Wednesday, March 30, 2011

IRS helps you save for retirement

Here’s a great way to save for retirement and the IRS is helping you do it. Typically if you contribute funds to an IRA, a taxpayer can claim an above the line deduction for their contribution. A contribution may also make a taxpayer eligible for the retirement savings contribution credit. Listen below for details on how a contribution to an IRA will save you money on taxes.


So how is the IRS helping the taxpayer with IRA contributions this year?

Due to Emancipation Day (a holiday in the District of Columbia) taxpayers have a few extra days to make contributions to an IRA. The holiday falls on April 15th, and the IRS will be closed that day thus moving the date for making contributions to an IRA (and filing your tax return). Be sure to speak to your tax advisor to see how an IRA contribution can benefit you.

The Tech Accountant

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

5 Taxpayers the IRS is Targeting

There was a great deal of news that occurred over this past weekend but one of the more important stories was probably the deal between AT&T and T-Mobile to merge pending government approval. This will make AT&T the largest mobile provider and will affect a great deal of customers. There is however a little bit of other news that many tax payers may want to know regarding a new list out from the IRS.

According to the IRS, they are targeting specific groups of taxpayers for audits this year and taxpayers need to ensure that their return will not be flag by the IRS’s “Discriminant Function”. The 5 areas where the IRS is putting more focus is:

1. Schedule A Filers – Those that itemized their deductions

2. Schedule C – Those solo entrepreneurs that are not corporations

3. Schedule E – Those that own rental properties

4. Cash Basis Businesses – Those businesses that only use cash and not credit

5. Sales of Assets and other investments – Those taxpayers that have investments or assets for investments

What’s a taxpayer to do to ensure that their return is not flagged by the IRS? The most important factor is keeping good records that proved your deductions or credits are valid and that you qualify for them. Keeping good records can also help if your tax return is selected for an audit. Audits go a bit more smoothly when your paperwork is organized and typically result is no change or maybe even a little more money back for you.

The Tech Accountant

Thursday, March 17, 2011

IRS Videos for All

As the IRS continues toward a more technology focused operation, taxpayers will be glad to know that the IRS recently added videos to their tools to assist taxpayers with a myriad of tax issues. Topics include disaster information, education, filing and paying taxes, IRS Audits, IRS Liens, post filing issues, recordkeeping, retirement plans and scams & fraud. The videos are broken down by individuals, small businesses, tax professionals, and governments. The IRS has also provided a section for those taxpayers that speak Spanish. The videos can be found here and typically run from 3 to 15 minutes.

This is another resource for taxpayers (and tax professionals) to use to understand their tax situations.

The Tech Accountant

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Your data is safer in the clouds

Many small biz owners are still on the fence about taking their biz operations to the clouds. In a recent interview with Michal Lev-Ram for, Google’s enterprise chief Dave Girouard provides some compelling reasons for small biz owners to reconsider their stance. Most small biz owners cite security and uptime as their biggest resistance to the cloud here’s what Girouard had to say about both issues:

“Our belief is that your data is safer inside Google than it is inside your own computers. But we are doing all sorts of things to make sure our user data is protected.”

In regards to cloud system’s uptime, Girouard stated:

“There's no system that's prefect and no company that's perfect and we certainly aren't. In 2010 Gmail had 99.984% uptime.”

His statements got me wondering if those small biz owners that were resisting the cloud had procedures in place to protect their data and if their procedures had a 100% uptime. I posed the question of the cloud in one of my accounting discussion boards to get small biz accountants’ take on the matter and many of them were still resisting the cloud. One accountant even said that she used a portable hard drive that she took back and forth with her to the office.

Although the portable drive is a great way to save and backup your mission critical data, it should only be a small step in your backup and data warehousing plan. Which brings me to another point Girouard made in the article that cloud based companies are more agile than their “old school” counterparts. When asked about the advantages of Google’s cloud services versus those of other major software vendors, Girouard stated that since they are a 100% web company it is easier for them to adapt to the changes in the marketplace as they happen.

This is true for any business. Even a small business can be more nimble than their competitors if they build their business infrastructure in the cloud. Feel free to read the article and draw your own conclusions and opinions and post them as a response to this blog post. Would love to hear your thoughts.

The Tech Accountant

Thursday, March 10, 2011

3 Ways Small Biz Owners Can Use Tablets

Up until recently, the sign that a small biz owner was upwardly mobile was a laptop or even a netbook. You would go to the local coffee shop and see everyone deeply engaged in their work or online meetings via their portable computers. Fast forward a few years to the present and laptop and netbooks in the coffee shop are a thing of the past like Starbucks “secret menu” items.

Now when you go into a coffee establishment, everyone is swiping away multi-tasking on their tablets. Tablets are making quite an impression in the consumer market and many larger biz’s are using them in some very interesting ways. Small biz owners can also enjoy the benefits of using a tablet instead of your clunky laptop. Here are three ways:

1. Remote Desktop – Need access to your laptop or desktop back in the office? With a tablet and remote desktop app (Like GoToMyPC) you can access your PC or Mac back in the office and remain fully connected.

2. Presentations – Need to watch or join a web conference or presentation? Use a web conferencing app like Webex or GoToMeeting to join online meetings while away from your office.

3. Accepting Payments – Need to improve your cash flow by accepting payments away from the office? There are quite a few apps out there that can assist with this task. A few that come to mind are PayPal, Sage Mobile Payments and Intuit GoPayment.

These are just three reasons I came up with for using a tablet from my own business processes (Feel free to add more). The beauty is most of the apps mentioned are free and coupled with the fact that you don’t have to carry around that cumbersome laptop, a tablet may be a wise choice for your small biz.

The Tech Accountant

Monday, March 07, 2011

Is the IRS "Lien"ing on You?

The IRS recently announced changes to the lien filing process and OIC (Offer in Compromise) changes that are suppose to help taxpayers meet their tax obligations. The changes are the following:

1. The dollar threshold for when liens are generally issued is being increased, to at least $10,000 in back taxes. The previous threshold was $5,000.

2. The IRS will make it easier to withdraw a lien once a person pays off their tax debt. However, the withdrawal is not automatic. Once full payment is made, you will have to request the lien be removed. To speed up the withdrawal process, the IRS will streamline its procedures to allow collection personnel to withdraw liens.

3. The IRS will withdraw liens in most cases where a taxpayer signs up for a direct debit installment agreement, which means the IRS will pull the money directly out of your bank account. If you currently have an installment agreement but switch to a direct debit agreement, you can request that the lien be withdrawn. There is a catch. The IRS says liens will be withdrawn after a probationary period to make sure the direct debit is working.

4. Small businesses with $25,000 or less in unpaid taxes can now get an installment agreement over 24 months. It used to be that only small businesses with under $10,000 in liabilities could participate.

5. The IRS will revise the Offer in Compromise rules to allow participation by taxpayers with annual incomes up to $100,000. In addition, those with a tax liability of up to $50,000 may now submit an offer, double the old limit of $25,000 or less.

The Tech Accountant

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Want a Big Tax Refund...Here's How

Thanks to a fellow tax colleague of mine, here is a funny video that will hopefully educate many about how taxes work and why your tax refund is your money to begin with. Enjoy

The Tech Accountant