Richard A. Lindsey, CPA

Lindsey & Waldo, LLC – Certified Public Accountants

  • Oct 30

    According to the article “Donald Trump’s tax plan would help the poorest Americans” on www.cbsnews.com, the Republican presidential candidate’s tax plan is both “really, really good for Donald Trump” and at the same time “should put more money in the pockets of the poorest Americans.”

    Guess what happens when you take less from both ends of the spectrum…

    That’s right; the ones in the middle get SQUEEZED like a fresh orange at the Florida Welcome Center.

    Assuming, of course, that the plan is revenue neutral and most commentators say that, despite Trump’s claims otherwise, it just isn’t so. Most tax experts say that in order to reduce the revenue collected from the poorest and the richest American, severe tax cuts are required. The conservative Tax Foundation estimates that Trump’s plan would decrease revenues by nearly $12 trillion dollars over the next decade and increase the debt by over $10 trillion.

    So what do the lowest-income Americans pay? Well, if you looked strictly at the standard deduction and exemptions, a single person should start paying taxes when they earn more than $10,300 and double that for a couple. However, when you take into account the benefit many lower-income earners receive from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit, the basic rule of thumb, according to the Tax Policy Center’s Elaine Maag, is that a family of four doesn’t start owing income taxes until their income is about twice the poverty level.

    Last month, The Tax Policy Center reported that 77.5 million households won’t pay any income tax in 2015 out of a total of 171.3 million.

    That’s 45.3 percent of American households!

    That figure is up roughly five percentage points from the Center’s 2013 estimate of 40.4 percent.

    Maag told CBS News that, under Trump’s plan, “most people could earn more money without owing taxes and not be worse off than under current law since they would still get their refundable EITC and CTC.”

    The downside to such a “generous” plan, according to the article, “is that it comes at a high cost to the U.S. Government.” REALLY? And where do you think the government gets “its” money?

    Americans are generous people, but can we afford for our government to be generous on our behalf? Generous to the American poor, generous to the foreign poor, generous to the rich, generous to our soldiers, generous to those who support us, generous to those who don’t, generous to… everyone?

  • Oct 15

    It didn’t take long for her business to fold.

    She was 22 years old, passionate, excited and a first time business owner.

    Why was she forced to close the doors?

    Not the reason you might expect: lack of sales.

    She went out of business because she didn’t keep good records. Records for taxes, budgeting, and cash flow.

    Depending on your personal experience, it may or may not surprise you that poor recordkeeping is one of the top reasons for business failure.

    Taking care of billing, tracking your expenses, taxes, and other financial housekeeping can seem overwhelming, stressful, or just plain boring for new business owners.

    Even for those who’ve been in business a while it is often one of their least favorite things to do. So it’s easy to coast along thinking everything is hunky dory – that’s a technical term – until WHAM! All of a sudden you discover sales are down by 20 percent and expenses are up by 15.

    Getting and keeping your financial house in order makes things not only less stressful, but can help ensure that you don’t overspend and that you have enough money for your savings, investments and retirement.

    Here are five tips for getting your financial house in order.

     

    1. Get some advice. I know, I know, it sounds self serving but, if you’ve never been in business for yourself, or if you struggle with managing your finances, get some advice. It could be the smartest investment you make in your business, and one that could prove crucial to your survival.
    2. Create a budget. Yes, I know it’s not exciting or sexy. You want to get out there and sell, do, or make whatever you started your business to do. But, IT IS NECESSARY! Be very conservative. Plan for the worst case scenario, not the best.
    3. Track everything. Keeping track of income, expenses, invoices, past due customers, estimated taxes, payroll, etc. can feel daunting at times; however, not doing it can lead to financial ruin or legal hot water. There are plenty of financial tools out there. The QuickBooks you’re already using can be used as a dashboard if you keep it up to date.
    4. Put aside money with every deposit. Put aside a portion of every deposit you make for savings, taxes, and charitable contributions. There are more reasons than I have room to address for why you should save for a rainy day. Included are some real psychological benefits for doing so.
    5. Plan for your retirement. When you are a small business owner, there is no one else to fund your retirement. Even if you’re 22 years old and passionate when you start, that’s not necessarily going to provide you retirement funds when you’re 72. Setting up a retirement plan can also shelter some of your business profits. Start with an IRA then graduate to a SIMPLE plan or Keogh.

     

    Integrate these tips into your business and you’ll find it easier to get and keep your financial house in order; therefore making your business less stressful.

  • Oct 2

    A tax return is nothing more than a report about what happened last year. After the year is over, there’s generally not much you can do to change what happened. Tax planning though, is looking forward. What can we do differently from this point forward to save on taxes?

    Like Benjamin Franklin said: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” — it’s always better to be prepared BEFORE you hit the deadline. In the tax world, this relates to tax planning (which reminds me: have you come in to see us yet, before the end of the year, so you can do that? Call 251-633-4070 to set up an appointment, if not).

    But in larger cases, the best kind of preparation takes more than just taxes into account.

    Many well meaning people think that estate plans are for someone else, not them. (Our tax clients hopefully know different.) They may rationalize that they are too young, or don’t have enough money to reap the tax benefits of a plan. But as the following list makes clear, estate planning is for everyone, regardless of age or net worth.

    Here are my NINE reasons why you should consider this right now…

     

    1. Loss of capacity. What if you become incompetent and unable to manage your own affairs? Without a plan, the courts will select the person to manage your affairs. With a plan, you pick that person (through a power of attorney).
    2. Minor children. Who will raise your children if you die? Without a plan, a court will make that decision. With a plan, you are able to nominate the guardian of your choice.
    3. Dying without a will. Who will inherit your assets? Without a plan, your assets pass to your heirs according to your state’s laws of intestacy (dying without a will). Your family members (and perhaps not the ones you would choose) will receive your assets without the benefit of your direction, or of trust protection. With a plan, you decide who gets your assets, and when and how they receive them.
    4. Blended families. What if your family is the result of multiple marriages? Without a plan, children from different marriages may not be treated as you would wish. With a plan, you determine what goes to your current spouse, and to the children from a prior marriage or marriages.
    5. Children with special needs. Without a plan, a child with special needs risks being disqualified from receiving Medicaid or SSI benefits, and may have to use his or her inheritance to pay for care. With a plan, you can set up a Supplemental Needs Trust that will allow the child to remain eligible for government benefits while using the trust assets to pay for non-covered expenses.
    6. Keeping assets in the family. Would you prefer that your assets stay in your own family? Without a plan, your child’s spouse may wind up with your money if your child passes away prematurely. If your child divorces his or her current spouse, half of your assets could go to the spouse. With a plan, you can set up a trust that ensures that your assets will stay in your family and, for example, pass to your grandchildren.
    7. Financial security. Will your spouse and children be able to survive financially? Without a plan and the income replacement provided by life insurance, your family may be unable to maintain its current living standard. With a plan, life insurance can mean that your family will enjoy financial security.
    8. Retirement accounts. Do you have an IRA or similar retirement account? Without a plan, your designated beneficiary for the retirement account funds may not reflect your current wishes, and may result in burdensome tax consequences for your heirs (although the rules regarding the designation of a beneficiary have been eased considerably). With a plan, you can choose the optimal beneficiary.
    9. Avoiding probate. Without a plan, your estate may be subject to delays and excess fees (depending on the state), and your assets will be a matter of public record. With a plan, you can structure things so that probate can be avoided entirely.