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IRS Reminds Retirees of April 1 Deadline to Take Required Retirement Plan Distributions

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The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers who turned age 70½ during 2017 that, in most cases, they must start receiving required minimum distributions (RMDs) from Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans by Sunday, April 1, 2018.

The April 1 deadline applies to all employer-sponsored retirement plans, including profit-sharing plans, 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans and 457(b) plans. The RMD rules also apply to traditional IRAs and IRA-based plans such as SEPs, SARSEPs, and SIMPLE IRAs, however, they do not apply to ROTH IRAs.

The April 1 RMD deadline only applies to the required distribution for the first year. For all subsequent years, including the year in which recipients were paid the first RMD by April 1, the RMD must be made by Dec. 31. A taxpayer who turned 70½ in 2017 and receives the first required distribution (for 2017) on April 1, 2018, for example, must still receive the second RMD by Dec. 31, 2018.

Affected taxpayers who turned 70½ during 2017 must figure the RMD for the first year using the life expectancy as of their birthday in 2017 and their account balance on Dec. […]

By |March 15th, 2018|irs, retirement|0 Comments

FTB Issuing Late Filing Penalties, Despite Extension Due to Fires

We have had clients receive  FTB notices with a much larger late filing penalty than it should be, despite being extended due to the fires. We spoke to the FTB, and they said that their system is not picking up the zip codes,  and therefore notices are being issued with the late filing penalty. They suggest calling in and the account will be flagged to auto adjust once they fix their system (IT is updating their coding) but temporarily they are placing holds on those accounts after you call in.  Please be aware of this and contact your Linkenheimer CPA if you get a notice and don’t just pay it, as this may complicate the adjustment process. We will keep you updated and let you know once the FTB has resolved the issue. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact us.

By |March 14th, 2018|california, disaster, ftb|0 Comments

IRS Releases Updated Withholdings Calculator and 2018 W-4 Form

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The IRS has completed updating its online withholding calculator that individual taxpayers can use to determine how many withholding allowances they should claim for 2018. The IRS also issued a new 2018 Form W-4Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. The IRS had previously announced that taxpayers could use the old 2017 Form W-4, as modified in Notice 2018-14, until 30 days after the new form was issued.

The calculator and new Form W-4 are designed to implement changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (passed earlier this year), which increased the standard deduction, removed personal exemptions, increased the child tax credit, limited or discontinued certain deductions, and changed the tax rates and brackets, among many other changes.

To use the calculator, taxpayers should have certain information available, including an estimate of their 2018 income and other items that affect their taxes, including the number of children claimed for the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit. The IRS emphasized that the calculator is used to compute the amount of tax to be withheld in 2018, not for 2017. […]

By |March 2nd, 2018|irs, New Tax Laws, withhold|0 Comments

Fringe Benefits – Transportation Updates

In years prior to the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress encouraged “green”efforts to protect the environment by giving employees tax breaks for carpooling and using mass transit. For employees, the TCJA doesn’t take away the tax-favored status of these commuting benefits (other than bicycle commuting) or the option to pay for them with pre-tax dollars. Instead, starting January 1, 2018 businesses can no longer take a deduction for transportation fringe benefits (including employee parking). This means for both profit and non-profit businesses, the cost of providing these benefits is generally increased by the corporate tax rate (21% as of January 1, 2018).

This poses a dilemma for employers. Either they continue to provide these transportation fringe benefits despite the loss of the business deduction or they discontinue making these benefits available. This will cause businesses to take a careful look at the tax impact/ cost of transportation benefits against the value to their employees (and in turn, the importance of attracting and retaining talent by offering these benefits). It is also possible that local ordinances may have an impact as well:

San Francisco, California. Businesses with a location in San Francisco (including nonprofit […]

By |March 1st, 2018|deduction, New Tax Laws|0 Comments

Disaster Relief Provisions in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018

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On February 9, Congress passed, and the President signed into law, H.R. 1892, the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018” (the Budget Act, P.L. 115-123). In addition to providing a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through March 23, this 2-year budget contains a host of tax law changes. The Act retroactively extends through 2017 over 30 so called “extender” provisions, provides a number of miscellaneous tax-related provisions, and includes tax relief to victims of the California wildfires and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

Relief from early withdrawal tax for California wildfire distribution. A distribution from a qualified retirement plan, a tax-sheltered annuity plan, an eligible deferred compensation plan of a State or local government employer, or an individual retirement arrangement (IRA) generally is included in income for the year distributed. In addition, unless an exception applies, a distribution received before age 59½ is subject to a 10% additional tax under Code Sec. 72(t) (the “early withdrawal tax”) on the amount includible in income.

In general, a distribution from an eligible retirement plan may be rolled over to another eligible retirement plan within 60 days, in which case the amount rolled over generally is not includible in income. The 60-day requirement can be waived by IRS in […]

By |February 16th, 2018|disaster, New Tax Laws, relief|0 Comments

Tax Extenders Reinstated

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In the massive budget deal passed last week, Congress has bestowed surprise tax breaks on homeowners, students and the climate conscious. There are tax breaks for mortgage insurance premiums, higher-education expenses, energy-efficient home-improvement projects and more. These were tax breaks that expired at the end of 2016, but are now back on for 2017, now that Trump has signed them into law.

The immediate good news for taxpayers: You could see additional tax savings on the tax return you’re filing now—for the 2017 tax year. Below are some highlights. For a complete list, click here. 

Tax Relief for Families and Individuals

Extension and modification of exclusion from gross income of discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness. The provision extends through 2017 the exclusion from gross income of a discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness. The provision also modifies the exclusion to apply to qualified principal residence indebtedness that is discharged pursuant to a binding written agreement entered into in 2017.

Extension of mortgage insurance premiums treated as qualified residence interest. The provision extends through 2017 the treatment of qualified mortgage insurance premiums as interest for purposes of the […]

By |February 13th, 2018|deduction, deductions, New Tax Laws, tax, tax implications|0 Comments

Reminder: Property Tax Relief Available for Those Impacted by Fires

If your property has been damaged by the recent fires, mudslides, erosion, and flash flooding you may be eligible for property tax relief. In many cases, the damaged property can be reappraised in its current condition, with some taxes refunded to the property owner. Once rebuilt, the property’s pre-damaged value will be restored.

To qualify for property tax relief, you must file a claim with your county assessors’ office within 12 months from the date of damage or destruction. The loss estimate must be at least $10,000 of current market value to qualify.

Owners of eligible property may also apply for deferral of the next property tax installment on the regular secured roll or tax payments on the supplemental roll, without penalties or interest. The disaster must be the result of a Governor-proclaimed state of emergency. When a timely claim for deferral is filed, the next property tax installment payment is deferred without penalty or interest until the county assessor has reassessed the property and a corrected tax bill has been sent to the property owner.
For further information on property tax disaster relief, please see the new Disaster Relief website with helpful […]

By |February 1st, 2018|disaster, property tax|0 Comments

IRS Releases Updated 2018 Withholding Tables

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The IRS has released updated withholding tables for 2018. The tables reflect major changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), including an increase in the standard deduction, elimination of personal exemptions, and modification of tax rates and brackets. Employers should begin using the updated tables as soon as possible, but no later than 2/15/18. Employees are not required to do anything at this time. In addition, the IRS is revising the withholding tax calculator on IRS.gov . Taxpayers are encouraged to use the calculator to adjust their withholding once it is released by the end of February. The IRS also is working on revising Form W-4, which will reflect additional changes in the TCJA. The IRS may implement further changes involving withholding in 2019 as it works with the business and payroll community to encourage employees to file new Form W-4 next year.

By |January 25th, 2018|New Tax Laws|0 Comments

Expanded Use of 529 Account Funds

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Under pre-Act law, funds in a Code Sec. 529 college savings account could only be used for qualified higher education expenses. If funds were withdrawn from the account for other purposes, each withdrawal was treated as containing a pro-rate portion of earnings and principal. The earnings portion of a non-qualified withdrawal was taxable as ordinary income and subject to a 10% additional tax unless an exception applied.

“Qualified higher education expenses” included tuition, fees, books, supplies, and required equipment, as well as reasonable room and board if the student was enrolled at least half-time. Eligible schools included colleges, universities, vocational schools, or other post-secondary schools eligible to participate in a student aid program of the Department of Education. This included nearly all accredited public, nonprofit, and proprietary (for-profit) post-secondary institutions.

New law. For distributions after Dec. 31, 2017, “qualified higher education expenses” include tuition at an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school, up to a $10,000 limit per tax year. (Code Sec. 529(c) (7), as added by Act Sec. 11032(a))

By |January 12th, 2018|college tax credit, education credit, New Tax Laws|0 Comments

AMT Retained with Higher Exemption Amounts

The alternative minimum tax (AMT) is a tax system separate from the regular tax that is intended to prevent a taxpayer with substantial income from avoiding tax liability by using various exclusions, deductions, and credits.

Under it, AMT rates are applied to AMT income determined after the taxpayer “gives back” an assortment of tax benefits. If the tax determined under these calculations exceeds the regular tax, the larger amount is owed. In computing the AMT, only alternative minimum taxable income (AMTI) above an AMT exemption amount is taken into account. The AMT exemption amount is set by statute and adjusted annually for inflation, and the exemption amounts are phased out at higher income levels.

Under pre-Act law, for 2018, the exemption amounts were scheduled to be:

(i) $86,200 for marrieds filing jointly/surviving spouses;

(ii) $55,400 for other unmarried individuals;

(iii) 50% of the marrieds-filing-jointly amount for marrieds filing separately, i.e., $43,100;

And, those exemption amounts were reduced by an amount equal to 25% of the amount by which the individual’s AMTI exceeded:

(i) $164,100 for marrieds filing jointly and surviving spouses (phase-out complete at $508,900);

(ii) $123,100 for unmarried individuals (phase-out complete at $344,700); and

(iii) 50% of the marrieds-filing-jointly amount for marrieds filing separately, i.e., $82,050 (phase-out complete at […]

By |January 12th, 2018|amt, New Tax Laws, tax deductions|0 Comments