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 […]
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 […]
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