Welcome to www.BowenAccounting.com, providing quality Accounting and tax services to businesses and individuals in the greater Bakersfield area since 1999. "Helping you get to the bottom line!"
2015 Tax Year Signature Forms, Terms, and Worksheets
Signature Forms - If you need help understanding how to sign your signature forms please click here.
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Helpful Tax Links
- Pay the IRS Online
- Pay the Franchise Tax Board Online
- Where to Mail IRS Documents
- Where to Mail Franchinse Tax Board Documents
- Check the status of your IRS Amendment online
- IRS W4 Form 2012
- CA Sectretary of State Business Search
Current News and Updates
1/15/16 - Mostly Silent on the Website
I have been mostly silent on the webiste this year, but it is because I have been very busy. This will change after tax season. The IRS efile system is set to open on 1/19/15, I am have already completed a couple of returns, and I am waiting to see all of you. I hope you are ready for the fun!
IRS Finally Releases a Searchable Preparer Directory
Technically the IRS has only has a list of preparers for a could of years since the released and forced people to comply with the RTRP exam. It would only make sense, that after forcing preparers to complete this very difficult exam, in order to continue to be a federal return filer, that they would create a directory, so people could find certified people in the area. Check it out here. If you are not going to use me, you can at least check out the person you are going to use.
4/30/14 No Medical Insurance Tax Penalty (Individual Shared Responsibility Payment)
As I am sure many of you have heard, this is a tax on people that do not have a minimum amount of insurance coverage beginning 1/1/14, or that do not meet an exemption. The most common exemptions are;
- Minimum coverage costs would be more than 8% of your income (qualified)
- The gap in your coverage is less than three consecutive months
- Other hardships, and belonging to groups that are exempt
The penalty (tax) for not having coverage or meeting an exemption is the greater of 1% of your household income that exceeds the standard deduction (pro rated by total months without coverage), or flat amount of $95 per adult and 47.50 per child limited to $285.
2/4/14 Registered Domestic Partners
The issue of Registered Domestic Partnerships (RDP), a precursor to same sex marriage,
has been on my mind because I have a few clients that are affected by it. I did a little research, and the short answer is that the state of California accepts
RDP's, but the IRS does not. I have provided a couple of links, if you are interested in some reading.
IRS Registered Domestic Partnership FAQ
FTB - What if I'm a domestic partner
1/31/14 eFile System is Open
The IRS was accepting returns a few days early in an attempt to detect and stop program errors before the full flood of returns came in. This appeared to work, because on 1/31/14 all of the returns that I sent were accepted (federal returns... some states still have some issues to work on). So congrats... tax season is open!
1/15/14 2013 Tax Check List
Click here to view and print the 2013 Tax check List. This list is not comprehensive, but it is helpful for the average taxpayer. We are hoping to launch an electronic questionaire prior to the beginning of tax season.
1/10/14 How the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is Going to Effect You
Commonly known as Obamacare, the ACA is going to affect a lot of people. While one of the most important events in the law (the requirement for everyone to be covered by health insurance) began 1/1/14, there has not been any real, easy to discern, information about how this going to affect the average taxpayer. In addition, most effects will not appear until the 2014 tax year, which is over a year away .
What I have learned is that if you do not get 'Minimum Essential Coverage' as of 1/1/14, you can be penalized on your 2014 tax return under the Shared Responsibility Provision. There are several exemptions that would allow you to escape the penalty or the requirement to get the minimum essential coverage including; religious consciense, indian tribe, no filing requirement, hardship, etc. If you want to know more about the types of plans that you can get, you should visit what they are calling The Marketplace, which is a government constructed portal to find minimum essential healthcare plans that are approved. The Maketplace will also allow you to get an exemption if you need one, and will also help you find information about, and even qualify for, some governement sponsored plans like Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
None of the forms related to the Shared Responsibility Provision (otherwise known as a penalty) are available yet. When the final regulations are understood and forms/calculations regarding the actual penalties are issued I will attempt to provide guidance for our clients and readers.
There is also a Premium Tax Credit, which allows people who qualify, generally if you are low income, to receive a credit based upon the health insurance premiums they pay, as long as the policy is issued through The Marketplace. They can even receive this in advance, which means throughout the year (similar to Advanced Earned Income Credit). Check out the link if you want to learn more.
1/12/14 eFile System Delayed
As usual, the finalized tax forms will not be available until late Janauay (1/29/14). The eFile system also will not begin accepting tax returns till about the same time. It is still possible, and reasonable to have your tax prep completed, but if you take this opportunity, you may end up having to resign forms after the fact.
11/26/13 Additional Taxes that are in Effect
The Additional Medicare Tax of .09% will be added to the wages, self-employment income and other compensation of high wage earners, starter 1/1/13.
Also beware of the Net Investment Income Tax, which is an additional 3.8% tax that affects people who earn over $200,000 ($250,000 if married filing joint).
3/31/13 The Badgering Begins
If you are my client, and have not yet filing your tax return.... get to work. The end of tax season is always a busy time for tax preparers, and we want to make sure that you recieve the time and attention that you deserve. Pleas do not wait till the last minute.
1/8/13 American Taxpayer Relief Act & Fiscal Cliff
For those of you that follow the news and may be concerned about the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA), which was passed on 1/1/13, you probably do not need to be. I have reviewed the changes that this act addresses and most of the people affected are multimillionaires who are about to die, their children, their spouses, and people who make over $250,000. Note... Most of these people are affected very favorably by the changes made by this act. If you want to read more about it, here is a website that had a real great summary.
For those of you who have heard about the 'fiscal cliff' scenario, and wanted to understand it, I will provide a very short description of my understanding. As most of you know I do not watch the news or read the paper. I do most of my research on the IRS website and from CPA associations. Thus, this might be a little technical.
A mixture of the extended Bush tax cuts expiring and an agreement to reduce the deficit (the amount of money that the government spends over what it receives in revenue) would have caused an expected recession, though minor, in 2013. The idea was that increase revenue from the expiration of the tax cuts would increase revenue by nearly 20%, and deficit spending would be reduced by .25%. The American Taxpayer Relief Act, mentioned above, undid most of this. The reduction in government spending was expected to cause unemployment to rise, since the government is a very large employer. Cutting employment for some government workers would have been neccessary to reduce the budget deficit while maintainting Social Security pay, medicare benefits, and military/veteran pay. Because the 'fiscal cliff' scenario was basically avoided the budget deficit spending will only decrease by $157 billion instead of the projected $487 billion.
The bottom line is that this news does not affect many people since it was avoided, and if you read between the lines, the tax cuts that were kept for for the super rich (people with estate assetts in excess of $1,000,000). The tax on these estate assetts are the taxes that would have made up the nearly 20% increase in revenue. Many of the other Bush tax cuts for the lower and middle class did expire.
11/1/12 Property Tax Payments
If you live in the Kern County Area and need to pay your property taxes, or find a copy of your bill, you can do it on the Kern County Treasurer-Tax Collector Website. It is very easy to search for your property by ATN or address, add the taxes to a cart, and make a payment using credit/debit or directly from your bank account. If you use your bank account there is no fee.
9/25/12 Professor Blastoff Appearance
I was recently asked to appear as an expert on the comedy/philsophical podcast Professor Blastoff, to speak on the topic of 'wealth'. It was an amazing time, and I think you might enjoy it. Professor Blastoff ep71 - Wealth with Richard Bowen, CPA
Or if you prefer you can download it directly by right clicking on this link and selecting 'save as'.
7/21/12 Video About the Mortgage Bust
A friend sent me a link to this awesome video. If you have had any problems understanding the mortgage crisis, which is tied directly to current economic downturn, check this out. Great production quality, easy to understand, and informative.
7/30/12 Money As Debt Documentary
I watched this documentary a while ago and realized that I can share it with my clients through www.YouTube.com. It is really good at helping explain how debt and use of credit are essentially crippling the long term success of our economy. If the concept of money or financial planning is interesting to you at all please watch this. 'Money As Debt' Documentary on YouTube.
7/1/12 How do you spend your paycheck?
Recently, I have had the opportunity to do some research regarding national average budgets, and ran across this Department of Labor Statistics chart, which breaks down how Americans (on average) spent their paychecks. Generally, they post columns and rows of numbers, but this graphical representation was very powerful, and I thought you might like it. Note: This was posted in 2009.
You can click on the graphic to read more about the breakdown and some interesting analysis.
4/16/12 Helpful Tax link
I have added some helpful links to the top of our Tax News page. Check it out if you need help with any of these items.
- How to sign IRS and FTB signature forms
- Pay the IRS Online
- Pay the Franchise Tax Board Online
- Where to Mail IRS Documents
- Where to Mail Franchinse Tax Board Documents
- CA Sectretary of State Business Search
4/9/12 How to Pay the IRS and FTB
Near the end of tax sesason we process a lot of tax returns that have balances due. It is helpful to be able to tell people where and how to pay the IRS and FTB. Generally, if you owe money we will print you a payment voucher that has your amount due, where to send it, and all of your identifying information. If your balance due is relatively low (under $1,000) we wil usually offer you the option of having it directly withdrawn from your checking account after the return is processed. With this option you can select what date you would like the funds to be withdrawn. In addition to these two options you can also pay using a credit/debit directly through the IRS and FTB sites. Below is a link to these options.
4/1/12 We Will Now Take Plastic
After many requests we have finally decided to start accepting credit cards. It was our hope not to do this to save our clients money, but it is also our goal to be technologically savy, and since most of our clients use plastic only, we will be accepting credit cards from today forward.
2/21/12 StopPodcastingYourself Plug!!!!!!
Oh my goodness! I love those crazy Canadians... They keep me sane while I am preparing your tax returns. We were Hoping to get some fans as clients. We were very lucky to be plugged on the show that had Paul F. Tomkins on it. He is one of my favorite comedians, and he also happens to be American, which can't hurt. If you have never heard the show click here to hear the episode where they plug Bowen Accounting.
2/17/12 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams
Here is an article from the IRS about the most prevelant tax scams that you should be on the lookout for. Identity theft, free money, and phishing scams are always in full swing during tax season because people are more likely to be handing out their social security number and personal information during this time. The key to all scams is that they prey on the lack of knowledge of the target and on the natural greed of people. Please read the article and be careful.
2/13/12 Stop Podcasting Yourself Spot
We recently signed up to have our company advertised on the www.StopPodcastingYourself.com podcast. Since we spend most of our days sitting at a desk or driving around to visit clients, we have a decent amount of time to stay entertained by lots of amazing podcasts. If you like Stop Podcasting Yourself, then we want you as a client. We are a small accounting firm, with only one CPA (Richard Bowen, CPA), and we hope to work with people that have a good sense of humor and a great outlook on life. Give us a call or email us to schedule an appointment (661) 342-0087, Richard@BowenAccounting.com.
2/2/12 Official Opening of Tax Season
We are very excited to get rolling with the official opening of tax season. We have already completed several tax returns, but the bulk is still yet to come. Great new! The IRS is accepting eFilings in just under a few hours, as opposed to the 24 hours it has taken for the last 8 years. I have also recieved reports from clients that they are recieving their refunds in as little as 5 days.
If you are new to our company than a there are a few things you should know; 1. We can prepare your tax return solely by email/fax if you are too busy for in office appointment. 2. We have evening and weekend appointments if you need them. 3. You can send us your documents by email, mail, fax, and by dropping them off in our drop box.
Our Schedule fills up pretty fast so contact us as soon as you have all of your documents ready.
12/31/11 Happy New Year
The new year is coming and I hope you are getting ready for tax season. The IRS has some helpful items on their website to help you out.IRS - Where is my refund?
IRS - 2012 Withholding Calculator
10/01/11 Final Filing Deadline
The final filing deadline is coming up. Please give me a call if you are ready (or not) to file. Even if you do not have all of your paperwork ready I can help you with that part. Filing on time (even by the second extension) is key when dealing with businesses or when you have an outstanding payment arrangment with the IRS. Not filing tax returns is a crime and can be used by the IRS and FTB as a reason to move forward with garnishments and property seizures!
All of that is a little scary! The point is that if you have not filed, it is time to do so. Give me a call and we will work together to make it happen.
04/18/11 1st Extension Information
Today is the last official day of tax season, and a few people have asked me file extensions for them. This is not a problem and is pretty easy to do. What is important to note is that if you end up owing money on your tax return and do not make a payment of more than you end up owing when you file your extension, you will be subject to the same penalties and fees as if you had just filed late without the extension. You may avoid a small 'late filing' penalty, but that is it. So if your return is not done, and you need an extension, you really need to work with your CPA on whether or not you need to make a payment with that extension.
Something else important to note is that on 4/15 your tax balance is already over 4 months late. This is why penalties and interest are such a big deal to late filers and extension filers. If you have a business that makes a net profit, you really need to make estimated payments throughout the current tax year. I have written an article on this topic called 'Counting the cost of taxes... In advance!' If you struggle with tax payments, or always feel like you are behind, you very well might be.
04/06/11 Sales Tax Automatic Deduction Proven
Many people do not know that they are entitled to an automatic deduction on thier schedule A of Sales Tax paid for the year. Most people do not keep track of all the sales tax they pay because it is a very time consuming process. If you do not keep track of it you will recieve an automatic deduction based on your income. There is a simple percentage used to figure this. Some might ask, 'how accurate is this percentage'? Well, as you can see from the picture, my client kept track of his sales tax all year and was a mere $18.00 below the freely given deduction built into the schedule A.
Click here to see the picture on our 'Tax News' Page
Maybe the IRS and FTB do know what they are doing after all.
04/01/11 The End Draws Neigh!
With only 2 weeks left in tax season people will no doubt be scrambling to get all of thier documents together. The official end of my tax season will be Friday April 15, 2011. You can call me after that, but I will be observing a strict holiday on that Saturday, and likely will not answer. If you still need to schedule an appointment, I am still taking new clients, you can contact us with the information on our contacts page.
If you have not yet recieved your tax refund or need to change your mailing address with the IRS, please use this official page.
03/04/11 Tax Season is Half Over
Even with the delay, we are nearly half way done with tax season. Most of the people who wait till late in the season to get their returns prepared have more complicated reporting requirements. Some others, just have not gotten around to it. Either way, I just want to remind you that Bowen Accounting has several methods available to deliver documentation (fax, email, drop off). Please contact us when you are ready, because our schedule at the end of the season is commonly very full, and we want to make sure you get the attention you deserve.
01/21/11 First Two Classes are Done
We completed the first two 'How did I get here, and what do I do now?!' classes. In total we had 10 attendees between the two offered classes. This is a much smaller turn out than I originally expected, but what we learned in the classes was powerful none the less. A reminder to everyone who attended, 'Take the time to invest in yourself and your future! Be the designer of your life, and do not let life happen to you on accident!'
We will be holding more classes after tax season. Please let me know if you are interested, and I will alert you when new dates are available.
01/04/11 Tax Season Delayed
Thanks to the new tax law changes that have taken affect as late at December 23, 2010 certain tax payers will have to wait until mid to late February to file their tax returns. If you fall into one of these three categories then you will be stuck until the IRS is done reprogramming their system. 1. Anyone who files a Schedule A (long form), and claims the state sales tax deduction (this is automatic on the Schedule A). 2. Anyone claiming the 'Higher Education and Fees Deduction' which is a new credit for post secondary school costs. 3. Anyone claiming 'Educator' expenses on the Schedule A. If you do not fit into one of these categories, I am ready to prepare your return as soon as you have all of your documents together.
However, do not let this stop you from making an appointment to have you tax return prepared. All of the tax forms will be finalized as of 1/14/11 (with a few exceptions), so we can prepare your return and be ready to file, whenever the IRS opens the efile system. Simple returns will be allowed to be filed 1/14/11, and most of the rest are scheduled to be allowed 2/14/11. If you are in a real rush, we can always paper file your return to give you a slightly faster return.
12/31/10 2010 Tax Year Letter & Check List
12/27/10 IRS changes employee's Social Security Rates
On 12/17/10 The IRS officially released the payroll tax changes that are the result of the 'Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Authorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4853)', of which the net effect will be a 2% reduction of the employees portion of Social Security paid from payroll withholdings in 2011. Apparently this temporary reduction will not reduce the employee's lifetime Social Security benefits. The current withholding rate is a standard 6.2% of all taxable wages, and it will be reduced to 4.2% as of January 1, 2011. Employer's usually match what the employees pay in Social Security, but for 2011 they will be required to continue to pay 6.2%, while employees only pay 4.2%.
The income tax withholding tables will also be adjusted to allow employee's to take more pay home, but the annual income tax will not be affected, which may mean that many employees will owe the IRS money at the end of 2011. For 2009 and 2010 this is supposed to be offset by the 'Making Work Pay' credit, but that credit will not be available in 2011.
For the self employed there will also be a reduction in the SE Tax paid on your net earnings equivalent to the 2% reduction that employees are recieving (from 12.4% to 10.4%) for 2011.
12/21/10 First FREE class has been scheduled!
On the 'Classes' page you can see that we have two dates avaialable for the 'How did I get here, and what do I do now?' class. This class will have helpful information about identifying the weak spots in your current financial situation, practical and simple budgetting tools, and outlines that will help you plan and change your future.
This class is designed to help people that don't know what to do improve their financial outlook. If all goes well, the class will provide you with some much needed help, and some very practical and useful tools. To register for a class (for free) click the 'Sign-up for Class' logo on the left hand side under the menu.
12/20/10 New article about buying a house
Buying a house is a long and daunting process. Having a good outline of that process can make the process a little bit easier. This article is important for people that are in the middle of the process, people thinking about beginning the process, and also for people who will be buying a home in the next 1 to 2 years. Click here to read it.
12/15/10 New Tool to help you create amortization schedules
An amortization schedule is a listing of all the payments you will make on a loan and how they are broken down into principle and interest portions. You don't often need an amortization schedule, but when you do it is nice to create one quickly and easily. On the Bowen Accounting 'Tools' page you can use our 'Amortization Schedule Creator' to create a schedule, and also to see how much money you can save by making extra payments on your mortgage.
12/09/10 New Article about paying your mortgage off early
This article discusses whether it is a good idea to pay off your mortgage early or to take advantage of the maximum tax savings available via the 'Home Owners' Mortgage Interest Deduction'. Click here to read the article and find out for yourself.
11/25/10 IRS Video about the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit
For more information on this topic see our 'Tax News' section.
11/09/10 - New Article on how to get out of debt
The new article 'How to Get Out of Debt... Spend Less than You Make' has been posted to the 'Free Advice' Blog. It is chalked full of information on how to create, cut, and operate a budget. Most importantly, it tells you how to figure out how much debt you have, and has techniques on how to get out of debt. Click here to read it.
09/13/10 - 3rd 2010 estimates are due!
If you run a small business, or are an independent contractor then you probably need make estimated payments to the IRS and FTB. The 3rd payment for tax year 2010 is due 9/15/10. If you need help calculating the amount of the payment please contact Richard Bowen, CPA. This service is free to most of my clients, and very reasonably priced for new clients.
08/31/10 - New website
I have recently updated the website with a new look and a lot of new information. If you have not looked at our Resources, Services, Endorsements or Classes pages please do. While you are looking through the pages, if you think there is more information that you would like me to add please email me Richard Bowen, CPA.
06/23/10 - IRS is requiring testing for all federal tax return preparers
I must say that it is about time. Individual states have been requiring yearly testing and registration of state preparers for decades now. The IRS is in the process of taking this out of the hands of the state and mandating federal standardized testing. If your tax preparer is not registered with the IRS, and has not taken specific tests then they may not be eligible to prepare your tax return.
As a CPA I am no longer required to test for the state tax preparer registration through CTEC, and I will also be exempt from taking the IRS testing. The reason for this is that the annual continuing education (CE) requirements for a CPA are much more rigorous than for a registered tax preparer. There will be much more discussion on this to come since the IRS has not released all of the standards yet.