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[…]

It’s human nature, of course.  We complain about our weight while 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[…]

Some do it often, while others hold on all year for that one great week and live day by day until that magical start date on the calendar!  A new wave in our digital age is to only take three or four day weekends, but do it more often. However you “vacation”, they do have one common thread, and that is that they are not free.  Furthermore, when you are officially vacationing (which becomes a mindset as well….I am officially on vacation as of right now!) you spend more freely, often with a disregard for cost shopping.  “I’m stopping at Starbucks for the Mocha Frappuccino, not Dunkin, cause I’m on vacation!”. What if next vacation you could upgrade to fly[…]

Tax policy and rates have always been fluid, much more so than most people realize, as they only focus on it for short periods one time a year. You also don’t see many high school or college classes on the history of taxes and tax planning, unless you’re in accounting school. Like a distant relative you see at an occasional wedding, you forget most of the prior experiences and conversations and simply repeat them as an act of convenience. It’s the lack of personal taxation understanding and the continuous ebbs and flows that allow the tax authorities to keep things the same just long enough to let people form habits, then change the tax rules to penalize the habits created.[…]

People who earn more than $91,000 a year ($182,000 for joint filers) and who are in Medicare Part B or Medicare Part D, or both, will face additional premiums, called income-related monthly adjusted amount (IRMAA). IRMAA “surcharges,” which is a replacement word for a tax, are based on income earned two years prior to the coverage year. A client enrolling in Medicare in 2022 would pay an IRMAA surcharge based on their 2020 tax return. Generally there are two types of people that pay IRMAA surcharges: Those who might be affected and those who will always be affected. Because it is income based, people with an unusual income event may only be affected once, while people with higher incomes may always be affected.[…]

As of Jan. 1, 2020, the SECURE Act requires the entire balance of a non-spousal participant’s inherited IRA account to be distributed or withdrawn within 10 years of the death of the original owner. The 10-year rule applies regardless of whether the participant dies before, on, or after the RMD (required minimum distribution) age at which they had to begin withdrawals. In other words, you must withdraw the inherited funds within 10 years and pay income taxes on the distributed amounts. Since the withdrawals are required, you won’t pay the 10% penalty if you’re under the age of 59½. But you must pay income taxes on the distributions, and you must eventually empty the account. Children of IRA holders, same sex[…]

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[…]

The answer to that might surprise you.  Because, for the most part, the answer is yes.  However, sometimes they are only fair if you know how to “play the game”.  Most people think only the wealthy can avoid paying income tax because they know how to play the game.  Well, at a much lower level, everybody knows some of the tricks to “playing the game”.  For instance, you might be contributing to your 401(k) at work.  Well, you’re playing the game.  However, you might not know that even though you’re contributing everything you can to your 401(k) at work, you’re still allowed to open an additional private IRA, and take another several thousand dollars off of your taxable income.  That trick is “knowing the rest of the rules[…]

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 are[…]

It’s May and the 2021-2022 tax filing season has finally come to an end (for most of us), and for many with a familiar recurring moooooan and grooooooan of having paid too much in taxes.  Now is the time to take your preventative medicine and avoid the pain next year! 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[…]

For people with just one or two W2s and perhaps a daycare deduction, getting the amount of tax paid into the IRS to come out correctly is easy enough and can be done within a 95% accuracy rate. The IRS gives the follow instruction: All taxpayers should review their federal withholding each year to make sure they’re not having too little or too much tax withheld. Doing this now can help protect against facing an unexpected tax bill or penalty next filing season. The sooner taxpayers check their withholding, the easier it is to get the right amount of tax withheld. Taxpayers whose employers withhold federal income tax from their paycheck can use the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator to help[…]

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[…]

Some people have filed their tax return, received a refund and already spent it. Others have filed and paid and the “pain is over” for another year. But for many who have not filed and are looking at the calendar and saying “Oh, no!”, here are some tips. If you haven’t filed because of a natural disaster in your area, you may not have to do anything. The IRS gives a state by state accounting of any special things going on around the country that might affect filing deadlines. Click this link, go to your state and see: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/around-the-nation.   If you don’t have anything under special rules then just keep in mind that you must pay all taxes due[…]

When we start tax planning with a new client, the first thing people often ask is why the accountant or CPA they are using doesn’t think or act the way we do in discussing the hunt for possible tax savings. After all, the current CPA is smart, trustworthy, running a successful accounting business and trusted in the community. So, why are we telling them all these wonderful new tax savings ideas that their CPA has never mentioned? There are many explanations, but the simplest is how the accountants themselves view the job that they do. Often, accountants think that the profession of accounting in its simplest form is the job of telling the story of money that has already come[…]

People often struggle with record keeping and are typically so busy that they are simply unaware of tools or services that have been developed that could greatly improve the recording of tax deductible expenses, mileage, etc.  Many topics we could cover here, but two that are universal. If you are in business, you have a phone and a car.  Cell phones are pretty typical for smaller companies.  What we usually see is a personal cell phone bill of about $150-250 a month, and of course the business owner wants to deduct it all.  When you start asking questions however, it’s almost always a family plan with the spouse and kids on it, so 80% of the cost and use is[…]

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’s 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[…]

The Washington Post reports the following and its breathtaking (not in a good way). The Internal Revenue Service on Thursday scrapped plans to close one of its three remaining tax processing centers amid a backlash over an unprecedented accumulation of unprocessed tax returns that threatens to derail the 2022 tax filing season. IRS leaders announced plans in 2016 to close the Austin facility to cut costs at the long-underfunded agency and redirect resources to online tax-filing services. Nearly 90 percent of tax filers submit their returns online, a number the agency is trying to boost to improve efficiency and accuracy. But that still leaves tens of millions of paper returns for the IRS to process at centers like Austin. And[…]

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[…]