Spring Clean Your Financial Documents

With tax season upon us and the hint of Spring around the corner, now is the perfect time to focus your spring-cleaning efforts on your financial documents and be ready for the year ahead. Here’s what we recommend you do:

Have A System

Store all of your important papers all in one place. A traditional filing cabinet works great, with separate folders allocated for your utility bills, pay stubs, bank statements, credit card statements and investment information.

Keep similar statements together so you can find what you need quickly. Safely store your important documents in a fireproof and water-resistant container.

To Keep Or Not To Keep

You don’t have to keep everything forever. Here are some rules of thumb to guide you.

          • Utility bills. Keep these for about a year in case there is a billing question that comes up.
          • Pay stubs. Hang on to these for a year, too, or until you can cross reference it to your year-end W-2 statement.
          • Bank statements. Keep these for one year unless you plan to apply for a car or home loan, then keep two years of statements. Lenders typically ask for two years’ worth of statements, and many banks give you free access only to the past six months.
          • Credit card statements. You can typically pitch credit card statements that are older than a year unless you’ve used them to pay for home office or home improvement expenses. If they impact your taxes, keep those statements until you sell your home.
          • Investments. You can throw out the monthly or quarterly statements if you have the yearly statements, but hold on to statements that show trading confirmations.
          • Tax records. Keep all of your tax returns and the supporting documents for at least three years. The IRS can challenge returns for the previous six years if they suspect you haven’t reported income, so you may want to play it safe and hang on to them for six years, especially if you are self-employed. Returns that are decades old and several residences in the past will likely not be needed.
          • Other important documents. There are some documents you will keep forever—birth certificates, marriage licenses, estate planning, death certificates, etc. These documents should be kept in a place that protects them from flood, fires and theft.

Shred

When you have identified what you no longer need to keep and store, don’t just throw them in the trash. Shred them. This will protect you from identity theft, an all too common and devastating problem that results when dumpster divers go through your trash in search of personal information. Then they use it to make purchases or apply for new credit cards.

Donohoo Accounting Services is here to help you with your financial paperwork, tax preparation and business and personal tax returns. If you have questions about which financial documents you should keep, which you should get rid of, or if you need help with your taxes, give us a call at 513-528-3982. We would be happy to assist. For more tips and our latest updates, check us out on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn!

contact Donohoo Accounting

How Tax Filing Will Be Different In 2021

The coronavirus pandemic brought unforeseen challenges to all aspects of business around the world, so it should be no surprise that it will impact this year’s taxes as well. Coronavirus legislation and inflation adjustments changed some of the most influential tax rules. Here is what you can expect to be different when you file your taxes this year.

February 12 is the opening date, and April 15 is the deadline

The first day to file in 2021 is February 12. We were all given a tax filing extension last year, but we’re back to April 15 for 2021. That doesn’t mean you can’t get an extension; but remember that being granted an extension only gives you more time to file your taxes, not more time to pay what you owe.

Charitable Deduction

The CARES Act allowed taxpayers to deduct up to $300 in monetary deductions in 2020 even if they chose to take the standard deduction. This was the IRS’s way to encourage Americans to contribute more money to charity during the pandemic.

Higher HSA Limits

Contributions limits for HSA-eligible workers who elected to participate in high deductible health insurance policies increased by $50 for self-only coverage (from $3,500 to $3,550) and by $100 for family coverage (from $7,000 to $7,100).

Higher Retirement Account Contribution Limits

Some workplace retirement accounts have higher contribution limits in 2020, so be sure to check yours. To illustrate, 401(k) plans had a base contribution limit of $19,000 in 2019, but that increased by $500 to $19,500 in 2020. For those who are age 50 and older, the catch-up contribution limit increased by $500 also, from $6,000 in 2019 to $6,500 in 2020. This means that if you are age 50 or older, you could potentially contribute a total of $26,000 ($19,500 + $6,500) to a 401(k) plan in 2020.

Higher Standard Deductions

Each year the IRS adjusts the standard deductions for inflation. This reduces the amount of income that is subject to federal taxes. In 2020, the IRS raised the standard deduction by anywhere between $200 and $400. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Married filing jointly: (+400 from 2019) – $24,800
  • Married individuals filing separately: (+$200) – $12,400
  • Head of household: (+$300) – $18,650
  • Single: (+$200) $12,400

Donohoo Accounting Services realizes these changing tax rules are hard to understand and stay on top of. When it comes time to file your 2020 taxes, you don’t have to do it alone. We are here to help you realize and take advantage of every tax deduction you are entitled to. We have been filing tax returns for individuals and small businesses for more than 20 years, so we are well versed in tax laws and rules and can help save you money, time and headaches.

If the thought of filing taxes fills you with dread or stress, please call Donohoo Accounting Services at 513-528-3982. We can handle the details and ensure you are receiving the tax credits, deductions and refunds you deserve. For more tips and our latest updates, check us out on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn!

contact Donohoo Accounting

 

 

Do You Qualify for a Home Office Deduction?

If you worked from home pre-COVID or have landed a home office job since quarantine, you may be wondering if you qualify for a home office deduction on your taxes. Tax season will be here before we know it, so it’s not too soon to be thinking about these types of deductions.

The answer is maybe. Eligibility rules can be confusing, but here are some boxes you need to check to qualify:

You’re NOT a W-2 employee

Being a W-2 employee means you work for someone else who withholds income, Medicare taxes and Social Security from your paycheck. W-2 employees are NOT eligible for home office deductions.

If you are self-employed, a contract worker/freelancer, or are a 1099 employee, you may qualify for this deduction.

You have a designated workspace

The IRS says home office expenses can be deducted when the home office space is used exclusively for conducting business. A spare bedroom, room, or a nook in your basement would count. It doesn’t have to be a completely separate room and you don’t need to construct permanent partitions, but it does need to be a “separately identifiable space.” Consider arranging furniture to mark your office boundaries, or use a panel room divider, a bookcase or even a curtain.

Your space is used regularly and exclusively for work

In order to qualify, the space must be regularly used for business, and not a shared space for your personal tasks. That rules out your kitchen table. Spaces that are used only occasionally or incidentally for business don’t count either.

It’s your principal place of business

If you meet with patients, clients or customers outside of your home, your home office could still qualify if you use the space exclusively and regularly for invoicing, scheduling and other business-related tasks.

A freestanding structure on your property could also be a deduction if you have a studio, garage or barn that you work out of. If you use part of a large room in your home as your dedicated workspace you could deduct it if you figured out the percentage of your home this space accounts for.

You can calculate your home office deduction using the regular method or the simplified method.

The regular method considers the actual expenses of your home office — such as mortgage interest, insurance, repairs, depreciation, insurance and utilities — as a percentage of your whole house. The simplified option allows the qualified taxpayer to determine actual expenses by multiplying a prescribed rate by the square footage of the office space.

Donohoo Accounting Services knows that determining your eligibility for a home office deduction is confusing. We are here to help you understand the IRS rules, how they apply to you and which calculation method to use. With more than 20 years of experience in the business, we can help you find every deduction possible to reduce your tax burden. Give us a call today at 513-528-3982 for a free consultation.

contact Donohoo Accounting

 

Four Smart Tips for Building Retirement Savings

Tips for Building Retirement Savings

Saving for retirement is one of those topics many people shy away from. Do any of these reasons/excuses sound familiar? “It seems so far away … It’s overwhelming to think about … I don’t make enough money to save … I’m too young … I’m too old.”

Despite the length of your countdown to retirement, there is always time to add to your savings. After all, more is better, right? To capitalize on the time you have left before retiring, consider these four tips to enlarge your nest egg, decrease some of your worries about retirement income and perhaps even improve the quality of your life during retirement.

Set a Goal

Like any other life event that requires saving money, you need to know how much you’ll need. In other words, establish a goal. Investment advisors, friends, relatives, and even some websites will offer their advice on setting your retirement savings goal. However, only you know what kind of lifestyle you would like to maintain in retirement. And living a particular lifestyle requires an individualized budget. For example, those who wish to travel in retirement will require more savings compared to those who plan to grow backyard gardens and spend time with grandchildren. Whatever you choose, begin with the end in mind and set a realistic goal based on your individual retirement needs.

Start Saving Soon

The earlier you can begin saving, the better off you’ll be now and when it’s time to retire. The reason is that by starting early (age 18 -22), you can save a smaller amount of money each month over a longer period of time as compared to someone starting later (say, in their 40s) who has fewer years before retiring. There are plenty of examples of people beginning their retirement savings as early as age 14 while working their first job. To keep the savings hill from becoming too steep, begin as early as possible – today if possible!

Find the Money

For those wondering where to find the money to save for retirement, look around you! If you currently work for a large or mid-sized company and you’re not already participating in your employer’s 401k or other retirement savings plan, sign up right away. Many employers offer matching contributions, which is free retirement money. Additionally, consider automatically depositing 10 percent of your pay – or even better, 15 percent – each payday to a retirement savings account. Other sources for filling your retirement coffers include your annual tax refunds and money earned from a second job. Some companies now offer part-time employees ways to save for retirement including IRAs, money market accounts and stock purchase plans. So, consider a second job to build up your retirement savings.

Just Do It

With a goal, timeline and funding sources lined up, you can begin paving the way to retirement with more savings than you had at the start. Nevertheless, remember that wise counsel from experienced professionals can help uncover possible bumps in your road to retirement. If you could use some assistance mapping out your retirement savings plan, an excellent resource is an experienced accountant like those at Donohoo Accounting. Schedule your retirement savings consultation with Donohoo by calling 513-528-3982 or email us today.

Check us out on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn for our latest updates!