Click here for our 2020 Year End Tax Letter
Click here for a 2020 Reference Card – Key Facts and Figures
TAX SEASON GUIDANCE – SUBMITTING YOUR TAX DOCUMENTS, APPOINTMENTS & MORE…
The IRS will begin accepting tax returns on February 12, 2021 but we are accepting your tax documents now.
Gathering Your Tax Documents – Additional Information We May Need to File Your 2020 Tax Return.
Economic Impact Payments (a.k.a. Stimulus Payments) – We need to know how much you receive
The economic impact payments (EIP), both the original $1,200 per person and subsequent $600 per person amounts, actually are advance tax credits for the 2020 tax year. Those who did not receive an EIP or did not receive the full amount may be able to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax form, increasing their refund. To determine the amount of credit you may be eligible to claim we need to know how much you received.
According to the IRS you should have received Notice 1444 (EIP-1) and Notice 1444-B (EIP-2) showing the amount of the check, direct deposit or debit card received. Many of our clients have indicated they either did NOT receive these notices OR there was no amount indicated on them.
Please complete the following Client Survey document and submit it with your paperwork.
PPP / EIDL Loans (Business Owners / Rental Real Estate Owners, only)
In a previous email we sent out a PPP/EIDL Questionnaire to our business owners. If you have NOT yet submitted the questionnaire please fill out the below questionnaire and submit with your tax paperwork for EACH entity/business for which you received a PPP Loan or EIDL Grant/Loan.
Other (just a friendly reminder)
Don’t forget to submit your proof of health insurance. Forms to be on the lookout for are 1095-A, B or C and 1099-HC, for MA residents.
How to Submit Your Tax Documents
We strongly encourage all clients to submit tax paperwork electronically. We have a number of ways for you to safely and securely upload your tax documents:
We have migrated to this secure sharing platform for 2021. It is a user-friendly way to quickly upload your tax forms. You can send all formats, PDF, JPEG, word, excel, etc.
Click here to securely upload your 2020 tax documents.
When you click on the link provided you will be asked to enter your email address and name. Please note, the security Captcha is CASE SENSITIVE.
This is an on-line, personalized tax check-list and organizer that allows you to securely and conveniently update your personal data, check for relevant information that may be applicable to your situation, and review your prior-year information to ensure you have accounted for all your tax documents. We sent an invite to My1040Data to many of our clients in a previous email. If you did NOT receive one and would like to utilize this tool, please send a request to participate to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This option works best for clients with LOTS of documents that are not government forms. For instance, if you have rental property and want to share your summary spreadsheets, receipts or invoices or, if you are self-employed and want to send us QuickBooks reports, the portal will be your most efficient option. If you do not yet have a portal and would like to establish one please send a request to email@example.com.
DROP OFF: For our clients that prefer the more traditional methods please mail your paperwork (Priority Mail or certified mail preferred) or drop it off in the locked mailbox next to the front door. We will be checking it regularly throughout the day.
We will contact you via email or phone when your return is completed to set up an appointment, if needed or requested. Appointments are preferred via ZOOM meeting. We have found these to be very effective. We will send you an email invite with a link to attend. Once in the meeting we can share our computer screen and go over your tax return, virtually.
If you do prefer or require an office appointment we have taken every precaution to keep you safe. Staff will be wearing masks and we have equipped our conference table with plexiglass dividers. Additionally, we now schedule only one client at a time in the office. In between appointments we disinfect chairs, desks, and the waiting area. In-person office appointments will be made on a case-by-case basis.
Delivery of your Tax Return
You will have the choice to receive your completed tax return either electronically or via hardcopy mailed Priority Mail to your home. Mailed tax returns will be charged a postage fee of $10.00 per return. Please indicate your preference in the client survey See link above.
What You Need to Know About Your 2020 Taxes – Year-end Tips
1. Understanding the impact of the stimulus check.
Your $1,200 ($2,400 for couples) stimulus payment, officially known as a “Recovery Rebate,” is an advance refundable tax credit on 2020 taxes. This means no matter how much you owe (or don’t owe) in taxes for the 2020 tax year, you get to keep all the money with no taxes due on it.
Since the stimulus payment will either be based on your adjusted gross income (AGI) for 2018 or 2019, but technically applies to your 2020 AGI, there may be some discrepancy. Don’t worry. The news there is good as well.
If it turns out your AGI for 2018 or 2019 (whichever one the IRS bases your stimulus payment on), is lower than 2020, resulting in a higher payment, you can keep the overage. If your AGI for 2018/19 is higher than your AGI in 2020, you can claim the additional amount owed when you file your 2020 taxes in 2021.
This applies to dependents under 17 as well. If someone else claims a child now, based on 2018/19 returns, but you legitimately claim that child on your 2020 return, you will get a $500 tax credit when you file in 2021 and the person who got it based on 2018/19 returns will not have to pay it back. If you have a child in 2020 you can claim the child when you file in 2021 and receive the $500 credit then.
Finally, your recovery rebate is not taxable. It will not add to your taxable income in 2020 (or any other year). All of this is based on the fact that the CARES Act contains no “claw back” mechanism by which the government can reclaim funds that were legitimately extended.
2. Yes, your extra $600 of pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) is taxable income.
The $600 unemployment insurance payments are deemed taxable income and so must be declared on next year’s tax return (for 2020). If you have received UI payments for the entire 17 weeks that will be equivalent to $10,200 in taxable income – on top of any other state unemployment benefits you might have received.
Withholding is voluntary. In Massachusetts it is 10% federal, 5% state, IF you elected to have taxes withheld when you applied for unemployment.
If you have returned to work and do not want to be surprised by a tax bill next April you can use the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator to make sure you are having enough tax taken out of your pay.
If you have not returned to work call our office and we can prepare a projection and provide vouchers to make estimated tax payments.
3. Conduct a paycheck check-up – review your withholdings.
With so many individuals and families experiencing personal, residential and financial changes due to COVID-19, it is critical to review information on Form W-4 to avoid any surprises at tax time. Form W-4 may be changed at any time. Employers are required to update withholdings by the start of the first payroll period ending the 30th day from the date received. The IRS offers a Tax Withholding Estimator tool to assist taxpayers with completing the Form W-4.
4. Everyone is entitled to a charitable deduction this year.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act doubled the standard deduction while repealing or limiting many itemized deductions, leaving millions fewer taxpayers claiming actual itemized deductions. Typically, there is no tax benefit for giving to charity unless you itemize deductions. However, the CARES Act created an above-the-line deduction for cash contributions from taxpayers who don’t itemize. The above-the-line charitable contribution is extended through 2021 at $600 for those married filing jointly and $300 for other filers. This means taxpayers will be able to take the standard deduction and deduct up to $600 in charitable giving when calculating their taxable income. To take advantage of this provision, taxpayers should make sure to donate before the end of the year.
5. Can you take a home office tax deduction if you’ve been working remotely during COVID-19?
Even though the dining room may have been transformed into a conference room, this deduction has many rules and recent tax law changes that may curtail wide use.
DOES MY HOME QUALIFY AS AN OFFICE?
In order to qualify for this deduction, the taxpayer must have a dedicated area of the home used exclusively for conducting business on a regular basis. The IRS defines home for the purposes of this deduction as a house, apartment, condominium, mobile home or boat, and also includes structures on the property like a detached garage, greenhouse, studio or barn. The home must serve as the taxpayer’s principal place of business. Overlap with other activities outside of business can disqualify a space.
MISCELLANEOUS ITEMIZED DEDUCTIONS SUSPENDED THROUGH 2025
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 suspended the miscellaneous itemized deduction for tax years 2018 through 2025. This suspended category of deduction includes unreimbursed EMPLOYEE business expenses, including those associated with setting up and maintaining a home office. As a result, this deduction is not available to the vast majority of taxpayers through 2025, barring future legislative action.
SO WHO CAN TAKE THE HOME OFFICE DEDUCTION?
Partners in a partnership may deduct home office expenses on their individual income tax return provided that the partnership agreement contains language that addresses reimbursement of such expenses and their deductibility. Be sure to review the language of the agreement for specific conditions.
Individuals reporting income on a Schedule C can deduct home office expenses provided they meet the deductibility requirements mentioned above. All other employees and S Corporation shareholders are not able to take the deduction, due to the tax reform provision addressed above.
TRACK AND SUBSTANTIATE EXPENSES
Eligible taxpayers interested in claiming the home office deduction should start tracking expenses now. Remember, any expenses already reimbursed are not eligible. Use Form 8829 to claim the deduction.
6. Can you use retirement funds for coronavirus costs?
The CARES Act permits individuals under the age of 59½ to withdraw up to $100,000 from retirement funds during 2020 for coronavirus costs without triggering the usual 10 percent early withdrawal penalty under Section 72(t). There will be income tax on any coronavirus-related withdrawals, but it can be spread over three years starting in 2020. If you repay the withdrawal to the account within three years, you can avoid the income tax.
7. Should you take your RMD for 2020?
Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) are suspended for 2020 for everyone with IRAs and 401(k)-type accounts (but not defined benefit plans) as a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that became law March 27, 2020.
There are, however, reasons why you might want to do so…
- If you need your RMDs to live off of, you will likely need and want to continue to take the distribution, or part of it.
- If your tax bracket will be higher in the future you may wish to take all or part of your distribution, as this can save you money in the long run.
- If you’ve already taken a distribution you will most likely be unable to return it to your account. Please speak directly to your investment and tax professionals for the most updated guidance.
- If you make an annual charitable distribution, you are permitted to continue to do so.