Retirement

Great uses for your tax refund

Posted on Apr 11, 2018

Most Americans get a refund every year, with the average check weighing in at $2,895 last year. Even though it’s really money that they earned, many people are tempted to treat it like a windfall and splurge. If you can resist that temptation, here are some of the best ways to put your refund to good use: Pay off debt. If you have debt, part of your refund could be used to reduce or eliminate it. Paying off high-interest credit card or auto loan debt means freeing up the money you had been paying in interest for other uses. And making extra payments on your mortgage can put more money in your pocket over the long haul. Save for retirement. Saving for retirement allows the power of compound interest to work for you. Consider depositing some of your refund check into a traditional or Roth IRA. You can contribute a total of $5,500 every year, plus an extra $1,000 if you are at least 50 years old. Save for a home. Home ownership can be a source of wealth and stability for many people. If you dream of owning a home, consider adding your refund to a down payment fund. Invest in yourself. Sometimes the best investment isn’t financial, it’s personal. A course of study or conference that improves your skills or knowledge could be the best use of your money. Give to charity. Giving your refund to a charity helps others and gives you a deduction for your next tax return. Don’t give to scammers! Scammers are using a new tactic to separate people from their tax refunds. First, they file fraudulent refunds on behalf of their victims. Then, after a refund check arrives at the taxpayer’s address, they impersonate an IRS agent over the phone and demand to be sent the refund because it was sent in error. Remember, real IRS agents will never call over the phone and demand immediate payment for any reason. If you use some of your refund for one of the ideas here, you can also feel good about setting a little aside for yourself to have some fun! Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

Read More

Using retirement funds to build a home?

Posted on Dec 4, 2017

If you’re considering using funds from your retirement plan to build a home, understand the tax rules. You may use up to $10,000 of your IRA per person to purchase a first home and avoid paying the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. If these same funds are pulled out of a 401(k) plan you could be subject to an additional federal tax of up to $1,000. Roll the funds to a traditional IRA first and save the tax. Contact our office if you have questions about tax penalties and your retirement plan. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

Read More

Get ready to save more in 2018

Posted on Nov 29, 2017

You can save more for retirement next year using tax-advantaged accounts, thanks to a boost in the maximum 401(k) contribution rate by the IRS. The maximum rate increases by $500 to $18,500, which is the first increase in three years. Those aged 50 or older can still contribute an additional $6,000 on top of that amount. This is good news, because a 401(k) is one of most potent tools in your retirement arsenal. It offers many benefits over other forms of saving, including: Tax-deferred growth. Pre-tax income of $18,500 invested over 30 years with 6 percent annual cumulative interest will grow to $111,901.92. That’s compared with $67,588.76 of the same amount of income invested after being taxed at the highest rate. While you’ll owe tax on 401(k) withdrawals after retirement, you may be able to manage your 401(k) withdrawals to fall into a lower income bracket. Roth option. You may opt to make your contributions to a 401(k) as a Roth investment, meaning you invest post-tax income, but you can withdraw from your Roth tax-free during retirement. A mix of traditional and Roth accounts will give you flexibility to manage your income tax rate during retirement. Company match. Many companies offer to match the first few percentage points of their employees contributions to a 401(k). Even if you can’t max out your contribution, you should try to invest up to your company’s match limit. Otherwise, you’re just leaving money on the table. While 401(k)s have great utility, they come with a few downsides. Any withdrawals made before age 59 1/2 are assessed a 10 percent penalty fee, in addition to being taxed as regular income during the year they are withdrawn. Any investments in 401(k)s also are limited to a few choices set by your employer’s retirement plan, so a limited number of conventional investment options in mutual funds is one of the trade-offs of using a 401(k). Social Security also gets a boost in 2018 The federal retirement safety net system, Social Security also gets a boost during 2018. The average estimated monthly benefit paid to retirees in 2018 will be $1,404 in 2018, up from $1,377 in 2017. The maximum amount of wages subject to Social Security taxes rises to $128,700 in 2018, up $1,500. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

Read More

2018 Social Security changes announced

Posted on Nov 13, 2017

The Social Security Administration stated there will be a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for 2018. This is the largest increase since 2012. Up to $128,700 in wages will be subject to Social Security taxes (up $1,500 from 2017). Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

Read More

HOW TO FIX YOUR OVERFUNDED ACCOUNT

Posted on Oct 26, 2017

Is socking away large sums in a tax-deferred retirement account ever a bad idea? It is when you exceed the annual IRS limits. And intentional or not, the penalties can be painful. Here’s how overfunding occurs and what steps to take to fix the problem. When do overfunding situations occur? Overfunding retirement accounts happens more than you may realize. It can be the result of a job change that causes you to participate in the two different employer retirement plans. Sometimes people forget they made IRA contributions early in the year and do it again later. Others forget that the IRA limit is the total of all accounts, not per account. The rules are complicated. Traditional IRAs can’t be contributed to after age 70½, while Roth IRA contributions are subject to income limits. Plus all contributions are predicated on having earned income. IRAs The annual Roth and Traditional IRA contribution limit is $5,500 ($6,500 if age 50 or older). If you surpass this amount, you pay a 6 percent penalty on the overpayment every year until it’s corrected, plus a potential 10 percent penalty on the investment income attributed to the overfunded amount. The fix: If the overfunding is discovered before the filing deadline (plus extensions), you can withdraw the excess and any income earned on the contribution to avoid the 6 percent penalty. You will potentially owe 10 percent on the earnings of the excess contributions if you’re under age 59½. You can apply the withdrawn contribution to the next year. If your issue is due to age (70½ or older for a Traditional IRA) or income limit (for a Roth IRA), consider recharacterizing your contribution from one IRA type to another. 401(k)s The rules for correcting an overfunded 401(k) are a little more rigid. You have until April 15 to return the funds, period. The nature of the penalty is also different. The excess amount is taxable in the year of the overfunding, plus taxable again when withdrawn. So, you pay tax twice on the same amount. And in certain cases, overfunding a 401(k) could cause it to lose its qualified status. The fix: If you suspect an overpayment situation, contact your employer as soon as possible. Adjust your contribution amount before the end of the year and try to get the problem resolved that way. No matter the cause, if you are in doubt about how to handle excess contributions, give us a call. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

Read More

IS YOUR HSA A RETIREMENT TOOL? THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

Posted on Aug 2, 2017

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are a great way to pay for medical expenses, and since unused funds roll over from year to year, the account can also provide a source of retirement funds in addition to other plans like 401(k)s or IRAs. But be aware that HSAs have significant disadvantages when compared to other retirement investment tools. The Good HSAs work best when they are used to pay for qualified medical expenses. Neither your original contributions to an HSA nor your investment earnings are taxed when used this way. There is no required distribution after you reach age 70½, like there is with 401(k)s and IRAs. The Bad You can only contribute to an HSA if you have a high deductible health insurance plan. This means you will pay more out of pocket each year when you need to use health services. Annual contributions to HSAs are limited to $3,400 a year for individuals and $6,750 a year for families (add $1,000 for people aged 55 or older). HSAs typically have fewer investment options compared with other investment tools including 401(k)s and IRAs. They also often have high management and administrative fees. The Ugly Before you reach age 65, non-medical withdrawals from HSAs come with a whopping 20 percent penalty, plus they are taxed as income. Even after age 65, both contributions and earnings are taxed when they are withdrawn for non-medical expenses. In this way, HSAs compare unfavorably with 401(k)s and IRAs, which end their early withdrawal period earlier, at age 59½. They also have lower early withdrawal penalties of just 10 percent. HSAs are a powerful tool to help manage the ever-rising costs of health care. Knowing the rules and the costs associated with them can help you position an HSA with your other retirement options. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

Read More