Immigrants and Tax Return Filing

On November 20, 2014 President Obama announced an executive action on immigration which could extend relief from deportation to an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants.

 

The administration has not said which documents it will accept, however, we believe that the Citizenship and Immigration Services which vets applications under Homeland Security may require 5 years of accurately prepared tax returns as additional proof of residence if applicants claim to have worked in the United States since their arrival.

 

 

Those who have filed accurate tax returns with their Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITIN) and have retained their records will be light years ahead of those who have not. We recommend that you and your tax preparers get ready to answer tax questions for those applying for this new program.

Make sure you have tax preparation software setup for at least the past 5 years.

  1. Understand what documentation your clients need for a W-7
  2. Paystubs
  3. W-2s
  4. 1099 Miscellaneous forms
  5. Paid baby sitter receipts
  6. Traffic tickets
  7. Receipt books
  8. Expense receipts
  9. Amending prior year returns (filing status, dependents, earnings, etc.)
  10. Searching the Internet may help find documentation

House Passes $42 Billion Plan to Revive U.S. Tax Breaks for 2014

The House of Representatives voted to revive dozens of lapsed U.S. tax breaks for this year and set them to expire again on Dec. 31.

The 378-46 vote today would provide $42 billion in temporary relief to taxpayers, including companies that rely on the research tax credit and the production tax credit for wind energy. It provides no certainty for 2015, though lawmakers said the one-year extension was the best available option after a broader deal collapsed.

“This is a short-term fix when Congress needs to work toward a long-term solution,” second-ranking House Democrat Steny Hoyer of Maryland said during floor debate. Hoyer said he was voting for the measure although “it isn’t what I hoped for.”

The bill now heads to the Senate, where Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden has complained that it excludes tax breaks for the health care of laid-off workers and the purchase of plug-in electric motorcycles. Wyden also would prefer a bill that would continue breaks through 2015.

Lindsey Held, a spokeswoman for Wyden, said Republicans rejected a “reasonable, balanced” proposal Nov. 30.

Wyden ’Disappointed’
“We are disappointed that at this point there doesn’t appear to be a procedural path forward,” she said.

President Barack Obama said today that the administration is open to a short-term extension. He hasn’t said whether he would sign the House bill.

The tax breaks, which ended Dec. 31, 2013, aid businesses and individuals. Corporations including Citigroup Inc. and General Electric Co. would benefit from the ability to defer U.S. taxes on overseas financing income. Companies making capital purchases would have faster writeoffs.

Individuals who sold their homes for less than what they owed would be able to exclude the forgiven debt from income.

Abandoned Deal
The House vote came about a week after lawmakers abandoned efforts to reach a larger deal on reviving tax breaks that would have exceeded $400 billion over a decade.

That bipartisan plan, which was being negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, would have locked in some benefits including the research tax credit by removing their expiration dates.

Most of the other breaks would have been extended through 2015.

The talks fell apart when Democrats, including Obama and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, objected to the lawmakers’ plan not to revive an extension of tax credits for low-income and middle-income families.

Obama threatened to veto the emerging proposal.

The tax-break bill, H.R. 5771, will be combined with a Senate bill, H.R. 647, to create tax-advantaged accounts for disabled people.

Such accounts “will give those individuals a chance to realize their hopes and their dreams, to be able to be part of the American dream,” said Representative Ander Crenshaw, a Florida Republican, during floor debate.

2014 Tax Provisions for Individuals: A Review

From tax credits and educational expenses to the AMT, many of the tax changes affecting individuals for 2014 were related to the signing of the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) in 2013–tax provisions that were modified, made permanent, or extended. With that in mind, here’s what individuals and families need to know about tax provisions for 2014.

Personal Exemptions
The personal and dependent exemption for tax year 2014 is $3,950.

Standard Deductions
The standard deduction for married couples filing a joint return in 2014 is $12,400. For singles and married individuals filing separately, it is $6,200, and for heads of household the deduction is $9,100.

The additional standard deduction for blind people and senior citizens in 2014 is $1,200 for married individuals and $1,550 for singles and heads of household.

Income Tax Rates
In 2014 the top tax rate of 39.6 percent affects individuals whose income exceeds $406,750 ($457,600 for married taxpayers filing a joint return). Marginal tax rates for 2014–10, 15, 25, 28, 33 and 35 percent–remain the same as in prior years.

 

Due to inflation, tax-bracket thresholds increased for every filing status. For example, the taxable-income threshold separating the 15 percent bracket from the 25 percent bracket is $73,800 for a married couple filing a joint return.

Estate and Gift Taxes
In 2014 there is an exemption of $5.34 million per individual for estate, gift and generation-skipping taxes, with a top tax rate of 40 percent. The annual exclusion for gifts is $14,000.

Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
AMT exemption amounts were made permanent and indexed for inflation retroactive to 2012. In addition, non-refundable personal credits can now be used against the AMT.

For 2014, exemption amounts are $52,800 for single and head of household filers, $82,100 for married people filing jointly and for qualifying widows or widowers, and $41,700 for married people filing separately.

Marriage Penalty Relief
The basic standard deduction for a married couple filing jointly in 2014 is $12,400.

Pease and PEP (Personal Exemption Phaseout)
Pease (limitations on itemized deductions) and PEP (personal exemption phase-out) limitations were made permanent by ATRA (indexed for inflation) and affect taxpayers with income at or above $254,200 (single filers) and $305,050 for married filing jointly in tax year 2014.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
Flexible Spending Accounts are limited to $2,500 per year in 2014 and apply only to salary reduction contributions under a health FSA. The term “taxable year” as it applies to FSAs refers to the plan year of the cafeteria plan, which is typically the period during which salary reduction elections are made.

Specifically, in the case of a plan providing a grace period (which may be up to two months and 15 days), unused salary reduction contributions to the health FSA for plan years beginning in 2012 or later that are carried over into the grace period for that plan year will not count against the $2,500 limit for the subsequent plan year.

Further, employers may allow people to carry over into the next calendar year up to $500 in their accounts, but aren’t required to do so.

Long Term Capital Gains
In 2014 taxpayers in the lower tax brackets (10 and 15 percent) pay zero percent on long-term capital gains. For taxpayers in the middle four tax brackets the rate is 15 percent and for taxpayers whose income is at or above $406,750 ($457,600 married filing jointly), the rate for both capital gains and dividends is capped at 20 percent.