December 29, 2018

Sid and the Christmas Tree

Husky-Malamute Mix Sid


Our goofy, loving big boy and Faithful Canine Companion has enjoyed the Christmas Tree this year.  And not even 1 ornament knocked down by his large frame and wagging tail!  😊

I kinda think Sid is going to be a bit disappointed when we take the Christmas tree down.  Don't you?


About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, employee benefits consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

December 26, 2018

Taxes: Take Care When Selecting A Tax Professional

As an Enrolled Agent licensed by the United States Department of the Treasury, I am allowed provide tax preparation, tax planning, and taxpayer representation services (for audits and other matters) to clients in all 50 states and US territories.

Tax Return Preparation


Did you know that when I sign a tax return I have prepared for a fee, I take legal responsibility for its accuracy?  That's true.  This is a professional responsibility I uphold with great care, which is one reason I place great emphasis on obtaining complete ... and accurate ... information from my tax clients.

"Tax Season" for me does not run from January through April, but rather year round.  For my tax clients - who generally have technical and complex tax concerns, including tax issues in multiple states - taxes are not simply a quick return, but rather a year round issue.

For tips on selecting a tax professional, visit this IRS publication "Ten Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer"

Tax Preparation Concerns?
IRS Audit Concerns?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, employee benefits consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

December 23, 2018

Miscellaneous Itemized Tax Deductions: All Deductions Eliminated Beginning January 1, 2018

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 included a significant change to the treatment of individual income tax miscellaneous itemized deductions.

As in all miscellaneous itemized deductions are eliminated.
Yep.  Every single one.


Individual Income Tax Preparation

Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions


Prior to 2018, taxpayers could deduct certain miscellaneous itemized deductions to the extent the deduction total exceeded 2% of the taxpayer's adjusted gross income.  These deductions included such things as:
  • Unreimbursed employee expenses,
  • Employment required uniform expenses,
  • Union dues,
  • Job hunting expenses,
  • Investment advisory fees, and 
  • Tax preparation and planning fees.

If you planned to deduct these expenses on your 2018 individual income tax return, you're out of luck.

Questions about individual income taxes?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, employee benefits consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

December 20, 2018

Indigenous Sami People - Yet Another Assault On Indigenous Peoples' Way of Life

Sami.


A group of about 140,000 Indigenous People that populate the northernmost regions of Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Russia.  As in above the Arctic Circle northern.  The Sami of Norway number about 50,000.  About 10% earn their living by raising and herding reindeer as Sami ancestors did centuries ago.  When the reindeer are harvested, every part of the reindeer is harvested and used:  meat, hide, and antlers.

Norwegian Sami Jovsset Ante Sara feeding his reindeer.
Photo credit:  nytimes.com

As with many Indigenous People, the Sami have been cruelly treated at times throughout history.  According to a recent article in the New York Times, (read it here):
"The Sami were colonized by Christian missionaries, forced to abandon their shamanistic ways and assimilate. Grim tales of Sami children being sent to boarding schools and studied by anthropologists in dehumanizing ways remain a stain on the history of the Nordic nations."
And human rights abuses against the Norwegian Sam continue today.

The latest issue jeopardizing the Sami's way of life?  The Norwegian government wants to effectively end the Sami's reindeer herding, by forcing reductions in herd sizes that would effectively make the Sami's ancestral lifestyle economically unfeasible.

Reason?  The Norwegian government has concerns that the land is being 'overgrazed' by the reindeer herds.  With no additional explanation.

That's just plain crazy thinking.  Overgrazing land the sits above the Arctic Circle?

As shown by the photos and video on the New York Time's article, the reindeer are clearly healthy and well taken care of.  For the Norwegian government to attempt to wipe out a centuries old way of life for the Sami is yet another black eye on the world's centuries old cruel treatment of many Indigenous People.  

Cruel and inhuman treatment that sadly continues today.  And which is wrong on so many levels.  Plain wrong.

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, employee benefit plan consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

December 17, 2018

Personal Casualty and Theft Loss Tax Deduction: Significant Change Beginning January 1, 2018

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 included a significant change to the tax deductibility of personal casualty and theft losses.  If you incurred such losses in 2018, and planned on deducting losses on your individual income tax return, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Individual Income Tax Preparation

Personal Casualty and Theft Loss Tax Deduction


Prior to 2018, with certain limitations, significant personal casualty and theft losses could be treated as an itemized deduction on individual income tax returns.  A casualty loss is a loss due to a sudden unexpected and unusual event such as a fire or flood.  Progressive events such as termite damage and dry rot are not considered casualty losses.  Limitations included (1) the loss must not have been covered by insurance or other financial reimbursement, (2) the amount of loss must be greater than $100, and (3) the amount of loss must be larger than 10% of your adjusted gross income. 

Beginning January 1, 2018, new ... and very significant ... limitations came into law regarding the treatment of casualty and theft losses.  The prior limitations above still apply.  However, beginning January 1, 2018l, in order for this loss to be deductible, the loss must now occur in a federally declared disaster area.

Not in a federally declared disaster area?  You're screwed!

For instance, say your home sustains flood damage not covered by insurance, but the home does not reside in a federally declared disaster area.  You're out of luck, no casualty deduction.  Say you have jewelry stolen that is not covered by insurance, but the theft does not occur in a federally declared disaster area.  Once again, you're out of luck, no casualty deduction.

And one other thing ... If you take the standard deduction on your income tax return, a personal casualty and theft loss tax deduction is not available to you, regardless of the circumstances.

Nothing like kicking a person when the person is already down, huh?

Questions about individual income taxes?
Questions about casualty and theft losses?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

December 14, 2018

Martha Stewart's First Uber Ride: A Filthy Disaster

Uber.

Once again in the news last month.  And once again, not in a good way!

You see, Uber got some well-deserved negative publicity from none other than Martha Stewart, who was taking her very first Uber ride.  And from the tony Madison Avenue Flagship Tiffany Store, nonetheless.

Problem is, her first Uber was a no show.  The second Uber arrived but was difficult to see, as the driver parked a half block away, facing the wrong way down the street.

Martha Stewart's Filthy Uber Ride


And when Ms. Stewart got into the car, it was a filthy dirty mess, including partially used water bottles in the back seat.  Check out the video below.  That Uber car is DISGUSTING!


About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  Oh, and she has never taken an Uber ride.  For more information about Mary and her professional services visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

December 11, 2018

S Corporations May Want to Convert to C Corporations Due to Tax Law Changes

If you own a business organized as a pass-through S Corporation and are a high income individual income tax payer, you may want to consider converting your business to a C Corporation.

One reasons business owners structure their business as an S Corporation is to avoid the double taxation of C Corporation taxable income and individual taxable income.  However, beginning January 1, 2018, C Corporations pay a flat 21% federal corporate tax rate.  For S Corporation owners in a high personal income tax bracket, converting to a C Corporation and taking advantage of the lower 21% corporate tax rate may reduce your overall tax burden.  And perhaps significantly.

I welcome your call or email if you have questions about this important matter.

Corporate Tax Return Preparation and Planning

Questions about corporate taxes?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns, including corporations and corrporation shareholders.  For more information about Mary and her professional services visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

December 8, 2018

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!



Best wishes to all for a joyous Christmas and Happy New Year!

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information about Mary and her professional services visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

December 5, 2018

Sourdough Dinner Rolls: Delicious and Easy to Make!

I love sourdough baking with my 5-year old starter.  My husband Jim says there traces of bread dough on everything in the kitchen ... Don't believe him!  😉

Sourdough Dinner Rolls


One of my staple sourdough bakes is Homemade Sourdough Dinner Rolls.  Tender and flakey, and oh so delicious.  The rolls can be used as dinner rolls or a sandwich buns.  They freeze well, so I can always keep some on hand.

Want one?  Here is my latest bake:




About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  She is an avid Sourdough Baker, baking sourdough bread, rolls, cinnamon rolls, pizza, and cakes.  For more information about Mary and her professional services visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

December 2, 2018

Corporation With A Fiscal Tax Year? You Have A Corporate Tax Return Headache This Year


If you own a business organized as a corporation with a fiscal tax year, you have a corporate tax return preparation headache this year.

How so?  Glad you asked!

For fiscal year corporate tax returns including dates in both 2017 and 2018,  you have 2 different sets of federal tax codes and corporate tax rates to consider when preparing your corporate tax return:  those before January 1, 2018, and those on and after January 1, 2018.  If the individual who prepared your corporate tax return did not accurately prepare the return using these 'blended' regulations and tax rates, you should prepare and file an amended corporate tax return.

Corporate Tax Return Preparation


Here's what the IRS has to say about this corporate tax headache in IRS Tax Tip  2018-173:

Last year’s tax reform legislation replaced the graduated corporate tax structure with a flat 21 percent corporate tax rate. This new maximum tax rate for corporations is effective for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017.

A corporation with a fiscal year that includes Jan. 1, 2018, will pay federal income tax using what is called a blended tax rate. They will not use the flat 21 percent tax rate for their entire fiscal year. To calculate their blended tax rate, these corporations will:
  • First calculate their tax for the entire taxable year using the tax rates that were in effect prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
     
  • Then calculate their tax using the new 21 percent rate.
  • Proportion each tax amount based on the number of days in the taxable year when the different rates were in effect. 
  • Take the sum of these two amounts, which is the corporation’s federal income tax for the fiscal year.
The blended rate applies to all fiscal year corporations whose fiscal year includes Jan. 1, 2018.

I welcome your phone call or email if you have questions about this important matter.

Tax Concerns?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information about Mary and her professional services visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts