Individual Taxes Blog

Who should own your life insurance policy?

October 12, 2017

Your decision on who should own your life insurance policy at your death depends in part on whether you want to replace income, provide liquidity or transfer wealth to loved ones.


“Bunching” medical expenses will be a tax-smart strategy for many in 2017

October 6, 2017

Accelerating deductible expenses into the current year is one way to reduce your tax bill. Tax reform may make “bunching” medical expenses into 2017 an especially valuable acceleration strategy.


Investors: Beware of the wash sale rule

September 28, 2017

While no one wants to lose money, realizing a capital loss on an investment can provide tax savings. Don’t let the wash sale rule wash out the tax benefits.


Why you should boost your 401(k) contribution rate between now and year end

September 21, 2017

Have you been contributing enough to your 401(k) plan in 2017?


Save more for college through the tax advantages of a 529 savings plan

September 14, 2017

Sec. 529 plans can help you build a large college nest egg via tax-deferred compounding.


Estate tax relief for family businesses is available … in the form of a deferral

September 7, 2017

Estate tax relief for owners of family businesses is available. Find out if you qualify.


The ABCs of the tax deduction for educator expenses

August 31, 2017

Summer has flown by and now it’s time for students and their teachers to head back to class. Teachers who buy supplies for their classrooms may be eligible for a tax break. Learn more.


Powers of attorney: Springing vs. nonspringing

August 24, 2017

Two crucial components of an estate plan are powers of attorney for property and for health care. A nonspringing power of attorney is generally preferable to a springing one. Learn why it matters.


How to determine if you need to worry about estate taxes

August 17, 2017

When Congress comes back from its August recess, it’s expected to start addressing tax reform. An estate tax repeal is one reform that’s been proposed, but a repeal may not affect you. Here’s why.


Will Congress revive expired tax breaks?

August 10, 2017

College tuition, mortgage insurance premiums, mortgage debt forgiveness: These might all save you tax on your 2017 return . . . if Congress extends expired breaks for them.


Are income taxes taking a bite out of your trusts?

August 3, 2017

Trusts are a common estate planning tool because of the many benefits they can provide. But sometimes trust income can trigger high tax rates. Here’s why, plus three ways to soften the blow.


3 midyear tax planning strategies for individuals

July 27, 2017

Tax planning is not just a year-end activity. Boost the power of your individual tax planning by implementing these three strategies now.


The stretch IRA: A simple yet powerful estate planning tool

July 27, 2017

Do you know how to turn an IRA from a retirement tool into an estate planning tool? The answer is to “stretch” it. Doing so is surprisingly simple.


Keep real estate separate from your business’s corporate assets to save tax

July 20, 2017

Many businesses operate as C corporations so they can buy and hold real estate just as they do equipment, inventory and other assets. But this can be a costly tax mistake.


Summer is a good time to start your 2017 tax planning and organize your tax records

July 13, 2017

Taxes may not be top of mind during the summer, but a little effort now can pay off later!


Leaving specific assets to specific heirs is an estate planning no-no

June 30, 2017

Don’t bequeath specific assets to specific heirs. Here’s why, and what to do instead.


Pay attention to the details when selling investments

June 15, 2017

If you want to minimize taxes on your sales of investments, the details matter.


Are your retirement savings secure from creditors?

June 8, 2017

Provide yourself peace of mind by taking steps now to protect retirement savings from creditors. Qualified employer plans and traditional and Roth IRAs can be at risk to potential creditors’ claims.


Donating a vehicle might not provide the tax deduction you expect

June 1, 2017

Before donating a vehicle, find out the charity’s intent. How the charity will use the vehicle can have a significant impact on your charitable deduction.


A “back door” Roth IRA can benefit higher-income taxpayers

May 25, 2017

Could you benefit from opening the “back door” to a Roth IRA?


Worried about challenges to your estate plan? Make it no contest

May 16, 2017

Adding a no-contest clause to your will or living trust might deter challenges to your estate plan after your death. But enforceability differs from state to state.


Asset valuations and your estate plan go hand in hand

May 10, 2017

Don’t run afoul of the IRS with noncash gifts. Valuation by a qualified appraiser is a must.


Turning next year’s tax refund into cash in your pocket now

May 3, 2017

If you received a 2016 federal income tax refund, you essentially made an interest-free loan to the government. Here’s how you can avoid doing that this year and, instead, begin collecting your 2017 refund now.


Now's a great time to purge old tax records

April 26, 2017

Do you know what individual income tax records are safe to toss? Here are some guidelines.


Individual tax calendar: Key deadlines for the remainder of 2017

April 20, 2017

Look beyond April 18 to the tax-related deadlines you face for the rest of 2017.


Make health care decisions while you're healthy

April 13, 2017

Do you know who’ll make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re unable? Do they know your wishes? If not, a health care power of attorney and a living will are two key estate planning documents to execute today.


Keep family matters out of the public eye by avoiding probate

April 6, 2017

Probate can be an undesirable process. Fortunately, you can avoid, or at least minimize, probate. Designating beneficiaries where possible is one way, but there are others.


Direct tuition payments benefit your grandchild and your estate plan

March 30, 2017

Don’t miss a valuable opportunity to make direct payments of your grandchild’s tuition. This strategy can reduce potential gift and estate tax exposure.


Divorce necessitates an estate plan review

March 23, 2017

A divorce can be devastating. But it doesn’t have to ruin your estate plan. By making the proper revisions, you can regain the peace of mind that your assets will be distributed per your wishes.


2016 IRA contributions — it’s not too late!

March 16, 2017

Making a 2016 IRA contribution by April 18 can be beneficial even if it isn’t deductible.


When an elderly parent might qualify as your dependent

March 9, 2017

Supporting an elderly parent? You might qualify for a tax break on your 2016 return.


When it comes to charitable deductions, all donations aren’t created equal

March 2, 2017

A $100 donation may not provide a $100 charitable deduction. What you give and how the charity uses the gift are just two of the factors that may also affect your deduction. Here’s what you need to know.


Explore all of your options when appointing the executor of your estate

February 23, 2017

Choosing the wrong executor of your estate can have wide-ranging implications. Learn about the duties of an executor and your options so you can make the right decision based on your circumstances.


Are you leaving your IRA to someone other than your spouse?

February 17, 2017

Special planning is required if you wish to pass your IRA on to nonspouse beneficiaries, such as your children, while preserving the tax benefits of the account.


5 questions single parents should ask about their estate plans

February 9, 2017

Are you a single parent of minor children? Your estate plan requires special attention.


2016 higher-education breaks can save your family taxes

February 2, 2017

If you had a child in college in 2016, be sure you max out your higher education tax breaks.


The investment interest expense deduction: Less beneficial than you might think

January 26, 2017

Will the investment interest expense deduction save you tax? Perhaps not, or not much, if you invest in municipal bonds or your investment income is mostly long-term capital gains and qualified dividends


A difficult decision: Having an elderly parent declared inacapacitated

January 19, 2017

Grappling with the decision of having a parent declared incapacitated? Learn about two key questions to consider and some estate planning tools that can help.


Are you able to deduct medical expenses on your tax return?

January 11, 2017

Medical expense deductions can be difficult for many taxpayers to claim. In 2017, it will become even tougher for those over age 65 to get a tax break. Here’s why.


Vacation home should keep families together, not tear them apart

January 4, 2017

Don’t let a weekend getaway end in a fight over the family vacation home. Learn about estate planning strategies to help avoid tensions and keep the home in the family for future generations to enjoy


Should you keep your trust a secret?

December 28, 2016

Keeping your children in the dark over your wealth plans by using a quiet trust can backfire. A better option may be an incentive trust. Learn the differences between the two trust types.


Why making annual exclusion gifts before year end can still be a good idea

December 21, 2016

The 2016 gift tax annual exclusion allows you to give up to $14,000 per recipient tax-free. Even with a possible 2017 estate tax repeal, 2016 annual exclusion gifts may be tax-smart.


Family matters: Stepchildren and your estate plan

December 14, 2016

Legally adopting your stepchildren will provide them with inheritance rights. However, there are other considerations to take into account before doing so. Learn more.


Ensure your year-end donations will be deductible on your 2016 return

December 7, 2016

Will your year-end donations qualify for a 2016 charitable deduction? Only if their “unconditional delivery” is by Dec. 31 and the organization is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions.


A brief overview of the President-elect's tax plan for individuals

November 30, 2016

What’s the President-elect’s tax plan for individuals? The top tax rate would go down and the estate tax would be abolished. But some taxpayers could see their taxes go up. Here’s more.


The wrong life insurance beneficiary can wreak havoc with your estate plan

November 16, 2016

Review your beneficiary designations to avoid these three pitfalls and ensure that your life insurance proceeds will be distributed as you wish.


Beware of income-based limits on itemized deductions and personal exemptions

November 8, 2016

Income-based limits on tax breaks can be costly to higher-income taxpayers. Will your deductions and exemptions provide the tax savings you’re expecting? Find out!


Transfer a family business in a tax-smart way

November 1, 2016

The manner in which you transfer a family business can affect estate and income taxes. Two techniques to consider using are an intentionally defective grantor trust or an estate defective trust.


Grantor and Crummey trusts can be good options to fund a grandchild's education

October 25, 2016

Grandparents: Estate-plan-friendly options are available to help fund your grandchildren’s college educations. Read more about how grantor and Crummy trusts can be beneficial tools.


Prenups and estate plans: Make sure they work together

October 19, 2016

A prenup should work in concert with your estate plan, rather than against it. Learn about estate planning benefits and potential tax traps involved with using a prenup.


Tax-smart options for your old retirement plan when you change jobs

October 11, 2016

Don’t get hit with taxes and penalties on retirement plan assets when you change jobs.


Get 2 tax benefits from 1 donation: Give appreciated stock instead of cash

October 4, 2016

Are you planning to make charitable donations before year end? Do you own appreciated stock that you’d like to sell, but you’re concerned about the tax hit? Then consider donating it to charity.


Estate planning benefits of FLPs may be in danger

September 22, 2016

Proposed IRS regulations, if finalized, may limit the estate planning power of family limited partnerships (FLPs). Here’s a brief overview of how FLPs work and the potential impact of the regs.


Getting started on your estate plan: Inventory and value assets; estimate tax liability

September 15, 2016

Today the federal estate tax rate is a whopping 45%. Do you know if your estate could be subject to this tax? Find out.


Tax impact of investor vs. trader status

September 12, 2016

Being classified as a trader rather than an investor has certain tax advantages if you make short-term investments. But qualifying as a trader isn’t easy.


Now’s the time to start thinking about “bunching” — miscellaneous itemized deductions, that is

September 1, 2016

If you’ve paid investment advisory fees, retained certain legal services or not been reimbursed for employee business expenses, you might benefit from “bunching” miscellaneous deductions into 2016.


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