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The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, enacted in December 2020, contained several provisions that expand tax benefits for individuals and businesses who give to charity. However, the changes are only temporary; specifically, you have only until the end of 2021 to take advantage of them, so you will need to act quickly if you wish to do so.  The new law extends through the end of 2021 these four temporary tax ...

Open enrollment in the context of this article involves coverage for healthcare benefits but refers to two very different programs and types of coverage – Medicare and the Healthcare Marketplace as established by the Affordable Care Act during the Obama Administration.  Let's take a look at each. First, Medicare.  Open enrollment for Medicare is the annual opportunity for those covered by it to window shop a bit and assess if their current Medicare plan still ...

In today's cyber-business dominated economic system, it has become a near necessity to have some form of "plastic" in order to be able to take part. Basically, this plastic comes in the form of either a debit card or credit card.  To give you some idea of the usage of these cards, a Federal Reserve Payment Study published in January 2020 (the latest in a series of triennial studies on the matter) showed that in ...

I often meet with new business owners who are trying to get up to speed on all the tax rules, regulations and nuances that relate to their new ventures. Typically, one of the questions they have regards the business use of vehicles and what tax benefits may be available to them from such use.  It's an important and potentially valuable question. Essentially, there are two options when it comes to tax breaks for the business ...

Holders of traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401(k) plans over the age of 71 take note – required minimum distributions, or RMDs, are back.  The RMD rules require most account holders age 72 and older to withdraw a minimum amount each year based on the age of the account owner and the value of the owner's accounts at the end of the previous year. The withdrawal is generally taxable.  When the markets tanked in ...

The American Rescue Plan, passed into law earlier this year, greatly expanded the Child Tax Credit for 2021 (but not beyond, at least not yet). The law increased the credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 for children over the age of six, and from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under age six. It also raised the age limit from 16 to 17.  Families will get the full expanded credit if they make up to ...

Last week, we focused on using the 60-day IRA rollover rule to help ease a financial burden while avoiding income taxes normally owed on a traditional IRA distribution. However, sometimes the financial need is such that a rollover just won't work. You need the money out of your IRA, and won't be able to put it back in during the 60-day rollover period. In such cases, income taxes will be owed on the most if ...

It is well understood that an enormous amount of Americans' collective wealth is sitting in traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs). In fact, in 2020, the value of assets in traditional IRAs was an estimated 19.29 trillion dollars! That's an almost unfathomable amount of US wealth that is effectively tied up in accounts that have significant strings attached in terms of ability to access in times of financial need. The most notable "strings" are the imposition ...

Several years ago, I wrote an article about a 'new' retirement plan known as the SIMPLE plan or "Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees". The plan was developed to help owners of small businesses attract workers who desired a retirement vehicle from their employer. These plans are limited to employers with 100 or less employees.  They are inexpensive to administer and have none of the cumbersome testing rules of their larger cousins (403B, 401k, 457 ...

In our fourth and final submission regarding the 2021 IRS Dirty Dozen, we'll take a look at what the IRS calls "promoted abusive arrangements. You can check out the scams written about in my first three installments of this weekly column published over the last three successive weeks. The IRS is warning people to be on the alert for tax promoters who aggressively are peddling false hopes of large tax deductions from the following abusive ...

In previous installments of the IRS "Dirty Dozen" saga, we dealt with pandemic related scams in article one and personal information cons in last week's second article. Check those out if you haven't read them yet. As we continue today, we'll be looking at scams involving fake charities, so-called "ghost" preparers, senior and immigrant fraud, and other such schemes. Fake charities seem to make the list every year, and, unfortunately, fakes often increase during times ...

As mentioned last week, the IRS has compiled its annual "Dirty Dozen" list of "nefarious schemes and scams", but this year decided to release the list in four stages, as do we here. Last time, we dealt with pandemic-related scams like Economic Impact Payment theft. This week, we tackle the issue of personal information cons, including phishing, ransomware and phone "vishing".  More specifically, the IRS warns all of us to watch out for unexpected email ...

In what has become somewhat of a rite of summer, the IRS annually releases a "Dirty Dozen" tax scam list in which it warns taxpayers, tax professionals and financial institutions to be on the lookout for twelve "nefarious schemes and scams".  The 2021 list has now been created, and in interesting twist, the IRS decided to release them in four separate installments, separated into these four categories: pandemic-related scams like Economic Impact Payment theft; personal ...

It's quite sad to me how often I seem to have to write about people being defrauded of their hard earned money, often involving a lifetime of hard work and savings. However, with scammers and identity thieves never ending in their creativity and quest to detach you from your stuff, I feel it ever more important to get information out there about the latest schemes. One of the latest involves scammers passing themselves off as ...

For those who rely heavily on Social Security benefits to pay their bills, the recent uptick in prices in what seems just about everything are cause for concern. Especially so given what many consider to be inadequate cost of living adjustments (COLA) over many years now. The 2021 increase received by Social Security recipients was only 1.3%, for instance.  To give you some idea of how costs have been going up, year over year, from ...