Thursday, December 1, 2016

IRS Launches New Online Tool To Assist Taxpayers With Basic Account Information

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service announced today the launch of an online application that will assist taxpayers with straightforward balance inquiries in a safe, easy and convenient way.

This new and secure tool, available on IRS.gov allows taxpayers to view their IRS account balance, which will include the amount they owe for tax, penalties and interest.

Taxpayers may also continue to take advantage of the various online payment options available by accessing any of the payment features including: direct pay, pay by card and Online Payment Agreement. As part of the IRS vision for the future taxpayer experience, the IRS anticipates that other capabilities will continue to be added to this platform as they are developed and tested.

“This new tool is part of the IRS’s commitment to improve and expand taxpayer services by providing additional online taxpayer options,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The new ‘balance due’ feature, paired with the existing online payment options, will increase the availability of self-service interactions with the IRS. This will give taxpayers another way to take care of their tax obligations in a fast and secure manner.”

Before accessing the tool, taxpayers must authenticate their identities through the rigorous Secure Access process. This is a two-step authentication process, which means returning users must have their credentials (username and password) plus a security code sent as a text to their mobile phones.

Taxpayers who have registered using Secure Access for Get Transcript Online or Get an IP PIN may use their same username and password. To register for the first time, taxpayers must have an email address, a text-enabled mobile phone in the user's name and specific financial information, such as a credit card number or specific loan numbers. Taxpayers may review the Secure Access process prior to starting registration.

As part of the security process to authenticate taxpayers, the IRS will send verification, activation or security codes via email and text. The IRS warns taxpayers that it will not initiate contact via text or email asking for log-in information or personal data. The IRS texts and emails will only contain one-time codes.
In addition to this new functionality, the IRS continues to provide several self-service tools and helpful resources available on IRS.gov for individuals, businesses and tax professionals.

For help with your legal needs contact a business, tax, and health care law attorney at the offices of AttorneyBritt.

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

IRS Announces 2017 Pension Plan Limitations And 401(k) Contribution Limits


The Internal Revenue Service has announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2017.

Technical guidance detailing these items are contained in Notice 2016-62.

Highlights of changes for 2017 Include:

The income ranges for determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), to contribute to Roth IRAs, and to claim the saver’s credit all increased for 2017.

Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions.  If during the year either the taxpayer or their spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be reduced, or phased out, until it is eliminated, depending on filing status and income. (If neither the taxpayer nor their spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work, the phase-outs of the deduction do not apply.)   

   Here are the phase-out ranges for 2017:
  • For single taxpayers covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $62,000 to $72,000, up from $61,000 to $71,000.
  • For married couples filing jointly, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is $99,000 to $119,000, up from $98,000 to $118,000.
  • For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income is between $186,000 and $196,000, up from $184,000 and $194,000.
  • For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phase-out range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.
The income phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $118,000 to $133,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $117,000 to $132,000.  For married couples filing jointly, the income phase-out range is $186,000 to $196,000, up from $184,000 to $194,000.  The phase-out range for a married individual filing a separate return who makes contributions to a Roth IRA is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.

The income limit for the saver’s credit (also known as the retirement savings contributions credit) for low- and moderate-income workers is $62,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $61,500; $46,500 for heads of household, up from $46,125; and $31,000 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up from $30,750.

Highlights of limitations that remain unchanged from 2016
  • The contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $18,000.
  • The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $6,000.
  • The limit on annual contributions to an IRA remains unchanged at $5,500.  The additional catch-up contribution limit for individuals aged 50 and over is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $1,000.
Detailed description of adjusted and unchanged limitations
Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) provides for dollar limitations on benefits and contributions under qualified retirement plans.  Section 415(d) requires that the Secretary of the Treasury annually adjust these limits for cost of living increases.  Other limitations applicable to deferred compensation plans are also affected by these adjustments under Section 415.  Under Section 415(d), the adjustments are to be made following adjustment procedures similar to those used to adjust benefit amounts under Section 215(i)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act.
Effective January 1, 2017, the limitation on the annual benefit under a defined benefit plan under Section 415(b)(1)(A) is increased from $210,000 to $215,000.  For a participant who separated from service before January 1, 2017, the limitation for defined benefit plans under Section 415(b)(1)(B) is computed by multiplying the participant's compensation limitation, as adjusted through 2016, by 1.0112.

The limitation for defined contribution plans under Section 415(c)(1)(A) is increased in 2017 from $53,000 to $54,000.

The Code provides that various other dollar amounts are to be adjusted at the same time and in the same manner as the dollar limitation of Section 415(b)(1)(A).  After taking into account the applicable rounding rules, the amounts for 2017 are as follows:

The limitation under Section 402(g)(1) on the exclusion for elective deferrals described in Section 402(g)(3) remains unchanged at $18,000.
The annual compensation limit under Sections 401(a)(17), 404(l), 408(k)(3)(C), and 408(k)(6)(D)(ii) is increased from $265,000 to $270,000.

The dollar limitation under Section 416(i)(1)(A)(i) concerning the definition of key employee in a top-heavy plan is increased from $170,000 to $175,000.

The dollar amount under Section 409(o)(1)(C)(ii) for determining the maximum account balance in an employee stock ownership plan subject to a 5 year distribution period is increased from $1,070,000 to $1,080,000, while the dollar amount used to determine the lengthening of the 5 year distribution period is increased from $210,000 to $215,000.

The limitation used in the definition of highly compensated employee under Section 414(q)(1)(B) remains unchanged at $120,000.

The dollar limitation under Section 414(v)(2)(B)(i) for catch-up contributions to an applicable employer plan other than a plan described in Section 401(k)(11) or Section 408(p) for individuals aged 50 or over remains unchanged at $6,000.  The dollar limitation under Section 414(v)(2)(B)(ii) for catch-up contributions to an applicable employer plan described in Section 401(k)(11) or Section 408(p) for individuals aged 50 or over remains unchanged at $3,000.

The annual compensation limitation under Section 401(a)(17) for eligible participants in certain governmental plans that, under the plan as in effect on July 1, 1993, allowed cost of living adjustments to the compensation limitation under the plan under Section 401(a)(17) to be taken into account, is increased from $395,000 to $400,000.
The compensation amount under Section 408(k)(2)(C) regarding simplified employee pensions (SEPs) remains unchanged at $600.

The limitation under Section 408(p)(2)(E) regarding SIMPLE retirement accounts remains unchanged at $12,500.

The limitation on deferrals under Section 457(e)(15) concerning deferred compensation plans of state and local governments and tax-exempt organizations remains unchanged at $18,000.

The limitation under Section 664(g)(7) concerning the qualified gratuitous transfer of qualified employer securities to an employee stock ownership plan remains unchanged at $45,000.

The compensation amount under Section 1.61 21(f)(5)(i) of the Income Tax Regulations concerning the definition of “control employee” for fringe benefit valuation remains unchanged at $105,000.  The compensation amount under Section 1.61 21(f)(5)(iii) remains unchanged at $215,000.

The dollar limitation on premiums paid with respect to a qualifying longevity annuity contract under Section 1.401(a)(9)-6, A-17(b)(2)(i) of the Income Tax Regulations remains unchanged at $125,000.

The Code provides that the $1,000,000,000 threshold used to determine whether a multiemployer plan is a systemically important plan under Section 432(e)(9)(H)(v)(III)(aa) is adjusted using the cost-of-living adjustment provided under Section 432(e)(9)(H)(v)(III)(bb).  After taking the applicable rounding rule into account, the threshold used to determine whether a multiemployer plan is a systemically important plan under Section 432(e)(9)(H)(v)(III)(aa) remains unchanged for 2017 at $1,012,000,000.

The Code also provides that several retirement-related amounts are to be adjusted using the cost-of-living adjustment under Section 1(f)(3).  After taking the applicable rounding rules into account, the amounts for 2017 are as follows:

The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for married taxpayers filing a joint return remains unchanged at $37,000; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) remains unchanged at $40,000; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $61,500 to $62,000.

The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for taxpayers filing as head of household remains unchanged at $27,750; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) remains unchanged at $30,000; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $46,125 to $46,500.

The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(A) for determining the retirement savings contribution credit for all other taxpayers remains unchanged at $18,500; the limitation under Section 25B(b)(1)(B) remains unchanged at $20,000; and the limitation under Sections 25B(b)(1)(C) and 25B(b)(1)(D) is increased from $30,750 to $31,000.

The deductible amount under Section 219(b)(5)(A) for an individual making qualified retirement contributions remains unchanged at $5,500.

The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(i) for determining the deductible amount of an IRA contribution for taxpayers who are active participants filing a joint return or as a qualifying widow(er) increased from $98,000 to $99,000.  The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(ii) for all other taxpayers who are active participants (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) increased from $61,000 to $62,000.  If an individual or the individual’s spouse is an active participant, the applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(3)(B)(iii) for a married individual filing a separate return is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0.  The applicable dollar amount under Section 219(g)(7)(A) for a taxpayer who is not an active participant but whose spouse is an active participant is increased from $184,000 to $186,000.

The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 408A(c)(3)(B)(ii)(I) for determining the maximum Roth IRA contribution for married taxpayers filing a joint return or for taxpayers filing as a qualifying widow(er) is increased from $184,000 to $186,000.  The adjusted gross income limitation under Section 408A(c)(3)(B)(ii)(II) for all other taxpayers (other than married taxpayers filing separate returns) is increased from $117,000 to $118,000.  The applicable dollar amount under Section 408A(c)(3)(B)(ii)(III) for a married individual filing a separate return is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0.

The dollar amount under Section 430(c)(7)(D)(i)(II) used to determine excess employee compensation with respect to a single-employer defined benefit pension plan for which the special election under Section 430(c)(2)(D) has been made is increased from $1,106,000 to $1,115,000.

For help with your legal needs contact a business, tax, and health care law attorney at the offices of AttorneyBritt.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Trump vs. Clinton And Journalism Then And Now

There were reports yesterday that Journalists were escorted by police who happened to be in riot gear from the last Trump rally to their vehicles.  The journalists were afraid the ordinary average peaceful citizens that attend Trump rallies might be so incensed at the massive smear campaign being conducted by them against Trump that violence against them might erupt.

This got me thinking......

In the first half of the twentieth century and before, journalists weren't part of the establishment.  They weren't the friends and buddies of the rich and powerful.  They were journalists.  Now journalists are more interested in having cocktails and dinner with their rich and powerful friends than being real journalists.  So much so that for decades now the mainstream media have functioned as a campaign arm of the democrat party and for the Clintons in particular.

Today fearing that someone like Trump will destroy the nice cushy order that the establishment politicians and their media accomplices enjoy they are conducting an unprecedented complete and total 24 hour per day smear campaign of lies against Donald Trump.  Naturally this makes the rich and powerful members of the establishment happy, but tends to greatly upset a majority of the "regular joe" men and women who support Trump.

So that brings us to the other day and the need for riot police provided by the rich and powerful political establishment to protect these so called journalists from "the people".

Before, Journalists needed the people to protect them from the rich and powerful.  Now, these faux journalists need the rich and powerful to protect them from the people.

Dear Journalists:  If you need the rich and powerful to protect you from the people, then you aren't doing it right.

Monday, September 26, 2016

TAXPAYERS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: IRS Will Begin Using Private Debt Collection Agencies To Collect Old Tax Debts


The Internal Revenue Service announced it plans to begin private collection of certain overdue federal tax debts next spring and has selected four contractors to implement the new program.

The new program was authorized by Congress last December.

As a condition of receiving a contract, these agencies must respect taxpayer rights including, among other things, abiding by the consumer protection provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

The IRS has selected the following contractors to carry out this program:

  • CBE Group 1309 Technology Pkwy Cedar Falls, IA 50613
     
  • Conserve 200 CrossKeys Office park Fairport, NY 14450
     
  • Performant 333 N Canyons Pkwy Livermore, CA 94551
     
  • Pioneer 325 Daniel Zenker Dr Horseheads, NY 14845

These private collection agencies will work on accounts where taxpayers owe money, but the IRS is no longer actively working their accounts. Several factors contribute to the IRS assigning these accounts to private collection agencies, including older, overdue tax accounts or lack of resources preventing the IRS from working the cases.

The IRS will give each taxpayer and their representative written notice that their account is being transferred to a private collection agency. The agency will then send a second, separate letter to the taxpayer and their representative confirming this transfer.

Private collection agencies will be able to identify themselves as contractors of the IRS collecting taxes. Employees of these collection agencies must follow the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and must be courteous and respect taxpayer rights.

The IRS will do everything it can to help taxpayers avoid confusion and understand their rights and tax responsibilities, particularly in light of continual phone scams where callers impersonate IRS agents and request immediate payment.

Private collection agencies will not ask for payment on a prepaid debit card. Taxpayers will be informed about electronic payment options for taxpayers on IRS.gov/Pay Your Tax Bill. Payment by check should be payable to the U.S. Treasury and sent directly to IRS, not the private collection agency.

The IRS will continue to keep taxpayers informed about scams and provide tips for protecting themselves. The IRS encourages taxpayers to visit IRS.gov for information including the “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” page.

For more information visit the Private Debt Collection page on IRS.gov.

For help with your legal needs contact a business, tax, and health care law attorney at the offices of AttorneyBritt.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

When Are Job Hunting Expenses Income Tax Deductible ?


If you are looking for a job in the same line of work, you may be able to deduct some of your job search costs.



Here are some key tax facts you should know about when searching for a new job:

  • Same Occupation.  Your expenses must be for a job search in your current line of work. You can’t deduct expenses for a job search in a new occupation.
  • Résumé Costs.  You can deduct the cost of preparing and mailing your résumé.
  • Travel Expenses.  If you travel to look for a new job, you may be able to deduct the cost of the trip. To deduct the cost of the travel to and from the area, the trip must be mainly to look for a new job. You may still be able to deduct some costs if looking for a job is not the main purpose of the trip.
  • Placement Agency. You can deduct some job placement agency fees you pay to look for a job.
  • First Job.  You can’t deduct job search expenses if you’re looking for a job for the first time.
  • Time Between Jobs.  You can’t deduct job search expenses if there was a long break between the end of your last job and the time you began looking for a new one.
  • Reimbursed Costs.  Reimbursed expenses are not deductible.
  • Schedule A.  You normally deduct your job search expenses on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. Claim them as a miscellaneous deduction. You can deduct the total miscellaneous deductions that are more than two percent of your adjusted gross income.
  • Premium Tax Credit.  If you receive advance payments of the premium tax credit, it is important that you report changes in circumstances –  such as changes in your income, a change in eligibility for other coverage, or a change of address  –  to your Health Insurance Marketplace.  Advance payments are paid directly to your insurance company and lower the out-of-pocket cost for your health insurance premiums.  Reporting changes will help you get the proper type and amount of financial assistance so you can avoid getting too much or too little in advance.
For more on job hunting refer to Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions. You can get IRS tax forms and publications on IRS.gov/forms at any time.
IRS Tax Tips provide valuable information throughout the year. IRS.gov offers tax help and info on various topics including common tax scams, taxpayer rights and more.
IRS YouTube Videos:

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

IRS Tax Tips For Gambling Income And Losses




Gambling winnings should be reported as income on your tax return.

You must itemize deductions to deduct gambling losses, and they can be deducted only up to the amount of any gambling winnings.

If you are a casual gambler, these tax tips can help:
  1. Gambling income.  Income from gambling includes winnings from the lottery, horse racing and casinos. It also includes cash and non-cash prizes. You must report the fair market value of non-cash prizes like cars and trips.

  2. Payer tax form.  If you win, the payer may give you a Form W-2G, Certain Gambling Winnings. The payer also sends a copy of the W-2G to the IRS. The payer must issue the form based on the type of gambling, the amount you win and other factors. You’ll also get a form W-2G if the payer must withhold income tax from what you win.
     
  3. How to report winnings.  You normally report your winnings for the year on your tax return as “Other Income.” You must report all your gambling winnings as income. This is true even if you don’t get a Form W-2G.

  4. How to deduct losses.  You can deduct your gambling losses on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. The total you can deduct, however, is limited to the amount of the gambling income you report on your return.

  5. Keep gambling receipts.  Keep records of your wins and losses. This means keeping items such as a gambling log or diary, receipts, statements or tickets.
See Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income for rules on this topic. Refer to Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions for more on losses. It also lists some of the types of records you should keep. You can download and view both on IRS.gov/forms at any time.

IRS Tax Tips provide valuable information throughout the year. IRS.gov offers tax help and info on various topics including common tax scams, taxpayer rights and more.
Additional IRS Resources:
IRS YouTube Videos:
IRS Podcasts:

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Reduce IRS Taxes With Home Energy Tax Credits



Certain energy-efficient home improvements can cut your energy bills and save you money at tax time. 

Here are some key facts that you should know about home energy tax credits:



Non-Business Energy Property Credit
  • Part of this credit is worth 10 percent of the cost of certain qualified energy-saving items you added to your main home last year. This may include items such as insulation, windows, doors and roofs.
  • The other part of the credit is not a percentage of the cost. This part of the credit is for the actual cost of certain property. This may include items such as water heaters and heating and air conditioning systems. The credit amount for each type of property has a different dollar limit.
  • This credit has a maximum lifetime limit of $500. You may only use $200 of this limit for windows.
  • Your main home must be located in the U.S. to qualify for the credit.
  • Be sure you have the written certification from the manufacturer that their product qualifies for this tax credit. They usually post it on their website or include it with the product’s packaging. You can rely on it to claim the credit, but do not attach it to your return. Keep it with your tax records.
  • You must place qualifying improvements in service in your principal residence by Dec. 31, 2016.
Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit
  • This tax credit is 30 percent of the cost of alternative energy equipment installed on or in your home.
  • Qualified equipment includes solar hot water heaters, solar electric equipment, wind turbines and fuel cell property.
  • Qualified wind turbine and fuel cell property must be placed into service by Dec. 31, 2016. Hot water heaters and solar electric equipment must be placed in to service by Dec. 31, 2021.
  • The tax credit for qualified fuel cell property is limited to $500 for each one-half kilowatt of capacity. The amount for other qualified expenditures does not have a limit. If your credit is more than the tax you owe, you can carry forward the unused portion of this credit to next year’s tax return. • The home must be in the U.S. It does not have to be your main home, unless the alternative energy equipment is qualified fuel cell property.
Use Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits, to claim these credits. For more on this topic refer to the form’s instructions. You can get IRS forms on IRS.gov/forms anytime.


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