I hope 2020 finds you well. 2019 was a remarkable year in many ways and I’m thrilled to report that all is well. ALL our key staff are together again this year: Colleen, Darlene, Jan, Christie and Tony. Alysa, who has been with us on a part-time basis the last several seasons, has taken a full-time position with us and we are thrilled. My staff is our strength!
In my opinion, and that of many experts, the most significant tax planning strategy is to do what is possible to control your taxable income so that you fall within the lowest tax bracket feasible for your situation. Take advantage of all the tax deferral opportunities that you can afford. These include contributions to IRA’s, 401(k)’s, HSA’s etc. The amount you can contribute to these has increased for tax year 2019.
Let’s get down to business. There are several changes to the tax code. Although last year was the most significant in a generation, this year more key changes were implemented. The items affecting most of you are listed below.
REQUIRED MINIMUM DISTRIBUTIONS: A major change that was implemented on December 20th increased the age from 70 ½ to 72 whereby RMD’s must be taken. The new law only applies to taxpayers who turned 70 ½ after December 31, 2019.
STANDARD DEDUCTION: The standard deduction is increased to $12,200 for Single taxpayers, $24,400 for Married Filing Joint and $18,350 for Head of Household. Those filing as Head of Household may be asked to provide additional information or documentation to substantiate this status because paid tax preparers are now required to perform due diligence as we have in the past to verify qualifications for Earned Income Credits, Child Tax Credits and Education Credits.
ITEMIZED DEDUCTIONS: As you know, there were many changes in this area last year resulting in more of you taking the standard deduction. The only change for 2019 is to increase the threshold for taking qualified medical expenses from 7.5% to 10% of adjusted gross income. There is much talk about increasing the amount of the SALT (State And Local Tax) deduction but, for 2019, the $10,000 limit still applies.
MILEAGE RATES: Business mileage rates increase to 58 cents/mile. Remember that this is only federally deductible for those who are self-employed. However, PA will allow unreimbursed business expenses with appropriate documentation. Please include a mileage log with your tax information as well as receipts for other allowable unreimbursed expenses. For those able to itemize deductions, the mileage rate for medical travel is 20 cents/mile and 17 cents/mile for charitable activities.
ADJUSTMENTS TO INCOME: For those who entered into or modified divorce agreements in 2019, you can no longer deduct alimony payments nor should those who receive alimony report it as income. Agreements entered before 2019 will continue to be treated as they were in the past.
HEALTH INSURANCE: There is no longer an individual mandate penalty for those who do not have health insurance. However, if you purchased your health insurance through the Marketplace, you must include Form 1095-A with your tax information. This form will give us information about any advance premium you received so that we may calculate the tax credit that you may receive or repay.
PAYMENTS. We now accept all major credit cards as payment for our services. Payment must be received before we provide you with your return. This can be done over the phone if you want your return mailed to you.
PREPARATION LIST. On the back of this letter you will find a list of items needed to prepare
P.S. There will be NO price increases this year for Individual Tax Returns. Thank you for your loyalty!
P.P.S. If you don’t bring up politics, I won’t show you 8,000 pictures of my grandchildren!!