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Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Support Hours

Holiday Support Hours
Customer Care closes at 2:00 p.m. EST Wednesday December 24, 2014 and reopens at 8:00 a.m. EST, Monday, December 29, 2014. 
We are closed January 1, 2015.


Current support hours are 8:00 a.m.—6:00 p.m. EST weekdays. 
In mid-January, we will add Saturday hours 9:00 a.m.—6:00 p.m. EST and we will extend weekday hours to 8:00 a.m.—8:00 p.m.EST. 
When tax season e-file begins for individual filing, we will extend weekday hours to 8:00AM—10:00PM. 

For the latest support hours, please refer to this support page here>>

2014 Tax Legislation

This particular blog post will be updated as we learn more about tax legislation and the extender provisions. 

Posted 12-22-2014 (Individual and business efile start dates have not yet been announced) 
The IRS will be evaluating the impact of the legislation to forms, instructions, and the start of tax season.  As soon as we have guidance from the IRS, we will be sure to let our customers know the timeline. There is no published start date for efile yet. 

Within our tax software, we anticipated the passage of the extenders and approached implementation with that expectation, so significant changes are not expected to the software. However, we will be modifying the compliance modules for the extenders as well as any forms and instruction changes that come down from the IRS as quickly as possible. 

We will focus on implementing changes as we receive guidance; ensuring our customers are prepared for the start of season is our number one priority.


Obama Signs Tax Extenders/ABLE Act Legislation,(Dec. 22, 2014)

President Obama on December 19 signed into law the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (HR 5771), which temporarily extends over 50 expired incentives for individuals, businesses and energy through 2014. The law also creates Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts set up for the benefit of persons with disabilities.

Extenders

Included in the legislation are the state and local sales tax deduction, IRA distributions to charity, the above-the-line deduction for higher education tuition and fees, the teachers’ classroom expense deduction, and the exclusion for discharges of principal residence indebtedness, among others. For businesses, the extended provisions include, among others, the research tax credit, 50-percent bonus depreciation, Code Sec. 179 expensing, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and 15-year amortization of leasehold/retail improvements and restaurant property.

ABLE Act

The new law allows states to establish an ABLE program, similar to Code Sec. 529 accounts. These ABLE accounts benefit individuals with disabilities and would be used for qualified expenses. Individuals would be limited to one ABLE account, and total annual contributions by all individuals to any one ABLE account would be made up to the gift tax exclusion amount.

By Jeff Carlson, CCH News Staf


Renewal of Extenders Opens Year-End Planning Opportunities,(Dec. 18, 2014)

Just before adjourning on December 16, the Senate approved the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (HR 5771), which the House had previously passed on December 4 (TAXDAY, 2014/12/17, C.1). The Act extends the individual, business and energy tax extenders for one year; that is, retroactive to January 1, 2014. Although the extenders package is not a two-year extension—or a permanent extension—the Act does provide certainty for 2014.

The extension drew applause from many businesses as well concern about the future of the extenders. "Tax extenders provide an important bridge of predictability for manufacturers until Congress can act on comprehensive tax reform," Dorothy Coleman, vice president of tax and domestic economic policy, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), said after the Senate vote.

"A one-year, retroactive extension of the energy efficiency incentives is simply not enough," Kateri Callahan, president, Alliance to Save Energy, said. "Passage of the tax extenders bill is a welcome relief to farmers as we close our books on 2014," Wade Cowan, president, American Soybean Association, said. "While it’s not the long-term fix we need, the legislation does include the expensing under Section 179, and bonus depreciation," Cowan added.

State and Local Sales Tax Deduction

The state and local sales tax deduction is extended one year, through 2014. For taxpayers in states without an income tax, the provision enables them, if they itemized their deductions, to claim their state and local general sales taxes in lieu of itemizing state and local income taxes. Taxpayers in other states who have purchased a big-ticket item in 2014, or are considering such a purchase before year-end, should weigh the value of claiming the state and local sales taxes instead of claiming state and local income taxes. A decision to opt for the sales tax deduction does not need to be made until a taxpayer’s 2014 tax –year return is filed.

Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction

The above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses is extended for one year through 2014. The maximum deduction is $4,000 for single individuals with adjusted gross income (AGI) not exceeding $65,000 ($130,000 for married couples filing a joint return), $2,000 for single individuals with AGI $65,000-$80,000 ($130,000-$160,000 for married couples filing a joint return) and $0 for other taxpayers. Under the regulations, expenses paid by year-end for an academic term starting on or before March 31 of the following year qualify for the deduction in the year paid.

Teachers’ Classroom Expense Deduction

The above-the-line deduction for eligible educator expenses is extended one year through 2014. Out-of-pocket costs for certain materials and supplies may be deductible. The deduction is not limited to teachers but may be claimed as well by a kindergarten through grade 12 instructor, counselor, principal or aide who works at least 900 hours during a school year. The deduction is reduced by any reimbursements from the taxpayer’s employer.

Tax-Free Distributions from IRAs for Charitable Purposes

The exclusion from gross income of qualified charitable distributions for individuals age 70-1/2 and older is extended one year through 2014. Eligible individuals who are contemplating a gift to a charitable organization or gifts to multiple organizations before year-end should consider using IRA dollars if appropriate to their situation. A qualified charitable distribution also counts toward satisfying a taxpayer’s required minimum distributions from a traditional IRA. The total amount of all qualified charitable distributions from all of the taxpayer’s IRAs cannot exceed $100,000 for the tax year ($100,000 for each spouse on a jointly filed return). The distribution must be made directly by the IRA trustee to the charitable organization and completed within the 2014 tax year to qualify under the extension.

Code Sec. 25C Credit

The Code Sec. 25C nonbusiness energy property credit is extended one year through 2014. Taxpayers considering energy efficient improvements to their principal residence may want to act before year-end to take advantage of the Code Sec. 25C credit. For purposes of the Code Sec. 25C credit, qualifying improvements include adding insulation, energy-efficient exterior windows and doors and certain roofs as well as certain high-efficiency heating and air conditioning systems, water heaters and stoves that burn biomass fuel. The credit is 10 percent of the cost of qualified energy-efficient improvements, up to $500. The credit has a lifetime limit of $500, of which only $200 may be used for windows. A taxpayer may not claim the credits until the year the property is installed, even if the expense is actually paid or incurred in a prior year.

Bonus depreciation

The Code Sec. 168(k) 50-percent depreciation allowance is extended for one year to apply to qualifying property placed in service before January 1, 2015 (or before January 1, 2016, in the case of property with a longer production period and certain noncommercial aircraft). Businesses of all sizes may take advantage of 50-percent bonus depreciation for qualified new property. Original use of the property must begin with the taxpayer and satisfy other requirements. An asset is placed in service (for purposes of computing depreciation) on the date that it is in a condition or state of readiness for a specifically assigned function in a trade or business or the production of income. This is not necessarily the date of acquisition.

Code Sec. 179 Expensing

The Code Sec. 179 dollar and investment limitations are significantly increased by the extenders package for tax years beginning in 2014. Before year-end, taxpayers should weigh the value of electing to treat the cost of qualifying property used in the active conduct of a trade or business as an expense rather than a capital expenditure. The extenders package also extends through 2014 the qualified real property allowance and computer software deduction through 2014. Up to $250,000 of qualified real property may be treated as Code Sec. 179 property.

Leasehold, Retail Restaurant Property

The 15-year recovery period for qualified leasehold and retail improvement property and qualified restaurant property is extended one year to apply to property placed in service before January 1, 2015. The provision allows remodel costs to be capitalized and written off over a 15-year period (rather than a 39-year period).

By George Jones and George L. Yaksick, Jr., CCH News Staff

Customer Care Phone Menu Prompts- revised to better route you to the appropriate agent

Updated Customer Care Phone Menu
    We have revised our Customer Care phone menu to better route you to the appropriate agent group. You will have six choices on the main menu as follows below.
    Please press:
    1. For Individual returns and software functionality related to the 1040 series returns
    2. For business returns and software functionality related to the 1041, 1065, 1120 series, 990 series, 706, 709 and 5500 returns
    3. For W2, 1099, 940 or 941 returns and software functionality
    4. For any online (cloud-based) program or tool (includes TaxWise Online, InterviewPLUS, the support site, IntelliConnect research, iFirm, PortalSafe and COM
    5. For Accounting, Trial Balance or Practice Management software functionality
    6. For PaperlessPLUS software functionality
    Our Spanish-speaking customers have the option to press 9 for TaxWise tax product support.
    From the main menu, you have the choice to press 0 to connect with a general agent.
    From the automated e-file tool, you have the option to connect with an agent if necessary.


    Friday, December 19, 2014

    Installation- .NET Framework 4.5.2 installs first, then TaxWise software

    When you begin the TaxWise 2014 installation process, the install will first check for the .NET Framework version on your system.
    You will see a box like this below if you do not already have .NET 4.5.2 version installed, and TW will install this for you.
    This .Net portion of the installation could take 5-10 minutes; do not stop the installation.
    You are then prompted to reboot, at which time the TaxWise software will begin installation.

    Most of you will see a two-step install process that could prompt you to reboot once or likely twice in that process.

    Once installation is complete, start TaxWise and you will go thru the Setup Assistant tasks to register, carryforward settings and returns, and setup your default information.

    Business E-File Shutdown/Cutover Dec 23rd at 5pm EST

    IRS Business E-File Shutdown/Cutover Schedule

    December 23, 2014 — At 5:00PM EST, Wolters Kluwer CCH Small Firm Services will stop sending business e-files to the IRS and agencies. This allows ample time for state return processing and ack retrieval.

    December 24, 2014 — We will continue requesting acks from IRS until close of business (2:00PM EST) Wednesday, December 24th and making those available to our customers. 

    Acks not retrieved by the ERO are unavailable for retrieval from 2:00PM EST December 24th until e-file opens again in 2015


    The IRS officially shuts down e-file at 1:30PM Friday, December 26, 2014 (this includes 2013, 2012, 2011 e-files); We stop sending to IRS Dec 23rd at 5pm EST



    Business e-files will reopen January/February 2015 (IRS official start date has not been announced) — this will include 2014, 2013 and 2012 e-files. 2011 efile will have ended at 5pm Dec 23rd. 

    Thursday, December 18, 2014

    Take the ACA Challenge: Is there a penalty, and who pays it? Take our open book pop quiz, and register for the 12/23 webinar

    Open Book Pop Quiz

    You may use your ACA Book or online research in the Health Care Reform Library to find the answer.

    Question
    Helen is a college student who lives with her father during the year. She is covered by his health insurance as long as she is a full-time student, but when she graduates on May 23, she is dropped from his policy. For several months, she works part-time and temporary jobs that do not offer health insurance, and she does not obtain her own insurance. On October 5, she starts working full-time and obtains insurance through her new employer. Helen was uninsured from June through September. 

    Is there a penalty, and who pays it? Click for answer.

     

    Learn the Essential Elements of the Complex ACA Individual and Employer Mandates

    Only 5 days left to register!
    Affordable Care Act - Understanding the Individual & Employer Mandates
    December 23, 2014 at 1:00PM EST
    Register Now



    If you weren't prepared for our quiz, get your book or research online in our Health Care Reform Library now.

    TheTaxBook will be shipping soon!

    TheTaxBook will be shipping soon! 

    When it arrives, be sure to check out our customized first page.  In the spirit of a quick reference guide, we have created this page to provide you with quick reference to information on ACA, tax compliance, as well as ATX and TaxWise help and training resources.


    We hope you find this useful this upcoming tax season!



    TheTaxBook: Saving time, especially during tax season, is important! TheTaxBook provides a concise, easy-to-understand topical summary of key tax laws and rules for tax preparation. Round-out your tax research library with these reference guides in a tabbed fast-answer format together with the Master Tax Guide for a more detailed analysis.

    Content includes the entire 1040 Edition plus C Corporations, S Corporations, Partnerships, Estates, Trusts, and more.

    TaxWise Education Video Library- available now

    We are pleased to announce the launch of our TaxWise Education Video Library, featuring short instructional videos, designed to help you work with your tax preparation software. 
    Between now and the end of January 2015, each video will guide you step-by-step through important program features and topics to help you prepare for the 2014 tax season.
    This week, the first 2 lessons available in the TaxWise Education Video Library are:
    ·         Setup Assistant – This lesson shows how to use the Setup Assistant to better streamline your office setup. The video and fact sheet will help you transition to this new setup process more smoothly.
    ·         Bank Modules – There are several banking options available that work side-by-side with TaxWise 2014. This video and documentation review the banking options as well as a review on how to download the bank modules from the TaxWise Solution Center.

    Access the TaxWise Education Video Library here >>

    Pay-Per-Return (PPR) orders begin early January

    The PPR system (which allows the purchasing of returns or states one at a time) will be activated with the January efile update to the software. This is planned for the week of January 5th.

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    Support Site reports offline Dec 19-Jan 12

    The reports that are available to you on the support site will be offline December 19th through January 12th, as we prepare for tax season 2014.

    We support current year plus two years back, so when the report system comes back online in January, you will have access to 2014, 2013, and 2012 reports.

    2011 reports will no longer be accessible after Monday December 19th.