Are Roth IRAs Still Beneficial under the New Tax Law? 03-12-2018

Roth IRAs can be a smart way for you to save for retirement. And temporary tax rate cuts for 2018 through 2025 under the new tax law could persuade some people to convert traditional IRAs into Roth IRAs sooner rather than later. But the new law also contains a potential pitfall if an account's value unexpectedly falls after it's converted. Here's what you need to know before jumping headfirst into a Roth IRA or a Roth conversion. Continue reading

Close-Up on Mortgage Interest Deduction Rules 02-19-2018

Unfortunately, the new tax law places new limits on home mortgage interest deductions for the 2018 through 2025 tax years. But the changes only affect homeowners with larger first mortgages and those with home equity debt. Are you in danger of losing some of your home mortgage interest deduction under the new law? Read this article to find the answer. Continue reading

New Law Revamps the Kiddie Tax 01-22-2018

The so-called "kiddie tax" was designed to discourage high-income taxpayers from shifting income to children in lower tax brackets to reduce the family's overall tax bill. The kiddie tax can cause a portion of a dependent child's net unearned income to be taxed at higher rates than the regular rates for single taxpayers. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changes the kiddie tax rate structure for 2018 through 2025. Here's how. Continue reading

How Might the New Tax Reform Law Affect You? 12-25-2017

The new tax law has finally passed and the changes generally kick in in 2018. President Trump and Republican members of Congress say it will bring $3.2 trillion in tax cuts. But some individual taxpayers are skeptical. Everyone's situation is unique and not everyone will come out ahead. This article provides an example of how it might affect your taxes in 2018, if you're still eligible to itemize deductions. Continue reading

Landmark Tax Reform Bill Passes 12-25-2017

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is the biggest tax reform package in over 30 years. With tax filing season right around the corner, business and individual taxpayers, with the help of their tax advisors, are scrambling to understand how the changes will affect them. Here are some key elements of the new law. Continue reading

Is Social Media Activity Putting You at Risk? 12-18-2017

Are you planning to go on a vacation this winter? Whether you're trying to escape the cold or visiting loved ones, travel brings photo opportunities that you'll want to share on social media. But think twice before you post a selfie from the beach or check-in at the airport. Thieves have been known to troll social media activity and some insurance companies may review your social media posts before approving theft-related claims. Continue reading

Dialing in on Smartphones for Kids 12-11-2017

What's the "right" age for buying a child his or her first smartphone? These devices can be a major financial investment, so it's important to do your homework. But there are other nonfinancial challenges that need to be factored into this purchase, such as maturity issues, social media concerns, and the risks of cyberbullying and identity theft. Continue reading

Bad Debt Losses: Can You Deduct Loans Gone Bad? 12-04-2017

Attempts by individual taxpayers to claim write-offs for bad debt losses have led to countless deficiency notices from the IRS. This article briefly explains the tax issues related to bad debt loss deductions and summarizes a recent U.S. Tax Court decision that allowed favorable business bad debt treatment for uncollectible loans. Continue reading

You may need to add RMDs to your year-end to-do list 11-27-2017

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

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

A huge penalty

After you reach age 70½, you generally must take annual RMDs from your:

IRAs (except Roth IRAs), and
Defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) plans (unless you’re still an employee and not a 5%-or-greater shareholder of the employer sponsoring the plan).
An RMD deferral is available in the initial year, but then you’ll have to take two RMDs the next year. The RMD rule can be avoided for Roth 401(k) accounts by rolling the balance into a Roth IRA.

For taxpayers who inherit a retirement plan, the RMD rules generally apply to defined-contribution plans and both traditional and Roth IRAs. (Special rules apply when the account is inherited from a spouse.)

RMDs usually must be taken by December 31. If you don’t comply, you can owe a penalty equal to 50% of the amount you should have withdrawn but didn’t.

Should you withdraw more than the RMD?

Taking only RMDs generally is advantageous because of tax-deferred compounding. But a larger distribution in a year your tax bracket is low may save tax.

Be sure, however, to consider the lost future tax-deferred growth and, if applicable, whether the distribution could: 1) cause Social Security payments to become taxable, 2) increase income-based Medicare premiums and prescription drug charges, or 3) affect other tax breaks with income-based limits.

Also keep in mind that, while retirement plan distributions aren’t subject to the additional 0.9% Medicare tax or 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT), they are included in your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). That means they could trigger or increase the NIIT because the thresholds for that tax are based on MAGI.

For more information on RMDs or tax-savings strategies for your retirement plan distributions, please contact us.

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IRS Increases Annual Gift Tax Exclusion for 2018 11-27-2017

Are you feeling generous this holiday season? If so, there's good news: There's still time to make gifts to family members for 2017. Plus, the annual gift tax exclusion has been increased by $1,000 for 2018. Here's how annual gift-giving can add up to major tax savings for your family along with information on how the gift tax works and how recent tax reform proposals could affect your gift and estate plans. Continue reading