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Interesting Articles & Update on Tax Reform

Following are links to some interesting articles that I thought I would share with you compliments of Kiplinger.

7 Year-End Strategies to Help You Save on Taxes – https://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/taxes/T055-S014-7-year-end-strategies-to-help-you-save-on-taxes/index.html?rid=EML-wealth&rmrecid=3144870188

Iconic Estate Flops: What Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Prince Did Wrong – https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T021-C032-S014-estate-flops-michael-jackson-prince-whitney-housto.html?rid=EML-wealth&rmrecid=3144870188

Defuse the Tax Bomb That Threatens Retirement – https://www.kiplinger.com/article/taxes/T047-C032-S014-defuse-the-tax-bomb-that-threatens-retirement.html?rid=EML-wealth&rmrecid=3144870188

 

Update on Tax Reform: A joint agreement is said to have been reached on the tax reform bill that was passed by the House and Senate earlier today.

Some of the highlights are:

Corporate Rate

Joint Agreement: Cut the corporate rate to 21 percent from 35 percent beginning in 2018.

House: Cut to 20 percent in 2018.

Senate: Cut to 20 percent in 2019.

 

Top Individual Rate

Joint Agreement: Cut the top rate to 37 percent for the highest earners, down from 39.6 percent.

House: Leave top rate at 39.6 percent.

Senate: Cut top rate to 38.5 percent.

 

Mortgage Interest Deduction

Joint Agreement: Cap it at loans of $750,000—down from $1 million—for new purchases of homes.

House: Cap it at loans of $500,000.

Senate: No change.

 

Individual State and Local Tax Deductions

Joint Agreement: Limit combined deductions for state and local income taxes and property taxes to $10,000.

House: Repeal deduction except for property taxes, capped at $10,000.

Senate: Repeal deduction except for property taxes, capped at $10,000.

Source: https://www.taxprotoday.com/articles/tax-debate-update-gop-eyes-tax-cut-for-top-end-21-corporate-tax-rate

 

Tax Bill Comparison: We have a comparison of the House & Senate bills at http://integrityintaxllc.com/newsletter/house-and-senate-tax-bill-comparison/

 

As always, Thank – You for reading my blog. I’ve received a lot of feedback from last week’s post “Pictures with Santa for You’re 4-Legged Family Member”.

 

Pictures with Santa for your 4-legged Family Member!

Is your four-legged family member looking to get their picture taken with Santa? Here are some upcoming Santa visits in our community:

Dec. 9 Pet Pictures with Santa ~ Benefits Saving Paws Animal Rescue
Location: Petco on E. Calumet Street, Appleton
Time: 1pm – 4pm

Dec. 10 Santa Paws
Location: DePawsitory at 103 E. College Avenue, Appleton
Time: 2pm – 6pm

Dec. 10 Pet Photo’s with Santa at Younker’s Wing
Location: Bay Park Square Mall, Green Bay
Time: 6pm – 7pm

Dec. 11 Pet Photo’s with Santa at Macy’s
Location: Fox River Mall Macy’s Wing, Appleton
Time: 5pm – 8pm

Dec. 16 Donation Drive and Pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus ~ Donations for Oshkosh Area Humane Society
Location: Ideal DOG LLC at 528 N. Main Street, Oshkosh
Time: 1pm – 4pm

Thank you for reading my blog! Happy Holiday Season!

Tax Planning with Tax Reform on the Horizon

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has been swiftly progressing through legislature to become law, which will impact all of our tax returns. The proposed effective date of this Act is January 1, 2018. Therefore, 2017 tax laws and preparation should remain much the same for your 2017 tax return. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will eliminate many of the deductions we’ve been enjoying over the past 30+ years, which makes the remainder of 2017 all that much more important for tax planning. Yes, there are some tax planning strategies you can make, before December 31, 2017, to help maximize your 2017 credits and deductions to increase your tax refund (or decrease tax liability).

A few of the Tax Planning Strategies you many want to consider are:

  1. Pre-Pay Property Taxes that are not due until 2018 before December 31, 2017.
  2. Pre-Pay Mortgage Payments that are not due until 2018 before December 31, 2017.
  3. Give Gifts to Charity before December 31, 2017. To check for qualified charities eligible for the tax deduction, see this link https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/exempt-organizations-select-check.
  4. Pay Medical Bills that you have outstanding.
  5. Consider Contributing to Traditional IRA. You have until April 15, 2018 to fund the contribution & still be eligible for a tax deduction on your 2017 tax return.
  6. Pay off Student Loans if possible.

Each one of us has a different tax situation. Therefore, to best effectively utilize the credits and deductions available to you on your 2017 tax return, please schedule an appointment with me to review your tax situation. Appointments must be scheduled and reserved with $85 payment.   You can call or email me at 920-277-2991 or tinak@integrityintaxllc.com.

Thank you for reading my blog!

 

 

It’s Here! National Tax Security Awareness Week

Monday’s Tip: Eight Steps to Keep Online Data Safe

During the holiday shopping season, shoppers are looking for the perfect gifts. At the same time, criminals are looking for sensitive data. This data includes credit card numbers, financial accounts and Social Security numbers. Cybercriminals can use this information to file a fraudulent tax return.

This tip is part of National Tax Security Awareness Week. The IRS is partnering with state tax agencies, the tax industry and groups across the country to remind people about the importance of data protection.

Anyone with an online presence can do a few simple things to protect their identity and personal information. Following these eight steps can also help taxpayers protect their tax return and refund in 2018:

  • Shop at familiar online retailers. Generally, sites with an “s” in “https” at the start of the URL are secure. Users can also look for the “lock” icon in your browser’s URL bar. That said, some criminals may get a security certificate, so the “s” may not always mean a site is legitimate.
  • Avoid unprotected Wi-Fi. Users should not do online financial transactions when using unprotected public Wi-Fi. Unprotected public Wi-Fi hotspots may allow thieves to view transactions.
  • Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails that pose as a trusted source. These emails can come from a source that looks like a legitimate bank or even the IRS. These emails may include a link that takes the user to a fake website. From there, the thieves can steal usernames and passwords.
  • Keep a clean machine. This includes computers, phones and tablets. Users should install security software to protect against malware that may steal data. This software also protects against viruses that may damage files.
  • Use passwords that are strong, long and unique. Experts suggest a minimum of 10 characters. Use a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. Use a different password for each account.
  • Use multi-factor authentication when available. Some financial institutions, email providers and social media sites allow users to set their accounts for multi-factor authentication. This means users may need a security code, usually sent as a text to their mobile phone, in addition to a username and password.
  • Sign up for account alerts. Some financial institutions will send email or text alerts to an account holder when there is a withdrawal or change to their accounts. Generally, people can check their account profile to see what added protections may be available.
  • Encrypt sensitive data and protect it with a password. People who keep financial records, tax returns or any personal information on their computer should protect this data. Users should also back up important data to an external source. When disposing of a computer, mobile phone or tablet, people should make sure they wipe the hard drive of all information before trashing.

Thank you for reading our post.  We will have tips every day this week for National Tax Security Awareness week.  Questions can be emailed to info@integrityintaxllc.com.

 

 

 

 

Community Events in Appleton this week. Enjoy!

As we celebrate Thanksgiving and the official start to the Christmas Holiday Season, we have listed some upcoming events this week.

Today: Appleton Christmas Parade! The largest nighttime parade in the Midwest with approximately 80,000 people attending! The Parade will begin at 6:55 p.m. at the corner of State St. and College Ave. It will head east on College Ave. to Drew St. To see the route of the parade, click  Parade Route.

 

Before the Parade – Santa Scamper Run! Race Start: 6:40 p.m. at corner of State Street & College Avenue. The 1-mile run starts about 1/2 hour prior to the 47th Annual Downtown Appleton Christmas Parade and proceeds down College to Drew St., finishing at City Park. No roller blades. No pets please. For more information click here Santa Scamper.

 

Thursday: Turkey Trot & Happy Thanksgiving! This year’s Appleton Turkey Trot starts at 8am with a 5-mile run, 2-mile walk, and dog jog.  The trot starts at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel downtown Appleton.  After, the turkey trot, we wish everybody a fun-filled day with family and friends!  If you are one of the estimated 51 million traveling for the Holiday ~ Very Safe Travels!

 

 

Saturday: Small Business Saturday ® ~ A day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for the community. Please support our local small businesses!  Last year an estimated 112 million people shopped locally with small businesses generating $15.4 billion!  For more information click here Small Business Saturday.

 

 

Week of Nov. 27 – National Tax Security Awareness Week:  The IRS is partnering with state tax agencies, the tax industry and groups across the country to host the second annual National Tax Security Awareness Week. The goal is to encourage all taxpayers to take steps to protect their tax data and identities.

With the number of data breaches at record levels, these are issues that pose a threat to individuals and businesses.  This event is part of the ongoing collaborative effort to combat tax-related identity theft.  Throughout the week, we will offer simple steps you can take to protect yourself from cybercriminals on our Facebook page and this blog.

Thank you for reading our blog!  Have a Very Happy Thanksgiving Holiday!!

EMPLOYERS ~ Federal & WI January 31, 2018 Filing Due Date!

Federal:

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act includes a requirement for employers to file their copies of Forms W-2 and W-3 with the Social Security Administration by Jan. 31, 2018. This deadline also applies to Form 1099-misc which is filed with IRS to report non-employee compensation to independent contractors. Such payments are reported in box 7 of this form.

This deadline makes it easier for the IRS to verify income that individuals report on their tax returns and helps prevent fraud. Failure to file these forms correctly and timely may result in penalties. As always, the IRS urges employers and other businesses to take advantage of the accuracy, speed and convenience of filing these forms electronically.

An extension of time to file Forms W-2 is no longer automatic. The IRS will only grant extensions for very specific reasons. Details can be found on the instructions for Form 8809.

Wisconsin:

The State of Wisconsin Department of Revenue has 2 new important changes that begin Jan. 1, 2018. First, no refund will be issued to a taxpayer before March 1, unless both the employer and employee have filed all required returns and forms. Failure of employers to file Forms W-2 & 1099-Misc could result in a delayed tax refund of the taxpayer.

Second, the Department of Revenue is requiring all employers filing 10 or more Forms W-2 & 1099-Misc to file electronically.

Compliance:

To ensure your W-2’s and 1099-Misc are filed by the Jan. 31, 2018 due date and issued to your employees and independent contractors, we can process and file your W-2’s and 1099-Misc on your behalf! Early registration is open until December 20, 2017. Call us at 920-277-2991 or email at tinak@integrityintaxllc.com to sign up for our year-end payroll service.

Plan Ahead for 2018 Filing Season to Avoid Refund Delays

The IRS advises taxpayers about steps they can take now to ensure smooth processing of their 2017 tax return and avoid a delay in getting their refund next year.  Additionally, the IRS has a special page on its website with steps to take now for the 2018 tax filing season.

Gather Documents:

The IRS urges all taxpayers to file a complete and accurate tax return by making sure they have all the documents before they file their return, including their 2016 tax return. This includes Forms W-2 from employers, Forms 1099 from banks and other payers, and Forms 1095-A from the Marketplace for those claiming the Premium Tax Credit. Doing so will help avoid refund delays and the need to file an amended return later. Confirm that each employer, bank or other payer has a current mailing address.

Typically, these forms start arriving by mail in January. Check them over carefully, and if any of the information shown is inaccurate, contact the payer right away for a correction.

Taxpayers should keep a copy of their 2016 tax return and all supporting documents for a minimum of three years. Doing so will make it easier to fill out a 2017 return next year. In addition, taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount from their 2016 return to properly e-file their 2017 return. Learn more about verifying identity and electronically signing a return at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.

Refunds Held for Those Claiming EITC or ACTC Until Mid-Feb:

By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds for people claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. The law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with EITC or ACTC. The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or debit cards starting on Feb. 27, 2018, if direct deposit was used and there are no other issues with the tax return. This additional period is due to several factors, including the Presidents Day holiday and banking and financial systems needing time to process deposits. This law change, which took effect at the beginning of 2017, helps ensure that taxpayers receive the refund they’re due by giving the IRS more time to detect and prevent fraud.

As always, the IRS cautions taxpayers not to rely on getting a refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying bills. Though the IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, some returns require further review.

For a Faster Refund, Choose e-file:

Electronically filing a tax return is the most accurate way to prepare and file. Errors delay refunds and the easiest way to avoid them is to e-file. Nearly 90 percent of all returns are electronically filed.

Use Direct Deposit:

Combining direct deposit with electronic filing is the fastest way for a taxpayer to get their refund. With direct deposit, a refund goes directly into a taxpayer’s bank account. There’s no reason to worry about a lost, stolen or undeliverable refund check. This is the same electronic transfer system now used to deposit nearly 98 percent of all Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits. Nearly four out of five federal tax refunds are direct deposited.

Wisconsin Filers:

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue may not issue tax refunds before March 1, unless both employer and employee have filed all required returns and forms (W-2, 1099-Misc, etc).

Also, Wisconsin Department of Revenue will again be sending letters to random taxpayers for ID verification.  If you receive a request, you should timely take the quiz or provide necessary documents to confirm identity.  Failure to take the quiz or provide ID verification, will result in the Department of Revenue will denying the tax refund.  Fraud prevention by the Department of Revenue is expected to increase due to the Equifax and other recent data breaches.  Therefore, more individuals may receive the ID verification.

To be eligible for the Homestead Credit for tax year 2017, those under age 62 and not disabled must have earned income to claim this credit.  Earned income includes wages, salaries, tips, other employee compensation, and net earnings from self-employment. For those without earned income, either the taxpayer or spouse must be 62 or older or taxpayer must be disabled. If you are disabled, proof of disability must be submitted with the tax return.  This can be in the form of statement from VA, SSA, or Physician.

Thank you for reading my blog!

 

 

 

Proposed Tax Reform of 2017 “Tax Cut & Jobs Act”

President Trump unveiled his party’s tax reform plan last week, “We are giving them a big, beautiful Christmas present in the form of a tremendous tax cut, which will be the biggest cut in the history of our country.” Whether it is the biggest tax cut in history, it is certainly a present for some and a lump of coal for others. At the top of the Good-Little-Children list is corporations with high effective tax rates. The proposal would slash the corporate income tax rate from 35 to 20 percent, costing $1.4 trillion over 10 years. GOP leaders are gambling that this rate cut will spur significant job growth.

How it effects families will depend a lot on where they live and how reliant they are on specific deductions. Personal tax brackets will go from seven to four: 12 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent, and 39.6 percent. Standard deductions double for most taxpayers, but they repeal the personal exemption. On the other hand, they increase the child credit to $1,600 per child and extend the credit to those earning $230,000. The proposal eliminates the Alternative Minimum Tax but repeals most exclusions and itemized deductions. The exceptions are mortgage interest (capped at $500,000 and no second mortgages), state and local property taxes (capped at $10,000), and charitable contributions.

So, what is repealed?

  • Tax preparation
  • State and local income and sales taxes
  • Medical
  • Alimony
  • Moving
  • Casualty losses
  • Medical savings accounts
  • Employee expenses
  • Employer provided housing
  • Employee achievement awards
  • Dependent care
  • Adoption assistance
  • Some education related provisions

Coming down strongly in the pro-complexity column, the proposal creates a special 25 percent rate for pass-through entities, but applies it to either 30 percent of business income or more under a facts-and-circumstance standard.

Looking down the large list of repealed deductions, exclusions and credits, it seems GOP leadership could have a difficult time rounding up the necessary votes. Joining the members of Congress from high income tax states on the No-Vote-Naughty-List are members of Congress from expensive new homes districts. Yet to be determined are members with business interests such as timber, insurance, alternative energy and states using private activity bonds. And, the list goes on. If the Republican caucus stays disciplined, the President could be the one receiving a big, beautiful Christmas present. On the other hand, if this turns into a family Christmas dinner food fight, everyone supporting tax reform could go home empty-handed.

Source:  National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), e@lert, November 3, 2017 edition.

Keep in mind the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which is the largest tax overhaul in history, took over 2 years to pass into law. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 shifted a large part of the tax burden from individuals to corporations; it also exempted millions of low-income households from federal income taxes. President Ronald Reagan called it “a sweeping victory for fairness” where “vanishing loopholes and a minimum tax will mean that everybody and every corporation pay their fair share.”

Another great article if you are so intrigued to gather more information is 2017 Tax Reform: Proposed individual tax changes in the “Tax Cuts & Jobs Act” by Thomson Reuters and can be viewed at 2017 Tax Reform – Thomson Reuters.

Thank you for reading my blog!  If you haven’t already, check out my post from last week of pictures from doggies that sported their Halloween Costumes at our Dog Park Costume Contest.  It was a huge success with over 30 dogs participating.

Tina is an active member of NAEA & WSEA.

 

And the Winners Are…

Our Costume Contest at the dog park was a huge success with over 30 dogs sporting their Halloween attire! Judges were small business owners in the community (see below). Pictures were taken by Neil Geiger of Neil Geiger Studio. All participants received a Participant Certificate. Thank you to all who participated and enjoyed the event!  Pictures can be viewed at the Event page on FaceBook at Halloween Costume Contest.

The winners are:

Small Dogs:

1st Place – Raemi as Loofa

2nd Place – Krackers as Poop Factory

3rd Place – Chloe as Ice Cream Sundae

Large Dogs:

1st Place – Copper as Martini

2nd Place – Bailey & Harlow as Flounder & Sebastian (& Mermaid)

3rd Place – Eleanor & Snopper as Snow White & Dopey

 

Judges:

Angela Kunz, A DeeVine Consign, Consignment shop at 3319 W. College Ave, Appleton

Bobi Mews, Mary Kay Consultant, Appleton

Cecelia Bos, Bos’ Optimal solutions, Appleton

Cathy Miller, Century 21 Acre Realty, Appleton

Jeremy Van Groll, Beside the Point Bookkeeping & Consulting, Appleton

Dawn Paradiso-Hansen, Compassionate Home Health Care, Appleton

 

Integrity in Tax & Accounting, LLC is located at 5733 W. Grande Market Drive, Appleton, WI 54913.  We are committed to making our community great for our four-legged family members!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Tax Extensions Due: Tips for Procrastinators

Are you one of the many people that filed a tax extension way back in April? Well, that went fast, didn’t it? Yup, the time’s here. Following are some tips if you are one of these procrastinators.

  • Choose your tax preparer wisely. Read my blog from last week and be sure to safeguard your personal information.
  • Double check the spelling of your Name and Social Security Number are correct. IRS mismatch is a common reason for E-Filing rejection of tax returns. Your name should match the spelling of your first and last name that is on file with the Social Security Administration.
  • Review your tax return for all credits & deductions. Below are some commonly missed items that can increase your refund or decrease your tax amount due:
    • Earned Income Tax Credit, also known as EITC, can be available to families with earned income and primarily dependents. To see if you qualify, use the IRS EITC Assistant at this link – https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/individuals/earned-income-tax-credit/use-the-eitc-assistant.
    • Savors Credit, can be available to income earners who have contributed to a retirement IRA or 401(k). This credit is not available once your income is over certain amounts.
    • American Opportunity Tax Credit, also known as AOTC, is an education tax benefit for parents and students.
  • Know your Adjusted Gross Income, also known as AGI, from your 2015 tax return. This is line 37 on the 2015 Form 1040. This may be required when E-Filing your 2016 tax return.
  • File by Oct. 16 even if you owe taxes and can’t pay them right away. This will reduce penalties and interest that will accumulate on the unpaid amount you owe.
  • Keep a copy of your tax return for at least 3 years. Also, most likely when E-Filing next year, you will need the AGI amount from this year’s tax return.
  • FREE E-Filing, We provide FREE E-Filing of your tax return. This allows for fast, accurate, and secure filing to ensure your tax return is received and accepted by the IRS and State on or before Oct. 16.
  • Set up an Installment Agreement if you are not able to pay the full balance of your amount due. We provide fast, easy, and secure assistance in completing the application for installment agreements.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me for assistance in completing your tax return.

Thank you for reading my blog!

Tina