Nov 01

Brent Howard honored with Pro Bono award

Brent Howard was recently awarded the Legal Aid of Oklahoma Pro Bono Service Award for 2017. The award was given to two attorneys from the state of Oklahoma who serve their community.

Of the award, Mr. Howard said, “I am very thankful for the recognition. I have always been taught that when you are given much, much is expected of you. I like to think that I live by that principle and I always try to do my best to serve my community.”

In addition to his estate planning and tax law practice in Altus, Oklahoma, Mr. Howard also serves as the State Vice President of the Young Farmers and Ranchers, serves as Chairman of the Board of Regents for Western Oklahoma State College, serves his local church, Altus First United Methodist, is a member of the Altus Military Affairs Committee, and is active in the local Bar Association.

The full release from Legal Aid Services can be found here.

Jul 25

Change of Mailing Address

I have recently purchased the office building where my practice is, so I am giving up the use of my Post Office Box. I will be installing a lock box feature for drop-offs and regular mail. For all future mail correspondence, please mail to:

Brent S. Howard, Esq.

501 N. Hudson St.

Altus, OK 73521

Thank you all for your business and I look forward to the great things that I will be able to do in the future for you!

 

 

Apr 26

Offers in Compromise

Taxpayers who have a tax debt they cannot pay may have heard that they can settle their tax debt for less than the full amount owed. It’s called an Offer in Compromise.

Before applying for an Offer in Compromise, here are some things to know:

  • In general, the IRS cannot accept a settlement offer if the taxpayer can afford to pay what they owe. Taxpayers should first explore other payment options. A payment plan is one possibility and must be looked at before an offer is made.
  • A taxpayer must file all required tax returns first before the IRS can consider a settlement offer. When applying for a settlement offer, taxpayers may need to make an initial payment. The IRS will apply submitted payments to reduce taxes owed.
  • The IRS has an Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool on IRS.gov. Taxpayers can find out if they meet the basic qualifying requirements. The tool also provides an estimate of an acceptable offer amount. The IRS makes a final decision on whether to accept the offer based on the submitted application.
May 17

Cost of Nursing Homes Increased in 2015

This is a report I received from Travis Smith, lead counsel to Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the administer of Medicaid in Oklahoma:

Nursing Home Care Costs Are Only Slightly Higher in 2016

The median cost of a private nursing home room in the United States has increased slightly to $92,378 a year, up 1.24 percent from 2015, according to Genworth’s 2016 Cost of Care survey, which the insurer conducts annually. Genworth reports that the median cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $82,125, up 2.27 percent from 2015. The rise in prices is modest compared to the 4.2 percent and 3.8 percent gains, respectively, in 2015.

The price rise was even lower for assisted living facilities, where the median rate ticked up only .78 percent, to $3,628 a month.  The national median rate for the services of a home health aide was $20 an hour, the same rate as 2015, and the cost of adult day care, which provides support services in a protective setting during part of the day, actually fell from $69 to $68 a day.

Alaska continues to be the costliest state for nursing home care, with the median annual cost of a private nursing home room totaling $297,840. Oklahoma again was found to be the most affordable state, with a median annual cost of a private room of $60,225, which did not increase in 2016.

While prices may not have increased drastically from last year, the survey found that Americans underestimate the cost of in-home long-term care by almost 50 percent. Thirty percent believe it will be less than $417 a month. In fact, an in-home aide working 44 hours a month would cost $3,861, according to Genworth. For more information, click here.

 

The 2016 survey was based on responses from more than 15,000 nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult day health facilities and home care providers. The survey was conducted by phone during January and February of 2016.

Jan 22

Prepping for Filing Tax Returns

From the IRS tax preparer emails, a few updates on what you need to bring related to your health insurance coverage for your tax preparation. A reminder, if you did not have qualifying coverage for the entire year, then you may owe a penalty of $695 or 2% of your Adjusted Gross Income as penalty.

The Affordable Care Act requires you and your dependents to have health care coverage, an exemption from the coverage requirement, or make a shared responsibility payment for any month without coverage or an exemption with your return. This law will affect your federal income tax return when you file this year

Here are five things you should know about exemptions from the health care law’s coverage requirement and the individual shared responsibility payment that will help you get ready to file your tax return.

  • You may be eligible to claim an exemption from the requirement to have coverage and are not required to make a payment. If you qualify for an exemption, you will need to file Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions,with your tax return.  You can claim most exemptions when you file your tax return. However, you must apply for certain exemptions in advance through the Health Care Insurance Marketplace,
  • If you receive an exemption through the Marketplace, you’ll receive an Exemption Certificate Number to include when you file your taxes. If you have applied for an exemption through the Marketplace and are still waiting for a response, you can put “pending” on your tax return where you would normally put your ECN.
  • You do not need to file a return solely to report your coverage or to claim a coverage exemption.

If you are not required to file a federal income tax return for a year because your gross income is below your return filing threshold, you are automatically exempt from the shared responsibility provision for that year and do not need to take any further action to secure an exemption.

  • If you file a tax return and your income is below the filing threshold for your filing status, you should use Part II of Form 8965, Coverage Exemptions for Your Household Claimed on Your Return, to claim a coverage exemption. You should not make a shared responsibility payment if you are exempt from the coverage requirement because you have income below the filing threshold.
  • If you do not have qualifying coverage or an exemption for the year, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment for each month without coverage or an exemption when you file your return. Examples and information about figuring the payment are available on the IRS Calculating the Payment page.