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Does the Sale of Your Home Qualify for a Federal Income Tax Exclusion?

You’ve sold your home and made a nice profit on the sale. So you may be wondering if Uncle Sam is entitled to a cut. Although gain on a home sale is potentially taxable, you may qualify for a federal income-tax exclusion.

The Rules in General

If you’re a single taxpayer, you may qualify to exclude gain of up to $250,000 if you owned the home and used it as your principal residence for at least two of the five years before the sale. Married couples who file jointly may exclude up to $500,000 of gain as long as one spouse owned the home — and both spouses used the home as a principal residence — for two of the last five years.

The Frequency Factor

The exclusion is generally available to sellers only once during a two-year period. A married couple is entitled to the $500,000 exclusion only if neither partner used the exclusion within the two-year period that ended on the sale date.

Reduced But Available

Even if you don’t meet the criteria described above, you may still qualify for a reduced exclusion (of less than $250,000 or $500,000) if the primary reason for the home sale was a change in the location of your employment, a health condition, or certain other “unforeseen” circumstances. The affected individual can be you, your spouse, a co-owner of the residence, or a person sharing your household. You may also qualify for the reduced exclusion if you sell your home to care for a sick family member.

Additional restrictions on gain exclusion may apply if you’ve rented out your home, maintained a home office, or turned a second home into a principal residence.

For more help with individual or business taxes, connect with us today. Our team can help you with all your tax issues, large and small.

5 QuickBooks Online Add-On Apps You May Need in 2017

Not finding quite everything you need in QuickBooks Online? Our Bay Area QuickBooks professionals can help. Give us a call at 510-222-5800.

Here are some handy add-on apps available to get you started.

QuickBooks Online may work for you just fine as is. After all, it was designed to meet the needs of the millions of small businesses that want to manage and track their income and expenses, create records and transactions, and run reports to gauge their financial health. QuickBooks Online was also designed to grow along with your business. But there’s no need for Intuit to add internal features to do so. In fact, that would make it too expensive and unwieldy for many companies.

Instead, Intuit has partnered with other small business websites to provides add-ons–applications that extend the usefulness of QuickBooks Online in one or more areas, like accounts receivable and payable, inventory, and expense-tracking. They integrate easily to share data and do the extra work you need. Here are some of them to consider.

Bill.com

Bill.com automates your accounts receivable and payable processes. It supports electronic billing and payment, as well as multiple approval levels.

You can certainly enter and pay bills using QuickBooks Online. And you can send invoices to customers and receive payments. But adding a connection to Bill.com gives you more advanced options for accounts receivable and payable. Simply send your bills to Bill.com by scanning, emailing, faxing, or taking a picture with your smartphone. The site’s automation tools turn them into digital records and route them through your specified approvers. Once approved, they’re paid electronically or by paper check. Invoices are just as easy to process; customers can pay by using PayPal, credit card, or ACH. Bill.com’s mobile app makes it possible to keep up with invoices and bills while you’re out of the office.

Expensify

Are your employees still paper-clipping receipts to handwritten expense reports? This method is unnecessarily time-consuming – and often inaccurate. Expensify solves both problems. Your staff can take photos of receipts with their smartphones. Expensify then converts the expense information into coded digital records and submits them for approval based on your company’s policies. Credit card purchases can be automatically imported, too. All data is synchronized with QuickBooks Online in real-time and coded to reflect your preference of QBO’s expense accounts, customers/jobs, etc. Once you’ve approved a report, you can have the money deposited in the employee’s bank account the next day.

TSheets Time Tracking

TSheets employee scheduling software automates tasks that QuickBooks Online doesn’t do: scheduling and remote time-tracking for your hourly employees. Your staff no longer has to fill in paper timesheets. Instead, they can use their smartphones to track their hours and GPS location points. And while Excel is certainly better for creating schedules than paper, TSheets takes over that task, too. After you’ve approved timesheets, that information is sent over to QuickBooks, ready for use in your payroll processing.

quickbooks

Your employees can easily “punch” in and out using their smartphones. TSheets also uses GPS technology so that your staff members’ locations are always known to you.

SOS Inventory

QuickBooks Online performs some basic inventory management tasks. You can create records for items and use them in transactions, and keep track of the number of items in stock so you know when to reorder (or have a sale). SOS Inventory goes well beyond those capabilities. You can create sales orders, track cost history and serial numbers, and document work-in-progress (WIP). SOS Inventory supports multiple locations and the entire pick/pack/ship process.

Insightly CRM

You can create thorough customer records in QuickBooks Online and document some of your interaction. But it doesn’t facilitate true Customer Relationship Management (CRM) nor project management. Insightly CRM does both. It lets you build exceptionally thorough customer profiles so that you can view social streams, email history, and any events, opportunities, or events related to them. Its project management features include the ability to track by pipelines or milestones, define contact roles and custom fields, and generate advanced project reporting.

QuickBooks Online Integration Key

All of these apps can work in standalone settings, but their integration with QuickBooks Online and their mobile capabilities create powerful partnerships that help you serve both your customers and your employees in ways that QuickBooks Online alone can’t.

We’re not trying to sell you applications here. Our concern is that you’re getting as much out of QuickBooks itself as you can. We can steer you toward add-on solutions if that seems necessary, but we’re always happy to work with you on getting to know QuickBooks Online better and matching its capabilities to your company’s needs. Call Chahal & Associates, Inc., a Bay Area accounting firm, at 510-222-5800 when you’re ready to get started. We’re prepared to help you make the most of your QuickBooks software. Or, request a free consultation online.

Best Tax Services in San Francisco – 2017 Award

Expertise.com has recently completed an evaluation of the top tax accounting firms in San Francisco based on five categories and a total of 25 variables.  The five categories are:

  • Reputation
  • Credibility
  • Experience
  • Availability
  • Professionalism

As part of their process, they evaluated 197 tax accounting firms and managed to award twenty (20) top firms.  And fortunately, Chahal & Associates was one of the twenty firms awarded.

Chahal & Associates is an accounting firm with offices in Emeryville, Pinole and San Rafael, CA.  They specialize in servicing small businesses throughout the Bay area by providing accounting, booking, and tax reduction services.

 

 

 

Expertise.com is an online review service that connects people with experts and leading providers in their community.

Business Start-up Costs — What’s Deductible?

Start UpLaunching a new business takes hard work — and money. Costs for market surveys, travel to line up potential distributors and suppliers, advertising, hiring employees, training, and other expenses incurred before a business is officially launched can add up to a substantial amount.

The tax law places certain limitations on tax deductions for start-up expenses.

  • No deduction is available until the business becomes active.
  • Up to $5,000 of accumulated start-up expenses may be deducted in the tax year in which the active business begins. This $5,000 limit is reduced (but not below zero) by the excess of total start-up costs over $50,000.
  • Any remaining start-up expenses may be deducted ratably over the 180-month period beginning with the month in which the active business begins.

Example. Gina spent $20,000 on start-up costs before her new business began on July 1, 2015. In 2015, she may deduct $5,000 and the portion of the remaining $15,000 allocable to July through December of 2015 ($15,000/180 × 6 = $500), a total of $5,500. The remaining $14,500 may be deducted ratably over the remaining 174 months.

Instead of deducting start-up costs, a business may elect to capitalize them (treat them as an asset on the balance sheet). Deductions for “organization expenses” — such as legal and accounting fees for services related to forming a corporation or partnership — are subject to similar rules.

If you are tired of overpaying taxes, simply call 510-222-5800 and ask for Navjeet.  Our initial consultation is free.  Lowering your taxes legally is our expertise.

 

Chahal & Associates services small business owners throughout the Bay area.  We have convenient offices in Emeryville, San Rafael and Pinole.  Chahal & Associates provides additional expertise in QuickBooks Accounting, International Taxation, Restaurant Accounting and Retail Accounting.

New Tax Law Provisions

Last summer’s highway trust fund extension law* includes a few important federal tax provisions that affect business and individual taxpayers.

Return due dates

Tax AvoidThe new law accelerates the filing deadline for partnership returns by one month, effective with returns for tax years that begin after December 31, 2015. As a result, the due date for partnership returns will be the fifteenth day of the third month after the end of the partnership’s tax year — March 15 for a partnership with a calendar year.

C corporations will have an additional month to file their returns, generally effective with returns for tax years beginning after December 31, 2015. As a result, C corporation returns will be due by the fifteenth day of the fourth month after the end of the tax year (by April 15 for a C corporation with a calendar year). The extended deadline doesn’t take effect until tax years beginning after December 31, 2025, for C corporations with fiscal years ending on June 30.

Basis reporting

For federal estate-tax purposes, property included in the gross estate is generally valued at its fair market value on the decedent’s date of death. That same fair market value then becomes the property’s income-tax basis in the hands of the person who acquires the property from the decedent.

The new law doesn’t change this rule. However, it requires the executor of any estate required to file a federal estate-tax return to furnish an information statement to the IRS and to each person receiving property from the estate. The statement must show the value of the property as reported on the return (and any other information the IRS may require). There are penalties for failure to file and for tax understatements resulting from inconsistencies in basis reporting.

Mortgage information returns

Under the new law, mortgage lenders must include additional items, such as the amount of principal outstanding at the beginning of the year, on information returns required to be furnished after December 31, 2016.

If you are tired of overpaying taxes and would like to be more aggressive lowering your taxes but stay within the legal limits, call 510-222-5800 and ask for Navjeet.  Our initial consultation for small business owners is free.

 

Chahal & Associates is a California Tax and Accounting firm that focuses on lowering your taxes legally.  We have three convenient locations to service the broader Bay area and are the fastest growing firm locally.  Our offices are located in Marin County – San Rafael, Emeryville – Alameda County, and Pinole – Contra Costa County.

While we work with all types of businesses, Chahal & Associates also has specialty services like International Taxation, Expatriate Tax, Restaurant Accounting, Retail Accounting, QuickBooks Accounting and Auto Repair Accounting.

* Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Improvement Act of 2015

Setting Up Your Business in the United States

Set Up Biz in USInternational businesses that want to do business in Northern California face a mountain of issues.  To make this process simpler, Chahal & Associates is doing something about this.

Chahal & Associates has created a unique concept designed around making the process for helping international companies to smoothly and quickly establish a United States entity for doing business in California.

With this program, our team of experts is available to assist with business aspects of this transition.  And for the legal aspects, we will provide you with recommendations on the best immigration law firm for your particular circumstances.

The Chahal & Associates team will help you with the following issues:

  • Determining the type of entity most suitable for your business
  • Establishing a business entity
  • Obtaining all tax ID numbers and business licenses
  • United States tax expertise
  • Relocating employees to United States
  • Transfer pricing consulting and establishing United States payroll

Our team is fluent in six different languages ranging from English to Hindu to Punjabi and many more.

If you are seeking assistance for establishing a business in California, then our unique concept is ideal for you.

Call 510-222-5800 and ask for speak with Navjeet Chahal regarding your business.

 

Tax Breaks for Bay Area Businesses

Tax BreaksIf you run a small business, you already have a full plate. The last thing you need is for the IRS to question any of your business expense deductions. But it could happen. And that’s why having records that prove your expenses is so important. Even deductions for routine business expenses could be disallowed if you don’t have appropriate records.

What Records Are Required?

Except in a few instances, the tax law does not require any special kind of records. You’re free to have a recordkeeping system that is suited to your business, as long as it clearly shows your expenses. In addition to books that allow you to track and summarize your business transactions, you should keep supporting documents, such as:

  • Canceled checks
  • Cash register receipts
  • Credit card sales slips
  • Invoices
  • Account statements

The rules are stricter for travel, entertainment, and transportation expenses. You should retain hotel bills or other documentary evidence (e.g., receipts, canceled checks) for each lodging expense and for any other expense of $75 or more. In addition, you should maintain a diary, log, or account book with the information described below.

Travel. Your records should show the cost of each separate expense for travel, lodging, and meals. For each trip, record your destination, the dates you left and returned, and the number of days spent on business. Also record the business purpose for the expense or the business benefit you gained or expected to gain. Incidental expenses, such as taxi fares, may be totaled in reasonable categories.

Entertainment. Record the date the entertainment took place and the amount of each separate expense, along with the name and address or location of the place of entertainment. Note the business purpose for the expense or the business benefit you gained or expected to gain and the nature of any business discussion or activity that took place. Also list the identities and occupations of the individuals you were entertaining or other information that indicates their business relationship to you.

If the entertainment was directly before or after a business discussion, be sure to indicate the date, place, nature, and duration of the discussion and the individuals who took part in both the discussion and the entertainment activity. For a business meal, you must prove that either you or your employee was present.

Transportation. As with travel and entertainment, you should record the amount and date of each separate expense. Note your business destination and the business purpose for the expense. If you are deducting actual car expenses, you’ll need to record the cost of the car and the date you started using it for business (for depreciation purposes). If you drive the car for both business and personal purposes or claim the standard mileage rate, keep records of the mileage for each business use and the total miles driven during the year.

Don’t Mix Business and Personal Expenses

Things can get tangled if you intermingle business and personal expenses. You can avoid headaches by having a separate business bank account and credit card.

If you are tired of overpaying taxes and would like to be more aggressive lowering your taxes but stay within the legal limits, call 510-222-5800 and ask for Navjeet.  Our initial consultation for small business owners is free.

 

Chahal & Associates is a California Tax and Accounting firm that focuses on lowering your taxes legally.  We have three convenient locations to service the broader Bay area and are the fastest growing firm locally.  Our offices are located in Marin County – San Rafael, Emeryville – Alameda County, and Pinole – Contra Costa County.

While we work with all types of businesses, Chahal & Associates also has specialty services like International Taxation, Expatriate Tax, Restaurant Accounting, Retail Accounting, QuickBooks Accounting and Auto Repair Accounting.

 

Why Hire a QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor

QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisors are accountants that have gone through a rigorous training process developed by Intuit, the company that developed QuickBooks.  And at the end of this training, a series of tests must be passed in order to become certified.

QB Certs 4Why Hire a Certified ProAdvisor?

A Certified ProAdvisor can provide accounting and tax assistance well beyond a technical staff person at Intuit.  Often, they have extensive experience that can save you precious time and money rather than trying to figure out something yourself.

Second, a Certified ProAdvisor often knows what is currently available on the market today to solve your day-to-day challenges either with a QuickBooks product or another vendor that integrates with QuickBooks software.  Surprisingly, there are many apps and software vendors that make QuickBooks operate more effectively and save you time.

Chahal QBAnd third, a Certified ProAdvisor will attend conferences to learn what changes are around the corner.  For example, the cloud accounting changes to QuickBooks are rapidly changing so staying abreast of these changes will be key to better serving your business needs.

If you are searching for a QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor, call 510-222-5800 and ask for Navjeet.

Chahal and Associates is a rapidly growing tax and accounting firm serving the entire Bay area with three convenient offices, San Rafael, Emeryville and Pinole.

Net Operating Losses Provide Tax Benefits

NOL2For many businesses, profits vary from year to year. However, with proper planning, even a bad year can be helpful from a tax perspective. Where business deductions exceed gross income, a taxpayer may have a net operating loss (NOL) that can be used to offset income in another tax year, potentially generating a refund of previously paid taxes.

Who May Use an NOL?

NOLs are available to individual business owners, corporations, estates, and trusts. Partnerships and S corporations do not take NOL deductions, though their partners and shareholders may use “passed through” losses on their own returns.

How Is an NOL Applied?

The general rule is that a taxpayer may carry an NOL back two years and forward 20 years, though certain limited exceptions may apply. For example, an individual with an NOL that was caused by a casualty, theft, or disaster may use a three-year carryback period.

In general, the taxpayer will carry back an NOL to the earliest year it can be used and then carry it forward, year by year, until it is used up. The taxpayer may also elect to forego the two-year carryback and carry the loss forward for the 20-year period. However, the general preference is to use an NOL sooner rather than later because a dollar of tax saved today is generally worth more than a dollar saved in the future.

How Is an NOL Calculated?

Calculations of NOLs can be complicated. For example, a noncorporate taxpayer’s NOL is calculated without regard to any personal exemptions or NOLs from other years, and certain deductions for capital losses and nonbusiness items are limited.

If you are tired of overpaying taxes, call 510-222-5800 and ask for Navjeet.  Lowering your taxes legally is what we do best.

 

Lower Your Taxes for the Self Employed Business Owner

Self EmployedWhen you are self-employed, your business profits are taxed to you at federal rates as high as 39.6%. Add self-employment taxes, which in 2016 will amount to 15.3% of the first $118,500 of your net self-employment earnings plus 2.9% of any earnings over that amount. Then there’s an additional 0.9% Medicare surtax on earnings in excess of $200,000 ($250,000 if married filing jointly). At tax rates like these, it pays to take steps to reduce your tax burden.

Step One: Deduct Business Expenses

Be sure you have an organized system for recording your expenses. To be deductible, a business expense must be “ordinary” (common and accepted in your trade or business) and “necessary” (helpful and appropriate for your trade or business). Since personal expenses are generally not deductible, it’s smart to have a separate business bank account and use a separate credit card for business purchases.

Step Two: Deduct Health Insurance Premiums

You may qualify to deduct premiums paid for medical, dental, and qualified long-term care insurance coverage for you, your spouse, and your dependents.* The coverage may include children who haven’t reached age 27 by the end of the year, even if you don’t claim them as dependents on your tax return.

Unlike health insurance premiums paid for employees, the self-employed health insurance deduction won’t save you self-employment taxes. However, it will lower your taxable income. You must meet certain requirements to qualify for the deduction.

Step Three: Deduct Retirement Plan Contributions

Funding a retirement plan can also save you significant tax dollars. Within limits, plan contributions will be tax deductible.** Several types of plans may be suitable for you as a self-employed taxpayer, including a simplified employee pension (SEP) plan, a savings incentive match plan (SIMPLE), or a solo (individual) 401(k) plan. Each plan has specific features and requirements that you will want to weigh carefully before making a choice.

If you are tired of overpaying taxes, simply call 510-222-5800 and ask for Navjeet.  Our initial consultation is free.  Lowering your taxes legally is our expertise.

 

Chahal & Associates services small business owners throughout the Bay area.  We have convenient offices in Emeryville, San Rafael and Pinole.  Chahal & Associates provides additional expertise in QuickBooks Accounting, International Taxation, Restaurant Accounting and Retail Accounting.

 

* Dollar limits apply to the deduction for long-term care insurance premiums.

 

** Although deductible for income-tax purposes, contributions to your own retirement plan account do not reduce earnings subject to self-employment taxes.