March 30, 2012
Are you still dealing with your 2011 tax return? Do you owe a bigger tax bill than you expected? Are you missing a tax break because your adjusted gross income is too high? Would you like a bigger refund? Don’t despair. You might still have time to make some changes. For example:
* You have until April 17 to make a tax-deductible IRA contribution for 2011. If you qualify, you could contribute up to $5,000 and have it count as a deduction against last year’s taxes. If you were 50 years old or older last year, your maximum contribution is $6,000.
* Even if you’ve already made your 2011 contribution to a Roth IRA, it may not be too late to make a change. You may be able to recharacterize your contribution as a traditional IRA contribution and take the deduction. You’ll need to set up a traditional IRA, make a trustee-to-trustee transfer, and report it on your 2011 tax return. Get details before you try this to make sure you avoid any tax traps.
*If you’re self-employed, there’s still time to set up a SEP-IRA for your business. You have until the due date of your return, including extensions, to set up the plan and make a contribution from 2011 earnings. SEP-IRAs are relatively easy to establish and flexible to manage.
Contact our office if you’re interested in any of these ideas. We can help determine whether you qualify and guide you through the process.
March 27, 2012
If your flex plan at work allows a 2½ month grace period for using the pre-tax dollars you set aside for 2011, be aware that a final deadline is approaching. You have until March 15, 2012, to use the funds you set aside for 2011 or you forfeit any leftover dollars.
March 23, 2012
If you reached age 70½ last year, April 2, 2012, could be an important deadline. That’s the last day you can take your required minimum distribution (RMD) for 2011 from your traditional IRAs. If you miss that deadline, the penalty could be a 50% excise tax on the amount you should have withdrawn.
Here’s how the rules work. Once you reach age 70½, you must start taking annual distributions from your traditional IRAs. Normally these distributions must occur by December 31 of each year. But a special rule lets you defer the first distribution until April of the year after you reach age 70½. So if you turned 70½ last year, April 2 is the deadline for your 2011 distribution. Be aware that you’ll still need to take your 2012 RMD before the end of this year.
Generally, the amount of the RMD for any year is based on your age. You take the balance in all your traditional IRAs as of the last day of the previous year, and divide by a factor representing your life expectancy. The IRS has published a standard life expectancy table to use in the calculation. Special rules might apply if your spouse is more than ten years younger than you are.
Because all or part of your distribution may be taxable income, it is important to include RMDs in your tax planning. Ideally you should start planning for RMDs several years before you reach age 70½. But whether you’re planning in advance or looking at a distribution on April 2, contact our office for more detailed advice.
The RMD rules don’t apply to Roth IRAs. Unless you’re still working, this deadline also applies to your other retirement accounts.
March 16, 2012
If you took certain actions in a prior year, you may now have additional taxes due on your 2011 tax return. Here are the details.
HOME BUYER CREDIT: If you bought a home in 2008 and took the first-time home buyer credit, you have another repayment installment due with your 2011 tax return. The 2008 tax credit was just an interest-free loan that you have to pay back over a 15-year period.
ROTH CONVERSIONS: If you converted a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA in 2010 and opted to split the tax due from the conversion between 2011 and 2012, your first half of the tax` is due on your 2011 tax return.
March 9, 2012
To encourage taxpayers with assets in offshore accounts to bring their tax filing obligations current, the IRS has reopened its “offshore voluntary disclosure program.”
Similar programs in 2009 and 2011 resulted in the collection of more than $4.4 billion of taxes owed.
The new program has a few key differences from the previous two, including no deadline for applying and a top penalty increase from 25% to 27.5%. The IRS warns that the terms of the current program could be changed at any time.
If you have foreign accounts and need details or filing assistance, contact our office.
March 6, 2012
The IRS has just announced that more than $1 billion in tax refunds for the year 2008 remain unclaimed by a million taxpayers who failed to file a return for that year. The tax law provides a three-year period for claiming a refund when no return is filed. That means these individuals must file a tax return for 2008 no later than Tuesday, April 17, 2012, or their refunds will be lost.