Circle Roundup: Values, Goals, and Money

Liz Revenko / Aug 7, 2018 / Tax Planning / Women's Circles

By popular request, in our recent round of Women’s Circles, we discussed how values and goals influence money decisions. One of the big takeaways was that if you don’t consciously make decisions based on what’s important to you, your sub-conscious is going to be in charge of your wallet. And you might not like where that takes you. 

The good news is that we can take advantage of new research on how our brains work—starting with being aware that goal setting happens even if we don’t set conscious goals.

This article includes some actionable ways you can tap into what you care about to set goals and increase your financial satisfaction. We also have a free worksheet to help get you started.

First things first:

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Circle Roundup: It's... the Tax Code Show!

Liz Revenko / Apr 19, 2018 / Tax Planning / Women's Circles

Most people wouldn’t expect a discussion about taxes to be as riveting as a Game of Thrones marathon.

But then again, don’t you want to know what the recent changes in the tax code may have in store for your wallet beginning this year?

In our first-quarter Women's Circles series, aptly titled “The Tax Code Show,” we discussed a broad array of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of December 2017, so that participants could start to answer the big question: “How does this apply to me?”

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Over 70 & Charitably-Minded? Here's How to Leverage the TCJA

Geoff Zimmerman / Apr 11, 2018 / Tax Planning / Retirement Planning / Charitable Giving

If you are a charitably-minded investor who is  age 70½ or older, and you have money in individual retirement accounts (IRAs),  the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) may provide some worthwhile planning opportunities to cut your tax bill more so than in prior years. 

How can charitably-minded seniors leverage the TCJA? Let's walk through a few scenarios.

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Tax Reform and the Alternative Minimum Tax for Couples and Individuals

Geoff Zimmerman / Mar 14, 2018 / Tax Planning

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 has drastically altered the alternative minimum tax (AMT) landscape for 2018 and beyond.

The TCJA completely eliminated the AMT for corporations; while the AMT still exists under the TCJA for individuals and couples, several material changes affect middle and upper-middle class taxpayers, making it less likely for this population to be hit by the AMT. Despite this welcome change, certain taxpayers may end up with a larger tax bill under the new system.  Lastly, some high earners may still find advantages to falling in the “AMT sweet spot.”

Let’s take a closer look at what’s changed.

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How will the tax cuts impact your finances? Steps to consider now

Norm Boone / Dec 28, 2017 / Tax Planning

Well, they’ve finally done it.

The Republicans passed a major bill, in this case the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), without a single Democratic vote. Before explaining the key parts you should be aware of, let me just say that

a) I think there are more good parts than bad parts to this bill, and

b) it is a true shame any time the only way our democratic process works is when one party shoves a bill down the other party’s throat without any apparent attempt to find ways to work together.

So, what steps should you take now that the TCJA has been passed? What are your financial considerations, tax cuts and all? Let’s look at what the new tax legislation will change. 

Ive included some the key things you will want to consider doing before year end.

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Tax Considerations for Self-employed Consultants

Mary Ballin / Apr 11, 2017 / Tax Planning / Retirement Planning

Nearly 15 million Americans were self-employed in January 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Being a self-employed consultant means you can work for more than one company, direct your own work, balance your own books, manage your business and be responsible for all of your own business expensessuch as technology, transportation, office materials, and the likepretty much, the buck stops with you. You are the employee of the month. Every month.

Under these conditions, the IRS would consider you a self-employed independent contractor.

But before taking your well-honed list of contacts and embarking on a new career as a consultant, you’ll want to understand the tax implications involved. The differences between your tax obligations as an employee and as a self-employed consultant can be significant.

A little knowledge and preparation now can save you a big headache down the road. Let's look into what you need to know.

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Taxes: Ways to Prepare for the Marriage Penalty

Steve Branton / Mar 30, 2017 / Tax Planning

Henry and Sean had been living together for what seemed like forever to their friends—20 years and counting. They were partners long before Proposition 8, and they watched its saga unfold together. Now that civil marriage is an established right for same-sex couples, Henry and Sean have been discussing whether to take the big leap together.

Sean proposed, and Henry said yes. 

Although news of the engagement made their parents ecstatic (“Finally, some grandchildren!” was Sean’s mom’s reaction), some of their friends in the know were quick to point out a hiccup to making this change: the much misunderstood “marriage penalty.”

Under current law, a dual-income couple will likely pay more in taxes compared with two single people—especially if both are medium- to high-income earners. This is what is referred to as the marriage penalty. But it’s not always the case.

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Trusts: Maximize Charitable Giving While Minimizing Estate Taxes

Mosaic / Feb 7, 2017 / Estate Planning / Tax Planning / Charitable Giving

Charitable remainder trusts (CRTs) and charitable lead trusts (CLTs) are two popular types of split-interest trusts commonly used by individuals and families for managing taxes in an estate plan while simultaneously supporting charitable organizations. 

Interested in how trusts maximize charitable giving while minimizing estate taxes? This article describes the key characteristics and potential benefits of two these types of trusts—charitable lead trusts and charitable remainder trusts. 

 

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Lower Your Tax Bill with Year-End Tax Planning

Mosaic / Dec 13, 2016 / Tax Planning

The end of the year is drawing near. Your thoughts are probably monopolized by gift ideas that may top what you got for Dad last year, or how to survive an evening with in-laws, or planning what you’re doing for New Year’s Eve. The last thing anyone probably wants to think about is taxes. But if you are looking for ways to minimize your tax bill, there’s no better time for tax planning than right now.

There are a number of tax-smart strategies you can implement now that will reduce your tax bill come April 15. So think of this as your most proactive New Year’s resolution ever, and consider how the following strategies might help to lower your taxes.

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Tax Tips for ESPP Stock

Geoff Zimmerman / Aug 30, 2016 / Tax Planning / Financial Planning

Tax rules for sales of Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP) shares can be quite complex for ESPP plans that allow participants to purchase stock at a discount. This article outlines the rules of the road for dealing with ESPP stock purchases and sales, with several examples to help ESPP participants better understand the nuances of these plans. Our fictional sample ESPP participant is Jim Brook of Orange, Inc. We'll see how Jim's shares can be sold in several ways, and what happens in each scenario.

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Money Crossing Borders Requires Special Planning

Steve Branton / Aug 18, 2016 / Tax Planning / Financial Planning

For those who want to retire abroad or move back to the U.S. after years working overseas, making the move is one thing — but figuring out how it will affect your finances is a much bigger challenge. Financial planning would require taking into account varying tax rules, currency fluctuations and even political instability.

The good news is that a new kind of financial planning is emerging to help people navigate the potential pitfalls: Cross-border planning can help you keep as much money as possible securely in your pocket as you move from country to country.

 

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Year End Stock Option Strategies

Geoff Zimmerman / Dec 14, 2015 / Tax Planning

With the end of the calendar year upon us, now is the ideal time to update existing strategies around company stock options, stock appreciation rights and restricted stock. Because holders of these instruments frequently find their portfolios highly concentrated in their own company stock, proper planning and management of these assets is often the key to successful wealth accumulation and preservation.

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Tax Loss Harvesting

Mosaic / Dec 10, 2015 / Tax Planning

One thing we have always done at Mosaic is take advantage of dips in the market to harvest losses for tax purposes. While no one likes to see the market go down, if we can convert that unpleasant experience into a tax deduction, at least Uncle Sam will share some of that pain. We sell the security at a loss and replace it with a similar security. You get to use that loss to offset current or future gains, or to a limited extent, to offset other income. This reduces your taxes.

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Evaluating Charities

Mosaic / Nov 30, 2015 / Tax Planning

Many of us tend to just send a check to whichever organizations we happen to receive solicitations from.  But if you take some time to consider the impact you wish to have on the world, you will likely find the act of charity to be much more rewarding.  Here is a look at how to be more proactive with our gifts, by evaluating charities before making a donation. 

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Avoiding Capital Gain Distributions

David Cowles / Nov 13, 2015 / Tax Planning

As you review your December monthly statements you may notice some large year end capital gain distributions from your mutual funds. Even if you did not sell any of your fund shares, these distributions must be reported on Schedule D of your tax return as taxable capital gains.

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