Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Key provisions affecting individuals

| 2017 Tax Reform Updates, Tax Briefs

On December 20, Congress completed passage of the largest federal tax reform law in more than 30 years. Commonly called the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” (TCJA), the new law means substantial changes for individual taxpayers. The following is a brief overview of some of the most significant provisions. Except where noted, these changes are effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026. Drops of individual income tax rates ranging from 0 to 4 percentage Read more [...]

What you need to know about year-end charitable giving in 2017

| Tax Briefs

Charitable giving can be a powerful tax-saving strategy: Donations to qualified charities are generally fully deductible, and you have complete control over when and how much you give. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind this year to ensure you receive the tax benefits you desire. Delivery date To be deductible on your 2017 return, a charitable donation must be made by Dec. 31, 2017. According to the IRS, a donation generally is “made” at the time of its “unconditional Read more [...]

2018 Q1 tax calendar: Key deadlines for businesses and other employers

| Business Miscellaneous, Tax Briefs

Here are some of the key tax-related deadlines affecting businesses and other employers during the first quarter of 2018. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all-inclusive, so there may be additional deadlines that apply to you. January 31 File 2017 Forms W-2, “Wage and Tax Statement,” with the Social Security Administration and provide copies to your employees. Provide copies of 2017 Forms 1099-MISC, “Miscellaneous Income,” to recipients of income from your business where required. Read more [...]

You may need to add RMDs to your year-end to-do list

| Tax Briefs

As the end of the year approaches, most of us have a lot of things on our to-do lists, from gift shopping to donating to our favorite charities to making New Year’s Eve plans. For taxpayers “of a certain age” with a tax-advantaged retirement account, as well as younger taxpayers who’ve inherited such an account, there may be one more thing that’s critical to check off the to-do list before year-end: Take required minimum distributions (RMDs). A huge penalty After you reach age 70½, Read more [...]

Why you may want to accelerate your property tax payment into 2017

| Tax Briefs

Accelerating deductible expenses, such as property tax on your home, into the current year typically is a good idea. Why? It will defer tax, which usually is beneficial. Prepaying property tax may be especially beneficial this year, because proposed tax legislation might reduce or eliminate the benefit of the property tax deduction beginning in 2018. Proposed changes The initial version of the House tax bill would cap the property tax deduction for individuals at $10,000. The initial version Read more [...]

2017 might be your last chance to hire veterans and claim a tax credit

| Tax Briefs

With Veterans Day on November 11, it’s an especially good time to think about the sacrifices veterans have made for us and how we can support them. One way businesses can support veterans is to hire them. The Work Opportunity tax credit (WOTC) can help businesses do just that, but it may not be available for hires made after this year. As released by the Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on November 2, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would eliminate the WOTC for hires after Read more [...]

Accelerate your retirement savings with a cash balance plan

| Tax Briefs

Business owners may not be able to set aside as much as they’d like in tax-advantaged retirement plans. Typically, they’re older and more highly compensated than their employees, but restrictions on contributions to 401(k) and profit-sharing plans can hamper retirement-planning efforts. One solution may be a cash balance plan.   Defined benefit plan with a twist   The two most popular qualified retirement plans — 401(k) and profit-sharing plans — are defined contribution plans. These Read more [...]

Retirement savings opportunity for the self-employed

| Tax Briefs

Did you know that if you’re self-employed you may be able to set up a retirement plan that allows you to contribute much more than you can contribute to an IRA or even an employer-sponsored 401(k)? There’s still time to set up such a plan for 2017, and it generally isn’t hard to do. So whether you’re a “full-time” independent contractor or you’re employed but earn some self-employment income on the side, consider setting up one of the following types of retirement plans this year.   Profit-sharing Read more [...]

President Trump and key lawmakers reveal tax reform plan

| Tax Briefs

The Trump Administration and select members of Congress have released a "unified framework" for tax reform that they’ve been working on during the last three months. The document provides more detail of what elements they are considering for reform, but it still leaves many specifics to be worked out by the tax-writing committees (i.e., the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee). Yesterday, October 19, 2017, the Senate voted for a blueprint budget that will likely be Read more [...]

Substantiating Business Expenses & Deductions in Audits

| Business Miscellaneous, Tax Briefs

Substantiating business expenses is a common problem for many businesses going through an audit with either the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or their State Department of Revenue. You are probably like most business people. You don’t get up in the morning excited about keeping your tax records. But if you want to be in business and not suffer when the IRS audits your tax returns, you need to keep tax records. This takes a little time and requires some knowledge. Substantiating business expenses Read more [...]