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, Family Tax Issues, General Information, RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS, Self Employed, TAX DEBT RELIEF, Tax Reduction, TAXES

401k For The Self Employed

solo 401k

You Don’t Have To Work For Others To Have A 401k Plan

In our Chicago South Loop tax preparation office, we often meet people that are ready to leave their jobs & start a new business.  If you’re new to entrepreneurship, or even a veteran (seasoned) business owner, you may not realize that you can start an IRS qualified retirement plan for your business. The best thing about a small business owners solo 401k is that if you’re leaving your old an employer, you can transfer your current 401k plan to your own company’s 401k!

Transferring your 401k to a traditional solo 401k will help you avoid LOSING YOUR INVESTMENT TO TAXES & PENALTIES! Don’t want to leave your employer? No problem! You can still have a traditional or roth 401k plan with your own company, as long as you don’t defer more than the IRS yearly contribution limit.

WHAT DOES IT DO? A traditional solo 401k allows you to exclude income from currents years’ taxes,and defer the income for taxation at a later time. Build your retirement income, and maintain access of up to 50% of the funds’ assets through loans.

WHAT WILL IT SAVE ME? With the traditional solo 401k, you will be able to defer up to $56,000 of taxable income in 2019, and $57,000 in 2020. For example, if you generate $100,000 in business revenue, expenses, you would be taxed on the remaining $60,000. With a solo 401k, you can defer $19,000 as an employee of your company, and $15,000 for the employer contributions giving you a total deduction of $34,00 (leaving you with a taxable income of $26,000). By using this method you would remove yourself from the 22% tax bracket, and place yourself into the 12% tax bracket giving yourself a tax bill (including self employment taxes) of $4,650 instead of a $13,509 tax bill!

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WHAT CAN I INVEST IN? If you choose the traditional 401k plan, you will be able to invest in securities such as stocks, bonds, ETFs, commodities, and more. Should you choose a self directed Solo 401k, you can invest in things such as real estate, businesses, antiques, and more.

WHAT IF I HAVE OTHER RETIREMENT PLANS? Any contributions you make to other types of retirement accounts, such as IRAs, do not affect your 401(k) contribution limit.

WHY DO I NEED IT? Retirement plans are an important element of a tax reduction plan. While an IRA is a good plan, if you need to access your money, you will have to pay a penalty. Those that can, should have a mix of 401k and traditional and Roth IRA’s.

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Solo 401k Contribution Calculator: What is the maximum amount you can contribute?

The Solo 401k Contribution Calculator allows you to calculate the maximum amount you can contribute to your plan. Click on the link below, enter requested info below and click the “Submit” button to see your results. A PDF document will be generated with the option for you to save or print it. It is very important that you select the correct business type; please note that Sole-Proprietor is selected by default (if your business is a single member LLC, select the Sole-Proprietor type). For an alternative calculator click HERE.

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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Family Tax Issues, General Information, REAL ESTATE, Self Employed, TAX DEBT RELIEF, Tax Reduction, TAXES

Are you a homeowner marrying a homeowner?

architecture building buy buyer

In our Chicago South Loop Tax Preparation office, we frequently meet with engaged couples for tax planning purposes. An issue that comes up often is the one of homeowners marrying each other. Engaged couples that each own a home have to decide which home to move into, & which home to rent out, or sell. Keep reading to see how you can sell your home and pay ZERO TAXES on up to $500,000!

1.) Don’t sell until AFTER THE WEDDING. If you sell your personal residence for a profit, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 as a single person, and up to $500,000 if you’re married. In order to get the entire $500,000 both spouses must have used the home as their primary residence for at least 2 years out of the last 5 years. If only 1 spouse used the home as a residence, the maximum exclusion will be $250,000. 
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2.) File your taxes married filing jointly. Check with your tax professional to see if this is the best filing status for your situation. Tax debt, student loans, and child support obligations need to be taken into consideration before choosing this status.

3.) Sell the home that at least 1 of you have lived in for 24 months out of the last 5 years. In order to qualify for the personal residence capital gain exclusion you must meet the ownership and residency test. Per IRS.gov “If you owned the home for at least 24 months (2 years) out of the last 5 years leading up to the date of sale (date of the closing), you meet the ownership requirement. For a married couple filing jointly, only one spouse has to meet the ownership requirement.

HOWEVER, for the residence test, the IRS says: unlike the ownership requirement, each spouse must meet the residence requirement individually for a married couple filing jointly to get the full exclusion. If you owned the home and used it as your residence for at least 24 months of the previous 5 years, you meet the residence requirement. The 24 months of residence can fall anywhere within the 5-year period, and it doesn’t have to be a single block of time. All that is required is a total of 24 months (730 days) of residence during the 5-year period.

4.) If you’re going to rent the home, remember to account for any property improvements when figuring your basis for depreciation. For example, if you purchased the home for $100,000 & you’ve added a $10,000 porch, and a $20,000 roof, your basis (amount of money in the property) is now $130,000. There are other rules that need to be considered when figuring tax basis, so consult a tax professional.
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5.) If you rent to family, family includes only your spouse, brothers and sisters, half brothers and half sisters, ancestors (parents, grandparents, etc.), and lineal descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.). MAKE SURE TO CHARGE THEM FAIR MARKET VALUE FOR RENT so that you don’t lose out on valuable tax deductions!

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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Family Tax Issues, General Information, Self Employed, TAXES

Is the Money on My Prepaid Card FDIC-Insured?

FDIC INSURED
To protect your funds, make sure your card is insurable and registered Banks insured by the FDIC offer a wide variety of financial products beyond traditional checking and savings accounts, including prepaid cards.

A prepaid card allows you to use a card to make purchases at stores, withdraw cash from ATMs, or to pay bills online without accessing a bank account or line of credit. Since these cards usually are not linked to a checking or savings account, consumers often ask, “Does the FDIC also insure the funds on my prepaid card?” The answer could be, “Yes,” but there are some important initial issues to understand.

If the FDIC-insured bank that issued the card was to fail, the funds available on your prepaid card may be insurable as long as:

  • your prepaid card is eligible for FDIC deposit insurance coverage,
  • you properly register the card, and
  • specific deposit insurance requirements are met (listed below).

The first step is to determine whether the prepaid card is eligible for FDIC deposit insurance coverage. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau enacted new rules effective April 1, 2019 (to learn more visit New Protections for Prepaid Accounts), which require financial institutions to provide a disclosure as to whether or not your prepaid card is insurable for those cards linked to an FDIC-insured bank.

While the new disclosure rules make it easier to find information about FDIC insurance coverage for a specific prepaid card, you must also register your card with the card issuer if your card is designed to be insurable, so that the FDIC can identify you as the cardholder in the event the bank fails.

Sometimes a card is issued directly by an FDIC-insured bank and sometimes by a third-party that will simply use a bank to hold prepaid card funds. If the third-party is managing the record-keeping for the prepaid card, the third-party will have the responsibility to provide the FDIC with the information about the owners of the cards and the balance on each prepaid card at the time the bank fails.

The bank’s records for FDIC insurable prepaid cards must meet the following requirements:

The account must be appropriately titled (names the owner or owners of the account) in the bank’s records and indicate that the prepaid account provider is going to be acting as the cardholder’s agent, which could include duties such as transferring funds on your behalf when you make a purchase and keeping track of the balance on your prepaid card as you add or withdraw funds.

If the bank fails, the card issuer as your agent will need to provide the FDIC a list identifying each cardholder and the balance on each card at the time the bank fails.

The contractual agreement among the financial institution, the prepaid card issuer and the cardholders must indicate that the individual cardholders are the owners of the funds.

Assuming you properly register your prepaid card, if the FDIC-insured bank that issued the card was to fail, you as the consumer would be insurable for up to $250,000, subject to aggregation with other similarly owned deposits you may have in the failed bank (for more information visit FDIC deposit insurance).

In addition, having FDIC deposit insurance coverage does not cover certain events, such as if your prepaid card is lost or if someone gains access to your prepaid card and steals the funds. In these situations, there could be other legal options available for you to try to recover your funds, such as those that may be described in your account agreement or provided under state or federal law.

It’s important to note that this information does not apply to gift cards. For information on gift cards, visit Giving or receiving gift cards? Know the terms and avoid surprises.

For more information about prepaid cards and similar products, see the FDIC’s webpage on prepaid accounts at Prepaid Cards and Deposit Insurance Coverage.

For more help or information, go to FDIC.gov or call the FDIC toll-free at 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342). Please send your story ideas or comments to consumeraffairs3@fdic.gov

Family Tax Issues, General Information, Retirement Income, Self Employed

12 Things you need to know about your parent.

senior

While I am focused on helping small businesses grow by reducing their taxes, and organizing their books, I firmly believe that health of body and mind leads to wealth. To help you be better prepared in the event of an emergency involving your parents/loved ones, below (in order of importance) is a list of 12 things you need to know about your aging parents’ health.  If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call us!

WHAT ARE THE NAMES OF THEIR DOCTOR’S & SPECIALIST? If you don’t know anything else, this is probably the most important piece of information. Why? Chances are good that your parents’ doctors can provide much of the rest of the information needed as well as more details about your parents’ specific health histories.

Do they have any major medical problems? This includes such conditions as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, etc.

What Medications are they on? Have a list of medications and supplements. It’s especially important that a doctor know if your parent uses blood thinners. It’s also important for your doctor to know if your parents take any vitamin or herbal supplements (as these might interact with medications given in an emergency situation.

What is their previous medical history? Have they had any surgeries and major medical procedures? List past medical procedures including implanted medical devices such as pacemakers.

What is their insurance information? Know the name of your parents’ health insurance provider and their policy numbers.

What Are their End-of-Life Wishes? For instance: Would you want a ventilator and feeding tube used to keep you alive even in an irreversible coma? Do you want CPR initiated if your heart stops, even if you are terminally ill? Make sure the health care proxy is aware of your parent’s decisions.

Do they have any ADVANCE DIRECTIVES? An advance directive (living will, Do Not Resuscitate aka DNR, etc) is a legal document that outlines a person’s decisions about his or her health care, such as whether or not resuscitation efforts should be made and the use of life-support machines.

Have they named a durable power of attorney to manage their finances, or healthcare?
The first step is to find out if they have named a Durable Power of Attorney (POA). Without a POA in place, you’ll have to go to court to get guardianship of your parent in order to access accounts on their behalf.

Where do they keep their financial records and important documents?
Whether they keep their money and documents in a bank, a safe, or under the mattress, you need to know where to find records when you need them. What is the location of keys or codes to lock boxes or safes?

What are their bank account numbers and names of their financial institutions?
In addition to knowing where they keep their money, you need specifics on all account numbers. What banks do they use? Who is their mortgage company? Do they have an investment firm?

What are your parent’s monthly expenses?
Gather information on their mortgage, car payment, credit card debt, electric bill and other expenses.

How do they pay their bills currently, ESPECIALLY THEIR LIFE INSURANCE!!
If there are automatic deductions being taken out of a checking account, you need to know about it. Do they use online banking, or are they mailing in paper checks? DO NOT ASSUME!

This list was provided to us by our partner nonprofit agency  Senior Resource Group Inc. The mission of Senior Resource Group Inc.

is to remove access barriers to service, empower seniors through education, lower prescription drug cost, consolidate resources, and mobilize assistance.

Senior Resource Group Inc. services range from locating no cost insulin for diabetics; applying clients for prescription drug grants; locating local/state/federal and private assistance programs; explaining Medicare; and identifying the lowest cost Medicare supplements, health plans, & insurance solutions. Each of our clients are given an extensive individual interview so that our advocates can uncover every transportation, tax, food, and medical discounts he/she may qualify for.

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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