As required by law, all first and second Economic Impact Payments issued; eligible people can claim Recovery Rebate Credit

As required by law, all first and second Economic Impact Payments issued; eligible people can claim Recovery Rebate Credit

The IRS announced today this week that, as required by law, all legally permitted first and second round of Economic Impact Payments have been issued and the IRS now turns its full attention to the 2021 filing season.

Beginning in April 2020, the IRS and Treasury Department began delivering the first round of Economic Impact Payments within two weeks of the legislation. The IRS issued more than 160 million EIPs to taxpayers across the country totaling over $270 billion, while simultaneously managing an extended filing season. In addition, since Congress enacted the COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020, the IRS has delivered more than 147 million EIPs in the second-round totaling over $142 billion.

The legislation required that the second round of payments be issued by January 15, 2021. While some second round Economic Impact Payments may still be in the mail, the IRS has issued all first and second Economic Impact Payments it is legally permitted to issue, based on information on file for eligible people.

Get My Payment was last updated on January 29, 2021, to reflect the final payments and will not update again for first or second Economic Impact Payments.

Most people who are eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit have already received it, in advance, in these two rounds of Economic Impact Payments. If individuals didn’t receive a payment – or if they didn’t receive the full amounts – they may be eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit and must file a 2020 tax return. Eligibility for and the amount of the Recovery Rebate Credit are based on 2020 tax year information while the Economic Impact Payments were based on 2019 tax year information. For the first Economic Impact Payment, a 2018 return may have been used if the 2019 was not filed or processed.

Individuals will need to know the amounts of any Economic Impact Payments they received to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit. Those who don’t have their Economic Impact Payment notices can view the amounts of their first and second Economic Impact Payments through their individual online account. For married filing joint individuals, each spouse will need to log into their own account.

To avoid refund delays, the IRS urges people to file a complete and accurate tax return. Filing electronically allows tax software to figure credits and deductions, including the Recovery Rebate Credit. The Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet on Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR instructions can also help.

4 Cash-Flow Mistakes That Can Harm Your New Business – And How to Avoid Them

4 Cash-Flow Mistakes That Can Harm Your New Business – And How to Avoid Them

Any business owner knows that managing cash flow is crucial to the success of a business. As long as more cash is flowing in than flowing out, your business can be robust and stable — and continue to grow. While this is obvious in theory, it’s not always easy to achieve in practice, especially for business owners who are unaware of the common problems and pitfalls that can negatively influence cash flow.

Since cash flow failure can spell doom for a business, you need to be aware of these problems and how to steer clear of them to keep your company thriving. Here are some of the top mistakes new business owners make — and how you can avoid them.

Not keeping a cash cushion.

Many of us go through thin times when having a cash reserve is impossible. Starting a business in such circumstances would be risky. Because businesses, especially in their early phases, go through ups and downs, you will need that extra cash padding to make sure you meet all your obligations. Depending on the size and nature of your business, calculate how much cash you need to survive should your operations be put on hold or if income flow ceases for approximately three months’ time. If you plan to start a small business but don’t have a cash reserve, delay your start date until you have built an adequate fund. Then, create a separate savings account for your cash cushion. And, as soon as possible, start adding to it. This account should remain untouched except in the event of an emergency.

Buying non-essentials.

Something about the thrill of launching a new business, like the thrill of buying a house or planning a remodel, can prompt overly exuberant shopping. You have a list of necessary purchases and have budgeted for them, but as you shop, you keep noticing other products or programs that seem enticing. Do not impulse buy, no matter how appealing a product looks! Find out whether you really need it, if it could realistically add value to your business, and whether you can afford it without sacrificing necessities or dipping into your emergency reserve.

Failing to budget – and bank – smarter.

If you don’t know every detail of your projected expenses, you can’t budget for them. Go over every aspect of your business plan and consult a professional to make sure there are no hidden fees or costs you aren’t accounting for. Next, create a budget that is both exhaustive and realistic — one that doesn’t hinge on windfalls, deals, sales, or bargains and doesn’t rely on overly optimistic sales predictions. Most importantly, stick to that budget! You will need to be meticulously organized in order to adhere to your budget, so consider using apps or software programs to help.

Another crucial component is having the best small business bank account available. When choosing a banking institution, your checklist for optimal features should include free instant deposit and an option to sync with your payroll, to help you streamline your processes. Other important perks to look for are high-yield interest, no minimum fees, and cash flow forecasting.

Getting behind on your bookkeeping.

No matter how much you pride yourself on self-reliance, when it comes to managing your books, the risks of falling behind or making errors are significant. You don’t want to get into a bind just because you were multitasking and your records got away from you. Paying employees, attending to payroll as a whole, filing your quarterly estimates, and paying federal taxes all require organization and vigilance, so consider hiring an accounting service like Northeast Financial Strategies to help make a tax plan, do your accounting, or at least, double-check for you as you go.

You should also regularly review your records and store them safely where you can easily access them, whether physically or online.

Even a small period of bad cash flow can be a warning sign, so plan well and watch your finances closely. If you stay vigilant and proactive before a problem arises, chances are, you will easily avert it.

Northeast Financial Strategies (NFS) has an array of resources to help small business owners stay on top of cash flow and other aspects of financial management. Book an appointment today.

Image via Pixabay

This article provided by Amy Collett of bizwell.org

 

Social Security Benefits and Taxes: The Facts

Social Security Benefits and Taxes: The Facts

Social Security benefits include monthly retirement, survivor, and disability benefits; they do not include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, which are not taxable.

Generally, you pay federal income taxes on your Social Security benefits only if you have other substantial income in addition to your benefits. Examples include wages, self-employment, interest, dividends, and other taxable income that must be reported on your tax return.

Your income and filing status affect whether you must pay taxes on your Social Security. An easy method of determining whether any of your benefits might be taxable is to add one-half of your Social Security benefits to all of your other income, including any tax-exempt interest.

 

If you receive Social Security benefits you should receive Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, showing the amount.

 

Next, compare this total to the base amounts below. If your total is more than the base amount for your filing status, then some of your benefits may be taxable. In 2020, the three base amounts are:

  • $25,000 – for single, head of household, qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child or married individuals filing separate returns who did not live with their spouse at any time during the year
  • $32,000 – for married couples filing jointly
  • $0 – for married persons filing separately who lived together at any time during the year

Taxpayers filing an individual federal tax return:

  • If your combined income (adjusted gross income + nontaxable interest + 1/2 of your Social Security benefits) is between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
  • If it is more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.

Taxpayers filing a joint federal tax return:

  • If you and your spouse have a combined income ((adjusted gross income + nontaxable interest + 1/2 of your Social Security benefits) that is between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
  • If it is more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.

Married taxpayers filing separate tax returns generally pay taxes on benefits.

State Taxes

Thirteen states tax social security income as well including Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia.

Retiring Abroad?

Retirement income is generally not taxed by other countries. As a U.S. citizen retiring abroad who receives Social Security, for instance, you may owe U.S. taxes on that income but may not be liable for tax in the country where you’re spending your retirement years.

If Social Security is your only income, then your benefits may not be taxable, and you may not need to file a federal income tax return. However, if you receive income from other sources (either U.S. or country of retirement) as well, from a part-time job or self-employment, for example, you may have to pay U.S. taxes on some of your benefits – the same as if you were still living in the U.S.

You may also be required to report and pay taxes on any income earned in the country where you retired. Each country is different, so consult a local tax professional specializing in expatriate tax services.

 

Even if you retire abroad, you may still owe state taxes–unless you established residency in a no-tax state before you moved overseas. Also, some states honor the provisions of U.S. tax treaties; however, some states do not. Therefore, it is prudent to consult a tax professional.

 

If you receive Social Security, a tax professional can help you determine if some – or all – of your benefits are taxable

Taxable vs. Nontaxable Income

Taxable vs. Nontaxable Income

Are you wondering if there’s a hard and fast rule about what income is taxable and what income is not taxable? The quick answer is that all income is taxable unless the law specifically excludes it. But as you might have guessed, there’s more to it than that.

Taxable income includes any money you receive, such as wages, tips, and unemployment compensation. It can also include noncash income from property or services. For example, both parties in a barter exchange must include the fair market value of goods or services received as income on their tax return.

Nontaxable Income

Here are some types of income that are usually not taxable:

  • Gifts and inheritances
  • Child support payments
  • Welfare benefits
  • Damage awards for physical injury or sickness
  • Cash rebates from a dealer or manufacturer for an item you buy
  • Reimbursements for qualified adoption expenses

In addition, some types of income are not taxable except under certain conditions, including:

  • Life insurance proceeds paid to you are usually not taxable. But if you redeem a life insurance policy for cash, any amount that is more than the cost of the policy is taxable.
  • Income from a qualified scholarship is normally not taxable; that is, amounts you use for certain costs, such as tuition and required books, are not taxable. However, amounts used for room and board are taxable.
  • If you received a state or local income tax refund, the amount might be taxable. You should have received a 2020 Form 1099-G from the agency that made the payment to you. If you didn’t get it by mail, the agency might have provided the form electronically. Contact them to find out how to get the form. Be sure to report any taxable refund you received even if you did not receive Form 1099-G.

Important Reminders about Tip Income

If you get tips from customers, that income is subject to taxes. Here’s what you should keep in mind:

1. Tips are taxable. You must pay federal income tax on any tips you receive. The value of noncash tips, such as tickets, passes or other items of value are also subject to income tax.

2. Include all tips on your income tax return. You must include the total of all tips you received during the year on your income tax return, such as tips received directly from customers, tips added to credit cards, and your share of tips received under a tip-splitting agreement with other employees.

3. Report tips to your employer. If you receive $20 or more in tips in any one month from any one job, you must report your tips for that month to your employer. The report should only include cash, check, debit, and credit card tips you receive. Your employer is required to withhold federal income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes on the reported tips. Do not report the value of any noncash tips to your employer.

4. Keep a daily log of tips. Use the Employee’s Daily Record of Tips and Report to Employer (IRS Publication 1244) to record your tips.

Bartering Income is Taxable

Bartering is the trading of one product or service for another. Small businesses sometimes barter to get products or services they need. For example, a plumber might trade plumbing work with a dentist for dental services. Typically, there is no exchange of cash.

If you barter, the value of products or services from bartering is taxable income. Here are four facts about bartering that you should be aware of:

1. Barter exchanges. A barter exchange is an organized marketplace where members barter products or services. Some exchanges operate out of an office and others over the Internet. All barter exchanges are required to issue Form 1099-B, Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions. The exchange must give a copy of the form to members who barter and file a copy with the IRS.

2. Bartering income. Barter and trade dollars are the same as real dollars for tax purposes and must be reported on a tax return. Both parties must report as income the fair market value of the product or service they get.

3. Tax implications. Bartering is taxable in the year it occurs. The tax rules may vary based on the type of bartering that takes place. Barterers may owe income taxes, self-employment taxes, employment taxes, or excise taxes on their bartering income.

4. Reporting rules. How you report bartering on a tax return varies. If you are in a trade or business, you normally report it on Form 1040, Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business.

If you have any questions about taxable and nontaxable income, don’t hesitate to contact the office today.