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Answers to Common Questions After You File Your Tax Return

Blog(7-Sep)

Many taxpayers have questions after they file their tax returns. The IRS provides answers to many of them. These are a few of the most common.

* How can I check the status of my refund?

You can go online to check on your refund if it has been 24 hours since the IRS would have received your e-filed tax return or four weeks after you mailed your paper return. Go to http://www.irs.gov and click on “Where’s My Refund?” You will need your Social Security number, your filing status, and the amount of your tax refund.

* What records should I keep?

Keep receipts, canceled checks, or other substantiation for any deductions or credits you claimed. Also keep records that verify other items on your tax return (W-2s, 1099s, etc.). Keep a copy of the tax return, along with the supporting records, for seven years.

* What if I discover that I made a mistake on my return?

If you discover that you failed to report some income or claim a deduction or tax credit to which you are entitled, you can correct the error by filing an amended tax return using Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

* What if my address changes after I file?

If you move or have an address change after filing your return, send Form 8822, Change of Address, to the IRS. You should also notify the Postal Service of your new address so that you’ll receive any refund you’re due or any notices sent by the IRS.

For answers to other tax questions you may have, give us a call.

For More Information, Visit: Accountants in New Jersey | QuickBooks Consultant

Considering Paying for Your Child’s College Education?

blog(5 sep)

Should you pay for your child’s college education? Or should your child find the financing? There are compelling arguments for both sides, but ultimately, your family needs to do what’s best for your financial situation. Most families find that a combination of both works the best.

Parents should pay.

Arguments in favor of shelling out your hard-earned cash for a son’s or daughter’s higher education can be compelling. For one thing, college is a very expensive proposition these days. A year of undergraduate study at a private university can easily top $30,000 and public in-state schools can run over $12,000. Of course, if your student decides to get an advanced degree or go to medical or law school, he or she can run up a bill exceeding the cost of your home mortgage. Advocates of this point of view ask, “Do you really want to saddle your kid with that kind of debt so early in life?”

They add that if your child ends up working to pay for college, that’s less time available for study and making friends. And, of course, friendships built in college can generate a wealth of opportunities for a future career. Also, by investing in tax-deferred 529 plans, parents can withdraw funds free from federal and some state income taxes when it’s time for college.

The child should take the responsibility.

Others argue that covering the cost of your child’s college education should not be your priority. After all, they reason, your kid has a lifetime to pay back student loans, and making loan payments can generate a positive credit history. Advocates of this position also argue that kids who have to pay for their own tuition, books, and living expenses learn responsibility and value the investment that college represents. They also point to available tuition reimbursement plans provided by some companies or the military service option as a way to get a college education without breaking the bank.

Those on this side of the debate often argue that 529 plans are overrated as a savings vehicle because investment options can be limited and tax rules are likely to change, undermining future tax benefits. Finally, they reason that a parent’s own retirement savings should take precedence over saving for a child’s education.

Making the decision.

Of course, your family’s dynamics, the importance you place on a college education, and your personal financial priorities will factor into this decision. If you’d like help looking at the pros and cons of this important issue, give us a call.

See more at: Certified Accountants in New Jersey | Business Accounting Systems

How To Cut Car Maintenance Costs

Blog(31Aug

Insurance, fuel, loan interest, maintenance, repairs, depreciation – all the expenses associated with owning and driving an automobile can take a huge bite out of your family budget. Some of these are sunk costs. Because the money is already spent – the down payment to purchase your car, for example – such costs are irrelevant when budgeting for the future. But other costs of owning and operating a vehicle can be pared down substantially. Shopping around for a better insurance rate or discovering a station that sells cheaper gas may save hundreds of dollars over time. Being vigilant about routine maintenance is also a great way to reduce operating costs and avoid major repair bills.

To make a dent in your car maintenance budget, follow these five tips from the pros.

  • Read the owner’s manual. That little booklet in your glove box is full of detailed information about your car. It also includes a recommended maintenance schedule, which is more reliable than the sticker the auto shop attaches to your windshield after an oil change. If you’ve lost your owner’s manual, maintenance recommendations for your car are often available on websites such as www.carcare.org.
  • Shop around for repairs. Generally speaking, independent repair shops tend to charge less for repairs than dealerships. But be cautious. Ask family and friends for recommendations, and don’t be afraid to get several estimates. If possible, find a shop with at least one certified automobile technician.
  • Change your oil regularly. Depending on your car’s make and model, as well as driving conditions in your town, “regularly” will vary. Again, the owner’s manual should be your guide to determine how frequently to change lubrication fluids. How long an engine functions without major repairs is often directly correlated to how routinely the oil was replaced.
  • Use cruise control. In general, driving at a constant speed improves gas mileage. You’ll need fewer trips to the gas station if you keep an even pressure on the accelerator instead of lurching through town like a student driver.
  • Check your tires. Another key to better gas mileage is to keep your tires properly inflated. The recommended tire pressure of the vehicle’s original set of tires may be listed on the door jamb sticker. If you have purchased a new set of tires, the tire pressure may be different than the original set. Rotating the tires regularly will also help to evenly distribute wear and tear and may keep your shock absorbers from needing replacement as often.

Tips On Tip Reporting

Blog_24Aug17

If you are like millions of taxpayers who work in the service industry, you may receive tips. The tax code is clear; if you receive tips you must report them as income. Some employers have systems to make this easy, while others do not. Here are some suggestions:

Think 1-2-3
Proper tip reporting has three components.

1. Keeping a daily tip record
2. Reporting your tips to your employer
3. Recording your tips on your income tax return

Recording tip activity
Per the IRS, you can keep your tips by either maintaining a tip diary or by saving documents that show your tips. If your employer does not provide you with an electronic form of a tip diary, you can always create your own. The IRS has one for your use in Form 4070A.

Reporting tips to an employer
You should record daily activity in your diary and then provide a monthly summary to your employer by the 10th of the following month. The report should include the following elements:
• Your name and address
• Your social security number
• Employer name and address
• Time period
• Date submitted to employer
• Your signature
• Tip information: cash tips received, credit/debit tips received, tips paid out to fellow workers, and net tips received

Paying taxes
With proper tracking and reporting of tip activity to your employer, filing your taxes on this income can be done without too much trouble. Here are some ideas.

Use your employer for reporting. With proper reporting, your employer can help ensure taxes are withheld and sent in for you. This can help you avoid a large tax bill at the end of the year.
Giving your employer funds. If your tips are a high portion of your income, your wages may not be sufficient to cover your taxes. To solve this, you can provide some of your tip income to your employer to pay a proper level of withholdings on your behalf.
Other things to note

Service charge or tip? If your employer adds a set tip amount to a bill (18 percent automatic tip for parties of six or more), this is not a tip, it is a service charge and is treated as wages.
Shared tips. Be careful reporting those tips you share with others. Clearly report your own net tip income to your employer. Do not report gross tips that you share with others on your tax return.

Know the penalty. If you do not report tips to your employer, the potential penalty is 50 percent of the social security and Medicare-related taxes you may owe on the unreported tips.

Allocated tips. Sometimes your employer pays you tips and reports them on your W-2 that are above what you reported to your employer. The good news? You receive additional income above your hourly wages. The bad news? You will owe income taxes AND social security and Medicare taxes on these tips.

Keeping track of tip income can be made manageable by developing a good reporting system. Please ask for help if you need assistance before it gets out of hand.

For more information, Visit: Accountants in New Jersey | Accountants in New Jersey | Bookkeeping services NJ

Do A Business Valuation When You’re Ready To Sell Your Company

Blog_16-Aug-17

Well before you’re ready to sell your company, you’ll want to determine its fair market value as a starting point for negotiations. Of course, obtaining a reasonably precise value for your business is often a complicated and time-consuming task. Accurate appraisals must weigh a variety of factors and incorporate numerous assumptions. The more precise the underlying numbers and suppositions, the more likely the appraiser’s determination of fair market value will reflect what a willing buyer would actually pay. Here are two questions an appraisal should address.

  • How does your business compare? If you’re operating a service business, your valuation will differ – often substantially – from a company involved in light manufacturing or retail. Buyers will expect a reasonable return on their investment, a return that is often represented as some form of earnings multiplier. For example, your business may be valued at three times projected earnings. Once determined, that number can be compared to businesses of similar size in your market. Of course, accurate valuations must compare apples to apples. “Earnings” must be defined. Should “earnings” include or exclude the owner’s pay, interest expense, depreciation, or taxes? A careful appraisal will also scrutinize the balance sheet. The basis for valuing tangible and intangible assets (including non-compete agreements) and liabilities (such as mortgages, installment loans, and accounts payable) should be clearly laid out – before the business is put on the block.
  • Will present trends continue? The future may be difficult to predict, but a careful analysis should be based on conservative projections, assumptions, and common sense. If, for example, the business is expected to retain skilled management and employees, buyers may be willing to pay a premium. If, on the other hand, the company is overly dependent on a few products or customers, potential buyers may be scared off. Or they may require concessions to mitigate perceived risk. Again, a careful appraisal will consider many such factors and value the business accordingly.

Remember: an appraisal is merely a starting point for negotiations. The more accurate the appraisal, the more likely the business will be priced correctly and potential buyers will be attracted. Unfortunately, determining the fair market value of a business may be fraught with missteps and faulty assumptions. For that reason, hiring a trained and objective professional is often a worthwhile investment.

For more information, Visit: Accountants in New Jersey | Bookkeeping services NJ | Small business accounting

Four Tips For Building An Emergency Fund

Blog_7aug

Planning for business emergencies is like buying insurance: you pay into an account and hope you’ll never have to use it. But life happens. Equipment breaks down. Electrical problems occur. Employees leave. Having money in the bank to cover those unexpected expenses can reduce stress and keep you from relying on credit cards and loans to keep your business afloat.

Here are four easy and effective ways to establish and maintain an emergency fund for your business.

1. Start small. Many financial planners advise setting aside enough money to cover at least six months of expenses. That’s a worthy goal. But for many businesses, it’s also a daunting task, an objective that will take years – not months – to achieve. So, set a realistic and achievable amount for your emergency fund, and then get in the habit of contributing regularly. Then don’t touch the account except for real emergencies. Leave it alone and it will grow.

2. Pump it up. When you get a surplus of revenue, tax refund, or windfall, consider using a portion of that money to bolster your emergency account. Fight the temptation to increase spending with every new dollar that comes along.

3. Make it automatic. With online banking, it’s easy to set up routine transfers from your businesses’ primary account to a separate savings account. Consider allocating a portion of each quarter’s earnings to an emergency fund. Consider establishing the account at a financial institution other than your regular bank. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” If the money never shows up in your regular checking account, you’ll be less likely to use it for everyday business expenses.

4. Slash expenses. Take a hard look at your budget and consider everything fair game: expensive client dinners, extravagant business parties or trips, and so on. You may find that a surprising number of dollars can be freed up and stashed away in savings. The key, of course, is to direct those savings – immediately, if possible – away from regular spending and into your emergency account.

If you’d like more ideas for setting financial goals or building up an emergency fund for your business, give us a call.

For more Informtaion, Visit at: Accountants in New Jersey | Accounting Firms in New Jersey | Bookkeeping services NJ

Don’t Assume It’s Correct, Just Because It’s The IRS

Blog(2 aug)

Quotes from actual IRS correspondence received by clients:

“Our records show we received a 1040X…for the tax year listed above. We’re sorry but we cannot find it.”

“Our records show you owe a balance due of $0.00. If we do not receive it within 30 days, appropriate collection steps will be taken.”

“Payment is due on your account. Please submit payments on or before June 31 to avoid late payment penalties and interest.”

It’s pretty tough to pay a balance due of $0.00 or submit a payment on June 31 when June has only 30 days. The message should be clear. If you receive a notice from the IRS, don’t automatically assume it is correct and then submit a payment to make it go away. The same is true for errors in any state tax agency notices. They are often in error. So what should you do?

Stay calm. Try not to overreact to the correspondence. This is easier said than done, but remember, the IRS sends out millions of notices each year. The vast majority of these notices attempt to correct simple oversights or common filing errors.

Open the envelope. You’d be surprised how often clients are so stressed by receiving a letter from the IRS that they cannot bear to open the envelope. If you fall into this category, try to remember that the first step in making the problem go away is to open the correspondence.

Review the letter. Make sure you understand exactly what the IRS thinks needs to be changed and determine whether or not you agree with their findings. Unfortunately, the IRS rarely sends correspondence to correct an oversight in your favor, but it sometimes happens.

Respond in a timely manner. The correspondence received should be very clear about what action the IRS believes you should take and within what timeframe. Ignore this information at your own risk. Delays in responses could generate penalties and additional interest payments.

Get help. You are not alone. Getting assistance from someone who deals with this all the time makes going through the process much smoother.

Correct the IRS error. Once the problem is understood, a clearly written response with copies of documentation will cure most IRS correspondence errors. Often the error is due to the inability of the IRS computers to conduct a simple reporting match. Pointing the information out on your tax return might be all it takes to solve the problem.

Certified mail is your friend. Send any response to the IRS via certified mail. This will provide proof of your timely correspondence. Lost mail can lead to delays, penalties, and additional interest on your tax bill.

Don’t assume it will go away. Until you receive definitive confirmation that the problem has been resolved, assume the IRS still thinks you owe the money. If you don’t receive correspondence confirming the correction, send a written follow-up.

Quotes from actual IRS correspondence received by clients:

“Our records show we received a 1040X…for the tax year listed above. We’re sorry but we cannot find it.”

“Our records show you owe a balance due of $0.00. If we do not receive it within 30 days, appropriate collection steps will be taken.”

“Payment is due on your account. Please submit payments on or before June 31 to avoid late payment penalties and interest.”

It’s pretty tough to pay a balance due of $0.00 or submit a payment on June 31 when June has only 30 days. The message should be clear. If you receive a notice from the IRS, don’t automatically assume it is correct and then submit a payment to make it go away. The same is true for errors in any state tax agency notices. They are often in error. So what should you do?

Stay calm. Try not to overreact to the correspondence. This is easier said than done, but remember, the IRS sends out millions of notices each year. The vast majority of these notices attempt to correct simple oversights or common filing errors.

Open the envelope. You’d be surprised how often clients are so stressed by receiving a letter from the IRS that they cannot bear to open the envelope. If you fall into this category, try to remember that the first step in making the problem go away is to open the correspondence.

Review the letter. Make sure you understand exactly what the IRS thinks needs to be changed and determine whether or not you agree with their findings. Unfortunately, the IRS rarely sends correspondence to correct an oversight in your favor, but it sometimes happens.

Respond in a timely manner. The correspondence received should be very clear about what action the IRS believes you should take and within what timeframe. Ignore this information at your own risk. Delays in responses could generate penalties and additional interest payments.

Get help. You are not alone. Getting assistance from someone who deals with this all the time makes going through the process much smoother.

Correct the IRS error. Once the problem is understood, a clearly written response with copies of documentation will cure most IRS correspondence errors. Often the error is due to the inability of the IRS computers to conduct a simple reporting match. Pointing the information out on your tax return might be all it takes to solve the problem.

Certified mail is your friend. Send any response to the IRS via certified mail. This will provide proof of your timely correspondence. Lost mail can lead to delays, penalties, and additional interest on your tax bill.

Don’t assume it will go away. Until you receive definitive confirmation that the problem has been resolved, assume the IRS still thinks you owe the money. If you don’t receive correspondence confirming the correction, send a written follow-up.

For more information, Visit at: Accounting Firms NJ | Bookkeeping services NJ | Small business accounting