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2014-08-19 by Eva Rosenberg

Cash donations Today TaxMama® hears from GuideForThePoor in the TaxQuips Forum, who has an interesting question. “Suppose your deductions are too low to itemize, but you still want to give money to charity. Can you give the money to a friend who does itemize – and have the friend donate it to charity and get the deduction?”

 

Dear Guide,

Sure, you are welcome to give your friend any amount of gift you like, up to $14,000 per year, without needing to file a gift tax return.

Your friend is welcome to give all, or part of it, or even more to any charity that you two select.

In fact, this is an excellent way to help charities.

I often advise people who are not in a position to itemize to give their money or household goods to someone who can use the deduction. Wise move.

Bill Porter, EA warns that once you make the gift to your friend, you have no control over that money. If they decide not to donate it, there’s nothing you can do – except not partner with that friend again.

Rita Lewis, EA suggests that if you are close to itemizing, you can use the bunching technique – making a larger donation every other year. Good thoughts from both Bill and Rita.

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about donations and other tax and business issues, free. Where? Where else? At www.TaxMama.com.

[Note: If you were subscribed to the e-mailed version of TaxQuips, you’d be getting other exciting news and tips by e-mail, that never appear on the site. Please click on the join TaxMama.com link – it’s free!]

Please post all Comments and Replies in the new TaxQuips Forum .

 

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Flying High on Puns

2013-07-15 by Eva Rosenberg

1) A plane was coming in for a landing at the Athens airport. As the plane flew was low over some hills , a lady asked the flight attendant: “What’s that stuff on those hills?”

“Just snow,” replied the flight attendant.

“That’s what I thought,” said the lady, “but this fellow in front of me said it was Greece.”

2) An instructor in chemical warfare asked soldiers in his class: “Anyone know the formula for water?”

“Sure. That’s easy,” said one student. It’s H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O.”

“What, what?” exclaimed the instructor in bewilderment.

“H to O,” explained the student.

3) A famous admiral and an equally famous general were fishing together when a sudden squall came up. When it died down both eminent warriors were struggling helplessly in the water.

The admiral floundered his way back to the boat and pulled himself painfully in. Then he fished out the general, using an oar.

Catching his breath, he puffed: “Please don’t say a word about this to anyone. If the Navy found I can’t swim I’d be disgraced.

“Don’t worry,” the general said. “Your secret is safe. I’d hate to have my men find out I can’t walk on water.”

Courtesy of Marilyn Kirschenbaum, who is keeping me laughing this year

Your clean humor is welcome!

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The Accountant, the Tax Attorney and the Actuary

2013-04-19 by

Ask TaxMama - Money Funnies

An accountant tries horseback riding: Yesterday I had a near death experience that has changed me forever. I went horseback riding. Everything was going fine until the horse starts bouncing out of control. I tried with all my might to hang on, but was thrown off. Just when things could not possibly get worse, my foot gets caught in the stirrup. When this happened, I fell head first to the ground. My head continued to bounce harder as the horse did not stop or even slow down. Just as I was giving up hope and losing consciousness the Wal-Mart manager came and unplugged it.

~~~

An accountant, a tax attorney and an actuary were dining together at a fashionable restaurant.

“With income tax being so complicated, we accountants are all doing quite well these days,” the accountant commented. To prove it, he pulled out a $5 bill, applied a match to it and used it to light his cigar.

“With so many people engaging in tax avoidance and the IRS auditing more wealthy taxpayers , we lawyers are also doing very well these days,” the lawyer mused. To prove his point, he got out a $100 bill, applied a match to it and used it to light his cigar.

“With the new Affordable Care Act, we actuaries are doing even better,” the actuary said. To prove it, he wrote out a check for $1 million, applied a match to it and used it to light his cigar.

~~~

The doorbell, rings, and a man answers it. Here stands this plain but well-dressed kid, saying, “Trick or Treat!” The man asks the kids what he is dressed up like for Halloween. The kid replies, “I’m an IRS agent.” Then he takes 40 percent of the man’s candy, leaves, and doesn’t say thank you.

~~~

Courtesy of Robert E. McKenzie, Attorney at Law www.mckenzielaw.com

Your clean humor is welcome!

Read more Money Funnies and Inspiration here:

http://taxmama.com/category/asktaxmama/money-funnies/

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Protect Yourself from the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams

2013-03-29 by

The IRS’s annual ‘Dirty Dozen’ list includes common tax scams that often peak during the tax filing season. The IRS recommends that taxpayers be aware so they can protect themselves against claims that sound too good to be true. Taxpayers who buy into illegal tax scams can end up facing significant penalties and interest and even criminal prosecution.

The tax scams that made the Dirty Dozen list this filing season are:

Identity Theft. Tax fraud through the use of identity theft tops this year’s Dirty Dozen list. Combating identity theft and refund fraud is a top priority for the IRS. The IRS’s ID theft strategy focuses on prevention, detection and victim assistance. During 2012, the IRS protected $20 billion of fraudulent refunds, including those related to identity theft. This compares to $14 billion in 2011. Taxpayers who believe they are at risk of identity theft due to lost or stolen personal information should immediately contact the IRS so the agency can take action to secure their tax account. If you have received a notice from the IRS, call the phone number on the notice. You may also call the IRS’s Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490. Find more information on the identity protection page on IRS.gov.

Phishing. Phishing typically involves an unsolicited email or a fake website that seems legitimate but lures victims into providing personal and financial information. Once scammers obtain that information, they can commit identity theft or financial theft. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from the IRS, send it to phishing@irs.gov.

Return Preparer Fraud. Although most return preparers are reputable and provide good service, you should choose carefully when hiring someone to prepare your tax return. Only use a preparer who signs the return they prepare for you and enters their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). For tips about choosing a preparer, visit www.irs.gov/chooseataxpro.

Hiding Income Offshore. One form of tax evasion is hiding income in offshore accounts. This includes using debit cards, credit cards or wire transfers to access those funds. While there are legitimate reasons for maintaining financial accounts abroad, there are reporting requirements taxpayers need to fulfill. Failing to comply can lead to penalties or criminal prosecution. Visit IRS.gov for more information on the Voluntary Disclosure Program.
“Free Money” from the IRS & Tax Scams Involving Social Security. Beware of scammers who prey on people with low income, the elderly and church members around the country. Scammers use flyers and ads with bogus promises of refunds that don’t exist. The schemes target people who have little or no income and normally don’t have to file a tax return. In some cases, a victim may be due a legitimate tax credit or refund but scammers fraudulently inflate income or use other false information to file a return to obtain a larger refund. By the time people find out the IRS has rejected their claim, the promoters are long gone.

Impersonation of Charitable Organizations. Following major disasters, it’s common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or personal information from well-intentioned people. They may even directly contact disaster victims and claim to be working for or on behalf of the IRS to help the victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds. Taxpayers need to be sure they donate to recognized charities.

False/Inflated Income and Expenses. Falsely claiming income you did not earn or expenses you did not pay in order to get larger refundable tax credits is tax fraud. This includes false claims for the Earned Income Tax Credit. In many cases the taxpayer ends up repaying the refund, including penalties and interest. In some cases the taxpayer faces criminal prosecution. In one particular scam, taxpayers file excessive claims for the fuel tax credit. Fraud involving the fuel tax credit is a frivolous claim and can result in a penalty of $5,000.

False Form 1099 Refund Claims. In this scam, the perpetrator files a fake information return, such as a Form 1099-OID, to justify a false refund claim.

Frivolous Arguments. Promoters of frivolous schemes advise taxpayers to make unreasonable and outlandish claims to avoid paying the taxes they owe. These are false arguments that the courts have consistently thrown out. While taxpayers have the right to contest their tax liabilities in court, no one has the right to disobey the law.

Falsely Claiming Zero Wages. Filing a phony information return is an illegal way to lower the amount of taxes an individual owes. Typically, scammers use a Form 4852 (Substitute Form W-2) or a “corrected” Form 1099 to improperly reduce taxable income to zero. Filing this type of return can result in a $5,000 penalty.

Disguised Corporate Ownership. Scammers improperly use third parties form corporations that hide the true ownership of the business. They help dishonest individuals underreport income, claim fake deductions and avoid filing tax returns. They also facilitate money laundering and other financial crimes.

Misuse of Trusts. There are legitimate uses of trusts in tax and estate planning. But some questionable transactions promise to reduce the amount of income that is subject to tax, offer deductions for personal expenses and reduced estate or gift taxes. Such trusts rarely deliver the promised tax benefits. They primarily help avoid taxes and hide assets from creditors, including the IRS.

For more on the Dirty Dozen, see IRS news release IR-2013-33.

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Don’t Miss the Health Insurance Deduction if You’re Self-Employed

2013-03-29 by

Courtesy of the IRS

If you are self-employed, the IRS wants you to know about a tax deduction generally available to people who are self-employed.

The deduction is for medical, dental or long-term care insurance premiums that self-employed people often pay for themselves, their spouse and their dependents. The insurance can also cover your child who was under age 27 at the end of 2012, even if the child was not your dependent.

You may be able to take this deduction if one of the following applies to you:


  • You had a net profit from self-employment. You would report this on a Schedule C, Profit or Loss From Business, Schedule C-EZ, Net Profit From Business, or Schedule F, Profit or Loss From Farming.

  • You had self-employment earnings as a partner reported to you on Schedule K-1 (Form 1065), Partner’s Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc.

  • You used an optional method to figure your net earnings from self-employment on Schedule SE, Self-Employment Tax.

  • You were paid wages reported on Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, as a shareholder who owns more than two percent of the outstanding stock of an S corporation.

  • There are also some rules that apply to how the insurance plan is established. Follow these guidelines to make sure the plan qualifies:

  • If you’re self-employed and file Schedule C, C-EZ, or F, the policy can be in your name or in your business’ name.

  • If you’re a partner, the policy can be in your name or the partnership’s name and either of you can pay the premiums. If the policy is in your name and you pay the premiums, the partnership must reimburse you and include the premiums as income on your Schedule K-1.

  • If you’re an S corporation shareholder, the policy can be in your name or the S corporation’s name and either of you can pay the premiums. If the policy is in your name and you pay the premiums, the S corporation must reimburse you and include the premiums as wage income on your Form W-2.


For more information, see Publication 535, Business Expenses. It’s available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

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