FindAGoodCPA.com - Not a healthcare professional? Find a CPA or EA who understands the tax issues specific to you.
IRS Web Site - for tax forms, publications, and general tax information.
MONTHLY TAX NEWSLETTERJuly 2007
For the second time in just two years, the Kiddie Tax, introduced as part of the massive Tax Reform Act of 1986, was made even broader. Prior to 2006, any unearned income above a certain threshold earned by a child under the age of 14 was taxed at the parent's tax rate.
In 2006, the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2006 expanded the Kiddie Tax to include children 17 or younger who earn more than $1,700 (in 2007) in interest, dividends, capital gains, and other non-wage income.
This year, as part of the
Small Business and Work Opportunity Tax Act signed into law on May 25th,
the Kiddie Tax was bumped up to age 18, and up to age 23 for
children who are full time students, except for these children whose earned income
exceeds more than half of that year’s support, effective 2008.
Understanding how your child will be taxed is very important when determining how to best save money for their college education. Unfortunately, parents who managed to build up a college savings nest egg in their children's names can expect to be hit with higher tax bills when liquidating those investment to pay for college.
Here's how the Kiddie Tax will work starting in 2008. The first $850 (based on the 2007 brackets) of net investment income earned by a child isn't taxed, and the next $850 is taxed at a rate of either 5% or 10%, depending on the type of income earned. Any additional income is taxed based on the child's age as follows:
Saving For College Under the New Rules
Now that the Kiddie Tax applies to children through age 23, it makes even more sense for parents to consider saving for a child's college education either in their own name or within a 529 Plan or Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA). Don't forget that the Pension Protection Act of 2006 made tax-free distributions from 529 plans permanent.Besides the fact that you no longer save much taxes by putting your family's college savings in your child's name, you'll avoid some other pitfalls as well, including:
The Six Month Solution
Nothing ruins good financial planning as quickly as a change to the income tax code. So what steps should you take in light of these new rules?
If your child is young, take a long look at 529 plans. The government really designed a great way to save for your child's education. And it's tough to beat the fact that 529 plans provide you with tax-free growth.
What if your children are older, and you have already saved a bunch of money in their names earmarked for their college education? Since the new Kiddie Tax rules don't take effect until tax years starting after May 25, 2007, you have the next six months, until December 31, 2007, to minimize your family's tax bite.
Consider selling enough of your child's investments to take advantage of the reduced tax rates available this year only to children who are 18 or older by December 31st. For 2007, the tax rate on the first $31,850 of long-term capital gains is just 5%, provided your child has no other income.
Then, determine if it makes sense to take the money and open a UGMA 529 plan. Since these plans are considered your child's money, they are significantly less flexible than the standard 529 plan. Even so, this strategy will allow your child's college money to grow tax-free from this point forward.
Reversal of Fortune For College Savings
How people save for a child's college education has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Prior to the introduction of the Kiddie Tax twenty years ago, saving for college in a child's name was very common.
These days, with the broader Kiddie Tax rules, the increased popularity of 529 Plans, and the current financial aid formulas, the trend is now for parents to build up a college savings nest egg in their own names.
In today's tax code, not all losses are created equally. Whenever you're engaged in a part-time business, it's important to understand the "hobby loss" rules.
Get this. If you make money from a hobby, expect to pay income taxes on those profits. Even so, if you show a loss, you're generally not allowed to claim that loss on your tax return.
Three Out Of Five Years
How can you tell if an activity is a hobby or has a profit motive? The litmus test is pretty simple. If your activity is profitable for three or more years during the five year period ending with the current tax year, then the activity is NOT a hobby.
Nine Factors To Distinguish A Hobby Versus Profit Motive
Like most provisions in the tax code, there are exceptions to the three-out-of-five-year hobby loss test. The IRS regulations include the following nine factors to help you determine whether an activity has a profit motive or should be classified as a hobby.
Pitfalls of a Hobby
How costly is it to you if an activity is classified as a hobby? For starters, you're not allowed to claim your hobby losses on your tax return. So even if you truly lose money from the activity, you don't get any tax break.
Plus, unlike most other types of losses, you aren't allowed to carry your hobby losses forward to subsequent years to offset future profits from this activity.
When you're engaged in a hobby, the way you claim your allowable expenses creates a variety of tax headaches.
Instead of reporting your hobby income and the allowable expenses on the same form such as a Schedule C, you're required to report your hobby income as "Other Income" on Line 21 of your 1040. You then include the offsetting expenses with your other Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions such as investment fees, tax prep fees, and unreimbursed employee business expenses on the Schedule A.
Here's the problem with Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions. First off, they are only deductible to the extent they exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income and then, will only benefit you if you're able to itemize your deductions. To make matters worse, miscellaneous itemized deductions are excluded when calculating the Alternative Minimum Tax. So chances are that one way or another, you'll lose out on the bulk of your hobby expenses.
The way you report your hobby income and expenses on your tax return causes additional tax problems as well. Since you're reporting the activity's gross income as Other Income, you end up increasing your Adjusted Gross Income, increasing the chances of your losing out on a variety of tax breaks including personal exemptions, child tax credit, education credits, student loan interest deduction, and Roth IRA eligibility.
No Self-Employment Tax
There is a silver lining for people who are profiting from their hobby. Unlike most other self-employed ventures, income from this activity is not subject to self-employment taxes.
Delay a Decision
Not sure if you should treat an activity as a hobby or business? Believe it or not, the IRS has a tax form for this. You're allowed to postpone determination whether an activity should be considered a hobby by filing a Form 5213.
copyright - 2007 - CPANiche, LLC
|Copyright 2007 The MDTAXES Network by CPANiche, LLC Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org|