When high tax bills seem inevitable or you don’t know how to protect your earnings in the future, rely on the experienced team at Steward Ingram & Cooper, PLLC. Our CPA firm in Durham, NC offers comprehensive tax preparation and planning services for individuals and businesses to minimize your annual tax bill and help you make smart decisions for the future so you can put your money to work for you rather than sending it to the IRS.

We serve Durham, Raleigh, and the surrounding areas, and offer telephone and video conferencing as well as in-person meetings.

Tax Preparation Services

Even though tax preparation software may make it seem easy and efficient to do your own taxes, having an experienced accountant to provide insight and guidance can save you money and ensure accuracy that prevents you from getting hit with a tax bill in the future. We are dedicated to providing you with advantageous strategies that are compliant and ethical, while also helping you reduce your taxes on your income, investments, and retirement distributions so you can live securely and with confidence.

While we provide personal tax preparation services for all needs, we excel in complex financial issues and the tax needs of high net worth individuals in the Durham area. These factors include:

  • Capital gains taxes
  • Real estate partnership interests
  • Merging income and deductions from your small business (including sole proprietorships, LLCs, and s-corporations) into your personal tax return
  • Foreign assets and investments
  • Foreign tax credits
  • Multi-state taxes
  • Issues related to prior years’ returns

Tax Preparation Dates

Contact us prior to the following dates for assistance with both annual and quarterly tax preparation:

  • April 15: Individual tax returns, 1st quarter estimated taxes for self-employed people, and the final day to contribute to your HSA or IRA
  • June 15: 2nd quarter estimated taxes
  • September 15: 3rd quarter estimated taxes
  • October 15: Extended returns are due
  • January 15: 4th quarter estimated taxes

Tax Planning Services

In addition to annual tax preparation, we can also help you focus on long term financial gains with our professional tax planning and consultation services. Tax planning allows you to make decisions in the present that will reduce both your annual tax payments as well as help you protect your legacy and pass on more wealth to people and causes you care about without the large tax liabilities. Our Durham accountants will assist you in creating advantageous tax strategies that include:

  • Estate planning
  • Giving gifts to others
  • Setting up trusts
  • Creating college accounts
  • Passing investments and business holdings to family members

Why Choose Our Durham CPA Firm

Since 2000, Steward Ingram & Cooper, PLLC has been a leading provider of accounting services to individuals and businesses around the Triangle. We understand that each client has unique challenges and finances which is why we tailor our advice and guidance to meet the needs and goals of each client to create personalized plans. When complex tax issues are holding you back from your financial goals, we can work through them to help you keep your money where it belongs – in your hands, not in the IRS’s.

Tax Preparation: Frequently Asked Questions

What accounting services do you offer to individuals?

At Steward Ingram & Cooper PLLC, we prepare tax returns for individuals in the Durham-Raleigh area and beyond. We offer services that include federal and multi-state income tax return preparation, comprehensive tax planning, and gift tax preparation and planning.

What are the due dates for my personal tax return?

As a business owner there are a few key dates to remember for tax preparation and planning. Review these important dates for individual tax return preparation: 

April 15 – Individual tax return (form 1040)
April 15 – 1st quarter estimated taxes
April 15 – Last day to make HSA and IRA contributions
June 15 – 2nd quarter estimated taxes
September 15 – 3rd quarter estimated taxes
October 15 – Final due date for extended returns
January 15, 2021 – 4th quarter estimated taxes

How do I file a tax extension?

At Steward, Ingram & Cooper PLLC our tax preparers can help you file both state and federal tax extensions as deemed beneficial to your business.

For Federal tax returns you can file an extension electronically by using Free File through the IRS to make your request. This gives you until October 15th to file a return. You should also estimate your tax liability when doing this and pay any amount due. If there is an overpayment, you will receive a refund once all your paperwork is complete.

If you cannot file the North Carolina Individual Income Tax Return by the due date you can file an extension using Form D-410. You may apply for a six-month extension of time to file the return.

Does a tax extension delay the tax payment due date?

A tax extension will not delay overall due dates for money due. Filing an extension is only beneficial if you need more time to gather and finish your tax paperwork. Any money due is still expected on the tax deadline, which in this case is April 18th.

What is the difference between married filing separately and jointly?

If you are unsure of the best situation for your tax filing status following your marriage in Durham it is best to reach out to a certified accountant who can analyze your unique financial situation. When a couple files jointly, this means all their income, assets, dependents, and deductions are combined and included on one tax return. Married, filing separately means that both parties file their own returns, keeping their individual income, investments, and property separate.

Should I choose married filing jointly on my tax return?

It is common for married couples to choose to file jointly on their tax returns. It’s easier, and the benefits include a lower tax rate and increased tax deductions, including the child tax credit and capital loss deductions, which are twice the amount than the threshold for filing separately. 

The other main benefit to filing jointly with your spouse is when it comes to your retirement account. Married couples who file together have significantly higher income eligibility thresholds for a Roth IRA. Contact our CPAs to discuss whether this filing status is right for you and your spouse.

Are there benefits for married couples that still choose to file taxes separately?

After a marriage there are many benefits for couples that file a joint tax return; however, there are scenarios in which it could be better to consider filing separately. In the case that both spouses are high income earners in the same tax bracket, you may benefit from filing separately. If you are using income based repayment to repay your student loans, filing separately can result in a lower payment plan. If one spouse has a large amount of medical expenses, it may be better to file separately in order to itemize the costs.

Do I have to pay taxes on stocks?

If you have current stock investments they will be subject to taxing. If your stocks are all held in a traditional brokerage account (as opposed to an IRA or 401K), they won’t be taxed just sitting there. However, if you sell stock and make a profit, that profit is subject to the capital gains tax. This is the amount you pay when you sell any asset for more than you had paid, whether it’s a rental home, car, collectible, or stock. For investments you own, you may receive periodic payments, such as dividends. These also demand taxation, even if the dividend is reinvested into additional shares. If you need help navigating taxes on stocks contact our Durham CPAs.

Can I reduce my taxable income?

If you are looking to reduce your taxable income there are many ways to achieve this with the help of your certified accountant. Retirement plans, health savings accounts, and 529 savings accounts for college are all beneficial ways to reduce your overall taxable income.

When do I start planning for retirement?

You can start saving for retirement today because It’s never too early to start planning for retirement. It’s recommended that by age 67, you should have saved 10 times your final salary. Most financial experts estimate that you’ll need 70 to 90 percent of your pre-retirement income to keep up with your standard of living. It is important to also consider any debts you’ll still owe after retirement, what type of housing situation you’ll be in, and what type of health insurance plan you’ll have after retiring. Having an in-depth understanding of your finances and creating a realistic budget is essential to a successful retirement.

How are retirement funds taxed?

Most pension income is funded with pretax income, so they are taxable when you receive the funds. IRA and 401(k) deferrals are generally taxed when distributions are made. Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k) deferral are made with after-tax dollars. Therefore, the withdrawals, including earnings, are tax free if the accounts are held for the required time.

Tax planning for your retirement income and investments can ensure you’re not surprised by a cut to your income.