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Recent Tax Court decision could wreak ha

Glover v. Comm, a recent tax court decision, presents several issues to Merchant Mariners. Mr. Glover worked for Reinauer Transportation. His tugs pushed oil coastwise as far as Virginia. The tugs wou

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Recent Tax Court decision could wreak havoc on Mariners

State Taxes and Mariners

Suz asked this question So, what about if you live in one state (TN) and work as a merchant mariner in another state (HI), 45 days on/45 days off rotation? Do you pay HI state taxes, or does the payro

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State Taxes and Mariners

Mariner Tax Update January 2011

E-Filing alert! How many times have you read that mariners cannot E-File? How many websites have posted this. Year after year. And then all of a sudden preparers start proclaiming “mariners can

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Mariner Tax Update January 2011

Employee vs. Non-Employee LLC and S-Corp

I’ve been a client of yours for a few years now and I had a general tax question concerning my wife’s job status. She currently works full time for a marketing firm in “Deleted”

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Employee vs. Non-Employee LLC and S-Corp Planning for Mariners and their families

Maritime Tax Preparers and the Alternati

What they don’t want you to know… This video points out the tremendous effect of the AMT on merchant mariners. Seamen taking business deductions and offsets may very well be realizing litt

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Maritime Tax Preparers and the Alternative Minimum Tax

Do Mariners Pay State Taxes?

2
by on November 5, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Does Residence Determine Liability?

First, let’s start with the basics. If you weren’t working as a Merchant Seaman and you worked in a State, you would be liable for State income taxes to the state you worked in.

Say Billy is a plumber. He lives in Massachusetts and works in Rhode Island. He would file and pay taxes to Rhode Island as a non-resident.

Does Billy Get Taxed Twice Then?

Usually not. Your State of residence generally allows a credit for taxes paid to another State. There’s two instances where this could be an issue.

  1. You live in New Hampshire and work in Massachusetts. You would pay Massachusetts income taxes as a non-resident. You wouldn’t be able to deduct the taxes paid in New Hampshire as that State has NO income tax.
  2. You live in a State with a lower tax rate than the State you work in. Generally your credit can only equal the amount that would have been due in your State of residence.

Then why aren’t mariners taxed this way?

Understand it isn’t because you have a Z-Card. It is because of the nature of your employment. When we dive into USCS Section 46 we find a section that specifically addresses the State taxation of mariners.

(a) Withholding.– Wages due or accruing to a master or seaman on a vessel in the foreign, coastwise, intercoastal, interstate, or noncontiguous trade or an individual employed on a fishing vessel or any fish processing vessel may not be withheld under the tax laws of a State or a political subdivision of a State. However, this section does not prohibit withholding wages of a seaman on a vessel in the coastwise trade between ports in the same State if the withholding is under a voluntary agreement between the seaman and the employer of the seaman.

(b) Liability.–

(1) Limitation on jurisdiction to tax.– An individual to whom this subsection applies is not subject to the income tax laws of a State or political subdivision of a State, other than the State and political subdivision in which the individual resides, with respect to compensation for the performance of duties described in paragraph (2).
(2) Application.– This subsection applies to an individual–

(A) engaged on a vessel to perform assigned duties in more than one State as a pilot licensed under section 7101 of this title or licensed or authorized under the laws of a State; or
(B) who performs regularly-assigned duties while engaged as a master, officer, or crewman on a vessel operating on the navigable waters of more than one State.

So Mariners pay their State of residence?

Usually, yes. Foreign articles are rarely an issue. Coastal Voyages meet criteria as well. There’s a few instances where there can be an issue.

  1. You work on a harbor tug. It never leaves the harbor of a city. It is not engaged in interstate transport.
  2. You work on a ferry that never completes a foreign voyage and stays in one state.
  3. You work on a drill platform that does not constitute a foreign voyage.

By definition, these can cause issues in determining exemption from liability. Maritime professionals working in the Gulf of Mexico should also be aware that the Gulf Zone Opportunities Act may provide additional aid in obtaining specific tax status.

Long Term Care Insurance

0
by on November 5, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Choosing Long Term Care Insurance

I have many clients who have long term care insurance, and many who don’t.  From what I’ve seen, my clients with long term care insurance have many more options when it comes to choosing care and choosing where they live than my clients who don’t.  The New York Times has a recent article about how to choose a long term care insurance policy.
One of the first questions people always ask about long term care insurance is “how much does it cost.” The costs vary widely depending on the age you are when you obtain the policy, how much the policy will cover (they usually cover a certain dollar amount per day) and how long the policy will pay for care.  Other policies may give you a “bucket” of money and your coverage lasts until it is gone.
Long term care insurance covers things that traditional Medicare and health insurance don’t – medical care in the home, longer term care at a nursing home, and even pay for assisted living costs.
The time to start looking into policies is in your 50′s, since the premiums will be lower than if you start later, and there is less of a chance that you will suffer from a health problem that could cause your premiums to be extremely high or prevent you from getting coverage all together.
A long term care insurance policy will kick-in when the policy holder is unable to perform one or more activity of daily living (bathing, dressing, eating, walking).  Check your policy since they can vary in terms of how many ADLs you must be unable to perform before coverage will start.
Things to look for in a policy:

  • Where can the care be provided? Home, nursing home, assisted living.  Most people want flexible options.
  • What types of caregivers can be paid by the policy? The article recommends a policy that covers
  • “skilled, intermediate and custodial care,” which would include someone who could assist with laundry and meal preparation.
  • What illnesses are covered? Be sure that illnesses such as Alzheimer’s aren’t excluded from coverage, which was common in some of the older policies.  Read the list of exclusions on any policy before you buy it.
  • Does the policy provide inflation protection? What seems like adequate coverage now, may not be what you need in 20 or 30 years if it doesn’t keep up with inflation.

To control the costs of the policy, the article has the following tips:

Avoid lifetime benefits. Opt instead for a policy that covers a set amount of time, like four or five years, suggests Ms. Driscoll. The average nursing home stay is two to three years, she points out, and only 12 percent of patients live longer than five years once they enter.

Look for a policy that pays a monthly sum. Most policies specify a daily benefit — anywhere from $50 to $500. Recently insurers have begun using a monthly amount so you have the flexibility to receive more care on some days, when no family member is available, for example, and less care on others.

Consider a front-loaded policy. With these, you pay the entire cost of the premiums before you retire. You’ll pay more upfront, but payments will end just as your income decreases.

Look into cash benefit policies. Once benefit payments kick in, these policies will send you a regular cash payment, say $200 a week. Instead of filing claims for specific care (with specific requirements to qualify for coverage) you are free to use the payout however you see fit.

You may still pay the nursing home or home health care attendant with the money when the need arises. But you can also use the cash to pay a family member for care, pay travel expenses for a visiting relative and take care of other expenses that would not be reimbursed under a traditional policy. You’ll pay more for these policies, but some families find the extra flexibility is worth it.

Find a good agent. You’ll need someone who is experienced in long-term care, Ms. Driscoll says. This might be the same insurance agent who sold you your life and auto policy, or you may need to find a specialist. Either way, make sure the person fully understands your needs and is active enough to be selling at least a dozen policies a year.

Paying for in-home or nursing home care privately can often exhaust a person’s resources leaving them far fewer options when their funds run out.  By obtaining long term care insurance, a person often can remain in their home far longer than without the insurance, and make sure that a spouse or other family member doesn’t become impoverished by the cost of care.  In addition, many people find that it allows them to preserve assets to pass on to the next generation, and that it fits in well with their overall estate plan.

Understanding 529 Plans

2
by on November 5, 2010 at 2:04 pm

529 Plan Benefits in Massachusetts under the Pension Protection Act

College PlanningWhether you’re a parent with future educational obligations for young ones, or perhaps a loving aunt, uncle, grandparent, or stepparent, now more than ever 529 plans are an attractive tool for the escalating costs of education, as well as for income and estate planning purposes. This is because one of the hidden gems of the new Pension Protection Act of 2006 (signed into law on August 17, 2006) is a provision that makes permanent the income-tax-free growth of Section 529 plans used for qualified higher education expenses. Prior to this new law, these provisions would have expired December 31, 2010.

Planning Tip: The new Pension Protection Act makes permanent the income-tax- free growth of 529 plans, but only for withdrawals used for qualified higher education expenses. Funds used for other expenses are tax deferred (like an IRA) and subject to a 10% penalty.

Most wealth planning professionals (and clients for that matter) understand the value of investing in 529 plans. 529 plans are by far the most popular college savings vehicle, but they’ve just become even more popular. According to a recent survey, 54% of parents with young children who do not currently own a 529 account are more likely to open one now, due to the new law, and 36% who already own a 529 plan say they are now more likely to increase the amount they contribute to existing plans. And another recent survey confirmed that older clients may want to learn more about college savings.

Income Tax Benefits

While many clients understand the educational savings benefits, many do not understand the benefits of investing in 529 plans for income tax purposes. Just like with an IRA, the power of tax-deferred growth makes 529 plans worthwhile even if not used for educational expenses. The ability to frontload up to five years of annual exclusion gifts, or $60,000 per beneficiary ($120,000 per beneficiary for married couples), without paying gift tax creates the ability to grow a significant amount of money tax free. In addition, many states offer residents a state income tax deduction for an investment in their state’s 529 plan.

Planning Tip: Clients should consider an investment in a 529 plan even if it is not anticipated that the funds will be used for educational purposes. The income tax benefits alone of 529 plans make these very worthwhile investments.

Estate Planning Tax Benefits

529 plans are unique in that you can invest in a 529 plan, retain absolute control over the assets, and yet remove those assets from your estate for estate tax purposes. This type of control typically means that the asset would be subject to estate tax at a 46% rate (in 2006) at death, but not with a 529 plan. Thus, clients can invest up to $60,000 per beneficiary ($120,000 per beneficiary for married couples) without paying gift tax and, if the client lives for at least five years, all of these assets will not be subject to estate tax. More importantly for many clients, a 529 plan allows them to use the 529 plan assets in a financial emergency.

Planning Tip: Clients should also consider 529 plans for estate planning purposes to remove significant wealth from the estate tax while retaining the ability to use the assets in a financial emergency.

Educational Trusts

Many 529 plans permit a trust to be the owner and beneficiary of accounts set up under that states plan. A 529 plan combined with an Educational Trust may provide more flexibility to ensure that the 529 meets the client’s objectives by, for example, moving assets between siblings or providing a smooth transition should the client become incapacitated or die.
This combination of 529 plans and specially designed trusts can also provide divorce and creditor protections, even for those states’ 529 plans that do not provide their own asset protection; for example, to ensure that the 529 plan’s assets do not end up in the hands of a former son-in-law or daughter-in-law. And the client still retains the ability to use the funds in a financial emergency.

Planning Tip: Consider combining 529 plans with Educational Trusts to provide the greatest flexibility and to ensure that the 529 plan assets meet each client’s particular planning objectives.

Conclusion

Now more than ever, clients and attorneys should consider 529 plans for educational savings, income tax benefits and estate tax benefits; and when combined with a carefully-crafted Educational Trust, they will provide added flexibility to control this asset and to ensure that it meets your planning objectives.

Student Loan vs. Mortgage

0
by on November 4, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Should I keep my student loans or should I roll them into my existing mortgage? How much lower should my mortgage rate be for it to make a difference?

Usually this is a quick yes… If all the stars are right. If you were refinancing and were able to pay off a student loan, it’s probably a good idea.

Loan Factors

If rates aren’t hurt because of this and closing costs aren’t increased drastically you’re saving in the long run by lowering the effective interest rate.

Interest Spread

How much lower should the new rate be before you decide? Actually the rate could be higher and still be effectively less. ??? You are only allowed to deduct a maximum of $2,500 in student loan interest on your income tax return. You start to lose this deduction at $55,000 (single) and $110,000 (married). So a married couple earning $150,000 annually would not be able to deduct any student loan interest on their income tax return.

What is the cash value of the lost deduction?

It depends. Ironically, the folks you earn more are in higher tax brackets and would benefit more. If we assumed the married couple earning $150,000 is in the 25% tax bracket we can assume a 25% return on deduction if they were already itemized.

Let’s do an actual example -

Single Attorney Earns $120,000, and is in the 25% bracket after deductions. He has $100,000 in student loans at 6% for 15 years. Making things simpler we’ll apportion the interest evenly over the life of the loan.

The total interest paid would be approximately $51,894. That’s $3,459 a year (cheating for simplicity). 25% of that is $865.

So over the life of the loan the interest deduction would have been worth $12,974 (865*15 years)

That said – The cost of the Student Loan at 6% is $64,867 (interest plus the lost tax deductions)

If we had the same loan as a mortgage or equity loan at 7%, we’d pay $61,789 in interest. Essentially we maintain a financial advantage refinancing at a higher rate!

Financial Decision Making

This shoe doesn’t fit everyone perfectly. You should consult with your tax advisor to see how you fit into this equation. There are other factors that need to be weighed before making this decision. For example, refinancing and paying off student loans would not be wise if it raised the overall interest rate. You would end up paying a higher rate on the entire mortgage.

This is definitely something to put under consideration and mention to your tax planner.

Mariners off the IRS dirty dozen!

0
by on November 4, 2010 at 12:03 am

Uncle Sam’s Hitlist…

When will they mention the millions they lost on fraudulent home buyer credits? Probably after the election I’d say. Here’s their list for 2010…

Return Preparer Fraud

Dishonest return preparers can cause trouble for taxpayers who fall victim to their ploys. Such preparers derive financial gain by skimming a portion of their clients’ refunds, charging inflated fees for return preparation services and attracting new clients by promising refunds that are too good to be true. Taxpayers should choose carefully when hiring a tax preparer. Federal courts have issued injunctions ordering hundreds of individuals to cease preparing returns and promoting fraud, and the Department of Justice has filed complaints against dozens of others, which are pending in court.

To increase confidence in the tax system and improve compliance with the tax law, the IRS is implementing a number of steps for future filing seasons. These include a requirement that all paid tax return preparers register with the IRS and obtain a preparer tax identification number (PTIN), as well as both competency tests and ongoing continuing professional education for all paid tax return preparers except attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs) and enrolled agents. (more…)

in IRS Updates

Foreign Tax Payments

2
by on October 22, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Do Mariners write off Foreign taxes?

In these tight times we’re looking for any avenue available to rub two dimes together. I remember when I started shipping there were plenty of decent jobs available. Over the years, work has become tighter. More and more I see clients seeking employment under foreign flags, and or on foreign rigs.

Some Countries require that you pay income taxes

I’ll use Brazil as an example – Under the Brazilian tax law, foreigners working with offshore work visas only have to pay personal income tax (imposto de renda )after having physically been more than 184 days in Brazil. For employees working offshore this takes roughly 1 year, 6 months (=184 days) in Brazil and 6 months outside.

This means if you’re working offshore past that time period you owe Brazil. How does that affect you as a US taxpayer? Are you simply going to be taxes by two countries and not be able to offset either return? Let’s run a few what ifs…

You are required to pay and have paid Brazil $20,000 in income taxes

Section 901 of the Internal Revenue Code states -

(a) Allowance of credit

If the taxpayer chooses to have the benefits of this subpart, the tax imposed by this chapter shall, subject to the limitation of section 904, be credited with the amounts provided in the applicable paragraph of subsection (b) plus, in the case of a corporation, the taxes deemed to have been paid under sections 902 and 960. Such choice for any taxable year may be made or changed at any time before the expiration of the period prescribed for making a claim for credit or refund of the tax imposed by this chapter for such taxable year. The credit shall not be allowed against any tax treated as a tax not imposed by this chapter under section 26 (b).
You’ll probably be able to take a foreign tax credit for the taxes paid. The biggest restriction is that the credit cannot exceed how much you would have owed on the same income in the US.
Things you’ll need -
  • Proof you were working
  • Proof you owed the tax
  • Proof showing how much income was taxed (important and I have seen this overlooked)

You were required to pay and have not paid Brazil $20,000 in income taxes

This is something I am seeing quite a bit of. It isn’t that mariners aren’t paying the taxes due to the foreign country. It’s that the employer is paying the foreign taxes on behalf of the employee. There are two instances of this that appear to be most prominent.

  • Company pays foreign tax due on behalf of the mariner and requires no compensation
  • Company pays foreign tax due on behalf of the mariner and includes it as income on their W-2

What are the requirements for the credit?

The magic language in the Code is “Paid or Accrued”… The internal revenue service states that -

  1. The tax must be imposed on you
  2. You must have paid or accrued the tax
  3. The tax must be the legal and actual foreign tax liability
  4. The tax must be an income tax (or a tax in lieu of an income tax)

http://www.irs.gov/businesses/article/0,,id=183263,00.html

Generally speaking, we’re not encountering issues with parts 1, 3, and 4. It’s the paid or accrued concept… If we don’t pay the amount due personally, can we still be eligible for the foreign tax credit? If it is included as income on our W-2 can we still take the foreign tax credit?

Disclaimer!

A little CYA… Just because a tax position holds water doesn’t mean that you won’t be audited. It also doesn’t mean you will win an audit. Many tax positions, though valid, are dismissed in audit and appeals. The taxpayer is forced to litigate the issue. This can be a costly venture.

Where were we…

The courts have historically shown a strong emphasis on the “liable” portion. There have been many cases over the years where the courts have restated that the taxpayer need be “legally liable” to the tax in question to be eligible for the foreign tax credit. (Riggs v. Comm, Amoco v. Comm, Guardian v. US, Gleason Works v. Comm, Nissho Iwai American Corp v. Comm) The courts also demonstrate the requirement to document liability for the actual tax in question (Wilcox v. Comm)

It seems from the common law that it is irrelevant who pays the tax due… What is relevant is who was liable. That said, taxes paid reported as income may make the transaction seem more concrete but do not seem to be a requirement. The fact that you owed the tax and it was paid has generally been the test from the Court’s perspective….

See Disclaimer above again. There are no guarantees. This is a risky position. Not because of law. Because of the amount of possible revenues that could be collected on audit. A $20,000 credit is a sizable amount. I would assume it would not go overlooked…

Aren’t I even if it’s on my W-2 and I take the credit?

No, you’re way ahead of the game. W-2 income is taxed at your Marginal Tax Rate, say 25%. So $20,000 in income would cost $5,000 in taxes. With the credit you’re still up by $15,000.

That doesn’t seem right… Does this happen elsewhere?

Yes… If you own stocks and receive dividend statements you may have noticed foreign taxes paid as a reporting line. Some mutual funds pass on the proportionate tax payment to you as the shareholder although you never physically paid the tax due.

The most common instance is with mortgages and interest deductions. It doesn’t matter who paid the interest. It matters who is liable (who is on the deed). That is the person who gets the deduction for interest paid. Even though Auntie Sally made the payments.

Summary – plan for rain

This is a fair and valuable tax position. It should be carefully considered. You should make sure to have all necessary documentation before taking this position (especially the amount of income that the foreign taxes were paid on)…. You should try to get it on a corporate report. How many times have we left a company and needed documentation down the line, only to discover they were not very accommodating? And remember, no guarantees. If you’re audited, plan on losing. Remember attorney’s fees generally start at around $5,000 for this type of venture.

Integrated Financial Partners – HOT TOPIC: Risks of Relying on Social Security

0
by on October 18, 2010 at 1:43 am

Consider the Risks of Relying on Social Security

The 58 million Americans who currently receive Social Security benefits will not receive a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2011. This is the second consecutive year in which payments were frozen because the Consumer Price Index measured little or no inflation.1

Although the decision to freeze benefits in 2011 is not directly related to the social insurance program’s projected funding shortfall, consider it a lesson in the risk of relying too heavily on a program that has a potentially uncertain future. Millions of Americans who rely on Social Security just found out that they won’t receive an anticipated benefit increase — and they learned this only a few months in advance, too late for them to do much about it.

Given that nothing like this has happened before, the disappointment among Social Security beneficiaries may have been compounded by an element of surprise: 2010 was the first year since 1975, when Social Security instituted automatic COLAs tied to the rate of inflation, in which benefits did not increase year-over-year.2 It’s likely that many retirees believed that the lack of a COLA in 2010 meant that one would be virtually guaranteed in 2011 because it would be unheard of for the government to go two years without increasing benefits. But that is exactly what has happened.

Going forward, it might be prudent to expect more surprises from Social Security. The program’s already fragile situation has deteriorated further in the face of widespread unemployment and a significant reduction in the payroll tax receipts that fund the government’s largest program. The Congressional Budget Office now expects that in 2010, Social Security outlays will exceed tax revenues for the first time since Social Security was amended in 1983. Although the CBO expects that revenues will generally equal outlays over the next few years, growing numbers of retiring baby boomers will eventually overwhelm the system and cause outlays to regularly exceed tax revenues by 2016. The CBO also projects that Social Security’s so-called trust funds, which are actually IOUs issued by Congress for borrowing Social Security’s surplus revenues in years past, will be exhausted by 2039 if no changes are made to current laws.3

What if It Happened to You?

Imagine what your own financial situation might look like if Social Security announced shortly before your anticipated retirement date that, because of underfunding, it would cut benefits and raise eligibility requirements.

Although these measures have not been adopted, it’s worth noting that they are being considered. The Congressional Budget Office has studied policy options that include reducing benefits, raising the retirement age, limiting future COLAs, and increasing payroll taxes.4 Because there is little consensus among lawmakers or the public, a solution reached by political negotiation could combine several different measures.

Fortunately, Social Security’s precarious financial situation has not gone unnoticed. Seventy-seven percent of Americans now believe the enormous cost associated with entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare will eventually create major economic problems for the nation if they are left unchecked.5 Fifty-six percent of retirees believe they will eventually suffer a cut in their benefits, and 60% of workers have expressed doubt they will ever receive Social Security payments.6

It seems clear that, at the very least, Social Security will not be able survive without making some adjustments. The good news is that you are already aware of the likelihood, so it might be wise to prepare for your own retirement on the assumption that Social Security won’t be able to provide the same level of benefits that you might currently be expecting. Better to make such an assumption now, and begin seeking ways to offset the potential shortfall, than wait until it’s too late to do anything about it.

via Integrated Financial Partners – HOT TOPIC: Consider the Risks of Relying on Social Security : Newsletter: HOT TOPIC: Consider the Risks of Relying on Social Security.

Medical Deductions, Fertility Treatment, and FSA Alternatives

1
by on October 12, 2010 at 12:25 am

Should I Save My Medical Receipts?

Quick answer – hopefully not! Medical expenses have to exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income (AGI) before they have the ability to start counting.

If your AGI was $100,000, you would need $7,500 in medical expenses before you could take a tax deduction. KEEP IN MIND – this doesn’t mean you will be deducting the entire amount. Only the amount that EXCEEDS the limitation. So in this case, medical deductions totaling $7,501 would allow a $1 deduction.

When are deductions likely?

  • On a very low income year. Ironically, income would probably be so low that you wouldn’t recognize a substantial benefit.

A low income year can lower the AGI threshold. AKA 7.5% of $20,000 is $1,500. This is a much easier amount to surpass. When examining disabled and elderly taxpayers, remember some income is not used in arriving at AGI – certain amounts of Social Security, disability, etc…

  • Taxpayers do not have medical insurance

A very tricky situation. If I was personally not paying expenses, this would be my last to go. If you are in this situation where you cannot afford insurance you should check with your State to see what assistance programs they may have available. More and more States are requiring all residents to maintain adequate health insurance. They have programs that provide assistance for those who cannot afford it on their own.

If you’re on unemployment, you should also check to see if there are cobra or other medical insurance subsistence programs available.

  • Taxpayers incur a substantial amount of uninsured medical expenses within a year

Generally these are elective surgeries or similar. A common high level expense is fertility treatments. Bills can pile up in the tens of thousands. Most medical insurance programs do not cover these expenses. This is one scenario where you may be able to recognize a medical deduction within a high income year…

Tips and tricks

  • Remember – a big stack of bills does not mean you have a deductible medical expense. It means you have bills you haven’t paid. Unless you have paid the expenses or have a secured loan they will most likely not be deductible.
  • A surrogate is not a medical expense. This is becoming more common these days. A surrogate mother will carry a child to term. Since the surrogate did not have an ailment (she was able to bear children) it is not deductible.

Best financial medical defense is the FSA

If you know you are going to incur substantial medical expenses (your deductible is $3,000 and you’re going to have a baby that year) use your FSA. An FSA (flexible spending account) allows you to set aside earned income to cover certain medical expenses. This income circumvents Federal, State, Social Security, and Medicare taxes. This is a huge benefit! My average client saves 30-35 cents on a dollar with their FSA

Keep in mind that FSA’s are a use it or lose it system. If you haven’t spent the money by the end of the allocated expense period you lose it. So never allocate more than you’re certain you’ll spend. As FSA rules and regs become more lax, there are more and more items that they can be used to purchase. OTC drugs, acupuncture, perhaps reiki. Look to your plan provider regarding availability and allowable expenses. Federal regs give the individual employers a great deal of leeway in administering the plans.

Home Ownership Advantages

0
by on October 3, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Should Mariners Buy A House?

Jim gives a quick overview of the tax advantages of home ownership.

Don’t forget that these benefits aren’t just from a primary residence. Investment properties have the same properties in general.

Investment properties are not the same as rental properties. Be sure to check out our articles examining the cost benefit of rentals and how they differ from other properties.

Sailors want a fair shake

0
by on September 26, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Tax Planning Never Goes Out of Style!

If there is one common trait we all share it is in taxation. There’s rarely a movement “by the people… for the people” to increase taxes. We occasionally feel cheated and wronged. We voice our outrage when we discover officials trusted with our hard earned tax dollars have squandered them away. We stand dumbfounded when businesses responsible for catastrophic economic downturns are fronted billions… of which they hand out bonuses.

We’re okay with a “fair share”

In my experience, mariners are generally content in paying taxes. Most see it as a civic duty. I’m not saying they run into my office dancing for joy at the possibility of owing Uncle Sam another mortgage payment. Only that they accept it as a part of citizenship. But we also share another common trait. No one wants to pay more than their fair share. (more…)