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An IRS incentive to save for retirement


The Saver’s Credit—an overlooked tax credit made available by the IRS to eligible taxpayers—could make saving for retirement more affordable than many people realize.


(NAPS)—Tips for claiming the Saver’s Credit:

1. Check Your Eligibility

Depending on your filing status and income level, you may qualify for a nonrefundable credit of up to $1,000 (or $2,000 if filing jointly) on your federal income taxes for that year when you contribute to a 401(k), 403(b), 457(b) or similar retirement plan, or IRA.

To be eligible, the maximum Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) for single filers is $31,500 in 2018 and $32,000 in 2019. For the head of a household, the AGI maximum is $47,250 in 2018 and $48,000 in 2019. For those who are married and file a joint return, the AGI maximum is $63,000 in 2018 and $64,000 in 2019.

You must be 18 years or older by January 1 and cannot be a full-time student or be claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return. 

2. Save for Retirement

Save for retirement in your employer’s retirement plan, if offered, or in an IRA. In general, for every dollar you contribute to a qualified retirement plan or IRA (up to the lesser of the limits permitted by an employer-sponsored plan or the IRS), you defer that amount from your current overall taxable income on your federal tax returns—and you may also qualify for the Saver’s Credit. After-tax contributions, such as those made to a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k), are also eligible for the credit. You have until April 15, 2019 to make a contribution to an IRA for tax year 2018.

3. File Your Tax Return and Claim the Credit

When you prepare your federal tax returns, you can claim your Saver’s Credit by subtracting this tax credit from your federal income taxes owed.

Workers who are eligible to claim the Saver’s Credit are also eligible to take advantage of the IRS Free File program for taxpayers with an AGI of $66,000 or less. Twelve commercial software companies make their tax preparation software available through the Free File program at www.irs.gov/FreeFile. 

• If you are using tax preparation software, use Form 1040 or Form 1040NR. If your software has an interview process, be sure to answer questions about the Saver’s Credit, also referred to as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit and/or Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions.

• If you are preparing your tax returns manually, complete Form 8880, the Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions, to determine your exact credit rate and amount. Then transfer the amount to Schedule 3 (Form 1040) or Form 1040NR.

• If you are using a professional tax preparer, be sure to ask about the Saver’s Credit.

• Consider having any refund you receive directly deposited to an IRA to further boost your retirement savings.

The 19th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey found that 62 percent of American workers are unaware that the Saver’s Credit exists. Don’t overlook this important tax credit; it may help you pay less in your current federal income taxes while saving for retirement. Spread the word—perhaps friends and family are eligible for this incentive but are unaware of it. 

For more details and resources on the Saver’s Credit in English and Spanish, visit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® at www.transamericacenter.org/saverscredit.

TCRS is a division of Transamerica Institute®, a nonprofit, private foundation. 

Posted in Tax TimeComments (0)

Payment options for taxpayers who owe but can’t pay in full

WASHINGTON ― As the 2019 tax filing season gets into full swing, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers who owe of the many easy payment options.

The IRS anticipates that most taxpayers will be affected by major tax law changes. While most will get a tax refund, others may find that they owe taxes, many of whom may qualify for a waiver of the estimated tax penalty that normally applies. See Form 2210, Underpayment of Estimated Tax by Individuals, Estates and Trusts, and its instructions for details.

“The IRS understands there were many changes that affected people last year, and the new penalty waiver will help taxpayers who inadvertently had too little tax withheld,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We encourage people to check their withholding again this year to make sure they have the right amount of tax withheld for 2019.”

The IRS urges people with a filing requirement and a balance due to file by the April 15 deadline even if they cannot pay in full. Taxpayers in this situation should pay what they can and consider a payment plan for the remaining balance.

Taxpayers who owe taxes can choose among the following payment options:

*IRS Direct Pay allows payment directly from a checking or savings account. This service is free.

*Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or EFTPS. Pay by phone or online. This service is free.

*Debit or credit card payment. This service is free, but the processing company may charge a fee. Fees vary by company.

*Check or money order made payable to the United States Treasury (or U.S. Treasury) either in person or through the mail.

*Cash payments at some IRS offices or at a participating PayNearMe location. Some restrictions apply. Taxpayers should not send cash through the mail.

Taxpayers who are unable to pay their taxes in full should act quickly. Several payment options are available including:

*Online Payment Agreement: Individuals who owe $50,000 or less in combined income tax, penalties and interest and businesses that owe $25,000 or less in payroll tax and have filed all tax returns may qualify for an Online Payment Agreement. Most taxpayers qualify for this option, and an agreement can usually be set up in a matter of minutes. Online applications to establish tax payment plans, like online payment agreements and installment agreements, are available Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.; Saturday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 6 p.m. to midnight. All times are Eastern time.

Installment Agreement: Installment agreements paid by direct deposit from a bank account or a payroll deduction will help taxpayers avoid default on their agreements. It also reduces the burden of mailing payments and saves postage costs. Even taxpayers who don’t qualify for a payment agreement may still pay by installment. Certain fees apply.

Delaying Collection: If the IRS determines a taxpayer is unable to pay, it may delay collection until the taxpayer’s financial condition improves.

Offer in Compromise: Certain taxpayers qualify to settle their tax bill for less than the amount they owe by submitting an offer in compromise. To help determine eligibility, use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool.

In addition, taxpayers can consider other options for payment, including getting a loan to pay the amount due. In many cases, loan costs may be lower than the combination of interest and penalties the IRS must charge under federal law.

Check tax withholding

The IRS urges all taxpayers to check their withholding for 2019, especially those who made withholding adjustments in 2018 or had a major life change. Those most at risk of having too little tax withheld from their pay include taxpayers who itemized in the past but now take the increased standard deduction as well as two-wage-earner households, employees with non-wage sources of income, and those with complex tax situations.

To help taxpayers allocate the appropriate withholding to their paychecks throughout the year in 2019, an updated version of the agency’s online Withholding Calculator is now available on IRS.gov. It’s never too early to check your withholding. While it’s a good idea any year, starting early in 2019 is particularly important as most tax filers adjust to the revised tax rates, deductions and credits.

Online tools

The IRS urges taxpayers to take advantage of the many tools and other resources available on IRS.gov. Taxpayers have a variety of options to get help filing and preparing their tax returns on IRS.gov, the official IRS website. Taxpayers can also find answers to their tax questions and resolve tax issues online. The Let Us Help You page answers most tax questions, and Publication 5136, IRS Services Guide, links to these and other IRS services.

Taxpayers can go to IRS.gov/account to securely access information about their federal tax account. They can view the amount they owe, pay online or set up an online payment agreement; access their tax records online; review the past 18 months of payment history; and view key tax return information for the current year as filed. Visit IRS.gov/secureaccess to review the required identity authentication process.

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IRS kicks off 2019 tax-filing season as tax agency reopens


Use IRS.gov to avoid phone delays

WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service successfully opened the 2019 tax-filing season today as the agency started accepting and processing federal tax returns for tax year 2018. Despite the major tax law changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the IRS was able to open this year’s tax-filing season one day earlier than the 2018 tax-filing season.

More than 150 million individual tax returns for the 2018 tax year are expected to be filed, with the vast majority of those coming before the April tax deadline. Through mid-day Monday, the IRS had already received several million tax returns during the busy opening hours.

“I am extremely proud of the entire IRS workforce. The dedicated IRS employees have worked tirelessly to successfully implement the biggest tax law changes in 30 years and launch tax season for the nation,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Although we face various near- and longer-term challenges, our employees are committed to doing everything we can to help taxpayers and get refunds out quickly.”

Following the government shutdown, the IRS is working to promptly resume normal operations.

“The IRS will be doing everything it can to have a smooth filing season,” Rettig said. “Taxpayers can minimize errors and speed refunds by using e-file and IRS Free File along with direct deposit.”

The IRS expects the first refunds to go out in the first week of February and many refunds to be paid by mid- to late February like previous years. The IRS reminds taxpayers to check “Where’s My Refund?” for updates. Demand on IRS phones during the early weeks of tax season is traditionally heavy, so taxpayers are encouraged to use IRS.gov to find answers before they call.

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IRS waives estimated tax penalty


The Internal Revenue Service announced earlier this month that it is waiving the estimated tax penalty for many taxpayers whose 2018 federal income tax withholding and estimated tax payments fell short of their total tax liability for the year. 

The IRS is generally waiving the penalty for any taxpayer who paid at least 85 percent of their total tax liability during the year through federal income tax withholding, quarterly estimated tax payments or a combination of the two. The usual percentage threshold is 90 percent to avoid a penalty. 

The waiver computation announced will be integrated into commercially-available tax software and reflected in the forthcoming revision of Form 2210 and instructions. 

This relief is designed to help taxpayers who were unable to properly adjust their withholding and estimated tax payments to reflect an array of changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the far-reaching tax reform law enacted in December 2017. 

“We realize there were many changes that affected people last year, and this penalty waiver will help taxpayers who inadvertently didn’t have enough tax withheld,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We urge people to check their withholding again this year to make sure they are having the right amount of tax withheld for 2019.” 

The updated federal tax withholding tables, released in early 2018, largely reflected the lower tax rates and the increased standard deduction brought about by the new law. This generally meant taxpayers had less tax withheld in 2018 and saw more in their paychecks. 

However, the withholding tables couldn’t fully factor in other changes, such as the suspension of dependency exemptions and reduced itemized deductions. As a result, some taxpayers could have paid too little tax during the year, if they did not submit a properly-revised W-4 withholding form to their employer or increase their estimated tax payments. The IRS and partner groups conducted an extensive outreach and education campaign throughout 2018 to encourage taxpayers to do a “Paycheck Checkup” to avoid a situation where they had too much or too little tax withheld when they file their tax returns. 

Although most 2018 tax filers are still expected to get refunds, some taxpayers will unexpectedly owe additional tax when they file their returns. 

Additional Information 

Because the U.S. tax system is pay-as-you-go, taxpayers are required, by law, to pay most of their tax obligation during the year, rather than at the end of the year. This can be done by either having tax withheld from paychecks or pension payments, or by making estimated tax payments. 

Usually, a penalty applies at tax filing if too little is paid during the year. Normally, the penalty would not apply for 2018 if tax payments during the year met one of the following tests: 

The person’s tax payments were at least 90 percent of the tax liability for 2018 or 

The person’s tax payments were at least 100 percent of the prior year’s tax liability, in this case from 2017. 

However, the 100 percent threshold is increased to 110 percent if a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income is more than $150,000, or $75,000 if married and filing a separate return. 

For waiver purposes only, today’s relief lowers the 90 percent threshold to 85 percent. This means that a taxpayer will not owe a penalty if they paid at least 85 percent of their total 2018 tax liability. If the taxpayer paid less than 85 percent, then they are not eligible for the waiver and the penalty will be calculated as it normally would be, using the 90 percent threshold. For further details, see Notice 2019-11, posted on IRS.gov. 

Like last year, the IRS urges everyone to check their withholding for 2019. This is especially important for anyone now facing an unexpected tax bill when they file. This is also an important step for those who made withholding adjustments in 2018 or had a major life change to ensure the right tax is still being withheld. Those most at risk of having too little tax withheld from their pay include taxpayers who itemized in the past but now take the increased standard deduction, as well as two-wage-earner households, employees with nonwage sources of income and those with complex tax situations. 

To help taxpayers get their withholding right in 2019, an updated version of the agency’s online Withholding Calculator is now available on IRS.gov. With tax season starting Jan. 28, the IRS reminds taxpayers it’s never too early to get ready for the tax-filing season ahead. While it’s a good idea any year, starting early in 2019 is particularly important as most tax filers adjust to the revised tax rates, deductions and credits. 

Although the IRS won’t begin processing 2018 returns until Jan. 28, software companies and tax professionals will be accepting and preparing returns before that date. Free File is also now available. 

The IRS also reminds taxpayers there are two useful resources for anyone interested in learning more about tax reform. They are Publication 5307, Tax Reform: Basics for Individuals and Families, and Publication 5318, Tax 

Reform What’s New for Your Business. For other tips and resources, visit IRS.gov/taxreform or check out the Get Ready page on IRS.gov. 

Posted in Tax TimeComments (0)

IRS confirms tax filing season to begin January 28


IR-2019-01, January 7, 2019

WASHINGTON — Despite the government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service has confirmed that it will process tax returns beginning January 28, 2019 and provide refunds to taxpayers as scheduled.

“We are committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive their refunds notwithstanding the government shutdown. I appreciate the hard work of the employees and their commitment to the taxpayers during this period,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.

Congress directed the payment of all tax refunds through a permanent, indefinite appropriation (31 U.S.C. 1324), and the IRS has consistently been of the view that it has authority to pay refunds despite a lapse in annual appropriations. Although in 2011 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed the IRS not to pay refunds during a lapse, OMB has reviewed the relevant law at Treasury’s request and concluded that IRS may pay tax refunds during a lapse.

The IRS will be recalling a significant portion of its workforce, currently furloughed as part of the government shutdown, to work. Additional details for the IRS filing season will be included in an updated FY2019 Lapsed Appropriations Contingency Plan to be released publicly in the coming days.

“IRS employees have been hard at work over the past year to implement the biggest tax law changes the nation has seen in more than 30 years,” said Rettig.

As in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing individual tax returns once the filing season begins. For taxpayers who usually file early in the year and have all of the needed documentation, there is no need to wait to file. They should file when they are ready to submit a complete and accurate tax return.

The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2019 for most taxpayers. Because of the Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15 in Maine and Massachusetts and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16 in the District of Columbia, taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17, 2019 to file their returns.

Software companies and tax professionals will be accepting and preparing tax returns before Jan. 28 and then will submit the returns when the IRS systems open later this month. The IRS strongly encourages people to file their tax returns electronically to minimize errors and for faster refunds.

Posted in Featured, Tax TimeComments (0)

Step challenge results in donation to Cedar Springs Public Library


The 14 branches of ChoiceOne Bank recently took part in a step challenge. Not only did it promote a healthy lifestyle choice, but it was a means to give back to the community as well. The branch with the most steps at the end of the challenge would get to donate a $500 check to an organization of their choice.

The ChoiceOne Cedar Springs Branch won the step challenge with nearly 40,000 steps. They chose to donate the $500 to the Cedar Springs Public Library (CSPL).

“We chose the library because they are very prevalent in Cedar Springs and they are always very appreciative of any support they receive from the community,” said ChoiceOne Bank Cedar Springs Branch Manager Stacy Helsel. “The library sponsors many activities for people of all ages throughout the year and asks for little in return. Most activities have little to no cost to participate. We wanted to help so they could continue to promote programs for all ages.” 

“Your Library staff here at the CSPL are all very proud of our hometown ChoiceOne Bank employees who really out-stepped 13 other branches to win this challenge,” said Cedar Springs Public Library Director Donna Clark. “We’re so grateful to ChoiceOne Bank for the heart you showed and the effort you made to bring your great gift home to your Library. We are thrilled to channel it back into the community through various library services and resources.”

ChoiceOne Bank’s Culture Committee launched the challenge. President and CEO Kelly Potes formed the committee two years ago. The Culture Committee launched a Health and Wellness Program in 2018 and the “step challenge” paired well. The program encourages healthy lifestyle choices related to eating, exercise, and mental health. Healthy lifestyles and community support blend well for a community bank like ChoiceOne.

 “Community is important because it brings everyone together for one common cause,” said Helsel. “It encourages people to get to know their neighbors. That’s especially important for us at ChoiceOne.”

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Infallible Home Care


Are you looking for someone to help with home care for a family member? You might want to check out a new business located at 4759-1/2 14 Mile Road—Infallibe Home Care, LLC. Owners Florence Parker-Tunnell and Jamie Gray are offering home care services for those who need it.

“We are broadening availability of help to those who need it and those that want to provide it,” they said.

They offer help with bathing/grooming; medication reminders; errands; meal preparation; respite care for families; positive companionship; mobility assistance; homemaker services; incontinence care; etc. “We help to keep people home and improve quality of life,” they explained.

The business is family-owned, and they have had experience with having caregivers in their own home. “We have felt and know what making a difference means and being a delightful help to someone’s day,” they remarked.

They eventually hope to expand to rural areas where there may not be help that is accessible or too challenging for caregivers to be dependable.

Hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Give them a call at 616-263-9656 for more info. Visit them at www.infallible-homecare.com and like their facebook page.

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Protect your tax return, be smart when searching for a tax preparer

From the BBB of Western Michigan


The new year brings with it the start of tax season. Even with the government shutdown, the IRS says it will begin processing returns on January 28th. Of course, the filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2019. Even with the convenience of tax return software, more than half of returns submitted to the IRS last year were prepared by someone other than the taxpayer. 

“This is the time of year we see an increase in tax fraud targeting consumers,” says Phil Catlett, President of the Better Business Bureau serving Western Michigan. “Taxpayers could lose a lot of money if they are not careful about who they hire to do their taxes.” With this in mind, it is important to take steps to ensure your returns are accurate and secure.

Find the right tax preparer

Do your research. Before hiring someone, check their background and reputation. Research the preparer online and at bbb.org. Meet with them and make sure you are comfortable with the person doing your taxes.

Ask about their fees ahead of time. Know how much they charge for their services before hiring them. This includes any fees for e-Filing State, Federal and Local returns.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of tax services who make a promise of a big refund, or asks for a percentage of your return for a fee.

Where are they after April 15th? Always be sure to ask the tax service how you can contact them after tax season ends, especially if they are at a temporary location. 

Be prepared.When it is time to prepare your return make sure you have all of your tax forms and receipts ready. For more information visit irs.gov or michigan.gov/taxes

Read before you sign. Go over your return thoroughly before submitting it to the government. Read each page and never sign a blank return. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand or any numbers that don’t make sense. In most cases the preparer must also sign the return. Remember, you are responsible for the accuracy of your return.

Do your taxes early. One common fraud during tax season involves identity theft. Scammers try to submit a return in your name and have your refund come to them. You can avoid this by beating them too it, and submitting your tax return early.

Use direct deposit. Waiting for a check in the mail can be frustrating. The fastest way to receive your tax refund is by attaching your bank account and routing information to your return. Be sure to double check for mistakes, including banking and routing numbers. Mistakes will delay your refund. 

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Local nurse named Special Programs Caregiver of the Year

Zana McClure, CNA, has been named a Special Programs Caregiver of the Year by Maxim Healthcare Services, a provider of home healthcare, behavioral care, healthcare staffing, personal caregiving, and population health and wellness solutions. The Pierson resident is being recognized for her dedicated care of patients at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.  

McClure has been working at the long-term care facility for more than eight years and currently cares for 29 veterans. She helps her patients, who range from octogenarians that served in World War II to veterans of modern conflicts who would otherwise be homeless, with a variety of needs. McClure is known among her patients for her clinical skill, as well as her companionship. When she’s not providing medical care, she is walking patients around the grounds, preparing them to eat and assisting with extracurricular activities like woodworking and ceramics.  

McClure’s commitment to the veterans in her unit is a personal one. Her husband served in the armed forces for 15 years and unexpectedly passed away in 2017 while working as a mechanical engineer. Following his tragic death, McClure coped by throwing herself into her work where her responsibilities took on new meaning. “This is something I need to do to honor him,” she said.

When McClure is not at work, she is taking care of her own mother at home. Her teammates contend that McClure treats all her patients like family and is always willing to step up for others. “She does all of this because she is committed to the veterans, their families and her teammates. She is dedicated to ensuring our veterans never go without care, and her level of selfless service goes unmatched,” said Jawn Oilar, portfolio director at Maxim.

A panel of judges selected McClure and three other regional winners to be recognized at a special awards ceremony hosted by Maxim Healthcare Services in Orlando, Florida, on January 30. McClure’s commitment to quality patient care will be highlighted in a tribute video debuted at the ceremony.

Now in its seventh year, the Caregiver of the Year Award program celebrates nurses and home healthcare aides for the key roles they play in delivering quality, patient-centered care to some of the nation’s most medically fragile and chronically ill patients.

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Business, community working together

The football parents provide team dinner for the players and coaches every week on the evening before game day. In the week before the first playoff game, a group of football moms were contacting local businesses asking for donations for that week. Anne West, mother of Varsity player Ethan West, contacted Tom Goldsmith, franchise owner of Culver’s,  because her son and other football players work there. Anne said Tom responded back immediately with what they could donate, and it was way more than she expected. It included 300 chicken tenders, 15 pounds of pot roast, 90 buns, 80 concrete mixers, and ranch and barbecue cups.

“He was very generous with his donation as he’s only been in the community for a little over 3 months and we were asking to provide for 70 players and coaches,” remarked Anne. “When we arrived on Thursday, he had one of his crew leaders, Owen, meet us in the back and brought out a large warming cart with all the hot and cold food items. He even loaded up the vehicle with all the food so we were in and out of there within 10 minutes.” 

Because the team wanted to show their appreciation, they had all the varsity players sign a autographable photo matte which included a picture of the team and coaches after beating Forest Hills Northern and clinching the OK White Conference Championship. They also provided some other items and took a picture with a couple of his crew members underneath the Culver’s sign after the meal.

“This is such a great example of how great our small town community is in supporting our football team,” said Anne.

Posted in Business, Cedar Springs Public Schools, SportsComments (0)

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