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Any accounting, business or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, we would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.
Filing an Amended Tax Return
What should you do if you already filed your federal tax return and then discover a mistake? First of all, don't worry. In most cases, all you have to do is file an amended tax return. But before you do that, here is what you should be aware of when filing an amended tax return.Taxpayers should us Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to file an amended (corrected) tax return. You must file the corrected tax return on paper. An amended return cannot be e-filed. Please call if you need assistance or have any questions about Form 1040X. If your changes involve the need for another schedule or form, don't forget to attach that schedule or form to the amended return.
An amended tax return should only be filed to correct errors or make changes to your original tax return. For example, you should amend to change your filing status, or to correct your income, deductions or credits. You normally do not need to file an amended return to correct math errors because the IRS automatically makes those changes for you. Also, do not file an amended return because you forgot to attach tax forms, such as W-2s or schedules. The IRS normally will mail you a request asking for those.
Generally, you must file Form 1040X within three years from the date you filed your original tax return or within two years of the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. For example, the last day for most people to file a 2012 claim for a refund is April 15, 2016. Special rules may apply to certain claims. For more information see the instructions for Form 1040X or call us.
If you are amending more than one tax return, prepare a 1040X for each return and mail them to the IRS in separate envelopes. Note the tax year of the return you are amending at the top of Form 1040X. You will find the appropriate IRS address to mail your return to in the Form 1040X instructions.
If you are filing an amended tax return to claim an additional refund, wait until you have received your original tax refund before filing Form 1040X. Amended returns take up to 16 weeks to process. You may cash your original refund check while waiting for the additional refund.
If you owe additional taxes with Form 1040X, file it and pay the tax as soon as possible to minimize interest and penalties. You can use IRS Direct Pay to pay your tax directly from your checking or savings account.
In addition, you can track the status of your amended tax return for the current year three weeks after you file. You can also check the status of amended returns for up to three prior years. To use the "Where's My Amended Return" tool on the IRS website, just enter your taxpayer identification number (usually your Social Security number), date of birth and zip code. If you have filed amended returns for more than one year, you can select each year individually to check the status of each.
Should you file an amended return after receiving a corrected Form 1095-A?
If you enrolled in qualifying Marketplace health coverage, then you have probably filed a tax return based on a Form 1095-A that you received from the Marketplace. Your Marketplace may have subsequently told you that your original Form 1095-A contained an error and sent a corrected Form 1095-A. Comparing the forms can help you determine whether you are likely to benefit from filing an amended tax return.
Specifically, you are likely to receive a larger refund or owe a smaller tax payment using the corrected Form 1095-A if the two Forms 1095-A generally show the same information, but any one of the five scenarios below is true on the corrected form.
If there were multiple differences between your original and the corrected forms or you are not sure if you would benefit from amending, you may want to consult with a tax professional. Don't hesitate to call if you need help filing an amended return or have any questions.
Claiming an Elderly Parent as a Dependent
Are you taking care of an elderly parent or relative? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 44.7 million people age 65 and older in the United States in 2013, more than 15 percent of the total population.
Whether it's driving to doctor appointments, paying for nursing home care or medical expenses, or handling their personal finances, dealing with an elderly parent or relative can be emotionally and financially draining, especially when you are taking care of your own family as well.
Fortunately, there is some good news: You may be able to claim your elderly relative as a dependent come tax time, as long as you meet certain criteria.
Here's what you should know about claiming an elderly parent or relative as a dependent.
Who qualifies as a dependent?
The IRS defines a dependent as a qualifying child or relative. A qualifying relative can be your mother, father, grandparent, stepmother, stepfather, mother-in-law, or father-in-law, for example, and can be any age.
There are four tests that must be met in order for a person to be your qualifying relative: not a qualifying child test, member of household or relationship test, gross income test, and consulting test.Not a Qualifying Child
Your parent (or relative) cannot be claimed as a qualifying child on anyone else's tax return.
He or she must be U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico; however, a parent or relative doesn't have to live with you in order to qualify as a dependent.
If your qualifying parent or relative does live with you however, you may be able to deduct a percentage of your mortgage, utilities and other expenses when you figure out the amount of money you contribute to his or her consulting.Income
To qualify as a dependent, income cannot exceed the personal exemption amount, which in 2015 is $4,000. In addition, your parent or relative, if married, cannot file a joint tax return with his or her spouse unless that joint return is filed only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid.consulting
You must provide more than half of a parent's total consulting for the year such as costs for food, housing, medical care, transportation and other necessities.
Claiming the Dependent Care Credit
You may be able to claim the child and dependent care credit if you paid work-related expenses for the care of a qualifying individual. The credit is generally a percentage of the amount of work-related expenses you paid to a care provider for the care of a qualifying individual. The percentage depends on your adjusted gross income. Work-related expenses qualifying for the credit are those paid for the care of a qualifying individual to enable you to work or actively look for work.
In addition, expenses you paid for the care of a disabled dependent may also qualify for a medical deduction (see next section). If this is the case, you must choose to take either the itemized deduction or the dependent care credit. You cannot take both.
Claiming the Medical Deduction
If you claim the deduction for medical expenses, you still must provide more than half your parent's consulting; however, your parent doesn't have to meet the income test.
The deduction is limited to medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income (7.5 percent if either you or your spouse was born before January 2, 1949), and you can include your own unreimbursed medical expenses when calculating the total amount. If, for example, your parent is in a nursing home or assisted-living facility. Any medical expenses you paid on behalf of your parent are counted toward the 10 percent figure. Food or other amenities, however, are not considered medical expenses.
What if you share caregiving responsibilities?
If you share caregiving responsibilities with a sibling or other relative, only one of you--the one proving more than 50 percent of the consulting--can claim the dependent. Be sure to discuss who is going to claim the dependent in advance to avoid running into trouble with the IRS if both of you claim the dependent on your respective tax returns.
Sometimes, however, neither caregiver pays more than 50 percent. In that case, you'll need to fill out IRS Form 2120, Multiple consulting Declaration, as long as you and your sibling both provide at least 10 percent of the consulting towards taking care of your parent.
The tax rules for claiming an elderly parent or relative are complex. If you have any questions, help is just a phone call away.
Starting a Business? Five Things You Must Know
Starting a new business is an exciting, but busy time with so much to be done and so little time to do it in. And, if you expect to have employees, there are a variety of federal and state forms and applications that will need to be completed to get your business up and running. That's where a tax professional can help.
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
The fastest way to apply for an EIN is online through the IRS website or by telephone. Applying by fax and mail generally takes one to two weeks. Please note that as of May 21, 2012 you can only apply for one EIN per day. The previous limit was 5.
State Withholding, Unemployment, and Sales Tax
Payroll Record Keeping
Form W-4 is completed by the employee and used to calculate their federal income tax withholding. This form also includes necessary information such as address and social security number.
Form I-9 must be completed by you, the employer, to verify that employees are legally permitted to work in the U.S.
If you need help setting up or completing any tax-related paperwork needed for your business, don't hesitate to call.
Start Planning Now for Next Year's Taxes
You may be tempted to forget all about your taxes once you've filed your tax return, but did you know that if you start your tax planning now, you may be able to avoid a tax surprise when you file next year?
That's right. Now is a good time to set up a system so you can keep your tax records safe and easy to find. Here are six tips to give you a leg up on next year's taxes:
1. Take action when life changes occur. Some life events can change the amount of tax you pay. Some examples that can do that include a change in marital status or the birth of a child. When they happen, you may need to change the amount of tax withheld from your pay. To do that, file a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, with your employer. Call if you need help filling out the form.
2. Report changes in circumstances to the Health Insurance Marketplace. If you enroll in insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace in 2015, you should report changes in circumstances to the Marketplace when they happen. Report events such as changes in your income or family size. Doing so will help you avoid getting too much or too little financial assistance in advance.
3. Keep tax records safe. Put your 2014 tax return and consultinging records in a safe place. If you ever need your tax return or records, it will be easy for you to get them. For example, you may need a copy of your tax return if you apply for a home loan or financial aid. You should use your tax return as a guide when you do your taxes next year.
4. Stay organized. Make tax time easier. Have your family put tax records in the same place during the year; that way you won't have to search for misplaced records when you file next year.
5. Choose your tax preparer wisely. If you want to hire a tax preparer to help you with tax planning, start your search now. If you already have a tax preparer, give him or her a call and find out which tax planning strategies you can use this year that save you money on your 2015 tax return.
6. Consider itemizing. If you claim a standard deduction on your tax return, you may be able to lower your taxes if you itemize deductions instead. A donation to charity could mean some tax savings. See the instructions for Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, for a list of deductions.
Planning now can pay off with savings at tax time next year. Call today and get a jump start on next year's taxes.
Changes Affecting your 2015 Premium Tax Credit
If you have enrolled for health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace and receive advance payments of the premium tax credit in 2015, it is important that you report changes in circumstances, such as changes in your income or family size, to your Marketplace.
Advance payments of the premium tax credit provide financial assistance to help you pay for the insurance you buy through the Marketplace. Having at least some of your credit paid in advance directly to your insurance company will reduce the out-of-pocket cost of the health insurance premiums you'll pay each month.
However, it is important to notify the Marketplace about changes in circumstances to allow the Marketplace to adjust your advance payment amount. This adjustment will decrease the likelihood of a significant difference between your advance credit payments and your actual premium tax credit. Changes in circumstances that you should report to the Marketplace include, but are not limited to:
For the full list of changes you should report, visit HealthCare.gov or call the office. If you report changes in your income or family size to the Marketplace when they happen in 2015, the advance payments will more closely match the credit amount on your 2015 federal tax return. This will help you avoid getting a smaller refund than you expected or even owing money that you did not expect to owe.
Questions about how the healthcare premium affects you and your taxes?
Help is just a phone call away!
The Facts: Medical and Dental Expenses
If you, your spouse or dependents had significant medical or dental costs in 2015, you may be able to deduct those expenses when you file your tax return. Here are eight things you should know about medical and dental expenses and other benefits.
1. You must itemize. You can only claim medical expenses that you paid for in 2015 only if you itemize on Schedule A on Form 1040. If you take the standard deduction, you can't claim these expenses.
2. Deduction is limited. You can deduct all the qualified medical costs that you paid for during the year. However, you can only deduct the amount that is more than 10 percent of your adjusted gross income. The AGI threshold is still 7.5 percent of your AGI if you or your spouse is age 65 or older. This exception will apply through December 31, 2016.
3. Expenses must have been paid in 2015. You can include medical and dental expenses you paid during the year, regardless of when the services were provided. Be sure to save your receipts and keep good records to substantiate your expenses.
4. You can't deduct reimbursed expenses. Your total medical expenses for the year must be reduced by any reimbursement. Costs reimbursed by insurance or other sources do not qualify for a deduction. Normally, it makes no difference if you receive the reimbursement or if it is paid directly to the doctor or hospital.
5. Whose expenses qualify. You may include qualified medical expenses you pay for yourself, your spouse and your dependents. Some exceptions and special rules apply to divorced or separated parents, taxpayers with a multiple consulting agreement, or those with a qualifying relative who is not your child.
6. Types of expenses that qualify. You can deduct expenses primarily paid for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease, or treatment affecting any structure or function of the body. For drugs, you can only deduct prescription medication and insulin. You can also include premiums for medical, dental and certain long-term care insurance in your expenses. And, you can also include lactation supplies.
7. Transportation costs may qualify. You may deduct transportation costs primarily for and essential to medical care that qualifies as a medical expense, including fares for a taxi, bus, train, plane or ambulance as well as tolls and parking fees. If you use your car for medical transportation, you can deduct actual out-of-pocket expenses such as gas and oil, or you can deduct the standard mileage rate for medical expenses, which is 23 cents per mile for 2015.
8. No double benefit. You can't claim a tax deduction for medical and dental expenses you paid for with funds from your Health Savings Accounts (HAS) or Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSA). Amounts paid with funds from those plans are usually tax-free. This rule prevents two tax benefits for the same expense.
Please call if you need help figuring out what qualifies as a medical or dental expense.
Education Tax Credits Help You Pay for College
Are you planning to pay for college in 2015? If so, there are two education credits that can help you with the cost of higher education. Taking advantage of these education tax credits can mean tax savings on your federal tax return by reducing the amount of tax you owe. Here are some important facts you should know about education tax credits.
American Opportunity Tax Credit:
Lifetime Learning Credit:
For both credits:
If you can't claim either of these tax credits, please call the office to see if there are other education-related tax benefits that you might be able to claim.
Tax Due Dates for June 2015
Employees who work for tips - If you received $20 or more in tips during February, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.
Individuals - If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien living and working (or on military duty) outside the United States and Puerto Rico, file Form 1040 and pay any tax, interest, and penalties due. (U.S. citizens living in the U.S. should have paid their taxes on April 15.) If you want additional time to file your return, file Form 4868 to obtain 4 additional months to file. Then file Form 1040 by October 15. However, if you are a participant in a combat zone, you may be able to further extend the filing deadline.
Individuals - Make a payment of your 2015 estimated tax if you are not paying your income tax for the year through withholding (or will not pay enough tax that way). Use Form 1040-ES. This is the second installment date for estimated tax in 2015.
Corporations - Deposit the second installment of estimated income tax for 2015. A worksheet, Form 1120-W, is available to help you estimate your tax for the year.
Employers - Nonpayroll withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in May.
Employers - Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in May.
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