Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Congratulations to Larry Krupp on His Tax Update Presentation

On February 16, 2017, Larry Krupp, KOS Tax Director, provided an income tax update presentation at Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. He interpreted and explained the latest version of the tax code & discussed changes and concerns that can affect businesses & personal finances.
Congratulations to Larry for a job well done!


KOS Partner Geoff Harlow Quoted in Forbes - February 21, 2017

If you are in the process of planning where you will enjoy your golden years, you will want to know how different state tax laws can impact you during your retirement. 

KOS Partner Geoff Harlow offers some sound tax advice in the Forbes online article, "How To Find Your Own Retirement Tax Haven" by Ashlea Ebeling.

To read the article and gain helpful insight please click on the following link
http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2017/02/21/how-to-find-your-own-retiree-tax-haven/#12433804ef9b





As always, if you have any questions or need additional retirement planning advice, please contact your KOS Advisor.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Geoffrey Harlow Quoted in a Forbes Online Article


Geoffrey Harlow, KOS Partner, was quoted today in a Forbes online article.  The article is titled, "The Side Gig Retirement Tax Time Play", by Ashlea Ebeling.  Geoff is a frequent contributor for several news sources supplying insight and guidance on various tax and accounting issues.

 
Please click the link below to view the full article.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2017/02/14/the-side-gig-retirement-tax-time-play/#1ae27d282646


As always, please visit www.koscpa.com to learn more about our firm and the services we offer.



 



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

IRS Reminds Taxpayers of Common Scams

As the 2017 tax filing season unfolds, the IRS is reminding taxpayers about phishing and phone scams. Scammers have been contacting taxpayers via live and automated phone call, email, fax, regular mail, and text message.

Here is a list of some of the most prevalent scams to watch out for:

  • Students and their parents are contacted and demand is made for a fictitious tax such as the "Federal Student Tax".
  • Fraudulent IRS bills for the tax year 2015 related to the Affordable Care Act are sent out via email or letter.
  • Demand is made for payment to settle a "tax bill".
  • Requests are made for "verification of tax return information" in order to process your return.
If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS:
  • DO NOT give out any information. .
  • Report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use their use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page or call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), report it by sending it to phishing@irs.gov.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017 Standard Mileage Rates for Automobile Use

In December, the Internal Revenue Service issued the 2017 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.
With gas prices dropping in 2016 and vehicle prices holding steady, the optional mileage rates for business, medical and moving expenses for 2017 dropped to their lowest levels in six years.
As of January 1, 2017, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:
·         53.5 cents per mile for business miles driven (down from 54 cents for 2016);
·         17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes (down from 19 cents for 2016);
·         14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (permanently set by statute).
The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs.
Proper use of the business standard mileage rate is optional and takes place the of deducting all actual costs of the automobile allocable to business use (such as depreciation, maintenance and repairs, tires, gasoline, oil, insurance, and license and registration fees).
The business standard mileage rate may NOT be used for an automobile after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that automobile.  In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles being used simultaneously.
For more details and other requirements, visit www.irs.gov, Rev. Proc. 2010-51. 
Source: IR-2016-169, Notice 2016-79





Thursday, December 29, 2016

10 New Year's Resolutions for your Wallet



Love or hate New Year’s resolutions, there are probably a few you could stand to make for your wallet’s sake. They can be short-term, easy fixes to save money throughout the year, while also potentially helping you achieve larger financial goals.
Here are 10 suggestions to make sure you start off 2017 on the right financial footing:
1. Clean out your wallet. A cluttered wallet isn’t just bulky; it also can be expensive if you’re paying for cards you don’t use. Start lean and mean in 2017. Review the cards and figure out how they benefit you. Many people signed up for some cards merely for their cool factor or maybe to pursue a one-time benefit — such as a juicy sign-up bonus that has long since been exhausted. At best, these cards can be a distraction and waste of space. At worst, they can cost you an annual fee without making up for it in benefits. Keep only cards earning high rewards that you’ll actually use or cards that are important to maintain your credit score.
2. Prioritize your purchases. Healthy budgeting may sound about as fun as healthy dieting, but success for both often can start with something as simple as understanding what works best for you. At its heart, a budget helps you recognize trade-offs in your purchases. Movies or dining out? Game console or summer vacation? New clothes or weekend getaway? Until you’re able to identify and plan for these trade-offs in advance, you’re not in charge of your money.
3.Optimize your credit cards. Whether you’re trying to maximize rewards or minimize the cost of credit card debt, you probably have room for improvement. At this point, 1.5% cash back is the new gold standard for rewards, so make sure you’re earning at least that much on every purchase. And if you’re looking to minimize the cost of debt, a 12-month, 0% intro APR offer is a good baseline. If you’re unsure what kind of card you might qualify for, it is recommended that you check your free credit score or ask whether you pre-qualify for a card.
4.Upgrade your checking account. Bank fees bite. If you’re paying fees for your checking account regularly, that’s a sign you could be doing better — either with your own money management or your choice in banks. A new account might also come with new capabilities such as mobile check deposit or better ATM access.
5.Upgrade your savings account. There’s a fair chance you could be earning higher interest in the coming new year than you did in 2016. Many online banks are offering annual percentage yields of 1% or higher, which we hope will rise since the Federal Reserve increased its funds rates in December.

6. Open a P2P account. Still writing and receiving physical checks to and from friends and family? What a hassle. It’s nearly 2017, not 1987. If you need to pay someone back quickly and easily — whether for baby-sitting, splitting utility bills or sharing a restaurant tab — open an account on a peer-to-peer (P2P) payment app such as Venmo, PayPal, Zelle or Square Cash. Ask around to see what’s popular among your friends, as they’ll need to use the same app to receive or send money.
7. Boost your savings rate. Saving money can be hard, especially if it’s for a less-immediate goal such as retirement, an emergency fund (see below) or a down payment on a home. Here are tips to boost your savings rate: (1) If your employer matches 401(k) contributions, make sure you’re contributing enough from your paycheck to get the full match. (2) Divert some of your wages automatically into your savings account before you have the chance to spend it. (3) Plan now to save any windfalls, such as tax refunds, gifts or the occasional lottery winnings. (4) Check your credit card and checking account statements to see whether you can cut any charges for recurring services that aren’t needed.
8. Build an emergency fund. A key measure of financial freedom is the ability to cover short-term emergencies with cash instead of by taking on debt. That said, many of us already have plenty of debt, and it’s often difficult to decide between saving cash or paying down that debt.  All things being equal, putting a little money in the bank generally should be prioritized in most cases.
9. Use your rewards card for every purchase. Sure, credit card rewards rates won’t make you rich, but the 1.5% you could earn back on every purchase adds up. It can help boost your savings or make a significant dent in a planned purchase.
10. Use your airline miles. Airlines historically devalue points on their loyalty programs every few years, and you’ll also want to make sure there’s no expiration policy on your points or miles. Saving them for some big future vacation might sound nice, but if they need to be redeemed by a certain point, don’t let them slip through your fingers.

Adapted from the article:
10 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Wallet
Posted 12:27 p.m., December 21, 2016, by Sean McQuay
www.forbes.com

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Illinois ~ Corporate, Personal Income Taxes: Withholding Income Tax Changes for 2017 Discussed

CCH Tax Day Report

The Illinois Department of Revenue has issued an informational bulletin that discusses personal income tax withholding changes for the 2017 tax year for employers, payroll service providers, software developers, and those that pay gambling and lottery winnings. Effective January 1, 2017, all withholding taxpayers will be assigned to pay withholding income tax on a monthly or semi-weekly schedule. In addition, all withholding taxpayers will be required to file quarterly returns on Form IL-941. The annual filing and payment option will no longer be available. The department will notify taxpayers that are currently annual payers of their assignment to either a monthly or a semi-weekly payment schedule for 2017.

Form IL-941 is due by the last day of the month following the end of the quarter and must include all Illinois income tax withheld during the corresponding three months. If the due date falls on a holiday or weekend, the return is due on the next business day. Payment due dates are determined by the payment schedule assigned to the withholding taxpayer based on the taxpayer’s liability, and the day employees are paid or tax is withheld from others. Monthly payments are due by the 15th day of the month following the month in which the tax was withheld. Semi-weekly payments are due by Wednesday for amounts withheld on the previous Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, and by Friday for amounts withheld on the previous Saturday, Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday. Taxpayers that withhold over $12,000 in a quarter must submit payments electronically on a semi-weekly basis from that point forward.

Form IL-941 has been updated for the 2017 tax year, including a line to verify compliance with the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program Act, a section for entering required withholding information for each month of the quarter, and entry lines for the amount of income tax withheld based on payroll dates. A new line has been added for preparers to enter their Internal Revenue Service (IRS) preparer tax identification number (PTIN). Beginning on or after January 1, 2017, all paid income tax return preparers must include their PTIN on any tax returns they prepare and file or on any refund claim. Failure to comply may result in assessment of a penalty on the preparer.

Informational Bulletin FY 2017-07, Illinois Department of Revenue, September 26, 2016, ¶403-132
 
AUTHOR

CCHTaxGroup