Tag Archive for Barry Fowler

When Disaster Strikes, Scam Artists Go To Work

Barry Fowler

If the mass murder in Orlando last month was not tragic enough, another group of criminals are now reaching out to make an unthinkable situation even more heinous.

If you are considering donating money to a charitable organization to help the families of the Orlando Pulse victims, think twice before you give. There will be scam artists calling and reaching out in a variety of ways looking to take advantage of the heartbroken people around the country who want to help in some way.

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FICO Score—Becoming And Remaining Credit Worthy

Barry Fowler

Being credit worthy is a big deal in our society. While there are host of important numbers in your financial world, few are as critical as your credit score.

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It’s Time For Year-End Tax Planning

For the past few years, year-end tax planning has been challenging due to the lateness of action by Congress. This year is no different because of uncertainty over whether Congress will extend any of the many expired or expiring tax provisions. However, regardless of what Congress does later this year, solid tax savings can still be realized by taking advantage of tax breaks that are still on the books for 2015. For individuals and small businesses, these include:

• Capital Gains and Losses – You can employ several strategies to suit your particular tax circumstances. If your income is low this year and your tax bracket is 15% or lower, you can take advantage of the zero percent capital gains bracket benefit, resulting in no tax for part or all of your long-term gains. Others, affected by the market downturn earlier this year, should review their portfolio with an eye to offsetting gains Read more

Tax Benefits of A Home Solar Power System

If you are considering installing a solar electric system or solar hot water system for your home, there are tax issues you should consider when making your decision.

First of all, there is a very lucrative non-refundable federal tax credit for 30% of the cost of the system with no maximum. So for example, if the solar electric system cost you $20,000, your tax credit would be $6,000. A non-refundable tax credit offsets your tax liability, regular and alternative minimum, dollar for dollar, and any excess is added to any credit allowable in the subsequent year. For example, if your 2015 credit was $6,000 and your 2015 tax liability was $4,000, then $4,000 of the credit would go to pay off your 2015 tax liability and the remaining $2,000 would be added to your 2016 solar credit, if any, and used to reduce your 2016 tax liability. This credit, unless it is extended by Congress, will expire after 2016. Read more

Don’t Be Scammed By Fake Charities

As the end of the year approaches, you will probably be besieged by requests from charitable organizations for contributions. The holiday season is the favorite time of the year for charities to solicit donations.

But you should be aware that it is also the time of year when scammers show up in force, pretending to be legitimate charities in hopes of deceiving you into giving them your hard-earned money.

When making a donation, you should take a few extra minutes to ensure your gifts are going to legitimate charities. has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, which allows people to find legitimate, qualified charities to which donations may be tax-deductible. Read more

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Are Valuable Tools for Small Business Owners

If you’re a small business owner, then you know that gauging the performance of your business is one of the most difficult tasks you face. The indicators and measures that you work with on a day-to-day level are not necessarily reflected in the criteria and metrics that are provided on paper, and it’s hard to know what to trust and which information is best to use. It is essential that business owners have a reliable, understandable way to tell whether things are going well or need improvement, and that’s why using and understanding your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is so vitally important.

The value of Key Performance Indicators cannot be overstated. They are objective, black and white measures of all of your business processes and performance, and provide you with a clear and straightforward way of seeing what is working and what needs more Read more

October 15 – Last Chance to Take Advantage of Retroactive Business Expensing

If you are a small business owner, October 15, 2015, is your last chance to retroactively adopt the new tangible property regulations that took effect in 2014.

Why is adopting these new regulations important? They give you the opportunity to expense items that you had capitalized (depreciated) in years for which the three-year statute of limitations has not yet expired. As an example, say you are a landlord, and you replaced the roof on your rental at a cost $6,000 in 2012. Prior to the new regulations, that expense would have been treated as a capital expense, and you would have had to depreciate it (deduct it slowly), over 27½ or 39 years. However, under the new regulations, the expense of replacing the roofing membrane is fully deductible in the year the cost was incurred. Read more

October 15 Extension Due Date Rapidly Approaching

If you could not complete your 2014 tax return by the normal April filing due date, and are now on extension, that extension expires on October 15, 2015, and there are no additional extensions. Failure to file before the extension period runs out can subject you to late-filing penalties.

There are no additional extensions, so if you still do not or will not have all of the information needed to complete your return by the extended due date, please call the office so that we can explore your options for meeting your October 15 filing deadline.

If you are waiting for a K-1 from a partnership, S-corporation, or fiduciary return, the extended deadline for those returns was September 15. So, if you have not received that Read more

Sole Proprietorship – Is The Risk Worth It?

If you are considering starting a business, the simplest and least expensive form of business is a sole proprietorship. A sole proprietorship is a one-person business that reports its income directly on the individual’s personal tax return (Form 1040) using a Schedule C. There is no need to file a separate tax return as is required by a partnership or corporation (if the business is set up as an LLC with just one member, filing is still done on Schedule C, although an LLC return may also be required by the state). Generally, there are very few bureaucratic hoops to jump through to get started.

However, we strongly recommend that you open a checking account that is used solely for depositing business income and paying business expenses. You will also need to check and see if there is a need to register for a local government business license and permit Read more

Is The IRS Withholding Some or All of Your Refund?

If the IRS kept all or a portion of the federal refund you were expecting, it may be because you owe money for certain delinquent debts. If that is true, the IRS or the Department of Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS), which issues IRS tax refunds, can offset or reduce your federal tax refund or withhold the entire amount to satisfy the debt.

Here are some important facts you should know about tax refund offsets:

1. If you owe federal or state income taxes your refund will be offset to pay those tax liabilities. If you had other debt such as child support or student loan debt that was submitted for offset, BFS will take as much of your refund as is needed to pay off the debt, and send it to the agency authorized to collect the debt. Any portion of your refund Read more

Family Courts Don’t Always Pay Attention to Federal Tax Law

All too often, family law courts make rulings that are contradictory to federal tax law, causing confusion and inequity in divorce actions since family court rulings cannot trump federal tax law.

An issue for divorced parents is who gets to claim the children for tax purposes. Federal tax law provides that the parent with physical custody claims the child unless that parent releases the exemption to the other parent. Frequently, family courts award physical custody to one parent and the tax exemption to the other. To make matters worse, the courts assume that the exemption deduction will provide a financial benefit to the non-custodial parent. Then the court adjusts child support accordingly, leaving the non-custodial parent with two unpleasant surprises when filing his or her tax return: the Read more

Gifting Money or Property Can Have Serious Tax Consequences

Gift and inheritance taxes were created long ago to prevent an individual’s assets from being passed on to future generations free of tax. Congress has frequently tinkered with these taxes, and currently the gift and inheritance taxes are unified with a top tax rate of 40%. However, the law does provide the following two exclusions from the tax:

Lifetime exclusion – For 2015, $5.43 million per person is excluded from gift and inheritance tax. This amount is annually adjusted for inflation and applies separately to each spouse of a married couple. Where one of the couple dies and does not use the entire exclusion amount, the unused portion of the exclusion can be passed on to the surviving spouse by filing an estate tax return for the decedent, even if one is otherwise not required. Read more