Alpha’s Tax Tips

Passing the Social Security Benefits Earnings Test

A big reason experts advise waiting until at least full retirement age to claim Social Security: You get to skip the benefits earnings test, which hits early claimers who are still working. But there are actually two earnings tests – and the second test can help early retirees leaving work midyear avoid the trap. The […]

Paying Capital Gains Tax Twice Isn’t Nice

If you’ve invested in mutual funds, you have probably realized capital gains and dividends from your investments over the years. Strategy: Don’t overpay your tax liability when you sell mutual fund shares. Despite improvements in digital record keeping, it’s still easy to inadvertently pay tax twice on mutual fund distributions when you’ve reinvested proceeds. For […]

Extend 529 Plan Tax Benefits

Did you set up your Section 529 account for a child who is graduating in May? It doesn’t mean that the good times have to end. Strategy: Roll over any unused funds into an account for another child. The rollover is completely exempt from tax. In other words, you don’t have to shut down the […]

Drive Up Biz Car Write-Offs

The tax code allows most business drivers to benefit from a convenient standard mileage rate. But the fastest and easiest way isn’t always the best way. Strategy: Compare the standard mileage rate results to your actual costs. Despite the extra recordkeeping hassles, the actual expense method may produce a much bigger annual deduction, if you […]

Tax Refund Direct Deposit

Having your refund deposited directly is the fastest way to get the money. The IRS pays most refunds within 21 days, but some refunds will be held up. Filers claiming the earned income tax credit or refundable child credit will have to wait until at least early March for their refunds, or even later if […]

Prepare to meet your tax ‘maker’

The days of you dropping a shoebox of receipts and records on the desk of your tax return preparer are hopefully long gone.  Not only can this cost you extra time and money, but it may also result in inaccuracies or omissions on your personal return. Strategy: Help your tax return preparer help you.  In […]

The American Opportunity Tax Credit

You should know the rules if planning to claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit. It’s worth up to $2,500 per student for each of the first four years of college. The break is based on 100% of the first $2,000 spent on qualifying college expenses and 25% of the next $2,000. For 2019, it begins […]

Does your rental property qualify for the QBI deduction?

Have income from rental properties you own? You may be eligible to take a juicy tax break: The 20% qualified business income deduction. Subject to a litany of rules, self-employed individuals and owners of S corporations, partnerships and LLCs can write of 20% of their qualified business income. QBI is your allocable share of income […]

Opportunity zone program

IRS’s opportunity zone program is under way. It allows taxpayers to defer capital gains from the sale of business or personal property by investing the proceeds in opportunity funds to help development of low-income communities. This incentive was enacted under the new tax law, and many expect the program to be very popular. New IRS […]

How long should you keep individual tax returns?

One question we get asked a lot: How long to keep individual tax returns? You should keep your returns at least three years. As a general rule, that’s how long the Service has to question items on your return and to bill you for any additional tax. It’s also the time frame for you to […]