Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Taxes Not Ready to File for 2017? Here’s what to do

If you need more time to file your 2017 income tax return, you can get an extension — no explanation is necessary.
There are a lot of reasons why you may need more time to file your 2017 individual income tax return. For instance, you might want to hold off funding a retirement plan until you can save more money. Perhaps you’re waiting for a tax form from a trust, a partnership or an S corporation. Or maybe you’ve just been busy.
Whatever the reason, you can usually put off filing for up to six months beyond April 17. That means you will have until Oct. 15 to finalize your return.
Here’s what you need to do:
  • Estimate your total tax liability for 2017, subtract what you’ve already paid in withholding or estimated payments and remit most or all of the balance.
  • File an extension request form (generally Form 4868 for an individual return) by April 17. You can file the extension request form online, by phone or by mailing it to the IRS. If you owe taxes, you can pay with an electronic funds transfer, your credit card, or a check.
Requesting an extension for your personal return also gives you additional time to file a gift tax return for 2017. The gift tax return extension is automatically included. But if you owe gift tax (or generation-skipping transfer tax), or are requesting an extension only for a gift tax return, you’ll need to use Form 8892.
If you have special circumstances such as military service, or think you might have difficulty paying the tax due with your extension, give us a call. We can help you work through the rules.
BAS clients have enjoyed not filing for tax extension since Lee Elwell originally founded the firm in 1971.
Are you ready to join in that feeling of not having to worry about articles like this?
Find the time that works best on your calendar and schedule a consultation to see how we may be able to help you at www.bas-pc.com/schedule.
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Friday, March 30, 2018

Thinking about putting your tax refund into a retirement account? Read this first!


If you plan on having the IRS deposit your tax refund into one or more individual retirement accounts (IRAs), most of the hard part is already done: You’ve already decided that you want to save the money instead of spending it on new patio furniture or a trip to Jamaica.
Still, you’re not in the clear yet. Here are a handful of possible obstacles that might mess up your tax refund on its way through the direct deposit process:
  • Wrong account number. If you accidentally use the wrong account number and it belongs to another customer, that mistake could take weeks or even months to correct. The IRS maintains that correct input of financial information on the tax return is the taxpayer’s responsibility, so make sure you check and recheck the account numbers you are using for your refund.
  • Manual revisions. If the IRS gets your tax return and finds that the routing numbers have been manually revised, your direct deposit request has a higher chance of being rejected. You may get an old-fashioned refund check in the mail.
  • Wrong type of account. It’s up to you to verify that your financial institution will accept direct deposits into an IRA. Some banks, for example, will reject direct deposits to anything other than a savings account.
  • Refund adjustments. Sometimes the IRS corrects a taxpayer’s math or makes other adjustments that can affect the refund amount. In some cases, these adjustments may result in a direct deposit that exceeds the allowable IRA contribution amount. If so, you could be stuck with a penalty for excess contributions.
Putting your tax refund into an IRA can be a great idea, but remember: Double-check your return and be aware of the rules your bank or credit union has about IRA direct deposits.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

3 Reasons Why Your Child Should (or shouldn’t) Have Life Insurance


When determining whether or not to carry life insurance on your children, you’ll find that people have a variety of opinions. Here’s a look at some of the most common considerations for and against life insurance policies on children:
  1. Financial security. Traditionally, you take out life insurance to provide for the financial security of dependents. The policy should include funds to replace the insured’s income and to pay off debts. Neither of these reasons applies to young children. They don’t generally have any significant income, and they don’t usually have any debts. Some parents might want to carry a modest amount of insurance to cover funeral costs for their children in case the unthinkable happens.
  2. Insurability. Some people believe that by taking out a policy at a young age, it helps guarantee insurability as the child grows older. This could be important if the child develops a major illness later in life. The problem is that if the child does develop a serious illness, insurance will still become very expensive or limited.
  3. Insurance as an investment. Some advisors suggest that parents should take out a whole life policy on their children. These policies include a savings component to build up cash value in the policy. You could then use that value for education expenses or other needs. But others say that there are cheaper and more efficient ways to save than by using life insurance. For example, putting money into a tax-advantaged 529 education savings plan is often a better way to save for school tuition costs.
Although a majority of advisors may argue against life insurance for children, there may be some situations where people find it makes sense. However, you shouldn’t take out a policy just because it is offered to you or because others are doing it. Make sure to do your homework and know exactly why you need the insurance.
  For More Info : Visit Here : https://www.bas-pc.com/

Monday, March 12, 2018

Emergency Funds: Why They’re Worth It


Emergency funds can be helpful for everyone. Any unexpected hit to your finances, and unanticipated illness or a natural disaster might all be reasons you may need money right away.
What is an emergency fund?
An emergency fund is designed to keep your life intact during temporary setbacks and to help you avoid unnecessary debt. That means things like car insurance premiums and regular home maintenance (and other anticipated bills) should not be considered emergencies. The same is true of credit card bills for vacations.
How much emergency savings is enough?
In general, your emergency fund should cover three to six months of expenses. How much you’ll need will vary based on your financial situation, including the vulnerability of your income.
For example, a one-earner household is more vulnerable than a two-earner household when it comes to paychecks. So the one-earner family should generally set aside more for emergencies. Or if you don’t have disability insurance, you might consider setting aside a bigger balance in an emergency account.
Check with your employer about benefits
Some companies provide payment for accrued vacation and/or sick leave to laid off employees. If your company provides such benefits and you maintain significant balances in these accounts, you may not need as much in an emergency fund (at least to help you weather an unexpected layoff).
Here are a few items to consider as you plan your emergency fund:
  • Consider your ongoing debt payments. Putting excess cash toward high-interest credit card balances might make more sense than funding a savings account that earns four percent interest. The best option is to put money toward both your debt and your savings.
  • Determine what can be reduced and postponed. These may be items like retirement plan contributions, vacations and entertainment. Ask yourself, “How much will I need to cover my minimum monthly expenses without resorting to credit cards or lines of credit?”
  • Don’t wait to start saving. You can start small and increase contributions as you receive pay increases or windfalls. The money should be liquid — easy to get at — so don’t put it in investments with withdrawal penalties. A savings or money market account is a great place to set aside cash for a rainy day.
Need help determining the right size emergency fund for your family or business? BAS can help! Give us a call today.
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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Is Walking Away from Sunk Costs the Best Option?


Emotions make us human. They can also cause us to make rash decisions. Business owners and managers often let emotions dominate the decision-making process. This is especially true when choices are based on “sunk costs.”
Why sunk costs can lead to trouble
Broadly defined, sunk costs are past expenses that are irrelevant to current decisions. For example, many firms hire consultants who sell and install software. In some cases, a company is left waiting for years for a functional and error-free system. Meanwhile, costs continue to escalate. But are those costs relevant?
Managers, especially those who initially procured the software and contractor, may reason that pulling the plug on a failed contract would be wasting all the money spent. Not true. That money is “sunk.”
Other examples of sunk costs may be found in the areas of product research, advertising, inventory, equipment, investments and other types of business expenses. In each of these areas, companies spend money that can’t be recovered — dollars that become irrelevant for current decision-making.
 Sunk costs are a waste of time — move on
Truth be told, the only relevant costs are those that influence the company’s current and future operations. Throwing good money after bad won’t salvage a poor business investment — or a poor business decision.
Deciding to continue with a non-performing contract or a money-losing idea instead of staunching the flow of cash and changing course is irrational. It may be difficult to admit that a mistake was made. It may bruise the ego of the decision maker. But abandoning the sunk costs is often the wisest decision.
Looking for a solution that streamlines your accounting? BAS has been doing it since 1971 and is here to help you! Give us a call today.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Is it Time to Go through Your Tax Records? Consider This…


Chances are you’re a little confused about what to keep and what to throw when it comes to tax and financial records. No worries. It’s time to sort through what you’ve got and keep only the important stuff. Here’s what to keep in mind:
  • Keep records that directly support income and expense items on your tax return. For income, this includes W-2s, 1099s and K-1s. Also keep records of any other income you might have received from other sources. It’s also a good idea to save your bank statements and investment statements from brokers.
  • The IRS can audit you within three years after you file your return. But in cases where income is underreported, they can audit for up to six years. To be safe, keep your tax records for seven years.
  • Retain certain records even longer. These include records relating to your house purchase and any improvements you make. Also keep records of investment purchases, dividends reinvested and any major gifts you make or receive.
  • Hold on to copies. Keep copies of all your tax returns and W-2s in case you ever need to prove your earnings for Social Security purposes.
Have other questions related to tax record retention? BAS can help! Give us a call today.

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sweeping Changes for Taxpayers & What They Mean for You


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was passed at the end of December 2017 with some of the most sweeping changes taxpayers have seen in 30 years. Here are a few big changes to come out of the new act — and what you can do about it.
  1. The medical expense deduction threshold was lowered to 7.5 percent.
The tax reform bill retroactively lowers the threshold to deduct medical expenses in 2017 to 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income. The previous threshold was 10 percent. This new 7.5 percent threshold remains in place for 2018, but reverts back to 10 percent in the following years.
What this means: You may want to consider using the medical expense deduction this year. If there are any qualified medical expenses you can make (drug purchases, medical equipment, etc.) to push you over the new, lower threshold, consider doing so in 2018.
  1. The healthcare individual mandate penalty stays in place until 2019.
The shared responsibility penalty (also known as the individual mandate) in the Affordable Care Act is effectively repealed by the tax reform legislation, but not right away. The penalty is set to zero in 2019, but remains in place for 2018.
What this means: You still need to retain your Forms 1095 this year in order to provide evidence of your healthcare coverage. Without proof of coverage, you may have to pay the higher of $695 or 2.5 percent of your income. Unless there are further changes coming, 2018 may be the last year you’ll need to worry about the individual mandate penalty.
More changes to consider for 2018 tax planning
We’re experiencing some of most significant tax law changes since the 1980s. There will be a lot of things to consider for tax planning this year. Here are some of the most significant:
  • Reduced income tax rates
  • Doubled standard deductions
  • Suspension of personal exemptions
  • New limits on itemized deductions, including:
  1. Combined state and local income, property and sales tax deduction limited to $10,000
  2. Casualty losses limited to federally declared disaster areas
  3. Elimination of miscellaneous deductions subject to the 2 percent of adjusted gross income threshold
  • Boosts to:
  1. The child tax credit ($2,000 in 2018)
  2. A new $500 family tax credit
  3. 529 education savings plan expansion for K-12 private school education
  4. The estate tax exemption​ (doubled)
Stay tuned
There will surely be more details on the tax reform changes and how they are implemented by the IRS in the weeks to come. In the meantime, contact us if you have urgent questions regarding your situation.
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