Taxes

It’s summertime…and these tips can help make livin’ easy for teens with jobs

With summer almost here, many students will turn their attention to making money from a summer job. Whether it’s flipping burgers or filing documents, the IRS wants student workers to know some facts about their summer jobs and taxes.

Not all the money they earn will make it to their pocket because employers must withhold taxes from their paycheck. Here are some tax tips young individuals should know when starting a summer job.

New employees:  Employees – including those who are students – normally have taxes withheld from their paychecks by their employer. When anyone gets a new job, they need to fill out a Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. Employers use this form to calculate how much federal income tax to withhold from the new employee’s pay. The Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov can help a taxpayer fill out this form.
 
Self-employment: Students who do odd jobs over the summer to make extra cash are self-employed. This include jobs like baby-sitting or lawn care. Money earned from self-employment is taxable, and self-employed workers may be responsible for paying taxes directly to the IRS. One way they can do this is by making estimated tax payments during the year.
 
Tip income: Students working as waiters or camp counselors who earn tips as part of their summer income should know tip income is taxable. They should keep a daily log to accurately report tips. They must report cash tips to their employer for any month that totals $20 or more.

Payroll taxes: This tax pays for benefits under the Social Security system. While students may earn too little from their summer job to owe income tax, employers usually must still withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes from their pay. If a student is self-employed, Social Security and Medicare taxes may still be due and are generally paid by the student.

Reserve Officers’ Training Corps pay: If a student is in an ROTC program, and receives pay for activities such as summer advanced camp, it is taxable. Other allowances the student may receive – like food and lodging – may not be taxable. The Armed Forces’ Tax Guide on IRS.gov provides details.

Home office deduction benefits eligible small business owners

Small business owners may qualify for a home office deduction that will help them save money on their taxes, and benefit their bottom line. Taxpayers can take this deduction if they use a portion of their home exclusively, and on a regular basis, for any of the following:

  • As the taxpayer’s main place of business.
  • As a place of business where the taxpayer meets patients, clients or customers. The taxpayer must meet these people in the normal course of business.
  • If it is a separate structure that is not attached to the taxpayer’s home. The taxpayer must use this structure in connection with their business
  • A place where the taxpayer stores inventory or samples. This place must be the sole, fixed location of their business.
  • Under certain circumstances, the structure where the taxpayer provides day care services.

Deductible expenses for business use of a home include:

  • Real estate taxes
  • Mortgage interest
  • Rent
  • Casualty losses
  • Utilities
  • Insurance
  • Depreciation
  • Repairs and Maintenance

Certain expenses are limited to the net income of the business. These are known as allocable expenses. They include things such as utilities, insurance, and depreciation.  While allocable expenses cannot create a business loss, they can be carried forward to the next year. If the taxpayer carries them forward, the expenses are subject to the same limitation rules.

There are two options for figuring and claiming the home office deduction.

Regular method
This method requires dividing the above expenses of operating the home between personal and business use. Self-employed taxpayers file Form 1040, Schedule C, and compute this deduction on Form 8829.

Simplified method
The simplified method reduces the paperwork and recordkeeping for small businesses. The simplified method has a set rate of $5 a square foot for business use of the home. The maximum deduction allowed is based on up to 300 square feet.

There are special rules for certain business owners:

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Got tip income? Here are some tips about tips from the IRS

Aside from regular wages, many taxpayers have jobs where they get tips from their clients or customers.  Generally, income received as a tip is taxable. Here’s some information to help taxpayers correctly report the income they receive as a tip:

Use the Interactive Tax Assistant.
This tool on IRS.gov asks taxpayers a series of questions. After the taxpayer answers the questions, the tool gives responses based on the answers. Taxpayers can use the Interactive Tax Assistant to find out if their tip income is taxable.
 
Show all tips on a tax return.
Taxpayers use Form 4137, Social Security and Medicare Tax on Unreported Tip Income, to report the amount of any unreported tip income. This form allows the taxpayer to include it as additional wages. This includes the value of non-cash things someone receives as a tip, such as tickets or passes to an event.
 
Report all types of tips.
Taxpayers must pay tax on all tips received during the year, including those:

  • Directly from customers.
  • Added to credit cards.
  • From a tip-splitting agreement with other employees.

Report tips to an employer.
Employees who receive $20 or more in tips in any month must report their tips for that month to their employer. They must do so by the 10th day of the next month. When reporting tips, the employee should include cash, check and credit card tips they received. The employer must withhold federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes on these reported tips.

Keep a daily log of tips.
Taxpayers use Publication 1244, Employee’s Daily Record of Tips and Report to Employer, to record tips. This will help report the correct amount of tips on their tax return.

IRS reminds taxpayers to adjust tax withholding to pay the right tax amount

WASHINGTON — With this year’s average tax refund around $2,700, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers they have options to control the amount of their take-home pay and the size of their tax refund by adjusting their tax withholding.

A Paycheck Checkup using the IRS Withholding Calculator can help taxpayers determine the right amount of tax they should have their employer withhold from their paychecks.

Taxes are pay-as-you-go. This means taxes must be paid as income is earned or received during the year, either through withholding or estimated tax payments. As of May 10, nearly 101.6 million taxpayers received federal tax refunds. With the average refund around $2,700, some taxpayers received a refund that was much larger than they expected, which means they paid too much tax throughout the year and took home less money in their paychecks.

To help taxpayers who want to change this amount, the Withholding Calculator will offer recommendations for adjusting withholding. A taxpayer who wants to increase the amount of their paychecks would pay less tax throughout the year by increasing the number of allowances on Form W-4. A taxpayer who would prefer a larger refund when they file would decrease their withholding allowances on Form W-4. Decreasing the number of allowances means paying more tax throughout the year and receiving a smaller paycheck.  

A taxpayer’s unexpected tax surprise or larger-than-usual refund may be due to life changes such as getting married, having or adopting a child, or it may be from changes included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The TCJA made changes to the tax law, including increasing the standard deduction, eliminating personal exemptions, increasing the child tax credit, limiting or discontinuing certain deductions and changing the tax rates and brackets. These changes affected 2018 returns and are also in effect for 2019. It’s important to check withholding every year. Just because these changes didn’t affect a taxpayer last year doesn’t mean they won’t apply this year.

Sooner is better

Checking and adjusting tax withholding as early as possible is the best way to avoid having too little or too much tax withheld from paychecks. Too little withheld could result in an unexpected tax bill or penalty at tax time next year.

Taxpayers can help manage and adjust their tax withholding by using the IRS Withholding Calculator. It’s helpful if taxpayers have their completed 2018 tax return available when using the Withholding Calculator to estimate the amount of income, deductions, adjustments and credits to enter. Taxpayers also need their most recent pay stubs to compute their withholding so far this year. Based on the Withholding Calculator’s recommendations, taxpayers can then fill out and submit a new Form W-4 to their employer.

The Withholding Calculator does not request personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, address or bank account number. The IRS does not save or record the information entered on the calculator.

Estimated taxes

Some workers are considered self-employed and are responsible for paying taxes directly to the IRS. Often, this includes people involved in the sharing economy. One way to pay taxes directly to the IRS is by making estimated tax payments during the year. The next deadline for tax year 2019 estimated taxes is June 17.

TCJA changed the way tax is calculated for most taxpayers, including those with substantial income not subject to withholding. As a result, many taxpayers may need to raise or lower the amount of tax they pay each quarter through the estimated tax system.

The revised estimated tax package, Form 1040-ES, on IRS.gov is designed to help taxpayers figure these payments correctly. The package includes a quick rundown of key tax changes, income tax rate schedules for 2019 and a useful worksheet for figuring the right amount to pay.

Estimated tax penalty
Taxpayers should keep in mind that if not enough tax is paid through withholding and estimated tax payments, a penalty may be charged. A penalty may also be charged if estimated tax payments are late, even if a refund is due at tax time.

Pay electronically anytime

Taxpayers can pay their 2019 estimated tax payments electronically anytime before the final due date for the tax year. Most taxpayers make estimated tax payments in equal amounts by the four established due dates. The three remaining due dates for tax year 2019 estimated taxes are June 17, Sept. 16, and the final payment is due Jan. 15, 2020. Direct Pay and EFTPS are both free payment options, and taxpayers can schedule their payments in advance as well as receive email notifications about the payment. Visit IRS.gov/payments to schedule electronic payments online, by phone or via the IRS2go mobile app.

Educators can claim deduction to get money back for classroom expenses

Educators may be able to deduct unreimbursed expenses on their tax return. This deduction can put money right back in the pockets of eligible teachers and other educators.

Here are some things to know about this deduction:

  • Educators can deduct up to $250 of trade or business expenses that were not reimbursed. As teachers prepare for the next school year, they should remember to keep receipts after making any purchase to support claiming this deduction.
  • The deduction is $500 if both taxpayers are eligible educators and file their return using the status married filing jointly. These taxpayers cannot deduct more than $250 each.
  • Qualified expenses are amounts the taxpayer paid themselves during the tax year.
    • Examples of expenses the educator can deduct include:
    • Professional development course fees
    • Books
    • Supplies
    • Computer equipment, including related software and services
    • Other equipment and materials used in the classroom
  • Taxpayers claim the deduction on Form 1040 or Form 1040NR. The taxpayer should remember to complete and attach Form 1040, Schedule 1 to their return.
  • To be considered an eligible educator, the taxpayer must be a kindergarten through grade 12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide. They must also work at least 900 hours a school year in a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under state law.

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NATP

National Association of Tax Professionals