On March 13, 2020 the President issued an emergency disaster declaration under the Stafford Act as a result of the coronavirus disease pandemic. The disaster area covers all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. Territories. As a result, and as was done in the past in the wake of major disasters, including Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Harvey and Maria, the IRS is providing special relief that allows employees to donate their unused paid vacation, sick leave, and personal leave time to COVID-19 relief efforts.
Here is how it works: if your employer is participating, you can relinquish any unused and paid vacation time, sick leave and personal leave for cash payments which your employer will donate to COVID-19 relief charitable organizations. The cash payment will not be treated as wages to you and your employer can deduct the amount donated as a business expense. However, since the income isn’t taxable to you, you will not be allowed to claim the donation as a charitable deduction on your tax return. Even so, excluding income is often worth more as tax savings than a potential tax deduction, especially if you generally claim the standard deduction* or you are subject to AGI-based limitations.
Taxpayers with disabilities may qualify for a number of tax credits and other tax benefits. Parents of children with disabilities may also qualify. Listed below are several tax credits and other benefits that are available if you or someone else listed on your federal tax return is disabled.
Prior to the passage of tax reform, individuals who moved as the result of a job change or job relocation could deduct their unreimbursed moving expenses if the driving distance from their home to the new job location was at least 50 miles more than the driving distance from home to the old job location. There was also a requirement that the individual work in the new location for a specified minimum period of time after the move.
Unfortunately, tax reform effectively repealed that deduction after 2017, except for members of the Armed Forces on active duty who move pursuant to a military order. On top of that, if an employer reimburses the employee for the expenses—whether by paying a moving van company, airline, or other vendor directly, or by reimbursing the employee for their moving expenses—the reimbursement will be treated as taxable wages subject to withholding of income, Medicare, and Social Security taxes.
A commonly overlooked requirement of taking a tax deduction for donating clothing and household goods to charity is the substantiation requirement, for both what is donated and the value placed on the donation. Because the IRS has encountered so much abuse in this area, it has increased the donation verification requirements over the years, and taxpayers risk losing the deduction if their donations are not correctly documented and reasonably valued.
An often asked question is: are meals and entertainment deductible in the course of one’s business, and if so, under what circumstances? This type of expense requires you to comply with some pretty complicated qualifications, and if you can jump through the hoops, the expenses may be deductible in certain cases.
But before we go too far, know that unreimbursed meal expenses incurred while out of town overnight on business are always deductible but generally limited to 50% of the cost. The focus of this article is the deductibility of meals and attendance at events in the form of business entertainment.
Military service members have special obligations and take risks while performing their service to our country, which impact their tax situation. As a result, they are entitled to a number of special tax breaks. Included in this article are the predominant tax breaks available to military personnel.
Parents who work or are looking for work must arrange for care of their children during working hours or while looking for work. If this describes your situation, and your children requiring care are under 13 years of age, you may qualify for a child care tax credit.
The credit ranges from 20% to 35% of non-reimbursed expenses, based upon your income, with the higher percentages applying to lower income taxpayers and the lower percentages applying to higher income taxpayers.
The only interest that is still deductible as an itemized deduction is home mortgage interest and investment interest. If you are like so many others with large consumer debt, such as credit cards and car payments, you are paying high interest rates that are not deductible. If the amount of consumer interest you pay each year is substantial and you itemize your deductions, you may want to consider converting that nondeductible interest into tax-deductible interest by paying off the consumer debt with a home equity line of credit. Generally, current law allows individual taxpayers to borrow up to $100,000 of home equity and deduct the interest on that loan as home mortgage interest. This would also apply to planned large consumer purchases, such as a car or motor home. Using a home equity line to purchase these items will make the interest deductible.
If you are an adoptive parent or are planning to adopt a child, you may qualify for a substantial income-tax credit. The amount of the credit is based on any expenses incurred that are directly related to the adoption of a child under the age of 18 or a person who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care.
This is a 1:1 credit for each dollar of qualified expenses up to a maximum for the year, which is $13,570 for 2017 (up from $13,460 in 2016). The credit is nonrefundable, which means it can only reduce tax liability to zero (as opposed to potentially resulting in a cash refund). But the good news is that any unused credit can be used for up to five years to reduce future tax liability.
Qualified expenses generally include adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees and travel expenses that are reasonable, necessary and directly related to the adoption of the child, and may be for both domestic and foreign adoptions; however, expenses related to adopting a spouse’s child are not eligible for this credit. When adopting a child with special needs, the full credit is allowed whether or not any qualified expenses were incurred. A child with special needs is, among other requirements, a child who the state has determined (a) cannot or should not be returned to his or her parents’ home and (b) that the child won’t be adopted unless assistance is provided to the adoptive parents.