Tax season is once again upon us! Here are several reminders concerning tax issues that you may face. We trust that this information will be useful to you, both in giving you a better understanding of your reports and helping you to be aware of items that may affect your personal taxes.
Tax Paperwork for 2018
Tax-related paperwork generated by WWNTBM is in your SecureCloud folder. This includes W-2 forms, MFR Summary Reports, and Estimated Tax letters. Please be sure to look at the 2nd page of the MFR Summary, to see if there are any specific notes for you and your tax preparer. If you requested that we submit your tax information directly to your tax preparer, please note that those documents will be sent in mid-February. This is to ensure that there is time for us to include any forms that may arrive in our office from other sources. If you have any questions, please contact Naomi.
If churches issued funds payable to you in excess of $600 during the year 2018, they may issue you a 1099 form. If those funds were either mailed to the office or included on Line 2 of your MFR as extra income, they are already included in the total of your W-2. Our office can assist you in verifying whether the funds were included on your W-2. Your tax preparer can assist you on your return in recording this so that you are not taxed twice on the same income. We recommend that you request churches to make checks payable to WWNTBM to avoid this issue in the future.
Foreign Tax Exclusion
In order to claim the foreign tax exclusion, you must be out of the US for 330 days over a 12 month period of time; however, these days do not have to be in the same calendar year. In order to gain the full benefit of the foreign tax exclusion, your tax preparer may be able to revise your returns based on the actual time you have spent overseas. Because of this, it is vital to provide your tax preparer with all of your travel dates to and from the US. You may also wish to discuss with your tax preparer what dates would be the best travel dates when planning to leave for the field or return on furlough, as this could affect how much you are allowed to claim under the foreign tax exclusion.
It is our understanding that, while the Foreign Tax Exclusion does benefit many of our missionaries, it may not always be the best solution, as there are other situations which may give a greater benefit. Some of those options may affect taxes not only for this year but for future years as well. This is another reason we recommend consulting a tax professional who can advise you in relation to your unique circumstance.
Healthcare and your taxes
Our financial report gives a location for you to track ‘heath insurance costs.’ However, each individual situation is different. Some use this area to record traditional health insurance, some use it to record expenses through the Marketplace, and others use it to record details for a health care sharing ministry such as Samaritan Ministries. While all of these are health-related costs, each of the examples affects your taxes in a different way. Please be sure that your tax preparer is aware of the details of your health coverage, as it may affect how they complete your tax return.
Estimated Tax Payments
Missionaries are considered to be self-employed and are therefore subject to self-employment taxes. Submitting quarterly estimated tax payments throughout the year will help to prevent having a large tax payment due each April. Estimated tax payments can be submitted on your own, or, if you are interested, you may contact our office for information on how we can submit them for you.
Tax Paperwork for those with Foreign Bank Accounts
US Treasury Dept. regulations require that if you have any foreign bank accounts, and if the sum total of all of your foreign accounts has ever been $10,000 at any given time during the past year, you must complete the IRS Foreign Bank and Financial Account Form (FBAR) and give it to your tax preparer. This includes all foreign accounts on which you are a signatory, such as a ministry account. This form, and further information about it is available on the IRS website at www.irs.gov. Please refer to the IRS website and your tax preparer if you have any questions.
Utilizing a Tax Professional
Studies have shown that the average person who uses a tax professional, instead of filing their own taxes, receives a much greater tax return. The savings far exceed the amount spent to hire a professional. Many have also found that using tax software does not always compare to the benefits of using a professional, either. In many instances, it is not that the software or the self-filer is wrong, but that other choices may be better. (Information is taken from daveramsey.com.)
It is also good to note that not all professionals are familiar with tax situations that might affect you. We encourage all missionaries to use a certified tax preparer who is familiar with special tax situations that affect missionaries and those living overseas. A listing of tax preparers used by other missionaries is available on SecureCloud, under the Forms and Manuals section.