What are your options to fund long-term care expenses?

Few things can derail your estate plan as quickly as unanticipated long-term care (LTC) expenses. Most people will need some form of LTC — such as a nursing home or an assisted living facility stay — at some point in their lives. And the cost of this care is steep.

Contrary to popular belief, LTC expenses generally aren’t covered by traditional health insurance policies, Social Security or Medicare. So, to help ensure that LTC expenses don’t deplete savings or other assets meant to go to your heirs, have a plan for funding them. Here are some of your options.

Self-funding

If your nest egg is large enough, it may be possible to pay for LTC expenses out-of-pocket as (or if) they’re incurred. An advantage of this approach is that you’ll avoid the high cost of LTC insurance premiums. In addition, if you’re fortunate enough to avoid the need for LTC, you’ll enjoy a savings windfall that you can use for yourself or your family. The risk, of course, is that your LTC expenses will be significantly larger than anticipated, eroding the funds available to your heirs.

Any type of asset or investment can be used to self-fund LTC expenses, including savings accounts, pension or other retirement funds, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or annuities. Another option is to tap the equity in your home by selling it, taking out a home equity loan or line of credit, or obtaining a reverse mortgage.

Two vehicles that are particularly effective for funding LTC expenses are Roth IRAs and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Roth IRAs aren’t subject to minimum distribution requirements, so you can let the funds grow tax-free until they’re needed. And an HSA, coupled with a high-deductible health insurance plan, allows you to invest pretax dollars that can be withdrawn tax-free to pay for qualified unreimbursed medical expenses, including LTC. Unused funds may be carried over from year to year, making an HSA a powerful savings vehicle.

LTC insurance

LTC insurance policies — which are expensive — cover LTC services that traditional health insurance policies typically don’t cover. Determining when to purchase such a policy can be a challenge. The younger you are, the lower the premiums, but you’ll be paying for insurance coverage during a time that you’re not likely to need it.

Although the right time for you to buy coverage depends on your health, family medical history and other factors, many people purchase these policies in their early to mid-60s. Keep in mind that once you reach your mid-70s, LTC coverage may no longer be available to you or may be prohibitively expensive.

Hybrid insurance

Hybrid policies combine LTC coverage with traditional life insurance. Often, these take the form of a permanent life insurance policy with an LTC rider that provides for tax-free accelerated death benefits in the event of certain diagnoses or medical conditions.

These policies can have advantages over stand-alone LTC policies, such as less stringent underwriting requirements and guaranteed premiums that won’t increase over time. The downside, of course, is that to the extent you use the LTC benefits, the death benefit available to your heirs will be reduced.

Potential tax breaks

If you buy LTC insurance, you may be able to deduct a portion of the premiums on your tax return. And if you need LTC, you may be able to deduct some of the costs. If you have questions regarding LTC funding or the tax implications, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

© 2024


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Take care of a loved one who has special needs with a special needs trust

When creating or revising your estate plan, it’s important to take into account all of your loved ones. Because each family has its own unique set of circumstances, there are a variety of trusts and other vehicles available to specifically address most families’ estate planning objectives.

Special needs trusts (SNTs), also called “supplemental needs trusts,” benefit children or other family members with disabilities that require extended-term care or that prevent them from being able to support themselves. This trust type can provide peace of mind that your loved one’s quality of life will be enhanced without disqualifying him or her for Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

Preserve government benefits

An SNT may preserve your loved one’s access to government benefits that cover health care and other basic needs. Medicaid and SSI pay for basic medical care, food, clothing and shelter. However, to qualify for these benefits, a person’s resources must be limited to no more than $2,000 in “countable assets.” Important note: If your family member with special needs owns more than $2,000 in countable assets, thus making him or her ineligible for government assistance, an SNT is useless.

Generally, every asset is countable with a few exceptions. The exceptions include a principal residence, regardless of value (but if the recipient is in a nursing home or similar facility, he or she must intend and be expected to return to the home); a car; a small amount of life insurance; burial plots or prepaid burial contracts; and furniture, clothing, jewelry and certain other personal belongings.

An SNT is an irrevocable trust designed to supplement, rather than replace, government assistance. To preserve eligibility for government benefits, the beneficiary can’t have access to the funds, and the trust must be prohibited from providing for the beneficiary’s “support.” That means it can’t be used to pay for medical care, food, clothing, shelter or anything else covered by Medicaid or SSI.

Pay for supplemental expenses

With those limitations in mind, an SNT can be used to pay for virtually anything government benefits don’t cover, such as unreimbursed medical expenses, education and training, transportation (including wheelchair-accessible vehicles), insurance, computers, and modifications to the beneficiary’s home. It can also pay for “quality-of-life” needs, such as travel, entertainment, recreation and hobbies.

Keep in mind that the trust must not pay any money directly to the beneficiary. Rather, the funds should be distributed directly — on behalf of the beneficiary — to the third parties that provide goods and services to him or her.

Consider the trust’s language

To ensure that an SNT doesn’t disqualify the beneficiary from government benefits, it should prohibit distributions directly to the beneficiary and prohibit the trustee from paying for any support items covered by Medicaid or SSI. Some SNTs specify the types of supplemental expenses the trust should pay; others give the trustee sole discretion over nonsupport items.

Alert family and friends

After creating or revising your estate plan, discuss your intentions with your family. This is especially important if your plan includes an SNT. To ensure an SNT’s terms aren’t broken, family members and friends who want to make gifts or donations must do so directly to the trust and not to the loved one with special needs. Contact us with any questions regarding an SNT.

© 2024


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Bartering is a taxable transaction even if no cash is exchanged

If your small business is strapped for cash (or likes to save money), you may find it beneficial to barter or trade for goods and services. Bartering isn’t new — it’s the oldest form of trade — but the internet has made it easier to engage in with other businesses.

However, if your business begins bartering, be aware that the fair market value of goods that you receive in these types of transactions is taxable income. And if you exchange services with another business, the transaction results in taxable income for both parties.

Fair market value

Here are some examples of an exchange of services:

  • A computer consultant agrees to offer tech support to an advertising agency in exchange for free advertising.
  • An electrical contractor does repair work for a dentist in exchange for dental services.

In these cases, both parties are taxed on the fair market value of the services received. This is the amount they would normally charge for the same services. If the parties agree to the value of the services in advance, that will be considered the fair market value unless there’s contrary evidence.

In addition, if services are exchanged for property, income is realized. For example:

  • If a construction firm does work for a retail business in exchange for unsold inventory, it will have income equal to the fair market value of the inventory.
  • If an architectural firm does work for a corporation in exchange for shares of the corporation’s stock, it will have income equal to the fair market value of the stock.

Joining a club

Many businesses join barter clubs that facilitate barter exchanges. These clubs generally use a system of “credit units,” which are awarded to members who provide goods and services. The credits can be redeemed for goods and services from other members.

In general, bartering is taxable in the year it occurs. But if you participate in a barter club, you may be taxed on the value of credit units at the time they’re added to your account, even if you don’t redeem them for actual goods and services until a later year. For example, let’s say that you earn 2,500 credit units one year, and that each unit is redeemable for $2 in goods and services. In that year, you’ll have $5,000 of income. You won’t pay additional tax if you redeem the units the next year, since you’ve already been taxed on that income.

If you join a barter club, you’ll be asked to provide your Social Security number or Employer Identification Number. You’ll also be asked to certify that you aren’t subject to backup withholding. Unless you make this certification, the club is required to withhold tax from your bartering income at a 24% rate.

Tax reporting

By January 31 of each year, a barter club will send participants a Form 1099-B, “Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions,” which shows the value of cash, property, services and credits that you received from exchanges during the previous year. This information will also be reported to the IRS.

Exchanging without exchanging money

By bartering, you can trade away excess inventory or provide services during slow times, all while hanging on to your cash. You may also find yourself bartering when a customer doesn’t have the money on hand to complete a transaction. As long as you’re aware of the federal and state tax consequences, these transactions can benefit all parties involved. Contact us if you need assistance or would like more information.

© 2024


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Beware of a stealth tax on Social Security benefits

Some people mistakenly believe that Social Security benefits are always free from federal income tax. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case. In fact, depending on how much overall income you have, up to 85% of your benefits could be hit with federal income tax.

While the truth about the federal income tax bite on Social Security benefits may be painful, it’s better to understand it. Here are the rules.

Calculate provisional income

The amount of Social Security benefits that must be reported as taxable income on your tax return depends on your “provisional income.” To arrive at provisional income, start with your adjusted gross income (AGI), which is the number that appears on Page 1, Line 11 of Form 1040. Then, subtract your Social Security benefits to arrive at your adjusted AGI for this purpose.

Next, take that adjusted AGI number and add the following:

  1. 50% of Social Security benefits,
  2. Any tax-free municipal bond interest income,
  3. Any tax-free interest on U.S. Savings Bonds used to pay college expenses,
  4. Any tax-free adoption assistance payments from your employer,
  5. Any deduction for student loan interest, and
  6. Any tax-free foreign earned income and housing allowances, and certain tax-free income from Puerto Rico or U.S. possessions.

The result is your provisional income.

Find your tax scenario

Once you know your provisional income, you can determine which of the following three scenarios you fall under.

Scenario 1: All benefits are tax-free

If your provisional income is $32,000 or less, and you file a joint return with your spouse, your Social Security benefits will be federal-income-tax-free. But you might owe state income tax.

If your provisional income is $25,000 or less, and you don’t file jointly, the general rule is that Social Security benefits are totally federal-income-tax-free. However, if you’re married and file separately from your spouse who lived with you at any time during the year, you must report up to 85% of your Social Security benefits as income unless your provisional income is zero or a negative number, which is unlikely.

Having federal-income-tax-free benefits is nice, but, as you can see, this favorable outcome is only allowed when provisional income is quite low.

Scenario 2: Up to 50% of your benefits are taxed

If your provisional income is between $32,001 and $44,000, and you file jointly with your spouse, up to 50% of your Social Security benefits must be reported as income on Form 1040.

If your provisional income is between $25,001 and $34,000, and you don’t file a joint return, up to 50% of your benefits must be reported as income.

Scenario 3: Up to 85% of your benefits are taxed

If your provisional income is above $44,000, and you file jointly with your spouse, you must report up to 85% of your Social Security benefits as income on Form 1040.

If your provisional income is above $34,000, and you don’t file a joint return, the general rule is that you must report up to 85% of your Social Security benefits as income.

As mentioned earlier, you also must report up to 85% of your benefits if you’re married and file separately from your spouse who lived with you at any time during the year — unless your provisional income is zero or a negative number.

Turn to us

This is only a very simplified explanation of how Social Security benefits are taxed. With the necessary information, we can precisely calculate the federal income tax, if any, on your Social Security benefits.

© 2024


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A job loss is bad but the tax implications could make it worse

Unemployment has been holding steady recently at 3.7%. But there are still some people losing their jobs — particularly in certain industries including technology and media. If you’re laid off or terminated from employment, taxes are likely the last thing on your mind. However, there are tax implications due to your altered employment circumstances.

Depending on your situation, the tax aspects can be complex and require you to make decisions that may affect your tax bill for this year and for years to come. Be aware of these three areas.

1. Unemployment and payments from your former employer

Many people are surprised to find out that federal unemployment compensation is taxable. (Some states exempt unemployment comp from state tax.) In addition, payments from a former employer for any accumulated vacation or sick time are taxable. Although severance pay is also taxable and subject to federal income tax withholding, some elements of a severance package may get special treatment. For example:

  • If you sell stock acquired by way of an incentive stock option (ISO), part or all of your gain may be taxed at lower long-term capital gain rates rather than at ordinary income tax rates, depending on whether you meet a special dual holding period.
  • If you received — or will receive — what’s commonly referred to as a “golden parachute payment,” you may be subject to an excise tax equal to 20% of the portion of the payment that’s treated as an “excess parachute payment” under very complex rules, along with the excess parachute payment also being subject to ordinary income tax.
  • The value of job placement assistance you receive from your former employer usually is tax-free. However, the assistance is taxable if you had a choice between receiving cash or outplacement help.

2. Health insurance costs

Under the COBRA rules, employers that offer group health coverage generally must provide continuation coverage to most terminated employees and their families. While the cost of COBRA coverage is usually expensive, the amount of any premium you pay for insurance that covers medical care is an eligible medical expense for tax purposes. That means it’s deductible if you itemize deductions and if your total medical expenses exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

If your former employer pays some of your medical coverage for a period of time after termination, you won’t be taxed on the value of the benefit.

3. Retirement plan balance

Employees whose employment is terminated may need tax planning help to determine the best option for amounts they’ve accumulated in retirement plans sponsored by former employers, such as a 401(k) plan. In many cases, a direct, tax-free rollover to an IRA is the best move. You may also choose to leave the account in your previous employer’s 401(k) plan (although the employer may elect to distribute the funds to you). Or, if you get a new job, you may want to transfer the money in the account with your former employer to your new employer’s 401(k) plan.

If you’re under age 59½, and make withdrawals from your former company’s plan or IRA to supplement missing income, you may owe an additional 10% penalty tax unless you qualify for an exception.

If a distribution from the retirement plan includes employer securities in a lump sum, the distribution is taxed under the lump-sum rules, except that “net unrealized appreciation” in the value of the stock isn’t taxed until the securities are sold or otherwise disposed of in a later transaction.

Further, any loans you’ve taken out from your former employer’s retirement plan, such as a 401(k)-plan loan, may be required to be repaid immediately, or within a specified period. If they aren’t, they may be treated as if the loan is in default. If the balance of the loan isn’t repaid within the required period, it will typically be treated as a taxable deemed distribution.

If you need assistance, contact us. We can help you navigate the best path forward during this transition period.

© 2024


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President Biden’s proposed budget highlights his tax agenda

President Biden has released his proposed budget for the 2025 fiscal year, including numerous tax provisions affecting both businesses and individual taxpayers. While most of these provisions have little chance of coming to fruition while the U.S. House of Representatives remains controlled by the Republican Party, they might gain new life depending on the outcome of the November elections. Here’s an overview of the major tax proposals included in the budget.

Business tax provisions

The budget proposal includes many changes that could affect businesses’ tax outlook, several of which Biden has previously endorsed. Among the most notable:

Corporate tax rates. Under this proposal, the tax rate for C corporations would increase from 21% to 28% — still below the 35% rate that was in effect before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The effective global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI) rate would increase to 14%, and additional proposed changes would further increase the effective GILTI rate to 21%. The corporate alternative minimum tax rate would go up to 21%, from 15%.

Executive compensation. Biden proposes extending the current limitation on the deductibility of compensation in excess of $1 million for certain executives in publicly owned C corporations to privately held C corporations. A new aggregation rule would treat all members of a controlled group as a single employer for purposes of determining covered executives.

Excess business loss (EBL) limitation. Under the TCJA, noncorporate taxpayers can apply their business losses to offset only business-related income or gain, plus there’s an inflation-adjusted threshold (for 2024, $305,000 or $610,000 if filing jointly). The proposal would make this limitation permanent and treat EBLs carried forward from the prior year as current-year business losses rather than as net operating loss deductions.

Stock buyback excise tax. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) created a 1% excise tax on the fair market value when corporations repurchase their stock to reduce the difference in the tax treatment of buybacks and dividends. The proposal would quadruple the tax to 4%. It also would extend the tax to the acquisition of an applicable foreign corporation by certain affiliates of the corporation.

Like-kind exchanges. Owners of certain real property can defer the taxable gain on the exchange of the property for real property of a “like-kind.” The proposal would allow the deferral of gain up to an aggregate amount of $500,000 for each taxpayer ($1 million for joint filers) each year for real property like-kind exchanges. (Other types of assets wouldn’t be eligible.) Excess like-kind gains would be recognized in the year the taxpayer transfers the real property.

Individual tax provisions

Biden continues to promise that he won’t raise taxes on filers earning less than $400,000 annually but opposes extending tax cuts for those making more than that amount. Among other things, his budget proposal would affect:

Tax rates. The proposal would return the top individual marginal income tax rate for single filers earning more than $400,000 ($450,000 for joint filers) to the pre-TCJA rate of 39.6%.

Net investment income tax (NIIT). The NIIT on income over $400,000 would include all pass-through business income not otherwise covered by the NIIT or self-employment tax. The budget also would increase both the additional Medicare tax rate (on earnings above $400,000) and the NIIT rate (on investment income above $400,000) to 5%.

Capital gains taxes. Individuals with taxable income exceeding $1 million would see capital gains taxed at ordinary income rates, up from the current highest capital gains rate of 20%. Also, unrealized gains at death would be taxed, subject to a $5 million exemption ($10 million for married couples).

Child Tax Credit (CTC). The proposal would boost the maximum per-child credit — to $3,600 for qualifying children under age six and $3,000 for all other qualifying children — and increase the maximum age to 17, through 2025. It also would implement an advance monthly payment program, establish a “presumptive eligibility” concept and permanently make the CTC fully refundable.

Premium tax credits (PTCs). Biden would make permanent the IRA’s expansion of health insurance subsidies to taxpayers with household income above 400% of the federal poverty line, as well as the reduction in the amount of household income that must be contributed to qualify for PTCs.

Gift and estate taxes. The proposal would close several gift and estate tax loopholes that help the wealthy reduce their taxes. For example, certain transfers would be subject to a new annual gift tax exclusion, whereby a donor’s transfers that exceed a total of $50,000 in a year would be taxable regardless of whether the total gifts to each individual recipient didn’t exceed the annual gift exclusion amount ($18,000 per recipient in 2024).

Tax changes are coming one way or another

Even if none of these provisions are enacted as proposed, new legislation addressing taxes is likely in the next year or two. Indeed, absent congressional action, many significant TCJA provisions are scheduled to expire after 2025. Extensive tax debates and negotiations will likely soon take center stage. Turn to us for the latest developments.

© 2024


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The Cordasco Compass


Introducing The Cordasco Compass: A Guide to Reducing Your Taxes While Building Your Wealth

I am thrilled to announce that my second book, The Cordasco Compass, is now available for purchase on Amazon.https://bit.ly/47LaYPS 

The Cordasco Compass is a comprehensive guide to our approach to tax strategy development and planning for growth-oriented businesses and high net worth individuals. 

The book is based on our unique approach to tax planning, which we call the Cordasco Compass. The Cordasco Compass is a four-step process that helps you navigate the tax system and achieve your financial goals.

The four steps are:

Assess: We help you assess your current tax situation and identify your needs and objectives
Analyze: We analyze your tax options and opportunities and design a customized tax plan for you
Implement: We implement your tax plan and provide ongoing support and guidance
Review: We review your tax plan periodically and make adjustments as needed

The Cordasco Compass is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It is tailored to your specific circumstances and preferences. Whether you are a business owner or high net worth individual, we can help you find the best tax strategies for your situation.

If you are interested in learning more about the Cordasco Compass and how it can help you save money and time on your taxes, I invite you to check out my new book. You can also visit our website, www.cordascocpa.com or www.robcordasco.com to learn more about our unique offerings. 

Thank you for your support and happy reading!

Attachment

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April 15 is the deadline to file a gift tax return

Not only is April 15 the deadline to file a 2023 income tax return and pay any taxes due, it’s also the deadline to file a gift tax return. If you made substantial gifts of wealth to family members in 2023, you may have to file a gift tax return. It’s due by April 15 of the year after you make the gift, so the deadline for 2023 gifts is coming up soon. But you can extend the deadline to October 15 by filing for an extension.

When a return is required

Generally, a federal gift tax return (Form 709) is required if you make gifts to or for someone during the year that exceed the annual gift tax exclusion ($17,000 per person for 2023 and $18,000 per person for 2024). There’s a separate exclusion for gifts to a noncitizen spouse ($175,000 for 2023 and $185,000 for 2024).

Also, if you make gifts of future interests, such as transfers to a trust for a donee’s benefit, even if they’re less than the annual exclusion amount, a gift tax return is required. Finally, if you split gifts with your spouse, regardless of the amount, you must file a gift tax return.

Being required to file a form doesn’t necessarily mean you owe gift tax. You’ll owe tax only if you’ve already exhausted your lifetime gift and estate tax exemption ($12.92 million for 2023 and $13.61 million for 2024).

When a return isn’t required

No gift tax return is required if you:

  • Paid qualifying educational or medical expenses on behalf of someone else directly to an educational institution or health care provider,
  • Made gifts of present interests that fell within the annual exclusion amount,
  • Made outright gifts to a spouse who’s a U.S. citizen, in any amount, including gifts to marital trusts that meet certain requirements, or
  • Made charitable gifts and aren’t otherwise required to file Form 709 — if a return is required, charitable gifts should also be reported.

If you transferred hard-to-value property, such as artwork or interests in a family-owned business, consider filing a gift tax return even if you’re not required to. Adequate disclosure of the transfer in a return triggers the statute of limitations, generally preventing the IRS from challenging your valuation more than three years after you file.

In some cases, it’s even advisable to file Form 709 to report nongifts. For example, suppose you sold assets to a family member or a trust. Again, filing a return triggers the statute of limitations and prevents the IRS from claiming, more than three years after you filed the return, that the assets were undervalued and, therefore, partially taxable.

Turn to us for help

Estate tax rules and regulations can be complicated. If you need help determining whether you need to file a gift tax return, contact us.

© 2024


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If you didn’t contribute to an IRA last year, there’s still time

If you’re gathering documents to file your 2023 tax return and you’re concerned that your tax bill may be higher than you’d like, there might still be an opportunity to lower it. If you qualify, you can make a deductible contribution to a traditional IRA right up until the April 15, 2024, filing date and benefit from the tax savings on your 2023 return.

Who is eligible?

You can make a deductible contribution to a traditional IRA if:

  • You and your spouse aren’t active participants in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, or
  • You or your spouse are an active participant in an employer plan, but your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) doesn’t exceed certain levels that vary from year to year by filing status.

For 2023, if you’re a joint tax return filer and you are covered by an employer plan, your deductible IRA contribution phases out over $116,000 to $136,000 of modified AGI. If you’re single or a head of household, the phaseout range is $73,000 to $83,000 for 2023. For married filing separately, the phaseout range is $0 to $10,000. For 2023, if you’re not an active participant in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, but your spouse is, your deductible IRA contribution phases out with modified AGI of $218,000 to $228,000.

Deductible IRA contributions reduce your current tax bill, and earnings within the IRA are tax deferred. However, every dollar you take out is taxed in full (and subject to a 10% penalty before age 59½, unless one of several exceptions apply).

IRAs are often referred to as “traditional IRAs” to differentiate them from Roth IRAs. You also have until April 15 to make a Roth IRA contribution. But while contributions to a traditional IRA are deductible, contributions to a Roth IRA aren’t. However, withdrawals from a Roth IRA are tax-free as long as the account has been open at least five years and you’re age 59½ or older. (There are also income limits to contribute to a Roth IRA.)

Here are two other IRA strategies that may help you save tax:

1. Turn a nondeductible Roth IRA contribution into a deductible IRA contribution. Did you make a Roth IRA contribution in 2023? That may help you in the future when you take tax-free payouts from the account. However, the contribution isn’t deductible. If you realize you need the deduction that a traditional IRA contribution provides, you can change your mind and turn a Roth IRA contribution into a traditional IRA contribution via the “recharacterization” mechanism. The traditional IRA deduction is then yours if you meet the requirements described above.

2. Make a deductible IRA contribution, even if you don’t work. In general, you can’t make a deductible traditional IRA contribution unless you have wages or other earned income. However, an exception applies if your spouse is the wage earner and you’re a stay-at-home parent or homemaker. In this case, you may be able to take advantage of a spousal IRA.

What’s the contribution limit?

For 2023 if you’re eligible, you can make a deductible traditional IRA contribution of up to $6,500 ($7,500 if you’re 50 or over).

In addition, small business owners can set up and contribute to a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan up to the due date for their returns, including extensions. For 2023, the maximum contribution you can make to a SEP is $66,000.

If you want more information about IRAs or SEPs, contact us or ask about it when we’re preparing your return. We can help you save the maximum tax-advantaged amount for retirement.

© 2024


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If you gave to charity in 2023, check to see that you have substantiation

Did you donate to charity last year? Acknowledgment letters from the charities you gave to may have already shown up in your mailbox. But if you don’t receive such a letter, can you still claim a deduction for the gift on your 2023 income tax return? It depends.

What the law requires

To prove a charitable donation for which you claim a tax deduction, you must comply with IRS substantiation requirements. For a donation of $250 or more, this includes obtaining a contemporaneous written acknowledgment from the charitable organization stating the amount of the donation, whether you received any goods or services in consideration for the donation and the value of any such goods or services.

“Contemporaneous” means the earlier of:

  1. The date you file your tax return, or
  2. The extended due date of your return.

Therefore, if you made a donation in 2023 but haven’t yet received substantiation from the charity, it’s not too late — as long as you haven’t filed your 2023 return. Contact the charity now and request a written acknowledgment.

Keep in mind that, if you made a cash gift of under $250 with a check or credit card, generally a canceled check, bank statement or credit card statement is adequate. However, if you received something in return for the donation, you generally must reduce your deduction by its value — and the charity is required to provide you a written acknowledgment as described earlier.

No longer a tax break for nonitemizers

Currently, taxpayers who don’t itemize their deductions (and instead claim the standard deduction) can’t claim a charitable deduction. Under previous COVID-19 relief laws, an individual who didn’t itemize deductions could claim a limited federal income tax write-off for cash contributions to IRS-approved charities for the 2020 and 2021 tax years. Unfortunately, the deduction for nonitemizers isn’t available for 2022 or 2023.

More requirements for certain donations

Some types of donations require additional substantiation. For example, if you donate property valued at more than $500, you must attach a completed Form 8283 (Noncash Charitable Contributions) to your return.

And for donated property with a value of more than $5,000, you generally must obtain a qualified appraisal and attach an appraisal summary to your tax return.

Contact us if you have questions about whether you have the required substantiation for the donations you hope to deduct on your 2023 tax return. We can also advise on the substantiation you’ll need for gifts you’re planning this year to ensure you can enjoy the desired deductions on your 2024 return.

© 2024


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