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So You Filed Your Taxes. Now What?

Posted By Kenyatta Turner, LegalShield Independent Associate, Friday, May 6, 2016

YOUR POST TAX FILING CHECKLIST

After filing your taxes there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for next year’s filing, protect yourself from scammers and even ease worry about a potential audit. This may include storing documents where you can easily find them, protecting your personal financial information from thieves and being ready should you be selected for an audit. 

•    Hold on to your tax documents. Save copies of your return as well as all of the receipts and other documents you use to prepare your taxes. Keep the documents in a safe and accessible location. You may be asked to produce documents to back up your return. Having all of the information organized and accessible will make it easier for you to validate your return should the IRS come calling. It is a good rule of thumb to retain your tax records for six (6) years. While you may not need all of your tax documents for that long, it is better to have them available should you need them.

•    Keep your documents safe. Whether you file online or use a professional you must keep your personal information safe. Tax returns are a goldmine for identity thieves. Never store sensitive information on public computers or transmit financial information through unsecured WiFi. 

•    Watch for signs of identity theft. Your tax information may be at risk of falling into the wrong hand at no fault of your own. Scammers have been targeting human resources and payroll professionals. Scammers have requested W-2s by email using spoofing to pose as company executives. Click here to learn more about this scam. If you believe you may be the victim of identity theft and you have an IDShield membership call (800) 806-3991. If you do not have an IDShield membership visit www.IDShield.com to learn more.

•    Beware of phony audit or IRS correspondence. If you receive a phone call at home or work from someone claiming to be an IRS official collecting a debt do not make a payment or provide them with your personal information. Scammers pose as IRS officials and use severe threats to convince victims to make immediate payment or to provider personal financial information. The IRS will not contact you by phone, email or in person for an audit or to collect back taxes. Legitimate communication from the IRS will come via postal mail. Do not respond to, open or click on any links in emails claiming to be from the IRS. If you believe you may owe back taxes you should contact the IRS directly at 800-829-1040 or the Canada Revenue Agency at 800-959-8281.

•    Be ready if you are audited. Only a small percentage of tax payers will ever face an audit, but the threat alone is enough to make many worry. Often, you will simply be asked to clarify a particular portion of your return rather than face a full audit. If you are audited, your LegalShield family plan offers audit legal services starting with your tax return due on April 15th of your first membership year. This includes an attorney at your initial audit meeting and if necessary an attorney to represent you further at the preferred member rate. If you receive notice of an audit, call your LegalShield provider law firm right away.  http://www.legalshield.com/hub/kenyattaturner

•    Improve the process for next year. If getting your documents together to file and figuring out deductions was difficult this year, learn from those challenges. Is there a better way to track expenses or file receipts? Figure out how to improve the process so you don’t face the same headaches next year.

-LegalShield

 

Tags:  bookkeeping  identity protection  identity theft  IRS  legal competency  tax planning  tax strategy  taxes 

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Tax Resources for Small Businesses

Posted By George (Clint) Frederick CPA PLLC, George Frederick CPA PLLC, Saturday, April 30, 2016

 

Tax Resources for Small Businesses

National small business week is May 1 – 7.  Your friends at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are there to help.  Do you believe, "Hello, I’m from the IRS and I’m here to help you!”  Actually, in my experience they are getting to be a bit more friendly, if not helpful in assisting business to succeed.  IRS e-News for Small Business irs@service.govdelivery.com 2016-1, for small business published on April 29 will assist small business. 

The IRS letter follows.  It provides links to seminars, tips, forms, recommendations, events, and instructions.  The first link under tax resources, "Small Business and Self-employed One Stop Resource, is particularly helpful, especially if one is contemplating a new business.

e-News for Small Businesses

April 29, 2016

Tax Resources for Small Businesses

Small Business and Self-Employed One-Stop Resource

Small Business Forms & Pubs

Small Business Events

Small Business Webinars

e-File for Businesses and Self-Employed

Businesses with Employees

Small Business Products

Self-Employed Individuals

S Corporations


Other Resources

Find it Fast!

All Forms and Pubs

Filing Your Taxes

Make a Payment

IRS Tax Gap

Taxpayer Advocate Service

Retirement Plans

Tax Information for Charities
and Other Non-Profits

State Links

SSA/IRS Reporter

IRS Social Media

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Issue Number:  2016-1

Inside This Issue

 

1.     National Small Business Week, May 1 – 7

2.     Help IRS promote the free webinars using Thunderclap

3.     Work Opportunity Tax Credit

4.     Reminder for employers and providers: file health coverage information returns 


  1.  National Small Business Week, May 1 – 7


During National Small Business Week, IRS is offering a series of educational webinars for small businesses and self-employed taxpayers.

Register now for:

Back to top


  2.  Help IRS promote the free webinars using Thunderclap


Thunderclap is a "crowd-speaking" platform that lets individuals and companies rally people together to spread a message.

Supporters on Thunderclap signup and agree to share a message on social media accounts, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr.

Follow this link http://thndr.me/wuPspB for the IRS Small Business Week Thunderclap:

  • Select support with Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr
  • Click on the "Support With” tabs to authorize Thunderclap to post this one-time message to your social media platform
  • Input social media username and password

It's  completely safe and will automatically post only one message on your own social media account.

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  3.  Work Opportunity Tax Credit


Recent legislation extended the Work Opportunity Tax Credit  retroactively for 2015 for employers that hire members of targeted groups.

It also expanded the targeted groups of individuals to include qualified long-term unemployment recipients.

Back to top


  4.  Reminder for employers and providers: file health coverage information returns


The deadlines to file information returns with the IRS are approaching for self-insured employers, applicable large employers and health coverage providers.

IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2016-47 has more information.

Back to top

 

Tags:  entrepreneur  IRS  small business  tax planning  tax strategy 

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Five Ways To Avoid Tax Foolishness

Posted By Jason Trujillo, Woodbury Financial, Monday, April 6, 2015

Five Ways To Avoid Tax Foolishness by Steve Parrish

Article appeared on April 6th, 2015 on Forbes.com.

Click here to read original article.

Between April Fools’ Day and Tax D-Day (April 1 through April 15), taxes are on many people’s minds. With all the April fooling behind us, what better time to start taking tax savings seriously?

The challenge is to avoid foolish tax moves caused by the panic of an impending deadline and bad news from your tax advisor. I talked with a business owner friend who visited his tax advisor last weekend. He commented, “Once I heard that my taxes had gone up, even though my income hadn’t, I stopped listening.”

Ignoring tax planning opportunities? Foolish.

Another acquaintance told me he planned on saving taxes by “setting up some sort of trust.” Until he understands his plan and is certain that this “sort of trust” is founded on good law, his tax strategy has the potential to be foolish as well.

Taxes may be inevitable, but you have some say over how much you pay in taxes and when. Let’s consider five tax strategies, and ponder whether they are an unwitting, belated April Fools’ joke or are a tax relief tactic to consider for next year’s April 15 filing deadline.

Delay

Some taxpayers are tempted to delay filing their tax return and, even worse, delay paying their taxes. As long as an extension is filed, a delayed return is not necessarily a problem. Delaying payment is definitely a problem. Both interest and penalties will apply.

In many ways, putting off paying the IRS by April 15 is tantamount to a very expensive payday loan. There are better ways to borrow money for taxes than borrowing from the IRS.

Defer

A few years ago, it was considered passé, even foolish to defer income. The thinking was that taxes would go up, so it made sense to pay tax currently while tax rates were low.

The situation has changed. Taxes have already gone up. Accordingly, a legitimate strategy is to defer taxes, particularly as part of a retirement strategy. An advantage to deferring is not only the time value of money saved on the deferred taxes but also the potential to pay future taxes at a lower rate.

Your money may currently be subject to a high marginal tax bracket because of the Alternative Minimum Tax, the Net Investment Income surtax and other high-income-tax regimes. But income you receive during retirement may not be subject to these additional taxes.

You will likely be in a lower income bracket and not subject to those high-tax-bracket regimes. Consider deferring taxes by contributing to your 401(k) or your nonqualified deferred compensation plan. Or, use your after-tax excess income to fund a tax-favored product such as municipal bonds, annuities or cash value life insurance.

Deduct

It’s hard to argue with taking a legitimate tax deduction.

Incurring the expense simply to generate the deduction? Foolish.

The highest tax rate is still not much more than 50 percent. Why pay $2 for something you don’t need just to save $1? There are instances, though, where you get something for your expense. For example, money put into your qualified retirement plan is money saved for retirement – and you get a tax break besides.

There are other tax-advantaged benefit plans such as health, disability and life insurance programs.

Declare

It sounds foolish to say “pay taxes now,” but in many cases this is an opportunistic tax approach. Look for situations where either:

  1. The asset is expected to substantially increase in value in the future.
  2. Or where the product being used has future tax advantages. That way you pay tax on the seed but not on the harvest.

Here’s an example of a future gain idea. In certain situations, the holder of a stock option can elect current taxation in lieu of paying tax when the stock option is actually exercised. It’s commonly called an “83(b) election.” If the anticipated appreciation on the option is high enough, it makes sense to pay tax now, before the appreciation occurs.

For a tax-favored product example, consider a Roth IRA. You use after-tax dollars now but avoid tax on both the gain and the payout in the future.

Decide

Tax planning should not be a fourth quarter activity. Now that you know what last year’s tax bill is –and while it’s still the first half of the year – do something about it. Decide to save future taxes by doing something now.

Not deciding is a decision. The decision to go through the same foolishness next year. So stop fooling around, and start saving taxes.

 

Tags:  after-tax dollars  Alternative Minimum Tax  annuities  April 15th  April Fools  business owner  IRS  life insurance  payday loan  Principal Financial Group  retirement income  Roth IRA  Steve Parrish  tax brackets  tax deduction  tax extension  tax planning  tax rate  tax return  tax strategy  taxes 

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Dodge The Unknowns In Your Business

Posted By Jason Trujillo, Woodbury Financial, Monday, January 12, 2015

Dodge The Unknowns In Your Business by Steve Parrish

Article originally appeared on Forbes.com on January 12, 2015.

Click here to read original post.

The New Year is a great time to challenge our assumptions concerning what we know about our businesses. A fresh look includes questioning whether business givens are all that accurate. You may be aware of Donald Rumsfeld’s famous comment about the dangers of the unknown:

"But there are also unknown unknowns…the ones we don’t know we don’t know…it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones."

In the business world, the point of this idea is that we need to keep an eye out for those things we don’t know – but think we do. Bad assumptions lead to bad business judgments.

5 assumptions that can lead to bad outcomes

Paraphrasing to protect the innocent, these comments I heard in 2014 demonstrate the business risk of bad assumptions you can avoid in 2015.

  1. I start tax planning late in the year, after I have an idea how the business is doing.” This sounds good on paper, but unfortunately, your options are limited late in the year. Sure, you can make some last-minute equipment purchases, harvest some losses and possibly prepay a mortgage. But the really significant tax opportunities require planning. For example, if you want to capture deductions with a qualified plan or save executive taxes with a nonqualified plan, you need time to research, create and fund these plans. It’s more than just writing a check late in December.
  2. I know the law on this topic because I researched it recently.” I’m preparing to teach a graduate school class on business law and wanted to update my knowledge, so I attended a university lecture on insider trading in December. The professor did a great job. But a week after his lecture many of his points were rendered moot when a federal appeals court in New York overturned two insider-trading convictions. As another example, the Affordable Care Act has already had more than 42 changes from all three branches of the federal government. It’s not the same law it was even six months ago.
  3. Exit planning begins when I’m ready to exit.” Would you want your employees to say they’re not going to worry about retirement planning until they retire? Business exit planning rarely entails just packaging the company financials and walking over to a business broker’s office. Because of some S Corp tax rules, I tell business owners they should start exit planning as early as 10 years before actually selling or leaving their business.
  4. My business will sell for what it’s worth.” This common misconception assumes a perfect marketplace where the seller’s and buyer’s assessment of the business are identical. Unfortunately, no market is perfect. From the buyer’s perspective, the value of a business is dependent on what their objectives are for that business. The offer could be based on the company’s liquidation value, earnings values or strategic value. For the seller, there is the opportunity to proactively take steps that increase the market value of the business. Just as a $4,000 investment in updating a house’s kitchen can increase sale value by $20,000, so too can a business be prepared and staged for sale. Sometimes it is a simple as making capital improvements, finding the right intermediary and timing the market to maximize price.
  5. It’s best to keep my wealth in the business so I can keep control of it.” This is a classic “unknown unknown” for owners of privately held businesses, particularly family businesses. It is assumed that, as wealth builds in the business, it should remain in the business, where it can stay under the watchful eye of the owner. In reality, a family business is almost never a good place to park family wealth. It subjects these assets to additional creditors, generates additional taxes and can create long-term liquidity issues for the owner and family.

5 ways to avoid bad assumptions

No business owner wants to rely on erroneous assumptions. There are ways to maintain a healthy, ongoing review process of business judgments.

  1. Stay current – Busy owners sometimes see knowledge as an item for the to-do list. Learn a topic, and move on. A better approach is to dedicate a certain amount of time to ongoing education. Commit to a set time each week to read relevant magazines, blogs and business journals. Look at knowledge as an ongoing business process rather than a single transaction.
  2. Learn from others – Involvement in breakfast clubs, study groups and online chat rooms is more than just a diversion. It’s a way to test assumptions, identify unknown unknowns and maintain a healthy check on egos.
  3. Use an advisory board – Particularly for single-owner businesses, an advisor board is one of the most effective ways to get a big picture perspective on the business. Trusted advisors can help challenge assumptions and question business judgments.
  4. Use advisors, not transactors – A common complaint I hear from owners who have fast-growing businesses is that they’re outgrowing their advisors. This does indeed happen, and the owner must make sure the advisor team has the competence to advise. Attorneys should do more than draft, accountants more than report and financial advisors more than execute. Again, your advisor team should be able to test your business assumptions.
  5. Work ON your business, not just IN your business – Often the source of bad business assumptions is simple inaction. What worked in the past is the model for the future. A good way to avoid this potentially fatal mistake is to dedicate the time and resources to work on your business as an actual asset. If, on a structured basis, you step away from the day-to-day to treat the business as your key asset, you may expose the assumptions that need to be challenged and reworked. You can be your own best judge, but you have to take on that role.

 

Tags:  accountants  advisors  attorneys  business knowledge  business owners  Donald Rumsfeld  exit planning  family wealth  financial advisors  long-term liquidity  New Year  ongoing education  Principal Financial Group  retirement planning  small business  stay current  Steve Parrish  tax planning 

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Four Year-end Business Tax Planning Mistakes To Avoid

Posted By Jason Trujillo, Woodbury Financial, Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Four Year-end Business Tax Planning Mistakes To Avoid by Steve Parrish. Article originally appeared Nov. 17, 2014 onForbes.com. Click here to read original post. 

It happens every year.

Sometime in November I start getting calls with an amazingly predictable concern:

“My business made good money this year, and now I have to figure out how I can save on the taxes I’m going to pay!”

Maybe next year?

It’s a common lament but one that can cause more trouble than create solutions.

First, there is an implication in the statement that there’s a limit as to how much tax the business owner is willing to pay. Short of giving it away, the math is that more earnings mean more taxes.

Second, the statement assumes that tax planning, and more importantly tax savings, is a task that is a year-end project. It doesn’t work that way.

I sometimes tell business owners that there are only three major things that can be done yet this year to save taxes:

  1. Buy something deductible for the business.
  2. Put more into your qualified plan
  3. Give more to charity.

If, however, your plan is to save, diversify and otherwise be more efficient with taxes in the future, there are myriad ideas that you can initiate this year that will pay off in succeeding years.

A good place to start is to consider what not to do this year to save taxes.

A million reasons

I recently talked with a business owner who paid over $1 million in personal taxes last year. He could easily look at that bill and attempt something crazy to lower this year’s tax bill. But that would be, well … crazy.

Tempting as it may be, there are many quick-fix tax ideas to avoid.

  1. Resist making business decisions where tax is the primary motivator. Look at the many companies making all kinds of employment moves in order to avoid being defined as a large employer for purposes of the Affordable Care Act. While it may be advantageous to keep your workforce below 50 full-time employees tax-wise, good business planning should trump tax planning. Avoiding the “pay or play” features of the new healthcare law is desirable but not necessary. If having 55 full-time employees instead of 49 will increase your earnings by a double-digit rate, is it so bad to be treated as a large employer for tax purposes?
  2. Don’t reinvent the past. Occasionally, I see businesses try to save taxes by attempting to change what happened earlier in the year. In an effort to save employment taxes, they may try to recharacterize owner wages as owner dividends. Or they may set up a nonqualified deferred compensation agreement with income that has already been earned. Figure that the IRS has algorithms capable of picking up such abuses.
  3. Be careful how you move the present into the future. There are a number of ways to legitimately direct money into various tax years. For example, accrual-based taxpayers can commit to and tax deduct arrangements such as qualified plans and executive bonus policies this year but actually pay for them early next year. The danger, however, is when the movement of money is done haphazardly and without sound tax advice. Attempts to save taxes by postponing the cashing of a check or by delayed recording of income are neither worth the tax risk nor the ethical discomfort they engender.
  4. Avoid year-end tax schemes. After Halloween is when the really scary creatures appear. The late fourth quarter is when tax promoters prey on business owners who are looking for a last-minute reprieve from high taxes. Earlier this year, the IRS released the “‘Dirty Dozen’ Tax Scams for 2014”. The following IRS-identified scams are ones business owners in particular should watch out for:
  • Hiding income offshore
  • False income, expenses or exemptions
  • Misuse of trusts
  • Abusive tax structures

All is not lost. Your tax advisor may have some ideas that will work for your particular situation yet this year. And, consider using this as a lesson for next year. With enough time and advice, tax planning can legitimately save you and your business a lot of money. There are tax savings to be had in benefits, business tax elections, products that are tax-advantaged, exit planning, etc. Such planning needs time, and there’s no better time than the present.

Tags:  affordable care act  benefits  business tax elections  charitable giving  deductions  exit planning  IRS  principal financial group  steve parrish  tax advantage  tax deferral  tax mistakes  tax planning  tax savings 

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