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February 2018

How do I? Calculate bonus depreciation under the new tax law?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act increases bonus depreciation rate to 100 percent for property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017, and before January 1, 2023. The rate phases down thereafter. Used property, films, television shows, and theatrical productions are eligible for bonus depreciation. Property used by rate-regulated utilities, and property of certain motor vehicle, boat, and […]

January 2018

How Do I? Use Section 529 plans for elementary and secondary school tuition

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act modifies Section 529 qualified tuition plans to allow the plans to distribute up to $10,000 in tuition expenses incurred during the tax year for designated beneficiaries enrolled at a public, private, or religious elementary or secondary school. Section 529 plans used to only be allowed for college tuition, up to full tuition amounts. That […]

November 2017

How do I? Compute the Nanny Tax

Nanny tax. For purposes of federal tax, employers must withhold and pay FICA taxes (7.65%) if they paid a household employee cash wages of at least $2,000 in 2016 or in 2017 ($2,100 in 2018). Employers must pay FUTA tax (6%) if they paid total cash wages of at least $1,000 in a calendar quarter to household employees. A homeowner may […]

October 2017

How Do I? Get a payroll credit for increasing research expenses

IRS Chief Counsel, in generic legal advice (AM-2017-003), recently described when a qualified employer may take into account the payroll tax credit for increasing research activities. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act) created the payroll credit aimed at start-ups with little or no income tax liabilities. This tax break allows taxpayers to get the cash benefit of […]

September 2017

How do I? Distinguish partnerships from other arrangements

A partnership is created when persons join together with the intent to conduct unincorporated venture and share profits. Intent is determined from facts and circumstances, including the division of profits and losses, the ownership of capital, the conduct of parties, and whether a written agreement exists. Despite such nuances in the process, however, distinguishing the existence of a partnership from […]

August 2017

How Do I? Deduct student loan interest

An eligible taxpayer can deduct qualified interest on a qualified student loan for an eligible student’s qualified educational expenses at an eligible institution. The amount of the deduction is limited, and it is phased out for taxpayers whose modified adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds certain thresholds.

The maximum deduction allowed for educational loan interest is $2,500. This amount is not adjusted […]

July 2017

How do I…work-around the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) being offline?

Every year, millions of post-secondary students access the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This year, the DRT is unavailable for FAFSA filers because of cybersecurity concerns. The information needed to complete the FAFSA can be found on a previously filed federal income tax return.

FAFSA

To apply for federal student aid, an […]

June 2017

How do I? Safeguard tax benefits against natural disasters

As “hurricane season” officially begins, the IRS has released a number a tax tips, reminders and other advice to help taxpayers weather the storm of natural disasters and similar emergencies. The underlying theme for all IRS “tax tips” is that recordkeeping has generally become easier in the digital age. However, it remains the primary responsibility of the taxpayer to preserve […]

May 2017

How Do I? Differentiate tips from service charges for tax purposes

Although the employee may end up with the same amount whether something is designated a tip or a service charge, the IRS reporting requirements for the employer do differ. Basically, any amount required to be paid by a customer rather than at the customer’s discretion is considered a service charge by the IRS.

Tips

Tips are optional payments received by employees and […]

March 2017

How do I?…claim the federal fuel tax credit

The first step is to determine if you qualify for the federal fuel tax credit. The IRS has uncovered significant fraud associated with the fuel tax credit and is watching for fraudulent claims. The credit is not available to most taxpayers but only to qualified taxpayers, such as taxpayers engaged in farming. However, some ineligible taxpayers claim the credit in […]

February 2017

How Do I? Establish a profit motive for business activities

The IRS has rules that limit the deductibility of expenses and losses from a hobby or activity not engaged in for profit. If the IRS determines that an activity is not profit-driven, deductions from the activity are limited to the amount of income the activity generates. Losses from such activities cannot be used to offset other income, such as salary […]

January 2017

How do I? Know what records to discard

A new year may find a number of individuals with the pressing urge to take stock, clean house and become a bit more organized. With such a desire to declutter, a taxpayer may want to undergo a housecleaning of documents, receipts and papers that he or she may have stored over the years in the event of an IRS audit. […]

November 2016

How do I? Make tax-free gifts for tuition

With the soaring cost of college tuition rising on a yearly basis, tax-free tuition gifts to children and grandchildren can help them afford such an expensive endeavor, as well as save the generous taxpayers in gift and generation skipping taxes. Under federal law, tuition payments that are made directly to an educational institution on behalf of a student are not […]

October 2016

How do I….subordinate a federal tax lien?

A federal tax lien on real or personal property may be terminated or altered in the following ways:

The IRS must release a tax lien if the IRS determines that the tax liability has been paid or is legally unenforceable.
The IRS has discretion to discharge specific property from a tax lien in certain circumstances.
The IRS may withdraw a notice of federal […]

September 2016

How do I? Opt-in to the new partnership audit rules

The IRS has issued temporary regulations (T.D. 9780) that explain how a partnership can opt in to the new partnership audit regime that was enacted in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA). As enacted, the new audit rules will apply to partnership returns filed for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017. However, the new law allows partnerships to […]

August 2016

How do I? Substantiate meal expenses using the per-diem rate method?

An employee or self-employed individual is allowed a deduction for the costs of meals and incidental expenses while traveling away from home for business purposes. The deduction of these costs usually requires the substantiation of the costs. However, there is an optional method provided for these taxpayers that avoids keeping receipts.

The IRS publishes per diem rates that apply to different […]

July 2016

How do I: Get an extension of time to change a method of accounting?

A taxpayer changing its method of accounting must either request advance IRS consent or apply for automatic IRS consent on Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method, to make the change. Automatic consent is more favorable because the taxpayer can request the change on its return filed after the year it makes the change. A taxpayer requesting automatic consent […]

June 2016

How do I…calculate the EITC for members of the U.S. military?

To claim the EITC, a taxpayer must satisfy two tests with respect to earned income. First, the taxpayer must have some earned income. Additionally, the taxpayer’s earned income must fall within certain ranges as the credit is subject to income phaseout. As the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (or, if greater, earned income) rises beyond the phaseout threshold, the credit is […]

May 2016

How do I? Determine a residential tax credit for solar panels

Individual taxpayers may claim a nonrefundable personal tax credit for qualified residential alternative energy expenditures. The residential alternative energy credit generally is equal to 30 percent of the cost of eligible solar water heaters, solar electricity equipment, fuel cell plants, small wind energy property, and geothermal heat pump property. After 2016, the credit is available only for qualified solar electric […]

April 2016

How do I? Set up a like-kind exchange

Under Code Sec. 1031, a taxpayer can make a tax-free exchange of property held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment. The exchange must be made for other property that the taxpayer will continue to use in a trade or business or for investment. Ordinarily, the exchange is made directly with another taxpayer who holds like-kind […]

March 2016

How do I? Arrange an installment payment agreement with the IRS?

The IRS always urges taxpayers to pay their current tax liabilities when due, to avoid interest and penalties. Taxpayers who can’t pay the full amount are urged to pay as much as they can, for the same reason. But some taxpayers cannot pay their full tax liability by the normal April 15 deadline (April 18th in 2016 because of the […]

February 2016

How do I? Prove business expenses

Everyone in business must keep records. Among other things, good records will help a business prepare the business tax returns, and will support items reported on tax returns. Taxpayers also must keep their business records available for inspection by the IRS.

In order to claim any deduction, a business owner, like any taxpayer, must prove two things: what expenses were for […]

January 2016

How Do I? Elect to be taxed as an S corporation?

An S election is made by a small business corporation with the consent of its shareholders. Both the corporation and its shareholders must precisely follow the S election requirements or the election will not be valid.

Qualified corporation. A corporation qualifies as a small business corporation for S corporation purposes if the following requirements are met, regardless of the corporation’s size […]

December 2015

How Do I? Compute payroll taxes as an employer

A business that has employees must withhold income taxes on payments to each employee. Each employee must first fill out Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, and provide it to the employer. On the form the employee can claim exemptions, such as the personal exemption or an exemption for a spouse or child, and determine the number of withholding allowances […]

How Do I? Follow the new-for-2015 one-IRA rollover-per-year limit?

As most people know, a taxpayer can take a distribution from an IRA without being taxed if the taxpayer rolls over (contributes) the amount received into an IRA within 60 days. This tax-free treatment does not apply if the individual rolled over another distribution from an IRA within the one-year period ending on the day of the second distribution.

Taxpayers and […]

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