March 9, 2020

March Newsletter

Here are your Articles for March 9, 2020.

Inspector General Warns Public about Widespread Social Security Scam Texts
The Inspector General of Social Security, Gail S. Ennis, is warning of a new tactic by government imposters to reach — and victimize — Americans by phone. We have received reports of text messages on cell phones that appear to come from Social Security. The texts warn about a Social Security number problem. They ask the recipient to call a number back to resolve the problem and avoid legal action.

This trick appears to be the latest development in continuing widespread scams meant to deceive Americans into providing money and personal information to scammers. Social Security will never send a text asking for a return call to an unknown number. Social Security will only send text messages if you have opted in to receive texts from the agency and only in limited situations, including the following:

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Proposed regs. issued on meal and entertainment expense deductions
In REG-100814-19, the IRS issued proposed rules clarifying that taxpayers may generally continue to deduct 50% of the food and beverage expenses associated with operating their trade or business, despite changes to the meal and entertainment expense deduction under Sec. 274 made by the tax law known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), P.L. 115-97. It noted that the proposed rules generally follow Notice 2018-76 with a few changes or clarifications in response to comments. It also said taxpayers may rely on the guidance in the notice until the regulations are finalized. According to the IRS, when it issued the notice, the TCJA amendments specifically deny deductions for expenses for entertainment, amusement, or recreation, but they do not address the deductibility of expenses for business meals. This omission created much confusion in the business community until the IRS issued the notice.

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Clients Beware: 7 Tax Scams to Watch Out for in 2020
‘Tis the season for tax scams. As the time for filing 2019 tax returns fast approaches, the IRS is again warning taxpayers and tax practitioners alike to watch out for several prevalent tax scams. Each year, thousands of people lose millions of dollars, not to mention their personal information, in these schemes. Scammers might use the regular mail, telephone or email to set up their victims.

Typically, the new scams are variations on old themes but are even slicker than before and harder to detect. Here are seven common examples:

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Using strong password is a strong defense against identity thieves
Two things taxpayers can do to prevent themselves from identity theft is to use strong passwords and keep those passwords secure.

While many people use fingerprint or facial recognition technology to protect their devices, sometimes it’s still necessary to use a password. In recent years, cybersecurity experts’ recommendations on what constitutes a strong password has changed. With that in mind, here are four tips for building a better password:

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A snapshot of the tax laws that affect your return
Tax law changes likely affected your returns last year. The changes to many individual provisions are still scheduled to be temporary and are set to expire in 2025. With one year of the changes behind us, it is a good time to work with your CPA to minimize your tax liability and enhance your financial position.

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Do Your Kids Need a Roth IRA?

RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS aren’t only for adults. In fact, using a Roth IRA for kids can be an excellent way to not only give children a head start on retirement savings, but also provide a source of cash for college, homeownership or other expenses.

“I would strongly encourage parents to open (one) up for their kids,” says Tim Sullivan, CEO of financial planning firm Strategic Wealth Advisors Group in Utica, Michigan.

Roth IRAs are funded with after-tax dollars, but they grow tax-free and money can be withdrawn tax-free after age 59 ½. Earnings withdrawn prior to age 59 ½ may be subject to a 10% tax penalty. However, contributions may be accessed early without any tax or penalties, making this a versatile way for young people to save money for a variety of future expenses.

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IRS Issues New Regs on Deducting Meal and Entertainment Expenses
From golf outings and spa trips to baseball games and box seats at the opera, business-related entertainment expenses paid or incurred after 2017 generally aren’t deductible under current law. But certain exceptions may apply. In February, the IRS published proposed regulations that clarify when business meals and entertainment expenses can and can’t be deducted, including many helpful examples.

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Explore Estate Planning Alternatives to Stretch IRAs
Recent changes to the tax law have diminished the tax-saving potency of stretch-IRAs. But there are still other tax-smart ways to transfer wealth to your loved ones. This article highlights six wealth-transfer tools for you to consider. It also explains why it may be prudent to make estate-planning moves today — before the current taxpayer-friendly rules expire or are retroactively altered.

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Tax Consequences of Borrowing From a Retirement Plan
Under some circumstances, you can borrow from your retirement account, depending on the type of plan you have. But should you? Only if you’re aware of the tax consequences and the implications a loan can have on your future retirement funds. This article answers some questions about how much you can borrow, whether the interest is deductible and other issues to consider before signing loan documents.

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Ten Potential Mistakes to Avoid in Estate Planning
Trying to save money by handling your own estate planning can be a major mistake. You need legal documents that reflect the nuances of your life and changing circumstances. Making errors can mean your wishes won’t be carried out. Here is a list of 10 potential mistakes that some people make when they don’t get professional guidance.

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