Have Your Accounting Questions Answered

September 28 has been designated as Ask a Stupid Question Day, a holiday begun in the 1980s by teachers that wanted to encourage their students to step outside their comfort zones and ask questions without fear of looking ignorant. Though the official date is the 28th, the holiday is actually observed each year on the last school day of September, which most years fall on the 30th. Taxes Overwhelmed

In the accounting world, we speak a different language. We live and breathe numbers all day and when we do get around to using English, the terms we use often have entirely different meanings in the non-accounting world. For this reason, we agree with teachers that there really is no such thing as a stupid question, and we are devoting our blog from today through the end of October as a forum to ask whatever accounting-related questions you may have.

Here are a few frequently asked accounting questions and answers to get the discussion started:

What’s the best strategy to lower my personal income taxes: Keeping your income tax liability as low as possible is largely dependent on taking advantage of all available credits and deductions you are entitled to. For example, it is estimated that a quarter of all taxpayers that are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) fail to claim it. Missing this important credit alone can cost a taxpayer several hundred (and in some cases several thousand) dollars each year. So in short, the best strategy to keep your taxes low is to become aware of all the available credits and deductions you have or work with a CPA that has in-depth expertise in this area.

I hardly made any money last year, do I still have to file income taxes: The IRS only requires you to file an income tax return (for 2013) if your individual income is $10,000 or higher or if married filing jointly, the combined income of you and your spouse is $20,000 or higher. However, even if your income falls below these thresholds, you should still file, because you are likely to qualify for the EITC, the child tax credit if you have children and perhaps others.

What tax credits are available for college students: College students can take advantage of either the American Opportunity Tax Credit ($2500 per student) or Lifetime Learning Credit ($2000 per tax return). It is best to speak with a CPA about which credit is most advantageous in your particular situation.

When am I allowed to take the home office deduction: The home office deduction is available for taxpayers that have a portion of their home dedicated exclusively to their business and it is the principle place of business or for regular meetings with clients or customers. As of 2013, the IRS has simplified this deduction by allowing taxpayers to claim $5 for every square foot of the home dedicated to business up to a maximum of 300 square feet.

When does it make sense to for a married couple to file separately instead of jointly: There are times when a married couple can benefit by filing separately. Generally, this would be a good move if one spouse incurred a large amount of expenses, losses and/or has some other large itemized deductions and the incomes of each spouse are about the same.

If you have any questions about accounting principles or taxes, then please contact a professional accountant to ensure you are getting the correct answers and advice about your financial situation. The IRS may not accept ‘I didn’t know’ as an acceptable answer to their audit questions.

Scroll to Top