February 12

Have you ever wondered what is “alternative minimum tax” and how it affects you? To answer the first question, alternative minimum tax, AMT for short, was enacted in 1969 as an attempt to make sure that wealthy taxpayers – usually taxpayers having the largest tax deductions – paid at least a “minimum” amount in tax. However, middle income taxpayers soon found themselves subject to the tax because Congress had failed to inflation index the AMT exemption brackets (exemption brackets are per filing status, dollar based thresholds used to exempt taxpayers from the tax). In 2013, Congress finally passed an AMT fix by permanently inflation indexing the brackets.

So does AMT affect you? You may be subject to AMT if you have taxable income, plus certain deductions, exceeding your AMT exemption bracket. For 2013, the exemption bracket for Single or Head of Household filers is $51,900. If you file Married Filing Joint or Qualifying Widow(er), the exemption is $80,800. For Married Filing Separate, the exemption is $40,400.

The rules for calculating AMT are complex. However, in a nutshell, you begin with taxable income as computed under regular tax rules and add back certain Schedule A deductions (like state and local income taxes, investment interest expense, certain home mortgage interest, etc.) and other deductions like net operating losses, certain depletion and depreciation expenses, etc. You then compute the amount of alternative tax that would be due on the AMT taxable income. If the alternative tax is higher than the regular tax, you pay the alternative tax. In other words, if the amount of tax you owe under normal tax rules is not high enough, you must pay the higher alternative tax.

You should contact your tax or legal advisor if you would like more guidance on how AMT affects you. In addition, the IRS provides an AMT Assistant tool to help you assess.

 

June 25

IRS Formalizes Employer Mandate Delay in Providing Health Insurance

The Internal Revenue Service has issued a formal notice that officially delays the employer shared responsibility provisions of the Affordable Care Act, also known as the employer mandate, for a year and postpones the information reporting requirements.

The announcement gives larger employers an additional year to comply with the health care reform law. The requirements will instead begin in January 2015 for employers with 50 or more full-time employees (or the equivalent in full- and part-time employees) to offer quality affordable health insurance to employees or face a $2,000 fine per employee if the employee receives a premium tax credit for purchasing individual coverage on one of the upcoming health insurance exchanges.

Source: http://www.accountingtoday.com/news/IRS-Formalizes-Employer-Mandate-Delay-Providing-Health-Insurance-67392-1.html

June 25

IRS Contends with Billions Lost to Stolen EINs

The Internal Revenue Service is losing billions of dollars to fraudsters every year from stolen Employer Identification Numbers, according to a new government report, even though it has some processes in place to authenticate individuals who apply for an EIN. (more…)

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