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What is Your Taxpayer Filing Status?

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For tax purposes, December 31 means more than New Year’s Eve celebrations. It affects the filing status box that will be checked on your tax return for the year. When you file your return, you do so with one of five filing statuses, which depend in part on whether you’re married or unmarried on December 31.

More than one filing status may apply, and you can use the one that saves the most tax. It’s also possible that your status options could change during the year.

Here are the filing statuses and who can claim them:

  1. Single. This status is generally used if you’re unmarried, divorced or legally separated under a divorce or separate maintenance decree governed by state law.
  2. Married filing jointly. If you’re married, you can file a joint tax return with your spouse. If your spouse passes away, you can generally file a joint return for that year.
  3. Married filing separately. As an alternative to filing jointly, married couples can choose to file separate tax returns. In some cases, this may result in less tax owed.
  4. Head of household. Certain unmarried taxpayers may qualify to use this status and potentially pay less tax. The […]
By |November 21st, 2019|tax implications, taxpayer|0 Comments

California Grants Disaster Relief to Certain Employers

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California grants disaster relief to certain employers. The CA Employment Development Dept. is giving affected employers extra time to file state payroll reports and to deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest. This applies to employers in Amador, Glenn, Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma Counties who were directly affected by storms that began on 2/25/19. These employers may request a 60-day extension of time to accomplish these tasks. Requests must be received within 60 days of the original payment or return due dates. If you have questions about this or other filing deadlines, please contact your Linkenheimer CPA. For details: https://bit.ly/2LyrD38

By |March 13th, 2019|business, california, employer, extension|0 Comments

The 2018 Gift Tax Return Deadline is Almost Here

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Did you make large gifts to your children, grandchildren or other heirs last year? If so, it’s important to determine whether you’re required to file a 2018 gift tax return — or whether filing one would be beneficial even if it isn’t required.

Filing requirements

Generally, you must file a gift tax return for 2018 if, during the tax year, you made gifts:

  • That exceeded the $15,000-per-recipient gift tax annual exclusion (other than to your U.S. citizen spouse),
  • That you wish to split with your spouse to take advantage of your combined $30,000 annual exclusion,
  • That exceeded the $152,000 annual exclusion for gifts to a non-citizen spouse,
  • To a Section 529 college savings plan and wish to accelerate up to five years’ worth of annual exclusions ($75,000) into 2018,
  • Of future interests — such as remainder interests in a trust — regardless of the amount, or
  • Of jointly held or community property.

Keep in mind that you’ll owe gift tax only to the extent an exclusion doesn’t apply and you’ve used up your lifetime gift and estate tax exemption ($11.18 million for 2018). As you can see, some transfers require a return even if you don’t owe tax.

No return required

No […]

By |March 12th, 2019|gift tax, tax deadlines|0 Comments

Beware the Ides of March — If You Own a Pass-Through Entity

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Shakespeare’s words don’t apply just to Julius Caesar; they also apply to calendar-year partnerships, S corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) treated as partnerships or S corporations for tax purposes. Why? The Ides of March, more commonly known as March 15, is the federal income tax filing deadline for these “pass-through” entities.

Not-so-ancient history

Until the 2016 tax year, the filing deadline for partnerships was the same as that for individual taxpayers: April 15 (or shortly thereafter if April 15 fell on a weekend or holiday). One of the primary reasons for moving up the partnership filing deadline was to make it easier for owners to file their personal returns by the April filing deadline. After all, partnership (and S corporation) income passes through to the owners. The earlier date allows owners to use the information contained in the pass-through entity forms to file their personal returns.

For partnerships with fiscal year ends, tax returns are now due the 15th […]

Why You Shouldn’t Wait to File Your 2018 Income Tax Return

The IRS opened the 2018 income tax return filing season on January 28. Even if you typically don’t file until much closer to the April 15 deadline, this year consider filing as soon as you can. Why? You can potentially protect yourself from tax identity theft — and reap other benefits, too.

What is tax identity theft?

In a tax identity theft scheme, a thief uses your personal information to file a fraudulent tax return early in the filing season and claim a bogus refund.

You discover the fraud when you file your return and are informed by the IRS that the return has been rejected because one with your Social Security number has already been filed for the same tax year. While you should ultimately be able to prove that your return is the legitimate one, tax identity theft can cause major headaches to straighten out and significantly delay your refund.

Filing early may be […]

By |February 6th, 2019|fraud, New Tax Laws, taxes, w2|0 Comments

IRS Reminds Employers, Other Businesses of Jan. 31 Filing Deadline

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The Internal Revenue Service today reminds employers and other businesses of the Jan. 31 filing deadline that applies to filing wage statements and independent contractor forms with the government.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act requires employers to file their copies of Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, and Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, with the Social Security Administration by Jan. 31. The Jan. 31 deadline also applies to certain Forms 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, filed with the IRS to report non-employee compensation to independent contractors. Such payments are reported in box 7 of this form.

This deadline makes it easier for the IRS to verify income that individuals report on their tax returns and helps prevent fraud. Failure to file these forms correctly and timely may result in penalties. As always, the IRS urges employers and other businesses to take advantage of the accuracy, speed and convenience of filing these forms electronically.

An extension of time to file Forms W-2 is no longer automatic. The IRS will only […]

By |January 29th, 2019|irs, w2|0 Comments

What Will Your Marginal Income Tax Rate Be?

While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) generally reduced individual tax rates for 2018 through 2025, some taxpayers could see their taxes go up due to reductions or eliminations of certain tax breaks — and, in some cases, due to their filing status. But some may see additional tax savings due to their filing status.

Unmarried vs. married taxpayers

In an effort to further eliminate the marriage “penalty,” the TCJA made changes to some of the middle tax brackets. As a result, some single and head of household filers could be pushed into higher tax brackets more quickly than pre-TCJA. For example, the beginning of the 32% bracket for singles for 2018 is $157,501, whereas it was $191,651 for 2017 (though the rate was 33%). For heads of households, the beginning of this bracket has decreased even more significantly, to $157,501 for 2018 from $212,501 for 2017.

Married taxpayers, on the other hand, won’t be pushed into some middle brackets […]

By |January 18th, 2019|New Tax Laws, tax rate, taxpayer|0 Comments

Some California Taxpayers are Receiving Erroneous Late Notices

Some California taxpayers are receiving erroneous late notices. Taxpayers who reside in federally declared disaster areas have been granted extra time to accomplish state tax-related tasks, such as filing tax returns and paying taxes due. The CA Franchise Tax Board (FTB) has reported that, due to a systemic issue, some taxpayers who qualify for this relief have received notices assessing late-filing penalties. While the FTB works to update its system and address this issue, taxpayers can contact the FTB on its homepage and click live chat: https://bit.ly/2MG3HMz

If you have questions, you can also contact your Linkenheimer CPA.

By |October 2nd, 2018|disaster, ftb, irs, tax|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, Fire Relief Info, ftb|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