antiques in market

Are you thinking about donating “big ticket” items of property to charity? Beware of these IRS new regulations

Ten years ago, the Internal Revenue Service proposed regulations that would define how to value (and prove the actual value) of non-cash donations of $5,000 and over to charity.  The regulations involved things like artwork, jewelry, antiques and other possessions whose value is often in the eye of the beholder. Now, a decade later, the IRS has[…..]

US dollar versus China yuan

What to Make of the 2018 “Trade War”

The past few weeks, we’ve finally seen evidence that the investment markets are getting jittery about the escalating tit-for-tat tariffs and threats of tariffs that some economists are calling “America vs. the World.”  Many investors are wondering whether new taxes on items flowing into and out of the U.S. really are something to worry about and the[…..]

tax charity

States vs. SALT or “How to turn taxes into charity”

Each year, thousands of CPAs and financial planners—like us—use their creativity and ingenuity to try to determine the best (legal) ways to lower your federal taxes.  You know you’re living in interesting times when state lawmakers join that crowd! The reason state legislators are working so hard to lower your federal taxes is something popularly known as[…..]

education books

529 Plan – What are Qualified Expenses?

The main tax advantage of a 529 Plan (in a state-sponsored college savings plan) is that distributions for qualified expenses are tax-free. In other words, contributions grow tax-free and earnings won’t be taxed when withdrawn for QUALIFIED EXPENSES.  In certain states, you may also benefit from a State tax deduction when contributing to a 529 Plan, unfortunately[…..]

calculator

What is a Step-Up in Basis? Why should I Care about it?

(get ready for a whirlwind tax lesson!) A basis step-up is one of the basic concepts of estate planning. When a person dies, we say that their assets get a “step-up” in basis. Basis is short-hand for “income tax basis,” “tax basis,” or “cost basis” and is often shortened simply to “basis.” The general rule is that[…..]

Rainy House

Making a Homeowner’s Claim

Suppose you’re the victim of a huge natural disaster like Harvey, or have experienced some more local damage, like a tree falling on your house.  What are the best practices for filing a claim for the damages your home and property have suffered? Recently, the Consumer Federation of America offered tips on how to get all you’re[…..]

taxes file

Where Does Your Tax Money Go? Anyone? Anyone?

It’s tax time again, and as you look over your tax payments for calendar 2016, you’re undoubtedly wondering where those dollars are being spent. The Wall Street Journal recently published a chart which breaks down spending for every $100 of tax receipts—and concludes that the U.S. government spends like a very large insurance company that also happens[…..]