Here at Tax Resolution Center...

Here at Tax Resolution Center...

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Report Changes in Circumstances that could Affect Your 2015 Premium Tax Credit

If you have enrolled for health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace and receive advance payments of the premium tax credit in 2015, it is important that you report changes in circumstances, such as changes in your income or family size, to your Marketplace.

Advance payments of the premium tax credit provide financial assistance to help you pay for the insurance you buy through the Marketplace. Having at least some of your credit paid in advance directly to your insurance company will reduce the out-of-pocket cost of the health insurance premiums you’ll pay each month.

However, it is important to notify the Marketplace about changes in circumstances to allow the Marketplace to adjust your advance payment amount. This adjustment will decrease the likelihood of a significant difference between your advance credit payments and your actual premium tax credit. Changes in circumstances that you should report to the Marketplace include, but are not limited to:

  • An increase or decrease in your income
  • Marriage or divorce
  • The birth or adoption of a child
  • Starting a job with health insurance
  • Gaining or losing your eligibility for other health care coverage
  • Changing your residence

For the full list of changes you should report, visit

If you report changes in your income or family size to the Marketplace when they happen in 2015, the advance payments will more closely match the credit amount on your 2015 federal tax return.  This will help you avoid getting a smaller refund than you expected, or even owing money that you did not expect to owe.

Maximize Your 20 Percent

You’ve no doubt heard of the 80/20 rule. It’s the old adage that says 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of sales. What you might not know is that this philosophy can be applied all across your business—especially when it comes to time management.
A small business owner’s work is never done, but how often have you spent hours laboring with things that don’t add to the bottom line? Running errands, cleaning the office or filing; it’s all important, but probably not the best use of your time. Try to focus on the 20 percent that will have the most impact on your business.
What’s your 20 percent?
·        Weed out the non-important tasks and evaluate what you can successfully delegate, and hire someone to handle or outsource.
·        Surface daily activities that can make or break your business.
·        Find the most productive time of the day—this will depend on your personal life and the nature of your business—and use it to focus exclusively on your top priorities.
Time management for the small business owner can be a secret weapon. Use it wisely.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What to Watch Out for when Donating to Charity

The devastation caused by a massive earthquake in Nepal and the Katmandu Valley region has left many people asking how they can help.

If you’re looking for a way to give, the Federal Trade Commission urges you to do some research to ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised.

Urgent appeals for aid that you get in person, by phone or mail, by e-mail, on websites, or on social networking sites may not be on the up-and-up.  Unfortunately, legitimate charities face competition from fraudsters who either solicit for bogus charities or aren't entirely honest about how a so-called charity will use your contribution.

If you’re asked to make a charitable donation, consider these tips: 

  • Donate to charities you know and trust. You want to find a charity with a proven track record with dealing with disasters.
  • Designate the disaster. Charities may give the option to designate your giving to a specific disaster. That way, you can ensure your funds are going to disaster relief, rather than a general fund.
  • Never click on links or open attachments in e-mails unless you know who sent it and what it is. Opening attachments — even in e-mails that seem to be from friends or family — can install malware on your computer.
  • Don’t assume that charity messages posted on social media are legitimate or have been vetted. Research the charitable organization yourself.
  • When texting to donate, first confirm the number with the source. The charge will show up on your mobile phone bill, but be aware that text donations are not immediate. Depending on the text message service used by the charity, it can take as much as 90 days for the charity to receive the funds.

Think Before You Post

Opinions—everybody’s got them. They’re an inherent part of being human. And the Internet has the pull of mythological sirens, luring us to tell the world how we feel about everything from celebrity fashion choices to politics and religion—the big no-nos your mom steered you away from. The digital world makes it easy for us to share our thoughts, so as a business owner (and human with opinions), where do you set the boundary when posting online? Or do you?
·        Remember: The Internet is a public space where potential customers roam. If you wouldn’t want a customer hearing you say it in the real world, don’t do it in a virtual one.
·        Things you write can often be traced back to your business—and depending upon what you say and how you say, it could muddy your reputation.

Keyboard, computer screen and miles between the person typing and the person or story being commented on can create a false sense of security, and a quick bit of research can often uncover the author. So, tread lightly when someone shares something you don’t agree with. Words can come back to bite you and tarnish the business status you’ve worked so hard to build. Digital footprints, unlike the ones left in the snow, don’t melt away. They’re everlasting. Use good judgment before posting.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Cut Costs in 5 Steps

Just the act of flipping the ‘Open’ sign means costs are accruing. Can you hear the pennies slip away? Oh yes, running a business is expensive, and controlling costs should be a constant priority. But please don’t make an immediate switch to cheap toilet paper and revoke all bonuses. Simply start paying very close attention to where the dollars go, and use your wisdom to make smarter decisions about what’s necessary (leave the marketing alone!) and what’s wasteful.
·        Track and budget: Analyze your short-term, long-term and fixed costs, and devise a plan for the best way to make your money work for you, while still paying the bills.
·        Maximize efficiency: Review processes and procedures to see if waste is affecting your bottom line. And while you’re at it, set simple polices to ensure work gets completed, orders filled, and so on; and build in ways to make employees accountable.
·        Utilize technology: Are there areas of the business that could benefit from an enhanced efficiency solution, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software? Consider a short-term investment for long-term savings.
·        Find hidden costs and simple savings: Review contracts annually—and dig into what you’re actually using and if changes could be made—and keep them short term. Also, uncover the little things (like printing, heating and cooling) that equal savings if controlled.
·        Outsource and change pay structures: Evaluate contractors or freelancers for specific projects versus hiring full-time, and check into commission-based pay for the appropriate circumstances and employees.

Remember, a sustained approach will serve you better over the long haul than the immediate benefit from a slash-fest.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Start Planning Now for Next Year's Taxes

You may be tempted to forget all about your taxes once you’ve filed your tax return. Do not give in to that temptation. If you start your tax planning now, you may avoid a tax surprise when you file next year. Now is a good time to set up a system so you can keep your tax records safe and easy to find. Here are some IRS tips to give you a leg up on next year’s taxes:
·         Take action when life changes occur.  Some life events can change the amount of tax you pay. Some examples that can do that include a change in marital status or the birth of a child. When they happen, you may need to change the amount of tax withheld from your pay. To do that, file a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, with your employer. Use the IRS Withholding Calculator tool on to help you fill out the form.
·         Report changes in circumstances to the Health Insurance Marketplace.  If you enroll in insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace in 2015, you should report changes in circumstances to the Marketplace when they happen. Report events such as changes in your income or family size. Doing so will help you avoid getting too much or too little financial assistance in advance.
·         Keep records safe.  Put your 2014 tax return and supporting records in a safe place. If you ever need your tax return or records, it will be easy for you to get them. For example, you may need a copy of your tax return if you apply for a home loan or financial aid. You should use your tax return as a guide when you do your taxes next year.
·         Stay organized.  Make tax time easier. Have your family put tax records in the same place during the year. That way you won’t have to search for misplaced records when you file next year.
·         Shop for a tax preparer.  If you want to hire a tax preparer to help you with tax planning, start your search now. Choose your tax preparer wisely. Use the Directory of Tax Return Preparers tool on to find tax preparers in your area with the credentials and qualifications that you prefer.
·         Think about itemizing.  If you claim a standard deduction on your tax return, you may be able to lower your taxes if you itemize deductions instead. A donation to charity could mean some tax savings. See the instructions for Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, for a list of deductions.
·         Stay informed.  Subscribe to IRS Tax Tips to get emails about tax law changes, how to save money and much more. You can also get Tax Tips on or IRS2Go, the IRS mobile app. You’ll receive Tips each weekday in the tax filing season and three days a week in summer. You will also get Special Edition Tax Tips at other times during the year.
Planning now can pay off with savings at tax time next year.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top 10 Tips to Know if You Get a Letter from the IRS

The IRS mails millions of notices and letters to taxpayers each year. There are a variety of reasons why we might send you a notice. Here are the top 10 tips to know in case you get one.
1.     Don’t panic. You often can take care of a notice simply by responding to it.
2.     An IRS notice typically will be about your federal tax return or tax account. It will be about a specific issue, such as changes to your account. It may ask you for more information. It could also explain that you owe tax and that you need to pay the amount that is due.
3.     Each notice has specific instructions, so read it carefully. It will tell you what you need to do.
4.     You may get a notice that states the IRS has made a change or correction to your tax return. If you do, review the information and compare it with your original return.
5.     If you agree with the notice, you usually don’t need to reply unless it gives you other instructions or you need to make a payment.
6.     If you do not agree with the notice, it’s important for you to respond. You should write a letter to explain why you disagree. Include any information and documents you want the IRS to consider. Mail your reply with the bottom tear-off portion of the notice. Send it to the address shown in the upper left-hand corner of the notice. Allow at least 30 days for a response.
7.     You won’t need to call the IRS or visit an IRS office for most notices. If you do have questions, call the phone number in the upper right-hand corner of the notice. Have a copy of your tax return and the notice with you when you call. This will help the IRS answer your questions.
8.     Always keep copies of any notices you receive with your other tax records.
9.     Be alert for tax scams. The IRS sends letters and notices by mail. The IRS does not contact people by email or social media to ask for personal or financial information.

10.  For more on this topic visit Click on the link ‘Responding to a Notice’ at the bottom left of the home page. Also, see Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process. You can get it on at any time.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Preparing for Spring Weather Emergencies

After a long, hard winter, aren’t you ready for spring? Baseball, bike rides, barbecuing…but spring also carries with it the risk of severe weather, including dangerous storms, flooding and tornadoes. Here are some tips to help you prepare for a spring weather emergency.

Organize your finances. When it comes to weather emergencies, financial readiness is as important as a flashlight with fully charged batteries. Having your financial documents up-to-date, in one place, and portable can make a big difference. During a weather emergency, your personal documents can wash or blow away. But if you put your important documents in a waterproof bag inside a file box or safe, you can take them with you in an evacuation.

Check your insurance. Will your home, health, or other insurance policies pay for temporary shelter, replacement clothing, furniture, or other items if you are affected by a weather event?

Floodproof your home. If you live on low ground, or where storms are likely, your home may be flooded. You might consider doing some floodproofing now, writing a flood response plan and thinking about flood insurance. Visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for more information.

Plan for your pets. For many, pets are important members of the household – and they’re also affected by disasters. A little planning today can help you and your pets be ready for an emergency like a fire, flood, or tornado.

Bookmark the FTC’s weather emergencies site. If a disaster affects you, come back to this site for tips on recovery and information about your rights.

Wishing you a happy and safe spring.

Keep Your Cloud Safe

Everybody, it seems, is putting something in a cloud. Photos, music, even precious small business data. The cloud is clearly the way information storage is headed, and offers big benefits like the flexibility to work remotely, reduced costs, and it can save the day when laptops die. Cloud computing gives us peace of mind, knowing files, data and applications are tucked neatly away in a metaphorical vapor. But, despite all of the good, there’s still the looming question around security.

Basic rules of thumb:
·        Choose a cloud service provider known for strong network security, with multiple geographic regions and multi-level redundancy.
·        Read the security and privacy fine print before you commit.
·        May seem obvious, but make sure you’re on a secure network.
·        Set boundaries for your cloud. Who uses it? When and why?
·        Perform ongoing security reviews; don’t just move to the cloud and forget about it.

Just like in nature, not all clouds are not created equal, so do your due diligence—consider what you’ll be storing and what works best for your unique business needs.

What to Know about Late Filing and Late Paying Penalties

April 15 was the tax day deadline for most people. If you are due a refund there is no penalty if you file a late tax return. But if you owe tax, and you failed to file and pay on time, you will usually owe interest and penalties on the tax you pay late. You should file your tax return and pay the tax as soon as possible to stop them. Here are eight facts that you should know about these penalties.  
1.     Two penalties may apply.  If you file your federal tax return late and owe tax with the return, two penalties may apply. The first is a failure-to-file penalty for late filing. The second is a failure-to-pay penalty for paying late.
2.     Penalty for late filing.  The failure-to-file penalty is normally 5 percent of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month that a tax return is late. It will not exceed 25 percent of your unpaid taxes.
3.     Minimum late filing penalty.  If you file your return more than 60 days after the due date or extended due date, the minimum penalty for late filing is the smaller of $135 or 100 percent of the unpaid tax. 
4.     Penalty for late payment.  The failure-to-pay penalty is generally 0.5 percent per month of your unpaid taxes. It applies for each month or part of a month your taxes remain unpaid and starts accruing the day after taxes are due. It can build up to as much as 25 percent of your unpaid taxes.
5.     Combined penalty per month.  If the failure-to-file penalty and the failure-to-pay penalty both apply in any month, the maximum amount charged for those two penalties that month is 5 percent.
6.     File even if you can’t pay.  In most cases, the failure-to-file penalty is 10 times more than the failure-to-pay penalty. So if you can’t pay in full, you should file your tax return and pay as much as you can. Use IRS Direct Pay to pay your tax directly from your checking or savings account. You should try other options to pay, such as getting a loan or paying by debit or credit card. The IRS will work with you to help you resolve your tax debt. Most people can set up an installment agreement with the IRS using the Online Payment Agreement tool on
7.     Late payment penalty may not apply.  If you requested an extension of time to file your income tax return by the tax due date and paid at least 90 percent of the taxes you owe, you may not face a failure-to-pay penalty. However, you must pay the remaining balance by the extended due date. You will owe interest on any taxes you pay after the April 15 due date.

8.     No penalty if reasonable cause.  You will not have to pay a failure-to-file or failure-to-pay penalty if you can show reasonable cause for not filing or paying on time. There is also penalty relief available for repayment of excess advance payments of the premium tax credit for 2014.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Up Your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is probably a term you’ve heard thrown around. But what does it mean? And how can it help you become a better leader?
An awareness of emotions, and the influences that cause these emotions and the ability to manage appropriately, is what makes up emotional intelligence. Most people aren’t on an even keel all the time. But positive and negative emotions in the workplace can be both friend and foe to productivity. Increased emotional intelligence lays the groundwork to aptly influence emotional drivers—for you and your employees.
Start with:
·        Self-control: Thoughtfully regulate reactions as you experience emotionally charged situations. Identify triggers and develop strategies to manage self-control to ensure your reactions don’t hinder productivity or put relationships at risk.
·        Empathy: Your employees are human, and they experience a range of emotions daily. How you manage any given situation defines the outcome. Listening and appreciating different perspectives are simple, but powerful, tactics.

When you begin to understand the connection between emotion and action, your emotional smarts increase, along with your ability to be an effective day-to-day leader.

If You Missed the Tax Deadline These Tips Can Help

April 15 has come and gone. If you didn’t file a tax return or an extension but should have, you need to take action now. Here are some tips for taxpayers who missed the tax filing deadline:
·         File as soon as you can.  If you owe taxes, you should file and pay as soon as you can. This will stop the interest and penalties that you will owe. IRS Direct Pay offers you a free, secure and easy way to pay your tax directly from your checking or savings account. There is no penalty for filing a late return if you are due a refund. The sooner you file, the sooner you’ll get it.
·         IRS Free File is your best choice.  Nearly everyone can use IRS Free File to e-file their federal taxes for free. If your income was $60,000 or less, you can use free brand-name tax software. If you made more than $60,000, use Free File Fillable Forms to e-file. This program uses electronic versions of IRS paper forms. It does some of the math and it works best for those who are used to doing their own taxes. Either way, you have a free option that you can only access on It’s available at least through the Oct. 15 extension period.
·         Use IRS e-file to do your taxes.  No matter who prepares your tax return, you can use IRS e-file through Oct. 15. E-file is the easiest, safest and most accurate way to file your taxes. The IRS will confirm that it received your tax return. The IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days.
·         Pay as much as you can.  If you owe tax but can’t pay it in full, you should pay as much as you can when you file your tax return. IRS electronic payment options are the quickest and easiest way to pay your taxes. Pay the rest of the tax you still owe as soon as possible. Doing so will reduce future penalties and interest.
·         Use the tool to pay over time.  If you need more time to pay your tax, you can apply for an installment agreement with the IRS. The best way to apply is to use the IRS Online Payment Agreement tool. You can use the tool to set up a direct debit agreement. You don’t need to write and mail a check each month with a direct debit plan. If you don’t use the tool, you can use Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request to apply. You can get the form at any time.

·         A refund may be waiting.  If you are due a refund, you should file as soon as possible to get it. Even if you are not required to file, you may still get a refund. This could apply if you had taxes withheld from your wages or you qualify for certain tax credits. If you do not file your return within three years, you could lose your right to the refund.