Sales Receipts, Invoices, and Statements in QuickBooks

QuickBooks allows you to create multiple types of sales forms for different situations. Here’s a look at what they are and when to use them.

When you buy something at a store, you want a piece of paper that shows what you purchased and what you paid. If you receive products or services before you pay for them, you certainly expect to receive a bill. And if you have several transactions with the same company and want clarification on what you’ve paid, and what you owe for a specific time period, the company can usually send you a summary.

Your customers want the same things. That financial documentation might be difficult for you to provide if you’re still doing your accounting manually on paper.

Fortunately, QuickBooks has a solution. Or, rather, several solutions. The software includes templates for all of the sales forms that you’ll probably ever need: invoices, sales receipts, and statements. Here’s an introduction to when and how to use them.

Sales Receipts

QuickBooks Tips

When a customer pays you on the spot, you can create a sales receipt.

When you receive full payment for a product or service at the time of the sale, the correct form to use in QuickBooks is the Sales Receipt. Click the Create Sales Receipts icon on the home page or open the Customers menu and select Enter Sales Receipts. You’ll see a form like the partial one pictured above.

Click the down arrow in the Customer:Job field and select the correct one or <Add New>. If you assign transactions to Classes, pick the right one in that list. The Template field should default to the appropriate form. If you’ve created more than one sales receipt template, select the one that you want. Click the icon above the correct payment type.

Tip: Want to be able to accept credit cards and eChecks? You’re likely to get paid faster by some customers. You’ll also be able to accept payments on your smartphone or tablet and create receipts. Talk to us about adding this capability.

Select the appropriate Item(s) from that drop-down list and enter a Qty (Quantity). Be sure to apply the sale’s Tax status by opening that list. (If you know that you’re responsible for paying sales tax on at least some of your sales but you haven’t set this tracking up in QuickBooks yet, we can work with you on that. It’s important.) When you’ve finished filling in the table with all the goods or services you sold, you can save the transaction and either print it or email it to your customer.

Invoices

QuickBooks Tips

After you’ve completed the top half of an invoice, you’ll see something like this at the bottom.

You’ll create and send Invoices to customers when you’ve received either a partial payment or no payment at the time of the sale. Those completed transactions become a part of your total Accounts Receivable (money owed to you). Click Create Invoices on the home page or go to Customers | Create Invoices. Fill out the fields at the top of the screen like you did with your sales receipt; the forms are almost the same. Invoices, though, have Bill To and Ship To addresses, as well as fields for the sale’s Terms and Due Date.

You shouldn’t have to do anything with the bottom half of the screen (pictured above) unless you want to include a Customer Message, since the information here is carried over from the top of the screen. Check to make sure the Tax Code is correct, though.

It’s important to note, it’s an either/or situation when it comes to creating an invoice and a sales receipt for the same transaction. It’s best to not use sales receipts for invoice payments, as it can cause issues.

Statements

QuickBooks Tips

When you create statements, you’ll first choose the customers who should receive them.

Statements are very useful when you have multiple customers who are past due on their payments (you can find this out by running the A/R Aging Summary report, which you’ll find under Reports | Customers & Receivables). Click the Statements link on the home page or go to Customers | Create Statements. You’ll first have to select the customer(s) who should be on your list, as pictured above. There are several other options on this page that will help you refine this group. When you’re done, QuickBooks will automatically generate them, and you can print or email them.

You’ll save a lot of time when you use QuickBooks’ sales forms. Your bookkeeping will also be more accurate, and it will be easier to track down specific transactions. If you use them conscientiously, you’ll be able to run reports that provide comprehensive overviews of various elements of your finances.

Do you have questions about any of this, or are you just getting started with QuickBooks? We’re happy to schedule a consultation to determine what your needs are and how we can assist. Contact us, and we’ll set something up.

SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

Still creating sales forms manually? QuickBooks makes this task much simpler and faster. They’ll be easy to find, too. Find out how here.

Do you sometimes receive payment for products or services at the same time you provide them? QuickBooks can create sales receipts. Here’s how.

If you bill customers after you’ve provided a product or service, you can use QuickBooks’ invoice forms to collect your payments. Find out more here.

Did you know QuickBooks can help you create statements to send to customers who are past due on their payments? Find out how here.

5 Things You Need to Know About Sales Taxes in QuickBooks Online

The most important thing you need to know about sales tax is that administering it correctly can be challenging.

If you sold only one type of product to customers in one city, collecting and paying sales tax would be easy. But most businesses have a wider reach than that.

QuickBooks Online offers tools that allow you to set up sales tax rates and include sales tax on sales forms. Further, it calculates how much you must pay to state and local taxing agencies.

This is one of the most complicated areas in QuickBooks Online because you may have to deal with numerous taxing agencies. If you’re not already working with sales taxes, we strongly recommend you let us help you get everything set up correctly from the start. Taxing agencies can audit your recordkeeping and you want to make sure it is set up correctly.

That said, here are five things we think you should know.

QuickBooks Online calculates sales tax rates based on:

  • Where you sell. Every state is different. If your business is located in Florida and you sell to a customer in Minnesota, you’ll be charging any sales tax levied by the state of Minnesota and possibly the city and county and other taxing authorities – if you have a connection, a “nexus” in that state (a physical location, active salesperson, etc.).
  • What you sell.
  • To whom you sell. Some customers (like nonprofit organizations) do not have to pay sales tax. You’ll need to edit their customer records to reflect this in QBO. Open a customer record and click the Edit link in the upper right. Click the Tax info tab and make sure there’s no checkmark in the box that says This customer is taxable. The Default tax code will be grayed out, and you can enter Exemption details in that field.

QuickBooks tipsCustomer records for exempt organizations should contain details for that exemption. You’ll need to see their exemption certificate or at least know its official number.

Intuit now offers a revamped version of QuickBooks Online’s sales tax features.

At some point, you’ll be asked if you want to switch to the new, more automated system. The actual mechanics of the process are simple, but you’ll be moving historical and in-process data to a new structure. If you have sales tax set up right now and your situation is at all complicated, you’re going to want our help with the transition.

This enhanced feature only supports accrual accounting.

You can combine individual tax rates.

If you are required to pay city, county, and state sales tax rates for a particular customer, for example, you can create a Combined tax rate that contains all of the individual components. The customer will only see the total on an invoice or sales receipt, but QuickBooks Online will track each one accordingly for payment and reporting purposes.

QuickBooks tipsYou can combine sales tax rates in QuickBooks Online (image above from current Sales Tax Center in QuickBooks Online, not the enhanced one).

Product and service records should contain sales tax information.

This is another area that will require some research. Just as some services are subject to tax, some products are not (like groceries in Arizona). So, you’ll need to find out what the rules are for what you sell. You can find this information on the website of the state’s Department of Revenue (sometimes called the Department of Taxation).

Once you know, you can record that status in QuickBooks Online. Open a product record by going to Sales | Products and Services and clicking Edit in the Action column or create a new one by clicking New in the upper right. Scroll down to Sales tax category in the record. You can choose between Taxable – standard rate and Nontaxable.

There’s a third option here: special category. This gets complicated. We can help you determine whether it applies to you.

QuickBooks Online tracks the sales tax you owe.

You can see what you owe to each agency by running the Sales Tax Liability Report, and record payments when you’ve made them. Summary and detail versions of the Taxable Sales report are also available.

Once you get sales taxes set up in QuickBooks Online, it’s easy to add them to the relevant sales forms. Getting to that point, though, takes time, study, and careful attention to detail. If you’re getting ready to sell, or you’re already selling and struggling with sales taxes, let us know. We can schedule an initial consultation to see how we can be of assistance.

SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

Did you know that QuickBooks Online can calculate and apply sales taxes to transactions? However, setup requires some upfront research. Here are a few things to get started.

Does your business have to charge multiple levels of sales taxes? QuickBooks Online allows you to combine them. Here’s how.

QuickBooks Online calculates sales taxes based on where and what you sell, and to whom. It’s a bit complicated and here is why. We can help you get through setup.

Did you know that Intuit has released an enhanced version of QuickBooks Online’s Sales Tax Center? Here are the details and we can help you make the transition

How to Create Product Records in QuickBooks Online

Whether your company sells product or services, QuickBooks Online can help you track them.

If you sell one-of-a-kind products and can see all of them at a glance, tracking your inventory isn’t such a big issue. But not many people run businesses like that. Even if you do, you’d want to keep track of what you have and what you’ve sold for accounting purposes.

Most businesses sell multiple types of products and stock numerous units of them. These companies need to be able to easily add them to invoices and sales receipts. They need to know what’s selling and what’s not, and they need to know when it’s time to reorder.

QuickBooks Online’s recording and tracking tools meet all of these requirements by allowing you to create records for services. Here’s how it works.

Getting Ready

Before you can start working with QuickBooks Online’s product records, you should make sure that the site is set up for this purpose. Click the gear icon in the upper right, then Your Company | Account and settings. Click the Sales tab to get to the Products and services section, as pictured below.

QuickBooks tipsQuickBooks Online’s Account and Settings has a section devoted to Products and services.

Click on Products and services to open your options here. To turn any entry from On to Off, or vice versa, click in the box at the beginning of the line to check or uncheck it. To see an explanation of each, click on the small circled question mark. When you’re done here, click Save. Then click the X in the upper right to close this window.

Creating Records

To start entering product and service data in records, click the gear icon in the upper right, then select Products and services. Since you haven’t entered anything yet, the table will be blank. Eventually, it will contain data for each record you’ve created. You’ll also notice two colored circles at the top of the screen, one marked Low Stock and the other, Out of Stock. When there is a number next to either of them, you’ll be able to click on either circle to see a list of what’s low or what’s out.

Click New in the upper right. A vertical panel will slide out asking what kind of record you want to create. You can choose from:

  • Inventory – Physical items you sell whose quantity you want to track
  • Non-inventory – Products you buy or sell but whose quantities you don’t need to track
  • Service – Services you sell, like legal representation or landscaping
  • Bundle – A group of products and/or services that are sold together, like computer training and accompanying software

We’re going to create an inventory item, so click on Inventory. Type its Name in that field and add a photo if you’d like. If the product has been assigned a SKU, enter that in its field. You may want to divide your products into primary categories and sub-products or services (like Writing Instruments and PensPencilsMarkers, etc.). You can skip this option if you don’t.

QuickBooks tipsQuickBooks Online helps prevent product shortages.

In the next section, you’ll enter the Initial quantity on hand. How many do you have as of (current) date? And where do you want to set your Reorder point? What number of items remaining should trigger the Low Stock alert so you can replenish your supply?

Inventory asset account should already be set at Inventory Asset. Enter a brief Description and then the product’s Sales price/rate (the price you’ll charge customers) and leave Income account set at Sales of Product Income. Then select a Sales tax category. If you haven’t set up sales taxes in QuickBooks Online and believe you’re required to pay them on at least some sales, please let us help.

In the Purchasing information field, enter the description that should appear on purchase forms, then Cost (the price you paid to buy the product, if any). The Expense account should be Cost of Goods Sold. Select a Preferred Vendor if you’d like and Save the record.

Not all fields are required in your product and service records, but we strongly recommend you complete each record as thoroughly as is possible.

Next month, we’ll look at how product and service records are used in QuickBooks Online. In the meantime, please let us know if there’s any way we can help with your accounting or your use of QuickBooks Online. We know these are challenging times for you, and we hope you’ll use us as one of your resources.

SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

Before you can start recording sales in QuickBooks Online, you’ll need to create product and/or service records. We can help with this and show you how.

Did you know QuickBooks Online’s settings need to be tweaked before you can use the site properly? Product records is one of these areas, and we show you here.

Did you know QuickBooks Online can warn you when it’s time to reorder products? Let us help you set up this important function.

If you haven’t explored your company’s sales tax requirements, we can show you how QuickBooks Online tracks this necessary information. Read more here to get started.

HHS provider relief fund enters phase two

On July 31, 2020, HHS announced that Medicare providers will have another opportunity to receive additional Provider Relief Fund payments. The announcement targets those providers who previously missed the June 3, 2020 deadline to submit an application for additional funding equal to 2 percent of their total patient care revenue from the $20 billion portion of the Phase 1 General Distribution.  Those qualifying under this plan include Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and dental providers with low Medicare revenues. In addition, providers who underwent a change in ownership, making them previously ineligible for Phase 1 funding, will also be given a chance to apply for the HHS financial relief.

The new deadline to submit an application for potential funding under the HHS Provider Relief Fund is August 28, 2020.

Providers Eligible for Phase 2 General Distribution Funding:

  • Providers who were ineligible for the Phase 1 General Distribution because:
    • They underwent a change in ownership in calendar year 2019 or 2020 under Medicare Part A; and
    • Did not have Medicare Fee-For-Service revenue in 2019.
  • Providers who received a payment under Phase 1 General Distribution but:
    • Missed the June 3 deadline to submit revenue information – including many Medicaid, CHIP, and dental providers with low Medicare revenues that assumed they were ineligible for additional distribution targeted at Medicare providers or had planned to apply for a Medicaid and CHIP specific distribution; or
    • Did not receive Phase 1 General Distribution payments totaling approximately 2 percent of their annual patient revenue.
  • Providers who previously received Phase 1 General Distribution payment(s), but rejected and returned the funds and are now interested in reapplying.

For providers who have already received a Phase 1 General Distribution payment from HHS, the previous amount received will be considered when determining the eligible amount for the Phase 2 General Distribution payment. Also, fund recipients must accept HHS’s terms and conditions and may be subject to an audit to ensure the data provided to HHS for payment calculation is accurate.

Please contact us for more information on the HHS Provider Relief Fund Phase 2 program.

What To Know About Getting a Tax Refund

All taxpayers are no doubt hoping for a refund this year. Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths about when and how you’ll get your refund.

In a recent statement, the IRS noted that most taxpayers are issued refunds by the IRS in fewer than 21 days. If yours takes a bit longer, here are six things that may be affecting the timing of your refund:

  • Security reviews – The IRS and its partners continue to strengthen security reviews to help protect against identity theft and refund fraud. Your tax return may be receiving additional review, which makes processing your refund take a bit longer.
  • Errors – It can take longer for the IRS to process a tax return that has errors. Fortunately, electronic filing has reduced the number of errors, which are more common in paper returns.
  • Incomplete returns – Here again, electronic returns make the most sense. It takes longer to process an incomplete return. The IRS contacts a taxpayer by mail when more info is needed to process the return.
  • Earned income tax credit or additional child tax credit – If you claim the earned income tax credit (EITC) or additional child tax credit (ACTC) before mid-February, the IRS cannot issue refunds as quickly as others. The law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund. This includes the portion of the refund not associated with EITC or ACTC.
  • Your bank or other financial institutions may not post your refund immediately – can take time for banks or other financial institutions to post a refund to a taxpayer’s account.
  • Refund checks by mail – It can take even longer for a taxpayer to receive a refund check by mail. Direct deposit is a better bet.

In an unusually poetic statement, the IRS explains that “tax returns, like snowflakes and thumbprints, are unique and individual. So too, is each taxpayer’s refund.” So keep this in mind. Fortunately, you can track your refund status online by entering your Social Security number and other key information.

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).

Are Opportunity Zones an Opportunity for You?

Created by the TCJA in 2017, opportunity zones are designed to help economically distressed areas by encouraging investments. This article contains an introduction to the complex details of how these zones work.

The IRS describes an opportunity zone as “an economically-distressed community where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.” How does a community become an opportunity zone? Localities qualify as opportunity zones when they’ve been nominated by their states. Then, the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury certifies the nomination. The Treasury Secretary delegates authority to the IRS.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act added opportunity zones to the tax code. The IRS says opportunity zones are new, although there have been other provisions in the past to help communities in need with tax incentives to spur business.

The new wrinkle is how opportunity zones are designed to stimulate economic development via tax benefits for investors.

  • A Qualified Opportunity Fund is an investment vehicle set up as a partnership or corporation for investing in eligible property located in a qualified opportunity zone. A limited liability company that chooses to be treated either as a partnership or corporation for federal tax purposes can organize as a QOF.
  • Investors can defer taxes on any prior gains invested in a QOF until whichever is earlier: the date the QOF investment is sold or exchanged or Dec. 31, 2026.
  • If the QOF investment is held longer than five years, there is a 10 percent exclusion of the deferred gain.
  • If the QOF investment is held for more thhttps://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1oZBP2cixeXawW6ec7xh_Z6xpZEi2ZXpBUjaHV7_uT68/edit#gid=737633902an seven years, there is a 15 percent exclusion of the deferred gain.
  • If the QOF investment is held for at least 10 years, the investor is eligible for an increase in basis on the investment equal to its fair market value on the date that the QOF investment is sold or exchanged.
  • You don’t have to live, work or have a business in an opportunity zone to get the tax benefits. But you do need to invest a recognized gain in a QOF and elect to defer the tax on that gain.
  • To become a QOF, an eligible corporation or partnership self-certifies by filing Form 8996, Qualified Opportunity Fund, with its federal income tax return.

The first set of opportunity zones covers parts of 18 states and was designated on April 9, 2018. Since then, there have been opportunity zones added to parts of all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. More details are available on the U.S. Treasury website. Or see the IRS website for more information

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).

When the IRS Wants to Audit Your Business

Nothing can frighten a business owner like an audit notification. Is it the first step toward arrest and trial? No need to panic. Find out what a tax audit actually is and how to get through it with minimal fuss.

You may be surprised to learn that not every audit notification you receive will be legitimate. So, first, make sure you received an official audit notification. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will notify you either by letter or by a phone call followed by a letter. The IRS does not notify taxpayers about audits through email, so if you do get an email saying you’ve been selected for an audit, it’s probably fraudulent. If you’ve determined that you’re definitely getting audited, your next step is to learn what’s involved.

What Exactly Is an Audit?

According to the IRS, an audit is “a review/examination of an organization’s or individual’s accounts and financial information to ensure information is being reported correctly, according to the tax laws, to verify the amount of tax reported is substantially correct.”

That’s it. It’s an audit – not an arrest and not a trial – so don’t panic. Contrary to popular belief, an audit doesn’t automatically mean you made a mistake. Yes, an inconsistency can trigger an audit if there’s a discrepancy between what’s on a tax form and what you actually reported. But the IRS may choose to audit a taxpayer based on random selection or a statistical formula. Also, an audit may be less intrusive than you feared. For example, it may be entirely through the mail, although in some cases, it may be at an office or the taxpayer’s home or place of business. And not all audits result in your owing money. In fact, your audit may lead to no changes at all.

Both businesses and individuals may be audited (even sole proprietorships), and there may be some differences in how they are handled. One thing that virtually all audits have in common, however, is access to records. The IRS is going to want to check some of your records, and maybe a lot of them. Did you deduct business expenses? Make some substantial charitable contributions? You’ll need to show the IRS some receipts. The good news is that in many cases the IRS accepts electronic records.

What Happens Next?

There is no typical length of time for an IRS audit, but if you have your records handy and cooperate fully and quickly, you increase your chances that it will be as brief and painless as possible. Ultimately, the IRS may determine that you owe more money. At this point, you can pay it or you can appeal. The audit doesn’t have to be the end of the road. There is a substantial appeal process and a long and expensive court trial may not even be necessary.

The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to go it alone! Your accountant can work with you throughout the audit process, including any appeals. The key factor is to call us as soon as you receive the notification about your audit. We’re ready to work through the details and help you gather any records you may need.

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).

IRS Clarifies Deductible Expenses

The Internal Revenue Service has updated the rules to reflect changes resulting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This article will help you zero in on changes involving deductible expenses and make sure you’re in compliance.

The IRS is offering some updated rules as guidance for deductible expenses that may have been murky as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The rules being updated involve using optional standard mileage rates when figuring the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving expense purposes, among other issues.

There are more succinct rules to substantiate the amount of an employee’s ordinary and necessary travel expenses reimbursed by an employer using the optional standard mileage rates. But know that you’re not required to use this method and that you may substantiate your actual allowable expenses, provided you maintain adequate records.

The TCJA suspended the miscellaneous itemized deduction for most employees with unreimbursed business expenses, including the costs of operating an automobile for business purposes. However, self-employed individuals and certain employees, armed forces reservists, qualifying state or local government officials, educators, and performing artists may continue to deduct unreimbursed business expenses during the suspension.

The TCJA also suspended the deduction for moving expenses. However, this suspension doesn’t apply to a member of the armed forces on active duty who moves pursuant to a military order and incident to a permanent change of station.

The IRS has also made it clear that the TCJA amended prior rules to disallow a deduction for expenses for entertainment, amusement or recreation paid for or incurred after Dec. 31, 2017. Otherwise, allowable meal expenses remain deductible if the food and beverages are purchased separately from the entertainment, or if the cost of the food and beverages is stated separately from the cost of the entertainment.

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).

5 Ways to Lower Your SUTA Tax Rate

An employer’s SUTA tax rate is susceptible to fluctuation. If yours is escalating, contrary to popular belief, you actually might be able to reduce it! Check out these five strategiesn provided by personal tax accountant sydney to curb your SUTA tax rate.

Because the State Unemployment Tax Act – or SUTA – tax is mandatory, you may think you have no control over your SUTA rate. But to some extent, you do. The first thing to remember is that each state sets its own criteria for state unemployment tax, and rates vary by employer.

Typically, new employers are assigned a standard “new employer” rate. Over time, they receive an “experience rating,” which can be higher or lower than the new employer rate. The experience rating mainly depends on how many former employees have drawn unemployment benefits on the employer’s account. The more benefits claimed on an employer’s account, the higher its SUTA tax rate. Other determinants may include whether the employer is in the construction industry and the employer’s payroll size.

You may be powerless against some of these influencers – such as your business’s age and industry — but there are other ways to lower your SUTA rate. Here are five tactics.

1. Hire only when needed

Letting employees go because you don’t need them any more likely renders them eligible for unemployment benefits. If they file for unemployment benefits, your SUTA rate is likely to increase. So, make sure you truly need an employee before hiring him or her.

2. Help your employees succeed

Employees terminated for gross misconduct typically do not qualify for unemployment benefits. However, employees fired for poor performance – such as due to lack of skills – may be eligible. To reduce the likelihood of terminating employees for poor performance, give them the resources they need to succeed, including proper tools and training.

3. Use independent contractors

You can avoid unemployment claims by legally hiring independent contractors instead of employees. If you decide to take this route, ensure all mandatory requirements for independent contractor status are met, including the Internal Revenue Service’s “right-to-control” test and applicable state tests.

4. Contest dubious unemployment claims

Dubious unemployment claims may involve former employees providing the state workforce agency with false information to obtain benefits or filing a claim even though they were rightfully terminated for gross misconduct. Before you fight an unemployment claim, consult with unemployment benefits expert to gauge the strength of your case. Also, make sure you have supporting documents to back up your version of events.

5. Make voluntary contributions

Many states allow employers with an experience rating to voluntarily make a “buydown” payment, which cancels all or part of the benefits charged to their account, thereby reducing their SUTA tax rate.

More tips

Consider alternatives to layoffs, such as reducing employees’ work hours via your state’s work-sharing program.

Offer departing employees a solid severance package as well as outplacement services to help them quickly find a job. This way, they will be less inclined to rely on unemployment benefits.

Keep an eye on your SUTA tax rate. If it’s spiking for unknown reasons, contact your state’s workforce agency for an explanation.

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).

The Ongoing Problem: Abusive Tax Shelters

As long as there have been taxes, shady promoters have tried to sell taxpayers on schemes to get out of paying their fair share. Learn about abusive tax shelters, and how to recognize and avoid them.

Tax avoidance? Accelerating tax deductions, deferring income, changing one’s tax status through incorporation, and setting up a charitable trust or foundation. All of these are legal tax shelters.

Tax evasion – that’s a different story. In tax evasion, you plan to reduce tax payable through illegal means. Abusive tax shelters reduce taxes, promoting the promise of tax benefits with no meaningful change in your income or net worth.

Turns out that in the 1990s, because penalties were too small to have a deterrent effect, tax shelters became quite popular to cushion one-time large capital gains. But these days, the tide has turned against promoting abusive tax shelters. Today, Treasury regulations and IRS rules dealing with tax shelters note that certain types of transactions will no longer pass muster.

The bottom line? Talk to a professional about legitimate ways to reduce your tax burden. Don’t go to some shady guy your brother-in-law knows, or follow advice in a book written by someone with no distinguished credentials such as “CFP,” “CPA” or “JD” after their names. Various trusts can help with long-term tax planning. And even modest families can legally game the tax system with such vehicles as IRAs, 401(k) plans and 529 plans.

Just in case you’re already considering something not too kosher, note that the IRS has its Dirty Dozen list of tax scams – schemes that encourage the use of phony tax shelters designed to avoid paying what is owed. The IRS warns that you could end up paying a lot more in penalties, back taxes and interest than the phony tax shelter saved you in the first place.

Don’t Try This at Home

One such tax scam on the IRS radar is abusive micro-captive structures: crooked promoters persuade owners of closely-held entities to participate in poorly structured or illegal insurance arrangements. For example, coverages may insure implausible risks, fail to match genuine business needs, or duplicate the taxpayer’s commercial coverages. Premium amounts may be unsupported by underwriting or actuarial analysis may be geared to a desired deduction amount or may be significantly higher than premiums for comparable commercial coverage, according to the IRS. It’s all in the name of illusory tax savings. So only work with qualified professionals.

There is a fine line between legitimate tax avoidance and illegal tax evasion. The IRS says it won’t hesitate to impose penalties on both participants and promoters of abusive tax shelters. Tax fraud convictions can mean fines or even prison. In brief, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).