Things to Consider With a Tax Extension

When it comes to filing yearly income tax returns, you find all types. There are those who are itching to file right after the New Year’s champagne toast, and those who trudge toward April 15 as if it were Armegeddon. And of course there are plenty of people who fall somewhere in between.

Because income can come from many different sources, and at all sorts of different levels, filing taxes is much more of a strain for some than others. Some may wind up with a quick and easy return, while others struggle to find the time, and sometimes the money to meet the deadline.

For those who see April 15 approaching a little too quickly, there is the option of filing the IRS form 4868 to get an extension. By filing an extension, taxpayers have an additional six months to file their taxes. But although there may be extra time, there may also be an extra expense. An extension allows a tax payer extra time to file, but not extra time to pay. If you are one of those who has to pay into the IRS or your state’s revenue department, holding off could mean that you’ll have to pay more. With an extension there is more time to file, but not more time to pay.

In order to limit fees, penalties, and interest taxpayers are best off paying their taxes at the time that they file for the extension. This can be tricky for some who don’t necessarily know what they owe. In order to make the process a bit easier, your tax accountant can estimate what you might owe. While not guaranteed to be accurate, these estimates will give you a place to start when it comes to knowing your tax bill.

If paying the whole amount is not feasible, pay what you can. Any penalties and interest will be calculated based on what you owe after April 15. If you’re due a refund, you won’t be charged penalties or interest. The following situations can make your tax obligation creep upwards: failing to file on time (your 4868 should take care of this), failing to pay, and Interest.

Failing to file can bring you a penalty of as much as 25% of your tax bill. For each month your return is late, 5% is added to your tax bill. This maxes out at 25%. The failure to pay penalty is less per month — only .5%, however this does not max out so delaying that payment too long could really add up. Interest charges can vary somewhat, but is currently around 4% of the amount that was underpaid.

If you’re feeling rushed or overwhelmed, knowing that there is an option to file an extension can bring some peace of mind, but still even with that extension it is always in the taxpayers best interest to get their taxes in order as soon as they can.

Here at Crowley & Halloran CPA’s, our consultants would be happy to help you plan and manage your business budget. Click here to request a proposal..

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Tax Season is Here Again– Are You Ready?

Are you one of those who wait till the last minute to do your taxes? Tax season has started; to be precise, on January 30, 2013, and that’s when our friends at the IRS begin to process personal tax or business tax returns. This is the right time to file your taxes, and this year, you have the added advantage of preparing and filing your taxes by the deadline on April 15th. Unless you get your documents in place, you will need to race to the meet deadline and then have to deal with stress that can be avoided in the first place.

So, here are some pointers to share with you about what the 2013 tax season brings in, right from the horse’s mouth, so you can get yourself organized.

A brand new, easy to navigate and redesigned IRS.gov is out there to welcome you. It has service options that are ready to wow you–additional video-conferencing guidance as well as tools on social media. You can easily get all the latest tax info out there, and if you are keen on learning more, you are directed to the IRS YouTube channel that you can see right here at http://www.youtube.com/user/irsvideos. IRS has further intensified its efforts to protect you, dear taxpayer, from any frauds or identity thefts.

Did you know that you could actually check the status of your tax refunds on your smartphone? With the IRS smartphone application, IRS2Go which is available for both Apple and Android users, you can also clarify any other tax related doubts when you are on the go.

While this year’s late legislation has affected several forms, details of which are listed on the IRS website, they hope to begin accepting these forms later this month and in March as well. Watch this space to find out more.

Another favorable change is in the tracking system that you would use after you have filed your returns on the “Where’s my refund” section of the IRS site. From this year onwards, you can look forward to an exact refund date, rather than the estimated date used up until last year, and this information is available after your tax returns have been processed and approved by the department.

So, let us all begin the laborious task of getting our records in place–receipts that depict your income, like your bank deposit slips, receipt books and your credit card charge slips; your purchases as well as your expenses and extend a warm welcome to the whole new tax season 2013.

Here at Crowley & Halloran CPA’s, our consultants would be happy to help you plan and manage your business budget. Click here to request a proposal.

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It’s Tax Season: Here’s Some Write-Offs You Should Know About

Yes, it’s the New Year, which means it’s time to gather your W-2’s and start preparing your tax return. Yes, you’ve got until April to file, but why not start getting your information together now? And a big part of these documents you should be gathering are write-offs. You should already be well aware that you can write-off charitable contributions, money you gave to church and mortgage interest, but here’s a look at some other things that you can write-off to enhance your tax return or minimize what you owe to the IRS.

Student Loan Interest: If you’re still paying off student loans, you can claim the interest paid on them as a write-off.

Business Expenses: Have you purchased items for work that haven’t been covered by your company? Perhaps calendars, electronics, a cell phone, etc.? Write the expenses off on your taxes. As long as your company didn’t buy them for you, that’s an eligible write-off.

Home Business Grant: Do you work out of your home? Then you’re likely eligible for a home business grant, where you can write-off things like energy and utility bills, Internet costs, phone bills, ink cartridges and the costs of any new office equipment on your taxes.

Job Hunting Costs: As our country still lingers from its economic recession, the reality is that many Americans are still looking for work. And with job hunting comes travel expenses, mailing costs, food and room (in the case of overnight trips) and cab fares. Don’t let the opportunity to write these expenses off pass you by should you qualify.

Relocation Costs: Did you get a job within 50 miles of your original address that requires you to move? If you’re not given a relocation allowance by your new employer, these expenses can be written off on your tax return. This includes moving expenses, parking expenses, tolls, etc.

Child Care: You should already be aware of the fact that you can claim your children as a dependent for a tax credit, but did you know that you can also claim up to 35 percent of what you pay for child care services – that is, if you have your children in child care while you’re working? You can – and it’s an opportunity you shouldn’t be passing up. Child care is expensive – don’t be shy about recouping some of the costs.

While tax season for most is anything but fun, utilizing write-offs and deductions to the fullest extent can put money back into your pocket. Now we’re talking fun!

Here at Crowley & Halloran CPA’s, our consultants would be happy to help you plan and manage your business budget. Click here to request a proposal.

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Steps to Prepare for the Tax Season

The start of a new year is a busy time for any individual. Although the year has just begun, it is time to start preparing for the tax season. By starting the preparations early, it is easier to avoid mistakes and ensure the paperwork is ready before deadlines start coming up.

Gather and Organize Paperwork

Although the W2 forms are not normally sent out or even prepared until the middle to the end of January, the forms are only part of the paperwork involved in taxes. Paperwork will also include the tax deductions, charity donation receipts and other receipts related to taxes.

Gathering as much paperwork and documentation as possible beforehand will make it easier to put the information into the tax documents after the W2 forms finally arrive. Early organization and preparation simplifies the amount of organization that is required later, which makes it easier to complete and submit the IRS forms before the due date.

Write Down Questions

Tax paperwork and preparation can lead to many complicated questions. Taking extra time to write down any questions that arise will prevent confusion when the paperwork is being prepared. The taxes that are related to new events, such as filing jointly after marriage when compared to filing separately, can lead to many questions.

When new situations arise or new tax laws are applied to the paperwork, it is important to write down the questions and find out the answers before working on the paperwork. The preparatory step makes it easier to avoid accidental mistakes.

Review Any Changes to Laws

Laws related to taxes are constantly changing as world events and the situation of the country takes different paths. Since the laws can change when new regulations are passed, every individual should learn about any changes to the filing system or any regulations that might apply to a personal situation.

After learning about any changes, determine if other questions arise. The legal aspects of taxes are often confusing and complicated, particularly when it differs from previous years. If any new questions arise related to legalities, then it is important to add the question to the list.

Look for Mistakes

Financial statements are not always accurate. Before using any financial statements on tax paperwork, it is important to look for and correct any mistakes. Although mistakes are uncommon, catching problems and changing the data to accurate figures will reduce the risk of accidentally filing the wrong information.

With the tax season around the corner, it is important to start taking steps to prepare the paperwork and documentation. Early organization is a key part of simplifying the process and avoiding complications when the tax paperwork is filed.

Here at Crowley & Halloran CPA’s, our consultants would be happy to help you plan and manage your business budget. Click here to request a proposal.

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The Saver’s Credit for Retirement

For many low- and moderate-income workers it can be hard to save for what seems like an elusive retirement. Many feel like they might work long after retirement age because saving just seems impossible. The IRS has a special tax credit that can help offset the cost of setting up a retirement saving plan.

This tax credit, known as the retirement saving contributions credit or the saver’s credit, helps offset part of the first $2,000 dollars that workers voluntarily contribute to an IRA or 401(k) plan. This credit is only for eligible workers that set up a new retirement account or add to an existing account before April 15, 2013. To find out what your filing status is for this tax credit see Form 8880 for instructions.

So what qualifies you for this tax credit and who can claim this credit? Several groups of workers that can qualify for the credit, including:

  • Married couples that file jointly with incomes up to $57,500 in 2012 or $59,000 in 2013
  • Heads of households with incomes up to $43,125 in 2012 or $44,250 in 2013
  • Married individuals filing separately and singles with incomes up to $28,750 in 2012 or $29,500 in 2013

Other rules that apply to the credit are:

  • You must be an eligible taxpayer 18 years old and older.
  • You cannot be claimed as a dependent on anyone else’s tax return.
  • You cannot not be a student, which is someone enrolled full-time during any part of 5 calendar months during the year.

Like any other tax credit this can increase a taxpayer’s refund or reduce the amount of taxes owed. Even though the maximum tax credit is $1000 for individuals and $2000 for married couples, the IRS wants to caution taxpayers. This tax credit is usually much lower because of other deductions and credit and for some taxpayers it may even be nothing. This should not discourage workers from trying to get the credit. Even a little can help a lot.

Here at Crowley & Halloran CPA’s, our consultants would be happy to help you plan and manage your business budget. Click here to request a proposal.

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Global Opportunities: Small Businesses Make the Leap

Crowley Halloran Conference RoomIn today’s business environment, the more ways a company can share their product, the better for the company. Markets all over the world hold potential for small business, but what does it take to get into the foreign markets? Can small business take advantage of the global opportunities? The answer is yes. The global economy has never had more opportunities for small business, and with a strong global financial strategy, small businesses are competing in foreign markets.

To succeed globally, small businesses need to create a global financial strategy. Small businesses will face common issues and a few roadblocks in the global market, but having a well-defined plan can make the difference between being successful and failing in the new market

Some questions to consider when creating your plan are:

  • What performance indicators need measured for both financial and operation purposes?
  • How will accounts receivable and payable be set up and managed?
  • Is there enough support for multiple locations and countries?
  • How will the company keep control over the global financial process?
  • How are local tax regulations and requirements managed for each foreign location?
  • How are different currencies handled in foreign locations?

Being able to answer these questions and any other unique question regarding your company is the best way to start.

Some strategies that help in making a successful transition are setting up multi-entity accounting, understanding foreign tax laws and codes, managing multiple foreign currencies, and having local human resources. Businesses with multi-entity accounting have consolidated their business processes. By consolidating business processes, the company will eliminate duplicate work, create a standard workflow, and be able to support the demands of a more complex business model. Hiring a local accounting firm to help with all the local tax codes and regulations would be extremely useful when breaking into the global market. They will be able to navigate your business through the different regulations, and be able to keep up with the different currency fluctuations. They can also be part of your management team that will take care of the day-to-day running of the business.

Ventures into a new market are exciting new opportunities for small businesses. With a proper plan and a good management team, anyone, even a small business, can take advantage of the global business opportunities.

Here at Crowley & Halloran CPA’s, our consultants would be happy to help you plan and manage your business budget. Click here to request a proposal.

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IRS Payment Plan

If you were unable to file your taxes by April 15, you are not alone. Around 5.5 million business tax extensions are filed every year. This extra six months is a nice cushion if you just couldn’t get everything done on time, but the next deadline, October 15, is coming. And since the IRS only allows one 6-month extension to file form 1040, it is time to scurry.

It is vital that you file on time or you may be subject to fees and penalties. If you are concerned that you will be financially unable to pay everything you owe immediately, consider the IRS’ installment agreement. Let’s look at this "payment plan" so you are prepared.

It is perfectly acceptable to make monthly payments with the IRS installment agreement if you are financially unable to pay your tax debt.

To proceed with this IRS installment agreement process, you must:

  • File all required tax returns
  • Consider other sources, like a loan or credit card, to pay your tax debt completely to save money
  • Figure out the largest monthly payment you can afford to make, with a $25 minimum payment, and
  • Understand that any future tax refunds will be applied to your tax debt until it is paid off

Next, you can avoid the fee for setting up an installment agreement if you pay the full debt amount within 120 days. If that is your plan, you will need to specify this option when you sign up. But you will still need to call if you owe more than $50,000.

The fees for setting up an installment agreement are:

  • Direct Debit – $52
  • Standard or Payroll Deduction – $105
  • Lower Income Level – $43

There are a few ways to apply for an installment agreement:

  • If you owe $50,000 or less (including individual income tax, interest and penalties), apply online
  • You may call the phone number on your bill or notice
  • You may mail the completed Form 9465-FS.

After all this work to file an installment agreement, be sure to keep your account in good standing. This is easily accomplished by:

  • Paying, at the very least, your minimum monthly payment when it is due
  • Including your name, address, SSN, daytime phone number, tax year and return type on each payment
  • Filing all tax returns on time
  • Paying all taxes you owe completely and promptly
  • Continuing to make all payments even if a refund is applied to the account balance

If you would like to know more, you may contact Crowley Halloran CPA’s at www.crowleyhalloran.com.

Here at Crowley & Halloran CPA’s, our consultants would be happy to help you plan and manage your business budget. Click here to request a proposal.

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Tips for picking a CPA

Mike Crowley | Crowley Halloran CPA

Michael W. Crowley, CPA - Principal

One of the most critical decisions anyone can make is picking a good-quality, reliable accountant. There are several things to keep in mind when a business owner chooses an accounting firm. Many accountants are excellent, but are they going to meet your business needs?

There are a few basic tips to keep in mind, as a business owner, when choosing a CPA firm:

Certification: The CPA should meet all the states requirements and passed the required exam. It is important that an accountant has met all the requirements and even continues their education to stay certified. It is the best way to know that they are current in all the new procedures and tax laws.

Experience: Make sure the accountant or CPA firm is experienced in the business field that your business specializes in. It is important that they know what the unique business needs are and how to handle any problems that may arise. They should have worked with that business industry before or something very similar.

Size: While the larger, more popular CPA firms may be ok, do not over look the smaller firms. The larger firms can probably take care of all the business needs and more, but the smaller firms will offer a more personalized approach. Many of the larger firms will contract out the smaller firms to work on small accounts anyway, so why not start with the local, smaller firm and go from there. Just make sure they meet the requirements that your business needs.

Get a Referral: One of the most important factors to finding a good, reliable CPA is to get a referral. Ask your friends, family, co-workers and other business owners to see who they would recommend. The best reference usually comes from word of mouth.

Once all the references have been compiled, do some research on the CPA firm and then ask to meet them and conduct an interview. Ask questions and find the right fit for you. Remember your CPA is to be one of your most trusted advisors, so make sure they are the right fit for you and your business.

Here at Crowley & Halloran CPA’s, our consultants would be happy to help you plan and manage your business budget. Click here to request a proposal.

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Small Business Tax Deductions- What to be Thinking About before Tax Time

Since the year is now more than half way over, it is important to keep in mind the different tax deductions that can help your business. There are a few basic tax deductions that small business owners need to think about before tax season approaches. As a business owner it is important that you help your business in every way possible.

Here is a list of a few tax deductions that are easy to keep track of and can help when tax time approaches.

  • Mileage – If a car is used for business purposes then mileage can be recorded. The reimbursement rate for mileage is 55.5 cents per mile. Parking fees and business related tolls may also be deducted. Make sure that you are keeping a mileage log for record all the mileage used for business purpose. No not count any mileage that is personal use.
  • Books and Professional Fees – Spending money on books, including books on legal or tax information, to help you run your business can be very helpful when starting a business. All of these books are deductible at tax time. Also any fees spent on lawyers, tax professionals or consultants can be deducted in the year that they occur.
  • Travel – With some business, travel can be very important in building client relationships. Many business related travel expenses, including plane fare, rental car expenses, taxies, lodging, meals, shopping for business materials, cleaning clothes, phone calls, faxes and tips are all deductible. When combining business and pleasure id ok as long as the main reason for going is business. If the family comes along their expenses are not deductible.

Business Entertaining- Another way to build client relationships is to take them out for a meal. When entertaining a client or perspective client 50% of the check can be deducted at tax time, if business is discussed before, during or after the meal. Make a note on the bill to remember which client and the purpose of the meal.

There are many deductions that can be taken during tax time, and these are just a few. Remember that a good tax professional will guide you through tax time and what you will need.

Here at Crowley & Halloran CPA’s, our consultants would be happy to help you plan and manage your business budget. Click here to request a proposal.

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