All Articles Tagged "tax season"
This article was written exclusively for MadameNoire Business by financial expert Lynn Richardson. Known as the “Madea of Money,” Richardson is a money coach, author, the president of Hip Hop Sisters and COO of Russell Simmons’ Hip Hop Summit. You can follow her on Twitter and on her website. And be sure to join us next Thursday at 7pm ET on @MadameNoireBiz for the next in our #MNBizChats series. We’ll be offering tips and discussing all manner of financial matters. Don’t miss it!
It’s simple: a home-based business will get you a refund when tax season arrives. The average American only takes about eight tax deductions: real estate taxes, mortgage interest, charitable donations, and a few others. But if you have a home-based business — and you actually run your business like a business with the intent to make a profit –there are over 440 tax deductions available to you that you can itemize on Schedule C of your 1040 tax return.
One of my clients organizes her college reunion every year. Between site visits, travel, and meals, she spends over $6,000 each year and she’s never made a profit in the past. Now that she is in business for herself as an event planning consultant, she writes off every bit of the class reunion expense that is related to her home business. (See IRS Pub 334)
Have you ever invited people to your home for a dinner party? Well, if you have a home-based business, and you truly have the intention to discuss business, turn your gathering into a business dinner party! (See IRS Pub 463) Place information about your business near the food. Take pictures of people looking at your business cards. Answer questions about your business and always ask for referrals. When guests ring your doorbell, greet them by saying “How’s business?” Get it? I know you do! You can write off what you spent on meals, invitations, and other items related to your business dinner party.
And yes . . . it’s always business when it comes to the kids too. The IRS allows you to hire your children to work in your home-based business, write off the income you pay them (they don’t have to report it unless it’s over $5,000 annually), then they can use the money they earn to buy school clothes, school supplies and anything else they need. (See IRS Pub 15, Child Employed By Parents) For me, $5,000 times three kids equals $15,000 in additional tax write-offs each year. And when nieces and nephews and god-children ask for money, I hire them to complete a project for my business, I send them a w9 at the end of the year and I write that off too! (See IRS Pub 535)
So, if you haven’t done so already, take a look at what you like to do, what you are good at, and what you spend your time doing for fun and turn it into a business. I’m not suggesting that you pretend to be in business, but rather, that you actually make a decision to BE in business for yourself and get educated about the tax benefits. Most businesses do not require a license or a tax ID number, but check with your local government for registration or permit requirements.
In order for your business to be recognized as a business and not a hobby by the IRS, you must have the intent on making a profit and you must run your business like a business by keeping good records. When you get a receipt, write on the back: who was involved, what you discussed (if it was a dinner meeting), where you were, how much you spent (because receipts fade) and when the event took place. You don’t need a receipt for expenses under $75 (unless it’s for a hotel room) but I suggest you keep them all anyway. Plus, you should keep a small “tax diary” to record your daily business expense notes and mileage. And, of course, meet with your tax professional to discuss your options and how they impact you personally.
Some say this is hard work, but so is being broke! So do the work and remember my mantra, “It’s Always Business.” And keep in mind, your business will grow as a result of your work and you get to interact with people and have a good time. All of that and a tax refund!
For more information on tax rules and regulations, visit IRS.gov.
As we approach the month of November, you’re going to spend your days soon thinking about holiday shopping, decorations, and dinner table place cards. But, don’t forget about your taxes. In fact, it would be best to go ahead and not only start thinking about them, but to begin organizing your paperwork now for early filing.
Because of this year’s government shutdown, the IRS will not begin to process tax returns until one to two weeks after the originally planned January 21st date. If you’e expecting a return and need that money ASAP, you should act in advance. Just because the government is behind schedule does not mean that you should be. Tax season officially starts in December and you will still be able to send your tax returns at any time. Keep ahead of the game and continue to prepare on time — or early — so you’re not pulling your hair out when we’re talking about how close we are to April.
Visiting a tax professional is always a good way to go during tax season. But you still need to prepare, even if someone else going to be doing your taxes for you. We’ve outlined nine tips for making the most of your accountant experience. And hopefully, by following these rules, your accountant is so appreciative they work extra hard to get you the money you deserve.
It’s tax season readers, and we’ve been offering up tons of advice (here, here, here, and here) to help you make it through. But even with all the advice in the world, there’s a chance you could be audited. Dun Dun Dunnnnnn!
We gathered a first-hand account of what it’s like to be audited, giving our brave author anonymity to spare her any further pain. Read on and take heed.
I was audited. It’s everyone’s tax-time nightmare and it can happen to the little guys. In fact, I was 27 years old when it happened, living in New York and making under $50,000 a year. When I got the letter in the mail, I didn’t know what to do. I imagined people yelling at me and demanding thousands more dollars, even though I had dutifully paid my taxes each year.
When the official letter arrived, it was very bare bones. It said I was being audited for the 2008 calendar year and said to come to the IRS office at a set date and time. It then listed several issues that I should be prepared to discuss, including “cash contributions,” “legal and professional services,” and “gross receipts or sales.” What does that mean? Also, the audit could run as long as four hours.
I immediately thought back to 2008 to figure what happened that year. I paid someone to do my taxes because I was freelancing. But that was the year I transitioned from freelancing back to a full-time position, so everything had been confusing.
I was terrified. I emailed my tax guy with a scanned copy of the letter from the IRS. He did nothing to comfort me, just saying audits happen and he would gladly be my representative for the IRS meeting for several hundred dollars. I declined.
Next, I called the examining officer who was assigned to my case, nearly in tears, and asked him if he could tell me more of what I should expect. I was planning to move into my own apartment that spring and didn’t want to spend all the money involved with that if I owed the government thousands of dollars. He, of course, told me there wasn’t much he could say over the phone, but I must have sounded so sad and scared that he eventually looked at my file and quickly calculated a worst-case scenario of owing like $800.
That chat slightly eased my concerns about the money, but I was still terrified of what exactly this audit would entail. A finance-focused friend from my church read over the letter and heard more about my situation, explaining what exactly everything meant and what I can do to prepare.
Our last Facebook chat with the Double Saving Divas tackled a variety of issues having to do with budgeting, saving, and personal finance. Here’s a quick summary of nine of the topics we tackled.
We host Facebook chats with the Double Saving Divas twice per month. Don’t miss the next one! Besides their regular articles, which appear on the MN Business site, we also send reminders on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to follow us on social media to keep up with the latest!
In case you didn’t realize it, there’s an organization called the National Association for the Self-Employed, and they have a program launching today that will offer tax tips and other information and advice on the NASE website. The goal is to help small business owners and the self-employed to file accurate tax forms.
According to the press release announcing the program, there will be weekly tax tips posted on the organization’s website, webinars to answer questions and share details about the filing process, and information about the different ways that the tax code has changed for this year. For instance, ”The standard mileage rate for business use of an automobile has changed from 2011 rates to 55.5 cents per mile for 2012 (and 56.5 cents for 2013).”
The organization is also offering advice about deductions, which many people often don’t take full advantage of.
The NASE has already participated in a story on Yahoo Small Business that offers some tips and tricks to the self-employed and small business owners, as they prepare their tax filings. The NASE is also accepting new members, for those looking for a resource throughout the year.
Everyone’s looking for the best possible refund from their taxes this season, and the best service to use to get the most money back. With an average of $3000 as the tax refund for most filers in 2012, Americans are looking for better and faster ways to maximize refunds in 2013, with many filers looking online for preparation resources.
If you are still looking for tax preparation resources, an e-filing service or a reliable tax calculator to help you out this season, do your research on these nine online tax preparation services.
Tax refunds help Americans in more ways than one. Instead of spending on shoes, clothes and other frivolous items, many Americans are looking forward to their tax money being spent on bills, past due payments and their families, especially with the economic outlook of 2013 and its impact on American spending. Even the IRS has been having trouble keeping up with the influx of tax return requests, asking taxpayers to give them more time to complete filings, which could slow down your refund.
There are about seven weeks left until the final April 15 deadline. But with so many people getting a jump, it’s not too soon to give some thought to how best to use that refund. Find better ways to spend your tax dollars this season, and even get ahead for next year’s tax season, with these wise tax season purchases and investments. You’ll be glad you took the time (and money) to do so!
The 2013 tax season is here, and with many close friends, family members and acquaintances offering their personal services and advice, they might overlook a few of the tax deductions you could possibly qualify for.
Filing your taxes may seem simple enough, but make sure you are getting all you deserve from the year and take note of these commonly overlooked tax deductions before filing and completing your taxes for the season.
As this year’s tax deadline has arrived, many of you have already filed your personal income taxes for 2011. Some of you even filed extra early because you had a big refund coming. But here’s something you should remember about tax refunds: if you’re getting a refund, you’re probably doing something wrong.
Here’s the way your income taxes work. When you start a job, you fill out a W-9 tax form that tells your employer how much you’d like him to withhold from your paychecks to send the IRS in anticipation of your tax obligation. When you file your income taxes the next spring, the IRS compares what you actually owe to what you’ve already paid through paycheck withholding. You only get a refund if you paid too much.
Of course, getting money back is obviously better than owing money. But a tax refund isn’t a bonus. It’s the money you overpaid. It’s just that you’ve essentially allowed the government to hold onto that money all year. They didn’t pay you interest on it. They didn’t give you a nice card. They didn’t even say thank you. They just sent you a check like they’ve done you some sort of favor.
Now some people can’t save any other way or just prefer to receive this money in one big lump sum every year. But if you’re someone who doesn’t need the government to hold your money all year and then hand it back to you when they’re ready, you don’t really want a tax refund. Instead, you could use that extra money to live on throughout the year. Or you could invest it and earn money on it. If that sounds better to you, you should fill out your W-9 tax form in a way that limits the amount your employer takes out of your paycheck so that you’re about even at the end of the year.
Fortunately, the IRS has an online withholding calculator to help you figure out how much you should be sending in from your checks. Using it, you can adjust your W-9 tax form so that you’re paying just what you owe instead of overpaying.
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