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Members in the News

    Gary Carpenter (Syracuse)

    How To Make the Most of the Single Best College Tax Break

    Back in January President Obama proposed consolidating many overlapping education tax benefits, a plan that appears long dead. Too bad, since millions of taxpayers make mistakes writing off education expenses on their 1040s and pay hundreds in unnecessary taxes as a result. Here’s how to get college tax breaks right on this year’s return and beyond. In any given year, you’re allowed to claim only one of these three tuition tax benefits: The tuition and fees deduction, the lifetime learning credit or the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). Don’t be distracted by all the options. The AOTC is the most lucrative and broadest education tax benefit available, and it should be your first choice, says Gary Carpenter, a CPA who is executive director of the National College Advocacy Group.

    James Passikoff, Brian E. DiFilippo, Glenn Noakes, Petra Hermstein, and Don Sagliano (Mid-Hudson)

    New in taxes: Health insurance steps in

    The Poughkeepsie Journal

    Some of this year’s tax questions revolve around a new line on the tax returns, the one that Obamacare put there. It’s a question about whether you had full-year health-care insurance coverage or not. And if not, how much you have to kick in as an addition to the taxes you ordinarily owe. Most people aren’t hit with much difficulty, though some are, said James Passikoff, with Passikoff & Scott in Poughkeepsie. Most people have employer-provided health insurance or else Medicare or Medicaid, “So they’re home free,” he said.

    David Young (Rochester)

    Starting your own business

    WROC TV CBS Rochester

    CPA Dave Young offered some tips for starting your own business Monday on News 8 at Sunrise. Young said you don't need to incorporate to start your own business.  You can act as a sole proprietor under you own name or under a "doing business as" or DBA.  This enables the public to know who is actually operating the company.  Your DBA is filed at the County Clerk's office. The upside of being a sole proprietor is it's easy and cheap according to Young.  You just file a "Schedule C" on your personal tax return to report business income or losses.  The downside is there is no legal protection for your personal assets, meaning you have no limit to your personal liability for business failures or mistakes.  To limit liability, you must choose a formal corporate for.

    Alan E. Weiner (Suffolk)

    Death and taxes — they truly can't be avoided

    If a person's income was subject to taxes, death doesn't relieve him of the obligation to file a tax return. It doesn't matter whether he died in 2014 or in 2015. If his 2014 income was subject to taxes, his survivors must file a 2014 tax return for him. In most cases, no 2015 tax return will be required for a person who died very early in 2015, says Alan E. Weiner, a Melville tax accountant. But if the decedent's estate receives enough 2015 income after his date of death — for example, investment or rental income — in 2016, his executor may have to file a 2015 income tax return for the estate. (The estate's income tax return is a "fiduciary" return, filed on Form 1041.) Any tax that's due is paid from the estate's assets.

    Alan Kahn and Barry Kleiman (Manhattan/Bronx)

    Determining Expenses That Qualify for Itemized Tax Deductions

    Time Warner Cable News (

    "If you are using a specific piece of your home for your business, you can allocate a piece of your general home expenses - insurance, mortgage, property taxes - you can allocate that to the home office," says CPA Barry Kleiman of Untracht Early LLC. Others need to be listed on a Schedule A, like mortgage interest, real estate taxes and gifts to charity. That can be in the form of money or donated goods but you have to have proof.  "Even if it's $25 for a race, for charity, you must have a receipt," says Alan Kahn, CPA and President of AJK Financial Group.

    Rumbi Bwerinofa-Petrozzello (Queens/Brooklyn)

    As pot industry grows, financial pros find a new market

    New York Times

    The new business, Blue Line Advisory Services, is latest legal liasion for the booming weed industry, which is mostly cash-only because banks are hesitant to take dough from pot-repreneurs. Though marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington, "there's all kinds of trouble you could get into because you're aiding somebody violating federal law," said Rumbi Bwerinofa-Petrozzello, a member of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants. "You could get fined, you could lose your insurance status."

    Vincent Cervone (Queens/Brooklyn)

    Have questions about your taxes? The Daily News is here to help, with the annual Tax Hotline

    New York Daily News

    As tax season heads into the homestretch, the Daily News is here to help. With a month left to file a return before the April 15 deadline, The News’ annual Tax Hotline is back to assist New Yorkers in getting through another year of making good with Uncle Sam. Experts from the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants will be on hand Wednesday, March 18, and Thursday, March 19, to answer your questions via telephone, email and live Web chats. “The Affordable Care Act will definitely be what a lot of people will be asking about this year,” said tax professional Vincent Cervone, owner of VRC & Associates and a veteran hotline volunteer.

    Edward Mendlowitz (At large member)

    Art of Accounting: Closing for Tax Season

    Accounting Today

    Tax season has always been the best time of the year for me to get new business. The reason is that there is much less competition. I never turn down an opportunity to get new business, whether it is tax work, audits, consultations or special assignments. Tax season notwithstanding, I am always available to meet with someone who needs an accountant. Tax season is by far the busiest period of the year for accountants. Besides individual and corporate tax returns, we perform year-end audits and reviews; and need to meet with clients’ bankers and boards of directors. We are very busy and, because of this, we sometimes neglect to return calls or respond to emails on a timely basis. Clients and those that need our services do not care about tax season, especially if they need something right away.

    Ted Sarenski (Syracuse)

    Wealth Adviser: When Advisers Pay Lip-Service to Taxes

    Wall Street Journal (MoneyBeat)

    Some investment advisers pay only lip-service to tax-efficient investing, and it’s accountants who often see the proof of that. To a certain extent it’s only natural: Advisers are keyed into delivering the best possible returns for their clients, while CPAs focus more on taxes and costs. But Syracuse-based wealth manager Ted Sarenski, who is also a CPA and a financial planner, says problems arise when there isn’t enough real communication. “What gets said and what gets done are two different things,” he tells Wealth Adviser at

    Paul Gevertzman (Manhattan/Bronx)

    Replacing tax rebates with tax credits bad for local businesses and New Jersey alike

    When state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) introduced legislation late last month to issue 10-year tax credits to businesses promised rebate checks under the now defunct Business Employment Incentive Program, he took a rather sanguine view of the bill and its benefits for local companies. “I would hope (the solution beats the alternative), because there’s certainly not any money in the budget to make the payments that are due now”, the senator from Union argued. Despite assurances that the business community might finally receive their share of inducements awarded to them in return for keeping projects in-state, New Jersey reneging on its initial commitments will do more harm than good for the state’s efforts to create a business-friendly climate.

    Anil Melwani (Manhattan/Bronx)

    How to avoid red flags when you change tax prep

    Taxes are one of the few constants in life, but what happens when you change the way you do your return? People move or get divorced, tax preparers pass away. There is always the lure of do-it-yourself – the number of people using tax software to file, like Intuit's TurboTax, increases by 6 percent annually, according to the Internal Revenue Service. And then there is the reverse exodus of people who have decided their financial lives are too complicated, and they need to hire a professional. "You definitely need that schedule. You can try to guess at it, and you'd probably be okay, but you wouldn't be doing it 100-percent right," says tax preparer Anil Melwani, who runs his own firm, 212 Tax & Accounting Services, in New York.

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