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Is A Bitcoin Donation For Churches?

John Stancil, Tax Advisor, Florida

Bitcoin… Most likely you have heard of it. Maybe you have an idea about what it is. But what if a member of your church asks you, as Pastor or Treasurer, if they can contribute bitcoin to the church. How do you reply? Can it even be done? Most smaller churches are not set up to receive donations of stocks or other securities, much less something as new as bitcoin. Obviously, one does not want to turn away a legitimate contribution with no strings attached, but what is the process? To get the big question out of the way, yes, your church can accept bitcoin contributions, but it is not as simple as a member dropping a check in the offering plate or making an online contribution with a credit card.  The church must be prepared to receive such contributions.

But let’s take a step back and look at what bitcoin is. Bitcoin is the most well-known virtual currency now in existence. It is sometimes referred to as cryptocurrency. It not the province of any government, but is a virtual currency used in commerce. Since it is essentially a “private” currency the value of bitcoin changes much as the value of stocks or other securities change value. In fact, the IRS does not recognize bitcoin as cash for purposes of charitable contributions. Therefore, it must be treated as a noncash gift similar to the handling of contributions of other securities. Consequently, the church should not assign a value to the contribution but simply issue a letter acknowledging the contribution.

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Where’s My Refund? – IRS Changes

John Stancil, Tax Connections

So you get all your tax information together early and go to your preparer so you can file your tax return early and get the refund quickly. Not so fast. Certain refunds will be delayed and will not be released by the IRS until February 15. This is due to a provision in the PATH Act, enacted by Congress in 2015, prohibiting the IRS from releasing certain refunds prior to February 15. This provision takes effect this year. Note that the 15th is the release date, so it will take a few more days for you to receive the refund. Read more

Minister’s Housing Allowance Update

John Stancil, Tax Advisor

The minister’s housing allowance has been challenged in court. There have been several challenges in recent years, but last month, Judge Barbara Crabb once again ruled the housing allowance as unconstitutional, favoring a religious group. As of now, it is anticipated that the order will be stayed, meaning it will not be enforced, pending appeals. Once the appeals are exhausted, the order would take effect. Obviously, this would take at least a couple of years.  Read more

NFL Tax Breaks – And Tax Breaks Americans Dream About

John Stancil, Tax Advisor

Much has recently been said of the tax breaks received by the National Football League. While they do receive certain tax breaks, many of these breaks are also available to other businesses. Granted, they do tend to be on a larger scale.

There is however, one area in which sports franchises do get significant tax breaks. Below are three aspects to tax breaks received by the NFL and other professional sports:

  1. Tax-exempt status of the league office
  2. Amortization of the purchase price of the franchise
  3. State and local financing of sports stadiums.

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President Trump’s 2017 Disaster Tax Relief Bill

John Stancil, Tax Advisor

At long last, Congress and President Trump have given us a tax bill that provides some real relief for taxpayers impacted by this year’s hurricanes. The “Disaster Relief and Airport and Airport Extension Act of 2017” was signed by the President on September 29.

Although it deals with issues beyond hurricane relief, those issues are not the focus of this article and will not be discussed here. And there are some provisions relating to hurricane disaster losses that do not have widespread application and will not be discussed here.

There are four important segments to the hurricane relief granted by this act.

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Employers May Give Employees Tax-Free Disaster Relief

John Stancil

If they carefully follow the guidelines, employers may give cash payments to employees for disaster relief, tax-free. Under Sec. 139 of the Internal Revenue Code, qualified disaster relief payments to employees are tax free to the employee and deductible by the employer. This includes income as well as social security and Medicare taxes. Read more

Inflation-Adjusted Amounts for 2018 Taxes

Certain tax items are adjusted annually for inflation each year. The numbers that follow are not official releases by the IRS, but reflect the probable amounts that will be in effect for tax year 2018, based on the formulas used by the IRS.

The standard deduction for couples filing a joint return is anticipated to increase to $13,000, an increase of $300 from 2017. Single and married filing separately is half that amount. Head of Household will be $9,550, a $200 increase. Taxpayers 65 years or older or blind will get an additional $1,300 standard deduction, a $50 increase. Personal and dependency exemptions will be the same as for 2017, $1,050. These increases will result in an increase in the minimum income requiring taxpayers to file a return.

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Tax Effects Of A FEMA Disaster Declaration

If your county has been declared a FEMA disaster area due to the recent hurricanes, you have more time to file your tax returns and make certain tax payments. Individual and business income tax returns that previously received extensions to October 16 and September 15, respectively are now due January 31, 2018. Tax-exempt organizations who received an extension will have their return due date extended likewise.

In addition, any tax payment deadline of September 4 or later has been extended until January 31, 2018. This includes estimated quarterly payments for Third and fourth quarter 2017. Individual tax returns that were originally due April 18, 2017 and received a six-month extension are not eligible for the extended due date, as that payment was actually due in April, 2017.

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Tax Expert Spotlight Interview – John Stancil

In order to find a tax professional to answer your questions, we spotlight interview our tax experts. This week, we interviewed tax expert John Stancil headquartered in Lakeland, Florida.

John has been practicing for over thirty-five years and is a top tax expert and tax writer. He also serves on our AskTaxQuestion.com panel of tax experts. Given his diverse client base with individuals, small business and non-profits, John is also an expert on foreign earned income, small business healthcare tax credits, and church and clergy tax issues.
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TaxConnections Worldwide Tax Blogs Honors John Stancil

Kat Jennings

Every week, until the end of the year, we will be celebrating one of our top writers on TaxConnections.

This week we are honoring John Stancil.

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Avoid A Tax Surprise On April 15

John Stancil

I recall the first year my wife and I filed a joint return. I was a graduate student with a part-time job. She was fresh out of nursing school and employed at a local hospital. When we prepared our tax return, we owed $400. That was a lot of money in 1970, especially for people in our situation. What happened? We were victims of having multiple sources of income between the two of us and did not have the correct amounts withheld from our incomes.

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Driving For Uber – The Tax Consequences

John Stancil

You have decided to take the plunge and become a driver for Uber, Lyft or some other rideshare program. Congratulations! You are now a small business owner and your tax return just got more complicated. The income you earn from Uber is taxable and must be reported on Schedule C of your 1040. However, you may deduct expenses incurred in earning this income.

In January, you should receive a Form 1099-MISC from Uber or whatever company you drive for. The amount should be Read more

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