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2020 is coming quick — are you prepared? Take stock now and learn about the year-end moves that'll help you save. Plus, consider how the 2020 Social Security changes will affect your plans. And make sure you're hitting the employment tax deadlines.
Call if you would like to discuss how this information relates to you. If you know someone who can benefit from this newsletter, feel free to send it to them.
- Save Money With These Year-End Ideas
- 2020 Social Security Benefits
- Reminder: Major Employment Tax Deadlines
- The Power of Cultivating Gratitude
Save Money With These Year-End Ideas
There's still time to reduce your potential tax obligation and save money this year (and next). Here are some ideas to consider:
- Estimate your 2019 and 2020 taxable income. With these estimates you can determine which year receives the greatest benefit from a reduction in income. By understanding what the tax rate will be for your next dollar earned, you can understand the tax benefit of reducing income this year AND next year.
- Fund tax-deferred retirement accounts. An easy way to reduce your taxable income is to fully fund retirement accounts that have tax-deferred status. The most common accounts are 401(k)s, 403(b)s and various IRAs (traditional, SEP and SIMPLE).
- Take your required minimum distributions (RMDs). If you are 70½ or older, you need to take required RMDs from your retirement accounts by Dec. 31. Don't forget to make all RMDs because the fines are hefty if you don't — 50 percent of the amount you should have withdrawn.
Keep in mind, even if you don't have RMDs yet, removing a planned amount from your retirement accounts each year may be more tax efficient than waiting until you are required to do so.
- Manage your gains and losses. Rebalance your investment portfolio, and take any final investment gains and losses. When you have more losses than gains, up to $3,000 can be used to reduce your ordinary income. With careful planning, you can take advantage of this loss amount each year.
- Finalize your gift-giving strategy. Each year you may gift up to $15,000 without tax reporting consequences to as many individuals as you choose. Consider any gift-giving you wish to make up to the annual limit. This could include gifts of cash or property, and investments.
- Donate to charities. Consider making end-of-year donations to eligible charities. Donations of property in good or better condition and your charitable mileage are also deductible. Receiving proper documentation that acknowledges your contributions is important to ensure you obtain the full deduction. Have a plan by knowing your total deductions for the year to help you decide how much and when to donate. Pulling some donations planned for 2020 into 2019 may be a good strategy.
- Review your automated billing transactions. This is a good time to identify what automatic monthly expenses should be reviewed for reduction or elimination. You may also discover billing for services you thought were canceled. This specific review often catches errors that a simple account reconciliation may be missing.
- Organize records now. Start collecting and organizing your tax records to avoid the scramble come tax season.
- Develop your own list. Use these ideas as a jumping off point to create your own list of annual review items. It might also include reviewing college savings accounts, beneficiaries, insurance needs, wills, and going through an aging parent's financial accounts.
Questions about the most effective money-saving moves for your situation? Call today.
2020 Social Security Benefits
Take a look at how Social Security benefits have changed. Use this infographic to help you plan for the coming year, and to learn a little more about retirement benefits and taxes.
Reminder: Major Employment Tax Deadlines
Handling employment taxes can be complicated, especially when you’re required to file important tax documents throughout the year. Here's a list of key forms and deadline dates to help keep you on track.
Form 941 — Employer's quarterly federal tax return
This form is used to report income tax withheld from employees' pay and both the employer's and employees' share of Social Security and Medicare taxes.
Employers generally must deposit Form 941 payroll taxes on either a monthly or semiweekly deposit schedule. There are exceptions if you owe $100,000 or more on any day during a deposit period, if you owe $2,500 or less for the calendar quarter, or if your estimated annual payroll tax liability is $1,000 or less.
- Monthly depositors are required to deposit payroll taxes accumulated within a calendar month by the 15th of the following month.
- Semiweekly depositors generally must deposit payroll taxes on Wednesdays or Fridays, depending on when wages are paid.
Return filing deadlines:
- Jan. 31, 2020 – Due date for filing Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2019. If you deposited your taxes in full and on time, you have until Feb. 10, 2020, to file this return.
- April 30, 2020 – Due date for filing Form 941 for the first quarter. If you deposited your taxes in full and on time, you have until May 11, 2020, to file this return.
- July 31, 2020 – Due date for filing Form 941 for the second quarter. If you deposited your taxes in full and on time, you have until Aug. 10, 2020, to file this return.
- Nov. 1, 2020 – Due date for filing Form 941 for the third quarter. If you deposited your taxes in full and on time, you have until Nov. 10 to file this return.
Form 940 — Employer's annual federal unemployment tax return (FUTA)
This return is due annually. However, FUTA tax must generally be deposited once a quarter if the accumulated tax exceeds $500.
- Jan. 31, 2020 – Due date for filing 2019 Form 940. If you deposited your taxes in full and on time, you have until Feb. 10, 2020, to file this return. This day is also the deadline for depositing federal unemployment tax for October, November and December 2019.
- April 30, 2020 – Deadline for depositing federal unemployment tax for January, February and March 2020.
- July 31, 2020 – Deadline for depositing federal unemployment tax for April, May and June 2020.
- Nov. 1, 2020 – Deadline for depositing federal unemployment tax for July, August and September 2020.
Form W-2 — Wage and tax statement
Employers are required to send this document to each employee and the IRS at the end of the year. It reports employee annual wages and taxes withheld from paychecks.
- Jan. 31, 2020 – Due date for employers to provide 2019 Forms W-2 to employees, and for employers to send copies of 2019 W-2s to the Social Security Administration, whether filing electronically or with paper forms.
Tax deadline extensions for disaster areas
For taxpayers living in designated disaster areas, the IRS extends certain filing and tax payment dates. Taxpayers living in the affected areas (and those whose tax professionals are located in those areas) have relief from penalties for filing under the new extended dates. These filing and payment extensions are also available to some relief workers.
Visit the IRS's Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief for Individuals and Businesses page for up-to-date information.
Please call for help with specific details about your filing requirements and for more information on tax deadlines that apply to your business.
The Power of Cultivating Gratitude
Tips on how to be thankful
It costs nothing to say thank you. Yet cultivating gratitude in your life may be one of the most rewarding moves you can make. Not only does it invoke warm fuzzies in everyone involved, expressing your appreciation may actually improve your health and well-being.
A landmark study by gratitude researcher Robert A. Emmons has shown that gratitude can reduce physical illness symptoms and toxic emotions. It can even help you sleep better and longer, according to a study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being.
So what are some ways you can make gratitude part of your everyday life? Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Write it out. Write out what you’re thankful for in your life. This may mean making a nightly habit of writing in a journal or jotting down a message to a loved one and giving it to them. You could also make some sticky note reminders of what you’re grateful for and hang them on your mirror to read each morning.
- Share a good memory. Reminiscing often stirs up feelings of gratitude. For instance, think about the time you first met a close friend in grade school. Contact them and tell them how grateful you are that it happened. Send a photo of that family vacation when you all shared a common experience like learning to water ski. When you think about it, you will quickly discover happy memories to share with loved ones.
- Offer your service. Show your gratitude through your actions. If you appreciate your community, join a group to clean up the park and streets. Provide a positive online review for your favorite local café. Or volunteer at a Veterans Affairs hospital.
- Lend an ear. Some of the most meaningful moments involve simply being heard. Return the favor. If your sister is usually the one who lets you ramble on about work grievances and family drama, it’s time to give her a turn. Let her know you’re there and ready to listen. Maybe you avoid your chatty (albeit helpful) coworker. When you see them next, give them 5 minutes of your time.
- Pay it forward. Did your neighbor share a gutter-cleaning hack with you? Next time you see someone on your street cleaning their gutters, offer to lend a hand. See a mom digging for spare change at a check out register? Pay it for her. Let the appreciation of your good deed change someone else’s outlook for the day. When they offer to pay you back, just tell them to pay it forward.
There are opportunities to cultivate gratitude all around us. Refocusing on what you appreciate on regular basis can help you live a healthier, more satisfying life.