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audit

Important Audit Advice

Oh no! You need audit advice. You just received in the mail a notification that you are going to be audited by the IRS. What now? How do you respond to this and should you be having a heart attack now? While many people lose it as soon as they realize that the IRS is going to be asking for their records and proof, the fact of the matter is that the best audit advice is to stay calm and gather the information that you need carefully, accurately and without worry. 

Make a Call

Before you put it to the side and decide to deal with it later, (it won’t go away by the way) take the time to respond to it. Give the IRS a call and find out what is going on and when they want to come and see your paperwork. This simple phone call can help you find the right information before you react the wrong way. Remember, it’s not the fault of the lady on the other side of the phone, that this is yours either. So, be nice, play fair and be honest. 

Need more Time?

Do you need some extra time to get your information in order? Need to dig out that box, organize it and hope that it’s all there? Then make sure to ask for a postponement of the audit. This audit advice is very important: don’t wait until the last minute to do it either! Call them up and ask for a small delay so that you can get things in order. Simple, done. 

Don’t Panic

Lastly, it is important to realize that most audits are simply needed because of minor errors. You added or subtracted wrong. You entered the wrong information on the wrong line. That type of thing occurs every day. This audit advice is to be honest about what is happening with you. So, you made a mistake. Fix it by providing a good attitude to the IRS auditor that comes to see you.

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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Your Tip Earnings and Taxes

The internal revenue service takes a very simple approach to tips. It views all tips you make in your job as taxable income that must be reported and for which taxes must be paid. Put another way, the IRS has a simple but brutal view towards taxes.

Now tips come in different forms. Some are received directly from customers while others are automatically added to the customer’s bill. The IRS takes the position you must report and pay taxes on both amounts. This also includes taxes you earn through any group splitting where all tips are collected together and then split amongst the employees. On top of this, the IRS also takes the view that any non-cash tips such as tickets to something are also income that should be reported and taxes paid on. Put another way, the internal revenue services gets you coming and going. 

To make things a little more brutal, the internal revenue service requires you to take some steps in reporting tips. If your tips total $20 or more in any calendar month from a single job, you are supposed to report the total to the employer by the 10th day of the next month. The employer is then supposed to withhold federal income tax, social security and Medicare taxes from your paycheck. Keep in mind that the failure to do so can lead to the placement of a 50 percent penalty on your taxes. Obviously, the IRS is fairly serious about getting its money. 

Tips paid to waitresses, bartenders, barbacks and so on are a hot spot with the IRS and always have. Since tips tend to be given in cash form, the potential for forgetting to report them is particularly high. The IRS seems to think so and has shown a generally aggressive attitude on the subject. If you indicate you are a waitress or bartender on your tax return, but fail to report any tip income, it could be audit time.

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 Dependent For Tax Purposes?

What are the qualifying characteristics of a dependent for tax purposes? Following is a general explanation on how to determine dependents, and how it relates to your tax status, liability and the credits you can claim on your tax return.

There are a few assessments that a person must pass in order to qualify as a dependent on a U.S. tax return. For starters, individual must be the taxpayer’s child, stepchild, foster child, sibling or stepsibling, or a relative of one of these, and the individual must live at the taxpayer’s residence for greater than 6 months of the tax year. There are exceptions for children of divorced parents, kidnapped children, and for children who were born or died during the year. 

The individual must be under the age of 19, or 24 if a full-time student. Finally, the individual must not have contributed more than one-half toward his or her own support during that year in order to qualify as a dependent. Other qualifying points include, U.S. citizenship and single status or married filing as a single person. 

If the individual fulfills all of these requirements, then any of the applicable deductions, exemptions, and credits can be used for them. Some of these include dependent daycare expenses, child tax credits, medical expenses, earned income credit, and various itemized deductions. Determining eligibility often means the difference between owing money to the government and receiving a refund from them. 

The child and dependent care expenses cover things like daycare, after school programs, private childcare services, etc. Any qualifying children the child and dependent care expenses must be under the age of 13. 

The child tax credit is similar to the earned income credit because it is a straight credit. Taxpayers with a qualifying dependent that is under 17 years old may only take the child tax credit. 

Determining if you have any dependents that you can claim on your annual tax return might take a little work, but it can be well worth it in the long run. You could be rewarded with a nice tax refund, thanks to the credits, exemptions, and deductions that your dependent(s) will give you the opportunity to claim.

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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When to Use a Certified Public Accountant

A Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, can help you make sure that your small business accounting or individual taxes are accurate and complete.  Some businesses are small enough, such as home-based businesses, that a Certified Public Accountant is not needed for most accounting tasks.  However, there are times when a business or individual should use a Certified Public Accountant.

If you have a small business, and you have discovered that an error in your bookkeeping exists, it can often be difficult to locate where and when the error was made to correct the mistake.  A Certified Public Accountant has special training and education to find these errors through an external audit process.  It is vital that these errors be corrected because the books you use in your business are used to determine taxes and business decisions. 

These records also allow investors to see how well your business is doing so that you can get more backing to help your business grow.  A Certified Public Accountant can find and correct any errors in your bookkeeping, and help you organize your bookkeeping so that you or the Certified Public Accountant can easily generate financial statements and reports.  These financial statements and reports prepared by a Certified Public Accountant are the documents that most banks and investors want to see before making any financing decisions.

If you are starting up a home-based or small business, you should seek the guidance of a Certified Public Accountant.  The Certified Public Accountant can help you set up a double-entry method of accounting with a journal and ledger, as well as a chart of accounts to help you use these tools effectively in your business.  The Certified Public Accountant can also advise you as to what taxes you will be responsible for paying throughout the year.  Quarterly taxes are often required of businesses and self-employed individuals.  To avoid penalties, late fees, and a large tax bill at the end of the year, you should contact a Certified Public Accountant for this information.

Any individual that is self-employed should seek out the services of a Certified Public Accountant when it is time for tax return preparation.  Tax laws change every year, and a Certified Public Accountant can help you make sure that you are receiving all of the deductions you have available as a self-employed individual.

Any individual with children, who is separated or newly divorced, or who may wish to itemize deductions based on mortgages, medical expenses, and charitable contributions should also seek out a Certified Public Accountant for assistance in income tax preparation.  This is because the tax laws are very complex, and change often.  If you make a mistake and claim a deduction that you could not legally claim, the IRS may audit your return and cause you to pay back the refund amount, with penalties.  Additionally, if you make a mistake and do not claim a deduction that you could legally claim, the IRS will not attempt to correct the mistake, causing you to receive a smaller refund.  Either way, you lose money.  The best way to avoid these and other errors is to have a Certified Public Accountant prepare your 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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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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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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Why Tax Filing Status Matters

Federal tax returns are never fun to complete. Their complex and convoluted nature causes serious stress and even fear in those trying to do their own taxes – even with online tax services. Getting as much of a refund as possible while reducing tax liability is the goal and it begins with the question of filing status.

Filing status is extremely important as it affects the filer’s tax bracket and the amount they’ll owe. Filing status also determines how much – if any – refund that will be received and the deductions and credits for which individuals are eligible. The more deductions and credits for which an individual or family qualifies, the less their tax liability will be. Individuals can file as:

  • Single
  • Head of Household
  • Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child
  • Married Filing Jointly
  • Married Filing Separately

Single

Unmarried people on Dec. 31, those whose divorce was finalized before that date, and people that have never been married can claim this status. It can reduce tax liability for individuals with children, providing certain conditions are met.

Head of Household

Filing in this category lowers the tax rate and provides a higher standard deduction for single filers. As a head of household, individuals will need to have a higher income than a single filer before they owe income taxes.

Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child

Men or women filing this way receive a higher standard deduction and lower tax rate. It can be taken for two years following the death of a spouse, provided they remain single. The filer must have a dependent child, stepchild, or adopted child and meet income, age, and support requirements. This category and married filing jointly offer the highest standard deduction. These filers may also qualify for tax breaks on investments.

Married Filing Jointly

Filers in this category can help couples qualify for a lower tax bracket, less tax liability, and may even net a refund. There are a number of credits and deductions that can be taken, especially with dependent children that aren’t available to single filers or married couples filing separate returns.

Married Filing Separately

This can be beneficial if one spouse earns significantly less money than the other. The individual making less may then be eligible to benefit from certain deductions of which the other spouse may not qualify.

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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Tax Saving Tips for Millennials

Many Millennials are struggling when it comes to their taxes. They don’t have access to the wide variety of tax deductions that their parents have been claiming for years. They’re at a unique point in their life where they’ve just graduated, started a new job, or are just struggling with day-to-day expenses. The following are some tax tips specifically for Millennials.

Filing Fees

Anyone that makes less than $64,000 per year is eligible to file for free. The IRS website can lead filers to companies and organizations that provide the online software to complete their federal and/or state taxes and for e-filing.

Education

Students and graduates should write off every possible educational deduction, including a tuition and fees deduction. It could result in a deduction of up to $4,000. To do so, Millennials will need to save every receipt that may apply. Young taxpayers can also claim their student loan interest up to $2,500.

Another deduction is Lifetime Learning Credits. The deduction can be taken for continuing education even after graduation and has the benefit of making individuals more attractive to employers.

Healthcare

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a fund to which a taxpayer can contribute on behalf of their medical expenses. Up to $6,150 can be deposited each year and it’s all tax-free money that can be used toward any medical expense.

Retirement

Millennials should start saving for retirement as soon as possible. A Roth IRA, for example, allows individuals to take money from the original principal without penalties if needed while continuing to yield monetary results.

Working

Expenses associated with moving to start a new job may be deductible as a work-related expense if the relocation is at least 50 miles. For Millennials that may be working from home, a portion of their living space may qualify as a home office and be eligible for the home office deduction.

Amazon, eBay, and Etsy are all great ways to make extra cash and those avenues may qualify as a home business. Some individuals that are working in positions in which they can offer consulting services can change their filer status from employee to entrepreneur, which opens up new savings possibilities when filing.

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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tax deductions

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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