Friday, November 23, 2012

Additional HI Tax On High-Income Taxpayers Effective January 1, 2013

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010 will impose an additional
health insurance (HI) tax on the employee’s portion for high-income taxpayers after
2012. The employee portion of the HI (Medicare) tax is increased by an additional
tax of .9% on wages received in excess of $200,000 per individual (or $250,000
for couples filing jointly, $125,000 married filing separately).  The regular percentage
remains at 1.45% for wages under $200,000. The change is to the employee portion
of Medicare only.  Therefore, for taxpayers with wages in excess of the threshold amount, the overall HI rate will be 3.8% (i.e. 2.35% for the employee and 1.45% for the employer).

The employer is required to withhold the additional .9% tax on wages. The employer
could be subject to penalties for failure to deduct and withhold the additional tax. In
determining the employer’s requirement to withhold and liability for the tax,
only wages that the employee receives from the employer in excess of $200,000
for a year are taken into account and the employer must disregard the amount of wages received by the employee’s spouse. To the extent the additional tax is not collected by the employer, the employee shall pay such tax.

For example, if a taxpayer’s spouse has wages in excess of $250,000 and
the taxpayer has wages of $100,000, the employer of the taxpayer is not required to
withhold any portion of the additional tax, even though the combined wages
of the taxpayer and the taxpayer’s spouse are over the $250,000 threshold. In this
instance, the employer of the taxpayer’s spouse is obligated to withhold the additional
.9% HI tax with respect to the $50,000 above the threshold amount.

This same additional HI tax applies to the HI portion of self-employment (SECA)
tax on self-employment income in excess of $200,000 per individual ($250,000
married filing jointly, $125,000 married filing separately). The threshold is reduced
(but not below zero) by the amount of wages taken into account in determining the
FICA tax with respect to the taxpayer. The ½ of SECA tax deduction taken on page 1
of Form 1040 will not apply to the .9%.

The IRS will be releasing revised Form 941 forms for the 1st quarter of 2013
which will include a separate line for the additional HI (Medicare) withholding.

For more information on this change, go to the IRS website at http://www.

Call us at (219) 769-3616 with your questions or e-mail them to

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Indiana Regulations Expand the Use of Electronic Payment System and

The 2012 Indiana General Assembly passed a law requiring all businesses to report
and remit sales and withholding taxes electronically beginning January 1, 2013.

Any businesses currently filing sales or withholding taxes via paper forms and paying via check will need to register with INtax to start filing and paying electronically in 2013, as the paper method will no longer be maintained by the Indiana Department of Revenue.

Using INtax to file and pay sales and withholding taxes provides substantial benefits to taxpayers.

INtax users:

1. Have a complete record of filings and payments with 24/7 access

2. Can submit timely payments via electronic check or credit card

3. Can manage all business tax accounts from one convenient login

To register for INtax, please visit  INtax also offers tutorials for
step-by-step instructions on how to register, set up bank account information for EFT, and how to navigate the site.  The INtax Hotline is also available at
(317) 232-2337 for assistance. 

If you have questions, just give us a call at (219) 769-3616 or email
them to


Monday, September 24, 2012


                                        SERVING THE COMMUNITY

The Boys & Girls Club of Porter County, the Chesterton site, was helped out on the 10th annual CPA Day of Service  Friday September, 21st.  Swartz Retson & Co., P.C.,  partnered up with accounting students from Indiana University Northwest and Purdue University Calumet.  A tremendous amount of work was accomplished at the Boys & Girls Club; a new coat of paint now covers the walls of the reception area, game room, homework room, and hallways, along with new base boards that were put in place in the huge game room.  A table and 100 piece train set were also assembled for the kids to play with. 
The kids were astonished when they saw the new colors on the walls and the new toys to play with.  It has been a great opportunity to help the community as well as promoting the values of the CPA designation with local accounting students.
Swartz Retson & Co., P. C. Volunteers:
Lauren Trumbo
Stephen Sienicki
Paige Wories
Buddy Dowden
Jen Hanicq
Ashley Eaton
Bob Swartz

Indiana University Northwest Volunteers:                
Patrick Walsh
Charmal Surney
Adam O’Hare
Britany Kuzma
Kurt Kindt
Seabell Gilmore
Vicki Urbanik

Purdue University Calumet Volunteers:
Maribel Garcia
Terra Woessner
Lauren Stive
Tiffany Kovacik
Haley Garner

Thursday, July 12, 2012


The new health reform law, the Affordable Care Act, holds health insurance companies accountable to consumers and ensures that American families are reimbursed if health insurance companies don’t meet a fair standard of value.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies now must reveal how much of premium dollars they actually spend on health care and how much they spend on administration, such as salaries and marketing. This information was not shared with consumers in the past. Not only is this information made available to consumers for the first time, if an insurance company spends less than 80% of premiums on medical care and quality (or less than 85% in the large group market, which is generally insurance provided through large employers), it must rebate the portion of premium dollars that exceeded this limit.

On June 1, 2012, insurance companies nationwide submitted their annual MLR reports for coverage provided in 2011 to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Based on this data, insurance companies that didn’t meet the 80/20 rule will provide nearly 12.8 million Americans with more than $1.1 billion in rebates this year. Americans receiving the rebate will benefit from an average rebate of $151 per household.

Under the new health care law, rebates must be paid by Aug. 1 each year. As a result, 12.8 million Americans will see one of the following:
• a rebate check in the mail
• a lump-sum reimbursement to the same account that was used to pay the
   premium if it was paid by credit card or debit card
• a direct reduction in their future premiums
• their employer providing one of the above rebate methods, or applying the rebate
   in a manner that benefits its employees.

Consumers in every state will also receive notifications from their insurance company about the 80/20 rule. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will send a letter to subscribers every year they miss the 80/20 mark. The letter will explain the purpose of the 80/20 rule, how far the insurance company fell short of this goal, and the percentage of premium it owes in rebates. In 2012, insurance companies that meet or exceed the standard in the 2011 coverage year will send a notice to consumers explaining the purpose of the 80/20 rule and notifying consumers that they met or exceeded the standard. Insurance companies will provide consumers with unprecedented information about the value consumers get for every dollar spent on premiums. All of this information will be publicly available on

For years, Americans have watched their premiums rise faster than their wages. Although these increases are partly due to rising medical costs and utilization of services, they are exacerbated by rising insurance company administrative costs (including marketing and salaries of CEOs) and profits, which contribute little or nothing to the care of patients or the health of consumers.

Many Americans are working hard to ensure that their families have health insurance coverage, and they do not deserve to have their premium dollars wasted on excessive administrative costs and profits. The Affordable Care Act and the 80/20 rule guarantee this right for consumers, and the over $1.1 billion in rebates provided through this rule show that insurance companies can no longer pass excessive administrative costs and profits on to consumers.

If you have received a rebate check and have questions on how to allocate the rebate
between the employer and employees, please contact our office at (219) 769-3616 or
e-mail your questions to

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Forgiven debt: It may be gone, but it’s not forgotten by the IRS

With the recent economic downturns experienced by many taxpayers, there is a tax concept that is very important: cancellation of debt. You would think that the cancellation of debt by a credit card company or mortgage company would be a good thing for the taxpayer. And it can be, but it can also be considered taxable income by the IRS. Here is a quick review of various debt cancellation situations.

Consumer debt
If you have gone through some type of credit “workout” program on consumer debt, it’s likely that some of your debt has been cancelled. If that is the case, be prepared to receive IRS Form 1099-C representing the amount of debt cancelled. The IRS considers that amount taxable income to you, and they expect to see it reported on your tax return. The exception is if you file for bankruptcy. With bankruptcy, generally the debt cancelled is not taxable.
Even if you are not legally bankrupt, you might be technically insolvent (where your liabilities exceed your assets). If this is the case, you can exclude your debt cancellation income by reporting your financial condition and filing IRS Form 982 with your tax return.

Primary home
If your home is “short” sold or foreclosed and the lender receives less than the total amount of the outstanding loan, you can also expect that amount of debt cancellation to be reported to you and the IRS. But special rules allow you to exclude up to $2 million in cancellation income in many circumstances. You will again need to complete IRS Form 982, but the exclusion from taxable income brought about by the debt cancellation on your primary residence is incredibly liberal. So make sure to take advantage of them should they apply to you.

Second home, rental property, investment property, business property
The rules for debt cancellation on second homes, rental property, and investment or business property can be extremely complicated. Generally speaking, the new laws that cover debt cancellation don’t apply to these properties, and the IRS considers any debt cancellation income taxable. Nevertheless, given your cost of these properties, your financial condition, and the amount of debt cancelled, it’s still possible to have this debt cancellation income taxed at a preferred capital gains rate, or even considered not taxable at all.
Be aware that many of the special debt cancellation provisions are set to expire at the end of 2012.

If you’re unsure as to how debt cancellation affects you, contact our office at (219) 769-3616 or e-mail your questions to to review your situation and determine how much, if any, cancelled debt will be taxable income to you.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Diversify investments by focusing on taxes

Savvy investors often spread their risks by investing in a variety of asset classes such as stocks, bonds, commodities, and real estate. But with a changing tax landscape, investors might consider three more classes:  taxable, tax-deferred, and tax-free.
In days gone by, taxpayers often worked under the assumption that their tax bracket would be lower after they retire. Therefore, a common strategy was to defer as much taxable income as possible to the golden years. Now, however, with the possibility of higher tax rates in the future, it could be more efficient to pay those taxes today while rates remain lower. Since no one knows for sure what Washington will do, it might be time to hedge your tax risk and allocate your portfolio between accounts with differing tax consequences.

Taxable accounts
Savings or brokerage accounts result in current taxation on earnings, but they do provide maximum flexibility.  You can withdraw as much as you wish whenever you wish, with no IRS penalties or taxes. Keeping some of your nest egg in this type of account will provide immediate funds for major purchases or debt reduction.

Tax-deferred accounts
IRAs or 401(k)s only postpone the payment of taxes; eventually you will have to pay Uncle Sam when you withdraw the funds. But in the meantime, you generally receive a current-year tax deduction when you contribute, and the account can grow tax-free until you take it out at retirement.

Tax-free accounts
Roth IRAs are funded with after-tax dollars. What you put in, including any investment earnings, can be later withdrawn tax-free. The downside? You generally must wait until after age 59½ (and the account has to be open for five years) to make a tax-free withdrawal.
Diversifying your portfolio is only the first step. The next (and trickiest) step is properly investing in each type.  For instance, your goal for a taxable account might be to generate growth while keeping taxable earnings to a minimum. This could be done by investing in tax-exempt municipal bonds or low-dividend yielding growth stocks.
In a tax-deferred account, investment income is not taxed until withdrawn, so earnings can come from any source without immediate tax implications. However, since you must start withdrawing funds from an IRA or 401(k) at age 70½, you might want to stay away from highly volatile investments as you approach that age.  Your account will have less time to rebound from a down market.
Tax-free Roth IRAs offer the longest time horizon for investing since you are not required to make a withdrawal at any age. So investments with higher risks or lower liquidity might fit best here.

In an era of high uncertainty and low expectations, tax-efficient investing has never been more important. To review the tax implications of your investments, give our office a call today at (219) 769-3616 or e-mail your questions to

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Vacation Homes: A look at the tax rules

If you own a home that is available for both personal and rental use, you have what is commonly known as a vacation home. Vacation homes are a hybrid: they are not purely rental properties, nor are they purely personal use properties. Since they are special, they have their own very specialized tax issues.

A vacation “home” could be a house, condo, motor home, boat, or similar property. In order to qualify, it must have a sleeping place, toilet, and cooking facilities.

If the home is rented for less than 15 days, you are not required to report the income. However, if you rent the home for 15 days or more, and you or family members use the home for personal use for even one day, you have to allocate rental expenses.

The amount of personal use determines the classification of your home for tax purposes. If you rent your vacation home for more than 14 days, all your rental income is reportable. Whether you treat the income and expenses as a second residence or as rental property depends on the personal use of your vacation home relative to the time the home is rented out.

If you limit your personal use to not more than 14 days or 10% of the time the home is rented, all rental expenses are deductible.

If you use the property for more than 14 days or 10% of the number of days it’s rented, the rules change. Your rental deductions (except for taxes and mortgage interest) are limited to the amount of your rental income.

The rules are complex, but a basic understanding of the rules and good recordkeeping will help you get the best tax breaks from your vacation home.

Give us a call at (219) 769-3616 if you would like more
information or e-mail your questions to tlynch@swartzretson.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mark Your Calendar

15 - Second quarter 2012 individual estimated tax is due.
15 - Second quarter 2012 estimated tax is due for calendar-year corporations.
30 - Report on foreign financial assets and accounts must be received by the Treasury Department.

31 - 2011 retirement and employee benefit plan returns are due for calendar-year plans.

17 - Third quarter 2012 individual estimated tax is due.
17 - Third quarter 2012 estimated tax is due for calendar-year corporations.
17 - Deadline for filing 2011 calendar-year tax returns for corporations with extensions of the March 15 deadline.
17 - Deadline for filing 2011 partnership returns with extensions of the April 17 deadline.
Contact us at (219) 769-3616 or e-mail your questions to

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tax Talk

Vehicle deductions for 2012

The IRS has published depreciation limits for business vehicles first placed in service this year.  Because 50% bonus depreciation is allowed only for new vehicles, these limits are different for new and used vehicles.

For new business cars, the first-year limit is $11,160; for used cars, it’s $3,160. After year one, the limits are the same for both new and used cars: $5,100 in year two, $3,050 in year three, and $1,875 in all following years.

The 2012 first-year depreciation limit for trucks and vans is $11,360 for new vehicles and $3,360 for used vehicles. Limits for both new and used vehicles in year two are $5,300, in year three $3,150, and in each succeeding year $1,875.

For details relating to your 2012 business vehicle purchases, contact our office.

Tax freedom on April 17

According to the Tax Foundation, April 17, 2012, was not only the day 2011 tax returns were due, it also was Tax Freedom Day for 2012. That means Americans worked 107 days, from January 1 to April 17, to earn enough money to pay their federal, state, and local taxes for 2012.

If the federal government collected enough taxes to meet 2012 federal spending, Tax Freedom Day would have come 27 days later – on May 14, 2012. And unless Congress acts to prevent tax increases scheduled for 2013, next year’s Tax Freedom Day will be eleven days later than in 2012, and the average American household will pay $3,800 more in taxes.

Contact us at (219) 769-3616 or e-mail your questions to

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tax Talk

IRS expands spouse relief

If you file a joint income tax return with your spouse, you are considered “jointly and severally” liable for the payment of all taxes owed. The IRS can come after either you or your spouse for the entire amount of tax due, plus any penalties and interest due.

The law has “innocent spouse” rules that may limit an individual’s responsibility for unpaid taxes resulting from filing a joint return. If the “innocent spouse” can establish that he or she did not know, or have reason to know, that there was an understatement of tax when signing the joint return, relief can be requested. Under previous rules, this relief had to be requested within two years after collection proceedings were initiated by the IRS.

In a new 2011 ruling, the IRS has decided to eliminate the two-year time limit for requesting innocent spouse status under the “equitable relief” provision in the law.

New classification program

Companies that have had worker classification issues are being offered a settlement program by the IRS. The program, labeled the “Voluntary Worker Classification Settlement Program,” will let employers who previously misclassified employees as independent contractors make a minimal payment to settle the tax dispute.

The program will give eligible employers substantial relief from federal payroll taxes they may have owed for past periods. Employers must agree to pay just over 1% of wages paid to reclassified workers for the past year and to treat these workers as employees going forward.

Contact us at (219) 769-3616 or e-mail your questions to

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Payroll Tax Cut Extended to the End of 2012; Revised Payroll Tax Form Now Available to Employers

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today released revised Form 941 enabling employers to properly report the newly-extended payroll tax cut benefiting nearly 160 million workers.

Under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, workers will continue to receive larger paychecks for the rest of this year based on a lower social security tax withholding rate of 4.2 percent, which is two percentage points less than the 6.2 percent rate in effect prior to 2011. This reduced rate, originally in effect for all of 2011, was extended through the end of February by the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011, enacted Dec. 23.

No action is required by workers to continue receiving the payroll tax cut. As before, the lower rate will have no effect on workers’ future Social Security benefits. The reduction in revenues to the Social Security Trust Fund will be made up by transfers from the General Fund.

Self-employed individuals will also benefit from a comparable rate reduction in the social security portion of the self-employment tax from 12.4 percent to 10.4 percent. For 2012, the social security tax applies to the first $110,100 of wages and net self-employment income received by an individual.

The new law also repeals the two-percent recapture tax included in the December legislation that effectively capped at $18,350 the amount of wages eligible for the payroll tax cut. As a result, the now repealed recapture tax does not apply.

The IRS will issue additional guidance, as needed, to implement the newly-extended payroll tax cut, and any further updates will be posted on

Contact us at (219) 769-3616 or e-mail your questions to

Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Reporting Requirements for Credit Card and Third Party Network Payments - Part 2

Merchant card and third party network payers, as “payment settlement entities” (PSEs) are now required to report to IRS
proceeds of payment card and third party network transactions (PC/TPN transactions) on Form 1099-K. Part 1 of this Fax
Alert outlined some challenges for companies which will now be required to segregate these payments on their tax
returns. Below is more information related to 1099-K and the new business reporting requirements.

1. Debit card transactions, cash advances, convenience checks and payments to related parties are not included in the
definition of “payment card” transactions and are therefore excluded from 1099-K reporting.
2. IRS has determined that transactions reported on Form 1099-K are not to also be reported on Form 1099-MISC, if
applicable. For example, credit card payments to an individual subcontractor would not be included on a 1099-MISC
issued by the payer. Such payments should be reported to IRS via Form 1099-K issued from the PSE that handled
the payment. Payments by check or cash are still reported on Form 1099-MISC. Companies or individuals receiving
Form(s) 1099-K should verify that payments received by PC/TPN are not duplicated on Form(s) 1099-MISC.
3. Form 1099-K includes PC/TPN transactions by month to accommodate fiscal year businesses. Since Forms 1099-K are issued for calendar years (due to payees by January 31st of the following year), the PC/TPN transactions fiscal year businesses will report on their tax returns will be reported to IRS on two years' Forms 1099-K.  Many fiscal  year businesses will not have the luxury of matching their records to Forms1099-K prior to filing their tax returns. making good record-keeping paramount. 
4. Credit card charges will be included in the gross amount reported on Form 1099-K even if the PSE remits funds net of
its fee.
5. There is an exception for de minimis third party network payments. Third party network payments are required to be
reported on Form 1099-K only if i) payments exceed $20,000, or ii) the aggregate number of TPN transactions
exceeds 200. However, TPN transactions no matter what size or number are still required to be segregated (with
payment card transactions) on business tax returns beginning with 2012 returns.
6. There is no de minimis exception for payment card transactions; all such transactions are to be reported both on
Form 1099-K and segregated on business tax returns starting with 2012.
7. Business income tax returns affected by the new reporting rules include Forms 1120, 1120S, 1065, 1040 Schedules C,
E, and F.
8. It does not appear that non-profit organizations will have reporting requirements regarding PC/TPN transactions,
although non-profits will receive Forms 1099-K if they engage in qualifying transactions.
9. Backup withholding, where 28% of any payment is withheld and remitted to IRS as federal income tax withholding,
will apply after December 31, 2012 if a taxpayer does not furnish its TIN (taxpayer identification number) to a PSE.

Recently IRS has admitted that it won’t likely be matching Form 1099-K amounts to tax returns for some time. Also, there are legislative stirrings to prohibit IRS from fully implementing Form 1099-K because of the excessive burden to small businesses. Stay tuned for any further developments.

Contact us at (219) 769-3616 or e-mail your questions to

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New Reporting Requirements for Credit Card and Third Party Network Payments - Part 1

Congress required, as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, the matching of income from sales paid with credit cards or through third party networks (TPNs – Paypal, etc.) with income reported on a tax return. This requirement was an effort to reduce the tax gap, the difference between tax due and tax paid.

The result is a system that will allow IRS to match credit card and TPN receipts to a tax return. A new information report, Form 1099-K, and a new income line on business tax returns, “Merchant card and third party payments” have been created to help IRS in its efforts. Businesses which receive credit card and TPN payments will receive Forms 1099-K from each merchant or network and will report these payments – whether or not a 1099-K is received – on their 2012 tax returns.

As could be anticipated with an undertaking of this magnitude, there are wrinkles. For taxpayers whose credit card and TPN receipts do not include sales tax, employee tips, or other non-income amounts, the reporting should be straightforward, as amounts captured on Form 1099-K should already be included in taxable income. However, taxpayers, whose credit card receipts include sales tax, employee tips, or other non-income amounts, will need to track non-income amounts collected throughout the year to adjust out of income.

Although Forms 1099-K will be sent out for 2011, IRS has delayed the business tax return reporting requirements to 2012 returns.

This means that calendar year taxpayers with credit card and/or TPN sales need to consider how they will gather the information for reporting such transactions beginning January 1, 2012. It is important that taxpayers track credit card and TPN payments to be able to identify gross credit card payments and adjustments (sales tax, employee tips, etc.) for 2012 reporting.

Gross credit card collections should be reported in their own separate general ledger account.  Taxpayers, whose credit card receipts include sales tax, employee tips, or other non-income amounts, will need to be able to separate or identify these reconciling items on a monthly basis from the credit card collections received.

Contact us at (219) 769-3616 or e-mail your questions to

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Enhanced Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) for Hiring Qualified Veterans

The tax credit for businesses that hire unemployed veterans has been enhanced now that the president has signed into law H.R. 674, the “3% Withholding Repeal and Job Creation Act.” The Act extends the qualifying period for hiring veterans, broadens the categories of veterans qualifying for the work opportunity credit, “fast-tracks” the qualification process for qualified veterans, and provides tax-exempt employers with a credit against payroll taxes for hiring qualified veterans.

The credit amount varies with how long the veterans have been unemployed.
It’s 40% of the first $14,000 of pay for veterans ($24,000 if disabled)
who have been jobless for six months or more in the year before they
were hired, and 40% of the first $6,000 of wages for veterans who have
been out of work at least four weeks but less than six months. The credit
applies for eligible veterans starting work after November 21, 2011 and before January 1, 2013. Tax exempt groups can take the credit as an offset against social security payroll taxes.

To be a “qualified” veteran, certain information must be gathered by the employer on or before the day a job offer is made. Currently, the information must submitted to your state workforce agency on Form 8850 no later
than the 28th day after the applicant begins work for you to certify that 
the individual is a member of a targeted group for purposes of the work opportunity credit. Please see the Department of Labor website for the
Please call us at (219) 769-3616 with your questions or e-mail them to:

Mark Your Calendar

31 – Employers must furnish W-2 statements to employees. 1099 information
statements must be provided to payees. (1099B and consolidated statements must be provided by February 15.)
31 – Employers must file 2011 federal unemployment tax returns and pay any tax due.

28 – Payers must file information returns (such as 1099s) with the IRS.*
29 – Employers must send W-2 copies to the Social Security Administration.*

1 – Farmers and fishermen who did not make 2011 estimated tax payments must file 2011 tax returns and pay taxes in full.
15 – Deadline for calendar-year corporations to elect S status for 2012.
15 – 2011 calendar-year corporation income tax returns are due.

*April 2 if filing electronically.

Contact us at (219) 769-3616 or e-mail your questions to