ELEVATE member and accountant, Kimberly Swank, is here to save the day … and a few dollars or more on your taxes. Here are her Top 10 tax tips and ways to save with deductions.
Swank is also teaching a Quickbooks online class on Friday, Feb. 12 at ELEVATE.
Top 10 Tax tips and deductions
1. Document, Document, Document
a. Envelopes are your friend
b. Receipts – Take Letter sized envelopes and write the month and year on the front , put your receipts in them. Scan receipts in a pdf and make sure it is legible after the month is complete. If you do not want to scan the receipts then store them in a safe place. If you get audited you now have all your receipts. You only need to keep the receipts for the items that are included on the tax return.
c. Tax Documents – get a large 81/2 x 11 manila envelope and place all your tax documents in the envelope when you receive them. Print online tax documents and place in folder. When you have collected all the tax documents hand the envelope to your CPA.
a. When you drop off donated good make sure you get a receipt. You can deduct a fair value of the goods but you need your receipt for back-up. Also mileage to events can be deducted as well.
3. Home Office
a. If you are a small business owner, you may be able to deduct a portion of your utilities, security, trash and snow removal, cleaning, supplies, maintenance and repairs etc.
4. Medical and Dental expenses
a. Travel to the doctors office, You can include most medical and dental costs that you paid for yourself, your spouse and your dependents. Exceptions and special rules apply. Costs reimbursed by insurance or other sources do not qualify for a deduction.
b. This deduction has an AGI threshold – You include all the qualified medical costs that you paid for during the year. However, you can only deduct the amount that is more than 10 percent of your adjusted gross income. If you or your spouse is age 65 or older, the AGI threshold is 7.5 percent of your AGI. This exception applies through Dec. 31, 2016.
c. Expenses that qualify. You can include the costs of diagnosing, treating, easing or preventing disease. The costs you pay for prescription drugs and insulin qualify. The costs you pay for insurance premiums for policies that cover medical care qualify. Some long-term care insurance costs also qualify. For more examples of costs you can and can’t deduct, see IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses. You can get it on IRS.gov/forms anytime.
d. Travel costs count. You may be able to claim travel costs you pay for medical care. This includes costs such as public transportation, ambulance service, tolls and parking fees. If you use your car, you can deduct either the actual costs or the standard mileage rate for medical travel. The rate is 23.5 cents per mile for 2014.
e. No double benefit. You can’t claim a tax deduction for medical expenses you paid for with funds from your Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Arrangements. Amounts paid with funds from those plans are usually tax-free. This rule prevents two tax benefits for the same expense.
5. Health Savings Account (HSA)
a. Contributions to an HSA are tax deductible
b. No income limits for making a contribution like there can be for IRAs.
c. If an individual or family is covered under what is considered a high-deductible health plan by the IRS then contributions up to $3,350 (single) and $6,650 (family) can be made on a tax deductible basis in 2015.
d. Those qualified distributions from the HSA are not taxed, not even the earnings.
6. Retirement Funds
a. You can contribute a maximum of $17,500 ($23,000 if you’re 50 or older) to 401(k) plans and $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re 50 or older) to an IRA for the 2014 tax year. For example, if you earn $60,000 a year and contribute the full $17,500 to your 401(k), your taxable income would drop to $42,500 (excluding other deductions or tax credits).
b. Keeping your finances healthy also could land you a healthy tax deduction. Tax planning and investment expenses can be deducted if you itemize and the costs exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income. Investment expenses could include phone calls to your broker or even subscriptions to financial publications like Forbes and Fortune.
7. Moving Cost
a. If you moved due to a change in your job or business location, or because you started a new job or business, you may be able to deduct your reasonable moving expenses but not any expenses for meals. You can deduct your moving expenses if you meet all three of the following requirements:
b. Your move closely relates to the start of work
c. You meet the distance test- Your new workplace must be at least 50 miles farther from your old home than your old job location was from your old home. If you had no previous workplace, your new job location must be at least 50 miles from your old home.
d. You meet the time test- If you are an employee, you must work full-time for at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months immediately following your arrival in the general area of your new job location. If you are self-employed, you must work full time for at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months and for a total of at least 78 weeks during the first 24 months immediately following your arrival in the general area of your new work location. There are exceptions to the time test in case of death, disability, and involuntary separation, among other things. See Publication 521 for these exceptions.
8. Energy Friendly Systems
a. If you purchased any energy-friendly systems, you may qualify for business energy investment tax credits, which are set to expire at the end of 2016. With the tax credit, you can save up to 30% of the cost of solar, fuel cells, small wind and PTC-eligible technologies or 10% the cost of geothermal, microturbines and combined heat and power (CHP).
b. Also, if you own or rent a commercial space, you can also receive a tax credit for reducing your energy usage under section 179D. If you can reduce energy and power costs by 16⅔ percent, you can deduct $0.60 per square foot of building floor area. If you reduce energy by at least 50 percent, you can deduct as much as $1.80 per square foot.
9. Work related Expenses
a. Educators, including K-12 teachers, teacher aides, instructors or principals, can get an above-the-line tax deduction for materials they buy for use in classrooms. Because it’s an above-the-line deduction, itemizing isn’t required for this deduction.
b. Uniforms and other types of work related expenses can be itemized as deductions.
a. Parents who work and leave their children with a caregiver are eligible for a tax credit to offset the cost of a baby sitter, day care, nursery school or preschool. Limitations on the credit include the age of the child and the percentage of the credit.