Should You Fund Your IRA or Roth IRA First?

If you’re trying to decide whether it makes the most sense to fund your IRA or Roth IRA first, you’re not alone. This is a question many people face and often struggle to answer. Since we’ve talked to plenty of clients about this issue, we want to share exactly what you need to know to make the best decision for your personal situation:

The Basic Differences

Before we look at where you should contribute, it’s worth doing a quick refresher of what sets these individual retirement accounts apart. Both were created by the federal government to encourage people to save. With a traditional IRA, the amount you contribute immediately reduces your income tax for the year. Then after you retire and begin withdrawing the money, you’ll pay taxes on that income. With a Roth IRA, you pay the income tax when you contribute but are then able to withdraw from it tax-free after retirement.

Deciding Based on Your Stage of Life

Although these savings vehicles are similar, there is a very big difference in how they affect an individual’s taxes. That’s why the answer of which account you should contribute to first will depend on where you’re at in life. If you’re under the age of thirty, it’s probably going to be in your best interest to put some after-tax money into a Roth IRA. The reason is you’re likely paying a relatively low tax rate, which means a tax break won’t help you as much.

If you’re between the age of thirty and fifty, chances are you have things like a home mortgage deduction, a child tax credit or two and the benefits of filing as one half of a married couple. This may make it seem like traditional IRA contributions should be your primary focus. However, many people in this bracket still pay a relatively low tax rate, which means that Roth IRA contributions can still work best. An additional selling point of Roth IRA contributions is if you ever need to withdraw money you put into it, you can do so without facing any penalties or additional taxes.

For those over the age of fifty, first maxing out your annual traditional IRA contributions are the best course of action. The one exception is anyone who’s at least 71 and still working. For individuals in this situation, Roth IRA contributions can create an appealing stockpile for down the line.

As you may have realized from what we covered above, the optimal account for contributions can actually change from one year to the next. Needing to take a dynamic approach to planning for your financial future is just one example of why it’s so beneficial to have a knowledgeable financial professional on your side. If you want to learn more about how Donohoo Accounting can help, be sure to take a look at our tax services page.

Preparing for a Big Accounting Job Interview

Whether you’re searching for your first accounting job out of school or are in the process of looking for the next step in your accounting career, doing well during job interviews are a key part of reaching your goal. Although it’s completely normal to be a little nervous about a big job interview, the good news is there are clear steps you can take to prepare.

As far as what to expect during an accounting job interview, behavioral interviews are commonly used throughout the industry. The focus of this type of interview technique is to learn about your past behavior and use that as a way to evaluate what can be expected from you in the future. During this type of interview, you can expect questions that focus on your core competencies. Another important thing to keep in mind about behavioral interviews is they pose questions in the form of a situation, action, and result.

Now that you know a little bit more about what to expect during an accounting job interview, we want to share some actual examples that may come up:

Deadlines and Details

Given that deadlines and details both play important roles in the professional lives of accountants, expect questions about these topics. With the former, you may be asked to provide an example of a time when you had various tasks to complete in order to meet accounting deadlines. And for details, you may be asked about what steps you take to ensure that your work is completed with full attention to detail.

Communication and Teamwork

When people outside the industry think of accounting, they often picture individuals who are poring over spreadsheets on their own. While accounting does involve plenty of independent work, communication is still essential within a company or firm of any size. The same is true for teamwork. That’s why behavioral interviews for accounting jobs tend to include questions about these topics. You may be asked to describe experiences where you effectively communicated within your department, with someone in a different department or with a client.

Solving Problems and Setting Goals

If you’re looking for your first accounting job, you can expect to encounter plenty of situations that require problem-solving once you land it. And if you’re already in the accounting field, you’re well aware of why problem-solving is such an important skill. The same is true for setting goals and being able to contribute to hitting goals set by the organization. As you prepare for your accounting job interview, think of examples of situations that required problem-solving, along with other occasions when you worked towards a personal or organizational goal.

By giving yourself time to prepare and keeping the topics we covered above in mind, you’ll be in the best position to do great during your accounting job interview!

What You Need to Know About Tax Extensions

Although it’s always best if you can get your return filed on time, there are plenty of situations that come up which prevent people from being able to file their tax return by the date it’s due. These types of delays are actually quite common with professions like securities traders. One of the reasons that traders tend to struggle with hitting the tax filing deadline is they face more complexity than employees with easy-to-report W-2 income, portfolio income, and itemized deductions. Traders have involved trade accounting issues, trader tax status analysis and reporting strategies, business vs. investment expenses and other unique considerations.

 

Whether you’re a trader, business owner or just someone who needs time to get everything together required for filing your tax return, here are some helpful tips on getting an extension to file:

 

The Automatic Six-Month Extension

 

The simplest way to get the extra time you need to complete and file your tax return is by using Form 4868. Known as the Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File US Individual Income Tax Return, this form doesn’t require a reason to request an extension. However, it’s very important to understand that what the form gives you is an extension of time to file a complete tax return, not an extension of time to pay taxes owed. Even if you use this form, you will still want to estimate and report what you think you owe based on your tax information received.

 

Understanding State and Federal Penalties for Being Late

 

On the same form mentioned above, you can see a detailed explanation of federal late-payment penalties and late-filing penalties, including how to request penalty abatement. While it’s best if you can pay the full amount of what you think you owe, paying something is better than not paying anything. A general rule of thumb is the late-filing penalty is ten times more than the late-payment penalty. That’s why even if you can’t pay in full, you should file your tax return or extension and pay as much as you can.

 

Do You Need to File Quarterly Taxes?

 

After going through the process of filing for an extension and then getting your tax return filed within the six-month window, you may decide that you want to avoid going through this additional stress again. One option for individuals like traders, business owners and freelancers is to make quarterly estimated tax payments during the year to avoid underestimated tax penalties

 

If you need help with an extension or any other aspect of your taxes, you can have a free consultation with a member of the Donohoo Accounting team by calling 513-528-3982.

How to Reduce Your Tax Bill in 3 Simple Steps

No one wants to find themselves in a position where they owe additional taxes. This is why we always encourage individuals to think about their tax liability throughout the year. By keeping your taxes in mind, you can take strategic actions like pre-paying your next mortgage payment or making a charitable donation. While these are just a couple of examples of how you can reduce what you owe in taxes each year, they do have a deadline. If you don’t take these actions in a timely manner, you won’t be able to reap any benefits until your next tax filing.

Although we encourage staying on top of your taxes all year, we understand that life gets busy. There are plenty of situations where people have plans to take strategic actions, only to end up missing the deadline. If you find yourself in this situation and wish there was something you could do to help offset what you may owe in taxes, you’ll be happy to learn that there a few options available. Even if you find yourself getting down to the wire with the deadline to file your taxes, here are three different ways you can still reduce what you owe:

1. HSA Contributions

Does your health coverage include an HSA-eligible health insurance plan? If so, making a contribution as a family or individual can provide you with a deduction worth several thousand dollars. Just keep in mind that there have been quite a few changes in recent years as to exactly which plans are eligible, which is why it’s always a good idea to check with a tax professional first.

2. American Opportunity Tax Credit

If you’re the parent of a college student, the American Opportunity tax credit is a break you won’t want to miss. It’s worth up to $2,500 per eligible student for the first four years of college. The reason you can claim this credit even when time is coming down to the wire is all you need is a Form 1098-T, which will provide the EIN you need to include on your return.

3. (SEP) IRA Contribution

Whether you work for a company or are self-employed, you can reduce what you owe in taxes by making an IRA contribution. If you are self-employed and file an extension, you can make your contribution up until your return is officially filed.

At Donohoo Accounting Services, we understand the stress that can go along with planning and filing taxes. That’s why we offer tax planning and tax return preparation services. If you want to work with a team that has over two decades of tax experience, call us at 513-528-3982 for a free consultation.