So, can I claim my dogs and other pets as dependents or take their vet bills, grooming, training, food etc. as a deduction because I love them very much and they are part of the family?
You can if you are in the pet business. Either as a trainer, shower, breeder or some other form of business where your pets earn income and you and your pets are in business. But, unfortunately, no if you just love them very much and are part of the family.
If I claim my child as a dependent because he/she is a full-time college student, can he/she claim their own personal exemption when they file a return for the same year?
If you can claim an exemption for your child as a dependent on your income tax return, he/she cannot claim their own personal exemption on their income tax return.
• If an individual is filing his or her own tax return, and the individual can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return, the individual cannot claim his or her own personal exemption.
• In this case, your child should check the box on her return indicating that someone else can claim them as a dependent.
• We are happy to prepare a dependent child’s return for a flat rate of $75 when the parent is already a client, to ensure the exemption is taken correctly.
How much does an unmarried dependent student have to make before he or she has to file an income tax return?
If you are an unmarried dependent student, you must file a tax return if your earned and/or unearned income exceeds certain limits.
• To find these limits refer to Dependents under Who Must File, in Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information. For the 2015 tax filing year, students with unearned income of more than $1,000 or earned income of more than $6,300 are required to file.
• Even if you do not have to file, you should file a federal income tax return if you can get money back (for example, you had income tax withheld from your pay; you qualify for the earned income credit; or you qualify for the additional child tax credit).
I retired last year, and started receiving social security payments. Do I have to pay taxes on my social security benefits?
Social security benefits include monthly retirement, survivor, and disability benefits. They do not include supplemental security income (SSI) payments, which are not taxable. The amount of social security benefits that must be included on your income tax return and used to calculate your income tax liability depends on the total amount of your income and benefits for the taxable year.
To find out whether any of your benefits may be taxable, we need to compare the base amount for your filing status with the total of:
• One-half of your benefits.
• All of your other income, including tax-exempt interest.
The base amount for your filing status is shown next:
• $25,000 if you are single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er),
• $25,000 if you are married filing separately and lived apart from your spouse for the entire year,
• $32,000 if you are married filing jointly.
• $-0- if you are married filing separately and live with your spouse at any time during the tax year.
If you are married and file a joint return, we must combine your incomes and social security benefits when figuring the taxable portion of your benefits. Even if your spouse did not receive any benefits, we must add your spouse’s income to yours when figuring if any of your benefits are taxable, if a joint return is going to be file.
How do I know if I have to file quarterly individual estimated tax payments?
You must make estimated tax payments for the current tax year if both of the following apply:
1. You expect to owe at least $1,000 in tax for the current tax year, after subtracting your withholding and refundable credits.
2. You expect your withholding and refundable credits to be less than the smaller of:
• 90% of the tax to be shown on your current year’s tax return, or
• 100% of the tax shown on your prior year’s tax return. (Your prior year tax return must cover all 12 months.)
There are special rules for: Farmers and fishermen, Certain household employers, Certain higher income taxpayers, Nonresident aliens.
What are the benefits of e-file?
These are the benefits of e-filing:
• Convenience. We can electronically file your return for you without the cost or hassle of mailing.
• Security. Your tax return information is encrypted and transmitted over secure lines to ensure confidentiality.
• Accuracy. Electronic filed returns have 13 percent fewer errors than paper returns.
• Direct Deposit & Withdrawal. You can have your refund direct deposited into your bank account or withdrawn if you have a remaining tax liability, but the choice is yours a paper check is still an option.
• Proof of Filing. An acknowledgment is issued when your return is received and accepted.
What can I expect to pay for your services?
We base our fees on the amount of time it takes us to complete each engagement at our standard billing rates plus out-of-pocket expense. Tax returns and many of our other services vary considerably by the complexity of the project and the organization of the data given to us (i.e, if we can receive all of the data at one time verses pieces over several weeks we can reduce the time we spend on your project and thus lower the cost to you). Standard Billing Rates: Our CPA services including meetings, tax consulting and planning or projections are $125 – $200 per hour. Our tax preparers will be working on your tax return and will be assigned based on their expertise and your situation to match-up our talent and skills to your needs; our tax preparers’ time is $75 – $150 per hour. Clerical and bookkeeping services needed are added at a cost of $51 to $72 per hour based on the type of service required.
Additional Fees: Tax returns also receive a software processing fee that is assessed by our software provider and delineated separately on your invoice from our professional fees; this fee starts at $35 per return for individual returns and $65 per return for business returns and will increase for various additional authorizations including multiple state returns. Other miscellaneous additional expenses we typically experience include postage and fees paid to the Secretary of State on behalf of our business clients.
I would like to meet with you prior to deciding on a CPA; is there a charge for this meeting?
We understand the need for a meeting prior to deciding on or choosing a CPA and the sharing of your personal and confidential information. We are happy to meet with you free of charge for up to 30 minutes (this meeting can be face-to-face, phone conference or via Skype). This meeting is designed to see if your needs can be satisfied by our services and ultimately determine if you feel comfortable with our personnel and personalities.
Our business is knowledge based. The sharing and application of this knowledge is what our business is all about. Therefore, this initial complementary meeting is not designed to be a tax consultation or business planning meeting. However, if you would prefer our first meeting to be a question and answering session where you are asking for our knowledge and expertise, then we have transitioned into the type of services we charge for and the cost for a 30 minute meeting would be approximately $75.
What if I owe money?
Many people wonder if filing electronically means paying electronically; not necessarily. You can pay your balance due by check or electronically through a bank withdrawal. Individual taxes are normally due by April 15th to avoid interest and penalty charges, even if you return is not finished and you need an extension of time to file taxes are still considered due.