business taxes, Family Tax Issues, General Information, Self Employed, TAX DEBT RELIEF, Tax Reduction, TAXES

How Serious Is your IRS Letter?

race
Has the IRS sent you a collections letter? How serious is that letter? Can you stroll to the phones, or do you need to break and run to the phones and call for help?

Listed below are the most common IRS collection letters that one may receive when they have tax debt. I’ve listed them in order from stroll to the phones (low detection on the IRS radar) to break and run to the phone lines & get help (requires immediate action).

CP14 – Casually stroll (No sense of real urgency).

CP501 – Put a little pep in your step (Take notice).

CP503 – Speed walk (Decide to do something).

CP504 – Start Jogging (things are getting very serious).
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Letter 1058/LT11 – (Final Levy Notice)—Run like you’re trying to lose weight. —act now or lose your collection due process rights (your right to a hearing and a stop of collection).

CP90/CP91 – Run like you’re trying to lose weight. Another form of Final Notice of Intent to Levy.

CP71 – 10 Day Final Notice of Intent to Levy. RUN LIKE YOU’RE BEING CHASED IN A HORROR MOVIE. Act now, you are out of time.

Although we’ve given you the basics, this is not an all-inclusive article. Should you have questions, need help with tax debt, business tax preparation, business entity creation, business insurance, or business compliance
assistance please contact us online, or call our office toll free at 1-855-743-5765 or locally in Chicago or Indiana at 1-708-529-6604. Make sure to join our newsletter for more tips on reducing taxes, and increasing your wealth.

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General Information, Retirement Income, RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS, Self Employed, TAX DEBT RELIEF, Tax Reduction, TAXES

SORTING OUT CONVERSIONS

roth conversion

We’re getting closer and closer to the end of a tumultuous 2019 and almost daily in our  Chicago tax office, we’re handling phone calls from clients asking for more ways to save on their tax bills.

Now, that’s nothing new, but these days, the strategies are. One of the biggest savings, long-term, is converting traditional retirement savings structures to Roth-based structures.

The granddaddy of all of these, of course, is the Roth IRA. What makes it so special? Well, for starters, you pay taxes up front. In 401(k)s and Traditional IRAs, those taxes a deferred until retirement or a certain age is reached.
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Guess what? That’s a terrible idea! Who knows what the tax bill could look like in two, three or even four decades! Pay those taxes now and get them out of the way.
Here’s what makes most people nervous about converting a traditional 401(k) or IRA into a Roth structure.

You gotta pay taxes on it. Period. That’s it! You’ll pay – at least this year, on what you converted. In the future, of course, you’ll have already paid taxes on those monies or earnings prior to placing them into a Roth, but for a lot of people, that one-time conversion “tax” can be painful.

Don’t let it be. You’d have to do nearly the same thing if you took an “emergency” dispersion due to a financial challenge that forced you to crack open one of those retirement accounts. In most cases, anyway, the funds will be diverted out automatically, so your “payment” is really painless.
Just a little mental anguish.

Besides, you’re paying taxes on money you literally have in your hands!
Once you actually have a Roth set up, it’s surprisingly easy to convert old accounts to them.
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You’ll essentially do one of three things:

• Execute a “Rollover” where monies from one account are drafted in a check to you, the account holder, and deposited into the new account within 60 days.
• Execute a “trustee to trustee transfer” where your current institution will transfer the monies from your account there to your Roth account elsewhere.
• Or execute a “same-trustee transfer” where you’ll merely instruct the institution to convert the current account to a Roth standard.

See? It’s not hard and, in fact, it’s easier than many types of banking we all do on a daily or weekly basis. In the long run, though, the tax savings can be considerable, and when you consider this is the money you’ll be using to fund your retirement, it’s important to understand – or know – all that money is yours, not the taxman’s!

Let us know how we can help you sort through all these challenges and we’ll chat soon! Although we’ve given you the basics, this is not an all-inclusive article. Should you have questions, need help with tax debt, business tax preparation, business entity creation, business insurance, or business compliance
assistance please contact us online, or call our office toll free at 1-855-743-5765 or locally in Chicago or Indiana at 1-708-529-6604. Make sure to join our newsletter for more tips on reducing taxes, and increasing your wealth.

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Business Strategies, business taxes, General Information, notary, RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS, Self Employed, signing agent, TAX DEBT RELIEF, Tax Reduction, TAXES

HUGE WIN FOR NOTARY SIGNING AGENTS

women s in gray turtleneck sweater pointing white contract paper

Author Trudy M. Howard

In our South Loop Chicago Tax Preparation office, Howard Tax Prep LLC works with entrepreneurs from various industries; however, there are 2 industries that give entrepreneurs a built in self-employment tax deduction. To take advantage of built in self employment tax reductions, one must be employed as a minister, or a notary. While this article will deal with notary signing agents, the same concept can also be applied to ministers.

Per IRS publication 17: “Notary public. Report payments for these services on Schedule C (Form 1040) or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040). These payments aren’t subject to self-employment tax.” ees received for services performed as a notary public. Also, the instructions for IRS schedule SE reads: “if you had no other income subject to SE tax, enter “Exempt—Notary” on Schedule 4 (Form 1040), line 57. Don’t file Schedule SE.”

So how do you know what part of your loan signing agent payments are for notary services only? It’s simple, you count the # of stamps that you made, and exclude your travel, printing, and shipping/faxing cost. For example, let’s say that you have a 30 page loan document, and you charge $80 for the the total signing, $30 of which is strictly for the notary stamps. Using the above example, if you properly DOCUMENT your job, you can exclude the $30 (the charge for each stamp) from self-employment taxes (the 15.3% Medicare & Social Security taxes aka FICA).

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Although I’m pretty sure that you probably don’t want to do anymore documentation, the IRS requires documentation for deductions, and this is a HUGE deduction! Don’t let the lack of documentation, or lack of tax preparers knowledge keep you from taking advantage of the self employment tax reduction for notaries/signing agents (& ministers). While most tax reduction strategies require the use entities, retirement vehicles, and state laws, this simple yet effective tax deduction only requires you to itemize your notary fees, & document your work. Below, please find a basic example of the potential savings.

$80,000 Signing agent income.
-$20,000 expenses
$60,000 in taxable income.
$60,000 in taxable for self-employment taxes.
Self-employment taxes on $60,00=$8,478
Income taxes assuming single person no children=$4,013 TOTAL TAX BILL=$12,491

$80,000 Signing agent income.
-$20,000 expenses
$60,000 in taxable income.
$30,000 taxable income for self-employment taxes
Self-employment taxes on $30,000=$4,239 EASY TAX SAVINGS OF $4,239.
Income taxes assuming single person no children=$4,013. TOTAL TAX BILL=$8,252

Although we’ve given you the basics, this is not an all-inclusive article. Should you have tax debt help questions, need Chicago business tax preparation, business entity creation, business insurance, or business compliance assistance please contact us online, or call our office toll free at 1-855-743-5765 or locally in Chicago or Indiana at 1-708-529-6604. Make sure to join our newsletter for more tips on reducing taxes, and increasing your wealth.

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Business Strategies, business taxes, Family Tax Issues, General Information, RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS, Self Employed, Tax Reduction, TAXES

Impact of Death, Retirement, & Disability on the 179 Tax Deduction

hospital work process

What tax effect would death, retirement, or disability have on you or your business?

Here’s an easy example to illustrate.

Let’s say that in 2017, you purchased (for business use) a pickup truck with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 6,000 pounds. Asserting that you use the pickup 100 percent for business, you expensed the entire $55,000 cost.

What happens to that $55,000 expensed amount if you die, retire, or become disabled before the end of the vehicle’s five-year depreciation period?

Death

If your heirs are not going to pay estate taxes, your death is about as good as it gets. Here’s why:

  • You get to keep your Section 179 deduction. (It goes to the grave with you.)
  • Your pickup truck gets marked up to fair market value. (Remember, you expensed it to zero, but now at your death, the fair market value is the new basis to your heir or heirs.)

Example. Using Section 179, you expensed the entire cost of your $55,000 pickup truck. You die. Your daughter Amy inherits the pickup at its fair market value, which is now $31,000, and sells it immediately for $31,000. Here are the results:

  • You get to keep your Section 179 deduction—no recapture applies.
  • Amy pays zero tax on her sale of the pickup truck.
  • Your estate includes the $31,000 fair market value of the pickup, and if your estate is less than $11.4 million, your estate pays no estate taxes.

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Disability

This is ugly. If you become disabled and you allow your business use of the pickup to fall to 50 percent or below during its five-year depreciable life, you must recapture and pay taxes on the excess deductions generated by the Section 179 deduction.

To make matters worse, you must use straight-line depreciation in making the excess-deduction calculation.

Retirement

With retirement, you have exactly the same problem as you would have if you became disabled. In fact, with retirement, you disable your business involvement, and that makes your pickup truck fail the more-than-50-percent-business-use test, resulting in recapture of the excess benefit over straight-line depreciation.

Takeaways

You need to consider what happens should you become disabled, or retire, or die.

Although we’ve given you the basics, this is not an all-inclusive article. Should you have tax debt help questions, need Chicago business tax preparation, business entity creation, business insurance, or business compliance assistance please contact us online, or call our office toll free at 1-855-743-5765 or locally in Chicago or Indiana at 1-708-529-6604. Make sure to join our newsletter for more tips on reducing taxes, and increasing your wealth.

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BUSINESS CREDIT, Business Strategies, business taxes, General Information, RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS, Self Employed, TAX DEBT RELIEF, Tax Reduction

Proprietors and Partners Mistakenly Pay Themselves Illegal W-2 Wages

activity board game connection desk

In our Chicago South Loop Tax Preparation office, we often see sole proprietors and partners who are above the Section 199A thresholds look for W-2 wages as a means to salvage the 20 percent deduction allowed by Section 199A. They also often look enviously at the fringe benefits that are available to employees and not to them as sole proprietors or partners.

To overcome getting shorted on the Section 199A deduction or being denied fringe benefits, some sole proprietors and partners instruct their payroll services to make them W-2 employees. When the payroll services do this, the proprietors and partners believe they are now legitimate employees of their proprietorships and partnerships. Wrong. Totally wrong.

  • The sole proprietor may not be a W-2 employee of his or her sole proprietorship.
  • A partner may not be a W-2 employee of a partnership.
  • Some sole proprietors and partners have had their Certified Professional Employer Organization (CPEO) treat them as employees. Also, wrong!
  • Using a CPEO does not create the possibility of paying a W-2 wage to a partner or a sole proprietor.

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Takeaways

The sole proprietor is not a W-2 employee of the proprietorship. He or she is self-employed and operates under the rules for the self-employed. The partner is not a W-2 employee of the partnership. He or she is a partner and is treated as a partner under the
tax rules. Partners receive remuneration for services as guaranteed payments, which are subject to self employment taxes.

The single-member LLC is a proprietorship unless the member elects treatment as an S or a C corporation. Similarly, a multi member LLC is a partnership unless it elects treatment as an S or a C corporation.

Although we’ve given you the basics, this is not an all-inclusive article. Should you have tax debt help questions, need Chicago business tax preparation, business entity creation, business insurance, or business compliance assistance please contact us online, or call our office toll free at 1-855-743-5765 or locally in Chicago or Indiana at 1-708-529-6604. Make sure to join our newsletter for more tips on reducing taxes, and increasing your wealth.

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BUSINESS CREDIT, business taxes, Family Tax Issues, General Information, Retirement Income, RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS, Self Employed

7 KEYS TO SETTING & STICKING TO A BUDGET!

group of women sitting in front of table

Author Trudy M Howard. 

In our South Loop Chicago Tax Office, we not only help clients with tax planning to reduce their taxes, but we also draft personalized financial wellness plans.  If you want to eliminate debt, be prepared for an emergency, and retire with confidence, you must learn how to budget your finances. Not only do you want to set a budget, but you need to STICK TO YOUR BUDGET in order to be successful. Keep reading to find out the 7 KEYS TO SETTING & STICKING TO A BUDGET.

1.) Set realistic amounts: If you know that you like to shop, or that you don’t like to cook, don’t set a budget of $25 a month for shopping and dining out.

2.) Use cash instead of a debit/credit card. Retailers know that consumers spend more when they use their card instead of spending cash. Every Sunday withdraw enough for your gas, lunch, groceries, and incidentals.

3.) Watch your funds: Balance your checkbook! Don’t rely on the online banking system to give you current balances, as some purchases may not show for 24-48 hours later. Balancing your checkbook also helps you avoid overdraft fees, and less overdraft fees equal more savings!

4.) Stick to your entertainment budget: Use a prepaid debit card for your entertainment cost. Once the card is empty, you’ll know that you’ve reached your entertainment budget for the week. Be prepared to say NO to invitations from friends, and don’t feel as if you need to provide a detailed explanation about your financial situation.

5.) Expect unexpected expenses. No matter how disciplined you are in sticking to your budget, just as sure as the sun rises in the East, and sets in the West, I can GUARANTEE YOU that some unplanned expense is going to come up. Whether it be an increase in fuel cost, an increase in your utilities, or an unexpected dental emergency, expect to spend an extra $100-$150 a month.

6.) Track every purchase for the next 30 days. In order to get a clear look at your spending habits, you need to track all of your purchases. From the gum that you purchased, to the car note that you paid, Record. Every. Single. Purchase. Although you can use your bank statements to track your spending, writing down the figures can help you identify and remember areas of your concern.

7.) Pay bills on time to avoid late fees and bad credit. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can destroy a budget faster than a late payment fee! If you don’t like having your bills set to auto pay, try using google calendar to set a reminder the day before a bill is due. Not only does paying your bills on time increase your credit score, but it also creates more wealth building opportunities.

Although we’ve given you the basics, this is not an all-inclusive article. Should you have questions, or need business tax preparation, business entity creation, business insurance, or business compliance assistance please contact us online, or call our office at 855-743-5765. Make sure to join our newsletter for more tips on reducing taxes, and increasing your wealth.

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BUSINESS CREDIT, Business Strategies, business taxes, General Information, RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS, Self Employed, TAX DEBT RELIEF, Tax Reduction, TAXES

What is the De Minimis safe harbor $2,500 Expensing ($5,000 with AFS)?

adult chill computer connection

It’s a new year, and in preparation for the Chicago small business tax preparation season, you can elect the de minimis safe harbor to expense assets costing $2,500 or less ($5,000 with audited financial statements or something similar).

The term “safe harbor” means that the IRS will accept your expensing of the qualified assets if you properly abided by the rules of the safe harbor.

Here are four benefits of this safe harbor:

  1. Safe harbor expensing is superior to Section 179 expensing because you don’t have the recapture period that can complicate your taxes.
  2. Safe harbor expensing takes depreciation out of the equation.
  3. Safe harbor expensing simplifies your tax and business records because you don’t have the assets cluttering your books.
  4. The safe harbor does not reduce your overall ceiling on Section 179 expensing.

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Here’s how the safe harbor works. Say you are a small business that elects the $2,500 ceiling for safe harbor expensing and you buy two desks costing $2,100 each. On the invoice, you see the quantity “two” and the total cost of $4,200, plus sales tax of $378 and a $200 delivery and setup charge, for a total of $4,778.

Before this safe harbor, you would have capitalized each desk at $2,389 ($4,778 ÷ 2) and then either Section 179 expensed or depreciated it. You would have kept the desks in your depreciation schedules until you disposed of them.

Now, with the safe harbor, you simply expense the desks as office supplies. This makes your tax life much easier.

To benefit from the safe harbor, you and I do a two-step process. It works like this:Schedule-button-nb

Step 1. For safe harbor protection, you must have in place an accounting policy—at the beginning of the tax year—that requires expensing of an amount of your choosing, up to the $2,500 or $5,000 limit. I can help you with this.

Step 2. When I prepare your tax return, I make the election on your tax return for you to use safe harbor expensing. This requires that I attach the election statement to your federal tax return and file that tax return by the due date (including extensions).

Although we’ve given you the basics, this is not an all-inclusive article. Should you have tax debt help questions, need Chicago business tax preparation, business entity creation, business insurance, or business compliance assistance please contact us online, or call our office toll free at 1-855-743-5765 or locally in Chicago or Indiana at 1-708-529-6604. Make sure to join our newsletter for more tips on reducing taxes, and increasing your wealth.

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