The IRS has issued a reminder to taxpayers of the importance of receiving and maintaining records to support their charitable donations before claiming those donations as deductions on their income tax returns. These reminders apply to charitable donations in general and for certain specific types of donation items.
If you work in an industry where you receive tip income, such as the food service industry, you should know that there are income tax implications related to that income. This article provides an overview of reporting tip income for income tax purposes.
Estimated taxes refer to the method that taxpayers use to pay income tax on income that is not subject to withholding by an employer. The most common income for which a taxpayer must pay estimated taxes is self-employment income, but income for which one must pay estimated taxes may also include alimony, awards, dividends, gains from the sale of an asset, gambling winnings, interest, and rent. Continue reading
Each year, the IRS publishes its list of the “Dirty Dozen”, the top tax scams that criminals seek to carry out. Criminals carry out the scams by taking advantage of people’s fears or misunderstanding of the tax law.
As each of us grows older and moves into retirement, we will not only earn less income, we may also find that our retirement savings are not going to stretch as far as we thought they might. Therefore, it is important to be frugal when it comes to expenses in retirement, including paying income tax.
As you gather W-2 forms, mortgage statements, and other materials to prepare your income tax return for 2014, there are certain rights afforded to every taxpayer by the IRS that you should know beforehand. The IRS formally adopted these rights, known as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, in June 2014.
The IRS is reminding taxpayers how certain taxpayers can save for retirement and receive a special tax credit known as the saver’s credit for the 2014 tax year and years going forward. Since this is a tax credit, the saver’s credit can be used to reduce the amount of tax owed or to increase the amount of a refund received.
The IRS has announced a series of cost of living adjustments for 2015 related to pension plan and 401k contribution limits for federal income tax purposes. This article provides a summary of what changes were made and why the IRS made these changes.
Why did the IRS make these cost of living adjustments for pension plans and 401k contributions?
Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code requires that the Secretary of Treasury review the pension plan and 401k contribution limits allowed for federal income tax purposes. Section 415 defines the existing thresholds allowed for these contributions and the points at which adjustments will be triggered. In addition, Section 415 requires that this review occur annually to address any cost of living increases.
Because Section 415 defines individual thresholds for each of the many types of contributions, only those contribution types that reach the criteria defined for them will be adjusted in any given year.
When do these changes go into effect?
The changes go into effect on January 1, 2015. This means that taxpayers can first take advantage of the tax savings related to making increased contributions on their tax returns due April 30, 2016.
What cost of living adjustments did the IRS make for pension plan and 401k contribution limits in 2015?
The IRS has made the following adjustments to pension plan and 401k contribution limits.
Employer Retirement Plan Contribution Limits
The elective annual contribution limit for employees who participate in an employer retirement plan has been increased from $17,500 to $18,000. This contribution increase applies to 401k, 403b, 457, and Thrift Savings Plans.
Catch-Up Contribution Limit
The catch-up contribution limit for employees who are 50 years old or older who participate in an employer retirement plan has been increased from $5,500 to $6,000. This contribution increase applies to 401k, 403b, 457, and Thrift Savings Plans.
Traditional IRA Contribution Phase Out
The thresholds have been increased for the phase out of deductions allowed for contributions to traditional IRA plans. For those filing as single or head of household, the phase out that previously occurred between $60,000 and $70,000 in adjusted gross income has been increased to between $61,000 and $71,000.
For those filing as married filing jointly, the phase out that previously occurred between $96,000 and $116,000 in adjusted gross income has been increased to between $98,000 and $118,000 for those whose spouse is covered by a workplace retirement plan when the spouse is making the contribution. For IRA contributors who are not covered by a workplace retirement plan but is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out between $183,000 and $183,000 rather than between $181,000 and $191,000.
Roth IRA Contribution Phase Out
The thresholds have been increased for the phase out of deductions allowed for contributions to Roth IRA plans. For those filing as single or head of household, the phase out that previously occurred between $114,000 and $129,000 in adjusted gross income has been increased to between $116,000 and $131,000. For those filing as married filing jointly, the phase out has been increase from between $181,000 and $191,000 to between $183,000 and $193,000.
Retirement Savings Contribution Credit
The adjusted gross income limit for the retirement savings contribution credit has been increased from $60,000 to $61,000 for those filing married filing jointly, from $45,000 to $45,750 for those filing head of household, and from $30,000 to $30,500 for those filing married filing separately.
How will these pension plan and 401k contribution limits affect me?
How these changes will affect you will depend on your individual circumstances, as the affect varies on your filing status, level of income, and the types of plans made available to you by your employer. To get help, you need to speak with a tax attorney.
A tax attorney will have the education and experience to apply these tax law changes to your situation. By completing the form below or call the number located at the top of this web site, you can get the help you need to make sure you maximize your tax savings based on these changes. Since the initial consultation is free of charge, you have every reason to make the call today.
Connect with Mark on Google+
The IRS released an alert last week about the continuing rash of telephone calls from scam artists pretending to be the IRS. The alert provided guidance on how to recognize when contact from the IRS is legitimate or is from a scam artist seeking to steal money from you.
The calls from scam artists are taking one of two forms typically. The first form is an outright demand for money. The caller will claim that you have unpaid taxes or other fees you must pay to the IRS. The caller may threaten you will additional fines or legal action in the event you do not contact them quickly and meet their demands.
The second form promises a refund. In order to obtain the refund, you must provide personal information such as your Social Security Number in order to validate your identity and your bank account information so the IRS knows where to deposit the refund. However, the scam artists will in fact use this information to take money out of your bank account and possibly commit identify theft.
In either case, the scam artists will have a well-rehearsed story. They will know enough information about you to make their demands or requests sound convincing. If they have to leave you a message, they will state that returning their call is a time sensitive matter. In addition, the caller ID information for the number from which the scam artists are calling will indicate the call is coming from the IRS.
The IRS alert made a point of emphasizing that you can easily tell the difference between a call from a scam artist and legitimate contact from the IRS if you know what to look for. The IRS outlined the signs of a scam artist in a five-point summary.
Make Contact via Telephone Call First
When the IRS needs to contact a taxpayer, the IRS always initiates the contact using an official written notice. If the first contact you receive from the IRS is via a telephone call, the call is from a scam artist.
Issue Demand for Payment without Offering Opportunity for an Appeal
When the IRS determines that a taxpayer owes money to the IRS, whether that money relates to unpaid tax liability, fines, or interest, the taxpayer will always have the opportunity to appeal the case and present evidence to support the appeal. Scam artists who demand payment will do so without offering the opportunity for you to appeal the rest. If you mention an appeal, the scam artist will likely increase the threats against you.
Specify the Type of Payment Method You Must Use
When an individual legitimately owes money to the IRS, the IRS will accept payment via a debit or credit card. In addition, the IRS may allow you to establish an installment agreement to pay the money owed over time.
In the case of a scam artist, the person will want the money immediately, often requiring that you provide payment via a prepaid debit card.
Require that You Provide Payment Information over the Phone
The IRS has established partners through which it accepts payment via credit and debit card. Although you must provide your credit or debit card information to the payment partners in order to remit payment to the IRS, these processes do not require that you provide your card information verbally.
Threaten to Arrest You
If you indicate that you are unwilling or unable to pay the money the scam artist indicates you owe, the scam artist may threaten to have the police sent to your home to have you arrested.
Although the IRS may involve law enforcement officers, the involvement of law enforcement by the IRS is in only extreme cases where an individual has shown a blatant disregard for working with the IRS over time.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to represent the IRS who is asking for money, you should not contact them using any number they may leave. Rather, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. A representative from the IRS can tell you if there is a legitimate issue with your taxes.
You can report contact from scam artists claiming to be from the IRS by visiting the FTC Complaint Assistant at FTC.gov.
Whom should I speak with if I need help addressing a legitimate issue with the IRS?
If you owe money to the IRS or have other questions about preparing your tax return, you can get help by contacting a tax attorney. A tax attorney can answer questions about completing your tax return or resolving a dispute with the IRS about money you may owe.
You can contact a tax attorney by calling the number at the top of this web site or by completing the form below. Your initial conversation with a tax attorney is free, so you have every reason to get help today.
Connect with Mark on Google+
A report released by a government investigator on Tuesday noted that the IRS paid tax credits totaling more than $13 billion to individuals who did not qualify for the payments.