In practice since 1979
(702) 998-0224

 

Did You Know?

4 Signs You’re in for an Unwelcome Tax Bill

If any of these happened to yo in 2020, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise from the IRS

1. FIND A 1099-NEC IN YOUR MAILBOX

1099-NEC reports income earned from freelancing, from a side gig or as an independent contractor. Money your clients paid you is on that form if it was at least $600 — and there was likely no tax withheld. The IRS and maybe even your state will probably be looking for that tax money from you by the April 15 tax-filing deadline.

You’re generally not taxed on the gross income for this type of work, you’re taxed on the net income or profit. Gathering your receipts and other information about your business expenses can reduce that net income and thus cut your tax bill. Contributing to an IRA could also reduce your taxable income for 2020 if you do it by the April 15 tax-filing deadline.

2. YOU FILLED OUT A NEW W-4 LAST YEAR TO REDUCE PAYCHECK WITHHOLDINGS

A W-4 is the form you use to tell your employer how much tax to withhold from your paycheck. Many people may have filled out a new W-4 in 2020 to reduce those withholdings and get more take-home pay in order to make ends meet. But that could mean a nasty surprise at tax time for a lot of filers.

“Their withholding has been adjusted, and they didn’t really realize that until the end of the year, when they’re used to a couple-thousand-dollar refund and now they’re having to pay a couple thousand dollars.”

Check with a tax pro or use a tax calculator now so that you have more time to plan for any tax-refund shortfalls or unexpected tax bills. If you need to, readjust your W-4 so you don’t encounter the same issue next year.

3. YOUR INVESTMENTS DID WELL IN 2020

If the market lifted your portfolio or you sold some investments last year, your tax situation may not be what you expect. There might be some large capital gains coming.

There may not be a lot you can do to offset those capital gains now, because Dec. 31 has come and gone. But you can make some strategic moves now for a better 2021, including reviewing your situation more frequently. I would suggest quarterly, at least, looking at your investments to make sure there’s not a bunch of income that you’re not expecting,

4. YOU RECEIVED UNEMPLOYMENT

Unemployment income isn’t tax-free. It will be subject to income tax, and that also is going to include any additional unemployment compensation that’s provided from the federal government. You’ll likely receive a form 1099-G in the mail showing how much you received, and the IRS and your state may want a cut by April 15.

If you don’t have the money to pay your tax bill by April 15, know that the IRS offers installment plans that allow you to pay over time. And if you’re receiving unemployment in 2021, you can have 10% withheld for taxes from each disbursement, which could help prevent another tax surprise next year.

 


Tax Tips For Filing Your 2020 Tax Return

File electronically and use direct deposit. The IRS says that paper-filed tax returns and paper checks will take even longer this year. One out of five taxpayers don’t get their tax refunds by direct deposit. You can provide routing information for up to three accounts—even retirement accounts—on your tax return to which the IRS can send your refund. “I can’t stress enough the importance of filing electronically and choosing direct deposit. This is the safest and easiest way to file an accurate tax return and get a refund,” says IRS Chief Taxpayer Experience Officer Ken Corbin. Taxpayers have until Thursday, April 15, to file their returns and pay any tax owed.

Check Stimulus payments. Most taxpayers got two economic-impact “stimulus” payments in Round 1 and Round 2. If you’re eligible—and either didn’t receive a payment or think you qualify for more than you got—you can claim a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return. 

Covid 401(k) distributions. If you took a CARES Act 401(k) or IRA distribution in 2020 under the loosened rules for tapping your 401(k) penalty free, you can report all of the income on your 2020 tax return or in equal installments over three years. See the new IRS Form 8915-E and instructions. The enhanced retirement plan distribution rules were not extended for 2021 in the year-end 2020 tax package.

Unemployment benefits are taxable.This includes basic state benefits as well as the extra $600 weekly CARES Act federal pandemic benefits. You should have received a Form 1099-G showing the amount you were paid and any federal income taxes withheld. If you didn’t get a 1099-G, check your state’s unemployment compensation website to access it. Some states are providing tax relief for the state tax hit on unemployment benefits.  

Gig work is taxable. If you picked up a side job during the pandemic, you have to include it on your tax return as self-employment income. The basic rule is this: Individuals must file a tax return if they have net earnings from self-employment of $400 or more from gig work, even if it’s a side job, part-time or temporary. If you have self-employment income, make sure you keep track of deductible expenses relating to your gig, and if you’ve set up a home office, you might qualify for the home office deduction.

Charitable deduction changes for 2020. If you made cash gifts to charities in 2020, there’s a new $300 above-the-line charitable donation deduction per tax return. That means that even if you, like most taxpayers, take the standard deduction and don’t itemize deductions, you can take the $300 charitable deduction. You need proof of your gift. For gifts under $250, credit card statements or cancelled checks will work as a receipt. For gifts of $250 or more, you need a written acknowledgment from the charity. There’s a new $600 charitable tax deduction for 2021.

Save for retirement by maxing out your 2020 IRA. You can make tax year 2020 contributions to an Individual Retirement Account through April 15, 2021, and take a tax deduction if you’re eligible. For 2020, the limit on annual contributions to an IRA (pretax or Roth or a combination) is $6,000, plus a $1,000 catch-up contribution allowed if you’re 50 or older. For 2020 and later, there is no age limit on making IRA contributions. If you’re self-employed and have more room for retirement savings, you can still open and fund a SEP-IRA for 2020 through April 15.

Save for healthcare expenses, or retirement, by maxing out your HSA. If you have a hig-deductible health plan, you can contribute to a health savings account and get a triple tax benefit. The money goes in pretax, grows tax free, and comes out tax free if you use it for eligible healthcare expenses. Typically you contribute via salary deferrals but you can top up your annual contribution for the prior tax year through the tax filing deadline. That means you can make 2020 contributions through April 15, 2021. For 2020, the maximum contribution amount is $3,550 for individual coverage, or $7,100 for family coverage, plus a $1,000 catch-up if you’re 55 or older. If you take out money for non-healthcare needs, you’ll owe taxes—plus a 20% penalty if you’re under 65.

Check the IRS Where’s My Refund? tool. Most refunds are sent within 21 days of e-filing. If you’re expecting a refund and want to know when you might get it, the Where’s My Refund? tool on the IRS website lets you plug in your name, filing status and refund amount to check on the status. A personalized refund date should show up 24 hours after you e-file. For taxpayers filing early who are claiming the earned income tax credit or the additional child tax credit, the tool should update by February 22 (they should see refunds by the first week of March). 

IF YOU EXPECT A BIG REFUND, FILE EARLY.


Good News! Business Owners Who Took PPP Will Get to Deduct Expenses After All

The 2020 tax season now looks a lot less bleak for those business owners who used Payroll Protection Program (PPP) money to cover their expenses to keep going during the coronavirus pandemic. On Dec. 21,2020, Congress clarified rules on the program’s tax ramifications, leaving thousands of small-business owners the winners.

The months-long battle between the legislators who wrote the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the IRS appears to be over. (To read about the fight and how it affected business owners, check out IRS Leaves Business Owners Who Took PPP in a Tax Quandary.) Both the House and Senate have voted to approve the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.” President Trump signed it into law about a week later, after wrangling over the amount of the stimulus payments.

Among the Act’s many provisions, is a subsection called the “Covid-related Tax Relief Act of 2020” (which starts on page 1,965 for those reading the full text). Under Section 276, Congress clarifies the tax treatment of forgiven PPP loans and the deductions paid by such loans.

Recall that the original Section 1106(i) of the CARES Act included language excluding forgiven PPP loan proceeds from taxable income but was silent on deductibility of expenses paid with those same proceeds. The Tax Relief Act amends the CARES Act to address this gap (which the IRS attempted to use as a backdoor to tax business owners on the relief funds’ benefits) with the bolded portion below:

TAX TREATMENT—For purposes of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986—

(1) no amount shall be included in the gross income of the eligible recipient by reason of forgiveness of indebtedness described in subsection (b),

(2) no deduction shall be denied, no tax attribute shall be reduced, and no basis increase shall be denied, by reason of the exclusion from gross income provided by paragraph (1) ….

Although many (including myself) believe Congress made its original intent clear regarding taxability of PPP funds (and deductions) in the CARES Act text, subsequent positions taken by the IRS raised eyebrows – and questions – and, in the process, gave already-stressed small-business owners more to worry about.

Apparently wishing to leave no room for further misinterpretation, Congress went into greater detail with the Tax Relief Act, including additional language directed to pass-through income and tax basis of ownership interests. Additional provisions state:

(3) in the case of an eligible recipient that is a partnership or S corporation—

(A) any amount excluded from income by reason of paragraph (1) shall be treated as tax exempt income for purposes of sections 705 and 1366 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, and

(B) except as provided by the Secretary of the Treasury (or the Secretary’s delegate), any increase in the adjusted basis of a partner’s interest in a partnership under section 705 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 with respect to any amount described in subparagraph (A) shall equal the partner’s distributive share of deductions resulting from costs giving rise to forgiveness described in subsection (b).

This last part – “except as provided by the Secretary of Treasury” (the department that oversees the IRS) worried me, and I consulted with a tax expert, Rain Hughes, expert tax education provider and CEO of Fast Forward Academy, for insight. Hughes explains:

This language means that a partner’s tax basis shall increase by the distributable share of deductions attributed to forgiveness. This is meaningful because a taxpayer's adjusted basis affects the taxation of distributions, the ability to recognize losses, and the amount of gain/loss recognized on disposition.

In other words, this language helps ensure business owners who receive the benefit now will not end up losing it in the form of capital gains later. This language prevents an end-run in another form of tax.

This is great news for business owners all over the country (including many of my clients) who took advantage of the CARES Act’s Payroll Protection Program to actually protect their payroll employees by keeping them employed earlier this year.

Imagine the struggling business owner (dentist, pediatrician, autism school, restaurant owner, or insert your own business) relying on PPP relief, who borrowed $250,000 and did not lay off any employees, even though business revenue dropped off substantially because everyone stayed home from April through July. If the PPP worked as intended, those proceeds helped carry the business through until things picked up by September. Everything may be looking good for a break-even year and a fresh eye toward a better 2021 – until the owner realizes she has an additional $250,000 in taxable income for 2020 and not enough in the bank to pay the tax bill. The ultimate irony would have had the IRS attempt to do what the coronavirus could not by putting those owners deeper in debt or out of business.

Thankfully, business owners no longer need to worry about such an absurd scenario, and we can now focus on a stronger recovery in 2021. Now that the president signed the Act into law, we can all breathe a sigh of relief.


RMDs Already Taken in 2020 Can be Rolled Over

The required beginning date for taking money from an IRA or defined contribution plan used to be the year the taxpayer reached age 70.5.  The distribution for the first year could be delayed to as late as April 1st, of the following year.

The SECURE Act changed the age from 70.5 to age 72 for anyone who had not yet reached age 70.5 as of December 31, 2019.  In other words, if the taxpayer reached age 70.5 on or before December 31, 2019, the taxpayer had to start taking distributions and continue taking distributions.  If the taxpayer had not yet reached age 70.5 on or before December 31, 2019, the taxpayer’s required beginning date is the year the taxpayer reaches age 72.  Again, the first year’s distribution could be delayed as late as April 1st of the following year.

The CARES Act permits taxpayers to ignore the requirement to take an RMD for the year 2020.  This includes:

1) Taxpayers who turned 70.5 during 2019 and chose to delay the first distribution to 2020 but not later than April 1, 2020,

2) Taxpayers who were 70.5 or older as of December 31, 2019, or

3) Taxpayers who were beneficiaries of an IRA or defined contribution plan as of December 31, 2019.

Unfortunately, the CARES Act didn’t become law until March 27, 2020, by which time many taxpayers had already taken some or all of their 2020 RMD.  Of course, since the CARES Act eliminated RMDs for 2020, these earlier distributions could be rolled, but the time limit for rollovers is 60 days and some distributions were already past the 60-day time limit.  Also, taxpayers can only do one rollover every 12 months.  For the past few months, the tax professional community has questioned whether or not these early RMDs could be rolled over beyond the 60th day AND whether more than one rollover could take place, such as when a taxpayer was spreading the RMD into monthly payments and had already received multiple monthly payments
.

Now IRS issued Notice 2020-51, on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, and answered these questions.  Briefly this 10-page Notice (plus a 2-page Appendix) states:

1) A taxpayer who took an RMD in 2020 can roll over the RMD to avoid paying taxes on the distribution as long as the rollover takes place no later than the LATER of:  a) the normal 60-day rollover period, or b) August 31, 2020.

2) If a taxpayer took multiple payments in 2020 as part of the RMD, the taxpayer can roll over the total RMD amount as long as the rollover takes place no later than the LATER of:  a) the normal 60-day rollover period, or b) August 31, 2020.

3) Such a rollover will not be treated as a rollover for purposes of the “one rollover per 12-month period” limitation found in §408(d)(3)(B).

4) This rollover option does NOT apply to distributions from a defined benefit plan.

5) This rollover option does NOT apply to any distributions above and beyond the RMD amount for the year.  (We interpret this Notice to say all distributions taken in 2020 are considered to be the RMD first.  For example, a taxpayer who has an RMD for 2020 of $6,000 chooses to take a total of $18,000 in distributions at the rate of $1,500 per month.  The first $6,000 of distributions will be considered RMD distributions and eligible for rollover and the remaining $12,000 are NOT eligible for this rollover treatment although some or all of this remaining $12,000 can be rolled but is subject to the “one rollover per 12-month period” limitation.)

6) This rollover option (and waiver of taking RMDs) does NOT apply to distributions that are part of a series of substantially equal periodic payments designed to avoid the 10% early distribution penalty.  These distributions must still be taken or the taxpayer will face the 10% early distribution penalty for breaking the stream of payments.  (This makes sense since these substantially equal period payments are not RMDs and the CARES Act change did not address a stopping of these payments.)

 

The Notice also has 12 Q&As to address other issues related to retirement plans and the CARES Act.

You can find this Notice by going to irs.gov/pub/, clicking on irs-drop, and then on n-2020-51.


 


6 Tips When Starting A Small Business

If you’ve thought about opening your own business, this could be a great time especially if you are looking to start a home-based one. With so much information out there, choosing what ideas to follow can be confusing and overwhelming. Here are a few tips I found to be helpful. And while there's no way to guarantee success, of course, following these tips is a great way for you to get started and help your business grow.

 

1. Put a plan in place. Having a business plan that takes into account as many factors as possible helps ensure that you won't start a business that's doomed from the beginning. Business plans should account for many factors, including products, people, the marketplace, the competition and finances. When you put that all in one place, you'll see what your business needs to be successful and how you're able to meet those needs. You can also see weak areas that you might not have thought about. Be honest with yourself when creating the business plan. Check out Bplans for lots of examples and a wizard that will help you get started.

2. Know your banker. You want to establish a relationship with a banker, before you ever have to ask for a loan for your small business. When you start an account, don't just set it up with the clerk at the front counter. Ask to meet the loan officer and chat about your business, along with any services the bank might offer that could help you.

3. If you work from home, do it right. The ability to work from home is often a great way for small business owners getting started, because it allows them to spend precious capital on only what's absolutely necessary for the business. If you decide to work from home either to get started or indefinitely, try to set aside a room for a home office, and decorate it appropriately. Get into a routine of waking up, getting ready for work, just like if you worked in an office building. If you need a conference room or a business mailing address, you are usually able to rent those as needed.

4. Watch your cash flow. Cash flow is the lifeblood of any company. While the goal of a business is to make a profit, it can survive for some time without profit, but a lack of cash flow is deadly. Using financial software or just a spreadsheet, create a 12 month cash flow projection so you're able to take pre-emptive measures and avoid problems when necessary.

5. Tap your resources. Being a small business owner is daunting, but you don't have to go it alone. Anybody starting a small business should join the local chamber of commerce, rotary club or networking group. It is a great way to give back to the community while also meeting other business owners and taking advantage of services offered by them. Also consider joining a local or national industry organization in your field to network and get advice on regulartory, legal and other issues.

6. Know when to grow. While you want to grow your business, keep in mind that growth comes with bigger inventory and expense. Don't put your business in jeopardy. Watch carefully how you spend your capital.

 


How to Secure a PPP Loan for Your Business

Last week, Congress replenished the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fund with another $310 billion. The PPP, a lifeline to small businesses struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic, is attractive to many small business owners because of its low-interest, forgivable loans. One of the most attractive features of this loan is that all or at least a portion of the loan will be forgiven if borrowers follow certain rules after receiving the loan. If you or your business still could use a loan, here is what to do to qualify.
 

Steps to Securing a PPP Loan 

1. Get grounded in your numbers

Calculate and document these dates and numbers today, to identify the parameters you will have to work within for loan forgiveness.

  • Your eight-week period (covered period) — The eight-week period in which businesses must use loan proceeds for allowable uses starts as soon as the business receives the loan. Know your start date and calculate your end date. This is the covered period for which you’ll need to provide documentation of your allowable uses.

  • Your full-time equivalent headcount — The SBA will reduce the loan forgiveness by the proportion in which the FTE headcount during the covered period is less than a comparable pre-COVID-19 period. Your FTE headcount in the covered period is the average monthly FTEs employed during the eight-week period, subject to adjustment for the re-hire provisions noted below.

    Your pre-COVID-19 FTE headcount is either the average monthly FTEs from February 15, 2019, through June 30, 2019, or the average monthly FTEs from January 1, 2020, through February 29, 2020. You can choose which pre-COVID-19 period to use, so calculate the headcount for each period and select the lower of the two to help minimize any reduction in the forgiveness amount.
  • Individual employee salary or wages — The loan forgiveness amount could also be reduced if salary or wages in the covered period are less than 75% of a pre-COVID-19 quarter. The covered period is the eight-week period following the loan origination, while the pre-COVID-19 period is the most recent full quarter before the covered period (most likely, Q1 2020 or Q4 2019). We are still awaiting guidance on how to equalize the eight-week period to a quarter’s 12-week period.

  • Re-hire dates — The loan forgiveness calculations disregard FTE or salary reductions that occurred between February 15, 2020, and April 26, 2020, as long as the employer has eliminated the reduction in FTEs and/or salary by June 30, 2020.

2. Get organized and document your expenses

Knowing the numbers above is only half the battle. Applying for forgiveness with your lender will require strict documentation to prove your numbers and how you used the proceeds.

Maintain the following documentation throughout your covered eight-week period to assist in your application process:

  • Payroll tax filings reported to the IRS;
  • Payroll summary reports reflecting FTE headcount numbers and individual salary and wages over the eight-week period (use this to compare to numbers you calculated for the prior period);
  • State income, payroll, and unemployment insurance filings; and
  • Payment receipts, canceled checks, bank statements, or other documents verifying payment on covered mortgage interest, lease, or utility payments

Maintain this documentation from day one of your covered period. This is the time to insist on receipts, transparent reporting, and an organized system for document storage.

 

3. Develop strategies to impact the long-term outcomes for your business

While the spirit of the PPP is to give employers the means to keep as many employees employed as possible during the COVID-19 crisis, there may be circumstances where employers simply cannot maintain their pre-COVID-19 workforce. Employers faced with such circumstances may have difficulty spending the entire loan on allowable uses in the applicable eight-week period.

By way of example, a construction business that applied for the maximum PPP loan may be unable to keep its hourly employees working full time because many jobs have been canceled or delayed due to the outbreak. Or, in the case of restaurants, many employers have already furloughed their employees, and, while they can bring them back on their payroll to qualify for forgiveness, it may not make sense to do so for restaurants that are not running at full capacity within eight weeks. In addition, it may be difficult to get furloughed employees to come back, because some furloughed employees may actually be earning more from recently expanded unemployment benefits than they would earn if they came back to work.

In all of these situations, employers may have difficulty spending the full loan proceeds during the eight-week period and 75% of their loan amount on payroll during that time with a reduced workforce. Note that loan forgiveness is not all or nothing. If you have not met all of the requirements for loan forgiveness, a portion of the loan will be forgiven based on what you were able to spend on allowable uses in the period.

This is where different strategies can come into play. In some situations, it may be more beneficial to operate with a reduced workforce and convert a portion of the loan to a two-year, low-interest loan or immediately repay any unforgiven portion of the loan without penalty. In other situations, it may be a better strategy to push more payroll-related expenses, such as employer 401(k) contributions or bonuses, into the eight-week period to meet the 75% payroll cost threshold. Employers should think through the various available strategies to help enhance loan forgiveness, while also balancing the near-term needs of employees and long-term needs of the business.

 

Bringing it all together

During a time when so much is outside our control, understanding what you can control as it relates to the PPP loan will help prepare your business for enhancing loan forgiveness. Here’s what you can control now: calculate the dates and numbers impacting your forgiveness calculation, maintain your documentation, and model out various strategies that demonstrate 100% forgiveness versus a sliding scale of forgiveness. This model should incorporate the numbers you calculated above, along with an updated cash flow forecast. This will enable you to see what levers you can pull to impact longer-term outcomes for your business during and beyond your eight-week covered period.

Please visit the sba.gov website for more information and to get started on the loan application.

 


Retirement reforms in the CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, (CARES Act, HR 748), signed into law March 27, 2020 is a $2.2 trillion stimulus package geared towards providing relief for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it does contain provisions that change rules about retirement plans for 2020. If you are retired or near retirement, here’s what you should know about.

Temporary Waiver of RMDs

Under §401(a)(9), a retirement plan or IRA owner must take a required minimum distribution (RMD) annually once the owner reaches age 72. However, for the calendar year 2020, CARES waives the required minimum distribution rules for certain defined contribution plans. The wavier applies to all required minimum distributions that would have been required in 2020. This includes the first RMD, which individuals may have delayed from 2019 until April 1, 2020.

Example. John, who is 74 years of age, has an IRA that had a balance of $1,000,000 on Dec. 31, 2019. Using prior law, John’s RMD for 2020 is $42,017.  Currently, his IRA is worth $500,000 and he doesn’t want to sell stock inside of the IRA account to take out an “inflated” RMD amount. CARES allows John to waive his 2020 RMD.

Application. According to CARES, RMD rules do not apply in 2020 to:

  1. defined-contribution plans (§403(a) or §403(b)),
  2. defined-contribution plans that are eligible deferred compensation plans under 457(b) and maintained by an employer, or
  3. individual retirement plans (§401(a)(9)(I)(i)).

Also, the RMD rules do not apply to any distribution required to be made in 2020 because of:

  1. a required beginning date occurring in 2020, and
  2. such distribution not having been made before 2020.

Example. Jill turned 70 ½ in January 2019.  She chose to take her first RMD on April 1, 2020.  Because of CARES, Jill is not required to take an RMD, even this one, in 2020.

Tax practitioner planning. 80% of account owners drew more than their RMD before the pandemic. Clients may need to take more money from their pension accounts, not less.

Remind your clients.  They may take a distribution from their IRA or pension plan in 2020. The new law simply does not require them to take a distribution in 2020.

Waiver of 10% Penalty for Coronavirus-related Distribution

Consistent with previous disaster-related relief provisions, CARES waives the §72(t) 10% early withdrawal penalty for distributions up to $100,000 from qualified retirement accounts for coronavirus-related purposes made on or after Jan. 1, 2020 and before Dec. 31, 2020. Income attributable to such distributions is subject to tax over three years.

Repayments of Coronavirus-related Distributions. A coronavirus-related distribution may, at any time during the 3 years beginning on the day after the date such coronavirus-related distribution was received, be repaid in one or more contributions to an eligible retirement plan in which the qualified individual is a beneficiary. Such repayments will be treated as eligible trustee to trustee rollovers made within 60 days of distribution.

Coronavirus-related distribution. A coronavirus-related distribution is one made to an individual:

  1. who is diagnosed with COVID-19,
  2. whose spouse or dependent is diagnosed with COVID-19, or
  3. who experiences adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, furloughed, laid off, having work hours reduced, being unable to work due to lack of child care due to COVID-19, closing or reducing hours of a business owned or operated by the individual due to COVID-19, or other factors as determined by the Treasury

Qualified Individual. A qualified individual is any individual:

  1. diagnosed with the virus SARS-CoV-2 or with coronavirus COVID-19 by a test approved by the CDC,
  2. whose spouse or §151 defined dependent is similarly diagnosed, or
  3. experiencing adverse financial consequences as a result of being:
    • quarantined,
    • furloughed or laid off or having work hours reduced due to such virus or disease, or
    • unable to work due to lack of child care due to such virus or disease, the closing or reduction of hours in a business owned or operated by the individual due to such virus or disease.

Note. The retirement plan administrator can rely on an employee’s certification that the employee satisfies the conditions of the item (3) above.

Pension Plan Loans

The §4975(d) limit on retirement plan loans from a qualified employer plan made to qualified individuals during the 180 days beginning on March 27, 2020, is increased from $50,000 to $100,000 000 (or, if less, the individual’s nonforfeitable benefit).  If the due date of a loan occurs between March 27, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020, it will be delayed for one year.

 


A Breakdown of the CARES ACT Economic Relief Plan

On Friday the President signed the approved Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2.2 trillion dollar aid package that helps provide economic relief to the American economy due to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act builds on the two former pieces of legislation by providing more robust support to both individuals and businesses, including changes to tax policy. This massive economic aid bill will include:

  • Expanded unemployment insurance (UI) for workers, including a $600 per week increase in benefits for up to four months and federal funding of UI benefits provided to those not usually eligible for UI, such as the self-employed, independent contractors, and those with limited work history. The federal government will provide temporary full funding of the first week of regular unemployment for states with no waiting period and extend UI benefits for an additional 13 weeks through December 31, 2020, after state UI benefits end.
  • $350 billion allocated for the Paycheck Protection Program, which is meant to help small businesses (fewer than 500 employees) impacted by the pandemic and economic downturn to make payroll and cover other expenses from February 15 to June 30. Notably, small businesses may take out loans up to $10 million—limited to a formula tied to payroll costs—and can cover employees making up to $100,000 per year.
  • Recovery Rebate for individual taxpayers. The bill would provide a $1,200 refundable tax credit for individuals ($2,400 for joint taxpayers). Additionally, taxpayers with children will receive a flat $500 for each child. That means a family of four earning less than $150,000 can expect $3,400. Individuals making more than$99,000 and couples filing jointly making more than $198,000 would not qualify. Rebate payments are based on either your 2018 or 2019 tax filings, and would not be counted as taxable income for recipients, as the rebate is a credit against tax liability and is refundable for taxpayers with no tax liability to offset.
  • Other Individual Tax Benefits include:
    •  a $300 partial above-the-line charitable contribution for filers taking the standard deduction and expands the limit on charitable contributions for itemizers.
    • Waives the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty on retirement account distributions for taxpayers facing virus-related challenges. Withdrawn amounts are taxable over three years, but taxpayers can recontribute the withdrawn funds into their retirement accounts for three years without affecting retirement account caps. Eligible retirement accounts include individual retirement accounts (IRAs), 401Ks and other qualified trusts, certain deferred compensation plans, and qualified annuities. The bill also waives required minimum distribution rules for certain retirement plans in the calendar year 2020.
    • Certain employer payments of student loans on behalf of employees are excluded from taxable income. Employers may contribute up to $5,250 annually toward student loans, and the payments would be excluded from an employee’s income.
  • Business Tax Provisions include:
    • Employers are eligible for a 50 percent refundable payroll tax credit on wages paid up to $10,000 during the crisis. It would be available to employers whose businesses were disrupted due to virus-related shutdowns and firms experiencing a decrease in gross receipts of 50 percent or more when compared to the same quarter last year. The credit is available for employees retained but not currently working due to the crisis for firms with more than 100 employees, and for all employee wages for firms with 100 or fewer employees.
    • Forgivable loans: There is $350 billion allocated for the Small Business Administration to provide loans of up to $10 million per business. Any portion of that loan used to maintain payroll, keep workers on the books or pay for rent, mortgage, and existing debt could be forgiven, provided workers stay employed through the end of June.
    • Relief for existing loans: There is $17 billion to cover six months of payments for small businesses already using SBA loans
    • Employer-side Social Security payroll tax payments may be delayed until January 1, 2021, with 50 percent owed on December 31, 2021, and the other half owed on December 31, 2022. The Social Security Trust Fund will be backfilled by general revenue in the interim period.
    • Firms may take net operating losses (NOLs) earned in 2018, 2019, or 2020 and carry back those losses five years. The NOL limit of 80 percent of taxable income is also suspended, so firms may use NOLs they have to fully offset their taxable income.
    • Firms with tax credit carryforwards and previous alternative minimum tax (AMT) liability can claim larger refundable tax credits than they otherwise could.
    • The net interest deduction limitation, which currently limits businesses’ ability to deduct interest paid on their tax returns to 30 percent of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), has been expanded to 50 percent of EBITDA for 2019 and 2020. This will help businesses increase liquidity if they have debt or must take on more debt during the crisis.
    • Aviation excise taxes are suspended until January 1, 2021. We estimate this will reduce federal revenue by about $8 billion in 2020.
  • $454 billion in emergency lending to businesses, states, and cities through the U.S. Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund. Additionally, this includes $25 billion in lending for airlines, $4 billion in lending for air cargo firms, and $17 billion in lending for firms deemed critical to U.S. national security. Firms taking loans must not engage in stock buybacks for the duration of the loan plus one year and must retain at least 90 percent of its employment level as of March 24, 2020. Loans also come with terms limiting employee compensation and severance pay for firms taking loans. Emergency lending will be overseen by a Congressional Oversight Commission and a Special Inspector General.
  • Health provisions to address the coronavirus crisis, including provisions addressing supply shortages, coverage of diagnostic testing for the virus, support for health-care providers, improving telehealth service access and flexibility, encouragement for the creation of drugs to treat the virus, strengthening related Medicare and Medicaid provisions, and providing support for educational institutions.
  • $150 billion in a Coronavirus Relief Fund for state and city government expenditures incurred due to dealing with the coronavirus public health emergency. The fund would be allocated by population proportions, with a minimum of $1.25 billion for each state.

 


IRS Extends Filing and Payment Deadline to July 15, 2020

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are providing special tax filing and payment relief to individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak. The filing deadline for tax returns has been extended from April 15 to July 15, 2020. The IRS urges taxpayers who are owed a refund to file as quickly as possible. For those who can't file by the July 15, 2020 deadline, the IRS reminds individual taxpayers that everyone is eligible to request an extension to file their return.

 

This filing and payment relief includes:

The 2019 income tax filing and payment deadlines for all taxpayers who file and pay their Federal income taxes on April 15, 2020, are automatically extended until July 15, 2020. This relief applies to all individual returns, trusts, and corporations. This relief is automatic, taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or call the IRS to qualify.

This relief also includes estimated tax payments for tax year 2020 that are due on April 15, 2020.

Penalties and interest will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of July 16, 2020. You will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the taxes paid by July 15.

Individual taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the July 15 deadline can request a filing extension by filing Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software or using the Free File link on IRS.gov. Businesses who need additional time must file Form 7004.

 

State tax returns

This relief only applies to federal income returns and tax (including tax on self-employment income) payments otherwise due April 15, 2020, not state tax payments or deposits or payments of any other type of federal tax. Taxpayers also will need to file income tax returns in 42 states plus the District of Columbia. State filing and payment deadlines vary and are not always the same as the federal filing deadline. The IRS urges taxpayers to check with their state tax agencies for those details. More information is available at https://www.taxadmin.org/state-tax-agencies.

 


12 Important Things To Know About Social Security

1. SOCIAL SECURITY IS NOT GOING BANKRUPT
Social Security trust funds are near an all-time high. The Trust Fund Reserves are worth about $2.89 trillion today. As more boomers retire, the ratio of workers to Social Security recipients is changing. The program will need to dip into its reserves to pay full benefits from now on. It is now forecast that the trust fund reserves could be exhausted in 2034. Social Security still won’t be bankrupt. The program will then pay benefits at a rate of 79 percent of what recipients expected to receive. The goal is to keep benefits at their current level.

2. CONGRESS PROBABLY WILL NOT TAKE UP SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM ANYTIME SOON
Control of Congress after the 2018 elections will play a key role in how Social Security’s funding is addressed. Since Social Security is so important, we need to be really thoughtful and deliberate about how to make change. Bipartisan support will be required for Congress to make any effort to reform Social Security.

3. SOME IDEAS TO REFORM FUNDING ARE STARTING UP
One proposal is to either raise or eliminate the wage cap on how much income is subject to the Social Security payroll tax. The cap for 2019 is $132,900. Other options are either raising the percentage rate of the payroll tax or raising the age for full retirement benefits.

4. LAWMAKERS DO NOT RAID THE TRUST FUND
Money remaining after benefits are paid is invested directly into U.S. Treasury securities. The government can use the money from those securities, but it has to pay the money back with interest.


5. MANY BELIEVE IT CAN BE RUN BETTER
With the rapid increase in the number of retirees, the agency is struggling to keep up. Over 10,000 people are turning 65 every day. Average wait times at field offices has increased 32% since 2010. Something needs to be done.

 

6. YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS CAN BE TAXED
Single filers whose combined annual income exceeds $34,000 might pay income tax on up to 85% of their Social Security benefits; couples filing jointly may pay tax on up to 85% if their combined income tops $44,000.

 

7. SOCIAL SECURITY IS NOT MEANT TO BE A RETIREE’S SOLE SOURCE OF INCOME
The SSA says the program’s retirement benefits will replace about 40 percent of your preretirement wages. Fifty percent say their families depend on Social Security for at least half of their income. Twenty-six percent have families trying to live on almost all of their retirement income.

 

8. THE PURCHASING POWER OF SOCIAL SECURITY IS DIMINISHING
Every year, the SSA issues a cost of living adjustment (COLA) to keep up with inflation. Medical costs for older Americans has increased faster than the COLA has adjusted. This is another area that needs to be addressed.

 

9. YOU CAN WORK AND GET SOCIAL SECURITY
The agency will withhold some of your benefit if you are under the full retirement age and your earned wages exceed a certain limit. In 2019, the threshold on your earnings will be $17,640. The government will temporarily withhold $1 from your benefit for every $2 earned over the cap. Once you reach full retirement age, you can work as much as you like and your benefits won’t be reduced.


10. SOCIAL SECURIY HAS GONE DIGITAL
The U.S. Treasury Department no longer sends paper checks in favor of electronic payments. The SSA has an online portal called My Social Security where you can track your benefits.

 

11. SOCIAL SECURITY IS NOT JUST A RETIREMENT PROGRAM
There are 4 main types of Social Security benefits: retirement, disability, dependent and survivor. When filing for benefits, you should make sure to ask about your eligibility for other benefits. If someone in your family dies, you should inform SSA of th death and ask if you or other family members are now eligible for additional survivor or dependent benefits.

 

12. MOST PEOPLE GET BACK MORE THAN THEY PUT IN
Generally, married couples are more likely to get back more than they contributed than single people. Both low-income and high-income people may receive more dollars from the program over a lifetime than the amount of money they contributed it.

 



TAX Questions? We've got answers

Here are a few answers some common questions many clients tend to ask. Please contact us for any additional tax questions or concerns.

Q: Can I deduct investment fees I pay this year?
A: No. The schedule A write-off for these costs, IRA custodial fees paid directly by the account owner, and the rest of the popular miscellaneous deductions subject to the 2%-of-AGI threshold are now gone.


Q: My employer paid for my cross-country move. Is the amount taxable to me?
A: Generally, yes. It used to be that when you relocate for a new job, you could deduct moving costs, or if your employer reimbursed you, the payment was tax-free. Well, not anymore, except for active-duty military personnel who move pursuant to military orders.


Q: Is the new opportunity zone program up and running yet?
A: In part. This program, which is included in the new tax law, lets taxpayer defer capital gains from the sale or exchange of business or personal property, including stocks, by investing the proceeds in opportunity funds to help low-income communities. Those who opt to take advantage of this break have 180 days from the date of the sale to invest all or part of the gain proceeds in a so-called qualified opportunity fund.


Q: I inherited real estate from my father in September. If I sell it, will I owe any income tax?
A: Under the current tax rules, you benefit from a step up in basis. The basis for computing a taxable gain or loss from the sale is the value of property on date of death, not original purchase price. Your taxable gain will be limited to the difference between the sale price and the stepped up basis of the property.


Q: Our bookkeeper stole almost $1,000 from our petty cash. Can we deduct the loss?
A: Yes. The 2017 federal Tax Cut and Jobs act did suspend deductions for personal losses but doesn’t touch the losses suffered by a business. Keep police records in case the IRS ever challenges the theft deduction

 


Fiscal Fitness For the year 2021

Financial planning experts counsel that the new year is an excellent time to do certain key things in evaluating ones investment portfolio.

 

10 Key Things To Do Now:

1.   Check that you have the right stock-bond mix.

2.   Cut back your investments  to a manageable  number.

3.   Make sure you are saving enough.

4.   Increase the size of your emergency  reserve.

5.   Look into boosting the returns on your cash holdings.

6.   Make the most of tax-favored savings plans.

7.   See whether it's worth paying down your mortgage.

8.   Monitor that your stock portfolio is well diversified.

9.   Get a handle on your annual investment costs.

10.  Determine if your tax bracket justifies owning municipal bonds.

 


2019 Tax Reform : a few important tax changes you need to know

We hope that 2018 has been a happy and prosperous year for you. As you probably know the President has signed the biggest tax reform law in over 30 years. Your tax return will look very different when you file your 2019 taxes. There will be Tax Rate changes, Standard Deduction increases, disappearing Deductions, and some new benefits for individuals. Here are some of the changes you need to know about :

• Tax return due dates change for Partnership and C Corporations.
• Due date for 2018 returns is April 15th.
• Tax refund fraud and identity theft are an increasing problem. Ignore phone calls that say they
are from the IRS. The IRS never calls. A letter stating you owe money and says to write a
check to the IRS is another scam. Checks always go to U.S. Treasury.
• If you sold any property, be sure to provide copies of escrow statements, loan estimate form
and closing disclosure form.
• 1099's or K-1's from investments in 2018 may require us to extend your returns. There are
increasing numbers of corrected information returns creating amendments and penalty problems.
• Annual Gift Tax Exclusion increases to $15,000 in 2018.
• IRC Sec.179 max is $1,000,000 in 2018.

You can find a complete list of 2019 Tax Rates here. Please feel free to contact me at (702) 998-0224 if you have any questions or need additional information. Network Tax Solutions "Helping You Keep More of the Money You Make!

Financially yours,
Esta Klatzkin, EA
Founder

 


5 Things To Do To Have A Solid Financial Groundwork By Age 30

1. Make a budget to track your income and expenses.

2. Begin a Retirement Account.

3. Have Savings for an emergency (rainy day account).

4. Have Zero Credit Card Debt.

5. Designate Beneficiaries for all your accounts including Life Insurance.

 


Eight Signs That It's Time to Get a New Tax Professional

Now is a good time to think about your relationship with your tax professional and make sure that it is a good fit. To help you decide, here are 8 signs that it might be time to get a new tax professional.


1. She's never prepared. It is unrealistic to expect that your tax professional has your file at the ready every time you call. But, part of the appeal of using the same tax professional over time is that your tax professional knows your financial story. If you're constantly having to remind her about the specifics of your situation, it may be a sign that the relationship is one-sided. A basic understanding of your financial picture and your goals is desirable. If she can't be bothered to familiarize herself with that information before a meeting or call, consider finding someone who will.

2. He doesn't have a PTIN. Anyone who prepares or assists in preparing federal tax returns for compensation must have a valid PTIN before preparing returns. The best way to ensure that your preparer has a PTIN is to ask. You can also search the IRS online PTIN directory.

3. She pressures you to be too aggressive. Part of being a good tax professional involves being proactive and suggesting how to improve your life as a taxpayer. But it always means being honest and doing what is legally correct.

4. He doesn't know the rules. You shouldn't realistically expect your tax professional to be able to cite IRS Regs on command or quote from an IRS Pub. Your tax professional should be familiar with the basics. If your tax professional is constantly struggling to answer your questions or can't seem to interpret correspondence from IRS, then find someone who is willing to do their homework. Credentialed tax professionals like Enrolled Agents and Certified Public Accountants are required to take extra tax courses throughout the year to stay on top of an ever-changing and expanding Tax Code. If your tax professional doesn't seem to know much beyond data entry, it might be time to switch.

5. She doesn't return phone calls or e-mail. I'm a firm believer that regular communication is important. Demanding immediate service is going overboard. But your tax professional should be able to respond within a reasonable amount of time. If you find yourself waiting days for that return phone call, consider finding someone who will respond to you in a more timely fashion.

6. He doesn't play well with others. Your tax professional is not an island. He should be part of a team (investment advisor, insurance broker, attorney, etc.) that you can trust to carry out a plan from start to finish. There are questions that may require that your tax professional interact with others on your team. If he seems reluctant, it may be time to ask some difficult questions.

7. She can't explain why the cost of services is always changing. Costs do go up. It's not unfair or unlikely that the cost of preparing your return or other tax related services might increase from time to time. If prices are often volatile, it's time to ask questions. Prices that constantly spike and fall without warning might be an indication that there is some financial stress inside the office. Always get your pricing schedule in writing and if your tax professional isn't willing to talk cost with you, time to move on.

8. He's under indictment. It happens. Trust me. An indictment isn't the same as a conviction. It's simply a formal charge. If you have any concerns about your tax professional's ability to do his job honestly, run far, far away.

 


Do you have a job or a career?

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

Most people have jobs.  They faithfully go to work each morning, do their best to execute their duties, come home tired, and look forward to weekends and vacations. They do this to make ends meet, hoping something better will come along.  And better things do come now and then, along with setbacks.  But the drudgery continues.  Week in. Week out.  Forty years pass.  Life has been half miserable.  But it’s time for retirement.

Retirement means getting out of job jail. No more hated work.  It’s now time for relaxation and fun. 
Just kidding! As it turns out, retirement today is this:  After giving up a fairly well-paid full-time job, you take on several poorly paid part-time jobs (without benefits) to pay for your ever-increasing retirement expenses. But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

You can spare yourself the misery by ditching the job early on and replacing it with a career. What’s the difference?  A career is a life’s vocation. You work a job to make money. You work a career to build something you value.  With a job, you are always thinking about the time you won’t be working.  With a career, you are always thinking about it even when you aren’t working. 

The reason for this is a matter of focus.  A job looks inward: “I do this to make money for myself.”  A career looks outward:  “I am building  something  that others can appreciate or use.” The litmus test for determining whether you have a job or a career is this question:  If you could afford to, would you do it for free? You shouldn’t work for money.  You should work on having a career.

If you don’t like your work but are doing it because you have to support  yourself and/or a family, start working on a Plan B.  Plan B is titled: “Doing Something I Care About.” Measured in mundane, day-to-day terms, having a career can be challenging since you are constantly focused on the work, and the work sometimes does not go as well as you might want.  But even when the work is frustrating, it involves you in a way that is somehow satisfying.  And when the work goes well, there’s nothing like it.

If you have a job now, can you transform it into a career?  Well, it may depend on what you are doing. 
So that is the first and main thing.  But there are requirements for your work to be a career:

  • The work should be challenging.  It should require the best of you – your intelligence, your intuition, your stamina, and your care.  Ideally, it should require both knowledge and skill and thus give you the opportunity to learn and improve forever.
  • It should produce things or provide services that are enjoyable and/or useful to other people.  This adds a social component to the experience.
  • It should be accretive.  That is, the value of the goods or services you produce should increase as your career continues.

Not everyone can make a career out of his or her job.  An architect certainly could. Instead of designing commercial crap for the highest bidder, she could gradually develop her own style, one that she likes and that would serve people, and she could produce work over her lifetime that would endure for generations.

Think about it.  Start creating your Plan B.  Satisfaction comes from doing something you care about.  And if you can make money for 40 years doing something you care about and creating something that has value to others – you have a career! 

 


Made a mistake or overpaid? Amend your Tax Return

You must file an amended return (Form 1040X) if there has been a change in your filing status, income, tax deductions, or tax credits reported on your original return. There are other reasons for amending a return as well. For example, you may not have had complete information at the time you filed. Or, you may have been unaware that a certain item was taxable and then you received a reporting document indicating otherwise.

The procedure for filing an amended return is relatively straightforward. Note that you can only file an amended return after you’ve filed your original return. Additionally, you cannot e-file an amended return — you will have to mail it in. To begin, you will need IRS Form 1040X (Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return).

Form 1040X contains 3 columns. In Column A, you’ll need to provide the amounts you entered on the original tax return. In Column C, you must provide the corrected figures. In Column B, enter the “net change” from Column A to Column C, which is the difference between the two amounts. On the second page of the form, you must explain each change, taking care to make the information as complete as you can (so the IRS can process your amended return as quickly as possible).

Did you pay too much on last year's tax reutrn? Now that you filed last year's tax return, we can look it over at no charge. If we find that we can help you save more money, we will! Absolutely no obligation. Give us a call today! 702.998.0224

 


Hugging is Good Medicine

What does hugging do?

It transfers energy and gives the person hugged an emotional lift.

You need four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance, and twelve for growth. Scientists say that hugging is a form of communication because it can say things you don't have the words for. And the nicest thing about a hug is that you usually can't give one without getting one.

Hugging is healthy. It helps the body's immune system. It cures depression. It reduces stress. It's rejuvenating. It has no unpleasant side effects. It is God's miracle drug! It is all natural, it contains no chemicals, artificial ingredients, no pesticides, and no preservatives!

Hugging is practically perfect. There are no parts to break down, no monthly payments, non-taxable, non-polluting, and of course - fully returnable!

 


I Need a Clever Tax Pro

I need a clever tax pro
One with a nimble mind
Someone who thinks like I do
Who'll cover my behind

My pro must understand me
And never cause a fuss
My details may be fuzzy
But she'll curb the urge to cuss

We won't count Mom's deposit
Coming from the SSA
For five years I've enjoyed it
Ever since she passed away

It turns up just like clockwork
I just can't make it stop
A plea to call it off
Would cause a needless income drop

My home's a custom call site
For an extra little gig
My nifty IRS badge
Helps legitimize the jig

My pug is my true business
I therefore write him off
He's lavished with deductibles
At which most pros would scoff

My tax pro won't be bothered 
To check out what I say
She'll get me every credit
And make my tax go ‘way

She'll prove she's indispensable
And worth her weight in salt
But when we go to Tax Court
I'll say it's all her fault

 


Top 12 Tax Return Preparation Errors

  1. Number of transposition  and spelling errors.  This includes Social Security  numbers, addresses, etc.

  2. Unreported  1099 income.

  3. Tax payments. Client must provide proof.  Incorrect amounts  is a major cause of tax notices.

  4. Keeping review notes after the return is completed.  This can create liability issues.

  5. Not correcting  reason for tax notices for prior year on this year's return.

  6. Not questioning numbers that stretch the imagination.

  7. Not following up enough with clients to get missing information.

  8. Not specifically asking clients if they have, can sign or control a foreign bank account.

  9. Not telling clients about items that aren't  on return, such as IRA 's, flex spending, charitable contributions with appreciated stock, etc.

  10. High mortgage interest deductions.  This is a red flag for the IRS.

  11. Alternative minimum  tax. Watch for unapplied AMT credits and NOL 's and state tax refunds reported as income though not deducted in prior years because of AMT.

  12. Not calling a client to give them unexpected final results.



The Top 10 Most Endangered Jobs in America

We knew it was happening: Automation is changing the way America works. Here are 10 jobs that could see big changes as a result.

Based on the job search platform CareerCast's new report of the 10 jobs with the worst growth outlook between now and 2024 found U.S. postal worker are the most endangered. Like many of the other positions on the list, automation is mostly to blame. But the bots can't shoulder all the blame for lost jobs in America; market preferences and cost-efficient outsourcing are just as responsible. While automated sorting and delivery has undoubtedly taken a toll on the career trajectory of mail carriers, whose jobs the report says will decline 28 percent by 2024 to become the most endangered job in America, the biggest culprit is email, text messaging, and social media. The low-cost platforms have become preferred ways to stay in touch for many. And that grim job outlook for jewelers and seamstresses? It's partially due to the cost saving benefits of outsourcing these roles.

Here's the full list of the top 10 endangered jobs in America, in order of expected decline in job growth outlook by 2024:

  1. Mail Carrier

  2. Typist/Word Processor

  3. Meter Reader

  4. Disc Jockey

  5. Jeweler

  6. Insurance Underwriter

  7. Seamstress/Tailor

  8. Broadcaster

  9. Newspaper Reporter

  10. Computer Programmer

-Originally published in Inc.com

 


5 Highest Property Tax Cities

Bridgeport,  CT     


3.88%

Detroit, MI

 

3.81%

Aurora, IL    

 

2.68%

Newark, NJ 

 

.2.68%

Milwaukee,  WI

 

2.68%

 

 

5 Lowest Property Tax Cities

Boston, MA


.67%

Birmingham, AL

 

.66%

Denver, CO

 

.66%

Cheyenne,  WY

 

.65%

Honolulu, HI

 

.30%

 

 


Why You Should Never Do Your Own Taxes

Never do your own taxes. The U.S. tax system is overly complicated. Until that gets reformed, don’t do your own taxes. You might save a few hundred bucks by using TurboTax instead of hiring an accountant but you will lose thousands in the long run. As you start to make more money, get married, buy a home, invest in stocks, run other businesses and so on, your taxes will continue to get more complicated. The bad news is that there will be lots more paperwork. The good news is that there will be a lot more loopholes that you can use to your advantage. Not only will you save time and avoid audits by using a CPA, you will essentially be increasing your annual income. So, is a CPA telling you it's going to cost $500 to do your taxes? Trust me…smile and pay them.

-Len Kendall "Get ready to retire at 50…Not because you want to but because you'll have to."

 


BEST & WORST PLACES TO RETIRE

15 Worst places to retire

  1.  Washington, DC            9.  Utah   
  2.  California                     10.  Texas 
  3.  New Mexico                11.  Illinois 
  4.  New York                   12.  Montana
  5.  Minnesota                    13.  Maryland
  6.  North Carolina             14.  Massachusetts                
  7.  Nebraska                     15.  Indiana

 

10 Best places to retire

  1.  Delaware                     6.  Arizona       
  2.  Florida                         7.  Hawaii
  3.  West Virginia               8.  Iowa
  4.  Pennsylvania                9.  Kansas
  5.  South Dakota              10.  Wyoming

-Kiplinger

 


BEST & WORST STATES FOR TAXES

 

1. Wyoming
2. Alaska
3. South Dakota
4. Texas
5. Louisiana
6. Tennessee
7. New Hampshire
8. Nevada
9. South Carolina
10. Alabama
11. Mississippi
12. Oklahoma
13. Minnesota
14. New Mexico
15. North Dakota
16. Georgia
17. Arizona
18. Missouri
19. Colorado
20. Florida
21. Virginia
22. Iowa
23. Utah
24. Washington
25. Kansas

26.  Nebraska
27.  Idaho
28.  Kentucky
29.  Indiana
30.  Michigan
31.  Hawaii
32.  West Virginia
33.  Ohio
34.  North Carolina
35.  Oregon
36.  Delaware
37.  Maine
38.  Illinois
39.  Arkansas
40.  Massachusetts
41.  Pennsylvania
42.  Vermont
43.  Rhode Island
44.  Maryland
45.  Minnesota
46.  Wisconsin
47.  California
48.  Connecticut
49.  New Jersey
50.  New York


-Forbes

 


Five Financial Lessons For Your Children

One of the greatest lessons you can pass on to your children is teaching them how to budget,
save, and spend wisely. Some basic money value concepts are:

1. Money isn't free -you have to earn it
The saying, "Money doesn't grow on trees" means that we have to find ways to earn
money in order to be able to spend money. Helping children understand the value of
work can be one of the most important lessons they will learn.


2. Take money seriously
Money is something that should be handled carefully. Teach your kids to be wise about
their purchases. The value of their hard earned dollars should be appreciated.


3. Saving money builds a better future
It is easy for young people to get excited about having money and coming up with ways
to spend it. _It's important to demonstrate how saving for a particular goal can result in a
big payoff. Help your kids find a specific spending .goal and encourage them to set aside
money to meet that goal, like saving for college.


4. Don' t spend what you don't have
Since credit is easily obtained, help your children understand how to live within a budget.
Discuss when it may be acceptable to take on debt, such as making payments on a car.
Teach them how to calculate payments that are well within their grasp, so that your kids
can remain in control of their debt in the future.


5. Time is on your side
As you begin to talk to your children about investing, emphasize the biggest financial
advantage they have - time. The sooner they can begin setting money aside for a larger
goal, the more their money can work for them. Discuss the benefits of saving on a
regular basis.


These points can help your children set a solid foundation for their financial future. Keep in
mind that one of the best ways to make financial lessons stick is to live by them yourself.

 


Get Your Financial House In Order

Tips for each month that can help you reduce fees, lower the cost of insurance and thwart identity theft.


January
File your taxes ASAP. The earlier you file your taxes, the less likely a thief will beat you to the punch, claiming a refund using your stolen Social Security number.

February
Prep for bigger payments. If you are among the millions who took out a home equity line of
credit before the housing bust, your monthly payment could soon jump by hundreds of dollars.
These loans usually allow interest-only payments for the first 10 years, then require borrowers
to begin repaying principal too.

March
Convert to a Roth. Consider taking advantage of falling stock prices to transfer some shares
from a traditional IRA into a tax-friendly Roth IRA. You'll pay ordinary income tax on the value of the shares transferred. Once in the Roth, those shares will recover and future gains won't be taxable.

April
Fund a Health Savings Account. More employers offer a high-deductible health plan combined
with this savings account. You have until April 15 to contribute for 2019. Individuals can invest
$3,500 pretax and $7,00 for families- plus another $1,000 if age 55 and up. Monies from this account can be withdrawn tax-free to pay medical expenses. Money used for non-medical expenses will be taxed and if under age 65 will be charged a 20% penalty.

May
Build an emergency fund. You should know about setting aside 3 to 6 months' worth of living expenses to pay for unexpected expenses. One out of five people ages 50 to 64 raided their retirement savings last year to pay for an emergency. Those withdrawals can trigger taxes as well as penalties. Build that "rainy day account" today.

June
Check those fees. How much of the money in your 401K, and IRAs is being eaten up by fees?
Most people thought they didn't pay anything. If you don't know how much you are paying, you are probably paying too much! Get that information now by checking FeeX.com, a free service.

July
Fix your credit card. Most cards have a variable interest rate. If you carry a balance, look for a low fixed-rate card which can save you money as well as hedge against future rate hikes by the
Federal Reserve.

August
Crunch your net worth. This simple yet critical check-up should be done every year to show you
where you stand financially. Add up all your assets, and then subtract your liabilities. This is
your net worth. You can use an online calculator at Bankrate.com to help determine your net
worth. If your net worth keeps dropping year after year, do something to control your spending.
See your financial advisor, CPA or Enrolled Agent to assist you.

September
Shop for insurance. Insurance premiums should be reviewed annually. If you become
complacent, some insurance companies will set premiums using "price optimization," charging
as much as 25% more if they think you are not shopping coverage elsewhere.

October
Open enrollment. Buying health insurance through a state-sponsored exchange starts Oct. 15
and runs through Dec.7. You MUST have insurance either from your employer, an exchange or
be self-insured. The penalty for not being insured is steep, and rising annually. The flat dollar penalty will be adjusted annually for inflation.

November
Break up with your bank. Is your bank taking you for granted? Paying nothing on savings and
charging you for checking? Maybe it is time to switch! There may be better alternatives. Free
checking is available at credit unions, online banks and small community banks. Many online
banks pay more than 1% on savings requiring no minimum deposits. Search for federally
insured online banks at Bankrate.com.

December
Sell those gift cards. About one quarter of people who receive a gift card have yet to spend it
after one year. Don't let cards go to waste. If you are not going to use them, sell the cards for a
discount at GiftCards.com, GiftCardRescue.com or MonsterGiftCard.com.

 


Should your Small Business Create a Blog?

As a small business owner trying to keep shelves stocked, employees paid, and customers satisfied, why should you create a web log or "blog"? What if you've already got a website? What blogging pitfalls should you avoid? And, most importantly, what will a blog cost in terms of time and dollars?

  • The benefits of blogging Like a personal journal that's posted to the Internet, a blog is simply a place for sharing ideas about your business. Easier to update than a website, a blog offers an inexpensive way to talk directly to customers via text, audio, or video. With a blog you don't have to learn web design or hire someone to create web pages. Timely feedback from your readers can provide ideas for targeting products and services to address specific customer needs — like standing at the service counter and chatting with regular patrons. Blogging sites such as typepad.com and blogger.com are good places to visit for software tools and ideas.
  • Drawbacks Don't expect more from a blog than it can reasonably produce. A blog is not a substitute for a website. A blog, for example, generally won't provide the functionality to allow online purchasing, and its contribution to your bottom line may be difficult to measure. Like a magazine article, a blog is primarily a place to communicate ideas.
  • Pitfalls If you're publishing a blog for general consumption, it should be well-written. Grammatical errors, poor punctuation, spelling mistakes — these can damage your business reputation, causing readers to question the quality of your products and services. Don't use a blog as a forum for in-your-face sales. Its purpose is to inform, to build relationships, to connect. And don't leave it static. Vary your blog's content routinely by adding links to helpful resources, video interviews, and podcasts.
  • Costs Besides minimal subscription expense for a business blogging site, time will be your biggest expenditure. By allocating the task of blog updates among several employees — with final edits by a good writer — you can ensure that content stays fresh, readers remain engaged, and a single employee isn't saddled with blogging duty. You might start by updating posts every other week, increasing your frequency later.

Like any new product or promotion, a business blog probably won't generate revenue right away. So be patient and find a format that works well for your company.

 


The Tax System Explained in Beer

Suppose that once a week, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to £100.If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this..

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay £1.
The sixth would pay £3.
The seventh would pay £7.
The eighth would pay £12.
The ninth would pay £18.
And the tenth man (the richest) would pay £59.
So, that ' s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every week and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until, one day, the owner caused them a little problem. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your weekly beer by £20.” Drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free but what about the other six men? The paying customers? How could they divide the £20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share? They realized that £20 divided by six is £3.33 but if they subtracted that from everybody's share then not only would the first four men still be drinking for free but the fifth and sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fairer to reduce each man's bill by a higher percentage. They decided to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.

And so, the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (a100% saving).
The sixth man now paid £2 instead of £3 (a 33% saving).
The seventh man now paid £5 instead of £7 (a 28% saving).
The eighth man now paid £9 instead of £12 (a 25% saving).
The ninth man now paid £14 instead of £18 (a 22% saving).
And the tenth man now paid £49 instead of £59 (a 16% saving).
Each of the last six was better off than before with the first four continuing to drink for free.

But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got £1 out of the £20 saving," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got £10!"
"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a £1 too. It's unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!"
"That's true!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get £10 back, when I only got £2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"
"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "we didn't get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!" The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next week the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important - they didn't have enough money between all of them to pay for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works. The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy and they just might not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

 

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics.
For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible




Esta Klatzkin, EA
Network Tax Solutions
"Helping You Keep More of the Money You Make"

 

 

Top

 

Recent Article Posts
Click link below to jump to past articles

 

Tax Tips Sign Up
Fill out the information below to receive tax news, tips, and alerts