Friday, January 15, 2016

Tax Law Changes For Tax Year 2015

What has happened in Washington D.C.?
For the first time in a long time, there's been a spasm of bipartisan lawmaking and deal hatching that has averted government shutdowns and global hand wringing.
Last month's tax package is the latest example. It made permanent a number of tax breaks scheduled to expire practically every year, only to be extended at the last minute (or, in one case, after Jan. 1).
This kind of of jerk-chain legislation frustrated taxpayers and tax practitioners. As if the tax code wasn't confusing enough.
But this recent act of true governance stands to benefit all walks of life – teachers, parents, retirees with IRAs. And residents of that state north of the Oregon border that imposes no income tax and shall not yet be named.
It's a great way to kick off tax season. Here's another: Oregonians don't need to pay their state and federal tax bills until Monday, April 18 -- three days later than usual.  That's thanks to Emancipation Day, a Washington-D.C.-only-holiday that falls on April 15 because the normal holiday, April 16, hits the calendar on a Saturday this year.
The extension deadline for filing your return also differs. It's Oct. 17 instead of Oct. 15. Still, you need to pay any tax you owe for 2015 by April 18. Otherwise, you face late-payment penalties .
"An extension to file is not an extension to pay," Oregon Department of Revenuespokesman Robert Estabrook said.
As Estabrook's colleagues and the Internal Revenue Service gear up to accept tax returns Jan. 19, let's look at what expiring federal tax breaks were made permanent.
Enhanced child tax credit. This credit provides $1,000 per child under age 17. For many taxpayers, the credit can be refundable, meaning it can produce a refund even when the taxpayer owes no tax. In 2009, Congress expanded the refundable credit by reducing the income threshold at which it could be claimed from $10,000 to $3,000. Now, that lower threshold has been made permanent.
American Opportunity Tax Credit. In 2009, this credit replaced the Hope scholarship credit. But it was slated to expire in two years. Now it's permanent. And no wonder: In 2013, 10.4 million federal taxpayers reaped $9.25 billion from this credit, or about $890 each, IRS data show.
The credit covers the first $2,000 of college tuition and materials and 25% of the next $2,000. That's a maximum of $2,500 for each of the first four years of college. Taxpayers whose modified adjusted gross income is more than $80,000 (or $160,000 for couples filing jointly) receive a reduced credit. Those whose income exceeds $90,000 (or $180,000 for couples) are ineligible.
Part of the credit is refundable for most taxpayers who qualify. By comparison, the Hope credit was smaller, wasn't refundable, phased out at lower income levels and was only available for the first two years of college.
Educators' deduction. Score one for teachers. Congress made permanent the $250 deduction for unreimbursed educator expenses, and also sweetened it a bit.
The deduction amount will now be indexed for inflation (it hadn't changed in years). And starting in 2016, primary and secondary teachers can deduct the cost of professional development courses. Counselors, aides and principals also can claim the deduction, though aides must work at least 900 hours a year.
It's a popular break. In 2013, nearly 33,400 Oregon taxpayers claimed the deduction, averaging $241, according to Oregon Department of Revenue data.
Sales tax deduction. Poor Washingtonians. They can't take itemized deductions for  state income taxes like Oregonians can because THEY DON'T PAY INCOME TAX! Instead, Congress had allowed them to deduct sales taxes in lieu of income taxes. In 2013, nearly 850,000 Washington taxpayers deducted a total of $2 billion in sales taxes, IRS stats show.
That break had been scheduled to expire in 2014. It's now been reinstated for 2015 and all years forward. Washingtonians, I'm told, can either tally the actual taxes paid by adding up their receipts. Or they can use a table provided by the IRS. Lucky them.
Transit benefits. Congress finally brought some sanity to employer-provided transit perks. For 2015, employers could have provided workers a pre-tax benefit of up to $250 a month for parking, vanpool and transit passes. That will bump up to $255 in 2016. Had Congress not acted, vanpool and transit pass perks would've dropped to $130 while parking passes would've remained at $250.
Earned income tax credit. This credit provides a big boost for low- and moderate-income workers. It phases out as income increases. It also differs based on the number of children in a household. The credit for families with three or more children (45 percent of earnings up to $13,870) was set to expire in 2017.  It's now permanent. So is a higher income phase-out amount for married couples filing jointly. Now, the credit will phase out for couples earning more than $23,630, instead of for those making more than $18,110.
Charitable IRA distributions. Retirees age 70-and-a-half and older can make tax-free donations directly to charities from their IRAs. This effectively reduces their annual required minimum distribution from their traditional IRAs and does not increase their adjusted gross income.  This benefit is capped at $100,000 a year.  It had expired at the end of 2014, but this move reinstates it for 2015 and makes it permanent going forward. The donation must be made directly from an IRA to the charity to qualify.
It mainly benefits seniors who don't itemize their deductions or who might, by reducing their required minimum distribution, also be able to reduce the amount of their Social Security income subject to tax. Talk to your tax adviser to see if it benefits you.
Temporary extensions: Several expiring breaks were merely extended through 2016, including deductions for higher education expenses and mortgage insurance premiums, certain energy-efficiency tax credits and an exclusion for mortgage debt forgiven during the financial crisis.
A few business tax breaks  also were extended, either permanently or through 2019. Business owners should talk with their tax adviser about how those might help.

-- Brent Hunsberger is an investment adviser representative and certified financial planner in Portland. For important disclosures and information about Hunsberger, visit Reach him at 503-683-3098

Friday, February 20, 2015

Did You Buy Health Coverage Through You May Want To Wait To File Until March

800,000 Taxpayers Received Wrong Tax Info from Health Insurance Marketplace

Approximately 800,000 taxpayers who received health care coverage through the federal insurance marketplace were sent the wrong information on their Form 1095-A and are being urged to wait to file their taxes until the first week of March when they receive the correct information from the federal government.
Diane Black
“About 20 percent of the tax filers who had Federally-facilitated Marketplace coverage in 2014 and used tax credits to lower their premium cost —about 800,000 (< 1% of total tax filers) —will soon receive an updated Form 1095-A because the original version they were issued listed an incorrect benchmark plan premium amount,” said a blog post on the Web site of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “Based upon preliminary estimates, we understand that approximately 90-95% of these tax filers haven’t filed their tax return yet. We are advising them to wait until the first week of March when they receive their new form or go online for correct information before filing. For those who have filed their taxes—approximately 50,000 (< 0.05% of total tax filers) —the Treasury Department will provide additional information soon.”
CMS noted that taxpayers who received health coverage under the Affordable Care Act should have received a statement in the mail in February from the health insurance marketplace called a Form 1095-A. The statement includes important information needed to complete and file their tax returns. One piece of information included on the 1095-A is the premium amount for the “second lowest cost Silver plan” in the taxpayer’s area. This premium amount represents the benchmark plan used to determine the amount of premium tax credit they were eligible to receive. Unfortunately that information was calculated incorrectly for many taxpayers, although CMS stressed that it won’t be an issue for the majority who received health coverage through
CMS noted that taxpayers whose forms were affected will receive a phone call about the problem from the Marketplace by early March, in addition to letters and emails with additional information about the status of their forms. “It’s important to note that this issue does not affect the majority of Marketplace consumers and only affects people who signed up through one of the 37 states using,” said CMS. “About 80 percent of Marketplace consumers who received a 1095-A from the federal Marketplace do not have affected forms and should go ahead and file their annual tax return. Additionally, this issue does not mean that consumers received the incorrect amount of tax credit throughout the year. It’s also important to note that this does not affect the vast majority of tax filers who will just need to check a box on their tax return to indicate that they had health coverage in 2014 either through their employer, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans care, or other qualified health coverage programs.“
Taxpayers who are concerned about the status of their 1095-A forms can find out if they are affected by logging in to their account at They will see a notice message that will let them know if their form was or was not affected.  Approximately 90 percent of tax filers with Marketplace coverage through who received a 1095-A will find that their form was not affected by the issue, according to CMS, and will be able to file their taxes with their current form.
If their form was affected, CMS advised them to wait to file their tax return until they receive a corrected 1095-A Form from the Marketplaces. New forms will be sent from the Marketplace beginning in early March and taxpayers will also receive a message in their Marketplace account on
If taxpayers need to file their taxes before them, CMS is making available a tool to help them determine the correct amount of the second lowest cost Silver plan that applied to their household in 2014. They can also call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325) for assistance.
CMS said it acted quickly once it learned about the problem. “As soon as we discovered the error, we immediately began examining who was affected, how to communicate about the error, and how to make the corrections process as simple as possible for consumers,” said CMS. “We are committed to making sure that consumers who need corrected forms are contacted with updates and will receive new forms quickly. We are focused on making sure that every Marketplace consumer understands how taxes and health care intersect and if they need to get a corrected form, the steps they need to take.”
Separately, CMS also announced Friday that it will implement a special enrollment period for individuals who learn, at the time they file their taxes, of the Affordable Care Act-mandated tax penalty for not having health insurance coverage (see CMS Announces Special Tax Season ACA Enrollment Period).
At least one lawmaker in Congress expressed her outrage about the glitch. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., a member of the House Ways & Means Health Subcommittee and a nurse for more than 40 years, said in a statement, “The Obama Administration has built a healthcare law so complex, so confusing, and so costly that even they don’t know how to properly administer it. From a faulty website, to staggering cost estimates, to more Administration-led delays, the hits just keep coming under Obamacare. Now, the White House tells us in a classic Friday news dump that nearly one million Americans could see their tax refunds delayed because of this President’s inability to implement his own law. This is beyond embarrassing for President Obama and is an unfair blow to taxpayers who are once again left holding the bag for this Administration’s incompetence. Moreover, it is yet another example of why the House voted earlier this month with my support to repeal this disastrous law once and for all.” 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Your Client Portal

SmartVault is the company we are using for our new Client Portal. You can access your Client Portal several different ways. Including apps on your phone or tablet and going directly through the web page. This gives you and MB Tax Pro a secure place to share files. You will have a "Correspondence" folder and a folder for your tax returns. This is our preferred method of electronic communication and safest way to share your personal information online.

We will invite you and you will be asked to set up a password and sign into your Client Portal. You will only need to do this once and then you will be good to go.

Turn your phone into a mobile scanner. Genius Scan is a great way to take those files from your mailbox and turn them into PDFs and send them to us. Click the link, download it on your phone or tablet.

Client Portal Website:
The website is great for PDFs, Excell worksheets, QuickBooks files (backup copies) and other files you may need to share with us. There are also apps for your computer. Add on buttons for Outlook, Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Xero and your computer itself. An easy way to take a document and send it to your Client Portal

Client Portal App:
Use your iPad or iPhone to send us documents.

Download the app

After you download the app you will sign in and now you have your secure Client Portal on your mobile device. Simply take a picture of the documents and add it to your file. And you are good to go.

Your Client Portal link is:

Click the link, sign in and start sharing your important tax documents with us.

Monday, January 19, 2015

What Are The Requirements For Form 1099

Who Am I Supposed to 1099? And When Are They Due?

Filling out your 1099-Misc for Vendors in 2013

There a several different types of 1099s that exist in the federal 1099 information reporting series. However, one of the most popular forms that small businesses need to file is the Form 1099-MISC.

What is a Form 1099-MISC?
Form 1099-MISC is essentially an information report that is required to be sent to certain recipients who have been paid during the year in the course of a trade or business. A copy of the Form 1099-MISC is also reported to the Internal Revenue Service (and some states) for their records as well. Failure to file a required 1099 may result in denied expense deductions upon audit and additional penalties and fees (typically $30 to $100 per missed filing for federal purposes).

Form 1099-MISC Filing Requirements
Form 1099-MISC is required to be filed in several instances. However, some of the most common examples are as follows:
  • Non-employee Compensation/Independent Contractors – required when $600 or more is paid during the year to a non-employee. Includes payment for professional services (fees to attorneys, accountants, engineers, repairman, etc.).
  • Rents – all types when the amount paid is $600 or more (unless made to a real estate agent). Examples include real estate rentals for office space, machine rentals, etc.
  • Royalties- amounts that exceed $10. Examples include payments to authors, musicians, artists, etc.
  • Direct Re-sellers – required when sales are made in the amount of $5,000 or more of consumer products anywhere other than to a permanent retail establishment.

1099-MISC Filing Exemptions

There are a few cases when Form 1099-MISC does not need to be filed even though it may have met the aforementioned requirements.  A few examples are as follows:
  • Note that 1099-MISC generally do not need to be issued to corporations.
  • Amount paid via credit card, debit card, or third-party settlement company (i.e., PayPal) should not be reported on a 1099-MISC as they will be now be reported on Form 1099-K by the bank or third-party.

Tax Reporting of 1099-MISC

There is now a question on tax returns which specifically ask if a business was required to issue 1099s and if so, whether they were filed.  Therefore, the IRS has implemented extra measures to make sure the 1099s are filed and will likely begin strictly enforcing the rules.  It is advised to collect a Form W-9 from all vendors so that 1099s can be issued if needed.

Form 1099-MISC Due Date
Form 1099-MISC is due each year to the recipient by January 31 and to the IRS by the last day of February. However, if filing your 1099-MISC electronically the date is extended to March 31st. Each state also varies with its deadlines and requirements. For example, North Carolina 1099-MISC reflecting NC income tax withheld must be submitted by the last day of February.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Show Me The Money!

Where's My Refund?


If you already filed your federal tax return and are due a refund, you have several options to check on your refund. Here are some things the IRS wants you to know about checking the status of your refund. "Where’s My Refund?" is an interactive tool on and is the fastest, easiest way to get information about your federal income tax refund. Whether you split your refund among several accounts, opted for direct deposit into one account, used part of your refund to buy U.S. Savings Bonds or asked the IRS to mail you a check, Where’s My Refund? gives you online access to your refund information, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s quick, easy and secure. If you e-file, you can get refund information 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your return. If you file a paper return, refund information will generally be available three to four weeks after mailing your return. When checking the status of your refund, have your federal tax return handy. To get your personalized refund information you must enter your Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, your filing status which will be Single, Married Filing Joint Return, Married, Filing Separate Return, Head of Household, or Qualifying Widow(er), AND the exact whole dollar refund amount shown on your tax return. IRS2Go is is the IRS’ first smartphone application that lets taxpayers check on the status of their tax refund. Apple users can download the free IRS2Go application by visiting the Apple App Store. Android users can visit the Android Marketplace to download the free IRS2Go app.


Want to check on the status of your Oregon personal income tax refund? With just your name, your Social Security number, and last year's Oregon Taxable Income, you can look up your status online! It's safe, it's secure, and it's really easy, just go to "Where's My Refund?" and follow the steps online.


You will need the following to check the status of your California personal income tax refund: Your social security number, your mailing address, and the refund amount shown on your tax return. For more information and to check on your refund, see "Where's My Refund California?"


Generally, you'll get your refund in six to eight weeks from the date we receive your return. You'll get it faster if you e-file your return and have your refund deposited directly into your bank account. If we identify an issue with a tax return, our review may take longer than six to eight weeks.
To check the status of your refund, see Income Tax Refund Status.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

April Newsletter

Website & App We Love

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Free online language learning with lessons, courses and other language-learning activities. Our fun and effective language lessons are available in 35 languages. Registration, lessons, and access to native speakers are FREE!

Pick Ups & Extensions

The tax deadline is fast approaching.  We will be serving snacks and beverages on April 14th and 15th for any clients who want to stop by and help us celebrate another tax season close. If your tax return is done and ready to be picked up you are welcome to stop by anytime between 10:00 and 6:00 Monday thru Friday and 10:00 and 5:00 on Saturdays.  Other times can be arranged by appointment.  You can also pay by phone and have your forms mailed or emailed to you.  If you have not met with us or dropped off your tax information yet then we will need to put you on extension.  Please contact our office to give us permission to file your extension for you.   
Where's My Refund?

If you already filed your tax return and are due a refund, you have several options to check on your refund. You can find your IRS, Oregon, California and New York refund on our blog. You will need your blue folder as they will ask you specific questions.

Office Hours & April 15th 

We are wrapping up the full time office hours that we keep during our busy tax season.  The office will be closed from Tuesday, April 16th through Monday, April 28th. If you haven't completed your 2013 taxes with us yet and need an extension, please let us know.  All extensions and completed 2013 tax returns must be filed by April 15th. All tax is due on April 15th, whether or not you have filed a completed tax return, so if you think you may owe tax, please let us know that as well when filing your extension. If you receive any correspondence from the IRS, Oregon, the City of Portland, or any other entity regarding your taxes, please email it over right away to , or fax it over to 503.282.0513.  Happy Spring! 

1st Quarter Estimated Tax Payment Due 

Your first quarter estimated tax payment is due on April 15th.  If you have any questions about this first payment please call or email the office at 503.595.5890 or and we will do our best to help you.

April 9 - The Joyners in 3D signing with David Marquez and Tara Rhymes 

David Marquez is the New York Times bestselling artist of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, All-New X-Men and Fantastic Four: Season One, and made his comics debut with writer R.J. Ryan in 2010 with the graphic novel Syndrome. David is based in Portland, OR.

Tara Rhymes earned her BFA at the University of Texas at Austin with a focus in Studio Art and Transmedia.  The Joyners in 3D markes her comics debut, co-developing the 3D process used in the book.  She lives and works in Portland, OR.

For more information, visit:

Important Dates ImportantDates
Apr 15th - 1st Quarter Estimated Tax Payment (2014 tax)
Apr 15th - Individuals, Partnerships, LLCs DUE

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How To Avoid and Survive an IRS Audit

Every year, the Internal Revenue Service examines (aka audits) a small percentage of U.S. tax returns to verify that the tax reported is correct. Both individual returns and corporate returns can be subject to an IRS audit.

​How to avoid — and survive — an IRS audit

What are my chances of being audited?

You are more likely to get struck by lightning. That may be an exaggeration, but the reality is that most taxpayers have only about a 1 percent chance of being audited by the IRS. If your annual income is more than $5 million, your chance of being audited goes up to 20 percent. Ironically, if you have no income, your chance of being audited is 3 percent.

The overall audit rate for business tax returns fell from 0.71 percent in 2012 to 0.61 percent in 2013, but audit rates are higher for small C-corps than for partnerships and S-corps. For small corporations (assets less than $10 million), the audit rate in 2013 was 0.95 percent.

Why would I get selected?
Being selected for an audit does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with your return. The primary way the IRS selects taxpayers to be audited is through computer scoring, known as the Discriminant Inventory Function system (DIF). Your return is entered into the computer and assigned a numerical score based on a variety of factors. Audit “risk” factors include low gross profit margin, high deductions such as auto, travel and entertainment expenses, and little or no profit from business operations.

Additional factors that can trigger an audit include when taxable income on your return doesn’t match amounts reported on forms to the IRS (W-2, 1099), mathematical errors, charitable contributions disproportionate to your income, claiming the home office deduction, and complex business or investment transactions.

Are there different types of IRS audits?

There are three main types:

Correspondence audit: You mail in specific information requested by the IRS. This type of audit is the most common and least cumbersome.

Office audit: You take specific information requested by the IRS to their office.

Field audit: The IRS agent personally comes to your place of business. You are wise to have your attorney or accountant present for this meeting.

How can I survive an IRS audit?

First of all, don’t take it personally and don’t panic.

Next, seek professional advice if you feel you need it or want it (probably a good idea). You could ask a tax professional to look at the IRS notice and give you some suggestions. 

I had a client whose business underwent a correspondence audit. After we discussed the notice, she prepared schedules and documentation that she sent to us to review before mailing them to the IRS. She saved money on our preparation fees, but still felt confident in the information she was submitting.

Remember, you can postpone the audit if you need more time.

Here are some other tips:

  • Don’t host the audit if you can avoid it. Instead, try to go to the IRS office, or have a tax professional handle it in their office.
  • Only provide the information that they are requesting. Less is more!
  • If you are missing receipts or documents, you are allowed to reconstruct records.
  • Be organized and prepared. It gives you credibility if you can answer their questions and produce requested documents.
  • Know your rights. Read IRS Publication 1, “Your Rights as a Taxpayer.”

How to know if it's a scam

It’s important to note that the IRS does not contact taxpayers via email, text messages or social media. If you receive an email from the IRS, it is a scam! If you have questions about any notifications you receive, you can contact the IRS directly via phone or in person at a local IRS office, or you can consult your accountant.

Lisa Kahn Grossman is an associate principal in the Entrepreneurial Services department of Kaufman Rossin. She works with entrepreneurs, high-net worth individuals, and nonprofits. She is a certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the State of Florida, and a member of both the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants.