The deadline to file your taxes has been extended until July 15, due to the novel coronavirus. But for some, tax season still represents a time of financial burden. Northside accountant and owner of M&A Tax Accounting and Notary in Observatory Hill, Antoinette Payne, shares some tips to lessen its impact.

Photo: Even though the filing deadline has been extended until July 15, Antoinette Payne, owner of M&A Tax in Observatory Hill, is making sure community members are on top of their income tax returns. By Raffaele DiLullo for the Northside Community Development Fund

By Hallie Lauer

The sun is beginning to stay in the sky longer each day, and Pittsburghers are getting a glimpse of spring. However, with warmer days quickly approaching, so is tax season. Extended due to the coronavirus, July 15 is now the last day to file income tax returns, and local Northside accountant Antoinette Payne is making sure her community members are on top of theirs.

Payne opened M&A Tax Accounting & Notary Services at 3866 Baytree St. in Observatory Hill after previously operating the business out of her home. By doing this, Payne says she’s increased her clientele base and has been able to give back to her community through consultation services.

People who are independent contractors, or self-employed, face a unique set of challenges during tax season, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

First of all, Payne says that a lot of independent contractors forget about write-offs.

“Mileage, meals, supplies, and home office deductions are all things they can write off on their taxes,” she says.
Payne also recommends that independent contractors reduce the financial burden of tax season by making either monthly or quarterly IRS payments. This way, when tax day rolls around, they don’t owe as much money all at one time. Quarterly payments are required by law for independent contractors, but Payne says many people still don’t make them. Because of this, they can be charged interest as a penalty by the IRS. These payments can be made online through the IRS website.

“An accountant can help suggest how much to put into it at a time,” Payne says. She also mentions how important it is to watch how much independent contractors are paying into Social Security and Medicare.

“What people really mess up on is that they aren’t paying into Social Security,” Payne says. “Just pay your taxes. A lot of people with these 1099s get comfortable with their money and that’s not the reality.”

Payne warns that if people who are self-employed don’t pay enough into their Social Security now, it could be harmful to them later in their lives.

With the rollout of SBA disaster loans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Payne is seeing many disorganized small business owners flock to her door. She recommends that small business owners get their financials, such as balance sheets, cash flow statements, and profit and loss statements, in order as soon as they can, because eventually, they’ll be needed.

Her clients are also calling with questions about their stimulus checks. The first of these funds have already been deposited, but a small portion of them have been mistakenly sent to clients’ temporary accounts at EPS instead of their personal accounts. According to the EPS, if this has happened to you, your payment was returned to the IRS so that it can be distributed to you directly. Tax preparers like Payne can’t answer questions about these payment errors. Instead, she says you should contact the IRS directly.

In addition to tax services and accounting consultations at M&A, Payne also offers notary services. These services are needed for any legal forms that require a state notary, like removing money from a 401(k) or deed and title transfers. Payne’s husband, Michael, is a notary public as well as the owner of Observatory Hill Deli, which is located at 3856 Baytree St., next door to M&A Tax.

The deli was Michael’s dream for years, and Antoinette describes the opportunity to open it up as “God given.”
“People always ask me if I did the decorating,” Antoinette says. “But it was all him. He wanted somewhere where people feel comfortable and like home.” She describes the deli as having a “rustic feel” to it. It’s open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and customers can place orders on Grubhub.

Payne’s door may be locked, but her business is open by appointment. Consultations with her can be scheduled on the M&A Tax website.

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