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INCOME TAX HELP

Income Tax Season for 2017 is over. Are you receiving letters from the IRS or State?
If you have a large tax debt, and you are not sure if you can have that debt reduced?
We can assist you in finding out if you qualify for an Offer in Compromise.
Our EAs have countless hours negotiating with the IRS.

2016 Tax updates

Happy New Year! I hope 2016 was a great year for you and your family. We are looking forward to a healthy, happy and prosperous 2017!

Yet another year has passed an it’s time to gather last year’s financial data and get ready to file your 2016 Income Tax Return.
Please take a moment to read through this letter as it contains important tax updates.

Officially, the tax season begins January 23rd when the IRS will open the gateway to begin accepting electronically filed returns.
Our office is ready to start preparing your taxes before the 23rd once you have all your documents.

Our TAX SEASON OFFICE HOURS will be:
Monday – Friday                  10:00am – 8:00pm
Saturday                                  10:00am – 6:00pm 
Sunday                                     12:00pm – 3:00pm
Of course, we will also be available outside of these hours by appointment only.
If you need a special appointment, please call our office for scheduling.

We are grateful for your patience with us but due to the busy nature of tax season, we ask you to allow a reasonable amount of time for us to prepare your return.  We try to complete returns within one office visit but more complex situations may take additional time.  Also, to make your appointments move more efficiently, please have all documents ready and all calculations totaled before coming in for your appointment.

TAX DUE DEADLINE is APRIL 18, 2017 for the 2016 tax year., EXTENSION DUE DATE is OCTOBER 15, 2017

EXPECTED REFUND DELAYS
New Tax laws require the IRS to hold refunds claiming the Earned Income Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until Feb. 15th.  If your refund includes one of these tax credits, your entire refund will be delayed this year.  We are offering refund advances to client’s that would like to receive an advance on their anticipated refunds.  There are additional fees associated with these loans.  If you are interested, please ask us about this service.

IMPORTANT NEW IRS REGULATIONS 
New IRS Tax regulations require tax professionals to keep Identification cards, social security cards and birth certificates on permanent file for all taxpayers and dependents.  Please bring these in with you to your tax appointment this year.

SECURE CLIENT PORTAL
Security and Identity Theft

We have implemented a “no-click” e-mail policy. This means we will not open any documents that you have sent us via email, which when combined with our latest security software and other steps makes it extremely difficult for electronic intruders to get through our defenses. This brings the question about how you will transfer data to us, and vice versa. We now will accept data from you in 4 ways: regular mail; drop-off; fax; or mandatory upload to our web portal. We know these changes will cause some hassle on your (and our part) but it is the best way to protect your and our confidentiality.  More details to follow.

Health Care (Affordable Care Act – aka Obamacare)
All Americans will be affected, in some manner, by the Affordable Care Act from 2010 (Some people call it Obama Care). One of the requirements is all taxpayers must be covered by health insurance or pay a penalty, and this is proven through the release of Form 1095. If you received a Form 1095 from any issuer or agency we MUST have all copies to prepare your tax return. We must have 1095’s from all persons listed on the tax return, including dependents.

Foreign Accounts
If you have read any news in the last year you know that the IRS is looking closely for offshore accounts. If you have an account, retirement account, or business interest with a value over $10,000 in a foreign country, or a foreign business ownership (not through a mutual fund) please let us know as some special rules will apply to you. There are substantial penalties for failure to disclose these items.

Other Income
If you have any income from AirBNB, Turo, Etsy, EBay, Uber or similar consumer to consumer programs, please let us know because many income tax rules are affected and few of these sites provide you with adequate tax information.

TAX ID NUMBERS (ITINS)
In response to new IRS regulations, many Individual Tax Identification Numbers will be expiring in 2017.  You may need to renew your ITINs this year.  If you receive a renewal letter, please bring it into the office with you.  Even if you don’t receive a letter, you may still need to renew.  We will let you know the new rules during your appointment.

Life Insurance
We now offer Life Insurance and Retirement planning through Prudential Insurance.  Please ask us if you are interested.

REFERRALS
Thank you for all of your referrals!  It is the highest compliment we can receive from you.
For each client referral we will reward you with a $30 gift certificate good towards your tax return preparation fee as our way of saying thank you!

Please find the “What to Bring Checklist” website link for those of you who need a reminder list of things to bring to your appointment.
http://scltaxservices.com/wp-content/uploads/download/Individual.pdf

Thank you and we look forward to working with you again this year.

Client Portal Login Access Information

“Client Portal” link:  https://login.atomanager.com/atom_SCL/webinfodefault.aspx   Through this portal, you will be able to:

  1. Check the Status of your Refund
  2. Get a Copy of your Tax Return
  3. Get a Copy of any document you submitted to us
  4. Send Questions/notes/attachments
  5. Upload Documents
  6. Provide Client Feedback
  7. Request an Appointment
  • Confirm/View your client referrals to us
  1. Update Your Address/Email/Phone/Password

This new portal allows us to better serve our clients by putting each one of you in control.  You can now print, download or save documents documents directly from the portal at your convenience. No longer necessary to call the office to check on your refund or request copies of documents.  As you know, our office is busy during tax season and it sometimes takes us longer to get back to our valued clients than we’d like.  This new portal is also encrypted and password protected making it a much more safe forum to exchange information.   With identity theft on the rise, e-mail is no longer a safe way to exchange documents. We will upload all completed 2016 tax returns and income documents to the client portal.  If you need a prior year, you will need to contact us through the portal and we will upload any additional years you request. As with all new features, there may be some kinks, so please be patient with us as we work them out. As you know, each year we upgrade our office to better serve our clients and we feel that this is a major step in that direction. Please follow the link below to the client portal. Your “Client Portal” link:  https://login.atomanager.com/atom_SCL/webinfodefault.aspx   First time log in:

On the client portal you will see:

 

  Top of Form

Client Portal Login

Please enter your SSN / ITIN / EIN (No Dashes):
Please enter your Password:
Need a Password or Forgot Password?

Bottom of Form

Enter your SSN/ITIN/EIN then Click the link to Need a Password or Forgot Password? to create a new password.

Client Portal Login

To reset your password or create a new password please enter the following information and the system will send you an E-mail/TXT with a new temporary password.
Please enter your email:
Please enter your SSN / ITIN / EIN (No Dashes):
Back

Enter your email and your SSN/ITIN/EIN then Click Go

 

Client Portal Login

Your password has been reset and you will receive an email/TXT shortly with the new password.

Please enter your SSN / ITIN / EIN (No Dashes):
Please enter your Password:
Need a Password or Forgot Password?

Your password will be created/reset and you will receive an email shortly with the new password. You will receive an email from us with a temporary password. Ex:     Your new Client Portal password is: 3dO606D6   Use this temporary password to log in to the portal and you will be asked to change your password.   Once you change your password, you will be logged into your portal.  Please call our office if you are having any difficulties logging in.

2016 Business Tax Updates

Happy New Year! I hope 2016 was a great year for you, your family and your business. We are looking forward to a healthy, happy and prosperous 2017!
Several significant tax law changes took effect in 2016 that may affect your business’s federal tax filings in 2017.  Please take a moment to read through this as it contains important tax updates.

We are grateful for your patience with us but due to the busy nature of tax season, we ask you to allow a reasonable amount of time for us to prepare your return.  Also, to make your appointments move more efficiently, please have all documents ready and all calculations totaled before coming in for your appointment.   Please keep in mind, if you’re Quickbooks file or bookkeeping is incomplete or in total disarray, expect to file an extension.
If SCL Tax Services is completing your bookkeeping, please be sure that we have the necessary documents to complete your annual bookkeeping.  Business Tax Check List 

There are new tax deadlines for some businesses beginning in 2016 (6 month extensions are available if requested)

Partnership Returns (Form 1065)            due March 15th
S-Corp. Returns (Form 1120S)                  due March 15th
Corp. Returns (Form 1120)                        due April 18th

Individual Returns (Form 1040)               due April 18th
FBAR Filing                                                   due April 18th

Accelerated Filing Deadlines for Forms W-2, W-3, and Form 1099-MISC
New for 2016, the deadline for filing both electronic and paper Forms W-2 to employees and to the Social Security Administration (SSA) is January 31, 2017. Previously, the deadline was the end of February to file paper Forms W-2 with the SSA and until the end of March to make electronic filings. The January 31 deadline also applies to Forms W-2AS, W-2GU, W-2VI, W-3 and W-3SS.
If you are filing any Forms 1099-MISC and reporting an amount in Box 7, Nonemployee Compensation, the deadline for filing these forms has also been moved up to January 31, 2017. If you are not reporting an amount in Box 7, the deadline remains February 28 for paper filings and March 31 for electronic filings.
Extensions of time to file Forms W-2 with the SSA are no longer automatic. For filings due on or after January 1, 2017, you may request one 30-day extension and the IRS will only grant the extension in extraordinary circumstances or catastrophe. An extension of time to furnish Forms W-2 to employees may be requested by sending a letter to the IRS, but if an extension is for more than 10 employees, the request must be filed electronically. Requests for an extension of time to furnish Forms W-2 to employees are not automatically granted. If approved, an extension will generally be for no more than 15 days from the due date, unless the need for up to a total of 30 days is clearly shown.

SECURE CLIENT PORTAL
Security and Identity Theft
We have implemented a “no-click” e-mail policy. This means we will not open any documents that you have sent us via email, which when combined with our latest security software and other steps makes it extremely difficult for electronic intruders to get through our defenses. This brings the question about how you will transfer data to us, and vice versa. We now will accept data from you in 4 ways: regular mail; drop-off; fax; or mandatory upload to our web portal. We know these changes will cause some hassle on your (and our part) but it is the best way to protect your and our confidentiality.  More details to follow.

Increased Penalties for Failure to Timely File Certain Information Returns
In addition to the accelerated filing deadlines for 2016 Forms W-2, Forms W-3, and Forms 1099-MISC, higher penalties apply for (1) the failure to file correct Forms W-2 by the due date; (2) the intentional disregard of filing requirements; (3) the failure to furnish Forms W-2; and (4) the intentional disregard of payee statement requirements. In addition to applying to Forms W-2, W-3, and 1099-MISC, other common forms subject to these increased penalties include: Schedules K-1 for Forms 1041, 1065, and 1120S.
Penalties for the late filing of these information returns have also increased. For each information return or payee statement with respect to which a failure occurs, the penalty has been increased from $100 to $250, and the maximum penalty that may be imposed has been increased from $1,500,000 to $3,000,000. The per-failure penalty for intentionally disregard the filing requirements also has been increased, from $250 to $500.

Vehicle Deductions and Substantiation
Deductions for vehicle-related expenses are an important part of most business tax returns. Whether such deductions pass scrutiny with the IRS depends on whether the business complies with the strict substantiation requirements necessary for such deductions. With respect to deductions relating to vehicles, we need to ensure that your business records include the following information with respect to each vehicle used in the business: (1) the amount of each separate expense with respect to the vehicle (e.g., the cost of purchase or lease, the cost of repairs and maintenance); (2) the amount of mileage for each business or investment use and the total miles for the tax period; (3) the date of the expenditure; and (4) the business purpose for the expenditure. The following are considered adequate for substantiating such expenses: (1) records such as an account book, diary, log, statement of expense, or trip sheets; and (2) documentary evidence such as receipts, canceled checks, bills, or similar evidence.
Records are considered adequate to substantiate the element of an expense only if the records are prepared or maintained in such a manner that each recording of an element of the expense is made at or near the time the expense is incurred.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)
This is a Federal tax credit incentive to employers for hiring individuals from certain target groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment.  Employers can hire eligible employees from the following target groups for WOTC: [Unemployed Veterans (including disabled veterans)Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) RecipientsFood Stamp (SNAP) RecipientsDesignated Community Residents (living in Empowerment Zones or Rural Renewal Counties)Vocational Rehabilitation Referred IndividualsEx-FelonsSupplemental Security Income RecipientsSummer Youth Employees (living in Empowerment Zones)].  The credit varies according to each group.  I can provide you with more information if you are an eligible employer.

Foreign Accounts (FBAR)
If you have read any news in the last year you know that the IRS is looking closely for offshore accounts. If you have an account, retirement account, or business interest with a value over $10,000 in a foreign country, or a foreign business ownership (not through a mutual fund) please let us know as some special rules will apply to you. There are substantial penalties for failure to disclose these items.

LIFE INSURANCE
We now offer Life Insurance and Retirement planning through Prudential Insurance.  Please ask us if you are interested.

Please find the “Business Tax Check List” website link here for your convenience.
http://scltaxservices.com/wp-content/uploads/download/Busines.pdf

Officially, the tax season begins January 23rd when the IRS will open the gateway to begin accepting electronically filed returns.
Our office is ready to start preparing your taxes before the 23rd once you have all your documents.

Our TAX SEASON OFFICE HOURS will be:
Monday – Friday                  10:00am – 8:00pm
Saturday                               10:00am – 6:00pm 
Sunday                                  12:00pm – 3:00pm
Of course, we will also be available outside of these hours by appointment only.
If you need a special appointment, please call our office for scheduling.

Thank you and we look forward to working with you again this year.

 

 

Tax Effects of Divorce or Separation

If you are divorcing or recently divorced, taxes may be the last thing on your mind. However, these events can have a big impact on your wallet. Alimony and a name or address change are just a few items you may need to consider. Here are some key tax tips to keep in mind:

  • Child Support.  Child support payments are not deductible and if you received child support, it is not taxable.
  • Alimony Paid.  You can deduct alimony paid to or for a spouse or former spouse under a divorce or separation decree, regardless of whether you itemize deductions. Voluntary payments made outside a divorce or separation decree are not deductible. You must enter your spouse’s Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number on your Form 1040 when you file.
  • Alimony Received.  If you get alimony from your spouse or former spouse, it is taxable in the year you get it. Alimony is not subject to tax withholding so you may need to increase the tax you pay during the year to avoid a penalty. To do this, you can make estimated tax payments or increase the amount of tax withheld from your wages.
  • Spousal IRA.  If you get a final decree of divorce or separate maintenance by the end of your tax year, you can’t deduct contributions you make to your former spouse’s traditional IRA. You may be able to deduct contributions you make to your own traditional IRA.
  • Name Changes.  If you change your name after your divorce, be sure to notify the Social Security Administration. File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. You can get the form on SSA.gov or call 800-772-1213 to order it. The name on your tax return must match SSA records. A name mismatch can cause problems in the processing of your return and may delay your refund.

Health Care Law Considerations

  • Special Marketplace Enrollment Period.  If you lose health insurance coverage due to divorce, you are still required to have coverage for every month of the year for yourself and the dependents you can claim on your tax return. You may enroll in health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace during a Special Enrollment Period, if you lose coverage due to a divorce.
  • Changes in Circumstances.  If you purchase health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you may get advance payments of the premium tax credit. If you do, you should report changes in circumstances to your Marketplace throughout the year. These changes include a change in marital status, a name change, a change of address, and a change in your income or family size. Reporting these changes will help make sure that you get the proper type and amount of financial assistance. This will also help you avoid getting too much or too little credit in advance.
  • Shared Policy Allocation. If you divorced or are legally separated during the tax year and are enrolled in the same qualified health plan, you and your former spouse must allocate policy amounts on your separate tax returns to figure your premium tax credit and reconcile any advance payments made on your behalf.

New Factors Increase Importance of Withholding Check-Up

The IRS is warning against telephone scammers targeting students and parents during the back-to-school season and demanding payments for non-existent taxes, such as the “Federal Student Tax.”

People should be on the lookout for IRS impersonators calling students and demanding that they wire money immediately to pay a fake “federal student tax.” If the person does not comply, the scammer becomes aggressive and threatens to report the student to the police to be arrested. As schools around the nation prepare to re-open, it is important for taxpayers to be particularly aware of this scheme going after students and parents.

 

Scammers are constantly identifying new tactics to carry out their crimes in new and unsuspecting ways. This year, the IRS has seen scammers use a variety of schemes to fool taxpayers into paying money or giving up personal information. Some of these include:

  • Altering the caller ID on incoming phone calls in a “spoofing” attempt to make it seem like the IRS, the local police or another agency is calling.
  • Imitating software providers to trick tax professionals — see IR-2016-103.
  • Demanding fake tax payments using iTunes gift cards — see IR-2016-99.
  • Soliciting W-2 information from payroll and human resources professionals — see IR-2016-34.
  • “Verifying” tax return information over the phone — see IR-2016-40.
  • Pretending to be from the tax preparation industry — see IR-2016-28.

If you receive an unexpected call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here are some of the telltale signs to help protect yourself.

The IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

If you get a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Search the web for telephone numbers scammers leave in your voicemail asking you to call back. Some of the phone numbers may be published online and linked to criminal activity.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page or call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
  • If you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

IRS Warns of Back-to-School Scams

The IRS is warning against telephone scammers targeting students and parents during the back-to-school season and demanding payments for non-existent taxes, such as the “Federal Student Tax.”

People should be on the lookout for IRS impersonators calling students and demanding that they wire money immediately to pay a fake “federal student tax.” If the person does not comply, the scammer becomes aggressive and threatens to report the student to the police to be arrested. As schools around the nation prepare to re-open, it is important for taxpayers to be particularly aware of this scheme going after students and parents.

 

Scammers are constantly identifying new tactics to carry out their crimes in new and unsuspecting ways. This year, the IRS has seen scammers use a variety of schemes to fool taxpayers into paying money or giving up personal information. Some of these include:

  • Altering the caller ID on incoming phone calls in a “spoofing” attempt to make it seem like the IRS, the local police or another agency is calling.
  • Imitating software providers to trick tax professionals — see IR-2016-103.
  • Demanding fake tax payments using iTunes gift cards — see IR-2016-99.
  • Soliciting W-2 information from payroll and human resources professionals — see IR-2016-34.
  • “Verifying” tax return information over the phone — see IR-2016-40.
  • Pretending to be from the tax preparation industry — see IR-2016-28.

If you receive an unexpected call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here are some of the telltale signs to help protect yourself.

The IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

If you get a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Search the web for telephone numbers scammers leave in your voicemail asking you to call back. Some of the phone numbers may be published online and linked to criminal activity.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page or call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
  • If you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

Upcoming Tax Deadlines

September

Th 15 Pay the third installment of your 2016 estimated tax – Use Form 1040-ES.

Th 15 Partnerships: File Form 1065 if you timely requested a 5-month extension.

Th 15 Corporations: File calendar year Form 1120 or 1120S if you timely requested a 6-month extension.

Th 15 Corporations: Deposit the third installment of your 2016 estimated tax.

Fr 30 File Form 730 and pay tax on wagers accepted during August.

Fr 30 File Form 2290 and pay the tax for vehicles first used during August.

October

Mo 17 File Form 5500 if you timely requested an extension on Form 5558.

Mo 17 Individuals: File Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ if you timely requested a 6-month extension.

Mo 17 Electing Large Partnerships: File Form 1065-B if you timely requested a 6-month extension.

Mo 31 File Form 720 for the third quarter.

Mo 31 File Form 730 and pay tax on wagers accepted during September.

Mo 31 File Form 2290 and pay the tax for vehicles first used during September.

Mo 31 File Form 941 for the third quarter.

Mo 31 Deposit FUTA owed through Sep if more than $500.

November

Th 10 File Form 941 for the third quarter if you timely deposited all required payments.

We 30 File Form 730 and pay tax on wagers accepted during October.

We 30 File Form 2290 and pay the tax for vehicles first used during October.

Tax Relief to Louisiana Storm Victims

Louisiana storm victims will have until Jan. 17, 2017, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain tax payments, the Internal Revenue Service announced today. All workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization also qualify for relief.

Following this week’s disaster declaration for individual assistance issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the IRS said that affected taxpayers in East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena and Tangipahoa parishes will receive this and other special tax relief. Other locations in Louisiana and other states may be added in coming days, based on damage assessments by FEMA.

The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on Aug. 11, 2016. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until Jan. 17, 2017 to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. This includes the Sept. 15 deadline for making quarterly estimated tax payments. For individual tax filers, it also includes 2015 income tax returns that received a tax-filing extension until Oct. 17, 2016. The IRS noted, however, that because tax payments related to these 2015 returns were originally due on April 18, 2016, they are not eligible for this relief. A variety of business tax deadlines are also affected including the Sept. 15 deadline for corporation and partnership returns on extension and the Oct. 31 deadline for quarterly payroll and excise tax returns.

In addition, the IRS is waiving late-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due on or after Aug. 11 and before Aug. 26 if the deposits are made by Aug. 26, 2016.

The IRS automatically provides filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in the disaster area. Thus, taxpayers need not contact the IRS to get this relief. However, if an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date falling within the postponement period, the taxpayer can seek to have the penalty abated.

New Factors Increase Importance of Withholding Check-Up

There are several new factors that could affect refunds in 2017. A new tax law change requires the IRS to hold refunds a few weeks for some early filers in 2017 claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit. In addition, the IRS and state tax administrators continue to strengthen identity theft and refund fraud protections, which means some tax returns could again face additional review time next year to protect against fraud. Taking a closer look at the taxes being withheld can help ensure the right amount is withheld, either for tax refund purposes or to avoid an unexpected tax bill next year.

By adjusting the Form W-4 (the form employers use to figure the amount of federal income tax to be withheld from pay), you can ensure that the right amount is taken out of your pay throughout the year so that you don’t pay too much tax and have to wait until you file their tax return to get a refund (if applicable).