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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Iwo Jima Flag Raising - This Day in History Feb 23rd 1945

During the bloody Battle for Iwo Jima, U.S. Marines from the 3rd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Regiment of the 5th Division take the crest of Mount Suribachi, the island’s highest peak and most strategic position, and raise the U.S. flag. Marine photographer Louis Lowery was with them and recorded the event. American soldiers fighting for control of Suribachi’s slopes cheered the raising of the flag, and several hours later more Marines headed up to the crest with a larger flag. Joe Rosenthal, a photographer with the Associated Press, met them along the way and recorded the raising of the second flag along with a Marine still photographer and a motion-picture cameraman. 

Rosenthal took three photographs atop Suribachi. The first, which showed five Marines and one Navy corpsman struggling to hoist the heavy flag pole, became the most reproduced photograph in history and won him a Pulitzer Prize. The accompanying motion-picture footage attests to the fact that the picture was not posed. Of the other two photos, the second was similar to the first but less affecting, and the third was a group picture of 18 soldiers smiling and waving for the camera. Many of these men, including three of the six soldiers seen raising the flag in the famous Rosenthal photo, were killed before the conclusion of the Battle for Iwo Jima in late March.

In early 1945, U.S. military command sought to gain control of the island of Iwo Jima in advance of the projected aerial campaign against the Japanese home islands. Iwo Jima, a tiny volcanic island located in the Pacific about 700 miles southeast of Japan, was to be a base for fighter aircraft and an emergency-landing site for bombers. On February 19, 1945, after three days of heavy naval and aerial bombardment, the first wave of U.S. Marines stormed onto Iwo Jima’s inhospitable shores.

The Japanese garrison on the island numbered 22,000 heavily entrenched men. Their commander, General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, had been expecting an Allied invasion for months and used the time wisely to construct an intricate and deadly system of underground tunnels, fortifications, and artillery that withstood the initial Allied bombardment. By the evening of the first day, despite incessant mortar fire, 30,000 U.S. Marines commanded by General Holland Smith managed to establish a solid beachhead.
During the next few days, the Marines advanced inch by inch under heavy fire from Japanese artillery and suffered suicidal charges from the Japanese infantry. Many of the Japanese defenders were never seen and remained underground manning artillery until they were blown apart by a grenade or rocket, or incinerated by a flame thrower.

While Japanese kamikaze flyers slammed into the Allied naval fleet around Iwo Jima, the Marines on the island continued their bloody advance across the island, responding to Kuribayashi’s lethal defenses with remarkable endurance. On February 23, the crest of 550-foot Mount Suribachi was taken, and the next day the slopes of the extinct volcano were secured.

By March 3, U.S. forces controlled all three airfields on the island, and on March 26 the last Japanese defenders on Iwo Jima were wiped out. Only 200 of the original 22,000 Japanese defenders were captured alive. More than 6,000 Americans died taking Iwo Jima, and some 17,000 were wounded.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

What to Expect for Refunds in 2016

Article from reviewed Jan-11 2016
The IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. However, it’s possible your tax return may require additional review and take longer. "Where’s My Refund?" has the most up to date information available about your refund. The tool is updated no more than once a day so you don’t need to check more often.

Our phone and walk-in representatives can research the status of your refund  if it's been 21 days or more since you filed electronically, more than 6 weeks since you mailed your paper return or if "Where’s My Refund?" directs you to contact us.

You can use "Where’s My Refund?" to start checking on the status of your return within 24 hours after we have received your e-filed return or 4 weeks after you mail a paper return. "Where’s My Refund?" has a tracker that displays progress through 3 stages: (1) Return Received, (2) Refund Approved and (3) Refund Sent.

You will get personalized refund information based on the processing of your tax return. The tool will provide an actual refund date as soon as the IRS processes your tax return and approves your refund.

Direct Deposit

Join the 8 in 10 taxpayers who get their refunds faster by using e-file and direct deposit. It's the safest, fastest way to receive your refund and is also easy to use. Just select it as your refund method through your tax software and type in the account number and routing number. Or, tell your tax preparer you want direct deposit. You can even use direct deposit if you are one of the few people still filing by paper. Be sure to double check your entry to avoid errors.

Your refund should only be deposited directly into accounts that are in your own name; your spouse’s name or both if it’s a joint account. No more than three electronic refunds can be deposited into a single financial account or pre-paid debit card. Taxpayers who exceed the limit will receive an IRS notice and a paper refund.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Happy Presidents' Day!

At Gardner & Billing we don't get to observe any three day weekends during tax season, but nevertheless, we will still be honoring the history of our American leaders on Presidents' Day!

 Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. Traditionally celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual day of birth—the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Tax Tips for Farmers

By Bonnie Lee, FOXBusiness

For classification purposes, the IRS considers more than just ground tillers as farmers. The IRS regards orchards, livestock, dairy, poultry, vineyards, ranches, ranges, and even fish as farming.  For tax purposes, if the activity is owned by a sole proprietor, farming is considered a small business. However, these activities are reported on Schedule F rather than Schedule C of Form 1040.
The basic rules governing all small businesses apply with some interesting exceptions.
Here are the basic rules:
  1. Net profit is subject to self-employment tax, which is calculated on Schedule SE.
  2. You may deduct all “ordinary and necessary” business expenses.
  3. Workers you hire are subject to payroll tax withholding and matching unless they pass the test to categorize them as independent contractors.
  4. Net operating losses can be carried back or forward.
  5. You may deduct self-employed health insurance on Line 29 of Form 1040.
  6. You may deduct retirement plan contributions to an IRA, SEP IRA, etc… as an adjustment to income on Form 1040.
  7. Cost of goods sold: If you purchase livestock for resale, you may take the deduction when you sell the beast (including transportation costs) not when you purchase it.
  8. The hobby loss rules apply – profit in three of last five years. For breeding, showing, training, and/or racing horses – two of the last seven years.
There are some interesting tax treatment differences between small businesses and farming, and farmers are giving some tax tax breaks not offered to other business owners.

First of all, if a farmer enjoys increased income one year, he can elect income averaging by considering the last three years of low income in order to reduce the current year tax bill. This method will not change a prior year’s tax liability. Basically, the data from prior years is used to determine the current year tax. In the past, income averaging applied to everyone, whether you were a farmer, a self-employed business owner or a wage earner. But this concept was written out of the tax code in the 1986 tax reform--with the exception of farming.

Secondly, rental income is generally not subject to self-employment tax. However, if you rent some of your land to a farmer and you materially participate in those farming activities – such as a share-cropper arrangement – this form of rental income is subject to self-employment tax. If you are paid in crops, the value of those crops is included in income and becomes subject to self-employment tax.

Fuel used off-road for farming activities can be subject to federal excise tax refunds or credits. Use IRS Form 4136 to claim a credit and Form 8849 to request a refund. Visit your tax professional or peruse the instructions for these forms to ensure that you qualify.
Some expenses considered “ordinary and necessary” include: clearing brush from an area you wish to farm, removing sentiment from drainage ditches, and expenses for endangered species recovery. You may deduct expenses for soil and water conservation as long as they do not exceed 25% of your income from farming.
Crop insurance proceeds granted to a farmer resulting from crop damage must be included in gross income. You generally include them in the year you receive them.

Some income can be declared in a subsequent year. For example, if you sell more livestock, including poultry, than you normally would in a year because of weather-related conditions, you may be able to postpone until the next year the reporting of the gain from selling the additional animals.

And some income is not taxable. For example, income from certain cost-sharing conservation programs may not be taxable.
For more information about farming, check out Farmers Tax Guide