Saturday, August 5, 2017

On This Day...Lincoln Imposes First Federal Income Tax

On this day in 1861, Lincoln imposes the first federal income tax by signing the Revenue Act. Strapped for cash with which to pursue the Civil War, Lincoln and Congress agreed to impose a 3 percent tax on annual incomes over $800.

As early as March 1861, Lincoln had begun to take stock of the federal government’s ability to wage war against the South. He sent letters to cabinet members Edward Bates, Gideon Welles and Salmon Chase requesting their opinions as to whether or not the president had the constitutional authority to “collect [such] duties.” According to documents housed and interpreted by the Library of Congress, Lincoln was particularly concerned about maintaining federal authority over collecting revenue from ports along the southeastern seaboard, which he worried, might fall under the control of the Confederacy.

The Revenue Act’s language was broadly written to define income as gain “derived from any kind of property, or from any professional trade, employment, or vocation carried on in the United States or elsewhere or from any source whatever.” According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the comparable minimum taxable income in 2003, after adjustments for inflation, would have been approximately $16,000.

Congress repealed Lincoln’s tax law in 1871, but in 1909 passed the 16th Amendment, which set in place the federal income-tax system used today. Congress ratified the 16th Amendment in 1913.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Check Withholding Now to Avoid Surprises at Tax Time

The federal income tax is a pay-as-you-go system. Employers generally withhold tax from workers’ wages. Taxpayers also often have taxes withheld from certain other income including pensions, bonuses, commissions and gambling winnings.

People who do not pay tax through withholding, like the self-employed, generally pay estimated tax. In addition, those who earn income such as dividends, interest, capital gains, rent and royalties are usually required to make estimated tax payments.

Each year, because of life events like changes to household income or family size, some people get a larger refund than they expect while others find they owe more tax.

To prevent a tax-time surprise, the IRS offers these tips:

  • New Job. When starting a new job, an employee must fill out a Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. Employers use this form to calculate how much federal income tax to withhold from regular pay, bonuses, commissions and vacation allowances. The IRS Withholding Calculator tool on IRS.gov is easy for taxpayers to use to figure how much tax to withhold to avoid surprises.
  • Estimated Tax. People who have income not subject to withholding may need to pay estimated tax. Those expecting to owe $1,000 or more than taxes withheld from their wages may also need to make estimated tax payments to avoid penalties. The worksheet in Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, helps to figure the tax.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Before Your Kids Go Off To College, Get These Legal Documents In Place

For college-bound freshmen and their parents, this is an exciting summer, full of anticipation. The kids are becoming adults, and are ready and eager to take responsibility for their own lives.

Amid all this excitement, it is easy for parents to forget that they are no longer the natural legal guardians of their college-age children, and so they are no longer authorized to make personal, medical or financial decisions for them.   At age eighteen, your children become adults in the eyes of the law.

Consider every parent’s nightmare.  You get a long-distance phone call from your child’s college saying your son or daughter has a critical illness or has been in a serious accident.  Then your nightmare gets even worse.  You phone the hospital, only to be told that federal law prohibits disclosure of any confidential information about your son or daughter’s medical condition, even though you are their parent.

You hop on a plane, perhaps assuming that you can take control of the situation when you arrive.  Instead, the hospital still won’t talk to you, and you are told that you cannot make important personal or medical decisions for your unconscious child.  Instead, you will have to go to court to begin the long and expensive process of being named your child’s guardian and conservator.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th of July from NFS

We remain the land of the free because we are the home of the brave.

As we celebrate Independence Day, take a moment to remember those who fought for our freedoms and gave their all for you and me.

We truly appreciate your business.


Monday, March 20, 2017

What is FICA?




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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

How Do I? Establish a profit motive for business activities

The IRS has rules that limit the deductibility of expenses and losses from a hobby or activity not engaged in for profit. If the IRS determines that an activity is not profit-driven, deductions from the activity are limited to the amount of income the activity generates. Losses from such activities cannot be used to offset other income, such as salary or investments.

In being able to deduct a net loss from a business --whether it is a business that normally has ups and downs or one in which the unexpected might occur-- you must be prepared to show that an activity that generates deductions is a business from which you intend to profit. It is not necessary that the activity actually earns a profit, so long as a profit is one of the motives for participating in the activity.

The IRS assumes that an activity is carried on for profit if it makes a profit during at least three of the last five tax years, including the current year, or at least two of the last seven years for activities that consist primarily of breeding, showing, training or racing horses. Otherwise, the IRS applies non-exclusive tests and factors to the surrounding facts to judge whether activities are more like a business with a profit motive, or are for personal satisfaction. Under IRS rules and judicial precedent, the following nine factors are considered in determining whether an activity is engaged in for profit:

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

IRS Tax Scams 2017: FAQs

During tax season, taxpayers are reminded to be on the lookout for an array of evolving tax scams related to identity theft and refund fraud. Every year scam artists look for new ways to trick taxpayers out of their hard-earned money, sensitive financial information or even access to their computers. It seems that no matter how careful you are there's always a possibility that identity thieves could steal your personal information and try to cash in by filing fraudulent tax returns in your name.

Here's what you need to know this year:

Which tax scams should I be on the lookout for this tax season?

This tax season some of the most prevalent IRS-impersonation scams include:

Requesting fake tax payments: The IRS has seen automated calls where scammers leave urgent callback requests telling taxpayers to call back to settle their "tax bill." These fake calls generally claim to be the last warning before legal action is taken. Taxpayers may also receive live calls from IRS impersonators. They may demand payments on prepaid debit cards, iTunes and other gift cards or wire transfer. The IRS reminds taxpayers that any request to settle a tax bill using any of these payment methods is a clear indication of a scam.

Targeting students and parents and demanding payment for a fake "Federal Student Tax": Telephone scammers are targeting students and parents demanding payments for fictitious taxes, such as the "Federal Student Tax." If the person does not comply, the scammer becomes aggressive and threatens to report the student to the police to be arrested.

Sending a fraudulent IRS bill for tax year 2015 related to the Affordable Care Act: The IRS has received numerous reports around the country of scammers sending a fraudulent version of CP2000 notices for tax year 2015. Generally, the scam involves an email or letter that includes the fake CP2000. The fraudulent notice includes a payment request that taxpayers mail a check made out to "I.R.S." to the "Austin Processing Center" at a Post Office Box address.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Five Ways to Improve your Financial Situation

If you are having trouble paying your debts, it is important to take action sooner rather than later. Doing nothing leads to much larger problems in the future, whether it's a bad credit record or bankruptcy resulting in the loss of assets and even your home. If you're in financial trouble, then here are some steps to take to avoid financial ruin in the future.

If you've accumulated a large amount of debt and are having difficulty paying your bills each month, now is the time to take action--before the bill collectors start calling.

  1. Review each debt. Make sure that the debt creditors claim you owe is really what you owe and that the amount is correct. If you dispute a debt, first contact the creditor directly to resolve your questions. If you still have questions about the debt, contact your state or local consumer protection office or, in cases of serious creditor abuse, your state Attorney General.
  2. Contact your creditors. Let your creditors know you are having difficulty making your payments. Tell them why you are having trouble, perhaps it is because you recently lost your job or have unexpected medical bills. Try to work out an acceptable payment schedule with your creditors. Most are willing to work with you and will appreciate your honesty and forthrightness. Tip: Most automobile financing agreements permit your creditor to repossess your car any time you are in default, with no advance notice. If your car is repossessed you may have to pay the full balance due on the loan, as well as towing and storage costs, to get it back. Do not wait until you are in default. Try to solve the problem with your creditor when you realize you will not be able to meet your payments. It may be better to sell the car yourself and pay off your debt than to incur the added costs of repossession.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Six Reasons to E-file your Taxes in 2017

Are you one of the few tax filers who still file a paper return? If so, now may be the best time to
switch to e-file. Last year almost 150 million taxpayers filed their taxes electronically. They chose to e-file because it’s the fastest and safest way to file.

Here are the top six reasons why you should file electronically in 2017:

  1. Accurate and Easy. IRS e-file is the best way to file an accurate tax return. The tax software helps you avoid mistakes by doing the math for you. It guides you through each section of your tax return. It is much easier than doing your taxes by hand and mailing paper tax forms.
  2. Safe and Secure. IRS e-file meets strict security guidelines. It uses modern encryption technology to protect tax returns. The IRS has processed more than 1.5 billion e-filed tax returns to date. This year, the IRS is working with states and tax industry leaders to protect your tax return from identity theft refund fraud. This new effort has put strong new safeguards in place to make tax filing safer than ever before.
  3. Convenient and Often Free. You can ask your tax preparer to e-file your tax return. Most paid preparers are required to file their clients’ returns electronically.
  4. Faster Refunds. In most cases, e-file helps get your refund faster. That’s because there is nothing to mail and your tax return is virtually mistake-free. The fastest way to get your refund is to combine e-file with direct deposit into your bank account. The IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days.
  5. Health Care Tax Reporting. IRS e-file can help with tax provisions of the health care law. The software will walk you through the lines on the tax forms that relate to the Affordable Care Act.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Tax Filing Season is Here! Free Organizers & Discounts from NFS!

WRENTHAM, MA - Tax Season is HERE!! Some people hire a tax professional and some people choose to do it themselves - either way - NFS has an option for you!!

No matter where in the world you are, NFS can help you to prepare your US Federal and State Income Tax Returns. In person, by mail or email, we are here to help! With pricing less than most national chains, we can prepare your taxes and maximize your refund or minimize your balance due if you are one of those folks who has to pay.

All new clients receive a $30 DISCOUNT (Coupon Below) and existing clients should inquire about other discounts that may be available to them. NFS also offers free Income Tax Organizers for you to save time & money!

For those deciding to do it themselves, we offer an option to prepare your own returns directly from our Do It Yourself Online Tax Prep Website with FREE (1040EZ) & Affordable options & in most cases less than the "Boxed Software" or other popular online tax prep websites!!

Do-It-Yourself Tax Filing

If you have any questions or want to set up an appointment, feel free to drop me an email jeff@nfsnet.com or give me a call toll free at 800-560-4NFS x 14.


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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

2017 Tax Filing Season Now Open

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service said this week that it successfully started accepting and processing 2016 federal individual income tax returns on schedule. More than 153 million returns are expected to be filed this year.

People have until Tuesday, April 18, 2017 to file their 2016 returns and pay any taxes due. The deadline is later this year due to several factors. The usual April 15 deadline falls on Saturday this year, which would normally give taxpayers until at least the following Monday. However, Emancipation Day, a D.C. holiday, is observed on Monday, April 17, giving taxpayers nationwide an additional day to file. By law, D.C. holidays impact tax deadlines for everyone in the same way federal holidays do. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Monday, Oct. 16, 2017 to file.

"Following months of hard work, we successfully opened our processing systems today to start this year’s tax season,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Getting to this point is a year-round effort for the IRS and the nation’s tax community. The dedicated employees of the IRS look forward to serving taxpayers this filing season, and I want to thank all of the tax and payroll community for their hard work that makes tax time smoother for the nation.”

The IRS expects more than 70 percent of taxpayers to get tax refunds this year. Last year, 111 million refunds were issued, with an average refund of $2,860.

Refund Delays

A law change now requires the IRS to hold refunds on tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until Feb. 15. Under this change required by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, the IRS must hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC. Even though the IRS will begin releasing EITC and ACTC refunds on Feb. 15, many early filers will still not have actual access to their refunds until the week of Feb. 27. The additional delay is due to several factors, including weekends, the Presidents Day holiday and the time banks often need to process direct deposits.

Friday, January 6, 2017

IRS Sets Rules for 1099's

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires you to report certain payments you make as part of your business (including rental properties) to both the payee and IRS.  There are new tax law changes regarding 1099-MISC forms that we felt you needed to be made aware of.

If you paid anyone $600 or more during 2016, you and/or your business may need to issue Form 1099-MISC to the individuals or businesses that you paid.  This memo will explain your requirements and the penalties for not following the new regulations.  We will also explain the costs to engage Northeast Financial Strategies Inc. to prepare these forms for you.

When is a 1099-MISC Required?

You are required to report on Form 1099-MISC when payments are made in the course of your trade or business.  This business can be from general business, farming, rentals or any trade or business in which you own with intent to operate for gain or profit.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

IRS Standard Mileage Rates Starting January 1, 2017

Instead of using the business portion of the actual expenses of operating a vehicle, IRS permits taxpayers to use a standard mileage rate.  The rates have now been released for travel on or after January 1, 2017.

Business rate is 53.5 cents per mile (down from 54 for 2016).  The depreciation portion of this rate is 25 cents per mile (up from 24 for 2016).

Charitable rate is 14 cents per mile and is set by Congress therefore will not change until Congress makes such a change.

Medical and moving rate is 17 cents per mile (down from 19 for 2016).

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year from NFS





Here's to a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other."
-Abraham Lincoln