The IRS publishes a special electronic guide with tips for taxpayers during filing season. There have been three additional updates in 2019 covering tax reform changes, “Where’s My Refund?” and an RMD reminder. READ MORE at IRS.gov
Are you charitably inclined, not able to itemize but close to age 70 ½?
A couple options: 1. Consider postponing charitable giving until you reach age 70 ½ and can make charitable donations directly from your IRA; 2. Calculate the amount of your annual charitable giving times the number of years until age 70 ½ and see if it makes sense to “bunch” your charitable giving into one tax year using a donor advised fund.
Do you hate making estimated tax payments on that unearned income?
If you really don’t like having to remember to make quarterly estimated tax payments and have income available for federal income tax withholdings such as wages, pensions or IRAs, consider adjusting your withholding to cover any balances due. You can request additional amounts to be withheld from wages or up the percentage withheld on other sources such as IRAs or Social Security.
IRMAA – Income related monthly adjustment amount on your Medicare premiums.
Do a little tax planning to help manage the premium adjustments on your Medicare because of high income thresholds. If you have had a substantial change or life event in your income circumstances, you may qualify for an adjustment. Click here for the Medicare Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount – Life Changing Event Form SSA-44.
For more tax tips and related resources, visit our website at valleynationalgroup.com/tax
by Laurie Siebert, CPA, CFP®, AEP®, Senior Vice President
I attended the Estate Planning Council of the Lehigh Valley’s recent “Estate Planning in a World of Rapidly Advancing Technology” seminar. What I learned is that you cannot ignore the implications of technology in the way we hold, access, retain, share and use it for financial or personal transactions and storage. Assuming that your personal representatives will have the ability to manage your internet of “things” may be costly. In any number of ways, accounts that may be accessible by user identification and passwords, may no longer be accessible if the account is closed. This could happen when credit cards linked to the accounts are notified of the death and they become frozen. Work with your attorney to make sure that your personal representatives will have the required permissions or strategies to manage your digital world. Leave a roadmap of your online footprint for your personal representatives as well. We strongly encourage everyone to take an inventory of the way you use technology, how to access it, what information or monetary value may be buried and on what devices.
The IRS just published final guidance on one of the new provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is the 20% pass-through deduction. In simple terms, individual business owners may claim a deduction equal to 20% of their qualified business income. However, limitations are in place that that will limit or eliminate the deduction for certain high-income earners.
The new guidance specifically addresses when a rental activity will rise to the level of trade or business and will qualify for this deduction. If an individual spends at least 250 hours of “rental services” throughout the year and maintain contemporaneous records for each location, including dates of all services performed by the taxpayer or somebody else, you may qualify for this deduction. READ MORE at IRS.gov
Despite the government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service today confirmed that it will process tax returns beginning January 28, 2019 and provide refunds to taxpayers as scheduled. READ MORE at IRS.gov
NJ Tax Amnesty Expires on January 15
For those taxpayers who have received a New Jersey Tax Amnesty notice, please be aware that the program ends January 15, 2019. The program offers a waiver of most penalties and reduced interest charges for those who have met the eligibility requirements. READ MORE at the State of New Jersey Department of Treasury website: nj.gov/treasury
Valley National Financial Advisors provides one-stop financial planning. That means that our team is here to support our clients throughout their financial lives, but also in planning for their eventual transfer of wealth. Maybe you are familiar with how our advisors integrate estate planning, but did you know that our team also provides Trust Services?
Valley National Trust Services is a Trust Representative Office of National Advisors Trust Company, FSB. This means that our team has all the resources of a professional trust company and the ability to coordinate and manage trust services locally for our clients. We work directly with the attorney of your choice to help facilitate the trust and we manage the assets/accounts.
by Jaclyn Cornelius CFP®, EA, Vice President
In line with the giving season, many of us think about giving to our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and possibly even to our extended family or friends’529 plans as holiday gifts. A 529 Plan is a college savings plan that offers federal tax benefits such as five-year gift tax averaging and tax-free qualified distributions (as long as the plan satisfies a few basic requirements). Some states offer state income tax incentives as well. 529 plans may also be used to save and invest for K-12 tuition in addition to college costs. You can invest in any state 529 plan, not just your own state’s 529 plan and use the dollars invested to pay for college costs at any qualified college nationwide.
If you are a Pennsylvania resident, you can receive an income tax deduction for contributions made to any 529 Plan (limits apply). If you are a New York resident, you can receive a state income tax deduction if you contribute to a New York qualified 529 plan (limits apply). An independent company (Morningstar) recently released their analyst ratings for 2018 which provided reviews of over 60 of the largest 529 Plans. End of year is a good time to discuss the idea of reviewing your existing 529 Plans and giving levels (or discussing with your financial advisor if establishing one makes sense for your situation).
by Jessica Goedtel, Associate Financial Advisor
The IRS recently released their cost of living adjustments for 2019.
A few items to note:
- The maximum 401(k) contribution has increased to $19,000, from $18,500. The catch-up contribution for those ages 50 and over remains at $6,000.
- The annual IRA contribution amount has increased to $6,000 from $5,500. The catch-up contribution remains the same at $1,000. This is the first time since 2013 that this limit has increased.
- The overall limitation for defined contribution plans increased by $1,000 to $56,000.
In addition, the income brackets that determine eligibility for certain types of IRA contributions, such as Roth IRAs, have been increased for inflation. More information can be found at the official IRS release. READ MORE
This is a great time to review your current retirement savings strategies to make sure you are taking full advantage of your tax deferral options.
At the end of last year, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the largest reform in the past 30 years. Proactive year-end tax planning may help reduce your overall tax burden for 2018 or alert you to taxes due.
A few tips and items you may want to consider:
- Tax brackets have been reduced and the withholding tables have been adjusted. As a result, less tax is being withheld from each paycheck. We recommend that you review your current paystub to confirm if you are having adequate amounts withheld so that you have enough paid in to avoid underpayment penalties.
- The Tax Act also made a number of changes related to deductions. The standard deduction was increased to $24,000 for taxpayers filing jointly and $12,000 for single filers. In addition, some of the itemized deductions have been reduced or eliminated. Real Estate and State and Local taxes now have a $10,000 limit and miscellaneous deductions such as investment expenses and unreimbursed business expenses have been eliminated. As a result, you may no longer itemize your deductions. Personal exemptions for yourself and dependents have also been eliminated. We recommend reviewing your deductions to see how you will be impacted by these changes.
- Now is also a good time to review your taxable investment portfolio to understand the tax consequences of this year’s market activity. Now may be a good time to harvest unrealized losses or realize gains if you are in a low tax bracket as it could be taxed at 0%.
- If you are age 70 ½, subject to Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) from your IRA and are charitably inclined, you may still be able to take advantage of the Qualified Charitable Distribution rules in using some of your RMD for your charitable giving. Especially if you don’t itemize, this provides a tax benefit you would not have received.