DiSabatino CPA Blog

DiSabatino CPA Blog

A blog by Michael DiSabatino CPA with topics on Tax Savings, Business, Management and more...

Mike's weekly post usually concentrated on tax saving strategies.

Avoid Tax Traps in Loans to Friends and Family

money trap

Lending to friends and relatives is a tricky business, and not only because of the stress it can place on your relationships. There are tax issues involved as well. If you have to lend money to someone close, here are some tips to do it right in the eyes of the tax code.

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Understanding Tax Terms: Installment Sales

real estate

If you use an installment sale to help sell real estate, you can benefit from tax deferral and possibly lower your overall tax bill. But you need to watch out for certain tax traps if you do.

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A Quick Look at the Proposed Tax Bill

new-law

I just started to look at the Tax Bill proposed by the House.  There are surprisingly many issues that have not been discussed in any articles or newscasts that I am aware of... Here are some of my initial take-a-ways :

  • Tax Preparation Fees deduction will be eliminated.
  • Alimony will not be deductible or taxable for divorce agreements signed after 12/31/2017.
  • The discussion of the "Maximum Tax Rate on Business Income of Individuals" is 2 pages long. I think it will take an 8-hour seminar to understand !!! 
  • "Simplification and Reform of Family and Individual Tax Credits" is 2 1/2 pages.
  •  "Simplification and Reform of Education Incentives" (3 1/2 pages). 
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Roll it Before You Pull it: Tips to avoid IRS penalties on 401(k) retirement plan distributions

401-k

While each retirement plan has similar early withdrawal penalty exemptions, they are not all alike. Knowing these subtle differences within 401(k) plans can help you avoid a 10 percent tax penalty if you take money out of the plan prior to reaching age 59 1/2. This is true because a basic rollover of funds into a Traditional IRA is a readily available option to avoid the penalty. You should consider rolling over your 401(k) into an IRA prior to early distribution when:

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IRS Releases Key 2018 Tax Information

tax

The IRS recently announced key figures for 2018, using figures based on the Consumer Price Index published by the Department of Labor. Use these early figures to start developing your tax strategies for next year.

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2018 Social Security Changes Announced

security

The Social Security Administration announced this week a 2 percent boost to monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for 2018. The increase is the largest since 2012, and is based on the rise in the Consumer Price Index over the past 12 months ending in September 2017.

For those still contributing to Social Security through wages, the potential maximum income subject to Social Security tax increases 1.2 percent this year, to $128,700. A recap of the key amounts is outlined here:

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Where Do You Think You're Going?! State tax authorities becoming very aggressive when you move

moving

Suppose you retire to a new state with warm weather and lower taxes. If you keep a part-time home in your original state or you later decide to return, you could have a tax problem. State tax authorities may argue you never really left, and that you owe them a big tax bill for all the income you earned while away. Here are tips to ensure this does not happen to you.

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Major Tax Reform: What is Proposed

Tax

There is now a ton of media chatter about the recently introduced federal tax reform package being passed around in Washington, D.C. While it's still early in the process, here are some of the key elements of the current proposal.

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Seeing Inside the Mind of the IRS: Using the IRS Audit Technique Guidelines (ATGs)

audit

While most of us are never audited, when it happens we can feel like a lamb thrown in a room with a lion. The IRS auditor does these audits every day. They know what to look for, and may ask leading questions that are easy to answer incorrectly. Here are some tips to help you when you are in the crosshairs of an IRS audit.

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Five Tax-Loss Harvesting Tips

harvest

Though the markets have been up strongly this year, your investment portfolio could have a few lemons in it. Using the tax strategy of tax-loss harvesting, you may be able to turn those lemons into lemonade. Here are five tips:

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Alternatives to the College Tuition Deduction

EducationSavings

Now that college students are settling into their first weeks of school, it's important for parents and students to recall that the $4,000 tuition and fees deduction they may have relied on in past years is no longer available in 2017. The good news is that there are alternatives. Here are two of the more popular education credits:

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Reminder: Third Quarter Estimated Taxes Due!!!

due taxes

If you have not already done so, now is the time to review your tax situation and make an estimated quarterly tax payment using Form 1040-ES. The third-quarter due date is now here.

Normal due date: Friday, September 15th 2017

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One Last Checkup: Are you withholding enough for your taxes?

Hold Tax

As we enter into the fall months, it's a good time to check your tax withholdings to make sure you haven't been paying too much or too little. This is especially true if major changes took place in your life this year to your marital status, number of dependents, or your employment.

This quick checkup will ensure you are not surprised with a large tax bill when you file your income tax return. Fortunately, you still have a few months left to fix any problems. 

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Save on Your Doggone Taxes: The IRS and your pets

calculate

It seems like there’s a tax statute that touches on nearly every aspect of our lives. But that’s not all. Tax laws also include the lives of our furry friends. That’s right, even your pets can show up in your tax return in surprising ways.

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Better Bartering Basics

Barter

Better Bartering Basics

The IRS is clear on their point of view. If you barter you must include the barter activity's fair market value as income on your tax return in the year the barter activity is performed. But is it really that simple? Here are some things to consider if you barter.

What is fair market value? The classic definition is the price someone is willing to pay and someone is willing to receive for the exchange of goods or services. But we all know this requires a level of judgment. What if an item is on sale when the barter activity is performed? Are prices always the same for a similar item or service? Prior to establishing the value of a barter item, shop around and take the lowest defendable value possible for your bartered item.

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Be Sure It's Really the IRS: Constantly changing scams require your attention

danger IRS

Believe it or not, pretending to be an IRS agent is one of the favorite tactics of scam artists, according to the Better Business Bureau. The con artists impersonate the IRS to either intimidate people into making payments over the phone, or to send misleading emails tricking people into sharing personal information digitally.

You can defend yourself against these scammers by knowing these simple rules:

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Turning Your Hobby Into a Business

From-Hobby-To-Buisness

You’ve loved dogs all your life so you decide tostart a dog breeding and trainingbusiness. Turning your hobby into a business can provide tax benefits if you do it right. But it can create a big tax headache if you do it wrong.

One of the main benefits of turning your hobby into a businessis that you can deduct all your qualified business expenses, even if it results in a loss. However, if you don’t properly transition your hobby into a business in the eyes of the IRS, you could be waving a red flag that reads, “Audit Me!” The agency uses several criteria to distinguish whether an activity is a hobby or a business. Check the chart below to see how your activity measures up.

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Understanding Tax Terms: The Marriage Penalty Couples filing jointly still get the short end of the stick

Marriage Tax

There are a lot of positive things about getting married, but the IRS' marriage penalty isn't one of them.

The marriage penalty occurs when you pay more tax as a married couple than you would as two single filers making the same amount of money. It pops up again and again in the federal tax code.

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Renters Miss Out on Homeowner Benefits

homeownsership

If you rent rather than own a home, you could be missing out on tax benefits that favor home ownership. The current low interest rates make the cost of getting a mortgage relatively inexpensive, despite U.S. house prices at record highs.

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Triple Tax: aka The Lottery

Lottery

Most everyone enjoys dreaming of winning it big in the lottery. News media outlets publicize the large unclaimed pots of money on the evening news and they put a spotlight on the lucky multi-million dollar winners. Ever wonder what the tax math looks like?

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