Taxpayers should be aware of a new twist on an old scam involving erroneous tax refunds that are being deposited into their bank accounts. After stealing client data and filing fraudulent tax returns, these criminals use the taxpayers’ real bank accounts to deposit refunds, then use various tactics to reclaim the refund from the taxpayers. Here’s what you need to know.
With the 2018 tax filing season in full swing, it’s not too early to think about how the health care law affects your taxes. The Affordable Care Act requires you and each member of your family to do at least one of the following:
- Have qualifying health coverage called minimum essential coverage
- Qualify for a health coverage exemption
- Make a shared responsibility payment with your federal income tax return for the months that you did not have coverage or an exemption
If you meet certain criteria for the tax year, you may be exempt from the requirement to have minimum essential coverage. You will not have to make a shared responsibility payment for any month that you are exempt. Instead, you’ll file Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, with your federal income tax return. For any month that you do not qualify for a coverage exemption, you will need to have minimum essential coverage or make a shared responsibility payment. You may be exempt if you meet one of the following:
If you are living or working outside the United States, you generally must file and pay your tax in the same way as people living in the U.S. This includes people with dual citizenship.
In addition, U.S. taxpayers with foreign accounts exceeding certain thresholds may be required to file Form FinCen114, known as the “FBAR” as well as Form 8938, also referred to as “FATCA.”
FBAR is not a tax form, but is due to the Treasury Department by April 17, 2018, and must be filed electronically through the BSA E-Filing System website. It may be extended to October 15.FATCA (Form 8938) is submitted on the tax due date (including extensions, if any,) of your income tax return.
Here’s what else you need to know about reporting foreign income:
If you haven’t contributed funds to an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) for tax year 2017, or if you’ve put in less than the maximum allowed, you still have time to do so. You can contribute to either a traditional or Roth IRA until the April 17 due date, not including extensions.
Be sure to tell the IRA trustee that the contribution is for 2017. Otherwise, the trustee may report the contribution as being for 2018 when they get your funds.
Generally, you can contribute up to $5,500 of your earnings for tax year 2017 (up to $6,500 if you are age 50 or older in 2017). You can fund a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA (if you qualify), or both, but your total contributions cannot be more than these amounts.
Traditional IRA: You may be able to take a tax deduction for the contributions to a traditional IRA, depending on your income and whether you or your spouse, if filing jointly, are covered by an employer’s pension plan.
Roth IRA: You cannot deduct Roth IRA contributions, but
Are you wondering if there’s a hard and fast rule about what income is taxable and what income is not taxable? The quick answer is that all income is taxable unless the law specifically excludes it. But as you might have guessed, there’s more to it than that.
Taxable income includes any money you receive, such as wages and tips, but it can also include non-cash income from property or services. For example, both parties in a barter exchange must include the fair market value of goods or services received as income on their tax return.
Here are some types of income that are usually not taxable:
- Gifts and inheritances
- Child support payments
- Welfare benefits
- Damage awards for physical injury or sickness
- Cash rebates from a dealer or manufacturer for an item you buy
- Reimbursements for qualified adoption expenses
In addition, some types of income are not taxable except under certain conditions, including:
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made changes to the tax law, including increasing the standard deduction, removing personal exemptions, increasing the child tax credit, limiting or discontinuing certain deductions and changing the tax rates and brackets. As such, a new version of Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, was released on February 28.
Taxpayers with less complex tax situations–single, married couples with only one job, or those who have no dependents, and who have not claimed itemized deductions, adjustments to income or tax credits–might not need to make any changes to their withholding or revise their Forms W-4.
Taxpayers with more complicated financial situations, however, might need to revise their W-4. Among the groups who should check their withholding are:
For many business owners, collecting on your accounts receivables can be challenging especially as more people switch from established collection procedures to online payment methods. The good news is that you can take positive action to improve collection rates, shorten the aging days of your accounts receivable, help your business improve its cash flow and tighten up its credit and collections policies. While some of the tips discussed here may not be suitable for every business most can serve as general guidelines to give your company more financial stability.
Define Your Policy. Define and stick to concrete credit guidelines. Your sales force should not sell to customers who are not credit-worthy, or who have become delinquent. You should also clearly delineate what leeway salespeople have to vary from these guidelines in attempting to attract customers.
You should have a system of controls for checking out a potential customer’s credit, and it should be used before an order is shipped. Further, there should be clear communication between the accounting department and the sales department as to current customers who become delinquent.
Clearly Explain Your Payment Policy. Invoices should contain clear written information about how much time customers have to pay, and what will happen if they exceed those limits.
Make sure invoices (both paper and electronic) include a telephone number and website address so customers can contact you with billing questions. If you send an invoice via the US mail, also include a pre-addressed envelope.
In most cases, taxpayers who turned 70 1/2 during 2017 must start receiving required minimum distributions (RMDs) from Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans by Sunday, April 1, 2018.
The April 1 deadline applies to owners of traditional (including SEP and SIMPLE) IRAs but not Roth IRAs. Normally, it also applies to participants in various workplace retirement plans, including 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans.
The April 1 deadline only applies to the required distribution for the first year. For all subsequent years, the RMD must be made by December 31. In other words, a taxpayer who turned 70 1/2 in 2017 (born after June 30, 1946, and before July 1, 1947) and receives the first required distribution (for 2017) on April 1, 2018, for example, must still receive the second RMD by December 31, 2018.
Affected taxpayers who turned 70 1/2 during 2017 must figure the RMD for the first year using
The health care law contains tax provisions that affect employers. The size and structure of a workforce–small or large–helps determine which parts of the law apply to which employers. Calculating the number of employees is especially important for employers that have close to 50 employees or whose workforce fluctuates during the year.