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Do Single People Pay Fewer Taxes Than Married Couples?

The answer is no. In fact, the opposite is true. Single people are taxed at a higher rate than a married couple that file jointly. It’s essentially a penalty for being single. It’s not just something that affects people who are single by choice – it also impacts individuals who are divorced or lose a spouse through death.

Singles pay more over their lifetime in taxes, receive less in Social Security benefits than their married counterparts, and don’t have the luxury of two incomes to pay for life’s necessities or to create a retirement fund. The inequality affects women more than men.

The state of your finances is your responsibility. Diligence in managing, planning and saving for your future is critical at every stage of your life. You’ll need to factor in your Social Security benefits, pensions and other sources of income for retirement.

Don’t let a spouse or partner control your finances without your input. Enlist a financial advisor or accountant to help you identify tax strategies and other means of maximizing your money.

Single people are charged a higher rate on their income taxes than married couples. Child-focused policies are written in favor of married couples and don’t consider single parents. The tax structure in the U.S. also favors couples at upper income levels.

High-income couples have access to shelters, credits and deductions that singles and lower-income people don’t. Tax laws are written with the traditional nuclear family in mind and don’t account for modern family units and living arrangements.

The more people make, the more they’re taxed as they enter higher tax brackets. Couples receive the same amount of tax breaks for both people, even if only one person is working. That’s not true for single people The current system is designed in such a way that a married couple pays less in taxes than 2 unmarried people filing individually.

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 Five IRS Audit Triggers

An IRS audit is one of the most dreaded events on the planet. It fills the heart with dread knowing the potential penalties for even an innocent misreporting or mistake. Each tax return is rated by a computer scoring system called the Discriminant Function System (DIF) System. It rates each return on the potential for change, compared with similar returns.

Income

Failure to report all income from W-2s and 1099s will trigger an audit. Employers must supply workers with a W-2 and they’re also required to provide a copy to the IRS. The same is true for independent contractors that receive a 1099. The IRS knows from employer records that an individual has received the income and failure to report it will result in an audit.

Earned Income Tax Credit

A surprising number of low-income earners are audited each year that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The program has a long history of fraud since taxpayers can receive money back when they claim it. The EITC is designed to help qualifying low- and moderate-income families reduce their tax liability and, in some instances, increase their refund.

Self-Employed

Independent contractors, sole proprietors, and those engaged in the gig economy are a collective group that are highly scrutinized and even the smallest anomaly will trigger the DIF System. It especially looks at income compared to business expenses that are claimed. Individuals are entitled by law to claim allowable work-related expenses, but should be sure they’re actually work related.

Hobby vs Business

The IRS has very clear rules about what qualifies as a hobby and what’s considered a legitimate business. Claiming a hobby as a business allows individuals to claim business expenses, but it doesn’t quality as a business according to the IRS if a net profit hasn’t been reported in the prior 5 years.

High Income

The more money an individual makes, the more loopholes there are in which to hide assets and income. Those with incomes of $1 million are more likely to be audited than other income brackets. If a business suddenly starts posting a significant amount of income or losses, the owners can expect to be audited.

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’s the Difference Between 1099 and W-2?

The U.S. tax system is complicated, complex, and the IRS has hundreds of forms to account for different reporting needs. One of the biggest confusions for individuals is the difference between Form 1099 and the W-2. Both are important, absolutely required, but serve very different purposes.

Form 1099

There are multiple types of Form 1099. The most common is used to report various types of payments that are made by a business or individual that’s not an individual’s regular employer. The person that made the payments completes the appropriate details and sends a copy to the payee and the IRS at tax time.

A Form 1099-MISC is used by the government to report income such as Medicare earnings. It’s also used to report prizes and awards, fishing boat proceeds, medical and healthcare payments, and crop insurance proceeds. Form 1099-MISC is also utilized to report earnings from direct sales of at least $5,000.

W-2

In comparison, individuals complete a W-2 when they start a new job. It tells the employer how much money to withhold in federal, state and Social Security (FICA) taxes from each paycheck. The IRS utilizes that information to track each person’s earnings and income every year from employment. IRS rules state that employers must provide individuals with their W-2 by Jan. 31st of each year.

The form is used each year when an individual files their annual income tax returns. The W-2 shows the amount of any benefits that may have been paid by the employer on an employee’s behalf that encompasses items ranging from health savings accounts (HSA) and number of dependents to insurance benefits.

If there are any errors such as name misspellings, incorrect Social Security number, or an incorrect amount, individuals should contact their employer for a corrected copy of their W-2. Independent contractors should receive a 1099-NEC instead of a W-2.

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 is Mortgage Tax Calculated?

Not to be confused with interest rates on a mortgage or ongoing property taxes to be paid each year, a mortgage recording tax is used to document a loan transaction. It’s a fee that’s paid when someone takes out a mortgage. There are currently eight states that charge a mortgage tax and one of those is Florida. Numerous lending institutions offer online mortgage tax calculators that perform the financial calculations.

Individuals can do the math themselves by taking the total amount being borrowed and dividing it by 100. Then round up that number to the nearest whole number. Local laws may allow for a deduction to reduce the amount.

Florida residents pay 35 cents per $100, based on the amount of debt being incurred on the mortgage. However, that amount can vary among counties and a surtax may also apply. It’s customary for the seller to pay the tax, though that isn’t a mandate. The real estate agent is responsible for securing a check for the amount before the deed is recorded.

Failure to pay the amount promptly can result in the state assessing a monthly penalty fee. A floating interest rate may also be placed on any unpaid document. Parties exempt from the tax include state and federal government agencies, political subdivisions, and Florida counties and municipalities. When an entity is exempt from the tax, the other party must pay it.

Many types of deeds require this documentation, including warranty and quit claim deeds, easements, and contracts for mineral, timber, gas and oil rights. A mortgage tax is also collected if an individual refinances. However, a mortgage reassignment can transfer the original mortgage tax to the new lender. Not all lending institutions will do this, but if the lender agrees to do so, it can save individuals a significant amount of money.

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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Adjusting Your W-4

There are some very good reasons to adjust your withholdings on your W-4. The form tells your employer how much money to keep out of your check for federal income tax. It will have an effect on your tax liability and prevent you from receiving an unexpected tax bill when filing your federal return.

Your W-4 is also critical for preventing a penalty for underpayment. Some people choose to claim every possible withholding, essentially living on less throughout the year to obtain a large refund at tax time. The IRS wants you to reduce your tax bill and have a refund that’s as close to zero as possible.

Life Events

Any time that your life circumstances change, you should complete a new W-4 with your employer. That includes a marriage, divorce or the birth or adoption of a child. Major life events also include buying a house, getting a raise, and contributing to educational funds. Some of those changes will make you eligible for credits on your federal tax return.

Part-Time Employment

If you normally work all year, but get laid off or experience downtime, you’ll need to adjust your withholding to account for those changing circumstances.

Second Job

It doesn’t matter whether you get a part-time job, work the gig economy, run a side hustle, or have a home business, you’ll need to adjust your withholding. There are a great many types of income producing ventures that are viewed as self-employment by the IRS, which makes you liable for income tax on the amount, along with the self-employment tax, Social Security and Medicare.

Spousal Employment

If your spouse gets a new job or changes jobs, they’ll also have to complete a W-4. Any change in income – an increase or a decrease – will have an impact on your income and amount of taxes you owe. Couples need to use both incomes and approximate as closely as possible what they need to claim on their W-4.

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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small business tax

Can You Get Tax Help for Free?

There are dozens of reasons why you need assistance with your taxes, especially if you’re doing them yourself. If you’re one of the millions that prepare their own taxes online, the services offer help in the form of popup windows, but those can be even more confusing and you may want to speak with a real person that’s knowledgeable about your particular circumstances.

You should bear in mind that the IRS was overwhelmed with calls in 2020 and again in 2021. People waited for hours on the phone to have their questions answered. That situation is likely to continue in 2022 and beyond.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

VITA can be found online. You enter your zip code and the distance within which you want to find a volunteer. If you don’t find someone within your search criteria, keep expanding the distance. The online search will provide you with the name of the agency, it’s location and directions for contacting it. VITA help is available at a variety of locations ranging from colleges to community centers.

Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)

To qualify for TCE, you must meet certain criteria. You’ll need to be a senior citizen, disabled, earn moderate or less income, or not be able to speak English very well.

IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center

These are IRS offices where you can search for a location where you can make an appointment to speak with an IRS representative. However, these sites can be 50 miles or more away from your location.

Taxpayer Advocate Center

The service is an independent organization within the IRS. It can be a good resource for those with a financial hardship due to a tax situation, levy or lien.

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program

Operated by the AARP for over 50 years, its focus is on those age 50 and older with a low to moderate income, though technically they offer help to any taxpayer.

MilTax Program

This is for current military personnel, a spouse or dependent child of someone in the military, or those who have served in the past. The organization offers help over the phone 24/7 and appointments can also be scheduled for MilTAX at a VITA office.

Local Services

Each year libraries and community centers in almost every town offers services provided by volunteers to help individuals with their tax-related questions. Some offer tax preparation seminars and workshops.

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 the Penalty for Not Paying Taxes?

Individuals that don’t pay their taxes in full by the deadline of April 15 each year are subject to a monetary penalty. The IRS can charge up to 6 percent interest on the unpaid balance and may choose to add a late payment penalty of 0.5 to 25 percent. Individuals that don’t pay their taxes are digging themselves a financial hole that can be almost impossible to escape.

Notices about the unpaid balance will begin to arrive and the letters will take on a more severe tone the longer a taxpayer ignores them. The IRS may place a tax lien against any property and financial assets that the person owns. The IRS will then be entitled to some or all of the money if an asset is sold.

Even if the actions aren’t reported on the taxpayer’s credit report, liens are part of public records. It can affect the person’s ability to maintain security clearance, obtain employment, a credit card or loan. Filing bankruptcy is no guarantee that the lien or tax bill will be dismissed.

The account may be sent to a collection agency for recovery. For those that owe tens of thousands of dollars or more, an individual could receive a visit from a revenue officer. During this time, the IRS may begin seizing assets.

The law says the IRS can take the taxpayer’s vehicle to sell at auction, 401(k) accounts, IRAs and homes. The State Department may get involved and can refuse to renew or issue a passport or revoke an existing passport.

However, what many don’t know is that the IRS generally won’t pursue individuals for unpaid taxes after 10 years, but they might, due to the 10 Year Statute of Limitations. The IRS doesn’t consider it in their best interests or cost effective to continue trying to collect and will wipe it clean from their books. It’s a complicated process that can be temporarily suspended under circumstances and the only one qualified to advise an individual on this is a tax 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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E-File for a Quicker Tax Refund

E-filing a tax return is the quickest and easiest way to get a refund if one is due, prevent identity theft, and arrange for the financial resources required if a balance is owed. Despite the convenience and ease of filing digitally, many still don’t take advantage of the technology even though it has distinct advantages.

E-filing is offered by tax preparers, online tax services, and tax software programs. Filing digitally is an easy way to know if the return has been accepted by federal and state governments and track its progress.

Faster Refund

The biggest motivator for e-filing a tax return is a quicker refund for those that have money coming back. By choosing to file electronically, tax returns arrive quickly and individuals can have the funds deposited directly to their bank, a pre-paid card, or a cash app card. Paper tax returns take longer to arrive at the IRS and requires extra effort on the part of IRS workers to process. A return can take weeks to be processed.

Balance Due

For individuals that owe the IRS, filing early lets them know how much they owe and buys them extra time to come up with the money owed. The amount is due on the filing deadline. If the money owed is readily available, people can opt to have the money automatically withdrawn from their account.

Late Filers

There are those that always procrastinate and wait until the last minute to file their taxes. E-filing ensures that tax returns arrive at the IRS in a timely manner and prevents them from being late.

Avoid Extensions

Filing early can prevent tax payers from the need to apply for an extension. The IRS will charge interest and penalties on any outstanding tax debt until the balance is paid in full.

Identity Theft

The risk of identity theft and having a refund stolen increases the longer tax payers wait to file their return. The instances of fraudulent tax returns continue to increase and all the unscrupulous need to file a return and steal a tax return is an individual’s Social Security number. Tax payers at the highest risk are those that wait until the last minute to file.

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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Can You Use Tax Credits and Tax Deductions?

You can definitely use tax credits and tax deductions to lower the amount of federal income tax you pay. Tax credits directly reduce your tax. Deductions reduce the amount of your taxable income, the taxes you pay and may increase the amount of your refund if you have one coming. However, taking some deductions and credits will depend on which tax bracket you fall within and your personal situation.

Tax Credits and Tax Deductions

Federal income taxes can be complex, even for low-income filers. The Advance Child Tax Credit payments that began in the summer of 2021 is an example. You may have been receiving them, but the amount is half of what the total would be. You can claim the other half when you file your federal income tax return. Corona Virus Impact payments and stimulus payments will also have to be considered.

Tax Credits

There are credits for Earned Income, dependent care, adoption, and the elderly or disabled. There’s a foreign tax credit, those for undistributed capital gains, excess Social Security and RRTA withholdings and retirement savings contributions. You may have a credit if you’re a homeowner or have costs from healthcare and education. Some have limits on the amount that can be claimed.

Deductions

Work deductions are one of the most common types of deductions, enabling you to deduct expenses such as union dues and uniforms, or the use of your car and a portion of your home space if you’re working from home. If you’re part of the gig economy or use an employment app for per-day jobs, you can still take those deductions.

If you use those apps or are part of the gig economy, you should be aware that you’ll be classified as self-employed by the federal government and that means you’ll be paying higher taxes. You’ll be liable for self-employment taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes. The good news is that you can typically claim your earnings on your regular income tax form under “Other Income.”

Tax Preparation

There are a number of good online tax preparation software programs for those that have fairly straightforward tax forms. If your taxes are more complicated, you should definitely seek the services of a professional tax preparer or CPA.

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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Best Ways to Reduce Taxable Income

There are a number of ways that even the average taxpayer can utilize to reduce their taxable income, thereby mitigating their tax burden. Those methods are also available to lower income earners of less than $100,000 per year. The following are just a few of the ways that people can use to lower their taxable income.

Charitable Donations

Taxpayers will need to itemize deductions to take advantage of the credit if they contribute more than $300 in cash or goods. Those with cash donations of $300 or less can also claim the deduction.

Earned Income Credit

Even individuals that aren’t required to pay taxes may qualify for the earned income tax credit (EITC) worth a maximum of $6,660, providing they meet income limits and other criteria. It’s available for single people with no children and married couples with 3 or more children.

Education

Higher education costs can net individuals a $2,500 per person tax credit. Adults that return to school or training can receive a $2,000 credit per year.

Health Care

A flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) sets aside a portion of earnings for out-of-pocket health care expenses and the money is untaxable. FSA contributions are limited to $2,750 per year and HSA contributions are capped at $3,600 per individual.

Home Business

Anyone operating a business from their home can claim a deduction for a portion of their home used as their office, equipment and supplies. The deduction can also be beneficial for individuals that have a side-hustle or are working in the gig economy.’

Military

Active military and military reserve personnel can deduct moving costs associated with a change of duty station.

Mortgage Insurance

Premiums to private mortgage insurance companies can be deducted if deductions are itemized.

Retirement Savings

Employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k) and 403(b) can contribute up to $19,500 and people over 50 can make catch-up contributions. The contributions are made before taxes and don’t count toward taxable income. An IRA serves the same purpose for those that are self-employed, though the contribution amounts are different.

Self-Employment

People that are self-employed can deduct 50 percent of the amount paid from income taxes to compensate them for paying the full amount for Social Security and Medicare taxes. Itemizing deductions isn’t required.

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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