Upper Limits on Conforming Mortgages Increasing for 2020

By Bob Cahill, Leader Bank Big changes for 2020! The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced the conforming limit for one to four unit properties is increasing.  For a complete list by states/counties please click here. Investopedia defines Conforming Loans as: What...

2019 and 2020 Tax Facts

For 2019, the standard deduction for a single individual is $12,200 and for a married couple is $24,400. A person will benefit by itemizing once allowable deductions exceed the applicable standard deduction. Itemized deductions include state and local income taxes (or...

Cyber Security Lesson for Your Kids

Here’s one more New Year’s Resolution you might add to your list: Training your children to be aware of internet/online security or cyber security. As many are aware, cyber security is the protection of assets and data from electronic attack. This includes...

RE: 2020

Personal financial planning is an ongoing process.  The good news is that financially speaking, 2019 was another really good year. The stock markets once again hit all time highs.  Real estate prices around the country continue to increase.  And interest rates and...

Tax and Financial Planning Calendar for January 2020

Month Income Taxes Saving and Investing JANUARY 4th quarter 2019 estimates due 1/15/20 Expect to receive W-2s and 1099s by January 31, 2020 Review your withholdings for 2020, and, if necessary, file a new W-4 Form with your employer to adjust your withholding Prepare...

Checklist to Cut Your 2019 Taxes

It’s not too late to cut your 2019 tax bill.  Prior to Dec. 31st: Increase your 401(k) and 403(b) contributions if you haven’t been contributing at the maximum rate all year. If you’re self-employed, consider setting up a Solo 401(k) by 12/31. Take a look...

New SSN Scam

Scammers are at it again, this time calling up taxpayers, impersonating the IRS, and threatening to suspend or cancel social security numbers. According to the IRS, these calls can come in as “robocall” voicemails, requesting people to call back. The scammers may...

IRS Gets Serious About Cryptocurrency

Have you been dabbling in cryptocurrency trading? The IRS is stepping up its efforts to provide guidance to taxpayers around cryptocurrency transactions and has enacted some new compliance measures. On 2019 tax returns, the IRS will require taxpayers to check off a...

Gifting Rules

Does part of your family’s financial planning include gifting? If so, here are a dozen tips to follow: Annual gift exclusion is $15,000 per year by an individual to another individual, or Annual gift exclusion is $30,000 per year gifted jointly from a married...

Benefits of small business owners of hiring family members Part II:

Consider adding your teenage children onto your company payroll. If you are self-employed and have children that are old enough to work, consider adding them onto your company payroll.  There are several tax benefits and opportunities for income shifting within the...

IRS Announces Higher Retirement Plan Limits for 2020

Most working professionals have access to a 401(k) plan or a 403(b) plan at work.  Amounts contributed to these plans generally reduce your taxable earnings and always grow tax deferred.  You can contribute up to $19,500 into a 401(k) or 403(b) plan through salary...

Review of the 2019 Rules for Itemizing Your Deductions

Medical Expenses For 2019, medical expenses are deductible to the extent they exceed 10% of your Adjusted Gross income (AGI). The IRS also allows a deduction of 20 cents/medical miles driven so don’t forget to track your medical mileage. Planning Opportunity:  Check...

Benefits of small business owners of hiring family members – Part I:

Consider hiring your spouse as your company’s first employee.  For many taxpayers beginning a new business, there are always concerns and questions about decisions to be made.  How to finance the new endeavor, where to locate the office, and who to choose as the right...

Social Security Max Increases to $137,700 For 2020

by Andrew D. Schwartz CPA Most years, the government bumps up the maximum Social Security taxes that you can pay.  For 2020, the maximum wage base jumps to $137,700, an increase of $4,800, or 3.6%, over the max of $132,900 that was in place for 2019. At a rate of...

Tax and Financial Planning Calendar for November 2019

Month Income Taxes Saving and Investing NOVEMBER Need to make applicable elections in connection with employer’s flexible spending account Good time to make semi-annual donation of clothing and household items to charitable organizations.  Don’t forget to...

IRS Releases New Tax Gap Estimates

From IRS News IR-2019-159, September 26, 2019 The Internal Revenue Service released a new set of tax gap estimates on tax years 2011, 2012 and 2013. The results show the nation’s tax compliance rate is substantially unchanged from prior years. The gross tax gap...

Tax & Financial Planning Calendar for October 2019

Month Income Taxes Saving and Investing OCTOBER Tax returns on extension due 10/15/19 Find out how to complete your W-4 form correctly using the IRS’ On-line Withholding Calculator Taxpayers on extension must fund retirement accounts by October 15th 5500s for...

Game of Loans: Income Based Repayment Options vs Refinancing

Earlier this month, my firm hosted a live webinar in our Financial Boot Camp series titled “Game of Loans: Income Based Repayment Options vs Refinancing ” which was recorded and is now available online. According to the presenter Alex Oliver from First...

Tax and Financial Planning Calendar for September 2019

Month Income Taxes Saving and Investing SEPTEMBER 3rd quarter estimates due 9/16/19 “Calendar year” Corporate and Partnership tax returns on extension are due 9/16/19 SIMPLE/IRAs and Safe-Harbor 401k’s need to be set up by 10/1 Back to school –...

Two Practical Personal Finance Lessons For College Students

by Andrew D. Schwartz CPA  (Originally written for the September 2016 newsletter.) Last week, my wife and I dropped off our older child at college to start his freshman year.  He is eager to spend the next four years taking classes in a variety of interesting subjects...

IRS Audit Rate Decreases in 2018

Continuing a downward trend from the past year, 2018 saw 7% fewer IRS audits of tax returns than the amount that were audited in 2017. 150 million personal tax returns filed for the 2017 tax year.  Of that amount 892,000 were audited representing only 0.59% of all...

2019 Tax Amount Updates

For 2018, the standard deduction for a single individual is $12,000 and for a married couple is $24,000. A person will benefit by itemizing once allowable deductions exceed the applicable standard deduction. Itemized deductions include state and local income taxes (or...

Making Estimated Tax Payments To Avoid IRS Penalties

by Richard S Schwartz CPA CVA If your tax situation may be changing this year as a result of receiving additional investment or consulting income that you were not expecting when you had met with your tax preparer last spring, you most likely will need to pay to the...

Tax and Financial Planning Calendar for August 2019

Month Income Taxes Saving and Investing AUGUST Returns on extension are no longer due 8/15.  For 2018, you have until 10/15 to file returns that have been put on extension. Work through a Tax Projection to avoid any surprises next winter, especially with the new tax...

Here’s the 411 on Who Can Deduct Car Expenses on Their Tax Returns

From IRS News – Tax Tip July 29, 2019 Taxpayers who have deducted the business use of their car on past tax returns should review whether or not they can still claim this deduction. Some taxpayers can. Some cannot. Here’s a breakdown of which taxpayers can claim...

Save the Date – Sept 27 Annual Client Event

Please join us for our annual fall client event on Friday, Sept. 27 at Cafe Escadrille from 11 am – 4 pm. This year we expanded the focus of our annual financial and practice management summit to include two groups of healthcare professionals: For Mental Health...

Still Waiting For Your Refund?

Did you file your tax return this spring and are still waiting for your refund? The IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in fewer than 21 days. However, it’s possible that some tax returns require further review and take longer to process. Some common...

Interesting Metrics for Personal Tax Returns – 2018 vs. 2017

2018 was the first year that incorporated the majority of the tax law changes resulting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) enacted just prior to the end of 2017.  While many taxpayers were very concerned with the loss of certain tax deductions that had...

You’ve Got Questions ~ We’ve Got The Answer: Family Loans

Q: My parents would like to give me a loan of $150k. How can we structure this loan so that we are in compliance with any rules from the IRS? A: To structure a loan in compliance with the IRS rules, you need to take the following steps: • Prepare a written loan...

What To Do If Your 401(k) Account Value Declines

From CBS Interactive/ By Steve Vernon  Have you ever opened your 401(k) account statement and stressed out because the balance has declined? Don’t panic. Instead, try these strategies to address the inevitable stock market fluctuations that will occur during your...

Refinancing This Summer? Buying A New Home?

Don’t forget these 10 points when considering and selecting your lender and loan officer: 1. Research the lender and loan officer to ensure they are a good fit for you. 2. What is their knowledge, experience, and commitment to service? 3. Are they local and respected...

This Summer, Work Through Your 2019 Tax Projection

As we shared this winter in an article called Why Is Your Tax Refund Smaller for 2018 (written by Shira Schoenberg and including quotes from Andrew Schwartz CPA), many individuals were surprised that they had smaller tax refunds or owed more in federal income taxes...

Ten Considerations When Selecting Your Lender and Loan Officer

By Guest writer Bob Cahill – Leader Bank     Research the lender and loan officer to ensure they are a good fit for you. What is their knowledge, experience, and commitment to service? Are they local and respected by the realtor community? Will your lender be...

2019 Fast Tax Facts

Starting in 2018, personal exemptions are no longer deductible.  The maximum earnings subject to social security taxes is $132,900 for 2019, up from $128,400 in 2018. The standard mileage rate is $.58 per business mile as of January 1, 2019, up from $.545 for 2018....

Tips for Kids with a Summer Job

Will your child be working at a summer job? If so, here are a few items to consider: How to complete Form W-4. When you child begins their summer job and will be paid as a W-2 employee, their new employer will require them to complete a Form W-4, instructing the...

NEW MA Paid Family & Medical Leave

In 2018, Massachusetts signed into law a statute that provides paid family and medical leave (PFML) benefits to workers. Employers and employees must begin making contributions in October of 2019 to a new state fund which will administer and distribute the benefits...

Are You Eligible for a Refund of Underpayment Penalties Assessed?

Most taxpayers saw their federal income taxes decrease thanks to the new tax rules issues at the end of December 2017. Many taxpayers also saw their refunds fall or their balance due increase for their 2018 taxes as compared with prior years. That’s because the...

Family Loans

By Andrew Schwartz, CPA Here is a question I recently received from one of my clients: My parents would like to give me a loan of $150k. How can we structure this loan so that we are in compliance with any rules from the IRS? To structure a loan in compliance with the...

This Year’s Most Interesting Tax-Season Observation

By Andrew Schwartz, CPA This year’s most interesting observation has nothing to do with taxes or personal finances but instead deals with civility and kindness. The world we live in has really become quite nasty: Our political leaders on both sides of the aisle...

Mortgage Financing Today: The Value of Working with a Local Lender

By Bob Cahill, Leader Bank Nowadays, you can find almost anything on line.    It is hard to beat the convenience and ease of shopping at the push of a button.  In most cases, if you do not like what you have bought or if it does not fit, you can simply return it. ...