Special tax breaks for members of the military and their families.

There are some special tax breaks for members of the military and their families. Learn how you can save money on your taxes.

If you’re active duty military or a military spouse, there are a few ways to keep money in your pocket this tax season.

1. Moving expenses. Service members who are on active duty and move because of a permanent change of station (PCS) can deduct the reasonable unreimbursed expenses of moving.

2. Combat pay. Enlisted personnel and warrant officers who serve in a combat zone for any part of a month can exclude all military pay for that month from their income. Commissioned officers also can exclude a limited amount of pay.

3. Joint returns. Spouses who are not available to sign a joint income-tax return due to military duty may use a power of attorney or IRS Form 2848 to file the return.

4. End of Service. During the transition to civilian life, you may be able to deduct certain job search and/or moving expenses. You should also remember to meet with your financial professional to make sure you have adequate insurance coverage.

You can depend on the experienced accountants at T. Williams & Associates for fresh ideas to reduce your taxes through proactive planning and skillful income tax preparation. With us in your corner, you’ll take advantage of every avenue available to minimize your tax burden and maximize your income. For more help with individual or business taxes, connect with us today. Our team can help you with all your tax issues, large or small.

3 Money Management Tips to Meet Your Small Business Financial Goals at Year-End

Resources to help you with money management do not need to be an EXTRA scary task.  The perfect way to satisfy this year’s financial goals in your small business is to take one step at a time.

1) Set a budget and stick to it. If the idea of budgeting seems intimidating, start with something simple by writing down your monthly income (paychecks, child support, etc.) and how much money you spend each month (rent, food, child care, car loan, etc.). Use this budget worksheet to help you plan.

2) Give your business and personal finances a wellness check. Your personal finances and well-being are closely tied to how well your business is doing.  Whether or not your business is as healthy as you’d like to be, it is recommended to run a wellness check to ensure that you meet your business’ financial goals.

3) Hire a tax professional to help you with your year-end tax planning.  The US code can be complex and difficult to understand.  Tax planning allows you to take advantage of strategies that may help reduce your tax obligation. To make things even easier, we recommend researching your tax credit opportunities to reduce your liability.

T. Williams & Associates are willing to educate our clients as to what their financial statements say as well as make suggestions as to what courses of action are advisable.  With the new year fast approaching, it’s important to understand the recent changes to our tax laws. Together, we can identify new ways to save you money and increase profits wherever possible. Through our experience and expertise, we have developed proven processes to help automate your bookkeeping, increase your cash flow, and ultimately save money on your taxes.

If you enroll in our accounting services by December 31st, we are offering a two month FREE trial of our payroll and Online Quickbooks software!*

Please follow this link to schedule a meeting or conference call, so we can discuss your business’ needs and determine how much money we can save you monthly.

Church Payroll and Compensation Rules

Generally, churches and religious organization are required to withhold report, and pay income and Federal insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes for their employees. Substantial penalties may be imposed against an organization that fails to withhold and pay the proper employment tax.
In addition, this is a target audit item for the Internal Revenue Service when it comes to ministries and nonprofit organization. Some churches have historically mishandled employee treatment. Some churches hire payroll companies to handle this process.

Here are some special rules for compensation to remember:

Withholding Income Tax for Ministers
Unlike other exempt organization or businesses, a church is not required to withhold income tax from the compensation that it pays to duly ordained, commissioned or licensed minsters for performing services in the exercise of their ministry. An employee minister may complete an IRS Form W-4 Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, and the church should report the compensation on a W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. If the minister is independent contractor, the church should report compensation on 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income.

Housing Allowance
A housing allowance can be beneficial for ministers because an allowance for husing ex excluded from federal income tax. However, it is not exempt from the minister-s self-employment tax. In order to qualify for the exclusion from federal income tax, two very important conditions must be satisfied.
1. The housing allowance must be board approved before it was paid.
2. The minister actually spent the allowance on eligible housing expenses during the year.

The church must make sure the amount they designate as allowance for housing is determine beforehand. It should be included in a board approved resolution and properly documented in the church records. Most of the time, it is reviewed and adjusted before the beginning of each new budget year.

Social Security and Medicare Taxes –
Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA)
FICA taxes consist of Social Security and Medicare taxes. Wages paid to employees of churches or religious organization are subject to FICA taxes unless, wages are paid for services by a ordained, commissioned or licensed minister or a church, pays the employees wages less than $108.28 in a calendar year or the church is opposed to the payment of Social Security and Medicare taxes for religious reasons files IRS Form 8274.

Withheld employee income tax and FICA taxes are reported on IRS Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return or an annual Form 944, depending on your required filing status.

Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA)
Churches and religious organization are not liable for FUTA tax.

Give Your Business and Personal Finances a Wellness Check

For richer, for poorer, for better, for worse. If you own a small business, these familiar wedding vows might signify more than promises to a spouse. They might describe your relationship with your business as well. And with good reason if your personal financial well-being is closely tied to how well your business is doing.
A strong cash flow is good for business and good for you. If your company’s cash flow isn’t as healthy as you’d like it to be, here are some things to consider.



Rely on Reports

What you don’t know can hurt you, especially when it comes to cash flow. If you’re not already checking them, start generating cash flow and cash balance reports on a monthly basis. If your figures are off for even a few months, find out why. A problem could be lurking.



Market, Market, Market

When things are slow, developing new business opportunities is critical to your cash flow — and perhaps, your company’s survival. But it’s also critical when things are good. You can’t afford to be complacent about the future. If you stop devoting time to growing your business, your success may be short-lived.

Look at Limits

In a cash crunch, many small business owners instinctively dip into their personal accounts to help their businesses over the hump. While this may be simpler and faster than some other solutions, it could turn disastrous for an owner’s personal finances if the business is seriously failing. If you haven’t already decided how much of your personal assets you’re willing to invest in your business, now may be a good time to come up with a limit.



Create a Credit Line

Even if you’re doing everything right, you could still hit a rough patch. Or, an opportunity might come up that requires some quick financial maneuvering. Instead of using your own money, consider using a line of credit. For maximum flexibility, establish a line of credit for your business before you need it. If you wait to apply until you’re in a bind or a hurry, you might be turned down.



Wedded Bliss

If your personal and business finances are intertwined, your planning should integrate the two.



Tax Credit Opportunities

Tax deductions aren’t the only things to consider when looking for ways to reduce your 2018 tax bill. There are a number of tax credits that you may be able to claim. A tax credit reduces your tax liability dollar for dollar (and, in some instances, may be fully or partially “refundable” to the extent of any excess credit).



Child-Related Credits

Parents of children under age 17 may claim a child tax credit of up to $2,000 per qualified child. The child tax credit is phased out for higher income taxpayers. A different credit of up to $13,810 is available for the payment of qualified adoption expenses, such as adoption fees, attorney fees, and court costs. The credit is phased out at certain income levels, and there are certain restrictions as to the tax year in which the credit is available. Look into claiming the child and dependent care credit if you pay for the care of a child under age 13 while you work. It’s available for 20% (or more) of up to $3,000 of qualifying expenses ($6,000 for two or more dependents). This credit isn’t confined to child care expenses — it may also be applicable for the care of a disabled spouse or another adult dependent.



Higher Education Credits

The American Opportunity credit can be as much as $2,500 annually (per student) for the payment of tuition and related expenses for the first four years of college. A different credit — known as the Lifetime Learning credit — is available for undergraduate or graduate tuition and for job training courses (maximum credit of $2,000 per tax return). You’re not allowed to claim both credits for the same student’s expenses, and both credits are subject to income-based phaseouts and other requirements.



Sometimes Overlooked

One credit that taxpayers sometimes miss is the credit for excess Social Security tax withheld. If you work for two or more employers and your combined wages total more than the Social Security taxable wage base ($128,400 in 2018), too much Social Security tax will be withheld from your pay. You can claim the excess as a credit against your income tax. The alternative minimum tax (AMT) credit is another credit that’s easy to overlook. If you paid the AMT last year, you may be able to take a credit for at least some of the AMT you paid. The credit is available only for AMT paid with respect to certain “deferral preference” items, such as the adjustment required when incentive stock options are exercised.

Your tax advisor can provide more details regarding these and other tax credits that may be available to you.



Need a Small Business Loan? Follow These Steps

Is it time to put your expansion plan on the front burner? Have you outgrown your current location? Do you need to replace some equipment? There are many reasons small business owners might be in the market for a loan. If you’ll be shopping soon, here are some pointers.

Check your credit. When you apply for a loan, the lender will look at your personal and your business credit histories. Before you start the application process, check to make sure both are accurate and up to date. If there are errors, resolve them ahead of time.




Polish your plan. Prospective lenders will want to know as much as possible about your business. Prepare a comprehensive, up-to-date business plan that provides information about your company (a description and an executive summary) and yourself (educational background and relevant experience). Since your plan may be pivotal in convincing potential lenders to approve your loan, consider including an overview of your management team and key personnel along with some market analysis and a marketing plan.

You should also be prepared to provide financial statements and cash flow projections. Lenders may request personal financial statements for you and other owners as well.

Check your equity. Before you submit a loan application, make sure you have enough equity in the business. Although requirements can vary, lenders generally want a company’s total liabilities to be less than four times equity. A lender may require you to put some additional money into your business before approving you for a loan.




Identify collateral. Lenders generally require collateral, an alternate repayment source that can be used in case your business isn’t generating enough cash to make payments on your loan. Either business or personal assets can be used. If you don’t have anything you can use as collateral, perhaps you can find someone who does who will cosign the loan.

Look for a good match. If you already have a good working relationship with a bank that lends to small businesses, it makes sense to start there. If you don’t, or if your bank isn’t a good match, do your homework. Look for lenders that do business with companies similar in size to your own. Finding a lender that’s familiar with your industry is an added bonus.