Frequently Asked Questions

Question: I own or just purchased a new home.
What can I deduct on my tax return?

Answer: The most common deductions are as follows:

  • Mortgage Interest. This includes interest
    paid on a first or second mortgage. You should receive a Form 1098 Interest
    Statement from each mortgage company
    that you deal with. Important: If you move or if your mortgage is sold or transferred, make sure that you have a Form 1098 Interest Statement for each company that you had a loan with for any part of the year.
  • Mortgage Points. You can deduct mortgage points paid when buying a new home. You can deduct these points regardless of whether they are paid by you or the seller.
  • Real Estate Tax. You can deduct Real Estate Taxes paid on your home. If you have an escrow account with your mortgage company, then the amount of your Real Estate Taxes paid will be on your Form 1098 Interest Statement received from the mortgage company.
  • State Tax. You can deduct state taxes paid during the year. This includes the following: tax withheld on your W2 form, estimated taxes paid during the year, and previous year taxes paid during the year. Please note that Federal Taxes are not deductible.
  • Property Taxes. Some states impose a tax on automobiles and other personal property. If the tax is based on the value of the property, then it is deductible.
  • Other Taxes. This includes other miscellaneous taxes such as SDI which some states require employees to pay.
  • Contributions by Cash and Check. You can deduct contributions you make to charities such as church and non-profit organizations.
  • Contributions other than Cash. These include such items as clothes, appliances and furniture which are donated to licensed organizations such as The Salvation Army and Goodwill.

Question: I own a business. Should I buy a car or lease a car?

Answer: For some reason, people believe that leasing a car makes the car more deductible than if the car is purchased. This is not the case. In fact, you almost always pay more money for the car in the long run if you lease it rather than if you buy it. The only time that leasing makes sense for tax purposes is if it involves a very expensive car and you put very little miles on the car. If the car is inexpensive or you use it heavily, then purchasing the car is definitely the better way to go.

Question: What is the difference between an employee and an independent contractor?

Answer: The IRS does not allow you to choose whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. There are certain guidelines that dictate the status of a worker. There is a questionnaire that the IRS provides that they look at to determine a worker's status.

Employees usually have the following characteristics:

  • They work fixed hours set by their employer.
  • They are supervised on a day-to-day basis.
  • They are told how to do their work as well as what work to perform.
  • They use equipment owned by their employer.
  • Their expenses are usually reimbursed by their employer.
  • They have taxes withheld from their pay each period.
  • They receive a W2 Form at the end of the year.

Independent Contractors usually have the following characteristics:

  • They make up their own hours.
  • They are not supervised. The client is only interested in the finished product.
  • They are not told how to perform their work.
  • They provide their own equipment and pay their own expenses.
  • They usually do not have taxes withheld out of their checks.
  • They are not necessarily paid on a periodic basic.
  • Some independent contractors must invoice their client before they get paid.

Question: I moved this year. Can I deduct my moving expenses?

Answer: In general, out-of-town relocations are usually deductible. In-town moves usually are not.

In order to deduct moving expenses, you must switch jobs. The new job must be 50 miles further from the old home than the old job was from the old home.

If you are out of work or if you just graduated from school and relocate out-of-town to take a job, the relocation will usually be deductible as long as it is at least 50 miles.

You can also relocate and then find a new job and deduct the moving expenses. In fact, you can deduct the moving expenses as long as you are actively looking for a job even if it takes you a while to find one.

For purposes of the moving expense deduction, if you relocate and start a new business, then that will be considered your new job.

Question: I just bought a house. Can I deduct the closing costs?

Answer: Certain closing costs, such as mortgage points, are deductible regardless of whether they are paid by the buyer or seller. After closing on a house, you will receive a Hud-1 Settlement Statement (also know as a closing statement). On page 2, lines 801 and 802 (Loan Origination Fees and Loan Discount Fees), if any amount appears on either of these lines in either column, then you can deduct them. Other closing costs, such as transfer taxes and title insurance, are not deductible in the current tax year but are added to the basis of the house.

Question: I sold my house and made a profit. Will I have to pay tax on my profit?

Answer: In most cases, no. If you live in your house for at least two years during the most recent five year period before selling it, then the gain will be tax free up to $250,000 for single people and up to $500,000 for married people.

Question: I filed my taxes late but I am due a refund. Will I be penalized?

Answer: No. You will not be penalized for filing your taxes late as long as you don't owe any money. However, please be aware that you must file your tax return within three years of the due date (including extensions) in order to claim a refund. If not filed within this deadline, then the refund will be forfeited.

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