Asset Planning, Inc Blog

The latest from the team.

FSA Eligible Items on Amazon

There is now a whole section of Flexible Spending Account eligible items available on Amazon. In case you don't know what an FSA is, it is an account that you put pre-tax money into that you use to pay out-of-pocket health care costs with. The limit per person each year is $2,650 and most plans require that you use up that amount each year. Even though there is a limit of $2,650 a year you are not required to contribute that much. You can estimate what you think you spend per year and only contribute that amount. People use their FSA accounts to pay for copays, deductibles and prescriptions but there is a lot of over the counter products that meet the eligibility requirements ranging from blood pressure testers all the way to sunscreen and lotion.

Most of the time FSA owners will pay for these out of pocket expenses and then submit a claim form to be reimbursed but there is another option. You can now request a debit card for your FSA and pay directly for these expenses using that card. If you would like to order from Amazon, you would enter your FSA credit card information and select that card as your form of payment. When I was looking on Amazon I simply searched for FSA eligible items and was amazed at all of the products that were available and that I would be able to use for my family on a daily basis. This is a great way to use up the funds in your FSA account.

If you do not have a Flexible Spending Account, it may be something to look into. Not all employers offer them, but it doesn't hurt to ask your human resources department. Remember whatever you do contribute will reduce your taxable income because the contributions are made pre-tax. It's really a great way to pay for your out-of-pocket health care costs.

When googling FSA eligible products, I noticed that there were a lot of other stores that offer them as well. I just love the convenience and delivery options of Amazon, especially if you're a Prime member.

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IRA Contributions

While we are deep in the midst of tax season, we thought it was a good idea to remind our clients to get in their 2018 IRA contributions. If you are planning on dropping off a check to us the deadline to get them in is Wednesday, April 10th. This will ensure that your contribution is made before the April 15th tax deadline.

2018 contribution limits are $5,500 or $6,500 if you are over the age of 50

Also, now is as good a time as any to get in your 2019 contributions especially because the limits have been increased. The sooner you get these in the longer they have to grow in your IRA which means more retirement funds for you!

2019 contribution limits are $6,000 or $7,000 if you are 50 years of age or older

When it comes to non-deductible IRA contributions please be sure that you are keeping a record of these contributions by completing tax form 8606 for each year you make a non-deductible contribution. We have run into a few cases where no record is kept, and our clients are left scrambling to find that information when it is time to take distributions from their IRAs. This information will be needed to figure out what amount of your distributions will be counted as taxable income to you, so it is very important.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call us.

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Earned Income and Social Security Tax

We came across an article on InvestmentNews.com written by Mary Beth Franklin. It gives a great explanation as well as examples and limits on how Social Security benefits are taxed if you are planning on working while collecting social security. Definitely worth a read if you have any income from other sources while collecting Social Security.

 

Click here to read the full article

 

 

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IRA & 401k Contributions Increase for 2019

2019 annual contribution limits for eligible tax filers:

401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $18,500 to $19,000.

IRA contributions increased from $5,500 to $6,000 per year. The age 50+ catch-up contribution limit remains at $1,000.

Tax deduction and Income limitations for 2019:

Taxpayers can deduct contributions to a traditional IRA if they meet certain conditions. If during the year either the taxpayer or their spouse was covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduction may be reduced, or phased out, until it is eliminated, depending on filing status and income. (If neither the taxpayer nor their spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work, the phase-outs of the deduction do not apply.) Here are the phase-out ranges for 2019:

If single or joint married taxpayers are not covered by a work retirement plan, they may fully deduct traditional IRA contributions. Other tax filers may partially or fully deduct contributions if they meet the below exceptions:

  • Single taxpayers covered by a work retirement plan, can fully deduct if modified Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is below $64,000. A partial deduction is allowed if modified AGI is between $64,000 to $74,000
  •  Married Joint taxpayers, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, can fully deduct if modified AGI is below $103,000. A partial deduction is allowed if modified AGI is between $103,000 to $123,000
  • Married Joint taxpayers, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is not covered by a workplace retirement plan, but the other spouse is, can fully deduct if modified AGI is below $193,000. A partial deduction is allowed if modified AGI is between $193,000 to $203,000

The Modified AGI phase-out range for Roth IRA contributions is $122,000 to $137,000 for singles and heads of household, $193,000-203,000 for married couples filing jointly.

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Trump's Proposes to Extend RMD Age

President Trump issued an executive order directing the Treasury Department to extend the age for required minimum distributions from retirement accounts. Currently the age is 70 1/2. His reasoning is that people are working and living longer. This can be good news for some of our clients who don't necessarily need to take the withdrawals at 70 1/2. Here is an articles from Forbes with some pros and cons to the proposed change.

Read Here

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Deadline for 2017 IRA Contributions

The deadline for getting your 2017 IRA contributions to us is Wednesday, April 11th. Tax season is an extremely busy time so the sooner you get these in the better. Feel free to stop by the office anytime from 8am-4pm to drop them off.

Have a great weekend!

Melani

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Tax Reform: Summary of Changes

President Trump signed the tax reform bill this morning. Most provisions are set to take effect in 2018, but many of those are also set to expire or sunset in 2025. Here's a summary of what we think are the major changes that will affect our clients. We will have a more in-depth analysis and summary in our year end newsletter.

1. Reductions in individual tax rates. The bill retains the current structure of seven investor tax brackets, but lowers five of them. It also includes the sunset provision, meaning it's a temporary arrangement from 2018 to 2025.
Here's the breakdown of the new vs. current marginal tax rates:

Current Marginal Tax Rate

Proposed Marginal Tax Rate

Income Level (Single Filers)

Income Level (Couples Filing Jointly)

10%

10%

$0 -- $9,525

$0 -- $19,050

15%

12%

$9,525 -- $38,700

$19,050 -- $77,400

25%

22%

$38,700 -- $82,500

$77,400 -- $165,000

28%

24%

$82,500 -- $157,500

$165,000 -- $315,000

33%

32%

$157,500 -- $200,000

$315,000 -- $400,000

35%

35%

$200,000 -- $500,000

$400,000 -- $600,000

39.60%

37%

$500,000 and up

$600,000 and up

2. Reduction in corporate tax rate to a maximum rate of 21% (a reduction from 35%). Also, corporate income earned abroad and brought back to the United States will be taxed between 8 and 15.5%, instead of the current 35%. These are permanent reductions.

3. Standard Deductions increasing nearly 90%. For married couples filing jointly, the standard deduction rises to $24,000 from $12,700; for single filers, it moves to $12,000 from $6,350.

4. Additional changes to Itemized Deductions. These vary, and some might be more impactful than others.

  • Personal exemption ending, but child tax credit increasing. The bill ends the personal exemption of $4,050 for you, your spouse, and your dependents; it doubles the child tax credit to $2,000 per dependent child under age 17.
  • Limits to state and local taxes ("SALT"). Under the bill, you may only deduct up to $10,000 in state and local taxes, including sales, income, and property taxes. This deduction was not previously subject to limitation.
  • Caps on mortgage interest. The bill allows mortgage interest deductions for current homeowners, but caps the interest deduction at $750,000 in mortgage debt for homes bought in 2018 and beyond, down from the $1 million limit in place now. It eliminates deductions for interest on home-equity loans, as well as deductions for moving expenses and employer-provided expense reimbursements (except for members of the military).
  • Expands medical deductions. Current law allows for deduction of medical expenses over 10% of adjusted gross income (AGI). The bill lowers the threshold to 7.5%.

5. Changes to estate planning.  The bill doubles the estate tax exemption to $10 million, but it's also indexed for inflation after 2011. The bill also calls for doubling the value threshold on the 40% levy on estates worth nearly $11 million for individuals and $22 million for couples. The estate tax exemption also has the sunset provision, meaning that the bill calls for a reversion back to current exemption amounts in 2026.

6. Charitable deductions. Although the current tax deductions stay in place, the doubling of the standard deduction to $24,000 essentially raises the threshold on deductibility. Taxpayers will have to itemize donations to get the benefit.

      From all of us at Asset Planning, Inc. we wish you a wonderful Holiday Season!


*Asset Planning, Inc. does not provide tax advice. We suggest clients consult with a tax-planning professional with regards to their personal circumstances.

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Looking for Ways to Donate and Get a Tax Break?

Many times we are asked by our clients about ways they can give back through planned gifting. In our last quarterly newsletter, Carol explained how you can donate part or all of your mandatory IRA distributions (RMD) to a charity of your choice which also reduces your taxable income for the year. Another way of doing this is by setting up a charitable annuity. The way it works is the donor gives a gift to the charity (amounts vary), the donor receives fixed payments for life and the donor is entitled to a federal income tax deduction the year the gift is made. I have included a link to one that is offered through the ASPCA to use as an example but there are many more out there to suit everyone’s unique philanthropic wishes.

https://www.aspca.org/ways-to-give/planned-giving

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Sandy was Quoted in Financial Planning Magazine

Financial Planning Magazine reached out to Sandy to get her reaction to President Trump's proposed tax cuts for businesses and the elimination of certain deductions. This is what she had to say. You can read the full article here: http://www.financial-planning.com/list/rias-support-trump-tax-cuts-for-businesses

Sandys quote on Trumps tax cut in Financial Planning Magazine

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Reminder: 2016 IRA Contributions

We wanted to send out a reminder that it's not too late to contribute to your IRA accounts for 2016 as long as you are still working and have not yet met your contribution limit. The IRS deadline for contributions is April 18, 2017. Please give us a call if you would like to make a contribution or have any questions.

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Tax Deadline is Fast Approaching

The April 18th deadline to file your tax return is right around the corner. In your rush to meet the deadline we would like to remind you that it’s not too late to contribute to your IRA to receive the tax benefit.  The current funding limit is $5,500 for those under 50 and $6,500 for people 50 and over. Even if you participate in a plan at work you may still contribute, you will not receive the tax deduction but the earnings will grow tax free until you are required to take a distribution – over age 70 1/2. . If you have been thinking about opening an IRA to supplement your retirement there is no better time than the present to get one started. Please contact your advisor to determine which type of IRA would best suit your financial needs.

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Retirement Contribution Limits for 2014

The Kiplinger Letter published a great summary of the changes to Retirement Contribution Limits and it is below:

 

“Several dollar ceilings on retirement plans are heading up this year:

  • The pay in limitation for defined contribution plans increases to $52,000.  That’s a $1,000 hike for Keogh plans, profit sharing plans, and similar arrangements.
  • Retirement plan contributions can be based on up to $260,000 of salary. 
  • And the benefit limit for pension plans is rising to $210,000 in 2014.
  • The income ceilings on Roth IRA pay ins go up.  Contributions phase out at AGIs of $181,000 to $191,000 for couples and $114,000 to $129,000 for singles. 
  • The deduction phase outs for pay ins to regular IRAs start at higher levels, from AGIs of $96,000 to $116,000 for couples and $60,000 to $70,000 for singles.  If only one spouse is covered by a plan, the phase out zone for deducting a contribution for the uncovered spouse begins at $181,000 of AGI and finishes at $191,000.
  • And the partial credit for retirement plan pay ins phases out at higher levels.  For marrieds…at over $60,000.  Household heads…$45,000.  Singles…$30,000.

Several key items won’t change.  The 401(k) pay in limit remains $17,500.  Folks born before 1965 can put in an extra $5,500.  Ditto for 403(b) and 457 plans.  The ceiling on SIMPLEs stays $12,000…$14,500 for folks age 50 or older this year.  Pay in caps for IRAs and Roths remain $5,500 plus $1,000 for anyone 50 and up this year.”

 

The Kiplinger Letter January 3, 2014

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Planning for your 2013 Tax Return

It is never to early to begin planning for next year's tax return. Planning ahead can save you time and money in 2014. Here are six simple steps to take to make your next tax return easier.

1. Adjust your withholding
Now is a good time to review your withholdings to make the taxes withheld from your pay closer to the taxes you will owe for this year. You can use the IRS Withholding Calculator at IRS.gov to complete a new Form W-4.

2.Store your return in a safe place.
Doing so can facilitate locating it in case you need to refer to your return. For example, you may need a copy of your return when applying for a home loan or financial aid.

3. Organize your records
These record include your receipts from big purchases, mileage logs, and other deductable expense.

4. Hire a tax professional
If you already have a tax professional  consult with them now to tart your tax planning for next year.

5.Consider itemizing deductions
If your itemized deductions typically fall just below your standard deduction you can bundle your deductions. If you usually claim a standard deduction, you may be able to reduce your taxes.

6.Keep up with changes
its always good to keep  up with changes in the law especially taxes. For helpful tips, and IRS announcements, visit the IRS website, www.IRS.gov

 

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Time is running out for tax planning on IRAs inherited last year

Normally, heirs get to take distributions from inherited IRAs over their lifetimes. But if just one beneficiary of the account isn't an individual person, the IRA has to be distributed within 5 years for all beneficiaries. The problem can occur when a decedent names a charity or college as one of the beneficiaries. Tax Planning Tip: The IRS allows the individual beneficiaries to take distributions over their lifetime (enjoying tax free earnings growth) as long as the charity, school, etc. is paid off by September 30 of the year following the death of the IRA owner.

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