The Health Care Law’s Effect on You

Nearly everyone is affected by the Affordable Care Act and will need to do something new when filing their taxes this year. The following chart will help you better understand how the health care law affects you and everyone on your return. This chart is also available on IRS.gov/aca.

To help navigate these changes, taxpayers and their tax professionals should consider filing returns electronically.Using tax preparation software is the best and simplest way to file a complete and accurate tax return as it guides individuals and tax preparers through the process and does all the math. There are a variety of electronic filing options, including free volunteer assistance, IRS Free File for taxpayers who qualify, commercial software, and professional assistance.

IF YOU…
THEN YOU…
Are U.S. citizens or are non-U.S. citizens living in the United States
Must have qualifying health care coverage, qualify for a health coverage exemption, or make a payment when you file your tax return
Have health coverage through an employer or under a government program such as Medicare, Medicaid and coverage for veterans for the entire year
Just have to check a box on your Form 1040 series return and do not read any further
Do not have coverage for any month of the year
Should check the instructions to Form 8965 to see if you are eligible for an exemption
Are eligible for an exemption from coverage for a month
Are not responsible for making an Individual Shared Responsibility payment for that month, and must claim the exemption or report an exemption already obtained from the Marketplace by completing Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions,and submitting it with your tax return
Do not have coverage and are not eligible for an exemption from coverage for any month of the year
Are responsible for making an individual shared responsibility payment when you file your return
Are responsible for making an individual shared responsibility payment
Will report it on your tax return and make the payment with your taxes
Received the benefit of more advance payments of the premium tax credit than the amount of credit for which you qualify
Will repay the amount in excess of the credit you are allowed subject to a repayment cap
Need qualifying health care coverage for 2015
Can enroll in health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace (Marketplace) during the open enrollment period that runs through Feb. 15, 2015; once open enrollment ends, individuals can enroll only if they qualify under special enrollment provisions 

Enroll in health insurance through the Marketplace for yourself or someone else on your tax return
Might be eligible for the premium tax credit
Did not enroll in health insurance from the Marketplace for yourself or anyone else on your tax return
Cannot claim the premium tax credit
Or another person on your tax return who is enrolled in coverage through the Marketplace is not eligible for health care coverage through your employer or under a government program
Might be eligible for the premium tax credit
Are eligible for the premium tax credit
Can choose to get premium assistance now to lower your monthly payments or get all the benefit of the credit when you claim it  on your tax return
Choose to get premium assistance now
Will have payments sent on your behalf to your insurance provider. These payments are called advance payments of the premium tax credit
Get the benefit of advance payments of the premium tax credit and experience a significant life change, such as a change in income or marital status
Report these changes in circumstances to the Marketplace when they happen
Get the benefit of advance payments of the premium tax credit
Will report the payments on your tax return and reconcile the amount of the payments  with the amount of credit for which you are eligible

More Information

Find out more about the tax-related provisions of the health care law at IRS.gov/aca.

Find out more about the health care options at HealthCare.gov.

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Tax Changes for 2015: A Checklist

Welcome 2015! As the new year rolls around, it’s always a sure bet that there will be changes to current tax law and 2015 is no different. From health savings accounts to retirement contributions and standard deductions, here’s a checklist of tax changes to help you plan the year ahead.

Individuals
For 2015, more than 40 tax provisions are affected by inflation adjustments, including personal exemptions, AMT exemption amounts, and foreign earned income exclusion, as well as most retirement contribution limits.

For 2015, the tax rate structure, which ranges from 10 to 39.6 percent, remains the same as in 2014, but tax-bracket thresholds increase for each filing status. Standard deductions and the personal exemption have also been adjusted upward to reflect inflation. For details see the article, “Tax Brackets, Deductions, and Exemptions for 2015,” below.

Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
Exemption amounts for the AMT, which was made permanent by the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) are indexed for inflation and allow the use of nonrefundable personal credits against the AMT. For 2015, the exemption amounts are $53,600 for individuals ($52,800 in 2014) and $83,400 for married couples filing jointly ($82,100 in 2014).

“Kiddie Tax”
For taxable years beginning in 2015, the amount that can be used to reduce the net unearned income reported on the child’s return that is subject to the “kiddie tax,” is $1,050 (up from $1,000 in 2014). The same $1,050 amount is used to determine whether a parent may elect to include a child’s gross income in the parent’s gross income and to calculate the “kiddie tax”. For example, one of the requirements for the parental election is that a child’s gross income for 2015 must be more than $1,050 but less than $10,500.

For 2015, the net unearned income for a child under the age of 19 (or a full-time student under the age of 24) that is not subject to “kiddie tax” is $2,100.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
Contributions to a Health Savings Account (HSA) are used to pay current or future medical expenses of the account owner, his or her spouse, and any qualified dependent. Medical expenses must not be reimbursable by insurance or other sources and do not qualify for the medical expense deduction on a federal income tax return.

A qualified individual must be covered by a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) and not be covered by other health insurance with the exception of insurance for accidents, disability, dental care, vision care, or long-term care.

For calendar year 2015, a qualifying HDHP must have a deductible of at least $1,250 for self-only coverage or $2,500 for family coverage (unchanged from 2014) and must limit annual out-of-pocket expenses of the beneficiary to $6,350 for self-only coverage (up $100 from 2014) and $12,700 for family coverage (up $200 from 2014).

Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs)
There are two types of Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs): the Archer MSA created to help self-employed individuals and employees of certain small employers, and the Medicare Advantage MSA, which is also an Archer MSA, and is designated by Medicare to be used solely to pay the qualified medical expenses of the account holder. To be eligible for a Medicare Advantage MSA, you must be enrolled in Medicare. Both MSAs require that you are enrolled in a high deductible health plan (HDHP).

Self-only coverage. For taxable years beginning in 2015, the term “high deductible health plan” means, for self-only coverage, a health plan that has an annual deductible that is not less than $2,200 (same as 2014) and not more than $3,300 (up $50 from 2014), and under which the annual out-of-pocket expenses required to be paid (other than for premiums) for covered benefits do not exceed $4,450 (up $100 from 2014).
Family coverage. For taxable years beginning in 2015, the term “high deductible health plan” means, for family coverage, a health plan that has an annual deductible that is not less than $4,450 (up $100 from 2014) and not more than $6,650 (up $100 from 2014), and under which the annual out-of-pocket expenses required to be paid (other than for premiums) for covered benefits do not exceed $8,150 (up $150 from 2014).

AGI Limit for Deductible Medical Expenses
In 2015, the deduction threshold for deductible medical expenses remains at 10 percent (same as 2014) of adjusted gross income (AGI); however, if either you or your spouse were age 65 or older as of December 31, 2014, the new 10 percent of AGI threshold will not take effect until 2017. In other words, the 7.5 percent threshold that was in place in earlier tax years continues to apply for tax years 2015 and 2016 for these individuals. In addition, if you or your spouse turns age 65 in 2015 or 2016, the 7.5 percent of AGI threshold applies for that year (through 2016) as well. Starting in 2017, the 10 percent of AGI threshold applies to everyone.

Eligible Long-Term Care Premiums
Premiums for long-term care are treated the same as health care premiums and are deductible on your taxes subject to certain limitations. For individuals age 40 or younger at the end of 2015, the limitation is $380. Persons more than 40 but not more than 50 can deduct $710. Those more than 50 but not more than 60 can deduct $1,430, while individuals more than 60 but not more than 70 can deduct $3,800. The maximum deduction is $4,750 and applies to anyone more than 70 years of age.

Medicare Taxes
The additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax on wages above $200,000 for individuals ($250,000 married filing jointly), which went into effect in 2013, remains in effect for 2015, as does the Medicare tax of 3.8 percent on investment (unearned) income for single taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (AGI) more than $200,000 ($250,000 joint filers). Investment income includes dividends, interest, rents, royalties, gains from the disposition of property, and certain passive activity income. Estates, trusts and self-employed individuals are all liable for the new tax.

Foreign Earned Income Exclusion
For 2015, the foreign earned income exclusion amount is $100,800, up from $99,200 in 2014.

Long-Term Capital Gains and Dividends
In 2015 tax rates on capital gains and dividends remain the same as 2014 rates; however threshold amounts are indexed for inflation. As such, for taxpayers in the lower tax brackets (10 and 15 percent), the rate remains 0 percent. For taxpayers in the four middle tax brackets, 25, 28, 33, and 35 percent, the rate is 15 percent. For an individual taxpayer in the highest tax bracket, 39.6 percent, whose income is at or above $413,200 ($464,850 married filing jointly), the rate for both capital gains and dividends is capped at 20 percent.

Pease and PEP (Personal Exemption Phaseout)
Both Pease (limitations on itemized deductions) and PEP (personal exemption phase-out) have been permanently extended (and indexed to inflation) for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2012, and in 2015, affect taxpayers with income at or above $258,250 for single filers and $309,900 for married filing jointly.

Estate and Gift Taxes
For an estate of any decedent during calendar year 2015, the basic exclusion amount is $5,430,000, indexed for inflation (up from $5,340,000 in 2014). The maximum tax rate remains at 40 percent. The annual exclusion for gifts remains at $14,000.

Individuals – Tax Credits
Adoption Credit
In 2015, a non-refundable (only those individuals with tax liability will benefit) credit of up to $13,400 is available for qualified adoption expenses for each eligible child.

Earned Income Tax Credit
For tax year 2015, the maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low and moderate income workers and working families rises to $6,242, up from $6,143 in 2014. The credit varies by family size, filing status and other factors, with the maximum credit going to joint filers with three or more qualifying children.

Child Tax Credit
For tax year 2015, the child tax credit is $1,000 per child.

Child and Dependent Care Credit
If you pay someone to take care of your dependent (defined as being under the age of 13 at the end of the tax year or incapable of self-care) in order to work or look for work, you may qualify for a credit of up to $1,050 or 35 percent of $3,000 of eligible expenses in 2015. For two or more qualifying dependents, you can claim up to 35 percent of $6,000 (or $2,100) of eligible expenses. For higher income earners the credit percentage is reduced, but not below 20 percent, regardless of the amount of adjusted gross income.

Individuals – Education
American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credits
The American Opportunity Tax Credit (formerly Hope Scholarship Credit) was extended to the end of 2017 by ATRA. The maximum credit is $2,500 per student. The Lifetime Learning Credit remains at $2,000 per return.

Interest on Educational Loans
In 2015 (as in 2014), the $2,500 maximum deduction for interest paid on student loans is no longer limited to interest paid during the first 60 months of repayment. The deduction is phased out for higher-income taxpayers with modified AGI of more than $65,000 ($130,000 joint filers).

Individuals – Retirement
Contribution Limits
The elective deferral (contribution) limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan remains unchanged at $17,500. Contribution limits for SIMPLE plans remains unchanged at $12,000. The maximum compensation used to determine contributions increases to $260,000 (up $5,000 from 2014).

Income Phase-out Ranges
The deduction for taxpayers making contributions to a traditional IRA is phased out for singles and heads of household who are covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan and have modified AGI between $60,000 and $70,000, up from $59,000 and $69,000 in 2014.

For married couples filing jointly, in which the spouse who makes the IRA contribution is covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan, the phase-out range is $96,000 to $116,000, up from $95,000 to $115,000. For an IRA contributor who is not covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s modified AGI is between $181,000 and $191,000, up from $178,000 and $188,000.

The modified AGI phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $181,000 to $191,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $178,000 to $188,000 in 2014. For singles and heads of household, the income phase-out range is $114,000 to $129,000, up from $112,000 to $127,000. For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a retirement plan, the phase-out range remains $0 to $10,000.

Saver’s Credit
In 2015, the AGI limit for the saver’s credit (also known as the retirement savings contribution credit) for low and moderate income workers is $61,000 for married couples filing jointly, up from $60,000 in 2014; $45,750 for heads of household, up from $45,000; and $30,500 for married individuals filing separately and for singles, up from $30,000.

Businesses
Standard Mileage Rates
The rate for business miles driven is 57.5 cents per mile for 2015, down from 56 cents per mile in 2014.

Section 179 Expensing
For 2015 the maximum Section 179 expense deduction for equipment purchases decreases to $25,000 of the first $200,000 of business property placed in service during 2015. The bonus depreciation of 50 percent is gone, as is the accelerated deduction, where businesses can expense the entire cost of qualified real property in the year of purchase.

Employee Health Insurance Expenses

For taxable years beginning in 2015, the dollar amount is $25,800. This amount is used for limiting the small employer health insurance credit and for determining who is an eligible small employer for purposes of the credit.

Transportation Fringe Benefits
If you provide transportation fringe benefits to your employees, in 2015 the maximum monthly limitation for transportation in a commuter highway vehicle as well as any transit pass is $130 (same as 2014). The monthly limitation for qualified parking is $250 (same as 2014).

While this checklist outlines important tax changes for 2015, additional changes in tax law are more than likely to arise during the year ahead.

Don’t hesitate to call us if you want to get an early start on tax planning for 2015. We’re here to help!

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Four Questions to Ask Before You Open Your Wallet

Even if you have the best of intentions, it’s easy to overspend. According to a Gallup poll conducted June 9-15, 2014,* 58% of people who had shopped during the previous four weeks said they spent more at the store than they originally intended to. Even if you’re generally comfortable with how much you spend, you may occasionally suffer from a case of buyer’s remorse or have trouble postponing a purchase in favor of saving for a short- or long-term goal. Here are a few key questions to consider that might help you fine-tune your spending.

How will spending money now affect me later?

When you’re deciding whether to buy something, you usually focus on the features and benefits of what you’re getting, but do you think about what you’re potentially forgoing? When you factor this into your decision, what you’re weighing is known as the opportunity cost. For example, let’s say you’re trying to decide whether to buy a new car. If you buy the car, will you have to give up this year’s family vacation to Disney World? Considering the opportunity cost may help you evaluate both the direct and indirect costs of a purchase.

Some other questions to ask:

  • How will you feel about your purchase later? Tomorrow? Next month? Next year?
  • Will this purchase cause stress or strife at home? Couples often fight about money because they have conflicting money values. Will your spouse or partner object to your purchasing decision?
  • Are you setting a good financial example? Children learn from what they observe. What messages are you sending through your spending habits?

Why do I want it?

Maybe you’ve worked hard and think you deserve to buy something you’ve always wanted. But are you certain that you’re not being unduly influenced by other factors such as stress or boredom?

Take a moment to think about what’s important to you. Comfort? Security? Safety? Status? Quality? Thriftiness? Does your purchase align with your values, or are you unconsciously allowing other people (advertisers, friends, family, neighbors, for example) to influence your spending?

Do I really need it today?

Buying something can be instantly and tangibly gratifying. After all, which sounds more exciting: spending $1,500 on the ultra-light laptop you’ve had your eye on or putting that money into a retirement account? Consistently prioritizing an immediate reward over a longer-term goal is one of the biggest obstacles to saving and investing for the future. The smaller purchases you make today could be getting in the way of accumulating what you’ll need 10, 20, or 30 years down the road.

Be especially wary if you’re buying something now because “it’s such a good deal.” Take time to find out whether that’s really true. Shop around to see that you’re getting the best price, and weigh alternatives–you may discover a lower-cost product that will meet your needs just as well. If you think before you spend money, you may be less likely to make impulse purchases, and more certain that you’re making appropriate financial choices.

Can I really afford it?

Whether you can afford something depends on both your income and your expenses. You should know how these two things measure up before making a purchase. Are you consistently charging purchases to your credit card and carrying that debt from month to month? If so, this may be a warning sign that you’re overspending. Reexamining your budget and financial priorities may help you get your spending back on track.

*Source: American Consumers Careful With Spending in Summer 2014, http://www.gallup.com.

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Six Tips for People Who Owe Taxes

While most people get a refund from the IRS when they file their taxes, some do not. If you owe federal taxes, the IRS has several ways for you to pay. Here are six tips for people who owe taxes:

1. Pay your tax bill.  If you get a bill from the IRS, you’ll save money by paying it as soon as you can. If you can’t pay it in full, you should pay as much as you can. That will reduce the interest and penalties charged for late payment. You should think about using a credit card or getting a loan to pay the amount you owe.

2. Use IRS Direct Pay.  The best way to pay your taxes is with the IRS Direct Pay tool. It’s the safe, easy and free way to pay from your checking or savings account. The tool walks you through five simple steps to pay your tax in one online session. Just click on the ‘Pay Your Tax Bill’ icon on the IRS home page.

3. Get a short-term extension to pay.  You may qualify for extra time to pay your taxes if you can pay in full in 120 days or less. You can apply online at IRS.gov. If you received a bill from the IRS you can also call the phone number listed on it. If you don’t have a bill, call 800-829-1040 for help. There is usually no set-up fee for a short-term extension.

4. Apply for a monthly payment plan.  If you owe $50,000 or less and need more time to pay, you can apply for an Online Payment Agreement on IRS.gov. A direct debit payment plan is your best option. This plan is the lower-cost, hassle-free way to pay. The set-up fee is less than other plans. There are no reminders, no missed payments and no checks to write and mail. You can also use Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, to apply. For more about payment plan options visit IRS.gov.

5. Consider an Offer in Compromise.  An Offer in Compromise lets you settle your tax debt for less than the full amount that you owe. An OIC may be an option if you can’t pay your tax in full. It may also apply if full payment will cause a financial hardship. You can use the OIC Pre-Qualifier tool to see if you qualify. It will also tell you what a reasonable offer might be.

6. Change your withholding or estimated tax.  You may be able to avoid owing the IRS in the future by having more taxes withheld from your pay. Do this by filing a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, with your employer. The IRS Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov can help you fill out a new W-4. If you have income that’s not subject to withholding you may need to make estimated tax payments. See Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals for more on this topic.

To find out more see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process.

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How Long Will It Take to Double My Money?

Before making any investment decision, one of the key elements you face is working out the real rate of return on your investment.

Compound interest is critical to investment growth. Whether your financial portfolio consists solely of a deposit account at your local bank or a series of highly leveraged investments, your rate of return is dramatically improved by the compounding factor.

With simple interest, interest is paid just on the principal. With compound interest, the return that you receive on your initial investment is automatically reinvested. In other words, you receive interest on the interest.

But just how quickly does your money grow? The easiest way to work that out is by using what’s known as the “Rule of 72.”1 Quite simply, the “Rule of 72” enables you to determine how long it will take for the money you’ve invested on a compound interest basis to double. You divide 72 by the interest rate to get the answer.

For example, if you invest $10,000 at 10 percent compound interest, then the “Rule of 72” states that in 7.2 years you will have $20,000. You divide 72 by 10 percent to get the time it takes for your money to double. The “Rule of 72” is a rule of thumb that gives approximate results. It is most accurate for hypothetical rates between 5 and 20 percent.

While compound interest is a great ally to an investor, inflation is one of the greatest enemies. The “Rule of 72” can also highlight the damage that inflation can do to your money.

Let’s say you decide not to invest your $10,000 but hide it under your mattress instead. Assuming an inflation rate of 4.5 percent, in 16 years your $10,000 will have lost half of its value.

The real rate of return is the key to how quickly the value of your investment will grow. If you are receiving 10 percent interest on an investment but inflation is running at 4 percent, then your real rate of return is 6 percent. In such a scenario, it will take your money 12 years to double in value.

The “Rule of 72” is a quick and easy way to determine the value of compound interest over time. By taking the real rate of return into consideration (nominal interest less inflation), you can see how soon a particular investment will double the value of your money.

The Rule of 72 is a mathematical concept, and the hypothetical return illustrated is not representative of a specific investment. Also note that the principal and yield of securities will fluctuate with changes in market conditions so that the shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost.The Rule of 72 does not include adjustments for income or taxation. It assumes that interest is compounded annually. Actual results will vary.

 

The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. © 2014 Emerald Connect, LLC

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Four Basic Tax Tips about Hobbies

Millions of people enjoy hobbies that are also a source of income. Some examples include stamp and coin collecting, craft making, and horsemanship.

You must report on your tax return the income you earn from a hobby. The rules for how you report the income and expenses depend on whether the activity is a hobby or a business. There are special rules and limits for deductions you can claim for a hobby. Here are four tax tips you should know about hobbies:

1. Is it a Business or a Hobby?  A key feature of a business is that you do it to make a profit. You often engage in a hobby for sport or recreation, not to make a profit. You should consider nine factors when you determine whether your activity is a hobby. Make sure to base your determination on all the facts and circumstances of your situation. For more about ‘not-for-profit’ rules see Publication 535, Business Expenses.

2. Allowable Hobby Deductions.  Within certain limits, you can usually deduct ordinary and necessary hobby expenses. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted for the activity. A necessary expense is one that is appropriate for the activity.

3. Limits on Hobby Expenses.  Generally, you can only deduct your hobby expenses up to the amount of hobby income. If your hobby expenses are more than your hobby income, you have a loss from the activity. You can’t deduct the loss from your other income.

4. How to Deduct Hobby Expenses.  You must itemize deductions on your tax return in order to deduct hobby expenses. Your expenses may fall into three types of deductions, and special rules apply to each type. See of Publication 535 for the rules about how you claim them on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions.

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Job hunting related expenses

Many people change their job in the summer. If you look for a new job in the same line of work, you may be able to deduct some of your job hunting costs.

Here are some key tax facts you should know about if you search for a new job:

Same Occupation.  Your expenses must be for a job search in your current line of work. You can’t deduct expenses for a job search in a new occupation.
Résumé Costs.  You can deduct the cost of preparing and mailing your résumé.
Travel Expenses.  If you travel to look for a new job, you may be able to deduct the cost of the trip. To deduct the cost of the travel to and from the area, the trip must be mainly to look for a new job. You may still be able to deduct some costs if looking for a job is not the main purpose of the trip.
Placement Agency. You can deduct some job placement agency fees you pay to look for a job.
First Job.  You can’t deduct job search expenses if you’re looking for a job for the first time.
Work-Search Break.  You can’t deduct job search expenses if there was a long break between the end of your last job and the time you began looking for a new one.
Reimbursed Costs.  Reimbursed expenses are not deductible.
Schedule A.  You usually deduct your job search expenses on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. You’ll claim them as a miscellaneous deduction. You can deduct the total miscellaneous deductions that are more than two percent of your adjusted gross income.
Premium Tax Credit.  If you receive advance payment of the premium tax credit in 2014 it is important that you report changes in circumstances, such as changes in your income or family size, to your Health Insurance Marketplace. Advance payments of the premium tax credit provide financial assistance to help you pay for the insurance you buy through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Reporting changes will help you get the proper type and amount of financial assistance so you can avoid getting too much or too little in advance.
For more on job hunting refer to Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions

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Vacation Home Rentals

If you rent a home to others, you usually must report the rental income on your tax return. But you may not have to report the income if the rental period is short and you also use the property as your home. In most cases, you can deduct the costs of renting your property. However, your deduction may be limited if you also use the property as your home. Here is some basic tax information that you should know if you rent out a vacation home:

Vacation Home.  A vacation home can be a house, apartment, condominium, mobile home, boat or similar property.
Schedule E.  You usually report rental income and rental expenses on Schedule E, Supplemental Income and Loss. Your rental income may also be subject to Net Investment Income Tax.
Used as a Home.  If the property is “used as a home,” your rental expense deduction is limited. This means your deduction for rental expenses can’t be more than the rent you received. For more about these rules, see Publication 527, Residential Rental Property (Including Rental of Vacation Homes).
Divide Expenses.  If you personally use your property and also rent it to others, special rules apply. You must divide your expenses between the rental use and the personal use. To figure how to divide your costs, you must compare the number of days for each type of use with the total days of use.
Personal Use.  Personal use may include use by your family. It may also include use by any other property owners or their family. Use by anyone who pays less than a fair rental price is also personal use.
Schedule A.  Report deductible expenses for personal use on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. These may include costs such as mortgage interest, property taxes and casualty losses.
Rented Less than 15 Days.  If the property is “used as a home” and you rent it out fewer than 15 days per year, you do not have to report the rental income.

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Early Retirement Plan Withdrawals and Your Taxes

Taking money out early from your retirement plan may trigger an additional tax. Here are
seven things from the IRS that you should know about early withdrawals from retirement
plans:

An early withdrawal normally means taking money from your plan before you reach age 59½.

If you made a withdrawal from a plan last year, you must report the amount you withdrew
to the IRS. You may have to pay income tax as well as an additional 10 percent tax on the
amount you withdrew.

The additional 10 percent tax does not apply to nontaxable withdrawals. Nontaxable
withdrawals include withdrawals of your cost to participate in the plan. Your cost includes
contributions that you paid tax on before you put them into the plan.

A rollover is a type of nontaxable withdrawal. Generally, a rollover is a distribution to
you of cash or other assets from one retirement plan that you contribute to another
retirement plan. You usually have 60 days to complete a rollover to make it tax-free.

There are many exceptions to the additional 10 percent tax. Some of the exceptions for
retirement plans are different from the rules for IRAs.

If you make an early withdrawal, you may need to file Form 5329, Additional Taxes on
Qualified Plans (Including IRAs) and Other Tax-Favored Accounts, with your federal tax
return.

The rules for retirement plans can be complex. The fast, safe and free way to prepare and
e-file your tax return is to use IRS Free File. Free File offers brand-name software or
online fillable forms for free. Free File software will pick the right tax forms, do the
math and help you get the tax benefits you’re due. No matter how you prepare your taxes,
you should always file electronically with IRS e-file. More than 80 percent of taxpayers
e-file for faster refunds or for easier electronic payment options.

For more information on this topic give us a call or send us an email.

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5 Myths about College Financial Aid

As your adolescent applies to school and you see how much it costs, do not let your fears overshadow an exciting time in your kid’s life. The key will be to not consider the fiscal myths surrounding the cost.
Myth #1: you will need to pay the whole price of school out of pocket.
Many pupils add the cost of living, textbook fees and the tuition price and say there’s no way they are able to manage school. The fact remains college students need some type. Your kid can receive a mix of grants, loans, scholarships or work study jobs to reduce the price. Your pupil and you may also need to research different schools according to affordability.
Myth #2: You must be really gifted, really bright or really poor be eligible for financial aid.
Financial aid comes in many forms– scholarships and grants, which do not need to be refunded, and loans, which do have to be refunded. There’s demand-based assistance for pupils of lower income families, and value-based support for pupils who excel in community service, sports, music and many other places. Financial aid sources are varied, the school or university the federal government, your company, also– itself, and many more. Explore all the possibilities; you will be surprised.
Myth #3: You will get more scholarships by paying someone to hunt for you.
Beware of person or any group if you pay a fee that ensures a scholarship. There are a number of free and great scholarship sources online. Check out fastweb.com or finaid.org to find out more, and take a look at the free scholarship search at collegenet.com.
Myth #4: If school is paid for by your kid, your salary does not matter.
Most schools require pupils to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) so that you can qualify for need-based assistance. The form, accessible online at fafsa.ed.gov, asks for advice similar to what is needed for income taxes. See ACT’s financial aid calculator to get an approximation of your estimated family contribution, if you’ren’t ready to file yet.
Myth #5: you’ll be able to wait before worrying about financial aid until you get taken into a school.
Seeking financial aid likely is not your kid’s notion of a time that is good, but it is not worse than graduating from school with a tremendous debt

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