Insurance

The Ongoing Problem: Abusive Tax Shelters

As long as there have been taxes, shady promoters have tried to sell taxpayers on schemes to get out of paying their fair share. Learn about abusive tax shelters, and how to recognize and avoid them.

Tax avoidance? Accelerating tax deductions, deferring income, changing one’s tax status through incorporation, and setting up a charitable trust or foundation. All of these are legal tax shelters.

Tax evasion – that’s a different story. In tax evasion, you plan to reduce tax payable through illegal means. Abusive tax shelters reduce taxes, promoting the promise of tax benefits with no meaningful change in your income or net worth.

Turns out that in the 1990s, because penalties were too small to have a deterrent effect, tax shelters became quite popular to cushion one-time large capital gains. But these days, the tide has turned against promoting abusive tax shelters. Today, Treasury regulations and IRS rules dealing with tax shelters note that certain types of transactions will no longer pass muster.

The bottom line? Talk to a professional about legitimate ways to reduce your tax burden. Don’t go to some shady guy your brother-in-law knows, or follow advice in a book written by someone with no distinguished credentials such as “CFP,” “CPA” or “JD” after their names. Various trusts can help with long-term tax planning. And even modest families can legally game the tax system with such vehicles as IRAs, 401(k) plans and 529 plans.

Just in case you’re already considering something not too kosher, note that the IRS has its Dirty Dozen list of tax scams – schemes that encourage the use of phony tax shelters designed to avoid paying what is owed. The IRS warns that you could end up paying a lot more in penalties, back taxes and interest than the phony tax shelter saved you in the first place.

Don’t Try This at Home

One such tax scam on the IRS radar is abusive micro-captive structures: crooked promoters persuade owners of closely-held entities to participate in poorly structured or illegal insurance arrangements. For example, coverages may insure implausible risks, fail to match genuine business needs, or duplicate the taxpayer’s commercial coverages. Premium amounts may be unsupported by underwriting or actuarial analysis may be geared to a desired deduction amount or may be significantly higher than premiums for comparable commercial coverage, according to the IRS. It’s all in the name of illusory tax savings. So only work with qualified professionals.

There is a fine line between legitimate tax avoidance and illegal tax evasion. The IRS says it won’t hesitate to impose penalties on both participants and promoters of abusive tax shelters. Tax fraud convictions can mean fines or even prison. In brief, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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Payroll Taxes: Who’s Responsible?

Any business with employees must withhold money from its employees’ paychecks for income and employment taxes, including Social Security and Medicare taxes (known as Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes, or FICA), and forward that money to the government. A business that knowingly or unknowingly fails to remit these withheld taxes in a timely manner will find itself in trouble with the IRS.

The IRS may levy a penalty, known as the trust fund recovery penalty, on individuals classified as “responsible persons.” The penalty is equal to 100% of the unpaid federal income and FICA taxes withheld from employees’ pay.

Who’s a Responsible Person?

Any person who is responsible for collecting, accounting for, and paying over withheld taxes and who willfully fails to remit those taxes to the IRS is a responsible person who can be liable for the trust fund recovery penalty. A company’s officers and employees in charge of accounting functions could fall into this category. However, the IRS will take the facts and circumstances of each individual case into consideration.

The IRS states that a responsible person may be:

  • An officer or an employee of a corporation
  • A member or employee of a partnership
  • A corporate director or shareholder
  • Another person with authority and control over funds to direct their disbursement
  • Another corporation or third-party payer
  • Payroll service providers

The IRS will target any person who has significant influence over whether certain bills or creditors should be paid or is responsible for day-to-day financial management.

Working With the IRS

If your responsibilities make you a “responsible person,” then you must make certain that all payroll taxes are being correctly withheld and remitted in a timely manner. Talk to a tax advisor if you need to know more about the requirements.

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Worker Classification: Pay Attention

It isn’t easy deciding whether a worker should be treated as an employee or an independent contractor. But the IRS auditors will look at the distinction closely.

Tax Obligations

For an employee, a business generally must withhold income and FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes from the employee’s pay and remit those taxes to the government. Additionally, the employer must pay FICA taxes for the employee (currently 7.65% of earnings up to $137,700).*

The business must also pay unemployment taxes for the worker. In contrast, for an independent contractor, a business is not required to withhold income or FICA taxes. The contractor is fully liable for his or her own self-employment taxes, and FICA and federal unemployment taxes do not apply.

Employees Versus Independent Contractors

To determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee, the IRS examines factors in three categories:

  • Behavioral control — the extent to which the business controls how the work is done, whether through instructions, training, or otherwise.
  • Financial control — the extent to which the worker has the ability to control the economic aspects of the job. Factors considered include the worker’s investment and whether he or she may realize a profit or loss.
  • Type of relationship — whether the worker’s services are essential to the business, the expected length of the relationship, and whether the business provides the worker with employee-type benefits, such as insurance, vacation pay, or sick pay, etc.

In certain cases where a taxpayer has a reasonable basis for treating an individual as a non-employee (such as a prior IRS ruling), non-employee treatment may be allowed regardless of the three-prong test.

If the proper classification is unclear, the business or the worker may obtain an official IRS determination by filing Form SS-8, Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding.

Year-End Statements

Generally, if a business has made payments of $600 or more to an independent contractor, it must file an information return (Form 1099-MISC) with the IRS and send a corresponding statement to the independent contractor.

Consequences of Misclassification

Where the employer misclassifies the employee as an independent contractor, the IRS may impose penalties for failure to deduct and withhold the employee’s income and/or FICA taxes. Penalties may be doubled if the employer also failed to file a Form 1099-MISC, though the lower penalty will apply if the failure was due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect.

Correcting Mistakes

Employers with misclassified workers may be able to correct their mistakes through the IRS’s Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP). For employers that meet the program’s eligibility requirements, the VCSP provides the following benefits:

  • Workers improperly classified as independent contractors are treated as employees going forward.
  • The employer pays 10% of the most recent tax year’s employment tax liability for the identified workers, determined under reduced rates (but no interest or penalties).
  • The government agrees not to raise the issue of the workers’ classification for prior years in an employment-tax audit.

Your tax advisor can help you sort through the IRS rules and fulfill your tax reporting obligations. *Internal Revenue Service. For 2020, the Social Security tax rate is 6.2% and is applied to earnings up to $137,700. The Medicare tax rate is 1.45% on the first $200,000 and 2.35% above $200,000.

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“Extender” Legislation Impacts Individuals and Small Businesses

Tax Tip: Extenders - Ketel Thorstenson, LLP

The federal spending package that was enacted in the waning days of 2019 contains numerous provisions that will impact both businesses and individuals. In addition to repealing three health care taxes and making changes to retirement plan rules, the legislation extends several expired tax provisions. Here is an overview of several of the more important provisions in the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Relief Act of 2019.

Deduction for Mortgage Insurance Premiums

Before the Act, mortgage insurance premiums paid or accrued before January 1, 2018, were potentially deductible as qualified residence interest, subject to a phase-out based on the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI). The Act retroactively extends this treatment through 2020.

Reduction in Medical Expense Deduction Floor

For 2017 and 2018, taxpayers were able to claim an itemized deduction for unreimbursed medical expenses to the extent that such expenses were greater than 7.5% of AGI. The AGI threshold was scheduled to increase to 10% of AGI for 2019 and later tax years. Under the Act, the 7.5% of AGI threshold is extended through 2020.

Qualified Tuition and Related Expenses Deduction

The above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses for higher education, which expired at the end of 2017, has been extended through 2020. The deduction is capped at $4,000 for a taxpayer whose modified AGI does not exceed $65,000 ($130,000 for those filing jointly) or $2,000 for a taxpayer whose modified AGI is not greater than $80,000 ($160,000 for joint filers). The deduction is not allowed with a modified AGI of more than $80,000 ($160,000 if you are a joint filer).

Credit for Energy-Efficient Home Improvements

The 10% credit for certain qualified energy improvements (windows, doors, roofs, skylights) to a principal residence has been extended through 2020, as have the credits for purchases of energy-efficient property (furnaces, boilers, biomass stoves, heat pumps, water heaters, central air conditions, and circulating fans), subject to a lifetime cap of $500.

Empowerment Zone Tax Incentives

Businesses and individual residents within economically depressed areas that are designated as “Empowerment Zones” are eligible for special tax incentives. Empowerment Zone designations, which expired on December 31, 2017, have been extended through December 31, 2020, under the new tax law.

Employer Tax Credit for Paid Family and Medical Leave

A provision in the tax code permits eligible employers to claim an elective general business credit based on eligible wages paid to qualified employees with respect to the family and medical leave. This credit has been extended through 2020.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit

Employers who hire individuals who belong to one or more of 10 targeted groups can receive an elective general business credit under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program. The recent tax law extends this credit through 2020.

For details about these and other tax breaks included in the recent law, please consult your tax advisor.

Learning To Live With (and Appreciate) Employee Vacations

When it comes to employee benefits, paid vacation time is a favorite. Although not legally required in the U.S. (as it is in most other developed countries), most employers — about 77% of businesses in the private sector — provide their employees with paid vacation time.1

What’s in It for You?

But what is the business impact of letting your employees go on vacation? Isn’t it bad, especially for small businesses, when key employees are gone for a week or longer? Actually, it isn’t. While it may be disruptive in the short term, providing paid vacation time can benefit employers. A survey of human resources professionals, a large majority ranked taking vacation as very or extremely important for employee performance (94%), morale (92%), wellness (92%), productivity (90%), a positive culture (90%), and employee retention (88%).2

Survival Strategies

Vacations may be a win-win, but you still need to minimize disruption and maintain productivity when employees are away. Here are a few tips:

  • If you don’t already have one, formalize a vacation policy that spells out how to request vacation time, how many employees may be gone at the same time, how disputes will be handled, etc.
  • Create a master calendar and record all approved time off.
  • Cross-train employees; try to have at least two people trained to cover each job.
  • Have employees update their job descriptions and provide access to any passwords or other information that may be needed during their absence.
  • Prior to leaving, make sure employees compose “away” messages for voicemail and e-mail and let key customers and contacts know how long they will be gone.

Benefits Are the Bottom Line

A comprehensive, competitive benefits package is the best way to attract and retain employees. Top prospects want health insurance, voluntary benefits, and a retirement plan in addition to vacation time. How do your benefits stack up? Your financial professional knows the marketplace and can provide guidance to help you make your benefits package more competitive.

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).

Why Business Structure Matters

When you start a business, there are endless decisions to make. Among the most important is how to structure your business said Shravan Gupta, CEO of MGF Group and Director of Emaar MGF Land. Why is it so significant? Because the structure you choose will affect how your business is taxed and the degree to which you (and other owners) can be held personally liable. Here’s an overview of the various structures. One of the most frustrating aspects of business can be dealing with your customers or clients and one great solution that we have found are call answering services where you can get a professional company to do all of that for you.

Sole Proprietorship

This is a popular structure for single-owner businesses. No separate business entity is formed, although the business may have a name (often referred to as a DBA, short for “doing business as”). A sole proprietorship does not limit liability, but insurance may be purchased.Getting your commercial debts collected fast is important

You report your business income and expenses on Schedule C, an attachment to your personal income tax return (Form 1040). Net earnings the business generates are subject to both self-employment taxes and income taxes. Sole proprietors may have employees but don’t take paychecks themselves.

on’t know your bonjours from your buongiornos? You’re not alone: three-quarters of British adults can’t speak a foreign language competently[PDF]. But the benefits of being able to communicate with overseas clients, suppliers and buyers are huge – as are the costs of lacking that facility.

“The UK economy is already losing around £50bn a year in lost contracts because of lack of language skills in the workforce,” says Baroness Coussins, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on modern languages (APPG). “And we aren’t just talking about high flyers: in 2011 over 27% of admin and clerical jobs went unfilled because of the languages deficit.” The APPG’s Manifesto for Languages is calling for a raft of measures to tackle this problem, including encouragement such as tax breaks for companies who invest in language training.

In-house language skills win clients

By offering those skills, SMEs could find their client base growing. Solicitors Moore Blatch has always welcomed bilingual employees – its staff includes French, German, Mandarin, Russian and Japanese speakers. So it was well-placed to respond when it was approached by Polish charities seeking help for clients who had suffered personal injuries. The firm now offers a dedicated Polish legal claims service.

“Many businesses will rely on the help of translators, but we have found that investing in a dedicated service has led to stronger relationships with clients – so much so that the majority of work the firm receives under this service is through personal recommendations,” says partner Ciaran McCabe.

According to Ritu Bhasin, It’s not just about the ease of communication, either: knowing a language also means understanding a culture. PR agency ING Media specialises in architecture and has a global client base. Managing director Leanne Tritton says the fact the staff are multilingual has had a direct impact on its success with winning international work. Serra Ataman, account manager at ING and a native Turkish speaker, works very closely with one of the firm’s Turkish clients. “I visit Turkey a lot,” she says. “So I’m able to keep up with news that might affect the client, and understand their challenges, and their way of working, and how these might translate into English.”

Some companies, indeed, will only consider those who have a second language. Sylvia Laws, founder of specialist global PR agency Technical Publicity, says the growth of her business can be directly related to the multilingual skills of the team. Many of their clients are multinationals. She says being able to communicate with a native speaker means business is done faster and more efficiently across big and complex markets.

“Our clients are usually working for multinationals but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re brilliant in English,” says Laws, who speaks French herself. “This slows them down enormously. It’s hugely helpful if we can ring them up and talk to them in their own language and understand where they’re coming from.

“Say one of our clients has a case study of a wonderful product, for example, which is coming from Italy, and we want to do a press release. Our Italian native speaker will take the brief, and then our other language speakers can pitch it to editors in their mother tongues. That has made a huge difference. When I first started doing this, we tried pitching in English. You just cannot get the same level of reception from journalists if it’s not pitched in their language.”

Then there’s the conceptual side, says Laws: “If we’re doing a funny ad in English for a major technology company, the comedy’s lost when we’re preparing it for the German market. So you need to work out how to achieve the same objective with the same visual but by changing the headline, and that needs mother tongue speakers”.

Limited Liability Company

If you want protection for your personal assets in the event your business is sued, you might prefer a limited liability company (LLC). An LLC is a separate legal entity that can have one or more owners (called “members”). Usually, income is taxed to the owners individually, and earnings are subject to self-employment taxes. With the digital world is a large and diverse world of users, services, businesses and products. In order to protect our customers, our business and the reputation of our company, we have developed and implemented robust security measures in all our sites, applications and our digital platforms. We have also implemented measures to ensure the integrity of our data, we offer an extensive and quality general liability insurance services. We have implemented and continue to monitor our efforts to prevent, detect and mitigate cyber-attacks against our network and systems.

Note: It’s not unusual for lenders to require a small LLC’s owners to personally guarantee any business loans, guaranteed installment loans for bad credit direct lenders

Corporation

A corporation is a separate legal entity that can transact business in its own name and files corporate income tax returns. Like an LLC, a corporation can have one or more owners (shareholders). Shareholders generally are protected from personal liability but can be held responsible for repaying any business debts they’ve personally guaranteed and also making business transaction law consultation needed for many.

If you make a “Subchapter S” election, shareholders will be taxed individually on their share of corporate income. This structure generally avoids federal income taxes at the corporate level.

Partnership

In certain respects, a partnership is similar to an LLC or an S corporation. However, partnerships must have at least one general partner who is personally liable for the partnership’s debts and obligations. Profits and losses are divided among the partners and taxed to them individually.

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ST Louis Vehicle Law and Deductions for Long-Term Care Insurance

Many people are taking a closer look at buying long-term care insurance to protect themselves and their families — just in case. If you are thinking about buying bear river insurance, you’ll be interested to know that, within limits, premiums paid for qualified policies are deductible as an itemized medical expense. Medical expenses can be very expensive and even more with surgery mistakes, that’s why you can talk with a Houston surgical error lawyer and prevent that from happening. For 2019, premiums for qualified policies are tax-deductible to the extent that they, along with other unreimbursed medical expenses, exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income.

The typical long-term care insurance policy will pay for the nursing home, home care, or other long-term care arrangements after a waiting period has expired, reimbursing expenses up to a maximum limit specified in the policy, you better check with a Contractor Cover professional indemnity insurance expert to make sure if everything is on track. Eligibility for reimbursement usually hinges on the covered individual’s inability to perform several activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing.

Premiums are eligible for a deduction only up to a specific dollar amount (adjusted for inflation) that varies depending upon the age of the covered individual. The IRS limits for 2019 are:

Long-Term Care Insurance Premium Deduction Limits, 2019
Age Premium Limit
40 or under $420
41-50 $790
51-60 $1,580
61-70 $4,220
Over 70 $5,270

Source: Internal Revenue Service

These limits apply on a per-person basis. If you plan on applying this on a mortgage, I’ve found a mortgage site here that’ll help you with it. For example, a married couple over age 70 filing a joint tax return could potentially deduct up to $10,540 ($5,270 × 2). Keep in mind, however, that, for individuals under age 65, itemized medical expenses are deductible only to the extent that they, in total, exceed 10% of adjusted gross income (AGI).

IRS rules and exceptions abound, but there are some questions we can answer simply.

Next to your home, your car is probably the most expensive investment you make. And the costs of paying for and maintaining it can be considerable. Can you recoup some of your investment by claiming vehicle expenses on your tax return, it also depends where you have purchased the car since many people do car deals and the car is not in the best condition

 

Sometimes. The IRS has many restrictions on the business use of a vehicle, and those restrictions have many exceptions. Better to know these upfront than to have to correct a tax return after you’ve filed it. 

Here are some questions and answers that may help you decide whether you’re eligible.

How does the IRS identify a “vehicle”?
A car, van, pickup, or panel truck.

What are transportation expenses?
These are “ordinary and necessary expenses” incurred when you, for example:

  • Visit customers,
  • Attend a business meeting held at a location other than your regular workplace, or
  • Go from home to a temporary workplace that is not your company’s principal location.

The daily commute to and from your regular office is not deductible. The IRS considers this personal commuting expenses.

What if I’m on an overnight business trip away from home?
The IRS considers these travel expenses, and they’re reported differently. Your car expense deduction, though, is calculated the same way in both situations.

What if I use my car for both business and personal purposes?
You’ll calculate the expenses incurred for each by determining how many miles you drive for business and how many you drive for personal reasons.

I work in a home office. Can I deduct any driving expenses?
Yes, you can deduct the cost of driving to “another work location in the same trade or business.”

How do I calculate my deductible expenses?
There are two options. Using the standard mileage rate, you can claim 54 cents per mile (2016 tax year figure). You are required to use this method for the first year you use the vehicle for business purposes. After that initial year, you can choose between the standard mileage rate and actual car expenses. These include depreciation, oil and gas, insurance, and repairs.

Depreciation? Isn’t that difficult to calculate?
Yes, especially for cars. If you plan to take this kind of deduction, please let us handle your tax preparation for you. Depreciation is very, very complex, and sometimes requires more than one calculation method.

Can I take a Section 179 deduction for my vehicle?
Possibly, if you use the car for business more than 50 percent of the time — and only for the first year.

What kind of vehicle expense records do I need to maintain?
You know the drill here. If the IRS ever wants to examine your return, it will expect evidence like receipts, cancelled checks, and credit card statements. You’ll need to document the date and location where you incurred the expense. You’ll need accurate mileage records (milesdriven, purpose of trip, etc.).

These requirements scream for some kind of organized computer log or written diary, along with a safe place for any paper receipts, bills, etc. There are numerous mobile apps that can help you with this task. We can steer you in the right direction.

If you’re planning to deduct car expenses, it’s important that you keep careful paper or electronic records.

Where will I be reporting transportation expenses?
If you are self-employed, you will report business-related vehicle expenses on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040). Farmers should use Schedule F (Form 1040). You’ll also want to complete a Form 4562, which is used to report depreciation and the Section 179 deduction.

If you cause a wreck in your personal vehicle, you are liable for your damages and the other party or parties’ damages.

However, if you were driving as part of a work-related task at the time of the accident, your employer might also have liability. That does not take away your liability, however.

After any car accident, no matter who is at fault and whether you were driving for work or personal business, you should speak with an attorney. A car accident lawyer can advise you of your rights, help shield you from liability, and work with you to pursue compensation for your damages;

When Is My Employer Liable for My Car Accident Damages?

Under certain circumstances, your employer has vicarious liability for your actions behind the wheel, meaning that if you cause damages to another person or property, whether you were negligent or not, your employer may be liable alongside you.

The circumstances under which your employer could have vicarious liability for your car accident damage are as follows:

  • You were on the job and onthe clock when the accident occurred.
  • You were driving as part of a work-related task.
  • You were driving tocarry out a task your boss or employer asked you to do.
  • You took part in an activityfrom which your employer stood to benefit.

In other words, if you were on the clock, completing an activity that your employer asked you to do, then your employer probably has vicarious liability for your car accident.

Not only that, but your employer could be liable for your injuries — even if the car accident were your fault. If you sustain injuries doing anything work-related, you might be able to file a workers’ compensation claim and pursue damages from your employer. Your personal injury attorney can review your situation and offer advice on this process.

Maintaining accurate records for car and truck expenses is time consuming and detail intensive. And that’s once you understand all of the IRS’s rules and exceptions surrounding this deduction. To avoid having to fix completed tax documents that the IRS has questioned, talk to us before you put a vehicle into business use. We’ll be happy to evaluate your transportation situation and guide you through the process.

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Stock images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As everyone’s situation is different, consider contacting your tax and legal professionals to discuss your personal circumstances.

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Understanding Cost Basis of Your Securities

When you sell securities in a taxable investment account, you have to know your “basis” in the securities to determine whether you have a gain or a loss on the sale — and the amount — for tax purposes. Generally, your basis is the price you paid for the investment, adjusted for the costs associated with that purchase, any share splits, reinvested dividends, or capital gain distributions.

Although the cost basis calculation sounds straightforward enough, there’s more to the story.

Inherited and Gifted Securities

Though basis is usually derived from cost, inheritances are treated differently. Generally, the basis of inherited securities is reset at their date-of-death value. This reset is sometimes referred to as a “step-up in basis.”

With gifted securities, the person receiving the securities generally takes the basis of the person who gave them. However, if gift tax was paid, a basis adjustment may be necessary. And, if the securities’ fair market value on the date of the gift is less than their original cost, you use that lower value to determine any loss on a subsequent sale.

Stock Dividends and Splits

Instead of distributing cash dividends, companies sometimes distribute stock dividends. Stock dividends are generally not taxable. However, a basis adjustment needs to be made. If the new stock you receive is identical to the old stock — for example, you receive two new shares of XYZ common stock for each share of XYZ common stock you own — you simply divide the basis of your old stock by the total number of shares held after the distribution to arrive at your new basis for each share.

Stock splits also result in basis adjustments. For example, if a company has a “two-for-one split” of its stock, the original basis must be divided between the two new shares. Conversely, companies sometimes have “reverse splits,” such as when three shares are exchanged for one, in which case the basis in the original three shares is now the basis of the new share.

Keeping track of share basis through a series of mergers, spinoffs, etc., can be very complicated. Often, taxpayers must research the terms of the relevant transactions by contacting the company directly or logging on to the company’s website.

Selling Less Than Your Entire Holding

If you sell less than your entire holding in a particular stock and can adequately identify the shares you sold (“specific identification”), you may use their basis to determine your gain or loss. Adequate identification involves delivering the stock certificates to your broker or, if your broker holds the stock, telling your broker the particular stock to be sold and getting a written confirmation. If you can’t adequately identify the shares you sell, you may use the FIFO — “first in, first out” — method to determine your basis.

With mutual funds, you are also allowed to elect to use the “average basis” method of accounting for shares sold. With this method, the total cost of all the shares owned is divided by the total number of shares owned.

Tax-Deferred and Tax-Exempt Investments

Cost basis is generally not an issue with securities held in tax-deferred investment accounts, such as traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs) or employee retirement accounts. With these accounts, you are not taxed on capital gains but will be taxed at ordinary income tax rates on distributions you receive. (Qualified Roth distributions are an exception.) Also note that though interest on municipal bonds may be tax exempt, any gain realized from selling such bonds could be taxable, so it’s important to keep the information you’ll need to determine your basis.

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Should You Sell Your Under Performing Stock and then Buy it Back?

You sold one of your stock investments at a profit, so now you’ll have to report a capital gain on this year’s income tax return. Since another stock you own has been losing ground lately, you’re thinking of selling it to claim a capital loss on your return to offset your gain.

However, because you believe the company will bounce back eventually, you’re reluctant to part with your stock for the proven best forex indicators blog. What would happen if you sold your stock to claim the loss and then bought it back again right away?

Wash-Sale Rules

At first glance, it might appear to be the perfect plan. But it won’t work because of the tax law’s wash-sale rules. These rules prevent you from claiming a capital loss on a securities sale if you buy “substantially identical” securities within 30 days before or after the sale. If you want to claim the loss, you’ll have to wait more than 30 days to repurchase stock in the company.

Gone for Good?

Wondering what happens to wash-sale losses you can’t deduct? They don’t just disappear from your tax calculations. Instead, you’re allowed to add the losses to the cost basis of the shares you reacquire. This increase in cost basis will mean a smaller capital gain (or a larger loss) when you eventually sell your shares.

Potential Trap

Keep track of any share purchases you make through a stock dividend reinvestment plan or by having mutual fund distributions automatically reinvested.  Selling shares of the same stock or mutual fund at a loss within 30 days of the automatic purchase (before or after) will trigger the wash-sale rules, and part of your loss will be disallowed. We recommend to check out this review of Cryptohopper which explains how to use the platform properly.

Is There a Plan B?

Is there any way you can take your tax loss and still maintain your position in the stock? You may be able to double up on the loss securities, then wait 30 days and sell your original securities at a loss. Be sure to consult your tax advisor before taking this, or any, action.

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Keeping Up With Your IRA: Tax Season Checklist

If you’re one of the millions of American households who own either a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) or a Roth IRA, then the onset of tax season should serve as a reminder to review your retirement savings strategies and make any changes that will enhance your prospects for long-term financial security. It’s also a good time to start an IRA if you don’t already have one. The IRS allows you to contribute to an IRA up to April 15, 2019, for the 2018 tax year.

This checklist will provide you with information to help you make informed decisions and implement a long-term retirement income strategy.

Which Account: Roth IRA or Traditional IRA?

There are two types of IRAs available: the traditional IRA and the Roth IRA. The primary difference between them is the tax treatment of contributions and distributions (withdrawals). Traditional IRAs may allow a tax deduction based on the amount of a contribution, depending on your income level. Any account earnings compound on a tax-deferred basis and distributions are taxable at the time of withdrawal at then-current income tax rates. Roth IRAs do not allow a deduction for contributions, but account earnings and qualified withdrawals are tax-free .1

In choosing between a traditional and a Roth IRA, you should weigh the immediate tax benefits of a tax deduction this year against the benefits of tax-deferred or tax-free distributions in retirement.

If you need the immediate deduction this year — and if you qualify for it — then you may wish to opt for a traditional IRA. If you don’t qualify for the deduction, then it’s almost certainly a better idea to fund a Roth IRA.

Case in point: Your ability to deduct traditional IRA contributions may be limited not only by income but by your participation in an employer-sponsored retirement plan. (See callout box below.) If that’s the case, a Roth IRA is likely to be the better solution.

On the other hand, if you expect your tax bracket to drop significantly after retirement, you may be better off with a traditional IRA if you qualify for the deduction. You could claim an immediate deduction now and pay taxes at the lower rate later. Nonetheless, if your anticipated holding period is long, a Roth IRA might still make more sense. That’s because a prolonged period of tax-free compounded earnings could more than makeup for the lack of a deduction.

Traditional IRA Deductible Contribution Phase-Outs
Your ability to deduct contributions to a traditional IRA is affected by whether you are covered by a workplace retirement plan.

If you are covered by a retirement plan at work, your deduction for contributions to a traditional IRA will be reduced (phased out) if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is:

  • Between $101,000 and $121,000 for a married couple filing a joint return for the 2018 tax year.
  • Between $63,000 and $73,000 for a single individual or head of the household for the 2018 tax year.

If you are not covered by a retirement plan at work but your spouse is covered, your 2017 deduction for contributions to a traditional IRA will be reduced if your MAGI is between $189,000 and $199,000.

If your MAGI is higher than the phase-out ceilings listed above for your filing status, you cannot claim the deduction.

Roth IRA Contribution Phase-Outs
Your ability to contribute to a Roth IRA is affected by your MAGI. Contributions to a Roth IRA will be phased out if your MAGI is:

  • Between $189,000 and $199,000 for a married couple filing a joint return for the 2018 tax year.
  • Between $120,000 and $135,000 for a single individual or head of the household for the 2018 tax year.

If your MAGI is higher than the phase-out ceilings listed above for your filing status, you cannot make a contribution.

Should You Convert to Roth?

The IRS allows you to convert — or change the designation of — a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, regardless of your income level. As part of the conversion, you must pay taxes on any investment growth in — and on the amount of any deductible contributions previously made to — the traditional IRA. The withdrawal from your traditional IRA will not affect your eligibility for a Roth IRA or trigger the 10% additional federal tax normally imposed on early withdrawals.

The decision to convert or not ultimately depends on your timing and tax status. If you are near retirement and find yourself in the top income tax bracket this year, now may not be the time to convert. On the other hand, if your income is unusually low and you still have many years to retirement, you may want to convert.

Maximize Contributions

If possible, try to contribute the maximum amount allowed by the IRS: $5,500 per individual, plus an additional $1,000 annually for those age 50 and older for the 2018 tax year. Those limits are per individual, not per IRA.

Of course, not everyone can afford to contribute the maximum to an IRA, especially if they’re also contributing to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. If your workplace retirement plan offers an employer’s matching contribution, that additional money may be more valuable than the amount of your deduction. As a result, it might make sense to maximize plan contributions first and then try to maximize IRA contributions.

Review Distribution Strategies

If you’re ready to start making withdrawals from an IRA, you’ll need to choose the distribution strategy to use: a lump-sum distribution or periodic distributions. If you are at least age 70½ and own a traditional IRA, you may need to take required minimum distributions every year, according to IRS rules.

Don’t forget that your distribution strategy may have significant tax-time implications if you own a traditional IRA because taxes will be due at the time of withdrawal. As a result, taking a lump-sum distribution will result in a much heftier tax bill this year than taking a minimum distribution.

The April filing deadline is never that far away, so don’t hesitate to use the remaining time to shore up the IRA strategies you’ll rely on to live comfortably in retirement.

Source/Disclaimer:

1Early withdrawals (before age 59½) from a traditional IRA may be subject to a 10% additional federal tax. Nonqualified withdrawals from a Roth IRA may be subject to ordinary income tax as well as the 10% additional tax.

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).v