• Personal Use of Rental Properties

    11 May 2012 / Uncategorized / Comments Off on Personal Use of Rental Properties

    Personal Use of Rental Properties

    When the IRS issued the latest version of Form 8825, Rental Real Estate Income and Expenses, it added three new columns to the revised form, one to enter a code for the type of property being rented and two columns of significance: fair rental days and personal use days. Now that reporting the number of days each rental property is rented at fair rental value and the number days the property is used for personal purposes is required on Form 8825, properly apportioning the expenses between personal and rental use presents several challenges.


    Determining Personal Use Days

    Once the total income and expenses have been calculated for a property, the next consideration is how to determine the number of personal use days. This can be challenging when there are multiple unrelated partners. Even in a close family relationship, obtaining data and tracking usage of “vacation” property can be hard to obtain. Basically, a “day” is counted when overnight accommodations are provided.

    “Personal use days” as defined in Sec. 280A(d)(2) include:

    1. Use by “the taxpayer or any other person who has an interest in the property, or by any member of the family (as defined by section 267(c)(4)) of the taxpayer or such other person.” The attribution rules referred to in Sec. 267(c)(4) include siblings, spouse, ancestors, and lineal descendants. Even if the property is rented to a relative at fair rent, if the owner retains free access to the unit, those days will be considered personal use days.
    2. Use under house-swapping arrangements, whether or not fair rental is charged.
    3. Use by any individual who does not pay fair market rent.


    Since personal use days do not include days when repairs and maintenance are performed on a substantially full-time basis by the owner, even if other individuals are present who are not repairing or maintaining the property, it will be important to determine if any days of occupancy were maintenance days rather than personal use days.


    Allocation of Expenses to Personal Use Days

    The second challenge is calculating the amount of deductible rental expenses. Under Sec. 280A(e)(1), the number of personal use and fair rental days is used to determine the tax treatment of expenses incurred and the amount of depreciation allowed as a deduction. Sec. 280A(e)(2) carves out an exception for “deductions which would be allowable under this chapter for the taxable year whether or not such unit (or portion thereof) was rented.” Despite the seemingly clear language of Sec. 280A(e)(2), the IRS interprets Sec. 280A(e) to mean that all deductible expenses related to a property are allocated between fair rental and personal use days based on the ratio of fair rental days to the total number of days used, not just to those expenses that are deductible only in relation to the rental of the property.

    The deductibility of real estate taxes and mortgage interest (which are generally deductible by individual taxpayers whether or not the property is rented out as a vacation property) was challenged, the Ninth and Tenth Circuit courts have disagreed with the IRS’s calculation of the ratio using the total number of days used and supported using 365/366 days in the denominator of the ratio. Obviously, the personal use percentage is decreased when a full year is used as the denominator. Taxpayers' should consult with their CPAs regarding which position to follow when deducting items such as real estate taxes and mortgage interest.


    Limitation on Deductions If Unit Is Considered a Personal Residence

    If a taxpayer uses a property for personal purposes for the greater of 14 days or 10% of the days during the tax year it is rented at a fair rental, the property is treated as a personal residence. If a property that qualifies as a personal residence is rented for more than 15 days, the deduction of expenses related to the property is limited to the amount of rental income received during the tax year, and there is an ordering of the allowable deductions. Excess rental losses are carried over to the next tax year. The personal use portion of mortgage interest and property taxes can be deducted as itemized deductions on Schedule A.

    If the property qualifies as a residence and is rented for less than 15 days during the year, the rental income is not taxable. Nor are any expenses deductible, other than property taxes and mortgage interest.

    Limitations on Deductions If Unit Is Rental Property

    If the personal use days do not exceed the limits described above and the property is rented for more than 15 days, the unit is considered a rental property. In general, the rental of real property is considered a passive activity, and, as such, gains or losses from the activity can only be offset against gains or losses from other passive activities. However, if a taxpayer actively participates in a rental activity, losses of up to $25,000 from the activity may be used to offset nonpassive income.

    An individual meets the active participation rules by:

    1. Owning at least a 10% interest in the activity; and
    2. Having significant participation in the activity, such as making management decisions regarding tenants or policies, and arranging for repairs or capital improvements.


    Both conditions must be met for active participation. Hence, a determination of participation by each partner or shareholder owning more than 10% is required. The $25,000 offset is phased out by 50% of the amount by which the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income for the tax year exceeds $100,000.

    Rental activities where the average rental period of the property is seven days or less are not considered a rental activity under the passive loss rules and thus do not qualify for the active participation exception. Many vacation-type of properties have average use periods of seven days or less, so the period of use must be determined.

    If the taxpayer is a real estate professional who meets the tests of material participation in partnership activities, any losses from the partnership’s rental property will be nonpassive to that partner.11 A taxpayer is a real estate professional for a tax year if:

    1. More than one-half of the personal services performed in trades or businesses by the taxpayer during the taxable year are performed in real property trades or businesses in which the taxpayer materially participates, and
    2. The taxpayer performs more than 750 hours of services during the taxable year in real property trades or businesses in which the taxpayer materially participates.


    The laws regarding real estate issues, especially rental and rehab activities can be complex and fraught with issues.  We at Widget are experts in the taxation of real estate.  Please give us a call if we can help!
  • When is a NEW EIN needed?

    15 March 2012 / Uncategorized / Comments Off on When is a NEW EIN needed?

    Do You Need a New EIN?

    Generally, businesses need a new EIN when their ownership or structure has changed, but the rules can be a bit confusing.  The information below provides guidance about when you would need to change your EIN.  If, after reading the information below, you find that your situation requires a new EIN, please give Widget a call.  We can typically get you your new EIN within a few hours!


    Sole Proprietors

    You will be required to obtain a new EIN in the following situations:

    •             You are subject to a bankruptcy proceeding.

    •             You incorporate.

    •             You obtain one or more partners and operate as a partnership.

    •             You purchase or inherit an existing business that you continue to operate.


    You will not be required to obtain a new EIN in the following situations:

    •             You change the name of your business.

    •             You change your location and/or add other locations.

    •             You operate multiple businesses.



    You will be required to obtain a new EIN in the following situations:

    •             A corporation receives a new charter from the secretary of state.

    •             You are a subsidiary of a corporation using the parent's EIN or you become a subsidiary of a corporation.

    •             You change to a partnership or a sole proprietorship.

    •             A new corporation is created after a statutory merger.


    You will not be required to obtain a new EIN in the following situations:

    •             You are a division of a corporation.

    •             The surviving corporation uses the existing EIN after a corporate merger.

    •             A corporation declares bankruptcy.

    •             The corporate name or location changes.

    •             A corporation chooses to be taxed as an S corporation.

    •             Reorganization of a corporation changes only the identity or place.

    •             Conversion at the state level with business structure remaining unchanged.



    You will be required to obtain a new EIN in the following situations:

    •             You incorporate.

    •             Your partnership is taken over by one of the partners and is operated as a sole proprietorship.

    •             You end an old partnership and begin a new one.


    You will not be required to obtain a new EIN in the following situations:

    •             The partnership declares bankruptcy.

    •             The partnership name changes.

    •             You change the location of the partnership or add other locations.

    •             A new partnership is formed as a result of the termination of a partnership under IRC section 708(b)(1)(B).

    •             50 percent or more of the ownership of the partnership (measured by interests in capital and profits) changes hands within a twelve-month period (terminated partnerships under Reg. 301.6109-1).


    Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)

    An LLC is an entity created by state statute. The IRS did not create a new tax classification for the LLC when it was created by the states; instead IRS uses the tax entity classifications it has always had for business taxpayers: corporation, partnership, or disregarded as an entity separate from its owner, referred to as a “disregarded entity.” An LLC is always classified by the IRS as one of these types of taxable entities. If a “disregarded entity” is owned by an individual, it is treated as a sole proprietor. If the “disregarded entity” is owned any other entity, it is treated as a branch or division of its owner.


    You will be required to obtain a new EIN in the following situations:

    •             A new LLC with more than one owner (Multi-member LLC) is formed under state law.

    •             A new LLC with one owner (Single Member LLC) is formed under state law and chooses to be taxed as a corporation or an S corporation.

    •             A new LLC with one owner (Single Member LLC) is formed under state law, and has an excise tax filing requirement or an employment tax filing requirement.


    You will not be required to obtain a new EIN in the following situations:

    •             You report income tax as a branch or division of a corporation or other entity, and the LLC has no employees or excise tax liability.

    •             An existing partnership converts to an LLC classified as a partnership.

    •             The LLC name or location changes.

    •             An LLC that already has an EIN chooses to be taxed as a corporation or as an S corporation.

    •             A new LLC with one owner (single member LLC) is formed under state law, does not choose to be taxed as a corporation or S corporation, and has no employees or excise tax liability. NOTE: You may request an EIN for banking or state tax purposes, but an EIN is not required for federal tax purposes.



    You will be required to obtain a new EIN in the following situations:

    •             A trust is created with funds from the estate (not simply a continuation of the estate).

    •             You represent an estate that operates a business after the owner's death.

    You will not be required to obtain a new EIN if the administrator, personal representative, or executor changes his/her name or address.



    You will be required to obtain a new EIN in the following situations:

    •             One person is the grantor/maker of many trusts.

    •             A trust changes to an estate.

    •             A living or intervivos trust changes to a testamentary trust.

    •             A living trust terminates by distributing its property to a residual trust.


    You will not be required to obtain a new EIN if any of the following statements are true.

    •             The trustee changes.

    •             The grantor or beneficiary changes his/her name or address.


    We at Widget know that these issues can be confusing and we are here to help!  If you have questions or need assistance with these, or any other matters, please feel free to give us a call!

  • What are the tax consequences if I lose my house?

    06 March 2012 / Uncategorized / Comments Off on What are the tax consequences if I lose my house?

    Taxation of abandonments, foreclosures and repossessions

    Many individuals in the current economy have had trouble paying mortgages, car notes and other debts. Some are forced to abandon property, go through foreclosures or have property repossessed. While such measures may alleviate the financial burden on these individuals, the tax consequences often are unknown and can be very scary and stressful when it comes to tax time!

    When property that secures a debt is abandoned by voluntary or involuntary action, the tax consequence depends, among other things, on whether the taxpayer was personally liable for the debt and what the property was used for.

    If the debtor is personally liable for the loan on the property being abandoned, the loan is a recourse debt, and until foreclosure or repossession procedures are completed, there are no tax consequences, whether the property is personal use or business use. The foreclosure or repossession is treated as a sale, and the debtor may realize a gain or loss on the deemed sale. The amount realized is the lower of the asset’s fair market value on the date of abandonment or the outstanding debt immediately before the transfer, reduced by any amount for which the taxpayer remains personally liable after the transfer. The amount realized also includes any proceeds the debtor received from the foreclosure sale. The amount realized is compared with the debtor’s basis in the property to determine gain or loss.

    Gain from a foreclosure sale of abandoned property is usually includible in gross income whether or not the taxpayer used the property for business purposes. However, losses from personal-use property are nondeductible. If the property is a business-use asset, the gain or loss on disposition is either a capital or an ordinary gain or loss, depending on the character and nature of the asset. After the foreclosure has been completed, if the financial institution or creditor forgives the debtor any part of the debt, the forgiven portion is cancellation of debt (COD) income and may be includible in the debtor’s gross income. It is reported separately from any gain or loss realized from the sale.

    If the debtor is not personally liable for the debt (nonrecourse debt) and abandons personal-use property, such as a home or an automobile, the abandonment is treated as a sale in the year of abandonment. The amount realized on the sale—the outstanding loan balance—is compared with the taxpayer’s adjusted basis in the property to determine gain or loss. Any loss is a nondeductible personal expense. If the property abandoned is business or investment property, the amount of gain or loss is determined in the same way. However, a loss is deductible. The character of the loss depends on the character of the property.

    Generally, no COD income arises from these types of transactions because the debtor is not personally liable for the debt. However, if the debtor retains the collateral and accepts a discount from the creditor for the early payment of the debt, or agrees to a loan modification that reduces its principal balance, the amount of the discount or principal reduction is considered COD income, even if the debtor is not personally liable for the debt.

    A short sale is a sale of real estate in which the proceeds from selling the property will fall short of the balance of debts secured by liens against the property and the property owner cannot afford to repay the liens' full amounts, whereby the lien holders agree to release their lien on the real estate and accept less than the amount owed on the debt. Any unpaid balance owed to the creditors is known as a deficiency. If a lender forgives the deficiency, they will send the taxpayer and the IRS a Form 1099-C reporting the amount of the deficiency forgiven.  This can be a complex transaction to report for taxes as it truly represents two taxable transactions.  1) The sale of a property and 2) A cancellation of income.  Both have their own tax consequences that need to be dealt with.

    Generally, if a creditor forgives or cancels recourse debt, the amount forgiven or canceled is ordinary income to the taxpayer. The taxpayer may be able to exclude canceled debt from gross income if the debt cancellation was a gift, or in some cases if the canceled debt was a student loan, deductible debt or a price reduction after the original purchase of the property. IRC §108 also may exclude canceled debt from gross income if the taxpayer was bankrupt or insolvent immediately before the debt cancellation or if the debt is qualified farm indebtedness, qualified real property business indebtedness or qualified principal residence indebtedness.

    The professionals at Widget are experts at handling real estate related issues especially in the areas of foreclosures and short-sales.  Most of the time, using  IRC §108, IRC §121 or reviewing your cost basis with you, we can eliminate the taxation of this type of income.  Give us a call to see if we can help you!

  • Seven Tips to Help Taxpayers Avoid Phony Refund Schemes Abusing Popular College Tax Credit

    05 March 2012 / Uncategorized / Comments Off on Seven Tips to Help Taxpayers Avoid Phony Refund Schemes Abusing Popular College Tax Credit

    Seven Tips to Help Taxpayers Avoid Phony Refund Schemes Abusing Popular College Tax Credit

    The IRS has offered  the following seven tips to help you avoid an emerging scheme tempting senior citizens and other taxpayers to file tax returns claiming fraudulent refunds.

    These schemes promise refunds to people who have little or no income and normally don’t have a tax filing requirement.  Promoters claim they can obtain for their victims, often senior citizens, a tax refund or nonexistent stimulus payment based on the American Opportunity Tax Credit, even if the victim was not enrolled in or paying for college.  Con artists falsely claim that refunds are available even if the victim went to school decades ago. In many cases, scammers are targeting seniors, people with very low incomes and members of church congregations with bogus promises of free money.  A variation of this scheme also falsely claims the college credit is available to compensate people for paying taxes on groceries.

    These schemes can be quite costly for victims. Promoters may charge exorbitant upfront fees to file these claims and are often long gone when victims discover they’ve been scammed.  Taxpayers should be careful of these scams because, regardless of who prepared their tax return, the taxpayer is legally responsible for the accuracy of their tax return and must repay any refunds received in error, plus any penalties and interest. They may even face criminal prosecution.  To avoid becoming ensnared in these schemes, the IRS wants you to beware of any of the following:

    • Fictitious claims for refunds or rebates based on false statements of entitlement to tax credits.
    • Unfamiliar for-profit tax services selling refund and credit schemes to the membership of local churches.
    • Internet solicitations that direct individuals to toll-free numbers and then solicit social security numbers.
    • Homemade flyers and brochures implying credits or refunds are available without proof of eligibility.
    • Offers of free money with no documentation required.
    • Promises of refunds for “Low Income – No Documents Tax Returns.”
    • Claims for the expired Economic Recovery Credit Program or for economic stimulus payments.
    • Unsolicited offers to prepare a return and split the refund.
    • Unfamiliar return preparation firms soliciting business from cities outside of the normal business or commuting area.

    In recent weeks, the IRS has identified and stopped an upsurge of these bogus refund claims coming in from across the United States.  This is truly your IRS working for you.

    We at Widget hope that you don’t fall for any of these schemes.  If you do get suckered by one of these schemes, please let us know.  We can correspond with the IRS and file amended returns to correct the damage done.

  • Important Qualifications to Claim the Child Tax Credit!

    13 February 2012 / Uncategorized / Comments Off on Important Qualifications to Claim the Child Tax Credit!

    How to qualify for the Child Tax Credit!

    Eligible taxpayers with qualifying children may be able to reduce your federal income tax by up to $1,000 for each qualifying child.  A qualifying child for this credit is someone who meets the following seven tests:

    1) Age - A child must have been under age 17 – age 16 or younger – at the end of 2011.

    2) Relationship - The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister or a descendant of any of these individuals, which includes your grandchild, niece or nephew.  An adopted child is always treated as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.

    3) Support - The child must not have provided more than half of his/her own support.

    4) Dependency  - You must claim the child as a dependent on your federal tax return.

    5) No Joint Return - The qualifying child cannot file a joint return for the year (or files it only as a claim for refund).

    6) Citizenship - To meet the citizenship test, the child must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or U.S. resident alien.

    7) Residence - The child must have lived with you for more than half of 2011. There are some exceptions to the residence test, such as attending school in a dorm and others.  If you think one of the exceptions applies, we can review them with you.

    The credit is limited if your modified adjusted gross income is above a certain amount. The amount at which this phase-out begins varies by filing status. For married taxpayers filing a joint return, the phase-out begins at $110,000. For married taxpayers filing a separate return, it begins at $55,000. For all other taxpayers, the phase-out begins at $75,000. In addition, the Child Tax Credit is generally limited by the amount of the income tax and any alternative minimum tax you owe.

    If you have any questions on this, or any other matters, Widget is here to help!  Please give us a call!

  • A new way to report capital gains and losses!!

    11 February 2012 / Uncategorized / Comments Off on A new way to report capital gains and losses!!

    Eight Facts about New IRS Form 8949 and Schedule D

    The IRS has a new form taxpayers must use to report most capital gains and losses from transactions relating to investment property. In previous years, these transactions would have been reported on your IRS Schedule D or D-1, but for tax year 2011, use Form 8949, Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets.  Here are eight important points about the new Form 8949 and IRS Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses:

    1. Short-term capital gains or losses (assets held for one year or less) are now reported on Part I of Form 8949.

    2. Long-term capital gains or losses (assets held for more than one year) are now reported on Part II of Form 8949.

    3. Fill out Form 8949 before you fill out line 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 or 10 of Schedule D.

    4. Most property you own and use for personal purposes, pleasure or investment is a capital asset. Use Form 8949 to report the sale or exchange of a capital asset you are not reporting on another form or schedule (such as Form 6252 or 8824).

    5. At the top of each Form 8949 you file, you'll need to check box A, B or C, based on what is indicated in box 3 of the Form 1099-B or substitute statement.

    Check box A if your broker reported the transaction to you and the basis of the securities sold also was reported to the IRS

    Check box B if the transaction was reported to you but box 3 of the Form 1099-B is blank or your statement says the basis was not reported to the IRS.

    Check box C for all other transactions.

     6. If you have a lot of transactions, use as many Forms 8949 as necessary to report all of them, but make sure that each Form 8949 includes only the type of transactions described in the text for the box you checked (A, B or C).

    7. The reporting of certain transactions has changed. If you have to adjust your gain or loss, you may have to enter a code in column (b) and an adjustment in column (g). For details, see the 2011 Instructions for Schedule D (and Form 8949).

    8. For 2011 transactions, Schedule D-1 is no longer in use. Form 8949 replaces it.

    As with any tax law or form change, this new way of doing things can be confusing.  We here at Widget would love to help you sort it all out.  Please feel free to give us a call!!

  • What do you mean my Social Security Benefits are Taxable?!?!

    10 February 2012 / Uncategorized / Comments Off on What do you mean my Social Security Benefits are Taxable?!?!

    Seven Tips to Help You Determine if Your Social Security Benefits are Taxable.

    Many people may not realize the Social Security benefits they received in 2011 may be taxable.  All Social Security recipients should receive a Form SSA-1099 from the Social Security Administration which shows the total amount of their benefits. How much, if any, of your Social Security benefits are taxable depends on your total income and marital status. Generally, if Social Security benefits were your only income for 2011, your benefits are not taxable and you probably do not need to file a federal income tax return.

    If you received income from other sources, your benefits will not be taxed unless your modified adjusted gross income is more than the base amount for your filing status.

    To determine whether some of your benefits may be taxable, do the following quick two-step computation:

    1) Add one-half of the total Social Security benefits you received to all your other income, including any tax-exempt interest and other exclusions from income.

    2) Compare this total to the base amount for your filing status.  If the total is more than your base amount, some of your benefits will likely be taxable.

    The 2011 base amounts are $32,000 for married couples filing jointly and $25,000 for single, head of household, qualifying widow/widower with a dependent child, or married individuals filing separately who did not live with their spouse at any time during the year.

    The 2011 base amount is $0 for married persons filing separately who lived together during the year.

    If you would like assistance with the taxable amount of your Social Security benefits, or any other issue, Widget is here to help you.  Please feel free to contact us!  We make taxes less taxing!

  • Did you know there is a new 1099 you will see this year?

    20 January 2012 / Uncategorized / Comments Off on Did you know there is a new 1099 you will see this year?

    The New 1099-K Adds A New Level of Confusion

    This year, there's one more 1099 form to add to the mix: the 1099-K. If your business takes payments via credit cards or services like PayPal, you may find one in your mail box later this month.

    The forms will be sent by payment settlement entities -- typically, banks or other institutions that pay merchants and other businesses as settlement for payment card transactions -- and could include payments made via credit, debit or even gift cards. They'll also be sent by third-party settlement organizations -- organizations like PayPal that are contractually obligated to make payments to participating payees or merchants, in a third-party payment network -- if the gross payments to a payee exceed $20,000 and consist of more than 200 transactions.

    The upshot? Many small businesses that accept credit card or PayPal payments soon will be receiving 1099-Ks; they are due to merchants by January 31, 2012. The payment settlement entities and organizations also separately report this information to the IRS.   The new forms and reporting requirements come courtesy of a provision in the Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008. According to this summary of the bill by the House Ways and Means Committee, "some merchants fail to report accurately their gross income, including income derived from payment card transactions. Generally, compliance increases significantly for amounts that a third party reports to the IRS." The provision was expected to raise more than $9.5 billion over 10 years.

    This reporting requirement doesn't actually impose any new taxes. Instead, the bulk of the revenue is estimated to come simply from improved compliance (read - less cheating) among those accepting a payment card as payment and/or accepting payment from a third-party settlement organization.

    The forms themselves look similar to other 1099 forms. They'll contain contact information on both the entity filing the tax return, and the payee. In addition, boxes 5a-5l on the form will show the gross amount of merchant card/third-party network payments the payee received during the year, broken out by month. The amounts reported will not be adjusted for any credits, discounts, or refunds.

    If your business receives a 1099-K, you have to report the amounts. For 2011, however, the reporting requirements are a bit confusing, to say the least. While Schedule C now includes Line 1A, which is where you normally would report the amounts shown on a 1099-K, the instructions read: "Merchant card and third-party payments. For 2011, enter 0."

    The more detailed IRS instructions explain this: "We added new lines 1a and 1b to implement reporting of gross receipts received via merchant card (credit and debit trade or business cards) and third-party network payments. However, for 2011, the IRS has deferred the requirement to report these amounts. Therefore, enter zero on line 1a and report all gross receipts on line 1b, including any income reported to you on Form 1099-K Merchant Card and Third Party Network Payments (but excluding any W-2 income reportable on line 1c).

    If you should receive one of these forms and are confused or bewildered, we'd be happy to review it and discuss what it means to your tax return.

  • Ok...Tax Season Can Start...The IRS is ready!!

    17 January 2012 / Uncategorized / Comments Off on Ok...Tax Season Can Start...The IRS is ready!!


    Tuesday, Jan. 17, marks the start of tax season, as the IRS opens up its system to accept e-filed individual tax returns. This is different that last year, when the start of tax season was delayed for some taxpayers by last-minute tax law changes (AMT Patch), this year the IRS will be accepting all individual returns when it opens up its e-filing system.

    The filing deadline for 2011 Forms 1040 is April 17 because April 15 falls on a Sunday and April 16 is Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in the District of Columbia, which by federal law affects federal tax deadlines in the same way a federal holiday would (T.D. 9507).

    The IRS expects to be able to issue refunds in as few as 10 days for taxpayers who e-file and choose direct deposit for their refund. It estimates that 90% of refunds will be issued within 21 days of filing; however, the IRS notes that these estimates are for error-free returns.  Our experience has been an average of 3-4 days  for clients who e-file and choose direct deposit for their refund.  Waiting for a check takes quite a bit longer.

    The IRS also cautions taxpayers that it is increasingly scrutinizing returns for signs of fraud, which will delay some refunds.  Taxpayers can check on the status of their refunds using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on the IRS website (https://sa1.www4.irs.gov/irfof/lang/en/irfofgetstatus.jsp).

    We at Widget are excited about serving your needs this tax season and welcome your phone calls.

  • The economy is improving! Well...except the housing market!

    12 January 2012 / Uncategorized / Comments Off on The economy is improving! Well...except the housing market!

    Federal Reserve's 'beige book' confirms improving U.S. economy!

    The Federal Reserve's latest report on the nation's regional economies showed that the pace of activity around the country is picking up, with the notable exception of the housing market.

    The Fed report, dubbed the beige book, confirmed that consumer spending was strong at the end of last year, with most parts of the country indicating significant gains in holiday sales.

    The central bank's New York district described the retail activity as "brisk," and Dallas called it "robust." Travel and tourism also performed solidly in most areas at year's end, according to a summary of economic conditions made by the Fed's 12 bank districts and released Wednesday.

    Manufacturing continued its "steady overall expansion," the report said.

    Heavy-equipment production and steel led the pack as demand got a good lift from resurgent activity in energy, farming and auto manufacturing. There also was strong demand for computers and electronic parts, a boon notably for the Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco districts.

    The service-producing part of the economy strengthened as well.

    Professional services (like Widget) technology and healthcare providers grew in different parts of the country. "Lending activity edged up overall," the report said, as companies sought more loans.

    Although some districts reported gains in home sales from a year earlier, as well as a pickup in apartment construction, on the whole residential real estate markets remained at "very low levels" throughout the U.S.

    The beige book described the San Francisco district, which includes California and eight other Western states, as growing at a "moderate pace" from late November to the end of the year, the period covered by the report.

    It noted that in the San Francisco district, as well as elsewhere, high unemployment rates and limited hiring held wage gains to modest levels, while healthcare costs for workers rose.

    But the report noted significant pay increases for workers with specialized skills in certain manufacturing and technology sectors.

    The Fed's report comes on the heels of solid job gains reported for December and other data suggesting that the economy entered the year with increasing momentum.

    The beige book is an anecdotal snapshot of the economy based on reports from the district banks and interviews with key businesses, economists and market experts. The book is issued eight times a year.

    We at Widget hope that the good news continues throughout the year and that our clients can profit during our nations lengthy recovery!  If you would like any assistance we would be happy to help you!

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