Be sure to choose the business structure that is the best
choice from a liability and tax point of view for the type of business that you have—and
your current and long-term goals.
Be sure you know what a w-9 form is—and know how it affects you and your business.
Be sure you are aware of the tax laws (or hire competent professionals) that affect your business—and tax plan far in advance.
If you have a home based business you can now deduct your home office expense in a less burdensome manner—since the passage of new regulations in 2012.
If you have capital gains during the year you can offset those gains (up to $3,000) against losses—if more than $3,000 in losses you carry the losses forward.
In 2013 the capital gain rate for many taxpayers—depending on your income—will increase from 15% to 20%. If you have taxable income of $400,000 (individual) and $450,000 (joint return) any amount over that amount would be taxed at 20%.
It is important that you realize that the cancellation and reduction of "certain debt" may be taxable to you. It is your responsibility to know this on the front end—prior to engaging in a debt settlement or debt reduction with any of your creditors!
With the January 2013 update of taxes—estate taxes receive some clarification—as the first $5 million in individual estates—and $10 million for family estates—are now exempted from the estate tax.
After that the rate will be 40%, up from 35%—and the exemption amounts are now indexed for inflation.
Excise & Other Taxes
Excise and other taxes that go by various names are also here to stay. Whether they called them fees, licensing—or the like—expect for them to increase in the future—as utilities, local, state, and federal revenue must be created to fund the operations of government.
The federal gift tax applies whenever you give someone besides your spouse a gift worth more than $15,000 (as of tax year 2021).
You can give up to $15,000 to as many recipients as you want without having to pay any gift tax. If you and your spouse want to gift something that you jointly own, you can each give up to $15,000.
If something is community property in your state, you and your spouse are each responsible for half of the value.
In all cases, you and your spouse need to file individual gift tax returns.
When making a gift to a trust, each trust beneficiary is considered a recipient of your gift and you can still gift each beneficiary $15,000 per year.
NOTE: the lifetime gift tax exclusion more than doubled from 2017 to 2018 (went from 5,49 million in 2017 to 11.70 million in 2021) because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a tax reform act that passed in 2017.
Health Savings Accounts
What they are:
An account that is often used to pay medical expenses that occur for an individual or family—that has major tax advantages—that include the following:
How to Qualify:
How to Best Utilize:
You must look at your current income taxes that you pay on a local, state and federal level—and analyze (or pay a competent professional) them in a thorough manner to see if you can reduce or eliminate the taxes that you pay.
If you currently receive a large refund—you may want to adjust your w-4 (payroll withholding).
Under the “Pease Limitations” that
reduce the value of itemized deductions there would be a limitation on the
amount of itemized deductions.
With January 2013 legislation the limitations are permanently repealed for many taxpayers. If you make less than $250,000 (individual) or $300,000 (joint) you won’t be affected.
Mortgage Debt Relief Act
If you find yourself in the position
where you may have to sell your home as a result of a “Short Sale” or you faced—or are facing foreclosure—or you had a loan modification that did not work out—you
still have relief as the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 was extended to January 1st of
The extension means that if you faced any of the above—you would be excluded from paying taxes on the debt that was forgiven.
The Mortgage Insurance Premium Deduction for tax filers who make less than $110,000 was also extended for tax year 2013—meaning that in addition to your interest, property tax and possibly points—you can continue deducting the portion of your housing payment that goes toward the payment of the insurance premium—whether the premium is for an FHA (MIP) or Conventional loan (PMI).
Payroll Taxes (Social Security, Medicare & other Withholdings)
Although your Social Security and
Medicare withholdings are mandated by law—you may be able to control other
areas of your withholdings.
You control your w-4 withholding—your retirement contributions (if you have an employer who provides a match—it may be wise to contribute at a level of the match)—and other withholdings that your employer may offer.
Be sure to consider an IRA—Traditional or Roth. A traditional has the potential to reduce your yearly taxes and help you save for your future—you would be taxed at withdrawal.
A Roth provides no immediate tax reduction—but your contributions and earnings would grow tax free—and you can withdraw your “contributions” tax-free—at basically any time.
You must analyze your current
property taxes—and if you feel they are too high you can utilize the appeal
process to possibly get them reduced!
Be sure that you know the property tax amount that you currently pay—and be sure that you have properly applied for the homestead exemption—and other exemptions that may be available in your community.
Be sure you know the strength or weakness of your local government—as they possess the power to increase or decrease your future Millage Rates—and by knowing the condition of your government you can better plan for the likelihood of tax increases in the future.
You can possibly find the tax rate in you community—or a community that you plan on moving to by Clicking Here...
Be sure to click on "calculators" and then "data tools" to get the needed rates.
You can also go to retirementliving.com to get an overview of property and other taxes in your state—or a state that you anticipate moving to.
Always realize that "property taxes" are local in nature—which means they can vary significantly from county to county--or city to city!
If you have rental properties you can utilize them to possibly decrease your annual taxes if you file them on schedule E (Rental Property form) or a K-1 partnership tax return.
If you have the property set up under a schedule C—self-employed form—you can also possibly utilize the rental properties on your personal tax return to help reduce your taxes owed or increase your refund amount.
deductions and the proper use of depreciation are a few of the major deductions
left for the modest income taxpayer.
If your rental properties are “corporately held” you would possibly gain a tax advantage on your corporations return.
If you had a pass through corporation (S-corporation) you would possibly have taxable income—on your personal tax return. If the S corporation reported a loss—you could possibly reduce the amount of taxes that you owe or increase your refund amount.
It is important that you have a realistic understanding of how your retirement income will be taxed at the State as well as Federal level!
You must have a basic understanding (right now) of how your Estate & Inheritance taxes, Social Security Benefits, IRA's, Pensions & Other Retirement Accounts will be taxed during your retirement years.
Taxation of the above is fairly consistent at the Federal level—but varies greatly from State to State. Be sure you have an understanding of the taxation of your retirement income in your State!
Do you know if estate and inheritance taxes are applicable in your state based on the size and value of your estate?
Do you know if Social Security benefits will be taxed in your State—or the State that you plan on retiring in?
Do you know the States that don't tax income at all (Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming)?
Do you know if there are exclusions in your state that allows some or all of your retirement income to be excluded from taxation?
For example—in my State—Georgia—there is a generous retirement income exclusion of $65,000 for taxpayers 65 and older ($130,000 if Married Filing Jointly). Those age 62 to 64 can take a $35,000 exemption per person.
Did you know that 6 States (California, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Vermont) offer no exclusions at all for retirement income?
In short, it is your responsibility to look into how your taxes will be affected during your retirement years at—both the Federal—and State level.
Sale of Residence
The sale of your residence if done properly could lead to a real windfall for you and your family.
If you remain at the residence for 2 plus years and later sell your property at a gain—you can exclude $250,000 of the gain if you are single—and up to $500,000 of the gain if you are married.
Be sure you know all of the parameters involved—if you are considering selling your home—and you want to exclude the gain from taxation.
Note: if a portion of your residence is used for business and deducted on your taxes—that portion will be subject to recapture (will be taxed at time of sale)—thus the amount of your excluded gain will be reduced.
You must realize that sales taxes are here to stay—and you must be prepared to pay them now—and in the future. Unless you live in Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, or Oregon you will have to pay sales tax on your purchases.
If you travel a lot—be sure that you understand that hotel and lodging taxes vary sustantially from state to state—and even city to city—in the same state. You may pay as low as 9.4% in Colorado Springs, Colorado to as high as 17.5% in Birmingham, Alabama. The average rate usually fluctuates in the 13% to 14% range—across the United States.
To find the sales tax rate in your state—or a state that you plan on moving to—Click Here...
It is important that you understand the concept of "stepped-up basis"—as it simply means that you will get a break on your taxes if you inherit a house, stocks, bonds, mutual funds etcetera—from your parent(s) or spouse—due to the value being assessed at the current market price—not the value when it was purchased.
If your parent was to transition and as part of the estate you received a house currently valued at $350,000—but the property was purchased by your parent 30 years ago for $50,000—you would not owe taxes on $300,000 (the difference between purchase price and the current value if you were to sell immediately after your parents transition).
Instead, if you sold the property for $350,000—you would owe zero in taxes.
If you sold the property for $400,000 you would owe taxes on $50,000 ($400,000 minus $350,000)—meaning the value of the property was "stepped-up" to the current market value of $350,000.
That is important information to know—on the front end whether you are inheriting property—or you plan on leaving property for your heirs.
It is important to realize that in similar fashion stocks, bonds and mutual funds also receive "stepped up basis" treatment when they are inherited.
If your parent purchased stocks 20 years ago for $15,000 and at the time of their transition the stocks are worth $200,000—your basis would be stepped-up to $200,000—and if you sold immediately—you would owe zero in taxes.
If you sold the stocks 2 years later for $300,000—you would owe taxes on $100,000 ($300,000 minus $200,000) instead of $285,000 ($300,000 minus the $15,000 original basis).
Always realize that inherited IRA's whether ROTH or Traditional can be tricky—as there are certain rules, guidelines and nuances that must be adhered to if your goal is to minimize your taxes.
Be sure to utilize competent professionals if you were to inherit a home, stocks, bonds, mutual funds etcetera—whether inside or outside of a retirement account.
In addition, be aware that if your parent had income (salary, interest, dividends etc.) that was owed to them at the time of their transition—income tax could still be owed on the income—and you might be required to pay it.
NOTE: Always keep the federal and state exemption amounts in mind when you are receiving—or leaving property as a result of a loved ones transition—or your transition. Even though you may be eligible for the federal exemption if your estate is smaller than 5.34 million (2014 limit) and possibly double that amount if it was your spouse who transitioned—you may indeed owe at the state level—so always keep that in mind when doing your tax planning.
For income tax preparation you can utilize the tax professional of your choice—or if your tax situation is not very complicated you can choose among—the following: