FAMILY COMPUTER SECURITY

COMPUTER SECURITY – Talk to Your Family about Security Online and at Home

For families with children and aging parents, it’s important to make sure everyone guards their personal information online and at home.

The IRS, state revenue departments and the tax industry have teamed up to combat identity theft in the tax arena. Especially in families that use the same computer, students should be warned against turning off any security software in use or opening any suspicious emails. They should be instructed to never click on embedded links or download attachments of emails from unknown sources.

Identity thieves are just one of many predators plying the Internet. And, actions by one computer user could infect the machine for all users. That’s a concern when dealing with personal financial details or tax information.

Kids should be warned against oversharing personal information on social media. But oversharing about home addresses, a new family car or a parent’s new job gives identity thieves a window into an extra bit of information they need to impersonate you.

Aging parents also are prime targets for identity thieves. If they are browsing the Internet, they made need to the same conversation about online security, avoiding spam email schemes and oversharing on social media.

They may also need assistance for someone to routinely review charges to their credit cards, withdrawals from their financial accounts. Unused credit cards should be canceled. An annual review should be made of their credit reports to ensure no new accounts are being opened by thieves, and reviewing the Social Security Administration account to ensure no excessive income is accruing to their account.

Seniors also are especially vulnerable to scam calls and pressure from fraudsters posing as legitimate organizations, including the Internal Revenue Service, and demanding payment for debts not owed. The IRS will never make threats of lawsuit or jail or demand that a certain payment method, such as a debit card, be made.

Fraudsters will try to trick seniors, telling them they have won a grand prize in a contest or that a relative needs money – anything to persuade a person to give up personal information such as their Social Security number or financial account information.

Some simple steps – and a conversation – can help the young and old avoid identity theft schemes and scammers.

APPLICABLE LARGE EMPLOYERS (ALE) – Health Information Reporting

APPLICABLE LARGE EMPLOYERS – Eight (8) Things ALEs Should Know about Information Reporting and Health Coverage Offers

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires “Applicable Large Employers” (ALE) to file information reporting returns with the IRS and employees. ALEs are generally those employers with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees in the preceding calendar year.

The vast majority of employers are not ALEs and are not subject to this health care tax provision.  However, those who are must use IRS Form 1094-C, Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns, and IRS Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage, to report the information about offers of health coverage  and enrollment in health coverage for their employees.

Here are Eight (8) things ALEs should know about the information returns they must file at the beginning of 2016.

  1. Form 1095-C is used to report information about each employee who was a full-time employee of the ALE member for any month of the calendar year.
  2. Form 1094-C must be used to report to the IRS summary information for each employer, and to transmit Forms 1095-C to the IRS.
  3. ALEs file a separate Form 1095-C for each of its full-time employees, and a transmittal on Form 1094-C for all of the returns filed for a given calendar year.
  4. Employers that offer employer-sponsored self-insured coverage use Form 1095-C to report information to the IRS and to employees about individuals who have minimum essential coverage under the employer plan.
  5. The information reported on Form 1094-C and Form 1095-C is used in determining whether an employer owes a payment under the employer shared responsibility provisions.
  6. Form 1095-C is used by the IRS and the employee in determining the eligibility of the employee for the premium tax credit.
  7. An ALE may satisfy this requirement by filing a substitute form, but the substitute form must include all of the information required on Form 1094-C and Form 1095-C and satisfy all form and content requirements as specified by the IRS.
  8. Forms 1094-C and 1095-C, or a substitute form must be filed regardless of whether the ALE member offers coverage, or the employee enrolls in any coverage offered.

IRA REMINDERS – IRA Year-End Planning

IRA Year-End Reminders

Individual Retirement Accounts, or IRAs, are important vehicles for you to save for retirement. If you have an IRA or plan to start one soon, there are a few key year-end rules that you should know. Here are the top year-end IRA reminders from the IRS:

  • Know the contribution and deduction limits. You can contribute up to a maximum of $5,500 ($6,500 if you are age 50 or older) to a traditional or Roth IRA. If you file a joint return, you and your spouse can each contribute to an IRA even if only one of you has taxable compensation. You have until April 18, 2016, to make an IRA contribution for 2015. In some cases, you may need to reduce your deduction for your traditional IRA contributions. This rule applies if you or your spouse has a retirement plan at work and your income is above a certain level.

  • Avoid excess contributions.  If you contribute more than the IRA limits for 2015, you are subject to a six percent tax on the excess amount. The tax applies each year that the excess amounts remain in your account. You can avoid the tax if you withdraw the excess amounts from your account by the due date of your 2015 tax return (including extensions).

  • Take required distributions.  If you’re at least age 70½, you must take a “Required Minimum Distribution”, or RMD, from your traditional IRA. You are not required to take a RMD from your Roth IRA. You normally must take your RMD by Dec. 31, 2015. That deadline is April 1, 2016, if you turned 70½ in 2015. If you have more than one traditional IRA, you figure the RMD separately for each IRA. However, you can withdraw the total amount from one or more of them. If you don’t take your RMD on time you face a 50 percent excise tax on the RMD amount you failed to take out.

  • IRA distributions may affect your premium tax credit. If you take a distribution from your IRA at the end of the year and expect to claim the PTC, you should exercise caution regarding the amount of the distribution.  Taxable distributions increase your household income, which can make you ineligible for the PTC.  You will become ineligible if the increase causes your household income for the year to be above 400 percent of the Federal poverty line for your family size. In this circumstance, you must repay the entire amount of any advance payments of the premium tax credit that were made to your health insurance provider on your behalf.