blog, John J. Bowman Jr Accountant, John J. Bowman Jr. Accountant, personal finance, tax

What to Know About Taxes and Retirement Income

Taxes are one of the most important things to consider when saving for retirement. The way you are taxed depends on the instruments you’re using to save. Sometimes, savers are taxed at the time they put money away. At other times, their contributions are tax-free, but taxes are scheduled to be collected when they’re distributed down the line. It’s important for people to understand a little about how this all works. It can prevent unpleasant surprises in the future.

Former federal employees will find that their FERS annuity is taxed like regular income at the federal level. Depending on the state, it can be taxed at that level, too. Over 80% of retirees’ Social Security payments are also taxable as ordinary income. People can elect to have taxes withheld from their payments, but that doesn’t happen automatically. If not, they will have to pay at tax time. People should make this decision carefully, ideally after talking with a financial advisor.

Retirement accounts that people may contribute to taking different approaches to taxes. With a Roth IRA, account holders pay taxes upfront, when they make deposits. Later, their withdrawals in retirement are tax-free. This is essentially the opposite of a traditional IRA. Contributions are tax-advantage, but distributions are taxed later on. Some people maintain both types of accounts, in order to reap the tax advantages on both ends.

401(k) and 403(b) are popular retirement plans that are offered by employers to their workers. 401(k)s are generally available from for-profit companies, and 403(b)s from charities and religious organizations. These plans offer tax benefits upfront. Employers take money from each paycheck on a pre-tax basis and place it in a plan where the money grows for the account holder. Generally, 401(k) distributions are taxed as normal income. There are Roth 401(k) accounts available, and contributions to those are taxed.

Retirement planning is complicated. It’s important that every worker keeps one eye on the future and considers what they want their retirement years to look at. Being more aggressive, and taking advantage of some Roth-style accounts, can be a good idea for many American workers. Speaking with a financial advisor about these decisions can be prudent.

This article was originally published on JBowmanAccountant.org

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John J. Bowman Jr. Accountant, personal finance, tax, Uncategorized

Preparing for Tax Season

Tax season can be a stressful, but rewarding time, depending on your work and financial situation.  With tax time right around the corner, you’re probably anticipating receiving your W-2 from your employer in the mail, and any other necessary documents, within the next few weeks.  Today, your taxes can be managed in numerous ways from a personal accountant, a nationwide accounting service, or even, an app on your phone that doesn’t require a visit to an office; the way you choose to have your taxes done is really based on your personal preference.  One thing, however, that everyone has in common regardless of how your taxes are done, is how you should prepare for tax time to make it easy on yourself, or your tax professional. Here are a few key ways to better prepare for tax time:

Figure Out Your Preference

As previously mentioned, today, your taxes can be done in various ways.  The first step to preparing for tax time, is figuring out how, and who, you want to do your taxes.  Do you plan on doing them yourself? Or would you prefer to have them done by an accountant or a tax-preparation service?  Keep a few things in mind. If you plan to do them yourself, you want to make sure you have all of the right information and know about the deductions that you’re entitled to.  If you plan on hiring an accountant or tax-preparation service, make sure you do the necessary research so you know who you’re working with.

Get Your Forms in Order

Everyone has a different financial situation, and there are multiple tax forms one will need depending on their situation.  To get yourself best prepared, figure out which forms are necessary for you during tax time, and get them in order. If you’re unsure, you can always take a look at the IRS website or consult a professional you may know.  

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This article was originally published on jbowmanaccountant.info 

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personal finance

Tax Breaks for First-Time Home Buyers

Buying your first home is an expensive endeavor. Yet there are a number of tax credits that first-time homebuyers can take advantage of. Sometimes congress changes the available tax breaks or adjusts certain aspects of the law. Therefore, you should keep an eye on the tax law when you get ready to file your taxes. Below are some of the most popular tax credits for first-time homebuyers.

Points Deduction

If you paid points when getting your mortgage, you may be eligible for a deduction. In order to take advantage of this deduction, your settlement contract has to make reference to the points. Plus you will have to itemize when filing your taxes instead of using the standard deduction.

Property Tax Deductions

Property taxes can be deducted when you itemize on your tax return. First-time homebuyers should definitely take advantage of this deduction, but it’s not limited to first-time homebuyers. In order to claim this deduction, the property should be your main residence or a vacation home—not a business property.

Mortgage Interest Credit

Claiming a mortgage interest credit can lower the amount of taxes you owe. If you want to take advantage of this credit, you have to make sure you received a Mortgage Credit Certificate. The certificate is usually sent to you by your local government when you first receive your mortgage, and it lists how much interest the credit is worth. If you take advantage of the mortgage interest credit and the mortgage interest deduction, the credit will be reduced based on how much of a deduction you claim.

Mortgage Interest Deduction

A home mortgage interest deduction is one of the most popular tax credits for new homeowners. When it comes time to file your taxes, the bank or loan provider will mail you a tax form called Form 1098. The form details how much you paid in interest for the previous tax year. New homeowners should definitely take advantage of this deduction since mortgage payments have a higher percentage of interest than principal in the beginning. Keep in mind that in order to deduct home mortgage interest, you will have to itemize. For many homeowners, itemized deductions can add up to be larger than the standard deduction.

IRA Withdrawals

Typically when you make withdrawals from your IRA before you are 59 ½ years old you face a 10% penalty. However, when you use the withdrawals for a home purchase this penalty can be waived. The caveat is that you cannot withdraw more than $10,000.

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personal finance

Learn More About These 5 Popular Tax Credits

There are a number of tax credits that you need to be aware of in order to be able to retain more of your income in spite of paying taxes. Such tax credits exist mainly for middle and low-income people and help you to keep most of your annual income from going into paying excessive taxes.

When you are able to identify tax credits that apply to you in particular, then the process of filing taxes at the end of the financial year is likely to become a whole lot easier than usual.

Earned Income Tax Credit

The first credit to consider is the Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC which was established in 1975. It is phased in accordance with filing status and is based on investment income, earned income, and gross income. In order to qualify for this tax credit, you need to be younger than sixty-five years and older than twenty-five years. Learn more here.

American Opportunity Tax Credit

The American Opportunity Tax Credit has been designed to help meet the expenses associated with higher education. The full credit will be available to you if your annual gross income is $80,000 or $160,000 if you have a partner.

Lifetime Learning Credit

The Lifetime Learning Credit is meant to meet expenses that are commonly associated with post-secondary education. It is not just applicable for the first four years of secondary education but rather any stage of post-secondary education. The credit is also made available to you even if you are just pursuing a certification and not a degree.

Child and Dependent Care Credit

As the name suggests, this is a tax credit that applies to you if you are a parent and wish to defray costs associated with daycare or babysitting. You can use this credit if you are a single parent who has a dependent child who is under 13 years of age and you need to be away to look for work or be at work.

Savers Tax Credit

If you are a retired professional then this tax credit applies to you. If you make a contribution to retirement plans in the course of your professional life, then you can also use this tax credit quite easily.

By keeping the above tax credit options in mind, you will be able to save quite a bit in taxes and retain more of your hard earned income.

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