All in Tax Planning

Don't Live in Fear of an IRS Audit #financialplanning #tax

According to the IRS, the chances of you being audited are about 1 in 160.

You likely live in fear of a tax audit. Here ‘s how to protect yourself.

If the Internal Revenue Service suspects you underreported your gross income by 25% or more, it can challenge your return for up to six years. If the IRS suspects you filed a fraudulent return, no statute of limitations applies.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

When the IRS challenges your return, the burden of evidence verifying your claims rests entirely with you.

If you haven’t been traumatized by an audit, you probably keep little of your financial documentation. If you have, you’re probably terrified to part with a single receipt. The IRS is one of the few courts where failure to produce proof of your claims results in the assumption that you stand guilty.

Here are ways to protect yourself:

·       Save all financial documents used to create your tax return.

·       Retain a paper copy or receipt of any tax-relevant financial exchange. Scan these documents and archive them electronically or acquire them in an electronic format.

·       If the purchase constituted a business or other deductible expense, record the expense and why it justifies the deduction. Store this information with the receipts.

Know Your Cost Basis

For a mutual fund with years of reinvested dividends, each dividend payment is part of the cost basis. As a result, sometimes you can compute the cost basis only if you access the complete transaction history.

Many custodians keep several years of electronic copies of brokerage statements and must send any known cost basis when you transfer to a new custodian. If your current custodian has the correct cost basis of your securities, you probably no longer need to keep brokerage statements. Better safe than sorry with the IRS, though.

Other Tips

Permanently keep records of nondeductible contributions to your individual retirement account. You may need the records every year in your retirement that you withdraw money to show that a portion of the withdrawal is not tax deductible. To avoid the hassle, consider clearing out nondeductible IRA contributions by converting your IRAs to Roth accounts.

Keep partnership documents, contracts and commission or royalty structures forever. This includes property records, deeds and titles, especially those relating to intellectual property. It also includes transfers of value for estate planning.

Save all your tax returns. After you file, save the paper or electronic copies, or both, with the rest of that year’s documents.

Once a year, scan and compile the records into PDFs and send them electronically to your financial advisor and the certified public accountant who does your taxes. Scanning the information gives you an electronic backup of the paper indefinitely.

One of the Most Misunderstood Benefits of the #RothIRA

One of the most misunderstood benefits of the Roth IRA, in short, is FLEXIBILITY.

What do I mean by flexibility. Well, in particular, most people either don’t know or are misinformed about when you can take money out of their Roth IRA free of penalties or taxes. Namely, you can take out the contributions you put into your Roth IRA at any time for any reason without penalties or taxes owed.

For example, if you contribute the maximum amount possible into the Roth IRA in 2019, $6,000, you can take that same amount out the next day or the next year, whenever you like, at any age, for any reason, without being penalized or taxed. 

This is from IRS Publication 590-B:

Are Distributions Taxable? You don't include in your gross income qualified distributions or distributions that are a return of your regular contributions from your Roth IRA(s). https://www.irs.gov/publications/p590b#en_US_2018_publink1000231057

Now, the main purposed and benefit of contributing money into the Roth IRA is to leave the funds in there to invest and grow for years to come, but it’s important to know your options. My hope is that by knowing all the benefits of the Roth IRA, you’ll become more inclined and feel less barriers to fully funding your Roth IRA every year. My theory is that if you can get yourself to make it a habit of fully funding your Roth IRA each year, then you’re more likely to keep the funds in there for when you need it most — when work is no longer a desired option or a possibility. 

Planning Continues Upon Retirement for Business Owners

As a business owner, you have invested a great deal of time and effort into building your company over the years. You know the amount of planning needed to maintain daily operations and grow your business. Now, you may be ready for retirement. But, the planning does not end. What you do next, and how you navigate potential tax issues and regulatory pitfalls, can make a big difference in the long-term success of your retirement.

Here are some of the more “taxing” concerns you may face associated with retirement:

Early retirement and early withdrawals.

If you take withdrawals from your qualified retirement plan before age 59½, you may be subject to a 10% Federal income tax penalty. There are certain instances in which early withdrawals may be taken without penalty, such as death, disability, or substantially equal periodic payments. Otherwise, at 10%, the penalty tax can be significant, so it is important to plan accordingly.

Waiting too long. You must begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) by April 1 of the year after you reach age 70½. If you fail to do so or do not withdraw enough, you will be subject to a 50% penalty tax, which will be incurred on the difference between your RMD and the actual withdrawal amount. Your RMD amount is based on the previous December 31 balance, divided by your life expectancy (or the joint life expectancy of you and your spouse, if applicable).

Working while receiving Social Security.
If you receive Social Security and also continue to work, a portion of your benefits may be taxable. For more information, refer to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Publication 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits, or consult with your tax professional.

You may be subject to the “give-back” if you are under full retirement age (based on the year of your birth), receive Social Security benefits, and earn income. The law requires a give-back of $1 for every $2 earned in excess of $17,040 in 2018 for those individuals between the ages of 62 and full retirement age who are receiving a reduced Social Security benefit.

For the year in which an individual attains full retirement age, the give-back is $1 for every $3 in excess of $45,360 for 2018. Starting in the month in which the individual attains full retirement age, the give-back is eliminated. If you are under full retirement age and thinking about taking Social Security benefits while still working, it is important to understand the potential tax consequences of doing so.

Where you live in retirement matters.
Each state has its own rules on income, estate, sales, and property taxation. Your tax and legal advisors can help you assess the potential tax advantages and disadvantages of your retirement destination.

Planning Continues through Retirement

Your personal retirement plan probably involved building a nest egg with regular savings over decades. Now that you are preparing for retirement, continue with your planning.

Tax Planning for Retirement – Roth Benefits

After years of saving and planning for their golden years, many people nearing retirement fail to consider the tax burden they may face on income they receive after they stop working. While you may see a reduction in the amount of taxes you owe after the age of 65, you still need to plan ahead if you want to minimize your tax bill from the IRS.  

Social Security Benefits

Depending upon your total income and marital status, a portion of your Social Security benefits may be taxable. For a rough estimate of your potential tax liability, add half of your Social Security benefits to your projected income from all other sources. This figure is your adjusted gross income (AGI), plus any tax-free interest income from municipal bonds or foreign-earned income. Up to half of Social Security benefits are taxable if this sum, which is called your provisional income, exceeds $25,000 for singles or $32,000 for married couples filing jointly. However, up to 85% of Social Security benefits are taxable if your provisional income is above $34,000 for single filers or $44,000 for married couples filing jointly.

Use the Social Security Benefits Worksheet in the instructions for IRS Form 1040 to calculate the exact amount of taxes owed. Rather than writing a large check once a year, you can arrange to have taxes withheld from your Social Security benefits checks by completing Form W-4V and filing it with the Social Security Administration.

Other Income Sources

In addition to collecting Social Security benefits, most retirees receive their income from a variety of sources, including distributions from 401(k) accounts and individual retirement accounts (IRAs); payouts from company pensions and annuities; and earnings from investments.

Contributions and earnings growth are tax deferred on 401(k)s and traditional IRAs; however, distributions from these accounts are fully taxable, but have no penalties if withdrawals are made after age 59½. If you have savings in 401(k) accounts or traditional IRAs, you must begin making withdrawals from these accounts—and paying taxes on the distributions—by April 1 of the year following the year in which you reach age 70½. If you are at least 59½ years old and have owned a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k) for at least five years, withdrawals are completely tax free. There are no minimum distribution requirements for Roth accounts.

Strategies to Minimize Taxes

Most retirees with nest eggs or pension income of any size will pay at least some taxes on their retirement income, but there are strategies to reduce the amount owed. While it usually makes sense to delay taking taxable distributions from retirement accounts until the funds are needed, or until distributions are required, you may want to withdraw more funds in tax years when claiming a large number of deductions temporarily lowers your tax rate. You may, for example, choose to take advantage of itemized deductions, such as the breaks for medical expenses or charitable gifts, in certain years, while taking the standard deduction in other years.

A desire to leave a portion of your assets to your family may also influence how you handle withdrawals from tax-deferred accounts. Keep in mind that, if you leave behind funds in a traditional IRA, the rules for inheritance can be complex. To avoid these issues and make it easier to pass on your estate to family members, consider converting traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs. While you will have to pay taxes on the funds converted, moving to a Roth IRA eliminates future tax liabilities, regardless of whether you use the funds in retirement or pass the money on to your heirs.

How Bunching Expenses Can Enable Taxpayers to Continue to Itemize

In response to the significant changes to the tax deduction rules under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), many taxpayers are searching for ways to recover some of the tax benefits associated with itemizing deductible expenses that have been eliminated. Taxpayers who were previously able to lower their tax bills by itemizing may want to consider using a “bunching” strategy, which generally means either accelerating or deferring deductible expenses so that more of these expenses fall in a single tax year rather than in multiple tax years.

Helping Your Heirs While Helping Others via the Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) #giving

Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT)

A charitable remainder trust (CRT) can be a highly effective financial and estate planning tool. The CRT can allow you to: avoid capital gains taxes on highly appreciated assets, however when income is distributed to the income beneficiaries it is taxable; receive an income stream based on the full, fair market value (FMV) of those assets; receive an immediate charitable deduction; and ultimately benefit the charity(ies) of your choice.

How Small Businesses Can Take Advantage of Tax Reform #TCJA

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 created substantial new tax breaks for companies of all sizes, but owners of smaller businesses in particular may still be reviewing how much their tax burden could change under the new legislation. The deductions individual business owners can take advantage of and the value of these tax breaks will vary considerably depending on the nature of their business activities, their income levels, and other factors that they may be able to adjust to maximize their tax benefits.