January 1, 2023

The IRS Versus the Taxpayer

According to the IRS, not only is your ignorance no excuse, but so is that of your tax preparer. In other words, the fact that your tax preparer made a mistake is no excuse and will not absolve you from compliance penalties. Unfortunately, the penalty for making what could be deemed an innocent mistake can cost a taxpayer a significant sum. What is worse yet is that defending yourself against the IRS is a costly endeavor in terms of both time and money. Part of the problem is that taxpayers often do not have the option of making an appeal directly to the tax court and, instead, must first pay the IRS and then challenge it in either District Court […]
December 1, 2022

The 2022 Tax Guide

Now is the time of year to do everything you can to minimize taxes and maximize your financial health with proper year-end planning. In this article, we’ll look at several actions to consider taking before the end of 2022. Thoughtfully Harvest Losses and Gains Before Year-End Tax loss harvesting by selling securities at a loss to offset capital gains is a classic year-end planning strategy. Just make sure not to violate the wash sale rules. This means you can’t buy back the same security or a substantially identical one within 30 days of the sale. Reinvest Capital Gains into Opportunity Zones Another way to offset capital gains is to reinvest those gains into a qualified opportunity fund (QOF). To be […]
November 1, 2022

Tax Planning Guide for Disaster Area Victims

The recent hurricane Ian impacted much of the southeast United States. As a result, it is good to know the general tax rules related to disaster victims. Below, we look at several tax topics for disaster area victims. 1. Tax Returns and Filings Q: I am a disaster area victim and needed to move from my home. I might not be back for a long time or even at all. Which address should I use on my tax return? A: A taxpayer should always use their current address in filing a tax return. In the situation where you move after filing your return, you need to update your address with the IRS. You can do this either by filing form […]
October 1, 2022

How to Increase After-Tax Returns on Investments

It is all about how much you keep after taxes – not what you earn from your job, a business or investments. While it is always great to see fabulous investment gains, the only financial metric that really matters is what is in your bank account at the end of the day. One of the ways you can influence this is by minimizing the taxes you pay on your investments. Unfortunately, many people do not think about how taxes impact their investment returns until near the end of the year; however, you should act all year round. Taking part in investment tax planning throughout the year will give you opportunities to keep more of what you earn. Here are some […]
September 1, 2022

Electric Vehicle Tax Credits and the Future of the Automotive Industry

One highlight of the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA; HR 5376) includes modifications to what is more commonly referred to as EV credits. Specifically, Section 30D of the Act is where the most important modifications are, and where the present tax credit for electric vehicles is spelled out in the U.S. Code. There is also new stimulus for previously owned electric vehicles, industrial vehicles and “alternative fuel refueling property.” According to the Joint Committee on Taxation’s estimates, in lieu of what was previously known as the credit for plug-in electric vehicles, there is now a new clean vehicle credit. It is expected to be worth $7.5 billion over the next decade. Other noteworthy tax credits include $1.7 […]
August 1, 2022

Expanding the Net Investment Income Tax

Despite borrowing massive amounts of money, the government still needs to find ways to raise revenue to pay for new programs and spending. The current democratically controlled Congress is looking to potentially implement new social programs and a climate bill. As a way of funding these initiatives, they are considering an expansion of the Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT). The NIIT is proposed to raise revenue since it is seen as politically more palatable, given that it typically only impacts a small group of wealthier taxpayers. Critics, however, say the plan in its current form would also hurt small family businesses. Who Pays NIIT Now? Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the NIIT applied a 3.8 percent tax on investment […]
July 1, 2022

The IRS is Auditing Fewer Returns than Ever

One of the perennial fears of taxpayers is getting audited by the IRS. Financially, few scenarios strike such fear into the heart of taxpayers. However, taxpayers can probably breathe a sigh of relief – at least for now. This is because the rate at which the IRS is initiating audits of individual taxpayers is dropping like a stone. Decline in Audit Rates The rate at which the IRS is auditing individual taxpayers has declined overall between the years of 2010 and 2019 (2020 data is too new and 2021 returns are still being filed through the extension period). According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), nearly 1 percent of all taxpayers were audited in 2010 compared to only 0.25 percent […]
June 1, 2022

Tax Break for Commercial Real Estate Investors

COVID-19 impacted the economy dramatically and commercial real estate was no exception in terms of decreased values. Often, the real property could no longer service the debt used to finance it. This debt restructuring and resulting debt forgiveness can result in taxable income. Taxable Income and Debt Cancellation If you have a $80,000 loan and the bank reduced the amount you owe down to $50,000, then you have an economic benefit of $30,000, which should be treated as taxable income. This is indeed how cancellation of debt is treated, but there are exceptions such as in the case of bankruptcy or insolvency. There is another unique scenario that applies only to commercial real estate. Assuming that the taxpayer is not […]
May 1, 2022

Secure 2.0 Retirement Bill

At the very end of March, the House of Representatives passed a version of the bill known as Secure 2.0. The bill passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support in a 414-5 vote. The House version still needs to pass in the Senate, where there are differing ideas on exactly what the bill should contain. There is strong support, so it is less of a question of if Secure 2.0 will become law than what exact version. The Secure 2.0 bill in any version aims to help Americans save for retirement through a variety of mechanisms and changes in tax law. Here are some highlights of what the bill hopes to accomplish and how. We’ll also note differences between the […]
April 1, 2022

What Every Taxpayer Needs to Know This Season

The IRS is currently suffering a severe backlog in processing returns from 2021 for the 2020 tax year. As of Dec. 31, there were still more than 6 million unprocessed individual returns with notices and pending refunds. There are a few things every taxpayer should know that can help them navigate any delays in filing or speeding up the process to make filing this year as smooth as possible. Pass on the Paper Nothing speeds up the process like electronic filing. Despite the uptick in electronic filing over recent years, the agency is still buried in paper, receiving almost 17 million paper filings last year. When filing electronically, there’s a good chance you’ll see your refund within 21 days of […]
March 1, 2022

Taxation of Legal Settlements and Fees

The taxation of legal settlements and fees is a complex topic. While the mechanics to make a proper claim are now easier, the rules are still complex. Below we look at six rules to consider when it comes to the taxation of legal settlements and the deduction of legal fees on your taxes. Taxes depend on the origin of the claim; or in plain English, according to why you are seeking recovery. For example, in a case where the plaintiff is suing another business for losing profits, the settlement would be considered lost profits, and therefore would be ordinary business income. If a worker sues for unlawful termination, then the settlement would be considered wages and taxed accordingly. Another example […]
February 1, 2022

2022 U.S. Tax Legislation Forecast

No one knows for sure what 2022 will bring in the form of tax legislation, but there is certain to be some action. Top tax analysts think there are several topics that are likely to come up in 2022. Most predict that a lot of potential changes that were discussed but never made much traction in 2021 will be revisited. Rolling Back Corporate Tax Rates Back in 2017, then-President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts (TCJA) reduced corporate tax rates. While a bid raise them again failed in 2021, many believe there is a good chance that Democrats will try again in 2022. Most believe a 2022 proposal would try to raise the current 21 percent corporate tax bracket up […]
January 1, 2022

The Risks of Using Self-Directed IRAs

Self-directed IRAs (SDIRAs) are becoming more and more popular as IRA holders look to enter alternative investments. While SDIRAs can open up a world of investment options, the rules around them are complicated and compliance can be tricky. Below, we’ll look at a couple of relevant court cases that illustrate some of the potential pitfalls. Self-Directed Equals Higher Fees A SDIRA can own an investment in pretty much any type of asset except life insurance or collectibles. The downside to accessing investments beyond stocks, mutual funds, ETFs and bonds is that it is more expensive. The SDIRA custodian usually charges an annual fee as well as per transaction fees. The assets also need to be valued at the end of […]
December 1, 2021

Year-End Tax Planning Tips for Individuals and Businesses

Here we are again, nearing the end of another year. While the tax deadline for 2021 isn’t until April 2022, now is the time to plan and make some strategic moves to optimize your tax situation. Below we’ll look at some tax planning ideas for both small businesses and individuals. Business Tax Planning Business owners should consider a few potential planning areas. Below we’ll look at a handful of relevant topics. Section 163(j) Interest Expense Limitation Businesses can deduct interest expenses, subject to a limit at 30 percent of adjusted taxable income (ATI). The calculation for determining ATI is changing in 2022, so some planning might be in order. Currently, ATI is calculated as taxable income with depreciation and amortization […]
November 1, 2021

Potential New Tax on Stock Buybacks and What it Could Mean for the Financial Markets

President Biden’s latest spending bill could result in a new tax on corporate stock buybacks. In its most recent incarnation, the Senate version of the plan includes a 2 percent excise tax on stock buybacks. Still, this isn’t enough for many critics of stock buybacks, who claim they incentivize short-term behavior in lieu of long-term investment. Short-Term Incentives Stock buyback programs have long been criticized for giving a short-term boost to share prices with funds that could have been used for long-term investment instead. Critics, including the current president, believe stock buybacks come at the expense of capital investment in new or updated factories, research, worker training, etc. These critics believe this type of long-term investment is the key to […]
October 1, 2021

New Proposed Tax Laws

The House recently released a nearly 900-page proposed bill that would make major changes to current tax laws. The bill is intended in large part to help pay for both the Biden Administration’s budget and infrastructure stimulus bill. It’s important to keep in mind that the provisions and changes outlined below are by no means settled. Changes can (and likely will) still be made as the Senate ratifies the bill; however, the remainder of this article should give readers a good idea of the most significant provisions. Income Tax Rates are Rising The increase in the top income tax rate is probably the most talked about proposed change in the bill, bringing it up from 37 percent to 39.6 percent. […]
September 1, 2021

Tax Breaks for Helping Relatives

It’s not uncommon for adult children or siblings to act as caregivers for family members or give them financial assistance for medical or long-term care needs. The problem is that all too often those providing the help don’t take advantage of the tax benefits. Types of Care Caregiving happens through many different avenues. For example, family members might pay for services that their elderly parents need, such as housekeeping, meal preparation, or nursing care. Outside the home, they may pay for all or a portion of the cost of an assisted living facility. In other circumstances, individuals could directly provide the care instead of paying for it. This could happen in either the home of the person giving the care […]
August 1, 2021

How to Turn a Summer Job into a Tax-Free Retirement Nest Egg and More

Tis the season for summer jobs for high school and college kids. These seasonal jobs are more than just an opportunity for teens and college students to earn some money and gain experience. They also provide the opportunity for seeding a significant retirement nest egg and even a down payment on a home through a Roth IRA. Seems too good to be true? Well, it’s not – but as always, the devil’s in the details, and it is not exactly a free lunch. So, let’s walk through exactly how this all works. Step 1 – Earned Income First, teen or college students must get a job that pays – and the more the better. This is because the gateway to […]
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 […]
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