Things You Should Know about the AMT

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You may not know about the Alternative Minimum Tax because you’ve never had to pay it before. However, your income may have changed and you may have to pay it this year. The AMT is an income tax imposed at nearly a flat rate on an adjusted amount of taxable income above a certain threshold. If you have a higher income, you may be subject to the AMT.

Here are two things you should know about the AMT:

1-Know when the AMT applies. You may have to pay the AMT if you’re taxable income, plus certain adjustments, is more than your AMT exemption amount. Your filing status and income define the amount of your exemption. In most cases, if your income is below this amount, you will not owe the AMT.

2. Know exemption amounts. The 2015 AMT exemption amounts are:

• $53,600 if you are Single or Head of Household.

• $83,400 if you are Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er).

• $41,700 if you are Married Filing Separately.

You will reduce your AMT exemption if your income is more than a certain amount.

Call us or email us with any questions in regards to your Tax and accounting needs

                           310.820.1080 or info@onts9.com

What You Need to Know About the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit

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Don’t overlook the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. It can reduce the taxes you pay. Here are the facts from the IRS about this important tax credit:

1. Child, Dependent or Spouse. You may be able to claim the credit if you paid someone to care for your child, dependent or spouse last year.

2. Work-Related Expense. The care must have been necessary so you could work or look for work. If you are married, the care also must have been necessary so your spouse could work or look for work. This rule does not apply if your spouse was disabled or a full-time student.

3. Qualifying Person. The care must have been for “qualifying persons.” A qualifying person can be your child under age 13. A qualifying person can also be your spouse or dependent who lived with you for more than half the year and is physically or mentally incapable of self-care.

4. Earned Income. You must have earned income for the year, such as wages from a job. If you are married and file a joint tax return, your spouse must also have earned income. Special rules apply to a spouse who is a student or disabled.

5. Credit Percentage / Expense Limits. The credit is worth between 20 and 35 percent of your allowable expenses. The percentage depends on the amount of your income. Your allowable expenses are limited to $3,000 if you paid for the care of one qualifying person. The limit is $6,000 if you paid for the care of two or more.

6. Dependent Care Benefits. If your employer gives you dependent care benefits, special rules apply.

7. Qualifying Person’s SSN. You must include the Social Security number of each qualifying person to claim the credit.

8. Care Provider Information. You must include the name, address and taxpayer identification number of your care provider on your tax return.

 Contact us today at (877)305-1040 or (310)820-1080 or email us at info@onts9.com to make sure all your Tax credits are done correctly.

We are here all year round to help you with all your Tax and Accounting needs.

Tax Savings from Higher Education Costs

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Money you paid for higher education in 2015 can mean tax savings in 2016. If you, your spouse or your dependent took post-high school coursework last year, there may be a tax credit or deduction for you. Here are some facts from the IRS about key tax breaks for higher education.

The American Opportunity Credit (AOTC) is:

  • Worth up to $2,500 per eligible student.
  • Used only for the first four years at an eligible college or vocational school.
  • For students earning a degree or other recognized credential.
  • For students going to school at least half-time for at least one academic period that started during or shortly after the tax year. Claimed on your tax return using Form 8863, Education Credits.

The Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) is:

  • Worth up to $2,000 per tax return, per year, no matter how many students qualify.
  • For all years of higher education, including classes for learning or improving job skills.
  • Claimed on your tax return using Form 8863, Education Credits.

The Tuition and Fees Deduction is:

  • Claimed as an adjustment to income.
  • Claimed whether or not you itemize.
  • Limited to tuition and certain related expenses required for enrollment or attendance at eligible schools.
  • Worth up to $4,000.

 

             Call us today at 310.820.1080 or Toll Free at 877.305.1040

            We are here for all you Tax and accounting needs all year round.

What You Need to Know about Taxable and Non-Taxable Income

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All income is taxable unless a law specifically says it isn’t.

Here are some basic rules you should know to help you file an accurate tax return:

  • Taxable income.  Taxable income includes money you earn, like wages and tips. It also includes bartering, an exchange of property or services. The fair market value of property or services received is normally taxable.

Some types of income are not taxable except under certain conditions, including:

  • Life insurance.  Proceeds paid to you upon the death of an insured person are usually not taxable. However, if you redeem a life insurance policy for cash, any amount you get that is more than the cost of the policy is taxable.
  • Qualified scholarship.  In most cases, income from a scholarship is not taxable. This includes amounts used for certain costs, such as tuition and required books. On the other hand, amounts you use for room and board are taxable.
  • Other income tax refunds.  State or local income tax refunds may be taxable. You should receive a Form 1099-G from the agency that paid you. They may have sent the form by mail or electronically. Contact them to find out how to get the form. Report any taxable refund you got even if you did not receive Form 1099-G.

Here are some items that are usually not taxable:

  • Gifts and inheritances
  • Child support payments
  • Welfare benefits
  • Damage awards for physical injury or sickness
  • Cash rebates from a dealer or manufacturer for an item you buy
  • Reimbursements for qualified adoption expenses

As always we hope these information are valuable for you and hope you can share and help us in our mission to help more people. Do not hesitate to contact with us for any Tax and Accounting needs.

                 Email us at info@onts9.com or call us at 310.820.1080

Who Can Represent You Before the IRS?

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Many people use a tax professional to prepare their taxes. Tax professionals with an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) can prepare a return for a fee. If you choose a tax pro, you should know who can represent you before the IRS. There are new rules this year, so the IRS wants you to know who can represent you and when they can represent you. Choose a tax return preparer wisely.

Representation rights, also known as practice rights, fall into two categories:

  • Unlimited Representation
  • Limited Representation

Unlimited representation rights allow a credentialed tax practitioner to represent you before the IRS on any tax matter. This is true no matter who prepared your return. Credentialed tax professionals who have unlimited representation rights include:

  • Enrolled agents
  • Certified Public Accountants
  • Attorneys

Limited representation rights authorize the tax professional to represent you if, and only if, they prepared and signed the return. They can do this only before IRS revenue agents, customer service representatives and similar IRS employees. They cannot represent clients whose returns they did not prepare. They cannot represent clients regarding appeals or collection issues even if they did prepare the return in question. For returns filed after Dec. 31, 2015, the only tax return preparers with limited representation rights are Annual Filing Season Program Participants.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Explore your rights and our obligations to protect you as a Tax payer and make sure whoever will prepare you will also look after your financial well-being. As an Enrolled Agent, we are here in every step of your challenges to make sure you are protected.

Contact US today at (877)305-1040 or email us at info@onts9.com and let us do the job once and make sure you are in great hands.

 

Tax Brackets, Deductions, and Exemptions for 2016

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More than 50 tax provisions, including the tax rate schedules and other tax changes are adjusted for inflation in 2016. Let’s take a look at the ones most likely to affect taxpayers like you.

The tax rate of 39.6 percent affects singles whose income exceeds $415,050 ($466,950 for married taxpayers filing a joint return), up from $413,200 and $464,850, respectively. The other marginal rates–10, 15, 25, 28, 33 and 35 percent–and related income tax thresholds–are found at IRS.gov.

The standard deduction remains at $6,300 for singles and married persons filing separate returns and $12,600 for married couples filing jointly. The standard deduction for heads of household rises to $9,300, up from $9,250.The limitation for itemized deductions to be claimed on tax year 2016 returns of individuals begins with incomes of $259,400 or more ($311,300 for married couples filing jointly).

The personal exemption for tax year 2016 rises to $4,050, up from the 2015 exemption of $4,000. However, the exemption is subject to a phase-out that begins with adjusted gross incomes of $259,400 ($311,300 for married couples filing jointly). It phases out completely at $381,900 ($433,800 for married couples filing jointly.)

The Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amount for tax year 2016 is $53,900 and begins to phase out at $119,700 ($83,800, for married couples filing jointly for whom the exemption begins to phase out at $159,700). The 2015 exemption amount was $53,600 ($83,400 for married couples filing jointly). For tax year 2016, the 28 percent tax rate applies to taxpayers with taxable incomes above $186,300 ($93,150 for married individuals filing separately).

For 2016, the maximum Earned Income Credit amount is $6,269 for taxpayers filing jointly who have 3 or more qualifying children, up from a total of $6,242 for tax year 2015. The revenue procedure has a table providing maximum credit amounts for other categories, income thresholds and phase-outs.

Estates of decedents who die during 2016 have a basic exclusion amount of $5,450,000, up from a total of $5,430,000 for estates of decedents who died in 2015.

For 2016, the exclusion from tax on a gift to a spouse who is not a U.S. citizen is $148,000, up from $147,000 for 2015.

For 2016, the foreign earned income exclusion rises to $101,300, up from $100,800 in 2015.

The annual exclusion for gifts remains at $14,000 for 2016.

The annual dollar limit on employee contributions to employer-sponsored healthcare flexible spending arrangements (FSA) remains at $2,550.

Under the small business health care tax credit, the maximum credit is phased out based on the employer’s number of full-time equivalent employees in excess of 10 and the employer’s average annual wages in excess of $25,900 for tax year 2016, up from $25,800 for 2015.

Need help with tax planning in 2016?

Help is just a phone call away! Please feel free to contact us for more information at (877)305-1040 or email us at info@onts9.com

10 Tax Breaks Reauthorized for Tax Year 2015

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Congress finally took action in late December and passed a tax extender bill formally known as the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH), which was then signed into law. Retroactive to January 1, 2015, many tax provisions were made permanent while others were extended through 2016 or 2019. Let’s take a look at some of the tax provisions most likely to affect taxpayers when filing their 2015 tax returns.

1. Teachers’ Deduction for Certain Expenses
Primary and secondary school teachers buying school supplies out-of-pocket may be able to take an above-the-line deduction of up to $250 for unreimbursed expenses. An above the line deduction means that it can be taken before calculating adjusted gross income. This deduction was made permanent and indexed for inflation.

2. State and Local Sales Taxes 
The deduction for state and local sales taxes was made permanent by PATH. Taxpayers that pay state and local sales tax can deduct the amounts paid on their federal tax returns (instead of state and local income taxes)–as long as they itemize.

3. Mortgage Insurance Premiums
Mortgage insurance premiums (PMI) are paid by homeowners with less than 20 percent equity in their homes. These premiums were deductible in tax years 2013, 2014, and now, once again in 2015. This deduction was extended through 2016. Mortgage interest deductions for taxpayers who itemize are not affected.

4. Exclusion of Discharge of Principal Residence Indebtedness
Typically, forgiven debt is considered taxable income in the eyes of the IRS; however, this tax provision has been extended through 2016, allowing homeowners whose homes have been foreclosed on or subjected to short sale to exclude up to $2 million of canceled mortgage debt. Also included are taxpayers seeking debt modification on their home.

5. Distributions from IRAs for Charitable Contributions
Taxpayers who are age 70 1/2 or older can donate up to $100,000 in distributions from their IRA to charity. Some people do not want to take the mandatory minimum distributions (which are counted as income) upon reaching this age and instead can contribute it to charity, using it as a strategy to lower income enough to take advantage of other tax provisions with phaseout limits. This deduction was made permanent by PATH.

6. Parity for Mass Transit Fringe Benefits
This tax extender allows commuters who used mass transit in 2015 to exclude from income (up to $250 per month), transit benefits paid by their employers such as monthly rail or subway passes, making it on par with parking benefits (also up to $250 pre-tax). Like many other tax extenders, this provision was made permanent.

7. Energy Efficient Improvements (including Appliances
This tax break has been around for a while, but if you made your home more energy efficient in 2015, now is the time to take advantage of this tax credit on your 2015 tax return. The credit reduces your taxes as opposed to a deduction that reduces your taxable income and is 10 percent of the cost of building materials for items such as insulation, new water heaters, or a wood pellet stove.

Note: This tax is cumulative, so if you’ve taken the credit in any tax year since 2006, you will not be able to take the full $500 tax credit this year. If, for example, you took a credit of $300 in 2013, the maximum credit you could take this year is $200.

8. Qualified Tuition and Expenses
The deduction for qualified tuition and fees, extended through 2016, is an above-the-line tax deduction, which means that you don’t have to itemize your deductions to claim the expense. Taxpayers with income of up to $130,000 (joint) or $65,000 (single) can claim a deduction for up to $4,000 in expenses. Taxpayers with income over $130,000 but under $160,000 (joint) and over $65,000 but under $80,000 (single) can take a deduction up to $2,000; however, taxpayers with income over those amounts are not eligible for the deduction.

Qualified education expenses are defined as tuition and related expenses required for enrollment or attendance at an eligible educational institution. Related expenses include student-activity fees and expenses for books, supplies, and equipment as required by the institution.

9. Donation of Conservation Property
Also made permanent was a tax provision that allowed taxpayers to donate property or easements to a local land trust or other conservation organization and receive a tax break in return. Under this tax provision, deductions of qualified conservation contributions up to 50 percent of a taxpayer’s contribution base (100 percent for qualified farmers and ranchers) are allowed.

10. Small Business Stock
If you invested in a small business such as a start-up C-corporation in 2015, consider taking advantage of this tax provision on your 2015 tax return. If you held onto this stock for five years, you can exclude 100 percent of the capital gains–in other words, you won’t be paying any capital gains. This deduction was made permanent by PATH.

If you’re wondering whether you should be taking advantage of these and other tax credits and deductions, please call us  at (877)305-1040 or email info@onts9.com TODAY!

Get to Know Your Taxpayer Bill of Rights

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Every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights. The “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” takes the many existing rights in the tax code and groups them into 10 categories. You should be aware of these rights when you interact with the IRS.

Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, highlights a list of your rights and the agency’s obligations to protect them. Here is a summary of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights:

1.The Right to Be Informed. Taxpayers have the right to know what is required to comply with the tax laws. They are entitled to clear explanations of the laws and IRS procedures in all tax forms, instructions, publications, notices and correspondence. They have the right to know about IRS decisions affecting their accounts and clear explanations of the outcomes.

2.The Right to Quality Service. Taxpayers have the right to receive prompt, courteous and professional assistance in their dealings with the IRS and the freedom to speak to a supervisor about inadequate service. Communications from the IRS should be clear and easy to understand.

3.The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax. Taxpayers have the right to pay only the amount of tax legally due, including interest and penalties. They should also expect the IRS to apply all tax payments properly.

4.The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard. Taxpayers have the right to object to formal IRS actions or proposed actions and provide justification with additional documentation. They should expect that the IRS will consider their timely objections and documentation promptly and fairly. If the IRS does not agree with their position, they should expect a response.

5.The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum. Taxpayers are entitled to a fair and impartial administrative appeal of most IRS decisions, including certain penalties. Taxpayers have the right to receive a written response regarding a decision from the Office of Appeals. Taxpayers generally have the right to take their cases to court.

6.The Right to Finality. Taxpayers have the right to know the maximum amount of time they have to challenge an IRS position and the maximum amount of time the IRS has to audit a particular tax year or collect a tax debt. Taxpayers have the right to know when the IRS concludes an audit.

7.The Right to Privacy. Taxpayers have the right to expect that any IRS inquiry, examination or enforcement action will comply with the law and be as unobtrusive as possible. They should expect such proceedings to respect all due process rights, including search and seizure protections. The IRS will provide, where applicable, a collection due process hearing.

8.The Right to Confidentiality. Taxpayers have the right to expect that their tax information will remain confidential. The IRS will not disclose information unless authorized by the taxpayer or by law. Taxpayers should expect the IRS to take appropriate action against employees, return preparers and others who wrongfully use or disclose their return information.

9.The Right to Retain Representation. Taxpayers have the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice to represent them in their dealings with the IRS. Taxpayers have the right to seek assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic if they cannot afford representation.

10.The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System. Taxpayers have the right to expect fairness from the tax system. This includes considering all facts and circumstances that might affect their underlying liabilities, ability to pay or ability to provide information timely. Taxpayers have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service if they are experiencing financial difficulty or if the IRS has not resolved their tax issues properly and timely through its normal channels.

We are always here to help! Call or email us today at (877)305-1040 or info@onts9.com so we can process your tax return sooner.

 

 

The Individual Shared Responsibility Provision and Your 2015 Income Tax Return

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The Affordable Care Act requires you, your spouse and your dependents to have qualifying health care coverage for each month of the year, qualify for a health coverage exemption, or make an Individual Shared Responsibility Payment when filing your federal income tax return. If you had coverage for all of 2015, you will simply check a box on your tax return to report that coverage.
However, if you don’t have qualifying health care coverage and you meet certain criteria, you might be eligible for an exemption from coverage. Most exemptions are can be claimed when you file your tax return, but some must be claimed through the Marketplace.
If you or any of your dependents are exempt from the requirement to have health coverage, you will complete IRS Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions and submit it with your tax return. If, however, you are not required to file a tax return, you do not need to file a return solely to report your coverage or to claim an exemption.
For any months you or anyone on your return do not have coverage or qualify for a coverage exemption, you must make a payment called the individual shared responsibility payment. If you could have afforded coverage for yourself or any of your dependents, but chose not to get it and you do not qualify for an exemption, you must make a payment. You calculate the shared responsibility payment using a worksheet included in the instructions for Form 8965 and enter your payment amount on your tax return.
Whether you are simply checking the box on your tax return to indicate that you had coverage in 2015, claiming a health coverage exemption, or making an individual shared responsibility payment, your tax professional can prepare and file your tax return electronically.
 
Make sure all your documents are in place and contact with us with any other questions you might have, we are here to help you get the best experience in Tax Preparation Services. Call us @ 310.820.1080 or email @ info@onts9.com

Make a Wise Choice when Selecting a Tax Preparer

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While there is still time before the next tax filing season, choosing a return preparer now allows more time for taxpayers to consider appropriate options and to find and talk with prospective tax preparers rather than during tax season when they’re most busy.

Furthermore, it enables taxpayers to do some wise tax planning for the rest of the year. If a taxpayer prefers to pay someone to prepare their return, the Internal Revenue Service encourages them to choose that person wisely as the taxpayer is legally responsible for all the information included on the return.

Below are some tips taxpayers can keep in mind when selecting a tax professional:

  • Select an ethical preparer. Taxpayers entrust some of their most vital personal data with the person preparing their tax return, including income, investments and Social Security numbers.
  • Ask about service fees. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the refund or those who say they can get larger refunds than others. Taxpayers need to ensure that any refund due is sent to them or deposited into their bank account, not into a preparer’s account.
  • Be sure to use a preparer with a preparer tax identification number (PTIN). Paid tax return preparers must have a current PTIN to prepare a tax return. It is also a good idea to ask the preparer if they belong to a professional organization and attend continuing education classes.
  • Research the preparer’s history. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the preparer has a questionable history. For the status of an enrolled agent’s license, check with the IRS Office of Enrollment (enrolled agents are licensed by the IRS and are specifically trained in federal tax planning, preparation and representation). For certified public accountants, verify with the state board of accountancy; for attorneys, check with the state bar association.
  • Ask for e-file. Any paid preparer who prepares and files more than 10 returns for clients generally must file the returns electronically.
  • Provide tax records. A good preparer will ask to see records and receipts. Do not use a preparer who is willing to e-file a return using the latest pay stub instead of the Form W-2. This is against IRS e-file rules.
  • Make sure the preparer is available after the filing due date. This may be helpful if questions come up about the tax return. Taxpayers can designate their paid tax return preparer or another third party to speak to the IRS concerning the preparation of their return, payment/refund issues and mathematical errors. The third party authorization check box on Form 1040, Form 1040A and Form 1040EZ gives the designated party the authority to receive and inspect returns and return information for one year from the original due date of the return (without regard to extensions).
  • Review the tax return and ask questions before signing. Taxpayers are legally responsible for what’s on their return, regardless of whether someone else prepared it. Make sure it’s accurate before signing it.
  • Never sign a blank tax return. If a taxpayer signs a blank return the preparer could then put anything they want on the return — even their own bank account number for the tax refund.
  • Preparers must sign the return and include their PTIN as required by law. The preparer must also give the taxpayer a copy of the return.

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