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Should I Choose a Roth or Traditional IRA?

Posted on June 20th, 2018

Do you have questions about which type of Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is right for you? When deciding between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA, consider factors to such as tax incentives, age restrictions, and income restrictions before making your decision.

Tax Incentives

One of the main differences between the traditional IRA and the Roth IRA is the tax incentives provided by each. When deciding which is right for you, focus on what tax bracket you plan to be in when you retire, and if that bracket will be higher or lower than the one you’re in now.

  • Traditional IRAs – A traditional IRA is the best choice for you if you believe your tax rate will be lower in retirement than it is right now. With traditional IRAs, you are not taxed when you contribute money to your account. Taxes are paid when you withdraw the funds.

 

  • Roth IRAs – Roth IRAs are the best choice for you if you believe your tax rate will be higher in retirement than it is now. When you contribute to a Roth IRA, you pay taxes on the funds as you put them in. You will not have to pay taxes on funds when you’re able to withdraw.

Age Restrictions

In addition to considering tax incentives when choosing between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA, it is important to keep in mind that with a traditional IRA, there are age restrictions for contributions.

  • Traditional IRAs – Anyone younger than 70 ½ with earned income can contribute to a traditional IRA.

 

  • Roth IRAs – Roth IRAs don’t have age restrictions.

Income Restrictions

  • Traditional IRAs – You can contribute to a traditional IRA regardless of how much money you make. However, the amount of money you contribute can’t exceed the amount of income you earned that year.

 

  • Roth IRAs – For some high-income earners, Roth IRAs are out of the question. To contribute to a Roth IRA, single tax filers must have a modified gross income of less than $135,000 (in 2018). Married couples filing jointly must have modified AGIs of less than $199,000 (in 2018) to be able to contribute to a Roth IRA. The amount you contribute to a Roth IRA can’t exceed the amount of income tax you earned that year.

 

Withdrawal Rules

Both traditional and Roth IRAs allow their owners to begin taking penalty-free distributions at age 59 ½. A major difference between traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs is when the savings must be withdrawn:

  • Traditional IRAs – Traditional IRAs require you to start withdrawing funds at age 70 ½, even if you don’t need the money.

 

  • Roth IRAs – Roth IRAs don’t require withdrawals during the owner’s lifetime, which means that you can let your Roth IRA continue to grow throughout your life (tax-free) if you don’t need the money. To avoid incurring a tax payment, Roth IRAs require that the first contribution be made at least five years before the first withdrawal.

Since Roth IRAs don’t require that you withdraw funds in your lifetime, and beneficiaries aren’t required to pay taxes on withdrawals, Roth IRAs can be a good wealth transfer strategy.

Other Considerations

  • Traditional IRAs – Contributing to a traditional IRA lowers your adjusted gross income for that year, which can help you qualify for other tax incentives such as the child tax credit or the student loan interest deduction.

 

With traditional IRAs, if you are under 59 ½, you can withdraw up to $10,000 from your account to pay for qualified first-time home buyer expenses and higher education expenses, without paying the 10% early-withdrawal penalty. You are still required to pay taxes on the distribution.

 

  • Roth IRAs – Roth contributions (but not earnings) can be withdrawn penalty and tax free at any time. Even before age 59 ½.

If you are under age 59 ½, you can withdraw up to $10,000 of Roth earnings penalty-free to pay for qualified first-time-home-buyer expenses, if at least five tax years have passed since your first contribution.

Roth IRAs can be invested in almost anything you want: index funds, lifecycle funds, individual stocks, or other investments.

 

Remember, whether you choose a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, it is important that you begin contributing as soon as possible to accrue savings, and avoid withdrawing earnings before age 59 ½ to avoid penalties.

 


Do You Need to Fill out Schedules C & E?

Posted on October 4th, 2016

Schedule C is a form that reports income for any self-employed individual. If you are the sole proprietor of your business (even if it is a single-member LLC) or an independent contractor, you need to fill this form out. Sadly, since you won’t have a boss that writes your own checks, you don’t have the opportunity to have taxes taken out for you; you have to pay the full taxes of your income. That being said, claiming any and all genuine business expenses on your Schedule C will reduce the amount of income that is taxable. Make sure that you gather as many receipts for your business expenses as you can.


Schedule E is the form for certain types of supplemental income: income from rental properties you own, any royalties you earn, and income reported on a Schedule K-1 (from partnerships or S corporations) are some of the more common examples. If, however, income from multiple rental properties is your primary form of income, you may have to use a Schedule C for your sole proprietorship instead. In addition to income, a Schedule E is also used to report business losses (paying for an apartment’s carpet replacement, for example) and helps prevent you from paying too much in taxes. This only applies to “at risk” situations, which is not necessarily the same thing as the total money lost.


When it comes to taxes, honesty is always the best policy; if you run your own business or rent a room to someone, and that income is at least the minimum taxable amount, you will need to fill out a Schedule C or E, respectively. Filling out these forms do not necessarily mean that you will be paying too much in taxes, nor does that mean that you won’t be able to make up for these taxes either. If you see yourself filling out either Schedule, feel free to contact your trusted tax preparer or accountant to discuss these forms. When tax day comes, being prepared for Schedules C and E can save you time and, possibly, money.


Tax Tips for Small Business Owners

Posted on July 4th, 2016

Every year, investigative tax notices are mailed to small business owners. While these are not always official audits, they raise a red flag, and proprietors should know how to prevent and address these inquiries in turn.


This list addresses the best tax practices for small businesses to keep them abreast of tax changes and trends, and away from IRS scrutiny.


List of top 15 Best Tax Practice Tips for Entrepreneurs
1. Maintain thorough and separate records of employees and contractors.
2. If you set up any location based business, even temporarily, keep records of all expenditures and educate yourself on the local tax laws.
3. Use a tax software accounting system – this can help you develop appropriate reports at tax time and can alert you of changing tax rules.
4. If you hire a tax accountant make sure they have experience with taxes as they relate to your specific business.
5. Keep records—including serial numbers and detailed receipts—for all business equipment, office machines, and vehicles.
6. Don’t use funds that are earmarked for taxes as a means to tide your business over in hard times. This will result in a worse financial crunch come tax time and if you can’t pay, you risk the loss of your tax ID.
7. Educate yourself on the correct way to estimate your taxes – This may be overwhelming and a tax professional is highly recommended for small business owners.
8. Determine an appropriate fiscal year so that you can plan better for tax time: A fiscal year refers to an accounting year that does not end on December 31.
9. Tax records should be kept for a minimum of three years – unless related to property and depreciation. In that case, tax records should be kept for three years past the time ownership ends.
10. Keep detailed records on business vehicles’ usage – both on the job and off.
11. When operating on foreign soil and dealing with other currencies and tax laws, be sure your tax professional is vigilant in obeying the new rules on foreign bank accounts enacted in the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA.
12. Work with your tax professional to determine whether you should operate as a partnership, an S corporation, an LLC, or a sole proprietorship.
13. Become familiar with your requirements in regards to the Affordable Care Act.
14. If you are not able to pay taxes owed to the IRS, or another tax agency, contact your tax professional right away. There are appropriate steps that can be taken and ignoring it only makes it worse.
15. If you are paid in cash – that payment is taxable. The IRS has sophisticated technology to track spending habits and bank accounts to build their case.


Let the experts handle your taxes for you. It is usually a mistake for a business owner to complete their own taxes, and doing so can distract you from making your company a success.


Year Round Tax Planning for Reduced Liability

Posted on April 5th, 2016

April 15 is a stressful day of the year, and especially when attempting to cram in months of tax preparation in a few days. If receipts and records are not well-organized, keeping track of deductible expenses grows increasingly difficult. This limits the size your return, or can even cause you to pay taxes incorrectly, which incurs liability that the IRS can penalize. A stressful tax season is entirely avoidable, but it requires time, effort, and planning.

Keeping Records for a Successful Tax Season

Detailed records, either physical or digital, is beneficial when it comes to successfully submitting your tax payments. Invest in organization for you receipts and records, either with a physical filing cabinet, or web-based resources. Online services such as QuickBooks are available to digitize all records and to make financial transactions accessible 24/7. Records are important for they keep individuals and small businesses aware of their cash flow and tax deductible items that will save money each April.

Stay Up-to-Date on Tax Code

Tax law changes frequently enough to affect how much an individual owes the state or federal government. It’s easy to stay on top of these changes by attending free classes in your community, doing online research, or speaking to a tax professional. Keep abreast of the changes to avoid surprising bumps in taxes owed, and doing so on a regular basis will ensure year-long tax prep success. Quarterly reviews of your taxes are recommended to make sure your information is accurate.

Hire Tax Professionals

The hardest part of preparing for taxes year-round is doing so while managing other areas of your life. Taking control of tax preparation ties up your time and energy that is needed elsewhere. Our affordable services will grant peace of mind, financial stability, and precise tax preparation for year-round success. The tax code is infamous for being complex and challenging for most individuals, but professional help can untangle your tax complexities and enable you to receive the return you deserve. This will keep your finances in check and ensure that the IRS doesn’t follow up with audits or penalties.

 


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