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Plan for a smaller refund this year from the IRS

Did you receive a big refund check from last year’s taxes? If so, you’re not alone. Many of us deliberately pay extra taxes throughout the year so we can enjoy a nice bonus early the next year. Sometimes it’s insurance against having to come up with extra cash when you file your return. That’s a valid concern. But sometimes it’s just a form of enforced saving. Or perhaps you’ve simply never bothered to adjust your withholding. Those aren’t such good reasons. After all, when you overpay your taxes, you’re making an interest-free loan to the government.

Should you adjust your withholding? Reducing your withholding is as simple as filing a new Form W-4 with your employer. The form comes with a worksheet to figure out how many allowances you should claim. Don’t forget to allow for your other taxable income besides wages, such as dividends or investment gains.

If you’re worried about underpaying tax, there are a couple of rules you should know. Generally, you’ll escape a penalty if you pay, through withholding or quarterly estimated payments, at least 100% of last year’s taxes (110% if your adjusted gross income is over $150,000), or if you pay at least 90% of what you owe for this year.

If you reduce withholding, here are some ideas on how to use your extra take-home pay.
 
* Contribute more to your employer’s 401(k) plan, especially if your company matches contributions. You’ll enjoy a double benefit because the extra contributions will reduce the tax on your wages as well as provide tax-deferred savings.
 
* Pay down balances you’re carrying on your credit cards. That’s equivalent to earning interest on your extra payments, often at double-digit rates.
 
* Put the money in a tax-favored Coverdell IRA or Section 529 plan for your child’s education.

Contact our office if you’d like help figuring out your withholding level for 2011.

David Bradsher, CPA

One Open House I won’t be attending:

IRS Holds Saturday Open Houses on Feb. 26 and March 26 to Help Taxpayers


The IRS announced today that nearly 100 IRS offices will be open on Saturday, Feb. 26, and Saturday, March 26, to help taxpayers. The location of participating offices is listed on IRS.gov. IRS offices will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time. See IR-2011-19 for more.

David Bradsher, CPA

IRS increases audits

As part of its plans to increase audit coverage, the IRS will be doing more correspondence audits – notices mailed to taxpayers that typically focus on a single item on the tax return. Correspondence exams can be as simple as asking about a tax return data discrepancy or requesting a missing form. But the IRS is also using these audits to focus on other issues, such as employee business expenses, the earned income credit, charitable deductions, and the tax credit for buying a home.

If you receive an IRS notice, don’t ignore it. Let us know about it right away. The problem can be resolved in less time and with less fuss if an experienced professional is involved right from the beginning.

David Bradsher, CPA

IRS is now on youtube – who knew!

David Bradsher, CPA  is a Washington DC / Northern Virginia  area CPA who works with small business owners and non profit leaders on a monthly basis to provide them with guidance and advice on how to grow their organizations, minimize their tax liabilities and increase their bottom line.

David Bradsher, CPA