News & Articles

10 Simple (and Fun) Ways to Cut Taxes This Summer

Posted on Mon, May 08, 2017

It's already starting to feel like summer in many parts of the country. But the forecast for Washington remains unclear as officials continue to discuss various tax-related issues.

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Tags: Deductions, Tax Breaks, Meals & Entertainment

Which Parent Gets Child-Related Tax Breaks After Divorce?

Posted on Mon, Mar 13, 2017

Divorce causes tax issues. For example, which parent is allowed to claim a host of valuable child-related tax breaks? Sometimes, but not always, it depends on which parent is allowed to claim the child as a dependent. This article explains what you need to know.

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Tags: Tax Breaks, Divorce, Tax Break

More Adult Children Opting to Live with Parents

Posted on Mon, Jun 13, 2016

What's the most common living arrangement for young adults today? For the first time in 130 years, more young people ages 18 to 34 opt to live with their parents, rather than move out on their own or with a spouse or friend, according to a recent study by the not-for-profit Pew Research Center. Here's more on this trend, including possible reasons, reactions from parents and their live-in adult children, and financial and social implications.

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Tags: Tax Breaks, Higher Education, Taxes, Kiddie Tax, Living Arrangements

10 Midyear Tax Planning Moves Inspired by the PATH Act

Posted on Thu, Jun 02, 2016
Numerous tax breaks have been retroactively expanded for 2015 and beyond — or, in some cases, been made permanent — under the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015. Now that the dust from the new law has settled, individuals and small business owners can plan ahead with these 10 midyear tax strategies inspired by the recent legislation.

5 Tax Breaks for Individuals

1. Consider tax breaks for college students. If you have a child in college this year, you may be eligible for tax benefits. The PATH Act makes the American Opportunity credit permanent and extends the tuition and fees deduction through 2016. Both of these breaks are subject to phaseouts based on income level. For each student, you may claim either the American Opportunity credit or the tuition and fees deduction, but not both. Thus, while it is possible to claim the credit and the deduction in the same year, you may not claim both for the same student. If your income is too high to take one of these breaks, your child might be eligible.

The PATH Act also permanently treats computers, computer equipment, software and Internet service as qualified expenses for Section 529 savings plans, so distributions for this purpose are tax-free. Summer planning can help maximize your tax benefits for costs incurred for the fall semester.

2. Shop for a new car. If you itemize deductions on your federal income tax return, you can generally deduct state and local income taxes paid for the year. As an alternative, however, you may claim a deduction for state and local sales taxes. This option — which has been permanently extended by the PATH Act — is generally beneficial to taxpayers in locales with low or no state or local income taxes. But it can also benefit taxpayers who make large purchases during the year, regardless of where they live.

The sales tax deduction is determined based on actual receipts or an IRS table that lists amounts for each state. If you opt to use the IRS table, you can add on the actual sales tax paid for certain "big-ticket items," such as cars or boats. If you're in the market for a new vehicle, remember this alternate tax deduction.

3. Transfer IRA funds directly to charity. After you turn age 70½, you must take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your traditional IRAs, whether you want to or not. These RMDs are taxable in the tax year they're received.

Under a provision made permanent by the PATH Act, if you're age 70½ or older, you may transfer up to $100,000 directly from your IRA to a charity without any tax consequences. In other words, you can't claim a charitable deduction for these transfers, but the payouts aren't taxable either — even if they're used to satisfy your RMD. Act sooner rather than later to avoid year-end scrambling. Keep in mind that this is a per person benefit. Although both spouses may individually transfer up to $100,000 from an IRA to a charity, one spouse cannot "borrow" the other spouse's $100,000 to make a $200,000 transfer.

4. Gift property to a charity. Real estate owners can deduct the value of "conservation easements" made to a charity that preserve the property in its original condition. Charitable deductions for long-term capital gains property (appreciated property that's been held more than one year) are generally limited to 30% of the taxpayer's adjusted gross income (AGI). Any excess may be carried forward for up to 15 years.

Under enhancements made permanent by the PATH Act, the deduction threshold is raised to 50% of AGI (100% for farmers and ranchers) for conservation easements. Any excess may still be carried forward for up to 15 years. One catch, however, is that all such conservation donations must be made in perpetuity.

5. Install energy-saving equipment. Are you dreading the summer heat? It may be time to install a central air conditioning system. There are various requirements to qualify for the credit. First, the home must be your main home. Also, while the credit is generally equal to 10% of the cost of qualified energy-saving improvements, there is a lifetime credit limit of $500. Thus, if you've claimed the credit in a prior year, your current-year credit will be reduced accordingly. Other special dollar limits may apply. It's available for a wide range of items from central air to insulation.

The PATH Act extended the residential energy credit only through 2016. So, it's important to act before this tax-saving opportunity expires. (It may be extended again, but there are no guarantees.)

5 Tax Breaks for Small Businesses

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Tags: Tax, Gifts, Vehicle, Planning, Tax Breaks, College Expenses, PATH Act

A Gift from Uncle Sam: Congress Passes the Extenders Package

Posted on Mon, Dec 21, 2015

This holiday season, taxpayers are receiving a "gift" from Washington, D.C. It's the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 or, simply, the PATH Act. It does more than just extend expired tax provisions for another year. The bipartisan deal makes about one-third of these tax provisions permanent. Many others have been extended for periods ranging from two to five years.

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Tags: Tax, Expenses, Business, Tax Breaks, Section 179 deduction, PATH Act

Ten Tax Breaks Available for Parents

Posted on Wed, Jan 14, 2015

How much money do you need to raise a child? According to an estimate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it will cost a middle-income couple roughly $245,000 to raise a child born in 2013 to the age of 18. This is up 1.8 percent from the prior year. Plus, the estimated average cost is much higher in certain parts of the country. For example, high-income families living in the urban Northeast are projected to spend almost $455,000 to raise a child for 18 years.

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Tags: Tax, EHTC Article, Income, Tax Breaks, Articles, Children

Act NOW to Benefit from Business Tax Breaks Extended by Congress

Posted on Tue, Dec 23, 2014

The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (TIPA) renewed through 2014 a long list of business federal income tax breaks that had been allowed to expire at the end of 2013. This article provides a quick summary of the most important business extenders that were just resurrected -- and a few that were not.

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Tags: Tax, EHTC Article, Business, Tax Breaks, TIPA, Newsletter, Articles, Extended

Congress Extends Many Tax Breaks for Individuals

Posted on Mon, Dec 22, 2014

The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, which was signed into law on December 19, renewed through 2014 a long list of personal and business federal income tax breaks that had been allowed to expire at the end of 2013. Because Congress habitually allows these breaks to expire before restoring them for a year or two, they have become known as "the extenders."

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Tags: Tax, EHTC Article, Tax Breaks, TIPA, Newsletter, Articles, Extended, Individual