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Ten Tax Tips For Farmers at Tax Time

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Farmers, does your tax preparer know these 10 important tax tips?  No?  Yes?  They should….

If you are in the business of farming, there are a number of tax issues that you should consider before filing your federal tax return. The IRS has compiled a list of 10 things that farmers may want to know before filing their federal tax return.

  1. Crop Insurance Proceeds You must include in income any crop insurance proceeds you receive as the result of crop damage. You generally include them in the year you receive them.
  2. Sales Caused by Weather-Related Condition If you sell more livestock, including poultry, than you normally would in a year because of weather-related conditions, you may be able to choose to postpone reporting the gain from selling the additional animals due to the weather until the next year.
  3. Farm Income Averaging You may be able to average all or some of your current year’s farm income by allocating it to the three prior years. This may lower your current year tax if your current year income from farming is high, and your taxable income from one or more of the three prior years was low. This method does not change your prior year tax, it only uses the prior year information to determine your current year tax.
  4. Deductible Farm Expenses The ordinary and necessary costs of operating a farm for profit are deductible business expenses.  An ordinary expense is an expense that is common and accepted in the farming business. A necessary expense is one that is appropriate for the business.
  5. Employeesand hired help You can deduct reasonable wages paid for labor hired to perform your farming operations. This would include full-time employees as well as part-time workers.
  6. Items Purchased for Resale You may be able to deduct the cost of livestock and other items purchased for resale in the year of sale. This cost includes freight charges for transporting the livestock to the farm.
  7. Net Operating Losses If your deductible expenses from operating your farm are more than your other income for the year, you may have a net operating loss. If you have a net operating loss this year, you can carry it over to other years and deduct it. You may be able to get a refund of part or all of the income tax you paid for past years, or you may be able to reduce your tax in future years.
  8. Repayment of loans You cannot deduct the repayment of a loan if the loan proceeds are used for personal expenses. However, if you use the proceeds of the loan for your farming business, you can deduct the interest that you pay on the loan.
  9. Fuel and Road Use You may be eligible to claim a credit or refund of federal excise taxes on fuel used on a farm for farming purposes.
  10. Farmers Tax Guide More information about farm income and deductions can be found in IRS Publication 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide which is available at IRS.gov or by calling the IRS at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

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The IRS Announces: No More Paper Coupons It’s Time to Learn How To Use EFTPS

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Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

It’s time for those taxpayers who are fighting the electronic age to step it up.  The IRS today issued proposed Regs to discontinue the use of paper coupons as early as next year.  If you try to send in a paper coupon after December 31, 2010, there wont be anyone at the Treasury Department to process it.  More information about the proposed Regs is presented below:

Proposed Regulations Expand the Use of Electronic Payment System and Discontinue Paper Coupons Next Year

Consistent with a Financial Management Service initiative announced in April of this year, the IRS today issued proposed regulations to significantly increase the number of electronic transactions between taxpayers and the federal government.

The proposed regulations (REG 153340-09) would eliminate the rules for making federal tax deposits by paper coupon because the paper coupon system will no longer be maintained by the Treasury Department after Dec. 31, 2010.  The proposed regulations generally maintain existing rules for depositing federal taxes through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).

Using EFTPS to make federal tax deposits provides substantial benefits to both taxpayers and the government.  EFTPS users can make tax payments 24 hours a day, seven days a week from home or the office.

Deposits can be made online with a computer or by telephone.  EFTPS also significantly reduces payment-related errors that could result in a penalty.  The system helps taxpayers schedule dates to make payments even when they are out of town or on vacation when a payment is due.  EFTPS business users can schedule payments up to 120 days in advance of the desired payment date.

Information on EFTPS, including how to enroll, can be found at EFTPS website or by calling EFTPS Customer Service at 1-800-555-4477.

Some businesses paying a minimal amount of tax may make their payments with the related tax return, instead of using EFTPS.  More details regarding taxes required to be deposited using EFTPS, dollar thresholds and other specific requirements are in the proposed regulations.

Additional Information:

  • Publication 4132, which explains the process of enrolling and paying via the Internet
  • Publication 966, The Secure Way to Pay Your Federal Taxes for Businesses and Individuals
  • Publication 4169, Tax Professional Guide to Electronic Federal Tax Payment System
  • Publication 4320, EFTPS Toolkit, which contains PDF(s) and descriptions of EFTPS educational materials and their intended target audience, and is for use by tax professionals and financial institutions to assist in educating their clients on the benefits of EFTPS.
  • Publication 4275, Express Enrollment for New Businesses
  • Electronic Payment Options Home Page
  • Joe Schmo Didn’t Think He Needed Any Tax Planning

     By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

    Joe Schmo’s [cash based] business did exceptionally well during the year. He closed the biggest deal of his life and collected a large amount of cash. Joe was very pleased with his performance and knew he deserved a reward for all his hard work.

    Now Joe had always wanted to own a BMW. The problem being, the fully loaded price of Joe’s dream car was approximately $100,000. For the first time in his professional career, Joe felt he could indulge in his dream and buy the expensive car. So sometime in the year, Joe headed to the dealership where on behalf of his company he skillfully negotiated a pretty good price on that expensive car. And by the end of the day, Joe had written a check that paid for his dream, and substantially reduced the balance in his business bank account.

    With his wealth of cash, Joe felt he should get some other things he wanted too. So one day when the summer heat was causing him to sweat through his suit, Joe decided to purchased a new air-conditioning unit along with some other building improvements for his office – the cost $50,000.  

    Joe also learned that his computer system needed an expensive overhaul, the cost of which would be approximately $75,000. Although Joe had the system installed by December, he didn’t get around to actually writing the check until January of the following year. Pulling out his checkbook, he wrote a check making sure to back date it to December 31. With that, he had successfully spent all the remaining money in his business account. 

    But was Joe worried about the lack of funds in his account? Nope. 

    Joe remembered that in previous years his tax advisor had counseled him to determine what items he needed to purchase for his business and to make sure he bought them by the end of the year. This would reduce his taxable income, and hence no income taxes would be owed. He certainly didn’t need to pay his advisor to give him the same advice each year. Spend what you make – he had no problem doing that.  

    Poor Joe, was he in for a shock. When he met with his advisor, he learned that he owed a substantial amount of tax with no way to pay it.

    “Why,” he asked his tax advisor. “I spent all the money I made. I have nothing left. How can I owe taxes?”

    “Because,” his advisor explained. “You didn’t consult with me on what things to spend your money on.”  

    As it turns out Joe didn’t understand the tax rules and therefore made poor “tax” choices. His advisor laid it out:

    1)      Because of the tax rules, only a portion of the amount that Joe had spent for his new car, and the air-conditioning unit would be deductible on his current tax return. The balance of the cost would be deducted over a number of years based on depreciation rules – sadly, the special section 179 depreciation deduction that may have applied to other purchases, and would have allowed for a greater deduction in the current year, did not apply to his purchase of the car or the air-conditioning unit.

    2)      Because Joe didn’t deliver [or mail] the check by December 31, the amount spent on the computer system would not be deductible until the next year.   

    “You know Joe, I don’t begrudge you a new car,” the advisor told him. “But had you consulted with me first, we could have figured out a better cash plan for the purchases that you made.”

    What a gloomy outcome for Joe.  

    So how about you, did you complete some tax planning or consult with your advisor about major purchases during the year?

    If not, now is the time to contact your advisor to determine how you might pay any potential tax obligation. No need to be a Joe Schmo.

    Have You Heard About Form 1099K?

    [Stacie says: If you use Paypal or another service to process credit card payments, under these proposed regulations you may be receiving a new form 1099K which will report the amount of payments processed by the service for you. Check out the proposed regs and toss in your 2 cents.]

    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service issued proposed regulations under a new statute requiring that, starting with transactions in calendar year 2011, the gross amount of payment card and third-party network transactions be reported annually to participating merchants and the IRS.

    The provision was enacted as part of the Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008 and is designed to improve voluntary tax compliance by business taxpayers and help the IRS determine whether their tax returns are correct and complete.

    “Time and time again, we have seen that better information reporting helps the tax system work better by ensuring that everyone pays what they owe,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “The new law gives us an important new tool for closing the tax gap and also provides business taxpayers better documentation to compute and report their income and expenses. The IRS will work closely with stakeholder groups to ensure a smooth implementation of this new program.”

    These proposed regulations, posted today on IRS.gov, propose rules to implement reporting of credit card, debit card and similar transactions, as well as transactions settled through third-party payment networks, such as third-party organizations that settle online transactions. The IRS also released for comment a draft version of new Form 1099K, Merchant Card and Third-Party Payments, which will be used to make these reports.

    The new law requires banks and other payment settlement entities to report payment card and third-party network transactions with their participating merchants. The IRS emphasized that individual cardholders are unaffected by this requirement, and none of the cardholder’s personal information will be shared with the IRS.

    The IRS has created Form 1099-K, which is similar to the existing Forms 1099 used to report interest, dividends and other payments. The first information return covering calendar year 2011 must be filed with the IRS and furnished to participating merchants in early 2012. Among other things, the proposed regulations describe who is required to file a return and which payment card and third-party network transactions are subject to the reporting requirement. The proposed regulations also provide numerous examples.

    The IRS welcomes comments on these proposed regulations and the draft Form 1099-K. Comments must be received by Jan. 25, 2010, and may be submitted electronically, by mail or hand delivered to the IRS. A public hearing is scheduled for Feb. 10, 2010, in Washington, D.C.
    The proposed regulations provide details on submitting comments or participating in the public hearing.

    The IRS continues to work closely with stakeholders to ensure the smooth implementation of this new information reporting program, including the mitigation of penalties in the early stages of implementation for all but particularly egregious cases.

    A Small Town and A Diabolical Marketing Strategy that Sucked Me in.

    By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

    Well, here is an epiphany – small town ‘don’t’ mean stupid…Not that I actually thought that small towns harbored unintelligent people. It’s just that sometimes a small town feels so sweet and quaint it’s easy to assume that everyone in it must be sweet and quaint too.
    You must know what I mean – picture the historical buildings, the lace curtains and the wooden board walks – all of which give off an air of – well – unsophisticated, honest, hardworking, townsfolk.
    Now as it happens, there are many such towns along US highway 395 just south of Lake Tahoe as you travel through the valley headed toward the desert. The elevation along that stretch of 395 provides for plenty of snow during the winter and lush green farmland in the summer. It really is a magnificent and beautiful drive. The way is also littered with quintessential postcard worthy small towns.

    This was exactly what I was observing when I saw the sign that sucked me in. We were driving slowly, very slowly as the speed limit was reduced to 35 mph through this particular town. And as I admired the homey almost soothing atmosphere, I spotted a sign in a cafe window framed in delicate lace curtains.

    HOMEMADE DEEP DISH PIE $4.99

    “Oh honey,” I said as I turned toward my husband clapping my hands and bouncing slightly in my seat. “Wouldn’t it be fun to stop in for some homemade pie? Can we?”

    “Of course,” he said and he immediate pulled over to search for a parking spot.

    And you know what?

    I wasn’t disappointed by the looks of the café at all. Nope – the decor was exactly how I had pictured it would be. The occasional black and white photos of days long past were hung over aging flowered wallpaper. There was a lunch counter with red stools along the back wall and wooden tables with miss-matched chairs filling the space between. Each table had a small vase holding a single daisy. It really had the perfect small town feel.

    And even though I couldn’t see into the kitchen, I knew who was back there. Yes of course – who else could it be but a sweet elderly grandmother lovingly baking her famous pie, her grey hair pulled tightly back in a bun, her flour smudged apron covering her 1950’s style dress. Sigh – I couldn’t wait for my small town – homemade – deep dish – pie experience.

    We headed toward the back and sat at the lunch counter where we found the menu tucked between the condiments. I quickly buried my nose among the greasy pages and tried to decide what type of pie sounded good, cherry, apple, peach, strawberry. I didn’t notice the waitress until she asked, “What can I get you?”

    “I think I will have a piece of cherry….,” I began as I glanced up into the face of a young woman who had several facial piercings and hair colored a very unnatural shade of red.” …Pie,” I finished.

    Okay, so fine, the waitress didn’t really fit my small town fantasy. But that didn’t mean that my homemade pie wasn’t at that very moment being placed on some dainty flowered china by the grandmother in the kitchen. Right – the sign said HOMEMADE DEEP DISH PIE you know- I mean – there were lace curtains tied back with bows for heaven’s sake.

    But when a young man in a dirty apron place in front of me a small white bowl with a spoon protruding from the side, I tried to explain. “No I ordered the homemade – deep – dish – pie.”

    “Ya, cherry, this is it.” He said as he moved away. And as I stared into the bowl unable to move, all I could think was, where’s the pie lovingly made by the little grandmother in the kitchen?

    And as my husband began to giggle, I realized the horrible truth. I had just paid $4.99 for a bowl of -of – canned pie filling?

    That’s right – my homemade deep dish pie was a bowl full of canned cherry pie filling – I was completely mortified.

    But not the hubby. He wasn’t mortified at all. In fact, he thought it was funny. Worse, he actually thought it was brilliant.

    “Brilliant? Brilliant?” I stammered once I could speak. “What do you mean? I will never come back here again, this is terrible. It’s a bowl of pie filling for crying out loud.”

    “What difference does it make?” He asked. “The locals know not to order the ‘homemade’ pie. Think about all the people who blow through here on their way to some place else. Heck most people wouldn’t even slow down if they didn’t have too. The sign in the window got us to come in and buy something. They’re not worried about repeat business from the tourists. When you think about it, it’s a brilliant marketing strategy. After tax, they probably made like a 400% profit off that bowl of pie filling. Why spend the money on actual pie?”

    Why spend the money? Why? I was so disappointed that I wasn’t going to get my homemade deep-dish pie.

    But even though disillusioned, I had to admit, it was true. If not for the sign, we would never have stopped. I glanced around the room wondering how many people had been lured in by the promise of pie only to be disappointed. And then it occurred to me, how many patrons might actually be locals slyly watching from the corner of their eye – a sad and slightly twisted form of local entertainment. Who knows, maybe a few. I mean come on, a bowl of pie filling has to piss off a least a few tourists.

    But even so, I have no doubt that tucked away in some little back office is our grandma and her old accountant complete with a hand cranked adding machine bending steadily over a desk feverishly scribbling the results of some brilliant yet simple tax strategy which allows these diabolical townsfolk a way to keep all those profits from their homemade deep dish pie.

    Guidance – Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008

    Notice 2009-85 provides guidance under section 877A, which was enacted by section 301 of the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (the “Act”) and applies to individuals who expatriate on or after June 17, 2008. Section 877A generally provides that all property of a “covered expatriate” is treated as sold on the day before the individual’s expatriation date. Gain and loss from the deemed sale must be taken into account at that time (subject to a $600,000 exclusion amount, which will be indexed for inflation – Exclusion amount for 2009 is $626,000) unless the individual elects to defer payment of the tax by providing security and waiving treaty rights that would prevent assessment or collection of the deferred tax. There are special rules for deferred compensation items, specified tax deferred accounts, and interests in nongrantor trusts.

    Notice 2009-85 will be in IRB 2009-45, dated November 9, 2009.

    2010 TAX BRAKETS, STANDARD DEDUCTIONS AND OTHER 2010 ADJUSTMENTS REV PROC 2009-50

    WASHINGTON — Tax rate brackets and various tax benefits will remain unchanged or change only slightly in 2010 due to inflation, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.

    By law, the dollar amounts for a variety of tax provisions must be revised each year to keep pace with inflation. As a result, more than three dozen tax benefits are subject to inflation adjustments each year, but because recent inflation factors have been minimal, many of these benefits will remain unchanged or change only slightly for 2010.

    Key provisions affecting 2010 returns, filed by most taxpayers in early 2011, include the following:

    The value of each personal and dependency exemption available to most taxpayers is $3,650, unchanged from 2009.

    The new standard deduction for heads of household is $8,400, up from $8,350 in 2009. For other taxpayers, the standard deduction remains unchanged at $11,400 for married couples filing a joint return and $5,700 for singles and married individuals filing separately. Nearly two out of three taxpayers take the standard deduction rather than itemizing deductions, such as mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and state and local taxes.

    various tax bracket thresholds will see minor adjustments. For example, for a married couple filing a joint return the taxable income threshold separating the 15 percent bracket from the 25 percent bracket is $68,000, up from $67,900 in 2009.

    The annual gift tax exclusion remains unchanged at $13,000.

    Details on these and other inflation adjusted items for 2010 can be found in Revenue Procedure 2009-50.

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