Tax Briefs

Tax Briefs


Why you should boost your 401(k) contribution rate between now and year end

One important step to both reducing taxes and saving for retirement is to contribute to a tax-advantaged retirement plan. If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, contributing to that is likely your best first step.

If you’re not already contributing the … Read More »


2017 Q4 tax calendar: Key deadlines for businesses and other employers

Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the fourth quarter of 2017. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all-inclusive, so there may be additional deadlines that apply to you. Contact us to … Read More »

September 12th

Tax Planning. No Comments


Watch out for potential tax pitfalls of donating real estate to charity

Charitable giving allows you to help an organization you care about and, in most cases, enjoy a valuable income tax deduction. If you’re considering a large gift, a noncash donation such as appreciated real estate can provide additional benefits. For … Read More »


The ABCs of the tax deduction for educator expenses

At back-to-school time, much of the focus is on the students returning to the classroom — and on their parents buying them school supplies, backpacks, clothes, etc., for the new school year. But let’s not forget about the teachers. It’s … Read More »

August 29th

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Yes, you can undo a Roth IRA conversion

Converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA can provide tax-free growth and the ability to withdraw funds tax-free in retirement. But what if you convert a traditional IRA — subject to income taxes on all earnings and deductible contributions … Read More »


Put your audit in reverse to save sales and use tax

It’s a safe bet that state tax authorities will let you know if you haven’t paid enough sales and use taxes, but what are the odds that you’ll be notified if you’ve paid too much? The chances are slim — … Read More »

August 15th

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Will Congress revive expired tax breaks?

Most of the talk about possible tax legislation this year has focused on either wide-sweeping tax reform or taxes that are part of the Affordable Care Act. But there are a few other potential tax developments for individuals to keep … Read More »


A refresher on the ACA’s tax penalty on individuals without health insurance

Now that Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal and replacement efforts appear to have collapsed, at least for the time being, it’s a good time for a refresher on the tax penalty the ACA imposes on individuals who fail to have … Read More »


3 midyear tax planning strategies for individuals

In the quest to reduce your tax bill, year end planning can only go so far. Tax-saving strategies take time to implement, so review your options now. Here are three strategies that can be more effective if you begin executing … Read More »


Three midyear tax planning strategies for business

Tax reform has been a major topic of discussion in Washington, but it’s still unclear exactly what such legislation will include and whether it will be signed into law this year. However, the last major tax legislation that was signed … Read More »


Own a vacation home? Adjusting rental vs. personal use might save taxes

Now that we’ve hit midsummer, if you own a vacation home that you both rent out and use personally, it’s a good time to review the potential tax consequences:

If you rent it out for less than 15 days: You don’t … Read More »


Summer is a good time to start your 2017 tax planning and organize your tax records

You may be tempted to forget all about taxes during summertime, when “the livin’ is easy,” as the Gershwin song goes. But if you start your tax planning now, you may avoid an unpleasant tax surprise when you file next … Read More »


2017 Q3 tax calendar: Key deadlines for businesses and other employers

Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the third quarter of 2017. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all-inclusive, so there may be additional deadlines that apply to you. Contact us to … Read More »


Pay attention to the details when selling investments

The tax consequences of the sale of an investment, as well as your net return, can be affected by a variety of factors. You’re probably focused on factors such as how much you paid for the investment vs. how much … Read More »


Donating a vehicle might not provide the tax deduction you expect

All charitable donations aren’t created equal — some provide larger deductions than others. And it isn’t necessarily just how much or even what you donate that matters. How the charity uses your donation might also affect your deduction.

Take vehicle donations, … Read More »


Business owners: When it comes to IRS audits, be prepared

If you recently filed your 2016 income tax return (rather than filing for an extension) you may now be wondering whether it’s likely that your business could be audited by the IRS based on your filing. Here’s what every business … Read More »


Real estate investor vs. professional: Why it matters

Income and losses from investment real estate or rental property are passive by definition — unless you’re a real estate professional. Why does this matter? Passive income may be subject to the 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT), and passive … Read More »


Operating across state lines presents tax risks — or possibly rewards

It’s a smaller business world after all. With the ease and popularity of e-commerce, as well as the incredible efficiency of many supply chains, companies of all sorts are finding it easier than ever to widen their markets. Doing so … Read More »


Turning next year’s tax refund into cash in your pocket now

Each year, millions of taxpayers claim an income tax refund. To be sure, receiving a payment from the IRS for a few thousand dollars can be a pleasant influx of cash. But it means you were essentially giving the government … Read More »


Do you know the tax implications of your C corp.’s buy-sell agreement?

Private companies with more than one owner should have a buy-sell agreement to spell out how ownership shares will change hands should an owner depart. For businesses structured as C corporations, the agreements also have significant tax implications that are … Read More »


Individual tax calendar: Key deadlines for the remainder of 2017

While April 15 (April 18 this year) is the main tax deadline on most individual taxpayers’ minds, there are others through the rest of the year that are important to be aware of. To help you make sure you don’t … Read More »


A timely postmark on your tax return may not be enough to avoid late-filing penalties

Because of a weekend and a Washington, D.C., holiday, the 2016 tax return filing deadline for individual taxpayers is Tuesday, April 18. The IRS considers a paper return that’s due April 18 to be timely filed if it’s postmarked by … Read More »


Saving tax with home-related deductions and exclusions

Currently, home ownership comes with many tax-saving opportunities. Consider both deductions and exclusions when you’re filing your 2016 return and tax planning for 2017:

Property tax deduction. Property tax is generally fully deductible — unless you’re subject to the alternative minimum … Read More »


2017 Q2 tax calendar: Key deadlines for businesses and other employers

Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the second quarter of 2017. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all-inclusive, so there may be additional deadlines that apply to you. Contact us to … Read More »


Who can — and who should — take the American Opportunity credit?

If you have a child in college, you may be eligible to claim the American Opportunity credit on your 2016 income tax return. If, however, your income is too high, you won’t qualify for the credit — but your child … Read More »


2016 IRA contributions — it’s not too late!

Yes, there’s still time to make 2016 contributions to your IRA. The deadline for such contributions is April 18, 2017. If the contribution is deductible, it will lower your 2016 tax bill. But even if it isn’t, making a 2016 … Read More »


When an elderly parent might qualify as your dependent

It’s not uncommon for adult children to help support their aging parents. If you’re in this position, you might qualify for the adult-dependent exemption. It allows eligible taxpayers to deduct up to $4,050 for each adult dependent claimed on their … Read More »


Tangible property safe harbors help maximize deductions

If last year your business made repairs to tangible property, such as buildings, machinery, equipment or vehicles, you may be eligible for a valuable deduction on your 2016 income tax return. But you must make sure they were truly “repairs,” … Read More »

February 28th

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Deduct all of the mileage you’re entitled to — but not more

Rather than keeping track of the actual cost of operating a vehicle, employees and self-employed taxpayers can use a standard mileage rate to compute their deduction related to using a vehicle for business. But you might also be able to … Read More »

February 21st

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Do you need to file a 2016 gift tax return by April 18?

Last year you may have made significant gifts to your children, grandchildren or other heirs as part of your estate planning strategy. Or perhaps you just wanted to provide loved ones with some helpful financial support. Regardless of the reason … Read More »

February 14th

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What you need to know about the tax treatment of ISOs

Incentive stock options allow you to buy company stock in the future at a fixed price equal to or greater than the stock’s fair market value on the grant date. If the stock appreciates, you can buy shares at a … Read More »

February 7th

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The investment interest expense deduction: Less beneficial than you might think

Investment interest — interest on debt used to buy assets held for investment, such as margin debt used to buy securities — generally is deductible for both regular tax and alternative minimum tax purposes. But special rules apply that can … Read More »

January 24th

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Deduction for state and local sales tax benefits some, but not all, taxpayers

The break allowing taxpayers to take an itemized deduction for state and local sales taxes in lieu of state and local income taxes was made “permanent” a little over a year ago. This break can be valuable to those residing … Read More »

January 17th

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Can you pay bonuses in 2017 but deduct them this year?

You may be aware of the rule that allows businesses to deduct bonuses employees have earned during a tax year if the bonuses are paid within 2½ months after the end of that year (by March 15 for a calendar-year … Read More »

December 6th

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Ensure your year-end donations will be deductible on your 2016 return

Donations to qualified charities are generally fully deductible, and they may be the easiest deductible expense to time to your tax advantage. After all, you control exactly when and how much you give. To ensure your donations will be deductible … Read More »

November 29th

Tax Planning. Comments Off on Ensure your year-end donations will be deductible on your 2016 return


Accelerating your property tax deduction to reduce your 2016 tax bill

Smart timing of deductible expenses can reduce your tax liability, and poor timing can unnecessarily increase it. When you don’t expect to be subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT) in the current year, accelerating deductible expenses into the current … Read More »

November 22nd

Tax Planning. Comments Off on Accelerating your property tax deduction to reduce your 2016 tax bill


A brief overview of the President-elect’s tax plan for individuals

Now that Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States and Republicans have retained control of both chambers of Congress, an overhaul of the U.S. tax code next year is likely. President-elect Trump’s tax reform plan, released earlier … Read More »

November 15th

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There’s still time to set up a retirement plan for 2016

Saving for retirement can be tough if you’re putting most of your money and time into operating a small business. However, many retirement plans aren’t difficult to set up and it’s important to start saving so you can enjoy a … Read More »

November 8th

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It’s critical to be aware of the tax rules surrounding your NQDC plan

Nonqualified deferred compensation (NQDC) plans pay executives at some time in the future for services to be currently performed. They differ from qualified plans, such as 401(k)s, in that:

NQDC plans can favor certain highly compensated employees,
Although the executive’s tax liability … Read More »

November 1st

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Beware of income-based limits on itemized deductions and personal exemptions

Many tax breaks are reduced or eliminated for higher-income taxpayers. Two of particular note are the itemized deduction reduction and the personal exemption phaseout.

Income thresholds

If your adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds the applicable threshold, most of your itemized deductions will … Read More »

October 25th

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What the self-employed need to know about employment taxes

In addition to income tax, you must pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on earned income, such as salary and self-employment income. The 12.4% Social Security tax applies only up to the Social Security wage base of $118,500 for 2016. … Read More »

October 18th

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Are you timing business income and expenses to your tax advantage?

Typically, it’s better to defer tax. One way is through controlling when your business recognizes income and incurs deductible expenses. Here are two timing strategies that can help businesses do this:

Defer income to next year. If your business uses the … Read More »

October 11th

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Tax-smart options for your old retirement plan when you change jobs

There’s a lot to think about when you change jobs, and it’s easy for a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan to get lost in the shuffle. But to keep building tax-deferred savings, it’s important to make an informed decision … Read More »

October 4th

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Get 2 tax benefits from 1 donation: Give appreciated stock instead of cash

If you’re charitably inclined, making donations is probably one of your key year-end tax planning strategies. But if you typically give cash, you may want to consider another option that provides not just one but two tax benefits: Donating long-term … Read More »

September 27th

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Prepaid tuition vs. college savings: Which type of 529 plan is better?

Section 529 plans provide a tax-advantaged way to help pay for college expenses. Here are just a few of the benefits:

Although contributions aren’t deductible for federal purposes, plan assets can grow tax-deferred.
Some states offer tax incentives for contributing in the … Read More »

September 21st

Tax Department, Tax Planning. Comments Off on Prepaid tuition vs. college savings: Which type of 529 plan is better?


Documentation is the key to business expense deductions

If you have incomplete or missing records and get audited by the IRS, your business will likely lose out on valuable deductions. Here are two recent U.S. Tax Court cases that help illustrate the rules for documenting deductions.

Case 1: Insufficient … Read More »

September 13th

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Tax impact of investor vs. trader status

If you invest, whether you’re considered an investor or a trader can have a significant impact on your tax bill. Do you know the difference?

Investors

Most people who trade stocks are classified as investors for tax purposes. This means any net … Read More »

September 6th

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Are frequent flyer miles ever taxable?

If you recently redeemed frequent flyer miles to treat the family to a fun summer vacation or to take your spouse on a romantic getaway, you might assume that there are no tax implications involved. And you’re probably right — … Read More »

August 30th

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Now’s the time to start thinking about “bunching” — miscellaneous itemized deductions, that is

Many expenses that may qualify as miscellaneous itemized deductions are deductible only to the extent they exceed, in aggregate, 2% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). Bunching these expenses into a single year may allow you to exceed this “floor.” … Read More »

August 23rd

Tax Department, Tax Planning. Comments Off on Now’s the time to start thinking about “bunching” — miscellaneous itemized deductions, that is


Combining business and vacation travel: What can you deduct?

If you go on a business trip within the United States and tack on some vacation days, you can deduct some of your expenses. But exactly what can you write off?

Transportation expenses

Transportation costs to and from the location of your … Read More »

August 16th

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3 strategies for tax-smart giving

Giving away assets during your life will help reduce the size of your taxable estate, which is beneficial if you have a large estate that could be subject to estate taxes. For 2016, the lifetime gift and estate tax exemption … Read More »

August 9th

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Don’t roll the dice with your taxes if you gamble this year

For anyone who takes a spin at roulette, cries out “Bingo!” or engages in other wagering activities, it’s important to be familiar with the applicable tax rules. Otherwise, you could be putting yourself at risk for interest or penalties — … Read More »

August 2nd

Tax Planning. Comments Off on Don’t roll the dice with your taxes if you gamble this year


Should you make a “charitable IRA rollover” in 2016?

Last year a break valued by many charitably inclined retirees was made permanent: the charitable IRA rollover. If you’re age 70½ or older, you can make direct contributions — up to $100,000 annually — from your IRA to qualified charitable … Read More »

July 26th

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To deduct business losses, you may have to prove “material participation”

You can only deduct losses from an S corporation, partnership or LLC if you “materially participate” in the business. If you don’t, your losses are generally “passive” and can only be used to offset income from other passive activities. Any … Read More »

July 19th

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There’s still time for homeowners to save with green tax credits

The income tax credit for certain energy-efficient home improvements and equipment purchases was extended through 2016 by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the PATH Act). So, you still have time to save both energy and taxes … Read More »

July 12th

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3 mutual fund tax hazards to watch out for

Investing in mutual funds is an easy way to diversify a portfolio, which is one reason why they’re commonly found in retirement plans such as IRAs and 401(k)s. But if you hold such funds in taxable accounts, or are considering … Read More »

July 5th

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Awards of RSUs can provide tax deferral opportunity

Executives and other key employees are often compensated with more than just salary, fringe benefits and bonuses: They may also be awarded stock-based compensation, such as restricted stock or stock options. Another form that’s becoming more common is restricted stock … Read More »

June 30th

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Throw a company picnic for employees this summer and enjoy larger deductions

Many businesses host a picnic for employees in the summer. It’s a fun activity for your staff and you may be able to take a larger deduction for the cost than you would on other meal and entertainment expenses.

Deduction limits
Generally, … Read More »

June 21st

Tax Department, Tax Planning. Comments Off on Throw a company picnic for employees this summer and enjoy larger deductions


Finding the right tax-advantaged account to fund your health care expenses

With health care costs continuing to climb, tax-friendly ways to pay for these expenses are more attractive than ever. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) all provide opportunities for tax-advantaged funding of health … Read More »

June 14th

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Combine business travel and a family vacation without losing tax benefits

Are you thinking about turning a business trip into a family vacation this summer? This can be a great way to fund a portion of your vacation costs. But if you’re not careful, you could lose the tax benefits of … Read More »

June 7th

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Employers: Take payroll tax withholding responsibilities seriously

Employers must withhold income and employment taxes (including Social Security) on wages paid to their employees. The taxes must then be paid over to the IRS according to a deposit schedule.

Some business owners and executives facing a cash flow crunch … Read More »

June 7th

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Stock market volatility can cut tax on a Roth IRA conversion

This year’s stock market volatility can be unnerving, but if you have a traditional IRA, this volatility may provide a valuable opportunity: It can allow you to convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA at a lower tax cost.

Traditional … Read More »

May 31st

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How many employees does your business have for ACA purposes?

It seems like a simple question: How many full-time workers does your business employ? But, when it comes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the answer can be complicated.

The number of workers you employ determines whether your organization is an … Read More »

May 24th

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How summer day camp can save you taxes

Although the kids might still be in school for a few more weeks, summer day camp is rapidly approaching for many families. If yours is among them, did you know that sending your child to day camp might make you … Read More »

May 17th

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Putting your home on the market? Understand the tax consequences of a sale

As the school year draws to a close and the days lengthen, you may be one of the many homeowners who are getting ready to put their home on the market. After all, in many locales, summer is the best … Read More »

May 10th

Tax Department, Tax Planning. Comments Off on Putting your home on the market? Understand the tax consequences of a sale


QSB stock offers 2 valuable tax benefits

By investing in qualified small business (QSB) stock, you can diversify your portfolio and enjoy two valuable tax benefits:

1. Tax-free gain rollovers. If within 60 days of selling QSB stock you buy other QSB stock with the proceeds, … Read More »

May 3rd

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Unexpected retirement plan disqualification can trigger serious tax problems

It’s not unusual for the IRS to conduct audits of qualified employee benefit plans, including 401(k)s. Plan sponsors are expected to stay in compliance with numerous, frequently changing federal laws and regulations.

For example, have you identified all employees eligible for … Read More »

April 26th

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Why it’s time to start tax planning for 2016

Now that the April 18 income tax filing deadline has passed, it may be tempting to set aside any thought of taxes until year end is approaching. But don’t succumb. For maximum tax savings, now is the time to start … Read More »

April 19th

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What 2015 tax records can you toss once you’ve filed your return?

The short answer is: none. You need to hold on to all of your 2015 tax records for now. But this is a great time to take a look at your records for previous tax years and determine what you … Read More »

April 12th

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Filing for an extension isn’t without perils

Yes, the federal income tax filing deadline is slightly later than usual this year—April 18—but it’s now nearly upon us. So, if you haven’t filed your return yet, you may be thinking about an extension.

Extension deadlines
Filing for an extension allows … Read More »

April 5th

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Entrepreneurs: What can you deduct and when?

Starting a new business is an exciting time. But before you even open the doors, you generally have to spend a lot of money. You may have to train workers and pay for rent, utilities, marketing and more.

Entrepreneurs are often … Read More »

March 29th

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Tips for deducting losses from a disaster, fire or theft

If you suffer damage to your home or personal property, you may be able to deduct these “casualty” losses on your federal income tax return. A casualty is a sudden, unexpected or unusual event, such as a natural disaster (hurricane, … Read More »

March 22nd

Tax Department. Comments Off on Tips for deducting losses from a disaster, fire or theft


3 income-tax-smart gifting strategies

If your 2015 tax liability is higher than you’d hoped and you’re ready to transfer some assets to your loved ones, now may be the time to get started. Giving away assets will, of course, help reduce the size of … Read More »

March 15th

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Make a 2015 contribution to an IRA before time runs out

Tax-advantaged retirement plans allow your money to grow tax-deferred—or, in the case of Roth accounts, tax-free. But annual contributions are limited by tax law, and any unused limit can’t be carried forward to make larger contributions in future years. So … Read More »

March 8th

Tax Planning. Comments Off on Make a 2015 contribution to an IRA before time runs out


2 benefits-related tax credits just for small businesses

Tax credits reduce tax liability dollar-for-dollar, making them particularly valuable. Two valuable credits are especially for small businesses that offer certain employee benefits. Can you claim one—or both—of them on your 2015 return?

Retirement plan credit
Small employers (generally those with 100 … Read More »

March 1st

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What’s your charitable donation deduction?

When it comes to deducting charitable gifts, all donations are not created equal. As you file your 2015 return and plan your charitable giving for 2016, it’s important to keep in mind the available deduction:

Cash. This includes not just actual … Read More »

February 23rd

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How to max out education-related tax breaks

If there was a college student in your family last year, you may be eligible for some valuable tax breaks on your 2015 return. To max out your education-related breaks, you need to see which ones you’re eligible for and … Read More »

February 16th

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Deduct home office expenses — if you’re eligible

Today it’s becoming more common to work from home. But just because you have a home office space doesn’t mean you can deduct expenses associated with it.

Eligibility requirements
If you’re an employee, your use of your home office must be for … Read More »

February 9th

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Extension means businesses can take bonus depreciation on their 2015 returns—but should they?

Bonus depreciation allows businesses to recover the costs of depreciable property more quickly by claiming additional first-year depreciation for qualified assets. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the PATH Act) extended 50% bonus depreciation through 2017.

The break … Read More »

February 2nd

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File early to avoid tax identity theft

If you’re like many Americans, you may not start thinking about filing your tax return until the April 15 deadline (this year, April 18) is just a few weeks—or perhaps even just a few days—away. But there’s another date you … Read More »

January 26th

Tax Department, Tax Planning. Comments Off on File early to avoid tax identity theft


Why investing in small-business stock may make more tax sense than ever

By purchasing stock in certain small businesses, you can not only diversify your portfolio but also enjoy preferential tax treatment. And under a provision of the tax extenders act signed into law this past December (the PATH Act), such stock … Read More »

January 20th

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Could you save more by deducting state and local sales taxes?

For the last several years, taxpayers have been allowed to take an itemized deduction for state and local sales taxes in lieu of state and local income taxes. This break can be valuable to those residing in states with no or low income taxes … Read More »

January 12th

Tax Department, Tax Planning. Comments Off on Could you save more by deducting state and local sales taxes?


2 extended credits can save businesses taxes on their 2015 returns

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act) extended a wide variety of tax breaks, in some cases making them permanent. Extended breaks include many tax credits — which are particularly valuable because they reduce taxes dollar-for-dollar (compared to … Read More »

January 5th

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No changes to retirement plan contributions for 2016

Retirement plan contribution limits are indexed for inflation, but with inflation remaining low, the limits remain unchanged for 2016:

Nevertheless, if you’re not already maxing out your contributions, you still have an opportunity to save more in 2016. And if you … Read More »

December 29th

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Congress passes “extenders” legislation reviving expired tax breaks for 2015

Many valuable tax breaks expired December 31, 2014. For them to be available for 2015, Congress had to pass legislation extending them — which it now has done, with the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act), … Read More »

December 22nd

Tax Department. Comments Off on Congress passes “extenders” legislation reviving expired tax breaks for 2015


Seven last-minute tax-saving tips

The year is quickly drawing to a close, but there’s still time to take steps to reduce your 2015 tax liability—you just must act by December 31:

Pay your 2015 property tax bill that’s due in early 2016.
Make your January 1 … Read More »

December 15th

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Avoid a 50% penalty: Take retirement plan RMDs by December 31

After you reach age 70½, you must take annual required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your IRAs (except Roth IRAs) and, generally, from your defined contribution plans (such as 401(k) plans). You also could be required to take RMDs if you … Read More »


Don’t miss your opportunity to make 2015 annual exclusion gifts

Recently, the IRS released the 2016 annually adjusted amount for the unified gift and estate tax exemption and the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemption: $5.45 million (up from $5.43 million in 2015). But even with the rising exemptions, annual exclusion … Read More »


PTO contribution arrangements can help prevent the year-end vacation-time scramble

From the Thanksgiving kick-off of the holiday season through December 31, many businesses find themselves short-staffed as employees take time off to spend with family and friends. But if you limit how many vacation days employees can roll over to … Read More »

November 24th

Tax Department. No Comments


Reduce taxes on your investments with these year-end strategies

While tax consequences should never drive investment decisions, it’s critical that they be considered — especially by higher-income taxpayers, who may be facing the 39.6% short-term capital gains rate, the 20% long-term capital gains rate and the 3.8% net investment … Read More »


Protect your deduction: Verify that a charity is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions before you donate

Donations to qualified charities are generally fully deductible, and they may be the easiest deductible expense to time to your tax advantage. After all, you control exactly when and how much you give. But before you donate, it’s critical to … Read More »


The 529 savings plan: A tax-smart way to fund college expenses

If you’re saving for college, consider a Section 529 plan. Although contributions aren’t deductible for federal purposes, plan assets can grow tax-deferred. (Some states do offer tax incentives for contributing.)

Distributions used to pay qualified expenses (such as tuition, mandatory fees, … Read More »


Save tax — or at least defer it — by carefully timing business income and expenses

The first step to smart timing is to project your business’s income and expenses for 2015 and 2016. With this information in hand, you can determine the best year-end timing strategy for your business.

If you expect to be in the … Read More »

October 27th

Tax Department. No Comments


2 tax consequences to consider if you’re refinancing a home

Now may be a great time to refinance, because mortgage rates are still low but expected to increase. Before deciding to refinance, however, here are a couple of tax consequences to consider:

Cash-out refinancing. If you borrow more than you need … Read More »


Your exec comp could be subject to the 0.9% additional Medicare tax or the 3.8% NIIT

The additional Medicare tax and net investment income tax (NIIT) apply when certain income exceeds the applicable threshold: $250,000 for married filing jointly, $125,000 for married filing separately, and $200,000 for other taxpayers.

The following types of executive compensation could be … Read More »


Gearing up for the ACA’s information reporting requirements

Starting in 2016, applicable large employers (ALEs) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have to file Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to provide information to the IRS and plan participants regarding their health care benefits for the previous year. Both … Read More »


Selling rather than trading in business vehicles can save tax

Although a vehicle’s value typically drops fairly rapidly, the tax rules limit the amount of annual depreciation that can be claimed on most cars and light trucks. Thus, when it’s time to replace a vehicle used in business, it’s not … Read More »

September 29th

Tax Department. No Comments


Why you should contribute more to your 401(k) in 2015

Contributing to a traditional employer-sponsored defined contribution plan, such as a 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plan, offers many benefits:

Contributions are pretax, reducing your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), which can also help you reduce or avoid exposure to the 3.8% … Read More »


How to determine if you need to worry about estate taxes

Here’s a simplified way to project your estate tax exposure. Take the value of your estate, net of any debts. Also subtract any assets that will pass to charity on your death.
Then, if you’re married and your spouse is a … Read More »

September 15th

Tax Department. No Comments


When will Congress pass “extenders” legislation to revive expired tax breaks for 2015?

With Congress returning from its August recess, this is the question on tax-savvy Americans’ minds. Many valuable tax breaks aren’t permanent, so Congress has to pass legislation extending them to keep them in effect. Unfortunately, Congress often waits until the … Read More »


All income investments aren’t alike when it comes to taxes

The tax treatment of investment income varies, and not just based on whether the income is in the form of dividends or interest. Qualified dividends are taxed at the favorable long-term capital gains tax rate (generally 15% or 20%) rather … Read More »


Exporters and others: Save taxes with an IC-DISC

If your business exports American-made goods or performs architectural or engineering services for foreign construction projects, an interest-charge domestic international sales corporation (IC-DISC) can help slash your tax bill.
An IC-DISC is a “paper” corporation you set up to receive commissions … Read More »

August 25th

Tax Planning. No Comments


What you need to know before donating collectibles

If you’re a collector, donating from your collection instead of your bank account or investment portfolio can be tax-smart. When you donate appreciated property rather than selling it, you avoid the capital gains tax you would have incurred on a … Read More »


Teens in your family with summer jobs? Set up IRAs for them!

Teenagers’ retirement may seem too far off to warrant saving now, but IRAs can be perfect for teens precisely because they’ll likely have many years to let their accounts grow tax-deferred or tax-free.
The 2015 contribution limit is the lesser of … Read More »


Act soon if you want to help your child buy a home

Mortgage interest rates are still at historically low levels, but they’re expected to go up by year end. So if you’ve been thinking about helping your child — or grandchild — buy a home, consider acting soon. There also are … Read More »


Act soon if you want to help your child buy a home

Mortgage interest rates are still at historically low levels, but they’re expected to go up by year end. So if you’ve been thinking about helping your child — or grandchild — buy a home, consider acting soon. There also are … Read More »


Tread carefully when determining compensation for S corp. shareholder-employees

By distributing profits in the form of dividends rather than salary, an S corporation and its owners can avoid payroll taxes on these amounts. Because of the additional 0.9% Medicare tax on wages in excess of $200,000 ($250,000 for joint … Read More »


Tread carefully when determining compensation for S corp. shareholder-employees

By distributing profits in the form of dividends rather than salary, an S corporation and its owners can avoid payroll taxes on these amounts. Because of the additional 0.9% Medicare tax on wages in excess of $200,000 ($250,000 for joint … Read More »


Tax treatment of NQSOs differs from that of their better-known counterpart

With nonqualified stock options (NQSOs), if the stock appreciates beyond your exercise price, you can buy shares at a price below what they’re trading for. This is the same as for the perhaps better-known incentive stock options (ISOs).

The tax treatment … Read More »


How to begin collecting your 2015 tax refund now

If you usually receive a large federal income tax refund, you’re essentially making an interest-free loan to the IRS. Rather than wait until you file your 2015 tax return in 2016, why not begin enjoying your “refund” now by reducing … Read More »


Tax impact of the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision

On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. For federal tax purposes, same-sex married couples were already considered married, under the Court’s 2013 … Read More »


Large employers: Time to start planning for ACA information reporting

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 25 decision upholding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) yet again, employers subject to the act’s information reporting provision can no longer afford to put off planning in the hope that the requirements might go … Read More »


Opening the “back door” to a Roth IRA

A potential downside of tax-deferred saving through a traditional retirement plan is that you’ll have to pay taxes when you make withdrawals at retirement. Roth plans, on the other hand, allow tax-free distributions; the tradeoff is that contributions to these … Read More »


Married with a large estate? Why you still need a credit shelter trust

Even though portability now allows married couples to use up both spouses’ estate tax exemptions without having to make lifetime asset transfers or set up trusts, this “easier” path isn’t necessarily the better path. For couples with large estates, making … Read More »


FIRPTA amendments proposed to encourage foreign investment in U.S. real estate

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting News/Checkpoint Daily Newsstand

Two senior members of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee, one Republican and one Democrat, have introduced amendments to the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980 (FIRPTA) that aim … Read More »


Taking advantage of tangible property safe harbors

If your business has made repairs to tangible property, such as buildings, machinery, equipment and vehicles, you may be eligible for a deduction on your 2014 income tax return. But you must make sure they were truly “repairs,” and not … Read More »


Make sure you have proper substantiation for your 2014 donations

If you don’t meet IRS substantiation requirements, your charitable deductions could be denied. To comply, generally you must obtain a contemporaneous written acknowledgment from the charity stating the amount of the donation, whether you received any goods or services in … Read More »

February 25th

Tax Department. No Comments


Should you forgo a personal exemption so your child can take the American Opportunity credit?

If you have a child in college, you may not qualify for the American Opportunity credit on your 2014 income tax return because your income is too high (modified adjusted gross income phaseout range of $80,000–$90,000; $160,000–$180,000 for joint filers), … Read More »

February 17th

Tax Department. No Comments


The “manufacturers’ deduction”: It’s not just for manufacturers

The manufacturers’ deduction, also called the “Section 199” or “domestic production activities” deduction, is 9% of the lesser of qualified production activities income or taxable income. The deduction is also limited to 50% of W-2 wages paid by the taxpayer … Read More »

February 12th

Tax Department. No Comments


Is your business ready for play-or-pay?

If you’re a “large” employer, time is running out to prepare for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) shared responsibility provision, commonly referred to as “play-or-pay.” It’s scheduled to go into effect in 2015.
Under transitional relief the IRS issued earlier this … Read More »

September 3rd

Tax Department. No Comments


Vacation home owners: Adjusting rental vs. personal use might save taxes

With summer drawing to a close, if you own a vacation home that you both rent out and use personally, it’s a good time to review the potential tax consequences:
• If you rent it out for less than 15 days, you … Read More »


Grandchild in college this fall? Paying tuition could save gift and estate taxes

Now’s the time of year when many young adults are about to head back to college — or to enter their first year of higher education. If you have a grandchild who’ll be in college this fall and you’re concerned … Read More »


Installment sales offer both pluses and minuses

A taxable sale of a business might be structured as an installment sale if the buyer lacks sufficient cash or pays a contingent amount based on the business’s performance. An installment sale also may make sense if the seller wishes … Read More »


Is a Roth IRA conversion right for you this year?

Is a Roth IRA conversion right for you this year?
If you have a traditional IRA, you might benefit from converting some or all of it to a Roth IRA. A conversion can allow you to turn tax-deferred future growth into … Read More »


Give and receive with a charitable remainder trust

Would you like to benefit charity while reducing the size of your taxable estate yet maintain an income stream for yourself? Would you also like to divest yourself of highly appreciated assets and diversify your portfolio with minimal tax consequences? … Read More »


2 tax pitfalls of mutual funds

Investing in mutual funds is an easy way to diversify a portfolio, which is one reason why they’re commonly found in retirement plans such as IRAs and 401(k)s. But if you hold such funds in taxable accounts, or are considering … Read More »


It’s not too late to make a 2013 contribution to an IRA

Tax-advantaged retirement plans allow your money to grow tax-deferred — or, in the case of Roth accounts, tax-free. But annual contributions are limited by tax law, and any unused limit can’t be carried forward to make larger contributions in future … Read More »


Have you misclassified employees as independent contractors?

Have you misclassified employees as independent contractors?
An employer enjoys several advantages when it classifies a worker as an independent contractor rather than as an employee. For example, it isn’t required to pay payroll taxes, withhold taxes, pay benefits or comply … Read More »


Why you need to know the value of your assets

With the gift and estate tax exemptions currently at $5.34 million, you might think that estate valuations are less important. But even if you believe that your estate’s value is under the exemption amount, it’s still important to know the … Read More »


If you’ve put your home on the market, you need to know the tax consequences of a sale

Summer is a common time to put a home on the market. If you’re among those who are following this trend, it’s important to be aware of the tax consequences.
If you’re selling your principal residence, you can exclude up to … Read More »


Who’s subject to the 50% limit on meal and entertainment deductions?

n general, when meal and entertainment expenses are incurred in the context of an employer-employee or customer–independent contractor relationship, one party will be subject to a 50% limitation on the deduction. But which party? Last year, the IRS finalized regulations … Read More »


What to do with your old retirement plan when you change jobs

First and foremost, don’t take a lump-sum distribution from your old employer’s retirement plan. It generally will be taxable and, if you’re under age 59½, subject to a 10% early-withdrawal penalty. Here are three alternatives:
1. Stay put. You may be … Read More »


Summer day camp may save you taxes

The passing of Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer in the minds of many Americans. Although the kids might still be in school for another week or two, summer day camp is rapidly approaching for many families. If yours … Read More »


3 tax traps when donating real estate to charity

If you’re considering donating a property to charity, here are three potential tax traps you need to be aware of:
1. If you donate real estate to a public charity, you generally can deduct the property’s fair market value. But if you … Read More »


Employers: Have you amended your FSA plan?

Health care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) allow employees to redirect pretax income to an employer-sponsored plan that pays, or reimburses them for, qualified medical expenses not covered by insurance. A maximum employee contribution limit of $2,500 went into effect in … Read More »


Don’t lose tax benefits when combining business travel with vacation pleasure

Are you thinking about turning a business trip into a family vacation this summer? This can be a great way to fund a portion of your vacation costs. But if you’re not careful, you could lose the tax benefits of … Read More »


Softening the blow of higher taxes on trust income

This year, trusts are subject to the 39.6% ordinary-income rate and the 20% capital gains rate to the extent their taxable income exceeds $12,150. And the 3.8% net investment income tax applies to undistributed net investment income to the extent … Read More »


Your 2013 tax return is filed. What tax records can you toss?

The short answer is: none. You need to hold on to all of your 2013 tax records for now. But this is a great time to take a look at your records for previous tax years and determine what you … Read More »


Making the most of your business’s NOL

If during 2013 income tax return filing you found that your business had a net operating loss (NOL) for the year, the news isn’t all bad. While no one enjoys being unprofitable, an NOL does have an upside: tax benefits.
In … Read More »


Don’t inadvertently miss filing deadlines

If you still file a paper return, it’s important to know the IRS’s “timely mailed = timely filed” rule: If your tax return is due April 15, it’s considered timely filed if it’s postmarked by midnight on April 15. But … Read More »


Can I claim my elderly parent as a dependent?

For you to deduct up to $3,900 on your 2013 tax return under the adult-dependent exemption, in most cases the parent must have less gross income for the tax year than the exemption amount. Generally Social Security is excluded, but … Read More »


Your 2013 return may be your last chance for 2 depreciation-related breaks

If you purchased qualifying assets by Dec. 31, 2013, you may be able to take advantage of these depreciation-related breaks on your 2013 tax return:
1. Bonus depreciation. This additional first-year depreciation allowance is, generally, 50%. Among the assets that qualify … Read More »


2013 higher education breaks may save your family taxes

Tax credits can be especially valuable because they reduce taxes dollar-for-dollar; deductions reduce only the amount of income that’s taxed. A couple of credits are available for higher education expenses:
1. The American Opportunity credit — up to $2,500 per year per … Read More »


Don’t overlook reinvested dividends

One of the most common mistakes investors make is forgetting to increase their basis in mutual funds to reflect reinvested dividends. Many mutual fund investors automatically reinvest dividends in additional shares of the fund. These reinvestments increase tax basis in … Read More »


Could deducting state and local sales taxes save you more?

For the last several years, taxpayers have been allowed to take an itemized deduction for state and local sales taxes in lieu of state and local income taxes. Although this break hasn’t yet been extended to 2014, it is available … Read More »

February 26th

Tax Department. No Comments


Short-term ACA relief now available for midsize and large employers

Recently released IRS final regulations for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) employer shared-responsibility provision provide some short-term relief for midsize and large employers.

Under the ACA, the shared-responsibility provision (commonly referred to as “play-or-pay”) applies to “large” employers — those … Read More »

February 19th

Tax Department. No Comments


There’s still time to get substantiation for 2013 donations

To support a charitable deduction, you need to comply with IRS substantiation requirements. This generally includes obtaining a contemporaneous written acknowledgment from the charity stating the amount of the donation, whether you received any goods or services in consideration for … Read More »


Home office deduction 101

If your use of a home office is for your employer’s benefit or because you’re self employed, you may be able to deduct a portion of your mortgage interest, property taxes, insurance, utilities and certain other expenses, as well as … Read More »

February 5th

Tax Department. No Comments


Time for an estate plan checkup

Now that we’re in the new year, it’s time for an estate plan checkup. Why? First, various exclusion, exemption and deduction amounts are adjusted for inflation and can change from year to year, so it’s a good idea to see … Read More »

January 14th

Tax Department. No Comments


Should you increase your retirement plan contributions in 2014?

With the new year upon us, it’s time to start thinking about 2014 retirement plan contributions. Contributing the maximum you’re allowed to an employer-sponsored defined contribution plan is likely a smart move:
• Contributions are typically pretax.
• Plan assets can grow tax-deferred — … Read More »


Avoid the year-end vacation-time scramble

Every December are your employees scrambling to use up their vacation time because of limits on what they can roll over to the new year? Or do you allow rollovers and have long-time employees who’ve built up large balances that … Read More »

December 23rd

Tax Department. No Comments


Smart timing of business income and expenses can save tax — or at least defer it

By projecting your business’s income and expenses for 2013 and 2014, you can determine how to time them to save — or at least defer — tax. If you’ll be in the same or lower tax bracket in 2014, consider:

Deferring … Read More »

November 26th

Tax Department. No Comments


Why you should max out your 2013 401(k) contribution

Contributing the maximum you’re allowed to an employer-sponsored defined contribution plan, such as a 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plan, is likely a smart move:

Contributions are typically pretax, reducing your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), which can also help you reduce … Read More »

October 16th

Tax Department. No Comments


Expiration date for home mortgage debt forgiveness rapidly approaching

Since 2007, homeowners have been allowed to exclude from their taxable income up to $2 million in cancellation-of-debt (COD) income ($1 million for married taxpayers filing separately) in connection with qualified principal residence indebtedness (QPRI). The exclusion had been available … Read More »


IRS issues final regs on tangible property expenses

The regulations (IRS T.D. 9636) provide guidance on how to comply with Sections 162 and 263 of the Internal Revenue Code. These sections require amounts paid to acquire, produce or improve tangible property to be capitalized but allow amounts for … Read More »


IRS makes more same-sex couples eligible for federal tax treatment as a married couple

In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision regarding same-sex marriage, the IRS recently clarified that married same-sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax provisions in which marriage is a factor, such as filing status, … Read More »

September 11th

Tax Department. No Comments


New IRS website provides health care law information for just about everyone

Many provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 have recently gone into effect, and some significant provisions will do so in 2014 and 2015. To help individuals and families, employers (both large and small), and other … Read More »


Now’s the time to consider short-term GRATs

Congress’s decision not to include a proposed minimum term for grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs) in the tax legislation passed back in January — combined with low interest rates — may make it an ideal time to add short-term GRATs … Read More »


Don’t skimp on S corporation salaries

S corporation owners often take modest salaries as a tax-saving strategy. By distributing most of the corporation’s profits in the form of dividends rather than wages, the company and its owners can avoid payroll taxes on these amounts. The tax … Read More »


Renting out your vacation home brings tax complications

If you rent out your vacation home for 15 days or more, you must report the income. But exactly what expenses you can deduct depends on whether the home is classified as a rental property for tax purposes, based on … Read More »


Could your frequent flyer miles be taxable?

Now is the time of year when many Americans are using the frequent flyer miles they’ve built up from work-related travel or credit card rewards programs to take the family on a nice vacation. If you’re among them, you may … Read More »


Think twice before taking an early withdrawal from a retirement plan

If you’re in need of cash, early retirement plan withdrawals generally should be a last resort. With a few exceptions, distributions before age 59½ are subject to a 10% penalty on top of any income tax that ordinarily would be … Read More »


Employers given another year to get into compliance with the health care act’s “play or pay” provision

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010’s shared responsibility provision, commonly referred to as “play or pay,” was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2014. But on July 2, the U.S. Treasury announced that the effective date would … Read More »


How telecommuting can expose employers to unexpected taxes

If you allow employees to telecommute, be sure to consider the potential tax implications. Hiring someone in another state, for example, might create sufficient nexus to expose your company to that state’s income, sales and use, franchise, withholding, or unemployment … Read More »


Work Opportunity credit for certain 2013 new hires can save you tax

If you’re considering expanding your staff, hiring from certain disadvantaged groups before the end of 2013 can save you tax. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 extended the Work Opportunity credit for hires from most eligible groups through 2013.

Examples … Read More »


Planning to make a large cash gift for high school graduation? Consider paying some college tuition instead

With commencement ceremonies for high school seniors coming up, many parents and grandparents are contemplating making cash gifts the student can use for college expenses. But if gift and estate taxes are a concern, consider a potentially more tax-efficient gift: … Read More »


Why 2013 may be the year to make that car or boat purchase you’ve been thinking about

For the last several years, taxpayers have been allowed to take an itemized deduction for state and local sales taxes in lieu of state and local income taxes. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 has extended this break — … Read More »


IRS Issues Guidance for Healthcare FSAs

Now that the 2012 tax return deadline is nearly upon us, if you haven’t filed your return yet, you may be thinking about an extension. This allows you to delay filing your return until the applicable extension deadline:

Individuals — Oct. … Read More »