Professional Tax Preparers Wanted

R&G Brenner is seeking experienced professional tax preparers & tax practice partnerships for the 2018 tax season. Full & part time positions available in New York City, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx & Long Island.

Competitive commission & bonus structures available.  Tax professionals looking to partnership/sell their tax practices are given priority.

All applicants must have:

  • Current IRS PTIN number
  • Current NY State Registration number
  • Required NY State Annual Continuing Educations (CE) Credits Hours

If you have any questions or would like to apply for a position, please contact & send your resume to rgbjobs@rgbrenner.com or call us toll free at (888) APRIL-15.  Hurry, limited number of positions available.

Since 1941, R&G Brenner has been a family business serving the NY metro area.  We currently operate 30 privately owned retail tax office locations. We are not a franchise.

2015 Tax Season Delayed

Filing Season Delayed...AGAIN!
Filing Season Delayed…AGAIN!

R&G Brenner has just been informed by our commercial tax software provider, that the IRS has indicated that the 2015 tax season (for filing tax returns for tax year 2014) will be delayed AT LEAST until January 23, 2015.  This means the season could potentially be delayed even beyond 1/23.

While delaying the start of the tax season has become a routine occurrence, this tax season could prove to be especially difficult.  The recent spending agreement passed by congress and expected to be signed by President Obama, cuts the IRS Budget down to levels not seen since 1998:

It is a cynical recipe for a self-fulfilling disaster: Give the [IRS] more and more work. Cut its budget. Blame it for failing to do its job. Repeat…For context, in 1998, taxpayers filed about 125 million individual returns. Last year, the agency had to process 145 million.

The IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen, pleaded with members of congress to increase the IRS’ budget and to act quickly on deciding to renew or let multiple tax laws and patches expire…all of which fell upon deaf ears.  Mr. Koskinen has now dubbed the 2015 tax season “one of the most complicated filing seasons we’ve ever had”  The National Taxpayer Advocate was even more forceful, calling this season “misery” & “the worst filing season ever” for taxpayers.

If there was ever a year to have a tax professional on your financial team, this is it!  Contact an R&G Brenner professional today and we’ll help you tackle what is shaping up to be a very difficult tax season.

UPDATE:

The filing season will commence on January 20th, 2015.

What If I Forgot To Include Information On My Taxes?

Forgot Something On Your Tax Return?  Don't Worry!
Forgot Something On Your Tax Return? Don’t Worry!

So, you worked hours on your tax return, gathered your documents, filed on time and you are now awaiting your tax refund with eager anticipation. All is well until that moment of mild terror when you realize you forgot to include a vital document or deduction on your taxes. Don’t panic: all is not lost. There are ways to include missed information on your taxes, even if you’ve already filed them.

File an Amended Tax Return

When you’ve omitted information on your return, the IRS allows you to file an Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return called Form 1040X. However, you can’t e-file amended returns; they’ll have to be submitted it in paper form which increases the wait time by many weeks for any potential additional refunds.

Reasons to File

There are lots of reasons you might need to file an amended tax return, but there are some things that don’t necessitate one. You’ll need to file a 1040X form if you have experienced a change in your filing status, income, credits or deductions. But you do not have to file if you caught a math error after the fact. The IRS is pretty good about catching these types of mistakes and usually adjust these automatically for you. For example, If you forgot to attach the proper tax forms and a W2 is missing,  there’s no need to file this amended form. You should get a request from the IRS requesting any missing items. The IRS can easily find income that you may have omitted from your tax return, but sometimes it can take a very long time for the IRS to notify you.  That means if you made an error where you underpaid your taxes in some manner, you will accrue penalties and interest until your tax liability is paid in full.  It could pay for you to file an amended return to minimize penalties & interests.  On the other hand,  the IRS isn’t as well-equipped for finding missing credits or deductions that you may have overlooked, and which could increase your refund.  In this case, don’t wait until you get a letter from the IRS looking for more information. Instead, be proactive and file the amended return.  After all it’s your money and the IRS does NOT have to pay you interest for holding onto your well deserved refunds.

Rules

You have three years from the original filing date to submit Form 1040X, or two years from the date of tax payment.   You’ll need to submit a separate 1040X form for each tax return you’re amending and mail them separately to the IRS. Also, don’t assume they are all being mailed to the same mailing address.  There are usually separate processing PO Boxes for each tax year you are amending.  If you plan on claiming more of a refund, you must wait until you get your original refund in the mail or via direct deposit before filing the 1040X. Again, keep in mind that amended refunds take awhile to process, so it could take up to 12 weeks before you receive anything. If you owe more taxes as a result of the amended return, pay what you owe right away to avoid fees and penalties from piling up, as the IRS will begin charging you based on the due date of your original tax return.

Track Your Status

Similar to tracking your original refund status, the IRS has a Where’s My Amended Return? tool (you can also check R&G Brenner’s Where’s My Refund page as we include State Refund links as well) that you can use to track your amended return’s status. Alternatively, you can call the IRS at 866-464-2050. Have your taxpayer identification number or social security number handy, along with your date of birth and zip code.

If you forgot to include some vital information on your tax return, follow the steps above to make sure you pay all the right taxes and get your full refund.  Or, simply contact an experience R&G Brenner tax professional today, and we’d be happy to assist you.

April 15 Countdown & Last Minute Tax Tips

Tick Tock, TickTock...April 15th Deadline
Tick Tock, TickTock…April 15th Deadline

With the clock about to strike midnight on the 2013 Tax Year Filing season, the following is a quick list of tax tips for all you last minute filers out there:

April 15th Deadline

Yes, we all know the saying “Death & Taxes…”. And nothing drums up the cold sweats and association with taxes like the April 15th deadline. However, here is something that many taxpayers do not know: This deadline is only if you OWE taxes to the IRS.  If you are due a refund from the IRS, you actually have 3 full years from the April 15th deadline to claim and receive your refund before it becomes the property of the U.S. Government.  So, as long as you file your 2013 tax return by April 15th, 2017 you will get your refund.  There are of course, many reasons to file your 2013 tax return before the deadline.  It’s your money!  So don’t let the government hold on to it especially when they do not have to pay interest on it.  If you owe, and you do not have all of your tax documents ready, you can always file an extension.  Extensions must also be filed before the April 15th deadline.  REMEMBER: An extension is only an extension to file your final tax return, NOT to pay the taxes you owe.  Therefore, expect to send payment for the estimated amount of taxes you owe along with any extension.

Beware of IRS Scams

IRS & Tax related Scams have been steadily increasing over the last few years.  The most common scam going around is IRS impersonators contacting unsuspecting taxpayers and getting them to divulge their confidential personal information which can be used to open up credit cards in the victims name and/or to a file a fraudulent tax return in their name in order to steal refunds.  NOTE: The IRS will NEVER initiate contact with your via email, phone, fax or text.  They will always send you a written notification with instructions.  Even if you receive written communication, double check that the contact information on the letter matches the IRS contact information from the IRS website.  If you think that you are the target of a tax related scam, report it to phishing@irs.gov.

Sign Your Return & Mail To Correct Address

While this may sound trivial, many taxpayers forget to sign their tax returns!  Your tax return is technically not considered filed if it is not signed.  While the majority of tax returns are filed electronically, there are still many reasons why a return would be filed as paper.  Furthermore, if you had your return prepared by a professional, be sure that they signed the return as well.  While the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for what is listed on their return, a common scam that many “professionals” use to avoid any liability is to file a tax return as “self-prepared”.  In other words, the IRS thinks that the taxpayer prepared and filed the tax return themselves when in reality it was filed by a paid income tax preparer.  So be sure to check for all appropriate signatures!  Furthermore, be sure you are mailing your tax return to the right IRS processing center.  The IRS tends to change their mailing addresses annually and some  have separate mailing addresses for refunds and taxes due.  Here is a list of all the IRS tax processing centers.

Keep Your Tax Records

So you just sent in your taxes and now you can throw all of your W2s, 1099s, receipts & other tax related documentation into the fireplace, right?  WRONG! Depending on your situation, the IRS says to keep all of your tax records between 3 & 6 years.  So, just to be on the safe side, keep all of your tax records for at least 6 years.  Sometimes it could take years before the IRS notifies you with an issue and/or adjustment on your tax return.  If you plan on contesting changes in the IRS’ favor, you’ll need your backup documentation.  Recent budget cuts to the IRS will probably delay the notification process even more.

File With A Tax Professional

While millions of taxpayers are electing to forego using a tax professional in favor of filing themselves, the numbers don’t add up.  A couple of years ago R&G Brenner investigated The True Cost Of Preparing Your Own Tax Return and found that taxpayers who filed themselves were losing an average of $594 in refunds as opposed to using a Tax Professional.  Similarly, H&R Block is running ads this year that found 1 in 5 taxpayers who prepares their own taxes are not claiming all the deductions they are entitled to and are losing $490 in refunds.  Now there are many taxpayers who have very simple returns (standard deductions, no house, no kids, etc) and can easily file themselves.  However, the moment your tax return gets even a little bit complicated, you should seek professional help.  If you are going to Itemize Deductions (Schedule A), claim mortgage interest, have children (Earned Income Tax Credit), deduct business expenses (Schedule C), have rental income (Schedule E), or other complex tax positions, it is almost never a good idea to prepare your own tax return.

If you would like information about R&G Brenner, our services or if you need any tax assistance before or after the April 15th deadline, please feel free to contact us here, or call us toll free at (888) APRIL-15.

Biggest Tax Law Changes For 2014

irs-logo-tax-1040-form
The Biggest Tax Changes For 2014

With the upcoming tax season already delayed, and many tax proposals still being debated in a contentious congress, Chad Fisher over at gobanking.com lists the 5 biggest changes for the 2014 tax season taxpayers can expect:

1. FICA and Medicare Taxes

Last year, many filers noticed a startling increase in their taxes thanks to FICA tax hikes.

FICA, or the Federal Insurance Contribution Act, includes both Social Security and Medicare taxes. The current FICA tax rate is 7.65 percent. Higher-income earners might be facing an additional 0.9 percent tax, which results in an effective tax rate of 2.35 percent for single taxpayers who earn more than $200,000 and joint filers who earn more than $250,000 a year.

Self-employed taxpayers pay 15.3 percent in FICA taxes, because they don’t have an employer with which to share the cost.

These increases were due in part to the projected cost of Social Security growing faster than its income. While there will be no tax increase this year related to FICA, the wage base is slated to increase.

The wage base is the maximum amount of income that can be taxed for Social Security purposes. In 2013, the wage base was $113,700; this year, the wage base is predicted to increase to $115,500.

2. Exemptions and Deductions

The tax code is designed to accommodate inflation. Although many Americans are extremely wary of inflation, this adjustment can actually help taxpayers save. Adjustments ensure that filers are in the appropriate tax bracket, but they also affect tax breaks such as exemptions and standard deductions.

In 2014, these adjustments could save middle-income married couples as much as $200. Single filers will see savings, as well. Personal exemptions will also be adjusted for inflation, and limits for IRA contributions, education credits and similar benefits will increase.

Some taxpayers could still benefit from itemizing their deductions; anyone interested in doing so should discuss options and scenarios with a licensed tax professional.

3. The Affordable Care Act

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could well be the biggest change to taxes in 2014. Employers with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees will be facing a tax penalty if they fail to provide affordable essential health coverage to their employees.

Individuals who fail to purchase coverage might also be subject to a penalty. Adults could be facing a fine of $95, while the penalty for uninsured children will be $47.50. This fine will increase annually and, by 2016, will be $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of the total household’s taxable income, whichever is greater.

On the flip side of the penalty are new tax credits and subsidies. Employers with fewer than 50 full-time employees and non-profit organizations could be eligible for tax credits if they meet the minimum coverage requirements.

Individuals will not receive tax credits but could be eligible for subsidies that help them purchase coverage through state or federal health insurance exchanges.

4. Students Loans

Many struggle to pay their student loans after graduation. In 2014, students who receive loans to fund their education will have more affordable payments that will not exceed 10 percent of their income.

Some students will be eligible to have their debts forgiven after a decade, including those who are in the military, and those who work as nurses or teachers. Other students could also be eligible for debt forgiveness after 20 years.

5. Other Tax Law Changes

Other changes have also been proposed. One proposal that is estimated to reduce the deficit by $44 billion over the next decade would repeal tax preferences for oil, gas and coal producers.

New jobs and wage increases could offer a temporary 10 percent tax credit, and investing in advanced energy manufacturing would also merit new tax credits.

Additional proposals have been made to create small-employer tax credits, expand the child and dependent care tax credit, and reform the low-income housing tax credits. The federal tax on tobacco products and cigarettes may be increased as well.

Many of the tax law changes on the horizon would be beneficial to a large percentage of taxpayers. Both refundable and non-refundable tax credits could significantly decrease the tax burden of individuals or couples. However, it is important that wage earners discuss their unique situations with a tax professional.

If you have any questions regarding these or other potential 2014 tax law changes, please contact an R&G Brenner tax professional today, or let us know in the comments section below.

Source: gobanking.com

Last Minute Tax Tips

Tick-Tock, The Deadline Approaches
Tick-Tock, The Deadline Approaches

As the April 15th Deadline rapidly approaches, there are still hundreds of thousands of taxpayers expected to file the final week of the tax season.  The late start to the tax season and the fact that we are getting reports from clients that they still have not received all their tax documentation in order to file is making  this last minute crunch even more magnified.  Here are some last minuted tax-tips (even if you’ve filed already)

1) IRS E-mails: If you’ve received an email from the IRS relating to your refund or requesting taxpayer information, DON’T REPLY!  This is a common scam that thieves use to steal your identity.  Don’t even open the email if you can avoid doing so as some of these emails contain viruses or malware.  The IRS never initiates contact via E-mail.  If the IRS needs information from a taxpayer, they will send a formal notification via USPS mail on official letter head.  If you receive any suspicious communications you believe are scams via email, forward them to phishing@irs.gov.

2) April 15th Deadline: Many taxpayers don’t realize that the deadline for filing a tax return only applies to those that owe money to the government.  If you are due a refund the IRS allows you 4 years to file.  It is always best to file and receive your refund the year you are due it, as the IRS does not pay interest.  So, if you believe you are due a refund and you haven’t filed, have no fear, you’ve got plenty of time.  No need to wait on line to file before the deadline.  R&G Brenner has offices open after the tax season and throughout the year.  Even if you file a day after the deadline, you should have no wait time to see a professional.

3) Filing Extensions:  As stated above, if you are due a refund, you have 4 years to file your tax return and there is no need to file an extension.  However, if you believe you will owe the IRS/State(s) and have not received all of your tax documents or you are simply not ready to file, you should consider filing an extension.  Nevertheless, an extension for filing your tax return does not automatically grant you an extension to pay your taxes; the IRS still expects to be paid before the deadline.  If you cannot pay all that is due, simply send what you can.  The IRS will charge you interest on the balance due and you can set up a payment plan if you wish.  If you do not pay, not only with the IRS charge interest but also a late filing penalty.  The more money you owe, the steeper the penalty will be.  So, file on time, or file an extension.

4) File Yourself or Use A Tax Pro?:  The tax code is very complicated and littered with special credits & deductions.  Unless you are filing a very simple return, it is almost never a good idea to file your own taxes.  Simply put, even in this day and age, a computer questionnaire is not an adequate replacement for a professional.  Check out the True Cost of Doing Your Own Taxes.  On average, refunds using a Tax-Pro are $347-$841 HIGHER than Do-It-Yourself programs.  The time you save is just as valuable–if not more so–that the money you’d spend on a professional.

If you need help with any of the above, contact an R&G Brenner Tax Professional today, or call us toll free at (888) APRIL-15.

How To Calculate Your Adjusted Gross Income

Calculating AGI Is Tricky

Calculating your adjusted gross income (AGI) is one of the first steps in determining your taxable income for the year. If you are an experienced tax preparer, this calculation can be easy. However, if you are…not an expert, you might find the following tips helpful.

Before Determining Your AGI
Determining your AGI would be a waste of time and resources if you are not required to file a tax return. Therefore, before you calculate your AGI, you should determine whether or not you need to file a tax return for the year. The IRS provides an interactive tax assistant that can be used to help you determine if you need to file a tax return for the year. This can be found on the IRS website. Even if you are not required to file a tax return, the IRS recommends that you do if you are eligible for a tax return which might be the case if you paid income tax, or if you are eligible for certain credits.

Gather Your Income Statements
The starting point for computing your AGI is determining your income for the year. This includes salaries and wages, which are reported on Form W-2, self-employment income, and income reported on 1099 forms, such as proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions reported on Form 1099-B, proceeds from Real Estate Transactions reported on Form 1099-S, Form 1099-INT used to report taxable interest and 1099-DIV, which is used to report taxable dividend.You will need to add other taxable income, such as:

  • Taxable refunds, credits, or offsets of state and local income taxes
  • Alimony
  • Business income
  • Capital gains or losses
  • Other gains or losses
  • Distributions from retirement accounts that are taxable
  • Rental real estate, royalties, partnerships, S corporations, trusts, etc.
  • Farm income
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Social security benefits, and
  • Other income not reported elsewhere on your tax return

The total of these amounts is your “total income.”

Subtract Deductions and Expenses
You are allowed to subtract certain amounts from your total income in order to arrive at your AGI. These are:

  • Educator expenses, which applies to eligible educators for up to $250
  • Certain business expenses of reservists, performing artists, and fee-basis government officials
  • Health savings account deduction
  • Moving expenses
  • Deductible part of self-employment tax
  • Self-employed SEP, SIMPLE, and qualified plans
  • Self-employed health insurance deduction
  • Penalty on early withdrawal of savings. This should not be confused with the 10% early distribution penalty that applies to any distributions from retirement account that occur before you reach age 59.5; such amounts are reported as taxable income in the “other taxes” section of your tax return.
  • Alimony
  • Deduction for contributions made to your traditional IRA
  • Student loan interest deduction
  • Tuition and fees and
  • Domestic production activities deduction

Be careful when figuring the amounts for these categories, as special requirements must be met for each. For example, for moving expenses, 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. You are also required to work a minimum number of hours on a full time basis over specific periods.

Don’t Confuse MAGI with AGI
A common mistake made by inexperienced tax preparers is to use AGI in cases where the modified AGI should be used. While your AGI is used in the calculating done to determine the amount of income tax you owe and certain credits for which you are eligible, your modified AGI is used to determine eligibility for items such as deducting contributions to a traditional IRA, or eligibility to contribute to a Roth IRA.

Work with a Professional
Unless you have the time and aptitude to follow the IRS instructions and conduct any necessary research, it might be more practical to use the services of an experienced tax professional. Professionals’ services may cost you, but they may be well the worth the time saved and frustration prevented from trying to figure out the rules on your own.

The Bottom Line
Figuring out your AGI may seem like a simple process at first glance. However, even if you use the IRS instructions for completing your tax return, you run the risk of making costly mistakes if you are inexperienced. Even if you complete the process on your own, consider having an R&G Brenner tax professional review your results to help ensure accuracy.

Source: Investopedia