CHAPTER3 Taxes in Your Financial Plan “In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.” – Benjamin Franklin, Statesman, Inventor, Author “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Civil War veteran, Supreme Court Judge “Only the little people pay taxes.” – Leona Helmsley, Hotel Owner, Fashion Designer, Prison Inmate President Bush’s tax cuts on investment income reduced tax bills by an average of $500,000 on incomes of more than $10 million. (The New York Times) It was part of his “Leave No Billionaire Behind” program…
Taxes and Financial Planning • About one-third of each dollar you earn goes to pay taxes • (May Day has become Tax Freedom Day) • Understanding tax rules and regulations can help you reduce your tax liability • To help you cope with the many types of taxes you should... • Know current tax laws as they affect you • Make purchase and investment decisions that reduce your tax liability • (But be careful: Not all tax-advantaged investments are good deals) • Maintain complete tax records
Four Types of Taxes • Taxes on purchases • Sales tax & excise tax • Taxes on property • Property tax (on real estate) • Personal property tax (DMV) • Taxes on wealth • Federal estate tax and gift tax • State inheritance tax • Taxes on earnings • Income tax
Fifth Type of “Tax” • Social Security “Taxes” • 6.20% of Gross Salary • Medicare “Taxes” • 1.45% of Gross Salary • If self-unemployed, almost twice this amount! • The self-employed pay the employer’s portion as well as their own (They are their own employer) Social Security and Medicare contributions are not technically taxes but for personal financial planning, it makes sense for us to think of them as taxes. They are often called “payroll taxes.”
Effect of Taxes Or “How Much Does It Really Cost?”
Let’s calculate how much it really costs “Out of Pocket” Expense Actual Expense= ——————————— ( 1 – Marginal Tax Rate) $322.92 $535.08 = ————————————— ( 1 – (25% + 7% + 7.65%) ) And you thought I was exaggerating, didn’t you?
Filing Your Federal Income Tax Return • Who Must File? • Single $10,000; Married $20,000; etc. • But in reality, anyone who earned income and paid taxes should file (If only to get a refund or to claim the Earned Income Credit!) • There are five filing status categories • Single or legally separated • Married, filing jointly • Married, filing separately • Head of household • Qualifying widow or widower
Which Tax Form Should You Use? 1040EZ • Single or married filing jointly, under age 65 and with no dependents • Income consisted of wages, salaries, and tips, and no more than $1,500 of taxable interest • Taxable income is less than $100,000 • No adjustments to income (retirement accts) • No itemized deductions • No income tax credits Some folks were even eligible to file using the telephone. IRS got rid of this program.
Decide Which Tax Form to Use (continued) 1040A • Taxable income less than $100,000 • Some adjustments to income are allowed • Some tax credits are allowed such as the child care and dependent care credits • Required to use this form if income is over $100,000 – Must use if you itemize deductions 1040 The 1040A form is just a tad bit easier than the 1040 form. My advice is to always use the 1040 form.
What Tax Records to Keep • Current tax forms and instruction booklets • Social security numbers • Copy of previous year’s returns • W-2 form from employer • 1099 forms (interest, self employment) • 1098 (mortgage interest paid) • Receipts, documentation • Investment & business expense documents
How Long Should You Keep Tax Records? • The IRS sez… • “3 years from the date the return was due or filed, or, • 2 years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is longer” • But then the IRS also sez… • “You should keep some records longer” • But they don’t say which records or how long • Thanks a lot, guys! • I sez… • “Keep ‘em forever!”
Let’s Start on the 1040 Form • Income (top half of page 1) • Wages, interest, investments returns, business profit, real estate profit, pension fund income, etc. • Adjustments to Income (bottom half of page 1) • Student expenses, retirement contributions, etc. • Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) – (bottom of page 1) • Gross income (wages, etc.) minus adjustments to income (retirement accts, alimony, etc.) • Bottom line on front page of Form 1040 and top line on back page of Form 1040 The AGI is an important number. Many tax items are tied to AGI such as the ability to contribute to retirement accounts or utilize certain deductions and personal exemptions.
Computing Adjusted Gross Income (line 7 – W2) Income Earned Income + Business Income + Investment Income, etc. Total Income Adjustments Retirement contributions to + Alimony paid Income + Student loan expenses, etc. Total Adjustments to Income AGI Total Income – Total Adjustments (line 22) (line 36) (lines 37 & 38) Adjusted Gross Income Form 1040 – Page 1
Income Tax Fundamentals • Tax Deductions –Amount subtracted from AGI to arrive at Taxable Income • Standard Deductions for 2013– $6,100 single, $12,200 married,or • Itemized Deductions–Schedule A (medical expenses, mortgage interest, gifts to charities, property & state taxes) ,and • Personal Exemptions–Deductions for you, your spouse & dependents – $3,900 per person for 2013 You get to claim the StandardDeduction or the Itemized Deductions. But you can not claim both! This is a great source of confusion for many people. Everyone gets to claim the Personal Exemptions (unless your AGI is too much).
Computing Taxable Income Adj Gross Inc or Adj Gross Income - Std Deductions - Itemized Deductions - Pers Exemptions- Personal Exemptions Taxable Income Taxable Income • Standard Deduction (Tax year 2013) • $6,100 for singles, $12,200 for married couples • Itemized Deductions • Only used if greater than Standard Deduction • Deductions reported on Schedule A Taxable Income is then used to compute Tax line 40 line 42 line 43 (lines 44 & 46) Form 1040 – Top of Page 2
Computing Tax Due • Taxable Income is used to compute Tax • Tax Tables (up to $100,000; for most people) • Tax Rate Schedules • One of the other methods (Schedule D, etc.) • Marginal Tax Rate – The rate used to calculate the tax due on the next dollar of Taxable Income • The rates are 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35% • The 39.6% rate was reintroduced starting in 2013 • Average Tax Rate – Total Tax Due divided by the Taxable Income(not really very important but good to be aware of − if only to debunk the flat-tax advocates) Form 1040 – Top of Page 2
2014 Marginal Tax Rates The 39.6% rate was reintroduced in 2013 after years of fighting between the two parties. Since 2001, the rates were temporary. After the “fiscal cliff” fight at the end of 2012, the rates became permanent … until the next clash. Plus each year they are adjusted for inflation.
2013 Marginal Tax Rates The percentage rates do not change. The tax brackets are simply adjusted upward according to the inflation rate. The 2012 brackets were lower than the 2013, the 2011 lower than the 2012, etc.
Example: Computing Tax Due Using 2014 Marginal Tax Rates Example: You are single with $37,900 of taxable income The first $9,075 is taxed at the first marginal rate of 10% Between $9,075 and $36,900 you are taxed at the second rate of 15% Any amount over $36,900 (in this case, $37,900 – $36,900 = $1,000) is taxed at the third marginal rate bracket of 25% The next dollar you make is always taxed at your current marginal rate.
The Average Tax Rate Example: The single taxpayer from the previous slide had $37,900 of taxable income and $5,331.25 of taxes due The Average Tax Rate is therefore: $5,331.25 ÷ $37,900 = 0.14067 ≈ 14.1% Discussion: Who would win and who would lose with a “Flat Tax?”
The “Marriage Penalty” If the marginal rates are higher for single taxpayers, how come we sometimes hear people complain about the so-called “marriage penalty?” Because the second wage-earner in the family pays their taxes at the highest marginal rate. They do not get to take advantage of the lower tax brackets. Actually, married couples with only one wage-earner get rewarded, not punished. But, of course, they need more money because they are two. In 2003, Congress removed the marriage penalty for the first two brackets and extended it several times, making it permanent during the “fiscal cliff” fight of December 2012 … until the next Congressional tax confrontation.
The Dreaded AMT! • Alternative Minimum Tax – Line 45 • Originally meant to make sure everyone who could afford to pay would pay some taxes • Originally targeted to the very wealthy • However, the AMT was and is still not indexed to inflation • When it was created in the late 1960’s, $100,000 was a very unusual and substantial income • The AMT will continue to affect more and more of the middle class as wages climb with inflation • Especially two-income families • Always talk in Congress about eliminating it • But would add over $1.5 trillion to the budget deficit
Tax Credits (Are you still with us?) • Tax Credit – An amount subtracted directly from the amount of taxes due • Foreign tax credits (47) & Education credits (49) • Child care credits (48) & Child tax credits (51) • Retirement savings contribution credit (50) • Energy & Other Credits (52 & 53) • Earned Income Credit (Not until line 64a) Taxes Due - Total Credits Taxes Due after Credits line 46 - line 54 line 55 Form 1040 – Upper middle portion of Page 2
Tax Credit versus Tax Deduction • $100 Tax Credit • Reduces your tax by $100 – “dollar for dollar” • $100 Tax Deduction • Reduces your tax by the marginal tax bracket • Example – Tax Deduction • 25% Tax Bracket • $100 * 25% = $25 reduction in Federal taxes • $100 * 7% = $7 reduction in California taxes • $32 total tax reduction • Never a reduction in Social Security taxes A tax credit is worth more than a tax deduction.
Other Taxes (Wait! There might be more!) • Self-employment Taxes – Social Security & Medicare taxes on the self-unemployed • Social Security & Medicare taxes on tips • Penalty Taxes on retirement and medical savings account withdrawals • Household employment taxes Taxes After Credits + Other Taxes Total Taxes Due line 55 + line 56-60 line 61 Form 1040 – Middle of Page 2
Determine tax withheld Making Tax Payments - Withholding W-2 Form
Payments (Relax. We are in the home stretch…) • Withholding – “Pay As You Go” sez the IRS • “Forced savings” or “But I like a big tax refund” means you are giving the Feds a free loan • Do your best to estimate tax bill (90%, 100%) • Estimated Payments – Quarterly • Self-employed • Other income not subject to withholding Total Taxes Due - Total Payments Overpaid or Amount You Owe line 61 - line 72ִ ִ line 73 or 76 Form 1040 – Bottom of Page 2
How to Avoid Common Filing Errors • Check your arithmetic, twice • Attach necessary documentation • Put your Social Security number, the tax year and form number on the check • Make your check payable to the United States Treasury • Keep a photocopy of your return • Put proper postage on your mailing envelope • Finally, check everything again • If you need more time, file an extension! Form 4868
“Uh, Oh!” If you find you have made a mistake, should you… • Leave The Country? • Commit Suicide? • Pretend It Didn’t Happen? • File Form 1040X? The correct answer is (D). File Form 1040X.
And Don’t Forget the State of CA • Once the Federal 1040 is finished, you get to tackle the State of California’s Form 540 • Fortunately, it is far less than ½ the work • Just Two Forms (usually) • Form 540 • Schedule 540CA (California Adjustments)
Tax Information Sources • The IRS has several methods of assistance • Publications and forms 1-800-TAX-FORM • Recorded messages 1-800-829-4477 • Phone hot line 1-800-829-1040 (much, much better) • Walk-in service at an IRS office • New e-mail service (I have been impressed with this!) • Tax publications - JK Lasser’sYour Income Tax • The Internet • www.irs.gov (Very useful – especially for downloading forms) • There are literally thousands of tax-related web sites
Tax Information Sources (continued) • Tax preparation software and electronic filing • Intuit’s TurboTax and other programs will print your returns for mailing or send them electronically • Intuit and many other companies will let you file using your browser on the Internet • Spreadsheets to maintain tax data on various income and expense categories I use TurboTax to check my own numbers and to do returns for my family and friends. I bought Tax-Cut (now called H&R Block At Home) once for $10 just to check it out. It was bad. For several years, I received a free copy of Tax-Cut in the mail. I never loaded it again. If anyone has any current experience with Tax-Cut or TaxAct or any of the other competitors to TurboTax, would you please relate your experience to us? It would be very helpful and appreciated.
Tax Information Sources (continued) • Tax preparation services • Tax Preparers, Enrolled Agents (government-approved tax experts), Accountants (CPAs) or Tax Attorneys • If your professional tax preparer makes a mistake, you are still responsible for paying the correct amount, plus any interest and penalties • For this reason, it is important to at least understand the forms you are signing and check that the numbers are reasonable The IRS has created a registration and testing process for tax preparers.
Tax Audits • Just under 1.0% of all returns are audited • Relax! Many are just because of arithmetic errors • If you claim large or unusual deductions, you are more likely to be audited • There are three types of audits • Correspondence audit for minor questions • Office audit takes place at an IRS office • Field audit is the most complex, with an IRS agent visiting your home, business or accountant’s office (avoid this type at all costs!) • You have audit rights including time to prepare for the audit
Tax-Planning Strategies • Tax Evasion • Illegally not paying all the taxes you owe, such as not reporting all income • Tax Avoidance • Legitimate methods to reduce your tax obligation to your fair share but no more Americans avoid about $50 billion in taxes annually by hiding money in offshore accounts. As much as $1.6 trillion in North American wealth is held offshore. (USA Today)
Tax-Planning Strategies (continued) • Put money in tax-deferred investments • Tax-deferred annuities (Only after retirement accounts are funded to the maximum – very high fees) • Series EE U.S. Treasury bonds (Yawn) • Take advantage of tax-deferred retirement plans (Now we’re talking!) • 401(k), 403(b) plans (Through your employer) • Traditional or Roth IRA (Roth is better) • Education IRA or 529 plan (Roth is better) • Keogh, SEP or SIMPLE IRA if self-employed • Long-term capital gains (Lower rates than income)
Tax-Planning Strategies (continued) • Owning a home is one of the best tax shelters because you can deduct mortgage loan interest and property taxes when you itemize – This reduces your taxable income (Paid Advertisement from your Friendly Local Real Estate Agent) • Use your home equity line of credit to buy a car or consolidate debt (Careful! More later in Chapter 5) • Use tax-exempt investments, such as municipal bonds (Only after retirement accounts are funded to the maximum unless you are very wealthy) • Start a Business (Not a Hobby) Let’s look at some home and business tax-planning examples…
Home Ownership Example 1 2013 Taxes With No Home Deduction
Home Ownership Example 1(continued) Itemized Deductions from Home Ownership
Home Ownership Example 1(continued) 2013 Taxes With Home Deduction
Home Ownership Example 1(continued) Tax Savings for $50,000 Incomes For married couples buying at the low end of the housing market, the tax savings are not as large as the real estate agents make them out to be.
Home Ownership Example 2 2013 Taxes With No Home Deduction
Home Ownership Example 2(continued) Itemized Deductions from Home Ownership
Home Ownership Example 2(continued) 2013 Taxes With Home Deduction
Home Ownership Example 2(continued) Tax Savings for $80,000 Incomes Once your income reaches the middle to upper-middle class level, a home is normally a very good tax shelter.
Home Business Example • Remember that $299 stereo that cost us $535? Well, if it is a legitimate business expense, then that same $299 stereo costs us just $319! • You still have to pay state sales tax unless you plan to resell it as retail. But you also get to deduct the state sales tax as a business expense. When could a stereo be a legitimate business expense?
“Donate Your Car! Get A Tax Break!” • An all too familiar spiel we hear from charities these days is that you can donate your car and get a $2,500 tax break • In the 25% bracket, a $2,500 deduction is worth $625 • Of course, you might only get $50 in cash if you asked the junk man to come and get it • Not a bad deal, eh? • Well, no more. The charity must now sell the car and tell you the actual amount they received for the car • However, if you don’t itemize deductions using Schedule A and instead take the standard deduction, then you can not take the deduction anyway! • Many people have been burnt by this tactic
The Bottom Line • “Death & Taxes” Benjamin Franklin • Pay Your Taxes & Quit Complainin’! • “Death, Taxes & Tax Law Changes” • And if we want real tax reform, all we really have to do is require the Senators and Representatives in Congress to do their own tax returns! • (But don’t hold your breath …)