Thursday, March 26, 2015

Determine if You Can Benefit from the Premium Tax Credit

The premium tax credit is a credit for certain people who enroll, or whose family member enrolls, in a qualified health plan offered through a Marketplace. The credit provides financial assistance to pay the premiums by reducing the amount of tax you owe, giving you a refund, or increasing your refund amount.

You must file Form 8962 to compute and take the PTC on your tax return.

You can take the PTC for 2014 if you meet all of these conditions.

For at least one month of the year, all of the following were true:
  • An individual in your tax family was enrolled in a qualified health plan offered through the Marketplace.
  • The individual was not eligible for minimum essential coverage, other than coverage in the individual market.
  • The portion of the enrollment premiums for the month for which you are responsible was paid by the due date of your tax return.

To be an applicable taxpayer, you must meet all of the following requirements:
  • For 2014, your household income is at least 100 percent but no more than 400 percent of the Federal poverty line for your family size.
  • No one can claim you as a dependent on a tax return for 2014.
  • If you were married at the end of 2014, you must generally file a joint return. However, filing a separate return from your spouse will not disqualify you from being an applicable taxpayer if you meet certain requirements.

For more information, see the instructions for Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit (PTC) on

Top Eight Tax Tips about Deducting Charitable Contributions

When you give a gift to charity that helps the lives of others in need.. It may also help you at tax time. You may be able to claim the gift as a deduction that may lower your tax. Here are eight tax tips you should know about deducting your gifts to charity:

1. Qualified Charities.  You must donate to a qualified charity if you want to deduct the gift. You can’t deduct gifts to individuals, political organizations or candidates. To check the status of a charity, use the IRS Select Check tool.

2. Itemized Deduction.  To deduct your contributions, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions. File Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, with your federal tax return.

3. Benefit in Return.  If you get something in return for your donation, your deduction is limited. You can only deduct the amount of your gift that is more than the value of what you got in return. Examples of benefits include merchandise, meals, tickets to an event or other goods and services.

4. Donated Property.  If you gave property instead of cash, the deduction is usually that item’s fair market value. Fair market value is generally the price you would get if you sold the property on the open market.

5. Clothing and Household Items.  Used clothing and household items must be in at least good condition to be deductible in most cases. Special rules apply to cars, boats and other types of property donations. See Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, for more on these rules.

6. Form 8283.  You must file Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, if your deduction for all noncash gifts is more than $500 for the year.

7. Records to Keep.  You must keep records to prove the amount of the contributions you made during the year. The kind of records you must keep depends on the amount and type of your donation. For example, you must have a written record of any cash you donate, regardless of the amount, in order to claim a deduction. For more about what records to keep refer to Publication 526.

8. Donations of $250 or More.  To claim a deduction for donated cash or goods of $250 or more, you must have a written statement from the charity. It must show the amount of the donation and a description of any property given. It must also say whether the organization provided any goods or services in exchange for the gift.

Also refer to Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property. You can get IRS tax forms and publications on anytime.

Additional IRS Resources:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ten Tax Tips for Farmers

Farms include ranches, ranges and orchards. Some raise livestock, poultry or fish. Others grow fruits or vegetables. Individuals report their farm income on Schedule F, Profit or Loss From Farming. If you own a farm, here are 10 tax tips to help at tax time:

1.  Crop insurance.  Insurance payments from crop damage count as income. Generally, you should report these payments in the year you get them.

2. Sale of items purchased for resale.  If you sold livestock or items that you bought for resale, you must report the sale. Your profit or loss is the difference between your selling price and your basis in the item. Basis is usually the cost of the item. Your cost may also include other amounts you paid such as sales tax and freight.

3. Weather-related sales.  Bad weather such as a drought or flood may force you to sell more livestock than you normally would in a year. If so, you may be able to delay reporting a gain from the sale of the extra animals.

4. Farm expenses.  Farmers can deduct ordinary and necessary expenses they paid for their business. An ordinary expense is a common and accepted cost for that type of business. A necessary expense means a cost that is proper for that business.

5. Employee wages.  You can deduct reasonable wages you paid to your farm’s full and part-time workers. You must withhold Social Security, Medicare and income taxes from their wages.

6. Loan repayment. You can only deduct the interest you paid on a loan if the loan is used for your farming business. You can’t deduct interest you paid on a loan that you used for personal expenses.

7. Net operating losses.  If your expenses are more than income for the year, you may have a net operating loss. You can carry that loss over to other years and deduct it. You may get a refund of part or all of the income tax you paid in prior years. You may also be able to lower your tax in future years.

8. Farm income averaging.  You may be able to average some or all of the current year's farm income by spreading it out over the past three years. This may cut your taxes if your farm income is high in the current year and low in one or more of the past three years.

9. Tax credit or refund.  You may be able to claim a tax credit or refund of excise taxes you paid on fuel used on your farm for farming purposes.

10. Farmers Tax Guide.  For more details on this topic see Publication 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide. You can get it on anytime. You can order it on IRS/orderforms to have it mailed to you.

The Premium Tax Credit - The Basics

If you get your health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you may be eligible for the premium tax credit.

Here are some basic facts about the premium tax credit.

What is the premium tax credit?

The premium tax credit is a credit designed to help eligible individuals and families with low or moderate income afford health insurance purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

What is the Health Insurance Marketplace?

The Health Insurance Marketplace is the place where you will find information about private health insurance options, purchase health insurance, and obtain help with premiums and out-of-pocket costs if you are eligible. Learn more about the Marketplace at

How do I get the premium tax credit?

When you apply for coverage in the Marketplace, the Marketplace will estimate the amount of the premium tax credit that you may be able to claim for the tax year, using information you provide about your family composition and projected household income. Based upon that estimate, you can decide if you want to have all, some, or none of your estimated credit paid in advance directly to your insurance company to be applied to your monthly premiums. If you choose to have all or some of your credit paid in advance, you will be required to reconcile on your income tax return the amount of advance payments that the government sent on your behalf with the premium tax credit that you may claim based on your actual household income and family size.

What happens if my income or family size changes during the year?

The actual premium tax credit for the year will differ from the advance credit amount estimated by the Marketplace if your family size and household income as estimated at the time of enrollment are different from the family size and household income you report on your return. The more your family size or household income differs from the Marketplace estimates used to compute your advance credit payments, the more significant the difference will be between your advance credit payments and your actual credit.

For more information about the Affordable Care Act and your income tax return, visit

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Five Tips You Should Know about Employee Business Expenses

If you paid for work-related expenses out of your own pocket, you may be able to deduct those costs. In most cases, you claim allowable expenses on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. Here are six tax tips that you should know about this deduction.

1. Ordinary and Necessary.  You can only deduct unreimbursed expenses that are ordinary and necessary to your work as an employee. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry. A necessary expense is one that is appropriate and helpful to your business.

2. Expense Examples.  Some costs that you may be able to deduct include:   
  • Required work clothes or uniforms that are not appropriate for everyday use.
  • Supplies and tools you use on the job.
  • Business use of your car.
  • Business meals and entertainment. 
  • Business travel away from home. 
  • Business use of your home.
  • Work-related education.
This list is not all-inclusive. Special rules apply if your employer reimbursed you for your expenses. To learn more, check out Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions. You should also refer to Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses.

3. Forms to Use.  In most cases you report your expenses on Form 2106 or Form 2106-EZ. After you figure your allowable expenses, you then list the total on Schedule A as a miscellaneous deduction. You can deduct the amount that is more than two percent of your adjusted gross income.

4. Educator Expenses.  If you are a K through 12 teacher or educator, you may be able to deduct up to $250 of certain expenses you paid for in 2014. These may include books, supplies, equipment, and other materials used in the classroom. You claim this deduction as an adjustment on your tax return, rather than as an itemized deduction. This deduction had expired at the end of 2013. A recent tax law extended it for one year, through Dec. 31, 2014. For more on this topic see Publication 529.

5. Keep Records.  You must keep records to prove the expenses you deduct. For what records to keep, see Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax.

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