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[…]

People try, but “adulting” is hard!  Kids, pets, job, relatives, friends, bills, medical problems, car problems, work problems all in the last day, so when I have time I will start tax planning.  Same as….so when I have time I will start estate planning, it’s just so too far down on most peoples’ day to day list of things to do that all the other issues just cycle in some complex order that nobody understands and the last two items never seem to bubble up to the top…UNTIL THEY DO! If you are a business owner, thoughts of tax planning might bubble to the surface a couple times a year, perhaps March 15th and April 15th (or later if you[…]

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 1st (yes, next week). The deadline for pass-through business entities is March 15th.   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, with enough time[…]

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,[…]

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.[…]

As weather interrupts some parts of the country and business owners have to scramble and fill in the gaps of employees, supplies, deliveries and the like, it’s easy for them to worry about taxes later, after all, there’s “plenty of time.” That often comes back to bite them though, sometimes hard. If they run their business as a sole proprietorship then yes, they have until mid-April to file, and until mid-October if they file an extension.  However, the majority of small businesses under pay tax estimates, if the pay them at all, and the first filing date (mid-April) is when the taxes are due, even with an extension to file. The penalties and interest are based on what’s owed and[…]

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[…]

A recent headline in Tax Analysts reads: “Reasonable IRS Appraisal Triggers Conservation Easement Settlement.” The article describes a long battle involving what the IRS calls “syndicated” conservation easement transactions. Hale E. Sheppard Esq. an Atlanta Georgia based Attorney stated in review of the ruling: “after the IRS was unable to win the case on technical issues by filing a Motion for Summary Judgment, after the partnership provided proof that any post-donation improvements would not materially change the value, and after the partnership submitted a Qualified Offer, the IRS agreed to settle the case before a Tax Court trial, allowing the partnership to claim 85 percent of the original tax deduction.” It is interesting to note that the IRS was insistent that[…]

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[…]

Tax filing season is looming again, with the IRS saying they will begin accepting returns between January 24th and 30th. However, it is possible that the IRS will delay the start of tax season a week or so beyond that, and returns containing Earned Income Tax (EITC) or Child Tax (CTC) credits may have refunds delayed until March so that credits can be verified.  Pass-through business returns will begin being accepted soon as well and will have a filing deadline of March 15th, which allows time for K-1s for owners and investors to be issued in time for the April personal filing deadline. This year that deadline will fall on April 18th for most, due to Good Friday falling on[…]

The IRS as Santa Claus?  A gift under the tree that every business owner should want to open!  Often the IRS makes new tax rules in reaction to a natural disaster, such as extending the filing deadline for Kentuckians after devastating tornadoes struck. Other rules are put in place to deal with changing financial dynamics, as with crypto currency.  They have rushed to make tax rules for this new form of currency.  Those new rules inadvertently gave crypto owners an advantage, in that they could harvest losses without a “wash rule” by re-buying the same “coin” two seconds after selling it, but still taking the loss on their taxes.  Over time they tend to be good at detecting these “errors”[…]

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[…]