In observance of the holiday our office will be closed on July 4th, 2014. We will be open for normal business hours on July 7th, 2014.
For your convenience we have put together a list of other businesses that will not be open on Independence Day:
Banks and Financial markets are closed.
Government offices, including the DMV and libraries will be closed.
Schools are closed.
Have a fun and safe independence day!
Many parents pay for childcare or day camps in the summer while they work. If this applies to you, your costs may qualify for a federal tax credit that can lower your taxes. Here are 10 facts that you should know about the Child and Dependent Care Credit:
1. Your expenses must be for the care of one or more qualifying persons. Your dependent child or children under age 13 usually qualify. For more about this rule see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
2. Your expenses for care must be work-related. This means that you must pay for the care so you can work or look for work. This rule also applies to your spouse if you file a joint return. Your spouse meets this rule during any month they are a full-time student. They also meet it if they’re physically or mentally incapable of self-care.
3. You must have earned income, such as from wages, salaries and tips. It also includes net earnings from self-employment. Your spouse must also have earned income if you file jointly. Your spouse is treated as having earned income for any month that they are a full-time student or incapable of self-care. This rule also applies to you if you file a joint return. Refer to Publication 503 for more details.
4. As a rule, if you’re married you must file a joint return to take the credit. But this rule doesn’t apply if you’re legally separated or if you and your spouse live apart.
5. You may qualify for the credit whether you pay for care at home, at a daycare facility or at a day camp.
6. The credit is a percentage of the qualified expenses you pay. It can be as much as 35 percent of your expenses, depending on your income.
7. The total expense that you can use for the credit in a year is limited. The limit is $3,000 for one qualifying person or $6,000 for two or more.
8. Overnight camp or summer school tutoring costs do not qualify. You can’t include the cost of care provided by your spouse or your child who is under age 19 at the end of the year. You also cannot count the cost of care given by a person you can claim as your dependent. Special rules apply if you get dependent care benefits from your employer.
9. Keep all your receipts and records. Make sure to note the name, address and Social Security number or employer identification number of the care provider. You must report this information when you claim the credit on your tax return.
10. Remember that this credit is not just a summer tax benefit. You may be able to claim it for care you pay for throughout the year.
For more on this topic, see Publication 503 on IRS.gov.
The Internal Revenue Service announced the successful start of its new web-based system — IRS Direct Pay — on IRS.gov, which lets taxpayers pay their tax bills or make estimated tax payments directly from checking or savings accounts without any fees or pre-registration.
“IRS Direct Pay reflects our latest effort to add more online tools to provide additional service options to help taxpayers,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “IRS Direct Pay simplifies the payment process, and taxpayers can make a payment from the convenience of a home computer.”
To date, more than 150,000 taxpayers have paid more than $340 million in taxes through the new IRS Direct Pay system. With IRS Direct Pay, taxpayers receive instant confirmation that the payment has been submitted, and the system is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Bank account information is not retained in IRS systems after payments are made.
From the “Pay Your Tax Bill” icon at the top of the IRS home page, taxpayers can access IRS Direct Pay, which walks the taxpayer through five simple steps. The steps include providing your tax information, verifying your identity, entering your payment information, reviewing and electronically signing and recording your online confirmation.
IRS Direct Pay offers 30-day advance payment scheduling, payment rescheduling or cancellations, and a payment status search. Future plans include an option for e-mailed payment confirmation, a Spanish version and one-time registration with a login and password to allow quick access on return visits.
For more information, please visit www.irs.gov.
Today is the big [tax deadline] day: April 15th, 2014. If you’re scrambling to get your tax returns or payment vouchers post dated, we have compiled a list of local post offices that will have extended hours just for this event. Please see below…
Three postal centers will be staying open until midnight to collect mail:
Los Angeles main office: 7001 S. Central Ave.
Santa Ana: 3101 W. Sunflower Ave
Santa Clarita: 28201 Franklin Parkway
Last-minute mailers should note that the Los Angeles location will only have retail service available until 10 p.m. Retail sales will stop at the Santa Ana location at 7 p.m., and at 5 p.m. in Santa Clarita.
Six other postal locations will have extended hours:
Airport Station, 9029 Airport Blvd., and the Pasadena Post Office, 600 Lincoln Ave., will be open for retail and collection service until 8 p.m.
Long Beach, 2300 Redondo Ave., will have retail service until 7 p.m. and mail collection until 10 p.m.
Industry center, 15421 E. Gale Ave., will have retail service until 6 p.m. and mail collection until 10 p.m.
Van Nuys, 15701 Sherman Way, will be open for retail service and mail collection until 9 p.m.
B&B Pharmacy contract station in Yorba Linda, 18525 Yorba Linda Blvd., will have retail service and mail collection until 10 p.m.
To find additional locations with extended hours, call 800-ASK-USPS (800-275-9777) or search the U.S. Postal Service website.
In our ongoing efforts to provide you with the best, most efficient service possible, we have implemented a new program called CPA SafeSign. This program utilizes Adobe’s EchoSign technology and allows you to review, sign, and return your annual engagement letter electronically — absolutely no printing, mailing, faxing or other paper products needed! This procedure utilizes encryption techniques to safely guard the email attachments.
We are very enthusiastic about the benefits of this system, especially once we saw how simple and straightforward it is.
This new system provides a huge leap forward in efficiency for us, as well as for you, our valued clients, all while offering the pinnacle of industry standard security. We hope that you find it to be every bit as easy to use as we think you will, and we look forward to your feedback and any questions you may have.
Dennis F. Rose
Dennis F. Rose & Associates
As you approach 65, explore your choices and pay attention to the deadlines.
These days, turning 65 doesn’t have to mean hanging up your career. But it does represent one big milestone: Medicare eligibility. In most cases, signing up for Medicare Part A is a no-brainer. This coverage pays for in-patient care in the hospital. There’s generally no premium, although you do pay a deductible and share other costs.
You can sign up as early as three months before the month in which you turn 65 and as late as three months after your 65th-birthday month. To avoid any delay in coverage, enroll before you turn 65, says Joe Baker, of the Medicare Rights Center.
At the same time, you can also enroll in Medicare Part B, which covers doctors’ visits and outpatient care. This coverage exacts a monthly premium ($104.90 for most people in 2013), plus a deductible and coinsurance. (If you’re collecting Social Security when you turn 65, you will automatically be enrolled in Part A and Part B, and the Part B premium will be deducted from your benefits.) If you still have health coverage through work or are covered by your spouse’s employer, you may be better off keeping that coverage and delaying Part B. Ask your employer for help deciding, or call Social Security at 800-772-1213.
Once you lose employer coverage, you have eight months in which to sign up for Part B (you should do so because both retiree health benefits and coverage through COBRA are secondary to Medicare as soon as you’re eligible, whether you sign up or not). If you don’t sign up for Part B within that window, you’ll have to wait until the next open-enrollment period (January 1 to March 31), and your monthly premium will permanently increase by 10% for each 12-month period you delay.
Fill in the gaps. Also consider Medicare supplement coverage, also known as medigap. These plans cover part or all of the costs you would otherwise pay under parts A and B, including deductibles and co-pays. The ten plans are labeled by letter; benefits for each are standardized, but insurers set their own premiums. The six-month initial enrollment period starts on the first day of the month in which you are 65 or older and are enrolled in Medicare Part B. During that window, you can’t be turned away by insurers because of a preexisting condition. Miss the deadline and you could end up paying more or be denied coverage altogether. The Obamacare ban on denying coverage based on preexisting conditions does not apply to Medicare.
Medicare Part D, offered through private insurers, covers prescription drugs. You pay a monthly premium and co-pays or coinsurance, and some plans also have a deductible. The plans cover you up to a certain amount each year, after which you pay a much higher share of the cost—a gap in coverage known as the doughnut hole. Once you’ve hit the maximum out-of-pocket cost for the year, your share goes way down until year-end.
You can join a Medicare drug plan during your Medicare initial enrollment period. If you don’t, and you go 63 days or more without “creditable” coverage (such as through an employer), you will pay a penalty based on the national base premium and on how long you delayed before you enrolled.
Another option: a Medicare Advantage plan, which combines medical and prescription-drug coverage and other benefits, such as coverage for vision and hearing care. These plans, offered through private insurers, generally limit your choice of providers and require more cost sharing than Part D and medigap, but premiums tend to be lower. You can enroll in a plan during your initial enrollment period or during open enrollment (October 15 to December 7). To find medigap, Part D or Medicare Advantage plans in your area and compare premiums, go to www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan.
To read read more click here.
Source: Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, December 2013
The information in this article is not intended as tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. Copyright © 2014 Emerald Connect, LLC.
The new federal budget legislation did not include any new tax provisions – or extenders to expiring tax breaks. So, even though the IRS won’t be ready for prime time until January 31, 2014, we can finalize our tax planning.
Here’s what you can still do to take advantage of expiring tax breaks:
•The $250 above-the-line deduction for school teachers – no doubt, by now, you’ve already spent more than this for your classroom and students. In fact, you probably have excess costs which you will report as itemized deductions.
•In 2013, we have a $4,000 above-the-line deduction for certain education expenses.
•The deduction for state and local sales taxes was a boon for folks living in states without an income tax. It leveled the deduction playing field with residents of states with income taxes. With this benefit about to expire, this month is a good time to buy high-ticket items that you were going to buy anyway. Like what? Buy a new car, boat or big-screen television or monitor after the Christmas rush. You’ll get a good deal (especially on last year’s models or dealer’s loaners).
•The deduction for mortgage insurance is disappearing next year. There’s not much you can do about this, except to make the January payment in December. You’ll get one final bite at that apple.
•Seniors who face the required minimum distribution rules have benefited from a special deal which has been extended repeatedly for the last couple of years. You could draw up to $100,000 from your IRA account and donate the funds directly to your favorite charity. This draw would benefit you in several ways:
- You would not have to pay taxes on the amount withdrawn.
- It would qualify as your required minimum distribution (RMD) for the year – if the amount drawn was higher than the RMD.
- It would reduce the amount in your IRA so your heirs would face somewhat less in taxes upon your death.
- Folks who normally tithe to their preferred charities could use IRA monies to fund their tithes.
- The one drawback is, there is no charitable deduction for these donations.
•Suggestion for people who don’t have a specific charity to which you’d like to make a big donation: Set up a donor-advised fund to receive the money this year. Next year, you can determine the charity or charities of your choice.
For more information on this topic you can read the full article here.
The IRS has released the 2014 optional standard mileage rates that employees, self-employed individuals, and other taxpayers can use to compute deductible costs of operating automobiles (including vans, pickups and panel trucks) for business, medical, moving and charitable purposes.
The 2014 standard mileage rate is 56 cents per mile for business uses (2013 – 56.5 cents) and 23.5 cents per mile for medical and moving uses (2013 – 24 cents). It remains at 14 cents per mile for charitable uses. For purposes of computing the allowance under an FAVR plan, the standard automobile cost may not exceed $28,200 ($30,400 for trucks and vans).
The updated rates are effective for deductible transportation expenses paid or incurred on or after January 1, 2014, and for mileage allowances or reimbursements paid to, or transportation expenses paid or incurred by, an employee or a charitable volunteer on or after January 1, 2014.
For more information please visit www.irs.gov
The federal gift tax applies to gifts of property or money while the donor is living. The federal estate tax, on the other hand, applies to property conveyed to others (with the exception of a spouse) after a person’s death.
The gift tax applies only to the donor. The recipient is under no obligation to pay the gift tax, although other taxes, such as income tax, may apply. The federal estate tax affects the estate of the deceased and can reduce the amount available to heirs.
In theory, any gift is taxable, but there are several notable exceptions. For example, gifts of tuition or medical expenses that you pay directly to a medical or educational institution for someone else are not considered taxable. Gifts to a spouse who is a U.S. citizen, gifts to a qualified charitable organization, and gifts to a political organization are also not subject to the gift tax.
You are not required to file a gift tax return unless any single gift exceeds the annual gift tax exclusion for that calendar year. The exclusion amount ($14,000 in 2013) is indexed annually for inflation. A separate exclusion is applied for each recipient. In addition, gifts from spouses are treated separately; so together, each spouse can gift an amount up to the annual exclusion amount to the same person.
Gift taxes are determined by calculating the tax on all gifts made during the tax year that exceed the annual exclusion amount, and then adding that amount to all the gift taxes from gifts above the exclusion limit from previous years. This number is then applied toward an individual’s lifetime applicable exclusion amount. If the cumulative sum exceeds the lifetime exclusion, you may owe gift taxes.
The 2010 Tax Relief Act reunified the estate and gift tax exclusions at $5 million (indexed for inflation), and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 made the higher exemption amount permanent while increasing the estate and gift tax rate to 40% (up from 35% in 2012). Because of inflation, the estate and gift tax exemption is $5.25 million in 2013. This enables individuals to make lifetime gifts up to $5.25 million in 2013 before the gift tax is imposed.
The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. © 2013 Emerald Connect, Inc.
It’s not a good sign when people raid their retirement plans to pay bills, college tuition, or auto repairs, but more workers have been borrowing from their accounts or taking hardship withdrawals in the past few years. At the end of 2010, 28% of active 401(k) participants had outstanding account loans, and another 7% took early withdrawals.1 In 2011, retirement savings account loans rose by 20% across all demographics.2
Although it’s understandable that people might turn to their retirement accounts for a source of ready cash, it is generally not a good idea. Fifty-five percent of employees who took a cash distribution when changing jobs said they regretted having done it.3
Keep Your Money Working
With certain exceptions (explained later), a 10% federal income tax penalty applies to early withdrawals (before age 59½) from tax-deferred plans such as IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans. That’s a significant deterrent in itself, but the greater penalty could be the loss of future earnings needed for retirement.
Consider the impact of a $10,000 early withdrawal from a traditional IRA. Not only could the distribution be subject to the penalty ($1,000) but also income taxes ($2,800 for someone in the 28% tax bracket), which could leave a net amount of $6,200. On the other hand, if the $10,000 principal was left in the tax-deferred account, in 20 years it would have the potential to more than triple, assuming a 6% average annual return; in 30 years, it might reach $60,000 (see graph). This hypothetical example is used for illustrative purposes only and does not reflect the performance of any specific investment; actual results will vary.
If you change jobs, you may be able to leave your retirement account assets in your former employer’s plan. Another option is to roll the assets to a traditional IRA. A properly executed trustee-to-trustee transfer to your own IRA could help preserve the tax-deferred status of the funds and potentially avoid unwanted current tax consequences and penalties. It may also give you more control of the assets, open up additional investment options, and help you manage overhead costs.
Exceptions to the Penalty
If life deals you a bad hand, or you have other reasons to access your retirement funds earlier than planned, there are circumstances in which the penalty is waived on early withdrawals before age 59½ (although distributions would still be subject to ordinary income tax):
-Your death or permanent disability.
-A series of substantially equal periodic payments (based on life expectancy) from an IRA or a former employer’s plan that continue for at least five years or until age 59½, whichever occurs later.
-Payment of unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 10% of adjusted gross income (in 2013).
-Employer plans only: If you are at least age 55 when you terminate or sever employment (or turn 55 by December 31 of the same year), all distributions avoid the penalty.
-IRAs only: The penalty is waived when the funds are used for qualified higher-education expenses or a first-time home purchase ($10,000 lifetime maximum).
If you take an early withdrawal from a tax-advantaged retirement account, you could lose the opportunity for that money to continue growing on a tax-deferred basis. This might lead to falling short of your retirement income needs.
1) Reuters, February 17, 2012
2) advisorone.com, January 17, 2012
3) advisorone.com, January 26, 2012
The information in this article is not intended as tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. Copyright © 2013 Emerald Connect, Inc.