The team at Schutte & Hilgendorf, CPA’s wishes you a very Happy Holiday Season. We hope you enjoy this time with your family and friends and take time to enjoy the sights and sounds of Prescott-“Arizona’s Christmas City”.
The 4th Quarter Estimated Payments are due January 15, 2015 – however, if you pay Arizona by December 31, it can count as a state tax deduction for 2014.
As has been our tradition, we want to remind you of changes that have occurred in the area of individual tax for the year 2014 and to give you some tax planning tips that might apply to your specific tax and financial situation. As always, please call or email if you have any questions or concerns. All areas of tax cannot be covered here, but I have highlighted the major changes.
There are two major changes this year:
- The Affordable Care Act (ACA) – The individual requirement under the ACA means everyone is required to have health insurance for the year 2014. There is an additional line on the Individual Tax Form – 1040 – that asks that specific question. If the box is not checked, this will indicate to the IRS you were not covered by the minimal essential health insurance and may be subject to a penalty. Even though Medicare and Medicaid recipients were qualified participants without having to do anything additional, they are still required to check this box. There are 5 additional tax forms, plus worksheets, that may be required to be completed with the tax return, depending on your situation and the coverage you have.
The subsidized credits and possible penalties are calculated on the tax returns. The additional forms will be similar to a 1099 Form/W-2 Form and will be issued by the Exchange, the insurance companies, or your employer. These will arrive in January/February with other tax forms you normally receive. We are required to have a copy of these before we can prepare your tax return. Please remember to save these with your other tax forms you will be receiving and bringing to us.
If you have college students that are covered by your health insurance policy and they have earnings that require them to file a return, we recommend we prepare their returns along with yours. There are family income levels that must be considered in determining the subsidies or credits.
Because of the additional time and calculations that are required of preparers and the liability it exposes us to, your tax preparation fee will increase this year. We are estimating it to be a $50 minimum increase. Depending on the complexity of your situation, the cost could be quite a bit higher . If you are receiving Medicare coverage for health costs, the additional cost will be on the low end. Those with private insurance plans or employer plans could be on the more complex side.
If you have any questions regarding how this will affect your tax return, please call us now.
- The second change is the “Extenders” as they are referred to in the media. These are a number of credits/deductions that were allowed in 2013, but expired January 1, 2014. These include:
- Energy credits for windows, insulation, doors, etc. The only energy credits allowed are for solar installations
- The above-the-line deduction for out-of-pocket school classroom supplies for teachers
- The contribution to charitable organizations of your RMD
- The above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses
- The state and local general sales tax deductions
- Exclusion of $2 million for discharge of principal mortgage debt
These “extenders” are now being debated in Congress, and as of this date the House passed a bill allowing them to continue for 2014. It is now in the Senate for debate. We are closely watching the developments.
Arizona is continuing with the credits for schools and other charitable organizations for this year, which is very good news.
The credits will allow you to re-direct any Arizona tax liability to other avenues of your choice rather than the State, and most of these credits also qualify for a Federal charitable contribution, if you itemize. You do not need to itemize for Arizona to take advantage of these credits.
The credits and amounts allowed are as follows: (for single/married filing jointly)
- Public School Credit – $200/$400
- Qualifying charitable organizations (formerly known as the “Working Poor” credit) – $200/$400
- Qualifying Foster Care organizations – $200/$400
- Private School Tuition organization – $528/$1,056
- Certified School Tuition organization – $525/$1050
Except for the last two, all charitable donations must be made before December 31, 2014. You have until April 15, 2015 to contribute the 2 School Tuition credits to have it apply for 2014 returns.
There is a link on our website www.prescottaccountants.com also detailing these credits and links for you to verify if an organization you are considering for a contribution is a qualified organization for receiving these.
You are also encouraged to call or email us if you have any questions regarding these.
General Info: The standard deduction for a Married Filing Jointly is $12,400 and for Singles is $6,200. If you do not have mortgage interest, high medical bills, or considerable charitable donations for 2014, your itemized deductions may not total these amounts. It will be to your advantage to take the standard deduction, and you do not have to gather and total your medical receipts. TIP: if you want to do a comparison, all medical offices and pharmacies will print out an annual recap of the amounts you paid to them, if asked. A big time saver!
The tax organizers will be mailed to you after the Christmas Holiday. There will be additional questionnaires included this year asking you to verify specifics on Health Insurance, foreign bank accounts and foreign pensions. These must be returned to us along with the questionnaire (which will also have a place for signature this year) and the signed engagement letter.
We are offering another option for you this year. The organizer will include a pre-set date and time for your tax appointment. If the pre-set date and time is inconvenient for you, please call or email Sharon sharonb@ prescottaccountants.com in our office to change the appointment. In order to make tax preparation more convenient for you, if you do not feel you need a personal face-to-face appointment, you are welcome to drop off your tax information. We have a secure “drop box” just to the left of the entrance, if the time convenient to you is not during office hours. Adam Rutherford or Lois Hilgendorf will call you when we are preparing your return if we have any questions, or you may set up a telephone consultation appointment if that is more convenient.
This tax update is also posted on our website, www.prescottaccountants.com, so if you have family or friends that would find this helpful, please urge them to visit the website.
If you need assistance in organizing or planning call us before December 31.