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Top 7 Reasons To File Your Income Tax Returns On Time

  1. Avoid Late Filing Penalties

Late filing can result in substantial and continuing penalties. This is in addition to any interest that is due.

  1. Receive Better Service from Your Accountant

The earlier you get your paperwork to your accountant, the sooner he can start preparing your tax returns. More importantly, there will be more opportunities to explore and implement tax saving strategies. On the other hand, if you file late, you tie your accountant’s hands. For example, he may hesitate to retain profit in your corporation if such profit will be subject to substantial penalties.

  1. Avoid Criminal Charges

Of course, if you don’t file tax returns at all for a few years, you may also face charges of tax evasion.

  1. Prevent Bankruptcy

Generally speaking, persons who don’t file tax returns on a timely basis also lack adequate records for managing their business. Since they don’t keep their bookkeeping and accounting up-to-date, they only think they know how they’re doing and how they stand financially. This, of course, is a recipe for financial disaster.

  1. Enjoy Better Relations with Tax Authorities

Late filers also receive the unwanted attention of the taxation departments. Non-compliance can result in audits, aggressive collection action and legal proceedings. In addition, if you ever do have extenuating circumstances that might call for some leniency or extraordinary consideration on the part of the tax department, you are more likely to receive it if you have a flawless history of co-operation and compliance.

  1. Obtain Financing

You’ll have difficulty obtaining financing if you can’t provide your financial institution with current income information. Assessment Notices from taxation authorities give banks more assurance that the income claims you make are true. As well, if you haven’t filed your current income tax returns, what hidden tax liabilities exist? What is the state of your record-keeping? How do you run your business without adequate financial information? Your bank may hesitate to loan you money or refinance under these circumstances.

  1. Reduce Stress and Worry

Many people who are late filing their tax returns feel guilty about it. At the back of their minds, they worry about taxation authorities contacting them, audits, asset seizures, criminal prosecution, penalties and interest, and so on. Some of these worries can become magnified beyond what the actual situation warrants. Save yourself unnecessary stress by filing your income tax returns on time.

By following these simple steps, you can have confidence in finding an accountant who will work hard to help you direct your company into a positive direction for financial growth and expansion.  

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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How COVID-19 will Affect your 2020 Tax Filing

The COVID-19 pandemic already affected the way you filed your taxes for last year by extending the deadline from April 15 to July 15. The virus will continue to impact the way you file your taxes in 2021 and the CARES Act introduces some circumstances for which people may not be prepared.

Some of those changes can be beneficial, while others may result in a nasty surprise. Be prepared for an additional push to e-file if you don’t already. It takes longer for the IRS to process paper returns. E-filing will help protect against identity theft and you’ll get your refund quicker.

Change in Tax Liability

Loss of jobs, unemployment benefits, or increased hours for essential workers will result in significant income differences over previous years. You can easily find yourself in an entirely new tax bracket.

Charitable Deductions

Even if you don’t itemize deductions, the CARES Act enables anyone to claim a charitable deduction up to a maximum of $300. You’ll need to provide records for any charitable deduction you claim.

Mortgages

Relief was provided for home mortgage holders due to the pandemic. The result was that many individuals paid less in interest, meaning there will be a smaller amount of mortgage interest to deduct. Unfortunately, if your mortgage debt was cancelled due to a foreclosure, the cancelled amount may be considered taxable income if you don’t qualify for an exception to exclude the cancelled debt.

Retirement Withdrawals

For those that had to dip into their retirement accounts to survive the pandemic, the CARES Act removed the 10 percent penalty, providing you’re under 59.5 years old. You can also spread the tax liability over three years. If you pay back the account, you can file an amended tax return to recoup the money you paid on the distribution.

Self-Employed

The IRS has moved some of the deadlines for estimated tax payments for those that are self-employed. You don’t have to wait until the deadline to pay if you have the money available, but it’s beneficial if you need a little extra time.

Stimulus Payments & Unemployment

If you received the $1,200 stimulus payment, it won’t be considered taxable income. However, unemployment benefits are still taxable and it can lead to a very unpleasant surprise for individuals that received the extra $600 per week unemployment benefits in addition to their regular benefits. The full amount of your unemployment benefits will be taxable at the federal level and in all but 15 states.

Student Loans

The CARES Act also provided temporary relief of student loan payments. If you paid less interest on your student loan, you’ll have less interest that can be deducted from your income taxes.

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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Advantages of Completing your Taxes Early

Tax time is stressful, even if you’re going to receive a refund. The anxiety that accompanies filing yearly income taxes leads many to wait until the last minute to even begin gathering the records they need. There are actually a number of benefits to conquering the fear and filing your taxes early.

Quicker Refunds

Filing as soon as possible means you’re going to receive any refund faster. That’s especially true if you file electronically. There’s a significant difference in the time it takes to process a paper return than one that’s e-filed. Filing early also increases the accuracy of your return.

Extra Time to Pay

If you do owe money to the IRS, finding out early gives you extra time to pay them. You can submit your tax return early, but you don’t have to have the money to the IRS until the filing deadline in mid-April.

Information for Planning

If you have kids that will be attending college and they rely on your income to apply for financial aid, filing early gives you that crucial data. Tax return information is also utilized for other purposes such as financial pre-approval for purchasing a home.

Avoid Extensions and Interest

You may very well need the services of a tax professional to file your taxes if you wait until the deadline is near. The closer it is to the filing deadline, the more difficult it will be to schedule an appointment with a tax preparer.

You may also need to file an extension if you wait. Doing so will give you additional time to plan on how to pay the IRS what you owe. However, if the amount isn’t paid in full, the IRS can charge you interest and penalties until the balance is fully paid off.

Identity Theft

Scammers file billions in fraudulent tax returns every year, robbing people of the refunds to which they’re entitled. Filing early helps prevent someone from submitting a tax return in your name and getting your refund.

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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The Importance of Keeping Good Records

Every business owner knows the value of maintaining accurate records for tax purposes, but keeping good records also provides individuals with a measure of the health of their enterprise. It doesn’t matter if it’s a brick and mortar store or operated completely online through e-commerce, good record keeping is critical.

It’s recommended that individuals keep pertinent records for three years and that includes tax returns. Most business owners envision boxes and file cabinets full of paper documents and that can seem overwhelming. Welcoming the digital age and appropriate software programs into a business will eliminate the clutter and keep records immediately available should they be needed for any contingency.

Keeping good records provides business owners with the knowledge required to know if their endeavor is failing or flourishing. It also tells them which products are selling well, where their largest expenditures are, and any areas where changes may need to be made.

Business owners have a legal obligation to maintain full and accurate records about their enterprise. They’ll need those records if they’re audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or asked to explain any items on their tax returns.

Maintaining detailed records enables individuals to prove income, deductible expenses for tax purposes, and make projections about their tax liability. Those records will also be utilized to prepare a variety of financial statements and balance sheets that will be essential when working with banks and creditors.

Good record keeping allows business owners to ascertain where the majority of purchases are originating, along with the reliability of the vendors with which they regularly conduct business. The receipts provide a record of who pays promptly and who doesn’t.

All of those records provide a health check on the business, allowing owners to make critical decisions about issues such as expansions, new product lines, vendors, and employees. Keeping good records is the key to operating any business more efficiently, effectively, and profitably.

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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Tips for Preventing a Tax Audit

Despite what individuals may have been told in the past, an audit by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) isn’t random. The IRS utilizes a state-of-the-art software program to flag tax returns for auditing. The software is called Discriminate Income Function (DIF). It flags returns for investigation by comparing the deductions an individual or business takes compared to others that are within the same income bracket.

There’s no reason taxpayers should be afraid to take the deductions to which they’re legally entitled, as long as they have the appropriate documentation to support what they’re claiming. There’s no foolproof way to be protected against an IRS audit, but there are steps individuals can take to minimize the potential.

Targeting Factors

Some jobs, careers, tax brackets, and geographical locations are more likely than others to be targeted for an audit, along with the very rich and the very poor. Individuals with an annual income of less than $25,000 have an audit rate of about 0.69 percent, a figure that’s 50 percent higher than all others.

Areas with a large African-American, Hispanic, Native American, and poor population are audited more. People that regularly receive tips such as hairdressers, waitresses, and bartenders are audited with more frequency, along with accountants, doctors, and attorneys that typically keep their own books. It’s a good idea for anyone in these categories to avoid miscellaneous deductions.

Self-Employed & Small Business

Small businesses and the self-employed are favorite IRS targets. Many choose to incorporate or form a limited liability company as they’re audited less often. File any pertinent worksheets, avoid amendments, know when to file, and hire a professional to prepare tax returns.

Know What’s Questioned

Keeping exemplary records is critical. Home office deductions, medical expenses, casualty losses, and business costs for travel, entertainment, and meals are some of the most often questioned.

Neatness Counts

Being neat really does make a difference. Returns that are difficult to read or have blank lines are more likely to be audited. It’s better to use a zero on a line than to leave it blank.

Do the Math

Use a calculator, double check the math, and make sure federal and state returns match. For those that use online tax preparation software, if it says there’s a problem and something needs to be revisited – pay attention.

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

Reduce Your Chance for a Tax Audit

Everyone fears the dreaded tax audit – and with good reason. It means that the algorithm scoring formula used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has found what it deems to be an irregularity on your tax return. Few audits turn out well for the individual or small business being questioned and the following are just a few of the ways that people can help mitigate the chance of being audited.

Hire a Professional

Nothing can compare to the personalized service and expertise available with a tax professional. It’s tempting to use online tax software. It’s easy and convenient, but the software may not be able to account for special circumstances and you may be leaving money on the table that could go in your pocket. Hire a professional if your tax return is complicated or complex in any way.

File on Time

Seeking an extension or filing an amended return can activate you for review by IRS systems, particularly for high-end earners. The same is true for those that file paper returns. It’s always best to e-file and makes sure they’re filed before the deadline.

Documentation

When dealing with the IRS, documentation is everything. If there’s a chance that the IRS may not understand expenses you’ve claimed or deductions, the onus will be on you to provide documentation to prove your right to make the claims. A professional tax preparer will know what documentation you’ll need.

Deductions

Another instance that will red-flag your tax return is the deduction-to-income-ratio. Deduction amounts that are unusually high compared to stated income may be a symptom of claiming the same deductions twice in the eyes of the IRS. Stay away from dubious deductions.

Exemptions

A high number of exemptions and dependents will bring unwarranted attention from the IRS. There are specific rules about what dependents are eligible for you to claim. For example, in some instances, a dependent may be required to file their own return, which means you can’t claim them.

Compliance

Remaining in compliance with your responsibilities in regard to withholding taxes, filing status, deductions, and exemptions will significantly reduce the potential for a tax audit. If you do get audited, having a professional file your tax return will ensure you have knowledgeable backup should you need it.

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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What is a Sole Proprietorship?

A sole proprietorship is the business or an individual who has decided not to carry his business as a separate legal entity, such as a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company. This kind of business is not a separate entity. Any time a person regularly provides services for a fee, sells things at a flea market or engage in any business activity whose primary purpose is to make a profit, that person is a sole proprietor. If they carry on business activity to make profit or income, the IRS requires that you file a separate Schedule C “Profit or Loss From a Business” with your annual individual income tax return. Schedule C summarizes your income and expenses from your sole proprietorship business.

 

As the sold proprietor of a business, you have unlimited liability, meaning that if your business can’t pay all its liabilities, the creditors to whom your business owes money can come after your personal assets. Many part-time entrepreneurs may not know this, but it’s an enormous financial risk. If they are sued or can’t pay their bills, they are personally liable for the business’s liabilities.

 

A sole proprietorship has no other owners to prepare financial statements for, but the proprietor should still prepare these statements to know how his business is doing. Banks usually require financial statements from sole proprietors who apply for loans. A partnership needs to maintain a separate capital or ownership account for each partner. The total profit of the firm is allocated into these capital accounts, as spelled out in the partnership agreement. Although sole proprietors don’t have separate invested capital from retained earnings like corporations do, they still need to keep these two separate accounts for owners’ equity – not only to track the business, but for the benefit of any future buyers of the business.

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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Should I Itimize my Deductions?

When you finally decide it is time to prepare your taxes, the first question is whether you should itemize your deductions or take the standard deduction provided by the IRS.

Tax deductions are a very simple part of a theoretically simple tax reporting system. If you’ve ever prepared your own taxes, you know this simply isn’t true. Complicated tax forms can be a nightmare to fill out. Ever helpful, the IRS gives you an option of just taking a standard deduction instead of itemizing your deductions. So, what should you do?

The standard deduction is the easiest method because it requires no calculations or supporting documentation of any sort. You figure out your adjusted gross income and simply submit the amount for your classification. The amount differs based on whether you are filing as single, married, older than 65 or have kids.

Many people scoff at the mere idea of taking the standard deduction. As with all tax issues, deciding whether to take the standard deduction isn’t so easy. If you have a fairly simple financial life and don’t have many deductions, the standard deduction is almost always the best choice. For instance, if you make $45,000 as an employee of a company, rent a residence and don’t have any major medical bills or losses, the standard deduction is probably going to save you more money than itemizing. Unfortunately, you can never be sure until you take a stab at itemizing your deductions in a rough draft of a tax return.

Itemizing your deductions is exactly what it sounds like. You literally go through your records and categorize every possible deduction. These deductions are then subtracted from your adjusted gross income to get a final figure from which tax is determined using the tax tables. Itemizing is the way to go if you have significant tax deductions or tax credits in your financial life. For instance, you almost always want to itemize if you own a home as mortgage interest can be deducted. Generally, you want to itemize if you own a home, have significant medical bills, can claim a tax credit or suffered some type of major loss. Obviously, there are other situations where itemizing makes sense, but this gives you an idea of the situation.

If you have a simple financial situation, claiming the standard deduction may be the answer. If life is a bit more complicated, itemizing is probably going to save you more on your tax bill.

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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Electronic Tax Preparation Options

Just in time for tax season you will find yourself presented with this years editions of popular tax preparation programs that promise to make tax filing a breeze for the average person.  Which one is right for you and what are some of the most popular electronic tax filing solutions?  Read on as we discuss your tax preparation options and explore the popularity of electronic tax filing.

What to look for in choosing a tax preparation solution? Newcomers should look for software that takes a step by step approach throughout the digital tax preparation interview and one that presents interview topics that are easy to understand and answer.

One of the most useful features of tax preparation software is that it lets you play around with your figures and try out hypothetical situations.  Many of the top programs also come with importing features that allow the user to import data from other programs directly into the tax preparation software.

Because of their ability to do extensive calculations and other automated checks, electronic tax preparation and filing is reported to have only a small error rate of less than 1 percent.  In fact, using tax preparation software will almost always result in a more complete and more accurate tax return.

With the growing popularity of high-speed Internet connections and advances in Internet security, more and more tax preparation is being done online. Using online income tax preparation services has proven to be secure, easy and accurate.  With an explosion in online resources at your fingertips, the taxpayer can do a job equal to that of a professional.

Either way, it’s clear that electronic tax preparation has really taken off and become quite popular. Its because of these benefits that once again this year, taxpayers will be turning to tax software to help them prepare and file their taxes. Did you know that you can even prepare and e-file your taxes wherever and whenever you access the Internet?  The IRS Free File program, which is designed to help taxpayers file their taxes electronically, is best for those taxpayers who prepare their own taxes and still file paper returns.  It is also important to note that if you are filing taxes for prior years, you are not eligible to file electronically.

By doing taxes online, you are empowered to prepare and e-file your own income tax return.  And, like doing banking online, doing your taxes online is easy, fast, accurate, as well as very secure.  If you’re considering doing your taxes online, why not give it a try this year?  While it still isn’t a blast, doing your own taxes will give you a feeling of accomplishment.

Like most people, your likely dreading the task of doing your taxes that and maybe you would like to make it easier this year.  With some prior planning, you can make doing your taxes a lot less dreadful and can help avoid any unpleasant surprises.

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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