People often say that an expense is “a tax write-off”; most everyone interprets this to mean that the expense will have a tax benefit. Generally, such a benefit takes the form of either a deduction or a credit; these benefits’ effects are quite different, however, and each type has various categories. As a result, the tax implications may not be as expected. This is especially true when the write-off claim comes from a salesperson who is touting the tax benefits of a product or service, as such individuals often leave out key details. In general, a deduction reduces taxable income, whereas a credit reduces the tax itself.Continue reading →
Raising money through Internet crowdfunding sites prompts questions about the taxability of the money raised. A number of sites host money-raising projects for fees ranging from 5 to 9%, including GoFundMe, Kickstarter, and Indiegogo. Each site specifies its own charges, limitations, and withdrawal processes. Whether the money raised is taxable depends upon the purpose of the fundraising campaign.Continue reading →
Generally, when individuals have a hobby, they have it because they enjoy it and are not involved in their hobby with the goal of making money. In fact, most hobbies never make money or don’t even create any income, for that matter. Tax law generally does not allow deductions for personal expenses except those allowed as itemized deductions on the 1040 Schedule A, and this also applies to hobby expenses.
Some hobbyists try to get a tax deduction for their hobby expenses by treating their hobby as a trade or a business. By disguising hobbies as a trade or business, and if the hobby expenses exceed the hobby income, they think they can report the difference between hobby income and expenses as a deductible business loss. Not in this case! To curtail hobbies being treated as businesses, the tax code includes rules that do not permit losses for not-for-profit activities such as hobbies. The not-for-profit rules are often referred to as the hobby loss rules.Continue reading →
There are many reasons to convert a home into a rental, such as to ensure that a prior home produces income and appreciation after the owner buys a new home; to maximize the tax benefits for an elderly person who can no longer live alone by delaying the sale of that person’s home; and to ensure that a home provides value when its owner takes a temporary job assignment in a different location. Some homeowners even mistakenly think that, when a home has declined in value, converting it into a rental can allow them to deduct that loss. Regardless of why an individual makes such a conversion, a number of tax issues come into play as a result of that decision.Continue reading →
We are now over halfway through 2019, so it may be a good time to double-check your withholding and projected tax amounts in order to prevent another unpleasant surprise at tax time. If you are conversant with tax terminology, you can use the IRS’s newly updated withholding estimator to do so. This online tool helps you to determine whether your employer is withholding the right amount of tax from your paychecks. However, be careful, as the results are only as good as the information that you put into the withholding estimator. You also have to estimate your income for the year from various sources.Continue reading →
If you are buying a new car, are you wondering what to do with the old one? You actually have a number of options, some of which have tax implications and some of which don’t. These options include trading the car in with the dealer, selling it to a third party, donating it to a charity, gifting it to someone, or even keeping it as a second car. Here are the details for each. Note: This article does not discuss in detail how to treat the disposition of a vehicle used for business.Continue reading →
Anyone who collects tips must include those tips in their taxable income. This requirement is not limited to waiters and waitresses; it applies to anyone who collects tips, including taxicab, Uber, Lyft, and similar drivers; beauticians; porters; concierges; and delivery people.
Tips are amounts freely given by a customer to a person providing a service. They are generally given as cash but also include tips made on a credit or debit card or as part of a tip-sharing arrangement. Tips can also be in the form of non-traditional gifts such as tickets to events, wine, and other items of value. If you receive $20 or more in tips in any month, you should report all of your tips to your employer.Continue reading →
A taxpayer’s filing status for the year is based upon his or her marital status at the close of the tax year. Thus, if you get married on the last day of the tax year, you are treated as married for the entire year. The options for married couples are to file jointly or separately. Both statuses can result in surprises – some pleasant and some unpleasant – for individuals who previously filed as unmarried.
Also, the couple needs to notify their employers of their new marital status so any affected benefits can be updated. Usually new W-4 forms should be prepared and given to their employers so income tax withholding can be revised for the new filing status.Continue reading →
You have your 2018 tax return filed, or perhaps on extension, and now it is time to look forward to the changes that will impact your 2019 return when you file it in 2020.
Keeping up with the constantly changing tax laws can help you get the most benefit out of the laws and minimize your taxes. Many tax parameters, such as the standard deduction, contributions to retirement plans, and tax rates, are annually inflation adjusted, while some tax changes are delayed and take effect in future years. On top of all that, we have Congress considering the retroactive extension of some tax provisions that expired after 2017 as well as proposing new tax legislation.Continue reading →
Taxpayers are often confused by the differences in tax treatment between businesses that are entered into for profit and those that are not, commonly referred to as hobbies. Recent tax law changes have added to the confusion. The differences are:
Businesses Entered Into for Profit – For businesses entered into for profit, the profits are taxable, and losses are generally deductible against other income. The income and expenses are commonly reported on a Schedule C, and the profit or loss—after subtracting expenses from the business income—is carried over to the taxpayer’s 1040 tax return. (An exception to deducting the business loss may apply if the activity is considered a “passive” activity, but most Schedule C proprietors actively participate in their business, so the details of the passive loss rules aren’t included in this article.)
Hobbies – Hobbies, on the other hand, are not entered into for profit, and the government currently does not permit a taxpayer to deduct their hobby expenses but does require the income from the activity to be declared. (Prior to the changes included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, hobbyists were allowed to deduct expenses up to the amount of their hobby income as a miscellaneous itemized deduction on Schedule A. Being able to take this deduction is suspended for years 2018 through 2025.) Thus, hobby income is reported on Schedule 1 of their 1040 and no expenses are deductible.