Friday, December 23, 2011


The debate of the month is the extension of the 3% payroll tax extension. Let’s see how that will impact a taxpayer. If you were to make $40,000 per year this means about $46 per paycheck. Supposedly that will help stimulate the economy and create jobs, but don’t forget the money comes out of the Social Security Trust Fund.

But here is the problem. In just a few days you we will writing the first 2012 paychecks and we don’t know how much we are going to withhold. The IRS publications are out without the cut and I am sure that the computer programmers are going to be burning the midnight oil once Congress and the President act. There is also a chance that the extension of the law may occur early in 2012 and be retroactive to January 1, 2012. We hope that this does not happen, but recent history shows there is a good chance of it occurring.

The primary issue for our employers is whether the payroll tax software that they use is timely updated for these changes. If a new law is passed either at the end of the this month or early next month, the software may not get updated for your first payroll. This may cause it to be wrong and changes will need to be performed to get the right amount of pay to your employees and report the right taxes on your form 943 at year-end or form 941 for the first quarter.

We will keep you posted.



If you itemize deductions (the long form) you not only can deduct your cash contributions but you can also deduct your non cash contributions. What we are talking about here is items given to the Salvation Army and the like. Remember the key is Documentation, Documentation, Documentation!

Here are the rules for non cash contributions:

First, make sure that this is a qualified charity. If in doubt ask to see their 501(c) approval.

Remember, no matter how charitable a contribution to an individual may be, contributions to individuals are not deductible.

If the contribution of goods is less than $250 you should have either a written acknowledgment from the charity of some other reliable list.

If the goods have a value between $250 and $500 then you need a written acknowledgement and, of course a list.

If between $500 and $5,000 then written acknowledgement; your list and a file a Form 8283 with the return.

If over $5,000 all of the above and you must file an appraisal with the return.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


The IRS wants to remind all taxpayers that with the New Year fast approaching, there is still time for you to take steps that can lower your 2011 taxes. However, you usually need to take action no later than Dec. 31 in order to claim certain tax benefits.

CLICK HERE to read the 6 tips!


We have compiled a checklist of actions based on current tax rules that may help you save tax dollars if you act before year-end. Not all actions will apply in your particular situation, but you will likely benefit from many of them. We can narrow down the specific actions that you can take once we meet with you to tailor a particular plan. In the meantime, please review the following list and contact us at your earliest convenience so that we can advise you on which tax-saving moves to make.

Year-End Tax-Planning Moves for Businesses & Business Owners
□ Businesses should consider making expenditures that qualify for the business property expensing option. For tax years beginning in 2011, the expensing limit is $500,000 and the investment ceiling limit is $2,000,000. And a limited amount of expensing may be claimed for qualified real property. However, unless Congress changes the rules, for tax years beginning in 2012, the dollar limit will drop to $139,000, the beginning-of-phase-out amount will drop to $560,000, and expensing won't be available for qualified real property. The generous dollar ceilings that apply this year mean that many small and medium sized businesses that make timely purchases will be able to currently deduct most if not all their outlays for machinery and equipment. What's more, the expensing deduction is not prorated for the time that the asset is in service during the year. This opens up significant year-end planning opportunities.

□ Businesses also should consider making expenditures that qualify for 100% bonus first-year depreciation if bought and placed in service this year. This 100% first-year write-off generally won't be available next year unless Congress acts to extend it. Thus, enterprises planning to purchase new depreciable property this year or the next should try to accelerate their buying plans, if doing so makes sound business sense.

□ If you are self-employed and haven't done so yet, set up a self-employed retirement plan.

□ Depending on your particular situation, you may also want to consider deferring a debt-cancellation event until 2012, and disposing of a passive activity to allow you to deduct suspended losses.

□ If you own an interest in a partnership or S corporation, you may need to increase your basis in the entity so you can deduct a loss from it for this year.
These are just some of the year-end steps that can be taken to save taxes.

Again, by contacting us, we can tailor a particular plan that will work best for you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


We have compiled a checklist of actions based on current tax rules that may help you save tax dollars if you act before year-end. Not all actions will apply in your particular situation, but you will likely benefit from many of them. We can narrow down the specific actions that you can take once we meet with you to tailor a particular plan. In the meantime, please review the following list and contact us at your earliest convenience so that we can advise you on which tax-saving moves to make.

Year-End Tax Planning Moves for Individuals
□ Increase the amount you set aside for next year in your employer's health flexible spending account (FSA) if you set aside too little for this year. Don't forget that you can no longer set aside amounts to get tax-free reimbursements for over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin and antacids.

□ If you become eligible to make health savings account (HSA) contributions in December of this year, you can make a full year's worth of deductible HSA contributions for 2011.

□ Realize losses on stock while substantially preserving your investment position. There are several ways this can be done. For example, you can sell the original holding, and then buy back the same securities at least 31 days later. It may be advisable for us to meet to discuss year-end trades you should consider making.

□ Postpone income until 2012 and accelerate deductions into 2011 to lower your 2011 tax bill. This strategy may enable you to claim larger deductions, credits, and other tax breaks for 2011 that are phased out over varying levels of adjusted gross income (AGI). These include child tax credits, higher education tax credits, the above-the-line deduction for higher-education expenses, and deductions for student loan interest. Postponing income also is desirable for those taxpayers who anticipate being in a lower tax bracket next year due to changed financial circumstances. Note, however, that in some cases, it may pay to actually accelerate income into 2011. For example, this may be the case where a person's marginal tax rate is much lower this year than it will be next year.

□ If you believe a Roth IRA is better than a traditional IRA, and want to remain in the market for the long term, consider converting traditional-IRA money invested in beaten-down stocks (or mutual funds) into a Roth IRA if eligible to do so. Keep in mind, however, that such a conversion will increase your AGI for 2011.

□ If you converted assets in a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA earlier in the year, the assets in the Roth IRA account may have declined in value, and if you leave things as-is, you will wind up paying a higher tax than is necessary. You can back out of the transaction by recharacterizing the rollover or conversion, that is, by transferring the converted amount (plus earnings, or minus losses) from the Roth IRA back to a traditional IRA via a trustee-to-trustee transfer. You can later reconvert to a Roth IRA.

□ It may be advantageous to try to arrange with your employer to defer a bonus that may be coming your way until 2012.

□ Consider using a credit card to prepay expenses that can generate deductions for this year.

□ If you expect to owe state and local income taxes when you file your return next year, consider asking your employer to increase withholding of state and local taxes (or pay estimated tax payments of state and local taxes) before year-end to pull the deduction of those taxes into 2011 if doing so won't create an alternative minimum tax (AMT) problem.

□ Take an eligible rollover distribution from a qualified retirement plan before the end of 2011 if you are facing a penalty for underpayment of estimated tax and the increased withholding option is unavailable or won't sufficiently address the problem. Income tax will be withheld from the distribution and will be applied toward the taxes owed for 2011. You can then timely roll over the gross amount of the distribution, as increased by the amount of withheld tax, to a traditional IRA. No part of the distribution will be includible in income for 2011, but the withheld tax will be applied pro rata over the full 2011 tax year to reduce previous underpayments of estimated tax.

□ Estimate the effect of any year-end planning moves on the AMT for 2011, keeping in mind that many tax breaks allowed for purposes of calculating regular taxes are disallowed for AMT purposes. These include the deduction for state property taxes on your residence, state income taxes (or state sales tax if you elect this deduction option), miscellaneous itemized deductions, and personal exemption deductions. Other deductions, such as for medical expenses, are calculated in a more restrictive way for AMT purposes than for regular tax purposes. As a result, in some cases, deductions should not be accelerated.

□ Accelerate big ticket purchases into 2011 in order to assure a deduction for sales taxes on the purchases if you will elect to claim a state and local general sales tax deduction instead of a state and local income tax deduction. Unless Congress acts, this election won't be available after 2011.

□ You may be able to save taxes this year and next by applying a bunching strategy to “miscellaneous” itemized deductions, medical expenses and other itemized deductions.

□ If you are a homeowner, make energy saving improvements to the residence, such as putting in extra insulation or installing energy saving windows, and energy efficient heaters or air conditioners. You may qualify for a tax credit if the assets are installed in your home before 2012.

□ Unless Congress extends it, the up-to-$4,000 above-the-line deduction for qualified higher education expenses will not be available after 2011. Thus, consider prepaying eligible expenses if doing so will increase your deduction for qualified higher education expenses. Generally, the deduction is allowed for qualified education expenses paid in 2011 in connection with enrollment at an institution of higher education during 2011 or for an academic period beginning in 2011 or in the first 3 months of 2012.

□ You may want to settle an insurance or damage claim in order to maximize your casualty loss deduction this year.

□ If you are age 70- 1/2 or older, own IRAs and are thinking of making a charitable gift, consider arranging for the gift to be made directly by the IRA trustee. Such a transfer, if made before year-end, can achieve important tax savings.

□ Take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your IRA or 401(k) plan (or other employer-sponsored retired plan) if you have reached age 70- 1/2. Failure to take a required withdrawal can result in a penalty of 50% of the amount of the RMD not withdrawn. If you turned age 70- 1/2 in 2011, you can delay the first required distribution to 2012, but if you do, you will have to take a double distribution in 2012—the amount required for 2011 plus the amount required for 2012. Think twice before delaying 2011 distributions to 2012—bunching income into 2012 might push you into a higher tax bracket or have a detrimental impact on various income tax deductions that are reduced at higher income levels. However, it could be beneficial to take both distributions in 2012 if you will be in a substantially lower bracket that year, for example, because you plan to retire late this year.

□ Make gifts sheltered by the annual gift tax exclusion before the end of the year and thereby save gift and estate taxes. You can give $13,000 in 2011 to each of an unlimited number of individuals but you can't carry over unused exclusions from one year to the next. The transfers also may save family income taxes where income-earning property is given to family members in lower income tax brackets who are not subject to the kiddie tax.

Again, by contacting us, we can tailor a particular plan that will work best for you.

Friday, December 16, 2011


We thought it might be helpful if you had a ‘form’ letter in which you could send to your vendors. Please feel free to copy and paste this into a word doc and send it out. Click on the link below the letter to obtain the W-9.

Dear Vendor,

IRS regulation requires that we issue 1099 forms to certain companies and individuals. In order to accurately prepare these forms, IRS requires that we obtain and maintain form W-9 for all of our vendors.

Therefore, in order to ensure our reporting accuracy, please complete the enclosed form W-9 and return to us by mail or fax.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.



Thursday, December 15, 2011


Q. I read your business blog and saw the topic on ‘Issuing 1099-MISC’s’: I own an Electrical company and wondered if I need to send a w-9 to our vendors for the Electrical Co. & the Construction Co.? And then send 1099’s to them if required. ~ Thanks for your help.

A. I would advise getting W-9’s from them. This will assure that you were not required to do backup withholding. The IRS has not been penalizing companies that do not have W-9’s but it technically is required. My guess is that someday this will be an issue. You just as well get ahead of the curve.

If they are not a corporation and they are providing services then a 1099 is in order. If they are just your supplier and you buy inventory, hard goods etc. then you do not need to do a 1099. Some taxpayers are unsure of the form of business of the companies that they are dealing with. The W-9 will solve that problem. At the same time if you are not sure there form of business it is okay to send a 1099. There is no penalty for sending to a corp.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


If you itemize your deductions (long form), you can deduct charitable contributions. The IRS just published Tips for Year-End Giving that you might want to review.


Monday, December 12, 2011


Check your flexible spending account balance. You must clean it out by Dec. 31 if your employer still has not adopted the 2½-month grace period that IRS now permits. Otherwise, any money remaining in your account is forfeited. When you are deciding how much you should put into your flex plan for 2012, remember that a $2,500 annual cap on FSA payins is set to go into effect in 2013.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Here is some basic information about 1099-MISC:

First of all you just need to do a 1099 for certain business expenses.

o For example, someone paints your personal residence and charges you $1,100 you do not have to give that person a 1099. On the other hand if that person should paint your business property and charged you $1,100 you would give that person a 1099 for $1,100

You just have to issue a 1099 for services, not for tangible business purchases
o If the painter gives you a bill for painting and the bill includes labor and the cost of paint you would still give the painter a 1099 for the whole purchase

You do not need to give a 1099 to a corporation
o Both C corporation and S corporations qualify
o You must give a 1099 to LLC’s and partnerships

You just need to give a 1099 if you pay over $600 during the year
o For example the painter paints your business in January and charges you $400 then later in the year you bring them back and he does another $500 of painting. The total is over $600 so you must give the person a 1099

There is no penalty for sending a 1099 to a corporation so if in doubt play it safe and send. Of course there are more rules but these are the basics ones.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


A fugitive who took a Kansas couple hostage in their home is suing them for $235,000. Accused murderer Jesse Dimmick claims Jared and Lindsay Rowley accepted his knifepoint offer of money to hide in their house. But the Rowleys later breached their "oral contract" by escaping as he slept, Dimmick says, "resulting in my being shot in the back by authorities."

Wow only in America!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Q. I am thinking about getting rid of my QuickBooks and using my salon software for my P&L, general ledger and accounts payable. My salon software has a great deal on it right now. What do you think about this?

A. It just doesn't work well~ the softwares are for two different purposes. Plus they are a good checks and balance for each other. BUT I believe you still need professional assistance in interperting your financial statements and sometimes your salon reports. I can't count the number of people who have made expenseive mistakes because they did not have good data.

For example, I can buy a Flowbee to cut my hair at home. But I will end up going to a professional for help. The same goes for your accounting - you need a professional. Wouldn't I have better looking haircut if I had seen you first?

Remember you can manage what you can measure and if all you have is garbage, it will pile up quickly.

Monday, December 5, 2011


The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2012 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2012, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:
• 55.5 cents per mile for business miles driven
• 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
• 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

The rate for business miles driven is unchanged from the mid-year adjustment that became effective on July 1, 2011. The medical and moving rate has been reduced by 0.5 cents per mile.

The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs as determined by the same study. Independent contractor Runzheimer International conducted the study.

You do have the option of calculating the actual costs of using your vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Q. I am definitely an employee at my job but, my employer did not withhold anything and instead of giving me a W-2 like he should have he gave me a 1099. Last year he gave me a W-2. Now not only do I owe a bunch of tax I also have to pay both halves of the Social Security and Medicare tax. This is not fair. Is there anything I can do?

A. Yes there is something you can do to cut your Social Security and Medicare in half. Since 2007, you are allowed to file a Form 8919M Uncollected Social Security and Medicare Tax on wages instead of filing Schedule SE. The form SE charges you tax at 15.3% versus the 7.65%.

There are some codes on the form that you will need to review and if you meet one of the criteria, walla you qualify.

By the way, this IRS may be visiting your employer. He will at least be getting a bill from the IRS for his 1/2.

Friday, December 2, 2011


The IRS wants everyone to issue 1099's so that they can spot unreported income. This year the penalty for failure to file a 1099 is $250 per form with an addition $250 per form if you did not act in good faith.

I can guarantee you that one of the first things that the IRS looks at during the audit is 1099's. It is easy money for them if you did not file.

Think about it. If you missed 10 forms for three years the penalty would be $7,500 minimum with it possibly going to $15,000. That is on just 10 missed forms. Do the math. Make sure you issue 1099's.