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Posted on Friday, July 31, 2020
We use the term “Tax Planning” often, but we are aware that many people are not sure what it really is.  Some people think “That means off shore accounts and citizenship shell games ending with jail time.  No thank you!”.  That is not tax planning, that’s tax evasion, and it’s not at all what we recommend.  Others think only the wealthy need a tax planner, and for regular folks it can mean paying a 30 year mortgage off 12 years early or having a college fund with enough in it to actually pay for college.  Tax planning is not just for the wealthy, though.  It can be a useful tool for anyone who is aware of the opportunities. Our tax...

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Posted on Friday, July 24, 2020
It’s human nature, of course.  We complain about our weight in the line at the ice-cream stand.  We complain about being tired, then stay up late playing the latest game on our smart devices. Humans are funny and contradictory animals. Have you ever noticed that when you’re in a conversation, people are quick to complain about their taxes?  Many people who complain about their tax bill are actually paying very little compared to most folks.  However, some people pay a lot of unintended or surprise taxes.  An example we see a great deal are self-employed folks.  They will tell us “I pay too much in federal or state income taxes”, but on review of their 1040, they actually paid no...

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Posted on Friday, July 17, 2020
Summer is a popular time for people planning a move to put their home on the market.  It happens all year long of course, but the “hot season” is May-September.  There are many reasons.  School is out and if you have kids of that age it’s easier to change schools between grades.  Often, it’s when summer vacation schedules come around and except for tourism many industries slow down and moving done well takes at least a week and two weekends.  It’s easier to move without snow, so for some of the country that’s also a factor.  There’s are many more reasons, but Summer is when a “wave” takes place.  It’s hard work, stressful and a pain in the neck (and other...

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Posted on Friday, July 10, 2020
For the self-employed, home office deductions can be connected to the Schedule C that they include on their 1040, which reports income and expenses for the business.  The home office deduction can be taken with two different calculation options.  One is more complex to calculate and one simplified option is based only on the square footage of the room or area they work from.  This group is not really affected by the Trump tax code changes.  Before those tax code changes, W-2 employees who worked from home also had access to a similar deduction.  Along with other expenses, such as work boots or uniforms purchased by the employee and not reimbursed by the employer, and others, and subject to a...

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Posted on Wednesday, July 01, 2020
It’s July but the big fireworks are a victim of COVID-19. Although true, small local and personal fireworks will likely be everywhere as people adapt. That fireworks habit is ingrained in us so the fun will find a way. Another behavior or habit that’s ingrained into people is spending more time on “staycation” vacation plans than time spent fixing next year’s tax problem when now is the time to take your preventative medicine and avoid the pain! In being humans, we all form habits. Some are good, most are bad. We try to develop good ones to replace the bad and often we are successful. However, most successes don’t come without a coach, cheerleader, or some kind of support system. Tax...

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Posted on Friday, June 26, 2020
Often people will have one-time “Income Events” and so planning and especially the tax aspects are the motivation. In these cases, you can consider setting up a Charitable Lead Trust (CLT) in order to receive an upfront income tax deduction. A person who has significant and unusual taxable income in a particular year can establish the grantor lead trust and use the charitable income tax deduction to mitigate the impact of taxes in his or her situation. An example might be someone who has received the proceeds from selling a business, or a stock option at work is coming due. A far more common and likely example is someone who has inherited an IRA. These situations will trigger an unusually...

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Posted on Monday, June 15, 2020
A Donor Advised Fund or “DAF” is defined as “an account at a sponsoring organization, generally a public charity, where an individual can make a charitable gift to enjoy an immediate tax benefit and retain advisory privileges to disburse charitable gifts over time.”  But what does that mean in practical terms?   You can set up a “DAF” through a financial adviser or directly with some charities, and like giving to a charity itself, simply deduct that gift on Schedule A of your 1040 tax return.  However, many people under the new tax code no longer file a Schedule A.  Many people give to charities every year, and report those donations to the accountants.  However, since the new standard deduction...

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Posted on Friday, June 05, 2020
Charitable planning has always allowed some great tax benefits for clients with tax trapped assets, and the second benefit, the charitable deduction.  What’s a tax trapped asset? Why is the charitable deduction the second benefit and not the first?  What are the one-time 2020 rules?  Well, that’s the point.  Most people don’t understand why these trusts are so often the “go to tool” for so many tax planners.  They have many often misunderstood benefits and aren’t really primarily about benefitting the charity at all, but the donor in most designs.  Over the next few weeks we will discuss the Charitable Planning Toolbox, starting next week with Donor Advised Funds, and will continue to explore more about these great partnerships between...

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Posted on Friday, May 29, 2020
The people who have filed and paid too much tax again this year, as they did last year, almost always make themselves a promise that they “will do better from now on.”  They will keep better records; maintain a mileage log.  They will learn more about work options and increase their 401(k) or 403(b).  They will start a hobby job, or purchase a rental property and on and on.  Then Summer comes and it all fades into the background as the beach, golf course or woods call to them.  Family starts getting together, concerts are abound and all of a sudden it’s Fall.  Then work picks up and kids are back to school or off to an out of state...

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Posted on Friday, May 22, 2020
That’s what you often hear from a sneaker manufacturer or a car company to create a feeling of scarcity for a product in order to drive desire or cost up.  This is not a typical tactic of the IRS.  COVID-19 and the reaction to it has created a path of human misery, but like cutting up broccoli and stirring it into your kids’ mac and cheese, there are some hidden benefits for a few people unlucky enough to have had the virus, but fortunate enough to have recovered.  One such benefit is the ability to take up to $100,000 from a 401(k) or other retirement account without penality and without full taxation in one year, as would normally be the...

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