Individual Tax Strategies

It’s Not Too Late to Trim Your 2019 Tax Bill

Fall is in the air and that means it’s time to turn your attention to year-end tax planning. While several clear strategies and tactics emerged during the first tax filing season under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), 2019 and subsequent years bring potential twists that must be considered, too. Let’s take a closer look at year-end tax planning strategies that can reduce your 2019 income tax liability.

Year-End Strategies to Reduce AGI

Reducing your current-year adjusted gross income (AGI) is usually a tax-smart idea. Here are ten ways to reduce your AGI (and modified AGI) over the short and long run.

Factor 2020 Cost-Of-Living Adjustments into Your Year-End Tax Planning

The IRS recently issued its 2020 cost-of-living adjustments. With inflation remaining largely in check, many amounts increased slightly, and some stayed at 2019 levels. As you implement 2019 year-end tax planning strategies, be sure to take these 2020 adjustments into account in your planning.

Tax Strategies for Seniors

Good things come to those who wait. Older taxpayers may be entitled to some age-based tax breaks. Here are the details.

Some Business Owners Can’t Participate in Their Own Companies’ HRAs

Many companies now offer Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) in conjunction with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). HRAs offer some advantages over the perhaps better-known HDHP companion account, the Health Savings Account (HSA). If you’re considering adding an HRA, you might assume that, as a business owner, you can participate in the HRA. But this may not be the case.

Common Questions About Kids and Taxes

Does your son or daughter work during the summer or school year? A part-time job can be a great way for your child to learn about financial responsibility. It can also teach a valuable lesson about owing taxes. In addition to explaining why the government takes money from kids' paychecks, parents may need to help their children file their taxes by April 15.

Do You Need to File Gift Tax Returns?

For 2019, the lifetime gift and estate tax exemption has reached a whopping $11.40 million ($22.80 million for married couples). As a result, few people will be subject to federal gift taxes. If your wealth is well within the exemption amount, does that mean there’s no need to file gift tax returns? Not necessarily. There are many situations in which it’s necessary (or desirable) to file Form 709, “United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return” — even if you’re not liable for any gift taxes.

Kiddie Tax: New Hazards, New Opportunities

Despite its name, the “kiddie tax” is far from child’s play. And a change made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) puts some adult teeth into the tax. Now, children with unearned income may find themselves in a tax bracket higher than that of their parents. At the same time, the TCJA creates new opportunities for family income shifting.

5 Financial Tips for New College Graduates

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2019! As soon as a new graduate switches his or her tassel to the other side of the cap, it's time to plan for the future — and there's more to do than finding a good-paying job.

IRS Updates Rules for Personal Use of Employer-Provided Vehicles

The IRS recently announced the inflation-adjusted maximum value of an employer-provided vehicle under the vehicle cents-per-mile rule and the fleet-average value rule. Employers can use the rules to value an employee’s personal use of such a vehicle for income and employment tax purposes.

Tax Issues to Consider When Small Business Owners Get Divorced

For many small business owners, their ownership interest is one of their biggest personal assets. What will happen to your ownership interest if you get divorced? In many cases, your marital estate will include all (or part) of your business interest.

Update on Deducting Personal Casualty Losses

Every year, millions of Americans are struck by sudden, unexpected disasters — including hurricanes, wildfires, floods, tornadoes, volcanoes, and even vandalism and terrorist attacks. These destructive events can cause injuries, death and property damage.

Could Medicare Premiums Lower Your Taxes?

Health care is a top concern for many Americans, especially people who are age 65 and older. While these individuals qualify for basic Medicare insurance, they may need to pay additional premiums to get the level of coverage they desire.

Important Tax Figures for 2019

The following table provides some important federal tax information for 2019, as compared with 2018. Many of the dollar amounts are unchanged and some changed only slightly due to inflation.

Estate Tax Planning Tips for Married Couples

For married people with large estates, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) brings welcome relief from federal estate and gift taxes, as well as the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax. Here's what you need to know and how to take advantage of the favorable changes.

IRS Ups the Ante on Retirement Contributions

Every year, the IRS releases cost-of-living adjustments to qualified retirement plan amounts. For tax year 2019, many of the limits applicable to pensions and other retirement plans will increase. But some will remain unchanged from 2018.

What Do the 2019 Cost-Of-Living Adjustments Mean for You?

The IRS has announced its 2019 cost-of-living adjustments to tax items that might affect you. Many of the amounts increased to account for inflation, but some remained at 2018 levels. As you implement 2018 year-end tax planning strategies, be sure to take these 2019 adjustments into account in your planning.

Tax Reform Law: Topics of Special Interest for Individuals

As you've heard by now, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) includes a number of changes that will affect individual taxpayers in 2018 and beyond. Significant attention has been given to the reduced tax rates for most individuals and the new limit on deducting state and local taxes. But there is more to the story.

Tax Reform: Which Changes Are Temporary vs. Permanent?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) includes a bevy of important tax changes for individuals and businesses. However, it's sometimes hard to keep track of which changes are permanent and which are scheduled to expire at the end of 2025 — unless Congress extends them.

Jon Cassens Featured in Upsize Minnesota | Part of Advisory Panel for “Growth Challenge” Entrepreneurs

Jon Cassens, Princpal of DS+B, was again one of several panelists for the Upsize Growth Challenge on October 22nd at the Minneapolis Club. The Growth Challenge matches two business owners with expert advice they need to reach their business growth goals. Club E members in attendance also had an opportunity to ask the owners, and panelists, their questions. Below is the story of NoSweat, a fast growing privately held business, from the October 2018 issue of the Upsize Minnesota article that featured Jon.

Many Taxpayers Will Pay No Tax on Long-Term Gains and Dividends

Do you have long-term capital gains or qualified dividends? If so, there's good news: After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), you might still qualify for the 0% federal income tax rate on these types of income. The rate is only available for those with relatively low income. But, if your income is too high to benefit, your children, grandchildren or other loved ones may still be eligible for the tax savings. Here are the details.

Is More Tax Reform on the Horizon?

President Trump and Republican lawmakers currently are considering a second round of tax reform legislation as a follow-up to last year’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). As of this writing, there’s been no actual bill drafted. However, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX) just released a broad outline or framework of what the tax package may contain.

Effects of the Tax Law Vary Based on Major Life Events

Change is part of life. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has brought sweeping changes to the federal income tax rules for individuals. But how will you and your family be affected? That depends on your specific circumstances. Major life changes — from marriage and birth to divorce and death — can provide opportunities and pitfalls under the tax law. Here's an overview of some TCJA provisions that may be relevant during different life events.

How Tax Reform Has Changed Tax Planning for Homeowners

It's no surprise that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has made sweeping changes to the U.S. tax code. In doing so, it's also altered deductions and other tax breaks for individuals, particularly for homeowners. If you own a home or property, the ways in which you usually time your income and deductions may no longer give you a tax advantage.

Watch out for Tax-Related Identity Theft Scams All Year Long

With the filing date for 2017 in the rearview mirror for most businesses and individuals, the last thing they probably want to think about is income taxes. Unfortunately, though, criminals who commit tax-related identity theft don’t work seasonally — they’re constantly devising and unleashing new schemes.

Timing and Taxes: Two Critical Issues when Buying or Selling a Home

You might be in a rush to buy or sell a home before summer starts or interest rates increase even more. But, first, it's important to review the tax rules related to home sales and deductions for mortgage interest, property taxes and work-related moving expenses. Beware: Some rules have changed under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

How the New Limit on SALT Deductions Affects Homeowners

The ability to deduct state and local taxes (SALT) has historically been a valuable tax break for taxpayers who itemize deductions on their federal income tax returns. Unfortunately, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) limits SALT deductions for 2018 through 2025. Here's important information that homeowners should know about the new limitation.

Timely Tax Planning for Your Investments and Capital Gains

When determining whether to buy or sell a security, several factors may affect your decision: your goals, time frame, and risk tolerance, to name a few. One factor that should never be dismissed, however, is the tax consequence(s) of your purchase or sale. With proper tax planning, it’s possible to recognize a certain amount of capital gains tax-free. Here are a few tips to get started...

How to Plan Ahead to Avoid Minnesota Residency Tax Surprises

Moving to Another State but Keeping a Second Home in Minnesota? For many Minnesota residents and retirees, there may come a time when they decide to move to warmer climates or to states with low or no individual income tax. However, they also want a place to come back to throughout the year and decide … Continued

Numerous Tax Break Extenders and Savings Opportunities for Individuals

At the end of last year, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 was signed into law. Known as the PATH Act, it does more than just extend expired and expiring tax provisions for another year. The new law makes many temporary tax breaks permanent. This provides some stability in planning. When it comes … Continued

2015 Individual and Business Tax Extenders in the PATH Act

In December, the House and Senate approved the “Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes” (PATH) Act of 2015. The President signed this legislation referred to by tax professionals as “The Tax Extenders Provision”, which extends or modifies many extensions/changes that tax payers should discuss with their CPA.

Tips to Avoid Tax Refund Fraud in 2016

As we wind down 2015, it’s important to remember that identity thieves may be looking ahead to the upcoming 2016 tax season.  Krebs on Security, an in-depth security news and investigation blog, presents a good article on the latest battle between the IRS and the criminals looking to file bogus tax refunds. And while the … Continued

Foreign Earned Income Exclusion – Not for the Faint of Heart

Before you accept an assignment to work and earn income abroad, understand what needs to happen in order to achieve tax benefits that are available. In one such case, an individual was working in Russia for a number of years and was audited by the IRS.

S Corporation Officer Must Take a Salary

Do you operate your business as an S corporation? If you work for the corporation, you generally must take a salary. An officer who performs more than minor services for a corporation, and who receives remuneration in any form, is considered an employee and is subject to employment taxes.

How to Protect Against Tax Identity Theft

Tax identity theft is a growing epidemic. Identity thieves typically engage two tax fraud scams: Refund fraud. The thief files a fraudulent tax return, reporting fictitious wages and withholdings, usually early in the year before companies are required to issue 1099s and W-2s.

Want Tax-Free Income? There Are Still Ways to Receive It.

You may think you have to pay tax on all income you receive but it’s not true. There are still ways to earn income that is free from federal income tax. With the various tax increases that took effect at the beginning of this year, tax-free income opportunities are more valuable than ever.

Tax Implications in the Supreme Court DOMA Case

A recent Supreme Court decision now allows same-sex couples in states with same-sex marriage statutes to be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The U.S. Supreme Court’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) ruling has important federal tax implications for same-sex couples who are legally married under applicable state law.

DOMA Ruling – Income and Estate Tax Planning in Minnesota

On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in the Windsor case a critical section of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), thereby enabling married* same-sex couples to enjoy the same legal rights as opposite-sex married couples. These include income tax benefits, taxpayer friendly employee benefits, estate and gift tax benefits, and more.

IRS Cracks Down on Tax ID Theft: Could You Be a Victim?

As taxpayers were filing their returns in 2013, the IRS announced a national crackdown on identity theft schemes aimed at stealing taxpayers’ refunds. The tax agency expanded a program designed to help law enforcement obtain tax return information about victims, which is critical to efforts to investigate and prosecute cases of tax identity theft.

Minnesota Tax Law Changes – Income Tax

The omnibus tax bill passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Dayton on May 23, 2013 made sweeping changes that affected Minnesota taxpayers as well as entities and individuals doing business in Minnesota. The tax bill is projected to raise approximately $2.1 billion in additional revenue and would eliminate the state budget deficit.

New Limits on Flexible Spending Accounts for 2013

Until this year, there was no tax-law limit on contributions to an employer’s healthcare flexible spending account (FSA) plan (although many plans impose their own limits). But the FSA situation has changed beginning in 2013.

A New Option for Deducting Home Office Expenses

The IRS announced a simplified option that many owners of home-based businesses, and some home-based workers, can use to figure their deductions for the business use of their homes. (IRS Revenue Procedure 2013-13)

Tax Changes for Individuals in the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Law

After months of arguing about the “fiscal cliff,” Congress finally passed a law averting some of the tax increases that were set to take effect on January 1, 2013. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, also known as the “fiscal cliff legislation,” was signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 2, 2013.

Avoid Taxmageddon: Year-End Planning for Real Estate Owners

Real estate sellers and investors may be facing higher taxes next year as a result of a new surtax and a bunch of tax breaks that are scheduled to expire. The “Bush tax cuts” are scheduled to expire at the end of this year (see right-hand box). If that happens, tax rates will go up for everyone next year.

WebTaxGuide – Tax Planning Begins Here

As we have done for our clients since 1950, we can help you understand these important changes and make the right decisions. DS&B employs the right strategy with the right people for your business, individual and financial situation – whether you operate locally, regionally or internationally.