The people who have filed and paid too much tax again this year, as they did last year, almost always make themselves a promise that they “will do better from now on.”  They will keep better records; maintain a mileage log.  They will learn more about work options and increase their 401(k) or 403(b).  They will start a hobby job, or purchase a rental property and on and on.  Then Summer comes and it all fades into the background as the beach, golf course or woods call to them.  Family starts getting together, concerts are abound and all of a sudden it’s Fall.  Then work picks up and kids are back to school or off to an out of state[…]

That’s what you often hear from a sneaker manufacturer or a car company to create a feeling of scarcity for a product in order to drive desire or cost up.  This is not a typical tactic of the IRS.  COVID-19 and the reaction to it has created a path of human misery, but like cutting up broccoli and stirring it into your kids’ mac and cheese, there are some hidden benefits for a few people unlucky enough to have had the virus, but fortunate enough to have recovered.  One such benefit is the ability to take up to $100,000 from a 401(k) or other retirement account without penality and without full taxation in one year, as would normally be the[…]

Think again.  Of course, human life is more important, especially when it’s yours!  That being said, many of us have a worry list that is growing and if taxes were on that list, they have been pushed down by all the new concerns.  There is a growing divide in the U.S. between the people who have been able to keep working and those who have free fallen through the abyss of instant lack of income.  Those who own companies and those who work for them.  Taxes in most cases for those poor souls that stopped working are not a concern normally, other than having proper withholding, so even less now.  For those who kept working however, spending is often down[…]

Many self-employed and small business owners who did not get applications in before the money ran out the first time around, are now getting them in during this second round of PPP funding, and the frantic level of requests seen previously seem to be a bit more orderly now.  Many people we have spoken to say that they are still working in some limited capacity, or had savings and so are getting by and have avoided taking PPP funds, as they don’t feel “as affected”, although they don’t know what will happen in the future.  That’s the rub.  What if they don’t take the funds today, since they are above water, but the funds again run out, and in August[…]

It’s hard to be logical all the time about everything.  The most financially successful tax clients we serve at least attempt to force themselves to be logical, for their own benefit.  For instance, our parents, as well as a subset of the economy including some popular radio show based advisors like Dave Ramsey, say you should pay off your home and have a “free and clear” deed as a goal (they are wrong in most cases by the way).  That kind of thinking is emotional thinking, mixed perhaps with some presumptive attitude about what the general populous is capable of.  “Well, we know we can’t get people to do what would really be best for them based on pure math[…]

The tax planning world has been evolving very quickly in the last few months.  Needless to say, anyone who felt they had a handle on being proactive is now working with at least one hand behind their back (maybe even two).  Accountants that are proactive (a small subset of the overall group) have been very actively communicating with clients who own businesses; self-employed, independent contractors, partnerships and formal corporations.  The non-planners have been taking phone calls, the planners have been making phone calls.  Later, when the PPP and SBA applications are finished, those same proactive accountants will start working with charitable clients around the new rules that allow for up to 100% of AGI to be taken as deductions.  Then,[…]

With the “world on fire” it’s hard to care about the crisis coming in 2023 or 2024, but especially for retirees or soon to retire folks, next to sheltering in place, it’s the most important thing you can do!   Whether you think the stock market will have a V shaped recovery, a W shaped recovery or even an L shaped recovery, the message for everyone should be to focus on the fact that history repeats itself.  As far back as World War I, to fund the war needs of the country, the income tax rate jumped from 15% in 1916 to 67% in 1917.  A 450% INCREASE IN ONE YEAR!  Many other times in history, following black swan events, the[…]

These are trying times and we all have information overload, but one small piece of the new emergency tax relief legislation that seems “lost in the sauce” is perhaps the most important for retirees.  There was a last minute push for seniors to be included in the $1,200 relief checks, although if retired and on fixed income they are “less affected in theory.”  Many are supporting in some way a family member, child or grandchild, so we believe this was fair and the right thing to do.   However, it’s only $1,200, and the real gem for most retires has not been featured much in the media, as our focus has been on our collective health.   IF YOU’RE OVER[…]

We use the term “Tax Planning” often, but we are aware that many people are not sure what it really is.  Some people think “That means off shore accounts and citizenship shell games ending with jail time.  No thank you!”.  That is not tax planning; that’s tax evasion, and it’s not at all what we recommend.  Others think only the wealthy need a tax planner, and for regular folks it can mean paying a 30 year mortgage off 12 years early or having a college fund with enough in it to actually pay for college.  It’s not just for the wealthy, though.  Tax planning can be a useful tool for anyone who is aware of the opportunities.  Our tax code[…]

For many Americans the bad news surrounding the current crisis is all consuming.  Even for those not living check to check, it can still be very stressful.  Employers struggle with using savings, loan lines or selling assets to keep afloat.  Others face layoffs of workers that are practically family members.  There is a lot of heartache out there, as everyone knows.  When you find any silver lining you almost hate to even bring it up.  How dare you be positive about anything right now?  Well I’m going to risk it.  Now is an excellent time if you have an IRA and have been planning (or should be planning) to do a Roth Conversion.  If your IRAs have shrunk like mine,[…]

This tax law became permanent but it’s still very underutilized.  Many others are as well! I know on first read this probably sounds complicated, but it’s very simple.  It’s better to take the income off your tax return than to take the deduction. It’s a win and it’s now permanent. There are numerous other tax planning opportunities to take advantage of, some of which are listed below.  To utilize these deductions properly does take some forethought and planning. Permanent, now in the tax code; Qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) from IRAs Deduction for state/local sales tax is limited Even higher education credits (American Opportunity Tax Credit) Teachers’ classroom expense deduction Code Section 179 deduction is even bigger Because these have been[…]

If you own any size business, now is the time to review your business return to make sure you are receiving the maximum allowable “QBI” deduction.  The public and many preparers still don’t have their arms wrapped around how this deduction works and many mistakes are being made!  Whether you file as a sole proprietor, S corp, partnership or PLLC; if your business income ends up flowing through to your 1040, you should be paying attention to this.  Some trust returns and C corporations have different tax rates and they pay their entity taxes directly, but the majority of businesses in the U.S. are eligible to at least try to receive a qualified business income (QBI) deduction. There are more[…]

Well, investors aren’t going to have a very good weekend.  Many are losing net worth, and fear of the real economic effects of a major national or international event, such as the looming possibility of a coronavirus pandemic, is not a topic that anyone likes to deal with.  We have seen these kinds of events precipitate market crashes several times in the past few decades.  September 11th,  the invasion of Iraq and the 2008 melt down of the mortgage and financial markets, to name a few.  Big news events happen and the markets take a dive.  The savvy tax planner can make lemonade from the lemons now presented to them by shifting away from only conversations about investors fears and[…]

A lot of things have changed in the last two years when it comes to tax rules.  Every year, the IRS tweaks things a little.  Since Trump has been in office, there have been some substantial changes to things that people have been use to for many years.  Old habits die hard, so some of these new tax rules will probably slip by many for some years to come, until they realize they’ve lost an opportunity or pay a penalty.  It’s not everybody’s favorite topic, right? That being said, there are a lot of good things in these changes.  One good thing is that the IRS has finally stopped unfairly not allowing people to put money away for their retirement[…]

Many people think of the IRS filing deadline as April 15th.  Simple right?  In fact, there are deadlines all year long, something different every month.  IRS Publication 509 has the outlines, if you want a quick search to look something up.  If you are in certain industries, you likely know you have different deadlines; like farmers and fisherman who have not paid their estimated tax by January 15th must file by March 2nd (yes, just two weeks away) .  The deadlines for pass-through business entities is March 16th.   If you think about it, that deadline makes sense, as an S Corporation or a Partnership return is prepared so that a K-1 from the entity can be issued to the owners,[…]

Ever had a “light bulb” moment?  I have been driving for many years.  I’ve driven at least a million miles and I own a few cars (I collect certain types), and when driving my spouse’s car or one from the collection that I haven’t driven in a while, inevitably it’s time to gas up.  I pull up to a pump and get out and realize that the gas cap is on the other side, back up the car, turn it around with a sigh and fill it up. Then this year the “light bulb” moment.  While trying to figure out the dashboard “iPhone” charger fuse location, I happened to be looking at the diagram of the fuel gauge in the manual[…]

People who are worried about the 10 year rule, requiring beneficiaries of inherited IRAs to withdraw the entire balance within 10 years, can double that time with a CRT beneficiary in front of inheritors.  What if you really have a big IRA and the 10 year rule just isn’t enough of a stretch to help your beneficiary stay out of the top tax bracket?  Or any other reason you care about reducing the negative tax impact from the 10-year rule?  You could use other remaining tax rules to your benefit by setting up a charitable trust.  A charitable trust allows the retirement assets to continue growing tax-deferred, even once the assets are distributed from the retirement account into the CRT.[…]

Since they are only done once a year, the little things regarding the tax code are often overlooked or forgotten.  In some cases, this can lead to unintended penalties and fines.  As a sole proprietor, it’s not enough to just include a Schedule C on your personal tax return.  Before January 31st, you must remember to complete and send 1099-MISC forms to anyone you paid more than $650 to last year, and transmit copies of those forms to an IRS office.  But where do you get 1099-MISC forms and what information has to go on them?  Among other things, you need to include the payee’s Social Security number and address.  That’s the first problem.  For many people that you might hire, such as a[…]

There are many ways a tax return can be done that are all OK with the IRS, but only  one of those ways nets the largest refund!  People need to understand this across America, and we talk about tax planning constantly.  We blog, tweet, post, e-mail and on and on, yet we as an industry are not even getting 10% of the public to take on tax planning!  The clients who do are often thrilled at the outcomes, and yet it’s just hard to get people to want to spend half the time that they spend planning their vacations on planning their own tax outcomes! (larger refunds would pay for those vacations!). Tax planners’ offices often don’t look like a franchise[…]

In the “old days”, you went to the general store for your dry goods, the blacksmith for your horseshoes or tool repair and likely had your own cow and chickens for milk and eggs.  Fast forward, you went to a lawyer to get a will, an insurance rep to get a policy and an accountant to get your taxes done.  There was no internet, so information was something you had to gather and organize yourself.  You would talk to a few co-workers, a family member, a mentor and then take actions based on the limited intel.  Back then, you would sit with a financial advisor, and if they were a big deal they might have a stock ticker pumping out tape[…]

Just before the end of 2019, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act, better known as the “SECURE Act”, went into effect as a new law.   It brings another round of interesting changes to the U.S. tax code, but especially around the rules regarding Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs), which dictate when and how much people must withdraw from their retirement accounts to avoid tax penalties.  Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, the new law pushes the age at which you need to start withdrawing money from your traditional IRA retirement accounts from age 70 ½ to 72.  If you turn 70 ½ in 2019, you will still need to take your RMD for 2019, no later than April 1[…]

As another year comes to an end, we wanted to take a moment to wish you a great 2020!

The only constant in life is change, but some of these possible tax code changes will affect advisor planning in BIG WAYS! Three health care taxes that were originally enacted as part of the 2010 health care reform legislation are slated for repeal as part of this year’s budget from Congress.  As currently written, the new legislation provides changes to retirement plan rules, extends several expired tax provisions, provides disaster tax relief, and repeals the provision that taxed exempt organizations when they provided parking to their employees. Highlights in that bill awaiting Trump’s signature; Increases the age after which required minimum distributions from certain retirement accounts must begin to 72 (from 70½); Modifies requirements for multiple-employer plans to make it[…]

Ask anyone if they “pay too much income tax” and the knee jerk reaction is almost always, “yes!” and without much hesitation. Why do we call that a knee jerk reaction? Because if you then follow the question up with two more questions, “What did you pay in federal tax last year? And/or what bracket are you in?” they almost as quickly say, “I don’t remember, or I’m not sure”. Or they might guess at a bracket percentage, but usually not correctly. I’ve even had people profess the pain of paying too much in tax only to discover that not only did they get back all of their withholdings, but were given tax credit refunds of money they did not[…]

It’s that time of year again and many business owners with fat bottom lines, or even just with joy in their hearts, are getting ready to rinse and repeat what they have always done; buying tickets and food (perhaps adult beverages also) to celebrate and appreciate their work force. The new IRS rules generally allow deduction of the holiday party expense if it’s at the office, but the IRS has set new nondeductible guidelines for entertainment. It’s not clear, for instance, if you usually take you entire office to a holiday show, sporting event or concert, whether that part will still be deductible. More time and guidance will shake that all out, but at the moment it’s possible that it’s[…]

Not everyone is familiar with Schedule A on a 1040, especially healthy younger people with mortgage interest debt from owning a home.  Schedule A is a deduction that reduces your total income before taxes are assessed against it. The IRS gives you two choices when it comes to deductions.  You can take a “Standard Deduction” which is a flat rate that everyone can elect and has no paperwork or reporting requirements.  Or you can use a “long-form” and add up certain expenses in hopes that what you spent in those areas adds up to more than what the IRS allows you with the Standard Deduction.  If it does, you can claim the higher amount, which again is subtracted from your[…]

  My strategy?  Doesn’t this just happen?  NO!  And you need to pay attention! Weather changes and holiday gear up often take people’s eyes off the ball.  Everyone over the age of 70 with money in IRA accounts of many kinds are penalized at 50% by the IRS if they do not properly withdraw the correct amounts from those accounts before year end. Why would the IRS care if I take money out of my account? BECAUSE they get to tax it this year!  If, for instance, you are in the 10% tax bracket and you “should” take $10,000 from your IRA before the end of the year, then they would charge you $1,000 more on your taxes when filed,[…]

No trick! Opportunity zones are your treat this Halloween.  Year-end tax planning, the stock markets, and opportunity zones are all on a high speed merge around the country. Hopefully, the information is getting to the correct people, but even if you are seeing this for the first time, you still have time to get educated and perhaps take advantage.  Let’s break it down. Opportunity zones are a new governmental offensive to bring targeted areas around the country jobs and investment in infrastructure. There are many layers and details, but for this purpose, we will stick to a high-level discussion and focus on two parts. Part one:  What are they?  They are specific, clearly defined geographic areas around the country.  Opportunity[…]

After October, trick-or-treaters are done banging on your doors, the fall wrap up begins around the house.  Any remaining lawn chairs, storm windows and et cetera, all go into place ahead of the first storm.  Sure, for some places, like Arizona, winter is just a nice break from the heat.  Wow, this summer it was 110 degrees on many days!  Crazy.  But, for a majority of the country that lives in the snow belt, November means batten down the hatches. The same is true for finance and tax planning.  People start looking at their holiday shopping budgets and looking at their end of year projections (if they’re financial goal setters) to see where they are at.  We often talk about[…]

In a few months the U. S. will begin filing tax returns again, and at tax firms all over the country people will be making the “E-Trade” Shocked Baby Face (remember him?) when they see they are being charged penalties and interest for under paying their taxes due. Even if they made a 941 payment in the last quarter to cover ALL the tax due for the year, they can still find themselves fined by Uncle Sam as a penalty for not paying equally over the four quarters of the year. A last quarter over payment simply means they underpaid for three quarters and overpaid for one quarter, and no, it’s not “good enough” for the IRS. People also argue[…]