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Tax FACTS

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DID YOU KNOW. . . . ?

 

DIRECT DEPOSIT is the safest & fastest way to receive your refund right from the IRS! (We like the ‘safest’ part.) You can even split the deposit into up to three bank accounts–this helps you manage your money better, using part of the refund for an immediate need and saving the rest for the future!
So, avoid lost or stolen checks and checks that are returned to the IRS as ‘undeliverable’–which, according to them, happens QUITE often!  Request DIRECT DEPOSIT for your tax refund.  Be sure you have your bank account number(s) and routing number(s) to give to Sandpiper along with your other documents used  for tax prep.  Call us for more information on e-file and direct deposit OR about ANYTHING else on this page or on your mind.  We are here to serve.
**FYI** Refunds will more than likely take longer than in previous years. No one should expect a refund in less than 21 days, and some may take up to 75 days (or longer!)  The delays are due to the increase in tax fraud and identity theft, so the IRS will be more closely regulating the preparation and validity of individual tax return information.  Taxpayers can no longer rely on their tax refunds for a QUICK way to pay overdue bills or make an urgent purchase.  We want to keep you well advised, so you can plan accordingly.  Please do not hesitate to call us with any questions or concerns.  We are here to inform. 
You can use the ‘Track Your Refund’ link at the top or bottom of any page of this website (check the details on our Blog page titled ‘all-important refund info.’ )  ALSO, IRS now has a link to check on the status of your AMENDED tax return refunds–click the ‘Where’s My Amended Return’ link on the top or bottom of any page of this website, as well. 
 

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**friendly WARNINGS**. . . .  

 

IRS will NEVER E-MAIL you!  Ever. About anything.  So, if you get an email from the ‘IRS’, you can be sure it is SPAM.  DO NOT reply or click on any attachments.  Simply FWD it to: phishing@irs.gov  and then DELETE it.

 

If you happen to get an unexpected phone call from the ‘IRS’:  1) ask for an employee badge number.  2) call IRS @ 1-800-829-1040 to verify, and a legitimate IRS employee will help you.  3) If you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think you do, call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration @ 1-800-366-4484 to report the incident.  ALSO–report phone scams to the Federal Trade Commission, using the FTC’s ‘Consumer Complaint?’ link.  Add ‘IRS Telephone Scam’ to the comments.  You can also FWD phishing e-mails to the FTC, as well. 
If we ALL make an effort to report fraud/scam activity, it will help the feds to eventually eliminate some of it and lower occurrences!

 

 

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IF YOU ‘ITEMIZE’ YOUR DEDUCTIONS. . . .

 

*  Charitable contributions are only deductible if you ‘itemize’ your deductions on Sch A–USUALLY only homeowners or employees with large business expenses do this.
*  Charitable contributions can be in form of cash/check or the like OR non-cash (e.g.–clothes & household items, other property such as capital gains items and motor vehicles). There is no limit on charitables taken on Sch A, as long as the total value is 50% or less of your adjusted gross income–AGI (some may have 30% or 20% limit, depending on what is donated and the type of organization donated to).  Be sure to have complete & detailed documentation of donations. There are certain additional requirements for the donation of motor vehicles. 
*NOTE–SEE “CASH Charitable Contributions FYI” on our ‘Blog’ page–VERY important info. to know about what kind of records to keep.  Cash contributions, esp. generous ones, are highly scrutinized by the IRS.  Be well informed!*
 *  If the fair market value of non-cash items total more than $500 for the year, Form 8283 has to accompany Sch A.
 *  Also for Sch A users– qualified medical expenses have to be more than 10% of your AGI (unless you and/or your spouse is 65 yrs. +, then they only have to be more than 7.5%. Beginning in 2017, the threshold is more than 10% of AGI, regardless of your age).   Unreimbursed employee expenses (e.g.–qualified miles) have to be more that 2% of AGI.

 

*  Married filing separate–if one spouse itemizes deductions, the other one has to also.  Married filing separate (MFS) vs. married filing joint (MFJ) should always be compared to give YOU the BEST tax advantage.  There are many credits that MFS filers cannot take.

 

 

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*  Unemployment is taxable (on federal return and on most states), but it is not earned income and therefore cannot solely be used when figuring the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
*  Earned Income Tax Credit recipients will have to provide accurate answers to numerous questions about their income sources, as tax professionals are mandated by the Internal Revenue Code to document this information in detail on several forms.  This may take extra preparation time.
*  You CAN deduct qualified student loan interest (up to $2500) you paid during the year for a person who was your qualified dependent at the time the loan was taken out, even if they are not your dependent the year deduction is taken.   (AGI limits apply).
*  College students:  take advantage of the American Opportunity Credit (which was made permanent by the PATH Act of 2015)–up to 40% of this $2500 credit may be refundable (added to your refund)!  You or your qualified student dependent must be at least a half-time student and be working toward a degree or other recognized credential.  It is available for the first four years of post secondary education, including any years its predecessor, the Hope credit, was taken.   DON’T miss out on this well-deserved savings!
*  Educator expenses:  if you are a K-12 teacher, student teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide–you can deduct, as an ‘above the line’ (adjustment to income) deduction, up to $250 spent on ordinary and necessary (IRS’ favorite words) classroom supplies that you purchased, as long as you worked in a school 900 hours or more during the school year.  Remember to keep your receipts.
*  Alimony paid is deducted as an adjustment to income, and alimony received is fully taxable (as opposed to child support, which is NOT taxable or deductible).