Credits

Tips to Maximize Your Mileage Deduction

Posted on Jun 27, 2018

Each year standard mileage rates for business travel, medical driving, moving mileage and mileage rates for charitable driving are set by the IRS. Too often this deduction is overlooked because proper documentation was not followed. Here are a few tips to ensure you receive the full benefit of this tax deduction. Tip 1: Track your applicable mileage in an auto log. This log is required to ensure your deduction is not disallowed during the course of an audit. Please make sure the business/charitable/medical purpose, date and distance is clearly noted. Tip 2: Also keep track of parking, tolls and other miscellaneous travel expenses. These can often be deducted in addition to the standard mileage rate. Tip 3: Submit expense reports if your mileage can be reimbursed. Most employers will reimburse you for business mileage at the approved rate, but many employees fail to ask for reimbursement. Remember, your employer can deduct this reimbursed expense on their tax return as well. Tip 4: Keep track of medical miles. Even though you need to surpass a percent of your income prior to taking medical expenses as an itemized deduction, still keep track of qualified medical miles. It often only takes one major medical bill to make all your other excess medical expenses deductible. Tip 5: Plan your business trips to ensure your miles are deductible. Commuting miles to and from work is not deductible. However, if you stop off at a supplier first, then the mileage from the supplier to your workplace is a deductible expense. Tip 6: Do not forget charitable miles. This deduction is one of the most often overlooked deductions. Do you drive for Meals on Wheels or for a school function? Do you volunteer as a coach for a non-profit sporting group? These miles add up over time and are often not properly documented. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter....

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Getting summer help? Classify properly

Posted on Jun 25, 2018

Don’t subject your business to tax penalties by misclassifying employees and independent contractors. You can avoid misclassification by understanding how the law defines employment (we can help you with this), and by creating and following work-habit guidelines. Thoroughly review your work arrangement not only at the beginning of professional relationships, but regularly to ensure both you and your employee are on the same page. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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Parents, Children, and Taxes

Posted on Jun 20, 2018

  Being a parent brings tremendous rewards, but also the challenge and responsibility of supporting and educating your child. Fortunately, the tax code has many ways to help ease a parent’s financial burden. Here’s an overview of the many ways that taxes can affect your decisions as a parent. Exemptions and credits   Being a parent usually cuts your tax bill in at least two ways. You can generally claim a dependency exemption for each child under age 19, or under age 24 for full-time students. You can also claim a child tax credit for each child under age 17. This is a direct credit against taxes you owe, and it can be partially refundable. Other credits include the adoption credit to offset expenses of adoption and the child care credit. This credit allows you to offset some of the costs of paying for child care so that both spouses can work or attend school full-time. Many of these tax breaks phase out for those at higher income levels. Education expenses   One of the biggest challenges for a parent is funding a child’s college education. A variety of tax breaks can help with this major expense, including savings plans, tax credits, and tax deductions. These measures all have different rules and eligibility requirements. There are two main types of savings plans for education expenses: Coverdell education savings accounts and Section 529 plans. Coverdell accounts work rather like an IRA. Contributions grow tax-free, and withdrawals are free of tax if used for qualified education expenses. Coverdell accounts can also be used to pay for K-12 expenses as well as college costs. Section 529 plans provide tax-free earnings and distributions for higher education expenses, and they generally have fewer restrictions than Coverdell accounts. The American Opportunity credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit are two tax credits available for education expenses. Each has its own rules and income limits, and you cannot use both credits for the same child in the same year. A limited tax deduction is available for student loan interest expense. In addition, interest on U.S. savings bonds can be tax-free if the bonds are used for education expenses. Child tax issues   The “kiddie tax” is a rule that affects the investment income of children. A child’s unearned income above a threshold amount will be taxed at the parent’s highest rate until the child reaches a certain age. The intent is to stop a high-income parent from shifting large amounts of earnings to a child in a lower tax bracket. A strategy of “income shifting” can make sense for a family once the child is old enough to escape the kiddie tax. Parents can gift income-earning assets to older children (subject to the annual and lifetime gift limits), and the children will pay tax on the income earned at their own (presumably lower) rates. Another tax-cutting strategy is to employ your child in the family business. The business can take a deduction for wages paid, while the child often pays little or no taxes on his or her earnings. It must be a real job, though, and the wages must be reasonable for the work. If your children have earnings from summer or after-school jobs, encourage them to open IRA accounts. The additional years of tax-free compounding can produce huge additional savings by the time your children reach retirement age. Don’t overlook the role of grandparents. They can help pay college expenses, for example, either by contributing to education savings plans or by paying tuition bills directly. Also, by giving appreciated stock to their grandchildren, they may be able to boost the children’s savings while reducing overall taxes for the family unit. Estate planning   For a parent, estate planning is especially important. The first priority is to make sure your children are protected in the event that something happens to you. Your estate plan should appoint guardians for your minor children, as well as provide for their financial well-being. Early estate planning can also help to ensure that your assets pass to your children as you...

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A new credit for small business owners

Posted on Jun 6, 2018

Starting this year, employers can take advantage of a new credit for paid family and medical leave created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Employers may claim the credit based on wages paid to employees while they are on leave for the birth of a child, a serious health condition, and other family and medical events. The credit is a percentage (ranging between 12.5 percent to 25 percent) of the amount of wages paid to an employee while on family and medical leave for up to 12 weeks. The credit is set to expire after the 2019 tax year, however, so keep this in mind for long-term planning. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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Don’t forget to document your spring cleaning donations

Posted on May 14, 2018

If spring cleaning has left you with items that you want to donate to charity, remember that donations of used clothing and household items must generally meet certain requirements to be tax-deductible. First, such items must be in “good used condition or better.” Second, a receipt from the charity is required. If a receipt is not available (such as at unattended drop-off locations), reliable written records are still required. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter....

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Update on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)

Posted on May 2, 2018

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was passed by Congress in a hurry late last year, and the IRS and tax preparers have been working to digest some of the more thorny issues created by the tax overhaul. Here are the latest answers to some of the most common questions: Is home equity interest still deductible? The short answer is: Not unless you’ve used the money to buy, build or substantially improve your home. Before the TCJA, homeowners were able to take out a home equity loan and spend it on things other than their residence, such as to pay off credit card debt or to finance large consumer purchases. Under the old tax code, they could deduct interest on up to $100,000 of such home equity debt. The TCJA effectively writes the concept of home equity indebtedness out of the tax code. Now you can only deduct interest on “acquisition indebtedness,” meaning a loan secured by a qualified residence that is used to buy, build or substantially improve it. If you have taken out a home equity loan before 2018 and used it for any other purpose, interest on it is no longer deductible. I’m a small business owner. How do I use the new 20 percent qualified business expense deduction? Short answer: It’s complicated and you should get help. Certain small businesses structured as sole proprietors, S corporations and partnerships can deduct up to 20 percent of their qualified business income. But that percentage can be reduced after your taxable income reaches $157,500 (or $315,000 as a married couple filing jointly). The amount of the reduction depends partly on the amount of wages paid and property acquired by your business during the year. Another complicating factor is that certain service industries including health, law, consulting, athletics, financial services and accounting are treated slightly differently. The IRS is expected to issue more clarification on how these rules are applied, such as when your business is a mix of one of those service industries and some other kind of business. What are the new rules about dependents and caregiving? There are a few things that have changed regarding dependents and caregiving: Deductions. Standard deductions are nearly doubled to $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for married joint filers. The code still says dependents can claim a standard deduction limited to the greater of $1,050 or $350 plus unearned income. Kiddie Tax. Unearned income of children under age 19 (or 24 for full-time students) above a threshold of $2,100 is now taxed at a special rate for estates and trusts, rather than the parents’ top tax rate. Family credit. If you have dependents who aren’t children under age 17 (and thus eligible for the Child Tax Credit), you can now claim $500 for each qualified dependent member of your household for whom you provide more than half of their financial support. Medical expenses. You can now deduct medical expenses higher than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. You can claim this for medical expenses you pay for a relative even if they aren’t a dependent (i.e., they live outside your household) as long as you provide more than half of their financial support. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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