Dear Clients and Friends:
What a wild and crazy year 2016 was! I am waiting to see what tax developments will come through the pipeline in 2017. It is a good bet that there will be some major changes, but it is uncertain whether they will be retroactive to January 1, 2017, some date later in 2017, or not until 2018. The good news for 2016 is that Congress either extended or made permanent most of the favorable tax provisions that were scheduled to expire on 12/31/15. These include, among others, the itemized deduction for state sales tax in lieu of income tax if the former is larger; the above-the-line deduction for up to $250 of educators’ classroom supplies; private mortgage insurance premiums; the exclusion of for up to $2 million of forgiven debt on primary homes; the 50% bonus depreciation for business assets; and the write-off of up to $500,000 of business assets put in use in 2016.
Whenever possible, I will be e-Filing your returns. This ensures that the taxing authorities will receive your returns timely and that you will receive refunds in a shorter time frame than you would otherwise. You may choose to have refunds wired directly to your account. In addition, tax payments may be paid from your account on a timely date you choose.
Hopefully, by February 1st, you will have received all W-2, 1098, and 1099 forms. Please make every effort to carefully organize your data as this will make the preparation of your returns far more efficient. Please note: At your request I will download a tax organizer to help you assemble your data. If I prepared your 2015 returns, the organizer will show the items and amounts from those returns; otherwise, I can download a blank one to you. Either way, it will greatly facilitate the organizing of your information and I strongly urge you to use it. You can request an organizer by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: Please send or bring your completed organizer and all of the following documents: 1) W-2s; 2) 1099s (including year-end 1099 tax reporting statements received from brokers), social security forms 1099-SSA, forms 1099A and 1099C); 3) K-1s from partnerships, S corporations, and trusts and estates; 4) 1098s for mortgage interest and those for student loan interest and higher education tuition and fees); 5) IRS/state correspondences sent or received in 2016; 6) dates and amounts of all 2016 federal and state estimated tax payments; 7) other tax-related documents, including settlement statements from home purchase, sale, or refinance, and vehicle or equipment purchase contracts; 8) buy and sell dates, cost, and sales price of each security sold (if not otherwise reported on a broker statement); 9) the make, year; total all purpose, total business, and total commuting mileage (all three) as well as all operating costs for each vehicle used in a business; 10) home office information, including total and business area square footage, insurance, utilities, and other expenses 11) registration invoice showing the tax paid for each of your vehicles; 12) complete copy of your 2015 federal and state tax returns (only if I did not prepare your 2015 returns); 13) all real property tax assessment statements (California clients only); 14) the amount of purchases upon which required sales or use tax was not paid.
I will return all documents. If you plan to mail your data, please do so as soon as possible even if some items (K-1’s, broker statements, etc.) may not be presently available.
FOR YOUR INFORMATION: 1) If you received interest from the sale of real property used by the buyer as a residence I will need the buyer’s name, address, and social security number; 2) a receipt is required for each non-cash charitable gift of $250 or greater, as well as full details for charitable gifts of property totaling over $500 (including charity’s name and address, description and date of gift, and your best estimate of the cost and value of the property). You must have proof that donated clothing and other items were in good or better condition. The proof can be in the form of a written acknowledgement of the condition from the charity, photographs, etc. Cash contributions of any amount require either a written receipt from the charity or a cancelled check. 3) Important: If you made large purchases (car, furniture, appliances, etc.), determine the amount of sales tax you paid for those items, as your sales tax may exceed the amount of your state income tax.
I look forward to working with you on your 2016 taxes!