Tax Accountant – Oak Brook IL

Tax Issues for Divorcing Individuals

Tax AvoidWhen a couple divorces or separates, there are many issues that need to be sorted out. One issue many forget to discuss is taxes. Here is a look at some of the tax issues divorcing couples may encounter.

File Jointly or Separately?

For tax purposes, a person’s marital status is determined on the last day of the tax year, so individuals who separate (but don’t divorce) during the year typically will need to make a choice between filing jointly or separately.

Filing separately may result in the loss of valuable tax credits and deductions. For example, the American Opportunity Tax Credit (for higher education costs) is not available to a married taxpayer who files a separate return. Typically, filing jointly will result in the lowest overall tax.

One reason to consider filing separately is for protection from the other spouse’s future tax liabilities. Generally, spouses who sign joint returns have joint and several liability — meaning that they are each fully liable for unpaid tax liabilities arising out of the return. Moreover, the IRS has the right to pursue the party who is best able to pay the full amount quickly, leaving issues of fairness to be worked out between the two filers. (The “innocent spouse” rules and/or the “separate liability” election may provide protection in some circumstances.)

Alimony Versus Child Support

Alimony represents taxable income to the recipient and a tax deduction for the person paying it. Child support, on the other hand, is not taxed to the recipient, and the person paying the child support gets no deduction for the payments. Because the tax consequences are so significant, a number of technical rules govern what constitutes alimony.

Generally, alimony must be paid in cash (or by check) pursuant to a divorce or separation agreement and terminate upon the death of the recipient. Some people — in the divorce decree or settlement agreement — try to “front-load” their alimony payments by designating payments in the early years as alimony rather than as child support. The IRS has specific rules limiting front-loading.

Property Transfers

Spouses should take care when dividing up assets. The general rule is that no gain or loss is recognized for property transfers if they occur either within one year of the end of the marriage or within six years of the end of the marriage and pursuant to a divorce or separation instrument. However, such transfers may create tax issues down the road, because when the property is sold, the owner may have to pay capital gains tax on the difference between the sale price and the basis (generally, the original cost). As a result, it’s important to consider potential future taxes when negotiating a property settlement.

Child-related Tax Breaks

Only one parent may claim the dependency exemption for a child. Generally, the dependency exemption will go to the parent with physical custody, although numerous subsidiary rules may apply. The rules for claiming the child tax credit generally track those for the dependency exemption. And the general rule for the child and dependent care credit is that the credit will go to the parent with physical custody.

If you are tired of overpaying taxes and making mistakes on tax breaks you rightfully deserve, then call Kimmey & Associates and ask for Michael Kimmey.

Oak Brook office – 630-581-7007

Orland Park office – 708-687-2917

Kimmey & Associates is a Chicago tax and accounting firm that has operated for over 35 years.  We have two convenient offices, Oak Brook and Orland Park to better service clients throughout Cook, DuPage and Will County.

Office Space Decisions for Chicago Businesses

Office SpaceBuy or lease?

It’s a decision many small businesses face. Owning real estate certainly can have advantages, including the opportunity to build equity. But many small businesses in need of space choose the rental route instead.

Cash Flow Considerations

By leasing, a company can avoid taking on debt to acquire a property. Less debt on the balance sheet may allow the company to finance other things, such as receivables or inventory and equipment purchases. And the upfront cash commitment needed to enter a lease agreement may be much lower than the down payment required for a property purchase.

Shopping Tips

If your business is looking around for the right rental location, here are a few suggestions to keep in mind. Not all of these tips are appropriate for all businesses, but some may help you get a lead on a good spot — and a good deal.

  • Find an eager landlord. Rental spots that have been on the market for a while could have some negative features, but they may be worth a look. If you find a location that suits you, you might also find a landlord who is anxious to negotiate.
  • Think about the term. A long-term lease locks in your rental rate — and that can be an advantage if you expect the market to trend upward. But leasing for short periods is often less expensive than leasing for longer periods. If your business is in its formative years, significant changes may lie ahead, so a short-term arrangement could be more practical, too. Adding an “option to renew” clause can help keep your costs down and your options open.
  • Divide and conquer. Could you make do with two smaller spaces instead of one large space? The more flexible you can be, the better your chances of finding a good deal.
  • Check rental comps. Commercial property markets can be very localized. Rents may vary considerably between one locality and another just a few miles away. Unless you’re limited to a specific location, compare rates in several areas.

If you are struggling with the buy versus lease decision, call Michael Kimmey & Associates.  We have convenient office locations in Oak Brook and Orland Park to better service you.

Oak Brook accounting office – 630-581-7007

Orland Park accounting office – 708-687-2917

 

Michael Kimmey is a small business accounting firm that has been operating for over 35 years.  We provide accounting, tax and financial management services.  We have additional expertise in QuickBooks accounting as a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor.  We also provide additional expertise like construction accounting, and manufacturing accounting.

Foreign Bank Account Violations are Expensive

Bank AccountIf you have a foreign bank account that has not been reported to the IRS, then you could be facing serious civil penalties and even criminal penalties. These penalties fall under the Foreign Bank Account Report, (FBAR) violations.

First, it is important to determine if you are required to report your foreign bank account. It comes down to being able to say yes to the following four questions:

  • You are now a US citizen or permanent resident or have been in the last six years.
  • You have had a foreign bank account for a year or longer since 2008.
  • Your balances in all of your foreign accounts exceed $10K
  • You have not reported the account through the FBAR paperwork to the IRS.

The civil penalties for not filing the FBAR will be the greater of 50% of your bank account or $100K. The IRS has also indicated that it is willing to charge these penalties cumulatively for up to four or even six years.

This means that you can be charged these penalties for each year you have had the foreign bank account and not reported it to the IRS regardless of the fact that the penalties may well out pace the actual dollar amount in your account.

In addition to expensive civil penalties, you can also face criminal penalties. If the IRS determines that you willfully knew that you should have filed a FBAR and didn’t, they can charge you under FBAR violation laws as well as normal criminal tax prosecution laws.

A criminal prosecution typically occurs when a person has a large amount of taxable income in their foreign bank account that has not been claimed on their tax return.

A tax accountant or tax attorney can walk you through your options if you find yourself in this situation, as the IRS does offer voluntary disclosure programs, but even with taking advantage of one of these programs, you will still suffer the sting of IRS penalties.

If you are tired of overpaying taxes and would like to lower your risk of being audited, call 630-581-7007 and ask for Michael Kimmey.

 

Michael Kimmey & Associates is a tax accounting firm servicing the greater Chicago metro.  We have offices in Oak Brook and Orland Park to service businesses and individuals.  Our tax compliance services include Tax Audit Representation to tax preparation for established businesses.  To better service our business clients, we are Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors.

Workman’s Comp Coverage – What it Means

Workers CompWhile rules and regulations for workman’s comp insurance change from state-to-state, there some general guidelines you need to know and follow no matter where your business might be located.

First, as an employer, you are required to protect employees that are killed on the job, are injured, or become ill. Most employers obtain either state sponsored or private insurance. Others will use self-insurance. Regardless of which option you select, it is the employer who foots the bill.

Secondly, workman’s comp is a state based program as opposed to a federal program. Most states require some form of workman’s comp, and as the employer, you are expected to accept the rules and regulations. For those businesses with under four employees, there is an exemption to carrying the coverage, at least in some states.

Workers Comp2Next, workman’s comp pays four different types of benefits. These are survivor’s benefits, disability benefits, rehabilitation benefits, and medical benefits. The injured employee or their heirs receive a lump sum payment which then relieves the business of any further liability.

Also, employees are covered with a few exceptions. These exceptions include business owners, independent contractors, unpaid volunteers and domestic employees in private homes.

In addition, workers’ comp is paid on the no-fault basis. This means that regardless of who is at fault for the injury, the employee receives the benefits, and the business does not have to admit liability.

Finally, even when an employee is outside of the workplace, they may be covered. This can include traveling for business purposes, running work related errands, or attending a required business social event.

The state rules and regulations for workman’s comp insurance can be tricky, but they do protect both the employee and employer. When purchasing this insurance, it is always best to work with a professional that can ensure your business’s needs are met.

Tax Benefits of Health Savings Accounts

While most people are familiar with tax benefits for other types of investments, often times, they are less familiar when it comes to the tax benefits of health savings accounts. There are three such benefits that you should know about and take advantage of.

Health Savings AccountPerhaps the largest tax benefit is that the money that goes into the account is tax-deductible. Also, if the money is invested through a company payroll deduction, all contributions are made pre-tax.

The second tax benefit comes on the interest side. Health savings accounts, do earn interest, and this interest is tax free. This allows an individual to use the account for long-term appreciation as the money does grows tax free. In that regard, it is very much like a Roth IRA with the added benefit of a current tax deduction.

The third tax benefit is that the owner of the account has the option of taking tax free withdrawals for medical expenses. These expenses must quality, but they do include almost all services provided by licensed health providers as well as substance abuse treatment and prescriptions.

Currently, in 2015, an individual can contribute up to $3,350 and a family can contribute up to $6,650. For those over the age of 55, an extra $1,000 contribution per year is allowed.

Finally, it is important to note that health savings accounts do not have a limit on carry-overs or a requirement on when the funds must be used. This is what enables them to be used for long-term savings to offset increased health-care costs or additional costs after retirement.

While health savings accounts haven’t always been on the forefront of investment options, with health insurance policy’s current rising deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, more individuals are qualifying for the accounts, and with the tax benefits, it’s wise to give them a look.

 

If you are looking to lower your taxes proactively, call Michael Kimmey & Associates.  For over 35 years, we have helped small businesses and individuals with accounting, taxes and financial management solutions.  To better service our clients, we have offices in Orland Park and Oak Brook IL.