27
Apr 23

Tax Refund Expectations (March-2023)

During tax season I have been finding a number of taxpayers are wondering why they are only getting a couple hundred dollars as a refund, if they’re lucky.  Well, the new calculation method for your W-4 is to reduce your withholding requirements and it brings your tax filing results to a minimum amount of refund.  This also means the large refunds, you normally received, from tax credits when you did your taxes, is now reducing your normal withholding tax requirements.  The credits are being paid to you in advance over the course of the year in your paycheck.  Well, the end result is there isn’t any more large refunds to pay the real estate taxes, buy a new lawn mower or refrigerator, replace the privacy fence, etc.  Additionally, it has a significant impact to divorced parents when they claim their dependent every other year.  This means each parent will need to file a new W-4, each year, to change the dependent information in Step 3, for proper withholding requirements for the coming year.  If you really didn’t like the outcome to your refund this year and would like to increase it to where it was.  You may remain compliant with the proper filing of you W-4 and elect to have an additional amount withheld by entering the amount on Step 4, line c.  In other words, if you were expecting a $2,000 child tax credit, you could divide the $2,000 by the number paychecks you will receive for the year.  This would give you the amount to have extra withheld.  For example: $2,000 divided by 52 paychecks for the year equals approximately $40 a paycheck extra needs to be withheld and resulting in you getting your $2,000 at the end of the year.  This is your choice, get it now through the year with a minimum refund, or adjust it for the larger refund for the end of the year.  I know it’s confusing and you may need to talk with a tax professional to help you understand this better.  On another note, this also means there isn’t any funds available to cover unexpected taxable income when there isn’t any tax withholding done.  This may result in an estimated tax payment requirement to avoid the underpayment of estimated tax penalty.  One other thing to remember, when you take a distribution from a 401(k) there is a requirement to have up to 20% withheld for taxes.  This gives you the false pretense this will cover the tax on this distribution.  This is not correct if you’re under 59 ½.  The distribution is subject to withholding tax and a majority will be at 12% or 22%.  There is also a 10% premature distribution penalty for being under 59 ½.  Add the two together, the tax liability resulting is 22% or 32% and with only 20% withheld, you can see more will be owed on the distribution.  The problem is, since there isn’t any extra refund dollars to cover the difference.  So, evaluate your circumstances when the funds are distributed or you may a have a surprise when you do your taxes.  That’s it for this month.  More good tax stuff next month.  Remember, this is a very brief overview.  It is your responsibility to discuss any tax and financial changes with your professional advisor for assistance in evaluating your situation.  For details and specific assistance in applying the general information in this article, you may contact our office at your earliest convenience or contact your advisor.   Provided by Tracey C. Higginbotham, E.A., (321) 632-5726, a member of the National Society of Accountants.

21
Feb 23

Tax Preparation Fees. (February-2023)

Here we are again and tax season under way.  So far, I have been upfront with providing clients with an estimate for their tax preparation fees.  And as usual, I have already heard comments of dissatisfaction as to why we are charging so much; wow!; that’s not what I paid last year; I’ll just do them myself; or they just hang up.  I want to know, when you go to the grocery store, do you go up to the manager and provide him with a list of your groceries and evaluate if you’re going to buy them at that store, and do you go to another store and do the same to evaluate where you’re going to buy your groceries.  When you need gas, do you evaluate whether you’re going to pay the price or go without.  There isn’t any negotiating.  So, why does everyone think tax preparation haggling is appropriate. On behalf of all the Enrolled Agents, Certified Public Accountants, and Attorney’s, you need to understand what it takes and why a deserving reasonable fee is appropriate.  Your advisor is a well-educated individual and we use the U.S. Master Tax Guide (the Guide), the Tax Code, and many other resource documents when preparing a tax return.  In 1995, the Guide has 669 pages, in 2003, the Guide has 768 pages, and now the 2023 Guide has 944 pages.  This is due to all annual tax law changes dealing with COVID, retirement distributions, depreciation, itemized deductions changing to possibly the standard deduction, child tax credit, earned income credit, education credits, filing status, divorce issues, head of household filing status, health care premium tax credit, and gift tax, estate, and trust tax returns, corporate returns, partnership returns, bit coin, sell of real estate, capital gain tax, and you wonder why our charge is what it is.  The complexity of the law is at hand, it’s all you have to do is enter the information on a form.  It’s why we enter the information on the form and what line.  You are buying knowledge.  When someone gives you a fee that is substantially lower than ours, you better ask yourself why.  Does this preparer have the knowledge need to prepare my tax return, how many tax returns do they prepare, how many years of experience do they have, will they be able to represent you in audits, how many hours of continuing education do they take annually, will they meet with you to permit you a chance to build your trust and confidence having them become your preparer?  So, when they are upfront and give you their estimated $520 tax preparation fee, remember, you are buying knowledge, you are buying a valuable service, and you are buying trust.  When you ask them a question, the answer may be saving you thousands of dollars or costing you thousands of dollars, if you get the wrong information, it’s your lost, not theirs.  So, be careful, don’t risk a reasonable fee to get the knowledge, value, and trust you are receiving when the event comes about.  Be advised, like everywhere else, inflation is pumping up tax prep costs and it’s worth every penny for the tax preparer’s knowledge, value, and trust.  On a last note, ask your friends, your colleagues, and your parents, for a referral for a tax advisor, meet with them, have your questions ready, and make sure you’re confident they will provide the services you feel comfortable in receiving.  This is a very brief overview.  For details and specific assistance in applying the general information in this article, call us at your earliest convenience or contact your tax advisor.   Provided by Tracey C. Higginbotham, E.A., (321) 632-5726, a member of the National Society of Accountants. 

21
Feb 23

ID Protection and Tax Preparer (January -2023)

I want to start this month’s article with options involving identity protection the Internal Revenue Service Center (IRS) provides.  They have tools you may access by signing into your account.  You will be requested to provide your sign-in utilizing your ID.me account.  Taxpayers using the new verification procedure, which is also mobile friendly, can gain entry to existing IRS online services such as the Child Tax Credit Update PortalOnline AccountGet Transcripts OnlineGet an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) and Online Payment Agreement. Additional IRS applications will transition to the new method over the next year.  Be advised, there are a number of tax changes coming up beginning January 1, 2023.  One item is dealing with Inherited Retirement Arrangements.  In prior years a beneficiary was permitted to take the required minimum distributions over their life expectancy.  Well, the Secure Act of 2019 changed this rule.  Now, a majority of beneficiaries will have to distribute the entire amount the retirement account within ten (10) years.  In 2021 and 2022, the interpretation of the law was thought to be any amount and anytime during this period.  This has now been determined as incorrect.  Recently, IRS issued a clarification and has stated a required minimum distribution is required each year during the ten (10) year period and IRS will provide a table detailing the distribution requirements in early 2023.  Now, if you didn’t take any distributions during 2021 and 2022, that’s okay.  IRS has stated no penalty will be assessed due to this misunderstanding on the intent and requirement of the law.  Next, let’s talk about who prepares your taxes.  Did you know, anyone can be a paid tax return preparer, as long as they have an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).  However, these PTIN preparers have differing levels of skills, education and expertise.  Also, they may prepare your tax return, but they can’t represent you in audit or any inquiry by IRS, unless they prepared the return.  You may pay more for an Enrolled Agent, CPA, or an Attorney, but it’s worth it in the long run.  Their continuing education requirements can be invaluable.  If you want, at irs.gov, there is a “Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications” where it can help you find preparers in our area who currently hold professional credentials recognized by the IRS, or who hold an Annual Filing Season Program Record Completion.  You can also check with professional organizations where many tax preparers are members.  It is in your best interest to learn about your tax preparer’s credentials and qualifications before your appointment and make sure you’re comfortable to trust them to prepare your tax return.  Remember, you are ultimately responsible for the return, not your preparer or friend.  In closing, we wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year!  This is a very brief overview. For details and specific assistance in applying the general information in this article, call us at your earliest convenience or contact your tax advisor.   Provided by Tracey C. Higginbotham, E.A., (321) 632-5726, a member of the National Society of Accountants.   

29
Nov 22

Protect yourself from Fraud (December-2022)

This month I want to remind everyone how to protect yourselves from fraudulent filing of your tax return. The IRS has a procedure enabling you to acquire a Personal Identification Number (PIN).  The procedure is simple, and you use it while you file your return so that your identity can be confirmed. The IP PIN is a six-digit number known only to you and IRS. After you apply, the IRS will send you a new IP PIN each year.  From IRS.gov use the “Get an IP Pin” tool. If you don’t have an account on IRS.com you will need to register first. The IP PIN tool is generally available starting in mid-January through mid-November, so you may want to set a reminder on your calendar. You can also obtain an IP PIN for your spouse and dependents. In the event you lose it, you will be able to retrieve it by signing back and follow the instructions under “retrieve your IP now.”  Next the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released the inflation-adjusted marginal rates and brackets for 2023, and you find higher take-home pay in the new year as less tax is withheld from their paychecks. The standard deduction will increase by $900 to $13,850 for single taxpayers, $1,800 for married couples, to $27,700., and for heads of household, it will increase $1,400 to $20,800. That's an increase of $1,400.  The marginal tax rates have been adjusted to reduce the tax on your taxable income approximately 10%, for the 10% bracket and it flows out from there. The maximum Earned Income Tax Credit will be $7,430 for those who have three or more qualifying children. The maximum contribution to a health care flexible spending account is also increasing, from $2,850 to $3,050.  Every individual is permitted an annual exclusion for gifts and it will increase to $17,000, that’s $34,000 for married couples.  Don’t forget all Social Security Benefit recipients will receive an increase of 8.7% and the premium for your Part B coverage will drop from $170.10, monthly, to $164.90, beginning January 1, 2023.  Your contributions to your 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government's Thrift Savings Plan is increased to $22,500, up from $20,500.  Individual IRA’s has increased to $6,500, up from $6,000. Catch up contribution for your IRA  remains at $1,000, if aged 50 or over.  However, for your 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is increased to $7,500, up from $6,500.  And, the catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in SIMPLE plans is increased to $3,500, up from $3,000.  Also, as we close out the year, you may need to evaluate Required Minimum Distributions from inheritance, contributions to your retirement arrangements, review your investments and be sure to evaluate your tax preparer assistance credibility, years in practice, credentials, and most of all, ask around to see who they trust when making this decision. In closing, myself, and my staff, wish everyone a happy and safe Holiday Season, with success and love in the New Year. God Bless!  This is a very brief overview.   For details and specific assistance in applying the general information in this article, call us at your earliest convenience or contact your tax advisor.   Provided by Tracey C. Higginbotham, E.A., (321) 632-5726, a member of the National Society of Accountants.

20
Oct 22

Change in the Required Minimum Distributions from IRA (November-2022)

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has now provided additional clarification on the required minimum distributions on Inherited Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRA) for non-spouse beneficiaries.  The Secure Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act) of 2019, changed the distribution rules from over the beneficiary lifetime to a distribution of ten (10) years.  The industry interpretation was understood the distributions could occur all at once or in multiple distributions and all funds had to be distributed on or before the tenth (10) anniversary of receiving the inheritance.  Well, in February 2022, the IRS issued a proposed regulation surprising the tax preparation industry and stated the required minimum distribution was required each year based on the beneficiary life expectancy, if they were 72 years or older.  So, in 2021 and 2022, if you didn’t take your required minimum distribution on the Inherited IRA, you have until 2023 to take your first required minimum distribution or perhaps later, when final regulations are issued.  Now, what this means is anyone 72, or older, is required to take their required minimum distributions on the inherited IRA for the years remaining and you still have to distribute all of the inherited IRA funds within ten (10) years.  One other note, if you should die before reaching the tenth-year anniversary, then your beneficiary(ies) will be required to still meet the tenth-year anniversary full distribution requirement.  I know, you need to be a tax professional to understand this, and I highly recommend seeking advice on this issue.  What about the penalty for not taking out the required minimum distributions for 2021 and 2022.  The IRS has stated no penalties will be assessed for failure to take the distributions, since there was substantial confusion on the requirement and if you did pay the penalty, you may request a refund of the penalty paid.  Final regulations are expected by the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023.  On a business note, if you applied for a Payroll Protection Program loan is forgiven based upon misrepresentations or omissions, the business will not be eligible to exclude the forgiveness from income and are required to file amended returns to be compliant.  Remember, taxes are complicated, and I recommend you seek adequate advice on any issue you are not familiar with.  It can result in a substantial tax liability, as easy as checking a box incorrectly.  I also want to express how thankful I am to provide my monthly article for you.  Our office hopes you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and grateful for what you have.  Happy Thanksgiving!!!  See you in the Christmas Parade!!! This is a very brief overview.   For details and specific assistance in applying the general information in this article, call us at your earliest convenience or contact your tax advisor.   Provided by Tracey C. Higginbotham, E.A., (321) 632-5726, a member of the National Society of Accountants.

20
Oct 22

Hobbies (October-2022)

I took most of this from the Internal Revenue Service Center Tax Tips.  This information is covering the question if your hobby activity is for-profit or a not-for-profit.  So of us, from collecting stamps and woodworking to crafting and quilting, we have all kinds of hobbies – and most of these hobbies will never turn a profit.  For hobbies that do earn income, you should know you are required to report it on your tax return.  You should also be mindful that your hobby might be a business.  You need to determine whether you should classify the activity as a hobby or a business and this can be confusing.  However, the bottom line is when a business operates to make a profit, it requires reporting. Most of the time where you hobbies for sport or recreation is usually not-for-profit.  With that, no single consideration is the deciding factor, but you should review all of these when determining whether your activity is a business.  Here are the things you should evaluate to decide whether you have a hobby or a business:  Is your activity carrying out the activity in a businesslike manner and you maintain complete and accurate books and records?  Does your time and effort in the activity show you intend to make it profitable?  Do you depend on income from the activity for your livelihood?  Are any losses due to circumstances beyond your control or are normal for the startup phase of this type of business?  Do you take the action to change methods of operation to improve profitability?  Do you have the knowledge or have consulted with another professional to attain the knowledge needed to carry out the activity as a successful business?  Have you been successful in making a profit in similar activities in the past?  Does the activity make a profit in some years and how much profit does it make?  Do you expect your activity to make a future profit from the appreciation of the assets used in the activity.  As you can see, it really isn’t easy to determine whether your activity is for-profit or not-for-profit and I would recommend you discuss your circumstances with your tax adviser in making your decision.  Next, I want to address a response from one of our readers, sent to the editor, since my last article.  I want to say thank you for providing your feedback.  After writing articles for something like 3 decades, it makes me feel good someone is actually reading what I offer each month.  So, with that, thank you for reading and I hope everyone continues to read it in the future.  God Bless America and the First Amendment - Freedom of Speech.  On another note – Medicare Annual Enrollment Period begins October 15, 2022, through December 7, 2022.  Anyone covered by a Medicare Advantage Prescription Plan or Prescription Drug Plans needs to determine if the one they have is still the best one for them.  All insurance companies make changes to the formularies, copays, and premiums and some issue new plans, every year.  Take my advice and consult with your insurance agent.  If you don’t have one, call my office for an appointment, it’s free.  This is only brief overview.  It is your responsibility to discuss anything in this article, prior to making any changes, with your professional advisor to assist you in evaluating your situation.  For details and specific assistance in applying the general information in this article, call us at your earliest convenience or contact your professional advisor.   Provided by Tracey C. Higginbotham, E.A., (321) 632-5726, a member of the National Society of Accountants.

15
Sep 22

Inflation Reduction (September-2022)


One year ago, my article started off with this.  “Fresh from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Small Business and Criminal Divisions.  The division has made the statement they will hire thousands of Auditors by September.  This was made available by President Biden and the House Appropriations Committee to provide an additional $1.7 billion for the fiscal year 2022 IRS budget.  Quote, “The IRS SB/SE co-commissioners De Lon Harris and Darren Guillot spoke to the conference. “We’re going to be ready to go, as soon as that budget hits... to start bringing in what could be double the number of folks that we are looking at bringing in this year, just for exam alone.” They noted that they plan to hire 1300 field revenue officers, 400 tax compliance officers who will be available for "in person audits" (formerly called "office audits"), and 518 automated collection system (ACS) phone representatives". Now, we have the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.  In this Act, IRS is receiving an additional $80 Billion Dollars for IRS tax enforcement funding.  I just don’t understand where all the money goes and they still can’t answer the phone in a timely manner, process wet signature returns and request in a timely manner, and the list goes on.  Anyway, if this is the plan to hire and additional 87,000 new agents, it will take new auditors six-months to complete their training and they are expected to audit cases worth less than tens of millions of dollars.  Overall, between fiscal years 2015, through 2019, audits were down around 44%.  So, you can see why the want to ramp up the audits.  Currently, the IRS ranks each tax return with a numeric score.  The higher the score, the more likely an audit will be initiated.  Or possibly, the system may flag a return due to deductions or credits that fall outside of acceptable ranges.  Therefore, the best advice I can give you is to make sure you have your receipts to substantiate the amounts reported on your return.  Other items included in the act is repealing the Trump-era drug rebate rules for $120 Billion, Drug price inflation cap for $100 Billion, Negotiation of certain drug prices for $100 Billion, Clean vehicle manufacturing for $20 Billion, Clean energy technology for $30 Billion, Reducing health insurance premiums for $64 Billion, and other tax breaks not affecting the majority of the taxpayers.  Finally, many key policies were negotiated out covering plans for new childcare, housing, eldercare, and paid-leave programs.  My, my.  Oh, and for the record, the title of the act again is Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.  I didn’t find anything that addressed the inflation we are experiencing.  This was even recognized and emphasized by Bernie Sanders.  Wow!!!  What will Congress and our dear President think of next?  Mid-terms elections are coming up.  I recommend you give it some serious thought and don’t re-elect career politicians and clean up our political arena with representatives for the people and not just for the affiliated party leaders.   

This is very brief overview. For details and specific assistance in applying the general information in this article, call us at your earliest convenience or contact your tax advisor.   Provided by Tracey C. Higginbotham, E.A., (321) 632-5726, a member of the National Society of Accountants.

11
Aug 22

IRS Big Announcements (August-2022)

Let’s start off this month with an announcement Internal Revenue Service Center (IRS) made recently for business owners and applicable taxpayers.  For the final six months of 2022, the standard mileage rate will increase to 62.5¢ per mile. Taxpayers may use the optional standard mileage rate to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business and certain other purposes.  Also, there will be an increase to 22¢ per mile for medical or moving expenses.  Now, I want to change direction and discuss, briefly, the child dependent circumstances.  When claiming a child as a dependent and the parents are divorced, separated, or live apart certain rules need be followed.  Only one person can claim the tax benefits related to a dependent child, who meets the qualifying child rules.   Parents can’t share or split up the tax benefits, for the child, on their respective tax returns.  It’s important that each parent understands who will claim their child on their tax return.  If two people try to claim the same child, on different tax returns, it will slow down processing time since the IRS will not issue any refunds until they determine which parent’s claim takes priority.  Normally, the custodial parent will meet the qualifying child due to the residency test.  There’s also arrangement where both parents have the child equally, then the higher adjusted gross income parent would be determined as the appropriate taxpayer to claim the child.  However, the non-custodial parent may be eligible to claim the child if the custodial parent provides a release of dependency exemption Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, and the non-custodial parent must include a copy of this completed form with their tax return to claim the child.  Furthermore, this also applies to some tax benefits, including the child tax credit, additional child tax credit, and credit for other dependents. It doesn’t apply to other tax benefits, such as the earned income credit, dependent care credit or head of household filing status.  A thorough understanding of the rules are required, appropriate evaluation, and clear communications between parents is necessary.  The next item of importance this month is where the IRS announced they want to hire 470 revenue agents.  These positions will require knowledge in auditing or examining individual and/or business taxpayers.  Throughout July, 2022, the IRS is holding a series of virtual information sessions for interested applicants. Visit IRS.gov for more information about the jobs, how to qualify and how to attend a virtual information session.  You’ll find most of the positions are located outside of Florida, but the annual income for most positions starts are $111,000. I guess this should provide insight as to what they are expecting to increase activity in the next year.  Be prepared to retain your receipts, records, and be able to justify your position on your tax return.  I hope everyone enjoyed the fireworks our community put on this year.  It was awesome and SUPER THANK YOU to everyone who contributed funds, sweat, and effort to make it happen!  This is just a brief overview. Further details and specific questions may be obtained by contacting your tax advisor or our office.  Provided by Tracey C. Higginbotham, E.A., (321) 632-5726, a member of the National Society of Accountants.

19
Jul 22

Residential Property Sell (July-2022)

This month I want to discuss the aspects of selling your main home.  Are you aware you may qualify to exclude all or part of any gain from the sale?  Well, you need consider the following facts to determine how much is excluded.  You are required to have ownership and use of it as your primary residence, for at least 2 years out of the last five-year period.  So, how much of the gain are you able to exclude?  The amount is up $250,000 for single filers, and up to $500,000 for married filing joint filers, without having to reinvestment into another home.  Taxpayers who are permitted to exclude all their gain does not need to report the sale on their tax return, unless a Form 1099-S was issued.  Taxpayers who don’t qualify to exclude all of the taxable gain from their income, must report the gain from the sale of their home when they file their tax return and anyone who chooses not to claim the exclusion, must report the taxable gain on their tax return using Form 8949 and Schedule D.  Also, taxpayers who receive Form 1099-S, Proceeds from Real Estate Transactions, must report the sale on their tax return, even if they have no taxable gain, and follow the procedure to exclude the taxable gain, if so permitted.  Now, what if you have a loss?  A loss is when your main home sells for less than your basis and this is not deductible.  What is basis?  This is the purchase price of the home and land, some of the purchase closing cost, major improvements and repairs, and some of the closing costs on the sell.  This basis is subtracted from the selling price to arrive at your gain.  Oh, your original loan, refinancing, and home equity loans are not part of the equation to determine the gain or loss on the sell of the residence.  Remember, taxpayers who own more than one home, can only exclude the gain on the sale of their main home where they have lived two of the last five years.  Any other home sells will be taxable.  Next, what if you didn’t live in this home two out of the last five years?  Well, you are permitted take a proportionate part of the two-year period.  Let’s say you lived in the home exactly one year out of the last five.  Then you would be permitted to take a 50% exclusion of the gain.  In other words, 365 days divided by 730 days equates to 50%.  It’s the number of days as your primary residence, divided by 730 days, to arrive at the correct excluded percentage.  What if you bought and sold more than one main home within the five-year period?  Call your tax advisor!  There are other exceptions to what I have stated in this brief overview for taxpayers with disabilities, certain members of the military, intelligence community, Peace Corps workers, and natural disasters.  Again, if you fall within one of these exceptions, you’ll need to consult your tax advisor.  For additional information you can review Publication 523, Selling Your Home.  Last, I hope everyone enjoyed the 4th of July Fireworks, Thunder Over the Indian River!!! We appreciate the opportunity to be a prime sponsor and I want to thank the Port St. John Community Foundation, Inc. members for their efforts making our community one of the best to live in.  Especially, Randy Rodriguez, Supreme Pyromaniac.  Be sure to let him know!  This is a very brief overview.  Additional details and specific assistance in applying the general information in this article may be attained by contacting your tax advisor or our office.   Provided by Tracey C. Higginbotham, E.A., (321) 632-5726, a member of the National Society of Accountants.

9
Jun 22

Vacation Rentals (June-2022)

This month I’m going to explore vacation home rentals.  Vacation rentals have different rules for short-term or long-term and whether or not other services are included in the rental of the property.  First, you need to consider whether you use it as a dwelling unit or not.  Did you use the dwelling residence for personal purposes, during the tax year, for a number of days, that’s more than the greater of 14 days or 10% of the total days and you rented it to others at a fair rental price?  With this in mind, we need to understand the definition of personal use of the dwelling.  It is any day you use it, or any other person uses it, and who has an interest in it, a member of your family or of a family of any other person who has an interest in it, and anytime the unit is used at a less than fair rental price, whether they are related or not.  So, let’s take a look at the 14-day basic rental rules.  If you receive rental income and the usage is less than or equal to 14 days, you don’t have pay income tax on the income and you are not permitted to write off any relevant expenses when it’s your personal residence.  However, if the personal usage is more than 14 days, then all or some of the expenses may be deducted, based on the amount of usage and further review of the rules is required.  If you receive rental income and it’s not your personal residence, all income is reported and all the expenses are deducted against the income.  What if you have someone living in your house and they are giving you money towards the utilities, cable, etc.  The question is it really rental or not?  It is rental income, if you have a rental contract, detailing the monthly payment, and you’ll then follow the rules previously discussed.  If there isn’t a rental contract and they are just paying their share of the expenses, I don’t see it as rental income.  But, remember, if there isn’t a contract, this will considered their living abode and eviction may be a real legal issue, if it becomes necessary.  So, be careful when you decide to do this.  Next, I want to discuss whether you have an independent contractor or an employee and you run a business.  This subject is always being revaluated and there isn’t a black and white answer.  The present, generally accepted decision making categories are:  Behavior Control, Financial Control, and Relationship to the Parties.  Behavior Control, in short, does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how it’s done.  Financial Control, in short, does the business direct or control the financial and business aspects of the worker’s job.  Things like, how the worker is paid, expenses are reimbursed, and/or who provides the tools, supplies, and materials.  And, Relationship, in short, is there a written contract between the company and the worker providing the need, is the worker required to be present any defined period of time, are they evaluated on production, are they paid by the hour, etc.  All three of these, working together, determine if the individual is an employee or not.  Misclassifying workers as independent contractors may subject the company to be liable for employment taxes for that worker (plus a 100% penalty), both at the Federal and State level, disallowed deductions for the payments to the employee, failure to file W-2’s penalties, and audit.  It’s not worth it.  Play the game right and you’ll be way ahead in the long run.  On another note, any worker who believes they have been improperly classified can file the Form 8919, Uncollected Social Security and Medicare Tax on Wages, to properly pay their taxes.  This is a brief overview.  Additional details and specific assistance in applying the general information in this article may be attained by contacting your tax advisor or our office.   Provided by Tracey C. Higginbotham, E.A., (321) 632-5726, a member of the National Society of Accountants.