cpa

Watch Out for Tax-Related Scams

Scam alert with woman using a laptop

“Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams,” according to the IRS. Criminals can contact victims through regular mail, telephone calls and email messages. Here are just two of the scams the tax agency has seen in recent months.

  1. Fake property liens. A tax bill is sent from a fictional government agency in the mail. The fake agency may have a legitimate sounding name such as the Bureau of Tax Enforcement. The bill is accompanied by a letter threatening an IRS lien or levy based on bogus overdue taxes. (A levy is a legal seizure of property to satisfy a tax debt. A lien is a legal claim against your property to secure payment of your tax debt.)
  2. Phony calls from the IRS. In this scam, criminals impersonating IRS employees call people and tell them that, if they don’t pay back taxes they owe, they will face arrest. The thieves then demand that the taxpayers pay their tax debts with a gift card, other prepaid cards or a wire transfer.

Important reminders

If you receive a text, letter, email or phone call […]

By |October 8th, 2019|irs|0 Comments

Take Advantage of the Gift Tax Exclusion Rules

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As we head toward the gift-giving season, you may be considering giving gifts of cash or securities to your loved ones. Taxpayers can transfer substantial amounts free of gift taxes to their children and others each year through the use of the annual federal gift tax exclusion. The amount is adjusted for inflation annually. For 2019, the exclusion is $15,000.

The exclusion covers gifts that you make to each person each year. Therefore, if you have three children, you can transfer a total of $45,000 to them this year (and next year) free of federal gift taxes. If the only gifts made during the year are excluded in this way, there’s no need to file a federal gift tax return. If annual gifts exceed $15,000, the exclusion covers the first $15,000 and only the excess is taxable. Further, even taxable gifts may result in no gift tax liability thanks to the unified credit (discussed below).

Note: this discussion isn’t relevant to gifts made from one […]

By |October 1st, 2019|child, gift tax|0 Comments

The Chances of an IRS Audit are Low, But Business Owners Should be Prepared

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Many business owners ask: How can I avoid an IRS audit? The good news is that the odds against being audited are in your favor. In fiscal year 2018, the IRS audited approximately 0.6% of individuals. Businesses, large corporations and high-income individuals are more likely to be audited but, overall, audit rates are historically low.

There’s no 100% guarantee that you won’t be picked for an audit, because some tax returns are chosen randomly. However, completing your returns in a timely and accurate fashion with our firm certainly works in your favor. And it helps to know what might catch the attention of the IRS.

Audit red flags

A variety of tax-return entries may raise red flags with the IRS and may lead to an audit. Here are a few examples:

  • Significant inconsistencies between previous years’ filings and your most current filing,
  • Gross profit margin or expenses markedly different from those of other businesses in your industry, and
  • Miscalculated or unusually high deductions.

Certain types of deductions may be questioned by the IRS because there are strict record-keeping requirements for them • for example, auto and travel expense deductions. In addition, an owner-employee salary that’s inordinately higher or […]

By |September 30th, 2019|audit, business, irs|0 Comments

Are You Engaged in Internet Sales in California?

G S T concept with Quation

Are you engaged in Internet sales in California? In light of changes to sales and use tax that became effective in April, some retailers may not be certain if they must collect and pay over sales and use tax based on aspects of their businesses. The CA Dept. of Tax and Fee Administration has updated Publication 109 (Internet Sales) to add clarity on many issues. One key change is the addition of details that defines what “engaged in business” in CA means and doesn’t mean. For example, “Offering merchandise for sale over the phone, by mail order, or online will generally not, by itself, cause a retailer to be engaged in business in CA.” Go to https://bit.ly/2OClJka and scroll down. If you have questions or would like more info, please contact your Linkenheimer CPA. 

By |August 22nd, 2019|sales tax|0 Comments

The IRS is Targeting Business Transactions in Bitcoin and Other Virtual Currencies

Cryptocurrency and blockchain. Platform creation of digital currency.

Bitcoin and other forms of virtual currency are gaining popularity. But many businesses, consumers, employees and investors are still confused about how they work and how to report transactions on their federal tax returns. And the IRS just announced that it is targeting virtual currency users in a new “educational letter” campaign.

The nuts and bolts

Unlike cash or credit cards, small businesses generally don’t accept bitcoin payments for routine transactions. However, a growing number of larger retailers — and online businesses — now accept payments. Businesses can also pay employees or independent contractors with virtual currency. The trend is expected to continue, so more small businesses may soon get on board.

Bitcoin has an equivalent value in real currency. It can be digitally traded between users. You can also purchase and exchange bitcoin with real currencies (such as U.S. dollars). The most common ways to obtain bitcoin are through virtual currency ATMs […]

By |August 13th, 2019|business, irs, w2|0 Comments

New Application Period for a Valuable California Business Tax Credit

compete. wooden letters on the office desk

Coming up soon is a new application period for a valuable California business tax credit. The CA Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development has announced that, for fiscal year 2019-2020, a total of $236,808,527 in CA Competes Tax Credits is available.  Learn more about applying here:  https://bit.ly/2nxiNGc.  Applications will be accepted during the following periods: July 29 through August 19, 2019 ($90 million total); January 6 through January 27, 2020 ($75 million total); and March 9 through March 30, 2020 ($71.8 million, plus unallocated amounts from previous periods). This credit is an income or franchise tax credit available to businesses that come, stay or expand in CA. If you have questions or are interested in applying, please contact your Linkenheimer CPA.

By |July 22nd, 2019|business, tax credit|0 Comments

The Minimum Wage is to Rise in Sonoma, California

Increase the Minimum Wage

The minimum wage is to rise in Sonoma, California. The city of Sonoma will gradually increase the hourly minimum wage for both small and large employers. Here’s the schedule of hourly rates for employers with up to 25 workers: $12.50 on Jan. 1, 2020; $14.00 on Jan. 1, 2021; $15.00 on Jan. 1, 2022; and $16.00 on Jan. 1, 2023. For larger employers, the schedule of hourly rates is as follows: $13.50 on Jan. 1, 2020; $15.00 on Jan. 1, 2021; $16.00 on Jan. 1, 2022; and $17.00 in 2023. Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, the minimum wage rate for all employees will increase by 3.5%, or a percentage set by a separate Council of the City of Sonoma resolution (whichever is less). Contact your Linkenheimer CPA with your questions.

By |July 15th, 2019|business, employer|0 Comments

Volunteering for Charity: Do You Get a Tax Break?

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If you’re a volunteer who works for charity, you may be entitled to some tax breaks if you itemize deductions on your tax return. Unfortunately, they may not amount to as much as you think your generosity is worth.

Because donations to charity of cash or property generally are tax deductible for itemizers, it may seem like donations of something more valuable for many people — their time — would also be deductible. However, no tax deduction is allowed for the value of time you spend volunteering or the services you perform for a charitable organization.

It doesn’t matter if the services you provide require significant skills and experience, such as construction, which a charity would have to pay dearly for if it went out and obtained itself. You still don’t get to deduct the value of your time.

However, you potentially can deduct out-of-pocket costs associated with your volunteer work.

The basic […]

By |July 9th, 2019|charity, expensing, New Tax Laws, tax|0 Comments

Bartering: A Taxable Transaction Even if Your Business Exchanges No Cash

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Small businesses may find it beneficial to barter for goods and services instead of paying cash for them. If your business engages in bartering, be aware that the fair market value of goods that you receive in bartering is taxable income. And if you exchange services with another business, the transaction results in taxable income for both parties.

Income is also realized if services are exchanged for property. For example, if a construction firm does work for a retail business in exchange for unsold inventory, it will have income equal to the fair market value of the inventory.

Barter clubs

Many business owners join barter clubs that facilitate barter exchanges. In general, these clubs use a system of “credit units” that are awarded to members who provide goods and services. The credits can be redeemed for goods and services from other members.

Bartering is generally taxable in the year it occurs. But if […]

Consider a Roth 401(k) Plan — And Make Sure Employees Use It

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Roth 401(k) accounts have been around for 13 years now. Studies show that more employers are offering them each year. A recent study by the Plan Sponsor Council of America (PSCA) found that Roth 401(k)s are now available at 70% of employer plans, up from 55.6% of plans in 2016.

However, despite the prevalence of employers offering Roth 401(k)s, most employees aren’t choosing to contribute to them. The PSCA found that only 20% of participants who have access to a Roth 401(k) made contributions to one in 2017. Perhaps it’s because they don’t understand them.

If you offer a Roth 401(k) or you’re considering one, educate your employees about the accounts to boost participation.

A 401(k) with a twist

As the name implies, these plans are a hybrid — taking some characteristics from Roth IRAs and some from employer-sponsored 401(k)s.

An employer with a 401(k), 403(b) or governmental 457(b) plan can offer designated Roth 401(k) accounts.

As with traditional 401(k)s, eligible employees can elect to defer part of their salaries to Roth 401(k)s, subject to annual limits. The employer may choose to provide matching contributions. For 2019, a participating employee can contribute up to $19,000 ($25,000 if […]

By |May 22nd, 2019|401k, deduction, employer, ira, roth ira|0 Comments