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John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

My Blog

4 Tax Benefits for People with Disabilities

August 4, 2015 1:54 am

Now 25 years old, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) continues to provide assistance to people with disabilities, including help in the form of tax benefits and services. According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), people with disabilities can benefit from the following.

1. ABLE Accounts – A newer program, tax-favored ABLE accounts are designed to enable people who became disabled before age 26 and their families to save for and pay for disability-related expenses. Any state can offer its residents the option of setting up an account, or can contract with another state that offers such accounts.

Contributions totaling up to the annual gift tax exclusion amount, currently $14,000, can be made to an ABLE account each year, and distributions are tax-free if used to pay qualified disability expenses.

2. Tax Credits – Low-and moderate-income workers and working families often qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable credit that varies by income, filing status and family size. Although many eligible taxpayers with disabilities get the EITC, the IRS estimates as many as 1.5 million others miss out on it each year because they fail to file a federal income tax return.

Generally, eligible taxpayers can still file a return claiming the credit for tax year 2012, 2013 or 2014. People can see if they qualify by visiting IRS.gov.

The credit for child and dependent care expenses can also help working taxpayers paying the cost of caring for a spouse or dependent who is physically or mentally unable to care for themselves. To claim the credit, use Form 2441. Publication 503 contains further details.

3. Deductions
– Taxpayers with disabilities can deduct various impairment-related work expenses on their federal income tax return. Both employees and self-employed individuals may qualify.

In addition, various unreimbursed disability-related expenses qualify as deductible medical expenses. However, to get a tax benefit, an eligible taxpayer must itemize their deductions on Schedule A, and their total medical expenses must exceed 10 percent of their adjusted gross income (7.5 percent for taxpayers who are at least age 65). Eligible expenses include:

• Artificial limbs, contact lenses, eyeglasses and hearing aids

• Cost and repair of special telephone equipment for people who are deaf or hard of hearing

• Cost and maintenance of a wheelchair

• Cost and care of a guide dog or service animal

• Within limits, premiums for qualified long-term care insurance

For a detailed list of qualifying medical expenses, see Publication 502.

4. Tax Help – Publication 907, available on IRS.gov, highlights these and other tax benefits for people with disabilities, including special rules for reporting disability income. During the tax-filing season, trained community volunteers prepare tax returns for low-and moderate-income taxpayers, including many people with disabilities, at thousands of neighborhood tax help sites nationwide through the IRS-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs.

Year round, the IRS also offers a variety of helpful resources through the Accessibility link on IRS.gov. These include accessible IRS forms, instructions and publications that can be downloaded or viewed online in text-only format, Braille-ready files, browser-friendly HTML, accessible PDF, large print and ePub for mobile devices. The IRS has also produced 100 YouTube videos in American Sign Language on topics ranging from the Taxpayer Bill of Rights to the EITC.

In addition, taxpayers can request reasonable accommodations for services in any federally funded or federally assisted tax program or facility.

Source: IRS.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Your Property: Early Fall Color a Sign of Stress

August 4, 2015 1:54 am

The color-changing foliage of autumn is one of nature’s finest shows. If you’re fortunate enough to have mature trees on your property, take note of when leaves start to change – does it seem early?

A too-early transformation may signal a stressed tree, says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA).

“Premature colors can be an indication that a tree isn’t vigorous enough to withstand insects and disease organisms that may attack it, not to mention the usual changes that occur when the weather turns cold,” explains Andersen. “Occasionally, only one or two limbs of the tree will show premature fall color. This could a sign of a disease at work, weakening only the infected limbs.”

The more common situation is for the entire tree to exhibit premature fall coloration, a phenomenon usually linked to root-related stress.

“Trees respond to these stresses by trying to curtail their above-ground growth,” says Andersen.

To better understand how leaves change prematurely, think of them as small factories containing raw materials, products and by-products, all in chemical form and some with color. As the leaf is “abandoned” by the tree, the green chlorophyll – the dominant chemical found in most leaves – is broken down and “recycled,” leaving behind other colored chemicals. Supply lines to the leaves also become clogged. If the major chemical remaining in the abandoned leaf is red, the leaf turns red. If it’s yellow, the leaf turns yellow.

“The yearly variation in color intensity is due to varying weather conditions, which can affect the balance of chemicals and their composition in the leaves," Andersen says.

Differing amounts of rainfall, sunlight, temperature, humidity and other factors may have an effect on how bright, how quickly and how long "leaf-peeping" season will be in any given year.

If the leaves on your trees seem to have gotten a jump start on fall compared to other similar species in the area, it may be time to consult with a professional arborist who can identify problems and offer solutions.

Source: TCIA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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