January 16, 2013 – Wednesday, 1-2pm EST - Speaker Andrew
Are you unsure
what expenses you can deduct from your moonlighting income? Not sure what to
track all year for professional expenses? Do you want to make sure you receive
the maximum deduction allowed for work-related expenses? If so, this webinar is
for you! Learn what the most common expenses allowable for healthcare
professionals are and how to track them to make tax time easy!
January 23, 2013
– Wednesday, 1-2pm EST - Speaker Richard Schwartz, CPA
Are you looking for a recap of the 2013 tax law changes and how they’ll
impact you? Do you need help navigating your retirement planning options for
2013? If so, this webinar is for you! Learn what tax changes are coming in
2013 to capital gains, deductions, personal tax rates, Medicare and Social
Security. Rick will also cover how to choose the retirement vehicles that
will bring you the most savings.
There might be a lot of
uncertainty surrounding the tax rules these days. Don't use that
uncertainty as an excuse to avoid trying to improve your personal finances.
What better time to make some resolutions for 2013 than New Year's Day?
Last January 1st, did
you make any resolutions concerning your personal finances? If so, how'd
you do? Did you attain your financial goals, or was 2012 a total financial washout?
The good news about New Year's resolutions is that you get to make new
ones each year. Below are some New Year's resolutions to improve
Pay Some Extra Principal With Your Mortgage Payment
Looking for a risk-free return on your money? By paying extra toward
your mortgage each month, you'll get a risk-free return on that money equal to your
mortgage interest rate. Plus, you'll cut down on the number of years it
will take to pay off your mortgage. As a rule of thumb, try to pay extra
principal each month equal to at least 10% of your total mortgage payment.
If You Don't Own A Home, Try to Qualify For the Home
If you're a renter, the rent you pay generally isn't deductible on your
federal tax return. By claiming the
home office deduction, you make a
portion of your rent tax deductible. To qualify, you
need to use a portion of your home regularly and exclusively in connection
with your trade or business. Using your office for managerial and
administrative tasks qualifies. You'll claim the home office either
against your self-employment income on the
Schedule C or as a miscellaneous
itemized deduction on the
Save A Set Amount Of Money Each Month
Did you know that if you deposit $81.50 into your savings account each
month, the account would be worth $1,000 at the end of the year? To help
you reach your goal, make sure to transfer the money out of your checking
account into a separate savings or investment account. By doing so, it's
more difficult to spend the money that you have managed to save.
Download our (Microsoft Excel)
debt/savings calculator to calculate how much you need to set aside each
month to reach a certain savings goal.
Pay Down Those Credit Cards
If you owe money on your credit cards,
determine how much you can realistically afford to pay down during the year.
For best results, try not to charge additional purchases on those cards
while you're trying to pay down what you owe. Download our
calculator to calculate how much you need to pay each month to pay off a debt.
Maximize Your 401(k) & 403(b) Plan Contributions
At work, you probably have the opportunity to save for your retirement
through a 401(k) or 403(b) plan sponsored by your employer. The maximum
annual contribution for 2013 has increased to $17,500. And anyone who will
be 50 or older by December 31st can contribute an extra $5,500 this year.
Remember, amounts contributed to these plans reduce your taxable
compensation and grow tax deferred.
Unless you're already on track to contribute the maximum to your 401(k)
or 403(b) plan this year, now's the time to instruct your employer's benefit
department to increase the percentage of your salary going towards this
tax-advantaged retirement savings account.
And if you're self-employed, set up a solo 401(k) plan or a SEP IRA plan
as soon as possible, if you haven't already done so, and try to contribute to these plans systematically
over the year.
Contribute $5,500 to a Roth IRA
Roth IRAs are one of the few tax-free investments available to
individuals. This year, you can contribute up to $5,500 to your Roth IRA.
You won't get a tax deduction, but amounts contributed grow tax-free, as
long as certain conditions are met. Consider signing up with a mutual fund
company to have $458.33 automatically transferred from your checking account
into a Roth IRA each month.
Don't forget, if you're single and your adjusted gross income (AGI)
exceeds $127,000 or married and your AGI exceeds $188,000, you're not
eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA that year. If your income exceeds
the applicable threshold, you're still eligible to contribute to a
traditional IRA for that year. The amount contributed isn't tax
deductible if either you or your spouse is covered under a retirement plan
at work, but grows tax-deferred. You can also convert your IRAs to a
Roth IRA at any time under the current rules, no matter how high your income
Take Advantage of the
Tax-Free College Savings Opportunities
Money contributed to Education Savings Accounts (formerly Education
IRAs) and 529 Plans grow tax-free, as long as any money
withdrawn is used for tuition and certain other college expenses, or in the case of ESAs, for
private elementary school or high school as well. You can
contribute up to $2,000 per year per child into an ESA, and up to
$14,000 per year, or frontload $70,000 at one time, into a 529 Plan, subject to certain
restrictions. With tax rates on the rise, these tax-free
opportunities become even more attractive to most taxpayers.
Avoid Resolution Pollution
set so many financial goals that you'll end up attaining
none of them? If so, take this opportunity to restate
your financial resolutions for 2013.
HIGHER TAXES AS PART OF THE FISCAL CLIFF
Check out this
article included in Becker's Spine Review titled:
12 Steps for Spine Surgeons to Take Now Before Bush Tax Cuts Expire.
Andrew Schwartz CPA is quoted throughout the article. While many of
the strategies recommended in this article needed to be implemented prior to 12/31/12, it's still
important to understand the tax increases we are all facing until such time
that Congress and the President can enact tax legislation to address many of
the expiring tax breaks. We've written other articles on this topic as
well in the prior few months'
CPA and my wife is a CFP (Certified Financial
Planner). Even so, I think together we've done a
lousy job teaching our two kids - Jonathan (age
14) and Lizzie (age 13) - much about personal
finances. We have also done little to help them
learn anything about exercising fiscal
the years, we've toyed with monthly allowances and
paying our kids for doing their household
chores. The problem is that we have never
been consistent with doling out the promised $20
per month or
with enforcing the rules
they need to follow to even be eligible to
receive their allowance. So my
family's allowance system has evolved to
something like this:
Child: "Dad and/or Mom, I'm getting together
with friends. Can I have some money?"
Parent: "Sure thing, Jonathan and/or Lizzie.
Will $20 be sufficient?"
Well, as my kids continue to grow up, we have
reached the point where this conversation
happens pretty regularly. Our kids have no
incentive not to ask us for money, since
we have a track record of giving them money
whenever they ask. And they also don't
have an incentive to try to earn any money on
their own, since we have gladly been supporting
100% of their spending.
That's all about to change. Financial
responsibility for the Schwartz Clan, here we come. As a parent
of a teenager, you might be asking, "How will you
pull this off Andrew?"
For Christmas/Chanukah, we
gave each child a
Pass Card issued by American Express
These cards are only available to kids 13 or
According to American Express, "Pass is a
prepaid reloadable Card parents give to teens.
It's safer than cash, and unlike a debit or
credit card, teens can only spend what's
preloaded on the Card." For my two kids,
we loaded each card with $100, and then will
reload the card on the tenth of each month with
their $25 allowance.
Pass cardholders can spend money on the prepaid card pretty much
anywhere that takes credit cards. And
while parents do have the right to deny their
to cash from ATMs, we decided to set up the cards to allow
ATM withdrawals. We can change this
setting at any time, however. The first ATM transaction
each month is free for each kid, and then there is a charge
of $2 per withdrawal.
theory, when either kid spends all the money on
the card, they are out of money until they next
receive the $25 on the tenth of the month.
Here is where my wife and I will need to
exercise some parental
discipline and not
just dole out more spending money. Instead, we need to try
to use this opportunity to remind Jonathan or
Lizzie that if they want to spend more than $25
per month, they can always babysit, shovel snow
or rake leaves for our neighbors, work at my
office during tax season, or try to find another
job that hires 14 year-old kids (Lizzie will be
14 in the summer) to earn extra money .
Pass Card has a nifty web interface that allows
parents the opportunity to view balance and
purchase history online at any time, transfer
additional funds into the card, or tweak the
amount or frequency of the automatic reloads. Teens
will also be able to logon to the Pass website
under a separate login to monitor balances and activity.
Purchase Protection if an item
purchased with the Pass Card breaks within
Roadside Assistance if your child's
car won't start
Global Assist Services to provide
your child with emergency services while
hope the Pass Card works out well for my family
and helps my wife and I teach my kids a little
about personal finances and fiscal discipline.
Check back next fall or winter, and I'll
definitely give you an update on whether the Pass Card helped my
family make progress towards these two goals.
Establish a savings and debt reduction goals for the year
Try to increase your monthly contributions to your 401(k)
or 403(b) plans. The maximum annual contribution for
2013 is $17,500. Anyone 50 or older can contribute
an extra $5,500
Automatically transfer $458.33 per month from your checking account into a Roth or Traditional
IRA, and $1,166.67 per month into a 529 Account and/or $166.67 per month into an Education Savings Account for each
of your children
For 2012, the standard deduction for a single individual is $5,950 and
for a married couple is $11,900. A person will benefit by itemizing once
allowable deductions exceed the applicable standard deduction. Itemized
deductions include state and local income taxes (or sales taxes), real estate
taxes, mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and unreimbursed employee
For 2012, the personal exemption is $3,800.
Individuals will claim a personal deduction for themselves, their spouse, and
The maximum earnings subject tosocial security taxes is $113,700
for 2013, up from $110,100 for 2012.
The standard mileage rateis $.565 per business mile as of
January 1, 2012, up one cent from $.555 per mile since July 1, 2011.
The maximum annual salary deferral into a 401(k) plan or a
403(b) plan is $17,500 in 2013, up from $17,000 in 2012. And if you'll be 50 or
older by December 31st, you can contribute an extra $5,500 into your 401(k) or
403(b) account that year.
The maximum annual contribution to your IRA is $5,000 for 2012,
increasing to $5,500 in 2013. And if you turn 50 by December 31st, you can contribute an extra
$1,000 that year. You have until April 15, 2013 to make your 2012 IRA
In a shocking development, the IRS recently
announced that they will be honoring the FICA tax refunds submitted by
residency programs and individual doctors. The catch is that only FICA
taxes paid prior to 4/1/05 qualify.