As you likely already know, on December 1 a rule was set to go into effect that would double the maximum salary from $23,660 to $47,500 that a person could make and be eligible for overtime pay. However, on November 22, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant in Texas granted a nationwide injunction against the ruling, in essence agreeing with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 21 states that wanted it halted. This is a developing story and we are sure there will be additional news on this front soon, but we wanted to make sure you were aware of it. To read more see these articles from Reuters and NBC.
Disasters, natural or otherwise, could ultimately lead to your company’s demise. Fortunately, advance planning can keep you on track to survive and thrive no matter what the future may hold. Here are seven scenarios to be prepared for.
- A natural disaster. To paraphrase the old saying, you can talk about the weather, but there’s not much you can do about it – except have a plan in place in the event a natural disaster damages your business premises. Two tips: Maintain adequate insurance and store valuable business data at a secure off- site location.
- A key employee quits. Cross-training can help you avoid business interruptions if a key employee leaves unexpectedly. You might also want to consider asking key employees to sign a reasonable non-compete agreement to protect confidential information. Typically, these agreements prohibit an employee from working for a competitor for a certain period.
- An employee embezzles company funds. To safeguard your business assets, divide responsibilities so one person doesn’t have complete control over the books. Set up a system of checks and balances. But no matter how many internal controls you have in place, make sure to monitor cashflow and expenditures yourself on a regular basis.
- Your biggest customer leaves. To keep your business from going under if you suddenly lose a major source of revenue, update your marketing plan, stay in touch with former customers, establish an emergency budget, and diversify your revenue stream.
- You become disabled. “Key-person” disability insurance can provide funding to keep your business afloat if serious illness or accident strike the business owner. The policy may also cover employees who are vital to operations.
- Your company or partnership splits up. Draft a buy-sell agreement to ensure a smooth transition due to the sale of a business interest, including a forced sale on the death of one of your shareholders or partners. The agreement can establish the terms of a buy-out and set a value for the respective business interests.
- Your computer system crashes. Extra hardware, such as tablets or laptops, regular off-site backups, and cloud storage for important documents can avoid a crisis when your computer fails.
Once you reach age 70½, the IRS imposes required minimum distribution (RMD) rules that say you have to withdraw at least a minimum amount from your retirement plans each year or face stiff tax penalties. Since the withdrawals are considered ordinary income, planning in advance can help you prepare for the impact on your federal income tax return. Here are two suggestions to help you avoid surprises and avoid unnecessary costs.
- Make a list of your accounts.The rules require an RMD calculation for each plan. With traditional IRAs, including SEP and SIMPLE plans, you can take the total distribution from one or more accounts, in any amount you choose. You can also take more than the minimum. However, withdrawals from different types of retirement plans can’t be combined to meet the minimum distribution threshold. Say for instance, you have one 401(k) and one IRA. You have to figure the RMD for each and take separate distributions. Failing to take distributions from each type of plan, or taking less than is required, could result in a penalty of 50% of the shortfall.
- Pay attention to the date distributions must begin.The general rule says you must withdraw your RMD by December 31, starting in the year you turn 70½. The rules provide one exception: You have the option of postponing your first withdrawal until April 1 of the following year. This can be important if your RMD will increase taxable income enough to put you in a higher tax bracket. For example, if you plan to retire on your 70th birthday, which falls in the first half of the year, and you get a substantial retirement bonus. Postponing the first withdrawal until January of the next year can help you avoid a large increase in your income during the year you turn 70.
Delaying income can be a sound tax move. But because you’ll still have to take your second distribution by December 31, you’ll receive two distributions in the same year, which can increase your taxes. It’s important to plan carefully and know what to expect so that you won’t be hit with a higher tax bill than you may be prepared for, whenever you decide to take your first RMD.
Contact us before year-end to discuss your retirement plan distributions. We can help you create a sound plan that keeps you in control of your tax situation.
An important part of our service to you is helping you identify actions you can take before year-end to minimize your personal 2016 federal income tax bill. Accelerating or delaying income and deductions, contributing to retirement plans, and taking investment losses are just a few of the strategies you might want to consider. Here’s a checklist to help you get started.
- Max out your 401(k) before year-end. For 2016, you can set aside $18,000 if you’re under age 50. If you’re 50 or older, you can contribute $24,000.
- Get your investment planning in order. Year-end sell decisions, either to rebalance your portfolio at the lowest tax cost or to offset gains and losses, are only one aspect of investment planning. Another is keeping good records for the reinvested dividends of stocks you sell in 2016. Reinvested dividends add to your cost basis and reduce taxable gain or increase the deductible loss on the sale. Finally, consider the wash sale rule. This rule disallows a current-year loss when you purchase substantially identical securities within a 61-day period. If you plan to sell stocks to secure a loss, and intend to buy the stock back, don’t wait until the last moment.
- Make gifts before year-end. The use-it-or-lose-it tax-free gifting allowance is $14,000 per donee for 2016. Remember, gifts to individuals are not tax-deductible.
- Contribute to your Health Savings Account. Within limits, contributions are tax-deductible and can be used tax-free to pay unreimbursed medical expenses.
- Keep an eye on the “kiddie tax.” This tax on your dependent child’s unearned income in excess of certain limits applies when your child is under age 19 (under age 24 if a full-time student).
We have more planning strategies that can save you tax dollars, depending on your individual situation. Contact us for a year-end review to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the ways you can to reduce your 2016 tax liability.