IRS to Hold Webinar on May 25 to Assist International Taxpayers; June Filing Deadlines Nearing for Most Americans Abroad

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WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service on Wednesday will hold a free online, web-based information session to assist U.S. overseas taxpayers in understanding their filing obligations.

The webinar will take place on May 25, 2016, from 1-3 p.m. EDT, (18:00-2100 hours UTC-0). To attend this webinar, taxpayers or tax professionals interested in learning more about these requirements, should log in using the Overseas Taxpayers webinar link. It is recommended attendees log in 10 minutes prior to the start time.

The session will be recorded and made available at a later time.

The IRS also today reminded U.S. citizens and resident aliens, including those with dual citizenship who have lived or worked abroad during all or part of 2015, that they may have a U.S. tax liability and a filing requirement in 2016. The IRS encourages taxpayers with foreign assets, even relatively small amounts, to check if they have an FBAR and/or FATCA filing requirement.

Most People Abroad Need to File

A filing requirement generally applies even if a taxpayer qualifies for tax benefits, such as the foreign earned income exclusion or the foreign tax credit , that substantially reduce or eliminate their U.S. tax liability. These tax benefits are not automatic and are only available if an eligible taxpayer files a U.S. income tax return.

The filing deadline is Wednesday, June 15, 2016, for U.S. citizens and resident aliens whose tax home and abode are outside the United States and Puerto Rico, and for those serving in the military outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico. To use this automatic two-month extension, taxpayers must attach a statement to their return explaining which of these two situations applies. See U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad for details.

Nonresident aliens who received income from U.S. sources in 2015 also must determine whether they have a U.S. tax obligation. The filing deadline for nonresident aliens can be April 18, 2016, or June 15, 2016, depending on sources of income. See Taxation of Nonresident Aliens on IRS.gov.

Special Reporting for Foreign Accounts and Assets

Federal law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report any worldwide income, including income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and securities accounts. In most cases, affected taxpayers need to complete and attach Schedule B to their tax return. Part III of Schedule B asks about the existence of foreign accounts, such as bank and securities accounts, and usually requires U.S. citizens to report the country in which each account is located.

Taxpayers with an interest in, or signature or other authority over, foreign financial accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during 2015 must file with the Treasury Department a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). It is due to the Treasury Department by June 30, 2016, must be filed electronically and is only available online through the BSA E-Filing System website. For details regarding the FBAR requirements, see Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

In addition, under the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), certain taxpayers may also have to complete and attach to their return Form 8938, Statement of Foreign Financial Assets.  Generally, U.S. citizens, resident aliens and certain nonresident aliens must report specified foreign financial assets on this form if the aggregate value of those assets exceeds certain thresholds. See the instructions for this form for details.

Expatriate Reporting

Taxpayers who relinquished their U.S. citizenship or ceased to be lawful permanent residents of the United States during 2015 must file a dual-status alien return, attaching Form 8854, Initial and Annual Expatriation Statement. A copy of the Form 8854 must also be filed with Internal Revenue Service Philadelphia, PA 19255-0049, by the due date of the tax return (including extensions). See the instructions for this form and Notice 2009-85, Guidance for Expatriates under Section 877A, for further details.

We are here for all your Tax and Accounting needs all year round. For further information or assistance, please call us at 310.820.1080 or Toll Free at 877.305.1040 or you may also email us at info@onts9.com

May 16 Is Filing Deadline for Many Tax-Exempt Organizations; Do Not Include Social Security Numbers or Personal Data

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WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded tax-exempt organizations that many have a filing deadline for Form 990-series information returns in mid-May.

With the May 16 filing deadline facing many tax-exempt organizations, the IRS today cautioned these groups not to include Social Security numbers (SSNs) or other unneeded personal information on their Forms 990, and consider taking advantage of the speed and convenience of electronic filing.

Form 990-series information returns and notices are due on the 15th day of the fifth month after an organization’s tax year ends. Many organizations use the calendar year as their tax year, making May 15 the deadline for them to file for 2015. However, because May 15 falls on a Sunday, the deadline this year moves to Monday, May 16.

Many Groups Risk Loss of Tax-Exempt Status

By law, organizations that fail to file annual reports for three consecutive years will see their federal tax exemptions automatically revoked as of the due date of the third required filing. The Pension Protection Act of 2006 mandates that most tax-exempt organizations file annual Form 990-series information returns or notices with the IRS. The law, which went into effect at the beginning of 2007, also imposed a new annual filing requirement for small organizations. Churches and church-related organizations are not required to file annual reports.

No Social Security Numbers on Forms 990

The IRS generally does not ask organizations for SSNs and, in the Form 990 instructions, and cautions filers not to provide them on the form. By law, both the IRS and most tax-exempt organizations are required to publicly disclose most parts of Form 990 filings, including schedules and attachments. Public release of SSNs and other personally identifiable information about donors, clients or benefactors could give rise to identity theft.

The IRS also urges tax-exempt organizations to file forms electronically in order to reduce the risk of inadvertently including SSNs or other unneeded personal information.

Tax-exempt forms that must be made public by the IRS are clearly marked “Open to Public Inspection” in the top right corner of the first page. These include Form 990, Form 990-EZ, Form 990-PF and others.

What to File

Small tax-exempt organizations with average annual gross receipts of $50,000 or less may file an electronic notice called a Form 990-N (e-Postcard), which asks organizations for a few basic pieces of information. Tax-exempt organizations with average annual gross receipts above $50,000 must file a Form 990 or 990-EZ depending on their receipts and assets. Private foundations must file Form 990-PF.

Organizations that need additional time to file a Form 990, 990-EZ or 990-PF may obtain an automatic three-month extension. An organization may also request an additional three-month extension; however, the organization must show reasonable cause for the additional time requested. Use Form 8868, Application for Extension of Time to File an Exempt Organization Return, to request extensions. The request for extension must be filed by the due date of the return. Note that no extension is available for filing the Form 990-N (e-Postcard).

We are here for all your Tax and Accounting needs all year round. For further information or assistance, please call us at 310.820.1080 or Toll Free at 877.305.1040 or you may also email us at info@onts9.com

 

Bartering Produces Taxable Income and Reporting Requirements

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Bartering is the trading of one product or service for another. Often there is no exchange of cash. Some businesses barter to get products or services they need. For example, a gardener might trade landscape work with a plumber for plumbing work.

If you barter, you should know that the value of products or services from bartering is normally taxable income. This is true even if you are not in business.

A few facts about bartering:

  • Bartering income. Both parties must report the fair market value of the product or service they get as income on their tax return.
  • Barter exchanges. A barter exchange is an organized marketplace where members barter products or services. Some operate out of an office and others over the Internet. All barter exchanges are required to issue Form 1099-B, Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions. Exchanges must give a copy of the form to its members who barter each year. They must also file a copy with the IRS.
  • Trade Dollars. Exchanges trade barter or trade dollars as their unit of exchange in most cases. Barter and trade dollars are the same as U.S. currency for tax purposes. If you earn trade and barter dollars, you must report the amount you earn on your tax return.
  • Tax implications. Bartering is taxable in the year it occurs. The tax rules may vary based on the type of bartering that takes place. Barterers may owe income taxes, self-employment taxes, employment taxes or excise taxes on their bartering income.
  • Reporting rules. How you report bartering on a tax return varies. If you are in a trade or business, you normally report it on Form 1040, Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business.

 For more information about your business taxation and accounting needs

          Contact us today at 310.820.1080 or email us at info@onts9.com

 

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.

Tips to Keep Your Tax Records Secure; Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

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If you’re still keeping old tax returns and receipts stuffed in a shoe box stuck in the back of the closet, you might want to rethink that approach.

You should keep your tax records safe and secure, whether they are stored on paper or kept electronically. The same is true for any financial or health records you store, especially any document bearing Social Security numbers.

You should keep always keep copies of your tax returns and supporting documents for several years to support claims for tax credits and deductions.

Because of the sensitive data, the loss or theft of these documents could lead to identity theft and have an economic impact. These documents contain the Social Security numbers of you, your spouse and dependents, old W-2 income and bank account information. A burglar could easily turn your old shoe box full of documents into a tax-related identity theft crime.

Here are just a few of the easy and practical steps to better protect your tax records:

  • · Always retain a copy of your completed federal and state tax returns and their supporting materials. These prior-year returns will help you prepare your next year’s taxes, and receipts will document any credits or deductions you claim should question arise later.
  • · If you retain paper records, you should keep them in a secure location, preferably under lock and key, such as a secure desk drawer or a safe.
  • · If you retain you records electronically on your computer, you should always have an electronic back-up, in case your hard drive crashes. You should encrypt the files both on your computer and any back-up drives you use. You may have to purchase encryption software to ensure the files’ security.
  • · Dispose of old tax records properly. Never toss paper tax returns and supporting documents into the trash. Your federal and state tax records, as well as any financial or health records should be shredded before disposal.
  • · If you are disposing of an old computer or back-up hard drive, keep in mind there is sensitive data on these. Deleting stored tax files will not remove them from your computer. You should wipe the drives of any electronic product you trash or sell, including tablets and mobile phones, to ensure you remove all personal data. Again, this may require special disk utility software.

The IRS recommends retaining copies of your tax returns and supporting documents for a minimum of three years to a maximum of seven years. Remember to keep records relating to property you own for three to seven years after the year in which you dispose of the property. Three years is a time frame that allows you to file amended returns, or if questions arise on your tax return, and seven years is a time frame that allows filing a claim for adjustment in a case of bad debt deduction or a loss from worthless securities.

 As we all know it is Tax Season and we are always here to help! Please contact us today at (877)305-1040 or (310)820-1080 or email us at info@onts9.com for more information and let us do the job for you and make sure you are in good hands.

Ensuring Financial Success for Your Business

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Can you point your company in the direction of financial success, step on the gas, and then sit back and wait to arrive at your destination?

Not quite. You can’t let your business run on autopilot and expect good results. Any business owner knows you need to make numerous adjustments along the way – decisions about pricing, hiring, investments, and so on.

So, how do you handle the array of questions facing you?

One way is through cost accounting.

Cost Accounting Helps You Make Informed Decisions
Cost accounting reports and determines the various costs associated with running your business. With cost accounting, you track the cost of all your business functions – raw materials, labor, inventory, and overhead, among others.

Note: Cost accounting differs from financial accounting because it’s only used internally, for decision making. Because financial accounting is employed to produce financial statements for external stakeholders, such as stockholders and the media, it must comply with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Cost accounting does not.

Cost accounting allows you to understand the following:
1. Cost behavior. For example, will the costs increase or stay the same if production of your product goes up?
2. Appropriate prices for your goods or services. Once you understand cost behavior, you can tweak your pricing based on the current market.
3. Budgeting. You can’t create an effective budget if you don’t know the real costs of the line items.

Is It Hard?
To monitor your company’s costs with this method, you need to pay attention to the two types of costs in any business: fixed and variable.

Fixed costs don’t fluctuate with changes in production or sales. They include:

• rent
• insurance
• dues and subscriptions
• equipment leases
• payments on loans
• management salaries
• advertising

Variable costs DO change with variations in production and sales. Variable costs include:

• raw materials
• hourly wages and commissions
• utilities
• inventory
• office supplies
• packaging, mailing, and shipping costs

Tip: Cost accounting is easier for smaller, less complicated businesses. The more complex your business model, the harder it becomes to assign proper values to all the facets of your company’s functioning.

If you’d like to understand the ins and outs of your business better and create sound guidance for internal decision making, consider setting up a cost accounting system.

Need Help?
Please call us at (877)305-1040 or (310)820-1080 or email us at info@onts9.com if you need assistance setting up cost accounting and inventory systems, preparing budgets, cash flow management or any other matter related to ensuring the financial success of your business.

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

Tax Changes for 2016: A Checklist

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Welcome, 2016! As the New Year rolls around, it’s always a sure bet that there will be changes to current tax law and 2016 is no different. From health savings accounts to retirement contributions and standard deductions, here’s a checklist of tax changes to help you plan the year ahead.

Individuals

For 2016, more than 50 tax provisions are affected by inflation adjustments, including personal exemptions, AMT exemption amounts, and foreign earned income exclusion.

For 2016, the tax rate structure, which ranges from 10 to 39.6 percent, remains the same as in 2015, but tax-bracket thresholds increase for each filing status. Standard deductions and the personal exemption have also been adjusted upward to reflect inflation. For details see the article, “Tax Brackets, Deductions, and Exemptions for 2016,” below.

Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
Exemption amounts for the AMT, which was made permanent by the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) are indexed for inflation and allow the use of nonrefundable personal credits against the AMT. For 2016, the exemption amounts are $53,900 for individuals ($53,600 in 2015) and $83,800 for married couples filing jointly ($83,400 in 2015).

“Kiddie Tax” 
For taxable years beginning in 2016, the amount that can be used to reduce the net unearned income reported on the child’s return that is subject to the “kiddie tax,” is $1,050 (same as 2015). The same $1,050 amount is used to determine whether a parent may elect to include a child’s gross income in the parent’s gross income and to calculate the “kiddie tax.” For example, one of the requirements for the parental election is that a child’s gross income for 2016 must be more than $1,050 but less than $10,500.

For 2016, the net unearned income for a child under the age of 19 (or a full-time student under the age of 24) that is not subject to “kiddie tax” is $2,100.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) 
Contributions to a Health Savings Account (HSA) are used to pay current or future medical expenses of the account owner, his or her spouse, and any qualified dependent. Medical expenses must not be reimbursable by insurance or other sources and do not qualify for the medical expense deduction on a federal income tax return.

A qualified individual must be covered by a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) and not be covered by other health insurance with the exception of insurance for accidents, disability, dental care, vision care, or long-term care.

For calendar year 2016, a qualifying HDHP must have a deductible of at least $1,300 for self-only coverage or $2,600 for family coverage and must limit annual out-of-pocket expenses of the beneficiary to $6,550 for self-only coverage and $13,100 for family coverage.

Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) 
There are two types of Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs): the Archer MSA created to help self-employed individuals and employees of certain small employers, and the Medicare Advantage MSA, which is also an Archer MSA, and is designated by Medicare to be used solely to pay the qualified medical expenses of the account holder. To be eligible for a Medicare Advantage MSA, you must be enrolled in Medicare. Both MSAs require that you are enrolled in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP).

Self-only coverage. For taxable years beginning in 2016, the term “high deductible health plan” means, for self-only coverage, a health plan that has an annual deductible that is not less than $2,250 ($2,200 in 2015) and not more than $3,350 (up $50 from 2015), and under which the annual out-of-pocket expenses required to be paid (other than for premiums) for covered benefits do not exceed $4,450 (same as 2015).

Family coverage. For taxable years beginning in 2016, the term “high deductible health plan” means, for family coverage, a health plan that has an annual deductible that is not less than $4,450 (same as 2015) and not more than $6,700 (up $50 from 2015), and under which the annual out-of-pocket expenses required to be paid (other than for premiums) for covered benefits do not exceed $8,150 (same as 2015).

AGI Limit for Deductible Medical Expenses
In 2016, the deduction threshold for deductible medical expenses remains at 10 percent (same as 2015) of adjusted gross income (AGI); however, if either you or your spouse were age 65 or older as of December 31, 2015, the new 10 percent of AGI threshold will not take effect until 2017. In other words, the 7.5 percent threshold that was in place in earlier tax years continues to apply for tax year 2016 for these individuals. In addition, if you or your spouse turns age 65 in 2016, the 7.5 percent of AGI threshold applies for that year (through 2016) as well. Starting in 2017, the 10 percent of AGI threshold applies to everyone.

Eligible Long-Term Care Premiums 
Premiums for long-term care are treated the same as health care premiums and are deductible on your taxes subject to certain limitations. For individuals age 40 or younger at the end of 2016, the limitation is $390. Persons more than 40 but not more than 50 can deduct $730. Those more than 50 but not more than 60 can deduct $1,460 while individuals more than 60 but not more than 70 can deduct $3,900. The maximum deduction is $4,870 and applies to anyone more than 70 years of age.

Medicare Taxes 
The additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax on wages above $200,000 for individuals ($250,000 married filing jointly), which went into effect in 2013, remains in effect for 2016, as does the Medicare tax of 3.8 percent on investment (unearned) income for single taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (AGI) more than $200,000 ($250,000 joint filers). Investment income includes dividends, interest, rents, royalties, gains from the disposition of property, and certain passive activity income. Estates, trusts, and self-employed individuals are all liable for the new tax.

Foreign Earned Income Exclusion 
For 2016, the foreign earned income exclusion amount is $101,300, up from $100,800 in 2015.

Long-Term Capital Gains and Dividends
In 2016 tax rates on capital gains and dividends remain the same as 2015 rates; however threshold amounts are indexed for inflation. As such, for taxpayers in the lower tax brackets (10 and 15 percent), the rate remains 0 percent. For taxpayers in the four middle tax brackets, 25, 28, 33, and 35 percent, the rate is 15 percent. For an individual taxpayer in the highest tax bracket, 39.6 percent, whose income is at or above $415,050 ($466,950 married filing jointly), the rate for both capital gains and dividends is capped at 20 percent.

Pease and PEP (Personal Exemption Phase-out) 
Both Pease (limitations on itemized deductions) and PEP (personal exemption phase-out) have been permanently extended (and indexed to inflation) for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2012, and in 2016, affect taxpayers with income at or above $259,400 for single filers and $311,300 for married filing jointly.

Estate and Gift Taxes 
For an estate of any decedent during calendar year 2016, the basic exclusion amount is $5,450,000, indexed for inflation (up from $5,430,000 in 2015). The maximum tax rate remains at 40 percent. The annual exclusion for gifts remains at $14,000.

Individuals – Tax Credits

Adoption Credit 
In 2016, a non-refundable (only those individuals with tax liability will benefit) credit of up to $13,460 is available for qualified adoption expenses for each eligible child.

Earned Income Tax Credit 
For tax year 2016, the maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low and moderate income workers and working families’ rises to $6,269, up from $6,242 in 2015. The credit varies by family size, filing status, and other factors, with the maximum credit going to joint filers with three or more qualifying children.

Child Tax Credits 
For tax year 2016, the child tax credit is $1,000 per child.

The enhanced child tax credit was made permanent this year by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH). In addition to a $1,000 credit per qualifying child, an additional refundable credit equal to 15 percent of earned income in excess of $3,000 has been available since 2009.

Child and Dependent Care Credit
If you pay someone to take care of your dependent (defined as being under the age of 13 at the end of the tax year or incapable of self-care) in order to work or look for work, you may qualify for a credit of up to $1,050 or 35 percent of $3,000 of eligible expenses in 2016. For two or more qualifying dependents, you can claim up to 35 percent of $6,000 (or $2,100) of eligible expenses. For higher income earners the credit percentage is reduced, but not below 20 percent, regardless of the amount of adjusted gross income.

Individuals – Education

American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credits 
The American Opportunity Tax Credit (formerly Hope Scholarship Credit) was extended to the end of 2017 by ATRA, but was made permanent by PATH in 2015. The maximum credit is $2,500 per student. The Lifetime Learning Credit remains at $2,000 per return.

Interest on Educational Loans 
In 2016 (as in 2015), the $2,500 maximum deduction for interest paid on student loans is no longer limited to interest paid during the first 60 months of repayment. The deduction is phased out for higher-income taxpayers with modified AGI of more than $65,000 ($130,000 joint filers).

Individuals – Retirement

Contribution Limits 
The elective deferral (contribution) limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan remains at $18,000 . Contribution limits for SIMPLE plans remain at $12,500. The maximum compensation used to determine contributions remains at $265,000.

Income Phase-out Ranges 
The deduction for taxpayers making contributions to a traditional IRA is phased out for singles and heads of household who are covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan and have modified AGI between $61,000 and $71,000 (unchanged from 2015).

For married couples filing jointly, in which the spouse who makes the IRA contribution is covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan, the phase-out range remains unchanged at $98,000 to $118,000. For an IRA contributor who is not covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s modified AGI is between $184,000 and $194,000, up from $183,000 and $193,000.

The modified AGI phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $184,000 to $194,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $183,000 to $193,000 in 2015. For singles and heads of household, the income phase-out range is $117,000 to $132,000, up from $116,000 to $131,000. For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a retirement plan, the phase-out range remains $0 to $10,000.

Saver’s Credit 
In 2016, the AGI limit for the saver’s credit (also known as the retirement savings contribution credit) for low and moderate income workers is $61,500 for married couples filing jointly, up from $61,000 in 2015; $46,125 for heads of household, up from $45,750; and $30,750 for married individuals filing separately and for singles, up from $30,500.

Businesses

Standard Mileage Rates 
The rate for business miles driven is 54 cents per mile for 2016, down from 57.5 cents per mile in 2015.

Section 179 Expensing 
The Section 179 expense deduction was made permanent at $500,000 by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH). For equipment purchases, the maximum deduction is $500,000 of the first $2 million of qualifying equipment placed in service during the current tax year. The deduction is phased out dollar for dollar on amounts exceeding the $2 million threshold amount and eliminated above amounts exceeding $2.5 million. In addition, Section 179 is now indexed to inflation in increments of $10,000 for future tax years.

The 50 percent bonus depreciation has been extended through 2019. Businesses are able to depreciate 50 percent of the cost of equipment acquired and placed in service during 2015, 2016 and 2017. However, the bonus depreciation is reduced to 40 percent in 2018 and 30 percent in 2019.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) 
Extended through 2019, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit has been modified and enhanced for employers who hire long-term unemployed individuals (unemployed for 27 weeks or more), and is generally equal to 40 percent of the first $6,000 of wages paid to a new hire.

Research & Development Tax Credit

Starting in 2016, businesses with less than $50 million in gross receipts are able to use this credit to offset alternative minimum tax. Certain start-up businesses that might not have any income tax liability will be able to offset payroll taxes with the credit as well.

Employee Health Insurance Expenses

For taxable years beginning in 2016, the dollar amount is $25,900. This amount is used for limiting the small employer health insurance credit and for determining who is an eligible small employer for purposes of the credit.

Employer-provided Transportation Fringe Benefits 
If you provide transportation fringe benefits to your employees, in 2016 the maximum monthly limitation for transportation in a commuter highway vehicle as well as any transit pass is $255 and the monthly limitation for qualified parking is $255 (up $5 from 2015). Parity for employer-provided mass transit and parking benefits was made permanent by PATH.

While this checklist outlines important tax changes for 2016, additional changes in tax law are more than likely to arise during the year ahead. Don’t hesitate to call if you want to get an early start on tax planning for 2016!

 As we all know it is Tax Season and we are always here to help! We encourage you to send us all your tax information so we can process your tax return sooner. Please feel free to contact us for more information at (877)305-1040 or email us at info@onts9.com