Real Estate

What’s the average tax refund check?

Posted on Apr 13, 2018

The IRS returned more than $323 billion in tax refunds to taxpayers last year. If you plan on getting a refund this year, have you thought about what you’ll do with it? Whether you plan on paying off credit card debt or using it for home improvements, give us a call to learn about possible tax benefits. 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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Great uses for your tax refund

Posted on Apr 11, 2018

Most Americans get a refund every year, with the average check weighing in at $2,895 last year. Even though it’s really money that they earned, many people are tempted to treat it like a windfall and splurge. If you can resist that temptation, here are some of the best ways to put your refund to good use: Pay off debt. If you have debt, part of your refund could be used to reduce or eliminate it. Paying off high-interest credit card or auto loan debt means freeing up the money you had been paying in interest for other uses. And making extra payments on your mortgage can put more money in your pocket over the long haul. Save for retirement. Saving for retirement allows the power of compound interest to work for you. Consider depositing some of your refund check into a traditional or Roth IRA. You can contribute a total of $5,500 every year, plus an extra $1,000 if you are at least 50 years old. Save for a home. Home ownership can be a source of wealth and stability for many people. If you dream of owning a home, consider adding your refund to a down payment fund. Invest in yourself. Sometimes the best investment isn’t financial, it’s personal. A course of study or conference that improves your skills or knowledge could be the best use of your money. Give to charity. Giving your refund to a charity helps others and gives you a deduction for your next tax return. Don’t give to scammers! Scammers are using a new tactic to separate people from their tax refunds. First, they file fraudulent refunds on behalf of their victims. Then, after a refund check arrives at the taxpayer’s address, they impersonate an IRS agent over the phone and demand to be sent the refund because it was sent in error. Remember, real IRS agents will never call over the phone and demand immediate payment for any reason. If you use some of your refund for one of the ideas here, you can also feel good about setting a little aside for yourself to have some fun! 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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Answers to commonly asked tax questions

Posted on Mar 7, 2018

With all of the headlines about the changes to tax law, you probably have lots of questions. Here are answers to some of the most common questions taxpayers have this year. I’m hearing about a lot of changes to 2018 taxes. What should I do? A. You’re right, there are a lot of changes in 2018 due to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), including to the income tax brackets. The simple answer to the question “What should I do?” is to not make any major changes until you finish filing your 2017 taxes. Once you understand your 2017 tax obligation, you are in a better position to plan for 2018. However, there are a few things you can start thinking about now. Depending on where you fall in the new income tax brackets, you may want to consider ways to lower your taxable income. This could include increasing your contributions to 401(k) retirement accounts or health savings accounts (HSAs). You’ll also want to make sure your employer has adjusted your federal tax withholding so that you don’t have to wait to receive a large refund (or tax bill) next year. You can review the IRS withholding calculator using your latest pay stub data to make sure the changes are accurate. What is the penalty amount if I didn’t have health insurance in 2017? A. The penalty per adult is calculated as the greater of either $695 or 2.5 percent of your yearly household income, up to a maximum of $3,264 for individuals or $16,320 for a family of five or more. Note that the penalty is still in place for tax years 2017 and 2018. The TCJA eliminates the penalty for 2019 through 2025. Is Social Security taxed? A. It depends. You won’t pay tax on more than 85 percent of your Social Security income, but how much gets taxed depends on your income bracket. If your combined income is less than $25,000 for the year, you won’t pay tax on Social Security income. When is the last day to do my taxes? A. Technically, Tuesday, April 17. But don’t wait until the last minute. Ask for help to get started now, or to file an extension so you have time to complete your tax return later. The sooner you file, the sooner you can get your refund. It usually takes about three weeks to arrive from the date you file. Also, remember you need to keep most tax related documents for at least three years, so don’t toss your paperwork after you file. The IRS contacted me, what should I do? A. Ask for help. There are numerous scammers who impersonate the IRS during tax season. The real IRS will never contact you via social media, email or text message. In addition, an IRS agent will not contact you over the phone unless you first receive official correspondence in the mail. If you have received a notice in the mail, immediately ask for help to determine how to proceed. These are just a few of the questions people have during tax season. If you have more, don’t forget to bring them to your 2017 filing appointment. 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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Reduce your property taxes

Posted on Feb 14, 2018

With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, deductions of state, local and property taxes are not worth as much as they used to be. Beginning in 2018, taxpayers are limited to a total of $10,000 in combined state income, sales and property taxes as an itemized deduction. One way you can try to adapt is by lowering your property tax bill. Believe it or not, there is a way. Why you may need a property tax reassessment Property taxes are the revenue lifeblood of cities, counties, school districts and states, and they fluctuate along with house prices. Because local governments are eager to collect more tax revenue, they are quick to get property values assessed higher when times are good. But they aren’t as quick to get values lowered again when the economy falters. As a result, over time your property value tends to creep up without downward corrections. When added to increased property tax rates, your bill today can be much higher than in the past. What you can do about it If you dread the annual letter informing you that your property tax is going to go up again, one thing you can try is to approach your local assessor and ask for a property revaluation. Here are some ideas to successfully reduce your home’s appraised value: Understand process and due dates. Do some homework to understand the approved process to get your property revalued. It is typically outlined on your property tax statement. Understand the deadlines and adhere to them. Assess your property. Do some homework before you call your assessor. Talk to neighbors and honestly assess the amount of disrepair your property may be in versus other comparable properties in your neighborhood. Call a few real estate professionals. Tell them you would like a market review of your property. Try to choose a professional that will not overstate the value of your home hoping to get a listing, but will show you comparable sales for your area. Check the classification. Look at your property classification in the detailed description of your home. Oftentimes errors in this code can overstate the value of your home. For instance, if you live in a condo that was converted from an apartment, the property value could still be based on a non-owner occupied rental basis. Understand first, then clarify your position. Armed with the information you’ve collected, approach the assessor seeking first to understand the basis of their appraisal. Then position your request for a review based on the facts. Do not fall into the trap of defending your review request without first having all the information on your property. Estimate a reasonable value. Suggest a reasonable valuation to the assessor. Assessors are so used to irrational arguments, that they may readily accept a reasonable approach. Get an appraisal, if necessary. If all else fails and you still believe your home is overvalued, consider spending the money for an independent appraisal. This option could be expensive, but can provide a fairly decent defense of your position. You should be able to recoup the cost of the appraisal with many years of lower property taxes. While going through this process, remember to be aware of the pressure that these local tax authorities are under to raise revenue. This understanding can help temper your position and hopefully put you in a better position to have your case heard. 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 say yes to a reverse mortgage until you read this

Posted on Feb 5, 2018

What is a reverse mortgage? As the name implies, a reverse mortgage is the opposite of a traditional mortgage. With a traditional mortgage, you borrow a sum of money to purchase a home and then pay off the debt over time. With a reverse mortgage, you receive loan proceeds (as a lump-sum payout, an annuity, a line of credit or a combination of all three) but make no payments as long as you reside in the property. The loan, with any accrued interest, comes due when you move out or pass away. To qualify for a reverse mortgage you need to be 62 or older, own your residence and generally have significant equity in your home. Unfortunately, reports of abuse regarding aggressive and predatory sales practices are common. Here are a few items to analyze if you’re thinking about a reverse mortgage: Determine if a reverse mortgage is logical for your situation. Evaluate alternatives. Conventional solutions such as a home-equity loan might be a better answer. Consider the financial ramifications. Reverse mortgages can be expensive. Upfront fees are significant. If you stay in your home just a few years, the effective interest rate can be very high. Be wary of bundled sales pitches. Commission-driven salesmen can push life insurance or various annuity products along with a reverse mortgage. You could end up with products you don’t need. If you are considering a reverse mortgage, call us. We can help you determine potential tax issues, plus other alternatives. 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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Consider installment sales for real estate

Posted on Dec 11, 2017

With an installment sale, you may be able to lower your total tax on the sale of the property by spreading the income over several years. In addition, the buyer will typically pay a rate of interest to you on the remainder of the amount due that is higher than a typical bank loan. There are a few tax hiccups that could affect your sale, however. If you sell property to a related party and the property is then disposed of within two years, in most cases all the remaining tax comes due immediately. Give us a call for help avoiding tax traps during your real estate sale. 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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