Tax Filing Season Begins
January 27, 2020, marked the start of this year’s tax filing season. Complicating matters is a newly revised Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. With more than 150 million individual tax returns expected to be filed for the 2019 tax year, here’s what individual taxpayers can expect:
Another New Design for Form 1040
The new 2019 Form 1040, which was redesigned last year to be “postcard-sized” has been revised yet again. As with last year’s design, the form gathers information about the taxpayer(s) and dependents. It is also the form you need to sign and date when filing your return. New for this year, taxpayers aged 65 and older may be able to use Form 1040-SR (see below for more information).
More complex tax situations will generally require using one or more of the supplemental schedules that were also new for 2018, but which for 2019, have been consolidated into three schedules (Schedules 1, 2, and 3). Of note, is that the 2018 Schedule 6, Foreign Address and Third Party Designee, has been incorporated into the Form 1040.
As in 2018, Forms 1040A and 1040EZ no longer exist. Instead, taxpayers should use Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR.
Virtual Currency Questions
For the 2019 tax year, taxpayers who engaged in a transaction that involved virtual currency (e.g., Bitcoin, Ether, Roblox, and V-bucks) will need to file Schedule 1, Additional Income and Adjustments To Income. Taxpayers are reminded to maintain records that support any information provided on their tax returns such as records documenting receipts, sales, exchanges or other dispositions of virtual currency and the fair market value of the virtual currency.
While more than nine out of 10 refunds are issued in less than 21 days, some tax returns require additional review and take longer to process than others. This may be necessary when a return has errors, is incomplete or is affected by identity theft or fraud.
Furthermore, tax law requires that the IRS hold refunds on tax returns claiming the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) or Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) until mid-February – even the portion not associated with the EITC or ACTC. Even so, most of these types of refunds are expected to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards by the first week of March as long as the taxpayer chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return.
As a reminder, once refunds are issued by the IRS there may be additional time for processing by financial institutions, which must accept and deposit the refunds to bank accounts and products. Typically, refunds and payments are not processed on weekends or holidays, which can affect when refunds reach taxpayers. Refund information will generally be available within 24 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of an electronically filed return.
Tax Filing Deadline
For most taxpayers the filing deadline to submit 2019 tax returns is Wednesday, April 15, 2020; however, there’s no better time than right now to begin gathering information needed to prepare your tax return.
If you have any questions about the new tax forms or need assistance preparing and filing your tax return, help is just a phone call away.
Tax Extenders, Retirement Plan Changes, and Repeals
The Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, signed into law on December 20, 2019, extended a number of expired tax provisions for business and individuals through 2020. It also included several retirement plan changes and repealed three health care taxes. Here’s what you need to know:
Individual Tax Extenders
Mortgage Insurance Premiums. Homeowners with less than 20 percent equity in their homes are required to pay mortgage insurance premiums (PMI). For taxpayers whose income is below certain threshold amounts, these premiums were deductible in prior tax years as well as now being extended through 2020. Mortgage insurance premiums are reported on Schedule A (1040), Itemized Deductions, under “Interest You Paid.”
Exclusion of Discharge of Principal Residence Indebtedness. Typically, forgiven debt is considered taxable income in the eyes of the IRS; however, homeowners whose homes have been foreclosed on or subjected to short sale are able to exclude from gross income up to $2 million of canceled mortgage debt. This tax provision has been extended through 2020.
Qualified Tuition and Expenses. The deduction for qualified tuition and fees was also extended through 2020 and is an above-the-line tax deduction. In other words, you don’t have to itemize your deductions to claim the expense. Qualified education expenses are defined as tuition and related expenses required for enrollment or attendance at an eligible educational institution. Related expenses include student-activity fees and expenses for books, supplies, and equipment as required by the institution.
Taxpayers with income of up to $130,000 (joint) or $65,000 (single) can claim a deduction for up to $4,000 in expenses. Taxpayers with income over $130,000 but under $160,000 (joint) and over $65,000 but under $80,000 (single) are able to take a deduction of up to $2,000. Taxpayers with incomes above these threshold amounts are not eligible for the deduction.
Medical Expense Deduction Threshold. The 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income floor for the deduction of medical expenses was scheduled to revert to 10 percent but is extended through tax year 2020.
Energy Saving Home Improvements. This nonbusiness energy property improvement credit is worth up to 10 percent of the cost (excluding installation) of qualified improvements to a taxpayer’s main home to make it more energy-efficient such as insulation materials, energy-efficient exterior windows and doors, and certain types of roofs, e.g., metal roof or asphalt roofs specifically designed to reduce the heat gain of your home. This credit reduces the amount of tax owed as opposed to a deduction that reduces your taxable income.
This tax credit is cumulative and has been around for more than 10 years. As such, if you’ve taken the credit in any tax year since 2006, you will not be able to take the full $500 tax credit this year. For example, if you took a credit of $150 in 2016, the maximum credit you could take this year (2017) is $350.Furthermore, taxpayers should also note that they can only use $200 of this limit for windows.
Credit for Health Insurance Costs of Eligible Individuals. The Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC), a Federal tax credit administered by the IRS, and has been extended for all coverage months beginning in 2020. As such, eligible individuals can receive a tax credit to offset the cost of their monthly health insurance premiums for 2020 if they have qualified health coverage for the HCTC. Please note that a qualified health plan offered through a Health Insurance Marketplace is not qualified coverage for the HCTC.
Business Tax Extenders
The following business-related tax credits and provisions were extended through 2020 as well:
Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Extended through 2020, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit has been modified and enhanced for employers who hire long-term unemployed individuals (unemployed for 27 weeks or more) and is generally equal to 40 percent of the first $6,000 of wages paid to a new hire.
Employer Credit for Paid Family and Medical Leave. Employers who provide paid family and medical leave to their employees may claim a credit for tax years 2018, 2019, and 2020. The Employer Credit for Paid Family and Medical Leave is a business credit based on a percentage of wages paid to qualifying employees while they’re on family and medical leave.
Certain Provisions Related to Beer, Wine, and Distilled Spirits. Under the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2019, certain provisions, which expired at the end of 2019, have been extended through 2020, including reduced excise taxes for brewers, small distilleries, and small wine producers, as well as extending the exemption for the aging period of beer, wine, and spirits from certain capitalization rules.
Retirement Plan Changes
The Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 included the SECURE (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement) Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2020, and includes major changes for 401(k) plans and IRAs. Some of the highlights are listed below:
- Increase in the age for required minimum distributions (RMDs) to the year a taxpayer turns age 72. Applies to IRAs and 401(k) plans. Please note, however, that the age for qualified charitable distributions remains age 70 1/2.
- Penalty-free withdrawal from IRA for amounts up to $5,000 for birth or adoption of a child.
- Age restriction for contributions to IRAs is eliminated. Prior to the SECURE Act, the age limit was 70 1/2. There is no age restriction for Roth IRA contributions.
- Long-term, part-time employees, age 21 and older who work at least 500 hours per year for three consecutive years are now able to participate in an employer’s 401(k) plan.
- Distribution periods for non-spouse inherited IRAs are limited to a 10-year maximum and all money must be withdrawn within that time period. Individuals who inherited an IRA prior to 2020 are still subject to the old rules.
- Certain home healthcare workers are now able to contribute to a defined contribution plan or IRA.
- Credit limitation for small employer pension plan start-up costs increases to the greater of (1) $500 or (2) the lesser of (a) $250 multiplied by the number of non-highly compensated employees of the eligible employer who are eligible to participate in the plan or (b) $5,000. The credit applies for up to three years.
- New small employer automatic enrollment credit of up to $500 per year to employers to defray startup costs for new section 401(k) plans and SIMPLE IRA plans that include automatic enrollment.
Health Care Taxes Repealed
Three health care-related taxes enacted to fund the Affordable Care Act were repealed. In prior years, the three taxes had been delayed or suspended.
- Medical device excise tax
- Annual fee on health insurance providers
- Excise tax on high cost employer-sponsored health coverage (“Cadillac tax”)
Don’t Miss Out
Tax law is complicated, but help is just a phone call away. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the office.
2020 Tax Withholding: the new Form W-4
Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Certificate, has been redesigned for 2020. Previously, income tax withholding was based on an employee’s marital status and withholding allowances or tied to the value of the personal exemption. With the revised Form W-4, however, income tax withholding is generally based on the worker’s expected filing status and standard deduction for the year. Furthermore, workers can also choose to have itemized deductions, the Child Tax Credit, and other tax benefits reflected in their withholding for the year.
The redesigned Form W-4 makes it easier for withholding to match tax liability. While it uses the same underlying information as the old design, it replaces complicated worksheets with more straightforward questions that make accurate withholding easier for employees.
Here’s what taxpayers should know about the new Form W-4 for 2020:
The form is divided into 5 steps. The only two steps required for all employees are Step 1, where you enter personal information such as your name and filing status, and Step 5, where you sign the form. The form is not valid unless it is signed and dated by the employee. Taxpayers should only complete Steps 2 – 4 only if they apply to your tax situation because doing so will make your withholding more accurately match your liability.
All new employees starting employment in 2020 are required to fill out the new Form W-4; however, employees who have furnished Form W-4 in any year before 2020 are not required to furnish a new form merely because of the redesign. Employers will simply continue to compute withholding based on the information from the employee’s most recently furnished Form W-4.
Employees with a change in life events such as marriage, buying a house, or the birth of a child, however, may want to fill out the form, however.
More than One Job
It is important for people with more than one job at a time (including families in which both spouses work) to adjust their withholding to avoid having too little withheld. For most taxpayers, using the Tax Withholding Estimator located on the IRS website is the most accurate way to do this, although they may fill out the Multiple Jobs Worksheet found in the instructions instead.
If a spouse works both should check the box on their respective Forms W-4; however, only one spouse should fill out the rest of the form (i.e., Steps 3 and 4). If not, and both spouses claim the child tax credit, for example, it is possible that not enough will be withheld and they will owe money at tax time.
Withholding will be most accurate if the highest paid spouse completes Steps 3 – 4(b) on the Form W-4.
As in the past, employees can also choose to have an employer withhold an additional flat-dollar amount each pay period to cover, for example, income they receive from the gig economy, self-employment, or other sources that are not subject to withholding.
If you have any questions about tax withholding, need assistance filling out the redesigned 2020 Form W-4, or would like more information about this topic, please call.
ACA Reporting Requirements for Employers
The health care law contains tax provisions that affect employers. Two parts of the Affordable Care Act apply only to applicable large employers. These are the employer shared responsibility provisions and the employer information reporting provisions for offers of minimum essential coverage.
The size and structure of a workforce determines which parts of the law apply to which employers. Applicable large employers are generally those with 50 or more full-time employees or full-time equivalent employees. Under the employer shared responsibility provision, ALEs are required to offer their full-time employees and dependents affordable coverage that provides minimum value. Employers with fewer than 50 full-time or full-time equivalent employees are not applicable large employers.
As such, calculating the number of employees is especially important for employers that have close to 50 employees or whose workforce fluctuates during the year. You will use information about the size of your workforce during 2019 to determine if your organization is an Applicable large employer (ALE) for 2020.
Who is a Full-time Employee?
There are many additional rules on determining who is a full-time employee, including what counts as hours of service, but in general:
- A full-time employee is an employee who is employed on average, per month, at least 30 hours of service per week, or at least 130 hours of service in a calendar month.
- A full-time equivalent employee is a combination of employees, each of whom individually is not a full-time employee, but who, in combination, are equivalent to a full-time employee.
- An aggregated group is commonly owned or otherwise related or affiliated employers, which must combine their employees to determine their workforce size.
Figuring the Size of the Workforce
To determine your workforce size for a year, you add your total number of full-time employees for each month of the prior calendar year to the total number of full-time equivalent employees for each calendar month of the prior calendar year and divide that total number by 12. If the result is 50 or more employees, you are an applicable large employer.
Employers with Fewer than 50 Employees
If an employer has fewer than 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on average during the prior year, the employer is not an ALE for the current calendar year. Therefore, the employer is not subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions or the employer information reporting provisions for the current year.
Information Reporting (Including Self-Insured Employers)
All providers of health coverage, including employers that provide self-insured coverage, must file annual returns with the IRS reporting information about the coverage and about each covered individual. The coverage is reported on Form 1095-B, Health Coverage and the employer must also furnish a copy of Form 1095-B to the employee by March 2, 2020.
Certain employers may be eligible for the small business health care tax credit if they:
- cover at least 50 percent of employees’ premium costs
- have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees with average annual wages of less than $54,200 in 2019 (indexed for inflation)
- purchase their coverage through the Small Business Health Options Program.
Employers with fewer than 50 full-time employees or full-time equivalent employees are not subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions.
Employers with 50 or More Employees
All employers including applicable large employers that provide self-insured health coverage must file an annual return for individuals they cover, and provide a statement to responsible individuals.
Applicable large employers must file an annual return–and provide a statement to each full-time employee–reporting whether they offered health insurance, and if so, what insurance they offered their employees.
ALEs are required to furnish a statement to each full-time employee that includes the same information provided to the IRS by March 2, 2020. ALEs that file 250 or more information returns during the calendar year must file the returns electronically.
Employer Shared Responsibility Payment
ALEs are subject to the employer shared responsibility payment if at least one full-time employee receives the premium tax credit and any one these conditions apply. The ALE:
- failed to offer coverage to full-time employees and their dependents
- offered coverage that was not affordable
- offered coverage that did not provide a minimum level of coverage
Questions? Don’t hesitate to call.
Claiming an Elderly Parent or Relative as a Dependent
Are you taking care of an elderly parent or relative? Whether it’s driving to doctor appointments, paying for nursing home care or medical expenses, or handling their personal finances, dealing with an elderly parent or relative can be emotionally and financially draining, especially when you are taking care of your own family as well.
Fortunately, there is some good news. You may be able to claim your elderly relative as a dependent at tax time, as long as you meet certain criteria.
Here’s what you should know about claiming an elderly parent or relative as a dependent:
Who Qualifies as a Dependent?
The IRS defines a dependent as a qualifying child or relative. A qualifying relative can be your mother, father, grandparent, stepmother, stepfather, mother-in-law, or father-in-law, for example, and can be any age.
There are four tests that must be met in order for a person to be your qualifying relative: not a qualifying child test, member of household or relationship test, gross income test, and support test.
Not a Qualifying Child
Your parent (or relative) cannot be claimed as a qualifying child on anyone else’s tax return.
He or she must be U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico; however, a parent or relative doesn’t have to live with you in order to qualify as a dependent.
If your qualifying parent or relative does live with you, however, you may be able to deduct a percentage of your mortgage, utilities, and other expenses when you figure out the amount of money you contribute to his or her support.
To qualify as a dependent, income cannot exceed the personal exemption amount, which in 2019 was $4,200 ($4,300 in 2020). In addition, your parent or relative, if married, cannot file a joint tax return with his or her spouse unless that joint return is filed only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid.
You must provide more than half of a parent’s total support for the year such as costs for food, housing, medical care, transportation and other necessities.
Claiming the Dependent Care Credit
You may be able to claim the child and dependent care credit if you paid work-related expenses for the care of a qualifying individual. The credit is generally a percentage of the amount of work-related expenses you paid to a care provider for the care of a qualifying individual. The percentage depends on your adjusted gross income. Work-related expenses qualifying for the credit are those paid for the care of a qualifying individual to enable you to work or actively look for work.
In addition, expenses you paid for the care of a disabled dependent may also qualify for a medical deduction (see next section). If this is the case, you must choose to take either the itemized deduction or the dependent care credit. You cannot take both.
Claiming the Medical Deduction
If you claim the deduction for medical expenses, you still must provide more than half your parent’s support; however, your parent doesn’t have to meet the income test.
The deduction is limited to medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent and you can include your own unreimbursed medical expenses when calculating the total amount. If, for example, your parent is in a nursing home or assisted-living facility. Any medical expenses you paid on behalf of your parent are counted toward the 7.5 percent figure. Food or other amenities, however, are not considered medical expenses.
What if you share caregiving responsibilities?
If you share caregiving responsibilities with a sibling or other relative, only one of you – the one proving more than 50 percent of the support – can claim the dependent. Be sure to discuss who is going to claim the dependent in advance to avoid running into trouble with the IRS if both of you claim the dependent on your respective tax returns.
Sometimes, however, neither caregiver pays more than 50 percent. In that case, you’ll need to fill out IRS Form 2120, Multiple Support Declaration, as long as you and your sibling both provide at least 10 percent of the support towards taking care of your parent.
The tax rules for claiming an elderly parent or relative are complex but if you have any questions, help is just a phone call away.
Do You Need to File a 2019 Tax Return?
Most people file a tax return because they have to, but even if you don’t, there are times when you should – because you might be eligible for a tax refund and not know it. The tax tips below should help you determine whether you’re one of them.
General Filing Rules
Whether you need to file a tax return this year depends on several factors. In most cases, the amount of your income, your filing status, and your age determine whether you must file a tax return. For example, if you’re single and 24 years old you must file if your income, was at least $12,200. If you are age 65 or older, income thresholds are higher ($13,850 in 2019 for single filers). If you’re self-employed or if you’re a dependent of another person, other tax rules may apply (see below).
Tax Withheld or Paid
Did your employer withhold federal income tax from your pay? Did you make estimated tax payments? Did you overpay last year, and have it applied to this year’s tax? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you could be due a refund, but you have to file a tax return to receive the refund.
Eligibility for Certain Tax Credits
1. Premium Tax Credit. If you, your spouse , or a dependent was enrolled in healthcare coverage purchased from the Marketplace in 2019 you might be eligible for the Premium Tax Credit if you chose to have advance payments of the premium tax credit sent directly to your insurer during the year; however, you must file a federal tax return and reconcile any advance payments with the allowable premium tax credit.
2. Earned Income Tax Credit. Did you work and earn less than $55,952 last year? You could receive EITC as a tax refund if you qualify with or without a qualifying child. You may be eligible for up to $6,557. If you qualify, file a tax return to claim it.
3. Additional Child Tax Credit. Do you have at least one child that qualifies for the Child Tax Credit? If you don’t get the full credit amount, you may qualify for the Additional Child Tax Credit and receive a refund even if you do not owe any tax.
4. American Opportunity Credit. The AOTC (up to $2,500 per eligible student) is available for four years of post-secondary education. You or your dependent must have been a student enrolled at least half-time for at least one academic period. Even if you don’t owe any taxes, you still may qualify; however, you must complete Form 8863, Education Credits, and file a return to claim the credit.
5. Health Coverage Tax Credit. If you, your spouse, or a dependent received advance payments of the health coverage tax credit, you will need to file a 2019 tax return. Form 1099-H, Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) Advance Payments, shows the amount of the advance payments.
You must file a return in other situations as well, including, but not limited to the following situations:
- You owe special taxes such as the alternative minimum tax (AMT), additional tax on qualified plans such as an individual retirement arrangement (IRA), or another tax-favored account, or household employment taxes. However, if you are filing a return only because you owe these taxes, you can file Schedule H, Household Employment Taxes, by itself.
- You (or your spouse if filing jointly) received Archer MSA, Medicare Advantage MSA, or health savings account distributions.
- You had net earnings from self-employment of at least $400.
- You had wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified church-controlled organization that is exempt from employer social security and Medicare taxes.
If you have any questions about whether you should file a return, please contact the office.
Six Facts About Form 1040-SR
Taxpayers aged 65 or older now have the option to use Form 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors, thanks to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which required the IRS to create a new tax form for seniors. Here are six facts you should know:
1. Form 1040-SR is designed with larger font size (i.e., “large print”) as well as a standard deduction chart, both of which make it easier for older Americans to read and use. Taxpayers who electronically file Form 1040-SR may notice the change when they print their return.
2. Both the 1040 and the 1040-SR use the same “building block” approach introduced last year that can be supplemented with additional Schedules 1, 2 and 3 as needed. Many taxpayers with basic tax situations can file Form 1040 or 1040-SR with no additional schedules.
3. Taxpayers born before January 2, 1955, have the option to file Form 1040-SR whether they are working, not working or retired. The form allows income reporting from other sources common to seniors such as investment income, Social Security and distributions from qualified retirement plans, annuities or similar deferred-payment arrangements.
4. Seniors can use Form 1040-SR this year to file their 2019 federal income tax return, which is due April 15, 2020. All lines and checkboxes on Form 1040-SR mirror the Form 1040 and both forms use all the same attached schedules and forms. The revised 2019 Instructions cover both Forms 1040 and 1040-SR.
5. Eligible taxpayers can use Form 1040-SR whether they plan to itemize or take the standard deduction. Taxpayers who itemize deductions can file Form 1040-SR and attach Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, when filing a paper return. For those taking the standard deduction, Form 1040-SR includes a chart listing the standard deduction amounts, making it easier to calculate. It also ensures seniors are aware of the increased standard deduction for taxpayers age 65 and older.
6. Married people filing a joint return can use the Form 1040-SR regardless of whether one or both spouses are age 65 or older or retired.
If you have any questions about Form 1040-SR, don’t hesitate to call.
Student Loans: Cancellation of Debt Relief
Taxpayers who took out federal or private student loans to finance their attendance at a nonprofit or for-profit school now qualify for safe harbor with regard to cancellation of debt income for discharged student loans. Relief is also extended to any creditor that would otherwise be required to file information returns and furnish payee statements for the discharge of any indebtedness within the scope of this revenue procedure.
Previously, the Treasury Department and the IRS provided relief for federal loans discharged by the Department of Education under the Closed School or Defense to Repayment discharge process, or where the private loans are discharged based on settlements of certain types of legal causes of action against nonprofit or other for-profit schools and certain private lenders. However, this relief is now extended to taxpayers who took out federal and private student loans to finance attendance at nonprofit or other for-profit schools not owned by Corinthian College, Inc. or American Career Institutes, Inc.
What this means for taxpayers
Under the safe harbor, taxpayers should not report the amount of the discharged loan in gross income on his or her federal income tax return. Additionally, the IRS will not require that a creditor must file information returns and furnish payee statements for the discharge of any indebtedness within the scope of this revenue procedure.
Please contact the office if you have any questions about this topic.
Figuring out Your Correct Filing Status
Your filing status determines which tax forms you need to file, the amount of your standard deduction, eligibility for certain tax credits, and how much tax you owe. In some cases, it may even impact whether you need to file a federal income tax return.
Single, married, divorced? Kids or no kids? These are just a few of the questions that help you figure out your correct filing status when filing your income tax return. While the most common filing statuses are “Single,” “Married Filing Jointly,” and “Head of Household,” there are five different filing status options listed on a federal tax return. Here are the five:
1. Single. Single filing status generally applies if you are not married, divorced or legally separated according to state law.
2. Married Filing Jointly. A married couple may file a return together using the Married Filing Jointly status. If your spouse died during 2019, you usually may still file a joint return for that year.
3. Married Filing Separately. If a married couple decides to file their returns separately, each person’s filing status would generally be Married Filing Separately.
4. Head of Household. The Head of Household status generally applies if you are not married and have paid more than half the cost of maintaining a home for yourself and a qualifying person.
5. Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child. This status may apply if your spouse died during 2017 or 2018 and you didn’t remarry before the end of 2019, you have a dependent child and you meet certain other conditions.
Sometimes more than one filing status applies, so it is important to work with a tax professional that can help you figure out which filing status is more beneficial, resulting in the lowest amount of tax owed. Something else to keep in mind is that your marital status on the last day of the year is your marital status for the entire year, so if your divorce is not final on December 31, you are still considered “married” for the 2019 tax year.
Tips for Taxpayers Who Make Money From a Hobby
Many people enjoy hobbies that are also a source of income. From soap making and pottery to calligraphy and designing jewelry, these activities can be sources of both fun and finances. However, taxpayers who make money from a hobby should know that they must report that income on their tax return.
Generally, if someone has a business, they operate the business to make a profit. In contrast, people engage in a hobby for sport or recreation, and not to make a profit.
Taxpayers should consider the following nine factors when determining whether their activity is a business or a hobby and base their determination on all the facts and circumstances of their activity. No one factor alone is decisive, however, and it is important to consider all of these factors when deciding whether an activity is a business engaged in making a profit.
- Whether you carry on the activity in a businesslike manner and maintain complete and accurate books and records.
- Whether the time and effort you put into the activity indicate you intend to make it profitable.
- Whether you depend on income from the activity for your livelihood.
- Whether your losses are due to circumstances beyond your control (or are normal in the startup phase of your type of business).
- Whether you change your methods of operation in an attempt to improve profitability.
- Whether you or your advisors have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business.
- Whether you were successful in making a profit in similar activities in the past.
- Whether the activity makes a profit in some years and how much profit it makes.
- Whether you can expect to make a future profit from the appreciation of the assets used in the activity.
If a taxpayer receives income for an activity that they don’t carry out to make a profit, the expenses they pay for the activity are considered miscellaneous itemized deductions and cannot be deducted for tax years 2018 through 2025. The taxpayer, however, must still report income they receive on Schedule 1, Form 1040, line 21.
If you have any questions about whether your hobby is actually a business in the eyes of the IRS, don’t hesitate to call.
Start 2020 Right: Get into the Report Habit
Whether or not you made New Year’s resolutions, for many business owners, the beginning of a new year means a fresh start – including incorporating new habits that help improve your company’s financial bottom line such as committing to using the reporting tools QuickBooks offers. After all, you can’t possibly know how your business is doing unless you take advantage of this critical feature. Think of it as the payoff for all the hard work you do keeping up with your daily accounting workflow. To help you get started, here’s what you need to do:
Visit QuickBooks’ Report Center
As you know. QuickBooks devotes an entire menu to reports, dividing them into types (Sales, Purchases, Inventory, etc.). When you hover your mouse over one of these categories after opening the Reports menu, you’ll see a list of all related reports.
Click on Report Center, though, and you’ll see a kind of home page for reports. They’re categorized by type, just like in the main Reports menu, but there’s much more you can do here.
Figure 1: Click on a report name in the Report Center and you’ll have numerous options.
When you click on the graphic representing a report, you’ll first be able to change the date range by clicking on the down arrow. Then you can Run the report, see a brief explanation by clicking Info, click on Fave to add it to your list of Favorites, or open Help. The tabs at the top of the screen allow you to toggle between these Standard views, reports you’ve Memorized, Favorites, Recent, and Contributed (report templates created by individuals outside of Intuit).
If you know exactly what reports you want to run it’s probably easier to just use the Reports menu, but the Report Center is a great place to learn about and organize your content.
Customize Your Reports
You’re probably used to changing the date range on your reports, but have you ever explored any of QuickBooks’ other customization tools? You can use them in any report. Click the Customize Report button in the upper left. Click on the Display tab, and you can change the report’s columns by checking or unchecking entries in the list. Filters are more complex, and you may need our help setting up very specific, multi-filter reports. They offer a way to pare down your report to contain just the data you want. You could, for example, prepare a report that only includes one or more Transaction Types or customers who live in a specified state.
Memorize Your Reports
Once you’ve changed columns and filters in a report you’ll run frequently, you can save those settings, so you don’t have to go through all of that again. Open any report and click the Memorize button in the upper toolbar. The window that opens will ask if you want to save that customized report to a Memorized Report Group, which you can do by clicking the box and opening the list of groups. Either way, you can find your report by opening the Reports menu and selecting Memorized Reports.
Figure 2: If you want to create a new Memorized Report Group, open the Reports menu and click Memorized Reports | Memorized Report List. Open the Memorized Report drop-down menu and select New Group.
Schedule Your Reports
The best way to get your report habit started is by creating a schedule of reports you need to see regularly. You can do this by setting up Reminders (Company | Reminders). Click the gear icon in the upper right corner to specify your Preferences and the + (plus) sign to add a reminder. QuickBooks 2017 and later versions offer a scheduling tool that allows you to share reports with others, but please don’t try this on your own; it’s a complicated procedure with many rules.
You’ve probably noticed that there is a report category called Accountant & Taxes. Some of these should be created monthly or quarterly, but you’ll need our help analyzing them as well.
Without knowing the current financial state of your company, it’s difficult to make realistic, effective plans for the future. If you’re ready to start the year off right, help is just a phone call away.
Tax Due Dates for February 2020
Employees – who work for tips. If you received $20 or more in tips during January, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.
Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2019. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time.
Farm Employers – File Form 943 to report Social Security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2019. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.
Certain Small Employers – File Form 944 to report Social Security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2019. This tax due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.
Employers – Nonpayroll taxes. File Form 945 to report income tax withheld for 2019 on all nonpayroll items. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.
Employers – Federal unemployment tax. File Form 940 for 2019. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year in full and on time.
Employers – Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in January.
Employers – Nonpayroll withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in January.
All businesses. Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments made during 2019. You can use the appropriate version of Form 1099 or other information return. This due date applies only to payments reported on Form 1099-B, Form 1099-S, and substitute payments reported in Box 8 or gross proceeds paid to an attorney reported in Box 14, respectively.
Individuals – If you claimed exemption from income tax witholding last year on the Form W-4 you gave your employer, you must file a new Form W-4 by this date to continue your exemption for another year.
Employers – Begin withholding income tax from the pay of any employee who claimed exemption from withholding in 2019, but did not give you a new Form W-4 to continue the exemption this year.
Businesses – File information returns (for example, certain Forms 1099) for certain payments you made during 2019. However, Form 1099-MISC reporting nonemployee compensation must be filed by January 31. There are different forms for different types of payments. Use a separate Form 1096 to summarize and transmit the forms for each type of payment. See the General Instructions for Certain Information Returns for information on what payments are covered, how much the payment must be before a return is required, what form to use, and extensions of time to file.
If you file Forms 1097, 1098, 1099 (except a Form 1099-MISC reporting nonemployee compensation), 3921, 3922 or W-2G electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms generally remains January 31.
Payers of Gambling Winnings – File Form 1096, Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns, along with Copy A of all the Forms W-2G you issued for 2019. If you file Forms W-2G electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains January 31.
Health Coverage Reporting – If you are an Applicable Large Employer, file paper Forms 1094-C, Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns, and 1095-C with the IRS. For all other providers of minimum essential coverage, file paper Forms 1094-B, Transmittal of Health Coverage Information Returns, and 1095-B with the IRS. If you are filing any of these forms with the IRS electronically, your due date for filing them will be extended to March 31.
Large Food and Beverage Establishment Employers – with employees who work for tips. File Form 8027, Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips. Use Form 8027-T, Transmittal of Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips, to summarize and transmit Forms 8027 if you have more than one establishment. If you file Forms 8027 electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to April 2.
Health Coverage Reporting – If you are an Applicable Large Employer, provide Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage, to full-time employees. For all other providers of minimum essential coverage, provide Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, to responsible individuals.
Farmers and Fishermen – File your 2019 income tax return (Form 1040) and pay any tax due. However, you have until April 15 to file if you paid your 2019 estimated tax by January 15, 2020.
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