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Schedule “C” Updates…

In Accounting & Finances, Business, Taxes on September 11, 2016 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , ,

Some Light Reading for the Weekend: Updated Schedule C Instructions

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think-about-1184858_640Folks, the 2015 Tax Extension deadline is upon us!!!!  October 15 is right around the corner!!! Yikes!!!  Let’s get that Schedule C finalize and send off to your CPA or the IRS and be done with year 2015!  Let’s review some of the changes for year 2015 before you hit that “SEND” button or lick that envelope and stamps to The IRS.surprised-1184889_640

easy-estimated-taxes-2013For many Americans, filing taxes is a quick and painless process. For sole proprietors and the self-employed, it’s never so easy. If you’re one of these folks, you have the privilege of struggling through Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, and its many accompanying forms. And just when you think you’ve mastered the twists and turns of those documents, the IRS changes the instructions so you have to figure them out all over again.

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The latest round of Schedule C instructions are available here. Small businesses that changed accounting methods to adopt repair regulations will want to check out the simplified reporting requirements. The instructions also cover deduction and capitalization of tangible property expenditures related to those repair regulations.

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For your reading pleasure, the IRS also released updated instructions for Form 4562, Depreciation and Amortization. For tax years beginning in 2015, the maximum Section 179 expense deduction is $500,000 ($535,000 for enterprise zone property), with this limit reduced by the amount by which the cost of section 179 property placed in service during the tax year exceeds $2 million.

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house-valueAlso note that you can choose to claim a 50% special depreciation allowance for certain qualified property that you got after Dec. 31, 2007 and placed in service before Jan. 1, 2016. According to the instructions, the definition of qualified property differs for some qualified property placed in service after Dec. 31, 2015. And corporations should review the updated Form 4562 instructions, since there’s news on claiming certain unused minimum tax credits.

MH900334322So if you were looking for some easy reading material to keep you occupied this weekend, today’s your lucky day!

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

 

 

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Cash Flow Management $$$

In Accounting & Finances, Business, Taxes on July 19, 2016 by Sufen Wang

Keep Your Business Cash Flow In Check With These Management Tips

You’re turning a tidy profit, so your business must be thriving.

This thinking has sunk more than a few aspiring entrepreneurs. Profit is great and all, but to truly have a finger on the pulse of your business, you need to look at the bigger picture via your cash flow. Cash flow is all about the money moving in and out of your enterprise. It comes down to how much dough you have in the bank or in the safe, how much money you owe, and how much money people owe you. If you can get a handle on these three things, such as with the tips below, you’ll have a healthy cash flow that will turn your lemonade stand into a boomin’ destination for the ages.

1.       Keep a cash stockpile in the cleaning supply closet. Or maybe somewhere safer, such as the bank, but the point is to have back-up cash at your disposal in case worse comes to worst. Preferably enough savings to tide your business over for three to six months if customers are as scarce as feathers on a fish or if a hurricane comes through and takes your roof with it. On that note, keep a separate cash stash at home for personal finance emergencies. (P.S. Cash stash does not mean actual cash!  A separate savings account or a credit union account that is physically hard to get to!)

2.       Don’t sag your shelves with inventory. While volume discounts are enticing, excess inventory sucks the life blood out of budgets. Order only what you need to serve customers, and if you’re interested in a purchasing incentive, weigh it against the cost of idle products yawning in the stockroom.  Just In Time Inventory System is hard, but very efficient to handle your inventory!

MH9001052163.       Remember that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. So don’t give your customers one, or a free brake pad repair, or furniture refinishing, or whatever service you’re offering, just because you don’t want to “pressure” them into paying. Always bill customers in a timely manner, and always make sure they pay you, and always keep records of both invoices and payments. If you’re trying to make money, you have to actually get the money to keep your cash flow strong!

4.       Be a proud penny-pincher. Every cent you spend should be a necessary expense for the good cause of your business. If you don’t control the costs of supplies, salaries, inventory, and more with a Spartan mindset, you’re going to end up hurting your cash flow and your business’s chances of success. Be especially parsimonious if the sales are flowing in; this influx tends to trigger sloppy expenditures.

MH9001051765.       Tread the credit waters carefully. Keeping in line with #3, there’s a difference between treating customers well, and allowing customers to walk all over you. If you give clients the option to pay for your products/services in installments, you need some way to ensure they’re going to end up paying – before they leave with their nice new teeth. Consider implementing a credit approval process or even accepting credit cards. For a small percentage to a vendor, the latter means you’ll get the money up front and save time on collections down the road.

If you let your cash flow run its own course, you probably won’t like what you find at the end of the road. But if you keep the above tips in mind and stay in tune with all of the money coming in and out of your business, you can expect it to flourish for years to come.

 

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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Taxpayers Beware!

In Accounting & Finances, Business, Taxes on June 30, 2016 by Sufen Wang

Robots and Agent Impersonators Are On the Loose

If it looks like a taxpayer, talks like a taxpayer, and has a social security number like a taxpayer, then it’s probably a robot trying to hack the IRS’s E-file PIN system. Yup, the newest threat out there has binary for a brain…though of course, there’s a real human criminal huddled over their computer somewhere just waiting to get their hands on the info of honest Americans.

binary-code-1-1241810-1279x1809Here’s what went down. In January, an automated bot broke into the IRS’s Electronic Filing PIN system. The robot already had about 464,000 SSNs stolen from somewhere else. Using those numbers, it started poking around for the corresponding E-Filing PINs that are used to authenticate a taxpayer when they file their return online. Oh and it got more than a few of them – 101,000 in fact.

1333293049-2400pxAt least that’s the initial estimate the IRS is giving out, so chances are even more taxpayers were affected. While the malware was able to pocket the E-Filing PINS, and the hackers still have the stolen SSNs, no other personal data was obtained. That raises the question, do robots even have pockets? Whatever the answer, the IRS has flagged the affected accounts so that no tax-related funny business happens.

no-phone-call-2400pxIf it sounds like an IRS agent, talks like an IRS agent, and puts you on hold like an IRS agent, then it’s probably an IRS agent impersonator trying to swindle you into handing over money. Yup, not only do taxpayers have to watch out for evil robots, they have to listen up because there’s also been a deluge of tax phone scams recently.

These criminals pretend to be Internal Revenue Service staff on the phone and aggressively ask for immediate payment or credit/debit card info. These scare tactics work more often than you’d think, which is why the word needs to be spread to every taxpayer: the real IRS won’t threaten you and it will always mail a bill before it calls.

Ensuring that hackers and impersonators don’t win is going to take a two-fold defense: the IRS needs to continue to bolster its cyber security efforts as E-Filing becomes more and more popular, and taxpayers have to stay on their toes at all times when it comes to protecting their personal info.

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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Get Help with The Old College Try:

In Accounting & Finances, Business, Education, Taxes on June 13, 2016 by Sufen Wang

Tax Credits for Higher Education

College

It’s back to college, that special time of the year when Twin XL bedding and mini-fridges are hot commodities, and kids get one last haircut from mom before they head off into the real world – though they always manage to return with copious amounts of dirty laundry. Higher education costs more than a fistful of dollars, but college-bound folks (or their parents or spouse) can alleviate some of the financial burden with education tax credits.

A biggie students can claim on their tax return is the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), which is worth up to $2,500 each year, and is available for the first four years of college. Forty percent of the AOTC is refundable, meaning that even if you don’t owe any taxes, you might be eligible to get up to $1,000 of the credit as a straight-up refund.

CollegeMoneyGraduate students and beyond will have more to rejoice about with the Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC). Worth up to $2,000 on your tax return, you can claim the LLC for every single year you’re an eligible student. Now go ahead and get your seven-year PhD on!

But as with most things, you can’t have your Instant Lunch and eat it too. Each student can only get one type of education credit per year. However, parents out there with two qualifying kids can claim a different credit for each student. Those lucky folks are welcome to flaunt their children’s tax achievements with a Proud Mom of an AOTC Student AND an LLC Student bumper sticker.

collegeboundThe fine print starts here. The higher ed credit is based on qualified education expenses: tuition costs, student activity fees, etc. For the AOTC, you can also count money spent on books and supplies you must have to study – and boy, are textbooks expensive! Unfortunately, things like room and board, transportation costs, and plastic cups for a kegger are not qualifying expenses. Also, you have to actually be studying at a higher ed school to get a higher ed tax credit. Local coffee shop book groups are not education institutions, however scintillating the literary conversation may be.

Notebook and pens? Check. Satchel instead of a backpack? Check. Coffee, coffee, coffee? Check, check, check! Form 1098-T? What the heck is that!? Your school uses this form to report your qualified education expenses to the IRS and to you, and it should show up in your mailbox and/or inbox by February 1, 2016. Tax credit for pursuing a college degree and a fulfilling life? Check!

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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3 Confusing Tax Deductions

In Accounting & Finances, Business, Taxes on January 25, 2016 by Sufen Wang

3 Confusing Tax Deductions Made Easy

taxesWhile tax professionals have more tax wisdom than your average Joe, not all understand the quirks of some deductions. Here are 3 deductions that frequently stump tax experts, explained properly, to ensure there are no hiccups in your tax return processing.

 

Deducting Student Loan Interest

diplomaTax time is the only time the phrase “student loan interest” means something good. That’s because you can get a deduction for the interest you paid on student loans. Plus, there’s no need to itemize to get this nice little break.

There are three rules though. For 1) you have to be legally obligated to pay the loan interest. For 2) a dependent can’t claim the student loan interest tax deduction on their own return. For 3) when the loan was taken out, the student must have been enrolled at least half-time in a program on-track to a recognized educational credential.

Number one and two are tricky because while the student is usually the one taking out the loan, the parents are often the ones footing the bill. Plus, college-age students are still usually dependents. Luckily, there are a couple of easy workarounds. One solution is for the parents to co-sign the loan payments or take out the loan themselves. Problem solved.

Deducting State and Local Taxes

The old saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” has never been more true than when it comes to state and local taxes. When itemizing deductions, you can claim state and local sales taxes OR you can claim state and local income taxes. But you can’t have both. Texans and people who live in other states where there’s no income tax are obviously going to want to take the sales tax road.

shopping-receiptsHowever, this route can get a little rocky a ways up. That’s because there are three paths to claiming the sales tax deduction. You can 1) take a look at your income, exemptions, and location, and then match-up with an amount on an IRS table. Or 2) claim the amount from that same table, but then also tack on actual amounts paid for items like a boat, major home improvement, and other big, specific stuff. Or finally, 3) claim the actual sales tax paid for everything.

The problem is that actual expenses are still at the mercy of the general sales tax. For example, if you buy a car and pay more sales tax on it than the general sales tax rate, you can only add the amount you would have paid at the general sales tax rate. Sorry. And, if you buy a boat or an aircraft, you can’t take the deduction at all if you paid more sales tax on those items than the general sales tax rate. Sorry again.

Deducting Mortgage Refinancing Points

house-valueWhile mortgage refinancing points might sound like they belong in a video game, these points actually have real world tax implications. In general, you can’t deduct points paid to refinance your existing mortgage in the year that you pay them, and you have to instead amortize them over the life of the loan. But let’s say you paid off your mortgage last year. You can deduct any leftover points that weren’t amortized in that year, as long as you didn’t refinance the mortgage with the same old lender.

Also, if you spruced up your house and covered the costs using some of the proceeds from refinancing the house, you can deduct the paid points that went to the home improvement project. To qualify for this, the points need to have been paid at the time of refinancing. Now aren’t you even happier you decided to add a guest bathroom?

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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$200,000 is the New Poor?!

In Accounting & Finances, Business, Taxes on January 19, 2016 by Sufen Wang

$200,000 is the New Poor in the Tax Audit World

easy-estimated-taxes-2013When it comes to tax audits, it’s a given that big fish means more money for the IRS.  That is, digging into the finances of wealthy taxpayers ends up being more worth the time of the agency’s audit teams.  But a recent report on audits from TIGTA, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, suggests that it’s time to start fishing for even bigger trout when it comes to high-income audits.

fishing2That’s because right now a taxpayer has to be making at least $200,000 to enter the pool for high-income tax auditing. When you do the math, which TIGTA did, that’s not enough. TIGTA’s Nov. 20 report found that the IRS can reel in about $605/hour for audits on people who make from $200,000 to $399,999. But audits on people making $600,000 to $799,000 bring in $1058/hour – almost double. The problem is that the IRS dedicates about half of its resources to the so-called poorer wealthy taxpayers, instead of the spending more time on the crowd that results in more money.

Financial holdings aren’t cut and dry when you get up into higher income tax brackets. Amidst all of the complexities that come with lots of moola, the risk that the taxpayers aren’t playing by the book increases. TIGTA recommends that the IRS focus on these folks to maximize return on audit resources. The easiest way to do this is to raise the $200,000 high-income audit line. The IRS is open to making this change, but only after it conducts its own analysis of what resources are going towards which taxpayer income levels. The agency pointed out that productivity alone shouldn’t determine resource allocation.

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This is a good point, since while raising the audit income threshold could mean the most bucks at the end of the day for the IRS, it could also encourage the “too-poor” wealthy taxpayers to be a little less careful on their returns if they know the high-income audit spotlight is focused elsewhere. Ultimately, the IRS will need to find a nice balance between where they put resources, what they get out of them, and how to keep taxpayers sticking to the straight and narrow.

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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Fitness!!!!

In Accounting & Finances, Business, Taxes on January 19, 2016 by Sufen Wang

Fitness Isn’t a Destination, It’s a Way of Life: 5 Steps to Starting Your Own Fitness Center

GymGetting healthy is perpetually at the top of New Year’s resolution lists. The thing is that people need somewhere to follow-through on this resolution. While there’s always the option to work out in the living room or go for a jog down the street, most people don’t. Working out all by your lonesome is, simply put, disheartening. That’s why people like fitness centers. The idea of getting dressed to go hit the Stairmaster with other people who are also getting fit is a big motivator. Meanwhile, the monthly payment for membership is an incentive for folks to get their heart rates up and the sweat pouring to get the most bang for their buck.

baby-boomer-gymThis is why in 2015 the number of fitness centers in the United States jumped by 6.4%, with the industry raking in $24 billion. Much of this spending was done by the baby boomer generation, which is at that age where health is the most valuable investment, with interest expected to grow even more as the years pass. So, are you interested in starting a health club? Thought so. The U.S. Small Business Association wants you to be successful in your endeavor and has some tips for making sure your gym works out for the best.

1)     Who, What, Where: To start a small business, you need a business plan. You should have a clear idea of where you’re going to set up shop and what consumer group you’re targeting. Love running? Then turn that passion into a health club devoted to joggers – that is, if there’s a big runner base in the area where you’ll be headquartered. If not, then recalibrate accordingly. And find an easily accessible location with reasonable rent where people don’t have to walk a mile to get inside. They’re there to get fit on your business premises, not on the way to them.

2)     People Make it Happen: You can try to run the entire gym by yourself, but you’re literally going to end up running a marathon each day and you’re sure not going to win any blue ribbons for customer satisfaction. Instead, you need a team of trainers, class instructors, membership personnel, and maintenance staff to keep the health center working like a well-oiled cycling machine. Use these guides to decide where independent contractors, seasonal employees, etc., fit in to your staffing regimen.

tradmill23)     Stuff for People to Work Out On: What’s a fitness center without fitness equipment? We don’t really know and we don’t recommend that you find out. Instead, you should decide whether you want to lease gym machines or buy your own. Leasing will probably end up costing you more in the long-run. However, on the flipside, leasing is good if you don’t have the credit to buy the latest and greatest ab machine on the market. It also lets you switch out equipment as technology changes. Plus, if one piece of equipment is getting neglected, you can more easily replace it with something that’s going to keep customers coming back.

MH9004414594)     Get Money to Get Started: Speaking of credit, don’t ditch your fitness center dreams just because you don’t have enough money. You can take a traditional financing route or you might want to consider a government-backed loan. For example, rather than lending money to you directly, the SBA can provide a guaranty to a bank that will in turn lend money to you for your gym. Some loans, such as the SBA express loan, have a turnaround time of 36 hours and a limit of $350,000, so you can get into the game and make a winning with no hassle.

5)     Safety Net: If you’re putting all of this time and effort into creating a healthy, money-making hub, you need some peace of mind that all won’t be lost if something goes wrong. That’s where small business insurance comes in. And even if you have complete confidence that nothing will happen, you still need to meet your state’s insurance requirements for injuries and accidents.

Clipart Illustration of a Healthy Red Heart Running Past

These five steps are just a warm-up to get you motivated about pursuing your fitness center dream. For example, you have to do things like register your business name, obtain licenses and permits, and much more. However, it’s all very doable, especially with the dedicated SBA coaching you step-by-step.

 

 

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805