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The Complexities of Capital Gains Rates

Most of us know that taxes on capital gains are more favorable than other types of taxable income.  For “ordinary income”, the tax brackets have rates of 0%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%.  Ordinary income is comprised of things like wages, interest income, and IRA distributions, among other things. To contrast, capital gain rates are 0%, 15% or 20%.  […]

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[…..]

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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[…..]

Uncle Sam

Is That Really Your Money?

When you look at your monthly brokerage statement, you see the values and what has happened in your account over the last 30 days.  It’s pretty simple math: “You started there, you finished here, and what happened to cause the changes—dividends (increase), market gains (increase), market decline (decrease), and withdrawals and fees (decreases).  But we are not[…..]

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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 In other words, contributions grow tax-free and earnings won’t be taxed when withdrawn for QUALIFIED EXPENSES.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[…..]

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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[…..]