Monthly Archives: February 2018

How to Determine the Value of Your Property Before You Donate

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The tax deduction available for making a charitable donation of property may be no more than the fair market value of the property on the date of the gift. Fair market value is the price that a willing buyer and seller would agree to when neither is required to act and both have reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.

The IRS lists several factors that may be considered in determining fair market value.*

Cost or selling price can be an accurate measure of fair market value when the transaction and the donation dates are close and there has been no change that would affect the item’s value.

Sales of comparable properties may be useful for determining value where the properties sold and the property donated are similar and the sales occurred reasonably close in time to the date of the donation.

Replacement cost may be a good indicator of value in some situations, provided that depreciation is subtracted from the cost to reflect the property’s physical condition and obsolescence.

Expert opinion is relevant to the extent the expert has the appropriate education and experience and has thoroughly analyzed the transaction.

* IRS Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property

Who Qualifies as an Appraiser?

Generally, where a charitable deduction of more than $5,000 is claimed for donated property, the IRS requires a qualified appraisal by a qualified appraiser. A qualified appraiser is someone who:

  • Has earned an appraisal designation from a recognized professional organization or has met certain education and experience requirements
  • Regularly prepares appraisals for a fee
  • Is not an “excluded individual,” such as the donor, the donee, or a party to the transaction in which the donor acquired the property being appraised (Other exclusions apply.)

The qualified appraisal must be signed and dated and can be made no earlier than 60 days before the valued property is donated.

To learn more about tax rules and regulations for donations, give us a call today. Our knowledgeable and trained staff is here to help.

Check Once, Check Twice – Find the Errors in Your Tax Return Before You File

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Everyone makes mistakes, but making a mistake on your income-tax return can cost you. It could delay your refund, boost your tax bill, require an amended return or even trigger an audit. Before you submit your return electronically or put it in the mail, double-check to make sure you haven’t made any errors.

Simple slip ups

Many tax-return mistakes are simple ones. Ensure that you’ve entered the correct name, address and Social Security number for every person listed on your return. Another frequent error is to enter the right information on the wrong line. So it pays to go through your return line by line.

Clear up confusion

It’s important that you use the right filing status. If you’re not sure which filing status is right for you, use the interactive tool “What is My Filing Status?” on www.irs.gov. You can also check the IRS website to figure out who you can claim as a dependent. Once you determine who qualifies as your dependent(s), verify that you have checked the appropriate exemption boxes for your personal, spousal and dependency exemptions.

Correctly calculate credits and deductions

If you’re claiming any credits, such as the dependent care credit, you need to follow the instructions carefully. And check that you have completed the necessary forms or schedules. If you’re taking the standard deduction, verify that you are claiming the correct one. You can use the chart in the Form 1040 Instructions or use the interactive tool “How Much is My Standard Deduction?” on www.irs.gov.

Check your math

It’s very easy and common to make simple math errors while preparing your tax return. It’s a good idea to double-check that you’ve added and subtracted all numbers correctly and that you haven’t transposed any numbers. Ensure that you used the right column on the tax table when figuring out your tax.

Final details matter

Don’t be in such a rush to finish your return that you forget a few final, simple steps. If you’re filing a paper return, verify that you (and your spouse if it’s a joint return) have signed and dated the return. Attach Copy B of each Form W-2 that you received from your employers. Attach each Form 1099-R that shows federal tax withholding. And attach all other necessary schedules and forms in sequence number order. Make a copy of the return and all attachments for your own records. Use the correct mailing address from your tax form instructions, and include a check or money order if you owe tax. And, finally, check that you put sufficient postage on your envelope.

Connect with our team today for all the latest and most current tax rules and regulations.

Above the Line Deductions You Should Know About

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Any deductible expense is useful because it reduces the amount of income subject to tax. But for individual taxpayers, deductions that can be claimed in arriving at adjusted gross income (AGI) — referred to as “above-the-line” deductions — are especially significant. By lowering AGI, above-the-line deductions increase your chances of qualifying for various other deductions and credits.

Alimony. Generally, payments are deductible if they were made in cash pursuant to a divorce or separation instrument. Other requirements may apply.  As part of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, the taxation of alimony will change for divorce or separation agreements entered into after 2018.  For these agreements, alimony will no longer be deductible by the payer and will be tax-free to the recipient.

Traditional IRA contributions. Contributions of up to $5,500 ($6,500 for individuals age 50 or older) to a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) are potentially deductible on your 2017 return. AGI-based limitations apply if you (or your spouse) are an active participant in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Rental property/trade or business expenses. Expenses associated with property held for the production of rents are deductible above the line on Schedule E, whereas sole proprietors deduct their trade or business expenses above the line on Schedule C.

Student loan interest. Taxpayers may deduct up to $2,500 of interest expense on qualified higher education loans, though phaseouts apply to those at higher levels of modified AGI.

Moving expenses. Subject to certain requirements, a taxpayer who moves as a result of a change in his or her principal place of work may deduct certain costs of moving and traveling to the new residence.  2017 is the last year this deduction will be allowed–it was eliminated as part of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act.

Health savings account contributions. The 2017 deduction limits are $3,400 for those with self-only coverage under an eligible high-deductible health plan and $6,750 for those with family coverage. An additional $1,000 deduction is available to those 55 and older who are not enrolled in Medicare.

Self-employed taxpayers. The self-employed also may be able to deduct retirement plan contributions, qualified health insurance premiums, and a portion of their self-employment taxes.

For more help with individual or business taxes, connect with us today. Our team can help you with all your tax issues, large and small.

Getting a Handle on Payment Issues

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Most small business owners love what they do. But that’s not to say things can’t get a little difficult, especially when customers don’t pay their bills on time. Even one or two slow-pay or no-pay customers can be enough to throw your company’s finances off.

Understanding what might be going on with your customers and being proactive can help you keep your accounts receivable on steady ground.

Purchase Order Predicaments

Not all customers use purchase orders, but those that do rely on them to coordinate ordering and accounts payable functions. If there’s a mix-up involving a purchase order and your invoice doesn’t match up with the customer’s purchase order, your invoice could end up on the “problem” pile instead of the “pay” pile. Be proactive by verifying that the purchase order numbers on your invoices are correct before they are sent.

Strapped for Cash

Lack of money is a common excuse for not paying. One reason your customer may not be able to pay you is because your customer’s customers haven’t paid their bills. Regardless of the reason, be the squeaky wheel and keep communicating with your past due customers.

You can help reduce your exposure to customer cash shortfalls by tightening your credit requirements.

Disputes, Dilemmas, and Other Disappointments

Misships, damaged goods, late deliveries. Plenty of things can go wrong during the fulfillment process. Rather than make a phone call, customers may just “file” your invoice at the bottom of the pile.

Follow-up e-mails or phone calls to find out if your customers are satisfied will help smooth any ruffled feathers and could improve how quickly you get paid.

Vanishing Invoices

“We never received your invoice” is a weak excuse, but you still have to find a way around it. Once again, early follow-up is key. Paperless billing and the potential to monitor whether e-mailed invoices have been opened can also help eradicate this excuse.

Don’t get left behind. Contact us today to discover how we can help you keep your business on the right track. Don’t wait, give us a call today.

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