President Biden released his “American Rescue Plan” on January 14. It is a wish list of proposals he wants Congress to enact to address the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic crisis. While some of the proposals are intended to be in effect for just one year, it isn’t too great a stretch of the imagination that these could later be extended or made permanent, as many of them have been on the Democrats’ agenda for some time. The anticipated cost of the American Rescue Plan, if all of the proposals are agreed to by Congress, is $1.9 trillion. None of Biden’s proposals are revenue raisers, and according to a January 15, 2021 Wall Street Journal report, he intends to use government borrowing to pay for his plan. Following are some of the tax-related proposals.Continue reading →
As a means to stimulate charitable contributions during the COVID crisis, Congress made two notable changes for 2020—one allowing taxpayers that don’t itemize their deductions an above-the-line deduction for cash contributions of up to $300 and another for those itemizing their deductions to increase the maximum deduction for cash contributions to 100% of their adjusted gross income (AGI).
The recent COVID-related tax relief act, passed late in December, extends and enhances those liberalized charitable contribution deduction provisions. Here is a rundown on these charitable contribution tax benefits for 2021:Continue reading →
Housing is a big expense for everyone. The choice generally involves either renting or purchasing – and financing that purchase with a home loan. As of November 2020, the nationwide average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was just under 3%, the lowest it has been in the last 50 years or even longer. Many individuals are taking advantage of the historically low rates to buy their first home, sell their existing home to move up to a more expensive one, or refinance their existing mortgage. Some who currently own their homes free and clear are even taking out loans to lock in the low interest rates. This article looks at the tax benefits and drawbacks of buying, financing, and owning a home.Continue reading →
After several months of the Republicans and Democrats not being able to agree on additional COVID-related tax relief and other matters, as 2020 was coming to an end, horses were traded, and deals were made so that Congress could put together the much-needed legislation. The result is a nearly 5,600-page omnibus bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, Included in that legislation are the “COVID-Related Tax Relief Act of 2020” (COVIDTRA) and the “Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020”. The bill was signed by the President on December 27.
This article provides an overview of the many tax provisions included in the legislation, including the 2nd round of economic impact payments, another round of targeted PPP loans for businesses, favorable tax treatment of expenses paid with forgiven loan proceeds, temporary expanded deduction for business meals, and modifications to charitable contributions—along with an excess of 30 new, altered, and extended tax provisions.Continue reading →
It seems hard to believe, but the holiday season is upon us, and that means that the 2020 tax preparation season will soon follow. With the end of the tax year just weeks away, it may be appropriate (especially this year, in light of the financial havoc created by COVID-19) to review some year-end tax issues that might reduce your tax bite for 2020 or provide long-term tax benefits.Continue reading →
The holiday season is customarily a time of giving gifts, whether to your favorite charity, family members or others. Some gifts even provide a variety of tax benefits.
But be wary; during the holiday season, you may receive phone calls, emails, snail mail, or appeals on social networking sites for donations for various causes. However, some of these appeals may come from fraudsters and not legitimate charities. Unfortunately, this happens every holiday season.
So, before writing a check or giving your credit card number to a charity that you aren’t familiar with, check them out so you can be assured that your donation will end up in the right hands. Follow these tips to make sure that your charitable contributions will actually go to the cause you are supporting:Continue reading →
The IRS has warned taxpayers of a clever scheme by internet scammers to dupe tax-payers into revealing their bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payment (EIP) that Congress authorized last Spring.
Criminals are relentlessly using COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments as cover to try to trick taxpayers out of their money or identities. This new scam is a twist on those the IRS has been seeing much of this year, and the IRS urges people to remain alert to these types of scams.
The current scam is a text message that reads: “You have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment into your account. Continue here to accept this payment …” The text includes a link to a fake phishing web address.Continue reading →
To cope with inflation, the tax code requires the IRS to adjust the tax rates, standard deductions, and a variety of other tax related numbers each year. Due to the relatively low rate of inflation from 2020 to 2021 (at least according to the calculation method prescribed by law for this purpose), several categories had no or only a slight change. The following is a summary of the most commonly encountered items for 2021.Continue reading →
To say COVID-19 has made 2020 a disastrous year for just about everyone would be an understatement. In response to the economic slowdown and losses of income, Congress passed several extensive laws to benefit individuals and businesses that suffered financial hardship because of COVID-19. However, 2020 has given rise to more than the usual tax-planning opportunities. Thus, you may find it appropriate to schedule a tax-planning appointment well before the close of the year to take advantage of the tax benefits and strategies available for 2020. Although everyone’s situation is unique, the following are examples of tax opportunities and strategies that may apply to your circumstances.Continue reading →
Health insurance premiums, especially in the wake of the Affordable Care Act, have risen dramatically and are one of the greatest expenses that most individuals pay. Although the cost of health insurance is allowed as part of an individual’s medical deductions when itemizing deductions, only the amount of total medical expenses that exceeds 7.5% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI) is deductible. The 7.5% limitation is increased to 10% for years after 2020.
The purpose of this article is twofold: first, to remind you what insurance can be included as a medical deduction; and second, to inform you of an alternate means of deducting health insurance for certain self-employed individuals—a means that avoids the AGI limitation and allows for deduction without itemizing.Continue reading →