July 1, 2021

Restricted Stock & RSUs: 3 Planning Tips

Equity compensation is becoming more mainstream and is not just for executives anymore. Grants of restricted stock or restricted stock units (RSUs) are getting to be more common than stock options – and the rules are different, as is the tax planning. Below we will look at some of the particulars of how restricted stock and RSUs operate, how to understand a grant, planning for the tax consequences, and what to do after the shares vest. How Restricted Stock and RSUs Work At their core, restricted stock and RSU company shares that vest according to a schedule can be awarded as compensation. The vesting schedule can be tied to length of employment, meeting certain performance criteria, or a combination of […]
June 1, 2021

The Biggest Winners and Losers in President Biden’s Proposed Individual Tax Plan

President Biden presented his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which focuses on expanding benefits for education, children and childcare. The Biden administration intends to pay for the plan with a series of tax hikes on certain individual taxpayers. Depending on your income and source of wealth, there are some clear winners and losers of this proposal, so let’s look at each and start with those who lose. Losers Under the Plan High Earners: The proposed plan would increase the highest individual tax rate from 37 percent up to 39.6 percent. Currently, this tax bracket starts with those earning more than $523,000 for singles and $628,000 for taxpayers who are married filing jointly. While the percentage increase may appear small, this […]
May 1, 2021

Everything There is to Know About the New Child Tax Credit

The Child Tax Credit as we know it originated during the Clinton administration, but the recently enacted American Rescue Plan created a new version. The updated version of this tax credit could have a beneficial impact on Americans struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic. There are changes to many aspects of the credit, so let’s look at each one below. Monthly Payments Versus Once-a-Year Credit First, the new version of the Child Tax Credit applies only to the year 2021. If a family qualifies, the credits are $3,600 for each child under age 6 and $3,000 for those ages 6 to 17. The major difference is not the limits, but that in 2021 half of the credit will be paid on […]
April 1, 2021

Tax-Free Student Loan Forgiveness is Part of the Latest Covid-19 Relief Bill

The recently passed American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 includes a provision making nearly all student loan forgiveness tax-free, at least temporarily. Before the ARP, student loan forgiveness was tax-free only under special programs. Before we look at the changes to come under the ARP, let’s look back at what the previous law provided. The Old Rules Under the earlier measure, student loan forgiveness was tax-free under certain circumstances. These special programs included working in certain public sectors, some types of teachers as well as some programs for nurses, doctors, veterinarians, etc. Essentially, you had to work in a specific field under certain conditions for a minimum length of time and some or all your student loans would be […]
March 1, 2021

Four Essential Questions You Should Ask Your Tax Professional This Season Related to COVID-19

Good tax professionals ask the right questions to ensure they understand your situation and can help you to the best extent the law allows. Given the host of pandemic-related tax changes for 2020, it’s good to keep these four questions below in mind. If your tax preparer doesn’t ask these questions in your tax organizer or during a meeting, raise them yourself. 1. Did you receive your stimulus payment? Not everyone received all the stimulus they were entitled to. As a result, the amount of your stimulus payments needs to be reconciled on your 2020 tax return to calculate if you qualify for the Recovery Rebate Credit. The way the Recovery Rebate Credit works is that if you qualified for […]
February 1, 2021

New Year-End Tax Provisions

In late December, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which in addition to providing COVID-19 relief provisions also included many tax provisions and extenders. The Act contained many COVID-related tax provisions, as well as a slew of extenders ranging from one year to permanent. This article will focus on the miscellaneous tax and disaster relief provisions, which are more applicable to most taxpayers. Miscellaneous Provisions Charitable Contributions – For tax years 2020-2022, non-itemizers can deduct $300 in charitable contributions ($600 for married couples filing jointly). Full Business Meals Deduction – Typically, business meals are only 50 percent deductible; however, the new tax law provides for a 100 percent deduction for restaurant meal expenses incurred in 2021 and 2022. Low-Income Housing […]
January 1, 2021

Paying the Price for Vice: The Evolving Landscape of Excise Taxes in America

While excise or vice taxes have long been a part of the American tax landscape related to alcohol and cigarettes, the recent invention of vaping and legalization of marijuana and other substances is changing the landscape. What Are Excise Taxes? Excise taxes are taxes on specific types of consumable products such as alcohol or tobacco for one of two reasons. First, as vice taxes in order to raise revenue to cover the costs related to consumption; and second, to deter consumption itself. Unlike other types of consumption taxes such as sales tax, these are specific to certain products. Do They Change Behavior? Theoretically, when you increase the price of a product such as alcohol through the addition of excise taxes, […]
January 1, 2020

2020 Tax Brackets, Deductions, Plus More

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has new annual inflation adjustments for tax rates, brackets, deductions and retirement contribution limits. Note, the amounts below do not impact the tax filing you make in 2020 for the tax year 2019. These amounts apply to your 2020 taxes that you will file in 2021. 2020 Tax Rates and 2020 Tax Brackets Below are the new 2020 tables for personal income tax rates. There are separate tables each for individuals, married filing jointly couples and surviving spouses, heads of household and married filing separate; all with seven tax brackets for 2020. Tax Brackets & Rates – Individuals Taxable Income Between Tax Due $0 – $9,875 10% $9,876 – $40,125 $988 […]
December 1, 2019

How to Defer, Avoid Paying Capital Gains Tax on Stock Sales

The markets are hitting all-time highs, so if you are thinking of selling stocks now or in the near future, there is a good chance that you will have capital gains on the sale. If you’ve held the stocks for more than a year, then they will qualify for the more favorable long-term capital gains tax (instead of being taxed at ordinary income rates for short-term sales). But the total tax due can still be enough to warrant some tax planning. Luckily, the tax laws provide for several ways to defer or even completely avoid paying taxes on your securities sales. 1. Using Tax Losses Utilizing losses is the least attractive of all the options in this article since you […]
November 1, 2019

Tax Changes 2019

With the start of the fourth quarter of 2019 underway, it’s time to see what the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will expect of filers for their 2019 taxes. The following are a list of major changes that filers need to be aware of: 1. Removal of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Individual Mandate Penalty With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), filers and households who failed to carry adequate health insurance according to the ACA’s minimum coverage requirements will no longer have to pay the penalty on their 2019 taxes. This is because the TCJA lowered the penalty to zero dollars permanently. In previous years, households not meeting ACA health insurance requirements were mandated to pay […]
October 1, 2019

How to Get the IRS to Pre-Approve Your Taxes

It might seem odd, but it is possible to get the IRS to give you a straight-forward and binding answer to ambiguous tax positions in advance. How does this happen, you ask? The answer is through an IRS private letter ruling. IRS private letter rulings provide many benefits, but they are not easy to obtain. There are costs, potential delays, and even then, you run the risk of not being granted a ruling. This dynamic might seem odd as the entire point of applying for a private letter ruling is to obtain certainty. If your position is weak from a tax law perspective, the government could refuse to rule on it. Alternatively, if the position you are seeking is obviously […]
September 1, 2019

The Five Key IRS Rules of Taxation for Lawsuit Settlements

Coming out on the winning side of a lawsuit as a plaintiff can be a gratifying feeling, especially if there is a financial settlement involved. There is likely a sense of both relief and vindication. Unfortunately, far too often people are in for a shock when they realize that they must pay taxes on the award. You can even be taxed on your attorney fees! However, a little tax planning can go a long way, especially if you do it before the settlement is finalized and the award is substantial. Below are the five key rules to know so you can make the right move. The Origin of the Claim Largely Determines the Tax ConsequencesThe taxation of legal settlements is […]
August 1, 2019

3 Big Tax Issues to Look Out for in Your Estate Plan

There are three big tax issues that can derail an otherwise well-executed estate plan. These include Family Limited Partnerships, Revocable Trust Swap Powers and Trust Situs. Below we explore the pitfalls with each issue. Fixing FLPs Family Limited Partnerships (FLP) are often created to hold investments or business assets in order to leverage a valuation discount, exert control and provide asset protection. First, to understand the valuation discount, take the example in which an FLP owned a family business valued at $10 million. A straight 25 percent interest in this business would therefore be worth $2.5 million. However, due to valuation discounts for a non-controlling interest that would not be readily available for sale or able to control liquidation, the […]
July 1, 2019

Why Some People Are Afraid of the Hobby Loss Rules

Many tax advisors are very cautious when it comes to claiming hobby losses – and some would argue overly so. This conservative view stems from the impression that the taxpayer usually loses when challenged by the IRS. While technically true that the odds aren’t in your favor of winning a challenge, the overall risk often works out in the taxpayer’s favor over the long run. Below we’ll look at why tax advisors should start from the assumption of taking the losses. Always a Loser Taxpayers usually lose hobby loss cases. Typically, the odds are around 3-to-1 in favor of the IRS. So, on the surface it seems like the smart bet is to assume you’ll lose, but there are reasons […]
June 1, 2019

When Saving for Retirement in Taxable Account Is a Good Idea

Most people associate saving for retirement with tax deferred or non-taxable accounts: 401(k)s, 403(b)s, Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, etc. The tax benefits of these types of retirement accounts give individuals advantages over simply investing in a regular taxable brokerage account.   Savings for retirement in a standard taxable account can also have its place – and the option shouldn’t be ignored. In this article, we’ll look at a handful of reasons why doing so might just be the best option. Your employer doesn’t offer 401(k), 403(b) or similar type plan Some employers, especially very small ones, don’t offer retirement plan options to their employees due to the cost or administrative burden. Others have restrictions on participation, such as waiting periods […]
May 1, 2019

HSA Accounts and Their Incredible Long-term Benefits

Pretty much everyone has heard about 401(k) plans, but beyond these – Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) also can be great retirement vehicles. HSAs are tax-advantaged savings accounts for those with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). The idea is that since those with HDHPs generally have lower premiums but higher out-of-pocket expenses, they need a way to save for such expenses. Few eligible taxpayers take full advantage of HSAs. The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimated a few years ago that out of the approximately 17 million people eligible, only about 13.8 million opened HSA accounts, leaving almost 20 percent without one. The survey also revealed that very few people maximize their contributions – and nearly everyone takes current distributions, leaving balances far […]
April 1, 2019

Trump Tax Law Makes Now the Perfect Time for the Roth Conversion Retirement Trick

Converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA takes some fortitude and faith in the future numbers because this change can accelerate your tax bill. The current market and tax rate cuts from President Trump’s plan, however, are creating an environment ripe for conversions and making the move much more palatable. Together, these two factors are essentially creating new groups of taxpayers for whom a conversion makes good sense. IRA Basics Revisited Contributing to a traditional IRA gets you a tax deduction now, at the time of your contribution and allows your money to grow tax free. You’ll also need to begin withdrawing your annual required minimum distributions (RMDs) once you hit age 70½, with whatever you take out taxed […]
March 1, 2019

Winners and Losers of the Tax Bill

In 2018 when President Trump and the Republican Congress rewrote the tax code, everyone knew there would be winners and losers. Exactly how this will play out is just starting to be seen – it closes loopholes while opening others and takes away some perks while creating new ones. Let’s see who the winners and losers really are by looking at the results of the tax law now and over time. Winners and Losers Will Change Over Time Almost all taxpayers get some type of tax cut; for example, the Tax Policy Center estimates that only about five percent of families will face an increased tax obligation in 2019. This sounds great! Initially, measured as a percentage of their total […]
February 1, 2019

When Is A Loan Not A Loan?

With the sweeping new tax legislation in 2018 capturing everyone’s attention, other changes have taken a back seat. There were several Tax Court cases in 2018 that rendered important decisions impacting how things work – one of which was Povolny Group, Inc. v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2018-37. The Povolny Group decision centers on a common issue where an individual uses his corporation like a personal pocketbook, transferring money in and out without any formality. Facts of the Case James Povolny joined his spouses’ company (LLC) as a minority owner. Later in 2002, he went out and started his own real-estate brokerage firm, the Povolny Group (PG), as a 100 percent owner. At one point, PG won the bid to build a […]
January 1, 2019

Divorce Can Be Taxing

Divorce is expensive. Aside from the emotional toll divorce takes on a family, both the process and aftermath of a divorce can be costly. Below we look at some of the steps people can take to help remove the tax sting out of an already challenging time and arrive at the best financial position. Changes to Alimony We ring in the new year with changes to alimony tax law. Prior to Jan. 1, 2019, alimony payments were deductible by the spouse who paid them and taxable to the spouse receiving them. Typically, this provided an overall benefit to the family unit as the alimony recipient, generally being the lower earner, paid a lower tax rate. Often referred to as the […]
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