Jun 062016
 
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Logo of the Internal Revenue Service

Logo of the Internal Revenue Service (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     June Filing Deadlines Nearing for Most Americans Abroad

Today, the IRS reminded U. S. citizens and resident aliens, including those with dual citizenship who have lived or worked abroad during all or part of 2015, that they may have a U. S. tax liability and a filing requirement in 2016. The IRS encourages taxpayers with foreign assets, even relatively small amounts, to check if they have an FBAR and/or FATCA filing requirement.

Most People Abroad Need to File

A filing requirement generally applies even if a taxpayer qualifies for tax benefits, such as the foreign earned income exclusion or the foreign tax credit , that substantially reduce or eliminate their U.S. tax liability. These tax benefits are not automatic and are only available if an eligible taxpayer files a U.S. income tax return.

The filing deadline is Wednesday, June 15, 2016, for U. S. citizens and resident aliens whose tax home and abode are outside the United States and Puerto Rico, and for those serving in the military outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico. To use this automatic two-month extension, taxpayers must attach a statement to their return explaining which of these two situations applies. See U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad for details.

Nonresident aliens who received income from U. S. sources in 2015 also must determine whether they have a U.S. tax obligation. The filing deadline for nonresident aliens can be April 18, 2016, or June 15, 2016, depending on sources of income. See Taxation of Nonresident Aliens on IRS.gov.

Special Reporting for Foreign Accounts and Assets

Federal law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report any worldwide income, including income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and securities accounts. In most cases, affected taxpayers need to complete and attach Schedule B to their tax return. Part III of Schedule B asks about the existence of foreign accounts, such as bank and securities accounts, and usually requires U.S. citizens to report the country in which each account is located.

Taxpayers with an interest in, or signature or other authority over, foreign financial accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during 2015 must file with the Treasury Department a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). It is due to the Treasury Department by June 30, 2016, must be filed electronically and is only available online through the BSA E-Filing System website. For details regarding the FBAR requirements, see Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

In addition, under the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), certain taxpayers may also have to complete and attach to their return Form 8938, Statement of Foreign Financial Assets.  Generally, U.S. citizens, resident aliens and certain nonresident aliens must report specified foreign financial assets on this form if the aggregate value of those assets exceeds certain thresholds. See the instructions for this form for details.

Expatriate Reporting

Taxpayers who relinquished their U. S. citizenship or ceased to be lawful permanent residents of the United States during 2015 must file a dual-status alien return, attaching Form 8854, Initial and Annual Expatriation Statement. A copy of the Form 8854 must also be filed with Internal Revenue Service Philadelphia, PA 19255-0049, by the due date of the tax return (including extensions). See the instructions for this form and Notice 2009-85, Guidance for Expatriates Under Section 877A, for further details.

More Information Available

Any U. S. taxpayer here or abroad with tax questions can refer to the International Taxpayers landing page and use the online IRS Tax Map and the International Tax Topic Index to get answers. These online tools assemble or group IRS forms, publications and web pages by subject and provide users with a single entry point to find tax information.

Taxpayers who are looking for a return preparer specializing in expat return preparation should visit US Global Tax Ltd.

To help avoid delays with tax refunds, taxpayers living abroad should visit the Helpful Tips for Effectively Receiving a Tax Refund for Taxpayers Living Abroad page.

More information on the tax rules that apply to U. S. citizens and resident aliens living abroad can be found in, Publication 54, Tax Guide for U. S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, available on IRS.gov.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I might receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Mar 132015
 
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Standard Deduction

For tax year 2015, all taxpayers will see a slight bump in the standard deduction over the 2014 amounts. The standard deduction rises to $6,300 for single and married filing separately filing statuses, up from $6,200 for tax year 2014.  Married filing jointly filers will see an increase in the standard deduction to $12,600, up from $12,400 for tax year 2014. The standard deduction for heads of household rises to $9,250, up from $9,100.

The decision to itemize deductions will depend on whether or not the deduction exceeds the standard deduction amounts.  However, for married filing jointly taxpayers, if one spouse itemizes, the other spouse must also itemize.

For more information and assistance with determining the amount of your standard deduction, go to How much is my standard deduction.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I might receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Jan 092015
 
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Taxpayer Bill of Rights

Every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights. You should be aware of these rights when you interact with the Internal Revenue Service.

The “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” takes the many existing rights in the tax code and groups them into 10 broad categories. That makes them easier to find and to understand.

You can find a list of your rights and the IRS’s obligations to protect them in Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer. It includes the following:

1. The Right to Be Informed.
Taxpayers have the right to know what they need to do to comply with the tax laws. They are entitled to clear explanations of the laws and IRS procedures in all tax forms, instructions, publications, notices and correspondence. They have the right to be informed of IRS decisions about their tax accounts and to receive clear explanations of the outcomes.

2. The Right to Quality Service.
Taxpayers have the right to receive prompt, courteous, and professional assistance in their dealings with the IRS, to be spoken to in a way they can easily understand, to receive clear and easily understandable communications from the IRS and to speak to a supervisor about inadequate service.

3. The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax.
Taxpayers have the right to pay only the amount of tax legally due, including interest and penalties, and to have the IRS apply all tax payments properly.

4. The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard.
Taxpayers have the right to raise objections and provide additional documentation in response to formal IRS actions or proposed actions, to expect that the IRS will consider their timely objections and documentation promptly and fairly, and to receive a response if the IRS does not agree with their position.

5. The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum.
Taxpayers are entitled to a fair and impartial administrative appeal of most IRS decisions, including many penalties, and have the right to receive a written response regarding the Office of Appeals’ decision. Taxpayers generally have the right to take their cases to court.

6. The Right to Finality.
Taxpayers have the right to know the maximum amount of time they have to challenge the IRS’s position as well as the maximum amount of time the IRS has to audit a particular tax year or collect a tax debt. Taxpayers have the right to know when the IRS has finished an audit.

7. The Right to Privacy.
Taxpayers have the right to expect that any IRS inquiry, examination, or enforcement action will comply with the law and be no more intrusive than necessary, and will respect all due process rights, including search and seizure protections, and will provide, where applicable, a collection due process hearing.

8. The Right to Confidentiality.
Taxpayers have the right to expect that any information they provide to the IRS will not be disclosed unless authorized by the taxpayer or by law. Taxpayers have the right to expect appropriate action will be taken against employees, return preparers, and others who wrongfully use or disclose taxpayer return information.

9. The Right to Retain Representation.
Taxpayers have the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice to represent them in their dealings with the IRS. Taxpayers have the right to seek assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic if they cannot afford representation.

10. The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System.
Taxpayers have the right to expect the tax system to consider facts and circumstances that might affect their underlying liabilities, ability to pay, or ability to provide information timely. Taxpayers have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service if they are experiencing financial difficulty or if the IRS has not resolved their tax issues properly and timely through its normal channels.

The IRS is trying to increase the number of Americans who know and understand their rights under the tax law. To expand awareness, the IRS is making Publication 1 available in multiple languages on IRS.gov. This important publication is available in English, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.

The IRS will include Publication 1 when sending notices to taxpayers on a range of issues, such as an audit or collection matter. All IRS facilities will publicly display the rights for taxpayers and employees to see.

The IRS released the Taxpayer Bill of Rights following extensive discussions with the Taxpayer Advocate Service. TAS is an independent office inside the IRS that represents the interests of U.S. taxpayers.

If you found this Tax Tip helpful, please share it through your social media platforms. A great way to get tax information is to follow this blog, subscribe to my newsletter or request additional information using the form below. Also, you may visit my my website at R. Darren Sanford, CPA.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I might receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Jul 302014
 
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I had put it on some time ago. I kept it on everywhere I had a presence. I was submissive and had a desire to be obedient.  The ramifications of not doing as the master said weren’t nearly as pleasurable as complying with my master’s commands.

Having become a creature of habit, and not wanting to displease my master, I had put it on everywhere. Having quite the presence online, I had it on in lots of places. You could see on me in my blog posts, my web page, my social media posts. Everywhere I was, I had it on.

Now, after months of making sure I’d covered my a**, I’m told to TAKE IT OFF!

Yep. In a webinar presented by the Office of Professional Responsibility, Karen Hawkins told me to take it off. I no longer have to include the Circular 230 disclaimer at the bottom of my emails, in my tax advice blog posts, or any other place where I contribute information related to the U.S. tax laws. In fact, if I keep it on, I can be reprimanded which I’m sure won’t be a pleasure.

Because I’m still seeing so many areas where the disclaimer is being worn, I want to make you aware of the rule change. As a reminder, it is your responsibility to keep up with the rules contained in Circular 230. If you haven’t complied with the rule, I encourage you to TAKE IT OFF!

You can find the Circular 230 Overview at http://www.irsvideos.gov/Circular230Overview_June_25_2014/

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I might receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Jul 232014
 
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5 Basic Tax Tips for New Businesses

If you start a business, one key to success is to know about your federal tax obligations. You may need to know not only about income taxes but also about payroll taxes. Here are five basic tax tips that can help get your business off to a good start.

1. Business Structure. Prior to start up, you’ll need to choose the structure of your business. Some common types include sole proprietorship (Form 1040), partnership (Form 1065) and corporation (Form 1120). You may also choose to be an S corporation (Form 1120-S) or Limited Liability Company. You’ll report your business activity using the IRS forms which are right for your business type. A Limited Liability Company (created by state statute) may be taxed as a sole proprietorship (single member), a partnership (multiple members), or other taxable entity.

2. Business Taxes. There are four general types of business taxes. They are income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax and excise tax. The type of taxes your business pays usually depends on which type of business you choose to set up. You may need to pay your taxes by making estimated tax payments.

3. Employer Identification Number. You may need to get an EIN for federal tax purposes. Search “do you need an EIN” on IRS.gov to find out if you need this number. If you do need one, you can apply for it online.

4. Accounting Method. An accounting method is a set of rules that determine when to report income and expenses. Your business must use a consistent method. The two that are most common are the cash method and the accrual 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. Under the accrual method, you generally report income in the year that you earn it and deduct expenses in the year that you incur them. This is true even if you receive the income or pay the expenses in a future year.

5. Employee Health Care. The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit helps small businesses and tax-exempt organizations pay for health care coverage they offer their employees. A small employer is eligible for the credit if it has fewer than 25 employees who work full-time, or a combination of full-time and part-time. Beginning in 2014, the maximum credit is 50 percent of premiums paid for small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid for small tax-exempt employers, such as charities.

For 2015 and after, employers employing at least a certain number of employees (generally 50 full-time employees or a combination of full-time and part-time employees that is equivalent to 50 full-time employees) will be subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility provision.

For assistance with starting a business, feel free to contact me via the form below.

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Credit: irs.gov

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I might receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Jun 022014
 
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June 16 Deadline Nears for Taxpayers Living Abroad

Taxpayers abroad qualifying for an automatic two-month extension must file their 2013 federal income tax returns by Monday, June 16, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

The June 16 deadline applies to U.S. citizens and resident aliens living overseas, or serving in the military outside the U.S. on the regular April 15 due date. Eligible taxpayers get one additional day because the normal June 15 extended due date falls on Sunday this year. To use the two-month extension, taxpayers must attach a statement to their tax return explaining which of these two situations applies. See U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad for more information.

Federal law requires U.S. citizens and resident aliens to report any worldwide income, including income from foreign trusts and foreign bank and securities accounts on their federal income tax return. Separately, U.S. persons with foreign accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during 2013 must file electronically with the Treasury Department a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

Form 114 replaces TD F 90-22.1, the FBAR form used in the past. It is due to the Treasury Department by Monday, June 30, must be filed electronically, and is only available online through the BSA E-Filing System website. This due date cannot be extended and tax extensions do not extend the FBAR filing due date. For details on FBAR requirements, see Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

To help those with the obligation to report their foreign accounts comply with the FBAR filing requirement, the IRS will hold a free one-hour webinar on Wednesday, June 4, starting at 2 p.m. Eastern time. Those interested in participating in the webinar must register for this event. More information is available on IRS.gov.

Taxpayers abroad can now use IRS Free File to prepare and electronically file their returns for free. This means both U.S. citizens and resident aliens living abroad with adjusted gross incomes (AGI) of $58,000 or less can use brand-name software to prepare their returns and then e-file them for free. A second option, Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms, has no income limit and is best suited to people who are comfortable preparing their own tax return. Check out the e-file link on IRS.gov to find out more about these and other electronic filing options. E-file and Free File will be available until Oct. 15, 2014.

Taxpayers who cannot meet the June 16 deadline can get an automatic extension until Oct. 15, 2014. This is an extension of time to file, not an extension of time to pay. Interest, currently at the rate of three percent per year compounded daily, applies to any payment made after April 15, 2014. In some cases, a late payment penalty, usually 0.5 percent per month, applies to payments made after June 16, 2014.

Taxpayers abroad, regardless of income, can use Free File to request a tax-filing extension. Alternatively, eligible taxpayers can download and file Form 4868, available on IRS.gov.

In some cases, an additional extension beyond Oct. 15 may be available. Details are in Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad. In addition, members of the military and others serving in Afghanistan and other combat zone localities normally have until at least 180 days after they leave the combat zone to file their returns and pay any taxes due. For details, see Extension of Deadlines in Publication 3, Armed Forces Tax Guide.

Any U.S. taxpayer here or abroad with tax questions can use the online IRS Tax Map and the International Tax Topic Index to get answers. These online tools assemble or group IRS forms, publications and web pages by subject and provide users with a single entry point to find tax information.

Credit:  IRS Newswire

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I might receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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May 242014
 
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If your mortgage debt has been partly or entirely forgiven, you may be able to exclude the forgiven debt from your income.  Normally, the amount of debt forgiven by a lender must be reported on your tax return as income.  But because of a special tax relief program, in general, you will not have to report as income mortgage debt on your home that was forgiven or reduced by the lender.  This includes mortgage debt that was forgiven or reduced through a mortgage work-out, short sale or foreclosure.

English: Mortgage debt

English: Mortgage debt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

This tax relief is only available on mortgages taken out to buy, build or improve your home and it is only available for debt that was forgiven in the years 2007 through 2013.

There is also a limit on how much forgiven debt can be excluded from your income.  If you qualify, just fill out Form 982 and attach it to your tax return.  See the instructions for Form 982 for more information, including information on restrictions that apply.

A word of caution though.  Most other kinds of debt are not eligible for this relief, and special rules and limitations apply.  So before you claim this tax relief, check out the details on irs.gov.

For assistance with Form 982 related to reduction of tax attributes and mortgage debt forgiveness, contact me via the form below:

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I might receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Apr 152014
 
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Ten Tips for Paying Your Taxes

If you owe taxes with your tax return this year, you should know a few things before you file. Here are 10 helpful tips from the IRS about how to pay your federal taxes.

1. Never send cash.

2. If you e-file, you can file and pay in a single step with an electronic funds withdrawal. If you e-file on your own, you can use your tax preparation software to make the withdrawal. If you use a tax preparer to e-file, you can ask the preparer to make your tax payment electronically.

3. You can pay taxes electronically 24/7 on IRS.gov. Just click on the ‘Payments’ tab near the top left of the home page for details.

4. You can also pay by check or money order. Make your check or money order payable to the “United States Treasury.”

5. Whether you e-file your tax return or file on paper, you can also pay with a credit or debit card. The company that processes your payment will charge a processing fee.

6. You may be able to deduct the credit or debit card processing fee on next year’s return. It’s claimed on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. The fee is a miscellaneous itemized deduction subject to the 2 percent limit.

7. Be sure to write your name, address and daytime phone number on the front of your payment. Also, write the tax year, form number you are filing and your Social Security number.

8. Complete Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher, and mail it with your tax return and payment to the IRS. Make sure you send it to the address listed on the back of Form 1040-V. This will help the IRS process your payment and post it to your account. You can get the form on IRS.gov.

9. Remember to enclose your payment with your tax return but do not staple it to any tax form.

10. For more information, call 800-829-4477 and select TeleTax Topic 158, Ensuring Proper Credit of Payments. You can also get information in the instructions for Form 1040-V.

Paying taxes is required for both citizens and...

Paying taxes is required for both citizens and non-citizens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I might receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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