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Archives for March 2020

7 Ways to Minimize Your Income Taxes

Are you paying too much in income taxes?  Are you getting all the credits and deductions you are entitled to?  Here are 7 tips to help you minimize taxes and keep more in your pocket:

 

  1. Participate in company retirement plans. Every dollar you contribute will reduce your taxable income and thus your income taxes.  Similarly, enroll in your company’s flexible spending account.  You can set aside money for medical expenses and day care expenses.  This money is “use it or lose it” so make sure you estimate well!

 

  1. Make sure you pay in enough taxes to avoid penalties. Uncle Sam charges interest and penalties if you don’t pay in at least 90% of your current year taxes or 100% of last year’s tax liability.

 

  1. Buy a house. The mortgage interest and real estate taxes are deductible, and may allow you to itemize other deductions such as property taxes and charitable donations.

 

  1. Keep your house for at least two years. One of the best tax breaks available today is the home sale exclusion, which allows you to exclude up to $250,000 ($500,000 for joint filers) of profit on the sale of your home from your income.  However, you must have owned and lived in your home for at least two years to qualify for the exclusion.

 

  1. Time your investment sales. If your income is higher than expected, sell some of your losers to reduce taxable income.  If you will be selling a mutual fund, sell before the year-end distributions to avoid taxes on the upcoming dividend or capital gain.   Also, you should allocate tax efficient investments to your taxable accounts and non-efficient investments to your retirement accounts, to reduce the tax you pay on interest, dividends and capital gains.

 

  1. If you’re retired, plan your retirement plan distributions carefully. If a retirement plan distribution will push you into a higher tax bracket, consider taking money out of taxable investments to keep you in the lower tax bracket.  Also, pay attention to the 59-½ age limit.  Withdrawals taken before this age can result in penalties in addition to income taxes.

 

  1. Bunch your expenses. Certain expenses must exceed a minimum before you can deduct them (medical expenses must exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income and miscellaneous expenses such as tax preparation fees must exceed 2% of your AGI).  In order to deduct these expenses, you may need to bunch these types of expenses into a single year to get above the minimum.  To achieve this, you might prepay medical and miscellaneous expenses on December 31 to get above the minimum amount.

 

The most important thing is to be aware of the tax deductions and credits that apply to you and to plan for taxable events.  And don’t be afraid to ask for help.  The benefits from consulting an experienced tax professional far outweigh the cost to hire that professional.

At Peavy and Associates PC our mission is to assist you with all your tax preparations, payroll and accounting needs.  We provide our clients with professional, personalized accounting services and guidance in a wide range of financial and business needs. Give us a call today and discover why our clients return to Peavy and Associates, PC year after year!

 

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Determining Your Tax Status

There are five classifications from which you choose to file: single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household or qualifying widower with dependent child. If for some reason, more than one status applies to you, you should choose the status that gives you the greatest tax benefit.

 

Determining your status as a single filer seems simple enough, but there are different situations that exist that can qualify the taxpayer as single. For example, if you are legally separated even in the last month of the year, you are considered single for the entire year. With no dependents and you are unmarried, you are considered single. Divorce and annulment within the year also qualifies you to file as single.

 

However, even if you are single, but you have a dependent, or were widowed during the tax year, and you have dependents, your filing status would change to head of household or widowed with qualifying dependent child, not single.

 

When it comes to determining your status as a married taxpayer, there are simple qualification assessments that establish your legal filing status and if you’re considered married. Obviously, if you are legally married and living together as husband and wife, even for a small part of the tax year, then you would be considered married. If you are living together as common law spouses, and it is legally recognized in the state in which you live, or you lived part of the tax year in the state where the common law marriage began, then your filing status is married. Your filing status is still married even if you are married but not living together, but are not legally separated or divorced.

 

If you have unique circumstances, it might not be so easy to determine your filing status. If, for example, you were widowed during the tax year and did not remarry, you can file as married with your deceased spouse, and then file as widowed with qualified dependents for the next two years, so long as you do not remarry. If you remarry within the tax year that your spouse passed away, you would file as married with your current spouse, and file with your deceased spouse as married filing separately.

 

If you are married and want to file a joint return, your tax status is married filing jointly. All income to the household must be included on the one return, and both spouses must sign and date prior to submitting the tax return. All exemptions, deductions, and credits are reported on the joint return, and you share equal responsibility and liability for the information reported on the tax return, as well as any tax money owed. There are ways to ask for release from joint responsibility, either through innocent spouse relief, separation of liability for spouses who have not lived together for the past year, or equitable relief.

 

There are sometimes reasons that a spouse cannot sign a joint tax return, such as a spouse stationed abroad for the military. In this type of situation, you may sign for your spouse as a proxy, and attach a written explanation.

 

Choosing your filing status, while lengthy and sometimes complicated, is an important in the process of completing your Federal Income Tax return.

At Peavy and Associates PC our mission is to assist you with all your tax preparations, payroll and accounting needs.  We provide our clients with professional, personalized accounting services and guidance in a wide range of financial and business needs. Give us a call today and discover why our clients return to Peavy and Associates, PC year after year!

 

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Preparing for tax audit

Why it’s a Good Idea to Hire a CPA

CPAs, or Certified Public Accountants, can help you in your individual or business accounting and tax preparation in many ways.  With the laws surrounding accountancy such as generally accepted accounting practices for businesses, and tax laws that change every year for individuals, hiring a CPA to perform your accounting services needs is the best way to ensure that your accounting is error free in case of IRS or other audit.

Having a CPA prepare your business or individual income tax return is a great way to avoid errors, not to mention the prying eyes of the IRS and an audit.  A CPA must undergo continuing education as accounting and tax laws change from year to year.  Therefore, only a CPA can ensure that your tax return is completely accurate.  Not only is accuracy important to the IRS and in case of an audit, but it is important to your immediate financial future as well.  Because a CPA has intimate knowledge of tax laws and available exemptions, a CPA can make sure you get the largest refund possible.

In the case that you are chosen for audit by the IRS, your best bet to come through the audit cleanly is to have a CPA by your side.  A CPA is as familiar with tax law as the IRS representative performing the audit.  Because of this, the CPA can negotiate a lower penalty, help you avoid penalties, and help you claim the deductions you deserve.  You should contact a CPA as soon as you have received an audit notice from the IRS, because the CPA can help you prepare for your audit and gather the necessary information.  Then, the CPA can walk into the audit interview by your side, completely in charge and confident of the outcome of your audit.

If you own a small business, a CPA can also help you determine what business taxes are required by your local, state, and federal government.  In addition, the CPA can help you set up a double entry accounting system that includes a journal and ledger.  The CPA can also help you to set up a standard chart of accounts for use with your ledger.  All of these tools will help you stay organized and ready for tax time and any possible audits.  The CPA can also use the information from these tools to create financial statements for your business, which will then help you to make business decisions, make comparisons with competitors, discover industry and company financial trends, and prepare financial reports and business plans for purposes of investors and bank loans.

Whatever the financial service required, a CPA is your best bet.  With a CPA, you have the security of a licensed, monitored professional along with the peace of mind that all of your accounting is accurate and ready for any possible

At Peavy and Associates PC our mission is to assist you with all your tax preparations, payroll and accounting needs.  We provide our clients with professional, personalized accounting services and guidance in a wide range of financial and business needs. Give us a call today and discover why our clients return to Peavy and Associates, PC year after year!

 

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Bookkeeping Basics

Most people probably think of bookkeeping and accounting as the same thing, but bookkeeping is really one function of accounting, while accounting encompasses many functions involved in managing the financial affairs of a business. Accountants prepare reports based, in part, on the work of bookkeepers.

Bookkeepers perform all manner of record-keeping tasks. Some of them include the following:

They prepare what are referred to as source documents for all the operations of a business – the buying, selling, transferring, paying and collecting. The documents include papers such as purchase orders, invoices, credit card slips, time cards, time sheets and expense reports. Bookkeepers also determine and enter in the source documents what are called the financial effects of the transactions and other business events. Those include paying the employees, making sales, borrowing money or buying products or raw materials for production.

Bookkeepers also make entries of the financial effects into journals and accounts. These are two different things. A journal is the record of transactions in chronological order. An accounts is a separate record, or page for each asset and each liability. One transaction can affect several accounts.

Bookkeepers prepare reports at the end of specific period of time, such as daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually. To do this, all the accounts need to be up to date. Inventory records must be updated and the reports checked and double-checked to ensure that they’re as error-free as possible.

The bookkeepers also compile complete listings of all accounts. This is called the adjusted trial balance. While a small business may have a hundred or so accounts, very large businesses can have more than 10,000 accounts.

The final step is for the bookkeeper to close the books, which means bringing all the bookkeeping for a fiscal year to a close and summarized.

At Peavy and Associates PC our mission is to assist you with all your tax preparations, payroll and accounting needs.  We provide our clients with professional, personalized accounting services and guidance in a wide range of financial and business needs. Give us a call today and discover why our clients return to Peavy and Associates, PC year after year!

 

Contact Us Today

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