Tag Archives: tax planning


Check your withholding soon | Avoid a higher tax bill next April

An important part of financial planning is Tax Planning. With so many changes to the tax code this year HFM is highly encouraging everyone to review their tax plan or make a tax plan this summer with their CPA or tax advisor. Don’t get caught in April 2019 with a potentially higher tax bill than 2017. Now is the time you should consider making changes to your withholding NOT in December 2018. Read the latest news from the IRS.gov on what to do and we remind you to consult with your tax adviser as well.

 

IR-2018-145, June 28, 2018

Washington, DC  – Taxpayers who owed additional tax when they filed their 2017 federal tax return earlier this year can avoid another unexpected tax bill next year by doing a “paycheck checkup” as soon as possible, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the tax reform legislation passed in December, made major changes to the tax law, including increasing the standard deduction, removing personal exemptions, increasing the Child Tax Credit, limiting or discontinuing certain deductions and changing tax rates and brackets.

These far-reaching changes could have a big impact on the tax refund or balance due on the tax return people file next year. The IRS encourages every employee to do a “paycheck checkup” soon to ensure they have the correct amount of tax taken out of their pay.

Checking and adjusting withholding now can prevent an unexpected tax bill and penalties next year at tax time. The IRS Withholding Calculator ( https://www.irs.gov/individuals/irs-withholding-calculator) and Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, can help.

The IRS encourages taxpayers to be proactive:

Do a ‘paycheck checkup’ soon

  • The Withholding Calculator can help taxpayers apply the new law to their specific financial situation and make an informed decision whether to change their withholding this year.
  • Adjust their withholding as soon as possible for an even, consistent amount of withholding throughout the rest of the year.
  • Taxpayers with more complex situations may need to use Publication 505. The publication is more effective for employees who owe self-employment tax, the alternative minimum tax or tax on unearned income from dependents. It can also help those who receive non-wage income such as dividends, capital gains, rents and royalties. Publication 505 includes worksheets and examples to guide taxpayers through their particular situations.

Underpayment penalties

  • To avoid paying the estimated tax penalty, taxpayers should ensure they have enough tax withheld from their paychecks and appropriate estimated tax payments. Ordinarily, taxpayers can avoid this penalty by paying at least 90 percent of their tax during the year.
  • If taxpayers expect to owe at least $1,000 in tax after subtracting withholding and refundable credits, they should make estimated tax payments.

Using the Withholding Calculator or Publication 505

  • Taxpayers should have their completed 2017 tax return handy to help estimate the amount of income, deductions, adjustments and credits to enter. They’ll also need their most recent pay stubs to help compute their withholding to date this year. Results from these tools depend on the accuracy of information a taxpayer provides.
  • Employees can use the results from the Withholding Calculator or Publication 505 to help determine if they should complete a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, and, if so, what information to include on the form.
  • The calculator may also be helpful to recipients of pension and annuity income. These recipients can change their withholding by filling out Form W-4P and giving it to their payer.
  • If a taxpayer’s personal circumstances change during the year, they should re-check their withholding.

Adjusting withholding

  • If an employee determines they should adjust their withholding, they should complete a new Form W-4 and submit it to their employer as soon as possible.
  • Some employers have an electronic method to update a Form W-4.
  • Taxpayers who change their 2018 withholding should recheck their withholding at the start of 2019. A mid-year withholding change in 2018 may have a different full-year impact in 2019, so if taxpayers don’t submit a new Form W-4 for 2019, their withholding might be higher or lower than intended.
  • If an employee has a change in personal circumstances that reduces the number of withholding allowances they can claim, they must submit a new Form W-4 within 10 days of the change.
  • The fewer withholding allowances an employee enters on the Form W-4, the higher their tax withholding will be. Entering “0” or “1” on line 5 of the Form W-4 means more tax will be withheld; entering a bigger number means less tax will be withheld.

Additional information

  • The Withholding Calculator does not request personally identifiable information such as name, Social Security number, address or bank account numbers. The IRS does not save or record the information entered on the calculator. Taxpayers should be aware of tax scams, especially via email or phone and cybercriminals impersonating the IRS. The IRS does not send emails related to the calculator or the information entered in it.
  • The calculator and Publication 505 are not tax-planning tools. Taxpayers needing advice regarding the new tax law and personal situations should consult a trusted tax professional.

Taxpayers can get more information on these topics at www.irs.gov/withholding. For information on steps taxpayers can take now to get a jump on next year’s taxes, including how the new tax law may affect them, visit IRS.gov/getready.

 

From https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-bill-this-year-check-withholding-soon-avoid-another-one-next-year


Financial Planning for Small Business Owners

At HFM we know many business owners that are great at what they do, (build houses, sell appliances, provide IT services) but need help managing their finances. We agree with this article that these are the areas where expertise is a necessity. 

Who hasn’t dreamed about starting a business?

Becoming a successful entrepreneur has replaced home ownership as the new definition of the American Dream, thanks to the recent collapse of the real estate market and the made-for-Hollywood stories of folks like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, of Apple and Facebook, respectively.

But while Jobs and Zuckerberg have become household names, fame ought to be the least of the attractions in owning a business. More compelling to the tens of thousands of individuals starting a small business every year is the allure of being master of one’s own professional success.

Being the boss can be exhilarating.

But there are also significant risks to going out on your own. Unfortunately, the failure rate of small business is high, with only 20 percent of new businesses surviving for five years. Another depressing statistic: fewer than 40 percent of self-employed persons working alone make more than $25,000 a year.

The old saying, “No one plans to fail, but many fail to plan,” has special applicability to the new business owner. Starting up can be deceptively simple: Facebook was launched with just an innovative idea, a laptop, and a dorm room. But from the very outset, business owners need to be aware that even the most basic business model entails considerable financial planning complexity.

Comprehensive financial planning for an individual or couple generally involves tax planning, risk management, investment planning, retirement planning and gift and estate planning.

For each of these areas, let’s consider how business ownership takes this planning to another level.

  • Tax Planning:  The legal structure chosen for the business – sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or a corporation – will determine how the business profits are taxed. As a sole proprietor or single owner of an LLC, your business income is treated the same as your personal income, making tax compliance considerably simpler. Add partners or additional LLC members, and while again the business income flows through to the individual return, it is possible to split the taxable income (and losses) of the business in ways that can benefit multiple owners. S-corporation status can allow business owners to take some distributions of income without paying self-employment taxes, whereas C-corporation status entails separate taxation at the business level, at different rates from what the business owner pays on his personal return. To the extent that individuals and C-corporations have different marginal rates at different brackets of income, it is possible to coordinate the taxation of business and personal income in a way that provides the greatest benefit to both the business and its owner.
  • Risk Management: Most individuals need to plan for the financial risk of early death, disability, illness and infirmity, and liability or loss related to property ownership.  Once an individual owns a business, however, the risks multiply to include: interruption of the business due to a disaster; death or disability of a person key to the success of the business; loss of business property; and lawsuits resulting from negligence or defective products.  This last risk can be addressed in part by the legal structure of the business, but the others require specialized insurance coverage over and beyond what the owner holds for himself and his family.  If the business has employees, worker’s compensation coverage becomes necessary as well.
  • Retirement Planning:  It’s not uncommon for business owners to assume they will never retire.  After all, they’re presumably doing what they love, so why not continue indefinitely? Alternatively, they may see the business as the only retirement plan necessary – as a source of capital that will fund their retirement needs. Thinking along these lines is generally a mistake: If anything, a business owner may need more retirement planning rather than less, to prepare for the time when he no longer can or wishes to work, and/or the business cannot fully provide for his financial needs. The good news is that business ownership affords all sorts of tax-advantaged ways to save for retirement, and the ability to put aside amounts considerably larger than what is permissible to non-business owners.
  • Investment Planning: Most small businesses are self-financed by their owners, which results in the business becoming the owner’s major or only investment. Even when the owner has extra capital to make other investments, he may still prefer to put his money back into his business, where he feels he has the most control over his returns. Prudent planning nevertheless must be focused on diversification. Asset classes and investments must be carefully selected for the owner’s personal portfolio to offset the concentrated risk he is taking with the business.
  • Estate Planning: If a small business grows and becomes a valuable asset, simple wills or family trusts set up for personal affairs may no longer suffice for the transfer of the business. More sophisticated financial planning techniques will be necessary to ensure business continuity after death, reduce any estate taxes assessed for the business, and to provide liquidity to heirs to pay those taxes. A reorganization of the business might be advisable to create different types of ownership for family members, and to make full use of IRS-sanctioned discounts in valuing the business for purposes of gift and estate taxes.  Insurance trusts and charitable trusts can also play an important role in the efficient transfer of a small business.

One point should be clear when it comes to financial planning for the small business owner: the do-it-yourself drive that helped you start your business will not serve you well when it comes to managing the many financial issues created by that business.  This is where professional expertise often becomes necessary.

Exercise your privileges as chief executive officer, and delegate these issues to qualified tax and financial planning professionals. Their advice can make all the difference in improving your chances of business success.

From Financial Planning for Small Business Owners Copyright ©2017, Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.