Timeline

6 Tips About Rental Income

Do you rent property to others? If so, you’ll want to read the following seven tips about rental income and expenses.

You generally must include in your gross income all amounts you receive as rent. Rental income is any payment you receive for the use of or occupation of property. Expenses of renting property can be deducted from your gross rental income. You generally deduct your rental expenses in the year you pay them.

When to report income. You generally must report rental income on your tax return in the year that you actually receive it.

1. Advance rent. Advance rent is any amount you receive before the period that it covers.  Include advance rent in your rental income in the year you receive it, regardless of the period covered.

2. Security deposits. Do not include a security deposit in your income when you receive it if you plan to return it to your tenant at the end of the lease. But if you keep part or all of the security deposit during any year because your tenant does not live up to the terms of the lease, include the amount you keep in your income in that year.

3. Property or services in lieu of rent.  If you receive property or services, instead of money, as rent, include the fair market value of the property or services in your rental income.  If the services are provided at an agreed upon or specified price, that price is the fair market value unless there is evidence to the contrary.

4. Expenses paid by tenant. If your tenant pays any of your expenses, the payments are rental income. You must include them in your income. You can deduct the expenses if they are deductible rental expenses.

5. Rental expenses.  Generally, the expenses of renting your property, such as maintenance, insurance, taxes, and interest, can be deducted from your rental income.

6. Personal use of vacation home. If you have any personal use of a vacation home or other dwelling unit that you rent out, you must divide your expenses between rental use and personal use.  If your expenses for rental use are more than your rental income, you may not be able to deduct all of the rental expenses.

7 Tax Tips for Job Seekers

Many taxpayers spend time during the summer months updating their résumé and attending career fairs.

Here are seven things this office wants you to know about deducting costs related to your job search.

1. To qualify for a deduction, the expenses must be spent on a job search in your current occupation. You may not deduct expenses you incur while looking for a job in a new occupation.

2. You can deduct employment and outplacement agency fees you pay while looking for a job in your present occupation. If your employer pays you back in a later year for employment agency fees, you must include the amount you receive in your gross income, up to the amount of your tax benefit in the earlier year.

3. You can deduct amounts you spend for preparing and mailing copies of your résumé to prospective employers as long as you are looking for a new job in your present occupation.

4. If you travel to an area to look for a new job in your present occupation, you may be able to deduct travel expenses to and from the area. You can only deduct the travel expenses if the trip is primarily to look for a new job. The amount of time you spend on personal activity compared to the amount of time you spend looking for work is important in determining whether the trip is primarily personal or is primarily to look for a new job.

5. You cannot deduct job search expenses if there was a substantial break between the end of your last job and the time you begin looking for a new one.

6. You cannot deduct job search expenses if you are looking for a job for the first time.

7. The amount of job search expenses that you can claim on your tax return is limited. You can claim the amount that is more than 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.  You figure your deduction on Schedule A.

Online Tax Preparation – Is it safe?

In today’s economic climate more people are preparing their own taxes online.  For most taxpayers, this is an acceptable method.  Especially when you could end of paying hundreds of dollars to a tax preparer, even for simple returns.  If your going to preparer your taxes online be advised there are dozens of Web-based programs that will help you electronically prepare, store, and file your tax returns, either free or for a relatively modest charge.  Choosing the right online tax preparation site could be tricky.  While e-filing, in itself, may be safe, it’s important to remember that every time you or a family member goes online, you’re exposed to certain privacy and security risks. Cyber scammers look for any and all opportunities when you’re more susceptible to their malicious tricks. And tax season is one of these opportunities.

If you’re planning to use the Internet to e-file tax returns – or even to prepare your information for yourself or your accountant using online tools – remember that your files contain personally identifiable information; in the hands of the wrong person, it’s more than enough needed to steal your identity.

  • Be extra vigilant about impostors – This time of year, you need to be especially cautious when it comes to phishing schemes pushing fake e-mail and attachments. Check with your own country’s taxation office to determine what communications you should expect from it, if any. If you’re located within the US, ignore incoming e-mail that supposedly comes from the IRS. The IRS will not initiate communication with taxpayers through e-mail; that means the IRS will not request passwords or personal information through e-mail, and it also will not send out mass e-mail alerts. You should also verify that the sites you use are secure – and that you are on a legitimate site – before entering confidential information. If you plan to prepare and file your income tax returns with the help of tax preparation software, use a reputable tax e-filing program that treats your security as a top priority.
  • Keep in mind, if it looks too good to be true… It probably is! Be wary of socially engineered scams designed to appeal to your desire to file quickly, easily, and to get the biggest refund back. Each year at tax season, scammers begin unleashing online tricks related to fake audits, phony refunds, and supposed tax planning help.
  • Beef-up your passwords – Use strong, secure passwords for any important interactions. Security analysts agree that passwords should be at least 8 characters long and made up of both letters and numbers. Quick tip: try using a memorable phrase with a year or number in it, and then take the first letter in each word to form the password. For example, the phrase “USA beat Russia to the moon in 1969” would give you the password, “UbRttmi1969.”

What should you do if you have received a suspicious tax-related e-mail? In order for it to be investigated and for the proper authorities to be notified, report the issue to the organization or company that the message is purportedly from. The information in the e-mail you forward may be used to trace the host and alert authorities to help shut down fraudulent sites.

If you’re located in the US, forward suspicious messages to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov; if you’re located in Canada, report fraudulent communications to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Phonebusters by e-mail at info@phonebusters.com; if you’re located in Australia, complaints can be sent to the Australian Tax Office at ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au. To find reporting information for other countries, you can visit your taxation organization’s website – most will list contact information for how to report scams, fraud, and phishing.

For reliable online self preparation tax software please go to

https://fileonline.1040.com/1040/default.aspx?did=154811

All in a Mobile Notary Days Work

The other morning, while on my way into the La Jolla, Calif office I do accounting for, the strap on my shoe broke!  Well, I am about 6 months pregnant and still always “On the Go” so this was a little discouraging for 8:30 in the morning.  I thought to myself, as I walked barefooted down the hall, “well great, I hope this is not a precursor to how the rest of my day is going to go!”  Of course once I got into the office, it gave everyone a good morning laugh and made the day a little brighter.  After getting settled in, I found a tack and pinned the strap of my shoe back into place.  I only work about five hours at this office so I figured the quick fix would get me through.  I had no other appointments for that day and planned on just going straight home afterwards.

Around 10:30 a.m., I got a call for a notary job in Poway, Calif. at 3:00 p.m.  After confirming the location and time with the client via email, I realized not only did I not have a working shoe but I didn’t have my notary bag either.  Now this may seem crazy for a mobile notary but there is a method to my madness.  I try not to bring my notary bag with me every day because if I leave it in the car and it gets stolen I could be fined.  Hence, if I have my notary bag with me, I have to carry it around all day long.

So, in order to get to my notary appointment on time, I leave La Jolla around 1:00 p.m., drive to San Diego, Normal Heights area, and pick up a functioning pair of shoes, my notary bag and head back up to Poway.  I make my appointment time with 15 minutes to spare! Whew!  And to my surprise, I had arrived at a new brewery called Ballast Point Brewing Company. It’s not every day you get to notarize at a brewery.  Now obviously I couldn’t test out any of the product but it seemed to be very popular for 3 p.m. on a Friday afternoon.  The notary signing went off without any problems and I had another satisfied customer.  I left feeling accomplished and happy that the day, although very busy, turned out to be better than originally anticipated!  As I drove home, I giggled and thought to myself “all in a day’s work!”

What is a Notary Public?

My name is Lacy Italiano and I am a San Diego Mobile Notary.  I was commissioned for the first time in San Diego, Calif. in 2006 and then again in 2010.  When I was originally commissioned, I worked for an office that wanted me as a Notary for their clients.  I’m not even sure I knew exactly what a Notary Public was at the time but I was always eager to add more positive qualifications to my resume.  Since that office job, I have begun my own business and expanded my notary services to mobile notary services in and around San Diego County.  In my time serving as a San Diego Mobile Notary, it has come to my attention that often people don’t know what a Notary Public is until they need one and even then, they don’t always understand exactly what the responsibilities or role of a notary public is.

So what is a Notary Public?

A Notary Public is an official of integrity appointed by state government—typically by the secretary of state — to serve the public as an impartial witness in performing a variety of official fraud-deterrent acts related to the signing of important documents.

It is the foremost duty of a Notary to screen the signers of particularly sensitive instruments — such as property deeds, wills and powers of attorney — for their true identity, their willingness to sign without duress or intimidation, and their awareness of the general import of the document. Some notarizations also require the Notary to put the signer under an oath declaring under penalty of perjury that the information contained in a document is true and correct.

Impartiality is the byword of the Notary office and the foundation of its public trust. Notaries are duty-bound not to act in situations where they have a personal interest. The public trusts that the Notary’s critical screening tasks have not been corrupted by self-interest. And impartiality dictates that a Notary never refuses to serve a person due to race, nationality, religion, politics, sexual orientation or status as a non-customer.

As official representatives of the state, Notaries Public certify the proper execution of many of the life-changing documents of private citizens — whether those diverse transactions convey real estate, grant powers of attorney, establish a prenuptial agreement, or perform the multitude of other activities that enable our civil society to function.

In this modern era when business transactions between complete strangers are the norm rather than the exception, Notaries engender a trust that the critical signed documents we rely on are authentic. Such trust enables the sensitive documents of commerce and law to be exchanged between strangers with full confidence in their reliability.

Almost everyone will need a Notary for something once in their life.  When that time comes, you want to ensure that the Notary you hire is going to be competent, reliable and in good standing with their commissioning body.   So when you are looking for a San Diego Mobile Notary who embodies these qualities, give me a call.  I am San Diego’s “On the Go Notary Pro”!