How To Plan For Retirement by Jeff Baugus

How To Plan For Retirement by Jeff Baugus

 

The IRS is set to begin receiving tax returns on the 27th.

That means, it’s about to get VERY busy around here. Which is exactly how we like it.

We’ve been preparing since the summer for this year’s tax return process, integrating all of the nuggets we’ve been unearthing within the “new” (as of last year) tax code that we now operate under, and we are pretty excited about putting our knowledge to work on behalf of our clients.

Set Appointment Here:

https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=16680567

So, again: there are many good reasons to get in here as early as possible. I covered them last week, but briefly:

  1. Get your (potential) refund sooner
  2. Peace-of-mind to get the paperwork monkey off your back
  3. Get ahead of the fraudsters
  4. Make any plans to get any amount owed handled without being in scramble-mode
  5. Get a jump on using the entire 2020 calendar year for effective tax planning (to save even MORE next year)
  6. Get a good spot on our calendar before it gets full!

That’s a bunch of good reasons.

Now when we DO meet with our clients, we are picking through history — we are helping you sort through your 2019 and make sure that the numbers match … AND, of course, that YOU are able to take advantage of every possible legal and ethical method to hold on to your hard-earned dollars (or sometimes receive a nice bump in your supply from a refundable tax credit).

But we also like to spend time future-casting.

That means that we get to be ones who dream with you — ones (beside you and your spouse) who focus not just on accurately recording “history” but also about the real-world implications for what life will look like down the line.

And when we do this, it makes me wonder if financial counselors do the same thing with retirement?

In fact, I know that some of them do.

But, on the chance that your particular financial planner only pays attention to the numbers, and doesn’t help you evaluate some of the other components of your retirement situation, here’s a few ideas for some practical things you can do.

Would you add anything to this list? I’d be interested in your comments…

How To Plan For Retirement by Jeff Baugus

“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

When you’ve hit a certain stage of life, you shouldn’t just plan for retirement, you should rehearse for it. 

Because retirement can last multiple decades, it’s more important than ever that “pre-retirees” (those who plan to retire in five to seven years) practice how they want to live without work as the organizational focus of their lives.

Test different living-style options

For example, many Surprise AZ people dream of selling the family home and traveling in an RV or going abroad. Practice this by renting a camper and going on the road for a long vacation. You may discover that travel is exhausting or boring to you.

The same holds true for relocation dreams. Rent a home where you think you may want to retire to see if it really is where you’d like to move. The weather may not suit you, or the community may not be your cup of tea. Work out these details before you commit to an expensive change.

Get your marriage prepared

Most couples spend much of their early years working and, thus, spending much of their time apart. It may take some time to get used to the other person’s schedule, habits, and routines.

Make sure you can live on a set budget

Most Surprise AZ retirees’ income is significantly less than their preretirement income. Add up all the Social Security benefits, pension income, and 401(k) and IRA savings to calculate what you can realistically expect to live on each month. Then live on that amount for a month to determine what changes, if any, you need to make to your plans.

I hope this all helps! Again, we’d love to dream-plan with you about this when we see you this year, even if just for a few minutes while we look over your return information.

But just know that even if that conversation isn’t something you’re ready for, we’ve got your taxes covered.

To your family’s financial and emotional peace…

 

Jeff Baugus

(623) 243-1214

Tax Beacon, LLC

Set Appointment Here:

https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=16680567

 

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2019 Tax Planning and Almost Completely True Facts About Jeff Baugus

2019 Tax Planning and Almost Completely True Facts About Jeff Baugus

Yes, here I am again — and yes, I know the W-2’s haven’t arrived, and you might not have begun to really think about little ol’ Jeff Baugus and your taxes yet. But today I want to offer you some reasons why … well, you should.

In fact, there are LOTS of good reasons.

For instance: get your refund sooner.

Set Appointment Here:

https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=16680567

Yes — I’ve written before (and will again) of the many reasons why you don’t want to “allow” your hard-earned money to be held by the US Treasury Department on your “behalf” so that they can (oh so kindly) “refund” it back to you after you file your taxes. But not everyone listens. That’s okay.

And yes, if you’re due a big refund, you might even want it sooner — and we have options that can help you do that quick.

But there are other reasons too. Reasons like…

2) Peace of Mind. Get that paperwork monkey off your back. In fact, don’t EVER let it even be on your back. Let us do the heavy lifting.

3) FRAUD. Tax time is famous for criminals grabbing Surprise AZ identities and filing fraudulent returns. The sooner YOUR returns are filed means the less risk for someone to hack your information, and take YOUR money. Get ahead of the criminals.

4) Make plans for what you might owe. This is way less fun. But you know what’s even LESS fun? Scrambling to avoid penalties in a couple weeks (or even worse — days), because the return was filed in April … and you have to make fast decisions about a big number. Yikes. (But again — we’re here for you, even then. But it isn’t fun for anyone.)

5) To start early on 2020 tax planning. Let’s clear the deck ASAP and get you as clean a slate as possible to be proactive about this year’s taxes. 2019 is already in the rearview, but we can do things NOW to help.

6) Our calendar will be getting full. The sooner you get your stuff to us, the sooner we can do our thing. And as you’ll see in a moment, you WANT us on your side.

And you might be wondering: “Should I use Jeff Baugus’ team for my taxes this year?”

Well, with apologies to a certain lawman based out of Texas named “Walker”, I have put together some very true, not-at-all-made-up FACTS which might help you answer that question.

2019 Tax Planning and Almost Completely True Facts About Jeff Baugus

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Looking for reasons to use our services this year? Try these on for size. There is even a decent chance that at least some of them are true.

1) Jeff Baugus does not sleep after tax season, but only waits.

2) When the IRS Man goes to sleep each night, he checks his closet for signs of Jeff Baugus. Carefully.

3) Jeff Baugus can lead a horse to water AND make it drink — and analyze a prior-year tax return at the same time.

4) Jeff Baugus counted to infinity — twice. The IRS is still counting.

5) When Jeff Baugus falls into the water, Jeff Baugus doesn’t get wet. Water gets Jeff Baugus. And all documentation is still preserved.

6) Jeff Baugus CAN believe it’s not butter. Treasury agents think that it is probably butter.

7) Jeff Baugus doesn’t read the tax code … but simply stares it down until the information submits.

8) Jeff Baugus can divide by zero. Legally.

9) If you look closely, you can see Jeff Baugus in every scene of Avengers EndGame. Captain America was grateful for the tax advice.

10) Jeff Baugus has never blinked over the course of life. Never. Unlike the IRS when they pick up the phone and Jeff Baugus is on the line.

11) Jeff Baugus once fixed an incorrect tax return by 
simply looking at it. With eyes of fire.

12) Jeff Baugus has never been “away” on vacation. Resort locations come to Jeff Baugus. Even during tax season.

13) Jeff Baugus never hides, but only seeks. And always on your behalf.

Don’t you feel better with Jeff Baugus on your side? Only certain parts of this are actually true, of course. But I’ll leave it to you to figure out which parts.

And all kidding aside — I want you to know how deeply we appreciate the opportunity to serve you and your family with your tax work. With tax season coming at us, it’s important that I communicate that we are so grateful for the chance to put our very specific set of skills to work on your behalf.

We’re here to help. Let me know if you have any 

Set Appointment Here:

https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=16680567questions.

 

Jeff Baugus

(623) 243-1214

Tax Beacon, LLC

Jeff Baugus’ 2019 Tax Documents List

Jeff Baugus’ 2019 Tax Documents List

The new decade is finally in full swing.

With big holidays the last couple weeks, you might be like me — this week is when the real work begins. The work of doing something NOW to start in on those goals for the year.

As I recently wrote: it’s not about the goals … intentions backed up by ACTIONS are what matter.

But wait — 2019 isn’t actually over yet.

No, I’m not stuck in the past. But hey there, it’s me, Jeff Baugus — your friendly, Surprise AZ TAX professional.

And I hate to break it to you, but we’ll be reliving your 2019 decisions here in the next few months when we complete your tax return. I hope that’s not too scary of a thought.

The very good news (if you’re my client) is that my team and I have big sleeves, and lots of tricks up in them to keep your tax bill as low as (ethically and legally) possible. And yes, that’s even if we choose together to opt for the standard deduction.

Those who know, know.

Now, the start of actual tax filing will not begin until January 27th (this is UPDATED from last week). That means that the IRS won’t be issuing refunds or otherwise officially accepting returns until that time.

And as in recent years, the IRS will delay processing (by 2-3 weeks) those income tax returns that have the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Child Tax Credit (CTC). Some shady characters have used those credits in the past for shady things (hence the issuance delays), but there ARE other options for faster refunds, if that’s something you want to explore.

So yes … living in 2019 again with good ol’ Jeff. But let’s make that process smooth, shall we? Here’s my annual list of things you should start pulling together as soon as you can…

Jeff Baugus’ 2019 Tax Documents List

“Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.”  – Henry David Thoreau

Filing your taxes on your own is not for the faint of heart. That’s even with nice-looking softwares on the market which purport to make it easy for you.

But that’s what we’re here for. Let *us* make it easy for you.

Below is a list of what you will need during the tax preparation process. Not all of them will apply to you — probably MOST will not. Nonetheless, it’s a useful checklist.

Before you get overwhelmed: yes, this is a long list — but it’s the unfortunate reality of our tax code that it’s not even comprehensive! But these items will cover 95% of our clients. Really, this is for ensuring that we’re able to help you keep every dollar you can keep under our tax code.

Also note: Certain deductions went away this year, that we’re used to handling on behalf of our clients. And some that you might be used to as well. This list has changed a little, and I’ve notated additional changes coming down the pike.

But again … we will be your guide. That’s what we’re here for.

Even if for some strange reason you won’t be using our cost-effective services this year, feel free to use this list as a handy guide…

Personal Data
Social Security Numbers (including spouse and children)
Child care provider tax I.D. or Social Security Number

Employment & Income Data
W-2 forms for this year
Tax refunds and unemployment compensation: Form 1099-G
Miscellaneous income including rent: Form 1099-MISC
Partnership and trust income
Pensions and annuities
Alimony received
Jury duty pay
Gambling and lottery winnings
Prizes and awards
Scholarships and fellowships
State and local income tax refunds
Unemployment compensation

Health Insurance Information

NOTE — As it says on the IRS health insurance information page, form 1040 will not have the “full-year health care coverage or exempt” box and Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, will no longer be used. You need not make a shared responsibility payment or file Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, with your tax return if you don’t have minimum essential coverage for part or all of 2019.

* All 1095-A Forms from Marketplace providers (if you purchased insurance through a Marketplace)
* Records of credits and/or advance payments received from the Premium Tax Credit (if claiming)

Homeowner/Renter Data
Residential address(es) for this year
Mortgage interest: Form 1098
Sale of your home or other real estate: Form 1099-S
Second mortgage interest paid
Real estate taxes paid
Rent paid during tax year
Moving expenses (if in active military, and moving for new orders)
Reimbursements for moving (counts as ordinary income)

Financial Assets
Interest income statements: Form 1099-INT & 1099-OID
Dividend income statements: Form 1099-DIV
Proceeds from broker transactions: Form 1099-B
Retirement plan distribution: Form 1099-R
Capital gains or losses

Financial Liabilities
Auto loans and leases (account numbers and car value) if vehicle used for business
Student loan interest paid
Early withdrawal penalties on CDs and other fixed time deposits

Automobiles
Personal property tax information
Department of Motor Vehicles fees

Expenses
Gifts to charity (receipts for any single donations of $250 or more)
Unreimbursed expenses related to volunteer work
Investment expenses
Job-hunting expenses
Education expenses (tuition and fees)
Child care expenses
Medical Savings Accounts
Adoption expenses

Self-Employment Data
Estimated tax vouchers for the current year
Self-employment tax
Self-employment SEP plans
Self-employed health insurance
K-1s on all partnerships
Receipts or documentation for business-related expenses
Farm income

Deduction Documents
State and local income taxes (note: $10,000 limit, as last year)
IRA, Keogh and other retirement plan contributions
Medical expenses
Other miscellaneous deductions

An important thing to understand is that we will guide you through the process, and that although much has changed this year, we are on top of these changes on your behalf.

We’re here to help. Let me know if you have any questions.

 

Jeff Baugus

(623) 243-1214

Tax Beacon, LLC

Jeff Baugus’ Annual Holiday Prayer

Jeff Baugus’ Annual Holiday Prayer

One week left in the year to take full advantage of the Arizona Tax Credit AND claim the donation on your federal tax return.

Before I write more about that, now is the time to click on the following link and book your appointment for 2020. Of course, you are still welcome to just drop off your information as well and we will get to work on it!

Set Appointment Here:

https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=16680567

The Tax Credit

Arizona tax credits are available for those who live in AZ. There are up to $4,469 in tax credits available for married filing joint returns.  If you donate prior to 12/31, you can get a dollar for dollar tax credit toward your AZ tax liability AND can deduct the donation on your federal tax return as well.

The key to receiving the credit is that you must have a tax liability to AZ of at least the amount of the donation.  This is not a refundable tax credit so if your total liability for AZ was only $1,000 and you donate $2,000, you could only use up to $1,000 of the tax credit to reduce your tax liability.

In order to also claim this donation on your federal tax return you would have to donate by 12/31/2019, and of course you would need to itemize on your federal return.  

The standard deduction for 2019 is $24,400. So, if things like your mortgage interest, state and property taxes, and donations are above $24,400 then you could get the full benefit of the federal deduction and the state tax credit.

Here are the 4 categories that you can donate to and when added together come up to the max donations of $4,469 for married filing joint, half this amount for single filers.

 

  1. Private School tuition $2,269.  This is great if you have someone you know that has their kids attend private school.  You can help them pay their tuition through this donation and they are extremely grateful.
  2. Public School donation $400.  This can be to any public school or district and can be directed to a specific club or student to help pay for extracurricular activities like drama, band, sports, etc.
  3. Qualified Charitable Organization $800. See list from link below
  4. Qualified Charitable Foster Organization $1,000.  See list.  

Find more about these credits at https://azdor.gov/tax-credits.  

Find list of QCO and QFCO at https://azdor.gov/tax-credits/contributions-qcos-and-qfcos

 

Feel free to reach out to me directly at jeff@taxbeacon.us if you would like to know for sure if you can take full advantage of these credits.

 

Jeff Baugus’ “Real World” Personal Strategy Note

Jeff Baugus’ Annual Holiday Prayer

“There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.” – William Butler Yeats

“God, help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.

“Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can’t make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.

“Remind us, Lord, that the scary-looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares …

“Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slowly through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together.

“Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to just those who are close to us, but to all humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience, empathy and love.

Amen.”

Warmly,

 

Jeff Baugus

(623) 243-1214

 

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How Year-End Giving Changes You by Jeff Baugus

How Year-End Giving Changes You by Jeff Baugus

We’re almost done with 2019, cue the fireworks. It’s been a tough year for many (including some of our clients), and you might be eagerly looking forward to that calendar change.

Shoot, we’re about to set forth into an entirely new DECADE. It’s as good a time as any to consider making some serious shifts in your atmosphere.

If nonprofit orgs were smart, they would be running “decade-end” campaigns, instead of year-end giving campaigns, simply to ride that hopefulness that this new decade (might) bring.

And yes, I’m obviously aware that the “year-end” thing is for tax considerations. This is my job after all.

By the way, when I talk about the hopefulness of 2020, I’m not even touching the political arena right now. Keeps me sane, and focused on serving my Surprise AZ clients come tax season … which is right around the corner.

I promise I’m going somewhere with all of this. It’s time to shift the atmosphere. It might ALSO be time to save on your 2019 taxes. And I have an idea that might do both in one fell swoop.

How Year-End Giving Changes You by Jeff Baugus

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” -Hamilton Wright Mabie

When you write a check to a worthy cause, you do more than just “give”. There’s more to it than a tax deduction, and more to it than adding value to whichever organization you happen to support.

You see, when you do so, something happens within your unconscious soul, that sends a powerful signal to your lizard brain, the part of you that operates from fear and instinct. You show yourself that you aren’t ruled by your bank balances or your desires. You show your innermost being that you have well more than “enough”.

And I’ll tell you what I’ve seen more often than not from my Surprise AZ clients who do this: even more money seems to find itself in your hands.

Look … this isn’t some “prosperity scheme” or a magic secret formula. I’m merely pointing out what I’ve observed over the years of watching client finances, and what happens when people make an effort to be charitable.

Money seems to find itself with those who are willing to give it away.

Those who choose to give are often those who, when they look back on the past decade, realize that they made a decision to give more, and years later, they are in a far better financial position than when they gave less. Coincidence?

But the MAIN reason is not because “give and you will receive” … I’d say the main, best reason is that you find yourself set free from the money fears that might rule you.

Why else should you give?

There are a couple of other good reasons I can think of:

You create for yourself a network of people and organizations who are grateful. I’ve seen this dynamic at play in the business arena as well. When you are openhanded, someone to whom you’ve donated or given (be it time, money, connections, or other resources) eventually comes back to you with something you need, at just the right time.

When you act or give generously, it’s the most powerful form of networking on the planet. Obviously, there are better, less self-interested reasons to give … but there are certainly worse ones.

You realize that your circumstances really aren’t as tough as you might think. This is especially true when you don’t just give financially, but also of your time and heart.

Sometimes giving to institutions that work with the poor can bring home an appreciation of your actual enormous wealth. And it can also bring home the awareness of a personal poverty that isn’t solved by adding zeroes to a bank balance. If you do it right, you are changed for the better.

With these reasons, AND the monetary benefits to your tax return, I urge you: stretch yourself this month. Give more than you think you should. See what happens.

And let’s talk in 2029 about what happened when you did.

All this said, I firmly advocate for being careful with your implementation of how you give. I don’t suggest impulsivity, just some measured risk-taking.

But don’t risk losing out on the tax advantages to gifting appreciated stock, or other, less common, forms of gifting. Shoot me an email through the email button at the top of the page, or give us a call ((623) 243-1214) if you want to discuss the tax implications of your year-end giving.

It is, after all, what we do.

Special Arizona Tax Credit information coming up later this week, stay tuned!

Warmly,

 

Jeff Baugus

(623) 243-1214

Tax Beacon, LLC

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