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2019 Standard Mileage Rates

2019 Standard Mileage Rates

The new standard mileage rate for 2019 have just been announced as 58 cents per mile. This is an increase from the 2018 rate of 54.5 cents per mile. The standard mileage rate is used to calculate the amount of deductible costs for business use of an automobile including a car, van, pickup truck, or panel truck. This deduction is typically taken on a Schedule C for business owners, Schedule F for farmers, or Schedule A as miscellaneous itemized deductions, for employees.

Due to the changes implemented for the years 2018-2025 by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act this rate can no longer be used to calculate business automobile expenses that are considered miscellaneous itemized deductions on a Schedule A.

There is a set rate of 14 cents per mile for use of an automobile in performing a service to charity. This deduction, if taken, should be included in the charitable deductions total on Schedule A.

Another change implemented by the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act that affects automobile deductions is the termination of moving expense deductions for individuals. For the years 2018-2025 this deduction is only applicable to active duty members of the armed forces that meet specified requirements, the rate for these expenses being 20 cents per mile.

For more information on the new standard mileage rates for 2019 please visit the IRS website.

Prepay Property Taxes and State/Local Income Taxes

Prepay Property Taxes and State/Local Income Taxes

With the passing of the new tax reform act, it makes sense to prepay 2018 property taxes as well as state and local income taxes by 12/31/17. This would allow the tax deduction to be taken on the 2017 tax return, as compared to the chance of not benefiting from the deduction on the 2018 return. The tax bill puts a $10,000 cap on the amount of property taxes and state and local income taxes that can be deducted on the return.

2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

The Senate version of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act appears to be very small business friendly. We support the passage of the bill as it is presented today.

IRS Warns of Christmas Email Phishing Scams

IRS Warns of Christmas Email Phishing Scams

With the approach of the holidays and the 2018 filing season, the IRS, state tax agencies and the nation’s tax industry are urging Americans to be on the lookout for new, sophisticated email phishing scams that could endanger their personal information and next year’s tax refund.

The most common way for cybercriminals to steal bank account information, passwords, credit cards or Social Security numbers is to simply ask for them. Every day, people fall victim to phishing scams that cost them their time and their money.

Those emails urgently warning users to update their online financial accounts – they’re fake. That email directing users to download a document from a cloud-storage provider? Fake. Those other emails suggesting the recipients have a $64 tax refund waiting at the IRS or that the IRS needs information about insurance policies – also fake. So are many new and evolving variations of these schemes.

The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax community — partners in the Security Summit — are marking “National Tax Security Awareness Week” with a series of reminders to taxpayers and tax professionals. In part two, the topic is avoiding phishing scams.

Phishing attacks use email or malicious websites to solicit personal, tax or financial information by posing as a trustworthy organization. Often, recipients are fooled into believing the phishing communication is from someone they trust. A scam artist may take advantage of knowledge gained from online research and earlier attempts to masquerade as a legitimate source, including presenting the look and feel of authentic communications, such as using an official logo. These targeted messages can trick even the most cautious person into taking action that may compromise sensitive data. The scams may contain emails with hyperlinks that take users to a fake site. Other versions contain PDF attachments that may download malware or viruses.

Some phishing emails will appear to come from a business colleague, friend or relative. These emails might be an email account compromise. Criminals may have compromised your friend’s email account and begin using their email contacts to send phishing emails.

Not all phishing attempts are emails – some are phone scams. One of the most common phone scams is the caller pretending to be from the IRS and threatening the taxpayer with a lawsuit or with arrest if payment is not made immediately, usually through a debit card.

Phishing attacks, especially online phishing scams, are popular with criminals because there is no fool-proof technology to defend against them. Users are the main defense. When users see a phishing scam, they should ensure they don’t take the bait.

Here are a few steps to take:

  • Be vigilant; be skeptical. Never open a link or attachment from an unknown or suspicious source. Even if the email is from a known source, approach with caution. Cybercrooks are adept at mimicking trusted businesses, friends and family. Thieves may have compromised a friend’s email address or they may be spoofing the address with a slight change in text, such as name@example.com vs narne@example.com. In the latter, merely changing the “m” to an “r” and “n” can trick people.
  • Remember, the IRS doesn’t initiate spontaneous contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes text messages and social media channels. The IRS does not call taxpayers with threats of lawsuits or arrests. No legitimate business or organization will ask for sensitive financial information via email. When in doubt, don’t use hyperlinks and go directly to the source’s main web page.
  • Use security software to protect against malware and viruses. Some security software can help identity suspicious websites that are used by cybercriminals.
  • Use strong passwords to protect online accounts. Each account should have a unique password. Use a password manager if necessary. Criminals count on people using the same password repeatedly, giving crooks access to multiple accounts if they steal a password. Experts recommend a password have a minimum of 10 digits, including letters, numbers and special characters. Longer is better.
  • Use multi-factor authentication when offered. Some online financial institutions, email providers and social media sites offer multi-factor protection for customers. Two-factor authentication means that in addition to entering your username and password, you must enter a security code generally sent as a text to your mobile phone. Even if a thief manages to steal usernames and passwords, it’s unlikely the crook would also have a victim’s phone.

The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry are working together to fight against tax-related identity theft and to protect taxpayers. Everyone can help. Visit the “Taxes. Security. Together.” awareness campaign or review IRS Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers

Fake Financial News Affecting Decision Making

Fake Financial News Affecting Decision Making

A new survey reveals fake financial news is affecting Americans’ ability to make retirement, investment and health care decisions. Even worse, Americans feel that fake news will be more prevalent in the future. The AICPA National CPA Financial Literacy Commission has tips to help keep Americans from falling into the fake news trap.

 

Read the full story here.