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Disaster Victims Can Take Hardship Distributions From Retirement Plans

Barry Fowler, Tax Advisor

The IRS has announced relief for victims of recent disasters. If you live in a federally-declared disaster area, you qualify for this program. As an affected taxpayer, you may take a loan or hardship distribution from your retirement plan.

Streamlined procedures have been put in place to allow taxpayers quick access to funds in these accounts. The plan must allow for hardship withdrawals. However, these distributions may be made prior to the plan being amended to allow such withdrawals.  Contact the human resources department at your company to see if your plan allows these loans or distributions. The IRS is waiving the six-month ban on distributions that normally affects taxpayers taking hardship distributions. Any distribution or loan under this announcement must be made by January 31, 2018.

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Did Harvey Wash Away Years Of Unfiled Tax Info?

Hurricane Harvey has been devastating for many Texans. It could prove to be even more devastating if you haven’t filed your income tax returns in several years and you lost your important papers during the storm.

Even if Harvey wiped out your important papers, your tax filing delinquency will not be forgotten by the IRS. Read more

IRS Has A Heart For Hurricane Harvey Victims

Barry Fowler

With a major portion of Houston and surrounding areas under water and devastated, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced significant tax relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Those in Texas who have been affected by the storm have until January 31, 2018, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments. This includes an additional filing extension for taxpayers with valid extensions through October 16, and businesses with extensions through September 15. Read more

When Disaster Strikes, Scam Artists Go To Work

Barry Fowler

If the mass murder in Orlando last month was not tragic enough, another group of criminals are now reaching out to make an unthinkable situation even more heinous.

If you are considering donating money to a charitable organization to help the families of the Orlando Pulse victims, think twice before you give. There will be scam artists calling and reaching out in a variety of ways looking to take advantage of the heartbroken people around the country who want to help in some way.

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FICO Score—Becoming And Remaining Credit Worthy

Barry Fowler

Being credit worthy is a big deal in our society. While there are host of important numbers in your financial world, few are as critical as your credit score.

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It’s Time For Year-End Tax Planning

For the past few years, year-end tax planning has been challenging due to the lateness of action by Congress. This year is no different because of uncertainty over whether Congress will extend any of the many expired or expiring tax provisions. However, regardless of what Congress does later this year, solid tax savings can still be realized by taking advantage of tax breaks that are still on the books for 2015. For individuals and small businesses, these include:

• Capital Gains and Losses – You can employ several strategies to suit your particular tax circumstances. If your income is low this year and your tax bracket is 15% or lower, you can take advantage of the zero percent capital gains bracket benefit, resulting in no tax for part or all of your long-term gains. Others, affected by the market downturn earlier this year, should review their portfolio with an eye to offsetting gains Read more

Tax Benefits of A Home Solar Power System

If you are considering installing a solar electric system or solar hot water system for your home, there are tax issues you should consider when making your decision.

First of all, there is a very lucrative non-refundable federal tax credit for 30% of the cost of the system with no maximum. So for example, if the solar electric system cost you $20,000, your tax credit would be $6,000. A non-refundable tax credit offsets your tax liability, regular and alternative minimum, dollar for dollar, and any excess is added to any credit allowable in the subsequent year. For example, if your 2015 credit was $6,000 and your 2015 tax liability was $4,000, then $4,000 of the credit would go to pay off your 2015 tax liability and the remaining $2,000 would be added to your 2016 solar credit, if any, and used to reduce your 2016 tax liability. This credit, unless it is extended by Congress, will expire after 2016. Read more

Don’t Be Scammed By Fake Charities

As the end of the year approaches, you will probably be besieged by requests from charitable organizations for contributions. The holiday season is the favorite time of the year for charities to solicit donations.

But you should be aware that it is also the time of year when scammers show up in force, pretending to be legitimate charities in hopes of deceiving you into giving them your hard-earned money.

When making a donation, you should take a few extra minutes to ensure your gifts are going to legitimate charities. IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, which allows people to find legitimate, qualified charities to which donations may be tax-deductible. Read more

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Are Valuable Tools for Small Business Owners

If you’re a small business owner, then you know that gauging the performance of your business is one of the most difficult tasks you face. The indicators and measures that you work with on a day-to-day level are not necessarily reflected in the criteria and metrics that are provided on paper, and it’s hard to know what to trust and which information is best to use. It is essential that business owners have a reliable, understandable way to tell whether things are going well or need improvement, and that’s why using and understanding your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is so vitally important.

The value of Key Performance Indicators cannot be overstated. They are objective, black and white measures of all of your business processes and performance, and provide you with a clear and straightforward way of seeing what is working and what needs more Read more

October 15 – Last Chance to Take Advantage of Retroactive Business Expensing

If you are a small business owner, October 15, 2015, is your last chance to retroactively adopt the new tangible property regulations that took effect in 2014.

Why is adopting these new regulations important? They give you the opportunity to expense items that you had capitalized (depreciated) in years for which the three-year statute of limitations has not yet expired. As an example, say you are a landlord, and you replaced the roof on your rental at a cost $6,000 in 2012. Prior to the new regulations, that expense would have been treated as a capital expense, and you would have had to depreciate it (deduct it slowly), over 27½ or 39 years. However, under the new regulations, the expense of replacing the roofing membrane is fully deductible in the year the cost was incurred. Read more

October 15 Extension Due Date Rapidly Approaching

If you could not complete your 2014 tax return by the normal April filing due date, and are now on extension, that extension expires on October 15, 2015, and there are no additional extensions. Failure to file before the extension period runs out can subject you to late-filing penalties.

There are no additional extensions, so if you still do not or will not have all of the information needed to complete your return by the extended due date, please call the office so that we can explore your options for meeting your October 15 filing deadline.

If you are waiting for a K-1 from a partnership, S-corporation, or fiduciary return, the extended deadline for those returns was September 15. So, if you have not received that Read more

Sole Proprietorship – Is The Risk Worth It?

If you are considering starting a business, the simplest and least expensive form of business is a sole proprietorship. A sole proprietorship is a one-person business that reports its income directly on the individual’s personal tax return (Form 1040) using a Schedule C. There is no need to file a separate tax return as is required by a partnership or corporation (if the business is set up as an LLC with just one member, filing is still done on Schedule C, although an LLC return may also be required by the state). Generally, there are very few bureaucratic hoops to jump through to get started.

However, we strongly recommend that you open a checking account that is used solely for depositing business income and paying business expenses. You will also need to check and see if there is a need to register for a local government business license and permit Read more

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