Monthly Archives: January 2015

What is a 529 College Savings Plan?

Today saving for college is more critical than ever before. Tuition and fees are already at all-time highs and the cost is only looking to increase in coming years. The 529 college savings plan is one of the most effective methods for parents interested in investing for their children to go to college.

The 529 college savings plans allow families to set aside funds for their children to go to college. Most states have at least one plan available, though each individual state offers different features and benefits to the plans they offer.

Why invest in a 529 college plan?

As long as the plan in your state follows certain federal guidelines, parents who invest in a 529 college savings plan are eligible for certain federal tax benefits. Depending on the plan you purchase and the state where you live, you may also qualify for tax benefits on the state level too.

The ultimate benefit, though, is the ability to help your child afford a college education, despite the exponentially rising costs of doing so.

Other benefits with this savings plan for college are that there are no income or age restrictions or limitations. The accounts require little maintenance activity and they are quite flexible.

Chances are good that you have questions about 529 college savings plans and whether they are the right choice for your child’s educational needs. Consult us today to learn more about your college savings options and what a 529 plan can mean for your child’s future.

Tax Advantages of Donating Stock

Making donations to non-profit organizations is a great way to do good works in the community your dental practice serves. It can also be a huge tax advantage to small businesses – especially if you take advantage of one not so widely known option to double up on your tax benefits.

Donating appreciated stocks allows you a “double play” of sorts when it comes to tax advantages. You get to claim the appreciated value of the stocks you donate while claiming the tax benefit of that appreciated value without paying the taxes on the gains.

How is This Possible?

Tax deductions on charitable donations are equal to the fair market value of the donation. This means that when stocks are donated, the deduction businesses (or individuals, as the case may be) are able to claim for their taxes is the full value of the stock at current prices.

Combine that with the fact that donors do not have to recognize capital gains on donated properties that are investments, and you have the perfect pair for giving that gives back.

Other Benefits of Offering Stock as Gifts

Aside from the tax benefits, businesses and individuals alike, can appreciate other reasons for donating stocks as their giving. One primary consideration is that it preserves the organizations available cash to fill other needs.

Curious about what donating stocks can mean for your dental practice’s tax picture? Make sure you contact us to get more information as well as the pros and cons of this kind of gifting decision.

Do You Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit?

There are many requirements you must meet in order to qualify, but it may lower your tax bill.

Supporting a family can be difficult, not to mention expensive. Working families whose income is fairly low need all the help they can get with their income taxes.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) was put in place by Congress to provide relief for low-income families who may have trouble paying their tax bills.

Qualifying for the Credit
You may be eligible for the EITC if you have earned income, are not filing as married filing separate, and are claiming adjusted gross income within certain limits. Earned income would consist of:

  • Any wages, salaries, tips, and other taxable pay from an employer
  • Any union strike benefit payments
  • Long-term disability benefits paid to you before you reached minimum retirement age (between 55 and 57, depending on when you were born)
  • Net earnings from self-employment if you own a business, run a farm, are a minister or member of a religious order (these will have some special rules), or have income as a statutory employee

In addition to earned income, any investment income you received must be $3,350 or less for the year to qualify for the EITC.

Taking the Credit If You Have Children
The EITC was put in place to help those with children, so the amount of the credit will depend on the number of children you have. You can receive a credit if you do not have a qualifying child, but the credit is greater if you do. A qualifying child would be one who:

  • Is related to you in any way, except for someone who is a cousin
  • Lives with you for more than half the year
  • Did not file a joint return except for the sole purpose of getting a refund
  • Is younger than you, and is either younger than 19, or younger than 24 and a full-time student. Permanently and totally-disabled individuals do not have to meet the age standard

Taking the Credit If You Don’t Have Children
If you do not have a qualifying child, you can still get the credit. However, in addition to the rules mentioned previously, you will have had to have lived in the U.S. for over half the year, be between 25 and 65 years of age, and cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return.

The Form
In order to claim the credit you will need to file Schedule EIC. There are a few pieces of information we will need to complete this schedule, such as Social Security cards, birth dates, the previous year’s federal and state returns, and documentation of income (W-2s and 1099s, income and expense records, etc.).

That may sound like a lot of paperwork, but you’d need most of it to file your taxes anyway. If you think you may be eligible for the EITC, contact us to discuss your situation, and we will be glad to help you.