A dollar saved is a dollar earned. By adopting a few simple ideas, you can tackle the tax advantages that come with savings and do so with confidence. Use these top ten tax saving tips in the New Year to help you lower your taxes, save money and avoid penalties. Continue reading
As 2018 winds down, it’s time to look ahead to the new year and the changes coming to your 2019 federal tax rates. The IRS recently announced changes to more than 60 tax provisions, including tax rate schedules, cost-of-living adjustments, and more. Many of the changes announced for 2019 align with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in 2017. These new policy regulations take effect starting January 1, 2019 – meaning they’ll impact the tax return you prepare for April 2020. Nevertheless, plan ahead and avoid surprises when tracking your finances.
Here are the key changes the IRS is making to your taxes in 2019.
New 2019 Taxable Income Brackets and Tax Rates
Just as in 2018, there are seven tax rates the IRS has bracketed out for 2019. These tax rates are set at 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%. The taxable income ranges have changed slightly from 2018. Here’s how these rates break out by filing status:
In comparison to 2018, the income brackets have shifted upward slightly. For example, in 2018, incomes of 0 – $19,050 were taxed at 10%; now, the IRS includes incomes up to $19,400. Continue reading
Not long ago, we wrote an overview of tax reforms, and legislation is now underway in Congress to implement some of these streamlined tax proposals. In just six months, plans have already shifted. The passage of a new tax reform law would usher in even more sweeping changes for corporate and personal finances.
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives voted to pass a version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Later the same day, the Senate Finance Committee unveiled and passed its own version. Although the final product has yet to be written by the reconciliation committee, now is the time to prepare for tax reform. During times of great economic change, the stability a skilled accountant offers can help you with smart tax planning, allowing you to control more of your own wealth and adjust to financial shifts.
Here’s what each bill looks like in its current state, the portions of it that are likely to be included in the final version, and how it could affect your financial goals. Continue reading
Thanks to technology, telecommuting, and the internet, office life has been transformed. Remote staffers work from anywhere in the world, your workspace has expanded into the cloud, and contractors contribute their unique expertise to your organization. While many of these changes make business easier to conduct than ever, they present unique challenges during tax season. A New York CPA with thorough knowledge of state and federal law can help you manage the new complexity of your organization’s online activity. Continue reading
Whether retirement is decades away or a few years off, the changes you make to your investment plans can have a significant impact on your post-retirement lifestyle. One big question many investors have is about Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs. Specific state and local regulations can also affect your saving strategy, so choose a New York accountant with a thorough understanding of how state laws intersect with your investment strategy. It’s best to seek the input of a qualified financial adviser before making investment decisions, but this quick guide will give you useful suggestions to discuss with your CPA. Continue reading
For the nearly 90 percent of Americans over the age of 65 who collect some or all of their retirement benefits through Social Security, 2017 could be a year of changes. For those who are planning to retire within the next five years, current changes to Social Security could have a lasting impact on their benefits too. While the best guide to maximizing your benefits and protecting your wealth is a knowledgeable CPA who can personalize your retirement planning, reading up can help you know which questions to ask when talking to your accountant or financial planner. Continue reading
When it comes to the little things, procrastination has its rewards. Sleeping in an extra few minutes or putting off errands until after your alma mater’s big game can feel good. When talking about your business’ 2017 taxes, though, it’s never too early to start. Every year brings new changes to tax laws, and organizations that prepare to implement next year’s tax strategy early gain a significant chance to make the most of what’s new. With the help of a New York accountant who has already done the necessary homework on local, state, and federal tax law for the coming year, you ensure your company benefits from every deduction and credit you’re owed. Continue reading
Federal estate tax laws have changed recently, reflecting shifts in how families pass along wealth. The current exemption threshold is indexed for annual inflation, and as of this year, that figure is $5.45 million. This higher threshold means that the great majority – more than 98 percent – of a New York CPA’s clients have estates that are exempt from the national gift and estate tax. Continue reading
Few decisions are as critical to an organization’s financial health as choosing the right accountant. It’s more than just a matter of qualifications or cost; a Certified Public Accountant who fits your company’s needs must also be a good fit with your goals. Here’s an overview of what you need to know to find your ideal accountant.
What Do You Need in a CPA?
What is the first thing you need your accountant to do? The answer will tell you a great deal about what sort of CPA you should work with. Your immediate challenge might be assembling accurate, complete financial statements after a recent merger or acquisition. You might need a forensic accountant to spot and explain anomalies in records.
Perhaps you need someone to handle routine accounting duties such as payroll and general ledger maintenance. Maybe you want a Long Island accountant with extensive knowledge of state and federal tax laws. Your ideal accountant might play a key advisory role, helping your organization grow. All of these and more are good reasons to seek a CPA with a specific skill set.
In-House or Outside Accounting Firm?
In the beginning, many business owners and entrepreneurs handle their own accounting using readily available bookkeeping software tools. Successful enterprises quickly grow beyond that point, and then executives face their first major accounting decision: Should they hire a CPA in-house, or should the company work with an outside accounting firm?
For growing businesses, the expense of a full-time accountant may be too great, especially if the company needs experience with a wide range of skills. Hiring CPA services from an outside firm is a smart choice that puts expertise in a variety of areas at a business owner’s fingertips. Large, established businesses face a different challenge: They can afford an in-house accountant, but the volume and scope of their financial transactions may require additional help at times. Turning tax preparation over to an outside CPA relieves pressure on the in-house staff.
Outside accountants are able to handle every aspect of a company’s finances, including:
– Tax compliance
– Attestation and assurance
– Forensic accounting
– Audit and review
– Budget and forecast preparation
– Analysis and problem-solving
In-house accountants become familiar with a company’s inner workings and are part of the fabric of the organization. They work with outside CPAs during times of flux such as a merger or sale. Businesses often ask inside accountants to manage:
– General ledger
– Accounts payable and receivable
– Treasury and bank reconciliation
– Daily transactions
Qualifications for Your Company’s Accountant
A larger company has more complex financial needs and requires an accountant with a more extensive skill set than a smaller business. When looking for an accountant, consider these qualifications and areas of expertise.
Certification separates accountants from CPAs and CMAs. Accountants may have either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree and do not need to pass a qualifying exam. A Certified Public Accountant earns a minimum of a four-year degree and must maintain a schedule of ongoing education to retain certification. They must also take and pass a standardized test to meet state certification requirements. Some accountants focus on the needs of businesses and become Certified Management Accountants, or CMAs. Like their CPA counterparts, CMAs graduate from a four-year program and pass an exam to earn certification.
Aside from certification, experience is another key qualification to examine. CPA services for specific industries may be specialized, and accountants who have experience in those industries are particularly valuable. Accountants familiar with wholesale, retail, services, and other specializations help businesses in these sectors succeed.
When working with an accountant from an outside firm, size matters. A sole practitioner may not offer the versatility of a larger firm, whereas the Big Four may cost more than they save a growing business. Ideally, an accounting firm gives clients versatility and Big Four-quality service at a more accessible price. A mid-sized CPA firm that delivers individualized service is a good starting point for most companies.
References and Interview Tips for CPAs
Some of your most promising leads to find the ideal CPA come from colleagues or vendors. Ask associates within your industry about how they fill their accounting needs; they can often point you in the right direction. Professional associations and industry organizations are also useful when starting your search for the right accountant, so ask around at events and meetings.
A CPA is more than a bookkeeper. A business’ accountant deals with sensitive information, so discretion and availability are vital. CPA firms that instill a company-wide
culture of service ensure you and your firm will be treated as priority clients. Look for firms that offer hours that fit your needs and put you in touch with your accountant, not a voice at a call center.
Whether you want routine bookkeeping, knowledgeable tax preparation, or financial guidance through periods of change in your company’s history, the right accountant plays a crucial role in your business’ success.
Copyright © 2016 CPA Services. All Rights Reserved.
More than half the nation is single, according to U.S. Census data assembled by CityLab. Among that number, many are seniors; it’s the fastest growing group of single people in the nation. Financial planning as a single senior is just as important as it is for married people, yet most of the do-it-yourself financial advice you find is aimed at couples. Here are some key tips to consider when working with your Certified Public Accountant to make the most of your senior status whether you are divorced, a widow or widower, or have never married.
Widows and Widowers
For those who have lost a spouse, financial planning often includes attention to Social Security benefits. Upon reaching full retirement age, or FRA, surviving spouses who have not remarried before age 60 may be eligible for 100 percent of their partners’ Social Security benefits. These benefits continue to be recalculated to adjust for inflation and may be a better option to claim than your own benefits, particularly if you choose to claim at FRA instead of waiting until age 70 to earn additional benefits by delaying your claim.
Choosing survivor benefits and deferring your own claim can lead to a more comfortable retirement. The specifics of eligibility, when to claim, and which benefits to take can be complex to navigate on your own, however, so it’s best to speak to a CPA with experience in retirement planning who will help you make the right decisions for your financial future.
Financial planning for divorcees brings its own set of challenges depending on your ex-spouse’s financial status, the length of your marriage, and whether your former spouse is still living. You may be able to claim some spousal benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work history. Typically, these benefits amount to no more than 50 percent of the ex-partner’s qualified benefits, and these claims are limited to marriages that lasted at least ten years. As with survivor benefits, making a claim on an ex-partner’s Social Security could allow you to defer your own claim until later in life when your own payments increase to their maximum at age 70.
Those whose former spouses have died may qualify for a full survivor benefit instead of half the spousal benefit. In most cases, this full benefit requires the marriage to have lasted at least ten years, but the law does make some exceptions, such as having a disabled child in the home. Because retirement benefit rules can become quite complicated when divorce and survivor benefits enter the picture, it’s best to speak to a financial advisor and learn about all your options.
Although retirement planning for never-married people is more straightforward when claiming Social Security benefits, single seniors face their own set of challenges. With a single income, maximizing benefits becomes even more important. If you have a partner who is a part of your life and future but not your Social Security status, your CPA can implement a financial plan that includes the people most important to you.
Copyright © 2016 CPA Services. All Rights Reserved.