Mandatory Health Insurance Starts This Month—Are You Ready?

Tax Attorneys at Ainer & Fraker, LLP Discuss the Mandatory Health Insurance Requirements of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in 2014.

Beginning in January 2014, everyone, with certain exceptions, is required to have minimum, essential health care insurance. This issue has received a significant amount of press coverage recently, both negative and positive. Regardless of your opinion related to the issue, the mandatory insurance requirement, together with the accompanying penalties for not being insured, premium assistance credits, and insurance subsidies, all begin in 2014. The new marketplace, also called exchanges, where insurance policies can be purchased, have debuted already, but with mixed success. These new provisions are all part of the Affordable Care Act (sometimes referred to as Obamacare) that are being phased in over a number of years.

How this will affect you and your family will depend upon a number of issues:

Already insured If you are already be insured through an employer plan, Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, or a private plan that provides minimal, essential health care, then you will not be subject to any penalties under this new law.

Those exempt from the mandatory insurance requirement The following individuals are exempt from the insurance mandate, and will not be subject to a penalty for being uninsured:

  • Individuals who have a religious exemption
  • Those not lawfully present in the United States
  • Incarcerated individuals
  • Those who cannot afford coverage based on formulas contained in the law
  • Those who have an income below the federal income tax filing threshold
  • Those who are members of Indian tribes
  • Those who were uninsured for short coverage gaps of less than three months
  • Those who have received a hardship waiver from the Secretary of Health and Human Services, who are residing outside of the United States, or who are bona fide residents of any possession of the United States.

Help for those who can’t afford coverage Individuals and families whose household income is between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level will qualify for a varying amount of subsidies to help pay for the insurance in the form of a Premium Assistance Credit. The lower the income, the more substantial the credit, which slowly phases out as the income increases, and is totally eliminated when the income reaches 400% of the poverty level. For those in the lower income levels, the subsidy will usually cover the bulk of the insurance costs.

To qualify for that credit, the insurance must be acquired from an insurance exchange operated by the individual’s or family’s resident state, or by the federal government when the state does not have an exchange. These exchanges have been up and running (more or less) since October 1, 2013, allowing individuals and families to apply for coverage which will become effective as of January 1, 2014.

There has been considerable negative press related to the federal exchange. The federal Internet site has not been functioning efficiently, but the administration says the problems will be corrected so everyone who needs to, can apply. Individuals who reside in states with their own exchange will use their state’s exchange and should not be concerned with the federal exchange. In general, the state-run exchanges seem to be operating smoother than the federal exchange, but some of the state exchanges have also had their problems. Some insurance companies offering insurance through an exchange also offer assistance in signing up through the exchange without going through the website. But be cautious—to be eligible for a subsidy, the insurance must be purchased through an exchange. If you purchase a policy directly from an insurance company without going through an exchange, you won’t be qualified for a subsidy, regardless of your income level.

It is important to note that the subsidy is really a tax credit based upon family income. It can be estimated in advance, and used to reduce the monthly insurance premiums; it can be claimed as a refundable credit on the tax return for the year; or it can be some combination of both. However, it is based upon the current year’s income and must be reconciled on the tax return for the year. If too much was used as a premium subsidy, some portion may need to be repaid. If there is an excess, it is refundable.

If household income is below 100% of the poverty level, the individual or family qualifies for Medicaid.

Penalty for noncompliance The penalty for noncompliance will be the greater of either a flat dollar amount or a percentage of income:

  • For 2014, $95 per uninsured adult ($47.50 for a child), or 1 percent of household income over the income tax filing threshold
  • For 2015, $325 per uninsured adult ($162.50 for a child), or 2 percent of household income over the income tax filing threshold
  • For 2016 and beyond, $695 per uninsured adult ($347.50 for a child), or 2.5 percent of household income over the income tax filing threshold

Flat dollar amounts The flat dollar amount for a family will be capped at 300% of the adult amount. For example, in 2014, the first year for the penalty, the maximum penalty for a family will be $285 (300% of $95). But for 2016, the maximum penalty jumps to $2,085 (300% of $695). The child rate will apply to family members under the age of 18.

Overall penalty cap The overall penalty will be capped at the national average premium for a minimal, essential coverage plan purchased through an exchange. This amount won’t be known until a later date.

Please Contact a Tax Attorney at Ainer & Fraker, LLP if you have any questions as to how the new insurance requirements of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will affect you.

Year-End Tax Planning Options for 2013

Tax Attorneys at Ainer & Fraker, LLP Discuss YearEnd Tax Planning Options for 2013:

Year’s end is rapidly approaching, but there are still some tax-advantaged moves you can make before the New Year. If you itemize deductions, you might prepay the next installment of your property taxes, pay off medical bills, and pay the fourth quarter state-estimated tax payment in advance. You might prepay college tuition to maximize education credits, and purchase business equipment to take advantage of the more beneficial write-offs available in 2013.

Prepay Next Installment of Property Taxes

Usually, property taxes are billed in a fiscal year and can be paid all at once or in multiple installments. If you have been paying the current tax bill in installments and one of those installments is due in 2014, you can pay it before year’s end and take the deduction on your 2013 return instead of on 2014’s return.

Pay State-Estimated Taxes in Advance

If your state has a state income tax, the state income tax paid during the year is deductible as an itemized deduction on your federal tax return. Thefourth quarter estimated installment for 2013 is due on January 15, 2014 for most states. If additional state income tax payments in 2013 can benefit you as an itemized deduction, paying that January installment before year’s end would allow it to be deducted in 2013.

Caution: Taxes are not deductible if you are subject to the alternative minimum tax, and prepaying state income and property taxes might not provide any benefit.  

Pay Off Medical Bills

If you are paying medical expenses on an installment plan, you itemize your deductions, and your medical expenses for 2013 will exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), or 7.5% for tax filers aged 65 and over, it could be beneficial to pay off the balance you owe. You can pay off those medical expenses, even with borrowed funds, before year’s end and increase your deductions for 2013.

 Make Charitable Contributions

The holiday season is historically a time for making charitable contributions to qualified organizations, and if you are itemizing your deductions, the donations you make before the end of 2013 can help to reduce your 2013 tax bite. If you regularly tithe to a house of worship, you might even prepay part of your 2014 commitment and deduct it in 2013. This can be beneficial for those who only marginally itemize their deductions.

Caution: Beginning in 2013, higher income taxpayers will have their itemized deductions phased out, so if you are subject to the phase-out, these planning suggestions may not provide the benefits expected. The income threshold for the phase-out is $300,000 for joint filers, $250,000 for singles, $275,000 for heads of household, and $150,000 for married individuals filing separately.

Prepay College Tuition

If qualified tuition is paid during 2013 for an academic period that begins during the first three months of 2014, the education credit is allowed for those expenses in 2013. Thus, if your higher-education tuition expenses for yourself, your spouse, or your dependents to date for 2013 have not been enough to maximize your education credit for 2013, you might consider prepaying the tuition for the first quarter of 2014.

Purchase Business Equipment

If you have a business, and you anticipate purchasing additional equipment for the business, it may be appropriate to make the purchase(s) before the end of the year to take advantage of the bonus depreciation deduction and/or the Sec 179 expensing deduction. Equipment includes machinery, computer systems, communication systems, office furnishings, etc. Unless extended by Congress, the bonus depreciation will end after 2013, and the maximum Sec 179 deduction will decrease to $25,000 from the current $500,000.

Please Contact a Tax Attorney at Ainer & Fraker, LLP to discuss your YearEnd Tax Planning Options for 2013.

IRS Form 8938 and FBAR – Comparison Chart

International Tax Attorneys at Ainer & Fraker, LLP discuss the Reporting Requirements of IRS Form 8938 and Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR):

According to the IRS, the new IRS Form 8938 filing requirement does not replace or otherwise affect a taxpayer’s obligation to file Form TD F 90-22.1 (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts).

Individuals must file each form for which they meet the relevant reporting threshold.

Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets Form TD F 90-22.1, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR)
Who Must File? Specified individuals, which include U.S citizens, resident aliens, and certain non-resident aliens that have an interest in specified foreign financial assets and meet the reporting threshold U.S. persons, which include U.S. citizens, resident aliens, trusts, estates, and domestic entities that have an interest in foreign financial accounts and meet the reporting threshold
Does the United States include U.S. territories? No Yes, resident aliens of U.S territories and U.S. territory entities are subject to FBAR reporting
Reporting Threshold (Total Value of Assets) $50,000 on the last day of the tax year or $75,000 at any time during the tax year (higher threshold amounts apply to married individuals filing jointly and individuals living abroad) $10,000 at any time during the calendar year
When do you have an interest in an account or asset? If any income, gains, losses, deductions, credits, gross proceeds, or distributions from holding or disposing of the account or asset are or would be required to be reported, included, or otherwise reflected on your income tax return Financial interest: you are the owner of record or holder of legal title; the owner of record or holder of legal title is your agent or representative; you have a sufficient interest in the entity that is the owner of record or holder of legal title.Signature authority: you have authority to control the disposition of the assets in the account by direct communication with the financial institution maintaining the account.See instructions for further details.
What is Reported? Maximum value of specified foreign financial assets, which include financial accounts with foreign financial institutions and certain other foreign non-account investment assets Maximum value of financial accounts maintained by a financial institution physically located in a foreign country
How are maximum account or asset values determined and reported? Fair market value in U.S. dollars in accord with the Form 8938 instructions for each account and asset reportedConvert to U.S. dollars using the end of the taxable year exchange rate and report in U.S. dollars. Use periodic account statements to determine the maximum value in the currency of the account.Convert to U.S. dollars using the end of the calendar year exchange rate and report in U.S. dollars.
When Due? By due date, including extension, if any, for income tax return Received by June 30 (no extensions of time granted)
Where to File? File with income tax return pursuant to instructions for filing the return Mail to:Department of the Treasury
Post Office Box 32621
Detroit, MI 48232-0621For express mail to:

IRS Enterprise Computing Center
ATTN: CTR Operations
Mailroom, 4th Floor
985 Michigan Avenue
Detroit, MI 48226

Certain individuals may file electronically at BSA E-Filing System

Penalties Up to $10,000 for failure to disclose and an additional $10,000 for each 30 days of non-filing after IRS notice of a failure to disclose, for a potential maximum penalty of $60,000; criminal penalties may also apply If non-willful, up to $10,000; if willful, up to the greater of $100,000 or 50 percent of account balances; criminal penalties may also apply

Types of Foreign Assets and Whether They are Reportable

Financial (deposit and custodial) accounts held at foreign financial institutions Yes Yes
Financial account held at a foreign branch of a U.S. financial institution No Yes
Financial account held at a U.S. branch of a foreign financial institution No No
Foreign financial account for which you have signature authority No, unless you otherwise have an interest in the account as described above Yes, subject to exceptions
Foreign stock or securities held in a financial account at a foreign financial institution The account itself is subject to reporting, but the contents of the account do not have to be separately reported The account itself is subject to reporting, but the contents of the account do not have to be separately reported
Foreign stock or securities not held in a financial account Yes No
Foreign partnership interests Yes No
Indirect interests in foreign financial assets through an entity No Yes, if sufficient ownership or beneficial interest (i.e., a greater than 50 percent interest) in the entity. See instructions for further detail.
Foreign mutual funds Yes Yes
Domestic mutual fund investing in foreign stocks and securities No No
Foreign accounts and foreign non-account investment assets held by foreign or domestic grantor trust for which you are the grantor Yes, as to both foreign accounts and foreign non-account investment assets Yes, as to foreign accounts
Foreign-issued life insurance or annuity contract with a cash-value Yes Yes
Foreign hedge funds and foreign private equity funds Yes No
Foreign real estate held directly No No
Foreign real estate held through a foreign entity No, but the foreign entity itself is a specified foreign financial asset and its maximum value includes the value of the real estate No
Foreign currency held directly No No
Precious Metals held directly No No
Personal property, held directly, such as art, antiques, jewelry, cars and other collectibles No No
‘Social Security’- type program benefits provided by a foreign government No No

Does a Solo 401(k) Plan Make Sense for Your Owner-Only Businesses?

Tax Attorneys at Ainer & Fraker, LLP Discuss whether a Solo 401(k) Plan Make Sense for Your Owner-Only Businesses

  • Solo 401(k) plans allow greater income deferral than most other retirement plans.
  • A Solo 401(k) plan suits self-employed and owner-only corporations.
  • The plan needs to be established prior to year’s end.
  • The plan is generally not beneficial if company has employees other than a spouse.

It goes by many names: Solo 401(k), Mini 401(k), and single-participant 401(k). We will use Solo 401(k) in this article to describe probably the best type of pension plan for owner-only businesses. It provides for larger contributions, including a Roth option for a portion of the contribution, and the ability to borrow funds from the plan at reasonable rates. Consequently, Solo 401(k) plans have become more attractive options than SEP-IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, or profit-sharing or money purchase plans. In addition, if the plan permits—and most do—assets from other retirement plans can be rolled over into the Solo 401(k) plan.

Generally, Solo 401(k) plans are a natural fit for two categories of people. The first are those who operate a business as an independent contractor, sole proprietor, or owner-only C or S corporation. The second are those who have dual incomes: they are W-2 wage earners as employees of a company that offers a 401(k) plan, but also have consulting income from corporate directorships or freelance work that requires them to file a Schedule C as a sole proprietor. Since the 401(k) contribution limits apply to each individual for the year and not to the individual plans, the taxpayer who has multiple 401(k) plans needs to make sure that no more than the annual limit is contributed to the total combination of plans.

For 2013, the rules limit employer contribution (profit-sharing contribution) to 25% of compensation. The employee can also make salary deferral contributions up to $17,500. Together, these contributions cannot exceed the lesser of $51,000 or 100% of compensation. In addition, if the employee is aged 50 or over, he or she can make an additional catch-up contribution of $5,500. The business owner in these arrangements is considered to be both an employee and an employer.

Example: Susan Lewis, 49, is the sole employee of an incorporated business. Her earned income is $100,000 in 2013. Under the law, Susan can contribute $25,000 to a SEP-IRA ($100,000 × .25), $14,500 ($11,500 plus 3% of $100,000) to a Simple IRA, or $25,000 to a profit-sharing or money purchase plan. On the other hand, she can contribute $42,500 to a Solo 401(k) plan ($25,000 employer contribution plus $17,500 employee deferral), which is still under the $51,000 maximum for the year. If Susan is 50 or over, she can also make a catch-up contribution of $5,500, increasing her 401(k) contribution total to $48,000.

In some cases, 401(k) plan contributions for an unincorporated business may be slightly lower than the above amounts. For unincorporated businesses, compensation is net profit minus half of self-employment taxes minus employer contributions.

Although single-participant 401(k) plans are limited to the business owner and his or her spouse, business owners should note the added benefits of having his or her spouse as the business’s only other employee. Having the spouse on the payroll allows the business owner to shelter some or all of his or her income by having his or her spouse make an elective deferral to a 401(k) plan in addition to the business making a profit-sharing contribution. Although the spouse and the business would be responsible for their respective shares of employment taxes on the salary, combined employer and employee contributions could be up to the lesser of $51,000 (for 2013) or 100% of compensation. This limit applies separately to the business-owner and the spouse, thus allowing a combined total of up to $102,000 (for 2013). In addition, if aged 50 or over, each individual could defer an additional $5,500 each year.

Potential downside: If a business grows and begins to hire employees, the single-participant 401(k) plan must become a full-blown 401(k) plan subject to other, more stringent rules, including discrimination testing, that can serve to limit contributions by highly paid executives. Many providers recommend that businesses with immediate expansion plans not set up one of the Solo 401(k) arrangements.

Caution: If the business owner has other businesses or is part of a controlled group of corporations, partnerships, proprietorships, or affiliated service groups, the employer aggregation rules may apply and the employees of those other businesses may have to be considered for purposes of meeting qualification and minimum coverage requirements for the Solo 401(k).

If you are considering a Solo 401(k) plan, be aware that the plan must be set up before year’s end.

Please Contact a Tax Attorney at Ainer & Fraker, LLP for additional information about Solo 401(k) plans and how they might fit into your tax strategy and retirement-planning.

Don’t Overlook Form 8594 When Buying or Selling a Business

Tax Attorneys at Ainer & Fraker, LLP Discuss the Use of IRS Form 8594 When Buying or Selling a Business:

Most businesses are made up of different types of assets, and those assets get different treatment for tax purposes. How those items are identified at the time of the sale/purchase can have a significant tax impact on both the buyer and the seller. A seller will, of course, want to designate items into classes that will yield a long-term capital gain on sale and thus provide the best tax result from the sale, whereas the buyer will generally want to designate the purchased items into classes that provide the biggest up-front write-offs.

The IRS generally does not care how the class allocations are made so long as both the buyer and the seller use consistent treatment. That is where IRS Form 8594 comes in. The form allocates the entire purchase/sale price of the business into the various classes of assets; both the buyer and the seller are required to file the form with their tax returns. It is also very important that allocations be spelled out in the sale/purchase agreement and that the treatment between the buyer and seller is consistent.

Generally, assets are divided into the seven categories very briefly described below:

Class I – Cash and Bank Deposits
Class IIActively Traded Personal Property & Certificates of Deposit
Class IIIDebt Instruments
Class IVStock in Trade (Inventory)
Class VFurniture, Fixtures, Vehicles, etc.
Class VIIntangibles (Including Covenant Not to Compete)
Class VIIGoodwill of a Going Concern

A seller would prefer to designate the major portion of the sales price to goodwill and minimize any allocation to furnishings and equipment.

Why, you ask?

Because goodwill is a capital asset, the sale of which for Federal purposes will be taxed at a maximum rate of 20% in 2013, while furnishings and equipment can be taxed as high as 39.6 percent. On the other hand, the buyer would prefer to have as much as possible designated as furnishings and equipment, since they can be expensed or written off over a short period of time (usually 5 or 7 years) as opposed to a 15-year amortized write-off of the goodwill.

Whether you are the buyer or the seller, don’t leave the asset allocations to chance. Negotiate the allocation as part of the sales agreement. If you don’t, you could easily end up with inconsistent treatment and potential adjustments by the IRS.

Please Contact a Tax Attorney at Ainer & Fraker, LLP if you are anticipating a sale or purchase so the transaction can be structured to your best benefit.

VIDEO: Understanding the Medicare Surtax

Tax Attorneys at Ainer & Fraker, LLP Discuss  the Unearned Income Medicare Contribution Tax

As part of the Affordable Care Act (the new health care legislation), a new tax kicks in this year. The official name of this tax is the Unearned Income Medicare Contribution Tax, and even though the name implies it is a contribution, don’t get the idea that it is voluntary or that you can deduct it as a charitable contribution. It is actually a surtax levied on the net investment income of taxpayers in the higher income brackets. And although it is perceived as an additional tax on higher-income taxpayers, it can affect even those who normally don’t have higher income if they have a large income from the sale of real estate, stocks, or other investments.

The surtax is 3.8% on whichever is less: your net investment income or the excess of your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) over a threshold based on your filing status. Net investment income is your investment income reduced by investment expenses; MAGI is your regular AGI increased by income excluded for working out of the country.

The filing status threshold amounts are:

$250,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly and surviving spouses.
$125,000 for married taxpayers filing separately.
$200,000 for single and head-of-household filers.

Example: A single taxpayer has net investment income of $100,000 and MAGI of $220,000. The taxpayer would pay a Medicare contribution tax only on the $20,000 amount by which his MAGI exceeds his threshold amount of $200,000, because that is less than his net investment income of $100,000. Thus, the taxpayer’s Medicare contribution tax would be $760 ($20,000 × 3.8%).

Investment income includes:

Interest, dividends, annuities (but not distributions from IRAs or qualified retirement plans), and royalties,
Rents (other than derived from a trade or business),
Capital gains (other than derived from a trade or business),
Home-sale gain in excess of the allowable home-gain exclusion,
A child’s investment income in excess of the excludable threshold if, when eligible, the parent elects to include the child’s investment income on the parent’s return,
Trade or business income that is a passive activity with respect to the taxpayer, and
Trade or business income with respect to trading financial instruments or commodities.

Planning Note: For surtax purposes, gross income doesn’t include interest on tax-exempt bonds. Thus, one can avoid or reduce the net investment income surtax by investing in tax-exempt bonds.

Investment expenses include:

Investment interest expense,
Investment advisory and brokerage fees,
Expenses related to rental and royalty income, and
State and local income taxes properly allocable to items included in Net Investment Income.

Do you think you will never get hit with this tax because your income is way under the threshold amounts? Don’t be so sure. When you sell your home, the gain is a capital gain, and to the extent that the gain is not excludable using the home-gain exclusion, it will add to your income and possibly push you above the taxation thresholds. And, since capital gains are investment income, you might be in for a surprise. The same holds true for gains from selling stock, a second home, or a rental. So when planning to sell a capital asset, be sure to consider the impact of this new surtax.

The surtax also applies to the undistributed net investment income of trusts and estates, and there are special rules applying to the sale of partnership and Sub-S Corporation interests.

Example: A taxpayer has owned a residential rental property for a number of years, planning to use the rental’s increased value to help fund his retirement. The taxpayer normally has income well below the threshold for this new tax. The taxpayer sells the rental and has a substantial gain. The gain from the rental sale gives the taxpayer a one-time windfall that pushes his income above the threshold for the new tax, and he ends up having to pay the regular capital gains tax plus an additional 3.8% tax on the appreciation that is attributable to the increase in value that occurred over several years.

If this surtax will apply to you in 2013, you may need to increase your income tax withholding or estimated tax payments to cover the additional tax so you can avoid or minimize an underpayment of estimated tax penalty when you file your 2013 return.

Example: A taxpayer has owned a residential rental property for a number of years, planning to use the rental’s increased value to help fund his retirement. The taxpayer normally has income well below the threshold for this new tax. The taxpayer sells the rental and has a substantial gain. The gain from the rental sale gives the taxpayer a one-time windfall that pushes his income above the threshold for the new tax, and he ends up having to pay the regular capital gains tax plus an additional 3.8% tax on the appreciation that is attributable to the increase in value that occurred over several years.

Please Contact a Tax Attorney at Ainer & Fraker, LLP to explore your options to mitigate the impact of the tax.

Strategic Tax Planning for Capital Gains and Losses

Tax Attorneys at Ainer & Fraker, LLP Discuss the Strategic Tax Planning Options for Capital Gains and Losses.

Year-end has historically been a good time to plan tax savings by carefully structuring capital gains and losses.  Conventional wisdom has always been to minimize gains by selling “losers” to offset gains from “winners,” and where possible, generate the maximum allowable $3,000 capital loss for the year.

Long-term capital losses offset long-term capital gains before they offset short-term capital gains. Similarly, short-term capital losses offset short-term capital gains before they offset long-term capital gains. (“Long-term” means that the stock or property has been held over one year.) Keep in mind that taxpayers may use up to $3,000 of total capital losses in excess of total capital gains as a deduction against ordinary income in computing adjusted gross income or AGI.  Individuals are subject to federal income tax at a rate as high as 39.6% on short-term capital gains and ordinary income. But long-term capital gains are generally taxed at a maximum rate of 15% or 20%.

All of this means that having long-term capital losses offset long-term capital gains should be avoided where possible, since those losses will be more valuable if they are used to offset short-term capital gains or ordinary income. Avoiding this requires making sure that the long-term capital losses are not taken in the same year as the long-term capital gains. However, this is not just a tax issue; investment factors also need to be considered. It would not be wise to defer recognizing gain until the following year if there is too much risk that the property’s value will decline before it can be sold. Similarly, one wouldn’t want to risk increasing a loss on property that is expected to continue declining in value by deferring its sale until the following year.

To the extent that taking long-term capital losses in a different year than long-term capital gains is consistent with good investment planning, a taxpayer should take steps to prevent those losses from offsetting those gains.

  • Increased Capital Gains Rates – The special long-term capital gains rates that have been in effect since 2003 are revised as of 2013and for future years without Congressional tinkering. The capital gains rates are now 0% to the extent your marginal tax rate is 10% or 15% and 15% to the extent your marginal rate is between 25% and 35%. This means that the 15% capital gains rate will apply for individuals who file the single status with taxable income in 2013 between $36,251 and $400,000. The 15% capital gains rate for married couples filing jointly will be in effect if their 2013 taxable income is between $72,501 and $450,000. For higher income taxpayers – those in the 39.6% tax bracket – the capital gains rate increases to 20%.

    Individuals with large long-term capital gains in their investment portfolios might consider taking a profit up to the amount that would be taxed at 0%. The good news here is that the wash sale rules do not apply to assets sold at a gain. So if you like a stock, you are free to buy it back right away. If your state doesn’t have a lower tax rate on capital gains, then the additional state tax you’d pay from selling profitable capital assets will need to be weighed against the federal tax you’d potentially save when deciding whether to make tax sales before year-end.

  • Increased Marginal Tax Rates – Beginning in 2013 the marginal rates are 10, 15, 25, 28, 33, 35 and 39.6 percent (up from 10, 15, 25, 28, 33 and 35 percent). These rates apply to “ordinary” income including short-term capital gains.

    Conventional wisdom has always been to defer income, but depending upon your tax bracket and future income you anticipate, it may be appropriate to consider accelerating income to take advantage of a lower tax rate.

It may be in your best interest to review youy current year tax strategy with an eye to the future to maximize your benefits from gains or losses associated with capital assets.

Please Contact a Tax Attorney at Ainer & Fraker, LLP to discuss Strategic Tax Planning options for Capital Gains and Losses.

Tax Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums

Tax Attorneys at Ainer & Fraker, LLP Discuss the Tax Credit for Small Business Employer Health Insurance Premiums:

The tax law provides a credit for small business employers in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 that pay the health insurance premiums for their low- to moderate-income workers. This refundable credit can be as much as 35% of the insurance premiums paid by the employer.

To qualify for the credit, the employer can’t have more than 25 full-time equivalent employees, and the average wage of the employees cannot exceed $50,000 for the year. The 25 full-time equivalent employee limit is computed by taking into account both full-time and part-time employees for the year using a formula.

To see if your firm may qualify for the credit, complete the two worksheets below – the results at lines 6 and 9 will tell you if your firm is under the maximum full-time equivalent employee and average wage limitations.

Determine the Number of Full-Time Equivalent Employees:

1. Enter the number of employees who worked 2,080 hours or more during the year:

2. Multiply line 1 by 2,080:

3. Enter the total hours worked by all employees who worked less than 2,080 hours during the year:

4. Enter the total of lines 2 and 3:

5. Divide the result on line 4 by 2,080:

6. Number of full-time equivalent employees (round line 5 down to the next whole number, unless the number is less than one, in which case enter 1:
If line 6 is greater than 25, stop – your firm does not qualify for this credit.

Determine the Average Annual Wage:

7. Enter the total of all wages paid to employees during the tax year:

8. Divide line 7 by the number of full-time equivalent employees (line 6):

9. Average annual wage (round amount from line 8 down to the next whole $1,000):
If the amount on line 9 is $50,000 or less, you may qualify for the credit. Besides meeting the limits of lines 6 and 9, to qualify for the credit an employer has to contribute at least 50% of the premiums for the employees’ health insurance coverage on a uniform basis. However, for tax years beginning in 2010 only, an employer can meet this requirement even if it pays differing percentages of different employees’ premiums as long as all employer payments are at least 50% of each employee’s premium based on single (employee-only) coverage.

The amount of the credit gradually phases out if the number of full-time equivalent employees exceeds ten or if the average annual wage of the employees exceeds $25,000. Under the phase-out, the full amount of the credit is available only to an employer with ten or fewer full-time equivalent employees and whose employees have average annual wages of less than $25,000.

Please Contact a Tax Attorney at Ainer & Fraker, LLP if you have questions related to this credit or determining whether your firm can benefit from claiming the credit.

Taxation of Dual-Status Aliens

International Tax Attorneys Ainer & Fraker, LLP (800) 775-7612 discuss Tax Issues pertaining to Dual-Status Aliens

You are a dual status alien when you have been both a resident alien and a nonresident alien in the same tax year. Dual status does not refer to your citizenship, only to your resident status for tax purposes in the United States. In determining your U.S. income tax liability for a dual-status tax year, different rules apply for the part of the year you are a resident of the United States and the part of the year you are a nonresident. The most common dual-status tax years are the years of arrival and departure.

For The Part of the Year You are a Resident Alien

For the part of the year you are a resident alien, you are taxed on income from all sources. Income from sources outside the United States is taxable if you receive it while you are a resident alien. The income is taxable even if you earned it while you were a nonresident alien or if you became a nonresident alien after receiving it and before the end of the year.

For The Part of The Year You are a Nonresident Alien

For the part of the year you are a nonresident alien, you are taxed on income from U.S. sources only.

Not Effectively Connected Income

Income from sources outside the United States that is not effectively connected with a trade or business in the United States is not taxable if you receive it while you are a nonresident alien. The income is not taxable even if you earned it while you were a resident alien or if you became a resident alien or a U.S. citizen after receiving it and before the end of the year.

Income From U.S. Sources

Income from U.S. sources is taxable whether you receive it while a nonresident alien or a resident alien unless specifically exempt under the Internal Revenue Code or a tax treaty provision. Generally, tax treaty provisions apply only to the part of the year you were a nonresident. However, an exception to this rule exists. Refer to “Students, Apprentices, Trainees, Teachers, Professors, and Researchers Who Became Resident Aliens” found in Chapter 9 of Publication 519.

When determining what income is taxed in the United States, you must consider exemptions under U.S. tax law as well as the reduced tax rates and exemptions provided by tax treaties between the United States and certain foreign countries.

Restrictions for Filing Dual-Status Tax Returns

The following restrictions apply if you are filing a tax return for a dual-status tax year:

  • You cannot use the standard deduction allowed on Form 1040 (PDF). However, you can itemize certain allowable deductions.
  • Special rules apply for exemptions for the part of the tax year a dual status taxpayer is a nonresident alien if the taxpayer is a resident of Canada, Mexico, The Republic of Korea (South Korea), a U.S. national, or a student or business apprentice from India. Refer to Aliens – How Many Exemptions Can Be Claimed.
  • Subject to the general rules for qualification, you are allowed exemptions for your spouse and dependents in figuring taxable income for the part of the year you were a resident alien. The amount you can claim for these exemptions is limited to your taxable income (determined without regard to exemptions) for the part of the year you were a resident alien.
  • Your total deduction for the exemptions for your spouse and allowable dependents cannot be more than your taxable income (figured without deducting personal exemptions) for the period you are a resident alien.
  • You cannot use the head of household Tax Table column or Tax Rate Schedule.
  • You cannot file a joint return (However, a dual status alien who is married to a U.S. citizen or a resident alien may elect to file a joint return with his or her spouse. Refer to Nonresident Spouse Treated as a Resident for more information).
  • If you are married and a nonresident of the United States for all or part of the tax year and you do not choose to file jointly with your U.S. citizen or resident alien spouse, you must use the Tax Table column, or Tax Rate Schedule for married filing separately to figure your tax on income effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business. You cannot use the Tax Table column or Tax Rate Schedules for married filing jointly or single.
  • You may not take the earned income credit, the credit for the elderly or disabled, or an education credit unless you elect to be taxed as a resident alien as the spouse of a U.S. citizen or resident alien in lieu of these dual-status taxpayer rules.

Different Rules

When you figure your U.S. tax for a dual-status year, you are subject to different rules for the part of the year you are a resident and the part of the year you are a nonresident.

Effectively and Not Effectively Connected Income

All income for your period of residence and all income that is effectively connected with a trade or business in the United States for your period of nonresidence, after allowable deductions, is combined and taxed at the rates that apply to U.S. citizens and residents. Income that is not connected with a trade or business in the United States for your period of nonresidence is subject to the flat 30% rate or lower treaty rate. You cannot take any deductions against this not effectively connected income. Refer to Taxation of Nonresident Aliens for more information.

Resident Alien vs. Nonresident Alien

The U.S. income tax return you must file as a dual-status alien depends on whether you are a resident alien or a nonresident alien at the end of the tax year.

Resident Alien at End of Year

You must file Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return if you are a dual-status taxpayer who becomes a resident during the year and who is a U.S. resident on the last day of the tax year. Write “Dual-Status Return” across the top of the return. Attach a statement to your return to show the income for the part of the year you are a nonresident. You can use Form 1040NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return (PDF) or Form 1040NR-EZ, U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens With No Dependents (PDF) as the statement, but be sure to mark “Dual-Status Statement” across the top.

Nonresident at End of Year

You must file Form 1040NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return or Form 1040NR-EZ, U.S. Income Tax Return for Certain Nonresident Aliens With No Dependents if you are a dual-status taxpayer who gives up residence in the United States during the year and who is not a U.S. resident on the last day of the tax year. Write “Dual-Status Return” across the top of the return. Attach a statement to your return to show the income for the part of the year you are a resident. You can use Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return as the statement, but be sure to mark “Dual-Status Statement” across the top.

Statement

Any statement must have your name, address, and taxpayer identification number on it. You do not need to sign a separate statement or schedule accompanying your return, since your signature on the return also applies to the supporting statements and schedules.

When and Where To File

If you are a resident alien on the last day of your tax year and report your income on a calendar year basis, you must file no later than April 15 of the year following the close of your tax year. If you report your income on other than a calendar year basis, file your return no later than the 15th day of the 4th month following the close of your tax year. In either case, file your return with the Internal Revenue Service indicated in the Form 1040 Instructions.

If you are a nonresident alien on the last day of your tax year and you report your income on a calendar year basis, you must file no later than April 15 of the year following the close of your tax year if you receive wages subject to withholding. If you report your income on other than a calendar year basis, file your return no later than the 15th day of the 4th month following the close of your tax year. If you did not receive wages subject to withholding and you report your income on a calendar year basis, you must file no later than June 15 of the year following the close of your tax year. If you report your income on other than a calendar year basis, file your return no later than the 15th day of the 6th month following the close of your tax year. In any case, file your return with the Internal Revenue Service indicated in the Form 1040NR Instructions.

References/Related Topics

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