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After ringing in the new year, the clock starts ticking on tax prep to ready for the April deadline

We don’t mean to put a damper on the new year. However, April will be here before we all know it. We urge you to see the opportunities that reside with “tax time,” as it relates to getting your personal and, as appropriate, business financial health in order.

Furthermore, as financial partners, we at O’Donnell, Ficenec, Wills & Ferdig can help you to resolve to save money in the new and better year (read: tax savings and seizing opportunities via the likes of credits). And that is a resolution that we can stick to!

Timely items

The Internal Revenue Service maintains a “hub” of sorts for hot-button topics associated with the current tax season. At this clearinghouse for tax alerts and notifications, the IRS underscored how taxpayers are encountering numerous “issues due to critical tax law changes that took place in 2021 and ongoing challenges awaited to the pandemic. Of course, the mere fact that the IRS is putting a spotlight on myriad such tax law- and pandemic-related issues, further reinforces the need to turn to our skilled tax professionals. We stay on top of the array of changes, and can accurately answer specific questions and address concerns specific to your circumstances.

In the meantime, and in addition to directing taxpayers toward the latest resources related to COVID-19 and economic impact tax relief and payments, the Service further isolated the following:

  • How Individual Retirement Arrangements or Accounts (IRAs) holders aged 70 and a half and older can transfer up to $100K from their account to charity annually. Qualifying transfers are not taxed.

  • Known as Qualified Charitable Distributions, transferred funds provide for an easy and tax-free way to boost giving, while also counting toward owners’ required minimum distributions (among those individuals who are aged 72 and older).

  • Certain readers with earned income from sales (goods/services) may be subject to Payment Card and Third-Party Network Transactions requirements (Form 1099-K). As part of the American Rescue Plan Act (2021) provisions, the threshold for reporting for third-party networks that process payments was lowered.

  • Formerly, the 1099-K was only triggered for those taxpayers with total annual transactions in excess of 200 (and a value of more than $20,000). Now, one transaction of more than $600 or combined transactions exceeding that amount can trigger the reporting requirements. This may be of particular interest to our self-employed, gig workers, and others who leverage these networks in the sale of their products and services.

  • More than 60 provisions, including those related to tax rate schedules, were subject to inflation adjustments. Of particular interest to a number of taxpayers, the standard deduction for married couples/joint filers rose by $1,800 to $27,700 (for tax year 2023), while the standard deduction for single and married individual(s) (filing separately) and heads of households increased by $900 and $1,400 to $13,850 and $20,800, respectively.

  • In a similar vein, 37% remains the top tax rate (for marginal rates, and as applied to individual single taxpayers and married couples/joint filers with incomes exceeding $578, 125 and $693,750, respectively). Rates related to other incomes can be found here, as well as information on the likes of the AMT exemption for the 2023 tax year.

  • The agency estimates that around 9 million individuals and families who are eligible for “key tax benefits” are missing out – they did not claim some or all of the Recovery Rebate, Child Tax, Earned Income Tax, and an array of other credits. Those individuals should have received a letter about these expanded credits. And, depending on your personal or familial circumstances, you may be leaving tax savings on the table.

  • Tied to pandemic relief measures, the IRS has been cracking down on those Paycheck Protection Program loans that were deemed to be “improperly forgiven.” Loan forgiveness documentation that included omissions, misrepresentations or other errors results in the taxpayer now being ineligible to exclude the forgiven amount from their income. These funds must then be included as income.

  • The agency is further encouraging taxpayers who fall under this category to get into compliance by filing amended returns as needed to account for the loan proceeds that were initially forgiven.

  • As part of the Inflation Reduction Act, the Alternative Fuels Credit pertains to those qualifying products sold or used during the first, second and third quarters of calendar year 2022. In the coming decade, the IRS will continue to issue guidance on other opportunities for taxpayers to reduce their tax burdens and to incentivize the likes of clean energy and environmentally-responsible vehicles.

Timeless considerations

Obviously, one of the biggest benefits of filing is to get money back if you are among those taxpayers whose employer withheld taxes. You can even direct that tax refund toward your nest egg. It’s also the law. So, filing accurately, completely and on time furthermore helps you to avoid costly interest and penalties.

Additionally, you can keep your credit unsullied by avoiding liens that may be placed against you as a means of securing payment for tax debts outstanding. Not only can this situation drastically dock your score, but it can also make it much harder to secure financing for a new car, house or any other goal investments that you want or need well into the future.

Claiming all income, including earnings as a “self-employed” taxpayer, also goes toward the calculations that are used to pinpoint the dollar value of your Social Security benefits.

Lastly, it should be stressed that what we uncover during “tax time” interfaces seamlessly with your overall financial picture. You are equipped with an accurate understanding of your earnings and liabilities. This can be beneficial when, for instance, loan servicers review your tax returns and may determine that you are eligible for a lower interest rate and/or better terms – saving you money over the long haul.

It should also be stated that we at OFWF strive to establish relationships with our valued clients. And we perceive clients as more than that – they are indeed true partners. As partners, we are able to stay on top of any life changes or events that could affect your tax liabilities and, overall, your eligibility for certain programs, credits, and deductions.

In fact, we may request different documents based on how your circumstances have changed since the prior year. Job loss, new careers, the effects of natural disasters, disability, retirement, marriage, the death of a loved one, first-time homeownership, relocation, and an array of other events that can be characterized as the “cycle of life,” largely trigger varied documentation to qualify for tax relief, credits, exemptions, deductions, and to fulfill reporting requirements. You do not want to miss out on opportunities to help you during the challenging times, nor do you want to fail to comply with filing requirements, which could be a costly mistake.

Contact us today!

Our team has more than seven decades of experience in providing accounting, auditing, and related services to individuals, families, and businesses. True to our tagline of “we are more than accounting,” we have seen it all, and stay on top of the latest legislative and personal changes that could affect your tax burden and overall financial picture.

Your line of business is second nature to you. Likewise, the tax process – not a one-time event -- is second nature to us. So, trust your hard-earned monies and future goals to us. The sooner that we can work with you, the better. Tax time, as daunting as it can be, need not be a source of dread. With a little time on our side and a lot of expertise, you may just look forward to that refund, and the information we glean may even be parlayed to support strategies that work in the best interests of your household and/or business.

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