IRS Announces Mid-Year Optional Vehicle Mileage Rate Increase 

Article Highlights:

  • Mid-year Increase
  • Items Included in the Optional Mileage Rate
  • What Can Be Deducted in Addition to the Optional Mileage Rate
  • Switching Methods

With gas prices soaring it has been expected the IRS would increase the mileage rate that business owners can deduct for vehicle use instead of keeping a record of actual expenses. Sure enough, the IRS recently announced a 4-cent increase in the optional mileage rate for the last half of 2022. 

The new rate for deductible medical or moving expenses (available for active-duty members of the military) will be 22 cents for the last 6 months of 2022, also up 4 cents from the rate effective at the start of 2022. These new rates become effective July 1, 2022.

Optional Mileage Rate for 2022
Purpose 1/1 through 6/30/22 7/1 through 12/31/22 

The standard mileage rate for businesses is based on a study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs as determined by the same study. The rate for using an automobile while performing services for a charitable organization is statutorily set and has been 14 cents for over 20 years.

The standard mileage rate is determined annually by the IRS using data from a study conducted by an independent contractor of vehicle-operating expenses based on the prior year’s costs. The rate includes:

  • Gas,
  • Oil,
  • Lubrication,
  • Maintenance and Repairs,
  • Vehicle registration fees,
  • Insurance, and
  • Straight-line depreciation. 

Not included in the standard rate, and deductible in addition to the optional rate, are:

  • Parking,
  • Tolls, and
  • State and local property taxes attributable to business use.

Sales tax paid when the vehicle is purchased must be capitalized into the business basis of the vehicle, so it isn’t separately deductible.  

A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for any vehicle used for hire or for more than four vehicles used simultaneously.

Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates, which may produce a better result considering the skyrocketing fuel prices. Taxpayers can also switch from using the optional mileage rate in one year to actual expenses using straight line depreciation in the next year. 

Please give this office a call if you have questions about the new rates or related to switching methods or which method you should use when putting a vehicle into service. 

Tips for Students Planning to Work During the Summer

Article Highlights:

  • Form W-4
  • Watch Out for Payroll Surprises
  • Tips
  • Odd Jobs
  • Self-Employment Tax
  • Working for Parents
  • ROTC Students
  • Newspaper Delivery
  • Retirement Contributions

As the summer break from school approaches, many students are looking for part-time summer employment. Both parents and students should be aware of the tax issues that need to be considered when working a summer job.  Here is a rundown of some of the more common issues:

  • Completing Form W-4 – The W-4 form is used by employers to determine the amount of tax that will be withheld from an employee’s paycheck.  Students with multiple summer jobs will want to make sure that all of their employers are withholding an adequate amount of taxes to cover their total income tax liability.  Generally, a student with income only from summer and part-time employment, and who is claimed as a dependent of someone else, can earn as much as $12,950 (the standard deduction amount for 2022) without being liable for income tax.  However, if the student has investment income, the tax determination becomes more complicated because, as he or she is a dependent of another, special rules apply. 
  • Watch Out for Payroll Surprises – Some employers may attempt to avoid their payroll tax liabilities by paying the student in cash and incorrectly treating them as an independent contractor, thus leaving the student with the responsibility of paying both the employee’s and employer’s payroll tax liability (see self-employment tax below). If a potential employer intends to do that, they will generally ask the student to complete a Form W-9 rather than a W-4 or simply ask for their Social Security Number (SSN) without requesting a W-4.   
  • Tips – A student who works as a waiter or a camp counselor may receive tips as part of their summer income.  All tip income received is taxable income and is therefore subject to federal income tax.  Employees are required to report tips of $20 or more received while working with any one employer in any given month.  This reporting should be made in writing to the employer by the tenth day of the month following the receipt of tips.  The employer withholds FICA (Social Security and Medicare taxes) and income taxes on these reported tips, then includes the tips and wages on the employee’s W-2. 
  • Odd Jobs – Many students do odd jobs over the summer and are paid in cash.  Just because the payment is in cash does not mean that it is tax-free.  Unfortunately, the income is taxable and may be subject to self-employment taxes (see next).  These earnings include income from odd jobs like dog walking, babysitting, and lawn mowing.
  • Self-Employment Tax – When a student works as an employee, the employer withholds Social Security tax and Medicare tax from the employee’s pay, matches the amount dollar for dollar, and remits the combined amount to the government. On the other hand, a student who is self-employed is required to pay the combined employee and employer amounts on their own (referred to as self-employment tax) if the net earnings are $400 or more.  This tax pays for future benefits under the Social Security system and Medicare Part A.  Even if the student is not liable for income tax, this 15.3% tax may apply to a student’s odd jobs.
  • Working for Parents – A child under the age of 18 working in a business solely owned by his or her parents is not subject to payroll taxes. This saves the child from having to pay the 7.65% payroll taxes and also provides the parent with relief from payroll taxes. The payroll tax exception won’t apply if the parent’s business is set up as a corporation.
  • ROTC Students – Subsistence allowances paid to ROTC students participating in advanced training are not taxable.  However, active duty pay – such as pay received during summer advanced camp – is taxable.
  • Newspaper Carrier or Distributor – Special rules apply to services performed as a newspaper carrier or distributor.  An individual is a direct seller and treated as self-employed for federal tax purposes if he or she meets the following conditions:
  • They are in the business of delivering newspapers;
  • All of their pay for these services directly relates to sales rather than to the number of hours worked; and
  • They perform the delivery services under a written contract which states that they will not be treated as an employee for federal tax purposes.
  • Newspaper Carriers or Distributors Under Age 18 – Generally, newspaper carriers or distributors under age 18 are not subject to self-employment tax.
  • Retirement Plan Contributions – Putting away money for retirement is probably the last thing a student will want to spend their summer earnings on.  However, having earned income opens up the opportunity to make traditional and Roth IRA contributions. 

If you are a student or the parent of a student with questions about these or other issues associated with student employment, please call this office for assistance.

Do You Understand Tax Lingo?

  • Filing status. 
  • Adjusted gross income (AGI).  
  • Taxable income.
  • Marginal tax rate. 
  • Alternative minimum tax (AMT). 
  • Tax Credits.
  • Underpayment of estimated tax penalty.

When discussing taxes, reading tax-related articles or trying to decipher tax form instructions, one needs to understand the lingo and acronyms used by tax professionals and authors to be able to grasp what they are saying. It can be difficult to understand tax strategies if you are not familiar with the basic terminologies used in taxation. The following provides you with the basic details associated with the most frequently encountered tax terms.   

  • Filing Status—Generally, if you are married at the end of the tax year, you have three possible filing status options: married filing jointly, married filing separately, or, if you qualify, head of household. If you were unmarried at the end of the year, you would file as single, unless you qualify for the more beneficial head of household status. A special status applies for some widows and widowers.

Head of household is the most complicated filing status to qualify for and is frequently overlooked, as well as often being incorrectly claimed. Generally, to qualify for the head of household status the taxpayer must be unmarried AND:

  • pay more than one half of the cost of maintaining his or her home, a household that was the principal place of abode for more than one half of the year of a qualifying child or certain dependent relatives, or
  • pay more than half the cost of maintaining a separate household that was the main home for a dependent parent for the entire year.

A married taxpayer may be considered unmarried for the purpose of qualifying for head of household status if the spouses were separated for at least the last six months of the year, provided the taxpayer maintained a home for a dependent child for over half the year.

Surviving spouse (also referred to as qualifying widow or widower) is a rarely used status for a taxpayer whose spouse died in one of the prior two years and who has a dependent child at home. Joint rates are used. In the year the spouse passed away, the surviving spouse may file jointly with the deceased spouse if the survivor has not remarried by the end of the year. In rare circumstances, for the year of a spouse’s death, the executor of the decedent’s estate may determine that it is better to use the married separate status on the decedent’s final return, which would then also require the surviving spouse to use the married separate status for that year.

  • Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)—AGI is the acronym for adjusted gross income. AGI is generally the sum of a taxpayer’s income less specific subtractions called adjustments (but before the standard or itemized deductions). The most common adjustments are penalties paid for early withdrawal from a savings account, and deductions for contributing to a traditional IRA or self-employment retirement plan. Many tax benefits and allowances, such as credits, certain adjustments, and some deductions are limited by a taxpayer’s AGI.
  • Modified AGI (MAGI)—Modified AGI is AGI (described above) adjusted (generally up) by tax-exempt and tax-excludable income. MAGI is a significant term when income thresholds apply to limit various deductions, adjustments, and credits. The definition of MAGI will vary depending on the item that is being limited.
  • Taxable Income—Taxable income is AGI less deductions (either standard or itemized). Your taxable income is what your regular tax is based upon using a tax rate schedule specific to your filing status. The IRS publishes tax tables that are based on the tax rate schedules and that simplify the tax calculation, but the tables can only be used to look up the tax on taxable income up to $99,999.
  • Marginal Tax Rate (Tax Bracket)—Not all of your income is taxed at the same rate. The amount equal to your standard or itemized deductions is not taxed at all. The next increment is taxed at 10%, then 12%, 22%, etc., until you reach the maximum tax rate, which is currently 37%. When you hear people discussing tax brackets, they are referring to the marginal tax rate. Knowing your marginal rate is important because any increase or decrease in your taxable income will affect your tax at the marginal rate. For example, suppose your marginal rate is 24% and you are able to reduce your income $1,000 by contributing to a deductible retirement plan. You would save $240 in federal tax ($1,000 x 24%). Your marginal tax bracket depends upon your filing status and taxable income. You can find your marginal tax rate using the table below.  

Keep in mind when using this table that the marginal rates are step functions and that the taxable incomes shown in the filing-status column are the top value for that marginal rate range.

Tax Rate
SingleHead of HouseholdJoint*Married Filing Separately
35%539,900  539,900  647,850323,925  
37%Over 539,900  Over 539,900  Over  647,850            Over 323,925  

      * Also used by taxpayers filing as surviving spouse

  • Taxpayer & Dependent Exemptions—Prior to changes made by tax reform legislation, you were allowed to claim a personal exemption for yourself, your spouse (if filing jointly), and each individual who qualifies as your dependent. The deductible exemption amount was adjusted for inflation annually; the amount for 2022 was supposed to be $4,400. However, the tax reform didn’t quite repeal the exemption deduction – it just suspended the deduction for exemptions for 2018 through 2025. Although there’s currently no exemption deduction, the $4,400 amount is used other place in the tax law. 
  • Dependents—To qualify as a dependent, an individual must be the taxpayer’s qualified child or pass all five dependency qualifications: the (1) member of the household or relationship test, (2) gross income test, (3) joint return test, (4) citizenship or residency test, and (5) support test. The gross income test limits the amount a dependent can make if he or she is over 18 and does not qualify for an exception for certain full-time students. The support test generally requires that you provide (pay for) over half of the dependent’s support, although there are special rules for divorced parents and situations where several individuals together provide over half of the support.
  • Qualified Child—A qualified child is one who meets the following tests:

(1) Has the same principal place of abode (residence) as the taxpayer for more than half of the tax year except for temporary absences;

(2) Is the taxpayer’s son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any such individual;

(3) Is younger than the taxpayer;

(4) Did not provide over half of his or her own support for the tax year;

(5) Is under age 19, or under age 24 in the case of a full-time student, or is permanently and totally disabled (at any age); and

(6) Was unmarried (or if married, either did not file a joint return or filed jointly only as a claim for refund).

  • Deductions— A taxpayer generally can choose to itemize deductions or use the standard deduction. The standard deductions, which are adjusted for inflation annually, are illustrated below for 2022.
Filing StatusStandard Deduction
Head of Household$19,400
Married Filing Jointly$25,900
Married Filing Separately$12,950

The standard deduction is increased by multiples of $1,750 for unmarried taxpayers who are over age 64 and/or blind. For married taxpayers, the additional amount is $1,400. The extra standard deduction amount is not allowed for elderly or blind dependents. Those with large deductible expenses can itemize their deductions in lieu of claiming the standard deduction. The standard deduction of a dependent filing his or her own return will oftentimes be less than the single amount shown above.

Itemized deductions generally include:

(1) Medical expenses, limited to those that exceed 7.5% of your AGI. 

(2) Taxes consisting primarily of real property taxes, state income (or sales) tax, and personal property taxes, but limited to a total of $10,000 for the year.

(3) Interest on qualified home acquisition debt and investments; the latter is limited to net investment income (i.e., the deductible interest cannot exceed your investment income after deducting investment expenses). The deduction for interest paid on a home mortgage may be limited, depending on the amount of the loan.

(4) Charitable contributions, generally limited to 60% of your AGI, but in certain circumstances the limit can be as little as 20% or 30% of AGI.

(5) Gambling losses to the extent of gambling income, and certain other rarely encountered deductions.

  • Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)—The Alternative Minimum Tax is another way of being taxed that has often taken taxpayers by surprise, although due to the changes made by the tax reform legislation fewer taxpayers are being hit with AMT. The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) is a tax that was originally intended to ensure that wealthier taxpayers with large write-offs and tax-sheltered investments pay at least a minimum tax. However, even taxpayers whose only “tax shelter” is having a large number of dependents or paying high state income or property taxes were being affected by the AMT. Your tax must be computed by the regular method and also by the alternative method. The tax that is higher must be paid. The following are some of the more frequently encountered factors and differences that contribute to making the AMT greater than the regular tax.
    • The standard deduction is not allowed for the AMT, and a person subject to the AMT cannot itemize for AMT purposes unless he or she also itemizes for regular tax purposes. Therefore, it is important to make every effort to itemize if subject to the AMT.
    • Itemized deductions:
      • Taxes are not allowed at all for the AMT.
      • Some Home Acquisition Debt Interest. Interest paid on non-conventional homes such as motor homes and boats is not allowed as an AMT deduction.
      • Nontaxable interest from private activity bonds is tax free for regular tax purposes, but some is taxable for the AMT.
      • Statutory stock options (incentive stock options) when exercised produce no income for regular tax purposes. However, the bargain element (difference between grant price and exercise price) is income for AMT purposes in the year the option is exercised.
      •  Depletion allowance in excess of a taxpayer’s basis in the property is not allowed for AMT purposes. 

A certain amount of income is exempt from the AMT, but the AMT exemptions are phased out for higher-income taxpayers. 

Filing StatusExemption AmountIncome Where Exemption Is
Totally Phased Out
Married Filing Jointly$118,100$1,552,200
Married Filing Separate$59,050$776,100
AMT Taxable IncomeTax Rate
0 – $206,100 (1)26%
Over $206,100 (1)28%

 (1) $103,050 for married taxpayers filing separately

Your tax will be whichever is the higher of the tax computed the regular way and by the Alternative Minimum Tax. Anticipating when the AMT will affect you is difficult, because it is usually the result of a combination of circumstances. In addition to those items listed above, watch out for transactions involving limited partnerships, depreciation, and business tax credits only allowed against the regular tax. All of these can strongly impact your bottom-line tax and raise a question of possible AMT.

Tax Tip: If you were subject to the AMT in the prior year, you itemized your deductions on your federal return for the prior year, and had a state tax refund for that year, part or all of your state income tax refund from that year may not be taxable in the regular tax computation. To the extent that you received no tax benefit from the state tax deduction because of the AMT, that portion of the refund is not included in the subsequent year’s income.

  • Tax Credits—Once your tax is computed, tax credits can reduce the tax further. Credits reduce your tax dollar for dollar and are divided into two categories: those that are nonrefundable and can only offset the tax, and those that are refundable. In addition, some credits are not deductible against the AMT, and some credits, when not fully used in a specific tax year, can carry over to succeeding years. Although most credits are a result of some action taken by the taxpayer, there are some commonly encountered credits that are based simply on the number or type of your dependents or your income. These are outlined below.
    • Child Tax Credit— The child tax credit for 2022 is $2,000 per child. If the credit is not entirely used to offset tax, the excess portion of the credit, up to the amount that the taxpayer’s earned income exceeds a threshold ($2,500 for 2022), but not more than $1,500, is refundable. The credit begins to phase out at incomes (MAGI) of $400,000 for married joint filers and $200,000 for other filing status. The credit is reduced by $50 for each $1,000 (or fraction of $1,000) of modified AGI over the threshold.
    • Dependent Credit –A nonrefundable credit s available to taxpayers with a dependent who isn’t a qualifying child. The dependent credit is $500. A qualifying child, the taxpayer, and if married, the spouse are not eligible for this credit. A child who isn’t a qualifying child but who qualifies as a dependent under the dependent relative rules would qualify the taxpayer to claim this credit.
    • Earned Income Credit—This is a refundable credit for a lower-income taxpayer with income from working either as an employee or a self-employed individual. The credit is based on earned income, the taxpayer’s AGI, and the number of qualifying children. A taxpayer who has investment income such as interest and dividends in excess of $10,300 (for 2022) is ineligible for this credit. The credit was established as an incentive for individuals to obtain employment. It increases with the amount of earned income until the maximum credit is achieved and then begins to phase out at higher incomes. The table below illustrates the phase-out ranges for the various combinations of filing status and earned income and the maximum credit available.
Number of
Joint ReturnOthersMaximum
None$15,290 – $22,610$9,160 – $16,480$560
1$26,260 – $49,622$20,130 – $43,492$3,733

$26,260 – $55,529
$26,260 – $59,187 
$20,130 – $49,399   $20,130 – $53,057$6,164   $6,935
  • Withholding and Estimated Taxes—Our “pay-as-you-earn” tax system requires that you make payments of your tax liability evenly throughout the year. If you don’t, it’s possible that you could owe an underpayment penalty. Some taxpayers meet the “pay-as-you-earn” requirements by making quarterly estimated payments. However, when your income is primarily from wages, you usually meet the requirements through wage withholding and rely on your employer’s payroll department to take out the right amount of tax, based on the Form W-4 that you filed with your employer. To avoid potential underpayment penalties, you are required to deposit by payroll withholding or estimated tax payments an amount equal to the lesser of:
  • 90% of the current year’s tax liability; or
  • 100% of the prior year’s tax liability or, if your AGI exceeds $150,000 ($75,000 for taxpayers filing as married separate), 110% of the prior year’s tax liability.

If you had a significant change in income during the year, we can assist you in projecting your tax liability to maximize the tax benefit and delay paying as much tax as possible before the filing due date.

Please call if this office can be of assistance with your tax planning needs.

You May Be Able to Donate Your Unused Employee Vacation, Sick, or Personal Leave to Ukrainian Relief

Article Highlights:

  • Forgoing Vacation, Sick, or Personal Leave in Exchange for Ukrainian Relief
  • Program Duration
  • Employee and Employer Tax Implications
  • IRS Notice 2022-28

There is a little-known disaster provision of the tax code that, where if an employer has adopted a leave-based donation program, the employees can forgo paid vacation, sick, or personal leave in exchange for their employer making equivalent cash payments to qualified charitable organizations. This does not necessarily mean the employee also forfeits the time off; it will not be paid time off to the extent it is converted to leave-based donation payments.

Employer leave-based donation payments made by an employer before January 1, 2023, to a qualified U.S. charitable organization to aid victims of the further Russian invasion of Ukraine will not be treated as gross income or wages (or compensation, as applicable) of the employees of the employer. Thus, the employee will not be taxed on the vacation, sick, or personal leave pay given up, but since it is not taxable the employee cannot also deduct it as a charitable contribution.

Employers can deduct the contribution and avoid the employer share of payroll taxes that would otherwise be due on paid employee vacation, sick, or personal leave. From the employee’s viewpoint, they also avoid their share of payroll taxes as well as the income taxes they would have had to pay on the forgone income.

This opens a tremendous opportunity for employees to be able to donate to Ukrainian relief efforts. Employees wishing to participate need to check with their employer to see if the employer is participating in this voluntary program. Employers wishing to participate can refer to IRS Notice 2022-28 or call this office for additional information. 

Tax Tips for Recently Married Taxpayers 

Article Highlights

  • Social Security Administration
  • Contractors 
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • U.S. Postal Service
  • Withholding & Estimated Tax Payments
  • Health Insurance Marketplace

This is the time of year for many couples to tie the knot.  When you marry, here are some post-marriage tips to help you avoid stress at tax time.

  1. Notify the Social Security Administration − Report any name change to the Social Security Administration so that your name and SSN will match when filing your next tax return.  Informing the SSA of a name change is quite simple.  File a Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card at your local SSA office.  The form is available on SSA’s Web site, by calling 800-772-1213, or at local offices.  Your income tax refund may be delayed if it is discovered your name and SSN don’t match at the time your return is filed. 
  2. Notify Those Paying You as a Contractor – If you are a self-employed sole proprietor filing your business income and expenses on a Schedule C, and you have a different name now that you are married, notify anyone who has been issuing you a Form 1099-NEC under your Social Security number about the name change. This will prevent a mismatch with the IRS.
  3. Notify the IRS – If you have a new address, you should notify the IRS by sending in a completed Form 8822, Change of Address.  If your state has an income tax, also notify the appropriate tax agency.
  4. Notify the U.S. Postal Service – You should also notify the U.S. Postal Service when you move so that any IRS or state tax agency correspondence can be forwarded.
  5. Review Your Withholding and Estimated Tax Payments – If both you and your new spouse work, your combined income may place you in a higher tax bracket, and you may have an unpleasant surprise when we prepare your joint return for the first time.  On the other hand, if only one of you works, filing jointly with your new spouse can provide a significant tax benefit, enabling you to reduce your withholding or estimated payments. In either case, it may be appropriate to review your withholding (W-4 status) and estimated tax payments, if any, for the year to make sure that you are not going to be under-withheld and that you don’t set yourself up to receive bad news for the next filing season. Even if no adjustment is needed with your tax withholding, you will still need to advise your employer of your new marital status and name change, if applicable.
  6. Notify the Marketplace – If you or your spouse have health insurance through a government Marketplace (Exchange), you must notify the Marketplace of your change in marital status. If you were included on a parent’s health insurance policy through a Marketplace, then the parent must notify the Marketplace.  Failure to notify the Marketplace can create tax filing problems.

If you have any questions about the impact of your new marital status on your taxes, please give this office a call.

Small Businesses Can Benefit from the Work Opportunity Tax Credit

Article Highlights:

  • What is the Work Opportunity Tax Credit?
  • Maximum Credit
  • Who Can Claim the Credit?
  • Qualified Employees
  • Pre-screening and Certification
  • Tax-exempt Employers

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a general business credit that is jointly administered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor (DOL). The WOTC is available for wages paid to certain individuals who begin work on or before December 31, 2025.

The WOTC may be claimed by any employer that hires and pays or incurs wages to certain individuals who are certified by a designated local agency (sometimes referred to as a state workforce agency) as being a member of one of 10 targeted groups.

In general, the WOTC is equal to 40% of up to $6,000 of wages paid to, or incurred on behalf of, an individual who:

  • Is in their first year of employment with the business;
  • Is certified as being a member of a targeted group; and
  • Performs at least 400 hours of services for that employer.

However, an employer cannot claim the WOTC for employees who are rehired.

Maximum Credit – Thus, the maximum tax credit is generally $2,400. A 25% rate applies to wages for individuals who perform fewer than 400 but at least 120 hours of service for the employer. Up to $24,000 in wages may be considered in determining the WOTC for certain qualified veterans.

Who Can Claim the Credit – Employers of all sizes are eligible to claim the WOTC. This includes both taxable and certain tax-exempt employers located in the United States and in certain U.S. territories.  Taxable employers claim the WOTC against income taxes, and in general, may carry the current year’s unused WOTC back one year and then forward 20 years.  The procedure is different for eligible tax-exempt employers; they can claim the WOTC only against payroll taxes and only for wages paid to members of the Qualified Veteran targeted group.

Qualified Employees – An employer may claim the WOTC for an individual who is certified as a member of any of the following targeted groups:

  • Qualified IV-A RecipientAn individual who is a member of a family receiving assistance under a state plan approved under part A of title IV of the Social Security Act relating to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The assistance must be received for any 9-month period during the 18-month period ending on the hiring date.
  • Qualified Veteran – A “qualified veteran” is a veteran who is any of the following:
  • A member of a family receiving assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (food stamps) for at least 3 months during the first 15 months of employment.
  • Unemployed for a period totaling at least 4 weeks (whether or not consecutive) but less than 6 months in the 1-year period ending on the hiring date.
  • Unemployed for a period totaling at least 6 months (whether or not consecutive) in the 1-year period ending on the hiring date.
  • A disabled veteran entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability hired not more than one year after being discharged or released from active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • A disabled veteran entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability who is unemployed for a period totaling at least six months (whether or not consecutive) in the one-year period ending on the hiring date.
  • See IRS Notice 2012-13 for addition details.
  • Ex-Felon – A “qualified ex-felon” is a person hired within a year of:
  • Being convicted of a felony or
  • Being released from prison from the felony
  • Designated Community Resident (DCR) – Who isat least 18 years old and under 40, who resides within one of the following:
  • An Empowerment Zone
  • An Enterprise community
  • A Renewal community

and continues to reside at the locations after employment.

  • Vocational Rehabilitation Referral – A “vocational rehabilitation referral” is a person who has a physical or mental disability and has been referred to the employer while receiving or upon completion of rehabilitative services pursuant to:
  • A state plan approved under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 OR
  • An Employment Network Plan under the Ticket to Work program, OR
  • A program carried out under the Department of Veteran Affairs.
  • Summer Youth Employee – A “qualified summer youth employee” is one who:
  • Is at least 16 years old, but under 18 on the date of hire or on May 1, whichever is later, and
  • Is only employed between May 1 and September 15 (was not employed prior to May 1) and
  • Resides in an Empowerment Zone (EZ), enterprise community or renewal community.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Recipient – A “qualified SNAP benefits recipient” is an individual who on the date of hire is:
  • At least 18 years old and under 40, AND
  • A member of a family that received SNAP benefits for:
    • the previous 6 months OR
    • at least 3 of the previous 5 month
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) RecipientAn individual is a “qualified SSI recipient” if a month for which this person received SSI benefits is within 60 days of the date this person is hired.
  • Long-Term Family Assistance RecipientA “long term family recipient” is an individual who at the time of hiring is a member of a family that meet one of the following conditions:
  • Received assistance under an IV-A program for a minimum of the prior 18 consecutive months; OR
  • Received assistance for 18 months beginning after 8/5/1997 and it has not been more than 2 years since the end of the earliest of such 18-month period; OR
  • Ceased to be eligible for such assistance because a Federal or State law limited the maximum time those payments could be made, and it has been not more than 2 years since the cessation.
  • Qualified Long-Term Unemployment Recipient – A qualified long-term unemployment recipient is one who has been unemployed for not less than 27 consecutive weeks at the time of hiring and received unemployment compensation during some or all or the unemployment period. 

Pre-screening and Certification – An employer must obtain certification that an individual is a member of the targeted group, before the employer may claim the credit. An eligible employer must file Form 8850, Pre-Screening Notice and Certification Request for the Work Opportunity Credit, with their respective state workforce agency within 28 days after the eligible worker begins work. Employers should contact their individual state workforce agency with any specific processing questions for Forms 8850.

Tax-exempt Employers – Qualified tax-exempt organizations described in IRC Section 501(c) and exempt from taxation under IRC Section 501(a), may claim the credit for qualified veterans who began work for the organization after 2020 and before 2026. Tax-exempt employers claim the credit against the employer Social Security tax by separately filing Form 5884-C, Work Opportunity Credit for Qualified Tax-Exempt Organizations Hiring Qualified Veterans.

Form 5884-C is filed after the organization files the related employment tax return for the period for which it is claiming the credit. The IRS recommends that qualified tax-exempt employers do not reduce their required deposits in anticipation of any credit. The credit will not affect the employer’s Social Security tax liability reported on the organization’s employment tax return.

Please contact this office for additional information and assistance to determine if the WOTC is appropriate for your business. 

Not Even Celebrities Are Immune to Issues with Their Taxes

There’s an old saying in life that reminds us “the only things that are certain are death and taxes.” It seems that, occasionally, some celebrities seem to forget that second part.

It’s true. Just because you’ve got the number one movie at the box office, or just because you’ve sold millions of albums over the course of your career, doesn’t mean that Uncle Sam isn’t paying attention. In fact, the IRS seems to be particularly interested in high net worth individuals like this because they A) have significant public profiles, and B) tend to bring in huge sums of money every year. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that they’re watching those returns closely.

All told, there are a number of notable instances where celebrities ran into issues with their taxes – all of which we can learn a little from.

Celebrities and Taxes: A Match Made in Heaven

One notable instance of a celebrity running into problems with the IRS takes the form of the late legendary comedian George Carlin.

During the 80s, Carlin’s career was at a crossroads. He was in the process of transitioning from one type of comedy to the next and was struggling. It was also around this time that he stopped filing taxes – according to a recent HBO documentary on the subject, he failed to do so for three years in a row. It wasn’t long before the IRS came knocking at the door, demanding what they were owed. In the documentary, it is revealed that they even threatened to take his house away multiple times. Luckily, he was able to rectify the situation but it was certainly still scary for the funnyman.

Speaking of the 1980s, those of us who are old enough will remember that it was a period of time during which fitness guru Richard Simmons seemed to be… well, everywhere. He was on TV. He was in magazines. He couldn’t have been more popular.

Flash forward to the 2000s and it was reported that he owed about $24,000 in back taxes between 2007 and 2015. It got so bad that the IRS even placed a tax lien on not only his businesses, but also his properties as well.

Next up we have O.J. Simpson, the athlete who is famous for his incredible football career (… and that other thing, but let’s not get into that right now). At one point, it was revealed that Simpson hadn’t actually paid any taxes since 2007 – and the amount that he owed totaled nearly $180,000. There’s no actual word on whether the money was paid, but given the plethora of other legal issues that Simpson was/is facing, it’s safe to say that this one may not be high on his list of priorities.

Film actor Wesley Snipes – he of “Blade” and “Money Train” fame – also famously had a run-in with the IRS several years ago. This is kind of a weird one – Snipes claimed at the time that, because of an organization he belonged to, he didn’t actually have to pay taxes at all. It seems that he thought he’d discovered some kind of loophole in the system that he was ready and willing to take advantage of.

Of course, he was wrong. According to multiple reports, it seems that Wesley Snipes never actually filed any tax returns on the money that he made between 1999 and 2006. That may seem brazen, and especially so when you consider that he made about $38 million during that period of time. He ended up spending three years in jail for not paying the $7 million in taxes that he owed and was eventually released in 2013.

In the 1990s, country singer Willie Nelson also had tax problems. At one point, he owed about $32 million and the IRS seized much of his property in order to pay for it. Allegedly, the issue stemmed from shady accounting practices on behalf of someone he hired. His accountant tried to put his money in various tax shelters that turned out to be fraudulent. Let that be a lesson to all of us: always be careful who you hire and make sure they can do what they say they can.

Last but not least we arrive at who is perhaps the most famous tax cheat of all time: Al Capone. During prohibition, Al Capone ran the mob in Chicago with an iron fist. He was making endless amounts of money through some truly nefarious tactics. In addition to wielding power, he’d made a legitimate fortune – all of which he failed to report to the IRS.

Naturally, you’d think the government would want to go after him on the whole “being a notorious gangster” thing, but that proved to be harder than it sounded. So what did they do? They went after him for the $215,000 in back taxes that he owed.

This approach proved to be so successful that they were able to put him away for 11 years, breaking his rule of the city forever.

In the end, let this be a lesson to all of us: it’s not just common folks who run into trouble with the IRS every now and again, even though it may often seem like that. So the next time you get audited, or get a bill in the mail saying that you ultimately owe more than you thought you did, just remember: some of the biggest names in entertainment have been in the exact same situation that you are. It might not provide total comfort with what is going on, but it should surely help.

If you’d like to find out more about how to avoid issues with your taxes so that you don’t wind up like the aforementioned celebrities, or if you just have any additional questions you’d like to discuss with an expert in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact this office today.

The Right Accounting Method for Your Business

Every small business — whether a respected local mom-and-pop retailer, a startup tech company, or an online venture — has accounting and bookkeeping responsibilities, including selecting the accounting method that works best for them.  If you’re new to small business ownership, you might not even realize that there are multiple ways to keep tabs on your company’s finances.

Don’t worry, though, that’s where this guide comes in. As you keep reading, you’ll learn more about two common business accounting methods, and get helpful advice for choosing the right one for your business.

What are the most popular business accounting methods?

The two most popular business accounting methods are the cash method and the accrual method. As with anything, there are pros and cons to both tactics. Let’s take a look at what distinguishes each of them, and how to determine which is the best fit for your company’s needs.

First, you need to understand that each of the accounting methods is a way to track your incoming and outgoing money.

Fundamentally, the biggest difference between these two accounting techniques is whether you track revenues and expenses when they are actually in (or out) of hand or when they are billed. While there are many factors you’ll need to consider before choosing a method for your small business, evaluating the following will help you:

  • The size of your business
  • Your business’s future growth projections
  • Whether you are a sole proprietor or a corporation/publicly traded company
  • Whether you have (or plan to have) investors involved in your business

While most sole proprietors and small businesses have the freedom to choose the accounting method that they feel most comfortable with, companies that have investors will likely need to use the method that their investors want them to based on a vote.

It’s also worth noting that publicly traded companies earning more than $25 million in gross revenue per year are required to use the accrual accounting method.

With that understanding, let’s take a closer look at the two methods.

  • Cash Method

The cash method records revenue on the date that payment for goods or services is received, and expenses on the date that an invoice for goods or services is paid. This is the easiest way to keep track of cash flow. Business owners using this method are able to skip steps such as journal entries and are also able to wait to pay taxes on revenue until payment is actually received. This method is ideal for freelancers and contractors, especially if clients are slow to pay. It also works well for new business owners, who are just learning the ins and outs of bookkeeping.

  • Accrual Method

The accrual method records revenue at the time that a service or product is sold rather than when it is paid. This accounting option subsequently expenses on the day that a transaction is billed rather than on the day that it is paid, providing business owners with a high-level sense of their balance sheet. It also affords business finance specialists with the ability to be proactive in how they pay their bills to maximize cash flow. Though this method is more complicated, it is preferred by most accounting professionals because it provides a true sense of a business’s financial health.

Businesses that use the accrual method of accounting have the disadvantage of having to pay taxes on sales that may not have been paid, so it is essential that business owners or their accountants know the status of all incoming cash and accounts receivables. Even with this downside, accrual accoutning is typically the right method for growing businesses that are looking to expand, hire additional employees, or who are seeking financing or investors.

  • Hybrid accounting

Hybrid accounting represents a combination of the two methods listed above. It is most appropriately used by businesses that stock inventory, as it allows them to track the cash coming in and going out of the business for products or services on a cash basis – but to track inventory using the accrual method.  Though this combination offers significant advantages, it is a complicated approach that requires assistance from an experienced bookkeeper, either in-house or from a reputable third-party financial institution.

No matter which small business bookkeeping method you eventually choose, it important that you take a thoughtful approach to making your selection.  Whichever technqiue you choose will be the one that you are required to stick with for at least one year. You are not permitted to switch midstream, though you can adjust in a new tax year.

If you need assistance in choosing the right accounting method for your business, or would like to learn more about our comprehensive bookkeeping services, contact us today to set up a convenient time to discuss your needs.

Keeping Up With Receivables: Know Who Owes You

QuickBooks Online provides numerous ways for you to know which customers owe you money – and who is late.

There are so many financial details to keep track of when you’re running a small business. You have to make sure your products and services are in good shape and ready to sell. You have to stay current with your bills. Orders need to be processed as quickly as possible, as do estimates and invoices. And you may have numerous questions from customers and vendors that must be addressed.

Your number one priority, however, is ensuring that your customers are paying you. Whether you accept credit cards or bank transfers or issue sales receipts for cash and checks, you need to always know where you stand with incoming payments. “Are my receivables current?” should be a question you’re asking yourself or your staff frequently.

QuickBooks Online offers numerous ways to know whether you’re being paid for your products and/or services and who might be falling behind. That information is critical to your understanding of how your receivables are stacking up against your payables. You should be able to gauge whether you’re making a profit, staying even, or losing money. Here’s a look at the tools you can use.

Learning When You Launch

QuickBooks Online provides a good overview of your current cash flow as soon as you log into the site and see your two-pronged Dashboard. The first thing you see when you click the Business overview tab is a cash flow forecast that goes up to 24 months. Other content includes a profit and loss graph and charts showing expenses, income (including open and overdue invoice totals), and sales. Your account balances are there, too.

This is helpful data, but it’s broad. To get far more detailed information, hover your mouse over Sales in the toolbar and select All Sales. The horizontal bar across the top displays dollar and transaction totals for estimates, unbilled activity, overdue (invoices), open invoices, and (invoices) paid last 30 days. When you click one of the bars, the list changes to show only that particular set of transactions.

Graphical user interface

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Partial view of the toolbar at the top of the Sales Transactions page

The table of transactions is interactive. That is, there’s an Action column at the end of each row. Click the down arrow next to any of the activity listed there, and you’ll see a menu of options. Depending on the status of each, these options include commands like Receive payment, Send reminder, Print packing slip, Send, and Void.

Running Reports

The Sales Transactions page provides more of your receivables nuts and bolts than the Business overview screen does. But to get the most in-depth, customizable, comprehensive view of who owes you, you’ll need to run reports. Click Reports in the toolbar and scroll down to Who owes you.

There are three columns here. You’ll land on Standard, which is a complete list of all of the pre-formatted reports that QuickBooks Online offers. Click Custom reports to see the reports you’ve customized and saved. Management reports opens a list of three reports that can be viewed by a variety of date ranges: Company Overview, Sales Performance, and Expenses Performance. You can view, edit, and send these, as well as export them as PDF and Microsoft Word files.

There are five reports listed under Who owes you that you should be creating on a regular basis. How regularly? That depends on the size of your business. The greater your sales volume, the more frequently you should run them.

When you select A/R Aging Summary, you’ll see at a glance which customers have current balances and those that are 1-30, 31-60, 61-90, and 91+ days past due. A few customization options appear at the top, like Report period, Aging method, and Days per aging period. To really zero in on the precise data set you want, click Customize. The panel that slides out from the right contains option in several areas: General, Rows/Columns, Aging, Filter (by customer), and Header/Footer.

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QuickBooks Online helps you target the data set that you want.

There are four other reports that can help you track your receivables:

  • Open Invoices displays a list of invoices that still contain a balance.
  • Unbilled Time tells you about any billable time that hasn’t been invoiced.
  • Unbilled Charges lists billable charges that haven’t been invoice.
  • Customer Balance Summary simply provides all open balances for you customers.

These are all very simple reports that you shouldn’t have any trouble customizing and running. They can give you a complete picture of where your receivables stand. But there are other reports that will require our help. These are standard financial reports that should be created monthly or quarterly, including Statement of Cash Flows, Profit and Loss, and Balance Sheet. You’ll need these critical financial statements if, for example, you’re applying for a loan or trying to attract investors. Please let us know if you want us to run and analyze these so you can get a detailed, comprehensive view of your financial health.

Does your business have cash flow issues? We can walk you through the QuickBooks Online tools that help identify them.

July 2022 Individual Due Dates

July 1 – Time for a Mid-Year Tax Check-Up

Time to review your 2022 year-to-date income and expenses to ensure estimated tax payments and withholding are adequate to avoid underpayment penalties.

July 11 – Report Tips to Employer

If you are an employee who works for tips and received more than $20 in tips during June, you are required to report them to your employer on IRS Form 4070 no later than July 11. Your employer is required to withhold FICA taxes and income tax withholding for these tips from your regular wages. If your regular wages are insufficient to cover the FICA and tax withholding, the employer will report the amount of the uncollected withholding in box 12 of your W-2 for the year. You will be required to pay the uncollected withholding when your return for the year is filed.

July 2022 Business Due Dates

July 1 – Self-Employed Individuals with Pension Plans

If you have a pension or profit-sharing plan, you may need to file a Form 5500 or 5500-EZ for calendar year 2021. Even though the forms do not need to be filed until August 1, you should contact this office now to see if you have a filing requirement, and if you do, allow time to prepare the return

July 15 – Non-Payroll Withholding

If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in June. 

July 15 – Social Security, Medicare and Withheld Income Tax

If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in June.