Did you know there are free IRS Tax Tools that can help minimize your tax bill and manage your taxes all year round? Most taxpayers are unaware of them. The are located on their website.
Here are a 12 of the best IRS tax tools including links.
1. IRS Audit Technique Guides
These are the same guides that IRS tax examiners use when conducting an audit. The Freedom of Information Act require the IRS to provide these audit guides
These guides can be very helpful in aligning your 2017 tax return with audit guidelines. It can also help you eliminate audit risk by having better knowledge of the law and IRS rules and procedures.
More than 50 audit guides are available on the IRS web site for free download. They cover topics including: Executive Compensation, Lawsuit Awards and Settlements, Business Consultants, Architects, Attorneys, Cash Intensive Businesses, Golden Parachutes, Split Dollar Life Insurance, Veterinary Medicine, the Wine Industry, and dozens more.
529 Educational Plans Should Be Gaining in Popularity
Now that the dust has settled and the tax code has been “reformed,” it’s time to unpack those changes and analyze how best they can help you. One of the changes was the expansion of 529 educational plans. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, eligible expenses include up to $10,000 per person per year for K-12 educational expenses. Given the popularity and rising costs of private education, and the state income tax breaks associated with many of these accounts, 529 educational plans should see a spike in popularity.
529 Plans – A Quick Overview
529 plans were created by Congress in the mid 1990s as way for families to save money for college education expenses, which at that time had just begun to skyrocket. There are two types of 529 plans: a prepaid plan and a savings plan. We will focus on the savings plans because they are most prevalent. If you understand how a Roth IRA works, you should have a pretty good idea of how a 529 savings plan works. A 529 plan is an investment account funded with after-tax money. The earnings grow tax-free and the withdrawals are tax and penalty free as long as they are qualified. Even better, some states provide state income tax deductions for contributions! Currently, 34 states offer some type of deduction or credit for 529 plan contributions.
What Tax Reform Means to You
On December 22, 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law. This far-reaching piece of legislation will overhaul the tax code. But what does the tax reform mean for you and your retirement plan? Here are some highlights.
Tax reform keeps seven tax brackets and lowers the top rate to 37% for individuals. The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) has been scaled way back. The standard deduction is doubled to $12,000 for singles and $24,000 for those who are married, filing jointly, and the child credit has been expanded. Personal exemptions are suspended.
Many popular deductions have been eliminated or scaled back. The state and local tax deduction is limited to $10,000, and the mortgage interest deduction will be limited to the first $750,000 in mortgage interest debt for new home purchases.
These changes, like most of the changes tax reform brings for individuals, are scheduled to sunset after 2025. Tax reform also brought sweeping reform to corporate taxation. Changes on the corporate side, unlike the individual side, are permanent.
By Beverly DeVeny, Ed Slott and Company, LLC
Did you do a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) last year? Make sure the tax preparer knows about it.
The IRA custodian is not required to report a QCD transaction on Form 1099-R. Instead, it will show up as a regular distribution to the IRA owner. A regular distribution is normally a taxable event. A tax preparer, especially at this time of year, will simply look at the 1099-R and include the entire amount in the IRA owner’s income where it will become taxable.
What is the pro-rata rule?
The pro-rata rule is the formula used to determine how much of a distribution is taxable when the account owner holds both after-tax and pre-tax dollars in their IRA(s). For the purposes of the pro-rata rule, the IRS looks at all your SEP, SIMPLE, and Traditional IRAs as if they were one. Even if you have been making after-tax contributions to a separate account for years, and there have been no earnings, you cannot isolate your after-tax amounts and must take your other IRAs into consideration.
Giving another person the ability to make significant financial decisions and/or take actions on your behalf is not an easy thing to do. That said, various situations may arise where you no longer want to, or are able to, manager your own finances. In such cases, you want to make sure someone else can act on your behalf.
Typically, this is done via what’s known as a Power of Attorney (POA) document. This form, which is generally prepared by an estate planning attorney, grants a person – known as your attorney-in-fact (or agent – the ability to step into your shoes and make what are often critical and important decisions.
Clearly, great thought should be given to whom you name as your attorney-in-act. All too often through, that’s where the thought stops. In reality, a commensurate level of thought and discussion should take place regarding the document itself and the provisions that are incorporated into your POA.
by Scott Smith, CIMA®
Thank you to those who attended our quarterly client roundtable last month recapping first quarter 2015 market trends. We appreciate the opportunity to engage and educate clients on topics important to them. For those who were unable to attend the client roundtable, a brief summary of our discussion is shown below.
• Monetary policy from the Federal Reserve has been a major driver of equity market returns in recent years and is the reason why equity markets have gained disproportionately to the overall economy and corporate earnings.
50 Years of Profitable Partnership
By Scott Smith, CIMA®
I recently had the privilege of attending the 50th annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. A friend and I arrived about 20 minutes after the CenturyLink Center door’s opened at 7:00 in the morning. By the time we found a seat, we were in the second to last row of the upper deck. Needless to say, there was a buzz and excitement in the air.
Article Credits: Copyright Ed Slott and Company 2014 | By Beverly DeVeny, IRA Technical Expert
The “I” in IRA stands for individual. Here are 5 things you 100% can never do with your IRA.
1. If you are married, you cannot treat the IRA as a joint asset – even if you live in a community property state. Contributions must be made on an individual basis. Spouses cannot add their contribution amounts together and then allocate the contribution between their respective IRAs.