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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Estate & Succession Planning … I don’t even know where to start!

We were privileged to have Jolene Brown present a workshop titled “The Top Ten Mistakes That Break-Up a Family Business” in our community a few weeks ago. It was so exciting to see so many successful people from our surrounding communities attend.

Jolene got a lot of people thinking… including those of us at Gardner & Billing. Hopefully her message has prompted some discussions and thoughts; or maybe it just has you stressed that you need to do something now

Anxiety happens when we think we have to figure out everything all at once. Relax. You can do this. Take it one step at a time. Breathe. Now Go…

Gather information: What do we have?
What do we own (assets)? What do we owe (liabilities)? What type of business do we have (sole proprietor, Corporation, LLC)? Who is a part of this plan (family members, business partners, beneficiaries)? What planning have we already done? What are our wishes for the future?

Documents that will help:

  • Entity organization documents (if applicable)
  • Deeds to real estate
  • Current Will
  • Loan documents
  • Financial statements
  • Financial & Family Goals list

Find a good advisor(s): Who will help us stay on track?
Once you gather your information, take it to an advisor that you trust. Find someone who will keep you moving forward - a professional who will ask you the tough questions, point out some possible pitfalls, and help you take the next step.

If you would like assistance or tools to help you get started, we welcome you to stop by our office or just give us a call. We have information available and we are eager to keep the momentum going!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Affordable Care Act Tax Provisions for Individuals and Families

ACA Executive Order and Current Tax Filing Season
The IRS is currently reviewing the Jan. 20, 2017, executive order to determine the implications. Taxpayers should continue to file their tax returns as they normally would.

The Affordable Care Act includes the individual shared responsibility provision and the premium tax credit that may affect your tax return.

The individual shared responsibility provision requires you, your spouse, and your dependents to have qualifying health insurance for the entire year, report a health coverage exemption, or make a payment when you file. In addition, you may be eligible for the premium tax credit if you purchased health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Reporting Coverage

Claiming Coverage Exemptions

Many taxpayers already have qualifying health care coverage, and will simply check a box on their tax return.

Some taxpayers are exempt from the requirement to have coverage and will not need to make a shared responsibility payment.
Claiming and Reconciling Premium Tax Credit

Making a Shared Responsibility Payment

If you purchased coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you may be eligible for the premium tax credit.

If you do not have qualifying coverage or an exemption for each month of the year, you will need to make a payment with your return.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

Whether you call it Valentine's Day or Singles Awareness Day, we want to wish you a Happy February 14th!  May it serve as a celebration of love in all forms - be it family, friends or romance.   
"Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer." 
- Jean de La Fontaine

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

FAQs on IRS Refunds

IRS Answers Common Early Tax Season Refund Questions and Addresses Surrounding Myths

IR-2017-16, Feb. 1, 2017
WASHINGTON — As millions of people begin filing their tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service reminded taxpayers about some basic tips to keep in mind about their refunds. During the early parts of the tax season, early filers are anxious to get details about their tax refunds. And in some social media, this can lead to misunderstandings and speculation about refunds. The IRS offers some tips to keep in mind.

Myth 1: All Refunds Are Delayed

While more than 90 percent of federal tax refunds are issued in the normal time frame – less than 21 days – it is true some refunds may be delayed – but not all of them. Recent legislation requires the IRS to hold refunds for tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until mid-February. Other returns may require additional review for a variety of reasons and take longer. For example, the IRS, along with its partners in the state’s and the nation’s tax industry, continue to strengthen security reviews to help protect against identity theft and refund fraud. The IRS encourages taxpayers to file as they normally would.

Myth 2: Calling the IRS or My Tax Professional Will Provide a Better Refund Date
Many people mistakenly think that talking to the IRS or calling their tax professional is the best way to find out when they will get their refund. In reality, the best way to check the status of a refund is online through the “Where’s My Refund?” tool at or via the IRS2Go mobile app.

Taxpayers eager to know when their refund will be arriving should use the "Where's My Refund" tool rather than calling and waiting on hold or ordering a tax transcript. The IRS updates the status of refunds once a day, usually overnight, so checking more than once a day will not produce new information. “Where’s My Refund” has the same information available to IRS telephone assistants so there is no need to call unless requested to do so by the refund tool.

Myth 3: Ordering a Tax Transcript is a “Secret Way” to Get a Refund Date
Ordering a tax transcript will not help taxpayers find out when they will get their refund. The IRS notes that the information on a transcript does not necessarily reflect the amount or timing of a refund. While taxpayers can use a transcript to validate past income and tax filing status for mortgage, student and small business loan applications and to help with tax preparation they should use “Where’s My Refund?” to check the status of their refund.

Myth 4: “Where’s My Refund,” Must be Wrong Because There’s No Deposit Date Yet
Where's My Refund? ‎on both and the IRS2Go mobile app will be updated with projected deposit dates for early EITC and ACTC refund filers a few days after Feb. 15. Taxpayers claiming EITC or ACTC will not see a refund date on Where's My Refund? ‎or through their software package until then. The IRS, tax preparers and tax software will not have additional information on refund dates.

The IRS cautions taxpayers that these refunds likely will not start arriving in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of Feb. 27 -- if there are no processing issues with the tax return and the taxpayer chose direct deposit. This additional period is due to several factors, including banking and financial systems needing time to process deposits. Taxpayers who have filed early in the filing season, but are claiming EITC or ACTC, should not expect their refund until the week of Feb. 27. The IRS reminds taxpayers that President’s Day weekend may impact when they get their refund since many financial institutions do not process payments on weekends or holidays.

See the What to Expect for Refunds in 2017 page and the Refunds FAQs page for more information.

Myth 5: Delayed Refunds, those Claiming EITC and/or ACTC, will be Delivered on Feb. 15
By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds before Feb. 15 for any tax return claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). The IRS must hold the entire refund, not just the part related to the EITC or ACTC. The IRS will begin to release these refunds starting Feb. 15.

These refunds likely won’t arrive in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of Feb. 27. This is true as long as there is no additional review of the tax return required and the taxpayer chose direct deposit. Banking and financial systems need time to process deposits, which can take several days.

More Information About “Where’s My Refund”
“Where’s My Refund?” can be checked within 24 hours after the IRS has received an e-filed return or four weeks after receipt of a mailed paper return. "Where’s My Refund?" has a tracker that displays progress through three stages: (1) Return Received, (2) Refund Approved and (3) Refund Sent.

Users who access “Where’s My Refund?” on or the IRS2Go app must have information from their current, pending tax return to access their refund information. The IRS reminds taxpayers claiming the EITC or the ACTC that recent legislation requires the IRS to hold those refunds until mid-February. Keep in mind that only a small percentage of total filers will fall into this situation. The change helps ensure that taxpayers get the refund they are owed by giving the IRS more time to help detect and prevent tax fraud.

The IRS continues to strongly encourage the use of e-file and direct deposit as the fastest and safest way to file an accurate return and receive a tax refund. More than four out of five tax returns are expected to be filed electronically, with a similar proportion of refunds issued through direct deposit.