Your Friends that Count

“Your Friends that Count” is an informative, consumer-focused accounting blog by the Certified Public Accounting team at John Kasperek Co., Inc.

The Early Bird Gets the Return: IRS Backlogs and Tax Identity Theft

shutterstock 3664811While multiple media outlets were reporting last week that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was over 1.2 million returns backlogged prior to the start of tax season due to the government shutdown, taxpayers should expect delays as warned. Additional delays may also be caused due to new laws related to stopping identity theft. Some delays could be two weeks to a month or more.

Expecting delays doesn’t mean taxpayers may as well wait to file their returns. Getting a tax return filed as quickly as possible can alleviate both concerns – the IRS treats tax returns on a first come first served basis, so the sooner you complete your return the sooner it will get processed and the sooner you complete your return the less chance for a scammer to beat you to your refund.

The IRS estimates it paid out $1.3 billion in fraudulent tax refunds last year. It’s a real issue that can cause more headaches than you think. If you're a victim of identity theft, you're going to have to submit documents to the IRS to get the identity issue resolved, which can be a long and difficult process. Additionally, if a criminal has the necessary material to file a fraudulent return, think about what else they could do with that information.

The IRS suggests the following steps if you might be a victim of identity theft:

  • File a report with the local police.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.consumer.ftc.gov or the FTC Identity Theft hotline at 877-438-4338 or TTY 866-653-4261.
  • Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a “fraud alert’ on your account:
  • Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.


If your SSN has been compromised and you know or suspect you may be a victim of tax-related identity theft, take these additional steps:

  • Respond immediately to any IRS notice; call the number provided.
  • Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. Use a fillable form at IRS.gov, print, then mail or fax according to instructions.
  • Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper.
  • If you previously contacted the IRS and did not have a resolution, contact the Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490. We have teams available to assist.

If you are unable to get your issue resolved and are experiencing financial difficulties, contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service toll-free at 877-777-4778.

Now is a good time to consult a tax professional to best determine how the law affects your unique situation. John Kasperek Co., Inc. is a leading expert accounting firm in the Chicago Southland region and can be reached at (708) 862-2262 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

####

Continue reading
  364 Hits
  0 Comments
Tags:
364 Hits
0 Comments

New IRS Publication will Help with Year-End Tax Planning

shutterstock 352461416According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), about 75% of taxpayers take the standard deduction but could be missing out on valuable tax deductions if they can itemize. Now more than ever – with significant code changes resulting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – taxpayers should strongly consider their tax planning before the year-end.

The good news is that the IRS recently issued a new publication that will help taxpayers better understand the reform to enable them to begin setting up their best possible tax scenario. Publication 5307 can be accessed with other beneficial information from IRS.gov/getready.

Publication 5307 provides information about increases to the standard deduction, suspending personal exemptions, increasing and adding credits and limiting or discontinuing certain deductions, and more.

Now is a good time to consult a tax professional to best determine how the law affects your unique situation. John Kasperek Co., Inc. is a leading expert accounting firm in the Chicago Southland region and can be reached at (708) 862-2262 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

####

Continue reading
  544 Hits
  0 Comments
544 Hits
0 Comments

Start Your Tax Planning before the Year End

planAccording to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), about 75% of taxpayers take the standard deduction but could be missing out on valuable tax deductions if they can itemize. If you are like the thousands of Americans who will owe taxes or will have difficulty finalizing your returns next year, understanding some basic deductions accepted by the IRS in advance could have a significant impact on your bottom line. To maximize your returns, consider the advantages of year-end tax planning to set up your best possible tax scenario in the New Year.

The tax laws are pretty straightforward, but beware of the alternative minimum tax and always consult a tax professional to best determine how the law affects your unique situation (John Kasperek Co., Inc. is offering a $25 credit for individuals and $50 for businesses who begin planning before the year-end). Here are some tips to consider as you explore your year-end options:

Accelerate Your Deductions
Before the year’s over, make those charitable donations or expense purchases that will be considered deductible. You control the timing, so contact your favorite charity to make donations, purchase tickets or donate in-kind contributions in advance. Other expenses you can accelerate include an estimated state income tax bill due January 15, a property tax bill due early next year, or a doctor’s bill. Remember, you must have a receipt to back up any contribution, regardless of the amount.

Deferred Income
Income is taxed in the year it is received, but you may be able to defer a year-end bonus into next year if your employer has done so before. If you are self-employed, delaying billings until late December can ensure that you won't receive payment until the next year. Whether you are employed or self-employed, you can also defer income by taking capital gains in 2018 instead of in 2017 if you think you will be in the same or a lower tax bracket next year. (You don't want to be hit with a bigger tax bill next year if additional income could push you into a higher tax bracket.)

Sell Investments
Selling investments such as stocks and mutual funds to realize losses can offset any taxable gains you have realized during the year. Losses offset gains dollar for dollar, and if your losses are more than your gains, you can use up to $3,000 of excess loss to wipe out other income, and if you have more than $3,000 in excess loss, it can be carried over to the next year.

Contribute to Retirement Accounts
Tax-deferred retirement accounts can grow to a substantial sum because they compound over time free of taxes. You may want to increase your 401(k) contributions so that you are putting in the maximum amount of money allowed ($18,000 for 2017, $24,000 if you are age 50 or over). At a minimum, try to contribute the amount that will be matched by employer contributions.

Understanding Your Situation
If your qualifying expenses exceed the standard deduction, which in 2017 is $6,350 if you are single, or $12,700 if you’re married filing jointly, then you likely should maximize your deductions and itemize. However, sometimes accelerating deductions can cost you money if you're already in the alternative minimum tax (AMT) or if you trigger it. The AMT is figured separately from your regular tax liability and with different rules—you must pay whichever tax bill is higher. This is a year-end issue because certain expenses that are deductible under the regular rules—and therefore candidates for accelerated payments—are not deductible under the AMT. State and local income taxes and property taxes, for example, are not deductible under the AMT. So, if you expect to be subject to the AMT in 2017, consider paying the installments when they are due in January 2018 as opposed to paying them in December 2017.

Continue reading
  1350 Hits
  0 Comments
1350 Hits
0 Comments

Attention Illinois Teachers—You May be Eligible for a New Tax Credit

shutterstock 270635540Teachers will now have more resources to put into their classrooms, and not just because of Illinois lawmakers’ recent passing of a new school funding formula. Thanks to new bill sponsored by Representative Sue Scherer (Dem.), Illinois educators may be eligible for a new $250 state tax credit in addition to the existing federal deduction.

Teachers and aides often spend hundreds of dollars each year to improve their classroom experience at their own expense. The federal government already allowed teachers to claim tax deductions on supplies they bring to school, up to $250. Now, the state of Illinois will also allow them to claim up to $250 in deductions for instructional materials and supplies on their state income tax returns. The new state credit is available to all teachers, principals or aides in Illinois qualified schools who work at least 900 hours during a school year. Teachers in both private and public schools can apply for the credit.

This new credit went into effect this school year. While the state credit will provide some additional relief to teachers, the hope is that it may also help students of families who might not be able to afford the entire school supply list.

Please keep in mind, as with almost every rule there are exceptions and limitations and John Kasperek Co., Inc. strongly recommends you consult a tax professional to best determine how the law affects your unique situation.

####

Continue reading
  1448 Hits
  0 Comments
1448 Hits
0 Comments

Why is the IRS Holding Back My Tax Refund?

taxreturn

If you are still waiting for your federal income tax return, you probably think you will be facing your first Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Audit. But don’t stress yourself out just yet, being selected for an audit doesn’t necessarily suggest there are issues and there are a number of other reasons your refund could be held up.

First and foremost, if you are selected for an audit, the IRS will notify you via mail on official letterhead. IRS Audits are NEVER communicated through phone calls, text messages or emails – don’t fall victim to these common scams. Selection for an audit does not always mean there’s a problem. The IRS uses several methods of random selection in their process along with computer screening. Another method for selection relates to your return’s involvement with issues or transactions with other taxpayers, such as business partners or investors, whose returns were selected for audit.

There are limitations to selection – the IRS has three years to audit tax returns, although they could look back as far as six years if they come across a significant understatement of income. If your return is selected, the IRS manages audits either by mail or through an in-person interview. The IRS will provide all contact information and instructions in the letter you will receive. For an idea of what to expect, visit Audit Techniques Guides.

On the other hand – if you are not under IRS Audit and have not received your return – the U.S. Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service also has the authority to hold back all or part of your refund to cover certain debts you may owe to help pay them off, a practice called “offset.” Common reasons for offset include but are not limited to unpaid federal or state taxes, child or spousal support, a defaulted student loan, or even unemployment compensation to which you were not entitled.

Please keep in mind, as with almost every rule there are exceptions and limitations and John Kasperek Co., Inc. strongly recommends you consult a tax professional to best determine how the law affects your unique situation. The IRS also provides a free Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) using Form 911. The TAS is designed to assist both businesses and individual taxpayers with tax-related issues. It provides confidential and personalized service to taxpayers who need help resolving IRS problems that they have not been able to resolve through normal IRS channels. 

Continue reading
  1295 Hits
  0 Comments
Tags:
1295 Hits
0 Comments

Tax Day on a Tuesday? Know your options …

Tax Day Tuesday April 18

Know your options, and take advantage of the tax code. If finalizing your taxes next month expects to be another painful experience (financially, organizationally, or even physically), consider your options early. The Internal Revenue Service provides a fair extension policy for individual taxpayers and partnerships who apply for the automatic extension by Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

That’s right, TUESDAY. So, let’s start there. You may have thought it odd (or may not even have realized) that last year’s tax deadline was Monday, April 17, 2016. Although Tax Day is traditionally on April 15th, if it falls on a weekend the tax deadline is pushed to the following Monday. This year, because Monday, April 17th is Emancipation Day, you have until Tuesday, April 18th to get your taxes done.

While filing an automatic extension is a relatively painless process (more on this later), there are several good reasons to get your taxes in early. These may include reducing exposure to tax fraud, getting money in hand sooner to pay your debts, or giving yourself time to pay your tax debt. Yes, filing early doesn’t necessarily mean paying early. You may file your taxes early and gain certainty about your tax liability and still wait to pay by the April 18th deadline.

On the other hand, the IRS offers automatic extensions for up to six months [October 17] and there are several easy ways to request an extension of time to file a U.S. income tax return. You will need to file a Form 4868 and can pay all or part of your estimated income tax due using Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, credit card, or by check to avoid credit and debit card fees. You can file Form 4868 electronically by accessing IRS FreeFile using your home computer or by utilizing a This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or you may file a paper Form 4868 and enclose payment of your estimate of tax due. Businesses will typically use Form 7004.

Unfortunately, even with an extension you will still owe interest on any tax not paid by the regular due date. The late payment penalty is usually ½ of 1% of any tax (other than estimated tax) not paid by April 18, 2017. There are also late filing penalties, usually of 5%. Penalties are charged for each month or part of a month the tax is unpaid. These penalties will not be charged if you can show reasonable cause for not paying on time (attach a statement to your return fully explaining the reason to your Form 4868).

Please keep in mind, as with almost every rule there are exceptions and limitations and John Kasperek Co., Inc. strongly recommends you consult a tax professional to best determine how the law affects your unique situation. Best of luck this tax season!

Continue reading
  1307 Hits
  0 Comments
1307 Hits
0 Comments
  • Our Clients

    Our Clients

    Our client list at John Kasperek Co., Inc. features a wide range of significant audit work including local governments, townships, school districts, municipal pension funds, not-for-profit organizations and common interest real estate associations. In addition, we also serve a variety of small business S-Corporations, Partnerships and individuals.

    We are happy to provide contact information for referrals upon request. Here is a sample of our client list.

  • Our Staff

    Our Staff

    Our team at John Kasperek Co., Inc., Certified Public Accountants is dedicated to providing quality, personalized financial guidance to local government, not-for-profit organizations, businesses, corporations and individuals.

    Managing Partner John Kasperek, Jr. has developed our team of professionals with an excellent working knowledge of the accounting principles and current standards to provide the highest level of excellence to our clients. Well known throughout Chicagoland area for his diverse expertise in all aspects of accounting, John has built a thriving company that serves the critical needs of the south suburban and northwest Indiana region.

    Please feel free to reach out to John or the rest of our team at John Kasperek Co., Inc. any time for answers to your questions. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (708) 862-2262.

  • Our News

    Our News

    In order to better serve our clients, partners, friends and colleagues, John Kasperek Co., Inc. will issue a new monthly digital newsletter with relevant financial and accounting information, changes to auditing standards and procedures, news and announcements from our firm. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like to be added to our digital newsletter distribution list.

    Additionally, we recently created an informative, consumer-focused accounting blog titled Your Friends that Count that is posted online at www.kasperekcpa.com/friends and is distributed through Facebook and LinkedIn.

    We will post press releases, announcements and stories from our firm to our Newsroom page.
  • Our Office

    Our Office

    Nearly 30 years ago John Kasperek Co., Inc. opened our office on Ring Road in Calumet City, conveniently located near Torrence Avenue, I-80 and I-94. We offer ample, lighted parking just a few steps from our door. Our future plans for expansion include a southwest suburban office.

    Our service area reaches throughout Chicago, the Chicago Southland and Indiana region. We travel to our clients to provide services when and where they are needed.

    1471 Ring Road
    Calumet City, IL 60409
    (708) 862-2262
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.