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