Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

You still have time to make 2017 IRA contributions

Tax-advantaged retirement plans like IRAs allow your money to grow tax-deferred — or, in the case of Roth accounts, tax-free. The deadline for 2017 contributions is April 17, 2018. Deductible contributions will lower your 2017 tax bill, but even nondeductible contributions can be beneficial.

Don’t lose the opportunity

The 2017 limit for total contributions to all IRAs generally is $5,500 ($6,500 if you were age 50 or older on December 31, 2017). But any unused limit can’t be carried forward to make larger contributions in future years.

This means that, once the contribution deadline has passed, the tax-advantaged savings opportunity is lost forever. So to maximize your potential for tax-deferred or tax-free savings, it’s a good idea to use up as much of your annual limit as possible.

3 types of contributions

If you haven’t already maxed out your 2017 IRA contribution limit, consider making one of these types of contributions by April 17:

1. Deductible traditional. With traditional IRAs, account growth is tax-deferred and distributions are subject to income tax. If you and your spouse don’t participate in an employer-sponsored plan such as a 401(k), the contribution is fully deductible on your 2017 tax return. If you or your spouse does participate in an employer-sponsored plan, your deduction is subject to a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) phaseout:

  • For married taxpayers filing jointly, the phase-out range is specific to each spouse based on whether he or she is a participant in an employer-sponsored plan:
    • For a spouse who participates: $99,000–$119,000.
    • For a spouse who doesn’t participate: $186,000–$196,000.
  • For single and head-of-household taxpayers participating in an employer-sponsored plan: $62,000–$72,000.

Taxpayers with MAGIs within the applicable range can deduct a partial contribution; those with MAGIs exceeding the applicable range can’t deduct any IRA contribution.

2. Roth. With Roth IRAs, contributions aren’t deductible, but qualified distributions — including growth — are tax-free. Your ability to contribute, however, is subject to a MAGI-based phaseout:

  • For married taxpayers filing jointly: $186,000–$196,000.
  • For single and head-of-household taxpayers: $118,000–$133,000.

You can make a partial contribution if your MAGI falls within the applicable range, but no contribution if it exceeds the top of the range.

3. Nondeductible traditional. If your income is too high for you to fully benefit from a deductible traditional or a Roth contribution, you may benefit from a nondeductible contribution to a traditional IRA. The account can still grow tax-deferred, and when you take qualified distributions you’ll be taxed only on the growth.

Alternatively, shortly after contributing, you may be able to convert the account to a Roth IRA with minimal tax liability.

Maximize your tax-advantaged savings

Traditional and Roth IRAs provide a powerful way to save for retirement on a tax-advantaged basis. Contact us to learn more about making 2017 contributions and making the most of IRAs in 2018 and beyond.

© 2018

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

With Tax Season in Full Swing, It’s Time to Recognize Some Hard Earned Promotions!

Congratulations to the following M&J employees and their new titles. We appreciate your hard work and dedication to this firm, and would not be as successful without all of you!

Atlanta
Brenden Adams to Manager
Ben Peterson to Senior
Derek Foster to Senior
Albany
Blair Blackburn to Senior
Cam Tompkins to Senior
Macon
Kirk Arich to Manager
Birmingham
Jamie Cash to Supervisor
Kevin Niethammer to Staff II
Chattanooga 
Chris Policastro to Senior
Columbia
Sarah Landry to Senior

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

Tommye Barie at USC’s BAP Panel Discussion

Former AICPA Chair and Bradenton Partner, Tommye Barie, did an excellent job representing MJ at the University of South Carolina Beta Alpha Psi Panel Discussion on Tuesday, March 27th.

The topic of discussion was “Data Analytics.”  Each person on the panel provided a background of their experience and job roles and how Data Analytics is utilized in their business. Tommye provided a viewpoint from the AICPA.

The students were able to ask the experts questions at the end of the presentation.

Great job Tommye!

2nd from the right: Tommye Barie

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

Mature nonprofits face changing priorities

Successful not-for-profits typically proceed along a standard life cycle. Their early stage precedes a growth period that runs several years, followed by maturity. At this stage, the nonprofit has built its core programs and achieved a reputation in the community. But no organization can afford to rest on its laurels.

Where you are

Mature organizations generally are adept at maintaining adequate operating reserves and sufficient cash on hand to support daily operations. Your nonprofit also may already have initiated a planned giving program and endowment.

Many mature organizations experience greater program and operational coordination and more formal planning and communications. But they’re also more vulnerable to “mission drift.” This happens when a nonprofit begins to make compromises to generate funds rather than stick to its founding objectives and values.

Alliances with other organizations are common at this stage. Such affiliations can extend your impact and increase your financial stability. Alliances also can help reinforce your mission focus and prevent your nonprofit from getting too bogged down by policy and procedures. If you lead a mature nonprofit, you should set your sights toward sustainability.

Your board’s role

Another way to increase fiscal strength is to add members to your board. A mature nonprofit’s brand identity may enable it to attract wealthier and more prestigious board members. Ideally, these members will have more to offer than simply money, such as valuable connections or expertise in a certain area.

As your executive director and staff concentrate on operations, your board should take an even greater leadership role by setting direction and strategic policy. The board may become more conservative, though. (Younger nonprofits tend to have more entrepreneurial, risk-taking board members.)

Program considerations

When it comes to programming, your mature nonprofit needs to be wary of complacency. Regularly review your programming for relevance and effectiveness and make sure your strategic plan both focuses on the long-term and outlines new opportunities. Surveys can help ensure that you’re meeting your constituents’ needs and interests, which often change over time.

For more ideas about maintaining your mature nonprofit’s financial health, contact us.

© 2018

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Clay Shoot Champs!

M&J was proud to sponsor and participate in the Community Bankers Association of GA Semi-Annual Clay Shoot last week. The guys enjoyed stepping outdoors for the day at the Wynfield Plantation in Albany, GA. The beautiful day even inspired a big WIN for our team! Wouldn’t want to rob a bank with these sharpshooters around! From Left to Right: Michael Lott (Douglas National Bank), Rob Douglas (M&J), Jonathon Guthrie (The Peoples Bank) and Thomas Bennett (Pineland Bank).

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Can you claim your elderly parent as a dependent on your tax return?

Perhaps. It depends on several factors, such as your parent’s income and how much financial support you provided. If you qualify for the adult-dependent exemption on your 2017 income tax return, you can deduct up to $4,050 per qualifying adult dependent. However, for 2018, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the dependency exemption is eliminated.

Income and support

For you to qualify for the adult-dependent exemption, in most cases your parent must have less gross income for the tax year than the exemption amount. (Exceptions may apply if your parent is permanently and totally disabled.) Generally Social Security is excluded, but payments from dividends, interest and retirement plans are included.

In addition, you must have contributed more than 50% of your parent’s financial support. If you shared caregiving duties with a sibling and your combined support exceeded 50%, the exemption can be claimed even though no one individually provided more than 50%. However, only one of you can claim the exemption.

Keep in mind that, even though Social Security payments can usually be excluded from the adult dependent’s income, they can still affect your ability to qualify. Why? If your parent is using Social Security money to pay for medicine or other expenses, you may find that you aren’t meeting the 50% test.

Housing

Don’t forget about your home. If your parent lived with you, the amount of support you claim under the 50% test can include the fair market rental value of part of your residence.

If the parent lived elsewhere — in his or her own residence or in an assisted-living facility or nursing home — any amount of financial support you contributed to that housing expense counts toward the 50% test.

Other savings opportunities

Sometimes caregivers fall just short of qualifying for the exemption. Should this happen, you may still be able to claim an itemized deduction for the medical expenses that you pay for the parent. To receive a tax benefit on your 2017 (or 2018) return, you must itemize deductions and the combined medical expenses paid for you, your dependents and your parent for the year must exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

The adult-dependent exemption is just one tax break that you may be able to employ to ease the financial burden of caring for an elderly parent. For 2018 through 2025, while the exemption is suspended, you might be eligible for a $500 “family” tax credit for your adult dependent. We’d be happy to provide additional information. Contact us to learn more.

© 2018

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

Congratulations to the CPA Exam Vanquishers!

What a relief to finally be done studying for those exams! We are thrilled for Paul Stuart, Ali Carter and Paul Moran for passing all 4 exams. Time to CELEBRATE!!!

 

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

Make telecommuting work for your nonprofit

Like their for-profit counterparts, not-for-profits are increasingly allowing employees to telecommute. Done right, work-at-home arrangements, either full time or on an occasional basis, can pay off for both employers and employees. But you’ll need to be proactive to avoid some pitfalls.

Bevy of benefits

Primary among the advantages of telecommuting is cost containment. An employee who doesn’t need to go into the office spends less money on things like commuting, work clothes, dry cleaning or going out to lunch. And the organization might be able to downsize its space needs, resulting in rent and other overhead savings.

Your organization is also likely to enjoy reduced recruiting expenses by landing top candidates regardless of where they live — and retaining them. Productivity may climb, too. Some employers worry about telecommuters slacking off. But research has suggested the opposite is true and that these workers put in more hours per week than their office-based counterparts.

Essential considerations

Effective telecommuting arrangements require careful planning and management. Tackle these issues first:

Policy. Develop policies with a team of human resources staff, managers and employees. You’ll need your telecommuting policy to address — among other things — eligibility, home office requirements, training, communication, work hours, performance evaluations, and technology security. Employees approved for telecommuting should sign an agreement acknowledging the policy and expectations.

Communications. Both managers and employees must be proactive in their communications. You might find it helpful to establish standards for how promptly staffers should respond to email, the times when managers or employees will be available and similar matters. And because employees who aren’t in the office can sometimes miss out on information that spreads through the workplace, managers should schedule regular one-on-ones.

Fairness. Resentment can develop if workers in the office question whether their telecommuting colleagues are truly pulling their weight. It’s not unusual for an “us vs. them” mentality to develop. Managers can keep a lid on ill will by using team meetings to publicly praise both telecommuters and in-office employees and explicitly acknowledge their contributions to the organization.

Get advice

When first dipping your toes in the telecommuting waters, you’d be wise to seek legal advice. Telecommuting puts a twist on a range of compliance, from confidentiality to wage and hour laws, and raises critical questions related to use of company property. Contact us for more information.

© 2018

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Home-related tax breaks are valuable on 2017 returns, will be less so for 2018

Home ownership is a key element of the American dream for many, and the U.S. tax code includes many tax breaks that help support this dream. If you own a home, you may be eligible for several valuable breaks when you file your 2017 return. But under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, your home-related breaks may not be as valuable when you file your 2018 return next year.

2017 vs. 2018

Here’s a look at various home-related tax breaks for 2017 vs. 2018:

Property tax deduction. For 2017, property tax is generally fully deductible — unless you’re subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT). For 2018, your total deduction for all state and local taxes, including both property taxes and either income taxes or sales taxes, is capped at $10,000.

Mortgage interest deduction. For 2017, you generally can deduct interest on up to a combined total of $1 million of mortgage debt incurred to purchase, build or improve your principal residence and a second residence. However, for 2018, if the mortgage debt was incurred on or after December 15, 2017, the debt limit generally is $750,000.

Home equity debt interest deduction. For 2017, interest on home equity debt used for any purpose (debt limit of $100,000) may be deductible. (If home equity debt isn’t used for home improvements, the interest isn’t deductible for AMT purposes). For 2018, the TCJA suspends the home equity interest deduction. But the IRS has clarified that such interest generally still will be deductible if used for home improvements.

Mortgage insurance premium deduction. This break expired December 31, 2017, but Congress might extend it.

Home office deduction. For 2017, if your home office use meets certain tests, you may be able to deduct associated expenses or use a simplified method for claiming the deduction. Employees claim this as a miscellaneous itemized deduction, which means there will be tax savings only to the extent that the home office deduction plus other miscellaneous itemized deductions exceeds 2% of adjusted gross income. The self-employed can deduct home office expenses from self-employment income. For 2018, miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2% floor are suspended, so only the self-employed can deduct home office expenses.

Home sale gain exclusion. When you sell your principal residence, you can exclude up to $250,000 ($500,000 for married couples filing jointly) of gain if you meet certain tests. Changes to this break had been proposed, but they weren’t included in the final TCJA that was signed into law.

Debt forgiveness exclusion. This break for homeowners who received debt forgiveness in a foreclosure, short sale or mortgage workout for a principal residence expired December 31, 2017, but Congress might extend it.

Additional rules and limits apply to these breaks. To learn more, contact us. We can help you determine which home-related breaks you’re eligible to claim on your 2017 return and how your 2018 tax situation may be affected by the TCJA.

© 2018

Friday, March 16th, 2018

Steve Parent & Melodie Rich Featured on WWSB MySuncoast ABC 7 News

Bradenton Partners Steve Parent and Melodie Rich were featured on WWSB MySuncoast ABC 7 News, providing their tax tips to help protect, save and grow your money.  Click here for a link to the article and press play for the video.

Great job Steve and Melodie!