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WHAT'S NEW WITH THE FICA REFUND?

Most recent information issued by the IRS

Check out the memorandum issued by the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis and you'll see that the court found that medical residents and fellows might not be subject to FICA taxes in many instances.

For more information, go to our February, 2001 Newsletter or read through the IRS' Chief Counsel Advice Memorandum on this issue.

 

 

 
November, 2004

RECENT TAX LAW CHANGES

by Andrew D. Schwartz, CPA

Exactly four weeks to the day before the November 2nd presidential election, President Bush signed the Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004 into law.  While these new rules will save American taxpayers an estimated $136 billion in taxes, the primary focus of this act was to extend expiring tax breaks.  How will this recent tax-cut package save you taxes?

  • $130 in your pocket:  Just about everyone who pays taxes will save a little money since the lowest tax bracket was expanded.  For married couples, the 10% bracket, which was scheduled to end at $12,000 for 2005, will instead top off at $14,600.  If you're single, cut these amounts in half - which means you'll save $65 next year.

  • An extra $300 per child:  The tax act reinstated the child tax credit to $1,000.  Previously, this credit for children under the age of 17 was slated to decrease to $700 per child effective January 1, 2005.

  • A little marriage penalty relief:  Thanks to this Tax Act, the standard deduction of a married couple will continue to be double that of a single individual.  Same for the 15% tax bracket.  These two tax breaks save non-itemizers $920, assuming they're in the 25% tax bracket

  • The teacher tax break:  Teachers, aides, principals, and counselors of kindergarten through 12th grade can continue to claim up to $250 in school supplies as an "above the line" deduction for two more years.  Originally, this tax break ended on December 31, 2003.

  • The anti-Hummer deduction:  Intrigued by those hybrid vehicles?  The "clean-fuel" deduction available to people who purchase hybrids will remain at $2,000 through 2005.  Prior to this tax-cut package, the clean-fuel deduction was slated to be $1,500 in 2004 and $1,000 in 2005.

  • A little AMT help:  To help some people avoid the Alternative Minimum Tax, the allowable exemption was increased from $45,000 to $58,000 for married couples and from $33,750 to $40,250 for single taxpayers.

Wondering what ever happened to the concept of tax simplification? Don't forget that all the tax rules are on track to sunset in 2010 back to the pre-2001 tax code.

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SOCIAL SECURITY MAX INCREASES TO $90,000 FOR 2005

by Andrew D. Schwartz, CPA

Each year, the government increases the maximum social security taxes that you can pay. According to the Social Security Administration, the maximum wage base for 2005 will be $90,000, an increase of $2,100 from the 2004 max of $87,900. At a rate of 6.2%, the total social security taxes that your employer will withhold from your salary increases from $5,449.80 in 2004 to $5,580.00 in 2005.

In addition, every employee has Medicare taxes withheld from their pay at a rate of 1.45%. There is no limit on your wages subject to this tax.

Do You Work For More Than One Employer and Earn More Than $87,900?

For 2004, each of your employers will withhold social security taxes from the first $87,900 that you earn from them.  At a rate of 6.2%, this translates into total social security taxes of $5,449.80. There are situations when you might have more than the maximum of $5,449.80 withheld during the course of the year.

Since employers are required to withhold social security taxes on the first $87,900 earned by each of their employees (this allows the government to keep the employer's matching contributions), if you work for more than one employer and earn more than $87,900 during 2004, you'll have excess social security taxes withheld. Make sure to take credit for these excess taxes on your 1040 as additional federal taxes paid in.

For Example:

Let's say you work for two employers and earn $75,000 from each employer. Employer #1 will withhold $4,650 in social security taxes ($75,000 * 6.2%). Employer #2 will also withhold $4,650 in social security taxes - for a total of $9,300 in social security taxes withheld during the year. Since the maximum social security taxes that you should pay through payroll withholdings for 2004 is limited to $5,449.80, the excess of $3,850.20 counts as additional federal income taxes paid in by you.

A) Social security taxes withheld by Employer #1

$4,650.00

B) Social security taxes withheld by Employer #2

$4,650.00

C) Total social security taxes withheld during the year (A+B)

$9,300.00

D) Social security max for 2004

$5,449.80

E) Excess social security taxes withheld (C-D)

$3,850.20

 
 
Calculating the self-employment tax:

Self-employed individuals are subject to social security and Medicare taxes as well. These two taxes are reported as part of an additional tax known as the "self-employment tax". Self-employment taxes are calculated on a Schedule SE and are reported as an additional tax on page 2 of the Form 1040.

The self-employment tax is based on a social security tax rate of 12.4% and a Medicare tax rate of 2.9%. These rates are double those paid by employees since a self-employed person must pay both the employee's portion and the employer's portion of both taxes.

If you earn income as an employee and as an independent contractor, and your combined income exceeds $87,900 in 2004, make sure to complete Section B of the Schedule SE. Otherwise, your tax calculation will be incorrect and too much self-employment taxes will be remitted.

www.ssa.gov

A great place to find out more about your social security taxes and projected benefits is at the Social Security Administration's website located at www.ssa.gov.

 

FYI: The social security wage base has been increased each year. The wage base maximum has been increased as follows:

2005 wage base max: $90,000
2004 wage base max: $87,900
2003 wage base max: $87,000
2002 wage base max: $84,900
2001 wage base max: $80,400
2000 wage base max: $76,200
1999 wage base max: $72,600
1998 wage base max: $68,400
1997 wage base max: $65,400
1996 wage base max: $62,700
1995 wage base max: $61,200
1994 wage base max: $60,600

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TAX AND FINANCIAL PLANNING CALENDAR FOR NOVEMBER, 2004

Month

Income Taxes

Saving and Investing

 

 

 

November

  • Good time to make semi-annual donation of clothing and household items to charitable organizations

  • Need to make applicable elections in connection with employer's flexible spending account

  • Contact an MDTAXES CPA to discuss any year end tax planning questions or strategies

  • Someone making $100,000 per year will go over the social security max of $87,900 this month

  • Determine whether to convert your IRAs to a Roth IRA if your income will be less than $100,000 this year

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2004 & 2005 TAX FACTS

  • For 2004 the standard deduction for a single individual is $4,850 and for a married couple is $9,700. A person will benefit by itemizing once allowable deductions exceed the applicable standard deduction. Itemized deductions include state and local income taxes, real estate taxes, mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and unreimbursed employee business expenses. Our March, 1998 newsletter addressed the issue of itemizing your deductions.
  • For 2004, the personal exemption is $3,100. Individuals will claim a personal deduction for themselves, their spouse, and their dependents. 
  • The maximum earnings subject to social security taxes will be $90,000 for 2005 up from $87,900 in 2004.
  • The standard mileage rate is $.375 per mile for 2004. Deducting automobile expenses was addressed in our March, 1996 newsletter .
  • The maximum annual contribution to a 401(k) plan or a 403(b) plan is $13,000 for 2004.  And if you'll be 50 or older by December 31, 2004, you can contribute an extra $3,000 into your 401(k) or 403(b) account this year.  For 2005, you can contribute $14,000 ($18,000 if 50 or older) into your 401(k) or 403(b) account at work.
  • The maximum annual contribution to your IRA is $3,000 for 2004.  And once you turn 50, you can contribute an extra $500 into your IRA this year.  For 2005, you can contribute up to $4,000 ($4,500 if 50 or older) into your IRA.

TOP

copyright - 2004 - The MDTAXES Network

 


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Tax and financial planning calendar for November, 2004


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GOT STUDENT LOANS?

Here are some revelations for people in student loan nation:

  • Consolidation before grace period expiration

  • Notification of your relocation

  • Rehabilitation before consolidation

We're pleased to have a student loan counselor available on staff.

If you have questions about your loan portfolio, or want to find out more about the services we provide, please call (800) 471-0045 or e-mail us at studentloans@mdtaxes.com


 




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