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Articles Tagged with IRS

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Improvements to tax law and reducing taxes are a very popular item on most politicians’ platforms. You won’t find anyone who openly says people should pay more. At least, not anyone currently serving in office.

They’re right, by the way – our tax code is far too cumbersome and it changes constantly. (And no, I’m not running for office.)

President Trump has indicated he wants to reform the tax code and change the way people pay taxes. Lawmakers are reportedly discussing how to do that while paying for expensive new initiatives. How can you do it all?

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By Nathan Vinson, attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

This time of year is nice, isn’t it? It’s warm and pleasant out, and maybe a little bit more laid back at work. Tax time is behind you (yes!) and it’s not time to think about next year’s taxes.

OR IS IT?

Well, we hate to break it to you, but yeah, it is time to think about it NOW. It’s July. More than half of the year is gone. If you haven’t set up a good filing system for your receipts and other tax-related information, you need to – and soon. If you’ve got a giant pile of paperwork and receipts, hey, you’re not alone – but don’t let this linger.

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By Nathan Vinson

elderly womanBetween our phones and our e-mail, everyone in America (and likely around the world) is hit with scams every day. We’re promised millions by the wife of a dead African dictator, or told that the caller is from the IRS and needs payment of back taxes immediately. Door-to-door sales people tell us there is something wrong with our roof. Insurance flyers attempt to scare us into thinking that something horrible will happen if we don’t buy their insurance.

Most of us brush this stuff off without a thought. We hang up on the scammers, delete those spam e-mails and move on. But for the elderly, it’s hard to tell the difference between a genuine offer that needs our attention and fraud.

While we all fear looking stupid or gullible, what’s truly frightening for an elderly person is the prospect of looking dumb in front of someone we love and trust. Asking for help as you get older is difficult. Scammers know this – and push the elderly into it by insisting their offer is for a limited time or that dire consequences can result if they don’t act right now.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

gambling taxes

We’ve written previously about gambling taxes, highlighting this issue mainly because of the affection Kentucky has for horse racing. And as you well know, we’re in the midst of horse racing season. Keeneland had its spring meet, and Churchill Downs is now open for the season, with the Kentucky Derby set for May 7. This will be followed by the Preakness in Baltimore and the Belmont Stakes in New York, and the Breeder’s Cup in November in California.

Lots of us love to put a little dough (or a lot!) down on a horse at the track. There was some talk earlier this year of lowering the threshold at which tracks were required to report winnings to the IRS, but that never moved forward, so far as we can tell.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

We’ve heard more than one report of people getting called by scammers pretending to be the IRS, wanting money for back taxes or claiming that the IRS is going to IRS doorwaysue you. Make no mistake: the IRS will not call you.

This time of year, as many people are working on tax filings, anticipating returns and otherwise crunching numbers, the IRS is top of mind, and the scammers know it.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

If you own a small business, offering health insurance to your employees is likely one of your biggest headaches. There are an incredible number of options for health insurance, including the use of health savings accounts. Some small businesses have never offered it for those reasons, and because the costs of it can send a company’s expenses through the roof.

It’s understandable – and until recently, it was entirely legal. Employees could go elsewhere for insurance, such as through a spouse’s work or purchase it privately. But the Affordable Care Act changed all of that. The Act mandates that businesses offer health insurance to employees and their dependents. The rules were phased in over time (but they’re here now), and it’s only for those businesses that hit certain thresholds. An excellent Associated Press article recently outlined all of the thorny problems for small businesses. You can read that here.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Goodwill receiptAlmost everyone makes charitable donations of some kind, and many of us expect to deduct the value of those donations from our income when our taxes are being prepared. While it’s not a primary motivator for most who give to charity, it certainly helps spur some giving and motivates some to meet charitable obligations prior to the end of the calendar year.

Here are a few tax rules to keep in mind when making charitable donations of property (i.e. noncash donations), as federal tax law and regulations require certain documentation of gifts depending on the value of the gifts.  In tax parlance, these rules are called “substantiation” requirements.

For gifts under $250, minimal documentation is required to claim a tax deduction. While it is generally required that the taxpayer obtain a receipt from the charitable organization, the taxpayer is excused from doing so if getting a receipt is “impractical.”

An example that the tax regulations use is dropping off property (i.e. clothing) at a charity’s unattended drop site (i.e. a Goodwill drop box after store hours).  In that instance, taxpayers are required to retain in their own records (but not submit to the IRS) documentation containing:

  • the name and address of the charity;
  • the date and location of the donation;
  • a description of the property, including its value;
  • the fair market value of the property contributed and the method used to determine the fair market value; and
  • possibly other documentation.

As you can see, it may just be simpler to get the receipt!

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By Nathan Vinson, attorney
English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP

IRS taxes gambling

The IRS is considering changing the way it taxes gambling payouts.

Since 1977, the IRS has required those who won $1,200 or more from slot machines or $1,500 or more from Keno to report and pay taxes on those winnings. We wrote about this rule earlier this year as it pertains to horse racing, a subject near and dear to Kentucky hearts.

After nearly 40 years of this practice, the IRS is considering changing that limit to $600, and casino gaming operators aren’t pleased.

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By Nathan Vinson
Attorney, English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP

Tax season is behind us (ahh, it feels nice to type this…) but it’s never too early to remind folks what to look for in a tax preparer – particularly given the news out of the U.S. Department of Justice earlier this year.

2015-02-02 16.45.14The U.S. Department of Justice banned a Kentucky man from preparing tax returns for life after auditing several of his clients’ returns. He offered a service in which he would go to the home of a client and prepare their tax returns on the spot, but he filed fake deductions, including using his own relatives as dependents on their returns and falsifying letters from churches indicating that people had donated money that they had not. He is banned from preparing taxes for life, and rightly so. The Internal Revenue Service takes incidents like this very seriously and has taken a necessary step to help keep the tax preparation industry free of con artists.

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