A few weeks ago a major piece of legislation was signed into law and in our qualified opinion, seniors win. Young people however, who are being told they win as well, may actually lose, due to basic human nature. For our seniors, the rules around Required Minimum Distributions from IRAs, also known as “RMDs” were changed, moving the age at which they must begin from 72.5 to 73 years old. Tax rules that run on age changes and dates are just easier to follow for most. As people are living longer and many are working past age 65, it was time to adjust those rules, which just a few years ago had required distributions triggering at age 70.5. It is scheduled[…]

Sometimes “Tax Planning” can be easy: “Open an IRA and it reduces your taxable income.” Other times it can be quite complex: “Cost segregation” on a building means hiring an engineering firm and having a structure broken down into its many components on paper, with each value separately listed; the frame, wiring, heating systems, etc., and taking write-offs, generally much faster than simply taking a standard approach. These are both ways to lower federal or state taxes.   For the people who have made large amounts of money or have larger estates, the year to year tax bill is not as much of a concern as the “Death Tax Bill.” Planning for them can be simple or complex as well,[…]

We talk a lot about people not doing tax planning and not spending more time creating the tax outcomes they want. We urge people to understand that it’s within their own control and that tax outcomes can be legally and ethically manipulated.  We go on and on about the benefits.  BUT…we understand why it’s so rarely done! It is because almost nothing in people’s lives has more constant change than taxes, and keeping up with all the changes can be an overwhelming challenge.  What if every four years your banking rules changed, “Oh I’m sorry John, we no longer pay you interest, now you pay us interest to keep money here.”  Or “Now you have to send in your mortgage[…]

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, email 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, even though larger refunds would pay for those vacations! Tax planning offices often don’t look like[…]

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 be[…]

Dear Santa, I feel like you put me on the naughty list ever year. When I file my tax return you impose taxes on me that I don’t want to pay. It feels like tons of coal are being unfairly put into my very little stockings. I try to be a good person all year, so I’m not sure why you are singling me out and treating me this way. Dear Suzie, You are not on the naughty list. In fact, you’re not on any list at all. You’re not being watched by me or my elves, unless you are doing things you ought not be doing. Every year I actually provide you with lots of presents, the following just[…]

Most business owners in any five year period can answer yes to at least one of these life event questions that would cause them to need to know what their company is worth. 1. Are you contemplating the sale of your business? 2. Are you working with or bringing in a partner? 3. Are you contemplating or currently going through divorce proceedings? 4. Are you potentially going to have to defend yourself or your company in court? 5. Are you looking for financing? There are other possible reasons of course, but the point is that there are many times a business owner finds himself or herself needing to obtain a proper business valuation for their company. Unfortunately, it’s often an[…]

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. We’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 they were given tax credit refunds of money they did[…]

This is the time of year when people often start taking personal inventory of how fortunate they are and start considering charitable contributions as a way to “give back” a little. For some, it’s an automatic budget item in their day to day lives, but for others it’s a new activity. For many years the IRS has helped people give by allowing charitable contributions to be deducted on schedule A when they file their taxes. The tax deduction value of those gifts changed with the Trump tax code simplification, as many people no longer need to file a Schedule A due to the higher standard deduction. Many people are still ingrained in their old charitable giving habits and aren’t aware[…]

It may sound odd when you say it out loud, but after considering all the facts, it’s quite true. It’s an emotional but understandable reaction to think you always want to lower your tax bill as much as possible. However, except in the case of death, the tax code is basically a case of “tax me now or tax me later.” In many cases, to lower your current tax bill means that income avoided or deductions taken now are going to come back into your life at some later point. One example would be an IRA. You put money in an IRA and lower today’s tax bill, but those dollars will need to be taxed at some point. When you[…]

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[…]

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 that[…]

In October, as Halloween approaches, the fall wrap up begins around the house.  Any remaining lawn chairs, storm windows, etc., all go into place ahead of the first storm.  Sure, for some places, like Arizona, winter is just a nice break from the heat.  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 tax planning, but the 911 calls start in early December, and there’s a lot that still can[…]

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[…]

Many taxpayers today don’t really know how much income tax they actually paid with their 2021 tax filing. A few can tell you something more general like, “I got quite a refund” or “I paid a lot and it hurt!”, but not many can really tell you how much tax they actually owed. That’s a shame in our “plugged in” world where your mortgage company, credit card company, crypto wallet service, Amazon, Credit Karma etc. have all done their best to have you interact on a regular basis. They send you reminders, offer you guidance and try to inform you in some way of your ongoing status. Ask a taxpayer what bracket they are in and they might answer, “I[…]

We are nearing the October filing deadline, so all the crying is almost over for last year’s tax return submissions.   We’ve 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 current year tax liability.  Only a few things can be done after December 31st, 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 December 31st to reduce this year’s 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[…]

This last wave of tax filers are quite often the most productive people in our economy. Many are business owners, some with more than one business, or at least in some ways just have a lot going on, which means they usually add and not subtract from the tax base. That said, if your taxes are not done yet, then you’re in a rush (or should be) to get everything ready for filing, which usually means you’re not getting everything done accurately, and very often means you’re not getting any real tax mitigation advice either. It’s a vicious cycle. You wait to file because you are so busy getting ahead and just plain getting things done, then comes the fear[…]

Don’t let your stockbroker off the hook when it comes to tax planning.  Many people work with brokers when they buy and sell stocks.  Many people now, because of the internet, also have become their own stockbrokers, doing their own research and trading on various platforms.  Whether you use a professional or do your trades yourself, you still need to hold your stockbroker accountable.  What do I mean?  If a broker is helping you buy and sell, they had to take a Series license of some kind.  Sometimes, an RIA (Registered Investment Advisor) has taken a Series 65 exam.  If it’s a representative of a broker/dealer, perhaps they’ve taken a Series 6 or a Series 7 exam.  There are other possibilities, but the point is, these exams[…]

Well, do they or don’t they, actually?  Long debated and often manipulated by the media, the topic of the wealthy and taxation has many, many complex points and counterpoints.  First, when people say that, they often don’t define what kind of tax.  The people hearing the comment usually go to federal personal income tax in their mind as TAXES. However, if a wealthy person owns 20 C corporations, with each filing their own tax returns, those C corporations pay their own taxes and unless the wealthy person needed to take a dividend or other distribution, then they could pay zero federal income tax, even though their companies paid potentially millions in taxes themselves.   The kinds of taxes people pay[…]

Have you ever seen a cat on the side of the road that waits until the very last second and then darts across the road in front of traffic? Ever see one that didn’t make it and think, “Some child is going to be very sad soon.”? I always wonder what makes the cat wait until the last second, but then again that’s what most taxpayers seem to do! They wait until February or March with a filing deadline looming and then dash out in front of a tax preparer and beg, “Is there anything we can do to lower this?”  Like the cat, perhaps the preparer has an idea and they miss getting hit with the entire bill, but[…]

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 buzz about the IRA potentially getting billions in new funding and hiring 87,000 new employees is typical of the news spinners who thrive on creating anxiety for the general public. The tax industry has known the IRS’s secret for years now and the few people in the public that pay attention know that these people are desperately needed!  Like many restaurants and other businesses that have closed because of staff shortages and uncertainty, the IRS at current staff levels has been almost impossible to reach and is years behind in its work. They have had tens of thousands of employees retire without being replaced, and just reaching the IRS to speak to someone about an issue can take days[…]

When planning ahead, or just engaging in their day to day operations, most business owners at least occasionally think about tax deductions. A business dinner that can be partially deductible, or a new machine that can be depreciated. However, they often don’t think about or plan how to acquire other tax credits, which can often be much more valuable. Tax credits are often transitory, with the benefits increased or reduced from year to year, or sometimes eliminated altogether, only to be brought back again several years later. Over the last few decades we have seen some popular credits renewed or in some cases even made a permanent part of the tax code. Small business owners seem to often not be aware[…]

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 under-reporting.  That never feels good, but it is always better to fix those issues prior to any 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. In those case, we 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[…]

When people are contemplating selling an asset like a house, an investment property, stock or a business asset, it’s usually to make a profit or to raise cash. Sometimes, a house is sold in order to buy bigger (or smaller), to move to a different town to take a new job. In the case of stocks, it might be for the taking of profits, stopping further loses, or again to raise cash.  One common thread among all of these decisions is that people generally think about them for some time before they act, as usually these are among the largest assets they have. What we see often in the tax planning world is that people sell the asset, and then[…]

It’s July.  In a few short months people will be filing their 2022 tax returns with that familiar recurring moan and groan about paying too much. Now is the time to take your preventative medicine and avoid the pain next time around! Being human, we all form habits.  Some good.  Most bad.  We try to develop good ones to replace the bad ones and often we are successful, but most successes don’t come without a coach, cheerleader or some kind of support. Tax time is usually a time of regret over not being successful at last year’s promise to oneself, “I’m not going to pay this much again.  I`m going to keep better records and search out a tax planner[…]

For most years, the IRS sets the mileage deduction rate for business use of personally owned vehicles and leaves it at that rate for the entire year. In those cases, the business owner taxpayer will need to keep track of and report the total number of miles driven for the year, the number of business miles driven, the number of commuting miles and the number of personal miles, so that the IRS knows how many miles are eligible for the business mileage deduction (commuting and personal miles are not eligible). This year, the IRS has done something unusual, but not unprecedented, in that they have changed the deduction amount halfway through the year. How does that affect you as a[…]