What to Do If You Owe Taxes to the IRS

What happens when you file your taxes and discover that you owe money to the IRS? What are your options? What about when the amount owed is greater than you can afford at the moment? Luckily, there are several options for both scenarios.

Before we get into the different options for making payments to the IRS, remember that your payment has to be received by the IRS no later than the April 15th tax deadline, or be prepared for IRS-issued tax penalties and interest. This deadline applies to those who filed for a tax extension as well.

Below are the different payment options available to pay the IRS.

Automatic Withdraw

If you have the funds available when you file, you can have them automatically withdrawn from your bank account when you e-file and choose the e-pay option. This is available whether you use tax preparation software or an accounting professional to do your taxes.

Direct Pay

The IRS has a “Direct Pay” service through its website, where you can pay from your checking or savings account at no cost. In order to track your payment, use the “Look Up a Payment” tool on the website or enable email notifications.

Credit or Debit

The IRS provides three third-party payment processors on its website through which you can pay your balance using a credit or debit card either online or by phone. They do charge a small service fee, which may be tax-deductible, and your credit card company may charge a fee as well.

Check or Money Order

Make checks payable to the United States Treasury and include your social security number or employer identification number, phone number, related tax form or notice number, and the tax year in the memo field. Send your check with a Form 1040-V, which is a payment voucher found on the IRS website, but don’t paperclip or staple your check to the voucher. You’ll find the correct mailing address for your check on page two of Form 1040-V.

Pay in Person

If you want to be absolutely sure that your payment is getting to the IRS on time, you can pay in person at your local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center, which can be located on the IRS website. You will need to schedule an appointment before you go.

Wire Service

Check with your bank to see if they offer same-day wire transfer payable to the IRS. Be sure to ask about cut-off times and fees for this service.

What if you don’t have the full amount now? Luckily, the IRS offers two installment plans – a short-term plan and a long-term plan – which you can apply for online with the Installment Agreement Request (Form 9465). Which plan you qualify for depends on how much you owe and your specific tax situation. There is an application fee, and once approved the IRS can void the agreement if you don’t stay on schedule with payments.

Another option is to request a temporary delay from the IRS. You might have to fill out a Collection Information Statement and provide transparent information on your personal finances, and penalties and interest will factor in until the amount is paid in full.

Finally, you can offer to settle for a smaller amount than what’s owed, but the IRS encourages taxpayers to consider all other options before submitting an offer to settle. If you decide to go this route, you will need to be current on your tax filings and not involved in an open bankruptcy proceeding. To determine if you qualify, the IRS will take into account your income, expenses, ability to pay, and asset equity.

Clarifying the 199A Deduction

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released a new document clarifying the new rules related to section 199A. If you’re unfamiliar with 199A, this section is a part of the tax code that references a new deduction of up to 20 percent of qualified domestic business income (QBI) for pass-through entities such as sole-proprietorships, partnerships, S-corporations, trusts, or estates.  This section is extremely intricate, but the newly released regulations have cleared up many of the questions raised by the original legislation.

Like many of the other provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the rules for 199A are effective for the tax year 2018. This particular deduction will go away unless further action is taken, expiring in 2025. This particular deduction allows business entities to take up to a 20% deduction of QBI. Qualifying for this particular deduction can be tricky as it is only for pass-through entities. Other information about your business (what kind of work you do, wages paid, etc.) may also preclude you from some or all of the deduction.

In order to be deemed a section 162 business that would qualify for the 199A deduction, you must be involved hands-on with the activity of your business on a consistent basis. Typically, if you think you’re running the business, you are most likely involved enough to be qualified. In regards to rental property, this gets a little more complicated. Under Revenue Procedure 2019-7, the IRS claims that rental property is a qualified business if 250 hours or more of rental services are provided for the year and separate books and records are kept for each rental. However, you can’t qualify and lose the deduction if you use the rental for yourself more than two weeks of the year. Matters get even more complicated when the IRS requires you to handle each business (even if operating under the same legal entity) separately with the ability to calculate a QBI for each individual business.

Furthermore, you must know the business owner’s taxable income. If the business owner’s income falls above the thresholds listed below, the next matter is determining whether the business is a specified service trade or business (SSTB).

Business Owner’s Income Thresholds

  • Single
  • 2018: $157,500 – $207,500
  • 2019: $160,700 – $210,700
  • Married Filing Jointly
  • 2018: $315,000 – $415,000
  • 2019: $321,450 – $421,450

Many questions around the 199A deduction that remain unanswered. In the foreseeable future, the 199A deduction will require professional attention as we adapt to the new tax laws. According to the IRS, 95 percent of business owners fall below the threshold amounts and don’t need to worry about the limitations of the deduction. As always, it is crucial to work with tax professionals, such as MKR CPAs, to ensure that your business isn’t missing out on important deductions and properly filing for your business’ needs.

AICPA Extends Comment Deadlines

Two committees of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) – the Professional Ethics Executive Committee (PEEC) and the Accounting and Review Services Committee (ARSC) – have extended deadlines on exposure drafts of proposed revisions of existing requirements for nonattest services and of requirements for compilation services.

Requirements of Nonattest Services
The PEEC has agreed to extend the deadline from August 30, 2012, to November 30, 2012, for comments on an exposure draft dated June 29, 2012, of proposed revisions to Interpretation 101-3, “Nonattest Services.”

The committee is proposing that financial statement preparation and cash-to-accrual conversions performed by a CPA member for a client should be considered nonattest services and subject to the revised requirements.

Under the proposed revisions, the preparer is no longer required to perform a compilation with respect to those statements unless engaged to do so.
The exposure draft also considers the cumulative effect that providing multiple nonattest services can have on independence.

“We have extended the deadline because we want to give people additional time to understand the impact of these changes,” said Ellen Goria, senior technical manager of AICPA’s Professional Ethics Division. “We expect the major impact to be experienced by individuals who are preparing financial statements for attest clients. Their systems and processes may need to be modified so that they can be in compliance. We will be providing additional documents to explain this further,” she said.

Requirements for Compilation Services
The ARSC has extended its deadline for comment on proposed revisions to Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services (SSARS) to November 30, 2012. The proposed revised SSARS are AR section 70, Association with Unaudited Financial Statements, and AR section 80, Compilation of Financial Statements (Revised).

Existing SSARS require the accountant to perform a compilation engagement whenever the accountant prepares and presents financial statements to a client or third parties. Proposed revisions to SSARS would remove the preparation of financial statements from the attest function, the exposure draft says.

The AICPA stated in its announcement that the proposed SSARS would also “revise the objective of the compilation engagement and provide requirements and guidance when an accountant is associated with financial statements that were not subjected to a compilation, review, or audit engagement.”

The Exposure Draft, Association with Unaudited Financial Statements, includes the following requirements if an accountant is requested to be associated with unaudited financial statements.

The accountant should:

  • Read the unaudited financial statements.
  • Consider whether the unaudited financial statements appear free from material inconsistencies with other knowledge or information of which the accountant may be aware.
  • If after performing the procedures in paragraphs 6a and 6b, the accountant decides to permit the use of the accountant’s name in a report, document, or written communication containing the statements, the accountant should request that the entity clearly indicate that the financial statements were not compiled, reviewed, or audited.

The proposed SSARS also addresses the accountant’s responsibilities when engaged to compile financial statements. The proposed revisions state that the objectives of a compilation engagement provide definitions and enumerate specific requirements that apply to compilation engagements.

The ARSC stated in its exposure draft that it “is supportive of proposed revisions of Interpretation 101-3 because it is in harmony with how the 2011 edition of Government Auditing Standards (the Yellow Book) treats the preparation of financial statements. The proposed clarification would also be consistent with the views of many practitioners who believe that the preparation of financial statements is a responsibility of management and an essential part of an entity’s system of internal control.”

343,020 Reasons CPAs Should Talk Up Their Tax Expertise Now

Nearly three years ago, the IRS launched the tax return preparer oversight program and seeds were planted in the landscape of tax return preparation services. Today, those seeds are starting to sprout.

In June, the IRS estimated there are 717,161 PTIN holders, many of which (212,975, or 29.7%) are CPAs, outnumbering Enrolled Agents (42,895) and attorneys (31,189) combined. While CPAs have dominated the regulated tax preparation arena, that landscape is about to change. More and more people are completing the final step to becoming a Registered Tax Return Preparer, or RTRP (they have until 12/31/13 to pass the competency exam). Currently, there are 4,893 RTRPs. That leaves an estimated 338,127 “provisional preparers” who may join the RTRP ranks.

That means more competition is coming and it will influence the public perception of tax return preparers. Unfortunately, the public doesn’t really understand the difference between a CPA and other tax return preparers. We have all seen the advertisements by the big box tax preparation and software chains that inflate the qualifications of their employees. They often compare them to CPAs or perhaps they feature a CPA in the ad, implying that every customer representative will have similar qualifications.

Some believe that RTRPs will leverage their new designation as some form of implied association with or endorsement by the IRS, thus giving them an advantage in the marketplace. While the IRS has put in restrictions on advertising that leverage the RTRP designation (thanks to AICPA advocacy), they cannot possibly enforce them completely. And they can’t police informal or non-commercial promotions. If CPAs wait to counter such marketing efforts, they may find themselves in the same position as a political candidate trying to counteract a negative ad: while the ad may be false, it is hard to change someone’s mind after the fact.

That’s why it is important for CPAs to start telling their stories better, more often and everywhere they can think of. And they need to start now. Clients need to hear messages about the value of a CPA directly from their CPA. They also need to understand how they are more than just a tax return, that their CPA is available year-round and can help them plan for life’s significant milestones such as buying a house, planning for retirement, saving for college and much, much more. If we don’t start tooting our own value horn louder and longer, who will?

When do you need to start building your new value proposition? Yesterday. And how do you do this? Start by developing a value-centric firm culture, then educating your staff on the importance of value based client communications.

The AICPA has developed the Tax Practitioner Toolkit (available free) to help members better define their value and communicate it to current and prospective clients. A Toolkit Implementation Checklist is included, so you can get started right away.

Once your firm masters its story so it is infused in every client contact, networking presentation, or prospective client meeting, it will become part of who you are and what your firm represents for its clients. Once you know your value and live it every day, clients will never have to guess. They’ll automatically know that their CPA is the premier provider of tax services and they would never trust their finances to anyone else.

Personal Financial Plans: Saving for the Future

Many American families are struggling to make ends meet and save for their future needs, according to a report from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board), but those with a financial plan do better and are more confident about meeting their goals.

But only 36 percent of the 1,508 household financial decision makers who participated in the CFA/CFP Board 2012 Household Financial Planning Survey have ever prepared a comprehensive financial plan. Respondents with higher annual incomes and older respondents were more likely than middle-income families to have a financial plan.

Survey responses reflected the effects of the recession that began in 2008. Nearly 38 percent of households said they live paycheck to paycheck. Less than 30 percent indicated they felt comfortable financially, and only 34 percent think they can afford to retire by age 65. The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI).

Regardless of income, decision makers with a financial plan, whether it is one they have prepared on their own or with a professional, are more likely to feel they are on pace to meet all of their financial goals by a margin of 50 percent to 32 percent. By an even larger margin (52 percent to 30 percent), and across all income brackets, families with a financial plan are more likely to feel “very confident” about managing money, savings and investments.

What Is a Comprehensive Financial Plan?
The survey assumes that a comprehensive financial plan will identify a family’s financial goals, and a plan for savings and investments that will help them meet those goals. For most families, those goals will be income in retirement, college education for children, insurance needs, emergencies, and other expenses (e.g., assisting parents). The plan should include paying off credit card debt.

Most Americans have spending plans, the report says, but few have savings plans except for employer-sponsored retirement plans. Many respondents say that they do not earn enough money to save. “Advances in technology have made accessing and analyzing financial information much easier, but a lack of understanding about savings and investment options and how to best manage household finances remains a serious obstacle to Americans’ financial preparedness,” the survey reported.

Comparison with 1997 Survey
The CFA/CFP Board survey utilized a number of questions asked by a 1997 CFA-NationsBank survey, also developed with and administered by PSRAI. This made possible a comparison of consumer attitudes and habits in the more optimistic, low unemployment year of 1997, with attitudes and habits in 2012, in the aftermath of the recent severe recession.

The number of Americans who reported living paycheck to paycheck rose from 31 percent to 38 percent from 1997 to 2012, and the percentage who indicated they felt comfortable financially fell from 38 percent in 1997 to 30 percent in 2012.

Other comparisons include:

  • In 1997, only 38 percent felt [they were] behind in saving for retirement compared to 51 percent this year.
  • In 1997, half (50 percent) said they thought they could retire by age 65 compared to only 34 percent this year.
  • In 1997, more families with college-bound children were saving for higher education (56 percent) compared to this year (48 percent).
  • However, the proportion of those who say they have a retirement investment plan in place is about the same (51 percent in 1997 and 49 percent this year).

Getting Help When Preparing a Financial Plan
The 2012 survey revealed that slightly more than half of respondents said “it’s hard for me to know who to trust for financial advice” (55 percent); “to me, investing seems complicated” (52 percent); and “I’m worried about losing my money if I invest it” (55 percent), a significant increase from the 45 percent who expressed this worry in 1997.

Kevin R. Keller, CEO of CFP Board said, “Consumers understandably are more nervous about investing their money given recent revelations about financial fraud, manipulation, and abuse of clients. This doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t create a financial plan and be prepared. We encourage consumers to do their homework and find a financial professional who always puts the clients’ best interests first and abides by a fiduciary standard of care.”

Both the CFA and CFP Board recommend that consumers begin by assessing their own financial condition and develop a plan. One useful tool is the website LetsMakeaPlan.org, where interested consumers can learn more about preparing a financial plan. The site also lists questions an individual might ask of a financial planner and some red flags.

CFA executive director Stephen Brobeck said that financial planning is an important component of financial literacy. Financial planners need to get the message out.

Full Article: http://www.accountingweb.com/article/personal-financial-plans-saving-future/219569

New Accounting Standards for Pension Costs

The true cost of public employee pensions will become clearer under changes approved June 25 by the accounting standards-setter for state and local governments ? the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).

The GASB has approved two new standards that mark a major departure in the way pension costs are accounted for and described in financial statements today.

The major difference is that liabilities will be reported on the balance sheet for the first time. The net pension liability is the difference between the total pension liability (the present value of projected benefit payments to employees based on their past service) and the assets (mostly investments reported at fair value) set aside to pay current employees, retirees, and beneficiaries. Currently, governments must only report as a liability the difference between the contributions they are required to make to a pension plan in a given year versus what is actually funded.

Many states and municipal governments have not fully funded their pensions. In fact, the gap between the promises states have made for public employees’ retirement benefits and the money they have set aside to pay these bills was at least $1.38 trillion in fiscal year 2010, according to the Pew Center on the States.

Some observers believe the changes will help users of financial statements more clearly see the consequences of future proposed benefit increases.
Note Disclosures and Supplementary Information

Governments must also “comprehensively and comparably” measure the annual costs of pension benefits under the new standards.

The new statements are:
Statement No. 67, Financial Reporting for Pension Plans, which changes the existing guidance for the financial reports of most pension plans. The standard is effective for periods beginning after June 15, 2013.

Statement No. 68, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Pensions, establishes new financial reporting requirements for most governments that provide their employees with pension benefits. Provisions are effective for fiscal years beginning after June 15, 2014.

Early implementation is encouraged for both statements.

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) came out in favor of the new rules. AICPA President and CEO Barry C. Melancon said in a statement, “The new GASB standards will benefit users of these financial statements as well as taxpayers, since state and local governments for the first time will have to report unfunded pension liabilities on their balance sheets providing a clearer view of pension obligations.”

Statements 67 and 68 can be downloaded from the GASB website early August. Bound copies of the statements and a plain-language description of the new requirements also will be available.

Full Article: http://www.accountingweb.com/article/new-accounting-standards-pension-costs/219421