Don't fall for fake charity scams
After disaster strikes, people often want to help those in need. Unfortunately, this is also when fake charities pop up. The IRS recently reported an uptick in emerging charity scams since hurricanes Harvey, Irma and others made landfall.
Scammers commonly take advantage of donators with emails that steer people to fake websites asking for donations and other financial information. These fraudulent websites usually claim to be affiliated with authentic organizations. They try to get you to make donations or disclose your personal information.
If you're planning on donating to a charity, follow these rules:
Worker classification remains a priority with the IRS
The IRS continues to seek back taxes and penalties from businesses that wrongly treat workers as contractors. Unreported or underreported employment taxes make up a big chunk of the overall federal tax gap. The Labor and Justice departments and the states also have vital roles to play in ensuring that workers are properly classified by the businesses they work for.
The stakes have always been high…lost taxes for federal and state governments and fewer benefits for workers who are improperly treated as contractors. And their importance is magnified with the growth in freelance service gigs…much of it through the sharing economy with Uber, Rover, Grubhub and the like.
To classify workers, the IRS uses three tests, each made up of multiple factors:
The behavioral test focuses on whether the company controls or has the right to control what the worker does and how to do the job. Key factors for employee status
include instructions about performing the work, evaluation criteria and training.
Illinois Enacts Invest In Kids credit
Illinois has enacted the Invest in Kids credit that may be claimed against income tax liability for contributions to organizations that grant scholarships.
Invest in Kids Credit
Both corporations and individuals may take the Invest in Kids credit. Taxpayers will receive an Invest in Kids credit from the Department of Revenue when:
- They make a contribution to a nonprofit organization;
- The organization uses at least 95% of the contributions received each year for scholarships; and
When should you retire? Consult this checklist of questions
The question sounds simple, but it is tough to answer: At what age should you retire?
I get this question from readers and friends more often than any other. It is difficult to answer because it brings into play such a wide range of issues: Do I have enough money to retire? What will I do with my time in retirement? Will I have adequate medical coverage? When should I claim Social Security?
The answers are highly subjective and personal.
Your receipts are important: save them
When it comes to taking qualified deductions on your federal tax return, three things must happen: (1) Recognize that an expense might be deductible on your tax return; (2) keep a record of the expense in an organized fashion; and, (3) obtain the proper (and timely) documentation to support your deduction.
This might be obvious to most people, but here are some typical areas where taxpayers often fall short. In the long run, these items could end up costing you plenty during tax filing season, and trigger IRS audits.
1. Cash donations to charity. To deduct and support your deduction to a qualified charity you must have valid support. Donations of cash are no longer deductible if they are not supported by a canceled check or written acknowledgement from the charity. A donation deduction of $250 or more needs to be supported by documentation created at the time of the donation. A canceled check and bank statement are not sufficient. If you get audited, having the charity issue documentation after the fact may not be enough.
6 tax tips for startups
Taxes are rarely the first thing that entrepreneurs think about. With that in mind, the IRS put together a short-list of tax related considerations for start-up businesses.
1. Pick a business structure. One of the first things you will need to decide is how to structure your business – as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, an S or C corporation, and so on. Each comes with different tax rules and different filing requirements, so the advice of an expert is invaluable.
2. Pick a tax year. How and when a business files its taxes is determined by its tax year, which can either match the calendar year, or be a fiscal year of any 12 consecutive months. In most cases, the business owner can choose whichever works best for them. But, calendar years are required for businesses with no books or records, no annual accounting period, or in certain circumstances laid out in the Internal Revenue Code or the income tax regs.