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Below is a collection of information, updates, and articles to help provide basic education on tax issues. These are intended for general reference, any specific questions or concerns on related subjects can be directed to our team of licensed tax professionals by calling 888.722.0409 or filling out one of our forms available throughout the site.

Common Tax Questions Answered:

What happens if I don’t file on time?

There’s no penalty for filing a federal tax return after the deadline IF you are set to receive a refund. However, penalties and interest are due if taxes are not paid on time or a tax extension is not requested AND you owe tax. To avoid this problem, file your taxes as soon as you can because the penalties can pile up pretty quickly. The failure-to-file penalty is 5 percent of the unpaid tax added for each month (or part of a month) that a tax return is late.

Can I file for an extension?

If you are not on track to complete your tax return by April 18th, you can file an extension to give you until Oct. 17, 2022, to file your tax return. Be aware that this is only an extension of time to file — not an extension of time to pay taxes you owe. You still need to pay all taxes by April 18th to avoid penalties and interest. So even if you plan to file an extension, a preliminary review of your tax documents is necessary to determine whether or not you need to make a payment when the extension is filed.

What are my tax payment options?

You have many options to pay your income tax. You can mail a check, pay directly from a bank account with IRS Direct Pay, pay with a debit or credit card (for a fee), or apply online for an IRS payment plan.No matter how you pay your tax bill, finalize your tax payment arrangements by the end of the day on April 18th.

When will I get my refund?

According to the IRS, 90 percent of refunds for returns that are e-filed are processed in less than 21 days. You could end up waiting several months, however, if you paper file your return. The IRS is still processing a backlog of several million paper-filed tax returns from last year. You can use the Where’s My Refund? feature on the IRS website to see the status of your refund. The refund information is usually available 24 hours after receiving confirmation that your e-filed tax return was accepted by the IRS.

Is it true the IRS is still backlogged with last year's tax returns?

Yes. Late changing tax legislation created tons of extra work for the IRS, all while the pandemic played havoc on staffing. During a testimony made to Congress, the Director of the IRS claims the backlog will be cleared up by the end of the year…assuming no major demands are made on their resources.

Sole Proprietor Woman

The Benefits of Being a Sole Proprietor:

Many start-up businesses move from hobby status to a business when they start to make a profit. The taxing entity typically used is a sole proprietorship. Taxes on this business activity type flow through your personal tax return on a Schedule C. This type of business form has many benefits:

Hire Family:

  • You can hire your kids and decrease your tax bill. As a sole proprietor, you can hire your kids and avoid paying Social Security and Medicare taxes for their work. While there are exceptions, this can generally save your small business over 7.65% on their wages.
  • Your kids can benefit, too. Any income your kids earn that’s less than $12,950 isn’t taxed at the federal level. So this is a great way to build a tax-free savings account for your children. Remember, though, that their work must reflect actual activity and reasonable pay. So consider hiring your kids to do copying, act as a receptionist, provide office clean up, advertising or other reasonable activities for your business.
  • Hire your spouse. If handled correctly, a spouse hired as an employee can work to your advantage as a sole proprietor. As long as the spouse is truly an employee of the business, the sole proprietor can benefit as a member of their employee’s (spouse’s) family benefits. This can include potential medical expense reimbursements.

Fewer Tax Forms:

Fewer tax forms and filings. As a sole proprietor, your business activity is reported on a Schedule C within your personal Form 1040 tax return. Other business types like an S corporation, C corporation or a partnership must file separate tax returns, which makes tax compliance a lot more complicated.

More Control:

More control over revenue and expense. You often have more control over the taxable income of your small business as a sole proprietor. This can provide more flexibility in determining the timing of some of your revenue and business expenses, which can be used as a great tax planning tool.

Retirement Funding:

Funding a retirement account. You can also reduce your business’s taxable income by placing some of the profits into a retirement account like an IRA. As a sole proprietor, you can readily manage your marginal tax rate by controlling the amount you wish to set aside in this pre-tax retirement account.

It's Not All Roses:

It’s not all roses. While there are many benefits of running your business as a sole proprietor, don’t forget the drawbacks. One of the most significant drawbacks is the lack of personal legal protection, which is a feature in other business forms like corporations and Limited Liability Companies. Most sole proprietors address this with proper business insurance, so do not overlook the need to find coverage for yourself.

Please call if you have questions about your sole proprietor business.

Protect Your Emergency Fund From Inflation:

Most financial experts suggest keeping three to six months’ worth of household expenses in savings to help in case of emergency. But with record inflation, that task just got a lot harder to accomplish as virtually every safe place to put your emergency funds will not provide interest rates that keep pace with inflation. But that does not mean you cannot increase the rate of return on these funds. Here are some ideas to reduce the impact of inflation on your emergency funds:

Monitor Your Savings:

  • Actively monitor your savings account rate. Earlier this year the Federal Reserve increased interest rates for the first time since 2018. In addition, the head of the Federal Reserve is suggesting there may be several of these rate increases in the next twelve months. This should increase the interest you can earn on the cash in your emergency account.
  • What you need to know: Not all savings accounts are created equal. When the Fed increases the interest rate, your saving account rate should also go higher…immediately. But this is not always the case. If your bank is slow to raise your savings rate, be willing to monitor and shift funds to a bank that does. Just make sure the funds are still FDIC insured and are kept at a reputable bank.

Savings Bonds:

Creative use of Roth IRA funds in an emergency. Roth IRAs are funded with after-tax dollars. Because of this, early removal of the initial contribution is tax and penalty-free. If you dip into the earnings, however, you will not only be subject to income tax, but also may be subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty. What you need to know: Use of a Roth IRA is often a creative way to fund your emergency account while achieving higher returns with conservative investment choices, but it is not for the faint of heart. If you get this one wrong, it could cost you in taxes, penalties, and lost fund value in a bear market. Prior to removing funds from any IRA, it makes sense to conduct a tax planning session.

Please call if you have questions about how to reduce the impact of inflation on your emergency fund.

Interest Rate Hike

Review Financial Decisions When Interest Rates Change

Interest rates are expected to increase this year in response to inflation that is running at a 40-year high. How will you be affected? Any interest rate revision can cause a ripple effect throughout the economy. Accordingly, the Federal Reserve’s actions probably will exert at least a moderate influence over financial choices that you may make at home and in your business in 2022 and beyond. Here are some things to consider when making financial decisions during rate changes:

Savings & Debt:

As a consumer, you stand to gain from rising interest rates because you’ll likely earn a better return on your deposits. Over the last ten years, placing your money in a certificate of deposit or passbook savings account has been hardly more profitable than stuffing it under a mattress. On the other hand, the cost of borrowing money will likely increase. As a result, mortgages, car loans, and credit cards will demand higher interest rates. That’s not a big deal if you’re already locked into low-interest fixed-rate loans. But if you have a variable rate loan or carry balances on your credit cards, you may find your monthly payments starting to increase.

Investments:

On the investment front, market volatility may increase because rate increases are not completely predictable. Market sectors will likely exhibit varied responses to changes in interest rates. Those sectors that are less dependent on discretionary income may be less affected – after all, you need to buy gas, clothes, and groceries regardless of changes in interest rates. As you adjust your financial plan, you might only need to make minor changes. Staying the course with a well-diversified retirement portfolio is still a prudent strategy. However, you may want to review your investment allocations.

Your Business:

Rising interest rates can also affect your business. If your company’s balance sheet has variable-rate debt, rising interest rates can affect your bottom line and possibly your plans for growth. As the cost of borrowing increases, taking out loans for new equipment or financing expansion with credit may become less desirable.

Please call if you have questions about deciding on the most beneficial response to potential future changes in interest rates.

Debt Blocks

DEBT: Gone, But Not Forgotten by the IRS

With the ups and downs of our economy over the last 2 years, you may have had a loan or credit card balance forgiven or canceled by a financial institution. You would think that the cancellation of debt by a credit card company or mortgage company would be a good thing for you and your family. And it can be, but it can also be considered taxable income by the IRS. Here is a quick review of various debt cancellation situations:

Consumer Debt:

If you have gone through some type of credit workout program on consumer debt, it’s likely that some of your debt has been canceled. If that is the case, be prepared to receive IRS Form 1099-C representing the amount of debt canceled. The IRS considers that amount taxable income to you, and they expect to see it reported on your tax return. The exception is if you file for bankruptcy. With bankruptcy, generally, the debt canceled is not taxable. Even if you are not legally bankrupt, you might be technically insolvent where your liabilities exceed your assets. If this is the case, you can exclude your debt cancellation income by reporting your financial condition and filing IRS Form 982 with your tax return.

Primary Home:

If your primary home is short sold or foreclosed and the lender receives less than the total amount of the outstanding loan, expect that amount of debt cancellation to be reported to you and the IRS. But special rules allow you to exclude up to $2 million in cancellation income in many circumstances. You will again need to complete IRS Form 982, but the exclusion from taxable income brought about by the debt cancellation on your primary residence is incredibly liberal. So make sure to take advantage of these rules should they apply to you.

Student Loans:

If your school closes while enrolled or soon after you withdraw, you may be eligible to discharge your federal student loan and not include the forgiven amount as taxable income. You also may be eligible to exclude from taxable income any student loans discharged due to your school misleading you or engaging in other misconduct in violation of certain state laws.

Property Debt:

The rules for debt cancellation on second homes, rental property, and investment or business property can be extremely complicated. Given your cost of these properties, your financial condition, and the amount of debt canceled, it’s still possible to have this debt cancellation income taxed at a preferred capital gains rate, or even considered not taxable at all.

Please call if you have questions about how a cancellation of debt situation applies to you.

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