Posts Tagged "expenses"

Tax records – What you should keep

Posted on Feb 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when you are getting ready to sort out last year’s financial records and prepare for this year’s recordkeeping. Do you know what you should keep and what can you throw away? Here are some suggestions. Keep records that directly support income or expense items on your tax return. For income, this includes W-2s, 1099s, and Form K-1s. Keep records of any other income you have received from other sources. It’s also a good idea to save bank statements and investment statements. Keep documentation that supports all itemized deductions you claim. This includes acknowledgments from charitable organizations and backup for taxes paid, mortgage interest, medical deductions, work expenses, and miscellaneous deductions. Even if you don’t itemize, keep records of child care expenses, medical insurance premiums if you’re self-employed, and any other deductions that appear on your return. The IRS can audit you routinely for three years after you file your return or the tax due date, whichever is later. But in cases where income is underreported, they can audit for up to six years. So, to be safe, consider keeping your tax records for up to seven years. 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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Track use of your vacation home to maximize tax breaks

Posted on Jul 23, 2015

If you own a vacation home (some boats and recreational vehicles also qualify) that you also rent out to others, keep track of who uses it during the year to maximize your tax breaks. Meet the rules and receive tax-free income. If your home is rented for 14 or fewer days during the year, you don’t have to report the income. You can generally deduct mortgage interest and real estate taxes as itemized deductions, but you can’t deduct any other rental expenses. Limit your personal use, and deduct all your rental expenses. If you limit your personal use to not more than 14 days or 10% of the time the home is rented, all rental expenses are deductible. Offset your rental income with your rental expenses. If you use the property for more than 14 days or 10% of the number of days it’s rented, the rules change. Your rental deductions (except for taxes and mortgage interest) are limited to the amount of your rental income. Example: You stayed in your vacation home 20 days last year. It was rented at fair market value for 190 days. In this example, your personal use exceeded the 10% limit (19 days). Your rental deductions are limited to the rental income you received. Convert the property to your residence, and the gain when you sell may be tax-free. If you use your vacation home as your principal residence for two out of the five years before you sell it, you may exclude up to $250,000 of gain ($500,000 for married couples) from your income. However, you will have to pay tax on gain to the extent of certain depreciation previously taken after May 6, 1997. The rules are complex, but a basic understanding of the rules and good recordkeeping will help you get the best tax breaks from your vacation home. Give us a call if you would like more information. 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 the McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates specializes 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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IRS reminds taxpayers about education credits

Posted on Oct 7, 2014

With schools back in session, the IRS has issued a reminder to taxpayers not to overlook available tax credits for education expenses. Tax credits are applied directly against the income tax you owe. Two available credits: the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and the Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC). The AOTC can be up to $2,500 annually for an eligible student and is 40% refundable. That means you could get money back when the credit exceeds your tax bill. The maximum LLC is $2,000 and is not refundable. You can claim only one type of education credit per student each year. 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 the McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates specializes 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+ <https://plus.google.com/108764776146415485651/posts> , LinkedIn <http://www.linkedin.com/in/gillilandcpa> , Facebook <https://www.facebook.com/gillilandcpa> , and Twitter...

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Know the tax rules for selling online

Posted on Jul 1, 2014

Selling items on eBay and other online auction Web sites has become a very popular way to get rid of unwanted household stuff, as well as a way to turn a little profit. Many users have even started full-time businesses auctioning merchandise on the Web. But like any business venture, selling items in the virtual world has tax implications that are all too real. From a tax standpoint, casual selling on eBay is essentially the same as holding a garage sale. If you sell an item for less than you paid for it, you cannot deduct the loss. When you sell something for a profit, however, you must report it on your tax return. Long-term gains on the sale of collectibles, such as artwork, antiques, or rare coins, are taxed by as much as 28%. Profit is the difference between the selling price and your “basis” in the item. In most cases, basis is simply the amount you paid for it. Inherited items generally have a basis equal to their fair market value at the time of receipt. If the basis cannot be documented, it becomes zero, and you pay tax on the entire selling price. Online selling activity can reach the point where it is deemed to be a business venture. Status as a for-profit eBay business versus a casual online seller is not clearly defined. Factors considered by the IRS include the amount of time you spend selling online and whether you conduct yourself like other self-employed business owners, such as keeping accounting records and advertising your services. The good news is that if you are treated as a business, you can deduct expenses related to your selling activity. The downside to business status is that profits from selling online may be subject to self-employment tax. What’s more, depending on where you live, you may have to deal with sales taxes. Taxpayers who operate like a business, but rarely show a profit, may be treated as hobbyists. In this scenario, losses can only be deducted to the extent of gains. Whether you are an infrequent user of online auction sites, or an all-out eBay business owner, you cannot afford to ignore the tax implications of selling online. For the details you need to avoid tax problems, call our office today. 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 the McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates specializes 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+ <https://plus.google.com/108764776146415485651/posts> , LinkedIn <http://www.linkedin.com/in/gillilandcpa> , Facebook <https://www.facebook.com/gillilandcpa> , and Twitter...

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Emergency savings: How much is enough?

Posted on Mar 4, 2014

We all need an emergency fund, but what’s considered “an emergency?” Any unexpected hit to your finances, including layoffs, unanticipated illnesses, and natural disasters. Car insurance premiums and regular home maintenance are (or should be) anticipated, so they’re not emergencies. The same is true of credit card bills for vacations and visits to the dentist’s office. An emergency fund is designed to keep your life intact during temporary setbacks and to help you avoid unnecessary debt. How much emergency savings is enough? In general, your emergency fund should cover three to six months of expenses. How much you’ll need will vary based on your financial situation, including the vulnerability of your income. For example, a one-earner household is more vulnerable than a two-earner household when it comes to paychecks. So the one-earner family generally should set aside more for emergencies. Or if you don’t have disability insurance, you might consider setting aside a bigger balance in an emergency account. Some companies provide payment for accrued vacation and/or sick leave to laid off employees. If your company provides such benefits and you maintain significant balances in these accounts, you may not need as much in an emergency fund (at least to help you weather an unexpected layoff). Another factor to consider is your ongoing debt payments. Putting excess cash toward high interest credit card balances might make more sense than funding a savings account that earns four percent interest. Also, in a true emergency some spending can be reduced and postponed, such as retirement plan contributions, vacations, and entertainment. Ask yourself, “How much will I need to cover my minimum monthly expenses without resorting to credit cards or lines of credit?” That’s a good starting point for determining how much to set aside in an emergency fund. Once you have a savings goal in mind, don’t wait. You can start small and increase contributions as you receive pay increases or windfalls. The money should be liquid – easy to get at – so don’t put it in investments with withdrawal penalties. A savings or money market account is a great place to set aside cash for a rainy day. Then post a sign on the account: “Use only in case of emergency.” 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 the McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates specializes 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+ <https://plus.google.com/108764776146415485651/posts> , LinkedIn <http://www.linkedin.com/in/gillilandcpa> , Facebook <https://www.facebook.com/gillilandcpa> , and Twitter...

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