Employee or Independent Contractor? Know the Rules

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All material below original issued by the Internal Revenue Service. If you need help with employment or contracts, business or corporate matters, or business tax optimization, call Kevin M. Sayed, J.D., LL.M. Taxation at Colombo Kitchin Attorneys, 252-321-2020.

Issue Number:    IRS Small Business Week Tax Tip 2017-02

Inside This Issue

The IRS encourages all businesses and business owners to know the rules when it comes to classifying a worker as an employee or an independent contractor.

An employer must withhold income taxes and pay Social Security, Medicare taxes and unemployment tax on wages paid to an employee. Employers normally do not have to withhold or pay any taxes on payments to independent contractors.

Here are two key points for small business owners to keep in mind when it comes to classifying workers:

  1. Control. The relationship between a worker and a business is important. If the business controls what work is accomplished and directs how it is done, it exerts behavioral control. If the business directs or controls financial and certain relevant aspects of a worker’s job, it exercises financial control. This includes:
  • The extent of the worker’s investment in the facilities or tools used in performing services
  • The extent to which the worker makes his or her services available to the relevant market
  • How the business pays the worker, and
  • The extent to which the worker can realize a profit or incur a loss
  1. Relationship. How the employer and worker perceive their relationship is also important for determining worker status. Key topics to think about include:
  • Written contracts describing the relationship the parties intended to create
  • Whether the business provides the worker with employee-type benefits, such as insurance, a pension plan, vacation or sick pay
  • The permanency of the relationship, and
  • The extent to which services performed by the worker are a key aspect of the regular business of the company
  • The extent to which the worker has unreimbursed business expenses

The IRS can help employers determine the status of their workers by using form Form SS-8, Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding. IRS Publication 15-A, Employer’s Supplemental Tax Guide, is also an excellent resource.

 

 

Employers Must File Forms W-2 by Jan. 31 This Year

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All material below original published by IRS. For help with tax law for personal or business matters, call Kevin M Sayed, J.D., LL.M. taxation at 252-321-2020.

Issue Number:  IR-2017-13

The Internal Revenue Service today reminds employers that the due date for filing Forms W-2, the Wage and Tax Statement for their employees for calendar year 2016, is now Jan, 31, 2017. Also, those who hire contract workers and have to file Form 1099-MISC now must file by Jan. 31.

The new deadline applies whether an employer e-files or files a paper Form W-2. Employers who pay an employee $600 or more for the year must file a Form W-2 for each employee with the Social Security Administration.

The new deadline is part of legislation signed into law at the end of 2015 to combat identity-theft related refund fraud.

The Social Security Administration encourages all employers to e-file their Forms W-2 by using its Business Services Online.  Employers who file paper Forms W-2 should file them with the Social Security Administration, Data Operations Center, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18769-0001.

E-filing can save time and effort and helps ensure accuracy. Employers must e-file if they file 250 or more Forms W-2 or W-2c. Employers who are required to e-file but fail to do so may incur a penalty. E-filing can save time and effort and helps ensure accuracy.

The IRS projects that employers will file more than 250 million Forms W-2 this year; the vast majority will be e-filed.

The new rule does not affect the filing deadline for other types of Form 1099 or Forms 1097, 1098, 3921, 3922, or W-2G, which are filed on paper by Feb. 28, 2018, or by April 2, 2018 if filed electronically.

Get Ready to Pay $500 More in Taxes?

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Check out this link below to an article published by Bloomberg and Yahoo Finance. If you are a small business owner and want to learn about ways to save on increases in the social security tax and payroll taxes, and how to save on taxes in general as a small business owner, contact Kevin Sayed, J.D., LL.M. Taxation, at 252-321-2020 with Colombo Kitchin Attorneys. Over 12 million Americans will pay more tax this year on the exact same amount of earning as last year.

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/ready-pay-500-more-taxes-090016482.html

IRS to Strengthen Anti-Fraud Effort with Form W-2 Verification Code

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If you have questions about filing your 2017 taxes, or questions about how to report income, deductions or gifts, contact Kevin M. Sayed at Colombo Kitchin Attorneys, 252-321-2020. All material below originally published by the Internal Revenue Service.

IRS, Partners Move to Strengthen Anti-Fraud Effort with Form W-2 Verification Code

When you get your Form W-2 in early 2017, you may notice a new entry – a 16-digit verification code. This is part of an effort conducted by the Internal Revenue Service to protect taxpayers and strengthen anti-fraud efforts.

The expanded use of the W-2 Verification Code is a way to validate the wage and tax withholding information on the tax form. For taxpayers, taking a moment to add this code when filling out their taxes helps the IRS authenticate the information. This in turn helps protect against identity theft and unnecessary refund delays.

For 2017, the IRS and its partners in the payroll service provider industry will place the code on 50 million Forms W-2. This is up from two million forms in 2016.

The IRS, state tax agencies and the nation’s tax industry – partners in combating identity theft – ask for your help in their efforts. Working in partnership with you, we can make a difference.

That’s why we launched a public awareness campaign that we call Taxes. Security. Together. We’ve also launched a series of security awareness tips that can help protect you from cybercriminals.

One area where we need your help is with the W-2 Verification Code. If your W-2 contains the code, please enter it when prompted if using software to prepare your return. Or, please make sure your tax preparer enters it.

If the code is not included, your tax return will still be accepted. However, initial results indicate the verification code shows promise in reducing tax fraud. It helps IRS processing systems authenticate the real taxpayer. Identity thieves sometimes file false Forms W-2 to support their fraudulent tax returns.

This initiative will affect only those Forms W-2 prepared by payroll service providers. The verification code’s location on the form will vary. Enter the code on electronically filed returns only. Most software providers will prompt you to enter the code.

To learn additional steps you can take to protect your personal and financial data, visit Taxes. Security. Together. Also read Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers.

Share this tip on social media — IRS, Partners Move to Strengthen Anti-Fraud Effort with Form W-2 Verification Code. http://go.usa.gov/x9r7F #IRS

IRS Gives Tax Relief to Victims of Hurricane Matthew

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All material below original published by IRS. For help with tax law for personal or business matters, call Kevin M Sayed, J.D., LL.M. taxation at 252-321-2020.

IRS Gives Tax Relief to Victims of Hurricane Matthew; Many Extension Filers in North Carolina Now Affected; Relief for Other States Expected Soon

Updated 10/14/16 to include Dare, Duplin, Gates, Hyde, Jones, Pender counties.

Updated 10/13/16 to include Greene, Harnett and Sampson counties.

Updated 10/12/16 to include Bertie, Johnston, Wayne and Wilson counties.

IR-2016-131, Oct. 11, 2016

WASHINGTON –– North Carolina storm victims will have until March 15, 2017, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments, with similar relief expected soon for Hurricane Matthew victims in other states, the Internal Revenue Service announced today. All workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization also qualify for relief.

Following this week’s disaster declaration for individual assistance issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the IRS said that affected taxpayers in Beaufort, Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Edgecombe, Hoke, Lenoir, Nash, Pitt and Robeson counties will receive this and other special tax relief. Locations in other states are expected to be added in coming days, based on damage assessments by FEMA.

The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on Oct. 4, 2016. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until March 15, 2017, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. This includes the Jan. 17 deadline for making quarterly estimated tax payments. For individual tax filers, it also includes 2015 income tax returns that received a tax-filing extension until Oct. 17, 2016. The IRS noted, however, that because tax payments related to these 2015 returns were originally due on April 18, 2016, those are not eligible for this relief.

A variety of business tax deadlines are also affected including the Oct. 31 and Jan. 31 deadlines for quarterly payroll and excise tax returns. It also includes the special March 1 deadline that applies to farmers and fishermen who choose to forgo making quarterly estimated tax payments.

In addition, the IRS is waiving late-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due on or after Oct. 4 and before Oct. 19 if the deposits are made by Oct. 19, 2016. Details on available relief can be found on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.

The IRS automatically provides filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in the disaster area. Thus, taxpayers need not contact the IRS to get this relief. However, if an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date falling within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.

In addition, the IRS will work with any taxpayer who lives outside the disaster area but whose records necessary to meet a deadline occurring during the postponement period are located in the affected area. Taxpayers qualifying for relief who live outside the disaster area need to contact the IRS at 866-562-5227.

Individuals and businesses who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (in this instance, the 2016 return normally filed next year), or the return for the prior year (2015). See Publication 547 for details.

The tax relief is part of a coordinated federal response to the damage caused by severe storms and flooding and is based on local damage assessments by FEMA. For information on disaster recovery, visit disasterassistance.gov.

 

Five Tax Tips for Starting a Business

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For business planning and tax advice, or personal and business tax disputes, call Kevin Sayed, J.D., LL.M. Taxation, at 252-321-2020. All materials below originally published by the Internal Revenue Service.

 IRS Tax Tips:

Five Tips for Starting a Business

Understanding your tax obligation is one key to business success. When you start a business, you need to know about income taxes, payroll taxes and much more. Here are five IRS tax tips that can help you get your business off to a good start:

  1. Business Structure. An early choice you need to make is to decide on the type of structure for your business. The most common types are sole proprietor, partnership and corporation. The type of business you choose will determine which tax forms you file.
  2. Business Taxes.  There are four general types of business taxes. They are income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax and excise tax. In most cases, the types of tax your business pays depends on the type of business structure you set up. You may need to make estimated tax payments. If you do, you can use IRS Direct Pay to make them. It’s the fast, easy and secure way to pay from your checking or savings account.
  3. Employer Identification Number (EIN).  You may need to get an EIN for federal tax purposes. Search “do you need an EIN” on IRS.gov to find out if you need this number. If you do need one, you can apply for it online.
  4. Accounting Method.  An accounting method is a set of rules that you use to determine when to report income and expenses. You must use a consistent method. The two that are most common are the cash and accrual methods. Under the cash method, you normally report income and deduct expenses in the year that you receive or pay them. Under the accrual method, you generally report income and deduct expenses in the year that you earn or incur them. This is true even if you get the income or pay the expense in a later year.
  5. Employee Health Care.  The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit helps small businesses and tax-exempt organizations pay for health care coverage they offer their employees. You’re eligible for the credit if you have fewer than 25 employees who work full-time, or a combination of full-time and part-time. The maximum credit is 50 percent of premiums paid for small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid for small tax-exempt employers, such as charities. For more information on your health care responsibilities as an employer, see the Affordable Care Act for Employers page on IRS.gov.

Don’t Forget to Report Certain Foreign Accounts to Treasury by June 30 Deadline

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All material originally published by the Internal Revenue Service. For help with reporting foreign bank accounts, penalty relief, or other tax matters call Kevin M. Sayed, J.D., LL.M. Taxation, at 252-321-2020

Issue Number:    IR-2016-90

Inside This Issue

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Don’t Forget to Report Certain Foreign Accounts to Treasury by the June 30 Deadline

WASHINGTON—The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers who have one or more bank or financial accounts located outside the United States, or signature authority over such accounts that they may need to file an FBAR by Thursday, June 30.

By law, many U.S. taxpayers with foreign accounts exceeding certain thresholds must file Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, known as the “FBAR.” It is filed electronically with the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen).

“Robust growth in FBAR filings in recent years shows we are getting the word out regarding the importance of offshore tax compliance,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Taxpayers here and abroad should take their foreign account reporting obligations very seriously.”

In general, the filing requirement applies to anyone who had an interest in, or signature or other authority over foreign financial accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during 2015. Because of this threshold, the IRS encourages taxpayers with foreign assets, even relatively small ones, to check if this filing requirement applies to them. The form is only available through the BSA E-Filing System website.

In 2015, FinCen received a record high 1,163,229 FBARs, up more than 8 percent from the prior year. FBAR filings have grown on average by 17 percent per year during the last five years, according to FinCen data.

The IRS is implementing the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which mandates third-party reporting of foreign accounts to foster offshore tax compliance. FATCA created a new filing requirement: IRS Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, which is filed with individual tax returns. The filing thresholds are much higher for this form than for the FBAR.

The International Taxpayers page on IRS.gov provides the best starting place to get answers to important questions. The website has a directory that includes overseas tax preparers. International taxpayers will find the online IRS Tax Map and the International Tax Topic Index to be valuable resources.

Six Facts You Should Know Before Deducting a Charitable Donation

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If you need assistance with charitable giving and charitable donations, or non-profits, contact Kevin M. Sayed, J.D., LL.M. Taxation, with Colombo Kitchin Attorneys at 252-353-1096.  All materials below originally published by the Internal Revenue Service.

Issue Number:  IRS Tax Tip 2016-47

Inside This Issue

If you gave money or goods to a charity in 2015, you may be able to claim a deduction on your federal tax return. Here are six important facts you should know about charitable donations.

  1. Qualified Charities. You must donate to a qualified charity. Gifts to individuals, political organizations or candidates are not deductible. An exception to this rule is contributions under the Slain Officer Family Support Act of 2015. To check the status of a charity, use the IRS Select Check tool.
  2. Itemize Deductions. To deduct your contributions, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions. File Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, with your federal tax return.
  3. Benefit in Return. If you get something in return for your donation, you may have to reduce your deduction. You can only deduct the amount of your gift that is more than the value of what you got in return. Examples of benefits include merchandise, meals, tickets to an event or other goods and services.
  4. Type of Donation. If you give property instead of cash, your deduction amount is normally limited to the item’s fair market value. Fair market value is generally the price you would get if you sold the property on the open market. If you donate used clothing and household items, they generally must be in good condition, or better, to be deductible. Special rules apply to cars, boats and other types of property donations.
  5. Form to File and Records to Keep. You must file Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, for all noncash gifts totaling more than $500 for the year. If you need to prepare a Form 8283, you can prepare and e-file your tax return for free using IRS Free File. The type of records you must keep depends on the amount and type of your donation. To learn more about what records to keep see Publication 526.
  6. Donations of $250 or More. If you donated cash or goods of $250 or more, you must have a written statement from the charity. It must show the amount of the donation and a description of any property given. It must also say whether you received any goods or services in exchange for the gift.

 

 

Top 10 Tax Tips about Debt Cancellation

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All material below originally published by the Internal Revenue Service. For help with debt related income, interest income, debt write-offs, or other business or personal debt tax matters, contact Kevin M. Sayed, J.D., LL.M. Taxation at 252-321-2020, at Colombo Kitchin Attorneys.

Issue Number:    IRS Tax Tip 2016-30

Inside This Issue

Top 10 Tax Tips about Debt Cancellation

If your lender cancels part or all of your debt, it is usually considered income and you normally must pay tax on that amount. However, the law allows an exclusion that may apply to homeowners who had their mortgage debt cancelled in 2015. Here are 10 tips about debt cancellation:

  1. Main Home. If the cancelled debt was a loan on your main home, you may be able to exclude the cancelled amount from your income. You must have used the loan to buy, build or substantially improve your main home to qualify. Your main home must also secure the mortgage.
  2. Loan Modification. If your lender cancelled part of your mortgage through a loan modification or ‘workout,’ you may be able to exclude that amount from your income. You may also be able to exclude debt discharged as part of the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. The exclusion may also apply to the amount of debt cancelled in a foreclosure.
  3. Refinanced Mortgage. The exclusion may apply to amounts cancelled on a refinanced mortgage. This applies only if you used proceeds from the refinancing to buy, build or substantially improve your main home and only up to the amount of the old mortgage principal just before refinancing. Amounts used for other purposes do not qualify.
  4. Other Cancelled Debt. Other types of cancelled debt such as second homes, rental and business property, credit card debt or car loans do not qualify for this special exclusion. On the other hand, there are other rules that may allow those types of cancelled debts to be nontaxable.
  5. Form 1099-C. If your lender reduced or cancelled at least $600 of your debt, you should receive Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, by Feb. 1. This form shows the amount of cancelled debt and other information.
  6. Form 982. If you qualify, report the excluded debt on Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness. File the form with your federal income tax return.
  7. IRS.gov Tool. Use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on IRS.gov to find out if your cancelled mortgage debt is taxable.
  8. Exclusion Extended. The law that authorized the exclusion of cancelled debt from income was extended through Dec. 31, 2016.
  9. IRS Free File.  IRS e-file is fastest, safest and easiest way to file. You can use IRS Free File to e-file your tax return for free. If you earned $62,000 or less, you can use brand name tax software. The software does the math and completes the right forms for you. If you earned more than $62,000, use Free File Fillable Forms. This option uses electronic versions of IRS paper forms. It is best for people who are used to doing their own taxes. Free File is available only on IRS.gov/freefile.
  10. More Information. For more on this topic see Publication 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions and Abandonments.

 

Your Social Security Benefits May Be Taxable

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For questions about tax planning, estate and trust planning, or past due taxes and filings, call Kevin M Sayed, J.D., LL.M. Taxation, at 252-321-2020. All material originally published in IRS Tax Tip 2016-18:  Your Social Security Benefits May Be Taxable.

 Your Social Security Benefits May Be Taxable

If you receive Social Security benefits, you may have to pay federal income tax on part of your benefits. These IRS tips will help you determine if you need to pay taxes on your benefits.

  • Form SSA-1099.  If you received Social Security benefits in 2015, you should receive a Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, showing the amount of your benefits.
  • Only Social Security.  If Social Security was your only income in 2015, your benefits may not be taxable. You also may not need to file a federal income tax return. If you get income from other sources you may have to pay taxes on some of your benefits.
  • Free File.  Use IRS Free File to prepare and e-file your tax return for free. If you earned $62,000 or less, you can use brand-name software. The software does the math for you and helps avoid mistakes. If you earned more, you can use Free File Fillable Forms. This option uses electronic versions of IRS paper forms. It’s best for people who are used to doing their own taxes. Free File is available only by going to IRS.gov/freefile.
  • Interactive Tax Assistant.  You can get answers to your tax questions with this helpful tool and see if any of your benefits are taxable.  Visit IRS.gov and use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool.
  • Tax Formula.  Here’s a quick way to find out if you must pay taxes on your Social Security benefits: Add one-half of your Social Security to all your other income, including tax-exempt interest. Then compare the total to the base amount for your filing status. If your total is more than the base amount, some of your benefits may be taxable.
  • Base Amounts.  The three base amounts are:
    • $25,000 – if you are single, head of household, qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child or married filing separately and lived apart from your spouse for all of 2015
    • $32,000 – if you are married filing jointly
    • $0 – if you are married filing separately and lived with your spouse at any time during the year