Oct 26

This year has flown by and as we approach year end, the IRS shares the numbers that will impact your 2015 retirement savings limits. 2013 inflation was low enough that we saw no increase in ’14. 2015, however, sees a bit of a bump, so let me share these numbers.

Employee contributions to 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $17,500 to $18,000. The cath-up provision, for those 55 and older in 2015 is also increased a bit, to $6,000.

The IRA limit is unchanged at $5,500 with a $1,000 catch-up for 50 and older. The phaseout for IRA deductibility for a single filer covered by a workplace retirement plan is between $61,000 and $71,000, and for married filing joint, between $183,000 and $193,000. The AGI phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $181,000 to $191,000 for married couples filing jointly.

The AGI phase-out range for taxpayers making contributions to a Roth IRA is $183,000 to $193,000 for married couples filing jointly.  For singles and heads of household, the income phase-out range is $116,000 to $131,000.

There are still quite a few numbers we need to see. Marginal rates, HSA limits, FSA limits, etc. As soon as I see the IRS press release, I’ll share the numbers.

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

May 25

spock

I was hoping for an appropriate political cartoon to share regarding the Apple fiasco from this past week. I was counting on a scene titled “The Big Apple Circus” and the Senators who grilled Tim Cook would be illustrated as clowns asking rhetorical questions about the tax code. Instead I’ll be happy with a Star Trek reference to acknowledge the latest film to hit the big screen.

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May 18

obamaterm2

Just as one issue starts to be put behind us, it seems another comes to take its place. Unfortunate events, indeed.

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Feb 25

Take simple steps to reduce your stress on the big day.

Meeting with professionals or doing taxes yourself can prove stressful, as it’s often required to have numerous documents, legal forms, bank account information, tax IDs, and more, all at your fingertips. Here are some tips from professionals that can help you make this tax season a little less stressful.

1. Get organized

Even though we are well into the new year, it’s never too late (or early) to start organizing and collecting forms and documents you’ll need to do your taxes. If you haven’t received a W2 or W9 from last year’s employers, give them a call or send an email requesting a digital copy and a printed copy mailed to your residence. Having the digital copy stored on your computer in an appropriately labeled folder can help you keep documents organized and easily available should you lose the physical copy. In addition to requesting digital copies of forms scan in or take photos with your cell phone of the various physical tax-related forms you’ll be receiving, you’ll thank yourself later.

2. Ask the right questions

As you request and organize your tax forms, be thinking of questions you have about filing taxes for this year. Have you invested more than usual, taken money out of stocks, bonds, or an IRA? Have you spent more than usual on education, your mortgage, a car, or received a large sum of money from a deceased relative? Write down any questions or note-worthy events that happened during the year, and any numbers related to those things for reference when filing your taxes. If you meet with a tax professional, be sure to raise your questions when you begin, and if you’re filing yourself with software, make sure during the process your questions were addressed (if not, email customer support for clarification).

3. Search for deductions

Before you meet with your tax professional or start filing on your own, start looking up deductions related to the questions you’ve written down. Think of anything you spent money on this year that was outside the norm, and search for tax deductions related to your expenses. You may be eligible for reimbursement for home improvement items like roofing, air conditioner repair, or energy efficiency upgrades. Tax incentives for fuel efficient cars, education, starting a business, or donating to a church or other charity are also commonly overlooked by people filing their taxes.

4. Use legitimate software

If you’re going the do-it-yourself route of filing taxes, make sure you use some legitimate software that’s been well reviewed. Especially during this time of year, internet advertisements explode across the web directing users to use foreign, questionable, or insecure tax filing solutions. Most legitimate companies that offer software for filing from home will offer email, phone, and web support to help ensure you have the help you need to get your questions answered. Make sure you look at the beginning of the web address you’re using for “https://” instead of just “http://”which signifies a secure and encrypted connected with the remote server.

5. Plan to e-file

Filing your federal taxes is free and easy when you use the government’s e-file system. Most software based tax companies offer to file your federal taxes for free, as it’s so easy to do already. The main benefit to e-filing your taxes with the federal government is that your return is almost guaranteed to come weeks if not months earlier than if you opt for the mailing method.

Aimee Watts is a staff writer for Mobile Moo. She has spent ten years telecommuting full-time, and loves spreading tips and advice for fellow work-at-home parents. She loves gadgets, new ideas, and skiing with her two favorite people: her husband and teenage son. They live in Evergreen, Colorado.

written by Joe \\ tags: , , ,

Feb 20

A few weeks back, a story made the news about a Pastor who received a bill at an Applebee’s that included an 18% tip as the Pastor was part of a group of 20 people. Keep in mind, unless you have been hiding under a rock for the last 50 years, it’s common to see menus state that for a party of usually 6 or more, the tip is automatically added to the bill.  Also note that the party of 20 asked for 20 separate bills, which I can only imagine is a waitress’s worst nightmare. The one customer of 20 refused the tip, crossed it off the receipt and wrote, “I give God 10%, why do you get 18?” The story takes an interesting turn after another waitress put the receipt on the internet.

god-10-percent

It came to the Pastor’s attention, she complained to Applebee’s and the waitress that put the receipt out there was fired. The Pastor was quoted elsewhere as saying “The note was “a lapse in judgment that has been blown out of proportion,” adding that she left a smaller tip in cash on the table.
Smaller than the $6 that was on her bill? Hmmm.

That’s my (too) long introduction to today’s message. The IRS asked me to remind you that if your pay from your job includes tips, there are a few things you should be aware of:

  • Tips are taxable. Individuals must pay federal income tax on any tips they receive. The value of non-cash tips, such as tickets, passes or other items of value are also subject to income tax.
  • Include all tips on your return. You must include all tips that you receive during the year on your income tax return. This includes tips you received directly from customers, tips added to credit cards and your share of tips received under a tip-splitting agreement with other employees.
  • Report tips to your employer. If you receive $20 or more in cash tips in any one month, you must report your tips for that month to your employer. Your employer is required to withhold federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes on the reported tips.
  • Keep a daily log of tips. You can use IRS Publication 1244, Employee’s Daily Record of Tips and Report to Employer, to record your tips.

It can’t be easy waiting tables, so if that’s your job right now, I hope these customers are few and far between. I promise you, I won’t be one of them, I go out to dinner to relax, not to give anyone grief.

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,