NEWS

Bookmark this page for new tax information every month!

Change to exclusion of gain on sale of residence

Filing Extensions Are Available by Phone or Computer

Mileage Rate Change for 2008

Qualified Tuition Plans (529 Plans)

Refundable Massachusetts Credit ("Circuit Breaker Credit")

Incentive Stock Options and the AMT

Tisdale Co.'s Estate Tax Check List

IRS Hotline

Taxes - Ira's Capital Gains, Etc.

 



Home Sales

Beginning January 1, 2009 the rules for exclusion of gain on sale of a principal residence are changing. Although it will still be possible to exclude up to $250,000 of gain ($500,000 for married filing jointly) from the sale of a principal residence that has been the principal residence of the taxpayer for two of the five years preceding the date of sale, the full amount may not be able to be deducted if the property had non-qualifying use PRIOR to the time that the residence was a primary residence. Non-qualifying use includes renovation work before moving in, use as a vacation property or rental property and ownership of the land on which a principal residence is later built.

Prior to this change a taxpayer could move into a vacation home that had been used as such for many years, make it a principal residence for two years and then sell it. The gain would be excluded up to the $250,000 or $500,000 amount. Under the changed rules use prior to January 1, 2009 is ignored. After that date the exclusion is pro-rated by a factor whose denominator is the total period of ownership and whose numerator is the period of qualified use. Non-qualified use AFTER the period of residence is excluded from both the numerator and the denominator


Filing Extensions Are Available by Phone or Computer

Automatic six-month extensions are available by phone or by computer, as well as through the paper Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Taxpayers may choose to pay any projected balance due when requesting an extension, and may make this payment electronically. Even without a payment, the taxpayer is required to estimate the total tax liability based on the information available. If the IRS later finds this estimate unreasonable, the extension will be null and void.

The IRS has a toll-free phone line for extensions - 1-888-796-1074. Taxpayers using the phone get a confirmation number to signify that the extension request has been accepted, which they should keep for their records. Taxpayers may also e-file an extension request using tax preparation software on their own computer or by going to a tax preparer. Those filing by computer get an acknowledgment that the IRS has received their request. Taxpayers asking for extensions by phone or computer can choose to pay any expected balance due by authorizing an electronic funds withdrawal from a checking or savings account. They will need the appropriate bank routing and account numbers for that account, and must also have the adjusted gross income (AGI) from their prior year tax return to verify their identity.

Another way to get a filing extension is to charge an extension-related payment to an American Express, Discover Card, or MasterCard account. Authorized processors take payments through their phone and Web site systems. There is no IRS fee for credit card payments, but the processors charge a convenience fee. Taxpayers may call 1-888-255-8299. The Web site address is www.1888ALLTAXX.com. Taxpayers may also charge the taxes due, estimated taxes or installment agreement payments but such charges do not give an extension of time to file.

Taxpayers who live outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico and whose main place of work is outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico already have a filing extension to June 15. This also applies to those in military service outside the country. Taxpayers with this June deadline can file a paper Form 4868 or make an extension-related credit card payment by June 15 to get an additional four months to file. They cannot request this extension by phone or computer. However, merely being outside the U.S. on the April deadline does not give a person an extension to June 15.


Mileage Rate Change

For the year 2008 the standard mileage rate for business mileage was 50.5 cents per mile for the first six months of the year and increased to 58.5 cents per mile beginning July 1. Effective January 1, the rate decreases to 36.0 cents per mile. Charitable mileage for 2008 remains at 14.0 cents per mile as it has been for a number of years while moving and medically related mileage is calculated at 19.0 cents per mile for the first six months and 27.0 cents per mile for the second six months.

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Qualified Tuition Plans (529 Plans)

The rules change dramatically for contributions to a QTP (Qualified Tuition Plan) made after January 1, 2002. Among the general provisions are -

  • The contributions must be for a family member including core family as well as step family and first cousins
  • The contribution is treated as a completed gift, and as such is not a tax deductible contribution
  • Because the contribution is a gift, if the contribution is in excess of the annual gift exclusion ($12,000 in 2008) in any one year, a gift tax return Form 709 must be filed. An election can be made to treat the gift as given over 5 years allowing a contribution of $60,000 to be treated as five $12,000 gifts. To make this election Form 709 must be filed. Since this uses the annual exclusion additional gifts in the ensuing four years may trigger reduction in the annual lifetime gift exclusion.
  • Withdrawals from the QTP used to pay eligible post secondary school expenses, including tuition, fees, books, and room and board for more that half time students are not taxable income.
  • Withdrawals not used for qualified post secondary education are included in taxable income of the beneficiary and an additional 10% tax is imposed on the amount so included
  • Losses in investments in a 529 plan may be able to be deducted as capital losses. However, the loss can only be recognized after the funds in the plan have been completely depleted and the amount withdrawn from the plan was less than the amount contributed.
  • For contributions made after January 1, 2002 unused contributions can be rolled over to another eligible family member without penalty (1 roll over per year). Contributions made prior to January 1, 2002 if rolled over to another beneficiary, or even to another plan are treated as a non-qualifying distribution and are taxed and penalized.

There are many other provisions relating to the change in tax treatment of a QTP. You should not make any decisions based on this summary alone, but should consult a tax professional for your particular circumstances.

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Refundable Massachusetts Credit ("Circuit Breaker Credit")

Beginning January 1, 2001 Massachusetts has a refundable credit for taxpayers 65 years of age or older having an assessed valuation of their principal residence of less than a certain amount and gross income less than a specified amount. For 2008 the assessed value of the principal residence must be less than $793,000, and total income less than $49,000 if single, $62,000 head of household, or $74,000 married filing jointly. The credit is available to renters for whom 25% of their rent actually paid exceeds 10% of their total income, as well as homeowners for their principal residence only. The credit cannot exceed $930 in 2008, adjusted for inflation, in subsequent years. The credit is equal to the amount by 25% of rent actually paid exceeds 10% of the taxpayers income for renters, or the amount of property taxes actually paid exceeds 10% of the taxpayers income for homeowners. If a taxpayer has zero taxable income the credit will be refunded as if the taxpayer had made estimated payments equal to the credit.

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Incentive Stock Options and the AMT

If you exercised incentive stock options (ISO's) earlier this year when the market was high and you still own the shares, you may want to consider the tax implications of selling those shares now if the stock value has decreased significantly. The reason for this is the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). For an ISO the difference between market price on the date of exercise and the exercise price is a preference item for the AMT calculation. This means that even though for regular tax purposes, you would not have to consider the spread at the date of exercise, for the AMT calculation the spread is considered income. If the ISO shares are sold within the tax year that the option was exercised then the sale is a "disqualifying disposition" and the difference between the market price on the date of sale and the exercise price becomes current taxable income. The AMT income is extinguished.

This is a complex calculation because of the other factors that impact the AMT, such as disallowance of taxes paid deductions, disallowance of personal exemptions, inclusion of certain types of otherwise excludable exempt interest income, the phase-out of the AMT exemption and a number of other factors. You should consult your tax adviser or call our office for an appointment before acting on this suggestion.

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Tisdale Co.'s ESTATE TAX CHECK LIST

An estate tax return must be filed and paid within nine months of the date of death. Failure to file and pay on time will result in significant penalties for late filing and late payment. If additional time is needed for payment of the tax because of the need to liquidate assets arrangement can be made with the taxing authorities.

Because of the legal nature of estate tax laws Tisdale Company will use the services of a tax attorney in preparing estate tax returns.

For the printable Tisdale Co. Estate Tax Check List:

- Copyright © 2000 Tisdale Co.
Certified Public Accountants

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IRS HOTLINE

Call the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Services toll-free number at 1-877-777-4778, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This special IRS hotline offers help on tax problems that can't seem to be solved through normal channels.


TAXES - IRA'S CAPITAL GAINS, ETC.

DEDUCTING IRA CONTRIBUTIONS

Higher income limits for deducting IRA contributions apply to workers covered by an employer retirement plan. For taxpayers covered by a pension plan where they work the deduction phases out : between $52,000 and $62,000 for a single person or head of household; between $83,000 and $103,000 for a married persons filing jointly. If only one spouse is covered by a plan, the other spouse may make deductible IRA contributions if their joint income is under $169,000. In addition, the IRA contribution limit remains at $5,000 ($6,000 for individuals who are 50 years of age or older).

REPORTING CAPITAL GAIN DISTRIBUTIONS

Taxpayers whose only capital gains or losses are their capital gain distributions from mutual funds will be able to report these gains directly on Form 1040 instead of using Schedule D. They should report the amount on line 13 and check the box there. They will then use a worksheet in the instructions to figure their tax.

SELF-EMPLOYED HEALTH INSURANCE DEDUCTION

Self-employed persons may now deduct up to 100% of their health insurance premiums for every month they were not eligible to participate in an employer-sponsored health plan.

STOP SMOKING PROGRAM

Deductible medical expenses now include amounts paid for smoking cessation programs and prescription drugs to treat nicotine withdrawal. Non-prescription drugs or patches are not deductible.

- Volume 2, Issue 22
Andover IRS Center
Communications Office
January 20, 2000

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