Friday, September 25, 2009

Tax-Related Provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”) was enacted in February, 2009 by the 111th Congress. Based largely on proposals made by President Obama, ARRA was intended to furnish a stimulus package to the U.S. economy in the form of various measures having a value of approximately $787 billion. These measures include a variety of federal tax cuts, increases in unemployment benefits, and spending in the areas of health care, education, social welfare, and infrastructure projects.

I am going to look at some of the key provision that were enacted to help individuals.

First-Time Homebuyer Credit. This credit applies to first-time homebuyers who purchased their homes in 2008 or 2009. The credit:

  • Applies to purchases that close after April 8, 2008, and before Dec. 1, 2009.

  • Applies only to homes used as a taxpayer's principal residence.

  • Reduces a taxpayer's tax bill or increases his or her refund, dollar for dollar.

  • Is fully refundable, meaning the credit will be paid out to eligible taxpayers, even if they owe no tax or the credit is more than the tax owed.

According to US News and World Report, existing home sales rose in July for the fourth time in as many months, something the market hasn't seen since 2004. Inventory totals are off their record levels of a year ago. And prices, while still declining sharply, are no longer in free fall. However, the looming expiration of a popular federal tax credit has some worried that the housing market may give back its recent gains, and the real estate and home building industries are pushing lawmakers to extend the incentive.

Making Work Pay Tax Credit. This tax credit means more take-home pay for many Americans. To make sure enough tax is withheld from their pay, taxpayers can use the IRS withholding calculator. The Making Work Pay tax credit, normally a maximum of $400 for working individuals and $800 for working married couples, is reduced by the amount of any Economic Recovery Payment ($250 per eligible recipient of Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Railroad Retirement or Veteran's benefits) or Special Credit for Certain Government Retirees ($250 per eligible federal or state retiree) that you receive. If you are affected by this reduction, you should review your withholding to ensure that sufficient funds have been withheld to meet your tax obligation.

Money Back for New Vehicle Purchases. Taxpayers who buy certain new vehicles in 2009 can deduct the state and local sales taxes they paid or other taxes and fees they paid in states with no sales tax. ARRA permits taxpayers to take a deduction for state and local sales and excise taxes paid on the purchase of new cars, light trucks, motor homes and motorcycles. The deduction is available on new vehicles purchased from Feb. 17, 2009, through Dec. 31, 2009. In states that don't have a sales tax, the law provides a deduction for other taxes or fees paid. This deduction is available whether or not a taxpayer itemizes deductions on Schedule A. Anyone who took advantage of the cash for clunkers program and purchased a new car should not forget this tax deduction.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

NY Mets Pitcher Jerry Koosman goes To Jail For Tax Evasion

A serious blemish on an otherwise outstanding life.” That’s what U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb said recently when she sentenced former Mets pitcher Jerry Koosman, age 66, to prison for tax evasion. Her comments are not surprising when you consider that, unlike most celebrities who get caught not paying their fair share, Koosman not only pleaded guilty and apologized as well.
Read complete story at Accountingweb