SR&ED and the Federal Budget

The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program, introduced in the 1980s, is a federal tax incentive program administered by the Canadian Revenue Agency, which provided $3.6 billion in tax assistance for research and development in 2011. In the past year, the SR&ED or SRED program was reviewed by a panel led by OpenText’s Thomas Jenkins which led to a series of recommended changes to the program presented to the federal government. Despite dramatic speculations of program overhauls in anticipation of the budget, the SR&ED program continues to be one of the most lucrative R&D incentive programs in the industrial world, with the enhanced Investment Tax Credit (for smaller businesses) rate maintained at 35%.

Current eligible SR&ED expenditures are based on salary and wages, materials, overhead, contracts, and capital expenditures. The 2012 federal budget proposed four core adjustments to the program. The proposed changes are as follows: the Prescribed Proxy Amount (PPA) method of overhead calculation is to be reduced from 65 to 55 percent of direct labour costs by 2014; capital costs will no longer be eligible for the credit in 2014 and onward; eligible third-party contract payments will decrease from 100 to 80 percent in 2013; and the General Investment Tax Credit (for large corporations and foreign-owned companies) will see a five-percent reduction from 20 percent to 15 percent in 2014.

Capital-intensive industries will be affected through the first two recommended changes. SR&ED overhead costs are calculated by one of two approaches: a direct method approach, and an indirect approach using a percentage of labour (proxy) expenditures. The Prescribed Proxy Amount (PPA) is seeing a 10-percent reduction to 55 percent in a two-phase implementation; the PPA will be reduced to 60 percent in 2013, and 55 percent in 2012. The elimination of capital from the SR&ED expenditure base will have an impact on industries reliant on the purchase and upgrade of equipment and machinery.

Currently, 100 percent of eligible sub-contract payments can be claimed as SR&ED expenditures, which will be marginally reduced 20 percent effective 2013. The largest SR&ED program savings will accumulate from the reduction of the general rate investment tax credit, applying primarily to larger corporations and foreign-owned entities. The general ITC was reduced from 20 to 15 percent.  The recommendations will have limited effect on small- and medium-sized Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (CCPCs), as these companies will retain the enhanced 35-percent ITC rate on the first $3 million of expenditures. Overall, the changes to the SR&ED program will contribute to a simplified process, supported through additional funds allocated to improving the administration of the program.

This article was written by Mahrie Boyle, SR&ED and OIDMTC Team Specialist with NorthBridge Consultants.

Tax Filing Assistance For Taxpayers

If you are yet to file your federal income tax returns for 2012, luck is at hand. This year, you will have a couple of additional days to do it.

Rather than the usual 15th April deadline, taxpayers can send their returns in as late as midnight 17th April.

A spokesman for the IRS, Christopher Miller, assured people that they have no need to panic.

The 2 day extension has been granted because the 15th falls on a Sunday, followed by Emancipation Day on the 16th, which is a federal holiday in the Colombia District.

As ever, according to Miller, lots of tax filing assistance is provided for filers completing returns at the last minute. For example, taxpayers can visit www.irs.gov/freefile and utilize the free IRS File on the internet. It provides complimentary software to e file and prepare taxes.

Miller stated that the group of tax help software businesses, called Free File Alliance, have affiliated with the IRS Volunteer Program for Income Tax Assistance to aid a greater number of lower and moderate level taxpayers. With this new affiliation, software is accessible at self serve computer terminals located in virtually 300 areas throughout 29 states, which includes the Quad Cities.

The group executive director, Tim Hugo, said that the Free File Alliance aims to offer online e filing and preparation services for US residents who may not be capable of paying for professional tax filing assistance or tax software.

The program, that started in 2003, offers people who earn $50000.00 or below complimentary tax preparation, along with personal tax help at nationwide locations. IRS certified voluntary staff assist taxpayers in the completion of their yearly tax returns, and offer tax credit information about credits that some taxpayers may be able to claim, like Child Tax Credits, Credits for the Disabled or Elderly and Earned Income Tax Credits.

At a local level, this program is managed by Quad Cities United Way and by additional sponsors, according to Scott Crane, who is president of the Quad City United Way company.

Crane said that, during the previous year, they did 5500 returns and that this year, by the 1st March, they were 15% up. Apparently, this meant that $5.5 million was returned back to the community last year.

The program ends on 14th April and is reachable in numerous local sites. These include the offices of the United Way in Davenport.

Paul Gilbert is a retired agent for the IRS from Davenport, who recently decided to volunteer for the program. Gilbert claimed that he has seen a constant stream of clients, while he was helping a client in the offices of the United Way.

LaVaughn Narbone, from Moline, started at the United Way the previous week, having learned about the program through a referral.

Narbone said that she had her taxes for this year completed in the Rock Island Martin Luther King Center, but that she also needed to complete her returns for the previous two years. The King Center, unfortunately, did not possess the correct software for doing this.

Sharon Scott from Davenport, another client, has used the program for a decade. She said she loves it because it is free and extremely thorough.

The H&R Block manager at Rock Island (1610 2nd Ave), Darnett Aldridge, claimed that lots of people are making use of his business’s offer to re assess tax returns which have been completed somewhere else.

Aldridge stated that many people who complete returns do it incorrectly and that he can sometimes save people as much as $10000.00.

The IRS said that most tax returns are electronically filed. A taxpayer that e files utilizes tax software which usually incorporates a question and answer style format. This format ensures that taxpayers get all of the deductions and credits to which they are entitled. Generally, the rate of error for e filed returns is lower than 1%, compared to about 20% for paper filed returns, according to the IRS.

Miller stated that people who are falling behind schedule can request a deadline extension on the internet, or by completing a 4868 Form.

Miller said that deadline extensions relate to tax filing, not to the time people have to pay the taxes they owe.

People who are unable to meet the tax paying deadline can phone the IRS to make arrangements for payment.

Miller added that a Fresh Start initiative was recently expanded by the IRS, which tries to help struggling taxpayers review their options for payment.

The owner of 4 Liberty Tax Services franchise offices, Theresa Harris, said she can see identical trends occurring this year that mirror trends which have occurred in the past.

Harris said that some people wanted their cash instantly, but then everything slowed down by March. Now though, she said the business owners who have to pay and the procrastinators are appearing. Apparently, this is exactly what happened over the past few years.

5 Tips For Self-Employed Taxpayers

When an individual works for themselves, he or she is considered self-employed for taxes, which means the individual is responsible for paying and filing taxes on a scheduled basis. These individuals will have some advantages and disadvantages at tax time.

Five Tips For Self-Employed Taxpayers

  1. A self-employed individual will have to pay income and self-employment tax. The self-employment tax includes Social Security and Medicare taxes. Normally these taxes are withheld from an individual’s wages, but a self-employed individual will have to pay these taxes by filing a Form 1040 Schedule SE. However, the individual does get to deduct half of this tax from his or her income on Form 1040.
  2. The earnings will need to be reported on a Schedule C or C-EZ Tax Form. This form will show whether an individual made money from a business or had a loss from the business. It will be used in addition to the Form 1040 and Schedule SE.
  3. Sometimes, a self-employed person will have to make estimated tax payments during the year. Even though some people work as an employee on other jobs with taxes withheld, it is still important to make these estimated taxes if an individual has any self-employed income. An underpayment of taxes at the end of the year could result in a penalty. Therefore, making quarterly estimated tax payments will save the individual from being penalized for underpaying.
  4. If an individual had business expenses, these will be listed and deducted from the Schedule C earnings. The expenses must have concurred during the current tax year to claim as a deduction. A business expense is one that is common and necessary for the operation of that business.
  5. Many common deductions can be overlooked, such as printing business cards and postage. Forgetting about a deduction can cause an individual to pay more taxes.

An independent contractor or sole proprietor of a business will have different tax obligations than an employee. For instance, the self-employed individual will pay more Social Security and Medicare taxes than an individual who is not self-employed. An employer will pay part of these two taxes for their employees, but a self-employed individual will be responsible for all of the taxes.

How to Estimate Self-Employment Payments

  • An individual can use the income tax return from the previous year to get an estimate for payments.
  • Look at the income and the self-employment taxes to figure the payments.
  • If this is the first year for self-employment, the taxes can be estimated based on the income that an individual plans to earn that year.
  • Adjustments can be made to the estimated payments after the first quarter if the estimate appears to be too low or too high.

Self-employed individuals need to file accurate tax returns with the proper deductions. Keeping good records throughout the year will ensure that no deduction is overlooked. At the end of the year, the taxes will be easier to file when the information is accessible along with estimated payments.

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Some States Are Also Dreaming Of A Mega Millions Jackpot

People who are lining up to purchase tickets for the Mega Millions Jackpot are not the only ones who are dreaming of the astronomical $540 million lottery prize that someone might win on Friday. Several state governments are also hoping to get lucky because the win would result in a big tax bonus for them.

A single winner of the Mega Millions Jackpot could generate taxes of tens of millions of dollars to some lucky state if the lump-sum payout is chosen. This could mean funding some important social service programs that are currently scheduled to be chopped. This kind of tax money coming in to a state could pay for low income housing, more state troopers, or it
could keep keep taxes lower for everybody.

The prize for the Mega Millions Jackpot is now the largest in the history of the country. A single winner who chose the lump-sum payout could get nearly $390 million.

If the winner is from Rhode Island and chooses the single payout, the state would collect more than $23 million in taxes on the win.

Each state sets its own individual tax rate on lottery wins. For example, in New York, the state charges 8.82 percent. There are some states such as California that do not tax lottery wins.

Joe Testa, the tax commissioner of Ohio, says he is not  holding his breath, but he is rooting for an Ohioan to win.

State Senator David Lewis in Montana said he would use a tax windfall from the Mega Millions Jackpot to pay for spending on infrastructure.