Category Archives: Newsletters

2011 December

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Dec, 2011 Newsletter

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our clients! Its still 2011 but the phones are ringing daily with 2012 tax season appointments filling up so please be sure to call early to ensure you get your preferred time slot and day.

Remember that we offer Gift Certificates in any amount to surprise someone special with our professional services ! Visit www.henrykulik.com or call the office for details.

Business (LLCs, Corporations, Schedule Cs) still have time to schedule a year-end review to save dollars and estimate 2011 tax liabilities. Any clients that file as an S-Corporation should have owner/officer compensation paid via W2 if not already. Health insurance costs for that owner/officer should be added to the W2 gross wages. Clients should call the office if you have any questions on this.

In fact, year-end tax planning is especially challenging this year because of uncertainty over whether Congress will enact sweeping tax reform that could have a major impact in 2012 and beyond. And even if there’s no major tax legislation in the immediate future, Congress next year still will have to grapple with a host of thorny issues, such as whether to once again “patch” the alternative minimum tax (e.g., to avoid a drastic drop in post-2011 exemption amounts), and what to do about the post-2012 expiration of the Bush-era income tax cuts (including the current rate schedules, and low tax rates for long-term capital gains and qualified dividends), and the expiration of favorable estate and gift rules for estates of decedents dying, gifts made, or generation-skipping transfers made after Dec. 31, 2012.

Regardless of what Congress does late this year or early the next, there are solid tax savings to be realized by taking advantage of tax breaks that are on the books for 2011 but may be gone next year unless they are extended by Congress. These include, for individuals: the option to deduct state and local sales and use taxes instead of state and local income taxes; the above-the-line deduction for qualified higher education expenses; and tax-free distributions by those age 70 1/2 or older from IRAs for charitable purposes. For businesses, tax breaks that are available through the end of this year but won’t be around next year unless Congress acts include: 100% bonus first year depreciation for most new machinery, equipment and software; an extraordinarily high $500,000 expensing limitation (and within that dollar limit, $250,000 of expensing for qualified real property); and the research tax credit.

We have compiled a checklist of actions based on current tax rules that may help you save tax dollars if you act before year-end. Not all actions will apply in your particular situation, but you will likely benefit from many of them. We can narrow down the specific actions that you can take once we meet with you to tailor a particular plan. In the meantime, please review the following list and contact us at your earliest convenience so that we can advise you on which tax-saving moves to make:

Year-End Tax Planning Moves for Individuals •Increase the amount you set aside for next year in your employer’s health flexible spending account (FSA) if you set aside too little for this year. Don’t forget that you can no longer set aside amounts to get tax-free reimbursements for over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin and antacids. •If you become eligible to make health savings account (HSA) contributions in December of this year, you can make a full year’s worth of deductible HSA contributions for 2011. •Realize losses on stock while substantially preserving your investment position. There are several ways this can be done. For example, you can sell the original holding, then buy back the same securities at least 31 days later. It may be advisable for us to meet to discuss year-end trades you should consider making. •Postpone income until 2012 and accelerate deductions into 2011 to lower your 2011 tax bill. This strategy may enable you to claim larger deductions, credits, and other tax breaks for 2011 that are phased out over varying levels of adjusted gross income (AGI). These include child tax credits, higher education tax credits, the above-the-line deduction for higher-education expenses, and deductions for student loan interest. Postponing income also is desirable for those taxpayers who anticipate being in a lower tax bracket next year due to changed financial circumstances. Note, however, that in some cases, it may pay to actually accelerate income into 2011. For example, this may be the case where a person’s marginal tax rate is much lower this year than it will be next year. •If you believe a Roth IRA is better than a traditional IRA, and want to remain in the market for the long term, consider converting traditional-IRA money invested in beaten-down stocks (or mutual funds) into a Roth IRA if eligible to do so. Keep in mind, however, that such a conversion will increase your adjusted gross income for 2011. • If you converted assets in a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA earlier in the year, the assets in the Roth IRA account may have declined in value, and if you leave things as-is, you will wind up paying a higher tax than is necessary. You can back out of the transaction by recharacterizing the rollover or conversion, that is, by transferring the converted amount (plus earnings, or minus losses) from the Roth IRA back to a traditional IRA via a trustee-to-trustee transfer. You can later reconvert to a Roth IRA. •It may be advantageous to try to arrange with your employer to defer a bonus that may be coming your way until 2012. •Consider using a credit card to prepay expenses that can generate deductions for this year. •If you expect to owe state and local income taxes when you file your return next year, consider asking your employer to increase withholding of state and local taxes (or pay estimated tax payments of state and local taxes) before year-end to pull the deduction of those taxes into 2011 if doing so won’t create an alternative minimum tax (AMT) problem. •Take an eligible rollover distribution from a qualified retirement plan before the end of 2011 if you are facing a penalty for underpayment of estimated tax and the increased withholding option is unavailable or won’t sufficiently address the problem. Income tax will be withheld from the distribution and will be applied toward the taxes owed for 2011. You can then timely roll over the gross amount of the distribution, as increased by the amount of withheld tax, to a traditional IRA. No part of the distribution will be includible in income for 2011, but the withheld tax will be applied pro rata over the full 2011 tax year to reduce previous underpayments of estimated tax. •Estimate the effect of any year-end planning moves on the alternative minimum tax (AMT) for 2011, keeping in mind that many tax breaks allowed for purposes of calculating regular taxes are disallowed for AMT purposes. These include the deduction for state property taxes on your residence, state income taxes (or state sales tax if you elect this deduction option), miscellaneous itemized deductions, and personal exemption deductions. Other deductions, such as for medical expenses, are calculated in a more restrictive way for AMT purposes than for regular tax purposes. As a result, in some cases, deductions should not be accelerated. •Accelerate big ticket purchases into 2011 in order to assure a deduction for sales taxes on the purchases if you will elect to claim a state and local general sales tax deduction instead of a state and local income tax deduction. Unless Congress acts, this election won’t be available after 2011. •You may be able to save taxes this year and next by applying a bunching strategy to “miscellaneous” itemized deductions, medical expenses and other itemized deductions. •If you are a homeowner, make energy saving improvements to the residence, such as putting in extra insulation or installing energy saving windows, or an energy efficient heater or air conditioner. You may qualify for a tax credit if the assets are installed in your home before 2012. •Unless Congress extends it, the up-to-$4,000 above-the-line deduction for qualified higher education expenses will not be available after 2011. Thus, consider prepaying eligible expenses if doing so will increase your deduction for qualified higher education expenses. Generally, the deduction is allowed for qualified education expenses paid in 2011 in connection with enrollment at an institution of higher education during 2011 or for an academic period beginning in 2011 or in the first 3 months of 2012. •You may want to pay contested taxes to be able to deduct them this year while continuing to contest them next year. •You may want to settle an insurance or damage claim in order to maximize your casualty loss deduction this year. Purchase qualified small business stock (QSBS) before the end of this year. There is no tax on gain from the sale of such stock if it is (1) purchased after September 27, 2010 and before January 1, 2012, and (2) held for more than five years. In addition, such sales won’t cause AMT preference problems. To qualify for these breaks, the stock must be issued by a regular (C) corporation with total gross assets of $50 million or less, and a number of other technical requirements must be met. Our office can fill you in on the details. •If you are age 70-1/2 or older, own IRAs and are thinking of making a charitable gift, consider arranging for the gift to be made directly by the IRA trustee. Such a transfer, if made before year-end, can achieve important tax savings. • Take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your IRA or 401(k) plan (or other employer-sponsored retired plan) if you have reached age 70-½. Failure to take a required withdrawal can result in a penalty of 50% of the amount of the RMD not withdrawn. If you turned age 70-1/2 in 2011, you can delay the first required distribution to 2012, but if you do, you will have to take a double distribution in 2012—the amount required for 2011 plus the amount required for 2012. Think twice before delaying 2011 distributions to 2012—bunching income into 2012 might push you into a higher tax bracket or have a detrimental impact on various income tax deductions that are reduced at higher income levels. However, it could be beneficial to take both distributions in 2012 if you will be in a substantially lower bracket that year, for example, because you plan to retire late this year. • Make gifts sheltered by the annual gift tax exclusion before the end of the year and thereby save gift and estate taxes. You can give $13,000 in 2011 to each of an unlimited number of individuals but you can’t carry over unused exclusions from one year to the next. The transfers also may save family income taxes where income-earning property is given to family members in lower income tax brackets who are not subject to the kiddie tax.

Year-End Tax-Planning Moves for Businesses & Business Owners

•Businesses should consider making expenditures that qualify for the business property expensing option. For tax years beginning in 2011, the expensing limit is $500,000 and the investment ceiling limit is $2,000,000. And a limited amount of expensing may be claimed for qualified real property. However, unless Congress changes the rules, for tax years beginning in 2012, the dollar limit will drop to $139,000, the beginning-of-phaseout amount will drop to $560,000, and expensing won’t be available for qualified real property. The generous dollar ceilings that apply this year mean that many small and medium sized businesses that make timely purchases will be able to currently deduct most if not all their outlays for machinery and equipment. What’s more, the expensing deduction is not prorated for the time that the asset is in service during the year. This opens up significant year-end planning opportunities. •Businesses also should consider making expenditures that qualify for 100% bonus first year depreciation if bought and placed in service this year. This 100% first-year writeoff generally won’t be available next year unless Congress acts to extend it. Thus, enterprises planning to purchase new depreciable property this year or the next should try to accelerate their buying plans, if doing so makes sound business sense. •Nail down a work opportunity tax credit (WOTC) by hiring qualifying workers (such as certain veterans) before the end of 2011. Under current law, the WOTC won’t be available for workers hired after this year. •Make qualified research expenses before the end of 2011 to claim a research credit, which won’t be available for post-2011 expenditures unless Congress extends the credit. •If you are self-employed and haven’t done so yet, set up a self-employed retirement plan. •Depending on your particular situation, you may also want to consider deferring a debt-cancellation event until 2012, and disposing of a passive activity to allow you to deduct suspended losses. •If you own an interest in a partnership or S corporation you may need to increase your basis in the entity so you can deduct a loss from it for this year.

These are just some of the year-end steps that can be taken to save taxes. Again, by contacting us, we can tailor a particular plan that will work best for you. Call the office at 978-514-8829 to schedule an appointment or email to info@henrykulikcpa.com

Very truly yours,

Henry

HENRY C KULIK, JR.
CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT,LLC
114 Merriam Ave; Suite 201
Leominster, MA 01453
978-514-8829
www.henrykulik.com

2011 Summer Updates

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June, 2011 Newsletter

Hello everyone and happy summer!

A few things have happened since tax season:

  1. President Obama has signed the law that removes the new 1099 filing requirement I spoke of in earlier newsletters. This law would have been a burden on small business, forcing everyone to 1099 Staples, Home Depot, etc. Now, the old law remains which states that a 1099-MISC must be issued to anyone that is not a corporation if they are paid $600 or more in a calendar year.

  2. Tax deadlines: Estimated tax payments- bothFederal and MA are due June 15, 2011 (2nd quarterly); Corporate and Partnership tax returns on extension are due September 15; Trust and Individual tax returns are due October 15, 2011.

  3. Business automobile mileage: The IRS recently stated that the rate will remain unchanged at 51 cents per mile for 2011. IRS is keeping an eye on this, however.

  4. Gift tax return enforcement: A gift tax return is due to be filed if amounts over the annual exclusion ($13,000 for 2011) are gifted to anyone other than a spouse or charity. IRS is now looking closely at inter-family real estate transactions for $1 or little/no consideration. Less than Fair Market Value could establish a “gift”; also looking at those who give super generously to political organizations that quietly purchase political TV ads and such.

  5. Subcontractor or employee? If the IRS forces a reclassification from a 1099 subcontractor to W2 employee many things could follow.
    A) Any SEP contributions are retroactively disallowed that the employee made, plus penalties, excise tax for over-contributing (since $0 was allowed) and interest compounded daily.
    B) IRS can retroactively make the “employer” pay all the federal income tax that should have been withheld and both sides (employee/employer) of the FICA tax (15.3%) plus of course a 100% penalty and interest! A link to the IRS guide “Independent Contractor or Employee?”
    Is below. If you have any questions, or need help getting payroll prepared, please contact the office. We do not prepare payroll in-house, but we have several fantastic Payroll Service providers that prepare payroll for any company, any size and prepare all of those ugly reports for you! Link is: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99921,00.html

  6. Federal health care law: After 2013, if an individual does not have health insurance but is deemed able to afford it, a tax penalty of $95 to $285 will be assessed. We do not yet know if this is in addition to the current Massachusetts penalty but there also is an employer penalty if health insurance is not offered.

  7. New tax: To help “pay” for the health insurance laws, a “surtax” of 3.8% will apply to all income (including capital gains) if your income is $200,000 or greater. IRS is getting ready for another tax of 40% if you are self insured and your plan costs too much. More on that later…

  8. “Ebay tax”; This year (2011=NOW) Ebay/Paypal sellers who have over 200 transactions and sell in excess of $20,000 this year will receive a 1099 from Paypal/Ebay. This can make tax returns more complicated as some people sell off old household items, while others are involved in an active business. Starting in 2012 (about 6 months away) if you have more than 200 transactions, you will be required to give your social security or tax identification number to the person paying you or Paypal. If you don’t, a 28% federal tax withholding is mandated. Credit card companies must also withhold if you do not provide them a valid tax ID. They want the number so you can receive a 1099!

  9. New IRS audit targets and projects: Next time you meet with me, I will let you know who the latest targets are. Please use checks or credit cards to purchase your deductible items so we can prove it if necessary. Receipts should be kept filed by the year.

If you have any questions, please call the office and/or schedule an appointment.

Happy Summer!

HENRY C KULIK, JR.
CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT,LLC
114 Merriam Ave; Suite 201
Leominster, MA 01453
978-514-8829
www.henrykulik.com

Introduction

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November, 2010

Dear Clients and Friends:

Thank you for signing up to my newsletter service. I launched this due to the quick changing tax laws that I wanted to share with all of you. There are many things coming in the near future that you should be aware of. Some of these changes you will like, but many you will not. In either case, my goal is to help provide you the tools that allow my staff and I to assist you in your tax planning.

Please take a moment to look at the below important news items available on our site:

Here are a few very new items:

  1. 1099 Law change. Effective for payments after 12/31/10, all landlords of rental property must issue a form 1099-MISC to any supplier, vendor or contractor that charges you $600 or more in the 2011 calendar year. That means the landlord must issue form(s) W4 immediately (as soon as possible) or when services are rendered, to vendors so the correct information will available to you to issue 1099s to them. (Remember, this is NOT just subcontractors and it no longer matters if the vendor is a corporation or not).

  2. 1099 Law change #2- Effective for payments after 12/31/10- Credit card processors will be issuing 1099Ks to all merchants that accept credit cards.

  3. 1099 Law change #3- Effective for payments after 12/31/11 – Same as #1 above but valid for ALL companies, regardless of product, service or type of entity. If these laws remain, I will most likely offer an enhanced type of 1099 service for those that would like these forms prepared for them. We do these now for the regular 1099 issuers under existing law.

  4. Bush tax cuts – Don’t know yet but as of now rates have been released for all taxpayers without these “cuts” for anyone. If Congress fails to act, effective 01/01/11 all taxpayers will see a significant tax increase.

  5. AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) – Officially don’t know yet but sources tell me to expect another “patch” to give some relief to middle-class taxpayers

Things are changing daily! I will try to keep everyone posted as much as possible. Remember that my website has a “newsletter archive” section to view any and all newsletters. Remember too that there is still time to come in and have me sit with you for tax planning if you feel that is necessary. I also continue to work IRS resolution cases, those clients that are a few years behind or under audit after having someone else prepare their tax return, and my firm continues to offer Bookkeeping services as well.

May everyone have a safe close to the (tax) year 2010!

Henry

HENRY C KULIK, JR. CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT,LLC 114 Merriam Ave; Suite 201 Leominster, MA 01453 978-514-8829 www.henrykulik.com

2010 Individual – New Health Care Law Changes

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Dear Individual Tax Client,

I’m writing to give you a brief overview of the key tax changes affecting individuals in the recently enacted health reform legislation. Please call our offices for details of how the new changes may affect your specific situation.

Individual mandate. The new law contains an “individual mandate”—a requirement that U.S. citizens and legal residents have qualifying health coverage or be subject to a tax penalty after 2013. Under the new law, those without qualifying health coverage will pay a tax penalty of the greater of: (a) $695 per year, up to a maximum of three times that amount ($2,085) per family, or (b) 2.5% of household income over the threshold amount of income required for income tax return filing. The penalty will be phased in according to the following schedule: $95 in 2014, $325 in 2015, and $695 in 2016 for the flat fee or 1.0% of taxable income in 2014, 2.0% of taxable income in 2015, and 2.5% of taxable income in 2016. Beginning after 2016, the penalty will be increased annually by a cost-of-living adjustment. Exemptions will be granted for financial hardship, religious objections, American Indians, those without coverage for less than three months, aliens not lawfully present in the U.S., incarcerated individuals, those for whom the lowest cost plan option exceeds 8% of household income, those with incomes below the tax filing threshold (in 2010 the threshold for taxpayers under age 65 is $9,350 for singles and $18,700 for couples), and those residing outside of the U.S.

Premium assistance tax credits for purchasing health insurance. The health care legislation provides tax credits to low and middle income individuals and families for the purchase of health insurance. Specifically, for tax years ending after 2013, the new law creates a refundable tax credit (the “premium assistance credit”) for eligible individuals and families who purchase health insurance through an Exchange. The premium assistance credit, which is refundable and payable in advance directly to the insurer, subsidizes the purchase of certain health insurance plans through an Exchange. Under the provision, an eligible individual enrolls in a plan offered through an Exchange and reports his or her income to the Exchange. Based on the information provided to the Exchange, the individual receives a premium assistance credit based on income and IRS pays the premium assistance credit amount directly to the insurance plan in which the individual is enrolled. The individual then pays to the plan in which he or she is enrolled the dollar difference between the premium assistance credit amount and the total premium charged for the plan. For employed individuals who purchase health insurance through an Exchange, the premium payments are made through payroll deductions.

The premium assistance credit will be available for individuals and families with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level ($43,320 for an individual or $88,200 for a family of four, using 2009 poverty level figures) that are not eligible for Medicaid, employer sponsored insurance, or other acceptable coverage. The credits will be available on a sliding scale basis.

Higher Medicare taxes on high-income taxpayers. High-income taxpayers will be subject to a tax increase on wages and a new levy on investments.
Higher Medicare payroll tax on wages. The Medicare payroll tax is the primary source of financing for Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund, which pays hospital bills for beneficiaries, who are 65 and older or disabled. Under current law, wages are subject to a 2.9% Medicare payroll tax. Workers and employers pay 1.45% each. Self-employed people pay both halves of the tax (but are allowed to deduct half of this amount for income tax purposes). Unlike the payroll tax for Social Security, which applies to earnings up to an annual ceiling ($106,800 for 2010), the Medicare tax is levied on all of a worker’s wages without limit. Under the provisions of the new law, which take effect in 2013, most taxpayers will continue to pay the 1.45% Medicare hospital insurance tax, but single people earning more than $200,0000 and married couples earning more than $250,000 will be taxed at an additional 0.9% (2.35% in total) on the excess over those base amounts. Self-employed persons will pay 3.8% on earnings over the threshold.

Medicare payroll tax extended to investments. Under current law, the Medicare payroll tax only applies to wages. Beginning in 2013, a Medicare tax will, for the first time, be applied to investment income. A new 3.8% tax will be imposed on net investment income of single taxpayers with AGI above $200,000 and joint filers over $250,000. Net investment income is interest, dividends, royalties, rents, gross income from a trade or business involving passive activities, and net gain from disposition of property (other than property held in a trade or business). Net investment income is reduced by properly allocable deductions to such income. However, the new tax won’t apply to income in tax-deferred retirement accounts such as 401(k) plans. Also, the new tax will apply only to income in excess of the $200,000/$250,000 thresholds. So if a couple earns $200,000 in wages and $100,000 in capital gains, $50,000 will be subject to the new tax.

Floor on medical expenses deduction raised from 7.5% of adjusted gross income (AGI) to 10%. Under current law, taxpayers can take an itemized deduction for unreimbursed medical expenses for regular income tax purposes only to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5% of the taxpayer’s AGI. The new law raises the floor beneath itemized medical expense deductions from 7.5% of AGI to 10%, effective for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2012. The AGI floor for individuals age 65 and older (and their spouses) will remain unchanged at 7.5% through 2016.
Limit reimbursement of over-the-counter medications from HSAs, FSAs, and MSAs. The new law excludes the costs for over-the-counter drugs not prescribed by a doctor from being reimbursed through a health reimbursement account (HRA) or health flexible savings accounts (FSAs) and from being reimbursed on a tax-free basis through a health savings account (HSA) or Archer Medical Savings Account (MSA), effective for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2010.

Increased penalties on nonqualified distributions from HSAs and Archer MSAs. The new law increases the tax on distributions from a health savings account or an Archer MSA that are not used for qualified medical expenses to 20% (from 10% for HSAs and from 15% for Archer MSAs) of the disbursed amount, effective for distributions made after Dec. 31, 2010.

Limit health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) to $2,500. An FSA is one of a number of tax-advantaged financial accounts that can be set up through a cafeteria plan of an employer. An FSA allows an employee to set aside a portion of his or her earnings to pay for qualified expenses as established in the cafeteria plan, most commonly for medical expenses but often for dependent care or other expenses. Under current law, there is no limit on the amount of contributions to an FSA. Under the new law, however, allowable contributions to health FSAs will capped at $2,500 per year, effective for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2012. The dollar amount will be indexed for inflation after 2013.
Dependent coverage in employer health plans. Effective on Mar. 30, 2010, the new law extends the general exclusion for reimbursements for medical care expenses under an employer-provided accident or health plan to any child of an employee who has not attained age 27 as of the end of the tax year. This change is also intended to apply to the exclusion for employer-provided coverage under an accident or health plan for injuries or sickness for such a child. A parallel change is made for VEBAs and 401(h) accounts. Also, self-employed individuals are permitted to take a deduction for the health insurance costs of any child of the taxpayer who has not attained age 27 as of the end of the tax year.
Excise tax on indoor tanning services. The new law imposes a 10% excise tax on indoor tanning services. The tax, which will be paid by the individual on whom the tanning services are performed but collected and remitted by the person receiving payment for the tanning services, will take effect July 1, 2010.

Liberalized adoption credit and adoption assistance rules. For tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2009, the adoption tax credit is increased by $1,000, made refundable, and extended through 2011. The adoption assistance exclusion is also increased by $1,000.
I hope this information is helpful. If you would like more details about these provisions or any other aspect of the new law, please do not hesitate to call.
Very truly yours,
Henry C Kulik, Jr CPA LLC
11/06/10

HENRY C KULIK, JR.
CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT,LLC
114 Merriam Ave; Suite 201
Leominster, MA 01453
978-514-8829
www.henrykulik.com

2010 Year End Tax Planning

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Dear Client:

The midterm elections have changed the Congressional landscape, with Republicans winning control of the House of Representatives and picking up seats in the Senate. Even so, it’s still to early to know exactly how this will affect open tax issues for 2010 and 2011.

Specifically, when the “lame-duck” Congress returns this month, it must decide whether to “patch” the alternative minimum tax (AMT) for 2010 (increase exemption amounts, and allow personal credits to offset the AMT), as it has done in past years. It also must decide whether to retroactively extend a number of tax provisions that expired at the end of 2009. These include, for example, the research credit for businesses, the election to take an itemized deduction for State and local general sales taxes in lieu of the itemized deduction permitted for State and local income taxes, and the additional standard deduction for State and local real property taxes.

In addition, Congress must decide whether to extend the Bush tax cuts for some or all taxpayers. They and other Bush-era tax rules expire at the end of this year. Without Congressional action, individuals will face higher tax rates on their income, including capital gains. Also, unless Congress changes the rules, the estate tax, which isn’t in effect this year, will return next year with a 55% top rate.

In short, year-end planning—which always involves some educated guesswork—is a bigger challenge this year than in past years.

That said, we have compiled a checklist of actions that can help you save tax dollars if you act before year-end. These moves may benefit you regardless of what the lame-duck Congress does on the major tax questions of the day. Not all actions will apply in your particular situation, but you will likely benefit from many of them. We can narrow down the specific actions that you can take once we meet with you to tailor a particular plan. In the meantime, please review the following list and contact us at your earliest convenience so that we can advise you on which tax-saving moves to make.

Year End Moves for Individuals
•Increase the amount you set aside for next year in your employer’s health flexible spending account (FSA) if you set aside too little for this year. Don’t forget that you cannot set aside amounts to get tax-free reimbursements for over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin and antacids (2010 is the last year that FSAs can be used for nonprescription drugs).

•Realize losses on stock while substantially preserving your investment position. There are several ways this can be done. For example, you can sell the original holding, then buy back the same securities at least 31 days later. It may be advisable for us to meet to discuss year-end trades you should consider making.

•Increase your withholding if you are facing a penalty for underpayment of federal estimated tax. Doing so may reduce or eliminate the penalty.

•Take an eligible rollover distribution from a qualified retirement plan before the end of 2010 if your are facing a penalty for underpayment of estimated tax and the increased withholding option is unavailable or won’t sufficiently address the problem. Income tax will be withheld from the distribution and will be applied toward the taxes owed for 2010. You can then timely roll over the gross amount of the distribution, as increased by the amount of withheld tax, to a traditional IRA. No part of the distribution will be includible in income for 2010, but the withheld tax will be applied pro rata over the full 2010 tax year to reduce previous underpayments of estimated tax.

•Make energy saving improvements to your main home, such as putting in extra insulation or installing energy saving windows or buying and installing an energy efficient furnace, and qualify for a 30% tax credit. The total (aggregate) credit for energy efficient improvements to the home in 2009 and 2010 is $1,500. Unless Congress acts, this tax break won’t be around after this year. Additionally, substantial tax credits are available for installing energy generating equipment (such as solar electric panels or solar hot water heaters) to your home (this break stays on the books through 2016).

• Convert your traditional IRA into a Roth IRA if doing so is expected to produce better long-term tax results for you and your beneficiaries. Distributions from a Roth IRA can be tax-free but the conversion will increase your adjusted gross income for 2010. However, you will have the choice of when to pay the tax on the conversion. You can either (1) pay the tax on the conversion when you file your 2010 return in 2011, or (2) pay half the tax on the conversion when you file your 2011 return in 2012, and the other half when you file your 2012 return in 2013.

• Purchase qualified small business stock (QSBS) before the end of this year. There is no tax on gain from the sale of such stock if it is (1) purchased after September 27, 2010 and before January 1, 2011, and (2) held for more than five years. In addition, such sales won’t cause AMT preference problems. To qualify for these breaks, the stock must be issued by a regular (C) corporation with total gross assets of $50 million or less, and a number of other technical requirements must be met. Our office can fill you in on the details.
Take required minimum distributions (RMD) from your IRA or 401(k) plan (or other employer-sponsored retired plan) if you have reached age 70 1/2. Failure to take a required withdrawal can result in a penalty of 50% of the amount not withdrawn. A temporary tax law change waived the RMD requirement for 2009 only, but the usual withdrawal rules apply full force for 2010. So individuals age 70 1/2 or older generally must take the required distribution amount out of their retirement account before the end of 2010 to avoid the penalty. If you turned age 70 1/2 in 2010, you can delay the required distribution to 2011, but if you do, you will have to take a double distribution in 2011—the amount required for 2010 plus the amount required for 2011. Think twice before delaying 2010 distributions to 2011—bunching income into 2011 might push you into a higher tax bracket or have a detrimental impact on various income tax deductions that are reduced at higher income levels.

•Make annual exclusion gifts before year end to save gift tax (and estate tax if it is reinstated). You can give $13,000 in 2010 or 2011 to an unlimited number of individuals free of gift tax. However, you can’t carry over unused exclusions from one year to the next. The transfers also may same family income taxes where income-earning property is given to family members in lower income tax brackets who are not subject to the kiddie tax.
Year End Moves for Business Owners

•Hire a worker who has been unemployed for at least 60 days before year end if you are thinking of adding to payroll soon. Your business will be exempt from paying the employer’s 6.2% share of the Social Security payroll tax on the formerly unemployed new-hire for the remainder of 2010. Plus, if you keep that formerly unemployed new-hire on the payroll for a continuous 52 weeks, your business will be eligible for a nonrefundable tax credit of up-to-$1,000 after the 52-week threshold is reached. This credit will be taken on the business’s 2011 tax return. In order to be eligible, the formerly unemployed new-hire’s pay in the second 26-week period must be at least 80% of the pay in the first 26-week period.

Put new business equipment and machinery in service before year-end to qualify for 50% bonus first-year depreciation allowance. Unless Congress acts, this bonus depreciation allowance won’t be available for property placed in service after 2010.

Make expenses qualifying for the $500,000 business property expensing option. The maximum amount you can expense for a tax year beginning in 2010 is $500,000 of the cost of qualifying property placed in service for that tax year. The $500,000 amount is reduced by the amount by which the cost of qualifying property placed in service during 2010 exceeds $2 million. Also, within the overall $500,000 expensing limit, you can expense up to $250,000 of qualified real property (certain qualifying leasehold improvements, restaurant property, and retail improvements). Note that at tax return time, you can choose not to use expensing (or bonus depreciation) for 2010 assets. This is something to consider if tax rates go up for 2011 and future years, and you’d rather have more deductions after 2010 than for 2010.

•Set up a self-employed retirement plan if you are self-employed and haven’t done so yet.

•Increase your basis in a partnership or S corporation if doing so will enable you to deduct a loss from it for this year. A partner’s share of partnership losses is deductible only to the extent of his partnership basis as of the end of the partnership year in which the loss occurs. An S corporation shareholder can deduct his pro-rata share of an S corporation’s losses only to the extent of the total of his basis in (a) his S corporation stock, and (b) debt owed to him by the S corporation.

•Consider whether to defer cancellation of debt (COD) income from the reacquisition of an applicable debt instrument in 2010. The business can elect to elect to have the cancelled COD income included in gross income ratably over five tax years beginning with the fourth tax year following the tax year in which the repurchase occurs (i.e., beginning with 2014).
These are just some of the year-end steps that can be taken to save taxes. Again, by contacting us, we can tailor a particular plan that will work best for you.
Very truly yours,

Henry C Kulik, Jr CPA LLC

HENRY C KULIK, JR. CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT,LLC
114 Merriam Ave; Suite 201
Leominster, MA 01453
978-514-8829
www.henrykulik.com

2010 – Business – New Health Care Law Changes

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Dear Business Client:

For owners of small businesses and their workers, the recently enacted health reform legislation has some key provisions to pay attention to. The major ones include: tax credits; excise taxes; and penalties. But whether a business will be affected by them depends on a variety of factors, such as the number of employees the business has. I’m writing to give you an overview of the provisions in the new law with the biggest impact on small business. Please call our offices for details of how the new changes may affect your specific business.

Tax credits to certain small employers that provide insurance. The new law provides small employers with a tax credit (i.e., a dollar-for-dollar reduction in tax) for nonelective contributions to purchase health insurance for their employees. The credit can offset an employer’s regular tax or its alternative minimum tax (AMT) liability.

Small business employers eligible for the credit. To qualify, a business must offer health insurance to its employees as part of their compensation and contribute at least half the total premium cost. The business must have no more than 25 full-time equivalent employees (“FTEs”), and the employees must have annual full-time equivalent wages that average no more than $50,000. However, the full amount of the credit is available only to an employer with 10 or fewer FTEs and whose employees have average annual full-time equivalent wages from the employer of not more than $25,000.
Years the credit is available. The credit is initially available for any tax year beginning in 2010, 2011, 2012, or 2013. Qualifying health insurance for claiming the credit for this first phase of the credit is health insurance coverage purchased from an insurance company licensed under state law. For tax years beginning after 2013, the credit is only available to an eligible small employer that purchases health insurance coverage for its employees through a state exchange and is only available for two years. The maximum two-year coverage period does not take into account any tax years beginning in years before 2014. Thus, an eligible small employer could potentially qualify for this credit for six tax years, four years under the first phase and two years under the second phase.
Calculating the amount of the credit. For tax years beginning in 2010, 2011, 2012, or 2013, the credit is generally 35% (50% for tax years beginning after 2013) of the employer’s nonelective contributions toward the employees’ health insurance premiums. The credit phases out as firm-size and average wages increase.

Special rules. The employer is entitled to an ordinary and necessary business expense deduction equal to the amount of the employer contribution minus the dollar amount of the credit. For example, if an eligible small employer pays 100% of the cost of its employees’ health insurance coverage and the amount of the tax credit is 50% of that cost (i.e., in tax years beginning after 2013), the employer can claim a deduction for the other 50% of the premium cost.
Self-employed individuals, including partners and sole proprietors, two percent shareholders of an S corporation, and five percent owners of the employer are not treated as employees for purposes of this credit. There is also a special rule to prevent sole proprietorships from receiving the credit for the owner and their family members. Thus, no credit is available for any contribution to the purchase of health insurance for these individuals and the individual is not taken into account in determining the number of full-time equivalent employees or average full-time equivalent wages.
Most small businesses exempted from penalties for not offering coverage to their employees.Although the new law imposes penalties on certain businesses for not providing coverage to their employees (so-called “pay or play”), most small businesses won’t have to worry about this provision because employers with fewer than 50 employees aren’t subject to the “pay or play” penalty. For businesses with at least 50 employees, the possible penalties vary depending on whether or not the employer offers health insurance to its employees. If it does not offer coverage and it has at least one full-time employee who receives a premium tax credit, the business will be assessed a fee of $2,000 per full-time employee, excluding the first 30 employees from the assessment. So, for example, an employer with 51 employees who doesn’t offer health insurance to his employees will be subject to a penalty of $42,000 ($2,000 multiplied by 21). Employers with at least 50 employees that offer coverage but have at least one full-time employee receiving a premium tax credit will pay $3,000 for each employee receiving a premium credit (capped at the amount of the penalty that the employer would have been assessed for a failure to provide coverage, or $2,000 multiplied by the number of its full-time employees in excess of 30). These provisions take effect Jan. 1, 2014.

The “Cadillac tax” on high-cost health plans. The new law places an excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage (often referred to as “Cadillac” health plans). This is a 40% excise tax on insurance companies, based on premiums that exceed certain amounts. The tax is not on employers themselves unless they are self-funded (this typically occurs at larger firms). However, it is expected that employers and workers will ultimately bear this tax in the form of higher premiums passed on by insurers.

Here are the specifics: The new tax, which applies for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017, places a 40% nondeductible excise tax on insurance companies and plan administrators for any health coverage plan to the extent that the annual premium exceeds $10,200 for single coverage and $27,500 for family coverage. An additional threshold amount of $1,650 for single coverage and $3,450 for family coverage will apply for retired individuals age 55 and older and for plans that cover employees engaged in high risk professions. The tax will apply to self-insured plans and plans sold in the group market, but not to plans sold in the individual market (except for coverage eligible for the deduction for self-employed individuals). Stand-alone dental and vision plans will be disregarded in applying the tax. The dollar amount thresholds will be automatically increased if the inflation rate for group medical premiums between 2010 and 2018 is higher than projected. Employers with age and gender demographics that result in higher premiums could value the coverage provided to employees using the rates that would apply using a national risk pool. The excise tax will be levied at the insurer level. Employers will be required to aggregate the coverage subject to the limit and issue information returns for insurers indicating the amount subject to the excise tax.

I hope this information is helpful. If you would like more details about these provisions or any other aspect of the new law, please do not hesitate to call.

Very truly yours,

HENRY C KULIK, JR.
CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT,LLC
114 Merriam Ave; Suite 201
Leominster, MA 01453

978-514-8829
www.henrykulik.com