Weekly Letter

IRS Extends Deadlines for Victims of Hurricane Michael

IRS Extends Deadlines for Victims of Hurricane Michael Hurricane Michael victims in parts of Florida and elsewhere now have until Feb. 28 to file certain individual and business returns and make certain tax payments. Individuals who reside or have a business in Bay, Franklin, Gulf, Taylor and Wakulla Counties may qualify for tax relief. Taxpayers in localities added later to the disaster area, including those in other states, will automatically receive the same relief. If you need assistance, contact your enrolled [...]

“Cyber-Safe” October 12, 2018

Hello, fellow computer users, I was recently on a refresher webinar about cybersecurity regarding what must be done to secure our computers and by extension our company. There are several points that I need to talk to you about, especially if you own a business: There is a federal law that can hold all business liable of up to $100,000 per company and $10,000 per officer if the firm does not have various security measures in place or a cyber-security plan in [...]

Do I Have to Pay Estimated Taxes?

Who Must Pay Estimated Taxes Do I have to pay estimated taxes? This is a normal question to ask, but it is important especially if you’ve made any changes in your profession. The Estimated Tax Rules Apply to: U.S. citizens and resident aliens; Residents of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa; and Nonresident aliens General Rules In most cases, you must pay estimated tax for 2018 if both of the following apply. You expect to [...]

Go Yankees!- October 5, 2018

Hello, my fellow taxpayers, I am writing this email on Thursday night, while I watch the Yankees play the A’s. Right now, they are winning 2-0, thanks to an Aaron Judge home run. By the time you read this, we will know if your friendly neighborhood Enrolled Agent will be depressed or ready for the Red Sox on Friday night. In any case, it really is just a game and it does not have any effect on me personally. What I’m [...]

Fall is here! September 28, 2018

Hello, my fellow taxpayers, Now that it is officially Fall (actually, it began on the 21st), Autumn, or the Autumnal Equinox (“mid-autumn”) and if you are like me, you are wondering where the cooler weather is. Today, on the east coast, we reached the low 90’s while it feels like it is 100+ with the humidity. I was hoping to wear a “fallish” sports coat and suit for my two speaking engagements on the west coast of Florida this weekend. [...]

Tax Breaks with an IRA

Tax Breaks with an IRA What is an IRA? Individual Retirement Arrangements – aka IRAs – are accounts into which someone can deposit money to provide financial security when they retire. Why would a taxpayer consider having one? Well, here’s what especially peaks our interest: different IRA’s offer different tax breaks. How Do I Get One? A taxpayer can set up an IRA with a: Bank or other financial institution Life insurance company Mutual fund Stockbroker COMMON TERMS Traditional IRA: A traditional IRA is an individual retirement account that offers advantages to taxpayers. [...]

Clean Up Your (Tax) Act: Small Business Edition

Organizing Your Tax Documents Having a small business and filing your taxes is a whole lot different from filing personal taxes – and honestly, it’s not a walk in the park, especially if you’ve never done it before. Because this isn’t something we have to do every day, it’s easy to overlook and wind up a little messy and unorganized. Life was much easier as a kid, but now we’re grown-ups with grown-up responsibilities. It’s time we clean up our [...]

Crypto- September 21, 2018

Dear Fellow Taxpayers, Cryptocurrency, virtual currency, bitcoin, etherium. What do these terms mean? They are part of the new world of paying for things or investing in the new millennium. So why is your friendly, neighborhood Enrolled Agent talking about this? Should this not be coming from a financial advisor? The answer, as with anything relating to investments, the answer is yes. A financial advisor should be always be consulted. However, like most anything, there are tax consequences to this new avenue of investing. I am [...]

Clean Up Your (Tax) Act

Organizing Your Tax Documents Let’s be honest, sometimes we’re all a little messy and unorganized. Life was much easier as a kid, but now we’re grown-ups with grown-up responsibilities. It’s time we clean up our acts a bit. Waiting until the end of the year to collect our records for tax season is a pain in the a**. We often tend to forget when thinking about what’s important to DO because we’re thinking about what’s important to US. The holidays, family, a [...]

Crypto: The Basics

What is Cryptocurrency? A cryptocurrency (or crypto currency) is a medium of exchange using cryptography to secure the transactions and to control the creation of new units. Cryptocurrencies are a subset of alternative currencies, or specifically of digital currencies. Bitcoin became the first decentralized cryptocurrency in 2009. Since then, numerous cryptocurrencies have been created. Where to buy Crypto? Your first step into the cryptocurrency world will probably occur through an exchange. There are two main types of exchanges: The first type of exchange [...]

Money Alert: Your Tax Checkup

Here’s something the public generally turns a blind eye towards… your yearly tax changes. Have you used the Tax Withholding Calculator to ensure your employer is withholding the correct amount from your paychecks? If not, it might be time to check in with your enrolled agent and make sure. You may owe more than you think, or better yet, you may be entitled to a greater return. Paycheck Checkups are particularly critical for people who: • Have a two-income family. • Have [...]

Hurricanes and taxes, oh joy!

Hello, Fellow Floridians (and those that are not). We hope that all of our friends, family, business associates that live or have family and friends in the Carolinas are safe and that Hurricane Florence is not impacting them too severely. Though it was downgraded one level as of this writing on Thursday, the storm surges are expected to be robust and dangerous as Florence is now the size of both of the Carolinas. All of us at SFS are hoping [...]

How Does the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act Affect Small Businesses? Part Three: What it Means For Your Clients

In part one of this series, we covered how the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act affects you as a small business owner. There are also provisions that affect your clients and may have an effect on the market in general. Mortgage Interest Debt Deduction Limitations The mortgage debt deduction limit is now $750,000 for new loans, or those that originate after December 14, 2017. Any existing mortgage debts of up to $1 million can be deducted. Existing mortgage debts can also be refinanced [...]

Meet our new staff member Sam!

Good Afternoon to All, It has been a short week and I just returned from attending IRSAC meetings in Washington D.C. However, I do want to take a moment to mention that Ali’s assistant Carol has moved on and Samantha Braun has signed on as our new Marketing and Social Media Specialist. Sam is a great addition to the SFS Team and will serve as Ali’s new right hand.   She has been working in the design and marketing industries for about [...]

Finally! A Tax Debt Resolution Option

AN OFFER IN COMPROMISE If you’re having trouble affording payments to the IRS to settle any outstanding debts, consider applying for their settlement program, an Offer in Compromise. The Internal Revenue Service offers this as a solution to those who owe more money than they can afford to pay. This allows you to eliminate your tax debt and is a great chance for a fresh start. If approved, the IRS accepts a lesser amount – sometimes even just a fraction of [...]

A Plan a Day Keeps the IRS away: Back Taxes

The IRS is considered the most brutal collection agency on the planet – backed by the power of the federal government. No wonder you’re shakin’ in your boots gripping onto those back taxes you owe. Burying your head in the sand is no way to make these taxes subside. If anything, doing nothing will only make things worse due to penalties and interest. You’re Risking Having: Your paycheck garnished Your bank account levied The IRS filing a Notice of Federal Tax Lien – making [...]

Are You Making One of These Four Tax Mistakes?

The world of taxes is one big minefield to navigate. Unless you spend most of your waking hours studying it as Enrolled Agents do, you probably won’t know all the tips and tricks to lower your tax bill – legally. There are also tax savings to be had if you are “in the know.” Don’t get tripped up… find out about these four tax mistakes that can impact your wallet. #1 – Not Using Your Tax-Favored Accounts to the Max These days there [...]

Tax deadline coming up, do you have to file?

Hello Clients, Friends and Business Associates, I am here in my office this entire week, can you believe it? This email is a final reminder to those businesses that have not filed their 2017 partnership or corporate (S or C) return. Your due date is September 15th. If you do not file that return, there are penalties for late filing a partnership or S-corporate return, even when there is no tax due. The same can be said for a C-corporation when there is [...]

How Does the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act Affect Small Businesses? Part Two: Your Deductions

In part one of this three-part series, we looked at changes to the income tax rates and brackets. Income is only a piece of the tax puzzle, however. The next part to examine would be your deductions. With the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, there are several new tax laws impacting your deductions.   New 20% Pass-Through Deduction This is a brand new deduction on qualified business income (QBI) for pass-through businesses – sole proprietors, partnerships, limited liability corporations (LLCs) and S corporations. This [...]

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Top Five Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Tax Planning Opportunities for Individuals in 2018

Since folks have not filed a 2018 tax return, the new tax law passed late last year is largely a mystery to many. Here are the top five opportunities that you may be unaware of. Take advantage of these insights to maximize your refund and minimize your tax debt. #5 — Itemized deductions versus the standard deduction The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act roughly doubles the standard deduction. This means that for 2018, joint filers can enjoy a standard deduction of [...]

Attention Truckers: Tax Deadline Directly Ahead

Look out! We’re down to just five days to file Form 2290 (also known as the Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax Return). The IRS is expecting a fleet of 800,000 tax returns to be submitted during the filing season, which runs from July 1 to August 31, 2018. What is the Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax? This is an annual tax on heavy highway vehicles paid by truck owners and operators. It applies to vehicles with a taxable gross weight [...]

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act- August 24th

  Dear Clients and Friends, In late 2017 Congress passed a significant tax bill called the TCJA, (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) which resulted in lower total Federal income taxes for many Americans. Most Americans pay their Federal income tax through withholding taxes taken out of your check every pay period. At the end of the year, many people find that they have overpaid and receive a nice Federal tax refund.   The law changed this year will result in less total tax, but [...]

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How Does the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act Affects Small Businesses? Part One: Your Income

The most sweeping change to tax law in decades was ushered in late in December of 2017. The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act has many provisions that affect small businesses… and their clients. Let’s look at your income first. Lower Income Tax Rates Income tax rates have been lowered for all but two income tax brackets. The tax cuts in (most but not all) of the brackets are obvious. What’s more subtle are the effects of the shifts to the income tax brackets [...]

What’s new in the SFS Tax office – August 17

Today I am sharing a bit of “What’s new in the SFS Tax office.” We are pleased to announce that we have added a new staff member to our team, our daughter Marissa Adler. She will be our new Office Manager. Ali and I have two kids, and while our son Cameron toils away at Ross University School of Veterinary School in St Kitts West Indies, Rissy decided to join the “family business.” She is doing an awesome job of [...]

Are You or Someone You Love Going to College, Find Out About Tax Credits that Can Help Offset the Cost, SFS Tax and Accounting Services, College Student, Backpack, University

Are You or Someone You Love Going to College? Find Out About Tax Credits that Can Help Offset the Cost

There is no doubt that the cost of college can be high. Outside of winning the lottery or racking up student loan debt, there’s another way to help if you are footing the bill – whether it be for you, your spouse or one of your dependents. There are two tax credits that apply here: American Opportunity Credit The American Opportunity Credit gives you tax deductions of up to $2,500 for each eligible student (100% of the first $2,000 in qualified expenses [...]

IRC §199A- August 10th

   Hi, my friends,   I am still alive and kicking. Why do I say that? It is because I have been in the office all week and my staff has not murdered me, yet. Also, I have been moaning and groaning the last 18 hours as the IRS issued three documents of 184 pages, 14 pages, and two pages respectively related to an important part of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, which was 11,000+ pages itself. This part called IRC §199A relates [...]

Dog Days of Summer, That Means Extended Tax Deadlines are Coming, Give Yourself Time to Avoid These Common Mistakes, SFS Tax and Accounting Services, tired dog, hot dog, brick paved streets

Dog Days of Summer? That Means Extended Tax Deadlines are Coming! Give Yourself Time to Avoid These Common Mistakes

Air conditioners everywhere are feeling the strain. It’s the steamy dog days of Summer and deadlines are coming up fast. We are a little over 10 weeks to the extended deadline for 2017 individual tax returns. Businesses have until September 15th, or only about six weeks, to get their returns in. You need to give yourself plenty of time to prepare your return – or to have it prepared by a professional – as well as time to review it in detail. Mistakes [...]

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Helping Students… Or a Nasty Surprise? Student Loan Forgiveness Can Create a Big Tax Debt

Student loan debt levels are out of control. Need proof? The class of 2017 graduated with an average of $39,400 in debt. Some graduates have balances much higher than that – up to $100,000 or more – ballooning even higher as interest continues to rack up after they graduate. Many students didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. And if parents co-sign for these loans, they can also be subject to wage garnishments and other nasty consequences. (BankRate’s “3 Terrifying Student Loan Horror [...]

Starting a New Business? 10 Things You Need to Know

To be in charge of your own destiny – that is the dream of many would-be entrepreneurs. For those trapped in an everyday open office existence – longing for a modicum of privacy, a raise, or even just flexible hours – the allure of business ownership can be strong. Workers cited the chance to be their own boss (75%), not having to answer to a boss (64%), and increased flexibility (74%) as reasons for striking out on their own in a [...]

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Thinking of Renting Your Home? There are Tax Consequences

With the rise of Airbnb (along with hotel prices), it’s not a surprising trend. Homeowners looking to earn some extra income are renting out their homes to short-term visitors. In August 2017, Business Insider reported that Airbnb had 4 million listings. That’s more than the combined total of all top five hotel brands. At the same time that short-term rentals have exploded, long-term renting has also been on the rise. More people are choosing to rent their homes instead of owning one. The number [...]

Ramblin’ Man- July 27

Hi Folks, “Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man Tryin’ to make a livin’ and doin’ the best I can And when it’s time for leavin’ I hope you’ll understand Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man” A great song from the Allman Brothers Band that you can watch here: Ramblin’ Man. And that is just how I felt since May with all the traveling and teaching I have been doing. I want to again thank all of you for your patience and understanding while I have [...]

Suing over SALT, Could we see a reversal on the State and Local Tax Deduction Cap, SFS Tax, SFS Tax and Accounting Services, law books, law libraries

Suing Over SALT: Could We See a Reversal of the SALT Deduction Cap?

On July 17, four states filed suit against the federal government over the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act (TCJA) reduction of the state and local tax deduction. The TCJA limited the deduction to $10,000 per year for all state and local property, income, or sales tax. This new cap is going to hit certain states harder than others. While New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland brought the suit, residents of other high-tax states will also feel the pain. What’s Their Argument? The [...]

Are You a Favored Business, The New 20% Pass Through Deduction can Make a Big Difference in Your Tax Bill, SFS Tax, SFS Tax and Accounting, Ball of Money, Silhouette, Loking for Tax Favored Status

Are You a Favored Business? The New 20% Pass-Through Deduction Can Make a Big Difference in Your Tax Bill

One of the winners from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 are pass-through businesses… but only at certain income levels, and then for only certain types of businesses. What’s the Deal? New tax code Section 199A creates a totally uncomplicated 20% tax deduction on qualified business income if you operate a sole proprietorship, partnership, an LLC or an S corporation and you: Are married filing jointly with less than $315,000 in taxable income, or Are a single filer with less [...]

Education- July 20th

Hi Folks, As many of you know from chatting with me, or you have read my posts on social media, I have been traveling to various tax professional groups teaching and educating on a variety of subjects. The topics range from the new tax law, or ethics – how to pay less than what you owe, to how much the shareholder of an S-corp should pay themselves (I call this reasonable comp). Depending on the topic, I spend 2-4 hours [...]

Is it a Hot Dog, a Sandwich, or a Flying Superhero, National Hot Dog Day, Taxes & Life as We Know It, SFS Tax, hot dog, superhero, guy dressed as a hot dog

Is it a Hot Dog, a Sandwich, or a Flying Superhero? National Hot Dog Day, Taxes & Life as We Know It

As we reflect on the ubiquitousness of hot dogs in American life – they are all over our sports stadiums, ensconced in our movie theatres, and popping up at food carts dotting our urban streets –  our minds (of course) turn toward taxes. It may surprise you that in New York, where I hail from, hot dogs were the subject of a heated tax debate. Hot Dog as a Sandwich Sandwiches in New York are a sales-taxable item. Therefore, if a hot [...]

What is the Sharing Economy and Why Should I Care, SFS Tax, SFS Tax and Accounting Services, woman working, woman in glasses, side ponytail, brunette, laptop, paintbrushes, colored pencils

What is the “Sharing Economy” and Why Should I Care?

Ever thought about becoming an Uber driver part-time? How about renting out a spare bedroom in your home? Maybe offering your dog walking services via Craigslist? Any of these actions would put you in what the IRS refers to as the “sharing economy.” What is the Sharing Economy? Although “sharing” can imply the word “free,” it is not what IRS means when they use the phrase. The official explanation of the term on the IRS website is: “…the sharing economy allows individuals and [...]

Tax Form Updates- July 13th

Hi Folks, It’s Monday, and I am watching the Yankees get beat up in the make-up game against the Orioles. I have to see what happens tonight in the regularly-scheduled game. This is the time to play catch-up in wins. Playing Catch-up, that is the point of this email. Unless you have been living in a cave, you should know that Congress passed the first massive tax code changes since 1986 and it is called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. [...]

Look Out, The Taxes are Coming, Supreme Court Decision Opens the Door for State and Local Internet Sales Taxes, SFS Tax, Woman Shopping Online, Credit Card, Gold Card

Look Out! The Taxes are Coming… Supreme Court Decision Opens the Door for State & Local Internet Sales Taxes

Things are about to change in the realm of state and local taxes and Internet purchases, thanks to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on South Dakota vs. Wayfair, Inc. But First, Some Background… In order to understand the wide-reaching impacts of this decision, you need to know a little bit about how this case came to be. Currently, many smaller businesses generally do not charge sales tax to customers in other states, unless the business meets certain criteria. One of these [...]

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Did You Owe Taxes this Year? You Need a Paycheck Checkup!

If you wrote a check to the IRS in April for 2017 taxes, there’s a good chance you could be doing it again for 2018 – for an even bigger amount. Not only that, but the IRS warns that if you underpay your taxes too much, penalties and interest will apply. Unless, of course, you take evasive action now. The best way to find out what you need to do with a paycheck checkup. An Enrolled Agent (EA) can look at your [...]

Independence Day- July 6th

To My Fellow Taxpaying Americans, As I write this email, I am watching the Yankees play the Braves. The great American pastime! I hope you all had a wonderful July 4th celebration. It was on this day that we celebrated our independence from the Redcoats across the pond. It was at this time that our founding fathers set up a government to serve the people. However, serving the people costs money, and that’s where taxes came in. Yeah, yeah, taxes are too high, [...]

It All Started with Taxes, How a Giant Tea Party Led to Independence Day as We Know It, SFS Tax, SFS Tax & Accounting, Boston Tea Party, July 4th

It All Started with Taxes: How A Giant Tea Party Led to Independence Day as We Know It

It All Started with Taxes: How A Giant Tea Party Led to Independence Day as We Know It. An SFS Tax & Accounting Blog.  It was probably cold the night of December 16, 1773. Three ships – the Beaver, the Dartmouth, and the Eleanor – were moored at Griffin’s Wharf in Boston Harbor. They had just completed a long journey across the Atlantic. Onboard was 92,000 pounds of tea in 340 chests… approximately 18.5 million cups of tea. All of it had [...]

Note to Business Owners, It Can be Costly to Ignore 1099 Requirements, SFS Tax, Woman in Business Dress, Ipad, windows, urban environment

Note to Business Owners: It Can be Costly to Ignore 1099 Requirements

With changes and updates happening to the tax law continually, it can be hard to stay up-to-date. For business owners and 1099s, though, it’s critical to get it right. Penalties can go into the five-digit territory – not something you need… ever! Most business owners I know work hard every day to take care of their businesses. As you may already know, business owners must file Form-1099-MISC to each vendor or subcontractor to whom they have paid $600 or more in services, [...]

“Postcard” Tax Return- June 28

Hi Folks, As I am 40,212 feet, just north of Savannah Georgia, travelling home from Bow, Washington, through Seattle with a stop in New York City (JFK Airport to be exact) before landing in Orlando, then driving home (all after sitting in the Seattle airport for 6.5 hours waiting to catch a red-eye), I realized that I did not write my weekly email. I humbly apologize, pilgrims, as I know how you hold your breath waiting for the words of wisdom [...]

Say Goodbye to Unreimbursed Employee Expenses, SFS Tax, SFS Tax and Accounting Services, Woman biting pencil, yellow pencil, colored pencils, laptop, office window

Say Goodbye to Unreimbursed Employee Expenses

Medical professionals paying out of pocket for their uniforms. Road warriors who don’t get the federal mileage rate from their employers. Teachers buying supplies for their classrooms. All these folks can be affected by the disappearance of the unreimbursed employee expense deduction. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed into law in late December 2017, put an end to it as of the 2018 tax year. What are Unreimbursed Employee Expenses? Going to work every day comes at a cost. Some of [...]

Enrolled Agents- June 22

Hello folks, As you all know, I am an Enrolled Agent and very proud of that fact. I am also a member of the Florida Society of Enrolled Agents or FSEA and the National Association of Enrolled Agents, the NAEA. In fact, I am the current Education Chair and a Past President of the FSEA. This past Thursday – Saturday, the FSEA held their annual convention. I joined my fellow Enrolled Agents and other tax professionals for 18 hours of continuing education [...]

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Plan Now, Pay Less Later: What is Tax Planning and Why Do I Need It?

The only constant is change. That applies just as much to your taxes as it does to anything else in life, and it’s why tax planning is so important. The biggest tax change in several decades went into effect on January 1, 2018.  It’s called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and it can make a significant difference in the amount of tax you will pay. Income Tax Rates Change; Tax Brackets Shift There have been changes to both the tax [...]

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3 Summer Financial Tips for Kids

Ahhh… summer! Enjoy a more relaxed schedule, warmer weather, backyard barbeques and sandy-yet-fun trips to the beach. In between all of the activity, it’s good to incorporate life lessons that don’t require textbooks (or flotation devices). It’s old-fashioned learning by example! Starting financial education when kids are young will leave them well equipped to handle money well when they are grown. Give Kids an Income… and Help them Manage It It doesn’t have to be a lot. A few dollars a week can [...]

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Do You Make Quarterly Tax Payments? It’s a Little Trickier This Year

Figuring out quarterly tax payments is a little more complicated this year. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of December 2017 ushered in over 500 pages of tax code revisions. Among other changes, it lowered tax rates and created a deduction for pass-through entities and the self-employed. It also does away with personal exemptions and suspends some itemized deductions. However, there is a need for technical corrections, which may come this summer. Even so, there are penalties for underpaying your quarterly tax obligation. [...]

Marriage June 1, 2018

Hi Folks, As I was reviewing the newsletter that you received yesterday, it prompted the topic for my weekly email. The question in the newsletter was from an unsolicited call I received from folks that found me on Google. She was worried about her soon to be husband’s tax issues (it always seems to be the guy that has the problems). They came in, we got him compliant and filed all his past due tax returns. He owed on some and [...]

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Senior Financial Fitness – What You Need to Know

It’s never too late to get financially fit. Here are some simple and painless ways to build your financial muscle. 1. Take another standard deduction. If you are 65 or over, you are entitled to another standard deduction (if you don’t itemize). Those standard deductions have nearly doubled in 2018. A tax professional can determine if you are better off taking those standard deductions or itemizing. 2. Continue to make contributions to a retirement plan. It’s perfectly legal for you to put [...]

The Seesaw Standard Deductions and Child Tax Credits Double, Personal Exemptions Vanish, What it All Means, SFS Tax Problem Solutions, Family of Four, Tropical Location, Beach Background

The Seesaw: Standard Deduction & Child Tax Credit Doubles, Personal Exemptions Vanish – What it All Means

Part Two of What did the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act Do to My Income Tax?  In part one of this series, we covered the changes to the ordinary income tax brackets and rates. Your income is only part of the story in determining how much tax you will pay. Also factoring into the equation is the standard deduction amount, which has nearly doubled, as well as the personal exemption, which has vanished. This is good news for single filers and [...]

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What Did the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act do to My Income Tax? Part One of a Two Part Series

Many changes were ushered in by the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act which passed in December 2017. Depending on your tax situation, the most impactful changes for individuals were to: Ordinary Income Tax Rates and Brackets Standard Deduction Amounts The Personal Tax Exemption For those with children, the doubling of the child tax credit can also make a difference. In the first of this two-part series, we’ll look at the changes to the ordinary income tax rates. Income Tax Changes: Most Will Pay Less, Some [...]

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Another Hurricane?! Use This Tax Holiday to Get Ready!

Many of us remember the wrath of Hurricane Irma last September. It seems like yesterday! It can be tough to face the possibility of another one (already). Nonetheless, hurricane season starts this Friday. This might get you in the mood to prepare, though… Floridians will get a week-long disaster preparedness sales tax holiday. It runs Friday, June 1 to next Thursday, June 7. Qualifying disaster preparedness items are exempt from sales tax during this period. What’s a qualifying item? Check the list below from [...]

Top 5 Ways Wine Helps with Your Taxes, SFS Tax, Red Wine, White Wine, Grapes, Wine Barrels, Wooden Tables

Top 5 Ways Wine Helps with Your Taxes

In honor of National Wine Day, we’re counting down the ways that wine can help you when it comes to your taxes. Raise your glass and toast to this! 5. Wine is good for your heart. You may need a healthy ticker when see your tax bill. 4. Wine preserves your memory. Can’t remember where those receipts are? Drink up. Researchers found that women in their 70s who drank at least once a day scored better on memory tests than those who drank [...]

Always Traveling….and Jeff’s big ask!

Hi Folks, As most of you know, after tax season and a few days of well-deserved R&R I traveled to DC for IRS meetings. I then left for San Antonia and Georgia to teach at two affiliates of the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA)and then it was off to LA for business meetings. I’m traveling to Louisiana, Atlanta, San Antonio (again), Orlando, Washington State, and Mississippi and that gets me through July 6th. Ali and I have a cruise booked [...]

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Tax Avoidance vs. Tax Evasion…Which One is Legal? (The IRS Said So)

Everyone knows you’re supposed to pay your taxes. If you don’t, that’s illegal. It’s called tax evasion. But what about avoiding taxes? Believe it or not, it’s not quite the same thing. The IRS defines tax avoidance as “an action taken to less tax liability and maximize after-tax income.” This is perfectly legal. Tax evasion is the “failure to pay or a deliberate underpayment of taxes.” It’s what can land you in hot water with the IRS. It could also land you in [...]

All About Tips, the Kind You Give at Restaurants, SFS Tax, Waiter Serving Food

All About Tips (the Kind You Give at Restaurants)

All About Tips (The Kind You Give at Restaurants). An SFS Tax & Accounting Services Blog.  This shouldn’t be news to anyone, but who are we to judge? It’s worth repeating: The money that you receive in tips is taxable. If you receive $20 or more a month in tips, you need to report them. You must pay tips on all income received during the year, including tips given to you from customers, tips written in on credit card slips, and the tips [...]

HSA- May 3, 2018

Hi Folks, I am here in DC for the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council (IRSAC) meetings. Even in my travels, I try to stay on top of all current events and most especially tax matters, that will affect my clients. If you have a Health Savings Account or HSA, either through work, your business or personally, this is important news. Before the new law, The Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA), was passed in January, the 2018 contribution limit for a [...]

New Twist on an Old Scam, IRS Warns of Crooks Directing Taxpayers to IRS website to verify calls, SFS Tax, smartphone, world map, hands

New Twist on an Old Scam: IRS Warns of Crooks Directing Taxpayers to IRS.gov to “Verify” Calls

IRS scams are like cockroaches. You kill all you find, but there are more hiding somewhere else. These cockroaches, though, keep evolving to outsmart even the wiliest taxpayer. What the Scammers Are Doing Now The latest phone scam still operates the same way as in the past. Criminals call you, claiming to be from a local IRS office. They demand immediate payment for a tax bill… a tax bill that doesn’t exist. Sound familiar? We thought so. Why You Can No Longer Trust Caller ID: Criminals [...]

2 New Associates- April 27

Good Afternoon to All, I am pleased to introduce our new Associates, Diana and Carol. They bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their individual areas of expertise. Diana’s fluency in Spanish allows us to offer our services to the Spanish speaking population and some of our clients have already had the opportunity to work with her in their native tongue. If you are in the area stop by and say hello to the ladies. Diana Machado is our Accounting Associate. She has [...]

Why do we pay taxes anyway, SFS Tax, elderly man

Why do We Pay Taxes Anyway?

Why do We Pay Taxes Anyway? An SFS Tax Problem Solutions Blog.  No one likes paying taxes. It’s easy to focus on that check you write to the IRS each year or quarter. Or complain about the amount withheld from your paycheck. Or kvetch about the tax bite on the sale of our house, our stocks, or our inheritances. There are a lot of benefits to paying taxes though. Let’s face it… the government needs money to run. We could probably argue all day [...]

Always a Deadline It's Not Just About April 17, SFS Tax and Accounting

It’s Not Just About April 17th: IRS Tax Deadlines Happen All Year Long

A lot of focus and attention is paid to April 15th (17th this year) as the big tax deadline. What many people don’t realize – and tax preparers are painfully aware of – is that there are tax deadlines all throughout the year. Individual Tax Deadlines The IRS expected 15 million people to file for an extension this year as reported by the New York Times on April 17. Are you one of them? If so, your 2017 tax return is due October [...]

End of Tax Season- April 19, 2018

Hello to all, Tax day has come and gone. I am at home recharging my batteries and energizing my brain after putting in long hours preparing and filing as many tax returns as possible as well as a ton of extensions. I want to give heartfelt thanks to all of you who made a conscious decision to allow me to prepare your tax return; business, individual, trust, and partnerships. And to  those of you that are on extension, I will be working [...]

Certain People Will Get Extra Time to File Their 2017 Tax Returns, SFS Tax

Personas con circunstancias especiales reciben tiempo adicional para presentar impuestos de 2017

IR-2018-96SP, 16 de abril de 2018 WASHINGTON — El Servicio de Impuestos Internos les recordó hoy a los contribuyentes que una prórroga para presentar la declaración de impuestos está disponible por solicitud, pero ciertos contribuyentes obtienen tiempo adicional sin que tengan que solicitarlo. Cualquier persona puede recibir una extensión de seis meses para presentar su declaración de impuestos mediante el Formulario 4868(SP), Solicitud de Prórroga Automática para Presentar la Declaración del Impuesto sobre el Ingreso Personal de los Estados Unidos. Incluso [...]

Certain People Will Get Extra Time to File Their 2017 Tax Returns, SFS Tax

Certain Taxpayers Get Extra Time to File Their 2017 Tax Return

Para ver este mensaje en Español, Click Aquí Everyone knows to file an extension if they need more time to prepare their tax returns. (Of course, you don’t get an extension on paying your taxes – it’s only for preparing and filing the return). This year, certain taxpayers don’t have to ask for more time. Who are they? Victims of Natural Disasters Receive an Extension Those affected by devastating Hurricane Maria in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands receive more [...]

Wirker clocking out at the end of a shift

Do a Paycheck Checkup and See If You Are Taking Home Too Much Money

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made major changes to the tax law. Because of this, you should do a paycheck checkup and see if you are taking home too much money using the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov and, if necessary, complete a new W-4 form. The calculator will help determine the right amount of withholding and can help prevent having too little (or too much) tax withheld. Recent changes affecting withholding include:  Reduced tax rates  Elimination of personal exemptions  Increased standard deductions: $12,000 for singles, $18,000 for heads of [...]

Watch out for ghost tax preparers, SFS Tax and Accounting, SFS Tax

Watch Out for Ghosts… Ghost Tax Preparers, That Is!

The IRS has issued a warning against “ghost” tax return preparers. These phantom preparers do exist… and they get paid to prepare tax returns . When it comes time to sign the return, however, they won’t (and don’t) do it. They will not acknowledge their participation either in writing or electronically when they file the return. That’s a huge red flag. Ghost tax preparers can be pulling a scam on you. By law, anyone who receives money to prepare your return must first have [...]

Paycheck Checkup- April 12, 2018

Hello Fellow Taxpayers, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made major changes to the tax law. Because of this, you should do a paycheck checkup using the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov and, if necessary, complete a new W-4 form. The calculator will help determine the right amount of withholding and can help prevent having too little (or too much) tax withheld. Recent changes affecting withholding include: Reduced tax rates Elimination of personal exemptions Increased standard deductions: $12,000 for singles, $18,000 for heads of households [...]

Top Five Tax Myths – and the Truth!

It doesn’t matter what your friend’s cousin’s co-worker said. When it comes to taxes, it’s best to get the word from a credible source. In 2016 the Washington Examiner reported there were 74,608 pages in the federal tax code. Some of these pages are the tax code itself. Some are written about the tax code and case law that are important to be aware of as well. Two years later, you can bet there are even more pages to contend with. So it’s [...]

Rushing on Your Taxes? The IRS Recommends Filing an Extension if You Need One, SFS Tax & Accounting

Rushing on Your Taxes? The IRS Recommends Filing an Extension if You Need One

With about a week to go on filing your 2017 tax return, you may be breaking speed records to try to get it done on time. But did you know that the IRS recommends that you file for an extension if you need one? It’s better to file for an extension than to hurry through the return and make a mistake. Mistakes not only cause stress, they may also cost you money. Here are common errors that taxpayers make: Mailing a paper return [...]

Can't File by Tax Deadline? Here's What You Need to Know About Extensions

Can’t File Your 2017 Tax Return by April 17th? Don’t Panic! Here’s What You Need to Know About Extensions

Life gets in our way sometimes. When those W-2s, 1099s, 1098s and other numbered forms arrive in the mail, we know that taxes are coming due. Still, with all we have to do, that awareness can get buried. “We have a few months,” we tell ourselves. “I’ll deal with it later.” Then suddenly you look up and it’s April 6th! Now, you can’t find the forms you need and have to request they be re-mailed to you. Don’t press the panic button yet. There [...]

Get Your 2014 Tax Refund by April 17, SFS Tax Can Help

Hurry! $1.1 Billion in 2014 Tax Year Refunds Will Expire April 17

Did you forget to file your tax return for 2014? If so, you might want to. There is $1.1 billion waiting in IRS coffers for an estimated one million people to file their 2014 tax returns claiming a refund. If you’re one of them, now’s the time to act. “Time is running out for people who haven’t filed tax returns to claim their refunds,” said Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter in an IRS press release. “Students, part-time workers, and many others [...]

Tax Beak?- April 5, 2018

Hello Fellow Taxpayers, I am taking a short break to share some information with you that could affect your tax return. “I take an RMD. And I heard there is a potential tax break when donating, even if I don’t itemize.” What is an RMD (yes, another acronym)? Required Minimum Distributions, often referred to as RMDs, are amounts that the US federal government requires one to withdraw annually from traditional IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans once they reach a certain age. What is a [...]

Sold Your Home? Here's What You Need to Know About Taxes. An SFS Blog.

Sold Your Home? Here’s What You Need to Know About Taxes

Congratulations on selling your home! After you break out the bubbly and toast the sale, it’s time to review your tax consequences. Taxable Gain Exclusion If you meet certain conditions (which we’ll get into below), you can exclude the first $250,000 of any gain you receive. This exclusion doubles to $500,000 for married filing jointly. Now, there are some limits to this. Main Residence Only The taxable gain exclusion applies only to your main residence. If you own two homes as our some of [...]

Claiming Parents as Dependents

Good News for the Sandwich Generation? Claiming Parents as Dependents

Mom and Dad are getting older. They may even be relying on you for support. That’s why it’s good to know that you may be able to claim your parents as dependents. Even if Mom or Dad does not live with you, you may be able to claim him or her as a dependent. This is vastly different from claiming a child as a dependent, where the child must live with you for at least half of the year. The Sandwich Generation: [...]

Had Your Paycheck Checkup Yet?

Don’t Get Shocked with a 2018 Tax Bill – Get Your Paycheck Checkup Now!

As we wind down on the 2017 tax season, there’s another one gearing up. The many tax changes of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are affecting your taxes right now… and have been since January 1. In fact, even if you haven’t changed your withholding – even if you got a refund for 2017 – you may end up owing more in 2018. Or, you may be paying too much. It’s worth the extra time to estimate how much [...]

Missing PoPo- March 29, 2018

Hello Fellow Taxpayers, This will be a very brief email. Ali and I want to thank you for the heartfelt wishes everyone posted on our Facebook pages over the past few days on the loss of our 12½-year-old Golden – Chow, PoPo-Lito. It still hurts. Boodah, our 14-year-old Yorkie is acting, well, like a lost puppy. He keeps looking around for his brother, and when he doesn’t find him, he just lays down. He is moping. By the time you read this, [...]

It's-Not-Too-Late-For-An-IRA-Contribution-Tax-Deduction

It’s Not too Late to Get Your Qualified IRA Contribution Deduction

It’s not too late! You have until April 17, 2018 to make a qualified IRA contribution to receive a 2017 deduction or tax credit. Depending on your income level, you may also be eligible for a Saver’s Credit on top of your tax deduction. The Two Types of IRAs & Your Taxes IRAs – Individual Retirement Accounts – can help you save for retirement. Most working taxpayers are eligible to start or contribute to an IRA. There are two types of IRAs – [...]

Between Appointments- March 22, 2018

Hello All, What Does Jeff do between tax appointments? Provided by the “current” staff at SFS Tax & Accounting Services… It’s 26 days until the tax deadline, and our Enrolled Agent has been working non-stop and coping the best way he knows how… by singing about his feelings! (Often to our chagrin!!) Get an inside look at our tax professional blowing off steam between tax appointments and preparing returns. As an added bonus, you get to enjoy Jeff’s solid baritone vocal stylings. Here are [...]

Outrageous-Tax-Deductions

10 Tax Deductions that Border on Ridiculous

We all need a little humor during these dog days of the tax season. Each year, the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants releases a list of the most outrageous tax deductions clients have tried to claim, courtesy of their CPA members. So we thought we’d take a moment to share these gems with you. 1. Here’s my Home Office… Got your Bathing Suit? Float around and enjoy yourself in your pool, but don’t expect the IRS to give you a break on [...]

Owe Taxes? Can't Pay? You do have Options!

Owe Taxes but Can’t Pay? Here’s What to Do!

You can feel the pressure. The tax deadline is looming and you know you owe the IRS money. Problem is, you owe more than you have sitting in your checking account. Believe it or not, there are options open to you. The best course of action is to find the funds to pay the IRS what you owe by the deadline. Let’s look at a few ways to get the IRS paid: Take the Money out of Savings The meager return on most [...]

FOF?!?- March 15, 2018

Hello Ali, Happy Ides of March! Julius Cesar’s last act was not to heed the warnings of his impending assassination that was prophesied by a seer, and you know how that story ended. About the subject line FOF. You know how we tax people like our acronyms. IRS, OIC, IA, PPIA, IRM, IRC and on and on it goes. Now I have another one: FOF… What is FOF? It is Fear of Filing!!! What does FOF have to do with Julius Cesar? A [...]

Beware the Ides of March! The First Tax Return Deadline is Today

If only William Shakespeare could have traveled back in time to early 44 B.C. He would have been able to warn Julius Caesar about his impending assassination on March 15 by Marcus Brutus. It may not have done any good. Caesar had warnings, according to Shakespeare’s study of the Roman dictator. Yet he ignored the prophecies of his impending doom, and he paid the ultimate price on that fateful ides of March. Would the appearance of a 16th-century playwright/time traveler have changed things? Maybe [...]

Death and taxes… and what you need to know

As you may or may not know, my younger sister recently passed away and Ali and I just returned from the funeral in New York. Thank you to those of you that expressed your well wishes to us. On that sad note, I want you to know that even when there is a death in the family, there may be tax filings, from final 1040s to estate tax returns and the estate’s income return. I am an expert on the preparation of these tax [...]

Death and Taxes- March 8, 2018

Hello All, As you may or may not know, my younger sister recently passed away. Ali and I just returned from the funeral in New York. Thank you to those of you that expressed your well wishes to us. On that sad note, I want you to know that even when there is a death in the family, there may be tax filings, from final 1040s to estate tax returns and the estate’s income return. I am an expert on the preparation [...]

Corporate Due Dates… And spring (training) is in the air

Well, my friends, it is now March, and baseball spring training is back in full (ahem) swing. Not sure why they still call it spring training since most of the time it begins in late winter, but I digress. As most, if not all you who know Ali and me, know we are die-hard Yankee fans (some more die-hard than the other!). I have been a Yankee fan since 1963. My Dad, may he rest in peace, was a staunch [...]

What do you mean I got a refund? I didn't file my taxes yet!

Scammers Are Using Your Bank Account to Rob the IRS

Did you notice a large deposit in your checking account from the IRS? Wondering why it’s there? If you received a refund that you weren’t expecting, beware. It is most likely a scam. Tax scams are nothing new. A new tactic has reared its ugly head this year. It has the added twist of using the bank accounts of unsuspecting citizens to steal from the IRS. How does it work? First, scammers file a fake return in your name. Then they use your banking [...]

Spring is in the Air- March 1, 2018

Hello All, Well, my friends, it is now March, and baseball spring training is back in full (ahem) swing. Not sure why they still call it spring training since most of the time it begins in late winter. As most, if not all of you who know us, know we are die-hard Yankee fans (some more than the other!). I have been a Yankee fan since 1963. My Dad, may he rest in peace, was a staunch Brooklyn Dodger fan back [...]

What the Polar Bear can Teach us about the IRS

Today is International Polar Bear Day. In its honor, we are ruminating on how a polar bear is like the IRS. First, there are a lot of myths about polar bears. Similarly, many people have misconceptions about the IRS. The biggest myth about polar bears is that they hibernate. Actually, only the pregnant ones do. Black and brown bears curl up for a long winter’s nap, but the polar bear has no need. Their unique genetic makeup keeps them warm in the [...]

Tax scams

Scammers Continue to Target TurboTax Users in 2018

TurboTax users beware! That email asking you to take a look at your W-2 may be fake. People who use TurboTax do receive legitimate emails from the online tax service. And that’s part of the problem. Scammers are sending a flurry of fake emails too… and not just for Turbo Tax users. Almost any financial institution or business can be a target. And those scammers are putting in extra efforts to make those emails look real. They are getting more and more [...]

Persistence- February 22, 2018

Hello All, Have you ever started a project that seemed to go smoothly and quickly, then it hits a snag? Well folks, I wrote my first book called, “Now What? I Got a Tax Notice from the IRS. Help!” It is now available on Amazon, will be on Kindle in March and as an audiobook in June. What does this have to do with persistence? Well, I wrote the book over a Saturday and Sunday in August. You heard that right, [...]

top 5 myths about tax refunds

Don’t Fall for These 5 Tax Refund Myths

It’s tax time again! It’s that time of year when those expecting a tax refund watch their bank accounts like a hawk or check their mailbox, waiting and wondering when that refund will arrive. If you are due a refund, it’s natural to want to know when you’ll get it. Every year though, myths about tax refunds abound, causing confusion and needless worry. Thanks to social media, texts, and instant messaging, these untruths spread faster and farther than ever before. So let’s [...]

Feeling the Love- February 15, 2018

Hello All, I hope you had a great St. Valentine’s Day and enjoyed a meal in a nice restaurant. Ali and I love Asian food and decided to go to a Japanese Steak House, Fujiyama in Stuart that was recommended by some networking friends. Next week I will let you know about our experience. This brings up recommendations and reviews. I am sure you have all heard of Yelp. It was originally a “site” where consumers could place and read reviews [...]

Full Tax Season Mode- February 8, 2018

Hello All, Welcome to tax season, 2018. I finally recovered from a sore back which I believe was a precursor to coming down with the flu. I was out of the office all last week and Monday, was my first day back. A little tired, but no real worse for wear. Have you seen the papers? This is the worse flu season in years, and the flu shot is not as effective as everyone thought. In the past 20 years, I [...]

Keep an eye out for the new W-2. There are many people phishing in fraudulent waters trying to bait you.

Keep an eye out for the new W-2 Phishing Scam. There are many people phishing in fraudulent waters trying to bait you.

Business owners the W-2 scam has reared its ugly head once again! The Form W-2 phishing scam that victimized countless businesses and employees last year evolved and also targets schools, restaurants, hospitals, tribal groups, and nonprofits. There are many people phishing in fraudulent waters trying to bait you. The IRS says the Form W-2 scam has emerged as one of the most dangerous phishing emails in the tax community. During the last two tax seasons, cybercriminals tricked payroll personnel or [...]

Oh, My aching back!- February 2, 2018

Hello, All I am back from my freezing “winter experience” in DC. Saturday morning I woke up only to find that my back was out. I toughed it out and spent the day in the office playing catch up. Sunday, which during tax season is a workday, I was in so much discomfort that I could not go to the office. I stayed home, couch-bound with a heating pad on my back. Ali and I vegged out and caught up with [...]

Jeffrey Schneider, EA, CTRS, NTPIF

This week it’s all about, me, Your Tax Professional

This week it’s All About, Me, Jeffrey Schneider, EA, CTRS, Your Tax Professional! I recently had the distinct honor of being selected to serve on the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council. The committee provides an organized public forum for IRS officials and representatives of the public to discuss relevant tax administration issues. IRSAC is a group of like-minded individuals, Enrolled Agents, CPAs, attorneys and folks from tax departments in other industries. I was appointed to serve on the Office of Professional [...]

Jeffrey Schneider, EA, CTRS, NTPIF

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and What You Need to Know

Yep, it’s Monday and not Thursday but last week was a busy one and I wanted to share this information about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and What You Need to Know with you today. What do I do when I am not in the office? A week ago, I was a presenter for the Florida Society of Enrolled Agents’ Annual January Education Events in Deerfield Beach and Lakeland. I was in the office for 1½ days in between. I [...]

Don't Knock Yourself Out! Get help from SFS Tax

Don’t knock yourself out!

Don’t Knock Yourself Out! Get help from SFS Tax. In my last letter to you, my fellow Green Thumbers, I mentioned that Ali and I did a lot of gardening for the fall. What I did not say was that I gave myself a concussion by knocking my head against a tree limb…twice!! Not sure what level of concussion it is, but all I can say is OUCH! Constant headaches, nausea, dizziness the whole gambit. The only thing that [...]

Post Halloween Scammers

Now that Halloween is over and the ghost and goblins costumes have gone back into storage, you need to remember that scammers aren’t done with the impersonations and they keep this up all year round. You can avoid falling for scams by being aware of how and when the IRS contacts taxpayers. Here are eight things you need to know about in-person contact with the IRS employee: The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal There [...]