News & Resources
Most people can claim an exemption on their tax return. It can lower your taxable income, which in most cases, that reduces the amount of tax you owe for the year. Here are eight tax facts about exemptions to help you file your tax return.
1. Exemptions Cut Income. There are two types of exemptions. The first type is a personal exemption. The second type is an exemption for a dependent. You can usually deduct $4,050 for each exemption you claim on your 2016 tax return.
2. Personal Exemptions. You can usually claim an exemption for yourself. If you’re married and file a joint return, you can claim one for your spouse, too. If you file a separate return, you can claim an exemption for your spouse only if your spouse:
- Had no gross income,
- Is not filing a tax return, and
- Was not the dependent of another taxpayer. Read more
If you haven’t contributed funds to an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) for tax year 2016, or if you’ve put in less than the maximum allowed, you still have time to do so. You can contribute to either a traditional or Roth IRA until the April 18th due date, not including extensions.
Be sure to tell the IRA trustee that the contribution is for 2016. Otherwise, the trustee may report the contribution as being for 2017 when they get your funds.
Generally, you can contribute up to $5,500 of your earnings for tax year 2016 (up to $6,500 if you are age 50 or older in 2016). You can fund a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA (if you qualify), or both, but your total contributions cannot be more than these amounts.
Traditional IRA: You may be able to take a tax deduction for the contributions to a traditional IRA, depending on your income and whether you or your spouse, if filing jointly, are covered by an employer’s pension plan.
Roth IRA: You cannot deduct Roth IRA contributions, but the earnings on a Roth IRA may be tax-free if you meet the conditions for a qualified distribution.
Each year, the IRS announces the cost of living adjustments and limitation for retirement savings plans.
Saving for retirement should be part of everyone’s financial plan and it’s important to review your retirement goals every year in order to maximize savings. If you need help with your retirement plans, give the office a call.
It’s important to use the right filing status when you file your tax return because the filing status you choose can affect the amount of tax you owe for the year. It may even determine if you must file a tax return. Keep in mind that your marital status on December 31 is your status for the whole year. Sometimes more than one filing status may apply to you. If that happens, choose the one that allows you to pay the least amount of tax.
The easiest and most accurate way to file your tax return is to consult a tax professional who is able to choose the right filing status based on your circumstances. Here’s a list of the five filing statuses:
1. Single. This status normally applies if you aren’t married. It applies if you are divorced or legally separated under state law.
2. Married Filing Jointly. If you’re married, you and your spouse can file a joint tax return. If your spouse died in 2016, you can often file a joint return for that year.
3. Married Filing Separately. A married couple can choose to file two separate tax returns. This may benefit you if it results in less tax owed than if you file a joint tax return. You may want to prepare your taxes both ways before you choose. You can also use it if you want to be responsible only for your own tax.
4. Head of Household. In most cases, this status applies if you are not married, but there are some special rules. For example, you must have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for yourself and a qualifying person. Don’t choose this status by mistake. Be sure to check all the rules.
5. Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child. This status may apply to you if your spouse died during 2014 or 2015 and you have a dependent child. Other conditions also apply.
Don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions about filing your tax return this year.
Compiled annually by the IRS, the “Dirty Dozen” is a list of common scams taxpayers may encounter in the coming months. While many of these scams peak during the tax filing season, they may be encountered at any time during the year. Here is this year’s list:
1. Identity Theft
Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. Taxpayers should use caution when viewing e-mails, receiving telephone calls or getting advice on tax issues because scams can take on many sophisticated forms, according to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
Taxpayers should secure personal information by protecting their computers and only giving out Social Security numbers when absolutely necessary. Though the agency is making progress on this front, taxpayers still need to be extremely cautious and do everything they can to avoid becoming victimized. Read more
Are you wondering if there’s a hard and fast rule about what income is taxable and what income is not taxable? The quick answer is that all income is taxable unless the law specifically excludes it. But as you might have guessed, there’s more to it than that.
Taxable income includes any money you receive, such as wages and tips, but it can also include non-cash income from property or services. For example, both parties in a barter exchange must include the fair market value of goods or services received as income on their tax return. Read more