WEIRTON - Tax laws are changing all the time and local certified public accountant Cheryl Schreiber discussed some of those changes recently with the Rotary Club of Weirton Heights.
"The only things that are inevitable are death and taxes," Schreiber said.
This year, those filing taxes will have until April 17 to do so because of April 15 falling on a Sunday and the observance of Emancipation Day, which falls on a Monday.
TAX CHANGES — Cheryl Schreiber, a certified public accountant, discussed some of the tax changes, deductions available and the tax breaks set to expire over the coming year with the Rotary Club of Weirton Heights. She also fielded questions pertaining to audits and other subjects. -- Angelina Dickson
One of the biggest changes, she said, has to do with claiming any purchased and sold stocks throughout the year. Schreiber said that depending on how the stocks are reported there could be up to four or five pages attached to the Schedule D describing the long term and short term gains or losses.
"It seems that taxes today are becoming much too complicated to do them yourselves without a computer program," she said.
Schreiber said there were some changes in the middle of the year, such as the amount permitted for mileage claimed. She said the first half of the year, $0.50 per mile was allowed for businesses and $0.19 for the medical industry and as of July 1, 2011 it jumped to $0.55 per mile for businesses and $0.23 for the health industry. In addition, she said that Congress continues to be the body making the changes to the tax laws which makes if difficult to keep up with software and computer programs used for preparing taxes.
Unless the change is made through legislation, one thing area residents will not get is the Weirton Steel tax credit which allowed former employees to collect the difference between what their pensions would have been and what they are now.
Some advice she offered to Rotarians was to keep their taxes up to seven years. Schreiber said there is a three year open policy on taxes but the Internal Revenue Service can have auditors go back longer than that if fraud is suspected. She added there is no real flag that goes up to cause someone to get audited but one out of every eight returns where the income is over $1 million will be audited and 2 to 3 percent of those making more than $250,000 will also be audited.
"Each auditor looks for different things so there is really no advice to give on how to avoid being audited or what to do if it happens," she said. "Just make sure you keep all your receipts and bank statements because that's the first place they look."
Schreiber also answered a number of other questions pertaining to filing married seperate and penalties as well as how much of Social Security income is taxable depending on age and the amount of money one makes other than Social Security after age 65.
(Dickson can be contacted at email@example.com)