Archive for Steven Potts

Are Tips Taxable?

Steven Potts 11-6-15
Mandatory tips and gratuities are generally subject to sales tax in California when:

• An amount is automatically added to the bill without first consulting with the customer after the meal is served. Think about group meals, banquets, etc. Generally when serving more than 8 at one table in one ticket.

• The customer and the business agree to a suggest tip amount before the service or event. Think preplanned gathering, education meeting with a meal, conference, etc.

• Menus, brochures, ads, or other materials state that tips, gratuities, or service charges will automatically be Read more

Tax Scammers Alert

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WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service issued a consumer alert last week providing taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS.

These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They may know a lot about you, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request.

“These telephone scams are being seen in every part of the country, and we urge people Read more


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Let’s face it, we all know this country is facing a retirement crisis. The first of the Baby Boomers turned 65 and started retiring in 2011. The number of Boomers retiring each year will rise rapidly over the next decade or more. Before the end of this decade, Boomers will be turning age 65 at the rate of 8,000 per day.

This massive retirement of Baby Boomers will stretch our health care and health delivery systems to the max and beyond. Our public safety net – entitlements – has long been poorly managed, ill-thought-out and threadbare. Imagine what will happen as tens of millions of Boomers retire.

Yet the worst part of all is that so few people or families have saved anywhere near enough Read more

Next Year Double Digit Health Plan Increases

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Consumers eligible for Obamacare health plans could see double-digit price hikes next year in states that fail to draw large numbers of enrolls for 2014, according to insurance industry officials and analysts.

The early estimates come as insurance companies set out to design plans they intend to sell in 2015 through the state-based health insurance marketplaces that are a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement that is widely referred to as Obamacare.

WellPoint Inc, which sells plans on 14 Obamacare exchanges, expects health insurance rates nationwide to be higher. Increases for the Obamacare market that has signed up Read more

IRS Announcement on Tax Filing Season

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The 2014 filing season will begin January 31, 2014. The Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting and processing returns and refunds on that date. There is no advantage to filing on paper before the opening date and you will receive your refund much faster by using e-file with direct deposit. Once the filing season begins, the Internal Revenue Service expects to issue more than nine out of ten refunds in less than twenty one days.

Under federal law, all tax payment and filing deadlines remain in effect. This includes the April 15, 2014 deadline for most taxpayers.

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11 Questions To Ask When Hiring A Tax Preparer

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The key, as with hiring any professional, is to ask questions. Lots of questions. And not just about pricing. Here’s a list of 11 questions that I recommend you ask a potential tax preparer:

1. Do you have a PTIN (preparer tax identification number)? This should be your first question. Anyone who prepares federal tax returns for compensation must have a valid 2014 PTIN before preparing returns. Without a PTIN, the preparer is not allowed to prepare your return – this isn’t something you want to find out at the end.

2. What is your tax background? A slew of letters following a name on a business card doesn’t necessarily mean more qualified. It can mean that the person has passed certain Read more

How To Avoid 529 Plans’ Pitfalls

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When Julie Craft started saving money for her daughter’s education through a 529 college-savings plan several years ago, her financial planner told her she could use those savings for any college expenses.

Then she switched planners and learned that wasn’t the case—just in time, as her daughter is now a freshman at the University of Oklahoma. “You have to know what you can use the money for so you don’t wind up paying more in taxes and penalties,” says Ms. Craft, who lives near Dallas.

Her new financial planner, Todd Schneider of Southlake, Texas, says he has encountered a lot of confusion among clients about how to use the money they have accumulated in Read more

Tax Provisions Not Extended

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Is it real this time? –

In one of the most visible expressions of confusion in tax policy out of Washington D.C. is the treatment of a short list of tax laws that have been repeatedly extended only to expire only to be extended once again. These laws expire on midnight December 31st, 2013 unless… once again… the laws are extended.

• Teacher $250 deduction for qualified classroom expenses

• Deduction for state and local general sales taxes (in place of state income tax deduction)

• Deductibility of home mortgage insurance premiums Read more

2013 Year-End Tax Tips

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The close of every year seems to bring its own uncertainty from a tax-planning perspective. Last year we faced the expiration of certain temporary tax provisions and the commencement of automatic federal government spending cuts. In October 2013, the President and Congress temporarily agreed on funding the government and increasing the national debt limit. But these issues will be back in play early in 2014 and could result in tax law changes that affect income-tax and financial planning.

For the time being, the best approach is to focus on how to limit your exposure to the many new or increased taxes in 2013 and beyond.

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2014 Standard Mileage Rate

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The Internal Revenue Service has released the 2014 standard mileage rates for taxpayers to use in computing the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical, or moving expense purposes. The following chart reflects the new 2014 standard mileage rates compared to the 2013 and 2012 tax year standard mileage rates.



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