Effective: February 7, 2022
Your Stuff & Your Permissions
When you use our Services, you provide us with things like your files, content, messages, contacts, and so on ("Your Stuff"). Your Stuff is yours. These Terms don’t give us any rights to Your Stuff except for the limited rights that enable us to offer the Services.
We need your permission to do things like hosting Your Stuff, backing it up, and sharing it when you ask us to. Our Services also provide you with features like eSign, file sharing, email newsletters, appointment setting and more. These and other features may require our systems to access, store, and scan Your Stuff. You give us permission to do those things, and this permission extends to our affiliates and trusted third parties we work with.
Sharing Your Stuff
Our Services let you share Your Stuff with others, so please think carefully about what you share.
You’re responsible for your conduct. Your Stuff and you must comply with applicable laws. Content in the Services may be protected by others’ intellectual property rights. Please don’t copy, upload, download, or share content unless you have the right to do so. We may review your conduct and content for compliance with these Terms. With that said, we have no obligation to do so. We aren’t responsible for the content people post and share via the Services.
Help us keep you informed and Your Stuff protected. Safeguard your password to the Services, and keep your account information current. Don’t share your account credentials or give others access to your account.
You may use our Services only as permitted by applicable law, including export control laws and regulations. Finally, to use our Services, you must be at least 13, or in some cases, even older. If you live in France, Germany, or the Netherlands, you must be at least 16. Please check your local law for the age of digital consent. If you don’t meet these age requirements, you may not use the Services.
Some of our Services allow you to download client software (“Software”) which may update automatically. So long as you comply with these Terms, we give you a limited, nonexclusive, nontransferable, revocable license to use the Software, solely to access the Services. To the extent any component of the Software may be offered under an open source license, we’ll make that license available to you and the provisions of that license may expressly override some of these Terms. Unless the following restrictions are prohibited by law, you agree not to reverse engineer or decompile the Services, attempt to do so, or assist anyone in doing so.
We sometimes release products and features that we are still testing and evaluating. Those Services have been marked beta, preview, early access, or evaluation (or with words or phrases with similar meanings) and may not be as reliable as other non-beta services, so please keep that in mind.
The Services are protected by copyright, trademark, and other US and foreign laws. These Terms don’t grant you any right, title, or interest in the Services, others’ content in the Services, CountingWorks and our trademarks, logos and other brand features. We welcome feedback, but note that we may use comments or suggestions without any obligation to you.
We respect the intellectual property of others and ask that you do too. We respond to notices of alleged copyright infringement if they comply with the law, and such notices should be reported to legal@CountingWorks.com. We reserve the right to delete or disable content alleged to be infringing and terminate accounts of repeat infringers. Our designated agent for notice of alleged copyright infringement on the Services is:
You’re free to stop using our Services at any time. We reserve the right to suspend or terminate your access to the Services with notice to you if:
We won’t provide notice before termination where:
Discontinuation of Services
We may decide to discontinue the Services in response to unforeseen circumstances beyond CountingWorks control or to comply with a legal requirement. If we do so, we’ll give you reasonable prior notice so that you can export Your Stuff from our systems.
Services “AS IS”
We strive to provide great Services, but there are certain things that we can't guarantee. TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, CountingWorks AND ITS AFFILIATES, SUPPLIERS AND DISTRIBUTORS MAKE NO WARRANTIES, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, ABOUT THE SERVICES. THE SERVICES ARE PROVIDED "AS IS." WE ALSO DISCLAIM ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, AND NON-INFRINGEMENT. Some places don’t allow the disclaimers in this paragraph, so they may not apply to you.
Limitation of Liability
WE DON’T EXCLUDE OR LIMIT OUR LIABILITY TO YOU WHERE IT WOULD BE ILLEGAL TO DO SO—THIS INCLUDES ANY LIABILITY FOR CountingWorks OR ITS AFFILIATES’ FRAUD OR FRAUDULENT MISREPRESENTATION IN PROVIDING THE SERVICES. IN COUNTRIES WHERE THE FOLLOWING TYPES OF EXCLUSIONS AREN’T ALLOWED, WE'RE RESPONSIBLE TO YOU ONLY FOR LOSSES AND DAMAGES THAT ARE A REASONABLY FORESEEABLE RESULT OF OUR FAILURE TO USE REASONABLE CARE AND SKILL OR OUR BREACH OF OUR CONTRACT WITH YOU. THIS PARAGRAPH DOESN’T AFFECT CONSUMER RIGHTS THAT CAN'T BE WAIVED OR LIMITED BY ANY CONTRACT OR AGREEMENT.
IN COUNTRIES WHERE EXCLUSIONS OR LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY ARE ALLOWED, CountingWorks, ITS AFFILIATES, SUPPLIERS OR DISTRIBUTORS WON’T BE LIABLE FOR:
THESE EXCLUSIONS OR LIMITATIONS WILL APPLY REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT CountingWorks OR ANY OF ITS AFFILIATES HAS BEEN WARNED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.
IF YOU USE THE SERVICES FOR ANY COMMERCIAL, BUSINESS, OR RE-SALE PURPOSE, CountingWorks, ITS AFFILIATES, SUPPLIERS OR DISTRIBUTORS WILL HAVE NO LIABILITY TO YOU FOR ANY LOSS OF PROFIT, LOSS OF BUSINESS, BUSINESS INTERRUPTION, OR LOSS OF BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY. CountingWorks AND ITS AFFILIATES AREN’T RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONDUCT, WHETHER ONLINE OR OFFLINE, OF ANY USER OF THE SERVICES.
Let’s Try To Sort Things Out First. We want to address your concerns without needing a formal legal case. Before filing a claim against CountingWorks or our affiliates, you agree to try to resolve the dispute informally by contacting legal@CountingWorks.com. We’ll try to resolve the dispute informally by contacting you via email.
Judicial forum for disputes. You and CountingWorks agree that any judicial proceeding to resolve claims relating to these Terms or the Services will be brought in the federal or state courts of Orange County, California, subject to the mandatory arbitration provisions below. Both you and CountingWorks consent to venue and personal jurisdiction in such courts. If you reside in a country (for example, European Union member states) with laws that give consumers the right to bring disputes in their local courts, this paragraph doesn’t affect those requirements.
IF YOU’RE A U.S. RESIDENT, YOU ALSO AGREE TO THE FOLLOWING MANDATORY ARBITRATION PROVISIONS:
These Terms will be governed by California law except for its conflicts of laws principles. However, some countries (including those in the European Union) have laws that require agreements to be governed by the local laws of the consumer's country. This paragraph doesn’t override those laws.
These Terms constitute the entire agreement between you and CountingWorks with respect to the subject matter of these Terms, and supersede and replace any other prior or contemporaneous agreements, or terms and conditions applicable to the subject matter of these Terms. These Terms create no third party beneficiary rights.
Waiver, Severability & Assignment
CountingWorks failure to enforce a provision is not a waiver of its right to do so later. If a provision is found unenforceable, the remaining provisions of the Terms will remain in full effect and an enforceable term will be substituted reflecting our intent as closely as possible. You may not assign any of your rights under these Terms, and any such attempt will be void. CountingWorks may assign its rights to any of its affiliates or subsidiaries, or to any successor in interest of any business associated with the Services.
We may revise these Terms from time to time to better reflect:
If an update affects your use of the Services or your legal rights as a user of our Services, we’ll notify you prior to the update's effective date by sending an email to the email address associated with your account or via an in-product notification. These updated terms will be effective no less than 30 days from when we notify you.
If you don’t agree to the updates we make, please cancel your account before they become effective. By continuing to use or access the Services after the updates come into effect, you agree to be bound by the revised Terms.
Effective: February 7, 2022
Thanks for visiting our website. Our mission is to create a web based experience that makes it easier for us to work together. Here we describe how we collect, use, and handle your personal information when you use our websites, software, and services (“Services”).
What & Why
We collect and use the following information to provide, improve, and protect our Services:
Account information. We collect, and associate with your account, the information you provide to us when you do things such as sign up for your account, opt-in to our client newsletter or request an appointment (like your name, email address, phone number, and physical address). Some of our Services let you access your accounts and your information via other service providers.
Your Stuff. Our Services are designed to make it simple for you to store your files, documents, comments, messages, and so on (“Your Stuff”), collaborate with others, and work across multiple devices. To make that possible, we store, process, and transmit Your Stuff as well as information related to it. This related information includes your profile information that makes it easier to collaborate and share Your Stuff with others, as well as things like the size of the file, the time it was uploaded, collaborators, and usage activity. Our Services provide you with different options for sharing Your Stuff.
Contacts. You may choose to give us access to your contacts (spouse or other company staff) to make it easy for you to do things like share and collaborate on Your Stuff, send messages, and invite others to use the Services. If you do, we’ll store those contacts on our servers for you to use.
Usage information. We collect information related to how you use the Services, including actions you take in your account (like sharing, viewing, and moving files or folders). We use this information to improve our Services, develop new services and features, and protect our users.
Cookies and other technologies. We use technologies like cookies to provide, improve, protect, and promote our Services. For example, cookies help us with things like remembering your username for your next visit, understanding how you are interacting with our Services, and improving them based on that information. You can set your browser to not accept cookies, but this may limit your ability to use the Services.
Marketing. We give users the option to use some of our Services free of charge. These free Services are made possible by the fact that some users upgrade to one of our paid Services. If you register for our free Services, we will, from time to time, send you information about the firm or tax and accounting tips when permissible. Users who receive these marketing materials can opt out at any time. If you do not want to receive marketing materials from us, simply click the ‘unsubscribe’ link in any email.
We sometimes contact people who do not have an account. For recipients in the EU, we or a third party will obtain consent before contacting you. If you receive an email and no longer wish to be contacted by us, you can unsubscribe and remove yourself from our contact list via the message itself.
Bases for processing your data. We collect and use the personal data described above in order to provide you with the Services in a reliable and secure manner. We also collect and use personal data for our legitimate business needs. To the extent we process your personal data for other purposes, we ask for your consent in advance or require that our partners obtain such consent.
We may share information as discussed below, but we won’t sell it to advertisers or other third parties.
Other users. Our Services display information like your name, profile picture, device, and email address to other users in places like your user profile and sharing notifications. You can also share Your Stuff with other users if you choose. When you register your account with an email address on a domain owned by your employer or organization, we may help collaborators and administrators find you and your team by making some of your basic information—like your name, team name, profile picture, and email address—visible to other users on the same domain. This helps you sync up with teams you can join and helps other users share files and folders with you. Certain features let you make additional information available to others.
Team Admins. If you are a user of a team, your administrator may have the ability to access and control your team account. Please refer to your organization’s internal policies if you have questions about this. If you are not a team user but interact with a team user (by, for example, joining a shared folder or accessing stuff shared by that user), members of that organization may be able to view the name, email address, profile picture, and IP address that was associated with your account at the time of that interaction.
Law & Order and the Public Interest. We may disclose your information to third parties if we determine that such disclosure is reasonably necessary to: (a) comply with any applicable law, regulation, legal process, or appropriate government request; (b) protect any person from death or serious bodily injury; (c) prevent fraud or abuse of our platform or our users; (d) protect our rights, property, safety, or interest; or (e) perform a task carried out in the public interest.
Stewardship of your data is critical to us and a responsibility that we embrace. We believe that your data should receive the same legal protections regardless of whether it’s stored on our Services or on your home computer’s hard drive. We’ll abide by Government Request Policies when receiving, scrutinizing, and responding to government requests (including national security requests) for your data:
Security. We have a team dedicated to keeping your information secure and testing for vulnerabilities. We also continue to work on features to keep your information safe in addition to things like blocking repeated login attempts, encryption of files at rest, and alerts when new devices and apps are linked to your account. We deploy automated technologies to detect abusive behavior and content that may harm our Services, you, or other users.
User Controls. You can access, amend, download, and delete your personal information by logging into your account.
Retention. When you sign up for an account with us, we’ll retain information you store on our Services for as long as your account is in existence or as long as we need it to provide you the Services. If you delete your account, we will initiate deletion of this information after 30 days. But please note: (1) there might be some latency in deleting this information from our servers and back-up storage; and (2) we may retain this information if necessary to comply with our legal obligations, resolve disputes, or enforce our agreements.
Around the world. To provide you with the Services, we may store, process, and transmit information in the United States and locations around the world—including those outside your country. Information may also be stored locally on the devices you use to access the Services.
EU-U.S. Privacy Shield and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield. When transferring data from the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland, We rely upon a variety of legal mechanisms, including contracts with our customers and affiliates. We comply with the EU-U.S. and Swiss–U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks as set forth by the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding the collection, use, and retention of personal information transferred from the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland to the United States.
We are subject to oversight by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. JAMS is the US-based independent organization responsible for reviewing and resolving complaints about our Privacy Shield compliance—free of charge to you. We ask that you first submit any such complaints directly to us via privacy@CountingWorks.com. If you aren’t satisfied with our response, please contact JAMS at https://www.jamsadr.com/eu-us-privacy-shield. In the event your concern still isn’t addressed by JAMS, you may be entitled to a binding arbitration under Privacy Shield and its principles.
If we are involved in a reorganization, merger, acquisition, or sale of our assets, your information may be transferred as part of that deal.
Your Right to Control and Access Your Information
You have control over your personal information and how it is collected, used, and shared. For example, you have a right to:
Your personal information is controlled by CountingWorks, Inc. Have questions or concerns about CountingWorks, our Services, and privacy? Contact our Data Protection Officer at privacy@CountingWorks.com. If they can’t answer your question, you have the right to contact your local data protection supervisory authority.
Third Party Vendors
Amazon Web Services
Updated: June 2020.
strives to ensure that its services are accessible to people with disabilities. has invested a significant amount of resources to help ensure that its website is made easier to use and more accessible for people with disabilities, with the strong belief that every person has the right to live with dignity, equality, comfort and independence.
makes available the UserWay Website Accessibility Widget that is powered by a dedicated accessibility server. The software allows us to improve its compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1).
Enabling the Accessibility Menu
The accessibility menu can be enabled either by hitting the tab key when the page first loads or by clicking the accessibility menu icon that appears on the corner of the page. After triggering the accessibility menu, please wait a moment for the accessibility menu to load in its entirety.
continues its efforts to constantly improve the accessibility of its site and services in the belief that it is our collective moral obligation to allow seamless, accessible and unhindered use also for those of us with disabilities.
In an ongoing effort to continually improve and remediate accessibility issues, we also regularly scan with UserWay's Accessibility Scanner to identify and fix every possible accessibility barrier on our site. Despite our efforts to make all pages and content on fully accessible, some content may not have yet been fully adapted to the strictest accessibility standards. This may be a result of not having found or identified the most appropriate technological solution.
Here For You
If you are experiencing difficulty with any content on or require assistance with any part of our site, please contact us during normal business hours as detailed below and we will be happy to assist.
If you wish to report an accessibility issue, have any questions or need assistance, please contact customer support.
Buying a Home
Having or Adopting Children
Death of Spouse
Throughout your life there will be certain significant occasions that will impact not only your day-to-day living but also your taxes. Here are a few of those events:
Getting Married – If you just got married or are considering getting married, you need to be aware that once you are married you no longer file returns using the single status and generally will file a combined return with your new spouse using the married filing jointly (MFJ) status. When you file MFJ all of the income of both spouses is combined on one return, and where both spouses have substantial income, that could mean your combined incomes could put you in a higher tax bracket. However, when filing MFJ you also benefit by being able to claim a standard deduction equal to twice that of the standard deduction for a single taxpayer. It may be appropriate for a couple planning a wedding, or even those who just got married, to estimate differences of filing as unmarried and filing married so there are no unpleasant surprises at tax filing time. It may be appropriate to adjust withholding to compensate for the MFJ status.
Be mindful that filing status is determined on the last day of the tax year, so no matter when you get married during the year you will be considered married for the entire year for tax purposes. Once married here are some tasks that should be done:
Notify the Social Security Administration − Report any name change to the Social Security Administration so that your name and SSN will match when you file your next tax return. Informing the SSA of a name change is quite simple and can be done on the SSA’s website. Alternatively, you can call the SSA at 800-772-1213 or visit a local SSA office. Your income tax refund may be delayed if it is discovered that your name and SSN don’t match at the time your return is filed.
Notify the IRS - If you have a new address, you should notify the IRS by completing and sending in Form 8822, Change of Address.
Notify the U.S. Postal Service - You should also notify the U.S. Postal Service of any address change so that any correspondence from the IRS or state tax agency can be forwarded to your correct address.
Notify the Health Insurance Marketplace – If either or both of you are obtaining health insurance through a government health insurance marketplace, your combined incomes and change in family size could reduce the amount of the premium tax credit to which you would otherwise be entitled, requiring payback of some or all of the credit applied in advance to reduce your monthly premiums. More complicated yet, if either or both of you are included on your parents’ marketplace policy, those insurance premiums must be allocated from their return to your return.
Here are a few tax-related items you should be aware of when filing a joint return:
• New Spouse’s Past Liabilities – If your new spouse owes back taxes, past state income tax liabilities or past-due child support or has unemployment debts to a state, the IRS will apply your future joint refunds to pay those debts. If you are not responsible for your spouse’s debt and do not want your share of any tax refund used to pay your spouse’s past debts, you are entitled to request your portion of the refund back from the IRS by filing an “injured spouse” allocation form. As an alternative, you can file separately using the “married filing separate” filing status; however, that generally results in higher overall tax.
Capital Loss Limitations – If an individual has sold stock or other investment property at a loss, when filing as unmarried, each individual can deduct up to $3,000 of capital losses on their tax return for a possible combined total of $6,000, but a married couple is limited to a single $3,000 loss and if they file married separate, then the limit is $1,500 each.
Spousal IRA – Contributions to “Spousal IRAs” are available for married taxpayers who file jointly where one spouse has little or no compensation; the deduction is limited to the lesser of 100% of the employed spouse’s compensation or $6,000 (2022) for the spousal IRA. That permits a combined annual IRA contribution limit of a certain amount (up to$12,000 for 2022). The maximum amount is $7,000 if you or your spouse is age 50 or older ($14,000 if you are both 50+). However, the deduction for contributions to both spouses’ IRAs may be further limited if either spouse is covered by an employer’s retirement plan.
Deductions – The standard deduction in 2022 for a married couple (both spouses under age 65) is $25,900 and for a single individual is $12,950. So, if both of you have been taking the standard deduction, there is no loss in deductions. However, if in past years one of you had enough deductions to itemize and the other took the standard deduction, and after your marriage you’ll be filing jointly, you would either have to take the joint standard deduction or itemize, which likely will result in a loss of some amount of deductions.
Impact on Parents’ Returns – If your parents have been claiming either of you as a dependent, they will generally lose that benefit. In addition, if you are in college and qualify for one of the education credits, those credits are only deductible on the return where your personal exemption is used. That generally means your parents will not be able to claim the education credits even if they paid the tuition. On the flip side, unless your income is too high, you will be able to claim the credit even though your parents paid the tuition.
Buying a Home – Buying a home, especially your first home, can be a trying experience. Without a landlord to take care of repairs and upkeep of the property those tasks will become your responsibility as a home owner. When you rent, you are responsible for making a rental payment which is not tax deductible. On the other hand, when you own a home, in addition to being responsible for its maintenance, you have to make homeowner’s insurance, mortgage, and real property tax payments. While routine upkeep costs aren’t tax deductible, the interest on the mortgage and the property taxes you pay may be tax deductible, providing you with a significant saving in income tax. However, if the standard deduction amount for your filing status exceeds the total of all itemized deductions the law allows you to claim, you won’t get a tax benefit from the home mortgage interest and property tax payments. So, when figuring if you can afford a home be sure to take into account whether you’ll benefit from those home-related tax savings.
Also consider the long-term benefits of home ownership. Homes have generally appreciated in value in the past, so you can look forward to your home gaining value, and when you sell it, the gain up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a married couple) can be excluded from income if the property has been owned and used as your primary residence for any 2 of the 5 years just prior to the sale.
Many taxpayers don’t feel the need to keep home improvement records, thinking the potential gain will never exceed the amount of the exclusion for home gains ($250,000 or $500,000 if both filer and spouse qualify) if they meet the 2-out-of-5-year use and ownership tests. Here are some situations when having home improvement records could save taxes:
(1) The home is owned for a long period of time, and the combination of appreciation in value due to inflation and improvements exceeds the exclusion amount.
(2) The home is converted to a rental property, and the cost and improvements of the home are needed to establish the depreciable basis of the property.
(3) The home is converted to a second residence, and the exclusion might not apply to the sale.
(4) You suffer a casualty loss and retain the home after making repairs.
(5) The home is sold before meeting the 2-year use and ownership requirements.
(6) The home only qualifies for a reduced exclusion because the home is sold before meeting the 2-year use and ownership requirements.
(7) One spouse retains the home after a divorce and is only entitled to a $250,000 exclusion instead of the $500,000 exclusion available to married couples.
(8) There are future tax law changes that could affect the exclusion amounts.
Everyone hates to keep records but consider the consequences if you have a gain and a portion of it cannot be excluded. You will be hit with capital gains (CG), and there is a good chance the CG tax rate will be higher than normal simply because the gain pushed you into a higher CG tax bracket.
Having or Adopting Children – Besides the loss of sleep, changing diapers, middle of the night feedings, and constant attention, a new born also brings some tax benefits, including a maximum $2,000 child tax credit which can go a long way in reducing your tax liability. If both spouses work, you will no doubt incur child care expenses which can result in a maximum (can be less) credit of between $600 and $1,050 for one child or twice those amounts for two or more children. The credit amounts are based on a maximum child care expense of $3,000 for one child and $6,000 for two or more multiplied by 20 to 35 percent of the expense based upon a taxpayer’s income. (The amounts noted apply for 2022; there were temporary increases in the credits as part of Covid pandemic relief for 2021. Congress may extend the enhanced credits.)
Of course, the medical expenses are deductible if you itemize your deductions but only to the extent the medical expenses exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. Although rarely encountered, the expense of a surrogate mother is not deductible.
If you adopt a child under age 18 or a person physically or mentally incapable of taking care of himself or herself, you may be eligible for a tax credit for qualified adoption expenses you paid. The credit, which is a maximum of $14,890 for 2022, is not refundable, but if the credit is more than your income tax, you can carry over the excess and have 5 years to use up the credit. If the child is a special needs child, the full credit limit will be allowed for the tax year in which the adoption becomes final, regardless of whether you had qualified adoption expenses. The credit phases out for higher income taxpayers.
It is also time to begin planning for the child’s future education. The tax code offers two tax favored education savings accounts, the Coverdell account allowing a maximum contribution of $2,000 per year and the Qualified State Tuition plan, more commonly referred to as a Sec 529 plan, which allows large sums of money to be put aside for a child’s education. There is no federal tax deduction for contributing to either of these programs, but the earnings from the plans are tax-free if used for qualified education expenses, so the sooner the funds are contributed the greater the benefit from tax-free earnings.
Getting Divorced - If you are recently divorced or are contemplating divorce, you will have to deal with or plan for significant tax issues such as asset division, alimony, and tax-return filing status. If you have children, additional issues include child support; claiming of the children as dependents; the child, child care, and education tax credits; and perhaps even the earned income tax credit. Here are some details:
• Filing Status – As mentioned earlier your filing status is based on your marital status at the end of the year. If, on December 31, you are in the process of divorcing but are not yet divorced, your options are to file jointly or for each spouse to submit a return as married filing separately. There is an exception to this rule if a couple has been separated for all of the last 6 months of the year, and if one taxpayer has paid more than half the cost of maintaining a household for a qualified child. In that situation that spouse can use the more favorable head of household filing status. If each spouse meets the criteria for that exception, they can both file as heads of household; otherwise, the spouse who doesn’t qualify must use the status of married filing separately.
If your divorce has been finalized and if you haven’t remarried, your filing status will be single or, if you meet the requirements, head of household.
Child Support – Is support for the taxpayer’s children provided by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent. It is not deductible by the one making the payments and is not income to the recipient parent.
Children’s Dependency – When a court awards physical custody of a child to one parent, the tax law is very specific in awarding that child’s dependency to the parent who has physical custody, regardless of the amount of child support that the other parent provides. However, the custodial parent may release this dependency to the noncustodial parent by completing the appropriate IRS form.
Child Tax Credit – A federal credit of $2,000 is allowed for each child under the age of 17. This credit goes to the parent who claims the child as a dependent. Up to $1,400 of the credit is refundable if the credit exceeds the tax liability. However, this credit phases out for high-income parents, beginning at $200,000 for single parents.
Alimony – For divorce agreements that are finalized after 2018, alimony is not deductible by the payer and is not taxable income for the recipient. Because the recipient isn’t reporting alimony income, he or she cannot treat it as earned income for the purposes of making an IRA contribution.
Tuition Credit – If a child qualifies for either of two higher-education tax credits (the American Opportunity Tax Credit [AOTC] or the Lifetime Learning Credit), the credit goes to whoever claims the child as a dependent even if the other spouse or someone else is paying the tuition and other qualifying expenses.
Death of Spouse - Losing a spouse is difficult emotionally, and unfortunately, can be accompanied by a number of tax issues that may or not apply to the surviving spouse. Here is an overview of some of the more frequent issues:
Filing Status – If a spouse passes away during the year, the surviving spouse can still file a joint return for that year if the surviving spouse has not remarried. However, after the year of death the surviving spouse will no longer be able to jointly file with the deceased spouse and will have to use a less favorable filing status.
Notification – If the deceased spouse is receiving Social Security benefits the Social Security Administration must be immediately notified. Likewise, payers of pensions and retirement plans of the deceased spouse need to be advised of the spouse’s death.
Estate Tax – Where the deceased spouse’s assets and prior reportable gifts exceed the current lifetime inheritance exclusion ($12.06 million for deaths in 2022), an estate tax return may be required. However, the lifetime inheritance exclusion can be changed at the whim of Congress. Even when an estate tax return isn’t required because the value of the deceased spouse’s estate is less than the exclusion amount, it may be appropriate to file the estate tax return anyway, as there could be an impact on the estate tax of the surviving spouse when he or she passes.
Inherited Basis – Under normal circumstances the beneficiary of a decedent’s assets will have a tax basis in those assets equal to the fair market value of the assets on the date of death. Thus, generally a qualified appraisal of the assets is required. However, for a surviving spouse this can be more complicated depending upon whether the state of residence is a community property state and how title to the property was held.
Changing Titles – The title to all jointly held assets needs be changed into the survivor’s name alone to avoid complications in the future.
Trust Income Tax Returns – Many couples have created living trusts that, while they are both alive, don’t require a separate tax return to be filed for the trust and can be revoked. But upon the death of one of the spouses, this trust may split into two trusts, one of which remains revocable and the other becomes irrevocable. A separate income tax return for the latter trust will usually have to be prepared and filed annually.
These are just a few of the issues that must be addressed upon the death of a spouse, and it may be appropriate to seek professional help.
If you have questions about the tax impact of any of your life changing situations, be sure to give this office a call for assistance.