Ten Key Tax Facts about Home Sales

In most cases, gains from sales are taxable. But did you know that if you sell your home, you may not have to pay taxes? Here are ten facts to keep in mind if you sell your home this year.

  1. Exclusion of Gain.  You may be able to exclude part or all of the gain from the sale of your home. This rule may apply if you meet the eligibility test. Parts of the test involve your ownership and use of the home. You must have owned and used it as your main home for at least two out of the five years before the date of sale.
  2. Exceptions May Apply.  There are exceptions to the ownership, use and other rules. One exception applies to persons with a disability. Another applies to certain members of the military. That rule includes certain government and Peace Corps workers. For more on this topic, see Publication 523, Selling Your Home.
  3. Exclusion Limit.  The most gain you can exclude from tax is $250,000. This limit is $500,000 for joint returns. The Net Investment Income Tax will not apply to the excluded gain.
  4. May Not Need to Report Sale.  If the gain is not taxable, you may not need to report the sale to the IRS on your tax return.
  5. When You Must Report the Sale.  You must report the sale on your tax return if you can’t exclude all or part of the gain. You must report the sale if you choose not to claim the exclusion. That’s also true if you get Form 1099-S, Proceeds From Real Estate Transactions. If you report the sale, you should review the Questions and Answers on the Net Investment Income Tax on IRS.gov.
  6. Exclusion Frequency Limit.  Generally, you may exclude the gain from the sale of your main home only once every two years. Some exceptions may apply to this rule.
  7. Only a Main Home Qualifies.  If you own more than one home, you may only exclude the gain on the sale of your main home. Your main home usually is the home that you live in most of the time.
  8. First-time Homebuyer Credit.  If you claimed the first-time homebuyer credit when you bought the home, special rules apply to the sale. For more on those rules, see Publication 523.
  9. Home Sold at a Loss.  If you sell your main home at a loss, you can’t deduct the loss on your tax return.
  10. Report Your Address Change.  After you sell your home and move, update your address with the IRS. To do this, file Form 8822, Change of Address. You can find the address to send it to in the form’s instructions on page two. If you purchase health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you should also notify the Marketplace when you move out of the area covered by your current Marketplace plan.

For help with any income tax question call one of our offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

 

We’re Here All Year!

Tax Day has come and gone, but don’t go anywhere! We are still available to help with tax issues.

Why Would You Need Support in the Off-Season?

Taxes never go away, and neither do we. Let’s say you filed a tax return and later found an error. You may want to amend your return. We can walk you through the process, answer questions, and prepare and file your amended tax return.

Or, you could be one of the many taxpayers who filed an extension for your 2015 tax return. You have until Oct. 17 to file, and, between now and then, we are available to prepare your tax return.

We can also assist taxpayers who receive correspondence from the IRS and are unsure how to proceed. Remember, the IRS typically initiates contact with taxpayers via U.S. mail. If you get a call or email from someone claiming to be with the IRS and want to know if the call is legitimate, we can help.

Benefits of Year-Round Support

Just because your check has arrived, doesn’t mean we check out. Sure, our hours change in the off-season, but we’re still available to discuss tax issues, even if you had your tax return prepared somewhere else. Our consultations are free of charge.

For help with any income tax question call one of our local offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

Why You Must File Your Tax Return

Not filing a tax return generates more in penalties than not paying taxes. If you are required to file a tax return and you do not, the IRS charges 5% in penalties. Even if you owe no taxes, you still need to file your return. Also, regardless of whether you pay your entire tax bill, you should file your return and pay as much as you can.

Tax Return and Back Taxes

If you did not file your return because you could not pay your full tax bill, then you may incur a penalty for non-filing and also the penalty for non-payment of taxes (typically, the larger of the two penalties apply in such a case). To avoid the non-filing penalty of 5%, you should file your return even if you cannot afford to pay your entire tax bill.

Tax Return and Collection Action

The IRS can begin collection action even if you do not file your tax return. As a replacement for your return, the IRS files a Substitute for Return (SFR). Using information from third party sources such as employers and banks, the IRS estimates your tax bill. Based on this estimate, they file the SFR.

After the filing of an SFR, the IRS begins sending out notices to the taxpayer. If these notices go unanswered and no resolution effort is made, the IRS can move on to more aggressive collection efforts, such as a wage or bank levy.

To avoid paying more in penalties and to prevent collection action, it is critical to file your tax return on time. If for any reason you feel that you won’t be able to file your return by the due date, you should request an extension to get more time to file.

For help with any income tax question call one of our offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

 

Small Business Owners: Tax Help is Just a Click Away

The IRS recognizes Small Business Week May 1–7 by highlighting some of its most popular educational products, videos and webinars to help your small business thrive. If you are a self-employed landscaper or gardener, be sure to view the IRS webinar “Business Taxes for the Self-Employed: The Basics.” Here are some topics included in the webinar or on IRS.gov that you should know:

  • Accounting Method.  An accounting method is a set of rules about when to report income and expenses. Many small businesses use the cash method. Under the cash method, you normally report income in the year that you receive it and deduct expenses in the year that you pay them. Find out more in IRS Publication 538, Accounting Periods and Methods.
  • Business Taxes.  There are four general types of business taxes. They are income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax and excise tax. You may need to pay self-employment tax as well as income tax if you make a profit. Self-employment tax includes Social Security and Medicare taxes. With estimated tax payments, you pay taxes at various times during the year to ensure you don’t have a large tax bill when you file your tax return. Use IRS Direct Pay, the fast, easy and secure way to pay from your checking or savings account.
  • Tax Forms.  There are two forms to report self-employment income. You must file a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, or Schedule C-EZ, Net Profit from Business, with your Form 1040. You may use Schedule C-EZ if you had expenses less than $5,000 and meet other conditions. See the form instructions to find out if you can use the form. Use Schedule SE, Self-Employment Tax, to figure your SE tax. If you owe this tax, make sure you file the schedule with your federal tax return.
  • Allowable Deductions.  You can deduct expenses you paid to run your business that are both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and proper for your trade or business. View the webinar “Small Business Owners: Get All the Tax Benefits You Deserve” to learn more.
  • Business Use of a Vehicle.  If you use your car or truck for your business, you may be able to deduct the costs to operate the vehicle for the business use. Refer to IRS Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses for details.

For help with your business or personal taxes call one of our offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

IRS Marks Small Business Week 2016 with Four Webinars

As the nation celebrates Small Business Week May 1-7, the IRS will host four free webinars. The webinars will help small business owners with their taxes. The IRS also highlights popular products and services available on IRS.gov.

Here are some details about the free webinars:

  1. Tax Tips for Your New Business, May 2. Small business owners and tax professionals with small business clients who may be starting new endeavors are the focus of this webinar.

Topics include:

  • Deciding if it’s a business or hobby
  • Selecting a business structure.
  • Understanding business taxes.
  • Recordkeeping requirements.
  • Choosing a tax preparer.
  • Finding out where to go for IRS help.
  1. Staying Afloat: Planning for Emergencies Before they Happen, May 3. Small business owners, tax professionals and payroll organizations learn about emergency preparedness in this broadcast.

Topics include:

  • Business continuity planning.
  • How to create an emergency plan.
  • Employee preparedness.
  • Payroll continuity and supply chain protection.
  • Protecting your records and data.
  • What happens after a disaster is declared.
  • IRS resources to help you plan.
  1. Worker Classification: Employee or Independent Contractor? May 4. This webinar is in Spanish. It teaches Spanish-speaking small business owners, tax professionals and payroll organizations how to classifying workers.

Topics include:

  • Differences between employees and independent contractors.
  • Common law rules.
  • Form SS-8.
  • Employment tax obligations.
  • Voluntary classification settlement program.
  1. Tip Reporting and Tips vs. Service Charges, May 5. This webinar provides small business owners, employers, tax professionals and payroll organizations with details on tips and reporting.

Topics include:

  • Recordkeeping and reporting responsibilities.
  • Understanding the difference between tips and service charges.
  • Filing Form 8027, Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips.

All four webinars are an hour long and start at 2 p.m. (ET). Live Q&A sessions with IRS experts will be available. To register and to find out more visit the Webinars for Small Businesses page on IRS.gov.

For help with your small business call one of our offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

 

 

Now is a Good Time to Plan for Next Year’s Taxes

You may be tempted to forget about your taxes once you’ve filed but some tax planning done now may benefit you later. Now is a good time to set up a system so you can keep your tax records safe and easy to find.  Here are some IRS tips to give you a leg up on next year’s taxes:

  • Take action when life changes occur.  Some life events can change the amount of tax you owe. Examples  include a change in marital status or the birth of a child. When these happen, you may need to change the amount of tax withheld from your pay. To do that, file a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, with your employer. Use the IRS Withholding Calculator tool on IRS.gov to help you fill out the form.
  • Report changes in circumstances to the Health Insurance Marketplace.  If you enroll in insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace for  2016 coverage, you should report changes in circumstances to the Marketplace when they happen. Report events such as changes in your income or family size. Doing so will help you avoid getting too much or too little financial assistance.
  • Keep records safe.  Print and keep a copy of your 2015 tax return and supporting records together in a safe place. This includes  W-2 Forms, Forms 1099, bank records and records of your family’s health care insurance coverage. If you ever need your tax return or records, it will be easier for you to get them. For example, you may need a copy of your tax return if you apply for a home loan or financial aid for college. You should use your tax return as a guide when you do your taxes next year.
  • Stay organized.  Make tax time easier. Have your family put tax records in the same place during the year. That way you won’t have to search for misplaced records when you file next year.
  • Shop for a tax preparer.  If you want to hire a tax preparer to help you with tax planning, start your search now. Choose your tax preparer wisely. Use the Directory of Tax Return Preparers tool on IRS.gov to find tax preparers in your area with the credentials and qualifications that you prefer.
  • Think about itemizing.  You may be able to lower your taxes if you itemize deductions instead of taking the standard deduction. Owning a home, paying medical expenses and qualified donations to charity could mean more tax savings. See the instructions for Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, for a list of deductions.

For help with any income tax question call one of our offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

 

What You Need to Know if You Get a Letter in the Mail from the IRS

Each year, the IRS mails millions of notices and letters to taxpayers for a variety of reasons. If you receive correspondence from us:

  1. Don’t panic. You can usually deal with a notice simply by responding to it.
  2. Most IRS notices are about federal tax returns or tax accounts. Each notice has specific instructions, so read your notice carefully because it will tell you what you need to do.
  3. Your notice will likely be about changes to your account, taxes you owe or a payment request. However, your notice may ask you for more information about a specific issue.
  4. If your notice says that the IRS changed or corrected your tax return, review the information and compare it with your original return.
  5. If you agree with the notice, you usually don’t need to reply unless it gives you other instructions or you need to make a payment.
  6. If you don’t agree with the notice, you need to respond. Write a letter that explains why you disagree, and include information and documents you want the IRS to consider. Mail your response with the contact stub at the bottom of the notice to the address on the contact stub. Allow at least 30 days for a response.
  7. For most notices, you won’t need to call or visit a walk-in center. If you have questions, call the phone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Be sure to have a copy of your tax return and the notice with you when you call.
  8. Always keep copies of any notices you receive with your tax records.
  9. Be alert for tax scams. The IRS sends letters and notices by mail. We don’t contact people by email or social media to ask for personal or financial information. If you owe tax, you have several payment options. The IRS won’t demand that you pay a certain way, such as prepaid debit or credit card.

For more on this topic, visit IRS.gov. Click on the link ‘Responding to a Notice’ at the bottom center of the home page. Also, see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process. You can get it on IRS.gov/forms at any time

For help with any  tax question call one of our offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

 

 

Amending Your Tax Return: Ten Tips

You can fix mistakes or omissions on your tax return by filing an amended tax return. If you need to file one, these tips can help.

  1. Must be filed on paper. Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to correct your tax return. It can’t be e-filed. You can get the form on IRS.gov/forms at any time. See the Form 1040X instructions for the address where you should mail your form.
  2. Amend to correct errors. File an amended tax return to correct errors or make changes to your original tax return. For example, you should amend to change your filing status, or to correct your income, deductions or credits.
  3. Don’t amend for math errors, missing forms.  You normally don’t need to file an amended return to correct math errors on your original return. The IRS will automatically correct those for you. Also, do not file an amended return if you forgot to attach tax forms, such as a Form W-2 or a schedule. The IRS will mail you a request for them in most cases.
  4. Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, errors. Some taxpayers may receive a second Form 1095-A  because the information on their initial form was incorrect or incomplete. If you filed a 2015 tax return based on the initial Form 1095-A and claimed the premium tax credit using incorrect information from either the federally-facilitated or a state-based Health Insurance Marketplace, you should determine the effect the changes to your form might have on your return. Comparing the two Forms 1095-A can help you assess whether you should file an amended tax return, Form 1040X.
  5. Three-year time limit. You usually have three years from the date you filed your original tax return to file Form 1040X to claim a refund. You can file it within two years from the date you paid the tax, if that date is later. That means the last day for most people to file a 2012 claim for a refund is April 18, 2016 (April 19 for taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts). See the Form 1040X instructions for special rules that apply to some claims.
  6. Separate forms for each year. If you are amending more than one tax return, prepare a 1040X for each year. You should mail each year in separate envelopes. Note the tax year of the return you are amending at the top of Form 1040X. Check the form’s instructions for where to mail your return.
  7. Attach other forms with changes. If you use other IRS forms or schedules to make changes, make sure to attach them to your Form 1040X.
  8. When to file for corrected refund. If you are due a refund from your original return, wait to get it before filing Form 1040X to claim an additional refund. Amended returns take up to 16 weeks to process.
  9. Pay additional tax. If you owe more tax, file your Form 1040X and pay the tax as soon as you can to avoid possible penalties and interest from being added to your account. Use IRS Direct Pay to pay your tax directly from your checking or savings account.
  10. Track your amended return. You can track the status of your amended tax return three weeks after you file with ‘Where’s My Amended Return?’ It is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Russian. The tool can track the status of an amended return for the current year and up to three years back. If you have filed amended returns for multiple years, you can check each year, one at a time.

For help with any income tax question or to amend a return call one of our offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

Need More Time to File Your Taxes?

The April 18 tax deadline is coming up. If you need more time to file your taxes, you can get an automatic six-month extension from the IRS. Here are five things to know about filing an extension:

  1. Use IRS Free File to file an extension. You can use IRS Free File to e-file your extension request for free. Free File is only available through IRS.gov. You must e-file the extension request by midnight April 18. If you do request an extension, come back to Free File to prepare and e-file your taxes for free. You can access the program at any time through Oct. 17.
  2. Use Form 4868. You can also request an extension by filling out Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. You must mail this form to the IRS by April 18. Form 4868 is available on IRS.gov/forms.
  3. More time to file is not more time to pay. An extension to file will give you until Oct. 17 to file your taxes. It does not, however, give you more time to pay your taxes. Estimate and pay what you owe by April 18 to avoid a potential late filing penalty. You will be charged interest on any tax that you don’t pay on time. You may also owe a penalty if you pay your tax late. Interest is normally charged on any unpaid tax.
  4. IRS Direct Pay. Pay your tax with IRS Direct Pay. Visit IRS.gov/directpay to use this free and secure way to pay from your checking or savings account. You also have other electronic payment options. The IRS will automatically process your extension – and you don’t have to file a separate request — when you pay electronically. You can pay online or by phone.
  5. IRS helps if you can’t pay all you owe. If you can’t pay all the tax you owe, the IRS offers you payment options. In most cases, you can apply for an installment agreement with the Online Payment Agreement application on IRS.gov. You may also file Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request. If you can’t make payments because of financial hardship, the IRS will work with you.

For help with any income tax question call one of our offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600

Five Tax Tips on Estimated Tax Payments

You usually will have taxes withheld from your pay if you are an employee. However, if you don’t have taxes withheld, or you don’t have enough tax withheld, you may need to make estimated tax payments. If you are self-employed you normally have to pay your taxes this way. Here are five tips about making estimated tax payments:

  1. When the tax applies. You should pay estimated taxes in 2015 if you expect to owe at least $1,000 in tax for 2016 after subtracting your withholding and refundable credits. Special rules apply to farmers and fishermen.
  2. How to figure the tax. Estimate the amount of income you expect to receive for the year. Also make sure that you take into account any tax deductions and credits that you will be eligible to claim. Use Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, to figure and pay your estimated tax.
  3. When to make payments. You normally make estimated tax payments four times a year. The dates that apply to most people for 2016 are April 18, June 15 and Sept. 15. There is one last payment on Jan. 17, 2017.
  4. When to change tax payments or withholding. Major life changes like the birth of a child can affect your taxes. When these changes happen, you may need to revise your estimated tax payments during the year. If you are an employee, you may need to change the amount of tax withheld from your pay. If this is the case, give your employer a new Form W–4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. You can use the IRS Withholding Calculator tool to help you fill out the form.
  5. How to pay estimated tax. You can pay online, by phone or from your mobile device. Direct Pay is a secure online service to pay your tax bill or your estimated tax directly from your checking or savings account at no cost to you. Visit IRS.gov/payments for easy and secure ways to pay your tax. Paying by mail is another option. If you pay by mail, use the payment vouchers that come with Form 1040-ES.

For help with any income tax question call one of our offices:

Plymouth 734.454.4100, Allen Park 313.388.7180,

Grayling 989.348.4055,  Livonia 734-462-6161,

Madison Heights 248.544.6160, Royal Oak 248.399.7331,

Saginaw 989.782.1985, or St. Clair Shores 313.371.6600