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Tax Preparation Services May Deliver Surprises to Taxpayers With Contract Income

Tax Preparation Services May Deliver Surprises to Taxpayers With Contract Income

With so many families still living on tight budgets, some individuals earned a little extra cash last year by freelancing. This type of work entails short-term projects for a set fee. People who are accustomed to working only as employees are likely unfamiliar with the tax consequences of independent contractor status. Consequently, a part of tax preparer jobs is delivering potential surprising news about taxes owed.

Working as an independent contractor results in additional income tax plus self-employment tax. Because the combination of these taxes is paid to the IRS, the calculation for both is a process in registered tax return preparer work. For some people, the self-employment tax is as much as the regular income tax. The aggregate total tax often exceeds 30 percent of contractor income.

Fortunately, self-employed individuals are not necessarily taxed on the total amount they received from contract jobs. They are entitled to deduct related expenses. The process of limiting taxable income by reporting legitimate expenses is a valuable deployment of knowledge from RTRP study.

All ordinary and necessary expenses are deductible from self-employment income. Mileage to reach a location for performing contract work is deductible. This contrasts with the prohibition of deducting commuting miles from home to work as an employee. Individuals who submit work over the Internet can deduct the cost for web access. Office supplies used exclusively for self-employment are also tax-deductible.

Some special tax rules are applicable to home offices and computers used by independent contractors. Professional tax preparation services understand how to help people meet the requirements for these deductions.

Techniques are available to avoid owing so much tax on self-employment that a penalty is triggered. Although full-time self-employed individuals must pay estimated tax payments during the year, part-time independent contractors with jobs as employees have another option. Individuals who know they will have some self-employment income can increase their withholding on wages from work as employees. The higher withholding covers taxes on their contract work.

The adjustment necessary on the employee W-4 is an extra withholding amount per paycheck. Calculation of a safe harbor minimum annual withholding is addressed in RTRP continuing education. Fortunately, the IRS gives a break in the first year of additional taxes relative to the preceding year. Taxpayers must have simply set aside some of their contractor income to pay the IRS with their tax returns. A new safe harbor figure is then determined each year.

IRS Circular 230 Disclosure

Pursuant to the requirements of the Internal Revenue Service Circular 230, we inform you that, to the extent any advice relating to a Federal tax issue is contained in this communication, including in any attachments, it was not written or intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (a) avoiding any tax related penalties that may be imposed on you or any other person under the Internal Revenue Code, or (b) promoting, marketing or recommending to another person any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.…

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Are You Ready to Start Cramming For PTIN Tax Finals?

Are You Ready to Start Cramming For PTIN Tax Finals?

Yes, it’s time to go back to school.A� As most tax preparers are aware, the new registration & PTIN requirements also include what the IRS is terming its “Phase 2: IRS Competency Exam.” As preparers begin to look into what new continuing education tax course will cover this, it is important that they understand the basics of how this new regulation will be implemented.A� This new information will not only ensure that enrolled agents meet EA CPE requirements and thereby retain their EA certification. It is an important part of their preparation as tax professionals that should help them avoid those caffeine-induced cram sessions reminiscent of their college days.

Below are some critical components of what’s required, and what’s not, along with what we know so far about the exams.

The second phase of the paid preparer oversight program is scheduled to start sometime in mid-2011. The IRS is stating that tax professionals must pass an exam to demonstrate a high level of competency in the preparation of federal tax returns. Once enrolled agents, certified public accounts and others pass the exam, they will officially be designated an IRS Registered Tax Return Preparer.

Exceptions

Luckily for some, there are several exceptions.A� According to the IRS, the following individuals will be exempt from testing:

enrolled agents, attorneys, and CPAs already active and in good standing with their licensing agency

supervised preparers (those who do not sign returns but are employed by attorney or CPA firms or other recognized firms at least 80 percent owned by CPA’s, enrolled agents or attorneys, and who are directly supervised by any of the above)

professional who prepare no Form 1040 series returns

What Will be Covered on the Exam?

The IRS has created two levels of competency exams.

The first exam will cover: Form 1040 wage and non-business income earned income tax credit. The second exam will cover: Form 1040 wage and small business income, including Form 1040 Schedules C, E and F and various other 1040 related forms.

Tax Continuing Education

Fortunately, tax continuing education is keeping pace.A� Because the IRS has continued to release details on the these new educational requirements, most EA CPE and Tax CPE providers are preparing to assist those who are now required to take these exams as early as mid-2011.A� It is also anticipated that most continuing education enrolled agents courses will start to offer separate sample exams and unique curriculum to help tax preparers falling into this bracket.

Silver Lining

Believe it or not, there is some good news for those who always dreaded exam day.A� As part of the recently announced regulations, the IRS has noted that the exams will be “Open-book.”A� According to David Williams, IRS Director of Electronic Tax Administration, the stated goal is minimal competency.A� “The test is designed to ensure that tax preparers can explain how the taxpayer’s position came about,” Williams stated.

Timeline

Though the IRS expects to have the exam available by mid-2011, tax preparers will have until the end of 2013 to take and pass the exam if they register and get the new PTIN before the competency exam is available. Professionals delayed in getting the PTIN until after the online exam is available must pass the exam before they can get a PTIN and begin preparing returns. It goes without saying that this 2013 deadline is incentive enough for registering to get a PTIN early this year.

IRS Circular 230 Disclosure

Pursuant to the requirements of the Internal Revenue Service Circular 230, we inform you that, to the extent any advice relating to a Federal tax issue is contained in this communication, including in any attachments, it was not written or intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (a) avoiding any tax related penalties that may be imposed on you or any other person under the Internal Revenue Code, or (b) promoting, marketing or recommending to another person any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.…

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Tips About Rental Income and Expenses

Tips About Rental Income and Expenses

Morphing what was once a vacation get-way into an income-generating property is one way a lot of families and individuals are coping with the recession. The IRS recently reported, for example, a 10 % increase in the number of taxpayers reporting some of kind of rental on their federal income returns since 2007. This reminds us that finding tenants, executing rental agreements and dealing with home maintenance aren’t the only items on the laundry list of new or would-be landlords. Dealing with Uncle Sam is atop that list.

Enrolled agents, CPA and any registered tax agent working with clients who rent, and earn money from the property, should understand the following seven facts about rental income and expenses.

(1) When to report income. Taxpayers who rent generally must report rental income on their tax returns in the year that they actually receive it.

(2) Advance rent. Advance rent is any amount received before the period that it covers. Individuals should include advance rent in their rental income in the year they receive it, regardless of the period covered.

(3) Security deposits. Taxpayers should not include a security deposit in income when it is receive if they plan to return it to the tenant at the end of the lease. But if the landlord intends to keep part or all of the security deposit during any year because the tenant does not live up to the terms of the lease, the amount kept should be included in the income for that year.

(4) Property or services in lieu of rent. If a taxpayer receives property or services, instead of money, as rent, the fair market value of the property or services must be included in the rental income. If the services are provided at an agreed upon or specified price, that price is the fair market value unless there is evidence to the contrary.

(5) Expenses paid by tenant. If a tenant pays any of the expenses, the payments are considered rental income and should be included in the landlord’s income. However, these expenses can be deducted if they are deductible rental expenses. See below or “Rental Expenses in Publication 527,” for more information.

(6) Rental expenses. Generally, the expenses of renting a property, such as maintenance, insurance, taxes, and interest, can be deducted from your rental income. See below

(7) Personal use of vacation home. If a taxpayer has any personal use of a vacation home or other dwelling unit that you rent out, then the expenses must be divided between rental use and personal use. If the expenses for rental use are more than rental income, the taxpayer may not be able to deduct all of the rental expenses. See below

The decision to turn a home into a rental has a number of tax advantages beyond the perks of deducting mortgage interest and property tax. Any enrolled agent or tax professional knows this. The tricky part is qualifying for those tax benefits.

Entire tax CPE courses are devoted to this subject, which tell us that capitalizing on the perks of being a landlord hinge on two factors: income and most important, how often the rightful property owner uses the home.

Consider the following scenarios:

Barely Ever Rented

HOMEOWNER: Uses beach house primarily for own purposes and only rents it out for a week during Spring Break.

TAX IMPLICATIONS: The most straightforward scenario. If a vacation house is rented out for less than 15 days each year, the rental income does not have to be reported. While the house still qualifies for the mortgage interest, property tax deductions and write offs for casualty and theft losses, property owner in this category are not able to deduct any other operating and maintenance expenses connected to the house.

Often Rented, but Rarely Used by the Owner

HOMEOWNER: Visits a ski condo for just a single prime week in December, but rents it out for the remainder of the peak season (Jan-March)

TAX IMPLICATIONS: Because the property is rented out for 15 days or more, that rental income must be reported. But the homeowner is now able to deduct all of the expenses associate with marketing and maintaining the condo, including all utilities, cable television, property management fees, property insurance and home improvements.

The IRS has set the usage criteria at 14 days, or 10 percent of the number of days a property was leased out at fair market value, as the maximum amount of time at which a property owner can record a loss. Say that $35,000 in annual rental income meant $40,000 in maintenance, improvements and various other expenses, a homeowner can take a $5,000 loss on the property.

However, homeowners making more than $150,000 aren’t so lucky. Incomes above this amount disqualify homeowners …

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Continuing Education for Dentists

Continuing Education for Dentists

Dentists are profoundly some of the most intelligent and well sought after people you’ll meet in your lifetime. Because of their love for their patients’ health and productivity, dentists strive to put their luxuries aside and opt for continuing education to better serve their patients and to instill unto themselves better knowledge of practice and expanded knowledge about new dental procedures and methodologies.

Enrolling in continuing education courses will not only help the dentist grasp new information, but also new patients as well. When a dentist passes the board exam, he/she is still considered a hatchling in the field. Only in practice can a dentist hone his/her skills in general dentistry. A dentist will also be more eligible in becoming in non-practice areas like policy-making and health research.

Dentists also cannot practice other specialized branches of dentistry like orthodontics, periodontal dentistry, TMJ dentistry and restorative dentistry without undergoing additional years of training via full-time post-graduate studies. This is the reason why a lot of seasoned dentists have only set up clinic in their late twenties or early thirties.

There are a lot of universities around the world that admit dentists, oral hygienists and dental technicians who wish to pursue post-graduate and doctorate studies. It is imperative to verify the authenticity of a dental school by verifying its course offerings with its purported affiliates. The usual cost per credit hour ranges from $30-$40, but may still go higher, especially if the course-offer comes from a reputable or Ivy League university.

As an alternative, the dental practitioner may also opt to read medical journals or join non-profit organizations that offer free-but-exclusive articles on specialized dental practice. The internet has been a goldmine for information on specialized areas dentistry. Be warned though, that some sites offer uncited information that may detriment the preferred types of operations and may ruin your credits if you subscribe to the wrong information database.…

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Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Psychotherapy Practice

Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Psychotherapy Practice

Many private practice clinicians want to grow their business but do not know how to take the first step. There are many variables to consider when marketing a private practice. The following are strategies to consider when developing your approach to marketing:

Psychological perspectives: Remember that you are marketing and selling your services. You are not “selling yourself”. This is a mistake that many human service professionals make. Those who approach marketing their practice with the perspective that they are selling themselves, often experience more rejection and personalization. However, selling ones services relates directly to skills and knowledge offered to clients.

Give away your services for free: This is a great way to gain initial exposure for your practice and promote word of mouth referrals.

Continuing education: Pursue continuing education courses that contain marketing strategies and recommendations. This way, you will earn ceu hours or credits while obtaining necessary information to grow your practice.

Spend at least an hour a day marketing your practice: This one is a little challenging. As clinicians, we get caught up in HMOs, administrative duties, and of course, seeing clients. However, clinicians who consistently market their practice are much more likely to reap the benefits.

Become involved in the community: This can include becoming a member of your local chamber of commerce which often hosts professional mixers, business fairs etc.

Update directories: There are many professional directories out there these days such as professional organizations, local online, and HMO directories. Consider including at least a paragraph about your professional background and qualifications with each directory submission.

Develop relationships with other practitioners: Get connected to other clinicians in your area. Perhaps there are therapists in your area that do not see couples and are in need of a referral source. Or, perhaps certain practitioners in your area do not accept certain HMO’s that you are contracted with. These relationships can prove to be the bread and butter of many practices.

Read relevant books and/or literature: Throughout the course of your private practice career, it is important to continue your education on marketing by reading relevant books, completing ceu courses, and/or attending workshops. Ask your colleagues what has worked for them and what hasn’t

These are just a few strategies to help launch a successful marketing campaign. Of course, there is quite a bit of time and investment involved. However, the benefits of marketing one’s practice successfully and consistently are immeasurable.…