The following tax news and updates are provided as a courtesy of Ball & Minor CPA, PA.
2018 Tax Law Changes
Unreimbursed Employee Expenses
Under law prior to 2018, various employee business expenses, e.g., employee home office expenses, unreimbursed business mileage and other unreimbursed expenses, are deductible as itemized deductions if those expenses plus certain other expenses exceed 2% of adjusted gross income. The new law suspends the deduction for employee business expenses paid after 2017. Now would be a good time to talk to your employer about changing your compensation arrangement. For example, if your employer would reimburse you for the expenses that you previously paid personally, even if the employer reduced your wage by an amount approximately equal to the reimbursement amount, both you and the employer would wind up in a better position since, in most cases, such reimbursements would not be subject to tax.
No Deduction for Entertainment
Under the new tax law, for amounts paid or incurred after Dec. 31, 2017, no deductions are allowed with respect to an activity generally considered to be entertainment, amusement, or recreation. The IRS clarified in Notice 2018-76 50% of business meals continue to be deductible if certain requirements are met. To qualify the meal expense must be ordinary and necessary, provided to a current or potential business customer or contact, not lavish or extravagant, and either the taxpayer or employee of the taxpayer must be present at the meal. For meals purchased at an entertainment event, the meals can generally still be deducted if paid for separately or broken out separately from the entertainment cost on the invoice. Employers should still be able to deduct meals consumed by employees while traveling away from home assuming substantiation requirements are met.
New Department of Labor Overtime Rules
The new Department of Labor Overtime rules were expected to come into effect December 1, 2016. On November 22,2016 a federal judge barred the Department of Labor from implementing its new overtime rule. The preliminary injunction does not invalidate the rule but its implementation and enforcement are on hold for now.
The Final Rule increases the salary and compensation levels needed for Executive, Administrative, and Professional workers to be exempt. The standard required salary level for Executive, Administrative, and Professional workers to be exempt is set at $913 per week or $47,476. It also sets the total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees subject to a minimum duties test to $134,004 annually. The Final Rule also includes a mechanism for automatically adjusting these salary and compensation levels every three years.
NC Requiring all Employees and Recipients of Pension or Annuity Payments to Complete a New Withholding Allowance Certificate
The North Carolina General Assembly recently enacted House Bill 998 which becomes effective for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2014. Under this new law, all taxpayers will pay a lower rate and be granted a higher standard deduction. Taxpayers may no longer claim a personal exemption for themselves, their spouse, children, or any other qualifying dependents. Additionally, many deductions and tax credits that impact North Carolina withholding tax are no longer available for tax years beginning on or after January 1.
As a result of this Act, every employer must have all employees provide a new Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, either Form NC-4EZ or Form NC-4. The new form must be completed by the employee and provided to the employer so the correct amount of State income tax is withheld for any payment periods beginning on or after January 1, 2014.
Employers Required to Furnish Employees DOL Model Notice
The Department of Labor (DOL) is requiring employers to provide a notice to employees regarding certain health care options available under the Affordable Care Act. These notices are required to be furnished to employees no later than October 1, 2013 for existing employees and within 2 weeks of an employee’s start date for newly hired employees. The notice must be provided in writing in a manner calculated to be understood by the average employee. The model notices can be accessed at the DOL website: www.dol.gov/ebsa/healthreform. Feel free to contact our office with any questions.
NC Requiring Use of E-Verify System for Certain Employers
E-Verify is an internet based program that compares information from a job applicant’s I-9 form to United States government records to determine if the applicant is eligible to work in the United States legally. There are no costs or fees associated with using the E-Verify program; it is free of charge. This new legislation requires some private employers to utilize the federally created E-Verify system to verify the legal employment status of all new hires.
July 1, 2013: Employers with 25-100 employees will be required to verify the legal employment status of all new hires by using the E-Verify system.
Private employers with 24 or fewer employees are exempt from the new regulation completely and will not be required to use E-Verify. The legislation also provides an exemption for temporary, seasonal employees, meaning that the E-Verify system does not have to be used by employers of any size when employing someone for fewer than 90 days over a consecutive twelve month period. Feel free to contact our office with any questions or for help registering with the E-Verify system.
Stop Tax Identity Theft in Its Tracks
Imagine after sending in your annual tax return, you receive a notice from the Internal Revenue Service saying that another return has already been filed using your name and Social Security number—and claiming a refund. Sound impossible? It can happen if you become one of a growing number of victims of tax return identity theft. According to one estimate, tax-related identity theft cases have soared more than 650% since 2008. At the least, this crime can lead to a delay in your refund, but the consequences may be much more serious. In addition, you may face a larger problem with identify theft if the scammer is also running up credit card debt or taking out loans in your name.
To avoid becoming a victim, we recommend steps such as safeguarding your Social Security number and other financial information, keeping an eye on changes to your credit ratings and taking precautions with electronic transfers of confidential information. Be sure to contact us if you believe you have been a victim of identity theft or would like advice on the best ways to secure your financial information.
NC Withholding Required for Contractor’s with ITINs
Effective January 1, 2010 businesses, organizations, or individuals in NC that pay more than $1,500 per year to a contractor with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) must withhold and remit 4 percent of that pay to the NC Department of Revenue. Our firm has all the specifics on this law and can help you implement the withholding. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.
North Carolina Department of Revenue Refund System
The North Carolina Department of Revenue has launched a “Where’s My Refund” tool within their website in order to locate your refund for the current tax year. The only information you need in order to inquire about your refund is the first social security number and the exact amount of refund listed on your NC return.
Retirement Plan Ceilings
The ceiling on salary reduction contributions to SIMPLE plans is $12,500 for 2017 and 2018. The ceiling is $15,500 in 2017 and 2018 for those age 50 and over. The maximum 401(k) elective deferral contribution is $18,000 for 2017 and $18,500 for 2018. The maximum 401(k) elective deferral contribution for those 50 and over is $24,000 for 2017 and $24,500 for 2018. The contribution limits for Roth and Traditional IRAs are set at $5,500 for 2017 and 2018. The IRA catch-up contribution limits are capped at $1,000 for 2017 and 2018 for those 50 and older. Please feel free to contact our office with any questions or for further clarification.
Penalties for S-Corporations and Partnerships
Partnerships and S-Corporations that do not file returns timely will owe $195 a month per partner or shareholder in penalties for up to 12 months. This is effective for 2010 tax returns. Fines for filing incorrect W-2 and 1099 forms have also increased.
NC Gift Tax Repeal
The NC gift tax was repealed effective January 1, 2009.
The standard mileage rate for business miles driven in 2018 is 54.5 cents per mile.
The standard mileage rate for medical or moving miles is 18 cents per mile for 2018. The standard mileage rate for miles driven in service of a charitable organization is 14 cents per mile in 2018.
The standard mileage rate for business miles driven in 2017 is 53.5 cents per mile.
The standard mileage rate for medical or moving miles is 17 cents per mile for 2017. The standard mileage rate for miles driven in service of a charitable organization is 14 cents per mile in 2017.
Social Security Administration Employee Verification Service
The Social Security Administration offers a telephone service to help you verify that names and social security numbers given to you by employees are correct. You can call 1-800-772-6270 on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to receive verifications for up to 5 employees at a time. You must have your company EIN available along with SSN, last name, first name, middle initial, date of birth and gender of all employees you wish to verify.
Charitable Contributions Requirements
In order to deduct a charitable contribution made in cash, by check, or by other monetary means, the contribution must be supported by a bank record or a receipt, letter or other written communication from the charity showing the name of the donee organization, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution. If the contribution is $250 or more, donor’s must receive a written receipt from the charity that includes detailed information, including a statement indicating whether or not goods or services were received in return for the contribution.