Following the discussions about President Trump's 2005 tax returns on Rachel Maddow's show last night, many are scratching their heads and wondering what the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) is. Here is a brief explanation.
I know you've seen headlines and ads claiming that you can completely avoid a tax audit by following certain advice. If you're hoping to learn how to completely avoid a tax audit, lean in and I'll tell you a secret: you can't. No one can promise you that you will never be audited. That's because while most tax audits are targeted (more on that in a moment), a percentage – granted, a tiny percentage – of audits are random.
The most frequent question tax advisors hear from taxpayers is 'What's my tax bracket?' The answer is, 'It depends.' It is not as simple, straight forward, and even understandable as it used to be.
For years too much emphasis was placed on taxation in estate planning. Not that tax savings is not important, but it became the issue, rather than keeping the focus on the REAL issue which is family dynamics. Even we can get this wrong. When I ask a client, "what is your primary goal," they will sometimes respond "to pay as little tax as possible", to which I respond, "no problem, I can eliminate your tax burden completely. We will just leave everything to charity." After a brief silence followed by the client laughing, we see the truth: who I want to leave it to and how is the primary issue, and THEN doing what I want to do in a tax efficient manner becomes second.
With income tax season well underway, college students and their families should brush up on available tax benefits that can help lower their education costs.
In a recent post, I covered what can happen when a parent does not talk about their estate plan with their family. Today, I am going to follow up on the topic, providing ways to communicate about estate plans while still maintaining privacy.
Virtually all parents believe that they should discuss financial matters with their children, but according to a past survey conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education, 69 percent of the respondents felt they had barriers to open communication. I cannot readily cite statistics about other topics families struggle to discuss -- judging by nightly TV programming, however, it appears to me that money is the only topic that is off limits. Apparently, open conversations about all things make for a closer family and well-adjusted children.
In 1983, Congress passed a series of amendments that led to the taxation of up to 50 percent of Social Security benefits, and in 1993, a second tier was added that taxed 85 percent of the benefits. Today, single retirees with provisional income above $25,000 and couples with provisional income above $32,000 will be required to make a special tax calculation for the Social Security benefits they received. In short, the term provisional income is a special phrase used for the purpose of defining the tax on Social Security benefits. The additional income tax generated by these amendments goes directly back into the Social Security fund. At the time of the amendments, the thought was that retirees generating this level of income could afford to lose a little bit of their Social Security benefits to income taxes.
In this post, we would like to highlight the media exposure of our executives at Spectrum Management Group, who are often called on by the press to lend their knowledge and expertise to current financial news. In recent months, Managing Principals Bob Phillips and Leslie Thompson have been featured in some of the nation's top print publications, from The Wall Street Journal to Money magazine.
Recently, a few of our clients have asked about how to ensure that digital assets are included in their transfer of wealth to heirs. Considering this was becoming a trend among some clients, we wanted to highlight the issue on our blog.