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Tax Planning

12 Ways the IRS Web Site Can Help You Reduce Your Taxes and File Your Return

The IRS website provides a host of free resources that can help minimize your tax bill and manage your taxes all year round. Yet, most taxpayers are unaware of them. Here are a dozen of the best.

What Retirement Documents Do You Need to File Your 2017 Tax Return?

There are certain events that will require the filing of special forms or tax documents when you file your income tax return. If you have received a distribution from any retirement account, real or deemed, during the year, or if you have done a Roth IRA conversion - even if you did a total recharacterization - or if you have incurred a penalty or additional taxes in a retirement account during the year, you will have to tell IRS about any of these events.

Tips for a Successful Tax Season

The IRS says it will start accepting and processing 2017 tax returns on January 29 and expects to issue nine of 10 refunds within 21 days. To get the fastest refund possible, file electronically and request direct deposit of the refund amount. The IRS says it won't start processing paper returns until mid-February, and requesting a mailed paper check adds more time to processing and delivery. The due date for 2017 returns is April 17, 2018, since April 15th is a Sunday and the 16th is Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in the District of Columbia.

Liability for Tax Underpayments, Penalties, and Interest: Relief for the “Innocent” Spouse

In many households, married couples divvy up the responsibilities; one will handle the bills and banking while the other cooks and does the grocery shopping, or one will do the laundry while the other manages the yardwork and house. This split often extends to annual income tax responsibilities, even in couples who use a professional preparer. However, when couples submit joint returns, both are jointly and severally liable for the information included in the return. That means if there’s an underpayment, both spouses are going to be liable for the debt.

What Now? A Widow's Story About Making the Right Financial Decisions

In 2006, Alan, a strapping young man who had just turned 50, collapsed and died of a massive heart attack while attending Sunday morning Mass with his wife Karen. Alan and Karen co-owned a business. Alan was a contractor and Karen handled the accounting and billing. Karen was fairly savvy financially. However, because she felt she had to get everything settled “right away” after Alan’s passing, she made several costly mistakes. It's a story you and your clients can learn from.

Widows Can Now Take Control of RMDs When Spouse Passes Away

According to the US Census Bureau, approximately 800,000 people are widowed each year in the United States, and “nearly 700,000 of them are women who lose their husbands.” One of the greatest economic challenges for a large portion of widows in America is higher income taxes when their spouse passes away. Don Rasmussen, member of Ed Slott's Elite IRA Advisor Group, outlines how widows can take control of required minimum distributions when their spouse passes away ... lowering their tax bill.

What TransAmerica Retirement Survey Says About Retirement Outlook

Last month TransAmerica released its 17th annual Retirement Survey of Workers. This year’s study, entitled Prospectives on Retirement: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, yielded some incredible information. Here are some of the most fascinating takeaways I found as I read through the study.

Planning With a Special Needs Child Must Span Two Generations

Even though it was 25 years ago, it seems like yesterday that my wife and I had our son evaluated by a pediatric specialist who told us our son would never live independently. When our child was diagnosed with a special need, our initial focus was on learning about the disability (autism), finding therapists and researching educational rights. Preparing for our child’s financial future (and even your own) was not an initial priority. The reality is that when there is a disabled child, the family financial plan has to span two generations rather than one. The following plan needs to take into account the potential for government benefits and, with any comprehensive plan, has to address how to minimize taxes.

How to Pay No Tax on Your Capital Gains Using a Free Step-Up in Basis

In order to encourage investments in companies, the tax code provides for the preferential treatment of capital gains (gain on property, such as a stock) if the investment being sold had been held for greater than one year. To illustrate this point, examine the following chart, which summarizes the ordinary income tax rates vs. the long-term capital gains rates that apply at various income levels.

AICPA’s National Advanced Estate Conference: RUFADAA Is Most Important Law You Don't Know About

Greetings from the 2016 AICPA National Advanced Estate Planning Conference! Having presented the last of my three sessions here on Monday evening, I’ve been enjoying the rest of my time by meeting many CPAs and other professionals here, as well as attending a host of excellent sessions. One session which I particularly enjoyed was presented by Anne Coventry and Karin Prangley, and covered the latest developments in the area of digital estate planning. That may not seem very important to you at first glance, but the reality is that it could be VERY important. And that importance is only likely to grow in the coming years.


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