The 2018 Tax Reform bill is the biggest tax law change since 1986 – and it’s GOOD for business! Landwehr Tax & Accounting has been gearing up to help businesses implement strategies that could help your company pay less taxes. Now is the time to plan to take advantage of these new opportunities.
Entity Choice: revisit your Company’s entity configuration to make sure it is still the best choice under the new regulations.
Cash or Accrual: tax law changes allows for greater flexibility on what accounting method is allowed for tax purposes.
Reasonable Compensation: the new law puts this old concept back into relevancy…make sure your compensation is not too low, nor too high.
Individual Taxes: changes on the individual side of tax law is also addressed during your planning service.
Year-end tax tips: there are less than three months left to implement changes before the year is over…don’t wait!
Give us a call TODAY to schedule your appointment and see how the new tax law pertains to your business with our newly developed planning packages. Space is limited so call now before the year is over…we’re ready to help!
BASIC Package ($850)
Planning based on new tax law
- Entity choice
- Cash or accrual
- Reasonable compensation to maximize QBI deductions
- Impact on personal returns (for 1 shareholder)
- Year-end tax tips
All-Inclusive Package ($1,250)
Everything from the BASIC package PLUS:
- Past 3 years tax review
- Observations on financial health of business
Understanding the basics: IRS Tax Problems 101 With Lucent Tax Relief
Benjamin Franklin once said there were only two things certain in life: death and taxes. What Franklin failed to mention was just how complicated taxes can be and that they can be difficult to understand when problems arise.
What are some common tax problems?
If someone owes more than $10,000 in taxes, the IRS may file a lien on their name. Meaning, the IRS will be paid first if someone sells something like a car or their home.
Tax Levy or Garnishment
The IRS has the right to collect money owed using various methods. Some of those methods include:
- Levying a person’s bank account
- Garnishing their wages or social security and disability benefits, among other things
Unfiled Tax Returns
Failing to file tax returns. More common than you might think and can be resolved relatively easily.
- Failure to File Penalty: IRS will impose a failure to file penalty plus interest on the taxes not paid.
- Professional License: A professional license could be revoked until returns are filed and a taxes owed paid.
- Tax Refunds: The only way to receive a tax refund is to file a return within three years of the original filing date.
- Interest and Penalties on Taxes Owed: If taxes are owed, interest and penalties will be added to the amount due. This could make a bad situation even worse and cause your tax bill to grow much larger.
How will I know if I owe taxes or have unfiled returns?
If a person is being audited, if taxes are owed that the IRS is attempting to collect, or if the IRS needs to contact you for any reason, they will send a letter. All letters from the IRS are important, so be sure to open and read carefully, but some might be more time sensitive than others. Letters like a Notice of Deficiency (commonly referred to as a “90 Day Letter”) or letters where the IRS is warning you of a levy or garnishment have deadlines within which to respond. No matter the type of letter, do not ignore the IRS.
What are some options when seeking tax resolution?
If there is an amount due, pay it as soon as possible. Avoid having additional interest and penalties add up.
Pay the Correct Tax Only
Be sure to review the calculated amount to ensure it is correct. The IRS makes mistakes, but there’s only so much time to dispute the amount owed if it’s incorrect.
Offer in Compromise
In some cases, the IRS will accept a lump sum that is less the total amount owed. It’s a lengthy process, typically lasting six months to a year, to convince the IRS that it will not be able to collect the full amount due to financial circumstances. Be sure to evaluate with a tax professional before making the offer.
If the Offer in Compromise isn’t a good fit, it’s possible that paying owed taxes in installments could be an option.
Currently Not Collectible
The IRS may determine that certain people might be unable to pay anything at the current time and will classify them as “currently not collectible.” The taxes are still owed and the interest and penalties add up, but collection action is put on hold while the financial situation remains the same.
While the above information might seem complicated, we’re here to help. Unlike Benjamin Franklin, we don’t believe death and taxes are the only things certain in life. We at Lucent are certain if you find yourself in any of the situations listed above, we will do our best to try to help you. And, if you choose to work with us, our guarantee to you is that the process will be Lucent: transparent, reliable and accountable.
Download the ebook, Understanding the Basics: IRS Tax Problems 101 to learn more!
Claudia Revermann, Lucent Tax Relief Co-Founder, Attorney at Law, CPA
Claudia Revermann has been practicing law for 16 years. She also has 20 years of tax practice experience, holding a Certified Public Accountant license and having previously worked as a tax accountant in a large regional accounting firm. She opened her own law firm in June 2015, where her primary focus is to educate and serve her clients with confidence and humbleness. In order to maintain those values of providing skilled and understandable advice to tax clients, Claudia partnered with Andrew Hawkins to form Lucent Tax Relief.
“From reading business magazines and tuning in to what is going on with surrounding companies, I am a sucker when it comes to business,” says Shawn Landwehr, with a grin. Just get him talking on the subject and his passion for all things small business is evident.
As payroll coordinator for Landwehr Tax & Accounting, Shawn interacts often with our clients—many of which are small business owners. He says this is one of his favorite aspects of the job.
“I’m always asking questions and informing myself about our clients’ business operations,” he says. “I learn a lot from those conversations and I enjoy using that knowledge to help them.”
In addition to his entrepreneurial spirit, Shawn brings 17 years in retail management experience to his role at Landwehr. After studying supervisory management at St. Cloud Technical College, he worked at a local office supply store as the furniture sales lead and as the backroom coordinator and receiving supervisor at other retail stores.
“After all that time spent in retail, I was ready for a change,” he says. “Landwehr was growing and I wanted to work in a place where I could interact more directly with small business owners.”
Shawn—who has a tattoo on his right shoulder that says “Stay True”— believes strongly in living with honesty and integrity. These values, coincidentally, align with Landwehr’s company values – what a great fit!
When Shawn isn’t engulfed in a business magazine, you can find him spending time with his wife or working on his 2006 Pontiac GTO (cars – one of his favorite hobbies). He also enjoys playing with his new German Shepherd, Maya and Miniature Schnauzer, Snickers.
“I’m not your stereotypical accountant,” says Cherie Landwehr, laughing. “I do love spreadsheets and numbers, but I find even greater joy in the relationships I develop with my clients.”
A certified public accountant (CPA) and certified financial planner (CFP) with over 25 years of experience, Cherie started Landwehr Tax & Accounting in 2006 with the heartfelt desire to serve others.
“Helping people achieve financial security in a way that feels good to them is our main goal,” Cherie shares. “Yes, it is our duty to complete our client’s taxes well, and we do. But, people come here because they can ask questions and never feel stupid.”
Cherie’s focus on connection and personal relationships isn’t the only way her company differentiates itself from others. Every year since 2006, Landwehr Tax & Accounting has earned the distinction of being Central Minnesota’s only Dave Ramsey Endorsed Local Provider for Tax Advice and Preparation.
“The first time I encountered Dave Ramsey’s book, Financial Peace Revisited, I read it from cover to cover in one day. His philosophy was so inspiring that I attended his debt counseling class in Nashville and began incorporating his ideas into my work with clients,” she says.
When Cherie’s not meeting with clients, crunching numbers or strategizing with her fast-growing team, you can find her reading, gardening, watching movies and spending time with her family at their home in St. Augusta, Minnesota.
Some things are just meant to be. That’s how we feel about the day Katie Koester walked into our office, searching for an accountant to prepare her tax return.
“I’d always done it myself,” explains Katie. “But given the additional forms required because of a child in college, I thought an extra set of eyes would be helpful.”
Katie had attended Financial Peace University through her church several years before, so she knew about Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) program. When she searched his website, she discovered that Landwehr Tax & Accounting was the only ELP in central Minnesota for tax advice and preparation.
“While my husband and I were meeting with Cherie about our tax return, I casually asked if she had any positions available. She suggested I contact her over the summer when her schedule would be more flexible. I wrote a reminder in my planner for June,” shares Katie, laughing. “I reached out to her, we met for coffee and she hired me as a temporary employee during the 2016 tax season.”
In October of the same year, “temporary” turned into full-time when we hired Katie as staff accountant with a focus on bookkeeping. A degree in managerial accounting from the Minnesota School of Business and more than 10 years of experience in customer service and financial service roles prepared her well for a spot on our team.
“Being part of a growing company is very exciting to me because I get to participate in developing and streamlining processes,” says Katie. “Cherie empowers us to make a difference in the lives of our clients. They have peace of mind, knowing we are taking care of their financial matters accurately and efficiently.”
Katie is a go-getter and a bit of a perfectionist. We like to tease her about that, but those traits—along with her fierce loyalty—are the ones we appreciate most as her colleagues and friends.
She enjoys scrapbooking, going on nature walks and spending time with her family and cats. She also encourages her father, whose Leukemia is in remission, by fundraising and walking with him at an annual New Jersey event in support of cancer research.
“If I believe in something, I believe in it 100%,” she says.
Whether you’re making a switch or working with the same provider as last year, your initial meeting will go more smoothly if you bring everything your tax preparer needs to file your complete tax return. These are some of the items people commonly forget.
TAX RETURN FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR
Your long-term tax advisor should have your last year’s tax return on file. But, if you’re making a switch or you’re a DIYer getting professional tax help for the first time, you’ll need to bring this with you. Here’s why: if you had capital loss carryovers or paid income taxes with your state return during the previous year, you can deduct those items on this year’s return.
TIP: A brand new tax partner can also check to see whether credits or deductions were missed on your previous return. If that’s the case, they may be able to file an amendment and put some of your money back in your pocket—where it belongs.
VEHICLE REGISTRATION TAXES
You’ll need to know the amount of money you paid for the tabs you put on your license plates last year.
TIP: If you don’t remember, you can visit www.dmv.org and look up the amount by entering your driver’s license number.
NON-CASH CHARITABLE DONATIONS
Most people don’t take the time to track and record the items they give away, but these donations can save you money on your taxes. You’ll need to provide item descriptions, dates and relative values, as well as receipts from the charitable organizations.
TIP: Visit goodwill.org for the estimated fair market values of clothing, toys, furniture and more.
CASH CHARITABLE DONATIONS
Those $10 and $15 donations you made throughout the year may seem insignificant, but they can really add up. Be sure to keep the receipts and bring them with you.
TIP: Create a digital or physical folder where you can place receipts for donations as you make them.
UNREIMBURSED EMPLOYEE BUSINESS EXPENSES
These expenses are easy to overlook and often missed. Some items that qualify include parking, business subscriptions, professional dues, union dues, supplies and business mileage (except your drive to and from work).
K-12 EDUCATIONAL COSTS
In Minnesota, you can deduct a variety of educational costs you pay during the year, like private school tuition, all-day kindergarten tuition, school supplies, tutoring and more.
TIP: Keep receipts from back-to-school shopping in the fall. Also, don’t forget to include educational hardware and software purchases.
If you’ve already completed your tax return for this year, you may want to brush up on these strategies that will make you happier at tax time next year.
If you’re searching for a trustworthy tax partner who can help you navigate the sometimes-complicated maze of taxes, accounting and finances, we’d love to hear from you! We have more than 25 years of experience preparing income tax returns for individuals, corporations, LLCs and partnerships.
When intern Baily Prescott made it through her first tax season not just smiling but laughing, we knew we wanted her to be a permanent part of the Landwehr Tax & Accounting team. So, we happily offered her the position of staff accountant, which she accepted after completing her associate’s degree in accounting at St. Cloud Technical College.
In her role, Baily provides bookkeeping and payroll services for our clients. She loves numbers and cares very much about doing good work, but her friendly personality and inquisitive nature are the real secrets behind her success.
“Baily brings lightness and levity to almost every situation,” says owner Cheri Landwehr. “She builds great rapport with others, takes initiative and delivers the best possible product to our clients.”
Baily’s father—and their very close relationship—are what inspired her to pursue a career in accounting.
“Growing up, I always enjoyed listening when he would talk about his work and business,” she shares. “I decided that was what I wanted to do, too.”
A Nebraska native, Baily lives with her husband Tim and their puppy in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where she enjoys board games, knitting, visits to the dog park and frequent trips to Duluth.
Although the deadline for tax returns isn’t until April, the month of December is your last opportunity to make decisions that will positively influence your tax deductions and credits. We encourage our clients to consider these high-impact activities as the year comes to an end.
You’ve still got time. Get busy!
Fund your Health Savings Account (HSA).
HSAs offer a great opportunity to get a last-minute tax deduction. Many people are unaware they can add to the amount deposited by their employer or even start their own
account. You can contribute to your HSA by requesting a deduction from your paycheck or making a payment directly to your HSA administrator.
HSAs are beneficial for a few reasons. First, HSA funds are more accessible in a medical emergency than those in a 401k or IRA plan. Second, the earnings are tax-free if used for medical expenses. And lastly, anyone with a high-deductible health insurance policy qualifies—regardless of income. The contribution limits for 2016 are $3,350 for an individual and $6,750 for a family. People 55 or older can contribute $1,000 on top of these amounts.
Clean out your closets.
Most people have a lot of extra stuff cluttering up their homes and spaces. Now is the perfect time to donate it! You are allowed tax deductions for the fair market value of clothing, toys, furniture and other items you give away. Visit goodwill.org for estimated values. Create a list and assign values as you pack your donation boxes, so you don’t forget what you’re donating. Then, attach the dated, signed receipt you receive from your charity to that list and bring both to your tax appointment. A receipt is required; a photo is a good idea but optional.
Max out your employer retirement plan.
If you’re expecting a bonus this year, plan to put all—or a good chunk of it—into your 401k or SIMPLE plan at work. Check with your human resources department for requirements, and make sure you let them know your intentions before they’ve finished processing your bonus check. While individual IRAs can be funded all the way up to the April 15 deadline, employer accounts must be funded through payroll, which means before your last paycheck of the year is calculated.
Donate your required minimum distribution (RMD).
A relatively new tax law allows taxpayers over the age of 70 ½ to donate their RMD directly to a charity to avoid paying taxes on it. Special and specific rules apply, so call your tax advisor for details before initiating this transaction.
Offset some winners with some losers.
The IRS allows a $3,000 maximum capital loss each year that can be used to offset gains. For instance, if you have a stock with a $4,000 gain and another that will generate a $7,000 loss, you can use the loss to completely offset the $4,000 winner and still get a $3,000 loss deduction on your taxes. This applies to stock accounts outside of your retirement accounts, so plan accordingly and schedule a meeting with your financial advisor to get advice before selling.
If you’re searching for a trustworthy tax partner who can help maximize deductions, reduce tax errors and ease tax stress, we’d love to hear from you! We have more than 20 years of experience preparing income tax returns for individuals, corporations, LLCs and partnerships.
Dedicated, passionate, friendly and focused—these are just a few of the ways we would describe one of our newest additions to the Landwehr Tax & Accounting team. Ashley Kerzman began her role as business manager in September 2016. Her responsibilities include managing project workflow, communicating with vendors, completing software updates, fostering team growth and much more.
“I really enjoy the variety,” Ashley shares. “From refining work processes to planning events, I coordinate every aspect of operations.”
Ashley’s experience, education and personality make her the perfect fit for this position. An obsessive organizer and extremely hard worker, Ashley possesses nearly six years of experience in operations and finance. She earned her bachelor’s degree in finance from St. Cloud State University while working full-time and starting a family.
Ashley’s passion for learning and willingness to try new things motivate her to push the business towards even greater efficiency and growth—and her colleagues are noticing.
“I am so excited to have Ashley on board,” says owner Cherie Landwehr. “She will make our client service even better by implementing forward-thinking ideas, seeing projects to completion and freeing up my time to spend with our clients.”
Outside of work, Ashley enjoys volleyball, softball, crafting, and nature walks with her husband Scott and children Kason, Brooklyn and Hannah.