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Frequently Asked Questions
We bill hourly for our actual time spent. We do not bill based upon the number of lines populated or schedules involved. We have found this method to be the most fair to our clients.
We request that our clients send us the information to prepare their tax returns with the expectation that we turn it around within 14 days. This is our general guideline and we always do our best to expedite our processing to accommodate a client’s needs. However, there is no guarantee that we can turn around a return within a few days. We pride ourselves on quality service and this just does not give us the time we need to properly prepare, review and deliver tax returns up to our standards.
Keep records of all your current year income and deductible expenses. These are the records that an auditor will ask for if the IRS selects you for an audit.
Here’s a list of the kinds of tax records and receipts to keep that relate to your current year income and deductions:
- Income (wages, interest/dividends, etc.)
- Exemptions (cost of support)
- Medical expenses
- Charitable contributions
- Child care
- Business expenses
- Professional and union dues
- Uniforms and job supplies
- Education, if it is deductible for income taxes
- Automobile, if you use your automobile for deductible activities, such as business or charity
- Travel, if you travel for business and are able to deduct the costs on your tax return
While you’re storing your current year’s income and expense records, be sure to keep your bank account and loan records too, even though you don’t report them on your tax return. If the IRS believes you’ve underreported your taxable income because your lifestyle appears to be more comfortable than your taxable income would allow, having these loan and bank records may be just the thing to save you.
If you’re planning to make a charitable gift, it generally makes more sense to give appreciated long-term capital assets to the charity, instead of selling the assets and giving the charity the after-tax proceeds. Donating the assets instead of the cash avoids capital gains tax on the sale, and you can obtain a tax deduction for the full fair market value of the property
If you have an investment on which you have an accumulated loss, it may be advantageous to sell it prior to year-end. Capital losses are deductible up to the amount of your capital gains plus $3,000. If you are planning on selling an investment on which you have an accumulated gain, it may be best to wait until after the end of the year to defer payment of the taxes for another year (subject to estimated tax requirements).
For growth stocks you hold for the long term, you pay no tax on the appreciation until you sell them. No capital gains tax is imposed on appreciation at your death.
Interest on state or local bonds (“municipals”) is generally exempt from federal income tax and from tax by the issuing state or locality. For that reason, interest paid on such bonds is somewhat less than that paid on commercial bonds of comparable quality. However, for individuals in higher brackets, the interest from municipals will often be greater than from higher paying commercial bonds after reduction for taxes.
For high-income taxpayers, who live in high-income-tax states, investing in Treasury bills, bonds, and notes can pay off in tax savings. The interest on Treasuries is exempt from state and local income tax.
Consider setting up and contributing as much as possible to a retirement plan. These are allowed even for sideline or moonlighting businesses. Several types of plans are available: the Keogh Plan, the SEP, and the SIMPLE
Through the use of tax-deferred retirement accounts you can invest some of the money you would have otherwise paid in taxes to increase the amount of your retirement fund. Many employers offer plans where you can elect to defer a portion of your salary and contribute it to a tax-deferred retirement account. For most companies these are referred to as 401(k) plans. For many other employers, such as universities, a similar plan called a 403(b) is available.
Some employers match a portion of employee contributions to such plans. If this is available, you should structure your contributions to receive the maximum employer matching contribution.
If you are due a bonus at year-end, you may be able to defer receipt of these funds until January. This can defer the payment of taxes (other than the portion withheld) for another year. If you’re self employed, defer sending invoices or bills to clients or customers until after the new year begins. Here, too, you can defer some of the tax, subject to estimated tax requirements.
You can achieve the same effect of short-term income deferral by accelerating deductions-for example, paying a state estimated tax installment in December instead of at the following January due date.
Most individuals are in a higher tax bracket in their working years than during retirement. Deferring income until retirement may result in paying taxes on that income at a lower rate. Deferral can also work in the short term if you expect to be in a lower bracket in the following year or if you can take advantage of lower long-term capital gains rates by holding an asset a little longer.