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Summer Camp and Taxes

By Stacie Kitts, CPA

Pampered Camper

This summer I had the privilege of being included in the first ever Pampered Camper Event sponsored by the Girl Scouts of Orange County.

This grown up girl event organized to raise money for the benefit of girls in Orange County included a catered gourmet meal, wine tasting, a massage, arts and crafts, horseback riding, rock climbing, archery, hiking, boating, swimming and climate controlled cabins.  Undoubtedly one of the greatest weekends ever!!!!!

Now that summer is over, I want to remind taxpayers to tell your tax preparer if you paid for the cost of day camp (sorry, overnight camp isn’t deductible) for your kids.   Below is some helpful information for parents who are working or looking for work and have children under 13.

Pampered Camper

Here are five facts the IRS wants you to know about a tax credit available for child care expenses. The Child and Dependent Care Credit is available for expenses incurred during the summer and throughout the rest of the year.

  1. The cost of day camp may count as an expense towards the child and dependent care credit. [check with your tax preparer – there are some nuances related to the type of camp]
  2. Expenses for overnight camps do not qualify.
  3. Whether your childcare provider is a sitter at your home or a daycare facility outside the home, you’ll get some tax benefit if you qualify for the credit.
  4. The credit can be up to 35 percent of your qualifying expenses, depending on your income.
  5. You may use up to $3,000 of the unreimbursed expenses paid in a year for one qualifying individual or $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals to figure the credit.

For more information check out IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses. This publication is available at www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Links:

IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses
YouTube Videos:

Summer Day Camp ExpensesEnglish  | Spanish | ASL

Read This if you Need More Time to Pay Your Taxes

The Internal Revenue Service

Katherman Kitts & CO. LLP

I can’t take credit for this headline.  But it sounds like something I would write.  Someone at the IRS thinks like me – scary thought!

 

Taxpayers who owe taxes may be relieved to know that there are some options for those who owe and can’t afford to pay the full amount right away.

Here are the top 10 things the IRS wants you to know if you need more time to pay your taxes.

1.     Taxpayers who are unable to pay all taxes due are encouraged to pay as much as possible. By paying as much as possible now, the amount of interest and penalties owed will be less.

2.     Based on the circumstances, a taxpayer could qualify for an extension of time to pay, an installment agreement, temporary delay or an Offer in Compromise.

3.     If you cannot pay the full amount, taxpayers should immediately call the number or write to the address on the bill they receive.

4.     You may want to consider financing the full payment of your tax liability through a loan. The interest rate and fees charged by a bank or credit card company are usually lower than interest and penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Code.

5.     If you cannot pay in full immediately, you may qualify for a short amount of additional time, up to 120 days, to pay in full. No fee is charged for this type of payment arrangement and this option may minimize the amount of penalties and interest you incur.

6.     You may also want to consider an installment agreement. This arrangement allows you to make monthly payments after a one-time fee of $105 is paid. If you choose to pay through a Direct Debit from your bank account, the fee is reduced to $52. Lower-income taxpayers may qualify for a reduced fee of $43.

7.     To apply for an installment agreement you can use the Online Payment Agreement application available on the IRS website; file a Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request; or call the IRS at the telephone number shown on your bill.

8.     In some cases, a taxpayer may qualify for an offer in compromise, an agreement between the taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. Generally, an offer will not be accepted if the IRS believes that the liability can be paid in full as a lump sum or through a payment agreement.

9.     Even if you set up an installment agreement, the IRS may still file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien to secure the government’s interest until you make the final payment.

10.   It is important to respond to an IRS notice. If you do not pay your tax liability in full or make an alternative payment arrangement, the IRS is entitled to take collection action.

More information on the collection process is available at http://www.irs.gov.

Links:

Ten Tax Tips For Farmers at Tax Time

A dairy farm near Oxford, New York in the Unit...

Image via Wikipedia

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).

Links:

Who Gets to Claim the Childcare Credit

By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA

You might be confused about who can claim the childcare credit……especially if you are divorced, separated, or splitting your dependents between yourself and your ex-spouse.  Maybe you are paying the childcare as part of your divorce agreement.  But hold on, paying it doesn’t necessarily get you a credit.

Here are some helpful items that will clarify who gets to claim the credit.  If you are divorced or separated, pay particular attention to the rules about custodial parents.

Basically you must be the custodial parent to get the credit.  This means that your child must have lived with you for a greater number of nights during the year.  If each parent had the child for the same number of nights, the parent who makes the most money gets the credit.

So check out this list from the IRS:

  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 are married filing 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 they were physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.
  4. The payments for care cannot be paid to your spouse, 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. However, see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses, regarding exceptions for the birth or death of a qualifying person, or a child of divorced or separated parents.  See below for a bit about Child of divorced or separated parents from Publication 503
  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. If you are a household employer, you may have to withhold and pay social security and Medicare tax and pay federal unemployment tax. For information, see Publication 926, Household Employer’s Tax Guide.

Taken from Publication 530:

Child of divorced or separated parents or parents living apart. Even if you cannot claim your child as a dependent, he or she is treated as your qualifying person if:

  • The child was under age 13 or was not physically or mentally able to care for himself or herself,
  • The child received over half of his or her support during the calendar year from one or both parents who are divorced or legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance, are separated under a written separation agreement, or lived apart at all times during the last 6 months of the calendar year,
  • The child was in the custody of one or both parents for more than half the year, and
  • You were the child’s custodial parent. The custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lived for the greater number of nights in 2010. If the child was with each parent for an equal number of nights, the custodial parent is the parent with the higher adjusted gross income. For details and an exception for a parent who works at night, see Pub. 501.

The noncustodial parent cannot treat the child as a qualifying person even if that parent is entitled to claim the child as a dependent under the special rules for a child of divorced or separated parents.

Links:

  • Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses (PDF 167K)
  • Form W-10, Dependent Care Provider’s Identification and Certification (PDF 31K)
  • Form 2441, Child and Dependent Care Expenses (PDF)
  • Form 2441 Instructions (PDF 32K)
  • Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax (PDF 2,075K)

IRS Patrol: IRS Releases Draft W-2 Form for 2011; Announces Relief for Employers (Optional Reporting of the Cost of Health Coverage in 2011)

 

Engraving of the U.S. Treasury building in 1804.

engraving of the US Treasury building in 1804

 

Stacie says:  Doesn’t good news come in three’s?  Well here is good news number two for the day – the IRS announced that it will defer the new requirement for employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan.  The reporting is now optional in 2011.

WASHINGTON — The IRS today issued a draft Form W-2 for 2011, which employers use to report wages and employee tax withholding. The IRS also announced that it will defer the new requirement for employers to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan, making that reporting by employers optional in 2011.

The draft Form W-2 includes the codes that employers may use to report the cost of coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan.  The Treasury Department and the IRS have determined that this relief is necessary to provide employers the time they need to make changes to their payroll systems or procedures in preparation for compliance with the new reporting requirement. The IRS will be publishing guidance on the new requirement later this year.

Although reporting the cost of coverage will be optional with respect to 2011, the IRS continues to stress that the amounts reportable are not taxable. Included in the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in March, the new reporting requirement is intended to be informational only, and to provide employees with greater transparency into overall health care costs.

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