Legitimate Tax-Deductible Charity or Scam?

With the holiday season approaching, and with the great need for aid in the wake of the recent hurricanes and wildfires, you no doubt are being solicited for donations. However, do not be fooled by the scammers who come out from hiding whenever there is a disaster and during the holiday season. The last thing you want to do is get ripped off; not only will your charitable dollars go to waste, but you will also lose your tax deduction, as contributions are only tax-deductible if they are to qualified charities.

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Medical Insurance and Taxes

Medical Insurance and Taxes

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) imposed significant penalties on taxpayers and their families who do not have ACA-compliant health insurance. Even though the tax reform removed these penalties after 2018, they still apply for this year and can be as high as the greater of $2,085 or 2.5% of the family’s household income. So, just about everyone is being forced to carry medical insurance, and it is probably one of your largest expenses. Even though the penalty is going away in 2019, it is important to understand how the health insurance expense is handled for tax purposes so you can get the most tax benefits possible.

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November Tax Due Dates

November Tax Due Dates

November 2018 Individual Due Dates

November 13 – Report Tips to Employer

If you are an employee who works for tips and received more than $20 in tips during October, you are required to report them to your employer on IRS Form 4070 no later than November 13. Your employer is required to withhold FICA taxes and income tax withholding for these tips from your regular wages. If your regular wages are insufficient to cover the FICA and tax withholding, the employer will report the amount of the uncollected withholding in box 12 of your W-2 for the year. You will be required to pay the uncollected withholding when your return for the year is filed.

November 2018 Business Due Dates

November 13 – Social Security, Medicare and Withheld Income Tax

File Form 941 for the third quarter of 2018. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time.

November 15 – Social Security, Medicare and Withheld Income Tax

If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in October.

November 15 – Nonpayroll Withholding

If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in October.


Isler Northwest LLC is a firm of certified public accountants and business advisors based in Portland, Oregon. Our local, regional, and global resources, our expertise, and our emphasis on innovative solutions and continuity create value for our clients. Our service goals at Isler Northwest is to earn our clients trust as their primary business and financial advisors.

Isler Northwest

(503) 224-5321

1300 SW 5th Avenue
Suite 2900
Portland, Oregon 97201

Most Common Types of IRS Tax Problems

Most Common Types of IRS Tax Problems

Receiving notification from the Internal Revenue Service that there’s some kind of problem is one of the most bone-chilling situations an American taxpayer can experience. Just receiving an envelope with a return address from the IRS can strike fear. There are many different reasons that the IRS might reach out, but some are more common than others.

Here are the top issues that would cause a taxpayer to hear from the IRS or require you to resolve an issue:

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Big Changes to College Savings Plans

Big Changes to College Savings Plans

Tax reform added some new taxpayer-advantageous changes to college savings plans. These plans are also known as qualified tuition programs (QTPs) or Sec. 529 plans, named after the part of the Internal Revenue Code that established them.

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Three Common Family Tax Mistakes

Three Common Family Tax Mistakes

When it comes to transactions between family members, the tax laws are frequently overlooked, if not outright trampled upon. The following are three commonly encountered situations and the tax ramifications associated with each.

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Tax Reform Enables Deferral of Taxable Gains Into Investments in Opportunity Zones

Tax Reform Enables Deferral of Taxable Gains Into Investments in Opportunity Zones

Those who have a large taxable gain from the sale of a stock, asset, or business and who would like to defer that gain with the possibility of excluding some of it from taxation should investigate a new investment called a qualified opportunity fund (QOF), which was created as part of the recent tax reform.

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Making Two IRA Rollovers in One Year Can Be Costly

Article Highlights:

 One Rollover per Year Rule

  • Exceptions
  • Tax Consequences
  • Disqualified Rollover
  • Early Withdrawal Penalty

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How to Enter Bills in QuickBooks

How to Enter Bills in QuickBooks

It’s not as much fun as creating invoices, but the bills must be paid. Here’s how QuickBooks helps.

We’re in a bit of a transitional period with business bill-paying. Some paper bills still come via the U.S. Mail, however you may also be getting some through email. Others don’t come at all: You might get a reminder email, but you have to go to the vendor’s site to make a payment.

How do you keep track of it all so you don’t miss any due dates? You could record them on a calendar, but you’d still have to go back to the actual bill to retrieve the amount. But where is it? Is it online, in your email inbox, in a file folder, or hanging on the wall?

QuickBooks can organize this unpleasant process, saving time and helping you avoid confusion. Here’s how it works.

A 2-Step Process

QuickBooks divides your accounts payable tasks into two separate processes: entering bills and paying them. It requires some extra time upfront as you complete the first step, but streamlines the second so that the actual bill-paying only takes a few seconds.

To get started, click Enter Bills on QuickBooks’ home page to open a window like this:

Before you can pay a bill in QuickBooks, you need to create a record for it.

The toolbar for the Enter Bills window is not pictured in the image above, but you don’t need it yet. Rather, you start by clicking the down arrow in the field next to VENDOR and selecting the biller’s name from your list (or clicking <Add New> if you haven’t yet created a record for that entity). The ADDRESS should fill in automatically, as should the date.

If you set up default payment TERMS in that vendor’s record, your preference should show in that field and the BILL DUE date should be correct. Enter the AMOUNT DUE and complete any of the optional fields that the transaction requires (REF. NO., DISCOUNT DATE, and MEMO).

Since this is a utility bill, the Expenses tab should be highlighted, and the amount you entered above should appear in it. Below that is the ACCOUNT field; open that list and choose the right one. Don’t worry about the CUSTOMER:JOB and BILLABLE fields. These will only be completed when you’re charging a customer for an expense or item.

Warning: If you’re not familiar with the concept of assigning accounts to transactions, please schedule some time with us. This is a critical designation that affects so many other areas of QuickBooks.

Saving Your Work

The toolbar from the Enter Bills window

Once you save your bill, you’ll be able to access it when it’s time to apply payment. How will you remember when it’s due, though? QuickBooks can remind you – or even pay it automatically. So, before you leave the Enter Bills window, click Memorize in the toolbar pictured above.

The Memorize Transaction window will open with your vendor already entered in the Name field. You’ll have three options here:

Add to my Reminders list. QuickBooks can add this bill to its list of Reminders. To ensure that you’ll see this every time you open the software and can make any changes necessary, open the Edit menu and click Preferences | Reminders | My Preferences. Click in the box in front of Show Reminders List when opening a Company file. Then click the Company Preferences tab (if you’re the administrator) and find the Bills to Pay row. Click the appropriate button to indicate whether you want QuickBooks to Show Summary or Show List, and enter the number of days before due date.

Do Not Remind Me. Just what it sounds like.

Automate Transaction Entry. You can only select this if the transaction will be exactly the same every time (except for the date). If the number of transactions will be limited, enter the Number Remaining. And tell QuickBooks how many Days in Advance To Enter.

If you choose the third option here, be very careful when you define the automation. You should really only do this if you’re an advanced user.

When you’re done, click OK to close the box, and save the bill.

Let us know if you want to schedule a session to go over any aspect of your accounts payable – or anything else in QuickBooks.


Isler Northwest LLC is a firm of certified public accountants and business advisors based in Portland, Oregon. Our local, regional, and global resources, our expertise, and our emphasis on innovative solutions and continuity create value for our clients. Our service goals at Isler Northwest is to earn our clients trust as their primary business and financial advisors.

Isler Northwest

(503) 224-5321

1300 SW 5th Avenue
Suite 2900
Portland, Oregon 97201

5 Reasons to Amend a Previously Filed Tax Return

The most recent data from the IRS on individual tax returns indicates that of 131 million returns filed, about 5 million were expected to be amended. This comes to less than 4 percent, but that projection still affects a significant number of taxpayers. Filing an amended tax return can be a hassle that you definitely want to avoid if possible. But there are some situations where you’ll have to do so, and it’s prudent to seek out the help of a tax advisor who can guide you through the process. Here’s why you may need to file an amended tax return. 

1. You made a math or data entry mistake and didn’t realize it until after you submitted your tax return. 

For example, you added up your charitable deductions, and after filing your return, you realize you added them up incorrectly, and the difference was sizeable. Filing an amended return can correct that math error and get a refund.

Perhaps you were entering your gross income from your self-employed business into your software while it was late and you were tired, and you inadvertently transposed the numbers and entered the gross income as $78,000 when it was really $87,000. You will need an amended return to correct that error.

However, you would not usually amend a return if you incorrectly entered W-2 income since the IRS receives a copy of the W-2 and will compare it with what you reported and if there was an error, they will automatically make a correction and send you a bill or a refund as the case might be. The IRS website instructs taxpayers not to amend a return in such a situation.

The statute of limitations for refunds is three years for the due date the tax return and if the IRS has not automatically made the correction and you have a refund coming don’t let the statute of limitations expire before filing an amended return. That holds true for any situation were an amended return will result in a refund.

2. You used an incorrect filing status.

Single parents, caregivers of elderly parents, and recently married or divorced people often make the mistake of using “Single” status when it’s the wrong one. “Heads of Household” miss out on crucial tax benefits, while married people will generally need to use “Married Filing Separately” if they don’t wish to file a joint return with their spouse. Because filing status affects so many elements of your tax return, you need to file an amended return to pay additional taxes you owe or receive a refund once the correct one is used. 

3. You didn’t realize that there was a tax benefit you qualified for, and you’d like to claim it now.

There are many frequently overlooked tax benefits a tax professional would be aware of that the average DIY person wouldn’t, such as the ability for most individuals and small business owners to make pension and profit-sharing contributions in a new year before the tax-filing deadline and still have it count for the current filing season. 

This also works in reverse in that people accidentally claim benefits they weren’t actually entitled to. Often, the best way to know for sure is to consult a tax professional. 

4. You had investing activities that affect your tax return. 

Typically, you don’t realize a capital gain or loss until you actually sell an asset. But if securities become worthless, this results in a capital loss that needs to be reported the year it was deemed worthless, and not the year you discovered the fact. If this security was deemed worthless a long time ago, you may have to amend prior year returns to account for the capital loss.

This can be significant since you are limited to deducting $3,000 in capital losses from all of your other income and result in capital loss carryovers that last several years. If you have any other investment losses that were forgotten or miscalculated on your original tax return, filing an amended return is the next logical stop to ensure your carryovers are done correctly for future tax returns. 

5. You received tax forms after filing your tax return. 

If you were due a W-2 or 1099 form, you might not receive it when you’re initially preparing your taxes. It could be a surprise corrected form or the payer was just late sending it to you. But if you already filed your tax return, then got additional forms later on, amending your tax return becomes inevitable. 

Amending your tax return can be a cumbersome process, especially if you’re self-employed and/or have a great deal of investing activity. Asking a tax professional to assist you with filing amended returns can eliminate the headaches that come with the process. Many even offer a free review of self-prepared returns and ask the right questions to determine if it’s worth it to amend this year’s return and any prior years’. You may also have to amend your state tax return(s), which can grow more complex if your residency is or was multistate.


Isler Northwest LLC is a firm of certified public accountants and business advisors based in Portland, Oregon. Our local, regional, and global resources, our expertise, and our emphasis on innovative solutions and continuity create value for our clients. Our service goals at Isler Northwest is to earn our clients trust as their primary business and financial advisors.

Isler Northwest

(503) 224-5321

1300 SW 5th Avenue
Suite 2900
Portland, Oregon 97201