The PROPOSED new tax code changes from Biden would change a great deal  of what was installed by Trump. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the Trump tax reductions were meant to stimulate the economy to the point that we started reducing the national debt load (which for many reasons did not happen, and the annual deficit grew even greater).  Biden’s plan includes changes to the payroll tax, individual income tax, and estate and gift taxes: The people earning over $400,000 would pay more in several different ways; Increases  individual income tax rate for taxable incomes above $400,000 from 37 percent back to 39.6 percent. Taxes long-term capital gains and qualified dividends at the ordinary income tax rate of[…]

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[…]

Many of you in the past have had to issue a 1099-MISC to people you hired and paid, but not as W-2 waged employees. These forms have changed for the first time in a very long time, so this is a courtesy heads up.  The 1099-MISC has a much more limited use, but has not gone away.  However there is no longer a Box 7 for nonemployee compensation on the 1099-MISC.  If you used Box 7 in the past, you will need to switch to the new IRS form 1099-NEC, which is specifically for people who you have hired, including Independent contractors, gig workers, or self-employed individuals who you have previously sent a 1099-MISC for Box 7. Remember, giving them[…]

Many people have the intention of doing a better job of “tax planning” in order to start having more favorable outcomes, but busy lives and life interruptions can leave them little time.  If this is you, you’re not alone.  Time flies even in normal times, but with the current stressful environment, everyone is scrambling even more, so you look at the calendar and think, “I can go see my accountant or financial advisor, or I can get my shopping done”, and the next thing you know its Dec 18th and the end of the year is upon us.   Most advanced tax planning requires communication about concepts, takes reams of paperwork and time to submit to custodians, so it would[…]

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[…]

There are only three weeks left to make something great happen with this year’s tax bill. If you are over 72, save the time you would have spent getting clothes together and boxing them and driving in the holiday traffic to a charity for the tax deduction (this can be done January 3rd), and instead have your investment advisor set up a direct gift from your IRA to the same charity. It still satisfies “RMD” (minimum IRA withdrawal requirements) but takes that amount completely off your taxable income total! If you’re a small business owner that files on a Schedule C , set up your kids to receive payroll from your company and get checks issued and then cashed from[…]

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[…]

With COVID at our heels again and Thanksgiving effectively canceled for many, it seems that a repeat of the first half of 2020 may be at hand.  The arrival of the vaccine should make it less scary soon, but we still need to dodge the virus and keep our businesses open between now and when “anyone with no priority” can get vaccinated. It’s all distracting us from the wave that will affect or infect us, to which there will never be a vaccine, higher taxes for most and very soon.  I can wear a mask, I can Zoom with grandma and owe her a hug, but I can’t change what’s about to happen to my tax bill.  The Biden campaign[…]

First, let’s say upfront that a business that has sources of income and expenses and leaves 25% profit on the table is an awesome business!  Example: A Plumber makes $400,000 a year and spends $300,000 a year on plumbing tools, trucks, repairs, staff, insurances, etc., and walks away with $100,000 at the end of the year that he can put in his pocket; great business!  It would be rare that it’s that easy.  More likely, he puts $60,000 in his pocket and sneaks a few personal expenses into his plumbing books.  In a very rare case in the other direction, 50% in expenses and 50% profit, but he probably wouldn’t do that every year.  That would be a “magic year” with no repairs to fleet vehicles, no staff turnover,[…]

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[…]

The Small Business Administration (SBA) issued guidance on October 8, 2020, allowing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less to self-certify that they used the money appropriately and receive complete forgiveness, although borrowers will still have to provide things such as payroll provider reports.  Now employers can use a further simplified form and a “check the box” paperwork process.  Borrowers can use the new SBA Form 3508S for their forgiveness application, or wait for their bank, credit union or other source to update their online applications.   The new rules remove the need to show that you did not reduce head counts or salaries and, therefore, suffer a reduction in loan forgiveness.  Previous regulations outlined that if an employer reduced[…]

COVID-19 has financially affected much more than it has infected, and our financial future as a country is tenuous as a result!  As Fall takes hold, there is still time to at least make one glass of lemonade from all the lemons, but people need to put time on their calendar in October to focus on their own opportunity or risk not benefitting from the one benefit they can receive from a global pandemic. There are many categories and levels of financial effects that have taken place, but for simplification in this case we will separate everyone into two groups.  People negatively affect (many ruined or greatly wounded) and those on the other side, people and companies that benefitted financially[…]

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[…]

With fall in the air, it’s time to start thinking about things that need to be done to prepare for winter.  The garden harvests are rolling in, fresh vegetables are everywhere and it’s really, really great.  Time to fill up your oil tanks before the price change, and at least know where those snow tires are in the back of the garage.  It’s also time for tax planning. There are so many things in the tax code that have time limitations.  It’s really time to check in with yourself if you want to actually participate in your bill with the IRS.  Taxes can be very much within people’s control, even though they don’t feel that way.  If you’re still out on extension, heads up — you[…]

We are nearing the October 15th filing deadline, so all the crying is almost over 2019 tax return submissions.   We blogged throughout the summer on various topics, but now you’re down to a few weeks to effectively do 90% of what can be done to affect your 2020 tax liability.  Only a few things can be done in 2021, once you realize how big the bill actually is.  If you’re an individual making less than top wages, you can open and fund IRAs after January 1st, 2021, that can reduce your 2020 tax bill.  Other than that, there’s little that can be done once the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.  You have until then to get your act together, figure out where your tax[…]

All around the country, there are people in an absolute panic because the real tax deadline for personal tax return extension filers is approaching and they are running out of time.  A few blogs ago, we talked about how to possibly deal with not being ready for the corporate deadline on September 15th .  We don’t have an amusing anecdote for the October 15th deadline like we did for the corporate deadline.  The deadline is the deadline. The exception would be for those who have been affected by flooding or other natural disasters and may be given an extended deadline by the IRS.  Those people may now have until December 31st to file, but would need to check the IRS website to see if they are in an affected area[…]

First, let us make it clear that we aren’t saying that your CPA or accountant is doing anything wrong.  The accounting industry is one of the most honorable and respected fields around.  That being said, there is a misconception that they are going to be proactive when advising clients about their taxes, and that’s just not part of the training most have received.  Certainly some are, but the majority who know things about steps a business could take to perhaps be more aggressive, don’t feel it’s their responsibility to pursue a client in engaging in alternative accounting choices or behaviors. A good example is “Bob” who owns a tire shop that has grown from two employees to three locations and[…]

With Labor Day here, what tax planning should I think about before the fourth quarter is in full swing?  The biggest mistake a business can make is not knowing their true numbers. The biggest mistake individuals can make is thinking they aren’t affected financially just because they “made it” and are back to work.  Business owners have it especially tough because they are stressed and exhausted from scrambling to adapt and survive with all the new restrictions in place.  They look at the books and think “I just cant be proactive right now.  Mentally, I’m wiped.  We are finally stable again and I’m just happy to be here taking a breath.  The problem is their tax returns are going to[…]

With the COVID-19 pandemic, many people who worked in an office have suddenly found themselves being asked to work from home for safety reasons.  Many remote workers, especially those no longer commuting to cities, wonder if they will have to pay taxes where they were working, or at home, or both. States use several factors to determine if they have the authority to tax a worker’s income, including what kind of a presence the worker has in the state.  Unfortunately as we have all witnessed, many times tax rules are passed without all the details fully worked out and considered.  Rule changes resulting from the pandemic have been no exception to that! “Personal income taxes and withholdings should [usually] be[…]

Many times business owners have come into our office and with our help have found that they were doing things incorrectly regarding their bookkeeping and taxes.  Occasionally, the errors add to the tax burdens that they have been underreporting.  That never feels good, but it is always better to fix those issues pre-audit.  Often, errors discovered pre-audit can be fixed by simply amending the return, and no IRS issues follow, and everyone just moves on.  But quite often, the errors made were not in their own favor and we file help them file amended returns that net them large additional refunds for up to three years back, and that always feels great! So, how do these mistakes happen?  First, let[…]

When people save for retirement they almost automatically use accounts that avoid tax now.  IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457s, all pretax retirement savings plans.  Certainly, long term savings uninterrupted by withdrawals and the effect of compounding interest on interest earned is unarguably valuable, but doing that in pretax accounts is NOT the only way to have that happen!  Non-qualified annuity and Roth IRAs allow the same mechanics of compounding to happen, and in retirement both can be as valuable depending on the circumstances and actions of the retiree. Annuities are underappreciated as a tax planning tool, because of the way earnings are treated as ordinary income upon withdrawal.  However if annuitized at retirement (an option the advisors that distribute them often[…]

Many business owners cheered as the news came out about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The money was not distributed perfectly, but for a “rush job” it was still done pretty well. Then, the money went out and we have witnessed the result, in that many businesses that had no customers for weeks and months are reopened and here to serve.  If not for the PPP, many would not be!  However, nobody can afford to let their guard down just yet, as they are loans that must be paid back in full to the SBA!  That’s right.  As of today, nothing is forgiven and we all owe PPP money back!  That can change if you take action, but many[…]

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.  Tax planning is not just for the wealthy, though.  It can be a useful tool for anyone who is aware of the opportunities. Our tax[…]

It’s human nature, of course.  We complain about our weight in the line at the ice-cream stand.  We complain about being tired, then stay up late playing the latest game on our smart devices. Humans are funny and contradictory animals. Have you ever noticed that when you’re in a conversation, people are quick to complain about their taxes?  Many people who complain about their tax bill are actually paying very little compared to most folks.  However, some people pay a lot of unintended or surprise taxes.  An example we see a great deal are self-employed folks.  They will tell us “I pay too much in federal or state income taxes”, but on review of their 1040, they actually paid no[…]

Summer is a popular time for people planning a move to put their home on the market.  It happens all year long of course, but the “hot season” is May-September.  There are many reasons.  School is out and if you have kids of that age it’s easier to change schools between grades.  Often, it’s when summer vacation schedules come around and except for tourism many industries slow down and moving done well takes at least a week and two weekends.  It’s easier to move without snow, so for some of the country that’s also a factor.  There’s are many more reasons, but Summer is when a “wave” takes place.  It’s hard work, stressful and a pain in the neck (and other[…]

For the self-employed, home office deductions can be connected to the Schedule C that they include on their 1040, which reports income and expenses for the business.  The home office deduction can be taken with two different calculation options.  One is more complex to calculate and one simplified option is based only on the square footage of the room or area they work from.  This group is not really affected by the Trump tax code changes.  Before those tax code changes, W-2 employees who worked from home also had access to a similar deduction.  Along with other expenses, such as work boots or uniforms purchased by the employee and not reimbursed by the employer, and others, and subject to a[…]

It’s July but the big fireworks are a victim of COVID-19. Although true, small local and personal fireworks will likely be everywhere as people adapt. That fireworks habit is ingrained in us so the fun will find a way. Another behavior or habit that’s ingrained into people is spending more time on “staycation” vacation plans than time spent fixing next year’s tax problem when now is the time to take your preventative medicine and avoid the pain! In being humans, we all form habits. Some are good, most are bad. We try to develop good ones to replace the bad and often we are successful. However, most successes don’t come without a coach, cheerleader, or some kind of support system. Tax[…]