Impact on IRS Operations during Government Shutdown

12-28-2018Tax Information

Due to the current lapse in appropriations, IRS operations are limited. However, the underlying tax law remains in effect, and all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations as normal.

  • Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making deposits with the IRS, as they are required to do so by law.
  • The IRS will accept and process all tax returns with payments.
  • Payments accompanying paper tax returns will still be accepted as the IRS receives them.
  • Tax refunds will not be issued until normal government operations resume.

How much is enough (to retire)? 


Fidelity Investments, the nation’s largest retirement plan provider, recently released some statistics related to its customers that save for retirement. The number of Fidelity 401(k) accounts with a balance of $1 million or more recently hit a record of 168,000, up 41% from last year.

To give you an idea of how your retirement savings stack up against your peers, check out the average 401(k) balances in Fidelity accounts, as of the second quarter of 2018, broken down by age.


When do I start drawing Social Security?


Many Americans work with dreams of a comfortable retirement. We pay 6.2% of our wages into the Social Security system and our employers match another 6.2%. So when do we start reaping our rewards?

You can start receiving retirement benefits on your 62nd birthday. However, every year you delay your Social Security benefit payment, you will get an 8% increase in benefits up until age 70.

There are some questions you need to ask yourself and your financial and tax advisor. There are good arguments that support early receipt and good arguments that support waiting until age 70.


IRS Proposes Changes to Charitable Contribution Rules related to State Tax Credits

08-27-2018Tax Information

The IRS proposed legislation on Thursday, August 23, 2018 that would possibly eliminate your ability to use State Tax credits as an Itemized Deduction on your Federal income tax return. If you believe this legislation will become law, here are some quick considerations for you to make by Monday, August 27, 2018. (Yes, you only got 4 days to act)

In Arizona, this proposed legislation would impact donations for state tax credits to:

  • Qualified Charitable Organizations (formerly Working Poor)
  • Public Schools Activity Fees
  • Student Tuition Organizations
  • Military Family Relief Fund
  • Foster Care

Other states may have programs like Arizona to allow such credits.


2018 Form 1040 to be shorter but with more schedules

06-30-2018Tax Information

The IRS is still working on a draft version of the 2018 Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. The 1040 will be two half-pages in length, but moves many items formerly on the 1040 to new schedules.


Social Security and Retirement changes announced for 2018


The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced last week that the maximum amount of wages in subject to the 6.2% Social Security tax will rise from $127,200 in 2017 to $128,700 in 2018. The SSA also announced that Social Security beneficiaries will get a 2% increase in benefits in 2018. The average retiree will receive an increase of $27 a month.

  2017 2018
Social Security Wage Maximum $127,200 $128,700
Maximum Social Security tax $7,886.40 $7,979.40
401(k) elective deferral $18,000 $18,500
401(k) catch up $6,000 $6,000

President Trump claims tax cuts will benefit the Middle Class Americans

09-28-2017Tax Information

Is President Donald Trump’s statement earlier this month that “the rich will not be gaining at all with this (proposed tax) plan” true?  Will the middle class benefit?


President Trump is looking to overhaul the tax code.  He made remarks prior to a September 13 meeting with members from both parties of Congress.  The president said he wanted to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent and lower individual income taxes.


IRS complies with President Trump’s Executive Order -- will not reject tax returns without health care disclosure

02-20-2017Tax Information

After President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order, the IRS announced that it will not reject tax returns just because a taxpayer has not indicated on the return whether the taxpayer had health insurance, was exempt, or made a shared-responsibility payment under Sec. 5000A of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

  • The PPACA requires taxpayers who do not maintain minimum essential health coverage for each month of the year and who do not qualify for an exemption to pay a shared-responsibility payment with the filing of their Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
  • Although the health insurance information requirement has been in effect for a few years, the IRS accepted returns that did not contain the information

Myths on Trust Taxation

02-11-2017Tax Information

I periodically get inquiries from individuals who think they can avoid income taxes because they have a trust.  Trusts are often very good tools to protect your assets; but not always a good tool for simple tax planning strategies.  Trusts generally have much lower deductions, compressed marginal tax rates, and a much lower threshold for the net investment income tax.  Thus, a trust may incur higher income taxes than an individual may pay.


Some Tax Forms Arizona Department of Revenue are Incorrect

01-31-2017Tax Information

The Arizona Department of Revenue announced on January 30, 2017 that it sent out some incorrect 1099-G forms for 2015 taxpayers that received refunds.

The erroneous forms included information from the 2014 tax year, and did not include the correct information from the 2015 tax year.

You can still file your 2016 income tax return – Please use your actual 2015 tax return if your 1099-G document is different.

The Basics of Medicare

11-29-2016Health Care

Medicare is a federal system of health insurance for people over 65 years of age and for certain younger people with disabilities.  Medicare pays for much of the cost of hospital stays and doctor’s office visits for people age 65 and older.  But what does that mean and what do you need to know?

  • There are different parts to Medicare:
    • Medicare Part A is hospital care.  Most people don't pay a premium for Medicare Part A.  Medicare Part A has a $1,316 deductible if you are hospitalized, and additional costs apply if your hospital stay exceeds 60 days.
    • Medicare Part B is medical insurance that covers doctor's visits and outpatient services.  The standard Medicare Part B premium is $134 per month in 2017, but it is primarily new enrollees and those who haven’t yet claimed Social Security who will pay this amount.  Most Social Security recipients will pay $109 per month for Medicare Part B in 2017 because Medicare premiums are prevented by law from increasing faster than Social Security payments for existing recipients. Premium costs are also higher for retirees with a modified adjusted gross income above $85,000 for individuals and $170,000 for couples.  There is a $183 Medicare Part B deductible in 2017, after which you will be charged 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for most services. There’s no annual limit on out-of-pocket expenses.