Wage Threshold for Household Employees

2008 Changes The social security and Medicare wage threshold for household employees is $1,600 for 2008. This means that if you pay a household employee cash wages of less than $1,600 in 2008, you do not have to report and pay social security and Medicare taxes on that employee's 2008 wages. 2009 Changes The social [...]

Standard Deduction Increased

The standard deduction for people who do not itemize their deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040) is, in most cases, higher for 2009 than it was for 2008. In addition to the annual increase due to inflation adjustments and the increase allowed for the deduction for certain real estate taxes and a net disaster loss, [...]

COBRA subsidies extended

The COBRA subsidy program was scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2009. But a late reprieve from the government keeps the program up-and-running awhile longer. The extensions were tacked onto a defense appropriations bill -- the Defense Appropriations Act of 2010 -- which was signed on Dec. 19, 2009. Under COBRA (short for the Consolidated [...]

Special Limitation Period for Retroactively Excluding Military Retirement Pay

If you retire from the armed services based on years of service and are later given a retroactive service-connected disability rating by the VA, your retirement pay for the retroactive period is excluded from income up to the amount of VA disability benefits you would have been entitled to receive. You can claim a refund [...]

Residential Energy Credits

2009 Nonbusiness energy property credit. This credit, which expired after 2007, has been reinstated. You may be able to claim a nonbusiness energy property credit of 30% of the cost of certain energy-efficient property or improvements you placed in service in 2009. This property can include high-efficiency heat pumps, air conditioners, and water heaters. It [...]

New homebuyer credit rules

The "first-time homebuyer credit" isn't just for first-time homebuyers anymore. Thanks to a new tax law change, longtime homeowners may also qualify. Under the new "Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009,"  you must complete the purchase of the home before May 1, 2010. If you secure a binding contract before May 1, you [...]

Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefits

Beginning January 1, 2009, the monthly exclusion for commuter highway vehicle transportation and transit passes increased to $120 and the monthly exclusion for qualified parking increased to $230. Beginning March 1, 2009, the monthly exclusion for commuter highway vehicle transportation and transit passes increased to $230. Beginning January 1, 2009, you may be reimbursed for [...]

Personal Exemptions

2008 Changes The amount you can deduct for each exemption has increased to $3,500 for 2008. You lose part of the benefit of your exemptions if your AGI is above a certain amount. The amount at which the phaseout begins depends on your filing status. For 2008, the phaseout begins at: $119,975 for married persons [...]

Double tax benefit for NOLs

The new "Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009" extends and expands the tax break for net operating losses (NOLs) created by the 2009 economic stimulus law. What's more, some business owners may be able to realize a double tax benefit. Here's a quick recap: A business can normally carry back an NOL for [...]

New Rules for Children of Divorced or Separated Parents

Revocation of release of claim to an exemption. For tax years beginning after July 2, 2008 (the 2009 calendar year for most taxpayers), new rules apply to allow the custodial parent to revoke a release of claim to exemption that was previously released to the noncustodial parent on Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim [...]

Increase in Limit on Long-Term Care and Accelerated Death Benefits Exclusion

2009 The limit on the exclusion for payments made on a per diem or other periodic basis under a long-term care insurance contract increases for 2009 to $280 per day. The limit applies to the total of these payments and any accelerated death benefits made on a per diem or other periodic basis under a [...]

IRS raises per diems for 2010

Keeping detailed records of employee travel expenses is a hassle. But there's a way your business can simplify matters without any tax downside: Use the IRS-approved "per diem rates". This way, employees don't have to account for every last cup of coffee or cab ride.  The reimbursements are tax-free to the employees up to certain [...]

Income Averaging for Farmers and Fisherman

Exxon Valdez litigation. If you received qualified settlement income made up of interest and punitive damages in connection with the civil action In re Exxon Valdez, No. 89-095-CV (HRH) (Consolidated) (D. Alaska), you may treat this settlement payment as income from a fishing business for the purpose of income averaging. You are eligible to make [...]

Home/Residence-Related Tax Changes

Discharge of Qualified Principal Residence Indebtedness The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 extended the exclusion from gross income for the discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness by an additional 3 years. The exclusion now applies to debt discharged after 2006 and before 2013. First-Time Homebuyer Credit First-Time Homebuyer Credit Extended to April 30, 2010; [...]

New mortgage interest break

The tax law permits generous deductions for mortgage interest paid in connection with "acquisition debt" and "home equity debt" of a qualified residence. Now a new ruling from the IRS says that you can combine these two breaks on an initial mortgage (IRS Chief Counsel Advice 200940030). Under the tax law, "acquisition debt" is any [...]

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