You may face higher taxes this year

Posted by Sanket Shah | General | Friday 19 May 2017 2:41 pm

Some people filing their 2013 US tax returns are probably in for a nasty surprise. Here are some tax changes that could have a significant impact on what you will owe when you file your 2013 tax return:

Phase-­out of the personal and dependent exemptions:

Starting with 2013 tax returns, more folks will see a reduction in the personal and dependent exemptions they could claim in past years. Taxpayers with Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) levels of $250,000 for singles, $300,000 for married, $275,000 for head of household and married filing separately of $150,000, will see the loss of some or all of their previously allowed personal and dependent exemption deductions.

That means a couple with two dependent children with AGI over $500,000 could pay an additional tax of $6,200, or more.

Higher tax rates for long-­term capital gains and dividend income:

For people in the higher­-income groups below, the rate on capital gains and dividend income increases from 15 percent to 20.

A married taxpayer with a taxable income of $500,000, along with $30,000 in capital gains and $30,000 in dividend income, would pay an additional $3,000 of income tax.

Phase­-out of itemized deductions:

Taxpayers with higher incomes will also lose a portion of the deductions they claim for things like mortgage interest, real estate taxes and charitable gifts. Taxpayers with the same AGI levels as above — singles at $250,000, married jointly at $300,000, head of household at $275,000 and marries filing separately at $150,000 — will see their deductions reduced by an amount equal to 3 percent of their adjusted gross income that is above these thresholds. This can wipe out up to 80 percent of the deductions some taxpayers would have been allowed to claim in 2012.

A couple with about $40,000 in itemized deductions with AGI about $500,000 could pay an additional tax of $2,376.

Higher tax rates on ordinary taxable income:

For workers with higher incomes, the higher tax rate of 39.6 percent will replace the 35 percent rate. That new higher rate applies to single filers with taxable income above $400,000; married filers with income over $450,000; married filing separately over $225,000; and heads of household with taxable income over $425,000.

For instance, due to this tax hike a married couple with a taxable income of $500,000 will owe an additional $2,300.

Medicare surtax on self-­employment income:

Beginning in 2013, an additional 0.9 percent was levied on people whose combined salary and income from self-employment is above $200,000 for singles and $250,000 for married. This was another tax increase aimed at raising revenue to offset the cost of the new health care laws.

If you are married, and have net income from self-employment of $500,000 in 2013, this additional tax will cost you $2,250 this year.

Medicare surtax on investment income:

A part of Obamacare, this tax is designed to raise federal revenue to offset the cost of things like the government subsidies provided to lower income people who buy health insurance on the new health exchanges.

The Medicare surtax amounts to an additional 3.8 percent on net investment income (Like interest, dividends, tax exempt bond interest, royalties, rents, capital gains, etc.). This tax applies to taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income that exceeds $250,000 for married filers and $200,000 for singles. In total, high­income people must pay a tax rate of 23.8 percent on capital gains and dividends.

So for the married taxpayer mentioned above — with $20,000 in capital gains, $20,000 in dividend income and $10,000 in interest — would pay an additional $1,900 of income tax due to this change.

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Ten Facts about Capital Gains and Losses

Posted by Sanket Shah | General | Friday 19 May 2017 2:27 pm

When you sell a ‘capital asset’, the sale usually results in a capital gain or loss. A ‘capital asset’ includes most property you own and use for personal or investment purposes. Here are 10 facts from the IRS on capital gains and losses:

1. Capital assets include property such as your home or car. They also include investment property such as stocks and bonds.

2. A capital gain or loss is the difference between your basis and the amount you get when you sell an asset. Your basis is usually what you paid for the asset.

3. You must include all capital gains in your income. Beginning in 2013, you may be subject to the Net Investment Income Tax. The NIIT applies at a rate of 3.8% to certain net investment income of individuals, estates, and trusts that have income above statutory threshold amounts.

4. You can deduct capital losses on the sale of investment property. You can’t deduct losses on the sale of personal-­use property.

5. Capital gains and losses are either long-­term or short­-term, depending on how long you held the property. If you held the property for more than one year, your gain or loss is long­-term. If you held it one year or less, the gain or loss is short-­term.

6. If your long­-term gains are more than your long­-term losses, the difference between the two is a net long­-term capital gain. If your net long-­term capital gain is more than your net short­-term capital loss, you have a ‘net capital gain.’

7. The tax rates that apply to net capital gains will usually depend on your income. For lower-­income individuals, the rate may be zero percent on some or all of their net capital gains. In 2013, the maximum net capital gain tax rate increased from 15 to 20 percent. A 25 or 28 percent tax rate can also apply to special types of net capital gains.

8. If your capital losses are more than your capital gains, you can deduct the difference as a loss on your tax return. This loss is limited to $3,000 per year, or $1,500 if you are married and file a separate return.

9. If your total net capital loss is more than the limit you can deduct, you can carry over the losses you are not able to deduct to next year’s tax return. You will treat those losses as if they happened that year.

10. You must file Form 8949, Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets, with your federal tax return to report your gains and losses. You also need to file Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses with your return.

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Imputed interest rules on interest free loans in US

Posted by Sanket Shah | Newsletters | Thursday 9 May 2013 1:35 pm
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Important Facts about Mortgage Debt Forgiveness

Posted by Sanket Shah | General | Wednesday 13 March 2013 2:15 pm

If your lender cancelled or forgave your mortgage debt, you generally have to pay tax on that amount. But there are exceptions to this rule for some homeowners who had mortgage debt forgiven in 2012.

Here are 10 key facts from the IRS about mortgage debt forgiveness:

1.  Cancelled debt normally results in taxable income. However, you may be able to exclude the cancelled debt from your income if the debt was a mortgage on your main home.

2.  To qualify, you must have used the debt to buy, build or substantially improve your principal residence. The residence must also secure the mortgage.

3.  The maximum qualified debt that you can exclude under this exception is $2 million. The limit is $1 million for a married person who files a separate tax return.

4.  You may be able to exclude from income the amount of mortgage debt reduced through mortgage restructuring. You may also be able to exclude mortgage debt cancelled in a foreclosure.

5.  You may also qualify for the exclusion on a refinanced mortgage. This applies only if you used proceeds from the refinancing to buy, build or substantially improve your main home. The exclusion is limited to the amount of the old mortgage principal just before the refinancing.

6.  Proceeds of refinanced mortgage debt used for other purposes do not qualify for the exclusion. For example, debt used to pay off credit card debt does not qualify.

7.  If you qualify, report the excluded debt on Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness. Submit the completed form with your federal income tax return.

8.  Other types of cancelled debt do not qualify for this special exclusion. This includes debt cancelled on second homes, rental and business property, credit cards or car loans. In some cases, other tax relief provisions may apply, such as debts discharged in certain bankruptcy proceedings. Form 982 provides more details about these provisions.

9.  If your lender reduced or cancelled at least $600 of your mortgage debt, they normally send you a statement in January of the next year. Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, shows the amount of cancelled debt and the fair market value of any foreclosed property.

10. Check your Form 1099-C for the cancelled debt amount shown inBox2, and the value of your home shown inBox7. Notify the lender immediately of any incorrect information so they can correct the form.

See IRS Publication 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions and Abandonment’s for further details.

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Ten Facts about Capital Gains and Losses

Posted by Sanket Shah | International Tax | Friday 8 March 2013 12:40 pm

The term “capital asset” for tax purposes applies to almost everything you own and use for personal or investment purposes. A capital gain or loss occurs when you sell a capital asset.

Here are 10 facts from the IRS on capital gains and losses:

1.  Almost everything you own and use for personal purposes, pleasure or investment is a capital asset. Capital assets include your home, household furnishings, and stocks and bonds that you hold as investments.

2.  A capital gain or loss is the difference between your basis of an asset and the amount you receive when you sell it. Your basis is usually what you paid for the asset.

3.  You must include all capital gains in your income.

4.  You may deduct capital losses on the sale of investment property. You cannot deduct losses on the sale of personal-use property.

5.  Capital gains and losses are long-term or short-term, depending on how long you hold on to the property. If you hold the property more than one year, your capital gain or loss is long-term. If you hold it one year or less, the gain or loss is short-term.

6.  If your long-term gains exceed your long-term losses, the difference between the two is a net long-term capital gain. If your net long-term capital gain is more than your net short-term capital loss, you have a ‘net capital gain.’

7.  The tax rates that apply to net capital gains are generally lower than the tax rates that apply to other types of income. The maximum capital gains rate for most people in 2012 is 15 percent. For lower-income individuals, the rate may be 0 percent on some or all of their net capital gains. Rates of 25 or 28 percent can also apply to special types of net capital gains.

8.  If your capital losses are greater than your capital gains, you can deduct the difference between the two on your tax return. The annual limit on this deduction is $3,000, or $1,500 if you are married filing separately.

9.  If your total net capital loss is more than the limit you can deduct, you can carry over the losses you are not able to deduct to next year’s tax return. You will treat those losses as if they occurred that year.

10. Form 8949, Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets, will help you calculate capital gains and losses. You will carry over the subtotals from this form to Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses. If you e-file your tax return, the software will do this for you.

For more information about capital gains and losses, see the Schedule D instructions or Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses.

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Take Credit for Your Retirement

Posted by Sanket Shah | International Tax | Thursday 7 March 2013 12:29 pm

Saving for your retirement can make you eligible for a tax credit worth up to $2,000. If you contribute to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or to an IRA, you may be eligible for the Saver’s Credit.

Here are seven points the IRS would like you to know about the Saver’s Credit:

1. The Saver’s Credit is formally known as the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit. The credit can be worth up to $2,000 for married couples filing a joint return or $1,000 for single taxpayers.

2. Your filing status and the amount of your income affect whether you are eligible for the credit. You may be eligible for the credit on your 2012 tax return if your filing status and income are:

a.   Single, married filing separately or qualifying widow or widower, with income up to $28,750

b.   Head of Household with income up to $43,125

c.   Married Filing Jointly, with income up to $57,500

3. You must be at least 18 years of age to be eligible. You also cannot have been a full-time student in 2012 nor claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

4. You must contribute to a qualified retirement plan by the due date of your tax return in order to claim the credit. The due date for most people is April 15.

5. The Saver’s Credit reduces the tax you owe.

6. Use IRS Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to claim the credit. Be sure to attach the form to your federal tax return. If you use IRS e-file the software will do this for you.

7. Depending on your income, you may be eligible for other tax benefits if you contribute to a retirement plan. For example, you may be able to deduct all or part of your contributions to a traditional IRA.

For more information on the Saver’s Credit, see IRS Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements. Also see Publication 4703, Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, and Form 8880.

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College Tax Benefits for 2012 and Years Ahead

Posted by Sanket Shah | General | Saturday 23 February 2013 11:45 am

Parents and students should see if they qualify for either of two college education tax credits or any of several other education-related tax benefits.

In general, the American opportunity tax credit, lifetime learning credit and tuition and fees deduction are available to taxpayers who pay qualifying expenses for an eligible student.

Eligible students include the primary taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse or a dependent of the taxpayer.

Though a taxpayer often qualifies for more than one of these benefits, he or she can claim only one of them for a particular student in a particular year.

The benefits are available to all taxpayers – both those who itemize their deductions on Schedule A and those who claim a standard deduction.

The credits are claimed on Form 8863 and the tuition and fees deduction is claimed on Form 8917.

All three benefits are available for students enrolled in an eligible college, university or vocational school, including both nonprofit and for-profit institutions.

None of the credits can be claimed by a nonresident alien or married person filing a separate return.

Normally, a student will receive a Form 1098-T from their institution by the end of January of the following year. This form will show information about tuition paid or billed along with other information. However, amounts shown on this form may differ from amounts taxpayers are eligible to claim for these tax benefits.

American opportunity tax credit

Many of those eligible for this credit qualify for the maximum annual credit of $2,500 per student. Here are some key features of the credit:

  1. The credit targets the first four years of post-secondary education, and a student must be enrolled at least half time. This means that expenses paid for a student who, as of the beginning of the tax year, has already completed the first four years of college do not qualify. Any student with a felony drug conviction also does not qualify.
  2. Tuition, required enrollment fees, books and other required course materials generally qualify. Other expenses, such as room and board, do not qualify.
  3. The credit equals 100 percent of the first $2,000 spent and 25 percent of the next $2,000. That means the full $2,500 credit may be available to a taxpayer who pays $4,000 or more in qualified expenses for an eligible student.
  4. The full credit can only be claimed by taxpayers whose modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is $80,000 or less. For married couples filing a joint return, the limit is $160,000. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with incomes above these levels. No credit can be claimed by joint filers whose MAGI is $180,000 or more and singles, heads of household and some widows and widowers whose MAGI is $90,000 or more.
  5. Forty percent of the American opportunity tax credit is refundable. This means that even people who owe no tax can get an annual payment of up to $1,000 for each eligible student.

Lifetime learning credit

This credit of up to $2,000 per tax return is available for both graduate and undergraduate students. Unlike the American opportunity tax credit, the limit on the lifetime learning credit applies to each tax return, rather than to each student. Though the half-time student requirement does not apply, the course of study must be either part of a post-secondary degree program or taken by the student to maintain or improve job skills. Other features of the credit include:

  1. Tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance qualify as do other fees required for the course. Additional expenses do not qualify.
  2. The credit equals 20 percent of the amount spent on eligible expenses across all students on the return. That means the full $2,000 credit is only available to a taxpayer who pays $10,000 or more in qualifying tuition and fees and has sufficient tax liability.
  3. Income limits are lower than under the American opportunity tax credit. For 2012, the full credit can be claimed by taxpayers whose MAGI is $52,000 or less. For married couples filing a joint return, the limit is $104,000. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with incomes above these levels. No credit can be claimed by joint filers whose MAGI is $124,000 or more and singles, heads of household and some widows and widowers whose MAGI is $62,000 or more.

Tuition and fees deduction

The tuition and fees deduction is available for all levels of post-secondary education, and the cost of one or more courses can qualify. The annual deduction limit is $4,000 for joint filers whose MAGI is $130,000 or less and other taxpayers whose MAGI is $65,000 or less. The deduction limit drops to $2,000 for couples whose MAGI exceeds $130,000 but is no more than $160,000, and other taxpayers whose MAGI exceeds $65,000 but is no more than $80,000.

Other education-related tax benefits

  1. Scholarship and fellowship grants—generally tax-free if used to pay for tuition, required enrollment fees, books and other course materials, but taxable if used for room, board, research, travel or other expenses.
  2. Student loan interest deduction of up to $2,500 per year.
  3. Savings bonds used to pay for college—though income limits apply, interest is usually tax-free if bonds were purchased after 1989 by a taxpayer who, at time of purchase, was at least 24 years old.
  4. Qualified tuition programs, also called 529 plans, used by many families to prepay or save for a child’s college education.

Taxpayers with qualifying children who are students up to age 24 may be able to claim a dependent exemption and the earned income tax credit.

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Save Money with the Child Tax Credit

Posted by Sanket Shah | General | Friday 22 February 2013 12:37 pm

If you have a child under age 17, the Child Tax Credit may save you money at tax-time. Here are some facts the IRS wants you to know about the credit.

1.  Amount:  The non-refundable Child Tax Credit may help reduce your federal income tax by up to $1,000 for each qualifying child you claim on your return.

2.  Qualifications:  For this credit, a qualifying child must pass seven tests:

a.  Age test:  The child must have been under age 17 at the end of 2012.

b.  Relationship test: The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, or stepsister. A child may also be a descendant of any of these individuals, including your grandchild, niece or nephew. You would always treat an adopted child as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.

c.  Support test:  The child must not have provided more than half of their own support for the year.

d.  Dependent test:  You must claim the child as a dependent on your federal tax return.

e.  Joint return test:  The child cannot file a joint return for the year, unless the only reason they are filing is to claim a refund.

f.  Citizenship test:  The child must be aU.S. citizen,U.S. national or U.S. resident alien.

g.  Residence test:  In most cases, the child must have lived with you for more than half of 2012.

3.  Limitations:  The Child Tax Credit is subject to income limitations, and may be reduced or eliminated depending on your filing status and income.

4.  Additional Child Tax Credit:  If you qualify and get less than the full Child Tax Credit, you could receive a refund even if you owe no tax with the refundable Additional Child Tax Credit.

5.  Schedule 8812:  If you qualify to claim the Child Tax Credit make sure to check whether you must complete and attach the new Schedule 8812, Child Tax Credit, with your return. If you qualify to claim the Additional Child Tax Credit, you must complete and attach Schedule 8812.

IRS Publication 972, Child Tax Credit, can provide you with more details.

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Some Tax Benefits for US Parents

Posted by Sanket Shah | General | Tuesday 12 February 2013 1:16 pm

US parents, your children may help you qualify for valuable tax benefits, such as certain credits and deductions. Here are eight benefits you shouldn’t miss when filing your US taxes this year.

1. Dependents. In most cases, you can claim a child as a dependent even if your child was born anytime in 2012.

2. Child Tax Credit. You may be able to claim the Child Tax Credit for each of your children that were under age 17 at the end of 2012. If you do not benefit from the full amount of the credit, you may be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit.

3. Child and Dependent Care Credit. You may be able to claim this credit if you paid someone to care for your child or children under age 13, so that you could work or look for work.

4. Earned Income Tax Credit. If you worked but earned less than $50,270 in 2012, you may qualify for EITC. If you have qualifying children, you may get up to $5,891 dollars extra back when you file a return and claim it.

5. Adoption Credit. You may be able to take a tax credit for certain expenses you incurred to adopt a child.

6. Higher education credits. If you paid higher education costs for yourself or another student who is an immediate family member, you may qualify for either the American Opportunity Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit. Both credits may reduce the amount of tax you owe. If the American Opportunity Credit is more than the tax you owe, you could be eligible for a refund of up to $1,000.

7. Student loan interest. You may be able to deduct interest you paid on a qualified student loan, even if you do not itemize your deductions.

8. Self-employed health insurance deduction – If you were self-employed and paid for health insurance, you may be able to deduct premiums you paid to cover your child. It applies to children under age 27 at the end of the year, even if not your dependent.

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Important facts about Dependents and Exemptions

Posted by Sanket Shah | General | Friday 8 February 2013 1:00 pm

While each individual tax return is unique, there are some tax rules that affect every person who files a federal income tax return. These rules involve dependents and exemptions. Here are some important facts about dependents and exemptions that the IRS has issued that will help you file your 2012 tax return.

1.Exemptions reduce taxable income.  There are two types of exemptions: personal exemptions and exemptions for dependents. You can deduct $3,800 for each exemption you claim on your 2012 tax return.

a.Personal exemptions.  You usually may claim one exemption for yourself on your tax return. You also can claim one for your spouse if you are married and file a joint return. If you and your spouse file separate returns, you may claim the exemption for your spouse only if he or she had no gross income, is not filing a joint return and was not the dependent of another taxpayer.

b.Exemptions for dependents.  Generally, you can claim an exemption for each of your dependents. A dependent is either your qualifying child or qualifying relative. If you are married, you may not claim your spouse as your dependent. You must list the Social Security Number of each dependent you claim on your return. For information about dependents who do not have Social Security numbers See IRS Publication 501.

2.Some people do not qualify as dependents.  While there are some exceptions, you generally may not claim a married person as a dependent if they file a joint return with their spouse.

3.Dependents may have to file.  If you can claim someone else as your dependent on your tax return, that person may still be required to file his or her own tax return. Whether they must file a return depends on several factors, including the amount of their gross income (both earned and unearned income), their marital status and any special taxes they owe.

4.Dependents can’t claim a personal exemption.  If you can claim another person as a dependent on your tax return, that person may not claim a personal exemption on his or her own tax return. This is true even if you do not actually claim that person as your dependent on your tax return. The fact that you could claim that person disqualifies them from claiming a personal exemption.

Remember that a person must meet several tests in order for you to claim them as your dependent. See IRS Publication 501 for the tests you will use to determine if you can claim a person as your dependent.

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