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Posted on Friday, October 18, 2019
Ask anyone if they “pay too much income tax” and the knee jerk reaction is almost always, “Yes!” and without much hesitation.  Why do we call that a knee jerk reaction?  Because if you then follow the question up with two more questions, “What did you pay in federal tax last year? And/or what bracket are you in?” they almost as quickly say, “I don’t remember, or I’m not sure”.  Or they might guess at a bracket percentage, but usually not correctly.  I’ve even had people profess the pain of paying too much in tax only to discover that not only did they get back all of their withholdings, but were given tax credit refunds of money they did not...

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Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2019
In a few months the U. S. will begin filing tax returns again, and at tax firms all over the country people will be making the “E-Trade” Shocked Baby Face (remember him?) when they see they are being charged penalties and interest for under paying their taxes due. Even if they made a 941 payment in the last quarter to cover ALL the tax due for the year, they can still find themselves fined by Uncle Sam as a penalty for not paying equally over the four quarters of the year. A last quarter over payment simply means they underpaid for three quarters and overpaid for one quarter, and no, it’s not “good enough” for the IRS. People also argue...

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Posted on Friday, October 04, 2019
We are nearing the October 15th filing deadline, so all the crying is almost over 2018 tax return submissions.   We blogged throughout the summer on various topics, but now you’re down to a few weeks to effectively do 90% of what can be done to affect your 2019 tax liability.  Only a few things can be done in 2020, once you realize how big the bill actually is.  If you’re an individual making less than top wages, you can open and fund IRAs after January 1st, 2020, that can reduce your 2019 tax bill.  Other than that, there’s little that can be done once the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.  You have until then to get your act together, figure out where your tax...

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Posted on Monday, September 30, 2019
Some do it often, while others hold on all year for that one great week and live day by day until that magical start date on the calendar!  A new wave in our digital age is to only take three or four day weekends, but do it more often.  However you “vacation”, they do have one common thread, and that is that they are not free.  Furthermore, when you are officially vacationing (which becomes a mindset as well….”I am officially on vacation as of right now!”) you spend more freely, often with a disregard for cost shopping. “I’m stopping at Starbucks for the mocha frappe latte, not Dunkin, cause I’m on vacation!”. What if next vacation you could upgrade to...

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Posted on Friday, September 13, 2019
All around the country, there are people in an absolute panic because the real tax deadline for personal tax return extension filers is approaching and they are running out of time.  A few blogs ago, we talked about how to possibly deal with not being ready for the corporate deadline on September 15th .  We don’t have an amusing anecdote for the October 15th deadline like we did for the corporate deadline.  The deadline is the deadline. The exception would be for those who have been affected by flooding or other natural disasters and may be given an extended deadline by the IRS.  Those people may now have until December 31st to file, but would need to check the IRS website to see if they are in an affected area...

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Posted on Friday, September 06, 2019
If you have an S Corp based business then you are just a few days from your filing deadline.  You can’t extend the extension, so what if you’re still just not able to file?  What do you do?  Technically, you should be ready to file, so you’ll get no sympathy from Uncle Sam unless you fall under very rare special circumstances.  In a nationally declared disaster area, deployed in the military under certain special circumstances and a few other super rare groups.  Chances are very high that you don’t get more time, so what to do?  The penalty for not filing is substantial.  However, the penalty for making an error and having to amend later is zero.  S Corp returns give their...

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Posted on Friday, August 30, 2019
With fall in the air, it’s time to start thinking about things that need to be done to prepare for winter.  The garden harvests are rolling in, fresh vegetables are everywhere and it’s really, really great.  Time to fill up your oil tanks before the price change, and at least know where those snow tires are in the back of the garage.  It’s also time for tax planning. There are so many things in the tax code that have time limitations.  It’s really time to check in with yourself if you want to actually participate in your bill with the IRS.  Taxes can be very much within people’s control, even though they don’t feel that way.  If you’re still out on extension, heads up — you...

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Posted on Friday, August 16, 2019
When people save for retirement they almost automatically use accounts that avoid tax now.  IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457s, all pretax retirement savings plans.  Certainly, long term savings uninterrupted by withdrawals and the effect of compounding interest on interest earned is unarguably valuable, but doing that in pretax accounts is NOT the only way to have that happen!  Non-qualified annuity and Roth IRAs allow the same mechanics of compounding to happen, and in retirement both can be as valuable depending on the circumstances and actions of the retiree.   Annuities are underappreciated as a tax planning tool, because of the way earnings are treated as ordinary income upon withdrawal.  However if annuitized at retirement (an option the advisors that distribute them...

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Posted on Friday, August 09, 2019
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 actually enough in it to pay for college.  It’s not for the wealthy, though.  Tax planning can be a useful tool for anyone is aware of the opportunities.  Our tax code is complex...

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Posted on Friday, July 26, 2019
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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