Rebella Accountancy | 507 E. First Street, Suite A | Tustin, CA 92780 | Phone: 714-619-0667 | Fax: 714-544-0236

       

 

 

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Rebella Accountancy

 

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Feature Articles

 

- New year begins with delayed filing season
 

- Continuing tax reform discussions and new IRS leader
 

- Higher-income taxpayers brace for higher tax bill with 2013 returns
 

- Keeping good records for tax season and beyond – some guidelines
 

- How do I use the 2014 standard mileage rates?
 

- FAQ: What 2013 tax year deadlines extend into 2014?


- January 2014 tax compliance calendarx compliance calendar

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delayed Tax Filing Season + Taxpayers Brace For Higher Tax Bill With 2013 Returns


 

Taxpayers will experience a short delay to the start of the 2014 filing season, but passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 averted the possibility of an IRS shutdown in January.

 

The budget agreement, however, did not include any tax provisions, and tax reform must find a new vehicle to move forward in Congress.

 

Meanwhile, the IRS starts 2014 with a new leader, who promised to restore public trust in the agency after a troubled 2013.

2014 Filing Season

To end the October government shutdown, Congress passed a stop-gap funding bill to keep the IRS and other federal agencies open through mid-January 2014. Many tax professional groups warned that a government shutdown in January, even for a few days, would result in significant delays in tax return processing and refunds. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 authorizes funding for the federal government for two years.

The start of the 2014 filing season, however, will be slightly delayed because of the October shutdown. The IRS needs additional time to reprogram its return processing systems. The original start date of the 2014 filing season was January 21, 2014. In December, the IRS announced that the 2014 filing season will start on January 31. The IRS will not process any returns (electronic or paper) before January 31, 2014.

Most business filers can begin filing 2013 returns on January 13, the IRS reported. These include filers of Forms 1120, U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return; 1120S, U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation; and 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income. However, the January 13 start date does not apply to business owners that report their incomes on Form 1040. They must wait until January 31.

Tax Legislation

Many tax reform proposals were introduced in Congress in 2013 but lawmakers deferred action until 2014. The leaders of the House and Senate tax writing committees have both said they want to move tax reform legislation in 2014 but the extent of any reform—and overall enthusiasm in Congress for reform—is unclear. Some lawmakers want a complete overhaul of the Tax Code (the last major tax reform was in 1986); others want to a more piece-meal approach. Lawmakers are also divided over whether reform should be revenue neutral or if reform should raise new revenues.

There had been some expectation that the budget agreement would include tax provisions, especially the so-called tax extenders. These are popular but temporary incentives, such as the higher education tuition deduction, state and local sales tax deduction, transit benefits parity, teacher’s classroom expense deduction, research tax credit, and more. The budget agreement negotiators decided not to include the extenders, which have now expired. Congress is likely to extend the incentives retroactive to January 1, 2014. If you have any questions about the status of an extender, please contact our office.

Looking ahead, President Obama is expected in his State of the Union Address in January and FY 2015 budget proposals to again call for a reduction in the corporate tax rate in exchange for eliminating some business tax incentives. The President made the same proposal last year but it failed to gain traction in Congress. The President is also likely to urge Congress to renew tax incentives that encourage employers to hire military veterans and individuals from economically-disadvantaged groups, consolidate some taxpayer penalties, extend enhanced small business expensing (and possibly bonus depreciation) and more. Our office will share details of the President’s proposals as they are released.

New IRS Commissioner

In May—after news broke of the IRS selecting applications from conservative groups for tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny—President Obama appointed Daniel Werfel to serve as Acting Commissioner. The President instructed Werfel to launch a top-down review of the agency. Since May, several senior IRS executives resigned or retired and Werfel appointed new top managers. Werfel also instituted cost-saving measures, such as eliminating employee conferences, curbing employee travel and not paying bonuses. Werfel, however, was never intended to serve permanently at the IRS and President Obama nominated John Koskinen to be Commissioner. The Senate approved Koskinen’s nomination in December.

Koskinen comes to the IRS after serving as the non-executive chair of Freddie Mac from 2008 to 2011. Previously, Koskinen was deputy mayor ofWashington,D.C.and also was a senior manager at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). At his confirmation hearing, Senate Finance Committee (SFC) Chair Max Baucus, D-Montana, called Koskinen "the type of leader we need at the IRS." SFC Ranking Member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, reminded Koskinen that he has a "difficult job ahead" and "it is vital that the IRS maintain its credibility with taxpayers." Koskinen told lawmakers that "trust is the most important asset the IRS has."

Higher-Income Taxpayers Brace For Higher Tax Bill With 2013 Returns


Many higher-income taxpayers will be in for a big surprise when they finally tally up their 2013 tax bill before April 15th. The higher amount of taxes that may be owed will be the result of the combination of several factors, the cumulative effect of which will be significant for many. These factors include a higher income tax rate, a higher capital gains rate, a new net investment income tax, and a new Medicare surcharge on earned income, as well as a significantly reduced benefit from personal exemptions and itemized deductions for those in the higher income tax brackets.

Higher top income tax rate

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 made permanent for 2013 and beyond the lower Bush-era income tax rates for all, except for taxpayers with taxable income above $400,000 ($450,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly, $425,000 for heads of households). Income above these levels has now been taxed at a 39.6 percent rate rather than at the top 35 percent rate since January 1, 2013. Those amounts are adjusted for inflation after 2013 (for 2014, those threshold levels are $432,200, $457,600, and $406,750, respectively. Taxpayers with $150,000 of income above the threshold amounts, for example, must pay an additional $6,900 in tax in 2013 because of the additional tax rate of 4.6 percent).

Capital gains and dividends

The American Taxpayer Relief Act also raised the top rate for long-term capital gains and dividends to 20 percent, up from the Bush-era maximum 15 percent rate—again, applicable to all net long-term capital gains from transactions made on or after January 1, 2013. That top rate will apply to the extent that a taxpayer's income exceeds the thresholds set for the 39.6 percent rate ($400,000 for single filers; $450,000 for joint filers and $425,000 for heads of households). Especially applicable to those investors who have been riding the recent stock market rally, a jump in the rate from 15 percent to 20 percent represents a 33.33 percent tax increase.

Medicare Taxes

Set into motion on January 1, 2013 by the Affordable Care Act of 2010, higher-income taxpayers have been required to pay an additional 3.8 percent on net investment income as well as a 0.9 percent Additional Medicare Tax on earned income.

In both cases, the income threshold levels for being subject to these new taxes are considerably lower than the 39.6 percent bracket and 20 percent capital gain rates. The threshold amount is $200,000 in the case of a single individual, head of household (with qualifying person) and qualifying widow(er) with dependent child. The threshold amount is $250,000 in the case of a married couple filing jointly and $125,000 in the case of a married couple filing separately. For the 3.8 percent net investment income tax, the threshold is adjusted gross income (modified for certain foreign-based income). For the 0.9 percent Additional Medicare Tax, the threshold is measured against compensation earned for the year (including self-employment income):

Net investment income tax. The 3.8 percent tax not only covers capital gains and dividends, but also passive-type income flowing from real estate, investments in businesses, and the like. The rules are complex, and many taxpayers will struggle with the extent to which income on their 2013 tax returns will be subject to the new net investment income tax. For income subject to this tax, the effective rate will increase to 23.8 percent on net capital gain and dividends and 43.4 percent on short-term capital gain and all other passive-type income.

Additional Medicare Tax. For tax years beginning after December 31, 2012, the 0.9 percent Additional Medicare Tax applies to employee compensation and self-employment income above the threshold amounts noted above. Covered wages for purposes of the Additional Medicare Tax include not only regular salary or payments for services rendered to someone self-employed, but also tips, commissions that are part of compensation, bonuses, reimbursements under nonaccountable plans, back pay awards, gifts by employers to employees and more.

An employer's withholding obligation for the Additional Medicare Tax applies only to the extent the employee's wages are in excess of $200,000 in a calendar year. For some dual-income couples with combined earned income above the $250,000 threshold but with no one earning more than $200,000, they may find themselves under withheld and subject to an estimated tax penalty as a result. Couples should remember that to prevent a reoccurrence in the future, an employee may request additional income tax withholding, which will be applied against all taxes shown on the individual's return, including any liability for the Additional Medical Tax.

Itemized Deductions Limitation

The American Taxpayer Relief Act officially the "Pease" limitation on itemized deductions. The new thresholds, first applied in 2013, are $300,000 for married couples and surviving spouses; $275,000 for heads of households; $250,000 for unmarried taxpayers; and $150,000 for married taxpayers filing separately.

The Pease limitation reduces the total amount of a higher-income taxpayer's otherwise allowable itemized deductions by three percent of the amount by which the taxpayer's adjusted gross income exceeds this applicable threshold. The amount of itemized deductions may be reduced up to 80 percent under this formula. Certain items, such as medical expenses, investment interest, and casualty, theft or wagering losses, are excluded.

Personal Exemption Phaseout

The American Taxpayer Relief Act also revived the personal exemption phaseout rules, at the same levels of adjusted gross income revived for the Pease limitation. Under the phaseout, the total amount of exemptions that may be claimed by a taxpayer is reduced by two percent for each $2,500, or portion thereof (two percent for each $1,250 for married couples filing separate returns) by which the taxpayer's adjusted gross income exceeds the applicable threshold level. At the full phase out level, therefore, a family with four personal exemptions in 2013 will lose $15,600 in exemptions, creating $6,178 in additional tax at the 39.6 percent bracket.

Federal Estate and Gift Taxes

One bright spot for higher-income taxpayers is the change that took place starting in 2013 directly applicable to estate planning strategies. The American Taxpayer Relief Act permanently provided for a maximum federal estate tax rate of 40 percent with an annual inflation-adjusted $5 million exclusion for estates of decedents dying after December 31, 2012. Couples can combine exclusions and effectively exempt $10 million from estate tax (for 2013, the inflation-adjusted level is $10.5 million, rising to $10.68 million in 2014).

If you would like a further assessment of how the new, "higher-income taxes" will impact what you owe for 2013 this coming April 15, or if you would like to start now to implement a plan to minimize these taxes in 2014, please do not hesitate to contact me at 714-619-0667 here in the office.
 


 

   

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As always you can call me at 714-619-0667 if you have any questions about investing, retirement or any other tax & accounting related issues. 

 

Regards, Monica Rebella, CPA/IAR

President, Rebella Accountancy

 
Disclaimer:  The opinions contained herein are not intended to be investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any securities. With any investment you should carefully consider the investment objectives, potential risks, management fees, and charges and expenses before investing.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. The investment return and principle value of any investment will fluctuate so that an investor's shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost.

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Monica Rebella, CPA/IAR | President - Rebella Accountancy | Certified Public Accountants
507 E. First Street, Suite A | Tustin, CA 92780 | Phone: 714-619-0667 | Fax: 714-544-0236
Email: mrebella@rebellacpa.com | www.RebellaCPA.com | www.MyDentalCPA.com