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Business Property Tax Reports Due

Business Property Tax Reports Due 3/1

As an individual, you likely have to pay personal property tax each year.  For most, this means paying a tax on personal vehicles, boats, and motor homes.  You normally get a bill from the city or county you live in, and pay the tax to them.

Each year, a business also pays tax on the tangible property used in the business or trade.  Unlike an individual, the business owner self-reports the property used in their business.

Each business is different, and the property reported is different.  However, here are the general guidelines:

The business must report:

  • All office equipment including furniture, fixtures, furnishings, operating equipment, computers, peripherals, hand tools, power tools, books, machinery, and other such tangible property.
  • All NON-LICENSED vehicles and trailers. Tractors, office trailers, storage trailers, etc.  If it has a license plate on it, do not report it.

Basically, if the item can be considered a ‘tool’ or ‘property’ and will last more than a year, list it.  If it is something that you consume in your business or that wear out quickly (like cleaning rags, gloves, a tape measure, chemicals) or something you use on or leave with a customer customers (mulch, nail polish, hair spray, etc.), don’t list it.

For a new business owner, it can be confusing to know exactly what to list.  So, here are some examples:

ProfessionList:Don’t List:
EVERYONEDedicated home office items. If you have a computer and desk for the EXCLUSIVE use of your business, list them.Personal use items, like the kitchen table or the family computer, even if that’s where you do some paperwork.
Cleaning / janitorial / maid service companyVacuum cleaners, floor buffers, and related equipment. Items like a bucket, cleaning rags, cleaning solution, etc. These are all consumable items.
Lawn care / landscaperLawn mowers, power tools, hand tools like rakes and shovels, and any trailers. If your trailer has a license plate, don’t list it.Gloves, fuel, oil, mulch, or any other type of consumable item.
Home Repair / HandymanPower tools, hand tools, ladders, and trailers. If your trailer has a license plate, don’t list it. Note: you normally don’t need to list hand tools individually. You can list ‘bag of asst. hand tools’, with the value of the lot.Personal protective equipment (like a hard hat, gloves, etc.), or any type of consumable item.
Home InspectorLadders, Camera (if you have a dedicated camera for the inspection. If you are using your cell phone, don’t list it.)
Hair/Nail Professionals (not salons)Clippers, hand dryer, scissors.Uniforms (smocks), any chemicals, nail polish, or accessories.
Uber/Lyft DriversPossibly a GPS.Anything else. Your vehicle is your ‘tool’ and is covered by your Personal Property Tax.

Below are links for city/county business property tax forms

City (click city name for form)Due DateNotes
Newport News3/1
Portsmouth3/1As of 2/3/18, Portsmouth does not have their 2018 form posted on their website
Roanoke and Vinton2/1Note early filing date
Salem2/15Note early filing date
Suffolk5/1Note late filing date
Virginia Beach3/1

If you are having trouble or have questions about your business property, please contact our office.

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Understanding Employee vs. Contractor Designation

Understanding Employee vs. Contractor Designation

The Internal Revenue Service reminds small businesses of the importance of understanding and correctly applying the rules for classifying a worker as an employee or an independent contractor. For federal employment tax purposes, a business must examine the relationship between it and the worker. The IRS Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center on the IRS website offers helpful resources.

Worker classification is important because it determines if an employer must withhold income taxes and pay Social Security, Medicare taxes and unemployment tax on wages paid to an employee. Businesses normally do not have to withhold or pay any taxes on payments to independent contractors. The earnings of a person working as an independent contractor are subject to self-employment tax.

The general rule is that an individual is an independent contractor if the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work, not what will be done and how it will be done. Small businesses should consider all evidence of the degree of control and independence in the employer/worker relationship. Whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee depends on the facts in each situation.

Help with Deciding

To better determine how to properly classify a worker, consider these three categories – Behavioral Control, Financial Control and Relationship of the Parties.

Behavioral Control:  A worker is an employee when the business has the right to direct and control the work performed by the worker, even if that right is not exercised. Behavioral control categories are:

  • Type of instructions given, such as when and where to work, what tools to use or where to purchase supplies and services. Receiving the types of instructions in these examples may indicate a worker is an employee.
  • Degree of instruction, more detailed instructions may indicate that the worker is an employee.  Less detailed instructions reflects less control, indicating that the worker is more likely an independent contractor.
  • Evaluation systems to measure the details of how the work is done points to an employee. Evaluation systems measuring just the end result point to either an independent contractor or an employee.
  • Training a worker on how to do the job — or periodic or on-going training about procedures and methods — is strong evidence that the worker is an employee. Independent contractors ordinarily use their own methods.

Financial Control: Does the business have a right to direct or control the financial and business aspects of the worker’s job? Consider:

  • Significant investment in the equipment the worker uses in working for someone else.
  • Unreimbursed expenses, independent contractors are more likely to incur unreimbursed expenses than employees.
  • Opportunity for profit or loss is often an indicator of an independent contractor.
  • Services available to the market. Independent contractors are generally free to seek out business opportunities.Method of payment.An employee is generally guaranteed a regular wage amount for an hourly, weekly, or other period of time even when supplemented by a commission. However, independent contractors are most often paid for the job by a flat fee.

Relationship: The type of relationship depends upon how the worker and business perceive their interaction with one another. This includes:

  • Written contracts which describe the relationship the parties intend to create. Although a contract stating the worker is an employee or an independent contractor is not sufficient to determine the worker’s status.
  • Benefits. Businesses providing employee-type benefits, such as insurance, a pension plan, vacation pay or sick pay have employees. Businesses generally do not grant these benefits to independent contractors.
  • The permanency of the relationship is important. An expectation that the relationship will continue indefinitely, rather than for a specific project or period, is generally seen as evidence that the intent was to create an employer-employee relationship.
  • Services provided which are a key activity of the business.  The extent to which services performed by the worker are seen as a key aspect of the regular business of the company.

Consequences of Misclassifying an Employee

Classifying an employee as an independent contractor with no reasonable basis for doing so makes employers liable for employment taxes. Certain employers that can provide a reasonable basis for not treating a worker as an employee may have the opportunity to avoid paying employment taxes. See Publication 1976, Section 530  Employment Tax Relief Requirements for more information.

In addition, the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) offers certain eligible businesses the option to reclassify their workers as employees with partial relief from federal employment taxes.

The IRS can help employers determine the status of their workers by using Form SS-8, Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding. IRS Publication 15-A, Employer’s Supplemental Tax Guide, is also an excellent resource.

Workers who believe an employer improperly classified them as independent contractors can use Form 8919 to figure and report the employee’s share of uncollected Social Security and Medicare taxes due on their compensation.

The IRS Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center provides a multitude of resources for small businesses as well as self-employed independent contractors.

Additional Resources:

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It’s Not Too Early to Organize for Your Tax Returns

We are entering the holiday season – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.  Homes will be busy with holiday shopping, entertaining family and friends, and lots of holiday decorations.  Before you know it, it will be time to file your 2017 taxes.

Take a few moments now to collect the tax-related paperwork that reflect the special events that happened in your life this year, and put it safely away for January.

Here are some events to consider, and some items to collect now:

  • Did you buy or sell a home? A copy of your mortgage and closing documents
  • Did you have any casualty, theft or loss? A copy of all paperwork relating to the event
  • Did you get married? Social security cards
  • Did you get divorced or separated? A copy of the divorce decree or separation agreement, showing child support, alimony, and property settlement arrangements
  • Did you have any medical expenses? A copy of ALL unreimbursed receipts from any medical provider, pharmacy, and insurance provider
  • Did you move? Old and new address, and receipts for ALL expenses related to the move
  • Did you have a baby? Date of Birth, and Social Security Number (if you have one)
  • Did you start a new job? Receipts related to a new job search, or anything related to you getting the new job.
  • Did you or someone in your family attend school (beyond high school)? Receipts for all school related expenses including tuition, room and board, books, and other items
  • Did you start a new business? This list is VERY long.  I recommend you visit our website and review the July 2017 Client Newsletter, which lists much of the paperwork needed to record new business expenses.
  • Did you donate to a charity/non-profit/religious organization? A copy of your receipt is needed.
  • Did you pay for daycare? You will need either the name and SSN of the person (if an individual), or the name, address, and EIN or the business or organization
  • Did you pay Personal Property Tax? A copy of the receipt
  • A copy of your 2016 Federal and State tax returns should be kept with your 2017 paperwork.
  • A copy of ANY other paperwork you feel is important, or you have questions about (“I wonder if this is deductible?”). It is far better to have a copy of an item you have a question about, than to later learn you need it but can’t find it.

A simple filing system to keep everything organized is to file:

  • Family (birth/marriage/divorce/daycare)
  • Home (sale/purchase/casualty/theft/loss)
  • Moving or job related
  • Medical
  • Business
  • Other/Miscellaneous

My BEST recommendation is – keep ALL of your receipts.  As you can see from the brief list above, many normal events in your life have a tax implication.  If you have a question about an expense, keep a receipt, and ask us when we prepare your tax returns.rns.

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Book Your Appointments Online!


Our website was upgraded recently, and a great new feature was added.  Now, you can book your appointment online and take advantage of our extended evening and weekend hours!

Our extended hours are set aside for new and existing client phone meetings.  These extended hours give us an opportunity to discuss your needs at a time convenient for you.

On the top and bottom of each page on our website, you can find the following button:

Just click it to go to our appointment page.

You will get an email reminder for your meeting, and can add the meeting directly to your Google or Outlook calendar.

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Taxpayers Should Be Wary of Unsolicited Calls from the IRS

Taxpayers who get an unexpected or unsolicited phone call from the IRS should be wary – it’s probably a scam. Phone calls continue to be one of the most common ways that thieves try to get taxpayers to provide personal information. These scammers then use that information to gain access to the victim’s bank or other account.

When a taxpayer answers the phone, it might be a recording or an actual person claiming to be from the IRS. Sometimes the scammer tells the taxpayer they owe money and must pay right away. They might also say the person has a refund waiting, and then they ask for bank account information over the phone.

Taxpayers should not take the bait and fall for this trick. Here are several tips that will help taxpayers avoid becoming a scam victim.

The real IRS will not:

  • Call to demand immediate payment
  • Call someone if they owe taxes without first sending a bill in the mail
  • Demand tax payment and not allow the taxpayer to question or appeal the amount owed
  • Require that someone pay their taxes a certain way, such as with a prepaid debit card
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other agencies to arrest a taxpayer who doesn’t pay
  • Threaten a lawsuit

Taxpayers who don’t owe taxes or who have no reason to think they do should follow these steps:

  • Use the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s IRS Impersonation Scam Reportingweb page to report the incident.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission with the FTC Complaint Assistant on

Taxpayers who think they might actually owe taxes should follow these steps:

  • Ask for a call back number and an employee badge number.
  • Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

Every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Taxpayers can visit to explore their rights and the agency’s obligations to protect them.

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Tips to Keep in Mind for Taxpayers Traveling for Charity

During the summer, some taxpayers may travel because of their involvement with a qualified charity. These traveling taxpayers may be able to lower their taxes.

Here are some tax tips for taxpayers to use when deducting charity-related travel expenses:

  • Qualified Charities.  For a taxpayer to deduct costs, they must volunteer for a qualified charity. Most groups must apply to the IRS to become qualified. Churches and governments are generally qualified, and do not need to apply to the IRS. A taxpayer should ask the group about its status before they donate. Taxpayers can also use the Select Check tool on to check a group’s status.
  • Out-of-Pocket Expenses.  A taxpayer may be able to deduct some of their costs including travel. These out-of-pocket expenses must be necessary while the taxpayer is away from home. All costs must be:
    • Unreimbursed,
    • Directly connected with the services,
    • Expenses the taxpayer had only because of the services the taxpayer gave, and
    • Not personal, living or family expenses.
  • Genuine and Substantial Duty.  The charity work the taxpayer is involved with has to be real and substantial throughout the trip. The taxpayer can’t deduct expenses if they only have nominal duties or do not have any duties for significant parts of the trip.
  • Value of Time or Service.  A taxpayer can’t deduct the value of their time or services that they give to charity. This includes income lost while the taxpayer serves as an unpaid volunteer for a qualified charity.
  • Travel Expenses a Taxpayer Can Deduct.  The types of expenses a taxpayer may be able to deduct include:
    • Air, rail and bus transportation,
    • Car expenses,
    • Lodging costs,
    • Cost of meals, and
    • Taxi or other transportation costs between the airport or station and their hotel.
  • Travel Expenses a Taxpayer Can’t Deduct. Some types of travel do not qualify for a tax deduction. For example, a taxpayer can’t deduct their costs if a significant part of the trip involves recreation or vacation.

For more on these rules, see IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.

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Virginia Sales Tax Holiday – August 4-6 2017

When is it?

August 4-6, 2017. The 3-day sales tax holiday starts the first Friday in August at 12:01 am and ends the following Sunday at 11:59 pm.

What is it?

During the sales tax holiday, you can buy qualifying school supplies, clothing, footwear, hurricane and emergency preparedness items, and Energy Star™ and WaterSense™ products without paying sales tax.

What items are eligible?
  • School supplies, clothing, and footwear 
    • Qualified school supplies – $20 or less per item
    • Qualified clothing and footwear – $100 or less per item
  • Hurricane and emergency preparedness products  
    • Portable generators – $1,000 or less per item
    • Gas-powered chainsaws – $350 or less per item
    • Chainsaw accessories – $60 or less per item
    • Other specified hurricane preparedness items – $60 or less per item
  • Energy Star™ and WaterSense™​ products 
    • Qualifying Energy Star™ or WaterSense™ products purchased for noncommercial home or personal use – $2,500 or less per item


List of School Supplies Eligible for Exemption

“School supply,” means an item that is commonly used by a student in a course of study. For purposes of the sales tax holiday, the term does not include computers and such items may not be purchased exempt of the tax.

The following is an all-inclusive list of items that are included in the term “school supply” and are therefore exempt from tax during the sales tax holiday period, provided their sales price is $20 or less per item. Only the following items are exempt as school supplies. Items need not be intended for use in school or in connection with a school activity to be eligible for the exemption.

  • Binder pockets
  • Binders
  • Blackboard chalk
  • Book bags, messenger bags, and totes
  • Calculators
  • Cellophane tape
  • Clay and glazes
  • Compasses
  • Composition books
  • Computer storage media; diskettes; recordable compact discs; and flash drives
  • Crayons
  • Dictionaries and thesauruses
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Dividers
  • Erasers (including dry erase marker erasers and dry erase marker cleaning solution)
  • Folders: expandable, pocket, plastic, and manila
  • Glue, paste, and paste sticks
  • Hand sanitizer soap
  • Highlighters
  • Index card boxes
  • Index cards
  • Legal pads
  • Lunch boxes and lunch bags (including disposable lunch bags)
  • Markers (including dry erase markers and dry erase marker kits)
  • Musical instruments, musical instrument accessories, and replacement items for musical instruments
  • Notebooks
  • Paintbrushes for artwork
  • Paints (acrylic, tempera, and oil)
  • Paper: loose leaf ruled notebook paper, copy and printer paper, graph paper, tracing paper, manila paper, colored paper, poster board, and construction paper
  • Pencil boxes and other school supply boxes
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Protractors
  • Reference books
  • Reference maps and globes
  • Rulers
  • Scissors
  • Sheet music
  • Sketch and drawing pads
  • Textbooks
  • Tissues
  • Watercolors
  • Workbooks; and
  • Writing tablets

For a full, detailed list of items available, visit Virginia Department of Taxation Sales Tax Holiday Page


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Often Overlooked Deductions for the New Business Owner

When starting your new business, you are probably not thinking about your tax return at the end of the year.  You have a whirlwind of activity and things to focus on – getting proper licenses, setting up a business location, getting supplies and equipment, growing your client list, hiring employees, and so many other things.

When I sit down with a new business client, we discuss all the things they had to do to get their business started, because most of them are items that are deductible at the end of the year.

Here is an exercise you can do to improve the deductions you can claim at the end of the year.  All you need is a notebook, a large manila envelope, a cup of coffee, and about an hour of quiet, undisturbed time.  If your business is a partnership (husband and wife, or two friends), it would be helpful for you to do this together.

Just answer the following questions:

  1. Do you have a home office? This is a space dedicated only for the use of your business, the main place where you work on your business.
    • Write down the total square footage of your home, and the total square footage of your office.
    • Look around the office and list EVERYTHING you had to purchase to start your business. Desks, computers, a copier, office supplies, a new phone line, Internet connection, security system, etc.
    • Did you have to do anything to your home office room to get it ready for business? Did you paint, install shelves, put in a new carpet or light fixtures?
    • Do you regularly meet clients at your home office?
    • Compile a list of ALL home expenses. This could include mortgage payments, property taxes, natural gas, electric, telephone, Internet, water/sewer, parking (if you have to pay for parking), landscaping/lawn care, homeowner association fees, as well as any and all repairs to the home.
  2. Do you have a business location outside the home? In other words, do you run your business from a commercial building?  This could be anything from a retail space in a shopping mall, to a rented office, to a storage unit.  If so, answer the questions above, but for your commercial location.
  3. Did you use any of your personal assets for the business? One example of this is a computer purchased for your personal use at home, but you now use it for the business. Another example would be a personally purchased pressure washer, lawn mower, or other tools that you now use for the business.  If so, write down when you purchased them, the cost, and their approximate value the day you started using them for the business.
  4. Do you sometimes go to Office Max or Staples to get something for your business, and pay for it with your personal funds? Record these purchases, and keep track of the receipts.
  5. Do you use a vehicle for your business? This could be your own vehicle, or a vehicle used only for the business.  If so, you need to track mileage.  You basically have two options:
    • Keep a notebook in the vehicle, and write down your mileage and the purpose for each trip
    • Use a mileage tracking app like MileIQ to automatically track your mileage. I strongly recommend using a mileage tracking app to make this simple.
  6. Do you use your personal money to:
    • Take clients out to lunch?
    • Pay for a company holiday party or barbecue?Keep the receipts – these expenses may be deductible.
  7. Do you pay self-employed health insurance? You may be able to deduct 70% of your health insurance premiums.
  8. Do you use your personal cell phone for business (this includes calls, texts, and/or Internet use)? If so, keep a copy of your phone records and highlight the business related calls/texts.
  9. Do you purchase fuel for your equipment? This includes lawn mowers and other landscaping equipment, pressure washers, carpet extraction equipment and related items?  If so, keeping your receipts might allow you to take a credit on the tax paid on fuel.  (Note: as of 2017, the credit is over 18 cents/gallon.)
  10. Did you buy any equipment? For many small businesses, this can be a large expense.  A new landscaper might need a truck (or two), a trailer (or two), a lawn mower (or several), trimmers, edgers, etc.  This is a big one, and is related to the home/business office questions.  Be sure to document every piece of equipment you purchased.  Some can be expensed; some can be depreciated.   The documentation you have may help significantly lower your tax liability.

These are only a few deductions that overlooked by new business owners.  If you have not started, I strongly suggest sitting down and writing down your answers to these questions, then give me a call.  Let us help you get your tax bill as low as possible.

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Emergency Preparedness

Here are some tips to help you be prepared in case disaster strikes:

Don’t Forget to Update Emergency Plans

Because a disaster can strike any time, be sure to review emergency plans annually. Personal and business situations change over time, as do preparedness needs. When employers hire new employees or when a company or organization changes functions, they should update plans accordingly and inform employees of the changes. Make plans ahead of time and be sure to practice them.

Create Electronic Copies of Key Documents

Taxpayers can help themselves by keeping a duplicate set of key documents including bank statements, tax returns, identifications and insurance policies in a safe place such as a waterproof container and away from the original set.

Doing so is easier now that many financial institutions provide statements and documents electronically, and financial information is available on the Internet. Even if the original documents are provided only on paper, these can be scanned into an electronic format. This way, taxpayers can download them to a storage device such as an external hard drive or USB flash drive, or burn them to a CD or DVD.

Document Valuables

It’s a good idea to photograph or videotape the contents of any home, especially items of higher value. Documenting these items ahead of time will make it easier to claim any available insurance and tax benefits after the disaster strikes. The IRS has created disaster loss workbooks for individuals and businesses, which can help taxpayers compile a list of belongings and business property.

Photographs can help anyone prove the fair market value of items for insurance and casualty loss claims. Ideally, photos should be stored with a friend or family member who lives outside the area.

Check on Fiduciary Bonds

Employers who use payroll service providers should ask the provider if it has a fiduciary bond in place. The bond could protect the employer in the event of default by the payroll service provider.


IRS Pub 584 

Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook (Personal Use)

This workbook is designed to help to help you figure your loss on personal-use property in the event of a disaster, casualty, or theft. It contains schedules to help you figure the loss to your main home, its contents, and your motor vehicles.

IRS Pub 584B

Business Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook

This workbook is designed to help you figure your loss on business and income-producing property in the event of a disaster, casualty, or theft. It contains schedules to help you figure the loss to your office furniture and fixtures, information systems, motor vehicles, office supplies, buildings, and equipment.

Preparing Makes Sense. Get Ready Now.

This brochure from provides a common sense framework is designed to launch a process of learning about Citizen Preparedness.

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Tax Breaks for Hiring New Employees


If you’re thinking about hiring new employees this year, you won’t want to miss out on these tax breaks:


  1. Work Opportunity Credit

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit for employers that hire employees from the following targeted groups of individuals:

  • A member of a family that is a Qualified Food Stamp Recipient
  • A member of a family that is a Qualified Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) Recipient
  • Qualified Veterans
  • Qualified Ex-Felons, Pardoned, Paroled or Work Release Individuals
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Referrals
  • Qualified Summer Youths
  • Qualified Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Recipients
  • Qualified Individuals living within an Empowerment Zone or Rural Renewal Community
  • Long Term Family Assistance Recipient (TANF) (formerly known as Welfare to Work)

The tax credit (a maximum of $9,600) is taken as a general business credit and is applied against tax liability on business income. It is limited to the amount of the business income tax liability or social security tax owed. Normal carry-back and carry-forward rules apply.
For qualified tax-exempt organizations, the credit is limited to the amount of employer social security tax owed on wages paid to all employees for the period the credit is claimed.
Also, an employer must obtain certification that an individual is a member of the targeted group before the employer may claim the credit.
Note: The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the PATH Act) retroactively allows eligible employers to claim the

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) for all targeted group employee categories that were in effect prior to the enactment of the PATH Act, if the individual began or begins work for the employer after December 31, 2014 and before January 1, 2020.

For tax-exempt employers, the PATH Act retroactively allows them to claim the WOTC for qualified veterans who begin work for the employer after December 31, 2014, and before January 1, 2020.


  1. Empowerment Zones

This tax credit provides businesses with an incentive to hire individuals who live and work (either full-time or part-time) in a federally designated Empowerment Zone (EZ). The credit is equal to 20 percent of the first $15,000 (up to $3,000) in wages earned in a taxable year if the employee lives and works in an empowerment zone (urban or rural). This credit can be combined with state enterprise zone credits as well.
(Note: In Virginia, there are Empowerment Zones located in

portions of Norfolk and Portsmouth.)


Note: The PATH Act extended the tax credit retroactively to apply to the period from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2016.


  1. Disabled Access Credit and the Barrier Removal Tax Deduction

Employers that hire disabled workers might also be able to take advantage of two additional tax credits in addition to the WOTC.


The Disabled Access Credit is a non-refundable credit for small businesses that incur expenditures for the purpose of providing

access to persons with disabilities. An eligible small business is one that earned $1 million or less or had no more than 30 full-time employees in the previous year; they may take the credit each and every year they incur access expenditures. Eligible expenditures include amounts paid or incurred to:


  1. Remove barriers that prevent a business from being accessible to or usable by individuals with disabilities;
  2. Provide qualified interpreters or other methods of making audio materials available to hearing-impaired individuals;
  3. Provide qualified readers, taped texts, and other methods of making visual materials available to individuals with

visual impairments; or

  1. Acquire or modify equipment or devices for individuals with disabilities.

The Architectural Barrier Removal Tax Deduction encourages businesses of any size to remove architectural and transportation barriers to the mobility of persons with disabilities and the elderly. Businesses may claim a deduction of up to $15,000 a year for qualified expenses for items that normally must be capitalized. Businesses claim the deduction by listing it as a separate expense on their income tax return.


Businesses may use the Disabled Tax Credit and the architectural/transportation tax deduction together in the same tax year if the expenses meet the requirements of both sections. To use both, the deduction is equal to the difference between the total

expenditures and the amount of the credit claimed.


  1. State Tax Credits

Many states use tax credits and deductions as incentives for hiring and job growth. Employers are eligible for these credits and

deductions when they create new jobs and hire employees that meet certain requirements. Examples include the New Employment Credit (NEC) in California and Empire Zone tax credits in New York.  Virginia includes numerous tax credits, including the Worker Retraining Tax Credit.


Wondering what tax breaks your business

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Nationwide Tax Preparation Rates

How Much Should You Expect To Pay For Tax Return Preparation?

(Note: Fees charged by Hampton Roads Accounting are about HALF the national average!)

Taxpayers looking to hire a professional to complete their tax return can expect to pay an average of $273 for an itemized Form 1040 with Schedule A and a state tax return, according to the National Society of Accountants (NSA). This is a 4.6 percent increase over the average fee last year, which was $261. It is an 11 percent increase from two years ago – the last time the survey was conducted.

The average cost to prepare a Form 1040 and state return without itemized deductions is $159, also a 4.6 percent increase over the average fee last year, which was $152. It is an 11.2 percent increase from two years ago.

“When you consider the time it takes to complete tax returns, this is a very strong value,” says NSA Executive Vice President John Ams. “The tax code continues to become more complex each year, including some new Affordable Care Act reporting requirements. Professional tax preparers may also be able to find tax deductions and credits that may taxpayers might not notice.”

The survey also reported the average fees for preparing additional Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax forms, including:

  • $174 for a Form 1040 Schedule C (business)
  • $634 for a Form 1065 (partnership)
  • $817 for a Form 1120 (corporation)
  • $778 for a Form 1120S (S corporation)
  • $457 for a Form 1041 (fiduciary)
  • $688 for a Form 990 (tax exempt)
  • $68 for a Form 940 (Federal unemployment)
  • $115 for Schedule D (gains and losses)
  • $126 for Schedule E (rental)
  • $158 for Schedule F (farm)

Save some money, visit our Tax Preparation page today and get started!


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Requesting EITC? Your Refund Will Be Delayed

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Tax Tips for Cleaning and Janitorial Companies

Cleaning homes, apartments, offices and other buildings can indeed be a chore, but one that can be incredibly rewarding, especially when you are paid well to do it.

The tips in this article apply to all cleaning companies and professionals, whether you provide janitorial services, commercial or residential cleaning, window cleaners, pressure/power washers, auto detailing, or any related business.  These tips are just as important (if not more so) to a one or two-person operation as they are to a company with dozens of employees.

Self-Employment Tax

If you ever worked for someone else and received a W-2, you and your employer each shared a responsibility for your taxes.  The employer withheld a portion from your paycheck, added an employer portion, and submitted them quarterly.

Most cleaning professionals are self-employed.  That means you are responsible to report and pay both the employee and employer portions of your taxes on a regular basis.  However, since you are in business, you can deduct the employer portion as a business expense.

Vehicle Expenses

Whether you use your personal vehicle for business use or have a separate vehicle just for business, you can deduct expenses related to your vehicle.  If you use your own vehicle for both personal use and for business use, you will need to track the business expenses separately.

Parking and Tolls

You can deduct fees and tolls related to your cleaning business.  If you have to pay for parking to clean an office or a home, it is a deductible expense.

Bus / Train / Other Public Transportation

If you have to travel by bus, train, taxi, or Uber/Lyft to go from job site to job site, you can deduct the cost of this transportation.  Keep all receipts.

While vehicle and transportation expenses will be a significant portion of your expenses, they aren’t the only ones you can deduct:


Newspaper ads, flyers, Facebook ads, postcards, imprinted pens, direct mail letters, and other related ways to market your business.  Even the costs of setting up a tent/booth at a local home show are deductible if you are advertising your business.  The cost of having a logo designed for your company – that’s deductible also.


Most cleaners need to have general liability insurance, which is a valid business expense.  Don’t claim vehicle insurance – that was already covered by the vehicle expenses.

Phone Service

If you have a separate phone line installed for your business, it is a valid expense.  Most people today use their cell phones for business.  If it is your personal phone, you will have to separate out the business use from personal use.

I have one client who uses her cell phone for business, and her customers communicate with her by text message.  Each month, she prints out her cell phone record and highlights the texts from her customers.  This is a great way to document actual business usage of her phone, and good records are needed to substantiate any type of deduction claimed on your tax returns.

Health Insurance

You are in business, and you need health insurance.  Your premiums may be deductible if your business makes a profit and you can’t enroll in an employer’s health plan (if you can be claimed on your spouse’s health plan, you can’t claim the deduction.)
Employer Portion of Social Security and Medicare

As noted earlier, you are responsible for both the employer and employee portions of employment taxes.  The good news is you can deduct the employer portion as a business expense.

Ordinary and Necessary Expenses

Any cleaning company has a lot of ordinary and necessary expenses to keep the operation going.  You can claim expenses for:

  • Wages you pay to employees or helpers
  • Tools
  • Machinery
  • Solvents, rags, gloves, and other supplies
  • Training and certifications you acquired

Keeping clear records is critical because it’s easy to forget small deductions over time, such as the fuel used to power your pressure washer. Keep receipts for all business-related costs to show the IRS in case you are audited.
You can deduct larger items, like a floor buffer or pressure washer, over time because it is considered a “capital purchase”. You can spread the deduction of a “capital purchase” over the number of years you expect the item to last. For example, if a floor buffer costing $1300 is expected to last five years:

  • $1300 x 20% = $260. $260 is the deduction you can claim each year for five years.

These are just a few of the many business items a new cleaning business must keep in mind.   If you need help in setting up your new business or want to discuss how you can improve your operations, please contact our office.

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Starting Business as a Sole Proprietor? Let’s Talk

Getting started in a business is a challenging and exciting time. Many new businesses are set up as a sole proprietorship.  This basic form of business entity is very easy to start, requires almost no paperwork, and has the simplest records requirements.  It is also the form chosen by many people who have been making money at a hobby, and want to turn their hobby into a real business.

If you are thinking about starting a business as a sole proprietor, take a look at some of the advantages and pitfalls of this business type:


  • Start up costs are very low.
  • Income generated by the business is YOUR income.
  • You control all the functions of your business.
  • You don’t file separate tax returns for the business – the business information is part of your personal tax return.
  • You may or may not have employees.
  • You can sell or close your business at any time.  You can even pass it down to your children.


  • Banks are very reluctant to give loans to sole proprietors.  See the list of benefits above.  Since you can close your doors at any time, you are seen as a business risk.
  • YOU are personally liable for any debt incurred by your business.  If your business is sued or someone gets hurt as a result of your business, your home and personal assets are at risk.
  • As your business becomes profitable, your personal tax obligation increases.
  • Health insurance for your employees is not deductible.
  • If you die, your business ceases to exist.  All assets are liquidated and become part of your estate.  Your family could be burdened with large estate or inheritance taxes.
  • Sole proprietors are four times more likely to be audited than other business forms.

For some businesses, being a sole proprietor makes perfect sense.  Bookkeepers, small housekeeping services, tutors and freelance writers come to mind as businesses perfect for the sole proprietor model.  For many businesses, other forms could be a better choice.

For new (and existing) business owners in our area, Hampton Roads Accounting meets with prospective clients to discuss their business plans and needs.  Together, we can take a look at your business idea, discuss which business form would be best for your situation, and plan your next steps to make your business dream a reality.

There is no cost or obligation for this initial consultation, so give us a call, send us an email, or complete the form on our website to get started.  We’ll be in touch right away.

Hampton Roads Accounting focuses on helping small business owners in the following cities: Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and the surrounding area.


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Tax Savings from Higher Education Costs

Money you paid for higher education in 2015 can mean tax savings in 2016. If you, your spouse or your dependent took post-high school coursework last year, there may be a tax credit or deduction for you. Here are some facts from the IRS about key tax breaks for higher education.

The American Opportunity Credit (AOTC) is:

  • Worth up to $2,500 per eligible student.
  • Used only for the first four years at an eligible college or vocational school.
  • For students earning a degree or other recognized credential.
  • For students going to school at least half-time for at least one academic period that started  during or shortly after the tax year. Claimed on your tax return using Form 8863, Education Credits.

The Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) is:

  • Worth up to $2,000 per tax return, per year, no matter how many students qualify.
  • For all years of higher education, including classes for learning or improving job skills.
  • Claimed on your tax return using Form 8863, Education Credits.

The Tuition and Fees Deduction is:

  • Claimed as an adjustment to income.
  • Claimed whether or not you itemize.
  • Limited to tuition and certain related expenses required for enrollment or attendance at eligible schools.
  • Worth up to $4,000.


  • You should receive Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, from your school by Feb. 1, 2016. Your school also sends a copy to the IRS.
  • You may only claim qualifying expenses paid in 2015.
  • You can’t claim either credit if someone else claims you as a dependent.
  • You can’t claim either AOTC or LLC and the Tuition and Fees Deduction for the same student or for the same expense, in the same year.
  • Income limits could reduce the amount of credits or deductions you can claim.
  • Contact Hampton Roads Accounting today for help and to check your eligibility.
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Do you know who you are hiring?

Did you know?

  • 45% of all resumes contain one fabrication, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
  • 6% of annual revenue is lost due to employee fraud.
  • 17% of all crimes occur in the workplace.

Hampton Roads Accounting is excited to announce…

that we now offer simple and affordable background services through our partnership with National Crime Search (NCS).  Through our website, we can now provide you complete employment screening solutions.  Our partnership provides you with secure and affordable access to a web-based multi-state criminal and sex offender directory that includes over 507 million criminal records.

To learn more about this fast, affordable service, just visit:

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Choosing the Correct Filing Status

It’s important to use the right filing status when you file your tax return. The status you choose can affect the amount of tax you owe for the year. It may even determine if you must file a tax return. Keep in mind that your marital status on Dec. 31 is your status for the whole year. Sometimes more than one filing status may apply to you. If that happens, choose the one that allows you to pay the least amount of tax.

Here’s a list of the five filing statuses:

1. Single. This status normally applies if you aren’t married. It applies if you are divorced or legally separated under state law.

2. Married Filing Jointly. If you’re married, you and your spouse can file a joint tax return. If your spouse died in 2015, you can often file a joint return for that year.

3. Married Filing Separately. A married couple can choose to file two separate tax returns. This may benefit you if it results in less tax owed than if you file a joint tax return. You may want to prepare your taxes both ways before you choose. You can also use it if you want to be responsible only for your own tax.

4. Head of Household. In most cases, this status applies if you are not married, but there are some special rules. For example, you must have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for yourself and a qualifying person. Don’t choose this status by mistake. Be sure to check all the rules.

5. Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child. This status may apply to you if your spouse died during 2013 or 2014 and you have a dependent child. Other conditions also apply.

Any questions?  Contact us today!

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The Earned Income Tax Credit

The Earned Income Tax Credit has helped workers with low and moderate incomes get a tax break for 40 years. Yet, one out of every five eligible workers fails to claim it. Here are some things you should know about this valuable credit:

  • Review Your Eligibility. If you worked and earned under $53,267, you may qualify for EITC. If your income or family situation has changed, you should review the EITC eligibility rules. You might qualify for EITC this year even if you didn’t in the past. If you qualify for EITC you must file a federal income tax return and claim the credit to get it. This is true even if you are not otherwise required to file a tax return. Don’t guess about your EITC eligibility. Use the EITC Assistant tool on The tool can help you hiver find out if you qualify for the credit. It can also estimate the amount of your EITC.
  • Know the Rules. You need to understand the rules before you claim the EITC, to be sure you qualify. It’s important that you get this right. Here are some factors you should consider:

o If you are married and file a separate return you do not qualify for EITC.

o You must have a Social Security number that is valid for employment for yourself, your spouse, if married, and any qualifying child listed on your tax return.

o You must have earned income. Earned income includes earnings from working for someone else or working for yourself.

o You may be married or single, with or without children to qualify. If you don’t have children, you must also meet age, residency and dependency rules. If you have a child who lived with you for more than six months of 2015, the child must meet age, residency, relationship and the joint return rules to qualify.

o If you are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces serving in a combat zone, special rules apply.

  • Lower Your Tax or Get a Refund. If you qualify for EITC, you could pay less federal tax, no tax or even get a refund. EITC could be worth up to $6,242. The average credit was $2,447 last year.

For more on EITC, see IRS Publication 596, Earned Income Credit. It’s available in English and Spanish on

Each and Identity every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are yourTaxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on

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Tax Refund Debit Cards No Longer Issued Effective Jan. 1

Effective Mob: Jan. 1, cheap mlb jerseys 2016, Virginia will no longer issue tax refunds on pre-paid debit cards. You can choose to have your refund issued as a direct deposit into your wholesale jerseys bank account or as a check by mail.

We encourage the use of Ncaa direct deposit as the safest, fastest site and most cost-efficient method for receiving a refund.

Any tax refund debit card issued during the past three years with an outstanding balance is Чегемские still valid and may continue to be used. These debit cards are administered Losses by the Go Program, a service deduction of cheap mlb jerseys Xerox State and Local Solutions. Making If you have questions, call the cheap nba jerseys Go Program at 1-855-409-0580.

(originally from the Virginia Dept of Taxation, 12/30/15)

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