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Showing posts from February, 2021

2021 Individual Taxes: Q&A for Tax Amounts That May Have Changed

Many people are more concerned about their 2020 tax bills right now than they are about their 2021 tax situations. That’s understandable because your 2020 individual tax return is due to be filed in less than three months (unless you file an extension). However, it’s a good idea to acquaint yourself with tax amounts that may have changed for 2021. Below are some Q&As about tax amounts for this year. Be aware that not all tax figures are adjusted annually for inflation and even if they are, they may be unchanged or change only slightly due to low inflation. In addition, some amounts only change with new legislation. How much can I contribute to an IRA for 2021? If you’re eligible, you can contribute $6,000 a year to a traditional or Roth IRA, up to 100% of your earned income. If you’re 50 or older, you can make another $1,000 “catch up” contribution. (These amounts were the same for 2020.) I have a 401(k) plan through my job. How much can I contribute to it? For 2021, you c

Many Tax Amounts Affecting Businesses Have Increased for 2021

A number of tax-related limits that affect businesses are annually indexed for inflation, and many have increased for 2021. Some stayed the same due to low inflation. And the deduction for business meals has doubled for this year after a new law was enacted at the end of 2020. Here’s a rundown of those that may be important to you and your business. Social Security tax The amount of employees’ earnings that are subject to Social Security tax is capped for 2021 at $142,800 (up from $137,700 for 2020). Deductions Section 179 expensing: Limit: $1.05 million (up from $1.04 million for 2020) Phaseout: $2.62 million (up from $2.59 million) Income-based phase-out for certain limits on the Sec. 199A qualified business income deduction begins at: Married filing jointly: $329,800 (up from $326,600) Married filing separately: $164,925 (up from $163,300) Other filers: $164,900 (up from $163,300) Business meals Deduction for eligible business-related food and beverage expenses provided by a

Did You Make Donations in 2020? There’s Still Time to Get Substantiation

If you’re like many Americans, letters from your favorite charities may be appearing in your mailbox acknowledging your 2020 donations. But what happens if you haven’t received such a letter — can you still claim a deduction for the gift on your 2020 income tax return? It depends. What is required To support a charitable deduction, you need to comply with IRS substantiation requirements. This generally includes obtaining a contemporaneous  written acknowledgment from the charity stating the amount of the donation, whether you received any goods or services in consideration for the donation, and the value of any such goods or services. “Contemporaneous” means the earlier of: The date you file your tax return, or The extended due date of your return. So if you made a donation in 2020 but haven’t yet received substantiation from the charity, it’s not too late — as long as you haven’t filed your 2020 return. Contact the charity and request a written acknowledgment. Keep in mind th

Don’t Forget to Take Required Minimum Distributions this Year

If you have a traditional IRA or tax-deferred retirement plan account, you probably know that you must take required minimum distributions (RMDs) when you reach a certain age — or you’ll be penalized. The CARES Act, which passed last March, allowed people to skip taking these withdrawals in 2020 but now that we’re in 2021, RMDs must be taken again. The basics Once you attain age 72 (or age 70½ before 2020), you must begin taking RMDs from your traditional IRAs and certain retirement accounts, including 401(k) plans. In general, RMDs are calculated using life expectancy tables published by the IRS. If you don’t withdraw the minimum amount each year, you may have to pay a 50% penalty tax on what you  should  have taken out — but didn’t. (Roth IRAs don’t require withdrawals until after the death of the owner.) You can always take out more than the required amount. In planning for distributions, your income needs must be weighed against the desirable goal of keeping the tax shelter of the

IRS Issues Final Regs on ICHRAs

In mid-January, the IRS issued final regulations that clarify the application of the employer shared responsibility provisions under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as nondiscrimination rules, to Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). The regs also address Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRAs). These accounts allow employers to make tax-deductible contributions to reimburse employees for part or all of the expenses those employees incur in securing individual health care coverage (including Medicare). More specifically, the regs allow ICHRAs certain safe harbors from the pertinent ACA provisions and Internal Revenue Code rules. Safe harbors The final regs provide that, to determine whether an offer of an ICHRA to a full-time employee is “affordable” under the ACA, an employer may use the lowest-cost silver plan for self-only coverage offered through a Health Insurance Marketplace (or “exchange”) where the employee’s primary site of employment is loca

How the New COVID-19 Relief Law Affects Retirement Benefits

The Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) includes a wide variety of provisions that address the ongoing economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are so many provisions, in fact, that you may find it challenging to keep track of everything pertinent to your organization. One example is retirement benefits. Although the CAA doesn’t make sweeping changes to defined benefit plans, such as pensions, or defined contribution plans, such as 401(k)s, the law does affect both. Here’s a brief overview of the provisions in question. Future transfers The tax code allows “qualified future transfers” of up to 10 years of retiree health and life costs from a company’s pension plan to a retiree’s health benefits or life insurance account within the plan. These transfers must meet certain requirements, such as the plan being 120% funded, which have become too difficult to meet in some cases due to pandemic-related market volatility. In response, the CAA allows an employer to make a

One Reason to File Your 2020 Tax Return Early

The IRS announced it is opening the 2020 individual income tax return filing season on February 12. (This is later than in past years because of a new law that was enacted late in December.) Even if you typically don’t file until much closer to the April 15 deadline (or you file for an extension), consider filing earlier this year. Why? You can potentially protect yourself from tax identity theft — and there may be other benefits, too. How is a person’s tax identity stolen? In a tax identity theft scheme, a thief uses another individual’s personal information to file a fraudulent tax return early in the filing season and claim a bogus refund. The real taxpayer discovers the fraud when he or she files a return and is told by the IRS that the return is being rejected because one with the same Social Security number has already been filed for the tax year. While the taxpayer should ultimately be able to prove that his or her return is the legitimate one, tax identity theft can be a ha

Educate Yourself About the Revised Tax Benefits for Higher Education

Attending college is one of the biggest investments that parents and students ever make. If you or your child (or grandchild) attends (or plans to attend) an institution of higher learning, you may be eligible for tax breaks to help foot the bill. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, which was enacted recently, made some changes to the tax breaks. Here’s a rundown of what has changed. Deductions vs. credits Before the new law, there were tax breaks available for qualified education expenses including the Tuition and Fees Deduction, the Lifetime Learning Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit. Tax  credits  are generally better than tax  deductions. The difference? A tax deduction reduces your taxable income while a tax credit reduces the amount of taxes you owe on a dollar-for-dollar basis. First, let’s look at the deduction For 2020, the Tuition and Fees Deduction could be up to $4,000 at lower income levels or up to $2,000 at middle income levels. If your 2020 modified a