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Mike DiSabatino CPA

A blog by Michael DiSabatino CPA with topics on Tax Savings, Business, Management and more...

December 2017 DiSabatino, CPA Newsletter

news header christmas

December 2017

In this Issue:

  • New Year, New Job: Five Tax Tips for Job Changers
  • Save more in 2018: Retirement contribution and Social Security limits on the rise
  • A Happy Holiday Traditions Quiz
  • Credit Card Transactions Could Pose Audit Risk: What small businesses need to know

This Month:

  • December 12th: Hanukkah Begins
  • December 25th: Christmas Day
  • December 26th: Kwanzaa Begins
  • January 16th: 4th Quarter Estimated Payments Due
  • Take final year-end actions:
    • Deductible gifts
    • Capital gains/losses
    • Charitable giving
    • Dividend income

After an eventful year, we all deserve a happy holiday season and hopefully some well-needed relaxation. While tax reform will continue to be debated, many preliminary figures for 2018 are set. Check out the details inside. The economy and job market have continued to improve, which means you may be considering new work. If you are planning on a change, look at the tax checklist for job changers. Or, if you work for yourself and take credit cards as payment, learn about the new IRS focus on those small business payments.

Looking for something to talk about at the next family gathering? Consider sharing the quiz regarding the sometimes strange origins of popular holiday traditions.

As always, should you know of someone who may benefit from this information please feel free to forward this newsletter to them.

New Year, New Job

Five tax tips for job changers

There are a lot of new things to get used to when you change jobs, from new responsibilities to adjusting to a new company culture. One thing you may not have considered are the tax issues created when you change jobs. Here are tips to reduce any potential tax problems related to making a job change this coming year.

One Don't forget about in-between pay. It is easy to forget to account for pay received while you're between jobs. This includes severance and accrued vacation or sick pay from your former employer. It may also include unemployment benefits. All are taxable but may not have had taxes withheld, causing a surprise at tax time.
Two Adjust your withholdings. A new job requires you to fill out a new Form W-4, which directs your employer how much to withhold from each paycheck. It may not be best to go with the default withholding schedule, which assumes you have been making the salary of your new job all year. You may need to make special adjustments to avoid having too much or too little taken from your paycheck. This is especially true if there is a significant salary change or you have a period of low-or-no income. Luckily, the IRS provides a withholding calculator on its website (IRS Withholding Calculator). Keep in mind you'll have to fill out a new W-4 in the next year to rebalance your withholding for a full year of your new salary.
Year-End Tax Checklist
Three Roll over your 401(k). While you can leave your 401(k) in your old employer's plan, you may wish to roll it over into your new employer's 401(k) or into an IRA. The best way is to get your retirement funds rolled over directly between investment companies. If you take a direct check, you'll have to deposit it into the new account within 60 days, or you may be assessed a 10 percent penalty and pay income tax on the withdrawal.
Four Deduct job-hunting expenses. Tally up your job-seeking expenses. If they and other miscellaneous deductible expenses total more than 2 percent of your adjusted gross income for the year, you can deduct them on an itemized return. This includes things like costs for job-search tools, placement agencies and recruiters, and printing, mailing and travel costs. A couple caveats: you can only use these deductions if your expenses were to search for a job in the same industry as your previous job, and you were not reimbursed for them by your new employer.
Five Deduct moving and home sale expenses. If you moved to take a new job that is at least 50 miles farther from your previous home than your old job was, you can also deduct your moving expenses. There's another benefit for movers, too. Typically, you can only use the $250,000 capital-gain exclusion for home sales if you lived in your primary residence for two of the last five years before you sold it. But there is an exception to the rule if you sold your home to take a new job.

Finding a new job can be an exciting experience, and one that can create tax consequences if not handled correctly. Feel free to call for a discussion of your situation.

 

Save More in 2018

Retirement contribution and Social Security limits on the rise

The maximum contribution to 401(k) accounts rises by $500 in 2018, the first increase in three years. If you have not already done so, now is the time to plan for contributions into your retirement accounts in 2018.

Retirement Contribution Limits

Retirement Program 2018 2017 Change Age 50 or 
over catch up
401(k), 403(b), 457 plans
$18,500
$18,000
+$500 add: $6,000
IRA: Roth
$5,500
$5,500
none add: $1,000
IRA: SIMPLE
$12,500
$12,500
none add: $3,000
IRA: Traditional
$5,500
$5,500
none add: $1,000

Social Security

Item 2018 2017 Change  
Wages subject to Social Security
$128,700
$127,200
+$1,500 Annual Social Security employee tax: $7,979.40
Average estimated monthly retirement benefit
$1,404
$1,360
+$44  

Don't forget to account for any matching programs offered by your employer as you determine your various funding levels for next year.

 

A Happy Holiday Traditions Quiz

While there are many holiday traditions, some of the most popular ones have strange and surprising origins. Get into the festive spirit with a smile by guessing the origins of these traditions:

Question

The Christmas tree originated in 16th century Germany, but didn't become a popular tradition until it was decorated by a certain royal family. Who was the queen who made Christmas trees famous?

Answer Queen Victoria, of the United Kingdom. In 1848, an illustration of Queen Victoria's decorated Christmas tree was published in a London newspaper. The tradition was quickly emulated throughout the United Kingdom and spread to the United States.

Question

Which holiday tradition representing love and romance comes from the Anglo Saxon words meaning "poo on a stick?"

Holiday Traditions
Answer

Mistletoe. This holiday plant is actually a parasite that relies on birds to eat the seeds and dispose of them on other trees. The plant then steals its nourishment from its host tree. To think it now creates the opportunity to steal a kiss from a loved one...


Question

This traditional holiday game has its own league, abbreviated as the MLD. Can you name it?

Answer

Dreidel. This popular game played by spinning a wooden top is part of the Jewish tradition of Hanukkah. A Major League Dreidel (MLD) organization was founded in New York City in 2007.


Question

According to folklore, what 250-year-old sweet has its humble beginnings as a way to keep children quiet during church services?

Answer The candy cane. According to legend, a choirmaster in Germany purchased candy sticks to keep children quiet during holiday services. In the 1800's a curved stick with red stripes quickly made its lasting mark during the holidays representing a shepards staff and handy tree decoration.

Question This holiday tradition was created to promote use of a public service. Can you name it?
Answer The holiday card. The Christmas card was created in England in 1843 as a way to increase public use of the country's new Penny Post mail service. With the increased use of the printing press, holiday cards soon became popular.
 

Credit Card Transactions Could Pose Audit Risk

What small businesses need to know

Small business owners beware: the IRS may more closely scrutinize reporting of credit card transactions after it was criticized for lax enforcement.

The IRS' overseer, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), recently said the IRS had been missing opportunities to audit tax returns that had large discrepancies between income and the card payments reported on Forms 1099-K.

This means small businesses that accept credit, debit or gift card payments can expect to draw the attention of IRS auditors if there are material differences between what is reported on their tax returns and what is on their 1099-Ks.

Tax gap concern driving the scrutiny

TIGTA has estimated an underpayment of more than $450 billion in income taxes every year. In an effort to close this "tax gap," it recommended the IRS focus on some of the larger or more obvious sources of underpayment.

One area TIGTA identified was on Forms 1099-K, where more than 20,000 taxpayers who received them had discrepancies of more than $10,000 on their returns. Calculating from this small sample size, there was at least a $200 million underpayment.

Credit Card Transactions

Who is impacted

If you have a business that accepts payment cards like debit cards or credit cards, you will probably receive a Form 1099-K from your payment processor. The form is also required for anyone who has $20,000 in card payments and 200 transactions or more per year. Examples of those who would receive Forms 1099-K include users of PayPal, sellers on Ebay and Etsy, cab drivers and any small business that accepts card transactions as a form of payment.

Here's how you can prepare

Receiving a Form 1099-K and reporting it in such a way that the IRS is satisfied can be complicated. You could easily double-report your revenue from 1099-Ks out of an excess of caution. Or, you may not be disclosing your correct reporting of card income in a way that IRS audit programs are able to identify. It's often best to get professional guidance to ensure your return does not stick out when the IRS tries to comply with the TIGTA request for more oversight.

 
As always, should you have any questions or concerns regarding your situation please feel free to call.

This newsletter is provided by

DiSabatino CPA 
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Camarillo, CA 93012

Phone: 805-389-7300
Fax:  805-419-5672

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