Newsletter

Changes

Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch Ch Changes
Don't have to be a richer man.

 

Apparently David Bowie circa 1972 may have had some insight to the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 that will affect every individual and most businesses in the United States.

Without expressing my personal opinion about the timing of the passage of the new law, all tax professionals are scrambling to understand it and searching out more guidance and education in the few short weeks before tax season starts.  I fully expect that there will be Technical Corrections in the coming months that will 'tweak' the areas that are very weak and confusing even to the most seasoned professionals.
We hope to have a firmer understanding of the finer points before we see you, and will have tools to correlate the 2017 return into the new 2018 law.  We ask for your patience during this process and we'd be happy to follow up with you again after April to do more tax planning for your future tax and financial needs.

SAVE THE DATES

Jan 15th
Office open for tax preparation appointments

Jan 29th
E-file is open for live transmission for personal returns

Mar 15th
S-Corporation & Partnership Due Date 

April 1st
Request your Personal Extensions by this date
(Email kathleen@flowercitytax.com or fax to 585-507-4691, deposit required)

April 17th
All Personal, C-Corporation & Fiduciary returns are due. No appointments (drop-offs only) will be taken on the 16th or 17th, since you already had 2 procrastination days!

 

Tech Friendly!

My father is 92, has a flip phone and has never used a computer in his life.  My niece is 11, texts me and sends me 'selfies' and follows her favorite YouTube stars on her iPhone and iPad. The digital age is firmly here to stay and we have to adapt in order to grow.
We have been using our secure Portal for your PDF copies of your returns since 2014, and this year that will be the preferred method of delivering your completed returns.  In addition, we encourage you to upload your documents to us for a Virtual Appointment by myself or any one of our experienced professionals. Our software partner has incorporated e-signature and e-payment into the process of providing a totally remote experience. Of course you can still schedule a face to face appointment, fax or drop off your documents as well.  We will always communicate with you any questions or additional information that might be needed before finalizing your return.   
Along with technology comes additional information safeguards. When your tax return copy is in your portal, you have the ability to provide it to third parties that might need a copy of your return during the year, your financial planner, mortgage broker or college admittance office. We cannot email copies of your tax return to anyone - ever! We also cannot talk to third parties about your return without your written permission on a disclosure form that we would provide you for signature upon request. This is all for your digital protection.
We have also introduced the ability to text our regular phone number 585-663-8210 for an appointment request or general question. Try it out!
Our office is open year round for your convenience and I am available year round for your emails, phone calls or appointments. Remember you will always be “my client” regardless who may prepare your return this season.

Upload to Secure File Pro Portal

(Please DO NOT email sensitive documents! This exposes you to identity theft!)

Upload Now

 

The “Team” in a Nutshell

Valarie Hill: Founder and Enrolled Agent, Season 34
Penny Belknap: Sr. Tax Specialist, Season 15
Brent Schuth: Evening Front-end Manager, Season 15 
Loralee Thompson: Payroll Specialist in our Flower City Payroll Solutions division, Season 13 
Kathleen Fielder: Bookkeeper, Admin Assistant, Sales Tax and  E-File Manager, Season 6
Laura Edwards: Daytime Front-End Manager
Becky Hollenbeck: Tax Specialist, 12 years experience with a national firm
Jenna Gagner: Tax Specialist, 15 years experience with a national firm

The support staff does their absolute best to deliver phone messages, but preparers have someone at their desk most of the time, which takes priority. Your call will be returned at the earliest convenience. Email us for a better response time.

Your Time to Shine!

Many times in past newsletters, I have made certain suggestions to make our time together a more productive experience. Please take a look and ask us if you have any questions.

  • Review the Due Diligence Documents  needed for any of the refundable credits.  
  • Read and sign the Engagement Letter and complete the ACA and Info Update form.
  • Remove all your tax forms from their envelopes and don’t staple things. We scan all documents for verification.
  • “Same as last year” is not a number we can put on your tax return.
  • We prefer to have ‘adult time’. Please make arrangements for your children.
  • Please feel free to drop off, fax or upload your info to us.
  • Be patient if leaving a message for a callback. Many calls are returned in the evening or the following day. 
  • If you’re sick, we will not sit with you.
  • Arrive on time.
  • Be open to sitting with any of our experienced professionals. 
  • Be sure you have received all your information before we file your return. We don't know if you have received all the forms you need, but amendments are subject to hefty additional preparation fees.
  • We offer “no cash up front” options to pay us from your refund, additional fees apply. No postdated checks accepted.
  • By law, we cannot file your return without payment and all signatures. 
  • Extensions at your request are subject to a $50 deposit that will be applied toward your return preparation in that calendar year. Requests must be made in writing via email or fax.
  •  

Visit our Downloads Page

Get the updated documents that you need to bring or send to us.
The BIG list of What to Bring, the Engagement Letter, the Information Update Form and the Drop-Off Information Form are hot off the press!

Downloads Here

 

2018 TCJA Changes

These are general highlights of the new 2018 tax law changes to affect individuals. Most of these expire in 2025, unless extended or rewritten by Congress.  We have much more learning to do regarding this very late passage of sweeping law changes.

SALT is not just a Seasoning

State and Local Tax deductions are your property taxes, your state withholding or estimated payments or your sales tax deductions.  Under the new law, this is limited to $10,000 per return or $5,000 if married separately.

The Standard Deduction

With the large increases in the standard deduction and the limitation of SALT, it will be more difficult to determine if itemizing is advantageous anymore.

Not getting Personal

So you think that big standard is going to result in a windfall, right?  Well... No. As a trade off, they eliminated the personal exemption.  This was the $4,050 per person that you used to subtract from your income. So two parents and three kids = $20,250 deduction is now gone.

Mortgage Interest Deduction

Interest on new mortgages (after Dec 15, 2017) is capped at $750,000 of debt, down from $1 million. Existing mortgages are grandfathered in. Generally this is not an issue for most  taxpayers, but the deduction for home equity interest has been eliminated as well. That's going to hurt.

Push the Boss

Since all employee business expenses are now eliminated, it is time to ask that your out of pocket costs be reimbursed or paid for by the company.  This would include meals, mileage, home office use, cell phone use, uniforms, tools and professional development and licensing.
Also gone for 2018 is casualty and theft loss (unless in a disaster area),moving expenses, other 2% miscellaneous deductions like union dues, investment expenses and hobby expenses.

Give your Kids Credit

The Child Tax Credit, which was $1,000 for every dependent under the age of 17 has been increased to $2,000.  That will lessen some of the blow with losing the exemption, depending on your tax bracket. There is also a 'refundable portion' if your circumstances allow, which went from $1,000 to $1,400 per child. Now for your other dependents that are over 17 (including parents or disabled adults) there is a new $500 credit, which is non-refundable.

Rates and Brackets

Let's throw into the mix that the tax brackets have most all changed, except for the 10% bracket. In general they have gone down a few percent for most middle class taxpayers. The 12% replaced the 15% and 22% replaced 25% for the most part. Those married folks earning more than $400,000 will see a slight increase.

Just Passing-Through

Pass-through income is generally self-employment income from a sole proprietor, partnership or S- Corporation that is taxed on your personal tax return. This new provision will exempt 20% of that income from Federal Income Tax.  So your business has a profit of $50,000.  You can reduce your taxable income by $10,000. This is a very complex area with plenty of limitations and phase-outs, so I'm keeping it pretty simple right here.

Other Bits n Pieces

ACA for 2017

Despite that the TCJA eliminated the penalty for not having health insurance beginning in 2018, the penalty is still in effect for the 2017 filing.  Be sure to bring your 1095 forms that you receive from your employer, insurance company, and/or the Marketplace.

Cryptocurrency

Given the surge of people investing in cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, Etherium and Litecoin, it is time to remind you that these transactions are reportable capital gain or loss transactions.  The IRS has only issued 6 measley pages of guidance in this area back in 2014, and considers Crypto as property, not currency.  If you have had any sales or trades of Crypto, please mention that when you make your appointment so we can put you with a preparer experienced in this area.

Delay

As a measure to stop fraudulent returns and identity theft, returns with certain credits will not be processed until February 15th.  These include claims for the Earned Income Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit. The IRS anticipates refunds for these return types will be issued beginning February 27th.

Expired Provisions in 2016

There are several deductions that expired at the end of 2016 that were not renewed for this tax year.

  • Tuition and Fees Deduction (not the Credit, just the deduction)
  • Residential Energy Credit
  • Mortgage Insurance Premiums (PMI)
  • Plug-In and Alternative Motor Vehicle Credits
  • Forgiveness of Primary Residence Bad Debt

NYS Drivers Licenses Needed

NYS, in an effort to combat fraud, is requiring us to enter both your ID # and Document # (teeny tiny number!) from your license, permit or State issued ID card in order to e-file your return. Please remember to have that information available for both taxpayers. You can take a picture of the front and back if you have a spouse that will not be at the appointment with you.

Payment Options

We have always offered ‘no cash up front’ options of paying your tax preparation fee. Bank Assisted Refund products offered thru Metabank are available as a Visa Card, Direct Deposit or Check. Please be sure to tell your preparer PRIOR to starting your return that you are utilizing this option. Mention the word Fiver at checkout. Of course we still accept payment via cash, check or credit cards at the time of your appointment. We do not extend time payments.


We’re Engaged?

We also require a signed Engagement Letter and Privacy Policy.  Please read the Engagement Letter carefully as it outlines what we both expect of each other in order to have a successful tax preparation experience and relationship.  Please bring a signed copy with you to your appointment, or when you drop off your materials for preparation.


Additional Due Diligence Requirements

As yet another method to crack down on the abuse of valuable tax credits, IRS has mandated additional requirements on paid preparers to ensure that the credits are going to those taxpayers that truly qualify for them.  If you are eligible for Earned Income Credit, Child Tax Credits and American Opportunity (Tuition) Credit, we will be required to document by asking pertinent questions and reviewing proof of residency and dependency documents. This is especially important if you are claiming a child under 17 that does not live with you, is not your biological child, or if you are self-employed.

List of Acceptable Documents:
(Must show name and address where the child resides)

  • School records
  • Medical Records
  • Health Insurance Forms
  • Landlord Statement
  • Day Care Statement
  • Social Services Letter
  • Proof of Disability

For American Opportunity Credit:

  • Form 1098-T (you may have to download this)
  • Billing Statement showing payments, loans, grants

If not your Biological Child:

  • Proof of Relationship
  • Foster Care Placement or Adoption Papers

Make Your Appointment Today!

Text us at 585-663-8210!

Book Online Here

Book online or call / text us at 585-663-8210. We’re open 60 hours a week for your convenience!
*Appointment times may end before closing, to allow for phone calls and processing time.

Monday 9 am - 9 pm
Tuesday 9 am - 9 pm
Wednesday 9 am - 5 pm
Thursday 9 am - 9 pm
Friday 9 am - 5 pm
Saturday 9 am - 3 pm
Sunday - Mental Health Day!

Get your list of "WHAT TO BRING" here.