Learn how to lower your taxes with these legitimate tax saving strategies.
Tax Saving Strategies: A Helpful Checklist
This Financial Guide provides tax saving strategies for deferring income and maximizing deductions and includes some strategies for specific categories of individuals, such as those with high income and those who are self-employed.
Before getting into the specifics, however, we would like to stress the importance of proper documentation. Many taxpayers forgo worthwhile tax deductions because they have neglected to keep receipts or records. Keeping adequate records is required by the IRS for employee business expenses, deductible travel and entertainment expenses, and charitable gifts and travel. But don't do it just because the IRS says so. Neglecting to track these deductions can lead to overlooking them. You also need to maintain records regarding your income. If your receive a large tax-free amount, such as a gift or inheritance, make certain to document the item so that the IRS does not later claim that you had unreported income.
The checklist items listed below are for general information only and should be tailored to your specific situation. If you think one of them fits your tax situation, we'd be happy to discuss it with you.
Travel and Entertainment: Maximizing the Tax Benefits
This Financial Guide shows you how to take advantage of all of the travel and entertainment expenses you're legally entitled to and offers guidance on which expenses are deductible and what percentage of them you can deduct. It also discusses the importance of following IRS rules for keeping records and substantiating your expenses in order to avoid an audit.
The "Nanny Tax" Rules: What To Do If You Have Household Employees
This Financial Guide will help you decide whether you have a "household employee," as defined by the IRS and if you do, whether you need to pay federal employment taxes. It explains the rules for determining, paying, and reporting Social Security tax, Medicare tax, federal unemployment tax, federal income tax withholding, and state unemployment tax for your household employee. It also explains what records you need to keep. In addition, it provides you with the information you need to find out whether you need to pay state unemployment tax for your household employee.
While many people disregard the need to pay taxes on household employees, they do so at the risk of stiff tax penalties. As you will see below, these rules are quite complex and professional tax guidance is highly recommended.
A basic familiarity with these rules will make it easier to work with your tax advisor, saving you time, reducing tax costs, and avoiding tax penalties and interest charges.
Higher Education Costs: How To Get The Best Tax Treatment
Many tax benefits are available to help you pay higher education costs, whether for your children or yourself. Because of the variety of benefits and programs, this area is one of the most complex that an individual can face. This Financial Guide discusses strategies you can use to build savings for higher education, and tax credits currently available to help ease the financial burden of paying for education.
Eligibility rules vary for education credits and savings plans and most are subject to income limitations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Tax Saving Strategies: Frequently Asked Questions
For growth stocks you hold for the long term, you pay no tax on the appreciation until you sell them. No capital gains tax is imposed on appreciation at your death.
Interest on state or local bonds ("municipals") is generally exempt from federal income tax and from tax by the issuing state or locality. For that reason, interest paid on such bonds is somewhat less than that paid on commercial bonds of comparable quality. However, for individuals in higher brackets, the interest from municipals will often be greater than from higher paying commercial bonds after reduction for taxes.
For high-income taxpayers, who live in high-income-tax states, investing in Treasury bills, bonds, and notes can pay off in tax savings. The interest on Treasuries is exempt from state and local income tax.
Travel and Entertainment: Frequently Asked Questions
If you're an employee who is reimbursed for expenses you'll need to file and expense report for your employer, which is a written accounting of your expense while on travel. If you received a cash advance, you'll also need to return to the employer any amounts in excess of your expenses.
Some per diem arrangements and mileage allowances called "accountable plans" take the place of detailed accounting to the employer, if time, place and business purpose are established.
Where expenses aren't fully reimbursed by your employer or excess reimbursements aren't returned, detailed substantiation to IRS is required and, if you're an employee, your deductions are subject to the 2 percent floor on miscellaneous itemized deductions.
In addition, your expense records should be "contemporaneous," that is, recorded close to the time expenses are incurred.
"Nanny Tax" Rules: Frequently Asked Questions
Wages subject to employment tax do not include the value of food, lodging, clothing, and other non-cash items you give your household employee. However, cash you give your employee in place of these items is included in wages.
If you reimburse the amount your employee pays to commute to your home by public transit (bus, train, etc.), do not count the reimbursement (up to $255 per month in 2017) as wages.
Further, if you reimburse your employee for the cost of parking at or near a location from which your employee commutes to your home, do not count the reimbursement (up to $255 a month in 2017) as wages.
Tax Benefits of Higher Education: Frequently Asked Questions
A wide variety of tax relief is available, but you'll need to choose which credit or deduction to claim or which savings plan to use based on your individual tax situation. You also can't use two different kinds of relief for the same item. For instance, you can't take the higher education credit and tuition fees deduction for the same student for the same year. You also can't take the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit for the same student for the same year. There may also be limits based on adjusted gross income.
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