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News & Information

The following is intended as general information and does not represent legal or tax advice. The information presented is the view of the author and not necessarily the view of McLeod Health Foundation. Individual circumstances vary – please consult your legal and tax advisors about your specific situation.

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Household help could mean more tax work for employers

The first thing to note is that the folks who come to dust, vacuum and otherwise clean your various residential rooms are just one type of household help as far as the Internal Revenue Service is concerned. The IRS says that for tax purposes, household employees include housekeepers, maids, babysitters, gardeners and others who work in or around your private residence as your employee. A fuller list is found in IRS Publication 926, aka the Household Employer's Tax Guide.
The key phrase here is "as your employee."
Your tax requirements as the hirer of household help depends on whether the assistance is provided by an independent contractor or as your employee. The short answer to this distinction is ....

Is It Time to Cut Cable?

An explosion in the number and variety of streaming services, coupled with more time spent at home in the last year, might have you wondering whether it's time to cut the cord on cable. After all, cable isn't getting any cheaper. At the beginning of 2021, many large cable and satellite television companies announced higher prices and reinstated data caps, which were temporarily suspended in 2020 by the Federal Communications Commission.1 But is it really worth it to ditch cable in favor of streaming services? Consider the following before you make the switch.

Tax to-do's after you say 'I Do'

Among the many welcome events that are returning as we continue to move beyond complete COVID-19 lockdown are weddings. Congratulations and best wishes to all the brides and grooms out there who finally are enjoying their long-planned celebrations. My gift to all y'all newlyweds is a few words of marital tax advice. With apologies for the spare gift wrapping, here are some tax tasks you need to take care of now, or at least as soon as you get back from your honeymoon.

IRS sending letters to more than 36 million families who may qualify

The Internal Revenue Service has started sending letters to more than 36 million American families who, based on tax returns filed with the agency, may be eligible to receive monthly Child Tax Credit payments starting in July. The expanded and newly-advanceable Child Tax Credit was authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act, enacted in March. The letters are going to families who may be eligible based on information they included in either their 2019 or 2020 federal income tax return or who used the Non-Filers tool on IRS.gov last year to register for an Economic Impact Payment.
Families who are eligible for advance Child Tax Credit payments …

10 overlooked medical expenses that could make it worth itemizing tax deductions

Most taxpayers used the standard deduction even before 2017's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made it even more appealing by essentially doubling the amounts. Still, millions of filers every year find that claiming itemized deductions gives them a better tax result.
And medical expenses tend to be a big reason why they opt to itemize, especially when they know and claim all the possible health-related expenses. But in addition to the usual medical costs that can be counted on Schedule A, there are some deductible health care costs that too many taxpayers tend to overlook. Plus, a new Internal Revenue Service ruling says some COVID-related costs now count as tax deductible medical expenses. Here are 10 medical costs that could make itemizing worthwhile.

7 tax moves to make this May

May Day arrived over the weekend, but millions of taxpayers today are sending out filing mayday distress signals. The delayed May 17 Tax Day is just two weeks away. Two weeks, however, is plenty of time to get your taxes done. Or postpone them — at least the form filing part — for five more months. Those are the top two tasks on the following list of seven tax moves to make this month. Since time is ticking away, let's get right to them.

Tax refund myths

Aside from having to fill out a tax return, the most annoying thing for most people each year is waiting for their tax refunds. The complaint is continually atop the list of taxpayer complaints. The frustration of waiting for the Internal Revenue Service to deliver their tax cash probably is why so many folks fall for tax refund myths. Don't! These fabrications, six of which are listed below, won't help you get your money any sooner, and some could actually cost you more.

Twelve Potential Biden Tax Changes to Keep an Eye On

President Joe Biden used the budget reconciliation process to push through his recent COVID-19 relief package, a powerful avenue that's only available once a year. Well, the next federal fiscal year begins on October 1, 2021, and budget reconciliation will become available again, which means Biden and the Democratic Party-controlled Congress will have the opportunity to press forward with their proposed changes to the tax laws. Such changes would likely come into effect in 2022, but there remains the possibility that some could be made retroactive to earlier dates, which would vastly complicate things for clients and advisors alike. There may be only a brief window to take advantage of expiring traditional planning tools.

What does it take to achieve the retirement of your dreams?

That’s the essence of the question we posed to dozens of financial planners. What are the common characteristics of those who have a successful retirement? Did they have a budget? Did they save aggressively and invest prudently? Did they own enough life insurance? Did they focus on minimizing taxes and building after-tax wealth? Did they put in place plans to manage and mitigate all the risks they might face in retirement? Did they craft a well-thought-out estate plan?
“There’s no ‘formula’ for a successful retirement,” said Robert Klein, president and founder of the Retirement Income Center. “Everyone’s situation is different. Having said this, successful retirees share a combination of financial and nonfinancial characteristics that enable them to appreciate and enjoy their retirement.”
Here’s a look at some of those characteristics.

5 tax moves to make in April 2021 (after MLB's Opening Day)

It's April. You know what that means. Major League Baseball is back! Yep, the return of The Boys of Summer takes top billing this month since the Internal Revenue Service pushed the usual April 15 Tax Day to May 17. I'll be spending this Opening Day doing what I do every year when the professional baseball season starts: watching games. I do realize, though, that there are some folks who'll be working today. And some of them will be working on taxes. So before the first pitch is thrown, here are five tax topics to think about this April.

Be sure to claim applicable household utility costs in your home office deduction

If you qualify for the home office deduction, you get to count a portion of home-related expenses that typically aren't deductible. This includes certain residential maintenance and operational costs, such as utilities. Only the business amount: Before you get too, note the phrase from the previous paragraph: count a portion of home-related expenses. You can deduct only the amount of your residence's expenses that applies to your home office.

Be sure to claim applicable household utility costs in your home office deduction

If you qualify for the home office deduction, you get to count a portion of home-related expenses that typically aren't deductible. This includes certain residential maintenance and operational costs, such as utilities. Only the business amount: Before you get too, note the phrase from the previous paragraph: count a portion of home-related expenses. You can deduct only the amount of your residence's expenses that applies to your home office.

The top frauds of 2020

2020 was a tough year. Between the pandemic and the economic crisis, we all had our hands full. And scammers didn’t take any time off either — 2020 was a busy year for fraud. In 2020, the FTC got more than 2.2 million reports about fraud, with people telling us they lost nearly $3.3 billion. Here’s what we heard from you in 2020.

8 reasons to wait to file your 2020 taxes

But there's something to said for those of us who wait. Over the years, I've discovered that writing and filing taxes have something in common. Often, as soon as you're done, you see something you want to change. With taxes, changes are not that easy once you’ve filed. Here are 8 reasons why you might slow your roll when it comes to filing your 2020 tax return.

Sick leave tax credits for self-employed

The Internal Revenue Service announced today that a new form is available for eligible self-employed individuals to claim sick and family leave tax credits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Eligible self-employed individuals will determine their qualified sick and family leave equivalent tax credits with the new IRS Form 7202.

The new stimulus bill has 6 big tax savings for small businesses

Every dollar saved on federal taxes means more cash in your bank account, and that can mean surviving or failing these days. The good news is that the latest $900 billion anti-virus stimulus bill, signed by then-President Donald Trump in late December, contains a number of tax benefits for small businesses that take the time to take advantage. Here are the six biggest.

7 reasons to file your tax return early

The 2021 filing season won't start until Feb. 12 this year. That's frustrating for the millions of taxpayers who traditionally are early return filers. It's more frustrating for those taxpayers who, because of COVID-19 complications (which also created this year's filing delay), are really counting on their tax refunds to cover expenses. This year's later than usual filing start means it is even more important to get those 1040 forms into the Internal Revenue Service as soon as the agency will take them. If you're still debating about when to file your taxes, here are seven reasons you might want to consider completing your Form 1040 sooner.

Tax statements you need

We got our first tax statement yesterday. It's our mortgage lender's Form 1098 with details on potentially tax-deductible amounts like loan interest and property taxes. This is just one of the documents that millions of taxpayers are awaiting so they can file their returns. In addition to tax-related home transactions, the various documents that are or soon will be on their way include documents detailing income, be it from wages, contract work or retirement accounts; investments; winnings and/or gambling proceeds; and in some cases, health care information.

Tax moves to make in February 2021 that will make taxpayers and their new Valentine, the IRS, happy

Yes, that mention of Uncle Sam's tax collector is not a typo or joke. It's recognition that the IRS has set Feb. 12 as the official start of the 2021 tax filing season. What other reason than wanting to be our Valentine could the tax agency have for choosing the Friday leading into St. Valentine's Weekend as the time when it will begin processing our 2020 returns? Oh, wait. Maybe to give the IRS time to update forms and computer systems due to year-end COVID-19 law changes? In any case, here are tax moves for February.

6 popular homeowner tax breaks

The specific numbers from the NAR report released Jan. 22 show existing home sales totaled 5.64 million in 2020. That's 5.6 percent higher than in 2019 and the highest level since 2006.Concerns about home shopping during COVID-19 didn't deter buyers, who apparently didn't want to miss out on record low mortgage interest rates. And the pandemic might even have helped, as people looked for more desirable places to self-isolate. In addition to achieving what many still view as a big part of the American Dream, owning a personal residence still offers a wide variety of tax breaks. Here are 6 popular home-related tax savings.

4 tax moves to make in January 2021

The Internal Revenue Service's delivery of the second round of COVID-19 relief money shouldn't hamper its handling of 2020 returns, which should officially start later this month. So if the IRS can be ready, so can we. So here are a few tax things to think about and take care of. These four tax suggestions are just a few of the things to think about this first month of this brand-spanking-new New Year. You can find more in the January Tax Moves over in the ol' blog's right column.

Social Security hike effectively lost

One such bauble that's getting some attention right now is a proposal to increase next year's cost of living (COLA) bump for Social Security beneficiaries. Earlier this year, the Social Security Administration announced that older folks getting these monthly retirement checks would see them go up by 1.3 percent. On the heels of that announcement was word that the cost of Medicare's Part B coverage, paid by those program's recipients, would go up 2.69 percent in 2021 That government medical coverage for retirees cost increase effectively eats up the small Social Security COLA hike.

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email or call, Elizabeth Jones, at (843) 777-2694.

Please note, individual financial circumstances will vary. The information on this site does not constitute legal or tax advice. Donor stories and photographs are for purposes of illustration only. As with all tax and estate planning, please consult your attorney or estate specialist. You may also contact a member of the Professional Advisory Council. All material is copyrighted and is for viewing purposes only. Use of this site signifies your agreement with the terms of use. The content in this Legacy Giving section has been developed for McLeod Health Foundation and is owned by Future Focus. Please report any problems to section webmaster.