DiSabatino CPA Blog

Mike DiSabatino CPA

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

Mike is the founder of the firm of Michael DiSabatino, CPA.  He produces this blog to keep his clients and friends informed of new tax laws, tax saving strategies, as well as, business tips. 

If you have a question or comment for Mike, please use our Contact Form to reach out for us.

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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November 2017 DiSabatino, CPA Newsletter

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November 2017

In this Issue:

  • Year-End Tax Checklist
  • Six Must-Dos When You Donate to Charity 
  • The Equifax Breach and You: Be Proactive
  • Five Great Banking Tips
  • Holiday Shopping Survival Guide 

This Month:

  • Saturday, Nov. 11th: Veterans Day
  • Thursday, Nov. 23rd: Thanksgiving
  • Friday, Nov. 24th: Black Friday (shopping sale day)
  • Monday, Nov. 27th: Cyber Monday (online shopping sale day)
  • Tuesday, Nov. 28th: #GivingTuesday (charitable giving day)
  • Reminder: Conduct year-end tax and financial planning

Now is a good time to review your year-end tax situation while there is still time to act. This newsletter begins with a handy checklist to help you do that. There are details on "must-dos" to get the most out of your charitable donations.

Also inside: personal finance articles on how to protect your credit in the wake of the Equifax security breach earlier this year, as well as how to get the best experience from your bank. Finally, check out the survival guide for the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days.

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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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October 2017 DiSabatino, CPA Newsletter

 

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October 2017

In this Issue:

  • Ace the FAFSA
  • Review Your ITIN Now
  • Dos and Don'ts of Business Expensing
  • Fix Youre Overfunded Account

This month:

  • October 1st: SIMPLE IRA plan establishment due
  • October 15th: Extended tax return filing deadline
  • October 31st: Halloween

Tax reform is under discussion in Congress as we enter the fall months, and students are back in school. While we wait to see what comes out of Washington DC, here are some suggestions for students and parents to get an A+ on their next FAFSA student loan application.

Also included are articles on the requirement to renew your taxpayer identification number, as well as a checklist of "dos" and "don'ts" for anyone taking business expenses for things like travel, meals and entertainment. Since the end of the year is typically when we run into overfunding problems with retirement accounts, there's also an article with tips to fix any issues while there's still time.

As always, should you know of someone who may benefit from this information please feel free to forward this newsletter to them.

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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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September 2017 DiSabatino, CPA Newsletter

 

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September 2017
  • September 4th:
  • Labor Day
  • September 15th:
  • 3rd Quarter Estimated Tax Due
  • October 1st:
  • SIMPLE IRA plan establishment due
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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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