We Are, After All, IRS Customers

The IRS as usual is patting its own back on how great they did customer service-wise during the 2019 tax season. The National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) recently released its Annual Report to Congress and as is every year the reviews are mixed but today’s blog is to introduce the IRS’ customer service platforms, should you need customer service.

REINFORCING THE BASICS.

What is customer service? It is taking care of taxpayers’ needs by providing professional and helpful high-quality assistance before during and after the taxpayer’s requirements are met. Those requirements being taxpayers self-report their income annually and submit income tax payments.

What is an assistor? An IRS customer service rep.

CUSTOMER SERVICE.

During the 2018 tax year the IRS had 73,519 full-time employees (FTEs) about a 4% decrease from the 2017 tax year total of 76,832. There are less revenue agents and officers, less tax examiners and technicians, less special agents, less attorneys, and less appeals officers. But there are a couple of hundred more customer service reps. Depending on which side of tax return honesty you fall on determines whether this is good news, bad news, or just no news to you. Last year the IRS processed 250.3 million tax returns, of which more than 155 million were 1040s. Now think of each return as a customer.

This is such a fun fact. In 2019, corporate America spent 1,286 training dollars per learner, the IRS – $616.

IRS Notices/Correspondence. You can write an old-fashioned letter (paper correspondence) and snail mail it to the IRS. Most of these letters are in response to IRS requests for information, giving the IRS even more information, or disagreeing with them about something (taxpayer dispute). IRS assistors answer these letters which also include procedural questions, amended returns, and duplicate filings. The goal is to answer each letter within 45 days. Day 46, if unanswered, your correspondence becomes “overage”. The IRS received 6.9 million pieces of correspondence in FY 2019.

The NTA, (in short IRS watchdog for taxpayers), reports the IRS had a corresponding 52.3% overage, up over 15% from the previous year. That is 3,608,700 pieces of unanswered mail. Holy heck, where do they put it all?

Online Services. The IRS Website

You can do a number of things online. View your account, get your tax record/transcript, make a payment, make a payment plan, check your refund status, check on an amended return, and get tax forms and instructions.

Last year there were 264 million inquiries to “Where’s My Refund?” and 208,000 of those inquiries were made from mobile devices. Spotting the trend, the IRS is continuing its IRS2Go mobile app; its users increased 17% in 2019.

There is a ton of information on the website and we do mean a ton. The “Frequently Asked Questions and Answers Search” and “The Interactive Tax Assistant Search” are great tools to find answers to questions and navigate through topics and categories:          

Frequently Asked Questions 

Interactive Tax Assistant

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) or Public Law 11597. Of course, the IRS has been worried about the broad scope and complexity of the law and all there is to mess up by us and them and which includes extensive changes to tax forms, publications, and computer systems. Work on implementation is ongoing.   Information and help in filing your returns can be found here: TCJA Help.

Telephone Service. Phone operators will assist callers year-round with obtaining account information and answering basic tax law questions. The telephone service also has recorded tax information and a bunch of automated services. You can call them up and find out the status of your refund, how much you owe, and a bunch of other stuff.

If you ever wondered why the IRS isn’t answering your call; you are not the only one. In 2019, the IRS received 99.3 million calls. This is a decrease from what had been a yearly average of 107 million. And get this, answered 28.6% of them. On the Consolidated Automated Collection System line, assistors answered about 31 percent of calls, and the average wait time was about 38 minutes. Calls from taxpayers calling the Installment Agreement/Balance Due line to make payment arrangements because they could not pay in full, were answered about 26% of the time, and wait times averaged about 45 minutes.

Currently, their website says 15-minute wait time during tax season and 27-minutes the rest of the year. We all know that’s fake news because we all know someone who has said they were on hold for 45 minutes or an hour, or even longer. To amuse yourself while on hold we recommend streaming impeachment speeches or even old episodes of American Horror Story because well, isn’t that what dealing with the IRS is.

This is super important to know: The IRS will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER call you up on the phone out of the blue. And they will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER text you.  NEVER, EVER!

If you are calling about your own account make sure you have all this stuff ready: Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number; birthdate, filing status, last year’s tax return, the return you are calling about, and any notices the IRS sent you. It would really suck to have to call back.

Business   800-829-4933

Disaster or Combat Zone Special Hotline      866-562-5227

Individual                                                         800-829-1040 (Cute!)

Refund Hotline                                                800-825-1954

TTY/TTD    800-829-4059

Visits to Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) (The Last Resort). Fortunately, nearly every tax challenge we have can be resolved either by correspondence, online or by telephone. If all else fails and you have to go in person, use this cool IRS tool to find out where to go, office hours, and to schedule an appointment. For an added bonus, the local telephone number is provided too.     Taxpayer Assistance Center Office Locator.

In FY 2019 2.3 million taxpayers visited a total of 324 TACs. Visits are appointment only but don’t be discouraged. 57% of the time your calls to schedule an appointment were answered.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?

  • The IRS is required to pay interest on amended return refunds if not processed within 45 days.
  • Telephone service wait times tend to be higher on Monday and Tuesday, during President’s Day weekend, and of course, right around the April filing deadline.
  • The training amount of $616 includes focuses on customer service AND empathy!
  • Our client service is so much better than the IRS’ customer service. So. Call Carol First!

info@accpas.com OR   727-327-1999.

We’ll be back next week. In the meantime, be sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

McAtee and Associates’ Disclaimer:

Our blog is intended for educational and awareness purposes.  The general information provided about taxes, accounting, and business-related topics is by no means intended to provide or constitute professional advice.  Reading our blog does not create a Client/CPA relationship between you and us.  The blog, including all contents posted by the author(s) as well as comments posted by visitors, should not be used as a substitute for professional advice or as a substitute for communicating with a competent, human professional.

Our blog posts are written using current information and current or proposed rules and regulations.  Information becomes old and outdated. Rules and regulations are frequently changed, added, amended, and/or left to expire.  This is extremely true with most things tax and to a lesser and slower extent, most things accounting.  We usually do not go back and update posted blogs.  Always check with your CPA or accountant regarding not only rules and regulations but available options and how it all applies to your fact pattern and you.

 

Posted in General Interest, IRS | Leave a comment

Series. Part 4 of 4. 2020 Legislative Changes to Retirement Plans.

This is the last of our four-part series: 2020 Legislative Changes to Retirement Plans. Just about two months ago, on December 20, 2019 President Trump signed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Act) approved by the Senate the day before and previously passed by the House in July 2019. It has been said this is the biggest bill hitting retirement planning since the Pension Protection Act of 2006. There’s really nothing new in it but it has created six substantial changes.

REINFORCING THE BASICS!

Like most legislation the goals of which are to expand, improve, and simplify, the primary goals of the SECURE Act are to expand retirement savings, improve plan administration, simplify existing rules, and preserve retirement income.

1. New Penalty-free Withdrawals for New Parents with New Kids. A couple of weeks back, Individual Retirement Accounts in 2020,  listed exceptions to early withdrawal of IRA funds. The Secure Act adds one: $5,000 tax free withdrawal for a new kid, whether by birth or adoption. This is $5,000 per kid and per parent (if both parents have an IRA) withdrawn within one year of birth. Five grand will buy a lot of diapers and wine.

2. Eligibility for Part-time Workers. Part-time Just Became Even More Part-time. This is good for employees 18 and older. It is easier to be eligible now as the required number of hours worked has decreased from 1,000 to 500. An employee must have worked at least 500 hours for the previous three consecutive years and be age 21 at the end of those three years. The count to 500 starts in 2021 making age 24 the first year of eligibility under the legislative change.

3. Eliminated Age Limitations on Contributing to IRAs. Betty White can be eligible again! You can contribute even after you are older than dirt as long as you still have a job. Betty White’s new job should be Hip Hop Squares. She is hilarious and of course was on the squares that started it all – Hollywood.

This is really good for the AARP crowd because people are working longer and this will have a positive impact on retirement savings. Even better, you only have to work as little as 500 hours a year or about 9 hours and 40 minutes a week. (see #2 above). This change now matches IRAs with 401 (K)s and Roths. Keep in mind there are still the other factors such as income, filing status, and eligible compensation.

4. Eligible Compensation Expanded. Some PhD and grad student income to include stipends and fellowships now count as eligible compensation (earned income) for IRA contribution purposes. Home health care workers who get paid with “difficulty of care” payments very deservedly catch a break. Because difficulty of care payments are not taxable, they are not eligible compensation. Difficulty of care payments remain nontaxable but are now considered eligible compensation for IRA and other plan contributions.

5. Increased Minimum Distribution Age. If you weren’t 70.5 by December 31,2019 you now don’t have to take RMDs from Traditional IRAs, 403(b)s, 457(b)s, and any defined contribution plan until age 72. This is pretty good because your earnings can grow a little bit more and you save taxes on 18 months of required minimum distributions.

6. Inherited IRAs. Bye-bye “Stretch” Provisions. This is some bad news for inheriting sizable IRAs. And for inheriting while you are in your peak earning years. The old stretch is the new shrink! In the past, a non-spouse beneficiary of an IRA or defined contribution plan like a 401(k) could stretch out RMDs from the plan over their own life expectancy. The strategy was to pass IRAs to younger Family members because the RMD would be lower, leaving more funds in the account to continue growing.

However, starting on Jan. 1, 2020, there are no more RMDs for an inherited Traditional or Roth IRA and a beneficiary (with exceptions) other than a spouse will have only 10 years, and not forever, after the year of death to empty the entire retirement account.
“Except for’ beneficiaries from the 10-year shrink provisions are: surviving spouses; minor children up until the age of majority; individuals within 10 years of age of the deceased; and, those who are chronically ill or disabled. You are also exempt if you are a current beneficiary already taking RMDs on January 1, 2020.

This is bad news for quite a few very big reasons. The shorter timeline will increase annual distribution amounts thereby possibly increasing tax liability in any or all of those 10 tax years. A range of breaks and benefits, not just from the IRS, could be adversely affected. It obliterates compound tax deferral. And it creates an immediate need for some sort of alternative tax strategy.

Potential Tax Strategies for The New Shrink.  As usual the first go to strategy for consideration is Roth Conversions. Typically, inherited Roth IRAs are subject to RMDs but without any taxable events. The TCJA’s lower tax rates still make it super sensible to convert before retiring or dying. Converting can help maximize overall wealth, lower taxes, and save your heirs from the pitfalls of the new shrink.

Qualified Charitable Contributions will remain an effective and generous way to reduce RMDs and overall account balance as will the $15,000 annual gift exclusion. Non-spouses are still without the option of a “rollover” so a specifically planned trustee to trustee transfer may help.

An inherited IRA will no longer provide lifetime income for a beneficiary. If this is the intent, one possible alternative could be a charitable remainder trust.

WRAPPING IT UP.

Who makes out the best? The Government! The SECURE Act alone is estimated to reap $1,570,000,000 a year for the next 10 years. To put that in a weekly amount – $30,192,307.69.

WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW?

• We strongly advise you to consult with your financial and estate planning advisors and attorneys. Secure your retirement plans now.
• Review beneficiary designations. Secure your retirement plans now.
• Review trusts that are beneficiaries of an IRA or 401K. Secure your retirement plans now.
• The SECURE Act requires 401(k) plan administrators to provide annual “lifetime income disclosure statements” to plan participants. These statements will show how much money you could get each month if your total 401(k) account balance were used to purchase an annuity. Secure your retirement plans now.

info@accpas.com OR 727-327-1999.

This is the last of our four-part series, but we’ll blog about something else next week. In the meantime be sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter; for whatever it is we’ll be posting.

McAtee and Associates’ Disclaimer:

Our blog is intended for educational and awareness purposes. The general information provided about taxes, accounting, and business-related topics is by no means intended to provide or constitute professional advice. Reading our blog does not create a Client/CPA relationship between you and us. The blog, including all contents posted by the author(s) as well as comments posted by visitors, should not be used as a substitute for professional advice or as a substitute for communicating with a competent, human professional.

Our blog posts are written using current information and current or proposed rules and regulations. Information becomes old and outdated. Rules and regulations are frequently changed, added, amended, and/or left to expire. This is extremely true with most things tax and to a lesser and slower extent, most things accounting. We usually do not go back and update posted blogs. Always check with your CPA or accountant regarding not only rules and regulations but available options and how it all applies to your fact pattern and you.

Posted in Retirement Planning, Tax Planning | Leave a comment

Self-employed Plans – SEP IRAs and SIMPLE

Series. Part 3 of 4. Self-employed Plans: SEP IRA and SIMPLE.

We have talked about retirement vehicles: Traditional & Roth IRAs. Last week we talked about a garage they can be parked in: Employer-provided retirement plans. In this second to last part of four we talk about another garage: Self-employed plans. In self-employed plans, self-employed people (sole proprietorships and partnerships), small business owners, independent contractors and gig workers park their vehicles: SEP IRAs, and SIMPLE. We hope that you set it up and max it out.

REINFORCING THE BASICS

What is a SEP IRA? Simplified Employee Pension. SEPs are traditional IRAs for self-employed or small business owners who set up individual accounts for themselves and their employees. Contributions are tax-deductible and grow tax-deferred until distributed. There are a couple of simple criteria for plan participation: a defined minimum compensation for the last two years; worked for the company any three of the last five years, and must be 21-years old.

What is a SIMPLE? Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees. This vehicle is for small businesses with 100 employees at most and offering no other retirement savings vehicle. For employees to be eligible there must have been past and expected annual compensation of $5,000.

SEPs and SIMPLEs are in addition to Traditional and Roth IRAs.

HOW LONG HAVE THESE BEEN AROUND?

The SEP debuted in 1978. Remember, the 401K first appeared that year too. Disco was the rage and Elton John had no Billboard hits that year.

The SIMPLE’s first public appearance was 1997. Millennials were growing up. Elton John had the number one Billboard hit that year and the Spice Girls ruled the world.

HOW MUCH CAN BE CONTRIBUTED IN 2020?

SEP IRA. SEPs are not salary-deferred and there is no catch-up, meaning employees contribute $0 through work. Only the employer contributes, making this a profit-sharing plan. This contribution is the lesser of up to 25% of each employee’s salary or $57,000. But keep in mind an employee may be able to make traditional contributions in 2020 of $7,000/$8,000 on their own to the SEP or open up their own IRA in addition to the SEP established on their behalf by their employer. If you are self-employed total contributions are limited to $57,000 in 2020 and is calculated on net income.

Now, if you have a 401K and a SEP from your employer OR an employer 401K and a self-employed SEP Call Carol First!

SIMPLE. The employee 2020 max it out amount is $13,500 plus the catch-up amount of $3,000.  Like the SEP, if you want to save even more for retirement you can also open a separate Traditional or Roth IRA so set it up and max it out.

IS THERE AN INCOME LIMIT FOR CONTRIBUTING?

 SEP IRAs. Employers can contribute 25% of employee compensation and 20% of self-employed net income up to a 2020 maximum of $57,000. Minimum compensation is $600 and maximum is $285,000 in 2020. We’ll be sure to let you know the 2019 amounts.

SIMPLE IRAs. The income limit is $285,000 in 2018 and we’ll be sure to update you with the 2019 amount.

HOW MUCH OF MY 2020 CONTRIBUTION IS TAX DEDUCTIBLE?

SEP IRAs.   Remember employees cannot contribute to a SEP through salary deferral or pretax contributions.

SIMPLE IRAs. Employee contributions are salary reductions and therefore considered pre-tax and not technically tax-deductible.

HOW MUCH IS THAT MATCHING AMOUNT IN 2020?

SEP IRAs. No matching amount.

SIMPLE IRAs. The employer typically must match the salary reduction $ for $ up to 3% of entire calendar-year compensation, not limited by annual compensation of $285,000 in 2020 OR make non-elective contributions of 2% of employee compensation up to the annual compensation. These non-elective contributions MUST be given to ALL eligible employees whether they contribute or not.

CAN I CONTRIBUTE AFTER I RETIRE?

SEP IRAs. No. But as long as an employee is an eligible participant by meeting the criteria, the employer must keep contributing, even after 70 ½ and while the employee is taking RMDs starting at age 72 (upped from 70 1/2).

Simple IRAs. No.

WHEN CAN I GET MY MONEY?

SEPs & SIMPLEs. After age 59 ½: If you were hoping to hang onto it and leave it untouched for a while, you can. Until you are 72. This is a change from 70 ½ which is the topic of next week’s blog. SEP AND SIMPLE IRAs are subject to RMD, the government makes you start taking your money out annually as a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). You can take out more than the RMD but not less. And if you don’t take out the minimum, the punishment can be pretty hefty as that RMD amount not withdrawn is taxed at a whopping 50%. You have to take it out but you don’t have to spend it, you can put in into a Roth IRA or even a bank certificate of deposit. RMDs come into play with ALL pre-tax retirement accounts.

Just like being responsible for the accuracy of your tax returns, you are responsible for the accuracy of the RMD. There are folks who will help you though, namely the IRA custodian or plan administrator.

WHAT IF I NEED SOME CASH BEFORE I’M 59 1/2?

If you only need a few bucks for a month or two you can take it out of any of these plans but you MUST put it back in 60 days. And be sure to tell whomever to not withhold taxes or else that check could be 20% light. But if you have no intent to pay it back then the answer to this is mostly the same as last week too.

Sure, you can withdraw from the SEP & SIMPLE IRAs. Remember the withdrawn amount will increase your income and possibly put you in a higher tax bracket AND THEN there is the punishment. There are times when you can take your money out without being punished (the 10% penalty).

These are times of:

  • Paying for health insurance premiums when unemployed for at least 12 consecutive weeks;
  • Paying for medical expenses which total more than 10% of your adjusted gross income;
  • Paying for college for yourself, your spouse, your kids, and even your grandkids;
  • Disability as defined by the IRS and backed up by a doctor’s verification;
  • Inheriting an IRA from your spouse and even folks you aren’t or were never married to;
  • Buying, building, or rebuilding a house for the first time for yourself, your spouse, both sets of parents and grandparents and all the kids and grandkids BUT only up to $10,000;
  • Serving your Country (Reserve and National Guard) for more than 179 days;
  • Withdrawing on a specific schedule (SEPP – Substantially Equal Periodic Payments); and,
  • Levying by the IRS themselves.

If you think you qualify for an exception Call Carol First!

WHAT OTHER THINGS SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT SELF-EMPLOYED PLANS?

 There are time frames and deadlines in which these retirement accounts must be established. So, Call Carol First!

  • When compared to “qualified” employer-provided plans, qualified meaning complex and complicated, these plans are easier and cheaper to set up.
  • SEPs and SIMPLES can be rolled over from and to between pretty much everything except for Roths.
  • With SIMPLEs there is no employed-on December 31st rule meaning employer contributes as long as employee is eligible whether they quit or kick the bucket.
  • Also, with SIMPLEs if you withdraw before age 59 1/2 and within the first two years of the SIMPLE, the penalty is not 10% BUT 25%.

 There are exceptions to most rules and more than one way to cook an egg so if you are considering establishing a self-employed plan for yourself and/or employees, contributing or withdrawing funds, changing your contribution strategy, rolling over or transferring, converting or recharacterizing existing retirement accounts, or have recently inherited an IRA it is super important to reach out to McAtee and Associates for answers and guidance. Call Carol First!

info@accpas.com OR   727-327-1999.

Be sure to check back here next week for the last part of our series, 2020 Legislative Changes for Retirement Saving. In the meantime like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.  And remember to set it up and max it out.

McAtee and Associates’ Disclaimer:

Our blog is intended for educational and awareness purposes.  The general information provided about taxes, accounting, and business-related topics is by no means intended to provide or constitute professional advice.  Reading our blog does not create a Client/CPA relationship between you and us.  The blog, including all contents posted by the author(s) as well as comments posted by visitors, should not be used as a substitute for professional advice or as a substitute for communicating with a competent, human professional.

Our blog posts are written using current information and current or proposed rules and regulations.  Information becomes old and outdated. Rules and regulations are frequently changed, added, amended, and/or left to expire.  This is extremely true with most things tax and to a lesser and slower extent, most things accounting.  We do not go back and update posted blogs.  Always check with your CPA or accountant regarding not only rules and regulations but available options and how it all applies to your fact pattern and you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in General Interest, Individual Taxes, Retirement Planning, Taxes | Leave a comment

Employer-provided Plans: 401Ks, 403Bs, and 457Bs.

Series. Part 2 of 4. Employer-provided Plans: 401Ks, 403Bs, and 457Bs.

In this series of four, we are talking about various tax advantageous retirement and savings vehicles and their maximum contribution amounts. We hope that you check on your progress towards maxing it out.

Last week we talked about the vehicles: Traditional & Roth IRAs. This week we continue with garages they can be parked in: Employer-provided retirement plans: The 401K, 403B, and 457B. An employer-provided plan is the big parking garage that you and all your co-workers park your cars in.

REINFORCING THE BASICS!

What is a 401K? A 401K is a retirement plan offered by private employers. Some employers might even pitch in towards your golden years as well by matching, basically giving you some money that you can spend decades from now. Putting money in IS ALWAYS tax deductible. Taking money out IS ALWAYS taxable as ordinary income and unless you have an IRS approved good excuse there is a whopping punishment if you take it out before you are 59 ½ years old. Remember from last week the whopping punishment is a 10% penalty blasted onto your tax return.

What is a 403B? A 403B is a 401K for public schools, not for profit hospitals, charities, (mostly the ones you would donate to) and clergy that work for themselves.

457Bs are 401Ks for state and local government workers. That would be the DMV employee who took that not so attractive picture of you and the police officer you hope didn’t clock you on the way to work this morning.

HOW LONG HAVE THESE BEEN AROUND?

The 401K’s first public appearance was way back in 1978 when disco was popular and the initial max it out employee contribution was $45,475.

The 403B’s first public appearance was way, way back in 1957 when Elvis Presley was All Shook Up and the initial max it out contribution was who can remember?

Let’s just say the 457B has been around for a minute.

Congress invented the catchup contribution for people over 50 back in 2001. In practice, when you get a snail mail postcard promising you a free tote bag when you sign up for AARP, you will know you can now play catch up in your retirement accounts if you so desire.

HOW MUCH CAN I CONTRIBUTE IN 2020?

For 401Ks, 403Bs, and 457Bs, the employee max it out amount is the lower of your salary X the maximum percentage limit OR $ amount as spelled out in the employer plan OR $19,500 and add $6,500 if you’re over age 50 and want to catch-up. This is the tax deductible, pre-tax, tax-free contribution amount. The employer max it out is $37,500 for a total of $57,000.

If employer-offered, these plans also have an after-tax contribution feature that allows for up to $57,000 in contributions and works like this: $57,000 – $19,500 – Employer contributions = can be contributed by you after-tax.

IS THERE AN INCOME LIMIT FOR CONTRIBUTING?

It depends if your 401K, 403B, or 457B is Traditional or Roth. There is no limit if it’s Traditional. Roth IRA contributions are limited by Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI). If you are single, head of household or married filing separately: you can max it out if MAGI is less than $124,000; contribute some if between $124,000 and $139,000; and, NO contributions at all if MAGI is more than $139,000. For married folks those amounts are: $196,000 and $206,000.

HOW MUCH OF MY 2020 CONTRIBUTION IS TAX DEDUCTIBLE?

Traditional 401Ks, 403Bs, and 457Bs are the same as Traditional IRAs and we blogged that last week: Series. Part 1 of 4. Individual Retirement Accounts: Traditional & Roth.

Roth 401K, 403B, and 457B contributions are never tax deductible.

HOW MUCH IS THAT MATCHING AMOUNT IN 2020?

For 401Ks, 403Bs, and 457Bs, most employers will generally match 3% to 6% of what you contribute with a max it out amount of $37,500.

CAN I CONTRIBUTE AFTER I RETIRE?

You are no longer working for this employer, so…no. But if you have a Traditional IRA you can contribute for as long as you want, as the 70 ½ has been legislated away. And if you have a Roth IRA you can contribute no matter how old you become, so max it out.

WHEN CAN I GET MY MONEY?

Short answer is 59 ½. If this next part sounds familiar, it is because you read it last week. Proceed to next section.

After age 59 ½: Traditional AND Roth. If you were hoping to hang onto it and leave it untouched for a while you can. Until you are 72, then if you have Traditional IRAs the government makes you start taking your money out annually as a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). You can take out more than the RMD but not less. And if you don’t take out the minimum, the punishment can be HUUUGE!, as that RMD amount not withdrawn is taxed at a whopping 50%. Take it out and spend it or not spend it, or put it in a Roth IRA. Take it out it even if it means sacrificing more earnings. Just Do It.

Just like being responsible for the accuracy of your tax returns, you are responsible for the accuracy of the RMD. There are folks who will help you though, namely the IRA custodian or plan administrator.

There is no RMD with a Roth IRA. You are not forced to start withdrawing, not at 72, not at 82, not even at 92, not even after you die because there is no RMD for your beneficiary either.

WHAT IF I NEED SOME CASH BEFORE I’M 59 1/2?

The answer to this is the same as last week too – You can skip this part.

Sure, you can withdraw from the Traditional IRA. Remember the withdrawn amount will increase your income and possibly put you in a higher tax bracket AND THEN there is the punishment. There are times when you can take your money out of Traditional IRAs without being punished.

These are times of:

→Paying for health insurance premiums when unemployed for at least 12 consecutive weeks;
→Paying for medical expenses which total more than 10% of your adjusted gross income;
 →Paying for college for yourself, your spouse, your kids, and even your grandkids;
 →Disability as defined by the IRS and backed up by a doctor’s verification;
 →Inheriting an IRA from your spouse and even folks you aren’t or were never married to;
 →Buying, building, or rebuilding a house for the first time for yourself, your spouse, both sets of parents and grandparents and all the kids and grandkids;
 →Serving your Country (Reserve and National Guard) for more than 179 days;
 →Withdrawing on a specific schedule (SEPP – Substantially Equal Periodic Payments);
 →And, there’s the time the IRS personally snatches unpaid taxes.

There are two kinds of money in Roth IRAs. 1. Principal – The money you put in/contributions and 2. Earnings – Interest, dividends, capital gains, and the like. Remember withdrawals are tax-free but if the money taken out is earnings, a 10% penalty will be blasted on your tax return.

WHAT OTHER THINGS SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT EMPLOYER-PROVIDED PLANS?

 →If your employer offers a 401K/403B and a 457B plan you can contribute to both.
 →Some 457Bs offer a turbo catch-up three years before retirement age, turbo being twice the annual pre-tax contribution limit. In 2020 the turbo amount is $39,000.
 →Even if you have a 401K at work, if you can swing it, start an IRA. Potentially tax deductible and potentially better return than interest earned on a savings account.

There are exceptions to most rules and more than one way to cook an egg. So, if you are considering contributing or withdrawing funds, changing your contribution strategy, rolling over or transferring, converting or recharacterizing existing retirement accounts, or recently inherited an IRA it is super important to reach out to McAtee and Associates for answers and guidance. #CallCarolFirst!

info@accpas.com OR 727-327-1999.

Check back here next week for part three of our four-part series: self-employed retirement plans and be sure to check us out on and ; for whatever it is we’ll be posting. And remember to max it out.

McAtee and Associates’ Disclaimer:
Our blog is intended for educational and awareness purposes. The general information provided about taxes, accounting, and business-related topics is by no means intended to provide or constitute professional advice. Reading our blog does not create a Client/CPA relationship between you and us. The blog, including all contents posted by the author(s) as well as comments posted by visitors, should not be used as a substitute for professional advice or as a substitute for communicating with a competent, human professional.

Our blog posts are written using current information and current or proposed rules and regulations. Information becomes old and outdated. Rules and regulations are frequently changed, added, amended, and/or left to expire. This is extremely true with most things tax and to a lesser and slower extent, most things accounting. We do not go back and update posted blogs. Always check with your CPA or accountant regarding not only rules and regulations but available options and how it all applies to your fact pattern and you.

Posted in Business Taxes, Individual Taxes, Retirement Planning, Tax Planning, Taxes | Leave a comment

Individual Retirement Accounts: Traditional & Roth

In this series of four, we will look at various tax advantageous retirement and savings vehicles and their maximum contribution amounts for 2020. We hope that you check on your progress towards maxing it out.

Let’s start with the well-known retirement plans that many folks contribute to on their own – self-funded Individual Retirement Accounts: Traditional and Roth. Congress established these “tax breaks” to encourage us to save for our retirement. These are the vehicles you go out and purchase and drive on your own.

REINFORCING THE BASICS!

What is a Traditional IRA? Putting money in IS ALWAYS tax deductible. Taking money out IS ALWAYS taxable as ordinary income and sometimes there is a whopping punishment if you take it out before you are 59 ½ years old. A whopping punishment is an IRS “early withdrawal penalty” and it is 10% of the amount you take out while being too young (premature distribution).

What is a Roth IRA? Putting money in IS NEVER tax deductible. Taking that money out IS NEVER taxable but sometimes there is that whopping punishment if you take it out before you are 59 ½ years old.

HOW LONG HAVE THESE BEEN AROUND?

The Traditional IRA’s first public appearance was way, way back in 1975 and the initial maxing it out contribution was $1,500.

The Roth IRA’s first public appearance was way back in 1997 and the initial maxing it out
contribution was $2,000.

HOW MUCH CAN I CONTRIBUTE IN 2020?

For both Traditional and Roth IRAs, the maxing it out amount is $6,000 and add a $1,000 if you’re over age 50 and want to catch-up. There is no change from 2019.
If you haven’t maxed out by New Year’s Eve 2019 and you intend to contribute before Tax Deadline Day 2020, you have an opportunity to opt for the contribution going into 2019 or 2020.

IS THERE AN INCOME LIMIT FOR CONTRIBUTING TO AN IRA?

Not for Traditional IRAs.

But Roth IRA contributions are limited by Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI). If you are not married yet,) for better or for worse, head of household or married filing separately: you can max it out if MAGI, (not MAGA!), is less than $124,000; contribute some if between $124,000 and $139,000; and, NO contributions at all if MAGI is more than $139,000. For married folks filing jointly and Qualifying Widow/er those amounts are: $196,000 and $206,000.

HOW MUCH OF MY 2020 CONTRIBUTION IS TAX DEDUCTIBLE?

For Traditional IRAs how much of the contribution being deductible is limited by how much you make and if you have a retirement plan through your employer.

If you are single, head of household or married filing separately and have a plan through work: the whole contribution is tax deductible if MAGI is less than $65,000; partly deductible between $65,000 and $75,000; and, not at all tax deductible if you make over $75,000; at which point you should consider contributing to a Roth IRA. For married folks filing jointly and Qualifying Widow/er those amounts are: $104,000 and $124,000.

If your spouse has a plan through work and you don’t, the amounts are a little bit higher: $196,000 and $206,000.

If you are self-funding an IRA on your own then the entire contribution up to maxing it out
is fully deductible.

Roth IRA contributions are never tax deductible and the account grows tax-free as well.

CAN I CONTRIBUTE AFTER I RETIRE?

It used to be no more contributing to your Traditional IRA after you turn 70 ½ even if you still haul yourself off to work instead of sleeping in or doing fun stuff. Starting in 2020, there is no more age cap on contributing to your Traditional IRA.

Contributions to Roth IRAs are not stopped when you turn 72. So, you can max it out.
no matter how old you are.

WHEN CAN I GET MY MONEY?

After age 59 ½: Traditional AND Roth. If you were hoping to hang onto it and leave it untouched for a while, you can. Until you are 72, then if you have Traditional IRAs government makes you start taking your money out annually as a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). This age limit increased in December 2019. Look for our blog February 10, 2020 where we talk about the SECURE ACT. You can take out more than the RMD but not less. And if you don’t take out the minimum, the punishment can be HUUUGE!, as that RMD amount not withdrawn is taxed at a whopping 50%. Take it out and spend it or not spend it, or put it in a Roth IRA. Take it out even if it means sacrificing more earnings. Just Do It.

Just like being responsible for the accuracy of your tax returns, you are responsible for the accuracy of the RMD. There are folks who will help you though, namely the IRA custodian or plan administrator – The Mechanics.

There is no RMD with a Roth IRA. You are not forced to start withdrawing, not at 72, not at 82, not at 92, not even after you die because there is no RMD for your beneficiary either.

WHAT IF I NEED SOME CASH BEFORE I’M 59 1/2?

Sure, you can withdraw from the Traditional IRA. Remember the withdrawn amount will increase your income and possibly put you in a higher tax bracket AND THEN there is the punishment. There are times when you can take your money out of Traditional IRAs without being punished.

These are times of:

 ⇒ Paying for health insurance premiums when unemployed for at least 12 consecutive weeks;
 ⇒ Paying for medical expenses which total more than 10% of your adjusted gross income;
 ⇒ Paying for college for yourself, your spouse, your kids, and even your grandkids;
 ⇒ Permanent disability as defined by the IRS and backed up by a doctor’s verification;
 ⇒ Inheriting an IRA from your spouse and even folks you aren’t or were never married to;
 ⇒ Buying, building, or rebuilding a house for the first time for yourself, your spouse, both sets of parents and grandparents and all the kids and grandkids;
 ⇒ Serving your Country (Reserve and National Guard) for more than 179 days;
 ⇒ Withdrawing on a specific schedule (SEPP – Substantially Equal Periodic Payments);
 ⇒ And, there’s the time the IRS personally snatches unpaid taxes.

There are two kinds of money in Roth IRAs. 1. Principal – The money you put in/contributions and 2. Earnings – Interest, dividends, capital gains, and the like. Remember withdrawals are tax-free but if the money taken out is earnings, a 10% penalty will be blasted on your tax return.

WHAT OTHER THINGS SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT INDIVIDUAL RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS?

 ⇒ First, that they are individual and not joint. A married couple can’t open one together. And neither can your running club or drinking buddies.
 ⇒ If you are contributing to both a Traditional IRA AND a Roth IRA, the total amount of money you can contribute to both accounts can’t exceed the annual limit or earned income (money you make), whichever is the lesser.
 ⇒ If you do exceed it, with an ineligible contribution, the IRS might punish you with a 6% excessive-contribution penalty.
 You can never borrow and pay back money from any IRA. This is an absolute no-no. A no-no is an IRS “prohibited transaction”.

WRAPPING IT UP.

A Traditional IRA is the retirement vehicle to drive for those who: prefer immediate tax deductions lowering the out of pocket cost for the contribution or believe their tax bracket will be lower in those golden, retirement years.

A Roth IRA is the retirement vehicle to drive for those who: can afford to contribute the full $6,000/$7,000 without lowering the out of pocket cost or believe their tax bracket will be higher in those golden, retirement years.

There are exceptions to most rules and more than one way to cook an egg. So, if you are considering contributing or withdrawing funds, changing your contribution strategy, rolling over or transferring, converting or recharacterizing existing retirement accounts, or have recently inherited an IRA, it is super important to reach out to Carol McAtee and Associates for answers and guidance.  Call Carol First!

info@accpas.com OR 727-327-1999.

Be sure to check back here next week for the second of our four-part series, Employer-provided Plans and check us out on and Facebook and Twitter for whatever it is we’ll be posting.  And remember to max it out.

McAtee and Associates’ Disclaimer:

Our blog is intended for educational and awareness purposes. The general information provided about taxes, accounting, and business-related topics is by no means intended to provide or constitute professional advice. Reading our blog does not create a Client/CPA relationship between you and us. The blog, including all contents posted by the author(s) as well as comments posted by visitors, should not be used as a substitute for professional advice or as a substitute for communicating with a competent, human professional.

Our blog posts are written using current information and current or proposed rules and regulations. Information becomes old and outdated. Rules and regulations are frequently changed, added, amended, and/or left to expire. This is extremely true with most things tax and to a lesser and slower extent, most things accounting. We do not go back and update posted blogs. Always check with your CPA or accountant regarding not only rules and regulations but available options and how it all applies to your fact pattern and you.

Posted in Individual Taxes, Retirement Planning | Leave a comment

Happy New Year!

The Holidays are officially over.  Welcome to this week’s blog: Happy New Year!

REINFORCING THE BASICS.

All of us at McAtee & Associates wish all of you a Happy New Year filled with all the joys and successes, fun and good times that make the Memories of a Lifetime.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?

  • Shameless Plug. Our New Year is Happy when you make an appointment. Our New Year is Happy when you upload your tax docs into your piece of our client portal. Our New Year is Happy when you email us all your pdf’d tax info (especially the organizer). Our New Year is Happy when you drop stuff off and say hello. Make our New Year Happy!

info@accpas.com OR   727-327-1999.

Check back here next week when we write real blogs again. If there is anything you would like to know more about, leave a comment and we’ll blog it. And be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter; for whatever it is we’ll be posting.

McAtee and Associates’ Disclaimer:

Our blog is intended for educational and awareness purposes.  The general information provided about taxes, accounting, and business-related topics is by no means intended to provide or constitute professional advice.  Reading our blog does not create a Client/CPA relationship between you and us.  The blog, including all contents posted by the author(s) as well as comments posted by visitors, should not be used as a substitute for professional advice or as a substitute for communicating with a competent, human professional.

Our blog posts are written using current information and current or proposed rules and regulations.  Information becomes old and outdated. Rules and regulations are frequently changed, added, amended, and/or left to expire.  This is extremely true with most things tax and to a lesser and slower extent, most things accounting.  We do not go back and update posted blogs.  Always check with your CPA or accountant regarding not only rules and regulations but available options and how it all applies to your fact pattern and you.

 

 

 

Posted in Holiday | Leave a comment

Year-end To-do List.

Here’s a what to do before December 31st checklist to help you prepare for upcoming tax return preparation.

REINFORCING THE BASICS.

Keep in mind that the standard deduction is still increased resulting from the 2017 TCJA; therefore, you may or may not get a tax benefit.

Business.

Change of address. If you’ve moved, submit to IRS Form 8822-B, Change of Address or Responsible Party-Business. Or inform your tax preparer of the change. Form 8822-B

Count Count Count. Schedule and staff your year end periodic inventory. Timely, accurate inventory counts provide comparability between periods and enhance the decision-making process regarding purchasing and pricing levels.

Fixed Assets. Review the fixed asset detail listing for assets no longer owned. Inform your tax preparer which assets were abandoned, sold, stolen, or thrown out. This could make accounting records and tax returns more accurate and could even lower tangible taxes.

Independent contractors. Ensure you have on file properly completed Form W-9s for each independent contractor you paid $600 or more in calendar year 2019. For more information about W-9s, Ask and You Better Receive. What To Know About Form W-9.

Meals. It is crucial for 2018 and beyond to separate Meals and Entertainment. One Account “Meals” and one account “Entertainment”. If you have Travel, separate it as well. Write good descriptions and fill in the memo lines for all expenditures. If you eat at an entertainment event, separate the food and entertainment cost portions. Within meals it would be beneficial from a tax perspective to distinguish between 50% deductible and 100% deductible or from a management perspective have an account for each:

1. 50% deductible. Meals provided for employer convenience.
2. 50% deductible. Business and employee travel meals.
3. 50% deductible. Meals with clients.
4. 100% deductible. Office snacks and beverages and office parties.

Ensure these costs are separated by either deductibility or meal type, preferably meal type, BEFORE submitting to your tax preparer.  If you are claiming employer convenience be sure to have a company policy and data supporting the policy. Piling your workers into the back of the pick up truck for a Burger King trip is probably NOT employer convenience.

Phone use. Properly allocate business and personal use of cell phone to include purchases of apps and hardware. Paying from your business account does not make personal use a business expense.

S-Corp shareholders. Ensure you have reasonable compensation especially if you took loans and or distributions.
If you are a greater than two-percent shareholder: Any health, disability, or accident insurance premiums paid by the S-Corp on your behalf must be reported as taxable wages to you, subject to federal and state income tax withholdings.
If you have not been including in your paychecks the premiums paid throughout the calendar year 2019, be sure to add the whole amount to one of these last 2019 payroll checks.
Also, as a reminder – if you paid any of the premiums yourself, the corporation must reimburse you by December 31st, 2019.

Individual.

Change of address. If you’ve moved, submit to IRS Form 8822, Change of Address. Or inform your tax preparer of the change. Form 8822

Donations.  If you plan on itemizing, make your donation. Obtain written or digital receipts that include date and donee organization acknowledgement for amounts $250 and more. You’d be surprised how many Goodwill and Salvation Army receipts are missing this required information. If you received something in return, that something must be deducted from the amount contributed. Special rules apply to vehicles, inventory, and investments.

ITINs. ITINS expiring December 31st should be renewed before federal tax returns are filed: ITINs not used on a federal return in the last three years and ALL ITINs issued prior to 2013 with the middle numbers of 83, 84, 85, 86, and 87. How Do I Renew my ITIN?

Manage expectations. If you claim the Earned Income Tax or Additional Child Tax Credit, don’t expect a refund before mid-February 2020 and more than likely not until the end of the month. This is the 2015’s PATH Act attempt to reduce fraud.

Required Minimum Distributions. Taxpayers who are 70 and a 1/2 and over can still take a required minimum distribution from traditional IRA, SIMPLE IRA, SEP IRA, or retirement plan accounts. Taxpayers who reached 70 and a 1/2 in 2019 can wait until April 1, 2020, to receive their first required minimum distribution. If you do not take any distributions, or not enough distributions, you might have to pay a (punishment) 50% excise tax on the amount not distributed as required.

Salary deferrals. Maximize employee elective deferral to 401K: $19,000 in 2019 and $19,500 for 2020. Maximize employee elective deferral to SIMPLE 401K: $13,000 in 2019 and $13,500 in 2020.

info@accpas.com OR 727-327-1999.

If there is anything you would like to know more about, leave a comment and we’ll blog it. And be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter; for whatever it is we’ll be posting.

McAtee and Associates’ Disclaimer:
Our blog is intended for educational and awareness purposes. The general information provided about taxes, accounting, and business-related topics is by no means intended to provide or constitute professional advice. Reading our blog does not create a Client/CPA relationship between you and us. The blog, including all contents posted by the author(s) as well as comments posted by visitors, should not be used as a substitute for professional advice or as a substitute for communicating with a competent, human professional.

Our blog posts are written using current information and current or proposed rules and regulations. Information becomes old and outdated. Rules and regulations are frequently changed, added, amended, and/or left to expire. This is extremely true with most things tax and to a lesser and slower extent, most things accounting. We do not go back and update posted blogs. Always check with your CPA or accountant regarding not only rules and regulations but available options and how it all applies to your fact pattern and you.

Posted in Accounting, Business Taxes, Individual Taxes, Taxes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Hitting Those Year-end Numbers-Business Taxpayers.

If you’re thinking 2019 profit has resulted in a bit more taxable income than you would like here are a few things you can do to do a bit of business tax planning. You can also call Carol and make an appointment. She’d love to see you. Hurry though, as appointment times are filling up quickly.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT.

Depreciation is super important from both book and tax perspectives primarily because it is a non cash deduction that reduces profit and taxable income. For tax purposes though it is possible to get the whole pie in one sitting and not just a piece of it.

100% First-year Bonus Depreciation. The TCJA took bonus depreciation from 50% all the way to 100% for big stuff (qualifying assets) you buy and start using (placed in service) between September 28, 2017, and December 31, 2022. A few even bigger ticket items that last longer, like airplanes and other transportation equipment have until December 31, 2023.

This is a great planning opportunity, three more years to purchase capital assets that can make your business better, faster, stronger and more profitable. Starting in 2023 the bonus depreciation percentage is reduced yearly by 20%, until it’s gone in 2026 (or 2027 for those longer lasting, bigger ticket items).

Bonus depreciation is allowed for both new and used qualifying assets. This means as long as an asset with a MACRS recovery period of 20 years or less is “new to you”, you can get the maximum allowable deduction. This pretty much includes tangible, personal property as long as you didn’t use it before you bought it. So, if you are in the market for a vehicle, office equipment, heavy equipment or machinery the current, estimated tax savings are huge. Even better, the TCJA threw in off the shelf computer and business software as qualifying assets.

Keep in mind that Bonus Depreciation cannot be taken when the depreciable item is purchased from a related person. There are quite a few related persons relationships. Common ones in small business transactions are:
1. An individual and a member of his/her family, including a spouse, child, parent, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, ancestor, and lineal descendant;
2. A corporation and an individual who directly or indirectly owns more than 10% of the value of the outstanding stock of that corporation;
3. Two corporations that are members of the same controlled group; and,
4. Two S corporations, and an S corporation and a regular corporation, if the same persons own more than 10% of the value of the outstanding stock of each corporation.

Other related person relationships are found within and between partnerships, estates and trusts, and grantors and fiduciaries to name a few. We will be discussing related persons in a future blog.

Also, Bonus Depreciation is mandatory; you can, however, elect out of it. The opt out will apply to everything placed in service that year in that class of property.

Planning Tip. Bonus Depreciation is not limited to business income; it can be used to generate a net operating loss (NOL). The benefit here is NOLs can be carried forward.
Planning Tip. There is no Bonus Depreciation for HVAC items. If you make any HVAC purchases and installations, use Section 179.
Planning Tip. Generally, you can buy things from in-laws and step parents/children.

Expanded Section 179 First-Year Depreciation Deductions. The TCJA was also very good to Section 179 Depreciation Deductions. Section 179 is now HUUUUGE. The maximum first-year deduction has more than DOUBLED to a whopping $1,020,000 and is not completely phased out until $2.5 mil. Real property, though, is still NOT included!

The TCJA also made Section 179 even bigger by adding something new called Qualified Improvement Property (QIP). QIP makes the inside of real property you don’t live in or rent better unless it makes the building bigger, is inside structural framework, or is an elevator/escalator. QIP is also fire protection systems, alarm and security systems. And it gets better – roofs, even though they are on the outside, count as QIP.

And HVAC counts as QIP (and is not eligible for bonus depreciation). This will be a future blog topic.

The TCJA also provides a benefit to lodging entities, tangible personal property like beds, TVs and the usually ugly wall hangings – all can be “179’d”.

Keep in mind, that like all things tax, the deduction is subject to several limitations including taxpayer business income limitations and related person restrictions.

Planning Tip. When both 100% first-year bonus depreciation and the Sec. 179 deduction are available for the same asset, it’s generally more advantageous to claim 100% bonus depreciation, because there are no limitations on that break.
Planning Tip. Disallowed Section 179 Depreciation Deductions can be carried forward.

De Minimis Safe Harbor Election.  This really cool you don’t have to depreciate mechanism is continued under the TCJA as long as what you buy isn’t inventory related (UNICAP rules). Basically, as long as a single item doesn’t cost more than $5,000 if you’re an audit client and $2,500 if you’re not audited, the expenditure goes straight to the income statement. If you’re not audited there is no requirement for a written capitalization policy.

The election is properly made by attaching a statement to each year’s timely filed return.

Planning Tip. In addition to more immediate tax savings, this election has the added benefit of reduced record keeping time.

Passenger Vehicles Used for Business. This is the under 6,000 pounds category that includes car, light trucks and vans. Maximum depreciation deductions allowed for these vehicles placed in service in 2019:

Tax Year Less than 50% use OR Adopts out of Bonus Depreciation More than 50% use OR Bonus Depreciation
2019 $10,100 $18,100
2020 $16,100 $16,100
2021 $9,700 $9,700
Thereafter & Forever More $5,760 $5,760

There is a whole other separate list of rules for leased vehicles that are valued at greater than $50,000, the primary one being inclusion amounts. Inclusion amounts are nominal amounts that are added to the lessee’s personal income every year of the vehicle lease. Inclusion amounts also kick in with some other types of property when business use falls to below 50%.

Planning Tip. Keep business use over 50%.

Cash vs Accrual. The TCJA has made the cash method of accounting available to more small businesses than ever before by increasing annual gross receipts from 5 million to 25 million. This is a huge win for C-Corps and businesses with inventory.

Planning Tip. Cash basis makes it much easier to shift income by accelerating and deferring income and expense items.
Planning Tip. Cash basis defers revenue solely from the tax perspective with no impact on book earnings. When receivables are greater than payables, defer the revenue/taxable income to the next year.

Retirement Contributions.  SEP Plans. If you own a small business and haven’t yet set up a tax-favored retirement plan for yourself, you can establish a simplified employee pension (SEP). Unlike other types of small business retirement plans, a SEP can be created this year and still generate a deduction on last year’s return.

In fact, if you’re self-employed and timely extend your calendar-year 2019 personal tax return, you’ll have until October 15, 2020, to take care of the paperwork and make a deductible contribution for last year. The deductible contribution can be up to:

20% of your 2019 self-employment income, or
25% of your 2019 salary if you work for your own corporation.

The absolute maximum amount you can contribute for the 2019 tax year is $56,000.

Planning Tip. You may not want a SEP if your business has employee because you might have to cover them and make contributions to their accounts. That could be cost prohibitive.
Planning Tip. A lot of bang for this buck, not only less tax paid but more savings growth.

Christmas Wish List. Perhaps the very best way to lower 2019’s business income is to reward employees with a Holiday Bonus. Holiday bonuses are considered by the IRS to be discretionary so they are not subject to overtime pay rules. Nothing makes an employee feel appreciated like a bonus.
Planning Tip. There is much more bang in a buck that gives a bonus than a buck that pays income tax.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?

 → The last day to accomplish most 2019 planning goals is December 31.
 → Both Bonus Depreciation and Section 179 are not prorated, meaning if you buy it December 31st AND put it into play December 31st, you get 100% of the allowable deduction.
 → Estates and trusts cannot take (elect) Section 179.
 → Qualified leasehold improvement property, qualified restaurant property and qualified retail improvement property are no longer separately defined and no longer have a 15-year recovery period under the new law. If you’re interested in this let us know and we can make it a future blog topic.

info@accpas.com OR 727-327-1999.

If there is anything you would like to know more about, leave a comment and we’ll blog it. And be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter; for whatever it is we’ll be posting.

McAtee and Associates’ Disclaimer:
Our blog is intended for educational and awareness purposes. The general information provided about taxes, accounting, and business-related topics is by no means intended to provide or constitute professional advice. Reading our blog does not create a Client/CPA relationship between you and us. The blog, including all contents posted by the author(s) as well as comments posted by visitors, should not be used as a substitute for professional advice or as a substitute for communicating with a competent, human professional.

Our blog posts are written using current information and current or proposed rules and regulations. Information becomes old and outdated. Rules and regulations are frequently changed, added, amended, and/or left to expire. This is extremely true with most things tax and to a lesser and slower extent, most things accounting. We do not go back and update posted blogs. Always check with your CPA or accountant regarding not only rules and regulations but available options and how it all applies to your fact pattern and you.

Posted in Business Taxes, Christmas, IRS, Tax Planning, TCJA | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hitting Those Year-end Numbers-Individual Taxpayers.

It’s probably about time to start thinking about the 2019 income tax return especially if you want to do a bit of 1040 planning. You can also call Carol and make an appointment. She’d love to see you. And it would be even more informative and a lot less boring than reading this.

REINFORCING THE BASICS.
General information before you even get started: still no personal exemptions (through 2025); all three standard deductions increased: MFJ = $24,400 from $24,000; S and MFS = $12,200 from $12,000; and, HOH = $18,350 from $18,000. The additional standard deductions for being somewhat older (65) or blind = $1,650 if Single or HOH and $1,300 (each) if MFJ. The standard deduction amount for an individual who may be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer cannot be more than the greater of $1,100 OR the sum of $350 and the individual’s earned income (not to exceed the regular standard deduction amount).
Income tax rates remained the same but the brackets increased considerably. Here are the increased 2019 brackets:

Rate 2018-2025 Single $ HOH $ MFJ $ MFS $
10% 0 0 0 0
12% 9,700 13,850 19,400 9,700
22$ 39,475 52,850 78,950 39,475
24% 84,200 84,200 168,400 84,200
32% 160,275 160,700 321,450 160,725
35% 204,100 204,100 408,200 204,100
37% >510,300 >510,300 >612,350 >306,175

Planning Tip. Keep in mind that the various credits and deductions have different income eligibility amounts and thresholds. Postponing 2019 income like an employee bonus to 2020 and accelerating 2020 deductions to 2019, “the bunching strategy”, could possibly generate a tax benefit especially if you expect to be in a lower tax bracket in 2020. Keep in mind that you can pay deductible expenses on your credit card.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT.

Retirement Contributions. How much can I contribute in 2019? For both Traditional and Roth IRAs, the MaxOut amount is $6,000 and add a $1,000 if you’re over age 50 and want to catch-up.

How much of my 2019 contribution is tax deductible? Roth IRA contributions are never tax deductible and the account grows tax-free as well.

For Traditional IRAs how much of the contribution being deductible is limited by how much you make and if you have a retirement plan through your employer. If you are not married yet, for better or for worse, and have a plan through work: the whole contribution is tax deductible if MAGI is less than $64,000; partly deductible between $64,000 and $74,000; and, not at all tax deductible if you make over $74,000; at which point you should consider contributing to a Roth IRA. For married folks those amounts are: $103,000 and $123,000. If your spouse has a plan through work and you don’t, the amounts are $193,000 and $203,000. If you are self-funding an IRA on your own then the entire contribution up to the maximum amount is fully deductible. We’ll be sure to let you know the MaxOut 2020 amounts.

Planning Tip. If you are contemplating converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, it may be beneficial to convert beaten down stocks sitting in a Traditional IRA especially if there is no predicted rally or bounce back in 2020.

For 401Ks, 403Bs, most 457Bs, and the TSP the 2019 elective deferral amount is $19,000 and add $6,000 if you’re over age 50 and want to catch-up. The deductible amounts are the same as for Traditional IRAs.

Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). If you are older than 70-1/2 double check that you took the annual RMD from the IRA, 401K or employer plan. There is no need to pay a possible penalty that is 50% of the RMD.

Saver’s Credit. The maximum credit amount remains unchanged at $2,000.

Credit Amount MFJ AGI HOH AGI All Other AGI
50% <$38,500 <$28,875 <$19,250
20% $41,500 $31,125 $20,750
10% $64,000 $48,000 $32,000
0% >$64,000 >$48,000 >$32,000

Education.  American Opportunity Tax Credit. For 2019, the maximum American Opportunity Tax Credit is $2,500 per student, and is phased out beginning at $160,000 AGI for joint filers and $80,000 for S & HOH. Note MFS is still not eligible to claim this credit.

Lifetime Learning Credit. A credit of up to $2,000 per return is available for an unlimited number of years for certain costs of post-secondary or graduate courses or courses to acquire or improve your job skills. For 2019, the Lifetime Learning Credit phases out between $116,001-$135,999 for MFJ and $58,0001-$67,999 for S & HOH. The credit cannot be claimed if your MAGI is $67,999 or more ($135,999 for joint returns) or if you file MFS.

Coverdell Education Savings Account. The maximum contributed amount remains unchanged at $2,000 and the contribution remains non-deductible. The Coverdell account can be used to offset the cost of elementary and secondary education in addition to post-secondary education. The phaseout is between $190,001-$219,999 MFJ and $95,001-$109,999 all other filers.

Employer-Provided Educational Assistance. The 2019 exclusion amount remains unchanged at $5,250.

Student Loan Interest. No change in 2019. Maximum deduction is $2,500 as long as your MAGI is less than $70,000 S or $140,000 MFJ. NOTE MFS is not eligible for his credit. The deduction is phased out at higher income levels.

Tax Credits.  Adoption Credit. In 2019 a nonrefundable credit of up to $14,080 is available for qualified adoption expenses for each eligible child.

Child and Dependent Care Credit. The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit was permanently extended a few years back and survived the TCJA. As such, if you pay someone to take care of your dependent (defined as being under the age of 13 at the end of the tax year or incapable of self-care) in order to work or look for work, you may qualify for a credit of up to $1,050 or 35 percent of $3,000 of eligible expenses.
For two or more qualifying dependents, you can claim up to 35 percent of $6,000 (or $2,100) of eligible expenses. For higher-income earners, the credit percentage is reduced, but not below 20 percent, regardless of the amount of adjusted gross income.

Child Tax Credit and Credit for Other Dependents. For tax years 2018 through 2025, the Child Tax Credit increases to $2,000 per child. The refundable portion of the credit increases from $1,000 to $1,400 – 15 percent of earned income above $2,500, up to a maximum of $1,400 – so that even if taxpayers do not owe any tax, they can still claim the credit. Phaseout begins at MAGI of $400,000 MFJ and $200,00 for all other filers.
Under TCJA, a new tax credit – Credit for Other Dependents – is also available for dependents who do not qualify for the Child Tax Credit. The $500 credit is nonrefundable and covers children older than age 17 as well as parents or other qualifying relatives supported by a taxpayer.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For tax year 2019, the maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low and moderate-income workers and working families increased to $6,557 (up from $6,431 in 2018). The maximum income limit for the EITC increased to $55,952 (up from $54,884 in 2018) for married filing jointly. The credit varies by family size, filing status, and other factors, with the maximum credit going to joint filers with three or more qualifying children.

Health. Health Savings Accounts. The maximum annual contribution for Individuals is $3,500; Families, $7,000 and catchup contribution an additional $1,000. Flexible Spending Arrangements. The voluntary employee salary reduction is $2,700.

Long-term Care (LTC) Insurance. The maximum LTC insurance premiums eligible for deductions by age group are:

Under 40 41-50 51-60 61-70 Over 70
$420 $790 $1,580 $4,420 $5,270

Other.  Long-term Capital Gains & Qualified Dividends Tax.

Filer 0% 15% 20%
MFJ $0-78,749 $77,750-488,849 $488,850 +
MFS $0-39,374 $39,375-244,424 $244,425 +
HOH $0-52,749 $52,750-$461,699 $461,700 +
Single $0-39,374 $39,375-434,549 434,550 +
Estate/Trust $0-2,649 $2,650-12,949 12,950 +

Planning Tip. If your taxable income (TI) is resting comfortably within one of the taxable income brackets above, accept the % rate and move on. It is not always advisable to sell for capital losses unless the offset moves TI into a lower percentage bracket.

Christmas Wish List. Gift Tax. You can be the best Santa Ever. The annual exclusion remains unchanged at $15,000. Cash, cars, jewelry, stocks (income-earning property).

Planning Tip. Overall tax liability can be reduced by gifting income-earning property to family members in lower tax brackets AND not subject to the kiddie tax.

Planning Tip. If you’re older than 70-1/2 and are charitable, consider making the donation straight from the IRA straight to the charity. This results in neither income nor a charitable deduction but most certainly reduces the amount of the RMD and may even result in tax savings.

WRAPPING IT UP.

 

 

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?

 → Tax saving strategies employed this year may not be so tax saving next year.

info@accpas.com OR 727-327-1999.

Be sure to check back here next when we will blog about Hitting Those Year-end Numbers-Business Taxpayers. If there is anything you would like to know more about, leave a comment and we’ll blog it. And be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter; for whatever it is we’ll be posting.

McAtee and Associates’ Disclaimer:  Our blog is intended for educational and awareness purposes. The general information provided about taxes, accounting, and business-related topics is by no means intended to provide or constitute professional advice. Reading our blog does not create a Client/CPA relationship between you and us. The blog, including all contents posted by the author(s) as well as comments posted by visitors, should not be used as a substitute for professional advice or as a substitute for communicating with a competent, human professional.

Our blog posts are written using current information and current or proposed rules and regulations. Information becomes old and outdated. Rules and regulations are frequently changed, added, amended, and/or left to expire. This is extremely true with most things tax and to a lesser and slower extent, most things accounting. We do not go back and update posted blogs. Always check with your CPA or accountant regarding not only rules and regulations but available options and how it all applies to your fact pattern and you.

Posted in Individual Taxes, Tax Planning, Taxes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Talk Trump II! Let’s Talk Turkey.

It really is unimpeachable. The holidays are here. Turkey. Football. Family. Santa Claus. Whoa! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s get through Thanksgiving. This week we are not talking accounting, not even talking tax. Welcome to this week’s blog: Don’t Talk Trump, Let’s Talk Turkey II. Trivia for your Thanksgiving Day. And if you need to flip any, “Oh no, here we go” conversations we have included several table discussion topics to help you steer clear.

1. What meat did Native Americans bring to the First Thanksgiving? ANSWER – Venison.

2. What state grows the most turkeys? ANSWER – Minnesota.

3. What is the average lifespan of a wild turkey? ANSWER – 3 to 5 years.
NOT a suggested table discussion: How old was the turkey on your dinner plate.

4. The average turkey has how many feathers? ANSWER – 5,000 to 6,000.

5. Where do the feathers go? ANSWER – To the farm and to the zoo. Turkey feathers are ground up and used as protein for cattle, sheep, goats and giraffes.

6. In what year or at least what decade did Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and America’s Thanksgiving Parade start? ANSWER – 1924. Did you know back in the 20’s the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was in Newark, NJ and we pretty much ripped off the America’s Thanksgiving Parade from the Canadians. Giving credit where credit is due. The Eaton’s Santa Claus Parade first marched in Toronto, back in 1905.

7. Which President was the first to officially give a turkey a presidential pardon? ANSWER – The first unofficial pardon was given by JFK in 1963. But it was Ronald Reagan, in 1987, who first officially pardoned a turkey, as a joke. The turkey trotted off to a petting zoo and in 1989 Bush SR made it an annual tradition. Truly, non-partisan politics at its best!

8. Just like some folks have wattles under their chins, so do turkeys, under their beaks. But what’s the wattle above the beak called? ANSWER – Snood.

NOT a suggested table discussion: Who at the table has the biggest wattle?
Suggested table discussion: Who, not at the table, has the biggest wattle?

9. Who invented that green bean casserole that Grandma makes every Thanksgiving? ANSWER – Dorcas Reilly in 1955. And Dorcas worked…… at the Campbell Soup Company. Cream of Mushroom soup had been invented some 20 years earlier and people used it a casserole filler. Rest in Power Dorcas, who passed away at the age of 92 last October.

Suggested table discussion: What is everyone’s favorite Campbell Soup?

10. Where did the cornucopia come from? ANSWER – There’s a couple of different rumors or legends in Greek mythology about the horn of plenty. One is Zeus’ mom after giving birth to him gave him to some nymph-nannies to take care of. They in turn hired a wet-nurse goat named Amalthea whose milk helped Zeus grow up to be the head honcho of Pagan Greece; King of Mount Olympus, God of Thunder and all that. When Zeus became boss, he put one horn in the heavens and filled the other horn with the magic of perpetually becoming filled with whatever sustenance the possessor of the horn might want and gave the horn to his nymph-nannies.

Another story is Zeus’ kid, one of them, he had like 92; Hercules got into a fight with the guy that was the River God. Of course, it was over a woman, not just any woman but the daughter of the God Dionysius. The River God guy shapeshifted into a bull. Heracles kicked his butt, tore off a horn, gave it to some water nymphs who filled it with flowers. The Goddess of Plenty liked the flower-filled horn and then made the horn her own and called it… Cornucopia.

Suggested table discussion: What would you fill the cornucopia with?

11. Who won the National Dog Show best in Show last year?

Whiskey, the Whippet.

Suggested table discussion: What is everyone’s favorite breed? Or less boring, who do you know that looks like their dog?

BONUS ROUND.

Wild Turkey is a brand of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. How did it get its name? ANSWER – Thomas McCarthy, a hunter and an executive for Austin Nichols (a bourbon wholesaler), used to go hunting for wild turkeys with his friends every year. In 1940, he liberated some samples from the warehouse for the trip. The following year his friends were like you better bring some more of that wild turkey bourbon. He did and in 1942 Austin Nichols started bottling Wild Turkey.

Suggested table discussion: How do you like to liquor up your eggnog?

Have A Blessed and Bountiful Thanksgiving.

info@accpas.com OR 727-327-1999.

Check back here next week when we tackle yet another taxing topic. If there is anything you would like to know more about, leave a comment and we’ll blog it. And be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter; for whatever it is we’ll be posting.

McAtee and Associates’ Disclaimer:

Our blog is intended for educational and awareness purposes. The general information provided about taxes, accounting, and business-related topics is by no means intended to provide or constitute professional advice. Reading our blog does not create a Client/CPA relationship between you and us. The blog, including all contents posted by the author(s) as well as comments posted by visitors, should not be used as a substitute for professional advice or as a substitute for communicating with a competent, human professional.

Our blog posts are written using current information and current or proposed rules and regulations. Information becomes old and outdated. Rules and regulations are frequently changed, added, amended, and/or left to expire. This is extremely true with most things tax and to a lesser and slower extent, most things accounting. We do not go back and update posted blogs. Always check with your CPA or accountant regarding not only rules and regulations but available options and how it all applies to your fact pattern and you.

Posted in Holiday, Thanksgiving | Leave a comment