Is My Refund Delayed? What Can I Do?

If you rely on your refund, plan for delays
If you rely on your refund, plan for delays

“Will my refund be delayed this year” is becoming an all too common refrain these days. Delayed e-filing dates, IRS not accepting tax forms & documents not being mailed out on time have all occurred over the last few years and have caused refund delays. However for the 2017 tax filing season (2016 tax year), it looks like we will get hit with all three of these scenarios at once:

Electronic Filing Date Delayed

This tax year, E-filing will begin January 23rd, 2017.  Electronic filing has historically began around January 15th.  However, over the past few years, these dates have been pushed back from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, so this is becoming common practice by the IRS.  Returns may be filed before this date, however the IRS will not process them until 1/23/17.

IRS Delaying Processing of Popular Tax Credits

The IRS has announced that the following tax credit forms will not be accepted for processing until February 15th, 2017:

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC)
  • The American Opportunity Credit (AOTC).

This is a nationwide law change required by Congress in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act; this is not a company or state change. If you normally file your taxes around this time (2/15/17), this delay should have a minimal impact on you.  However, if you tend to file early and/or have plans for your tax refund in advance, R&G Brenner suggests that you prepare yourself accordingly.  If you are unable to save funds, don’t worry, you can apply for R&G Brenner’s refund advances & referral rewards for CASH! (below).

R&G Brenner Refund Advances

If you rely on your refund, and these delays will seriously affect you, don’t worry; R&G Brenner has multiple refund advances for qualified R&G Brenner clients:

R&G Brenner Referral Rewards

Taxes may never be fun, but they are rewarding with R&G Brenner on your team.  Last year we paid out over $100,000 in CASH for client referrals.  Get $50 CASH for every new client you refer to R&G Brenner; NO LIMIT!  Click here to start earning today!

While we can’t control IRS delays, we can offer our clients a little relief from these delays.  Become an R&G Brenner client and receive the benefits.  Schedule an appointment today for a FREE estimate or call us toll free at (888) APRIL-15.

 

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.

R&G Brenner Extended Off-Season Hours

R&G Brenner Off-Season Hours Extended
R&G Brenner Off-Season Hours Extended

In order to better accommodate our clients, R&G Brenner is adjusting business hours for offices open during the off-season.  During this time (after April 19th), R&G Brenner offices will be open at least from 10am-6pm with some offices staying open even later. We hope this will be a convenience for clients who work normal business hours. Furthermore, R&G Brenner is keeping more branch offices open with regular business hours than ever before.  The following locations will be open throughout the “off-season” (click on the office for corresponding off-season schedule):

At R&G Brenner we continually strive to accommodate our clients.  We hope this small but significant change will be a convenience to all.

Street Promoters Wanted

Join R&G Brenner's Street Team Today!
Join R&G Brenner’s Street Team Today!

R&G Brenner is looking for hardworking, outgoing & reliable street promoters to market our company’s current promotions.  Job starts immediately & entails distributing flyers, door hangers and other R&G Brenner materials to generate new business.

Compensation is hourly with additional $5 bonus for each new client generated. Students & Interns are welcome.  Apply asap by contacting K.R. Uregar, Director of Marketing at kuregar@rgbrenner.com.  

Hurry! Limited full & part time positions available in the following areas:

  • Manhattan

    • Lower East Side
    • Midtown
    • Harlem
  • Brooklyn

    • Downtown Brooklyn
    • Bayridge
    • Bensonhurst
    • East New York
  • Bronx

    • Mott Haven
    • East Tremont
    • Fordham
    • Jerome
  • Queens

    • Bayside
    • Astoria
    • Middle Village
  • Nassau County

    • Bethpage
    • Hempstead
    • Valley Stream
    • Elmont
    • Long Beach
    • Massapequa
  • Suffolk County

    • Babylon
    • Huntington
    • Selden
    • West Sayville
  • Westchester County

    • Mount Vernon
    • Yorktown Heights (Jefferson Valley Mall)
  • Rockland County

    • Spring Valley

March 16th Corporate Tax Deadline Approaching

March 15th Corporate Deadline Approaches
March 16th Corporate Deadline

The Deadline to file corporate tax returns (forms 1120, 1120A, and 1120S) is Monday March 16th, 2015. Most corporate returns are required to be filed electronically therefore they must be sent to the IRS before midnight on the 16th.  If for some reason you are filing a paper corporate tax return, the post mark on the envelope must show 11:59pm or earlier in order to avoid late filing penalties.

If you require more time to file your corporate return, you can request a 6-month extension by filing federal Form 7004 and any corresponding state(s) extensions, however these too must be electronically filed or mailed before the March 16th Deadline.

If you require immediate assistance regarding filing your corporate return(s), contact an R&G Brenner professional before the deadline.

The Most Important Tax Issues to Focus on This Year, According to the Experts

The Most Important 2015 Tax Issues
The Most Important 2015 Tax Issues

Taxes are never a fun process, and there can be a great deal of confusion about how much to pay or how to get the most money back. With tax season in full swing, many people are finding themselves lost in a flurry of financial advice that’s hitting them from all directions and it’s difficult to sort through all the noise. Here’s some advice from tax experts about what issues they consider the most important tax issues of 2015:

Review New Tax Rules

Every tax-paying family or individual has a unique situation and the only way to know how the code will affect each unique situation is by taking time to look at the new regulations. Among the issues that could affect families is the change to flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). While in 2013 money could be rolled over from the prior year, in 2014 carrying over the money makes one ineligible to participate in the HSA for 2015. There are also several other adjustments to consider regarding capital gains, deductions, and an alternative minimum tax.

Don’t Miss Out on Free Money

Believe it or not, there’s a good deal of free money going around, and it’s yours for the taking. Private wealth-manager George Papadopoulos has several suggestions for where people can get this free money, including participating in their employer’s retirement plan, using company insurance policies and employee stock-purchase plans, and taking advantage of credit card promotions.

For company retirement plans, make sure you are contributing enough to get all of the matching funds, which will also allow participants to enjoy the growing tax-deferred funds in future years. The health insurance plans offered by companies have a number of advantages, frequently offering flexible spending accounts for health and child care as well as health savings accounts. Stock-purchase plans can help employees purchase stocks at 10-15% below the market value, putting capital gain directly into the employees’ paychecks. Credit card promotions are a great way to collect free cash for every dollar spent, but make sure to choose carefully.

Consider Moving Certain Assets to Non-taxable Accounts

Where one is keeping their assets can also play a large role in how much they are paying or not paying in taxes. For instance, the government taxes bonds and stocks at different rates. Dividends and long-term capital gains are taxed at the relatively reasonable rate of 15%, while nearly all interest income is taxed at regular income tax rates, which can reach up to 35%. That’s why doing some shifting around and moving fixed-income assets to nontaxable accounts can minimize the amount of tax expenditures to which you’re exposed. Money in nontaxable accounts is also harder to access, but it’s important to consider moving assets to nontaxable accounts, as it could lead to significant savings.

Maximizing Roth IRA Savings

If you don’t have one already, a Roth IRA allows you to save for retirement in a nontaxable account as long as you meet certain guidelines. One of the ways to take advantage is to contribute the maximum you can every year. Use these contributions to focus on stock options, opting first for high-quality dividend growth stocks. Converting funds from a traditional IRA or 401(k) often allows people to pay less in taxes, though it’s important to plan out as the year of conversion will include the amount converted as part of taxable income. Finding out the specific details for how to save using Roth IRA is the best place to start.

For more information about the above topics and more, please contact an R&G Brenner tax professional today!

TurboTax Losing Customers By Hiding Price Increases

Are You Sure...You Wan't To Use TurboTax?
Are You Sure…You Wan’t To Use TurboTax?

TurboTax, the leading do-it-yourself tax software by Intuit, has caused an uproar with their customers claiming shady tactics of “price gouging” & “bait & switch”.  Intuit has removed popular tax forms from their Basic & Deluxe programs, forcing clients to upgrade their software by at least $30 in order to have access to the same forms that were in last year’s programs:

Starting this year, people who prepare their taxes on a personal computer can’t use TurboTax Deluxe if they want to electronically file common tax forms, including Schedule C for a business, Schedule D for capital gains and losses or Schedule E for rental property. Instead, they must upgrade to the Premier or Home & Business versions—which cost up to $30 more than the $50 Deluxe version as of Friday.

Customers with simpler returns face a similar issue: They can no longer use TurboTax Basic if they want to itemize their deductions on Schedule A, such as mortgage interest or charitable donations, instead of claiming the standard deduction of $6,200 for a single filer or $12,400 for a married couple. Now, they will need to upgrade to TurboTax Deluxe, which costs up to $30 more than the $20 Basic.

It’s not so much that TurboTax raised their prices, it was the manner in which they did it. They didn’t give any “heads up” to their customers who expected the same product to contain the same forms.  It was not until users tried to add their usual tax forms that they found out they had to pay more to get the same product as last year.  In fact, TurboTax has hundreds of negative reviews on a popular Consumer Affairs website, and currently has a 1 star rating (out of 5 stars) as a result of these backdoor tactics.

“The company seems intent on fleecing the customer by increasing the price with no product improvement,” says Don Rickelman, a retired entrepreneur in Naples, Fla. In the past, he says, he has used TurboTax Deluxe to report his investments, but now, like many other users, he is considering alternatives.

Over the last 5 years or so since the onset of the Great Recession, many taxpayers have been flocking to inexpensive DIY tax software as a way to save some much needed cash.  However, with a decrease in unemployment coupled with the sharp decrease in Oil, many taxpayers have less time and a little extra cash in their pocket this year as opposed to years past.  This could be good news for the Professional Tax Preparing industry this year; especially when it has been shown that taxpayers who prepare their own returns frequently make mistakes & miss out on deductions/credits that reduce their refunds.  With an unresponsive IRS, delayed refunds and the uncertainty surrounding the new health care tax forms & penalties, this is the year to have an R&G Brenner Tax Professional on your team!

Source:  Wall Street Journal

Giving to Charity This Holiday Season? Here’s How to Report it on Your Taxes

Reporting Charitable Deductions
Reporting Charitable Deductions

The end of 2014 is just days away, and if you’re like many Americans, you are planning to give to one or more charitable organizations before the new year dawns. Around 34 percent of all charitable giving is done in the last three months of the year and slightly more than half of that is during the month of December. Giving is up substantially this year over 2013, thanks in large part to the continued national economic recovery.

While the desire to help others is the main reason that most people give to charity, they also enjoy the ability to claim a deduction on their tax return. However, many Americans incorrectly report their charitable giving and do not receive the credits they are entitled to.

The biggest mistake, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), is that people don’t verify that they are giving money or goods to a qualified charitable organization. They also make the mistake of assuming that donations made to individuals, political candidates and political organizations are deductible on their tax return. If you try to claim any of these as charitable donations, the IRS will deny your credit.

How to Claim a Charitable Deduction on Your Tax Return

If you plan to deduct your charitable contributions in 2014, you must use Form 1040 and itemize the deductions on a Schedule A. You may donate cash, tangible goods, services or personal property and write it off on your taxes this year. If you are donating a non-cash item, you should use IRS Publication 561 to determine its value.

In the event that you received merchandise in exchange for your donation, the IRS only allows you to deduct the amount of that item that exceeds fair market value. For example, if you donated money to fund a scholarship and the college gave you season tickets to watch its football team, you must deduct the value of those tickets from your charitable donation.

Stocks, bonds, and other deferred financial contributions are typically deducted at fair market value. This is the amount that the item would sell for if a competent buyer purchased it and the seller presented all relevant facts. In effect this means that all used items that you donate, such as cars and clothing, must be in good used condition in order to claim a tax deduction.

Proof of Donations

If the donation you itemized on Schedule A is worth more than $250, you must have written documentation that contains the name of the organization receiving the gift, the amount of the donation, and the date it changed hands. This communication can be in the form of a bank statement, a pay stub showing a payroll deduction, a letter from the receiver, or a printout of a text message or email.

For donations totaling more than $500 for the year, you need to complete IRS Form 8283 for Non-Cash Charitable Contributions and include it with your return. You should also use Section B of this form for non-cash donations worth more than $5,000 and include a professional appraisal when you submit your return. In most cases, the IRS limits the credits you can claim for charitable giving to 50 percent of your taxable income.

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.

“Worst Filing Season Ever” Predicted For Taxpayers

I just got hung up on by the IRS...again!
I just got hung up on by the IRS…again!

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen recently suggested that the 2015 tax filing season could be misery for taxpayers and IRS employees alike. Between extensive wait times to speak to a representative, implemented laws that have not yet been reflected in the tax code and congressional gridlock, this may be the worst tax season on record.

“The filing season is going to be the worst filing season since I’ve been the National Taxpayer Advocate [in 2001]…” said National Taxpayer advocated Nina Olson.  “…I’d love to be proved wrong, but I think it will rival the 1985 filing season when returns disappeared.”

The major obstacles for this year are as follows:

  • The IRS budget has been slashed.  While the House has tried to reduce the budget, the Senate has proposed to increase the budget by $240 Million.  Even in the slim chance that it passes, that increase would still amount to a 7% decrease to the IRS’ 2010 budget.
  • Multiple laws congress has passed, the IRS has yet to implement into its systems.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA), The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA) and other laws require information from health care providers and other agencies in order to process tax returns correctly…and that is before the antiquated computer systems of the IRS have to be updated
  • The uncertainty surrounding “Tax Extenders”; multiple tax laws that either need to be extended, adjusted and/or replaced.  There are currently over 50 of them.  If these laws are not addressed before December, the tax season itself could be delayed

Until all these issues are resolved, you can expect extra long waits and dropped calls at the IRS like last year when nearly half of the phone calls to the IRS went unanswered.

With all this uncertainty, if there was ever  year to have the help of a qualified tax professional, this is it. Contact R&G Brenner today to find out how we can help you.  “Saving you time and money is what we’re all about”.

Source: Forbes