How Employers Should Handle Repayment of Deferred Payroll Taxes

For businesses large and small, staying in the black during the COVID-19 pandemic required an immense amount of skill, strategy and cost-cutting measures. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed in March 2020, provided relief measures to help businesses and individuals survive their economic challenges.

One of these relief measures, the Deferred Payroll Tax, gave employers the option to defer their portion of Social Security taxes while business remained slow or stopped. This option was different from the additional executive order signed by President Donald Trump in August 2020 which allowed employees to defer their Social Security taxes.

Normally, employees and employers pay a combined 12.4 percent of each paycheck to the federal government for Social Security, with 6.2 percent by employers and 6.2 percent by employees. For employees, this is usually labeled FICA tax on pay stubs (FICA stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act).

With businesses being hit hard by the pandemic, the federal government offered the option for employers to suspend payment of their half of these taxes, which many businesses decided to do to stay afloat.

For employers who opted in: it is now time to pay back the money owed. Repayment for these deferred loans began January 1, 2021, and these taxes need to be repaid by the end of this year (technically January 3, 2022, as December 31, 2021 is a holiday) to avoid any penalties from the federal government.

The IRS has made it clear that penalties and interest will apply to any unpaid balance of the deferred portion not paid on time, and that for employees who no longer work at the company or organization, the employer is entirely responsible for the deferred amount, both for their portion and the employees’ portion.

If you’re an employer who opted to defer your taxes, planning your repayment schedule needs to start now. Calculate the amount that you have due and set aside a portion of revenue to help fulfill this need during the next few months. More information about specific deadlines, and where to send your payments, is available on the IRS website. Your tax professional can also answer your specific questions, and help you make a plan.

With all the stress of the pandemic, accounting for your deferred payments doesn’t have to be challenging. Donohoo Accounting Services has more than 20 years of experience helping clients resolve their tax and financial issues. Contact us today or call 513-528-3982 for more information about repaying deferred payroll taxes, or to schedule a free consultation. We’re excited to serve you! For more tips and our latest updates, check us out on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn!

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Six Credit Score Myths You Need to Know

If you’re like most people, you know the basics of what a credit score is for and how it works. Your score is a make-or-break determinant of whether you qualify for a loan and there are key things to know, and to avoid, concerning your score. Let’s debunk a few of the myths around credit scoring to put control in your hands, and avoid any potential harm to your score.

CREDIT MYTH #1: There’s only one credit score

There are actually thousands of formulas for calculating credit. Depending on what score your potential lender uses, your score could vary. However, FICO scores are most common, and widely available online.

CREDIT MYTH #2: Checking your credit score can lower your score

Only hard inquiries from lenders can lower your score. When you check your credit score, there is no impact on your credit. Hard inquiries, however, are flags on your account when a lender accesses your credit history, and can lower your score because it indicates you may be increasing the amount of your credit. Do this too often and you can be seen as a risk to financial institutions.

CREDIT MYTH #3: Lowering your debt will immediately raise your score

It depends on the type of debt you pay off, and your credit limits. Paying off debt is important, and often high debt can result in a lower score. Keeping your credit card balances low, for example, can help to keep your score high.

CREDIT MYTH #4: Your job impacts your score

The job you have and how much money you make a month has no direct impact on your credit score. However, the bank or loan company may want to see your proof of employment and a few paystubs to ensure that you have a steady source of income. This can help people who are building their credit score by proving they have the funds available to pay off the loan.

CREDIT MYTH #5: Closing your credit cards will raise your score

Potential lenders are more concerned with how much credit you are using rather than how much you could be using. Closing a credit card could actually lower your score because it decreases the amount of credit you have. Remember, your credit score is all about giving lenders a blueprint for how you manage your money. If you have nothing to show them, they can’t draw up a plan.

As a leading accounting services firm in Cincinnati, Donohoo Accounting Services strives to make our clients feel comfortable discussing their tax situation and finances. Still have questions about your credit score, and how you can improve it? Let’s get you on track! Contact us today or give us a call at 513-528-3982 to schedule a free consultation! For more tips and our latest updates, check us out on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn!

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Spring Clean Your Financial Documents

With tax season upon us and the hint of Spring around the corner, now is the perfect time to focus your spring-cleaning efforts on your financial documents and be ready for the year ahead. Here’s what we recommend you do:

Have A System

Store all of your important papers all in one place. A traditional filing cabinet works great, with separate folders allocated for your utility bills, pay stubs, bank statements, credit card statements and investment information.

Keep similar statements together so you can find what you need quickly. Safely store your important documents in a fireproof and water-resistant container.

To Keep Or Not To Keep

You don’t have to keep everything forever. Here are some rules of thumb to guide you.

          • Utility bills. Keep these for about a year in case there is a billing question that comes up.
          • Pay stubs. Hang on to these for a year, too, or until you can cross reference it to your year-end W-2 statement.
          • Bank statements. Keep these for one year unless you plan to apply for a car or home loan, then keep two years of statements. Lenders typically ask for two years’ worth of statements, and many banks give you free access only to the past six months.
          • Credit card statements. You can typically pitch credit card statements that are older than a year unless you’ve used them to pay for home office or home improvement expenses. If they impact your taxes, keep those statements until you sell your home.
          • Investments. You can throw out the monthly or quarterly statements if you have the yearly statements, but hold on to statements that show trading confirmations.
          • Tax records. Keep all of your tax returns and the supporting documents for at least three years. The IRS can challenge returns for the previous six years if they suspect you haven’t reported income, so you may want to play it safe and hang on to them for six years, especially if you are self-employed. Returns that are decades old and several residences in the past will likely not be needed.
          • Other important documents. There are some documents you will keep forever—birth certificates, marriage licenses, estate planning, death certificates, etc. These documents should be kept in a place that protects them from flood, fires and theft.

Shred

When you have identified what you no longer need to keep and store, don’t just throw them in the trash. Shred them. This will protect you from identity theft, an all too common and devastating problem that results when dumpster divers go through your trash in search of personal information. Then they use it to make purchases or apply for new credit cards.

Donohoo Accounting Services is here to help you with your financial paperwork, tax preparation and business and personal tax returns. If you have questions about which financial documents you should keep, which you should get rid of, or if you need help with your taxes, give us a call at 513-528-3982. We would be happy to assist. For more tips and our latest updates, check us out on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn!

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Mortgage Refinancing 101

Even before you’re ready to replace your current home loan with a new loan, you may be asking yourself, “Where do I start? Who should I talk to? What documents will I need?” In other words, the mortgage refinancing process may seem a bit overwhelming. The good news is there are steps to refinancing that are simple to follow. Take a look at the five steps below to begin your walk down the path to refinancing your home mortgage.

Set Your Re-fi Goals

Just like any other journey, the route to mortgage refinancing must have a destination. Some common refinancing goals include lowering your monthly payment, paying down the principal, withdrawing the equity in your home to pay off high-interest debt, and shortening the term of the loan. If you’re planning to move in five years or more, you may have other goals like re-investing the equity in smart improvements to increase your home’s resale value.

Know Your Credit Score

Having a great credit score usually translates into securing an excellent interest rate. That’s why knowing your credit score before you refinance is important. Does your credit score need some work? Take the time and effort to improve it. You may save yourself thousands of dollars over the term of your mortgage by earning a lower interest rate. A full credit report including your credit score is usually available free of charge from your bank and from many online resources.

Determine Your Home’s Equity

Before you refinance, call your lender to determine the payoff on your current mortgage. Then, have a trusted real estate agent show you a list of comparable properties (similar in size, age and updates in your neighborhood) that recently sold. Knowing the current market value of your home and subtracting what you owe on your current mortgage will help you determine the equity you have before you refinance.

Research Interest Rates

Knowing in advance the interest rates offered by various lenders will give you an advantage when you decide to refinance. Rates often differ by what seem like small amounts, but those fractions of percentage points add up over time. As well, depending on the type of loans you may qualify for, different home loan programs, such as VA, FHA, USDA and conventional offer different interest rates. Do your homework: research the best mortgage loans with the lowest rates that meet your needs.

Gather Your Money and Documents

Before applying to refinance your home mortgage, collect the necessary documents and data about your debt and assets, including income tax returns, W2s, bank statements, credit reports and personal identification. Also, be ready to pay closing costs by setting aside money in advance (about two to five percent of the appraised market value of your home).

With more than 20 years of experience helping individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations with their finances, Donohoo Accounting Services is here to help you with your tax planning, tax filing and accounting needs. If you would like to set up a free consultation, contact us at 513-528-3982. For more tips and our latest updates, check us out on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn!

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