Harless Tax Blog

Harless Tax Blog

Tax season is here: How to make filing relatively painless

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Source: cnbc.com

Keep an eye on your mailbox over the next few weeks: All of the information you need to prepare your return should be on its way.

Filing season for the 2017 tax year began on Jan. 29. This year, the IRS bumped the deadline to file returns to April 17 because the traditional filing date of April 15 falls on a Sunday. And Emancipation Day — a legal holiday in some locations — will be observed Monday, April 16.  See More

Playing Defense as Stock Prices Soar Part 2 of 2

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

As a follow up to our last blog post, Playing Defense as Stock Prices Soar, here are some additional strategies to consider.

Individual circumstances
All of these strategies have advantages and drawbacks, so you should proceed with caution. Very generally, buy and hold strategies might appeal to workers who are some years from retirement. A market drop may turn out to be a buying opportunity, especially for those who are investing periodically through contributions to 401(k) and similar plans. On the other hand, trimming stocks might be prudent for people in or near retirement. Investment opportunities at low stock prices may be reduced, and a market skid can be particularly dangerous for retirees who are tapping their portfolio for spending money.  See More

Factoid: States for Seniors

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Of more than 55 million total Medicare beneficiaries, about 10 million live in just two states: California and Florida.  See More

Did You Know?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Source wsj.com.  About 84% of large employers will offer high-deductible health plans in 2017. Indeed, 35% of large employers will offer only high-deductible plans to their workforce. Some workers’ deductibles will be offset by employers’ contributions to health savings accounts: tax-free funds that workers can use to pay for out-of-pocket health care costs.

[FEB 1] IRA REMINDER: For 2016 and 2017, total contributions to traditional and Roth IRAs cannot be more than $5,500, or $6,500 for those age 50 or older.  See More

IRS Warns Tax Refunds Delayed For Low-Income Americans

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Source CNBC.com. Read Original Article

If your refund is delayed this year, you can thank the IRS — and identity thieves.

Millions of low-income Americans who rely on their annual tax refund to help pay their bills are going to have to wait a few weeks longer to get their check this year as the agency cracks down on fraudsters.

The delays impact 40 million working poor families claiming the earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit.

For 2016, the maximum earned income tax credit is from $506 for no qualifying children to $6,269 for three or more qualifying children.  See More

Certain Syndicated Conservation Easements Now Listed Tax-Avoidance Transactions (Notice 2017-10)

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Source CCH Tax Group. Read Original Article

The IRS has identified certain syndicated conservation easements and substantially similar transactions as tax-avoidance transactions for purposes of Reg. §1.6011-4(b)(2). In the syndicated conservation easement transactions at issue, a promoter offers prospective investors in a partnership or other passthrough entity the opportunity to obtain charitable contribution deductions for conservation easements in amounts that significantly exceed the amount invested. Effective December 23, 2016, these transactions are “listed transactions.”

Taxpayers who filed returns claiming the purported tax benefits of these transactions should take appropriate corrective action and ensure the transactions are properly disclosed. Persons who have entered into these transactions after December 31, 2009, must disclose the transactions for each tax year in which the taxpayer participated in the transactions, provided that the period of limitations for assessment of tax has not ended before December 24, 2016. Material advisors, including appraisers, who make a tax statement after December 31, 2009, with respect to these transactions have disclosure and list maintenance obligations under Code Secs. 6111 and 6112. A taxpayer required to file a disclosure statement with respect to these transactions after December 23, 2016, and before May 1, 2017, that disclosure statement will be timely filed if the taxpayer alternatively files the disclosure with the Office of Tax Shelter Analysis by May 1, 2017. In addition, a material advisor’s disclosure statement will be considered timely filed if the advisor files the disclosure with the Office of Tax Shelter Analysis by May 1, 2017.  See More

How to avoid a 50 percent hit on your retirement savings

Friday, December 30, 2016

Source CNBC. Read Original Article

Putting your RMD to work Make the most of your required minimum distribution Thursday, 19 Nov 2015 | 7:00 AM ET | 01:08 The clock is running out on retirees who haven't taken enough from their retirement accounts this year.

IRS rules on the so-called required minimum distributions generally kick in once you reach age 70½. For 401(k) plans and other defined contribution plans, it's either when you turn 70½. or you retire, whichever is later. If you've inherited an IRA, you might also be subject to RMDs, even if your own retirement is years away.

How much you need to take is usually based on the account balance at the end of the previous year, and your life expectancy based on your age. Fail to withdraw enough, and there's a 50 percent penalty on the shortfall.  See More

Florida Enacts Law Governing Access to Digital Assets

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Source Gunster Private Wealth Services. Read Original Article

After a good deal of debate and undoubtedly no shortage of bargaining with powerful online service providers, Florida finally enacted law covering access to digital assets by others – the Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. This Act allows an individual to grant access to his or her “Digital Assets” upon death or incapacity. Digital Assets are electronic records in which someone has a personal interest or right and include digital 4 Tallahassee 215 South Monroe Street Suite 601 Tallahassee, FL 32301-1804 Phone Number: (850) 521-1980 Tampa 401 East Jackson Street Suite 2500 Tampa, FL 33602 Phone Number: (813) 228-9080 The Florida Keys 35 Ocean Reef Drive Suite 145 Key Largo, FL 33037 Phone Number: (305) 367-2324 Vero Beach 4733 N. Highway A1A Pelican Plaza, Suite 301 Vero Beach, FL 32963 Phone Number: (800) 451-3761 West Palm Beach 777 South Flagler Drive Suite 500 East West Palm Beach, FL 33401-6194 Phone Number: (800) 749-1980 Winter Park 280 West Canton Avenue Suite 330 Winter Park, FL 32789 Phone Number: (407) 647-7645 photographs, files stored in the cloud, electronic bank statements, social media or social network accounts, and, importantly, electronic communications and records such as emails. You can now add provisions to your Last Will and Testament, Revocable Trust Agreement and Durable Power of Attorney permitting your fiduciaries to access, handle, distribute, delete, dispose of and otherwise exercise control over your Digital Assets. This authority may specifically authorize your fiduciaries to have the right to receive and access the “catalog” (information that identifies each person with which a user has had an electronic communication, the time and date of the communication, and the electronic address of the person), and/or the “content” (information concerning the substance or meaning of the communication which has been sent or received by a user) of electronic communications with respect to any Digital Assets. If your estate plan does not include language authorizing access to Digital Assets, your fiduciaries will not have any such access unless you make use of an “online tool” offered by certain service providers to grant such access. In keeping with federal privacy laws, the Act prevents service providers that store electronic communications from releasing such communications to fiduciaries unless the user has affirmatively consented to the disclosure.  See More

Have a Foreign Bank Account? Important Deadline Approaching

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

For those U.S. tax filers that have foreign bank accounts, please keep in mind that you might have one or more reporting requirements related to those accounts. FABR (FinCen 114) is due June 30. Form 8966 is due with your tax return. If you are unsure of whether you are subject to these requirements, please contact Min Huang, or any of the Harless & Associates tax team for help.  See More

Tax Fraud Blotter: 'Disdain and Disrespect'

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

From Account Today Website. Read Original Article >

A roundup of our favorite recent tax fraud cases.

Birmingham, Ala.: Preparer Donald E. Steele, 41, has been indicted for preparing false income tax returns and for intimidating witnesses contacted by the IRS to question about returns he had prepared.

Birmingham, Ala.: Preparer Donald E. Steele, 41, has been indicted for preparing false income tax returns and for intimidating witnesses contacted by the IRS to question about returns he had prepared.

He is charged with seven counts of aiding in the preparation of a false federal return in 2010 or 2011 and with four counts of witness tampering in 2011. At the time, Steele operated Max Tax, a tax prep business owned by his wife.

Steele is charged with making false claims and fabricating deductions on federal returns for five taxpayers. Among the charges is that in 2011 Steele prepared a 2010 tax return for “H.N.D,” fraudulently claiming an exemption for her disabled dependent brother, identified as “K.L.,” when Steele knew that K.L. was H.N.D.’s boyfriend and not disabled. Steele also claimed a $1,000 American Opportunity Tax Credit based on a false claim that K.L. was a student and had incurred $4,000 in education expenses during the 2010 tax year.

Regarding the witness-tampering counts, Steele is charged with calling K.L. some seven or eight times after learning IRS agents were inquiring about the preparation of H.N.D.’s 2010 return and telling K.L. to lie to the agents and tell them that Steele’s wife had prepared H.N.D.’s return. Two other counts of the indictment charge Steele with preparing returns for “A.E.T.” for the calendar years 2009 and 2010, falsely claiming business losses for the taxpayer when she was not self-employed in either year and did not provide Steele any information pertaining to self-employment. Steele claimed a net business loss of $12,049 for A.E.T. in 2009 and a net loss of $11,938 in 2010, according to the indictment.

In another witness-tampering count, Steele is charged with contacting a former preparer at Max Tax and telling her that if IRS agents contacted her, she should withhold information and tell them that he did not prepare any returns and that his wife prepared and transmitted the returns.

The maximum for aiding in the preparation of a false federal income tax return is three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum for witness tampering is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. See More