FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)

Tax Questions


Is there an age limit on claiming my child as a dependent?

To be claimed as your dependent, your child must meet the qualifying child test or the qualifying relative test.  To meet the qualifying child test, your child must be younger than you and, as of the end of the calendar year, either be younger than 19 years old or be a student and younger than 24 years old.  There is no age limit on claiming your child as a dependent if the child meets the qualifying relative test.

As long as all of the following tests are met, you may claim a dependency exemption for your child:

  1. Qualifying child or qualifying relative test,
  2. Dependent taxpayer test,
  3. Citizen or resident test, and
  4. Joint return test.
How much does an unmarried dependent student have to make before he or she has to file an income tax return?

If you are an unmarried dependent student, you must file a tax return if your earned and/or unearned income exceeds certain limits.

  • To find these limits refer to Dependents under Who Must File, in Publication 501Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information.
  • Even if you do not have to file, you should file a federal income tax return if you can get money back (for example, you had income tax withheld from your pay; you qualify for the earned income credit; or you qualify for the additional child tax credit). See Who Should File in Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information, for more examples.
If I claim my daughter as a dependent because she is a full-time college student, can she claim her own personal exemption when she files her return?

If you can claim an exemption for your daughter as a dependent on your income tax return, she cannot claim her own personal exemption on her income tax return.

  • If an individual is filing his or her own tax return, and the individual can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return, the individual cannot claim his or her own personal exemption.
  • In this case, your daughter should check the box on her return indicating that someone else can claim her as a dependent.
Can I receive a tax refund if I am currently making payments under an installment agreement or payment plan for a prior year's federal taxes?

No.  As a condition of your installment agreement, any refund due to you in a future year will be applied against the amount that you owe.

  • The IRS will automatically apply the refund to the taxes owed.
  • You must continue making your installment agreement payments as scheduled and in full, because your refund is not applied toward your regular monthly payment; therefore any payments due under the installment agreement must still be made in full.
  • Regardless of whether you are participating in an installment agreement or other payment arrangement with the IRS, you may not get all of your refund if you owe certain past-due amounts, such as federal tax, state tax, a student loan, or child support. For more information on these non-IRS refund offsets, you can contact the Bureau of Fiscal Service (BFS) at a toll-free number 800-304-3107.
For head of household filing status, do you have to claim a child as a dependent to qualify?

In certain circumstances, you do not have to claim the child as a dependent to qualify for head of household filing status; for example, a custodial parent may be able to claim head of household filing status even if he or she released a claim to exemption for the child.

What should I do if I made a mistake on my federal return that I have already filed?

It depends on the type of mistake that you made:

  • Many mathematical errors are caught in the processing of the tax return itself so you may not need to correct these mistakes.
  • If you did not attach a required schedule, the IRS will contact you and ask for the missing information.
  • If you did not report all of your income or did not claim a credit, you should file an amended or corrected return using Form 1040X(PDF), Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

When filing an amended or corrected return:

  • Include copies of any schedules that have been changed or any Form(s) W-2 (PDF) you did not include. File 1040X only after you have filed your original return. Generally, for a credit or refund, you must file Form 1040X within 3 years (including extensions) after the date you timely filed your original return or within 2 years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
  • Please allow the IRS 8-12 weeks to process an amended return.
What is a split refund?

The IRS allows your refund to be split. A split refund lets you divide your refund, in any proportion you want, and direct deposit the funds into up to three different accounts with U.S. financial institutions. Taxpayers shall use Form 8888 (PDF), Allocation of Refund, to request to have their refund split.

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Social security benefits include monthly retirement, survivor, and disability benefits. They do not include supplemental security income (SSI) payments, which are not taxable. The amount of social security benefits that must be included on your income tax return and used to calculate your income tax liability depends on the total amount of your income and benefits for the taxable year.

To find out whether any of your benefits may be taxable, compare the base amount for your filing status with the total of:

  • One-half of your benefits.
  • All of your other income, including tax-exempt interest.

The base amount for your filing status is shown next:

  • $25,000 if you are single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er),
  • $25,000 if you are married filing separately and lived apart from your spouse for the entire year,
  • $32,000 if you are married filing jointly.
  • $-0- if you are married filing separately and live with your spouse at any time during the tax year.

If you are married and file a joint return, you and your spouse must combine your incomes and social security benefits when figuring the taxable portion of your benefits.  Even if your spouse did not receive any benefits, you must add your spouse’s income to yours when figuring if any of your benefits are taxable, if you file a joint return.

The taxable amount of the benefits can be figured on a worksheet in the Instructions for Form 1040 or Instructions for Form 1040A, or in Publication 915Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits.

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Accounting Questions


Who should form an LLC?

You should consider forming an LLC (limited liability company) if you are concerned about personal exposure to lawsuits arising from your business. For example, if you decide to open a store-front business that deals directly with the public, you may worry that your commercial liability insurance won’t fully protect your personal assets from potential slip-and-fall lawsuits or claims by your suppliers for unpaid bills. Running your business as an LLC may help you sleep better, because it instantly gives you personal protection against these and other potential claims against your business. Not all businesses can operate as LLCs, however. Businesses in the banking, trust, and insurance industry, for example, are typically prohibited from forming LLCs. 

Should I choose an LLC or an S corporation?

While the S corporation’s special tax status eliminates double taxation, it lacks the flexibility of an LLC in allocating income to the owners.

An LLC may offer several classes of membership interests while an S corporation may only have one class of stock.

Any number of individuals or entities may own interests in an LLC. However, ownership interest in an S corporation is limited to no more than 100 shareholders. Also, S corporations cannot be owned by C corporations, other S corporations, many trusts, LLCs, partnerships, or nonresident aliens. Also, LLCs are allowed to have subsidiaries without restriction.