Individual Tax


11
September

Officials Say the Actual IRS Will Never Make First Contact by Phone

Con artists posing as Internal Revenue Service agents are back in the news. Despite previous warnings from government officials, some taxpayers still haven’t gotten the message.

“There are clear warning signs about these scams, which continue at high levels throughout the nation,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said recently. “Taxpayers should remember their first contact with the IRS will not be a call from out of the blue, but through official correspondence sent through the mail. A big red flag for these scams are angry, threatening calls from people who say they are from the IRS and urging immediate payment.”

“This is not how we operate,” he said. “People should hang up immediately” and contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (www.tigta. gov) or the IRS. On the TIGTA site, click on “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting.”

Government officials have received about 90,000 complaints through a telephone hotline since late 2013, says a TIGTA spokesman. About 1,100 victims have lost an estimated $5 million from these scams.

Scamsters may try to claim that you owe money or are entitled to a big refund, officials say. Callers might use phony names and IRS badge numbers. They might even know the last four digits of your Social Security number.

Real IRS representatives “never” ask for credit-card, debit-card or prepaid card information over the phone, the IRS said. They also never insist that you use a specific payment method. And they never demand immediate payment over the phone, the IRS says.

If you get a suspicious call and think you owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS (800-829- 1040). If you have no reason to think you owe anything, call TIGTA (800-366-4484), and tell the Federal Trade Commission using its “FTC Complaint Assistant” (ftc.gov). Include the words “IRS Telephone Scam.”

By: Tom Herman

19
August

A new Alabama income tax credit is available for Alabama individuals and businesses that contribute cash to the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education (ADPE) for qualifying educational expenses directly associated with the state’s Career‐Technical Dual Enrollment Program. The tax credit was created by House Bill 384 (Act No. 2014‐147, the “Act”), which was sponsored by Representatives Buttram, Baker, Collins, and Hubbard. The Bill was signed into law by Governor Robert Bentley on March 11, 2014, and will go into effect for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2015.

We have had a lot of questions about the particulars about implementing and complying with the law, so we created a handy guide (linked below).

JMF Memo Explaining the Alabama Dual Enrollment Tax Credit

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any of our CPAs for further explanation.

23
July

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. (CST) on Friday August 1, 2014, and ending at twelve midnight on Sunday August 3, 2014, Alabama will hold its 8th annual sales tax holiday giving shoppers in Tuscaloosa County the opportunity to purchase certain school supplies, computers and clothing free of state and local sales tax. Not all cities participate but Tuscaloosa, Northport, Selma, Birmingham do.   Here the list of all participating communities.

Here’s the link to ADOR’s website for the Sales Tax Holiday.

7
July

We get this question a lot at this time of the year.    If your tax return is on extension and you are now preparing the return, can you still make an IRA contribution?

Maybe, but generally the short answer is No. The deadline for making most IRA or Roth IRA contributions is April 15th for the prior year contribution. Extending the return doesn’t change that.

Generally, there is no extension of time to make the IRA contribution, but as with almost every IRA rule there are exceptions.

Exceptions:

If you are in a federally declared disaster areas may qualify for an extension in order to complete transactions for their retirement accounts, including making contributions.  Check out this list to see if you qualify.

Military personnel in combat zones may qualify for extra time to make IRA contributions.  Helpful additional info from the IRS

Here’s the most common exception: SEP IRAs.  The due date for establishing and making a SEP IRA contribution is the due date of the business tax return, including extensions.  So, any business owner who is having the tax return prepared now, in July, could still establish a SEP plan and make a SEP contribution for last year.  Info here & SEP setup forms here

 

If you have any questions or comments about the information included here, please contact one of our retirement plan specialists (Anita Hayes, Mindy Norton or Sonya Waddell).

23
June

Last week, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that inherited IRAs are not protected in bankruptcy under federal law.

The Court’s decision resolved the bankruptcy question about inherited IRAs in the federal courts, but it does not resolve all questions because state laws also control the bankruptcy protection. Each state’s law is different, here is a site if you want common state bankruptcy exemptions, but this is an overview and isn’t intended to take the place of legal counsel.

This decision could have far reaching ramifications and depending on the circumstances, IRA owners may need to think before deciding which heirs should be IRA beneficiaries upon their death.

The Court’s decision presumably will not affect spousal beneficiaries, though the decision doesn’t state. There are several special rules for spousal beneficiaries in the tax code, including the ability for a surviving spouse to rollover the IRA into their own.

Here’s a summary behind the decision:

  • The enactment of BAPCPA (bankruptcy consumer protection act – 2005) was designed to make filing for bankruptcy less appealing. For IRA and Roth IRA owners there was bankruptcy protection to “retirement plans” allowing these accounts an exemption of $1 million adjusted for inflation (currently $1,245,475). Employer sponsored plans have an unlimited exemption.
  • The use of “retirement funds” in the law has caused bankruptcy trustees to challenge the exemption under federal bankruptcy rules in the case of Inherited IRAs and Inherited Roth IRAs.
  • After well fought battles that started in 2010, the case of Clark v Rameker, Trustee was appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supremes’ primary issue was whether or not an inherited IRA is a retirement plan.

 The decision was that an Inherited IRA (Roth IRA) is NOT a retirement plan based largely on the following items:

  1.  Beneficiaries cannot add money to the inherited IRA the way and IRA owner can;
  2. Beneficiaries of Inherited IRAs must begin receiving RMDs (required minimum distributions) no matter how far away their retirement will be;
  3. Beneficiaries can take total distributions from the inherited IRAs at any time and for any purpose without penalty (IRA owners must generally wait until attainment of age 59 ½ before there is a penalty free distribution)

 

Please contact your JMF accountant or retirement specialist for more information.

27
May

Our own Dan Johnson, a JMF supervisor, was one of the speakers at the Alabama Preservation 2014 Conference in Florence Alabama on April 24th. He had the peculiar task of explaining how to file the new Alabama Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit on the AL tax forms that do not yet exist. This presentation is a creative interpretation of how the AL tax filings for these credits might look, given his experience with the Federal Historic Tax Credit Part 3 certifications of the Qualified Rehabilitation Expenditures and his experience with the filing of the credit on the federal tax return.

13
May

Due to recent flooding and tornadoes, the Alabama Department of Revenue has offered taxpayer relief in the federally-declared disasters areas of Baldwin, Blount, DeKalb, Etowah, Jefferson, Lee, Limestone, Mobile, and Tuscaloosa counties, or whose business operations are located in those counties, until Oct. 15, 2014, to file certain Alabama tax returns that have a due date falling between April 28, 2014, and Oct. 15, 2014.

This relief includes:

  •  Income Tax Withholding returns due for monthly filers May 15, 2014; June 16, 2014; July 15, 2014; Aug. 15, 2014; and Sept. 15, 2014.
  •  Income Tax Withholding quarterly returns due for quarterly filers July 31, 2014.
  •  Estimated Personal Income Tax returns due June 16, 2014, and Sept. 15, 2014.
  •  Estimated Corporate Income Tax returns (for calendar year taxpayers) due June 16, 2014, and Sept. 15, 2014.
  •  Any other related income tax returns due during this extension period, including Business Privilege Tax returns, as well as those related returns filed by Pass-through Entities.

Late filing and payment penalties will be waived upon request for those affected taxpayers seeking this relief. Alabama’s tax laws have no provision for the waiver of interest.

For the complete release, click here: Alabama Tax Filing Extensions Offered to Storm Victims in Nine Alabama Counties