Planning & Tax Tips

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Tips on how to get your refund faster?

Instead of mailing your tax return, you may want to file electronically. The e-file program offers fast, easy, accurate, and convenient alternatives to filing traditional paper returns. You can also have you refund deposited directly into your bank account. It is a secure and faster way to get your money in your pocket faster. Please let us know when you when we receive your tax information that you prefer direct deposit. We just need:
            1. Name of financial institution
            2. Type of account (checking or savings)
            3. The nine-digit routing number
            4. Your account number 

Tips for deducting charitable contributions

When preparing to file your federal tax return, do not forget your contributions to charitable organizations. Your donations could add up to a sizeable tax deduction if you itemize on IRS Form 1040, Schedule A. 


Here are a few tips to ensure your contributions pay off on your tax return. 

 You cannot deduct contributions made to specific individuals, political organizations and candidates. Nor can you deduct the value of your time or services and the cost of raffles, bingo or other games of chance. 

 To be deductible, contributions must be made to qualified organizations.
 Only contributions actually made during the tax year are deductible.
 If your contributions entitle you to merchandise, goods or services, including admission to a charity ball, banquet, theatrical performance or sporting event, you can deduct only the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit received. 

 Donations of stock or other property are usually valued at the fair market value of the property.
 Special rules apply to donation of vehicles.
 For a charitable contribution of $250 or more, you can claim a deduction only if you obtain a written acknowledgment from the qualified organization. 

 If you claim a deduction on your return of more than $500 for all contributed property, you must attach IRS Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, to your return.
•  Taxpayers donating an item or a group of similar items valued at more than $5,000 must also complete Section B of Form 8283, which requires an appraisal by a qualified appraiser.  

Tips on keeping accurate information

You can avoid headaches at tax time by keeping track of your receipts and other records throughout the year. Good record keeping will help you remember the various transactions you made during the year, which in turn may make filing your return a less taxing experience.


Records help you document the deductions you have claimed on your return. You will need this documentation should the IRS select your return for examination. Normally, tax records should be kept for three years, but some documents — such as records relating to a home purchase or sale, stock transactions, IRA and business or rental property — should be kept longer.


In most cases, the IRS does not require you to keep records in any special manner. Generally speaking, however, you should keep any and all documents that may have an impact on your federal tax return: 

    • Bills
    • Credit card and other receipts 
    • Invoices
    • Mileage logs
    • Canceled checks or any other proof of payment
    • Any other records to support deductions or credits you claim


Good record keeping throughout the year saves you time and effort at tax time when organizing and completing your return. The records you have kept will assist us in quickly and accurately completing your return.

List of typical business (Schedule C or Sole Proprietorship) Income / Expenses

   Income items:
         • Gross sales
         • Commissions
          SPIFs
         • Interest income 
   Expense items:
         • Product costs
          Commissions
          Fees
          Licenses
          Certain education/training fees
          Business-related books, publications, newspapers
          Advertising and promotion expenses
          Auto expenses – mileage method or actual costs plus depreciation
          Log book – needed to keep track of appointments and related expenses
          Wages and benefits to employees
          Medical and dental premiums (Form 1040 front page deduction)
          Interest expense on business loans (including business credit card)
          Legal fees
          Accounting fees
          Office expense
          Home office expenses – a % is taken
                  House insurance
                  Maintenance and repairs (snowplowing, lawn care, etc.)
                  Property taxes
                  Mortgage interest
                  Utilities
                  Extra phone lines and phone services (possibly 100% deduction)
                  Cable hook-up for computer
                  Expenses related to fix up office area (new carpet, lights, etc.)
                  Computers and all peripheral equipment
                  Communications (faxes, cell phone expenses, etc.)
                  Internet charges
          Management fees
          Rent
          Supplies
          Travel expenses
          Meals & entertainment (subject to 50% test)
          Travel luggage • Briefcase • Sub-contract labor
          Business conventions, workshops, etc.
          Organization dues (Kiwanis, Optimists, etc.)
          Office furniture (desks, chairs, lamp, camera for business pictures?)
          Specific work-type clothing that cannot be used on street (logo shirts, workboots,            etc.)
          Business insurances (liability, malpractice, etc.)
          Postage and delivery
          Any other expenses that are business related


List of typical rental (Schedule E expenses)
      Income items:
         • Rents
         • Interest income
          Reimbursements for expenses (utilities, etc.) 
Expense items:
         • Commissions
          Fees
          Licenses
          Certain education/training fees
          Business-related books, publications, newspapers
          Cleaning and maintenance
          Advertising and promotion expenses
          Auto expenses – mileage method or actual costs plus depreciation
          Interest expense on business loans (including business credit card)
          Legal fees
          Accounting fees
          Office expense
          Management fees
          Rental furniture
          Building (home) expenses
                  Building (house) insurance
                  Maintenance and repairs (snowplowing, lawn care, etc.)
                  Property taxes
                  Mortgage interest
                  Utilities
                  Extra phone lines and phone services (possibly 100% deduction)
                  Cable hook-up for computer
                  Expenses related to fixing up office area (new carpet, lighting, etc.)
                  Leasehold improvements to rental property
                  Property assessments
           Supplies
           Any other business rental expenses