COVID-19 Relief: What You Should Do Next

We understand you have been impacted by the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and we are here to help. Information is changing daily and clear guidance won’t be available until late April or possibly later this summer, nevertheless, the time to act is NOW.

Economic Impact Payment (stimulus checks)

  • Eligibility: AGI $75,000 Individuals/$150,000 Married Couples with phaseouts up to $99,000/$198,000 respectively
  • Amount: $1,200 Individuals/$2,400 Married Couples and $500 per qualifying child subject to income limitations, noted above
  • Method of payment: For those of you who utilized direct deposit for 2018 or 2019 tax refunds, expect direct deposit; all others will receive a check or utilize a forthcoming tool to enter your banking information
  • Those who have not filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return: Don’t worry, the IRS either has your information based on Social Security records or will develop a tool to request your economic impact payment
  • What you should do: Nothing if, you have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return
  • Calculator: click the link to see how much you can expect to receive

Unemployment Benefits (Michigan clients only)

  • Impacted employees have 28 days from the date of their work stoppage to apply
  • Benefits have been extended to 39 weeks
  • 1099 workers, gig workers and self-employees workers are now eligible
  • If you are eligible, apply NOW

Employer Tax Credits

  • Paid sick leave refundable credit
  • Paid family leave refundable credit
  • Employee Retention Credit
    • To qualify:
      • The employer’s business is fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID-19 during the calendar quarter; or
      • The employer’s gross receipts are below 50% of the comparable quarter in 2019
      • Once the employer’s gross receipts go above 80% of a comparable quarter in 2019, the employer no longer qualifies after the end of that quarter.
    • The amount of the credit is 50% of qualifying wages paid up to $10,000 in total.
    • Wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before Jan. 1, 2021, are eligible for the credit.
    • Wages also include a portion of the cost of employer-provided health care.

Payroll Protection Program (contact your current lender immediately)

  • You have to apply through an approved SBA 7(a) lender
  • Eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million, determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll, plus an additional 25% of that amount.
  • Loan payments will be deferred for six months.
  • If you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination.
  • Provides funds for 8 weeks of payroll costs, benefits, mortgages, rent and utilities
  • Fully forgiven if used for appropriate expenses
  • Keep in mind you will have to keep applicable documentation to have this loan forgiven

Economic Injury Disaster Loan

  • Apply online directly with the Small Business Administration
  • Small business owners in all of the U.S. and territories are currently eligible to apply for a low-interest loan due to COVID-19
  • Option for a $10,000 loan advance, with the possibility of the loan turning into a grant

Even as we help clients with the items discussed above, we continue to work diligently on preparing tax returns. There has been an influx of questions and phone calls due to uncertainty and economic programs available, but we remain dedicated in assisting all clients with their needs, even while working remotely to protect our staff, families and the health of our clients. We are still and will continue to work around the clock to assist everyone in need – we will get through this together and have no intent on having the current crisis impact our quality and focus on professional service.

Please feel free to contact us at (248) 934-0550 if you would like to learn more about the services we offer for our clients. We are here to help.

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Working from Home: Ten Tips on Productivity

At one point or another in our careers, we’ve all found ourselves needing to work remote. For some it’s indefinite, others temporary. However, working from home can often times be a challenge when you’re accustomed to the accessibility of resources that an office setting can provide. It’s no surprise that being “at work” offers routine, higher productivity and accountability within a team.  

Enter COVID-19. You are now working remote daily, potentially with kids home from school and typical day to day routine is a thing of the past. What can you do to better the situation, for you, your work and your family as social distancing and self-quarantine become a reality? 

How to (Productively) Work from Home: 

  • Structure your day like you would the office 
  • Don’t work in your PJ’s 
  • Choose a work space 
  • Create a definitive schedule with a start and end time, inclusive of a break 
  • Plan what you’ll be working on ahead of time 
  • Keep the team calendar front of mind 
  • Stay connected to your team via email, text or teleconferencing  
  • Set expectations and boundaries for those who are home with you to limit interruptions 
  • Avoid the TV and social media while working, especially right now with constant COVID-19 updates 
  • Meal plan as if you were going into the office. 

As we modify our lives around the COVID-19 pandemic and adjust to the constraints of work/life balance from home, the best thing we can truly do for ourselves, family and work is stay positive and find a routine that allows balance.

Please feel free to contact us at (248) 934-0550 if you would like to learn more about the services we offer for entrepreneurs, small businesses and corporations.  We are here and we are honored to help.

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Understanding the 2019 IRS Extension

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and consistent with our expectations, the IRS released their notice on March 21 outlining the 90-day automatic extension for federal income tax filing and payments. This deferment applies to  individuals, trusts, corporations and non-corporations without interest or penalties, regardless of amount owed.

What does this mean for the average taxpayer?

The federal income tax filing due date is automatically extended from April 15 to July 15, 2020. Taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms to qualify for this extension. Individual taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the amended July 15 deadline, can request a filing extension. State and local tax authorities have not yet released guidance on whether they will follow the IRS guidelines. We will be sure to share any updates from the IRS on this matter.

What payment does the extension apply towards?

The extended due date and payment date applies to the 2019 balance due and first quarter estimates as these are now due on July 15. Second quarter estimates due June 15 are NOT subject to an extension, and therefore remain due by June 15.

Anticipating a Refund? Our Best Advice? Don’t Delay.

We highly encourage you to forward your 2019 tax information to our office, as we remain committed to getting your tax return complete as soon as possible. With the additional time, please send your documents electronically to avoid delays in determining your tax liability, as well as for the safety of our associates opening postal mail.

As a reminder, the safest and most efficient means of providing your tax data is utilizing file exchange via our online client portal. If you need assistance getting registered for these services, call our office at (248) 934-0550. Or click HERE to access your portal now. Please note, to best serve you, Senter, CPA has modified our signature lines in our emailed correspondence to contain a link that will take you to the web page for file exchange/file uploads.

For more information regarding the IRS notice to extend, please click HERE.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact us at (248) 934-0550 if you have any questions or concerns regarding your tax filing or payments as an individual or business. We are here and we honored to help.

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Special Edition: Update Regarding COVID-19

To Our Existing and Prospective Clients:

The safety and well-being of our valued clients and employees is always our top priority. We understand that the rapidly evolving situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing uncertainty in our community. Senter, CPA is closely monitoring reports from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), along with local health departments, and we continue to encourage our staff to take appropriate measures to control the spread of any virus.

During these difficult times, we highly encourage all clients to utilize their online portal from home, accessible 24/7, to upload pertinent tax documentation versus dropping materials off at our Clarkston office.  Along with file exchange capabilities for tax preparation, you can view your completed tax return, sign necessary e-filing authorizations and pay invoices. If you need assistance getting registered for these services, call our office at (248) 934-0550. Or click here to access your online portal now.

At this time, Senter, CPA is transitioning our face-to-face meetings to conference calls for the remainder of the month. We will reevaluate our meeting protocol for April and communicate those changes with you in a timely manner.  For those clients who must visit our office during normal business hours, be sure to schedule a brief visit with our team prior to coming in. Rest assured that we have intensified our routine cleaning schedules to extensively wipe down flat surfaces, computer equipment, and door handles with antibacterial wipes and sprays. By eliminating contact and  rigorous cleaning, we will do our part to keep our families, clients and community safe.

Finally, we anticipate that the U.S. Treasury and the IRS could announce an extension of the April 15th deadline by as much as 90 days, which allows for a waiver of penalties and interest for most taxpayers. We will continue to keep you updated as we receive more information.

We appreciate your trust in us, and we will continue in our efforts to provide you the service you’ve come to expect from us.

For more information please visit the links below:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

American Institute of CPAs

Sincerely,

Matthew Senter
Senter, CPA, P.C.

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Income Tax Refund: The Do’s and The Don’ts

Are you expecting, or perhaps already received, an income tax refund from your 2019 filing? If so, a tax refund is an excellent opportunity to set yourself up for success and in a better financial position for the future. We’ve rounded up ten creative ways to put your tax refund to work:

Do – 5 Smart Ideas for Your Cash

  • Pay down your existing debt
  • Boost your cash reserve or emergency fund
  • Save for a major goal, like a down payment on a house
  • Home improvements or replace one faulty appliance in your home
  • Establish or fund a 529 College Savings Account for your children or grandchildren

Don’t – 5 Common Mistakes 

  • Don’t leave your refund in your checking account
  • Don’t splurge on frivolous things that will depreciate over time, otherwise known as a shopping spree
  • Don’t spend it all on a vacation
  • Don’t make big purchases that require future payments
  • Don’t gamble it away

The Reality of Your Refund

It’s important to remember that your tax refund isn’t free cash; it’s income earned during the course of the tax year.  Plan accordingly and put your refund towards your personal financial goals. You’ve worked for your refund and now it’s time to make your refund work for you.

If you want to know the status of your refund it can be found HERE.

If you have yet to file your 2019 taxes or have any questions about our services, please contact us HERE or give us a call at 248-934-0550. We are here to help.

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Certified Public Accountant: Why You Need One in 2020

What does financial success mean to you? Security, peace of mind or perhaps more free time spent with family and friends probably sound right. Often times, the shape of financial success will change over the course of time (think: marriage, kids, starting a business). 

It’s deeply meaningful to have a financial advocate along the way, such as a CPA , which allows us to maneuver changing needs and financial obstacles with confidence. Being financially sound is something that most, carefully work at overtime. Having a CPA in your corner, so to speak, would remove the burden and stress off your shoulders and into the watchful hands of a professional. So then, what exactly are a CPA’s qualifications? 

Understanding the Qualifications of a CPA:  A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is an accountant professional who has passed the CPA exam which consists of four rigorous sessions, meets state licensing requirements and maintains their qualifications to be a licensed CPA. These professionals offer financial and tax expertise and must keep current with ever changing tax laws to maintain their licenses. CPA’s offer objective advice and assistance in strategic and targeted areas.  

Top 10 – When Should You Hire a CPA:

  • Before you start a business or side job
  • If you acquire, merge, sell or close a business 
  • You own rental property
  • When bookkeeping takes you away from more important tasks 
  • Your business has experienced rapid growth 
  • Tax time for businesses and individual filings 
  • Life changes like death (inheritance) or divorce 
  • The IRS contacts you or you owe back taxes
  • Moving to a new state
  • Kids going to college

The Main Objective:

The intention is to build, deepen and maintain a working relationship with your CPA overtime. You should meet regularly, annually, semi annual or quarterly, for a financial check up and most certainly during the course of tax season to ensure you are on the right track.

If you have any questions about our services and how we could potentially be of value to you and/or your business, please contact us HERE or give us a call at 248-934-0550. We would be honored to help.

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Tax Credits: Take Them All

With tax season in full swing you are probably starting to work on your personal return or getting ready to discuss your personal return with your CPA. One thing to keep in mind this year are tax credits; they’re real, they are valuable and you should take all you are entitled to.

Tax credits are great because they subtract, dollar for dollar, the amount you owe. Deductions reduce the income in which the tax is calculated, thus typically making a credit more advantageous. There are two types of credits: 1. nonrefundable and 2. refundable. A refundable credit is one which reduces your tax liability, sometimes below zero, resulting in a refund to you.

Family and Dependent Care Credits:

  • Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Child and Dependent Care Credit
  • Adoption Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Credit for Other Dependents
  • Credit for the Elderly and Disabled

Income and Savings Credits:

  • Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Saver’s Credit
  • Foreign Tax Credit
  • Excess Social Security RRTA Tax Withheld
  • Credit for Tax on Undistributed Capital Gain
  • Non-refundable Credit for Prior Year Minimum Tax

Homeowner Credits:

  • Residential Energy Efficient Property Tax Credit
  • Low-income Housing Credit

Health Care Credits:

  • Premium Tax Credit (Affordable Care Act)
  • Health Coverage Tax Credit

Education Credits:

  • American Opportunity Credit
  • Lifetime Learning Credit

Michigan Credits:

  • Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Homestead Property Tax Credit
  • Home Heating Credit
  • Credit for taxes paid to another state
  • Farmland Preservation Tax Credit

As a firm, we educate our clients of their respective and potential tax credits and qualifications. If you would like to review what strategic tax opportunities exist for your set of circumstances and determine eligibility to the credits above, please reach us HERE or give us a call at 248-934-0550. We are here to help and appreciate hearing from our current and future clients.

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Tax Season

2020 Tax Season: It Begins Today

Tax Season

Tax season officially starts today with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) now accepting e-files for 2019 tax returns. Let the countdown begin: Days Remaining

Common Documents Needed (please note this is not an exhaustive list and depends on each individuals situation):

  • Income documents W-2(s), 1099(s), K-1(s) etc.
  • Investment income and gain or loss detail
  • Business income and expense detail
  • Rental income and expense detail
  • Other income or loss detail
  • Deductions: Mortgage 1098(s), Charitable Contribution schedule(s), State and Local Tax payment(s), Qualified Medical expenses etc.
  • Summary of estimated tax payments
  • Childcare expenses
  • Educator expenses
  • HSA and IRA contributions

 A Few Notes:

  • All clients we prepared 2018 tax returns for should have received an email alerting them of the tax organizer and engagement letter within the portal for 2019. You can access your portal HERE. Anyone who did not receive their tax organizer or engagement letter please let us know as soon as possible.
  • Refunds usually come within 21 days of e-filed returns or 6 weeks for paper filed return.
  • You can check the status of your refund HERE
  • If you are a new client, we request copies of your last two tax returns with date of birth, along with copies of current year tax documents, to ensure we provide the best service possible.
  • A 6 month extension to file does exist, however it doesn’t extend the time to pay.
  • Anyone having issues logging into their portal due to the multi-factor authentication (MFA) code (establishing MFA onto new devices) will need to contact us with simple procedures to fix.
  • Don’t wait till the last minute. The sooner we receive your information, the easier it is for us to timely prepare your return(s), and the better we are able to serve you.

Key Dates:

  • February 15, 2020:
    Delayed refunds sent to those who claim the earned income credit
  • March 16, 2020:
    Partnership Income Tax Return due (Form 1065)
    S Corporation Income Tax Return due (Form 1120S)
  • March 31, 2020:
    Last day to submit documents to our firm to ensure returns are filed on time and not extended
  • April 15, 2020:
    Individual Tax Returns due for 2019 (Form 1040)
    Estate and Trust Tax Returns due for 2019 (Form 1041 & 709)
    FBAR: Reports for Foreign Bank Accounts are due
    Last Day to make a 2019 IRA contribution
    Last Day to make a 2019 HSA contribution
    1st Quarter 2020 individual estimated tax payments are due
    Tax Day! Our office will be closing at 5:00 p.m. to celebrate the end of tax season at a local spot with our team and their families.
  • May 15, 2020:
    Tax Exempt Organization Returns due (Form 990)
  • July 31, 2020:
    Employee Benefit Returns due (Form 5500)

We Agree with AT&T: Just OK is not OK – Call us today

As always, we are very appreciative of our clients, friends and supporters. The best compliment we can receive, is a referral or recommendation to your friends, family and colleagues about our service.

A summary of our services can be found: HERE

We look forward to assisting our existing and future clients this 2020 tax season with their tax and accounting needs. If you need us we can always be reached HERE or give us a call at 248-934-0550.

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Workplace Dependent Care Benefits

If you have paid for the care of your dependent(s) in the past and anticipate that dependent care will likely continue through 2020, then you will want to think about a specific work place benefit that may be available through your employer. Dependent Care Benefits, located on your W-2, Box 10, allows you to exclude up to $5,000 ($2,500 married filing separate) of your earned income for qualified care and expenses. Dependent Care Benefits through your employer can save Federal, State (if applicable), Social Security and Medicare tax which could make this a better option than the dependent care deduction on your personal tax return.

Know The Qualifications: 

Hiring assistance through an individual or organization to care for a child or disabled family member is a reality for most working families.  Thankfully, W2 employees may have an option to combat increase in pricing and costs of child care through their employers. Qualifications for dependent care include the following:

  1. A child under the age of 13, of whom you are authorized to claim as a dependent on your tax return
  2. A spouse or family member that is physically or mentally disabled
  3. The care is acquired so that you may be gainfully employed
  4. Dependent regularly spends 8 hours per day in your household, for those services which take place out of the home
  5. Outside organizations hired complies with all applicable state and local laws and regulations
  6. The fair market value of the dependent care expenses are provided for the applicable year
  7. You must report to the IRS on your 1040 tax return the name, address and social security number (or other tax payer identification number) of any dependent care service provider 

Come Tax Time:

Taking advantage of dependent care benefits provided through your employer will allow a significant tax savings over the course of the year for your family. Reach out to your Human Resources Department or employer to determine if  your benefit plan qualifies.

If you have any questions or concerns relative to the most advantageous tax strategy for your family, please contact us HERE or give us a call at 248-934-0550. We would be honored to help.

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Welcome to the Senter, CPA Team – Kylie N. Harig

Hi there! My name is Kylie Harig and I am the new office manager at Senter, CPA. I am so thankful for the opportunity to introduce myself to you and hope that you enjoy learning a little about me and my family. 

I come to you with nearly a decade of experience in the financial industry. Over those years, I worked side by side with financial advisors, CPA’s, estate planning attorneys, and insurance companies to provide excellent service and expertise to our client base. I’ve proudly served as both operation and relationship managers during the course of my professional career, however my passion is the people I’ve met along the way. I’ve always enjoyed the process of establishing a client relationship and deepening it with trust, knowledge, and accountability. Exceeding our clients expectations is my goal everyday. 

Prior to my years in finance, I spent time living in New Orleans, LA, working as a corporate sales consultant for a well known luxury brand. This is really where I started to understand customer service as the core of my professional development and, as a result, dedicated myself to my clients wholeheartedly. 

Before I was a professional and simply had a student status, you could find me at Michigan State University, where I studied business communication. Commencement came after four (and a half) years, in 2007. I don’t get back to East Lansing as often as I would like nowadays, although I do miss game days and walking around campus. I have good reason though, because in 2013, I became a mom to a little girl named, Ellie, and really who has time for much after kids?

Ellie is the best part of everyday. She is smart and kind and full of joy.  Most of Ellie is old soul, sometimes a little too wise for her young age. The other parts of Ellie are curious and patient, with enough confidence to keep me on my toes.  I am so thankful to be her mom. 

In addition to my daughter, I also have a sister, Lila, who is 16 years younger than I am. Lila is a sophomore at MSU studying engineering, earning a 4.0 every semester and making it look easy. I am so proud of her accomplishments every step of the way. Our parents live in Uzbekistan after residing in Clarkston for 20 years. Needless to say, we miss them very much, but look forward to having them home after retirement. 

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to work closely with you at Senter, CPA. Please be sure to call or stop in to say hello- it would make my day! 

If you ever need anything, please contact us HERE or give us a call at 248-934-0550. We are at your service.

 

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