Thursday, February 26, 2015

Changes to Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

Small employers should be aware of changes to the small business health care tax credit, a provision in the Affordable Care Act that gives a tax credit to eligible small employers who provide health care to their employees.

Beginning in 2014, there are changes to the tax credit that may affect your small business or tax-exempt organization:
  • Credit percentage increased from 35 percent to 50 percent of employer-paid premiums; for tax-exempt employers, the percentage increased from 25 percent to 35 percent.
  • Small employers may claim the credit for only two consecutive taxable years beginning in tax year 2014 and beyond.
  • For 2014, the credit is phased out beginning when average wages equal $25,400 and is fully phased out when average wages exceed $50,800. The average wage phase out is adjusted annually for inflation.
  • Generally, small employers are required to purchase a Qualified Health Plan from a Small Business Health Options Program Marketplace to be eligible to claim the credit.  Transition relief from this requirement is available to certain small employers.
Small employers may still be eligible to claim the tax credit for tax years 2010 through 2013.   Employers who were eligible to claim this credit for those prior years – but did not do so – may consider amending prior years’ returns if they’re eligible to do so in order to claim the credit. 
The following information will assist you in completing Form 8941, Credit for Small employer Health Insurance Premiums.
  • SHOP QHP documentation or letter of eligibility from SHOP, unless transition relief applies
  • Numbers of full-time and part-time employees and numbers of hours worked
  • Average annual wages for employees
  • Employer premiums paid per employee, if applicable
  • Relevant K-1s and other pass-through credit information
  • Cost of coverage for each employee
  • Payroll tax liability – for tax-exempt organizations only
  • Pass-through credit info – for K-1s of other small employers
For more information about the Affordable Care Act and filing your 2014 income tax return, visit

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

March 2 Tax Deadline Nears for Many Farmers and Fishermen; New IRS Direct Pay Tool Offers Easiest Way to E-Pay Your Taxes

WASHINGTON ― With next Monday’s tax deadline fast approaching for many farmers and fishermen, the Internal Revenue Service is reminding these and other individual filers that the new IRS Direct Pay tool offers taxpayers the fastest and easiest way to pay the taxes they owe.

Available at, this free online tool allows individuals to securely pay their income tax directly from checking or savings accounts without any fees or pre-registration. More than 2.8 million tax payments totaling over $6.3 billion have been received from individual taxpayers since Direct Pay debuted last year during the tax-filing season.

Direct Pay offers individual taxpayers an easy way to quickly pay the amount due on their return or tax bill, or make quarterly estimated tax payments without having to write a check, buy a stamp or find a mailbox. Payments can even be scheduled up to 30 days in advance.

Direct Pay is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Any taxpayer who uses the tool receives instant confirmation that their payment was submitted. More information about Direct Pay is available on

Direct Pay cannot be used to pay the federal highway use tax, payroll taxes or other business taxes. Taxpayers who wish to e-pay their federal business taxes should enroll in the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), or click on the Pay Your Tax Bill icon to check out other payment options.

Farmers and fishermen who chose to forgo making quarterly estimated tax payments for 2014 generally must file their 2014 federal return and pay any tax due by Monday, March 2, 2015. (The normal March 1 deadline is pushed back a day because this date falls on a Sunday this year.)

Top Six Things You Should Know about the Child Tax Credit

The Child Tax Credit may save you money at tax-time if you have a qualified child. Here are six things you should know about the credit.

1. Amount.  The Child Tax Credit may help reduce your federal income tax by up to $1,000 for each qualifying child that you are eligible to claim on your tax return.

2. Additional Child Tax Credit.  If you qualify and get less than the full Child Tax Credit, you could receive a refund even if you owe no tax with the Additional Child Tax Credit.

3. Qualifications.  For this credit, a qualifying child must pass several tests:

• Age test.  The child must have been under age 17 at the end of 2014.

• Relationship test.  The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, or stepsister. The child may be a descendant of any of these individuals. A qualifying child could also include your grandchild, niece or nephew. You would always treat an adopted child as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.

• Support test.  The child must not have provided more than half of their own support for the year.

• Dependent test.  The child must be a dependent that you claim on your federal tax return.

• Joint return test.  The child cannot file a joint return for the year, unless the only reason they are filing is to claim a refund.

• Citizenship test.  The child must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or a U.S. resident alien.

• Residence test.  In most cases, the child must have lived with you for more than half of 2014.

4. Limitations.  The Child Tax Credit is subject to income limitations. The limits may reduce or eliminate your credit depending on your filing status and income.

5. Schedule 8812.  If you qualify to claim the Child Tax Credit, make sure to check whether you must complete and attach Schedule 8812, Child Tax Credit, with your tax return. For example, if you claim a credit for a child with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, you must complete Part I of Schedule 8812. If you qualify to claim the Additional Child Tax Credit, you must complete and attach Schedule 8812. Visit to view, download or print IRS tax forms anytime.

6. IRS E-file.  Electronic filing is the best way to file your tax return. IRS E-file is the safe, accurate and easiest way to file. If you use IRS Free File, you can prepare and e-file your taxes for free. Go to and review your options.

You can use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on to see if you can claim the credit.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Social Security Benefits and Your Taxes

If you receive Social Security benefits, you may have to pay federal income tax on part of your benefits. These IRS tips will help you determine whether or not you need to pay taxes on your benefits. They also explain the best way to file your tax return.

• Form SSA-1099.  If you received Social Security in 2014, you should receive a Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, showing the amount of your benefits.

• Only Social Security.  If Social Security was your only income in 2014, your benefits may not be taxable. You also may not need to file a federal income tax return. If you get income from other sources you may have to pay taxes on some of your benefits.

• Free File.  Use IRS Free File to prepare and e-file your tax return for free. If you earned $60,000 or less, you can use brand-name software. The software does the math for you and helps avoid mistakes. If you made more than $60,000, you can use Free File Fillable Forms. This option uses electronic versions of IRS paper forms. It is best for people who are used to doing their own taxes. Free File is available only on

• Interactive Tax Assistant.  The IRS has a helpful tool that you can use to see if any of your benefits are taxable. Visit and use the Interactive Tax Assistant.

• Tax Formula.  Here’s a quick way to find out if you must pay taxes on your Social Security benefits: Add one-half of your Social Security to all your other income, including tax-exempt interest. Then compare the total to the base amount for your filing status. If your total is more than the base amount, some of your benefits may be taxable.

• Base Amounts.  The three base amounts are:
o $25,000 – if you are single, head of household, qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child or married filing separately and lived apart from your spouse for all of 2014
o $32,000 – if you are married filing jointly
o $0 – if you are married filing separately and lived with your spouse at any time during the year

For more information on this topic visit

Additional IRS Resources:

Ten Facts That You Should Know about Capital Gains and Losses

When you sell a capital asset the sale results in a capital gain or loss. A capital asset includes most property you own for personal use or own as an investment. Here are 10 facts that you should know about capital gains and losses:

1. Capital Assets.  Capital assets include property such as your home or car, as well as investment property, such as stocks and bonds.

2. Gains and Losses.  A capital gain or loss is the difference between your basis and the amount you get when you sell an asset. Your basis is usually what you paid for the asset.

3. Net Investment Income Tax.  You must include all capital gains in your income and you may be subject to the Net Investment Income Tax. This tax applies to certain net investment income of individuals, estates and trusts that have income above statutory threshold amounts. The rate of this tax is 3.8 percent. For details visit

4. Deductible Losses.  You can deduct capital losses on the sale of investment property. You cannot deduct losses on the sale of property that you hold for personal use.

5. Long and Short Term.  Capital gains and losses are either long-term or short-term, depending on how long you held the property. If you held the property for more than one year, your gain or loss is long-term. If you held it one year or less, the gain or loss is short-term.

6. Net Capital Gain.  If your long-term gains are more than your long-term losses, the difference between the two is a net long-term capital gain. If your net long-term capital gain is more than your net short-term capital loss, you have a net capital gain.

7. Tax Rate.  The capital gains tax rate usually depends on your income. The maximum net capital gain tax rate is 20 percent. However, for most taxpayers a zero or 15 percent rate will apply. A 25 or 28 percent tax rate can also apply to certain types of net capital gains.

8. Limit on Losses.  If your capital losses are more than your capital gains, you can deduct the difference as a loss on your tax return. This loss is limited to $3,000 per year, or $1,500 if you are married and file a separate return.

9. Carryover Losses.  If your total net capital loss is more than the limit you can deduct, you can carry over the losses you are not able to deduct to next year’s tax return. You will treat those losses as if they happened in that next year.

10. Forms to File.  You often will need to file Form 8949, Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets, with your federal tax return to report your gains and losses. You also need to file Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses with your tax return.

For more information about this topic, see the Schedule D instructions and Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses. You can visit to view, download or print any tax product you need right away.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Taxable or Not – What You Need to Know about Income

All income is taxable unless the law excludes it. Here are some basic rules you should know to help you file an accurate tax return:
  • Taxed income.  Taxable income includes money you earn, like wages and tips. It also includes bartering, an exchange of property or services. The fair market value of property or services received is taxable.
Some types of income are not taxable except under certain conditions, including:
  • Life insurance.  Proceeds paid to you because of the death of the insured person are usually not taxable. However, if you redeem a life insurance policy for cash, any amount that you get that is more than the cost of the policy is taxable.
  • Qualified scholarship.  In most cases, income from this type of scholarship is not taxable. This means that amounts you use for certain costs, such as tuition and required books, are not taxable. On the other hand, amounts you use for room and board are taxable.
  • State income tax refund.  If you got a state or local income tax refund, the amount may be taxable. You should have received a 2014 Form 1099-G from the agency that made the payment to you. If you didn’t get it by mail, the agency may have provided the form electronically. Contact them to find out how to get the form. Report any taxable refund you got even if you did not receive Form 1099-G.
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
For more on this topic see Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income. You can get it on anytime.

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