Check our blog for updates on regulations or resources that can be used to help you and your business achieve your financial goals.
The Internal Revenue Service is urging taxpayers to be on the lookout for a surge of calls and email phishing attempts about the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. These contacts can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft.
"We urge people to take extra care during this period. The IRS isn't going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "That also applies to surprise emails that appear to be coming from the IRS. Remember, don't open them or click on attachments or links. Go to IRS.gov for the most up-to-date information."
Taxpayers should watch not only for emails but text messages, websites and social media attempts that request money or personal information.
“History has shown that criminals take every opportunity to perpetrate a fraud on unsuspecting victims, especially when a group of people is vulnerable or in a state of need,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Don Fort. “While you are waiting to hear about your economic impact payment, criminals are working hard to trick you into getting their hands on it. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division is working hard to find these scammers and shut them down, but in the meantime, we ask people to remain vigilant.”
Don’t fall prey to Coronavirus tricks; retirees among potential targets
The IRS and its Criminal Investigation Division have seen a wave of new and evolving phishing schemes against taxpayers. In most cases, the IRS will deposit economic impact payments into the direct deposit account taxpayers previously provided on tax returns. Those taxpayers who have previously filed but not provided direct deposit information to the IRS will be able to provide their banking information online to a newly designed secure portal on IRS.gov in mid-April. If the IRS does not have a taxpayer’s direct deposit information, a check will be mailed to the address on file. Taxpayers should not provide their direct deposit or other banking information for others to input on their behalf into the secure portal.
The IRS also reminds retirees who don’t normally have a requirement to file a tax return that no action on their part is needed to receive their economic impact payment. Seniors should be especially careful during this period. The IRS reminds retirees that no one from the agency will be reaching out to them by phone, email, mail or in person asking for any kind of information to complete their economic impact payment, also sometimes referred to as rebates or stimulus payments. The IRS is sending these payments automatically to retirees – no additional action or information is needed on their part to receive this.
The IRS reminds taxpayers that scammers may:
- Emphasize the words “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.” The official term is economic impact payment.
- Ask the taxpayer to sign over their economic impact payment check to them.
- Ask by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information saying that the information is needed to receive or speed up their economic impact payment.
- Suggest that they can get a tax refund or economic impact payment faster by working on the taxpayer’s behalf. This scam could be conducted by social media or even in person.
- Mail the taxpayer a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, then tell the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.
Reporting Coronavirus-related or other phishing attempts
Those who receive unsolicited emails, text messages or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), should forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone. Learn more about reporting suspected scams by going to the Report Phishing and Online Scams page on IRS.gov.
On Friday, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) into law. The CARES Act provide significant financial assistance to individuals and businesses, among others. Below are some resources links as well as some of the highlights of this historical $2.2 trillion stimulus package and how it affects you as an individual and/or a business..
Direct payments to some taxpayers through Recovery Rebates
The CARES Act provides recovery rebates of up to $1,200 for individuals with adjusted gross income (AGI) up to $75,000 ($2,400 for joint filers with AGI up to $150,000), plus an additional $500 for each child under the age of 17 (subject to certain exceptions) for US taxpayers through an advance refundable tax credit against 2020 income taxes.
There is a phase-out of the rebate, which causes a $50 reduction in the rebate for every $1,000 of AGI above these thresholds. For example, individuals with no children having AGI of more than $99,000 and married couples with no children filing jointly with AGI of more than $198,000 would be phased-out completely and receive no recovery rebate.
The recovery rebate will be based on the AGI reported on returns filed for 2019. If no return has been filed yet for 2019 the AGI reported on the 2018 tax return will be used. Delaying the filing of the 2019 tax return may be beneficial for some.
Expanded unemployment benefits
The Act provides an extra $600 per week in addition to state unemployment benefits. This additional amount applies to unemployment payments made from the date of the law's enactment through July 31, 2020 (approximately 4 months).
Coronavirus-related distributions from retirement plans (IRAs, 401(k)s, and others)
Individuals may take distributions from qualified retirement plans of up to $100,000 without the distributions being subject to the 10% early withdrawal penalty.
Retirement plan distributions are still subject to income tax, which may be spread out over a 3 year period beginning with 2020. You can recontribute the funds back into the retirement account within 3 years without regard to annual contribution limits and treat the distribution and later recontribution as a totally tax-free rollover.
Temporarily Waiving the 2020 Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from retirement accounts
The Act temporarily waives the required minimum distribution rules for 2020, therefore permitting a further deferral of taxes and allowing account balances to rebound.
Expanded tax deduction for charitable contributions
The Act allows taxpayers to take an above-the-line tax deduction for charitable contributions of up to $300 for the tax year beginning in 2020.
The Act also increases the limitation on charitable contribution deductions for the 2020 tax year. For corporations, the 10% of taxable income limitation is increased to 25%. For individuals, the 15% limitation is increased to 25%.
All payments of principal and interest for certain federal student loans are suspended through September 30,2020. The suspended payments are treated as if made for consumer credit reporting.
The CARES Act also waives or modifies requirements with respect to the receipt of federal education grants, and allows deviations in the use and distribution of such grants. Further, provisions are made for students who have withdrawn from school or relocated due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Federally Backed Mortgages
Borrowers under federally backed family mortgages may submit a forbearance request if they are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis. The lender must grant the request, without penalties, fees or interest, for a period of up to 180 days (subject to another 180 day extension at borrower’s request). Foreclosure action is prohibited for the 60 day period beginning March 18, 2020.
Multi-family borrowers (assets designed for occupancy of 5 or more families) are entitled to forbearance and foreclosure protection on slightly different terms, and renters of such dwellings are provided eviction protection.
Paycheck Protection Program - Forgivable SBA Loan
The CARES Act creates a new type of loan for the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) to administer. Unlike the disaster loans currently available through the SBA, these loans are potentially forgivable up to 100% of the principal amount borrowed. Additionally, unlike the disaster loans, these forgivable loans are not tied directly to establishing losses suffered during the national disaster — there is a presumption of negative impact from COVID-19. These loans do not require collateral or guarantees. What this means to you is that the other eligibility requirements of the SBA loan participation (e.g., average annual receipts) are not applicable, and this program is available (i) to many new businesses not otherwise able to avail themselves to the SBA loan programs, and (ii) provides much friendlier terms than traditional SBA loan programs.
Eligible entities are those with less than 500 employees, including the following:
- 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations
- Veterans organizations
- Certain tribal business concerns
- Eligible self-employed individuals
- Independent contractors
- Sole proprietorships
- Businesses in the accommodation and food services industry (NAICS 72) that have less than 500 employees per physical location
For the purposes of determining the 500 employee threshold, applicants should include full time, part-time and other basis employees. General SBA affiliations apply except such rules are waived with respect to:
- Businesses in the accommodation and food services industry (NAICS 72),
- Franchises assigned a franchise identifier code
- Business licensed under Section 301 of the Small Business Investment Act
Amount of Loan
Generally, the amount of the loan is capped at the lesser of $10 million and 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs incurred in the one-year period before the date of the loan. Payroll costs include salary/wages/tips, sick/family leave/PTO, severance payments, group health benefits (including insurance premiums), retirement benefits, and state or local taxes assessed on employee compensation. However, for any employee who is paid more than $100,000 salary, only the amount up to $100,000 (prorated for the covered period) is calculated into the number.
In the case of seasonal employers, the employer may choose to calculate the average monthly payroll costs based on the 12-week period starting February 15, 2019 or the period starting March 1, 2019 through June 30, 2019.
In the case of new employers not in business between February 15, 2019 and July 30, 2019, the average monthly payroll costs is calculated based on the period beginning January 1, 2020 through February 29, 2020.
Terms of Loan
An eligible borrower may receive one covered loan, and such proceeds may be used for: payroll costs; continuation of group health care benefits during periods of paid sick, medical, or family leave, or insurance premiums; salaries or commissions or similar compensation; interest on mortgage obligations; rent; utilities; and interest on other outstanding debt.
The terms of the amount of any portion of the loan that is not forgiven will be for a term not to exceed 10 years and at an interest rate of no more than 4%.
Notably, certain SBA requirements are waived. Loans are available with:
- No personal guaranties of shareholders, members or partners
- No collateral
- No proving recipient cannot obtain funds elsewhere
- No SBA fees (may still have to pay lender processing fee)
- No prepayment fee
The amount of the loan that is forgivable is the sum of the payroll costs, mortgage interest payment, rent, and utilities incurred or paid by the borrower during the 8-week period beginning on the loan origination date. If the recipient of the loan laid off employees or reduced wages/salaries of its workforce in the period between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020, the amount of forgiveness is reduced proportionally by (i) any reduction in employees retained compared to historical levels, and (ii) the decrease in pay of any employee beyond 25% of their historical compensation. Notably, furloughs would necessarily impact this loan forgiveness analysis as well.
To encourage workforce stabilization, the CARES Act takes into account that many businesses might already have or are planning to lay off personnel or cut salaries. If those changes were made between February 15, 2020 and April 26, 2020, those changes are not counted if the business rehires the number of personnel or returns the adjusted salary, as applicable, by June 30, 2020.
Borrowers must apply for forgiveness with the lender servicing the loan. Lenders have 60 days to review and make a determination. Any portion of the loan that is forgiven will be excluded from gross income.
The CARES Act also creates a new grant program under the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance to provide quick relief for applications awaiting processing of SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (“EIDL”). Loan applicants can get up to $10,000 to cover immediate payroll, mortgage, rent, and other specified expenses. This grant does not have to be repaid. A business that receives an EIDL can apply for, or refinance its EIDL into, the forgivable loan product.
Further, lenders on existing SBA backed loans are encouraged to provide payment deferments and extend maturity dates to avoid balloon payment or requirements that would increase debt as a result of deferment. The SBA will pay lenders the deferred principal and interest for a period.
The CARES Act also provides assistance to businesses through the modification of rules related to net operating losses (“NOLs”), interest expense deductions, alternative minimum tax credits and trade or business losses of non-corporate taxpayers. Many of these modifications are designed to provide critical cash flow and liquidity to businesses during the COVID-19 emergency, including through amending prior tax returns to obtain tax refunds. What this means to you is that employers have several tools available to them to help with cash flow, claim tax refunds, or reduce upcoming tax payments. Below are some of those tools:
Employee Retention Credit
Under the CARES Act, employers may be eligible for a refundable tax credit for the employer’s share of the 6.2% Social Security tax (the “SSI Tax Credit”). The potential SSI Tax Credit is for 50% of the first $10,000 in qualified wages (including health plan expenses) paid to each employee commencing on March 13, 2020.
To be eligible, an employer must (i) have had operations fully or partially suspended because of a shut-down order from a governmental authority related to COVID-19, or (ii) have had gross receipts decline by more than 50% in a calendar quarter when compared to the same quarter in 2019 (and will remain eligible until the earlier of (i) gross receipts exceeding 80% relative to the same quarter in the prior year, or (ii) December 31, 2020). For employers with more than 100 employees (based on 2019 employment levels), qualified wages are limited to wages paid to employees who were not providing services due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Note, however, that the SSI Tax Credit is not available if the employer receives a covered loan from the SBA, as discussed above under Forgivable SBA Loan Program.
Payroll Tax Deferral
In addition to potentially receiving the SSI Tax Credit, the CARES Act allows employers to defer the payment of the employer’s share of the 6.2% Social Security tax on wages paid beginning on March 27, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2020. A corresponding deferral is also permitted for the equivalent portion of self-employment taxes.
The deferred amounts are payable in two installments, with 50% of such taxes being due on December 31, 2021, and the remainder due on December 31, 2022.
Note, this deferral of Social Security taxes is not, however, allowed where the employer has had a covered loan forgiven, as discussed above under Forgivable SBA Loan Program.
Business Interest Deductions
For the 2019 and 2020 tax years, taxpayers may elect to increase the limit on allowable business interest deduction from 30% to 50% of adjusted taxable income (“ATI”). In addition, taxpayers can elect to use their adjusted taxable income (ATI) in 2019 in place of their 2020 ATI for purposes of determining the deductibility of their business interest expense for 2020, which could increase the business interest deduction. Partnerships are subject to special provisions. This provision is intended to allow businesses to increase liquidity with a reduced cost of capital, so that the businesses are able to continue operations and keep employees on payroll.
Net Operating Losses
The 2017 tax reform bill changed the treatment of NOLs. The CARES Act relaxes these limitations on a corporation’s use of NOLs. The CARES Act allows businesses to carry back NOLs incurred in 2018, 2019, and 2020 for five years (excluding offset to untaxed foreign earnings transition tax). Previously, these NOLs could only be carried forward. This could be significant for businesses that have the ability to carry back NOLs to offset income that was taxed at 35% before 2017 tax reform.
In addition, for taxable years beginning prior to January 1, 2021, taxpayers can offset 100% of taxable income with NOL carryovers and carrybacks (instead of limiting such offsets to 80% of taxable income). If there are refunds available by operation of these new rules, corporations can use the IRS’s quick refund procedures (Form 1139) to claim the refund.
There are several other provisions in the CARES Act that are not highlighted above. Those provisions include, among others, enhancements to the nation’s programs to support the health care system, provisions and investments to improve the nation’s preparation for future outbreaks, and the providing of relief for educational institutions and other designated industries.
As always, please feel free to reach out to us to see how these provisions can best help you during this time.
Stay safe and healthy!
On March 18,2020, the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) into law. The legislation will enable covered employers to keep their workers on their payrolls, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus. This will be achieved through paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
In addition to the legislation outlined below, an additional estimated $2.2 trillion stimulus package is in the works. It has been passed by the Senate, but still needs to be passed by the house and signed by the President. Once that happens and the details are finalized, we will inform you on how that stimulus package, in conjunction with the information in this email, can benefit businesses and their employees.
More guidance regarding the details of these measures is anticipated to be released soon. Please know that we are receiving updates almost daily on the new laws being passed and will continue to share that information with you as it becomes available.
Department of Labor Poster
The DOL has provided a poster that each employer is required to keep posted, in conspicuous places on their premises where notices to employees are generally posted. This poster summarizes the Employees' Rights under the FFCRA.
Click here for a link to the DOL poster.
Click here for additional DOL information as it relates to COVID-19 and the Workplace.
Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Paid Leave
Generally, employers covered under the Act must provide employees with up to two weeks (80 hours, or a part-time employer's two-week equivalent) of paid sick leave based on the higher of their regular rate of pay, or the applicable state of Federal minimum wage, paid at:
- 100% for qualifying reasons #1-3 below, up to $511 daily and $5,110 total;
- 2/3 for qualifying reasons #4 and #6 below, up to $200 daily and $2,000 total; and
- Up to 10 weeks more of paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave paid at 2/3 for qualifying reason #5 below for up to $200 daily and $12,000 total.
A part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.
Qualifying Reasons for Leave Related to COVID-19
Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for paid sick time if the employee is unable to work (or unable to telework) due to a need for leave because the employee:
1. is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 (this does not apply to recently announced "Stay-at-Home" orders);
2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
3. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
4. is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
5. is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
6. is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.
The paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA apply to certain public employers, and private employers with fewer than 500 employees.
Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.
All employees of covered employers are eligible for two weeks of paid sick time for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Employees employed for at least 30 days are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to care for a child under certain circumstances related to COVID-19.
Tax Credits to Help Offset Providing Paid Leave
For covered employers who are required to provide the above paid leave, the FFCRA offers some relief through tax credits. A payroll tax credit is available for up to $511 per day for paid sick leave and up to $200 per day for family and medical leave. This credit will be based on each employee's total for 10 days of paid leave. Employers should maintain records on employees who qualify for the paid leave, including the reason for the leave and the number of days taken in order to qualify for the credit.
This tax credit will result in an immediate dollar-for-dollar tax offset against payroll taxes. Where a refund is owed, the IRS will send the refund as quickly as possible.
Self-employed individuals under similar circumstances will also be eligible for tax credits which can be claimed on the income tax return and/or can reduce their estimated tax payments.
As mentioned above, more guidance regarding the details of these measures is anticipated to be released soon. Please know that we are receiving updates almost daily on the new laws being passed and will continue to share that information with you as it becomes available. Stay safe and healthy!
Sources: IRS and Department of Labor
On Friday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the deadline to file your 2019 federal income tax return has been moved from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. Taxpayers can also defer federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020 (including first quarter 2020 estimated federal income tax payments), to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed.
This deferment applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax. It is expected that states, including Missouri, will follow this new filing deadline as well.
Taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms to qualify for this automatic tax filing extension and payment relief.
Although the filing deadline has been moved to July 15, 2020, we will continue working to complete tax returns in a timely manner. As we continue to monitor the issues related to the COVID-19 virus, we will keep you informed of any further information as it is released.
If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact our office anytime. We thank you for the trust you have placed in us, and we hope you and your family stay safe and healthy.
We wanted to inform you of some important 2019 tax filing information in light of the current Novel Cornonavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
- The 2019 individual income tax filing deadline is still April 15, 2020.
- The Treasury Department is allowing a deferment of 90 days (July 15th) to pay any 2019 federal income taxes that are owed, up to $1 million for individuals and $10 million for businesses.
- Estimated federal income tax payments for the first quarter of 2020 which would normally be due on April 15th have been given a 90 day deferment (July 15th).
- During this 90 day deferment period, taxpayers will not be subject to interest or penalties.
- Missouri will be applying these same deferments for any 2019 Missouri income taxes that are owed and estimated income tax payments for first quarter 2020.
- Any 2019 contributions to retirement plans (i.e. IRAs) or college savings plans (i.e. 529s) are still due by April 15, 2020.
In review, your individual income tax return still needs to be filed by April 15, 2020. You do not need to file anything special to take advantage of the payment deferment. Make sure that your payment(s) is(are) made by July 15, 2020.
If you should have any questions about how these changes might affect you, please feel free to contact our office. We thank you for the trust you have placed in us, and we hope you and your family remain healthy and safe.
The health and safety of our clients, staff, and those in our community are extremely important to us. In response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the recommendations from local, state, and federal agencies we have made a few changes that we wanted to make you aware of.
Our office does remain open at this time. However, earlier this week we began a "work from home" policy allowing part of our staff to work remotely in an effort to reduce the number of people physically in our office. All staff are still accessible by email or phone in order to avoid any disruption in normal business activity. We are also encouraging clients to mail or drop-off their tax documents with a follow-up phone call as an alternative to an in-person meeting.
In the event that you feel the need to physically come into our office please know that we are taking the following actions:
- Increased cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces in lobby and commonly used areas
- Hand sanitizer throughout the office
- Reducing the number of people physically in the office through our "work from home" policy
- Offering client phone meetings with mail-in or drop-off options
- Limited in-person meetings, as necessary
As of now the tax filing deadline is still April 15th. However, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has announced that most taxpayers will get a 90 day extension to pay federal income taxes that are owed. More details regarding these tax payment deferments are expected soon.
Our team is well equipped to continue providing the level of service you have come to expect from us. If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact us anytime. We thank you for the trust you have placed in us, and we hope you and your family remain healthy and safe.
As your financial advisors, we want to remind you that the “bad actors” who want to compromise your security online don’t take vacations. Instead, they have an eye out for when you do. Here’s how to keep them from compromising your online safety while you travel:
Before You Go:
Sign up for fraud alerts from your financial institutions
Many major banks and credit cards can send you free alerts by text, email or phone call if you have a suspicious transaction. Be sure to call and see if this service is available, and that you have it activated before you leave on vacation.
Turn off location services, and auto connect for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on your devices
These can be a great convenience, helping you move seamlessly through your day. But, if you leave them on while you are on vacation, anyone sitting nearby – say in a hotel or coffee shop – can track you or get access to your data. If you take your laptop, turn off auto file sharing, too.
Enable PINs and passcodes on your devices
This is your first line of defense in case your phone is lost or stolen. Also, check to be sure it’s set to require the password in the shortest amount of time. Annoying for you – but even more annoying for the “bad actors”.
Install anti-virus protection
Be sure all your devices are equipped with virus protection, and that it’s running the latest updates.
While You’re Away:
Use only password-protected Wi-Fi from networks you recognize
Avoid “free” public Wi-Fi – you might pay the price of giving the bad actors access to your information. Most hotels (and even some restaurants) have password-protected networks.
Don’t post your vacation on social media while you’re away
Even if you or one of your family members is “Instagram Famous,” stay off of social media platforms while you’re away. Your posts are broadcasting to strangers that your home is vacant, as well as giving plenty of clues when you’re not at your hotel, too. Post highlights from your trip when you get back.
Be careful on public computers
If you use a public computer – in your hotel business center or an internet café, for example – be sure to log out of any accounts you accessed before leaving. (And you should note that if you do need to check financial accounts, it’s usually safest to do it from a wired connection – not Wi-Fi – or a cellular on your phone.) Also, if a URL starts with “https”//” it means you have a more secure connection.
Thank you for allowing us to work with you to help you pursue your financial goals, and we wish you continued success.
We found this information on pool safety to be a good reminder. We thought you might be able to use it, too.
Keeping Summer Safe: Pool and Spa Safety Tips
The backyard pool can be great summer fun, but it can also be a source of danger for children. Every year hundreds of children fatally drown. If you have a pool or spa, here are seven simple tips to keep your children and their friends safe during swim season.
Seven Safety Tips to Save Lives
1) Adult Supervision: Always be present when children are using the pool. As any parent knows, it only takes moments for children to place themselves in dangerous situations, so stay attentive.
2) Keep a Life Ring or Shepherd’s Crook Nearby: This lifesaver can quickly pull someone from the pool. Always check that it is in good condition.
3) Fence and Alarms: Make sure your pool is protected by a fence. You may even want to add an alarm system that can warn you of unintended use of the pool.
4) Rope or Float Line: This can distinguish between the shallow and deep ends and serve as a visual reminder to young children not to pass.
5) Lock Your Hot Tub Cover: Young children may not be tall enough to stand up in the hot tub or fully appreciate how quickly heated water can lead to dehydration or other accidents.
6) Safely Store All Pool Chemicals: These chemicals represent a danger not only to children but the adults who use them. Find a safe storage area and handle them properly.
7) Cover Pool Drains: Suction entrapment can lead to death. Make sure all drains are properly installed with certified covers. Periodically check to ensure that they are not damaged.
With these simple steps, you can increase the safety of your pool or hot tub, without any loss in the fun and joy they bring.
Owning a vacation home can offer tax breaks, but they may differ from those associated with a primary residence. The key is whether a vacation home is used solely for personal enjoyment or is also rented out to tenants.
Sorting it out
If your vacation home is not rented out, or if you rent it out for no more than 14 days a year, the tax benefits are essentially the same as those you’d receive if you own your primary residence. In this scenario, you’d generally be able to deduct your mortgage interest and real estate taxes on Schedule A of your federal income tax return, up to certain limits. Also, you may exclude all your rental income.
But the rules are different if you rent out your vacation home for 15 or more days annually. First, the rental income must be reported. Second, in this scenario, the IRS considers your vacation home to be an investment property and, thus, allows deductions related to the rental of the property, with certain limitations. In addition to mortgage interest and real estate taxes, these deductions generally include insurance, utilities, housekeeping, repairs and depreciation. Also, the deduction for certain categories of expenses cannot exceed the rental income.
If you exceed this number of days of rentals and use your vacation home for personal use, these deductions will be limited by the ratio of actual rental days to the total days of use of the home. Suppose, for example, that you personally use your vacation home for 25 days and rent it for 75 days in a year, so the home is used for 100 total days. Here, you would be allowed to deduct 75% of the expenses listed above as rental expenses. Be aware that a portion of the mortgage interest and real estate taxes may be deductible on Schedule A. In certain circumstances, however, the personal portion of your mortgage interest may not be deductible.
If you want to maximize the tax benefits of your vacation home, limit your personal use of the home to no more than 14 days or 10% of the total rental days. If you want to personally use the home more than this, you can still realize some limited tax benefits. Contact our firm for details about your specific situation.
If you make estimated tax payments, this is a reminder that your second quarter Federal and Missouri tax estimates are due on or before June 17, 2019.
If we prepared your tax return, please use your pre-printed forms and mail with your checks to the address indicated on the estimate vouchers. You should refer to your 2018 tax folder for this information. Also, be sure to write your social security number and "2019 1040-ES" on the memo line of your check.
Many parents today suffer from sticker shock when they learn what it costs to send their children to college. While the cost of college can be a hard pill to swallow for parents of college-bound teens, now is the time for parents to get familiar with a 529 College Savings Plan. The commonly used college savings plan has offered parents, and their college-bound kid(s), tax-free withdrawals to pay for college.
Here’s what you need to know about a 529 College Savings Plan:
- Also known as a “qualified tuition program,” a 529 Plan allows an individual to save for higher education expenses for a determined beneficiary.
- Anyone—whether they are a family member or friend—can establish a 529 Plan for a designated beneficiary.
- A 529 Plan is provided by a state, an agency of the state or by an educational institution itself.
- Money invested in the plan accumulates on a tax-deferred basis and distributions used for higher education expenses are tax and penalty-free, as long as the funds are used for approved education expenses.
If you are considering establishing a trust for your child to pay for college instead, here’s what you should know:
- Most trust funds may not be effective means of sheltering this cash from the financial aid process—if your child will be applying for aid trust funds can be counted in the financial aid process as an asset of the child. This could affect your child’s eligibility for aid.
- A potential work around to the above issue could be established if the trust was restricted to withdrawing just the principle for the beneficiary.
Be sure to work with a financial professional before investing in a 529 Plan to understand eligibility requirements. Some plans will only allow savings to be used to pay for college in that designated state, for example.
If you are interested in starting a 529 College Savings Plan for your children, give us a call today at 417.883.1212 to discuss savings and investment strategies.
Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses associated with municipal fund securities before investing. This information is found in the issuer's official statement and should be read carefully before investing.
Investors should also consider whether the investor's or beneficiary's home state offers any state tax or other benefits available only from the state's 529 Plan. Any state-based benefit should consult their financial or tax advisor before investing in any state's 529 Plan.
Over the course of retirement, healthcare expenses are anticipated to cost $280,000, on average, for a couple turning age 65 today.1 Yet, many retirees significantly underestimate their out-of-pocket healthcare costs, assuming that Medicare and private insurance will cover far more than it does. Below we’ve debunked four of the most common myths about healthcare costs to help you make confident and informed decisions about planning for healthcare in retirement.
MYTH #1: Medicare will cover all of my healthcare expenses. Misinformation about what Medicare does and does not cover can lead many people to underestimate how much money they may need to cover healthcare expenses after age 65. While Medicare Parts A and B provide coverage for most hospital stays, emergency room visits, certain lab tests, and doctor’s office visits, you may still be responsible for a portion of these costs, including copays. Medicare also does not cover prescription drugs administered outside of a hospital setting and most dental, hearing, vision, and long-term care services, which can add up quickly over time.
MYTH #2: I don’t need to purchase a prescription drug plan. Certain prescription drugs can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month, especially those used to treat rare conditions or where a generic version is not available. Purchasing a prescription drug coverage plan, such as Medicare Part D or certain Medicare Advantage plans offering prescription drug coverage, may help lower your out-of-pocket healthcare expenses in retirement.
MYTH #3: My Social Security benefits will cover anything Medicare doesn’t cover. While most retirees rely on Social Security benefits to provide a portion of their income needs in retirement, keep in mind that Social Security is only expected to replace about 40% of the average worker’s pre-retirement income in retirement.2 Without additional income from sources such as a company pension, employer retirement plan(s), and personal savings, most retirees find that Social Security alone falls short of paying for all of their expenses in retirement.
MYTH #4: It’s less expensive to age at home. Remaining in your home is not always the least expensive option if you require assistance with activities of daily living, such as cooking, cleaning, dressing, bathing, and transportation. A 2018 study reports the average annual cost for home health aides is $50,336.3 While that’s roughly the same as the average cost of an assisted living facility at $48,000 a year,3 it’s important to consider the other costs associated with remaining in your home. These may include retrofitting your home with wheelchair ramps and safety features, in addition to paying your mortgage or rent, homeowner’s insurance, real estate taxes, utilities, and regular maintenance and repairs— all of which can quickly push the cost of remaining in your home with the assistance of paid caregivers well over the estimated average.
Call the office today if you have questions or concerns about how you will pay for healthcare costs in retirement.
Are you expecting a tax refund and would like to be able to track it?
The IRS is offering it's "Where's My Refund" tracking tools again this year. There are two ways you can track your refund:
- IRS "Where's My Refund" Website
Both are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can start checking on the status of your refund within 24 hours after they have received your e-filed return or 4 weeks after you mail a paper return. The tools are updated once a day so you don't need to check more often than that.
To use the "Where's My Refund?" tools, taxpayers need to have a copy of their tax return for reference. Taxpayers will need their social security number, filing status and the exact dollar amount of the refund they are expecting.
The IRS issues 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. Where's My Refund? has a tracker that displays progress through 3 stages: (1) Return Received, (2) Refund Approved and (3) Refund Sent. You will get personalized refund information based on the processing of your tax return. The tool will provide an actual refund date as soon as the IRS processes your tax return and approves your refund.
Caution: Don't count on getting your refund by a certain date to make major purchases or pay other financial obligations. Even though the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, it's possible your tax return may require additional review and take longer.
If you are expecting a refund from the State of Missouri you can track it through the Missouri Return Inquiry System.
Did you contribute to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) last year? Are you thinking about contributing to your IRA now? If so, you may have questions about IRAs and your taxes. Here are some tax tips about saving for retirement using an IRA:
Age Rules. You must be under age 70½ at the end of the tax year in order to contribute to a traditional IRA. There is no age limit to contribute to a Roth IRA.
Compensation Rules. You must have taxable compensation to contribute to an IRA. This includes income from wages and salaries and net self-employment income. It also includes tips, commissions, bonuses and alimony. If you are married and file a joint tax return, only one spouse needs to have compensation in most cases.
When to Contribute. You can contribute to an IRA at any time during the year. To count for 2018, you must contribute by the due date of your tax return. This does not include extensions. This means most people must contribute by April 15, 2019. If you contribute between Jan. 1 and April 15, make sure your plan sponsor applies it to the year you choose (2018 or 2019).
Contribution Limits. In general, the most you can contribute to your IRA for 2018 is the smaller of either your taxable compensation for the year or $5,500. If you were age 50 or older at the end of 2018, the maximum you can contribute increases to $6,500.
Taxability Rules. You normally don’t pay income tax on funds in your traditional IRA until you start taking distributions from it. Qualified distributions from a Roth IRA are tax-free.
Deductibility Rules. You may be able to deduct some or all of your contributions to your traditional IRA.
Saver’s Credit. If you contribute to an IRA you may also qualify for the Saver’s Credit. It can reduce your taxes up to $2,000 if you file a joint return.
If you don't currently have an IRA and would like to discuss the options available to you, please contact our office.
Between 30 percent and 60 percent of taxable property has an inflated assessment, which may lead to higher property tax bills. Moreover, typically fewer than 5 percent of taxpayers dispute their assessment.¹
For homeowners who think their local government may have assessed their property’s value too high, there are ways to appeal and potentially win a lower assessment, which may save hundreds or even thousands of dollars annually in future taxes.²
The procedures and requirements for challenging the assessed value of your property will differ by state, but you should consider a number of general factors.
Your opinion of the fairness and accuracy of your property assessment is not enough. You will need to gather facts to support your claim. One way to do that is to see how your home compares to similar homes in your neighborhood.
Check to see if there are any obvious errors (e.g., is the square footage incorrect?). If you have found an outright error, you may be able to simply bring it to the assessor’s attention and get it corrected.
Appealing your assessment may cost you money, depending on the complexity of the process and whether you choose to use professional resources. You are the ultimate judge of weighing the costs related to some uncertain financial reward, but know the cost-benefit before you start. For instance, you may not want to spend $1,000 to save $200 per year.
Your appeal will have less credence if the market evaluation is made by a local real estate agent. A comparative appraisal will carry considerably more weight when it is performed by a credible, third-party expert.
Appeals have precise deadlines and procedures. You need to meet them; otherwise you run the risk of losing out on the opportunity to have your appeal heard for another year. Call your local officials or visit the relevant website to familiarize yourself with the appeal process requirements.
1National Taxpayers Union Foundation, 2018
2The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2019 FMG Suite.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 ushered in a number of changes impacting taxpayers at all income levels. These changes include new tax rates and adjusted income thresholds, as well as a significantly higher standard deduction ($12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly). The new law also eliminated a number of itemized deductions, while limiting others. As you prepare to file your first return under the new tax law, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to take the standard deduction or itemize.
Under the new law, if you have less than $12,000 in deductible expenses ($24,000 for a married couple), it makes sense to take the higher, standard deduction. However, keep in mind, even if you take the standard deduction, you may still be able to claim certain “above-the-line” deductions to further lower you tax bill. These deductions are subtracted from your income before your adjusted gross income (AGI) is calculated for tax purposes. Below are several deductions you may be eligible to take, whether or not you itemize on your 2018 return. Since this is not a complete list of deductions you may be eligible for, be sure to consult your tax professional for more information.
Traditional IRA contributions may be deductible if you meet the eligibility requirements. Remember, you have until April 15, 2019 to make an IRA contribution for tax-year 2018. IRA contribution limits for 2018 are $5,500 for those under age 50 with earned income from wage earnings. Those age 50 and older in 2018 are eligible to make an additional catch-up contribution of $1,000, for a total annual IRA contribution of $6,500 for tax-year 2018.1
Health savings accounts (HSAs) are generally available to individuals with high-deductible health plans to help offset out-of-pocket healthcare costs. Contributions are tax deductible on your federal return up to $3,450 for individuals in 2018, and $6,900 for qualifying family plans—as long as you made them with after-tax dollars. (You can’t deduct contributions made through an employer plan using pre-tax dollars.) Those age 55 or older in 2018 were eligible for an additional $1,000 in catch-up contributions for a total of $4,450 for individuals, and $7,900 for families.2
Penalties on early withdrawals from CDs are also deductible, whether or not you itemize, regardless of the amount of the penalty.3
Alimony that you pay to a former spouse may be deducted as long as 1) your divorce agreement was signed before December 31, 2018, and 2) the payments are disclosed in your divorce agreement. You must also report your former spouse’s Social Security number so the IRS can verify that your ex-spouse reports the same amount as taxable income.3
This information is not provided as tax advice. Be sure to consult your tax professional with questions regarding these and other tax matters. If you have questions about tax-advantaged planning and investment strategies, call the office to schedule time to talk.
As parents, we encourage our children to work so they can learn important values about work and independence. At what point, if at all, do children need to file an income tax return for the money they earn?
The IRS does not exempt anyone from the requirement to file a tax return based on age, even if your child is declared as a dependent on your tax return.¹
Your dependent children must file a tax return when they earn above a certain amount of income.
Dependent children with earned income in excess of $12,000 must file an income tax return.² Dependent children with unearned income of more than $1,050 must also file a return. And if the dependent child's earned and unearned income together total more than the larger of $1,050, or a total earned income up to $12,000 plus $350.
These thresholds are subject to change, so please consult a professional with tax expertise regarding your individual situation.
Here's an example. Kyle is a 20 year old college student who's claimed as a dependent by his parents. He received $400 in unearned income and $5,500 for a part-time job on campus. He does not have to file a tax return because both his unearned and earned income fall below the thresholds. Kyle's total income of $5,900 is less than his total earned income plus $350.
Even if your child earns less than the threshold amount, filing a tax return may be worthwhile if your child is eligible for a tax refund.
If you decide to prepare a separate return for your child, the same reduced standard deduction rules detailed above will apply.
1The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties.
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG, LLC, is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2019 FMG Suite.
As a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that was signed into law on December 22, 2017, you will notice a change in the individual tax brackets when your 2018 tax return is filed. Here is a chart that summarizes those new brackets.
Some of the retirement contribution limits for 2019 have increased while others have remained the same. Here is a quick summary of the contribution limits for 2019.
- 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and Thrift Savings Plan - $19,000 | Catch-up* - $6,000
- SEP IRA and Solo 401(k) - $56,000
- SIMPLE IRA - $13,000 | Catch-up* - $3,000
- Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) - $6,000 | Catch-up* - $1,000
- Roth IRA - $6,000 | Catch-up* - $1,000
*Additional catch-up contributions apply to individuals age 50 or older, even if you turn 50 on December 31, 2019
If you earn too much to open a Roth IRA due to the IRS phase out rules, you can open a non-deductible IRA and convert it to a Roth IRA as congress lifted any income restrictions for Roth IRA conversions. To learn more about the “backdoor Roth”, please contact our office.
Are you using your personal vehicle for your small business, farm or in service of a charitable organization? You could be eligible for a mileage deduction. The IRS has issued the new standard mileage rates for 2019. They are as follows:
- 58 cents per mile driven for business use, up 3.5 cent from the rate for 2018
- 20 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, up 2 cents from the rate for 2018
- 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations, unchanged from 2018
As always, documentation is required for all mileage expenses. Records must include the amount of the expense, date and place it was incurred, and an acceptable business purpose. Examples of records include receipts, canceled checks and mileage logs.
Missouri’s minimum wage has increased with the passing of the new year. Effective, January 1, 2019, workers receiving minimum wage will now make $8.60 per hour, up from $7.85 in 2018. With the passage of Proposition B in November’s election, the wage will increase 85 cents a year to reach $12.00 in 2023.
Employers engaged in retail or service businesses whose annual gross income is less than $500,000 are not required to pay the state minimum wage rate. Employers not subject to the minimum wage law can pay employees wages of their choosing.