Tax FAQs

Do I need a CPA to do my taxes or my small business bookkeeping?
Not unless your business requires audited financial reports. In fact, our firm has the knowledge and state-of-the-art software used by the top CPA firms which provides professional individual and small business tax preparation; we are well qualified to provide monthly and year-end bookkeeping service. Additionally, we are able to provide services only available with Enrolled Agent status.
What if I get a letter from the IRS or the Franchise Tax Board that I don't understand?
Before you respond to any tax agency letter, call us first! These letters are often just a "query" and don't necessarily have all the facts. We can help decipher the "tax language" they use in their letters, and help you respond to any correspondence. Remember, they only receive income documents, not the entire story.
How can I find out more about the changes for this year?
Contact Bonita Valley Tax & Bookkeeping to see which of the changes can potentially affect you or your business. We will be posting regular updates under "Tax Tips" and "Resources". We also send our clients newsletters three times each year with all the latest in tax updates. If you would like to receive a complementary newsletter, call or send us an email.
When should I start getting my tax records together for filing?
It is easiest for you if you maintain a file with records that you accumulate all year long. Review at the end of the year and add all the year-end documents you receive in January and you're ready!
I spend a lot of money on college for my child. How much is deductible?
The potentially deductible amount will be reflected in a 1099-T that you will receive from the school. This will include qualifying tuition and fees, but will not include room and board, books or other incidental expenses. How much of this actually translates to a deduction or credit on your tax return depends on income thresholds, which year of college your child is in, and other variables. There are three different types of education credits to look at: the Hope Credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit and American Opportunity Credit. There is also a Tuition and Fees Adjustment to Income available, with higher AGI threshold limits.
What happens if I make a mistake on my return and the IRS doesn't catch it? Should I let it go?
If you find a mistake, rest assured that sooner or later, the IRS will also find it. You can, and should, always amend your return if you made a mistake. If the mistake leads to additional tax due, the longer you wait, the more interest and penalty you will owe on the unpaid balance. If it results in a refund, you only have three years to claim it. After that, it is lost to you.
I know I'll get a refund, but I haven't filed in a few years. How long do I have to collect?
If you haven't filed, refund or not, do it now! If you are due a refund, you have three years, plus the current year [for example: 2008, 2009, 2010 and current year, 2011] to collect any refund. Prior to that time frame, you still must file, but you will forfeit your refund. In most cases, the last day to file an amendment for 2008 is April 16, 2012.
My wife and I are still married, but we are living apart. Should I be filing as Married Filing Separate?
MFS is usually the least beneficial filing status, but sometimes necessary. There are many tax deductions and credits you cannot take advantage of with this filing status. If you are able to work together on the taxes at all or there are concerns about the validity of your spouse's information, talk to a tax expert before filing as there are some serious issues that must be addressed prior to filing as well as things which, once done, cannot be changed.