10 Steps to help protect a spouse:

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I am stealing this from AARP because I thought it was good information worth sharing with some additional comments from me.

You can greatly ease the burden on a surviving spouse by discussing financial matters today. Here are some steps to get your affairs in order. Don’t leave your spouse to figure stuff out after your death. As if it isn’t hard enough, trying to organize and handle financial details of a passing spouse can be a nightmare if you don’t spend a little time organizing in advance.

1> Gather financial papers. Store deeds, titles, passports, insurance policies and other important documents in at least a fire-proof safe if not in a safe deposit box where both of you have access. The eliminates the need to wonder where everything is and have your found ALL of the important documents while dealing with the grief of losing someone.

2> Compile a must call list with contact information for your accountant, lawyer and other financial professionals who need to be made aware of a spouse’s passing

3> Share passwords. AARP suggest a master list of all user names and passwords so your spouse can still have access after your death. I am not a fan of master lists that can be found by who knows who. We suggest a password keeper such as One Password or Last Pass where you can store all of your login information and keep it secure with one master password that you both know. The subscriptions to these apps are very affordable and a much safer way of saving the information and updating it as you have reason to change passwords along the way.

4> Update beneficiaries. Make sure your beneficiary designation of your pension, 401(k), IRA, brokerage accounts and life insurance policies still reflect your wishes. You need designated beneficiaries on your IRA accounts. They cannot be put in a trust or addressed in a will alone. You MUST name beneficiaries, real people, on your IRA accounts.

5> Check your credit cards. Make sure your name is on the credit card account.

Think about these first 5 and act on the ones you need to today. Another 5 will be in tomorrows post.

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Need old tax records? You have options

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If you’re trying to track down past tax documents and other important IRS transcripts, you’re in luck. Tax return transcripts for the current tax year and the prior three years (10 years for account transcripts) are available from the IRS and free. They can be viewed online or sent to your home. They typically serve as acceptable forms of proof of income for loans, mortgages and financial aid.

If you’re looking for other records besides returns, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) document request is probably want you need. This is a good place to start if you have past due tax returns that need to be filed or are at odds with the IRS regarding an audit decision.

Employers, stay payroll-compliant!

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Third-quarter payroll reports are due this month, making it a great month for employers to check in on their payroll compliance practices.
 
To make sure you’re withholding the correct amount of income tax, maintain current Forms W-4 for each employee. Remember, you’re responsible for remitting the withholding on time as part of your payroll tax deposits. Timing for federal deposits can be next day, semi-monthly, monthly or quarterly depending on the total amount of employment taxes owed.
Keep in mind that more than half of the states require a separate form for state withholding.

Time passes too quickly

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So, it’s fall already. The years just seem to scream by now. There are 3 months left in 2018 to review how your business did in this past year. What went really well? What were the challenges? What do you want 2019 to look like?

Most business owners don’t seem to find the time to have these thoughtful moments that can lead to positive planning, can generate really great ideas on what to change, allow for review of your recent history so you can pilot your future. I know, it happens to me too, but seriously, isn’t that a key element to running a successful business?

There is power in focus and clarity, building a plan with strategies and action items for sure. But what is really the most powerful aspect of this process is connecting with a vision, knowing the ins and outs of getting there and keeping that vision close so every decision is weighed against whether or not it gets you closer to the vision.

Make an appointment with yourself, your staff, your mentors and really think about your business and what will propel it forward. Write it down, yes with pen and paper because something happens with the brain when you write it down, Let your mind freely consider what you want to see with your business and then start building the yellow brick road that will take you to that green city.

Business Coaching is powerful!! We offer that and you will be amazed at the results.

tricia@oconnorcpafirm.com

Make sure you’ve got a plan for your RMDs

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Do you have a handle on your retirement plan distributions? If not, you could be faced with penalties or higher taxes. Consider these tips.

After all the advice you’ve received about saving for retirement, taking money out of your traditional IRAs and other qualified retirement plans may feel strange. Yet once you reach 70½, the required minimum distribution (RMD) rules say you have to do just that.

Under these rules, you must withdraw at least a minimum amount from your retirement plans each year. Since the withdrawals are considered ordinary income, planning in advance can help you prepare for the impact on your tax return. Here some planning tips:

• 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. Say for instance, you have one 401(k) and one IRA. You have to figure the RMD for each and take separate distributions.

Why is that important? Failing to take distributions, or taking less than is required, could result in a penalty of 50 percent of the shortfall.

• Plan your required beginning date. In general, you’re required to withdraw RMDs by Dec. 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.

• Consider the ramifications of delaying your income. Delaying income can be a sound tax move. But because you’ll still have to take your second distribution by Dec. 31, you’ll receive two distributions in the same year, which can increase your taxes.

Give us a call if you have questions about your RMDs and how they’ll affect your taxes. We can help you create a sound distribution plan.

You can give us some basic information by using our typeform. Give it a try, it is easy and gets the conversation going.  Give us some basic Information to get the conversation started

You’re child wants to start a business. Now what?

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Not sure how to help your child get their business off the ground? These tips can help.

Has your child asked for your help with starting a business? If the answer’s yes, chances are you may not know where to start.

Since the failure rate for new businesses is high, it would be supportive for you to do whatever you can to increase your child’s chances of success. That includes considering the following:

• Find out what groundwork has already been done. Before involving yourself, find out how much time, thought and effort your child has already devoted to the proposed business.

If the enterprise is no more than an idea, you can suggest approaches to researching the market and determining the resources, knowledge and skills that will be needed. However, your input should be limited to guidance and ideas. Your child should do the work.

Once your child has completed the necessary groundwork, and if the project still seems reasonably feasible, you’ll be ready to consider the next steps.

• Help your child stay motivated. To succeed, your child must be motivated. They make like the idea of self-employment but lose interest when confronted with the realities of planning and preparation.

• Determine what kind of financial support you’ll offer (if asked). Whether you’re making a loan or buying an ownership interest, never put up more money than you can comfortably afford to lose.

Try not to be the sole source of capital. Make it clear that you’ll lend or invest a specific amount and no more. You also may wish to set restrictions on the use of the funds within the business. Risk is part of the business experience, and your child should have some personal assets at stake.

• Put everything in writing. Specifically, loans should be supported by signed notes that include repayment terms and require interest at market rates. Investments should be supported by partnership agreements, shareholder agreements or similar documents that describe operating arrangements, profit and loss sharing, buyout provisions and closing contingencies.

• Don’t forget tax planning. You’ll probably want to allocate any taxable income to your child, and you certainly will want to be able to write off your loss if the business goes bad. Proper documentation will be paramount, since the IRS closely scrutinizes family transactions.

If you’re thinking about helping your child get started in a business, give us a call. We can offer guidelines to fit your particular circumstances.

I really HATE scammers!

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I received a “2018 – Periodic Report Instruction Form: from Workplace Compliance Services….Never heard of them…

It looks official, but there is no website and the document is not even clear on what they do for you or what the form is for. Pretty sure this is a scam and a ton of businesses send them $85 for nothing. A Google search did not yield any sites that looked official.

Don’t fall for this. Call your state and find out what this is about before you send anyone money for which you are not certain what it is for. I think you will find that Colorado does not require this and these people are scum trying to scam you out of $85.