Tips on how to manage your Small Business

When it comes to filing a business-related tax, small business owners know that it can be extremely time-consuming and very complicated.  It can be especially difficult for owners who do not have a strong understanding of the federal, state, and local taxes required to file as well as knowing what type of taxes you will need to include on your return such as income, employment, excise, and sales.

It is critical for business owners to file their taxes in order to run their business and remain compliant with the IRS. Here are few ways a small business owner can manage their taxes.

Hire an Accountant

For the most part, small business owners will hire an accountant to make sure all of their tax filing is accurate and to also pay and keep track of all of their tax payments. Hiring an accountant can help reduce the amount of time a business owner spends on taxes and bookkeeping. An accountant’s services can range from making estimated tax payments, filing taxes and asset depreciation. Owners should specifically search out small business accountants who are well seasoned in their role and have had success working with current or previous small businesses.

Understand how much taxes you will owe and how to pay them

One of the first conversations you have with your accountant should be about your tax liability and how to determine how much you will owe. One thing that needs to be considered is the type of business structure an owner has; this will determine the type of federal income tax that a business will be required to file. Owners will also need to understand that the number of assets such as stocks, equipment, or property will also impact their businesse’s overall tax liability.

Avoid common mistakes

Businesses should take preventative measures in order to avoid common mistakes that many small business owners run into. For example, owners should always keep track of when their estimated taxes are due to avoid missing a payment and having to pay additional penalties to the IRS. Small business owners should also keep detailed and accurate records to help make their tax filing process much more seamless. Finally, business owners need to be prepared for the unexpected costs that come with having a business. Owners should keep extra money on the side just in case they have to cover any unexpected costs. 

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

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IRS Audits: Tips for Staying on the IRS’s Good Side

The IRS has the authority to audit any tax return. Optima CEO David King and Lead Tax Attorney Philip Hwang explain what an audit is and help taxpayers understand what they can do to stay on the right side of the IRS. (One important tip: The IRS sends audit notices through the U.S. Postal Service. “Audit notices” coming to you over the phone or email can safely be considered a scam.)

Confused or scared by an IRS notice? Download the Optima®TAX APP and easily understand the severity of your tax situation.

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New Tax Plan could raise Taxes by $213,000 next year on wealthy Americans

As a result of President Joe Biden’s tax plan, the top 1% could see their taxes increased by more than $213,000. This could mean that households that earn $800,000 or more could see their after-tax income decline by about 11% according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center’s analysis.

The proposed plan would increase taxes on the ultra-wealthy Americans and corporations in order to pay for an expansive infrastructure plan and add more features to the social safety net that would largely benefit low- and middle-income families.

Americans that earn at least $3.6 million would be required to pay an additional $1.6 million which would make their income fall about 17%, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Biden’s plan would increase the top marginal income-tax rate to 39.6% from the current 37%. The plan would also tax the appreciation of unsold stock and other assets at death. Previously these assets were able to pass to many heirs tax-free.

The plan would additionally extend the recent temporary increases to the child tax credit, the child and dependent care credit, and the earned income tax credit. These benefits are largely to assist the low and middle-income households.

The plan would give households earning $26,000 or less an average tax cut of $600 next year which would increase their after-tax income by about 4%. Middle earners that make between $52,000 to $93,000 would receive a $300 tax cut, or 0.5% of after-tax income.

This new initiative is an attempt to help low to middle-income earners that have kids and need the additional tax breaks to stay financially afloat.

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

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Received a Math Notice from the IRS? Here’s what to do.

The IRS sent out more than 5 million math error notices to individuals, many of them having to do with the economic impact payment issued in 2020 and 2021. Optima CEO David King and Lead Tax Attorney Philip Hwang help explain what this notice means and provide guidance on what to do if one is received in the mail.

Got an IRS Notice? Get a FREE Risk Review with our Optima® TAX APP with Notice Analyzer

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IRS Audit Red Flags to look out for

The IRS has the ability to audit an individual’s tax return to ensure that there is not any fraudulent activity occurring. A general rule is that the IRS can go back at least three years for an audit; however, if there are major errors on your return, the agency does have the ability to go back another few years – but typically no more than the last six years.

If you are being audited, the most important thing to remember is that you will need to have solid documentation to back up any claims you make about your overall financial picture, particularly your deductions.

Here is a list of additional items that could get your return flagged by the IRS:

  • Claiming a home office deduction. Taxpayers are required to have a dedicated space in their home that is strictly used only for their business in order to take advantage of this type of deduction. This deduction allows an individual to prorate some of their household expenses such as utility bills, homeowner’s association fees and more on a fractional basis. When claiming this deduction, an individual will need to figure out how much square footage is dedicated to their business in their home versus how much square footage they have in their home at large.
  • Deducting unreimbursed business expenses. Unreimbursed business expenses are only deductible beyond 2% of your adjusted gross income. Most workers are also reimbursed by their employers for most out of pocket expenses. Expenses such as license fees, subscriptions to trade journals, tools and supplies, and specialty uniforms are deductible expenses. Non-allowable deductions such as commuting costs and everyday work clothes should not be placed on your tax return and could trigger an audit with the IRS. This could end up being very costly for an individual if the IRS rejects your deductions.
  • Claiming 100% business use of a vehicle. Taxpayers should consider keeping a paper log on their dashboard and writing down every mile that is used for work, the date and what it was for. If you do want to claim all the costs for a business expense, be sure you have another vehicle too.
  • Hiring a preparer who falsifies your return without your knowledge. Taxpayers should be cautious when hiring a tax preparer. There are many incompetent and unethical tax preparers who could end up costing you more than you expected. If the IRS sees a pattern of problems on your returns coming from one preparer, they may flag the entire operation’s returns for that year or the past several years. If an egregious error is found on your return, you will most likely be held accountable for it.
  • Taking an alimony deduction. Alimony is paid under divorce agreements and after the 2018 tax year, is no longer deductible. In addition, ex-spouses get taxed on alimony received under post-2018 divorce agreements. Individuals that attempt to deduct their alimony expense will likely trigger an audit with the IRS if there is a mismatch in reporting by the payer and the recipient of alimony on each of their tax returns

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

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What to Expect When You Call the IRS

Individuals seeking assistance from the IRS may be wondering if they have the option to contact the agency and what they should expect when speaking with an IRS agent. Whether you received a tax notice and are seeking more information on it, or you are looking to set up a payment agreement, here is everything you need to know before calling the IRS. 

Do not reach out to the IRS if you have tax questions or need assistance filing your tax return. Taxpayers should not waste their time waiting on hold trying to reach an agent to discuss any questions or concerns they have about filing their taxes. Instead, it is recommended to seek out assistance from a tax professional that can address any tax filing questions you have about your return and how to file it once it has been prepared.  

The IRS also has interactive tools on their website that can be used to provide updates on the status of a tax return or find out the status of a refund. The IRS has even established a portal for taxpayers to use when checking on their stimulus check status. 

Taxpayers should contact the IRS if they owe a tax balance but cannot pay the amount in full, if they are being audited, or if they have received correspondence from the IRS requesting them to call in. 

 Individuals who are unable to afford paying off their tax balance have the option to work with the IRS to establish a payment plan or apply for an offer for tax debt forgiveness. Taxpayers who are being audited should also reach out to the IRS to discuss their situation and should also get their tax preparer involved just in case additional information needs to be provided.  

When contacting the IRS, be prepared to verify your identity and your accounts. Taxpayers should have their name, date of birth, and social security number ready. If you are calling on behalf of someone else, you will need to provide proof of a power of attorney that shows you have permission and authority to do so. 

Once an IRS agent has verified your identity, you should have the following forms on hand for reference: 

  • Your completed tax return. 
  • Your EIN or Taxpayer Identification number. 
  • Proof of past payments if you have made quarterly payments or put money toward a debt to the IRS. 

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

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Don’t get Taxed twice when making Non-Deductible IRA Contributions

Individuals that earned income throughout the tax year have the option to make non-deductible (after-tax) contributions to an IRA and benefit from tax-deferred growth. One of the most common risks that taxpayers take is paying additional taxes when withdrawing their money from their retirement accounts. Before making after-tax contributions to a traditional IRA, it is important for taxpayers to have an understanding of the rules and how to avoid the double tax trap on withdrawals.

There are certain contribution rules and limits that most taxpayers are not aware of with the IRA withdrawal process. Here are the rules taxpayers need to know about when making non-Roth after-tax IRA contributions:

  • Individuals are required to have earned an income.
  • The deductibility phase-out is determined on the filing status, income, and whether or not an individual is eligible to participate in a retirement plan at work.
  • Contribution limits are the lesser of: $6,000 (plus $1,000 if age 50+) or earned income and apply to aggregate additions to IRAs.

Certain financial institutions where an IRA is kept could cause certain issues such as the institution restricting an individual to add more than $6,000 per tax year. Banks also do not track, report, or verify if an individual made a pre-tax or non-deductible IRA contribution. The responsibility is left up to the taxpayer.

For those who choose to make after-tax contributions to an IRA, are required to give the IRS a heads up that they have already paid taxes on those dollars by using Form 8606. Individuals who fail to report, track, and file the form will most likely lose the ability to shield part of their IRA withdrawal from a tax penalty when the money is withdrawn.

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

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Tax moves to consider before paying for College

Individuals who have children going to school very soon or who recently had children and are looking to prepare for their college in advance, need to find strategic ways that they can reduce their taxes and also help with the college costs.

Parents should consider opening up a 529 plan and also review tax credits as well as other strategies they can use in order to ease the burden of high education costs. Here is what taxpayers need to know before opening a 529 plan.

  • Families that invest in a 529 college savings plan could have the option to utilize their tax-deferred funds. In order to avoid any levies, they will need to use these funds for qualified education expenses such as tuition fees, books, room and board, computers and much more.
  • Those investing in a 529 family plan should first start off by adding up their qualified expenses and subtracting tax-free education assistance. Families should also see if they qualify for the American Opportunity Tax Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit (both are subject to income limits).
  • The American Opportunity Tax Credit applies to the first four years of higher education, the Lifetime Learning Credit typically pays for undergraduate, graduate, or professional degrees.
  • There is one downside to the non-parental 529 plan that taxpayers should be aware of. The withdrawals from this plan may be counted as a student’s income on the next year’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FASFA, which may affect any financial aid that a student is receiving.

 Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

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What’s the difference between a Tax Lien and Levy?

If you’ve received a notice from the IRS, you could be at risk of having IRS action taken against you. Some of the most common tactics that are used by the IRS is filing a tax lien or levying an individual’s assets. Optima CEO David King and Lead Tax Attorney Philip Hwang help taxpayers understand the difference between a lien and levy and how to stay on the IRS’ good side.   

Confused or scared by an IRS notice? Download the Optima®TAX APP and easily understand the severity of your tax situation.

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University students and staff should be aware of IRS Impersonation Email Scams

With the start of another school year just around the corner, the IRS has started warning individuals to be on the lookout for IRS-impersonation scams that primarily target educational institutions, students and staff who have a “.edu” email address. The IRS has recently been notified via their phishing@irs.gov email about impersonation scams from people with the “.edu” email.

The phishing emails seem to be targeting universities and college students from public, private, profit and non-profit institutions. These fraudulent emails typically display the IRS logo and will use a variety of subject lines such as “Tax Refund Payment” or “Recalculation of your tax refund payment.” These emails will attempt to persuade people to click a link and submit a form in order to claim their refund.

Taxpayers can protect themselves against scammers by recognizing the signs of what a phishing email typically contains:

  • Social Security number
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Prior Year Annual Gross Income (AGI)
  • Driver’s License Number
  • Current Address
  • City
  • State/U.S. Territory
  • ZIP Code/Postal Code
  • Electronic Filing PIN

Should an individual receive a scam email, they should avoid clicking on the link in the email and immediately report it to the IRS. For security reasons, individuals should save the email and send the attachment to phishing@irs.gov.

Taxpayers who believe they provided their personal information over to identity thieves should consider obtaining an Identity Protection PIN. Taxpayers have the option to opt into the program and will be provided an IP PIN that will contain a six-digit number that will help prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns in the victim’s name.

Taxpayers who attempt to e-file their tax return and find it rejected because a return with their SSN already has been filed should file a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit PDF, to report themselves as a possible identity theft victim.

Optima Tax Relief provides assistance to individuals struggling with unmanageable IRS tax burdens. To assess your tax situation and determine if you qualify for tax relief, contact us for a free consultation.

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