Category Archives: Tax Advice

Extended Individual Tax Deadline: What information do you send your tax preparer?


If you were granted a tax filing extension and want to pay more than you need to…this blog is not for you. For anyone else, who was granted an extension, this post will help you to avoid the failure to file a penalty and also guide you on everything you need to make your tax filing go as smoothly as possible.

The extended individual tax filing deadline is October 15. If you have not filed your 2021 taxes yet, you have less than a month to complete this task or risk facing steep penalties.

The fine for missing the deadline is known as the failure to file a penalty. This penalty equals 5% every month you don’t file up to 25% of what you owe.

To put this in perspective, if you owe $10,000 in taxes, and fail to file on time, you’ll owe an extra $500 a month up to $2500. In many places, $2500 is a month or two of rent.

The best way to avoid this penalty is to meet with a tax preparer as soon as possible. When you do meet with your tax preparer, here’s what you should bring to be prepared:

Forms of identification including

  • Photo ID
  • Social Security Cards
  • TIN assignment letters for you, your spouse, and dependents (if applicable)
  • Bank account information if receiving direct deposit for return (voided check can also work)
  • Last 2 years of tax returns

Income documents including

W-2 form(s) for all jobs last year

  • 1099-NEC and/or 1099-K 
  • Records of income not reported on 1099 forms
  • Records of expenses including receipts, credit statements, etc.
  • Record of estimated tax payments
  • SSA-1099 form for Social Security benefits (if retired)
  • 1099-R for pension/IRA/annuity income (if retired)
  • 1099-G (if you received unemployment income or refund of state/local income taxes)
  • 1099-R (if you received disability income)
  • Documents for income or loss from the sale of stocks, bonds, or real estate (if applicable)
  • Documents for alimony received (if applicable)
  • Statements for prizes or lottery/gambling winnings (if applicable)
  • Documents for any other income

Expense documents to claim tax deductions including

  • 401k or IRA contributions
  • Taxes paid on the state and local level
  • Mortgage and property tax bills
  • Receipts for charitable donations
  • Records for supplies used as an educator

Everyone’s situation is different. It’s best to call a tax preparer as soon as possible to know precisely what is needed for your appointment.

Don’t spend 25% more on taxes by missing the deadline. Book an appointment with a tax preparer today and be prepared by gathering all the documents you need to make your appointment go smoothly.

Don’t pay more than you need to.

File today.

A.K. Burton, PC, has been working with the IRS for our clients for many years. Our firm has experienced accountants and lawyers who can represent you before the IRS and resolve any issues you may have. Call us at (301) 365-1974 for a consultation.

We serve the Bethesda, Rockville, and Montgomery County, MD area.

For more information, visit the Tax Outreach website

How to Avoid an Audit on Your 2021 Tax Returns

Audit!

That word sends shivers into any honest taxpayer. You do everything you know to do on your tax returns. Your CPA has signed it and filed it. 

However, despite all that, the audit notice from the IRS has arrived. You’re stressed.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can avoid an audit on your 2021 tax returns if you take the right preventative steps to do it. Here are some smart and legal ways to do it: 

    1. Don’t lie or attempt to cheat the IRS: This is the first and foremost reason! SO many people try to cheat the IRS every year. Some get away with it but most do not. Besides that, it’s just wrong. Dishonest tax filers claim excessive or unreasonable tax deductions. They are so obvious, that the IRS flags them and begins investigating. Their agents will ask for additional information. If discrepancies are found, the agency may levy penalties. Instead, be truthful in all your deductions and credits.
    2. Keep accurate and detailed records: There is a boatload of different forms that are available based on deductions and income. They can be confusing and it’s easy to make mistakes or forget them. Thus, the importance of keeping accurate and thorough records during the year. Keep all expense receipts in a file labeled for that year. That file should be accessible at all times. File your taxes only when you have all the required forms so you won’t have to amend your tax return.
    3. Don’t overdo it with your home office deduction. Self-employed people who have businesses in their homes are considered independent contractors. The deductions designated for that should be “reasonable” as the IRS defines it or it may become a huge red flag, especially if the home office is where you derive most of your income. So, claim just a percentage of your mortgage or rent that is your true workspace. Other expenses, such as phone, AC/heat, supplies, and other expenses can be claimed as business-related.
    4. File electronically. A good way to avoid audits is to file them online. The IRS encourages this for one big reason: paper filing usually contains many more errors than electronic files. Hard copy errors are 21% as electronic filing is 0.5%. The IRS software has protections in place so that filers have fewer errors. 
    5. Hire an experienced bookkeeper, accountant, or CPA. Tax laws change every year. It’s almost impossible to keep up with them unless you are an accounting professional. So, protect yourself and hire an accountant or bookkeeper to file your taxes for you. Most good accountants will also represent you to the IRS, which can be invaluable to prevent an audit. 

Tax Day is April 18, 2022, which is only a few weeks away as we publish this blog. No one wants to be audited. It can be agonizing. If you have not done the above steps or wonder if you are going to be audited, please contact an accountant for a consultation. 

AK Burton, PC, knows the current tax laws and how to work with the IRS. Our experienced tax preparers can file your business and personal tax returns and represent you to the IRS. Call us at (301) 365-1974 for a consultation. 

We serve the Bethesda, Rockville, and Montgomery County, MD area.

The Expectations for the 2022 Tax Preparation Season


The holiday season has come and gone but “tax season” is always with us. This tax season may be as complicated as ever due to the pandemic and a flurry of new tax laws that came down from Congress. 

Your expectations for your personal and business tax preparation may have to be adjusted, particularly with working with the IRS (always a challenge) and the child and dependent tax credit. Here are some facts to keep in mind as you get your documents in order to file for 2021:

  1. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Delayed and behind 
  2. E-filing begins January 24, 2022: The IRS is already way behind in preparing for this tax season and is still working on 2019 and 2020 tax filings. These disruptions are blamed on the ongoing pandemic along with budget cuts, a shrinking workforce, and outdated technologies at the IRS.
  3. Delayed refund for returns claiming Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). The IRS cannot issue refunds before mid-February 2022 for returns that properly claim ACTC. This time frame applies to the entire refund, not just the portion associated with ACTC.
  4. The Child and Dependent Care Credit: 
    • Differences in credits for qualifying children and other dependents tax year 2021
    • Enhanced child tax credit. For 2021, the child tax credit applies to qualifying children who have not attained age 18 by the end of 2021. Also, the initial amount of the child tax credit is increased to $3,600 for each qualifying child who has not attained age 6 by the end of 2021 and $3,000 for each other qualifying child who has not attained age 18 by the end of 2021. The credit for other dependents has not been enhanced. 
    • In the know. Important abbreviations: ACTC means additional child tax credit.  ATIN means adoption taxpayer identification number.  ITIN means individual taxpayer identification number.  NCTC means nonrefundable child tax credit.  ODC means credit for other dependents.  RCTC means refundable child tax credit.
    • Delayed refund for returns claiming ACTC. The IRS cannot issue refunds before mid-February 2022 for returns that properly claim ACTC. This time frame applies to the entire refund, not just the portion associated with ACTC.
    • 2021 Child and dependent care credit information: The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, was enacted on March 11, 2021, making the Child and Dependent Care credit substantially more generous and potentially refundable (up to $4,000 for one qualifying person and $8,000 for two or more qualifying persons) only for the tax year 2021, This means an eligible taxpayer can receive this credit even if they owe no federal income tax. Your federal income tax may be reduced by claiming the Credit for Child and Dependent Care expenses on your tax return. ***

If you have been frustrated the past filing your individual and/or business in the past, this year will not be any different. We are constantly hearing from clients who are having difficulty contacting the IRS to get important information or a consultation on a previously filed tax return. 

AK Burton, PC, knows the current tax laws and how to work with the IRS. Our experienced tax preparers can file your business and personal tax returns and represent you to the IRS.  Call us at (301) 365-1974 for a consultation. Our office is open. Covid protocols if requested. We serve the Bethesda, Rockville, and Montgomery County, MD area. 

*** For more information on Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, visit the IRS website.   

 

2021 Child Tax Credit and Advanced Child Tax Credits

As the season’s change, so do the tax laws. Congress and the Internal Revenue Service make adjustments yearly though they usually give taxpayers a year to get ready for the changes. Most of them are minor, however, there are a few laws, especially following the COVID-19 crisis, that affect millions of Americans.  

The pandemic spurred lawmakers to sign into law the American Rescue Plan. It includes an important change to the Child Tax Credit (CTC)***, which will become effective July 15, 2021. The changes to the CTC include:

  • amount increased for many taxpayers
  • fully refundable
  • includes children who turn 17 in 2021
  • monthly advance payments of half the estimated annual CTC from July through December

Here are some details about the CTC:

  1.  Your child must be under eighteen (18) years of age
  1.  For tax year 2021, the Child Tax Credit is increased from $2,000 per qualifying child to:
    1. $3,600 for children ages 5 and under at the end of 2021; and
    2. $3,000 for children ages 6 through 17 at the end of 2021. 
  2. Depending on your tax bracket and filing status, you may be phased out from receiving the refundable credit:
    1. A single filer with children under 17 making up to $75,000 will receive the full payment for each child, while those earning up to $90,000 will get a reduced amount. 
    2. Joint filers with children who make up to $150,000 will get the full credit, while those earning up to $170,000 will receive a smaller amount.
  1. Unlike the economic impact payments which did not need to be paid back if they were issued in error, the CTC must be paid back if issued to an ineligible recipient. To unenroll in the advance CTC payments go to: www.irs.gov/childtaxcredit2021 .

If you have any questions about child tax credits, consult your income tax advisor or accountant. A.K. Burton, PC, can do all your income tax preparation. We have experienced staff who can prepare and file your federal and state tax return and represent you before the IRS. Call us at (301) 365-1974 for a consultation. Our office is open. At this time we are not providing in-person services because of the pandemic. We serve the Bethesda, Rockville, and Montgomery County, MD area.

***Find out more about the Child Care Tax Credit from the IRS website.  

Five Tax-Planning Strategies to Try Before 12/31/2020

It’s November. What comes to mind when you hear November? Holidays and turkey time? At my work, we are thinking about something a little different…tax planning! The tax year 2020 is drawing to a close. That means there’s still a good month left for tax planning. If you own a business, you still have time to make some crucial, time-saving, and money-saving tax planning decisions. The tax year 2020 has held some significant challenges navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Tax planning is important; especially if your business has been significantly impacted by the pandemic. Contact your tax preparer to discuss some tax planning strategies. Next thing you know, the first quarter 2021 will be happening and it will be time to put that planning to good use.

Take the time to meet with your CPA and go over your books. Here are some tax-planning ideas to get the ball rolling:

  1. Claim quick disaster loss refunds. Businesses can claim specific losses attributable to a disaster on a prior-year tax return. This is meant to provide quicker refunds. The Trump COVID-19 disaster declaration designated all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories as disaster areas. Almost every U.S. business is in the covered disaster area thus making it eligible for refunds, depending on the losses. A business may claim a COVID-19 related disaster loss occurring in 2020 on a 2019 amended return for a quicker refund. It may affect losses coming from many different circumstances, such as loss of inventory or supplies or office, plant, or store closures. The loss must actually be attributable to or caused by COVID-19.
  2. Payroll tax deductions. The CARES Act lets employers defer paying their 6.2% share of Social Security taxes for the rest of 2020. Half of it is due by Dec. 31, 2021. The second half is due by Dec. 31, 2022. Payroll taxes cannot be deducted until their share is paid. Some taxpayers may pay the taxes as late as 8½ months into 2021 but still, claim a deduction for 2020.
  3. Use above-the-line charitable deduction. In the past, there was no tax benefit for giving to charity unless you itemized deductions. The CARES Act, however, created an above-the-line deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions from taxpayers who don’t itemize. In order to take advantage of this provision, donate by 12/31/2020. 
  4. Make up a tax shortfall with increased withholding. COVID-19 caused cash-flow issues for many businesses this year. Your withholding and estimated taxes should align with what you actually expect to pay while you correct the cash flow issue. If you are in danger of being penalized for underpaying taxes, make it up through increased withholding on your salary or bonuses.
  5. Use low-interest rates and generous exemptions. Interest rates this year are historically low. Plus, lifetime gift and estate tax exemptions can still be utilized. COVID-19 is depressing many asset values but you can still use estate-planning strategies. The present gift and estate tax exemptions are scheduled to expire in a few years. 
  6. Claim AMT refunds. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) repealed the corporate alternative minimum tax (AMT). Now, corporations may claim all their unused AMT credits in the tax years beginning in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allows corporations to claim credits in either 2018 or 2019. Companies have several options to file for quick refunds. They can file a tentative refund claim on Form 1139. It must be filed on 12/31/2020 to claim an AMT credit.

There are a number of tax planning strategies that may be in the best interest of your business. In order to customize your tax planning strategy, we need to meet with you, analyze the data, and discuss. The tax planning process takes some time, so don’t wait until the last minute. Contact us today and consult one of our experienced tax advisors. 

A.K. Burton, PC, can assist small business clients with their taxes. We are familiar with the CARES Act and TCJA and can advise our clients on being proactive in their tax planning by the end of the year. Call us at (301) 365-1974 for a consultation. Our office is open! We serve Bethesda, Rockville, and Montgomery County. MD area.

*** You can find more information about TCJA at the IRS website

Ask Your Financial Advisor: Deductions for Charitable Donations During the Pandemic

Charities have been busier than ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit back in March as millions of people lost their jobs and went on unemployment. Food banks, utilities help, rent and mortgage assistance, and other similar non-profits are dispensing everyday aid to needy citizens. 

You may have been led to donate to charities, both local and national, to help others who have fallen into serious financial straits. *** So, if you are able to give during this pandemic, there are some deductions for charitable organizations that you need to know during this time:

  1. Required Minimum Retirement Distributions Waived in 2020: For 2020, the IRS has waived mandatory distributions from retirement accounts such as IRAs. This waiver was allowed for IRA account holders to have time to recover what may have been lost during the year. You may be planning to donate retirement assets to charity, too. The minimum age for making a tax-free transfer from an IRA to a non-profit is still 70½. The $100,000 annual limit has not changed. There is still time to increase donations to charitable organizations and offsetting an IRA withdrawal with a deduction.
  2. Non-itemizers have a new $300 Charitable Deduction: Taxpayers who do not itemize deductions can now deduct up to $300 single filing or $600 for a married couple. The CARES Act was amended so that donors to charities could give a little more cash gifts which are above the standard deduction.
  3. 100% of Adjusted Gross Income Available in 2020 for Cash Gift Deductions: Charitable donors can 100% of their adjusted gross incomes for cash gifts that are made to public charities. This is for 2020 only as, historically, the largest share of income that a donor could deduct was 60%. It is a 40% increase. Just note that this is for 2020 only.
  4. Donations of appreciated securities or other property: These donations do not qualify for the new charitable contribution provisions in the CARES Act as they are not considered Qualified Charitable Contributions. The only exception is for food inventory for C Corporations.
  5. Carryover Contributions: Charitable contribution carryovers from previous years and not for the 2020 tax year are different. Now, the current year contributions are deducted first, then the carryover contributions are subject to the normal ordering rules.
  6. Philanthropic taxpayers with traditional IRA accounts: It may be more advantageous to do a 2020 ROTH IRA conversion. Qualified Charitable Contributions for 2020 may offset 100% of the income recognized on such conversions.

This year has been a difficult year for us all. We will persevere! These tax law changes benefit charitable organizations and donors. As always, before making a significant financial decision, we recommend that you discuss these changes with an experienced financial advisor. 

A.K. Burton, PC, has experienced financial advisors who can help you navigate through the numerous tax changes in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. Call us at (301) 365-1974 for a consultation. Our office is open! We serve the Bethesda, Rockville, and Montgomery County. MD area. *** For more on the losses charities have sustained, click here.       

Business Tax: Planning During the Pandemic

As we write this blog, unfortunately, the whole CVOID-19 pandemic is still with us and maybe for a while, though we are hopeful it ends soon. 

Here at AK Burton PC, we are working with our clients to create tax plans tailored to their unique situation. Now, during the uncertainty that the pandemic has caused; it is important to answer the questions business clients have now and plan for their future. Here are a few examples of some business tax planning strategies: 

  1. Depreciate idle business equipment (idle asset): The pandemic has caused a lot of business equipment to become idle. The business owner needs to show that they plan to use them again as soon as the business returns to full operations. It is known as the “idle asset” rule. If the equipment is abandoned or disposed of then the rule is no longer in effect.
  2. Automatic changes in accounting method: A business owner can make accounting changes right up to the due date of the tax return. Such changes may include: changing the treatment of prepaid expenses, accrued compensation, advanced payments received, reviewing the class lives used for depreciation, and reviewing the application of the uniform capitalization rules on inventory.
  3. Transfer-pricing arrangements: Due to the pandemic, businesses have lost thousands or millions in sales. This has decreased cash flow. So, now customs declarations or adjustments must be revised. Thus, the transfer-pricing for goods may not be relevant due to the three-month (or longer) cessation of business due to the COVID-19 pandemic which did not provide U.S. multinational companies a way to shift tax burdens between jurisdictions. (As we always say, consult with your professional and licensed tax planning consultant.) 
  4. Review business receivables to see if there are any write-offs: A “bad debt deduction” is only allowed for debts that are worthless during the tax year that the deduction is taken. The true worthlessness of the debt and the fact that is was taken during the tax year must be determined.
  5. Inventory values: Lower-of-cost-or-market (LCM) inventory valuation may bring inventory write-downs before the inventory is sold. (See your accountant about regulations.) All inventory items must be considered separately so correct values can be determined. (A percentage write-down is allowed for accounting.) 
  6. Verify that there is adequate stock and debt basis for S Corps/Partnerships: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act may result in increased deductions and taxes paid for potential refunds. Relief provisions come from a partnership or S corporation and the partner/shareholder must have an adequate tax basis for any deduction or loss that comes from the entity to benefit in the current year from these favorable provisions. if an additional basis needs to be created by making additional capital contributions or loans before the end of the year.

These are just a few examples that may apply to your 2020 business tax planning strategy. While COVID-19 has made tax planning even more challenging, you and your accountant can still work within the guidelines to maximize the benefit of tax planning for your business. 

A.K. Burton, PC, has experienced tax advisors who can help you with your 2020 COVID-19 business tax planning. Call us at (301) 365-1974 for a consultation. Our office is open! We serve the Bethesda, Rockville, and Montgomery County. MD area.        

*** For more information on the forms and other IRS documents, click here.

Tax Preparation Alert: Individual Taxes Are Due July 15, 2020

As you read this blog, the day is getting closer. Which day?

That day is July 15, 2020, and it is the extended filing deadline for all individual tax returns this year.

The federal government changed it to July 15 because, of course, the Coronavirus pandemic put millions out of work and set back deadlines. Now, States are reopening, and as people are returning to their job (if it is still available); it’s important not to forget this tax return filing date.

The later filing date has been a relief to many people who were laid off when the pandemic closings began. Millions were thrown out of work and have been unemployed or finding work where they can. This spring will be one for the books as it has stressed us all. Your individual Federal tax return is due July 15th. Check with your tax preparer for when your state tax return is due. Here, at A.K. Burton, PC we have been monitoring the everchanging Federal & State guidance striving to give our clients the best service possible during a period of such unprecedented legislative turbulence.  

While the three-month extension to file Federal individual taxes has given taxpayers 3 extra months to pay any tax due on the deadline, it has also given people a chance to procrastinate. Before we know it, July 15 will arrive and many taxpayers will not be ready. Let’s fix that. First, you need to send all of your tax documents to your tax preparer.

Don’t remember what documents to provide your tax preparer? Here are some tips on what to bring them:

1.    Wages and salary income (W2)

2.    State tax refunds and unemployment compensation  (1099-G)

3.    Dividend & Interest statements

4.    Stocks, bonds and other investments

5.    Rental income & Expenses

6.    Forms K-1 from Partnerships and S Corp

7. Forms 1099 (MISC) 

8. Schedule C- Business Income & expenses

9. Forms 1099-R for Pensions & IRAs

10.Property tax bills

11. Medical Expenses

12. Mortgage interest (form 1098)

13. Charitable donations

14. Moving expenses

15. Child care expenses

16. Tuition Paid (Form 1098-T)

17. Student Loan Interest Paid (Form 1098-E)   

Organize these documents. That will help your accountant or tax preparer get your tax returns completed more efficiently. Then, upload the documents to a secure link your tax preparer sent you or bring them to your accountants’ office ASAP as time is running out.

Late filings beyond July 15, 2020, may incur interest and penalties, so you may have to file an extension. Any tax you owe is due by the filing deadline. This is done by filing Form 4868. If you don’t have all your tax documents gathered, give your tax preparer all the documents you have and ask for an extension to be filed.

The main thing to remember if you have not filed your 2019 income tax returns is: See your tax preparer now! You don’t want to get any late fees or correspondence letters from the IRS.

A.K. Burton, PC, is open for business and we can prepare and file your taxes for you and your business. We are working extended hours to prepare our client’s returns.  Call us at (301) 365-1974 for a phone consultation. We serve the Bethesda, Rockville, and Montgomery County. MD area.        

*** For more information on the forms and other IRS documents, click here.  

Tax Planning During the COVID-19 Crisis

It’s the middle of May 2020, when spring is ending and summer is just around the corner. We’re looking forward to Memorial Day and the warmer weather. Unlike last year, we are in the middle of the COVID-19/Coronavirus Crisis in the DMV/Beltway area. The pandemic has put a kink in our summer plans as well as our tax plans. 

Our new normal is where some businesses are closed. Quarantines are still in place. The streets and parks are quiet. Life, as we know it, has been put on hold until the government issues new guidelines. It is only speculation as to when life will resume with the same kind of normalcy before the pandemic gripped our country. How can we possibly plan ahead in an uncertain world, let alone a tax plan?

At A.K. Burton PC, we are still open for business. We are available by phone and execute our work virtually and remotely. We are working to help our clients during this unprecedented global pandemic. Our clients are our first priority. Even though the pandemic has turned our lives upside-down here’s a friendly reminder of some tax planning strategies:  

  1. Health Insurance: If you’ve had a major change in income for 2020, and you have your health insurance coverage through the marketplace; update your income information. It may lower your monthly premiums. If you have had a major life change such as losing your job, you may qualify for a “Special Enrollment Period” and be able to enroll in health insurance coverage through the marketplace at healthcare.gov. 
  2. Home office deduction: Since the COVID-19 epidemic, you may have needed to work from home. Depending on the method your income is earned you may or may not qualify for business use of home deduction on your 2020 tax return. If you do qualify for a deduction, your office must be the square footage in your home that is EXCLUSIVELY used for business. It can not be the sofa where you watch TV or your bed where you sleep at night. Keep track of expenses for your home including electricity, WiFi, water, and phone expenses. Keep track of any office supplies such as printer ink or computer paper. 
  3. Capital gains/ losses: Keep records of your trades and holdings in stocks, cryptocurrencies, and commodities. Save all of your trade data so you can report all reportable transactions accurately. 
  4. Online software for business: In order to do business from home, you may have had to purchase or rent certain software. This may include subscriptions to Zoom or other pertinent software programs. Keep accurate records of these receipts. 

A.K. Burton, PC, has experienced tax advisors who can assist you in this unprecedented time. We are here for our clients working to file their tax returns. Call us at (301) 365-1974 for a phone consultation. We serve the Bethesda, Rockville, and Montgomery County. MD area.