March 2019 Newsletter

Tax Tips for Individual Taxpayers

IRS Expecting Refund Delays in 2019

While the Internal Revenue Service was able to open tax season on time this year despite the December 2018 – January 2019 government shutdown, taxpayers may still want to plan for delays in their tax refunds this year. According to Forbes, President Trump’s 2017 tax reform overhaul required many changes to the IRS software and the shutdown prevented developers from making many of those changes on time. That, in addition to new anti-fraud software being implemented on IRS computer systems, means that the IRS has been wading through a backlog since the government reopened at the end of January.

Still, the IRS has historically issued nine out of 10 refunds in fewer than 21 days, and they’ve announced that their goal is to maintain that timeline for most refunds. Refunds for those claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit had to be held, by law, until mid-February. Taxpayers claiming these credits should have begun to see their refunds deposited in bank accounts by February 27th – provided they had filed their returns more than 21 days prior, of course.

Using the “Where’s My Refund?” online tool is the easiest way to check on a refund. Taxpayers can start checking on the status of their return within 24 hours after the IRS receives an e-filed return or four weeks after the taxpayer mailed a paper return. The tool has a tracker that displays progress through three phases: 1) Return Received; 2) Refund Approved; and 3) Refund Sent. All that is needed to use “Where’s My Refund?” is the taxpayer’s Social Security number, tax filing status (such as single, married, head of household) and exact amount of the refund claimed on the return.

The IRS updates “Where’s My Refund?” no more than once every 24 hours, usually overnight, so there’s no need to check your status more often than once a day.

Taxpayers should only call the IRS tax help hotline on the status of their refund if it has been:

If you’ve been waiting for your refund for more than five or six weeks, or if you are not getting a response when you try contacting the IRS, you may want to consider contacting a taxpayer advocate.

IRS Dirty Dozen Tax Scams

Each year, The Internal Revenue Service releases a “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams with a warning to taxpayers to remain vigilant about these aggressive and evolving schemes throughout the year. Their 2018 “Dirty Dozen” list highlights a wide variety of schemes that taxpayers may encounter throughout the year, many… Read More

How a Name Change Can Affect a Tax Return

People can change their name for any number of reasons. From taking a spouse’s name after getting married, giving an adopted child their new family’s name, or returning to one’s former name after a divorce. When this happens, there can be consequences when tax season comes. The IRS wants to make sure taxpayers know a few things when making a name change:

First, failing to report a name change can result in long delays for receiving your tax refund. If the name on a taxpayer’s return doesn’t match the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) records, it will take longer to process that person’s return.

You can avoid this delay by reporting the change to the SSA as soon as the change is made official. A taxpayer should file Form SS-5 – the application for a Social Security Card – in order to report the change and get a new social security card. That way, when the IRS checks with the SSA, the records will match and the return can be processed more quickly.

In the case of an adoption, if the child has already has a Social Security number (SSN), the taxpayer should be sure to inform the SSA of a name change. If the child does not have an SSN, the taxpayer may use an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number on their tax return. An ATIN is a temporary number that taxpayers can apply for by filing Form W-7A, application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions, and file this form with the IRS.

Tax Tips for Small Business Owners

Fringe Benefit Deduction Changes Could Affect Businesses’ Bottom Line

One change from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is to fringe benefit deductions, which can affect both a business’s bottom line and its employees’ deductions. Here some quick things to know about the changes for filing your 2019 tax return:

Transportation fringe benefits: The new law disallows deductions for expenses associated with qualified transportation fringe benefits or expenses incurred providing transportation for commuting, except as necessary for employee safety.

Bicycle commuting reimbursements: Under the new law, employers can deduct qualified bicycle commuting reimbursements as a business expense for 2018 through 2025. The new tax law suspends the exclusion of qualified bicycle commuting reimbursements from an employee’s income for 2018 through 2025. Employers must now include these reimbursements in the employee’s wages.

Moving expenses: Employers must now include moving expense reimbursements in employees’ wages. The new tax law suspends the former exclusion for qualified moving expense reimbursements. There is one exeption for active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces. They can still exclude moving expenses from their income. There is additional guidance on reimbursements for employees’ 2017 moves if an employer reimburses the expenses in 2018. Generally, reimbursements in this situation are not taxed.

Achievement awards: Special rules allow an employee to exclude achievement awards from wages if the awards are tangible personal property. An employer also may deduct awardsw thata re tangible personal property, subject to certain deduction limits. The new law clarifies the definition of tangible personal property.

From AccountingToday: Why a Diversified Marketing System is Better

We’ve all seen one-hit wonders who get off to a blazing start but never diversify their approach, never connect with their audience and subsequently get stuck in first gear… For whatever reason, these businesses were never able to capitalize upon their initial success by cross-selling their followers into other products and services. The same can be said for marketing tactics. Some businesses learn how…. Read More

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