Here you will find any updates or newsletters we send out as well as relevant tax information specific to the 2019 tax filing season.
The federal tax deadline has now been extended to July 15, 2020. All taxpayers will have additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties. Although the deadline has been extended we will continue to prepare taxes and we recommend you continue to send us your tax documents so that we can file in the event of a refund. Although we haven’t received guidance from the state of Arizona we will assume states will follow the federal tax deadline. If there are changes, we will let you know.
As mentioned in our previous notice, circumstances are changing rapidly and for the continued health and well-being of our employees and clients we have decided to keep our doors locked during office hours to curb the occurrence of direct contact between pick-ups and drop offs. We will now only accept tax returns via email, portal or mail. For those that are unable to send information by those methods we have set up a locked drop box outside our office doors. It will only be available while we are in the office and between 9am-4pm Monday-Friday to ensure your documents are retrieved immediately.
While we move towards delivery of finalized tax returns via USPS mail, email or portal, if you MUST pick up finalized returns we will deliver them directly to your vehicle upon your arrival. Just call our office to confirm.
Upon review, if you find you have questions about your tax return please call the office to set up an appointment to discuss. We will not be available to discuss if you stop by the office.
While these are trying times and we sincerely appreciate your patience with these new protocols, please rest assured we will always try to accommodate your situation and find a solution.
Tax appointments will resume beginning May 4th unless circumstance warrant otherwise so feel free to make an appointment at any point to get on Ben's calendar.
March 18, 2020
Dear SFS Clients,
We wanted to keep you up to date and informed of the New 1040 Tax Deferral Program and of the protocol we are implementing in our office to ensure we are still working effectively but protecting our staff and our clients from the spread of Coronavirus.
Federal Tax Deferral
On March 17, 2020 Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announced that TAX RETURNS ARE STILL DUE APRIL 15. However, payments that are due on April 15th, or due with an extension on April 15th, may be delayed until July 15, 2020 without penalty or interest. If the return is not timely filed, or properly extended the 90-day relief will not apply.
The maximum amount of deferral is $1,000,000 for an individual and $10,000,000 for a corporation. Within 90 days of April 15th the amount is due, without penalty or interest, and the IRS says they will not assess penalty or interest. Underpayment penalties for periods before April 15th appear to still apply.
Refunds are unaffected.
Ben is only taking phone appointments at this time through March 31st.
Although we will remain open for limited drop-offs and pick-ups, we highly recommend you send us your tax information in any of the following ways: via our secure portal (we can set up an account if you don’t already have one), fax, email or US Postal Service. Because this is a fluid situation that changes daily, if you must come in to the office, please call prior to coming in.
To limit direct contact we would appreciate your willingness to accept finalized tax returns via email, our portal or US Postal Service (we will call to confirm).
We can accept signed E-file authorization forms via fax, email, text (via photo) or mail. To pay our fees, please call our office to make payment via credit card or debit card. Checks can be mailed to our office.
If you prefer to file an extension, please let us know and we can schedule a tax appointment for you at a later date.
Since regional and local recommendations are changing on a day-to-day basis we greatly appreciate your flexibility, continued support and shared efforts to help everyone stay safe and healthy. If any other arrangements need to be made, please call our office so we can find alternatives.
Ben Stanton and Staff
****Any tax credit donations made after August 27, 2018 are no longer eligible to be deducted as charitable donations on Schedule A of the 1040 Federal Return. ****NOTE TO TAXPAYER: You must have a tax liability for at least the amount of your donation in order to take a tax credit. In other words, if you only owe $500 to the state of Arizona, you cannot receive $1,000 in tax credits.
****NOTE TO TAXPAYER: You must have a tax liability for at least the amount of your donation in order to take a tax credit. In other words, if you only owe $500 to the state of Arizona, you cannot receive $1,000 in tax credits.
Our 2019 tax organizers will be released the first 2 weeks of January. We have not finalized a date but will update this once we know. You will receive your organizer via the same method as the previous year (email, mail or portal). Additionally, it will be mailed to the same mailing address or email address used for your 2018 tax filing unless you have called our office and recently updated it. If you would prefer to receive it differently please call our office or email us (you can also use the Info Request box at the bottom of this page). Be prepared to verify your identity.
If you would prefer not to receive an organizer in the future, let us know and we will remove you from that delivery.
As we near the end of another year it is time for our annual income tax planning reminder letter. In the last two years we have seen many individual tax changes that may have reduced some deductions, increased others and dramatically changed your tax return. There are still a number of tax planning tools available and in this letter, we will remind you of a few.
Immediate AND long-lasting planning tips:
• The Arizona State Tax Credit program allows you to make a donation to an eligible organization and receive a dollar-for-dollar credit against Arizona state taxes owed. You must have a tax liability for at least the amount of your donation in order to take a tax credit. In other words, if you only owe $500 to the state of Arizona, you cannot receive $1,000 in tax credits. Tax credits can be made up until April 15th 2020 and be applied to the previous tax year (on AZ Tax return only). Remember, any tax credit donations made are no longer eligible to be deducted as charitable donations on Schedule A of the 1040 Federal Return. Please call or email the office for a detailed sheet of contribution amounts. You may also visit our website for the list at www.stantax.net.
• If your employer offers a 401-k plan, America’s #1 tax shelter continues to be deferring the maximum amount the IRS allows to your 401-k this and every year. Because employers are required by law to match a portion of your own deferral, this is a tax deduction with free money!
• The Kaiser Family Foundation reports this year that 41% of American W-2 employees will be covered by a health savings account at work. If your employer does not deposit the maximum amount allowable into this plan, you have until April 15,2020 to add the remaining amount (up to the 2019 maximum) to this, the 2nd best tax planning move of all time.
*Note: Some employers allow you to deposit your health savings account amounts through a cafeteria or 125 plan. If available to you, this is the best way to put your own money in because of the additional tax savings available by avoiding Social Security tax. You are probably too late to do much for this year but make this your 2020 New Year’s resolution.
• Fewer Americans are now able to itemize deductions because of the huge benefit received from the increased standard deduction. That doesn’t mean that you still can’t do anything though. One simple tool to get the best “bang for your buck” would be to practice what we call bunching of charitable contributions. This trick guides you to make charitable contributions every other year so that you double up and get a deduction in some years without giving it up in others. Simply make your 2020 contributions as early as possible in 2020, and then make your 2021 contributions at the very end of 2020 so that you “bunch” all your amounts in one year to potentially get the best itemized deduction amount.
• Because there is no longer any deduction for work related expenses you must carefully read your employer’s handbook to see if they offer a reimbursement program for job-related expenses like licenses, dues, uniforms, supplies, etc.
• If you are considering selling some old stock investments you might want to consider giving them directly to charity and avoiding writing checks to charity because you are able to deduct the full fair market value of the stock you give away in most cases.
• While we are at it, if you are over 70 and ½ and have an IRA you should not be writing checks to charity, instead you should be using the “Direct IRA to charity” tool to avoid tax issues while qualifying for the required distribution rule.
• One of our annual overall planning tools is to advise “debt free at 65”. This life-long goal is a basic element of financial and tax planning that is constantly overlooked in today’s era of 30-year mortgages and cheap re-financing options. With the greatly reduced itemized deduction availability of home mortgages it is more powerful than ever!
• We continue to worry about unreported foreign investments, and we suggest you very carefully consider whether you have control over a foreign checking account or hold stock outside the United States. These must be reported or they essentially face 50% penalties each year.
• Additionally, this year the IRS and Congress have become very concerned about crypto-currency (like Bitcoin) and you must be certain to report any of these transactions-there is even a new question on every tax return asking about it.
• While we are talking about it, remind yourself that your Social Security benefit is based on your highest 35 years of earnings, so taking some time away from the workforce, or aggressively writing off business expenses can really have a long-term negative effect on retirement.
As always we will be sending out our tax organizers around the first and second weeks of January. If you have not received one by late January, please call the office to request one. Because state tax deductions and credits are often totally different than Federal items, we want to remind you to please completely fill out any organizer we provide for your return.
While you are always encouraged to drop off, email or mail in your tax information, if you need to meet with us, please secure your appointment time as early as possible. The last day to schedule this year will be March 31st. All tax appointments will be ½ hour, and will be used to collect information and answer any questions you may have. Please remember that we do not schedule appointments after March 31st and we make no guarantees of an April 15th completion for tax information received after April 1st.
If you are considering retirement, starting a small business, selling an investment or business, or a college savings program we strongly suggest you contact us for a planning meeting for these items, as well as for any of the ideas discussed in this year-end letter.
We would like to wish you and your family a joyous holiday season and happy new year and appreciate your continued business.
Ben D Stanton
Stanton Financial Services