tax benefits, such as certain credits and deductions. If you are a parent, here are eight benefits you shouldn’t miss when filing taxes this year.
1. Dependents. In most cases, you can claim a child as a dependent even if your child was born anytime in 2012. For more information, see IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information.
2. Child Tax Credit. You may be able to claim the Child Tax Credit for each of your children that were under age 17 at the end of 2012. If you do not benefit from the full amount of the credit, you may be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit. For more information, see the instructions for Schedule 8812, Child Tax Credit, and Publication 972, Child Tax Credit.
3. Child and Dependent Care Credit. You may be able to claim this credit if you paid someone to care for your child or children under age 13, so that you could work or look for work. See IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
4. Earned Income Tax Credit. If you worked but earned less than $50,270 last year, you may qualify for EITC. If you have qualifying children, you may get up to $5,891 dollars extra back when you file a return and claim it. Use the EITC Assistant to find out if you qualify. See Publication 596, Earned Income Tax Credit.
5. Adoption Credit. You may be able to take a tax credit for certain expenses you incurred to adopt a child. For details about this credit, see the instructions for IRS Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses.
6. Higher education credits. If you paid higher education costs for yourself or another student who is an immediate family member, you may qualify for either the American Opportunity Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit. Both credits may reduce the amount of tax you owe. If the American Opportunity Credit is more than the tax you owe, you could be eligible for a refund of up to $1,000. See IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.
7. Student loan interest. You may be able to deduct interest you paid on a qualified student loan, even if you do not itemize your deductions. For more information, see IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.
8. Self-employed health insurance deduction – If you were self-employed and paid for health insurance, you may be able to deduct premiums you paid to cover your child. It applies to children under age 27 at the end of the year, even if not your dependent. See IRS.gov/aca for information on the Affordable Care Act.
It’s a good idea to have all your tax documents together before preparing your 2012 tax return. You will need your W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, which employers should send by the end of January. Give it two weeks to arrive by mail.
If you have not received your W-2, follow these three steps:
1. Contact your employer first. Ask your employer – or former employer – to send your W-2 if it has not already been sent. Make sure your employer has your correct address.
2. Contact the IRS. After February 14, you may call the IRS at 800-829-1040 if you have not yet received your W-2. Be prepared to provide your name, address, Social Security number and phone number. You should also have the following information when you call:
• Your employer’s name, address and phone number;
• Your employment dates; and
• An estimate of your wages and federal income tax withheld in 2012, based upon your final pay stub or leave-and-earnings statement, if available.
3. File your return on time. You should still file your tax return on or before April 15, 2013, even if you have not yet received your W-2. File Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, in place of the W-2. Use the form to estimate your income and withholding taxes as accurately as possible. The IRS may delay processing your return while it verifies your information.
If you need more time to file you can get a six-month extension of time. File Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File US Individual Income Tax Return. If you are requesting an extension, you must file this form on or before April 15, 2013.
If you receive the missing W-2 after filing your tax return and the information on the W-2 is different from what you reported using Form 4852, then you must correct your tax return. File Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return to amend your tax return.